Secular Morality
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18-08-2012, 12:39 PM
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 11:03 AM)Red Celt Wrote:  
(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.

Yes, and there is no justification for it.

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18-08-2012, 01:01 PM (This post was last modified: 18-08-2012 02:00 PM by TrulyX.)
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 11:46 AM)Red Celt Wrote:  Treat people as an end.. and never as a means.....only

It's out of moral duty, rationality, and good will.

Rationality determines what is moral (categorical imperative) and gives us the ability, insofar as it's possible, to make decisions in regards to our actions. We are morally good if we will to do what is right out of a sense of duty, purpose and rational understanding of what is morally correct.

Quote:You have access to Google, yeah? Dodgy

Wikipedia-- "Virtue ethics, morality stems from the identity and/or character of the individual, rather than being a reflection of the actions (or consequences thereof) of the individual."

Aristotle had his views, but overall, it just has to do with the judging the character of a person to determine morality.

I don't pay much attention to virtue ethics, but it seems the real problem would be determining what is virtuous. If we are all in agreement with the virtues it would be great, like honesty, wisdom, understanding, respect, but there could be a long debate about what is virtuous.

It can usually come into play when combining theories.

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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18-08-2012, 02:01 PM
RE: Secular Morality
(17-08-2012 07:06 PM)nsguy1350 Wrote:  One of the primary "arguments" against atheism would be that there is no moral foundation for atheists. I've heard and read some on this, but I want to be bulletproof in my countering of this premise.

The thing about theists, and I'd say the same about conservatives, is I don't really think they realize that the vast majority of what they say and/or believe extremely contradicts what is actually the case in reality. In most cases, a lot of their arguments actually infer the opposite.

Theists have so many walls to break down to even take such a stance, and it would still be the case, even in the event that they did actually have some ground to stand on, that their ground would still be demolished in argument.

Euthyphro dilemma: "Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?"

The overall foundation for theism is faith. They have absolutely nothing to compel them to believe that what they believe is the case in reality, yet they choose to believe it anyway. Theists not only have no basis to believe that God exists, but they also have no basis to believe that God has at all dictated a moral code, then on top of that, they still have to face that even with God and a code, they have no basis, to even consider, that morality is not totally independent of God or that the code is morality.

Religion does play a part in morality, period. In there fantasy land where there is an external supernatural realm that's invisible to us, where God lives and dictates the realm we live in, there is only sin. If that dictates admission to a theme park of eternal life, and quite possible an alternate, parallel one for eternal suffering and pain, so be it. They can live off there rule book and BS but that is not morality, and it's not what any people who want to call themselves using reason should subscribe to. You could so very well choose to take a blind gamble, but don't call your rules morality. I'd personally choose hell over fooling myself any day.

They completely lack reason, while atheism, on the other hand, is based on reason. On our side, at the foundation of atheism is reason. Reason also happens to be the basis of human morality. You can argue over what morality is if you want, but you would, under all circumstances, come to the conclusion that it's what secular people of reason believe and definitely not religion.

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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18-08-2012, 05:09 PM (This post was last modified: 18-08-2012 05:41 PM by ghostexorcist.)
RE: Secular Morality
(17-08-2012 07:06 PM)nsguy1350 Wrote:  Point 1: Morals must come from a higher power

(18-08-2012 04:09 AM)Red Celt Wrote:  Chimpanzees have morality. So do dolphins, lions, dogs... and, basically, pick any social animal and put its name in the list. When creatures interact with each other, they do so with an understanding of reciprocity and hierarchy. How they treat each other determines how they are treated in return. That is morality, regardless of how simple or complex it is.

Non-social animals don't have morality. They don't need it.

Red Celt’s explanation is the best argument in discussions like this. I’ve used the same argument numerous times over the years. No amount of philosophy is going to negate the fact that human morality evolved from our proto-ape ancestors. Regarding chimps, I’ve read all sorts of stuff that easily translates to human morality. First and foremost, they have a natural system of reconciliation. Members of a community will go out of their way to stop conflict. For instance a female will try to stop two males from fighting by diverting the attention of one of them through physical contact. An arm over one’s shoulder helps to calm tempers. Males who fight often make up with a hug and a kiss. There have been recorded instances where a chimp risked their life to save an individual who was drowning in water (chimps can't swim due to low body fat). Male and female chimps sometime adopt orphans and take care of them like their own children. Primates also have a sense of fairness. Watch this video.

By the way, Frans de Waal, the primatologist in the linked video, is publishing a book next year entitled The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates (2013). In it, he calls upon scientific research and philosophy to show that morality doesn’t come from religion. I already pre-ordered a copy.

Quote:Point 2: Secular regimes have been more deadly than any religion (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.)

The problem with this point of view is that people forget (or willingly ignore) the fact that the majority of atheistic governments that have killed the most people were Communist. Communism calls for total obedience to the state. They simply use an atheistic stance on religion to get people to devote themselves to the state, not because they hate religion or its practitioners. I'll give you a prime example of this. People of the Uighur ethnic group in Xinjiang province, China have used Islam as a rallying point to call for independence. They basically want Xinjiang to become its own country, the Islamic Republic of Uighurstan. The Communist Chinese government cracks down on Islam in the area because separatist notions go against loyalty to the state.

There is a huge difference between an atheistic regime like communism and a secular government. As I explained above, atheistic regimes forbid religion because it fosters independence. In a secular government, religion is only banned in the political realm, meaning that it cannot influence matters of state. In the civilian realm, however, people are free to practice whatever religion they want. In theory, the US is a secular government, but we all know this isn't always true. Religion all too often is the deciding factor in making laws regarding abortion and same-sex marriage.

If we are going to talk about morality and millions of people dying, we need to bring up the untold number of people who have died because the church told them it was wrong to wear condoms. Condoms help save people from getting HIV and deadly venereal diseases. Therefore, telling people that wearing condoms is wrong is absolutely immoral. I would love to see someone crunch the numbers to see how many people the church has murdered through their ant-condom campaign. I bet it would give the communist regimes a run their money! This website says the following:

Quote:Sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by HIV and AIDS than any other region of the world. An estimated 22.9 million people are living with HIV in the region - around two thirds of the global total.1 In 2010 around 1.2 million people died from AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and 1.9 million people became infected with HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic 14.8 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.

That was in 2010 alone. Just imagine how many people have died over the last 50 years! This means the church, which is sanctioned by god, has probably killed more people than the communist regimes ever thought possible.
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18-08-2012, 05:42 PM
RE: Secular Morality
Sorry I'll admit I didn't wade through the last four pages of epic posts but whenever someone asks about secular morality, I always point them toward this video series. I think it is one of the best at destroying the theistic argument in an orderly and easy to understand manner.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL...ature=plcp
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18-08-2012, 08:24 PM
RE: Secular Morality
(18-08-2012 12:22 PM)Red Celt Wrote:  
(18-08-2012 12:04 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Ok. Much appreciated.
And when, above, I said "etc." I was being lazy. Can you give me the Virtue Ethics summary too? Presumably you don't mean the 7 catholic virtues.

You have access to Google, yeah? Dodgy

Well... virtue ethics is very old (Ancient Greeks) but has seen a resurgence in recent years... in part, due to a frustration with both Kantianism (deontology) and utilitarianism. These are regarded as the 3 mainstream forms of secular morality, however there are a lot of "4th ways" out there. Including my own.

To summarise, virtue ethics is about finding the Aristotelian golden mean; which is the mid-point between two opposing vices. e.g. between cowardice and fool-hardy bravery, there is the mean point (equidistant between the two) that is the virtuous path to take.

It essentially boils down to the avoidance of extremes and a happy route in the middle of the road which is the path of virtue. You shouldn't be greedy, as that's a vice, but you shouldn't give all of your possessions away so that you cannot survive, as that is also a vice. Don't be greedy, but don't be overly generous.

I'm not a fan of virtue ethics as it presupposes that there is a reason to be virtuous... almost as if you are being judged and that you should care that you're being judged.

In a world dominated by virtue ethics, where nobody lives to the extremes, we wouldn't have The Doors or Jimmy Hendrix (or the self-destructive Amy Winehouse).

It would all be Justin Beiber.

Kill me now.

hehehe. Well said.

Actually, much of the time I don't have google... it depends which country / hotel chain I'm in.
And I'm paying you a huge compliment by asking you instead of Wikipedia. Live with it.

Not that it really matters for everyday existence but I was wondering if there was an "ism" that fitted my personal brand of morality. And ... in the words of U2... I still haven't found what I'm looking for. But your assistance is greatly appreciated.

I've been toying with this idea for a while: There is a spectrum of morality.
I don't mean as per Sam Harris's moral landscape where good / bad deeds can be plotted on a scale of well-being but more to do with each individual's degree of morality i.e. their capacity of empathy / reciprocity (noting the Frans de Waal vid above and also Kim's post recently on the "Happiness" Thread).

So I was thinking it might be useful (but maybe not) to create an A-Z of morality: Ant and Zebras (I know there are those who despise anthropomorphic analogies but I’m trying to make a point here).

Are we Ants or are we Zebras?

Some of us are ants and some of us are zebras and some of us are lions; socialist, sociable or sociopaths.

Take for instance a news report about the death of someone very old or very young; most of us will be moved by the tragic waste we witness but how many will be stirred into actively doing something to stop these things happening again? Sure, it’s sad but it is someone else’s problem.

Take a world event or at least some local disaster. Imagine the death of someone you don’t know. What is your reaction? The zebras will be startled but thank those that they thank that it wasn’t us or people we love and then get on with munching grass. There but for the grace of our zebra- god go I. A shock, a gasp of horror, it passes and life goes on. The lions will pay no attention (and carry on munching the old / young / sick zebra they’ve just killed). And the ants will just replace the missing members of society.

A more social group, for example, meerkats are sociable and have even created child-care systems but there is a ruthlessness based on the availability of resources i.e. food. They will not expend too much energy on saving non-productive society members if the economic conditions do not allow – a socio-economic society. Some of our social structures i.e. businesses behave in this way.


So then I was extending this thinking to realise that we shift our morality depending on the extent of the social group we belong to and as we age.

Throughout our lives we change; the more we learn the more we will be influenced by our peers, our parents, teachers, journalists, writers and other role models. The older and more educated we become the more control we have over our selection / deselection of these different influences.

This can be for good or for bad but the fact is it happens.

Take a complex issue; the question of immigration. Which is better for the receiving society; assimilation or diversity? Do you take a purely business view or is your opinion more emotive and based on the fear of the unknown? Migrant workers boost the economy and I’m sure you’ve heard it said that “they bring diverse culture” and “interesting food” but “they don’t learn our language”, they are not “one of us” or they are “more expendable”.

When we are young we are more likely to behave like ants, believing in the possibilities of a utopian society with everyone working together for the greater good, yet as we get older and perhaps marry and have children we are more likely to become like lions. Simultaneously we may work for an ant-like or more likely a meerkat-like organisation and behave more chimp-like when at a football match (all chant: Your gonna get yer fuckin 'eads kicked in!) or watching the olympics (Yay! Go GB!) or even trolling on youtube.

So, I'm thinking that each of us can hold different moral positions simultaneously.

I think I'm rambling now. I'll shut up.

(however, I think I have found the answer to the problem but I'm not sure I have found a good way of articulating the question)

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