Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
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09-12-2016, 08:48 PM
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
All morality is subjective.

However, I'm pretty sure that some things are all but universally accepted as evil acts, such as genocide. Especially genocide conducted on the whole human race because you're displeased with your own work and want them to have been properly worshiping you.

I might not care if the deer thinks me eating it is evil or not... but the deer are certainly right to call any deer that worships me and says I'm "a loving hunter" a fucking idiot, and to call me evil.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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10-12-2016, 06:24 AM
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
(09-12-2016 08:48 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  All morality is subjective.

However, I'm pretty sure that some things are all but universally accepted as evil acts, such as genocide. Especially genocide conducted on the whole human race because you're displeased with your own work and want them to have been properly worshiping you.

I couldn't disagree more. Let's look at America for an example. 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. One of the central beliefs of Christianity is that god is the source of moral goodness, and that every action that god performs is morally good and justified. Many Christians would say something to the effect of "if god did it, then he had just reasons for doing so, even if it required drowning the entire population."

For Christians, it's very simple. If god did it, or commanded it, it was good. End of story.

If a person subscribes to a different kind of morality, I don't think it would be accurate to identify them as Christian, but that's perhaps a slightly different topic.
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10-12-2016, 06:33 AM
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
(09-12-2016 05:24 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(23-11-2016 10:53 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  You can form a rational basis for right and wrong from denoting harm that is caused by certain actions. This would be external to individual opinion.

So I can assert that god drowning everyone on the planet, is indeed "evil".

If I kill a deer and eat it, I am no doubt causing harm to the deer, but do you really think we could determine that killing a deer and eating it is evil?

There is no way to form a rational basis for right and wrong from denoting harm. The only thing you can determine is what you like (prefer), which is purely subjective.

When you tell us that "drowning everyone on the planet, is indeed "evil"", the only thing you are actually revealing to us is that "drowning everyone on the planet" is something that you don't like (or you dislike).

I haven't read this entire thread yet, but wanted to challenge this in case it wasn't challenged later in the thread.

Anyone know if the OP still around? I would love to have a chat him....

It's a little bit more than my personal preference, most people would agree and it does demonstrable harm not just to people, but animals as well.

Ultimately a religious person can assert that a god choosing genocide is somehow just, but it would be a rather hollow claim, they could only assert that their god had his "reasons" without knowing what those reasons are. The person can then only assert what they think this god's reasons are, with no evidence that this god exists and that they have direct communication with it.

I believe Velvet is still here.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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10-12-2016, 08:19 AM
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
But even those Christians would not call genocide moral, any more than they would call murder moral. However, most people agree that there are times it is justified to commit an otherwise immoral act, such as killing someone deliberately because you knew they were trying to kill you. If five guys with AK-47s come onto my property, I'm going to intentionally an with malice aforethought set up an ambush position or three, and kill all of them if I can. Under other circumstances, ambushing and killing five men would be a morally indefensible act... but in this case we'd call it justified.

The Christian position on genocide is that God gets to determine how much "evil" in a population constitutes "worthy of genocide", and therefore justifies killing them all, even the babies among them. They assert that God knows more than we do, so we're not in a position to properly judge his actions. It's what makes them so dangerous in their thinking... but at no point would they say genocide was good, only justifiable. That we happen to find their justification to be horrific and disturbing doesn't mean it isn't widely accepted as justified and thus morally acceptable. That's the point of the OP; without some "God Wills It" standard on which to base our judgments, how can we tell them that their ideas are unacceptable, that they cannot justify things using their imaginary friend?

It's why I emphasize the idea that there's no such thing as non-relative morality. As long as they think there is some higher moral standard, then they can use this imaginary friend idea to elevate their relative (and horrifying) moral ideas to the level of Objective Morality™, at least as far as they see it-- which is all it takes for them to act in horrifying ways.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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10-12-2016, 01:56 PM (This post was last modified: 10-12-2016 02:03 PM by Deltabravo.)
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
(23-11-2016 04:11 AM)Velvet Wrote:  Hey guys, I hope you are all felling wonderful today, especially Jenny Bowing, so, a couple weeks ago one of my students, knowing I'm an atheist as him, asked about the bases for our morality.

(Keep in mind that english is not my first language, and try to ignore any horrendous errors that you might find)

What he was actually after tho (he told me this week) was an answer to this video:


Here we see W.L. Craig raping an unprepared guy, following with some maieutic... (Look at the way he looks at the guy like he is a tasty prey)

Well, i'm not a philosopher so I thought it was wise to think and research a bit more on the topic... and I found some very interesting piece of paper: a letter from an atheist to W.L. Craig about this same issue.

Now, I don't know if this is a fake from Craig, and even if it isn't it could still be someone trolling Craig...

The letter talks about the moral implications of setting morality as a social/cultural or/+ evolutionary construct, in which one who understands that both of those (or any combination of those) would not be objective, and ultimately, not meaningful as a basis for any moral judgment.

As a honest thinker, one is forced to apply skepticism to his moral intuitious, and until he is able to find rational justification he shouldn't regard them as anything more than his personal opinion, maybe learned from culture or "infused" by natural selection.

Then, now basically a Nihilist, one is unable to dish any moral judgment, and is rendered incapable of honestly telling why we shouldn't torture a child.

There is any validity to refer to right and wrong using bases of actions that maximize humanity's long term survival? Why it would be the case?

There's any validity to refer to right and wrong using bases of actions that minimize human suffering?

I'm interested in knowing you guys take on this subject, have you ever thought about it? What are your basis to say action X is wrong?

Hi Velvet

What you are engaging in is a debate about meta-ethics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta-ethics

This is the study of ethics which compares different ethical theories. Most ethical theories simply don't bear logical analysis. Egoism, for instance, doesn't make sense because if you say to someone that they "should" do what makes them happy, that may mean they would shag your wife, so you wouldn't even want to put that sort of principle forward as something to abide by. In ethical relativism it might be said that ethics depends on what society considers as being moral, but this begs the question of what a "society" is so that one could say that anything could be moral if some group of people believes it to be so.

If you look at the Wiki page you see near the bottom the concept of Moral Rationalism. I would say this is as objective a moral philosophy as you will find. In the law, for example, this type of moral approach is taken. A judge will be asked to decide a case where the existing law does not clearly give an answer and he will have to ask what would be a fair and just result. He will look at the situation and put himself in the position of the parties in front of him and take a "reasoned" approach. That will mean that he will look at both arguments from the two sides and will ask what a "reasonable man" would do. He has to take into account that whatever he says will determine how future cases are decided and he will want to do what is fair for any person who might find themselves on either side of the dispute. He would consider how he would want to be treated if he found himself on either side of the case so he has to be impartial and "objective".

There are some English cases where courts have had to consider the rights and wrongs of cricketers being allowed to hit balls over fences into urban areas where they could hit people. One could weigh the comparative happiness of the cricketers versus the risk of harm to the person who might be hit by a cricket ball, but, ultimately you have to say that it might be you, your child or a friend who could be hit and killed or injured by a cricket ball so you look at it "objectively" by applying reason, not by adhering to a set of moral rules. You look at morality as though you are looking at life with a veil in front of your eyes and you ask what you would do if it was you behind the veil, because it might be some day. What would you want done to you if you were in that situation?

If you study law, where judges have to make these sorts of decisions thousand of times, you never see them relying on a set of moral precepts or appealing to an absolute morality. They give reasoned answers based on the factual situations they are presented with and they have no problem coming to fair and just results. That, I feel, is about as close as you are going to get to an objective morality. What would you do if it was you in either position in a dispute. In English law they ask "What would the man on the Clapham omnibus say?" He is a hypothetical person who looks at things "objectively" and reasonably: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_man_on...am_omnibus

You can't justify theft because even the thief would not want to be the victim of theft, so we make stealing wrong for everyone and we don't compare relative happiness of the thief and victim. We just see that you can't have a rational, sensible or reasonable moral or legal system unless we apply rules which we would want applied to ourselves. I wouldn't want to be stolen from or assaulted, and neither would you.
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10-12-2016, 03:41 PM
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
(10-12-2016 06:33 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  It's a little bit more than my personal preference, most people would agree and it does demonstrable harm not just to people, but animals as well.

Ultimately a religious person can assert that a god choosing genocide is somehow just, but it would be a rather hollow claim, they could only assert that their god had his "reasons" without knowing what those reasons are. The person can then only assert what they think this god's reasons are, with no evidence that this god exists and that they have direct communication with it.

Why is it wrong to cause harm to other animals/people?

When Europeans first colonized North America, they did a great deal of harm to the indigenous peoples, but the Europeans benefited greatly.

Why was it wrong for the Europeans to do harm to the indigenous?

Similarly, when I kill a deer, it no doubt harms the deer, but I get the benefit of acquiring free-range, organic, lean protein. Is it wrong for me to kill a deer? If so, why?
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10-12-2016, 03:48 PM (This post was last modified: 10-12-2016 03:52 PM by Matt Finney.)
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
(10-12-2016 08:19 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  But even those Christians would not call genocide moral, any more than they would call murder moral. However, most people agree that there are times it is justified to commit an otherwise immoral act, such as killing someone deliberately because you knew they were trying to kill you. If five guys with AK-47s come onto my property, I'm going to intentionally an with malice aforethought set up an ambush position or three, and kill all of them if I can. Under other circumstances, ambushing and killing five men would be a morally indefensible act... but in this case we'd call it justified.

The Christian position on genocide is that God gets to determine how much "evil" in a population constitutes "worthy of genocide", and therefore justifies killing them all, even the babies among them. They assert that God knows more than we do, so we're not in a position to properly judge his actions. It's what makes them so dangerous in their thinking... but at no point would they say genocide was good, only justifiable. That we happen to find their justification to be horrific and disturbing doesn't mean it isn't widely accepted as justified and thus morally acceptable. That's the point of the OP; without some "God Wills It" standard on which to base our judgments, how can we tell them that their ideas are unacceptable, that they cannot justify things using their imaginary friend?

It's why I emphasize the idea that there's no such thing as non-relative morality. As long as they think there is some higher moral standard, then they can use this imaginary friend idea to elevate their relative (and horrifying) moral ideas to the level of Objective Morality™, at least as far as they see it-- which is all it takes for them to act in horrifying ways.

If morality is not objective, then it is merely subjective preference, and not really morality at all.

Trying to explain to someone why your subjective preferences are better than theirs, is like trying to explain to someone that the music you like is better than the music they like. It's nonsense.
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10-12-2016, 04:00 PM
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
(23-11-2016 04:11 AM)Velvet Wrote:  Hey guys, I hope you are all felling wonderful today, especially Jenny Bowing, so, a couple weeks ago one of my students, knowing I'm an atheist as him, asked about the bases for our morality.

(Keep in mind that english is not my first language, and try to ignore any horrendous errors that you might find)

What he was actually after tho (he told me this week) was an answer to this video:


Here we see W.L. Craig raping an unprepared guy, following with some maieutic... (Look at the way he looks at the guy like he is a tasty prey)

Well, i'm not a philosopher so I thought it was wise to think and research a bit more on the topic... and I found some very interesting piece of paper: a letter from an atheist to W.L. Craig about this same issue.

Now, I don't know if this is a fake from Craig, and even if it isn't it could still be someone trolling Craig...

The letter talks about the moral implications of setting morality as a social/cultural or/+ evolutionary construct, in which one who understands that both of those (or any combination of those) would not be objective, and ultimately, not meaningful as a basis for any moral judgment.

As a honest thinker, one is forced to apply skepticism to his moral intuitious, and until he is able to find rational justification he shouldn't regard them as anything more than his personal opinion, maybe learned from culture or "infused" by natural selection.

Then, now basically a Nihilist, one is unable to dish any moral judgment, and is rendered incapable of honestly telling why we shouldn't torture a child.

There is any validity to refer to right and wrong using bases of actions that maximize humanity's long term survival? Why it would be the case?

There's any validity to refer to right and wrong using bases of actions that minimize human suffering?

I'm interested in knowing you guys take on this subject, have you ever thought about it? What are your basis to say action X is wrong?

As an atheists, as someone who doesn't believe in objective morality. You have no basis to claim that action X is wrong, beyond stating your own personal preference. More equivalent to stating that that top doesn't go well with that skirt, than a truth statement.

Atheist tend to frame it as matter of harm. But even then, when stating x is wrong, they're merely suggesting that it's wrong for you to hurt others, because they personally don't like it when you do.

"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."
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10-12-2016, 04:46 PM
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
(10-12-2016 04:00 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  As an atheists...
Facepalm
(10-12-2016 04:00 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Atheist tend to frame it as matter of harm....they're
Facepalm

Ceterum censeo, religionem delendam esse
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10-12-2016, 05:23 PM
RE: Where is the Basis for our Judgments?
(10-12-2016 03:41 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(10-12-2016 06:33 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  It's a little bit more than my personal preference, most people would agree and it does demonstrable harm not just to people, but animals as well.

Ultimately a religious person can assert that a god choosing genocide is somehow just, but it would be a rather hollow claim, they could only assert that their god had his "reasons" without knowing what those reasons are. The person can then only assert what they think this god's reasons are, with no evidence that this god exists and that they have direct communication with it.

Why is it wrong to cause harm to other animals/people?

When Europeans first colonized North America, they did a great deal of harm to the indigenous peoples, but the Europeans benefited greatly.

Why was it wrong for the Europeans to do harm to the indigenous?

Similarly, when I kill a deer, it no doubt harms the deer, but I get the benefit of acquiring free-range, organic, lean protein. Is it wrong for me to kill a deer? If so, why?

Because of a sense of empathy.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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