evolutionary materialism's self-falsification Science, worldview issues/foundations and society Selective Hyperskepticism

Eric lets the amoral cat out of the bag: “It may be ‘so what’ to you (and me) that morality is ultimately subjective . . .”

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It is instructive to see this inadvertently revealing comment on a blog post by Jason Rosenhouse.

But first, let’s remind ourselves of a very important visually made point:

Of Lemmings, marches of folly and cliffs of self-falsifying absurdity . . .
Of Lemmings, marches of folly and cliffs of self-falsifying absurdity . . .

And now:

>>eric April 15, 2015

Of course, you can challenge my definition. You can say that it’s just a product of my own subjective judgment that it’s bad to harm sentient beings. But so what?

I have not read Arrington’s posts, but I would bet that he is exactly going after the subjective vs. objective distinction. There’s been a recent spate of philosophers and/or reasonably prominent atheists trying to propose an objective morality (without the need for a god). I would bet he is going after these ideas.

It may be “so what” to you (and me) that morality is ultimately subjective, but many people find that thought upsetting. Arrington is pushing on that discomfort to gain converts for theism. He’s proselytizing: design will give you laypeople back that foundation for objective morality you want so badly, so (this part is implied and rarely stated) therefore you should believe in design.>>

In short, we are right back to an indifferent shoulder-shrug to the longstanding (cf. Plato in The Laws Bk X, c 360 BC) implication of evolutionary materialism, that might and manipulation make ‘right.’ (So, it’s just a matter of who has more might and who is cleverer at manipulating the opinions — and, especially the emotions — of the sheeple who think that we are under objective moral government of OUGHT. Who actually imagine they have real unalienable rights, starting with life, liberty, conscience and the like.)

Which, should ring some very loud warning bells.

In answer to such cynicism, I draw to our attention, a warning and a hope at the foundation of modern liberty and democracy, as Locke cites Hooker in his 2nd treatise on Civil Government:

>>. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]>>

And again, Jefferson et al as they built on that foundation in the US DoI 1776:

>>We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness . . . >>

So, whose report do we believe — eric et al, or Locke, Hooker and Jefferson et al, why? And, where does this all point? END

116 Replies to “Eric lets the amoral cat out of the bag: “It may be ‘so what’ to you (and me) that morality is ultimately subjective . . .”

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    What is at stake.

  2. 2
    REC says:

    One of the more salient parts of his post (to me) is:

    “I can as easily challenge a theist’s subjective judgment that we have a reliable way of knowing God’s will, and that we should accede to that will even if we do. Any proposed standard of morality can be challenged by someone intent on denying it.”

    Did Jefferson know and follow God’s will? After all, he owned people. Who on the Supreme Court is more moral–those for or against universal marriage rights? Those for or against segregation or anti-miscegenation? What is this universal and penetrating moral standard?

    Where is the evidence that morality is objective?

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Rec,

    so predictable.

    Jefferson was a conscience-lashed, hopelessly indebted slave holder (who would thus have been financially trapped) who had the courage to speak the truth on morality.

    To the eternal gratitude of millions.

    And if you want to see just one step of how to discern the patently moral, start with Hooker as cited by Locke who riffs off Jesus, Moshe and Paul, with Aristotle in there too.

    Quite a band I’d say.

    Just for fun, let me cite the ever so despised Paul, as he builds on the Sermon on the Mount:

    Rom 13: 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    Now, tell me that such is ever so mysterious and hard to follow, starting with that he who would rob me of my livelihood for failing to be politically correct, would rob me and my family of our lives.

    The problem is not that what we ought to do is so hard to recognise, but that it is often challenging to live up to it.

    KF

  4. 4

    KF

    The problem is not that what we ought to do is so hard to recognise, but that it is often challenging to live up to it.

    QUOTE OF THE WEEK?

  5. 5
    REC says:

    Oh come now, KF, Jefferson as a pure enlightenment thinker wracked with guilt over slavery is a carefully crafted myth of his biographers. Most historians reject it. He bought and sold slaves, raped at least one, pursued runaways. He wrote on the inferiority of blacks, that they were suited to slavery, and that if freed, the races should stay separate.

    But this is besides the point.

    “The problem is not that what we ought to do is so hard to recognise, but that it is often challenging to live up to it.”

    Is a cute quote….for a fantasy world.

    Do you think every southern slaver who turned to the bible felt guilty for what he did? Do you think they thought the “Curse of Ham” was a lie?

    Did the supreme court justices who voted for or against segregation, anti-miscegenation laws or anti-gay marriage laws know they were in the wrong or right? You think some deliberately voted against their conscience?

    Do you think the murderers in Jamaican politics, including those responsible for the Eventide fire, told themselves “Hey, lets do some evil”, or did they think they were fighting for a greater good? A different political future for their people?

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    REC, are you looking to excuse your own behaviour? You really don’t have to point at other people to do that you know. You just do what you want and then say “so what” if someone else doesn’t like it.

  7. 7
    StephenB says:

    REC

    Did Jefferson know and follow God’s will? After all, he owned people.

    Insofar as he owned people, he did not follow God’s will.

    Who on the Supreme Court is more moral–those for or against universal marriage rights?

    Those who are against universal marriage rights.

    Those for or against segregation

    Those who are against segregation.

    or anti-miscegenation?

    Those who are against anti-miscegenation.

    What is this universal and penetrating moral standard?

    The inherent dignity of the human person as understood through the natural moral law.

    (Are these questions supposed to be hard?)

    Where is the evidence that morality is objective?

    The fact that you, yourself, recognize slavery as an objective evil. If you had not recognized it, it would not have occurred to you to use it against Jefferson.

  8. 8
    sean samis says:

    Why Theism does not presumptively provide “objective” morality.

    Although it is certainly possible for a theism to provide an “objective” morality, on the whole that is unlikely for the following reasons:

    1. If the deity’s existence is not objectively knowable, then the morality “it provides” cannot be objective. Subjective claims about the existence of a deity cannot result in an objective morality.
    2. If the morality in question can only be known through intermediaries (prophets, priests, popes, theologians, etc.) by way of their human accounts, translations, interpretations, scriptures, etc. then even an actually-objective morality cannot be objectively known because it has been subjected to human subjective “spinning”. Only a direct communication with a deity can provide objective access to an objective morality.
    3. If through direct communication a deity is known to have formed their morality by reason and logic comprehensible to humans, then the morality could be objective.
    4. If it is not directly known how the deity formed their morality, then the deity could merely be expressing their preferences, which are by definition subjective.
    5. Incomprehensible reasoning by the deity compels accepting their rules by trust, which is a preference. Such morality would be subjective.

    Only persons who have had direct communications with an actual deity have access to an objective morality; the rest of us do not. Teaching by such a blessed person constitute a subjective morality because we must accept their accounts on trust.

    For those who have had direct communications with a deity, the deity’s morality can only be objective if the deity has logically justified their moral claims, otherwise the deity expresses only a subjective preference. However, the decision to trust the deity’s logic is a subjective preference.

    Probably the distinction between objective and subjective is pointless; these terms differ principally in their degree of confidence which is either quantifiable by some standard metric (ex: P-value) or is itself only a preference.

    I am sure the above is not a complete list of the reasons that theism does not usually provide an “objective” morality. I am open to suggestions and criticisms, but on the basis of simple reason, there is no actually-objective morality known to any person who has not had direct communion with their deity who explained their moral reasoning. I have never had that kind of experience.

    sean s.

  9. 9
    REC says:

    REC: Who on the Supreme Court is more moral–those for or against universal marriage rights?

    StephenB: Those who are against universal marriage rights

    This is objectively demonstrable? Please proceed….

    Warning–I’m well prepared to demonstrate that every argument you make is paralleled in the slavery and segregation debate.

    “The inherent dignity of the human person” is a core humanist principle. Getting there is quite simple, and only requires empathy.

  10. 10
    StephenB says:

    “The problem is not that what we ought to do is so hard to recognise, but that it is often challenging to live up to it.”

    REC

    Is a cute quote….for a fantasy world.

    On the contrary. Living a moral life is much harder than simply knowing about it or talking about it. I know that I should love my enemies, but it is ofter very hard to do.

  11. 11
    StephenB says:

    REC: Who on the Supreme Court is more moral–those for or against universal marriage rights?

    StephenB: Those who are against universal marriage rights

    REC

    This is objectively demonstrable? Please proceed….

    It is demonstrable that there is such a thing as human nature. It follows that if there is such a thing as human nature, then there is a morality proper to human nature, which is understood as the natural moral law. Any act which violates a person’s nature is immoral. Those who argue for universal marriage rights are arguing against the laws of nature.

    Warning–I’m well prepared to demonstrate that every argument you make is paralleled in the slavery and segregation debate.

    That will be harder to do than you think. First, you will have to explain why slavery and segregation are wrong. Why are they wrong?

    REC “The inherent dignity of the human person” is a core humanist principle.”

    The inherent dignity of the human person is a core humanist principle, but the inherent dignity of the human person as defined by the natural moral law is not.

    Getting there is quite simple, and only requires empathy.

    Do you have empathy for babies who are slaughtered in the womb in the name of “choice?” Or, is your empathy unguided by any principle other than your feelings and biases?

  12. 12
    REC says:

    StephenB—KF intended that as a proof of universal morality (failing to prevail, I suppose). As a personal motto, it is fine.

    Now, back to demonstrating the supreme court justices who voted in favor of universal marriage rights were objectively immoral……

  13. 13
    REC says:

    “It is demonstrable that there is such a thing as human nature.”

    Ok. Demonstrate it. Is it consistent and universal?

    One of the prime critiques of natural law theories is that people interpret nature and natural differently. You’re back to subjectivity in your first sentence.

    How do we infer what ‘natural’ traits are good and should be developed? If human males are naturally aggressive (gorillas), do we develop war as a good trait? If we are naturally poly amorous and bisexual (bonobos) do we develop those traits.

    So much of our being is shaped by environment.

    I think you’re using “natural law” as a substitute for “God given,” in the sense of Aristotle.

    Interestingly, as promised, both Martin Luther King, Jr. PhD, and racists invoked “natural law” regarding segregation.

  14. 14
    rhampton7 says:

    StephenB,

    Natural Law vis-a-vis universal marriage rights does not address intersex conditions, and as a separate argument, can be used to support polygamy. All of which is to say that even natural law is not provably objective nor comprehensive.

  15. 15
    sean samis says:

    Regarding # 11;

    It is demonstrable that there is such a thing as human nature.

    It is demonstrable that beyond basic biological needs; there is no such thing as a singular human nature that is identical in every person. Even the nature of those biological needs varies naturally.

    It follows that if there is such a thing as human nature, then there a morality proper to human nature, which is understood as the natural moral law.

    Since there is no singular human nature, then there can be no singular morality proper to all humans except that which governs conduct BETWEEN individuals (a public morality). There can be no singular morality proper to the private or consensual conduct of every person. One of the aspects of this “public morality” is the recognition of human rights an liberties.

    Any act which violates a person’s nature is immoral.

    Any act which violates a person’s RIGHTS is immoral. The right to determine the parameters of one’s nature is a right so long as it does not violate the rights of others.

    Those who argue for universal marriage rights are arguing against the laws of nature.

    Perhaps. But those who argue for the marital rights of same-sex couples are not arguing against any law of nature. Those who insist that all persons must conform to “standard” conduct argue against natural law.

    First, you will have to explain why slavery and segregation are wrong. Why are they wrong?

    Slavery and segregation are wrongs because they are non-consensual violations of the rights of the slave or the one segregated.

    sean s.

  16. 16
    Seversky says:

    As I read it, the Locke/Hooker quote is just another statement of the Golden Rule which does not require the assumption of any objective foundation for morality.

    The passage from the Declaration of Independence is asserting what are the natural rights of free people and that a government can only derive its legitimacy and authority from the free exercise of those rights. Again, it has nothing to do with an objective basis of morality.

  17. 17
    JimFit says:

    sean samis

    Christianity is about unconditional love. God created us out of unconditional love because God is Eternal and if you are eternal the only thing that can exist is unconditional love because that type of love is aimless while evil aims somewhere, how can an Eternal God aim somewhere when He doesn’t have an end? God cannot do evil because evil is pointless on Eternity. This grounds absolute morality on God’s Nature.

    Morality is also transcendent and steams from our transcendent consciousness, the golden law would apply even if we move outside earth or back in time, it would still be immoral etc to torture you even if we go to the moon, absolute morality cannot be grounded on materialism, we don’t say etc that if i kick you is bad because this rock is heavy or because its 9 o’clock. You seem to agree with the golden law

    Slavery and segregation are wrongs because they are non-consensual violations of the rights of the slave or the one segregated.

    There are of course some moral choices which are subjective etc it is immoral for a Muslim woman to walk publicly without her head covered but that doesn’t mean that all moral choices are equally subjective.

    The usual argument i take from the random cosmic accidents that nothingness spewed (atheists) is something like this

    “ISIS kills people for blasphemy and that makes murder subjectively evil for them”

    Well, that’s wrong, ISIS kills people for blasphemy because they know that killing someone is evil that’s why they don’t punish them by giving them free candies, they just think that blasphemy is equal evil with death.

  18. 18
    JimFit says:

    Seversky you self debunked yourself, you said

    As I read it, the Locke/Hooker quote is just another statement of the Golden Rule which does not require the assumption of any objective foundation for morality.

    The golden rule is transcendent, immaterial, spaceless and timeless, it would apply even if we move to another galaxy or back in time or in the future, since this rule is transcendent it is unchangeable and that makes it by definition objective, change happens only inside spacetime.

  19. 19
    StephenB says:

    “It is demonstrable that there is such a thing as human nature.”

    REC

    Ok. Demonstrate it. Is it consistent and universal?

    Humans are always born of other humans. They build households and form more complex communities by using their faculties of reason and imagination. If they are normal, they desire to be happy and pursue what they think is good for them. They desire to know truth, to be loved, and to live forever. This, among other things, is their nature. Human nature never changes.

    One of the prime critiques of natural law theories is that people interpret nature and natural differently. You’re back to subjectivity in your first sentence.

    The natural moral law is, by definition, objective by virtue of the fact that nature is objective.

    Can you name one fundamental aspect of human nature that has changed in all of history? Or, are you trying to argue that there is no such thing as human nature?

    How do we infer what ‘natural’ traits are good and should be developed? If human males are naturally aggressive (gorillas), do we develop war as a good trait? If we are naturally poly amorous and bisexual (bonobos) do we develop those traits.

    The natural tendency of a man to be aggressive is neither good nor bad. What matters is how it is used. According to reason and the natural moral law (the natural moral law is inextricably tied to reason), it is immoral to use aggressiveness for murder and moral to use aggressiveness for self defense. Without the natural moral law, we could not even make the distinction.

    So much of our being is shaped by environment.

    The very fact that we can make a distinction between man’s nature and man’s environment shows that there is such a thing as man’s nature.

    I think you’re using “natural law” as a substitute for “God given,” in the sense of Aristotle.

    It is one thing to recognize the existence of the natural moral law, which is epistemological, and quite another thing to explain how and where it is grounded (God), which is ontological. Reason tells us first that the natural moral law exists. From there, we can infer the existence of God. However, we need not accept the latter to recognize the former.

    Interestingly, as promised, both Martin Luther King, Jr. PhD, and racists invoked “natural law” regarding segregation.

    Recall the principle at stake. Reason, inherent human dignity, and the natural moral law are inseparable. Thus, anyone who claims that he is using the NML to argue on behalf of segregation, which violates inherent dignity, is contradicting himself. Natural law, properly understood, recognizes equality among races (not among sexual lifestyles).

  20. 20
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    There can be no singular morality proper to the private or consensual conduct of every person. One of the aspects of this “public morality” is the recognition of human rights an liberties.

    Public morality is nothing more than the outward expression of private morality. In any case, what is your basis for determining which public behaviors are moral and which public behaviors are immoral? What is your basis for saying that some rights are basic while others are not? Or are you saying that all claimed rights are basic rights?

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    it is obvious that there is a consistent pattern of implying that we are under government of OUGHT. This puts at the centre of all of the above the issue of grounding OUGHT in a foundational IS. It also forces us to face the implication of responsible freedom in accord with our nature.

    All of this already puts evolutionary materialism — which can provide no such grounds, indeed is credibly self referentially incoherent — in serious trouble.

    Per fair comment, it is self referentially incoherent and self-falsifying. Never mind the lab coats.

    I add, that the only serious candidate IS that grounds OUGHT is the inherently good creator God, a maximally great and necessary being worthy of serving by doing the good in accord with our nature.

    Further to sexual morality and the linked morality of family, it is patent that maleness and femaleness are complementary and that child nurture requires stability and complementarity in family life.

    Rooted in our nature.

    Evident from our nature.

    And so, I bring us back to Locke’s citation of Hooker with the onward reference to Aristotle:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    KF

    PS: BTW, I was not quoting anyone when I said that it is relatively easy to see what we ought to do, a lot harder to do it. I was simply reporting on my own moral experience and that of many others I have observed over the years. The issue, is to move ahead along the path of virtue.

  22. 22
    Querius says:

    StephenB @ 7 observed

    The fact that you, yourself, recognize slavery as an objective evil. If you had not recognized it, it would not have occurred to you to use it against Jefferson.

    Lol, nice. That’s a checkmate, friend!

    All of the huffing and puffing by moral relativists is groundless. If morality is determined by consensus, then the moral narrative is ultimately determined by force.

    Moral relativists can justify anything for “the greater good,” of which they consider themselves uniquely qualified to determine.

    However, their judge will ultimately be God, in front of whom they will one day appear in shame for their profound selfishness as they see their actions and motives in review.

    Sadly, it was their decision and their choice to separate themselves forever from God, who with love tried to save them.

    -Q

  23. 23
    Mung says:

    Why do those who deny any objective morality always insist that we conform to their [allegedly subjective] [a-]morality?

  24. 24
    REC says:

    “StephenB @ 7 observed

    The fact that you, yourself, recognize slavery as an objective evil. If you had not recognized it, it would not have occurred to you to use it against Jefferson.

    Lol, nice. That’s a checkmate, friend!”

    Seriously!?!

    The argument is that I think something is wrong, therefore it is objectively wrong? I can only think things that are objectively wrong are wrong?

    Silly. Counterpoints: not every slave owner thought they were doing wrong. Slavery persists in some societies today.

    I think denying universal marriage is wrong. You think depriving some people of their rights is ok.

    Should I go on?

    Do you need a dictionary definition of “objective”?

  25. 25
    REC says:

    “The natural moral law is, by definition, objective by virtue of the fact that nature is objective.”

    That is one way to finish the discussion. Declare X is objective by definition. It is also completely incoherent. If nature is objective, than every thing humans do and think (as part of nature) is objective. Same for all other animals. Even when contradictory, apparently.

    So which is the human male nature—the aggressive polygamous Gorilla, or the passive, polyamorous bisexual bonobo? Which of these relatives should we emulate?

    “Human nature” is subjective. Open to interpretation.

  26. 26
    REC says:

    “I add, that the only serious candidate IS that grounds OUGHT is the inherently good creator God, a maximally great and necessary being worthy of serving by doing the good in accord with our nature.”

    Jason Rosenhouse’s post deals with this quite nicely. Invoking God does not solve the problem of objective morality. “God’s Will” has been as deeply contested as, say “Human Nature.”

    As he says: “I can as easily challenge a theist’s subjective judgment that we have a reliable way of knowing God’s will, and that we should accede to that will even if we do. Any proposed standard of morality can be challenged by someone intent on denying it.”

  27. 27
    anthropic says:

    Hey, REC. One question, and one comment.

    Question: If morality by its nature is subjective, then would you deny me the right to own a slave based on nothing more than your disapproval? Why should your subjective opinion trump my own?

    Comment: Yale Law Prof Arthur Leff published a famous discussion of law without a lawgiver. Leff, an atheist, concludes that we really do know some things are objectively wrong, but without belief in God there is no ultimate grounding for morality. As he puts it, without “thus saith the Lord”, all human moral constructs (and laws) are vulnerable to the rejoinder, “Sez who?”

    Before going further, you might benefit by reading his remarkable essay, Unspeakable ethics, Unnatural Law here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/4531.....Law#scribd

  28. 28
    REC says:

    anthropic @27

    If I claim I objectively believe segregation is right, from God or from natural law or both, would your ‘objective’ interpretation trump mine**?

    My point is that ALL morality is subjective. Even if there is a God-given code, or natural law, your interpretation of those isn’t infallible. Society has to work it out–sometimes painfully slowly, with glaring contradictions (e.g. Jefferson and his world: ALL men are created…). Claiming your morality is transcendent and objective doesn’t help. History bears witness to this point.

    Do you think Jerry Fallwell or the Judges I cite below knew they were behaving wrong? Shouldn’t they have access to the same objective truths you know anthropic?

    I’m familiar with Leff. Curiously, only the religious right refers to him as an atheist, in their selective reading of his works.

    **e.g.: PA Supreme Court: “[t]he natural law which forbids [racial intermarriage] and that social amalgamation which leads to a corruption of races, is as clearly divine as that which imparted to [the races] different natures.”

    The lower court which upheld Loving v. Virginia cited the fact that God had put the races on separate continents as proof “that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

    Jerry Falwell: “”If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made,” … “The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.”

    “The true Negro does not want integration…. He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.” Falwell went on to announce that integration “will destroy our race eventually. In one northern city,” he warned, “a pastor friend of mine tells me that a couple of opposite race live next door to his church as man and wife.”

    http://wakeforestlawreview.com.....n-context/

    http://www.thenation.com/artic.....tolerance#

  29. 29
    anthropic says:

    Thanks for the reply, REC.

    If all morality is subjective, then of course you cannot tell me that my decision to discriminate against women, or enslave black people, is wrong. You can say you disapprove, but of course that means little to me, since I approve.

    Whether I am allowed to own slaves, then, is strictly a matter of votes — majority rules — or force — might makes right. Your will prevails, or mine. But neither side can claim the moral high ground, as the moral landscape is perfectly flat.

    Similarly, if ISIS kidnaps & rapes little girls, they are not guilty morally. You disapprove, they approve. If they have the numbers and the guns, they win. Again, the moral landscape is featureless and flat.

    Professor Leff’s essay brilliantly explained why this must be so if no ultimate God exists. He argues that this angst is inevitable, since modern people don’t believe in God. In the end, all he can do is list things that we KNOW are evil, yet admit that there is no basis for this evaluation.

    You are absolutely right that theists argue about how to interpret scriptures. However, there is broad agreement on certain things, such as the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule as explicated by Jesus, and other commands to help others in need, don’t take revenge in our hands, forgive those who sin against us just as we have been forgiven.

    The problem isn’t usually that we are ignorant of what God wants, it’s just that we don’t want to do it. Speaking personally, knowing that lust is wrong is different than never lusting; and knowing that hate is wrong is different than blessing the guy who just cut me off in traffic.

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    SB: The fact that you, yourself, recognize slavery as an objective evil. If you had not recognized it, it would not have occurred to you to use it against Jefferson.

    REC

    Seriously!?!

    Yes, seriously—and obviously.

    The argument is that I think something is wrong, therefore it is objectively wrong?

    No, the argument is that, in spite of your claims that “all morality is subjective,” you really do think that slavery is objectively wrong after all. You have just acknowledged the point again. You think slavery is objectively wrong.

    Silly. Counterpoints: not every slave owner thought they were doing wrong.

    Even Jefferson knew that slavery was wrong, and said so.

    I think denying universal marriage is wrong.

    Perhaps, but you can provide no rationale for thinking that denying universal marriage is wrong.

    You think depriving some people of their rights is ok.

    That is a very reckless statement and quite untrue. I believe everyone is entitled to basic human rights. The so-called right for one man to marry another man is not a basic human right.

    Do you need a dictionary definition of “objective”?

    No, but it seems evident that you do. First, you say that “all morality is subjective,” then you say that slavery is “wrong,” which means objectively wrong–as opposed to “wrong for you,” which is subjective.

  31. 31
    StephenB says:

    SB: “The natural moral law is, by definition, objective by virtue of the fact that nature is objective.”

    That is one way to finish the discussion. Declare X is objective by definition. It is also completely incoherent.

    If you don’t understand that nature is an objective reality outside of and independent of human perception, then I cannot help you.

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    the above exchanges underscore the point from the clip in the OP.

    Subjectivists in the end are appealing to the common moral sense that we are indeed governed by OUGHT (while refusing to acknowledge where it points), or else they are manipulating that sense, or else they are implying the sort of appeal to force that is either direct or implicit in the point that courts and parliaments are backed up by guns. That is, it is dangerous to be right when government goes wrong.

    Now, too, above, there was an attempt to dismiss the question of grounding OUGHT.

    We can take it sufficiently from above that even the most explicitly subjectivist or relativist among us do invariably imply that some things are wrong — ought not to be done. In so doing, they either end in amoral, might and manipulation makes right nihilism or else they acknowledge that we are under moral government in accordance with our nature (which implies what is good for us individually and — per our social nature — collectively).

    Manipulative or intimidating nihilism is its own self-referentially absurd refutation, we need not further debate such.

    We have excellent reason to accept the general testimony of humanity that we are under the government of OUGHT, manifest quite often in the testimony of conscience when not warped and readily discernible as Hooker pointed out in what was clipped from Hooker, who went on to highlight Aristotle.

    Let us refresh our memories again:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    But also, the issue of grounding of OUGHT arises, in light of the IS-OUGHT gap.

    That points onward to the valid part of Hume’s challenge, that the only place where OUGHT can be grounded is in the foundations of reality. That is, we require an IS that simultaneously, adequately grounds OUGHT.

    Actually, that is not strong enough.

    Given moral government, there must be an IS that simultaneously adequately grounds OUGHT.

    After centuries of debates, it is patent that there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being who is worthy of ultimate loyalty and reasonable service by doing the good evident from our common nature as his morally governed creatures.

    And so it is no surprise to see in this light the force of the 2nd paragraph of the 1776 US DoI, as it rises beyond Leff’s grand sez who to ground just government and respect for rights on the civil peace of justice under God who endows us with certain rights written into our nature. Consequently governments that fail to properly guard such genuine rights — we may properly dismiss manipulation, word twisting, law-wrenching and intimidation as grounds for manufacturing novel “rights” out of thin air — are subject to reformation or in extreme cases abolition followed by reconstitution on a sounder footing.

    Let us refresh our memories by direct citation:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness . . .

    This is of course the charter and birth certificate of modern liberty and democracy.

    It is quite evident also that at the hands of radical activist relativists and subjectivists, there has been a steady erosion of the foundations and an increasing manipulation of law, courts and more to push agendas pivoting on interests grounded in amorality, nihilism, the inherently disordered, the economically and socially suicidal and just plain marches of folly.

    Such is not new, the tendency of democracies to be manipulated, fall under mob rule and worse has long been noted on, starting with the likes of an Alcibiades. What is new is the increasing undermining of rationality driven by lab coat clad evolutionary materialist ideology leading to confusion about the central importance of responsible freedom.

    So, modern democratic government in our civilisation faces the choice of reformation and renewal or else marching over the cliff into absurdity and the consequences of mass folly.

    And, it looks increasingly like the heirs of the Parthian horseback bowmen of old are getting ready to saddle up again.

    I think we would all profit from pondering the lessons of Ac 27: http://kairosfocus.blogspot.co.....-year.html

    Oh, there’s no real risk, a quick sail down the coast to Phoenix on a convenient south wind can take us all to a so much better port. Don’t mind the ravings of that prisoner in chains with his neurotic visions of disaster.

    Ah, yes, here comes the breeze we want now . . . let’s sail out.

    KF

  33. 33
    Mung says:

    StephenB:

    No, the argument is that, in spite of your claims that “all morality is subjective,” you really do think that slavery is objectively wrong after all. You have just acknowledged the point again. You think slavery is objectively wrong.

    Indeed. And REC thinks Jefferson should be judged according to his [REC’s] allegedly subjective view on the morality of slavery, even though Jefferson existed in a time far different from our own, and that we all should all agree with him.

    It just never ceases to amaze me.

  34. 34
    sean samis says:

    To JimFit and StephenB;

    JimFit @17:

    Christianity is about unconditional love. God created us…

    This is a theology which adds up to almost nothing that I can see.
    Q: does the term ‘love’ mean with regard to God essentially the same thing as it means with regards to humans? Is “God’s love” essentially the same as human love?

    Morality is also transcendent and steams from our transcendent consciousness, the golden law would apply even if we move outside earth or back in time, it would still be immoral etc to torture you even if we go to the moon, absolute morality cannot be grounded on materialism, we don’t say etc that if i kick you is bad because this rock is heavy or because its 9 o’clock. You seem to agree with the golden law

    I agree that what is moral or immoral is independent of place and time. I am not at all sure that any morality is ‘absolute’; the moral valence of any act can be conditioned by its context. That which is ‘torture’ in one scenario is ‘surgery’ in another.

    You do not understand materialism; I know of no materialist who’d agree that things are moral or immoral because of gravity or time. Materialistic morality needs only reason and the evidence of history, biology, and psychology.

    If you mean the Golden Rule when you say the “golden law” then yes, you are right. I embrace the Golden Rule. No deity (transcendent or otherwise) is needed for that.

    There are of course some moral choices which are subjective etc it is immoral for a Muslim woman to walk publicly without her head covered but that doesn’t mean that all moral choices are equally subjective.

    No. A Muslim woman may decide for herself that it is immoral for her to walk publicly without her head covered. A different Muslim woman might conclude that head covering has no moral significance. Both are valid moral choices.

    Your comments regarding ISIS (properly called Daesh imo) are somewhat muddled; I choose not to try to figure them out.

    StephenB @20:

    Public morality is nothing more than the outward expression of private morality.

    Not necessarily. But this is probably not an important point here.

    …what is your basis for determining which public behaviors are moral and which public behaviors are immoral?

    Public behaviors which cause an unjustified harm to others (including impairment of their liberties) are immoral. I’ve written about this in the past on this site, complete with a detailed explanation of what constitutes a “harm”. Here I give only a summary. If you need the whole thing, I can cut-and-paste with the best of them.

    What is your basis for saying that some rights are basic while others are not?

    I have not written anything in this thread about “basic rights”; I’m not even sure that’s a useful term. IMHO, rights are rights, and no right is absolute.

    sean s.

  35. 35
    Brent says:

    Sean Samis @8,

    1. If the deity’s existence is not objectively knowable, then the morality “it provides” cannot be objective. Subjective claims about the existence of a deity cannot result in an objective morality.

    You have this backwards. The point is not that some philosophers dreamed up a set of morals from a theory of an ultimate deity, but that since we feel objective morals pressing on us, they necessarily point us to God. You have to deny morality to deny God, and very, very few atheists have the guts to do that.

    If man and his whims are the source of the moral law, then man governs the moral law, and the moral law does not govern man. As such, speaking of subjective morality is only the outing of a gutless atheist.

  36. 36
    sean samis says:

    Brent @35:

    You have this backwards. The point is not that some philosophers dreamed up a set of morals from a theory of an ultimate deity, but that since we feel objective morals pressing on us, they necessarily point us to God.

    Brent, no. The press of morals on us does not necessarily point to a deity or any specific deity. The press of morals on us necessarily tells us that we need to understand their imperative.

    Certainly we don’t know that any morals are objective, and as my comments indicate, even belief in a deity cannot make one’s morals “objective”.

    You have an interesting theory, but I am not aware of any reason to give it credence.

    You have to deny morality to deny God, and very, very few atheists have the guts to do that.

    This is simply wrong. I don’t deny God, but I know that morality exists whether God does or not. Few atheists “deny morality” because there’s every reason not to.

    If man and his whims are the source of the moral law, then man governs the moral law, and the moral law does not govern man.

    Whims are not the source of moral law, but unless a deity speaks directly to you, humans govern moral law anyway. What I know of religiously based moral law has passed through the hands of innumerable humans, each smearing it with their own biases. I have never heard the voice of God.

    Moral law governs humans because we have needs that only it can provide; but again we don’t need a God to give morality to us, and believing in gods has not spared us from moral uncertainty.

    sean s.

  37. 37
    logically_speaking says:

    Sean Samis,

    “I embrace the Golden Rule. No deity (transcendent or otherwise) is needed for that”.

    Which makes the Golden Rule an objective moral standard IMO.

    “IMHO, rights are rights, and no right is absolute”.

    1. The right to life.
    2. The right to freedom.
    3. The right to property.
    And,
    4. The responsibility to protect these rights.

    Those seem pretty absolute to me, everything else is a privilege.

    A crime is committed if it violates any of those rights.

  38. 38
    StephenB says:

    SB: …what is your basis for determining which public behaviors are moral and which public behaviors are immoral?

    sean samis

    Public behaviors which cause an unjustified harm to others (including impairment of their liberties) are immoral. I’ve written about this in the past on this site, complete with a detailed explanation of what constitutes a “harm”. Here I give only a summary. If you need the whole thing, I can cut-and-paste with the best of them.

    You have given me no summary to evaluate. Meanwhile, I would like to know your standard for evaluating mental harm. Try this one:

    Am I harming a child if I send him to a government school which teaches him that homosexuality is normal and that he should be open to the experience even if his instincts go the opposite direction? Or, am I harming the chld if I educate him at home and tell him the truth, namely that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and violate the natural moral law.

    Define harm in that context. Which approach harms the child and why?

  39. 39
    sean samis says:

    logically_speaking @37

    I embrace the Golden Rule. No deity (transcendent or otherwise) is needed for that”.

    Which makes the Golden Rule an objective moral standard IMO.

    As I wrote earlier, the distinction between objective and subjective is probably pointless in this matter because these terms differ principally in their degree of confidence. I am highly confident that the GR is almost always true; I cannot at this moment even imagine a situation where it would not hold. Is the GR objective? Not necessarily; but it’s pretty close to that.

    The right to life … seems pretty absolute to me

    So when the police kill someone that’s a crime always? If it’s not, then the right to life is not absolute.

    The right to freedom

    So when they put someone in prison, that’s a crime always? If it’s not, then the right to freedom is not absolute.

    The right to property

    So if property is repossessed due to failure to pay debts, taxes, or because the property was used in a crime, that taking of property is a crime itself always?

    Or if the other guy won’t sell available property to you? That’s a crime always?

    You know where this is going… All rights have their reasonable bounds.

    The responsibility to protect these rights.

    This is not a right, so it’s a whole different topic. If this responsibility is absolute, then you MUST risk your life to help others. I’m sure there’s very little agreement on that.

    sean s.

  40. 40
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    I have not written anything in this thread about “basic rights”; I’m not even sure that’s a useful term. IMHO, rights are rights, and no right is absolute.

    Well, here is the thing. All rights are subject to a zero sum gain. To grant one person a right always means taking away a right from some other person. If you have the right of way at a four way stop, then I don’t have it. If I grant one person the right not to be offended or to receive a free college education, I automatically take away another person’s right to speak or retain part of his income. So, if you grant rights to everyone who demands one, you create chaos. It becomes a war of all against all. That is why there are very few “basic” political rights, such as the freedom to express one’s religious beliefs, to live, to speak, and to assemble. Only those rights that are necessary to preserve a well-ordered society are basic. There is no political or constitutional right for same sex marriage. No rational argument can be advanced to support the idea.

  41. 41
    sean samis says:

    StephenB @38:

    Am I harming a child if I send him to a government school which teaches him that homosexuality is normal and that he should be open to the experience even if his instincts go the opposite direction? Or, am I harming the chld if I educate him at home and tell him the truth, namely that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and violate the natural moral law.

    Define harm in that context. Which approach harms the child and why?

    This is silly. Both harm the child.

    Your example can be summarized as follows: given a school which teaches falsehoods and advocates particular life choices regardless of the child’s instincts, is there a harm to children who attend the school?

    Well Doh! Of course there is. In both situations, the probability is quite high of inflicting unjustified emotional harm so severe as to have physical manifestations.

    It does not matter if the school is run by the government or you.

    It does not matter if the school teaches that homosexuality is normal (it’s not uniquely so) or that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and violates natural law (those are false too).

    The truth is that homosexuality is within the normal range of human behaviors; some have instincts toward it, most do not. The child should be taught to examine their instincts, discuss them with trusted adults, and decide how to respond. Your question gives me the choice between two situations doing it wrongly. A pox on both of them.

    Your example is silly. Here’s a less silly example: a school that teaches children that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered, that it violates natural law, and that the children should avoid it even if their instincts go in its direction. This has been quite common until lately, and has literally driven children to suicide.

    @40:

    All rights are subject to a zero sum gain. To grant one person a right always means taking away a right from some other person.

    If I grant to all the right to equal protection under the law, or to religious liberty, from whom am I taking a right?

    if you grant rights to everyone who demands one, you create chaos.

    Good thing I haven’t, huh?!

    There is no political or constitutional right for same sex marriage. No rational argument can be advanced to support the idea.

    Sure there is. The principle of equality before the law extends the right to marry to all couples who are similarly situated. Different-sex couples, inter-racial couples, inter-faith couples, and same-sex couples need not be distinguished; all are equally entitled to the same marital rights. Protecting the marital rights of one kind of couple takes nothing away from the rights of the others or any other persons. Equal protection and religious liberty stand in support of this marital right for all the couples I mentioned.

    sean s.

  42. 42
    JimFit says:

    sean samis

    This is a theology which adds up to almost nothing that I can see.
    Q: does the term ‘love’ mean with regard to God essentially the same thing as it means with regards to humans? Is “God’s love” essentially the same as human love?

    No that’s not Theology, Eternity exists, Eternity is a fact and that the Universe is a Creation is a fact also and a physical creation needs a transcendent Creator since everything physical began to exist (that’s a fact also), which means that He must be Eternal (above spacetime). If you are Eternal you can’t do evil because evil is purposeless on Eternity. Evil cannot be aimless while unconditional love can be aimless that’s why God is all loving.

    We are the images of God not separated entities, that means that we too can love unconditionally each other just like God. I am not talking about love with rewards.

    I agree that what is moral or immoral is independent of place and time. I am not at all sure that any morality is ‘absolute’; the moral valence of any act can be conditioned by its context. That which is ‘torture’ in one scenario is ‘surgery’ in another.

    You do not understand materialism; I know of no materialist who’d agree that things are moral or immoral because of gravity or time. Materialistic morality needs only reason and the evidence of history, biology, and psychology.

    If you mean the Golden Rule when you say the “golden law” then yes, you are right. I embrace the Golden Rule. No deity (transcendent or otherwise) is needed for that.

    The Golden Rule is transcendent therefor it goes against Materialism which exists only inside spacetime. If you accept the Golden Rule you accept transcendence therefor you accept absolute morality since change exists only on Materialism. Transcendence is unchangeable, it isn’t affected by spacetime to change. The Golden Rule is delivered from your Consciousness which precedes Material reality not Material Reality (space,time,matter).

    Reason doesn’t equal Goodness, something evil can be reasonable. I don’t understand how History, Biology, and Psychology equal Goodness or drive morality.

  43. 43
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    The truth is that homosexuality is within the normal range of human behaviors; some have instincts toward it, most do not.

    Would it harm the child if he was taught that homosexuality is within the normal range when, in fact, it is not within the normal range? You have not defined normal. I say that 3% of the population is not normal. What is your definition of normal? Did you know that 4% of the population is sociopathic? Do you think sociopaths fall within the “normal” range?

  44. 44
    sean samis says:

    JimFit @42:

    …Eternity exists, Eternity is a fact and that the Universe is a Creation is a fact also and a physical creation needs a transcendent Creator since everything physical began to exist (that’s a fact also), which means that He must be Eternal (above spacetime). If you are Eternal you can’t do evil because evil is purposeless on Eternity. Evil cannot be aimless while unconditional love can be aimless that’s why God is all loving.

    That the universe exists is a fact. That something happened to create it (“the Big Bang”) is only certain because there’s evidence of it. It is not logically necessary. The rest of your claims are only opinions. Perhaps your claims are right, but you’re not doing a good job of making them sensible to me. That may be my fault, but that’s how it is.

    I am not talking about love with rewards.

    Unfortunately, it’s not clear to me what you ARE talking about. It looks to me that you are using the word ‘love’ with a substantially different meaning than the English word ‘love’. Even in English, love is not about rewards, it’s about conduct and feelings toward another.

    Is God’s love similar enough to human love that a person could have expectations about God’s behavior based on what it means to love someone?

    The Golden Rule is transcendent therefor it goes against Materialism which exists only inside spacetime. If you accept the Golden Rule you accept transcendence therefor you accept absolute morality since change exists only on Materialism. Transcendence is unchangeable, it isn’t affected by spacetime to change. The Golden Rule is delivered from your Consciousness which precedes Material reality not Material Reality (space,time,matter).

    Nope, Nope, and Nope. I accept the Golden rule. I don’t accept any of this transcendence stuff because there’s no good reason to that I can see.

    Reason doesn’t equal Goodness, something evil can be reasonable. I don’t understand how History, Biology, and Psychology equal Goodness or drive morality.

    Never said anything about reason, history, biology, or psychology equaling Goodness. I’m not even sure what that means.

    sean s.

  45. 45
    JimFit says:

    sean samis

    It is not logically necessary. The rest of your claims are only opinions. Perhaps your claims are right, but you’re not doing a good job of making them sensible to me. That may be my fault, but that’s how it is.

    Definition of creation
    noun cre·a·tion

    : the act of making or producing something that did not exist before : the act of creating something

    Since everything physical have a beginning then the Universe didn’t existed prior to its existence, that makes it by definition a creation tha happen due to an act and an act demands a Consciousness, this Cosmic Consciousness is what we call God. Since a transcendent Creator exists then He is Eternal, He isn’t bound from time, He exists eternally.

    Unfortunately, it’s not clear to me what you ARE talking about. It looks to me that you are using the word ‘love’ with a substantially different meaning than the English word ‘love’. Even in English, love is not about rewards, it’s about conduct and feelings toward another.

    Is God’s love similar enough to human love that a person could have expectations about God’s behavior based on what it means to love someone?

    Unconditional love is not based on feelings, i love someone no matter if he/she/it has feelings. I choose to have feelings after i love unconditionally, the brain doesn’t create feelings.

    Nope, Nope, and Nope. I accept the Golden rule. I don’t accept any of this transcendence stuff because there’s no good reason to that I can see.

    But you self debunked yourself. The Golden Rule cannot be grounded on Materialism, it cannot be grounded on space and time. What’s the source of the golden rule? Your Consciousness. Is your Consciousness materialistic? No its not.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

  46. 46
    sean samis says:

    StephenB @43:

    Why does it “harm” a child to tell him that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered?

    Because it’s false.

    …it is always harmful to tell someone a lie about nature and morality.

    Agreed.

    According to the natural moral law, homosexual acts violate the laws of nature, which means that they are immoral.

    The “natural moral law” is neither “natural”, “moral”, nor a “law”. It is a religious construct which seeks to justify religious rules by appeals to nature. Unfortunately, it must cherry pick what is natural to justify what it wants to prove “moral”. Vengeance is perfectly natural, but is considered immoral. Celebacy is unnatural, but considered moral. And so forth. Homosexuality is natural; it has been observed in nature as well as human communities.

    I have defined harm in the context of my argument. You have not defined harm in the context of your argument. Yet you define immorality as “harming” someone.

    But I did offer to if you wanted it, in #34. Apparently now you do. OK. Here we go:

    A Rational Moral System

    First of all, I prefer the term rational moral system, not “materialistic …” and I will refer to it that way here.

    The “materialistic” beginnings of a moral system are very basic: we are material, living creatures who are vulnerable to injuries, age, ignorance, and other weaknesses. Nature has made us social creatures that generally do best living in stable communities. We are capable of acquiring some knowledge and some foresight. All simple facts.

    Theists frequently assert that if there were no deity, there could be no morality. But it is useful to flip that over: given the moral systems we have, if there are no deities, where did these moral systems come from? Absent any deity, they are most certainly the product of tens of thousands of years of experience humans have dealing with the problems of living together in families, clans, tribes, and communities.

    Differences in moral systems can be understood simply as the different solutions different cultures came up with to solve the moral issues that all human communities experience. Rational persons have come to expect natural processes to be characterized by a certain degree of variation. Absent any deity the process of creating moral systems is entirely natural with the expected natural variations.

    Many people focus on the differences between these various moral systems and determine that there’s little useful to learn from their comparisons. Others focus on the things these moral systems do have in common and find the basis of a rational, debiased “natural law” system. I favor that last approach myself.

    (By “debiased” I mean moral principles extracted from idiosyncratic cultural aspects.)

    There occurs a long, complex story of comparative religion, psychology (how the mind works) and sociology (how humans and communities behave). This forum does not need the burden of that here, only the results matter here.

    The net result:

    I believe there are two basic rules to any valid, rational moral system:

    1. Do No Evil. (Evil and Harm are defined below.)
    2. Do unto others that which you would have them do unto you. (That should sound familiar.)

    Evil is any act with respect to another person which…
    1. causes Harm,
    2. is Intentional, and
    3. is Unnecessary.

    Harm: any physical injury, financial loss, or impairment of liberty; or a substantial risk of any of these against the express consent of the one harmed or placed at risk. Psychological harm significant enough to risk manifestation in physical injury is included as a harm.

    Intentional: includes premeditation, recklessness, and unreasonable negligence.

    Unnecessary: not justified by mitigation or prevention of other, greater harms or injustice nor justified by the consent of the one harmed.

    This probably covers more than 80% of genuine Evil, and is a good starting point. I do not claim it is complete. Suggestions will be considered.

    Having defined Evil, what is Good? Good is a category of not-Evil behaviors and results which are not generally definable beyond saying that Good is a non-overlapping set with Evil. What is Evil is never Good, what is “good” for X might not be “good” for Y. Obviously there can exist a large category of behaviors and results which are not clearly Good, but not clearly Evil.

    Objective definitions of “Good” are a mirage because even things that seem obviously good (necessities like food, water, air, shelter, security) can become not-good by being excessive or restricting or otherwise harmful. Which leaves us with: what makes something “Good” simply has no generally applicable, objective answer; every person has a right (a liberty) to decide that for themselves. As long as they Do No Evil, they have a right to decide for themselves what is the Good for themselves (but not for others).

    Definitions of “Good” are usually reducible to “something not bad”. No greater definition is needed or wanted. There is a reason that the most commonly shared moral concepts are best characterized as “Thou shalt not”s. It is often clearer to simply determine what to avoid or prohibit than to try to list all the things we must or should do.

    Worse yet, seeking an “objective” definition of Good is often a pretext to Evil: “objective Good” can be used as a weapon with which to deprive others of their liberties (a harm). Compelling others to do things because these things are “objectively Good” is one of the keys to tyranny. Forbidding actually Evil behaviors is clearer and less prone to abuse.

    This is as far as I am going to go for now. If I had more time, I’d write something briefer. Most of the above is just cut and paste with a bit of editing to clean it up or fit it to the context of this thread. Basically, this is nothing new.

    sean s.

  47. 47
    sean samis says:

    JimFit @45:

    Since everything physical have a beginning then the Universe didn’t existed prior to its existence, that makes it by definition a creation tha happen due to an act and an act demands a Consciousness, …

    … or just an event that caused the creation; events don’t require consciousness or intent. If the “Big Bang” is correct, our universe is probably just a part of a larger Universe which has existed forever. Lacking any real beginning, it lacks any need for a creator.

    Unconditional love is not based on feelings, i love someone no matter if he/she/it has feelings. I choose to have feelings after i love unconditionally, the brain doesn’t create feelings.

    You still have not said what the word ‘love’ means to you. And there’s no reason to believe the brain does not create feeling.

    The Golden Rule cannot be grounded on Materialism, it cannot be grounded on space and time. What’s the source of the golden rule? Your Consciousness. Is your Consciousness materialistic? No its not.

    The GR can be grounded in experience. It needs nothing more. Is consciousness materialistic? Sure. Why not?

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect)

    Nah. With regards to consciousness, these are all sheer speculation. It is not established that consciousness is a quantum effect any more than smell is. Many try to pin it down, none have done so.

    sean s.

  48. 48
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    If I grant to all the right to equal protection under the law, or to religious liberty, from whom am I taking a right?

    If the Supreme Court redefines the meaning of marriage, then Christians have lost their right to define it, even though it was, in large part, they who introduced it. One group gains the right to define marriage, another group loses it. (The definition has been changed from one man and one woman to anything the person “getting married” wants it to be.)” If one group is granted a right, another group will ALWAYS lose a right. It is a zero sum gain. There are no exceptions to this principle. It is not possible to even think of one. If you disagree with me, try to come up with a specific example, and I will show you which right was gained and which right was lost.

    Harm: any physical injury, financial loss, or impairment of liberty; or a substantial risk of any of these against the express consent of the one harmed or placed at risk. Psychological harm significant enough to risk manifestation in physical injury is included as a harm.

    Is abortion harmful (and immoral) by your standard? Presumably, you would agree that it is immoral since it harms the unborn child. Yet I suspect that you would reject that argument.

    Would it be harmful (and immoral) for humans to totally separate sexual activity from procreation by practicing artificial birth control and homosexuality to such extent that the population dies and human history ends? Is anyone “harmed” if that happens?

  49. 49
    JimFit says:

    … or just an event that caused the creation; events don’t require consciousness or intent. If the “Big Bang” is correct, our universe is probably just a part of a larger Universe which has existed forever. Lacking any real beginning, it lacks any need for a creator.

    Oh men…again, everything physical began to exist including space and time, the BB is the absolute beginning of everything physical. Where did you read that the Big Bang will prove that the Universe is a part of an infinite Universe? That is so wrong that i wont even comment…

    You still have not said what the word ‘love’ means to you. And there’s no reason to believe the brain does not create feeling.

    There are different types of love, i am talking about unconditional love aka love without conditions.

    There is no reason to believe that the brain creates anything…not to mention that creation implies consciousness.

    Does the brain create anything on its own unconsciously?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBsI_ay8K70

    Refuting Physicalist Objections

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB5TNrtu9Pk

    Quantum Physics debunk Materialism

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5pq7W5yRM

    The GR can be grounded in experience. It needs nothing more. Is consciousness materialistic? Sure. Why not?

    Experience is part of being Conscious and Consciousness is transcendent, it has been proven that Consciousness precedes Materialism again and again.

    The bizarre nature of reality as laid out by quantum theory has survived another test, with scientists performing a famous experiment and proving that reality does not exist until it is measured.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....103110.htm

    Nah. With regards to consciousness, these are all sheer speculation. It is not established that consciousness is a quantum effect any more than smell is. Many try to pin it down, none have done so.

    Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality.

    Quantum Enigma

    Observation in Quantum Mechanics and the ‘Collapse of the Wavefunction’

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1961ZPhy..161..454J

    http://journals.aps.org/pr/abs.....Rev.47.777

    http://philoscience.unibe.ch/d.....964epr.pdf

    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....6866a.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvMx1baJwpA

    http://link.springer.com/artic.....6096313729

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0704.2529

    http://physicsworld.com/cws/ar.....to-reality

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nttB3Wze3Y8

    http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9903047

    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....ly-web.htm

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1106.4481

    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....ke-it.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiNJRh2fxY8

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1206.6578

    http://www.nature.com/news/200.....416-9.html

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.5294

    http://www.pnas.org/content/108/4/1256.abstract

    http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR07/Event/57254

    http://www.nature.com/nnano/jo.....12.34.html

    http://www.livescience.com/192.....cules.html

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0909.1469

    http://www.nature.com/news/201.....1.210.html

    http://www.wired.com/2009/09/quantum-entanglement/

    http://www.nature.com/news/201.....0.130.html

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/pap.....1.0337.pdf

  50. 50
    sean samis says:

    StephenB @48

    If the Supreme Court redefines the meaning of marriage, then Christians have lost their right to define it, even though it was they who introduced it.

    OK, now I’m gonna call [snip, language] on you. Christians “introduced” marriage?! Please! That’s utter nonsense. Marriage is various forms is found in nearly all cultures throughout time.

    And Christians have a “right to define marriage”?! [snip]! They didn’t invent it; they didn’t introduce it; they have no proprietary interest in it. Christians have a right to define marriage for themselves, but not for all humanity.

    And finally, your answer is nonresponsive; my question stands: If I grant to all the right to equal protection under the law, or to religious liberty, from whom am I taking a right? That question is not about same-sex marriage.

    Is abortion immoral by your standard?

    Yes, of course it is.

    But so is abandoning unwanted babies and their desperate mothers to the tender cares of an indifferent society. Worrying about the first 9 months of a child’s life cannot compensate for the moral failure exhibited by indifference to the child’s welfare over their remaining 900 months. (900 months equaling 75 years, a reasonable life-span.) This indifference is manifestly Evil.

    Aborting the child to save them from a lifetime of poverty, desperation, crime, ignorance, and suffering is not worse than allowing that kind of suffering itself. Abortion is never necessary, but sometimes it is less cruel than the ghetto, the slum, and the prison. Abortion is not always the worst outcome.

    As Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted once: sometimes every choice results in Evil.

    Would it be moral for humans to totally separate sexual activity from procreation by practicing artificial birth control and homosexuality to such extent that the population dies and human history ends? Is anyone “harmed” if that happens?

    The question is whether this UNLIKELY policy (another extreme example) is voluntarily carried out by every human. In that extraordinary situation, it is not immoral. No one was forced. It is, however, quite unlikely. I’d bet the farm against it happening voluntarily.

    sean s.

    {WARNING: I have a zero tolerance policy on vulgarity. I expect compliance. KF}

  51. 51
    sean samis says:

    JimFit @49:

    …everything physical began to exist including space and time, the BB is the absolute beginning of everything physical. Where did you read that the Big Bang will prove that the Universe is a part of an infinite Universe? That is so wrong that i wont even comment…

    If this is something you are unaware of then there is no point in trying to discuss this with you. How could you not know? Anyone who’s up to date on cosmology knows of what I write. But not you.

    There are different types of love, i am talking about unconditional love aka love without conditions.

    This is still meaningless. How is love without conditions different from hate without conditions? Or fish without conditions? Or shoes?

    Saying X is without conditions tells us nothing about what X is.

    All I’m looking for is your definition of “love”. Do you not have one?

    I suppose I could just proceed on the assumption that by love, you mean substantially the same thing as the standard English definition: an intense feeling of deep affection; a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person arising out of kinship or personal ties, admiration, benevolence, or common interests; or unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.

    You are saying that God’s love is Unconditional. OK, if that’s the case, you are saying God does not care if we sin or not; he still loves us and will reward us all the same way because His love is UNCONDITIONAL.

    Cool.

    …it has been proven that Consciousness precedes Materialism again and again.

    But only on youtube. It appears that you are unable to explain these many proofs, which makes me think you don’t even understand them. That makes your claims unreliable and pretty much worthless.

    Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality.

    No, it doesn’t. I think you’re tangled up in the Observer Conundrum. You don’t understand it. Ah well.

    If I posted all the sites and articles that prove that consciousness remains an enigma and that no Creator is needed, you’d not be persuaded. So why would you think a boat-load of links would persuade me? If you cannot explain how this works, then I have no reason to think you have it right.

    sean s.

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    Mr Seamis, I have edited you for vulgarity. I expect that you will avoid such from now on. KF

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    SS,

    As of now I have to consider that I am dealing with people to whom key words and institutions such as marriage and rights are meaningless beyond that which manipulation and might can foist on the public, the law and institutions.

    This turns such into utter nihilists who are not to be trusted in any serious endeavour or in the community.

    In particular, statements or promises or even court rulings and acts under colour of law for the moment that freedom of conscience has some regard are to be taken as meaningless.

    A promise from one whose word is worth nothing is a comfort only to a simpleton.

    Especially, in a context where activists have already proved that they have judges in their back pockets willing to bankrupt small businesses with six figure fines and/or legal costs.

    In short, the nihilistic liar and the manipulator violate truth, justice, law and even communication itself, showing such to be enemies of humanity.

    That, is the line which has been passed.

    That, is the fire that is being foolishly played with by those who enable or go along with such.

    And, that hellish fire is going to create a horrific conflagration in our civilisation if we do not come to our senses as of yesterday.

    In my homeland there is an apt saying: fire deh pon mus mus tail, but him think seh a cool breeze deh deh.

    In that light, I now require and request that those who wish to further discuss the homosexualist twisting of the law on marriage, take such a discussion elsewhere.

    This thread is not on that subject, and I will not allow it to be further diverted to such.

    Not, with marauding activists going around looking for the next target to pounce on and haul before corrupted courts or the like.

    There is a far more central issue on the table, and I would appreciate a return to that topic.

    But I will pause to say this much on Creation order, naturally evident marriage, by way of citing the central teacher of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, on what no counterfeit, manipulation or perversion can ever change no matter what bench of judges or parliaments full of politicians may wish to say:

    Mt 19:4 He [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    What God joins and has embedded in our nature as morally governed creatures, let not man (oh, so wise in his own eyes) put asunder.

    KF

  54. 54
    JimFit says:

    sean samis

    If this is something you are unaware of then there is no point in trying to discuss this with you. How could you not know? Anyone who’s up to date on cosmology knows of what I write. But not you.

    Citation needed.

    This is still meaningless. How is love without conditions different from hate without conditions? Or fish without conditions? Or shoes?

    Hate will always have some form of justification, love however can be manifested unconditionally and that is the purest state of love, evil is not an opposite force of good, there is only love and lack of love and lack of love always has reasons egocentric reasons, we think that love and hate are two equal forces because the love we see today is mostly conditional like hate but true love is unconditionally and true hate does not exist, if you are for example racist the reason you hate a person its because he is not the same color or culture as you, the ego hates and you are not the ego, can you uncondinionally hate yourself? You can unconditionally love yourself by accepting who you are and therefore accepting life as it is, hate is just an excuse because people are afraid to step into the light guided by love.

    Saying X is without conditions tells us nothing about what X is.

    I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

    All I’m looking for is your definition of “love”. Do you not have one?

    a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

    You are saying that God’s love is Unconditional. OK, if that’s the case, you are saying God does not care if we sin or not; he still loves us and will reward us all the same way because His love is UNCONDITIONAL.

    We are the images of God, that means that we punish themselves, God doesn’t send people to Hell, Hell is not a material place that you go like a prison camp, Hell is a state of your consciousness, you die and all you have left is the guilts that you were a bad person, that’s why when someone dies we say as a wish “REST IN PEACE” because good people have peace because they didn’t do anything evil to disturb their consciousness. You Atheists must understand that we are images of God NOT SEPARATED ENTITIES.
    Cool.

    But only on youtube. It appears that you are unable to explain these many proofs, which makes me think you don’t even understand them. That makes your claims unreliable and pretty much worthless.

    The video i shared provided scientific evidence.

    No, it doesn’t. I think you’re tangled up in the Observer Conundrum. You don’t understand it. Ah well.

    Yes it does…Reality doesn’t exist until is measured.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....103110.htm

    If I posted all the sites and articles that prove that consciousness remains an enigma and that no Creator is needed, you’d not be persuaded. So why would you think a boat-load of links would persuade me? If you cannot explain how this works, then I have no reason to think you have it right.

    What do you mean how it works? When there is no measurement there is no reality, the Macroworld doesn’t exist until it is measured.

  55. 55
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    OK, now I’m gonna call [snip, language] on you. Christians “introduced” marriage?! Please! That’s utter nonsense. Marriage is various forms is found in nearly all cultures throughout time.

    We are discussing definitions and who has the “right” to use them for the purpose of shaping a culture. Christians introduced the first definition of marriage as a man and woman becoming “one flesh.” In that context, it was understood that the family had the right to direct the government rather than the other way around. The government was never suppose to have “rights.”

    The Supreme Court recently undercut that definition and arrogated to itself that same right–to define marriage. The principle I outlined is still in force. Every right entails the elimination of another right. Now, instead of the family directing the government, which is natural, the government directs the family (and of course seeks to eliminate it as the primary institution), which is unnatural. Hence, the Natural Moral Law.

    And finally, your answer is nonresponsive; my question stands: If I grant to all the right to equal protection under the law, or to religious liberty, from whom am I taking a right? That question is not about same-sex marriage.

    Your question does not apply because it isn’t specific. One specific right will always compromise another specific right.

    Example: The right to not be offended eliminates the right of religious expression. The right to a free college education takes away the right of the taxpayer to retain part of his income.

    Again, no specific right can be granted except at the expense of another right. If you can think of an example, please share it.

    SB: Is abortion immoral by your standard?

    Yes, of course it is.

    Excellent. We agree on at least one point. Also, it will help to further illustrate my point. The right to an abortion will take away another person’s right to live. Are you starting to understand how this works?

    But so is abandoning unwanted babies and their desperate mothers to the tender cares of an indifferent society.

    Agreed.

    Worrying about the first 9 months of a child’s life cannot compensate for the moral failure exhibited by indifference to the child’s welfare over their remaining 900 months. (900 months equaling 75 years, a reasonable life-span.) This indifference is manifestly Evil.

    Agreed.

    As Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted once: sometimes every choice results in Evil.

    Yes, and it is also the case that sometimes every choice involves “harm” on both sides, which is why harm cannot be the sole metric for determining what is moral. I may have to harm someone to stop him from harming me. One nation may have to harm thousands from another nation in order to prevent being enslaved. So some standard other than harm must ultimately be applied to make moral judgments. That standard is the natural moral law (and the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount).

    More important still, you cannot possibly know what harm is for someone without knowing the purpose of that person’s existence (or lack of it). If his (or her) purpose is to be with God for eternity, we harm him if we take him away from that destiny, which would mean eternal harm. Even if we protect him from all other harm, we have harmed him beyond repair. On the other hand, if he has no purpose, then the word “harm” takes on a whole new meaning.

  56. 56
    Brent says:

    You have this backwards. The point is not that some philosophers dreamed up a set of morals from a theory of an ultimate deity, but that since we feel objective morals pressing on us, they necessarily point us to God.

    Brent, no. The press of morals on us does not necessarily point to a deity or any specific deity. The press of morals on us necessarily tells us that we need to understand their imperative.

    It’s easy to say no to a guy named Brent on Uncommon Descent, but one would like to see you acknowledge that in fact this is the thought of the greatest thinkers in history. I don’t recommend taking anything on authority alone, but it would be nice to have a reasoned explanation as to why you would contradict the intellectual towers of the past.

    Certainly we don’t know that any morals are objective, and as my comments indicate, even belief in a deity cannot make one’s morals “objective”.

    Actually, this couldn’t be more wrong even if you tried. If any “moral” isn’t objective, it simply isn’t a moral. Again, the term “subjective morality” is for the gutless atheist. Nothing subjective carries the weight of ought. If morality doesn’t have the weight of ought, then we aren’t talking morality any more.

    You have an interesting theory, but I am not aware of any reason to give it credence.

    It’s not mine alone, and if you cannot find any reason within the countless volumes produced to show you the reasons, then perhaps you aren’t being quite as objective on this question as you suppose.

    You have to deny morality to deny God, and very, very few atheists have the guts to do that.

    This is simply wrong. I don’t deny God, but I know that morality exists whether God does or not. Few atheists “deny morality” because there’s every reason not to.

    No! This is magnificently and obviously right. You cannot get an ought from subjective anything, and that’s all you are left with without an ultimate, transcendent authority. And absent an ought, you are absent morals.

    If man and his whims are the source of the moral law, then man governs the moral law, and the moral law does not govern man.

    Whims are not the source of moral law, but unless a deity speaks directly to you, humans govern moral law anyway.

    Translation: Whims are not the source of the moral law, but whims are the source of the moral law anyway.

    When you have to make arguments that rely on such obviously contradictory language, especially within the span of a single sentence, it should be a pretty big clue you are not speaking the truth.

    What I know of religiously based moral law has passed through the hands of innumerable humans, each smearing it with their own biases. I have never heard the voice of God.

    You have heard the voice of God. It would be nearer the truth to say you could hardly think of a time you were not actively hearing the voice of God. That would be another issue, however . . .

    Moral law governs humans because we have needs that only it can provide; but again we don’t need a God to give morality to us, and believing in gods has not spared us from moral uncertainty.

    Why do you speak of the moral law as something separate and distinct from humans? If we are the source of the moral law as you say, then stop it. From now on, say what you really think and must necessarily mean: ‘Humans govern humans.’

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, I will let your comment stand as a reply but given the circumstances I gavel further debates on the homosexualisation of marriage tangent. As explained already. KF

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent, it would be interesting to see a serious addressing of the IS-OUGHT gap, joined to answering to whether oughtness is an actual binding obligation. KF

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    REC,

    BTW, I do not try to prove universality of morality.

    (And the suggestion that I am trying to introduce some idiosyncratic and dubious novelty falls of its own weight. You must know better than such.)

    The very fact that in trying to object to the objective, binding force of OUGHT you are forced to appeal to ought not and to suggest various degrees of guilt by association while dismissing the very real moral struggles of a man whose shoes you are not up to unlatching — a man who proved a great friend of humanity for all his failings — shows that you too recognise the binding nature of ought.

    In short, your argument is patently incoherent.

    To see the point, ponder, do we have rights that even the weak and inarticulate cannot be alienated from?

    Such as, life?

    Liberty?

    Being recognised as sharing in the common human nature with the inherent dignity and expectation of respect that implies?

    That is, the genuine form of “equality” that you would manipulate or go along with those who do manipulate?

    If we really have rights, we have binding moral expectations that are universally assertable.

    That is, to appeal to rights, fairness, justice and duties of care to such and to truth is to imply that we are under the moral government of OUGHT.

    (Unless you are emptily parroting the cynical rhetoric and agit-prop of those who only wish to get their own way by manipulating the perception of moral obligation, meanwhile resorting to intimidatory comparisons to widely disapproved practices.)

    We can safely take the above to imply that you actually acknowledge the reality of our being under moral government, rooted in our common humanity and the dignity that nature implies. Which is of course precisely the argument of Jefferson, the other fifty-odd founders of the American republic, and of the millions who supported them. Many, to the point of putting life, liberty and honour on the line.

    (Where, BTW, the simple fact that the original draft of the US DoI argued against the slave trade and was taken out as an uneasy compromise on the lesser of evils is more than sufficient to highlight the moral struggle and politics of realistic reformation I earlier alluded to. The same extends to the twenty years clock on the slave trade written into the US Constitution. Let me cite two relevant biblical texts that have been largely forgotten: 1 Tim 1:”8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious . . . for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel . . . ” [hint, look at the full list] and, in a letter sent back with an escaped slave [Onesimus], Philemon 1:15 “Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for ever – 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.” In short we see here the fundamental equality of humanity recognised and the moral struggle we face is highlighted. In the latter case, Paul was writing as an appeals prisoner literally chained to a guard in a case where a runaway had come to him for refuge. His core case for manumission is literally the heart of the motto of the Antislavery Society: Am I not a man and a brother. The second motto, Am I not a woman and a sister, builds on v 2 of the same short letter, addressing: “Apphia our sister.” Notice the typical, habitual greeting of Christians: Bro X and Sis Y. It is plain to all save the utterly closed minded, that there is a core recognition of equality in common humanity and a recognition of the core relationship of husband and wife. Of course, the malicious and murderous in ancient times twisted such into a false accusation of incest and orgies, even as the bread and wine of the meal of communion were twisted into an accusation of cannibalism.)

    Now, plainly, what I have pointed to is an issue that has been widely known since Hume: the IS-OUGHT gap and the grounding of OUGHT.

    The implication is, that there is exactly one place where OUGHT can be grounded: the root of reality, in an IS that simultaneously is the proper and adequate basis for ought.

    That is, the inner voice we term conscience (when unsquelched and unwarped) is a compass needle pointing to the nature of the roots of reality.

    So, like it or lump it, once OUGHT is real, it points to the root of reality being an IS that grounds OUGHT.

    As you know or should know, after centuries of debate there is precisely one serious candidate: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, who is worthy of ultimate loyalty and of the reasonable service of doing the good that is evident from our common human nature.

    Hence, again, the force of the argument Locke makes in founding what would become modern liberty and democracy by citing “the judicious Hooker” in Ch 2 sec 5 of his 2nd treatise on civil gov’t:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    This is of course the direct root of the 2nd paragraph of the US DoI.

    That is the case and historical context that you must answer, knowing the issues that are at stake.

    No, it’s not silly IDiots like Brent and KF and SB, it’s not racists, slavers and segregationists who can be tarred and dismissed without further consideration.

    (I trust you see the fallacious nature of red herrings led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.)

    No, there is a world-foundational question on the table deeply tied into why we have core unalienable rights rooted in our nature, to how genuine reforms advance, and to the rise — and current decline — of modern liberty and democratic self-government.

    And, at that level, once we are under the government of ought we face the only serious candidate to ground such: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, who is worthy of ultimate loyalty and of the reasonable service of doing the good that is evident from our common human nature.

    Where, of course, evolutionary materialist scientism undermines mind and reason (indeed, it seems to undermine recognition of the reality of a real, self-moved conscious responsibly free self), it can provide no ground for OUGHT beyond might and manipulation make ‘right,’ and it therefore falls into self-referential absurdity and self-falsification. It contradicts the first fact we all experience, and would utterly undermine the hope of rationality.

    So, we come back to: once ought is real, it has roots, and we live in a world utterly unlike that painted by lab coat clad evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    And if one would argue that ought is not real, s/he lets loose grand delusion in the heart of self-aware mindedness, ending in patent self-referential absurdity.

    That, in the end is Eric’s great (and unrecognised) blunder.

    KF

  60. 60
    logically_speaking says:

    Sean Samis,

    Me –
    The right to life … seems pretty absolute to me

    You –
    So when the police kill someone that’s a crime always? If it’s not, then the right to life is not absolute.

    My response –
    First there is a difference between killing and murder. Second I would say if police are involved it usually means someone is violating someone elses rights.

    If you commit a violation of rights you become fit for punishment.

    Obviously any punishment will require a violation of your own rights, not because they are not absolute, but because you have forfeited your own rights when you committed the crime.

    Unless the police are protecting someone else’s right to life, it is a crime for even the police to kill.

    Me –
    The right to freedom

    You –
    So when they put someone in prison, that’s a crime always? If it’s not, then the right to freedom is not absolute.

    My response –
    You are talking punishment after a crime, where rights are forfeited. Interestingly prison resricts freedom it does not completely take it away. But of course outside of prison, travel is also restricted.

    Our rights are violated all the time, we just don’t realise it or care.

    Me –
    The right to property

    You –
    So if property is repossessed due to failure to pay debts, taxes, or because the property was used in a crime, that taking of property is a crime itself always?

    My response –
    If if you have to pay depts or taxes on property then that property isn’t actually OWNED by you. You need to understand what true ownership is before you understand property rights. You also talk about crime and punishment again, crimes forfeit rights.

    You –
    Or if the other guy won’t sell available property to you? That’s a crime always?

    My response –
    If the available property is not owned by the other guy he has no right to sell it to you. If it is his property he can do as he wants.

    You –
    You know where this is going… All rights have their reasonable bounds.

    My response –
    They have absolute bounds that we violate all the time.

    Me –
    The responsibility to protect these rights.

    You-
    This is not a right, so it’s a whole different topic. If this responsibility is absolute, then you MUST risk your life to help others. I’m sure there’s very little agreement on that.

    My response –
    You are completely wrong. Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand, you cannot have one without the other.

    This responsibility is the Golden rule in other words.

    It is not just about protecting rights for ourselves but protection for everyone else as well.

    This is what sacrifice is, giving your life for another.

  61. 61
    Box says:

    I do have a problem with the subjective-objective dichotomy wrt to morality, where “subjective” is equated with “endlessly unpredictable”. As in, if morality is subjective, then anything goes, because a whimsical subject can hold any position. From this axiom it follows that morality must be objective—not part of the thoroughly untrustworthy subject—, and must be imposed from the outside in order to keep our children safe.

    I believe that we have to differentiate between the temporal and real. In my philosophy we are on our way to become moral persons, just as we are on our way to become rational persons. We are here to make mistakes and learn.
    Just as thinking is not imposed on us from the outside, I do not believe that being moral is imposed on us from the outside, but is part of us instead. It would not make sense to learn a toddler to say “E = MC^2”—because of the disconnect/lack of understanding.
    I believe in life after death (and reincarnation). And I do believe that, in the end of the learning process, each of us on his/her own will arrive at the same truth about logic and morality, because in those respects we are the same; despite being individual persons.

    Yes, there is perfect morality and perfect logic ‘out there’ in God, but that doesn’t mean that morality is in principle alien to us—not part of us—, because we as subjects are and will always be thoroughly untrustworthy.

  62. 62
    Popperian says:

    Just as with the knowledge in an organism’s genome, the theistic expiation for the growth of moral knowledge is either absent, irrational, or supernatural.

    Moral knowledge grows, just like all other knowledge. Theists have no such universal explanation for the growth of knowledge.

  63. 63
    kmsoileau says:

    @REC Empathy has objective moral implications only if one assumes that empathy has objective moral implications. Your use of empathy as the source of an objective moral standard is a perfect example of circular logic. The ability to perceive the suffering of another being does not inexorably imply any restriction on one’s behavior; for example if a lion doesn’t have empathy for its prey, would it change its behavior if it were endowed with such empathy?

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian:

    Sniffing “supernatural” as a dismissal is not good enough to address what is on the table.

    Are you and are we under the government of ought, including, do we have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the like?

    If not, then morality is a delusion, mindedness is warped by that delusion and the whole project of responsible, rational freedom collapses. Besides, we would then be prey to might and manipulation make ‘right’ and ‘truth.’

    This is absurd nihilism, and those who embrace or support it or simply passively enable it had better realise the matches they are playing with.

    Such nihilism is self-referentially incoherent.

    We can take it that OUGHT is real and binding, starting with fundamental rights. We are under moral government.

    That means, we live in a world where there is an IS that grounds OUGHT.

    After centuries, there is precisely one serious candidate: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, who is worthy of ultimate loyalty and of the reasonable service of doing the good that is evident from our common human nature.

    Your dismissive sniffing tells us little more than that you are hostile to God, it is not a cogent answer to the root of a world in which we are morally governed.

    That is the issue to be addressed, and in a day when it is increasingly plain that Plato’s warning from 360 BC is dead on target:

    Ath. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . ], and not in legal subjection to them.

    As to genuine reformation and recognition of fresh and genuine moral insights, I would suggest to you that our rationality is finite, fallible, and too often hampered and blinded by ever so many factors as we seek to grow in virtue. So it should not be any surprise that moral understanding and practice can both grow and decline in the individual, the institution, the community, nation and civilisation.

    That is, your pretence that moral growth is somehow a challenge to the grounding of OUGHT in the only serious IS on the table, is a strawman argument.

    KF

  65. 65
    Box says:

    Popperian #62,

    Popperian: Just as with the knowledge in an organism’s genome, the theistic expiation for the growth of moral knowledge is either absent, irrational, or supernatural.

    Is “learning” an ‘irrational’ or ‘supernatural’ explanation of ‘growth of moral knowledge’? I would say that the concept of a person, who learns about morality e.g. by suffering the consequences of his mistakes, received broad acceptance everywhere.

    Popperian: Moral knowledge grows (…)

    Sure, most of us learn from mistakes.

    Popperian: (…) just like all other knowledge. Theists have no such universal explanation for the growth of knowledge.

    And the universal theistic explanation is (TADA!!): the existence of intelligent persons guarantees the growth of knowledge.
    What on earth are you on about?

  66. 66
    anthropic says:

    Wisdom comes from experience.
    Experience comes from a lack of wisdom.

  67. 67
    Seversky says:

    JimFit @ 54

    Yes it does…Reality doesn’t exist until is measured.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re…..103110.htm

    If I posted all the sites and articles that prove that consciousness remains an enigma and that no Creator is needed, you’d not be persuaded. So why would you think a boat-load of links would persuade me? If you cannot explain how this works, then I have no reason to think you have it right.

    What do you mean how it works? When there is no measurement there is no reality, the Macroworld doesn’t exist until it is measured.

    So unless someone runs a tape measure over you, you don’t exist?

    If something doesn’t exist until you measure it, just what are you supposed to be measuring in the first place?

    Besides, if you read the Science Daily description of the experiment that is not what happened, in spite of some rather loose talk. The experiment, in a broad sense, was measuring the nature or properties of fundamental units of matter, in other words, atoms. Quantum theory is still a theory about how the material world behaves on the very smallest scale.

  68. 68
    JimFit says:

    Seversky

    When you reduce matter you get waves not pieces of matter and these waves are not physical things they are mathematical formulas of course this until we measure, to answer your question when the measurement happens the wave collapse happens and matter returns to its original state. This is a very crude explanation to help you understand since you are a newbie. This play-list explains the argument really well, you should check it.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1mr9ZTZb3TViAqtowpvZy5PZpn-MoSK_

  69. 69
    sean samis says:

    To kairosfocus, JimFit, StephenB, Brent, logically_speaking, and kmsoileau and with reference to Seversky and Box; Sorry for the delay in responding, I am on my summer vacation. On to it:

    @53, kairosfocus wrote:

    I now require and request that those who wish to further discuss the homosexualist twisting of the law on marriage, take such a discussion elsewhere.

    I am fine with this presuming that the policy is fairly enforced.

    @54 JimFit: finally provided his definition of ‘love’:

    a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

    Since it is JimFit’s position that his God’s love is UNCONDITIONAL, that means that his God’s love may be defined as “an unconditionally tender, passionate affection for another person.” Let’s give that some thought…

    Regarding:

    You Atheists…

    I am not an atheist.

    When there is no measurement there is no reality, the Macroworld doesn’t exist until it is measured.

    I actually laughed when I read this! Seversky @ 67 got to this first:

    So unless someone runs a tape measure over you, you don’t exist? If something doesn’t exist until you measure it, just what are you supposed to be measuring in the first place?

    Things that do not exist cannot be measured. Measurement can only be made on things that exist. Therefore, things that can be measured ALREADY exist.

    JimFit replied (@68) that

    When you reduce matter you get waves not pieces of matter and these waves are not physical things they are mathematical formulas…

    No. Mathematical formulas DESCRIBE these waves, but the waves exist as variations of forces. Forces exist. Matter and energy (which are the same things) are manifestations of forces.

    @55 StephenB:

    Your comments regarding same-sex marriage fall under kairofocus’s ban and I will not comment on them.

    Regarding:

    Your question does not apply because it isn’t specific. One specific right will always compromise another specific right.

    The right to be treated by the law the same as others is a specific right; typically referred to as “equal protection”. Who loses a right when some else’s right to be treated the same as others is acknowledged? No one.

    The right to practice religion as your conscience dictates is a specific right typically referred to as “religious liberty”. Who loses a right when some else’s right to practice their religion as their conscience is acknowledged? No one.

    Who’s rights are lost when we acknowledge the freedom of speech? No one’s.

    Example: The right to not be offended…

    There is no such right.

    The right to a free college education…

    There is no such right.

    the right of the taxpayer to retain part of his income.

    There is a right to retain part of one’s income. There is no right to retain ALL of ones’ income because there is no right to be a freeloader on the community.

    So some standard other than harm must ultimately be applied to make moral judgments. That standard is the natural moral law (and the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount).

    No, the proper standards are necessity, harm-avoidance and rational justification. Religious rules CANNOT be the standard unless we deny Religious Liberty.

    More important still, you cannot possibly know what harm is for someone without knowing the purpose of that person’s existence (or lack of it). If his (or her) purpose is to be with God for eternity, we harm him if we take him away from that destiny, which would mean eternal harm. Even if we protect him from all other harm, we have harmed him beyond repair. On the other hand, if he has no purpose, then the word “harm” takes on a whole new meaning.

    No one can know whether there even is such a purpose, much less what it is. And if your God loves us unconditionally, He will not place among us one we cannot defend ourselves from; one we must never harm. That would be an unloving act.

    @56 Brent:

    …it would be nice to have a reasoned explanation as to why you would contradict the intellectual towers of the past.

    Because those “intellectual towers of the past” sometimes misled us, and were mere humans in any event. If they were right, “a guy named Brent on Uncommon Descent” would be able to explain the reasons they are right. When “a guy named Brent on Uncommon Descent” has to resort to wondering how I dare to challenge past authorities, then that indicates that “a guy named Brent on Uncommon Descent” has no idea why he or I should obey these past thinkers.

    If any “moral” isn’t objective, it simply isn’t a moral.

    If you are correct (I think not.) then there is no morality. Notice that I think you are wrong, I think there is morality; it’s just not what you think it is.

    Nothing subjective carries the weight of ought. … You cannot get an ought from subjective anything, and that’s all you are left with without an ultimate, transcendent authority. And absent an ought, you are absent morals.

    Well, perhaps YOU can’t, but the rest of us can. A subjective morality carries the weight of ought because people rely on promises; communities cannot survive without trust, cooperation, and mutual aid. These all create obligations and result in harms when someone does not do as they ought.

    Whims are not the source of the moral law, but whims are the source of the moral law anyway.

    Whims have nothing to do with it. Perhaps the error that Box referred to @61 has gotten ahold of you:

    I do have a problem with the subjective-objective dichotomy wrt to morality, where “subjective” is equated with “endlessly unpredictable”. As in, if morality is subjective, then anything goes, because a whimsical subject can hold any position. From this axiom it follows that morality must be objective—not part of the thoroughly untrustworthy subject—, and must be imposed from the outside in order to keep our children safe.

    I’m not sure how much of Box’s comment (@61) I agree with, but I do think Box may have hit on an important point. “Subjective” and “whimsical” are not synonymous.

    You have heard the voice of God.

    I have never heard the voice of God. Never.

    … say what you really think and must necessarily mean: ‘Humans govern humans.’

    Even you think “humans govern humans”; where we disagree is the source of the rules they follow to govern with; a religious morality or a rational morality.

    If you are going to say that your God governs humans, then where is his court that I may lodge a complaint? Telling me to wait contradicts claims that God loves us because justice delayed is justice denied; that would be an unloving act

    @60 logically_speaking:

    First there is a difference between killing and murder. Second…

    This is a nice little analysis of justified killing; all you miss is the obvious: if a person can be deprived of their right to life due to necessity or as a punishment, then the “right to life” is NOT absolute. An absolute right cannot be alienated (GIVEN or TAKEN away) under ANY circumstances. You have described circumstances in which the right to life can be alienated; therefore the right to life is not absolute. Likewise with the other rights we discussed.

    You are completely wrong. Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand, you cannot have one without the other.

    Rights and responsibilities DO go hand in hand, but they are not the same things. That’s why we have different words for them. So we can speak of them separately. Rights are never absolute BECAUSE responsibilities come with them; because one can exercise one’s rights in a way that violates the rights of others. Because a violation of another’s rights makes one’s own rights forfeit.

    Perhaps you should discuss this with StephenB, who insists that rights are ALWAYS a zero-sum topic. If StephenB is right, then you cannot be right. If you are right, StephenB cannot be. I’ll let you two duke that one out between you.

    BTW, I think you both are wrong. Rights are not absolute, but actual rights are not zero-sum.

    @63 kmsoileau:

    The ability to perceive the suffering of another being does not inexorably imply any restriction on one’s behavior; for example if a lion doesn’t have empathy for its prey, would it change its behavior if it were endowed with such empathy?

    Would the lion have any choice? It must eat or die, and it cannot survive as a herbivore. Empathy is part of the basis of morality, but it is not enough by itself. But, without empathy (or something substantially similar) morality is not possible.

    sean s.

  70. 70
    sean samis says:

    @58 kairosfocus wrote:

    it would be interesting to see a serious addressing of the IS-OUGHT gap, joined to answering to whether oughtness is an actual binding obligation.

    I agree, this would be a very interesting conversation. If we only knew someone who could initiate that on some blog site … !

    sean s.

  71. 71
    Brent says:

    Well Sean Samis, at least that is a much more, uh, vociferous??? waiving of your hand than before in regards to not giving reasons that any meaningful idea of morality doesn’t necessarily lead to a transcendent standard, which I GUESS is a step in the right direction . . .

    SS, You said:

    . . . subjective morality carries the weight of ought because people rely on promises; communities cannot survive without trust, cooperation, and mutual aid. These all create obligations and result in harms when someone does not do as they ought.

    Circular. Subjective morality carries the weight of ought because people OUGHT to be able to rely on promises; they OUGHT to be able to trust, cooperate, and give mutual aid. You’ve explained nothing, which is par for the course. You are either borrowing from MY rational worldview, or begging the question from within your own.

    You can’t do it. You CANNOT reason out any ought that stems from an ultimate grounding in man. I am a man, and so I have an equal veto of every “ought” so-called if it comes from man. Who says communities OUGHT to survive? Hitler thought some communities OUGHT to perish. Who says he was wrong???

    If man is the source of morality, man governs morality, and morality does not govern man. It’ll never work.

  72. 72
    sean samis says:

    Brent @71:

    Subjective morality carries the weight of ought because people OUGHT to be able to rely on promises; they OUGHT to be able to trust, cooperate, and give mutual aid. You’ve explained nothing, …

    The ‘ought’ is created by necessity and harm-avoidance, that is all that is required.

    You CANNOT reason out any ought that stems from an ultimate grounding in man.

    Ah, there’s your confusion! A rational morality is not “grounded in man”, it is grounded in nature and in reality, in the truth of how things ARE. Humans don’t decide how things are; they observe them; they discover them; they find them; they don’t create them. Morality is grounded in how things are, not in us.

    If you look at the definition of Harm I provided @46, you’ll see that these all address facts, not feelings.

    And before you stumble into the pit of thinking that human decisions about how reality is make our morality untenable, you should remember that everything we think we know about deities also passes through the hands of humans who decide how to interpret things they think came from a deity.

    Except for those humans who have had actual, direct communion with a deity, all other humans are less certain of deistic commands than they are of the demands of reality. The advantage of rational morality is that it is sensible to any reasonably intelligent human; theistic morality can be quirky and illogical and the theistic advocate merely shrugs their shoulders.

    I am a man, and so I have an equal veto of every “ought” so-called if it comes from man.

    Who says so? You have an equal SAY, but no one has a veto except over their private actions. If the “ought” actually comes FROM man, I’d agree. But if the ought is from reality, then you don’t have a veto except over your private actions. Once your actions harm others, they have a say in your conduct.

    Says who? Reality does. If anyone can do something, then everyone can do the same. If there’s disagreement about what is right then the community has to settle it, and that’s what debate and consensus is about. If a person cannot live with the communal decision, then they need to decide what THEY are going to do (give in, move away, etc.). Interestingly, invoking a deity CHANGES NOTHING except the source of the ‘ought’; how people handle disagreement remains essentially the same.

    Who says [Hitler] was wrong???

    Reality says Hitler was wrong. As before, if any person has the right to decide to harm others, anyone can make the same decision and then no one is safe. Safety is a necessity; so the community decides what the proper course of action is. If a Hitler disagrees, that’s his right. If a Hitler disobeys, the community has the right (by necessity) to stop him and his followers by whatever means are necessary.

    As before, whether the community bases their decision on a deity’s command or on how things are, the decision is made and enforced essentially the same way.

    sean s.

  73. 73
    Brent says:

    Well, now at least you’ve made it clear that you really wish to borrow from my worldview to make your own seem rational. “REALITY”!!!??? I worship God, and you Reality. No wonder it’s hard for you to see the difference.

    But oh! There is a problem. When I call you out on your worship of the deity Reality, you’ll just say, “No. I only mean by that the total sum of experience.” But when we drill down further, by that you’ll mean we are to take that as how man interprets things as they are presented to him. But at least two things will start screaming for attention at that point.

    One, part of the thing that man has interpreted about how things, life, is presented to him, is that he has an innate sense of what is right and wrong; not only a desire for one thing or another, but something that tells him he ought to do one and not the other. That IS one of the things man has interpreted from things as presented to him; not only that he may have several desires at any given moment, but that he has an internal “pressure” telling him that one of them is the “right”, “proper”, and “good” thing to do. THIS is what we are talking about. And right, proper, and good all presuppose an objective standard, and is how Plato reasoned to the Good: There must be an ultimate good toward which goodness points, or from which we can derive good.

    And further, reality as presented to us includes that man has always believed there is a reality outside himself, and transcends himself. Why would you (if you do . . . and I think you do) deny THAT reality that has presented itself to man? Now this could be a tricky point to answer, for if you say, “Well, man is superstitious,” then it is the same superstitious man that only thinks he should adhere to agreed upon “oughts”. When we acknowledge that, it’s anarchy.

    Perhaps you’ll say that would never happen, for anarchy doesn’t benefit us. Maybe you’re right. Maybe it wouldn’t happen, but it will be because, no matter your irrational theory about the source of morality, there still actually exists a morality that stems from a transcendent Good. Logically speaking, there is nothing from within your framework to rationally conclude anarchy isn’t good. But you get the benefit from the fact that people accept morality as an objective standard, and not a subjective one, so you never have to answer for your mistake. Society will crumble under the weight of your philosophy, and is in the process of doing so, but it takes time for this poisonous yeast to permeate the dough — dough which still has enough sense to know for the most part that our inner senses are part of things as presented to us; it is tough for the yeast to rip out common sense and replace it with uncommon nonsense. Anyway, I mean to say only that you won’t have to ultimately answer for your mistake in your own lifetime, but unless the tide is turned and the current anti-philosophy which you preach is pushed back, someone, everyone, will have to answer for it in the future.

    And two, and this will certainly dovetail with the above, it is still Man at the end of the day. If Reality is just how man interprets things as they are presented to him, and that is where “objective” morality comes from, it is still MAN that is doing the interpreting. In your attempt to break out, you’re still firmly within man’s camp. It is only man and his whims that define morality, which means that it changes to suit us, rather than us being called upon to bow to it. Man governs morality. Period. Morality does not govern man. Full stop.

    And here you are wildly contradicting yourself. When you say, paraphrasing, “Well, even if morality is based in some direct communication from a deity it is still by now all gummed up and uncertain because it has passed through man’s hands, his interpretations, etc.” are you attempting humor? So let’s get this straight: We are supposed to be able to trust man’s interpretations of “reality as presented to him” as long as that means nothing superstitious about a reality outside ourselves, but we are not to trust man’s interpretations of “reality as presented to him” if it does include anything about a reality outside himself. In the former case, we can trust ourselves to come up with a solid morality, as you think we have, but in the latter we cannot trust ourselves to maintain an objective morality that we started off with. It is the same MAN, Sean. Make up your mind. You have no basis to discount man’s trustworthiness in the one case over the other. In your view, man’s hands only get dirty, and morality more uncertain, when they meddle with religion! Well, if you stick to that, then it is the same man that has passed down, in your view, a made-up morality. We may be more secular than ever today, but if morality has been passed down from millennia past, then it is from one and the same, Man! Man that used to be thoroughly religious! Are we “trustworthy” or not? If yes, then so is the testimony about reality outside ourselves, and that morality is from a transcendent source. If we are not trustworthy, then, in your view, our current morality is not to be trusted and adhered to because it was untrustworthy man that came up with it. Brother! In the one case we start with a transcendent objective standard but clumsy man can’t keep it straight enough to do us any good, but in the other we start from scratch and somehow, man, despite being clumsy, is doing a bang-up job of not only creating but maintaining a worthy “standard”. That’s just rich!

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    A starter on the IS-OUGHT gap in a nutshell (cf. here on in context and here in context).

    As a core first issue, is it patently wrong to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and kill a young child on its way home from school? Such a child has neither strength nor eloquence to enforce “might and manipulation make so-called right.” And, at some point, we are all in that position, or even more vulnerable, in the womb. (Also, sadly, this is not a hypothetical.)

    The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought, or else whether our hearts, minds and consciences delude us on this matter. As, ever so many advocates of evolutionary materialism argue or imply.

    If the latter, we have let general delusion loose in our interior lives, and face self-referential absurdity and incoherence. (Indeed, an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusional words; this is a case of how radical skepticism, whether global or arbitrarily selective, leads to self-refuting utter breakdown of rationality. Such is usually not obvious when one is on the rhetorical defensive but comes out as soon as it is realised that one’s implied worldview must also be grounded. Cf. discussion here on, part of context for the first linked. Hyperskepticism undermines rationality and undercuts itself through self-falsification.)

    We have every good reason to acknowledge that OUGHT is real and binding.

    But, how can such be grounded?

    Post Hume and his “surpriz’d” argument, only at world-foundation level.

    That is, at base/root level, there must be an IS that grounds OUGHT, an IS that is inherently moral and properly and adequately supports OUGHT.

    There is but one serious candidate, after centuries of debates, as can be seen from comparative difficulties analysis of alternatives.

    Namely, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    One way to see this is to echo Boethius on the challenge of good vs evil in his Consolation of Philosophy as he faced unjust sentence of death to get rid of a roadblock to powerful and oppressive courtiers after the fall of the Western Roman empire: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?”

    In short, is there fairness, or justice, or a duty of care to respect the truth, the right and rights? If yes obtains for any of these in any context, we face the implications of being under the moral government of OUGHT, highlighting the foundational nature of the good and implying that evil is not a thing in itself but the frustration, privation or perversion of the good out of its proper purpose or end.

    That, too, is why the 2nd paragraph of the US DoI (charter of modern liberty and democracy) is profoundly right:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . .

    There are foundational truths that may only be denied on pain of patent absurdity, and being under moral government of ought is one of them. With, what that implies about the root of reality.

    Those are the matches we are so often, so thoughtlessly playing with today.

    We need to think hard about what might get burned.

    KF

    PS: Further discussion here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....eat-being/

  75. 75
    JimFit says:

    Sean Samis

    Since it is JimFit’s position that his God’s love is UNCONDITIONAL, that means that his God’s love may be defined as “an unconditionally tender, passionate affection for another person.” Let’s give that some thought…

    Unconditional love means that there is no reason to love you and that i love you no matter what you did to me even if you are my enemy, i don’t understand why it is so diffult for you to accept unconditional love. Do you really need a reason to love someone?

    I actually laughed when I read this! Seversky @ 67 got to this first:

    Seversky is wrong because he doesn’t understand quantum mechanics.

    Things that do not exist cannot be measured. Measurement can only be made on things that exist. Therefore, things that can be measured ALREADY exist.

    Wrong, when matter is measured it behaves like matter, when matter is not measured it doesn’t exist,for that reason consciousness plays a central role to reality.

    Watch the double slit experiement to understand.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc

    No. Mathematical formulas DESCRIBE these waves, but the waves exist as variations of forces. Forces exist. Matter and energy (which are the same things) are manifestations of forces.

    Wrong, the wave function is not a thing nor a force, a wave function is a mathematical function that describes a physical system in quantum mechanics when there is no measurement. Reality, locality, causality, continuity, and determinism doesn’t exist when matter is not measured.

  76. 76
    sean samis says:

    To Brent, kairosfocus, JimFit;

    Brent @73:

    I worship God, and you Reality.

    I worship nothing and no one. I will borrow any good idea, even one from you.

    you’ll just say, … you’ll mean … if you say … Perhaps you’ll say … etc.

    Really, this entire comment seems to be a schizophrenic argument you are having with yourself. I don’t want to intrude in it. Let me know if you want me to comment on something.

    But a piece of advice, Brent: spend less time trying to figure out what I’m going to say and just say what you mean. You have no idea what I’m going to say anyway so leave that to me.

    kairosfocus @74:

    The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought, …

    This phrase is too vague for me to make sense of. Perhaps you could clarify?

    I would say to your hypothetical situation that the conduct described is immoral because it is harmful to the child and lacks justification or necessity. The child’s lack of strength or eloquence is irrelevant.

    That is, at base/root level, there must be an IS that grounds OUGHT, …

    This is another strange phrase—at least to me—but I take it to mean that moral imperatives must be grounded in actual facts. I agree with that.

    …an IS that is inherently moral and properly and adequately supports OUGHT.

    Reality needs no inherent moral valence to support the “ought”; that ‘it is’ suffices; it is sufficient that reality is. Truth is the basis of the moral imperative.

    There is but one serious candidate, … Namely, the inherently good Creator-God, …

    A God could only suffice in this if this God engages every person in direct, unmediated, fully expressed communication. For me, this has never happened, and I suspect few people will claim it has for them. Absent that, no God’s commands are distinct from the commands of other humans; if no human has the standing to provide reliable moral commands, neither has any God who does not directly communicate his clearly intended commands to each and every one of us.

    Boethius on the challenge of good vs evil …

    To Boethius: whence evil if there is no God? The good can be seen in those things that do us no harm.

    If all things are made by God, then evil is among them.

    …is there fairness, or justice, or a duty of care to respect the truth, the right and rights? If yes obtains for any of these in any context, we face the implications of being under the moral government of OUGHT, …

    Is this your definition of “being under the moral government of OUGHT?”

    … the foundational nature of the good and implying that evil is not a thing in itself but the frustration, privation or perversion of the good out of its proper purpose or end.

    This relationship can be reversed: evil can be foundational, good could be the absence of evil.

    There are foundational truths that may only be denied on pain of patent absurdity, …

    I agree that there are truths we deny at our peril, that morality cannot be found without reference to reality. It is the “how” of that finding that we disagree on, I think.

    JimFit @75:

    Unconditional love means that there is no reason to love you and that i love you no matter what you did to me even if you are my enemy, i don’t understand why it is so diffult for you to accept unconditional love.

    I have no difficulties accepting unconditional love, I’ve just been trying to get you to tell me what you think it means. You’re coming closer now.

    Do you really need a reason to love someone?

    There usually IS a reason, whether the reason is a necessity or not is unclear. It’s one of those chicken-and-egg questions.

    I do agree that I’d need a reason to NOT LOVE someone.

    … but if all love is unconditional, the phrase unconditional love is redundant, so I am left wondering what you mean by this redundant phrase …

    …when matter is not measured it doesn’t exist,for that reason consciousness plays a central role to reality.

    If matter does not exist until it’s measured, there’s nothing to measure; there’s nothing to be consciously aware of.

    Watch the double slit experiement to understand.

    With regard to the question of matter being created by measurement, the double-slit experiment is irrelevant. It is an experiment on things that actually exist prior to the experiment. No matter is created by this experiment.

    Wrong, the wave function is not a thing nor a force, a wave function is a mathematical function that describes a physical system in quantum mechanics when there is no measurement.

    So how does one measure a “mathematical function”? You make no sense.

    JimFit, you know nothing.
    With a nod to Ygritte.

    sean s.

  77. 77
    Brent says:

    Sean,

    You could have taken the opportunity to say what it is you would have said to me, correcting anything I got wrong, but didn’t. Discussion in this type of forum is sometimes quite difficult to move along, and so I find it helpful to assume answers from time to time. If I’ve put incorrect words in your mouth, just say so.

  78. 78
    sean samis says:

    Brent;

    Don’t try to put words in my mouth or anyone else’s. If you are tempted to do so, convert it to a question. Questions are fair. It’s things like putting words into the mouths of others and the side-conversations about it that delay discussions.

    You want to move the discussion along? Discuss. Tell us what you think. Ask us questions. Answer or at least acknowledge questions from others. Respond to what others write. Express assumptions as assumptions.

    Do unto others what you would want them to do unto you.

    sean s.

  79. 79
    Brent says:

    I WAS doing unto others as I would have them do unto me. I don’t mind at all if someone assumes what my answers would be in a discussion (esp. in this type of forum), as long as they don’t go on to act as if I had actually stated what they assumed once I correct them, IF they need correction.

    It’s sounding as if you don’t think I need correction, but are taking this occasion as a way out. Is that correct?

    What did you mean by reality? Aren’t you obfuscating your position by making it, purposely or not, look like you are grounding morality outside of man’s whims by saying reality, when in fact reality could only be described as man’s interpretation of the world as presented to his senses? Fallible man?

  80. 80
    sean samis says:

    Brent @79:

    Reality is a term I use to refer to those things that exist or occur whether we know about them or not. When scientists or explorers refer to their discoveries they use that term because those things were there before the scientist or the explorer stumbled upon them.

    Whim refers to those things we want or prefer, even transiently. Reality is not whimsical.

    Morality is grounded in Reality, in what really is. Our whims have no place in this.

    …when in fact reality could only be described as man’s interpretation of the world as presented to his senses? Fallible man?

    As I wrote, Reality is independent of our interpretations of it. You point out a real and significant problem: humans are fallible; how can we trust what they say they found?

    There are two answers to this:

    1. This problem exists even if we claim our Morality comes from a god. How can we trust fallible humans to remove all whim, personal preference, prejudice, or bias out of their descriptions of what they tell us their god commands us to do?

    If fallible humans cannot be trusted to accurately describe reality, they cannot be trusted to accurately describe deistic commands.

    2. The problem can only be mitigated by the ability of fallible individuals to verify, replicate, or confirm for themselves reports by other fallible humans.

    This is why rational persons (especially scientists) are required to publish the bases of their claims so others may check them out. This is not perfect, but it tends toward perfection.

    This is why rational persons are expected to construct rational arguments to justify their claims; arguments which others can examine and critique. This is not perfect either, but it tends over time to weed-out the nonsense.

    For religious claims, where a fallible human claims their god commands certain behavior, individual reasoning cannot go far in validating the prophet’s claims. If the claims seem to defy reason, we are told that “God’s ways are mysterious” or something to that effect. Validation by the individual is foreclosed. We are required to proceed on trust of the fallible prophet or else.

    Therefore, with regards to religious claims, unless the individual has a direct, personal, and clear conversation with their god all religious claims must be treated as suspect because they cannot otherwise be verified.

    In summary: to the extent that whim poisons reason, it is far, far more toxic to religion.

    sean s.

  81. 81
    Brent says:

    Sean,

    Thank you. Nice response. I’ll get back to you later.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    I put on the table two cases, one generic the other particular (and unfortunately very much real world and I believe unsolved to this day) but with broad import:

    1: What is a “right,” and why should — ought — others be inclined to respect such?

    2: Is it so, that we OUGHT not to kidnap, bind, gag, indecently sexually assault and kill a young child on its way from school in order to indulge one’s sexual pleasures and aggressive impulses? Why or why not?

    3: More generally, what is the significance for modern liberty and democracy of the following expanded citation from Hooker made by Locke in his 2nd Treatise on Gov’t Ch 2 Sec 5, given onward concepts in the US DoI of 1776 and the onward US Constitution that sought to deliver on the freshly framed reformed govt envisioned in that DoI:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

    4: What then could asking as to whether we are responsibly free, morally governed beings imply for law. government, the civil peace of justice, and for what grounds them at world-roots level?

    5: Given this from Plato:

    Ath. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them.

    . . . what is liable to happen as our civilisation increasingly walks away from Judaeo-Christian- rooted ethical theism, and instead tries to build law, government and society on an evolutionary materialist frame, why?

    KF

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    Allow me to cite from the 2nd paragraph of the US DoI 1776:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . .

    Also, the Dutch DoI of 1581, giving a key historical context:

    . . . a prince is constituted by God to be ruler of a people, to defend them from oppression and violence as the shepherd his sheep; and whereas God did not create the people slaves to their prince, to obey his commands, whether right or wrong, but rather the prince for the sake of the subjects (without which he could be no prince), to govern them according to equity, to love and support them as a father his children or a shepherd his flock, and even at the hazard of life to defend and preserve them. And when he does not behave thus, but, on the contrary, oppresses them, seeking opportunities to infringe their ancient customs and privileges . . . then he is no longer a prince, but a tyrant, and the subjects are to consider him in no other view . . . This is the only method left for subjects whose humble petitions and remonstrances could never soften their prince or dissuade him from his tyrannical proceedings; and this is what the law of nature dictates for the defense of liberty, which we ought to transmit to posterity, even at the hazard of our lives. . . . . So, having no hope of reconciliation, and finding no other remedy, we have, agreeable to the law of nature in our own defense, and for maintaining the rights, privileges, and liberties of our countrymen, wives, and children, and latest posterity from being enslaved by the Spaniards, been constrained to renounce allegiance to the King of Spain, and pursue such methods as appear to us most likely to secure our ancient liberties and privileges.

    Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England 1765, is also relevant:

    Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his creator, for he is entirely a dependent being . . . consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his maker’s will. This will of his maker is called the law of nature. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws . . . These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the creator himself in all his dispensations conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions. [–> note the direct echo of Locke and Hooker] Such among others are these principles: that we should live honestly [NB: cf. Exod. 20:15 – 16], should hurt nobody [NB: cf. Rom 13:8 – 10], and should render to every one his due [NB: cf. Rom 13:6 – 7 & Exod. 20:15]; to which three general precepts Justinian [1: a Juris praecepta sunt hace, honeste vivere. alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. Inst, 1. 1. 3] has reduced the whole doctrine of law [and, Corpus Juris, Justinian’s Christianised precis and pruning of perhaps 1,000 years of Roman jurisprudence, in turn is the foundation of law for much of Europe].

    Here, the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary on liberty is illuminating:

    Liberty

    LIB’ERTY, noun [Latin libertas, from liber, free.]

    1. Freedom from restraint, in a general sense, and applicable to the body, or to the will or mind. The body is at liberty when not confined; the will or mind is at liberty when not checked or controlled. A man enjoys liberty when no physical force operates to restrain his actions or volitions.

    2. Natural liberty consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state of exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. This liberty is abridged by the establishment of government.

    3. Civil liberty is the liberty of men in a state of society, or natural liberty so far only abridged and restrained, as is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. A restraint of natural liberty not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression. civil liberty is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty

    The liberty of one depends not so much on the removal of all restraint from him, as on the due restraint upon the liberty of others.

    In this sentence, the latter word liberty denotes natural liberty

    4. Political liberty is sometimes used as synonymous with civil liberty But it more properly designates the liberty of a nation, the freedom of a nation or state from all unjust abridgment of its rights and independence by another nation. Hence we often speak of the political liberties of Europe, or the nations of Europe.

    5. Religious liberty is the free right of adopting and enjoying opinions on religious subjects, and of worshiping the Supreme Being according to the dictates of conscience, without external control.

    6. liberty in metaphysics, as opposed to necessity, is the power of an agent to do or forbear any particular action, according to the determination or thought of the mind, by which either is preferred to the other.

    Freedom of the will; exemption from compulsion or restraint in willing or volition.

    7. Privilege; exemption; immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant; with a plural. Thus we speak of the liberties of the commercial cities of Europe.

    Similarly, the Congressional national call for solemn assembly and prayer that preceded the US DoI, May 1776 has somewhat to say:

    May 1776 [over the name of John Hancock, first signer of the US Declaration of Independence] : In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity.. . . Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; . . . that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our officers and soldiers with invincible fortitude, to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the continental arms, by sea and land, with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil rulers, and the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions; to preserve and strengthen their union, to inspire them with an ardent, disinterested love of their country; to give wisdom and stability to their counsels; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the rights of America on the most honourable and permanent basis—That he would be graciously pleased to bless all his people in these colonies with health and plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible patriotism, and of pure undefiled religion, may universally prevail; and this continent be speedily restored to the blessings of peace and liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and abstain from servile labour on the said day.

    Then, in such light, the 1778 articles of confederation and perpetual union:

    And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union. Know Ye that we the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to us given for that purpose, do by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union . . . . In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands in Congress. Done at Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight, and in the Third Year of the independence of America.

    As well, the grand statement structure of the US Constitution, 1787:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America . . . . [Main Body, Arts I – VII] . . . . Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth. In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. . . . . [AMENDMENTS].

    That is, the whole context of the US Constitution is shaped by the framework of independence of the USA and it sets out to be a more successful delivery of reformed government as envisioned in that declaration, years since its assertion being acknowledged. It is further evident that the context is that of the reformation era, double covenant vision of nationhood under God and limited just government under God by the consent of the governed. A key marker of this is the covenantal, theological reference to the blessings of liberty that appears in the preamble of said instrument (which provides a brief context and rationale in such a document), as well as of course the echo of Rom 1:1 – 5 in the way dates are given.

    It is worth noting here the summary recently made by the Library of Congress of the US in presenting a display of founding era documents:

    The Continental-Confederation Congress, a legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, contained an extraordinary number of deeply religious men . . . both the legislators and the public considered it appropriate for the national government to promote a nondenominational, nonpolemical Christianity . . . . Congress was guided by “covenant theology,” a Reformation doctrine especially dear to New England Puritans, which held that God bound himself in an agreement with a nation and its people . . . The first national government of the United States, was convinced that the “public prosperity” of a society depended on the vitality of its religion. Nothing less than a “spirit of universal reformation among all ranks and degrees of our citizens,” Congress declared to the American people, would “make us a holy, that so we may be a happy people.”

    I know, such a perspective and such sources are generally unfamiliar today, but I think some consideration will go a long way to resolving many confusions, misunderstandings and distortions that have developed and which have become entrenched.

    KF

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    Based on this, perhaps we could revisit 74:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-571164

    74 kairosfocus July 7, 2015 at 3:43 am

    SS:

    A starter on the IS-OUGHT gap in a nutshell (cf. here on in context and here in context).

    As a core first issue, is it patently wrong to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and kill a young child on its way home from school? Such a child has neither strength nor eloquence to enforce “might and manipulation make so-called right.” And, at some point, we are all in that position, or even more vulnerable, in the womb. (Also, sadly, this is not a hypothetical.)

    The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought, or else whether our hearts, minds and consciences delude us on this matter. As, ever so many advocates of evolutionary materialism argue or imply.

    If the latter, we have let general delusion loose in our interior lives, and face self-referential absurdity and incoherence. (Indeed, an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusional words; this is a case of how radical skepticism, whether global or arbitrarily selective, leads to self-refuting utter breakdown of rationality. Such is usually not obvious when one is on the rhetorical defensive but comes out as soon as it is realised that one’s implied worldview must also be grounded. Cf. discussion here on, part of context for the first linked. Hyperskepticism undermines rationality and undercuts itself through self-falsification.)

    We have every good reason to acknowledge that OUGHT is real and binding.

    But, how can such be grounded?

    Post Hume and his “surpriz’d” argument, only at world-foundation level.

    That is, at base/root level, there must be an IS that grounds OUGHT, an IS that is inherently moral and properly and adequately supports OUGHT . . .

    KF

  85. 85
    sean samis says:

    kairosfocus;

    Your three responses disappoint. You do not respond to what I wrote but merely repost some of the questions I answered @76 with a couple of new ones.

    And you give me some reading assignments.

    You are not the Master; neither am I.
    I am not the student; neither are you.

    If my responses to you @76 are unworthy of a response, for what reason would I respond to you?

    sean s.

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    SS, in 76 you asked for a clarification on the IS-OUGHT issue as I posed at 74, your first question and the pivotal one without which nothing further can be resolved; admittedly, you need now to say a right is R and it is or is not binding in the case of that murdered abused child because of X. I therefore took time to step by step provide same, starting with questions on generic and specific cases that would allow clarifying oughtness in the context of rights and duties; connecting also to the historically highly relevant context of the origin of modern liberty and democratic gov’t, which pivoted on the duty of the state to acknowledge and protect the rights of the governed. Only, to see what looks a lot like a clever, subtly dismissive evasion, especially as the only way we may interact is by — reading (so “reading assignments” is loaded mischaracterisation). So, I responded to your Q1, you dismiss it as a refusal to respond (but without this one clarified how do we go beyond?), and an excuse to be further unresponsive. That speaks sad volumes. I hope that you will reconsider. KF

    PS: Note your 76:

    >> [KF:] The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought, …

    [SS:] This phrase is too vague for me to make sense of. Perhaps you could clarify? . . . >>

    Then, my 82:

    >>I put on the table two cases, one generic the other particular (and unfortunately very much real world and I believe unsolved to this day) but with broad import:

    1: What is a “right,” and why should — ought — others be inclined to respect such?

    2: Is it so, that we OUGHT not to kidnap, bind, gag, indecently sexually assault and kill a young child on its way from school in order to indulge one’s sexual pleasures and aggressive impulses? Why or why not?

    3: More generally, what is the significance for modern liberty and democracy of the following expanded citation from Hooker made by Locke in his 2nd Treatise on Gov’t Ch 2 Sec 5, given onward concepts in the US DoI of 1776 and the onward US Constitution that sought to deliver on the freshly framed reformed govt envisioned in that DoI:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

    4: What then could asking as to whether we are responsibly free, morally governed beings imply for law. government, the civil peace of justice, and for what grounds them at world-roots level? . . . >>

    PPS: Re 3 note my onward citation.

  87. 87
    sean samis says:

    kairosfocus @86:

    … you need now to say a right is R and it is or is not binding in the case of that murdered abused child because of X.

    I answered this @76:

    I would say to your hypothetical situation that the conduct described is immoral because it is harmful to the child and lacks justification or necessity. The child’s lack of strength or eloquence is irrelevant.

    1: What is a “right,” and why should — ought — others be inclined to respect such?

    A right is a class of actions that individuals are entitled to engage in unless the community identifies a legitimate and reasoned purpose to limit or ban those actions. Only legitimate reasons regarding mitigation or prevention of actual, unjustified harms to other persons qualify as legitimate reasons to limit or ban behaviors.

    Your cite from Locke (in 3) tells us why; we don’t want to be harmed so we must not (ought not) harm others. We cannot expect to do X and then ban others from doing the same. If X is harmful to others, we ought not to do X.

    2: Is it so, that we OUGHT not to kidnap, bind, gag, indecently sexually assault and kill a young child on its way from school in order to indulge one’s sexual pleasures and aggressive impulses? Why or why not?

    We ought not. Because this behavior harms the child, because our personal preferences or self-gratification cannot justify such behaviors. I think we’ve made this one clear.

    The expanded citation from Hooker made by Locke (in 3) echoes my sentiment. Notice that Locke finds these duties in nature; no deity is required.

    4: What then could asking as to whether we are responsibly free, morally governed beings imply for law. government, the civil peace of justice, and for what grounds them at world-roots level? . . .

    In brief, persons are free to engage in any activity which does not impose a harm on other persons. I can give you a definition of harm if you need it.

    sean s.

  88. 88
    Brent says:

    Reality is a term I use to refer to those things that exist or occur whether we know about them or not. When scientists or explorers refer to their discoveries they use that term because those things were there before the scientist or the explorer stumbled upon them.

    That’s fine.

    Whim refers to those things we want or prefer, even transiently. Reality is not whimsical.

    Alright . . . but, our whims are also a part of reality . . . ! Therefore, part of reality IS whimsical.

    Morality is grounded in Reality, in what really is. Our whims have no place in this.

    I’ll agree that morality is grounded in reality, but one outside of ourselves as I’ve hinted already, which is necessarily the case. In your definition of reality, I disagree that our whims have no place in this.

    I had written:

    …when in fact reality could only be described as man’s interpretation of the world as presented to his senses? Fallible man?

    And you replied:

    As I wrote, Reality is independent of our interpretations of it.

    I agree with this. It means that things we may think are not real or true actually are, or vice-versa. And this means that you will not be able to show how my assumptions above were not exactly correct. We can only access that “reality” which we have somehow discovered, and, interpreted. There is no difference with what I had said already whatsoever. And so, my points about how this cannot possibly lead to/result in an objective morality stand.

    You point out a real and significant problem: humans are fallible; how can we trust what they say they found?

    There are two answers to this:

    1. This problem exists even if we claim our Morality comes from a god. How can we trust fallible humans to remove all whim, personal preference, prejudice, or bias out of their descriptions of what they tell us their god commands us to do?

    If fallible humans cannot be trusted to accurately describe reality, they cannot be trusted to accurately describe deistic commands.

    Yes. This problem certainly applies to my own position as well, but you don’t fully understand my position and so it doesn’t work quite like you seem to think. I’ll deal with it below.

    2. The problem can only be mitigated by the ability of fallible individuals to verify, replicate, or confirm for themselves reports by other fallible humans.

    Here, things are starting to really diverge significantly. The problem can only be mitigated in this way in your account of morality, not mine.

    This is why rational persons (especially scientists) are required to publish the bases of their claims so others may check them out. This is not perfect, but it tends toward perfection.

    “Perfect”? “Tends toward perfection”? What standard are you referring to? Reality? If your definition of reality is what is, and reality is the standard, then whatever is is the standard. But whatever is includes what we call both good and bad. Clearly, if whatever is includes both what we normally call good or bad, we are using something outside of whatever is to make this assessment.

    This is why rational persons are expected to construct rational arguments to justify their claims; arguments which others can examine and critique. This is not perfect either, but it tends over time to weed-out the nonsense.

    As long as we keep in mind that rationality’s goal is truth, not good enough or that’ll do.

    For religious claims, where a fallible human claims their god commands certain behavior, individual reasoning cannot go far in validating the prophet’s claims. If the claims seem to defy reason, we are told that “God’s ways are mysterious” or something to that effect. Validation by the individual is foreclosed. We are required to proceed on trust of the fallible prophet or else.

    This is a great comment, but for the reason that it aptly illustrates the materialist’s inability to see the forest for the trees. Note, we are back to where we started. I had said to you from the first that you had it backwards, and you still do. The morality argument is an argument from morals to God. The claim isn’t that God gave certain commands to someone in the wilderness somewhere, but that since all men have an inherent “pressure” telling them what is right, good, and proper, and a conscience that won’t let them alone when they don’t obey that “pressure”, there is every rational reason to take that as a clue to the reality of an objective standard toward which these “pressures” point.

    The reason this illustrates the materialist’s blindness is that you clearly also assume that anything that God wishes to communicate with us needs necessarily to come through some grand medium, one usually quite arbitrary I might add. Yet, many believe that God is actually even willing to communicate through the press! Shocker, I know! But even this, I tell you, is too grand. For when God wants to make sure we get some message, He will write it on our hearts. He will intertwine it in our human nature. And claiming to see, they are blind, for men have been made to believe that what is “natural” is separate from God and couldn’t possibly tell us anything about God. It’s a nice racket though, for when you define any evidence for God as having to be some monumental miracle, and then rule out the possibility of miracles a-priori, well . . .

    Otherwise, did you have something specific in mind when you said: “If the claims seem to defy reason, we are told that “God’s ways are mysterious” or something to that effect.”

    Therefore, with regards to religious claims, unless the individual has a direct, personal, and clear conversation with their god all religious claims must be treated as suspect because they cannot otherwise be verified.

    And once you kindly put the horse back in front of the cart this problem goes away.

    In summary: to the extent that whim poisons reason, it is far, far more toxic to religion.

    I don’t think whim poisons reason, but minus an objective and transcendent Good from which to get our bearings, reason poisons whim, and everything else.

    I’m sorry, but I’m just too tired to continue this book tonight. I’ll leave off here for now, though there are more things I’d like to say.
    B.

  89. 89
    sean samis says:

    Brent @88:

    I’ll agree that morality is grounded in reality, but one outside of ourselves as I’ve hinted already, which is necessarily the case.

    I agree with this, I think. “Outside of ourselves” should mean that Reality is not part of us, but that we are part of it. Reality is not separate from us anymore than my hand is separate from me.

    In your definition of reality, I disagree that our whims have no place in this.

    In my definition of reality, whim has no place. If you think whim has a place in the proper definition of reality, you’ll have to explain that. After reading your entire comment, I still don’t get what you’re saying here.

    …things we may think are not real or true actually are, or vice-versa.

    Agreed.

    And this means that you will not be able to show how my assumptions above were not exactly correct.

    Agreed. It also means that you cannot show my assumptions are not exactly correct, even tho’ they differ from yours.

    We can only access that “reality” which we have somehow discovered, and, interpreted.

    Almost. We can access any part of reality within our ability to do so. We only know about the parts we have already discovered. We will discover more.

    There is no difference with what I had said already whatsoever. And so, my points about how this cannot possibly lead to/result in an objective morality stand.

    Oh, agreed. But this also applies to our apprehension of deities. Since we cannot know them better than we know reality, belief in deities cannot lead to an objective moral stand.

    “Perfect”? “Tends toward perfection”? What standard are you referring to? Reality? If your definition of reality is what is, and reality is the standard, then whatever is is the standard.

    Perfection would be an error-free understanding of Reality. The scientific method tends to self-correct, to remove errors. This constitutes “tending toward perfection”. Please notice I do not think perfection would ever be achieved.

    But whatever is includes what we call both good and bad. Clearly, if whatever is includes both what we normally call good or bad, we are using something outside of whatever is to make this assesment.

    What we call “good or bad” is not absolute. A lion catching a deer is “good” for the lion and “bad” for the deer. Reality is about what is or what happens; judgements about things are merely a subset of Reality. So we don’t need anything “outside Reality” to make this assessment. What is True is true, both the good and the bad.

    As long as we keep in mind that rationality’s goal is truth, not good enough or that’ll do.

    Agreed. The Goal is Truth.

    For when God wants to make sure we get some message, He will write it on our hearts. He will intertwine it in our human nature.

    At this point, I get to turn your words against you. Your well-written reply illustrates the theist’s blindness.

    Your position might be true, but why would I believe it? People claiming God has written things on their hearts or entwined things into our nature tell us to behave in contradictory ways. It is as if God is writing wildly different things on different hearts.

    You tell a nice story, but how do I validate it? Am I supposed to just trust you? Sorry Brent, I’m sure you’re a nice guy, but that boat don’t float.

    And once you kindly put the horse back in front of the cart this problem goes away.

    … but only if God actually speaks directly to you. He’s never spoken to me; I know there are few who actually claim to have had a conversation with him, and none who can make that claim credible.

    I don’t think whim poisons reason, but minus an objective and transcendent Good from which to get our bearings, reason poisons whim, and everything else.

    Odd thought, that. So you think we should just follow our whims? I’m pretty sure kairosfocus (and others) will not agree. Charlie Manson followed his whims, as did Ted Bundy and Jeff Dahmer.

    I’m sure I’ve misunderstood this thought.

    I’ll leave off here for now, though there are more things I’d like to say.

    I am interested in your further comments.

    sean s.

  90. 90
    sean samis says:

    Brent;

    After posting my last comment (#89) I took a walk out to the lake. While there a thought occurred to me; a comment to make to you that I think I should not let pass.

    In #88, you wrote that “For when God wants to make sure we get some message, He will write it on our hearts. He will intertwine it in our human nature.

    Let’s take that as a given for a moment.

    If true, that would mean that homosexuality or being transgendered would be gifts of God and unreproachable. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons all report that their natures are entwined into their very beings. Therefore, these must be gifts from God.

    You could reply that these persons have misunderstood what God wrote on their hearts or entwined in their natures, but that would be fatal your position.

    You would be saying that, “when God wants to make sure we get some message, He will write it on our hearts or He will intertwine it in our human nature,” but we cannot trust our own sense of those gifts.

    You’d be telling us we need to turn to other fallible humans to tell us what God wrote or entwined; these mere humans would be needed to interpret God’s intent for us.

    Again, we’d be left with no way to know what God intends except to trust the untrustworthy claims of other fallible humans.

    sean s.

  91. 91
    Mung says:

    We cannot expect to do X and then ban others from doing the same.

    Why not?

  92. 92
    JimFit says:

    sean

    I have no difficulties accepting unconditional love, I’ve just been trying to get you to tell me what you think it means. You’re coming closer now.

    Well if you don’t accept unconditional love its because you haven’t been loved like that. Your argument is not based on logic or anywhere else, it is just an opinion.

    There usually IS a reason, whether the reason is a necessity or not is unclear. It’s one of those chicken-and-egg questions.

    If there is a reason its not unconditional love.

    … but if all love is unconditional, the phrase unconditional love is redundant, so I am left wondering what you mean by this redundant phrase …

    Not all love is unconditional, i may love you because you give me money, there are different kinds of love, we are talking about unconditional love. Unconditional love precedes reason.

    If matter does not exist until it’s measured, there’s nothing to measure; there’s nothing to be consciously aware of.

    The figures on the experiment when we don’t measure matter and we measure the behavior of matter when its not observered result when we pull a line that separates e.g. the odds at 50%. Probabilities from 0% to 100% are throughout the room, but if you take the positions of the space are just 50% and associations with lines derived those shapes. The shapes are two-dimensional or three-dimensional graphs of mathematical functions known as “probability distributions” (or sometimes “probability density functions”). These have wave shape. The graph does not prejudge the nature of what represents, as the parabolic trajectory of a projectile gun does not tell us everything about the projectile.

    What we see in the graphs is the wave behavior of matter, which is why the graphs of probability make waves (or shapes such as orbital images) rather than simple circles, but it is like smoke with fire.

    http://www.hitachi.com/rd/port.....fig2_l.jpg

    This image shows a double-slit experiment, where we fire particles and we expect to see the “classic” particle behavior. However because of the very small particles and because we have no meter over the slots, the effect on the final screen is other than expected, “non-classical” ie wave behavior. Eventually they combined (by theoretical physicists) both behaviors into a quantum behavior, where the small quantum particles behave both “classical” and wave.

    With regard to the question of matter being created by measurement, the double-slit experiment is irrelevant. It is an experiment on things that actually exist prior to the experiment. No matter is created by this experiment.

    No its not a classic experiment as i explained above.

    So how does one measure a “mathematical function”? You make no sense.

    Neither the particle pattern or wave pattern exists until measurement. The wave result is not the wave function, it is another possibility from the wave function.

    Sean, you know nothing.

    Jim F.

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    I thank you for the onward response.

    However, unfortunately, in 87 you make an unpromising start:

    [KF:] … you need now to say a right is R and it is or is not binding in the case of that murdered abused child because of X.

    [SS:] I answered this @76:

    I would say to your hypothetical [–> nope, as stated, actual . . . and I think the murder is still unsolved] situation that the conduct described is immoral because it is harmful to the child and lacks justification or necessity. The child’s lack of strength or eloquence is irrelevant.

    [KF:} 1: What is a “right,” and why should — ought — others be inclined to respect such?

    [SS:] A right is a class of actions that individuals are entitled to engage in unless the community identifies a legitimate and reasoned purpose to limit or ban those actions. Only legitimate reasons regarding mitigation or prevention of actual, unjustified harms to other persons qualify as legitimate reasons to limit or ban behaviors.

    Your cite from Locke (in 3) tells us why; we don’t want to be harmed so we must not (ought not) harm others. We cannot expect to do X and then ban others from doing the same. If X is harmful to others, we ought not to do X.

    What happens here is that there is a circle, reflecting exactly the IS-OUGHT gap highlighted by Hume, that I have been pointing to all along. How does the community decide on legitimate and reasonable grounds, apart from might and manipulation make ‘right’? Apart from, we have the power and redefine words willy-nilly very much parallel to Lincoln’s example of declaring that the tail of a sheep is to be regarded as a leg (when patently it cannot function as a leg), or 1984’s 2 + 2 = whatever The Party needs it to be, Mr Smith (with instruments of ruthless torture or murder hovering in the background). Or do you want me to point to decrees that in effect out-lawed Jews as non=persons in Germany, or the Dred Scot decision that did much the same to blacks in the US in 1857.

    Including, in the end, per your response on no 2, what is harm, and what is a child that gives it such value that we ought not to harm it? Yes, you reflect the common testimony of conscience and decency here, but that still has not reached to grounding.

    Before going further, let me put on the table a definition of a right, just for reflection: a binding, morally grounded legitimate expectation and demand that one be respected and treated in accord with one’s value, nature, inherent dignity and status as a human being.

    Such includes first that one has a right to life as without life nothing else can be achieved to fulfill one’s nature, it includes respect for freedom of conscience, thought, speech/expression, innocent reputation, association and responsible freedom in general, as limited by the point that one’s freedom to swing one’s arm ends where the next person’s nose begins and the like. (Note the definition of liberty as cited from Webster’s 1828.)

    Such brings us to the pivotal importance for our civilisation at this time of the first two paragraphs of the US DoI, 1776:

    When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . . [And, I pause to caution you and others who support ever so many currently fashionable agendas, that the evident progressive subversion of law-making and courts, institutions and even language under false colours of law is clearly raising the issue of a long train of abuses and usurpations across our civilisation. If ruthless determined agendas and activists abusing influence and power make reform and freedom increasingly impossible, they will face utter loss of legitimacy and open the door to prospects I do not even want to contemplate. I only hope that remaining freedom of expression and respect for the ballot box will suffice to check the plain agenda to crush conscience and liberty before it is too late, especially with the wolves already howling at the door and racing to acquire nuclear weapons and means of delivery. The march of folly is at critical levels now. Don’t ever forget the grim lesson that the reason Syria and Egypt fell so readily to Mohammed’s successors was because Byzantium had lost credibility over freedom of conscience. And, for 1300 years since, the clear fact is that they jumped from frying pan into fire. I wonder if we understand the matches we are playing with.]

    Such a consideration also puts the IS-OUGHT gap squarely on the table, and so also . . .

    Hume’s Guillotine:

    In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surprised [orig; surpriz’d] to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, ’tis necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason. [Hume, David (1739). A Treatise of Human Nature. London: John Noon. p. 335.]

    This is a classic statement of the IS-OUGHT gap, and it is what I had in mind in saying: “The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought.”

    Notice, 74 begins as follows, with a statement and links to two discussions of significant length that set a context for all to follow (we are dealing with a major issue that cannot be responsibly addressed with a brief quip):

    SS:

    A starter on the IS-OUGHT gap in a nutshell (cf. here on in context and here in context).

    As a core first issue, is it patently wrong to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and kill a young child on its way home from school? Such a child has neither strength nor eloquence to enforce “might and manipulation make so-called right.” And, at some point, we are all in that position, or even more vulnerable, in the womb. (Also, sadly, this is not a hypothetical.)

    The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought, or else whether our hearts, minds and consciences delude us on this matter. As, ever so many advocates of evolutionary materialism argue or imply.

    If the latter, we have let general delusion loose in our interior lives, and face self-referential absurdity and incoherence. (Indeed, an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusional words; this is a case of how radical skepticism, whether global or arbitrarily selective, leads to self-refuting utter breakdown of rationality. Such is usually not obvious when one is on the rhetorical defensive but comes out as soon as it is realised that one’s implied worldview must also be grounded. Cf. discussion here on, part of context for the first linked. Hyperskepticism undermines rationality and undercuts itself through self-falsification.)

    We have every good reason to acknowledge that OUGHT is real and binding.

    But, how can such be grounded?

    Post Hume and his “surpriz’d” argument, only at world-foundation level.

    That is, at base/root level, there must be an IS that grounds OUGHT, an IS that is inherently moral and properly and adequately supports OUGHT.

    There is but one serious candidate, after centuries of debates, as can be seen from comparative difficulties analysis of alternatives.

    Namely, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    One way to see this is to echo Boethius on the challenge of good vs evil in his Consolation of Philosophy as he faced unjust sentence of death to get rid of a roadblock to powerful and oppressive courtiers after the fall of the Western Roman empire: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?”

    In short, is there fairness, or justice, or a duty of care to respect the truth, the right and rights? If yes obtains for any of these in any context, we face the implications of being under the moral government of OUGHT, highlighting the foundational nature of the good and implying that evil is not a thing in itself but the frustration, privation or perversion of the good out of its proper purpose or end . . .

    Notice, BTW, that there was an answer in anticipation to your later brief suggestion that God must have created evil, one that is longstanding and alluded to in part by Boethius. Evil is not a thing in itself but the twisting or frustration or privation of what is good, credibly reflecting the abuse of something else that grounds the greatest goods such as ability to love and be virtuous as a robot or pc cannot: responsible, rational freedom.

    Of course, I have to come back, this is but a first part, forgive a cliff hanger for the moment.

    KF

    PS: I again link the earlier UD discussion: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....eat-being/

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    NOTICE: Given the pattern of ruthless activists and abuses of law and language already manifest, as thread owner, I am gavelling discussion on the homosexualist agenda in this thread. Those who wish to carry such forward would be well advised to carry it elsewhere. There is more than enough substance in this thread to discuss already. KF

  95. 95
    Brent says:

    Sean @89,

    Outside of ourselves” should mean that Reality is not part of us, but that we are part of it. Reality is not separate from us anymore than my hand is separate from me.

    Of course I didn't quite mean that. I mean a transcendent reality that is separate from us, though knowable through some means. But I understand your idea of reality, and I'll refer to it as immediate reality. But in this immediate reality we are a part of, can we agree that man is the supreme being? Is there anything more awesome than man in the universe? I don't think so.

    In my definition of reality, whim has no place. If you think whim has a place in the proper definition of reality, you’ll have to explain that. After reading your entire comment, I still don’t get what you’re saying here.

    It seems too obvious so I didn't try to explain it. First, though it might seem I'm contradicting myself, whim is not bad. In fact, it is good and healthy. It just means that people have choices and preferences. Nothing more. But, as your hand isn't separate from you, you, and your whims, are not separate from reality. It just is a part of reality that man, including his whims, constitute it. Therefore, whim just is a part of reality, and that is fine as far as it goes.

    However, this immediate reality seems obviously inadequate as a source of objective morality, something that carries an actual weight of ought. Exactly what does fall outside the realm of immediate reality? Nothing I can think of. (Of course I mean this from within your concept and perspective . . .) Isn't killing, loving, bowling, everything a part of this immediate reality? Man's whims, desires? They're all just a part of the immediate reality.

    If it is the case that everything is a part of this immediate reality that you say is the source of an objective morality, and it seems that must be the case, then whence a moral stance? For again, we are in the business now of saying that this certain act that is a part of reality is bad, or that particular act that is a part of reality is good, which means that neither good or bad themselves are a part of that reality, but something separate which sits above it and judges it. Or, if there is something of reality that is able to judge the rest of it either good or bad, just what is it? It should be easy to point out. Just what is the part of immediate reality that is goodness or badness, rightness or wrongness? Just what is this goodness or badness telling thing?

    And now to two alarming statements you made. I said:

    And this means that you will not be able to show how my assumptions above were not exactly correct.

    And you said:

    Agreed. It also means that you cannot show my assumptions are not exactly correct, even tho’ they differ from yours.

    First, I was referring of course to my specific assumptions of how you must define reality. I was saying that you only confirmed what I had said. I was referring to something specific, but you are referring to your general idea of the source of morality. I was not saying, "you can't disprove my idea, so accept it." It sounds like you're too willing to go the skeptic route.

    I said:

    We can only access that “reality” which we have somehow discovered, and, interpreted.

    You said:

    Almost. We can access any part of reality within our ability to do so. We only know about the parts we have already discovered. We will discover more.

    This is alarming for it's "promissory noteness" if you will. It also has a skeptical smell lingering, implying we can't really know anything now.

    You said:

    Since we cannot know [deities] better than we know reality, belief in deities cannot lead to an objective moral stand.

    Again, cart . . . horse. And, there is nothing to say from within your view that we can't know deities at least as well as we know the immediate reality.

    Perfection would be an error-free understanding of Reality. The scientific method tends to self-correct, to remove errors. This constitutes “tending toward perfection”. Please notice I do not think perfection would ever be achieved.

    This doesn't alleviate the obvious problem I was pointing out. Again, you only confirm what I said you must mean. Namely, perfection only means, ultimately, the immediate reality. So, what is is the standard of morality, which is supposed to judge what happens — and what happens is only a part of the immediate reality — meaning you have the standard judging the standard, reality judging reality, the is judging the is. But this is not what you do when you make a moral judgment; rather, you say what ought to have been. Making a moral judgment is saying that a certain instance of the immediate reality should, or should not, as the case may be, have been a part of the reality.

    What we call “good or bad” is not absolute. A lion catching a deer is “good” for the lion and “bad” for the deer. Reality is about what is or what happens; judgements about things are merely a subset of Reality. So we don’t need anything “outside Reality” to make this assessment. What is True is true, both the good and the bad.

    I call bait and switch! This is terrible. A lion and deer analogy has nothing to do with morality. That would only amount to a convenient/inconvenient equivalent, which isn't an arbiter of moral oughts. Some things that are convenient can be, and often are, morally wrong, and vice-versa.

    I disagree that good or bad isn't absolute in the way you seem to mean it. When we are speaking of an actual case of morality, as opposed to your animal example, we mean that the person who committed the deed and anyone else, if they were victimized by it, were wrong and wronged respectively.

    Judgments are a subset of the immediate reality? We don't need anything outside this reality to make this assessment? No, no, no! I'm going to go ahead and say it. Even though you claim this to be what you believe, you really do not. Yes, it is a part of the immediate reality that people judge, but of the multitude of times you decry another's judgments, you are saying their judgment isn't in accord with another standard. Now, go ahead and say, "Yeah! They don't accord with MY standard," which will just prove the whole point about your conception of morality not being objective and only being rooted in man's whims.

    What is True is true, both the good and the bad.

    So, killing is True. It happens. Is it the good, or the bad? Love of others is True. Is it the good, or the bad?

    I had said:

    I don’t think whim poisons reason, but minus an objective and transcendent Good from which to get our bearings, reason poisons whim, and everything else.

    Whim is the most healthy thing in the world. It is amoral. Acting on any particular whim may or may not be morally acceptable. Reason and whim are not antithetical. However, if there is no ultimate transcendent reality toward which reason can point, or from which we can derive it, then whim would be the ONLY healthy thing. Imagine a world where there really was no ultimate truth, no mathematics, or anything that made sense; Alice In Wonderland on steroids. The saddest people in the world would be those who were bound by some affliction that made them believe that there was a reason to adhere to reason.

    Sean, I'm quite sure you don't appreciate the amount of philosophy, true philosophy, that you are "illegally" (lol) borrowing from the rational Christian worldview. You assume so much which doesn't logically follow from your stated beliefs.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent, some provocative points! KF

  97. 97
    Brent says:

    Sean, I like your post @90, but I’ll have to get to it later, carefully, as I think KF is not going to allow any more discussion on the specific instances you raised.

    Unfortunately, it may be quite a bit later . . . sorry.

  98. 98
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent, we face lawfare and a situation where reasonableness of courts cannot be assumed; the civil peace of justice has been broken. KF

  99. 99
    Brent says:

    I agree, KF. I agree. It’s sad, sad, sad.

  100. 100
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    Let me now take up 76 on several points of note:

    a: >>[KF:] The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought, …

    [SS:] This phrase is too vague for me to make sense of. Perhaps you could clarify?

    I would say to your hypothetical situation that the conduct described is immoral because it is harmful to the child and lacks justification or necessity. The child’s lack of strength or eloquence is irrelevant.>>

    Why is harm an issue? Why ought we not to harm? What needs “justification,” and why?

    All of these point to the basic point that we find ourselves inevitably governed by OUGHT to the point where those who seem to suppress or be lacking in this regard are understood to be abnormal, socio-/psycho-paths.

    Next, you try to dismiss the issue of strength and eloquence in the child. But in fact this is an unfortunately actual case of the child not having been able to force the predator to back off, nor to persuade him to leave him to go home to his family. (I am speaking of a 7 – 8 yo boy.)

    However, on relativist grounds or the like, particularly evolutionary materialism, right and wrong are a matter of power and persuasion. In more blunt terms, of might and manipulation making ‘right.’

    However, while you do not say so in so many words, you imply that it is indeed truly wrong — what ought not to be done — to treat a child like this. That is, ought is real and binding.

    So, there must be a foundation for OUGHT in the world. In short, post Hume, we seek an IS — a foundational reality — that grounds OUGHT.

    Where also, it is worthwhile to point out that the idea that responsible, rational and moral freedom are an illusion is widespread, and has self-referentially incoherent consequences.

    Notice Eric as cited in the OP:

    I would bet that he is exactly going after the subjective vs. objective distinction. There’s been a recent spate of philosophers and/or reasonably prominent atheists trying to propose an objective morality (without the need for a god). I would bet he is going after these ideas.

    It may be “so what” to you (and me) that morality is ultimately subjective, but many people find that thought upsetting. Arrington is pushing on that discomfort to gain converts for theism. He’s proselytizing: design will give you laypeople back that foundation for objective morality you want so badly . . .

    In short, our sense of right and wrong is just a matter of personal opinion, shaped by cultural and particular influences. Never mind the burning sense of shame and the voice of conscience, you are just having a delusion that you are bound by any ultimate right and wrong. And ever so many more would say much the same. Let’s cite Provine in his 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day keynote as a capital example given at a significant time and place (as in, recall Dayton, Tenn 1925 and a certain Mr John Scopes):

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    Now, indeed, if we are not responsibly free we cannot be bound by oughtness. There can be no foundation for ethics above and beyond might and manipulation make ‘right.’ But equally, there can be no foundation for the responsibly free and rational mind in general. That was implied by the well known Sir Francis Crick in his The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Philip Johnson was right to retort in Reason in the Balance (1995) that the distinguished scientist should have been willing to put as a preface to his books and papers: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” That is, “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    That is why, in 74 above, I pointed to the issue of grand delusion and its self-refuting import for evolutionary materialism — a point that you most distinctly did not address:

    The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought, or else whether our hearts, minds and consciences delude us on this matter. As, ever so many advocates of evolutionary materialism argue or imply.

    If the latter, we have let general delusion loose in our interior lives, and face self-referential absurdity and incoherence. (Indeed, an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusional words; this is a case of how radical skepticism, whether global or arbitrarily selective, leads to self-refuting utter breakdown of rationality. Such is usually not obvious when one is on the rhetorical defensive but comes out as soon as it is realised that one’s implied worldview must also be grounded. Cf. discussion here on, part of context for the first linked. Hyperskepticism undermines rationality and undercuts itself through self-falsification.)

    We have every good reason to acknowledge that OUGHT is real and binding.

    But, how can such be grounded?

    This of course goes to Hume’s “surpriz’d” argument, and thus it’s implication that there is just one place where IS and OUGHT may be unified, at world foundation level.

    b: >> [KF:] That is, at base/root level, there must be an IS that grounds OUGHT, …

    [SS:] This is another strange phrase—at least to me—but I take it to mean that moral imperatives must be grounded in actual facts. I agree with that.

    [KF:] …an IS that is inherently moral and properly and adequately supports OUGHT.

    [SS:] Reality needs no inherent moral valence to support the “ought”; that ‘it is’ suffices; it is sufficient that reality is. Truth is the basis of the moral imperative.>>

    Truth is best understood as that which says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not. So, if there are moral truths as opposed to opinions and feelings, they must be grounded not on mere brute facts but on reality, world foundational level reality.

    Perhaps, Arthur Holmes’ point in his Ethics, may help clarify:

    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 . . .

    This then points to the issue of a world-foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. If our sense of ought is not delusional — which notion has shattering consequences for responsible, rational freedom as was already pointed out.

    In 74, I then pointed out a summary on the issue of candidates to be such an IS-OUGHT unifying, world-foundational IS:

    We have every good reason to acknowledge that OUGHT is real and binding.

    But, how can such be grounded?

    Post Hume and his “surpriz’d” argument, only at world-foundation level.

    That is, at base/root level, there must be an IS that grounds OUGHT, an IS that is inherently moral and properly and adequately supports OUGHT.

    There is but one serious candidate, after centuries of debates, as can be seen from comparative difficulties analysis of alternatives.

    Namely, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. [–> to unpack some of what that is pointing to, cf here at initial level: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....eat-being/ ]

    One way to see this is to echo Boethius on the challenge of good vs evil in his Consolation of Philosophy as he faced unjust sentence of death to get rid of a roadblock to powerful and oppressive courtiers after the fall of the Western Roman empire: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?”

    In short, is there fairness, or justice, or a duty of care to respect the truth, the right and rights? If yes obtains for any of these in any context, we face the implications of being under the moral government of OUGHT, highlighting the foundational nature of the good and implying that evil is not a thing in itself but the frustration, privation or perversion of the good out of its proper purpose or end.

    Now, I found it interesting to see how you snipped, cited and responded to this:

    c: >> [KF:] There is but one serious candidate, … Namely, the inherently good Creator-God, …

    [SS:] A God could only suffice in this if this God engages every person in direct, unmediated, fully expressed communication. For me, this has never happened, and I suspect few people will claim it has for them.>>

    In short, you short-circuited the step by step reasoning and then demanded a personal interview with God, or else you dismiss claims that God speaks to us or communicates with us on moral law as reducing to attempted imposition by other people:

    d; >> [SS:] Absent that, no God’s commands are distinct from the commands of other humans; if no human has the standing to provide reliable moral commands, neither has any God who does not directly communicate his clearly intended commands to each and every one of us.>>

    Sounds neat as a dismissive point, until it is assessed on being selectively hyperskeptical and on the issue of the implications of responsible, rational freedom and the further issue of naturally evident law that is manifest in the fact that we find ourselves instructed from within and without on the inherent value, nature, rights and duties of care towards a fellow human being. Something, which you yourself implied but did not explicitly acknowledge in dealing with the case of that sadly abused and murdered child.

    Notoriously, we have something called conscience, which speaks in very stringent terms of our duties; unless warped and suppressed. We find something inherent of worth in the fellow human being that we express in terms of rights and associated duties of care not to harm. And more.

    As outlined, rejecting that voice as delusional ends unhappily, in self referential incoherence and futility. Indeed, it ends in undermining even our vaulted — but in fact finite and fallible — rationality.

    But maybe, we can say it can be mistaken, so we have to bear that in mind. Yes, and our reasoning faculty can be mistaken on many things too, do we then treat it in general as utterly suspect and to be dismissed unless we have a direct and comprehensive interview with God as its author?

    Patently not.

    Instead, we recognise a discipline, logic, that inter alia teaches us how to evaluate the quality of reasoning and helps us discern truth and knowledge from error.

    So, why not count that ability as a part of our equipment that enables us to recognise core moral principles and reason ethically also in an objective manner, including on addressing the roots of OUGHT, of being under the government of rights, duties, responsibilities and the like?

    Yes, we may and do err ethically, but that is no excuse to abandon our duties as responsible, rational and significantly free agents.

    Which then implies that such ethical commands as may come from the Divine voice, will make good sense.

    Which is exactly what Locke acknowledged in the citation from Hooker which is in his 2nd treatise on civil gov’t, Ch 2 sec 5, the cite that I have taken time to expand a bit from its source, Ecclesiastical Polity 1594+:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    In short, our real problem is not ignorance primary, but that secondary ignorance that happens when we blind ourselves through our perceived interests, passions, perversions and agendas, too often stubbornly clinging to error. And, genuine reform therefore points us to key principles embedded in our nature and circumstances as responsibly free and rational persons.

    Which, is exactly what the first two paragraphs of the US DoI, 1776 — especially as understood in context as already cited which you tried to dismiss as unnecessary reading assignments — point to:

    When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . .

    Notice, such first principles rights reveal their foundational nature by what happens when we try to deny them . . . as self-evident implies, we land instantly in patent absurdities of incoherence and error that strongly tell us that we are off-track. So, again [cf. 93 above], I point to the role of such foundational rights embedded in our nature as human beings:

    [a core human right, defn:] a binding, morally grounded legitimate expectation and demand that one be respected and treated in accord with one’s value, nature, inherent dignity and status as a human being.

    Such includes first that one has a right to life as without life nothing else can be achieved to fulfill one’s nature, it includes respect for freedom of conscience, thought, speech/expression, innocent reputation, association and responsible freedom in general, as limited by the point that one’s freedom to swing one’s arm ends where the next person’s nose begins and the like. (Note the definition of liberty as cited from Webster’s 1828.)

    In short, we all do or should know core morality and how it binds us.

    And since you seem to have a particular suspicion towards the Biblical, Judaeo-Christian tradition, allow me to cite a summary from one of its main teachers, Paul of Tarsus in his principal epistle:

    Rom 2: 1 . . . you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things [there has been a preceding litany of blatant wrongs of thought, word and deed]. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

    5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

    6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking1 and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury . . . .

    14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus . . . .

    8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

    In short, the Judaeo-Christian tradition holds that we find ourselves both inevitably moral and invariably hypocritical, unable to live up to the standards we expect others to accord to us. It goes on to highlight that living by the light we have or should acknowledge is the path of righteousness in which — however stumblingly and penitently — we should persist. We see that bey light of conscience we reveal that such standards are written on our hearts, boiling down at core to the mandate to live by the principle of love in accord with our equal nature as neighbours.

    Then, it calls us to penitent progress.

    In short, to reasonable, responsible faith and persistently living by the truth and right we do know or should know. (And, specifically on Jesus of Nazareth, cf here: http://vimeo.com/17960119 )

    This is precisely what Hooker was discussing, and it is exactly what Locke cited in order to ground what would become modern liberty and democracy.

    Our problem is, we are now beginning to insist on throwing over the traces and are beginning to cling to the absurd out of perceived interests, agendas and passions spinning out of control.

    I see a march of folly in progress.

    Next, you again snip short and out of context:

    d: >> [KF:] Boethius on the challenge of good vs evil …

    To Boethius: whence evil if there is no God? The good can be seen in those things that do us no harm.>>

    This rather misses the point, which is foundational in focus. Cf 74 again:

    We have every good reason to acknowledge that OUGHT is real and binding.

    But, how can such be grounded?

    Post Hume and his “surpriz’d” argument, only at world-foundation level.

    That is, at base/root level, there must be an IS that grounds OUGHT, an IS that is inherently moral and properly and adequately supports OUGHT.

    There is but one serious candidate, after centuries of debates, as can be seen from comparative difficulties analysis of alternatives.

    Namely, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    One way to see this is to echo Boethius on the challenge of good vs evil in his Consolation of Philosophy as he faced unjust sentence of death to get rid of a roadblock to powerful and oppressive courtiers after the fall of the Western Roman empire: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?”

    In short, is there fairness, or justice, or a duty of care to respect the truth, the right and rights? If yes obtains for any of these in any context, we face the implications of being under the moral government of OUGHT, highlighting the foundational nature of the good and implying that evil is not a thing in itself but the frustration, privation or perversion of the good out of its proper purpose or end.

    Yes, we do see good as that which does not harm but instead promotes thriving. However, in light of Hume’s “surpriz’d” argument and other considerations, how do we found the good, which is inextricably bound to the ought?

    The only serious answer is, in an IS that intrinsically grounds OUGHT at the root of reality. Which points to the sole serious candidate (and one notes the striking, consistent absence of a proposed second candidate in objections to that): the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and reasonable service by doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    And, given the explanation in brief of evil vs good, it is interesting to see your attempt to indict God as author of evil:

    e: >>[SS:] If all things are made by God, then evil is among them.>>

    I point out, again, what was in 74 above, on what evil is:

    is there fairness, or justice, or a duty of care to respect the truth, the right and rights? If yes obtains for any of these in any context, we face the implications of being under the moral government of OUGHT, highlighting the foundational nature of the good and implying that evil is not a thing in itself but the frustration, privation or perversion of the good out of its proper purpose or end.

    I add, that on the wider problem of evil, you may find this helpful as a beginning: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....u2_gdvsevl

    f: >> [KF:] …is there fairness, or justice, or a duty of care to respect the truth, the right and rights? If yes obtains for any of these in any context, we face the implications of being under the moral government of OUGHT, …

    [SS:] Is this your definition of “being under the moral government of OUGHT?”>>

    Not a definition but an indicator.

    g: >> [KF:] … the foundational nature of the good and implying that evil is not a thing in itself but the frustration, privation or perversion of the good out of its proper purpose or end.

    This relationship can be reversed: evil can be foundational, good could be the absence of evil.>>

    This fails, as it is little more than an attempt to turn words about. Evil, as pointed out, is based on twisting what is, it is inherently not primary.

    h: >> [KF:] There are foundational truths that may only be denied on pain of patent absurdity, …

    [SS:] I agree that there are truths we deny at our peril, that morality cannot be found without reference to reality. It is the “how” of that finding that we disagree on, I think.>>

    This is at least, a common place to begin from.

    I trust this point by point response will help in that process.

    KF

  101. 101
    sean samis says:

    Brent, I embarked on my usual step-by-step response to your #95, but after further thought I decided to redraft my response. I’ll omit all the detailed comments because, at the end of the day, those details are overshadowed by the fundamental problem of how can we know what your God wants us to do? This problem you have not responded to yet.

    Basically, in #95 you have simply repeated prior arguments but made superficial changes to them. Whether we talk about a God-given moral system, moral standard, or moral judgments; we are talking about the same thing. A dog is a dog, whether we call it a dog, a hound, or a canine. That which we call a rose …

    The problem with all these God-given moral X’s is that we humans do not know that they exist or what their particulars are unless and until that God communicates them to us. We don’t know what God’s moral system is, what moral standards God employs, or what God’s moral judgments are unless that God communicates them to EACH AND EVERYONE OF US.

    Barring that direct, specific, and personal communication, we don’t know what God wants. Apart from that, all any of us have is stuff other fallible humans tell us. If we cannot trust fallible humans to reason from nature alone, then we certainly cannot trust their accounts of what they claim some unknown deity supposedly told them.

    And as I’ve already demonstrated, however much personal bias might impugn reason from nature, it absolutely destroys theistic rationales.

    This is why only a rational moral system grounded in the truth of nature, reason, and history can be at all trust worthy. The only moral standard we need is TRUTH. The only judge we require is honest persons who can explain the rational and factual bases of their judgements.

    You did propose a work-around (@88): “For when God wants to make sure we get some message, He will write it on our hearts. He will intertwine it in our human nature.

    I refuted that in #90. Kairosfocus has objected to that response; but the response stands: there are people in the world who engage in behaviors (NO SPECIFICS HERE.) which you and kairosfocus strongly object to, but who insist that their behaviors are part of their very nature. If you reject their claims as erroneous then you assert a right AS A FALLIBLE HUMAN to veto what these persons can sincerely believe to be part of what “God wrote on their hearts and entwined in their nature.” If they can be wrong, then so can you or I.

    I don’t accept the logic you used in #95 to justify the necessity of a Godly moral standard and judgement, but that is irrelevant. EVEN IF what you say is true (which I sincerely doubt) the fact that God has not revealed it to me and to many, many others makes it unknown and ineffective to us. Perhaps someday we will find out what these Godly rules are, but we still have to get through our lives without it; we cannot put off living, and it is foolish to give decisional authorities to those fallible humans who claim to have heard from God.

    I have only just now seen kairosfocus’s comment # 100; I will respond to that later.

    sean s.

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    Again, the facts are there for all to see.

    There is conscience and we generally know the difference between warped or deadened, dulled conscience and normal conscience; that is the basis of genuine reform. The categorical imperative and golden rule are quite clear, and that people err in morals no more implies futility of moral reasoning on the law of our nature than errors in arithmetic invalidate book-keeping.

    The fundamental issue remains, do we have rights and therefore also duties? If so, we are under moral government. That is, we are under government of OUGHT and there is a foundational IS in the world that properly bears the weight of OUGHT.

    For which, there is but one serious candidate as already discussed.

    Where, to suggest that the sense of ought and linked responsible rational freedom are delusional, leads to self-referential absurdity. As was also discussed.

    Beyond, the rhetorical move of suggesting imperfections in knowing implies absence of knowledge is a rather ill-advised move.

    Locke in the intro to his essay on human understanding, sect 5, has some words of warning:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 – 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 – 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 – 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 – 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

    KF

    PS: Note, the notion that complex human behaviours above things like reflexes and breathing are genetically or otherwise programmed beyond choice is quite problematic, especially when implications for responsible rational freedom are brought to bear. I suggest a comparison of the 12-step addiction recovery methods and movements is helpful (noting that vulnerability to alcohol may have a genetic component), as would be this text. We should be very wary indeed of any scheme, notion, ideology or movement — whether or not it is dressed in a lab coat — that would undermine human responsibility and the point and hope that conscience-guided reason linked to supported moral discipline and recovery methods sustained across several years can lead us to walk in a better way. There are many, many, many cases of successful transformation of people in bondage to all sorts of addictions, dependencies, and destructive lifestyles. A truth that seems to be very politically incorrect and widely suppressed today. Let me just say finally for now that 60+ years ago Alcoholics Anonymous was mocked and derided by the experts and media, especially when a co-founder backslid. But now, its approach, on long significant success, has become a widely respected and adopted model. Teen Challenge is similar. Though of course if you don’t want to have to fight for your life to get off the barbed hook, don’t bite on the seemingly tasty fly floating by.

  103. 103
    Brent says:

    Sean @101,

    So you aren’t interested in providing a defense of your clearly irrational attempt to ground an objective morality without a transcendent source? Telling.

    Let’s use this as a moment for a tidy summary then, which seems what you were doing already.

    Our discussion started with me telling you your understanding of the theists position, at least as regards a defense of theism, is akin to having the cart in front of the horse. After repeatedly telling you this, you’re still refusing to put this right.

    Though not stated explicitly, I’ve really put the argument thus:

    1. If objective moral values and duties exist, God exists.

    2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.

    3. Therefore, God exists.

    You don’t seem to have an issue with premise 2, so premise one is where you’ve challenged this argument. You say that objective moral duties and values can and do exist without God existing.

    I, therefore, have challenged you to defend your position that objective morals can exist without a transcendent source. You have failed miserably so far, and didn’t even take your last post as a further opportunity to attempt to.

    Thus, my argument is so far validated. God exists, and He is the source of the objective morality that exists.

    I’m sorry, but it is an important point to get the horse back where it belongs, and so I won’t respond further until you acknowledge that.

  104. 104
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent:

    Useful skeletonisation.

    The pivot is that if OUGHT is real, it is grounded in a world-root level IS, for which there is but one serious candidate, the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, etc.

    The rejection of OUGHT as real, on the other hand, lets loose grand delusion in our thought-life utterly undermining rationality. Reductio.

    So, we are back to Arthur Holmes in Ethics:

    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 . . .

    And, as the next objection in line is to object to the possibility of ethical, moral knowledge, let me draw attention again to the pivotal clip from Hooker cited by Locke in his 2nd treatise on govt ch 2 sec 5:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    KF

  105. 105
    Brent says:

    Thanks KF. Very good stuff.

  106. 106
    sean samis says:

    —————————————————————–THE OUGHT-IS GAP—————————————————————–

    This problem, which kairosfocus places great emphasis on is simply the question of how the existence of facts in the world (the IS) leads to the conclusion that some things are morally necessary (the OUGHT). How does a fact become an obligation?

    kairosfocus attributes this problem to Hume (@93):

    Hume’s Guillotine:

    In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surprised [orig; surpriz’d] to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, ’tis necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason. [Hume, David (1739). A Treatise of Human Nature. London: John Noon. p. 335.]

    This is a classic statement of the IS-OUGHT gap, and it is what I had in mind in saying: “The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought.”

    kairosfocus also cited (@104)

    So, we are back to Arthur Holmes in Ethics:

    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 . . . .

    In a nut-shell, the so-called “OUGHT-IS” gap occurs when we try to take the step from what things are to what thing we ought to do. How do we justify that step?

    In fact, the ought-is “gap” is no more than a crack in the sidewalk; bridging the OUGHT-IS gap is trivial.

    How?

    kairosfocus posted the idea himself EIGHT (8) TIMES: (In the OP, @21, 32, 59, 82, 86, 100, and 104) ; it’s in kairosfocus’s cite from Locke and Aristotle (via Hooker):

    … let me draw attention again to the pivotal clip from Hooker cited by Locke in his 2nd treatise on govt ch 2 sec 5:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in anything extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    In plain English (something kairosfocus is not comfortable with) Locke asks a question:

    If I want people to do good to me, how can I expect my desire to be satisfied unless I satisfy that desire in others?

    Locke’s answer is that nature imposes a natural duty of treating others with the same care we want them to treat us. Because we are all equally human, natural reason directs us clearly on this matter.

    Aristotle’s comment is likewise obvious: we must refrain from doing to others that which we don’t want them to do to us.

    This exaggerated “gap” is easily bridged by reciprocity. We are obligated to behave morally because we want to be treated morally. We cannot expect others to treat any of us better than we treat others.

    This ain’t rocket science. It’s an ancient idea we call “The Golden Rule”. I am sure kairosfocus is familiar with the Golden Rule but clearly he’s not thought about what it means.

    Because of how the world IS and how it BEHAVES we are obligated to avoid doing evil because we dearly want to NOT be on the receiving end of Evil. The facts of nature (the IS) compel us to act in certain ways (the OUGHT) if only in our self-interest. The obligation created by our social nature, by duty or by empathy, sympathy, or compassion impose obligations even if not in our self-interest.

    Even more ironic than kairosfocus posting the solution to his dilemma 8 times is that Locke’s answer to Hume’s Guillotine precedes Hume’s work by decades. The Golden Rule is older by centuries. What does this fact tell us? If a problem is useful, it can be very hard to see the easy solution. This “gap” is very useful to Hume and kairosfocus so neither is able to see that it is actually a trivial problem solved millennia ago.

    Responding to Arthur Holmes (cited above); an obligation does not need a “command” given by a person; an obligation can be imposed by natural imperatives.

    sean s.

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    Red herring and strawman.

    The problem is not whether on avg being nice to people will make them be nice back to me. Often that works, often it does not. Bullies after all love to prey on nice, helpless folks; a lesson the school yard should have long since taught us all. They get away with breaches of the golden rule, or there would be no bullies. Oppressive, exploitive ruling classes and the like are much the same writ large, and unless there is a principle of justice — yet another ought issue — that can reform social systems in light of rights freedoms and responsibilities (more oughts), we are at deadlock: might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    We really do need well grounded OUGHT.

    And generally speaking ought and is are not synonymous.

    The issue is, that we find a strong and insistent voice in ourselves that others OUGHT — face a binding obligation — to be just in dealing with us.

    A very different issue.

    And Hooker, cited by Locke, is plain: if we find that others are under binding oughts to us, so are we to them as they share the like nature with us.

    Now, you may suggest that sense of ought is a delusion. That lets grand delusion loose in our inner life and undermines rationality itself, not to mention the principles of justice, rights and more. On which, attempted discussion is pointless.

    So, you don’t really believe that (you are trying to argue), and yet it is the consequence of evolutionary materialism.

    You face that OUGHT is real, and binding.

    Which points to the grounding problem.

    And the problem of finding what it is that can properly ground ought.

    Going in circles at our level or talking about natural imperatives does not work. (You are just saying ought is bound up in our world and we recognise it. Yes, but on what does that stand.)

    The only place where is and ought can be bridged is the roots of reality.

    You already know the only viable, serious candidate: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    KF

  108. 108
    Brent says:

    Sean @106,

    I think you are working from a false premise: Namely, that if we are able to discern how morality may be beneficial to us either individually or on a larger societal level — that it will “pay me” in the long run — then it isn’t from a transcendent source. But of course, even if morality truly is from God, there is no reason to think it wouldn’t benefit us in exactly those ways.

    And in any case, this doesn’t speak to the problem of morality being non-binding if it isn’t from a transcendent source. If men were wise enough to come up with the morality that we have today, it is just not binding. You try to catch KF out, but the Golden Rule is not obligatory to follow minus a transcendent source, which is the real issue. It may be a really, really, really good idea on the whole to follow the Golden Rule even if God doesn’t exist, but necessary it is not.

    As the ethecist Richard Taylor points out, “A duty is something that is owed . . . But something can be owed only to some person or persons. There can be no such thing as duty in isolation.” God makes sense of moral obligation because his commands constitute for us our moral duties.

    From Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Wroldview, J.P. Moreland & William Lane Craig

    Now I strongly suspect you’ll want to say that, indeed, our duties ARE owed to persons . . . the others around us. But again, nothing obliges me to subscribe to this. I can dispute the rules of men all day long, and sometimes do 🙂 Even if, for example, I decide to agree with a man-made moral system and vow to abide by society’s rules, I can change my mind midstream. I’ve done nothing wrong whatever. For even if everyone agreed to follow society’s self-made rules, we are really only obliged even to do that IF there is an actually binding transcendent morality that says we OUGHT to keep our promises. And every single attempt to remove God from the source of morality ultimately relies on simply smuggling in an ACTUAL binding moral ought on which it all really stands.

    It’s a neat trick, but it is a lie and evil.

  109. 109
    sean samis says:

    kairosfocus @107

    Now, you may suggest that sense of ought is a delusion.

    Quite the contrary. I suggest no such thing. This “sense of ought” is quite natural and urgent. I only ground it differently than you do.

    The only place where is and ought can be bridged is the roots of reality.

    Agreed. And that is where I ground it; in the very roots of reality regarding what it is to be human.

    You already know the only viable, serious candidate: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    The problem is that I don’t know this. Whatever deities might exist, they have never revealed themselves to me. Everything that I ”know” about deities comes from claims by other humans or by my own reasoning. Which is to say that I know nothing about any God.

    Unless this “inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being” speaks directly to every person, those to whom He has not spoken must find their “ought” wherever they can. No deity has ever spoken to me; I have never heard God’s voice. So for me and the many others like me, nature is the only moral grounding available to us. Fortunately, as I have shown, it more than suffices.

    Brent @108

    I think you are working from a false premise: Namely, that if we are able to discern how morality may be beneficial to us either individually or on a larger societal level — that it will “pay me” in the long run — then it isn’t from a transcendent source.

    If this is what you think, then you are mistaken. I really don’t care whether morality is “from a transcendent source” or not. My only concern is to find a way to understand what is or is not moral. I don’t care where it comes from, I only care what it is.

    …even if morality truly is from God, there is no reason to think it wouldn’t benefit us in exactly those ways.

    Agreed, but this only emphasizes the irrelevance of where it comes from.

    And in any case, this doesn’t speak to the problem of morality being non-binding if it isn’t from a transcendent source.

    Unfortunately, the fact that people (including theists) routinely break whatever moral laws they have; claiming the moral law has a “transcendent source” is futile. Especially if this “transcendent source” is mysterious or dubious to most humans.

    If men were wise enough to come up with the morality that we have today, it is just not binding. You try to catch KF out, but the Golden Rule is not obligatory to follow minus a transcendent source, which is the real issue.

    Your false premise is that all obligations must be imposed by some Person, some Authority, some “transcendent source”. Please tell us why. Looking at history, believing that is so has not kept believers from all manner of evil.

    It may be a really, really, really good idea on the whole to follow the Golden Rule even if God doesn’t exist, but necessary it is not.

    Obeying your God is not necessary, it would merely be a “really, really good idea” if you want to avoid His Threats. But only if you believe in His Threats. It’s a really, really, really good idea to follow the Golden Rule to avoid the natural and foreseeable consequences of not doing so.

    As the ethecist Richard Taylor points out, “A duty is something that is owed . . . But something can be owed only to some person or persons. There can be no such thing as duty in isolation.”

    I have no problem with this, the obligations of nature and the Golden Rule are owed to other persons; they are not duties in isolation.

    God makes sense of moral obligation because his commands constitute for us our moral duties.

    No, for two reasons.

    1. Since God is unknown to many people (including myself) invoking God to explain something is to invoke one mystery to explain another. That makes no sense of either.

    2. Invoking a deity is not necessary. Nature’s imperatives constitute a sufficient source of moral duties.

    Now I strongly suspect you’ll want to say that, indeed, our duties ARE owed to persons . . . the others around us. But again, nothing obliges me to subscribe to this.

    It’s ironic that you could predict only part of my response because you’ve already seen the rest of it before: Nothing obliges anyone to subscribe to any moral grounding except their sense of morality or their self-interest. Even a transcendental, theistically grounded obligation can be ignored. That is evidenced by history.

    I can dispute the rules of men all day long, and sometimes do …

    And people do dispute the rules of God ad infinitum. Grounding rules in a God does nothing for us.

    Even if, for example, I decide to agree with a man-made moral system and vow to abide by society’s rules, I can change my mind midstream. I’ve done nothing wrong whatever.

    You can do the same thing regardless of how you “ground” your morality; people (including theists) have been doing that since forever.

    …even if everyone agreed to follow society’s self-made rules, we are really only obliged even to do that IF there is an actually binding transcendent morality that says we OUGHT to keep our promises.

    There is a binding morality that “says we OUGHT to keep our promises”. It’s not transcendent, but transcendence is irrelevant.

    And every single attempt to remove God from the source of morality ultimately relies on simply smuggling in an ACTUAL binding moral ought on which it all really stands.

    Two errors in this:

    1. I’m not trying to “remove God”, I’m just doing without Him because, I know nothing about him; and

    2: I’m not smuggling anything. I am quite open about what I’m about. I’m searching for and finding the source of “an ACTUAL binding moral ought on which it all really stands ”. It is grounded in the truth of nature, reason, and history.

    sean s.

  110. 110
    Brent says:

    Sean,

    You’ve changed the subject. Whether believing our moral code comes from God, or not, helps us to abide more or less closely to it, is completely beside the point. That renders 75% of what you said meaningless to the topic at hand.

    Unfortunately, the other 25% was you backtracking to your already refuted position of attempting to ground an objective morality in nature, trying to make it look as if it isn’t ultimately down to man’s whims. And since you are back at ground zero, I’ll say again: If man is the source of the moral code, then man governs morality, and morality doesn’t govern man.

    Let me ask you: Why ought I be unselfish?

  111. 111
    kairosfocus says:

    Brent, well put; the issue is that unless OUGHT is grounded in a world-foundational IS, then we end in might and manipulation make ‘right.’ KF

  112. 112
    kairosfocus says:

    SS:

    This cuts to the heart of your views and the issue, and is inadvertently revealing:

    I really don’t care whether morality is “from a transcendent source” or not. My only concern is to find a way to understand what is or is not moral. I don’t care where it comes from, I only care what it is.

    This is tantamount to walking away from the issue of reasonable grounding of OUGHT.

    That walk-away from rational grounding implies that you hold that or wish to act as though morality is essentially ungrounded and subjective, and such actions that speak as loud as words directly open the door to the nihilist credo and agenda that might and manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth’ etc. Per fair comment, such can be seen from the way you go along with the twisting of law (e.g. of the US 14th Amdt to its Const) to suit agendas in another thread. And when issues of onward implications were pointed out, you evasively refused to acknowledge or respond reasonably to the relevance of the concern.

    With that already on the table, you are now in the position of being credibly untrustworthy with words, fact or truth claims, declarations of motive, and argument.

    You have destroyed the basis for reasoned dialogue, the issue now is to expose, warn and protect from advocacy of ruthless, amoral and nihilistic agendas.

    We are fully justified to conclude prudentially on your declared lack of interest in grounding, that for you and ilk, morality is indeed just a matter of perceptions and feelings to be manipulated for political agendas.

    In short, it is a convenient delusion to be manipulated.

    I have already pointed out the implication of such a cynical view, that once grand delusion is let loose in our interior life it undercuts rationality ending in self-referential incoherence.

    The basic challenge can be found in Provine’s notorious U Tenn 1998 Darwin Day keynote:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    . . . and, in Crick’s 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    . . . not to mention Dawkins:

    In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [“God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 – 85.]

    In short, as with Provine and Crick, you undermine responsible, rational freedom, so revealing that your view is irretrievably incoherent and self-falsifying. Indeed, I am now entitled to treat all your talking points as simply attempts to twist and manipulate, assigning you zero credibility save for when you let out an inadvertent admission that reveals agenda.

    Kyle Butt’s response to Provine is all too apt:

    Provine’s . . . [address] centered on his fifth statement regarding human free will. Prior to delving into the “meat” of his message, however, he noted: “The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them” (Provine, 1998).

    It is clear then, from Provine’s comments, that he believes naturalistic evolution has no way to produce an “ultimate foundation for ethics.” And it is equally as clear that this sentiment was so apparent to “modern naturalistic evolutionists” that Mr. Provine did not feel it even needed to be defended . . . . [However, i]f it is true that naturalistic evolution cannot provide an ultimate foundation for determining the difference between actions that are right and ones that are wrong, then the door is wide open for subjective speculation about all human behavior. [Rape and Evolution, Apologetics Press, 2005.]

    J B S Haldane, realising what was implicit in evolutionary materialism, long ago warned:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    Plato, 2,350 years ago in The Laws Bk X, already took the measure of the matter:

    Ath. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them.

    So now, I suggest that you pull back and return to the table of reasoned, responsible discussion in light of the pivotal issue as to the grounding of OUGHT in a world-foundational IS: if we have rights, freedoms and responsibilities beyond nihilistic might and manipulation, that state of affairs is grounded somewhere.

    Somewhere, that can only lie in the root and source of the cosmos.

    KF

    PS: You profess not to know that the IS-OUGHT grounding challenge and the serious candidate on the table are not points of knowledge for you. Such may be readily remedied, cf here in another current thread and onwards to see the exchanges:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-571983

    Original thread:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....of-theism/

  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let me clip:

    _____________

    >>I have long since suggested that we start with the foundations of worldviews and then overnight, that we focus on a pivotal issue, root of being in a necessary being and of what character. Cf here for an outline i/l/o modes of being and ontology:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....eat-being/

    I must assume that you have not simply ignored a linked discussion, in haste to drum out talking points in disregard of there being another side to the story.

    If you all are unable to recognise this as addressing a body of evidence on the general approaches of inference to best explanation, comparative difficulties and particularly grand sense-making, in light of evidence accessible to all who would inquire, then it shows logical, epistemological and broader philosophical impoverishment.

    Which, is unsurprising.

    Let me do a basic outline of key points:

    1: A world, patently exists.

    2: Nothing, denotes just that, non-being.

    3: A genuine nothing, can have no causal capacity.

    4: If ever there were an utter nothing, that is exactly what would forever obtain.

    5: But, per 1, we and a world exist, so there was always something.

    6: This raises the issue of modes of being, first possible vs impossible.

    7: A possible being would exist if a relevant state of affairs were realised, e.g. heat + fuel + oxidiser + chain rxn –> fire (a causal process, showing fire to depend on external enabling factors)

    Fire_tetrahedron

    8: An impossible being such as a square circle has contradictory core characteristics and cannot be in any possible world. (Worlds being patently possible as one is actual.)

    9: Of possible beings, we see contingent ones, e.g. fires. This also highlights that if something begins, there are circumstances under which it may not be, and so, it is contingent and is caused as the fire illustrates.

    10: Our observed cosmos had a beginning and is caused. This implies a deeper root of being, as necessarily, something always was.

    11: Another possible mode of being is a necessary being. To see such, consider a candidate being that has no dependence on external, on/off enabling factors.

    12: Such (if actual) has no beginning and cannot end, it is either impossible or actual and would exist in any possible world. For instance, a square circle is impossible,
    One and the same object cannot be circular and square in the same sense and place at the same time

    One and the same object
    cannot be circular and
    square in the same
    sense and place at the same time

    . . . but there is no possible world in which twoness does not exist.

    13: To see such, begin with the set that collects nothing and proceed:

    { } –> 0

    {0} –> 1

    {0, 1} –> 2

    Etc.

    14: We thus see on analysis of being, that we have possible vs impossible and of possible beings, contingent vs necessary.

    15: Also, that of serious candidate necessary beings, they will either be impossible or actual in any possible world. That’s the only way they can be, they have to be in the [world-]substructure in some way so that once a world can exist they are there necessarily.

    16: Something like a flying spaghetti monster or the like, is contingent [here, not least as composed of parts and materials], and is not a serious candidate. (Cf also the discussions in the linked thread for other parodies and why they fail.)
    Flying Spaghetti Monster Creation of Adam

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Creation of Adam

    17: By contrast, God is a serious candidate necessary being, The Eternal Root of being. Where, a necessary being root of reality is the best class of candidates to always have been.

    18: The choice, as discussed in the already linked, is between God as impossible or as actual. Where, there is no good reason to see God as impossible, or not a serious candidate to be a necessary being, or to be contingent, etc.

    19: So, to deny God is to imply and to need to shoulder the burden of showing God impossible. [U/D April 4, 2015: We can for illustrative instance cf. a form of Godel’s argument, demonstrated to be valid:]

    godel_ont_valid

    20: Moreover, we find ourselves under moral government, to be under OUGHT.

    21: This, post the valid part of Hume’s guillotine argument (on pain of the absurdity of ultimate amorality and might/manipulation makes ‘right’) implies that there is a world foundational IS that properly bears the weight of OUGHT.

    22: Across many centuries of debates, there is only one serious candidate: the inherently good, eternal creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of loyalty, respect, service through doing the good and even worship.

    23: Where in this course of argument, no recourse has been had to specifically religious experiences or testimony of same, or to religious traditions; we here have what has been called the God of the philosophers, with more than adequate reason to accept his reality such that it is not delusional or immature to be a theist or to adhere to ethical theism.

    24: Where, ironically, we here see exposed, precisely the emotional appeal and hostility of too many who reject and dismiss the reality of God (and of our being under moral government) without adequate reason.

    So, it would seem the shoe is rather on the other foot.>>
    _____________

    Of course, if you dispute that the serious candidate on the table is such, or is unique, put forward an alternative rather than implying or acting like you assume that morality is groundless.
    KF

  114. 114
    sean samis says:

    Brent @110

    Sean, You’ve changed the subject. Whether believing our moral code comes from God, or not, helps us to abide more or less closely to it, is completely beside the point.

    No, Brent, I have not. You and kairosfocus claim that your moral system is preferable — even objectively true. I have just replied to your extraordinary claims. Challenging the bases of your claims IS THE POINT.

    An objective morality must be knowable beyond reasonable doubt to everyone; that’s pretty much what objective means. What I’ve shown is that your belief system is not objective. It cannot be objective because it is based on nothing more than subjective preferences regarding your God and what your God supposedly commands. Nothing which is predicated purely on subjective claims can be objective. The bar for objectivity is quite high; if you claim to measure up to that high standard, it is ON TOPIC to challenge that measurement.

    I have not changed the subject; it appears you have forgotten what the subject is. The reliability of claims (yours and mine) IS THE SUBJECT.

    If man is the source of the moral code, then man governs morality, and morality doesn’t govern man.

    Brent, I understand your concerns, but this undesirable conclusion does not make your claims true.

    If you have never heard the voice of God, then the source of your moral code IS MAN; its source is the humans who claim to know about God; its source is the humans who claim to know what this God supposedly commands. Unless you heard it FROM GOD, unless you heard GOD’S VOICE, you heard it only from these humans. They are the source of your moral code. These humans telling you about God govern your morality. They (NOT GOD) govern you.

    I have shown that your actually-subjective morality is not in any sense superior to the naturalistic one I propose. Unless you are in a position to authenticate their claims, these humans telling you about God govern your morality. And only God could authenticate their claims.

    Your beliefs do not become objective just because you are really, really, really sure.

    sean s.

  115. 115
    sean samis says:

    kairosfocus @113

    I appreciate arguments in the form you used here, they give readers a chance to see how your logic works with a minimum of distraction. I read this comment carefully, and have a response.

    I have no quibble with any of your steps 1 through 14.

    I would note that I found your use of the term “being” unexpected; you use it to denote any kind of phenomena, from fire to persons. I am not troubled by that except that you left your readers to figure that out on your own. But I have no objection to how you use the term “being”.

    After so many well connected points, at step 15 you introduce a significant gap; you wrote about “serious candidate necessary beings”. Nowhere prior to that step do you define what you mean by “serious” or “candidate” much less “serious candidate necessary beings”. Again you leave it to your readers to figure this out.

    In the very next step (16) you appear to resolve this partially; in your comments about the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” (FSM) you tell us that you consider the FSM an “unserious candidate” at least in part because it is composed of parts and materials. But nowhere have you established why a “serious candidate necessary being” must not be composed of parts or materials. This is yet another gap. In all fairness, I must add that this last gap seems unimportant to me; I can see why an “actual necessary being” cannot be composed of parts or materials, but the gap was left by you.

    By “candidate” I believe you mean proposed necessary beings. A “candidate necessary being” has been proposed to exist, but has not been established; its actuality remains uncertain.

    I suspect that when you talk about “serious” candidates, you mean something that the proponent actually thinks is real, not snarky props like the FSM. That’s fine.

    Then at step 17 you assert that God is a “serious candidate necessary being”. But again you do not define what you mean by “God”; yet another gap. As with “serious” and “candidate” you leave it to your reader to bridge this gap in your logic.

    In the ordinary way of things, a God is a being with attributes of intellect, foresight, purposeful action, will, desire, etc. Are these attributes required of a “serious candidate necessary being”? If so, why? You never explain. Yet another gap.

    In step 17 you also refer to God as “The Eternal Root of being.” What this means is unexplained; yet another gap. You write that the root of reality is the best class of candidate necessary beings.
    What distinguishes this class?
    What makes this class the “best candidates”?
    What other things are in this class?
    Three more gaps.

    One final gap: is it necessarily the case that there is only one actual necessary being? If so, why?

    The question you pose to me is; aside from God, are there any other “serious candidate necessary beings”? Your conclusion seems to be that if God is the only serious candidate necessary being, then the existence of God is preferred, if not established.

    There are three responses to your conclusion.

    A: There is another set of serious candidate necessary beings.

    Although I agree that necessary beings cannot be COMPOSED OF material; there is no logic that objects to necessary beings actually BEING THE MATERIAL from which contingent beings are made; or that they be the FORCES ACTING ON contingent beings. Necessary beings could be the fabric and force of existence.

    Thus a fundamental particle could be a necessary being, and is a “serious candidate necessary being”. Let us refer to this as a “necessary particle”.

    For the record, a particle is a dimensionless and uniform being with characteristic properties and behaviors.

    B: Clearly if there existed only one necessary particle then existence would be much emptier than it is. But you have not provided any logical reason why there must exist one and only one necessary being, or only one KIND OF necessary beings, so a small suite of distinct necessary particles is a “serious SET OF candidate necessary beingS”. Each kind of necessary particle would exist in vast numbers and interact in many, many ways.

    Let me be abundantly clear on this: I am not proposing that any known subatomic particle is a necessary particle; I only suggest that the necessary beings could be kinds of particles.

    In line with your steps 18 and 19, the choice would between necessary particles as impossible or as actual. Since there is no good reason to see necessary particles as impossible, or as not serious candidates to be necessary beings, the burden would be on the denier to show that necessary particles are impossible.

    Of course, the choice you try to force in steps 18 and 19 is false: your God and my necessary particles could be possible, but not actual. This is because …

    C.There is no logical requirement that actual necessary beings must be knowable, much less must be known at this time.

    All “candidate necessary beings” are propositions; they may or may not be actual necessary beings. Even if your unspecified God were the only serious candidate necessary being (He’s not.) that would not mean that your God was an actual necessary being. It is quite rationally possible that all actual necessary beings are still unknown to us; perhaps even unknowable to us.

    So to summarize: your logical structure has many gaps; some should be simple for you to resolve. Some will be more challenging.

    What does “candidate necessary being” mean?
    What does “serious candidate necessary being” mean?
    Why can’t a “serious candidate necessary being” be composed of parts and materials?
    What does “God” mean?
    What does “Eternal Root of being” mean?
    What makes “root of reality the best class” of candidate necessary beings?
    What other classes of candidate necessary beings are you comparing it to?
    What other things are in the class “root of reality
    Why are all serious candidate necessary beings either IMPOSSIBLE or ACTUAL?

    How many actual necessary beings could there be?
    Must all actual necessary beings be knowable?
    Must all actual necessary beings be known now?

    Against the claim of your step 22, there exist two objections to God as the “only serious candidate necessary being”:

    i: a small suite of distinct necessary particles is a “serious SET OF candidate necessary beings”.

    ii: all actual necessary beings might be unknown or unknowable.

    I look forward to your response. Take care.

    sean s.

  116. 116
    sean samis says:

    kairosfocus @113

    I wanted to respond to your step 21 separately. It goes as follows:

    21: This, post the valid part of Hume’s guillotine argument (on pain of the absurdity of ultimate amorality and might/manipulation makes ‘right’) implies that there is a world foundational IS that properly bears the weight of OUGHT.

    This is not the first time I’ve responded to this claim; and unsurprisingly the answer has not changed much. The proper response is to note that Hume’s argument was out of date as soon as he wrote given the prior work of Locke, Aristotle, and others.

    This I posted back at comment #106 (with some edits):

    —————————————————————–THE OUGHT-IS GAP—————————————————————–

    This problem is simply the question of how the existence of facts in the world (the IS) leads to the conclusion that some things are morally necessary (the OUGHT). How does a fact become an obligation?

    kairosfocus attributes this problem to Hume:

    Hume’s Guillotine:

    In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surprised [orig; surpriz’d] to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, ’tis necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason. [Hume, David (1739). A Treatise of Human Nature. London: John Noon. p. 335.]

    This is a classic statement of the IS-OUGHT gap, and it is what I had in mind in saying: “The question, in short, is whether we actually are under moral government of ought.”

    kairosfocus also cited Arthur Holmes on this:

    So, we are back to Arthur Holmes in Ethics:

    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 . . . .

    In a nut-shell, the so-called “OUGHT-IS” gap occurs when we try to take the step from what things are to what thing we ought to do. How do we justify that step?

    In fact, the ought-is “gap” is no more than a crack in the sidewalk; bridging the OUGHT-IS gap is trivial.

    How?

    kairosfocus posted the idea himself many times when KF cited from Locke and Aristotle (via Hooker):

    … let me draw attention again to the pivotal clip from Hooker cited by Locke in his 2nd treatise on govt ch 2 sec 5:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in anything extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

    In plain English: Locke asks a question:

    If I want people to do good to me, how can I expect my desire to be satisfied unless I satisfy that desire in others?

    Locke’s answer is that nature imposes a natural duty of treating others with the same care we want them to treat us. Because we are all equally human, natural reason directs us clearly on this matter.

    Aristotle’s comment is likewise obvious: we must refrain from doing to others that which we don’t want them to do to us.

    Hume’s exaggerated “gap” is easily bridged by reciprocity. We are obligated to behave morally because we want to be treated morally. We cannot expect others to treat any of us better than we treat others.

    This ain’t rocket science. It’s an ancient idea we call “The Golden Rule”.

    Because of how the world IS and how it BEHAVES we are obligated to avoid doing evil because we dearly want to NOT be on the receiving end of Evil. The facts of nature (the IS) compel us to act in certain ways (the OUGHT) if only in our self-interest. The obligation created by our social nature, by duty or by empathy, sympathy, or compassion impose obligations even if not in our self-interest.

    Even more ironic is that Locke’s answer to Hume’s Guillotine precedes Hume’s work by decades. Aristotle’s comment is centuries older; as is the Golden Rule. Hume’s Guillotine was obsolete as soon as he wrote it.

    Responding to Arthur Holmes (cited above); an obligation does not need a “command” given by a person; an obligation can be imposed by natural imperatives.

    sean s.

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