Monday, May 29, 2017

Moral nonrealism

OK, here we have, in Stardusty, moral nonrealism. Morality is an evolved sense of rules which we are perhaps evolutionarily disposed to follow, because, at least up to a point, social cooperation is beneficial, and so we have some cooperative tendencies built into us. But some of us have more of this than others, and there are, in many circumstances, strong tendencies within all of us to pursue our own interests at the expense of others. Madoff is a a great example. Not to mention all the Madoffs that didn't get caught, including some who hold high positions in banks, and maybe even the President of the United States. Ought they to pursue the interests of others even if it harms their self-interest? Is there an ultimate reality that ought to tell them to do the cooperative thing even if it might result in prison or impeachment? 

For moral nonrealists like Stardusty, the answer is a resounding NO.

92 comments:

Stardusty Psyche said...

Victor,
I think you have fairly summarized my view.

People do, in fact, what they want, in the aggregate, to do. Each of us does. It is all we can do.

The evidence is all around us. Christianity is just one religion among many, that has influenced a fraction of all the people who have ever lived. Morality varies from culture to culture, yet there are some common basics as well, which is what we would expect from an commonly evolved sense that is expressed in and modulated by divergent and isolated cultures.

We do not observe the uniformity of moral specifics commensurate with a single god issuing a single absolute moral code. If there is a single absolute moral code out there to be imposed upon all humanity then demonstrably most of humanity did not get the meme, as it were.

Suppose we are each an automated car. Does humanity act more like a collection of radio controlled cars receiving the same outside signal to behave uniformly, or does humanity act more like a collection of self drive cars programmed roughly not to collide with other cars but otherwise go each individual way?

Have we not always had among us Madoff characters, an lesser of his ilk? Does humanity appear to be cleansing itself of criminality, greed, and what our British friends call antisocial behavior?

Even the supposed rock of morality, Yahweh, demonstrably wants different laws for different people at different times, having issued over 600 commandments for the Jews of ancient Israel (a tiny sliver of humanity indeed) only to abrogate the worst of them through Christ, with further changes from time to time instituted by the Vicarious Christ. How is such a changing system, still applicable only to a fraction of humanity, to be viewed as absolute?

If there is in this universe a reservoir of perfect and absolute moral good I have seen no evidence of it on this Earth.

Chad Handley said...

Leave aside the fact that an evolutionary explanation and a theistic explanation of morality are compatible (evolution could be the proximate cause of moral values while God is the ultimate cause), the moral chaos we see in the world is perfectly consistent with the Christian doctrine of the Fall.

Mortal said...

Stardusty's theory of morality is shredded in C.S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man. In it, Lewis demonstrates with both concrete examples and reason that morality is both objective and universal.

Jimmy S. M. said...

Even if moral realism were true, without a clear epistemology available & obvious to everyone, the work of moral reasoning and convincing others looks the same.

Chad Handley said...

Without moral realism, moral reasoning and trying to convince others is a useless and absurd endeavor, because there is no moral truth to reason towards or to convince others to adopt.

Jimmy S. M. said...

I don't see that; I'll use language as an analogy to explain why. There is no singular "true" language yet we could try to convince someone to learn our language. To carry the analogy further- language helps make civilization possible, it's subjective yet not arbitrary- every language has words for "mother" and "father" and doesn't include sounds above 20000 kHz because it's constrained by our culture and biology.

Chad Handley said...

Do you think a follower of Boko Haram OUGHT to learn Mandarin Chinese?

Do you think the same follower OUGHT to stop murdering little girls for going to school?

The relevant difference here between morality and language is that no one thinks there is or could be a "true" language. Contrarily, almost everyone thinks there are at least some absolute moral truths.

It is the obligatory character of moral reasoning that puts it in a different category from all other forms of reasoning and makes analogy a fool's errand.

And as the cultural and biological "constraints" allow human opinion on morality to run the gamut between Jesus teaching us to love our neighbors as ourselves Nazis thinking it their duty to render their neighbors into soap and lampshades, I don't find them very constraining.

Jimmy S. M. said...

"Do you think the same follower OUGHT to stop murdering little girls for going to school?"

Yes, we both think that.

You think an all powerful being with the power to stop it at anytime thinks its bad and may possibly punish Boko Haram upon their death for these acts. Although a god may have actually ordered them to commit these acts, as they believe, which we would have no way of knowing. Maybe they are modern day Isrealites and the populations they are terrorizing are modern day Midianites or Amalekites. I mean, Prove they're not.

I think it impedes human flourishing, and there are clearly better ways to live. If the flourishing of sentient beings, both individually and collectively, isn't what morality is trying to address, then I don't know what we're talking about when we talk about morality.

Now, we both have the same amount of work to do, to stop them, and convince them they're wrong.

Jimmy S. M. said...

"I don't find them very constraining."

I don't see a god constraining much either

Chad Handley said...

What God constrains are the moral absolutes that allow us to say that Jesus was really right and the Nazis were really wrong. Moral nonrealists don't have that option.

Mortal said...

Anyone who claims that it is not objectively evil to lie, steal, murder, commit adultery, defraud a customer or oppress the poor is a liar (unless he truly believes what he is saying, which makes him a fool).

Mortal said...

Jesus was really right

I would go much further than that. Jesus didn't just speak the truth - He is the Truth. You want to look at objective reality, look at Jesus. ("He who has seen me has seen the Father.")

Chad Handley said...

"Yes, we both think that."

More relevantly, neither of us thinks he ought to learn Mandarin Chinese, so the analogy to language is useless.

"You think an all powerful being with the power to stop it at anytime thinks its bad and may possibly punish Boko Haram upon their death for these acts. Although a god may have actually ordered them to commit these acts, as they believe, which we would have no way of knowing. Maybe they are modern day Isrealites and the populations they are terrorizing are modern day Midianites or Amalekites. I mean, Prove they're not."

My belief that the actions of Boko Haram are objectively wrong have nothing immediately to do with my belief in God. My belief that their actions are wrong have to do with my commitment to moral realism. There are atheist moral realists who would agree with me. God is one basis of moral realism but not the only basis.

(And we're in pretty much the same boat with regard to our ability to prove that Boko Haram weren't commanded by God.)

"I think it impedes human flourishing, and there are clearly better ways to live. If the flourishing of sentient beings, both individually and collectively, isn't what morality is trying to address, then I don't know what we're talking about when we talk about morality.

Now, we both have the same amount of work to do, to stop them, and convince them they're wrong."

1. Boko Haram certainly believe that morality is about human flourishing. They just believe humans flourish the most under their interpretation of Islam.

2. If you believe human flourishing is the basis of morality and that human flourishing is objectively measurable, then you are a moral realist.

3. They could only be "wrong," if there are moral truths. If you think they are wrong, again, you are a moral realist.

Jimmy S. M. said...

"If you believe human flourishing is the basis of morality and that human flourishing is objectively measurable, then you are a moral realist."

I'm interested how many other commenters would agree with that. I don't think that's a common opinion among theists OR the neoplatonic atheistic moral realists I encounter..

The reason is that morality could have been different if we had different biology (think bees, ants, bonobos) so they're not objective in that sense

Chad Handley said...

That human flourishing is the basis of an objective morality is the opinion of Sam Harris, the person you've been frequently (if accidentally) quoting.

Even if you think morality could have been different if we had been different species, your position would still reflect moral realism with respect to our actual species.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Mortal said...

" Stardusty's theory of morality is shredded in C.S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man. In it, Lewis demonstrates with both concrete examples and reason that morality is both objective and universal."
--I am certain Lewis failed as all have failed to logically or by example demonstrate the existence of either objective or universal moral propositions.

But by all means, do cite this supposed logical argument.

Name this supposed objective moral proposition.

Name this supposed universal moral proposition.

I am certain you cannot do anything of the sort.


May 30, 2017 5:39 AM

Chad Handley said...

None of which is to say that I find the human flourishing account at all plausible, as evidenced by the inability of the account to answer the following question:

Why should we prefer your definition of human flourishing to that of the Boko Haram convert?

Regardless of how inadequate I find it, however, it is still technically a moral realist account. Any account that holds that there are correct answers to moral questions independent of human opinion or cultural factors is a realist account.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Jimmy S. M. said...

" language helps make civilization possible, it's subjective yet not arbitrary"
The implicit goodness of making civilization possible is arbitrary.


May 30, 2017 8:08 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

" almost everyone thinks there are at least some absolute moral truths."
--Please list some here, or at least one.


May 30, 2017 8:30 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Jimmy S. M. said...

"If the flourishing of sentient beings, both individually and collectively, isn't what morality is trying to address, then I don't know what we're talking about when we talk about morality."
--That is a typical evolved sense, but not a moral absolute. There is no absolute reference point that necessitates that collective human flourishing is good.


May 30, 2017 8:50 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Mortal said...

" Anyone who claims that it is not objectively evil to lie, steal, murder, commit adultery, defraud a customer or oppress the poor is a liar (unless he truly believes what he is saying, which makes him a fool)."
--Ad hominem.


May 30, 2017 9:13 AM

Chad Handley said...

"" almost everyone thinks there are at least some absolute moral truths."
--Please list some here, or at least one."

That almost everyone thinks there are some absolute moral truths doesn't imply that they agree on what those truths are. Nevertheless, I think it's safe to say that almost everyone believes it is an absolute moral truth that we shouldn't murder innocent people for fun.

Jimmy S. M. said...

CH: "Even if you think morality could have been different if we had been different species, your position would still reflect moral realism with respect to our actual species."

I'm not sold, because I think it's a nominalist position; if an asteroid killed us all tomorrow these "moral truths" would no longer exist.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

" I think it's safe to say that almost everyone believes it is an absolute moral truth that we shouldn't murder innocent people for fun."
--What makes murdering innocent people for fun objectively wrong?


May 30, 2017 10:11 AM

Chad Handley said...

"--What makes murdering innocent people for fun objectively wrong?"

Moral realists give many varied accounts of this - it is contrary to human flourishing, it is contrary to God's commands, it is contrary to God's nature, it is contrary to human nature, etc.

I never claimed to be able, or more to the point, willing to prove any account of moral realism in this combox conversation.

If you think otherwise, you are close to demonstrating the informal fallacy of the argumentum ad combox tedium: "If someone isn't willing to take the time to prove me wrong in a combox, then I am right."

There are many books of arguments from many perspectives purporting to show that moral realism is true. If you really want to know about the position, you'll do the reading on your own.

All I've claimed to be able to show here is that moral reasoning and theorizing is a useless endeavor in the absence of moral truth, a position with which I suspect you'd agree.

Chad Handley said...

"I'm not sold, because I think it's a nominalist position; if an asteroid killed us all tomorrow these "moral truths" would no longer exist."

A square would still be a quadrilateral with four equal sides even if no one had ever drawn or seen a square. By the same token, "it is wrong for a human being to kill an innocent human being for fun" would still be true even in the absence of human beings.

If there is real moral knowledge, why would it be different from any other form of knowledge? Evolution, if true, wouldn't cease to be true if there was no one around anymore to know it was true. Likewise, any moral claim, if true, would still be true regardless of the existence of moral agents.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

" I never claimed to be able, or more to the point, willing to prove any account of moral realism in this combox conversation."
--Ok, but it really should not be all that difficult to lay out an argument for moral realism in relatively few words. But, up to you, of course, if you wish to.

" If you think otherwise, you are close to demonstrating the informal fallacy of the argumentum ad combox tedium: "If someone isn't willing to take the time to prove me wrong in a combox, then I am right.""
--...or at least, I have not been demonstrated to be wrong here.

" There are many books of arguments from many perspectives purporting to show that moral realism is true."
--No, zero, none at all, I am quite certain.

" If you really want to know about the position, you'll do the reading on your own."
--Oh, I know the position. Arguments take the form of argument from authority, argument ad populum, appeal to emotion, and argument from personal incredulity. All arguments for moral realism are fallacious.

" All I've claimed to be able to show here is that moral reasoning and theorizing is a useless endeavor in the absence of moral truth, a position with which I suspect you'd agree."
--No, I think moral reasoning is of great value quite apart from the absence of any known moral absolute truths. All we need is a consensus set of moral postulates.

Legal and ethical matters require moral reasoning based on consensus postulates.


May 30, 2017 10:32 AM

Jimmy S. M. said...

"A square would still be a quadrilateral with four equal sides even if no one had ever drawn or seen a square. "

I don't think so, except maybe in an eternalism sense. I don't believe abstract objects or morality are mind independent. I'm not a platonist.

"Evolution, if true, wouldn't cease to be true if there was no one around anymore to know it was true."

That's a little different; I don't doubt natural laws, chemical reactions, planetary motion, etc would go on, in the absence of minds, I'm not an idealist.

But this is getting a bit off topic, apologies to everyone.

Jimmy S. M. said...

CH: "I think it's safe to say that almost everyone believes it is an absolute moral truth that we shouldn't murder innocent people for fun."

What's interesting about that to me, is that it's the definition of "innocent" and "people" that have changed. Something for me to think about, thanks


Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

" A square would still be a quadrilateral with four equal sides even if no one had ever drawn or seen a square."
--Would it? Where is this square in the absence of a human conception of a square?

Can you point in nature to a square? (A 4 sided 2 dimensional object of zero volume with perfectly straight and smooth edges of precisely the same length with interior angles of precisely 1/4 of a rotation)

" By the same token, "it is wrong for a human being to kill an innocent human being for fun" would still be true even in the absence of human beings."
--By the same token indeed, namely, no token at all.


May 30, 2017 10:40 AM

Jimmy S. M. said...

"Why should we prefer your definition of human flourishing to that of the Boko Haram convert?"

But we're in the same boat.

Jimmy: Hey Boko Haram, you're wrong
BH: No you're wrong

So far so good

Chad: Hey Boko Haram, you're objectively wrong
BH: No you're objectively wrong

What's the difference? Self satisfaction?

Chad Handley said...

"Ok, but it really should not be all that difficult to lay out an argument for moral realism in relatively few words."

It's not that difficult to go to a library and type "moral realism" into a search engine, either.

"No, I think moral reasoning is of great value quite apart from the absence of any known moral absolute truths. All we need is a consensus set of moral postulates."

Moral nonrealism doesn't just entail the absence of KNOWN moral truths. It entails the absence of moral truth PERIOD.

Imagine a game called SCHECKERS. SCHECKERS is a game in which all the participants are free to make up their own rules and change them at any time. Do you think a reasonable, profitable debate could be had on what the rules of Scheckers should be? What would separate a good Scheckers rule from a bad Scheckers rule, if by definition the rules are arbitrary?

That's moral debate if moral non realism was true. Morality would then just be a game which everyone plays according to their own arbitrary rules, which they are free to change from moment to moment.

Chad Handley said...

"That's a little different; I don't doubt natural laws, chemical reactions, planetary motion, etc would go on, in the absence of minds, I'm not an idealist."

Why would it be different? Truth is truth.

Look, any moral truth of the form "X is wrong" could be easily rewritten into the counterfactual, "If human beings exist, then X is wrong" with no loss of content.

The counterfactual, if true, would be true whether or not human beings actually exist.

Chad Handley said...

"But we're in the same boat."

No, we're not:

CH: Boko Haram, you're wrong.
BH: No, you're wrong.

Jimmy: Boko Haram, there's no such thing as wrong, but you're wrong.
BH: Huh?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

SP "Ok, but it really should not be all that difficult to lay out an argument for moral realism in relatively few words."

" It's not that difficult to go to a library and type "moral realism" into a search engine, either."
--All such attempts I have made have failed to produce an argument for moral realism that is absent the fallacies I mentioned above. You have not provided such an argument, nor has anybody I have ever communicated with on the subject.

Moral realism is 0 for (a big number) in my experience.

" Moral nonrealism doesn't just entail the absence of KNOWN moral truths. It entails the absence of moral truth PERIOD."
--That would be like asserting a disproof of Russell's teapot.

" What would separate a good Scheckers rule from a bad Scheckers rule, if by definition the rules are arbitrary?"
--That is decided by consensus of experience and personal judgements.

" Morality would then just be a game which everyone plays according to their own arbitrary rules, which they are free to change from moment to moment."
--That is in fact how people live their lives. Everybody does what they want, the aggregate of their wants. It's the only thing any of us can do.


May 30, 2017 11:42 AM

Chad Handley said...

"--All such attempts I have made have failed to produce an argument for moral realism that is absent the fallacies I mentioned above. You have not provided such an argument, nor has anybody I have ever communicated with on the subject."

By far the most impressive and comprehensive case for moral realism is set forth by Aquinas, working with arguments from Aristotle. Since these are among the most famous accounts of moral realism, and since you are by your own account well-read on the subject, I assume you are familiar. Where do you see these fallacies in the Aristotelian-Thomistic account?

"That is in fact how people live their lives. Everybody does what they want, the aggregate of their wants. It's the only thing any of us can do."

That is not all that people do. People argue over morality, they insist that there are real moral truths, and that they believe they know them. They believe there are things they OUGHT to be doing, things we all OUGHT to be doing. You omit from human experience those aspects that challenge your position, such as it is.

Mortal said...

Stardusty: --Ad hominem.

You are confusing a statement of fact with an argument. My posting was similar to saying "The sun is a star," or "Everest is a mountain." Neither of those statements can be accused of being a logical fallacy, because neither of them is an argument.

Same goes for my posting. Fact: Anyone who denies objective morality is either a liar or a fool. No argument made, just sayin' it like it is.

Mortal said...

the informal fallacy of the argumentum ad combox tedium: "If someone isn't willing to take the time to prove me wrong in a combox, then I am right."

I love it! Never heard this one before, but I'm going to have to remember it from now on.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

". Where do you see these fallacies in the Aristotelian-Thomistic account?"
--Ad hoc teleological assertion. Argument from authority (god). Ad hoc assertion of authority (god).

SP "That is in fact how people live their lives. Everybody does what they want, the aggregate of their wants. It's the only thing any of us can do."

" That is not all that people do. People argue over morality,"
--Which influences the wants they then act upon.

" they insist that there are real moral truths, and that they believe they know them."
--In which case they want to act according to those beliefs. Others want to act according to other beliefs. All are acting upon their wants, the aggregate of their wants.

" They believe there are things they OUGHT to be doing, things we all OUGHT to be doing."
--Some people want to act on beliefs, Others act on other wants, not necessarily moral beliefs, rather simply a desire to do one thing or another.

" You omit from human experience those aspects that challenge your position,"
--I have not noticed you pointing out any such omissions.


May 30, 2017 12:17 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Mortal said...

" Fact: Anyone who denies objective morality is either a liar or a fool."
--Ad hominem


May 30, 2017 12:36 PM

Chad Handley said...

"--Ad hoc teleological assertion. Argument from authority (god). Ad hoc assertion of authority (god)."

None of these are aspects of Aquinas' argument. The first is an understandable mistake but the second and third aren't even close. As I suspected, your claims of expertise were nothing but bluster. Go back to the library and try again.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

"--Ad hoc teleological assertion. Argument from authority (god). Ad hoc assertion of authority (god)."

None of these are aspects of Aquinas' argument.
"The teleological framework that circumscribes Aquinas’s moral philosophy has been evident throughout this essay. Indeed, Aquinas takes Aristotle’s eudaimonism to be amenable to his own theological purposes."
http://www.iep.utm.edu/aq-moral/

--The above is just one small sample of how silly it is to deny the teleological and theological aspects of the works of Aquinas on morality. Aquinas, of course, also made a teleological argument for god (the Fifth Way) that is simply an ad hoc assertion of purpose " natural bodies, act for an end" and an ad hoc assertion of god. Unsurprisingly, these ad hoc teleological and theological themes permeate his other works as well.

More to the point, nowhere does Aquinas make any sound rational argument for an absolute morality.

You seem rather fond of the "go read a book" version of argumentation. Another thing I have noticed is your reliance on "I could explain it if I wanted to but it is too long for this setting and I just don't feel like it".

Both are particularly weak methods of argumentation.

Chad Handley said...

""The teleological framework that circumscribes Aquinas’s moral philosophy has been evident throughout this essay. Indeed, Aquinas takes Aristotle’s eudaimonism to be amenable to his own theological purposes."
http://www.iep.utm.edu/aq-moral/"

Ha. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy indeed. I might have known.

Aquinas' argument depends on final causes, which are easily mistaken for teleological notions but are distinct from them. Teleology is only present where design is present, but final causes, which refer roughly to purposes, can exist with or without design. For example, whether the heart was designed or evolved has no bearing on the heart's final cause (purpose), which is to pump blood through the body.

Aquinas' arguments for natural law pretty famously do not require teleology or the existence of God to work. It only requires that there are final causes in nature. And that there are final causes isn't arbitrarily asserted it's argued for at length in Aquinas' study of Aristotle's four causes, it is one of the fundamental bedrocks of A-T metaphysics.

Now it's true that Aquinas - in a completely separate argument - goes on from there to make an argument for the existence of God based on the existence of final causes, but he does not, as you hastily assume from your frantic google search, argue for the existence of final causes on the basis of the existence of God.

"More to the point, nowhere does Aquinas make any sound rational argument for an absolute morality."

Google "natural law theory." You couldn't be more wrong.

"You seem rather fond of the "go read a book" version of argumentation."

I am when people are so transparently and dramatically ignorant of a subject that only reading a book could remedy the situation.




Chad Handley said...

Here's the thing about reading books, though: books are where the people with the most expertise make the most comprehensive case for their philosophical position.

So, if you are interested in a philosophical position, why wouldn't you be reading books about it as opposed to challenging strangers in a combox to summarize those books for you?

Do you want knowledge or just someone to talk to? If the former, read a book. If the latter, make a friend. In either case, I'm not the answer.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

" but final causes, which refer roughly to purposes,"
--Which is an ad hoc assignment.

" can exist with or without design. For example, whether the heart was designed or evolved has no bearing on the heart's final cause (purpose), which is to pump blood through the body."
--Assignment of purpose is done by the human brain as an analytical technique. The notion that an object somehow actually possesses a purpose is ancient mystical thinking.


SP "More to the point, nowhere does Aquinas make any sound rational argument for an absolute morality."

" Google "natural law theory." You couldn't be more wrong."
--I couldn't be more right. So called "natural law" provides no foundation for any sort of absolute or universal morality, and you are palpably incapable of arguing for it in your own words.

" I am when people are so transparently and dramatically ignorant of a subject that only reading a book could remedy the situation."
--So you admit your inability to make an argument for absolute morality in your own words. All you are capable of doing is citing vague references to some ancient author, or to google a subject.


May 30, 2017 2:41 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

" I'm not the answer."
--Indeed, you have demonstrated no capacity to answer questions in your own words.

That is one way in which you and I differ. On this thread, and on the previous thread from which this is a spin off, I make my own arguments in my own words, a writing skill you have thus far demonstrated no significant capacity for here.

Natural law is just a systematized and organized form of argumentum ad populum. There is no demonstration that the moral propositions derived from this so-called natural moral law are objectively true.

All one gets from natural law regarding "natural goodness", for example, are fuzzy notions of what is desired, or alternatively what is perfective or alternatively what fulfills the possibilities of human nature. None of which form any sort of argument for an absolute standard of goodness.

The standard of goodness must be postulated as good in each case. Then one can attempt to measure against that foundational postulate. This is objective only in the sense of postulating foundational positions and postulating methods of analysis and then objectively applying the postulates of process to the postulates of principles to arrive at judgements.

This is a very limited and narrow and conditional sense of the word "objective". One may assert that an objective standard has been established, but since this standard is founded on postulates of principle and process the conclusions are not universally objective, rather, only objective within the narrow postulated system.


May 30, 2017 2:52 PM

Chad Handley said...

"--Assignment of purpose is done by the human brain as an analytical technique. The notion that an object somehow actually possesses a purpose is ancient mystical thinking."

You think it's an arbitrary notion invented by humans that the purpose of the heart is to pump blood?

If your heart stops pumping blood, you want your doctor to say "Well, we could restart it pumping blood, but who are we to say that pumping blood is the heart's purpose? That's ancient mystical thinking."

Medical science is impossible if we do not assume that organs have purposes.

And that's just one example. Are you really arguing that it's not really the purpose of roots to ground a tree in place and absorb nutrients from the Earth? You think that's an arbitrary assignment of purpose by humans, and that we could have assigned some other purpose to roots?

"So you admit your inability to make an argument for absolute morality in your own words."

I admit I am completely unwilling to do so, yes. Given the arguments are widely available, that's no impediment to your learning about them.

Chad Handley said...

"That is one way in which you and I differ. On this thread, and on the previous thread from which this is a spin off, I make my own arguments in my own words, a writing skill you have thus far demonstrated no significant capacity for here."

Why would you want my words when there are better words out there from experts? I am not an expert on natural law theory, but you are quite obviously wholly ignorant of it. I couldn't completely remedy that if I wanted to - and I don't.

Pretty much everything else you said about natural law is wrong, which is to be expected when a person bluffs, gets called on his bluff, and has to quickly scramble to google to fill in the holes in his knowledge to cover his bluff. Everybody on this forum has seen this trick a thousand times, and we see right through you.

Last time: if you want to learn about natural law theory, there are plenty of books out there on it. I'm not explaining it to you; it was never my purpose to explain it to you. It was merely my purpose to use it to expose that you were bluffing.

Now, please stop begging me to talk to you. It's making me sad.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

" You think it's an arbitrary notion invented by humans that the purpose of the heart is to pump blood?"
--Where is this thing you call purpose? Is purpose made of something?

Is the purpose of a rock to provide shelter for bugs because we find bugs living under the rock?

Is the purpose of a water spring to provide me with drinking water because I drink water from it?

The assignment of "purpose" is a personification or anthropomorphization or animation of and inanimate object. It is ancient mystical thinking. Things simply do what things do. Causal effects propagate.


" Medical science is impossible if we do not assume that organs have purposes."
--False. Assignment of "purpose" is just one way people organize their thoughts. There is no fundamental necessity for purpose to really exist in order for humans to function.

" And that's just one example. Are you really arguing that it's not really the purpose of roots to ground a tree in place and absorb nutrients from the Earth?"
--Perhaps the true purpose is to prevent a mud slide, or to provide an environment for microorganisms to grow. Who knows? Things just do all the things that things do. The assignment of purpose is an artifact of our pattern seeking brain structure.

" You think that's an arbitrary assignment of purpose by humans, and that we could have assigned some other purpose to roots?"
--I just did.

SP "So you admit your inability to make an argument for absolute morality in your own words."

" I admit I am completely unwilling to do so, yes. "
--Functionally indistinguishable from inability.

Your position is like the kid on the playground "I could if I wanna I just don't wanna".

"Given the arguments are widely available, that's no impediment to your learning about them."
--Done. All arguments available that purport to demonstrate the existence of an absolute morality fail.


May 30, 2017 4:31 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

SP "That is one way in which you and I differ. On this thread, and on the previous thread from which this is a spin off, I make my own arguments in my own words, a writing skill you have thus far demonstrated no significant capacity for here."

" Why would you want my words when there are better words out there from experts? "
--Non-responsive on any substance. All you do in response to my specific arguments is say "nope, wrong, go read a book"


May 30, 2017 4:37 PM

Chad Handley said...

"Where is this thing you call purpose? Is purpose made of something?"

Do you believe in natural laws (of the scientific variety)?

If so, where are they? What are they made of?

Where is evolution and what is it made of? Where is string theory and what is it made of?

Do you believe in free will, determinism, or compatiblism? Where are these positions and what are they made of?

Some properties are not directly observable and require intellectual work to perceive; that doesn't suffice to show they aren't real.

As I understand it, natural law theorists readily admit it is sometimes hard to find the final cause of a thing and that it's possible to get the final cause of a thing wrong. That doesn't mean final causes don't exist.

"Is the purpose of a rock to provide shelter for bugs because we find bugs living under the rock?

Is the purpose of a water spring to provide me with drinking water because I drink water from it?"

That some attributions of purpose are dubious doesn't mean they all are. Your assertion here is that *all* attributions of purpose are human projections. Like all sophomoric atheists, you don't seem to understand that this position has drastic consequences. For example:

"False. Assignment of "purpose" is just one way people organize their thoughts. There is no fundamental necessity for purpose to really exist in order for humans to function."

It is a *necessary* way to organize our thoughts if we are to do medical science. Think about what would have happened if 500 years ago doctors took your view and decided that organs don't have any purposes. Where would medical science be now if doctors decided it was not the purpose of the heart to pump blood, or of white blood cells to fight infection, etc? You insist that attribution of purpose isn't necessary, so describe how medical science would work if we assume that organs have no purposes.

Things do what they do, yes quite profound. But if your heart doesn't do what the rest of our hearts do, you die. If a particular trees roots don't do what other trees roots do, it will die. A heart that pumps blood is a requirement of being a healthy, functional human being. It is therefore not arbitrary to consider this its purpose for existing in the human body.

Again, if you think it's arbitrary, try building a functional medical science of the human body under the assumption that it is not the purpose of the heart to pump blood, and we'll see how effective you are at treating cardiac patients.

"Perhaps the true purpose is to prevent a mud slide, or to provide an environment for microorganisms to grow."

This doesn't show that purpose doesn't exist, only that things can have multiple purposes.

But it's pretty difficult to argue that to ground and provide nutrients is not the function of the roots *for the tree.* It might serve other functions in the broader ecological framework, but its purpose as a faculty of the tree is (possibly among other things) to ground and feed it.

"I just did."

You listed possible additional purposes of the roots, you didn't show that grounding and feeding the tree weren't really purposes of the roots, but arbitrary attributions of human minds.

Chad Handley said...

"I make my own arguments in my own words, a writing skill you have thus far demonstrated no significant capacity for here."

I should have stopped you here. You don't make arguments, you make assertions. "Purpose isn't real" isn't an argument, it's an assertion. "All arguments for moral realism fail" isn't an argument, it's an assertion.

Mortal said...

Why do you people bother engaging this liar and/or fool? (There is no third option.)
Lets see how far his "no objective morality" goes if you steal his car, or bloody his nose for no good reason.

Give it up, guys. He's not worth your time.

Dave Duffy said...

I thought moral non-realism was dead in philosophy and most philosophers are trying to figure out how to intellectually hang people that throw a rock through their window. Perhaps I'm reading the wrong guys, or maybe they are a bunch of people who don't like being pushed around by a mob.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

" Where is evolution and what is it made of? "
--Biological evolution is a complex process that has no purpose or goal. It simply progresses by physical processes.

"Where is string theory and what is it made of?"
--String theory is a brain process with no existence outside of the dynamic processes of the brains that conceive of it.

" Do you believe in free will, determinism, or compatiblism? Where are these positions and what are they made of?"
--Same as String theory.

" As I understand it, natural law theorists readily admit it is sometimes hard to find the final cause of a thing and that it's possible to get the final cause of a thing wrong. That doesn't mean final causes don't exist."
--Nor does it mean a purpose does exist.

" It is a *necessary* way to organize our thoughts if we are to do medical science. Think about what would have happened if 500 years ago doctors took your view and decided that organs don't have any purposes. Where would medical science be now if doctors decided it was not the purpose of the heart to pump blood, or of white blood cells to fight infection, etc? "
--Irrelevant to the actual existence of purpose in an inanimate object.

"You insist that attribution of purpose isn't necessary, so describe how medical science would work if we assume that organs have no purposes."
--By simply describing how things work in relationship to other things.

" This doesn't show that purpose doesn't exist, only that things can have multiple purposes."
--Every aspect of an organism works in conjunction with the rest of the organism and its environment.

Purpose is something humans feel, as in a sense of purpose in life, a purpose for living, a purpose for having been created, and other emotional sensibilities regarding a perceived place in a sequence of social interactions. Humans tend to project these sorts of feelings onto our mechanical constructions and onto the things we observe around us. The purpose of the doorstop seems to be to hold the door open, not because that object actually is somehow endowed with any innate purpose, but because I have in my mind the intent to place that object under the door to keep it open. If I don't use for a doorstop and instead burn it in the fireplace it is not as though some innate purpose of the doorstop has been thwarted.


May 30, 2017 5:21 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Dave Duffy said...

" I thought moral non-realism was dead in philosophy and most philosophers are trying to figure out how to intellectually hang people that throw a rock through their window."
--A lack of moral absolutes does not need to paralyze us into inaction, prevent self defense, or engage in misguided liberal false equivalences.

" Perhaps I'm reading the wrong guys, or maybe they are a bunch of people who don't like being pushed around by a mob."
--Laws are made by consensus, no moral absolutes needed.


May 30, 2017 8:27 PM

Dave Duffy said...

Again, I thought philosophy was looking for more than mob rule.

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad Handley said...
"There are atheist moral realists who would agree with me."

Count me in

""[...] argument for absolute morality in your own words."
I admit I am completely unwilling to do so, yes.
"

To be frank, I did not read everything here. (Well, I skipped SP's...) But was it specified at any point whether 'absolute' and 'objective' are used interchangeably here?

It seems to me that these are 2 different concepts. First, it seems almost absurd to me to discuss whether there is such a thing as 'objective' moral truth but, unlike Mortal who calls people liars or fools, I think it's worth discussing...
However, I am not so sure about 'absolute' because it seems to imply an over-simplification of morality. Killing is bad, for instance, is not absolutely correct as there are valid reasons to kill sometimes (and there are tons of much more elaborate examples obviously). So I don't think there are some absolute rules that apply to all and every situations. That's where the word 'relative' becomes handy, but it gets tricky because one could interpret this as meaning that it's a moral relativist position, which it is not.

Jimmy S. M. said...
"The reason is that morality could have been different if we had different biology (think bees, ants, bonobos) so they're not objective in that sense"

But these are just explanations as to why the opinions of those making moral judgement differ. It does not follow that there are necessarily no objective moral truths.

""A square would still be a quadrilateral with four equal sides even if no one had ever drawn or seen a square. "

I don't think so, except maybe in an eternalism sense. I don't believe abstract objects or morality are mind independent. I'm not a platonist.

"Evolution, if true, wouldn't cease to be true if there was no one around anymore to know it was true."

That's a little different; I don't doubt natural laws, chemical reactions, planetary motion, etc would go on, in the absence of minds, I'm not an idealist.
"

I was going to write exactly the same response, with the square, so I am curious to know more about that... What does it mean to not be a Platonist here, or that abstract objects are not mind independent?

The imaginary number "i" is what it is regardless of anyone thinking about it, yet it's not something we can physically represent directly. Isn't that an example of something abstract yet mind independent?

Dave Duffy said...
"I thought moral non-realism was dead in philosophy and most philosophers are trying to figure out how to intellectually hang people that throw a rock through their window. Perhaps I'm reading the wrong guys, or maybe they are a bunch of people who don't like being pushed around by a mob."

It's really long, but you might like that:
Waking Up With Sam Harris #62 - What is True? (with Jordan B. Peterson)
I thought it was fascinating to have an Atheist argue for objective truth & realism, and a Theist argue for some form of Darwinian truth where truth is objective only on what he calls the micro-level, but always linked to survival at the macro-level.

Joe Hinman said...

Hugo, thread for you on metacrock's blog

Joe Hinman said...

oral realism on works as a theistic view.

Joe Hinman said...

Genetic basis for morality sounds Lamarckian.

grodrigues said...

@Mortal:

"Lets see how far his "no objective morality" goes if you steal his car, or bloody his nose for no good reason."

Boswell, conversing with Dr. Johnson, related about a man that maintained there was no difference between virtue and vice. This drew the following comment from the great sage:

"Why, Sir, if the fellow does not think as he speaks, he is lying; and I see not what honour he can propose to himself from having the character of a lyar. But if he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons."

To cultivate the intellectual virtues, moral virtues are necessary. From which it follows if someone maintains there is no objective difference between virtue and vice, then he is either lying on this particular subject, or if he does actually believe this sillyness, then he will lie about everything else when it suits him. Or to go back to Dr. Johnson, what he said about spoons applies equally well to conversations, intellectual dialogue, etc. There is simply no reason to trust the word of such a man -- and in point of fact, it is a common observation that such men are very casual about the truth, especially in low-risk environments like a blog combox.

For this particular conversation, one must also bear in mind another comment of Dr. Johnson (and let us remind ourselves that Johnson was extraordinarily generous), this one directed at one common acquaintance, Sheridan:

"Why, Sir, Sherry is dull, naturally dull, but it must have taken him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him. Such an excess of stupidity, Sir, is not in Nature."

Legion of Logic said...

Stardusty: "Humans tend to project these sorts of feelings onto our mechanical constructions and onto the things we observe around us."

So you would say there is no difference categorically between a puddle of water after a rainfall, and a pair of glasses with a specific prescription? Between a dead tree laying on the ground and a fort?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

" I should have stopped you here. You don't make arguments, you make assertions"
--You are welcome to join the party on Victor's page here:
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?postID=6725134901932984729&blogID=10584495&isPopup=false&page=8

I just made a strong argument that Aquinas means "move" when Aquinas writes "move".


May 30, 2017 5:33 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hugo Pelland said...

Chad Handley said...
"There are atheist moral realists who would agree with me."

" Count me in"
--Have you been listening to Sam Harris podcasts again?


" To be frank, I did not read everything here. (Well, I skipped SP's...)"
--Oooouch..this time the hurtin won't heal!

" But was it specified at any point whether 'absolute' and 'objective' are used interchangeably here?"
--That's what you get for skipping my words, you very bad bad boy. I discussed that very subject May 30, 2017 4:20 PM


May 30, 2017 10:18 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

Stardusty: "Humans tend to project these sorts of feelings onto our mechanical constructions and onto the things we observe around us."

" So you would say there is no difference categorically between a puddle of water after a rainfall, and a pair of glasses with a specific prescription? Between a dead tree laying on the ground and a fort?"
--We categorize those differences. At base those are all collections of fundamental particles/fields interacting with each other as they do, with no knowledge of any larger organizational structure or any purpose in doing what they do.

In parts of our universe existence is nothing much more than an amorphous soup of subatomic bits chaotically bouncing about. We are also just subatomic bits chaotically bouncing about, but clumped together in ways that we identify as large scale structures.

What does any of this have to do with an asserted moral realism? Why would an observation that stuff clumps together in repeatable patterns of larger scale structures somehow imply an absolute moral good?

What is this absolute moral good? I have asked this question many times and I have never gotten an answer that was demonstrably true.

Can you name a demonstrably absolute good?


May 31, 2017 4:34 AM

Joe Hinman said...

My article on Mewtacorck';s God is the first anti-Bayes article I wrote that led tom first Debate with Jeff Lowder. I'm not really agaisnt Bayes just against claiming to calculate the probability of God.

Can Bayes Calculate Probability of God? No Dice!

Stardusty Psyche said...

Joe Hinman said...

" My article on Mewtacorck';s God is the first anti-Bayes article I wrote that led tom first Debate with Jeff Lowder. I'm not really agaisnt Bayes just against claiming to calculate the probability of God.

Can Bayes Calculate Probability of God? No Dice!"
--What is the probability that you will submit an on-topic, thoughtful, well reasoned post here?

Based on your priors above it looks to be dang near zero.

Joe Hinman said...

--What is the probability that you will submit an on-topic, thoughtful, well reasoned post here?


That's really uncalled for. two a week I put up one post per day advertising my blog piece, Baht's because I put up new posts on those days,every other post I make is on topic. I don't think twice a week is to much to ask.

Rasmus Møller said...

2cents for a demonstrably absolute Good : Being itself.

Evil is a lack or imperfection in Being; Goodness is Being perfected.

Loosely from Aquinas.

Mortal said...

Despite the constant negative postings here kovfefe

Chad Handley said...

"Laws are made by consensus, no moral absolutes needed."

And if the consensus reached is a law mandating that we put every Jewish man, woman, and child into ovens and use their melted skin to make soap and lampshades, you would be fine with that?

With no moral absolutes, surely you'd agree that no consensus is inherently better than any others. The above consensus would be bad for Jewish people but great for people who like soap and lampshades made out of dead human skin. And we have no reason to prefer the desires of Jewish people who would like to live over the desires of people who like dead skin lamps.

Chad Handley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Legion of Logic said...

Stardusty: "We categorize those differences. At base those are all collections of fundamental particles/fields interacting with each other as they do, with no knowledge of any larger organizational structure or any purpose in doing what they do."

And that's why I object to taking things down to that level for every occasion - you lose the ability to determine the difference between a puddle, which was not formed with intent, and a pair of glasses, which were built with intent and thus have a purpose.

As to how this relates to morality, it's the reason I don't find the subject at all profitable - if you believe God created the universe, it makes sense to believe the universe has purpose, that life has purpose, and that there could/would be moral parameters that are objective based on the nature of the creator. If you believe that the universe is all there is, then it makes sense to believe the universe has no purpose and that life has no purpose, and that morality is nothing more than behavioral preference caused by evolution as a social species. I don't see it being possible for an atheist or a Christian to convince the other of any moral model without there first being a religious conversion or loss of belief.

Hugo Pelland said...

" If you believe that the universe is all there is, then it makes sense to believe the universe has no purpose and that life has no purpose, and that morality is nothing more than behavioral preference caused by evolution as a social species. I don't see it being possible for an atheist or a Christian to convince the other of any moral model without there first being a religious conversion or loss of belief."

That's absurd for 2 reasons.
1) You know of Atheists who agree there is objective truths and morality. It was discussed here, on the web by prominent philosophers, and for centuries by our ancestors.
2) If God exists, we can argue that he is deciding what moral model to follow, making morality a preference, but that of one person; or God does not decide because there is such a thing as objective moral truths, and we are back to 1)

Mortal said...

I gotta go with Legion on this one. There's a great posting that's relevant to this issue, over on Iliocentrism.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Rasmus Møller said...

" 2cents for a demonstrably absolute Good : Being itself."
--You mean existence, or to exist, or the fact I exist? How is that demonstrably good?

" Evil is a lack or imperfection in Being; "
--How does evil make one less existent?

"Goodness is Being perfected."
--Perfect what? How do you define perfection? What is your standard of perfection?

I think you have some notions or feelings about these things, but I don't see any demonstration of an absolute good or evil in your words.


May 31, 2017 8:08 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chad Handley said...

SP "Laws are made by consensus, no moral absolutes needed."

" And if the consensus reached is a law mandating that we put every Jewish man, woman, and child into ovens and use their melted skin to make soap and lampshades, you would be fine with that?"
--That would be counter to my personal sense of ought.

" With no moral absolutes, surely you'd agree that no consensus is inherently better than any others. "
--Not logically provably so. On the postulate that egalitarian human flourishing is good then we could make judgements about which consensus is better, but since our judgments would be based on a non-provable postulate our conclusions would not be provably true.

"The above consensus would be bad for Jewish people but great for people who like soap and lampshades made out of dead human skin. And we have no reason to prefer the desires of Jewish people who would like to live over the desires of people who like dead skin lamps."
--Ok, sounds like an argument from emotion, or personal incredulity, or perhaps not an argument at all, just an expression of your feelings.


May 31, 2017 12:11 PM

Hugo Pelland said...

I almost ignored that but I saw my name, so it was hard... Stardusty Psyche said:
"--Have you been listening to Sam Harris podcasts again?"
Interestingly enough, I am doing that right now! But it's not like it's a surprise, I specifically linked to one of his podcast... what's wrong with that?

"" To be frank, I did not read everything here. (Well, I skipped SP's...)"
--Oooouch..this time the hurtin won't heal!
"
You know why I purposely ignore what you write. But you don't care, that's the problem. So keep being a sarcastic smartass if you want. It doesn't matter... Anyway, you did bring up 1 interesting thing:

"I discussed that very subject May 30, 2017 4:20 PM
[...]
This is objective only in the sense of postulating foundational positions and postulating methods of analysis and then objectively applying the postulates of process to the postulates of principles to arrive at judgements.

This is a very limited and narrow and conditional sense of the word "objective". One may assert that an objective standard has been established, but since this standard is founded on postulates of principle and process the conclusions are not universally objective, rather, only objective within the narrow postulated system.
"

You should really listen to the podcast with Jordan Peterson, because this is what he is doing too. You have this notion of micro-objectivity, yet reject the broader objectivity. It's inconsistent.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

" As to how this relates to morality, it's the reason I don't find the subject at all profitable - ... I don't see it being possible for an atheist or a Christian to convince the other of any moral model without there first being a religious conversion or loss of belief."
--The profit, as it were, is in refutation of an argument from morality that claims absolute moral values logically or demonstrably exist, and therefore there must be a moral source which is god.

I have never gotten anybody to cite a single demonstrably absolute moral proposition. Never. I have searched. I have asked. Not any viable candidate has ever been shown to me.

That sort of argument from morality fails for its utter lack of sound argument or demonstration of its very core, at least one demonstrably absolute moral proposition.


May 31, 2017 6:22 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hugo Pelland said...

" I almost ignored that but I saw my name, so it was hard...

Stardusty Psyche said: "--Have you been listening to Sam Harris podcasts again?"

" Interestingly enough, I am doing that right now!... what's wrong with that?"
--I just had a feeling from what you were saying, that's all. Harris seems to think morality just sort of has to be based on egalitarian human flourishing, akin to judgements of good physical health. Well, as warm and fuzzy as that might make one feel, there simply is no sound rational basis for such a position.

"" To be frank, I did not read everything here. (Well, I skipped SP's...)"
--Oooouch..this time the hurtin won't heal!"
" You know why I purposely ignore what you write. But you don't care, that's the problem. So keep being a sarcastic smartass if you want."
--Danngg, don't get your boxers in a bunch there big guy. Most of my words are very serious, but when somebody singles me out for being ignored its Glenn Close time.


" You should really listen to the podcast with Jordan Peterson, because this is what he is doing too. You have this notion of micro-objectivity, yet reject the broader objectivity. It's inconsistent."
--Inconsistent with what? Increasing the size of the finite closed system is not a qualitative change.

If we make 10 postulates in system A, and 100 postulates in system B, both remain closed systems. At what degree of "broader" does a closed system of objectivity somehow become something other than a closed system of objectivity?

To make a determination of absolute morality we cannot found our system on postulates, rather, demonstrably true moral propositions. The problem with that is that nobody has ever stated one, not even one, only zero.


May 31, 2017 9:21 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hugo Pelland said...

" 1) You know of Atheists who agree there is objective truths and morality. It was discussed here, on the web by prominent philosophers, and for centuries by our ancestors."
--Not soundly. Atheists who assert moral absolutes suffer from wishful thinking.


May 31, 2017 6:37 PM

Hugo Pelland said...

Stardusty Psyche said...
" Harris seems to think morality just sort of has to be based on egalitarian human flourishing, akin to judgements of good physical health."
That's what I don't like reading your comments. There is often these little snipets of what you 'think' some other position is, instead of addressing it. You did that with mine on several occasions. Here you do it with Harris. At least you put the words 'seems to' in front, showing that you are not certain, but why wouldn't you just quote him if you want to address some of his position? Moreover, the point that he does raise in the podcast I linked to is only that he is a moral realist. Hence, he is both an Atheist and believe in objective moral truths.

But you don't. And what is inconsistent with your position is that you say that there is such a thing as an objective moral truth, even if you start with just 1, or a few, but then also claim that there is no such thing as objective moral truths because they depend on the system that was created subjectively. That's a contradiction. If we agree that there is such a thing as say, justice, objectively, then it does not matter that we are defining it; it's still something objective. We are trying to do our best to figure out what's objectively just, but we are not moving back to something subjective.

You know what's fascinating here? You are doing the same dance as Legion of Logic did above, but from an Atheistic perspective. To him, I said:

"That's absurd for 2 reasons.
1) You know of Atheists who agree there is objective truths and morality. It was discussed here, on the web by prominent philosophers, and for centuries by our ancestors.
2) If God exists, we can argue that he is deciding what moral model to follow, making morality a preference, but that of one person; or God does not decide because there is such a thing as objective moral truths, and we are back to 1)"

To you, it's a bit different:

Your positions is absurd for 2 reasons.
1) You know of Atheists who agree there is objective truths and morality. It was discussed here, on the web by prominent philosophers, and for centuries by our ancestors.
2) If objective moral truths do not exist, it implies that people are deciding what moral model to follow, making morality a preference, that of a few people, and nothing can be said to be moral or not, as the system could be changed; or, it is true that people are not the deciders, because there is such a thing as objective moral truths, and we are back to 1)

Hugo Pelland said...

It's funny how you had written about what I was writing about, but I posted it after as it was longer and got distracted... anyway, you think it's wishful thinking. Great argument; anything else?

David Brightly said...

Chad: With no moral absolutes . . . we have no reason to prefer the desires of Jewish people who would like to live over the desires of people who like dead skin lamps.

This perhaps highlights where our differences lie. The irrealist might ask why we need a reason for this preference. Can't we just say that we value people's lives more than their persecutor's soft furnishings and are prepared to stand up for them and we don't know why?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hugo Pelland said...

Stardusty Psyche said...
" Harris seems to think morality just sort of has to be based on egalitarian human flourishing, akin to judgements of good physical health."

" There is often these little snipets of what you 'think' some other position is, instead of addressing it."
--I don't "think Harris compares morality to health in order to give egalitarian human flourishing a quasi absolute status. I know it because I have heard him say it repeatedly."

" Hence, he is both an Atheist and believe in objective moral truths."
--If by "objective" one means "absolute" that is an incoherent atheist position.

" But you don't. And what is inconsistent with your position is that you say that there is such a thing as an objective moral truth, even if you start with just 1, or a few, but then also claim that there is no such thing as objective moral truths because they depend on the system that was created subjectively. That's a contradiction. "
--No, you just don't understand the difference between "objective" meaning "universal" or "absolute" versus "objective" meaning to navigate by postulated rules based on postulates of principle.

The latter is what we do in mathematics to reach objectively true mathematical answers. The former is an incoherent atheist position.



" You know what's fascinating here? You are doing the same dance as Legion of Logic did above, but from an Atheistic perspective. "
--LoL, like W L Craig, is correct in saying on atheism there can be no objective morality in the sense of absolute moral propositions.

"That's absurd for 2 reasons.
" 1) You know of Atheists who agree there is objective truths and morality."
--Those atheists are wrong.

" 2) If God exists, we can argue that he is deciding what moral model to follow, making morality a preference, but that of one person;"
--On the speculation of a perfectly wise and good person that decision would be perfectly true and good.


Your positions is absurd for 2 reasons.
" 1) You know of Atheists who agree there is objective truths and morality. It was discussed here, on the web by prominent philosophers, and for centuries by our ancestors."
--They are wrong.

" 2) If objective moral truths do not exist, it implies that people are deciding what moral model to follow, making morality a preference, that of a few people, and nothing can be said to be moral or not, as the system could be changed; "
--Yes, that is the case.

"or, it is true that people are not the deciders, because there is such a thing as objective moral truths, and we are back to 1)""
--Nothing of the sort has ever been demonstrated.


May 31, 2017 10:19 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hugo Pelland said...

" It's funny how you had written about what I was writing about, but I posted it after as it was longer and got distracted... anyway, you think it's wishful thinking. Great argument;"
--I have argued against absolute morality throughout this thread and it's predecessor. I do not intend to repost the full argument with every post I make.

That statement was just a simple assertion based on my arguments already presented.

" anything else?"
--Yes, I want you to do the following
1. State a demonstrably absolutely true moral proposition of any kind.
2. Clearly summarize the reasoning behind an atheistic assertion of an absolute morality.

May 31, 2017 10:30 PM

Hugo Pelland said...

SP, you ask me to prove demonstrate a position I do not hold. That's where EVERY single encounter I have with you leads to. Therefore...

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hugo Pelland said...

" anything else?"
--Yes, I want you to do the following
1. State a demonstrably absolutely true moral proposition of any kind.
2. Clearly summarize the reasoning behind an atheistic assertion of an absolute morality.

" SP, you ask me to prove demonstrate a position I do not hold. That's where EVERY single encounter I have with you leads to. Therefore..."
--Ok, so you agree that moral nonrealism is the case. The notion of absolute morality is not the case.

Yet you somehow accused me of inconsistency and failing to see some sort of broader picture.

What happens in our encounters is that I exposed the poorly thought through aspects of your assertions.


June 01, 2017 9:45 PM

Hugo Pelland said...

Ok, let me try this: I do not agree there is such a thing as an "absolutely true moral proposition of any kind". Yet, you asked me to prove that position. Will you concede you were wrong to ask me to do that?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Hugo Pelland said...

" Ok, let me try this: I do not agree there is such a thing as an "absolutely true moral proposition of any kind". "
--Ok, so you think moral nonrealism is the case.

"Yet, you asked me to prove that position. Will you concede you were wrong to ask me to do that?"
--You told me I was somehow being inconsistent in asserting moral nonrealism. Yet you assert moral nonrealism.

I think you thought a recognition of objectivity within a closed system of logic was somehow inconsistent with denial of objective moral propositions in the sense of moral absolutes.

Both uses of the term "objective" are appropriate in the two different contexts but it is important to be clear as to which sense of the word is being employed.


June 02, 2017 1:43 PM

Hugo Pelland said...

Yes or no: I do not agree there is such a thing as an "absolutely true moral proposition of any kind". Yet, you asked me to prove that position. Will you concede you were wrong to ask me to do that?