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Logic and First Principles, 10: Knowable Moral Truth and Moral Government vs. Nihilistic Manipulation

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One of the issues we must face is whether there is enduring moral truth that can be warranted to such a degree that it rightly governs our thoughts, words (especially in argument) and deeds. Where, given that we have an inner voice (conscience) that testifies to duty under moral law, as well as an inescapable sense of duty to truth, right reason, prudence, justice, uprightness etc., if that intuition is false, then our whole inner life becomes tainted by grand delusion.

A lot is at stake, in short.

A quick first answer is, that we may recognise that grand delusion is self-referential, incoherent, self-falsifying — a case of reduction to absurdity.

That is, we see the inescapability of being governed by moral truth as part of the same first principles that we cannot prove but must accept on reasonable responsible — note the self-reference! — faith, for all proofs, all arguing must start from such. This then raises the issue of how the IS-OUGHT gap can be bridged, which can only be done at the world-root; or else we will always see the Humean challenge of ungrounded oughts.

This already puts on the table the bill of requisites for such a root: necessary being with inherent moral goodness, causal adequacy to ground a physically, intellectually, mathematically and morally governed unified but diverse world that includes responsibly, rationally free creatures such as we are. (And yes, significant — as opposed to absolute — freedom to think, decide and act would be yet another of those inescapable truths.)

That bill of requisites of course has just one serious candidate bid (the God of ethical theism) . . . if you doubt that, simply provide another under comparative difficulties: ___________ . Namely, the inherently good, wise, truthful creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. One, who is worthy of loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

Such is of course hotly contested, from every sort of angle.

Go ahead, just apply comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power. I remain confident that such a process will rapidly come back to there being just one serious candidate.

And, that a searching examination of our morally governed nature, starting with our thought-life, will point towards the dangers of imposing crooked yardsticks as standards of straightness, accurate measure, uprightness. Not least, that what is actually these things will never conform to crookedness. So, we need naturally straight and upright plumb lines to judge between yardsticks.

That is of course the role of logic, first principles and first truths that can be known to an appropriate degree of certainty. Which of course invites the rhetoric of how we old fashioned fuddy duddies and Christofascists etc are imposing agendas under the excuse of certainties.

Indeed, let us contrast a Biblical warning:

Isa 5: 18 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who drag along wickedness with cords of falsehood,
And sin as if with cart ropes [towing their own punishment];
19 Who say, “Let Him move speedily, let Him expedite His work [His promised vengeance], so that we may see it;
And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel approach
And come to pass, so that we may know it!”

20 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

21 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever and shrewd in their own sight!
22 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are heroes at drinking wine
And men of strength in mixing intoxicating drinks,
23 Who justify the wicked and acquit the guilty for a bribe,
And take away the rights of those who are in the right! [AMP]

. . . with an example of current political correctness, from US Senator Kamala Harris in a recent CNN Townhall . . . which we cite as a summary of moral claims being made and trumpeted across our world:

“You know, we have to speak truths about this. Racism is real in America. Sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia. These things exist in America, and we have to speak truth that they do so that we can deal with them. But we have seen in the last two years


[–> H’mm, methinks the last two weeks have something to say, here]

that there has been new fuel that is lighting that fire in a way that has been harmful . . . we know that hate is something that in the history of our country, and currently, fuels not only dissension and division, but is — actually can lead to death. And so, we have to take it seriously.”

It is also worth the while to remind ourselves of Cicero in his opening remarks in De Legibus, c. 50 BC:


Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]  — . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

Quintus [his brother]. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

 Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions. They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil. The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

In comparing the three, there is a surprising underlying agreement that we are under moral government. The debates come, on substance — and we must be very cautious when we see the dismissal of longstanding principled concerns as X-phobias, X to be extended to whatever latest fashionable behaviour supported by the “progressives” demands to be treated as a right. Where, a phobia is by definition an IRRATIONAL fear.

Such irrationality must be warranted, not just asserted.

Likewise, a right is a moral claim to support and respect in some particular way, so to justly claim a right, one must manifestly first be demonstrably in the right. For, it patently cannot be a right to demand that another taints conscience by enabling one in wrongdoing . . . something implicit in Isa 5 and in Cicero.

Such leads me to put on the table, that:

 1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

(This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.

4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. if a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT, it fails decisively.)

7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. Thus also,

11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

(NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.

So, we have good reason to hold that there are moral truths, that some are self-evident, serving as plumb lines that correct crooked yardsticks, that we may therefore establish moral knowledge and that such knowledge is pivotal to sound, sustainable community and government. Where, manifestly moral soundness is under grave threat today, across our civilisation. Where, too, moral government is inseparable from truthful thought, right reason, prudence, justice and more. END

PS: I promote from below at 22, a cross-posted annotation of a clipped comment by H which underscores the force of the above:

[[KF, 98: >>H:

I note your remarks at 95:

I am certain that many of the positions ED, BB, and I have argued for in this thread, and in the Killing Babies thread, are held by many religious people, including Christians, as well as non-religious people of different sorts. The fact that I might have an opinion that might be held by a materialist doesn’t make me a materialist, any more than agreeing with a Christian position makes me a Christian.

You will note how frequently I have spoken to evolutionary materialistic scientism (with its institutional, deleterious dominance) [= “naturalism”] AND fellow travellers. The point, being, that when we face an ideological juggernaut — never mind its inherent self-falsification through self referential incoherence and the import of its implicit amorality — it distorts the institutional and policy space, strongly pulling people to “moderate” [= acceptable] positions.

Let me break this para and insert the Overton Window here, as clear context:

And where agit prop stunts, media amplification, media lyinchings and lawfare abound, there will be a tendency to undue dominance of the ideology. So, there will be a pattern where many who have varying views are pulled into orbit.

The further factor is that it is plain that the ideological dominance is leading our civilisation on a locked-in voyage of ruinous folly. Blind, ruinous folly.

That is background.

Let’s note on your worldview outline with ethical aspects, clipping and annotating particularly interesting points:

* I accept the reality of my mind as something separate from my body, and thus from the material world

[–>I add: implies, that the argument that a GIGO-limited, blindly mechanical and/or stochastic computational substrate cannot plausibly account for mind. “Mind,” being an aspect of soul that is frequently used as a stand-in.]


* I believe that my mind and my body are very entangled, constantly interacting with each other. [–> I add: mind/soul-body interface challenge]
* However, I do not know how my mind interfaces with my body, nor the details of how the two interact with and influence each other. I don’t believe anyone know these things.
* My philosophical speculation, which is nothing more than that, is that there is some unified oneness beyond the quantum level that gives rise to both mind and matter. [–> a unified root of reality, which also needs to reckon with diversity including moral diversity]
* I believe that my mind has rational capabilities, which includes the ability
*** to understand abstract concepts,
*** to embody those concepts in verbal and written symbols that can be shared with others, and can be used by me to increase my understanding via internal reflection
*** to manipulate those symbols logically
* I believe that my consciousness is just part of my mind, and that at one one time it is aware of just a small part of what is in my mind
* I believe that our mind has the ability to make freely determined choices,
*** although that ability is very entangled with our bodily self: learning how to exercise the will is one of the primary tasks of being a human being, I think . . . .

My sense that I am obligated to live morally, and that there is a fundamental moral foundation, is just as real to me as my consciousness or my rationality. [–> echoing, that the IS-OUGHT gap must be bridged at world-root] It seems to me that that foundation starts with some basic principles about how to treat our fellow human beings:

* Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor.” That’s a good place to start. [–> but who is my neighbour and why must s/he be viewed as of equal moral worth?]
* Be compassionate to all. My yoga teacher ends each class with a precept from the Eastern religions, “Bow the head to the heart, and surrender the ego to compassion”. [–> a pointer to pantheistic/ panentheistic influences and the new age movement]
* All human beings are created equal, and have an inherent human worth. This is a foundational principle of our country
* Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule, and the basic social contract

Principles such as these are where morality start. [–> nope, we are not at the root of reality, we cannot ground morality, though we have in us a witness, conscience, which even regulates our reasoning] Applying them to everyday situations, from the momentous to the mundane, is where we have to apply our rationality. [–> which is itself inescapably morally governed] Yes we draw on our culture, and as we become educated we draw on the spiritual wisdom of the ages. We also have to draw on our ability to gather facts, think logically about consequences, and ultimately we have to make [–> morally governed] choices, because moral situations often present us with conflicting perspectives. [–> thus we have to weigh relative values and must regulate the weights we apply, hence the Golden Rule]

But some fundamental moral principles underlie it all.

Now, where do there underlying principles lie, and from whence do they come.

I don’t know.

[–> there is on the table a discussion on inference to best, worldview-level explanation, with open invitation to provide an alternative on comparative difficulties; it is asserted that there is but one serious candidate, you have just implicitly conceded that you cannot supply another]

I know that some of you see this uncertainty on my part in a negative light, but I am confident and comfortable with the idea that it is important to know what I know and what I don’t know.

[–> Or is it, given a known alternative on the table, in the context of being the only serious, successful candidate, that there is implicit refusal to admit that? Let’s summarise: from our thought life on up, we are inescapably morally governed, as witnessed by conscience and known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice, neighbourliness etc. Likewise, it is self evidently wrong and wicked to kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault and murder a young child for one’s pleasure. These and many other considerations in today’s age force us to ponder whether moral government and knowledge are delusional, artifacts of the evolved brain or some other kind of delusion. But if that is so, our whole inner life would fall under the taint, grand delusion. We are forced to accept that we are morally governed so that the IS-OUGHT gap must be bridged at world-root. This requires a being independent of others for its existence and moral framework, being also inherently good and causally adequate to account for a world involving us as morally governed creatures. There being (after many centuries of debate) just one serious candidate. If you doubt, just provide an alternative: _____ and address comparative difficulties: _______ . The candidate to beat: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature. That is, ethical theism, being here prior to any particular philosophical or religious tradition or teacher.]

But here is my speculation:

Whatever source gives rise to my mind (I mentioned an underlying oneness that is the source of both mind and matter) also gives me this fundamental moral foundation in the same way that it gives me the ability to use logic to manipulate concepts.[–> in short, we are made in God’s image, reasonable and responsible, though that word is avoided] In this view, all human beings have the same very basic foundation to draw on: one of love, compassion, and care for other human beings as fundamentally all the same in worth.

[–> All men are created equal, are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights . . . to secure such rights Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed]

These principles are part of my core being, as well as everyone else’s –> conscience as witness and regulator of reason], and once mine, they grow with me as I develop from childhood to adulthood.

Some people believe that this moral core is somehow in contact with some external source of morality: for instance, ba thinks it comes from God. [–> you have so far studiously avoided the ethical theism challenge that was repeatedly put on the table]

I don’t experience morality that way. [–> denial that conscience holds us accountable to law and duties, bearing witness to something beyond figments of our fever-dreams] I don’t feel my mind is in contact with any larger mind. [–> the issue is not active relationship with God, but the implications of inescapable moral government and the is-ought gap] The moral foundation is in me, and it’s my job to draw on it in the best way I can. One way to look at it (this is an anthropomorphic metaphor) is that once given the moral foundation, the rationality to assess moral situations in the world, and the ability to choose my actions, the giver goes away.[–> a somewhat deistic suggestion] It’s up to me as a human being to make use of these gifts.

Note: this moral foundation goes beyond culture. [–> is transcendent] I do not believe, as Barry said in his OP, that ““good” means what the people of a society collectively deem to be good.” [–> rejects cultural relativism, but that then extends to the society of one, subjectivism; we are not adequate in ourselves to ground moral government] I believe in conscientious objection. I believe we have a civic duty to question accepted morals and other norms when our conscience and rationality [–> which is morally regulated] deem that appropriate.

I of course find in this some interesting intersections with my current OP on ethical aspects of logic and first principles of right reason.

It is also significant to see how the pivotal challenge, to bridge the IS-OUGHT gap at the only place this is feasible — on pain of ungrounded ought — is side-stepped. Namely, the world root.

In short, we see yet again how sound the observation is, that after centuries of debates, there is just one serious candidate. One, that is obviously hard to swallow in today’s ideological climate.]]

22 Replies to “Logic and First Principles, 10: Knowable Moral Truth and Moral Government vs. Nihilistic Manipulation

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Logic and First Principles, 10: Knowable Moral Truth and Moral Government vs. Nihilistic Manipulation

  2. 2
    PaoloV says:

    Another insightful part of this good series “Logic and First Principles”.

  3. 3
    ScuzzaMan says:

    … that we may therefore establish moral knowledge and that such knowledge is pivotal to sound, sustainable community and government. Where, manifestly moral soundness is under grave threat today, across our civilisation.

    It is, of course, merely a coincidence that the civilisation itself is also under grave threat.

    Correlation is not Causation!, one hears the unbelievers cry.

  4. 4
    vmahuna says:

    Again, you’re assuming that Western culture is shared by ALL other cultures, and that terms like “moral” have had the same meaning for all time. I’m sure the Mongols believed deep in their hearts that whoever they were massacring and whichever city they were burning today was good and right and the way life was intended to be lived by upright and responsible people. But we know from accounts from survivors of the period that the folks being whupped on didn’t think it was right and proper that the Mongols come out of nowhere and whup on folks. And when Cromwell brought his Protestant army, which was of course HIGHLY moral by their own standards, to Ireland, they killed Irish for being Irish who were living on their own island on which no one except Irish had ever lived. (Ireland still has the highest concentration of NON-Indo-European [aka Aryan] DNA anywhere in Europe meaning that they are a VERY old folk.)

    So I don’t get why you keep insisting that some version of Christian morality is INHERENT in humans. Morality is a CULTURAL thing. And Cultures differ around the world and change over time. For example, only a few centuries ago, Japanese sword-makers tested each new blade by lopping off the head of a random peasant. Ya wanted a good clean cut that took the head off with 1 stroke. Someplace along the line, perhaps because of contact with European culture, the Japanese decided (i.e., CHANGED what was “moral”) that killing peasants as part of a product testing program was naughty, and since then samurai swords are tested against a bundle of straw.

  5. 5
    vividbleau says:

    VM
    “. Morality is a CULTURAL thing”
    You mean like that Nazi culture thing?

    Vivid.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    VM,

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I first suggest . . . let me add: that it is plain that you set out to correct my argument by asserting that morality is culture-bound (thus utterly relativised). However, to do so, you implicitly appeal to a general, known duty to truth, right reason, prudence, fairness etc. Which is of course where I began above. This set of laws of our nature is inextricably intertwined with our thought life so if they are delusional, such would reduce that thought life to grand delusion. To absurdity, hence we find that it is inescapable that we are indeed duty-bound to truth, right reason etc. Which, presents us with the need to bridge and fuse IS and OUGHT, only possible at world root level. Thus, a good part of the case in the OP.

    Okay, my original first suggestion is: that the Mongols indulged themselves in conquest, unprovoked and notoriously murderous expansionism to get their way by force. Where, the report of the proportion of population descended from Genghis Khan implies that rape was also a significant component. The nihilism involved is its own condemnation.

    The long, sad history of Ireland simply underscores that historically, unaccountable power elites have lived by conquest.

    IIRC, Japan’s swordsmiths did indeed try out new swords on victims, but the sources I saw pointed to criminals rather than random passersby; which would have branded the smiths as criminals or would have provoked feuds. And if there were peasants viewed as having no rights, that would reflect imposed nihilism in the culture, with its patent absurdities. I suspect, that all along, straw bundles would have been a standard test, not just a western imposition. While a barbarous practice was indubitably present, the context again points to the acknowledged presence of moral government.

    At no point in the OP have I appealed to specifically Christian morality, instead I have pointed to far broader issues, starting with how our very thought life is inescapably morally governed by duties to the truth, right reason, prudence and more. This points to an inherent, intelligible law of our nature, natural law which then serves as a plumb line test that allows us to frame moral knowledge. I drew out several points of reference that show key insights and addressed the issue that to properly exert a claim to a right one must be manifestly in the right. The linked IS-OUGHT gap points to the need for a world-root level IS adequate to ground OUGHT. Which does point to ethical theism — a philosophical view antecedent to religious traditions — as the candidate to beat.

    You have consistently sought to culturally relativise moral considerations.

    Do you recognise that this directly implies that the would-be reformer is always wrong, as such challenge the existing order which by such definition defines what ought to be? That then points to nihilistic might and manipulation as the forces of change. Absurdity again.

    What I would suggest, is that Roman-Helenistic civilisation was first challenged by the 10% of Jews, leading to many proselytes and to many more God-fearers. The interaction of Mosaic thought and the Stoics drew out many parallels, reflecting that there is indeed an inner moral law stamped in our hearts. Then, the transformative gospel broke loose, leading to that mixed blessing, Christendom. Civilisational collapse and ferment led to the rise of modern Europe and to reformation fed by mass literacy (which was rooted in religious motives). The opportunity for wider participation led to many reform movements.

    And today, as backs turn to the gospel, the reform impulse is being twisted into distorted and ultimately suicidal forms.

    KF

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me add two clips:

    Clarke and Rakestraw:

    Principles are broad general guidelines that all persons ought to follow. Morality is the dimension of life related to right conduct. It includes virtuous character and honorable intentions as well as the decisions and actions that grow out of them. Ethics on the other hand, is the [philosophical and theological] study of morality . . . [that is,] a higher order discipline that examines moral living in all its facets . . . . on three levels. The first level, descriptive ethics, simply portrays moral actions or virtues. A second level, normative ethics (also called prescriptive ethics), examines the first level, evaluating actions or virtues as morally right or wrong. A third level, metaethics, analyses the second . . . It clarifies the meaning of ethical terms and assesses the principles of ethical argument . . . . Some think, without reflecting on it, that . . . what people actually do is the standard of what is morally right . . . [But, what] actually happens and what ought to happen are quite different . . . . A half century ago, defenders of positivism routinely argued that descriptive statements are meaningful, but prescriptive statements (including all moral claims) are meaningless . . . In other words, ethical claims give no information about the world; they only reveal something about the emotions of the speaker . . . . Yet ethical statements do seem to say something about the realities to which they point. “That’s unfair!” encourages us to attend to circumstances, events, actions, or relationships in the world. We look for a certain quality in the world (not just the speaker’s mind) that we could properly call unfair . . . .

    Many people today think relativistically. “We live in a pluralistic society,” they say, apparently thinking this proves normative ethical relativism [that is, the theory that contradictory ethical beliefs may both be right, as such beliefs are viewed as only relative to the culture, situation, or individual: perception and feeling, not objective reality]. Others hold that . . . it is necessary to a tolerant society. Absolutists, they argue, encourage intolerance of other views, and this erodes social harmony. Tolerance in society is a benefit produced when people adopt relativism.

    Is this inference right? Philosopher J. P. Moreland . . . [argues that] Relativism is true descriptively, but consistently holding to both normative and metaethical relativism is difficult. [That is, it tends to fall into logical inconsistency: arguing that all people ought to become relativists!] Further . . . [true] tolerance is entirely consistent with absolutism. Those who defend tolerance hold that everyone ought to practice tolerance!
    [Readings in Christian Ethics, Vol. 1: Theory and Method. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002), pp. 18 – 19]

    And Arthur Holmes:

    However we may define the good, however well we may calculate consequences, to whatever extent we may or may not desire certain consequences, none of this of itself implies any obligation of command. That something is or will be does not imply that we ought to seek it. We can never derive an “ought” from a premised “is” unless the ought is somehow already contained in the premise . . . .

    R. M. Hare . . . raises the same point. Most theories, he argues, simply fail to account for the ought that commands us: subjectivism reduces imperatives to statements about subjective states, egoism and utilitarianism reduce them to statements about consequences, emotivism simply rejects them because they are not empirically verifiable, and determinism reduces them to causes rather than commands . . . .

    Elizabeth Anscombe’s point is well made. We have a problem introducing the ought into ethics unless, as she argues, we are morally obligated by law – not a socially imposed law, ultimately, but divine law . . . . This is precisely the problem with modern ethical theory in the West . . . it has lost the binding force of divine commandments . . . . If we admit that we all equally have the right to be treated as persons, then it follows that we have the duty to respect one another accordingly. Rights bring correlative duties: my rights . . . imply that you ought to respect these rights. [Ethics, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1984), p. 81.]

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Vivid, yes a relevant comparison that tests the cultural relativism thesis, exposing its failure in the face of a case of generally recognised evil. What we now need to do, is to broaden and deepen the insight, probing why there is general recognition that Hitler’s war and holocaust are clear cases of evil; that which was but which ought not to have been done; to the point that surviving leaders were tried — and having had the cultural relativism defence decisively rejected i/l/o universal known law of our nature — were gaoled or in some key cases were hung. KF

    PS: 42 volume series on the trials: https://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/NT_major-war-criminals.html

  9. 9
    harry says:

    Great stuff, as usual, KF.

    Now do an analysis of what it will take for the Christians to save civilization. May I suggest that we can begin with a thorough study of Cyprian’s Exhortation to Martyrdom? It can be found here:

    https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf05.iv.v.xi.i.html

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Harry, Christians will not save civilisation. In God’s grace, there may be an awakening at the brink in time to turn back, but awakenings generally are in the context of an ongoing reformation. The West is seeing apostasy not reformation. I suspect some very hard knocks lie ahead. KF

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    Where it has reached — Schaeffer and Koop warned:

    https://freebeacon.com/issues/northman-on-40-week-abortion-bill-infant-would-be-delivered-and-then-a-discussion-would-ensue-between-the-physicians-and-the-mother/

    Northam on Abortion Bill: Infant Could Be Delivered and Then ‘Physicians and the Mother’ Could Decide If It Lives

    Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D.) [a medical doctor] commented Wednesday about a controversial 40-week abortion bill and in so doing said the law allows an abortion to take place after the infant’s birth.

    “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Northam said, alluding to the physician and mother discussing whether the born infant should live or die . . .

    (On being challenged, he of course claimed this was out of context. A follow up cite through a representative is: “No woman seeks a third trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities, and the governor’s comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor. Attempts to extrapolate these comments otherwise is in bad faith and underscores exactly why the governor believes physicians and women, not legislators, should make these difficult and deeply personal medical decisions,”)

    The follow-up actually inadvertently underscores the point.

    The dominoes are falling.

    KF

  12. 12
    hazel says:

    Over on the Knock Me Over thread, kf, in repeating some of what he said here in the OP, wrote,

    Conscience is not an authority, it is a witness.

    As I outlined in the consciousness and mind discussion with Gpuccio a while back, I have a mind that is rational: I can use logic to think about and understand things, which I can represent as abstractions to myself and share with others through language, both verbal and written. I also have agency: I can choose, within limits, how to act and what to think.

    And, although we didn’t add this aspect in that conversation, I have a conscience about moral issues. The capacity to make moral judgments, and evaluative judgments in general, is a core part of who I am as a human being.

    My mind exists in conjunction with my body. I do not know how the mind interfaces with the body, nor how the mind and body interact to influence each other. This is one of the central mysteries for me: how to marshall my choices about what I want to do and navigate the more bodily pressures of my personality so as to exercise my will, including my moral judgments, in the best way possible.

    All of the above are things that I experience as real.

    Now to kf’s statement: I don’t experience my conscience as a “witness”. That is, I have no sense that my mind is contacting something outside my mind in making its moral choices. I take lots of things into consideration, including the moral wisdom of the ages and the values of my culture, but ultimately I choose, using both my will and my conscience.

    I think it’s accurate to say I “witness” the external world: I clearly am aware that I am receiving information about a world that exist outside of my mind. I don’t have any analogous sense that I am receiving information directly with my mind about moral matters. I do feel like I am receiving information about my own true moral nature, but that is in my mind, not outside of it.

    =======
    Now, to be more specific. In the OP kf offers two points in his list of “self evident truths”that I strongly agree with:

    Point 7: We have “a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”).”, and

    Point 8: We have a “reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.”

    These are bedrock principles of our culture, and in the first case, of our Declaration of Independence. I stand with them as moral truths that ought to be held and honored by everyone.

    However, not everyone does, and has. The first was certainly not widely held until three or four hundred years ago, nor is it universally accepted around the world today. The second, if interpreted as both a call to compassion for all and to the Golden Rule, has been central to many religions for centuries, but again, is not honored in many ways and places today.

    Why do I believe these principles to be moral truths? On the one hand they have been handed down to me by others, so I have learned about them through my shared interactions with the minds of other human beings, including many of whom are considered major moral figures: the founders of our country in the first case, or people like Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, etc. in the second.

    However, even though those cultural influences have been the source of the statements of the truths under discussion, they don’t become my truths until correlate with my own sense of a deep moral nature, and accept them with an affirmative, willful moral choice.

    As kf points out, if morals were just cultural, then reformation would be impossible. But conscientious objection to cultural morals is always an option: we have the right and ability to make a moral choice that goes against the widespread moral stands of our culture.
    ========
    Now to be even more specific:

    As I said, I accept and affirm the moral truths that kf listed in points 7 and 8 above.

    I know a number of homosexuals as relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Some I love dearly, and some are colleagues that I respect greatly and consider very good people, moral and otherwise. In general they are no different than any other cross-section of people I know.

    I think that they all would say that recognizing and acting on their sense of homosexuality has been central to their “pursuit of fulfillment of [their] sense of what [they] ought to be”, and I believe that we all should see them as having an “equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.”

    So I have a moral commitment to supporting homosexual people in having the same fulfillments from loving, sexual relationships with others of the same sex, including marriage,as those enjoyed by heterosexuals.

    I know others disagree with me about this, and in fact some see my view as repugnant.
    We both feel that we our expressing core moral values as expressions of our moral sense, conscience, and rationality. We can both present reasons, perhaps, why we feel as we do, and we can both appeal to what we consider universally valid principles.

    But there is nothing that one of us can do better than, or different than, the other in actually demonstrating a superior contact with, or knowledge of, what is “really right.” We are both witnesses to our own freely chosen moral judgments, but not to any common judgment on this issue that we can consensually “witness” in the sense of experience outside of ourselves.

    So, in conclusion, people who agree on our obligations as rational, moral, responsibly free creatures still have to consult their own internal conscience about specific situations, and can in fact disagree with others.

    If one truly believes that we have free will, and that we have a conscience, and that we have the rational ability to consider multiple factors, including the thoughts of others throughout the ages on moral matters, then I think one should accept that we need to stand as witnesses to ourselves on moral matters.

    Thanks to kf for his very instructive quote. While I know we disagree, it stimulated me to think about this aspect of my mind.

  13. 13
    john_a_designer says:

    How am I morally obligated to even respect someone else’s made-up moral opinion or group think?

    (I’ll comment further on Barry’s thread.)

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    H, I just now have to go back out to respond to an issue on parliamentary privilege, so I cannot respond in detail just now. I note, that no feeling or inner impression or voice stands on its own as warrant. This is why I spoke of conscience as a witness rather than an authority. The issue is not, that it is appealing to blind obedience to any particular authority, but rather that it points to the law of our nature, which as Cicero highlighted as the consensus voice of his time is >>highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” . . . They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones.>> Where, as I also pointed out, that voice of conscience is also inextricably intertwined with our reasoning process through the law of duty to truth, right reason, prudence, justice, etc. So, to appeal to reason does not escape or supersede the voice of conscience. Conscience bears witness, it is not itself the authority, and similarly, reason bears witness and serves — when properly directed — as advocate for that authority which we find in the true, the properly rational, the prudent, the just, etc. Where, suitably highlighted self-evident or even inescapable truths serve further as plumb lines which will correct our errors of benumbed or warped conscience or endarkened reason. More later, I have a client to go support. KF

  15. 15
    StephenB says:

    Hazel to KF

    I don’t experience my conscience as a “witness”. That is, I have no sense that my mind is contacting something outside my mind in making its moral choices. I take lots of things into consideration, including the moral wisdom of the ages and the values of my culture, but ultimately I choose, using both my will and my conscience.

    If KF says that “conscience is a witness,” he probably means that the subjective conscience bears witness to, and is informed by, the objective moral law. If there is such a thing as nature, and if there is such a thing as morality, then there can only be one morality proper to human nature. If there is no unchanging human nature, then there can be no universal morality — or morality of any kind.

    The unchanging morality of human nature is inseparable from the unchanging principles of right reason. Neither the facts of history nor the influence of cultural values can provide this kind of information; they can only report about what has happened or what is happening now. The moral question is about what ought to be happening.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, conscience is a part of our interior, conscious, self-aware, reflective life, which is by definition subjective. It bears witness to the law of our nature (however imperfectly, given seared, hardened consciences etc), that of responsibly and rationally significantly free, morally governed creatures. Conscience cannot be the source of such law, which is intrinsic to our nature. It obviously testifies to it. So, it is a witness. Where, of course someone like a Mao Zedong who seemingly had no compunctions about sending millions to their deaths shows how we can dull, harden and sear it into silence, but that induced silence has not made mass murder right, nor has it removed his responsibility for what he did. The duty is independent of the subjective sense, but in a properly functioning human being, conscience will testify to that duty. I here think of Irma Grese, a 22-year old young woman who was hanged for her crimes as an SS guard; crimes which were utterly monstrous. I also think by utter contrast of Sophie Scholl, one of the White Rose martyrs, judicially murdered at age 21 by guillotine by the Nazi state for helping to expose its monstrosities. Let us ponder these two young women and what made the difference between them. KF

  17. 17
    StephenB says:

    KF:

    Conscience cannot be the source of such law, which is intrinsic to our nature. It obviously testifies to it. So, it is a witness.

    Right. And the moral law to which conscience testifies is universal, natural, and *unchanging.* Only an unchanging moral law can provide guidance in changing moral circumstances. Subjectivists would be surprised to learn that the unchanging moral law is the only legitimate pathway to moral growth and moral sophistication in turbulent times.

    Example: One unchanging moral standard, “Thou Shalt Not Murder,” can also be understood at another level as Thou Shalt Not Murder relationships through cruelty of speech. Or again, another unchanging standard, “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Goods” can be understood at another level as Thou Shalt not be unhappy about someone else’s success.

    It is the unchanging truth of objective morality that sets us free to grow and develop as moral agents and productive citizens. The more moral growth we achieve, the greater is our contribution to humanity. Subjectivists are powerless to grow and contribute because they reject the moral standards that define moral improvement.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    H,

    Let me follow up on selected points that I think will be helpful:

    >> I have a mind that is rational: I can use logic to think about and understand things,>>

    1: Rationality is inseparable from responsibility under moral government, with conscience as a witness and compass. Note OP.

    2: In particular, the very act of arguing shows the implicit understanding of a common duty to truth, right reason, prudence, justice, etc.

    3: Thus, we come to Cicero’s summary on the highest reason that commends the good and forbids the bad; which in turn cannot be delusional, on pain of grand delusion. Thence, we see that at world root level, the IS and the OUGHT of thought, words, deeds etc must be bridged. That leads to the only serious candidate to do so.

    >> which I can represent as abstractions to myself and share with others through language, both verbal and written.>>

    4: Such abstractions rely on distinct identity of contrasting elements, thus the principle of distinct identity.

    5: They must also address the external world, through relationships of truthfulness or falsity, or there is a fatal disconnect. This brings up that we do not manufacture an interior world disconnected from constraints of duty to truthful connectedness to reality, duties to right reason and more. And, part of that matrix is that we live in communities such that we need to grasp adequate truth and logically sound analysis to operate reliably. Also, the issue of justice arises in respect of the other of equally morally governed nature.

    5: It has already been demonstrated that much follows on distinct identity, demonstrating the embedding of a broad range of structure and quantity in the world. I simply point to it at this point, including how say the exercise of cutting around loops of paper lets us directly experience how such structure and quantity is objectively present and discoverable rather than inventively imposed by us. Our axiomatic systems are accountable to a considerable body of embedded facts, or else they will become unreliable.

    6: In the sphere of moral government, moral truths exist, are accurate and in key cases warranted descriptions of moral reality [i.e. we have moral knowledge], are witnessed internally by conscience, can be communicated and argued, cannot be a mere delusion on pain of reducing our interior life to grand delusion, given the duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc.

    >> I also have agency: I can choose, within limits, how to act and what to think.>>

    7: That is, you acknowledge responsible, rational, significant freedom, which is under duty to choose towards truth, right reason, prudence, fairness etc.

    >>And, although we didn’t add this aspect in that conversation, I have a conscience about moral issues. The capacity to make moral judgments, and evaluative judgments in general, is a core part of who I am as a human being.>>

    8: Where, with deepest significance, moral government and associated judgements include those regarding duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc. Thus the moral and general cognitive domains of thought and judgement are inseparable, are inextricably entangled and intertwined in the finest degree in our functioning.

    9: This requires that the IS-OUGHT gap must be bridged in the only feasible place — on pain of ungrounded ought — the root of reality. Where, there is just one serious candidate.

    >>I don’t experience my conscience as a “witness”. That is, I have no sense that my mind is contacting something outside my mind in making its moral choices. >>

    10: Just a note: already addressed, e.g.:

    I note, that no feeling or inner impression or voice stands on its own as warrant. This is why I spoke of conscience as a witness rather than an authority. The issue is not, that it is appealing to blind obedience to any particular authority, but rather that it points to the law of our nature, which as Cicero highlighted as the consensus voice of his time is >>highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” . . . They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones.>> Where, as I also pointed out, that voice of conscience is also inextricably intertwined with our reasoning process through the law of duty to truth, right reason, prudence, justice, etc. So, to appeal to reason does not escape or supersede the voice of conscience. Conscience bears witness, it is not itself the authority, and similarly, reason bears witness and serves — when properly directed — as advocate for that authority which we find in the true, the properly rational, the prudent, the just, etc. Where, suitably highlighted self-evident or even inescapable truths serve further as plumb lines which will correct our errors of benumbed or warped conscience or endarkened reason.

    . . . and:

    conscience is a part of our interior, conscious, self-aware, reflective life, which is by definition subjective. It bears witness to the law of our nature (however imperfectly, given seared, hardened consciences etc), that of responsibly and rationally significantly free, morally governed creatures. Conscience cannot be the source of such law, which is intrinsic to our nature. It obviously testifies to it. So, it is a witness. Where, of course someone like a Mao Zedong who seemingly had no compunctions about sending millions to their deaths shows how we can dull, harden and sear it into silence, but that induced silence has not made mass murder right, nor has it removed his responsibility for what he did. The duty is independent of the subjective sense, but in a properly functioning human being, conscience will testify to that duty. I here think of Irma Grese, a 22-year old young woman who was hanged for her crimes as an SS guard; crimes which were utterly monstrous. I also think by utter contrast of Sophie Scholl, one of the White Rose martyrs, judicially murdered at age 21 by guillotine by the Nazi state for helping to expose its monstrosities. Let us ponder these two young women and what made the difference between them.

    >>The first [natural rights to life, liberty etc] was certainly not widely held until three or four hundred years ago, nor is it universally accepted around the world today.>>

    11: The general law on murder, kidnapping into slavery etc shows that your assumption is false. What has happened is that we have culturally embedded corruptions due to the hardness of men’s hearts (which had to be accommodated and ameliorated), where it then required widespread literacy [thus, invention of movable type printing and all that flows from it], moral education and softening of hearts through the imperative of gospel ethics

    [–> widespread access to the Bible in the vernacular, circulation of cheap books, bills, creation of regular newspapers and sufficient prosperity and leisure to ponder issues creating a public with a balance of credible opinions]

    to create the basis for democratically accountable self-government and civil rights movements to emerge.

    12: Of course, those with agendas then set out to capture and twist the concept of rights to their own end, resulting in new anomalies and oppression which are mounting up as we speak. The abortion holocaust being case study number one.

    13: It is no accident that in the USA, in NY and VA, infanticide under false colour of law, is now being pushed.

    >>The second, if interpreted as both a call to compassion for all and to the Golden Rule, has been central to many religions for centuries, but again, is not honored in many ways and places today.>>

    14: Is and ought are ever in tension, thus the call to change of attitude [metanoia] and reform.

    >>Why do I believe these principles to be moral truths? On the one hand they have been handed down to me by others, so I have learned about them through my shared interactions with the minds of other human beings, including many of whom are considered major moral figures: the founders of our country in the first case, or people like Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, etc. in the second.

    However, even though those cultural influences have been the source of the statements of the truths under discussion, they don’t become my truths until correlate with my own sense of a deep moral nature, and accept them with an affirmative, willful moral choice.>>

    15: Cultural presence and teachings are, again, witnesses (which are potentially flawed) they are not certain authorities, nor is our personal exercise of reason the authoritative source and judge. Indeed, reason itself is under moral government of duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc.

    16: All of these, point to the roots of reality as the only feasible place where IS and OUGHT may be bridged.

    17: The “my truth(s)” phrase is a common buzz-word but is fallacious. Truth lies in that abstract relationship, accurate description of reality, as such it may be acknowledged by us, it is not our invention.

    >>if morals were just cultural, then reformation would be impossible. But conscientious objection to cultural morals is always an option: we have the right and ability to make a moral choice that goes against the widespread moral stands of our culture.>>

    18: If morals were culturally relative or merely subjective, then the would-be reformer would be automatically in the wrong and/or a nihilist trying to impose his or her will by might and manipulation. Reform is only possible where moral truths are objective and are intelligible so that we may reason, warrant and apply them.

    20: In particular, the claim to a right — starting with life — is a claim to the binding duty of others to support, enable and respect under moral government. Accordingly, we may not legitimately claim a right that forces others to uphold or do the wrong. Therefore, our rights must be based on manifestly, demonstrably being in the right, or else we become nihilists imposing darkness and evil under false colour of being light and the good. Which BTW then leads to the agit-prop, media propaganda (fake news) and lawfare, cultural marxist agenda.

    21: In our civilisation today, the ongoing holocaust of 800+ million of our living posterity in the womb in 40+ years, mounting up at about 1 million more per week utterly indicts us. It also directly implies that our thinking, dominant messages, law, government, professions, education and much more are corrupt and untrustworthy.

    22: So, it is unsurprising that the second Schaeffer-Koop domino is falling as we speak: abortion, then infanticide then euthanasia and mass killing of the targetted.

    >>I know a number of homosexuals as relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Some I love dearly, and some are colleagues that I respect greatly and consider very good people, moral and otherwise.>>

    23: It is time for hard truth, which will admittedly be painful personally and inter-personally. The truth in a time of untruth, does not lead to smooth relationships — [false] “peace.” A sword separates, based on responsiveness to truth, especially regarding moral government under our Creator who is the Truth himself. This then brings us to a key observation coming from one who survived the Gulags: the line between good and evil, passes not between classes and nations but right through the individual human heart. (Solzhenitsyn.)

    24: That we are morally governed implies that we face an is-ought gap in our lives, communities and civilisation. Reform is always a personal and interpersonal challenge. One man’s reformation will always be another man’s resented rebuke. And when entrenched interests and financial/economic or ideological agendas, advantages or influences are in the mix, the struggle will be awful.

    >>In general they are no different than any other cross-section of people I know.>>

    25: As in, we are all finite, fallible, morally struggling, too often blinded or ill-willed. (Thus, the need for moral plumb line truths that check the tendency to impose crooked yardsticks as false standards for truth, right, right reason, justice, rights etc. Where, what is genuinely such will never meet the false test of conformity to crookedness. Hence, the agit prop strategist’s highest goal: to impose crooked yardsticks that lock in his agenda and lock out what is true, right, just etc. Ask the ghosts of over 100 million victims since 1914 – 1918.)

    26: In which case, however painful, the witness of moral truths and the principle that rights claims specifically require being in the right comes to the fore, including on matters of sex, family life, child nurture, personal identity and the long term sustainability of a viable civilisation.

    >>I think that they all would say that recognizing and acting on their sense of homosexuality has been central to their “pursuit of fulfillment of [their] sense of what [they] ought to be”>>

    27: The fact is, from our X and Y chromosomes on up, we are stamped as male or female, with very specific reproductive implications. Blending in the requisites of child nurture and support and we see why conjugal marriage between man and woman exists antecedent to organised city-based society [i.e. civilisation in its proper sense] and is supported in sound civil law. (The linked is a major paper.)

    28: That which undermines this framework is inherently antithetical to human thriving in community. As, we see from the spreading blights across our civilisation: promiscuity, the porn-perversion agenda, adultery and divorce (there is even a lifestyle of adultery and consensual cuckolding), the abortion holocaust, twisting of understanding of maleness and femaleness, social imposition of all of these under false colour of law and rights. (The recent clashes over sex-specific bathrooms which allow women to be freely present in community life, speaks volumes, given that there is a normal strength difference between men and women and the incidence of predatory men.)

    29: Moreover, in the case of homosexual behaviours, the actual evidence undermines the “my genes made me do it” thesis, which of course goes largely unreported in the major media etc. The evidence is, patterns of behaviour on balance have more to do with culturally available patterns, life experience and resulting habituations. Indeed, it is clear that heterosexual behaviour is also culturally conditioned and shaped by life experience and resulting habituations — we really are morally governed creatures. Where, it is also clear that insanitary, disease-prone abuse of organs of elimination are a clear public health hazard. Hence, the notorious patient zero phenomenon.

    30: So, no, it is fallacious to suggest that unnatural behaviours and habits which — increasingly, demonstrably — undermine the family fabric of sound society and demand rights that cannot be demonstrated to be in the right are natural and the pursuit of one’s purpose as a human being. Every cell in our bodies (rare genetic defects notwithstanding) speaks to the contrary.

    31: So, we are back to a telling warning:

    Isa 5:20 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who call evil good, and good evil;
    Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
    Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

    21 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are wise in their own eyes
    And clever and shrewd in their own sight! [AMP]

    32: A clear manifestation of the consequences is that we already have the worst holocaust in history entrenched under false colour of law, with associated bloodguilt tainting everything. Beyond a certain limit, where every remonstrance, every attempted reform is suppressed, disaffection of a critical mass of ordinary people who only wish to live under just law will set in, fatally undermining the bonds of civilisation. That is how civilisations corrode from within and lose their ability to stand in the face of ever present entropic forces, then collapse.

    33: Yes, our civilisation is increasingly suicidal, and trends with sexuality, respect for life and more are glaring red warning lights. But when a voyage of folly has set in, it is very hard indeed to return the ship of state to sound navigation.

    KF

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me pick up further:

    >> there is nothing that one of us can do better than, or different than, the other in actually demonstrating a superior contact with, or knowledge of, what is “really right.”>>

    31: This is the essential core of subjectivism, to dismiss objectivity of moral knowledge, even, its possibility.

    32: This then leaves only appeal to might and manipulation to shift perceptions or feelings, the credo of the nihilist, which we can take to be immediately absurd thus false. For simple example, reformers such as Jesus were not automatically wrong for seeking to correct and purify the predominant views of the day.

    33: So, contrary to what is asserted (and providing less loaded, more conventional language), we may properly hold by rejecting the absurd:

    [by using plumb line test cases such as the inescapable moral government of our reasoning and the patent evil of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering a young child for one’s pleasure, then tracing to world-roots, we may] actually demonstrat[e] ing a superior contact with, or knowledge of, what is “really right.

    34: Thus, there is no forced resort to subjectivism, relativism and lurking nihilism.

    >> We are both witnesses to our own freely chosen moral judgments,>>

    35: We are instead witnesses that our thoughts, deeds, words are subject to judgement in regard to known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc. Indeed, in presenting an argument, you directly imply that such an appeal is valid.

    >> but not to any common judgment on this issue that we can consensually “witness” in the sense of experience outside of ourselves.>>

    36: The obvious first case is the in common moral government of our inner life, on the duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc you have implied.

    37: And in a context where on structure and quantity manifest in a 12-segment rope or in a triangle standing on the diameter of a semicircle with third vertex on its arc, or the paper demonstration of Mobius strips demonstrate how such can be in common in the world independent of our thinking, and that of your setting such aside, I suggest that this last clipped remark is ideologically imposed rather than objectively warranted.

    38: Where, given immediate context, I note that imposing a radically different thing under false colour of law and taking hostage the word “marriage” has no more power to change the realities implicit in our X and Y chromosomes and reproductive biology as well as requisites of sound child nurture than we have power to change the order of colours in a rainbow. Word magic bewitchment under false colour of law, fails. (We would be well advised to read the linked paper and book just above in my main response.)

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: A home school lesson, with pictures: http://www.navigatingbyjoy.com.....tted-rope/

    –> As in, the Egyptian rope trick in action. (Don’t argue that we imagine the rope or how its geometry plays out. We can directly see structural and quantitative relationships embedded in the world here. Notice, the version made from square lego bricks.)

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: As is fairly commonly seen, a response to an OP or comment may come up in a different discussion thread. Accordingly, I take liberty to cross post an annotated clip from BA’s “junk science” thread:

    ___________

    KF, 98: >>H:

    I note your remarks at 95:

    I am certain that many of the positions ED, BB, and I have argued for in this thread, and in the Killing Babies thread, are held by many religious people, including Christians, as well as non-religious people of different sorts. The fact that I might have an opinion that might be held by a materialist doesn’t make me a materialist, any more than agreeing with a Christian position makes me a Christian.

    You will note how frequently I have spoken to evolutionary materialistic scientism (with its institutional, deleterious dominance) [= “naturalism”] AND fellow travellers. The point, being, that when we face an ideological juggernaut — never mind its inherent self-falsification through self referential incoherence and the import of its implicit amorality — it distorts the institutional and policy space, strongly pulling people to “moderate” [= acceptable] positions. And where agit prop stunts, media amplification, media lyinchings and lawfare abound, there will be a tendency to undue dominance of the ideology. So, there will be a pattern where many who have varying views are pulled into orbit.

    The further factor is that it is plain that the ideological dominance is leading our civilisation on a locked-in voyage of ruinous folly. Blind, ruinous folly.

    That is background.

    Let’s note on your worldview outline with ethical aspects, clipping and annotating particularly interesting points:

    * I accept the reality of my mind as something separate from my body, and thus from the material world
    * I believe that my mind and my body are very entangled, constantly interacting with each other.
    * However, I do not know how my mind interfaces with my body, nor the details of how the two interact with and influence each other. I don’t believe anyone know these things.
    * My philosophical speculation, which is nothing more than that, is that there is some unified oneness beyond the quantum level that gives rise to both mind and matter. [–> a unified root of reality, which also needs to reckon with diversity including moral diversity]
    * I believe that my mind has rational capabilities, which includes the ability
    *** to understand abstract concepts,
    *** to embody those concepts in verbal and written symbols that can be shared with others, and can be used by me to increase my understanding via internal reflection
    *** to manipulate those symbols logically
    * I believe that my consciousness is just part of my mind, and that at one one time it is aware of just a small part of what is in my mind
    * I believe that our mind has the ability to make freely determined choices,
    *** although that ability is very entangled with our bodily self: learning how to exercise the will is one of the primary tasks of being a human being, I think . . . .

    My sense that I am obligated to live morally, and that there is a fundamental moral foundation, is just as real to me as my consciousness or my rationality. [–> echoing, that the IS-OUGHT gap must be bridged at world-root] It seems to me that that foundation starts with some basic principles about how to treat our fellow human beings:

    * Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor.” That’s a good place to start. [–> but who is my neighbour and why must s/he be viewed as of equal moral worth?]
    * Be compassionate to all. My yoga teacher ends each class with a precept from the Eastern religions, “Bow the head to the heart, and surrender the ego to compassion”. [–> a pointer to pantheistic/ panentheistic influences and the new age movement]
    * All human beings are created equal, and have an inherent human worth. This is a foundational principle of our country
    * Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule, and the basic social contract

    Principles such as these are where morality start. [–> nope, we are not at the root of reality, we cannot ground morality, though we have in us a witness, conscience, which even regulates our reasoning] Applying them to everyday situations, from the momentous to the mundane, is where we have to apply our rationality. [–> which is itself inescapably morally governed] Yes we draw on our culture, and as we become educated we draw on the spiritual wisdom of the ages. We also have to draw on our ability to gather facts, think logically about consequences, and ultimately we have to make [–> morally governed] choices, because moral situations often present us with conflicting perspectives. [–> thus we have to weigh relative values and must regulate the weights we apply, hence the Golden Rule]

    But some fundamental moral principles underlie it all.

    Now, where do there underlying principles lie, and from whence do they come.

    I don’t know.

    [–> there is on the table a discussion on inference to best, worldview-level explanation, with open invitation to provide an alternative on comparative difficulties; it is asserted that there is but one serious candidate, you have just implicitly conceded that you cannot supply another]

    I know that some of you see this uncertainty on my part in a negative light, but I am confident and comfortable with the idea that it is important to know what I know and what I don’t know.

    [–> Or is it, given a known alternative on the table, in the context of being the only serious, successful candidate, that there is implicit refusal to admit that? Let’s summarise: from our thought life on up, we are inescapably morally governed, as witnessed by conscience and known duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice, neighbourliness etc. Likewise, it is self evidently wrong and wicked to kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault and murder a young child for one’s pleasure. These and many other considerations in today’s age force us to ponder whether moral government and knowledge are delusional, artifacts of the evolved brain or some other kind of delusion. But if that is so, our whole inner life would fall under the taint, grand delusion. We are forced to accept that we are morally governed so that the IS-OUGHT gap must be bridged at world-root. This requires a being independent of others for its existence and moral framework, being also inherently good and causally adequate to account for a world involving us as morally governed creatures. There being (after many centuries of debate) just one serious candidate. If you doubt, just provide an alternative: _____ and address comparative difficulties: _______ . The candidate to beat: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature. That is, ethical theism, being here prior to any particular philosophical or religious tradition or teacher.]

    But here is my speculation:

    Whatever source gives rise to my mind (I mentioned an underlying oneness that is the source of both mind and matter) also gives me this fundamental moral foundation in the same way that it gives me the ability to use logic to manipulate concepts.[–> in short, we are made in God’s image, reasonable and responsible, though that word is avoided] In this view, all human beings have the same very basic foundation to draw on: one of love, compassion, and care for other human beings as fundamentally all the same in worth.

    [–> All men are created equal, are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights . . . to secure such rights Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed]

    These principles are part of my core being, as well as everyone else’s –> conscience as witness and regulator of reason], and once mine, they grow with me as I develop from childhood to adulthood.

    Some people believe that this moral core is somehow in contact with some external source of morality: for instance, ba thinks it comes from God. [–> you have so far studiously avoided the ethical theism challenge that was repeatedly put on the table]

    I don’t experience morality that way. [–> denial that conscience holds us accountable to law and duties, bearing witness to something beyond figments of our fever-dreams] I don’t feel my mind is in contact with any larger mind. [–> the issue is not active relationship with God, but the implications of inescapable moral government and the is-ought gap] The moral foundation is in me, and it’s my job to draw on it in the best way I can. One way to look at it (this is an anthropomorphic metaphor) is that once given the moral foundation, the rationality to assess moral situations in the world, and the ability to choose my actions, the giver goes away.[–> a somewhat deistic suggestion] It’s up to me as a human being to make use of these gifts.

    Note: this moral foundation goes beyond culture. [–> is transcendent] I do not believe, as Barry said in his OP, that ““good” means what the people of a society collectively deem to be good.” [–> rejects cultural relativism, but that then extends to the society of one, subjectivism; we are not adequate in ourselves to ground moral government] I believe in conscientious objection. I believe we have a civic duty to question accepted morals and other norms when our conscience and rationality [–> which is morally regulated] deem that appropriate.

    I of course find in this some interesting intersections with my current OP on ethical aspects of logic and first principles of right reason.

    It is also significant to see how the pivotal challenge, to bridge the IS-OUGHT gap at the only place this is feasible — on pain of ungrounded ought — is side-stepped. Namely, the world root.

    In short, we see yet again how sound the observation is, that after centuries of debates, there is just one serious candidate. One, that is obviously hard to swallow in today’s ideological climate.

    Okay, as this is implicitly responsive to the parallel OP, I will cross post there.

    KF>>

    ___________

    Muy interesante, no.

    KF

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    kairosfocus says:

    NB: Also promoted to OP with addition of the Overton Window. Also, on minds and souls vs computational substrates.

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