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Author Topic:   A morality discussion (Neutralmind, Crashfrog, and Chiroptera only)
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 735 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 3 of 41 (397115)
04-24-2007 1:08 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Neutralmind
04-21-2007 9:05 PM


Seriously though, I think this is only a baiting tactic to get me to say "But eating peanuts/ dotting i's is neutral when it comes to morality" to which you reply " Oh, so morality can also be neutral, so much for objective morality".

You edited out the important part of the analogy, which makes me think you didn't understand it.

The part you excerpted was where I said:

quote:
But what if you have a peanut allergy? Then it would be very, very bad for you to eat peanuts, even if they're good for everybody else. Where's the "objective" morality of eating peanuts? Good or bad? Do we say that peanuts are objectively good, and force the guy with the allergy to eat them, or do we say that they're objectively bad, and prevent anyone from eating them?

Do you see how that makes all the difference? For people with peanut allergies, feeding them peanuts could rise to the level of murder. For people with no such allergy, feeding them peanuts (say, on an airplane) is a courtesy.

That's what morals are like. In the same way that it's impossible to develop a coherent "morality of peanuts" that doesn't have a hundred-page codicil of exceptions, and exceptions to the exceptions, etc.; it's impossible to develop a coherent, universal, absolute morality. It just can't be done! Which is why we observe that all morality is, in practice, flexible and relative.

You could list every single situation where stealing was OK hypothetically.

No, of course you couldn't. New, unknown situations are always happening. At the end of your thousand years you might have listed every possible situation that had every happened at the time that you started, but now there's a thousand years of new situations that you're behind on.

You could never, ever list every situation. Which means that we're always going to be developing our morality "on the fly", as it's necessary, as those new situations arise.

If there's an absolute right and wrong I would be doing something immoral. Is that dodging the question?

No, it's actually begging the question. If you think there's an absolute right and wrong, then why would you believe in a relative morality? And if you believe in a relative morality, what would possibly lead you to think there was an absolute morality?

You're all twisted up in circles about this, and I don't understand what the big deal is. It seems like you're worried that there's an objective absolute reality inherent in the universe that you simply can't perceive. But how could such a thing be worth worrying about? If the morality is "invisible", then what power does the universe have to hold you to it? Or punish you for infractions? (None whatsoever.)

If you don't believe in a judgmental God, sitting there waiting to pass sentence on you for breaking laws you didn't even know existed, then what the hell are you so worried about? After all these posts, I still don't understand.

I hope some great enlightening answers are on their way.

Look, they're not. The clouds aren't going to part after you read my posts. Light from Heaven isn't going to shroud you when you fully understand my words. You don't need enlightenment; you just need to stop twisting yourself up in word games and figure out what your mental block is. If you're having obsessive thoughts, or you feel like you're under compulsions, or you have an unshakable sense that you're being "judged" or watched at all times, then maybe you should seek professional counseling about that, because those are all signs of mental disorders.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Neutralmind, posted 04-21-2007 9:05 PM Neutralmind has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Neutralmind, posted 04-25-2007 6:48 PM crashfrog has replied

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 735 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 5 of 41 (397432)
04-25-2007 10:29 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Neutralmind
04-25-2007 6:48 PM


... I thought you said somewhere before (in the before thread) that a relative morality doesn't mean that right and wrong don't exist. So, can right and wrong exist in the view of relative morality?

Of course. They just depend.

Go back to the peanut example. An absolute morality would say that feeding peanuts to people was either wrong or right. But the relavtive morality recognizes that whether its right or wrong depends a lot on whether or not the person is allergic to peanuts.

I disagree. Even if something doesn't have consequences to you doesn't mean it's immoral.

Ok, look. Is this just going to be a "debate" where I make statements and you respond with complete non sequiters? Because if so I'm going to bow out right now. If there's no guarantee that you're actually going to respond to what I'm saying then I don't see the point.

No, I didn't say that "if it doesn't have consequences to you it's not immoral." I have no idea where you got that.

If you'd get rich by just pushing a button, but some poor chap on the other side of the world would die because of that, would you push the button? If you were absolutely sure that it beared you no consequences for pushing the button, except you getting rich, would you push it?

That has nothing to do with what we're talking about. The situations you seem to be concerned about have no discernable negative consequences to any persons at all. You're worried about them running contrary to some objective moral code - that you don't know about - even though they have no other consequence.

It's still not clear why you're twisted up about this. You're inventing a morality you don't even believe in so that you have something to be afraid of. How the hell does that make any sense? There's no dilemma here except the one you're twisting yourself into.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Neutralmind, posted 04-25-2007 6:48 PM Neutralmind has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Neutralmind, posted 04-26-2007 1:46 AM crashfrog has replied

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 735 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 7 of 41 (398227)
04-29-2007 9:31 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Neutralmind
04-26-2007 1:46 AM


But how can we know what's good and what's not? Isn't it all personal?

It doesn't seem "all personal" to your buddy with the peanut allergy. The harm that would come to him if you served him peanuts against his will is pretty objective and real to him. Don't you think?

But how could such a thing be worth worrying about? If the morality is "invisible", then what power does the universe have to hold you to it? Or punish you for infractions? (None whatsoever.)

So, how I read that statement is that you're saying because there is no force to hold me onto my actions it means I shouldn't worry about morality, just do as I see fit?

Wait, what? How do you get from that to:

Then, how is it bad for me to push the button and get rich if the universe doesn't hold me to it? It has no consequences to me.

It has consequences for that guy, though. Obviously.

I'm not following your thought process, I guess. It really seems like you're having a lot of trouble with simple statements in plain English, which is why I wondered if we're going to debate or just lob non-sequiters at each other.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Neutralmind, posted 04-26-2007 1:46 AM Neutralmind has taken no action

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 735 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 9 of 41 (400733)
05-16-2007 1:39 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Neutralmind
05-16-2007 1:30 PM


Assuming morality is relative, how could good and bad ever exist?

How can they not exist? Even under relative morality, we all recognize that there are consequences that we would prefer, and ones we would not prefer, and when we don't agree exactly, we develop means to come to some kind of compromise that pleases the most people.

Presumably, you don't want me to hit you in the foot with a hammer. Does there really need to be some absolute, unchanging, eternal universal law for you to not want me to do that?

Isn't the fact that it's going to hurt a lot sufficient for you to prefer an alternate outcome?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Neutralmind, posted 05-16-2007 1:30 PM Neutralmind has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Neutralmind, posted 05-16-2007 1:56 PM crashfrog has replied
 Message 11 by Neutralmind, posted 05-16-2007 2:02 PM crashfrog has taken no action

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 735 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 13 of 41 (400769)
05-16-2007 4:13 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Neutralmind
05-16-2007 1:56 PM


But then, when morality is relative. What keeps me from doing something "immoral"?

The same thing that keeps you from doing something immoral under absolute morality - nothing but your own volition.

Even the people who assert absolute morality don't claim that the universe stops you from doing bad things. I mean, it's pretty hard to escape the conclusion that people are free to do bad things if they want to, except for how the rest of us react (with laws and stuff.)

Why would I want to be moral anyway?

Self-interest. We know from game theory (a branch of mathematics) that egalitarian, moral behavior is advantageous in most situations.

And honestly? In most situations where it's against self-interest to be moral, people act immorally. They steal pens from work. They take a penny from the tray but never put one in. People don't always follow their self-interest, and there are situations where society conditions us to act against self-interest for the good of all. Some say that's even in our genetics.

but say I meet a very rich, total stranger in the middle of nowhere. Why would I not just take his money and leave him to die?

You tell me. Why wouldn't you? Maybe because you hope that others wouldn't do that to you? It's called "empathy." It's just the ability to imagine yourself in another person's situation. I don't want to get stolen from - so I help society develop and enforce rules against stealing, even though they mean that I can't steal things for myself.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Neutralmind, posted 05-16-2007 1:56 PM Neutralmind has taken no action

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 735 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 16 of 41 (400804)
05-16-2007 7:25 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Neutralmind
05-16-2007 6:22 PM


I have no idea where this fails

An argument of the form:

If A, then B
therefore B

is invalid until you first accept, or defend, A as a premise. If B is contingent on A then B is not true until A is true. If A is unknown, it can't be used to conclude B.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Neutralmind, posted 05-16-2007 6:22 PM Neutralmind has taken no action

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 735 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 18 of 41 (402938)
05-30-2007 7:50 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by Neutralmind
05-30-2007 5:49 PM


Re: Back again
But moreover what's the benefit of having empathy, for me?

That other people will continue to have it for you?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by Neutralmind, posted 05-30-2007 5:49 PM Neutralmind has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by Neutralmind, posted 05-30-2007 8:37 PM crashfrog has taken no action

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 735 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 23 of 41 (402995)
05-31-2007 10:18 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by Neutralmind
05-31-2007 6:44 AM


Re: Back again
So, in the future, why should I help anyone else to get by when it helps me in no way?

Because it does help you. You curry good favor with others. You create a reputation of kindness.

From reiterative game theory - and just frickin' sense - we know that people tend to follow the "reverse Golden rule": do unto others as they just did unto you. People are helpful to you because you've been helpful to them. If you cease to act with empathy towards others, people are going to cease to act with empathy towards you.

And I don't understand why you think that's meaningless. If you're saying that you've never, ever benefited from another person's empathy, I'd say you're either not thinking hard enough or just plain dishonest. People don't treat the unsympathetic well. They have a strong evolutionary reason not to.

That's what everyone else is doing and they don't seem to be carrying any "emotional baggage".

You're just being ridiculous. That's not at all how most people are.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by Neutralmind, posted 05-31-2007 6:44 AM Neutralmind has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by Neutralmind, posted 05-31-2007 8:37 PM crashfrog has replied

  
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 735 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 27 of 41 (403128)
05-31-2007 9:15 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by Neutralmind
05-31-2007 8:37 PM


Re: Back again
So you're saying most people will help others even when it's very unconvenient, and there's nothing to gain for themselves?

They do it all the time here in the Midwest USA. Maybe it's a culture thing? I was led to believe that the Finns are a very generous people.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by Neutralmind, posted 05-31-2007 8:37 PM Neutralmind has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by Neutralmind, posted 06-01-2007 8:39 PM crashfrog has taken no action

  
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