How To Tell Right From Wrong

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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Dalek Prime
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by Dalek Prime »

How To Tell Right From Wrong?

The spelling.

Next!!?
uwot
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by uwot »

Immanuel Can wrote:Wait a minute: you say that Atheists evoke a Christian standard? That's bizarre. Why would they invoke the Golden Rule of Jesus Christ, given that they don't believe what He said?
Well it's not "the Golden Rule of Jesus Christ". As it says in this Wikipedia article:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule wrote: Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition"
The idea that it is an exclusively Christian standard is demonstrably false, because there are versions that are centuries, even millennia, older than Jesus Christ himself.
You also clearly do not understand what atheists believe; it is not that everything attributed to Jesus is untrue, rather it is that the claim that Jesus is 'the son of god' has a plausibility somewhere between nil and not much.
Immanuel Can wrote:And what would lead them to believe anyone else ought to believe what they themselves refuse to accept as authoritative? That's just self-contradictory. They've no association with the Golden Rule. And they've no answer as to why we are duty-bound to obey it.
Duty has little or no role in ethics. If one simply does their duty, they are a negligible moral agent, because they have at best made one moral decision; ie It is moral to do ones duty.
Immanuel Can wrote:"The outcome of the agent" is also obviously inadequate: because it is entirely indistinguishable from amoralism or egocentricity.
You have put quotation marks around something I did not say.
Immanuel Can wrote:What makes it a "moral" view at all, and why should anybody who doubts it think it's right? That's the problem.
What I said was: "the morality of an action is provisional according to the intended outcome of the agent." It is the intention to minimise distress or suffering, or spread joy and happiness, if you wish, that is dependent on a human beings ability to empathise with another one. Some people cannot do this, they're called psychopaths and are a problem for everyone.
marjoram_blues
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by marjoram_blues »

Immanuel Can wrote:
Obvious Leo wrote:However if you wish to insist on proper procedure you may instead validate your claim that there is such a thing as an objective morality and then you may go on to explain how the nature of such a morality might be arrived at.
I will be delighted to do so. But first, I am still waiting for an Atheist to give me anything plausible that legitimizes morality for him/her. This is now my fourth time of asking.

And when I get that, I will, as always, respond in kind. Fair play is fair play.
IC, you are being ridiculous. There is no need for anyone on this particular thread to give you anything about atheism and morality. You have gone over this ground umpteen times. I suggest that anyone who wishes to 'see' or receive various responses to this issue, can use the Search box provided, top right corner. Atheism and Morality; either separately or together.
If you haven't 'got' it by now - you have to ask yourself why not. What obstacle is blocking your understanding?
marjoram_blues
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by marjoram_blues »

uwot wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:When I left I had put up an opportunity for all the Atheists out there. I had simply put to them HOW they know right from wrong. That is, what is their ground or legitimation for saying X is bad or good. For if, as AS assumes, Christians need some way of testing the matter of "right" and "wrong," then surely so do the Atheists (unless being "Atheist" means being amoral, as Nietzsche thought).

And all I've heard since I put up that opportunity is the crickets chirping.

So I want to put it out there one more time: Atheists, time to step up to the plate (or wicket). Take your best swing.
I thought I would bring this to your attention, Immanuel Can viewtopic.php?f=8&t=16386 . Ask and ye shall receive.
Uwot - great idea, and courteous to AS, to start a new thread. However, there has already been plenty said about atheism and morality that should have slated IC's apparent continual thirst. I can only think that IC simply loves the arguments, over and over. He's good at it - years, if not decades, of practice. He's seen and heard it all...a gazillion times before...
Having said that - it is a real treat to witness. The twisting and the turning. Great learning experience, especially when all parties point out the fallacies and how the arguments are managed.
thedoc
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by thedoc »

Dalek Prime wrote:How To Tell Right From Wrong?

The spelling.

Next!!?
Wow!

Does the same apply to left and right?
marjoram_blues
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by marjoram_blues »

Hi AS
Thanks for our last exchange, I understand and appreciate all you have written. I know that you wanted to keep the thread about 'how Christians can tell right or wrong' - and you have explained very well 'the place' you are 'coming from'.

I don't intend to reply point by point - far too many of them, and again - it detracts from your stated aims. However - can I just say that your thread title and following discussion has - so far- attracted 3,261 views and 500 replies. I wonder how many would have travelled this learning journey, if your strict boundary had been adhered to? I say 'Congratulations!' for what I see, in the main, as a very successful thread.

You wrote that you are coming from a Christian perspective because you are aware that atheists don't have the same running commentary in their heads as you have been indoctrinated/trained to think. So, how could they know?

To this I would say that many atheists/agnostics have been brought up within a Christian background. Also, philosophers/others might not know personally about this way of thinking, however there is such a thing as second-hand knowledge, imagination and empathy. Either way, anyone on a philosophy forum can challenge anyone's thinking process and resulting conclusions/beliefs.

I don't think it is 'rubbish' that you cope with the words of God in your head. I agree that it is difficult to change an ingrained way of thinking. My concern is that it is made more difficult if we continue to use the words and concepts of any indoctrination that we wish to leave. Like 'sin' and 'heaven' and 'hell'.

As to 'the quiet contemplation of what God would think...' Fair enough. Except Judgement Day is a lifetime too late. People are held accountable now - in the real world. That is why I asked the questions re your 'personal accountability'. Also, what you meant by 'sin' - not your sin but the concept of 'sin'.

Finally, I disagree with your opinion that your thread topic, related points and personal views can't be discussed within a secular framework.
That is the whole point of philosophy.

'It's hard to discuss Christianity' - well, ain't that the truth :)
Dalek Prime
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by Dalek Prime »

thedoc wrote:
Dalek Prime wrote:How To Tell Right From Wrong?

The spelling.

Next!!?
Wow!

Does the same apply to left and right?
If the letters don't match...
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Immanuel Can
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by Immanuel Can »

Lacewing wrote:So why would it matter at all if a person was an atheist? If someone tries to say that atheists don't have a moral compass, that's just ignorance -- and perhaps an attempt to insist on the necessity of belief in a god, and therefore validating ones own "rightness" for doing so?
Ah, but the question is not "Can Atheists be good?" for the answer to that is, as you say, very obvious: they can certainly choose to be if they wish, just as we all can. And it's certainly not premised on any assumption that Atheists can only be bad people. That would be unreasonable, obviously. Nor is the question, "Do Atheists have any moral compass?" for Christians already assert that they do -- that God has put within every person some knowledge of objective right and wrong...so that doesn't even become a contentious issue for either side.

The real question is "Why do they HAVE to be good?" That is, what moral compulsion does any morality have, given any worldview premised on Atheism.

Thanks for your starting point. It's a helpful place to begin, and it lets us explain the central question properly.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by Immanuel Can »

uwot wrote:Well it's not "the Golden Rule of Jesus Christ". As it says in this Wikipedia article:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule wrote: Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition"
Well, I hate to be blunt, but you'll find that both Wiki and Blackburn are simply wrong about that. I understand their mental mistake, because it's a very common one: they're mistaking the negative version of the Golden Rule, the one that only implies "leave people alone," for the positive one, which mandates "Do to others what you would have them do to you."

There are, in fact, only four traditions in which there is a positive version of the Golden Rule...Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and then also Sikhism. But in Islam, the application is strictly limited to males of the Muslim faith, with absolutely no such obligations "infidels," Jews or Christians, and only the interpretive possibility of any consideration of Muslim females...no explicit orders on that. And Sikhism is generally accepted by experts as derivative on it's version of the Golden Rule.

Only Christianity has the Golden Rule applying positively and universally. But please, don't believe me. Check it yourself, and you'll find out I'm right.

But now, all of that is unimportant. Because even if all of the religious traditions DID have the GR, that would still fail to show in any way that the GR was right. For it might well be a very widely-believed mistake, instead of a core truth. And since, on an Atheist view, there is no price to be paid for NOT following the GR, why should we not, say, appear to honour it to fool our neighbours, and then secretly shaft them all, so long as we believe they'll never detect it or we're willing to assume the associated risk they will? You would have to show that.

For again, the enemy of the Atheist's attempt to form any moral justification is not the Christian...it's the Nihilist. :shock: It's not the person who agrees that morality exists: it's the person who is a skeptic, who denies that morality has any objective authority. He's the guy you've got to beat.

And the Nihilist has no reason to accept the Golden Rule unless you can give him one.
The idea that it is an exclusively Christian standard is demonstrably false, because there are versions that are centuries, even millennia, older than Jesus Christ himself.
Only Judaism has any such thing, and even there it's questionable as to whom it includes. Moreover, since Jesus Christ clearly saw Himself within that Jewish tradition, if we can regard the Judaic version as a precursor, then that's really no surprise at all. Everybody else has only the "leave everyone alone" version.

But again, that would be irrelevant. A Nihilist will not be convinced.
You also clearly do not understand what atheists believe; it is not that everything attributed to Jesus is untrue, rather it is that the claim that Jesus is 'the son of god' has a plausibility somewhere between nil and not much.

That makes no sense either. For then, why regard Him as a moral authority when you believe most of what He said were lies or delusions? And to know that, the Atheist would have to have a standard external to the one offered by Jesus Christ, one that showed them he was "wrong" in some way. And what standard would that be?
Duty has little or no role in ethics.
This is incorrect. "Duty," in ethical-speak, simply means "moral obligation," or "oughtness." If a precept is nothing you "ought" to do -- that is, if it comes with no duty to obey it, then it's not in any sense an ethical or moral directive. If we only had to do what we feel like doing, never what we don't feel like doing but ought to do, that is, have a duty to do in spite of our feelings, we would need no ethics at all.

That's basic to the field.
You have put quotation marks around something I did not say.
Well, you certainly said it below. See your quotation of yourself...unless your'e objecting to the word "the". :D
What I said was: "the morality of an action is provisional according to the intended outcome of the agent." It is the intention to minimise distress or suffering, or spread joy and happiness, if you wish, that is dependent on a human beings ability to empathise with another one. Some people cannot do this, they're called psychopaths and are a problem for everyone.
Well, here you say essentially that you think joy and happiness are good and suffering is bad. I'm sure most people feel the same way, despite the problems of some suffering being good (as when a weightlifter pains his muscles to improve his body, for example), and some happiness being bad (as when a molester really enjoys his activities). And you've also said that if people do not do it then society rejects them.

But you've begged the question: what makes society's rejection "right," and what shows that people who disagree with your view are "bad," and hence deserving of social ostracism and a label like "psychopath"? :shock:
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Lacewing
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by Lacewing »

Immanuel Can wrote: The real question is "Why do they HAVE to be good?" That is, what moral compulsion does any morality have, given any worldview premised on Atheism.
Okay, so it sounds like (from other posts) this has been discussed at length, so I don't want to bore anyone with my (perhaps repetitive) response. But I will take the risk 8) and say that the question "Why do atheists HAVE to be good?" is like putting random words together that don't go together. Why do pilots have to be good? Why do sisters have to be good? "Atheist" is a category... that's all. Atheists, pilots, and sisters are all PEOPLE. So the question that makes sense (for me) to try and answer is "Why do people have to be good?" Dividing people up into categories (even god/no-god categories) in order to determine common/universal attributes across that category is pointless and impossible. The universe just isn't that compartmentalized... as far as I can tell. WE are the ones making up the categories and assigning meaning to them. We are the ones proclaiming what is "truth" and who is right or wrong. So the ultimate answer (for me) would be, nobody has to do anything... even if they have a belief system that they think tells them they must. We are making it all up.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by Immanuel Can »

marjoram_blues wrote:However, there has already been plenty said about atheism and morality that should have slated IC's apparent continual thirst. I can only think that IC simply loves the arguments, over and over. He's good at it - years, if not decades, of practice. He's seen and heard it all...a gazillion times before...

Having said that - it is a real treat to witness. The twisting and the turning. Great learning experience, especially when all parties point out the fallacies and how the arguments are managed.
I think that maybe buried in here is a kind of compliment. :lol: I'll have to read it several times to be sure.

I'm glad you're finding the discussion somewhat interesting, MB; that's at least good. My "continual thirst"? It was at the deliberate provocation of the early interlocutors that I, with a heavy sigh, agreed belatedly to join the fray. :roll: It seemed at that time that they wanted a Christian interlocutor. But I think they were looking for an easy one, one who would try faintly to reply once or twice, and then bow out under the weight of mere scorn. I did not do that: and that is the "continual" bit.

It's like the Bard wrote: "Beware / Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, / Bear ’t that th' opposèd may beware of thee. :)

However, I am conscious that there comes a tipping point at which there is no more to be gained: at some point, all interlocutors inclined to think about what is being discussed have changed their minds, and all those hardened into their positions will not change further. And when that happens, the strand will simply die for lack of meaningful Christian opposition to a premise directed specifically to Christians, originally.

We are, perhaps, at that point. It is abundantly evident, I think, to any fair-minded observer, that Christianity has a moral basis in its own worldview. For IF we assume the existence of God, then we need look no further for an ultimate answer to what morality is grounded in; but IF we assume Atheism, we have nothing...we are inevitably plunged into moral Nihilism, on the one hand, or into some sort of ungrounded, arbitrary, force-based "morality" on the other.

There is no one less well-positioned to criticize Christian morality than the Atheist: for he truly has nothing by way of moral legitimation. And the agnostic is in an even worse position: for he has an admitted nothing by way of legitimation.

How to tell right from wrong? The Christian has a mechanism and an authority -- he/she has a "how." Atheists or agnostics have no mechanism and no authority...nada. :shock:

And lest I tire you beyond your deserving...for you have been one of the patient and thoughtful contributors, to be sure...and on the assumptions that others feel your pain, I am now content, upon your exhortation, to retire the field. At least this one. 8)
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Lacewing
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by Lacewing »

Immanuel Can wrote: The Christian has a mechanism and an authority -- he/she has a "how." Atheists or agnostics have no mechanism and no authority...nada. :shock:
How about this: It doesn't matter what the framework is -- what matters is how it's built and used. You seem to be arguing for a certain framework that you think is built and used for the best purpose. Yes? And that's based on you thinking there's an ultimate purpose, right? So if some people think there is no ultimate purpose, but they still honor and contribute very positively to this collective experience, how does that invalidate the framework they use?
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by Obvious Leo »

Lacewing. I like your point about "ultimate purpose". To a theist this is a valid construct with universal applicability but one strewn with logical fallacies. The ultimate purpose is embodied in the notion of the eternal being but the definition of this purpose remains the work of other humans appointed to interpret it. The individual is not free to interpret god's purpose for himself. Over the millennia this notion of god's purpose has been very much a movable feast as various societies have evolved, so in what sense are we to consider such a purpose "ultimate"? To a non-believer the notion of a life of purpose can equally be a valid construct but in no way can such a purpose be considered ultimate or universal. The non-believer is free to define his purpose for himself and furthermore he is free to change his definition as many times as he feels necessary throughout the course of his life. This Is what lies at the heart of the Socratic principle of the examined life.
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Lacewing
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by Lacewing »

Obvious Leo wrote:Lacewing. I like your point about "ultimate purpose". To a theist this is a valid construct with universal applicability but one strewn with logical fallacies. /... Over the millennia this notion of god's purpose has been very much a movable feast as various societies have evolved, so in what sense are we to consider such a purpose "ultimate"?
Yes!

I do not mean to offend anyone when I say: I can't decide whether the idea of applying an "ultimate purpose" to ALL is more arrogance or ignorance? I mean, truly, it's just unfathomable to me to support such an idea. Not only because we clearly cannot KNOW such a thing... but also because none of us are in any position to dictate rightness and truth upon all else. And yet we seem to do it all the time! Surely it's a type of primitive human madness.
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Re: How To Tell Right From Wrong

Post by attofishpi »

Lacewing wrote:
Obvious Leo wrote:Lacewing. I like your point about "ultimate purpose". To a theist this is a valid construct with universal applicability but one strewn with logical fallacies. /... Over the millennia this notion of god's purpose has been very much a movable feast as various societies have evolved, so in what sense are we to consider such a purpose "ultimate"?
Yes!

I do not mean to offend anyone when I say: I can't decide whether the idea of applying an "ultimate purpose" to ALL is more arrogance or ignorance? I mean, truly, it's just unfathomable to me to support such an idea. Not only because we clearly cannot KNOW such a thing... but also because none of us are in any position to dictate rightness and truth upon all else. And yet we seem to do it all the time! Surely it's a type of primitive human madness.
I think from a theist perspective, one must ultimately think upon one's actions here in this life that could affect where one ends up in one's next life.
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