Secular Morality
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18-08-2012, 06:49 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 05:55 AM)DLJ Wrote:  It would appear then that the guy was a deist. But, for debating puposes nsguy (or should I call you 1350?), no specific cult is mentioned so it should not be mooted that he was a catholic.
He did, however, seek the pointy-hatted ones as allies - this is in itself does not indicate personal attachment as it was likely just a shrewd (anti-jew) political move.

I think that the clearest point about Hitler's beliefs is that (like the man, himself) they were unstable. They changed over time. His starting point (early childhood) was Catholicism, veering towards a more open-ended version of Christianity, towards pagan beliefs, towards seeing himself as a god... with a bit of occultism thrown into the mix. There was no fixed (unchanging) point that you could freeze-frame and claim as a reference point for his beliefs.

Other than the absolute certainty that he was at no point (in his Catholic-and-beyond world) an atheist.
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18-08-2012, 09:08 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 05:00 AM)Red Celt Wrote:  
(17-08-2012 07:22 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  When it comes to morality, this is the best explanation I've found in my few years searching through speeches and youtube videos.
TheoreticalBullshit (aka Scott ) expresses my own thoughts on the topic and words it all much better.

Bad video. He spent nearly all of it going on about God. For the first 5 minutes (and the summary at the end) he basically said that Utilitarianism is the answer, mentioning unnecessary harm without defining what "necessary" means.

From a position of moral philosophy, his argument was weak.

Tsze-kung asked, saying, "Is there one word which may serve as a rule of
practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is not Reciprocity such a
word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."

— Confucius, Analects XV.24

I disagree - "necessary harm" is easy enough to understand. Self defense or defense of others is one example where you're doing "harm" to one individual, but in order to prevent harm to another. In that sense it is necessary in order to have a functioning society. Another example is prevention of theft and other non-physical crimes that harm people in other ways than the physical.

Outside of acts that harm anyone, I wouldn't say something is immoral - such as sins that were invented in Christianity, etc. For example, why would consensual sex between adults outside of marriage be immoral? That is considered a sin among Christians, but no one is harmed by it. There is no rational basis for labeling it immoral that I know of.

Can you provide any examples of actions that cause no physical, financial or emotional harm, that you would be able to define as immoral and back up your reasoning?

Better without God, and happier too.
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18-08-2012, 09:19 AM
RE: Secular Morality
As far as sin is concerned, none of the atheists here are sinners. Sin involves the disavowal of a God-given rule. We don't have a god, so we can't be sinners. When it came to his approach to Christian apologists, the guy did a good job of expressing himself. As a purely ethical stance, however, he didn't.

He's a utilitarian. There are bog-standard complaints about utilitarianism, so I guess I'll offer one of those:-

You are the sheriff in a small town. In your custody is a man that you've arrested and are holding until he can be transported to the nearest courthouse. Outside, a mob has formed. They are armed, angry and determined to hang your prisoner from the nearest tree.

Do you hand him over? Or do you face death (of yourself, or some of the townsfolk) resisting the mob, so that he can have a fair trial?

The greatest happiness would occur if you handed him over to the mob. Are you doing unnecessary harm or necessary harm?

Define "necessary".
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18-08-2012, 09:24 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 09:19 AM)Red Celt Wrote:  The greatest happiness would occur if you handed him over to the mob. Are you doing unnecessary harm or necessary harm?

I would argue with your determination of 'greatest happiness'. The death of the possibly innocent man and the shredding of ethics can be argued to outweigh the satisfaction of the mob.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-08-2012, 09:24 AM (This post was last modified: 18-08-2012 09:28 AM by Azaraith.)
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 09:19 AM)Red Celt Wrote:  As far as sin is concerned, none of the atheists here are sinners. Sin involves the disavowal of a God-given rule. We don't have a god, so we can't be sinners. When it came to his approach to Christian apologists, the guy did a good job of expressing himself. As a purely ethical stance, however, he didn't.

He's a utilitarian. There are bog-standard complaints about utilitarianism, so I guess I'll offer one of those:-

You are the sheriff in a small town. In your custody is a man that you've arrested and are holding until he can be transported to the nearest courthouse. Outside, a mob has formed. They are armed, angry and determined to hang your prisoner from the nearest tree.

Do you hand him over? Or do you face death (of yourself, or some of the townsfolk) resisting the mob, so that he can have a fair trial?

The greatest happiness would occur if you handed him over to the mob. Are you doing unnecessary harm or necessary harm?

Define "necessary".

Fairly easy to debunk that. You're doing unnecessary harm by handing the criminal over to the mob. A judicial system to use evidence and reason to determine guilt in a crime is necessary to prevent unnecessary harm to be done to an innocent person. By handing him over, you would be allowing them to harm the person regardless of whether or not he was guilty - in their minds, he is, but it is as yet unproven. Standing your ground and protecting the prisoner is necessary in order to maintain a legal system that overall should provide the best protection of the people against harm, while preventing the unnecessary harming of innocents. Handing him over would also destroy that system and descend into mob rule.

Where members of the mob attack you, defending yourself is within the bounds of "necessary" and harm to them can be considered as such, so long as it isn't in excess of the need for defense.

Also, you would be allowing capital punishment - which I believe is immoral, because it is harm in excess of what is needed to prevent harm to others.

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18-08-2012, 09:48 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 09:24 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  Fairly easy to debunk that.

Oh really? You wouldn't enjoy being a philosophy student. Smile

(18-08-2012 09:24 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  You're doing unnecessary harm by handing the criminal over to the mob. A judicial system to use evidence and reason to determine guilt in a crime is necessary to prevent unnecessary harm to be done to an innocent person.

You refuse to hand him over. There's a gun-fight and you die. The town loses its law-keeper. The prisoner also dies. You manage to kill 3 of the townsfolk before you lose your own life. They have families. The loss of income means that the widows end up selling their bodies in order to survive. Some of their children starve to death. Meanwhile, the town's loss of a sheriff sees an increase in violent crime. It is eventually quelled when your replacement arrives, but the damage has been done.

The man was guilty (which was why the townsfolk were determined to hang him). Your argument against capital punishment is a moot one, as he would have been hanged if found guilty (by 12 other townsfolk).

Or you could have handed him over... and, afterwards, when tempers had calmed, explained (in detail) why it can never happen again. That the judicial system is an important ingredient in a civilised society and they they, themselves, might end up as the prisoner in a future event.

There are different ways of handling the situation... but the utilitarian would argue that the greater good is achieved by handing the prisoner over. The happiness of 50 people outweighs the happiness of an individual.

This is also true in a similar thought experiment regarding the Roman Colosseum. Thousands of Romans are made happy by the death of one man. Ergo, it is acceptable (to a utilitarian) for that to happen... happiness is a maths calculation. Lots of slightly happy people outweigh one very unhappy person. Utilitarianism doesn't allow for personal liberties.
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18-08-2012, 10:38 AM
RE: Secular Morality
Hey, Red. I agree with what you say about the Utilitarian model and I can why you mention it but I didn't get the same message from the vid. Admittedly I'm a layman when it comes to this stuff.

I thought he was arguing for rational morality and against theistic (specifically christian) morality. I thought he was saying that we do and should rationally reach a consensus through definition of rights and wrongs ... not so much that Utilitarianism was the preferred mechanism.

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18-08-2012, 10:41 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 09:48 AM)Red Celt Wrote:  
(18-08-2012 09:24 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  Fairly easy to debunk that.

Oh really? You wouldn't enjoy being a philosophy student. Smile

(18-08-2012 09:24 AM)Azaraith Wrote:  You're doing unnecessary harm by handing the criminal over to the mob. A judicial system to use evidence and reason to determine guilt in a crime is necessary to prevent unnecessary harm to be done to an innocent person.

You refuse to hand him over. There's a gun-fight and you die. The town loses its law-keeper. The prisoner also dies. You manage to kill 3 of the townsfolk before you lose your own life. They have families. The loss of income means that the widows end up selling their bodies in order to survive. Some of their children starve to death. Meanwhile, the town's loss of a sheriff sees an increase in violent crime. It is eventually quelled when your replacement arrives, but the damage has been done.

The man was guilty (which was why the townsfolk were determined to hang him). Your argument against capital punishment is a moot one, as he would have been hanged if found guilty (by 12 other townsfolk).

Or you could have handed him over... and, afterwards, when tempers had calmed, explained (in detail) why it can never happen again. That the judicial system is an important ingredient in a civilised society and they they, themselves, might end up as the prisoner in a future event.

There are different ways of handling the situation... but the utilitarian would argue that the greater good is achieved by handing the prisoner over. The happiness of 50 people outweighs the happiness of an individual.

This is also true in a similar thought experiment regarding the Roman Colosseum. Thousands of Romans are made happy by the death of one man. Ergo, it is acceptable (to a utilitarian) for that to happen... happiness is a maths calculation. Lots of slightly happy people outweigh one very unhappy person. Utilitarianism doesn't allow for personal liberties.

That does not justify the morality of said conviction.

If the citizens were to kill the law enforcement, they would also be guilty.

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18-08-2012, 11:01 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 10:38 AM)DLJ Wrote:  Hey, Red. I agree with what you say about the Utilitarian model and I can why you mention it but I didn't get the same message from the vid. Admittedly I'm a layman when it comes to this stuff.

Well, keep in mind that I kinda do this for a living...

The video closes with this:-
"If morality for you has nothing to do with the pursuit of maximising well being... if it truly has no stake whatsoever in actualising an ideal circumstance in this life or the next... then what fucking good is it?"

Kantians would object to that. Virtue ethicists would object to that. Utilitarians would not object to that.

I'm not a utilitarian... so I objected to that. Smile
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18-08-2012, 11:03 AM
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 10:41 AM)Logica Humano Wrote:  That does not justify the morality of said conviction.

If the citizens were to kill the law enforcement, they would also be guilty.

It isn't about justification. It's an analysis of utilitarianism.
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