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Thread: To what extent can ethics be anchored in reason?

  1. #11
    tWebber guacamole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rushing Jaws View Post
    Another possibility: moral philosophy from Plato onwards. One does not need to anchor ideas about the Good, or about purposiveness, in theism, of any kind, let alone the specifically Christian kind. In one sense, I agree that without God the notion of goodness has no meaning; but taken in a different sense, I think that is a counsel of despair. It is right to do right, because right-doing is the right way to live; one does not need to bother with Divine revelation to do this: instead, one should follow one’s own highest and best and purest intuitions of what is right, & seek to learn both from one’s mistakes and from the ideas and mistakes of others. Good is to be done, for its own sake, because it is good, with no thought of seeking praise or approval; it is enough if one’s conscience has been well-formed, and is clear of evil.

    I think the idea that some Christians have, that without Divine revelation we would have no clue as to what is good, and would live like brutes, is false. Even if we did not *know* right from wrong, that is no reason to follow our basest appetites; we ought, in such a situation, to follow our best intuitions of what is good, and trust that the more faithfully we follow what light we have, the more light we shall receive. I think we should do this anyway. Even if - to suppose the impossible - there were no God, no Christ, no Heaven, nothing, Christians ought still to live according to the purest, best, highest intuitions of goodness that they have, because it is good to do so. They should still live like Narnians, even if there is no Narnia. (Puddleglum, in “The Silver Chair”).
    I agree with this. I would further add that I think the best approach--though I don't know if I can adequately explain it--is that we know that there is God because the universe has a tilt toward justice. That this is part of natural revelation and that we can deduce the character of God from the natural justice-tilt of Creation--hence we know God's character and his revulsion to sin from observation. That's part of why I argue that it should be possible to build a logical case for objective morality based on the universe.

    fwiw,
    guacamole
    "Down in the lowlands, where the water is deep,
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  2. #12
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by guacamole View Post
    I'm curious how atheists and other non-religious folk find or create ethical rules. A lot of Christians assert that with out God, there is no reason to be good. I'm interested in turning the question around. What is the basis of ethics in non-theistic systems? Preference? Popularity?

    fwiw,
    guac.
    Reason should be an essential ingredient in ethical systems both theistic or non-theistic---(maybe Christianity might be an exception?)---If we assume that ethics/morality is a component of our human nature/instincts---then "preference" would apply..... pretty much universally, if we assume that in broad terms, our human nature is similar across humanity.....
    The more interesting question is---human reason can justify/find justification for the "unethical"---so on what basis can non-theists (and theists) take precautions against the abuse of reason to justify bad/evil?

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    I think there is an actual objective "good" in the universe which only exists because God is good. Atheists will mostly disagree, and try to say what we see as good is doing things for the benefit of society or something like that. But then what does "benefit" mean? It means something "good" which again calls into question how do we know what is "good" or not?

    I mean if you look a Nazi Germany, it would benefit the society of Nazis for you to turn in any Jews you knew, right? But we know that is not "good" even though some of the Nazis would disagree and say it is Good. There is an objective sense of an actual "good" that we recognize, and turning over our fellow humans to be killed is not it, even if it "benefits" that society.
    Just because some confused people believe that it is in their best interests to legalize the murder other people doesn't make it so. Those confused people could be next! The reason it is an actual and objective good that murder is considered to be morally wrong is because such a moral law is in the best interests of everyone in society. Thus the adage, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

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    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    Just because some confused people believe that it is in their best interests to legalize the murder other people doesn't make it so.
    Jim, why do you get to decide who is confused? If taking advantage of a minority of the population - serves and makes better the majority of a population - why would that be wrong?
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Jim, why do you get to decide who is confused? If taking advantage of a minority of the population - serves and makes better the majority of a population - why would that be wrong?
    Already gave my opinion on that seer, the evil you can do to others today can also be done to you tommorow. Ultimately, thats not in the best interests of anyone or society as a whole.

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    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    Already gave my opinion on that seer, the evil you can do to others today can also be done to you tommorow. Ultimately, thats not in the best interests of anyone or society as a whole.
    That doesn't make sense Jim, evil can be done to me even if I never did it to another - and often is.
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    That doesn't make sense Jim, evil can be done to me even if I never did it to another - and often is.
    Evils could always be done to you regardless, thats why we make laws with respect to social morals. People break the laws all the time, but they are far less likely to do so if morality is inculcated as well as their knowing the consequences they will likely face should they do so.

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    tWebber Roy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guacamole View Post
    I agree with this. I would further add that I think the best approach--though I don't know if I can adequately explain it--is that we know that there is God because the universe has a tilt toward justice.
    Not really. There doesn't seem to be any correlation between nastiness and non-human-induced premature deaths.
    That this is part of natural revelation and that we can deduce the character of God from the natural justice-tilt of Creation--hence we know God's character and his revulsion to sin from observation.
    Does god have an even greater revulsion to people living on the flanks of volcanos or shores near tectonic faults? Or in areas of poor sanitation and substandard water supply?

    Famine, pestilence, drought, tsunamis and landslides kill many, many people in ways that are usually impossible for those affected to prevent. Sin is not an apparent factor.
    Mountain Man: A skin cell is a skin cell. It doesn't grow, it doesn't organize, it doesn't adapt, it doesn't self-sustain, it doesn't metabolize, it doesn't respond to stimuli.

  9. Amen JimL amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Mountain Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guacamole View Post
    I'm curious how atheists and other non-religious folk find or create ethical rules. A lot of Christians assert that with out God, there is no reason to be good. I'm interested in turning the question around. What is the basis of ethics in non-theistic systems? Preference? Popularity?
    Coming up with a non-theistic system of morality is relatively easy. Consequential ethics and pragmatism are reasonably intuitive, but where the atheist runs into a brick wall is when he tries to explain why someone ought to prefer one course of action over another. Suppose someone is rich and powerful enough to skate through life without ever having to face the negative consequences of their behavior. If an Ultimate Judge doesn't exist then why shouldn't they?
    Some may call me foolish, and some may call me odd
    But I'd rather be a fool in the eyes of man
    Than a fool in the eyes of God


    From "Fools Gold" by Petra

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    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    Coming up with a non-theistic system of morality is relatively easy. Consequential ethics and pragmatism are reasonably intuitive, but where the atheist runs into a brick wall is when he tries to explain why someone ought to prefer one course of action over another. Suppose someone is rich and powerful enough to skate through life without ever having to face the negative consequences of their behavior. If an Ultimate Judge doesn't exist then why shouldn't they?
    Kant’s Moral Argument For God

    (1) Moral behaviour is rational.
    (2) Morality behaviour is only rational if justice will be done.
    (3) Justice will only be done if God exists.
    Therefore:
    (4) God exists.


    http://www.philosophyofreligion.info...oral-argument/
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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