A Critique on Objective Morality

Should you think about your duty, or about the consequences of your actions? Or should you concentrate on becoming a good person?

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sat Oct 29, 2016 11:19 am

creativesoul wrote:There are foundational, operative, and quite universal common denominators within all thought/belief. These remain extant even after removing all the individual particulars. I would not call them "objective" because they require a subject. They are elemental constituents of thought/belief. Thought/belief requires an capable agent. I would not call them "subjective" because without any possibility of being objective, there is no possibility of "subjective" being meaningful. It is inadequate anyway. The dichotomy cannot properly take account of truth and meaning. Everything ever thought, spoken, and/or written necessarily presupposes both truth and meaning. Thus...
So, what would you call objective. Or are you of a mind to not bother with such a term.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by creativesoul » Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:11 pm

It's ill-conceived. Nothing thought, believed, and/or stated can be properly accounted for.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:59 pm

creativesoul wrote:Immanuel Can,

You're arguing with your own imagination. I put forth the standard definition of morality.
I must have missed that. Humour me, and recite your "standard definition" again, please.
I also made a claim regarding the fact of all known moralities being determined and/or directly influenced by historical, cultural, and familial particulars.
And I've demonstrated to you that that is totally irrelevant to the question above, namely the existence or non-existence of morality.
I've offered no argument, therefore there's no possibility for fallacious argumentation.
That will be true only if you are not intending us to understand the existence of the elements you listed above (historical, cultural, familial) as relevant to the question. But if you didn't intend that, then it's quite bizarre that you mentioned them at all. Why talk about that which you would be admitting is totally off topic? :shock:
I've made no claims about 'relative answers', so you're off target there as well.
Well, again, why mention those factors then? It makes no sense, in light of the topic at the top of the page. If I've made an error in assuming you were trying to imply something, I think it's a pretty natural error. My assumption was simply that you were trying to say something relevant. But you say you were not? :?
You've invoked, ironically enough, mathematics as support for your line of thinking on the matter. The only reason 2+2=4 is because the definitions of those symbols have strict meaning. Numbers are nothing more and nothing less than names of quantities. Those names and the quantities which they refer to, signify, symbolize, and/or 'represent' are iron clad. We do not let it equal anything else.

What they mean however is completely subject/relative to humankind, for there is no meaning inherently within any symbol/sign/signifier.
Not strictly speaking true. The symbols are arbitrary, but the reality they attempt to represent is assuredly not. So they're not subjective in the way that you require in making that claim.

In the same way, human "moralities" could be attempts to symbolically represent the "reality" of objective morality. Even if they were different, that would neither argue for nor against any "reality" to which they were attempting to refer. If morality IS objective (and note, I'm saying "if", not claiming you must believe it is so) then any deviation from them is a failing on human beings' parts to represent that objective reality adequately, not a failure of that morality to be objective.
The same holds good for the term "morality". I'm reading through your posts here, and it seems to me that you're not using the term in order to refer to codes of conduct.
No, I'm speaking of morality ITSELF being objective, just as the header of the strand does. I'm not making a mere sociological comment, like the trivial observation that people happen sometimes to have different views of morality (which nobody doubts, but doesn't matter anyway), but an ontological one, namely the question of whether or not there exists a single, objective morality (to which, possibly, human moralities attempt, with differing degrees of success, to refer).

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by creativesoul » Tue Nov 01, 2016 6:44 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
creativesoul wrote:
You're arguing with your own imagination. I put forth the standard definition of morality.
I must have missed that. Humour me, and recite your "standard definition" again, please.
It's not mine, rather it's current convention's. I linked it in my last reply to you.

Go look for yourself...


Immanuel Can wrote:
creativesoul wrote:I also made a claim regarding the fact of all known moralities being determined and/or directly influenced by historical, cultural, and familial particulars.
And I've demonstrated to you that that is totally irrelevant to the question above, namely the existence or non-existence of morality.
You've demonstrated no such thing. What in the hell are you trying to say anyway? Whether or not morality exists isn't in question. There are as many moralities as there are codes of conduct. What is in question would be the following:What could sensibly, appropriately, and rightly be called "universal morality". That said, if you want to argue about the subjective/objective dichotomy, you'll have to go elsewhere. I have no use for such an emaciated (mis)conception.

I understand that the thread had the title. I've already explained the reasons for rejecting the objective/subjective dichotomy. When I first entered the thread, I clearly expressed what I'd be willing to argue... universal morality.


Immanuel Can wrote:
creativesoul wrote: I've offered no argument, therefore there's no possibility for fallacious argumentation.
That will be true only if you are not intending us to understand the existence of the elements you listed above (historical, cultural, familial) as relevant to the question. But if you didn't intend that, then it's quite bizarre that you mentioned them at all. Why talk about that which you would be admitting is totally off topic? :shock:
It doesn't follow from the fact that I've yet to have offered an argument that what I have offered is off topic. It does follow from the facts that I've not offered an argument, and that you've levied a charge which requires my having offered one that that charge is false.


Immanuel Can wrote:
creativesoul wrote: I've made no claims about 'relative answers', so you're off target there as well.
Well, again, why mention those factors then? It makes no sense, in light of the topic at the top of the page. If I've made an error in assuming you were trying to imply something, I think it's a pretty natural error. My assumption was simply that you were trying to say something relevant. But you say you were not? :?
I didn't mention "relative answers". I used the term "relative". The term makes perfect sense in all sorts of different contexts, including but not limited to discussions about morality. It makes no sense to you because you've been misattributing meaning. My assertion was that all known moralities are subject/relative to historical, cultural, and familial particulars. There are no exceptions to the contrary. If you disagree then give an example of a code of conduct that isn't agreed upon, established by, and thus in some way or other peculiar to and directly influenced by that community.


Immanuel Can wrote:
creativesoul wrote: You've invoked, ironically enough, mathematics as support for your line of thinking on the matter. The only reason 2+2=4 is because the definitions of those symbols have strict meaning. Numbers are nothing more and nothing less than names of quantities. Those names and the quantities which they refer to, signify, symbolize, and/or 'represent' are iron clad. We do not let it equal anything else.

What they mean however is completely subject/relative to humankind, for there is no meaning inherently within any symbol/sign/signifier.
Not strictly speaking true. The symbols are arbitrary, but the reality they attempt to represent is assuredly not.
Yeah well, this discussion will most likely not get anywhere interesting. It seems you've got all caught up in historical philosophical mistakes such as the objective/subjective dichotomy. As a result you've a gross misunderstanding of what meaning consists of and thus what it is existentially contingent upon. The objective/subjective dichotomy cannot take proper account of thought/belief, truth, and/or meaning. Since it cannot take proper account of thought/belief, it cannot take proper account of anything that's ever been thought, believed, stated, and/or written...


...So they're not subjective in the way that you require in making that claim.
As above...

I'm not arguing anything about this that or the other being subjective. I've no use for such ill-conceived notions.


In the same way, human "moralities" could be attempts to symbolically represent the "reality" of objective morality. Even if they were different, that would neither argue for nor against any "reality" to which they were attempting to refer. If morality IS objective (and note, I'm saying "if", not claiming you must believe it is so) then any deviation from them is a failing on human beings' parts to represent that objective reality adequately, not a failure of that morality to be objective.
An objective morality would require it's own separate existence from humankind which necessarily presupposes and unnecessarily multiplies moral agents/entities. Is it possible? Sure. I'd never argue against that logical possibility. However, there is no further discrimination possible. Logical possibility alone does not warrant belief, otherwise we'd believe everything logically possible, which is impossible due to self-contradiction. None-the-less...

Immanuel Can wrote:
creativesoul wrote:The same holds good for the term "morality". I'm reading through your posts here, and it seems to me that you're not using the term in order to refer to codes of conduct.
No, I'm speaking of morality ITSELF being objective, just as the header of the strand does. I'm not making a mere sociological comment, like the trivial observation that people happen sometimes to have different views of morality (which nobody doubts, but doesn't matter anyway), but an ontological one, namely the question of whether or not there exists a single, objective morality (to which, possibly, human moralities attempt, with differing degrees of success, to refer).
The bewitchment of language in action. It makes no sense to say that morality itself is anything other than the way we use the term "morality". As I already mentioned, the standard definition has been offered. I'm not making it up, I'm simply offering it up for the reader's convenience.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Nov 01, 2016 3:21 pm

creativesoul wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:
creativesoul wrote:
You're arguing with your own imagination. I put forth the standard definition of morality.
I must have missed that. Humour me, and recite your "standard definition" again, please.
It's not mine, rather it's current convention's. I linked it in my last reply to you.

Go look for yourself...
I did.

And when I did, I found that it read, "There does not seem to be much reason to think that a single definition of morality will be applicable to all moral discussions."

And yet, you assert that your "definition" is "standard." Your own source says that it cannot be taken that way. And I would argue that they are quite right: one's definition of the meaning of the word "morality" has to be attentive to the context of the discussion...that is, it must be offered in a way that is "provisional," a kind of "working definition" that two people can discuss and modify through discovery, not a pre-fixed point upon which no further discussion is possible.

In other words, not "standard." Debatable.
What is in question would be the following: What could sensibly, appropriately, and rightly be called "universal morality". That said, if you want to argue about the subjective/objective dichotomy, you'll have to go elsewhere. I have no use for such an emaciated (mis)conception.

Sociologically "universal," or legitimatively "universal"? It makes a difference.

If you say "sociologically," then there is indeed no universal agreement among cultures. However, that's trivial, and everybody with any sense already knows it, don't they? But if you say "legitimatively," then whether or not there is sociological disagreement is irrelevant to the question. Culture groups are often mistaken in their estimation of facts. Nothing is unusual about that. The facts exist anyway.

Let's pick a horse and ride it: do you want to talk about the sociological angle or the legitimative one?
I understand that the thread had the title. I've already explained the reasons for rejecting the objective/subjective dichotomy. When I first entered the thread, I clearly expressed what I'd be willing to argue... universal morality.
Oh. Well, you'll have to start a new thread, then. This one's on the "objective / subjective" controversy. See at the top. It's only fair we stick to what's provided, so far as we are able. It's not hard to start a separate strand if we want one.
...My assertion was that all known moralities are subject/relative to historical, cultural, and familial particulars. There are no exceptions to the contrary.
I've agreed with this, if what you mean is "the right or wrong ideas people happen have about what is right or wrong," but will disagree if you mean to imply, "therefore there is evidence there is no objective morality."
If you disagree then give an example of a code of conduct that isn't agreed upon, established by, and thus in some way or other peculiar to and directly influenced by that community.
IF (notice the hypothetical conditional) the moral code were established by the Supreme Being, it would not be relative to local culture and community. Their "relationship" with it would start and stop at the point of figuring out how to apply it in their local context: but the objective precept would not change thereby.

There's your example.
Yeah well, this discussion will most likely not get anywhere interesting.
Sorry you think so.
It seems you've got all caught up in historical philosophical mistakes such as the objective/subjective dichotomy.
Well, it IS, after all, the topic of the strand...
The objective/subjective dichotomy cannot take proper account of thought/belief, truth, and/or meaning.
Of course it can. It's the subjective perspective that's vulnerable on that point.
Since it cannot take proper account of thought/belief, it cannot take proper account of anything that's ever been thought, believed, stated, and/or written...
Are you claiming that statement as objectively true? Or are you just blowing smoke with that one? :wink:
I'm not arguing anything about this that or the other being subjective. I've no use for such ill-conceived notions.
Is that also objectively true?
An objective morality would require it's own separate existence from humankind which necessarily presupposes and unnecessarily multiplies moral agents/entities. Is it possible? Sure.
Oh, good...you figured it out.
I'd never argue against that logical possibility. However, there is no further discrimination possible. Logical possibility alone does not warrant belief, otherwise we'd believe everything logically possible, which is impossible due to self-contradiction. None-the-less...
No, possibility does not. But actuality does. And the point of entertaining a "possibility" is to recognize the potential that it just might turn out to be an "actuality." That is, so long as you mean the normal thing by "possible."
The bewitchment of language in action. It makes no sense to say that morality itself is anything other than the way we use the term "morality".
Sure it does, IF (again, notice the hypothetical conditional) "morality" is not merely a human product, but is actually grounded in an external reality or a super-human intelligence. Then how a particular community tends to "use" the term can be judged by its proximity to how accurately such "usage" conforms to the objective reality of morality.
As I already mentioned, the standard definition has been offered. I'm not making it up, I'm simply offering it up for the reader's convenience.
But as I noted above, your definition is not only not standard, but the authority to which you refer claims quite plainly that it cannot be such. A "definition" it is: "standard," it is not. And a definition is always less "convenient" than "confounding" if it does not apply well to the required context.

The real problem is this: that I'm a Christian and you're evidently secular. The basic secular assumption is that whatever "morality" is, it can only be a human phenomenon, one generated among human beings and just as contingent as they are. The Christian assumption is that some moral language is like that, but that some can also be drawn based on the objective truth about what morality is, as it is established in the mind of, and by authority of God.

Consequently, so long as you insist that morality can ONLY be a contingent product of human activities, then it will all be subjective -- arbitrary -- unreal, except in a sociological sense. Even if it is ever made "universal," there will still be no authority by the raw, cruel power of political force behind it. There will be no such thing as really "legitimate" morality at all, and anyone breaking it will not be "immoral," but rather a force for some sort of liberation or chaos, whichever you prefer.

But if morality is established ultimately in the mind of God, then the truth about it is objective, and human articulations of it are merely contingent, sociologically-relative attempts to articulate the ultimate truth. The are all judged based on their proximity to the truth.

So admittedly, we see the ontological landscape differently. And if we allow it, this difference will inevitably make me seem perverse, superstitious and obdurate to you, and if I didn't think about it, would surely make you seem closed-off, amoral and indifferent-to-the-truth to me...unless we first give each other credit for coming from different ontological suppositions, in which case we may still be able to have a conversation that goes somewhere you want to go.

It always takes a certain spirit of charity to persist with someone of different ontological suppositions. But there's no "bewitchment," just the perplexities of two different worldviews.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by creativesoul » Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:32 am

You ought read a bit further down in the article.

So, we're at an obvious need for you to define "morality". On my view, and when used in moral discourse, it refers to codes of conduct.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by creativesoul » Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:44 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
...The real problem is this: that I'm a Christian and you're evidently secular. The basic secular assumption is that whatever "morality" is, it can only be a human phenomenon, one generated among human beings and just as contingent as they are. The Christian assumption is that some moral language is like that, but that some can also be drawn based on the objective truth about what morality is, as it is established in the mind of, and by authority of God.
Are you claiming that God's morality is objective, and that it did not arrive at your doorstep via humans?

:?

You see, on my view, everything ever thought/believed, spoken, and/or written comes through a subject, and is thus necessarily subjective. Now, that is not to say that I'm a subjectivist. To quite the contrary, if everything thought/believed, spoken, and/or written is subjective, then there is no thing as objective thought/belief, speech, and/or writing. Thus, I grant the entire argument and rightfully throw the dichotomy out the window, for if there is no objective thought/belief, speech, and/or writing then the very notion of what it means to be subjective is left empty. Where there is no objective there can be no subjective, for being properly called subjective requires possibility of being otherwise(objective).

Everything is a goat.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:24 pm

creativesoul wrote:Are you claiming that God's morality is objective, and that it did not arrive at your doorstep via humans?

:?
No, but you're not totally firing wide. What I'm claiming is that God's nature is the objective ground for all morality. And I'm claiming that only to the extend that a human's account of morality is comparable to that nature is it justifiable at all.

In short, it would not matter how many "codes" humans invented. Humans themselves cannot ground a moral code, because they are indifferently-moral, contingent beings; and for them, there is no way but raw power for them to make it obligatory to anyone. Moreover, the code needs to govern their relations, and being all on the same value-footing, they cannot transcendently justify their particular codes where they are in conflict with other people's codes. Humans cannot explain, on an independent basis, why it is better to baptize children than to immolate them, or why it is more moral to honour women than to force them to wear a black shroud. In the human account, everything is equal, nothing is genuinely "moral," and only power rules -- just as Nietzsche said it did.
You see, on my view, everything ever thought/believed, spoken, and/or written comes through a subject, and is thus necessarily subjective.

I see.

Well, perhaps the danger in such a statement is the error known as "amphiboly" or "equivocation of terms." For "subjective" can mean a) delivered by a "subject," or person, or b) non-objective, decidable only on subject preference, not on fact. If you mean the same "subjective" when you say it all "comes through a subject" as you do when you say "is subjective," then the statement may not be factually untrue: particularly if you mean only a). But if you mean a) in the first phrase, but b) in the second, then it's an error of amphiboly. That is, it's a violation of the principle that a logical statement, in order to be valid, must respect the Law of Identity and keep all its terms meaning only one thing at a time.

Pause, if you don't mind, and please take careful stock of what I say above before going on to the rest of the message: because grasping what I'm trying to say about a) and b) definitions being different is the key to understanding what I try to explain below. I intend no offence: I'm just struggling with the logic you offer in the ensuing explanation, and am trying to convey what I'm struggling with.
Now, that is not to say that I'm a subjectivist. To quite the contrary, if everything thought/believed, spoken, and/or written is subjective, then there is no thing as objective thought/belief, speech, and/or writing.
Yes, that would be the outcome. I agree you're wise to avoid it.
Thus, I grant the entire argument and rightfully throw the dichotomy out the window, for if there is no objective thought/belief, speech, and/or writing then the very notion of what it means to be subjective is left empty.
Ah. That looks to me like a conclusion you've perhaps drawn on an insufficient basis; but only if you mean that because of definition a) you conclude b), and thus reject the whole idea of objectivity. That would be both unnecessary and errant from a logical perspective. The "necessity" you mention then wouldn't follow, and you would be making an error called a non-sequitur. There would be no reason from a) to conclude b). In "solving" the problem, then, you would have misidentified it because of the earlier equivocation.

Is that argument, ie. a) = b), what you intended to assert, or have I misunderstood altogether?
Where there is no objective there can be no subjective, for being properly called subjective requires possibility of being otherwise(objective).
Well, that would be true, but would render the claim, "reality is subjective" incoherent. For the word "subjective" would describe absolutely everything, and so nothing-in-particular. It would be a word like "thing": one that described everything, so nothing.

To beat that, you would at least have to acknowledge that "objectivity" was itself a different "thing" -- perhaps a delusion practiced by uninformed types like me -- and thus was a "thing" distinct from "subjectivity" in order for the word to mean anything at all.

I think perhaps that's what you meant to say: that objectivity is a real concept, since people believe in it, but an error as a descriptor of reality?

Am I right?

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:39 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
creativesoul wrote:Are you claiming that God's morality is objective, and that it did not arrive at your doorstep via humans?

:?
No, but you're not totally firing wide. What I'm claiming is that God's nature is the objective ground for all morality.
i.e. Yes, that is exactly what he is claiming. He just thinks that changing the way he says it means he can avoid making such an obviously stupid claim.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by creativesoul » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:04 am

And you know the mind of God, I presume?

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Nov 08, 2016 1:47 pm

creativesoul wrote:And you know the mind of God, I presume?
Was that addressed to me? You didn't hit "quote," so I can't tell. I'll venture an answer for you, on the assumption it was.

The mind of God would surely be His to reveal if He happened to wish, no? And if you and I can speak coherently to one another and, for example, express opinions and views with a measure of mutual understanding, would there be any reason to suppose (at least in in theory) that a Supreme Being would be expected to have difficulty achieving something so modest that even we can routinely do it? :shock:

God could speak, or self-reveal in some way. But you're right: absent such speaking or self-revelation, we would plausibly be blind on the subject, wouldn't we?

So the only question is, Has God spoken?

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by creativesoul » Wed Nov 09, 2016 6:09 am

IF (notice the hypothetical conditional) the moral code were established by the Supreme Being...
Is the Supreme Being a part of the phenomenal realm or the Noumenal realm?

The latter is the only acceptable answer.

Surely a creator of the universe would exist entirely independently of the universe. Surely, because everything known to humans is that which appears in space and time, that the only common sense question left to ask is this one...

When, where, and/or how does the Supreme Being appear in space and time in order to bestow upon us humans this code of conduct which is not existentially contingent upon human thought/belief systems?

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