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Thread: Atheism And Moral Progress

  1. #1231
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    Well you are certainly “done”. You promote an “objective” moral system grounded in the “divine revelation” of a deity the existence of which is unsupported by any substantive evidence.
    Tass, what be substantive evidence for God?
    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...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

  2. #1232
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Jim - we have gone off on a number of tangents. I am going to be restricting my time on TWeb significantly, and you are pretty much the only person here I'm finding value in having exchanges with. The others have become tired, predictable, and repetitive. However, I want to eschew the tangents and focus on some of the core issues. So I'm going to be selective in what I am responding to. If I haven't responded to something, it's because I consider it a sidetrack to the core discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I could have expressed that more clearly. I would say that all intrinsic goods are experiences. The goodness is intrinsic to the experience. Pleasure is an experience and I would say that the experience is intrinsically good, even though it may lead to or be associated with bad or neutral things, and even though different people may find that different things give them pleasure/displeasure.

    I know about the research, and I appreciate that many of the attributes formerly thought to be unique to humans have been found to exist in other species. That is why this matter turns fundamentally on a philosophical question: what is morality? Should we modify the concept of morality so that it fits the criteria of the behavior of other species? To question that impulse and to suggest that morality fulfill the conditions that humans attribute to it, such as 'principles,' 'deliberation,' 'critique,' 'quandary,' and the like is what it all will hinge on.

    The idea is that legal principles ought ideally to be grounded or legitimized in moral principles. If moral realism is right, then legal principles are grounded in what is real but one step further removed from the real than moral principles. Obviously, there have been corrupt political regimes where the relation between legal principles and what is real is tenuous at best, just as there have been morally corrupt 'societies' like the Mafia where the relation between their moral principles and the objectively real is tenuous, if not contrary.

    Why do you think the argument is made in one domain and not in the other?
    First - I disagree that legal principles are grounded in moral principles. SOME legal principles are so grounded. This is natural: if a society has a particular moral norm, it will attempt to codify that norm in its legal system. But morally-based legal principles are a subset of all legal principles. Legal principles are not necessarily grounded in morality - as my previous post demonstrated.

    Second - I think there is a difference because legal principles have always been accepted as subjective to the group/society, but moral principles have been projected on a god for many millenia. There is a hypothesis (which appears to fit the facts) that the concept of punisher gods (and the projection of these moral codes) have arisen in each society as that society grew beyond the point where everyone in the community could know everyone else. It's a pretty compelling hypothesis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Here's where things get interesting, because I think you are actually more of a moral realist than you may realize. You have a moral framework that you say you want to universalize, but I submit that you don't want to universalize it due to the (trivial) reason that it is 'yours.' Of course it is yours but only insofar as it is occurring to/in your mind. I suggest that you want to universalize it because you believe it is the "best" framework available, "bestness" being definable in several possible different ways, but none meaning "because it happens to occur to me in particular." It shouldn't matter to you from where you got your framework, from a friend, your parents, a book, overheard it on the bus, etc. What would matter is that you would think it "best" in some way. Of course, you have to assess it "best", just as we all do, but we are assessing it in the light of criteria that are not 'ours' except for the fact that they are occurring in our minds. We assess them in the of an "ideal consensus" that is free from bias, optimally informed, optimally rational, etc. We don't assess them subjectively as our autobiographical selves.

    If you're a true subjectivist, how can there be moral universals anyway? YOu say you would be fighting to establish moral universals, but as a subjectivist, that seems to be a contradiction in terms. A true subjectivist would have to reject the very notion of moral universals. They would be oxymoronic, as you say.
    No - I consider my moral framework to be "best" because it is the framework that best protects what I value/cherish. What I value/cherish is best protected not only if I live by a particular moral code, but if I live in a society/culture that shares the same core set of "things I value/cherish" and the same (or a highly similar) moral framework. What I value/cherish is best protected if everyone values as I do and has the same moral framework. It's no more complex than that.

    However, that reality is tempered by the recognition that this state of affairs will never occur - for the very reason that morality IS subjective. So "as good as it can get" is "as good as it can get," and for the differences that remain, we fall back on ignore (for the small stuff), isolate/separate (for the more serious stuff) and/or contend (for the most serious stuff).

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    The things Iisted. The tendency to universalize our moral maxims, as you just illustrated above. the possibility for moral dialogue is very limited under subjectivism. Also the autonomy of individuals is difficult to justify as a universal categorical maxim under subjectivism.
    See above for "universalizing." It's not "unanswered." It just seems that you don't like the answer.

    I am not having a problem with "moral dialogue." We humans value many of the same things - providing common ground for moral discussions. The laws of ;logic we use to reason from what we value to our moral conclusions are the same for all of us...providing another point of commonality. Yes - there are topics we can never align on. I will never convince Seer or Sparko that their stance on homosexuality is a moral ill because my moral framework is not rooted in the same thing as theirs. So what we agree on morally we will largely agree on because the moral framework they follow is one outlined by other humans so it has a high degree of parallelism to widely held moral norms against lying, cheating, stealing, wantonly killing, etc. But when we differ, we have no basis for resolution. But that is always true...since morality is intrinsically subjective.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Because an analogy that is free-standing as evidence that the speaker is right is different than an analogy that is part of a broader argument. An analogy that is free-standing that is intended as evidence on its own is just an assertion. It can be a support for a broader argument.

    A third and fourth possibility exist.1) I haven't made the full case yet. And 2)you are possibly, with all due respect a) not following all of what I'm saying, as evidenced by the amount of effort it took to get you to see the meanings of the words 'normative' and 'subjective', ie 15 posts, give or take, and b) you are quite invested in your moral theory and have heavily framed metaethics accordingly. (I plead guilty to the same.) Arguing about metaethics is not like arguing about empirical matters, although even empirical matters can lead to extremely intransigent positions that are all but immune to disproof and argument.
    Both are possibilities. I await the "full case" and I will try to be cognizant of over-investment in my metaethics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    How about establishing that you're contradicting yourself, as above?
    I have not seen a place where you have established this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    BTW, what is "new" or "old" is irrelevant to the discussion. And FWIW, As I've mentioned before, but you evidently missed, your theory is probably older than mine.
    I don't think the age tells us anything about the truth, Jim - if that is your concern. I do think that the concept of morality as objective has been far more widely and successfully indoctrinated - which was the point. I don't put a lot of stock in an indoctrinated position. Give me an argument I can look at and assess. So far, I'm not seeing one - so I'll stay with what my observations tell me about morality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I don't do that. I ask you to do the same and don't lump me in with the 'flat earthers,' and yourself with the 'globalists,' because it's much more nuanced than that, as I hope you know. And I hope to be making more of my actual arguments soon.
    The "flat-earthers" was not intended to be an accusation, Jim - it was meant to be an analogy. If you are going to support a position that right now is widely held for reasons I find inadequate, you have to provide reasons that are adequate. So far, I have not seen them. I think your claim is "moral principles are assessed against an objectively correct moral framework." If so - make the case. If not - then correct the claim and make the case.
    Last edited by carpedm9587; 08-26-2019 at 04:37 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

  3. #1233
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Tass, what be substantive evidence for God?
    You’re the one that claims God, the source of your morality, has a firm basis in reality so you tell me.
    “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. #1234
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    You’re the one that claims God, the source of your morality, has a firm basis in reality so you tell me.
    No Tass when you talk about there no being evidence you must have some idea what that evidence would look like or your objection has no meaning. Scientific evidence?
    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...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

  5. #1235
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    No - I consider my moral framework to be "best" because it is the framework that best protects what I value/cherish. What I value/cherish is best protected not only if I live by a particular moral code, but if I live in a society/culture that shares the same core set of "things I value/cherish" and the same (or a highly similar) moral framework. What I value/cherish is best protected if everyone values as I do and has the same moral framework. It's no more complex than that.
    But why do you value/cherish it? I as a moral realist would say "Because it is right or good in some way independent of my valuing/cherishing it." You as a subjectivist would answer how? That your valuing/cherishing it is what makes it good? You're basically saying "X is good" means "I approve of X." If I ask you what you mean by the statement "I approve of X" you would have to answer "X is good." So you are half right: the realization of morality is necessarily subjective, or realized by individuals, but the justification of morality cannot be subjective without the concept of morality breaking down into incoherence.





    See above for "universalizing." It's not "unanswered." It just seems that you don't like the answer.



    I am not having a problem with "moral dialogue." We humans value many of the same things - providing common ground for moral discussions. The laws of ;logic we use to reason from what we value to our moral conclusions are the same for all of us...providing another point of commonality. Yes - there are topics we can never align on. I will never convince Seer or Sparko that their stance on homosexuality is a moral ill because my moral framework is not rooted in the same thing as theirs. So what we agree on morally we will largely agree on because the moral framework they follow is one outlined by other humans so it has a high degree of parallelism to widely held moral norms against lying, cheating, stealing, wantonly killing, etc. But when we differ, we have no basis for resolution. But that is always true...since morality is intrinsically subjective.
    But there's a tension or conflict between the very premise of subjectivism and moral dialogue. Under subjectivism, I am the justifier of my moral beliefs. Under moral dialogue, there is a common rational standard to which I implicitly submit my moral beliefs. I give an argument to this effect later. This standard is not mine except insofar as I participate in it. It is the ultimate justification of our moral beliefs if we enter into dialogue.




    I don't think the age tells us anything about the truth, Jim - if that is your concern. I do think that the concept of morality as objective has been far more widely and successfully indoctrinated - which was the point. I don't put a lot of stock in an indoctrinated position. Give me an argument I can look at and assess. So far, I'm not seeing one - so I'll stay with what my observations tell me about morality.
    You're confusing motivation and realization on the one hand with justification on the other. The first two are at the individual level. The last, justification, is by its nature objective, ie it cannot depend upon any one person's beliefs or desires.

  6. #1236
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    Arguments Against Moral Subjectivism Note: These are in rough form and need to be fine-tuned.

    The Prescription Argument

    1.) Moral subjectivism is the theory that there are no objective moral norms or standards.

    2.) A norm or standard is objective if it can be applied to two or more individuals and when it holds true independently of an individual's beliefs and desires.

    3.) If the subjectivist says that there are moral principles that more than one moral agent ought to follow, then

    4.) he or she is saying that there are moral norms or standards that more than one moral agent ought to follow.

    5.) In so doing, the subjectivist, therefore, contradicts subjectivism.


    The Autonomy Argument

    1.) Subjectivism is the theory that moral principles are true relative only to an individual's beliefs and desires.

    2.) Subjectivism requires the autonomy of individuals as its necessary condition. Given that there are individuals, their autonomy is required for subjectivism to exist for them.

    3.) In order to insure the protection of the autonomy of individuals, respect for the autonomy of individuals is a moral necessity.

    4.) Respect for the autonomy of individuals is therefore an objectively necessary moral principle for the existence of subjectivism, given that individuals exist, and that this truth does not depend upon an individual's beliefs or desires.

    5.) There is therefore an objective moral principle which is true regardless of an individual's beliefs or desires.

    6.) Therefore, subjectivism is false.

    Thought Experiment: Imagine a despot taking over a country and subjecting its people to his rule. Except for his family and a close circle of followers, he forces the entire rest of the population to undergo a simple painless procedure where a small implant is placed in their brains. This device prevents them from making 'free' decisions for the rest of their lives. They are content but they cannot decide things for themselves. Has something objectively bad happened?

    The Is/Ought Argument

    1.) The subjectivist claims that moral beliefs are really subjective preferences.

    2.) Subjective preferences are descriptive statements.

    3.) Moral beliefs are prescriptive statements.

    4.) The subjectivist gives us no idea of how a descriptive statement is supposed to be converted into a prescriptive statement.

    5.) Subjectivism is highly implausible at best and incoherent at worst.
    Last edited by Jim B.; 08-27-2019 at 02:34 PM.

  7. #1237
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    The Plausibility Argument (After Michael Huemer)

    1.) There are certain moral statements which seem to nearly all reasonable people to be true, such as "Happiness is preferable to misery," "Hitler was a bad person," "Torturing children for pleasant amusement is morally wrong."

    2.) These statements furthermore seem to be true in an objective way, that is, their truth does not depend upon any individual's beliefs and desires.

    3.) No premise of subjectivism can be more certain than the premise that happiness is desirable or that torturing children for amusement is wrong.

    4.) Therefore, one is justified in concluding that moral objectivism, on balance, is more plausible than moral subjectivism.


    Moral Dialogue Argument

    1.) Moral subjectivism is the theory that the truth of moral beliefs depends on an individual's beliefs and desires.

    2.) Morality and ethics require moral dialogue.

    3.) Moral dialogue presupposes an ideal standard of rationality and openness that all participants implicitly agree to.

    4.) Anyone entering into moral dialogue must be willing to submit his or her moral beliefs to all other possible participants in the light of this commonly agreed to rational standard or canon.

    5.) Therefore, no moral belief open to the rational standard of moral dialogue and critique can ever be identical to an individual's subjective moral belief.

    6.) Morality, which depends upon moral dialogue requiring moral beliefs, is therefore logically independent of any individual's subjective beliefs.

    7.) Therefore, morality is incompatible with subjectivism.

  8. #1238
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    But why do you value/cherish it?
    What we come to value/cherish springs from many sources: upbringing, experience, social/cultural/religious influences, our nature as human beings, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I as a moral realist would say "Because it is right or good in some way independent of my valuing/cherishing it."
    I'm aware. But it's not a case you've made or I believe you CAN make.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    You as a subjectivist would answer how?
    See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    That your valuing/cherishing it is what makes it good?
    We value/cherish something that we perceive/conclude/assess is a "good" for us.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    You're basically saying "X is good" means "I approve of X."
    Actually, "X is good" means "I assess X as good for reason Y."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    If I ask you what you mean by the statement "I approve of X" you would have to answer "X is good."
    Since that is not what I would answer - no. See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    So you are half right: the realization of morality is necessarily subjective, or realized by individuals, but the justification of morality cannot be subjective without the concept of morality breaking down into incoherence.
    Since that is not how I would answer - I don't agree with your conclusion - and I am not having any problem with "coherence."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    But there's a tension or conflict between the very premise of subjectivism and moral dialogue.
    Legal principles are subjective to the society/group that derives them, and do not have this problem. I see no reason to accept that moral principles, which are analogous, are any more subject to this "problem" you have proposed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Under subjectivism, I am the justifier of my moral beliefs. Under moral dialogue, there is a common rational standard to which I implicitly submit my moral beliefs.
    No. Moral dialogue does not require this "common rational standard." You are assuming your conclusion. I can engage in moral dialogue by a) trying to influence what another person values/cherishes (if we value/cherish differently), and b) examining the rational arguments used from what is valued/cherished to the moral position (if we value/cherish similarly). There is, of course, no guaranty of success - so ignore, isolate/separate, and contend are the last options. You argument, if you strip it down, reduces to "it can't be subjective because then it would not be objective." That is not an argument - it's a restatement of the obvious. We already know that a subjective thing is not objective.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I give an argument to this effect later. This standard is not mine except insofar as I participate in it. It is the ultimate justification of our moral beliefs if we enter into dialogue.

    You're confusing motivation and realization on the one hand with justification on the other. The first two are at the individual level. The last, justification, is by its nature objective, ie it cannot depend upon any one person's beliefs or desires.
    As far as I can tell - this is another variant on "it can't be subjective because then it would not be objective." That's still not an argument, no matter how many ways you find to say it.

    ETA: I cannot get to the other posts tonight. Perhaps tomorrow.
    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. #1239
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    What we come to value/cherish springs from many sources: upbringing, experience, social/cultural/religious influences, our nature as human beings, etc.
    None of that alters what i wrote. That all goes to motivation. It all stands in need of justification. Thoughts and motives occur to us in our brains/minds. That's the side of the equation that you are restricting yourself to, like the reductionist who only looks at neuronal activity when discussing mental activity and consciousness. You never entertain the possibility that there might be another level of description for the same phenomena you are attempting to describe.



    I'm aware. But it's not a case you've made or I believe you CAN make.
    That's because you only allow yourself to look at one side of the equation. Only one side can possibly be real for you. That is your ontology. You've decided that before the fact and no amount of evidence or argumentation will sway you one nanometer.



    See above.
    We all need to see above.



    Since that is not how I would answer - I don't agree with your conclusion - and I am not having any problem with "coherence."
    Of course not, because you don;t allow certain things into your ontology from the outset.



    No. Moral dialogue does not require this "common rational standard." You are assuming your conclusion. I can engage in moral dialogue by a) trying to influence what another person values/cherishes (if we value/cherish differently), and b) examining the rational arguments used from what is valued/cherished to the moral position (if we value/cherish similarly). There is, of course, no guaranty of success - so ignore, isolate/separate, and contend are the last options. You argument, if you strip it down, reduces to "it can't be subjective because then it would not be objective." That is not an argument - it's a restatement of the obvious. We already know that a subjective thing is not objective.
    How can you attempt to 'influence' another person without there being such a commonly agreed to rational standard? Through what means? Force? Threat of force? Enticement? The fact that we can even assume that we cna attempt to influence each other with 'reasons' only proves my point.



    As far as I can tell - this is another variant on "it can't be subjective because then it would not be objective." That's still not an argument, no matter how many ways you find to say it.
    Evidently, you can't tell very far. If I can do nothing else here but try to get you to see that I am not arguing that "it can't be subjective because then it would not be objective," I would feel some tiny satisfaction. I am arguing that it can't be subjective because then all of these OTHER untenable consequences follow from it being subjective. One of them is the fact that subjectivism leads to a confusion between the fact that some motive happens to occur to me and the justification for that motive, where that conflation itself is unjustified.
    Last edited by Jim B.; 08-27-2019 at 06:52 PM.

  10. Amen Adrift amen'd this post.
  11. #1240
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    No Tass when you talk about there no being evidence you must have some idea what that evidence would look like or your objection has no meaning. Scientific evidence?
    You claim to have evidence of the source of your morality, namely God. Provide it. I know of none.
    “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.

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