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Moral Subjectivity V.S. Moral Absolutism
Posted: 30 October 2008 12:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

Term Definition:  Morality (from the Latin moralitas “manner, character, proper behavior”) has three principal meanings: In its first, descriptive usage, morality means a code of conduct held to be authoritative in matters of right and wrong.  Morals are created by and define society, philosophy, religion, or individual conscience.  In its second, normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions. To deny ‘morality’ in this sense is a position known as moral skepticism.  In its third usage, ‘morality’ is synonymous with ethics, the systematic philosophical study of the moral domain. (From:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality).

Yes but isn’t this is a meta-ethical debate not an ethical one? Given this above quote seems quite irrelevant here? You seem to have a penchant for quoting as I have a penchant for addressing each point. Each to their own grin

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM
danlhinz - 25 October 2008 12:20 AM

It seems to me that their are some “•universal human qualities” which we could use to create some morals that are absolute.

•The capacity to feel empathy?

Note that Dan has changed his mind over the use of the term absolute but you have not ... yet wink

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

faithlessgod: The quotes attempt to illustrate that there is a authoritative, “universal” agreement (across time/place/publication/type of person, without drowning you in paper) that the capacity to feel empathy is a recognized human quality “which we could use to create some morals that are absolute”:

Yes but I acknowledged your position without needing those quotes and especially using Dawkins in at this point debate is simply dubious because how is he authoritative on ethics and metaethics (he is not a moral philosopher)? Anyway I am dubious about “arguments from authority”. Further agreement whilst useful is not sufficient for empirical truth (argumentum ad poplulum). You need to do two things to make the conclusion - the quoted end of your claim - viable. First, and most important you need to adumbrate “absolute” so we know what you really mean by this term. Second you need to show how this conclusion follows from your premises. I am not saying this is a non sequitur but granting empathy as a universal feature of normal humans, with which I agree, is not sufficient to entail creating some absolute morals. What you say below does not establish such an argument. 

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

indeed, what the definition above describes as: an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people.  I would describe empathy as the only universally recognized human quality - across time, space, peoples, etc - that can be used for this purpose.

Yes but is an ideal code of conduct the way to understand let alone solve these issue? The above hints at Ideal Observer theory and the assumption the people are (purely?) rational is problematic, there is widespread evidence from multiple domains that we are not that rational and any moral approach must surely incorporate this otherwise it will be unworkable in practice (a normative and applied ethics point I know)

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

The second half of Schweitzer’s quote refers to the fact that people are affected by the capacity to feel empathy and act on “.....the location of objects, desires, and behaviors on a two-way spectrum, with one direction being morally positive (‘good’), and the other morally negative (‘evil’).” (from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_and_evil).  It is these behaviors that we could describe as “morally absolute” if we could precisely define “good”, which is often accepted as: human happiness, human flourishing, and the protection and continuity of all life.  This is where the subjectivity creeps in!

Well how is one direction morally positive and the other morally negative - this needs to be explained - in other words what is the theory of moral value being used here? “Subjectivity creeping in” does not absolve one from this challenge. This seems a very peculiar use of “morally absolute” why not use other terms to make this clearer and so avoid misunderstandings over “absolute”?

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

As an aside: as an Atheist the Schweitzer quote appeals to me because my position is that we have one life to live and we should live it as well as we can - but also we should help others to live their lives as well as they can (moral subjectivism leading to moral absolutism perhaps?).

This looks very odd but OTOH then I regard most actual instances of moral absolutism as meta-ethically subjective e.g Divine Command Theories, indeed that is how wikipedia classifies those and I agree with that. (I also think the same applies to Randian Objectivism but maybe lets not go there…).

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Posted: 30 October 2008 12:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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mckenzievmd - 29 October 2008 08:49 AM

Well, I sort of agree with you in that I’ve said before that there may be moral principles that are in some sense universal due to their roots in our common biology, though that opens the door to their being exceptions (psychopaths or sociopaths) and change over time due to genetic change.

How can the existence of psychopaths be exceptions to what is universal, that looks incoherent?

mckenzievmd - 29 October 2008 08:49 AM

Still, I think any such principles would indeed be very vague intuitions that might easily lead to wildly different moral rules, so I’m not sure how much practical difference the universality of such principles would make.

Huh? This looks like your own intuition , can you rationalize it?

mckenzievmd - 29 October 2008 08:49 AM

I mean, while we agree that the Holocaust was morally wrong, you can’t really say in practice it was “universally” wrong in the sense that everyone everywhere agrees with us, because in fact that’s not true.

This is not how universal is used in ethics as I understand it - moral statements have universalisability built into them and that means that anyone in the same situation is under the same obligations, permissions and prohibitions as anyone else - no exceptions. Clearly many people act differently in that same situation and one of thier arguments would be that they disagree with this. Actually it is far more likely that they disagree with instances of the cultural variables that assert certain obligations etc. So to discuss universal as universality is not the same at all as universal agreement another equivocation fallacy. Further your take on universal is an impossible requirement to impose on an empirical understanding of anything, so what precedentwhat gives you a objective warrant to apply this here?

mckenzievmd - 29 October 2008 08:49 AM

There are those whose moral systems tell them it was the right thing to do.

Yea so?

mckenzievmd - 29 October 2008 08:49 AM

So even if reciprocity and self-interest and empathy and so on are universal human qualities, they don’t translate into universal rule structures on even the most apparently stark specific issues,

We agree!!!!

mckenzievmd - 29 October 2008 08:49 AM

so I don’t think they unercut relativism effectively.

How does this follow and support moral relativism or are you equivocating again :( ?

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Posted: 30 October 2008 01:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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danlhinz - 29 October 2008 11:05 AM
mckenzievmd - 29 October 2008 08:49 AM

I mean, while we agree that the Holocaust was morally wrong, you can’t really say in practice it was “universally” wrong in the sense that everyone everywhere agrees with us, because in fact that’s not true. There are those whose moral systems tell them it was the right thing to do. So even if reciprocity and self-interest and empathy and so on are universal human qualities, they don’t translate into universal rule structures on even the most apparently stark specific issues, so I don’t think they unercut relativism effectively.

This is a case where their is objective evidence discounting the claims the NAZI’s made for the holocaust. The Jews aren’t evil people destroying German society etc. Anyone who would still support it knowing all the facts would either be evil or have a mental illness.

Given that I think we are both looking at this from the same space does not mean you have to or would accept my solution nevertheless my approach would go as follows:

(a) People seek to fulfil the more and stronger of their desires and (b) people act to fulfil the more and stronger of ther desires, given their beliefs.

Your point reminds us that Nazi’s were operating with fallacious beliefs, and this is true regardless of another (objective) fact - that they would disagree with this. Acting on a conclusion based on fictional premises is unwarranted.

However your conclusion needs to make clear what it is to be evil or mentally ill. I do not think you could argue that the Nazis were mentally ill in any useful sense here, just they were suffering from a shared and reinforced delusion about an aspect of reality. The next step was that they acted upon this, which my assertion (a) above predicts. Clearly the fact that they acted on the more and stronger of their desires is not sufficient to justify they were morally right (from their perspective) or morally wrong (from anyone who disagreed with their actions’ perspective). What else is required for the determination of “evil”, even if beliefs have shown to be mistaken? One needs to evaluate these desires that they acted upon. The intermediate point here is that having mistaken beliefs is not sufficient to qualify as evil, they also have be acted upon, and as I think about it, I wonder if having fallacious beliefs is necessary to qualify as evil or is it additional the actions taken to defend such beliefs (e.g. suppress opposition and criticism) required?

Now how do we evaluate desires (ends)? By turning them into means by evaluating them against all other desires. To short circuit this analysis for now - although anyone who has understood (but they don’t have to agree with) what I have said before could replicate it -  the Nazi desires and beliefs directly and massively decreased global value - that is an empirical fact - and, given the size of this affect, that is evil if anything is.

[ Edited: 30 October 2008 02:23 AM by faithlessgod ]
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Posted: 30 October 2008 02:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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Hiya Stephen

StephenLawrence - 29 October 2008 11:16 AM
faithlessgod - 27 October 2008 02:19 AM

Yes that is the paradox of moral subjectivity. However the supporters of this position in this forum all appear to be reluctant to take it to its logical conclusion of normative relativism - that one cannot judge others and so can make no definite claims such as the X (e.g. the Nazis) were wrong. Still it is not sufficient to say one (implicitly subjectively) thinks X is wrong, as others are just as justified on such a model on thinking X is right. That is no justification either way!

Hi Faithless, good to have you back from turning an alter into a bar, wasn’t it?

Thanks although I am not sure everyone will agree with you wink

StephenLawrence - 29 October 2008 11:16 AM

I came here not believing that I believe in right, wrong or justification and now don’t know what I believe.  confused

smile smile More progress! What ever I argue for - and it is what I think is currently the best but defeasible solution - within a space that I think you, Dan, Doug are certainly coming from, I would address specifically to you that nothing here requires any notion of free will - see my formulation of how people behave based on beliefs and desires in my last response in this thread. 

StephenLawrence - 29 October 2008 11:16 AM

So just a question from me. Why do you think no justification and no right or wrong would be a bad thing?

If there is no real justification or, as is often the case, purported justifications are pseudo-justifications - then there is no warrant - no reason - to act. Better to say I don’t know - which is what you deliberately and humorously did above

StephenLawrence - 29 October 2008 11:16 AM

I wonder if Hitler had been unable to justify his actions, if he might not have behaved as he did and that in order to harm others, we often need to justify it to ourselves before taking action.

He was unable to justify his actions, his argument was based on faith - pseudo-justifications. People act, harm occurs and people, sometimes, are required justify that harm or to convince (very often condition via desires - emotivism) others to participate or endorse those harms. Lowering the standard of justification to make pseudo-justification acceptable - that is justifications based on fictional premises - is how people do this,  whether deliberately or accidentally, consciously or unconsciously and regardless of whether they realize the consequences of lowering this standard or not .

It may, upon honestly investigating this space, that one comes to conclusion that there is no (moral) right and (moral) wrong. Certainly one cannot bar that possibility -however unpalatable (to some at least) - and remain an unbiased investigator.  There are two answers to this:

Moral Nihilism is right in the sense that as all moral terms are subjectively defined, as well illustrated, I think by the Pluto argument I have recently given, and one will never reach universal agreement - that is Brennan’s usage of universal - on what these terms mean.
Moral Nihilism is wrong in the sense that regardless of how these terms are defined and whether there is universal agreement, it is a matter of empirical fact that some desires tend to fulfil affected other desires and some other desires tend to thwart affected other desires, it remains an empirical challenge to deal with this and this is what everyone who talks about morality is actually concerned with whether they realize it or not. If there were no such affect of desires one each other, there would be no concerns over morality and this sub-forum would not exist. Well it does grin

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Posted: 30 October 2008 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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faithlessgod - 30 October 2008 01:35 AM


(a) People seek to fulfil the more and stronger of their desires and (b) people act to fulfil the more and stronger of ther desires, given their beliefs.

Your point reminds us that Nazi’s were operating with fallacious beliefs, and this is true regardless of another (objective) fact - that they would disagree with this. Acting on a conclusion based on fictional premises is unwarranted.

However your conclusion needs to make clear what it is to be evil or mentally ill. I do not think you could argue that the Nazis were mentally ill in any useful sense here, just they were suffering from a shared and reinforced delusion about an aspect of reality. The next step was that they acted upon this, which my assertion (a) above predicts. Clearly the fact that they acted on the more and stronger of their desires is not sufficient to justify they were morally right (from their perspective) or morally wrong (from anyone who disagreed with their actions’ perspective). What else is required for the determination of “evil”, even if beliefs have shown to be mistaken? One needs to evaluate these desires that they acted upon. The intermediate point here is that having mistaken beliefs is not sufficient to qualify as evil, they also have be acted upon, and as I think about it, I wonder if having fallacious beliefs is necessary to qualify as evil or is it additional the actions taken to defend such beliefs (e.g. suppress opposition and criticism) required?

Now how do we evaluate desires (ends)? By turning them into means by evaluating them against all other desires. To short circuit this analysis for now - although anyone who has understood (but they don’t have to agree with) what I have said before could replicate it -  the Nazi desires and beliefs directly and massively decreased global value - that is an empirical fact - and, given the size of this affect, that is evil if anything is.

Not sure exactly what you are trying to say, but I will break down how I see good and evil. The NAZI’s committed “evil acts”, but to qualify the “person as evil” they would have to go against their own moral code. I think the NAZI’s committed evil acts but most didn’t know the acts were evil. A NAZI knowing what they were doing is wrong and doing it anyway would be evil, one doing it because they think it is right would merely be doing something evil.

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Posted: 30 October 2008 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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I don’t think one can ever find a universal morality, but some morality is more moral than others.  I take the evolutionary approach.  If we base our moral judgment on self interest (the selfish gene), this would be the lowest level of morality (although truly evil behavior for the sake of loathing of mankind is yet a level lower).  If we base our judgment on our kin, or race (an expanded selfish gene), we are higher but not there yet.  If we can rise above this to view all human beings as equal and deserving of dignity and happiness, as in the concept of the brotherhood of man (not to be sexist- ladies are included too), or even higher to come to view all sentient beings as equally deserving of life without suffering, we reach the highest level.  The highest level of morality is the most inclusive, not necessarily the most universal. 

If we go beyond that, to recognize that every worm, plant, rock, and street lamp is equally deserving of love, equality, and freedom from suffering, well, that would be just plain stupid.

Higher morality runs counter to the evolutionary struggle, which is why we need to recognize the force of evolution if we are ever to escape it.

[ Edited: 30 October 2008 07:00 PM by fausinator ]
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When I was 15 years old, I could no longer reconcile religion with reality, and I knew one of them would have to go.  It still amazes me how many people make the other choice.

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Posted: 30 October 2008 10:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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faithlessgod - 30 October 2008 12:36 AM
Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

Term Definition:  Morality (from the Latin moralitas “manner, character, proper behavior”) has three principal meanings: In its first, descriptive usage, morality means a code of conduct held to be authoritative in matters of right and wrong.  Morals are created by and define society, philosophy, religion, or individual conscience.  In its second, normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions. To deny ‘morality’ in this sense is a position known as moral skepticism.  In its third usage, ‘morality’ is synonymous with ethics, the systematic philosophical study of the moral domain. (From:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality).

Yes but isn’t this is a meta-ethical debate not an ethical one? Given this above quote seems quite irrelevant here? You seem to have a penchant for quoting as I have a penchant for addressing each point. Each to their own grin

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM
danlhinz - 25 October 2008 12:20 AM

It seems to me that their are some “•universal human qualities” which we could use to create some morals that are absolute.

•The capacity to feel empathy?

Note that Dan has changed his mind over the use of the term absolute but you have not ... yet wink

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

faithlessgod: The quotes attempt to illustrate that there is a authoritative, “universal” agreement (across time/place/publication/type of person, without drowning you in paper) that the capacity to feel empathy is a recognized human quality “which we could use to create some morals that are absolute”:

Yes but I acknowledged your position without needing those quotes and especially using Dawkins in at this point debate is simply dubious because how is he authoritative on ethics and metaethics (he is not a moral philosopher)? Anyway I am dubious about “arguments from authority”. Further agreement whilst useful is not sufficient for empirical truth (argumentum ad poplulum). You need to do two things to make the conclusion - the quoted end of your claim - viable. First, and most important you need to adumbrate “absolute” so we know what you really mean by this term. Second you need to show how this conclusion follows from your premises. I am not saying this is a non sequitur but granting empathy as a universal feature of normal humans, with which I agree, is not sufficient to entail creating some absolute morals. What you say below does not establish such an argument. 

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

indeed, what the definition above describes as: an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people.  I would describe empathy as the only universally recognized human quality - across time, space, peoples, etc - that can be used for this purpose.

Yes but is an ideal code of conduct the way to understand let alone solve these issue? The above hints at Ideal Observer theory and the assumption the people are (purely?) rational is problematic, there is widespread evidence from multiple domains that we are not that rational and any moral approach must surely incorporate this otherwise it will be unworkable in practice (a normative and applied ethics point I know)

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

The second half of Schweitzer’s quote refers to the fact that people are affected by the capacity to feel empathy and act on “.....the location of objects, desires, and behaviors on a two-way spectrum, with one direction being morally positive (‘good’), and the other morally negative (‘evil’).” (from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_and_evil).  It is these behaviors that we could describe as “morally absolute” if we could precisely define “good”, which is often accepted as: human happiness, human flourishing, and the protection and continuity of all life.  This is where the subjectivity creeps in!

Well how is one direction morally positive and the other morally negative - this needs to be explained - in other words what is the theory of moral value being used here? “Subjectivity creeping in” does not absolve one from this challenge. This seems a very peculiar use of “morally absolute” why not use other terms to make this clearer and so avoid misunderstandings over “absolute”?

Ecrasez l’infame! - 28 October 2008 07:47 PM

As an aside: as an Atheist the Schweitzer quote appeals to me because my position is that we have one life to live and we should live it as well as we can - but also we should help others to live their lives as well as they can (moral subjectivism leading to moral absolutism perhaps?).

This looks very odd but OTOH then I regard most actual instances of moral absolutism as meta-ethically subjective e.g Divine Command Theories, indeed that is how wikipedia classifies those and I agree with that. (I also think the same applies to Randian Objectivism but maybe lets not go there…).

Your answers are starting to comprise entire pages.  If we answered your questions about our answers we would start to take up more than entire pages.  The only point I was trying to make is that (to go back to the first question which started all of this) all claims of moral absolutism, whatever circuitous arguments are used, eventually become moral subjectivity. (And can, thus, be discounted from being universally applicable or even useful?)

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Posted: 31 October 2008 12:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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Ecrasez l’infame! - 30 October 2008 10:46 PM

The only point I was trying to make is that (to go back to the first question which started all of this) all claims of moral absolutism, whatever circuitous arguments are used, eventually become moral subjectivity. (And can, thus, be discounted from being universally applicable or even useful?)

I agree. I have never seen a version of moral absolutism that is, contrary to the claims of its proponents, actually totally subjective - that is based only “subjective truth” at best. In which case, what justifies you in looking to derive moral absolutism from empathy?

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Posted: 31 October 2008 12:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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danlhinz - 30 October 2008 02:02 PM

Not sure exactly what you are trying to say, but I will break down how I see good and evil. The NAZI’s committed “evil acts”, but to qualify the “person as evil” they would have to go against their own moral code. I think the NAZI’s committed evil acts but most didn’t know the acts were evil. A NAZI knowing what they were doing is wrong and doing it anyway would be evil, one doing it because they think it is right would merely be doing something evil.

Note this is going off topic so a short answer wink

The criteria to qualify “as evil” rather than just “act evil” -  based on the accused going against their own moral code is moot. One of the main, if not only, reasons for such labelling is condemnation - calling someone evil is a stronger condemnation that saying they are just acting evil. Secondly many “evil people” think they are doing good, presumably based on a commonly recognised need for justification and coming up with one that satisfies on-one but themselves and their supporters/endorsers these are what I call pseudo-justifications (and this partly explains why these exist). Part of the label “evil person” implies that they have no justification for their acts and that their justifications are mistaken or false,  regardless of what they personally think. That is you are condemning their moral code as well as them.

[ Edited: 31 October 2008 01:22 AM by faithlessgod ]
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Posted: 31 October 2008 01:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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fausinator - 30 October 2008 06:56 PM

I don’t think one can ever find a universal morality, but some morality is more moral than others.

Well it depends what you mean by universal. For example Brennen’s “Universal agreement” is an impossible requirement and one without foundation or precedence anywhere else and since it is not even held by those type of universalists that claim moral absolutism it is not a defeater of their position let alone any other universalist one. Similarly your Kohlbergian type hierarchy seems to be expanding the scope of who to be moral to and concerned with, towards universal - humanist? - stage but your last (or extra?) step is, we agree, absurd and is another impossible demand (unless one is a wacky newager maybe).

I like inclusive -  still this is not what I mean by universal - applicable to anyone without exception in specific situations. Cannot see how your hierarchy is an evolutionary approach and your use of “selfish gene” is a red herring and non sequitur but otherwise I agree with this, although I would call it a developmental approach to morality.

fausinator - 30 October 2008 06:56 PM

Higher morality runs counter to the evolutionary struggle, which is why we need to recognize the force of evolution if we are ever to escape it.

Then how your hierarchy an evolutionary approach?

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Posted: 31 October 2008 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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faithlessgod - 31 October 2008 12:40 AM
Ecrasez l’infame! - 30 October 2008 10:46 PM

The only point I was trying to make is that (to go back to the first question which started all of this) all claims of moral absolutism, whatever circuitous arguments are used, eventually become moral subjectivity. (And can, thus, be discounted from being universally applicable or even useful?)

I agree. I have never seen a version of moral absolutism that is, contrary to the claims of its proponents, actually totally subjective - that is based only “subjective truth” at best. In which case, what justifies you in looking to derive moral absolutism from empathy?

Exactly!  Nothing.

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Posted: 01 November 2008 05:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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Ecrasez l’infame! - 31 October 2008 04:41 PM
faithlessgod - 31 October 2008 12:40 AM
Ecrasez l’infame! - 30 October 2008 10:46 PM

The only point I was trying to make is that (to go back to the first question which started all of this) all claims of moral absolutism, whatever circuitous arguments are used, eventually become moral subjectivity. (And can, thus, be discounted from being universally applicable or even useful?)

I agree. I have never seen a version of moral absolutism that is, contrary to the claims of its proponents, actually totally subjective - that is based only “subjective truth” at best. In which case, what justifies you in looking to derive moral absolutism from empathy?

Exactly!  Nothing.

Huh? You seem to have given up defending moral absolutism without a fight wink Anyway this is my point exactly, there are no good arguments for either moral subjectivism or moral absolutism and both “can, thus, be discounted from being universally applicable”

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Posted: 01 November 2008 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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faithlessgod - 31 October 2008 01:15 AM

I like inclusive -  still this is not what I mean by universal - applicable to anyone without exception in specific situations. Cannot see how your hierarchy is an evolutionary approach and your use of “selfish gene” is a red herring and non sequitur but otherwise I agree with this, although I would call it a developmental approach to morality.

fausinator - 30 October 2008 06:56 PM

Higher morality runs counter to the evolutionary struggle, which is why we need to recognize the force of evolution if we are ever to escape it.

Then how your hierarchy an evolutionary approach?

By that I mean evolutionary speciation results from the struggle for limited resources.  The evolutionary way is to divide into cooperative groups who compete with other groups for those resources and eventually eliminate the other group, or one or both groups find alternate niches.  In this case, the cooperation within the group is considered the moral norm.  However, if we pursue a higher morality (a meme of universal love for mankind) rather than the morality promoted by gene propagation (a love only for those most like us), we run counter to the process of speciation.  We are trying to prevent the group division.

There are two important requirements to pull off this higher morality:  science and technology to get the most out of our limited resources, and birth control.  This is where many religions (Mormonism and Catholicism in particular) are heading in the wrong direction by promoting the meme without promoting birth control and science.  Overpopulation is a recipe for disaster as a good understanding of evolution shows.  When we start looking around for Lebensraum, things get nasty.

Speciation is marked by isolated gene pools, but nature already demonstrates that where gene exchange is restricted (as between human races or groups of seagulls) speciation begins.  It is obvious that there has been restriction between the races, or we would not have visibly identifiable races, and it is the visible differences in any given species which promotes natural speciation. 

This is why it is important that we intermarry (which is happening more and more), and I would add this as a third requirement to the above.

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Posted: 03 November 2008 12:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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fausinator - 01 November 2008 07:09 AM

By that I mean evolutionary speciation results from the struggle for limited resources.  The evolutionary way is to divide into cooperative groups who compete with other groups for those resources and eventually eliminate the other group, or one or both groups find alternate niches.  In this case, the cooperation within the group is considered the moral norm.  However, if we pursue a higher morality (a meme of universal love for mankind) rather than the morality promoted by gene propagation (a love only for those most like us), we run counter to the process of speciation.  We are trying to prevent the group division.

There are two important requirements to pull off this higher morality:  science and technology to get the most out of our limited resources, and birth control.  This is where many religions (Mormonism and Catholicism in particular) are heading in the wrong direction by promoting the meme without promoting birth control and science.  Overpopulation is a recipe for disaster as a good understanding of evolution shows.  When we start looking around for Lebensraum, things get nasty.

Speciation is marked by isolated gene pools, but nature already demonstrates that where gene exchange is restricted (as between human races or groups of seagulls) speciation begins.  It is obvious that there has been restriction between the races, or we would not have visibly identifiable races, and it is the visible differences in any given species which promotes natural speciation. 

This is why it is important that we intermarry (which is happening more and more), and I would add this as a third requirement to the above.

Thanks for this reply fausinator but I realize after my question that prompted this answer that this type of answer is beside the point - given the topic of this thread is “Moral Subjectivity versus Moral Absolutism” The solution you are attempting is neither, as has now been admitted the empathy based one too, as did Dan prior to this, as is mine. Now we might discuss and analyse amongst ourselves which is the best but that would be off topic.

My point being that it is a naive mistake to assume that moral subjectivism and moral absolutism are contradictory, but certainly under one construal they are contrary - so it might be the case that both are wrong. Any gene/biology based models as proposed here support the point that these are not mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive of the problem space - these proposals lying “in between” -  and that is another way of making my point in this thread.

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Posted: 05 November 2008 06:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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WOW!  My hat is off to you folks.  I have seldom read so many words that said so little.  Well, I guess that’s what happens when philosophers grab words from their toolbox and have a shoot-out.  It is indeed a shame the points can’t be made in everyday English and kept simple for us non-philosophers.  But then again with the abundance of anonymity among those posting it is difficult to know who is what and what assertively stated wordsmithing is veiled gobbly-gook.

I was particularly taken by faithlessgod’s post <Thanks for this reply fausinator but I realize after my question that prompted this answer that this type of answer is beside the point - given the topic of this thread is “Moral Subjectivity versus Moral Absolutism” The solution you are attempting is neither, as has now been admitted the empathy based one too, as did Dan prior to this, as is mine. Now we might discuss and analyse amongst ourselves which is the best but that would be off topic.

My point being that it is a naive mistake to assume that moral subjectivism and moral absolutism are contradictory, but certainly under one construal they are contrary - so it might be the case that both are wrong. Any gene/biology based models as proposed here support the point that these are not mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive of the problem space - these proposals lying “in between” - and that is another way of making my point in this thread.>

Good luck

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