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Thread: Atheism And Moral Progress

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    It is, or my own misunderstanding of him.
    Well you certainly are explaining it well.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    You, seer, do not recognize that your moral position is grounded in a premise that cannot be shown to be true.
    Please Tass, the adults are trying to have a conversation.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Please Tass, the adults are trying to have a conversation.
    The “adult” in this case does not recognize that his moral position is grounded in a deductive argument whereby the premise cannot be shown to be true. Hence the conclusion cannot be shown to be true.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

  4. Amen shunyadragon amen'd this post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    The “adult” in this case does not recognize that his moral position is grounded in a deductive argument whereby the premise cannot be shown to be true. Hence the conclusion cannot be shown to be true.
    Tass, you can not even deductively (or empirically without begging the question) show that what goes on in your mind corresponds to reality. Yet you take it as fact. You can not demonstrate that the laws of logic are universal or absolute, yet all of science is based on that being the case. You can not deductively show that the laws of nature will act tomorrow as the act today, yet that assumption too is necessary for science. Like I said, the adults are trying to have a conversation - back to the kiddie table young man!
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    The liar is basically undermining the rational basis for his lying. It's a restatement, or my own take on, Kant's "Categorical Imperative." This deep internal incoherence of lying we express in interpersonal social language as "immoral," because it tears at the grounds of possibility of any rational social life at all. Its converse, truth-telling, therefore, is part of the 'necessary price of admission' we as rational social beings have to pay in order to enter into rational discourse with each other.

    How can it be normative as that word is normally understood if the 'right-making' property of an action is what the actor says that it is?

    Okay, let's accept your definition of language. What I'm arguing is that a rational agent has to implicitly accept certain principles in order for the very acceptance of those principle to be made coherent and even possible. There are certain grounds the agent has to implicitly accept for the acceptance to even be possible. Such as a norm of truth.

    We're getting two different things mixed up. Maybe my fault. I agree that there's no 'absolute' moral principle. What I was asking was whether or not there was some moral good that was good in itself, intrinsically good and not just good instrumentally for what other good things it could give you? For me, there are some good things that can be good in themselves, like health, love, consciousness, pleasure, knowledge.... Note, these things can also be instrumental goods, ie, health can be used to make money, knowledge can be used to build a bridge, etc.

    No, I was saying it was 'common sense' that there are intrinsically good things. See above.

    BUt how do you know you aren't just expressing your own subjectivist indoctrination here? To say "I find value in X" tells us nothing about the ontological status of X. I can also say "I find that 2+2=4." This tells us nothing about the nature of that statement. We have to make and examine arguments and evidence for and against various positions regarding the status of the objects involved and not just rely on what seems obvious to us.

    But you're misstating the problem. Don't you remember the color analogy? I've already gone to great lengths to say that value requires a valuer just as color requires a viewer, but this fact alone doesn't mean that value or color are merely in the eye of the beholder. A valuer, and a viewer, are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions, for value in the first case and color in the second.

    As for reasons and arguments, I've given several now:
    1) Subjectivism is in contradiction to the nature of morality, which essentially involves the rational critique of one's own and others' actions.
    2) Subjectivism cannot account for moral fallibility
    3) Subjectivism cannot account for moral disagreement
    4) The "Lying Argument"
    5) Others yet to come

    I was using "nature" in contra-distinction to "culture", ie a product of human intention and purpose, human effort and meaning. In that sense, morality is a cultural phenomenon while non-human animal behavior is not. As far as the rest, we're getting lost in the weeds, I think.

    NO, it's not the destructive effects that cause us to classify something as immoral. It's the intention of the actor. The effects are the consequence. The state of the actor's mind, whether he succeeds or not, is what matters.

    It depends on the context. A nod is usually another way of saying "Yes." A wave can mean "goodbye" or "Go away," etc. They can be more than cues; they can be actual sentences . On the other hand my flushed face can communicate to you that I have a fever. Clouds overhead can communicate that a storm system is rolling in.

    How can there be language without a presumption of the idea of a representation of a state of affairs that [exists], ie exists in actuality or ideally or subjunctively or illustratively or imaginatively or contrastively or as background or a jumping off point for nonsense .... There are these things called nouns which purportedly names objects in some world. There are these things called verbs which name actions or processes that nouns undergo, and there are modifiers that add nuance and 'color' to the nouns and verbs, and so on. No matter what kind of world is expressed or posited, no matter how many steps removed or abstracted from this one, or totally removed from this one, some sense of 'being' or existence' is either assumed or played off of as at least a background assumption, a world of things that 'are' and their being truly is. Even if it's a world of deception, as I've said, deception and lies make sense only against a background of truth. God, please may we not have to go through this any more!

    If you don't get it this time, what say we just drop it for now?

    I'm not sure if they would qualify as real languages or not. I'm not a linguist, so I'm not sure....
    Jim -

    I responded to this right down to the penultimate line, and then an errant click cleared it all and I could not retrieve it. I cannot reconstruct now, so I'll have to do it another time. I will respond. There are some interesting things happening here and I am enjoying your conversational (as opposed to belligerent) style.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Jim -

    I responded to this right down to the penultimate line, and then an errant click cleared it all and I could not retrieve it. I cannot reconstruct now, so I'll have to do it another time. I will respond. There are some interesting things happening here and I am enjoying your conversational (as opposed to belligerent) style.
    Thanks, Carpe. I appreciate it. I'll try to keep it civil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    The liar is basically undermining the rational basis for his lying. It's a restatement, or my own take on, Kant's "Categorical Imperative." This deep internal incoherence of lying we express in interpersonal social language as "immoral," because it tears at the grounds of possibility of any rational social life at all. Its converse, truth-telling, therefore, is part of the 'necessary price of admission' we as rational social beings have to pay in order to enter into rational discourse with each other.
    So, a couple of things. Kant's imperative is simply a statement of "ought." For Kant, drinking is an imperative if one wants to eliminate thirst. His imperatives were not always about morality. A categorical imperative, to Kant, is nothing more than an imperative that is true in all circumstances for all agents. While it is true that lying generally erodes trust, as you note there are many examples when it does not. There is no "categorical imperative" against lying. And even in circumstances where lying DOES erode trust, it does not erode "language." It undermines successful communication. The best you can do is argue that the purpose for language is to communicate, and lying (can) undermine the ability to communicate successfully.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    How can it be normative as that word is normally understood if the 'right-making' property of an action is what the actor says that it is?
    Because our moral framework is still the framework against which we assess "ought" from "ought not" for any proposed (or actual) action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Okay, let's accept your definition of language. What I'm arguing is that a rational agent has to implicitly accept certain principles in order for the very acceptance of those principle to be made coherent and even possible. There are certain grounds the agent has to implicitly accept for the acceptance to even be possible. Such as a norm of truth.
    First, it's not my definition; it's the definition you'll find in most dictionaries. Second, I have no clue what you are trying to argue here. There is nothing about "language" that mandates or necessitates "truth." Successful communication, however, does create certain obligations. For example, we assume that words are being used as they are commonly defined. If everyone redefines their words to suit their purposes, communication is likely to fail. Reasonable adherence to syntactical/semantic rules is also necessary, or (again) communication would most likely fail. If I want tell you that I need you to swing by the grocery store and pick up some steaks and potatoes on the way home, my communication will fail if I say, "Home and I store way pick need up grocery the some the you steaks on by to and potatoes." (though the human brain is so amazingly flexible, my guess is a fair number of people would look at this "sentence" and manage to figure it out). And successful communication CAN be undermined by lying - but that is also not always the case. Remember, a categorical imperative is absolutely true for all agents in all circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    We're getting two different things mixed up. Maybe my fault. I agree that there's no 'absolute' moral principle. What I was asking was whether or not there was some moral good that was good in itself, intrinsically good and not just good instrumentally for what other good things it could give you? For me, there are some good things that can be good in themselves, like health, love, consciousness, pleasure, knowledge.... Note, these things can also be instrumental goods, ie, health can be used to make money, knowledge can be used to build a bridge, etc.
    My answer is "no." Look at your list. Health is desirable, yet we will sometimes desire "lack of health" if we can attain a goal we perceive as higher. And there are many people and things I can love that will harm me. I do not want consciousness or see it as a good if I am undergoing painful surgery. I can list several pleasures many of us would consider immoral and/or unacceptable. And there are some people who should not know certain things because they are not ready to handle the knowledge. In other words, none of the things on your list are good in and of themselves in all circumstances. They are good in specific circumstances as assessed by a valuer based on defined metrics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    No, I was saying it was 'common sense' that there are intrinsically good things. See above.
    And I am saying "no." See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    BUt how do you know you aren't just expressing your own subjectivist indoctrination here? To say "I find value in X" tells us nothing about the ontological status of X. I can also say "I find that 2+2=4." This tells us nothing about the nature of that statement. We have to make and examine arguments and evidence for and against various positions regarding the status of the objects involved and not just rely on what seems obvious to us.
    First, I don't think you can make the case that I have been indoctrinated to subjectivism. First, I started out as an objectivist, not as a subjectivist. I grew up in a family, community, religion, and culture that has preached moral objectivism continuously. Most of my discussions about moral subjectivism have taken this form: with the person on the other side arguing vehemently that I have it wrong. So it is not clear to me how anyone could suggest I have been "indoctrinated to subjectivism." Even most of my fellow atheists, like Jim L and Tass, take issue with moral subjectivism. Second, I have offered you many arguments about why moral statements are subjective ones and not objective ones. So far, AFAICT, you haven't responded to any of them except with assertions about objectivism that you cannot show to be true, and you have yet to demonstrate the existence of even so much as one objective moral truth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    But you're misstating the problem. Don't you remember the color analogy? I've already gone to great lengths to say that value requires a valuer just as color requires a viewer, but this fact alone doesn't mean that value or color are merely in the eye of the beholder. A valuer, and a viewer, are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions, for value in the first case and color in the second.
    I responded to the color analogy, so I'll let my previous response stand. This statement does not add anything to your original statements I have not already responded to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    As for reasons and arguments, I've given several now:
    1) Subjectivism is in contradiction to the nature of morality, which essentially involves the rational critique of one's own and others' actions.
    2) Subjectivism cannot account for moral fallibility
    3) Subjectivism cannot account for moral disagreement
    4) The "Lying Argument"
    5) Others yet to come
    And all of these have basically failed. To whit...

    1) Subjectivism is in contradiction to the nature of morality, which essentially involves the rational critique of one's own and others' actions: There is nothing about subjective morality that prevents me from using my moral framework to assess both my past/current/future actions as well as those of others. You have not yet shown why I cannot do this.

    2) Subjectivism cannot account for moral fallibility: Of course it can. Having a moral framework is no guaranty of following it perfectly anymore than having a diet or exercise plan ensures I will always eat right or do the optimum amount of exercise. We all fall short of our own expectations, even in the moral realm.

    3) Subjectivism cannot account for moral disagreement: Again, of course it can. In fact, moral subjectivism shows us why moral disagreements commonly arise as well as why there is so much cohesion between individuals and cultures in basic moral principles.

    4) The "Lying Argument": This tells us nothing about moral objectivism, for all of the reasons I already have cited. (see above)

    5) Others yet to come: So far, I have not seen a compelling argument for rejecting moral subjectivism in favor of moral objectivism. But I'm sure you have more up your sleeve...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I was using "nature" in contra-distinction to "culture", ie a product of human intention and purpose, human effort and meaning. In that sense, morality is a cultural phenomenon while non-human animal behavior is not. As far as the rest, we're getting lost in the weeds, I think.
    So first, morality is a "cultural phenomenon" only in so far as the moral norms of a culture are the collective norms of the members of that culture when those moral principles reach wide agreement. For example, I see "lying for person gain at the expense of others" as a moral ill, and live in a culture where the vast majority of my fellow neighbors/citizens/members hold the same position. Because this is so widely held a moral principle, it has attained the status of "moral norm." There is a feedback loop here, in which individuals can influenced the cultural norm and the cultural norm can influence individuals. However, the individual is always primary in that relationship. If the individual's moral norm differs from that of the society, the individual we consider most morally mature will insist on following their own moral position rather than blindly adopt the position of the culture, and may actually fight the moral position of the culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    NO, it's not the destructive effects that cause us to classify something as immoral. It's the intention of the actor. The effects are the consequence. The state of the actor's mind, whether he succeeds or not, is what matters.
    You are correct, and I misspoke. Even a morally good act can ultimately have disastrous consequences on something we value. Intent is indeed a significant part of the moral evaluation. The action has to have been intentionally designed to do harm to something we value for us to see the act as immoral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    It depends on the context. A nod is usually another way of saying "Yes." A wave can mean "goodbye" or "Go away," etc. They can be more than cues; they can be actual sentences . On the other hand my flushed face can communicate to you that I have a fever. Clouds overhead can communicate that a storm system is rolling in.
    Jim, these things you list are simply another form of "language." Certain gestures have become symbols of ideas/thoughts in the same way words can: a wave, a nod, an OK sign, an uplifted middle finger. The exceptions include the flushed face and clouds. A flushed face CAN be a form of body language (embarrassment) or can be a simply physical condition (i.e., fever). A cloud is not a communication. It is a physical fact. Our knowledge of how weather works allows us to ability to infer likely outcomes from the fact of the cloud, but the cloud is not "communicating" anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    How can there be language without a presumption of the idea of a representation of a state of affairs that [exists], ie exists in actuality or ideally or subjunctively or illustratively or imaginatively or contrastively or as background or a jumping off point for nonsense .... There are these things called nouns which purportedly names objects in some world.
    Yes, there are - because we have created these symbols to represent those things, so we can communicate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    There are these things called verbs which name actions or processes that nouns undergo,
    Yes, there are - because we have created these symbols to represent those actions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    and there are modifiers that add nuance and 'color' to the nouns and verbs, and so on.
    Yes, there are - because we have created these symbols to represent those attributes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    No matter what kind of world is expressed or posited, no matter how many steps removed or abstracted from this one, or totally removed from this one, some sense of 'being' or existence' is either assumed or played off of as at least a background assumption, a world of things that 'are' and their being truly is.
    Correct. Language is a symbolic representation of an underlying reality that exists.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Even if it's a world of deception, as I've said, deception and lies make sense only against a background of truth. God, please may we not have to go through this any more!
    Again - deception is about "communication." It is not about "language." Language can be used to convey a truth - or to convey an untruth. You continually conflate language (one tool for communication) with the communication itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    If you don't get it this time, what say we just drop it for now?
    I promise not to respond to anything you don't post...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I'm not sure if they would qualify as real languages or not. I'm not a linguist, so I'm not sure....
    I think the jury is still out on this. It is absolutely clear that other animals communicate. And it is also clear that many animals use some form of vocalization to do so. Others use pheromones. Others use movement. Some scientists describe these as rudimentary languages, others say "no." It seems clear to me that no species has taken "language" to the abstract lengths that humans have. I suspect, as with most things, "language" lies along a continuum from the most simple to the most complex.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  9. #1178
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    So, a couple of things. Kant's imperative is simply a statement of "ought." For Kant, drinking is an imperative if one wants to eliminate thirst. His imperatives were not always about morality. A categorical imperative, to Kant, is nothing more than an imperative that is true in all circumstances for all agents. While it is true that lying generally erodes trust, as you note there are many examples when it does not. There is no "categorical imperative" against lying. And even in circumstances where lying DOES erode trust, it does not erode "language." It undermines successful communication. The best you can do is argue that the purpose for language is to communicate, and lying (can) undermine the ability to communicate successfully.
    I said it was "my own take" on Kant's Categorical Imperative, a "Prima Facie" interpretation of it. According to my argument, we still have a moral duty to tell the truth but that in some cases, other duties, such as preventing murder, override the prima facie duty to tell the truth. Thus it's morally permissible to lie to the Nazis. I didn't say that lying "erodes language" but that it contradicts the norm of truth that language use presupposes, the implicit contract that language users enter into.



    Because our moral framework is still the framework against which we assess "ought" from "ought not" for any proposed (or actual) action.
    Okay, I'm getting confused now. Did you say i a previous post that the 'moral framework' was what a 'society' agrees to or what an individual says it is for him or herself? I thought it was the former. But I thought that moral subjectivism was the position that the 'oughtness' of an action derives from the latter.



    First, it's not my definition; it's the definition you'll find in most dictionaries. Second, I have no clue what you are trying to argue here. There is nothing about "language" that mandates or necessitates "truth." Successful communication, however, does create certain obligations. For example, we assume that words are being used as they are commonly defined. If everyone redefines their words to suit their purposes, communication is likely to fail. Reasonable adherence to syntactical/semantic rules is also necessary, or (again) communication would most likely fail. If I want tell you that I need you to swing by the grocery store and pick up some steaks and potatoes on the way home, my communication will fail if I say, "Home and I store way pick need up grocery the some the you steaks on by to and potatoes." (though the human brain is so amazingly flexible, my guess is a fair number of people would look at this "sentence" and manage to figure it out). And successful communication CAN be undermined by lying - but that is also not always the case. Remember, a categorical imperative is absolutely true for all agents in all circumstances.
    Dictionaries are not always that good at giving more than a very superficial meaning to complex concepts like 'language.' Try coming to an understanding of 'religion' or 'consciousness' that way. It's okay for everyday rough and ready use but this is a philosophy thread. I thought it requires a little more depth.



    My answer is "no." Look at your list. Health is desirable, yet we will sometimes desire "lack of health" if we can attain a goal we perceive as higher. And there are many people and things I can love that will harm me. I do not want consciousness or see it as a good if I am undergoing painful surgery. I can list several pleasures many of us would consider immoral and/or unacceptable. And there are some people who should not know certain things because they are not ready to handle the knowledge. In other words, none of the things on your list are good in and of themselves in all circumstances. They are good in specific circumstances as assessed by a valuer based on defined metrics.
    You're misunderstanding my point. I agree with you. I'm not saying that these things are always good in all circumstances. I'm saying that they CAN be good in themselves, intrinsically. Sometimes they're bad. Sometimes they're only instrumentally good. Sometimes they're indifferent. It's context-dependent.



    And I am saying "no." See above.
    See above.



    First, I don't think you can make the case that I have been indoctrinated to subjectivism. First, I started out as an objectivist, not as a subjectivist. I grew up in a family, community, religion, and culture that has preached moral objectivism continuously. Most of my discussions about moral subjectivism have taken this form: with the person on the other side arguing vehemently that I have it wrong. So it is not clear to me how anyone could suggest I have been "indoctrinated to subjectivism." Even most of my fellow atheists, like Jim L and Tass, take issue with moral subjectivism. Second, I have offered you many arguments about why moral statements are subjective ones and not objective ones. So far, AFAICT, you haven't responded to any of them except with assertions about objectivism that you cannot show to be true, and you have yet to demonstrate the existence of even so much as one objective moral truth.
    Refresh my memory about the arguments. I'll be glad to respond to them. Your personal history is irrelevant, as is whether or not you're indoctrinated. I apologize.



    I responded to the color analogy, so I'll let my previous response stand. This statement does not add anything to your original statements I have not already responded to.
    I'll have to go back and look at what you wrote about the color analogy. It didn't seem to be on-topic. I remember you said that we don't see exactly the same colors. But the point is we see close enough under controlled conditions for the purposes of the analogy. We know that "red" is normally defined as 600 nanometers of photon emission, (that may not be the exact number) at least as far as physics can identify. 'Red' phenomenologically, however, requires a viewer. My point was that this fact does not mean that 'red' is a purely subjective concept. It is fixed by physics and physiology. It is not a matter of subjective choice or preference even though it is a matter of subjective experience.



    And all of these have basically failed. To whit...

    1) Subjectivism is in contradiction to the nature of morality, which essentially involves the rational critique of one's own and others' actions: There is nothing about subjective morality that prevents me from using my moral framework to assess both my past/current/future actions as well as those of others. You have not yet shown why I cannot do this.
    Yes, we're each using our moral assessments against each other but how? By what criteria do I have to judge your subjective reactions? Or mine, for that matter in the past or the future? And if there are such criteria, that suggests that these criteria would form the basis for moral assessments, rather than subjective responses.

    2) Subjectivism cannot account for moral fallibility: Of course it can. Having a moral framework is no guaranty of following it perfectly anymore than having a diet or exercise plan ensures I will always eat right or do the optimum amount of exercise. We all fall short of our own expectations, even in the moral realm.
    It's not just a matter of not following your moral framework but of finding that your framework needs to be re-adjusted. And why would not following my moral framework be any less valid than following it if I decide that it is?

    3) Subjectivism cannot account for moral disagreement: Again, of course it can. In fact, moral subjectivism shows us why moral disagreements commonly arise as well as why there is so much cohesion between individuals and cultures in basic moral principles.
    We've been over this already. You haven't responded to this argument at all. According to subjectivism, there is no fact of the matter in any moral issue, ergo no possibility for disagreement about that issue, only about subjective reactions to the issue.

    4) The "Lying Argument": This tells us nothing about moral objectivism, for all of the reasons I already have cited. (see above)
    Language-use carries with it an implicit commitment to a norm or truth as a pre-supposition. Imagine being a natural scientist with no commitment to 'truth' or facts. A "Donald Trump" of Science if you will. The foundation of his project is self-negating not only to himself but to the entire scienitfic enterprise. The harmful effects are the consequence of this profound incoherence, because after all his papers may not get published, but this wouldn't mitigate the unethical nature of his acts.

    5) Others yet to come: So far, I have not seen a compelling argument for rejecting moral subjectivism in favor of moral objectivism. But I'm sure you have more up your sleeve...
    Or somewhere else!
    Last edited by Jim B.; Today at 04:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    So first, morality is a "cultural phenomenon" only in so far as the moral norms of a culture are the collective norms of the members of that culture when those moral principles reach wide agreement. For example, I see "lying for person gain at the expense of others" as a moral ill, and live in a culture where the vast majority of my fellow neighbors/citizens/members hold the same position. Because this is so widely held a moral principle, it has attained the status of "moral norm." There is a feedback loop here, in which individuals can influenced the cultural norm and the cultural norm can influence individuals. However, the individual is always primary in that relationship. If the individual's moral norm differs from that of the society, the individual we consider most morally mature will insist on following their own moral position rather than blindly adopt the position of the culture, and may actually fight the moral position of the culture.
    I actually agree with a lot of what you say here, but (surprise!) give it a slightly different twist. I agree that the most morally mature members of society fight for their moral position rather than blindly go along with the majority opinion, and that they fight the moral position of the culture. This is often the case of the 'moral reformer,' the person involved in abolition or women's sufferage. To me it makes more sense historically, logically, philosophically, and from my own experience of moral deliberation that it's at least plausible that these people were deliberating over matters that were bigger than themselves and their own subjective reactions, that there might be 'truth conditions' beyond what they chose them to be. That is the sense, I think, that most people have when they morally deliberate. It's not like these truths exist in absolute or propositional form or empirically, or that we can ever know them clearly or completely. But I think most people would say that outlawing the throwing of homosexuals off of high places or burning widows on their husband's funeral pyres as marking advances for human culture generally and not just for those who happen to agree with those changes.

    Again - deception is about "communication." It is not about "language." Language can be used to convey a truth - or to convey an untruth. You continually conflate language (one tool for communication) with the communication itself.
    Lying is about language. It's propositional. I meant lying. Language can convey a truth or untruth, but 'lying' is inconceivable apart from truth, whereas the opposite is not.
    Last edited by Jim B.; Today at 05:16 PM.

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    Again - I combined two posts into one...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I said it was "my own take" on Kant's Categorical Imperative, a "Prima Facie" interpretation of it. According to my argument, we still have a moral duty to tell the truth but that in some cases, other duties, such as preventing murder, override the prima facie duty to tell the truth. Thus it's morally permissible to lie to the Nazis. I didn't say that lying "erodes language" but that it contradicts the norm of truth that language use presupposes, the implicit contract that language users enter into.
    So, I agree that we have a moral duty to tell the truth in most circumstances, because I value society and relationship, And because that is the basis for my moral prohibition against lying, I also know exactly which circumstances, in my moral framework, permit lying. They are circumstances in which either no such erosion is likely or when telling the truth would do more damage to something I value even more. But you have not made a case that there is an objective moral imperative, not to mention a categorical imperative, againdt lying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Okay, I'm getting confused now. Did you say i a previous post that the 'moral framework' was what a 'society' agrees to or what an individual says it is for him or herself? I thought it was the former. But I thought that moral subjectivism was the position that the 'oughtness' of an action derives from the latter.
    I use the term "moral subjectivism" to reflect the fact that the individual determines what is moral based on what they have come to value and how actions impact those things. No society has a cohesive moral framework. Those specific moral positions commonly held by a significant majority of the members of a society are considered the "norm" for that society. Some are VERY widely held (e.g., random killing of an innocent is immoral), and others are less widely held (e.g., sex outside the context of a marriage is immoral). THe widely held moral positions can and do influence individuals - and individuals can have a profound impact on the moral norms of a society - but the individual is primary in determining what is and is not moral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Dictionaries are not always that good at giving more than a very superficial meaning to complex concepts like 'language.' Try coming to an understanding of 'religion' or 'consciousness' that way. It's okay for everyday rough and ready use but this is a philosophy thread. I thought it requires a little more depth.
    There is nothing wrong with adding depth or fleshing out implications. For example, in my discussion with Seer, the definition of "authority" included "right" and "power." It seems reasonable to then ask "how does one gain the right?" It is not part of the formal definition of authority, but if we do not agree on how "right" to demand obedience is derived, then we don't know much about how to determine what/who is or is not an "authority." But we run into problems when we begin to redefine words simply because their implications don't go where we want them to go. In your case, you seem to be conflating "language" and "communication" pretty badly. Language is a particular tool developed to facilitate communication. But it is only one way we communicate and language is not synonymous with communication. Much of what you want to associate with language is actually associated with communication.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    You're misunderstanding my point. I agree with you. I'm not saying that these things are always good in all circumstances. I'm saying that they CAN be good in themselves, intrinsically. Sometimes they're bad. Sometimes they're only instrumentally good. Sometimes they're indifferent. It's context-dependent.
    I would say "context-dependent" and "intrinsic" don't go together in the way you are attempting to do here. "Intrinsic" means "belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing." That does not seem to me to carry the denotation OR connotation of "context-dependent." Indeed, "context-dependent" seems to me to point to the subjective AND relative nature of "goodness."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    See above.
    No - you see above!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Refresh my memory about the arguments. I'll be glad to respond to them. Your personal history is irrelevant, as is whether or not you're indoctrinated. I apologize.
    Wow. You ARE refreshing to chat with! I think I can count on one hand the number of times anyone on this forum has apologized for anything.

    First, there is no argument that is going to "prove" that morality is subjective rather than objective. I don't see how such an argument (at least in the formal sense) would even be possible, so "argument" was perhaps not the right word on my part. "Evidence" would be a better word. There are several things I put forward:

    1) No one has ever put forward an argument for the existence of an objective basis for morality that does not reduce to "it cannot be subjective because then it wouldn't be objective." Seer has done this for pages and pages and pages, and I'm not even sure he sees it.

    2) Morality is a function of sentience. We do not see this form of categorization of action anywhere else in nature except in species with high-level sentience.

    3) Moral principles are analogous to legal principles. Both govern determining what action is and is not acceptable. Legal principles are subjective to the group/culture/society/country that derives them. Interestingly, no one ever argues for an "objective legal framework" to which all other legal frameworks should align. And the fact that different groups/cultures/societies/countries have different legal codes does not seem to be an issue, so why is it an issue for moral frameworks?

    4) Moral principles are NOT analogous to logical or mathematical principles. The latter are believed to be universal, objective, absolute principles that would continue to apply even if there was no sentient mind in existence to assess them. The moon would still be itself. A solar system with four solid planets and four gas giants would still have eight planets in all. But the entire concept of morality ceases to exist if there is no sentient mind in the universe. Without sentience, there are no sentient actors and no categorization.

    5) Most notably - if one takes ANY moral principle and plays that childish game of "but why?" you inevitably end up naming something that person values that the action in question would threaten/harm/destroy/diminish (immoral) or enhance/promote/protect/create (moral). Those who do NOT value that thing do not arrive at the same moral conclusion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I'll have to go back and look at what you wrote about the color analogy. It didn't seem to be on-topic. I remember you said that we don't see exactly the same colors. But the point is we see close enough under controlled conditions for the purposes of the analogy. We know that "red" is normally defined as 600 nanometers of photon emission, (that may not be the exact number) at least as far as physics can identify. 'Red' phenomenologically, however, requires a viewer. My point was that this fact does not mean that 'red' is a purely subjective concept. It is fixed by physics and physiology. It is not a matter of subjective choice or preference even though it is a matter of subjective experience.
    So there is an analogy here - but not the one you think. As with color, morality has an objectively real basis. For color, it is the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation impacting the retina. For morality it is the action in question. The wavelengths are objectively real - the action is objectively real. But the assessment of "color" is subjective to the individual, because of the very nature of our physiology. Likewise, the assessment of "morality" is subjective to the individual, because of the basis of morality in what the individual has come to value.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Yes, we're each using our moral assessments against each other but how? By what criteria do I have to judge your subjective reactions?
    By the criteria of your present/current moral framework.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Or mine, for that matter in the past or the future?
    Same answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    And if there are such criteria, that suggests that these criteria would form the basis for moral assessments, rather than subjective responses.
    They are the basis for our (subjective) moral assessments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    It's not just a matter of not following your moral framework but of finding that your framework needs to be re-adjusted.
    We typically find our moral framework needs to be adjusted if a) the things we value that underlie our moral frameworks shift, or b) we discover that we have made an error in reasoning from what we value to a moral position, accepting as "moral" something that is actually a threat to what we value.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    And why would not following my moral framework be any less valid than following it if I decide that it is?
    If we have truly decided that our moral framework needs to adjust, then our moral framework will shift. That is not the same as not following a moral framework we have not determined needs to shift, but that we simply have failed to live up to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    We've been over this already. You haven't responded to this argument at all. According to subjectivism, there is no fact of the matter in any moral issue, ergo no possibility for disagreement about that issue, only about subjective reactions to the issue.
    Yes, we have been over this - and I think I've been clear that your argument here reduces to "it can't be subjective because then it's not objective." I told you this will happen fairly regularly. Yes - there is no objective basis against which both you and I can assess our subjective moral frameworks. I assess you against mine, and you assess me against yours. If our underlying valuing is misaligned, then the resolution to the moral disagreement can only be achieved by aligning that valuing - and there is no assurance that this will happen. If we our underlying valuing is already aligned, then we should be able to argue from that valuing to the moral conclusions and find the point of disconnect. It is more likely we will align under those circumstances - but there is no guarantee that we will. There is no objective basis for determining "who is right."

    We know this. That is intrinsic to the definition of "subjective." So you are basically arguing "it can't be subjective because then it's not objective." Seer does not get this, but perhaps you will. This is not an argument. It is a restatement of the definitions of subjective and objective. What you are doing (to return to colors) is to say "that car can't be green because then it's not red." We already know that a green car is not red. This is not telling us anything. You are trying to claim that the car HAS to be green, but the only argument you have is "but if it's green, it's not red!" See the problem?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Language-use carries with it an implicit commitment to a norm or truth as a pre-supposition.
    Again - repeating this claim over and over again does not make it true. Successful communication and social cohesion carry with them an implicit commitment to truth. Language is just language. It's like saying "a hammer carries with it an implicit commitment to hit things." No - it doesn't. Like language, the hammer is just a tool. "Using a hammer to fasten two things with a nail" carries with it the implicit commitment to hit something. You are conflating language and communication.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Imagine being a natural scientist with no commitment to 'truth' or facts. A "Donald Trump" of Science if you will. The foundation of his project is self-negating not only to himself but to the entire scienitfic enterprise. The harmful effects are the consequence of this profound incoherence, because after all his papers may not get published, but this wouldn't mitigate the unethical nature of his acts.
    Yes - because the scientist's purpose is to discover the truth about reality, and then communicate that to the rest of the species. Without that commitment to truth, that process of discovery and the successful communication of it cannot happen. Language is simply the tool used to make that communication.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Or somewhere else!
    So many responses...so little time...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I actually agree with a lot of what you say here, but (surprise!) give it a slightly different twist. I agree that the most morally mature members of society fight for their moral position rather than blindly go along with the majority opinion, and that they fight the moral position of the culture. This is often the case of the 'moral reformer,' the person involved in abolition or women's suffrage. To me it makes more sense historically, logically, philosophically, and from my own experience of moral deliberation that it's at least plausible that these people were deliberating over matters that were bigger than themselves and their own subjective reactions, that there might be 'truth conditions' beyond what they chose them to be. That is the sense, I think, that most people have when they morally deliberate. It's not like these truths exist in absolute or propositional form or empirically, or that we can ever know them clearly or completely. But I think most people would say that outlawing the throwing of homosexuals off of high places or burning widows on their husband's funeral pyres as marking advances for human culture generally and not just for those who happen to agree with those changes.
    I agree that (hopefully) most people would come to those moral conclusions. But we disagree on why. I believe we agree on these moral principles because our shared experience of humanity, history, society, religion, experience, family, etc. result in us having highly aligned valuing. Since morality springs from what we value, there is no surprise that we have highly aligned moral frameworks. But we also have differences and the degree to which we are different can vary from "very little" to "a great deal," and it is from these differences that the disconnects in our moral frameworks arise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Lying is about language. It's propositional. I meant lying. Language can convey a truth or untruth, but 'lying' is inconceivable apart from truth, whereas the opposite is not.
    Umm...no. "Lying" is essentially the intentional misalignment of statement/claim from reality. "Truth" is the intentional alignment of statement/claim to reality. Neither definition depends on the other, or presupposes the other, and the two definitions are simply the opposite of one another (alignment/misalignment). If something can be aligned, then it can also be misaligned, and vice versa. What you are saying is the equivalent of "left is inconceivable apart from right, but whereas the opposite is not." I don't see ANY basis for accepting that claim.
    Last edited by carpedm9587; Today at 06:23 PM.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

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