Selling Amorality
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22-07-2013, 07:03 PM
Selling Amorality
Introduction
What is amorality?
As defined on Wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amorality
Quote:Amorality is an absence of, indifference towards, or disregard for morality.
Quote:Amoral should not be confused with immoral, which refers to an agent doing or thinking something he or she knows or believes to be wrong

So what does "absence of, indifference towards, or disregard for morality" mean?
Does it mean that an amoral person is psychopathic?
According to Wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy
Quote:Psychopathy is a personality or mental disorder characterized partly by antisocial behavior, a diminished capacity for remorse, and poor behavioral controls.
I guess a person considered by others to be non conforming to the social moral expectations of society, could be deemed as antisocial, lacking remorse and exhibiting poor behavioral controls.

A person who has a disregard for morality could also be considered by some to be lacking in empathy. This could be due to a person conflating the ideas of empathy with morality thus believing in a form of morality called Emotivism. This person then judges the amoralist's position as lacking a personal emotive response to actions or the plight of others.
According to Britannica.com
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topi.../emotivism
Quote: the view that moral judgments do not function as statements of fact but rather as expressions of the speaker’s or writer’s feelings. According to the emotivist, when we say “You acted wrongly in stealing that money,” we are not expressing any fact beyond that stated by “You stole that money.” It is, however, as if we had stated this fact with a special tone of abhorrence, for in saying that something is wrong, we are expressing our feelings of disapproval toward it

I propose that amoralism does not denote a personality deficiency such as psychopathy nor does it denote a lack of emotion.
Amoralism is a philosophical position which claims that moral statements are incomplete and thus non-sensical. In philosophical speak this position is termed as "moral nihilism".
From Wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_nihilism
Quote:Moral nihilism (also known as ethical nihilism) is the meta-ethical view that nothing is intrinsically moral or immoral. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is neither inherently right nor inherently wrong. Moral nihilists consider morality to be constructed, a complex set of rules and recommendations that may give a psychological, social, or economical advantage to its adherents, but is otherwise without universal or even relative truth in any sense
So what does this mean?
How can killing someone not be considered wrong?
I see the statement "killing someone is wrong" as an incomplete statment.
In what context, towards what goal are we to deem this to be right or wrong?
If I killed someone who was attempting to kill me, then that would be the right thing to do wouldn't it? If my goal was to live, then for me, for my goal it would be the right thing to do.
But if I were in the middle of a killing spree, shooting up kids at a school, then most people would consider it wrong of me to kill a police officer whom is attempting to kill me. They would likely deem it wrong because they see it as the police officer's legal or moral duty to stop me killing the kids. They see the police officer as innocent even though he is trying to kill me. They would see my action of killing the police officer as wrong, because I have killed an innocent person.

But hey, aren't I just arguing a semantic argument here? Aren't I just over complicating things by suggesting that we need to elaborate on moral terms, on moral judgements of right and wrong?
Of course, given the context of the situation and the full information, people can determine what is right and what is wrong, can't they?
Don't we need to define morality better rather than to simply do away with it entirely?


Purpose
The purpose of this post is a philosophical "intellectual" discussion on amorality. For me to attempt to sell this stance. To attempt to convince others to consider an amoral approach to judging situations and actions of people, to defining laws and to realising that morality is just a personal belief system that cannot reasonably and justifiably be forced onto others within society.

Argument
1. Objective morality
You would be hard pressed to find two people whom exactly agree on their complete list of morals. Even people whom belong to the same organisation which teaches morality to them.
Of course the vast majority of people deem it a pretty nasty and undesirable thing to torture innocent people or to rape children. These are horrible things that people ought not do to each other and that our society ought to have rules (laws) against. You would be hard pressed to find a person whom thinks we should tolerate this behaviour. But does this mean that "torture and rape is wrong" is an iron clad truth?
From the perspective of an ant, or an alien race living on a planet light years away, they probably don't care about the way human beings treat each other.
What about the animals on our on planet that rape and torture each other? Is it our (humans) place to stop them behaving the way that animals of their kind sometimes do?
As self proclaimed moral agents, are humans motivated to develop space travel so that we can reach out to all sentient beings within the universe and to ensure they behave morally towards each other?
It seems pretty clear (to me) that we are only really concerned with the behaviours of other humans, in-so-far as our moral judgements go.
That leads us to ask, what is special about humans? Do we come with a set of intrinsic moralities?
According to Richard Dawkins in his book "The greatest show on Earth" there is no such thing as a perfect essential rabbit. There only exists flawed deviations of this mythical perfect essential rabbit.
We have evolved over time to become what we broadly classify as "human", we are still evolving and there are many races of humans whom look different from other races and each human looks different from each other (except for identical twins whom share DNA).
It is absurd to suggest that their is an "essence" of human, a "form" or an "image" which comes with a set of moral instructions and that this morality is common to all humans.
We are all most definitely deviations from the perfect essential human, and if there is an aspect of "morality" built into our DNA, this most definitely deviates as do all things based on DNA.
So why are we concerned about the actions of humans?
Because we are humans and we live in human societies. We can reason with ourselves and set mutual rules to help us participate nicely together in our share society. Basically, we want to live peacefully within a peaceful society consisting of other humans.

2. Subjective morality is merely personal opinion
What is the difference between personal opinion and subjective morality?
I can have an opinion on whether Pepsi is better tasting than Coke, this opinion isn't a moral statement thus not all opinions are subjective morality.
Are all subjective moralities personal opinions? I think that they are. I would like to hear a reasoned argument from anyone whom suggests that their own subjective morality differs from their own personal opinion.

3. Morality is a belief system
Without the ability to discover empirically verified, consistent, conclusive and undeniable moral truths, one has to admit that morality is a belief rather than a fact.
What would happen if a person realising that morality is only a belief decided to not believe in it? Would this person then change in the way that they behave? Would they then start to have more selfish fun and lose their empathy for other people, would they then forget the repercussions of behaving in a way that is harmful to others or society?
This is the same argument as "Being good without God", just as an atheist can be deemed as a decent person, so can an amoralist.

4. For what use is morality?
Morality can be used to define the law governing society, to make sure that all society members behave nicely otherwise they face legal consequences.

In my opinion morality is a poor basis for law. A poor basis for judging and controlling other people. Given that there is no objective morality then whose morality is it that we are to force onto each member of society? Is it the Prime Minister/President's morality that reigns supreme (might makes right)? Or do we take a general consensus of the population, thus the majority rules over the minorities. If the majority deem homosexuality to be immoral then are we to outlaw such behaviour? Same goes for other issues e.g. Abortion, Euthanasia, Interracial marriages, prostitution etc.
Insisting that law be based on morality, how is this any different to theocratic societies such as Saudi Arabia and UAE. Atheists demand a separation of church and state but then insisting that law be based on their own moral beliefs this seems to me to be hypocritical.

But if law isn't to be based on morality then how are we to define the rules of society?

5. Morality is merely a conflation.
In order to define the basis for law, for judging people, etc we need to untangle morality from what it is that we truely want laws based upon.

My ideas on this are:
Survival - In order to survive we need laws against murder, assault, rape, abduction etc, We also need to be taxed such that there is provision of hospitals, fire service etc

Freedom - In order to live life as we choose, we need laws against slavery, blackmail, etc. We need to be taxed such that there is provision of roads, schools, police etc

Having clear and specific goals and purposes for society rather than giving the free license of "morality" makes it difficult for a governmet to justify outlawing gay marriage, abortion, prostitution etc.
It also allows us as people to realise our own judgements on others, whether we are to support laws against things e.g. prostitution, merely because we don't like the idea of people within society selling or buying sex.

This isn't rocket science, an amoralist and a moral believer are not necessarly very different people. They just have different underlying philosophies, and try to avoid using ambigious terms such as right, wrong, moral, immoral, good, bad.

With regards to people that want more rules or guidance on how to live their own lives, I have no personal problems with people looking towards organisations such as religious institutions or other organisations such as humanatarian or such. Live your own lives however you want, impose whatever rules you want on yourself, just don't arbitrarily impose them on me or expect me to live by your own moral beliefs.
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22-07-2013, 07:35 PM
RE: Selling Amorality
For this amoral GirlyMan, it is the premise that moral consideration does not and cannot provide a sound basis for rational judgment. Unlike the wiki page you referenced, I don't see moral nihilism as being equivalent to ethical nihilism. Morals ain't ethics. Amorality is silent about ethical, social, legal and other pragmatic consideration as a basis for judgment. ... Good post! Thumbsup

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
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Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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27-07-2013, 11:57 AM
RE: Selling Amorality
First of all, very informative post, although, I have some questions.

I agree that there is no such thing as objective morality because there is no talking about morality factually, it is all opinion. That being so, law follows the same guidelines. Law is the opinion of the people, whether it be a majority vote or representative legislation. I also agree that there is a problem in this system, since in certain situations there are certain considerations to be examined.

Quote:Amorality is an absence of, indifference towards, or disregard for morality.

I would argue that in order to live and exist as a social creature in society, one needs a personal set of moral guidelines to help conduct their actions. When a person ever tries to decide on whether to do an action or not, he or she, either consciously or unconsciously, works out the moral guidelines that person has in order to complete the decision. Also, when a supposedly amoral person starts talking about how law should be run and what kinds of things should be outlawed, this clearly shows a moral system in place.

Quote:Amoralism is a philosophical position which claims that moral statements are incomplete and thus non-sensical. In philosophical speak this position is termed as "moral nihilism".

"My ideas on this are:
Survival - In order to survive we need laws against murder, assault, rape, abduction etc, We also need to be taxed such that there is provision of hospitals, fire service etc

Freedom - In order to live life as we choose, we need laws against slavery, blackmail, etc. We need to be taxed such that there is provision of roads, schools, police etc"

This sounds like to me a set up of subjective moral guidelines composed in order to become law. I would think that an amoral person would not understand law based systems let alone suggest one. An amoral person by definition would call for a person to be judged on individual crimes. This again would call for morals to be implemented in order to ascertain the "guilt or innocence" of a defendant.

My definition of morals is a set of circumstantial situations that a healthy human being has been given through the evolutionary process, which is ingrained in his or her DNA, that govern the way they live. Amoral people would not be able to feel empathy for a victim or anger at a perpetrator because he or she would not understand that something was done wrongly and is punishable. In closing, an amoral person that suggests a code of law like that one given uses subjective morals and is automatically not amoral based on definition. An amoral person that suggests punishments for people when these laws are broken automatically is classified as a moral person, showing subjective morals, because an amoral person could never do that.

Also, does an amoral person have a conscience? Do they understand anything they do or their consequences?

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27-07-2013, 02:48 PM
RE: Selling Amorality
(27-07-2013 11:57 AM)elegant_atheist Wrote:  Law is the opinion of the people, whether it be a majority vote or representative legislation.
Law is a set of rules defining the way society members are to behave, or more precisely a set of boundaries which when crossed then certain consequences are delivered (fines, imprisonment etc)
How those rules are formed could be via various means e.g. a dictator whom thinks he knows what is best, defines the rules or a republic representative group making up the rules (supposedly) as a representative of the wider public.

The purpose for law could be:
* Prosperity and survival of the leader. – This does not necessarily incorporate moral beliefs but is generally the result of a dictator.
* A moral society – This definitely incorporates moral beliefs, and could be as a result of a theocracy or a secular government whom deems that people should follow their moral beliefs
* An inclusive, cohabitation focused society – This is what I am arguing for, this does not include morality as a basis for law, it gives the governing body the minimum power required to ensure society is safe and stable. It is very much a position of mutual tolerance and compromise, rather than forcing people to be good or moral.

(27-07-2013 11:57 AM)elegant_atheist Wrote:  
Quote:Amorality is an absence of, indifference towards, or disregard for morality.

I would argue that in order to live and exist as a social creature in society, one needs a personal set of moral guidelines to help conduct their actions. When a person ever tries to decide on whether to do an action or not, he or she, either consciously or unconsciously, works out the moral guidelines that person has in order to complete the decision.
This highlights our different world views. Showing that I am amoral and you are moral.
My inner voice is not “What is the right thing to do?” but instead “What action benefits me most?”
My approach is purely selfish, yours in someway suggests that you know what is right and that right somehow applies to others even though, I think you agree your understanding of right is subjective to yourself only. So I personally think a subjective moralist who tries to think altruistically rather than selfishly is contradicting themselves.

No doubt the above probably brings up two strong reactions for you.
1. Selfishness is bad/wrong
2. An amoralist whom wants behavioural rules is contradictory.

Selfishness gets a very bad reputation. It is actively promoted by religions, by tv and movies, by parents, by pretty much everyone that selfishness is bad. That rich and successful people are selfish evil people.
I disagree. I think selfishness is the key to harmony.
A strawman argument would be that a selfish person would steal from people, would act nasty, maybe kill people they don’t like, etc
This is not the case.
What is commonly portrayed as a nasty selfish person is instead either a shortsighted person or a self destructive person.
If you start with the premise “I will do what is in my best interest” then it becomes obvious that most of the time you wont steal or kill people.
What happens if you steal? Then you might get caught by the police, go to jail, have a criminal record which impacts international travel and career opportunities.
So is it in your best interests to steal?
From a society perspective what if stealing wasn’t against the law? Is this in your best interests? It would mean that people could steal from you, that you would need to stay at home and guard your stuff rather than go out and play or work. So it seems to me to be in a person’s best interests to have a society with rules against theft.

This covers point 2, why an amoralist would want rules even though nothing is deemed as right or wrong. I am not saying that it is wrong to steal, I am just saying that it is in my best interests if stealing were not allowed in my society. This is from a selfish perspective, not a moral perspective.

A moral perspective would consider things that don’t impact the self. Such as homosexuality. If you are a heterosexual then how does it impact you if your neighbours are gay. They have sex in the privacy of their own bedroom. It has no impact on you. But a moral person whom believes that homosexuality is immoral might be motivated to have a law stopping their neighbour from having gay sex.
An amoral person might consider gay sex to be emotionally repugnant, but they wouldn’t support a law against it. They would simply choose not to participate in gay sex, and realise that the private activities of their neighbour is none of their business.

If you take the stance that gay sex is not immoral thus even though you are a moralist, you would not want a law against it. Then I challenge you to prove to me that your morality is not merely a conflation of your desire to survive and have freedom.
In what specific example does your morality go beyond that? And please explain why you think in this example that your moral beliefs should override the beliefs of people whom don’t agree with you thus your law should justifiably oppress them.

(27-07-2013 11:57 AM)elegant_atheist Wrote:  Also, does an amoral person have a conscience? Do they understand anything they do or their consequences?
Yes, an amoral person suffers from emotion, compassion, conscience and understands consequences.

With controversial topics like abortion an amoralist is less conflicted regarding support of law. The answer is simple. Does abortion endanger myself or my liberties? Answer “No”, thus we don’t need a law against it.

For a moralist it is more difficult. For a moralist whom judges that it is wrong to harm humans they must first convince themselves that a fetus is not human before they can support abortion, otherwise they would want a law against it.

But of course an amoralist can be conflicted when it is themselves that have an unwanted pregnancy. Do I want to kill my own fetus? This is a difficult one to answer.
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27-07-2013, 05:10 PM
RE: Selling Amorality
Okay, I think I see things more clearly than before. Please correct me if I am wrong.

An amoralist like yourself supports the law system based on the fact that you still want freedom for all and you want to be able to live in a society that can cooperate and flourish. When it comes to legislation, you believe that it should be a process in which laws are based on the promotion of this cooperation and flourishing in the society that you wish to see. These laws include no stealing, murder, or rape based on the fact that they are counterproductive to the objective goals the society has set. Then on the controversial topics you look at it as an objective situation, where you examine if it is harming anyone or yourself, and don't let ideology get in the way.

If this is all correct and you endorse selfishness, there is one problem. What if you see an small child about to be hit by a car? It would never be in your self interest to jump in front of the car in order to save him or her because that is putting yourself at risk. I would hope that I would jump in front of the car for her, but this is only because I hope I would have enough courage to be selfless in a moment like that. Is there any room in the amoralist philosophy for that to even register as an option in a situation like that?

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27-07-2013, 11:46 PM
RE: Selling Amorality
(27-07-2013 05:10 PM)elegant_atheist Wrote:  If this is all correct and you endorse selfishness, there is one problem. What if you see an small child about to be hit by a car? It would never be in your self interest to jump in front of the car in order to save him or her because that is putting yourself at risk.
I would hope that I wouldn't sacrifice myself. I hopefully have another 30-40 years left in me, my wife and two preschool children would be let down and they would lose our only income.
Am I to sacrifice my life so that a child whom carelessly walked in front of a car could have a second chance? Why weren't the parents taking care of the child?

I would certainly rush to pick up the pieces but not to sacrifice myself.
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27-07-2013, 11:55 PM
RE: Selling Amorality
(27-07-2013 11:46 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(27-07-2013 05:10 PM)elegant_atheist Wrote:  If this is all correct and you endorse selfishness, there is one problem. What if you see an small child about to be hit by a car? It would never be in your self interest to jump in front of the car in order to save him or her because that is putting yourself at risk.
I would hope that I wouldn't sacrifice myself. I hopefully have another 30-40 years left in me, my wife and two preschool children would be let down and they would lose our only income.
Am I to sacrifice my life so that a child whom carelessly walked in front of a car could have a second chance? Why weren't the parents taking care of the child?

I would certainly rush to pick up the pieces but not to sacrifice myself.

I understand what you mean. Very blunt, but I totally understand the rational.Well, I am definitely amoral when it comes to the ethical issues of most laws, especially the controversial ones. I think we differ in opinion on the selfishness point of view, being in that I don't think I would examine everything through the scope of how a situation affects me only, I would have to try and account all parties involved. This being said, I think your argument is a strong one, I didn't even realize a person could be amoral but now that I read your posts they are making me reconsider. Great job, keep it up! Looking forward to more threads by you Big Grin

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28-07-2013, 06:46 PM
RE: Selling Amorality
Thanks for your feedback and considering my argument with an open mind. It shows you have a great ability to consider and genuinely try to understand alternative viewpoints.
Many people have strong beliefs when it comes to morality and struggle to go beyond their preconceived ideas when discussing the option of amorality with them. It is actually a simple concept, but difficult to explain given people's preconceptions about it.
I would imagine that many Christians having difficulty understanding how atheists can be decent and trustworthy people falls into the same trap as people understanding how a person without moral beliefs can be a decent and trustworthy person.
Many Christians don't think that atheists have morals at all because they think morals come from God and a desire to obey God's law. Thus they often consider an atheist's morality to be simply a personal opinion which can change at the whim of the person's desires and wants.
At least this is how I rationalise the results of surveys showing that atheists are one of the least trusted groups in America despite the fact that noone has ever gone on a killing spree in the name of atheism.
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02-04-2014, 04:45 PM
RE: Selling Amorality
I am amoral when it comes to most things. Aside from murder, rape, lying, and stealing I don't care about anything else.

For example, I really don't care what drugs someone smokes or about their sexual orientation. If what they are doing does not cause permanent damage to other people, it is irrelevant. In this way, I see it as neither good nor bad. Some things are amoral but not immoral.

My current project is explaining why many things in this world are irrelevant to me.
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03-04-2014, 12:08 AM (This post was last modified: 03-04-2014 12:31 AM by Dee.)
RE: Selling Amorality
I am inclined to believe that the amoral person is likely an autonomous person. Lets assume so.

And if this is so then the autonomous person is free to project moral or ethical standards on a society that is not autonomous. That is, the autonomous person can sit on a jury, be politically active, run for an office, and so on.

Why not?

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