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Author Topic:   Morality without God is impossible
Dogmafood
Member (Idle past 366 days)
Posts: 1815
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 136 of 306 (872944)
03-07-2020 10:25 AM
Reply to: Message 124 by Stile
03-06-2020 4:11 PM


Re: A Universal Morality
Hardly anyone "thinks the same way" as anyone else.

I am pointing to the common elements that every moral agent uses to make a decision and you are pointing out that not all decisions are the same. Obviously I would agree that not all decisions are the same. 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.

The most persistent and fundamental of those common elements is the instinct to survive. Any universal morality will necessarily accommodate that instinct. At the same time, every moral code is an effort to influence that instinctive behaviour. So there are elements that every moral code will necessarily have.

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


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 677 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


(1)
Message 137 of 306 (872963)
03-07-2020 12:35 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by Phat
03-01-2020 2:32 PM


Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
... You bring up an interesting line of thought, though.
People always hear of the violent cultures of the early Jews and how God commanded them to kill everyone--men, women, and children alike. To me, it was always more about the morality of that culture at that time and in (and at) that point of development rather than it was about blaming the booming voice of God.

Culture evolves to become more inclusive, because not being at war with your neighbors means more survival of your tribe/group/etc...

Let me propose a question to open the discussion a bit to give a perspective

Are the morals of a lion the same as the morals of an antelope?

Enjoy


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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 6738
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 138 of 306 (872965)
03-07-2020 12:57 PM
Reply to: Message 137 by RAZD
03-07-2020 12:35 PM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
Since neither has been shown to have any moral decision-making sense the answer is, "We don't know."

Eschew obfuscation. Habituate elucidation.

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Dogmafood
Member (Idle past 366 days)
Posts: 1815
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 139 of 306 (872988)
03-08-2020 9:19 AM
Reply to: Message 137 by RAZD
03-07-2020 12:35 PM


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

The salient point is not that their behaviour should be the same but rather that their behaviour should be judged by the same standard. Any universal standard would need to apply equally to any moral agent. Of course not all moral agents are the same and indeed every one of them is unique and so how do we judge them by the same standard? We do that by finding the common denominators that are possessed by each and every agent.

If morality is born from the act of making choices then the moral obligation of any agent is modified by their ability to make choices. The lion can not be found guilty of eating meat on a Friday nor the antelope praised for being a vegetarian. So even though they are not expected to behave in the same way they can be assessed by the same measure.


This message is a reply to:
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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8549
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 140 of 306 (872989)
03-08-2020 10:05 AM
Reply to: Message 137 by RAZD
03-07-2020 12:35 PM


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

Are the morals of a lion the same as the morals of an antelope?

With the possible exception of the higher apes, you can't talk about moral behaviour in animals, just behaviour.

To be able to act morally an organism needs both agency and capacity, that is it must be able to act independently by rational choice and be mentally capable of understanding the difference between good behaviour and bad.

Edited by Tangle, : No reason given.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8549
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 141 of 306 (872990)
03-08-2020 10:26 AM


We getting away from what I wanted the thread to be about, which was whether it was possible to have morality without god.

It seemed to me that GDR's concept of morality was an external force guiding us - his 'still small voice', while I'm clear that it's internal to us, an emotion just like others. Handily we have evidence for the latter but none for the former.

To demonstrate this very potently there's the example of Fred

quote:
There's a guy called Fred, married for many years, normal.
At the age of 40 his personality changes, he starts developing overt and inappropriate sexual tendancies. He starts looking at child porn. He gets kicked out by his wife for making sexual advances to young girls. He is finally prosecuted for a sex offence and put on the sex offender's register.

He also starts getting bad headaches and when he finally turns up at a hospital, they find an enormous tumour on his prefrontal cortex. They remove the tumour and his paedophilia is cured.

A couple of years later he starts having sexual problems again, he checks in to hospital, they find that the tumour has returned. They remove it, it cures the paedophilia. He's currently fine.

So this particular 'evil' was caused by neurology. Perhaps then free will and morality are dependent on the way our brains work rather than how Satan works.

quote:

"Studies suggest that when damage is done to the frontal lobe before 18 months, people never learn right from wrong," Swerdlow said. "When damage is done after that time, people can learn right from wrong but they can't control their impulses. There is no longer regard for long-term consequences, only short-term gratification."
"Nothing puts the brakes on their behavior. They are always in trouble," he said. "If their brain wants something, they take it."

Swerdlow said this was the case with his patient. The man knew his actions were wrong "but the pleasure principle overrode his restraint. [snip]

"He concluded: "We're dealing with the neurology of morality here."

Scientific paper here:
http://www.ahealthymind.org/...y/right%20OFC%20pedophile.pdf

Article here:
WMBB-TV, Panama City, Florida - Putting The Brain On Trial


It seems obvious the basis of morality are emotions such as empathy and compassion and are evolved traits. Earlier Christians used to have this idea of a soul that was implanted by god at birth and was responsible for our consciousness and hence morality, I find that a truly stupid idea but at least it's compatible with this external cause.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


  
jar
Member
Posts: 33957
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 142 of 306 (872991)
03-08-2020 10:55 AM
Reply to: Message 140 by Tangle
03-08-2020 10:05 AM


possible nitpick
Tangle writes:

To be able to act morally an organism needs both agency and capacity, that is it must be able to act independently by rational choice and be mentally capable of understanding the difference between good behaviour and bad.

Should that be "To be able to act morally an organism needs both agency and capacity, that is it must be able to act independently by rational choice and be mentally capable of having a concept of some difference between good behaviour and bad."

Is there some real difference between good and bad behavior that is not relative to the society and specifics of the incident?


My Sister's Website: Rose Hill Studios     My Website: My Website

This message is a reply to:
 Message 140 by Tangle, posted 03-08-2020 10:05 AM Tangle has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 143 by Tangle, posted 03-08-2020 12:08 PM jar has replied

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8549
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 143 of 306 (872994)
03-08-2020 12:08 PM
Reply to: Message 142 by jar
03-08-2020 10:55 AM


Re: possible nitpick
Jar writes:

Should that be "To be able to act morally an organism needs both agency and capacity, that is it must be able to act independently by rational choice and be mentally capable of having a concept of some difference between good behaviour and bad."

I'm not sure I'm picking up the distinction your making?

Is there some real difference between good and bad behavior that is not relative to the society and specifics of the incident?

I think it all resolves down to harms and benefits. We all have very basic feelings of those and our societies refine them as we develop. This is why all societies have complicated normative rules of behaviour.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 142 by jar, posted 03-08-2020 10:55 AM jar has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 144 by jar, posted 03-08-2020 12:22 PM Tangle has replied

  
jar
Member
Posts: 33957
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 144 of 306 (872995)
03-08-2020 12:22 PM
Reply to: Message 143 by Tangle
03-08-2020 12:08 PM


Re: possible nitpick
But they are related to that society. I can't see anyway to say one set of morals is better or worse beyond relating it to my moral standard. And I imagine someone from the other set of moral standards can be equally justified comparing my standards to those of his society.

God and bad only relate to a given perception within a given society for a given incident.


My Sister's Website: Rose Hill Studios     My Website: My Website

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Tangle
Member
Posts: 8549
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 145 of 306 (872999)
03-08-2020 2:06 PM
Reply to: Message 144 by jar
03-08-2020 12:22 PM


Re: possible nitpick
jar writes:

But they are related to that society. I can't see anyway to say one set of morals is better or worse beyond relating it to my moral standard. And I imagine someone from the other set of moral standards can be equally justified comparing my standards to those of his society.
God and bad only relate to a given perception within a given society for a given incident.

I think some forms of morality can be objectively judged to be better than others.

If you accept that morality is based on harms and benefits to both individuals and societies then, for example, I think that a society that persecutes homosexuals is less moral than one that doesn't.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona

"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 144 by jar, posted 03-08-2020 12:22 PM jar has taken no action

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 4076
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 4.1


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.


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Stile
Member
Posts: 4076
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 4.1


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:
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RAZD
Member (Idle past 677 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 148 of 306 (873045)
03-09-2020 9:32 AM
Reply to: Message 138 by AZPaul3
03-07-2020 12:57 PM


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

Since neither has been shown to have any moral decision-making sense the answer is, "We don't know."

Their behavior is predicated on the type of animal they are. The lion male taking over a pride kills all the current young to make the mothers go into estrus earlier so they can mate and start having offspring with their DNA.

This doesn't happen with antelope (or many other species).

The conclusion I draw is that this is moral behavior for the lions, but not for the antelope (or other species that don't indulge in infanticide).

You also see parents and other adults protecting young from predators in many species.

IFF there is an "absolute morality" then it would apply to all life, but we see here moral relativity would differ between species, so it would have to have many subchapters, amendments, exclusions, etc.

Tangle writes:

It seems obvious the basis of morality are emotions such as empathy and compassion and are evolved traits. ...

Empathy and compassion have been observed in many animals, from dogs to horses to camels to whales, as well as in chimps, especially where deaths of offspring are mourned.

We've also seen experiments with Capuchin monkeys have a sense of morality

We also see whales and dolphins protecting/helping swimmers

So it should be rather obvious that "morality" is relative to the specific species and society and that it is an evolved behavior/trait.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel•American•Zen•Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
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Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 717 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


(2)
Message 149 of 306 (873046)
03-09-2020 9:46 AM
Reply to: Message 148 by RAZD
03-09-2020 9:32 AM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
I suppose it doesn't really make sense to speak of animals having a moral sense, but I had an experience with a baby raccoon I had rescued that made me think they are certainly aware when they've transgressed some kind of moral standard. I had rescued her and fed her and petted her and she was very tame but still had her wild animal instincts. She grabbed something I didn't want her to have, I forget what, and when I took it from her she made a motion to bite me. She didn't bite me but she looked at me with the most amazing expression of contrition and remorse in her eyes, as if she "realized" she had almost bitten this person who was so good to her. Is that a moral sense? I want to call it that. Or maybe she was afraid I'd punish her? But I'd never treated her with anything but affection.

Here's the thing: They have an intelligence that can make decisions. It's not all instinctual behavior. Certainly this has to be true of the mammals, but I think it may also be true of birds, not sure how I have that iidea.

Oh did any one hear about the man who had rescued an alligator and fed it and took care of it while it healed from some kind of wounds, and when it was healed it followed him around like a pet. At first I said it was a baby alligator but I don't think it was. Certainly animnals respond intelligently to such situations.

And now I have many other such situations in mind I could mention where the animal showed gratitude for human care. A lion a woman took care of hugging her through the bars of his cage. Now also think of animals who care for other animnals, a dog at an animal rescue center that went around licking and trying to comfort other animals there as they were brought in. Not sure how all this fits into the morality idea though.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
Member (Idle past 677 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 150 of 306 (873048)
03-09-2020 10:15 AM
Reply to: Message 139 by Dogmafood
03-08-2020 9:19 AM


Re: Are the morals of a lion the same as an antelope?
If morality is born from the act of making choices then the moral obligation of any agent is modified by their ability to make choices. The lion can not be found guilty of eating meat on a Friday nor the antelope praised for being a vegetarian. So even though they are not expected to behave in the same way they can be assessed by the same measure.

Or in other words, what is moral for the lion differs from what is moral for the antelope, and morality is relative to the species/society they live in.

... Any universal standard would need to apply equally to any moral agent. ...

And any universal standard would need many chapters, with many subchapters, amendments and exclusions added over time in order to encompass all life.

... so how do we judge them by the same standard? We do that by finding the common denominators that are possessed by each and every agent.

Each species would have their specific relative agent/s. Somehow I doubt there would be one common agent shared by all species.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel•American•Zen•Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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