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Author Topic:   Morality and Subjectivity
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 23 (303620)
04-12-2006 5:26 PM


In another thread, now closed, I said this: "the fact that we have no logical ground for any moral rule is what tells us our rules are subjective."

Purple Dawn said this:

Maybe someday you'll expound on that thought and actually show that there is no logical ground for any moral rule.

Here's my idea: When speaking of moral rules, we might say they are subjective in the sense that they have no logical grounds. In other words, no action can be proved to be either morally right or morally wrong.

Somebody might say, we should treat others as we want to be treated.

Why should we do that?

There is no answer to "why" that does not beg the question. Any answer given is yet another ungrounded moral idea. We might say, "we should do so because in the long run it is good for everyone."

So we have yet another rule: We should do that which in the long run is good for everyone.

Why?

No reason. All we can say in reply is,"We should do that which in the long run is good for everyone because it is the right thing to do." In other words, we beg the question.

There might be some confusion over the meaning of the word "subjective"--which would be helpful to discuss. For all I know, I might be using it eccentrically.

This message has been edited by robinrohan, 04-12-2006 04:28 PM


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AdminPD
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Message 2 of 23 (303630)
04-12-2006 5:47 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1597 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 3 of 23 (303654)
04-12-2006 7:23 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by robinrohan
04-12-2006 5:26 PM


Pick a Moral Rule
quote:

In another thread, now closed, I said this: "the fact that we have no logical ground for any moral rule is what tells us our rules are subjective."

Now pick one moral rule from our society and show me why it has no logical grounding.

Rules evolve whether considered moral or otherwise. Morals are nothing more than proper behavior of a person within a society.

Now maybe you consider morals to be concern for human welfare.

I feel our society today uses the term both ways.

quote:
Somebody might say, we should treat others as we want to be treated.

Why should we do that?


I never thought of that as a moral law in our society. What makes that a moral law?

quote:
So we have yet another rule: We should do that which in the long run is good for everyone.

Why?


Again, not something I ever thought of as a moral law. Odds are the thought would be more along the lines of doing what is good for the majority.

I guess I think of moral laws as don't murder, don't steal, don't tell falsehoods, etc.

Where are you pulling your moral laws from?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by robinrohan, posted 04-12-2006 5:26 PM robinrohan has responded

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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 23 (303657)
04-12-2006 7:28 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by purpledawn
04-12-2006 7:23 PM


Re: Pick a Moral Rule
I guess I think of moral laws as don't murder, don't steal, don't tell falsehoods, etc.

Where are you pulling your moral laws from?

The Golden Rule--that's not a moral rule?

Ok, let's go with murder.

Thou shalt not murder.

Why not? Why shouldn't I murder somebody if I profit by it and get away with it?


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 Message 9 by Larni, posted 04-13-2006 6:29 AM robinrohan has responded

Discreet Label
Member (Idle past 3203 days)
Posts: 272
Joined: 11-17-2005


Message 5 of 23 (303717)
04-12-2006 9:57 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by robinrohan
04-12-2006 7:28 PM


Re: Pick a Moral Rule
Why not? Why shouldn't I murder somebody if I profit by it and get away with it?

You shouldn't murder someone mostly because it is a very basic denial of their freedom to live. Thats a very broad reason why not to.

You shouldn't murder anyone unless you want to have the normal expectation that murder is common and normal standard of life. IOW for your own security murder is not an option because to set a trend of murder would deny you your security and it would deny you a reasonable expectation to not being murdered.

This message has been edited by Discreet Label, 04-12-2006 10:00 PM


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RAZD
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Posts: 19845
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.8


Message 6 of 23 (303719)
04-12-2006 10:03 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by robinrohan
04-12-2006 5:26 PM


Somebody might say, we should treat others as we want to be treated.

Why should we do that?

Enlightened self interest in the context of a social animal. (Expecting holmes any minute now ...)

We see different forms of this rule in {?virtually?} every society, so there is some kind of mechanism that drives this conclusion.

I would think that a different conclusion would be reached by a non-social species.


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1597 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 7 of 23 (303722)
04-12-2006 10:05 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by robinrohan
04-12-2006 7:28 PM


Re: Pick a Moral Rule
quote:
The Golden Rule--that's not a moral rule?
IMO, it's more of a summation to help a person remember what they shouldn't do.

quote:
Thou shalt not murder.

Why not? Why shouldn't I murder somebody if I profit by it and get away with it?


General Definition of Murder: Killing another human for reasons other than self defense or accident.

Logical grounding would be in why a civilization would enact such a rule. Self preservation and continuation of the species are two good reasons a society would enact such a ruling.

Like I said before, if you live by yourself you do as you please in your place; but if you have a roommate then eventually rules get established.

As for why you personally shouldn't murder. Because it is against the laws of our society and you will suffer the consequences.


"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz
This message is a reply to:
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DominionSeraph
Member (Idle past 2894 days)
Posts: 365
From: on High
Joined: 01-26-2005


Message 8 of 23 (303755)
04-13-2006 5:27 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by robinrohan
04-12-2006 7:28 PM


robinrohan writes:

Why shouldn't I murder somebody if I profit by it and get away with it?

If you allow killing for profit, everyone becomes a threat. You end up having to spend considerable resources on defense. As you can't trust anyone not to stab you in the back (literally), there's no cooperation, so you lose the efficiency of the division of labor.

Killing for profit simply isn't profitable.


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Larni
Member
Posts: 3976
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 9 of 23 (303770)
04-13-2006 6:29 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by robinrohan
04-12-2006 7:28 PM


Re: Pick a Moral Rule
Robinrohan writes:

Why shouldn't I murder somebody if I profit by it and get away with it?

Because you run the risk of getting some form of sanction being placed on you, either by an outside force or your perception of self conflicting with your actions.

People have been murdering people for years and getting away with it. If there is no reason not to, people will do it.

I read in the new yesterday that some militia men killed some aid workers in Somalia. They had no such sanctions and so when murder could aquire the desired result, that was the action of choice.


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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 23 (303799)
04-13-2006 8:10 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by purpledawn
04-12-2006 10:05 PM


Re: Pick a Moral Rule
Self preservation and continuation of the species are two good reasons a society would enact such a ruling.

So the injunction "Thou shalt not murder" is based upon 2 other moral injunctions:

Thou shalt not do that which endangers oneself (self-preservation).

Why can't I do that which endangers myself if I choose?

Thou shalt not do that which discontinues the species?

My murdering someone would not discontinue the species.

As far as it being against the laws of society, that's a legal not a moral matter. In real life, there may be practical reasons why I should not murder, but we are speaking of morality. In any case, suppose I could get away with it and thus suffer no consequences? That's the assumption here.


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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 23 (303810)
04-13-2006 8:30 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by DominionSeraph
04-13-2006 5:27 AM


Killing for profit simply isn't profitable.

So the injunction against murder is based upon this moral rule:

Thou shalt not do that which isn't profitable.

I don't see any reason why I shouldn't do that which isn't profitable if I want to. Wasting time by watching TV is not profitable, but many waste time in various ways such as this. Is this immoral?


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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 23 (303812)
04-13-2006 8:33 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Larni
04-13-2006 6:29 AM


Re: Pick a Moral Rule
Because you run the risk of getting some form of sanction being placed on you, either by an outside force or your perception of self conflicting with your actions.

Thou shalt not do that which runs a risk of getting a sanction placed upon one. If no one knows I did it and I don't feel guilty about it, why not do it? There would be no sanction. And anyway, if the profit is great, and I get away with it, it might be worth the self-imposed sanction.

This message has been edited by robinrohan, 04-13-2006 07:35 AM


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Tusko
Member
Posts: 605
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 13 of 23 (303816)
04-13-2006 8:36 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by robinrohan
04-12-2006 5:26 PM


I think there are is a pragmatic basis for many moral tenets, but no pure logical reason. I don't think morals function like mathematics. But ultimately is this a problem?

They allow large groups of people to function together. Their basis - whether pragmatic or metaphysical - doesn't really have much bearing on this efficacy.


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ramoss
Member
Posts: 3109
Joined: 08-11-2004


Message 14 of 23 (303820)
04-13-2006 8:56 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by robinrohan
04-13-2006 8:10 AM


Re: Pick a Moral Rule
No, it woudln't.

However, it is a matter of self interest.

If you feel free to murder someone, then others feel free to murder you.

So, as a matter of self defense, a social contract developed for the soceity. From a simplistic point of view the contract is.

You don't kill anybody in our socieity.. and we will , as a group, try to protect you from those who will try to do that. You violate that agreement, we (as a group), will come after you and eliminate a threat to us (as a group)


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Larni
Member
Posts: 3976
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 15 of 23 (303823)
04-13-2006 9:00 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by robinrohan
04-13-2006 8:33 AM


Re: Pick a Moral Rule
Robinrohan writes:

Thou shalt not do that which runs a risk of getting a sanction placed upon one. If no one knows I did it and I don't feel guilty about it, why not do it? There would be no sanction. And anyway, if the profit is great, and I get away with it, it might be worth the self-imposed sanction.

Exactly.

Our potential to do something like murder is part of our psychology.

If we live in a culture where doing bloody murder is a fact of life or in fact encouraged and admired you would be far more enclined to use murder as a problem solving behaviour.

If on the other hand we are brought up in a peace loving society we are far less likely to use it in that way.

Our description of these rules become morality.


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