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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Greta
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Greta » Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:25 am

Given the patchy and implausible claims of theism, the Golden Rule would seem the only simple and logical standard of morality. However, its limitations are made clear by human behaviours when there are serious conflicts of interest.

Basically we are selfish animals, like any other species, unless we manage to contrive a situation where we benefit from cooperation. The long and relatively stable climatic period that allowed humans to refine their sensibilities - making this topic possible - is coming to a close. As the stakes rise, questions about morality will become increasingly moot and distorted by propaganda. In the end, we look after ourselves and our own first, and if we feel we have sufficient resources, we might (or might not) extend that circle of concern to other humans and/or species.

In the aftermath of WWI and WWII came a determination to learn from our mistakes. The aftermath of whatever environmental and political disasters are heading our way this century will no doubt bring a similar moral resolve - "never again".

Of course the new moral codes will most likely be diluted by subsequent generations, as have all moral codes before it. It's a lottery, a work in progress (with the usual three steps forward, two back, staggered dynamic) and, when it's all too hard there's still the Golden Rule to provide at least some moral grounding.

Dubious
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Dubious » Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:35 pm

From God to tax collectors one cannot critique objective morality because such never existed. What rules we invent or invoke to control our behavior are societally imprinted only for as long as the majority adhere which in turn depends on the well being of the society which claims it. Objective Morality is an oxymoron as long as humans are massively changeable. If progress is meant to filter out our most salient errors then morality is required to keep pace and do the same.

uwot
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by uwot » Sun Apr 10, 2016 9:12 pm

Dubious, me old mucker, you have clearly been on the happy juice, because the above needs a serious edit.

Dubious
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Dubious » Sun Apr 10, 2016 9:35 pm

uwot wrote:Dubious, me old mucker, you have clearly been on the happy juice, because the above needs a serious edit.
Perhaps, in what way and I'm listening.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

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

Greta wrote:Given the patchy and implausible claims of theism, the Golden Rule would seem the only simple and logical standard of morality. However, its limitations are made clear by human behaviours when there are serious conflicts of interest.
Bad news, Greta. Not only is the Golden Rule not supportable by neutral "logic," it's a Biblical artifact, in fact. If you think that God said it, well and good...you might have a case to make. If you think it's just some sort of brain impulse humans may sometimes have, what makes us obliged to pay any attention to it?

What's more, many traditions have nothing like it. Nietzsche, for example, thought it was merely an expression of "slave morality," and poured contempt on it. Ayn Rand had no truck with it either. Some traditions have something like it but specifically only for their own tribe or kind, and hold that "outsiders" or "heretics" or "the unprogressive" can be destroyed at will. It's not universal, so you will need to prove to the doubters -- including those who believe in no objective moral standards at all (such as many of the other commenters on this strand) that your idea of the Golden Rule is obligatory on them.

Good luck. You're going to need it; because once you throw Theism overboard, there's no authority in the world that can compel anyone to take the Golden Rule -- or any other moral rule -- seriously. The answer every time is "Yeah? Sez who?" (Hmmm...I seem to be channelling Henry...) :D

The skeptics of objective morality are surely right about that...if there's no God, there's no substance to moral obligation either. All there is are the provisional social arrangements of power groups that ebb and flow as we all jockey for power...and among them, the Golden Rule enjoys no privilege.
Basically we are selfish animals...In the end, we look after ourselves and our own first, and if we feel we have sufficient resources, we might (or might not) extend that circle of concern to other humans and/or species.
But the Golden Rule says we ought not to be what you say we are. So now you're advocating going against human nature. You're going to need some strong line of reasoning to back that.
It's a lottery, a work in progress (with the usual three steps forward, two back, staggered dynamic)
But if you say you detect "progress" in the moral trajectory of humanity, you must also have a standard by which that "progress" is being made evident to you. That means there must be "benchmarks" you can discern that show that we are getting better, not worse. So what is your measurement system, and why should the doubters here believe in it?
and, when it's all too hard there's still the Golden Rule to provide at least some moral grounding.
This would only be some kind of consolation if you could show anyone they were obliged to follow it. Can you?

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:57 am

uwot wrote:Dubious, me old mucker, you have clearly been on the happy juice, because the above needs a serious edit.
Perfectly clear and accurate to me.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:00 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Greta wrote:Given the patchy and implausible claims of theism, the Golden Rule would seem the only simple and logical standard of morality. However, its limitations are made clear by human behaviours when there are serious conflicts of interest.
Bad news, Greta. Not only is the Golden Rule not supportable by neutral "logic," it's a Biblical artifact, in fact.
Prove it!
You will need to achieve this on two accounts for it to be deemed an artefact of the Bible:
1) That it is in the Bible unambiguously.
2) That it does not predate the Bible and is not a borrowing.

Dubious
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Dubious » Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:58 am

The Golden Rule is the perfect pronouncement which we as HUMANS expect from each other without inclusion or consideration of any differences which invariably exist individually or culturally. The Bible is only a late iteration of it. Everything that Jesus spoke was a restatement of what was already known and acknowledged. The Bible as a whole provides very little authority of its own being mostly an assemblage of prior knowledge customized to the needs of ONE people. The Golden Rule and its mate the Silver Rule are exempt of all such human codifications for validation. Being expressive of commonality it's the one equalization parameter which suppresses and surpasses all differences in human interaction. Though authorities may infringe it there is no authority which can negate it.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:42 am

Dubious wrote:The Golden Rule and its mate the Silver Rule are exempt of all such human codifications for validation. Being expressive of commonality it's the one equalization parameter which suppresses and surpasses all differences in human interaction. Though authorities may infringe it there is no authority which can negate it.
Ah. A believer in objective morality! I did not expect you here. :shock:

Well, aren't you going to have some fun with this crew... :D

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Greta
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Greta » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:54 am

Greta wrote:Given the patchy and implausible claims of theism, the Golden Rule would seem the only simple and logical standard of morality. However, its limitations are made clear by human behaviours when there are serious conflicts of interest.
Immanuel Can wrote:Bad news, Greta. Not only is the Golden Rule not supportable by neutral "logic," it's a Biblical artifact, in fact. If you think that God said it, well and good...you might have a case to make. If you think it's just some sort of brain impulse humans may sometimes have, what makes us obliged to pay any attention to it?

... Good luck. You're going to need it; because once you throw Theism overboard, there's no authority in the world that can compel anyone to take the Golden Rule -- or any other moral rule -- seriously. The answer every time is "Yeah? Sez who?" (Hmmm...I seem to be channelling Henry...) :D
Immanuel, I have highlighted the quoted first para of my prior post as a response. Just in case you don't yet have clarity, I do not believe in Iron Age (or other) myths.

Later on when I pointed out that we are "selfish animals" who "look after ourselves and our own first" you again ignored the paragraph highlighted above with this response:
Immanuel Can wrote:But the Golden Rule says we ought not to be what you say we are. So now you're advocating going against human nature. You're going to need some strong line of reasoning to back that.
Again, it was covered in that first para.

I don't think the Golden Rule is a brain impulse either, which is a meaningless notion. You might as well say it's a bunch of atoms. Yay.

I just think the Golden Rule, despite its limitations, is the best we have and the only moral model that makes sense to me, because it appeals to my sense of fairness. I suspect that, like millions of others, you saw the video with a Capuchin monkey beautifully illustrating how a sense of fair play in social animals started a long time before hominids first climbed down from the trees.
Immanuel Can wrote:What's more, many traditions have nothing like it. Nietzsche, for example, thought it was merely an expression of "slave morality," and poured contempt on it. Ayn Rand had no truck with it either.
Nietzsche thought that women were inferior to men, so I'm not about to take much that he says seriously. Ayn Rand's philosophies were put in practice in Margaret Thatcher's Britain and the nation never fully recovered, so I'm not convinced by her ethos of selfishness. Yes, selfishness is always the bottom line but Thatcher's Rand-based administration undervalued the powerful synergistic feedback loops of cooperation, and broke them.

I care more for observed phenomena than the ideas of those who weren't informed by the modern age. Game theory is of interest here. Repeated iteration of the Prisoners' Dilemma game find that a simple strategy called Tit-for-Tat (similar to the Golden Rule - see http://www.prisoners-dilemma.com/strategies.html) is a strong and adaptable performer in various populations.

In a benign population where most people cooperate, a more "forgiving" strategy like Tit-for-Two-Tats will outperform the simple mirroring of Tit-for-Tat. However, a population of Tit-for-Two-Tats can be easily overcome by even a simple negative strategies like "Always Defect" (the strategy "Grim Trigger" can handle "Always Defect" by isolating the recalcitrants and building a cooperative population together, so there we see how the Golden Rule is not so effective as an absolute, but as a baseline).

Life goes by too quickly for me to be too fussy with moral codes. If I become too precious with my morality then I often fail to reach our expectations and, worse, get confused and miss obvious solutions when confronted by fast-paced, complex problems. So I prefer a simple a robust strategy like the Golden Rule and be more focused on particular (practical) detail than the abstract detail of a complex morality.

Dubious
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Dubious » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:18 am

Immanuel Can wrote: Ah. A believer in objective morality! I did not expect you here. :shock:
Not really! or only if it consisted of the ONE directive being the least abstract and the most fundamental, applicable to all that denotes itself as human or acknowledges the ubiquity of human nature.

But having said that, the Golden Rule doesn't really adjust to the various norms of morality which are more likely to be inscribed by cultural attitudes. Instead, it commences in a mutual bond of empathy based on one's common humanity without interference from anyone's indigenous habits of behavior where any mention of objectivity immediately creates a series of contradictions.

Must say, your skill in reconditioning the thoughts of others to suit your own is absolutely amazing and whatever seems superfluous is either ignored or simply thrown out. Your thought methodology seems to ride on nothing more than inclusion when it fits and hiatus when it doesn't, in short, as required.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:26 am

Dubious wrote: Must say, your skill in reconditioning the thoughts of others to suit your own is absolutely amazing and whatever seems superfluous is either ignored or simply thrown out.
Indeed. IC has no talent for philosophical debate but I predict a bright future for him were he to turn his hand to politics, in which ignoring direct questions and misrepresenting the views of others is an important skill.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:58 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Dubious wrote:The Golden Rule and its mate the Silver Rule are exempt of all such human codifications for validation. Being expressive of commonality it's the one equalization parameter which suppresses and surpasses all differences in human interaction. Though authorities may infringe it there is no authority which can negate it.
Ah. A believer in objective morality! I did not expect you here. :shock:

Well, aren't you going to have some fun with this crew... :D

It's not surprising the the right wing collect like bird of a feather, united in the oppression of free thinking, and with the aim to control and command the world under the guise of god given powers.

What is amusing is that IC has already shot himself in the foot by claiming that the Golden Rule was invented by the writers of the Bible and NOT in fact "objectively moral".

Again what is not surprising is that IC would never be able to see that.

But when all is said and done the Golden Rule is a choice, and only understood by a small groups of humans, both in its acceptance and in its empirical denial, and therefore no more "objective" than the love of Marmite.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:39 pm

Greta wrote:
Greta wrote:Given the patchy and implausible claims of theism, the Golden Rule would seem the only simple and logical standard of morality.
To which I replied,
Immanuel Can wrote:Bad news, Greta. Not only is the Golden Rule not supportable by neutral "logic,"...
This would seem to show I did not ignore your opening comment. Rather, I denied it. That's different.

You continued,
Greta wrote:However, its limitations are made clear by human behaviours when there are serious conflicts of interest.
So now let me get this straight: you DON'T believe the Golden Rule is a basic moral universal. In fact, you believe that any thought of this being a basic moral universals is voided by the observation that "human behaviours" impose "limitations" that become clear when there are "serious issues of interest." Is that right?

I'm trying to understand you here, not misrepresent you. I'm just unclear how mentioning the GR at all is supposed to be informative if, as you seem to say in the next breath, it actually isn't morally binding or workable in real life.

Please clarify.
I just think the Golden Rule, despite its limitations, is the best we have and the only moral model that makes sense to me, because it appeals to my sense of fairness.
And my question in return would be, "What do you say about those to whom it makes no sense or appeals to no sense of fairness they think they need to honour?" You mention some later, such as Nietzsche, Rand...(we could go on, of course, with laissez-faire capitalists, moral relativists, National Socialists, and several members of this very strand, by their own professions.) Not everybody believes in the GR...in fact, as you point out, even many of those who claim to don't find it helpful in practical terms.

Now, you say you don't like Thatcher, and you don't like Nietzsche, for this reason and that. Fine. But I think you can see that "don't like" is an insufficient critique, isn't it? Others DID like them.

Now where do you go with that? Were they morally "wrong"? Or were they just "different from you?"
Life goes by too quickly for me to be too fussy with moral codes. If I become too precious with my morality then I often fail to reach our expectations and, worse, get confused and miss obvious solutions when confronted by fast-paced, complex problems. So I prefer a simple a robust strategy like the Golden Rule and be more focused on particular (practical) detail than the abstract detail of a complex morality.
This suggests that you're really just a moral pragmatist (not fussy with moral codes), and that the GR is merely an option you personally prefer for small scale ("detail") thinking. (Of course, that means it's anything but "robust" for you: it's actually very modestly applicable in your system, this would seem to suggest.)

Have I understood you accurately now?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:44 pm

Dubious wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote: Ah. A believer in objective morality! I did not expect you here. :shock:
Not really! or only if it consisted of the ONE directive being the least abstract and the most fundamental, applicable to all that denotes itself as human or acknowledges the ubiquity of human nature.
Analytically, that's sufficient for "moral objectivist." One such precept is logically enough. You don't need two or three...let alone 10, 613, or whatever anyone else opts for. You believe in a primary, objective moral principle, which you identify as the GR.

You call it "ubiquitous," "fundamental," and "applicable to all"...so please explain, how can these adjectives be true, and yet the principle you cite not be "objective" as well?

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