Secular Morality
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04-01-2015, 10:33 PM
Secular Morality
I might have posted on this subject before. If so, I'm sorry.

Secular morality (or ethics), which is far superior to anything that dogmatic religion has come up with, begins with a purely intellectual acknowledgment: human beings are social animals.

A second, purely intellectual acknowledgment, is that others, like myself, desire happiness and freedom from suffering, that they, like myself, have the capacity to experience happiness and the capacity to experience suffering, and that others have an equal right, with myself, to have happiness and freedom from suffering (Empathy).

Passive morality (or ethics) is to never consciously and injudiciously prevent anyone from having happiness and freedom from suffering. I say "judiciously" because, sometimes, such as in the case of incarcerating felons, it is necessary to cause others to suffer. This, however, is not immorality, because it is judicious.

Active morality (or ethics) is to help others to have happiness and freedom from suffering.

I do not believe that someone who truly has empathy and compassion for others, will act immorally.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.--Voltaire.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine.
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05-01-2015, 09:45 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(04-01-2015 10:33 PM)666wannabe Wrote:  ... I do not believe that someone who truly has empathy and compassion for others, will act immorally.

No, but we all act to further our interests, which will often conflict with some others' interests, and such actions will be regarded by those whose interests are denied as immoral or unethical from their perspective, if what's at stake is significant enough.

James Madison said "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." But even angels would have competing and conflicting interests, and governance acts as impartial arbiter to resolve them so as to produce the least "unhappiness", but "unhappiness" cannot be erased entirely.
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05-01-2015, 10:10 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(05-01-2015 09:45 AM)Airportkid Wrote:  
(04-01-2015 10:33 PM)666wannabe Wrote:  ... I do not believe that someone who truly has empathy and compassion for others, will act immorally.

No, but we all act to further our interests, which will often conflict with some others' interests, and such actions will be regarded by those whose interests are denied as immoral or unethical from their perspective, if what's at stake is significant enough.

James Madison said "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." But even angels would have competing and conflicting interests, and governance acts as impartial arbiter to resolve them so as to produce the least "unhappiness", but "unhappiness" cannot be erased entirely.

It is a matter of degrees (unavoidable gray areas). A point of importance is to realize that we are included as "humans" and, to see it from the other side, "we have an equal right with others, to have happiness and freedom from suffering. I am not a believer in the idea that we have a moral obligation to sacrifice our interests for others--again, though, it is a matter of degrees. It really doesn't matter if others consider our actions as immoral or unethical. We need to be sure in our own minds that we are acting morally.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.--Voltaire.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine.
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05-01-2015, 11:35 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(05-01-2015 10:10 AM)666wannabe Wrote:  ... It really doesn't matter if others consider our actions as immoral or unethical.

It matters a great deal. Not just so you don't get shot. You have to consider the flip side: YOUR interests will sometimes be denied, and YOU will regard such denial as immoral. The golden rule won't be any help because when two people have equal claim to the last slice of pie, it's impossible to give it to one without giving offense to the other.

And think about what you're saying there. You give no consideration to the perception of others if you believe you're right? ISIS does that. All extremism does exactly that.
I would argue that disregard for the perception of others IS immoral, even if the perceptions are misperceptions, in which case there's a moral obligation to correct the misperception or give it some amelioration.
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05-01-2015, 12:44 PM
RE: Secular Morality
Morality is subjective. So even people with the best intentions, or has true compassion and empathy for others (think Priests for example), will still act immorally by forcing a young woman to risk her life to ensure a baby is born - or to prey on young children in their care - or tell a depressed gay man that he is not welcome in his Lord's kingdom and is doomed to an eternity of pain and torture -- all within their own definition of morality.

What could be more moral (to them) than saving someone from damnation and hell, when they could go to heaven if they just don't have an abortion, or attend one of their "straight" conversion camps etc.

Even among atheists, it's not cut and dry -- because atheism is not a creed or a belief system - so there are people from all over with all different kinds of morality.

Personally, I don't think it is moral to keep a firearm near children, I don't think it's moral to expose children to an environment where they need to fear if someone is carrying a weapon. I think its immoral not to try and enforce stricter gun control laws (seriously, let's not get into a debate about this in this particular thread -- it's an example Smile )

But I'm sure other atheists here may enjoy having a gun, and they may enjoy the bonding experience of teaching their children to shoot/hunt/whatever etc.
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05-01-2015, 12:50 PM
RE: Secular Morality
I think the trick is realising that your morality isn't the only morality, and other people have different perspectives than you do. So not try and enforce your version of morality on other people. But if religious people were able to think that far outside their own small little world then we probably wouldn't have religious wars.
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05-01-2015, 12:51 PM
RE: Secular Morality
(05-01-2015 11:35 AM)Airportkid Wrote:  YOUR interests will sometimes be denied, and YOU will regard such denial as immoral.
Not necessarily.

If you understand that moral labeling is bullshit and that resources are limited and that everyone is unique, then you will just take life as it comes. Some people will steal from you some of the time, some people will give to you some of the time. It's all within the range of human nature and is a result of what life throws at us. People are neither good nor bad, their actions are neither moral nor immoral. Life is what it is.

There is really no point bothering yourself with judging the "morality" of others.
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05-01-2015, 05:21 PM
RE: Secular Morality
(05-01-2015 11:35 AM)Airportkid Wrote:  
(05-01-2015 10:10 AM)666wannabe Wrote:  ... It really doesn't matter if others consider our actions as immoral or unethical.

It matters a great deal. Not just so you don't get shot. You have to consider the flip side: YOUR interests will sometimes be denied, and YOU will regard such denial as immoral. The golden rule won't be any help because when two people have equal claim to the last slice of pie, it's impossible to give it to one without giving offense to the other.

And think about what you're saying there. You give no consideration to the perception of others if you believe you're right? ISIS does that. All extremism does exactly that.
I would argue that disregard for the perception of others IS immoral, even if the perceptions are misperceptions, in which case there's a moral obligation to correct the misperception or give it some amelioration.

I was speaking in the context of a person's motivations, not about the consequences of any action he/she takes. A person who has empathy and compassion will not act immorally. If someone misinterprets their actions (as immoral) as justification for taking revenge on them, it is an issue of miscommunication, not of morality.

If you are motivated by the understanding that others have as much right as you do to have happiness and freedom from suffering, you will be far more likely to understand that sometimes your wishes will be denied (unless you are narcissistic). You will accept this and this understanding will mitigate the discomfort.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.--Voltaire.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine.
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05-01-2015, 06:08 PM
RE: Secular Morality
(05-01-2015 12:44 PM)GenericBox Wrote:  Morality is subjective. So even people with the best intentions, or has true compassion and empathy for others (think Priests for example), will still act immorally by forcing a young woman to risk her life to ensure a baby is born - or to prey on young children in their care - or tell a depressed gay man that he is not welcome in his Lord's kingdom and is doomed to an eternity of pain and torture -- all within their own definition of morality.

What could be more moral (to them) than saving someone from damnation and hell, when they could go to heaven if they just don't have an abortion, or attend one of their "straight" conversion camps etc.

Even among atheists, it's not cut and dry -- because atheism is not a creed or a belief system - so there are people from all over with all different kinds of morality.

Personally, I don't think it is moral to keep a firearm near children, I don't think it's moral to expose children to an environment where they need to fear if someone is carrying a weapon. I think its immoral not to try and enforce stricter gun control laws (seriously, let's not get into a debate about this in this particular thread -- it's an example Smile )

But I'm sure other atheists here may enjoy having a gun, and they may enjoy the bonding experience of teaching their children to shoot/hunt/whatever etc.

I disagree that in the cases you mentioned, the priests were acting out of true empathy and compassion. If their actions could be considered as acting out of their "best intentions", then their idea of morality is screwed up--as is much of Bible-based morality. This makes an excellent case for why we need a better basis of morality. Just because they are under the impression that they are acting morally does not mean that they are.

Indeed, there are many "gray areas" as is generally true about life.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.--Voltaire.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine.
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05-01-2015, 06:12 PM
RE: Secular Morality
(05-01-2015 12:50 PM)GenericBox Wrote:  I think the trick is realising that your morality isn't the only morality, and other people have different perspectives than you do. So not try and enforce your version of morality on other people. But if religious people were able to think that far outside their own small little world then we probably wouldn't have religious wars.

Sometimes, it is morally right to force your ideas of morality on others. The classic and overworked case is Nazi Germany. I don't know of any "thinking" person that would categorize the activities of the Nazis as moral or that it is moral to sacrifice virgins to volcanoes.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.--Voltaire.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine.
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