What IS morality, really?
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18-06-2016, 01:24 AM
RE: What IS morality, really?
There does not seem to be much reason to think that a single definition of morality will be applicable to all moral discussions. One reason for this is that "morality" seems to be used in two distinct broad senses: a descriptive sense and a normative sense. More particularly, the term "morality" can be used either descriptively to refer to:

• certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior, or,

• normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

—Excerpted from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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18-06-2016, 06:52 AM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2016 06:55 AM by Matt Finney.)
RE: What IS morality, really?
(18-06-2016 01:24 AM)SYZ Wrote:  There does not seem to be much reason to think that a single definition of morality will be applicable to all moral discussions. One reason for this is that "morality" seems to be used in two distinct broad senses: a descriptive sense and a normative sense. More particularly, the term "morality" can be used either descriptively to refer to:

• certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior, or,

• normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

—Excerpted from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/

The definition is the part that is always argued about. That's what all morality discussions are about....trying to figure out what the heck people are talking about when they say "morality".

A moral realist, for example, wouldn't accept neilxt's definition of morality. A moral realist believes that morality exists regardless of what any community thinks. A moral realist might say something like "slavery is wrong regardless of whether or not it is endorsed by our community, and even if everyone in a particular community endorses slavery, it's still wrong."

I expect that most people are moral realists (after all, most are religious), and I think a lot of people even interpret their apparent (to them) ability to sense right and wrong (likely through empathy, compassion, etc..) as proof of a deity. This is because they can't see how real morality could exist in an indifferent universe. Moral realists would call what neilxst is talking about, merely societal norms, taboos, and laws, but not morality. This can create a lot of confusion with people talking past each other, because in their minds they are talking about different things.

Personally, I don't even like to use to the word morality anymore, because I don't believe that what most people (moral realists) are talking about when they say "morality" even exists. I believe that when most people describe morality or their morals, that they are actually only talking about preference (whether communal or individual). Hence, my position is that of moral nihilism.
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18-06-2016, 07:25 AM
RE: What IS morality, really?
(17-06-2016 09:34 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(17-06-2016 09:27 PM)neilxt Wrote:  Wouldn't you? Most nations consider it highly laudable, and give high honor (posthumously) to people that do that and high honour, too to people that put themselves at risk of that to achieve their nation's aims. If you are saying that's not a "moral value" then that is only because you are prioritizing your communities differently. Most "patriots" would disagree with you.

I don't comsider such a specific action to be inherently moral. Service to country might be considered honorable and upholding your commitments might be considered ethical, but going and dying in a war being fought for bad/poor/immoral reasons would not make a person's death a moral action just because they went to war and died. Brave to face war and possibility of death? Sure. Dying in war? Don't see how that's a moral choice being made.

Dying in a war to save your comrade? Sure, I'd call that a moral choice. Dying because you've been ordered to? No, I wouldn't call that a moral action or choice. You're picking a very specific case but still leaving it vaguely defined.

Again, though, you are only telling us how you prioritize between communities on a personal level. High praise, medals, citations, war widow benefits etc... etc... are ways of saying "this is a supreme moral sacrifice". The nation community benefits and it is the nation community that instills that personal morality on behalf of the nation community.
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18-06-2016, 07:46 AM
RE: What IS morality, really?
(17-06-2016 10:56 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  So if I understand what you're saying, you're describing morality as a particular moral framework espoused by the community at large (not necessarily in its entirety, but at least in a rough cohesion), and observing that it lines up with things that were of utility (perceived or actual) to its survival, be it in the present or in the past?

I'm uncomfortable with the phrase "community at large" because it is both too specific and too amorphous. Everyone belongs to many communities of various sizes. Every one of those communities has its own "moral code" which in many instances defers the majority of that code upwards to a larger community. Like "you should always obey the law but if push comes to shove protect the family". Everyone has a moral code of some sort or another (except psychopaths) but every facet of that comes as something you should do to protect or promote some aspect of some community. Even gangs are communities. Many of their morals conflict with morals of a larger community that we are part of so we call them immoral but in the grand view I don't think there are any absolutes, just different communities, often at war.
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18-06-2016, 07:55 AM
RE: What IS morality, really?
(18-06-2016 07:25 AM)neilxt Wrote:  
(17-06-2016 09:34 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  I don't comsider such a specific action to be inherently moral. Service to country might be considered honorable and upholding your commitments might be considered ethical, but going and dying in a war being fought for bad/poor/immoral reasons would not make a person's death a moral action just because they went to war and died. Brave to face war and possibility of death? Sure. Dying in war? Don't see how that's a moral choice being made.

Dying in a war to save your comrade? Sure, I'd call that a moral choice. Dying because you've been ordered to? No, I wouldn't call that a moral action or choice. You're picking a very specific case but still leaving it vaguely defined.

Again, though, you are only telling us how you prioritize between communities on a personal level. High praise, medals, citations, war widow benefits etc... etc... are ways of saying "this is a supreme moral sacrifice". The nation community benefits and it is the nation community that instills that personal morality on behalf of the nation community.

You're conflating issues. You said that dying for your country is a moral choice. As I pointed out, dying during war while in service to your country, does not automatically make one's death a "moral choice." You're simply pointing out your desire to make it one. And now you seem to be suggesting that all service from someone in the military is a moral choice.

What makes it a moral choice or not are the reasons one makes the choice. Defense of the community for the sake of the community? I'd probably call that a moral choice. Joining the military for the money? No. Joining because you didn't know what else to do with your life? No. Joining to try and impress members of the sex you're attracted to? No. You're ignoring the fact that people die during war who didn't actually make the moral choice to do so.

Following orders and doing a good thing doesn't make one moral necessarily. Because if you're not the one thinking about the moral issues at hand and you're relying on someone else's moral compass, you're (at best) amoral. It's also the reason people use the "I was just following orders" defense when caught doing something morally indefensible. They should have been thinking about the moral issues and refused to do a clearly immoral action (like say, torturing people).

I point this out because the religious think they have a monopoly on morality because they have a book with rules. But following those rules doesn't make them moral, it makes them amoral. Because they aren't considering the moral issues of the world and community they live in, they're simply blindly following someone else's concepts of morality.

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18-06-2016, 08:09 AM
RE: What IS morality, really?
(17-06-2016 09:12 PM)kingschosen Wrote:  Oh God no.

Not this horse again.

While the discussion can get repetitive, morality is one of the most important topics we can discuss.

It would be my opinion that the topic could have it's own subforum.

Help for the living. Hope for the dead. ~ R.G. Ingersoll

Freedom offers opportunity. Opportunity confers responsibility. Responsibility to use the freedom we enjoy wisely, honestly and humanely. ~ Noam Chomsky
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18-06-2016, 08:13 AM
RE: What IS morality, really?
(18-06-2016 07:55 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  I point this out because the religious think they have a monopoly on morality because they have a book with rules. But following those rules doesn't make them moral, it makes them amoral. Because they aren't considering the moral issues of the world and community they live in, they're simply blindly following someone else's concepts of morality.

Consider that for a moment.

"I was just following orders." is not a sufficient defense for war crimes or any criminal activity.

Flip that around and it should not be a valid justification for moral activity either.

Blind obedience reduces someone to an unthinking, amoral automaton.

Help for the living. Hope for the dead. ~ R.G. Ingersoll

Freedom offers opportunity. Opportunity confers responsibility. Responsibility to use the freedom we enjoy wisely, honestly and humanely. ~ Noam Chomsky
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18-06-2016, 08:18 AM
RE: What IS morality, really?
(18-06-2016 08:13 AM)Fatbaldhobbit Wrote:  
(18-06-2016 07:55 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  I point this out because the religious think they have a monopoly on morality because they have a book with rules. But following those rules doesn't make them moral, it makes them amoral. Because they aren't considering the moral issues of the world and community they live in, they're simply blindly following someone else's concepts of morality.

Consider that for a moment.

"I was just following orders." is not a sufficient defense for war crimes or any criminal activity.

Flip that around and it should not be a valid justification for moral activity either.

Blind obedience reduces someone to an unthinking, amoral automaton.

Yep, that's my point. Thumbsup

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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18-06-2016, 08:19 AM
RE: What IS morality, really?
(18-06-2016 06:52 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  The definition is the part that is always argued about. That's what all morality discussions are about....trying to figure out what the heck people are talking about when they say "morality".
Not this one. I'm not trying to define what is and is not moral. I'm trying to explain what we even mean by the term and explain why it is so hard to get very much agreement on specifics.

(18-06-2016 06:52 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  A moral realist, for example, wouldn't accept neilxt's definition of morality. A moral realist believes that morality exists regardless of what any community thinks. A moral realist might say something like "slavery is wrong regardless of whether or not it is endorsed by our community, and even if everyone in a particular community endorses slavery, it's still wrong."
They might, but again "slavery is wrong regardless of whether or not it is endorsed by our community" is a moral choice in its own right. Where does THAT come from? I put it to you that that comes from prioritizing a larger community, one where the slaves are in-group members, not part of an out-group.

(18-06-2016 06:52 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I expect that most people are moral realists (after all, most are religious),
Another community with its own moral code,

(18-06-2016 06:52 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Moral realists would call what neilxst is talking about, merely societal norms, taboos, and laws, but not morality.
and neilxt would call that a statement of moral values in its own right which comes in one way or another from their sense of community

(18-06-2016 06:52 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Personally, I don't even like to use to the word morality anymore, because I don't believe that what most people (moral realists) are talking about when they say "morality" even exists. I believe that when most people describe morality or their morals, that they are actually only talking about preference (whether communal or individual).
That comes from the belief that there must be one "right" set of moral values. Once you fully grok where they comes from you can understand why there are so many different points of view on what is a "right" moral value. And why they change over time, as well, and even why they don't change even when they most painfully need to. "Don't change your values" is a moral imperative, too, in some communities.
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18-06-2016, 08:25 AM
RE: What IS morality, really?
(18-06-2016 01:24 AM)SYZ Wrote:  ... the term "morality" can be used either descriptively to refer to:

• certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior, or,

• normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

—Excerpted from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/

That's actually only one description because "rational" is defined largely by community standards and "not rational" is measured by deviation from accepted moral standards.
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