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De Moralitate Atheorum
Posted: 06 April 2012 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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inthegobi - 06 April 2012 08:50 AM

The first group of theories require arguments that there can be real moral laws or regularities without a Lawgiver or Regulator. Talk about ‘patterns’ or comparisons with natural laws beg the question: our fundamental conception of laws, regularities, patterns, information and the like are all thoroughly related to rational, mindful lawgivers, regulators, pattern-makers, and information specialists.

Begs what question?

Regularities are “thoroughly related to” investigators in the epistemic sense that the investigators discover the regularities. Not in the metaphysical sense that the investigators construct the regularities. (I assume we’re not taking seriously various non-realst forms of post-modernist thinking).

inthegobi - 06 April 2012 08:50 AM

my personal experience has been that naturalist philosophers’ eyes kind of bug out and a vein pops up on their foreheads when you get even close to suggesting that ‘no law without a lawgiver’ needs argument. I think they get stuck on the supposed crudity of the word ‘law’. 

“No law without a lawgiver” is false on its face. So certainly, attempting to establish it will require argument.

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Posted: 06 April 2012 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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dougsmith - 06 April 2012 12:20 PM

Regularities are “thoroughly related to” investigators in the epistemic sense that the investigators discover the regularities. Not in the metaphysical sense that the investigators construct the regularities. (I assume we’re not taking seriously various non-realst forms of post-modernist thinking).

Yes, an investigator has discovered a regularity. Good. Now: what is the justification for employing the concept regularity but denying that there is an author of the regula? If you wish to just re-define the word, that is tailor-made to engender confusion. For instance, you might end up nattering about ‘information’ in Nature when there are only facts, causally related. Oh, drat - too late.

When an English-speaker mentions laws in the usual sense, he speaks of something made by lawyers (formal or informal); patterns or templates, of dress-makers, or boat-builders, or tool-and-die-makers; regulations, of regulatory agencies; rules, of a ruler. Seems to me the onus is on the man who tries to use such terms in a context that he claims somehow can lack an author, contra their ordinary usage. And let’s call Austria ‘Greater Germany’.

inthegobi - 06 April 2012 08:50 AM

“No law without a lawgiver” is false on its face. So . . . .

If it’s so obvious it might be hard to explain to such a dunderkopf as myself, but please make the attempt. I feel i’ve shown just the opposite: that the concept of law and its various synonyms *all*, in their original contexts, entail a human author as their source, and it’s up to the atheist to either find another concept that does the work he desires, invent a new term, or justify why the old concept doesn’t do the work it only seems to commonly do.

I suspect it’s just *popular* to use such terms as ‘natural law’ and then just stipulate a metaphysical claim that it *means* “no author of that law”.

Fortunately for the theist in moral discussions, it’s a lot harder to talk about morals without drawing the average person to ponder moral authority.

FWIW: On your cri de coeur that being moral in nature or existence v. willing or commanding morals is a ‘difference that doesn’t make a difference’: of course it makes a difference: to posit commanding as *the* source of morals does indeed involve all the problems of the Euthyphro Dilemma; to posit a being naturally avoids it, since the willing or commanding is not the source, but an instrument or means of expressing God’s nature (“Let there be . . .”). Ex 1: my real authority as a teacher isn’t that I get the say-so in my class, but my native expertise; my will is what gets the work of teaching done. Ex 2: the American government’s executive branch wills nothing without their being a law-forming part of the government, and the proper sequence is law-making first, and commanding second. (And prior even to law-making is the general nature of our country, the Constitution.)

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Posted: 06 April 2012 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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inthegobi - 06 April 2012 03:25 PM
dougsmith - 06 April 2012 12:20 PM

Regularities are “thoroughly related to” investigators in the epistemic sense that the investigators discover the regularities. Not in the metaphysical sense that the investigators construct the regularities. (I assume we’re not taking seriously various non-realst forms of post-modernist thinking).

Yes, an investigator has discovered a regularity. Good. Now: what is the justification for employing the concept regularity but denying that there is an author of the regula? If you wish to just re-define the word, that is tailor-made to engender confusion. For instance, you might end up nattering about ‘information’ in Nature when there are only facts, causally related. Oh, drat - too late.

“Information” just is facts, causally related in a particular way; viz., covariance of facts. No author necessary.

When I throw a six-sided cube, there is a one in six chance of any particular face coming up. This is a simple law stemming from physics and math. It’s up to you to show why an author is needed in addition to the physics and math. Failing that, it’s off with Occam.

inthegobi - 06 April 2012 03:25 PM

When an English-speaker mentions laws in the usual sense, he speaks of something made by lawyers (formal or informal); patterns or templates, of dress-makers, or boat-builders, or tool-and-die-makers; regulations, of regulatory agencies; rules, of a ruler. Seems to me the onus is on the man who tries to use such terms in a context that he claims somehow can lack an author, contra their ordinary usage.

Finding substantive metaphysics in ordinary language. Good job, if you can get it!

Here we go: “law” means “regulation written by humans”. “Natural laws” are laws, so they must have been written by humans!

Oh wait ...

Actually, one definition of “law” in my dictionary is “a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present”. No author there.

inthegobi - 06 April 2012 08:50 AM

I feel i’ve shown just the opposite: that the concept of law and its various synonyms *all*, in their original contexts, entail a human author as their source, and it’s up to the atheist to either find another concept that does the work he desires, invent a new term, or justify why the old concept doesn’t do the work it only seems to commonly do.

Re. showing just the opposite, you’ve done nothing of the sort. What you’ve done is to make a tendentious claim about ordinary language, false by at least one dictionary definition of the word. (And I expect, many others). I know there are some philosophers who like to believe they can derive substantive metaphysics simply by looking at words, but I am not one of them.

inthegobi - 06 April 2012 08:50 AM

Fortunately for the theist in moral discussions, it’s a lot harder to talk about morals without drawing the average person to ponder moral authority.

Now we’re making an argumentum ad populum? Really?

inthegobi - 06 April 2012 08:50 AM

FWIW: On your cri de coeur that being moral in nature or existence v. willing or commanding morals is a ‘difference that doesn’t make a difference’: of course it makes a difference: to posit commanding as *the* source of morals does indeed involve all the problems of the Euthyphro Dilemma; to posit a being naturally avoids it, since the willing or commanding is not the source, but an instrument or means of expressing God’s nature (“Let there be . . .”). Ex 1: my real authority as a teacher isn’t that I get the say-so in my class, but my native expertise; my will is what gets the work of teaching done. Ex 2: the American government’s executive branch wills nothing without their being a law-forming part of the government, and the proper sequence is law-making first, and commanding second. (And prior even to law-making is the general nature of our country, the Constitution.)

Exactly so. Taking your first example:  Your authority comes because you are an expert in subject XYZ. That is, you have a particular privileged relation to XYZ.

In the same way, if God is perfectly good, it is because he wills the good, which is no more up to his will than is XYZ up to your whim.

The case of the US government is somewhat different. Not in that the good is up to their decision (of course, it is not), but rather that their rule by law is a rule of the stronger. The law is what the government says it is; no more and no less. If the government says that it is legal to have slaves, then it is legal to have slaves. A morally perfect being cannot behave by such capricious counsel.

(And just for clarification, my point about “not making a difference” is that it didn’t make a difference to the question as to whether a personal God was necessary to ground morality. Clearly these issues make a difference in other ways).

[ Edited: 06 April 2012 06:43 PM by dougsmith ]
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Posted: 07 April 2012 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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inthegobi - 06 April 2012 08:50 AM
kkwan - 06 April 2012 07:39 AM

“In the Taoist religious or philosophical tradition, the Tao is in some ways equivalent to a deity or the logos. The Tao is understood to have inexhaustible power, yet that power is simply another aspect of its weakness.”

Is that what you have in mind?

That’s what I had in mind regarding . . . what? You lost me.

That a deity has “inexhaustible power, yet that power is simply another aspect of its weakness.”

Hence, evil can and do exist notwithstanding such a deity?

IMO, the Tao is a philosophers’ ‘thin’, nonpersonal God - comparisons are often risky, but the closest Western equivalent to the Tao might be the Stoic’s anima mundi.

What then is a thick personal God?

Nietzsche means by ‘English flatheads’ those philosophers - the nature of obligation was a hot topic in England since the seventeenth century - who attempted to found a theory of universal morals without God - whether as a moral realism without a God to ground them, or as merely universal moral truths grounded only by human’s similarity of feelings (like Hume’s sentiments).
The first group of theories require arguments that there can be real moral laws or regularities without a Lawgiver or Regulator. Talk about ‘patterns’ or comparisons with natural laws beg the question: our fundamental conception of laws, regularities, patterns, information and the like are all thoroughly related to rational, mindful lawgivers, regulators, pattern-makers, and information specialists.

A theory of universal morals either with or without God could be highly problematic or impossible.

To extend the human concept of laws and lawgivers to nature or the universe is anthropomorphism.

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