What could make morality objective?

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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Immanuel Can
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:35 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:12 pm
Not so. You misunderstand validity. The conclusion must be entaiied by the premises. And your premises don't establish that the purposes of a god are necessarily morally right or good.
Actually, you're mixing up "validity" and "soundness." "Validity" entails no particular content-truthfulness: a syllogism can be said to be valid even if every premise and the conclusion are untrue. For example:

All dogs are cats.
All cats are fish.
Therefore, all dogs are fish.


That syllogism is considered philosophically and formally "valid."

What you're contesting is the "soundness." Your terminology is wrong. You're going with colloquial usage, instead of accurate nomenclature.
In the conclusion, you introduce the claim that to go against the purposes of a god is to be morally in the wrong - which is not what the premises say.
Premises need not contain a definition of every word used. But as it is, in my last response I supplied the necessary definition of "God" which makes this complaint obsolete.
1 Establishing that there is a god - and which god is the god.
Not a problem. You didn't ask me to do that in your original challenge. It is an good secondary question: but it is not essential to the challenge you put forth.
2 Establishing that a god's - or anyone's - moral opinions can be objective - factually true, independent of opinion.
You would find that's analytical in the conception "God," if understood rightly. So again, this is an obsolete objection.

There's a difference between us arguing the claim "God exists," (ontological) and us arguing what follows logically "IF it turns out that God exists" (hypothetic-deductive). Our discussion thus far has been confined to the hypothetic-deductive. If I understood your original challenge -- that is, if you said what you meant -- the challenge was to see if objective morality could be justified on any set of premises. You've resisted accepting that your objection is entirely suppositional on your part: that since you don't believe in God, no actual morality exists either. But it's true.

Now let's see if you can do better on your side: give me your syllogism showing that morality is subjective.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:45 pm

I added my last comment too late. You'd already rushed in without thinking it through.

You're wrong about validity, which is to do with the structure of the argument: do the premises entail the conclusion? To do so, there can be no information in the conclusion that's not contained in the premises - and this has nothing to do with the truth-value of the information. Your premises do not say that a god's purposes are morally right, so your conclusion that slavery is morally wrong because it goes against the god's purposes has not been established by the premises. So the inference is invalid.

Please, please, please, stop now and give it some time before flaring up and getting it wrong again. Take some time. I'm shutting down now, so there's no need to shoot back immediately. We're both trying to find the truth, and that doesn't always show itself up front.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Immanuel Can » Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:58 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:45 pm
Your premises do not say that a god's purposes are morally right, so your conclusion that slavery is morally wrong because it goes against the god's purposes has not been established by the premises. So the inference is invalid.
You are making a separating in your thinking between "right" and "God's character and purposes." They are identical in my syllogism, because Theism regards them as identical. There is no conception of "right" that transcends or contradicts the character of God, in Monotheistic thought. That's why Socrates's "Euthyphro Dilemma," (as Socrates himself notes in the very context) is a problem for polytheists, but none whatsoever for Monotheists: "right" and "God's nature" are simply alternate descriptions of one thing, in Monotheism.

Your distinction is once again suppositional, not analytical.

But you did not take up my challenge. I took up yours. So let's see what you've got.

In a spirit of fair play, sauce for gooses and ganders, and flipping coins, I repeat: please give me your syllogism showing that morality is subjective.

Skip
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Skip » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:05 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:25 pm
We have done nothing so far to show whether or not there are transcendent truths or moral truths
Exactly. If you couldn't "find" any in 300 years, or 6000 years (civilization with writing) or 15,000 (agricultural and fishing settlement) or 50,000 years (nomadic tribal units) it's unlikely to happen this week. But, you never know.
I agree with you completely that Materialist or Physicalist cosmology would rule them out
Where did I say that?
So the question remains to be answered there.
Which question? That one:
Actually, it's the main question: "Is morality objective or not?"
Actually it was as written above here "What could make morality objective?"
Call objective morality "X".
I don't think that's a good idea. The X to which I referred was the example you used on Page 1:
"Different people believe X, Y, and Z." All of these are truly question-begging, as none answers the question fo whether or not X is true.
...If the advocate of X appeals to the authority of X, and X is the right authority to which to appeal, then X is correct.
where X was one belief-system among many. If we now substituted X to stand for the universal objective morality, we might be guilty of surreptitiously slipping one contender into the winner's circle. That would be wrong in at least a dozen different competing moralities.
It actually doesn't matter how many people share a belief. The truth value of that belief depends on other things.
Force of arms, indoctrination, tradition, peer pressure... You have made this point.
I think we all know it's not geocentric.
If only!! Most of us still believe it's anthropocentric.
"Do we know the real configuration of the universe?" is not the same as "Does the universe have an actual configuration?"
No, but we can only know, about either one, as much as the evidence tells us. If there is or isn't, and we can't find out, it is of no consequence to us.
If we can't know whether there is such a thing and you claim to own such a thing, we may be excused for assuming that you're disingenuous.
The OP is not asking "Who believes that morality is objective?" But "What shows or makes it objective, if anything?"
Right. And?
Every archaeological dig on any ancient civilization has turned up evidence of religious and ritual practices,
Civilization. 6000 years, max. Actually, practices that are probably ritualistic and possibly religious, have turned up as early as 30,000 years ago.
and they're ordinarily polytheistic or animistic in configuration, though in at least one case, the Hebrews, monotheism's not unknown.
There is a world of difference (in which we may insert ancestor-worship, mysticism and dream-mythology) between animism and polytheism that spans some 20,000 years and girds the globe. The Hebrews' religion is only about 3000 years old. How it came to be monotheistic is interesting. The big civilizations all around had multiple gods, and Genesis sounds as if it had been lifted from a bigger mythology and retrofitted to their patron god. In the early books of of the OT, the Hebrews are aware that other tribes have their own gods and constantly worry about losing members of their tribe to those other gods. Egypt flirted with monotheism (Aten) for about the five minutes, at just about the same time the Hebrews started on their quest for a homeland. The first one, i mean, after leaving Egypt.
So far, we've found no ancient declarations of atheistic faith.
Very cute. Since atheism has no faith or ritual, all the evidence you don't find is evidence of atheism.
My point is that morality was understood by mankind from the beginning in a religious context.
How do you figure? First, you have not pinpointed the "beginning" of anything, not even religion. A body buried in the fetal position, wearing his leggings and bracelets, doesn't demonstrate a religious context for a moral code. None of the archeological evidence from prehistory shows anything about the rules of conduct or their philosophical bases. In historical times, the rules were made by rulers, who cited invisible sky-daddies as their authorization and heavily-armed enforcers to drive the point home. All this tell us is that both religion and law serve the interest of power. It says nothing about the origins of etiquette, obligations and trust among equals.
So when we throw out that context, we can't be too surprised if morality itself seems to disappear as well.
That's a longish stretch of the begging-bowl. Odd, how well secular social organization works for elephants and gibbons.
And hence the "search." There was no known prerequisite for an entirely secular conception of morality. Such a thing would have to searched out, and a rationale for it would have to be found, because in human history we had not seen such a thing before.
Yeah, while you're at it, send out a search party for Pegasus. Recruit winged hounds.
You need some sensory inputs, data, or patterns. My point is that "rationality" isn't a mill that works without any grist.
Of course. Once the input ceases, rationality becomes unnecessary - like oxygen.
Think of it like mathematics.
Why? Reason is nothing like mathematics, or botany or crossword puzzles. Reason is a faculty of the brain - a kind of function - while disciplines and pastimes are products of the human imagination, in the devising of which reason plays a key role.
So you could say this: rationality is a process that operates without respect to partisan considerations.
OK
But without a given content ,
Not content, material. The data that reason processes is not held within reason itself, nor is it "given", but is a constantly incoming stream of ephemera. Rationality has no portmanteau or cheek-pouch: memory-storage is a separate facility.
set of taken-as-certain premises (or "partisanship" if you will)
I won't, because it's wrong. Reason starts working on incoming data as soon as the infant can distinguish its mother's face and make the logical connection between its own howling and the appearance of that desired presence.
Everybody thinks. That's what the brain does for a living. But not all thoughts are rational.
Reason isn't the only human faculty, nor the only source of thoughts.
Being genuinely rational takes more. It entails that the brain operations are logical and formally correct. If they're not, then it's just one of the other brain operations, like imagining, guessing, hoping, dreaming, inventing, aspiring and so on. It's not rationality unless it's also rational.
Rationality is hardly ever the dominant faculty operating in a human mind. Those other fact6ors are always present, as are physical sensations and emotions and external influences. What's that got to do with morality?
[IC -- Most people still seem to believe that one day "rationality will tell us" all what morality requires. ]
[S - Where are these people?]
Kant, Habermas, Rawls, and so on.
Three men, two of them dead, even with all their live adherents, hardly constitute a majority of the human race. Does it really make a difference to the overall behaviour of social organizations what a few eggheads are hoping for?
if there's no "data," there is no "data-processing" ...From whence comes that data?
It's a large universe, generates quite a bit of information. Then, of course, there is the close-up human contact.
Were that true, you would still not warrant the claim that because of it you know that objective truth doesn't exist.
It's not a claim. It's a statement of opinion, with reasons explained.
Somebody you DON"T know might have it, or it might still exist outside of the present stock of human knowledge, just as the non-geocentric universe existed when nobody believed in it at all. It might simply be awaiting discovery.
Might be and is are not synonyms.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:59 pm

Immanuel Can wrote
You are making a separating [sic] in your thinking between "right" and "God's character and purposes." They are identical in my syllogism, because Theism regards them as identical. There is no conception of "right" that transcends or contradicts the character of God, in Monotheistic thought.
But you don't make that claim as a premise in your syllogism. (Is that because you know it's unjustified?) By all means reconstruct your inference and make that a premise. But then your inference may be valid, but it will be unsound.

And that's your problem. You assume a conclusion without demonstrating that it's true. And that's the nature of faith, and why it's irrational. If you want to be or appear rational, you're forced to construct invalid and / or unsound syllogisms to try to justify your belief. To say a god's nature and purposes are morally right or good is to make a claim about them - and that claim, like any other, needs justification. You can't just assert it.

As I've said before, why not impress us all by actually thinking about these issues and coming back with a response that addresses them rationally, rather than ignoring them and thrashing about trying to justify your belief? Don't get cross because your syllogism is invalid and unsound. Try to improve it. Never know - we may all benefit.

My OP 'Is morality objective or subjective?' began with an argument for the subjectivity of morality. But I'll work on a formal presentation.
Last edited by Peter Holmes on Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:11 am

Skip wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:05 pm
Immanuel Can wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:25 pm
We have done nothing so far to show whether or not there are transcendent truths or moral truths
Exactly. If you couldn't "find" any in 300 years, or 6000 years (civilization with writing) or 15,000 (agricultural and fishing settlement) or 50,000 years (nomadic tribal units) it's unlikely to happen this week. But, you never know.
One thing for sure: it will be vain to look for them in the merely material world, except inductively. There will be no Materialist proof for non-Material things, since Materialism rules them out merely by fiat.

Fortunately, we have a lot of inductive evidence that there are such things -- consciousness, identity, morality, rationality, perception, and so forth. These are all what philosophers have called "emergent properties," which really means, "they suddenly appear, unaccounted for by previous base conditions, but we don't know how or why."
...where X was one belief-system among many. If we now substituted X to stand for the universal objective morality, we might be guilty of surreptitiously slipping one contender into the winner's circle. That would be wrong in at least a dozen different competing moralities.
That wouldn't matter. All that would matter is which of the moralities, X, Y or Z, was the objectively true one. The alleged slight done to the untrue ones is called "not being right."
It actually doesn't matter how many people share a belief. The truth value of that belief depends on other things.
Force of arms, indoctrination, tradition, peer pressure... You have made this point.

No. None of those things make anything "true." They're just exercises of force. What makes a thing true is that it is present in reality. That's all.
I think we all know it's not geocentric.
If only!! Most of us still believe it's anthropocentric.
Amusing. I think that's ironically true.
If we can't know whether there is such a thing and you claim to own such a thing, we may be excused for assuming that you're disingenuous.
That would only be true if we knew we could not know. But we don't know that at all.
So far, we've found no ancient declarations of atheistic faith.
Very cute. Since atheism has no faith or ritual, all the evidence you don't find is evidence of atheism.
Actually, all atheism ever is, is faith. But that's another conversation.
My point is that morality was understood by mankind from the beginning in a religious context.
How do you figure?
Well, what's your alternate theory and evidence? I've got some, but what's on the other side?
And hence the "search." There was no known prerequisite for an entirely secular conception of morality. Such a thing would have to searched out, and a rationale for it would have to be found, because in human history we had not seen such a thing before.
Yeah, while you're at it, send out a search party for Pegasus. Recruit winged hounds.

I think you're right. The hope for a secular, rational morality is dusty.
But without a given content ,
Not content, material.
Potato, potahto, But functionally, no difference.
[IC -- Most people still seem to believe that one day "rationality will tell us" all what morality requires. ]
[S - Where are these people?]
Kant, Habermas, Rawls, and so on.
Three men, two of them dead, even with all their live adherents, hardly constitute a majority of the human race. Does it really make a difference to the overall behaviour of social organizations what a few eggheads are hoping for?
No. But it does matter to a whole lot of people that there's no legitimative rationale for ethics that doesn't owe its existence to a particular religious tradition. It means that secular ethics float on nothing substantial.
Somebody you DON"T know might have it, or it might still exist outside of the present stock of human knowledge, just as the non-geocentric universe existed when nobody believed in it at all. It might simply be awaiting discovery.
Might be and is are not synonyms.
No, but not antonyms either. So possibilities remain, and must be rationally entertained for the foreseeable future.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Immanuel Can » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:22 am

Peter Holmes wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:59 pm
Immanuel Can

'You are making a separating [sic] in your thinking between "right" and "God's character and purposes." They are identical in my syllogism, because Theism regards them as identical. There is no conception of "right" that transcends or contradicts the character of God, in Monotheistic thought.'

But you don't make that claim as a premise in your syllogism. (Is that because you know it's unjustified?)
No. But I took for granted you'd be sufficiently astute to figure it out without further help. But I'll rephrase, and make it dead simple:

Premise 1: God desires men to be free (we can add, if we follow Locke, it's for the reasons given earlier: but I'm keeping this very simple).
Premise 2: Freedom is destroyed by slavery.
Conclusion: Slavery is contrary to the desires of God.


Simple, simple simple. And if the two premises are true, both valid and sound.
My OP began with an argument for the subjectivity of morality. But I'll work on a formal presentation.
Well, not really. Rather, it began with an argument from subjective morality. The idea that morality is subjective was assumed, though never demonstrated.

But I'm happy you're going to have a go. I'd like to see what you've got on that...genuinely.

Skip
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Skip » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:38 am

What makes a thing true is that it is present in reality. That's all.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:00 am

Immanuel Can

So this is the killer syllogism?

Immanuel Can wrote
Premise 1: God desires men to be free (we can add, if we follow Locke, it's for the reasons given earlier: but I'm keeping this very simple).
Premise 2: Freedom is destroyed by slavery.
Conclusion: Slavery is contrary to the desires of God.

Simple, simple simple. And if the two premises are true, both valid and sound.
But you haven't mentioned morality at all. Your new syllogism says nothing about it - so nothing about its objectivity. You've just concluded that slavery is contrary to the desires of a god. You seem to have lost sight of our topic: what could make morality objective?

And as for its soundness? That's a-whole-nother matter.

Let's call this Killa Sylla 2. Back to the drawing board.

uwot
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by uwot » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:03 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:22 am
... I took for granted you'd be sufficiently astute to figure it out without further help.

Mr Can, you took for granted that someone you should be sufficiently astute to figure out doesn't share your analytic definition of 'God', does share that definition.
Immanuel Can wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:22 am
But I'll rephrase, and make it dead simple:

Premise 1: God desires men to be free (we can add, if we follow Locke, it's for the reasons given earlier: but I'm keeping this very simple).
Premise 2: Freedom is destroyed by slavery.
Conclusion: Slavery is contrary to the desires of God.
You haven't thought this through. All your god cares about is that people freely believe that Jesus Christ is going to do nice things for them when they die. A slave who believes this is actually better off than their free master who also believes it.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:27 am

Hi, uwot.

That's neat. But I fear it's a bit of a mind-warp which may set off another distracting hare. Probably already has. :D

uwot
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by uwot » Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:01 am

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:27 am
Hi, uwot.

That's neat. But I fear it's a bit of a mind-warp which may set off another distracting hare. Probably already has. :D
Well, as I said, Mr Can pretends to ignore everything I write, so, while I'm usually making a serious point, it's a bit of a laugh to see if I can get him to respond obliquely while addressing someone else. Still, I'll shut up for a bit and see if you have any more success in nailing jelly to the wall.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:16 am

uwot

Sorry - I didn't mean that. I was joking too. And I like your sense of humour - bit of light relief in the fog.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:42 pm

Dr Peter suggests this guaranteed cure for any strain of objectivism.

1 Take any assertion expressing a value judgement - slavery is wrong, this god is good, that painting is beautiful, happiness is better than unhappiness, health is better than sickness, life is preferable to death - and so on.

2 To be objective - and so true or false - the assertion has to make a falsifiable claim about something - an 'object' of some kind. Ask yourself what that object is.

3 The object can't be what the judgement is about - slavery, this god, that painting, happiness, health, life - and so on - because that is also the object of the contrary value judgement - slavery is right, this god is bad - and so on. Back to square one.

4 And the object can't be the judgement itself: what justifies the judgement that this god is good is ... the goodness of this god - and so on. That just begs the question, going around in a circle.

5 Realise this is a wild goose chase, because the fact/value barrier is insuperable, which is why value judgements can't be factual - and why moral values and judgements - and morality itself - can't be objective.

This cure is provided for free, for the benefit of benighted objectivists, and the betterment of the species.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:51 am

Just a side note - but actually the really important point.

Moral objectivism is just a mistake. But the practical and moral reason for rejecting it is that it can and does lead to prescriptivism - the grotesque idea in Aristotle that there are prescriptive truths - which can be used to justify imposing moral values on everyone else, with potentially disastrous consequences.

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