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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Question for moral objectivists
    #1622103 - 06/09/03 10:28 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

If there are indeed universal morals--things which are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes--is it possible to know what these morals are? If so, how?


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"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


Edited by silversoul7 (06/09/03 10:28 PM)


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Offline11polakie11
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1622111 - 06/09/03 10:30 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

if you are talking universal in the physically cosmic sense then a comprehensive anthropological comparison between ever cultuer on this planet and every other would be necessarily.

if your speaking of universality in the planetary sense, you can perhaps attriube unversal morals to those which appear in every culture which has appeared and (and left record of its ethics) on this planet


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: 11polakie11]
    #1622125 - 06/09/03 10:34 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

By universal, I don't mean that everyone agrees with them. I mean that they are true no matter what, even if an individual does not believe it.


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1622137 - 06/09/03 10:39 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

silversoul7 asks:

If there are indeed universal morals--things which are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes--is it possible to know what these morals are?

Yes.

If so, how?

1) Through observation of the physical laws of the universe and their relation to human existence

2) Through the application of reason (specifically logic) to the above

pinky



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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Phred]
    #1622150 - 06/09/03 10:42 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

1) Through observation of the physical laws of the universe and their relation to human existence

2) Through the application of reason (specifically logic) to the above



Care to provide an example of using this process to come to a moral judgement?


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1622221 - 06/09/03 11:00 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

It would be impossible for a set of universal morals to be found In Todays world. I base that on the fact that, theres so many cultures and ways of life, that there could be No agreement amoung the myriad. Now if this:

"1) Through observation of the physical laws of the universe and their relation to human existence

2) Through the application of reason (specifically logic) to the above"

was applied way back when humans first were on the earth, then perhaps a set of True moral values could be establish, and passed on. But that is not a possibility now.


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OfflineCleverName
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1622415 - 06/10/03 12:01 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

there are no universal morals...although society needs certain morals standards to avoid chaos...


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: CleverName]
    #1622458 - 06/10/03 12:19 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

there are no universal morals...although society needs certain morals standards to avoid chaos...



I agree, but I'm trying to get some feedback from people who see things differently.


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1622472 - 06/10/03 12:22 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

There are only 2 universal morals, at least as the definition of morals seems to fall within this conversation... To quote Tom Robbins.

"Believe in nothing; everything is sacred."
"Believe in everything; nothing is sacred."


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: 2Experimental]
    #1623089 - 06/10/03 06:59 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

2Experimental writes:

It would be impossible for a set of universal morals to be found In Todays world. I base that on the fact that, theres so many cultures and ways of life, that there could be No agreement amoung the myriad.

You appear to be conflating "customs" and "tradition" with ethics. Further, something may be objectively immoral without being acknowledged as such by a given society -- see slavery and human sacrifice as just two examples of this.

Now if this:

"1) Through observation of the physical laws of the universe and their relation to human existence

2) Through the application of reason (specifically logic) to the above"

was applied way back when humans first were on the earth, then perhaps a set of True moral values could be establish, and passed on. But that is not a possibility now.


Why is it not a possibility now? If a given action was immoral when the population of the earth was a few thousand, by what process does it become moral when the population increases to a few billion? How have the physical laws of the universe and their relation to humans changed from then until now? How have the laws of logic changed from then until now?

pinky


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Phred]
    #1623192 - 06/10/03 09:17 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Say it is immoral to murder in any context. How would it come about that this is an 'objective' immoral action by your process?


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Phred]
    #1623701 - 06/10/03 03:04 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Pinksharkmark writes:

"You appear to be conflating "customs" and "tradition" with ethics. Further, something may be objectively immoral without being acknowledged as such by a given society -- see slavery and human sacrifice as just two examples of this."

The question was about a UNIVERSAL set of ethics, and would it be possible to know them. I wasent comparing tradition or custom with ethics. Im saying that with so many cultures and ways of life in todays world it would be impossible to do . The fact that "something may be objectivly immoral without being acknowledged" has no bearing here on this discussion, because to even find something everyone can agree on, you would HAVE to use logic and reason, which would therefore require such acts as human sacrifice and slavery to BE acknowledged.... but it would never happen like I said. Your argument has no case to me


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: 2Experimental]
    #1624117 - 06/10/03 06:13 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

2Experimental writes:

The question was about a UNIVERSAL set of ethics, and would it be possible to know them.

And the answer is, YES, it is possible to discover objective ethical principles which are equally applicable (i.e. apply universally) to all humans, whether any particular group of humans have discovered (or acknowledged) them yet. It is no different from the law of gravity -- it applies universally, even to those who have as yet no concept of its workings.

Im saying that with so many cultures and ways of life in todays world it would be impossible to do .

I realize that this is what you have asserted with no backup. I ask again that you demonstrate to us the procedure by which you determined that a set of ethical principles for a human population of, say, a million people distributed over a hundred cultures was valid, yet when applied to a billion souls distributed over a thousand cultures the same set suddenly becomes invalid.

The fact that "something may be objectivly immoral without being acknowledged" has no bearing here on this discussion...

Incorrect. It has every bearing on this discussion. Re-read the question posed in the very first post in this thread.

...because to even find something everyone can agree on, you would HAVE to use logic and reason...

The question was not "can we find something that everyone can agree on", the question asked was " is it possible to know what these morals are? If so, how?" It is in fact possible, and I outlined the process by which the possibility is to be actualized. The possibility that certain groups may choose not to use logic and reason in order to determine an objective ethics (but instead rely on divine revelation or tradition or the will of the majority to arrive at a subjective set of ethics) does not alter the fact that objective ethics exist and can be (and have been repeatedly) discovered by any individual or group which cares to expend the effort.

pinky


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: enotake2]
    #1624188 - 06/10/03 06:41 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

enotake writes:

Say it is immoral to murder in any context. How would it come about that this is an 'objective' immoral action by your process?

In order to determine whether or not any individual may morally take the life of another individual (i.e. has the right to kill another), we first must determine what rights each individual has. And in order to determine THAT, we must first determine whether an individual has ANY rights at all. Therefore, the question that must be answered correctly before any of the others further up the logical chain can be addressed is: What are "rights" and do humans have them?

I'll supply a definition that most reasonable people would not disagree with:

A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a human's freedom of action in a SOCIAL context -- in the absence of other humans, no restrictions on actions are necessary.

Note that the concept of a "right" pertains only to ACTION -- specifically, to FREEDOM of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference (including, obviously, freedom from being murdered) by other humans.

Rights are conditions of existence required by a human's nature for his proper survival. If a human is to live, it is RIGHT for him to use his mind, it is RIGHT to act on his own free judgement, it is RIGHT to work for his values and to keep the products of his work. If life is his purpose, he has a RIGHT to live as a rational being. Any group, any gang, any nation that attempts to negate a human's rights is WRONG.

There is only one FUNDAMENTAL right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): an individual's right to his own life. It is an objectively verifiable fact that life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life therefore necessarily means the right to engage in such action -- which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being (in the case of humans) for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If one rejects the premise that it is right for a human once born to attempt to continue to survive, then there is no need for any kind of discussion regarding ethics, subjective or objective.

For every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a POSITIVE -- of his freedom to act on his own judgement, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a NEGATIVE kind: to abstain from violating his rights (by murdering him, for example).

The concept of "rights" is the concept that provides the logical transition from the principles guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others (ethics). It is the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context -- the link between the moral code of an individual and the legal code of a society, the link between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.

An individual holds rights, not FROM "The Collective" nor FOR The Collective, but AGAINST The Collective -- as a barrier which The Collective cannot cross. These rights are a human's protection against all other humans.

To violate the rights of an individual (by murdering him, for example) is to interfere with the series of actions by which he sustains his existence. The only way to pretend that this violation is objectively moral is to claim that no individual has any rights at all.

pinky


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1624393 - 06/10/03 08:40 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

My father used to say that we ALL know what is right and what is wrong inside. Given the apparent subjectivity of those still small voices within us, I feel that no, there are no universal objective absolutes. We just all know whats right in our hearts, even if our hearts sometimes disagree. I only doubt this when I read Dostoyevsky! :wink: 


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Phred]
    #1624399 - 06/10/03 08:43 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Are you ever going to give me an example like I asked for?


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1624558 - 06/10/03 09:36 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

you ask for something unanswerable im afraid


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: 2Experimental]
    #1624598 - 06/10/03 09:49 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

I figured as much. The way I see it, all morals lie on some unprovable premise about the value of something, such as life. You cannot prove that something is objectively valuable--only that it is valuable to someone or something, therefore making its value subjective. In order for something to be objectively moral, you would have to presuppose a deity to whom things have value.


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"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


Edited by silversoul7 (06/10/03 09:55 PM)


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1624603 - 06/10/03 09:51 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

if you read and comprehend pinkshark's last post then you can see that which furthers your survival and happiness without infringing on any other's survival and happiness is by default universally morally acceptable... fill in the blanks at will and then try to calculate the equation yourself. you will find that in today's world of billions of people and their complex relationships that it is literally impossible to do much of anything without infringing on someone's survival and pursuit of happiness somewhere either directly or indirectly. such is the concept of the Moby's album "Everything is Wrong". I shall give you an example of a universally moral action: being a communal farmer.


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: debianlinux]
    #1626196 - 06/11/03 01:19 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Bump for pinksharkmark


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1628718 - 06/12/03 01:26 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Bump again. You gonna respond or what, pinky?


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1629357 - 06/12/03 06:37 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Respond to what? Just because I didn't specifically write in my response to enotake2 -- "silversoul7 please take note" -- you chose not to read it?

You had asked me: "Care to provide an example of using this process to come to a moral judgement?" The explanation of why murder is objectively wrong is such an example. I suggest you read it.

Next, I find your "reasoning" to be particularly specious. You start the thread by asking, "If there are indeed universal morals--things which are RIGHT or WRONG no matter what an individual believes--is it possible to know what these morals are?" When I show that there are in fact actions taken by humans which are right and wrong no matter what any given individual may believe, you change the rules of the game to a standard that is literally impossible to fulfill --

"The way I see it, all morals lie on some unprovable premise about the value of something, such as life. You cannot prove that something is objectively valuable--only that it is valuable to someone or something, therefore making its value subjective. In order for something to be objectively moral, you would have to presuppose a deity to whom things have value."

Note that by bumping the responsibility of morality "upstairs" to some imaginary "deity", you make the meaning of human morals a null concept. If you wanted to just outright state that there is no such thing as a "right" or a "wrong" human action because by your exclusionary definition only deities can act "rightly or "wrongly", why didn't you say that at the beginning and save me a lot of typing?

Let me pick this nonsense apart in a bit more detail --

... all morals lie on some unprovable premise about the value of something, such as life.

A human's life has no value, not even to that human? If you truly believe this, do us all a favor -- lie down on the floor and take no further action for the rest of your life (which will then be pretty short). After all, your argument is that your own life has no value, not even to yourself, right? Before you do this, however, PM me for details on my real name and address so you can leave all your worldly goods to me, please.

You must have missed the part in my reply to enotake2 where I stated, "If one rejects the premise that it is right for a human once born to attempt to continue to survive, then there is no need for any kind of discussion regarding ethics, subjective or objective."

You cannot prove that something is objectively valuable--only that it is valuable to someone or something...

Well, duh! In the absence of living entities, of course "value" is a null concept. Stars and gas clouds and rocks and mountains have no need of the concept of "value". Need I remind you that your original question dealt not with stars and gas clouds, but with "things that are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes" ? Was I wrong in assuming that by "individual" you were referring to a human rather than to Tau Ceti?

... therefore making its value subjective.

See above. When discussing non-living entities, there is no such concept as "subjective", let alone "value".

In order for something to be objectively moral, you would have to presuppose a deity to whom things have value.

Again, you have things 180 degrees out of whack. To an omniscient and omnipotent and immortal deity, NOTHING is of value or not of value. Everything just IS. Such a deity can do no "wrong" -- to such a deity, "morality" is a nonsense word. To lving entities, however, "value" is the key concept. If a living entity fails to acquire and keep the values it requires to maintain its existence, it no longer exists.

I repeat -- "If a human is to live, it is RIGHT for him to use his mind, it is RIGHT to act on his own free judgment, it is RIGHT to work for his values and to keep the products of his work."

pinky


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Invisiblesilversoul7
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Phred]
    #1629681 - 06/12/03 08:55 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Next, I find your "reasoning" to be particularly specious. You start the thread by asking, "If there are indeed universal morals--things which are RIGHT or WRONG no matter what an individual believes--is it possible to know what these morals are?" When I show that there are in fact actions taken by humans which are right and wrong no matter what any given individual may believe, you change the rules of the game to a standard that is literally impossible to fulfill --

"The way I see it, all morals lie on some unprovable premise about the value of something, such as life. You cannot prove that something is objectively valuable--only that it is valuable to someone or something, therefore making its value subjective. In order for something to be objectively moral, you would have to presuppose a deity to whom things have value."



That was commentary. I was not "changing the rules of the game," whatever that means, unless of course you mean that I was taking a thread that started out as a question and turning it into a debate, which I intended to do all along.

Quote:

A human's life has no value, not even to that human? If you truly believe this, do us all a favor -- lie down on the floor and take no further action for the rest of your life (which will then be pretty short). After all, your argument is that your own life has no value, not even to yourself, right? Before you do this, however, PM me for details on my real name and address so you can leave all your worldly goods to me, please.



You're missing my point. My life does, of course, have value to me, but that doesn't mean that it is OBJECTIVELY valuable. The universe will go on just fine without me when I'm gone. It would only be a loss to me and those close to me.

Quote:

Well, duh! In the absence of living entities, of course "value" is a null concept. Stars and gas clouds and rocks and mountains have no need of the concept of "value". Need I remind you that your original question dealt not with stars and gas clouds, but with "things that are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes" ? Was I wrong in assuming that by "individual" you were referring to a human rather than to Tau Ceti?



Interesting...here seem to almost admit that value is subjective. If value is subjective and morals are based on value, then it follows that morals are subjective. Therefore, right and wrong are based entirely on what an individual believes.


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Edited by silversoul7 (06/12/03 08:58 PM)


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1629892 - 06/12/03 10:15 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

silversoul7 writes:

That was commentary.

No, that was not commentary. It was sophistry. Why bother to even ask "is there such a thing as right or wrong" when in the next breath you demonstrate quite plainly that no matter what response you receive you will reject it because you "feel" (with absolutely no supporting argument) that right and wrong are applicable only to deities?

My life does, of course, have value to me, but that doesn't mean that it is OBJECTIVELY valuable.

Suppose you discover the cure for cancer or AIDS, or invent a workable form of cold fusion?

The universe will go on just fine without me when I'm gone.

Of course it will. It does not automatically follow that killing you on a whim is moral. You really must stop conflating "values" and "morals". The two concepts are not equivalent.

Interesting...here seem to almost admit that value is subjective.

Nope... merely pointing out that "value" is a null concept to non-living entities. That is not the same thing at all.

I repeat -- to non-living entities, "value", "morals", "ethics", "right", "wrong", free will", "choice", "subjective" and a host of other concepts are simply inapplicable.

If value is subjective and morals are based on value, then it follows that morals are subjective.

But "value" is not subjective -- to humans. And it is not properly speaking "subjective" to non-living entities either; rather, it is inapplicable. Do you not understand the term "null concept"?

Therefore, right and wrong are based entirely on what an individual believes.

Incorrect. Slavery is objectively immoral. Human sacrifice is objectively immoral. Theft is objectively immoral. To murder a random stranger on a whim is objectively immoral. The beliefs of the individuals committing these acts matter not a whit to the immorality of the acts.

pinky


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Phred]
    #1629951 - 06/12/03 10:39 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

No, that was not commentary. It was sophistry. Why bother to even ask "is there such a thing as right or wrong" when in the next breath you demonstrate quite plainly that no matter what response you receive you will reject it because you "feel" (with absolutely no supporting argument) that right and wrong are applicable only to deities?



Show me where I said that right and wrong only apply to deities.

Quote:

Suppose you discover the cure for cancer or AIDS, or invent a workable form of cold fusion?



There are still people who won't care, or might even be glad that I'm gone.

Quote:

But "value" is not subjective -- to humans. And it is not properly speaking "subjective" to non-living entities either; rather, it is inapplicable. Do you not understand the term "null concept"?



I understand that it is inapplicable to non-living entities, but how is it not subjective to humans? I value things which others don't. How is that not subjective?

Quote:

Incorrect. Slavery is objectively immoral. Human sacrifice is objectively immoral. Theft is objectively immoral. To murder a random stranger on a whim is objectively immoral. The beliefs of the individuals committing these acts matter not a whit to the immorality of the acts.



If slavery is objectively immoral, then it must be immoral to own domesticated animals. If human sacrifice is objectively immoral then no war can ever be morally justified. If theft is objectively immoral, then it must be immoral to milk a cow. Correct?


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1630048 - 06/12/03 11:40 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

silversoul7 writes:

Show me where I said that right and wrong only apply to deities.

"In order for something to be objectively moral, you would have to presuppose a deity to whom things have value."

There are still people who won't care, or might even be glad that I'm gone.

The fact that not every single human on the planet mourns your passing doesn't mean that your life was valueless. Remember your original stipulation at the very beginning of the thread -- "...things which are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes". If you did in fact discover the cure for cancer, your life would have been of value to more than just you and your loved ones no matter what any given individual may believe.

Besides, to get back to your original question, the fact that you may never discover the cure for cancer still doesn't mean that anyone may morally take your life on a whim. Stop conflating "value" with "moral". I repeat, the two concepts are not equivalent.

I understand that it is inapplicable to non-living entities, but how is it not subjective to humans? I value things which others don't. How is that not subjective?

Re-read your first question in the thread. Note the use of the word "universal". Then re-read what I wrote. Then try to grasp that just because you personally choose to arbitrarily assign a degree of value to a given object (such as the sentimental value connected to the saved ticket stub from your first concert, for example) to which I may assign a lesser value does not mean that universal values do not exist. To all humans, food, water, shelter, tools, medicines, fire, freedom of action, rational thought, etc. are objective values -- whether or not one chooses to acknowledge them as such.

If slavery is objectively immoral, then it must be immoral to own domesticated animals.

Why do you insist on dragging into the discussion entities to which the term "morality" is a null concept? You won't even agree that there is such a thing as right or wrong for humans (or anyone other than deities, for that matter). How about we settle that issue before we move on to the animal kingdom?

If human sacrifice is objectively immoral then no war can ever be morally justified.

You know, I had originally typed "religious human sacrifice", then eliminated the "religious" part because I figured everyone would know what I meant. Guess I was wrong. As for the assertion that no war can ever be morally justified, that is hogwash. It is immoral to resist a conquering army? Yeah, right!

If theft is objectively immoral, then it must be immoral to milk a cow. Correct?

See my previous comment about the animal kingdom.

You are reaching. You are attempting to pick at trivialities and peripheral issues rather than attempting to refute my demonstration of the objective immorality of murder. Face it -- the only way you can logically claim that there is no such thing as an objective right or wrong in the context of human society is to assert that any human may morally be killed at any time for any reason by any other human. As I have said before, if you truly believe this to be the case (with still no supporting reasoning presented) then it is no surprise that your political leaning is Socialist.

pinky


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Phred]
    #1630114 - 06/13/03 12:10 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

Show me where I said that right and wrong only apply to deities.

"In order for something to be objectively moral, you would have to presuppose a deity to whom things have value."



The key word here is "objectively." Subjectivity isn't the same as non-existence.

Quote:

The fact that not every single human on the planet mourns your passing doesn't mean that your life was valueless. Remember your original stipulation at the very beginning of the thread -- "...things which are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes". If you did in fact discover the cure for cancer, your life would have been of value to more than just you and your loved ones no matter what any given individual may believe.



I never said my life was valueless. It's just not valuable to everybody, and is therefore subjectively valuable.

Quote:

Re-read your first question in the thread. Note the use of the word "universal". Then re-read what I wrote. Then try to grasp that just because you personally choose to arbitrarily assign a degree of value to a given object (such as the sentimental value connected to the saved ticket stub from your first concert, for example) to which I may assign a lesser value does not mean that universal values do not exist. To all humans, food, water, shelter, tools, medicines, fire, freedom of action, rational thought, etc. are objective values -- whether or not one chooses to acknowledge them as such.



Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "universal," since the implication of that is more intersubjective rather than objective. The things you list are intersubjective values, not objective. This means that even if they do apply to every person, they still apply subjectively to those people, and are not necessarily objectively valuable. Also, they all are only valuable to someone who values their own life, and certainly not everyone does, or else there would be no such thing as suicide.

Quote:

Face it -- the only way you can logically claim that there is no such thing as an objective right or wrong in the context of human society is to assert that any human may morally be killed at any time for any reason by any other human.



"In the context of human society" IS a subjective context. And just because something is not immoral does not mean that is moral. As for my socialist beliefs, I held such beliefs long before I came to believe in moral subjectivism.

I admit that I was reaching a bit with the last part of the post. It would have been more appropriate of me to ask you to explain how you came to the conclusions that you did about what is objectively immoral.

Anyway, I thought I might add a dictionary definition into this discussion:

objective
adjective: undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena

Philosophers throughout the centuries have struggled with how to get around subjectivity to the objective. You see, as long as you exist as a person, you have personal bias, no matter what. Even Descartes could not get around this without bringing God into the equation, along with an unsuccessful attempt to prove the existence of God.


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"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire


Edited by silversoul7 (06/13/03 12:14 AM)


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1630239 - 06/13/03 01:20 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

The key word here is "objectively." Subjectivity isn't the same as non-existence.

And the key word here is the one you are consistently misusing. In the context of human society, which is what this discussion is about -- since "morality" is a null concept to stars and rocks and bacteria and honeybees and falcons -- "objective" means undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena. It is an observable phenomenon undistorted by emotion or personal bias that when humans are prevented by other humans from acquiring and keeping that which they need to continue to exist, they cease to exist. If humans cease to exist, so does the concept of morality. Get it? No humans, no morality.

I never said my life was valueless. It's just not valuable to everybody, and is therefore subjectively valuable.

Yet again you ignore my caution not to conflate "value" with "morality". THE TWO CONCEPTS ARE NOT EQUIVALENT!!!!

But (sigh) let's address your diversion one more time anyway. Even if you insist on claiming that the value of your life is subjective rather than addressing the point of whether or not someone has the right to kill you on a whim, if you father the child who discovers the cure for AIDS, your life will have had an objective value to the entire human race -- whether any given member of the human race realizes that or not.

Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "universal," since the implication of that is more intersubjective rather than objective. The things you list are intersubjective values, not objective. This means that even if they do apply to every person, they still apply subjectively to those people, and are not necessarily objectively valuable.

So sorry, but that is semantic hair-splitting, if not outright gibberish. The things I listed are of objective value to every human being who has ever lived, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.

Also, they all are only valuable to someone who values their own life, and certainly not everyone does, or else there would be no such thing as suicide.

Before one may commit suicide, one must first survive long enough to make the decision to suicide. For that, one must acquire and keep values. Even then, the fact that one suicides does mean that the things on my list are not objective values, all it means is that in the case of that particular individual, he (accurately or inaccurately) values the release from his problems more than he values the continuation of his existence. This does not negate the existence of those values or their validity, it merely indicates that particular individual's hierarchy of values.

Note that murdering yourself is not immoral, but murdering someone else is. Once again, I must insist that you stop sidetracking a discussion of morality into a discussion of value. The concept of "value" is necessary only to establish the concept of "moral" or "right and wrong" or "ethics". Once such a concept has been agreed upon by both sides the subsidiary underpinnings of the concept need no longer be referred to.

"In the context of human society" IS a subjective context.

No it is not. It is not subjective to clarify the context in which a word or phrase is being used, it is essential. Context is everything, but that doesn't mean that it is "subjective". As I have stated repeatedly, morality is a null concept outside the context of human society. What part of that statement are you having a hard time grasping? You appear to want to weasel out of a discussion about morality by defining it out of existence. Get serious or stop responding to this thread.

And just because something is not immoral does not mean that is moral.

Agreed. There is such a thing as morally neutral.

As for my socialist beliefs, I held such beliefs long before I came to believe in moral subjectivism.

Uh huh.

It would have been more appropriate of me to ask you to explain how you came to the conclusions that you did about what is objectively immoral.

Have you bothered to read my post to enotake regarding the objective immorality of murder?

Anyway, I thought I might add a dictionary definition into this discussion:

objective
adjective: undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena


It is an observable phenomena undistorted by emotion or personal bias that if humans are prevented by other humans from acquiring and keeping that which they need to continue to exist, they cease to exist. If humans cease to exist, so does the concept of morality. Get it? No humans, no morality.

Philosophers throughout the centuries have struggled with how to get around subjectivity to the objective.

Not all of them have. Read a few of the Enlightenment philosophers and see. You might want to start with Bastiat.

You see, as long as you exist as a person, you have personal bias, no matter what.

That does not alter the fact that no matter what your personal bias may be there are certain actions which in the context of human society are objectively immoral -- i.e. theft, rape and murder -- whether your bias permits you to recognize those acts as such or not. Your original question was not "How do we convince every human on the planet to grasp that certain actions are immoral", your original question was "If there are indeed universal morals--things which are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes--is it possible to know what these morals are? If so, how? "

I showed you how, and did so while scrupulously meeting the terms of the definition of "objective" that you provided above -- "undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena".

It is not emotion or personal bias that teaches us that humans deprived of the values needed for their existence cease to exist, it is observation.

Again, the only way you can claim that there is no such thing as universal right or wrong is to assert that a human may be deprived of his rights by another human at any time. There is no way to get around that. Once we agree that a human once born has the right to attempt to continue to exist, the rest logically follows.

I can't help but point out that you have somehow still managed to avoid providing a single shred of supporting argument (logical or otherwise) for your arbitrary assertion that a human has no right to attempt to continue to exist. Until you do, there is no point continuing. If you truly believe humans have no rights, then of course nothing I or anyone else says can demonstrate to you that there is any such thing as a "right" action or a "wrong" action.

pinky


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Phred]
    #1630509 - 06/13/03 03:30 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

No humans, no morality.



So if morality only applies to humans, does that mean that animal cruelty is not immoral?

Quote:

But (sigh) let's address your diversion one more time anyway. Even if you insist on claiming that the value of your life is subjective rather than addressing the point of whether or not someone has the right to kill you on a whim, if you father the child who discovers the cure for AIDS, your life will have had an objective value to the entire human race -- whether any given member of the human race realizes that or not.



By having the "right" to kill on a whim, I assume you mean the moral right. In my own subjective morality, I would consider this to be wrong because I value human life. But this does not mean that it is objectively wrong. It merely means that it is wrong in the eyes of those who consider that person's life to be something valuable(note: someone could value their own life without valuing human life in general). It is also bad for society for an individual to commit such acts, and such societal concerns are the basis for laws, which of course are not equivalent to morals. As for one's value to the human race, this is to assume that our survival as a race is important. It could be argued that the world would benefit greatly from the extinction of the human race, but of course for you, morality only applies to people, so of course this would not make it morally good.

Quote:

Note that murdering yourself is not immoral, but murdering someone else is. Once again, I must insist that you stop sidetracking a discussion of morality into a discussion of value. The concept of "value" is necessary only to establish the concept of "moral" or "right and wrong" or "ethics". Once such a concept has been agreed upon by both sides the subsidiary underpinnings of the concept need no longer be referred to.



I do not confuse morality with value, but recognize that the two are closely connected. Anyway, I will try to aim this discussion more towards morality from now on.

Quote:

No it is not. It is not subjective to clarify the context in which a word or phrase is being used, it is essential. Context is everything, but that doesn't mean that it is "subjective". As I have stated repeatedly, morality is a null concept outside the context of human society. What part of that statement are you having a hard time grasping? You appear to want to weasel out of a discussion about morality by defining it out of existence. Get serious or stop responding to this thread.



What if there are other sentient beings out there with a concept of morality? Does it not apply to them as well? If an intelligent alien with the capacity for reason were to observe our planet, would it consider the murder of a human being by another immoral? Or would it just deem it to be "nature's way" as we do with other animals?

Quote:

It is an observable phenomena undistorted by emotion or personal bias that if humans are prevented by other humans from acquiring and keeping that which they need to continue to exist, they cease to exist. If humans cease to exist, so does the concept of morality. Get it? No humans, no morality.



So if I set off a nuclear bomb and destroy the earth and everyone on it, I kill the concept of morality. Therefore, by killing morality, that makes my action morally irrelevant.

Quote:

That does not alter the fact that no matter what your personal bias may be there are certain actions which in the context of human society are objectively immoral -- i.e. theft, rape and murder -- whether your bias permits you to recognize those acts as such or not. Your original question was not "How do we convince every human on the planet to grasp that certain actions are immoral", your original question was "If there are indeed universal morals--things which are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes--is it possible to know what these morals are? If so, how? "



But since our personal bias is something that we cannot get past, it seems to me that it is impossible to judge morals objectively. In fact, judgement itself is a subjective action, taking place in the mind and affected by one's personal bias.

Quote:

I can't help but point out that you have somehow still managed to avoid providing a single shred of supporting argument (logical or otherwise) for your arbitrary assertion that a human has no right to attempt to continue to exist. Until you do, there is no point continuing. If you truly believe humans have no rights, then of course nothing I or anyone else says can demonstrate to you that there is any such thing as a "right" action or a "wrong" action.



I have never asserted that humans have no right to attempt to exist. "Rights" do not apply here. We either exist or we don't. There is no right or wrong involved in that. We continue our existence because that is what we are biologically programmed to do. There are no morals in that.


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: silversoul7]
    #1632905 - 06/14/03 11:55 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

silversoul7 writes:

So if morality only applies to humans, does that mean that animal cruelty is not immoral?

If there are no humans, who is it being cruel to the animals? Martians?

It merely means that it is wrong in the eyes of those who consider that person's life to be something valuable(note: someone could value their own life without valuing human life in general).

Once again, you are ignoring your own conditions that you set up at the very beginning of the thread. You asked --

"If there are indeed universal morals--things which are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes--is it possible to know what these morals are? If so, how?"

Now you try to define morality out of existence by saying that since there may exist somewhere someone who doesn't acknowledge the value of human life other than his own, there is therefore no "right" or "wrong". What happened to "no matter what an individual believes"? Do you also say that as long as there is someone somewhere who doesn't acknowledge the value of nutritious substances there is no such thing as food?

As for one's value to the human race, this is to assume that our survival as a race is important.

Morality has nothing to do with the survival of the race. It is just as immoral to murder a eunuch as it is to murder a pregnant woman.

It could be argued that the world would benefit greatly from the extinction of the human race, but of course for you, morality only applies to people, so of course this would not make it morally good.

Morality is a concept that is applicable only to rational beings. Morality is a null concept to rocks or bacteria or tigers. This is not just me saying this, it is all philosophers.

What if there are other sentient beings out there with a concept of morality? Does it not apply to them as well? If an intelligent alien with the capacity for reason were to observe our planet, would it consider the murder of a human being by another immoral? Or would it just deem it to be "nature's way" as we do with other animals?

Why do you insist on bringing the animal kingdom and imaginary beings from another planet into the discussion before we have settled the question at hand? Stay focused, please.

So if I set off a nuclear bomb and destroy the earth and everyone on it, I kill the concept of morality. Therefore, by killing morality, that makes my action morally irrelevant.

Clearly your action is immoral. Do you not understand the concept of "before" and "after"? Or the concept of "cause" and "effect"?

But since our personal bias is something that we cannot get past...

Incorrect.

...it seems to me that it is impossible to judge morals objectively. In fact, judgement itself is a subjective action, taking place in the mind and affected by one's personal bias.

Even if it were true that a given individual may have a difficult time arriving at a particular moral judgment, that does not change the fact that objective morality exists. How many times must I remind you of your own qualifier -- "no matter what an individual believes". The fact that Son of Sam didn't view his actions as immoral due to his personal bias doesn't mean that his actions weren't immoral.

Your question wasn't "If there are indeed universal morals--things which are right or wrong no matter what an individual believes--will every human on the planet recognize them and follow them?"

I have never asserted that humans have no right to attempt to exist.

Yes you have. You have claimed repeatedly in this thread alone that there is no such thing as a "right" human action and a "wrong" human action. If this is the case, then anyone at any time may prevent another human from attempting to exist, with no moral censure. In such a scenario, no one has any rights of any kind.

"Rights" do not apply here.

Absolutely incorrect. You haven't grasped the concept of "rights" and their relationship to human action. Re-read my answer to enotake.

We either exist or we don't.

We continue to exist because of the actions we take. That is the entire point of the whole discussion, dude. If we were immortal and continued to exist no matter what actions we took or didn't take, there would be no need for this discussion at all.

There is no right or wrong involved in that.

You have some very weird definition of right and wrong. You have in essence been arguing throughout this entire thread that there is no such thing as right or wrong (except to a deity). It is only the existence of humans that validates the concept of right and wrong. No humans, no right or wrong.

We continue our existence because that is what we are biologically programmed to do.

But we are not biologically "programmed" to do so in the way the less complex organisms are. Unlike bacteria or plants, humans are born with no knowledge of what actions we must take to survive. We have no inbuilt knowledge of which plant is nutritious and which is deadly poison, for example. Humans must choose to survive -- bacteria need not make such a choice, and indeed cannot. Bacteria act automatically, humans act volitionally.

There are no morals in that.

It is not immoral to attempt to continue to survive, nor is it immoral to decide to stop making the attempt -- see my earlier comments on suicide. What is immoral is to attempt to prevent another from attempting to survive.

Once again, we get down to what I have said several times in this thread -- the only way to pretend that there is no right or wrong is to claim that humans have no right to their own lives. Despite all your various ways of phrasing your comments, in essence this has been your "rebuttal" through the entire thread. Unless you can come up with some other assertion, there is no point continuing this discussion.

pinky


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Edited by pinksharkmark (06/14/03 12:01 PM)


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Phred]
    #1632917 - 06/14/03 12:14 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Quote:

the only way to pretend that there is no right or wrong is to claim that humans have no right to their own lives.




Amen to that. There are slave-ideologies on this planet that are still being propagated only because this simple fact is ignored.


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Re: Question for moral objectivists [Re: Rhizoid]
    #1632961 - 06/14/03 12:42 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

That was a very interesting post.... I learned a lot. It got me thinking for a while too.


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