Is there any Objective Morality?
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"But pointing out that some think murder is okay and some don't, doesn't prove subjective morality in the context of this philosophical question. "
I think it hits the nail right on the head. I offered proof that different cultures/tribes/religions can arrive at different moral beliefs. Therefore there is no one "this is right and this is wrong" for all of humanity.
Damnit! Where is that 10k Agree button? Sorry David. I did at least give the 1.
Is this dress white and gold, or blue and black?
According to your statement, murder isn’t wrong. So how then, can you say the great flood is wrong and use it as a reason to object to a belief of God?
"Fri, 01/18/2019 - 13:53 (Reply to #33)
HumbleThinker "According to your statement, murder isn’t wrong. So how then, can you say the great flood is wrong and use it as a reason to object to a belief of God?"
How are you defining wrong? Is there any context in which you think a global genocidal flood is wrong, and if so why do you think this?
Not once did David say that murder isn't wrong. Hes saying that morality is subjective based on the community and culture. By the way, the sentinelese killed that guy in defense. That island is prohibited to visit by Indian Law in part, for this very reason. To prevent death. He virtually committed suicide.
We can definitely say that the great flood was wrong, because it was apparently done out of anger and jealousy. That is a lot less reasonable than defending yourself.
That isn't what objective means in the context.
Objective means that it isn't open to human interpretation/judgement. And as you pointed out, people do come to different moral judgements; it is subjective, not objective.
Exactly. I don’t believe what is “right” and “wrong” are open to interpretation. Therefore it is objective.
@HumbleThinker: I don’t believe what is “right” and “wrong” are open to interpretation. Therefore it is objective.
Is slavery objectively right or objectively wrong today? How about in the 18th century? How about in Jesus' time, or on the day when god chiselled the 10 Commandments for Moses?
You already told us:
The proper length of a board is objective; because observers will agree on this length, because this length is independent of the observer.
Morality (what is right and wrong) is subjective; because typically observers will disagree about it, what is right and wrong is dependent on the observer.
For example, the bible says thou shall not kill. If a soldier kills another solider, does that violate this verse? It isn't so clear. You hear all kinds of opinions from Christians about that. So even if this morality started off objective, because of the way it is recorded, it's doomed to be subjective.
Fri, 01/18/2019 - 13:55
HumbleThinker "Exactly. I don’t believe what is “right” and “wrong” are open to interpretation. Therefore it is objective."
You realise that is your subjective opinion don't you?
Just human interpretation? I'd have thought their difficulties don't end there. Is their deity bound by this objective morality? If not then morality is subjective as far as their deity is concerned. This creates more problems 1) if as they keep claiming morality can't exist unless it is objective how can it exist if a deity can make subjective moral choices? 2) If a deity can set ambiguous and contradictory rules in the the bible, that are open to interpretation, and that it can break at will, how do they know what is and is not objectively moral, even if they could evidence it exists?
AJ777;s concept of objective morality has him so confused he won't say why he thinks it is immoral to torture children, what kind of moral code is that tenuous, and what does it say about religious and theistic morality?
To quote Voltaire:
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
We all know that the voices in his head convinced Abraham to murder and eviscerate his own child as a human sacrifice, and that this is held up as an example of a good and faithful servant of "god".
One of my questions on this topic has always been: "If we can never truly discern whether or not there is objective morality... what changes?" Are we going to suddenly alter our behavior and no longer debate/discuss/weigh the best courses of action for each new moral problem that arises? Do we honestly think there is going to be a "go-to" source to answer every last moral question we could ever have? Isn't it up to us to build that source? Hasn't it always been?
Very interesting question,AM. Thank you. My only question in return is do you think it is easier to decide what authority is correct and simply listen to it, or to decide what is moral for ourselves. The latter actually seems more difficult a task. We don’t seem very good at it tbh.
"My only question in return is do you think it is easier to decide what authority is correct and simply listen to it, or to decide what is moral for ourselves. The latter actually seems more difficult a task. We don’t seem very good at it tbh."
Free will? Maybe your god doesn't really allow mankind free will.
But that is not the main point of my argument. The history of mankind is one of changing moral values, and even some big mistakes. Most of those mistakes came from listening to religious leaders. But I certainly do not bend my knee to this type of imaginary authority, especially since the bible is rife with what is currently considered poor morality. Compared to the gross cruelty from the bible, man's stumbling efforts make us look a heck of a lot better.
If we followed the dictates from the bible, this world would be a much worse and more cruel place.
"do you think it is easier to decide what authority is correct and simply listen to it, or to decide what is moral for ourselves. "
Obviously the latter, but if you think blindly obeying orders is an example of morality then you may want to study ideologies like Nazis, and totalitarian systems in general.
"We don’t seem very good at it tbh."
I don't agree, and since you offer no evidence for your claim I'll simply dismiss it in the same fashion.
HumbleThinker - in response to your question: "Do you think it is easier to decide what authority is correct and simply listen to it, or to decide what is moral for ourselves."
I believe we are all, collectively, the authority. Having a single person/authority dictate your morality to you is dictatorship - which has, historically, most often ended in the populace under such rule being unhappy, and giving the dictator, or ruling body too much power with the very likely result being more and more abuses of said power. We also can't let people just run around deciding what they can and can't do for themselves, which is basically what "crime" is all about. And so, we discuss/debate, and based on our investigations and conversations together, we decide on rules and regulations for our societies to live by. We come together, form a consensus of opinion, and we execute what we hope is a "best case" model of morality that best supports the variety of individuals we have living within our societies. It is what many modern, successful cultures have been doing for quite some time.
The last time I knew objective truths was when I was four. Until then, objective truths were everything that my mother and father told me. Everything in the world made sense, including Santa Claus, Jack Frost, and the Tooth Fairy.
After I started going to school I learned that other kids' parents were telling them different objective truths.
Eventually I learned critical thinking and discovered that truth was built on evidence and logic.
I grew up. But I guess some people will always be four-year-olds. And they will react like four-year-olds if anyone challenges the "objective truths" they think they got from sky-daddy.
Random thought on this.
Propose there was a tree in the middle of the forest with yellow leaves. It was cut down years ago. I tell you about it but you don’t believe it. I say “it’s true, I saw it once. Plus my father told me he saw it once”. You say, “the only way I’ll believe is if you bring me a leaf from the tree. No even better; I need to see it for myself”.
What am I to do? I may be lucky enough to find historical documents of someone who recorded seeing it. I may use genetics to demonstrate how it could be possible that it evolved to have yellow leaves. I may try to show how it would be better to just assume I’m telling the truth considering both outcomes of believing vs not believing. None of this is sufficient to convince you, yet the tree no longer stands, so I am not able to do as you command.
Where does that leave us?
And here’s the kicker. In reality, the tree did exist.
Propose there was a tree in the middle of the forest with yellow leaves.
Paleobotanists have identified many extinct tree species from fossils and other evidence. They publish their findings, which are then open to scrutiny and challenge by other experts. That kind of evidence I could accept. The range of scientific knowledge is too vast for any person to check it all independently, but I am confident in the robustness of the process.
Now if you told me that your yellow-leaf tree was created by an invisible sky-fairy and once grew in the Garden of Eden, and that you know this to be true because persons unknown wrote about it 3,000 years ago based on an oral tradition, I'd think you were deluded.
If you're talking about a real tree in the real world, I would need to weigh up the reliability of the witnesses and the probability of such a tree existing. My conclusion would always be subjective.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In the case of a tree with yellow leaves, that is not an extraordinary claim. There are very valid reasons why a tree may have yellow leaves, from chlorosis to leaf disease to too much or not enough water.
The god claim is as extraordinary as it can be, an invisible and undetectable entity that was never created , brought this universe and everything associated with it into existence.
Ever hear of the Schrödinger Equation? IMO your argument is borrowed from that.
"Propose there was a tree in the middle of the forest with yellow leaves. It was cut down years ago. I tell you about it but you don’t believe it. I say “it’s true, I saw it once. Plus my father told me he saw it once”. You say, “the only way I’ll believe is if you bring me a leaf from the tree. No even better; I need to see it for myself”."
That is not a very good hypothetical because billions of people know that some trees will have yellow leaves at some time of the year depending on where they live.
A better hypothetical would have been that you saw a tree in the forest that had leaves made out of diamonds. That puts the tree on the level of Gods because we know that such a tree could never exist in our world. It would be imaginary, just like Gods, demons, devils, angels, ghosts, spirits, heaven, hell, paradise, and eternal life is.
HumbleThinker - regarding your analogy: "Propose there was a tree in the middle of the forest with yellow leaves."
You need to be careful - because analogies like this can backfire on you. For example, I would say that your assertion that there was a tree with yellow leaves does not, in any way, affect my life and livelihood. It makes no difference if there was such a tree, and there is no need to obtain knowledge that there was such a tree. What would said knowledge help me accomplish? And I feel the same can be said of claims of God's existence. Of what use is such knowledge if He doesn't present Himself? If He doesn't have a known effect on our reality? Even if He exists, the world presents itself as if He does not. And from what I have seen in those that DO claim to possess the knowledge of God - it does them no real good. They have no edge over me. There is nothing they can do that I cannot. The knowledge of God is ineffectual. Just as knowledge of the tree you might tell me of does nothing for me. There is simply no reason to believe. In the case of the tree, there may also be no reason to disbelieve, because the claim is so trivial.
In the case of God, there are many reasons to disbelieve. Evidence that contradicts a great many stories of God's exploits for one, as well as the implausibility of the oft-presented models of God, and better explanations that exist in nature for the vast majority of things attributed to God's "powers of creation."
Aron Ra once said, “If you require the illusion of objective morality as defined by an obsolete and irrelevant Bronze and Iron Age text in order to determine the difference between good and evil, then it is perhaps best you continue believing that delusion so as to keep you from harming the rest of humanity, and perhaps yourself.”
Aron Ra's Greatest and Bestest Rant Ever
Beneath the surface, the main concern is not whether human morality is objective or not, it's the problematic trail of reasoning that opens up when you concede that it is.
It is now no longer an issue of truth or the well being of humanity, and all of one's time and energy must be devoted to the careful protection of a worldview nestled in a predetermined belief that morality is a subjective reality, nowadays purported to be the byproduct of evolutionary processes.
Deviating standards of morality does not preclude an objective morality. If the argument of subjective morality gets stretched to its limit, it will inevitably necessitate the denial of one's humanity. Evil is no longer evil, it's just all "evolution".
"If the argument of subjective morality gets stretched to its limit, it will inevitably necessitate the denial of one's humanity."
What does that even mean? Sounds like a dramatic phrase to say that means nothing at all.
I don't see how working together to determine what best serves our species is a denial of humanity. It seems an affirmation of it. We learn from our mistakes. We continue to practice compassion, examination of history, and informed reason in order to develop guidelines for our behavior. We continue to hold each other accountable. Horrendous acts that were viewed as moral (and even commanded by God) during biblical times are no longer accepted as moral.
Saying that God is the objective authority on morality has resulted in Christians having to do hermeneutical gymnastics in order to explain away awful things that God commanded.
You make it sound like evolution of morality is a bad thing. It's a great thing.
"Beneath the surface, the main concern is not whether human morality is objective or not, it's the problematic trail of reasoning that opens up when you concede that it is."
It sounds like subjective morality is the one that uses actual reason and objective morality is the one that's problematic.
Okay let’s continue to examine this with the burden of proof on you. Pretend I am an atheist asking you this.
Prove morality is NOT objective.
Showing that two societies each “beleive” different things isn’t proof of its non existence. Maybe one of them is wrong.....?
It's a great point! Now how would you show objectively which one is wrong?
In theory, you can have an objective morality if you want it; but you still have to start from fiat.
“It's a great point! Now how would you show objectively which one is wrong?”
Thank you. I don’t know. How would you?
Stone Jade, who gets to decide what best serves humanity? The majority? The government? That hasn’t worked so well so far.