the moral argument

dreems
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the moral argument

i am not sure of the best forum, but hi.

in my opinion, the best argument for a personal God, ie theism as opposed to deism, is the moral argument. i don't maintain its demonstrative, but the better argument points to theism. because conscience seems like the voice of god, and because i feel confident that various counter arguments wont hold up, i think its better to say that god really does speak through concience, so that the mystery at the heart of the universe is personal.

 

anyone intereted in taking up this discussion?

 

dreems

 


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BobSpence1 wrote:I said that

BobSpence1 wrote:

I said that the ideas of morality being "purely subjective" or "objective" are both crudely simplistic, IOW morality is more complex than that. It involves objective facts about how our brains work, and how societies work, ie how people interact and the sort of actions that are disruptive to societies and those that help people cooperate willingly.

 

I believe I understand what you're saying here, but I have to disagree with how you're saying it.

 

Morality IS entirely relative and subjective, and we shouldn't sway from that assertion if we want to be accurate, but what we should say is that the subjectivity doesn't mean that the morality is uncaused, and that any causes (especially naturalistic ones) of that morality would mean that there are certain commonalities between the majority of perspectives.

It's not crudely simplistic to say morality is entirely subjective, as it's technically right, but it just might confuse people if we don't go beyond that to explain that it is caused by rational selective pressures, both in genetic and in memetic evolution. 

The commonality of cause, and the resultant similarity -outliers aside- between different moral perspectives (in general compliance with the rational nature of relationships we explore through modern game theory) can mislead us to believe that there's objectivity there- we must avoid falling into that trap.

In order to speak of anything beyond pure subjectivity, we must postulate some objective nature- any- that is inherently moral.

 

But even taking into account the greatest modern understanding of rational forces upon the formation of morality, that's still an absurd endeavor-- that which is practical in accordance with game theory is not objectively good- despite it being a trend that has guided the evolution of our cognitive hardware and software.

There's a reason that we're coming to those agreements- and in our opinions we might agree that we should keep coming to these agreements and progressing in that direction- there are quite the arguments we can make for society adopting these common "moral grounds" based on game theory and social contract, but the rational force itself, no matter how strong, is NOT the pure essence of objective morality- I can give several moral conclusions through extrapolations of any of these forces that are naturally abominable to most people.

Some of the oldest and longest held moral precepts, for example, are mere side-effects of those selective pressures-- vegetarianism, for example.

Pragmatism or purism isn't the answer to morality; those speculated forces of "objective morality" collapse under their own conclusions.

That is to say, given the divergence each of those forces causes from perceived "good", the only "moral" position remains one we're currently in sight of, respective to each person, and irrespective of the forces involved, because the sum total of our morality is all of those forces, and all of the side effects, regardless of rationality.

It's a crude analogy, but you could say we're on a moral "ground", but just because we're standing on the ground right now, doesn't mean we're objectively "down"- or even that there can be an objective "downness"; this is just where we've happened to fall due to a consistent and predictable force of gravity [or selective forces in evolution].  There are potential "downs" all over the universe, and even respective to different reference frames; likewise there are many conclusions of these selective forces.

 

There is no one and only down, there is no objective morality and no possible objective morality or objective moral force; only forces of a multitudinous variety that cause and shape our subjective moralities- and without anything objective to derive them from, that leaves us with purely subjective morality.

That doesn't mean it's uncaused (of course it has natural causes, and those result in similarities), and that doesn't mean we "can't judge people" (I sure as pie can- relative to my morality, or any I 'choose' to judge them relative to)- it just means that the perception is a very personal and subjective experience for each person, which isn't violated by outliers or any other natural variance we would expect of relative conclusions like this.

 

There's a simple replacement we can use in arguments about "morality", and that is the sense of taste.  Obviously it has selective pressures that have maximized our nutritional intake in the past and avoided poisons.  The rational direction of those selective pressures is no more the objective essence of delicious than cakes and candy are disgusting.


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 This is  take two of this

 

This is  take two of this particular reply since my lappy crashed yesterday and I didn't have the strength at the time to rewrite.. sorry for the delay. Smiling

 

dreems wrote:


 

You will say, this proves your point! That feelings as such are not right or wrong. But the truth is, i have never spoken of feelings as such.

Oh, pardon me, then, I was quite certain you had.

 

 

dreems wrote:

I am concerned with value responses – and this puts us in the context of understanding and judgement,

You mean you're concerned with what a person thinks about an event, or with what they think of their feelings about an event? I'm guessing you mean the latter but either way we're talking about an act of cognition, not a raw feeling.

 

dreems wrote:

Still, the feelings i am concerned with are quite concrete – they are spontaneous, i simply lifted my example from the pages of hitchens – there are vivid events he narrates, and we do feel awful. There is nothing abstract or theoretical. It is "feelings as such" that is, in fact, an abstraction.

It seems odd that you say this because it is in direct contrast to your previous assertion of someone feeling "malicious joy". If we all feel awful, who is this mystery sado-masochist you keep pointing to?


 

dreems wrote:

Why do i think morality points to God? Precisely because feelings do duty for judgements

I beg to differ, I believe you are referring to the refinement  I spoke of earlier which is a mechanism fully explained by evolutionary advantage. It is not that the feelings do the duty for judgement it is that the pathways between feeling and cognition in a developed human are refined in such a way that the obvious advantage of a keener response is conferred.

Strict evidence that people judge the same emotional experiences equally is probably beyond getting, but there is much suggestion that we associate similar emotional experiences with very different thought responses among us. there are psychological conditions in which the feeling of pain is associated with thoughts of comfort, for example; for another there are a lot of people who absolutely love the flavour of nauseatingly sour foods.

So we can say it's most apparent that judgement is strictly a psychological event. Feeling is a stimulus for judgement but by the majority account it doesn't appear to govern it in any way.

 

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The "value" of moral

The "value" of moral behavior is to the evolution of human society. This states it better and more thoroughly than I ever could: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnXmDaI8IEo


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i agree with you on some

i agree with you on some points. science is an example of "self-transcendence". there is progress, and of course, it's self correcting. scientists seek the answer to their questions, and this is obtained by insight, eureka etc. but as you indicate, there are such things as "good" scientists. it was this normative aspect i was focusing on. you explain it by "the way they are trained". sure, but they are trained that way because the scientific method is geared to ongoing progress. but essentially scientists aim at theories that can (with some probability) be verified - regardless of whether it satisfies or not.

science is just one example of self transcendence: the self correcting process of common sense, with aims at practical knowledge rather than understanding things in themself, is also developing - so far as we obey the intrinsic norms within, which essentially means, we try and answer questions. also, scholarship such as history aims at moving beyond one's own horizon so as to inhabit the common sense of a different time and place.

the thing that drives self-transcendence are the notions of intelligibility, truth and goodness. we ask: what is it, why? and if we have a bright idea: is it really true? and when we go beyond thought to action: is it worthwhile.

take the notion of truth: in this forum i said something like, well you know, this conscience thing, it kinda seems ... and a reply in effect said hey, this is gonna be fun - meaning there is all the difference between seems and is - in other words, the critical scrutiny that i called the notion of truth was at work. the notion of truth is not yet the attainment of truth, but it seeks it.

clearly the notion of truth is in you, for you grasp that what i mean by saying "it is true that god etc," is not the same as "well it seems to me, and it gives me ever so much satisfaction that god etc" you are operating - correctly, i suggest - from a notion of truth that is public - what's true for me is true for you - univeral - there are not two truths, either god is or is not - absolute (truth is not relative simply to the subject who originates the truth), unconditioned (no ifs or buts or maybes). this truth that we seek is absolute truth. maybe we never obtain it, that's a separate question, but if we obtain it, we really do go beyond our own viewpoint.

such a notion of truth - the critical wonder that asks is it really so - constitutes our dignity as rational beings. it sets up within us a normative exigence "don't be silly etc." it is responsible for all principles such as the principle of sufficient reason, or the principle you invoked against me - "well, whatever is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously denied"

such a truth has a certin authority for us - it demands a claim on our assent. one poster said "well i really don't care what you believe" but it was obvious from his aggrieved tone that he did care - maybe he was fed up with silly christians who did not respect the authority of reason ...

 

now in no sense can this be explained away. for any attempt to explain away will invoke the authority of reason that it seeks to deny - it's like cutting off the branch on which you sit.

 

i'm saying that these three things, curiosity, critical wonder, conscience have this normative authority that is absolute.

 

some people deny this of course - but so far i have been content to point out that it hard for them to be consistent with their best insights - i haven't noticed too many ppl saying what deep down i think they believe!

 

now the question arises, is this sense of truth and goodness simply unique to human beings, are such norms simply an idiosyncratic feature of this species of animal like a long neck in a giraffe, or is it really universal, is the universe utterly indifferent to truth and goodnes? is this sense of normativity just a one off?

 

this question is essentially the question of god.  and since i think it unlikely that you will say, well i really don't care too much about rational dignity - you show evidence of it by arguing with me! - the question of god, at least, is something intimate within you.

 

introducing god, then, at least is not totally gratuitous. kant thought god cd not be proved, and accounted for the ideas i have forwarded by a "transcendental illusion" - he thought we ought to postulate god. camus, aware of the force of the norms i mentioned came to the conclusion that the universe was absurd as a result. nietzsche denied god, and spoke of going beyond good and evil ...

 

you might like a great deal more argument from me ... but wd you agree at least that the question of god is  not gratuitous ...

 

 

 


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there are intrinsic norms

there are intrinsic norms within us that operate in various aspects of our lives, science is one. the difference between the good scientist - who acts acording to his training (provided he is well trained) and the bad scientist is that he obeys such norms.

 

essentially this is a matter of asnsweing questions, what is it? why? (curiosity) is this really true (critical scrutiny, te demand for verification). I am saying that a third question exists, is it really worthwhile? and this is conscience.

on truth, we seek it. we may not attain it, but in our question, is it really so, we know exactly what we mean.

if you ask, is that water in the desert? and i say, it seems so, i see shimering, you will reply, that cd be a mirage!

for "seems" is not yet "is"! One poster heard me say "it kinda seems" and exclaimed "this is gonna be fun" - he thought the critical exigence wd tear me to bits!

our notion of truth has certain characteristics: it's public and universal (what's true for me is true for you, there is just one truth); it's absolute (not relative to the source that originates it "you just say that because you are a man&quotEye-wink; it's unconditioned (no ifs buts or maybes) ; it excludes error (either there is a god or there isn't) and it constitutes our rational dignity

on this last point a poster said i really don't care what you believe - but his aggrieved tone betrayed him. most likely he has had enough of arguing with silly christians - for truth has a claim on our assent - like conscience it demands respect, it is like a voice saying "don't be silly" or "no more crazies" - this exigence is responsible the principle "whatever is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously denied" - that you invoked

 

now a question arises, does curiosity, critical wonder, conscience just arise as an idiosyncratic feature of humans like a giraffes neck? is it a one off in the universe? is the universe indifferent to such norms? this is the question of god.

 

wd you agree, at least, that the question of god is not gratuitous?


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dreems wrote:now a question

dreems wrote:

now a question arises, does curiosity, critical wonder, conscience just arise as an idiosyncratic feature of humans like a giraffes neck? is it a one off in the universe? is the universe indifferent to such norms? this is the question of god.

 

wd you agree, at least, that the question of god is not gratuitous?

 

I had a lot of trouble following the whole "truth" rant... probably because it is 2am and I should be sleeping.  However, to your question. 

I feel like I have beat this dead two or three times in the past month on this board, but I'll give it one more go. 

Curiosity, critical wonder, and conscience are all a product of the brain.  An individual's varying levels of curiosity, for example, are based completely on the chemical reactions going on in the brain.  These chemical reactions are a product of sensory input and stored data of past experiences.  The individual's capacity to feel "curious" or "critical wonder" is based 100% on these inputs, chemical reactions, and past experiences.  Consider these scenarios

1) You take an ADHD medicine.  This medicine in itself alters neurotransmittor levels in synaptic terminals.  It functions to increase mental focus and analytical thinking.  As someone who is familiar with the effects of ADHD medicines, I can promise you that I feel a much stronger sense of both critical wonder and curiosity while I am taking them.  The alteration in the chemicals in my brain made it so.

2) You have a traumatic brain injury where your prefrontal cortex is injured.  This can completely change your personality.  It has made people who were previously ambitious into couch potatoes.  It can completely and totally change your thought processes.

 

If your argument stems from "Where did these feelings originate from and why do all humans have them?"

-Well, all of these "feelings" are characteristic of analytical thinkers and scholars, probably far more than that of an average person.  In that regard, couldn't it be assumed that these feelings provide the human to become more successful in survival, thus making more children with the same tendencies.  On and on we go until natural selection runs its course.  At this point, we all have some level of these feelings and due to our intellegence, we try to over rationalize them into some God idea when we should just take them for what they are: a byproduct of natural selection which makes them some of the many reasons we are still here.


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sorry about the delay - i

sorry about the delay - i didn see the reply.

 

well, i have been talking about "affective responses" these are always about something, they are "intentional" in the sense that there is an object .... so joy, just because i am a bit tipsy is different from joy because my friend is coming.

 

now, of course, good people feel happy about different things from bad people.

 

as far as i can see, there probably is not too much difference betweeb us ... tho my last statement might raise questions


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take me through it slowly

i mean, what do you mean by "beat this dead" do you mean that what youre saying is really true? that is is not just a private view? that your views have a rational claim on my assent? that it relates really and truly to the way things are? that intelligent ppl ought to agree? that it is more than just an personal prejudice? that somehow the view is better than the opposite view? that the conditions that have to be in place for such a view are actually in place so that it is virtually unconditioned? that it corresponds to reality? that anyone who really wants to know what is would fulfill this desire if they agreed? that you are providing evidence that suffices? that you have rational warrant for the thesis? that your view is not silly but the opposite is?

 

what precisely does "beat this dead" as a metaphor mean?

 

and what might the opposite of "beating dead" be, a rant, perhaps?

 

What is a "rant"?


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clarification

people like myself tend to argue from the objectivity of morals to God. atheists, it seems to me, have two options, to deny such objectivity, or deny the link. now a great many atheists have very strong moral convictions, they say genocide is absolutely wrong etc - they are what i called "optimistic atheists", dawkins etc. but you are explicitly relativistic - like, say, nietzsche. you are denying the objectivity of morals. have i got this right? for such ppl we get "beyond good and evil" - in theory! i'm sure you are very nice etc

and your relativism concerns the good, value etc - are you a relativist about facts?

 


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dreems wrote:people like

dreems wrote:

people like myself tend to argue from the objectivity of morals to God. atheists, it seems to me, have two options, to deny such objectivity, or deny the link. now a great many atheists have very strong moral convictions, they say genocide is absolutely wrong etc - they are what i called "optimistic atheists", dawkins etc. but you are explicitly relativistic - like, say, nietzsche. you are denying the objectivity of morals. have i got this right? for such ppl we get "beyond good and evil" - in theory! i'm sure you are very nice etc

and your relativism concerns the good, value etc - are you a relativist about facts?

 

 

A person like Dawkins isn't saying Genocide is objectively bad, they are saying that there are few, if any, realistic scenarios where genocide would be good.  There is a difference.

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mellestad wrote: A person

mellestad wrote:

 

A person like Dawkins isn't saying Genocide is objectively bad, they are saying that there are few, if any, realistic scenarios where genocide would be good.  There is a difference.

I think Dawkins would say that genocide is objectively bad, but there are few, if any, realistic scenarios where genocide would be acceptable if only to prevent a worse evil. there is a difference

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liberatedatheist

liberatedatheist wrote:

mellestad wrote:

 

A person like Dawkins isn't saying Genocide is objectively bad, they are saying that there are few, if any, realistic scenarios where genocide would be good.  There is a difference.

I think Dawkins would say that genocide is objectively bad, but there are few, if any, realistic scenarios where genocide would be acceptable if only to prevent a worse evil. there is a difference

 

In a discussion with other atheists (where he would not be misunderstood), I would be surprised if Dawkins would say anything is objectively bad, since I don't think he believes in objective morality.

 

I could be wrong though, I have not read much of his stuff.

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dreems wrote:people like

dreems wrote:

people like myself tend to argue from the objectivity of morals to God. atheists, it seems to me, have two options, to deny such objectivity, or deny the link. now a great many atheists have very strong moral convictions, they say genocide is absolutely wrong etc - they are what i called "optimistic atheists", dawkins etc. but you are explicitly relativistic - like, say, nietzsche. you are denying the objectivity of morals. have i got this right? for such ppl we get "beyond good and evil" - in theory! i'm sure you are very nice etc

and your relativism concerns the good, value etc - are you a relativist about facts?

 

Some people might call it genocide, but others might call it "war on terror".  Which is it?

Is it semantics or is it relative?

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

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dreems wrote:people like

dreems wrote:

people like myself tend to argue from the objectivity of morals to God. atheists, it seems to me, have two options, to deny such objectivity, or deny the link. now a great many atheists have very strong moral convictions, they say genocide is absolutely wrong etc - they are what i called "optimistic atheists", dawkins etc. but you are explicitly relativistic - like, say, nietzsche. you are denying the objectivity of morals. have i got this right? for such ppl we get "beyond good and evil" - in theory! i'm sure you are very nice etc

and your relativism concerns the good, value etc - are you a relativist about facts?

 

 

I promise I will give a more intelligible answer tomorrow.  I have just finished studying for exams and I believe I've been up for close to 40 consecutive hours.  I will just give clarification to the one phrase you picked out:

 

"Beat this dead" was a reference to the fact that many threads in the past two weeks have dealt with morality, consciousness, etc etc.  In a lot of those threads,  I have given similar if not mirror image responses.  I was simply stating that I was reiterating the same point in 3 different threads at once... hence "beating it dead".  Beating it into the ground, etc etc.  If you have not seen those other threads, then the statement wouldn't make much sense.  So I apologize.

Like I said, more tomorrow... now- sleep.


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dreems wrote: but

dreems wrote:

 but essentially scientists aim at theories that can (with some probability) be verified - regardless of whether it satisfies or not.

 

No, scientists make hypotheses all of the time, and find that they cannot be tested (thus they don't become theories).  There aren't any theories that can't be verified or tested- that would relegate them to the realm of hypotheses.

Science has no preference or limits as such to practicality, as you suggest- it's in the nature of the thing that essential un-testability is not much of a theory.

Those who practice science come in all varieties- some merely curious about what is, and not interested in the application of it.

 

Quote:
the thing that drives self-transcendence are the notions of intelligibility, truth and goodness. we ask: what is it, why? and if we have a bright idea: is it really true? and when we go beyond thought to action: is it worthwhile.

I'm sorry, this is rather nonsense.  What is worthwhile is a matter of opinion- see above.  Science is only concerned with a means of determining facts.

Quote:
in other words, the critical scrutiny that i called the notion of truth was at work. the notion of truth is not yet the attainment of truth, but it seeks it.

Critical scrutiny is NOT the "notion of truth".  Objectivity is.  Critical scrutiny only helps assure objectivity by repeating tests and correcting for bias and random errors- it can only assure that science was done correctly (if science was really done, it is unneeded).

A "perfect" scientist- one entirely unaffected by personal whim- would not require critical scrutiny or review to arrive at scientific truths.  However, as humans are flawed, and make mistakes (and have strong preferences for results), we do.

It is not the scrutiny, but the obtainment of objectivity- the ELIMINATION of the subjective.

 

Quote:
i'm saying that these three things, curiosity, critical wonder, conscience have this normative authority that is absolute.

 

No, no, and no.

 

Quote:
some people deny this of course - but so far i have been content to point out that it hard for them to be consistent with their best insights - i haven't noticed too many ppl saying what deep down i think they believe!

 

Are you saying that people aren't saying what you falsely believe that they think, they must be wrong, because you are right by default?

Because people aren't consistent with your "fact", then you must be right and they must be wrong?

This seems to be what you are saying.  Seriously?

 

Quote:
now the question arises, is this sense of truth and goodness simply unique to human beings, are such norms simply an idiosyncratic feature of this species of animal like a long neck in a giraffe, or is it really universal, is the universe utterly indifferent to truth and goodnes? is this sense of normativity just a one off?

 

The "sense of goodness" is emergent based on rational principles- it is evolved.  However, it is DIFFERENT for every single human being, because none of us are identical.  It is fully subjective- that doesn't mean that there are not some common features.

Many people like sweet tasting things, because historically, those have been more nutritious.  This, of course, leads us astray now, because we are overfed.

 

Many other species of animals like sweet foods- this is a matter of them having evolved in the same universe- that DOESN'T mean that sweet is some magical fundamental good in the universe.  It's just a matter of emergent behavior.

Many other species of animals also have traits of conscience and community similar with humans- again, this is just evolved, and emergent.

It happens everywhere in similar ways because it is emergent- the results are entirely subjective despite any similarities caused by their formations.

 

Quote:
this question is essentially the question of god.  and since i think it unlikely that you will say, well i really don't care too much about rational dignity - you show evidence of it by arguing with me! - the question of god, at least, is something intimate within you.

 

This is not the question of a god by any stretch.

The question of what morality people hold is VERY intimate within me- but this is not the question of a god.  I am concerned about the morality people hold because it affects me, and those I care about- those concerns come from *my* personal and subjective morality.

Subjectivity is not unimportant- to the person the morality is relative to (e.g. me, to my morality) it is the most important thing in the world because it IS US.

 

Can you understand that? 

We are living in a subjective world of personal experience (only loosely affected by fact).  Our morality is subjective- our morality defines us- our morality is us.  It's important NOT because it's objective, but because it's subjective- because it is US.  We, obviously, in our nature, are important to ourselves- we're central to ourselves- we are, to state the most blunt truism, ourselves.

 

Morality = subjective.  Morality = Individual = Self definition = Self.  Self = important to self.

 

Seriously, it's not complicated.

 

Morality doesn't have to be objective to be important.  I find my sense of taste in food pretty important to me (not so much as my moral sentiments, of course, but still important) regardless of its obvious subjectivity. 

 

Once you understand this, you will understand why this argument has nothing to do with a god.

 

Quote:
introducing god, then, at least is not totally gratuitous.

 

Yes, it is totally gratuitous.

 

Quote:
there are intrinsic norms within us that operate in various aspects of our lives, science is one.

 

What?  No.  That doesn't make any sense.

Science is a body of knowledge, and the root of science is the scientific method.  Most people have no grasp of this, as they live in very subjective worlds- in the day to day, even the best scientists do.

The scientific method is not within us, but a rational principle that is derived for determining objective facts- and it has been a long time coming.
 

Quote:
essentially this is a matter of asnsweing questions, what is it? why? (curiosity) is this really true (critical scrutiny, te demand for verification). I am saying that a third question exists, is it really worthwhile? and this is conscience.

 

As I've said before, science has nothing to do with any of those.  Curiosity operates outside of science- and motivates people to seek to use science to discover things.  Not all people end up using science (look at those like Luminon, who "discover" things by way of making them up and having delusions)- that is the antithesis of science.  Curiosity can drive people in different ways- some driven to science (discovering the truth), others driven to delusion and subjective guesses to fill in the gaps in knowledge (inventing fantasy)- both tend to satiate curiosity.

Critical scrutiny, as I have explained, is not strictly necessary in science- and is not exclusive to it.  This is only a result of human imperfection in the  scientific method.  In order to enter the general body of accepted scientific knowledge, information is subject to critical scrutiny, but scrutiny can be just as biased as anything else.

The scientific method is merely about removing bias- any amount of scrutiny is more of a safety net or potential tool set in assuring that this is done correctly.  A post-science process, to make sure science was really done.

Science -> doesn't need scrutiny.

Pseudoscience -> does need scrutiny to discount it.

 

Telling the difference between science and pseudoscience to determine what to allow into the body of common kowledge as accepted -> Requires scrutiny.

 

Scrutiny is a gate keeper- not an element of science.  Religious cannon uses scrutiny too- it's just an arbitrary and subjective kind of scrutiny instead of an objective scientific kind.

 

As to your final suggestion- no, not at all.  This has absolutely, positively, nothing to do with the practice of the scientific method, or even the body of science.  Each scientist- relative to his or her SUBJECTIVE OPINION of what is "good" (SUBJECTIVE!) will pursue different things.  This is highly evident.  Science requires no motivation nor value judgment- it is ONLY the process of obtaining reliable objective information.


Quote:
our notion of truth has certain characteristics: it's public and universal (what's true for me is true for you, there is just one truth); it's absolute (not relative to the source that originates it "you just say that because you are a man&quotEye-wink; it's unconditioned (no ifs buts or maybes) ; it excludes error (either there is a god or there isn't) and it constitutes our rational dignity

 
It is a fact that I think it is bad to kill animals for food.

It is a fact that my friend here thinks it is good to kill animals for food.

 

See how both of those moral OPINIONS are facts relative to the person who holds them?

Yes, everything can be boiled down to facts, but facts are relative to others, and contingent on things.

 

Not fact:  The sun is really bright.

Fact: The sun is brighter than the moon. (see how this was stated relatively?)

Fact: Bob thinks the sun is really bright.

Fact: Bob thinks the moon is brighter than the sun.  (Doesn't matter if what he thinks is true, he still thinks it)

 

 

Evey opinion has a position, and a factual nature in that position- that it is there, relative to that person.  When stated without that relative qualifier, an opinion "as fact" is incoherent nonsense.

 

Incoherent nonsense:  Genocide is evil.

Fact: Bob thinks genocide is evil.

Fact:  99.99% of people think genocide is evil.

 

"Genodice is evil" has no truth value- that's a statement of nonsense.

It's like saying "Sugar is delicious"- sugar has no objective quality of being delicious.

 

Incoherent nonsense:  Sugar is delicious.

Fact: 99.99% of people think sugar is delicious.

Fact: Bob thinks sugar is delicious.

 

Do you see the difference between fact and opinion here?  Facts are very specific, relative things.  Opinions are subjectively stated things from an individual perspective.

 

That so many people are just in the habit of dropping the "I think" before an opinion and stating nonsense (where the "I think" is implied) should not mislead you into believing that these kinds of statements reflect an objective truth about the universe.

 


Quote:
wd you agree, at least, that the question of god is not gratuitous?

 

With regards to morality, it is gratuitous.

The subjective nature of morality is obvious, and profoundly evident.  An objective morality is complete nonsense. 

 

Assuming objective morality and then postulating a god to explain it is the assumption of nonsense and as a result, makes that god nonsensical.

That is to say, if your god is reliant on objective morality, your god can be proved not to exist.  That is a FLAW in god-belief.

 

Now, if instead you say "in my opinion, god is good- god represents what is good to me"... well, then that's a bit harder to disprove.

If you insist on tying your god to objective morality, you have defeated your own idea the moment you do so.




Quote:
people like myself tend to argue from the objectivity of morals to God.

 

Yes, and that is incoherent.

 

Do you know how I disprove your god most quickly and elegantly?  By getting you to define it as objective morality.  Bang!  Disproved.

Doing this- arguing god from objective morality- is self-defeating.

 

If you can stop doing that, you might actually bring up a question of god that isn't so gratuitous- one that might be worth discussing.

Try it- you might like it.

 

Quote:
atheists, it seems to me, have two options, to deny such objectivity

You mean to acknowledge that the very idea of that objectivity is completely ridiculous?

 

Quote:
or deny the link. now a great many atheists have very strong moral convictions, they say genocide is absolutely wrong etc - they are what i called "optimistic atheists"

 

Those atheists are idiots.

 

Quote:
dawkins etc.

 

Dawkins does not assert objective morality- he has asserted that the idea of objective evil is absurd.  He has expressed personal opinions, which are subjective.

 

However, Dawkins, myself, and many atheists who do understand the relativity of morality have NO LESS STRONG moral convictions.

I'm willing to wager that my moral convictions are far stronger than yours. 

Our subjective moralities, in my view- as I have explained- define us.  They ARE us.  My morality is the most important thing in the world to me- I am an expression of my unique and subjective morality, which is emergent from genetic and memetic factors that combined to form me.

 

When morality doesn't come from such absurdities as an "objective source" (which really serves to cheapen it), that personal morality is more genuine and sincere.  I do what is right by my subjective moral sense because it defines me- not because I'm afraid of hell, or trying to get a good slot in some heaven- not because some authority told me to.

 

To an extent, I pity those who subscribe to an objective morality- and I question whether we can consider them moral people at all- because they lack that framework for self actualization (something that perhaps they'll never understand the value of).  In the end, the notion of an objective morality just comes off both selfish and lazy in addition to that tragic loss, since the objectivist gets out of having to make hard decisions about the world, and elevates his or her opinions to universal truth- the ultimate of egotism without genuine fulfillment... a shallow and selfish pleasure.

But, of course, that's how I see it...

 

 

And no, we aren't relativists about fact, save obviously when facts are relative (e.g. Einstein's relativity)- when you come to understand the difference between fact and opinion, you'll see how and why that is so.


dreems
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 I think the best thing to

 

I think the best thing to do is separate out the aspects of your reply that relate to a philosophy of science, highlight some key issues, give a rather vague promise that i shall return to them (in a separate post) on the one hand, and attempt some clarification that relates more directly to the moral argument on the other.


 

On science and method there is:

  • the role of hypotheses and theories and verification

  • the role of curiosity as the principle of development in science

  • the role of science as seeking understanding as well as facts

  • the meaning of "critical scrutiny" as I phrased it

  • what i mean by the notion of objectivity – in fact, the different theories that can be maintained on objectivity

  • What subjectivity should be eliminated, and what should not be eliminated

  • the sense in which science is an intrinsic rational principle

  • the role of value in science e.g. The preference for science over bias and pseudo-science


 

I have simply picked out a few key issues in the order in which you responded. As I say, I should be happy to reply sometime. I have a different philosophy of science. For example, the works of Lonergan, Polanyi and Bhaskar in various ways contradict the positivist or "objectivist" theory I take it you embrace. I think there are better theories than yours, and I don't think these things are simply matters of taste.


 

I shall simply take up a couple of points that perhaps you didn't interpret accurately. The notion of "critical scrutiny" or "critical wonder" – there are many synonyms – is the sense that we have with some proposition or set of ideas and we ask: is it true? Is it real? Is it valid? Is this silly? Is this bias? Is this "really" science or just pseudo-science?


 

Now, I take it for granted that you know exactly what i mean – and that precisely this "subjective" phenomenon was going on "inside" you when you thought to subject me to a devasting critique. But what exactly is this?


 

You took issue with me because I claimed that people are not true to their insights, and you did not understand me. But I repeat the charge, and I give one example: yourself.


 

You reduce value judgements to opinion – but you don't believe it for a second. It's clear you prefer

  • real science to bias

  • science to pseudo-science

  • the advent of science (a long time coming) to it's delay

  • sense to nonsense

  • your own critical scrutiny of me to the absence of scutiny

  • your own version of morality to the "cheapened" version


 

have I interpreted you accurately? I am certain that you think it better to interpret accurately than to falsify. You also think error should be corrected.


 


 

But why? Are you really saying that pseudo-science and science are equally valid and that any preference is just a matter of taste? How can anyone argue over taste? But as I say, I don't think you believe what you say at all – you are merely deficient in self knowledge! Of course, you could reply that being deficient in self-knowledge is a perfectly valid option along with genocide etc. - and all the other things you don't believe in. My point is this: are you totally indifferent to truth, science etc. As if they were matters of taste? It's important to your self idendity? But the charlaton thinks the same! Is your view no better than his? If you address these lines of attack you will at least be answering the burden of my position. You made some important points that deserve better (on philosophy of science)– but perhaps you will tolerate some delay (you could always read Personal Knowledge in the mean time)


 

As for "the question of God". Rightly or wrongly, it does emerge. I'm thinking of the sort of atheists I know you will dismiss Sartre, Nietzsche, Camus etc. It's true I hadn't concerned myself with the likes of Ayer etc. I was simply focussing on the "silly" atheists as you put it. The question of God arises when one asks whether goodness, value etc is simply a human phenomenon – like the human beings sweet tooth etc.That the universe, the source of the universe is wholly indifferent to such concerns, that moral concern is entirely parochial etc. - as you say you believe. Although I argue for God, I was simply pointing out one way in which the question arises.


 

One final point, you seem to think that the moral argument implies some sort of divine command theory of ethics – I don't think it does, and at any rate, you attribute to me notions I reject.


 


 


dreems
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well, if genocide is

well, if genocide is rationalised as a war on terror this suggests that the warriors think genocide is wrong


mellestad
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dreems wrote:well, if

dreems wrote:

well, if genocide is rationalised as a war on terror this suggests that the warriors think genocide is wrong

 

If we can change an action's morality by re-labeling it then morality is subjective.  A soldier might feel bad to be involved in 'genocide' but a 'war on terror' might make him feel good, even though the actions he takes are the same.

 

No matter what way you go, I don't see a case for objective morality.  If objective morality existed, morality would not be such a slippery, always changing beast.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


BobSpence
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The attempt to characterise

The attempt to characterise the complex process by which Science, and scientists, attempt to refine and deepen our understanding of ourselves and the universe, in such crude, simplistic philosophical terms as objectivist, positivist, relativist, etc is just so infantile.

Science is a complex, human-driven activity, with all the mixture of motivation and justification and potential for error that that entails.

Most critical arguments, pointing out the 'flaws' and 'limitations' of science concentrate far to much on the process of forming hypotheses, possible explanatory frameworks for what is being investigated. This process is largely shared with all other approaches to knowledge, and is clearly heavily influenced by subjective factors. Other 'disciplines' typically regard the outcome of such thought processes as the desired explanation, relying largely or entirely on intuition as justification.

The contribution of the scientific approach is to realise that such processes are just the preliminary step in gaining something worth labelling knowledge. It requires some level of independent, less subjective checking and testing be applied to hypotheses to reduce as far as possible the inevitable errors introduced by things like intuition and personal interest, etc. We cannot eliminate the subjective element, all we can do is to explicitly recognise how it may affect the results, and work to minimize it, and never hold any conclusions to be unchallengeable.

Any attempt to characterize this whole process by some philosophical argument, and attach some '-ist' label to it, is going to miss much that is important. Some such analysis is still useful and may indeed give scientists a 'heads-up' that there may be some systematic error or bias creeping in, but it nowhere comes close to accurately describing the process. It is only Philosophy, after all, which used to be 'science' until all the rigorous aspects were removed into serious independent disciplines.

 

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

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


dreems
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although i understand (but

although i understand (but disagree) with many of the attacks on my position, i haven't really got hold of your point, sorry!

of course governments can evade responsibility by calling genocide something else, and of course people may not really understand what they are doing so that their subjective guilt is lessened - but i can't see how these facts should cause me to doubt that genocide is absolutely wrong.


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mellestad wrote: If we can

mellestad wrote:
 

If we can change an action's morality by re-labeling it then morality is subjective.  A soldier might feel bad to be involved in 'genocide' but a 'war on terror' might make him feel good, even though the actions he takes are the same.

No matter what way you go, I don't see a case for objective morality.  If objective morality existed, morality would not be such a slippery, always changing beast.

Eh...I think you confused him even more.  

Absolute morality does not require that all, most, or even many people actually do what is right and do not do what is wrong; it only requires that there IS an absolute right and wrong. So, dreems can simply define whatever he personally feels is right and wrong as what is absolutely right and wrong. Yeah, that's not a very good system of morality, but anyways, to make people like him "get it," I think we should try to avoid descriptive relativism.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


Blake
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Dreems, I know my post was

Dreems, I know my post was long, but I'm insulted that you replied before reading it carefully.

The answers to most of your questions are contained within my post- very clearly and explicitly.

 

dreems wrote:

You reduce value judgements to opinion – but you don't believe it for a second. It's clear you prefer

  • real science to bias

  • science to pseudo-science

  • the advent of science (a long time coming) to it's delay

  • sense to nonsense

  • your own critical scrutiny of me to the absence of scutiny

  • your own version of morality to the "cheapened" version


 

have I interpreted you accurately? I am certain that you think it better to interpret accurately than to falsify. You also think error should be corrected.


Duh.

 

This makes it very obvious that you cherry picked your memory of my post, and read *very* poorly.

 

I do not like to repeat myself, so I will quote myself to you, to show you where the answer may be found.

 

 

Blake wrote:

Our subjective moralities, in my view- as I have explained- define us.  They ARE us.  My morality is the most important thing in the world to me- I am an expression of my unique and subjective morality, which is emergent from genetic and memetic factors that combined to form me.

Blake wrote:

Subjectivity is not unimportant- to the person the morality is relative to (e.g. me, to my morality) it is the most important thing in the world because it IS US.

 

Can you understand that?

We are living in a subjective world of personal experience (only loosely affected by fact).  Our morality is subjective- our morality defines us- our morality is us.  It's important NOT because it's objective, but because it's subjective- because it is US.  We, obviously, in our nature, are important to ourselves- we're central to ourselves- we are, to state the most blunt truism, ourselves.

 

Morality = subjective.  Morality = Individual = Self definition = Self.  Self = important to self.

 

 

Let me summarize this exchange for you, so you can understand it VERY CLEARLY.

 

 

You:  You prefer some things to others, therefore you believe morality is objective.

 

Me:  Read my post.  I explained VERY CLEARLY that I prefer things based on subjective morality, and why.

 

 


dreems wrote:
But why? Are you really saying that pseudo-science and science are equally valid and that any preference is just a matter of taste?

 

 

Ugh, why do you REFUSE to read or attempt to understand what I've written?

 

I will give you another quote from my post:

 

Blake wrote:

And no, we aren't relativists about fact, save obviously when facts are relative (e.g. Einstein's relativity)- when you come to understand the difference between fact and opinion, you'll see how and why that is so.

 

Does that register at all?

 

That you are forcing me to go up to my prior post to copy things down to you is extremely irritating.  Please read.  Please comprehend.

 

I am more than happy to clarify things for you, I do not wish to repeat everything I say indefinitely.

 

If you need clarification, please ask- but read first to make sure I didn't already answer you.

 

 

dreems wrote:
How can anyone argue over taste?

 

This I will answer, because you used a different word:

 

Because they care about it.  I argue over taste all of the time- the entertainment and fashion industries are built upon argument over taste.  And as far as morality is taste (it can be said to be), people have lived, fought, and died over taste.

 

I will modify one of my quotes for you:

 

(Modified) Blake wrote:
We are living in a subjective world of personal experience (only loosely affected by fact).  Our taste is subjective- our taste defines us- our taste is us.  It's important NOT because it's objective, but because it's subjective- because it is US.  We, obviously, in our nature, are important to ourselves- we're central to ourselves- we are, to state the most blunt truism, ourselves.

 
Taste = subjective.  Taste = Individual = Self definition = Self.  Self = important to self.

 

Is *any* of that getting through to you at all?

 

My subjective sense of morality and taste is profoundly important to me, and I don't have to falsely and egotistically assert that it is objective in order for it to be important to ME- in order for it to affect and guide my life, and in order for me to do everything within my power to perpetuate it.

 

I will teach my children my morality, and I will teach them that oranges are delicious, and that science fiction movies are awesome.  These are all matters of taste, and they are all important to me- yes, even enough to argue over.

Do you want to know the means by which I argue subjective morality?

 

 

I'm not demoting morality to the subjective- it is subjective- YOU are demoting the subjective to the trivial and unimportant.  You are doing it falsely, rudely, stubbornly, and without any consideration for consequence or reality.

 

 

 

dreems wrote:
But as I say, I don't think you believe what you say at all – you are merely deficient in self knowledge!

 

You are deficient in reading comprehension- or if not that, you're a moron who can't understand that something can be important to another human being even though it isn't an objective universal truth.

 

Which it is?  I'm not sure.

 

Either way, you feel it is in your best interest to insult me to promote your own misguided sense of enlightenment.

 

Care to try that again?

 

 

dreems wrote:
My point is this: are you totally indifferent to truth, science etc. As if they were matters of taste?

 

Truth is truth- that is FACT.  Whether somebody wants to believe the truth, or whether they think truth is better than lies is a matter of opinion- a matter of taste, if you want to call it that.  I have met many people who admittedly do not care for the truth, and believe delusion is just as good- who prefer delusion and don't care what is real.  Correctness and Morality have nothing to do with each other outside of the subjective view that they do (and this can be a positive or negative correlation).

 

But evidently, you don't want to be courteous enough to read or understand what I say when I make it VERY, PAINFULLY clear that

I AM NOT INDIFFERENT TO TASTE.

 

 

If you again accuse or even suggest that I am even slightly indifferent to my own opinions of morality, taste, or any other subjective opinion I hold, you will have earned my spite.

I care about my morals- MY SUBJECTIVE MORALS; MY MORALS FOUNDED IN MY PERSONAL TASTE- infinitely more than you care about anything in this world.  My concern for my taste in morality is the precise opposite of indifference.

 

 

dreems wrote:
It's important to your self idendity?

 

No, it IS me.

You don't see to understand that- humans are assemblies of cells carrying organized systems of information- memes.  My opinions of morality are not just "important" to my self identity- they are the essence of self.

 

dreems wrote:
But the charlaton thinks the same! Is your view no better than his?

 

Objectively, nothing is morally better than anything else.  I do not measure the moral betterness of things by objective means, because that would be impossible and absurd.

That would be like measuring computer memory in feet- it means nothing without the device upon which the memory is stored.

 

In my opinion, I am better than the charlatan, because my personal taste, my personal sense of morality, favors truth in fact over deceit.  I care about this to the extent that I would despise and fight the charlatan.  The same with the pseudoscientist.  The same with the vocal theist.

Those who share the same opinion- well, they will agree and fight along side me.  Those who do not?  Well, perhaps they will take the other side.

 

Neither side is objectively moral or immoral, but each side is moral in their own opinions, and immoral in the opinions of the other side.

 

 

dreems wrote:
If you address these lines of attack you will at least be answering the burden of my position.

 

Which could have been avoided if you had taken the care to read my last post more carefully rather than accusing me repeatedly of being indifferent of my own opinions when I have repeatedly asserted that my opinions are profoundly important to me.

 

dreems wrote:
you could always read Personal Knowledge in the mean time

 

Why, yes, I could- particularly if I wanted to shed a few of those pesky IQ points! 

I tell ya, they go straight to the cerebral cortex.  I hear they're installing x-ray machines in the airports now; I do want to look slim for the TSA agents.


dreems
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 Dear Blake, Don't be so

 

Dear Blake,


 

Don't be so annoyed! Honestly, I can be far ruder and more obnoxious than I was, and it would be a shame if you had exhausted all your outrage too early – keep some in reserve!


 

You accuse me of so many faults I feel I ought to apologise, but my mea culpa would tke too long – and I fear I would be misunderstood. People might think I secretly wanted you to apologise in return, which is ridiculous. If I was sensitive I would have entered kill them with kindness!


 

If I went astray I plead mitigation. I simply read you as an emotivist – my attack was what I thought was reasonably standard for a moral realist versus emotivist. Perhaps I misrepresented you, but anyway, what follows is how I would attack emotivism.


 

By emotivism I mean the philosophy associated with the logical positivist AJ Ayer. Moral statements sometimes use words such as right and wrong that look suspiciously like judgements of fact. And because there is a certain objectivity associated with facts (the positivist thinks of such objectivity in terms of empirical verification – this is a controversial issue in the philosophy of science which I shall presind from) any question of values being objective is ruled out as incoherent nonsense. Statements such as "Genocide is objectively wrong", or indeed questions such as "Is genocide wrong?" are meaningless. They purport to be meaningful, and the emotivist knows that the ordinary person and most philosophers have actually thought they are meaningful sentences, but the emotivist revels in the fact that his is a minority view that unmasks pretentious, inflated nonsense. In reality, "Genocide is wrong" merely expresses emotion, "Boo, down with Genocide". Obviously, this in no sense stops the emotivist from forcefully attacking genocide – he may be more vigorous in this than his prefence for marmite – but his position gives him no reason for his preference. In fact, the phenomenon of shrill debates (say on abortion) might be cited as evidence for emotivism. For there is little point arguing for matters of taste, and it is no wonder that we descend into shouting at the opponent.


 

In opposition stands the moral realist – certain things have an an objective claim on us, the respect for human life that genocide ignores. These are not invented or purely subjective, there really is a claim on us whether we like it or not, admit it or not. Values do not simply reduce to matters of preference. For many philosophers such realism seems incompatible with a purely materialistic view of the universe. It's very natural that some atheists will fault the moral argument because it accepts moral realism as a premise. Many atheists (but not all) see the force of moral realism as pointing to theism – but of course, this some deny. One form of the denial is emotivism.


 

I argue for moral realism, and point out the reality of "intrinsic norms". This is apt to be misunderstood by the emotivist. They may, for example, think that the only norms which the moral realist appeals to are extrinsic. Or they may think that everything within us is subjective, and that something being "merely" subjective means it cannot be normative. The most natural response of the emotivist is to descry such talk as nonsense.


 

In return, the moral realist will start to attack the lack of self-knowledge in the emotivist. He will talk of self-appropriation, making what is implicit explicit and so on – in the limit, such lack of self-knowledge leads to self-deception. For the discovery of intrinsic norms is the discovery that we have to live by them. The very discovery (not invention, for such norms are quite real, though hidden!) represents a call to conversion. Conversion leads to the utter dread of losing onself. For the emotivist, of course, has not been indifferent to moral values – and may well seek to define themself – in opposition to moral realists, "idiotic atheists" (those who think atheism is compatible with moral realism) and vocal theists. But such self definition is a definition in terms of a truncated self – and the realisation of their existential plight is apt to produce fury.


 

The moral realist's strategy is to promote wisdom, and the key to wisdom is self-knowledge, and one rather blunt instrument in the moral realist's armory is retorsion, which I shall explain shortly. Let's point out at this point, an interesting aside. There are certain terms that straddle the fact /value dichotomy, and "self-deceit" is one of them. The moral realist tries to appeal to the fact (emotivists are realists on facts) of the emotivists blindness to the norms within, something that provokes the emotivist, who despite himself doesn't believe a word of his own philosophy. He clearly sees the link between a self-willed blindness (which, if there really are intrinsic norms is a plain fact) and folly, so he gets very annoyed at the moral realist for calling him what he is, a fool.


 

Well, what are these intrinsic norms? What in actual fact are they? How can we identify them? How can we know, in fact that they are "really there"? One way to become aware is to note that the word subjective can be taken in two senses. There is a wider, neutral sense, and there is the pejorative sense, the "merely" subjective. The subject is the first peron, you and me. It is the person who is aware, conscious. Consciosness begins to emerge as deep sleep enters the phase of "dreams of the morning" whereby we anticipate daily lfe. And then we wake. We are aware of experience (seeing, sensing, remembering), and at another level there is understanding (insight, conceptualisation). A third level is constituted by acts such as judgement and verification – the level by which we know facts such as , there is a computer before you. A fourth level concerns deliberation, evaluation, decision. As we mount the levels we become more and more "awake."


 

Now such acts are conscious – we are aware when we understand, and they are ours – they are acts of the subject. For this reason, they are sujective in the neutral sense of the word, they simply go on in our heads so to speak. When a scientist sees litmus paper going red, this is an act of sensation, and so subjective. When he judges "This is an acid", again, this act is something subjective – for it is not as if we make discoveries unconsciously. To be aware is to be self-aware. You know you are reading my words, and so you are aware to some extent that you have consciousness, though you do not advert to this all the time.


 

But the most significant conscious activities – the subjective operations I have called intrinsic norms, the features of you and me and the emotivist that we should advert to if we wish to grow in self-knowledge, are the operations that promote one level to the next.


 

I spoke of four levels, experience, understanding, judgement, decision. What promotes experience to understanding? What promotes understanding to judgement? What in turn promotes knowing to doing? The answer is, desire. It is a particular form of desire that is manifest in questions. There are three types. There are questions for understanding – we want to understand our experience, when we seek to understand we set up a tension that if we are lucky will bring about a moment of insight.

There are questions for reflection, is it really true? And finally questions of value, is it really worthwhile. It is this last question that is called conscience.


 

Right now, I hope such questions really do suface in your consciousness, you may be asking, what on earth does he mean? If so, you are intelligent. You may be asking, can this really be true? If so you are reasonable. You may be asking, how can I refute this nonsense, shall i bother reading more? If so, you are attemting to be responsible. What you do supports what I say.


 

For the questions make manifest intrinsic norms, and in a nushell, such norms are, be intelligent, be reasonable, be responsible.


 

Because they actually occur – and obviously occur in the emotivist philosopher too – and because theoperations are conscious, and because they form a unity (we judge about the understanding we have of our experience) they are acts of the subject (of you and me) and so subjective.


 

But such subjectivity is not opposed to objectivity! Rather, objectivity is the fruit of authentic subjectivity, where authentic subjectivity is intelligent, reasonable and responsible.


 

Such subjectivity is not something to be ashamed of! It's no criticism of a scientist to say "you only think that because you are intelligent and reasonable – you just love to define yourself as impartial and you have a preference for being open minded and as full of intellectual virtues" or of a politician "you only act to stop genocide because you are trying to be reasponsible". No, the person who defines himself by such norms is a good person!


 

But the fact is, not everything within us is the voice of reason – if we listen carefully, perhaps, there are voices of madness. What, after all, is the burden of the rationalist's case against religion save that the absolutism, the dogmatism, the irrationalism of religion leads to violence, indoctrination, madness? De facto, the rationalist appeals to such norms. But of course, if he does not identify them, he must misrepresent. He will speak of "self-definition" because he wants to appeal to something that is not extrinsic. I understand that. Where he errs is that not everything intrinsic is normative. Those who lack knowledge of their own internal norms – those who deny conscience – have no way of distinguishing those subjective aspects such as whim, prejudice, bias, distortion, undue conservatism, personal taste and so on. For there are some subjective aspects that differ very little from the temper tantrum of the three year old. The neurotic getting angry with the therapist is "defining themself according to their own preferences" sure. But the therapist just carries on with her job.


 

So, now we see the other meaning of subjective – the merely subjective which we should eliminate.


 

The rationalist thinks that religion is "subjective" – but clearly, from what I have written, from my point of view, this criticism is only telling if subjective is taken in the pejorative sense. It's no criticism of religion that it attempt to undo the bias of inauthentic subjectivity- and is therefore subjective in what i take to be nrmative subjectivity.


 

Now, the atheist has a choice. Does he follow the emotivist and play fast and loose with the intrinsic norms, or does he follow the moral realist and attack religion because it is unintelligent, unreasonable, irresponsible. I would point out that it is unintelligent to have your cake some of the time and eat it at other times! The emotivist thinks the moral atheist is an "idiotic" atheist. I happen to agree – but that is another issue. This post simply argues for moral realism on the basis of conscience – which is an internal norm. It's not the moral realism that is idiotic.


 

So, who will you follow? Who is right? What is the better way? Emotivism or moral realism (which can, i admit be atheistic). This is where retorsion comes in. It's an absolutely deastating form of argument. It generalises the notion of contradiction. If I say "I cannot speak" the very performance of your activity contradicts the content of the theory asserted. You cut off the branch from which you sit. Anyone who thinks emotivism is responsible – for example, because it's true – contradicts themself. Emotivism can't be held responsibly.


 

Any attempt by the emotivist to argue with this is thoroughly irresponsible!


 

But what it boils down to is you, the reader. Do you know yourself? Have you ever felt the claim of a valid argument? Have you ever felt persuded, despite your prejudices by the better argument? If so, the self that you are is beyond the self that the emotivist believes you to be. But if you have not, are you not thereby disqualified?


 

9


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Well, that was very

Well, that was very confusing and long-winded.  

dreems wrote:
Anyone who thinks emotivism is responsible – for example, because it's true – contradicts themself. Emotivism can't be held responsibly.

What is the contradiction? 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Morals are intrinsically

Morals are intrinsically emotional and subjective.

The only objective truth about morals is they are based on our feelings and reactions to various actions that affect us and  other people.

This includes the feeling that at least some core moral 'truths' (things which are widely agreed upon) are based on some objective , external standard, possibly defined by a 'God'. That idea is in itself still just an intuition, and therefore subjective, rather than representing some grand truth.

The primary mistake in such a subject is to try and reduce a complex system of social interactions to some simple 'principle', whether it be 'emotivism' or 'moral realism' or whatever other label you can come up with. Philosophers do this all the time - they envy the grand theories of the physical sciences, and try to come up with something equivalent, which is all but impossible in such a complex and 'messy' area of study such as human individual and social behaviour and motivation.

 

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

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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another 'amoral argument'

 Hallelujah!! ... *bite*

 


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Dreems, please stop using

Dreems, please stop using these bullshit terms and be explicit.

 

Moral absolutist

Moral subjectivist

 

This is sufficient.

 

dreems wrote:

Now, the atheist has a choice.

 

No, not really- some may, but most do not.  Most atheist believe things because they are perceived to be true, and not because they are convenient.  That's usually why they are atheists (and you can find plenty of quotes from disappointed atheists to this effect)- only the rare atheist is as such out of emotional concerns (and those are usually the moral absolutist atheists).

Only moral subjectivism is viable for informed and intelligent people as valid belief- although in public, they may not declare this belief for various reasons- this is merely because it's true.

 

Just because it's true, doesn't mean it's the "right" belief to hold- claiming so would be absurd.

However, unlike you apparently, most atheists don't get to choose what we believe.  We believe what we perceive to be true- morals are painfully obviously subjective.

 

Does belief in moral subjectivism harm or improve society based on certain metrics?  That's ANOTHER argument.

Does belief in moral absolutism help people or hurt them?  That's ANOTHER argument.

 

The argument you are trying to hold, it seems, is whether morals are or are not subjective- you are confusing it with these other issues.

 

On the point of moral subjectivity, I am happy to help educate you to these issues, but I will not argue the fact of moral subjectivity.  I will also not argue against the claim that the Earth is flat.

Such a debate is a pointless waste of time- if you have a motivation to believe in moral absolutism, and are set on ignoring the facts of the matter, I'm not going to go in circles with you.

 

 

Believing something that isn't true is idiotic.  If you believe in moral absolutism, you're probably an idiot- sorry.  An atheist believing in moral absolutism is just as idiotic as a theist doing the same in respect to that belief.

However, professing belief in something that isn't true can be a calculated manouevre.  Some atheists may use appeal to absolute ethics, and this may only be a tactic to help persuade people to their personal sets of ethics-- or more likely, even, it may be a linguistic flaw, wherein our language itself makes it difficult to express things accurately.

 

Quote:
I would point out that it is unintelligent to have your cake some of the time and eat it at other times!

This is not necessarily the case.  See politics.

Inconsistent and maybe even hypocritical?  Perhaps.  Unintelligent?  It may be the opposite.

 

This is, however, ANOTHER argument.

 

 

Quote:
The emotivist thinks the moral atheist is an "idiotic" atheist.

 

No, all atheists are moral, as are all people; they exist in personal moral frameworks.  We're speaking not of morality, but of the belief of its basis.

Those atheists, along with theists, who believe moral absolutism is true (not merely profess it) *are* being idiots in that regard- subjectivists don't just think they're being idiots.

 

Quote:
This post simply argues for moral realism on the basis of conscience – which is an internal norm.

Your post presents a fully bunk argument which makes no valid conclusions to that effect.  You have failed to correctly use logic, and you have failed to use valid premises.

You are wrong.  The case has been settled for a long time.

 

I have done my part to answer your questions and inform you- that you are being dense here is your issue.

I'll not argue with you about this.  The fact that morality is subjective is not subject to debate, save by those who are too ignorant or unintelligent to recognize it as such- it is profoundly obvious.

 

If you wish to instead argue whether moral subjectivism or absolutism is better for society based on certain metrics- that I will argue about, because that is something that is up to debate.  In order to even enter into such an argument, though, you would first need to agree that absolutism is simply untrue (even just for purposes of debate), as the issue may not be confused.
 

Quote:
So, who will you follow? Who is right? What is the better way? Emotivism or moral realism (which can, i admit be atheistic).

 

Obviously moral subjectivism is correct.  Which one is morally "right" is not a valid question save for opinions.  Which is better depends on the metrics being used.

If you want to argue the latter, agree on the former and we can begin a proper debate.

 

Quote:
Anyone who thinks emotivism is responsible – for example, because it's true – contradicts themself. Emotivism can't be held responsibly.

 

That morality is subjective is merely true- making a claim about its objective moral quality based on that truth is obviously not possible within its context (truth is not objectively moral, lies are not objective immoral). 

Nobody I've seen here is trying to do this, except by your own misunderstanding of the way people are expressing themselves.


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Yet even ANOTHER amoral argument-

If our.... 'species', if it can be called that, was created in SUCH a loving image....

...why do humans demonstrate a sudden willingness to wipe their civilization off the face of the planet in the 21st century???

 

I mean, like I said on RRS back in January, I believe: exterminating Homo Sapiens Sapiens is but a matter of displacing "icebox substances" into the upper levels of the atmosphere - 1 teraton's worth of explosive energy could EASILY achieve this, I believe.

What would happen next in the following weeks and years- would probably be disturbing on all six degrees. What can I say? We ask for it sometimes!

*facial twitching*

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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dreems wrote:i am not sure

dreems wrote:

i am not sure of the best forum, but hi.

in my opinion, the best argument for a personal God, ie theism as opposed to deism, is the moral argument. i don't maintain its demonstrative, but the better argument points to theism. because conscience seems like the voice of god, and because i feel confident that various counter arguments wont hold up, i think its better to say that god really does speak through concience, so that the mystery at the heart of the universe is personal.

 

anyone intereted in taking up this discussion?

 

dreems

 

Early early man had no god and no religion. Therefore early man had no concience, no morals, in your seeming estimation. Now keep in mind we have language and have had language since before the creation story. If man had no morals or concience, how did he develop a language, and why? Was it perhaps so he could throw insults and make vocal threats to his fellow man before they stabbed each other in the neck and raped the women? Language it's self is strong evidence of a cohesion, a society. Societal values are required for a society and morality leads veryquickly to values.

There are other animals who have a sense of empathy, stronger in some and weaker in others. Dogs for example, if you get hurt and are laying on the floor moaning and carrying on a dog knows you are hurt and seems to care. Unlike humans however dogs are limited in what they can do, so they will mostly whine and lick you. Dogs as you probably know, do not know a "god". Neither do chimps who show an even stronger sense of morality. You can go down the ladder to reptiles, who have absolutely 0 morality and 0 care about anything in fact.

Now I imagine what you will say is: "but god created the earth and has been here so his presence has been our concience all along." I will argue that science has determined the earth to be far older than the creation story in the bible, so we can go round and round with faith vs science.

It sounds like you are saying if "god" disappeared, -took a vacation if you will- you would lose your concience, and who knows what you might do, you would simply not be able to control yourself anymore. Love and understanding etc would all just disappear, and you would be as a wild animal again.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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robj101 wrote:There are

robj101 wrote:

There are other animals who have a sense of empathy, stronger in some and weaker in others.

 

Yes, it's a very simple instinct which might be said to be based on a kind of projection- as though the other is an extension of the self.

 

Quote:
Dogs for example, if you get hurt and are laying on the floor moaning and carrying on a dog knows you are hurt and seems to care.

 

They usually do care if you're a member of their 'pack'.  Otherwise, it depends.

 

Quote:
Dogs as you probably know, do not know a "god". Neither do chimps who show an even stronger sense of morality.

Chimps can not necessarily be quantified as showing stronger empathy than dogs as species.  In fact, there is far greater variation in expression of empathy within a species than between most of them (being apparently both genetic, and very susceptible to mutation), and compounding the complexity even more, that empathy is expressed in different ways with different relationships and with varying degrees of extension to other species.

Some humans don't care about anybody.  Some only care about close relatives or other humans.  Some extend compassion and empathy even beyond their own species (though you may not understand it).  The same spectrum can be observed among various individuals within other species.

 

Quote:
You can go down the ladder to reptiles, who have absolutely 0 morality and 0 care about anything in fact.

 

That is absolute bullshit.  Not only, as I have said, is empathy not so easily quantifiable to species (and particularly to classes), it isn't a sliding scale based on how closely animals are related to us.  Many reptiles express profound empathy.  There are even mollusks and crustaceans that can express empathy.

Please refrain from making things up to fit your superficial impression of entire classes of animals.

 

There are reptiles that, I'm sure, express more empathy than you *ever* have.


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Blake wrote:There are

Blake wrote:

There are reptiles that, I'm sure, express more empathy than you *ever* have.

 

Looks like he pushed a button!

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Blake wrote:robj101

Blake wrote:

robj101 wrote:

There are other animals who have a sense of empathy, stronger in some and weaker in others.

 

Yes, it's a very simple instinct which might be said to be based on a kind of projection- as though the other is an extension of the self.

 

Quote:
Dogs for example, if you get hurt and are laying on the floor moaning and carrying on a dog knows you are hurt and seems to care.

 

They usually do care if you're a member of their 'pack'.  Otherwise, it depends.

 

Quote:
Dogs as you probably know, do not know a "god". Neither do chimps who show an even stronger sense of morality.

Chimps can not necessarily be quantified as showing stronger empathy than dogs as species.  In fact, there is far greater variation in expression of empathy within a species than between most of them (being apparently both genetic, and very susceptible to mutation), and compounding the complexity even more, that empathy is expressed in different ways with different relationships and with varying degrees of extension to other species.

Some humans don't care about anybody.  Some only care about close relatives or other humans.  Some extend compassion and empathy even beyond their own species (though you may not understand it).  The same spectrum can be observed among various individuals within other species.

 

Quote:
You can go down the ladder to reptiles, who have absolutely 0 morality and 0 care about anything in fact.

 

That is absolute bullshit.  Not only, as I have said, is empathy not so easily quantifiable to species (and particularly to classes), it isn't a sliding scale based on how closely animals are related to us.  Many reptiles express profound empathy.  There are even mollusks and crustaceans that can express empathy.

Please refrain from making things up to fit your superficial impression of entire classes of animals.

 

There are reptiles that, I'm sure, express more empathy than you *ever* have.

Demonstrate a moral reptile please.

BTW, I don't "make shit up" I make this assumption based on observation.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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Wow... the thread's starting

Wow... the thread's starting to melt down!


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 What about people who seem

 

 
"What about people who seem to lack empathy altogether, like psychopaths? You talk about a "mammalian core."
There's a book called Snakes in Suits, which is about psychopaths in business. Madoff would be a good example, probably, and Kenny Lay, the head of Enron. I find that such a striking title because it makes them into reptiles. Empathy is not a reptilian thing. Empathy is a mammalian thing. Psychopaths are capable of taking the perspective of somebody else, but only to take better advantage of you. They're able to play the empathy game, but without the feelings involved. It's like an empty shell. The core of empathy — emotional contagion and being in tune with the feelings of somebody else — seems to be completely lacking. They are like aliens among us."

-Some time magazine story-

 

 I googled reptile empathy trying to help that arguement out, It would be interesting to discover they had any. However I could not find much at all, only reinforcement of my theory on it.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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BUT THEN SOMEONE JUST SHOVED

BUT THEN SOMEONE JUST SHOVED A DOG'S ASSHOLE IN MY FACE!


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robj101 wrote:Demonstrate a

robj101 wrote:

Demonstrate a moral reptile please.

 

You're the one who made the wild claim here that reptiles are fundamentally lacking in empathy.  It would seem to be you who might need to back this up.  I could list a dozen species of reptiles that have clearly demonstrated empathy- but I won't, because I shouldn't have to.

 

Quote:
BTW, I don't "make shit up" I make this assumption based on observation.

 

Unless you have magical mind reading powers like Luminon claims to have, I highly doubt you have made any observations that demonstrate lack of empathy in reptiles. 

Absense of evidence is not evidence of absense- at best you could say you haven't seen it, unless you actually look for it or test for it.  And given that you aren't to any extent a naturalist or biologist, you don't even have the observational credentials to give that any weight towards a statement of probability.

 

Unlike a logically impossible god (which certainly does not exist), empathy in reptiles is not only possible, but probable given the assumption of clear observations in mammals (which you hinted to), and lack of a reason for it not to exist given a number of parallel ecological niches. 

You have no rational reason to even suspect lack of empathy in reptiles compared to mammals.

 

Quote:

"What about people who seem to lack empathy altogether, like psychopaths? You talk about a "mammalian core."
There's a book called Snakes in Suits, which is about psychopaths in business. Madoff would be a good example, probably, and Kenny Lay, the head of Enron. I find that such a striking title because it makes them into reptiles. Empathy is not a reptilian thing. Empathy is a mammalian thing. Psychopaths are capable of taking the perspective of somebody else, but only to take better advantage of you. They're able to play the empathy game, but without the feelings involved. It's like an empty shell. The core of empathy — emotional contagion and being in tune with the feelings of somebody else — seems to be completely lacking. They are like aliens among us."

-Some time magazine story-

 

 I googled reptile empathy trying to help that arguement out, It would be interesting to discover they had any. However I could not find much at all, only reinforcement of my theory on it.

 

Oh, yeah, a random time article which uses the statement metaphorically is definitely evidence... or not.

 

Humans have an easier time visually witnessing empathy in mammals, particularly those closely related to us, because the facial muscles and non-verbal cues that express emotions in those animals are similar enough for us to communicate.  Reptiles lack the same kinds of facial muscles that humans have- it's as simple as that.

 

Your assumption that these more distantly related species (assumption, and not a theory- you are lacking in any reasoning, evidence, or methodology) don't have empathy is about as rational as the assumption that other species don't really communicate with each-other because we can't understand what they're saying.


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Blake wrote:robj101

Blake wrote:

robj101 wrote:

Demonstrate a moral reptile please.

 

You're the one who made the wild claim here that reptiles are fundamentally lacking in empathy.  It would seem to be you who might need to back this up.  I could list a dozen species of reptiles that have clearly demonstrated empathy- but I won't, because I shouldn't have to.

 

Quote:
BTW, I don't "make shit up" I make this assumption based on observation.

 

Unless you have magical mind reading powers like Luminon claims to have, I highly doubt you have made any observations that demonstrate lack of empathy in reptiles. 

Absense of evidence is not evidence of absense- at best you could say you haven't seen it, unless you actually look for it or test for it.  And given that you aren't to any extent a naturalist or biologist, you don't even have the observational credentials to give that any weight towards a statement of probability.

 

Unlike a logically impossible god (which certainly does not exist), empathy in reptiles is not only possible, but probable given the assumption of clear observations in mammals (which you hinted to), and lack of a reason for it not to exist given a number of parallel ecological niches. 

You have no rational reason to even suspect lack of empathy in reptiles compared to mammals.

 

Quote:

"What about people who seem to lack empathy altogether, like psychopaths? You talk about a "mammalian core."
There's a book called Snakes in Suits, which is about psychopaths in business. Madoff would be a good example, probably, and Kenny Lay, the head of Enron. I find that such a striking title because it makes them into reptiles. Empathy is not a reptilian thing. Empathy is a mammalian thing. Psychopaths are capable of taking the perspective of somebody else, but only to take better advantage of you. They're able to play the empathy game, but without the feelings involved. It's like an empty shell. The core of empathy — emotional contagion and being in tune with the feelings of somebody else — seems to be completely lacking. They are like aliens among us."

-Some time magazine story-

 

 I googled reptile empathy trying to help that arguement out, It would be interesting to discover they had any. However I could not find much at all, only reinforcement of my theory on it.

 

Oh, yeah, a random time article which uses the statement metaphorically is definitely evidence... or not.

 

Humans have an easier time visually witnessing empathy in mammals, particularly those closely related to us, because the facial muscles and non-verbal cues that express emotions in those animals are similar enough for us to communicate.  Reptiles lack the same kinds of facial muscles that humans have- it's as simple as that.

 

Your assumption that these more distantly related species (assumption, and not a theory- you are lacking in any reasoning, evidence, or methodology) don't have empathy is about as rational as the assumption that other species don't really communicate with each-other because we can't understand what they're saying.

Ah so you think snakes and lizards speak to each other, and have empathy on some unhuman level that we just cant detect. Well that's just awesome.

My leopard gecko must be in communication with the mother ship, because his only reactions are to his own discomfort and food.

 

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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The limbic system draws

The limbic system draws together many different elements of the brain to form an overall structure for handling emotional information. Among these are two regions that have particular implications for understanding how we learn to care about other people: the amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala is devoted to processing our emotions and those of other people. The hippocampus is essential in the formation of long-term memories. Together, these two regions serve to help us form lasting emotional connections with other people. As it turns out, the more emotionally charged an event is, the more vivid it feels to our amygdala, which then helps our hippocampus to hold on to the event for the long haul. That’s why our most emotional memories are also our most vivid ones: Our brains literally encode them more forcefully than they do other data.

Humans are a social, caring species. Our limbic brains make us curious about the feelings of other people and animals. That ability to empathize is what separates us from lower-order creatures. It allows us to communicate and collaborate with others. And it allows us to read between the lines to glean information that may not be explicitly stated.

By this standard, most companies are corporate iguanas — ethically neutral beasts, focused on self-preservation. They’re not immoral; they’re amoral. They lack any sense for the impact that their actions have on others. And that goes back to how they’re structured. They have a reptilian brain to act. They have a neocortex to think. They just don’t have any way to feel. Without a limbic system, companies lack any sense of empathy or courage.

Another snippet I found.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
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robj101 wrote:Ah so you

robj101 wrote:

Ah so you think snakes and lizards speak to each other, and have empathy on some unhuman level that we just cant detect. Well that's just awesome.

 

No, we can detect the ample positive evidence of empathy just fine- you just haven't bothered to, because you're too busy trying to prove yourself right.

 

Where you were being an idiot was in assuming that there wasn't any without grounds.  Are you the sort of person who sees one green apple, and then asserts that all apples must be green- and moreover that they don't have seeds because you didn't cut it open?

 

Spend five minutes Google searching for examples of empathy in reptiles- such as protective behavior- if you can't find any, I'll give you a hint or two (although I just gave one).


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Blake wrote:robj101 wrote:Ah

Blake wrote:

robj101 wrote:

Ah so you think snakes and lizards speak to each other, and have empathy on some unhuman level that we just cant detect. Well that's just awesome.

 

No, we can detect the ample positive evidence of empathy just fine- you just haven't bothered to, because you're too busy trying to prove yourself right.

 

Where you were being an idiot was in assuming that there wasn't any without grounds.  Are you the sort of person who sees one green apple, and then asserts that all apples must be green- and moreover that they don't have seeds because you didn't cut it open?

 

Spend five minutes Google searching for examples of empathy in reptiles- such as protective behavior- if you can't find any, I'll give you a hint or two (although I just gave one).

You see this is where you are making a complete assumption based on the limited information I have given you. I have actually had many snakes and lizards. I have caught more snakes than you have likely seen. You can't handle these creatures over a period of time without learning about them. I used to enjoy keeping snakes years ago, nowdays not so much, after having handled them for years I drew my conclusion, that a snake, no matter how well you treat it, will never like you. I don't even think they "like" themselves let alone other examples of their species. They just exist on the insticts nature has given them.

You would like to argue for the protective behavior in female crocodiles, that would be the best example of "possible" empathy. But I would argue that is simply a natural built in instinct. The same mother croc will eat those young later on, real empathy there.

edit: By the way, I make an assumption as you call it, that reptiles have no empathy, you seem to be very angered by this. What exactly is at stake for you over a silly assumption? What do you plan to garner from this conversation? Is it perhaps that you believe you have found some petty trivial matter to bash me over?

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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robj101 wrote:But I would

robj101 wrote:
But I would argue that is simply a natural built in instinct.

Huh?

What example of empathy do you have that is not instinctual? All of morality is instinctual.  

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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butterbattle wrote:robj101

butterbattle wrote:

robj101 wrote:
But I would argue that is simply a natural built in instinct.

Huh?

What example of empathy do you have that is not instinctual? All of morality is instinctual.  

 

Instinct does not mean morality and empathy. I never said it wasn't empathy was not instinctual. Instinct is what is programmed in, morality and empathy happen to be programmed into us, you might say by instinct. If you feel a sting and flinch that is pure instinct, nothing moral or empathetic about it. You are doing what nature has programmed into you to avoid further injury or pain. This is how reptiles make it in this world, instinct.

Why am I discussing all of this, I merely stated that I think reptiles have no feelings or empathy and it is turning into some wham bam I'm an idiot for having an opinion thing. You people should already know all about what I stated here about empathy, morality and instinct.

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Blake wrote:You're the one

Blake wrote:
You're the one who made the wild claim here that reptiles are fundamentally lacking in empathy.  It would seem to be you who might need to back this up.  I could list a dozen species of reptiles that have clearly demonstrated empathy- but I won't, because I shouldn't have to.

 

Ouch, Blake.  That was pretty weak.

 

I can find things like Crocodiles caring for their young but not much above that.

 

Perhaps you should define your standard of empathy for Rob?  A standard of 'empathy=not eating your young' might not be a premise you can both agree on.

 

With mammals you get things like the experiment with chimps where they put two in seperate cells where they can see each other.  One chimp has a lever and when he pushes it he gets food, but his buddy gets a painful zap.  The chimps wouldn't starve themselves, but they would avoid pushing the lever for a long time.  That is empathy.

 

How would you demonstrate something as clear in a reptile?

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Rational_Theist

Rational_Theist wrote:

Whatthedeuce wrote:
 

I'm confused, if morality varies, how can something be absolutely wrong?

 

Some people believe in evolution, others believe in creation.  Therefore, how can there be an absolute truth as to whether or not we evolved or got created?

Nature did it, or god did it. and there is no god, so nature absolutely did it.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
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Rational_Theist

Rational_Theist wrote:

Whatthedeuce wrote:
 

I'm confused, if morality varies, how can something be absolutely wrong?

Some people believe in evolution, others believe in creation.  Therefore, how can there be an absolute truth as to whether or not we evolved or got created?

Maybe because truth doesn't depend on belief? 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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butterbattle

butterbattle wrote:

Rational_Theist wrote:

Whatthedeuce wrote:
 

I'm confused, if morality varies, how can something be absolutely wrong?

Some people believe in evolution, others believe in creation.  Therefore, how can there be an absolute truth as to whether or not we evolved or got created?

Maybe because truth doesn't depend on belief? 

 

Nice point, can't *believe* (har har) I missed that.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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butterbattle

butterbattle wrote:

Rational_Theist wrote:

Whatthedeuce wrote:
 

I'm confused, if morality varies, how can something be absolutely wrong?

Some people believe in evolution, others believe in creation.  Therefore, how can there be an absolute truth as to whether or not we evolved or got created?

Maybe because truth doesn't depend on belief? 

Precisely.

The fact of different and inconsistent beliefs about some matter is totally unrelated to what the truth of the matter is.

Rational_Theist, this response, along with your reponse to me in the other thread, demonstrates you have no idea how to conduct a logical argument.  You are in fact, fundamentally irrational.

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

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Rational_Theist

Rational_Theist wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Precisely.

The fact of different and inconsistent beliefs about some matter is totally unrelated to what the truth of the matter is.

Rational_Theist, this response, along with your reponse to me in the other thread, demonstrates you have no idea how to conduct a logical argument.  You are in fact, fundamentally irrational.

You are even more irrational for failing to read my reply (in this thread) in the proper context.

Some guy asked how morality can be absolute if it varies between different people.  As you've stated, "The fact of different and inconsistent beliefs about some matter is totally unrelated to what the truth of the matter is."

OK, so your statement was meant to be an example of how the original statement was clearly a fallacy when set in a different context.

But you are still assuming that there is some absolute morality, and that is a questionable idea.

You have no warrant for any confident statements about the nature or motives of such an entity as a God, even if such a being existed. He would be infinitely capable of fundamentally deceiving us. The existence of such an entity would make the ultimate nature of our existence fundamentally uncertain, as anything we think we know could be changed at a whim.

Belief in such a being is fundamentally irrational at every level.

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

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Rational_Theist

Rational_Theist wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Rational_Theist wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Precisely.

The fact of different and inconsistent beliefs about some matter is totally unrelated to what the truth of the matter is.

Rational_Theist, this response, along with your reponse to me in the other thread, demonstrates you have no idea how to conduct a logical argument.  You are in fact, fundamentally irrational.

You are even more irrational for failing to read my reply (in this thread) in the proper context.

Some guy asked how morality can be absolute if it varies between different people.  As you've stated, "The fact of different and inconsistent beliefs about some matter is totally unrelated to what the truth of the matter is."

OK, so your statement was meant to be an example of how the original statement was clearly a fallacy when set in a different context.

But you are still assuming that there is some absolute morality, and that is a questionable idea.

I find it difficult to act on the opposite assumption.  If some guy comes in my house and starts forcefully having sex with my daughter, I'm not going to sit back and let him continue on the grounds that there is no absolute morality and that therefore his morality is as valid as mine.  I'm going to act on the assumption that it is absolutely wrong to forcefully have sex with someone.

Is that the best argument that you have against absolute morality?  That it is questionable

It is not logically necessary, and the virtually universal reaction you describe is fully consistent with the idea that the sense of morality being an evolved instinctive aspect of our minds. The inherently subjective nature of morality is more consistent with the more varied response as we consider scenarios progressively less extreme than what you describe.

It is very dishonest of people arguing for 'objective' morality to focus pretty much exclusively on extreme cases, which they can be confident will get a universally strong negative reaction.

Quote:
Quote:
You have no warrant for any confident statements about the nature or motives of such an entity as a God, even if such a being existed. He would be infinitely capable of fundamentally deceiving us. The existence of such an entity would make the ultimate nature of our existence fundamentally uncertain, as anything we think we know could be changed at a whim.

That's all you have?  That he may be deceiving us?

If you want to go down that route, I would say that you have no warrant for any confident statements as to whether or not the world began five minutes ago with all of our memories in place.

The observed nature and state of the world makes an evil prankster God, or some such variation, much more plausible than an all-loving one.

There is absolutely no logically valid argument that a God must necessarily have the conventionally assumed nature, any more than that It necessarily exists. Both are based on unnecessary but instinctive presuppositions.

Is the Bible or your presumptions/hopes all you have to justify your position? Both are worthless for establishing truth.

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

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Rational_Theist

Rational_Theist wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

It is not logically necessary, and the virtually universal reaction you describe is fully consistent with the idea that the sense of morality being an evolved instinctive aspect of our minds. The inherently subjective nature of morality is more consistent with the more varied response as we consider scenarios progressively less extreme than what you describe.

It is very dishonest of people arguing for 'objective' morality to focus pretty much exclusively on extreme cases, which they can be confident will get a universally strong negative reaction.

The point is, under your worldview, the "strong negative reaction" does not have any real meaning.  It is just an incident of our evolution as people.  Therefore, you are saying the gap between moral belief and action is closed by survival of the fittest and has nothing to do with what is actually good, i.e. if I can overpower the man trying to rape my daughter, then my morality overrules his, whether or not they he is right or wrong is irrelevant. 

That is just your personal way of thinking about morality. That reaction has real meaning for me - it is a real reaction, and understanding why it happens enhances its meaning to me. 'Survival of the Fittest' is not an accurate characterization of evolution, it was not Darwin's idea. The sense of having an actual real justification for the 'moral' reaction, the sense of 'wrongness', based on it causing actual suffering to a person you have a strong relationship with, rather than being some defined as such by an imponderable something beyond ourselves is valuable and meaningful to me.

Quote:

Maybe rape does not occur in your country, but in the United States rape is pretty common, so my example is not extreme in the least.

The rate of occurrence does not make it more or less extreme relative to someone picking my pocket.

Quote:

Quote:
You have no warrant for any confident statements about the nature or motives of such an entity as a God, even if such a being existed. He would be infinitely capable of fundamentally deceiving us. The existence of such an entity would make the ultimate nature of our existence fundamentally uncertain, as anything we think we know could be changed at a whim.

Quote:
The observed nature and state of the world makes an evil prankster God, or some such variation, much more plausible than an all-loving one.

Actually, if you understood the theology properly, you would realize that an "evil prankster God" is actually a logical contradiction since according to the worldview, the manifestation of goodness is equivalent to God's nature and that since God's nature is not contingent, good is what it is by logical necessity.

This presents us with the basic paradox of God and 'Goodness'. If God's nature is the standard of Goodness, you remove any meaning from the term.

Theology is nonsense.

Quote:

Quote:
There is absolutely no logically valid argument that a God must necessarily have the conventionally assumed nature, any more than that It necessarily exists. Both are based on unnecessary but instinctive presuppositions.

Only if you adopt a primitive understanding of God as some "super being" rather than the grounds for being itself.  You are stuck on the colloquial usage of "God", which is used to refer to beings like Zeus and Apollo just as it is used to refer to the eternal substance.

So what is the 'grounds for being' of God Itself??

Quote:

Quote:
Is the Bible or your presumptions/hopes all you have to justify your position? Both are worthless for establishing truth.

No, I have the standard of goodness which you agree to, but only I am able to give it any metaphysical footing, whereas your moral relativism cancels out into incoherence.

You are only able to give it an abstract 'metaphysical' footing, my approach is the one that has a real foundation, at least to me.

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

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology