Intelligent Design

JDK argues against objective morality—by assuming the truth of objective morality.

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Moral subjectivists never fail to entertain me when they try to make their philosophy seem reasonable and workable. UD commentator jdk, for example, doesn’t seem to realize how often his unstated assumptions undermine – or even nullify – the very points he is trying to make.

In one exchange, he denies the existence of objective morality, but he does say, nevertheless, that he “judges” murder to be wrong – not objectively wrong – but wrong in the sense that a moral judgment is a subjective act. So I asked him to explain why he “judges” murder to be wrong. He graciously (and courageously) answered the question , and I now follow with my analysis:

JDK: [I judge that murder is wrong] because my mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy for other human beings is such that I desire for them as much right to life as I desire for myself.

I admire the altruistic impulse that informs this comment, but I must begin with a qualifying question: How do you know that your sense of love, compassion, and empathy is “mature” unless there is some objective moral standard to differentiate between a mature sense and an immature sense?

According to the objective standard, mature love (Agape) involves an element of making sacrifices for the other, whereas immature love (Eros) is based simply on feelings and the thrill of being pleased by the other. Subjectivism, however, does not make these kinds of distinctions and cannot, therefore, identify what is mature and what is not.

To truly judge the act of murder, it is not enough to express wishes and desires. One must consider principled reasons why potential victims are entitled to live – what is it about them or their nature that gives them that right? – and why murderers deserve to be punished – what is it about their act that demands satisfaction? Subjective morality cannot even begin to address those issues.

JDK: I also recognize the benefits to society in general for a safe social structure that allows everyone to have a reasonable opportunity to become as well-developed human beings as they can, again motivated by a sense of connection to my fellow human beings through emotions such as love, compassion, and empathy.

Again, you have stepped into the arena of objective morality. In order to know what benefits society, one must first know what is good for society. Among other things, the good of survival is connected to the good of procreating the species, which in turn, is connected to the good of forming communities, all of which are objectively good benefits because they are consistent with man’s social nature. This all makes perfect sense.

Subjective morality, on the other hand, does not recognize natural goods or natural rights, or natural obligations. Thus, it cannot address the subject of what “benefits” society. That is why it is so dangerous. (Moral subjectivism is more than just an exercise in irrational thinking. When humans try to fashion their own morality, an immoral culture of misery and death always follows. If objective morality doesn’t exist, then the moral code [and the civil law derived from it] is whatever those who are in power want it to be, and they want what is good for them, always at the expense of everyone else).

Moving forward, how do you know when humans are “well-developed” unless you acknowledge some objective standard that determines when they reach that threshold? The question that cannot be avoided is: “Well developed compared to what?

Are humans well developed if they possess love, compassion, and empathy but lack persistence, courage, and loyalty? Objective morality answers that question with a firm no: a well-developed human being is one that has cultivated both the soft and the hard virtues. Subjective morality doesn’t even recognize virtues as virtues. Yet you pay a quiet tribute at least to the soft virtues (empathy etc.), which are objective in nature, though you shrug them off as mere “emotions.”

Further, if there are no “shoulds” then why do you imply that society should have a safe social structure? Isn’t it because a safe society is an objectively good situation to be aimed for and an unsafe society is an objectively bad situation to be avoided?

JDK: In part, I desire such a society because I know that I and the ones I most closely love and care about can’t have a reasonable maximum of happiness and satisfaction with our being in an unhealthy society, so I have a interest in everyone having somewhat the same opportunities I do.

Once again, you are appealing to objective standards by assuming that happiness is a good thing for humans and that a healthy society is an objectively good thing in itself. Even in the physical realm, there is a difference between the perception of good health, based on subjective appearances, and the confirmation of good health, measured by objective medical standards.

In spite of yourself, you recognize the self-evident truth that objective morality exists, both at the individual and societal level. So much so, that even in the process of denying it you end up confirming it against your will.

110 Replies to “JDK argues against objective morality—by assuming the truth of objective morality.

  1. 1
    vividbleau says:

    SB
    Thank you for the time and effort you put into this.

    “In spite of yourself, you recognize the self-evident truth that objective morality exists, both at the individual and societal level. So much so, that even in the process of denying it you end up confirming it against your will.”

    I have never encountered a subjectivist, and I dont think you have either, that does not act as if there really is an objective moral standard, you would think that would give them pause.

    On a more fundamental level, and this is just my pet peeve, I think we err when we give credence to the subjectivist when we gloss over the absurd position that they espouse ,which is that which does not exist exists.

    Given that ,when any subjectivist uses the term “moral” we should not allow them to hijack the language by regurgitating that term back to them. We should always use the correct term, which does exist which is I really, really, really have a strong preference!

    Vivid

  2. 2
    StephenB says:

    vivid.

    I agree. In the context of your point, the honest subjectivist would say, “I don’t think murder is immoral (which means objectively moral) but I find it very, very, very distasteful. Still, I am not going to abuse the language by redefining the worlds “bad,” “evil,” “good,” “moral,” or “immoral” in attempt to have it both ways. Those things don’t exist. The universe just is and it has no moral component, nor does any of its creatures.” That is the kind of transparency I would hope for.

  3. 3
    vividbleau says:

    SB

    “the honest subjectivist would say, “I don’t think murder is immoral (which means objectively moral) but I find it very, very, very distasteful. Still, I am not going to abuse the language by redefining the worlds “bad,” “evil,” “good,” “moral,” or “immoral” in attempt to have it both ways. Those things don’t exist. The universe just is and it has no moral component, nor does any of its creatures.” That is the kind of transparency I would hope for.”

    For me the question becomes why dont they just say that? Im down with that, they may be right we may be wrong. Off the top of my head I can think of three reasons.

    1) They know inside them that right, wrong, good, evil, do objectively exist and furthermore act as such.

    2) They cannot cope with the logical implications of their position.

    3) They cannot allow the Divine foot in the door, they just cannot.

    Vivid

  4. 4
    StephenB says:

    vivid, I think that all three of your points are relevant. I would even add a fourth. Philosophy, as a separate study, has been corrupt for centuries. The academy cranks out second rate minds that could have been first rate minds if their teachers had been wise. Traditional philosophy, which includes thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, makes people smarter; postmodernist philosophy, which builds on the disastrous concepts promoted by Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Rorty, makes people stupid.

  5. 5
    jdk says:

    Wrong. There are other things I’ve written about essential reasons why Stephen et al are wrong over in the past couple threads that had my name and Sev’s in them. Any interested parties (of which there are probably none) can read them if they wish.

  6. 6
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    Wrong. There are other things I’ve written about essential reasons why Stephen et al are wrong over in the past couple threads that had my name and Sev’s in them. Any interested parties (of which there are probably none) can read them if they wish.

    That is not true. You have responded to the subject that vivid covered on this thread, and my response to him, but you have not responded to the major theme of this thread, namely that fact that you assume the truth of objective morality when you argue. That is a new point. I would not write a new post and cover the same old material. Obviously, you have not read it. If you want to weigh in, I will provide courteous and honest responses. However, you cannot expect to be taken seriously if you just fly in, say “wrong,” and fly back out.

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    Stephen,

    Allow me to translate jdk’s comment at 5 from materialist-speak into plain English. His comment translates roughly (I’m going for a dynamic equivalency here) to: “I’ve got nuthin.”

  8. 8
    jdk says:

    Stephen writes, “That is a new point”

    Nope its the same old argument that has been repeated here ad infinitum.

  9. 9
    jdk says:

    Barry, I’ve written a lot about this topic here lately. I have no idea whether you have read any of it, and I know you would not accept any of it anyway. It’s “nuthin'” to you, but that is not my problem.

  10. 10
    StephenB says:

    SB: “That is a new point”

    jdk

    Nope its the same old argument that has been repeated here ad infinitum.

    Please provide evidence for your claims so that I can evaluate it.

  11. 11
    StephenB says:

    Barry

    Allow me to translate jdk’s comment at 5 from materialist-speak into plain English. His comment translates roughly (I’m going for a dynamic equivalency here) to: “I’ve got nuthin.”

    Barry, I am surprised that jdk doesn’t realize that his unwillingness to address the topic will only diminish his credibility. Just for the record, no one has raised this issue as far as I know. Since jdk has obviously not read my post, he cannot possibly know the substance of my claims.

  12. 12
    StephenB says:

    “Barry, I’ve written a lot about this topic here lately.”

    In all sincerity, I would really like to know about it if that is the case. A single reference or link would suffice. Perhaps you wrote about a related issue rather than this particular issue. It would help if you read my post.

  13. 13
    jdk says:

    SB, I read your post. Nothing new there.

    And, as I’ve said (repeating myself) I’ve written quite a bit recent posts that have my name, AK’s name, and/or Sev’s name in the title. I’m not going to go back and look them up: you can if you wish.

  14. 14
    Seversky says:

    I admire the altruistic impulse that informs this comment, but I must begin with a qualifying question: How do you know that your sense of love, compassion, and empathy is “mature” unless there is some objective moral standard to differentiate between a mature sense and an immature sense?

    There is no requirement for an objective morality here, just the capacity to compare the current moral stance with one held in the past so as to note how it has evolved over time.

    According to the objective standard, mature love (Agape) involves an element of making sacrifices for the other, whereas immature love (Eros) is based simply on feelings and the thrill of being pleased by the other. Subjectivism, however, does not make these kinds of distinctions and cannot, therefore, identify what is mature and what is not.

    You have distinguished mature from immature love here and given what I assume are traditional grounds for making such a distinction, but you haven’t explained why we should consider them to be objective. As previously, it’s possible to make comparative judgments that do not depend on objective standards.

    To truly judge the act of murder, it is not enough to express wishes and desires. One must consider principled reasons why potential victims are entitled to live – what is it about them or their nature that gives them that right? – and why murderers deserve to be punished – what is it about their act that demands satisfaction? Subjective morality cannot even begin to address those issues.

    Of course it can. It proceeds from the imagined suffering of the victim and the observed grief of the victim’s family and friends. None of us would wish to experience that nor would we wish it on others. In other words, empathy is probably the strongest and surest foundation for any morality. We also take into consideration the fact that it is beyond our power to restore a life once it has been taken and that, if there is no afterlife, then that is the greatest harm one person can do to another. That someone could commit such an act with impunity is an outrageous affront to any sense of fairness and justice.

    Again, you have stepped into the arena of objective morality. In order to know what benefits society, one must first know what is good for society. Among other things, the good of survival is connected to the good of procreating the species, which in turn, is connected to the good of forming communities, all of which are objectively good benefits because they are consistent with man’s social nature. This all makes perfect sense.

    Social benefits are what members of a society individually and in concert judge them to be based on their own self-interests. Like everyone else, I want to survive for as long as I can and to have the means to do so in as comfortable and secure an environment as possible. I see no need to justify that belief nor do I require it of others but I will respect the interests of others in return for their respecting mine.

    Subjective morality, on the other hand, does not recognize natural goods or natural rights, or natural obligations.

    Natural rights like natural moral law are just another way of asserting without justification the existence of objective morality.

    Thus, it cannot address the subject of what “benefits” society

    Of course it can. See above.

    (Moral subjectivism is more than just an exercise in irrational thinking. When humans try to fashion their own morality, an immoral culture of misery and death always follows. If objective morality doesn’t exist, then the moral code [and the civil law derived from it] is whatever those who are in power want it to be, and they want what is good for them, always at the expense of everyone else).

    Oh, please. Human beings are fallible creatures and easily corrupted by wealth and power. People have done great harm to their fellows in the name of both religious beliefs and political ideologies, in many cases apparently convinced that they are acting on behalf of some Absolute (and, hence, objective) Truth. You fly planes into buildings if you are convinced that is what your god requires of you and that you will be rewarded for it in an eternal afterlife. You don’t do it if you doubt that sort of thing is true.

    In spite of yourself, you recognize the self-evident truth that objective morality exists, both at the individual and societal level. So much so, that even in the process of denying it you end up confirming it against your will.

    Okay, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that an objective morality exists. By claiming it is objective you are asserting that it exists somewhere and in some form other than as ideals held in the minds of their adherents. So where is it? How is it stored? Is it encrypted in the human genome? Is it some sort of energy field like the Higgs field? Is it some sort of quantum phenomenon? In other words, you do realize that if it influences the way we behave in some way, if it is therefore some sort of causally-efficacious objective phenomenon then we should be able to detect it in some way other than just our subjective moral preferences?

    I don’t acknowledge that self-evident truths exist in any universal sense nor do I recognize the existence of an objective morality. What I do see is the old story of people attempting to annex the moral high ground by claiming that their preferred morality is the objective one. The danger with that position is that there is an inherent temptation to impose that morality – by force if necessary – for the supposed god of all. And we all know where that sort of thinking leads.

  15. 15
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    SB, I read your post. Nothing new there.

    That is simply not true. No one has raised the issues I raised.

    And, as I’ve said (repeating myself) I’ve written quite a bit recent posts that have my name, AK’s name, and/or Sev’s name in the title. I’m not going to go back and look them up: you can if you wish.

    I did go back. I could find no one who wrote on this particular topic.

  16. 16
    jdk says:

    Did you read any of the opening posts by kf? He continually makes the point that to make any “ought” statement whatsoever relies on accepting “ought” at the world root level. Do you ever read his stuff?

  17. 17
    StephenB says:

    seversky

    There is no requirement for an objective morality here, just the capacity to compare the current moral stance with one held in the past so as to note how it has evolved over time.

    Oh, but there *is* a requirement for objective morality. If love is “mature,” then, by definition, it is of a higher form than immature love. Unless there is an objective standard that defines the highest form of love and the lower forms of love, then the phrase “mature love” is meaningless. Evolution has nothing to do with it because a higher form of love can precede a lower form of love. People don’t automatically become more loving over time, they often become less loving. The issue is whether or not a hierarchy of love forms exist. JDK assumed, unwittingly, that such a hierarchy does exist when he used the word “mature.”

  18. 18
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    Did you read any of the opening posts by kf? He continually makes the point that to make any “ought” statement whatsoever relies on accepting “ought” at the world root level. Do you ever read his stuff?

    The difference is that my theme discusses unconscious acceptance, is example oriented, and focuses exclusively on your description of judging morality, as opposed to kf’s stated philosophy. Also, I deal with the subject of moral hierarchies, scales, and contiuums where kf does not.

  19. 19
    StephenB says:

    SB: Subjective morality cannot judge murder.

    seversky

    Of course it can. It proceeds from the imagined suffering of the victim and the observed grief of the victim’s family and friends.

    Subjective morality cannot explain why the victim is entitled to live or why the murderer deserves to be punished.

  20. 20
    Origenes says:

    According to Seversky, subjective morality can judge murder. “It proceeds from the imagined suffering of the victim and the observed grief of the victim’s family and friends” he writes.
    Seversky, does subjective morality say anything about suffering and grief? Or is it neutral on this issues?
    If subjective morality is neutral on suffering — suffering is neither good nor bad —, then how does subjective morality proceed towards judgment?

  21. 21
    Barry Arrington says:

    Stephen’s exchange with jdk in this thread is kind of amusing and really sad at the same time.

    Rather than even attempt to address Stephen’s argument, JDK insists on arguing that he has already refuted it in some nameless posts that he refuses to link to.

    Again, JDK, a single link will show you right. I won’t hold my breath.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Origenes says:

    jdk #5: Wrong. There are other things I’ve written about essential reasons why Stephen et al are wrong over in the past couple threads that had my name and Sev’s in them.

    Barry Arrington #21: JDK insists on arguing that he has already refuted it in some nameless posts that he refuses to link to.

    jdk #22: I did not claim that I had refuted Stephen.

    All I said is that I’ve written lots lately because this subject has been the topic of multiple posts.

    Please represent me accurately.

  24. 24
    jdk says:

    Different things. I can explain why I think someone is wrong without claiming that what I have offered is a logical refutation. Logical arguments include assumptions, and one can disagree with the assumptions, at which point further logical arguments based on those assumptions are not very relevant: it is the assumptions that are at issue.

  25. 25
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    Rather than even attempt to address Stephen’s argument, JDK insists on arguing that he has already refuted it in some nameless posts that he refuses to link to.

    I have followed these different threads and I don’t recall jdk claiming to have refuted anyone on this subject.

  26. 26
    Allan Keith says:

    jdk,

    And, as I’ve said (repeating myself) I’ve written quite a bit recent posts that have my name, AK’s name, and/or Sev’s name in the title. I’m not going to go back and look them up: you can if you wish.

    I’m beginning to think that there would be no opinion pieces written here if it weren’t for idk, Sev and myself. We should be asking for royalties. 🙂

  27. 27
    Origenes says:

    JDK @24

    jdk: Different things. I can explain why I think someone is wrong without claiming that what I have offered is a logical refutation.

    Moving goal posts. You have written that you have provided “essential reasons” why Stephen is “wrong.” No matter how you spin it, this boils down to the claim that you have refuted Stephen.

    Now you say that your “essential reasons” are not a logical refutation. Well, that is pretty irrelevant, since no one, certainly not Barry, has made any claims about your “essential reasons”. They may be logical or otherwise, we have no way of knowing since you still refuse to link to them.

  28. 28
    jdk says:

    No. I can provide essential reasons for something (why we should provide easily available, inexpensive contraceptives, for example) without “refuting” someone who thinks we shouldn’t.

    And I provided links to three recent discussions. I’m not going to do the work of sorting out the various posts: go read my (and AK’s and Sev’s) posts on those threads if you want.

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    jdk (today)

    And, as I’ve said (repeating myself) I’ve written quite a bit recent posts that have my name, AK’s name, and/or Sev’s name in the title. I’m not going to go back and look them up: you can if you wish.

    Jdk (on kf’s May 28 thread)

    I have done this before, and am not going to do it again, especially because of the point I am trying to make here, which is that you have an unwarranted dogmatic belief that the metaphysics you offer is the only valid metaphysics possible.

    Is that what you mean when you say you “have done this before?” I read much of what was on those threads, and I could not find any response that is remotely related to the subject matter that I have brought up in this post.

    By the way, I could have written another post on Allan Keith using his own quotes (as I used yours) to make the same case against him. Apparently, the only defense subjectivists can muster is this: “You are a dogmatist, and I am open minded.” Isn’t that about it.

    Three cheers for seversky, who at least had a go at it. Hopefully, I will get a chance to address more of his comments later today.

  30. 30
    Origenes says:

    JDK @28

    Stop moving the goalposts jdk. Your claim (#5) that you have provided “essential reasons” why Stephen is “wrong” boils down to a claim of having refuted Stephen.

  31. 31
    jdk says:

    Interesting. Origenes point is another example of the critical issue here, to which I dissent: that any use of normative language implies some objective referent, and that unimpeded logic is the tool by which disagreements are settled. Any argument that this is otherwise, by referring to value and differing metaphysical assumptions, is dismissed as subjective, and the first step on a very slippery slope to inevitable nihilism.

    This is, as I have said, bogus philosophy.

  32. 32
    Allan Keith says:

    jdk,

    This is, as I have said, bogus philosophy.

    And, by use of the word “IS”, you are making an objective claim about truth. But you have said that there is no objective truth. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  33. 33
    jdk says:

    Stephen quotes me as saying: “You have an unwarranted dogmatic belief that the metaphysics you offer is the only valid metaphysics possible.” (This was addressed to kf, I think, but it applies to Stephen.

    So I’ll say again, if there is no “objective” metaphysical nature of the universe which includes the idea of morality, then all of Stephen’s argument are for naught. I disagree with his assumption that this exists.

    So now I’m going to do what I’ve been resisting: quote from previous threads. In the “responding to sev moral claims” thread I wrote to Stephen:

    Stephen B, read 4 and 12: human values come from our biological nature, and some are universal enough that we might claim objective knowledge of them, but that is knowledge of human beings, not knowledge of some unseen aspect of the universe.

    So just point to people using the language of ought is not evidence that ought is part of the universe.

    Also, at 38 on the Sev, JDK thread, I wrote,

    What you or anyone thinks, irrespective of whether your reasoning seems logically impeccable to you, has no effect on how the world really is. If there is no God, and no moral component to the universe, then that’s the way it is, and your belief that it is otherwise is irrelevant.

    That may lead to conclusions about human beings that you find totally unacceptable, but the universe doesn’t care about your feelings, or what you think is irrefutable logic.

    What you provided is not evidence that there is connection between humankind’s moral nature and some moral nature of the universe.

    Likewise, the fact that the lack of such a moral nature of the universe might lead to things we here would all agree are horrible is not evidence of a moral nature to the universe. As the quote above says, if that’s the way it is then we just have to do the best we can with the human nature we’ve got. Tough if you don’t like: what you like is not an argument.

    That’s not a “refutation”. That a statement that I don’t agree with his assumption about the nature of the universe. This is an issue that is beyond logic, because it’s undecidable by any evidence. We can both provide reasons why we think our respective assumptions are correct, but we can’t prove they are correct. We can share our thoughts and try to be an influence on other people’s judgments, but ultimately each person as to choose the big picture notions that they think are best for them to live by. (Allan wrote some good posts about that.)

  34. 34
    Mung says:

    It’s the objective moral code of whatever makes me happy.

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    jdk:

    Any interested parties (of which there are probably none) can read them if they wish.

    I just want to know why I ought to read them. Is there some moral obligation present that I am missing out on?

    ETA: It would make you happy if I read them, therefore I ought to read them?

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    Seversky:

    You have distinguished mature from immature love here and given what I assume are traditional grounds for making such a distinction, but you haven’t explained why we should consider them to be objective.

    So? Are you saying he ought to do that, that he has some moral obligation to do that?

    Help me out here guys. What do these ever present implicit oughts and obligations you keep insisting on inserting into the conversation arise from?

  37. 37
    Mung says:

    Nice thread StephenB. The problem is immediately apparent.

  38. 38
    Mung says:

    jdk:

    Please represent me accurately.

    Because that would make you happy, and we ought to, in fact we have a moral obligation to, make you happy?

    This is getting tedious.

  39. 39
    Mung says:

    Allan Keith:

    I have followed these different threads and I don’t recall jdk claiming to have refuted anyone on this subject.

    So?

  40. 40
    Mung says:

    I am just laughing and shaking my head. Statement after statement of implied moral ought and obligation.

    Nothing to see here folks. Move long.

  41. 41
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    Stephen quotes me as saying: “You have an unwarranted dogmatic belief that the metaphysics you offer is the only valid metaphysics possible.” (This was addressed to kf, I think, but it applies to Stephen.

    Ad hominem arguments are not persuasive. *Stephen is dogmatic,* *Stephen is dogmatic,* *Stephen is dogmatic* does not refute *JDK argues against objective morality – by assuming the truth of objective morality.*

    So I’ll say again, if there is no “objective” metaphysical nature of the universe which includes the idea of morality, then all of Stephen’s argument are for naught. I disagree with his assumption that this exists.

    I don’t think you are getting it. The argument is not that Stephen assumes that objective morality exists. The argument is that JDK assumes that objective morality exists (and doesn’t even know it).

    So now I’m going to do what I’ve been resisting: quote from previous threads. In the “responding to sev moral claims” thread I wrote to Stephen:

    What you wrote on previous threads is irrelevant because you didn’t address the present topic.

  42. 42
    StephenB says:

    Mung @37, thank you. Yes, my adversaries are outraged that I would violate the very same tenets of objective morality that they claim do not exist (even as they prove that they don’t believe what they claim).

    As the first sentence of my post reads, “Moral subjectivists never fail to entertain me when they try to make their philosophy seem reasonable and workable.

  43. 43
    LocalMinimum says:

    jdk @ 24:

    Different things. I can explain why I think someone is wrong without claiming that what I have offered is a logical refutation. Logical arguments include assumptions, and one can disagree with the assumptions, at which point further logical arguments based on those assumptions are not very relevant: it is the assumptions that are at issue.

    If you can refute the assumptions themselves, you’ve made a contradiction of their argument at a deeper level, i.e. you’ve offered an even stronger logical refutation.

    Unless what you’re standing on is the subjectivity of axiomatic choices; in which case you’re expanding your appeal to “subjective logic”.

    @ 31:

    …that any use of normative language implies some objective referent, and that unimpeded logic is the tool by which disagreements are settled. Any argument that this is otherwise, by referring to value and differing metaphysical assumptions, is dismissed as subjective, and the first step on a very slippery slope to inevitable nihilism.

    It isn’t nihilism necessarily, but fanaticism that one slides into without considering the meta.

    You can assert an ambiguity between a set of axiomatic bases, but you still need to support your assertion, by stepping into the meta and making objective claims there; otherwise it reduces to a vacuous appeal to subjectivity.

    Pure unblemished agnosticism means not having to say you’re wrong. Or right. Or anybody else is either. Or anything, really.

  44. 44
    jdk says:

    Stephen, I can assure you that you, and all my conversations here, are not anywhere close to being important enough for me to be outraged about! 🙂

  45. 45
    jdk says:

    Stephen, you write “What you wrote on previous threads is irrelevant because you didn’t address the present topic”

    What you wrote in the OP is just one example after another of the basic issue: your belief that one cannot make an normative statement, be it about love, health, benefits to society, etc., without invoking the reality of there being objective standards to which those statements must relate.

    It is this assumption that I disagree with, and it is this issue that I have made some remarks about in past threads, (and quoted again in 33).

    Therefore, addressing each one of your points separately in pointless, as it is the same issue over and over again.

    And I’ll note that you don’t actually respond to this main point, as I wrote in 33: if there is not any moral component to the universe, no objective standards, no God, then all that you invoke in your arguments is irrelevant, no matter how many uses of normative language you apply it to.

  46. 46
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    I think your missing SBs point. It doesn’t matter that you reject SB’s position regarding the existence of objective morality. Heck SB may even grant you that for the sake of argument. It doesn’t matter because SB is asking an entirely different question.

    “but you have not responded to the major theme of this thread, namely that fact that you assume the truth of objective morality when you argue”

    JDK why do you assume the truth of objective morality when you argue? Thats the question SB is asking.

    Vivid

  47. 47
    vividbleau says:

    I should have said. “I think its at least one of the questions SB is asking”

    Vivid

  48. 48
    StephenB says:

    seversky

    You have distinguished mature from immature love here and given what I assume are traditional grounds for making such a distinction, but you haven’t explained why we should consider them to be objective.

    Virtue, by definition, is an objective moral concept – a good habit acquired through practice. In order to know what virtue really is, we need an objective standard, such as the Golden Mean, to make that determination. Subjectivism doesn’t recognize a Golden Mean because it doesn’t recognize extremes.

  49. 49
    jdk says:

    I don’t. Just because I use words like good, and health, and beneficial, doesn’t mean that I am invoking objective standards. The only reason you think that is because you think those objective standards exist. But I’m not responsible for tailoring my language to your assumptions.

    When I say something is good, I’m applying a whole complex of ideas, knowledge, chosen values to that judgment. It’s a human choice: subjective if you will, but coming from a educated, responsible, humane human being. And that’s all there is: there is no objective standards to fall back on.

    This is free will at work. These are my choices.

    The word “good” only means “good in respect to some objective standards” to those who believe in those standards.

    To those who don’t, it means “good in respect to my overall understanding of who I am, as internally experienced, and who human beings are.”

    As I have said, I know the rejoinder is that therefore anything goes, might makes right, etc., but experience shows us that is false. There are forces (genetic, personal, social) that focus most people’s sense of goodness around a common core.

    I’m not going to re-quote myself, but see #33 for more thoughts on this.

  50. 50
    vividbleau says:

    JDK,
    “The only reason you think that is because you think those objective standards exist”

    Ahh no! I just hate intellectual dishonesty in all it shapes and forms. If I did not think objective standards existed I would hope I would be intellectually honest enough to follow what SB wrote in # 2. Please read that again to see what I mean.

    So no that is not the only reason.

    Vivid

  51. 51
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    What you wrote in the OP is just one example after another of the basic issue: your belief that one cannot make an normative statement, be it about love, health, benefits to society, etc., without [invoking] the reality of there being objective standards to which those statements must relate.

    Why did you change the word “assume” to to the word “invoke?” Was that an accident or are you dissembling? [a] It is true that one cannot make a normative statement about morality without *assuming* (not invoking) objective standards [b] It is also true that you, yourself, assume objective standards when you make normative statements about morality and [c] I proved that both {[a] and [b] are true with my examples. Perhaps the most persuasive element about my argument (and my examples) is the fact that you steadfastly refuse to address them.

    It is this assumption that I disagree with, and it is this issue that I have made some remarks about in past threads, (and quoted again in 33).

    But you clearly make *this same assumption* in your arguments even as you claim to disagree with it. That is the point of the post. I think you are just pretending not to grasp the point so that you can keep evading it.

    On top of that, you have never, in my awareness, presented any arguments against this assumption, even as kf expresses it – except to say that anyone who believes it is dogmatic. That isn’t an argument. It is an adhominem attack.

    Therefore, addressing each one of your points separately in pointless, as it is the same issue over and over again.

    As far as I can tell, you have never addressed any phase of that argument. You have merely said that you disagree with it. We all know that. What we don’t know is why. Do you know?

    And I’ll note that you don’t actually respond to this main point, as I wrote in 33: if there is not any moral component to the universe, no objective standards, no God, then all that you invoke in your arguments is irrelevant, no matter how many uses of normative language you apply it to.

    Is that supposed to be a profound observation of some kind? I already know that and so does everyone else. The point can be made even more simply. If God doesn’t exist, then nothing else matters. Are you just now discovering that?

  52. 52
    ET says:

    Allan:

    I’m beginning to think that there would be no opinion pieces written here if it weren’t for idk, Sev and myself.

    The point of those threads is all you have is your misguided opinions with only like-minded people for support.

  53. 53
    jdk says:

    Stephen writes, ” If God doesn’t exist, then nothing else matters.”

    And to that I profoundly disagree. That is, however, a succinct way of expressing the heart of the matter.

    God doesn’t exist, and things do matter.

    I choose to believe that, and live by it.

    But now that things are so clear, I think further discussions of sub-points is not likely to be constructive.

  54. 54
    vividbleau says:

    JDK
    “As I have said, I know the rejoinder is that therefore anything goes, might makes right, etc., but experience shows us that is false. “

    Ahhhh no!!

    Vivid

  55. 55
    jdk says:

    How about some intellectual honesty, Vivid. My full statement said “There are forces (genetic, personal, social) that focus most people’s sense of goodness around a common core.”

    What I wrote is true.

  56. 56
    asauber says:

    most people’s sense of goodness around a common core

    jdk,

    You have just come very close to asserting Natural Law.

    Andrew

  57. 57
    vividbleau says:

    JDK RE 55

    I am having a hard time understanding the relevance of your comment to the post I referred you to ie 2 on this thread. SB calls it the “honest subjectivist” I would add the word “intellectually “ honest subjectivist…

    “the honest subjectivist would say, “I don’t think murder is immoral (which means objectively moral) but I find it very, very, very distasteful. Still, I am not going to abuse the language by redefining the worlds “bad,” “evil,” “good,” “moral,” or “immoral” in attempt to have it both ways. Those things don’t exist. The universe just is and it has no moral component, nor does any of its creatures.” That is the kind of transparency I would hope for.”

    Vivid

  58. 58
    jdk says:

    Interesting point, but, to be clear, I am asserting that this core is based on our shared biological nature, not on any outside metaphysical entity or reality.

    Also, empirical data shows us that this common core expresses itself in a very wide range of ways: it is very flexible, adaptive, and has a strong cultural component.

  59. 59
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    What I wrote is true.

    Do you mean objectively true? (in conformity with objective reality) or subjectively true (“in respect to my overall understanding of who I am, as internally experienced, and who human beings are.”)

  60. 60
    jdk says:

    I didn’t respond to 50, vivid., so I don’t know what comment you are referring to in 57.

  61. 61
    asauber says:

    our shared biological nature

    jdk,

    Do you have a scientific explanation of this nature?

    Andrew

  62. 62
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    I was responding to your comment to me in 55. Since my previous comment to you was in 50 I assumed that was what you were commenting on.

    Vivid

  63. 63
    jdk says:

    No, I was responding to 54.

  64. 64
    jdk says:

    re 61: the fields of anthropology, sociology, and psychology all empirical study human nature.

    The explanation starts with the fact that we are all human beings, and share the basic same genetic makeup. However, because we are dependent on learning and have few instincts in comparison to other animals, culture plays a huge part in how our genetic core plays out.

    For example, all normal human beings raised in a society learn to speak a language as part of normal development. However, the details of that language differ widely, and start to show up very early in life based on what the child hears around them.

  65. 65
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    I was responding to this

    “As I have said, I know the rejoinder is that therefore anything goes, might makes right, etc., but experience shows us that is false.”

    No that is not our experience but this is a topic that is rather nuanced and i dont have the time to expand on this. Perhaps later tonight.

    “There are forces (genetic, personal, social) that focus most people’s sense of goodness around a common core.”

    This part doesn’t change that our experience shows us that might makes right is false, is false. So where is the intellectual dishonesty on my part?

    Vivid

  66. 66
    Origenes says:

    JDK continually argues that the universe has no moral component. He uses the word “universe” 9 times in post #33 and many more times in this thread.
    However, proponents of objective morality do not argue that the universe has a moral component. Objective morality has no physical properties.

    Moving on …

    JDK: [I judge that murder is wrong] because my mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy for other human beings is such that I desire for them as much right to life as I desire for myself.

    You speak highly of your “mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy for other human beings” but, according to subjective morality this is no better than, let’s say, an immature sense of hate towards other human beings.
    The core concept of subjective morality is that there is not such a thing as a “better moral position.” According to subjective morality every moral position is just as good (or as bad) as any other moral position.

    So, a consequent subjective moralist can only say that he happens to dislike murder, but he cannot say, as you do, that murder is wrong.

  67. 67
    jdk says:

    re 66: I use the word universe to include both the physical universe and whatever metaphysical aspect of the universe that there might be.

    My last response to your other point was at 49.

  68. 68
    jdk says:

    re 59: I think empirical evidence exists about the nature of human beings to support my conclusion. There is a difference between objective knowledge of the physical world and the claim that we can have objective knowledge of the metaphysical. Objective moral standards don’t exist, but it is an objectively well-supported conclusion that virtually all people have feelings of love and affection for at least some members of their society, for instance.

    The phrase “in respect to my overall understanding of who I am, as internally experienced, and who human beings are.” was about the word “good”, not about the statement that ““There are forces (genetic, personal, social) that focus most people’s sense of goodness around a common core.” I think that statement is supported by evidence.

  69. 69
    Allan Keith says:

    If morality is objective and universal, what was it doing for the first 13.7+ billion years?

  70. 70
    asauber says:

    jdk,

    Your response to me doesn’t contain an explanation. Its an irrelevant description of a lot of irrelevancies.

    Andrew

  71. 71
    Origenes says:

    JDK: I use the word universe to include both the physical universe and whatever metaphysical aspect of the universe that there might be.

    Objective morality is not posited as an aspect of the universe, “metaphysical” or otherwise. God is also not part of the universe. When we say “God created the universe” we do not mean to say that God created himself.

  72. 72
    StephenB says:

    JDK:

    [I judge that murder is wrong] because my mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy for other human beings is such that I desire for them as much right to life as I desire for myself.

    I would ask a two-part question:

    What criterion do you use to differentiate between a mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy and an immature sense of love, compassion, and empathy?

    At what stage of a human fetus’s developmental process would you desire for it the same right to life as you desire for yourself?

  73. 73
    jdk says:

    asauber: do you not think information about the nature of genetics and the development of human beings from that genetics is scientific knowledge?

  74. 74
    StephenB says:

    SB: You wrote, “what I say is true.” Did you mean objectively true? (in conformity with objective reality) or subjectively true (“in respect to my overall understanding of who I am, as internally experienced, and who human beings are.”)

    jdk

    I think empirical evidence exists about the nature of human beings to support my conclusion. There is a difference between objective knowledge of the physical world and the claim that we can have objective knowledge of the metaphysical. Objective moral standards don’t exist, but it is an objectively well-supported conclusion that virtually all people have feelings of love and affection for at least some members of their society, for instance.

    I think you must have lost track of the question. When you say “true,” do you mean objectively true or subjectively true.

    The phrase “in respect to my overall understanding of who I am, as internally experienced, and who human beings are.” was about the word “good”, not about the statement that ““There are forces (genetic, personal, social) that focus most people’s sense of goodness around a common core.” I think that statement is supported by evidence.

    You have definitely lost track of the question. Again, when you say true, do you mean objectively true or subjectively true? I have to ask because when you say good, you mean subjectively good.

  75. 75
    jdk says:

    re 72: I responded to your last question in 68.

  76. 76
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    re 72: I responded to your last question in 68.

    No, you didn’t, but I will let it go. You have been pretty busy lately.

    What about my two-part question at 72?

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, As my handle has come up. Now, notice how the above brims over with the assumption that in our thinking, reading, writing etc we have binding duties of care to truth, right, fairness etc? {As in, exactly as SB pointed out.] Ponder now if such duties as perceived are merely genetically or psychosocially conditioned delusions, and where that leads. First, mind pervaded by delusion, utterly undermining its credibility. Second, what’s left is simply an instrument of manipulation using the widespread delusion as a lever of influence. With both in play, absurdity and opening the door to nihilism. We may safely reject such, if necessary using the yardstick case of a RW child kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered for someone’s sick pleasure as a means of clearing the air of subjectivist or relativist fog. We are morally governed by binding principles that are naturally evident, starting with our minds. This then leads to the question, how does this find its place in a coherent, integrated worldview? Post Hume, that has to be at world-root level, on pain of ungrounded ought . . . see how different the real argument is from the cartoon version that appears above? Now, let the objector provide a viable candidate on comparative difficulties: _____ or else substantiate subjectivism or relativism without incoherence, undermining mind and responsible reason, or opening the door to nihilism _____ . KF

  78. 78
    jdk says:

    Hmm. For the record, Stephen, you edited 72 and took out the part that I responded to in 75, so now my 75 makes no sense. That’s a bit confusing.

  79. 79
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    Hmm. For the record, Stephen, you edited 72 and took out the part that I responded to in 75, so now my 75 makes no sense. That’s a bit confusing.

    No edit. You wrote this:

    JDK: [I judge that murder is wrong] because my mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy for other human beings is such that I desire for them as much right to life as I desire for myself.

    Based on that unedited statement, I asked two questions that are in complete accord with it:

    What criterion do you use to differentiate between a mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy and an immature sense of love, compassion, and empathy?

    At what stage of a human fetus’s developmental process would you desire for it the same right to life as you desire for yourself?

  80. 80
    jdk says:

    re 74, where I wrote,

    There are forces (genetic, personal, social) that focus most people’s sense of goodness around a common core.”

    What I wrote is true.

    Stephen wants to know

    Did you mean objectively true? (in conformity with objective reality) or subjectively true (“in respect to my overall understanding of who I am, as internally experienced, and who human beings are.”)

    First, I’ll remind Stephen that he is not quoting me completely: I wrote in 49

    [The word “good”] … means “good in respect to my overall understanding of who I am, as internally experienced, and who human beings are.”

    So that phrase was about moral judgments, not about the sentence Stephen is asking me about now.

    But here are a few thoughts on the issue. We all use an approach informally like science in gaining objective knowledge of the world. We have empirical experiences that at least in theory can be experienced by others, we try to understand those experiences in light of other understanding that we are fairly comfortable with, we verify our understanding with others, we make inferences and create theories for ourself, etc. And like science, we can be wrong.

    But as long as our knowledge is based on empirical experiences open to others, I would say it was objective knowledge.

    However, there is some knowledge that is only accessible to me: I might tell people what I think (which is observable, and objective knowledge to others), but no one can look into my mind and see my subjective experiences. That I think hurting people is wrong, or that I love my wife, or that I feel sorry for the homeless guy on the street, are subjective. Although they include objective knowledge, they also include values, principle, moral judgments, etc. that only I can experience.

    So the subjective and the objective mingle in most of our life.

    However, going back to “There are forces (genetic, personal, social) that focus most people’s sense of goodness around a common core.” I think the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, and psychology) would support that statement.

    Now there are all sort of qualifications to this statement, both about individuals and societies. It’s also an objectively true fact that often people’s sense of goodness only extends so far sometimes (family, or local community, or nation), and it’s true that most people, some much more than others, behave poorly to some people in some situations and much better in others.

    But overall, with all these qualifications, my statement is objectively true, as it is supported by a great deal of empirical evidence.

  81. 81
    jdk says:

    No Stephen, at one time post 72 had an additional sentence under what is there now, and it is to that that I replied in 75.

    I think the sentence that you started 74 with might have been the sentence that once was at the bottom of 72, but I’m not sure.

  82. 82
    OldAndrew says:

    I agree with those who believe that morality is objective. I disagree with those who say that it is not.

    But it boggles my mind what anyone hopes to gain by endlessly picking at it and going at it again and again, saying the same things again and again. It comes across as fixated and self-righteous.

    On this, JDK’s logic is sound: The objectivity of morality depends on the existence of God or on the existence of something else that makes that objective morality real. Some of us believe in that. Some don’t.

    If someone does not believe in God or any other source of objective morality, they are still entitled to say that murder is wrong and that love is good, for whatever reason that they wish to do so. Let whoever says otherwise cite the source of their authority to look down on another person and judge their conscience, which is exactly what you’re doing.

    I happen to believe that when anyone exhibits common aspects of morality, they demonstrate (non-scientifically) the existence of a source of such morality whether they know it or not. That’s because the evolution of honesty and compassion are as much of a fantasy as evolution of an eye or a cell nucleus.

    But if someone does not see that or doesn’t believe it, and still feels that lying is bad and caring for others is good, it’s hard for me to comprehend what sort of disturbed outlook obsesses over finding fault with it. My best guess is extreme self-righteousness.

    The argument depends on telling others – ad nauseum – that if think that child torture is wrong but don’t believe in objective morality, then they don’t really think that child torture is wrong – they just think that they think that child torture is wrong.

    Good luck with that. I can’t think of a worse possible way to persuade someone that you’re right and they’re wrong, even if you’re right and they’re wrong. I can think of quite a few equally pointless arguments to carry on for months and years on end, but I suppose those don’t come with the same gratification of feeling superior.

  83. 83
    StephenB says:

    jdk: How does this sound? Forget all about the editing or perceived editing and let’s start over.

    You wrote: [I judge that murder is wrong] because my mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy for other human beings is such that I desire for them as much right to life as I desire for myself.

    What criterion do you use to differentiate between a mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy and an immature sense of love, compassion, and empathy?

    At what stage of a human fetus’s developmental process would you desire for it the same right to life as you desire for yourself?

  84. 84
    jdk says:

    to OldAndrew at 82: I really appreciate your post. What a refreshing outlook. Thanks.

  85. 85
    jdk says:

    re 83: We’ve already seen how you respond to my answers to questions like that. We have a whole thread where we’ve offered thoughts on that. No sense in starting over with new topics.

  86. 86
    Seversky says:

    StephenB @ 17

    Oh, but there *is* a requirement for objective morality. If love is “mature,” then, by definition, it is of a higher form than immature love. Unless there is an objective standard that defines the highest form of love and the lower forms of love, then the phrase “mature love” is meaningless. Evolution has nothing to do with it because a higher form of love can precede a lower form of love. People don’t automatically become more loving over time, they often become less loving. The issue is whether or not a hierarchy of love forms exist. JDK assumed, unwittingly, that such a hierarchy does exist when he used the word “mature.”

    Actually, several terms in this discussion are ill-defined. What do we mean by “mature and “immature” or “higher” and “lower”? Why is “mature” love a “higher” form than “immature”? It sounds as if mature love is distinguished by a degree of selflessness in that the well-being of the loved always takes priority over that of the lover but why should anyone or anything not human and of this Earth care about that at all? Isn’t it only of importance to us?

  87. 87

    KF @ 77: Excellent points!

  88. 88
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    re 83: We’ve already seen how you respond to my answers to questions like that. We have a whole thread where we’ve offered thoughts on that. No sense in starting over with new topics.

    I think readers understand why you are afraid to answer my questions. You’re credibility is going down, down, down.

    But that’s OK. I want readers and lurkers to understand that subjectivists (not just you) cannot defend their philosophy. It’s important for people to know that.

  89. 89
    jdk says:

    My guess is that other lurkers here are learning some things, with different conclusions, about the relevant merits of our positions, although lurkers who agree with you are probably more prevalent than those that agree with me, due to the general perspective of the site.

    And of course, the question of whether I am learning anything, or otherwise benefitting from this, is a question that only I can answer, and the same for you.

  90. 90
    StephenB says:

    Seversky

    Actually, several terms in this discussion are ill-defined. What do we mean by “mature and “immature” or “higher” and “lower”? Why is “mature” love a “higher” form than “immature”? It sounds as if mature love is distinguished by a degree of selflessness in that the well-being of the loved always takes priority over that of the lover but why should anyone or anything not human and of this Earth care about that at all? Isn’t it only of importance to us?

    You are off to a good start by saying that the higher forms of love are distinguished by acts of selflessness and concern for the other. It’s also a question of loving the right things. A higher form of love is present in one who loves noble things, such as God, neighbor, wisdom, and truth, than in one who loves ignoble things, such as power, fame, money, and debauchery,

    The good news is that the human will can be trained to love the things that are worth loving and to disdain the things that are not worth loving. In that context, the task is to form the right kinds of habits – to practice behaving in ways that improve one’s character and increase the capacity for love.

    In fact, mature lovers do not always feel like loving, but they do it anyway because they have trained themselves to do loving things. It is much easier to love noble things if one cultivates virtues, such as prudence, temperance, justice, and courage, and eliminates vices, such as laziness, recklessness, injustice, and cowardice.

    The other good news is that man can build a large measure of natural virtue through practice and can even rise to the level of supernatural virtue with God’s help. The highest of all forms of love is found in the model of Jesus Christ, and the main task of the Christian is to form his character as closely as possible to that model – to rise to the level of self-sacrificial love.

    Indeed, this is both our earthly task and our heavenly task in the sense that we begin our heaven here by preparing for heaven in the hereafter. This is the purpose of man’s existence- to begin the union with God in this life and extend it into the next life. That is why God would care about how man conducts himself on earth. He wants as many success stories as possible.

  91. 91
    DATCG says:

    OldAndrew,

    It’s called a discussion on a topic made by someone like jdk which as pointed out was wrong.

    Now you may not like it, but then you don’t have to participate do you? You can simply look at other subjects that are posted here. Griping on your own high horse is just that.

    Many topics are covered here repeatedly because they come up repeatedly and are repeatedly abused by atheist, agnostics or mistakenly.

    Routinely here the other side does exactly what you stated as well, constantly picking on issues. It takes two to tango. Holding someone accountable in this forum is done all the time.

    “But if someone does not see that or doesn’t believe it, and still feels that lying is bad and caring for others is good, it’s hard for me to comprehend what sort of disturbed outlook obsesses over finding fault with it.”

    Wrong, absolutely wrong. It’s correcting failed logic. If you don’t like it, move on.

    “My best guess is extreme self-righteousness.”

    So, you judge others harshly and that is OK. But truth is you have no clue the motivations, you just “guess” what it is as if you are right and “righteous” in your condemnation of it.

    “The argument depends on telling others – ad nauseum – that if think that child torture is wrong but don’t believe in objective morality, then they don’t really think that child torture is wrong – they just think that they think that child torture is wrong.”

    And yet you ignore how often atheist and agnostics here tell others ad nauseam how wrong ID thinkers are wrong, silly and deride them constantly with their own hubris. Funny how you overlook it.

    “Good luck with that. I can’t think of a worse possible way to persuade someone that you’re right and they’re wrong, even if you’re right and they’re wrong.”

    This may be the one area you’re right. Style may matter, how the message is delivered, debated, etc. But we’re all human, correct?

    “I can think of quite a few equally pointless arguments to carry on for months and years on end, but I suppose those don’t come with the same gratification of feeling superior.”

    Again, you are assigning judgment without knowing the heart of the person you’re attacking. While ignoring those on the other side who might be “feeling” just as “superior” to everyone here as well. Why do you ignore that? You know it happens.

    Certainly you must admit it happens? Or, are atheist, agnostics here not smug, supercritical, sarcastic name callers and look down upon others here? I’ve seen it often, where have you been?

    None of us are perfect, including you and your own failure to acknowledge it’s a two-way street.

    These discussions routinely take place because many of the same posters or new posters make many of the same false claims over and over again – ad nauseam.

    Lurkers or new participants reading may be confused if it is not answered and rebutted.

    That you grow tired of it is because you are familiar with it. So move on to another thread. You yourself having acted as you are superior to all others.

    This forum addresses many of the same subject over and over and over again because that is it’s purpose. To debate evolution, Darwinism, neo-Darwinism, the underlying causes and beliefs of each side. Get over it with your own smug attitude – yes, you do come off as you’re seemingly superior as well.

    But then, don’t we all at sometimes? Most people here have strong opinions and keep insisting they’re right. So certain topics repeat. If you can make a better case using better discussion and debate techniques in a non-superior manner – do so. Puff puff 😉

  92. 92
    DATCG says:

    I remember when I first found UD. I appreciated how moderators would address topics like this. Often times I’d see a false claim made within another post topic.

    The moderators would not bog down the original post with arguments off-topic, but pull false claims out and post it for a larger discussion. So readers could see how atheist and Darwinist routinely twist logic in their favor without basis.

    This is not about feeling superior. It’s about pointing out flawed logic built on sand.

    By all means StephenB, KF, other moderators here do not hesitate to call out such flawed logic and claims. And better to do so in a separate post so it does not bog down the original post.

    Readers benefit as do I at times. If I don’t like a subject, or think it repetitive I simply go on to the next post or wait for a new one. It’s not as if the UD posters here are not posting on many varied topics. People have their pick of topics from evolution to physics and many others here.

  93. 93
    DATCG says:

    OldAndrew,

    here’s a link to a great post by Gpuccio on Ubiqutin System: Functional Complexity and Semiosis Joined Together…

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-ubiquitin-system-functional-complexity-and-semiosis-joined-together/

    There have been many other great topics covered as well. Oddly enough many Darwinist here rarely comment in these great post. It’s fascinating, enriching, excellent material.

    Did you happen to read it OldAndrew?

    JDK? Seversky? Wonder if they read it.

    I think I asked Bob’OH and he said no at the time.

  94. 94
    vividbleau says:

    Old Andrew
    “My best guess is extreme self-righteousness.”

    Andrew here is a novel concept, rather than guessing why dont you just ask?

    Vivid

  95. 95
    Origenes says:

    JDK: It’s also an objectively true fact that often people’s sense of goodness only extends so far sometimes (family, or local community, or nation), and it’s true that most people, some much more than others, behave poorly to some people in some situations and much better in others.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    OA,

    Perhaps it is a surprise to you to learn that evolutionary materialism is ancient and that serious concern on its destructive societal impact is also ancient. The pivot of that concern has always been, on how it undermines the moral domain (which BTW strongly shapes the world of thought).

    Here is Plato, 2350+ years ago:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[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 [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    I trust this will help re-balance your perspective and that it will help you to understand why those concerned to avert a collapse similar to that of Athens in the context of the Peloponnesian war, will be concerned deeply when we see the same hardy perennial errors coming up again and again from advocates of evolutionary materialism and fellow travellers.

    It should not be overlooked, also, that linked worldviews and cultural agenda facets are central to understanding why the obvious balance of the design inference on the raw merits does not readily decide the day.

    KF

  97. 97
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK @ 5 in response to the OP:

    There are other things I’ve written about essential reasons why Stephen et al are wrong . . .

    Barry @ 21

    Rather than even attempt to address Stephen’s argument, JDK insists on arguing that he has already refuted it in some nameless posts that he refuses to link to.

    JDK @ 22:

    I did not claim that I had refuted Stephen. All I said is that I’ve written lots lately because this subject has been the topic of multiple posts. Please represent me accurately.

    As I have said a number of times, one of the main arguments against materialism is the conduct of its adherents. Here we have a classic case in point.

    JDK says he has written things that show Stephen is wrong. When I pointed out that JDK had been reduced to claiming he had written other things that refuted Stephen, JDK claimed he had never said he had refuted Stephen.

    JDK is a lying liar. JDK, is feeling free to lie whenever it suits you part of that subjective morality you push so often?

    UPDATE: I see that Origenes at 23 has already caught this.

  98. 98
    jdk says:

    re 97

    1. I am not a materialist.

    2. The distinct I made between offering reasons why I think Stephen is wrong and claiming to have refuted him, is valid.

    3. This is the second time Barry has called me a liar when in fact all he has done has disagreed with my interpretation of a situation.

    To lie means to tell a deliberate falsehood, knowing the truth but speaking otherwise.

    I have not lied, and I am not a liar.

    The fact that Barry sees things this way reflects very poorly, in my opinion, on his character. As the owner of this site, and as a representative of those who believe in objective morals, I would think he would strive to exemplify some of those morals, including intellectual honesty and civility.

    As I have said before, one of the flaws in the arguments and behavior of those who speak for objective morality is the dogmatic self-righteousness of its adherents. Here we have a classic case in point.

  99. 99
    jdk says:

    For the record, the word refute means to prove someone is wrong.

    A critical piece of my philosophical position is that we can’t prove anything about metaphysics, because all metaphysical arguments start from unprovable assumptions.

    Stephen obviously believes in a God with which we have a moral relationship, and thus objective morals exist in principle. I can’t prove Stephen wrong.

    I can explain what I think the source of moral language is, and what it means, if that assumption of God is not taken, so that objective morality doesn’t exist.

    But there is no way I would claim to have “refuted” Stephen, because Stephen’s logic proceeds from beginning unprovable assumptions that I don’t accept.

    Therefore, I have tried to explain my position and give reasons for various points, but I have not explicitly or implicit claimed to have proven Stephen wrong: that is, I have not claimed to have refuted anything.

    This is a distinction that Barry doesn’t get. I get the feeling that Barry is more driven by his antagonistic personal feelings than he is by an intellectually honest reading of the disputes under discussion.

  100. 100
    Origenes says:

    JDK: A critical piece of my philosophical position is that we can’t prove anything about metaphysics, because all metaphysical arguments start from unprovable assumptions.

    So JDK, you have a self-defeating statement as a critical piece of your philosophical position. Way to go JDK, that explains a lot.

    1. Any metaphysical statement is unprovable.
    2. “Any metaphysical statement is unprovable” is itself a metaphysical statement.

    from (1) and (2)

    3. It cannot be proven that “any metaphysical statement is unprovable”.
    4. “Any metaphysical statement is unprovable” is either self-defeating or meaningless.

  101. 101
    jdk says:

    Cute, Origenes. Who cuts the barber’s hair?

    But I don’t claim to be able to prove that “any metaphysical statement is unprovable”. It is an assumption of my philosophical position. I think I could support making that assumption with various arguments and evidence, but I don’t claim to “prove it”.

  102. 102
    Origenes says:

    JDK: But I don’t claim to be able to prove that “any metaphysical statement is unprovable”. It is an assumption of my philosophical position.

    You assume the truth of a statement that undercuts itself if proven to be true. Way to go JDK!

    (1) JDK assumes that the metaphysical statement “any metaphysical statement is unprovable” is true.
    (2) True statements can possibly be proven to be true.
    (3) If the metaphysical statement “any metaphysical statement is unprovable” is proven to be true, then it immediately refutes itself. Incoherence and self-defeat.

  103. 103
    jdk says:

    I don’t think you understand what “assume” means.

    Your (2) is wrong, because assumptions are statements that are taken to be true without proof.

    Euclidean geometry assumes that through a point not on a line one there is one and only one line parallel to the given line. This is a fundamental axiom. It can not be proven true. It is assumed as true, and thus serves as an unprovable starting point for Euclidean geometry.

    My belief that “any metaphysical statement is unprovable is likewise an assumption I make.

  104. 104
    Origenes says:

    JDK: I don’t think you understand what “assume” means.

    In this context, it means ‘taken to be true.’

    JDK: Your (2) is wrong, because assumptions are statements that are taken to be true without proof.

    That’s not what I argue in (2). (2) simply states that it is possible that true statements are proven true.

    JDK: Euclidean geometry assumes that through a point not on a line one there is one and only one line parallel to the given line. This is a fundamental axiom. It can not be proven true. It is assumed as true, and thus serves as an unprovable starting point for Euclidean geometry.

    My belief that “any metaphysical statement is unprovable is likewise an assumption I make.

    Unlike your position, Euclidean geometry doesn’t break down at the moment that its assumptions are proven to be true.

    Get serious.

  105. 105
    Mung says:

    jdk:

    What I wrote is true.

    LMAO!

    You crack me up. Seriously.

    What I say is true. What is true ought to be believed. People have a moral obligation to give assent to and believe what is true. However, it is true that there are no objective moral standards that obligate anyone to believe that there are no objective moral standards, such that one ought to believe what is true and disbelieve what is false.

    But I like to act like there are. I just can’t help myself.

    jdk:

    What I wrote is true.

    So what. Why should anyone care about whether what you say is true or false.

  106. 106
    Mung says:

    Allan Keith:

    If morality is objective and universal, what was it doing for the first 13.7+ billion years?

    It was avoiding answering nonsensical questions.

  107. 107
    Mung says:

    kairosfocus:

    Now, notice how the above brims over with the assumption that in our thinking, reading, writing etc we have binding duties of care to truth, right, fairness etc? {As in, exactly as SB pointed out.]

    Do they not see this?

  108. 108
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    This is a distinction that Barry doesn’t get. I get the feeling that Barry is more driven by his antagonistic personal feelings than he is by an intellectually honest reading of the disputes under discussion.

    I think Barry wants people to tell the truth. Clearly, you allude to an objective moral scale every time you use words and phrases like “poor” or “better.” There is no question about it.

    That is why I asked you to explain your meaning of the words “mature” and “true.” If you had not evaded the question, you would have had no choice but to explain that you were either [a] consciously misusing those words or [b] appealing to an objective moral scale. Words really do mean things in spite of your claims to the contrary.

    That is also why I asked you to disclose the point in the fetus’s developmental process where you would desire for it the same right to life that you desire for yourself. It would be a bit clumsy for you to say that you feel “mature compassion” for humans when, at the same time, you support the destruction of the most innocent among them. So you give yourself a pass at the moment of truth.

    The most telling thing of all, though, is the way you use one hilarious excuse after another for evading my questions. It began with “I’ve already addressed it,” to “I am being misrepresented,” to “we have already been there,” to “you edited out my comments, which confused me,” to – and, this is a direct quote, – “We’ve already seen how you respond to my answers to questions like that” [therefore, I am not going to answer]. Remarkable!

    Meanwhile, you offer distractions by telling us things that we already know. Yes, it is true that objective morality would not exist without God. Effects have a funny way of following causes. So what? It has nothing at all to do with the fact that objective morality can be known to exist without any reference to God. It has nothing at all to do with the fact that, as I have proven, subjectivists do not even believe their own sales pitch.

    The take home point here is that your position is both irrational and dangerous. Those who presume to become a law unto themselves automatically become irresponsible citizens and do great harm to the common good. Barry realizes that bad ideas have bad consequences and he thinks those ideas (not necessarily the people who hold them) should be mercilessly attacked. That is my position as well. I want what is best for you, but I don’t want your bad ideas to survive (though they have already contaminated the culture). In truth, you feel the same way about my ideas. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t feel that way, but you pretend to take a live and let live posture. The difference is that we can defend our ideas but you cannot defend your ideas.

  109. 109
    Barry Arrington says:

    JDK is giving us a classic example of how lying liars, when they are caught lying, never fess up and repent. Instead, they double down on their lies and attack the messenger. It is often astonishing to watch the depths to which a truly pathological liar like JDK will sink.

    Let’s review:

    At 5 JDK responded to the OP by saying: “There are other things I’ve written about essential reasons why Stephen et al are wrong . . .” If this means anything, it means that JDK claims to have written the essential reasons why Stephone is wrong.

    Simple English usage: To show the reason an argument is wrong is to refute it.

    At 21 I noted that rather than attempt to address Stephen’s argument in this post, JDK asserted that he has already refuted it in some nameless posts he refused to link to.

    At 22 JDK said he never claimed to have refuted Stephen’s arguments. This was an obvious and rather clumsy lie.

    At 97 I pointed out how JDK lied.

    Now we will see JDK’s classic lying liar attack:

    Instead of fessing up and apologizing for his reprehensible behavior, at 98 he goes on the warpath. First, he doubles down on the original lie by with linguistic quibbles (another classic tactic of the lying liar): The phrase “giving the essential reasons why Stephen is wrong” is not at all the same as “refuting Stephen’s argument.” I mean really. What is the point of pathological spewing like this?

    Now the attack: “The fact that Barry sees things this way reflects very poorly, in my opinion, on his character.”

    Well, JDK, if you ever decide to give up the Internet Troll business and emerge from your mother’s basement and mingle with the rest of us, one of the first things you will learn is that catching out people in lies is not generally considered to reflect poorly on the person doing the catching.

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, assuming a self referentially incoherent, self-falsifying statement true undermines any implications read from it, per ex falso quodlibet. It is comparable to a divide by zero error. KF

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