"Thus, a subjective morality is strongly preferable to an objective one! That’s because, by definition, it is about what we humans want. Would we prefer to be told by some third party what we should do, even if it is directly contrary to our own deeply held sense of morality?
Given that an objective morality would be highly undesirable, why do so many philosophers and others continue to try hard to rescue an objective morality?
I suspect that they’re actually trying to attain objective backing for what is merely their own subjective opinion of what is moral. This is the trick the religious have long played, inventing a god in their own image who can back them up by turning “I want …” into “God wants …”."
Interesting, and he goes on...
"Secular philosophers should not play this game by hankering after objective morality, we should have confidence in the simple and honest “I want …”. We humans have a lot to be proud of: by thinking it through and arguing amongst ourselves, we have advanced morality hugely, with Western society today giving vastly better treatment to individuals, to women, children, religious minorities, foreigners, those of other races, the disabled and mentally ill, criminals, etc, than any previous society.
So why are we all so afraid of admitting that, yes, morality is subjective? I suggest that this owes to several misconceptions."
Amen to that...
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Sounds good to me.
Now I will wait for somebody to come along and tell you your FOS :) lol
I have no idea what objective morality is. I have never been provided with an example of an objective moral principle or statement. I have never been given an example of a moral statement or action by a believer that a nonbeliever could not say or do. At least on this forum and one other anyway!
Right, that is my position as well. They scream they exist; yet are unwilling to produce them. You know; kind of like ghosts, bigfoots (or bigfeet?), mermaids, unicorns, or Kumari Kandam.
Correct Sheldon. Your article was spot on BTW! But, alas, the debate will never go away.
Way I see it, the "objective" morality debate will never go away due to theist's god of the gaps problem. Theist have little if anything to hold onto or point to anymore that points to their particular god being real, so they latched onto the objective morality "idea" and won't let go because little to no other life rafts are available to them. Even if this current (life raft) is one is full of holes and does not really "float" itself, stretching this bad analogy even further..
Concur Sheldon. The objective argument fails so often on these pages alone. Thanks for your post.
I see these as 6 reasons why morality doesn't exist, period.
1. Our morality is evolved.. Then there is no reason to suppose or pretend our moral sense and intuitions are anymore useful and functional than our evolved appendix.
2. Humans are only one species. I agree objective morality must be external, which is why if it isn't, then it doesn't exist. Although I disagree that morality is exclusively about humans. Things like bestiality and poaching are frowned upon. I'm also tempted to believe that if animals had a similar ability to process information, they would agree with many of our moral principles.
3. Starting from “well being” is subjective. Agreed, and if you're not willing to say well being is objectively good, then you can't complain if someone says well being should be avoided.
4. No-one has any idea what “objective” morality even means. Of course people know what it means. Objective morality is concerned with the truthfulness of a prescriptive behavioral propositions: is it true that killing is wrong? Or is as arbitrary as dining etiquette.
"I see these as 6 reasons why morality doesn't exist, period."
1) Morality is a word humans created to describe standards of behaviour that are right or wrong, so it quite demonstrably exists as a concept.
2) ("I agree objective morality must be external, which is why if it isn't, then it doesn't exist") Wrong on both counts. I shall present the same evidence to rebutt that you presented in support.
"Although I disagree that morality is exclusively about humans. "
Me too, who claimed that? Human morality is exclusively human
" Things like bestiality and poaching are frowned upon."
Indeed, and for good objective reasons, no supernatural mumbo jumbo is needed.
"I'm also tempted to believe that if animals had a similar ability to process information, they would agree with many of our moral principles."
Indeed the ones that have evolved brains almost as large as the ones we have evolved have quite complex morals themselves, hardly a coincidence.
3) " you can't complain if someone says well being should be avoided."
As long as they apply it to themselves, and leave everyone else alone I shan't complain. If it's an entirely subjective concept then why do most people try to live long happy lives?
4) "Objective morality is concerned with the truthfulness of a prescriptive behavioral propositions:"
That sounds like a subjective opinion to me.
" is it true that killing is wrong?"
Not always in my opinion, your deity in the bible and the one in the Koran think it's to be enthusiastically encouraged and commit murder themselves almost as a matter of routine, so you can't have it both ways?
"Or is as arbitrary as dining etiquette."
Well the bible claims your deity killed every man woman and child on the planet bar one family, and tortured a newborn baby to death over 7 days just because the parents weren't married, so I'm not sure I see where you're going.
Saying morality exists as a concept is no more useful than saying unicorns exist as a concept. Also I'm not sure what you're arguing for with this line:
"If it's an entirely subjective concept then why do most people try to live long happy lives?"
It's a useful concept, like money and credit, and human rights, none of those are real either, but they exist as concepts, and are no less useful for that. Your vapid claim that morals don't exist unless we delude ourselves an angry deity is insisting on them is at odds with that idea. Or perhaps you think not killing, raping, stealing and lying is of no use to us unless heaven and hell are real? If so I disagree, as of course would anyone who has ever been robbed or raped, or had someone they care for murdered, and I find it absurd to suggest they need a belief in any deity to appreciate the point.
"I'm not sure what you're arguing for with this line:"
Then I can't help you, it's self evidently a response to the line I quoted, and farther explanation is therefore redundant.
Further explanation is considered informative not redundant.
If not murdering is a useful concept like money, then treat it as such. If someone prefers exchanging goods instead of currency, so be it. Let each decide for themselves if murder is wrong, and don't hinder their decision with your own, saying they can kill themselves just not others.
"Let each decide for themselves if murder is wrong, and don't hinder their decision with your own, saying they can kill themselves just not others."
Then they'd not be deciding for THEMSELVES would they, that's not the definition of murder.
Do you not think murder is wrong then? Your bible suggests it is not, given how often your deity murders indiscriminately. Do you think your deity was wrong to torture a newborn baby to death? If so why particularly? If not can you explain your incongruous aversion to the termination of an insentient balstocyst?
Jumping in here with my 2 cents: I too believe morality does not exist, except as a concept in people's minds. And since we do not share minds, morality is a bit different for everyone. You could organize into groups that has similar morality views, but it is definitely in the eye of the beholder type deal.
Which is why there is so much discussion and angst on it. Everyone wants there to be a universal morality, (and that to be their version of it!) it's easier and we get to know the "rules" but since morality is only an individual concept not beholden to any rules except what each person decides for themselves, there is a lot of disagreement.
Evolution has instilled a very crude sense of shared morality in effort of cooperation to allow for humans to work together for survival. But we are not just "surviving anymore" and nature's very crude "morality" code is of little use to us. Now our sense of morality is mostly a weird amalgamation of what our parents tell us, our peers, and increasingly what media tells us with the powerful local religious influence of morality steadily waning in influence.
Universal morality does not exist, a person's own views of morality as a concept does exist, but as a concept, and only exist in each person's head and is subject to the whims of the person which can change daily, or even influence of psychosis.
I always enjoy exploring evolutionary explanations, so long as people realize they're empty vessels.
Because what you said does make one wonder why we have a moral sense at all. We shouldn't need to be conscious of morality to get the same results. We could have simply evolved to cooperate together for survival as an unconscious behavior. We don't need to be conscious of every breath we take, and yet we need to breath to survive.
So why would evolution make us aware of morality, and make it a subjective option, a preference, as opposed to making cooperation a mandatory instinct, the way sex is an instinct.
You say sex is an instinct, but that also points that nature/instinct is far from perfect. Humans and animals alike have an instinct for sex, as reproduction is a key component in the cycle of life, but there are many many examples in both humans and animals alike that we evolved from where that instinct for sex goes awry, humans are not the only animal that "stick it up the butt" plenty of animals and humans also inexplicably from birth simply decide not to engage in sex of any form.
This same sort of vagueness in our instinct probably applies doubly so to any instinctual behavior to work together and cooperate for survival. And especially in humans case, no longer even needed for survival.
@John 61X Breezy So why would evolution make us aware of morality
I don't think it did. Evolution has made many animals cooperative: bees, ants, packs of dogs, flying geese... But in addition to making us cooperative, it also made us self-aware. We can think about ourselves and what we did, and we compare our behavior with the behavior of others. I think that's why we have a sense of morality and immorality.
We shouldn't have eaten that damned apple.
Ok yes, I was thinking about that too.
I think with examples like cooperation, its very easy to treat morality as an epiphenomenon of our innate biological drives. We cooperate naturally, we can see why cooperation works secondly, and then deduce that cooperation is morally correct, as an afterthought.
But that falls apart when morality goes against the natural, and against the advantageous. Ducks are infamous rapists. So if ducks ever gained our level of consciousness, would they evolve to think rape is morally correct? Or is rape wrong as an objective fact of reality?
I think viewing morality as a byproduct, or epiphenomenon of evolution, can only take you so far.
Ducks raping other ducks may actually be advantageous to the species of ducks that it occurs. Perhaps a male duck raping another male duck that scenario definitely does not seem advantageous. But ducks while much smarter than we think, ducks getting confused but still breeding more often then when the breeding is purely consensual.
Wait how did I end up talking about ducks raping ducks, I feel like I got cleverly tricked ;) Perhaps a different example should be used, hah!
For it to be objective, would require a function (think rule) that can map the inputs (details of a situation) to a conclusion of either "right" or "wrong" (and maybe some others, who knows). That way anyone given a situation can calculate whether or not it is right or wrong. Without this, different people given the same situation will come to different conclusions; and we won't be able to check to see who made the mistake in applying the rules.
It is quite easy to claim that morality is objective. What is hard is to actually provide this function. I've seen a few people try (Sam Harris was one) and the results are comical, imo. But this is exactly what needs to be done to convince most of us. We want to see it in practice, and are not willing to accept someone's word on the matter.
Let's assume for the moment that there exists an objective morality. Well that is great but until it is laid out as above we can't use it. So interestingly; even if there is an objective morality out there; the morality we use can't be objective until we are informed of the details of this objective morality that does exist. That is why many of us have been asking for the details.
*** I wrote/posted this yesterday on Chimp3's "Nuremberg Trials" thread. Copied and pasted it here because it seemed an appropriate place for it. Please keep that in mind, because there are a couple of references to Chimp's OP in it. *****
In a nutshell, my priorities in regards to the OP and "morality" are as such:
In order of priority, I first and foremost answer to myself and my own conscious. Secondly, I answer to my wife. And lastly, I answer to the law. (Before my wife ever came along, there were only the two options of myself and the law.)
I spent a great deal of time in the military under an extremely wide variety of conditions ranging from routine training, to combat zone deployments, to domestic emergency disaster-relief missions. (Rescue ops in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina are particularly memorable. "chuckle*) Anyway, just like Chimp said in the OP, following orders does not necessarily absolve a soldier of guilt. In fact, we were told regularly during various briefings over the years that following unlawful orders is strictly wrong, and there were specific protocols given to us to deal with such matters. Thankfully, I never had to put that to the test. However, it WAS something I often considered just in case I ever did have the misfortune of encountering such a situation. (Basically, mental preparation, in other words. A useful exercise I was taught in another field of work.) And what it boils down to are those priorities I listed above, meaning my own conscious and sense of personal integrity trump anything and anybody else when it comes to making a moral decision. People are not robots who act exactly the same way every single time in any given situation. A situation in one incident cannot always be handled exactly the same way as the same situation in another incident with different people in a different area. Life is NOT static. It is DYNAMIC. Fluid. Constantly changing. What may be morally right to do in one situation with Person A. may be completely morally wrong to do with Person B. in the same situation. Bottom line is, IT MAKES ABSOLUTELY ZERO SENSE TO PRETEND THERE IS SOME TYPE OF ABSOLUTE TOTALLY OBJECTIVE MORAL CODE THAT CAN BE APPLIED TO EVERY SINGLE IMAGINABLE SITUATION MANKIND ENCOUNTERS IN HIS LIFETIME. Man is an intelligent creature. Man is a highly adaptable creature. Man learns by trial and error. Man does great things. Man does very foolish things. Man is not perfect, and it would be completely boring even if he was. But overall, man is self-conscious. Man is self-aware. And, with the exceptions of those with various forms of mental disorders, Man has considerable empathy for his fellow Man and other creatures of the Earth. (Not intending to leave out the ladies, by the way. Just using the term Man generally.) And because of all of these things (and a few others I may have missed), Man makes and follows his own SUBJECTIVE morality based on his culture, his education, his financial conditions, his own individual experiences, and sometimes right down to a split-second decision that has to be made during a sudden and unexpected event. In my personal opinion, anybody who believes otherwise is pretty much delusional or intentionally being dishonest with themselves and/or others.
Didn't mean to go off on a rant like that, but I've been holding back as long as I can. Finally snapped, I guess.
Now I have a general question. Does Breezy ever give candid answers to awkward questions? The evidence since I've been here suggests not.
Breezy. You have claimed murder is only objectively wrong if your deity exists. Why then according to the bible, did it commit indiscriminate murder, and encourage humans to commit murder? Is your deity a hypocrite or is it immoral by its own standards?
I think this is what breezy would call a Straw God
He'd be wrong, since the question is based on something specifically described in the bible. Do you think it was moral for god to torture a baby to death just because the parents were committing adultery?
Cite your sources. And we can look at the text together.
The bible of course, I thought i'd made that clear? Have you not read the story?
2 Samuel 12
12.14 Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
12.15 The LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
12.16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.
12:18 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died.****
12:22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?
Weird I don’t see torture anywhere in the text. It merely said that God allowed this child to be sick.
Reading the text, it seems pretty clear that this was a direct effect of David’s disobedience to the commandment of God. Verse 9 is where you see his sin.
Kinda like how we do something stupid then blame other people for the effects of our faults. God merely allowed David to experience fully the effects of his actions.
What of the child? The child had no fault. Why did the child then suffer? Just like a man who’s run over by a drunk driver, the man would be innocent. But it’s purely the fault of the drunk driver but it’s the man who gets injured or dies. This passage actually shows how our actions can have an impact on other people whether we like it or not.
12.15 The LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was ****very sick.****
That strike you as a pleasant experience for a newborn baby, bearing in mind it died at the end?
"t seems pretty clear that this was a direct effect of David’s disobedience"
So you do think it was moral to torture a newborn baby to death? Wow...
"Kinda like how we do something stupid then blame other people for the effects of our faults."
You mean like torturing a baby to death then claiming it's not your fault because someone else made you mad?
" God merely allowed David to experience fully the effects of his actions."
and a newborn baby of course, by torturing it to death. What baffles me here,, well one of the things that baffles me, is how the credulous can get so hysterical over an insentient blastocyst, but actually try to justify torturing a newborn baby to death.
"What of the child? The child had no fault. Why did the child then suffer? Just like a man who’s run over by a drunk driver, the man would be innocent. But it’s purely the fault of the drunk driver but it’s the man who gets injured or dies. "
In this analogy the baby and it's parents are the one's run over and the deity who tortures is to death is the drunk driver. Except like all desperate rationalisation theists use it's deeply flawed, since a drunk driver is a fallible evolved mammal, and we would still despise their actions, yet here we see you try and justify a deity with limitless knowledge and power choosing to torture a newborn baby to death in a fit of anger.
Would you be fine if a human did this to show it's displeasure that the parents had conceived in an adulterous affair?
"This passage actually shows how our actions can have an impact on other people whether we like it or not."
It shows the rank hypocrisy in your beliefs, so much for thou shalt not kill, and you have utterly destroyed any risible claims that your religion's "moral" diktat is in any way objective. Do you even hear yourself reasoning that torturing a baby to death is somehow ok? This is scary stuff.....
"sic em boy, sic em"
@Sheldon Re: JoC and the baby discussion
Hey, dude, I just want you to know you have a much stronger stomach than I do. You have said pretty much everything I have been wanting to say to JoC (Well, maybe not EVERYTHING. But you are more polite than I tend to be most of the time.) concerning this topic. However, after reading some of the excuses he has been making in trying to defend such an obviously heinous act, it is difficult for me to form a reply to it without getting nauseous. Just wanted to let you know that real quick so that you do not think you are alone on this thread and this particular topic. Keep up the good work.