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Author Topic:   Atheists must appeal to an absolute moral standard when complaining about wrongs.
Posts: 4042
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 31 of 71 (865247)
10-22-2019 2:03 PM

I like to think that harm/benefit is the same thing as unloving/loving... just defined using different words.

The caveat to me is... who gets to decide what's harmful and what's beneficial?
To me, this can only be decided by the one being acted upon... not the one doing the action, and not any 3rd party observing the actions.

For a simple and obvious example, take the song "Baby Shark."

Some people (mostly kids) like to sing/listen to Baby Shark over and over and over and over...
Some people (mostly adults) do not like to sing/listen to Baby Shark much at all.

So, is singing Baby Shark to someone loving or unloving? Beneficial or harmful?

It all depends on who you're singing it to, and how they judge the effects of the action upon themselves.

For a complex and difficult example, take helping someone commit suicide.

Some people (most?) will regret attempting suicide as shown by many who have gone through the process and later changed their minds.
However, I'm sure it's not impossible to want to commit suicide without any sort of regret ever (and if you did live, only regretting living for all or your remaining time.) Think of someone with a terminal, degenerative illness who doesn't want to be a burden on those who devote their time to taking care of them.

Again, it all depends on who's doing the suicide and how they feel about it.
Perhaps they themselves can't even "see the future" enough to know if they'll regret it or not - but this is an issue with "being able to see the future." Not an issue with who's going to know if it's loving or unloving... beneficial or harmful.

So, I agree that harm/benefit is the determination of what's moral and not.
But only if the decision of what is harm vs what is beneficial is done by the one affected by the situation. If you're the one causing the situation, or a 3rd party altogether... your judgement only counts for if the situation was happening to you... it is meaningless to person being affected by the situation in question.

Posts: 4042
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 39 of 71 (865319)
10-23-2019 10:32 AM
Reply to: Message 35 by GDR
10-22-2019 7:46 PM

GDR writes:

I'm sure you're right. I think though it rather than just saying harm or benefit it would be more accurate to say: intent to harm or intent to benefit.

I think insisting on either over the other is missing the point.
Like insisting that hitting a single is somehow "greater" than taking a walk. If you're on base, then you're on base.

Intent is for judging the "morality of the person" doing the action... did they want a loving/beneficial outcome? If so - good try. If not - screw them.
Of course, the judgement is made manifest by the reaction of the person to the end result.
If the end result was good - does the person continue to try and do the same action? Perhaps tweak for a better result?
if the end result was bad - does the person continue to try and do the same action without in-spite of the bad result?

The result is for judging the "morality of the action" itself... without commenting on what was intended, was it a good or bad thing to do it at all?
-This information can be used by the person doing the action to continue or change their methods - depending on whether or not they care about being a good person for the situation in question.

They are both important aspects, and part of "morality" in their own way.
They both have their own specifics, and their own details.

But conflating the two, or trying to say one out-classes the other, is a waste of time.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 35 by GDR, posted 10-22-2019 7:46 PM GDR has not yet responded

Posts: 4042
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 65 of 71 (865411)
10-24-2019 3:48 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by Taq
10-23-2019 3:01 PM

Re: Links worth reading
I agree with both blogs, just some clarifications for my own amusement:

Tag's quote writes:

Is it even possible to have an objective morality?

I think this depends on your definition of "objective."
You can have an objective morality (the facts of the matter are the same, regardless of who judges them) based on a standard.

The standard could be "if you say 'God made me do it' - then it's good. Otherwise, it's bad."
It's a terrible standard... but it is objective.

The standard could be "if the person affected by the action deems it good - then it's good, if the person affected by the action deems it bad - then it's bad."
It a great standard... and objective.

Of course, if the definition of "objective" implies that the standard as well is provided by some universal law - you are correct.
Of course, the only things objective in this sense is "physics" so - perhaps "physics" would be a better word than objective here?
But, yes, this is generally what people mean when talking about "objective morality" - an absolute, external standard that is not "created by human intelligence."

Therefore, I will assume this is what's intended by the phrase "objective morality" here... I just like to provide options and pick nits.

Thus, a subjective morality is strongly preferable to an objective one!

This, I agree with 100%.
When something is based on feelings (as morality is) - the standard needs to take that into account. An objective standard cannot.
Therefore, a subjective morality is extremely preferable over an objective one.

Just like a subjective wedding is extremely preferable over an objective (arranged..) one.

Given that an objective morality would be highly undesirable, why do so many philosophers and others continue to try hard to rescue an objective morality?

I think it stems from the revolution of identifying "objective truth" as better than "subjective truth" - the realization that we do not (and cannot) define reality with our thoughts or words. Reality is what it is.
There was a long time in history when "reality" was "whatever that guy says it is... because he said so!"
The revelation that objective truth is a far greater tool and provides far greater progress that this wacko subjective truth washed over humanity like a tsunami.

I think this sense of "objective truth about physical reality is greater than subjective truth about physical reality" turned into a generality of "objective is better than subjective" because of how pervasive and in-your-face "physical reality" is.
Basically, my guess is that "subjective morality is better than objective morality" got thrown away with the bath water of "objective is better than subjective."

But, well, it's something that's very large-scale, and widespread across history.
It likely has a multitude of factors, varying for different situations and different people.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 43 by Taq, posted 10-23-2019 3:01 PM Taq has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 66 by Taq, posted 10-24-2019 4:16 PM Stile has responded

Posts: 4042
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 67 of 71 (865417)
10-24-2019 4:31 PM
Reply to: Message 66 by Taq
10-24-2019 4:16 PM

Re: Links worth reading
Taq writes:

For it to be objective we would need to know that what God asks us to do is based on an objective moral code. If God is telling us what to do based on his own subjective judgment, then it is a subjective morality.

Another good point that is always glossed over and not attended to by proponents of "objective morality."

Taq writes:

Stile writes:

The standard could be "if the person affected by the action deems it good - then it's good, if the person affected by the action deems it bad - then it's bad."
It a great standard... and objective.

What is good or bad is based on the person's subjective needs and wants.

Yes - pretty much the same thing, really.

But I like my standard better.
It updates immediately with a change in social subjective needs and wants instead of needing to wait 5, 10, 100 years until "society" recognizes the shift.
My standard does require more, though... a judgement on whether or not you care about the action being good or bad... which begs for you to have reason if you don't care. Which is a good thing, as far as attempting to have a moral system that is self-regulatory in stamping out corruption (lying and twisting the standard in order to get it to "look good" for yourself to do something that's actually not-good according to the code if all information on the situation was available.)

...and this is also kind of required for your statement of the standard as well, really.

Requiring an objective reason for everything humans do is not a sustainable goal because we experience the world through our subjective senses and emotions. Being human is being both subjective and objective, and we should embrace that.

Identifying when one should be used over the other is the hard part.
But to say one should always be used over the other is missing what it means to be "human" as well as being... less than optimally productive.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 66 by Taq, posted 10-24-2019 4:16 PM Taq has not yet responded

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