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Humanist morality
Posted: 12 April 2011 11:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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mckenzievmd - 24 May 2007 12:12 AM

But I also think, as a scientific naturalist, that the idea that the universe contains any inherent ethical values is nonsense. The universe is morally indifferent and the very idea of morality is dependant of humans (or other conscious entities) beliefs and judgements. In this sense, morality is subjective.

I quite agree however the central issue on subjectivity here is different, that of the opinion/fact kind, as to whether therefore moral views are just and only opinions, the above form of subjectivism does not necessarily and exclusively lead to opinion based subjectivism, that is another hasty generalisation and/or equivocation over subjective (just highlight the issues, other arguments of yours might not be committing these fallacies although my reading of your other comments does indicate these are the fallacies you are commiting).

As I argue above, I think there are constraints and shaping factors that yield remarkably similar and consistent moral schemes across time and culture, which is why I’m not a strict cultural relativist, but ultimately something is only moral or immoral because we decide it is so, howevere this decision is made.

So there are common structures the lead to how decisions are made (“opinion-makers”?) but “ultimately” it is only because we decide it is so, regardless? This is confused. With such biological and cultural opinion-makers (or constraints and factors) opinions should be predictable in the provisional, probabilistic and population sense, such that changing the opinion-makers should have reasonably predictable effects on the resultant opinions. You do not seem to be able to have your cake and eat it… On what basis, apart from here appearing arbitrary, do you justify your “ultimately” assertion?

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Posted: 13 April 2011 12:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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I will continue make points only if I have not already made them. Now if others have , then only if I have something to add. So your next post:

mckenzievmd - 24 May 2007 12:03 PM

I guess part of the problem I have with objectivism, as you define it, is that the “outside” bases for morality, what you would call “independant” or “in the world,”

That is only one version of objectivity and not the relevant one in relation to opinions and not. I certainly agree that there are no moral values independent of moral agents, without such agents, there are no such values. I will take this for granted in following comments. This does not establish your point that all moral values are a matter of opinion.

But the foundation of morality comes from what someone values, and that is inherently subjective.

Not quite. As human beings (and as sentient creatures in general) we have common biological and psychological needs and forms of interaction. There is nothing to stop objectively analysing these interactions and relations and this does not lead to moral relativism nor moral absolutism. (It might be better to make your argument without referring to “subjectivism” as you use it with quite few different meanings as far as I can tell, better just to always cash out the specific meaning and then, I argue, you would find this does not lead tot he conclusion that you like (whether this applies to anyone else,  it certainly seems to be the case wiht respect to you, but I am sure you would not deny that!))

Now, what I am arguing is that rather than locating the source of moral values “outside” of human feelings or opinions, we should acknowledge that morality is founded on our needs and desires, our evolved cognitive apparatus, the requirements of sociality, and other such factors that shape our moral reasoning.

I agree apart from ““outside” of human feelings or opinions”, this remains to be argued for by you and not presumed.

However, there will always be ethical outliers, as there are biological outliers, so some individuals will not conform to the larger society’s agreed-upon ethics.

I fail to see how this counts as evidence in your favour. It is to be expected on the basis of any moral theory.

However, a cautious degree of relativism prevents us from going to the extreme of assuming a priori that we have the perfect system of ethics that is completely objective and that any dissent on any specific point is automatically wrong and unacceptable.

I do no think anyone here is arguing at all for a form of moral realism anything like that. It is a straw man and argument to consequences.

Justifying ethics on outside absolutes, like religion does, almost requires one to have this exaggerated sense of absolute certainty, and that’s why I’m not ready to throw out relativism completely despite its real, and imagined, excesses, and why I’m comfortable saying that morality is somewhat relative and contingent and subject to change as cultures and values change, just as scientific truth is somewhat uncertain and subject to revision as justified by new ideas and data.

You are invoking a false dichotomy between moral relativism and moral absolutism, there are many others that are neither. Again this is an appeal to consequences designed to stifle debate. None of us here is defending or promoting moral absolutism and our arguments towards an objective or realist basis for morality do not lead to absolutism. This is a red herring.

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Posted: 13 April 2011 12:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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dougsmith - 24 May 2007 04:14 PM
mckenzievmd - 24 May 2007 03:12 PM

But morality and ethics are processes that only exist within and because of the human mind, so they have no objective existence of their own, no fundamental nature or “fact of the matter” outside of the definitions we create.

Well, this is what is under consideration; it hasn’t been concluded yet.

Hear, hear ( or is it “here, here”?) I second that motion! Nothing more to add back to Doug.

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Posted: 13 April 2011 12:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Carneades Thales Strato of Ga. [griggsy ] - 12 April 2011 04:42 PM

By objective,I mean open to all people,independent of religions, as is science, and like science, debatable and provisional.

Exactly! grin

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