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Thread: Atheism And Moral Progress

  1. #1211
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    What do principles of reason have to do with MORAL sanity? What does that even look like?
    An odd question, for someone who claims to value reason/rationality. The definition of sanity is all about reasoning/rationality, Seer. You are probably struggling with this because you seem to be under the impression that rationality can only live in the land of the objective, blind to the fact that we apply reason to subjective premises all the time. This has been demonstrated multiple times, but you tend to cut those parts out so you can get back to "green is not red" arguments.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    So that would depend on the kind of ethical culture you were in - correct?
    Of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Well obviously is there isn't an objective standard moral sanity could include or exclude almost anything.
    There isn't and it can and does - that's why I find the term largely useless.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Well you claimed to be morally sane.
    I do!

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    It is clear that that could mean anything, which means it means nothing.
    Basically. But then - so would the claim to moral insanity.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    But if you want to pretend that you are morally sane it is no skin off my nose. But it all seems rather circular.
    Unlike you, Seer, I tend to try to use words as they are defined. If someone shows me a way I have misused a word (as in my discussion with JimB and "subjective"), I'll acknowledge it and adjust accordingly. I recognize you tend to prefer to redefine words to suit your tastes and positions. I don't find that a useful way to communicate.

    Beyond that observation, I'll leave the last word to you on this theme. It doesn't look like it's going anywhere that the other endless pages haven't already gone, and you still have not provided any shred of defense for so-called "moral realism."
    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

  2. #1212
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    An odd question, for someone who claims to value reason/rationality. The definition of sanity is all about reasoning/rationality, Seer. You are probably struggling with this because you seem to be under the impression that rationality can only live in the land of the objective, blind to the fact that we apply reason to subjective premises all the time. This has been demonstrated multiple times, but you tend to cut those parts out so you can get back to "green is not red" arguments.
    Listen to yourself Carp, subjective moral premises that you can not demonstrate are true. Nor can you make a case without begging the question. And you call that reason?


    There isn't and it can and does - that's why I find the term largely useless.
    So your claim to moral sanity was largely useless. One wonders why you made the claim in the first place.


    I do!
    But why if the claim is useless?


    Unlike you, Seer, I tend to try to use words as they are defined. If someone shows me a way I have misused a word (as in my discussion with JimB and "subjective"), I'll acknowledge it and adjust accordingly. I recognize you tend to prefer to redefine words to suit your tastes and positions. I don't find that a useful way to communicate.
    So because I question the definition of supernatural (which we have no real understand of) I therefore redefine words at will? Nonsense...
    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...

  3. #1213
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Yes - they can. I would describe a moral framework with no outright internal contradictions as "more cohesive" than one without.
    Okay, I appreciate the fact that you demurred and said "more cohesive," but I challenge the assertion that you can find many moral frameworks at the descriptive level 'with no outright internal contradictions.'




    I would not consider that a "property of a sentence." To me, a "property of a sentence" is a characteristic of the sentence itself (proper syntax, proper grammatical form, etc.). But we may have come to the point where we are splitting hairs unnecessarily, and I'm not sure what the relevance of this is to the original discussion.
    I wrote the "truth content" when I should have written "truth value," ie whether or not a sentence is truth-bearing, that is whether it is a candidate for truth or falsity. But you're right, I think we're digressing a bit.



    Language is a tool for communicating. A hammer is a tool for pounding/prying nails. I would consider the sentence "language is one form of communication" as odd as I would consider the sentence "a hammer is one form of nail pounding." The tool is not the thing.
    But there are other forms of communication aside from language. There are no other tools for nail pounding aside from hammers. "The tool is not the thing'? Please explain. Although I suspect it's not worth it.



    I'm not. I'm disagreeing with your articulation of the concepts.
    I respectfully disagree.



    "In terms of" is an odd construct. You are communicating to me using the tool of language, and the truth value of the sentence can be determined by comparing the meaning of the sentence and the location of the cat.
    "In terms of" is a perfectly clear construction in that context. Is there something about you I should know? I ask this in a perfectly honest, respectful way just as a means of facilitating our discussion.





    No problem with any of these things - and one of them equates to "communicating via truth." I am communicating via language - or some other tool that can be used to communicate. "Truth" is not such a tool. It is an assessment of the alignment between the meaning of my communication and the state of the reality that communication attempts to convey.
    I didn't say truth is a tool. Truth is a norm by which language operates. Language is not strictly or entirely a "tool" either. That functional, reductive way of looking at language was abandoned in the 19th and early 20th Century. It's a rather simplistic way of looking at human language and cognition.



    Who else's opinion would I be expressing?

    I don't pepper my posts with, "IMO." I make the assumption that the person I'm talking to knows I'm speaking out of my own beliefs or philosophy. When I'm not, I usually cite the source.
    "IMO" is usually intended as a "rhetorical device." It's not usually meant as a literal marker to mean that one is expressing one's opinion. It's meant as a way to show some humility, attempt at fellow-feeling,camaraderie or an attempt to show that willingness, etc. You seem extremely literal-minded, if you don't mind my saying so.



    No.
    Wow. Okay. My condolences.



    The concept is oxymoronic.
    Do you mean that pleasure being a good in itself is oxymoronic to you or the very concept of a good-in-itself is oxymoronic? There is nothing you seek of savor just for its own sake? Giving or receiving love? A pleasant meal? Looking at a sunset?



    Sorry, Jim, but no thing (conceptual or otherwise) can be said to have "good" intrinsic to it. The "good" of the thing is always with respect to a valuer and a specific metric for measuring that "goodness." I know of no exceptions.
    All intrinsic goods presuppose experiences and all experiences presuppose an experiencer, ie a valuer or assessor.



    I think that aligns pretty well with what I said, except for the "universals" part. We also have a sample set of one species to work from. Moral thinking occurs, as best we can tell, along with the ability to abstract, self-reflect, and form complex languages. It also appears to occur with higher tool making. But we see aspects of moral behavior in other species, just less developed than we see it in humans. That is pretty consistent with just about everything associated with higher brain function.
    No evidence in non-human species of normativity or principles or of being able to adopt the subjunctive or hypothetical mood relative to oneself, all of which take a pretty high order of self-abstraction.



    So you misunderstood the post. Moral principles are not analogous to legal principles because they are both subjective. They are analogous to legal principles because they a) both deal with categorizing human behavior and b) both establish "ought" and "ought not" categories. Legal principles are clearly subjective (unless you want to try to argue otherwise...?), which does not appear to be a problem for anyone. No one says "we cannot discuss legal principles due to their subjective nature" or "legal principles are irrational because there is not objective standard against which to assess them," or "legal principles are trivialized by their subjectivity." Yet when someone says, "morality is subjective," these are some of the arguments touted out to argue against the position. So why is subjectivity NOT a problem with legal principles and is suddenly a problem with moral ones?
    Well, you need to write more carefully. Here's the paragraph header:

    Moral principles are analogous to legal principles.


    And then after one sentence:

    Legal principles are subjective to the group/society/culture that derives them.



    Universalizability: You are apparently assuming moral norms need to be or can be - this has not been shown.
    Categorizability: Both appear to be about categorization of action, so I don't see a difference to be explained here.
    Normativity: Both deal with "ought" conditions related to actions. I don't see a difference to be explained here.
    Possibility of critique across cultures and historical periods: Again, you seem to be begging the question. If both are subjective, there is no issue here. The issue only arises if you make the assumption that morality is objective and law subjective - which means you're assuming your conclusion.
    No, except for normativity, these are all normative. These are what we are aiming towards in our moral systems. You really ought to try to learn what normativity is and how it differs from being descriptive. You keep confusing the two.

    I have proposed a reason why I think people cling to this notion of an objective moral framework that all "ought" to align to: they have been conditioned to think this way. That is what religions have taught since the concept of a punisher god first emerged. But when you look at the arguments for an objective basis for morality - none of them hold up to scrutiny. Most of them (e.g., Seer's arguments) reduce to a restatement of the definition of the terms.
    But wouldn't law carry residual religious baggage as well. Why do we not see it as much there? Law has to do with societal norms, punishment, reward, keeping God's laws.

    I see no reason to cling to this notion when, upon examination, it simply cannot withstand scrutiny. The subjective nature of morality is fairly evident all around us, easily explains the dynamics we see in the human species, and aligns well with its close cousin: legal frameworks. Why add to a concept that which is not necessary to it?
    Because it leaves out essential parts unexplained. It's reductive. Like when phyicalists try to 'explain' consciousness, they leave the essential part out of it in order for consciousness to fit into a physical world picture. Like trying to cram a round peg into a square hole. You're trying to re-define the subject matter, in this case, morality, to fit your already agreed upon theory. It strikes many as Procrustean.


    And again, I note, an analogy is only useful when the two things being compared have some points of comparison that can be built on. You're not trying to make an analogy here, you're making a form of equation: "this is like that because both are X." Except that is the exact point of our conflict. Moral principles are NOT like logical and mathematical ones because the former is subjective and the latter are not. Moral principles are more rightly compared to legal ones, because the two groups show much in common. Examining the later can inform us about the former.
    I think I see the source of the confusion. I'm not offering the analogy as evidence that I am right. That would be question-begging. I am offering the analogy as part of my argument. You have to understand it as part of the broader context of an argument I'm making, but that I can never get to because we keep haggling over these myopic points you keep raising. It's part of a broader argument.



    Morality is both descriptive and prescriptive, and there is no conflict between subjectivity and prescription.

    P1: I want pizza for lunch
    P2: That restaurant serves pizza
    C: I should eat my lunch at that restaurant.

    The conclusion is a prescription for future behavior. It is not the only possibility. P1 is completely subjective. Where is the problem?
    No problem because you're talking about everyday prudence and practicality. The controversy is over whether morality involves another kind of language and logic than prudence. You cannot assume that it does not without begging the question. My trying to establish that it DOES involve another kind of language and logic is what I'm trying to get started doing.


    OK - I see our disconnect now. I am using the term subjective in two senses: 1) unique to each individual, and 2) impacted by thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Morality and color are both subjective in the first sense (and perhaps I should use "individualized" instead for that sense, since the formal definition of subjective does not really include that concept directly) but only morality is subjective in the second sense (which is more aligned with the dictionary definition of "subjective"). I agree that color is not, as far as I know. Our perception of color will be largely dictated by the wavelength, luminosity, and my specific physiology.
    I've always used the same definition of "subjective" which is in line with the definition used by moral subjectivists: determined by an individual's personal choice or preference. Color assessment is almost never subjective in this sense,and I would argue that moral judgments are not either.
    Last edited by Jim B.; 08-22-2019 at 02:11 PM.

  4. Amen Adrift amen'd this post.
  5. #1214
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Listen to yourself Carp, subjective moral premises that you can not demonstrate are true. Nor can you make a case without begging the question. And you call that reason?
    See my previous response. You are making the same error - again.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    So your claim to moral sanity was largely useless. One wonders why you made the claim in the first place.
    Useless to you, because of your flawed reasoning. Useful to most people who use language conventionally.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    But why if the claim is useless?
    See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    So because I question the definition of supernatural (which we have no real understand of) I therefore redefine words at will? Nonsense...
    Well... it is a pattern with you, Seer. YOu have a tendency to try to redefine your way to your conclusions. I frankly don't expect that pattern to change.
    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

  6. #1215
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    But that is no more than your opinion, there is no reason to assume that the non-rational forces of nature created this finely tuned, life permitting, intelligible universe. Now what
    Well here we are in our “life permitting, intelligible universe”. And we have evolved in such a way as to survive on this particular planet in this particular universe. There is no good reason to add a deity into the equation, nor is there any substantive evidence to support your notion that one was necessary.

    Nonsense Tass, every thing I listed is necessary for science to function, and they are all unprovable assumptions, again:

    The uniformity of nature, logical absolutes, a physical universe exists that operates independently of our perceptions, the universe operates according to certain laws which are knowable, events have natural causes which can be explained by natural laws, the laws of nature are constant throughout space and time.


    Tell me Tass how do you do science without these assumptions? What does that even look like?
    These are not assumptions. They are universal, measurable constants and have a physical quantity that is seen to be both universal in nature and have constant value in time.
    “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.

  7. #1216
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    These are not assumptions. They are universal, measurable constants and have a physical quantity that is seen to be both universal in nature and have constant value in time.
    Nonsense Tass, prove that nature will act tomorrow as it does today, prove that the laws of nature are universal, prove that logical laws are universal. These are unproven assumptions.
    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...

  8. #1217
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    See my previous response. You are making the same error - again.
    What error? That you have to argue in a circle (or beg the question) to support your moral claims (what you find moral or not)?

    Useless to you, because of your flawed reasoning. Useful to most people who use language conventionally.
    What? You are the one who said the term moral sanity was useless. Which makes sense since there is no objective way to measure it in your world. Heck in relativism a good Nazi could be morally sane.


    Well... it is a pattern with you, Seer. YOu have a tendency to try to redefine your way to your conclusions. I frankly don't expect that pattern to change.

    That is false Carp, besides our discussion about natural/supernatural show me where I did that. I actually tend to use accepted definitions.
    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...

  9. #1218
    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    "IMO" is usually intended as a "rhetorical device." It's not usually meant as a literal marker to mean that one is expressing one's opinion. It's meant as a way to show some humility, attempt at fellow-feeling,camaraderie or an attempt to show that willingness, etc. You seem extremely literal-minded, if you don't mind my saying so.
    A number of posters have noted carpedm's...unusual take on language. Either defining words idiosyncratically, or holding to strict dictionary definitions to a degree unwarranted by their ordinary/greater meaning and usage. There have been a number of times where I've had to explain simple turns of phrase or figures of speech that he took over-literally like the "IMO" example above. I suspect some of that is just defensiveness, but who knows (he'd likely retort that it's mind-reading, or that the issue is with posers here, as he's had few problems with posters on other forums). I think the myopic points you find yourself constantly haggling over, and his reluctance or inability to see the bigger picture is part of that literal-mindedness you observe. Unfortunately it's lead to a number of posters (seer excluded) giving up on the idea that constructive conversation is possible.

  10. Amen Jim B. amen'd this post.
  11. #1219
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    A number of posters have noted carpedm's...unusual take on language. Either defining words idiosyncratically, or holding to strict dictionary definitions to a degree unwarranted by their ordinary/greater meaning and usage. There have been a number of times where I've had to explain simple turns of phrase or figures of speech that he took over-literally like the "IMO" example above. I suspect some of that is just defensiveness, but who knows (he'd likely retort that it's mind-reading, or that the issue is with posers here, as he's had few problems with posters on other forums). I think the myopic points you find yourself constantly haggling over, and his reluctance or inability to see the bigger picture is part of that literal-mindedness you observe. Unfortunately it's lead to a number of posters (seer excluded) giving up on the idea that constructive conversation is possible.
    Carp suffers from binary thinking...
    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...

  12. #1220
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    A number of posters have noted carpedm's...unusual take on language. Either defining words idiosyncratically, or holding to strict dictionary definitions to a degree unwarranted by their ordinary/greater meaning and usage. There have been a number of times where I've had to explain simple turns of phrase or figures of speech that he took over-literally like the "IMO" example above. I suspect some of that is just defensiveness, but who knows (he'd likely retort that it's mind-reading, or that the issue is with posers here, as he's had few problems with posters on other forums). I think the myopic points you find yourself constantly haggling over, and his reluctance or inability to see the bigger picture is part of that literal-mindedness you observe. Unfortunately it's lead to a number of posters (seer excluded) giving up on the idea that constructive conversation is possible.
    That's good to know that it's not just me. Thanks, Adrift.

  13. Amen Adrift amen'd this post.

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