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Cogito ergo sum

Here in the Philosophy forum we will talk about all the "why" questions. We'll have conversations about the way in which philosophy and theology and religion interact with each other. Metaphysics, ontology, origins, truth? They're all fair game so jump right in and have some fun! But remember...play nice!

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Atheism And Moral Progress

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  • Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    Yes, I agree that this is how you can avoid the Euthyphro dilemma, but it would be "good" to clarify in what sense you mean the word "is." By this approach, wouldn't God also be the basis for everything, since God is the ground of Being itself?
    Unless I'm misunderstanding your question, I don't think so, not unless you're a pantheist or panentheist of some sort.

    Dr. Craig explains what he means by God is the good in this way,
    "I think that God is what Plato called The Good. On the Christian view God is Plato’s Good. That is to say, God himself is the source and standard of all value and is the very embodiment (the paradigm as it were) of goodness itself. So God is the source of the moral law. He issues the moral law to us, and he acts in perfect conformity with his moral character that is reflected in the moral law."

    https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podc...rt-10#_ftnref2
    Last edited by Adrift; 09-17-2019, 04:35 PM.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Tassman View Post
      I think that “morality” is only meaningful in a social context in that it can codify rules of behavior to enable a social species like us to function as a community.
      I'm aware it's what you think - but it's simply not supported by the conventional definitions and usage of the terms. Nor is it supported by the obvious existence of moral principles that are not related to interactions.

      Originally posted by Tassman View Post
      Yes. Exclusively I would say. One’s behavior if alone as an isolated individual may be unwise or foolish with regard to one’s survival…what one eats etc., but not "immoral" as such.
      Same response.

      Originally posted by Tassman View Post
      On what basis do you conclude that “such things as suicide and masturbation” are immoral in and of themselves if one is isolated and alone. It seems to me you are assuming without evidence that there exists an objective moral standard.
      No. Nothing about what I said requires an objective moral framework. My observation is that individuals can and do derive moral principles that are NOT related to interactions with others. For all of the reasons I have previously cited, I believe they do so subjectively. I see no reason to postulate that they would cease to do so if they were entirely isolated and alone. I also see no basis for calling these "moral precepts" if formulated in the context of a society, and "NOT moral precepts" if formulated in isolation. If I have a moral precept against suicide, I can have that moral precept with or without a community. Moral precepts are about actions - not exclusively about inter-actions.
      The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

      I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Adrift View Post
        But is not subjective to him, it is him. He is the good. You don't talk about any of God's other essential attributes as being subjective to him, do you? It seems to me that it's just unnecessary language that adds a layer of confusion when you talk about moral goodness being subjective to God even if you do so while maintaining that the goodness is grounded in his nature.
        The problem with all of this is that it treats "good" as if it were some intrinsic attribute that something can have. "Good" is an assessment. "Bad" is an assessment. They are value judgments. They don't exist independently - they exist in the mind of an assessor making an assessment. The statement "god is good" is meaningless without specifying "to whom" and "as measured by what?" "Good" is not a color - or weight - or any other objectively real attribute of a thing, and this definition jumps to that assumption.
        The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

        I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

        Comment


        • Originally posted by JimL View Post
          Ought and ought not would not apply to an eternal god existing alone. Ought and ought not do what to whom?
          Your asking the wrong question. The "what" part is fine, because we will define which actions we "ought" and "ought not" do - that is the process we call "morality." But the "to whom" is off. Even interpersonal moral precepts don't always specify "to whom," and assume everyone. But some actions are not directed to another person. They can be directed to other life forms (e.g., is it moral or immoral to torture a frog?). Or it may relate to an action that solely affects the self (e.g., is it moral or immoral to terminate our own life?). An individual could even conclude that it is immoral to climb a tree or walk on a particular type of grass. What they consider moral or immoral depends entirely on what they value/cherish deeply - and we value/cherish things even when we are isolated.

          Bottom line, we still sort actions into "ought" and "ought not," even in the absence of a society.
          The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

          I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

          Comment


          • Originally posted by carpedm9587 View Post
            The problem with all of this is that it treats "good" as if it were some intrinsic attribute that something can have. "Good" is an assessment. "Bad" is an assessment. They are value judgments. They don't exist independently - they exist in the mind of an assessor making an assessment. The statement "god is good" is meaningless without specifying "to whom" and "as measured by what?" "Good" is not a color - or weight - or any other objectively real attribute of a thing, and this definition jumps to that assumption.
            The Neoplatonic and then later Christian idea of God as "the good" is based on Plato's metaphysical concept of Forms. If you're not familiar with Platonic Forms, that might be where the confusion originates. Also, many thinkers don't take "good" and "bad" as dual assessments. Rather, they see evil as the absence of good (I like Maimonides' take on this in Guide for the Perplexed).

            Comment


            • Originally posted by seer View Post
              As Carp rightly said morality is not about interpersonal relationships, it is about ought and ought not. It could be that God did not display His moral character until He created sentient beings, but that character was always there, and unchangeable.
              It is not only about ought and ought not. Those can apply to prudential considerations, like "I ought not to take Main Street if I don't want to run into road construction and be late for work." There's more to it than that.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                Unless I'm misunderstanding your question, I don't think so, not unless you're a pantheist or panentheist of some sort.

                Dr. Craig explains what he means by God is the good in this way,
                "I think that God is what Plato called The Good. On the Christian view God is Plato’s Good. That is to say, God himself is the source and standard of all value and is the very embodiment (the paradigm as it were) of goodness itself. So God is the source of the moral law. He issues the moral law to us, and he acts in perfect conformity with his moral character that is reflected in the moral law."

                https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podc...rt-10#_ftnref2
                You'd be a panentheist if you thought God were being itself, like Tillich thought. But if you think God is the reason for being, or, as a weaker version, maybe the sufficient reason for contingent beings, I don't think that would make you a panentheist.

                I've heard Craig give this explanation before. I don't personally find it convincing, but I'll keep an open mind.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by carpedm9587 View Post
                  Your asking the wrong question. The "what" part is fine, because we will define which actions we "ought" and "ought not" do - that is the process we call "morality." But the "to whom" is off. Even interpersonal moral precepts don't always specify "to whom," and assume everyone. But some actions are not directed to another person. They can be directed to other life forms (e.g., is it moral or immoral to torture a frog?). Or it may relate to an action that solely affects the self (e.g., is it moral or immoral to terminate our own life?). An individual could even conclude that it is immoral to climb a tree or walk on a particular type of grass. What they consider moral or immoral depends entirely on what they value/cherish deeply - and we value/cherish things even when we are isolated.

                  Bottom line, we still sort actions into "ought" and "ought not," even in the absence of a society.


                  "Ought" and "ought not" sortings of actions are necessary but not sufficient conditions for morality. These also apply to prudential and practical considerations, and to personal pathologies.

                  If the general aim of morality can be more or less identified, ie as at least the flourishing of sentient creatures, that would place real constraints on what would count as what an individual assesses as "good" and as what an individual assesses as a "moral principle" for herself, assuming that conditions for "flourishing" can be more or less identified.


                  https://secularhumanism.org/2014/07/...rswithout-god/
                  Last edited by Jim B.; 09-17-2019, 10:31 PM.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by carpedm9587 View Post


                    No. Nothing about what I said requires an objective moral framework. My observation is that individuals can and do derive moral principles that are NOT related to interactions with others. For all of the reasons I have previously cited, I believe they do so subjectively. I see no reason to postulate that they would cease to do so if they were entirely isolated and alone.
                    There is no reason to refer to individual behavior as exercising “moral principles” if you are living isolated and alone. In such a circumstance you can do what you instinctively want to do without the need to defer to the “moral principles” arrived at by society as a whole. By definition moral principles are ideals that we try to follow in our attempt to live right and be good people in a societal context.
                    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by seer View Post
                      The point is Tass, in moral relativism there is no moral progress, nor can there be since there are no objective moral values to move towards or away from.
                      There is moral “CHANGE” which is undeniable. You may not think it “moral progress” to top the World Happiness Report and Human Development Index, rather than being beset by violence and inequity, but I do.

                      Are you joking? What about secular cultures like North Korea or China or Cuba where they enslave whole populations?
                      What about the two centuries of slavery and the discriminatory Jim Crow Laws perpetuated by people of faith in the US with their objective moral law from God?

                      I don't get your objection as an atheist - all these are merely evolution in practice. We find the same thing in the animal kingdom.
                      This is your sad little mantra and you are wrong. The only “act of nature” of importance in this context is the evolution of the necessary social behavior of humanity to survive as cooperative intelligent social animals. This communal behavior is exercised via many forms of governance as previously enumerated.

                      I support everything except for Title II.
                      So, you think you have the right to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin in certain places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, and places of entertainment. But of course, you do. See above re the Jim Crow Laws.

                      Of course they are acts of nature, there is nothing else in your world.
                      Survival of the species is the primary “act of nature” and this is facilitated in a social species like us via the evolution of the necessary social behavior to best enable such survival.
                      “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                        The Neoplatonic and then later Christian idea of God as "the good" is based on Plato's metaphysical concept of Forms. If you're not familiar with Platonic Forms, that might be where the confusion originates. Also, many thinkers don't take "good" and "bad" as dual assessments. Rather, they see evil as the absence of good (I like Maimonides' take on this in Guide for the Perplexed).
                        I am familiar, Adrift. But Plato's "forms" have many flaws as a model for reality, as I'm sure you know. Basing an entire theology, as well as a moral structure, on them inherits those flaws and problems. I am also familiar with the characterization of evil as the absence of good. It hearkens to the notion of darkness as the absence of light. In the latter case, is apt because light is a physical phenomenon and we can show that the absence of photons (or electromagnetic energy at a specific wavelength) equates to darkness. "Good" and "bad" are not such tangible attributes. Good and bad do not exist in the thing as an attribute, but as an assessment in the mind of an evaluator. When we say "John is good" we are saying "John's actions align with what we consider to be moral" if "moral" is the metric being used to assess "goodness." Or we are saying "John is generous" if generosity is how we assess "goodness." Generally, we are saying that John exhibits qualities in his actions that we like, approve of, think are beneficial, etc.

                        The entire argument being made here treats good and bad as if they are attributes in and of themselves. Unfortunately, they are not. A steak is "good" for the person who needs to increase their protein input. It's not particularly "good" for the cow. Good and bad are relative terms - relative to the assessor.

                        I also think you might want to better distinguish between "disagreement" and "confusion."
                        The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

                        I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                          "Ought" and "ought not" sortings of actions are necessary but not sufficient conditions for morality. These also apply to prudential and practical considerations, and to personal pathologies.
                          Yes - they do. Which is why humans tend to reserve the word "morality" for classification of actions that relate to the things we hold most precious.

                          Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                          If the general aim of morality can be more or less identified, ie as at least the flourishing of sentient creatures, that would place real constraints on what would count as what an individual assesses as "good" and as what an individual assesses as a "moral principle" for herself, assuming that conditions for "flourishing" can be more or less identified.

                          https://secularhumanism.org/2014/07/...rswithout-god/
                          That's, umm, pretty vague.
                          The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

                          I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Tassman View Post
                            There is no reason to refer to individual behavior as exercising “moral principles” if you are living isolated and alone. In such a circumstance you can do what you instinctively want to do without the need to defer to the “moral principles” arrived at by society as a whole. By definition moral principles are ideals that we try to follow in our attempt to live right and be good people in a societal context.
                            Moral principles don't derive from a society, Tass. The society can and does influence them, as does family, religion, and a variety of personal experiences. But morality arises from the individual and the individual has primacy. If I believe it is "immoral to take my own life," I see no reason to stop calling it "immoral" just because I am in isolation. If I believe it is immoral to "torture a frog," I see no justification for ceasing to call it a moral position just because I am isolated.

                            I understand what you are asserting and have asserted multiple times now. I simply see no justification for the assertion. You have not explained how the presence/absence of a "society" makes my moral position about "torturing animals" more or less a moral position.
                            The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

                            I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Tassman View Post
                              There is moral “CHANGE” which is undeniable. You may not think it “moral progress” to top the World Happiness Report and Human Development Index, rather than being beset by violence and inequity, but I do.
                              Again Tass, happiness is a subjective consideration. What makes you happy may not make the Jihadist or Communist happy. Again, there is no moral progress in your world, nor can there be.



                              What about the two centuries of slavery and the discriminatory Jim Crow Laws perpetuated by people of faith in the US with their objective moral law from God?
                              Well I would like to know what teachings of Christ they use to support Jim Crow. And remember how many Christians were against that.

                              This is your sad little mantra and you are wrong. The only “act of nature” of importance in this context is the evolution of the necessary social behavior of humanity to survive as cooperative intelligent social animals. This communal behavior is exercised via many forms of governance as previously enumerated.
                              Nonsense Tass, no matter what we do it is nature - there is nothing else. And nature could care less if we survive or not.

                              So, you think you have the right to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin in certain places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, and places of entertainment. But of course, you do. See above re the Jim Crow Laws.
                              When Jim Crow laws were applied to government entities, voting, schools and such they had to go. But as I have said time and time again - the government should not force one man to serve another man.



                              Survival of the species is the primary “act of nature” and this is facilitated in a social species like us via the evolution of the necessary social behavior to best enable such survival.
                              That is just silly Tass - nature does not care or aim for our survival.
                              Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by carpedm9587 View Post
                                Yes - they do. Which is why humans tend to reserve the word "morality" for classification of actions that relate to the things we hold most precious.
                                It's not that simple. It isn't an easily quantifiable matter. I hold my own life as most precious to me psychologically, but my self-preservation isn't necessarily or always a moral consideration. The simple fact that something is the most precious to me subjectively and personally doesn't make that thing the most morally or ethically considerable.



                                That's, umm, pretty vague.
                                It's not really, if you read it closely. And also there's the article there that can help you if you have trouble understanding.

                                Comment

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