Is it possible to make a decent argument for absolute morality without appealing to any "magic" or religious ideas?

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Is it possible to make a decent argument for absolute morality without appealing to any "magic" or religious ideas?

I have a limited knowledge of ethics, but of what I've read, Aristotle's The Nichomachean Ethics is most appealing. This concept of the mean, particularly. But one obvious problem with that is that it is inherently "fuzzy."

If you look at nearly every culture, whatever passes for "murder" is apparently universally considered immoral. The same for whatever passes locally for "theft." Obviously the crimes depend on the local definition, but someone taking what Adam believes to be his seems to be universally considered bad. Even in a den of thieves you'll see people stab each other for what they consider to be "their" possessions. Again, and I can't stress it enough, what one culture defines as theft or murder (or whatever) changes from place to place. That's not what I'm talking about.

So does that mean that there are certain actions that (allowing for differences in definitions) are universally considered immoral?

 

If there are, how could you discover for certain what they are? If you can't (and I don't think you can), does that mean that they don't exist as universal moral "truths?"

 

 

 

Please give me your thoughts (and remember, I'm coming at this from a purely atheistic perspective, and add to that that I'm talking only about within the confines of human action and thought).

 


 

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Greatest_Curse wrote:So does

Greatest_Curse wrote:
So does that mean that there are certain actions that (allowing for differences in definitions) are universally considered immoral?


What exactly do you mean?

Our cultures and instincts are not infallible, so clearly, you're never going to have something that is considered completely equivalently moral or immoral by all humans. But, we are predisposed to possess some general moral preferences.   

Also, even if every human agreed that a certain action was moral or immoral, it doesn't justify moral objectivism. It just means that everyone has the same preference.

 

 

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Greatest_Curse wrote:I have

Greatest_Curse wrote:

I have a limited knowledge of ethics, but of what I've read, Aristotle's The Nichomachean Ethics is most appealing. This concept of the mean, particularly. But one obvious problem with that is that it is inherently "fuzzy."

If you look at nearly every culture, whatever passes for "murder" is apparently universally considered immoral. The same for whatever passes locally for "theft." Obviously the crimes depend on the local definition, but someone taking what Adam believes to be his seems to be universally considered bad. Even in a den of thieves you'll see people stab each other for what they consider to be "their" possessions. Again, and I can't stress it enough, what one culture defines as theft or murder (or whatever) changes from place to place. That's not what I'm talking about.

So does that mean that there are certain actions that (allowing for differences in definitions) are universally considered immoral?

 

If there are, how could you discover for certain what they are? If you can't (and I don't think you can), does that mean that they don't exist as universal moral "truths?"

 

Please give me your thoughts (and remember, I'm coming at this from a purely atheistic perspective, and add to that that I'm talking only about within the confines of human action and thought).

 

There are cerrtain traits of the human species that exist within every culture. Every culture has a language, every culture has expressions of sorrow and happiness, to smile or to cry is not peculiar to any particular culture. All have slight variations. For instance, if you watch a Japanese horror film it almost has a bit of it's own genre and could be slightly different than say, a British horror film.Same thing with comedy.

As far as morals go, I don't see why the existence of "ultimate" morals would be that important.

Right here in the U.S. our ideas of moral  have changed radically since let's say, the 19th century.

Majority of Americans will tell you that slavery is wrong, that not allowing women to vote is wrong, that oppressing people of different ethnicity is wrong, all three examples would not have  been considered acts of immorality one hundred some odd years ago.

Every culture seems to have a set of taboos and stigmas. What is odd to one might be considered moral for another.

With something as abstract as "morals" it appears to me that they change over time. Could we honestly say that most people hold the same views that the majority might have held in the 1950's ? The 1960's even ?

You mention murder and theft. Those do seem to be accepted by most societies as immoral behavior. But think of the huge differences. Would a radical Islamic fundamentalist that has the potential to commit an act of holy war view the sanctity of life the same way that I do ? Or the notion of chopping off the hand of a thief ?

These are just random observations on my part, but in the face of all of that, I don't see how something like an "ultimate" purpose could exist.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
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Greatest_Curse wrote:I have

Greatest_Curse wrote:

I have a limited knowledge of ethics, but of what I've read, Aristotle's The Nichomachean Ethics is most appealing. This concept of the mean, particularly. But one obvious problem with that is that it is inherently "fuzzy."

If you look at nearly every culture, whatever passes for "murder" is apparently universally considered immoral. The same for whatever passes locally for "theft." Obviously the crimes depend on the local definition, but someone taking what Adam believes to be his seems to be universally considered bad. Even in a den of thieves you'll see people stab each other for what they consider to be "their" possessions. Again, and I can't stress it enough, what one culture defines as theft or murder (or whatever) changes from place to place. That's not what I'm talking about.

So does that mean that there are certain actions that (allowing for differences in definitions) are universally considered immoral?

 

If there are, how could you discover for certain what they are? If you can't (and I don't think you can), does that mean that they don't exist as universal moral "truths?"

 

Please give me your thoughts (and remember, I'm coming at this from a purely atheistic perspective, and add to that that I'm talking only about within the confines of human action and thought).

 

There are no universal truths - for morals anyway.

Murder -

It was okay for white people to hang black people in the US until about 1975.  The lynching mob was not investigated let alone prosecuted.

Some people today believe it is okay to murder women or little girls.  (How they are going to have sons in the future is beyond me.)

It is okay to murder in self-defense.  I have no problem with this.  But think about it.  You purchase a weapon and ammunition.  Then you leave it conveniently loaded lying around your house for the express purpose of shooting a total stranger.  How premeditated is that?

Theft is almost as flaky.  Basically, most people believe murder is wrong within their own group.  Theft is wrong within their own group.  Otherwise, ripoff/maim/kill the outsider(s).  No big deal.

I think it is more honest to be upfront with one's morality being situational and subject to change.

 

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Religious or other

Religious or other 'transcendental' ideas offer no real standard whatever, since even if a God existed, we have no way to distinguish with any certainty between someone actually being inspired by 'God' and pure imagination.

Such a source offers only the purely subjective.

It is futile, really, to search for absolutes, for total certainty in this subject, even more so than in many other areas.

The negative Golden Rule - "Do not do to others what you would not like done to you" - is a good starting point.

 

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cj wrote:Greatest_Curse

cj wrote:

Greatest_Curse wrote:

I have a limited knowledge of ethics, but of what I've read, Aristotle's The Nichomachean Ethics is most appealing. This concept of the mean, particularly. But one obvious problem with that is that it is inherently "fuzzy."

If you look at nearly every culture, whatever passes for "murder" is apparently universally considered immoral. The same for whatever passes locally for "theft." Obviously the crimes depend on the local definition, but someone taking what Adam believes to be his seems to be universally considered bad. Even in a den of thieves you'll see people stab each other for what they consider to be "their" possessions. Again, and I can't stress it enough, what one culture defines as theft or murder (or whatever) changes from place to place. That's not what I'm talking about.

So does that mean that there are certain actions that (allowing for differences in definitions) are universally considered immoral?

 

If there are, how could you discover for certain what they are? If you can't (and I don't think you can), does that mean that they don't exist as universal moral "truths?"

 

Please give me your thoughts (and remember, I'm coming at this from a purely atheistic perspective, and add to that that I'm talking only about within the confines of human action and thought).

 

There are no universal truths - for morals anyway.

Murder -

It was okay for white people to hang black people in the US until about 1975.  The lynching mob was not investigated let alone prosecuted.

Some people today believe it is okay to murder women or little girls.  (How they are going to have sons in the future is beyond me.)

It is okay to murder in self-defense.  I have no problem with this.  But think about it.  You purchase a weapon and ammunition.  Then you leave it conveniently loaded lying around your house for the express purpose of shooting a total stranger.  How premeditated is that?

Theft is almost as flaky.  Basically, most people believe murder is wrong within their own group.  Theft is wrong within their own group.  Otherwise, ripoff/maim/kill the outsider(s).  No big deal.

I think it is more honest to be upfront with one's morality being situational and subject to change.

 

I think you nailed it with the Insiders/Outsiders point. But it's also always obviously relativistic. Yes most cultures consider murder to be wrong for its own sake, but then if you take a culture like a military force in wartime, murder actually turns around and becomes a good thing to be celebrated. I see no justification for drawing lines in this discussion just along geographic boundaries or similar. They're fluid anyway, now that we've conquered transportation and communication technologies. Groups of individuals, bound together by whatever social characteristic, will inevitably create their own moral code that depends on their particular circumstances.


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smartypants wrote:I think

smartypants wrote:

I think you nailed it with the Insiders/Outsiders point. But it's also always obviously relativistic. Yes most cultures consider murder to be wrong for its own sake, but then if you take a culture like a military force in wartime, murder actually turns around and becomes a good thing to be celebrated. I see no justification for drawing lines in this discussion just along geographic boundaries or similar. They're fluid anyway, now that we've conquered transportation and communication technologies. Groups of individuals, bound together by whatever social characteristic, will inevitably create their own moral code that depends on their particular circumstances.

 

I was thinking more along the lines of religion and physical differences than countries.  There are islamic and christian fanatics that devalue girl children and adult women - and some non-religious people who have other reasons for preferring boys over girls.  People who hate anyone who has physical characteristics not like themselves - skin color, nose shape, mental illnesses, gender preferences and expression, developmental disabilities, physical - especially facial - injuries or deformities, and so on and so forth. 

As an example, while living in Hawaii, I was looking for part time work.  I quickly learned that if I walked into the business and every one was of one particular ethnicity, I would not get hired if I didn't match.  When I finally found a job, it was at a Heinz 57 varieties of herbs and spices place.  That is, no two people had the same ethnicity and we all got along great.  Pot luck lunches were amazing.

Drawing a line between "us" and "them" is usually amorphous and irrational.  "They" are valid prey - to beat up, murder, and rob.  I think when there were fewer people in the world, it may have been any one not from your village or family group that was "them".  But in our over populated world now, I think people make up non-physical boundaries.  It may be too overwhelming to say all 300 million Americans are my buds, and so I choose only the ones who belong to my special group - however that group is defined.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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Answer

The reason why for example murder is inherantly wrong is because we are all created in the image of God. This is a logical explanation for the universality of ethics in all of us.

Atheistic forms of ethics are limited in the particular or they are non-ethical. Meaning they are in the category of should. Proper ethics are in the area of OUGHT as even Aristotle would agree.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

A Rational Christian of Intelligence (rare)with a valid and sound justification for my epistemology and a logical refutation for those with logical fallacies and false worldviews upon their normative of thinking in retrospect to objective normative(s). This is only understood via the imago dei in which we all are.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).


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Jean Chauvin wrote:The

Jean Chauvin wrote:

The reason why for example murder is inherantly wrong is because we are all created in the image of God. This is a logical explanation for the universality of ethics in all of us.

Atheistic forms of ethics are limited in the particular or they are non-ethical. Meaning they are in the category of should. Proper ethics are in the area of OUGHT as even Aristotle would agree.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

As usual, you make a naked assertion, and illogically label it as logical.

God does a lot of killing, therefore if we were made in his image, so would we.

And since He does it, it can't be wrong.

Therefore it is only by rejecting such an illogical concept as God that we can have a true morality.

The universality of an aversion to murder is due to the empathy and urge to cooperation we have evolved as a social species, combined with the even more fundamental desire to survive. We don't kill members of our tribe because we don't wish to be killed ourselves.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Jean Chauvin wrote:The

Jean Chauvin wrote:

The reason why for example murder is inherantly wrong is because we are all created in the image of God. This is a logical explanation for the universality of ethics in all of us.

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

What about all of the murder that is replete throughout the Bible ? Murder that was willingly sanctioned by yahweh himself ? Why Moses killed a whole slew of people the very day he came down the mountain with the original set of the Ten Commandments. Sure didn't take him long to start breaking those rules did it ?

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There are no absolutes in

There are no absolutes in life.

The closest to "absolute morality" I can think of is not wanting anything detrimental to happen to me. Because I have empathy for others, I extend that to them. Christians would call that the "golden rule". But that is merely a product of human evolution and doesn't need to be credited to a fictional being.

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In regards to ethics and

In regards to ethics and morality I found this video to be particularly helpful.  It is kind of long, but if you are interest in the subject it is well worth watching.  

 


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This is totally off topic,

This is totally off topic, but every time I see a video that will consist of a dude breathing on a camera lens for 30 minutes I have a very difficult time hitting play.

 

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Excellent video. Even helped

Excellent video.

Even helped me clarify my position a bit.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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interesting video.  that

interesting video.  that guy used to be on "general hospital."  fyi. lol. i need a life.

people figured out a long time ago that if they kept on killing each other, no one would be around anymore.  imo, morality evolved out of common sense and was assigned a name like everything else.  univeral truths can only exist until someone defies them, and then once that happens, the universal truth ceases to exist.  philosophy in all its futile-ness makes me feel like the guy in "scanners."  ka-bang!

I know the answer! The answer lies in the heart of all mankind!...The answer is 12? I think I'm in the wrong building. --Charles M. Schulz


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Hi Bob

Hey Bob,

You are baby constantly asking for his nuk. There is a logic difference between killing and murder. And God killed via a righteous kill. The Hebrew for Exodus 20 is murder.

Fear not the one that can kill the body, but the one that can kill the body and the soul. (Matthew 10:28).

Thus logical consistency continues to prevail. Any other questions.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

A Rational Christian of Intelligence (rare)with a valid and sound justification for my epistemology and a logical refutation for those with logical fallacies and false worldviews upon their normative of thinking in retrospect to objective normative(s). This is only understood via the imago dei in which we all are.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).


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Jean Chauvin wrote:Hey

Jean Chauvin wrote:

Hey Bob,

You are baby constantly asking for his nuk. There is a logic difference between killing and murder. And God killed via a righteous kill. The Hebrew for Exodus 20 is murder.

Fear not the one that can kill the body, but the one that can kill the body and the soul. (Matthew 10:28).

How do you determine the consistent difference between a righteous killing and murder ? Unless the fact that God sanctions the killings somehow justifies it ? If that is so, would that not make god somewhat immoral ?

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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We do what we are told

Jean Chauvin wrote:

Hey Bob,

You are baby constantly asking for his nuk. There is a logic difference between killing and murder. And God killed via a righteous kill. The Hebrew for Exodus 20 is murder.

Fear not the one that can kill the body, but the one that can kill the body and the soul. (Matthew 10:28).

Thus logical consistency continues to prevail. Any other questions.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

 

The believer reconciles God murdering people and God telling his chosen to murder people is summed up in the context of their dogma

Morality is doing what is right, regardless what we are told.

Religious dogma is doing what we are told, no matter what is right.

 

 

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

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Jean Chauvin wrote:Hey

Jean Chauvin wrote:

Hey Bob,

You are baby constantly asking for his nuk. There is a logic difference between killing and murder. And God killed via a righteous kill. The Hebrew for Exodus 20 is murder.

Fear not the one that can kill the body, but the one that can kill the body and the soul. (Matthew 10:28).

Thus logical consistency continues to prevail. Any other questions.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

God killed many, indiscriminately, out of vengeance. That is not 'righteous' killing.

Killing can be justified by self-defence. That cannot apply to God.

It can be justified if it is the only available means to protect another. God would always be able to stop a killing without killing another human.

If someone had a pathological mind-set, driving him to kill or otherwise harm others, God could fix that. Think of it as the opposite of what he allegedly did to Pharoah. So killing as punishment would not be the actions of a loving or merciful God.

God has no defence. He has killed people against their will, without sufficient cause.

Another example of how God cannot be the source or standard of Good without a total paradox.

The Morality Paradox, the Problem of Evil, has no logical resolution, unless God is neither Good nor the source of Good. This is certainly more consistent with the observed history of a world with natural disasters and a whole bunch of disease-causing organisms and parasites, and creatures susceptible to cancer and serious birth defects. IOW, either God does not exist, or He is not Good.

And since God cannot serve as an ULTIMATE explanation of existence, since He is not self-explanatory, he fails there. Attempts to argue against that either amount to special pleading or lead to divergent infinite regress.

Therefore the God concept is a logical fail as an explanation of origins, and worse than a fail, a paradox, as an explanation of morality.

So suck it, Jean. No amount of scripture mining, or metaphysical sophistry, can recover from that. You are a child clinging to his God-shaped security blanket, in defiance of logic and reason.

Of course, if you care to present some actual arguments and examples to back up your various claims about atheists and atheism, we may have something to discuss.

The cleanest logical position is that there is no God. Then all those logical difficulties melt away.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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Jean Chauvin wrote:The

Jean Chauvin wrote:

The reason why for example murder is inherantly wrong is because we are all created in the image of God. This is a logical explanation for the universality of ethics in all of us.

Atheistic forms of ethics are limited in the particular or they are non-ethical. Meaning they are in the category of should. Proper ethics are in the area of OUGHT as even Aristotle would agree.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

 

I don't know if you noticed it, but the title of the thread is:

Is it possible to make a decent argument for absolute morality without appealing to any "magic" or religious ideas

 

The fundamental laws of our universe
As they are taught us by our greatest curse