Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Categories

Axis & Allies 1942 Online is now available in Early Access! Buy it on Steam. The FAQ is available.
New Premium Module: Tyrants of the Moonsea! Read More
Attention, new and old users! Please read the new rules of conduct for the forums, and we hope you enjoy your stay!

Theism - The feel in your head

FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
First off: Don't throw a fit, the title is a joking reference to our old politics thread.

I'm making this thread as a companion thread for the politics thread. In the new politics thread we had some good discussion on theistic (Christian) morals. I posed the following questions to @mashedtaters who unfortunately never go back to me. Perhaps we could kick off with this, especially since he said he was looking forward to it :P

In general if you have a god-belief that you believe is true, I would love to hear what you believe and why. I'm sure others would as well. If you hold a belief that you don't believe is true, I would like hear to why as well, and if you don't believe, feel free to share that! Personally, I do not believe.

@Grond0
Ok, so, using the tone of your example, what if I believed in being sexist was the right thing? I don’t believe this, but it’s hypothetical.

Without an objective standard of morality, why should I not be sexist now? Because it’s the general consensus? The general consensus in the past has often been wrong, so how I do I know it’s “wrong” to be sexist? What method do you use to evaluate whether or not something is “good” or “evil”? Religion has always served the role of western civilization’s conscience (though not necessarily with perfection) until recently, and I believe this is something we are severely lacking today in our politics.

(I look forward to the answers later. I’m checking out now. Peace and love to you all.)


What method did you use to discover that there is an objective morality? What method do you use to discover what it entails? Have we discovered all of it? When we discussing morals, how do we know whether we are in agreement with the objective morality? For example, why did people used to think slavery was not wrong?

ThacoBell
«13456711

Comments

  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,066
    I believe gods and goddesses in video games do exist. In fact I'm sure of it! Why, just the other day I was lollygagging around Ihinipalit and got stopped by Sheogorath personally! Something about some big head and a fork or something. Well, yeah... it was late and I was dead drunk... so I can't remember anything else. But Sheogorath still directly spoke to me in my head!

    FinneousPJ
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 5,354
    I'm agnostic about the existence of god(s). However, I do have a clear view that if there is a god who demands that they are worshipped, I would not wish to worship them. That's no doubt partly the result of being brought up as a unitarian, which is an unusual religion in that it generally avoids dogma.

    My views on gods are effectively an extension of the way I feel about people - those who demand attention tend to least deserve it. I recognize that in taking that stance I'm effectively applying human morality and standards to a god and that may be entirely inappropriate - but it's the way I currently feel. Possibly if I had ever had a 'Road to Damascus' experience my feelings about this would be different ...

    FinneousPJBelgarathMTHGrammarsalad
  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,761
    Atheist here. I do not believe in existence of any gods and I do think that their existence is unprobable. And even if they did existed, I still wouldn't see a reason as to why worship them. For the sole basis the are gods? Or maybe because if I don't they'll punish me for eternity? If the latter was the case, such being is not worthy minimal ammount of respect, not to mention worship. No misdeed is so severe as to apply eternal, endless punishemnt over it.

    As for morality, I think it is subjective and also depends on cultural context, social standards and so on. I also think that natural selection might have resulted in certain behaviour patterns being more preferable than others. You can't, after all, build a healthy society with murder, betrayal, rape and so on.

    KamigoroshiGrond0FinneousPJBelgarathMTH
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Grond0 said:

    I'm agnostic about the existence of god(s). However, I do have a clear view that if there is a god who demands that they are worshipped, I would not wish to worship them. That's no doubt partly the result of being brought up as a unitarian, which is an unusual religion in that it generally avoids dogma.

    My views on gods are effectively an extension of the way I feel about people - those who demand attention tend to least deserve it. I recognize that in taking that stance I'm effectively applying human morality and standards to a god and that may be entirely inappropriate - but it's the way I currently feel. Possibly if I had ever had a 'Road to Damascus' experience my feelings about this would be different ...

    @Grond0 It's good to be agnostic - I am that as well - but do you believe or not? I personally see no reason to believe while admitting I don't know (on an abstract level).
    O_Bruce said:

    Atheist here. I do not believe in existence of any gods and I do think that their existence is unprobable. And even if they did existed, I still wouldn't see a reason as to why worship them. For the sole basis the are gods? Or maybe because if I don't they'll punish me for eternity? If the latter was the case, such being is not worthy minimal ammount of respect, not to mention worship. No misdeed is so severe as to apply eternal, endless punishemnt over it.

    As for morality, I think it is subjective and also depends on cultural context, social standards and so on. I also think that natural selection might have resulted in certain behaviour patterns being more preferable than others. You can't, after all, build a healthy society with murder, betrayal, rape and so on.

    @O_Bruce How did you find the probability?

    Do you find morality completely subjective or would you agree that once we find a common goal we can work towards it in objective terms? For example, murder is objectively harmful if the goal is well-being of humans.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    The more specific the god-claim the easier it is to disprove. Some people revert to a vague unfalsifiable god to avoid this, for example a first mover that set it all up and then left. How would you respond to those god claims?

  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 2,125
    @FinneousPJ
    Don’t have a lot of time. Want to thank you for opening this thread. I lost internet last weekend, and by the time I got to it reading the responses, the politics thread was already too full for me to feel it was appropriate to respond.
    I also was doubtful that you were interested in continuing the conversation as you had never answered my question which I posed to you (which basically boils down to why do you believe anyone should be moral?). @Grond0 did answer, but it was in line with the subjectivist argument, which I believe is self-contradictory for any person of conscience. Then you and @ThacoBell got into a debate about the merits of Christian morality, and I just was late to the table so never checked back in.
    I’ll get back to respond to the questions in the other thread in a minute, but first I would like to define some terms from our conversation.

    Universally Objective Morality:

    Universal: in this sense, meaning a standard that is applicable universally. For example, if the standard of “Do Not Murder” was applied universally, it would mean that no one would murder anyone else. There is no group of people that are excluded from obeying this commandment, i.e., you can kill a slave that you own but not a citizen of the Roman Empire. (To be clear, this would not mean that circumstances could not merit an exception, such as in self-defense.)

    Objective: meaning that it is measurable in some form that is independently held regardless of an individual’s perspective. For example, objectively, the earth is spherical. You may perceive it to be shaped like a taco, but that doesn’t make it true. Another: “Do not murder.” Just because you felt justified in murdering your wife after she back-talked you doesn’t mean it is morale. (This is the problem with the subjectivist argument in a nutshell: morality is based on subjective perception, not objective, measurable standards.)

    Morality: a higher standard of behavior that people should hold themselves to. Just because someone, or a group of people, didn’t behave morally in the past, present (or future) does not mean that morality is moot or void. For example, slavery is wrong now, before, and later. Just because people practiced slavery for thousands of years does not make it moral, even then. (As I said, though, like science, morality is discovered. I don’t believe that most slave owners knew or accepted that slavery was immoral, just like people didn’t know or accept that the earth wasn’t flat.)

    FinneousPJThacoBellStummvonBordwehr
  • GrammarsaladGrammarsalad Member Posts: 2,488
    edited August 2018

    The more specific the god-claim the easier it is to disprove. Some people revert to a vague unfalsifiable god to avoid this, for example a first mover that set it all up and then left. How would you respond to those god claims?
    Unfalsifiability only applies to 'empirical' claims, whereas whether or not God exists is not knowable a posteriori (i.e. via observation). Put another way, it's not a ' scientific' question. Rather, if it's knowable at all, the answer to the question is knowable 'a prori', that is, similar to the way that we can know the answer to mathematical questions.

    This is why I use the logical problem of evil. The idea is basically that the concomitants required for an adequate God are logically incompatible. We can know this a prori, and so we can know that a God worth the name is impossible, so non existent

    (edit) I swear this topic completely disappeared. Weird

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456

    The more specific the god-claim the easier it is to disprove. Some people revert to a vague unfalsifiable god to avoid this, for example a first mover that set it all up and then left. How would you respond to those god claims?
    Unfalsifiability only applies to 'empirical' claims, whereas whether or not God exists is not knowable a posteriori (i.e. via observation). Put another way, it's not a ' scientific' question. Rather, if it's knowable at all, the question is knowable 'a prori', that is, similar to the way that we can know the answer to mathematical questions.

    This is why I use the logical problem of evil. The idea is basically that the concomitants required for an adequate God are logically incompatible. We can know this a prori, and so we can know that a God worth the name is impossible, so non existent
    Some definitions of god are observable. For example if your god includes answering prayers then that is observable.

    I find huge problem with "adequate god" and "god worth the name" - again, what about other definitions?

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456

    @FinneousPJ
    Don’t have a lot of time. Want to thank you for opening this thread. I lost internet last weekend, and by the time I got to it reading the responses, the politics thread was already too full for me to feel it was appropriate to respond.
    I also was doubtful that you were interested in continuing the conversation as you had never answered my question which I posed to you (which basically boils down to why do you believe anyone should be moral?). @Grond0 did answer, but it was in line with the subjectivist argument, which I believe is self-contradictory for any person of conscience. Then you and @ThacoBell got into a debate about the merits of Christian morality, and I just was late to the table so never checked back in.
    I’ll get back to respond to the questions in the other thread in a minute, but first I would like to define some terms from our conversation.

    Universally Objective Morality:

    Universal: in this sense, meaning a standard that is applicable universally. For example, if the standard of “Do Not Murder” was applied universally, it would mean that no one would murder anyone else. There is no group of people that are excluded from obeying this commandment, i.e., you can kill a slave that you own but not a citizen of the Roman Empire. (To be clear, this would not mean that circumstances could not merit an exception, such as in self-defense.)

    Objective: meaning that it is measurable in some form that is independently held regardless of an individual’s perspective. For example, objectively, the earth is spherical. You may perceive it to be shaped like a taco, but that doesn’t make it true. Another: “Do not murder.” Just because you felt justified in murdering your wife after she back-talked you doesn’t mean it is morale. (This is the problem with the subjectivist argument in a nutshell: morality is based on subjective perception, not objective, measurable standards.)

    Morality: a higher standard of behavior that people should hold themselves to. Just because someone, or a group of people, didn’t behave morally in the past, present (or future) does not mean that morality is moot or void. For example, slavery is wrong now, before, and later. Just because people practiced slavery for thousands of years does not make it moral, even then. (As I said, though, like science, morality is discovered. I don’t believe that most slave owners knew or accepted that slavery was immoral, just like people didn’t know or accept that the earth wasn’t flat.)

    The reason why anyone should be moral is that we are a social species and none of us can make do alone. Forming communities and sharing time and space is the reason we have evolved moral tendencies, like other social species.

    Your definition for universal is not a definition.

    mashedtaters
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456

    The more specific the god-claim the easier it is to disprove. Some people revert to a vague unfalsifiable god to avoid this, for example a first mover that set it all up and then left. How would you respond to those god claims?
    Unfalsifiability only applies to 'empirical' claims, whereas whether or not God exists is not knowable a posteriori (i.e. via observation). Put another way, it's not a ' scientific' question. Rather, if it's knowable at all, the answer to the question is knowable 'a prori', that is, similar to the way that we can know the answer to mathematical questions.

    This is why I use the logical problem of evil. The idea is basically that the concomitants required for an adequate God are logically incompatible. We can know this a prori, and so we can know that a God worth the name is impossible, so non existent

    (edit) I swear this topic completely disappeared. Weird
    It did, it was probably @semiticgod and his gang of misfits.

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 5,354
    edited August 2018

    @Grond0 It's good to be agnostic - I am that as well - but do you believe or not? I personally see no reason to believe while admitting I don't know (on an abstract level).

    I don't believe or disbelieve, but I don't see a god as relevant even if one exists.
    - I've already said I wouldn't want to worship a god that demanded worship.
    - If a god exists, but has no interaction with humans then the fact of their existence makes no difference.
    - If a god just wants us to live a good life, I would argue I'm trying to do that anyway.

    Objective: meaning that it is measurable in some form that is independently held regardless of an individual’s perspective. For example, objectively, the earth is spherical. You may perceive it to be shaped like a taco, but that doesn’t make it true. Another: “Do not murder.” Just because you felt justified in murdering your wife after she back-talked you doesn’t mean it is morale. (This is the problem with the subjectivist argument in a nutshell: morality is based on subjective perception, not objective, measurable standards.)

    @mashedtaters, but the argument you pose here is not about objectivity. A rule such as "do not murder" has no independent status in the way that "the earth is round" does. The only way that could be true is if such a rule had been set by a god. While that could fit in with your statement about people discovering morals over time that were always there, this view of morality only makes sense if you presuppose the existence of an interventionist god (and I don't).

    I would also say that I don't think this view is really compatible with the idea of morality as being concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior. If morals are simply rules handed down by a god then decisions on whether to obey those become as much or more about the chances of getting caught and the potential punishment you face as they are about right and wrong.

    FinneousPJ
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Grond0 said:

    @Grond0 It's good to be agnostic - I am that as well - but do you believe or not? I personally see no reason to believe while admitting I don't know (on an abstract level).

    I don't believe or disbelieve, but I don't see a god as relevant even if one exists.
    - I've already said I wouldn't want to worship a god that demanded worship.
    - If a god exists, but has no interaction with humans then the fact of their existence makes no difference.
    - If a god just wants us to live a good life, I would argue I'm trying to do that anyway.

    Objective: meaning that it is measurable in some form that is independently held regardless of an individual’s perspective. For example, objectively, the earth is spherical. You may perceive it to be shaped like a taco, but that doesn’t make it true. Another: “Do not murder.” Just because you felt justified in murdering your wife after she back-talked you doesn’t mean it is morale. (This is the problem with the subjectivist argument in a nutshell: morality is based on subjective perception, not objective, measurable standards.)

    @mashedtaters, but the argument you pose here is not about objectivity. A rule such as "do not murder" has no independent status in the way that "the earth is round" does. The only way that could be true is if such a rule had been set by a god. While that could fit in with your statement about people discovering morals over time that were always there, this view of morality only makes sense if you presuppose the existence of an interventionist god (and I don't).

    I would also say that I don't think this view is really compatible with the idea of morality as being concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior. If morals are simply rules handed down by a god then decisions on whether to obey those become as much or more about the chances of getting caught and the potential punishment you face as they are about right and wrong.
    I don't know what you mean by disbelieve, but one has to either believe or not believe in any claim that is posed, just like a claim is either true or not true. Logic 101.

    As per the definition @mashedtaters gave I don't see how objectivity requires a divine commandment. Murder is objectively harmful.

    mashedtaters
  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,761
    @FinneousPJ
    I am not a mathematician and I cannot possibly know exact ammount of different religions through human history - therefore I am unable to make that calculation and provide you with % chance. The thing is, if you consider there were hundreds of religions, and even more gods, then probability that a very specific deity exist is fairly low. Note that it is very common for any religion to consider itself the "true" one, meaning the rest have to be false. So out of hundreds religions, only one can be true, which is already less than 1%. What's more, if deity exists, it doesn't have to be anything like people imagine it to be and doesn't have to be connected to any religion at all. Meaning the chance is lower still, at least when we consider deities appearing in religions we know of.

    As for morality - it is true that society might have common goal and decide that something is moral and something is not. This is just a social contract between people, further reinforcement by natural selection that favoured certain behaviour patters over others.

    I still cannot really say morality is objective because it changes depending on society, time period, living conditions and so on. For example, in western society slavery is universally considered as something bad and horrible, while in Ancient rome or Greece, slavery was a norm. Slavery was also normalized in Old Testament of the Bible, which was supposed to come from god. A judeo-christian god was supposed to be perfect and all-good. But today we know better than "all-good" in that aspect. Something changed for better. We don't own slaves. Moral compass changed. That's why I think morality is subjective and not something objective coming from deity.

    I hope it makes sense. I am afraid I don't sound as coherent as I wish to.

    FinneousPJ
  • GrammarsaladGrammarsalad Member Posts: 2,488

    The more specific the god-claim the easier it is to disprove. Some people revert to a vague unfalsifiable god to avoid this, for example a first mover that set it all up and then left. How would you respond to those god claims?
    Unfalsifiability only applies to 'empirical' claims, whereas whether or not God exists is not knowable a posteriori (i.e. via observation). Put another way, it's not a ' scientific' question. Rather, if it's knowable at all, the question is knowable 'a prori', that is, similar to the way that we can know the answer to mathematical questions.

    This is why I use the logical problem of evil. The idea is basically that the concomitants required for an adequate God are logically incompatible. We can know this a prori, and so we can know that a God worth the name is impossible, so non existent
    Some definitions of god are observable. For example if your god includes answering prayers then that is observable.

    I find huge problem with "adequate god" and "god worth the name" - again, what about other definitions?
    The argument only relies on a Capital G God with "The Attributes", and so would include a God that does answer prayer and one that doesn't. It would include just about any Abrahamic God*, at least. Put another way, If It lacks these qualities, then, it wouldn't be God as understood in the Abrahamic tradition and so would not be ' adequate'. Think of the first response in the link: Such a God would like to help, but is incapable, a "wimp".

    The point of The Lpoe is not to demonstrate that no God like being exists, but that none could exist that is worthy of The name. That may sound subjective, but The Attributes are supposed to pick out The 'Essential Qualities' of God. It's not my definition, but Aquinas'.

    *technically, you can deny 'goodness' is an attribute of God if you define goodness in terms of obedience to God. I have a refined version of The Lpoe that addresses this



  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 5,354

    Grond0 said:

    @Grond0 It's good to be agnostic - I am that as well - but do you believe or not? I personally see no reason to believe while admitting I don't know (on an abstract level).

    I don't believe or disbelieve, but I don't see a god as relevant even if one exists.
    - I've already said I wouldn't want to worship a god that demanded worship.
    - If a god exists, but has no interaction with humans then the fact of their existence makes no difference.
    - If a god just wants us to live a good life, I would argue I'm trying to do that anyway.

    Objective: meaning that it is measurable in some form that is independently held regardless of an individual’s perspective. For example, objectively, the earth is spherical. You may perceive it to be shaped like a taco, but that doesn’t make it true. Another: “Do not murder.” Just because you felt justified in murdering your wife after she back-talked you doesn’t mean it is morale. (This is the problem with the subjectivist argument in a nutshell: morality is based on subjective perception, not objective, measurable standards.)

    @mashedtaters, but the argument you pose here is not about objectivity. A rule such as "do not murder" has no independent status in the way that "the earth is round" does. The only way that could be true is if such a rule had been set by a god. While that could fit in with your statement about people discovering morals over time that were always there, this view of morality only makes sense if you presuppose the existence of an interventionist god (and I don't).

    I would also say that I don't think this view is really compatible with the idea of morality as being concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior. If morals are simply rules handed down by a god then decisions on whether to obey those become as much or more about the chances of getting caught and the potential punishment you face as they are about right and wrong.
    I don't know what you mean by disbelieve, but one has to either believe or not believe in any claim that is posed, just like a claim is either true or not true. Logic 101.

    As per the definition @mashedtaters gave I don't see how objectivity requires a divine commandment. Murder is objectively harmful.
    The definition of an agnostic is someone who does not know, or believes that it is impossible to know, if a god exists, i.e. they neither believe nor disbelieve in the existence of god. I see no reason why there's any need to make a choice between the two ;).

    The definition of murder is an unlawful killing, so I agree that was probably a poor choice of words. Even with murder though, law and morality are not the same thing, so murder could be moral even if it's not lawful. Consider the sort of moral problems that are posed such as "would it be right to travel back in time to kill Hitler when he was a baby?". Clearly that would be murder, but some people would argue it was moral (though I wouldn't myself).

    If I replace murder with kill in the above rule though, there's no question that there's anything objective about that. I've already referred to the issue about whether it would be right to kill Hitler and there's a whole host of moral problems associated with that sort of situation. There's another host associated with which person should be killed when you have a choice. The latter issue has significant real world implications and is causing great problems at the moment because of the advent of self-drive cars. The question is what information to put in the AI in these to determine behavior in a situation where an accident is inevitable - should passengers be prioritized over pedestrians, should young be prioritized over old etc.

  • GrammarsaladGrammarsalad Member Posts: 2,488
    edited August 2018
    ThacoBell said:

    I see this pop up every now and then, but I've never seen it properly address the Chrisitian God. Evil exists, yes, but not because God is incapable of eradicating it. It also does not mean God is unwilling and therefore unsuited. According to the theology, God DID create a perfect world. Then He added us to it. Then He gave us freewill and the means to enact it. As a result of the choice that was made, evil came into existence and then spread.

    But why hasn't God fixed it then, if he is both willing and capable? Well, He did. He made a place for us in Heaven, another perfect, no evil place, one that is meant to be eternal. Here is the conundrum, however, free will. God gave it to us, even at the risk and (ultimately) the cost of His perfect world. So clearly He values choice. But if we enter thie eternally perfect place, how can we say we have true will, if we cannot CHOOSE to commit evil? And we can't, which is why our current world has not been made perfect. Our existence in this world is transient, during this time, is when we get to choose. Do we want to choose perfection, at the cost of complete freedom? Or do we choose Complete freedom, at the cost of the perfection? That's this world is still imperfect, God has left it to us. Our choice.

    I think its fairly obvious what I believe at this point :D
    ...
    'Before' creation, there would have been 'Just God', existence would have been Perfect and Complete. Completeness follows from Perfection because if something ' extra' was needed, then God would not be perfect, would not be the greatest Being conceivable, would not be the necessary ground of being. Thus, in introducing the possibility of evil (which, again, would not be necessary as it was just demonstrated that creation would not have been necessary and God, by His omniscience would know this) God corrupted existence, and further acted as the ground for metaphysical corruption (as it could only exist by His Will). As such, God would be engaged in a metaphysical corruption which is supposed to be impossible (indeed, it is a logical contradiction). By reductio, there is no God (i.e. there is no x such that x is the metaphysical ground of being, perfect and complete, etc.)

    Edit: notice how this argument obviates the free will defense. :)

    Edit2: the best defense is to go with Leibniz and claim that ' this is the best of all possible worlds', to deny the existence of evil/metaphysical imperfection, imo. I find the idea absurd, but I understand how it could be attractive

    Edit3: in fact, I think any adequate defense against the poe does just this.

    Evil can only be tolerated if it is 'necessary', the ' best that can be done given the circumstances'. Of course...

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,560
    @Grammarsalad "'Before' creation, there would have been 'Just God', existence would have been Perfect and Complete. Completeness follows from Perfection because if something ' extra' was needed, then God would not be perfect, would not be the greatest Being conceivable, would not be the necessary ground of being."

    This argument only works if God needed creation. God was/is perfect, but whatever existed around Him does not affect His innate perfection. The Bible is really vague about the nature of existence before the universe, only that there was water. From this reasoning, God created a perfect world for Himself, but He Himself, was always perfect.

    The idea of His omniscience juxtaposed with the rise of evil in His perfect creation is really interesting. I don't really have a perfect, wrapped up answer for you either. God apparently values will and the ability to choose, that making a creation, "In His image." and not giving it the ability to choose so much that it was more important than the initial perfection of creation. This is never explained in the Bible, only that God views companionship as meaningless with the ability to CHOOSE it.

    Grond0
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 5,354
    I'm not sold on the idea of there being a god, but if there is one I don't see any reason in principle why they shouldn't have created evil. I had considered posting an argument similar to @ThacoBell about choice being more important than marring perfection. There's also the possibility that god was simply bored with a perfect existence and wanted surprises (I know that arguably goes against the idea of omniscience, but I think everyone is familiar with the desire to not know ahead of time something you could discover if you wanted to).

    As this is a games forum, I guess many people will be familiar with the works of Tolkien. The idea about evil arising from choice where once there was perfection is explored in the Silmarillion.

    ThacoBell
  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 2,125
    edited August 2018

    @FinneousPJ
    Don’t have a lot of time. Want to thank you for opening this thread. I lost internet last weekend, and by the time I got to it reading the responses, the politics thread was already too full for me to feel it was appropriate to respond.
    I also was doubtful that you were interested in continuing the conversation as you had never answered my question which I posed to you (which basically boils down to why do you believe anyone should be moral?). @Grond0 did answer, but it was in line with the subjectivist argument, which I believe is self-contradictory for any person of conscience. Then you and @ThacoBell got into a debate about the merits of Christian morality, and I just was late to the table so never checked back in.
    I’ll get back to respond to the questions in the other thread in a minute, but first I would like to define some terms from our conversation.

    Universally Objective Morality:

    Universal: in this sense, meaning a standard that is applicable universally. For example, if the standard of “Do Not Murder” was applied universally, it would mean that no one would murder anyone else. There is no group of people that are excluded from obeying this commandment, i.e., you can kill a slave that you own but not a citizen of the Roman Empire. (To be clear, this would not mean that circumstances could not merit an exception, such as in self-defense.)

    Objective: meaning that it is measurable in some form that is independently held regardless of an individual’s perspective. For example, objectively, the earth is spherical. You may perceive it to be shaped like a taco, but that doesn’t make it true. Another: “Do not murder.” Just because you felt justified in murdering your wife after she back-talked you doesn’t mean it is morale. (This is the problem with the subjectivist argument in a nutshell: morality is based on subjective perception, not objective, measurable standards.)

    Morality: a higher standard of behavior that people should hold themselves to. Just because someone, or a group of people, didn’t behave morally in the past, present (or future) does not mean that morality is moot or void. For example, slavery is wrong now, before, and later. Just because people practiced slavery for thousands of years does not make it moral, even then. (As I said, though, like science, morality is discovered. I don’t believe that most slave owners knew or accepted that slavery was immoral, just like people didn’t know or accept that the earth wasn’t flat.)

    The reason why anyone should be moral is that we are a social species and none of us can make do alone. Forming communities and sharing time and space is the reason we have evolved moral tendencies, like other social species.

    Your definition for universal is not a definition.
    Thank you for answering the question. So you believe that people should be moral because of the projected outcome based on past lessons from history? So in order to survive you should be moral? Or, in other words, morality may lead to a betterment of society, so people should be moral?
    Would you then call yourself a consequentialist? The reason you gave is the basic argument of consequentialism (the ends justify the means).

    Perhaps you didn’t understand the definition?

    Here is from the dictionary, which is the basic gist of my definition:
    including or covering all or a whole collectively or distributively without limit or exception

    So, to put this in context, just because someone is a priest does not exclude him from the moral obligation to treat children with dignity and respect: the standard applies universally. A king may not murder someone just because he is a king; a Christian would treat non-Christians with respect just as he would other Christians.

  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 2,125
    Grond0 said:

    @Grond0 It's good to be agnostic - I am that as well - but do you believe or not? I personally see no reason to believe while admitting I don't know (on an abstract level).

    I don't believe or disbelieve, but I don't see a god as relevant even if one exists.
    - I've already said I wouldn't want to worship a god that demanded worship.
    - If a god exists, but has no interaction with humans then the fact of their existence makes no difference.
    - If a god just wants us to live a good life, I would argue I'm trying to do that anyway.

    Objective: meaning that it is measurable in some form that is independently held regardless of an individual’s perspective. For example, objectively, the earth is spherical. You may perceive it to be shaped like a taco, but that doesn’t make it true. Another: “Do not murder.” Just because you felt justified in murdering your wife after she back-talked you doesn’t mean it is morale. (This is the problem with the subjectivist argument in a nutshell: morality is based on subjective perception, not objective, measurable standards.)

    @mashedtaters, but the argument you pose here is not about objectivity. A rule such as "do not murder" has no independent status in the way that "the earth is round" does. The only way that could be true is if such a rule had been set by a god. While that could fit in with your statement about people discovering morals over time that were always there, this view of morality only makes sense if you presuppose the existence of an interventionist god (and I don't).

    I would also say that I don't think this view is really compatible with the idea of morality as being concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior. If morals are simply rules handed down by a god then decisions on whether to obey those become as much or more about the chances of getting caught and the potential punishment you face as they are about right and wrong.
    @Grond0 you jumped immediately from the definition to several steps down the line, and made several assumptions that do not yet apply.

    By objective, I mean actions and behavior are not changed after the fact (or in preparation of) by human perception, perspective, or belief. Behavior is an objective fact that is rooted in reality. When I walk, I am actually walking: I’m not swimming just because I think I am. When I run, I am actually running. When I shoot someone, I am actually shooting someone. You absolutely can have a way to measure behavior, and compare it to other behaviors. That is what I mean by objective. We haven’t gotten to what is objectively moral yet, or even if there is anything moral: we are still on definitions here, so stick with me.

    For example: the earth is round. We may perceive it to be flat, but it is not. This can be measured objectively.
    For example: a father rapes his child. He may perceive or that he was helping the child, but the objective fact is that he harmed the child, which is part of the definition of rape. This can be measured objectively.
    For example: god exists. There is no proof except what is inside a person’s mind. This can not be measured objectively.
    For example: Something is fun. This can not be measured objectively, as what is fun is entirely based on a person’s perception or belief. Fun is a subjective term or a subjective feeling. It cannot be measured objectively, even though many people find similar things to be fun.

    The biggest problem with subjectivism is that people will justify anything to themselves (a very common scenario is when a parent harms their own child: they usually do it because they somehow have a twisted sense of reality, usually due to their own childhoods). They will often paint themselves in their own mind as the hero or the victim of the story unless there is an objective standard that they can compare to.

    ThacoBell
  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 2,125
    O_Bruce said:


    As for morality - it is true that society might have common goal and decide that something is moral and something is not. This is just a social contract between people, further reinforcement by natural selection that favoured certain behaviour patters over others.

    I still cannot really say morality is objective because it changes depending on society, time period, living conditions and so on. For example, in western society slavery is universally considered as something bad and horrible, while in Ancient rome or Greece, slavery was a norm. Slavery was also normalized in Old Testament of the Bible, which was supposed to come from god. A judeo-christian god was supposed to be perfect and all-good. But today we know better than "all-good" in that aspect. Something changed for better. We don't own slaves. Moral compass changed. That's why I think morality is subjective and not something objective coming from deity.

    I hope it makes sense. I am afraid I don't sound as coherent as I wish to.

    @O_Bruce
    I’m glad to discuss this with you, if you would like to.

    Firstly, enforceable social contracts between people in society are called laws. Not all of them are just or moral. Whether this is an agreement between the military power of a king/dictator and his subjects (do this and i’ll let you live), or in a democracy (the majority will of the people rules), or in a republic (appointed or elected representatives write the social contracts), this has been around for a long time.

    We haven’t got there yet, but my eventual argument will be that morality must be objective. But first the definition of both morality and objective must be established.

    Objective is something that is measurable in the real world. Can we measure whether or not people have slaves today? Yes, you can. You must define slavery and then locate people that fit that definition.
    Can we measure whether or not the slaves today want to be enslaved? ...mmmmmaybe. Probably. You could open a study, and take some polls, but the data can be twisted by the way the questions are posed and who’s asking them... the results won’t exactly be objective, but if the polls and studies are done well, you can get close.
    Can we measure whether or not slaves are happy? No. This is entirely subjective and based solely on the perspective of the slave. You can ask them, sure, and they can respond, but you are relying on their ignorance/knowledge of a better life and how they may have been brainwashed. And also, who can say what happiness even is, on a deeper level? You would have to break down happiness in specifically measurable terms for them before they even answered the question.

    So, in an objectively moral system, you would determine if slavery itself was moral. The happiness of the slaves, and their desire to be enslaved, would be irrelevant to the morality of the system, if it was a system that was determined objectively.

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 5,354

    Grond0 said:

    @Grond0 It's good to be agnostic - I am that as well - but do you believe or not? I personally see no reason to believe while admitting I don't know (on an abstract level).

    I don't believe or disbelieve, but I don't see a god as relevant even if one exists.
    - I've already said I wouldn't want to worship a god that demanded worship.
    - If a god exists, but has no interaction with humans then the fact of their existence makes no difference.
    - If a god just wants us to live a good life, I would argue I'm trying to do that anyway.

    Objective: meaning that it is measurable in some form that is independently held regardless of an individual’s perspective. For example, objectively, the earth is spherical. You may perceive it to be shaped like a taco, but that doesn’t make it true. Another: “Do not murder.” Just because you felt justified in murdering your wife after she back-talked you doesn’t mean it is morale. (This is the problem with the subjectivist argument in a nutshell: morality is based on subjective perception, not objective, measurable standards.)

    @mashedtaters, but the argument you pose here is not about objectivity. A rule such as "do not murder" has no independent status in the way that "the earth is round" does. The only way that could be true is if such a rule had been set by a god. While that could fit in with your statement about people discovering morals over time that were always there, this view of morality only makes sense if you presuppose the existence of an interventionist god (and I don't).

    I would also say that I don't think this view is really compatible with the idea of morality as being concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior. If morals are simply rules handed down by a god then decisions on whether to obey those become as much or more about the chances of getting caught and the potential punishment you face as they are about right and wrong.
    @Grond0 you jumped immediately from the definition to several steps down the line, and made several assumptions that do not yet apply.

    By objective, I mean actions and behavior are not changed after the fact (or in preparation of) by human perception, perspective, or belief. Behavior is an objective fact that is rooted in reality. When I walk, I am actually walking: I’m not swimming just because I think I am. When I run, I am actually running. When I shoot someone, I am actually shooting someone. You absolutely can have a way to measure behavior, and compare it to other behaviors. That is what I mean by objective. We haven’t gotten to what is objectively moral yet, or even if there is anything moral: we are still on definitions here, so stick with me.

    For example: the earth is round. We may perceive it to be flat, but it is not. This can be measured objectively.
    For example: a father rapes his child. He may perceive or that he was helping the child, but the objective fact is that he harmed the child, which is part of the definition of rape. This can be measured objectively.
    For example: god exists. There is no proof except what is inside a person’s mind. This can not be measured objectively.
    For example: Something is fun. This can not be measured objectively, as what is fun is entirely based on a person’s perception or belief. Fun is a subjective term or a subjective feeling. It cannot be measured objectively, even though many people find similar things to be fun.

    The biggest problem with subjectivism is that people will justify anything to themselves (a very common scenario is when a parent harms their own child: they usually do it because they somehow have a twisted sense of reality, usually due to their own childhoods). They will often paint themselves in their own mind as the hero or the victim of the story unless there is an objective standard that they can compare to.
    @mashedtaters I agree with what you say about behavior being something that can be seen objectively, but that doesn't change my point about moral principles - you can see someone walking, but you can't see the principle that 'killing is wrong'. Such principles can only be seen objectively if they are imposed by a third party - such as a society or a god (and if that is the case I would argue they should really be defined as laws rather than moral principles).

    If you think that moral principles are an objective fact, then who decides what they are and where did they come from? I think you referred before to morals being discovered over time as a way of explaining the fact that morality has not been constant over history - for instance society might in the past have thought it was moral to treat women differently from men, but now has discovered that everyone should be treated equally. However, if that were the case then how can you discount the possibility that in a hundred years from now society will have discovered our current moral principles are incorrect or incomplete?

    If morality really were objective you would also expect there to be a pretty common shared understanding of that and I don't think that's the case at all. People have greatly differing views on when it's moral to kill another person for instance. I suppose you could say that moral principles are in fact objective, but that some people have just discovered more of them than others, but that would seem to me to just be a roundabout way of defining subjectivity.

  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 2,125
    edited August 2018
    @Grond0

    Again, you’re jumping ahead of the definition. Right now we are establishing what objective morality would look like. In order for morality to be objective, it must be based on something that can be measured.

    Objectivity is not imposed by a third party. Contracts between two people are usually objective and a third party only serves as a mediator in some cases when there is a dispute.

    I did not say that morals are an objective fact. I said that actions are objective facts, and thus the only way a standard of morality can be objective is if it was based on things that are objectively measurable, not subjective perceptions.

    For example, the Christian standard of morality against murder is objectively measurable: you can measure whether or not someone murders. You can not as easily measure whether or not that person felt he was doing the right thing, or if the victim deserved it, or the community’s opinions surrounding it.
    It is also universal: no one is given pass on murder because they’re special. “All will sit before he judgement seat,” or some such. (There are exceptions that change the definition of murder, such as killing in a last resort in self-defense.)
    The Christian standard of morality against lust is not objectively measurable: you can’t tell what is in another person’s mind (although supposedly God can), thus you cannot measure it and it is not objective.
    Edit: although it is universal, because it applies to everyone (even though the Bible says, lusting against a man’s wife, it’s accepted to include the opposite gender).

    To answer your question (ahead of the definition), I do believe it is possible that society will discover in the future new standards of morality, just as I believe we will discover new science. We should always look for it. But we are getting ahead of the definition, as I see you are still struggling with it.

    I get it that it is a different way of thinking: I understand and have even believed in subjectivism before.
    But subjectivism is not universal: it is the very opposite, in fact, as the same standards of behavior do not apply to everyone or even anyone. It is also the opposite of objective: it is based on things that are not measurable, such as “how they viewed the world at the time,” or “what you decide for yourself.” It is my argument that it is impossible for subjectivism to be moral, or else it is not actual morality. It is only social taboos or laws or agreements. Although some of these can be universally and objectively moral, they are not in and of themselves that.

  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,761
    @mashedtaters
    I am also okay with discussing this.

    First, I am aware that laws are, kinda, form of social contract as well. There is difference between laws and morality that people generally agree on. Law does not do much to our moral compas - its just consequence of breaking the law keeps some people from doing things that are socially considered as wrong. Law therefore should be objective and clear. But people's sense of morality is different. It varies slightly withing representative group sample.

    Law = formal enforcement of rules. Morality = informal type of social contract.

    You have interesting view on morality. If it is measurable, then it is objective? Sure, but I have a question. Is that objectivity taking into account different situations, in which certain actions can be considered justifed?
    Killing other human being is wrong, and you can say that objectively sine once human's life functions are gone, that human cannot contribute to anything, loses everything and will not be able to realize whatever goals that human had. It is ultimate vilation. On the other hand, what if you need to kill other human to save yourself or other people from being murdered? Objectively, the human you are forced to kill still loses absolutely everything. I would say such a situation isn't good, is still terrible in fact, but at least it is justified as you are preventing yourself and other people from that ultimate violation. What does objective morality has to say about this? Does it take into accounts same deeds during different circumstances?

    The way I see it, I cannot call morality objective, if it isn't unchanging and it highly depends on context of the situation. Not even in purely "moral-immoral", as I don't think you can limit morality to binary "either something's always moral or always immoral". Can you measure objectively when the same deed is less moral and more moral?

    mashedtatersKamigoroshiThacoBell
  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 2,125
    edited August 2018
    @O_Bruce

    These are all great questions! Thank you.

    First you must take the certain system of morality into account. And to be clear, systems of morality can be universal and objective, non-universal and objective, universal and non-objective, or neither universal nor objective.

    For example, in the Christian model, morality is generally universal (applies to everyone inside and outside the Christian faith) and generally objective (though there are definite glaring exceptions, such as coveting, lusting, respectfulness, kindness, etc.). The way the Christian model handles murder is by changing the definition of murder when it is in self-defense: you can see this reflected in western laws. Thus you are not murdering anyone if they attack you first. The Christian model also changes the accountability for violation of their moral code when in other circumstances, such as in war: the leaders are accountable (to God) for the deaths of their soldiers and the deaths their armed forces commit. You can see this reflected in Western society’s general public view of “the troops.”

    I think we are still stuck on definitions. I’m not saying that all systems of “morality” are objective. What I am saying is that in order for a system to be moral, it must be objective.

    We can get into what I believe is moral and not later, but first I would like to establish our definitions so that we are all clear. I think people here believe I am saying that all systems or views of morality are objective. That is not what I am saying. I am saying that morality must be objective, or it is not morality. It would otherwise be agreements, laws, social nuance, personal or religious codes of conduct or thought, etc..

  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 2,125
    edited August 2018
    I realized the last post I wrote was a little murky:
    To clarify, in order for a moral system to actually be moral... or, in order for it to actually be what it claims to be... it must meet two criteria (edit: at minimum):

    First, it must be universal (no one gets a pass: it doesn’t have a double standard of morality when I do it, but immorality when you do it).

    Second, it must be objective (objectively measurable and observable).

    ThacoBell
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 5,354

    For example, the Christian standard of morality against murder is objectively measurable: you can measure whether or not someone murders. You can not as easily measure whether or not that person felt he was doing the right thing, or if the victim deserved it, or the community’s opinions surrounding it. It is also universal: no one is given pass on murder because they’re special. “All will sit before he judgement seat,” or some such. (There are exceptions that change the definition of murder, such as killing in a last resort in self-defense.)

    Murder is a legal term describing a particular form of unlawful killing (the exact definition varies between countries). Exceptions such as self-defense are ways to demonstrate that a killing was not in fact unlawful. However, there are other exceptions to the law of murder, which don't make a killing lawful (various defenses on the grounds of diminished responsibility for instance). These I think are more pertinent to the moral issues, as, if there were an objective moral code, that would have a prohibition on killing in far wider circumstances than covered by the law of murder.

    I also disagree with your conclusion in any case that no one is given a pass on murder. There are many situations in which that clearly does happen as a matter of law. The Jewish word used in the commandment variously translated as "thou shalt not kill" or "thou shalt not murder is 'retzach', but this is never used in the Bible in the context of war. We do now recognize the possibility of murder during war, but there are still situations where exemptions are applied, e.g. diplomatic immunity.

    Reading the above I guess you may be tempted to point out that diplomatic immunity is a legal exemption and not a moral one - and I would agree with that. However, in your previous post you wrote: "It is my argument that it is impossible for subjectivism to be moral, or else it is not actual morality. It is only social taboos or laws or agreements. Although some of these can be universally and objectively moral, they are not in and of themselves that." Your description of the relationship between laws and morals is therefore very different to mine.
    - to me morals are individually determined. Though there will be considerable overlaps between people's views, this will not be sufficient to allow them to be used as a common framework for judging actions. So laws are put in place to determine what is permitted in any particular situation.
    - I therefore think laws are based on morals, but are objective rather than subjective.

    You've been aiming to get a shared definition of what is meant by 'objective', but I'm not sure how achievable that is. In doing a bit of reading I came across this site asking whether morality was subjective. Opinions on that were pretty evenly split, but even where people said they had a clear view, that was not necessarily the case, e.g. the following statement supported the idea of morality as objective "There are certainly some areas of morality which are subjective and open to opinion, but there are central points and characteristics which make you moral or immoral." I would have reversed that line of thinking and said that morality was clearly subjective, but that there are certain characteristics which are universal enough to be viewed objectively :p.

    Am I right that your framework for morality would be something like the following?
    - morality must be objective, but need not be imposed.
    - the rationale for the need for morality is that, in order to build a successful society, it's necessary to have an agreed framework for interactions between people.
    - morality supplies the underpinnings for this framework and does not change over time. A more detailed implementation comes through laws and customs, which do change over time to reflect cultural differences and an improved understanding about morality.

    My difficulty with this is that this starts from the presumption that morality is objective, rather than deriving that from an argument. If morality is not imposed, then where does the need for objectivity come from? I can understand the argument about morality being needed to form a successful society, but I don't think it's realistic to say that there is one single set of moral principles that would lead to the most successful society and all we're doing is gradually working closer to that ideal.

    mashedtatersThacoBellBelgarathMTH
This discussion has been closed.