Author Topic: Do you believe in objective morality?  (Read 22677 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #135 on: August 13, 2018, 03:43:48 PM »
My current understanding is such that morality usually goes with the zeigest of a society and members reach moral consensus that most benefits them. It constantly evolves with changes in people's mentality as observed in revolutions for same sex, weed or alcohol legalization efforts to name a couple of examples. I feel this inherently makes morality subjective even if it is intensely trying to be objective with evidence based moral decisions. There is also the concept of fairness in moral judgement, it is very hard to see these things in a purely objective way.

I don't you if you have read it, Richard Dawkins made that argument in The God Delusion, in order to show that morality is not dependent on religion, and not caused by religion. He uses the exact word "zeitgeist".

I agree with you and him, and I also think that it illustrates that morality is subjective. But it seems to be driven in more humanitarian directions by very real social forces.

I probably stole it from him.

And yes, current morality is definitely evolving in more humanitarian directions (are we talking secular humanism?). I agree with you agreeing with me LOL, this is of course completely subjective.

Maybe. Dawkins doesn't use the term "secular humanism" in the passage as far as I recall. But his point is simply that religion doesn't drive this moral zeitgeist, and is not necessary to explain it either.

Indeed - I mean how could religion even accomplish the same achievements in the last 200 years? Religion had had its opportunity to do its thang for many centuries and essentially remained stagnant.

The best case I can think of that would favor religion is the Islamic golden age period. Then again, it took some personal secular liberties for Islamic thinkers to get anywhere - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age.

I wouldn't credit Islam for that golden age, just like I wouldn't credit Christianity for the European Enlightenment. In the latter, while some were Christians of a mainstream sort, others were not, and some were outright non-believers. The same goes for the Islamic Golden Age. Some were mainstream Muslims, some were heterodox Muslims, and some were outright non-believers. The thinkers of these periods, whatever their beliefs, often faced opposition from mainstream orthodoxy.

Offline John Albert

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #136 on: August 13, 2018, 04:16:35 PM »
When you break it down, simply put, morality is whatever is most convenient in the society.

I mostly disagree with this statement. Morality seldom has anything to do with "convenience."


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There's nothing in the definition of "objective" or in the definition of "morality" that necessitates that it must be universally agreeable to all cultures or all beings in the entire Universe. Hence, multiple objective moral systems can coexist.

I can understand the first sentence. But I don't see where you get the connection that leads you to the second sentence.

Is there such a thing as an objective evaluation? Can multiple objective evaluations coexist?

Heat, for example, is a feature of the universe that we can objectively measure by a number of different metrics. We have various scales for measuring temperature, thermal density, thermal conductivity, etc.; these metrics facilitate objective measurements of different aspects of the same phenomenon, but don't necessarily agree on a 1:1 basis.

It's far from a perfect metaphor, but the same observation can be made of morality. The diversity of human cultures have devised countless objectifications of their respective moral values (ie. legal codes, ethical guidelines, moral edicts, etc.). All these systems are objective in the sense that everybody can agree if whether a given act is in violation or not, even if all observers don't hold all the same values themselves.


Yes, cultures can have norms that are wrong according to evidence (e.i: rejection of evolution by creationists).

The "evolution versus creationism" debate is not a moral disagreement. It's an argument about empirical facts. One argument is supported by evidence and the other isn't.


And yes, conflict arises in morals held by humans throughout the world (e.i: hardcore conservative vs progressive liberal). The issue I am having is when you combine the two terms. I honestly still don't think the concept of "objective morality" has been sufficiently explained. That line of thinking also presupposes there is such a thing as objective morality. To me, objective morality cannot change - but our understanding of the world is constantly changing. The additional knowledge often than not impacts moral systems, in a very big way.

"Objective" simply means something holds true for all observers. There are different ways in which something might be considered as "objective." It doesn't necessarily mean that everybody has to agree with the fact or abide by it. It simply must hold true for them.

To repeat an example I've already cited numerous times throughout this argument: Written laws are an objectification of morality. In many jurisdictions around the world, the possession and use of marijuana is a violation of criminal law. In those jurisdictions the illegality of marijuana is an objective fact, even though some individuals may personally hold the belief that smoking pot is morally okay and even beneficial.

In that sense, objective morality certainly exists.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 04:34:13 PM by John Albert »

Offline haudace

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #137 on: August 13, 2018, 05:58:36 PM »
I wouldn't credit Islam for that golden age, just like I wouldn't credit Christianity for the European Enlightenment. In the latter, while some were Christians of a mainstream sort, others were not, and some were outright non-believers. The same goes for the Islamic Golden Age. Some were mainstream Muslims, some were heterodox Muslims, and some were outright non-believers. The thinkers of these periods, whatever their beliefs, often faced opposition from mainstream orthodoxy.

I would have to agree somewhat, it did require free thinkers to shy away from religious doctrine to birth that enlightenment period.

When you break it down, simply put, morality is whatever is most convenient in the society.

I mostly disagree with this statement. Morality seldom has anything to do with "convenience."

Except that it is - it's like how that saying goes: morality is for the good of society.

I guess I should have worded my sentence better. Revision: When you break it down, simply put, morality is whatever seems most convenient in the society.
That should cover people doing horrible things to each other on some very strange moral grounds.

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Is there such a thing as an objective evaluation? Can multiple objective evaluations coexist?

Heat, for example, is a feature of the universe that we can objectively measure by a number of different metrics. We have various scales for measuring temperature, thermal density, thermal conductivity, etc.; these metrics facilitate objective measurements of different aspects of the same phenomenon, but don't necessarily agree on a 1:1 basis.

It's far from a perfect metaphor, but the same observation can be made of morality. The diversity of human cultures have devised countless objectifications of their respective moral values (ie. legal codes, ethical guidelines, moral edicts, etc.).

I don't see why that would mean morality is objective rather than subjective.

The issue I have mainly with this line of reasoning can be summed up in the problem of universals. I think this Wikipedia will articulate my feelings / thoughts on this matter better: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_universals.
My major beef is the elevation of morality into some sort of supernatural ideal status and then reasoned into existence. Why go through that troublesome exercise? Morality is perfectly fine being described as rules of society which changes with the spirit of the times as history has indicated on multiple numerous occasions.

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All these systems are objective in the sense that everybody can agree if whether a given act is in violation or not, even if all observers don't hold all the same values themselves.

This is actually a prime example of a of a system of morality that is subjective and biased towards the majority. Unless I have interpreted that incorrectly. God knows that happens often on these forums.

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The "evolution versus creationism" debate is not a moral disagreement. It's an argument about empirical facts. One argument is supported by evidence and the other isn't.

I agree. I believe that was indicated in the comment. I was essentially showing you why I am in agreement with this statement: "There's nothing in the definition of "objective" or in the definition of "morality" that necessitates that it must be universally agreeable to all cultures or all beings in the entire Universe. "

evolution vs creationism example shows my understanding how people can have disagreements that flies in the face of objective evidence. And then I gave you my understanding of a moral conflict example. I am showing you that I understand when the terms if they are separate. But I do not understand anymore when they are combined - the concept of objective morality is alien to me.

Lol I try to avoid engaging and quibble about semantics and it always somehow manage to rear its ugly head.  :-[

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To repeat an example I've already cited numerous times throughout this argument: Written laws are an objectification of morality. In many jurisdictions around the world, the possession and use of marijuana is a violation of criminal law. In those jurisdictions the illegality of marijuana is an objective fact, even though some individuals may personally hold the belief that smoking pot is morally okay and even beneficial.

In that sense, objective morality certainly exists.

And now you have completely lost me. An objective fact is immutable. As you yourself have stated: "Objective" simply means something holds true for all observers.  How can illegality of marijuana be an objective fact if it is being legalized for instance in Canada.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 06:01:04 PM by haudace »

Offline Nosmas

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #138 on: August 13, 2018, 06:21:54 PM »

I would have to agree somewhat, it did require free thinkers to shy away from religious doctrine to birth that enlightenment period.

When you break it down, simply put, morality is whatever is most convenient in the society.

I mostly disagree with this statement. Morality seldom has anything to do with "convenience."

Except that it is - it's like how that saying goes: morality is for the good of society.

I guess I should have worded my sentence better. Revision: When you break it down, simply put, morality is whatever seems most convenient in the society.
That should cover people doing horrible things to each other on some very strange moral grounds.


I think you're confusing convenience with positive or beneficial? It's often not convenient to do something good for the greater society benefit.
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Offline haudace

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #139 on: August 13, 2018, 07:43:11 PM »

I would have to agree somewhat, it did require free thinkers to shy away from religious doctrine to birth that enlightenment period.

When you break it down, simply put, morality is whatever is most convenient in the society.

I mostly disagree with this statement. Morality seldom has anything to do with "convenience."

Except that it is - it's like how that saying goes: morality is for the good of society.

I guess I should have worded my sentence better. Revision: When you break it down, simply put, morality is whatever seems most convenient in the society.
That should cover people doing horrible things to each other on some very strange moral grounds.


I think you're confusing convenience with positive or beneficial? It's often not convenient to do something good for the greater society benefit.

The impression, at least to me, is that morality is relative. In my honest opinion, it seems like people behave in a way that follows a path of least resistance. Often through trial and error... The path can lead to some very strange and scary scenarios (prohibiting women from driving). Sometimes it's awesome (western values). It's almost like morality undergoes a natural selection process and adapting to whatever seems to work for the group. Until some catalyst creates friction, then the group has to figure out a new moral consensus convenient for the cohesion of society.

Offline John Albert

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #140 on: August 16, 2018, 03:12:39 PM »
Again, it depends on the sense in which you're using the word "objective."

It may be "subjective" in the sense that everybody has their own opinion about what's moral or immoral, but codified, "objective" moral systems have also existed since the earliest human civilizations.

Of course even "objective" moral codes require some kind of judge or court to interpret them in actual practice, so they're ultimately subjective in that sense too.

Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #141 on: August 16, 2018, 05:18:00 PM »

Of course even "objective" moral codes require some kind of judge or court to interpret them in actual practice, so they're ultimately subjective in that sense too.

Correct and we have seen time and again that people very much disagree with court findings.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #142 on: August 16, 2018, 05:44:37 PM »

Of course even "objective" moral codes require some kind of judge or court to interpret them in actual practice, so they're ultimately subjective in that sense too.

Correct and we have seen time and again that people very much disagree with court findings.

But that's irrelevant to the objectivity of the law as it is written. Objectivity doesn't mean that everybody has to agree with it.

Certain drugs are illegal in the USA, and the planet Earth is an oblate spheroid in shape. Those objective facts are true regardless how many people disagree or decide not to believe them.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2018, 05:47:03 PM by John Albert »

Offline Shibboleth

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #143 on: August 17, 2018, 11:01:39 AM »

But that's irrelevant to the objectivity of the law as it is written. Objectivity doesn't mean that everybody has to agree with it.

Certain drugs are illegal in the USA,

It isn't if someone agrees with it or not. It is that many different people understand it vastly differently based on their subjective understanding.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Do you believe in objective morality?
« Reply #144 on: August 17, 2018, 03:31:21 PM »

But that's irrelevant to the objectivity of the law as it is written. Objectivity doesn't mean that everybody has to agree with it.

Certain drugs are illegal in the USA,

It isn't if someone agrees with it or not. It is that many different people understand it vastly differently based on their subjective understanding.

Right, but some people also disagree with some laws and deem them immoral according to their own subjective moral reasoning.

My point is that neither of those situations matter. Whether some people disagree with the law, or misunderstand the law, that does not eliminate the objectivity of the law as written.

 

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