My attempt to define the moral landscape
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21-10-2014, 08:10 PM
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
(21-10-2014 07:25 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  But we don't live in a vacuum, so while this may indeed be true, the 1st party has to account for the 3rd party's moral beliefs.
Sure, I think it is wise to consider the consequences of your actions, to think about how others will react to them and how that reaction might then impact your own future.
But I think we are extending beyond the moral landscape here. We are not merely thinking about right and wrong, and what I should do in the context of right and wrong.


So if morality is a judgement that only the actor can make of the choices and actions they themselves have made or are about to make, then really there are no "oughts" or "shoulds" in the context of morality that they can expect of others. This knocks out item 5 from my OP.
Normative statements can only apply to the self. Also public claims such as "You can't do that because that's immoral!" can't really be made. At best you can only claim "I wouldn't do that because that goes against my own personal values"
Which is a much weaker and more tolerant stance.


Having a belief that a society has a moral standard is a massive generalisation. A society is made up of individuals, each with their own opinions and beliefs. Sure we interact with each other and potentially influence each other, meaning that we might be more likely to be aligned. But society isn't a person capable of having moral beliefs and capable of making choices and judging itself.
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22-10-2014, 10:17 AM (This post was last modified: 22-10-2014 12:47 PM by TreeSapNest.)
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
(21-10-2014 08:10 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Normative statements can only apply to the self. Also public claims such as "You can't do that because that's immoral!" can't really be made.

Ergo, all moral statements are false.

Right and wrong, moral and immoral, imply a universal directive. A directive that does not exist. It doesn't change that we all have imperatives; Dos and don'ts that are important to us and most others alike. I stick with "you/we should or shouldn't do it". Or "that's good or that's bad." They (I hope) express imperative rather than directive.
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23-10-2014, 10:27 AM
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
No need to "attempt" to write morals down. The easiest thing to do is to understand that our evolution is why we can be both cruel and compassionate. What drives us to group is cooperation, what drives us to be cruel is a battle over resources. Our species invents political parties and or religion to make excuses to claim moral superiority. It creates order for the group. The downside is that it also pits competing groups against each other.

The only moral GUIDE worthy of considering is to never forget that we are not a separate species. You forget that you are one species in evolution and stupidly think you are above evolution, you can repeat that cruelty and at the same time mistake it as morality.

Our narcissism is our species worst enemy. It provides the drive to group but it also divides based on that grouping. The most important thing humans can learn, accept and remember is that we will always be capable of the same range of cruelty and compassion.

Attempting to write down morals as if they should never be questioned sets humans up to be dogmatic more often than introspection and ability to adapt. We have things in common outside our artificial labels. We all want food, shelter, a means to survive, companionship, and to live without fear from harm from others.

You will not get rid of differences on a planet of 7 billion, but you can work to shift the priorities to our common existence and way from our tribalism and put those differences on the back burner.

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23-10-2014, 11:20 AM
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
Immediately I suppose I'd need a definition of what it means for a choice to be "freely made", and then necessarily what constitutes "coercion"...

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23-10-2014, 12:27 PM
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
(23-10-2014 11:20 AM)cjlr Wrote:  Immediately I suppose I'd need a definition of what it means for a choice to be "freely made", and then necessarily what constitutes "coercion"...
Yip, if you realise that we have no free will, that we are merely biochemical machines acting out the forces of nature (electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear, gravity?) then we really have no choices and thus cannot be held morally accountable. Even if you believed in a god and believed that god created your soul, how can you personally be held morally accountable when you had been give a "bad" soul?

But for those prone to believe in free will they may consider coercion as being under undue force i.e. at gun point, or starving to death etc
e.g. A friend loans me his laptop, I then give it away to a stranger. My friend might consider my actions as immoral, akin to theft. But if I told him that I had no choice, that the stranger had a gun pointed at me, then my friend isn't likely to consider my action as immoral.
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23-10-2014, 02:08 PM
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
(23-10-2014 12:27 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(23-10-2014 11:20 AM)cjlr Wrote:  Immediately I suppose I'd need a definition of what it means for a choice to be "freely made", and then necessarily what constitutes "coercion"...
Yip, if you realise that we have no free will, that we are merely biochemical machines acting out the forces of nature (electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear, gravity?) then we really have no choices and thus cannot be held morally accountable. Even if you believed in a god and believed that god created your soul, how can you personally be held morally accountable when you had been give a "bad" soul?

But for those prone to believe in free will they may consider coercion as being under undue force i.e. at gun point, or starving to death etc
e.g. A friend loans me his laptop, I then give it away to a stranger. My friend might consider my actions as immoral, akin to theft. But if I told him that I had no choice, that the stranger had a gun pointed at me, then my friend isn't likely to consider my action as immoral.

I am not saying "no free will lol, dunt matter".

It is particularly coercion that is the problem there. Does a feeling of moral obligation constitute coercion? Does implicit threat? Even if only of social consequences? The vacuously prototypical answer is "a man with a gun in your face", but that's so obviously inadequate...

I mean, you'd still have to define "force", much less "undue".

I could go so far as to say what one considers undue force is dependent on what considers the right or wrong amount, thus constituting a moral consideration...

To a degree it simply comes back to how our brains are wired, and the inevitable statistical variation thereof.

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23-10-2014, 02:32 PM
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
(23-10-2014 02:08 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I am not saying "no free will lol, dunt matter".

It is particularly coercion that is the problem there. Does a feeling of moral obligation constitute coercion? Does implicit threat? Even if only of social consequences? The vacuously prototypical answer is "a man with a gun in your face", but that's so obviously inadequate...

I mean, you'd still have to define "force", much less "undue".

I could go so far as to say what one considers undue force is dependent on what considers the right or wrong amount, thus constituting a moral consideration...

To a degree it simply comes back to how our brains are wired, and the inevitable statistical variation thereof.
The gun in the face example is a great example (although extreme) because it clearly shows that most people would consider being under this level of coercion that the actor's actions are not qualified for moral judgement. It shows that coercion is significant with regards to moral judgements.

I think I've shown successfully that moral judgement can really only be a self evaluation. So with regards to definition of free will or coertion or force or undue force, it's really upto the actor to make that judgement for themselves and add that to the mix in their own decision making process as to what choices and actions to make. Or in reflection of past choices whether that person wants to consider whether they should feel guilt or not.
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23-10-2014, 02:41 PM
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
(21-10-2014 04:00 PM)Stevil Wrote:  My stab at defining morality is as per below
...

Pah! That's just your subjective opinion... relatively speaking.

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23-10-2014, 03:52 PM
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
(23-10-2014 02:32 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(23-10-2014 02:08 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I am not saying "no free will lol, dunt matter".

It is particularly coercion that is the problem there. Does a feeling of moral obligation constitute coercion? Does implicit threat? Even if only of social consequences? The vacuously prototypical answer is "a man with a gun in your face", but that's so obviously inadequate...

I mean, you'd still have to define "force", much less "undue".

I could go so far as to say what one considers undue force is dependent on what considers the right or wrong amount, thus constituting a moral consideration...

To a degree it simply comes back to how our brains are wired, and the inevitable statistical variation thereof.
The gun in the face example is a great example (although extreme) because it clearly shows that most people would consider being under this level of coercion that the actor's actions are not qualified for moral judgement. It shows that coercion is significant with regards to moral judgements.

It's a terrible example.

Congratulating ourselves for finding easily identifiable endpoints doesn't help clear up the intervening cases in the slightest.

(23-10-2014 02:32 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I think I've shown successfully that moral judgement can really only be a self evaluation.

You've done no such thing; it's not even a coherent supposition.

By what possible means can you tell people not to apply their own moral reasoning to other situations they witness? That's an inevitable consequences of their having standards at all!

(23-10-2014 02:32 PM)Stevil Wrote:  So with regards to definition of free will or coertion or force or undue force, it's really upto the actor to make that judgement for themselves and add that to the mix in their own decision making process as to what choices and actions to make. Or in reflection of past choices whether that person wants to consider whether they should feel guilt or not.

I agree with you that "it's all subjective" is the inevitable conclusion, but I fail to see where that leads us.

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23-10-2014, 04:16 PM (This post was last modified: 23-10-2014 04:25 PM by Stevil.)
RE: My attempt to define the moral landscape
(23-10-2014 03:52 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(23-10-2014 02:32 PM)Stevil Wrote:  The gun in the face example is a great example (although extreme) because it clearly shows that most people would consider being under this level of coercion that the actor's actions are not qualified for moral judgement. It shows that coercion is significant with regards to moral judgements.

It's a terrible example.

Congratulating ourselves for finding easily identifiable endpoints doesn't help clear up the intervening cases in the slightest.
I'm not congratulating myself that's a mischaracterisation.
I have merely shown that "choice" is a necessary qualifier in assessing whether an event is a potential moral event. If there is no choice then the even isn't a moral event.
That is all the example is meant to establish. It is not mean to approach the topic of clarifying "intervening cases".
(23-10-2014 03:52 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(23-10-2014 02:32 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I think I've shown successfully that moral judgement can really only be a self evaluation.

You've done no such thing; it's not even a coherent supposition.

By what possible means can you tell people not to apply their own moral reasoning to other situations they witness? That's an inevitable consequences of their having standards at all!
Maybe you missed [or disagreed with the prior statements]
We don't judge a burying beetle as behaving immorally when it eats its offspring because we recognise that the burying beetle does not know that it is wrong to eat its offspring.
A qualifier for a moral event is that the actor must have knowledge of right and wrong, must be making a choice between right and wrong.
If you agree with these things, then how can you make a moral judgement of an event that an actor (other than yourself) has made, when you don't know what the beliefs of the actor are?
(23-10-2014 03:52 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(23-10-2014 02:32 PM)Stevil Wrote:  So with regards to definition of free will or coertion or force or undue force, it's really upto the actor to make that judgement for themselves and add that to the mix in their own decision making process as to what choices and actions to make. Or in reflection of past choices whether that person wants to consider whether they should feel guilt or not.

I agree with you that "it's all subjective" is the inevitable conclusion, but I fail to see where that leads us.
It leads us to the point where we cannot make moral judgement as to the actions of others.
If we don't know their moral beliefs, we cannot assess that they knowingly and willingly choose wrong over right by their own definition.
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