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Author Topic:   Morality without God is impossible
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 65 of 306 (872787)
03-04-2020 12:15 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by GDR
02-29-2020 8:46 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
GDR writes:

I am simply saying that if there is a moral intelligence that is responsible for our existence then there can be an absolute morality, but we can't know it for a fact.

And if such an absolute morality exists - it would be meaningless anyway.

Because we would all choose to decide to accept/agree with it or not individually - as this is how human morality functions.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by GDR, posted 02-29-2020 8:46 PM GDR has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 70 by GDR, posted 03-04-2020 7:31 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 66 of 306 (872788)
03-04-2020 12:24 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Dogmafood
03-01-2020 9:53 AM


Re: A Universal Morality
Dogmafood writes:

The behaviour of any individual actor is a result of their innate sense of self preservation and every choice made attempts to serve that goal.

Not true.

All you can really say is "It is possible to explain the behaviour of any individual actor as a result of their innate sense of self preservation and therefore show that every choice made attempts to serve that goal."

But, until you can read the minds of other people - you cannot say that just because an explanation possibly exists then it therefore MUST BE the explanation that an individual used.

I can choose to eat chocolate ice-cream because I need sugar to live.
I can choose to eat chocolate ice-cream because I had an experience in my childhood linking "good times" with "chocolate ice-cream."
I can choose to eat chocolate ice-cream just to spite Dogmafood.

These are 3 viable options.
Just because you see me eating chocolate ice-cream and you know that option 1 is valid - doesn't mean I actually used option 1 to choose to eat that chocolate ice-cream in that situation.

You're begging the question.

If this is true then the morality of any action can be determined by assessing how effectively the action served the goal. This would apply universally without exception.

Unfortunately, your premise is not true - and therefore cannot be applied at all, let alone universally.

I anticipate that someone will point out that there are plenty of immoral actions that serve self preservation of the individual but in every case these are short term benefits.

Un-required to show that your premise is not true.
Only idea required to show your premise is not true is to show that alternative motivations for "choice" can also validly exist - and that you are currently unable to positively identify between them without begging the question.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by Dogmafood, posted 03-01-2020 9:53 AM Dogmafood has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 69 by Dogmafood, posted 03-04-2020 4:42 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 67 of 306 (872789)
03-04-2020 12:36 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
02-28-2020 4:20 AM


Tangle writes:

The difficulty appears to lie in the assertion by believers that we can't know what right and wrong is without there being a god to tell us. The question is why not?

It seems to me that their only reasoning is because they believe it so.

From everything I've ever seen - you're absolutely right.

All it takes to know right and wrong is the intelligence to ask the question (internally to one's self, even.)
That is the only "frame of reference" required.

Blind chance, God, the possibility of any "absolute morality" or "external morality" is all irrelevant.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tangle, posted 02-28-2020 4:20 AM Tangle has not replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 83 of 306 (872834)
03-05-2020 1:42 PM
Reply to: Message 69 by Dogmafood
03-04-2020 4:42 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Dogmafood writes:

I am referring to the most fundamental basis for making any choice or taking any action. There are a multitude of explanations that an actor might provide but they all trace back to the programmed desire for self preservation. Any choice that benefits the actor, in whatever way, attempts to serve the ultimate and fundamental goal of self preservation. We survive by making choices that benefit us. (This is probably why we evolved a brain in the first place and can make choices at all.)

And I'm telling you that this idea is wrong.

If you're right - then show me.

As soon as we have intelligence (defined here as something like the difference between "making a choice" and "acting on instinct") - then the idea you're proposing is no longer valid.

If we only act on instinct - then you're right.
But if there's a choice, no matter how insignificant (some animals, even, have "choice" on the level of this definition.)
-Then it breaks the chain.

Maybe the choice was made for self-preservation.
But maybe it wasn't.

Choices are made for many different reasons.

Your only fall-back is if you want to say that "real choice doesn't exist" and all we have is "the illusion of choice."
-If this is true, then you'd be correct again.
-But this isn't known to be true, and current research isn't at the level to indicate it's validity one way or the other

I think choice is real (for those who have the intelligence to override instincts.)
Therefore, for such people/beings, not all choices must be "traced back to the desire for self preservation." You may be able to think of a tracing that would connect the choice to self-preservation - but if that wasn't the choice used to make the decision - then all you have is "an alternate pathway" and not "the actual pathway."

My point is that if we all make decisions in the same way with the same machinery then there is a fundamentally common or universal element to our behaviour.

Easily proven false.

A 35 year old identified genius does not make decisions "in the same way with the same machinery" as a 35 year old village idiot (for lack of a better term.)

Sure - maybe they both have brains.
But not all brains are equal.
Thus - different machinery.

Sure - maybe many brains have equal potential.
But not all people have equal motivation/opportunity/experiences to use them equally.
Thus - different "ways" of making decisions.

Every religion that ever existed was an attempt to codify the behaviour that was perceived to benefit the group and even though they are all different they have the same origin. Self preservation and reproduction.

That's not true.

Some religions are created in an attempt to codify behaviour to benefit certain individuals and screw the group.
That's what cults are.

Some religions are created in an attempt to "reach higher levels" of "spirituality" and to hell with whether or not earthly-preservation or earthly-reproduction are supported or considered.

So if there is a universal code of conduct it is to live long enough to breed.

Perhaps instinctually - yes.
My point is that as soon as intelligence develops to the level where one can choose to go against instinct - to go against "living long enough to breed" - then it's no longer "a universal code of conduct."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 69 by Dogmafood, posted 03-04-2020 4:42 PM Dogmafood has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 104 by Dogmafood, posted 03-05-2020 7:51 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


(1)
Message 85 of 306 (872836)
03-05-2020 2:02 PM
Reply to: Message 70 by GDR
03-04-2020 7:31 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
GDR writes:

However, if there is an absolute morality then there is a moral source for it. If that is the case then it makes sense that we would want to understand as much about that source of morality as we can and what it means to our lives.

I'll agree with that.

What you do next, though - is assume that this absolute morality must fundamentally be a good one.
Take a look at the world around us - it's entirely plausible (and fits with all currently known facts) that the "absolute morality" for the universe we live in is that the physically stronger are better than the physically weaker.

This would be a very terrible absolute morality for (hopefully) obvious reasons, and I for one would reject it immediately and carry on with my much better morality of attempting to help others instead of hurt them when I interact with them.

One of the things that it would strongly suggest that there is an ultimate purpose to us holding to that morality.

Again, I agree.
And, in my example, the ultimate purpose would be to defeat all those weaker than you.

A horrible, and easily reject-able ultimate purpose.

See what I mean by meaningless?

Now - what if it's a good absolute morality and a very good ultimate purpose?
-Then, of course, many (all?) of us would agree with it and adapt to it.

But - look at what happened. We don't join the "absolute morality" and the "ultimate purpose" because they are absolute and ultimate.
We join them because we learn about them, judge them, and agree with them (or not.)

Which means - the words "absolute" and "ultimate" in this sense are meaningless in any terms of "should be followed" or not.
They only mean something along the lines of "comes from an external source." Which - really - so do a whole lot of ideas.

This all shows your whole idea for what it is - a strange attempt to try and persuade others to agree with you by using attractive terms like "absolute" and "ultimate." Which is, really, kind of pathetic and makes me pity you that you're in such a position that you think such methods are required.

If however, we are just a fortunate result of mindless processes then ultimately this world will come to an end and it will all have meant nothing, and so why worry about morality at all and just live in whatever manner suits us which may conform to that ultimate morality or not.

Not true either.

Even without "absolute/ultimate" (read "external") morality/purpose - we still have our own morality/purpose which is extremely important to ourselves.
If you want your importance to reach "beyond ourselves," whether in terms of internal/external or time-line, I will simply say that you're being egotistical and greedy - which are not ideas considered to be virtuous.

And I have news for you: We all already do "live in whatever manner suits us."
Some are nice people because of it.
Others are bad people.

It is your choice as to which one you want to be.
(Note: Not "which one you want to be remembered as." But simply: "which one you want to BE.")


This message is a reply to:
 Message 70 by GDR, posted 03-04-2020 7:31 PM GDR has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 94 by GDR, posted 03-05-2020 3:20 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 88 of 306 (872840)
03-05-2020 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 84 by Aussie
03-05-2020 2:00 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Aussie writes:

Parents pass all kinds of negative traits to their children all the time; how do you assume that this would not be the the case if there was some Cosmic creative intelligence responsible for our existence? How do you make the leap from "There is something out there," to "Everything about that something is moral perfection."?

Along these lines, I think of this scenario:

God is often thought of as the "ultimate Father figure."
Which would make us all children.

What is the "ultimate end-game" of a child? From a parent's perspective?
-To see that child stand up on their own, make their own decisions, to do something bigger/better/beyond the abilities of the parent - simply because that child wants to - not because that child was forced to.

Therefore, if God is the "ultimate Father figure."
And has given us "absolute morality" and "ultimate purpose."
Then what is God hoping we do?
-Use our abilities, our decisions, our own motivations to create/develop/mold our own "morality" and "purpose" that is bigger/better/beyond what God originally identified as "absolute" or "ultimate."
-If we don't do this, we will forever remain "an acceptable child." Very good - maybe we have our own jobs and support ourselves - but never really impressing or showing our parent that we can "break the mold" in an extraordinary and good way.

I don't intend this little scenario to imply I wish to defy God.
I intend this little scenario to imply how foolish it is to use words like "absolute" and "ultimate" when discussion things like morality and purpose.
All they do is persuade the easily manipulated into a cult-like environment. They're just silly. There's nothing helpful or good about them, in this context.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 84 by Aussie, posted 03-05-2020 2:00 PM Aussie has not replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 95 of 306 (872851)
03-05-2020 3:45 PM
Reply to: Message 94 by GDR
03-05-2020 3:20 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
GDR writes:

..but as you point out, you know that the concept of morality based on the survival of the fittest isn't desirable.

That's right. Because of a personal decision I've made based on my personal experiences.
Not based on any absolute moral.

I'd also suggest that those who live by that also know that it isn't how we should live, but as it works for them and they don't have faith in there being an absolute morality that is how they live.

I try to avoid saying how other's think.
It's almost always wrong.
Here - you're definitely wrong - as, by definition, there's only 1 "strongest" that's going to have it "work for them (singular)"... and therefore it can't possibly "work for them (plural)" as there is no "them" - only 1 it actually works for.

If one is bigger and stronger, (it could be physically, financially or whatever), then the temptation to turn to using that ability to exercise power over others is very strong and some turn to it. That does not mean however that prided or selfishness is a universal morality.

Exactly.
For the same reason - just because God created us and intends something/anything - that also does not mean it is a universal moral.
As we each decide to agree or disagree with us.
Just as we each decide to agree or disagree with pride.

If you're going to say something can be a "universal moral" because God created it and intended it
-then you have to be willing to accept that that "universal moral" could be "the strong are better than the weak" if there happens to be a God that exists that created it and intended it, regardless of whether or not you and I (and others) disagree with it.

GDR writes:

Stile writes:

Which means - the words "absolute" and "ultimate" in this sense are meaningless in any terms of "should be followed" or not.
They only mean something along the lines of "comes from an external source." Which - really - so do a whole lot of ideas.

However, as a Theist who believes that we are influenced a God meme or whatever you want to call that influence then I believe that along with all of our cultural memes that we can we can affirm or reject that God meme calling us to the Golden Rule.

You use the term "However..." but then your text seems to agree with me completely that we don't affirm/reject the God meme because it's "absolute" or "ultimate" - we affirm/reject it based on "all our cultural memes" (our own personal decisions.)

So your reply is very confusing. Perhaps I parsed/interpreted your intentions wrong?
Or maybe you're saying we don't use our own decisions? Our decision process is an illusion based on this "God meme/influence" and we're actually only robotic slaves that don't make decisions?

If you do agree - then why insist on using words like "absolute" and "ultimate" that only serve to promote confusion when you actually only mean "external?"


This message is a reply to:
 Message 94 by GDR, posted 03-05-2020 3:20 PM GDR has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 99 by GDR, posted 03-05-2020 5:06 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


(1)
Message 122 of 306 (872912)
03-06-2020 3:45 PM
Reply to: Message 99 by GDR
03-05-2020 5:06 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Cool.

I think we're pretty much on the same page. I'll stop badgering you. Even though every time you say "absolute" or "ultimate" when talking about morals/purpose... it irks me
I know what you mean - and I know we've had this conversation before... and perhaps again another day, even.
It just irks me

My note on the CS Lewis quote, just because I sometimes like to ramble:

CS Lewis writes:

The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people's ideas get nearer to that real Right than others. Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something-some Real Morality-for them to be true about.

It's almost all good, except for one part:

You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people's ideas get nearer to that real Right than others.

This sentence, and the entire phrase, would be very correct if it didn't include the bolded part.
The bolded part is unnecessarily snuck in there by CS Lewis in order to reach the conclusion he wants - that something has to be "independent of what people think."

Let me use an example of something simpler to explain:

We compare distances using a ruler.
The ruler is "something different from either" of the 2 things one is trying to compare.
The ruler, however, is not "something independent of what people think."

The ruler is simply "another think that people have invented/thought about."

We invented all rulers.
Every last one of them.
We (humans) drew every line on every ruler that we have ever identified.
We drew them to what we needed: an idea of "distance" that we can use to compare other things to.
Sometimes this is miles, inches, feet, centimeters, acres or "from the tip of my elbow to the tip of my fingers."

The point is - it is necessary for the measuring-tool to be "independent of either thing being measured."
It is not, however, necessary for the measuring-tool to be "independent of what people think."

It is not even possible to have a ruler that is "independent of what people think" since people thought up and invented all rulers!

It's the same with morality.

You can have a Real Morality that's perfectly useful for measuring different morals against each other, as long as it is independent of either of those ideas.
Like "Good is helping people, Bad is hurting people - as defined by the person affected by the action."

There is no need for it to be "independent of what people think."
Such a requirement's existence only has a single purpose - to manipulate the "less discerning" into accepting the greater baggage of the promoter (CS Lewis.)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 99 by GDR, posted 03-05-2020 5:06 PM GDR has replied

Replies to this message:
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 Message 128 by GDR, posted 03-06-2020 5:06 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 124 of 306 (872914)
03-06-2020 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 104 by Dogmafood
03-05-2020 7:51 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Dogmafood writes:

What is the difference between instinct and choice?

An instinct is something we do without thinking about it - a reflex.
Like pulling your hand away from something that caused pain.

A choice is something we think about, and then pick - an intelligent decision.
Like seeing puddle and weighing if your shoe is thick enough to step in it and not get wet or just go around the puddle and not risk it at all.

Please note, it is not the action itself that makes something an instinct or a choice, it is the thought process:

Pulling you hand away from something that caused pain certainly could be a choice - if you identified the pain, thought about moving your hand or not moving your hand, and then decided to move your hand.

Stepping into a puddle with a show that's thick enough to not get your feet wet certainly can be instinctual - if you stepped into the puddle without considering options and without specifically picking the action.

You point out that choice can override instinct but the reverse is equally true.

True - but irrelevant to the issue that if one overrides instinct with choice - then you can't "say for sure" that the choice they made was for the reason you want it to be.

I am sure that you would agree that my dog is a creature driven by instinct and yet does she not choose to obey my command?

I would not agree.
Dog's may very well have "more instinctual actions" than people in a general sense.
But to say that dogs are universally "driven by instinct" is silly - as you showed with your example of your dog choosing to obey your command.
Any pet owner (of likely any pet) will tell you that there are at least "some" choices that the animal is capable of.
It may very well be that there's no such thing as any "universally instinctual creature" at all - but maybe there is. I'm just not prepared to attempt to draw a line at this point (and it's also irrelevant to the issue at hand.)

Your instinct is to survive and your choices are subservient to that.

Your proof is?

Without the proof - you have nothing, and I'm right.
With proof - you are right, and I am wrong.

So - where's the beef?

(Hint: current leading-edge research in this area is "indeterminate" - I'm doubting that you've had better luck.)

No doubt we can choose to override that instinct but then where are we?

We are making decisions based on the reasoning we used. Which isn't necessarily "survival."

Dogmafood writes:

Stile writes:

A 35 year old identified genius does not make decisions "in the same way with the same machinery" as a 35 year old village idiot.


Yes they do. One is just better at it than the other one and we decide which one is better based on how well their choices benefit their personal condition. Of course we are not all using the same brain and all brains are not equal but they all work the same way. They are all subject to the same laws of chemistry and physics.

Again - your minor point is correct (but irrelevant) and because of that, your larger idea is void.

Yes - all brains are subject to the same laws of chemistry and physics.
But no - not all brains work the same way - because of different levels of physical machinery and methods based on experience.

This is the entire science of "mental health" and "cognitive functionality."

Two people likely don't even have the same colour of hair.
Hair is not all that complex.
Brains are very complex.
Brains are much, much, much more varied (and providing of varying results) than hair.
Hardly anyone "thinks the same way" as anyone else.

I don't know how to make it clearer than that.
If you continue to refuse to admit this point - I can't go any further.

Suicide is meant to end one's own suffering and self sacrifice is meant to avoid the suffering of another. Both directly related to an instinct to avoid pain.

Related? Sure, I'll agree with that.
But this next step of "always because of?"

No. I can't agree.
Simply because I can't read other people's mind's (especially after they've died) - and I know that when other's attempt to read my motivations for actions - they're almost always wrong.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 104 by Dogmafood, posted 03-05-2020 7:51 PM Dogmafood has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 136 by Dogmafood, posted 03-07-2020 10:25 AM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 146 of 306 (873043)
03-09-2020 8:46 AM
Reply to: Message 128 by GDR
03-06-2020 5:06 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
GDR writes:

The problem with your explanation though is that your example is something tangible and physical, whereas what Lewis is talking about is intangible and non-physical.

My example: physical length of 2 items can be compared using human thought: the idea of creating a ruler independent of the 2 items such that it can be used to measure each of their lengths and compare them.

Lewis' example: intangible morality of 2 items cannot be compared using human thought: even though the idea of creating a non-physical "morality ruler," such that it can be used to measure each of their moral standings and compare them, is as valid as thinking up a ruler to compare length.

Doesn't seem like a problem with my example.
Seems like a problem with CS Lewis not understanding how comparisons work.

Why would you need something "independent of human thought" to compare things?
Why can't you compare two things as long as you have something "independent of those two things?"

A ruler isn't independent of "length" - it's simply independent of two other-things-with-length that you want to compare.

In the same sense:

A moral ruler ("guideline") doesn't have to be independent of "morality" (or "human thought") - it simply needs to be independent of the two other-moral-things that you want to compare.

CS Lewis professing that is needs to be independent of "morality" doesn't make sense - that's not how comparisons work.
It does, however, make sense if your goal is to get people to believe that "something independent of human thought" is required for an unjustified reason - just tell them it's so, and hope that they don't think about it too hard.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 128 by GDR, posted 03-06-2020 5:06 PM GDR has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 151 by GDR, posted 03-09-2020 11:07 AM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 147 of 306 (873044)
03-09-2020 9:06 AM
Reply to: Message 136 by Dogmafood
03-07-2020 10:25 AM


Re: A Universal Morality
Dogmafood writes:

Surely you would agree that humans are of a kind and universally share some characteristics. Deviants not withstanding. If there is a common morality then it will be built on these common elements.

My point is to be clear.

The whole idea of "a universal idea... deviants not withstanding..." means you're attempting to force that a "universal idea" exist.
If deviants exist - then the idea isn't universal.

Call it what it is: "Something highly likely" or "the default of the majority" or anything else that doesn't imply "everything is this way" (which is what the work "universal" intends.)

I am saying that if we are looking for universality then we need to look for similarities as opposed to differences.

My point is that we should not be looking for any sort of "universality" when attempting to define morality. Because it doesn't fit.
And any attempt to force it to fit - because it would be "easier to understand" - causes more confusion than it's worth.

Besides, it also lowers the importance of morality.
If morality is universal (or has universal aspects) - then parts of morality become "simplified" - easier to understand - can be summarized by the "universality."

But there is no part of morality that works like that.
Morality is extremely situation-specific. It almost always depends on the exact details and the exact subtleties of the situation.
Any attempt to summarize/gloss-over/simplify such things ends up totally erasing the important aspect of morality - that it needs to be intelligently considered and given it's due diligence.

I am entirely against any idea of any sort of "universal morality" because morality as I see it depends on taking each and every individual situation and examining it for it's subtleties and nuances.
Anything short of that is doing a disservice to what "human morality" actually is and how it actually functions in practical life.

Morality is impressive because one chooses to do it.
This choice becomes even more spectacular if the "morality" is entirely made-up as well.

The moment morality exists of any sort of "external" or "absolute" or "universal" entity on it's own - it then becomes something that's there that we should simply follow. This loses the level of following morality "because I want to" and turns it into "because I should."
It doesn't matter if it comes from God or aliens or if it's "just there" - if it's not imagined by the person following it - it becomes "worse" in the sense of following it for the "right reasons."

Doing things 'because we should' is an immature moral system.
Doing things 'because we want to' is a mature moral system.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 136 by Dogmafood, posted 03-07-2020 10:25 AM Dogmafood has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 162 by Dogmafood, posted 03-09-2020 10:53 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


(1)
Message 157 of 306 (873072)
03-09-2020 11:50 AM
Reply to: Message 151 by GDR
03-09-2020 11:07 AM


Re: A Universal Morality
Take you example of a ruler. Sure you can compare 2 different lengths. However, if you just say something is long then you have to ask in comparison to what. If you just say something is morally good or evil then it must be in comparison to something agreed upon standard.

Exactly.

"How long?" Implies - long against what? - but this "what" can be something imagined by humans, like a ruler.

"How moral?" Implies - moral against what? - but this "what" can be something imagined by humans, like a moral guide such as "good is helping people, bad is hurting people - according to the people you're interacting with."

CS Lewis' restriction that this "moral against what?" needs to be "independent of human thought" is silly.
Why would it need to be independent of human thought?

Rulers are imagined-by-humans and provide a great "long against what" - yet they themselves are not independent of human thought, or length, or physical reality.

Why can't an imagined-by-humans idea of morality provide a great "moral against what?"
-why would it need to be independent of human thought?
-why would it need to be independent of morality itself?

It doesn't make any sense to impose such restrictions if the goal is to have "something you can compare 2 different morals against."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 151 by GDR, posted 03-09-2020 11:07 AM GDR has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 160 by GDR, posted 03-09-2020 8:26 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 171 of 306 (873129)
03-10-2020 12:29 PM
Reply to: Message 160 by GDR
03-09-2020 8:26 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
I think I see your confusion - but you're not understanding the issue correctly (and why the fix is valid.)

GDR writes:

But IMHO you are comparing physical things that we can evaluate objectively. We can say that a foot is longer than an inch but shorter than a mile.

Physical or non-physical doesn't matter - it's irrelevant.
What matters is having "something to compare against" - like a ruler or a moral rule.

We say that generosity is better than greed and compare them to each other but if we can simply say that generosity is good without having to compare it to greed.

This is not the fix I've proposed.
I agree that what you have here is unusable as there is no moral rule to compare anything with and therefore come up with a "what is good?" or "what is bad?" answer.

What you've stated here is an attempt to compare things without anything to compare them against.
It's like discussing the length of a bridge and the length of a shoe without allowing any discussion of any kind of "ruler."
One can easily see that a bridge is longer than a shoe.
But, specifically, how "long" is a bridge? a shoe?
-without a ruler, this cannot be defined, and remains unknown.

This is the confusion you're attempting to place on morals.

Like bridges-and-shoes-without-rulers, if you have generosity-and-greed-without-a-moral-rule...
-you can compare them against each other
-you cannot identify "how moral" one is or the other is individually and specifically

But:
-add a ruler and you can do this just fine for bridges and shoes
-add a moral rule and you can do this just fine for generosity and greed

So we say something is good it stands on its own, whereas if we say something is long it has to be understood what it is long in comparison to. So, when we say something is good, we know what it means without having to compare it to some other good or evil.

Exactly.
With buildings-and-shoes - rulers can be used.
With generosity-and-greed - moral rules can be used.

Your confusion (I'm guessing here) then goes on to the next level.
How "commonly understood" are rulers vs moral rules?
I would agree with you that "rulers" are much more commonly-understood than moral rules.

However - common understanding is confusion on the level of discussing between individuals for mutual understanding.
Common understanding has nothing at all to do with "being able to compare two things" at all or not.

Like rulers:
Imperial rulers work just fine to compare any and all length.
However - imperial rulers will only work for a society in general if the society agrees to use imperial rulers and it becomes "common understanding" for the society.
Metric rulers work just fine to compare any and all length.
However - metric rulers will only work for a society in general if the society agrees to use metric rulers and it becomes "common understanding" for the society.

You can even mix-and-match Imperial and Metric rulers to compare any and all "length" just fine.
However - mixing-and-matching rulers will only work for a society in general if the society agrees to use the mixed rulers, identify which they are using when, and it becomes "common understanding" for the society.

If people in society do not use imperial or metric rulers.
If people in society do not specify which they using and when.
These these people in society will have a very difficult time comparing "length" with others who do use such standards.

Very similar for morals:
God-given moral rules (10 commandments, say...) work just fine to compare any and all morals. (more on this below...)
However - God-given moral rules will only work for a society in general if the society agrees to use God-given moral rules and it becomes "common understanding" for the society.
Stile's moral rule (good is helping, bad is hurting, say...) works just fine to compare any and all morals. (more on this below...)
However - Stile's moral rule will only work for a society in general if the society agrees to use Stile's moral rule and it becomes "common understanding" for the society.

You can even mix-and-match God-given and Stile's moral rules to compare any and all "morals" just fine.
However - mixing-and-matching moral rules will only work for a society in general if the society agrees to use the mixed moral rules, identify which they are using when, and it becomes "common understanding" for the society.

Now, a note on what I mean by using moral rules "just fine" to compare any and all morals:
Any moral rule can be used to make a comparison (this is what I was would work "just fine.")
You can have rules such as The 10 Commandments or Stile's rule, or even something silly like "anything with apples is good, without apples is bad..."

The rule only exists so that you can make the comparison, any rule can do this.
Obviously, some rules are better than others - just as some rulers (for length) are better than others.
Initial length-rulers were things like "the width of your hand" or "length of your arm" - but some people have different sized arms and hands, providing various results (even though the ruler itself works just fine.)
Eventually, rulers were created/invented that work really well - like the Imperial system or Metric system.
You can still "make arguments" for one over the other - but it doesn't really matter, you just have to identify which system you're using.

It's the same for moral rules - it's just that we're more in the "infancy stage" than getting to the mature "widely used across the planet" stage.
Obviously, some moral rules will be better than others. Stile's rule is better than the "anything with apples..." rule.
Both rules function "just fine" to compare morals and say which is which.
But Stile's rule will align with more people's idea of "how it should be" than the apple's rule.

-this idea of "how it should be" is what's in contention.
(And this was also in contention for length-rulers for quite some time.)
It needs to be noted, though, that as long as the rule "works" - it can identify a comparison well, and others are able to use it if they're made aware for similar results - then it's just as valid as rulers are for length.

It's just a difference of timing/growth.

With length-rulers - all the hard-work was done thousands of years ago.
-people argued over who's "hand" or "arm" should be used to indicate length to the next city
-people created better and better ideas for length-rulers (a specifically sized length of wood...)
-people argued over how hard it would be to "get everyone on board" with the metric or imperial system
-people are still arguing (*cough*'Murika!*cough*) over Imperial vs Metric
-but this "common understanding" has matured and is "good enough" for there to be a world-wide common-understanding

Morality is simply working it's way through this process, and hasn't gotten very far yet:
-people are arguing over who's "rules" should be used to indicate good/bad
-people are creating better and better ideas for good/bad moral comparison rules
-people are arguing over how hard it will be to "get everyone on board" with any particular system
-it hasn't gotten further than this, yet - but it will as there's nothing stopping it.

See what the problem is?
There's no problem of "it must be independent of human thought!" - that's silly.
There's only a problem of creating/imagining a "very useful" moral-rule; just as "very useful" length-rulers were eventually created/imagined.
There's no indication that this creating/imagining must come from an outside source at all (although that isn't ruled out... it's just not necessary, and doesn't really matter what the "source" may be); just as there was no indication where the source for length-rulers had to come from.
-yes, the issues of "agreeing on a very useful moral rule" and "getting this moral rule understood and used around the world" are very large issues
-just as they were for length-rulers (it took thousands of years to work through them)
-but, again, there's no indication that anything other than "human imagination" is required

I hope that (somewhat?) clarifies what I'm trying to explain.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 160 by GDR, posted 03-09-2020 8:26 PM GDR has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 186 by GDR, posted 03-12-2020 1:48 AM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 173 of 306 (873132)
03-10-2020 12:49 PM
Reply to: Message 162 by Dogmafood
03-09-2020 10:53 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
I rambled a bit in my previous response to you - it wasn't all "directed" at you.
(That's my apology for contextual confusions.)

I am not trying to force anything. I see that there are universal conditions and I am trying to identify them not to dictate them. In the context of morality, being able to make choices is a universal condition or requirement. Having not only the capacity to make a choice but also the opportunity to act on that choice. Self awareness and a theory of mind are requirements that any moral agent must possess. There are at least a bunch of rules that apply universally.

On this, I will agree.
However - if you're identifying and not dictating - I think you need to admit that a genius vs. a village idiot are not working with the same machinery or "way of thinking." We can even grant that neither is a psychopath or has a physical deformity. There is still so much variation in "a human" that many come out average, a significant minority (not "outliers") come out very smart and another significant minority (also not "outliers") come out very dumb.

Dogmafood writes:

Stile writes:

But there is no part of morality that works like that.
Morality is extremely situation-specific. It almost always depends on the exact details and the exact subtleties of the situation.


Absolutely. Just like the speed of light and the relationship between energy and mass.

I think the subjective nature of morality makes it even worse.

That is, if you have the same light/energy/mass action: light-at-this-speed hitting a mirror-of-that-mass - it will always have the same relationships.

Whereas, if you have the same moral action: opening a door for a blind man - it will not always have the same relationships.
-this can be a good thing (for some blind men.)
-this can be a bad thing (for some blind men.)
-this can be a neutral thing (for some blind men.)
-it can even vary for the same blind man going through the exact same scenario (if his subjective feelings on the matter alter.)

Figuring out why we should do something will help us want to do it. Understanding why you shouldn't follow an instinct or desire is the only means you have to resist the impulse. The very essence of your ability to choose.

Agreed.
And many fields of science agree, too - which is why there's much going on the fields of cognitive behaviour and mental health.

Understanding the current progress of these fields should identify to you that this idea that "all moral motivations is a result of survival instinct" is leading more and more to the "no" camp.
Saying such an idea is valid at this point, taking into account the knowledge of such fields of science, is actually "forcing" your view onto reality instead of identifying it at this point.
As far as I'm aware, it's still "indeterminate" - but indications are leaning heavily into the idea that there are many, many "motivations" at play with almost any decision. And therefore - attempting to nail it down to one 'baseline' would be an extremely against-current-knowledge position to take.

The most you can say is that "it's possible to identify a motivational pathway back to survival instincts" for any action.
-but this doesn't negate any of the other "possible motivational pathways."
-and also doesn't increase or decrease the probability of one over any other.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 162 by Dogmafood, posted 03-09-2020 10:53 PM Dogmafood has seen this message but not replied

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4087
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 174 of 306 (873135)
03-10-2020 12:57 PM
Reply to: Message 168 by RAZD
03-10-2020 11:50 AM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
RAZD writes:

Dogmafood writes:

That is not how you distill a universal standard. You look for common elements and reduce them to their most fundamental qualities.


1. Live
2. Reproduce

Any others?

Although I appreciate the chase for a universal standard of morality - I do not think such things would qualify.

There are too many "deviants and outliers" for such items (in the context of moral situations) that are not necessarily associated with physical/emotional deformities.
-to ignore these would be a disservice to "identifying" a common element.
-I think there's enough of these to warrant a "nice try, but it doesn't meet the requirements so we'll need to look for another universal common element."

These may very well be universal standards of "life."
But to extend them as universal standards of "morality" is going too far (in my opinion.)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 168 by RAZD, posted 03-10-2020 11:50 AM RAZD has seen this message but not replied

  
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