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Cogito ergo sum

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Atheism And Moral Progress

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  • Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    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.
    First, I didn't say it was "simple" or "easily quantifiable." Indeed, there is significant variation from person to person. But that is indeed the basis for how individuals arrive at their moral reasoning. Try it - and you'll see. Take any moral position and ask yourself why you hold that moral position. When you race back to the root basis for it, it will ALWAYS be something you hold to be precious that requires protection/nurturing/support (for what you consider moral) or because it threatens something you find precious (for what you consider immoral).

    Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    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.
    Yes, it actually is vague. What is the "flourishing of sentience" and how does it related to the matter at hand? While it is fairly obvious that sapience is a necessary condition for moralizing (one cannot categorize without the ability to reflect and reason), that does not in and of itself provide a basis for the claim that moral truths have an objective basis.

    As for the article, I actually read it. It is well written, but I came away with the same impression I usually have: a lot of effort made to provide an objective justification that simply cannot be substantiated. There is no way to go from an objective "fact about the matter" to an "ought" that produces a moral requirement. When we hold something to be precious, that "ought" is a natural consequence of the value we place on that thing. That many moral principles relate to interactions and others is simply a reflection of the value we individually place on community/society, and a recognition of the potential that the actions of others have to protect/nurture or attack/diminish these things we value.

    If you think otherwise, then I (again) submit a simple test: take ANY moral position you hold and demonstrate how it is an objectively-based moral truth WITHOUT appeal to any subjectively selected basis. I have yet to have anyone actually do this. The silence is telling....

    ETA: As with Adrift - you might want to more carefully distinguish between "not agreeing" and "not understanding."
    Last edited by carpedm9587; 09-18-2019, 03:17 PM.
    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 seer View Post
      Again Tass, happiness is a subjective consideration. What makes you happy may not make the Jihadist or Communist happy.
      What makes a "Jihadist or Communist happy" is irrelevant in this context.

      The Human Develop Index is a statistical composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries regarding their human development. And the World Happiness Report is a survey of the state of global happiness that ranks countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to. The secular countries tend to top both surveys and the more totalitarian countries do not rate highly.

      Again, there is no moral progress in your world, nor can there be.
      Nevertheless, there is demonstrable, ongoing moral “CHANGE” in our world.

      Well I would like to know what teachings of Christ they use to support Jim Crow. And remember how many Christians were against that.
      You will have to ask the Christians that supported slavery in the US for two hundred years and those in the Southern states that enforced the Jim Crow Laws until the introduction of the Civil Rights Act outlawed such discrimination.

      Nonsense Tass, no matter what we do it is nature - there is nothing else.
      Correct.

      And nature could care less if we survive or not.
      Of course, nature does not care if we survive or not. It is not a sentient entity with purpose and goals like your imagined fictional deity. But WE care if we survive or not .

      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.
      You seem to want the power to discriminate against those you personally dislike just as did the Christians who enacted and maintained the Jim Crow Laws.

      That is just silly Tass - nature does not care or aim for our survival.
      This does not alter the fact that “survival” is the evolved natural instinct of all living creatures.
      “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 carpedm9587 View Post
        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.
        You are entitled to your personal position on any of these issues, just as others are entitled to an opposing position. Does that render the latter “immoral”?
        “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 Tassman View Post
          You are entitled to your personal position on any of these issues, just as others are entitled to an opposing position. Does that render the latter “immoral”?
          Not sure what you are asking. I'm simply suggesting that you haven't, IMO, provided adequate justification for abandoning the language of morality on the basis of individual vs. society. Ergo, I see no reason for abandoning it.
          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
            What makes a "Jihadist or Communist happy" is irrelevant in this context.

            The Human Develop Index is a statistical composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries regarding their human development. And the World Happiness Report is a survey of the state of global happiness that ranks countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to. The secular countries tend to top both surveys and the more totalitarian countries do not rate highly.

            Nevertheless, there is demonstrable, ongoing moral “CHANGE” in our world.

            You will have to ask the Christians that supported slavery in the US for two hundred years and those in the Southern states that enforced the Jim Crow Laws until the introduction of the Civil Rights Act outlawed such discrimination.

            Correct.

            Of course, nature does not care if we survive or not.It is not a sentient entity with purpose and goals like your imagined fictional deity. But WE care if we survive or not .

            You seem to want the power to discriminate against those you personally dislike just as did the Christians who enacted and maintained the Jim Crow Laws.

            This does not alter the fact that “survival” is the evolved natural instinct of all living creatures.
            As I was reading this response, it dawned on me that Tass and Seer are both wrong about the highlighted line (highlights added by me). Tass captures the reason later in the line. As living creatures on this planet, humans are part of nature - and we most certainly care whether or not we survive. Indeed, most living creatures have a drive, conscious or unconscious or instinctual, to survive. So, in a sense, nature DOES care if we survive - because WE do, and we are part of "nature."

            Just a thought...
            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
              What makes a "Jihadist or Communist happy" is irrelevant in this context.

              The Human Develop Index is a statistical composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries regarding their human development. And the World Happiness Report is a survey of the state of global happiness that ranks countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to. The secular countries tend to top both surveys and the more totalitarian countries do not rate highly.
              Not is not irrelevant in this context, perhaps some people value other things over what the index measures. It is ALL subjective Tass, and always will be. Again, in your morally relative world there are no objective moral goals, nor can there be. And you trying to make is so doesn't make it so.


              Nevertheless, there is demonstrable, ongoing moral “CHANGE” in our world.

              Yes there is change - like the increasing rise of Islam worldwide especially in Europe. Yes, there will be a lot of change in Europe in 50 years, never mind the increasing power of Communist China.

              You will have to ask the Christians that supported slavery in the US for two hundred years and those in the Southern states that enforced the Jim Crow Laws until the introduction of the Civil Rights Act utlawed such discrimination.
              Well it was not my denomination, or most denominations here in New England.

              Correct.
              So why do things like slavery or genocide bother you since they are perfectly natural acts? Why does nature upset you?


              Of course, nature does not care if we survive or not. It is not a sentient entity with purpose and goals like your imagined fictional deity. But WE care if we survive or not .
              So what if we care? How are we any more worthy of life than all the species that went extinct in the past?

              You seem to want the power to discriminate against those you personally dislike just as did the Christians who enacted and maintained the Jim Crow Laws.
              Yep, I don't think the Christian baker should be forced to participate in a gay wedding. And so far the courts agree with me.


              This does not alter the fact that “survival” is the evolved natural instinct of all living creatures.
              Until they go instinct.
              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
                So, in a sense, nature DOES care if we survive - because WE do, and we are part of "nature."

                Just a thought...
                How does that work with all the species that went extinct? There is no intention in nature that we survive, or not. Nature is blind to the results.
                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
                  Not sure what you are asking. I'm simply suggesting that you haven't, IMO, provided adequate justification for abandoning the language of morality on the basis of individual vs. society. Ergo, I see no reason for abandoning it.
                  I believe he's explaining to you, in a very concise way, why your personal opinion does not a moral make.
                  Last edited by JimL; 09-19-2019, 10:27 AM.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by seer View Post
                    How does that work with all the species that went extinct?
                    What do you mean "how does it work?" The species strove to exist as long as it existed, but lost the battle. What's the problem?

                    Originally posted by seer View Post
                    There is no intention in nature that we survive, or not. Nature is blind to the results.
                    Apparently not - because I am part of "nature" and I have an "intent to survive" and I am not "blind to the results." There are parts of nature that lack intention are "blind to the results" and there are parts that are not. When all life ceases to exist, which we believe will eventually happen, THEN we can safely say "nature is blind to survival." Until that day, at least some part of nature is not "blind to survival."

                    I'm not sure how anyone could refute that rather obvious situation.
                    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
                      I believe he's explaining to you, in a very concise way, why your personal opinion does not a moral make.
                      Unfortunately for him (if that is what he is doing), his explanation doesn't work, since what is or is not moral is something I determine for myself. The individual always has primacy. If you think otherwise, ask yourself what your response would be if someone suggested to you that X is moral and you believe it to be immoral. Unless they made an argument that influenced you to alter your position - you would insist on holding your moral stance. It's what we all do.

                      That argument will necessarily be rooted in trying to link the moral position to something you value/cherish.
                      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
                        Apparently not - because I am part of "nature" and I have an "intent to survive" and I am not "blind to the results." There are parts of nature that lack intention are "blind to the results" and there are parts that are not. When all life ceases to exist, which we believe will eventually happen, THEN we can safely say "nature is blind to survival." Until that day, at least some part of nature is not "blind to survival."
                        Unless you intend suicide. But I was speaking of the laws of nature that created us - they care nothing for our survival nor do they intend that we do survive.
                        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
                          First, I didn't say it was "simple" or "easily quantifiable." Indeed, there is significant variation from person to person. But that is indeed the basis for how individuals arrive at their moral reasoning. Try it - and you'll see. Take any moral position and ask yourself why you hold that moral position. When you race back to the root basis for it, it will ALWAYS be something you hold to be precious that requires protection/nurturing/support (for what you consider moral) or because it threatens something you find precious (for what you consider immoral).
                          You don't have to literally say something to evince or express something. There's your literal-mindedness again. Wat I've been trying to do is to get you and me and all of us to clarify our concepts, to try to dig a little deeper beneath these bumper sticker slogans that we tend to bandy about with such blithe confidence to what they might actually mean, but I'm starting to wonder if it's really worth it. What does the "root basis" really mean? What pre-suppositions are you taking for granted in your uncritical privileging of this "root basis" and how are these pre-suppositions justified?



                          Yes, it actually is vague. What is the "flourishing of sentience" and how does it related to the matter at hand? While it is fairly obvious that sapience is a necessary condition for moralizing (one cannot categorize without the ability to reflect and reason), that does not in and of itself provide a basis for the claim that moral truths have an objective basis.
                          It's vague if you don't understand what you read. I didn't write "the flourishing of sentience." I wrote "the flourishing of sentient beings." And I wasn't writing about the necessary condition for moralizing but about what the aim of morality is. You're confused on multiple levels.

                          As for the article, I actually read it. It is well written, but I came away with the same impression I usually have: a lot of effort made to provide an objective justification that simply cannot be substantiated. There is no way to go from an objective "fact about the matter" to an "ought" that produces a moral requirement. When we hold something to be precious, that "ought" is a natural consequence of the value we place on that thing. That many moral principles relate to interactions and others is simply a reflection of the value we individually place on community/society, and a recognition of the potential that the actions of others have to protect/nurture or attack/diminish these things we value.
                          The author accounts for this; if the general aim of morality is acknowledged, this forms the conditional for the 'oughtness' that morality "seeks" to fulfill. The "aim" is then understood as an implicit teleology that sets the conditional for the normativity. Of course it's "rooted in" what we value, but our subjective valuings would be merely the necessary conditions for morality; what we value is also rooted in our nature and our nature is constrained by sets of facts which are not completely of our choosing. Moral norms and principles then have 'legitimacy' conditions that are set by these facts not completely of our personal choosings.

                          If you think otherwise, then I (again) submit a simple test: take ANY moral position you hold and demonstrate how it is an objectively-based moral truth WITHOUT appeal to any subjectively selected basis. I have yet to have anyone actually do this. The silence is telling....
                          That's just silly. The subjectively selected basis is the necessary condition, not the necessary condition. Choose any thought you have that's not accompanied by neurons firing in your brain. You can't. That proves that your thoughts are nothing but neurons firing in your brain. We're not really trading ideas here, but merely trading neuronal firings....

                          ETA: As with Adrift - you might want to more carefully distinguish between "not agreeing" and "not understanding."
                          I have, very carefully, and in your case, I'm fairly sure it's "not understanding" combined with "not wanting to understand."
                          Last edited by Jim B.; 09-19-2019, 04:30 PM.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Jim B. View Post

                            I have, very carefully, and in your case, I'm fairly sure it's "not understanding" combined with "not wanting to understand."
                            Jim what I find interesting is that honesty is a necessary condition for any kind of legitimate moralizing. I'm sure Carp would agree, but that would mean that an objective moral standard (honesty) is key and necessary. Do I have that wrong?
                            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


                            • This is one section from Michael Huemer's "Moral Objectivism"


                              2. The consequences of relativism



                              The argument is extremely simple. Since rational judgement presupposes some ground apart from the judgement on which for it to be based, the denial of objectivism implies the intrinsic impossibility of rational moral judgement, since said denial means that moral values cannot have any independent existence apart from the mind. To put it another way, in order for a judgement to be rational, one must make the judgement because it is true or at least because evidence indicates it is true. That means that the thing must already be true, or already be supported by the evidence. Since according to subjectivism, quite to the contrary, evaluative propositions can never be true prior to being judged correct since moral values can not exist independent of such judgements, it follows that it is impossible to make a rational moral judgement: i.e., rationality requires that a judgement be validated before it is accepted, but relativism implies that it must be accepted before it is valid if it can ever be valid at all (one version of relativism saying that such judgements can not ever be valid - but every version implies that they can not be valid prior to their being accepted), so relativism implies rational moral judgement is impossible.

                              Relativism makes moral judgement not merely non-rational but positively irrational, insofar as it implies that moral judgement must always proceed according to a manner which is directly contrary to what reason demands - must always occur without basis, that is.

                              Every action and every moral judgement is, if subjectivism is true, arbitrary - that is, groundless - because any ground for some thing must by definition be prior to that thing and, since (a) the notion of a ground or reason is normative (it implies 'justification') and further (b) in this case the ground in question has to be the truth of the proposition judged, relativism states that no such things as grounds can exist prior to the making of moral judgements. One version of relativism (see above, section 1.4) implies that whatever moral values we adopt are ipso facto right, but that means that a decision about which values to adopt must be arbitrary since anything we picked would be right. Another version implies that whatever values we adopt are wrong since value judgements are always false, which means that we can have no valid values, which means that every decision must be arbitrary.

                              What this shows is that if one knows moral relativism to be true, then one cannot rationally believe any moral judgement. One cannot do so because in order to rationally believe something, the proposition must first be justified, and as a moral relativist you know that no moral proposition is true before you believe it, so you would not have any justification for accepting it.

                              I should note that several influential relativists would presumably deny my analysis. J.L. Mackie, for one, claims that his view that moral values are not "part of the fabric of the world" is consistent with any moral views - i.e., he can still make ordinary moral judgements that this or that is good and so on.(1) Subjectivist philosophers, including Mackie, standardly draw a distinction between first- and second-order moral views and hope by this to show that they can maintain their 'second-order' view without giving up any of their first-order moral views. A 'first-order' moral view is a claim about what is good or bad, right or wrong; while a second-order moral view is about the nature of first-order moral views (e.g., what it is for something to be good or bad or right or wrong). The argument, presumably, is that since first- and second-order views are about different things, a second-order view cannot be in conflict with a first-order one, so we won't have to reject any first-order moral views as a result of accepting moral relativism. Relativism is, as it is said, not an ethical theory but a meta-ethical theory.

                              Frankly, I find that argument preposterous. If your 'meta-theory' consists in the denial of the existence of any subject matter for your theory, how can you continue to have a theory? Suppose that it were claimed that chemicals have no objective existence: can anybody imagine that the adoption of this belief would have no effect on the science of chemistry? Obviously, the entire science would be undermined. By analogy, if someone says that values have no objective existence, moral philosophy is undermined since it has no subject matter. It is then comparable to the study of unicorns. Nothing positive you say about unicorns can be true since there aren't any unicorns. And it makes no sense to say, "Well, I agree that unicorns are not real, but I still think this is a unicorn." How is it any different to say, "Well, I agree that values aren't real, but I still think this is a value"?
                              Last edited by Jim B.; 09-19-2019, 04:31 PM.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                                This is one section from Michael Huemer's "Moral Objectivism"
                                Very good!
                                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

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