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Thread: Atheism And Moral Progress

  1. #1631
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    OK, this is where I think I'm going with this. Honestly/dishonesty is a moral consideration. Yet in your world view the question of honestly is relative, there is no objective or universal reality.
    There is no "objectively true moral principle." In other words, "one ought to be honest" is not a universal/absolute/objective moral truth. The truth of the statement is relative/subjective to the individual. If someone values society/community/relationship, they will see the moral principle "one ought to be honest" as a "moral truth" because dishonesty threatens/damages society/community/relationships.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    So a man, let's say, formulates an argument for a moral position - but his argument is dishonest, even blatantly so.
    What exactly does a "dishonest moral position" or a "dishonest argument for a moral position" look like? Do you have an example?

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    If honestly is a relative consideration why isn't his argument just as justified or legitimate as yours which is scrupulously honest? I mean you could simply appeal to the masses and say we all find his argument dishonest, but that doesn't rationally make it any more illegitimate than yours. Since the question of honestly is relative.
    Ahh... so you're back to wanting to be able to assess the "justification" or "legitimacy" for a moral position. Once again, an assessment of "more/less justified" or "more/less legitimate" requires a framework in which to make the assessment/measurement. You appear (again) to be trying to make objective evaluations of subjective realities. Whatever reason a person cites for "valuing X," how do you determine which person's "valuing" is more or less justified or legitimate than someone else's when the valuing is subjective?

    Using an example from the trivial end of the valuing scale: is Peter's "valuing pizza" more or less justified/legitimate than Sue's "valuing sushi?"
    Using an example from the legal world: are Norway's laws providing universal healthcare more or less justified/legitimate than the US' laws NOT providing universal healthcare?

    You cannot assess the justification/legitimacy of a subjective reality using an objective measuring stick.
    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. #1632
    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    There is no "objectively true moral principle." In other words, "one ought to be honest" is not a universal/absolute/objective moral truth. The truth of the statement is relative/subjective to the individual. If someone values society/community/relationship, they will see the moral principle "one ought to be honest" as a "moral truth" because dishonesty threatens/damages society/community/relationships.



    What exactly does a "dishonest moral position" or a "dishonest argument for a moral position" look like? Do you have an example?
    Like killing Jews is legitimate because they are sub-human. They are not factually sub-human, non-human.


    Ahh... so you're back to wanting to be able to assess the "justification" or "legitimacy" for a moral position. Once again, an assessment of "more/less justified" or "more/less legitimate" requires a framework in which to make the assessment/measurement. You appear (again) to be trying to make objective evaluations of subjective realities. Whatever reason a person cites for "valuing X," how do you determine which person's "valuing" is more or less justified or legitimate than someone else's when the valuing is subjective?

    Using an example from the trivial end of the valuing scale: is Peter's "valuing pizza" more or less justified/legitimate than Sue's "valuing sushi?"
    Using an example from the legal world: are Norway's laws providing universal healthcare more or less justified/legitimate than the US' laws NOT providing universal healthcare?

    You cannot assess the justification/legitimacy of a subjective reality using an objective measuring stick.

    So again, you can not say that honestly is a requirement for making a moral argument, since that is as relative as anything else.
    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. #1633
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Like killing Jews is legitimate because they are sub-human. They are not factually sub-human, non-human.
    That, of course, depends on one's definition of "human" and "sub-human." We've already seen that language is malleable and some people are perfectly comfortable changing the common definitions of words if they don't like them (see discussion on "supernatural") and will justify that change until the cows come home. So - no surprise here.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    So again, you can not say that honestly is a requirement for making a moral argument, since that is as relative as anything else.
    I don't recall saying "honesty is a requirement for making a moral argument." Indeed, people will make moral arguments on the basis of logic, feelings, or anything else they think is "the right way to do it." You make moral arguments on the basis of what is written in a collection of ancient books you have decided are "the word of god." Whatever basis people choose for making their moral arguments is the basis they will choose. Arguing with them about their moral positions either requires that you adopt their approach, or convince them to change their approach. If neither is possible, we are left with ignore, isolate/separate, or contend.

    Frankly, it took a bit for me to realize that I was basically pounding my head against a wall with moral arguments when discussing things like same-sex intimacy with you and Sparko and others. I was basically not taking the time to appreciate the basis you folks use, and the limits that places on arguments that have the potential to work in swaying your positions. As soon as I "woke up" and realized the inherent futility of the approach I was trying to take, you will notice that I largely stopped discussing those moral principles with folks here. The discussions are pretty much doomed to failure. I have almost no chance of swaying anyone here to accept same-sex intimacy as moral (or at least morally neutral).
    Last edited by carpedm9587; 09-24-2019 at 03:33 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

  4. #1634
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Actually, Jim. I have - many times. The reasons I think this way is:

    1) It is my experience within myself
    2) It is what I see people all around me doing all the time.
    3) It fits with what I perceive of our nature as humans
    4) No one has ever given me a cogent, non-circular, rational argument for accepting that morality is based on objective truths.
    And all of these points are merely assertions and do not stand in a relationship to one another that one could call an argument, which I assume you wouldn't disagree with :) Also, fun fact, all four points map exactly onto all of my analogical arguments.

    I assume the "talking points" you reference are my outline for how I believe morality functions both within societies and within the individual? When I don't think the points have been understood, I attempt to reframe them as best I can. But there are only so many ways to say a thing, so it does sometimes get repetitious.
    I suggest that it gets repetitious when you don't have any further justification for your position beyond the standard slogans you've already given. When asked to delve deeper and justify why you think that the slogans are true, you simply repeat the slogans in the same or slightly different wording.



    At no point did I limit morality to "one's life" and "survival," so I have no response to this. It appears to be a response to someone else's argument.
    Maybe I wasn't clear. I never said that morality is limited to one's life and survival. I'm saying that it's the most urgent interest that nearly everyone has and yet it isn't a moral consideration at all. I used it as a counter-example to your point that whatever one values/cherishes the most will be of the greatest moral consideration.



    So far, I have responded to all of these points, and shown how they are essentially circular or simply do not apply. I do not think morality is at all "simple." However, the nature of morality is not that difficult to understand.
    Sorry, but I respectfully disagree. I don't think you successfully answered any of them, including the fallibility, disagreement, or plausibility arguments, or Cuneo's "Normative Web" argument, or the normative background argument, to name but a few. And the nature of morality is more complex than you represent it as being.



    Your statement included the phrase, "that all disputants tacitly agree to, at least in practice." In the context, it appeared to be claiming that the fact that so much of the world clings to the notion of morality as an objective exercise somehow substantiates that this is indeed the fact. I didn't find an appeal to majority compelling.
    There's a difference between a consensus, if not unanimity indicating a probable underlying truth and a consensus constituting a truth. The former is what I'm referring to. The latter is what you're accusing me of.



    I have had no problem with consistently living out my ethics AND my meta-ethics (though I am as prone as anyone else to failing to live up to my own expectations), so I have no idea what you are referring to.
    You said you could be wrong in light of reason and rationality.

  5. Amen Adrift amen'd this post.
  6. #1635
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Now I think you might be the one confusing "individualized" with "subjective," as previously discussed.
    You're right. Good catch. How about "phenomenal" or "experiential" in place of "subjective, and their opposites being "mind-independent" or "objective"?

    And this does nothing to address the apples-to-oranges comparison I pointed out. Objective morality is not being "filtered" through subjective premises in any way that is analogous to how objective reality is filtered through our individualized perceptions. I don't see your comparison holding, or making the point you seem to think it is making.
    Of course it does. Every ostensibly 'objective' moral principle and moral 'truth' has to be apprehended through or by means of one's individual phenomenal experience of valuing a certain thing, ie 'rooted in' that experience . Every ostensibly 'objective' physical object has to be apprehended by means of one's individual phenomenal sense impression, ie 'rooted in' that impression. Every thought one has must occur by means of an individual physical event in one's brain, and this event is in principle observable and therefore the subject of an individual phenomenal event, ie, 'rooted in' that event. Every inductive ostensible 'truth' must be apprehended by means of a series of individual phenomenal sense impressions, ie, 'rooted in' those impressions. And so forth.



    Again, these things are rooted in individualized experience - but not "subjective" experience. You were the one who pointed out this disconnect to me, and helped me clarify my own thinking on it. Now you seem to be making the same mistake.
    Okay. Make the proper substitutions of words and it goes through. You're right: "subjective" in this connection has more to do with people's attitudes.



    See above.
    I did. Substitute the changes.
    Last edited by Jim B.; 09-24-2019 at 06:38 PM.

  7. #1636
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    So to carry the analogy forward, the fact that some acts will or will not protected/enhance what I value/cherish is as much an objective reality as the fact that my body needs nourishment to eat. No one uses the latter reality to argue that our preference for particular foods is "objective." I don't see how you can therefore use that reality as an argument that morality is any more rooted in objective truths. These realities are nothing more than a context - an environment in which morality (or nourishment) plays out. But our preferences for food are subjective - based in out individual ideas, opinions, and feelings. Our moral principles are likewise rooted in our preferences for what we value/cherish and are also subjective in nature.
    It's not a given that our preferences for particular foods are entirely 'subjective', as I already mentioned. But I'll grant that they are to keep things simple. No one argues that there is a 'subjective' element to morality as there is in matters of taste. Those things are assumed. I am free to do or believe bloody well whatever I want or to eat whatever I want. I can make it my "moral principle" never to express gratitude or never to help anyone in need. I can decide to eat nothing but marshmallows and vodka between sunset and sunrise for the rest of my life. My point is that the mere fact that I am free in both areas does not mean that there are no facts of the matter. My freedom is completely neutral as to this ontological question; the latter has to be evaluated independently.

    So eating is embedded in physical and biochemical facts with real consequences. If there is an inherent "teleology" to eating and drinking, not in the sense of a designed purpose but an intrinsic evolutionary aim, such as nutrition, health, survival and well-being, then I can actually miss the mark IF my aim is to stay alive and to flourish. If I consume Sugar Pops and Vodka all day and night, this activity is embedded in a set of biochemical facts and almost certain consequences independent of my preferences and my knowledge. Likewise, IF morality has an aim, a teleology, which seems even more likely, being a human, meaning-bearing, cultural institution, there could likewise be a set of facts embedding it and constraining moral choices. This would be because of morality's apparent inherent normativity, something that purely biological activities like eating would lack.

    To use another analogy - it is an objective physical fact that pressure exerted by my legs on my bicycle pedals will cause my bike to move forward. It is a function of the physics of the bicycle and my physiology. That does not make my choice of which street to pedal down any less subjective. We select moral principles to protect/enhance the things we subjectively value/cherish. The fact that we subjectively value/cherish these things makes morality implicitly subjective - and inter-subjective in the context of a community. This is simply inescapable. I don't see how you can frame a cogent argument to refute this - and so far do not believe you have done so.
    No one's arguing that objective moral principles compel your assent. You're still a free agent regardless. You're still free to take the five dollar bill from the blind guy when no one's looking instead of the one dollar bill. Just like you're still free to ride your bike wherever you want. It has to do with the conditional. The argument is that morality sets a conditional that can be identified that has something to do with flourishing, well-being, cooperation. That would be analogous to setting the destination to your bike ride. You're still free to chose the route, based on your circumstances, etc, but the general destination, ie the set of facts embedded in the human condition, in rational sociality, is set as a general condition. That's why some moral principles, such a torturing kids for fun, are universally abhorrent and rejected, and others are universally embraced. The universality does not make them true but reflects or indicates their plausible underlying truth.

  8. Amen Adrift amen'd this post.
  9. #1637
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean - rules of behavior.
    Obviously, it means behavior governed by the rules of the community. Evolutionary biologists tell us that even the most primitive communities, exercised rules of behavior long before they were attributed to divine revelation. These include subspecies of archaic humans such as Neanderthal Man and Homo Erectus. So, what’s this “objective moral reality” that you postulate underlying their and our behavior other than the evolved need for the necessary behavior to survive as cooperative intelligent social animals.

    Like when our primate cousins steal and rape females, steal each others food and kill their own kind?
    Human society does not generally consider such behavior to be acceptable, despite the antics of Donald Trump. And even among our primate cousins such behavior is instinctively governed by rules.
    “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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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    That, of course, depends on one's definition of "human" and "sub-human." We've already seen that language is malleable and some people are perfectly comfortable changing the common definitions of words if they don't like them (see discussion on "supernatural") and will justify that change until the cows come home. So - no surprise here.
    Really Carp, so you hold out the possibly that Jews are sub-human? And don't talk to me about changing definitions - pot and kettle thing...



    I don't recall saying "honesty is a requirement for making a moral argument." Indeed, people will make moral arguments on the basis of logic, feelings, or anything else they think is "the right way to do it." You make moral arguments on the basis of what is written in a collection of ancient books you have decided are "the word of god." Whatever basis people choose for making their moral arguments is the basis they will choose. Arguing with them about their moral positions either requires that you adopt their approach, or convince them to change their approach. If neither is possible, we are left with ignore, isolate/separate, or contend.

    Frankly, it took a bit for me to realize that I was basically pounding my head against a wall with moral arguments when discussing things like same-sex intimacy with you and Sparko and others. I was basically not taking the time to appreciate the basis you folks use, and the limits that places on arguments that have the potential to work in swaying your positions. As soon as I "woke up" and realized the inherent futility of the approach I was trying to take, you will notice that I largely stopped discussing those moral principles with folks here. The discussions are pretty much doomed to failure. I have almost no chance of swaying anyone here to accept same-sex intimacy as moral (or at least morally neutral).
    And if honestly is relative then there really is no rational way to judge another's arguments. Dishonest arguments are no better or worse than honest arguments since honestly itself is a relative consideration. I mean you speak of using logic to help make moral arguments, but how does that work if honesty is not a requirement? As far as the gay thing I'm not sure what your complaint is - you like pizza I like steak.
    Last edited by seer; 09-25-2019 at 05:39 AM.
    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...

  11. #1639
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Really Carp, so you hold out the possibly that Jews are sub-human?
    No - I'm holding out the possibility that some people will define the terms that way - so it may or may not have anything to do with honesty.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    And don't talk to me about changing definitions - pot and kettle thing...
    I'd be fascinated to know which definitions, when anyone has shown me that my definition is off, I have insisted on using in my own particular way. My memory is that I either adjust my definition when someone shows me it is off, or suggest we need another word for what I am talking about since the common word does not seem to apply.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    And if honestly is relative then there really is no rational way to judge another's arguments.
    Honesty is not relative. Honesty is defined as "the quality of being honest." Honest is defined as "free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere." Someone is either being honest or not, and that is objectively true or not. What is subjective/relative is whether or not "being honest" will be seen as a moral good.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Dishonest arguments are no better or worse than honest arguments since honestly itself is a relative consideration. I mean you speak of using logic to help make moral arguments, but how does that work if honesty is not a requirement? As far as the gay thing I'm not sure what your complaint is - you like pizza I like steak.
    Again - there is no objective frame of reference for subjective positions. Your complaint here is yet another way of saying, "moral subjectivity is bad because it's not moral objectivity." Your opinion is noted, but that's still not an argument. A not being B is not an argument for A being bad because it's not B.
    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

  12. #1640
    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    And all of these points are merely assertions and do not stand in a relationship to one another that one could call an argument, which I assume you wouldn't disagree with :)
    Of course not. I think I've been pretty clear that I know of now way to rationally prove a subjective reality, so there is no formal argument for subjective morality that I am aware of. You asked me about my reasons for holding my position - and I gave them to you. The last one is the "nail in the coffin" for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Also, fun fact, all four points map exactly onto all of my analogical arguments.
    You'll have to flesh that out. I'm not seeing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    I suggest that it gets repetitious when you don't have any further justification for your position beyond the standard slogans you've already given. When asked to delve deeper and justify why you think that the slogans are true, you simply repeat the slogans in the same or slightly different wording.
    I have no way of "delving deeper" in a subjective position. It's subjective. I can merely report what I see, experience, and conclude. And then I can look at the arguments you put forward and see if they have any merit. So far, no.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Maybe I wasn't clear. I never said that morality is limited to one's life and survival. I'm saying that it's the most urgent interest that nearly everyone has and yet it isn't a moral consideration at all. I used it as a counter-example to your point that whatever one values/cherishes the most will be of the greatest moral consideration.
    It's not a very good counter. I didn't say that "life" or "survival" occupy any necessary position on the spectrum of what we value/cherish. While it is true that there is a strong tendency for "life" and "survival" to be on the high end of what we value/cherish, but there are some things that some people value more and sometimes they value these things significantly less. It is subjective - and varies. So a counter focusing on these two specific things pretty much ignores that reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    Sorry, but I respectfully disagree. I don't think you successfully answered any of them, including the fallibility, disagreement, or plausibility arguments, or Cuneo's "Normative Web" argument, or the normative background argument, to name but a few. And the nature of morality is more complex than you represent it as being.
    Yes, I know you have that position. You've been clear about your opinion on these matters. Unfortunately, I also respectfully disagree. I feel my responses have gone to the heart of the matter, and your rejection of those responses has simply ignored their merit. I don't see how we're likely to resolve this. I suspect we'll just have to agree to disagree. You apparently want to declare a win, so if you feel a need to do so, by all means do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    There's a difference between a consensus, if not unanimity indicating a probable underlying truth and a consensus constituting a truth. The former is what I'm referring to. The latter is what you're accusing me of.
    Again, Jim, I don't see a consensus as indicating a probable truth if the consensus is based on a demonstrably false premise or premises. The lack of any argument from the "moral realist" side of the equation that does NOT reduce to "subjective morality is bad because it's not objective" is the fatal flaw in the arguments put forward. I am aware you do not think they reduce to this, but you have not put forward a cogent argument for how they do NOT reduce to this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    You said you could be wrong in light of reason and rationality.
    I choose to reason from what I value/cherish to the moral principles I hold, and have come to believe it is a good (the best?) approach for developing a consistent moral framework. Therefore, there are two ways to get me to change a moral position:

    1) influence me to change what I value.cherish
    2) demonstrate an error in my reasoning process from what I value/cherish to the moral principle I hold.

    The latter could be considered a form of "moral error" on my part since it is an inconsistency between a moral position I hold and a moral position I WOULD hold if I had properly reasoned from the facts to the moral position.
    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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