Objective morality?

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Clabarky's picture
Objective morality?

The fundamental nature of reality seems to be information, specifically mathematical as expressed by the laws of physics and geometry.
Given that physical reality can be expressed as abstract, mathematical formulas from an objective context, is it possible that existential reality can be expressed as mathematical formulas and algorithims from the subjective perspective of the human condition and the attributes that define it? Values like ethics, ideals, identity that operate from subjective motivations, manifest in our behaviors and produce predictable, physical and observable effects on ourselves, others and the environment that can be observed and studied to inform our behavior so we can conduct ourselves with wisdom and contribute to a better quality of life for all sentient beings both as individuals and collectively?

Even our most subjective relationships with reality have predictable correlations with our neurological activity, with subsequently continues to manifest in observable, predictable ways throughout the entire spectrum of physical and social sciences.

So, those features of human experience we project onto our perception of reality and express as existential truths like love, justice, humanity, beauty, that define the human condition, can all be reduced to mathematical algorithims that express the providential nature of reality from the perspective of the human condition. Providing us with an objective, fundamental philosophy for negotiating reality and clearly defining a theoretical state of perfection to aspire towards for achieving perfect peace and harmony.

Karma, as the hindus and buddhists call it, or the holy spirit for the abrahamic religions,as primitive attempts to signpost the causality of our intentions and its physical ramifications for our quality of life and our progress towards a better tomorrow for future generations as we grow beyond our ignorance and become wiser as our insight into our own human natures and its interdependant relationship with the nature of reality deepens.

Or, to coin another religious concept, as we achieve enlightenment or save ourselves from the proverbial damnation of hell through our own ignorance and progress towards the heavenly rewards of wisdom.

The conceptual interface or medium of communication may be outdated, but the essential truth remains as we aspire towards perfect understanding.



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Cognostic's picture
@Noel: "Objective Morality?"

@Noel: "Objective Morality?" Okay, give an example.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Noel - ...love, justice,

Noel - ...love, justice, humanity, beauty... can all be reduced to mathematical [algorithms]...Providing us with an objective, fundamental philosophy for negotiating reality...

That sounds difficult to say the least.

Cognostic's picture
@Noel: Morality can only be

@Noel: Morality can only be objective within a defined context. Or... I have never witnessed an act of morality outside of a given context and I have witnessed many acts I would consider amoral within contexts that are not my own. I don't know how to see moral behavior outside of a context.

LogicFTW's picture
@OP by Noel

@OP by Noel

Math is actually a language. A bit like english, latin, french, chinese, etc. A language used to describe the world around us.

However math as a language is built around precision, which is in large part what makes it highly useful. Just like in english we can describe the world around us, we can also use math. Math through its focus on precision just demands more detail to remain precise and has built in "checks" that help keeps the language of math precise.

I think the closest we humans can get to perfect understanding is to realize we can't know and understand everything (not even close!) Not even as a collective human race with tools we created to help us.

You may be able to reduce just about everything to math, but beyond the precision math requires, it is not much different then reducing everything to any other language.

We can aspire towards perfect understanding, but I think it is important to "understand" we will never even come close to achieving it.

Don't get me wrong, I think math is a far far better endeavor towards truth then the various religion ideas, and yes these religious "truths" are badly outdated.

I agree out with the old, in with the new, and better ways of understanding.


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Grinseed's picture
Or we can just keep on trying

Or we can just keep on trying to honestly "do unto others as we would have them do unto us" and fuck the high brow maths and vain attempts to be perfect? You know, live like decent homo sapiens sapiens.

Cognostic's picture
@Grinseed: But what if I am

@Grinseed: But what if I am a masochist? Might it be better stated, "Treat people the way they want to be treated?" What if I am gay and attracted to Noel? Now he has to treat me the way I want to be treated? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ,,,, "Come over here Big Boy!/" Just saying, this whole idea of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." certainly has its faults.

As an OBJECTIVE means to morality it certainly FAILS!

So I ask the question again of the OP. Give me an example of Objective Morality?

chimp3's picture
I am partial to the argument

I am partial to the argument that we can objectify morality when we use human well being as a standard. Matt Dillihunty and Sam Harris have made arguments for this extensively.

Sheldon's picture
chimp3 "I am partial to the

chimp3 "I am partial to the argument that we can objectify morality when we use human well being as a standard. Matt Dillihunty and Sam Harris have made arguments for this extensively."

I agree with them, the decision to base our morality on human well being (or anything else), is of course a subjective one, but once we make that decision we can make objective moral judgements about what actions and behaviours best serve that moral outlook. And of course science as the best method of objectively informing our understanding of reality can contribute to this in a positive way. As opposed to blindly following archaic religious text, which isn't really moral at all.

Cognostic's picture
@chimp3: Objective measures

@chimp3: Objective measures of "Well Being" is what science is using. Once well being is agreed upon, there are better and worse, good and bad, ways of achieving it. (Well being of the individual, of the specific culture, of humanity?" We still need a specific context IMO.

What is necessary for the Well Being of Chimp 3 being housed here at the Atheist Republic? Quite obviously we can come up with objective acts that will be necessary for the well being of Chimp 3 here at AR. These are not the same as "Well Being" for Chimp 3 in the Jungle. Still, in both cases "Well Being" can be clearly defined within a context of morality. Harris and Matt generally discuss "Human" well being and IMO tend to be ethnocentric when discussing cultures that are not their own. Nevertheless, once the context is defined, "Well Being," appears to be the best measure of morality we've got going. AGREED!

chimp3's picture
Thanks Cognistic. This

Thanks Cognistic. This subject was one of my original threads but I was duly blown out of the water. I still stand by it. Of course, the definition of well being is subjective but once agreed upon we have grounds to measure and quantify.

Cognostic's picture


Calilasseia's picture
Indeed, one point that I make

Indeed, one point that I make whenever this question crops up, is that ethics is an axiomatic discipline when viewed rigorously. The subjectivity lies in the choice of axioms upon which to build an ethical system.

"Human well being" is simply one of those axioms one can choose. Or, more rigorously, the elimination of harm and the dispensation of benefit. Of course, this axiom happens to have much to recommend it, particularly when observational data is collected on the differing outcomes arising from choosing this or an alternative axiom, but we are not yet in the position of being able to declare that this choice is the best choice, not least because no precisely defined metric yet exists upon which to base the requisite evaluation, and because we have not yet determined if there exist other alternatives that might prove to have even more to recommend them.

A case can be made for suggesting that this axiom is the current best working choice, but even an elementary foray into the world of ethics quickly demonstrates, that comparison of ethical axioms is a minefield even for the well-prepared.

Cognostic's picture
@Calilasseia: "not least

@Calilasseia: "not least because no precisely defined metric yet exists upon which to base the requisite evaluation," Agreed!

I don't know that there can be a metric independent of specific situational concerns. Given any situation there are right and wrong ways to act; however, when it comes to the moral dilemmas (5 people in a life boat..... enough food and water for three.) Probably not the best but it is what I thought of. We are still in a moral quandary. What we are not doing is relying on archaic biblical or theological texts that are not applicable to life as we know it. What would the 5 people do if all they had to eat was canned shrimp? Well, hell, they can't eat that, god told them not to. Over the side it goes.

In short - any empirical metric would necessarily need alterations based on context. So if we hold to the well being, survival, of the five people in the boat, we are not going to throw the shrimp overboard based on some biblical scripture that tells us not to eat shrimp.

"A case can be made for suggesting that this axiom is the current best working choice, but even an elementary foray into the world of ethics quickly demonstrates, that comparison of ethical axioms is a minefield even for the well-prepared." AND VERY WELL STATED SIR.

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