Author Topic: Do you believe in objective morality?  (Read 23235 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Do you believe in objective morality?
« on: June 07, 2018, 04:57:57 PM »
Most, if not pretty much all, religious people do believe in an objective morality determined by their god. Among the non-religious, it's more mixed. For example, Sam Harris has infamously argued for an objective morality based on science, which Sean Carroll has scolded him for.

The former chairman of the Swedish Humanist Association in some interview stated that he was agnostic ont he issue, so there is that position to take as well.

Me, I don't believe in objective morality, or moral realism as it is called in philosophical circles. I'm a convinced Humean (ahh, David Hume, my philosophical hero...). Of all the subjects that are out there, arguing for moral non-realism and for atheism are the stances I would feel most comfortable and confident to defend.

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2018, 05:01:48 PM »
Most, if not pretty much all, religious people do believe in an objective morality determined by their god. Among the non-religious, it's more mixed. For example, Sam Harris has infamously argued for an objective morality based on science, which Sean Carroll has scolded him for.

The former chairman of the Swedish Humanist Association in some interview stated that he was agnostic ont he issue, so there is that position to take as well.

Me, I don't believe in objective morality, or moral realism as it is called in philosophical circles. I'm a convinced Humean (ahh, David Hume, my philosophical hero...). Of all the subjects that are out there, arguing for moral non-realism and for atheism are the stances I would feel most comfortable and confident to defend.

First:  no.

I once told a Christian that morality was an entirely human construct, and he told me that morality pre-dated humans.
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Offline Nosmas

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2018, 05:07:56 PM »
I think it depends on how you define morality. If it's just whatever results in the maximum good while producing the minimum bad then I think it can be objective similar to how Harris describes. Problem is you can't always know the choice that's the most good even though that choice exists.
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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2018, 06:18:22 PM »
No but we should probably act as though there is.

Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2018, 06:51:10 PM »
No.  But we should develop a framework which could serve as one just to keep things orderly.  Not sure how to go about that or what it should be built around/for.

Personally, I feel like the world would be a much better place if everyone was like The Dude. Just really laid back and unaggressive. 
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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2018, 09:25:08 PM »
No.  But we should develop a framework which could serve as one just to keep things orderly.  Not sure how to go about that or what it should be built around/for.

Personally, I feel like the world would be a much better place if everyone was like The Dude. Just really laid back and unaggressive.

Sadly, we would not have most of technology beyond fire and maybe agriculture (which in early stages can be an inspired kind of lazy) if we were all like the Dude.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2018, 09:28:03 PM »
There is no such thing as objective morality. The fact that different people can consider different things moral and immoral demonstrates that morality can only be subjective. If someone claims that morality predates humanity then I'd have to ask them to give me their definition of morality.
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2018, 09:33:18 PM »
I tend to go with the Dan Dennett view that the brain is a set of survival probability evaluator engines that evolved at different points. Languages evolved after that.

My take is that morality is a set of language-based expressions, in religious, philosophical and scientific language, for competing probabilistic survival "bets." Peacemaking works sometimes, and we have various language expressions for that. Fighting works sometimes and we have language for that. Empathy works sometimes and we have language for that. Sexual rule-making works sometimes, and we have language for that.

I like to say that "good people disagree" because our own brain argues with itself about these things, arriving at different conclusions. Some of my survival "morality" memes are there because the usually worked in the past, and others are like the body's appendix, still around, but for perhaps obsolete reasons.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2018, 09:59:35 PM »
Our current form of "Western" morality came about because it is a set of rules that make a society run smoothly. We've been doing society for a while now and we've got pretty good at it.
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Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2018, 10:31:01 PM »
Sadly, we would not have most of technology beyond fire and maybe agriculture (which in early stages can be an inspired kind of lazy) if we were all like the Dude.

I think we're remembering the character very differently.  What I remember is him being unaggressive, relaxed, easy-going and satisfied with little. 
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2018, 09:18:12 AM »
I used to have strong feelings about morality, until I realized that my best friends, who I regard as profoundly good people, engage in acts I considered profoundly immoral. Then I reflected on the fact that the specifics of morality are so diverse that "objective morality" is an untenable position.

We have a very powerful urge to classify whatever annoys or hurts us as "immoral," and whatever pleases or benefits us as "moral." So there's a strong psychological need to believe in morality. But it's internal, not external.

So, no, there's no objective morality.

I do believe that being nice to people, avoiding cruelty, and trying to minimize one's impact on the environment are conducive to a peaceful, prosperous society which benefits us generally.
Daniel
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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2018, 09:33:07 AM »
No. Objective morality requires an objective observer.

We can derive a workable placeholder, but it will not be a objective, and will sitll occasionally stalemate, e.g. the Trolley Problem.
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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2018, 09:37:37 AM »
There is no such thing as objective morality. The fact that different people can consider different things moral and immoral demonstrates that morality can only be subjective. If someone claims that morality predates humanity then I'd have to ask them to give me their definition of morality.
For me it was more the realization that whether I consider an act moral or immoral depends a lot on the circumstances.  Which then led me to realize that what it depends on varies a lot by the person you ask. 


Is killing immoral?  Most everyone except maybe the Jains would say, "It depends"

Offline John Albert

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2018, 05:36:28 PM »
The fact that different people can consider different things moral and immoral demonstrates that morality can only be subjective.

Does the fact that different people can hold different beliefs about the nature of Universe demonstrate that the nature of Universe can only be subjective?

Some theories of morality, like the various forms of ethical naturalism, are indeed objective though not everyone agrees on them.


If someone claims that morality predates humanity then I'd have to ask them to give me their definition of morality.

Some aspects of morality can be observed in non-human animals such as chimpanzees and even dogs.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2018, 06:00:06 PM »
If someone claims that morality predates humanity then I'd have to ask them to give me their definition of morality.

Anyone who believes that morality is determined by their favorite magic man in the sky would probably say it pre-dates humanity. This would include the western monotheistic religions.
Daniel
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