Naturalism = Nihilism?
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27-07-2014, 01:03 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(27-07-2014 12:24 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  Yes consciousness exists. I never said consciousness was physical. It is not an entity. It does however possess an identity, a specific nature. Existence is identity. Numbers and shapes are concepts and concepts exist possessing identity as well even though they aren't physical. All knowledge is conceptual in nature. Are you going to say that knowledge doesn't exist because it is not physical. Are you going to say that cognition doesn't exist?
In your definition of existence can you please provide an example of something that does not exist. This may help me to distinguish existence vs non existence under your definition.
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27-07-2014, 01:31 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(27-07-2014 01:03 AM)Stevil Wrote:  
(27-07-2014 12:24 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  Yes consciousness exists. I never said consciousness was physical. It is not an entity. It does however possess an identity, a specific nature. Existence is identity. Numbers and shapes are concepts and concepts exist possessing identity as well even though they aren't physical. All knowledge is conceptual in nature. Are you going to say that knowledge doesn't exist because it is not physical. Are you going to say that cognition doesn't exist?
In your definition of existence can you please provide an example of something that does not exist. This may help me to distinguish existence vs non existence under your definition.

I can in fact. A nothing which possesses no identity. To exist is to possess an identity. A thing is this thing as opposed to that thing. Nothing is opposed to nothing and relates to nothing and can not be described except as a negation.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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27-07-2014, 01:39 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
The question I am still asking is for the self proclaimed moral nihilist's who say:"you should still do right to others, and avoid doing wrong... because of empethy, guilt ect."



My question is why...?



Why let arbitrary feelings/notions of moral duty dictate what is in my best interest?

How exactly do these subjective feelings help me in the real objective world?

Would not just cold, empirical, rationality work better??


I don't understand how anyone can be saying "that the notion that any action is intrinsically right/wrong is an illusion"..While saying "that our feelings(which stem from this false belief system) are still relevant/useful"..
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27-07-2014, 02:01 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(27-07-2014 01:31 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  
(27-07-2014 01:03 AM)Stevil Wrote:  In your definition of existence can you please provide an example of something that does not exist. This may help me to distinguish existence vs non existence under your definition.

I can in fact. A nothing which possesses no identity. To exist is to possess an identity. A thing is this thing as opposed to that thing. Nothing is opposed to nothing and relates to nothing and can not be described except as a negation.
A nothing! Really?

You can't cite any of the following can you?
Tinkerbell the fairy
Bigfoot the hairy monster
Locness the sea serpent
Matilda the witch
Madussa the wench with the snake hair
YHWH the god of smite and imaginative ways to kill people
Santa Claus, the bearer of gifts

Because they, of course, exist, having possession of identity.

Can you suggest something else other than a NOTHING, that doesn't exist?
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27-07-2014, 03:56 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(27-07-2014 12:27 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  @RobbyPants

you keep saying I should follow "morality"...
but at the end of the day, your notion of "morality" is nothing more than just "act upon your self-interest"!

You can't just answer my question "why should one act morally?"(fairly), by just redefining morality to mean "act in your own self interest"
- In the way almost everyone uses the word....."Morality" is the opposite of "act in your own self interest",

Morality is not the opposite of self-interest. Many people mistake self-interest with self-destructive-behavior. And I don't mean that you shouldn't rob a bank because you risk being caught and sent to prison. Law enforcement is a manifestation of our morality, not the source. For non-psychopaths, an immoral act is that which causes mental discomfort (a moral act is that which causes mental comfort - pleasure, if you will). Just like an unhealthy act is that which causes bodily discomfort.

In this sense, sense of morality is no different than sense of aesthetics. A "bad" piece of music is one that causes auditory discomfort, while "good" music is that which causes pleasure. There is no deeper or universal meaning to aesthetics. Trying to find a deep meaning that doesn't exist, and sliding all the way to aesthetic nihilism when you cannot, is not sensible. That said, one difference with morality and aesthetics is that shared morality is more essential to our social life than shared aesthetics. We can live with minor differences in aesthetics, but don't make the mistake of assuming there's a vast difference either: Try piling up some garbage in your front lawn and throw some paint over your house to see how fast your neighbors start complaining, and the city comes after you. We actually a share a huge deal of aesthetics, just like morality, within our societies.

There is no "universal" code of health either, different organisms function in different environments and ingest different chemicals to live, some that would even be lethal to others. Likewise, animals that live with different social structures will have different behaviors that are desirable or undesirable for their personal well being. Humans have a very complex, hardly perfect, social structure, and hence complex and imperfect moral systems.

Ultimately, most of our morality derives from a reason as mundane as being wired for it, at least the foundation for it, having evolved as a social animal. The specifics are of course learned from society that you are brought up in. But in the end, there exists sets of behaviors that gives us lasting mental pleasure, not just immediate bodily gratification, and there are sets of behaviors that gives us lasting mental anguish. A mental hedonist has to but be moral. On the other hand, if kicking a puppy or spitting on a homeless gives you pleasure, no amount of rational arguments will convince you otherwise, it's how your brain works (probably due to some chemical imbalance). That doesn't mean OTHER people won't take mental pleasure from preventing you from, or punishing you for, doing those things. Conversely, if you are fairly normal, and it gives you mental anguish to cause harm to others, no amount of "carrying atheistic morality to its nihilistic conclusion" will prevent you feeling that mental discomfort when you do. That's an academic, and fairly pointless journey. Our morality deep down is not based on reason (our compromises, establishments are), so it cannot be eliminated by reason. Our morality is just is, part of our nature, no more or less basic than thirst, hunger or sexual drive.
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27-07-2014, 04:59 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(27-07-2014 01:39 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  The question I am still asking is for the self proclaimed moral nihilist's who say:"you should still do right to others, and avoid doing wrong... because of empethy, guilt ect."



My question is why...?



Why let arbitrary feelings/notions of moral duty dictate what is in my best interest?

How exactly do these subjective feelings help me in the real objective world?

Would not just cold, empirical, rationality work better??
Because these "feelings/notions of moral duty" are no truly "arbitrary". Nor are your feelings on morality truly "subjective".

(In case you missed this beforeSmile
Edward Westermarck wrote the following in 1906 concerning the origin of moral values:
"The objectivity ascribed to judgements which arise from our unconscience as intuitive knowledge comes from the similarity of the mental constitution of men."

Technically, they are not objective, but they FEEL that way.

He also wrote:"Our moral consciousness is part of our subconscience, which we cannot change as we please. We approve or disapprove because we cannot do otherwise. "

This makes them different from truly subjective choices.

Also: "Owing to their exceptional importance for human welfare, the facts of the moral consciousness are emphasied in much higher degree than would be ordinary subjective facts."

Moral choices differ from picking your favorite flavor of ice cream, for example.

Also: "As clearness and distinctness of the conception of an object easily produces the belief in it's truth, so the intensity of a moral emotion makes him who feels it disposed to objectivize the moral estimate to which it gives rise, in other words, to assign to it universal validity."

And: "There are different degrees of badness and goodness, a duty may be more or less stringent, and merit may be smaller or greater. These quantitative differences are due to the emotional origin of basic moral concepts. "

So, moral values originate within yourself. They are accompanied by strong, involuntary emotions which you cannot change nor ignore. This is why they are not merely subjective, yet not really objective (as in existing outside yourself) either.
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27-07-2014, 05:33 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
From what you described, our so called "morality" is just arbitrary and subjective...
just because you say our morals can't be changed(which isn't true by the way - some people change there morals like they change their shirt...) does not make them "objective"...atleast, not in the sense that I am talking about!
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27-07-2014, 05:51 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(27-07-2014 12:27 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  you keep saying I should follow "morality"...
but at the end of the day, your notion of "morality" is nothing more than just "act upon your self-interest"!

Morality doesn't exist. Our notion of it is arbitrary. I think I've said this, something like, four times now...


(27-07-2014 12:27 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  You can't just answer my question "why should one act morally?"(fairly), by just redefining morality to mean "act in your own self interest"

Protip: pretty much anything you do will, in some way or another, will be self-serving. You're operating under a religious definition of the word morality, and that (barring some evidence that hasn't been presented) doesn't exist.

People talk about morality, but it doesn't exist. Even when they think it does, what it is, is ultimately arbitrary and very fluid. It exists only in our subjective evaluation of it and the surrounding circumstances.


(27-07-2014 12:27 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  - In the way almost everyone uses the word....."Morality" is the opposite of "act in your own self interest",

Almost everyone in the country I live in believe in God. I'm not worried with what "almost everyone" does when trying to figure out if something is correct. Argument from popularity, and all...

You may note that in my first post in this thread, I was already using the term subjective morality. Even those who believe in objective morality recognize the difference. I can't help what other people say.


(27-07-2014 12:27 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  You can argue that there is no difference between these, and that altruism-egoism is a false dichotomy.... which you have done
but then you keep trying to tell me that there is a difference?

Where did I say there was a difference. You are the one who keeps asking why you should act one way instead of another. I am the one who is saying that they are both, in some way, self-serving.
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27-07-2014, 06:04 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
(27-07-2014 05:33 AM)nietzsche101 Wrote:  From what you described, our so called "morality" is just arbitrary and subjective...
just because you say our morals can't be changed(which isn't true by the way - some people change there morals like they change their shirt...) does not make them "objective"...atleast, not in the sense that I am talking about!

I understand that and I agree that they are not objective as in, 'existing outside ourself'.
Look at it this way, in the Craig video you linked to he belittles the idea that morals are based on our feelings and insists they are objective. If that's the case, then we should be able to program a machine to act with perfect morality (machines having no feelings to interfere with objective moral rules). Does that sound reasonable to you?

The fact is, William Lane Craig doesn't believe in objective moral values as he defines them. Dr. Craig's famous argument goes like this:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
He defines objective moral values like this: "To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so. "
We may safely replace the definition of a word for the word itself without altering the meaning of a sentence. Let's do so now to clarify the argument:
1. If God does not exist, values and duties independent from what anyone believes do not exist.
2. Values and duties independent from what anyone believes do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

I take issue with #2. It is not self-evident that values and duties independent from what anyone believes do exist. Since every example of OMV Dr. Craig uses (Nazis, murder, rape, torturing babies for fun, etc...) is in agreement with what everyone believes, I submit that they are not independent from human belief.
Therefore, I submit the following argument:
1. If God does not exist, values and duties independent from what anyone believes do not exist.
2. Values and duties are not independent from what anyone believes. They exist by consensus of belief.
3. Therefore, the existence of values and duties has no bearing on the existence of God.
Dr. Craig goes on to explain, " It is to say, for example, that Nazi anti-Semitism was morally wrong, even though the Nazis who carried out the Holocaust thought that it was good; and it would still be wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in exterminating or brainwashing everybody who disagreed with them."
Note that Dr. Craig has chosen an example of near universal agreement. How is it that Dr. Craig knows that the Nazis were objectively wrong? Isn't it because everyone agrees with him? This merely endorses his opinion that the consensus view is objectively true. But he's just said that what we believe (individually, collectively, or universally) is irrelevant to the actual truth of the matter. Why rely on the consensus view to support your claim of objectivity? Is it just his intuition?

Suppose Dr. Craig's scenerio actually happened and everyone was brainwashed. Assuming a good brainwashing leaves no trace of your former beliefs and no memory of being changed, what position would Dr. Craig hold in this post-brainwashed world? Would he not point to what everyone (now) knows as evidence for the Nazis being objectively right? What makes the consensus view objectively right before we're all brainwashed, but objectively wrong after we're all brainwashed? According to Dr. Craig's definition, where our beliefs are irrelevant, isn't it entirely possible that our near universal beliefs were entirely wrong beforehand and the act of brainwashing simply put us onto the objective truth? Does Dr. Craig think his intuition remains unchanged after being brainwashed?
If Dr. Craig believes his own argument (values and duties independent from what anyone believes do exist) then why doesn't he provide an example? He's had opportunities to do so, yet he never appeals to his own argument.
For example, when asked about the Canaanite genocide that God ordered, Dr. Craig could simply reply that that was the objectively right thing to do even though we all believe it was wrong. But he doesn't. Instead, he abandons all objective morality and cites many other, subjective moral theories (ones he supposedly rejects). These include cultural differences ("our moral sensibilities in the West"), upbringing ("shaped by our Judaeo-Christian heritage, which has taught us..."), and consequentialism ("the death of these children was actually their salvation"). All of these reasons indicate someone who believes in the subjective nature of moral values rooted in what we all collectively believe about them.
The same is true when confronted with the problem of evil. Dr. Craig could say that we may perceive evil in this world, but we're all wrong and it's all objectively good. But he doesn't. Instead he jumps right back on the subjectivist bandwagon and becomes a consequentialist when he says:
"what I am simply saying is that God's aims in this life, in this world, are for a maximum number of people to come to know God and His salvation as fully as possible. And it is possible that that would not be achieved in a world that did not involve as much suffering and evil as this world does. Far from being counter-intuitive, I find that very plausible. In fact, I have recently done a study, using a missions handbook, of nations of the world in which there has been intense suffering, and what I found over and over again is that it is in precisely those nations that evangelical Christianity is experiencing its most rapid and sustained growth."
So, in his mind, it's not that what we perceive as evil is actually an objective good. We're right again and it's really evil, but it's just a means to a greater good.
It is not self-evident that values and duties independent from what anyone believes do exist. Dr. Craig never provides an example of such independent values and duties. No one has ever provided evidence of independent values and duties that differ from human belief. And Dr. Craig refuses to use his own argument when the opportunity arises. Therefore, I submit that Dr. Craig doesn't believe in objective moral values, that is, values and duties independent from what anyone believes.
So here's the challenge to any objective moralist who agrees with Craig's definition: give me one example of an objective good that everyone believes is wrong.
But perhaps I'm being unfair. Suppose it's the case that objective moral values happen to be exactly the same as the consensus view of mankind at this point in time. If that's the case, then it'd be impossible to provide a counter-example because none would exist. It could be that every moral consensus now is objectively true. If so, then we have a new definition of objective moral values: Objective moral values are the consensus values of mankind at this point in time.
If objective moral values are always identical to our consensus beliefs then their independence is irrelevant. We are then perfectly capable of determining moral values by a consensus of belief and no outside source (God) is necessary.

"When people complain about the lack of values, they
are usually complaining about the fact that other people fail to value the things they
value, and they are presupposing that the things they value are the things that are truly valuable."
Richard Garner

The general principles of our shared moral code are:
Not harming others
Being fair
Being loyal to a group
Respect for legitimate authority
Exalting what's pure, clean, and holy

All of these principles are rooted in our emotions and are therefore not separate from our minds. Not causing harm to others and helping when we can are the natural result of the joy we feel when aiding others, and the empathy and sympathy we feel for each other. Fairness comes from the anger of wanting liars, cheaters, theives, traitors, etc. to get what's coming to them. Moral intuitions are rooted in our deepest emotions. And they are as universal as our emotions. Those who argue in favor of objective morals rely on our universal emotional reactions to support their argument. William Lane Craig asks, "Are the values we hold dear ...mere social conventions akin to driving on the left versus right side of the road or mere expressions of personal preference akin to having a taste for certain foods or not?". The fact that morals are things "we hold dear" indicates the emotional basis of these values. Lane continues: "Or are they valid independently of our apprehension of them,...?". The examples Craig uses of moral wrongs shows they are not "independent of our apprehension of them": Nazi Holocaust, incest, child rape, child abuse, and torture. We all experience a negative emotional response to these acts that tell us they are wrong. They just "feel" wrong and cannot be independent of how we feel about them.
What differs from one culture or society to another or one person to another is how these five principles are ranked in importance. Religious extremism may rank respect for religious authority as the most important. This allows followers to set aside their natural inclination not to harm others and ignore their own ideas of fairness. "Goodness" is following the rules of that authority without thought or question. Obedience becomes a higher law than conscience. This is the danger of an objective morality that is independent of what anyone (even you) thinks or feels about it. By subduing his natural emotional attachment to his child Abraham becomes "good" because of his willingness to obey when asked to sacrifice him.
Religion is not alone in it's extremism. Loyalty to a group can lead to racism, sexism, etc... Extreme pacifists can make decisions which seem contrary to common sense. Any time these general principles are construed as absolute rules, with an absolute order of importance, morality suffers. Realizing that there are no sets of rules which cover all the unique individuals and situations we may encounter in life doesn't mean we're accepting a form of situational ethics where everything is subjective and relative. It simply means we see the need for a situational conscience that looks for a healthy balance in our universal principles applied to the personalities and circumstances involved in each individual situation. Our priorities for those principles may change in each situation as well. Thankfully, our shared emotional responses give us a vast area of agreement about what is right and what is wrong.
I've come to the conclusion that morality consists of two parts; one seems objective and the other is subjective.
The first part I call "labeling"; this seems objective and we find nearly universal agreement within the human race on how certain things should be labeled (as "good" or "bad"). For example, 'Is it good for a parent to protect their child from harm?' The universal reply would be "Yes". (The rare exception, someone who says "no" would universally be labeled as mentally ill and therefore would not disprove the objective nature of labeling). Given any single issue, as a general principle, mankind will view it objectively.
Another example would be, "Should we obey legitimate authority figures (parents, police, government, all the way up to God himself)?" Again, as a general principle, we objectively agree this is a good thing.
The second part of morality I call "weighting". Weighting involves assigning a weighted value to an action. It's giving priority to one good action over another. For example, God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Now Abraham has two good moral issues to weigh: 1) protect his child from harm (which is objectively a good thing) and 2) obey God (which is also objectively a good thing). The decision that each of us as individuals would make if faced with these choices may differ because we are subjective about attaching a weighted value to each of the two moral goods involved (protecting our child, obeying legitimate authority).
If you look at any moral dilemma and listen to each side of the argument, you will see that each side is choosing a moral good. The differences between opposing sides are about which 'good' outweighs the other. We agree that both things are good, but disagree about which one is best.
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27-07-2014, 06:25 AM
RE: Naturalism = Nihilism?
If naturalism is true....then I agree with everything you've said! "Morality doesn't exist. Our notion of it is arbitrary" this sums it up


- "You are the one who keeps asking why you should act one way instead of another"...

I keep asking this question because there are many naturalists, that do claim that there is objective morals/duties and that there is a certain way we should act...
take Sam Harris for example....



I'm trying to understand the reasoning for a naturalist to say such things...
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