The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
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22-02-2015, 08:29 AM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(19-02-2015 09:29 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
Quote:What does good mean?
Good would be, to come into position of a certain sense of being, to be of a certain character, and acquiring those virtues associated with that character, such as charity, temperance, kindness, humility, often summed up in Christian theology as love, and for whom the embodiment of this is Jesus, who is seen as a living representation of the image of God, of Goodness itself.

While secular moral frames don’t particularly have models, and often are calls for refraining from certain actions, Christianity is a call to participation in particular form of life, a life of love.
You are reduced here to defining good in terms of itself. Effectively, "Good is just ... good -- as evidenced by being good". Societal morality defines good as that which sustainably conveys benefits and avoids harms -- at the level of society, and to the extent possible, at the individual level. Benefits = that which provides stability and continuity to the kind of society most of us, by consensus, which to live in; harms = that which destabilizes and disrupts that society.

It happens that the kind of society that most sane people want to live in can be described as a civil society, one in which individual rights are promoted and protected wherever possible, where certain fundamental human rights are respected. But nothing about what societal morality actually is, demands that it be civil or virtuous in some way. Society could in theory decide that it should be a totalitarian or hedonistic society. It's just that, funny thing, the tendency is for advanced societies to arrive at progressively more and more civil arrangements .. because that is what's best for all concerned and least likely to unravel itself through unsustainable practices.

To me this is the only way to define morality in terms other than in terms of the characteristics we tend to associate with morality. Morality itself is theoretically neutral; "goodness" is only an emergent property of a sufficiently evolved moral consensus.

It's hard for many theists to see this because of the presupposition that humanity is fundamentally and deeply flawed and broken and hence couldn't possibly arrive at a positive, rational consensus about anything. Left to itself, fundamentalists especially believe that society would become a depraved, hellish situation like under Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot. They don't see these as aberrations but as logical endpoints.
(19-02-2015 09:29 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
Quote:Did the god create good and bad souls just to make things interesting?
I don’t know about good and bad souls, but all the dynamics of life, both good and evil, its joys and tragedies, are a product of God's intentional act of creation, like an author of a great novel, who created the world for no other reason than for the sheer love of doing so.
Meh, that sounds great but in reality there is plenty of dynamic range and interest left if everything that most would consider negative (disease, disaster, grief, loss, fear) were lopped off at one end and we were just left with the good part of the spectrum. I am not interested in rationalizing harms as necessary to define benefits. There is plenty of contrast between, say, a walk on a sunny day and some great personal triumph or mountaintop sexual experience. There is no suffering in goals not yet attained, only in goals thwarted. I'm not willing to rationalize human suffering, and in fact, neither are Christians, given the heaven they are gunning for. I say that if it's good enough for the afterlife, it's good enough for Real Life.
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22-02-2015, 10:23 AM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(21-02-2015 11:01 PM)Stevil Wrote:  People feel that they can influence the gods by performing sacrifices or being good or what not. This gives them a sense of control.

Ritual sacrifices in nearly all religious traditions served an important functional purpose. They weren’t a series of empty gestures, but helped to quell communal strife by providing a temporary catharsis. It was a ritualized form of scapegoating as the work of Rene Girard revealed. It allowed communities to place all their resentments on a single chosen victim, often conceived as sacred for taking on this role, who served as the surrogate cause. And once the victim was killed, a catharsis followed, returning the community to its original harmony until the the cycle repeated itself. But since ritualized forms of scapegoating have particularly been eradicated in our modern world, we might have a difficult time understanding how this worked, since the process is not particularly rational, and it in fact requires the participants to not be aware of the process itself. But the best modern examples of this process, are non-ritualized forms of scapegoating, such as the unification of Germany, brought along by placing the blame and resentments on their scapegoat victim, the Jews.

The sacrifices weren’t a vain attempt to control external forces, they were in fact a viable means of sedating the strife and resentments of these early communities, where cohesion was a matter of life and death.

Quote:It is the preachyness and the fact that millions of people sell the bible as if it is a story of Truth that is quite off putting.

I think the Bible is a story of truth. But I think for many atheists truth has a very particular meaning, related to observations of the external world, the sort of truth one observes in laboratories, and based on observations of tangible facts, or realities that break down into eloquent mathematical forms. While the heart of religious truths, are introspective truths. The external world is only as important to them as its ability to help them see inward.

Quote:Perhaps it is just a set of fictional stories written by various authors with gruesome themes and tied together with a mythical god character. I actually really liked the "unholy Ghost" books "Downside" series, a book that is a fictional pure entertainment book. It's hero is certainly no saint, she's a drug addict and her boyfriend is a thug, so I have no qualms about "immoral" characters.

In our world we have an endless list of genres of literature, works that fit into easily divisible categories such as history, fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, psychology, psychoanalysis, sociology, etc. While these works are quite important for many of us, there are these clear divisions in forms, while this wasn’t the case in the premodern world, where the all such works predominantly occupied one genre, one we could refer to as “sacred history”. Religious scriptures are the embodiments of such works.

While religious stories may be entertaining, they’re not written exclusively for this purpose, in the way that the Twilight Series might be. This can also be said of the works of great novelist or artists, like Dostoevsky, Cormac McCarthy, Terrence Malick, the Cohen Brothers, or even folks like Woody Allen, these works like religious scriptures convey the authors’ rumination on life itself. While the works of Allen and the Cohens at their best make persuasive cases for the futility and pointlessness of existence, the others often reflect on these aspects as well, while conveying in their works a sense of the sacred, that there’s more to this predicament we find ourselves in than just sound and fury, that there seems to be some sublime sense of beauty and purpose to it, even if it’s not one the author fully grasps, but only conceives in glimpses.

We conceive of stories as something we just tell ourselves, but in the religious imagination, man is conceived as part of a story itself, a character in a story attempting to grasp it’s meaning, even though he’s only part way into the book.

So it is a question of truth, though it’s probably not the sort of questions of truth, that we in our modern predicament conceive of that well, where introspection is often abandoned for external observations. Where all that we desire is to be left alone, and for others to leave us alone, while we occupy ourselves with the hobbies of our choosing, while we just pass the time until we’re buried in the dirt. To think of life in the religious sense is to conceive it intimately, and perhaps that’s an uncomfortable thing to do.

Quote:Why Christians can take a view that the bible is poetry and also insist that Jesus really existed, had magical powers and rose from the dead.

Again, the genres are not as divisible in the pre-modern world as in ours. Historical elements, are used to serve a narrative purpose, the life of Jesus broken down and reorganized into a series of props, to convey his overarching message. And hardly any historian, Christian or otherwise, imagines that Jesus wasn’t a historical person, though they can acknowledge the way these texts are constructed in the premodern imagination, and take this into account in their historical analyses. And since I don’t subscribe to ontological naturalism, I do believe that Jesus was the messiah, and the Son of God, and who literally resurrected from the dead, while also conceiving these elements as having symbolic, or as you put it “poetic” significance.

Quote:I want my children to be independent and happy.
It is not for me to tell them what good is, and it is not for me to judge them.

And if they found this happiness in joining some violent hate group, in being destructive, would you still refrain from judgment, and be happy with it? I understand that’s an extreme, but I just want to see if there are some parameters on what you conceive as the happy life, in which judgements would be made, when living outside of those parameters.

I don’t see myself as telling my children what the good life is, my role as a parent, as someone who loves them, is that they are able to see this Good life for themselves, embodied in his parents, and his loved ones. I want them to be able to conceive of another form of life, not often seen in the halls of cafeteria tables, or in the pursuits of their schoolmates, that isn’t obtained by their occupational success, their popularity, or abundance of material pleasures, but rather conceived as part of something else. I can’t tell my children this, I can only show them this, by living a life in which they can partake is this profound sense of life itself.
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22-02-2015, 11:37 AM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(22-02-2015 08:29 AM)mordant Wrote:  You are reduced here to defining good in terms of itself. Effectively, "Good is just ... good -- as evidenced by being good". Societal morality defines good as that which sustainably conveys benefits and avoids harms -- at the level of society, and to the extent possible, at the individual level. Benefits = that which provides stability and continuity to the kind of society most of us, by consensus, which to live in; harms = that which destabilizes and disrupts that society.

Well, I’m defining good, in ways we might associate when the term a “good” person, we are in essence saying something about the qualities of who the person is, rather than it being really about the actions he partakes in. The actions only serve to illustrate for us the sort of person they are. Like fruits of a good tree.

Of course this is not the particular “good” commonly conceived in certain secular moral philosophies, and enlightenment inspired thoughts on the subjects, which in my view, is an entirely recent enterprise, created by folks who have abandon teleological beliefs that have undergirded premodern perceptions of morality.

I think the best way to deduce the meaning of such secular moral frames, is to see it almost as an entirely political enterprise, as a morality conceived from the perspective of the state, whose one and only goal is to preserve the social order. And our current modern predicament allows a great deal of flexibility here. We’re no longer reliant on the sort of social cohesion, communal bonds, needed for the maintenance of earlier societies. The only moral dictum, is to avoid disturbing the political order, to ensure that it continues running as a finely oiled machine. We can be folks who detest each other a great deal, but yet serve this purpose all the same, since the benefits can be mutual when we do.

I think the entire secular frame of morality, is often an incoherent mess, more occupied with the ever moving definition of harm, rather than addressing why we shouldn’t harm in the first place. A question which often solicits a variety of answers, of never ending moving targets. These moral frames rather than clarifying anything, often serves to obscure what’s being said. It would likely make more sense to abandon moral language all together, since it seems to serve as some sort of obstructive decorative frill. We can speak of whats best for survival, whats best for our economy, whats bests for maintaining the social order, without trying to make it all a part of some moral narrative we don’t really believe in to begin with. I think the entire secular moral enterprise, is an attempt to preserve the religious beliefs of earlier societies, that we fell in love with, but are never really at home in.

Quote:It's hard for many theists to see this because of the presupposition that humanity is fundamentally and deeply flawed and broken and hence couldn't possibly arrive at a positive, rational consensus about anything. .

Well, I think humanity is fundamentally and deeply flawed and broken, and I don’t need a religion to tell me that. If I were jump ship and become a non-believer I would still hold this as true. Yet I still think we can reach consensus about a variety of things, particularly political concerns, the way Bush and Saudi princes have.

Quote:Left to itself, fundamentalists especially believe that society would become a depraved, hellish situation like under Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot.

I don’t think that.

Quote:There is no suffering in goals not yet attained, only in goals thwarted. I'm not willing to rationalize human suffering, and in fact, neither are Christians, given the heaven they are gunning for. I say that if it's good enough for the afterlife, it's good enough for Real Life.

While I believe in a heaven of the here-after, i also believe in the heaven we can partake in the here and now, in the “transcendent present”, the kingdom of God neither lo here or there, but within you and among you. In a heaven conceived less as a place, but as a way of being, which has eternal implications. And it is a way of being, in which no suffering, no death, no inflection, no poverty, can separate us from. One found in slave hymnals, and broken down churches.
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22-02-2015, 12:43 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(22-02-2015 11:37 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Well, I’m defining good, in ways we might associate when the term a “good” person, we are in essence saying something about the qualities of who the person is, rather than it being really about the actions he partakes in. The actions only serve to illustrate for us the sort of person they are. Like fruits of a good tree.


well what use does your definition of good serve ? what point is there ? how does it influence anything ? there better be some validity buried in it otherwise no one gives a damn shit on whether its true or not

like how is a tree good ? how do you recognize something thats good when you see it ?

Quote:Of course this is not the particular “good” commonly conceived in certain secular moral philosophies, and enlightenment inspired thoughts on the subjects, which in my view, is an entirely recent enterprise, created by folks who have abandon teleological beliefs that have undergirded premodern perceptions of morality.

your point ?

Quote:I think the best way to deduce the meaning of such secular moral frames, is to see it almost as an entirely political enterprise, as a morality conceived from the perspective of the state, whose one and only goal is to preserve the social order. And our current modern predicament allows a great deal of flexibility here. We’re no longer reliant on the sort of social cohesion, communal bonds, needed for the maintenance of earlier societies. The only moral dictum, is to avoid disturbing the political order, to ensure that it continues running as a finely oiled machine. We can be folks who detest each other a great deal, but yet serve this purpose all the same, since the benefits can be mutual when we do.

I fail to see what your trying to prove with this

Quote:I think the entire secular frame of morality, is often an incoherent mess, more occupied with the ever moving definition of harm, rather than addressing why we shouldn’t harm in the first place. A question which often solicits a variety of answers, of never ending moving targets. These moral frames rather than clarifying anything, often serves to obscure what’s being said. It would likely make more sense to abandon moral language all together, since it seems to serve as some sort of obstructive decorative frill. We can speak of whats best for survival, whats best for our economy, whats bests for maintaining the social order, without trying to make it all a part of some moral narrative we don’t really believe in to begin with. I think the entire secular moral enterprise, is an attempt to preserve the religious beliefs of earlier societies, that we fell in love with, but are never really at home in.

the hypocrisy in this is deep, especially considering what you've been saying at the start of this thread

Quote: Well, I think humanity is fundamentally and deeply flawed and broken, and I don’t need a religion to tell me that. If I were jump ship and become a non-believer I would still hold this as true. Yet I still think we can reach consensus about a variety of things, particularly political concerns, the way Bush and Saudi princes have.

of course humans are flawed, why wouldn't we be ? nothing even supports the idea that any living thing can't be flawed

Quote:While I believe in a heaven of the here-after, i also believe in the heaven we can partake in the here and now, in the “transcendent present”, the kingdom of God neither lo here or there, but within you and among you. In a heaven conceived less as a place, but as a way of being, which has eternal implications. And it is a way of being, in which no suffering, no death, no inflection, no poverty, can separate us from. One found in slave hymnals, and broken down churches.

in other words a fantasy world inside your head
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22-02-2015, 02:14 PM (This post was last modified: 22-02-2015 02:20 PM by Tomasia.)
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(22-02-2015 12:43 PM)Ace Wrote:  well what use does your definition of good serve ? what point is there ? how does it influence anything ? there better be some validity buried in it otherwise no one gives a damn shit on whether its true or not

Nothing comes out of defining good, other than articulating what’s meant by it. Everything comes out of being good. No one has to give a damn about it, except those that do.

Quote:how do you recognize something thats good when you see it ?

You just do. When you see a man ladling out benedictions on the heads of strangers, giving drink to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, you see the good in it, even if you do not recognize what is it that makes it Good, and even if you find yourself incapable of the same goodness.

Quote: especially considering what you've been saying at the start of this thread

The thread shifted gears some time ago, and just sailed along like that.

Quote:in other words a fantasy world inside your head

Maybe, i'm not particularly convinced of that, but sure, maybe.
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22-02-2015, 02:38 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(22-02-2015 02:14 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
Quote:how do you recognize something thats good when you see it ?

You just do. When you see a man ladling out benedictions on the heads of strangers, giving drink to the thirsty, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, you see the good in it, even if you do not recognize what is it that makes it Good, and even if you find yourself incapable of the same goodness.

So, goodness is manifested and recognized through behavior, through actions.

We don't know what else that person believe or what they think or what they feel. It is only their behavior that defines goodness.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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22-02-2015, 02:42 PM (This post was last modified: 22-02-2015 02:50 PM by Stevil.)
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(22-02-2015 10:23 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
Quote:It is the preachyness and the fact that millions of people sell the bible as if it is a story of Truth that is quite off putting.
I think the Bible is a story of truth. But I think for many atheists truth has a very particular meaning, related to observations of the external world, the sort of truth one observes in laboratories, and based on observations of tangible facts, or realities that break down into eloquent mathematical forms. While the heart of religious truths, are introspective truths. The external world is only as important to them as its ability to help them see inward.
(22-02-2015 10:23 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  While religious stories may be entertaining, they’re not written exclusively for this purpose, in the way that the Twilight Series might be. This can also be said of the works of great novelist or artists, like Dostoevsky, Cormac McCarthy, Terrence Malick, the Cohen Brothers, or even folks like Woody Allen, these works like religious scriptures convey the authors’ rumination on life itself.
Yeah, sure. Most artists try to convey something into their art, be it music, sculptures, paintings, stories or whatnot. What I would term as a decent story is one that invokes thought, and emotion and imagination. One that lets the audience consider something and come to their own conclusions. Not one that seeks to convey a truth. That is preaching. I am an individual, I have my own life to live. I cannot be told what to do. I must live my life, not the life others would have me live. I must make my own mistakes, I don't strive to be perfect, I don't look to an authority for guidance on living the perfect life. That is no living (IMHO). Life is to be lived, decisions are to be made, mistakes are to be made.
I despise tradition, I despise self righteousness, I despise judgement.
What I like about The Unholy Ghost book (and the rest of the series) is that the character is real (She's a bit of a druggy loser) but in no way perfect. The author is writing a "romance" about two very unsavoury, imperfect people. He is neither rich nor handsome. He is a thug and breaks people's bones for a living. But what the author is showing is that despite it all, this guy is almost perfect for the girl. He is exactly what she needs. Non judgmental, supportive, understanding, caring (of her), he admires her, respects her etc. I really feel inadequate when comparing myself to this guy. It is an inspiration for me in my relationship with my wife. To be more supportive, more understanding, more patient. To have more faith in her even though I might not understand the situation, that I ought to trust her and support her.
I also hope to be like this with my own children. The book isn't the "truth", it isn't representing the way I ought to live my life. The book is the expression of the author, her views (probably based on her life experiences, her observations, her desires) much of it resonates with me. I am able to envision some of the messages she conveys, sometimes I'm nodding in agreement, sometimes I'm not.
This is the way I approach much other art works too. The artists are just a bunch of humans, expressing their ideas, their feelings, their experiences. We are all different, sometimes I find a profond idea that resonates, sometimes I don't. But ultimately it is my own life that I am living. I cannot be a follower, a fan, a worshipper, that is not what I would classify as living.
(22-02-2015 10:23 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  I don’t see myself as telling my children what the good life is, my role as a parent, as someone who loves them, is that they are able to see this Good life for themselves, embodied in his parents, and his loved ones. I want them to be able to conceive of another form of life, not often seen in the halls of cafeteria tables, or in the pursuits of their schoolmates, that isn’t obtained by their occupational success, their popularity, or abundance of material pleasures, but rather conceived as part of something else. I can’t tell my children this, I can only show them this, by living a life in which they can partake is this profound sense of life itself.
I'm sure I'm going to be tested by my children many times as they grow up. I am actually quite nervous and excited by the prospects of the challenges they will throw at me. I am hoping that I can live up to the challenge and support my children (in whatever path they choose) and have faith in them rather than trying to control. That is my challenge for myself as a parent.
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22-02-2015, 04:52 PM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(22-02-2015 11:37 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Well, I’m defining good, in ways we might associate when the term a “good” person, we are in essence saying something about the qualities of who the person is, rather than it being really about the actions he partakes in. The actions only serve to illustrate for us the sort of person they are. Like fruits of a good tree.
My late wife used to say, "don't pay attention to what they say; pay attention to what they do." The only way you can assess the goodness of a person is by their actions, particularly when those actions are consistent even when it costs them something like losing face or necessitating some sort of personal sacrifice or demonstrating awareness of others and not just self. When a person is consistently a good actor, particularly under the circumstances I just mentioned, then it's safe to assume that they are, at least for the present, a good person.

I don't see what point there is in divorcing goodness from actions unless the point is to maintain some fiction that goodness is some ineffable quality that's magically conveyed rather than a chosen path that's acted out.
(22-02-2015 11:37 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Of course this is not the particular “good” commonly conceived in certain secular moral philosophies, and enlightenment inspired thoughts on the subjects, which in my view, is an entirely recent enterprise, created by folks who have abandon teleological beliefs that have undergirded premodern perceptions of morality.
Sure; that's just a fancy way of saying we've become aware that we have a strong tendency to agency inference and similar biases, that in fact, goodness is not designed and bestowed but an emergent property of a maturing society.
(22-02-2015 11:37 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  I think the best way to deduce the meaning of such secular moral frames, is to see it almost as an entirely political enterprise, as a morality conceived from the perspective of the state, whose one and only goal is to preserve the social order.
Society is not the state. It would be a huge mistake to conflate society with the state, or to think it's nothing but power structures. The society is also family, community, friendship, employment, and various customs and conventions, as well as the private thoughts of all the individuals involved.
(22-02-2015 11:37 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  I think the entire secular frame of morality, is often an incoherent mess, more occupied with the ever moving definition of harm, rather than addressing why we shouldn’t harm in the first place. A question which often solicits a variety of answers, of never ending moving targets. These moral frames rather than clarifying anything, often serves to obscure what’s being said. It would likely make more sense to abandon moral language all together, since it seems to serve as some sort of obstructive decorative frill. We can speak of whats best for survival, whats best for our economy, whats bests for maintaining the social order, without trying to make it all a part of some moral narrative we don’t really believe in to begin with. I think the entire secular moral enterprise, is an attempt to preserve the religious beliefs of earlier societies, that we fell in love with, but are never really at home in.
You are looking for certitude and immutability that doesn't exist in the real world. And you are exaggerating the amount of change. Murder is still murder, rape is still rape. Marriage is even still marriage, albeit for more classes of people. And so forth.
(22-02-2015 11:37 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Well, I think humanity is fundamentally and deeply flawed and broken, and I don’t need a religion to tell me that. If I were jump ship and become a non-believer I would still hold this as true.
I'm not saying that on my bad days I'm not weary and pessimistic about some of my fellow humans, or that there aren't irredeemably bad people. Or even that life isn't in many ways just a fucked up absurdity. Or even that it's not possible that the human enterprise may yet terminate itself. However, I have come to believe that most people mean well and try their best to do well, given half a chance. That if you treat people like responsible adults, they tend to act like responsible adults. I see an encouraging progression over the past five centuries or so, and over the past century in particular, wherein humanity is crawling out of a very deep hole of superstition and ignorance, into the light of reason and knowledge. Despite two world wars and the advent of nuclear bombs, I think mankind is clearly better off overall in 2015 than it was in 1915. There is reason to hope that it will be yet better in 2115.
(22-02-2015 11:37 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  While I believe in a heaven of the here-after, i also believe in the heaven we can partake in the here and now, in the “transcendent present”, the kingdom of God neither lo here or there, but within you and among you. In a heaven conceived less as a place, but as a way of being, which has eternal implications. And it is a way of being, in which no suffering, no death, no inflection, no poverty, can separate us from. One found in slave hymnals, and broken down churches.
I would much prefer a present that didn't need transcending and rationalizations. I find suffering unacceptable and work in all the ways I know how to, to ease and eliminate it. Yeah, I do some mindfulness meditation and other techniques that help me to function in spite of the parameters of my personal purgatory, and to an extent turn lemons into lemonade. But that is just a pragmatic necessity, not some kind of a solution to the human condition, or some kind of overlooked utopia.

The only heaven we'll ever know is the one we as a species manage to make for ourselves. Either you throw up your hands in resignation and give up, or you keep trying. Rationalizing "peace in the midst of sorrow, joy in the midst of pain" as some kind of spiritualized heavenly reality doesn't cut it. That's giving up.
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23-02-2015, 02:45 AM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(22-02-2015 08:14 AM)mordant Wrote:  I was speaking more to societal morality which is a consensus or average of the individual morality of all the participants.
I don't think society can have morals. Morals are beliefs, individuals have beliefs. Society is merely a collection of individuals. Sure we all interact and there is a degree of influence and culture. But we are still individuals. We have no moral obligation to meet the median beliefs of the entire collection of society.
I could make a claim and say that in NZ people are more likely to be courteous and stand in an orderly line whereas in India people are more likely to push their way to the front. But of course there are going to be courteous Indians in India and pushy Kiwis in NZ.
An NZ atheist may think that prostitution and abortion are OK and ought to be legal and a Catholic NZer may think that prostitution and abortion are abhorrent, immoral and ought to be illegal, we are all Kiwis living within the same society and we don't agree on a common society morality.

(22-02-2015 08:14 AM)mordant Wrote:  To your point about delayed gratification, some individuals are able to delay gratification indefinitely, as when they give up their lives for others. I'd take a bullet for my wife, even though there is absolutely no percentage in it for me in terms of self-actualization -- other than that it fulfills my primal need as a man, to protect my woman, and that I value her survival over mine, if forced to choose between them.
Some people feel a sense of duty, perhaps they are raised to think men should sacrifice and save women and children. IDK.

I sometimes think that perhaps there is a fate worse than death. That for some people living on knowing that they could have saved a love one, but didn't, would be a life of misery and guilt and for that person perhaps death would be a welcome respite. So for them self sacrifice is the way to go.

(22-02-2015 08:14 AM)mordant Wrote:  A sufficiently thoughtful and aware person finds self-interest in self-sacrifice.
I have no interest in self sacrifice.
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23-02-2015, 11:43 AM
RE: The Religious Components of Moral Beliefs
(23-02-2015 02:45 AM)Stevil Wrote:  I don't think society can have morals. Morals are beliefs, individuals have beliefs. Society is merely a collection of individuals.
I never said that society was a moral agent or that it "has" morality. I said that morality is an emergent property of cooperation between two or more people, up to and including the level of society.
(23-02-2015 02:45 AM)Stevil Wrote:  I could make a claim and say that in NZ people are more likely to be courteous and stand in an orderly line whereas in India people are more likely to push their way to the front. But of course there are going to be courteous Indians in India and pushy Kiwis in NZ.
An NZ atheist may think that prostitution and abortion are OK and ought to be legal and a Catholic NZer may think that prostitution and abortion are abhorrent, immoral and ought to be illegal, we are all Kiwis living within the same society and we don't agree on a common society morality.
Nor did I say that the emergent consensus of societal morality is explicitly and willingly agreed to in every respect by every single member of society. However, conformity to the consensus is the price of freely participating in that society. One way or the other, a person will be ejected from or sanctioned by the society if they don't conform to it in certain ways.
(23-02-2015 02:45 AM)Stevil Wrote:  I sometimes think that perhaps there is a fate worse than death. That for some people living on knowing that they could have saved a love one, but didn't, would be a life of misery and guilt and for that person perhaps death would be a welcome respite. So for them self sacrifice is the way to go.
Yes, that could be a fate worse than death; such fates definitely exist and there are many of them. Death is just part of life; it's only a question of choice and timing. Sometimes death itself is the least of one's worries -- or at least not the greatest worry.
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