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May 27, 2015

Comments

Obligation requires a personal Rule Giver to whom we’re rightly obligated, who will hold us accountable to that obligation.

If you define it that way.

I would be interested in knowing what another "definition" might look like. It seems that any other "definition" would be counter intuitive to our experience of what it means to be truly human and how we experience morality on a day-by-day basis. Just sayin...

Ron,

It's not just a matter of being that way because we say so. Rather that's an obvious feature of moral responsibility. One cannot be morally obligated to impersonal principles or laws. It's not as though anyone is morally obligated to the law of gravity and every time someone flies in a plane or skips through a field they are doing something immoral.

Coca-Cola (love that username)

Let's be fair, the law of gravity is not something that anyone or anything can break. To fly in a plane one must account for gravity in order to design a plane that can generate enough lift to fly.

Also, gravity importantly influences our skipping. when we skip we don't continue to move farther and farther away from the ground to infinity and beyond! We move upward, slowing down with each passing millisecond, finally stoping our ascent, and falling back to earth.

The erroneous analogies aside, I think your larger point is still clear. Can one have any real obligation to an atom or molecule or collection of molecules? That seems ridiculous.

On the other hand, I think what RonH might have in mind is that Amy may have added some extra criteria that are unnecessary to the definition. I would modify it thusly:

Obligation requires a person, outside of the system, to whom we're obligated and who can hold us accountable to that obligation.

in this definition person recognizes that one cannot be obligated to pure matter. Outside the system is required if the obligation is objective not subjective or relative. The accountability is required because if one is never held accountable for meeting or falling short of an obligation, then it seems to me there is no actual obligation.

Are you anymore comfortable with this RonH?

The accountability is required because if one is never held accountable for meeting or falling short of an obligation, then it seems to me there is no actual obligation.
If you define it that way (again).

B.E.,

I suppose you're correct that given how scientists treat laws you cannot break a law of physics. One would either say that what was previously thought to be a law was shown to be mistaken or inadequately capturing some other law. And my examples are merely of us using laws to certain effects.

But I think we can still imagine a law of physics, such as the inverse square law, being broken even if my examples failed to capture that. The laws of physics aren't logically necessary. They could have been otherwise. So I can propose a thought experiment in which we temporarily break the inverse square law. Have we done anything wrong? Clearly not.

RonH,

Can you offer any other way of defining actual "obligation" without accountability?

It seems to me that If one cannot offer a reasonable alternative, then it's not just me who defines it that way.

B.E. Hunt,

What do you mean by inserting 'actual'?

Looks like another repeat of the 'personal Law Giver'.

Is it?

"Personal" is necessary because one isn't obligated to material or forces. "Rule Giver" is necessary because, first, a moral "law" can't be created by material. We can describe things that arise from material, but it's only a description; material doesn't create "oughtness." And second, we can only be "rightly obligated" to the source of the true moral law and our rightful ruler. All of these things play into true moral obligation.

Oh, now we insert 'true' instead of 'actual'.

What does that mean?

"True" means "matches up with reality."

RonH, how do you define obligation?

"True" means "matches up with reality."
In this apologetic riff, 'true' obligation means "enforced by Your your personal law giver". This does not connect the riff to reality.

No, RonH, "true obligation" means an obligation one actually has independently of merely believing they have an obligation or having a subjective feeling of obligation. It doesn't mean "enforced by your personal law giver."

In a way, I agree Sam. But not with what I suspect you meant to say.

They're as real as they can get without being what y'all say they are.

Keep dry.

Sure, there might be an objective way for the collections of molecules we call “humans” to live that will enable those humans to live longer or maximize their pleasurable feelings,
Way to run down that feature of our nature that leads us to take others into account!

RonH,

the words 'actual', as I used it, and 'true', as Amy defined her use of the word, are synonymous.

If you advertised that you were selling a Picasso painting, and I asked you if the painting was an actual Picasso, and then Amy walked in on our conversation and asked you "is that a true Picasso?" I doubt you would ask "what do you mean by 'actual' and 'true'?

So once again, since you feel that our definition(s) is/are lacking, how would you define an actual or true obligation?

Way to run down that feature of our nature that leads us to take others into account!

Ron, if you don't like the view of reality that results from atheistic materialism, it looks like you have a problem.

So in terms of 'objective moral values' - Amy, can you show a moral value which has held at all times and everywhere?

You seem to be saying that if morality is subjective, it must be arbitrary i.e. people can do what they want. But that doesnt accord to reality. We 'ought' to follow that subjective moral code because within the context of our society it promotes well being and reduces harm.

Societies with an 'anything goes' moral code wouldn't last long.

So your version of trying to understand morality fails to account for the fact that morals have changed over time, assumes that there are objective moral values without justfication or exemplars.

Besides, atheism (=lack of belief in deity(ies)) doesnt result in any view of reality and to suggest otherwise is absurd.

Just reflecting again briefly, you seem to really think that morality is something that has to be given to us.

Society doesn't give us morals, it gives us the platform upon which true morality is built. Morality is nothing more or less than that which allows us to function as social animals. It is a contract detailing our responsibilities to each other in order that we can function as a cohesive society. It doesn't lay down precepts, but requires reasoning.

RonH,

In reading through the posts an arguing the issues of morality and obligation, I was touched by the humanity and irony when you wished Sam Harper, a Texan who is most likely enduring some horrifying weather conditions, to "stay dry."

Most commendable display of human concern.

Now, the tongue-in-cheek double question: What obligated you to make such a statement, and what makes it commendable?

Do y'all also think numbers are things inhabiting another 'realm'?

If you do think so:

Why do you think that?

Is the realm of numbers the same realm as the realm of obligations?

Got any apologetic moves to make if I ask for evidence of the existence of numbers as things inhabiting another realm?

If you don't think so:

Do you ever talk about numbers?

Guest,

can you show a moral value which has held at all times and everywhere? ... your version of trying to understand morality fails to account for the fact that morals have changed over time

That's a non-sequitur. Amy only said that there are objective moral principles or moral facts. This doesn't mean the moral fact is relevant in all times or all places. So your critique here is entirely misguided. It misunderstands an objective fact for a universal fact.

You seem to be saying that if morality is subjective, it must be arbitrary i.e. people can do what they want.

Subjective: "based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions."

Arbitrary: "subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion"

Clearly, the extent to which morality is subjective is the extent to which morality is arbitrary. That's just what those terms mean. I guess what you're going to have to try and argue is that morality isn't *entirely* subjective.

We 'ought' to follow that subjective moral code because within the context of our society it promotes well being and reduces harm.

That doesn't tell us that morality isn't (entirely) subjective unless you've first established some grounds for we 'ought' to care about the well being of society.

assumes that there are objective moral values without justfication or exemplars.

Your talk about the well being of soceity seems to be assuming that we have an objective moral obligation to care about the well being of society. Do you think that or not? If you do, then you agree with Amy that there are objective moral facts. If you do not, then you've failed to show that morality isn't entirely subjective and, thus, arbitrary.

you seem to really think that morality is something that has to be given to us.

The article says that morality has to have its source outside of us. In other words, we have to be accountable to some transcendent moral source. If this is all you mean by "given to us" then that's fine.

Society doesn't give us morals

I don't think society gives us morals (in the above sense) either. But then where do you think we get them from?

Morality is nothing more or less than that which allows us to function as social animals.

Dogs function as social animals. Are they moral subjects? Could we adopt the social behavior of dogs and fulfill our moral obligations?

It is a contract detailing our responsibilities to each other in order that we can function as a cohesive society.

You're sneaking morality in the backdoor of your morality. If "morality" is simply the spelling out of our responsibilities, then there must be some other transcendent set of moral obligations which are being spelled out by what you're calling "morality".

It doesn't lay down precepts, but requires reasoning.

How does morality, in your view, detail responsibilities without laying down precepts?

Ron,

Your behavior is strange. In your latest reply you expect people to interact with you. Yet earlier comments in this thread have asked you a question and you've completely ignored them.

It looks like you're only going to talk to people on your own terms, based on conducting a conversation you've planned out and dictate. That's not interaction.

Given that you've ignored other people's attempts to interact with you above, why shouldn't people take this behavior as an indication that you're not a serious or fruitful dialogue partner and ignore you (in the same way you've ignored them)?

>>Do y'all also think numbers are things inhabiting another 'realm'?

If you do think so:

Why do you think that?

RonH,

In the field of education, areas of instruction can be seen as "realms." The realm of numbers = mathematics. The realm of obligations = ethics.

Ergo, (the realm of logic) compartmentalizing information into fields of study (realms) is the mark of an educated person. I personally see no problem here. Why do you?

Honestly, listen to Coca-Cola's critique. Conversing with you at times seems so much like some character Milo meets in motoring through The Phantom Tollbooth. All he wishes to accomplish is to find Rhyme and Reason.

I understand a little bit of submitting to the Socratic method of fielding questions to gain deeper introspection. All the title characters in Plato's Dialogs usually had their philosophic head handed to them by Socrates. But that is not the spirit here. To honestly dialog our ideas with others is a warm feeling of cooperation which I find dying in this country.

So, to repeat the question: What obligated you to make such a statement (wishing Sam Harper to Keep dry), and what makes it commendable?

DGFischer,

The meaning of 'realm' you introduce is not relevant here.

What I mean is: Numbers are not 'material'. They don't exist in the 'material realm'.

So do numbers exist? And what does that mean?

I ask because numbers lack certain emotional content that seems likely to hang people up.

Hi Coca - Cola

You (or preferably Amy) need to define what you mean by "objective moral facts". Its your (well Amy's) proposition and requires definition and potentially argument that such things exist.

"Oughtness" - what you are suggesting is that moral 'oughtness' is independent of what people believe to be so. That isnt the case. 'Oughtness' is a subjective issue.

"The article says that morality has to have its source outside of us. In other words, we have to be accountable to some transcendent moral source. If this is all you mean by "given to us" then that's fine"

Thats precisely the point - that doesnt have to be the case. You merely assert that it is.

"I don't think society gives us morals (in the above sense) either. But then where do you think we get them from?"

Why do you think they come from anywhere? Our evolutionary history gives a perfectly reasonable explanation of our morality - that promoting well being and minimising harm benefits the population as a whole (simplistically)

What amuses me is that morality =/= rules. Morality is the antithesis of rules and in fact iof there were objective morals then we wouldnt need rules. You may have outsourced your morality to an alleged higher power but I have not.

What are the foundations of most of your day to day moral views? Why do you consider one act you observe (or just think about) to be morally negative and another positive, and many such cases to differing degrees and strengths? Is it some special set of rules (which are about obedience not morality by the way) you look to? Or is there something else?
I would expect that for most of us it would be the latter. Why do we tend to see an act of rape as immoral? Some rule that says so? I very much doubt it. Most of us never come across such rules, let alone think of them while on the spot, in the moment. Instead we simply see the signs of, and through empathy imagine and feel, distress in the one we immediately identify as the victim.

Thus morality requires reasoning and empathy. Not dictats from an alleged higher power - i.e. precepts.

Thanks.

Guest,

You (or preferably Amy) need to define what you mean by "objective moral facts". Its your (well Amy's) proposition and requires definition and potentially argument that such things exist.

The term isn't being used in any special sense and it's clearly being contrasted with "subjective". I assume you have an ordinary understanding of what the word means, in the context of objective vs. subjective. In case you don't: an objective moral principle would be one that's truth or falsity isn't dependent upon what people think or feel.

"Oughtness" - what you are suggesting is that moral 'oughtness' is independent of what people believe to be so. That isnt the case. 'Oughtness' is a subjective issue.

Then you would only be agreeing with the conclusion of Amy's argument: that your morality collapses into preference.

Thats precisely the point - that doesnt have to be the case. You merely assert that it is.

That does have to be the case *in order for morality to be objective* or in order for there to be moral facts. If you don't have that, then as Amy said in the article: "There are merely things we choose to do or not do because of preference."

Why do you think they come from anywhere? Our evolutionary history gives a perfectly reasonable explanation of our morality - that promoting well being and minimising harm benefits the population as a whole (simplistically)

You wonder why I think they come from anywhere and then you tell me that they come from evolutionary conditioning. So I'm not sure why you would question my question of where they come from if you yourself recognize the need to explain where they come from (and ground that in evolution)!

Evolution itself can't give us objective morality. All it gives us is moral psychology. Since you don't think there is objective morality you may not care about that fact though.

What amuses me is that morality =/= rules. Morality is the antithesis of rules and in fact iof there were objective morals then we wouldnt need rules. You may have outsourced your morality to an alleged higher power but I have not.

This statement looks obviously false. So either you're confused or making an obviously false assertion. A rule is just a particular explication of a moral principle.

If you want to argue that morality is logically incompatible with rules then be my Guest ;)

What are the foundations of most of your day to day moral views?

Of my moral views? That question is irrelevant. The post is about moral ontology, not psychology.

Why do we tend to see an act of rape as immoral? Some rule that says so? I very much doubt it.

The rule is just the publication of the principle.

Thus morality requires reasoning and empathy. Not dictats from an alleged higher power - i.e. precepts.

You said 'oughtness' is subjective. In that case, morality doesn't require reasoning or empathy, it merely requires that I have an opinion and how I arrived at that opinion makes no difference.

Thus morality requires reasoning and empathy.

No, your preferred morality requires reasoning and empathy. Unfortunately, according to you, the "oughtness" you place on this empathetic morality is subjective. You're making a lot of objective pronouncements for someone who believes "oughtness" is subjective!

You turn around and say "we 'ought' to follow" your "subjective moral code" because "within the context of our society it promotes well being and reduces harm." No, your "ought" is subjective, remember? You have nothing to say to someone who chooses a different subjective "ought." There's no standard to appeal to outside your preferences. As I said in the post, it's subjective that you prefer "well being and reducing harm." What right do you have to tell anyone they "ought" to agree with your subjective preference for placing those things as their highest ideal?

If oughtness doesn't exist independently of what people believe, then if someone believes he ought to create a society where everyone serves his purposes—a society that promotes his well-being and lack of harm—there's nothing you can appeal to in order to argue against this. There's no objective "oughtness" outside of you that says one ought to prefer the long lives and well-being of everybody. You're trying to smuggle in an objective "ought" outside of yourself here!

The problem is that even though you're saying that "oughtness" is subjective, you're assuming that we can actually apprehend an objective standard of right and wrong—not merely possible actions chosen by subjective oughts, but actions with an objective moral dimension. The problem is that your worldview doesn't support an objective standard.

What amuses me is that morality =/= rules. Morality is the antithesis of rules and in fact iof there were objective morals then we wouldnt need rules. You may have outsourced your morality to an alleged higher power but I have not.

I don't think you've quite understood the position. Objective morality is based on a standard, not because rules exist, but because an ultimate standard of good exists (i.e., God). We apprehend good and bad because this standard exists and because God created us to apprehend His goodness. Our rules are tied to our apprehension of that standard.

You say that if there were objective morals, we wouldn't need rules, but then you say you don't need rules to recognize what's moral. These two statements contradict each other. In fact, the whole last part of your comment argues that we have the ability to apprehend morality, which argues for our position and against the idea that "oughtness is subjective."

And honestly, Guest, you are fooling yourself if you don't think your philosophical view of the world is related to your understanding of ultimate truths about the universe, what it is, and who we are. There are multiple conclusions about reality that follow from believing in a universe without God.

I'd like to know a few somethings that should be simple based on the comments I've seen here.

Something #1) Is there such a thing as "right" and "wrong"?

Something #2) If so, can we know it? Who defines it?

Something #3) If not, does it really matter?

Something #4) If it doesn't matter, why do you care to argue what it is or isn't, whether anyone is characterizing it properly, or why anyone should believe you?

Coca-Cola

"In case you don't: an objective moral principle would be one that's truth or falsity isn't dependent upon what people think or feel."

Im sorry but I dont see how that is consistent with what you said previously which is:

"This doesn't mean the moral fact is relevant in all times or all places"

Because objective moral principles would be exactly that - timeless, independent etc etc.

Of course my point is that this isn't what we see - morals change over time and differ from culture to culture.

Which then begs the question - what are these objective moral facts or principles? Where are they please?

@Amy - we dont need morals to be objectively derived and rules =/= morals.
"You say that if there were objective morals, we wouldn't need rules, but then you say you don't need rules to recognize what's moral. These two statements contradict each other"
They dont contradict each other. Morals do not equal rules and if you think they do, you need to think harder about the issue. Some rules are derived from morals, most of them are not.

We can apprenhend morality not because of some devine dictats but because we have empathy and reasoning. Thus morality is emergent.

ANyway, Im open to being wrong. Are you guys? Where are these 'objective morals /facts/principles/values'?

>> Where are these 'objective morals /facts/principles/values'?

Guest,

Try an experiment. Read through Confucius' Analects, the Discourses of Epictetus, compare the Mosaic Decalogue (aka the Ten Commandments) to the secular counterpart Hammurabi Code. Create a super Venn diagram. How large an area would be in the center, indicative of common assent of all sources? Whether you determine that such an area would be small or large, it could never be an empty set. Once this is done, consider the following questions:

1. What is a basis of this commonality? Pure chance would not be an adequate explanation, only a dodge.

2. If there is a restrictive element to the morals, how was this established?

3. If restrictive elements are to be considered, would finding mores that are less restrictive be an improvement, or social suicide?

4. Is the element of having certain morals as being proscriptive an emotional encumbrance in dealing with morals. In short, do rules that tell you not to do things rankle you to the point that denial is a rationalization?

Also to the point >> Morals do not equal rules and if you think they do, you need to think harder about the issue.

It is nice to establish definitions, so from Merriam-Webster: moral: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical ‹~ judgments› b : expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior ‹a ~ poem› c : conforming to a standard of right behavior d : sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment ‹a ~ obligation› e : capable of right and wrong action.

To assume that morality is emergent fails in light of some things being basic to society's welfare doesn't change (e.g. stable government demanding leaders of principled behavior). Trying to prove else wise could prove unfortunate.

Oops, called away. Forgot one question:

5. Why, in all our talk of mores, do we never touch on the concept of "immores," the socially unacceptable?

Because objective moral principles would be exactly that - timeless, independent etc etc.

Please give me an argument which demonstrates this. Off the top of my head, it's an objective fact that there is a can of Coke in my fridge at the moment... but in about five minutes there won't be. So you're conclusion seems clearly misguided.

Of course my point is that this isn't what we see - morals change over time and differ from culture to culture.

This is only significant if morality is nothing more than personal preference.

Which then begs the question - what are these objective moral facts or principles?

That question isn't relevant to the question of there being moral facts. But let's take an obvious one: it's wrong to torture babies for fun.

Where are they please?

Moral facts aren't material. They don't grow on trees. They don't have a location.

"You say that if there were objective morals, we wouldn't need rules, but then you say you don't need rules to recognize what's moral. These two statements contradict each other" They dont contradict each other.

They do contradict each other. Either morality is outside of you—something that you recognize, or it's subjectively determined by you—something you create through rules. You said if there were objective morals (something outside us that we apprehend), we wouldn't need rules (something we create for people to follow). But then you appeal to a morality that exists outside of us that we recognize, saying that we can recognize it even without the rules. These are two different ideas about morality. Either it's subjective and we define it, or it's objective and we recognize it. If morality is not the same as rules we created (and I'm the one saying it's not), then that means morality is something objective outside of us. You're arguing against your own position that our "oughts" are subjective.

We can apprenhend morality not because of some devine dictats

You're still arguing for my position. Morality can only be apprehended apart from dictates (devine, human, or personal) if it objectively exists outside our opinions—i.e., only if oughts are not subjective.

You're assuming empathy is objectively moral, and you're assuming that we can apprehend that objective morality, regardless of whether or not we were told rules (either subjective "oughts" made up by society or those made up on our own). But that's our position. It's our position that we apprehend an objective morality. It's your position that oughts are subjective.

You've already given us one objective bit of moral truth: Moral systems ought to be based on empathy. This is an "ought" you've stated as being objective over and over, and this refutes your previous statement that "oughts" are only subjective.

@DG Fischer

"1. What is a basis of this commonality? Pure chance would not be an adequate explanation, only a dodge"

So you are suggesting this has to be because of a set of objective morals? Why?

"To assume that morality is emergent fails in light of some things being basic to society's welfare doesn't change (e.g. stable government demanding leaders of principled behavior)" Errrrm wut? How has that example got anything to do with morality?

@Coke

"Off the top of my head, it's an objective fact that there is a can of Coke in my fridge at the moment"
Thats not an objective fact.

"But let's take an obvious one: it's wrong to torture babies for fun"

Fun is a subjective concept. See the problem?

"They do contradict each other."

No they do not. Lets explain why.

"Either morality is outside of you—something that you recognize, or it's subjectively determined by you—something you create through rules."

Morality is decide by experience - like coke cans in fridges - its subjective.

"You said if there were objective morals (something outside us that we apprehend), we wouldn't need rules (something we create for people to follow)."

Correct

"But then you appeal to a morality that exists outside of us that we recognize, saying that we can recognize it even without the rules."

No we form our own moral judgements and they happen to coincide with others - they are formed subjectively. SO I diagree with your analysis

"These are two different ideas about morality. Either it's subjective and we define it, or it's objective and we recognize it."

Yes. You are asserting - YES asserting - there are objective moral facts/principles/values without any supporting argument. Im saying if you examine what humans do, they form moral judgements subjectively and where groups form overlaps of morals they enshrine them in rules.

"If morality is not the same as rules we created (and I'm the one saying it's not), then that means morality is something objective outside of us"

That doesnt follow if we arrive at morals subjectively based on experience, empathy and rational thought.

"You're arguing against your own position that our "oughts" are subjective."

No Im not.

It seems you only know whats moral because God has told you what is and isnt. Is digital identity thefy immoral? Pornography? Nakedness? Sex?

You seem to want morals to be clear cut when they are anything but.

I find it deeply disturbing that you are arguing for outsourced morality.

Besides, if morality comes from God then it's subjective. Unless you are having your cake and eating eat.

Thats not an objective fact.

Yes, it is. Here is the definition of objective (yet again):

Merriam-Webster Dictionary - "based on facts rather than feelings or opinions : not influenced by feelings. philosophy : existing outside of the mind : existing in the real world"

Dictionary.com - "not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased:"

That there is (was) a can of coke in my fridge is fact that is not based upon feelings or opinions. That fact exists mind-independently.

If you think it's not an objective fact then you need to explain *why*.

Fun is a subjective concept. See the problem?

No, actually, I don't see the problem. Can you spell out how that is a problem?

Here is Merriam-Webster's definition of "fun": someone or something that is amusing or enjoyable : an enjoyable experience or person: an enjoyable or amusing time: the feeling of being amused or entertained

The fact that some people find different activities fun doesn't effect the fact that it is always wrong to torture babies for fun (for amusement or enjoyment).

You then respond to Amy's comments and I just let her respond to that, but then you say:

Besides, if morality comes from God then it's subjective. Unless you are having your cake and eating eat.

Instead of just asserting it, can you actually give us an argument that leads to that conclusion?

Think about it, Guest. If the Christians on this thread behaved in the way some of the atheists in this thread have behaved we would be doing this:

"Yes-huh!"

"Nuh-uh!"

"Yes-huh!"

"Nuh-uh!"

Instead of just making assertions about what is or isn't the case, please try arguing for your position.

Guest, I'm very happy to say I think I might finally see where we're misunderstanding each other. You've misunderstood the terms "objective" and "subjective" as they relate to the nature of moral truth. Saying morality is subjective has nothing to do with how you learn about morality, it has to do with the nature of moral truths. Are they something you discover (whether by being told or by discovering them on your own), or are they something you invent?

Just because you apprehend a moral truth without being told, that doesn't mean that morality is subjective. It's only subjective if it's invented by you and isn't an "ought" everyone should follow.

You keep saying over and over that everyone "ought" to discover what's moral by applying the standard of empathy to their behavior. This is an argument on your part that the goodness of empathy is an objective moral truth that applies to everybody. When you say the "oughtness" of empathy is "subjective" because you arrived at that truth by apprehending it on your own, you've misunderstood what is meant by "subjective" and "objective." How you know something doesn't change whether that thing you know is subjective or objective. The fact that you learned a moral truth on your own doesn't make the truth itself subjective. In fact, based on what you've said here, it's your understanding that empathy is an objective moral truth that applies to everyone, which is why you appeal to us, saying we ought to use it as our standard.

Again, you are stating there is an objective standard of empathy. How you discovered that standard has nothing to do with whether or not that moral truth ("empathy is better") is subjective or objective.

For example, imagine if you used reason and the principles of mathematics to discover on your own how to do calculus. The fact that you used reason and a standard to discover calculus doesn't mean calculus is subjective! You've simply discovered something objective on your own. In the same way, if you use reason and the standard of empathy to discover moral truths, that doesn't make the moral truths subjective. You're merely attempting to discover objective moral truths on your own.

I find it deeply disturbing that you are arguing for outsourced morality

This also reflects the way you're confusing how you know something with the nature of that thing. It's not outsourcing your morality to match your morality to objective morality. For example, you think it's an objective moral truth that empathy is good and non-empathy is bad. Since that objective truth exists regardless of your (or anyone else's) opinion about it, you have tried to match your morality to that objective morality. Matching your morality to an objective morality outside yourself isn't "outsourcing" morality, it's an attempt to conform your beliefs to true ideas about morality. This is what we're both doing, though we have different sources we trust to give us true ideas.

I think I can help you clarify your position and where our difference lies if you bear with me for a moment: You do think there are objective moral truths that reflect the objective standard of empathy. However, you think you are better at discovering those moral truths than the Bible is, and it bothers you that we're trusting the Bible to teach us what is truly moral (that is, what is objectively moral) because you think the Bible gets some things wrong.

That's the crux of what you're arguing. Because of that, we don't need to prove to you that objective moral truths exist because your entire position already depends on there being objective moral truths! I say this because you think the Bible is wrong, but it's not possible for the Bible to wrong (or for anyone to be wrong, for that matter) unless there are right and wrong moral facts—of which you think empathy is one.

You think there is a real standard of good and bad, but you think we, as individuals, are better judges of what matches that standard than the Bible is. If you agree with that, then you do think there are objective "oughts." You just think we do better at discovering them on our own than by reading the Bible.

Does that clarify for you what is meant by objective and subjective when we're talking about moral truths?

@Coke

"That there is (was) a can of coke in my fridge is fact that is not based upon feelings or opinions. That fact exists mind-independently."

lol okay. So how did you perceive the can of coke then? Independently of your mind? Really?

There being a can of coke in your 'fridge is your opinion, not an objective fact. Your opinion is NOT objective. If you got n=1,000 people round to confirm that there was a can of coke in your fridge, it would be an intersubjectively 'true'. You could all be hallucinating.

"No, actually, I don't see the problem. Can you spell out how that is a problem?"

Yes I can. You said this "it's wrong to torture babies for fun" is an objective moral fact. "Fun" is sujective. Therefore that statement isnt objective.

"It's only subjective if it's invented by you and isn't an "ought" everyone should follow"

Its subjective if its invented by someone else.

Its only objective if its a universal truth. Thats what objective means.

So we go on to this:

"In the same way, if you use reason and the standard of empathy to discover moral truths, that doesn't make the moral truths subjective"

Who say that you are discovering moral truths?!! Im saying one can realise morals - you are imposing the "truth" (whatever that means) bit.

"You do think there are objective moral truths that reflect the objective standard of empathy."

No I dont

"However, you think you are better at discovering those moral truths than the Bible is, and it bothers you that we're trusting the Bible to teach us what is truly moral (that is, what is objectively moral) because you think the Bible gets some things wrong."

I dont know where to start with this strawman. The Bible cant be "true" (your definition) because its internally inconsistent and demonstrably wrong unless one severely cherry picks.

If you think the Bible teaches morals then you are equating rules with morality. And you have outsourced your morality.

Are you going to deny the bible condones slavery and rape? No doubt you will. How dull.

"You think there is a real standard of good and bad"

No I dont.

"but you think we, as individuals, are better judges of what matches that standard than the Bible is."

I agree with that. I disagree with most of the misogynistic, homophobic, racist tones of the bible.

"If you agree with that, then you do think there are objective "oughts."

Nope, they are not objective, they are intersubjective. A metre is an objective standard we have arrived at intersubjevctively but is entirely arbitary.

"It's not outsourcing your morality to match your morality to objective morality."

It is - because you cant say what objective morality is!

"For example, you think it's an objective moral truth that empathy is good and non-empathy is bad."

lol I never said it was objective. Utter rot.

And you do need to "prove" (urgh, awful word where again you are using a dreadful dictionary definition) what objective moral truths are because you assert that they exist. Crack on.

"Does that clarify for you what is meant by objective and subjective when we're talking about moral truths?"

No, it does not. You havent provided justification for any of your pronouncements.

What are these moral truths/ objective moral facts? Or are you going to claim fun/bad/good are objective as well?

You people need to get out more

Guest,

The problem is simply that you have a massive misunderstanding of what it means for a thing to be objectively true. I guarantee you 99.99% of atheists would have to agree with my assessment on that and I'll make that clear below in showing that, at best, you achieve a pyrrhic victory.

But first suppose that all of humanity has been wiped out by an apocalypse, save for two people. Naturally these two people are named Jones and Smith since these dudes manage to make an appearance in virtually all interesting modern philosophical discussions.

Jones and Smith have found each other's company in our post-apocalyptic wasteland. They go out scavenging together. They find a refrigerator. Jones opens up the refrigerator and says "Awesome, a is inside coke!" but Smith says "Uh, Jones, have you gone mad? There is no coke in the refrigerator."

Now it seems to me that you have a few options here:

1. Jones is right or Smith is right because one correctly perceives reality, at least in regards to whether or not there is coke in the fridge, and the other does not.

2. Both Jones and Smith are right, because each one creates a separate reality by the mystical power of their perception.

3. Either Jones is right or Smith is right, by virtue of one having a more powerful mystical perception of reality that dictates the reality for both of them.

To say that the proposition "There is a coke in this refrigerator" is objectively true (or mind-independent) does not mean that the truth exists without anyone apprehending the fact. It only means that the *truth value* of the proposition is not determined by what an agent thinks.

Now, Guest, if you accept the 1st option (that either Jones is right or Smith is right in virtue of one or the other correctly perceiving reality) then at some level you've grasped what it means for there to be an objective fact and you hold that the either "There is a coke in this refrigerator" is objectively true or else "There is not a coke in this refrigerator" is objectively true, regardless of what the last two individuals on earth happen to believe about the matter.

And since those propositions are contingently true, your argument about an objective fact necessarily being a "universal" fact or a timeless fact is obviously false.

Now about that pyrrhic victory. You say:

There being a can of coke in your 'fridge is your opinion, not an objective fact. Your opinion is NOT objective. If you got n=1,000 people round to confirm that there was a can of coke in your fridge, it would be an intersubjectively 'true'. You could all be hallucinating.

You seem to think that the possibility that we could all be hallucinating moves the proposition into the realm of opinion rather than objective fact.

Now consider that it's possible all scientists are hallucinating the evidence for the age of the earth and evolution. So how many scientists and atheists do you think are going to buy your assertion that evolution and an old earth are just opinion and not objective fact?

If anyone adopts your view, they are going to have to give up any claim to science being able to give us anything other than opinion. Atheists will view that as a victory that is as good as defeat.


Yes I can. You said this "it's wrong to torture babies for fun" is an objective moral fact. "Fun" is sujective. Therefore that statement isnt objective.

That fails to provide any reasons to link "fun is subjective" to your conclusion "therefore..." Can you give an argument showing how "fun is subjective" leads to your conclusion?

It also fails to address the rebuttal that I already gave: the fact that some people have different ideas of what constitutes amusement or what is enjoyable does not show that the statement "It is wrong to torture babies for fun" is subjective (such that it is not wrong for some people to torture babies for fun) unless of course you argue that "right" or "wrong" simply means "I like this" or "I don't like this."

Correction:

"Awesome, a is inside coke!"

Not sure how that sentence got butchered but it should read: "Awesome, a coke is inside the refrigerator!"

@Coke

Oh my. If "fun" is a subjective statement - and it is becaue different people define different things as "fun" - "it's wrong to torture babies for fun" is subjective. If you cant grasp that then I dont see what else I can talk to you about.

And yet again you cant provide any more "objective moral principles/facts/values" - one suspects because they are a fiction.

And you dont understand what objective means.

Cheers

P.S. Is this the state of fundamentalist Christianity? Have more sex and indoctrinate your children because rational thinking aint your friend. Get them while they are young.

Okay, then, I'll take you at your word. Morality is subjective. You like empathy, other people like bullying. You like people to flourish, other people like to step on others to get ahead personally. Since there's no objective morality, there's no right and wrong, and nobody is right. Unfortunately, for you, that means the morality of the Bible is as valid as any morality you choose to follow. One subjective opinion is no better than any other subjective opinion. Therefore, you have absolutely no right to say that the morality of the Bible is bad. Sorry. There are no moral truths/objective moral facts! So nobody, including the Bible, is right or wrong. There are only subjective opinions. And one subjective opinion is as good as another, if there's no existing objective morality we should strive to attain.

So I would appreciate it if you would stop pretending like empathy is an objective standard other people should follow. Empathy is not an objective standard because there is no objective moral standard. You have no right to insist that everybody take on your particular preferences. The status of empathy is a fiction, as you say.

From this point on in the blog, if I ever hear you judge someone else's subjective morality, I'm going to call you out on it, even when you go back to using your usual name. If you really think it's "utter rot" to say that empathy is objectively good, then you have no right to say anyone ought to make it their standard. Not just no right, no reason!

Who say that you are discovering moral truths?!! Im saying one can realise morals

And by "one can realise morals," you're saying one discovers morals? You mean, kind of like I just said? As if there were something out there to discover and know correctly? As if it wasn't just your opinion?

I really don't think I can explain what I've said any clearer, so I guess at this point, I'll just hold you to your statement that there are no real moral facts, which means I have no reason to take you seriously when you say the Bible is "bad." And in fact, every time you do, you're contradicting yourself.

"(that either Jones is right or Smith is right in virtue of one or the other correctly perceiving reality)"

SO on the one hand you have that.

On the other hand you have this:

"Merriam-Webster Dictionary - "based on facts rather than feelings or opinions : not influenced by feelings. philosophy : existing outside of the mind : existing in the real world"

So which way do you want objective to be? Based on minds or independent of them?

You are hoisted on your own petard.

What is tricky here?

All this talk of objective moral principles/facts/values and you all dodge staing them or offering argument for their existence. Noted.

"Relativism’s Moral Hero Disproves Relativism"

So no it doesnt is the answer. STR hasnt managed to overturn thousands of years of philosophical debate in one fell swoop, so dont panic.

Guest, you've disproved your own belief in relativism by arguing that empathy is the right standard and the Bible has bad morality.

And you're still hopelessly confusing epistemology with ontology. The fact that a subject perceives something doesn't make that thing he's perceiving subjective. The statement 2+2=4 is true, regardless of anyone's opinion. That means it's objectively true. The subject perceiving it isn't what makes it true, it's true regardless of what anyone believes. That's objective. And when a subject does believe it, that doesn't suddenly turn it into something subjective. You simply do not understand the meanings of these words.

Yeah...

You still havent provided any form of argument for objective moral principles/facts/values beyond bald assertions they exist.

Thats the nub of the issue here.

And mathematics is not the same as ethics; maths is objective given your choice of axioms.

You asserting that there are objective morals facts dont make it so.

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