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Author Topic:   Atheists must appeal to an absolute moral standard when complaining about wrongs.
Stile
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Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.7


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.


GDR
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Posts: 5003
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 32 of 71 (865251)
10-22-2019 4:19 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by AZPaul3
10-22-2019 2:54 AM


AZPaul3 writes:

The point, GDR, is that doing a moral thing can have negative consequences so therefore it isn't as simple as loving and unloving.
In your view you do a moral thing out of love. Tangle does the same thing out of benefit. You try to negate Tangle's good because of an unseen future negative, yet your good suffers the same consequence.

Does this negate the moral reasonings behind the initial action?


No it does not.

We are essentially on the same page. As I read what Tangle wrote using strictly harm and benefit as the criteria, then the emphasis is on the outcome and not on the motivation.

By making the criteria loving or unloving then the end result has no impact on the morality of the act.

AZPaul3 writes:

He can correct me if I'm wrong but I think Tangle, as you do, assigns the morality to the reason for the initial action.

In neither of your cases would either of you perform the initial action knowing of the negative outcome.

So you're back to square one. Tangle's morality comes down to the benefit expected from an action. Immorality comes down to the harm expected to be done by an action.

If the intention is to give benefit then it is a moral good. If the intent is to do harm then it is a moral bad.


Absolutely

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by AZPaul3, posted 10-22-2019 2:54 AM AZPaul3 has not yet responded

GDR
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Posts: 5003
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 33 of 71 (865252)
10-22-2019 4:23 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by Tangle
10-22-2019 3:06 AM


Tangle writes:

Yes really. Morality is about intent.

If the person gave the cash wanting/expecting to improve the guy's life it was a good moral act. If he gave the cash wanting/expecting him to buy drugs and kill himself it was an immoral act.

Yes, but if the criteria is harm or benefit then you can't know whether it was harmful or beneficial until later or maybe never. In my example it was a loving act when the money was given but when the money was given it was an unknown as to whether or not it was harmful or beneficial.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by Tangle, posted 10-22-2019 3:06 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by Faith, posted 10-22-2019 4:57 PM GDR has responded
 Message 38 by Tangle, posted 10-23-2019 3:10 AM GDR has responded

Faith
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Posts: 33699
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 34 of 71 (865253)
10-22-2019 4:57 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by GDR
10-22-2019 4:23 PM


Are you talking about actual harm or benefit as the criteria? Isn't it about MOTIVE to do harm or benefit? Tangle seems to be talking about motive, you seem to be talking about what actually happens, but it's only the motive that counts morally.

If you intend to do good to the person you are morally in the right.

BUT in the case of giving money to a street person I've known for years that it probably will go to drugs or alcohol and knowing that it won't benefit them as I intend I won't give it. I may give them a bag with a sandwich and a drink and snacks, but not money.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by GDR, posted 10-22-2019 4:23 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 35 by GDR, posted 10-22-2019 7:46 PM Faith has not yet responded

GDR
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Posts: 5003
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 35 of 71 (865259)
10-22-2019 7:46 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by Faith
10-22-2019 4:57 PM


Faith writes:

Are you talking about actual harm or benefit as the criteria? Isn't it about MOTIVE to do harm or benefit? Tangle seems to be talking about motive, you seem to be talking about what actually happens, but it's only the motive that counts morally.
If you intend to do good to the person you are morally in the right.


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.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 34 by Faith, posted 10-22-2019 4:57 PM Faith has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 36 by AZPaul3, posted 10-22-2019 9:50 PM GDR has responded
 Message 39 by Stile, posted 10-23-2019 10:32 AM GDR has not yet responded

AZPaul3
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Posts: 4740
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 36 of 71 (865261)
10-22-2019 9:50 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by GDR
10-22-2019 7:46 PM


rather than just saying harm or benefit it would be more accurate to say: intent to harm or intent to benefit.

Semantics.

Would you say your action is taken with the intent to be loving or with the intent to be unloving? Does it matter that the adjectives are loving/unloving or beneficial/harmful? Are you trying to sneak in a religious connotation?

Edited by AZPaul3, : No reason given.


Eschew obfuscation. Habituate elucidation.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 35 by GDR, posted 10-22-2019 7:46 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by GDR, posted 10-23-2019 12:48 AM AZPaul3 has responded

GDR
Member
Posts: 5003
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 37 of 71 (865276)
10-23-2019 12:48 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by AZPaul3
10-22-2019 9:50 PM


AZPaul3 writes:

Would you say your action is taken with the intent to be loving or with the intent to be unloving? Does it matter that the adjectives are loving/unloving or beneficial/harmful? Are you trying to sneak in a religious connotation?


If we use the term loving then intent is implied. That isn't really the case with beneficial.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by AZPaul3, posted 10-22-2019 9:50 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 48 by AZPaul3, posted 10-23-2019 11:19 PM GDR has not yet responded

Tangle
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Posts: 7129
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 38 of 71 (865298)
10-23-2019 3:10 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by GDR
10-22-2019 4:23 PM


GDR writes:

Yes, but if the criteria is harm or benefit then you can't know whether it was harmful or beneficial until later or maybe never. In my example it was a loving act when the money was given but when the money was given it was an unknown as to whether or not it was harmful or beneficial.

All you're doing is substituting love - and by inference - hate, for benefit and harm. If you give the panhandler money out of love and he then buys drugs and overdoses you have an hateful outcome.

Intent.


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 33 by GDR, posted 10-22-2019 4:23 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 44 by GDR, posted 10-23-2019 4:17 PM Tangle has responded

Stile
Member
Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 1.7


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

Taq
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Posts: 8163
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 40 of 71 (865327)
10-23-2019 1:22 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Gospel Preacher
10-20-2019 6:31 PM


Gospel Preacher writes:

If, as atheists claim, morality is relative, then by definition there is no absolute standard of right and wrong. Thus, atheists have no basis for complaining about moral wrongs, because they cannot appeal to anything to prove that it is wrong.

I am an atheist, and I think morality is subjective. Morality is based on human needs and wants, and that is what I base morality on. Therefore, it is entirely proper to claim that something is morally wrong if it goes against the subjective needs and wants of human society and individuals.

All they can do is appeal to their own feelings, but without an absolute standard their feelings don't matter, because only an absolute standard can say that the feelings of humans beings ought to matter to every other human being.

Our emotions absolutely do matter to us. That's the whole point. In fact, it could be argued that our emotions are some of the most important things.

When the morals of one human contradict the morals of another human, which human is right, since there is no absolute standard? If they both are offended, whose feelings do we base our morals on?

There will be occasions where this is hard to figure out. This is why morality has long been a heavily debated topic.

The problem for you is determining what is moral in the face of two people who claim to have absolute standards, but those standards disagree with one another. What happens then?


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 Message 1 by Gospel Preacher, posted 10-20-2019 6:31 PM Gospel Preacher has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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Faith
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Posts: 33699
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 41 of 71 (865330)
10-23-2019 2:00 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Taq
10-23-2019 1:22 PM


...it is entirely proper to claim that something is morally wrong if it goes against the subjective needs and wants of human society and individuals.

Um, some individuals have a strong need and want to have sex with children. Some individuals have a strong need and want to commit murder: study the cases of serial killers, it's a strong need they have. Same with needs and wants to hurt and humiliate others, some to torture and kill animals. These things subjectively feel to these people as strong needs and wants. You have a very naïve idea of what lurks in the human soul.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by Taq, posted 10-23-2019 1:22 PM Taq has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by Taq, posted 10-23-2019 2:55 PM Faith has responded

Taq
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Posts: 8163
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.2


(1)
Message 42 of 71 (865334)
10-23-2019 2:55 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by Faith
10-23-2019 2:00 PM


Faith writes:

Um, some individuals have a strong need and want to have sex with children.

The majority of human society doesn't have those needs or wants. In fact, they have the opposite. They have a need and want to protect their children from sexual predators.

If someone said that God told them it was ok to have sex with children, would you be fine with that?

You have a very naïve idea of what lurks in the human soul.

You have a serious misunderstanding of what human society is. Human society is not the immoral needs of a tiny minority. Human society is the common thread that runs through the vast majority of human society.


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 Message 41 by Faith, posted 10-23-2019 2:00 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 47 by Faith, posted 10-23-2019 8:14 PM Taq has responded

Taq
Member
Posts: 8163
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 43 of 71 (865335)
10-23-2019 3:01 PM


Links worth reading
There are two blog posts that really helped me solidify my thinking on this topic.

quote:
Is it even possible to have an objective morality? I would argue that it is not possible, and even if such existed it would be irrelevant because we could not know about it. Further, there is no compelling evidence that anyone, any group or society, has access to an objective morality.

The notion of an objective morality assumes that morality is something that can make sense apart from the context in which it is used (in our case, human society). Is it objectively wrong, according to some moral law of the universe, to harm another creature? If you try to justify this moral position, then you are actually engaging in moral philosophy – the complex and messy human understanding of morals.
https://theness.com/....php/objective-vs-subjective-morality


quote:
Thus, if morality were an absolute set by a god, something could be immoral even if every human disagreed. If, instead, human feelings and desires are what ultimately count, then that is a subjective morality.

Thus, a subjective morality is strongly preferable to an objective one! That’s because, by definition, it is about what we humans want. Would we prefer to be told by some third party what we should do, even if it is directly contrary to our own deeply held sense of morality?

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?
https://coelsblog.wordpress.com/...tive-morality-is-nonsense



Replies to this message:
 Message 65 by Stile, posted 10-24-2019 3:48 PM Taq has responded

GDR
Member
Posts: 5003
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 44 of 71 (865342)
10-23-2019 4:17 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by Tangle
10-23-2019 3:10 AM


Tangle writes:

All you're doing is substituting love - and by inference - hate, for benefit and harm. If you give the panhandler money out of love and he then buys drugs and overdoses you have an hateful outcome.

Intent.

I agree that intent is the point. Firstly being hateful and unloving are two different things. Hatred is unloving but it is only one aspect of it. In a broader sense unloving is simply indifference to the well being of others.

My point was that you can have a negative outcome from a loving moral act. Just to use the terms harm or benefit focuses on the outcome rather than the intent.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 38 by Tangle, posted 10-23-2019 3:10 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by Tangle, posted 10-23-2019 5:13 PM GDR has responded
 Message 49 by AZPaul3, posted 10-23-2019 11:57 PM GDR has responded

Tangle
Member
Posts: 7129
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 45 of 71 (865343)
10-23-2019 5:13 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by GDR
10-23-2019 4:17 PM


GDR writes:

I agree that intent is the point. Firstly being hateful and unloving are two different things. Hatred is unloving but it is only one aspect of it. In a broader sense unloving is simply indifference to the well being of others.

I think you've just explained why this business of love and heart and sacrifice and so on is really just well meaning religious waffle.

What our sense of morality is built on is the wellbeing of others, which means reducing harms and increasing benefits.

My point was that you can have a negative outcome from a loving moral act.

Unlikely but possible but also irrelevant. Morality is an attempt to do the right or wrong thing. Help or harm.

Just to use the terms harm or benefit focuses on the outcome rather than the intent.

Nope, it's the intent to harm or help that matters and usually it will result in the intended outcome.


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 44 by GDR, posted 10-23-2019 4:17 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 46 by jar, posted 10-23-2019 5:54 PM Tangle has responded
 Message 50 by GDR, posted 10-24-2019 12:05 AM Tangle has responded

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