Monday, February 17, 2014

Dostoyevsky was right!

If there is no God, then everything is permitted. According to this atheist. HT: Triablogue.

A redated post.

55 comments:

Arthur said...

From the link "What is it like to live in a world without morality? Is such a life even viable? This is what I had to discover before I could so much as walk out my front door!"

In my opinion, no ,its simply not even viable in the long run.Which is why some moral guides are formed.

From link.."But an amoralist still has a compass, a ‘guide to life’, an ethics, or so I would argue; and it can be a match for anybody’s morality"

I agree , but still say ethic is still a type of morality.

In my opinion desirism is just an explaination for formation of ethic moral that in my opinion arise from beings traits of emotion and feelings and social natures that arise from use of brains and benefit gained from better survival of the more social groups.

There is often more safety in numbers, and maintaining numbers takes some need of certain guide lines and boundarys to exist.Otherwise the group explodes and divides.

I doubt God speaks to animals or else maybe he might also tell them not to ever harm or fight with each other too, or maybe that being gay was a evil that might lead them to hell.

But even so many social groups of animals do still display they have some moral ethics.Dogs are not called mans best friend for no good reason, some good ethic dogs have is effection and loyality.

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

Joel is absolutely right - without God, there is no right and wrong, no morality. I would like to say that at least he has the courage of his convictions, but I cannot. Because if there is no God, there is also no courage, nor are there any convictions. Well, maybe we can credit him for just being honest. But again, sans God, the word "honesty" has no meaning.

No, Joel had better not walk out that front door.

Gregory said...

I actually encourage anybody who hasn't read Dostoevsky's "The Karamazov Brothers", to go ahead and brave that bullet-proof tome.

It's really about the dark lives of his characters, who live as though there were no God. And it's their tragic outcomes--told within the narrative--which illustrate his maxim: "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted" (i.e. moral nihilism/anarchy/antinomianism).

In fact, the origin of all the tragedy within "The Karamazov Brothers" stems from that famous Karamazov "maxim". But you must read it to understand "why?"

Anonymous said...

"Joel is absolutely right - without God, there is no right and wrong, no morality.No, Joel had better not walk out that front door."

"It's really about the dark lives of his characters, who live as though there were no God. And it's their tragic outcomes"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr3q6Cid1po

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov
/10/daniel-everett-amazon

Tragic outcome.Dont leave the front door.

Doctor Logic said...

Can we please get a consensus on definition, here?

I don't like the way Marks concedes the word morality to the realists. He's basically saying that if realism is false, then morality doesn't exist, which seems to disregard subjectivism. It also redefines the word illicitly.

Here's what I mean. When people experience deja vu while performing a task, they feel as if they have performed a similar or identical task under similar or identical conditions in the past. Now, a deja vu realist says that they have in fact performed the identical task in the past, even if, in our universe, that was impossible. That is, they are committed to proposing that some other universe or past life exists, so that the feeling of "as if-ness" is real.

However, if we discover that deja vu is the result of one's subconscious mind perceiving something a moment before one's conscious mind does, then we would cease to become realists about deja vu. But I don't see how this discovery would cause us to exclaim "Deja vu does not exist!"

In the same way, the fact that moral realism is false doesn't mean morality doesn't exist.

Nonetheless, based on my past exchanges with Christians, the likelihood of my persuading any of you to stop begging the question on this definition (morality = moral realism) is pretty close to zero. So, I want to try a new experiment. Let's just concede the word (as Marks does) from a linguistic standpoint.

Arthur, you say:

"In my opinion, no ,its simply not even viable in the long run.Which is why some moral guides are formed."

Do you have a reason for saying this?

Suppose you were to reason yourself into Marks's position of not believing in morality. What would change for you?

Every time this debate comes up, realists argue as follows:

(1) If moral realism is false (and by implicit assumption, morality doesn't exist), then people will do X. (e.g., Brothers Karamazov!!!)

(2) You don't LIKE/DESIRE the outcome of X.

(3) Therefore, a lack of moral realism is... (a) unthinkable, (b) too horrible to believe in, (c) obviously wrong, (d) and moral realism must exist.

Now, if none of you can see the flaw in this kind of argument, then I guess I'll just stop wasting my time.

In my discussions with Christians, I have found that morality is at the center of everything. Dualism, free will, and all its other commitments exist to safeguard moral realism. Moreover, morality is seen as something that works against our desires. So the idea that morality *is* desire is very disturbing to Christians. But I put it to you that most of morality flows from desire. It's only the tip-of-the-iceberg part of morality that flows against desire, e.g., when I give up the opportunity to have sex with another man's beautiful wife in order to appease some moral principle. But if I give up the opportunity, aren't I just saying I desire to satisfy the moral principle more than I desire that opportunity for sex?

If so, what changes if morality does not exist?

Anonymous said...

In my discussions with Christians, I have found that morality is at the center of everything. Dualism, free will, and all its other commitments exist to safeguard moral realism.

As someone who has seen your logic-immune rambling on blog after blog, your claim here (that morality is at the center of free will, of *dualism*?) is not just inaccurate. It's a flat out lie.

Waste of time, indeed.

Gregory said...

(3) Therefore, a lack of moral realism is... (a) unthinkable, (b) too horrible to believe in, (c) obviously wrong, (d) and moral realism must exist.

This is a textbook case of the "straw man" fallacy, as well as the spurious "false dichotomy".

That bit aside: the term "wrong", as stated in option (c), presupposes "moral realism"!!! We might go so far as to say that option (c) is merely the explicit principle behind the sentiments expressed in option (b). Therefore, options (b) and (c) are equivalent; even, and especially, if we deny "moral realism". Moral realists take the principles of moral absolutes as the source of "moral sentiments". On the flip side, moral anti-realists/anarchists take "moral sentiments" as the source of moral absolutes.

Can we expect that the moral nihilist will be "honest" and "truthful" when presenting his/her own case for "non-absolutist morality", not to mention that of handling the case for moral realism?

Now couple this with an ancient "humanist" maxim:

"Man is the measure of all things"

In hindsight, it is not so hard to see the specter of Nietzsche possessing the uncritical minds of our generation, and haunting the homes of the unwitting, 21rst Century "uber-menschen". What we must do, in order to fill the "void" (i.e. nihil), is to create a reality that best serves men who refuse to live and believe in such a void.....even creating any--and all--"moral" realities. It is the "artist", rather than the "scientist"--the "philosopher"--the "priest", who will deliver mankind from their inescapable "meaninglessness", "anxiety" and "boredom".

That is the gospel according to Nietzsche. And this has become the "gospel" for the wild, wild West. And the "medium" through which it is currently transmitted: Popular Media

Granting his atheism, Marx was partly right:

"Religion is the opiate of the masses"

But if Nietzsche's "gospel" is correct, then everything is an opiate.....including "atheism"!!! We might as well admit, along with Nietzsche, that nihilists prefer delusions instead of truth. And when the curtains are opened on life's stage revealing "nothing", then you can be sure that the Artisans will be marshaled in to sculpt a magnificent fantasy for all to marvel at.

So, here's my joke of the day:

Can you ever trust a "nihilist"?

Answer: You can...if you want to.

Gregory said...

But, in truth, our world is fashioned by men who, whether by knowledge or by ignorance, have shown themselves to be like God--this by virtue of having "created" things....many, many things. Even God, Himself, does not desire for mankind to live in a "void".

He has said this:

"It is not good that man be alone"

and

"Man does not live on bread alone"

It is based on the heartfelt conviction that I, as rebellious as I was in my youth, discovered that I could not live "alone". As a grown man approaching 40, I have learned that no man/woman can live completely "alone".....with nothing but him/herself. If someone were to live in absolute solitude, with no man or God to call friend, then such a person would either lose their sanity or they would end up killing themselves. And it's probably going to end in both; with the latter resulting from the former.

Nietzsche and Marx have only stumbled upon, and have re-stated, what Christians have known all along:

"Man does not live on bread alone"

Doctor Logic said...

Gregory,

Moral realists take the principles of moral absolutes as the source of "moral sentiments". On the flip side, moral anti-realists/anarchists take "moral sentiments" as the source of [rationalized] moral absolutes.

Yes!

Can we expect that the moral nihilist will be "honest" and "truthful" when presenting his/her own case for "non-absolutist morality", not to mention that of handling the case for moral realism?

This brings up something related to your prior comment.

Clearly, in order for the realist to take a moral action, he must have the corresponding moral sentiment (moral cares). If he didn't prefer to act in that way (on balance), he would not have done so. Similarly, in order for the moral anti-realist to take that same moral action, he, too, must have that corresponding moral sentiment.

On the flip side, any man lacking that moral sentiment will fail to take that corresponding moral action, no matter whether he is a realist or an anti-realist.

Thus, it is the corresponding moral sentiment (i.e., caring) that is the necessary and sufficient condition for any given moral action.

Can I expect you to be honest and truthful in the presentation of your case for realism? I certainly can't expect it merely on the grounds that you're a realist because if your sentiments aren't there, you don't care.

Since you doubt the moral sentiments of anti-realists, I assume you wouldn't be offended if I, in the same measure, doubted your honesty in return?

morality = caring

If the nihilist/subjectivist cares about truth, then he will take care to make his argument an honest one. The exact same conditional applies to the realist. If truth is mandated by absolute morality, that doesn't help me if you don't care to be truthful.

Rasmus Møller said...

DL,

your position looks a little like desirism.

But how do you, if possible, get from

morality = caring

to morally binding statements?

Via politics i.e. power struggles?

Would "faking it" be morally reprehensible, if you were sure not to get caught?

Doctor Logic said...

Rasmus,

But how do you, if possible, get from

morality = caring

to morally binding statements?


What is a morally binding statement?

It seems to me that a statement is morally binding to me only if I care deeply about the moral principle on which is based.

That is, if I care about a moral axiom, then I care about the deductive conclusions from that axiom. But it seems obvious that if I don't care about a moral axiom, any deductions based on that axiom are academic.

If God's absolute morality is orthogonal to my cares, I have no reason and no interest in being absolutely good. And if God's absolute morality is opposed to my cares, then I have reason and interest in being evil. No one wants to be absolutely good no matter what absolute goodness entails. People only want to be absolutely good because they think (almost without exception) that absolute goodness matches up with their cares.

Via politics i.e. power struggles?

This is the way it is 99% of the time. I'm not prescribing anything by saying this, just describing the way things are.

The only time it is different is if both parties care about the exact same principles and are merely confused about the non-moral facts or confused in their reasoning from those moral principles. This is almost never the case, even among Christians. It's certainly not the case between, say, Christians and Muslims. It is very that two people share exact moral principles, and reason eliminates the need for politics and power struggle.

Would "faking it" be morally reprehensible, if you were sure not to get caught?

Can you give me a more concrete hypothetical?

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic,

EVERYTHING IS PERMITTED IN A THEISTIC COSMOS TOO, IN THE SENSE THAT ALL HUMAN ACTIONS ARE POSSIBLE.

The question for philosophers is still one of "divine command theory," versus naturalistic hypotheses for the development of social species and socialization behavior.

Edward T. Babinski said...

The Divine Command theory does not prove morality. It merely assumes it, and Divine Command believers also assume they know exactly how to interpret which commands in which holy books are "eternal" and which are merely sociological norms for their time. In each case it is humans doing the interpreting. But it is also humans who wrote such "holy books" in the first place.

That being said, I do have suspicions on the topic of ethics (not absolute beliefs, but suspicions based on we can and do know, not based on Divine Command Theory).

I suspect there's a scale of ethical sensitivity. And it matters (as it does in all other cases) what a young person learns and/or is taught. I suspect that if you teach a young person that others experience similar pains and have similar feelings, and train them starting at a very young age that if they do something that another person does not like (and a teacher in the room has the other person do that same thing back to the first child) that a learning process will take place. Of course this presumes there are teachers. But it can be done in nursery school and kindergarten, as I know via anecdotes. As a child ages, I suggest teaching them the wisdom of practical moral teachers from all the world's cultures.

I also suspect that ethics “without the Bible” are not “completely relative.” People with no Bible to guide them still feel similar pains when stolen from, slapped, or called a stinging name. People with no Bible to guide them also feel similar pleasures when hugged, given a gift, or verbally petted. In other words, in so far as “ethical authority,” exists, it appears to reside in our bodies and brains, and in the multitude of lessons learned during lives of interaction with our fellow human beings. Neither is it easy for a person to turn to anti-social behavior if they have been taught from childhood to view other people’s feelings and needs through the inner lens of their own.

People also recognize (regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof) that “joys shared are doubled, while sorrows shared are halved.” Such recognitions even form the basis for wanting to “double” society’s joys, and “halve” society’s sorrows.

Edward T. Babinski said...

CONTINUED FROM ABOVE

Of course not everyone learns morality in the manner described above. Some are raised to “fear hell” and memorize lists of “holy commandments.” Such people are liable to “fear what they (and others) might become” once such “external” holy threats and commands are called into question. Ironically, in nearly all cases, such a “hell” does not exist to promote universal ethical behavior, but to promote belief in the truth of that person’s particular theology/denomination as opposed to rival theologies/denominations. So if you do not share their particular theology nor belong to their particular denomination, then they are convinced you are going to hell regardless of whatever kindnesses you share with them or society at large. Naturally such people understand the idea of a “moral” nation as one that consists solely of “fellow believers.” Of course any morality that tries to base itself upon purely “external” religious threats and commands will break down once the religion supporting it is called into question.

To avoid such “breakdowns” it makes more sense for a nation, culture, or family to emphasize “internal” rather than “external” morality/ethics, just as it makes more sense to raise children to think and act in terms of how “they would feel if what they did was done back to them,” rather than depending on rote memorization of lists to promote ethical understanding in all circumstances and among all people.

All the world’s religions enshrine the principle, “Do not do to others what you would not want done to yourself,” and, “Do to others what you would want done to yourself,” which assume in both cases that “you” already possess an “internal” recognition of what you should and shouldn’t do. So, there need not be any overt conflict between “internal” and “external” morality and ethics. However, stressing the “internal” variety seems to have a far greater chance of drawing society together, rather than tearing it apart.

“Internal” ethical recognitions preceded the composition of humanity’s earliest law codes such as those of King Hammurabi, or the moral injunctions found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or the later but more famous, “Ten Commandments.” Such “internal” recognitions inspired the creation of laws, and still do, and remind us that laws are but dust when people neglect to seek out what is best within themselves and each other.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Forgiveness is not, as some people seem to believe, a mysterious and sublime idea that we owe to a few millennia of Judeo-Christianity. It did not originate in the minds of people and cannot therefore be appropriated by an ideology or a religion. The fact that monkeys, apes, and humans all engage in reconciliation behavior (stretching out a hand, smiling, kissing, embracing, and so on) means that it is probably over thirty million years old, preceding the evolutionary divergence of these primates...Reconciliation behavior [is] a shared heritage of the primate order . . . When social animals are involved...antagonists do more than estimate their chances of winning before they engage in a fight; they also take into account how much they need their opponent. The contested resource often is simply not worth putting a valuable relationship at risk. And if aggression does occur, both parties may hurry to repair the damage. Victory is rarely absolute among interdependent competitors, whether animal or human. -- Frans De Waal, Peacemaking Among Primates

Edward T. Babinski said...

Darwin proposed that creatures like us who, by their nature, are riven by strong emotional conflicts, and who have also the intelligence to be aware of those conflicts, absolutely need to develop a morality because they need a priority system by which to resolve them. The need for morality is a corollary of conflicts plus intellect:

“Man, from the activity of his mental faculties, cannot avoid reflection… Any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well-developed, or anything like as well-developed as in man.”(Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man)

That, Darwin said, is why we have within us the rudiments of such a priority system and why we have also an intense need to develop those rudiments. We try to shape our moralities in accordance with our deepest wishes so that we can in some degree harmonize our muddled and conflict-ridden emotional constitution, thus finding ourselves a way of life that suits it so far as is possible.

These systems are, therefore, something far deeper than mere social contracts made for convenience. They are not optional. They are a profound attempt--though of course usually an unsuccessful one--to shape our conflict-ridden life in a way that gives priority to the things that we care about most.

If this is right, then we are creatures whose evolved nature absolutely requires that we develop a morality. We need it in order to find our way in the world. The idea that we could live without any distinction between right and wrong is as strange as the idea that we--being creatures subject to gravitation--could live without any idea of up and down. That at least is Darwin’s idea and it seems to me to be one that deserves attention.

-- Mary Midgley, “Wickedness: An Open Debate,” The Philosopher’s Magazine, No. 14, Spring 2001

Manuel Labor said...

Ed,
don't you find it odd that we would be drawing inferences into the brain states of monkeys to come to conclusion that "hey, apes, monkeys, chimps all engage in behavior similar to 'forgiveness granting/forgiveness seeking'"

That's a big jump from behavior to assumed psychological state.

Manuel Labor said...

Also Ed,
can you point me in the direction of the monkeys who are "loving their enemy"?
Let alone "loving their 'neighbor' as they love themselves"?

I'd be very interested in seeing these monkeys.

Anonymous said...

All over the internet you'll find Ed Babinski's cut-and-pasted spam.

Arthur said...

Rasmus Møller said... "DL,

your position looks a little like desirism.

But how do you, if possible, get from

morality = caring

to morally binding statements?

Via politics i.e. power struggles?

Would "faking it" be morally reprehensible, if you were sure not to get caught?"


"Via politics i.e. power struggles?"

Hi Rasmus ,how much more objectively moral would you suggest it would be, if it was left up to the Christians or Islamic or Hindu politics or power struggles that was used to make the decision ?.

Without God or some supernatural identity personally arriving on the scene directly in person.And providing and applying some honest ovjective judgement.

Then the decisions all arrive via brains and education and experiences of mere men anyway.

Which helps explain why at one time in a certain area of the world among Christians, stoning people slowly to death in a torturous way, was once considdered as being a moral way to cause death.

Men making claim to supernatural objective morals is a circular type claim to make in my opinion.The claim always seems to come via brains of men anyway.Meaning the moral decision is only as objective claim , as the group of humans making it.

What makes sauggestions of Godly given morals of say the Pacific peoples Gods ,any less objectively God given than those suggested within Christianity?.

Some Pacific tribes once believed it was moral and spiritual to be involved cannibalism ,they believed it was a way to inherit the spirit and mana of the person they ate.Christian tribes would have been against this.

Did God suddenly arrive on the scene in person and make the godly objective difference in making these final decisions.Or was it politics power struggles and education and experience etc, that helped provide some final wider cross section of human objective decision making.

Arthur said...

Manuel Labor said... "Also Ed,
can you point me in the direction of the monkeys who are "loving their enemy"?
Let alone "loving their 'neighbor' as they love themselves"?

I'd be very interested in seeing these monkeys."

Hi Manuel, monkeys dont have quite the same brain power as humans do .Which is why we also dont see them building their own cars, or using science to create new medicine etc.

Humans had the brain to work out social groups could gain more benefit from learning to love their neighbours as well .For instance in times of earthquake or famine which from time to time can effect humans in different places all over the world .Human brain realized there was benefits in extending the charity aspect to other neigbouring groups.This way the chances for survival of both groups was made stronger by use of cooperation.If one group had a earthquake or bad weather brought famine upon them ,caring and sharing provided better ability for all involved in these natural disasters to survive .As many of these natural type of disastors are random ,in effect the benefits of this learning to be loving thy neighbour, was a mutual benifit.Learning to love thy enemy is just another benefit that can be learned through experience,when humans experience and learn that less harm and death is caused on eaceh other, by trying their best to avoid arguments and battles.

But it takes a more evolved brain power, to help figure these kind of things out.However some animals brains do still very slowly evolve and learn by experience and pass on new information learned to their young.And if being the smartest is one trait of the many traits what helps them to survive better,then its some of the smartest that will also get to breed and then pass that trait on.

Arthur said...

Doctor Logic said .."Do you have a reason for saying this?

Suppose you were to reason yourself into Marks's position of not believing in morality. What would change for you?"

Hi Doc .Yes i think its not going to work as a social society in the long run.An amoralist believes there isnt any morals, right?.Without morals human society ends up lawless ,because its moral thought what helps human social societys form their laws and guide lines.

I doubt any human society lives and survives for any great length of time, as being honest amoralists.Sure some societys may have a few less constrictive laws and boundarys etc than some others might do and still survive quite well.But thats still a long way off from being able to claim being honest complete full blooded amoralists.And its still the laws and boundarys which help benefit and make for forming the far stronger and more benificial soceties in the long run.

Without having some morals which help humans provide some laws and boundarys, that then help their survival of the whole social group to live and work together in more harmony.The society as a group is far more likely to fall apart.And a social group is far stronger than, a human being solo.

Arthur said...

Doc said ..."Every time this debate comes up, realists argue as follows:

(1) If moral realism is false (and by implicit assumption, morality doesn't exist), then people will do X. (e.g., Brothers Karamazov!!!)

(2) You don't LIKE/DESIRE the outcome of X.

(3) Therefore, a lack of moral realism is... (a) unthinkable, (b) too horrible to believe in, (c) obviously wrong, (d) and moral realism must exist."

I would not suggest being amoralist would simply need to lead humanity to always become exactly like Brothers Karamazov were said to be.That would depend a lot on personality and certain situations etc.

I have not read about Brothers Karamazov but im picking maybe they made their own law?.And it was tough on them and/or some other people around them?.Or something like that.

My thoughts are social groups do need some boundarys and laws formed to help provide harmony.Most every social group of beings has such things.Its often worked out by the group in question and sometimes extends to further strengthen the social group by being extended to benefit others around them also.

Brothers Karamazov might have been bad fellows ,but im picking maybe even they had some boundarys between them ? ,that helped them harmonize to some extent .Meaning maybe they wouldnt be total amoralists.Their form of morality maybe just wasnt formed quite the same, maybe it was even kind of primative and lacking in many ways.Maybe they were throw-backs, reverting back to more ancient ways to experiment and learn what the outcome might become. All our modern societies still make some of these very same mistakes from time to time,when we make stupid moves and create problems for ourselves and our countries.This is all part of experience and education and learning.

Kim Jong-ils country has a very primative type of morality in my opinion ,they still live and survive and exist etc .But can it be said their system is of such highly great benefit to them all.I cant see it is.

My personal opinion one way or the other doesnt matter so much .If their system and moral view and laws and boundarys ,actually isnt really honestly doing them many favours.The truth of the matter prevails totally seperate of my personal opinion.It prevails through what is being experienced.

Arthur said...

Doc said..."Moreover, morality is seen as something that works against our desires. So the idea that morality *is* desire is very disturbing to Christians. But I put it to you that most of morality flows from desire. It's only the tip-of-the-iceberg part of morality that flows against desire, e.g., when I give up the opportunity to have sex with another man's beautiful wife in order to appease some moral principle. But if I give up the opportunity, aren't I just saying I desire to satisfy the moral principle more than I desire that opportunity for sex?

If so, what changes if morality does not exist?"

Doc but doesnt morality still exist when your desire is to try to live in harmony with another man , by choosing not to have sex with his beautiful wife.

I think its still a moral thats partly driven by the desire of the social nature of groups of humans to try to learn to live and benefit from co-existing in as much general harmony as can be possibly achieved.

This doesnt mean we dont make some mistakes or still have some people within society who might personally prefer to try and fleece the system ,and maybe out of a selfish solo type nature, tend to want to only think about themselves.

But when mistakes are made we also experience the consequence.Meaning the truth of the matter prevails in the experiences.The truth prevails totally beside what the personal opinion of each seperate indevidual might be.It prevails in the outcome experienced.Just as the outcome of stoning people to death,was the experience of people needing to personally experience watching nasty prolonged torture ,that im quite sure left many with nightmares.And also great guilt! if it was actually later found out! the in fact innocent had been both tortured and killed.No need of Gods, for humans to finally learn something wasnt quite right.

Thats what helps provides our social societys, some type of objective type outlook.When decision of each single indevidual is not what actually makes many of the final decisions ,specially any decisions that happen to effect the social group as a whole.For an objective type outlook, is then supplied by the group thought.

And whether the group thought be via Christian ,Islamic,Hindu ,atheist or any other .Its still completely human.

Doctor Logic said...

Arthur,

Personally, I'm with you. I think that even if morality is just a matter of sentiment or caring, it still exists. However, I have a hard time convincing Christians of that, so I'm trying to run with their definitions instead.

Also, I'm saying that morality is just a matter of sentiment and caring (same as non-existence according to most Christians here), and that morality can, at best, be objectively described, not objectively prescribed.

If I understand you, you're saying that if we follow our sentiments and cares, we will eventually end up with effective moral laws and practices. That is, even if our initial moral policies are very self-centered, our policies eventually become more like what we see today through a process of correction. In other words, moral sentiment leads us to exactly the kind of moral and legal structures we see today, without any need for absolute moral principles. If that's what you're saying, I'm on board.

If the realist says that "Rejecting moral principle X leads to some situation we find distasteful", then the realist is implicitly conceding that, by following my tastes, sentiments and cares, I will approximately replicate principle X without any recourse to absolute laws.

Manuel Labor said...

Hi Arthur,

I find that terribly unconvincing.
You've heard of "just so" stories, right? Because.... well.... you know.

More advanced "brains" allow humans to love their enemy as well as loving their neighbor as they love them?

I think this is silly for these reasons:
It doesn't take the assent of the intellect to love an enemy nor your neighbor as you love yourself.

As a matter of fact, the rationalizing powers of the brain might come into quick conflict with ideas of loving your enemy.
This would be plain to anyone who wasn't trying as hard as possible to push a view point to the point of absurdity.... as you are doing.

"It takes more evolved brain power to figure these things out"....
that's a nonsensical statement. How is "evolved brain power" congruent with loving your neighbor, enemy, let alone finding an objective standard for such behaviors.

On your view morality is just a case of "advanced/evolved brain power". So, if a Mao can (as he did) rationalize his actions then it's okay - his advanced brain power provided reasonable impetus for following through with his actions.

Arthur said...

Hi Doc, yes i think we are both on much the same thinking.Although its hard to explain what are thoughrsare in a few words written on blog comments.

You said.."and that morality can, at best, be objectively described, not objectively prescribed."

I find my thought on this hard to explain.But i would suggest the social society of humanity ,dies infact almost objectively prescribe certain matters ,which is partly to do with why and how humans seperated by vast seas can be seen to come to some of the same conclusions ,even if some groups may come to the same conclusion faster than others might do.

Humans have much the same brain power and feelings and emotions,no matter what side of the sea they may live on.Meaning many thoughts and feelings and emotion patterns and conclusions will often be quite identical.

This combined with the fact humans being social beings that will find they best survive by adopting and utilizing social type societies,will naturally find certain benefits work out for the best when they finally become applied.Much like putting a jig-saw puzzle together ,it dont matter what sea devides the human being ,given enough time! they will all ! decide where all the jig-saw peices will best fit in and work for the best.

So in this sense in my opinion social matters of these moral that evolve and form ,are not so much discribed ,but more likely kind of prescribed by the very nature of our simular human natures and abilities ,as well as most importantly the nature of the demands of a social society itself.

What helps prescribe many of these type of universal moral ideas, that we see so many groups of humans have naturally adopted.Is the fact its like a jig-saw puzzle.By trial and error and much experience ,sooner or later we were all bound to come to much the same conclusions.Because humans are much the same no matter where they be or what colour they are ,and these puzzle peices of setting up a social society simply fit best the way we all end up placeing them.

So i suggest the nature of social societies,and it being the best way for humans to survive, actually prescribes/demands it happens.

We may try other ways ,but will pay the price each time we do.Nature has it way to inform us, what way really does work out best.

Doc said.."If I understand you, you're saying that if we follow our sentiments and cares, we will eventually end up with effective moral laws and practices. That is, even if our initial moral policies are very self-centered, our policies eventually become more like what we see today through a process of correction. In other words, moral sentiment leads us to exactly the kind of moral and legal structures we see today, without any need for absolute moral principles."

Yes sadly pretty much so.We are often slow learners too it seems.Infact in my opinion wars happening today , are also all part of our learning curve.We learn all about actions that do bring us all certain consequences.We will often try out many different remedies, until we finally make a break through that works best.

Manuel Labor said...

That is, even if our initial moral policies are very self-centered, our policies eventually become more like what we see today through a process of correction.

The name DocLogic has to be in jest.
If there is any better example of question begging than this bolded section I have not seen it.

How do we know that our moral inclinations that we hold today came about naturally? Because a morality that is self-centered will eventually unfold into what it looks like today, silly.

I read comments like this and it makes me wonder if DocLog deals with actual humans on a day to day basis.
Humanity steeped into narrow, self-centered interest won't magically break out of that cycle to adopt ideals of "loving your neighbor as yourself", "loving your enemy"... hell... "loving" by itself.

Conveniently DocLog tosses in the workings of that "process of correction". What exactly is the purpose of this process? To make sure that our self-centered tendencies eventually develop into exactly what we see today in such precepts as "loving your neighbor", "loving enemies"....
Doesn't really matter how that process works - but, rhetorically, it serves a wonderful bridge from "self centered morality" to "what we see today".

And this is a Doctor of Logic speaking?
Yipes!!

Doctor Logic said...

Manuel,

Needless to say, I disagree with your statements, but I think the most helpful thing here would be to have you help me understand your thinking process.

You say:

You misunderstand the basis for the actions of the moral realist - who follows principle X in spite of whatever his "tastes, sentiments and cares" might be.

Do you have a specific example of this?

If so, can you explain what the specific cares and motivations of the realist are in that example situation?

Arthur said...

Manuel Labor all you do is throw abuse at Doctor Logic .You call him names suggesting the name Doctor Logic is jest ,implying he is illogical .Yet you supply little logic or even decent argument to prove why this might be.

Your whole load of abuse is centred on "asserting" Doctor Logic is illogical.

You say.."Humanity steeped into narrow, self-centered interest won't magically break out of that cycle to adopt ideals of "loving your neighbor as yourself", "loving your enemy"... hell... "loving" by itself."

No it wont "magically break out", and if indeed you be a Christian yourself,then i suggest your personal abuse toward Doctor Logic here help proves it so! that even the so called magic of faith obviously it seems does little to help us.

Human dont need any magic though, not at all! when better education and experience and wisdom learned of trial and error etc of our past, suffice to hopefully help most people to slowly learn about better things.

Think about it a little Maunuel.In the not so far distant past , humans killed people simple for what they consider as heresy or blasphemy.Folks were even killed for daring to read the holy bible , when high priest demanded only they be allowed.Whole families were left to suffer and go hungry ,because society had no system in place to help care about them.There was no rights for animals and humans could mistreat any animal they pleased.

The list is long .We learned by experience and slowly became better educated while we experienced the trouble our mistakes caused.

It was not magic.Had it been magic it might have changed over night.

Arthur said...

Manuel Labor said... "Hi Arthur,

I find that terribly unconvincing.
You've heard of "just so" stories, right? Because.... well.... you know."

Hi Manuel, im not bothered about needing to convince you.What you suggest above could be said straight back in return ,"just so" ,becuase you know".right?

Why not just try and supply good reasons instead.

You say.."More advanced "brains" allow humans to love their enemy as well as loving their neighbor as they love them?"

Yes more brains allow better decisions Manuel.If they dont choose better decisions, they simply end up with more and more conflict and even war.

Do you honestly think an "advanced brain" really enjoys more and more conflict and war, Manuel ?.

You say.."I think this is silly for these reasons:
It doesn't take the assent of the intellect to love an enemy nor your neighbor as you love yourself."

You give absolutely no reason why not.Maybe you think desent of the brain, helps human to love thy neighbour and enemy?.In other words the dumber someobe be, the more they are likely is to learn to love someone?.

No Manuel, sadly i think our jails are full with many more people who are less educated.Education helps keep more people out of jail.

You say.."As a matter of fact, the rationalizing powers of the brain might come into quick conflict with ideas of loving your enemy.
This would be plain to anyone who wasn't trying as hard as possible to push a view point to the point of absurdity.... as you are doing."

Yes rationalizing powers make mistakes ,Kim Jong-il for instance .Maybe? even former President George Bush .Mao ,Hitler etc

But it dont change the fact they all end up paying the price for making such mistakes .Whether they choose to finally learn or not.Their unsocial behaviour makes them themselves lose in the long run.Along with any that follow them, or sadly even those just caught up in the unsocial system.

And by the way, you are not trying hard to push your view Manuel?.I wont "lower myself" to revert to name calling by suggesting your opinion is absurd.No need.Its only a discussion we having here i thought,not a war.

Arthur said...

Mauuel Labor said.."that's a nonsensical statement. How is "evolved brain power" congruent with loving your neighbor, enemy, let alone finding an objective standard for such behaviors."

Trial and error Manuel.Think a little more about it.Its not really so very smart to cause yourself trouble is it?.

You said.."On your view morality is just a case of "advanced/evolved brain power". So, if a Mao can (as he did) rationalize his actions then it's okay - his advanced brain power provided reasonable impetus for following through with his actions."

No Mao actions and ideas finally brought about his own distruction and the end of his ideas.

Had he use more brains and better intelligence instead of stupidity ,this might not have happened.

Kim Jong-ils actions are slowly sending his country into poverty and decline.

Was it so smart Manuel?.Can his ideals even last forever?.

No they cant .Because they are self defeating and stupid.

Shackleman said...

"Manuel Labor all you do is throw abuse at Doctor Logic .You call him names suggesting the name Doctor Logic is jest ,implying he is illogical .Yet you supply little logic or even decent argument to prove why this might be."

But, given your view that morality is a personal preference, Manuel is under no obligation to be respectful and reasonable.

If it's Manuel's preference to be abusive (not that he is, mind you) then so be it. There's no real standard of decency Manuel should live up to (given your views on morality).

"Why not just try and supply good reasons instead"

Because, given your stance on morality, Manuel is under no obligation to supply good reasons. Remember, according to you, morality, and by extension virtues, are not standards one *ought* to live up to, but mere "preference". Therefore, you have no basis in admonishing him for not supplying "good reasons". He is, after all, merely following his preferences for debate.

"And by the way, you are not trying hard to push your view Manuel?.I wont "lower myself" to revert to name calling by suggesting your opinion is absurd"

Lower yourself? "Lower" implies that there is a "higher" standard that you, and he *ought* to live by, yet, according to you, there is no such thing. It's just a matter of preference and brain-power. Manuel doesn't share your preference for refraining from name-calling. But, according to you, that's not "wrong", and is not something that should therefore be admonished. It's just the way he prefers to debate.


Arthur, do you not see that your admonitions of Manuel outright refute the very points you're trying to make?

Arthur said...

Shackleman said..."But, given your view that morality is a personal preference, Manuel is under no obligation to be respectful and reasonable.

If it's Manuel's preference to be abusive (not that he is, mind you) then so be it. There's no real standard of decency Manuel should live up to (given your views on morality). "


Why do some Christians need to continue with this type of deceitful propaganda.Absolutely no where have i made any reference or talked about social societies being built upon personal preference.Please point me to just one place! where i made any suggestions society is built upon personal preference.I find it very sad! that Christians need to keep on trying to twist the thoughts of atheists and those who dont happen to agree with their faith systems, by totally misrepresenting what they say.

Please yourself if you feel happy doing it.But i suggest it doesnt do Christianity as a whole, any real favours.And i suggest it might be why twisting and deceit is also been used to try and help cover up sexual abuse in some churches.Deceit and twisting the truth of matters is hopelessly rife within faith.

Its not going to help relationships between believers and non believers either,if this sort of carry on keeps on happening.It makes people angry in the long run,and then some of you Christians go calling folks angry atheists, as if they have no reasons.As if they been the only ones being abusive.

The whole time here i have commented about humans as social beings,who always seem to do best when living in social societies.Since when does social society equal living by rules based on solo personal preference?.Goodness me, kindergartens dont even run on solo personal preference.Social security benifits paid to old folks who retire, are social partly because groups of people in commuinities all agree and vote for them.Check that youtube link above,no gods but still social society.

Continued.

Arthur said...

Continued from above

And in the 8th comment below Edward T. Babinski last comment i purposely wrote.."Thats what helps provides our social societys, some type of objective type outlook.When decision of each single indevidual is not what actually makes many of the final decisions ,specially any decisions that happen to effect the social group as a whole.For an objective type outlook, is then supplied by the group thought."

Notice i wrote "single indevidual is not what actually makes many of the final decisions".

It no different to your church group morals and rules.If its based on a Christian society the Christian group decides.Then they merely point to whats written or agreed on in their group think,and make suggestions that it supposedly came from some God.Same thing with Muslims and Hindus etc

But humans simply suggesting something came from a God,makes it no more objective than any other groups objective thoughts are.Because it all information comes through the human brains anyway no matter what faith group they belong.

Arthur said...

Shack said.."Because, given your stance on morality, Manuel is under no obligation to supply good reasons. Remember, according to you, morality, and by extension virtues, are not standards one *ought* to live up to, but mere "preference". "

See my comments above.In my opinion your suggestion is founded on propaganda and lies.Having thoughts of Gods in ones head,dont do anything to make the "ought" anymore stronger, than same decisions made by groups without any thoughts of Gods.

If it did ,stoning folks to death would not ever have occured.It was group preference that first decided to stone people to death,and again group preference that later on decided on changing their minds.

Just because people dont believe in Gods ,dont simply stop them living in social society groups.See the youtube ! in the 4th comment on this very thread.No Gods ,yet still a social society.Not all about personal preference!.

Very little! different to faith based groups.

Just merely inserting the word "God" into the mix ,doesnt do anything at all to change the "ought".For "oughts" to change it still relys on group think.

Which sadly is partly why sexual abuse on such a mass scale, gets covered up by church groups.

They "ought" to do the right thing.But sadly "group" preferences decide not to bother.

Arthur said...

Shack said..."Lower yourself? "Lower" implies that there is a "higher" standard that you, and he *ought* to live by, yet, according to you, there is no such thing. It's just a matter of preference and brain-power. Manuel doesn't share your preference for refraining from name-calling. But, according to you, that's not "wrong", and is not something that should therefore be admonished. It's just the way he prefers to debate."

Shack if i slapped you around the face, and you dont slap me back,but even so it causes you pain! as well as an very unsocial feeling within the society we and others all try to be living in harmony in.

Are you really telling me you think we first need a idea of some God, before we will ever be able to have the ability to try and figure to finally work out,maybe my action isnt so good.

What use do you suggest a brain is forShack?.Does it just float around like a rubber ducky in a bath, whiling away the time in humans heads, like a pile of mush doing nothing ,thats good for nothing?.

Come on Shack .You are trying to suggest humans brains might have absolutely no good use at all.Thats all what you try suggesting here.

We use our brains and like in science we observe the effects and results.By trying different methods we can observe and decide and conclude what works better and what makes matters worse .No God idea needed for that.

Shack said.."Arthur, do you not see that your admonitions of Manuel outright refute the very points you're trying to make?"

No Shack not at all.What i see is you trying to twist what i have been saying.

GearHedEd said...

Manuel Labor said,

"...can you point me in the direction of the monkeys who are "loving their enemy"?
Let alone "loving their 'neighbor' as they love themselves"?"

Name two people that ACTUALLY love their enemies.

Rasmus Møller said...

Victor cites C.S. Lewis here:

http://merechristianitystudyguide.blogspot.com/2008/12/c-s-lewiss-three-arguments-for-moral.html

and I get the feeling that it hits home with some of the subjective moralists here:

"But the most remarkable thing is this. whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking on to him he will be complaining 'It's not fair' before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter, but then, next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is no such ting as Right and Wrong--in other words, if there is no Law of Nature--what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?"

Rasmus Møller said...

DL,

if you are still reading this thread;

What is your view on ethics compared to your "morality = caring" - is "ethics = caring", too?

I take it that the concept of "duty" (i.e. "moral duty") does not make sense to you?

- or perhaps "duty" is binding you only to the degree that you care?

I agree that politics is "the way of the world" most of the time - luckily this does not imply that it ought to be so.

I have had the pleasure to read the small book "The Abolition of Man" by C.S. Lewis. It is easily available as free PDF or ebook download, and it refutes moral relativism.

Besides that, I found it a great joy to read.

Gregory said...

A Doctor has said this:

"On the flip side, any man lacking that moral sentiment will fail to take that corresponding moral action, no matter whether he is a realist or an anti-realist.

Thus, it is the corresponding moral sentiment (i.e., caring) that is the necessary and sufficient condition for any given moral action."


Let's make some clarifications here because I think you've completely understood, or agree with, what I mean by "moral sentiments". Moral sentiments are those feelings that are associated with a moral or immoral act, and, therefore, come after the fact. Also, we must assume moral objectivity when we observe a gradation in the appropriateness of certain sentiments. The relativist/nihilist is saying that human "feelings" are the measure of all things.

Suppose that my gut reaction to losing my job at the Post Office was to show up the next day and gun down as many people as I could....before turning the gun on myself. This is, after all, some people's "moral sentiments". We can only assess the appropriateness of a "moral sentiment" by stepping outside of the "sentimental" landscape.

This is precisely why those pesky Greeks taught that "reason" is the instrument by which we temper, or moderate, our "passions". For instance, we tend to think that "temperance" is a virtue. We say things like "he can sure keep his cool" and "she had a calm about her....kinda Zen-like, you know."

Therefore, moral "reason" takes precedence over moral "sentiments" precisely because we judge some sentiments/feelings as inappropriate, base and immoral. We don't tell the addicted pedophile that he needs to tone down his pedophiliac "sentiments" a little bit. Rather, we say that he shouldn't entertain them at all.

But Doctor Logic says that whatever one's "impulses" are, those impulses are de facto "right", "moral" and "good". So he either has to say that the pedophilic impulse, qua impulse, is morally justified by virtue of that fact, or he has to say that "moral sentiment" is not constitutive of moral judgment.

That is the paradox that faces the person who maintains that morality is reducible to feelings (emotivism).

Gregory said...

I said:

Let's make some clarifications here because I think you've completely understood, or agree with, what I mean by "moral sentiments".

I meant to say:

"Let's make some clarifications here because I think you've completely misunderstood, or you disagree with, my understanding of "moral sentiments".

Editing is a dirty job. But somebody has to do it.

Doctor Logic said...

Rasmus,

I'm not quite sure what C.S. Lewis is attacking. If he's attacking people who take moral anti-realism to imply that they ought to do something, or imply that they ought to be exempt from some social moral constraint, then I'll happily join Lewis in his criticism. But as a critique of anti-realism, Lewis falls flat.

A moral realist and a moral subjectivist could have the exact same moral convictions on every issue. The only difference would be that the realist thinks his moral passions come from without, while the subjectivist thinks his passions come from within.

So, when you ask is there is moral duty, we have to ask "What passion it is that you are referring to?"

If I am on my way to a night out with friends, and I pass someone one the street who needs help, we classify the feeling that we ought to help the person as a moral duty. Thus, a moral duty are those moral passions that conflict with our non-moral passions. However, if I lack the passion to help people, and I lack the feeling of guilt for not helping a person, then I will not feel moral duty. Instead, I would probably rationalize that the person in question was guilty of something that made him deserve his problem (e.g., that guy on the street drank too much or was too lazy to get a job. He deserves to suffer, etc).

When you help the man on the street, I think you rationalize it this way: "My passions are to go out drinking with my friends, BUT my moral duty is to help this man on the street."

In my case, it would be more like "My passions are to go out drinking with my friends, AND my moral passion is to help this man on the street. Though I would enjoy the former a lot more, on balance, I would prefer to help the man on the street."

I think that you ultimately feel the same way because, if you didn't, why follow a moral duty? I think moral duty is just a name for those passions that, on balance, override deeper pleasures.

If you think I don't understand your thinking process on this, please feel free to correct me. I would live to hear what realists think is happening. I will say that not having a passion (sentiment) for helping the man on the street (or being seen to do so) would make helping the man on the street psychologically impossible. You would lose your free will.

Doctor Logic said...

Gregory,

Thanks for the clear, thoughtful reply. Gotta run, but I'll be back later to reply.

Anonymous said...

Atheism does not entail amorality any more than theism entails eating the body of Christ via wafer-cake. Nihilism is a theoretical subset of atheism, just as Catholicism is of theism; they are not the only paths.

Kinds of morality compatible with (or, depending on who you are, demanded by) atheism:

Ethical naturalism. (All ethics can be reduced to one incontrovertible platform or "foundation", e.g. pain. We all experience pain. Let's try to reduce humanity's physical suffering.

Constructivism: Let's use our rationality to determine the most intuitive and defensible moral system. Just because we invent it doesn't mean it's without force or purpose (look at mathematics). Kant basically invented the modern version of this.
Subset of constructivism: Social Contract Theory

Darwinian, evolutionary: I think this is sort of a cop-out, cause it's more descriptive than normative, but it's also essentially true: our concept of morality derives from millenia of mutations that selected for cooperative inclinations, etc.

There you go! Renounce God, help out your fellow man. Win-win.

Shackleman said...

Arthur,

I melded yours and Doctor Logic's posts together in my mind. (Probably because he and you seemed to agree with one another, and also because I find your posts sometimes difficult to read and to follow---you jump around a lot in them---but you're right, I was careless, and it was DL, not you, that spoke of "preference" as the genesis of Morality),

The mistake wasn't intentional, sorry.

Nevertheless, the principle applies to you as well. If I'm understanding you correctly, that you believe morality is merely an evolved trait of powerful brains, then replace my word "preference" in my post above with "evolved brain-power". The objections I raised work equally well against that.

Take care.

unouroboros said...

"If there is no God, then everything is permitted."

Resistance to the logic is futile.

Arthur said...

Its ok Shack.No harm done.

Fair comment too !,i agree my comments will possibly be hard for people to understand.I find it hard to explain my thoughts in a straight forward way.

No its not just powerful brains that decide moral.Its brains that have experienced and educatiion of brains that become knowledgable brains ,plus adition of things like emotions ,feelings calculations etc.

And most of all most often its use of input from many brains! not a just a brain or a few brains.This is what gives it the thought that gives the decision some objective type outlook.

Whether the group thought that concludes the moral thought be atheist or theist.There is little difference other that addition of holy books and humans that try and claim their thoughts come from elsewhere.

This is why so groups claim the thought comes from the christian God whiles others claim it come from the Hindu or Islamic or where ever else.

The only thing honestly differenet is the claim they choose to make.As all thoughts arive by group thought via experience ,education,knowledge ,feeling,emotion etc ,through the many human brains .And its the many brains that give the decision its objective outlook.Just as asking more than one doctor for advice on how best to treat a condition,give a more objective outlook on how is most likely the best way to treat the condition.

So no, it doesnt always need be about preference.Not where emotion and feelings and education and experience and all those type of traits also move into action to help in making best conclusions.

Honestly i might prefer to not need get out of bed and help my neighbour, because id rather sleep.But there is consequences.When at another time i need a hand, my neighbour may not feel like getting out of bed to help me either.

So in this sense ,preference is not the only trait that helps us humans decide whats right or what works out for the best.

For instance we might prefer not to go to war.But some times what we prefer cant take centre stage,for instance when some other tribe is coming fully intent on annihilating us all.

So then we need to try and think about how we can maybe find some other ways to come to some sort of mutual agreement, that will see this war averted.Or else maybe considder the need to protect ourselves etc.

Our preference might have just have been, not to have war.

It works opposite to if we prefer war.If we prefer war,very likely we bring certain consequences upon ourselves.For instance, in the end Hitler found himself fighting againsts combine Allies.His actions finally brought many of his countrymen disrespect rather than respect, and afterward some folks lived with guilt.Much wrong could never ever be put right.

Our preference bring consequence.Kim Jong-il preference, bringing his country consequence.Stoning and torturing people to death,left a consequence for early folk of faith.Nightmares,feelings,emotion,and even guilt,specially when wrongfully convicted had already been tortured and killed.As other folks also thought how they might feel if it were their own family member laying wrongfully dead.

Preference is not the only trait we use when making good decision.Preference is often only a small part of the equation.Education,experience,thought of consequences etc, helps provide us some balance of thought.

You take care too Shack.

Arthur said...

I said to Shack.."And most of all most often its use of input from many brains! not a just a brain or a few brains.This is what gives it the thought that gives the decision some objective type outlook."

This same objective type outlook of many brains being all put to work,can be seen still happening today within outlook of Christianity overall.

Christian folk from different groups use their combined education,knowledge, experience , feelings and emotions etc, as thought that evolves to still make more modern decisions about matters.

Moral thought has evolved.If it didnt we might still have death by torture of stoning.And in wars we might still sometimes try to annihilate! whole nations of people, instead of just winning the war or protecting ourselves.And it might even be considdered as ok to offer the use of our daughters up for sex,to try and stop a male being disgraced by being raped by other men.

Arthur said...

Anonymous said... "Nihilism is a theoretical subset of atheism, just as Catholicism is of theism; they are not the only paths"

Hi Anon.

I think maybe to some degree i agree.

However id suggest nihilism is far more likely to evolve from the tyranny of dictatorships ,rather than evolving from atheism itself.

That some dictators may also be atheist ,is merely more just about them being dictators, that just so happen are also atheist.

It doesnt suggest atheism is actually what cuses the nilihism.

Its just like dictorships that cause tyranny can also be seen to evolve from both the faithful and the non faithful.A type of nilihism also exists among some Christian faith group cults, with their dictators being involved in tyranny and terrorism.

So in this sense in my opinion, this idea that suppposedly its the atheism part, that is the cause of nilihism, is just old propaganda thats not founded on honesty or truth.

Its been used as a way to try to make atheists look to be the lessor type people.

Arthur said...

Gregory said..."But Doctor Logic says that whatever one's "impulses" are, those impulses are de facto "right", "moral" and "good". So he either has to say that the pedophilic impulse, qua impulse, is morally justified by virtue of that fact, or he has to say that "moral sentiment" is not constitutive of moral judgment.

That is the paradox that faces the person who maintains that morality is reducible to feelings (emotivism)."

Hi Gregory, i dont accept morality is just reducible to emotivism.Living in social society it isnt the "he" that get the right to make finalized choice in making these type of very important decisions that happen to effect the whole social group.Its the objective mind of a cross section of the whole group as in "them" that finally decides.Not only the "he" or the "her"

I could suggest maybe it was only emotivism which changed the minds of early faithful to quit stoning folks to a turturous death.No doubt their would have been the odd "he" here and there, who maybe still personally felt, stoning people this way was both moral and ok.The odd "he" here and there that thought they the accused had deserved not only the death, but also the toture as well,that stoning provided.

It is not just only feelings that help us humans resolve these types of decisions, such as us ordering the addicted pedophile to stop his actions.

Because the fact is we can also actually measure the consequences by observing the detrimental effect,the pedofile action does have on the young people.Just as we could also observe and measure the evidence of nightmares and guilt many people continued to suffer from, long after watching stonings that also included great method of terrible torture! that actually led to a very long slow painful death.

Our human ability of observing the actual evidence of the consequences is quite seperate of our personal emotions .If a pedofiles emotions happens to tell him personally,that maybe its ok to abuse children this way.

It wont change! the objective view of what the cross section of the whole social human group actually observes, in the evidence of the detremental effect the pedofile action is having on the children.

So in this sense there is actually no paradox that faces the atheist any more than the faithful.

Doctor Logic said...

Gregory,

Moral sentiments are those feelings that are associated with a moral or immoral act, and, therefore, come after the fact.

I think this is a matter of definition. I can be 5 seconds away from performing a moral act, merely consider the act, and be conscious of the moral sentiments I will feel during or afterward.

I only taste food in the moments after I put it in my mouth. But I am able to consider what I want to have for dinner. I don't think this means that gastronomic taste is metaphysically real independent of my feelings.

Therefore, moral "reason" takes precedence over moral "sentiments" precisely because we judge some sentiments/feelings as inappropriate, base and immoral.

What are the grounds for this judgment? They must be sentimental in some way. In every moral debate I have heard or read, the relative merits of normative moral systems come down to our visceral disgust at a particular moral act or policy.

A classic case would be when someone proposes a utilitarian scheme that aims to maximize average happiness. The alleged refutation of such a scheme would come in when someone says, "according to that scheme, we should kill off the unhappy people to raise the average." Everyone then looks at each other and feels that killing people for being unhappy is so disgusting that the original moral theory must be abandoned. But if our calm, reasoned analysis of moral claims were really unswayed by sentiment, then killing people for being unhappy should not strike us as problematic.

Indeed, if we go back to the genesis of the utilitarian theory, it is just an abstraction of our sentiment that we like to be happy, and we like the people around us to be happy. If sentiment was irrelevant, who cares about being happy?

A good example is the death penalty. I am generally against it. However, if someone close to me were murdered, I would want to kill the offender. I think you would define the rage, anger and hurt I would feel after someone close to me were killed as moral sentiment, but my feelings about murder generally as something else. But they still appear to be feelings, no?

People can be incensed about a moral policy, even before it is enacted, and even if it doesn't affect them directly. Anti-choice policies anger me just as liberal abortion policies anger some Christians. If we lacked the anger, what basis would we have to go on when deciding moral issues?

No one cares about abstract moral systems for the sake of having an abstract moral system. No one wants to be good in the absence of knowing what good is. In practice, people define the moral landscape as idealizations, abstractions and generalizations of their sentiments. That's why they care about being good in the abstract. If an abstract moral landscape is at odds with their moral sentiments, then they would rather be evil.

Doctor Logic said...

Gregory,

I also want to correct the following statement you made:

But Doctor Logic says that whatever one's "impulses" are, those impulses are de facto "right", "moral" and "good". So he either has to say that the pedophilic impulse, qua impulse, is morally justified by virtue of that fact, or he has to say that "moral sentiment" is not constitutive of moral judgment.

Mine is not a theory of moral justification. So, if person A and person B have differing points of view on a moral issue, subjectivism doesn't say either person is right or wrong. It describes what they feel, and explains why person A thinks it's right and why person B thinks it's wrong, say. Subjectivism does not prescribe at all. Subjectivism does not say that person A ought to surrender or ignore the actions of person B, nor does it say that person A ought to take measures to stop person B from acting.

I see no evidence that moral judgment is anything more than an idealization of sentiment. That doesn't mean right and wrong don't exist (any more than delicious and disgusting fail to exist in the gastronomic arts), but it does mean that right and wrong don't exist beyond our own subjective natures.

Doctor Logic said...

Gregory,

Just to preempt one possible response...

Realists generally maintain the principle that I should not interfere with another man's actions unless I can show that those actions are objectively wrong.

Since subjectivism is not prescriptive, and no actions are objectively right or wrong, some realists try to apply their principle and come up with the idea that subjectivism implies that we are prohibited from interfering in the actions of others, period.

I hope you can see that such an application of the principle makes no sense. Any statement that goes "If subjectivism, then persons objectively ought..." is incorrect.

Under subjectivism, moral acts are not prohibited by metaphysical principles. Moral acts can only be prohibited by people (individuals or collectives).

Douglas Drake said...

In the first place, assuming everything were permitting if there were no God, the fact would not cause God to pop into existence if he hadn't been there to begin with. In the second place, everything wouldn't be permitted, because that's not the way morality works. As Haidt pointed out, people don't think up fancy philosophical rationalizations for acting one way or the other based on their moral emotions. Usually, they act, and the rationalization follows.