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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uwot
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by uwot » Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:19 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:You need a universal axiom or, by definition, no one else in the world is either rationally or morally obliged to pay any attention to your preference.
We've been here before, Mr Can: that's why we have the law. I do not need a universal axiom to support or oppose laws.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:01 pm

uwot wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:You need a universal axiom or, by definition, no one else in the world is either rationally or morally obliged to pay any attention to your preference.
We've been here before, Mr Can: that's why we have the law. I do not need a universal axiom to support or oppose laws.
That's because you've not yet seen it. You imagine that your "opposition" or "support" can possibly count for something if it's only you that's backing it. But none of us -- not me, and not you -- has any authority to compel morality upon others.

You judge the law as "right": you must do so on the basis of a universal axiom, or you've got nothing. You judge it as "wrong" or "unjust": you can only do so by assuming a universal axiom. No axiom? No power to judge...not even a basis for personal judgment, actually.

The difference between you and me, so far, on that point is this: I know that I'm doing it, whereas (so far) you are, by your own profession, simply oblivious to the fact that you've been relying on universal axioms all along.

Or will you respond that I'm "wrong" for saying so? But then, you cannot even state that without the axiom, "It's wrong to misrepresent people's views."

uwot
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by uwot » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:05 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:You imagine that your "opposition" or "support" can possibly count for something if it's only you that's backing it.
It's called democracy, Mr Can.
Immanuel Can wrote:But none of us -- not me, and not you -- has any authority to compel morality upon others.
That's right, Mr Can. That's why we have the law.
Immanuel Can wrote:You judge the law as "right": you must do so on the basis of a universal axiom, or you've got nothing.
I know enough about the philosophical history of ethics to know that there never has been a universal axiom that is ever likely to be universally accepted. Not everyone is a religious nut, Mr Can, and with no theological axe to grind, some of us can advocate pluralism and tolerance and support laws that promote those things. Throw in a bit of social and economic redistribution and you pretty well cover my interest in politics.
Some of what I think is 'wrong' is specifically advocated by the bible. We have mentioned slavery and circumcision, the only purpose of which is to desensitise the glans and reduce sexual pleasure, there are many more. Even you have to pick and choose, so clearly the bible contains no universal axioms in the way you demand.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:34 pm

uwot wrote:It's called democracy, Mr Can.
Actually, it's called "justification." You need to justify your confidence by reference to a universal truth that binds other people to accept your argument.
Immanuel Can wrote:But none of us -- not me, and not you -- has any authority to compel morality upon others.
That's right, Mr Can. That's why we have the law.
Hah. You've already admitted you don't think law= right, but you can't say why you believe it either. See below...
Immanuel Can wrote:You judge the law as "right": you must do so on the basis of a universal axiom, or you've got nothing.
That remains true. All you're saying is essentially, "I, uwot, like X," or "I, uwot, do not like Y." You're not capable of convincing anyone else they owe it to join you in your assessment. And you can't show that the laws you "like" are good ones.
I know enough about the philosophical history of ethics to know that there never has been a universal axiom that is ever likely to be universally accepted.
Universally moral does not imply universally accepted. You've made a category error there, an unwarranted amphiboly.

Everybody realizes that a person may run afoul of a moral precept with which that person does not happen to agree. That's why we don't ask prisoners if they feel agreement about our sending them to jail if they've committed a crime. We recognize that their agreement is not the issue: the rightness/wrongness of their action is.

Your second fallacy is to think truth and consensus are related. That's easy to disprove. At one time in history, 100% of the world, including the best and brightest, all believed the world was flat. And every last one of them was wrong. If objective morality exists, it would not matter how many people decided they disagreed with it.

It is not necessary for people to accept that, for example, rape is wrong for rape to be wrong. It is objectively wrong. And if you say it's only subjectively wrong, then you are giving permission to every other person but yourself to do it. If that's a consequence you accept, then fine. If not, you've got a problem.
some of us can advocate pluralism and tolerance and support laws that promote those things.
Actually, I can, but logically you can't. You just don't know why you can't. "Advocate" has no meaning if you don't have any moral standards to defend. And you can't tell me why "pluralism" and "tolerance" ought to be values, because you insist they're subjective.

Meanwhile, by insisting that I ought to believe in them, you've invoked yet another universal moral judgment. You should be more consistent: if moral judgments are all relative, nothing I can say to you can be 'wrong" or "bad" -- at least, not in any sense that a rational person is bound to accept.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:00 pm

IC. How can one know this universal moral position which you claim must bind us all? If you say that a particular action is good and I say that it is bad then by what objective standard would a third party be able to judge which of us is right?

For instance I reckon that brainwashing children into believing in the supernatural is the single greatest harm which our species can inflict on subsequent generations, and can offer billions of corpses and countless other devastated lives as supportive evidence. No doubt you would take a different view and attempt to argue your case but would our hypothetical third party not be right to weigh your arguments against mine and determine for himself which case is the stronger one? Surely ethics is all about making reasoned choices?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:45 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:IC. How can one know this universal moral position which you claim must bind us all?
Good question...but hold it for a minute, because how we know which universal moral position is moot if we are not convinced such a thing can even exist. And I see I haven't yet convinced everyone that such a thing is even possible. Let's see if I can do anything about that first.
If you say that a particular action is good and I say that it is bad then by what objective standard would a third party be able to judge which of us is right?

The answer to that wouldn't be hard IF such a thing as an objective moral standard existed. Then it would be very easy, wouldn't it? But you're right to realize that if such a standard did not exist, it would be impossible to know.

An aside, though: that is the very state that moral relativists claim exists. They hold that there is simply no way to know who is right...about any moral situation.
For instance I reckon that brainwashing children into believing in the supernatural is the single greatest harm which our species can inflict on subsequent generations, and can offer billions of corpses and countless other devastated lives as supportive evidence.
You'd state that case, perhaps; but would you put the up against the 148 million killed by self-declared secular ideologues in the last century? Or would you brush those deaths aside, and pretend that they never happened?

Just wondering... :?
No doubt you would take a different view and attempt to argue your case but would our hypothetical third party not be right to weigh your arguments against mine and determine for himself which case is the stronger one?
Well, first I'd have to show that brainwashing or killing people were actually wrong . That might seem too obvious to you and me, because perhaps we intuitively agree on that; but a relativist is in no position to be able to do it. That third party would surely wish to know what standard to use in order to make his judgment: and part of that standard would surely be the belief in a universal axiom against brainwashing and killing. Absent that, the third party could make no judgment at all.

Surely ethics is all about making reasoned choices?
Yes: but both "reason" and "choice" entail that we are not in a moral vacuum. If we don't have any solid ethical precept, then whatever "reasons" we find cannot bind anyone...not even ourselves. And if we have no criteria of right and wrong, then how on earth would we ever know how to make an ethical "choice"?

So I would argue that ethics IS about those things, yes; but not ONLY about those things. "Choices" are not good in themselves -- some can be "bad," no? And "reason" is only ever as good as the premises upon which it draws: there can be "bad" reasons, no?

Obvious Leo
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:06 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:The answer to that wouldn't be hard IF such a thing as an objective moral standard existed. Then it would be very easy, wouldn't it?
In that case please answer the question.

prof
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by prof » Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:25 pm

Greta wrote: The Golden Rule...can't do everything but it can cover for many situations in a pinch. One of the few things I truly believe in is the intrinsic value of love and kindness. As with any belief, there is no valid rational explanation for it ... underpinning the simple fact that I am attracted to love and kindness.
Greta

:) Wouldn't you say that the writings of Dr. Katz offer some rational explanation for why you find these values attractive? N'est pas? 8) 8)

See - if you have a program named 'Dropbox' - Ethics As Science (2000)
f[color=#0040FF][u]ile:///C:/Users/Marv ... u][/color]

ETHICS FOR THE 21st CENTURY: Keys to the good life (2015)
http://www.myqol.com/wadeharvey/PDFs/ET ... ENTURY.pdf

and, especially: SUCCESSFUL LIVING: How to have a quality life (2016)
http://www.myqol.com/wadeharvey/PDFs/Su ... 20life.pdf

LIVING THE GOOD LIFE (2007)
http://wadeharvey.myqol.com/wadeharvey/ ... _Lifef.pdf

LIVING WELL: How ethics helps us flourish (Nov. 2015)
http://www.myqol.com/wadeharvey/PDFs/LI ... ourish.pdf

After you check these out, and give them a fair perusing, let me know your impressions. Did it explain? Was it helpful? Did you pick up any tools for discussing ethics with your friends and acquaintances? Did you get any notions as to how to get good ideas together with good teachers? Etc.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:14 am

Obvious Leo wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:The answer to that wouldn't be hard IF such a thing as an objective moral standard existed. Then it would be very easy, wouldn't it?
In that case please answer the question.
I thought I had. The answer is obvious: IF there actually is such a standard, then if two people disagree you just use whatever the actual objective moral standard is, and judge the case by that, of course. The "third man" then has his answer.

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Greta
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Greta » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:20 am

prof wrote:
Greta wrote: The Golden Rule...can't do everything but it can cover for many situations in a pinch. One of the few things I truly believe in is the intrinsic value of love and kindness. As with any belief, there is no valid rational explanation for it ... underpinning the simple fact that I am attracted to love and kindness.
Greta

:) Wouldn't you say that the writings of Dr. Katz offer some rational explanation for why you find these values attractive? N'est pas? 8) 8)
Non monsieur. J'ai seulement une heure à perdre - et vous me ai donné 133 pages de devoirs!!

Obvious Leo
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:53 am

Immanuel Can wrote: IF there actually is such a standard, then if two people disagree you just use whatever the actual objective moral standard is, and judge the case by that, of course.
If you can't see the circularity of this argument then we have a problem.

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A_Seagull
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by A_Seagull » Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:16 am

Immanuel Can wrote:[
Actually, it's called "justification." You need to justify your confidence by reference to a universal truth that binds other people to accept your argument.
.
Can you justify that, or is it just an opinion?

Or to put it more bluntly, that is complete nonsense.

uwot
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by uwot » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:03 am

Immanuel Can wrote:You need to justify your confidence by reference to a universal truth that binds other people to accept your argument.
The world simply doesn't work like that. I have made the point that there deontological and consequential theories of ethics. Deontologists, like you, insist there is an authority, or a set of rules, that we simply have to obey. Consequentialists, like myself, start with some definition of 'moral' along the lines of 'not causing unnecessary distress or harm'. It doesn't matter what god thinks, there is no Platonic 'form' of 'moral', any more than there is for 'blue', it is simply what the word means.
Immanuel Can wrote:You've already admitted you don't think law= right...
Several times.
Immanuel Can wrote:...but you can't say why you believe it either.
You are tripping over yourself. I don't have say why I believe something I don't think.
Immanuel Can wrote:All you're saying is essentially, "I, uwot, like X," or "I, uwot, do not like Y." You're not capable of convincing anyone else they owe it to join you in your assessment. And you can't show that the laws you "like" are good ones.
What planet are you on? Nobody owes me anything, if I can't convince them, I either accept defeat or I keep fighting; that is what happens in the real world.
Immanuel Can wrote:Universally moral does not imply universally accepted. You've made a category error there, an unwarranted amphiboly.
The point I was making is that even if there is a set of god given laws, because of our 'free will', some people will not believe it. Even god knows that.
Immanuel Can wrote:Everybody realizes that a person may run afoul of a moral precept with which that person does not happen to agree. That's why we don't ask prisoners if they feel agreement about our sending them to jail if they've committed a crime.
Prisoners run afoul of the law. As I keep saying, the law and morality are not the same thing, and it is absurb to suggest that criminals are not familiar with the law, even if that is what Socrates argued.
Immanuel Can wrote:Your second fallacy is to think truth and consensus are related.
I have not said anything that you can attribute that to. It is just your poor logic that makes you think otherwise. You are bearing false witness again.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:03 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:If you can't see the circularity of this argument then we have a problem.
Perhaps the problem is that you may have overlooked the emphatic hypothetical "IF." I was not asking you to believe it (yet), and I wasn't asking you to concede my hypothetical condition to be true (yet): it's sufficient if you realize what would be the case IF I could make such a case.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:05 pm

A_Seagull wrote:Can you justify that, or is it just an opinion?
It's straightforward and definitional. A "justification" is quite different from an "opinion," even at the conceptual level. See the dictionary...I'll let you choose the volume.

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