What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
01-02-2018, 09:20 AM (This post was last modified: 01-02-2018 09:26 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
(01-02-2018 09:06 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(31-01-2018 10:50 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  I recently watched a theistic critique of a video by Cosmic Skeptic. I've lately been trying to resist responding to videos like this, at least if they're more than a month or so old. When I do, it can often turn into an impromptu debate that just gets tiring after a while. But in the end, the stuff on morality just pushed me over the edge, so I posted a comment. I'm TranslatorCarminum, in case anyone wants to read my comment.

Anyway, this got me thinking about a point on the moral argument that I don't think gets made often enough. I think most debates on morality suffer from a definition problem, specifically with respect to the word "objective" (and, by extension, its antonym "subjective"). As far as I can tell, "objective morality" can refer to one of two things. First, it can refer to moral laws inherent to the cosmos that would hold true even if there were no sentient or even living beings in existence. Second, it can refer to moral guidelines by which legitimate moral judgments can be made across different cultures without anyone being guilty of ethnocentrism or cultural imperialism (essentially an escape from relativism).

Let's refer to the first meaning as "absolute morality" and the second meaning as "universal morality." In my experience, in many debates on morality, there's a sort of confusion or equivocation between these two ideas that leaves the atheist and the theist mostly talking past each other. Typically, the theist will appeal to the need for universal morality, and when the atheist offers a secular basis for universal morality, the theist will shift the goalposts and complain that the atheist has failed to account for absolute morality. Alternatively, the atheist might readily acknowledge that absolute morality does not exist, but the theist will respond as if it is universal morality that the atheist has denied or failed to account for, which is not necessarily the case.

So if you ask me if morality is objective or subjective, then, I must first know what you mean by those two terms. If by "objective" you mean absolute, then morality is definitely subjective. If instead you mean universal (or at least potentially so), then I believe morality is objective (or at least far more objective than subjective). To be more specific, while it may be premature to declare any definitive secular solution to the problem of moral relativism, the strides that we have so far made in that regard demonstrate clearly that it is far from the hopeless cause that divine command advocates seem to think it is.

I think debates on morality could be streamlined and made more effective if the debaters clarified and agreed on the relevant definitions from the outset. What do you think?

I'm curious would you say you understand what objective vs subjective means outsides of morality? Like objective truth?

I'd argue that anything that is not subjective (based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions) is objective. Absolute truths are also objective truths. Relative truths can also be objective truths, but not absolute truths.

My go to example is torturing innocent babies just for fun is morally wrong. If someone stated it's morally right, in my view they would be factually incorrect, such as if they said 1+1=3.

If morality is subjective, than a person who stated that it's morally right, is no more wrong, than someone who disagrees with me that Justin Bieber is a bad singer.

Objective morality, is a belief that moral facts exist, which is a requirement for the first statement to be true.

Absent of a teleological order, objective morality is not possible.

"Torturing innocent babies" is wrong. Really ?
I only torture the guilty ones. Facepalm

The debate is all bullshit. People LEARN , or purposely adopt their value systems, based on *something*. Objective AND subjective morality is all bullshit. It's a red herring, usually introduced by religionists who are ignorant of where cultural values come from, and who have never formally studied Ethics. The use of the word "fact" in this context is what is incorrect, and stupid. There are no moral "facts". A situation arises, it is evaluated, consciously or unconsciously, and decisions are made in brains. There's nothing objective about that. If during the evaluation an ethical system, previously learned or considered, is referenced, it's not subjective.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein It is objectively immoral to kill innocent babies. Please stick to the guilty babies.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like Bucky Ball's post
01-02-2018, 09:22 AM (This post was last modified: 01-02-2018 09:31 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
(01-02-2018 08:12 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  
(01-02-2018 12:05 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  In my experience with debating theists, it means, "In my black-and-white world where I demand there is a definitive answer to everything, whether that makes sense or not".

That, followed by being attacked if you say you don't believe in it. They immediately jump to asking me if something abhorrent (child rape is a common one) is "wrong". If I say "objectively, no", I get attacked for not believing child rape is wrong. When I say that subjectively, I feel it is, they say "well, that's just your opinion!" (obviously). When I agree and say that's basically how all of humanity handles it and these tend to be cultural assumptions, I get told "you can't get an ought from an is", then they'll ask the exact same question of "is X wrong", with X becoming increasingly vile. It's so disturbing.

I mean, it's a great way to be dismissive. If I step away from the debate for a day and come back, I get brushed off as "that guy who doesn't think child rape is wrong", and at that point, I honestly have no interest in correcting them.

Yeah, I feel you.

I think the problem is sometimes this:

"Everything is not objectively immoral (or moral)" gets equated with "Everything is objectively okay". Obviously it would go over such a person's head who is desperate to poison the well, but it's the stolen concept. They're accusing you of giving everything an acceptable moral score, based on the fact that you say there is no moral score.

Like I said earlier though, if we discovered X is objectively moral, (whatever that may mean), but X is one of these "vile" things, would the person then say it is okay? I think not. Objective morality just happens to line up with exactly what they think it should be. I would be able to simply reject this strange notion, and make my own judgement, whereas they are left explaining how objective morality would be wrong in that instance, while claiming that it can't be wrong.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Robvalue's post
01-02-2018, 09:24 AM (This post was last modified: 01-02-2018 10:03 AM by BikerDude.)
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
Objective or universal morality doesn't exist.
The Universe doesn't have morality.
People and to an extent animals do.
And if it was to be defined it would have to do with "well being".
But of course that's not simple.

I saw an amazing thing recently about Rats.
They did a study about how rats play with each other.
Apparently rats are the kings of play in the animal kingdom.
And they derive their social order from it.
Especially male rats.
If you put a large and small male rat together they will play.
One of the rats does this little dance that indicates an invitation to play (wrestle)
Of course the large rat wins and the play is over.
The interesting thing is that the large rat will on occasion let the small rat win.
Consistently around 2 or 3 bouts out of 10.
This is kind of a holy shit moment.
It's easy to see how the rats would have developed to use play to establish dominance.
It is perhaps more effective than actual fighting because neither is badly injured.
But the concept of allowing the small rat to win speaks of empathy.
I will never look at rats the same again.
I'm gonna have to watch that movie Ben from the 70's again.

I don't take this as an indication of a universal morality.
More as an indication that morality is an expression of traits that are shared among sentient creatures.
The ability to experience pain and pleasure, physical and mental and an understanding that those feeling are shared with other creatures.
Empathy grows from that. And I believe that is the basis for what we call morality.
And the groups with the best morality bring well being to the largest percentage of the group and so thrive.
It brings to mind a sort of survival of the "fittest group" idea.
That maybe morality is developed as an as an aspect of a group of like individuals and in the realm of competition between groups the fittest survive and pass on the morality.
The fittest being the group able to bring well being to the largest percentage of it's members. Who then are better able to contribute to the group.
And maybe not just through culture. Maybe it's more innate. Like the ritual of play among rats.
And maybe Religion is an expression of this innate effort. (For humans not rats. I don't think there is a Rat Jesus who died for their sins)
But it's not been allowed to develop. It's become stunted and old like a vestigial organ. It succeeded and now suffers from it's own success. Leading to the inevitable outcome.
Religion is the appendix or pinky toe of the moral tendencies of humans. A shriveled old vestigial organ that is infected and inflamed needing to be surgically removed.
In this sense the rats have won. They are superior in every way.
Hail king rat! The Rat Jesus comes!

http://www.pcrm.org/research/animaltesta...rstood-rat

[Image: dd8a916469d3542ad771c1d16a686b57.jpg]

[Image: barfly_condenados_pelo_vicio.gif]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like BikerDude's post
01-02-2018, 09:25 AM
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
(01-02-2018 09:20 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  The debate is all bullshit. People LEARN , or purposely adopt their value systems, based on *something*. Objective AND subjective morality is all bullshit.

Either morality is objective or subjective, there is no inbetween. You could say it's subjective and cultural and social influences play a part in our subjective preferences here, as they do in our taste in music of food.

If morality is not subjective, then it's objective--your hand waving aside.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
01-02-2018, 09:27 AM
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
(01-02-2018 09:25 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(01-02-2018 09:20 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  The debate is all bullshit. People LEARN , or purposely adopt their value systems, based on *something*. Objective AND subjective morality is all bullshit.

Either morality is objective or subjective, there is no inbetween. You could say it's subjective and cultural and social influences play a part in our subjective preferences here, as they do in our taste in music of food.

If morality is not subjective, then it's objective--your hand waving aside.

Sorry your Childish Holiness. Your Papal Pronouncements aside, YOU don't get to tell others how they think. It's neither.
Piss off.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein It is objectively immoral to kill innocent babies. Please stick to the guilty babies.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Bucky Ball's post
01-02-2018, 09:29 AM
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
Well case in point, someone already beat me to it.

Let's say we discovered torturing those innocent babies that keep coming up is objectively moral. Would Tom then give the go-ahead for doing this? Or would he ignore this "moral fact" in favour of his own opinion? If morality is to be objective, it does not require itself to happen to correlate with what anyone feels is right or wrong, or how they think it should be determined. Can't have it both ways.

Again, I'd say I don't give a shit what "objective morality" has to say about it, and I'd make my own decision.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Robvalue's post
01-02-2018, 09:30 AM
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
(01-02-2018 09:27 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(01-02-2018 09:25 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Either morality is objective or subjective, there is no inbetween. You could say it's subjective and cultural and social influences play a part in our subjective preferences here, as they do in our taste in music of food.

If morality is not subjective, then it's objective--your hand waving aside.

Sorry your Childish Holiness. Your Papal Pronouncements aside, YOU don't get to tell others how they think. It's neither.
Piss off.

No but I can tell you what certain words mean or imply, particularly when those meanings are further supported by even the most basic dictionary definitions.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
01-02-2018, 09:37 AM
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
(01-02-2018 09:29 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Well case in point, someone already beat me to it.

Let's say we discovered torturing those innocent babies that keep coming up is objectively moral. Would Tom then give the go-ahead for doing this? Or would he ignore this "moral fact" in favour of his own opinion? If morality is to be objective, it does not require itself to happen to correlate with what anyone feels is right or wrong, or how they think it should be determined. Can't have it both ways.

Again, I'd say I don't give a shit what "objective morality" has to say about it, and I'd make my own decision.

There is no "objective morality".
There may be moral systems which claim to be "objective moral systems", but the fact is, a choice is considered, and that's a complex, mostly unconscious war of possible actions.

Moral activity and morality more not the same.
If a terrorist took a baby hostage, and said to you, either YOU torture and kill this baby right now, OR I blow up this building with 5,000 people in it, right now .. you would have to pause for a few seconds to think about what is moral IN THAT SITUATION. It's not "subjective" and it's not "objective". The situation at hand is evaluated with many inputs.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein It is objectively immoral to kill innocent babies. Please stick to the guilty babies.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Bucky Ball's post
01-02-2018, 09:39 AM
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
(01-02-2018 09:30 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(01-02-2018 09:27 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Sorry your Childish Holiness. Your Papal Pronouncements aside, YOU don't get to tell others how they think. It's neither.
Piss off.

No but I can tell you what certain words mean or imply, particularly when those meanings are further supported by even the most basic dictionary definitions.

Oh really ? You can ?
Define your god.
Laugh out loadLaugh out loadLaugh out load

BTW, .... no. All you can do is say what they mean to you, unless you got your Certificate in Mind Reading at your fake school.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein It is objectively immoral to kill innocent babies. Please stick to the guilty babies.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
01-02-2018, 09:42 AM
RE: What Exactly Does "Objective" Morality Mean?
(31-01-2018 10:50 PM)Glossophile Wrote:  I recently watched a theistic critique of a video by Cosmic Skeptic. I've lately been trying to resist responding to videos like this, at least if they're more than a month or so old. When I do, it can often turn into an impromptu debate that just gets tiring after a while. But in the end, the stuff on morality just pushed me over the edge, so I posted a comment. I'm TranslatorCarminum, in case anyone wants to read my comment.

Anyway, this got me thinking about a point on the moral argument that I don't think gets made often enough. I think most debates on morality suffer from a definition problem, specifically with respect to the word "objective" (and, by extension, its antonym "subjective"). As far as I can tell, "objective morality" can refer to one of two things. First, it can refer to moral laws inherent to the cosmos that would hold true even if there were no sentient or even living beings in existence. Second, it can refer to moral guidelines by which legitimate moral judgments can be made across different cultures without anyone being guilty of ethnocentrism or cultural imperialism (essentially an escape from relativism).

Let's refer to the first meaning as "absolute morality" and the second meaning as "universal morality." In my experience, in many debates on morality, there's a sort of confusion or equivocation between these two ideas that leaves the atheist and the theist mostly talking past each other. Typically, the theist will appeal to the need for universal morality, and when the atheist offers a secular basis for universal morality, the theist will shift the goalposts and complain that the atheist has failed to account for absolute morality. Alternatively, the atheist might readily acknowledge that absolute morality does not exist, but the theist will respond as if it is universal morality that the atheist has denied or failed to account for, which is not necessarily the case.

So if you ask me if morality is objective or subjective, then, I must first know what you mean by those two terms. If by "objective" you mean absolute, then morality is definitely subjective. If instead you mean universal (or at least potentially so), then I believe morality is objective (or at least far more objective than subjective). To be more specific, while it may be premature to declare any definitive secular solution to the problem of moral relativism, the strides that we have so far made in that regard demonstrate clearly that it is far from the hopeless cause that divine command advocates seem to think it is.

I think debates on morality could be streamlined and made more effective if the debaters clarified and agreed on the relevant definitions from the outset. What do you think?

An objective moral code is one that is based on the observable, verifiable facts of reality. An objective morality is not based on the whim of the moment, on empathy, on what someone says is right, on what society says is right or what some supernatural being says is right. It recognizes the absoluteness of reality and assumes the primacy of facts over feelings.

A moral code is a set of values and principles to guide one's choices and actions which in turn determine the course of one's life. It's a set of values which correspond to the facts relevant to the task of living one's life according to one's nature. These facts are what they are independent of one's feelings. something is right because it corresponds to reality. If one gets his moral code based on the say so of others or of society or of some preacher or a book or just by the whim of the moment, then one's moral code is subjective. If one gets his moral code from identifying facts and the recognition that facts are absolutes, i.e. obtain independently of conscious activity, then one's moral code is objective.

Also objective morality assumes free will, which I define as the ability to think or not to think.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: