Intelligent Design

Not Unbroken

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I am broken.

I am not alone though.  You are broken too.  In fact, the whole world and everyone in it is broken.  We recognize that there is the way things are and there is the way things should be and the two are not the same.

What shall we make of this universal awareness of our own brokenness in particular and the world’s brokenness in general?  Denying the awareness exists does no good.  It is there.  It is glaring.  It stares each of us in the face every day.  Denying it is foolish because such a denial is not only false; it is obviously false and convinces no one.

So there it is; our awareness of our and the world’s brokenness.  It exists and any thinking person must try to account for its existence.  It cannot be ignored.  How did that awareness come to be?  Is the awareness based on something real or is it an illusion?

For Jews and Christians, of course, these are easy questions.  We believe in a transcendent moral standard rooted in God’s character.  God has not established the Good.  He is the Good, and all goodness flows from him.  Each of us (whether we say we believe in God or not) innately understands that Goodness exists and that we all fall short of measuring up to it.  I don’t understand why the doctrine of original sin is so controversial.  Of all the doctrines of Christianity, it is the one that is supported by what I would think to be undeniable empirical evidence based on our own personal day-to-day experience and thousands of years of recorded history.

For the materialist, however, it seems to me that the question is all but unanswerable.  At least since Hume we have known that “ought” cannot be grounded in “is.”  The materialist believes that “is” is all there is.  It follows there is nothing on which to ground “ought.”  This is what Dawkins means when he says there is no good and no bad.  On materialist premises – if there really is no good and no bad — there is no reason to believe I and the world are broken.  As Lewis famously said, a man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.  And the materialist denies the existence of straight lines.

Yet that awareness of our own and the world’s brokenness persists nevertheless even for materialists.  The standard Darwinist line, of course, is that the moral impulse is an evolutionary adaptation, and they delight in making up just so stories about why this or that altruistic behavior is adaptive, when they are not making up stories for why the opposite of that behavior is also adaptive.  Altruism is adaptive.  Sure.  But so is rape and murder.  Hmmm.

But when it comes to our awareness of our and the world’s brokenness, none of those stories matters.  We are not talking about individual behaviors that may or may not have been adaptive in the remote evolutionary past.  We are talking about the fact that we all know that a straight line exists and therefore we can call crooked lines crooked, even when we deny knowing any such thing.  I suppose some Darwinist will be able to make up a just so story to explain why this is the case; after all the Darwinist capacity for story telling seems to be limitless.  But I doubt any such story will convince anyone who is not already convinced.  For those of us who are unable to muster the tremendous leaps of faith necessary to become and remain a materialist, the story is likely to be implausible to say the least.

299 Replies to “Not Unbroken

  1. 1
    Learned Hand says:

    I don’t understand why the doctrine of original sin is so controversial.

    Would you say that you put much effort into understanding the perspectives of others?

    We are talking about the fact that we all know that a straight line exists and therefore we can call crooked lines crooked, even when we deny knowing any such thing.

    The perpetual problem with natural law is that it’s so hard to define that “straight line.” Some people say the Bible exemplified perfect morality; others try to excuse or exempt Biblical examples of conduct that is immoral by modern lights. Some say capital punishment is moral, others disagree. Some people would say it would be moral to outlaw homosexuality, others disagree.

    I suppose some Darwinist will be able to make up a just so story to explain why this is the case; after all the Darwinist capacity for story telling seems to be limitless. But I doubt any such story will convince anyone who is not already convinced.

    I think it probably escapes you that you are describing yourself, as well. Your explanations that the controversial things you believe are self-evident and obvious to all people are just another kind of story, and of little value to anyone who doesn’t already agree with you.

  2. 2
    mike1962 says:

    Barry We are talking about the fact that we all know that a straight line exists and therefore we can call crooked lines crooked, even when we deny knowing any such thing.

    Taking it a bit farther, the fact that we have the very idea of a “straight line”, whether we believe it exists or not, indicates that there really is a “straight line.” Mirages and illusions cannot exist without the Real Thing existing as the source for the concept that the mirage is “pretending” to be.

    As Lewis said, in a universe where there are no beings with eyes, “sight” and “blindness” would be meaningless terms.

    Consciousness an illusion? An illusion of what?

    Morality an illusion? An illusion of what?

    Cultures have differed on the details of morality, such as slavery, women’s rights, etc., and use various rationalizations for various behaviors, but they don’t deny that it exists. The fact that people resort to rationalizations for certain behaviors indicates that the moral sense is more fundamental than reason.

    Sociopaths are apparently “blind” to morality. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The existence of visually blind people doesn’t mean the rest of us cannot see the sun.

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH @ 1:

    Here’s the thing about your comment: You didn’t actually attempt to refute (far less refute) a single thing I said. Note to LH: A mishmash of ad hominem and tu quoque does not an argument make.

  4. 4
    velikovskys says:

    BA:

    Of all the doctrines of Christianity, it is the one that is supported by what I would think to be undeniable empirical evidence based on our own personal day-to-day experience and thousands of years of recorded history.

    An evil God would explain human history just as well

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    AS @ 5:
    “I don’t think that is true at all.”

    “The only sensible way for people of disparate political and religious views to live and work together . . .”

    Work together for what end AS? If things are the way they should be, it would seem the only appropriate end would be to maintain the status quo.

    I don’t think you thought this one through. Go back and give ‘er another go.

  6. 6
    Cross says:

    AS @ 7

    Hi As, I would not describe myself as a “climate change denialist, gung-ho right wing conservative fundamentalist Christian supremacist” but I am a Christian. Not only don’t I think I am superior it’s quit the opposite, I’m faulty but forgiven.
    Seems to me that calling someone a “climate change denialist, gung-ho right wing conservative fundamentalist Christian supremacist” is not a good way to start a forum to discuss and argue points of view without rancour.

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    BA:

    We recognize that there is the way things are and there is the way things should be and the two are not the same.

    AS:

    I don’t think that is true at all.

    AS:

    I agree with how things are is unsatisfactory.

    I suspect you are a fan of Whitman (“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”)

    On the other hand, it is clear that dialogue with you will be fruitless. Bu bye

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    AS:

    The best to hope for is a forum to discuss and argue points of view without rancor.

    Also AS:

    [Barry is a] climate change denialist, gung-ho right wing conservative fundamentalist Christian supremacist, . . .

    See “Whitman” @ 9.

    I suspect you are not even aware of your hypocrisy.

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Pardon a bit of an aside. I find that those of hyper-skeptical bent often talk a lot (usually in a very dismissive way pointed at others . . . ) about the so-called Dunning-Kruger effect . . . cf 5 above, and yes AS this answers to that loaded remark you made. I think a lesson or two from Solomon of old on those who are ill-advisedly wise in their own eyes (and thus quite resistant to correction) should be a corrective:

    Prov 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction . . . .

    29 [Wisdom personified speaks:] Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
    30 would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
    31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices.
    32 For the simple are killed by their turning away,
    and the complacency of fools destroys them;
    33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

    Prov 12:15 The way of a fool is right [or, wise] in his own eyes,
    but a wise man listens to advice.

    Prov 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly,
    lest you be like him yourself.
    5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
    lest he be wise in his own eyes . . . .

    12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
    There is more hope for a fool than for him.

    Ours is now a civilisation that too often is wise in its own eyes and deaf to well-merited correction, even as it leads over the cliffs of folly.

    Hence, my fundamental pessimism about our time.

    KF

    PS: Prov 26 has a famous couplet on when it is right to answer or not to answer a fool according to his folly. I judge, to correct self-delusion, it is time to answer to the projection of ignorance, stupidity, insanity and evil en bloc to those who beg to differ with a priori evolutionary materialism. Which, ironically, inescapably undermines even reason and knowledge itself, as may be seen in classically short form from J B S Haldane:

    “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.]

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    BA,

    I notice you make a point about the inability to ground OUGHT in IS.

    I think Hume’s objection has a point, but with a subtle twist.

    It points to the only place where a foundation for OUGHT may be found, the root of reality.

    Nothing, non-being cannot ground anything, nor can an infinite regress, nor can going in circles, nor can blind combinations of matter, energy, space and time etc, so we must look to something, an IS that at the same time can ground ought, due to an intrinsic aspect of the core nature of that IS.

    A world-root IS that is at the same time inherently, inextricably the basis of OUGHT.

    There is, after centuries of debate, precisely one serious candidate, the inherently good Creator-God, who is a necessary and maximally great being.

    Precisely, where many today utterly — and often angrily or snidely — refuse to look.

    But that brings out the force of Proverbs 1:

    1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

    2 To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
    3 to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
    4 to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
    5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
    6 to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

    7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction
    . . .

    KF

    PS: The interested onlooker may wish to read here in context, where I develop this in a bit more details. Including, why I believe the tendency to dismiss OUGHT as delusion or illusion or merely subjective preference, fails.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    AS, you may find a key root of your secular democracy in Locke, in his 2nd essay on civil govt ch 2 sec. 5, where he quotes “the judicious [Anglican canon Richard] Hooker,” thusly:

    . . . 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]

    Hooker’s underlying reference of course was the Golden Rule of neighbour-love, which I find Paul has aptly put in the context of citizenship:

    Rom 13:8 Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor [who practices loving others] has fulfilled the Law [relating to one’s fellowmen, meeting all its requirements].

    9 The commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet (have an evil desire), and any other commandment, are summed up in the single command, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.

    10 Love does no wrong to one’s neighbor [it never hurts anybody]. Therefore love meets all the requirements and is the fulfilling of the Law. [AMP]

    KF

    PS, Those interested in the deep but often overlooked — or even suppressed or angrily dismissed — Judaeo-Christian roots of modern liberty and democracy may wish to look here for a 101.

  12. 12
    Graham2 says:

    Barry: You really are in your element, aren’t you … imposing your views on others.

  13. 13
    Dionisio says:

    #4 velikovskys

    An evil God would explain human history just as well

    What do you mean by “evil“?

  14. 14
    hrun0815 says:

    Barry writes:

    It stares each of us in the face every day. Denying it is foolish because such a denial is not only false; it is obviously false and convinces no one.

    It exists and any thinking person must try to account for its existence. It cannot be ignored.

    Of all the doctrines of Christianity, it is the one that is supported by what I would think to be undeniable empirical evidence based on our own personal day-to-day experience and thousands of years of recorded histor

    Of course there are no post that disagree with you here. Everybody who disagrees is foolish, in denial, an unthinking person, and ignores undeniable empirical evidence.

    PS: There is no need to point out that I did not attempt any counter argument against your well-reasoned out and argued post. You can assume that this means that I am in full agreement with you… and I am certain that most everybody will too if they’d only read your post often enough.

  15. 15
    rvb8 says:

    I’m not sure, does this mean if all the world thought, as Christians and Jews thought, the ‘straight line’ would appear. Wouldn’t it simply lead to the two remaining groups vying for ultimate control? Via evolutionary prediction? Wouldn’t the winner then split into further smaller groups within their belief system, some more toward the Book, some more toward humanism, thus leading to further conflict? Isn’t that where we are now?
    Or, is the point more simple; my thought is the right thought, accept it!

  16. 16
    Learned Hand says:

    BA,

    A mishmash of ad hominem and tu quoque does not an argument make.

    What ad hominem comment are you referring to? If you mean my observation that you don’t seem to put much effort into understanding the perspectives of others, that is not a fallacious response to your post; you aren’t wrong because you don’t understand how other people think, your pontificating simply reflects an extremely casual approach towards modeling other worldviews.

    The problem with your proclamations is that they suffer from the same structural flaw that has always kept natural law arguments from supporting their own weight. Ultimately they’re nothing more than an elaborate way to say, “I strongly feel this to be true!” But since those feelings have every appearance of being subjective—they vary from person to person, people change their minds about them, and there is no way to determine which perspective is right without falling back on the standard tools of subjective discourse—it becomes an arbitrarily difficult task to suss out what natural law really is. There is a reason that successful civil societies are governed by temporal laws rather than revelatory proclamations.

    And so, despite your attempt to dismiss the point, it remains: your straight line is as much an attempt to “make up a just so story” as your imaginary (and conveniently ineloquent) “Darwinian” opponent’s position. Without an actual, objective standard that can be actually, objectively determined, you’re just as much a subjectivist as the rest of us. After all, there’s no way to tell if your line is straighter than any other, if there’s no way to objectively determine reference points.

  17. 17
    Mark Frank says:

    BA

    You didn’t actually attempt to refute (far less refute) a single thing I said

    Barry – when your case begins:

    Denying it is foolish because such a denial is not only false; it is obviously false and convinces no one.

    And someone disagrees  …. then it is pointless to try and refute you and more relevant to point out what you are up to (declaring you are obviously right and anyone who disagrees is obviously a fool).

  18. 18
    DavidD says:

    Barry Arrington “For the materialist, however, it seems to me that the question is all but unanswerable. At least since Hume we have known that “ought” cannot be grounded in “is.” The materialist believes that “is” is all there is. It follows there is nothing on which to ground “ought.” This is what Dawkins means when he says there is no good and no bad. On materialist premises – if there really is no good and no bad — there is no reason to believe I and the world are broken. As Lewis famously said, a man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. And the materialist denies the existence of straight lines.”
    ***************

    I always found this scriptural text summed up the materialist quite well in explaining and defining their attitude. The truly sad thing is, most probably would wear this description below as a badge of honor since they view themselves and fellow human beings as nothing more than animals anyway.

    2 Peter 2:12 – International Standard Version

    12 “These people, like irrational animals, are mere creatures of instinct that are born to be caught and killed. They insult what they don’t understand, and like animals they, too, will be destroyed, . . ”
    ————–

    Velikovskys – “An evil God would explain human history just as well”
    *********

    Correct. And here is a verse that backs up your claim of an evil god explaining his version of history.

    2 Corinthians 4:4 – Amplified Bible

    4 “For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God”

    Interestingly, in ” Corinthians chapter 3, the unfaithful Israelites whom Moses dealt with were compared to fleshly materialists who lacked any spirituality. In complaining about the glowing rays which emitted from Moses face and their request that he place a veil over it and read what God said to them later, the account goes on to describe where the veil truly lay, not across Moses face, but their hearts.

    1 Corinthians 3:13-15 – Amplified Bible

    13 “Nor [do we act] like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze upon the finish of the vanishing [splendor which had been upon it].”

    14 “In fact, their minds were grown hard and calloused [they had become dull and had lost the power of understanding]; for until this present day, when the Old Testament (the old covenant) is being read, that same veil still lies [on their hearts], not being lifted to reveal that in Christ it is made void and done away.”

    15 “Yes, down to this [very] day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their minds and hearts.”

    With the proper use of free will, they all have the power to remove the veil. But then that’s where ” Corinthians 4:4 comes into play. Obedience to the god of this world and rather believing his version of history.
    ———

    Graham2 – “Barry: You really are in your element, aren’t you … imposing your views on others.”

    Then why did you use your free will to come here into Barry’s house as an invited guest, but then proceed to offer nothing but derogatory insults and belligerence ? You also have the freewill to leave and never come back if you don’t like it.

  19. 19
    Mark Frank says:

    DavidD

    The materialist believes that “is” is all there is.

    So the theist believes that all there is not all there is????

  20. 20
    DavidD says:

    Mark Frank – “So the theist believes that all there is not all there is????”

    Is this one of those it depends on what your definition of “Is” is ?

    For example, is this life all there is ?

  21. 21
    Mark Frank says:

    #23 DavidD

    Is this one of those it depends on what your definition of “Is” is ?

    So when Barry argues:

    At least since Hume we have known that “ought” cannot be grounded in “is.” The materialist believes that “is” is all there is. It follows there is nothing on which to ground “ought.”

    It might be a good idea to define what Hume meant by “is”, and what Barry thinks materialists mean by “is”? Otherwise the argument is invalid (although Barry might then accuse me of using a Darwinist Debating Device).

  22. 22
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand,

    The problem with your proclamations is that they suffer from the same structural flaw that has always kept natural law arguments from supporting their own weight. Ultimately they’re nothing more than an elaborate way to say, “I strongly feel this to be true!” But since those feelings have every appearance of being subjective—they vary from person to person, people change their minds about them, and there is no way to determine which perspective is right without falling back on the standard tools of subjective discourse—it becomes an arbitrarily difficult task to suss out what natural law really is. There is a reason that successful civil societies are governed by temporal laws rather than revelatory proclamations.

    The easiest way to know that natural laws are objective is to break them and watch what happens. The consequences of breaking moral laws are just as certain as the consequences of breaking physical laws. Moral truth is not hard to find, it is hard to face—harder yet to follow. The problem is not that the objective moral code fails to contribute to human happiness, because, clearly, it does do that; the problem is that its application requires moral exertion and many there are who would prefer not to make the effort.

    It is the unwillingness to undergo the pain of moral transformation from what one is to what one ought to be that leads the subjectivist to deny objective morality and institute his own subjective morality, which is always convenient and always congenial with his inclinations. Preferring not to aim for the real moral target, he claims that no such moral target exists. Thus, he demands the freedom to create his own moral standard. A man who doesn’t conform his behavior to the external moral code will always find an internal moral code that conforms to his behavior.

    One way to avoid the task of replacing bad habits with good habits is to deny the fact that bad habits even exist. This is the philosophy of moral subjectivists. This is your philosophy. For the moral subjectivist, there is no such thing as “sweating blood” in an attempt to regulate one’s lower nature in order to do his the right thing—no real moral dilemmas to cause one anguish. For the subjectivist, there is no instinct that “ought” to be regulated or controlled. His whole enterprise is to construct an arbitrary moral code that will justify whatever he feels like doing. Naturally, his morality will be built around his vices even as it denies that such vices exist. When called to account, the subjectivist pretends not to know what he does, in fact, know–that an objective standard for morality really does exist. It’s all part of being “broken.” As Barry says, we are all in that same condition. Fortunately, we do not have to remain that way.

  23. 23
    DavidD says:

    Mark Frank – “It might be a good idea to define what Hume meant by “is”, and what Barry thinks materialists mean by “is”? Otherwise the argument is invalid (although Barry might then accuse me of using a Darwinist Debating Device).

    Maybe Barry will come back and define what he meant by “is”. I was assuming he meant the in his religious belief that he looks to the future apart from this present life on Earth and materialists belief is that this life now is all there “is”. This is why I don’t normally participate in these rough and round definition debates with both sides. I just don’t generally have the time and interest and they never seem to go anywhere.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Overnight, I am amazed that the mere presentation of an argument is being viewed as “imposition.”

    This clearly speaks to the effect of generations of indoctrination that has cast the Judaeo-Christian view and its adherents as to blame for the ills of our civilisation, typifying Christianity by the worst that can be dredged up. And, to a widespread policy of refusing to acknowledge the good that the faith and its adherents have done across time and down to today. Indeed, under doctrine of separation of church and effectively everything, a reasonably balanced and well informed view of the contribution of the Judaeo-Christian tradition to our civilisaiton has been effectively written out of history, civics and much more.

    (Cf here, again, for a 101 level sampler.)

    The resulting one-sided litany of accusation is deeply wrong, a manifestation of hostility and in too many cases, outright bigotry.

    I think a fairer view of history and the rise of modern democracy would bring out a few points in balance to the usual current conventional wisdom, inter alia:

    1: power is inherently dangerous, and power without effective accountability strongly tends to be corrupt and destructive so power requires reasonable and effective safeguards . . . which, historically, have taken centuries to work out

    2: self reflection and observation today and across time and culture will show that we all face being finite, fallible, morally struggling, and too often ill-willed (This is a big slice of what BA spoke to when he spoke of the doctrine of human fallenness.)

    3: When the Bible was put in the hands of the ordinary man (and he received a basic education to read it and other books and eventually newspapers etc), and hitherto unaccountable leaders were forced to respond as a result, the resulting struggles for liberty of conscience, over centuries, made a major contribution to the rise of modern liberty and democracy

    4: Such patterns may especially be traced in key writings and state papers across the 1500’s – 1800’s, including the Dutch Declaration of Independence of 1581 (including the Vindiciae which directly influenced it), the spate of documents surrounding the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (especially Rutherford and Locke), and key papers of the US Revolution from 1776 – 87; also, in the struggle to end slavery starting with its iniquitous trade. (In this, it is noteworthy but often overlooked that the motto of antislavery societies came straight out of the text of Philemon in the NT, a prison letter of Paul appealing for manumission of Onesimus, and escaped slave: Am I not a man and a brother? [Think of the diplomatic balance Paul had to strike in a context where his correspondence would indubitably have been a target for hostile scrutiny and an excuse to put him to death as a subversive.])

    5: The success of the American experiment over the next 100 years then led to the spreading of modern democratic ideals and systems far and wide

    6: In this process, the moral influence of the Christian faith and especially the teachings of Jesus played a major though obviously not exclusive role; despite many grave wrongs and stubborn controversies in which the problem of the fallacy of the closed, hostile and suspicious mind and linked hard heart was a major issue:

    Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. [ESV]

    7: Historically, reformation is usually much slower than revolution, but on the whole revolutions tend to be bloodily high risk and too often end in tyranny

    8: On the whole, history’s lessons were paid for in blood and tears, and so if we are to avoid paying much the same price again, it would be wise for us to soundly study and learn them

    Further, adherents of or fellow travellers with evolutionary materialism need to realise that their sense that “Science” so-called has cornered the market on knowledge and truth is not science proper but Scientism, which is inherently self-refuting — the claim that “science” delimits significant knowledge is itself an epistemological (thus, philosophical) claim not a scientific one.

    Nor, has science succeeded in dismissing God as a mere myth; instead, as Lewontin notoriously acknowledged, it is an ideological a priori, a demand of evolutionary materialism.

    Finally, such materialists and fellow travellers need to take seriously the true force of the IS-OUGHT gap issue.

    For either morality and our being under moral government of the principle of OUGHT are a delusion (which, as this is a major facet of our world of thought, would point to the utter untrustworthiness of our conscious mindedness) or else our being under the government of OUGHT starting with the testimony of conscience and our sense of the repulsiveness of evil when we suffer its effects, is real.

    Which points to a world in which reality will have a foundation in an IS who properly grounds OUGHT.

    KF

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It should be patent to all that the evolutionary materialist IS is what lies under the sun and is evident to our senses and instruments: matter, energy, space, time, and extensions (these days under the name, multiverse) which they equal to reality. Indeed, that contention is written into the heart of such views. KF

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, sadly, all too close to home. KF

  27. 27
    velikovskys says:

    dionisio
    What do you mean by “evil“?

    A god who uses evil to accomplish his goals, for instance the God of the gunmen of Paris. But probably any God would provide undeniable empirical evidence of His existence based on human experience and history

  28. 28
    Mark Frank says:

    StephenB

    The easiest way to know that natural laws are objective is to break them and watch what happens

    But if you don’t know what they are, how do you know you are breaking them?

  29. 29
    hrun0815 says:

    F/N: Overnight, I am amazed that the mere presentation of an argument is being viewed as “imposition.”

    Yes KF. I’m also baffled that nobody takes BAs “presentation of an argument” as a starting point for serious discussion. Do arguments ever get more clear and well-reasoned than this:

    Denying the awareness exists does no good. It is there. It is glaring. It stares each of us in the face every day. Denying it is foolish because such a denial is not only false; it is obviously false and convinces no one.

    And of course you are right that this has to be because

    of generations of indoctrination that has cast the Judaeo-Christian view and its adherents as to blame for the ills of our civilisation, typifying Christianity by the worst that can be dredged up.

    It could not possibly be because BA strung together a few declarative statements, asserted that everybody who disagrees with them is willfully ignorant, or stupid, or both, and then everybody pretended that he actually made an argument.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Locke, in the introduction, section 5 of his essay on human understanding:

    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 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 – 21, Eph 4:17 – 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 – 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 – 14 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. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke’s allusions and citations.]

    KF

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    HR,

    pardon but snipping two distinct things out of their contexts to set up and knock over a strawman, fails.

    I would think that the hard realities of common moral struggle and failure confront us day by day. Ought is not is, and we know it the hard way; indeed in trying to show both BA and the undersigned in the wrong, you imply just that. To try to deny or dismiss or caricature that is absurd.

    Second, to pretend that the indoctrination and polarisation by one sided litany I protested above are not a real and material issue, is to enable scapegoating.

    Which, should give you — and all of us — sobering pause.

    KF

  32. 32
    Box says:

    Atheists,

    Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that afterlife is reality. However not so for atheists: they are being destroyed at the moment of death.

    2 Peter 2:12 – International Standard Version

    12 “These people, like irrational animals, are mere creatures of instinct that are born to be caught and killed. They insult what they don’t understand, and like animals they, too, will be destroyed, . . ”

    My question for atheists is: do you object? Or are you fine with this arrangement, because “death” is in full accord with your preferred world view?

  33. 33
    hrun0815 says:

    Second, to pretend that the indoctrination and polarisation by one sided litany I protested above are not a real and material issue, is to enable scapegoating.

    Yes, yes. I agree. The only thing to combat indoctrination and polarization by one-sided litany are well-reasoned arguments like:

    Denying the awareness exists does no good. It is there. It is glaring. It stares each of us in the face every day. Denying it is foolish because such a denial is not only false; it is obviously false and convinces no one.

    I couldn’t agree more that this “should give you — and all of us — sobering pause”.

  34. 34
    hrun0815 says:

    Box asks:

    My question for atheists is: do you object? Or are you fine with this arrangement, because “death” is in full accord with your preferred world view?

    What do you mean with ‘would you be fine with this arrangement’? You mean the general idea that there is an afterlife and atheists do not get to take part?

    If that is indeed what you mean then you are in a perfect position to answer one of my most pressing questions that I have for people who do believe in an afterlife. (And I need an answer to this before I can answer the question for obvious reasons.)

    What do you do in the afterlife? Do you hang out with your friends and family? Do you read books? Cook? Go out for dinner? Are there playgrounds? Amusement parks? Do you eat and drink? Do you get to do heroin? Watch TV? Do you get to sit on a cloud? Learn to play the harp? How exactly do you keep yourself busy in the afterlife?

    I realize that this sounds like a very glib question about something as profound as the afterlife. But rest assured that this is actually a serious inquiry. What do you actually do in the afterlife? And for how long?

  35. 35
    Mark Frank says:

    #35 Box

    As an atheist I would object. I may not believe in an afterlife but if I am wrong then on balance I would prefer to take advantage of it (depending a bit what actually happens – not so keen on being reincarnated as a caterpillar).

  36. 36
    Box says:

    hrun0815: What do you do in the afterlife?

    Of course I do not know.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    HR

    I have to be on to the next thing but I think a little context will help:

    >> I am broken.

    I am not alone though. You are broken too. In fact, the whole world and everyone in it is broken. We recognize that there is the way things are and there is the way things should be and the two are not the same.>>

    1 –> IS-OUGHT gap, personally experienced form, starting with BA’s own life experience.

    >>What shall we make of this universal awareness of our own brokenness in particular and the world’s brokenness in general? >>

    2 –> focal challenge

    > >Denying the awareness exists does no good. It is there. It is glaring. It stares each of us in the face every day. Denying it is foolish because such a denial is not only false; it is obviously false and convinces no one.>>

    3 –> It is futile to deny a commonplace fact of experience

    >>So there it is; our awareness of our and the world’s brokenness. It exists and any thinking person must try to account for its existence. It cannot be ignored.>>

    4 –> First conclusion, we have to face it

    >> How did that awareness come to be? Is the awareness based on something real or is it an illusion?>>

    5 –> If conscience is illusion, if the moral sense is not real, a major facet of conscious mindedness is a Plato’s Cave world, opening up all the absurdities of that, cf my discussion here

    6 –> If conscience speaks truly, as outlined above, we live in a world where the foundations have an IS that grounds OUGHT.

    >>For Jews and Christians, of course, these are easy questions. We believe in a transcendent moral standard rooted in God’s character. God has not established the Good. He is the Good, and all goodness flows from him.>>

    7 –> The only serious candidate, across centuries, is the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. Classic declaration, US DOI 1776.

    8 –> I disagree with BA that the answer is in reality “easy,” but it is not absurd regardless of thorny difficulties inevitable with worldviews and movements with a real world history

    >> Each of us (whether we say we believe in God or not) innately understands that Goodness exists and that we all fall short of measuring up to it. >>

    9 –> Conscience, unless warped or silenced, speaks.

    >> I don’t understand why the doctrine of original sin is so controversial. Of all the doctrines of Christianity, it is the one that is supported by what I would think to be undeniable empirical evidence based on our own personal day-to-day experience and thousands of years of recorded history.>>

    10 –> I would focus on “for all have sinned and fall short . . . ” rather than a specific and debatable terminology.

    11 –> For this, just read a week’s newspapers.

    >>For the materialist, however, it seems to me that the question is all but unanswerable.>>

    12 –> An issue since Plato in The Laws Bk X, evolutionary materialism reduces to might and manipulation make ‘right’ ‘rights’ truth’ ‘knowledge’ etc

    >> At least since Hume we have known that “ought” cannot be grounded in “is.” The materialist believes that “is” is all there is. It follows there is nothing on which to ground “ought.”>>

    13 –> I would rephrase on terms that I outlined above. Ought has to be there in the roots of being inextricable from a world foundational IS.

    14 –> Evolutionary materialism, does not have such an IS. Dirt, stellar fusion furnaces, or energetic quantum vacuums with fluctuations do not answer to ought.

    >> This is what Dawkins means when he says there is no good and no bad.>>

    15 –> Alludes to a famous statement in one of his books, also published in Sci Am.

    >> On materialist premises – if there really is no good and no bad — there is no reason to believe I and the world are broken.>>

    16 –> A startling contradiction to the world we experience, with nihilism staring us in the face.

    >> As Lewis famously said, a man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. And the materialist denies the existence of straight lines.>>

    17 –> An analogy based on literary allusion and the experience of testing a wall for being plumb and true using a plumbline. Ultimately, Biblical, Amos.

    >> Yet that awareness of our own and the world’s brokenness persists nevertheless even for materialists. >>

    18 –> The contradiction between the experienced reality and the import of a major scheme of thought.

    _______________

    So, while compressed and while we may quibble on a point or two, much more than the out of context strawmannised snippet.

    Later, if/when writer’s block strikes in drafting a short-order speech.

    KF

  38. 38
    hrun0815 says:

    Of course I do not know.

    No, of course not. But you are asking a hypothetical question by basing it on something we also do not know:

    Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that afterlife is reality.

    So go ahead and speculate. What do you think we’d be doing (for eternity?) in our afterlife? Obviously, for me this would determine if I’d chose it or not, right?

  39. 39
    Joe says:

    hrun:

    The only thing to combat indoctrination and polarization by one-sided litany are well-reasoned arguments like:

    Great, I will be using that to combat the pushing evolutionism in public schools’ science classrooms.

  40. 40
    hrun0815 says:

    I have to be on to the next thing but I think a little context will help

    Thank you for providing much more context. I don’t really think it is necessary though. I perfectly understood when you wrote that

    [you are] amazed that the mere presentation of an argument is being viewed as “imposition.”

    and this could only be because

    of generations of indoctrination that has cast the Judaeo-Christian view and its adherents as to blame for the ills of our civilisation, typifying Christianity by the worst that can be dredged up.

    However, it is amazing how even better argued your insertions are in comparison to Barry (sorry BA). You manage to insert even more declarative statements and number them, too. In addition you manage to insert little arrows that indicate to the reader that your declarative statements actually follow from the preceding text.

    Now nobody in their right mind has an excuse anymore to refuse acceptance of the tenor of the OP.

  41. 41
    hrun0815 says:

    Great, I will be using that to combat the pushing evolutionism in public schools’ science classrooms.

    Go for it, Joe. Let us know how this works out for you.

  42. 42
    Box says:

    Ok hrun0815, so you can be chalked down as being fine with the destruction arrangement, because you don’t know what is in store.

  43. 43
    Me_Think says:

    I am broken.
    I am not alone though. You are broken too.

    We are all broke. Good for Barry Arrington’s mortgage business 🙂

  44. 44
    hrun0815 says:

    Ok hrun0815, so you can be chalked down as being fine with the destruction arrangement, because you don’t know what is in store.

    I thought I was being extremely clear and forthright. You asked a hypothetical questions and I wanted to get clarity of what you mean before giving an answer. Just like you wanted to learn something about the people you are wanting to hear an answer from, I wanted to learn something about you.

    In any case, if you don’t want to speculate, then I’ll give you an answer with the caveat that I can only base it on my imagination of an afterlife:

    You are correct. You can put me down in the ‘being fine with that’-camp. There is no afterlife I can imagine that would not ultimately make me desperate to escape it. Without the certainty of that option I’d probably chose not to have an afterlife.

  45. 45
    Me_Think says:

    There can be no afterlife because we will quickly run out of space, food, water, clothing and shelter if God accommodates everyone who dies.

  46. 46
    hrun0815 says:

    Me_Think, my guess is that most imagine an afterlife that does not require food, water, clothing, or shelter. Probably not even space.

    But that leaves me with my original question: What DO you/they think the afterlife is actually like? What do we do?

  47. 47
    Me_Think says:

    hrun0815,

    my guess is that most imagine an afterlife that does not require food, water, clothing, or shelter. Probably not even space.

    I want someone to flesh out ‘afterlife’. No one has an idea of the form in which people will live in ‘after-life’. If we would have no structure in after-life, how would a person move around etc. The imagination of spirit’s ‘form’ is a Hollywood derivative, we can’t float around and go through walls and ‘live’ in formless state.
    I don’t think there is after life. One life is enough for me.

  48. 48
    Box says:

    I know a few things about the afterlife:

    Without afterlife there can be no justice. Without afterlife there can be no meaning for our earthly existence.
    In short: without afterlife there is no outlook of becoming ‘unbroken’.

  49. 49
    hrun0815 says:

    Me_Think, in your description I would agree. What you describe sounds more like condemned souls forever sentences to haunt the living.

    And yes, some people say that we’d be formless and shapeless and simply in a state of love and happiness. That sounds to me like what you describe plus the administration of powerful opiates at a regular schedule. That does not make it more appealing to me.

    In fact, I think the only way the afterlife could be made appealing to me is if it would mimic much of regular life. But I don’t think that’s how people generally think of the afterlife.

    But I am hoping that somebody could inform me what they actually think.

    Anyway, the inability to imagine an appealing after-life is what would drive me to chose not afterlife over afterlife if given the choice.

  50. 50
    Me_Think says:

    Box @ 51

    Without afterlife there can be no justice. Without afterlife there can be no meaning for our earthly existence.

    You don’t need after-life to justify your existence. Just help people around you in whatever way you can, that’s a good reason for [y]our existence.

  51. 51
    hrun0815 says:

    Without afterlife there can be no justice. Without afterlife there can be no meaning for our earthly existence.

    Who says that there has to be justice (beyond the justice we make for ourselves)? And who says that there has to be meaning (beyond the meaning we make for ourselves)?

    And who says that we are actually broken (assuming you are using the term broken to mean ‘not functioning properly; out of working order).

    Or do you share BA’s opinion that:

    Denying the awareness exists does no good. It is there. It is glaring. It stares each of us in the face every day. Denying it is foolish because such a denial is not only false; it is obviously false and convinces no one.

  52. 52
    Box says:

    Me_think: There can be no afterlife because we will quickly run out of space, food, water, clothing and shelter if God accommodates everyone who dies.

    On the one hand these guys believe in the multiverse, but on the other hand they worry that the present universe is too small to accomodate the afterlife.

  53. 53
    Me_Think says:

    Box @ 55,

    On the one hand these guys believe in the multiverse, but on the other hand they worry that the present universe is too small to accomodate the afterlife.

    If you agree every space is habitable for carbon based forms, we need not worry.

  54. 54
    Learned Hand says:

    StephenB,

    I appreciate that you’re thinking critically about how to determine the contours of natural law, but your suggestions don’t seem actually objective (or at all practical).

    The easiest way to know that natural laws are objective is to break them and watch what happens.

    As Mark Frank pointed out, how do you know whether you’re breaking them? Perhaps you mean that we should watch to see what behavior generates negative outcomes—but how do you determine whether an outcome is negative or positive, without resorting once again to subjective judgment?

    Moral truth is not hard to find…

    And yet it is virtually impossible to find two people who agree on what it is, in every case. Of course natural law could exist even without total agreement on every moral question, but it appears in practice that moral truth is actually quite hard to define for all people at all times. It seems, for example, quite easy to agree that killing and rape are wrong. But the warriors of the camp of Shiloh would seem to disagree; they supposedly killed all the men of the camp of Gilead and took the surviving young girls “as wives.” Assuming arguendo that this event occurred as related in the book of Judges, the perpetrators probably believed quite sincerely that their conduct was justified. Any discussion about whether they were correct in that belief is going to quickly belie the notion that “moral truth is not hard to find.”

    Humans tend to agree on basic moral principles, that is certainly true. But that observation is also completely compatible with a “materialistic worldview.” After all, we live in a world populated by neighbors; we live more easily, and more securely, when we socialize ourselves and our children successfully.

    The problem is not that the objective moral code fails to contribute to human happiness, because, clearly, it does do that; the problem is that its application requires moral exertion and many there are who would prefer not to make the effort.

    I think you would agree that people can sincerely disagree about moral principles, since whether or not a core natural law exists it obviously doesn’t resolve every moral question unambiguously. Assuming someone commits an immoral act, how would you determine whether they are someone who “would prefer not to make the effort” and someone who just sincerely disagrees with you about the moral principle in question?

    It is the unwillingness to undergo the pain of moral transformation from what one is to what one ought to be that leads the subjectivist to deny objective morality and institute his own subjective morality, which is always convenient and always congenial with his inclinations. Preferring not to aim for the real moral target, he claims that no such moral target exists.

    This is, as Barry would say if his standards were truly objective, a “just so story.” It’s nothing more than a convenient assertion that people who disagree with you are weak and cowardly rather than sincere in their beliefs. That position may comfort you, but it leaves the dialog in an awkward place. I disagree (presumably) with many of your moral principles. It’s not because I’m a coward, or a moral weakling, or a demonic agent of evil. I just disagree with you. People can, and do, disagree in good faith all the time. Ignoring that is a path to living comfortably in blindness, without ever really seeing, understanding or caring about your neighbors.

    One way to avoid the task of replacing bad habits with good habits is to deny the fact that bad habits even exist. This is the philosophy of moral subjectivists. This is your philosophy.

    This is obviously not a true statement. I am not aware of anyone who would say that there is nothing good or bad. Many people acknowledge that their standards for good and bad are subjective, but that is not the same thing as saying that there is no such standard.

    For the moral subjectivist, there is no such thing as “sweating blood” in an attempt to regulate one’s lower nature in order to do his the right thing—no real moral dilemmas to cause one anguish. For the subjectivist, there is no instinct that “ought” to be regulated or controlled. His whole enterprise is to construct an arbitrary moral code that will justify whatever he feels like doing.

    This, again, is a remarkably dehumanizing set of beliefs. You do not live in a jungle of wicked, amoral materialists who cannot distinguish between good and bad; perhaps you should try to have more conversations with people who disagree with you? You might find it instructive to do more listening and less denouncing.

    For example, I am a subjectivist. I believe that it is right and proper and moral to contribute to the arts. I have a moral dilemma, in that while reviewing my finances I realized that I did not give as much last year as I believe I should. I believe I should make a contribution this month in order to live in accordance with my beliefs; at the same time, my family is preparing for a move and trying to save money. I have a moral dilemma! It will take an effort on my part to look past my anticipation of the moving expenses and make an adequate contribution.

    You might object that giving to the arts is an objective moral imperative. What about giving to Planned Parenthood? I feel the same impetus to support their mission, and do so with a monthly contribution. I get nothing for it, neither swag nor recognition. I think this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned it to anyone. When money is tight, as it has been these last couple years as my partner finishes her post-doc, it’s tempting to cancel that auto-payment. I don’t, for moral reasons that I doubt you or Barry would support. And yet, as a subjectivist, I have to weigh my desire for more money against my desire to behave morally.

    Even subjectivists weigh their selfish desires against their moral beliefs. Assuming that we don’t—that we don’t recognize any “ought” at all—suggests that you have a conveniently cheap mental model of what it’s like to be someone other than StephenB.

    Other people exist. Even when we don’t agree with you, we have full, rounded lives that come complete with moral beliefs and struggles.

  55. 55
    Box says:

    hrun0815: Who says that there has to be justice (beyond the justice we make for ourselves)? And who says that there has to be meaning (beyond the meaning we make for ourselves)?
    And who says that we are actually broken (..) ?

    Not me. What I’m saying is that without an afterlife there can be no justice, there can be no meaning and if we are broken we are broken beyond repair.

  56. 56
    Me_Think says:

    Box @ 58
    Be practical,once we are dead and buried, we are food for microbes.Period. That’s all there is to life.

  57. 57
    hrun0815 says:

    Not me. What I’m saying is that without an afterlife there can be no justice, there can be no meaning and if we are broken we are broken beyond repair.

    I think one still could quibble with the fact that without an afterlife justice, meaning, and repair are logically impossible, but I think this is already pretty solid agreement.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    HR, I provided context to show that the snip and snipe there’s no serious argument there rhetorical approach failed. Only, to find further mischaracterisation. The assertion X can ONLY be due to Y imposes a condition that is not appropriate. I have pointed out that as a matter of well known history in recent decades we have had a history of Y, which has set up a context in which X is common as a consequence. In particular, there is a scapegoating of Christians and the Christian faith in our time and civilisation because of generations of radical secularisation and consistently unbalanced hostile protrayals [–> such as we would not see today about Muslims, and many others . . . ], with sharp acceleration in the past 20 years or so. Do you deny the radical secularisation and hostility? Do you need for me to document further on it beyond sneers such as “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” “superstitious”, “Bible thumping fundy,” “Hitler was a Christian” [–> very relevant to the abuse of “denialism” that appears above . . . something more appropriate to the issue of Holocaust denial than debates on a scientific issue that believe it or not has two sides . . . ] and the like? Do you need for me to point out how mind-closing, heart-hardening prejudices are often established as conventional wisdom, creating stereotypical scapegoats? Do you need more than has already been linked to substantiate that contrary to the myth of “Right Wing Fundy would be tyrants and oppressors . . . ,” Christians were in fact highly involved in the origins of modern liberty and democracy, acting based on the influence of their Biblical, Judaeo-Christian worldview and its tradition of social reformation?

  59. 59
    Axel says:

    ‘Be practical,once we are dead and buried, we are food for microbes.Period. That’s all there is to life.’

    How can you possibly think that, MT? Even in my most dementedly-rabid agnosticism, I’d only have had to watch one of the better NDEs on YouTube to be totally convinced by the body-language alone of the narrators. To see their emotions expressed so totally in their body-language, is an uplifting experience in itself. Just say to God, tonight. ‘Tell me if you exist, please!’

  60. 60
    JWTruthInLove says:

    @Barry-chan:

    I am broken.

    I am not alone though. You are broken too. In fact, the whole world and everyone in it is broken. We recognize that there is the way things are and there is the way things should be and the two are not the same.

    Whether the world is broken or not depends on the specificiation. Anyone can make up any specification he or she likes and objectively test the world against the specification. What specification are you using? What stops the materialist from making up a specification?

  61. 61
    StephenB says:

    Leanred Hand

    And yet it is virtually impossible to find two people who agree on what it is, in every case. Of course natural law could exist even without total agreement on every moral question, but it appears in practice that moral truth is actually quite hard to define for all people at all times.

    The principles of moral truth are very easy to discern. It is the application to individual circumstances that is sometimes difficult to sort out.

    It seems, for example, quite easy to agree that killing and rape are wrong.

    That is correct. They don’t just “seem” wrong (subjective morality) they “are” wrong (objective morality). As a consistent subjectivist, though, you should say that they “seem” wrong to you. Given your stated position, you cannot logically say that they “are” wrong (though you do, of course, know they are, in fact, wrong).

    But the warriors of the camp of Shiloh would seem to disagree; they supposedly killed all the men of the camp of Gilead and took the surviving young girls “as wives.” Assuming arguendo that this event occurred as related in the book of Judges, the perpetrators probably believed quite sincerely that their conduct was justified. Any discussion about whether they were correct in that belief is going to quickly belie the notion that “moral truth is not hard to find.”

    There is nothing in those passages to indicate that the perpetrators believed that rape is morally justified. No one in his right mind believes that rape is morally justified.

    Humans tend to agree on basic moral principles, that is certainly true. But that observation is also completely compatible with a “materialistic worldview.” After all, we live in a world populated by neighbors; we live more easily, and more securely, when we socialize ourselves and our children successfully.

    All rational humans do agree on basic moral principles, but they do not always admit it.

    I think you would agree that people can sincerely disagree about moral principles, since whether or not a core natural law exists it obviously doesn’t resolve every moral question unambiguously.

    The natural law is not supposed to resolve every moral question; it is supposed to provide the unchanging standard by which every individual moral question is analyzed. Some may reasonably disagree on the application of the principle, but they will not disagree about the principle itself. One could argue, for example, that insider trading is not really stealing, though it really is, or they might argue that killing in defense of one’s own life is murder, though it really is not, but everyone agrees (and knows) that stealing and murder are wrong. That is the point.

    Assuming someone commits an immoral act, how would you determine whether they are someone who “would prefer not to make the effort” and someone who just sincerely disagrees with you about the moral principle in question?

    No one who is capable of rational thought will disagree with the fact that murder, rape, and stealing and other such acts are wrong. Those who refuse to honor the principles of basic morality do so because they are selfish and would prefer not to exercise the virtue of self control. Indeed, subjectivists, like yourself, deny both the existence of personal virtues and the existence of personal vices.

    SB: It is the unwillingness to undergo the pain of moral transformation from what one is to what one ought to be that leads the subjectivist to deny objective morality and institute his own subjective morality, which is always convenient and always congenial with his inclinations. Preferring not to aim for the real moral target, he claims that no such moral target exists.

    This is, as Barry would say if his standards were truly objective, a “just so story.” It’s nothing more than a convenient assertion that people who disagree with you are weak and cowardly rather than sincere in their beliefs. That position may comfort you, but it leaves the dialog in an awkward place.

    It also leaves the dialog in an awkward place when people who know that the moral law exists pretend not to know it. One of the reasons that we are having this awkward discussion is because you will not acknowledge that which you know to be true. However, it should be obvious that when subjectivists refuse to follow then natural moral law, it is because they selfishly elevate their own interests over those of their neighbors. It has nothing to do with their propensity to agree or disagree with me.

    I disagree (presumably) with many of your moral principles. It’s not because I’m a coward, or a moral weakling, or a demonic agent of evil. I just disagree with you. People can, and do, disagree in good faith all the time. Ignoring that is a path to living comfortably in blindness, without ever really seeing, understanding or caring about your neighbors.

    Which one of my moral principles do you disagree with? Feel free to speculate. Perhaps you were thinking about abortion? A subjectivist can scruple endlessly about how much money to contribute to the arts while supporting the practice of tearing babies apart piece by piece. Without an objective moral code, any kind of rationalization is possible.

    I am not aware of anyone who would say that there is nothing good or bad. Many people acknowledge that their standards for good and bad are subjective, but that is not the same thing as saying that there is no such standard.

    Anyone who disagrees with objective morality automatically disagrees with objective goodness, which determines what morality will be. An act is morally good if it is in keeping with one’s human nature. If there is no such thing as human nature, then there can obviously be no such thing as a morality proper to human nature, which is another way of saying that there can be no such thing as a good act. There can be no such thing as a moral principle that is subjectively good.

    This, again, is a remarkably dehumanizing set of beliefs. You do not live in a jungle of wicked, amoral materialists who cannot distinguish between good and bad; perhaps you should try to have more conversations with people who disagree with you? You might find it instructive to do more listening and less denouncing.

    The fact remains that the moral subjectivist designs his morality for his personal convenience. That you are displeased with me for exposing that fact is not really relevant to the discussion. If you want me to do more listening, then you will have to say something of substance. You can begin by explaining the difference between right and wrong. Naturally, you cannot do that since you don’t believe that right and wrong exist.

    For example, I am a subjectivist.

    I am well aware of that fact.

    Even subjectivists weigh their selfish desires against their moral beliefs.

    Subjectivists weigh some of their personal preferences against some of their other personal preferences.

    Assuming that we don’t—that we don’t recognize any “ought” at all—suggests that you have a conveniently cheap mental model of what it’s like to be someone other than StephenB.

    The fact remains that you have no moral “oughts.” I am not assuming it. I know it to be the case by virtue of your acknowledged subjectivism. You merely have a set of personal preferences—no moral code. On the one hand, you know that murder and rape are wrong; on the other hand, you cannot bring yourself to admit it in a public forum. Stephen B has nothing to do with it.

    Other people exist. Even when we don’t agree with you, we have full, rounded lives that come complete with moral beliefs and struggles.

    Subjectivists struggle over personal preferences, not moral beliefs.

  62. 62
    Learned Hand says:

    The principles of moral truth are very easy to discern.

    It’s quite easy to say so. It’s rather more difficult to support that assertion, given that people empirically do not agree about the principles of moral truth. Since (I assume) your position is that this is self-evident and needn’t be supported, I suppose we’ll have to just disagree. Just as you disagree with all the people who don’t share your intuitions as to what moral principles are true, despite how easy they supposedly are to discern.

    Given your stated position, you cannot logically say that [killing and rape] “are” wrong (though you do, of course, know they are, in fact, wrong).

    Of course I can. This, again, seems to be a belief that stems from your assumptions about how people who aren’t StephenB think; like Barry, your model of how other people think is not very accurate.

    I can and do say that rape “is” wrong. (Killing is more complicated, but I can’t think of any instance in which rape is justified.) It violates my moral principles. I’m a subjectivist because I acknowledge that other people have different moral principles, not because I deny the concept of moral principles.

    There is nothing in those passages to indicate that the perpetrators believed that rape is morally justified. No one in his right mind believes that rape is morally justified.

    I’m baffled. Assuming, again, that the story happened as related in the Bible, these men acted on a command from God to kill and have sex with their victims’ relations, believing all the while they weren’t morally justified in doing so? My assumption has been that they would believe they were morally justified because the command came from God (or for some other reason), not that they did so believing their own premeditated actions were immoral.

    All rational humans do agree on basic moral principles, but they do not always admit it.

    Are all rational human beings also True Scotsmen?

    The natural law is not supposed to resolve every moral question; it is supposed to provide the unchanging standard by which every individual moral question is analyzed.

    It would be very interesting if there were something that actually provided that standard. But since humans can’t identify it objectively, I have a hard time seeing what’s unchanging about it. Our notions about what’s right and wrong have changed, do change, are changing and will change. Are freedom and equality vital moral principles? The men of Biblical times didn’t think so; slavery wasn’t obviously immoral to our predecessors the way it is to you and me.

    If there is a standard, and it doesn’t change, then people changed in their willingness to see and accept it. And since our only access to that standard is through human beings, whether ourselves or our teachers, that makes the supposedly objective standard quite subjective.

    Consider, for example, how do I know that Barry and Stephen accurately perceive the objective natural law? Your predecessors, like mine, didn’t. What’s changed to put the keys to an accurate understanding in your hands? And if your understanding of it is flawed and subject to misinterpretation, it’s not a very objective standard in practice.

    Some may reasonably disagree on the application of the principle, but they will not disagree about the principle itself. One could argue, for example, that insider trading is not really stealing, though it really is, or they might argue that killing in defense of one’s own life is murder, though it really is not, but everyone agrees (and knows) that stealing and murder are wrong. That is the point.

    I’ll concede that everyone I can think of would agree that unjustified stealing and murder are wrong (although it’s begging the question a bit). But this is also perfectly consistent with the “materialist” worldview; as I wrote earlier, we socialize ourselves and our kids as a natural consequence of living in a world with neighbors. Once you start to value other people, in addition to just yourself, harming them is naturally going to be seen as a transgression.

    Is that all natural law really is? Valuing other people in addition to yourself? I think I’d agree that’s a principle we all have access to, although its practical applications are always going to be largely subjective.

    Indeed, subjectivists, like yourself, deny both the existence of personal virtues and the existence of personal vices.

    You can say this all day and all night, if you like. But in case you’re ever interested in what an actual subjectivist thinks, I don’t deny the existence of either personal virtues or personal vices. If that concept rubs your preconceptions the wrong way, I suppose you could tell yourself that I’m lying about my beliefs or too stupid to understand them. Or, perhaps, your preconceptions are unduly limited.

    One of the reasons that we are having this awkward discussion is because you will not acknowledge that which you know to be true. However, it should be obvious that when subjectivists refuse to follow then natural moral law, it is because they selfishly elevate their own interests over those of their neighbors.

    It’s hard for me to read this as anything other than a claim that people who disagree with you as to those moral principles you define as objective are either too stupid or too willfully dishonest to admit that they actually agree with you. I realize that’s an aggressive rephrasing of your claim. Is it inaccurate?
    Which one of my moral principles do you disagree with? Feel free to speculate.

    I don’t need to speculate; I think it’s immoral to refuse to accept that other human beings are capable of having their own thoughts and beliefs, whether or not you accept those beliefs for yourself. I believe it is a lamentably common worldview that prevents us from understanding, engaging with, or valuing our neighbors. You appear to be quite happy to denounce those of us who disagree with you as liars or fools, because (you tell us) we actually believe just as you do, but refuse to admit it.

    A subjectivist can scruple endlessly about how much money to contribute to the arts while supporting the practice of tearing babies apart piece by piece. Without an objective moral code, any kind of rationalization is possible.

    Well, there you go—another disagreement about morality. Of course, even with a code you claim is objective, you’re going to have to rationalize it eventually. Simply shouting at people, “You agree with me! You know the things you claim to believe are right are actually wrong!” isn’t going to change any minds. When objectivists dispute right and wrong, they always seem to fall back on the same tools as subjectivists—reasoning, persuasion, and (sometimes) force. Ultimately it’s all subjective.

    For example, is abortion right when the fetus is non-viable? When the life of the mother is at stake? In cases of rape or incest? Under what circumstances might abortion be moral? They’re rhetorical questions that you needn’t answer; only observe, please, that if you gather ten staunch objectivists together you will get different answers to those questions. The inability of objectivists to define their principles in any way other than through their own moral reasoning is a strong indication that those principles are ultimately subjective, or else derived from the fact that they (like subjectivists) value people other than themselves.

    Another example of this is the float of supposedly objective moral beliefs. They change over time, largely because people who are searching for objective truths happen to discover (quelle surprise!) that those truths coincide neatly with what their culture believes. If you asked a Virginia planter in 1715 whether slavery was a moral abomination, he’d likely sincerely say no. If you asked his successor in 2015, the response will have changed. Why? The fact that our culture has radically changed between then and now is relevant to the answer.

    Anyone who disagrees with objective morality automatically disagrees with objective goodness, which determines what morality will be. An act is morally good if it is in keeping with one’s human nature. If there is no such thing as human nature, then there can obviously be no such thing as a morality proper to human nature, which is another way of saying that there can be no such thing as a good act. There can be no such thing as a moral principle that is subjectively good.

    Thank you for explaining your beliefs. I don’t concur, obviously; I think your assumptions regarding what’s consistent with human nature and what morality is are ultimately just assuming your preferred beliefs. But I appreciate the insight.

    The fact remains that the moral subjectivist designs his morality for his personal convenience.

    That is not consistent with my personal experience, or that of the moral subjectivists I know. We do wrestle with moral questions, despite rejecting the notion that there is an objective moral principle that somehow filters through the subjective perceptions of the people interpreting it.

    That you are displeased with me for exposing that fact is not really relevant to the discussion.

    I’m not sure what you are claiming to have “exposed.” Declaring something is not quite the same thing as exposing it. Regardless, while I think your assertions here do you no credit, I don’t believe I’m “displeased” with you in any particular way. We just disagree.

    If you want me to do more listening, then you will have to say something of substance. You can begin by explaining the difference between right and wrong. Naturally, you cannot do that since you don’t believe that right and wrong exist.

    You asked me to explain something, then immediately declared that I can’t do it under your assumptions about my beliefs. I think that means that whatever I say, you’ve already made up your mind; that’s certainly consistent with my observations of the Uncommon Descent regulars. You have a truth, and nothing I say will sway your preconceptions—even if they’re preconceptions about my beliefs.

    But despite your pre-rejection of my answer, it’s a fair question. The answer is long and complicated, and hard to articulate, but I’ll try. I hold to certain moral principles, like “freedom is good.” I think they come from two major sources. One is that I believe others should have the things I want for myself (freedom, prosperity, etc.), as I value them in addition to myself. Another is my acculturation. My parents and community worked hard, explicitly and implicitly, to instill those values in me. I tend to believe that actions consistent with and supporting those values are good, and those undermining or denying them are bad.

    This is a vast oversimplification, as moral reasoning is hard to distill. So, for example, I believe that slavery is wrong because it denies freedom to people for no valid reason. On the other hand, I believe that compelling people to pay taxes is morally acceptable because the cost to freedom is much less, and that there are valid reasons for that burden.

    Of course, there are people who deny that freedom is a good such that slavery is impermissible (and also who deny that taxes are morally acceptable). I have to acknowledge that they honestly believe that, not that they simply pretend to disagree with me while secretly knowing I’m right.

    Subjectivists weigh some of their personal preferences against some of their other personal preferences.

    Why would an objectivist do things that comply with the objective good? Because they prefer complying with that standard to denying it. “Weighing preferences” is just another way of saying “making a decision.” If you’re exercising free will, you’re weighing preferences.

    The fact remains that you have no moral “oughts.” I am not assuming it. I know it to be the case by virtue of your acknowledged subjectivism.

    I can say that I do. I can list them. I can even sacrifice and fight and die for them, as many subjectivists have. But you’ve decided in advance that it’s all a lie; in fact, we all believe as StephenB does, while choosing to lie about it. That’s such a wearying, claustrophobic worldview.

    Perhaps no one could persuade you that people who aren’t StephenB have inner moral lives just as rich and fraught as your own. But please do consider that you may not have as accurate an insight into other human beings as you believe you do. Your insights don’t even accurately describe or predict the actions of subjectivists; why on earth would you believe I’d be reluctant to say that murder and rape are wrong? I think I said it earlier in this thread, and I’ll say it again—they’re wrong. Your observation that I’d be somehow unwilling or unable to say that should suggest to you that your mental model of how other people believe is inadequate.

  63. 63
    tjguy says:

    RVB8 @17

    I’m not sure, does this mean if all the world thought, as Christians and Jews thought, the ‘straight line’ would appear. Wouldn’t it simply lead to the two remaining groups vying for ultimate control? Via evolutionary prediction? Wouldn’t the winner then split into further smaller groups within their belief system, some more toward the Book, some more toward humanism, thus leading to further conflict?

    Here is my take on it for what it is worth. An absolute standard does exist, but that straight line may never fully appear. That does not give anyone an excuse to just live as he wants to though. There is a standard. We all know deep down in our hearts that certain things are just wrong and other things are just right and good. The standard derives from the character of God Himself, but it is not a standard that can be written A to Z. You will not find the standard spelled out in detail in the Bible either.

    Certain things are spelled out quite clearly, but not everything. And even then, there can be exceptions. For instance, killing is wrong, but is it wrong in every single situation? That is hard to say. God alone has the authority and right to kill and to give life. There are times when God commanded his children to kill others as punishment for sin. God alone can do this. He is the righteous Judge. Capital punishment could also be seen this way. Then there is self defense which also seems to be permitted in the OT.

    A line by line detailed standard is not found in the Bible, but we do find general principles that God expects us to apply to the question at hand. For instance, Jesus gave us one standard/principle to apply to our actions – to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as our self. The Golden Rule is another principle/standard He mentioned. There are other principles as well that we need to take and apply to various behaviors/actions such as the principle of not being controlled by anything – so that speaks to drugs, alcohol, bad habits(pornography, gambling, etc.) Purity, honesty, faithfulness, etc. are other measurements. So, purity, holiness, honesty, etc. are part of God’s absolute standard, but we all are responsible for using those principles in evaluating a particular action, thought, motive, etc. Then certain negative principles exist as well such as selfishness, self-centeredness, pride, self-exaltation, impurity, etc.

    So, although we cannot come up with THE absolute standard, we know that one does exist. We will all give account to God for our actions and our decisions about right and wrong. If we honestly seek God’s mind on a particular issue, we may not hit it 100% of the time, but we will be far closer than if we follow our own personal standards.

    There are areas in which we need to extend grace to others who disagree with us realizing that their conscience may vary from ours in these gray areas.

    The Bible gives the following principle for the gray areas. If we do anything knowing it to be wrong, or thinking that it is wrong, then for us it IS wrong. But someone else might do that same thing totally without guilt and not think it is wrong. One example given in the Bible is eating meat that has been offered to idols. In modern day, drinking alcohol might be one of those areas. Motives are important as well so a particular action might be OK for one person because of his motive, while it is wrong for another because of their impure motive.

    God looks at the heart! If only we could see our own hearts in the way He sees them, no one would argue about whether or not they are a sinner.

  64. 64
    Cross says:

    Learned Hand @ 65
    “I can and do say that rape “is” wrong. (Killing is more complicated, but I can’t think of any instance in which rape is justified.) It violates my moral principles. I’m a subjectivist because I acknowledge that other people have different moral principles, not because I deny the concept of moral principles.”

    So are you saying that if someone with different moral principles to you rapes someone it’s Ok as long as it is in line with their moral principles?

  65. 65
    Learned Hand says:

    So are you saying that if someone with different moral principles to you rapes someone it’s Ok as long as it is in line with their moral principles?

    No. Because I have my own moral principles, which I apply to judge the conduct of others. I assess their conduct as wrong if it violates my principles.

    Being a subjectivist means that I acknowledge that the other person does have his own moral principles, and that I don’t have an external, objective standard with which to judge him. I have to use my own standards, which are (at least in practice) subjective.

    That’s the same boat Barry and StephenB are in, of course. If they want to condemn someone, it doesn’t get them very far to point to supposed objective principles. To actually move the debate, eventually they’ll need to start rationalizing: why are my principles better than the actor’s? Why should anyone listen to me?

    Being a subjectivist does not mean that I believe all principles are equal. I obviously prefer my own.

  66. 66
    Cross says:

    Learned Hand @ 68

    “No. Because I have my own moral principles, which I apply to judge the conduct of others. I assess their conduct as wrong if it violates my principles.”

    This is what the Terrorists in France believe also. So, who is right, the one with the biggest weapons or will to enforce their view on others?

  67. 67
    Learned Hand says:

    I have my own standards, which equip me to condemn them. Do you think they care? Would they if I claimed those standards were objective?

    Objectivists and subjectivists have the same set of tools to respond to such behavior: persuasion, politics, force.

  68. 68
    Cross says:

    LH @ 70

    Sorry LH but “subjectivism” just doesn’t work.

    In order to measure elapsed time we need a standard measure of time, measured by one standard atomic clock, or else chaos ensues.

    To determine right or wrong, we need a standard. Call it a straight line, moral compass etc. there can only be one.

    As tjguy said
    ” Here is my take on it for what it is worth. An absolute standard does exist, but that straight line may never fully appear. That does not give anyone an excuse to just live as he wants to though. There is a standard. We all know deep down in our hearts that certain things are just wrong and other things are just right and good. The standard derives from the character of God Himself, but it is not a standard that can be written A to Z. You will not find the standard spelled out in detail in the Bible either.”

    You can chose to ignore that deep down voice and set your own standards, you have free will, but that does not remove the standard.

  69. 69
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    I can and do say that rape “is” wrong.

    Not really. To say that it is “wrong” is, by definition, to say that it is wrong for everyone. You can only say that it seems wrong to you and for no other reason except that it is not consistent with your preferences.

    I’m baffled.

    Why are you baffled? There is nothing in those passages to suggest that anyone was commanded to rape.

    SB:The natural law is not supposed to resolve every moral question; it is supposed to provide the unchanging standard by which every individual moral question is analyzed.

    It would be very interesting if there were something that actually provided that standard.

    You have changed the subject. The point is that, contrary to your claim, the natural moral law is not supposed to provide detailed directions about how to address every complicated moral issue. It is mean to inform every moral issue.

    I’ll concede that everyone I can think of would agree that unjustified stealing and murder are wrong (although it’s begging the question a bit). But this is also perfectly consistent with the “materialist” worldview; as I wrote earlier, we socialize ourselves and our kids as a natural consequence of living in a world with neighbors. Once you start to value other people, in addition to just yourself, harming them is naturally going to be seen as a transgression.

    Morality is not consistent with the materialist point of view because materialism cannot explain why we should live at peace with our neighbors or why they should be valued. Indeed, you have made it clear that you do not value unborn children enough to condemn abortion. As a subjectivist, you cannot make the case for why anyone has value or should be valued by others or why they should not be given over to chattel slavery.

    Is that all natural law really is? Valuing other people in addition to yourself? I think I’d agree that’s a principle we all have access to, although its practical applications are always going to be largely subjective.

    The natural moral law is simply the moral law proper to human nature.

    It’s hard for me to read this as anything other than a claim that people who disagree with you as to those moral principles you define as objective are either too stupid or too willfully dishonest to admit that they actually agree with you. I realize that’s an aggressive rephrasing of your claim. Is it inaccurate?

    Well, there is no way around the fact that each side in this debate must, at some point, imply that the other is being disingenuous. When, for example, I tell you that I can apprehend as a self-evident truth the legitimacy of the natural moral law the same way that I can grasp the mathematical truth that 1 + 1 = 2, you imply that I am not really apprehending it at all. You think I am arrogating to myself objective truths without warrant and that no such thing as a self-evident truth can exist. By definition, a self evident truth cannot be demonstrated, either logically or empirically. If it could be demonstrated, it would not bed self evident. So that is where we are: You don’t believe me when I say that I can apprehend the objective moral law and I don’t believe you when you say you can’t.

    The natural moral law can easily be grasped by the conscience of any normal person. By normal, I mean anyone who has not been harmed by someone else, as in the case of brainwashing, or who has not harmed himself by forming bad moral habits that interfere with his rational sensibilities. Someone who is addicted to pornography, for example, is morally compromised in his ability to grasp the moral law. Such a person would likely support the killing of unborn children as well. Someone who has been abused by a tyrant and trained to “kill infidels” would also be compromised. It is possible to kill the human conscience. Still, those whose conscience still functions can discern the objective difference between right and wrong.

    I don’t need to speculate; I think it’s immoral to refuse to accept that other human beings are capable of having their own thoughts and beliefs, whether or not you accept those beliefs for yourself. I believe it is a lamentably common worldview that prevents us from understanding, engaging with, or valuing our neighbors. You appear to be quite happy to denounce those of us who disagree with you as liars or fools, because (you tell us) we actually believe just as you do, but refuse to admit it.

    This is classic subjectivism. For you, it is more immoral to be critical of those who kill babies than to actually kill the babies. On the other hand, you think it is moral to kill the babies as long as you are open minded about the moral views of the killer. That is what subjectivism has done to your moral sensibilities. Yes, I happily denounce such a world view as perverse and illogical.

    For example, is abortion right when the fetus is non-viable? When the life of the mother is at stake? In cases of rape or incest? Under what circumstances might abortion be moral? They’re rhetorical questions that you needn’t answer; only observe, please, that if you gather ten staunch objectivists together you will get different answers to those questions.

    No one who understands the natural moral law will have any difficulty answering any or of all those questions. I will be happy to take them up one at a time. Just let me know which one you would care to discuss.

    The inability of objectivists to define their principles in any way other than through their own moral reasoning is a strong indication that those principles are ultimately subjective, or else derived from the fact that they (like subjectivists) value people other than themselves.

    I have no difficulty defining the natural moral law or any aspect of it. On the other hand, you have not yet given me your subjectivist/ materialist argument that humans ought to value anyone other than themselves. I can argue that case, you cannot.

    Another example of this is the float of supposedly objective moral beliefs. They change over time, largely because people who are searching for objective truths happen to discover (quelle surprise!) that those truths coincide neatly with what their culture believes. If you asked a Virginia planter in 1715 whether slavery was a moral abomination, he’d likely sincerely say no. If you asked his successor in 2015, the response will have changed. Why? The fact that our culture has radically changed between then and now is relevant to the answer.

    No objective moral principle has ever changed over time. Plenty of slave owners have confessed their own immorality. Everyone knows that chattel slavery (not indentured servitude) is wrong. You also know that it is wrong, but you choose not to acknowledge that fact.

    Anyone who disagrees with objective morality automatically disagrees with objective goodness, which determines what morality will be. An act is morally good if it is in keeping with one’s human nature. If there is no such thing as human nature, then there can obviously be no such thing as a morality proper to human nature, which is another way of saying that there can be no such thing as a good act. There can be no such thing as a moral principle that is subjectively good.

    Thank you for explaining your beliefs. I don’t concur, obviously; I think your assumptions regarding what’s consistent with human nature and what morality is are ultimately just assuming your preferred beliefs. But I appreciate the insight.

    I didn’t explain my beliefs. I explained the logical connection between goodness and morality. Objective Morality is defined as good behavior; objective immorality is defined as bad behavior. Words mean things.

    But despite your pre-rejection of my answer, it’s a fair question. The answer is long and complicated, and hard to articulate, but I’ll try. I hold to certain moral principles, like “freedom is good.”

    The question is, Why are they good? And What do you mean by good?

    I think they come from two major sources. One is that I believe others should have the things I want for myself (freedom, prosperity, etc.), as I value them in addition to myself.

    But why do you value them and why should your values be preferred over the values of those who value unfettered power and seek to take away others’ freedoms, or rob them of their prosperity?

    Another is my acculturation. My parents and community worked hard, explicitly and implicitly, to instill those values in me. I tend to believe that actions consistent with and supporting those values are good, and those undermining or denying them are bad.

    Is that your argument? Your values are good because your parents and the community passed them down to you? Are the values of the suicide bomber good values because they were passed down to him?

    This is a vast oversimplification, as moral reasoning is hard to distill. So, for example, I believe that slavery is wrong because it denies freedom to people for no valid reason. On the other hand, I believe that compelling people to pay taxes is morally acceptable because the cost to freedom is much less, and that there are valid reasons for that burden.

    But you are still begging the question. Why do people deserve to be free? Why shouldn’t someone who values power be permitted to make slaves of them?

  70. 70
    rvb8 says:

    StephenB, ‘No objective moral principle has changed over time.’
    What if God changed them? Jesus lived in a time of slavery and said nary a word against it. For a great moral man to ignore an ‘objective’ universal moral truth, that slavery is wrong, surely should lead you to question His morality; by your own argument.

    In fact Jesus’ silence (and God’s for that matter)on moral truths we hold today should be a source of disquiet for all believers.

    I mean where are the parables about Jesus denouncing rapists, or Robber Barons, or those who would exploit labour, children, and women. This man’s morality should be severely questioned upon His return.

  71. 71
    Learned Hand says:

    Cross,

    In order to measure elapsed time we need a standard measure of time, measured by one standard atomic clock, or else chaos ensues.

    In other words, you can’t establish an objective measurement without an objective measuring stick. I agree with that. But that assumes we’re trying to establish an objective measurement; you’re assuming your conclusion. The world has spun happily for a very long time without such a measuring stick, given that there’s no way to measure that stick without relying on subjective assessments. Has chaos ensued? Perhaps. But I don’t think there has been, is, or will be an alternative. Despite our subjectivity, we coexist, sometimes peacefully, as neighbors.

    You can chose to ignore that deep down voice and set your own standards, you have free will, but that does not remove the standard.

    I don’t think I ignore “that deep down voice.” But I think it comes from my upbringing and culture, rather than a Platonic standard. That would explain why my deep down voice shouts that slavery is an abomination, which was a much rarer message in our forefathers’ day. Did the voice change, or did we? I think it’s both, because we create the voice ourselves.

  72. 72
    Cross says:

    rvb8 @ 73

    I am new to posting here and my purpose is not to evangelize. That said, I can offer a view.

    The Jews expected a Messiah to come riding on a stallion leading an army to right the wrongs of the world. Instead, Jesus wanted to change their hearts and minds, they would change the world (which they did).

    Jesus said ” If you have seem me, then you have seen the Father (God)” In other words follow my example and you will follow Gods.

    The question is, did Jesus, enslave anyone, rape, murder, steal, treat women and children badly?

    As for rape parables, as stated in other posts, rape is self evidently wrong and needed no parable to show it.

    Cheers

  73. 73
    StephenB says:

    StephenB, ‘No objective moral principle has changed over time.’

    rvb8

    What if God changed them?

    By definition, moral laws are unchangeable. That is why they are called laws.

  74. 74
    Cross says:

    Learned Hand @ 74

    “In other words, you can’t establish an objective measurement without an objective measuring stick. I agree with that. But that assumes we’re trying to establish an objective measurement;”
    We are, what is right and what is wrong.

    I agree slavery is an abomination, but I think so is abortion and yet I live in a society that has made it legal and acceptable. The society around me does not seem to be changing my view.

  75. 75
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    But I think it comes from my upbringing and culture, rather than a Platonic standard. That would explain why my deep down voice shouts that slavery is an abomination, which was a much rarer message in our forefathers’ day. Did the voice change, or did we? I think it’s both, because we create the voice ourselves.

    So when we created the pre-1860’s cultural voice that accepted slavery, and when we later created the post 1860’s cultural voice that rejected slavery, we were right both times? That is a strange doctrine indeed.

  76. 76
    Learned Hand says:

    Not really. To say that it is “wrong” is, by definition, to say that it is wrong for everyone. You can only say that it seems wrong to you and for no other reason except that it is not consistent with your preferences.

    You keep telling me what I can and can’t say; it makes debate easier, but understanding harder. Not, to be fair, that you’ve suggested that understanding is your objective. When you’re absolutely right and everyone agrees with you, what’s the point of understanding how anyone else thinks? As shadows of yourself, all you need to do is focus on your own opinions to perceive ours. Your positions seems suddenly quite solipsistic.

    I think it is wrong for everyone to commit slavery, rape, or any other immoral act. And yet I appreciate that some people will disagree with me, such as the men of Shiloh. Since I have no objective standard to which to appeal, I am a subjectivist. My judgment of others depends ultimately on my own lights, and no others.

    You can, and certainly will, insist ad infinitum that my moral beliefs are mere preferences. It seems like an attempt to minimize them, to me, but there’s no harm. Ultimately, as I’ve said, the exercise of any act of free will is just a selection among preferences. Why do you prefer to good rather than evil? “For no other reason except that it is not consistent with your preferences.”

    Why are you baffled? There is nothing in those passages to suggest that anyone was commanded to rape.

    I’m sorry, I mixed up the stories—I’m no Bible scholar. Apparently it’s the Midianites I was thinking of. Moses commanded the Israelites to kill all but the virgins, and keep those for themselves; setting aside whether that commandment came ultimately from God, I think it’s reasonable to assume that at least some people acting on that command believed it was a moral action. You may well disagree; obviously there are many objectivists who don’t. Once again we see the objective standard splintering into subjective fragments.

    Morality is not consistent with the materialist point of view because materialism cannot explain why we should live at peace with our neighbors or why they should be valued.

    It doesn’t need to. The fact that we care about the wellbeing of our neighbors is enough in and of itself. Whether or not some external force explains why we should care, we do, and we construct standards of conduct accordingly.

    As a subjectivist, you cannot make the case for why anyone has value or should be valued by others or why they should not be given over to chattel slavery.

    Another bald declaration of what I can and can’t say. Please try to mark a distinction between me and you. Only one of us is StephenB, and that’s the only person whose mind you truly know.

    Other people have value for the same reason I have value; why should it be any different? Why would I be the only person who matters? I suspect I value others because I was raised to do so, and that I was raised to do so because my parents were raised to do so, and on and on. There may be a deeper, biological explanation for the value, but I don’t know anything about it. I don’t think it’s a necessary explanation in practice, as competitive pressures would pretty aggressively favor societies in which valuing each other is upheld as a positive thing.

    Well, there is no way around the fact that each side in this debate must, at some point, imply that the other is being disingenuous. When, for example, I tell you that I can apprehend as a self-evident truth the legitimacy of the natural moral law the same way that I can grasp the mathematical truth that 1 + 1 = 2, you imply that I am not really apprehending it at all.

    Once again, you’re speaking for me; I think I do that job better than you. I don’t believe you’re being disingenuous. I think you honestly believe that your moral principles are deep and everlasting and objective. Lots of people intuitively grasp and deeply hold subjective truths. Ask Mapou about whether anything can move in the universe, and he’ll bend your ear with things he perceives as clearly as we perceive that 1 + 1 = 2. His notions, though, don’t reflect an accurate, objective, eternal standard. Just his own notions.

    By definition, a self evident truth cannot be demonstrated, either logically or empirically. If it could be demonstrated, it would not bed self evident.

    I haven’t asked you to demonstrate it. I’d appreciate it if you could list those self-evident moral truths, and explain why opinions on them have drifted and changed throughout human history; while one doesn’t need to demonstrate a self-evident truth, I think they typically have consequences that can be demonstrated.

    In fact, you suggested earlier that we could determine self-evident truths by watching for the negative consequences when they’re broken. Where are those consequences? What are the consequences to permitting abortion, or gay marriage, or public blasphemy?

    No one who understands the natural moral law will have any difficulty answering any or of all those questions. I will be happy to take them up one at a time. Just let me know which one you would care to discuss.

    The point, if you’ll recall, was that different staunch objectivists would have different answers to a question like, “Is it permissible to abort a child to save the life of the mother?” Law school is full of stacked hypos like that; what if the child will be stillborn anyway? What if it would only survive a day? The answers are important, but so is the fact that the answers are different to different people. No matter how much you insist that we all secretly agree with you, the fact is that divisive questions divide people. Different people, even different people who pray and believe more or less like you, will have different answers. Even if there were an underlying moral standard, the fact that we all interpret it differently in practice puts us back in the subjective world.

    You can say, of course, that no one really has different answers and we all secretly agree with you. I find that hard to square with the experience of watching people struggle with moral questions like that. I have only your word that it’s self-evident that no man can honestly disagree with StephenB, as opposed to the word of every other human being that they actually have their own minds and beliefs. Since you have no greater access to their minds than my own, and you have shown no particular ability to read that, I have to conclude that they rest of us know our own beliefs better than you do.

    No objective moral principle has ever changed over time. Plenty of slave owners have confessed their own immorality. Everyone knows that chattel slavery (not indentured servitude) is wrong.

    Did the authors of the Old Testament know it? Did Jesus? Did generations of Romans, Slavs, or Englishmen? Once again, even if we agreed that there was an objective standard, history shows that morality gets interpreted by the people alive at any given time. If that interpretation is subjective, then in practice there’s no objective standard. Casually waving your hand and saying, “Well, that entire culture secretly agreed with me” is… well, it’s a very StephenB argument. Comforting, perhaps, but hardly persuasive to anyone standing outside of your own shoes.

    You also know that it is wrong, but you choose not to acknowledge that fact.

    The words you put in my mouth don’t taste at all familiar. Chattel slavery is wrong.

    The question is, Why are [principles like freedom] good? And What do you mean by good?

    I mean that I believe these things to be good. I don’t know that I can reduce the concept any further than that, although I don’t know if it’s because it’s irreducible or because I just haven’t thought about it carefully enough.

    I was raised and socialized to hold principles like freedom and knowledge and life and justice dear. Perhaps because I want them for myself, but I think also because society encourages us in our formative years to admire these principles; certainly the notion that all men are created equal is not one that our ancestors universally shared. And there is no reason why the set of real people in the world would contain only myself; other people have value too. (Again, I can’t know exactly why I believe that, but I think my upbringing is obviously at least part of the answer.) What’s good for me is good for them as well, and it’s good to pursue good for others as well as for yourself.

    You’ll have noticed that my moral notions don’t resolve down into a neat set of logical principles. I don’t expect them to ever do so, no matter how much thought I put into the question; people are complicated and a little sloppy, psychologically.

    But why do you value them and why should your values be preferred over the values of those who value unfettered power and seek to take away others’ freedoms, or rob them of their prosperity?

    I value them for the reasons I set forth above; insofar as I understand my own reasons, that is. I prefer my values over others because they are mine. This is something that I think you honestly don’t understand: I feel quite free to prefer my moral beliefs over those of others. If I shared their beliefs, or thought they were better than mine, I could adopt them.

    Being a subjectivist means that I acknowledge that Osama bin Laden honestly believed he had the moral right to murder me, and that I don’t have an objective standard to point to and prove that he was wrong. But that doesn’t mean I can’t point and say that he was wrong. I’m using my own standards, just (according to me, anyway) as everyone else ultimately has to do.

    Why do I prefer my moral notions to his? Because they suit my values better. Why are my values what they are? Probably because of how I was raised and the culture I belong to; it’s not a coincidence that peoples’ values tend to track those factors.

    Why do people deserve to be free? Why shouldn’t someone who values power be permitted to make slaves of them?

    My answer is that freedom is a good thing that belongs to all people. Neither of us can reduce our notions down much further than that, I think. The primary difference between us seems to be that I accept that other people can honestly disagree with me. I can say their beliefs are wrong, but I wouldn’t feel compelled to call them dishonest or insincere.

    Without an objective moral ruler, when I disagree with someone’s moral compass I have to persuade them or coerce them to affect their behavior. What do we see when objectivists disagree? They point to their objective standard, which persuades no one who doesn’t share their opinions about that standard—and they fall back on the same tools of persuasion and coercion.

    At the end of the day, we live in a subjective world in which people hash out their moral differences exactly as we’d expect them to in a universe without objective moral principles.

  77. 77
    Learned Hand says:

    So when we created the pre-1860?s cultural voice that accepted slavery, and when we later created the post 1860?s cultural voice that rejected slavery, we were right both times? That is a strange doctrine indeed.

    When you construct an argument that makes no sense, it could be that you simply don’t understand the perspective you’re trying to model.

    I would not say that “we were right both times.” You do not understand my beliefs, and I’m sorry I haven’t communicated them more clearly.

    Both cultures would, in the aggregate, believe they were right. I, as a member of the latter culture, believe that only the rejection of slavery is right. The society of slavers was wrong, as judged by my standards. I have no objective ruler to apply to them, so those standards are all I have to go on. I acknowledge that they disagreed with me, but that doesn’t require me to put their beliefs on the same level as my own. I prefer my beliefs and values, probably because of my cultural and personal background.

    Of course, when it came time for one society to give way to the other, both sides pointed to objective moral standards. Southern preachers pounded the Bible and quoted verses about slaves obeying their masters; their Union counterparts preferred the bits about brotherhood and love.

    In the end, though, it wasn’t an external ruling about objective moral truth that decided the question. All those objectivists disagreed about the objective moral truth, so they hashed it out the way we always do: politics, economics, demographics, and coercion.

    In fact, we never seem to actually resolve disputes by just concentrating on the list of moral impulses we all supposedly share. Ultimately, we’re all subjectivists.

  78. 78
    Mark Frank says:

    LH

    You are doing a great job. It won’t make any difference to anyone’s views but it is nice to see the subjectivist position explained so well.

    A small thing.

    StephenB wrote:

    All rational humans do agree on basic moral principles, but they do not always admit it

    This implies a rational human being cannot be mistaken about a moral principle. Rational human beings can be mistaken about objective things: empirical facts, mathematical truths and even logical principles. Ironically it is only certain kinds of subjective statements such as “I am in pain” about which you cannot be mistaken. If moral statements really are objective statements then everyone, including StephenB, can get them wrong.

  79. 79
    Graham2 says:

    SB: So when we created the pre-1860?s cultural voice that accepted slavery, and when we later created the post 1860?s cultural voice that rejected slavery, we were right both times? That is a strange doctrine indeed.

    Exactly. Exactly. So where is objective morality ?

  80. 80
    Dionisio says:

    #30 velikovskys

    Is that your best answer to the given question?

    Check this out:

    #4 velikovskys wrote:

    An evil God would explain human history just as well

    #15 Dionisio asked:

    What do you mean by “evil“?

    #30 velikovskys responded:

    A god who uses evil to accomplish his goals, for instance the God of the gunmen of Paris. But probably any God would provide undeniable empirical evidence of His existence based on human experience and history

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I note for record, at this stage having noted the unresponsiveness to things that are as patent as that nothing denotes just that, no-thing or non-being, I have low expectations.

    John Locke in his 2nd essay on civil government, Ch 2 sect 5, drawing on “the judicious [anglican canon Richard] Hooker” in his Ecclesiastical polity . . . in turn rooted in both the Judaeo-Christian position and classical reflection in 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]

    Fairly clear, and not exactly difficult to recognise. Those who don’t see what fundamental equality and our own sense of worth do, are as a rule acting out of warping or benumbing. And when those they do care about are targetted, then the underlying perception typically comes out — often by way of seeking vengeance.

    Paul, in Rom 13, gives a good short look at the underlying Biblical tradition:

    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 [or, “harm”] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]

    Clear enough.

    KF

    PS: If someone challenges the ability of conscious, enconscienced mind to generally perceive morally even as we generally perceive with eyes or ears never mind cases where senses are warped, distorted, frustrated or fooled or cases where things are indistinct, this opens up the problem of implying general delusion. Being in correct-able error is one thing (that’s why there are reformation movements that appeal to underlying core principles), such general, Plato’s Cave delusion, self-refutingly another.

    PPS: G2, if there were not an underlying moral truth that had been culturally overshadowed, the reformation against slavery would not have had a leg to stand on. Other than, might and manipulation make ‘right.’ Which should give any sensible person serious pause.

  82. 82
    Mark Frank says:

    KF

    If someone challenges the ability of conscious, enconscienced mind to generally perceive morally even as we generally perceive with eyes or ears never mind cases where senses are warped, distorted, frustrated or fooled or cases where things are indistinct, this opens up the problem of implying general delusion.

    The epistemology of moral statements is interesting.  These statements which are epistemologically very different :

    A) “The sun is shining”. I believe that because I can see it or because I have reliable reports that others have or could see it.  KF seems to be saying moral statements belong in this category.

    B) “The third prime number is 5”. I believe that because I worked it out a priori from first principles. SB seems to suggest that the natural law falls into this category.

    C) “That hurts”.  As I said above this is incorrigible. I cannot be wrong about it (although I can lie, use the wrong word, or be unsure because it is a borderline case).

    D) “I accept your decision”. This is more of a commitment than a description of my internal state. It can be “wrong” in the sense that I may change my mind about the commitment.

    (This is not an exhaustive list)

    However, many statements are combinations of these. If I say something is threatening it is a bit of (A) and a bit of (C ) – maybe a touch of (D ) as well if it implies I will do something about it.

    I think that moral statements are a combination of all four – which is what is confusing. When I say it is wrong to publish cartoons of Mohammed (this is hypothetical – I don’t actually think this) the statement might include:

    * Observing facts about the consequences of the publication – people offended, potential violence etc

    * Noting that it follows from principles about not having the right to offend people unless they have done something wrong

    * Noting that I find it personally upsetting that people should do it

    * Committing myself to resisting it where the opportunity arises
     
    None of these have a priority because moral statements are embedded in a whole “form of life” (morality) which includes all these elements (and probably others). Because people are often (but far from always) consistent about the facts and principles (A and B) which cause them to react and commit (C and D) the language can play all these roles simultaneously.

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    MF,

    Pardon me but let’s get concrete — and unfortunately real-life:

    it is self-evidently harmful (not just painful), wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and murder a young child, and were you or I there at that aqueduct on that sad afternoon, it would have patently been our duty to succor, rescue or at least cry out for help

    This was a real world event, with material manifestations such as a missing child after school, a search and a shocking, grisly discovery leading to a campus reduced to shocked grief and eventually a funeral. To hint or suggest that this was all a Plato’s Cave shadow show is futile and incoherent.

    Just so, the moral sense outraged by this horrific event presents itself as a major aspect of our self-aware conscious, minded life. We perceive others as well as our selves to hold a vital, moral worth. And, this is not a side-show, this is a major part of life and conscious experience.

    Therefore, when I see something like this, from serious evolutionary materialist thinkers:

    The time has come to take seriously the fact [–> This is a gross error at the outset, as macro-evolution is a theory (an explanation) about the unobserved past of origins and so cannot be a fact on the level of the observed roundness of the earth or the orbiting of planets around the sun etc.] that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favored Creation of a Benevolent God on the Sixth Day . . . We must think again especially about our so-called ‘ethical principles.’ The question is not whether biology—specifically, our evolution—is connected with ethics, but how. As evolutionists, we see that no justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will … In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding… Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. Once it is grasped, everything falls into place.

    [[Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement, , ed. J. E. Hutchingson, Orlando, Fl.:Harcourt and Brace, 1991.]

    . . . I have strong reason to take it seriously that I am seeing deeply entrenched error that would put up the equally incoherent notion of a moral Plato’s Cave. Which cannot be firewalled, it is just as self-referentially incoherent and unstoppably undermining of rational mind as the epistemological one that would posit an ugly gulch between our perceptions and the outer world.

    Further to this, it is clear that Ruse and Wilson have correctly inferred that on evolutionary materialist premises, there is no grounding of any perception that we are objectively bound by ought. There is on such premises no basis for that.

    Thus, a further reason to regard such a worldview as fundamentally in error.

    I find there is much more and much better reason to accept that we are bound by ought, than that a speculative a priori reconstruction of the remote unobserved past of origins is correct. Especially, when such speculations already run into the direct implication of undermining responsible freedom, rationality and our ability to credibly know. As can in part be seen from Haldane’s observation:

    “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.]

    So, the balance of evidence leaves me highly confident that we are responsibly free, capable of reason and of credible knowledge, including of the perceived physical AND moral worlds.

    So, we face the point that the valid part of the IS-OUGHT gap highlighted by Hume etc takes us to the implication that there is a world-foundational IS that bears the weight of OUGHT.

    For that, after centuries of debate, there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being and the root of reality.

    Nothing else comes close to being able to justly bear the weight of OUGHT.

    And in that context, we are morally governed creatures stamped with the gift of responsible, minded, enconscienced freedom. We understand our individual quasi-infinite moral worth, and our fundamental equality which leads to the duty of mutual respect and support and to the proscription of harm to neighbour. With, the duty to reflect on import of what we say and do, that may help or harm neighbour . . . and especially literal or metaphorical children.

    Thence, we see the challenge aptly highlighted in a Christian context by the apostle Paul:

    Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. [ESV]

    KF

  84. 84
    Joe says:

    When you construct an argument that makes no sense, it could be that you simply don’t understand the perspective you’re trying to model.

    Enter evolutionism.

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    LH, Could you kindly explain to us in what wise your view differs materially from that outlined by Ruse and Wilson, as was cited and responded to in 86 just above? If it isn’t why should we not simply chalk it down to being a manifestation of a currently fashionable but gross error? And if it is, how is it materially different in ways that remove it from much the same or similar errors such as: might and manipulation make ‘right.’ KF

  86. 86
    Mark Frank says:

    #86 KF

    In extreme examples then almost everyone will immediately agree without reflection that something is evil (these are rarely cases about what is good). This proves nothing about the logical status of what they are saying. It is more informative to take strongly felt but debateable examples such abortion.

    I disagree with Ruse and Wilson. It is an annoying error made by many atheists/materialists whatever. We do not have an illusion of ethics. That would imply there is something which we had an illusion of. We have just learned to describe what we do when we are moral a bit more accurately. It is the same old activity.

  87. 87
    Joe says:

    In a materialistic world morality wouldn’t exist. That is because in a materialistic world intelligent agencies wouldn’t exist.

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, Some quick points:

    1 –> I chose a real world, patent case to underscore a main point, that there are some things that are so plainly wrong that those who would try to deny it or to distance themselves from it and where it soberingly points, expose themselves.

    2 –> I further highlighted that the perception that morality is in effect a subjective perception (perhaps socially reinforced) but without objective foundation, leads to the implication that a major aspect of self-aware minded conscious experience is delusional.

    3 –> Thence, the Plato’s Cave problem and collapse into incoherence.

    4 –> So, we have good reason instead to hold morality to be real and grounded in the root of reality.

    5 –> Now, I notice you say “We do not have an illusion of ethics. That would imply there is something which we had an illusion of . . . ,” which looks uncommonly like implicit denial of the reality and groundedness of OUGHT.

    6 –> In short, it looks rather like you have implied that Ruse and Wilson did not go far enough. If you don’t mean that, kindly explain.

    7 –> In the meanwhile, I cite here Provine in that well known 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day address:

    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 . . .

    8 –> That implies (as opposed to merely seems to be) a drastic undermining of responsible freedom, reason, warrant, knowledge and morality; claimed to be rooted in the evolutionary materialist view, duly dressed up in a lab coat.

    9 –> Likewise, Dawkins wrote as follows, In River out of Eden IIRC, and as was published in Sci Am:

    Somewhere between windscreen wipers and tin openers on the one hand, and rocks and the universe on the other, lie living creatures. Living bodies and their organs are objects that, unlike rocks, seem to have purpose written all over them . . . . The true process that has endowed wings, eyes, beaks, nesting instincts and everything else about life with the strong illusion of purposeful design is now well understood.

    It is Darwinian natural selection . . . . The true utility function of life, that which is being maximized in the natural world, is DNA survival. But DNA is not floating free; it is locked up in living bodies, and it has to make the most of the levers of power at its disposal. Genetic sequences that find themselves in cheetah bodies maximize their survival by causing those bodies to kill gazelles. Sequences that find themselves in gazelle bodies increase their chance of survival by promoting opposite ends. But the same utility function-the survival of DNA-explains the “purpose” of both the cheetah [–> i.e. predator] and the gazelle [–> i.e. prey] . . . .

    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.]

    10 –> Thus, it seems quite clear that evolutionary materialism dressed up in the lab coat ends up just where it has since the days when Plato warned against it in The Laws Bk X, that its adherents teach that the highest right is might.

    11 –> That is, in moral incoherence.

    All I say here, is that we have good reason instead to hold such a reductio ad absurdum, and conclude . . . never mind the lab coats . . . that evolutionary materialism is fundamentally flawed and incoherent, on reason, on responsible freedom, on morals.

    KF

    PS: I use the edit facility to add a pivotal scriptural note on being wise in one’s own eyes in the context of erecting a topsy-turvy distorted moral world:

    Isa 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight! [ESV]

  89. 89
    velikovskys says:

    Dionisio

    #30 velikovskys

    Is that your best answer to the given question?

    As I understood it, care to expand it?

    Check this out:

    #4 velikovskys wrote:

    An evil God would explain human history just as well

    #15 Dionisio asked:

    What do you mean by “evil“?

    #30 velikovskys responded:

    A god who uses evil to accomplish his goals, for instance the God of the gunmen of Paris. But probably any God would provide undeniable empirical evidence of His existence based on human experience and history

  90. 90
    Dionisio says:

    #92 velikovskys

    RE: #83

    You have not responded the question yet.

    Read the question again, carefully. Note it’s about the term ‘evil’ as you understand it. What does it mean to you?
    What does it really mean?

  91. 91
    Dionisio says:

    KF,

    Please, can you help me with posts #83 and #93?

    Are my questions clear or confusing? I’m willing to correct them if necessary.

    I will appreciate your comments on this.

    Thank you.

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    D, The remarks about God allegedly using evil is — probably intentionally — quite loaded; in multiple ways. Your asking VS to clarify in that context seems in order to me, and is clear enough for purpose. KF

    PS: The best definition of evil (following Augustine etc) IMO is a purpose based one: the frustration, privation, abuse, twisting or perversion of the good out of purpose or end (which may be naturally evident) . . . as a result, normally causing harm, chaos and destruction. Where, evil quite specifically is not the mirror-image or opposite of good even as darkness is not anti-light but the result of its mere absence, such that one small candle puts it to utter flight. So, for example to be free to swing one’s arms is one thing, but to swing one’s arms unprovoked to hit and harm others is not, it is abuse. And in a context of responsibly free creatures, justice may legitimately require protective or punitive action; in some cases up to deadly force (the police sniper shooting the gun-to-the-head hostage holder just before he squeezes the trigger and kills his victim is a classic illustration). More broadly VS et al need to pay close heed to the Plantinga Defense argument in reply to the argument from evil. (Cf. here for a 101 intro; note, this, in a Judaeo-Christian context, speaks to both the deductive and inductive forms. The existential/pastoral form, requires wise counselling not so much mere arguments.)

    PPS: This may also help.

  93. 93
    velikovskys says:

    Dioniosi
    You have not responded the question yet.

    Read the question again, carefully. Note it’s about the term ‘evil’ as you understand it. What does it mean to you?
    What does it really mean?

    Since you wrote it, I thought you would be a expert of what you meant.

    Since the context of my original response concerned what can one deduce empirally about the nature of a deity from human history, evil modified that nature. To be precise when it comes to gods an evil one is one who is not good.

    Care to ask another question or should we wait till KF explains what you meant ?

  94. 94
    Learned Hand says:

    KF @ 88:

    LH, Could you kindly explain to us in what wise your view differs materially from that outlined by Ruse and Wilson, as was cited and responded to in 86 just above?

    I have not read the source material, only your excerpt. From that, it sounds as if they’re focused on a step prior to the ones that interest me: where the desire to be moral comes from in the first place. I tend to believe it comes from a sociological pressure, in that communities (whether families or broader groups) intentionally and carefully socialize their own children. They seem to be saying something similar, but rooting it in biological evolution. I don’t know anything about the bases for that conclusion, but it sounds plausible. Certainly we see cooperative behavior in nonhuman organisms. I don’t know that it’s necessary to have a biological root, though; economic and cultural pressure seems sufficient to me to encourage parents to instill moral values in children. And we know that economic and cultural pressures have an enormous impact on how people perceive moral principles; children reared in slave-owning societies are a lot less likely to believe that slavery is wrong, for example.

    If it isn’t why should we not simply chalk it down to being a manifestation of a currently fashionable but gross error?

    I don’t understand your antecedents; what are you trying to chalk down as an error? My beliefs? You’re welcome to do so if you like. But you don’t seem to have a reason for doing so other than, “I really don’t like that opinion.”

    And if it is, how is it materially different in ways that remove it from much the same or similar errors such as: might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    Again, I’m assuming that what you’re asking is how my beliefs differ from “might makes right.” If so, please go back and re-read my comments; I know they’re long, but you’re hardly in a position to complain about that.

    Nothing I’ve written should suggest to you that I believe that might makes right. I don’t believe that one party’s moral principles are more valid than another’s because they have the power to enforce them; I judge different parties’ moral principles according to my own. I’ll do so regardless of the power balance.

    Might comes into play when two parties are unable to resolve a moral question without coercion. I’ll note simply that this is true for both objectivists and subjectivists. It doesn’t matter how clearly you see the principle that, for example, slavery is wrong. Sooner or later you’ll have to persuade your slaving neighbor that your principles are superior to his, and you’ll do so just as a subjectivist would, by arguing to his values and comparing and contrasting moral principles. If that fails, even the objectivist has to fall back on coercion to effect a change.

  95. 95
    kairosfocus says:

    LH: The child in the above case was in no position to overpower his assailant, and had no eloquence to persuade the assailant. Might did not make right in that case and the decades since have not made the murderer — never caught — one whit less guilty of evil. Really guilty, it’s not a matter of opinions and opinion A is not materially different from opinion B. KF

    PS: Notice, Ruse and Wilson c 1991 took an evolutionary materialist view, and deduced from it a reduction of morality to moral belief. That in turn reflects the pattern also seen in Provine’s remarks and Dawkins’ remarks. That lends force to the use of ‘right’ to denote perception as opposed to reality in saying that evolutionary materialism reduces to where it has since Plato in The Laws Bk X, might and manipulation make ‘right’ etc.

  96. 96
    velikovskys says:

    Kf:
    The remarks about God allegedly using evil is — probably intentionally — quite loaded; in multiple ways.

    If your God does not use evil to accomplish the Good then it does not relate to your interpretation of the nature of God. Even if it did the twin pillars of original sin/ fallen nature of man and free will insulate that God

    Your asking VS to clarify in that context seems in order to me, and is clear enough for purpose. KF

    I have, Barry found the concept of a Good God and original sin to be empirically demonstrated by a study of human history, my point was the God of the gunmen is Paris could be as well. Just depends on one’s subjective judgement of the objective. Facts can always be bent by belief

  97. 97
    hrun0815 says:

    KF writes:

    Might did not make right in that case and the decades since have not made the murderer — never caught — one whit less guilty of evil.

    LH wrote just about 30 minutes earlier:

    Nothing I’ve written should suggest to you that I believe that might makes right.

    and of course

    Might comes into play when two parties are unable to resolve a moral question without coercion. I’ll note simply that this is true for both objectivists and subjectivists.

  98. 98
    Learned Hand says:

    KF,

    H: The child in the above case was in no position to overpower his assailant, and had no eloquence to persuade the assailant. Might did not make right in that case and the decades since have not made the murderer — never caught — one whit less guilty of evil. Really guilty, it’s not a matter of opinions and opinion A is not materially different from opinion B. KF

    I’m not sure if you’re trying to make an argument here, or just dwelling on tragedy. No one would say that the assailant was right (other, perhaps, than the assailant). Once again, no one here takes the position that might makes right. I think you’re building a straw man.

  99. 99
    kairosfocus says:

    LH,

    Notice the divergent focus?

    You speak to opinions and a general consensus as in effect the court of last appeal; something that gives me serious concerns in an era where in living memory people like me were targets of widespread racial prejudice, and where today people like me in terms of worldview are increasingly targetted by a hostility verging on outright bigotry: ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked in one notorious phrasing.

    By utter contrast — by using a concrete case (which you seem to want to brush aside) — I have pointed out not opinion but the force of ought and what is implied in in effect implying that the voice of conscience and the linked reasoning on moral principle and the value of even a child, are effectively illusion. That is, we are not in fact under any transcendent weight of ought.

    Namely, we inject a Plato’s Cave world on a major facet of self-aware mindedness. Where, there are no firewalls on the mind. So any scheme of thought that implies general delusion on a main aspect of mind thereby self refutes.

    So, no, I am not playing on the emotions of a family still mourning a loss, but instead I point to the pivotal issue where the testimony of conscience and the moral sense in general is plain. One, where attempts to appeal to what is preferred or is socialised or is a consensus backed by force of courts and police etc will fail.

    Our sense is, we are under government of ought.

    This is a real, specific case.

    Now, substitute that ought is opinion or consensus etc or even an evolutionarily in-stamped illusion, and see where it ends.

    KF

  100. 100
    niwrad says:

    velikovskys #4

    “An evil God would explain human history just as well.”

    Your “evil God” is non-sense.
    God fully transcends creation. Evil and good are attributes you find in creation. As such they cannot pertain to what transcends creation. In other words, in general, attributes of a reality cannot be applied to a meta-reality. Example, your tv set displays a film representing evil actions. You cannot attribute to the tv set the evil actions of the film, because the tv set is a meta-reality compared to the reality of the film. Analogously, you cannot speak of “evil God” causa you see evil in the world.

  101. 101
    kairosfocus says:

    HR,

    there is such a thing as a deflective assertion.

    If LH adheres to evolutionary materialism or fellow traveller views, he needs to answer to the IS-OUGHT gap on those premises of premises compatible therewith.

    I am confident that a world founded on matter, energy, space time and blind interactions has in it no root level IS that bears the weight of ought, forcing relativisation at personal, social or cultural level. Which, entails — like it or not — that cumulatively, might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    Which, BTW is precisely what several spokesmen for such views have stated, as I took time to highlight.

    So, it is not a mere matter of KF vs LH.

    Indeed, in The Laws, Bk X, 2350 years ago, this is what Plato warned — in the broad context of grounding justice as the basis of sound law:

    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.] 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], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse], and not in legal subjection to them.

    There is a worldview level issue to be faced, one that cannot be brushed aside by making a deflective assertion.

    KF

  102. 102
    Learned Hand says:

    KF,

    Notice the divergent focus? You speak to opinions and a general consensus as in effect the court of last appeal; something that gives me serious concerns [martyrdom narrative omitted – ed.].

    Once again, this is not something that I have said. This is a position you have invented for me. Responding to what you expect me to say may make the conversation easier for you to navigate, but it prevents you from hearing what I am actually saying. And the gulf between what you expect me to say and my actual position is rather large.

    I have not identified “a general consensus” as a “court of last appeal,” except perhaps in the literal sense; a temporal justice system is going to use consensus rules to administer codes of behavior.

    As a moral matter, the consensus is not the “last appeal.” I suppose I would say that each man’s ultimate appeal is to his own moral compass, as we see in cases of civil disobedience.

    You could say that leaves “opinions” as a last appeal, I suppose, but given that people disagree over the contents of objective moral law I think that’s true for everyone. Setting aside the solipsistic position that no one actually holds opinions other than your own, whatever someone believes is moral is going to determine how they judge their actions, and those of others. People are willing to give everything for causes and principles you and I find abhorrent, for example.

    By utter contrast — by using a concrete case (which you seem to want to brush aside) — I have pointed out not opinion but the force of ought and what is implied in in effect implying that the voice of conscience and the linked reasoning on moral principle and the value of even a child, are effectively illusion. That is, we are not in fact under any transcendent weight of ought.
    Namely, we inject a Plato’s Cave world on a major facet of self-aware mindedness. Where, there are no firewalls on the mind. So any scheme of thought that implies general delusion on a main aspect of mind thereby self refutes.

    I’ve read this passage several times now. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. I can’t trace a thought through these paragraphs. I assume the problem is with my comprehension. Perhaps you could reword it?

    So, no, I am not playing on the emotions of a family still mourning a loss, but instead I point to the pivotal issue where the testimony of conscience and the moral sense in general is plain. One, where attempts to appeal to what is preferred or is socialised or is a consensus backed by force of courts and police etc will fail.

    If what you mean is that our reaction to your story is not necessarily predicated on socialization or consensus, then I agree. Stories that shock the conscience often, in my experience, are rooted in a sense of sympathy for victims or the powerless. I believe that sympathy or empathy are rooted in that sense I alluded to earlier; very few people care only about themselves. Almost all of us value people who aren’t us. I couldn’t say why; or at least, I could only offer casual hypotheses.

    As I’ve said above, is that objective moral law? The sense that people other than ourselves have value like our own? Maybe we could be close to a point of agreement, then! I certainly think that’s a sensation we (almost) all share.

    Now, substitute that ought is opinion or consensus etc or even an evolutionarily in-stamped illusion, and see where it ends.

    Well, it ends where we are. Whether or not an objective moral law exists, we operate in a subjective world in which people actually do disagree about fundamental moral principles. Those disagreements reflect differences in opinion, and are resolved (in the material world, at least) through consensus or coercion.

    Is there another way? Might we resolve moral disputes, such as whether it’s proper to publicly mock religion, by sitting together quietly and meditating on objective moral law, without recourse to consensus-building or coercion? It might be an interesting experiment. But I’d wager on its failure.

  103. 103
    Learned Hand says:

    If LH adheres to evolutionary materialism or fellow traveller views, he needs to answer to the IS-OUGHT gap on those premises of premises compatible therewith. I am confident that a world founded on matter, energy, space time and blind interactions has in it no root level IS that bears the weight of ought, forcing relativisation at personal, social or cultural level. Which, entails — like it or not — that cumulatively, might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    I’m not sure whether you’re accurately perceiving the “materialist” position. I don’t think anyone claims that the natural, physical world provides a moral “ought.” I think our minds do. Minds disagree, and we hash out those differences.

    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….

    I do not believe that might makes right. I cannot reduce that statement further; if you aren’t understanding me, I don’t know how to fix our communication. Perhaps repetition will succeed where elaboration has failed:

    I do not believe that might makes right.

    I do not believe that might makes right.

    I do not believe that might makes right.

    Nor am I aware of anyone who does.

  104. 104
    hrun0815 says:

    I do not believe that might makes right. I cannot reduce that statement further; if you aren’t understanding me, I don’t know how to fix our communication. Perhaps repetition will succeed where elaboration has failed:

    I do not believe that might makes right.

    I do not believe that might makes right.

    I do not believe that might makes right.

    Nor am I aware of anyone who does.

    and

    Once again, this is not something that I have said. This is a position you have invented for me.

    I guess that’s the beauty of being KF or BA or some others that argue along similar lines: According to your worldview you HAVE to believe that ‘might makes right’. If you do not believe it then you are wrong! Or, you are deluded and actually are a moral objectivist. Or it shows that this line of thought leads to patent absurdity.

    So no matter what you say, no matter how clear you are, how eloquent, there is no way you will be able to convince KF that two things are true at the same time: ‘you do not believe that might makes right’ and ‘you believe that morality is subjective’.

    I have to say that seeing this pattern repeated ad nauseam here has been eye opening to me. It makes it far easier for me to understand, for example, why atheists (and scientists/intellectuals who are generally considered atheists) are so despised by a significant group of the population.

  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    LH:

    Please.

    Note:

    KF: Notice the divergent focus? You speak to opinions and a general consensus as in effect the court of last appeal; something that gives me serious concerns [martyrdom narrative omitted – ed.].

    LH: Once again, this is not something that I have said. This is a position you have invented for me. Responding to what you expect me to say may make the conversation easier for you to navigate, but it prevents you from hearing what I am actually saying. And the gulf between what you expect me to say and my actual position is rather large.

    vs:

    KF: The child in the above case was in no position to overpower his assailant, and had no eloquence to persuade the assailant. Might did not make right in that case and the decades since have not made the murderer — never caught — one whit less guilty of evil. Really guilty, it’s not a matter of opinions and opinion A is not materially different from opinion B. KF

    LH: I’m not sure if you’re trying to make an argument here, or just dwelling on tragedy. No one would say that the assailant was right (other, perhaps, than the assailant). Once again, no one here takes the position that might makes right. I think you’re building a straw man.

    See my point on your appeal to views and consensus, thus relativism by import of context?

    Note, too, that I have not accused you of outright saying might makes right. I have taken time to point out the worldview level implications of evolutionary materialism and thus fellow-traveller views designed to be compatible therewith, which lead to might and manipulation making ‘right’ — a significant difference.

    Nor am I making up a strawman materialist.

    I took time to cite the explicit views of significant adherents over the past 30 or so years, in addition to pointing out the longstanding remark by Plato. This was a problem that was quite evident 2350 years ago that has not gone away simply because it’s now dressed in a lab coat. Not to mention, drawing out the implications of the IS-OUGHT gap for materialists. Which is not even seriously controversial, many materialists, convinced of evolutionary materialism as Science and Fact, try to make the best of it.

    My point is, the whole lot crashes of its own weight once we see that it is injecting general delusion into mindedness on morality. Much as it does on general reasoning.

    I put this bit up as the slice of the cake with the ingredients in it.

    At this stage, really for the onlooker.

    KF

  106. 106
    Learned Hand says:

    KF,

    See my point on your appeal to views and consensus, thus relativism by import of context?

    No. Are you suggesting that in the bolded text, I was arguing that the consensus determines whether the assailant was moral? That was not my intent. What I meant was merely what I wrote, as you can see from the next sentence in the excerpt. Even though the assailant was mightier, virtually no one would think he was acting morally. It’s a test to demonstrate that this “might makes right” position you’re all hot about is a straw man.

    Note, too, that I have not accused you of outright saying might makes right. I have taken time to point out the worldview level implications of evolutionary materialism and thus fellow-traveller views designed to be compatible therewith, which lead to might and manipulation making ‘right’ — a significant difference.

    Once again, I’m at sea. I don’t see any argument as to how we’re going to end up at “might makes right” (hereinafter MMR, because I subjectively feel acronyms are right and proper). No one believes MMR. No one wants their neighbors to believe MMR. No one wants to end up at MMR. How do you propose we’re going to get from here, where MMR isn’t a thing, to there?

    Please don’t drop in a giant paste of Plato with snide parentheticals. It truly does not make your writing, or thinking, easier to comprehend. We are having a communication problem already. I would be grateful if, in responding, you would make a concerted effort to be as clear and as concise as possible. We can certainly elaborate later, but lets communicate the basics first.

    My point is, the whole lot crashes of its own weight once we see that it is injecting general delusion into mindedness on morality.

    Where? Where does it crash down? Right here, in the real world, we operate subjectively. Our laws aren’t based on objective moral truths, but rather on consensus. That consensus is fuzzy around the edges, and sometimes at the core–see, for example, arguments about whether abortion, gay marriage, PA suicide, gun ownership, anonymous campaign donations, and other morally-fraught actions should be permitted.

    We argue, debate, and sometimes coerce. We do it with the tools of subjectivity, rather than through a hivemind that believes in just one set of moral principles. And yet, we have not been reduced to Mad Max-style cannibalism. Our society remains pre-apocalyptic.

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    LH, at this point I am writing more for the onlooker than you, apart from some slender hope you will respond. You transferred a discussion about binding obligation and by implication fundamental rights and worth (with kidnapping, indecent sexual assault and murder explicitly in play on a real world case of utter violation and evil) into disputes on opinions and consensus. Then, now that I have highlighted one key point where you did so, you wish to brush it aside; indeed, you repeat the transfer, showing a key gap and characteristic, diagnostic sign in your worldview. Duly noted, along with the want of an IS that properly grounds OUGHT on evolutionary materialist and/or fellow traveller premises. KF

  108. 108
    hrun0815 says:

    LH, sadly, I told you so. KF knows what he knows. No matter what you say. There isn’t even, I believe, the possibility of him registering what you say, so even were it possibly to truly understand his posts it would help much in actually having a dialogue.

  109. 109
    Cross says:

    Learned Hand @ 106

    “I’m not sure whether you’re accurately perceiving the “materialist” position. I don’t think anyone claims that the natural, physical world provides a moral “ought.” I think our minds do. Minds disagree, and we hash out those differences.”

    If by minds you mean brains that have evolved over millions of years of RV + NS( NS including in part Might makes right), whose thoughts involve random firing of neurons, I would be surprised if there wasn’t disagreements.

    What I find interesting is that we almost universally agree rape is wrong. Why? How does your materialist view account for this since the spreading of your genes would have been a good evolutionary thing in the past?

  110. 110
    Zachriel says:

    Cross: What I find interesting is that we almost universally agree rape is wrong.

    Where did you get that idea? Killing the men and taking the women is an age-old tradition.

  111. 111
    Cross says:

    Zachriel @ 113

    The question was not about tradition or what people do.

    The question is do you think rape is wrong and how does the materialistic worldview account for the fact that almost everyone does?

    Would you have a go at answering the question?

  112. 112
    hrun0815 says:

    The question is do you think rape is wrong and how does the materialistic worldview account for the fact that almost everyone does?

    This is so utterly bizarre. You are replying to posts from somebody who spent probably hours in this thread explaining how people who do not believe in the existence of objective morality account for the fact that certain actions are considered morally evil by almost everyone.

    Yet, it appears that somehow for you (as well as for KF) this is somehow an intractable puzzle. I would suggest you read through the posts by Learned Hand again. The answers are there.

  113. 113
    Learned Hand says:

    KF,

    You transferred a discussion about binding obligation and by implication fundamental rights and worth … into disputes on opinions and consensus. [Gratuitous dwelling on nastiness omitted – ed.]

    I don’t know what this means. I truly don’t. I transferred a discussion about binding obligations into a dispute about opinions? What? When was the discussion about binding obligations, can you cite a comment number? Good lord, the “dispute” on consensus is, as I recall, that you took the position I was calling consensus the appeal of last resort, and I objected that you’d misrepresented my position. Am I wrong? Is there some other “dispute on … consensus” I missed?

    Then, now that I have highlighted one key point where you did so, you wish to brush it aside; indeed, you repeat the transfer, showing a key gap and characteristic, diagnostic sign in your worldview.

    I don’t know what this means, either. What key point? What key gap? What “dogmatic sign”? I can’t read your thoughts, and your writing is extremely opaque.

    I’d love to have a conversation with you. This isn’t a conversation; you’re lecturing me about things you believe I said but that don’t sound at all familiar to me.

    If you’re inclined to respond, please—as I said above—make a concerted effort to write clearly. You have an extremely roundabout style, and when you start lecturing on your familiar talking points (Plato, your impending martyrdom, fishing reels, the imminent descent of the world into chaos if people don’t start listening to you, etc.) you become nearly incomprehensible.

  114. 114
    Learned Hand says:

    Hrun,

    I think you’re right; this is not a dialogue between two people so much as KF lecturing the materialist in his head. That must be a very satisfying conversation for him, albeit quite sterile.

  115. 115
    Learned Hand says:

    Cross,

    What I find interesting is that we almost universally agree rape is wrong. Why?

    As Zachriel pointed out, this is assuming something that’s probably not true. See the Biblical examples of rape cited above; not only did the perpetrators (probably) feel they were justified, there are some people today who would defend such actions as justified by divine command. I think that’s probably a fairly small number of people, but I don’t have any reason to think their beliefs aren’t sincere.

    Even in the secular world there are examples of people feeling justified in committing rape. For a long, long time it was legally impossible for a man to rape his wife. It’s called the “marital rape” doctrine, and it was on the books in some states within living memory. The theory was that a woman who consented to marriage was consenting in perpetuity to sex, so could not refuse sex to her husband. Again, while it’s probably a relatively small number, there are people today who believe this doctrine is right and proper and should still be the law.

    Having said all that, I’d agree that the great majority of us believe rape is wrong. I think that is the result of acculturation and social pressure; greater prosperity, literacy, and political representation have shifted the consensus view away from the idea that women are chattel to the notion that they are people entitled to our general solicitous towards human rights.

    The idea that “spreading of your genes would have been a good evolutionary thing in the past” is the sort of thing that real people don’t take into consideration—this is another strawman. What is “a good evolutionary thing”? Something that disseminates my genes? Why on earth should I care? If that mattered to me I’d be donating at the sperm bank every day.

    I’m a human being with a mind, not a dog in heat. The “is” of what spreads my genes is not the source of, nor particularly connected to, my notions of “ought.”

  116. 116
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    It [materialism] doesn’t need to [provide intellectual justification for itself]. The fact that we care about the well being of our neighbors is enough in and of itself. Whether or not some external force explains why we should care, we do, and we construct standards of conduct accordingly.

    Materialists can say that they care about the well being of their neighbors, but my experience has been that they consistently, and to a person, support the killing of unborn children. This appears to be your position as well. So, I question your claim that you think all persons should be valued and treated with respect.

    SB: As a subjectivist, you cannot make the case for why anyone has value or should be valued by others or why they should not be given over to chattel slavery.

    Another bald declaration of what I can and can’t say. Please try to mark a distinction between me and you. Only one of us is StephenB, and that’s the only person whose mind you truly know.

    You appear to be evading the challenge. In spite of your claim that people should be valued and treated with respect, you cannot explain why it should be so. All you can say is that you would prefer that they be treated with respect (unless, of course, they are unborn children, for which you make a curious exception).

    I suspect I value others because I was raised to do so, and that I was raised to do so because my parents were raised to do so, and on and on.

    Yes, I think you value others (except unborn children) because you were raised to do so. And so it is with suicide terrorists. They believe they should fly airplanes into buildings because they were “raised to do so.” Does that sound like a good reason for believing in something?

    SB: Well, there is no way around the fact that each side in this debate must, at some point, imply that the other is being disingenuous. When, for example, I tell you that I can apprehend as a self-evident truth the legitimacy of the natural moral law the same way that I can grasp the mathematical truth that 1 + 1 = 2, you imply that I am not really apprehending it at all.

    Once again, you’re speaking for me; I think I do that job better than you. I don’t believe you’re being disingenuous. I think you honestly believe that your moral principles are deep and everlasting and objective.

    You are misrepresenting my position. I didn’t say that I believe in the natural moral law, or that I believe it is true. I said I can “apprehend it.” That is a much stronger claim. To apprehend is to know or understand. You don’t believe me when I say that I know the natural moral law exists and I don’t believe you when you say that you don’t. So, each of us thinks that the other is being disingenuous. It is not just me.

    I’d appreciate it if you could list those self-evident moral truths, and explain why opinions on them have drifted and changed throughout human history; while one doesn’t need to demonstrate a self-evident truth, I think they typically have consequences that can be demonstrated.

    Murder is self-evidently wrong. Adultery is self-evidently wrong. That doesn’t change. Everyone has always known it insofar as their moral conscience has not been compromised by their own bad behavior or by evil influences from the outside. The fact that some cultures may accept murder (ISIS, for example) shows that people can be brainwashed and abused by their leaders. The human conscience can be deadened and a psychologically abused person can be turned into a psychotic suicide bomber. In other words, evil leaders and teachers can persuade the average person to ignore the promptings of his inate conscience in order to survive. So it is with the problem of slavery, or racial discrimination, or sexual morality, or any other moral challenge. Cultures, like people, can be good or evil. Materialists either don’t understand this fact or refuse to accept it.

    In fact, you suggested earlier that we could determine self-evident truths by watching for the negative consequences when they’re broken. Where are those consequences? What are the consequences to permitting abortion, or gay marriage, or public blasphemy?

    Every culture that has accepted these values has perished.
    SB: No one who understands the natural moral law will have any difficulty answering any or of all those questions. I will be happy to take them up one at a time. Just let me know which one you would care to discuss.

    The point, if you’ll recall, was that different staunch objectivists would have different answers to a question like, “Is it permissible to abort a child to save the life of the mother?

    No one who understands the meaning of the word “abortion” or the meaning of the natural moral law will have any difficulty answering that question or any related question. An abortion is the purposeful killing of an innocent unborn child. A medical intervention to save a mother’s life is not conducted for the purpose of killing the child. If the child dies as an incidental result of the intervention, then it is not an abortion. No “objectivist” who understands the issue will disagree with me.

    ” Law school is full of stacked hypos like that; what if the child will be stillborn anyway? What if it would only survive a day? The answers are important, but so is the fact that the answers are different to different people. No matter how much you insist that we all secretly agree with you, the fact is that divisive questions divide people. Different people, even different people who pray and believe more or less like you, will have different answers.

    Please provide evidence that anyone who is familiar with the natural moral law cannot answer these questions (I just answered one and can answer others) or would disagree with my answer.

    Law schools have largely been corrupted because they no longer teach the natural moral law. Again, evil leaders can corrupt young skulls full of mush. That is why cultural mores change for the worse.

    You’ll have noticed that my moral notions don’t resolve down into a neat set of logical principles.

    Indeed, I have. I would go one step further and say that they are not consistent with logical principles at all.

    I value them for the reasons I set forth above; insofar as I understand my own reasons, that is. I prefer my values over others because they are mine. This is something that I think you honestly don’t understand: I feel quite free to prefer my moral beliefs over those of others.

    If I didn’t understand your position, I would not have previously expressed it in exactly the same way you just did. You prefer your values over others because they are yours—not because they can be rationally justified. That is what I have been saying all along.

    Being a subjectivist means that I acknowledge that Osama bin Laden honestly believed he had the moral right to murder me, and that I don’t have an objective standard to point to and prove that he was wrong. But that doesn’t mean I can’t point and say that he was wrong. I’m using my own standards, just (according to me, anyway) as everyone else ultimately has to do.

    Yes, that is your position. Suicide bombing is right for the suicide bomber and wrong for you. Abortion is right for you and wrong for me. Insider trading is right for the thief and wrong for you. How on earth do you suppose a society could build civil laws based on that kind of nonsense? Whose values are to inform the rules?

    You might say that majority rules, but then you must accept the fact that the majority once supported slavery. So you will contradict yourself and say that your personal values are different and should be the ones that inform public policy, except that you just said that the majority should settle the issue. Or, you may say, as you said earlier, than you take your values “from” the culture, which means that you will agree with those values in either case. So, when the culture supports slavery, you support slavery; when the culture supports freedom, you support freedom.

    SB: Why do people deserve to be free? Why shouldn’t someone who values power be permitted to make slaves of them?

    My answer is that freedom is a good thing that belongs to all people. Neither of us can reduce our notions down much further than that, I think. The primary difference between us seems to be that I accept that other people can honestly disagree with me. I can say their beliefs are wrong, but I wouldn’t feel compelled to call them dishonest or insincere.

    Yes, I understand.

    You think people should be free because you think freedom is a good thing, but you don’t know why it is a good thing—you just believe it.

    I think they people should be free because they are all created equal and because they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (and natural) rights, which include life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Under those circumstances, they deserve to be free.

    Which of those arguments do you think is more reasonable and more likely to persuade the average person? Be honest.

  117. 117
    hrun0815 says:

    Which of those arguments do you think is the most reasonable and more likely to persuade the average person? Be honest.

    And there you have the whole thing summarized in a nutshell. Actually it’s two delusions.

    The first is the thought that appealing to your belief about what a creator may or may not have endowed people with has any more sway with anyone over, let’s say, appealing to your own beliefs or maybe to the belief of some random guy down the road.

    The second is that for some odd reason the fact that it might be a more persuasive argument has any bearing on the fact of weather it is actually correct.

    There is so much other nonsense in the post that it is hard to chose. Let’s just take this one for example:

    Yes, that is your position. Suicide bombing is right for the suicide bomber and wrong for you. Abortion is right for you and wrong for me. Insider trading is right for the thief and wrong for you. How on earth do you suppose a society could build civil laws based on that kind of nonsense?

    The way you build societies on this is that you have secular governments with man-made laws, man-made enforcement of the laws, and man-made punishment if laws are not followed. There are countless societies that function like this just fine.

    Take the US: Suicide bombing is outlawed and virtually all people agree that it is immoral. Insider-trading is also outlawed, yet there are some people that do not think it is immoral. Abortion is not outlawed and there is (if I remember correctly) about a fifty:fifty split on the morality of abortion.

    Or did I just not understand your question. When you asked about ‘civil laws’ did you actually mean ‘laws StephenB agrees with’?

  118. 118
    Cross says:

    hrun0815 @ 115

    I have read LH’s posts and appreciate his or her efforts. I just don’t think the fundamental questions are addressed.

    LH stated “I’m not sure whether you’re accurately perceiving the “materialist” position. I don’t think anyone claims that the natural, physical world provides a moral “ought.” I think our minds do. Minds disagree, and we hash out those differences.”

    I would agree that the physical provides no moral “ought”. But the answer given is that “minds do”.

    I am after clarification of how minds do. My view of what constitutes a “mind” is not a materialistic one. Please explain how a materialists view of “mind” ie evolved physical brain can account for a moral ought.

  119. 119
    hrun0815 says:

    Cross, if your question is really about clarifying how minds provide a moral “ought” why then would you ask:

    The question is do you think rape is wrong and how does the materialistic worldview account for the fact that almost everyone does?

  120. 120
    velikovskys says:

    niwrad:

    Your “evil God” is non-sense.

    It is not my god.

    God fully transcends creation. Evil and good are attributes you find in creation. As such they cannot pertain to what transcends creation.

    So it could be just as true to say God was evil as to say God was good? That is my point, I appears we agree

    In other words, in general, attributes of a reality cannot be applied to a meta-reality.

    Interesting

    Example, your tv set displays a film representing evil actions. You cannot attribute to the tv set the evil actions of the film, because the tv set is a meta-reality compared to the reality of the film.

    Might want find a better example, by your definition the film is a meta reality as well

    Analogously, you cannot speak of “evil God” causa you see evil in the world.

    Then logically you cannot speak of a ” good God” because of good you see in the world, which is kinda my point. The concept of God explains everything and nothing. To use your meta reality theory ,it is man who creates the concepts of good or evil ,God merely reflects it back.

    But while your argument supports my position , it would relegate God to a non interactive force, is that your position as well or am I misunderstanding your view?

  121. 121
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    See the Biblical examples of rape cited above; not only did the perpetrators (probably) feel they were justified,

    This is at least the third time that you have made this claim. I ask for evidence that any Biblical character was commanded to rape someome or that any such person felt that he (they) were justified to commit such an act.

  122. 122
    StephenB says:

    hrun0815

    The way you build societies on this is that you have secular governments with man-made laws, man-made enforcement of the laws, and man-made punishment if laws are not followed. There are countless societies that function like this just fine.

    You have not addressed the issue at all. The question is this: Which principles do you use to inform those civil laws? On what basis do you determine which laws are fair and just. According to your answer, whatever the secular government comes up with is just fine. If that government decides to enslave blacks, no problem. If that same government changes its collective mind and decides to free blacks, that’s just fine. If that same government decides to revert to slavery, that is just fine. Is that your position? If not, then what is your point. You have presented no argument except to say that a secular government should be able to pass any law that it pleases. That is not a rational position.

  123. 123
    hrun0815 says:

    If the question is:

    You have not addressed the issue at all. The question is this: Which principles do you use to inform those civil laws? On what basis do you determine which laws are fair and just.

    why then would you ask

    wrong for you. How on earth do you suppose a society could build civil laws based on that kind of nonsense?

    next

    If that government decides to enslave blacks, no problem. […]

    Maybe for some. However since this eos strongly go against my morals and the vast majority of others as well this would not happen. And if it did after all I might work as well as I can to enact change.

    How about a counter question: What if that government decided that adultery was legal? What if that government decided abortion was legal? What if that government decided gay marriage was legal? Is it your position then that the secular government in the US not able to pass any law it pleases?

  124. 124
    Learned Hand says:

    StephenB,

    Quoting me, you wrote, It [materialism] doesn’t need to [provide intellectual justification for itself].

    Typically brackets should preserve the original writer’s intent (or be used for snarky effect). I don’t think this accurately represents what I wrote. I said that materialism doesn’t need to “explain why we should live at peace with our neighbors or why they should be valued.” It may be true, and may be intellectually justified, without being able to explain that. As I wrote, the fact that we do in fact care for our neighbors is a sufficient observation to support the existence of functional relative morals.

    Materialists can say that they care about the well being of their neighbors, but my experience has been that they consistently, and to a person, support the killing of unborn children. This appears to be your position as well. So, I question your claim that you think all persons should be valued and treated with respect.

    This obviously depends on your definition of “person.” I don’t feel that a non-viable fetus is a person. We can discuss it if you like, as we all must do in order to resolve moral quandaries in this world, but I’d suggest this is not the place. I would like to observe, though, that as you use loaded words to try to persuade me that my beliefs are wrong, you are operating exactly as a moral relativist would: “You have this belief that killing children is wrong, you should see fetuses as children, you should change your mind and agree with me.” As I’ve said, we all live in a relativist world.

    In spite of your claim that people should be valued and treated with respect, you cannot explain why it should be so.

    Not really, no. Other relativists may be more articulate or able to explain it, but I can’t—at least not simply. I can merely observe that I do value other human beings, as does every other human being I’ve ever met. That’s sufficient to permit us to live as neighbors and to largely agree on moral principles. Once again, is that virtually unanimous position—that other people have value—all that objective morality is? I think we might be close to an agreement on that point.

    Let me also observe that being an objectivist doesn’t give you a solid logical foundation for being good. Why would you prefer good to evil? Even if there’s an objective standard dividing the two, why choose one over the other? Euthyphro, obviously, but also a hole in the logical foundation. Just a matter of preferences, you might say.

    Yes, I think you value others (except unborn children) because you were raised to do so. And so it is with suicide terrorists. They believe they should fly airplanes into buildings because they were “raised to do so.” Does that sound like a good reason for believing in something?

    Good or bad, they believe it. If I want to persuade them to change their minds, telling them they’re objectively wrong because they’re objectively wrong, and they should know it because they’re objectively wrong so obviously they already agree with me, is probably not going to work.

    Rather, I’d have to identify some values we share—there is worth in human life, especially innocent life—and try to use that as a lever to change their behavior. It might not work! But it’s the only persuasive tool we really have, short of coercion. And that’s the same for objectivists and relativists. Rather like we live in a relativist world, isn’t it?

    You are misrepresenting my position. I didn’t say that I believe in the natural moral law, or that I believe it is true. I said I can “apprehend it.” That is a much stronger claim. To apprehend is to know or understand.

    Alright. Other people feel just as strongly that other moral positions are true, and are willing to sacrifice everything for those positions. What you apprehend is ultimately a subjective, not objective, sensation: it’s you who are apprehending it.

    You don’t believe me when I say that I know the natural moral law exists and I don’t believe you when you say that you don’t. So, each of us thinks that the other is being disingenuous. It is not just me.

    I don’t think you’re being disingenuous. I think you quite sincerely believe everything you’re saying. I think, though, that this convenient step between “I apprehend it” and “I believe it” is not a genuine distinction. You say you grasp ultimate moral truth the same way you grasp “that 1 + 1 = 2.” But people are mistaken about math problems all the time; ultimately, it’s a subjective belief.

    In other words, I think you’re taking a subjective feeling and putting it on a pedestal: this is sacred and cannot be questioned or erroneous. I think you’re sincere about it. But I think you’re mistaken.

    Many people feel as you do. I think it must get awkward when they change their mind about a question of moral principle.

    Every culture that has accepted these values has perished.

    Every culture has perished, except the ones still around–cultures change, so eventually they all die out. In the modern era, cultures that have accepted family planning and gay marriage are doing pretty well. We tend to be freer, safer, more prosperous, and healthier than cultures that don’t. I guess we can wait a generation and see if we all die in fire; I doubt we will.

    (By the way, are non-abortifacient birth control methods objectively immoral?)

    No one who understands the meaning of the word “abortion” or the meaning of the natural moral law will have any difficulty answering that question or any related question.

    And yet, empirically they do. Sincere, devout, fiery believers disagree about, for example, whether abortion is permitted when the life of the mother is in jeopardy, or the fetus is anencephalic. Sure, maybe they’re all lying. All of them. Every one who disagrees with you, secretly stewing in a pit of deceit and madness—committing the loathsome moral perversion of pretending that StephenB is wrong. The beasts!

    Please provide evidence that anyone who is familiar with the natural moral law cannot answer these questions (I just answered one and can answer others) or would disagree with my answer.

    Isn’t everyone familiar with the natural moral law? I thought that was the point: we all secretly agree with you about what that law and how we should govern ourselves accordingly. So isn’t anyone who disagrees with you evidence?

    Perhaps, instead of “familiar with the natural moral law,’ you meant, “honestly admits their knowledge of the natural moral law” (otherwise known as agreeing with StephenB). But that’s just a No True Scotsmen argument. You’d be asking for proof that anyone who is honest about natural law disagrees with you, but by definition anyone who disagrees with you isn’t honest about natural law. And salts their porridge. The beasts!

    Yes, that is your position. Suicide bombing is right for the suicide bomber and wrong for you.

    Your formulation is a bit unclear, because it doesn’t specify the antecedent. Suicide bombing is right from the suicide bomber’s perspective. That’s inarguable, I think, for anyone who doesn’t assume that every human shares their own moral beliefs.

    How on earth do you suppose a society could build civil laws based on that kind of nonsense? Whose values are to inform the rules?

    Open your window and look around—that society. The one you live in. Our society assumes that people will take actions that the actor believes is justified, but society as a whole rejects. We have whole bodies of law dedicated to this problem, and have since before the colonization of the United States.

    Our values inform the rules. Yours and mine, even where they differ. We gather together (via proxy, most of the time) and set the rules through politics, a mixture of persuasion and coercion. Not by meditating in unison on the moral law, or checking with one another to make sure we’re still honest about our agreement with StephenB.

    The suicide bomber may believe sincerely that his actions are right, but his beliefs aren’t privileged above those of his victims or the political consensus. If he’s caught in time, he can be tried for violating the behavioral codes we all set for ourselves, or were set for us by our predecessors. He doesn’t need to agree that his punishment is just.

    That doesn’t make the consensus the ultimate arbiter. Consider civil disobedience. MLK was punished by the law, but that doesn’t make his actions immoral. He gets to decide for himself whether his actions were right, and we get to judge both his actions and his moral principles. If we find them superior to our own—if they do a better job of empowering shared values, or inspire us, or reveal our hypocrisy, or simply become entrenched in our communities—then they begin to spread and convert. Once again, moral objectivism is belied by the plasticity of actual morals.

    You might say that majority rules, but then you must accept the fact that the majority once supported slavery. So you will contradict yourself and say that your personal values are different and should be the ones that inform public policy, except that you just said that the majority should settle the issue.

    Do you mean that I would say the majority rules in that it determines our morality for us? Obviously I would not say that. I think you mean, therefore, that the majority once permitted the act of slavery. I think this reveals a very interesting misunderstanding. The majority (usually) will decide the issue, when it comes to the temporal decision of what acts to permit. The majority does not decide the issue of what people should believe. It doesn’t have that explicit power. It may be influential, in that the culture and many individuals will typically drift in the majority’s direction, but we don’t take a vote on what people should believe. (And if we did, it wouldn’t work.) This is a kind of is-ought problem.

    Or, you may say, as you said earlier, than you take your values “from” the culture, which means that you will agree with those values in either case. So, when the culture supports slavery, you support slavery; when the culture supports freedom, you support freedom.

    No, of course I would never say “when the culture supports slavery, you support slavery; when the culture supports freedom, you support freedom.” As a matter of empirical fact, people tend to adopt their culture’s values. But they don’t necessarily, and—again as a matter of empirical fact—they can choose quite contrarian values. The question of how and whether we can choose our values is interesting and difficult, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Just the observation that people certainly seem to do it.

    If you mean that I would likely have supported slavery had I been born into a slaving culture, yeah, that’s possible. After all, most people in slaving cultures support slavery. But then, I wouldn’t really be me, would I? I don’t know how you could unpack a person’s identity from their core values.

    I think they people should be free because they are all created equal and because they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (and natural) rights, which include life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Under those circumstances, they deserve to be free.

    Why? OK, the Creator created them with unalienable and natural rights. Why should you not take them? It would be an evil act, but why not choose evil? Because you want to honor the Creator? Why? Because you want to go to heaven? Why? I think sooner or later you get to a logical singularity, whatever your beliefs—humans just aren’t that logical.

    Which of those arguments do you think is more reasonable and more likely to persuade the average person? Be honest.

    Me. By a very long margin. Your theory that everyone already agrees with you, and is lying if they claim they don’t, is very strange and offputting. Maybe the average person would be persuaded by your blithe certainty, I don’t know.

    But I just can’t wrap my head around the ultimate solipsism of not permitting yourself to seriously consider that people who aren’t you have opinions that aren’t yours. After all, most of the world disagrees with you on one moral question or another; think of the implications! In all the world, you may be the only person who accurately perceives the mind of God. Astonishing, if true. If true.

  125. 125
    Learned Hand says:

    I’m Colin, by the way. Pleased to meet you. I don’t agree with you. Honestly, I’m not just lying or a moral pervert refusing to acknowledge my inner StephenB.
    Imagine how much wider and richer the world would be if you looked around and saw Stephens and Colins both, instead of just Stephens madly or wickedly wearing Colin masks.

    I’ll be traveling for work the next few days. I’ll try to be responsive, but I may be absent until Saturday night or Sunday.

  126. 126
    Learned Hand says:

    Take the US: Suicide bombing is outlawed and virtually all people agree that it is immoral. Insider-trading is also outlawed, yet there are some people that do not think it is immoral. Abortion is not outlawed and there is (if I remember correctly) about a fifty:fifty split on the morality of abortion.

    Oooh, that’s well-put. Thanks. But it’s not actually clear that insider trading is illegal anymore, at least in the Second Circuit. Long story. My finance friends tell me it’s no big deal and probably for the best. I’m dubious.

  127. 127
    Learned Hand says:

    Cross,

    I would agree that the physical provides no moral “ought”. But the answer given is that “minds do”. I am after clarification of how minds do.

    That’s a reasonable question, but not one I can answer. I don’t know how minds work, either physically or psychologically.

    My view of what constitutes a “mind” is not a materialistic one. Please explain how a materialists view of “mind” ie evolved physical brain can account for a moral ought.

    Mine is a materialist one, as you guessed. I can’t provide the account you asked for, any more than I can explain how a material brain evolves to do math or sense odors or have blood vessels. I’m a lawyer (more or less), not a scientist.

    When I say no one derives ought-from-is in a material sense, I mean that no one believes that moral principles arise out of mathematical ones, or gravity, or the electroweak whatsit. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that once you define a belief, someone somewhere will be found to believe it. Intellectual diversity, and/or cussedness. But virtually no one.)

  128. 128
    StephenB says:

    How about a counter question:

    How about addressing my original question? Does it matter whether a government’s laws are just? If so, how do you make that determination? Why do you think it makes sense for a government to pass any law that it pleases?

  129. 129
    Learned Hand says:

    Stephen,

    See the Biblical examples of rape cited above; not only did the perpetrators (probably) feel they were justified,

    This is at least the third time that you have made this claim. I ask for evidence that any Biblical character was commanded to rape someome or that any such person felt that he (they) were justified to commit such an act.

    I’m taking that from Numbers 31: “Moses was angry with the officers of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle. “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

    I’m aware that some people force this passage through interpretations designed to preserve their preferred beliefs: Moses didn’t mean for the men to have sex with the virgins, the virgins all consented, each and every boy deserved to die, they were all blessed in the afterlife so it’s OK, etc.

    For my part, I’m only looking at it as a historical document. It says what it says, no more, no less. If a spiritual and cultural leader gave soldiers permission to “keep for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man,” they probably had sex with those girls. (Even if not, the seizing of them and killing of boys is its own moral problem.) And those girls, having seen their entire families slaughtered, probably didn’t give their consent, either to the keeping or the sex.

    I’m assuming that the men who did this believed they were justified. I think that people who commit atrocious acts tend to find ways to justify them; a kind of confirmation bias. If such a bias was even necessary. Consent doesn’t seem to have been as important in those times as it is today, given the widespread practice of slavery. And they were, according to the record, given explicit permission for their actions by a direct representative of God.

    (I don’t, by the way, intend this example to be a slur on Christianity. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Christian who would commit rape if he heard a voice from the heavens, much less a mortal man, commanding him to.)

  130. 130
    hrun0815 says:

    How about addressing my original question? Does it matter whether a government’s laws are just? If so, how do you make that determination? Why do you think it makes sense for a government to pass any law that it pleases?

    Fine

    To me personally it certainly matters if a government’so laws are just. I prefer to live under laws I deem just. That is not always the case. And I use the means afforded to me by living in a democracy to affect change in situations where I think the laws are particularly unjust.

    The determination is of course made by me. How else would I make it? Isn’t this true for everybody?

    It makes sense because there is really no better solution than allowing a free government that is allowed to pass laws within the constraints of the constitution of that country. Of course what would be even better is if the government always had to double check with me first if any given law was just. That would clearly be the most optimal way to run a country– even though others may disagree.

    So, I have now answered all three questions. Would you care to address my question now? Here it is again:

    How about a counter question: What if that government decided that adultery was legal? What if that government decided abortion was legal? What if that government decided gay marriage was legal? Is it your position then that the secular government in the US not able to pass any law it pleases?

    It would be even better if in addition you could provide answers to the three questions I answered in this post as well.

    I’m likely going to sleep now so I won’t see your reply until the next morning.

  131. 131
    Learned Hand says:

    Stephen,

    Which principles do you use to inform those civil laws? On what basis do you determine which laws are fair and just. According to your answer, whatever the secular government comes up with is just fine. If that government decides to enslave blacks, no problem. If that same government changes its collective mind and decides to free blacks, that’s just fine. If that same government decides to revert to slavery, that is just fine. Is that your position? If not, then what is your point. You have presented no argument except to say that a secular government should be able to pass any law that it pleases. That is not a rational position.

    No. And no one thinks like this. You are having a conversation with imaginary materialists, who do not exist (at least in this thread, or any other place I’ve ever been).

    You are confusing the question of what the law allows with the question of what is right. You and I and Hrun and everyone else decide the latter for ourselves; collectively we decide the former as a society.

    Which principles do you use to inform those civil laws?

    In a democracy, the principles of the majority. Or to be more realistic, the principles of the most committed and/or powerful interest group, which tends to be but is not always the majority. See, i.e., finance laws.

    According to your answer, whatever the secular government comes up with is just fine.

    I’m speaking for Hrun here, but this is that confusion again. Whatever the secular government comes up with is the law; whether it’s “fine” in a moral sense is for each person to decide for themselves. Two different issues. One is the “is” of what the law says. The other is the “ought” of whether it’s good or not, according to each person’s values.

    And that’s the real world! The law is what the law is. The secular government does a pretty good job of coming up with laws that govern all of us, whatever our individual beliefs. We don’t have to agree with those laws, although we’re subject to the consequences if we violate them.

    You have presented no argument except to say that a secular government should be able to pass any law that it pleases. That is not a rational position.

    The same confusion again—Hrun is saying, as is clear in his comment 126 that you’ve thrown to the side, that the government can actually pass whatever law it pleases. (Setting aside the constitution, etc.) You’re reading an “ought” in there. Hrun’s point is obviously right—the government can pass all sorts of immoral laws. That doesn’t obligate anyone to believe they’re moral. See, for example, this country’s abortion laws—you disagree with them! You’re living in a subjectivist society right now.

  132. 132
    hrun0815 says:

    Learned Hand, I’ve been reading comments on and off at UD for multiple years. I have never seen anybody so good at articulating these beliefs which also happen to closely mirror mine. Thank you.

    Rest assured, it is not for lack of clarity or logic of your posts that some have difficulty understanding your position. The two biggest obstacles for understanding are the insistence of knowing somebody else’s mind and the denial of the reality we actually live in. I honestly do not understand how or why anybody would go through life like this.

  133. 133
    Learned Hand says:

    Well, it’s easier, isn’t it? You don’t have to scrutinize your own beliefs if you just know what’s right; and you don’t need to think about other peoples’ beliefs if you just know they’re both wrong and morally perverse for choosing to be wrong. The sense of security and self-satisfaction must be entirely gratifying. But now I’m purporting to know the minds of others.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  134. 134
    Mark Frank says:

    Learned Hand, I’ve been reading comments on and off at UD for multiple years. I have never seen anybody so good at articulating these beliefs which also happen to closely mirror mine. Thank you

    I second this. I have tried this debate with StephenB and KF many times over the years and never come close to explaining my position (which appears to match yours) so well and so patiently.

  135. 135
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    This obviously depends on your definition of “person.” I don’t feel that a non-viable fetus is a person. We can discuss it if you like, as we all must do in order to resolve moral quandaries in this world, but I’d suggest this is not the place. I would like to observe, though, that as you use loaded words to try to persuade me that my beliefs are wrong, you are operating exactly as a moral relativist would: “You have this belief that killing children is wrong, you should see fetuses as children, you should change your mind and agree with me.” As I’ve said, we all live in a relativist world.

    Well, that is the subjectivists answer to everything. “I don’t know if a baby sucking its thumb inside its mother’s womb is really a person (ignoring the real question as to whether it is a human being) so go ahead and kill it. “I don’t know if blacks are really full-fledged persons, according to my self-serving definition of person, so go ahead and enslave them. Oh wait, the culture changed, so I will change as well. Suddenly, slavery is no longer cool.”

    SB: In spite of your claim that people should be valued and treated with respect, you cannot explain why it should be so.

    Not really, no. Other relativists may be more articulate or able to explain it, but I can’t—at least not simply.

    No relativist can articulate or explain why people should be treated with respect, which is why tyrants ignore them treat people with disrespect.

    Let me also observe that being an objectivist doesn’t give you a solid logical foundation for being good. Why would you prefer good to evil? Even if there’s an objective standard dividing the two, why choose one over the other? Euthyphro, obviously, but also a hole in the logical foundation. Just a matter of preferences, you might say.

    It is more than personal preferences. Many people prefer to pervert their own human nature and act like an animal. The point of morality is to teach people how they ought to act given their human nature and given their potential to make themselves miserable by acting badly, which is often synonymous with acting according to “their personal preferences.”

    SB: Yes, I think you value others (except unborn children) because you were raised to do so. And so it is with suicide terrorists. They believe they should fly airplanes into buildings because they were “raised to do so.” Does that sound like a good reason for believing in something?

    Good or bad, they believe it. If I want to persuade them to change their minds, telling them they’re objectively wrong because they’re objectively wrong, and they should know it because they’re objectively wrong so obviously they already agree with me, is probably not going to work.

    Naturally, that argument wouldn’t work because, as a relativist, you could not tell them why they are wrong. Of course, as a subjectivist/relativist, you respect their beliefs so you wouldn’t try to change their minds in the first place–unless they try to fly the airplane into your building, in which case your moral sensibilities will become awakened and your subjectivism will be put on hold.

    Rather, I’d have to identify some values we share—there is worth in human life, especially innocent life—and try to use that as a lever to change their behavior.

    Do you really believe that suicide bombers value human life? That’s a little over the top, I’m afraid.

    Other people feel just as strongly that other moral positions are true, and are willing to sacrifice everything for those positions. What you apprehend is ultimately a subjective, not objective, sensation: it’s you who are apprehending it.

    Well, no. I (the subject) apprehend an objective truth (the object). Objective doesn’t just refer to physical objects. The subjectivist, on the other hand, reduces the object to subjective experience, not recognizing its independent existence (as an object of knowledge).

    Hence, you do not recognize the objective truth of the moral law. You reduce all morality to your subjective preferences and encourage others to do the same, except when it comes to the beliefs of the suicide bomber, which you think ought to be changed, except for the fact that you claim to also respect those same beliefs and think I am being tolerant for characterizing them as perverse.

    In other words, I think you’re taking a subjective feeling and putting it on a pedestal: this is sacred and cannot be questioned or erroneous. I think you’re sincere about it. But I think you’re mistaken.

    Well, here’s the thing. Truth, by its very nature, is unchangeable. If it could change, then either its earlier manifestation would be false or its later manifestation would be false.

    Many people feel as you do. I think it must get awkward when they change their mind about a question of moral principle.

    Anyone who thinks that an objective moral truth can change does not understand the meaning of moral truth.

    (By the way, are non-abortifacient birth control methods objectively immoral?)

    Yes.

    SB: No one who understands the meaning of the word “abortion” or the meaning of the natural moral law will have any difficulty answering that question or any related question.

    And yet, empirically they do. Sincere, devout, fiery believers disagree about, for example, whether abortion is permitted when the life of the mother is in jeopardy, or the fetus is anencephalic.

    Why did you ignore my answer to this question? I made it very clear what an abortion is and is not? I also made it clear that no informed objectivist would disagree with my answer and why he would not disagree with it.

    Isn’t everyone familiar with the natural moral law?

    Everyone can apprehend the basic truths of the natural moral law, but not everyone knows how to apply them in subtle situations. That is what the faculty of reason is for. That is what I just did with the abortion question, which you ignored.

    I thought that was the point: we all secretly agree with you about what that law and how we should govern ourselves accordingly. So isn’t anyone who disagrees with you evidence?

    No believer in the natural moral law would disagree with my explanation, which, again, you conspicuously left out and conspicuously did not respond to. This is out of character for you (leaving out essential information).

    SB: Whose values are to inform the rules?

    Open your window and look around—that society. The one you live in. Our society assumes that people will take actions that the actor believes is justified, but society as a whole rejects. We have whole bodies of law dedicated to this problem, and have since before the colonization of the United States.

    Obviously, you are not familiar with the history of the United States, which was explicitly built on the natural moral law. Or, as it is characterized in the Declaration of Independence, “The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”

    Our values inform the rules. Yours and mine, even where they differ. We gather together (via proxy, most of the time) and set the rules through politics, a mixture of persuasion and coercion. Not by meditating in unison on the moral law, or checking with one another to make sure we’re still honest about our agreement with StephenB.

    Again, I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with the historical record. Now it is true that the United States abandoned the Natural Moral Law a few years ago, which explains part of its decline and the reason it will soon become extinct, but the American civil law was founded on the Natural Moral Law as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. True, America was not always true to that principle, but that is a different story. It has nothing to do with agreeing with StephenB and everything to do with knowing the subject matter.

    The suicide bomber may believe sincerely that his actions are right, but his beliefs aren’t privileged above those of his victims or the political consensus.

    The suicide bomber believes his beliefs are privileged, just as you think that your support of abortion is privileged over the unborn baby. Yes, he is wrong, but so are you. Both of you take the position that you are right simply because it is your position. Both you and the suicide bomber have arrogated to yourself the right to determine morality according to your own personal preferences. The point of the natural moral law is to make clear that its principles are on a higher order than your personal preferences or those of the suicide bomber. Everyone is subject to it.

    That doesn’t make the consensus the ultimate arbiter. Consider civil disobedience. MLK was punished by the law, but that doesn’t make his actions immoral. He gets to decide for himself whether his actions were right, and we get to judge both his actions and his moral principles. If we find them superior to our own—if they do a better job of empowering shared values, or inspire us, or reveal our hypocrisy, or simply become entrenched in our communities—then they begin to spread and convert. Once again, moral objectivism is belied by the plasticity of actual morals.

    Again, I must point out (diplomatically, I hope) that you simply do not know your history. MLK appealed to the Natural Moral Law in order to achieve his noble purpose. Please check the record. He did not decide for himself what was right or wrong. He acknowledged that he (and those he opposed) were all subject to the natural moral law and that no one had the right to decide morality for himself—no person, no culture, no country. That was his whole argument. At the time he made his appeal, his position was the minority position. He said that the natural moral law takes precedence over any consensus decision. And so it does—or should.

    If you mean that I would likely have supported slavery had I been born into a slaving culture, yeah, that’s possible. After all, most people in slaving cultures support slavery. But then, I wouldn’t really be me, would I? I don’t know how you could unpack a person’s identity from their core values.

    Well, OK, but that brings us back to the central question. Should you accept the morality that a culture presents to you, or should you search for a better source for your values? A libertine culture (like ours) will present libertine values, a murderous society (such as ISIS) will present murderous values, a dishonest culture will present you with dishonest values. Wouldn’t it be better to search for objective truth so that you can illuminate your culture instead of just falling in with it?

    I think they people should be free because they are all created equal and because they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (and natural) rights, which include life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Under those circumstances, they deserve to be free.

    Why? OK, the Creator created them with unalienable and natural rights.

    Yes, the rights belong to them and cannot be taken away by the state. They are “natural” and belong to the person, not the state.

    Why should you not take them? It would be an evil act, but why not choose evil? Because you want to honor the Creator? Why? Because you want to go to heaven? Why? I think sooner or later you get to a logical singularity, whatever your beliefs—humans just aren’t that logical.

    I can make no sense of your question. We are discussing the foundation for a just civil society. In order to be happy in that society, people must be free to follow their conscience (not to do anything they please).
    It is not up to every human to be logical, but it is up to those who presume to lead them to have a very good reason for passing the laws that they pass. Unjust laws are the enemy of freedom. How you can dismiss that point I will never know. You appear to have no concern at all about which laws are just or how we can determine if they are just.

  136. 136
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    You are confusing the question of what the law allows with the question of what is right. You and I and Hrun and everyone else decide the latter for ourselves; collectively we decide the former as a society.

    On the contrary, I am the one who raised the issue. You had nothing to say about the nature and necessary condition for just laws until I brought it up. So now, we can discuss it.

    SB: Which principles do you use to inform those civil laws?

    In a democracy, the principles of the majority.

    Well, then, we are back to the question that I asked and you did not fully address. Was the majority decision to enslave blacks and the majority decision to discriminate against them a good and fair decision?

    I’m speaking for Hrun here, but this is that confusion again. Whatever the secular government comes up with is the law; whether it’s “fine” in a moral sense is for each person to decide for themselves.

    To say that whatever laws the secular government passes are the law is really a very trivial and obvious statement. The questions is, how do you determine whether or not the government decision (or the majority decision, for that matter) is just?

    There is Two different issues. One is the “is” of what the law says. The other is the “ought” of whether it’s good or not, according to each person’s values.

    I am well aware of the two issues since I am the one who brought them up.

    And that’s the real world! The law is what the law is.

    Another profound statement!

    The secular government does a pretty good job of coming up with laws that govern all of us, whatever our individual beliefs. We don’t have to agree with those laws, although we’re subject to the consequences if we violate them.

    What do you mean by “a good job of governing?” Do you mean that the government keeps the trains running on time, or that the government is fair to the people. Please explain yourself.

    Hrun’s point is obviously right—the government can pass all sorts of immoral laws.

    That wasn’t his point, but never mind.

    That doesn’t obligate anyone to believe they’re moral. See, for example, this country’s abortion laws—you disagree with them! You’re living in a subjectivist society right now.

    You appear not to understand my question. What is your standard for deciding if the government is passing just laws?

  137. 137
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    Hrun’s point is obviously right—the government can pass all sorts of immoral laws.

    How do you know if a law is immoral?

  138. 138
    niwrad says:

    velikovskys #123

    We cannot directly attribute to God *human* categories (tall/low, black/white, good/evil…), as He were a man. Even I wrote an UD post on the error of anthropomorphism:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....omorphism/

    “by your definition the film is a meta reality as well”

    No, while you can have the tv set without the film, you cannot view the film without the tv. So the tv is the meta-reality that supports the film, not viceversa.

    “The concept of God explains everything and nothing. To use your meta reality theory, it is man who creates the concepts of good or evil ,God merely reflects it back. But while your argument supports my position , it would relegate God to a non interactive force, is that your position as well or am I misunderstanding your view?”

    God explains all because God *is* all. Man per se *creates* nothing properly. All things men can think and do are already present in the mind of God as possibilities. Back to the tv: the tv can display any film. Man chooses what film to display, he is free to display an evil film or a good one as well. Similarly, God is the supreme meta-Reality which all worlds appear upon. By saying that I don’t at all “relegate God to a non interactive force”. Indeed the opposite, I affirm His omnipotence as First Cause of all.

    Moreover, God is the supreme metaphysical Unity, in which we all stay. To grasp this fundamental truth of union helps to make us humanly good, while the ignorance of our unity in God causes human evil. Conversely, to be good helps us to grasp Unity, while to be bad withdraws us from Unity. This is the importance of the moral rules for our behavior. Who has fully realized God is perfectly good and absolutely non-violent (even with animals). I wrote about here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....om-theism/

  139. 139
    kairosfocus says:

    LH,

    As of now, I make one last try to bridge. Failing that, let the below stand for the record.

    First, there is a difference between understanding and agreement, and my concern is that subjectivism and other relativisms in transferring discussion on ought to discussion on perceptions and balances of opinion in communities make a pivotal error, failing to soundly address the IS-OUGHT gap.

    Like unto it, is my concern that on evolutionary materialist premises or those of fellow-traveller views, there is an inherent implication —

    and, given the toxic, understanding warping nature of subjectivism, I must point out that implication is about objective warrant from P to Q such that NOT- (P and NOT-Q) [ along lines of if a triangle’s sides are 3,4, 5 inches the angle between the first two is 90 degrees], inference is about drawing conclusions as a reasoning and sometimes erring individual —

    . . . that the sense that we really are under moral obligation is an illusion, a subjective perception without objective warrant, without foundation in the IS of the world antecedent to our subjective existence.

    You will note, that I have cited several leading thinkers along such lines . . . which you have tried to brush aside without cogently addressing. But, the point is plain, this is not merely my projection, there are grounds for the concern publicly admitted by leading advocates of evolutionary materialism and the like. Not to mention, Plato’s 2350 year old warning. And yes, an inherently a-moral worldview foundation patently entails that OUGHT has no “ultimate” basis, with all that stems from it.

    As in, might and manipulation — across time — and, for individuals and communities alike — make the perception or expectation we call ‘right.’

    Which, should give any sane person sobering pause.

    Similarly, such views end up entailing that rational, insightful, warranting, knowing mind is not credible by implications of substituting blind GIGO limited computation and differential reproductive success across aeons multiplied by local psycho-social conditioning shaping emergence of brain and its programming, etc. Provine’s dismissal of responsible freedom is especially forceful on this. If you are not free you are not free to think, reason, warrant and know for yourself.

    I took time to give a real world morals case, and to highlight the testimony of conscience and moral perception: this is wrong.

    Not merely, we report a perception that many agree with — what you kept substituting above, but there is a state of the world that ought to elicit due response. Refrain from such. Stop it if you encounter it in progress.

    Utterly different from if you see a man catch, clean and cook a fish for lunch. As I recall watching men try to catch dinner for their families along the sea-wall of Havana — and thought, they are trying to provide for their families.

    In short there is a vast difference in moral worth, not just subjective valuing, between a child and a fish.

    And this extends, patently to the unborn child, the most unable to speak or fend or fight for himself. The most vulnerable, to be the most protected along with his mother. (Kindly, cf here.)

    Now, by contrast the radical relativist view would reduce this in one way or another to perceptions, feelings, conditioning etc.

    That is, it is subjective and culture relative all the way, and cannot go beyond the social-psychological to the ontological; as, the ontology of lab coat clad scientism and evolutionary materialism (and fellow traveller views constructed to be compatible with that) have no root IS capable of bearing OUGHT. (And I am fully prepared to defend insisting on a sound, finitely remote, non-question-begging cluster of foundational premises for moral and general reasoning.)

    You may disagree but — with 100 million ghosts from the century past whispering in our ears — we must take seriously the inference that morals are only subjective and even illusion.

    Indeed, the ontological gap between IS and OUGHT that cannot be bridged on evolutionary materialist or fellow traveller premises actually implies such illusion. And denial or dismissal cannot remove that, only a demonstration otherwise, e.g. again, on why there is or is not a difference between killing a fish and killing a child . . . outside or inside the womb.

    Now, what I think is going on is that you have been so schooled to assign subjectivist terms that you are failing to see the material difference in the transfer you have repeatedly made to perceptions and community balances.

    There is a difference of worldview, and there is an ontological level issue at stake. Namely, the IS-OUGHT gap and grounding of OUGHT.

    If OUGHT is real, we are under moral government. If our perception that out is real is merely subjective and social-psychological, we have a major case of general delusion. That puts us in a Plato’s Cave world, with no firewalls, undermining the credibility of mind in general, thus the project of reason, warrant and knowledge.

    Of course, that is not usually worked through to the end, it is usually projected unto the targetted other. But if my perceptions of moral worth are only socio-psychological and subjective, so are yours. Justice and calls for reformation are then only martyr stories and emotional playing on tragedies. Including your preferred cases. Including rape, indecent assault, enslavement and murder. That is, we are now at might and manipulation make ‘right’ with history to tell us that most people think X is not an effective defense.

    People and societies after all can be brainwashed, in crude terms. Can be in Plato’s Cave of shadow shows thinking en-darkenment is enlightenment, if you please.

    I insist, the IS-OUGHT gap is crucial, and worldviews need to squarely address grounding of OUGHT, evasions, transfer of focus and terms of discussion, etc are not good enough.

    So, 100+ million ghosts of the born and many, many more of the unborn tell us that.

    Much, much is at stake.

    So let us tread soberly and carefully as we address the IS-OUGHT gap.

    KF

  140. 140
    Mark Frank says:

    SB

    How do you know if a law is immoral?

    I won’t speak for LH. But I don’t know if a law is immoral. I decide it is immoral based on many reasons – fairness, suffering, keeping to committment – it depends on the law. You don’t know laws to be immoral either. You only know whether they conform to the natural moral law and decide they are immoral based on that. In both cases it is always possible to keep on asking “why?”. Why is it good to be fair? Why is it good to obey the natural moral law? Philosophers have tried to come up with different ultimate answers (Aristotle’s Good Life, Kant’s Categorical Imperative, Utilitarianism, G.E. Moore’s Intuitionism, various religious answers including yours) and all of them have been disputed.

    As LH says in practice we hopefully come to a point where we find a reason we both agree on and can then debate to what extent that reason applies. But we may not – and then you have to find some way to live with someone who has different, sincerely held, moral principles.

  141. 141
    Cross says:

    Learned Hand @ 130

    Thanks for the reply and honesty with not having an answer.

    Taking into account that you don’t know how the mind works (nor me, Im in IT) what has led you to be sure that only physical/material elements are at work? Why are you certain that there can be no spiritual/metaphysical dimension to the mind?

    Cheers

  142. 142
    DillyGill says:

    The materialistic account of life is truly a magic show. The trick (the part that fools the onlookers) is trading on the name of science.

    The purpose (I suspect) can be found by looking for the promoters, whom are the global elites. Their intent is to promote chaos and usher in a demonic one world government. Materialism is the perfect vehicle for evil.

  143. 143
    niwrad says:

    DillyGill #145

    “Materialism is the perfect vehicle for evil.”

    Yes, but there is something even worse and more dangerous than materialism: pseudo and false spiritualism. The latter, at its extreme, will lead us to what you name “demonic one world government”.

  144. 144
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    I decide it is immoral based on many reasons – fairness, suffering, keeping to committment – it depends on the law.

    As LH says in practice we hopefully come to a point where we find a reason we both agree on and can then debate to what extent that reason applies. But we may not – and then you have to find some way to live with someone who has different, sincerely held, moral principles.

    You (and Learned Hand) have not addressed any of the preliminary questions, all of which are vital and must be accounted for:

    What is the purpose of government in the first place and what is the relationship of that purpose to the natural rights of the individual? How do you decide if the government has over-stepped its authority? Do you even think that citizens have natural rights, that is, rights that the government should not be able to touch? If so, what is the origin of those rights? How do these question tie in to the notion of justice properly defined?

  145. 145
    hrun0815 says:

    Yes, but there is something even worse and more dangerous than materialism: pseudo and false spiritualism. The latter, at its extreme, will lead us to what you name “demonic one world government”.

    Yes. The only force for good here is ‘true spiritualism’. The problem is that so many spiritual people don’t agree about who in fact follows the true spiritualism instead of the false one. But that can always be resolved by asking StephenB– or of course by force. Sadly the latter is the more popular choice.

  146. 146
    hrun0815 says:

    Obviously, you are not familiar with the history of the United States, which was explicitly built on the natural moral law. Or, as it is characterized in the Declaration of Independence, “The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”

    I wish in all your writing you would have had the curtesy to respond to the question(s) I posed to you.

    So of the U.S. Is built on natural law which according to you is objectively good does that mean it can’t have unjust laws? And if it can, how can you have a functioning society in this case?

    ( To clarify, this is just echoing your questions. As explained above I do not see unjust laws as an impediment to functioning societies.)

  147. 147
    hrun0815 says:

    As of now, I make one last try to bridge.

    If you actually want to make an effort you’d actually try to write a concise, readily understandable argument rather than whatever it is that you actually wrote.

    Failing that, let the below stand for the record.

    Yes. That it is good for. Everybody should readily compare your ‘arguments’ to the ones made by LH.

  148. 148
    hrun0815 says:

    As in, might and manipulation — across time — and, for individuals and communities alike — make the perception or expectation we call ‘right.’

    Heh. Even now LH has still not been able to convince KF of one of the most basic points of the whole discussion.

    Moral subjectivists do not believe that might makes right. In fact, I personally do not know a single person who does– but I do know lots of moral subjectivists.

    So strange. So sad.

    [Provided of course that I accurately parse KF’s statement. I don’t have very high confidence that I do, though.]

  149. 149
    kairosfocus says:

    HR, A word or two. On fair comment, kindly, before you set up and knock over an ad hominem laced strawman again, please take a moment to note that I have very explicitly distinguished between (a) what people perceive and believe and (b) what a worldview’s presuppositions imply per their substance. That is, people often fail to recognise where their thinking leads logically; but we face the problem that across time, ideas have consequences and those implications tend to work through. Already we see a pervasive undermining of the value of innocent human life, starting with the unborn but spreading ever onwards. In this case, the pivot is the unanswered IS-OUGHT gap of evolutionary materialism and fellow traveller, compatibilist positions. I also note on the issue of the objectivity of OUGHT, here, and in that context on the implications of denying ontological foundations to our intuition of ought and the voice of conscience. Where, I took further time in that general context to specifically distinguish (c) implication from (d) inference in order to further emphasise the distinction at a vs b. And, FYI, it is precisely because of experience with too many word twisters over the years that I have taken pains to lay out such distinctions explicitly and to link onward discussions that draw out the matter in more detail than a blog comment. KF

  150. 150
    hrun0815 says:

    I have very explicitly distinguished between (a) what people perceive and believe and (b) what a worldview’s presuppositions imply per their substance.

    Yup, there it is again, folks.

    Either moral relativists actually do believe against their own profession that might makes right or moral relativists believe against their own profession that they are not moral relativists.

    And, FYI, it is precisely because of experience with too many word twisters over the years that I have taken pains to lay out such distinctions explicitly and to link onward discussions that draw out the matter in more detail than a blog comment.

    Yet, contrary to your presumed intent what you are doing does not actually facilitate understanding or bridge anything. I would suggest that your time and effort would be better spent at figuring out how to write concise, logically connected posts.

    My grasp of the English language is quite high, yet I still fail to even parse what you are attempting to say, not due to a lack of understanding the subject matter but due to a lack of parsing the structure of your sentences and the logically connection between them.

  151. 151
    DillyGill says:

    hrun0815 @153
    Kariosfocus is so easy to follow, it must be you!

  152. 152
    kairosfocus says:

    HR, a key term, courtesy Wiki:

    Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences . . .

    In other words, the IS at world-foundation level. Evolutionary materialism in a nutshell avers that matter, energy, and space-time in some form are reality, and that specifically they have blindly evolved from Hydrogen to Humans.

    On such a framework, you will find no IS that can bridge the gap to grounding OUGHT. Or, for that matter, responsible, rational freedom. (This last is the true root of the so-called hard problem of consciousness.)

    That is why you will find the likes of Ruse and Wilson declaring, per the 1991 form of a well known assertion, already cited in 86 above . . . and which join several other key admissions:

    The time has come to take seriously the fact [–> This is a gross error at the outset, as macro-evolution is a theory (an explanation) about the unobserved past of origins and so cannot be a fact on the level of the observed roundness of the earth or the orbiting of planets around the sun etc.] that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favored Creation of a Benevolent God on the Sixth Day . . . We must think again especially about our so-called ‘ethical principles.’ The question is not whether biology—specifically, our evolution—is connected with ethics, but how. As evolutionists, we see that no justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will . . . In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external grounding . . . Ethics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. Once it is grasped, everything falls into place.

    [Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement, , ed. J. E. Hutchingson, Orlando, Fl.:Harcourt and Brace, 1991.]

    Dawkins in IIRC River out of Eden, published in Sci Am:

    Somewhere between windscreen wipers and tin openers on the one hand, and rocks and the universe on the other, lie living creatures. Living bodies and their organs are objects that, unlike rocks, seem to have purpose written all over them . . . . The true process that has endowed wings, eyes, beaks, nesting instincts and everything else about life with the strong illusion of purposeful design is now well understood.
    It is Darwinian natural selection . . . . The true utility function of life, that which is being maximized in the natural world, is DNA survival. But DNA is not floating free; it is locked up in living bodies, and it has to make the most of the levers of power at its disposal. Genetic sequences that find themselves in cheetah bodies maximize their survival by causing those bodies to kill gazelles. Sequences that find themselves in gazelle bodies increase their chance of survival by promoting opposite ends. But the same utility function-the survival of DNA-explains the “purpose” of both the cheetah [–> i.e. predator] and the gazelle [–> i.e. prey] . . . .

    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.]

    Provine, in his 1998 Darwin Day Keynote at U Tenn:

    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 . . .

    In case you miss the force of that, here is Sir Francis Crick in 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.

    In short, there is a real, worldview foundation issue here, one that must be faced squarely.

    The IS-OUGHT challenge is real, and it demands a world-foundational IS that can ground OUGHT in such a way that it does not reduce to undermining responsible freedom and implying that might and manipulation make ‘right’ in an a-moral world with an open invitation to nihilism.

    If we imply that ought is in effect an illusion, we run into the problem of implying general delusion in a major aspect of mindedness. There are no firewalls and that undercuts rationality. Such a view is self-refuting.

    As Crick in particular so manifestly shows.

    A Nobel Prize holder.

    If we acknowledge in the face of the ghost of that little murdered boy, that yes we do correctly recognise some things are wrong, because they are indeed wrong and evil, that means there must be a basis for OUGHT. That is, there is an IS that grounds OUGHT.

    Post Hume etc, that can only happen at world foundation level.

    After centuries of discussion, there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being who is the root of reality.

    But, that is ever so unpalatable or even repulsive to many today.

    Such, need to ask themselves why, especially if they have ever felt or argued that evil is an objection to God. (Cf. here on that.)

    KF

  153. 153
    hrun0815 says:

    The materialistic account of life is truly a magic show. The trick (the part that fools the onlookers) is trading on the name of science.

    The purpose (I suspect) can be found by looking for the promoters, whom are the global elites. Their intent is to promote chaos and usher in a demonic one world government. Materialism is the perfect vehicle for evil.

    DillyGill
    Jan 15 – 7:47 am
    hrun0815 @153
    Kariosfocus is so easy to follow, it must be you!

    Yes. You must be right on both points.

    Maybe you’d care to explain the paragraphs highlighted by LH as examples of how easy it is to follow KF. 🙂

  154. 154
    Mark Frank says:

    SB

    You (and Learned Hand) have not addressed any of the preliminary questions, all of which are vital and must be accounted for:

    I am not convinced these are preliminary – my comment would apply to any moral judgement not just to moral judgements about governments and laws. But happy to give it a try

    What is the purpose of government in the first place and what is the relationship of that purpose to the natural rights of the individual?

    Philosophers have argued about this since before Aristotle. Personally I see government as having multiple purposes and I am sure you don’t want to discuss them all. I don’t think individuals have natural rights but in my subjective opinion citizens have some rights which government should avoid transgressing. However, this is not absolute – it has to be balanced against other considerations. We accept limitations on our liberty every day and think nothing of it (e.g. speed limits).

    How do you decide if the government has over-stepped its authority?

    This can happen at two levels. It may transgress agreed laws and regulations. That is theoretically straightforward – although not necessarily easy in practice – just look at the laws. It may pass laws that I personally feel are unnecessarily intrusive – there is no hard and fast rule for that – it could be because it falls outside its domain or because it is addressing a problem that is better left to private expertise or because it is making unjustified impositions on those rights that I subjectively feel we should have.

    Do you even think that citizens have natural rights, that is, rights that the government should not be able to touch?

    See above.

    If so, what is the origin of those rights? How do these question tie in to the notion of justice properly defined?

    Well I don’t – so this doesn’t apply.

  155. 155
    Zachriel says:

    Cross: The question is do you think rape is wrong and how does the materialistic worldview account for the fact that almost everyone does?

    Humans have often considered the taking of women as property to be socially acceptable, so the stricture against rape is hardly universal in time. For instance, the y-chromosome of Genghis Khan and his male relatives are found in about 8% of the males in Central Asia.

    However, you might argue that rape would then be universal, however, women are not helpless, and have power of their own, which they acquire directly, or through their children. There is also monogamous bonding, which is important in child rearing. Additionally, humans live in communities, so mechanisms to avoid and resolve conflict are involved.

  156. 156
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    It may transgress agreed laws and regulations.

    Well, yes, that’s true, but what I had in mind is the more fundamental question: How do you know if the laws and regulations themselves are overstepping? In other words, if the government in concert with the majority of the people agree to discriminate against, persecute, or even kill innocent members of a certain social group, would you call that overstepping and, if so, what safeguards would you recommend to prevent it, given that you don’t believe in natural rights?

    Personally I see government as having multiple purposes and I am sure you don’t want to discuss them all.

    No, I just wanted to know if you agree with me that the purpose of government is to protect rights, but from what you have said above, it appears that you don’t think citizens have any natural rights to protect. I interpret that to mean that you think the government should grant and withhold rights at its pleasure. Naturally, that leads to the question of how you determine if government and the majority of citizens are being fair in their policy of granting rights and, if not, what should be done about it. In other words, how to you prevent tyranny of the government or tyranny of the majority?

  157. 157
    DillyGill says:

    hrun0815 @157
    can you give me the box number to investigate.

    Whilst strolling back to find it I came across this gem by LH
    ‘Every culture has perished, except the ones still around–cultures change, so eventually they all die out. In the modern era, cultures that have accepted family planning and gay marriage are doing pretty well. We tend to be freer, safer, more prosperous, and healthier than cultures that don’t. I guess we can wait a generation and see if we all die in fire; I doubt we will. ‘
    Of course that is if you reject the evolutionary criteria of success which is to replicate to ensure survival, the societies (the west under materialst thinking embracing family planning and the gay life style) are not reproducing sufficiently to ensure their own survival. A small over sight by LH I am sure

  158. 158
    Silver Asiatic says:

    MF

    But we may not – and then you have to find some way to live with someone who has different, sincerely held, moral principles.

    This assumes that we should put some moral value on sincerity before we decided what moral values are.

    In the relativist model, insincerity and lying should maintain equal moral status with truth-telling and sincere conviction.

  159. 159
    hrun0815 says:

    In other words, how to you prevent tyranny of the government or tyranny of the majority?

    Another question I have a terribly difficult time in understanding why it is a question at all.

    In the US and in virtually all other countries I can think of, the way to prevent tyranny of the government or tyranny of the majority is independent of what any individual believes about the source of their morals, if they are god-given or not, if they come from natural laws or not, if they are objective or subjective, if they change over time or are unchanging, …

    There is simply the same mechanism open to all citizens independent of their convictions.

  160. 160
    hrun0815 says:

    hrun0815 @157
    can you give me the box number to investigate.

    How about you start by looking at 105. But you can essentially pick post by KF.

    Of course that is if you reject the evolutionary criteria of success which is to replicate to ensure survival, the societies (the west under materialst thinking embracing family planning and the gay life style) are not reproducing sufficiently to ensure their own survival. A small over sight by LH I am sure

    Can you identify such a society you are talking about where ‘materialist embracing family planning and the gay life style’ has led to insufficient reproduction which will lead to these societies to fail to survive?

    Again, I am happy to wait it out and see who will be proven correct. But then again that may just be part of my intent “to promote chaos and usher in a demonic one world government”.

  161. 161
    Mark Frank says:

    SB

    I should have been clearer. I meant to answer your question:

    How do you know if the laws and regulations themselves are overstepping?

    when I wrote:

    It may pass laws that I personally feel are unnecessarily intrusive – there is no hard and fast rule for that – it could be because it falls outside its domain or because it is addressing a problem that is better left to private expertise or because it is making unjustified impositions on those rights that I subjectively feel we should have.

    I think the point is that like you I believe there are some things that it would be wrong for the majority to impose on the minority – the tyranny of the majority is a real problem. Unlike you I think those rights are loosely defined, can change with circumstances, need to be balanced against other considerations, and I believe in them for a variety of reasons ie. they are like all other moral judgements – messy and somewhat a matter of opinion (which is not the same as saying they are mere matters of personal preference).

    I interpret that to mean that you think the government should grant and withhold rights at its pleasure.

    Not at all. I think government should grant and withhold rights in accordance with what I think is right (as described above). That is pretty much a tautology. Very likely others disagree about what is right and that it is a moral debate to go alongside many others.

    Naturally, that leads to the question of how you determine if government and the majority of citizens are being fair in their policy of granting rights and, if not, what should be done about it. In other words, how to you prevent tyranny of the government or tyranny of the majority?

    Take that in two parts. Deciding if they are being fair is just one aspect of the decision as to whether they are being moral which I explained above. What should I do about it? Well that is a practical and tricky question and I am not sure of the answer. A constitution is certainly a handy tool but I don’t think it should be as inflexible as the US constitution which has become an instrument for turning judges into legislators.

  162. 162
    hrun0815 says:

    This assumes that we should put some moral value on sincerity before we decided what moral values are.

    In the relativist model, insincerity and lying should maintain equal moral status with truth-telling and sincere conviction.

    I should do so in relativist or objectivist models. Do you judge somebody’s moral actions differently if they are sincerely held beliefs rather than insinscerely held beliefs.

    To me (and I would think to everyone else, too) actions of others are judged by my own morality.

  163. 163
    Mark Frank says:

    SA

    This assumes that we should put some moral value on sincerity before we decided what moral values are.

    Why? I was just discussing the pragmatic point that you have to live with people who have sincerely held different moral opinions. You also have to live with people who have insincerely held different moral opinions. I couldn’t say which is the harder.

    In the relativist model, insincerity and lying should maintain equal moral status with truth-telling and sincere conviction.

    Why? In the subjectivist (which is not the same as the relativist) model moral status depends on the individual – that’s why it is subjective.

  164. 164
    hrun0815 says:

    MF and SA, clearly I should have contrasted objectivist morals with subjectivist morals and not with relativist morals.

    One has to wonder, though, how how the overlap is between subjectivists and relativists.

  165. 165
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    I think the point is that like you I believe there are some things that it would be wrong for the majority to impose on the minority – the tyranny of the majority is a real problem.

    Yes.

    Unlike you I think those rights are loosely defined, can change with circumstances, need to be balanced against other considerations, and I believe in them for a variety of reasons ie. they are like all other moral judgements – messy and somewhat a matter of opinion (which is not the same as saying they are mere matters of personal preference).

    Well, I don’t know how that speaks to the issue, Mark. The application of laws with respect to rights can be messy, but the rights themselves are fairly straightforward, ie. freedom of speech, freedom of religious expression, freedom of association, freedom from violence, freedom of assembly etc. It appears that you don’t think people are entitled to these rights since it is entirely possible that the government and the majority of the people may not grant them to the minority. So you appear to have no mechanism to protect those who are the most vulnerable.

    SB: I interpret that to mean that you think the government should grant and withhold rights at its pleasure.

    Not at all. I think government should grant and withhold rights in accordance with what I think is right (as described above). That is pretty much a tautology. Very likely others disagree about what is right and that it is a moral debate to go alongside many others.

    You think that the government should grant and withhold rights based on your subjective morality and no one else’s? That is what you seem to be saying. Am I misreading you?

    Deciding if they are being fair is just one aspect of the decision as to whether they are being moral which I explained above.

    I am speaking about justice or fairness and nothing else. The issue here is how to be fair with the minority, that is, how to pass just laws that will not put them an unreasonable disadvantage so that they can live well or even be allowed to live at all.

    What should I do about it? Well that is a practical and tricky question and I am not sure of the answer. A constitution is certainly a handy tool but I don’t think it should be as inflexible as the US constitution which has become an instrument for turning judges into legislators.

    I appreciate your honest statement that you have no answer. Also, I agree with your last point. Judges should not be legislators. The U.S. Constitution was designed to prevent that outrage, but the U.S. Constitution is no longer followed by the country’s leaders.

    What I am hoping is that you will come to understand, Mark, is that there is no way to protect the minority unless their natural rights are acknowledged and respected. Thus, the natural moral law is the only real protection for those who are vulnerable. The momentary and changeable whims of the government or of the majority cannot be counted on. There is no reason to believe they will be fair, no matter how much they might enter into debate. Self interest will always be looming in the background. That is why the government, the majority, and the minority should all be subject to the natural moral law, which holds everyone accountable–those who have power and those who do not.

  166. 166
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank

    Deciding if they are being fair is just one aspect of the decision as to whether they are being moral which I explained above.

    I am speaking about justice or fairness and nothing else. The issue here is how to be fair with the minority, that is, how to pass just laws that will not put them an unreasonable disadvantage so that they can live well.

    What should I do about it? Well that is a practical and tricky question and I am not sure of the answer. A constitution is certainly a handy tool but I don’t think it should be as inflexible as the US constitution which has become an instrument for turning judges into legislators.

    I appreciate your honest statement that you have no answer. Also, I agree with your last point.. Judges should not be legislators. The U.S. Constitution was designed to prevent that outrage, but the U.S. Constitution is no longer followed by the country’s leaders.

    What I am hoping is that you will come to acknowledge, Mark, is that there is no way to protect the minority unless their natural rights are acknowledged and respected. Thus, the natural moral law is the only real protection for those who are vulnerable. The momentary and changeable whims of the government or of the majority cannot be counted on. There is no reason to believe they will be fair, no matter how much they might enter into debate. Self interest will always be looming in the background. That is why the government, the majority, and the minority should all be subject to the natural moral law, which holds everyone accountable–those who have power and those who do not.

  167. 167
    hrun0815 says:

    That is why the government, the majority, and the minority should all be subject to the natural moral law, which holds everyone accountable–those who have power and those who do not.

    And how does it do that?

  168. 168
    Learned Hand says:

    Layover—I have a few minutes to chip in, and my apologies if I don’t get to you. StephenB, you’ve written a lot, and I suspect that by the time I get back to a real desk you’ll have written a lot more. I haven’t intentionally skipped anything, but you seem to feel that I’ve neglected some important points. If you’d like to state them succinctly, I’d be happy to address them. If not, I’ll go back over everything when I have a chance and pull them out—I’m not trying to make work for you.

    KF,

    As of now, I make one last try to bridge.

    I’m sorry KF, but you don’t seem to be having quite the same conversation as the rest of us. If you’d like to join it I’d be happy to discuss things with you, but your digressions are neither interesting nor significant to me. And for myself, I find your writing to be extremely turgid. I’ve asked a couple of times that you make an effort to make your points as clearly and succinctly as possible; I got more block-quote digressions, martyrdom claims, fishing anecdotes, and doomsday prophecies.

    Failing that, let the below stand for the record.

    Okay.

    Cross,

    Taking into account that you don’t know how the mind works (nor me, Im in IT) what has led you to be sure that only physical/material elements are at work? Why are you certain that there can be no spiritual/metaphysical dimension to the mind?

    I’m a skeptic. I think I could be persuaded that spiritual dimensions exist, but I’d need to see evidence. I haven’t. All the NDEs I’ve looked into are hoary just-so stories, and even where physical explanations are incomplete they don’t seem to require the invention of extravagant unseen forces.

    In other words, I know that a physical brain is necessary for a mind to exist. I haven’t seen any evidence that an immaterial spirit exists or is necessary.

    At the end of the day, though, I’m a pragmatist. I don’t much care whether a spirit is necessary; I’m more interested in how people communicate, persuade, coerce, and govern among themselves. Whether we are luminous beings or crude matter doesn’t seem to make a difference to those questions; we all operate just exactly as we would in a relativist, materialist world regardless.

    DailyGill,

    I find that people who worry about satanic conspiracies and one-world governments have largely taken their eye off the ball when it comes to the real world. But I guess everyone needs a hobby.

    Of course that is if you reject the evolutionary criteria of success which is to replicate to ensure survival, the societies (the west under materialst thinking embracing family planning and the gay life style) are not reproducing sufficiently to ensure their own survival. A small over sight by LH I am sure

    I don’t particularly care whether the west is “reproducing sufficiently.” I might just be a prude, but I find the question slightly tacky. My culture will not survive; given enough time, it will change into some other culture, just like every previous culture has. Popping out babies to prop it up sounds both futile and goofy. I care whether my values are preserved, possibly because they are part of my identity and thus implicated by my sense of self-preservation, and possibly just because I value them and want them to prosper. But I don’t really see reproduction as the way to do that. I think greater personal prosperity and freedom for as many people as possible is the best way to propagate those values, because I’ve become convinced they can flourish under those conditions. But that’s a whole other discussion.

    Have kids because you love them, not because you need culture warriors to carry a banner.

    SB,

    Insofar as Mark Frank and Hrun have answered questions, I adopt them. (At least the ones I’ve read. Hopefully they didn’t advocate too much baby-eating in the ones I skimmed.) I share their sentiments for the most part, except for (possibly) some largely irrelevant points about governance. If we need to I’ll unpick the differences, but I don’t think they signify.

    As I said, I’ll try to get to your responses when I have time, but given that they’re the bulk of the conversation so far it’s going to take more time than I’ve got. Have a nice day!

  169. 169
    Mark Frank says:

    SB

    Well, I don’t know how that speaks to the issue, Mark. The application of laws with respect to rights can be messy, but the rights themselves are fairly straightforward, ie. freedom of speech, freedom of religious expression, freedom of association, freedom from violence, freedom of assembly etc.

    I don’t think you know what the rights are until you apply them – otherwise they are just words.  Does freedom of speech include confidential personal information, inciting people to violence, to break the law?

    It appears that you don’t think people are entitled to these rights since it is entirely possible that the government and the majority of the people may not grant them to the minority.

    I thought I was reasonably clear on this. I wrote: “in my subjective opinion citizens have some rights which government should avoid transgressing.”

    So you appear to have no mechanism to protect those who are the most vulnerable.

    That doesn’t follow at all. I have a subjective opinion about people’s rights (which as discussed is a bit messy). Both our democracies have mechanisms for protecting rights which are broadly in line with my opinion and thus the most vulnerable.

    You think that the government should grant and withhold rights based on your subjective morality and no one else’s? That is what you seem to be saying. Am I misreading you?

    This gets a bit subtle. I have subjective opinions about
    (a ) the rights government should protect
    (b ) how governments should decide which rights to protect
    The answer to (b ) is not “ask Mark Frank his opinion about (a )”.  I accept that the government needs to consult and take into account other views. It is not a good idea to have a majority vote on this as the whole idea was to protect minorities from the majority. So it needs something more meritocratic and also something longer term so it is not subject to fashion and whim – but not cast in stone either – the right to bear arms never anticipated the kind of weapons now available. In practice our governments have arrived at an answer to ( b) by various means (Magna Carta, Constitution, House of Lords etc) but luckily the result is rights which I (and most people who stop to think about it) accept).

    What I am hoping is that you will come to understand, Mark, is that there is no way to protect the minority unless their natural rights are acknowledged and respected. Thus, the natural moral law is the only real protection for those who are vulnerable. The momentary and changeable whims of the government or of the majority cannot be counted on. There is no reason to believe they will be fair, no matter how much they might enter into debate. Self interest will always be looming in the background. That is why the government, the majority, and the minority should all be subject to the natural moral law, which holds everyone accountable–those who have power and those who do not.

    As I explained above I accept that rights need to be protected by a mechanism which is not subject to momentary and changeable whims of the government or of the majority. I don’t see this requires or is even helped by a natural moral law. We don’t even write them down! It is more to do with mechanisms required to change those rights.

  170. 170
    kairosfocus says:

    LH,

    again, with all due respect and after the clever twists of wording, the issue turns on the IS-OUGHT gap.

    It is clear enough — after many twists, turns and tangents, . . . — that evolutionary materialism and its fellow traveller systems, have no sound basis for ought and end in radical relativism.

    Thus, BTW, your consistent shift from the objective, binding nature of OUGHT to perceptions, beliefs, and balances of power. (Remember, in response to a real world case of kidnapping, indecent assault and murder.)

    Evolutionary materialism et al have no sound answer to the IS-OUGHT gap.

    That implies (however one may overlook or fail to recognise such . . . ) that such radically relativistic schemes end up at might and manipulation making ‘right,’ tempered only by what cost the dominant are willing to pay or risks they are disinclined to run. In short, bankruptcy.

    But then, that is what Plato warned against 2350 years ago:

    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.] 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], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse], and not in legal subjection to them.

    And, it is what the spokesmen for such schemes have ended up admitting or implying. (I note, a couple of dodges aside, you have no serious answer to such admissions on record over the past 30 years by leading spokesmen that have been cited. 100+ million ghosts warn us to take heed to what is dodged.)

    The IS-OUGHT gap is pivotal, and the valid part of Hume’s guillotine argument implies there is but one place where it can be bridged, the foundations of the world.

    Unless of course one now takes up the ethics is illusion modality. But that ends straight in general delusion and self referential incoherence. (Cf here onlookers, on objectivity of ethics.)

    We have no good reason to say to the ghost of that poor little boy, that his murder was anything but a real wrong, something that really ought not to have been done.

    We are back at we have no good reason to dismiss our awareness that murder etc are wrong as merely subjective and psycho-socially grounded, and every reason to believe we really are governed by ought as those with responsible freedom; thus we face the question of a world-foundation IS that grounds OUGHT.

    As I have pointed out, after centuries of trying every possibility but that and failing signally, there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    In that light, we may then refer to the US DOI of 1776 as a good point of in principle reference, that challenges us to reformation. Yes, its authors were flawed, and were trapped in systems that pivoted on wrongs, but they had the courage to point to the way forward.

    One that still speaks to us and rebukes the clever rhetorical, agit-prop and legalistic games that are ever so prevalent. And, gives us a good first plumb line test for the way of justice, on the many more things that are admittedly genuinely difficult to solve:

    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 . . . .

    KF

  171. 171
    Mark Frank says:

    KF

    Subjectivism, and Hume, recognise that the IS-OUGHT gap cannot be bridged at all – not even by a deity. So to attack it for not be able to bridge the gap is rather missing the point.

  172. 172
    Silver Asiatic says:

    SA: In the relativist model, insincerity and lying should maintain equal moral status with truth-telling and sincere conviction.

    MF: Why? In the subjectivist (which is not the same as the relativist) model moral status depends on the individual – that’s why it is subjective.

    In the model itself, no greater or lesser moral weight can be given to any human act since each can be selected as moral or immoral by any and every individual within the model.

    In the model, all human acts are equivalent. The individual can choose to assign good or evil to any of them — even without having a reason to assign one or the other, and even without being consistent or sincere in doing so.

    When an individual accepts the subjectivist (or relativist which is the same on this point), all human acts are available with equivalency. Lying and truth-telling have the same value.

    The individual can then assign values, or not, for a reason or for no reason.

  173. 173
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun0815 @ 168

    One has to wonder, though, how how the overlap is between subjectivists and relativists.

    I think that’s ‘how big the overlap is’. I think the biggest difference is that, paradoxically, subjectivism could refer to a moral standard. A person could choose, on a subjective basis (not because God commands it) to follow the 10 commandments as a moral rule strictly and faithfully no matter what, for one’s entire life.

    Relativism would not allow a decision like that. The relativist could not bind himself to a standard given that conditions can change in the future. It could happen that the 10 commandments were maintained, but only accidentally in the face of a response to changed conditions in the future.

  174. 174
    hrun0815 says:

    You are correct in your reading, Silver Asiatic.

    And yes, a subjectivist could be indeed a moral absolutist. Can objectivists be moral relativists, too? I guess there is no logical reason why they couldn’t (there is objective right and wrong, but it is still context-dependent).

    The interesting thing is that I would judge every single person I met as a subjective relativist. Nobody can ascertain a moral objective standard (even if there is such a thing) so they act exactly the same way a subjectivist does. Likewise, everybody I know has some nuanced understanding of the morality of certain acts like killing another person (e.g. killing for self defense, accidental killing, killing by soldiers, murder for material gain, murder for pleasure, murder with torture, …) or take something more being like lying (e.g. lying to protect somebody, lying to your children about santa, white lies, lies to get material advantage, lying to get a whole nation into war, …).

    Yet, even though, in my eyes everybody acts like a subjective relativist people nevertheless are convinced that they actually believe in objective and absolute morals.

  175. 175
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun0815

    You might take your own advice on clarity …

    Nobody ascertain a moral objective standard (even if there is such a thing) so they act exactly the same way a subjectivist does.

    Nobody ascertains?
    Nobody can ascertain?

    I don’t understand what you’re saying. Moral standards exist as non-subjective entities. Anybody can access and choose to adopt them for a variety of reasons.

    Subjectivists can choose or create their own moral code for the value it has to them subjectively and not for its value external to the person (from the authority of its source).

  176. 176
    hrun0815 says:

    Silver Asiatic, yes, the sentence was missing a ‘can’. I edited the post.

    And yes, I understand if this is still unclear.

    Nobody ascertain a moral objective standard (even if there is such a thing) so they act exactly the same way a subjectivist does.

    What I mean to say is not that they act exactly the same way a subjectivist does, but that it is impossible to tell apart a objectivist and a subjectivist by their actions alone.

    I hope that this clarifies what I mean.

  177. 177
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, Hume is demonstrably in error. He is right to raise the point that moving is is is, jump to ought is non sequitur. But, at world foundation level, an IS that grounds ought is possible. Specifically, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being. Thus, the basis for ethics is in-built into reality from its root. And in that IS, we automatically have ought, inseparable and non arbitrary. So, the gap is bridged at the one point where such a bridge is possible: ontologically and morally foundational, non-arbitrary and inseparable. KF

  178. 178
    Cross says:

    Zachriel @ 159

    My fault but I have not made things clear.

    I fully accept that we humans both in the past and today have confused and changed what we think is right and wrong. I put this down to our fallen nature. I believe we are created in the image of God and that is the reason there is such underlining consensus of what is right and wrong, a built in straight line if you will. Yes, our fallen nature causes us to get it wrong, ignore right for what we want and so on. Of cause those that don’t believe in God and ultimate justice feel free to go there own way.

    My question is how does a materialist view this. My understanding of the materialist position is that the mind, the I, is an emergent property of a physical evolved brain and an illusion, ie we really don’t have free will, it’s an illusion. How then, do you explain a general consensus on many moral issues if we are just randomly firing neurons?

    LH @ 172

    Thanks for the clarification. For me the above is evidence of a built in spiritual dimension and straight line.

    PS: I am an Aussie so different time zone, I can’t always answer straight away.

  179. 179
    rhampton7 says:

    When an individual accepts the subjectivist (or relativist which is the same on this point), all human acts are available with equivalency. Lying and truth-telling have the same value.

    If a nazi asks if you are hiding any jews (and you are) what is more moral, telling the truth or lying?

  180. 180
    Zachriel says:

    Cross: My understanding of the materialist position is that the mind, the I, is an emergent property of a physical evolved brain and an illusion, ie we really don’t have free will, it’s an illusion.

    That’s certainly not the only view held by materialists. Free will is more akin to a sensation, often based on an appraisal of one’s freedom relative to circumstance. For instance, a person in chains doesn’t feel free; while a person who can choose chocolate feels free — even if we can show biochemically why the person chooses chocolate.

    Cross: How then, do you explain a general consensus on many moral issues if we are just randomly firing neurons?

    Neurons don’t fire randomly, and it’s reasonable to expect that social mammals will evolve moral sensibilities to help them live socially.

  181. 181
    Cross says:

    Zachriel @ 185

    “The idea of emergence, in which complex behavior spontaneously emerges out of simple interactions, exists in a wide variety of areas, such as economics, the Internet, and urban development. But perhaps the ultimate example of emergence is in the brain, where thousands of randomly firing neurons spontaneously reach a coherent state of collective, periodic firing that underlies all brain functions.” from richarddawkins.net

    Could you explain how you believe that moral sensibilities are passed on by evolution, ie what is the mechanism?

  182. 182
    Zachriel says:

    Cross: where thousands of randomly firing neurons spontaneously reach a coherent state of collective, periodic firing that underlies all brain functions

    That says the result is coherent and periodic.

    Cross: Could you explain how you believe that moral sensibilities are passed on by evolution, ie what is the mechanism?

    The basic mechanism is kin selection, but you may as well start with simple nurturing. A mammalian female, and often the male, show affection for their young, and sometimes for each other.

    As for kin selection, a group of organisms may be more fit through cooperation than individual organisms. Groups of humans that tend to stick together generally outperform groups of humans without social cohesion. This is harnessed through empathy, love, embarrassment, recognition, and other forms of social bonding.

  183. 183
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7 (pardon . . . ), it is long since well known that there is a priority in values, life first; hence the longstanding concept of lesser of evils . . . as in what we have to choose in every election. The attempt to dredge up outdated “values clarification” tactics of throwing morals into contradiction, fails. KF

  184. 184
    Cross says:

    Zachriel @ 188

    “That says the result is coherent and periodic.” After thousands of randomly firing neurons.

    I will look into “kin selection” in detail and get back.

    In my time zone it’s “work time” so will respond later. Cheers

  185. 185
    Zachriel says:

    Cross: After thousands of randomly firing neurons.

    More of a cacophony.

  186. 186
    hrun0815 says:

    But, at world foundation level, an IS that grounds ought is possible.

    Just because it is possible does not make it so.

    Specifically, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    And calling God necessary does not make God’s existence any more likely.

    Thus, the basis for ethics is in-built into reality from its root.

    Just because you have two hypothetical assertions does not mean your ‘thus’ logically follows. You simply added a third unsupported assertion.

    And what follows is simply more unsupported assertion.

    (No doubt there’ll be a giant amount of word salad to follow.)

  187. 187
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Hampton

    If a nazi asks if you are hiding any jews (and you are) what is more moral, telling the truth or lying?

    It depends on your moral standard. For a subjectvist either act can be chosen for whatever reason.

  188. 188
    kairosfocus says:

    HR,

    First, I must deal with an attempted, ad hominem laced rhetorical lockout. If you speak in compressed, context based short form, you are “unsuported,” if you take time to expand to first responsible level in the context of blog comments, you have presented a “word salad” to be dismissed as empty verbiage. Heads HR wins, tails KF loses.

    No great surprise, on track record HR. Please do better.

    Instead, we are dealing with worldview foundation matters which at full bore responsible professional level may come down to a 1-paragraph or a 1-page skeletal list of propositions and conclusions, but will then take maybe 50 pp each with onward extensive bibliography, to fully back up each proposition.

    I won’t do that, instead I will respond through clip-comment enumerated points, inserting KF and HR as necessary, and pointing onwards to where there is more than adequate substantiation.

    First, the exchange with MF, to give context:

    176 Mark Frank January 15, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    KF

    Subjectivism, and Hume, recognise that the IS-OUGHT gap cannot be bridged at all – not even by a deity. So to attack it for not be able to bridge the gap is rather missing the point.

    182 kairosfocus January 15, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    MF, Hume is demonstrably in error. He is right to raise the point that moving is is is, jump to ought is non sequitur. But, at world foundation level, an IS that grounds ought is possible. Specifically, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being. Thus, the basis for ethics is in-built into reality from its root. And in that IS, we automatically have ought, inseparable and non arbitrary. So, the gap is bridged at the one point where such a bridge is possible: ontologically and morally foundational, non-arbitrary and inseparable. KF

    This last, you snipped some of and attempted to counter. My responses appear after the clips:

    >> KF: But, at world foundation level, an IS that grounds ought is possible.

    HR: Just because it is possible does not make it so.>>

    1 –> The context is modes of being, where an impossible candidate being such as a square circle has contradictory core characteristics and cannot be actualised in any possible world.

    2 –> Of possible beings, there are two types, contingent and necessary. The former, will be present/absent in at least one each possible world, but a necessary being will be present in any possible world.

    3 –> To understand the latter consider the truth symbolised, 2 + 3 = 5, and ask, whether there are any states of affairs in any conceivable coherent world where this will not be? Patently not, this always was, will always be so, did not begin, cannot cease.

    4 –> In addition, reflection on a fire and its necessary causal factors [heat, fuel, oxidiser, chain reaction] will show how such are on/off enabling factors so that as fire fighters know, knock any one out and it cannot begin or must cease.

    5 –> A possible being that is contingent will have such dependence on on/off external factors. A necessary one, will not.

    6 –> Where, nothing is just that, no-thing, non-being. So if ever there were utter nothing, as non-being has no causal powers that would forever obtain.

    7 –> That is, if something now is, something always was; there is a necessary being at the causal root of reality.

    8 –> The issue at stake, then, is WHICH candidate is best grounded. Where also, spontaneous origin from non-being is absurd, self-cause of contingent being is absurd, and (for the same reason you cannot count up successively to a transfinite number) an infinite causal succession cannot be traversed in successive steps to arrive at the present.

    9 –> Where also, by the nature of necessity of being, if a serious candidate necessary being is possible [not blocked by inherent contradictions] it will be actual.

    >> KF: Specifically, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    HR: And calling God necessary does not make God’s existence any more likely.>>

    10 –> God, is a serious candidate necessary being, self-sufficient and eternal. That is a core facet of what God is.By contrast, parodies such as flying spaghetti monsters or pink unicorns etc are patently contingent and fail to even be comparable.

    11 –> So, the issue is not about likelihood, but possibility vs impossibility. To dismiss God as causal root of reality — given that there is a necessary being there [as already shown], you need to show his existence is impossible, not merely unlikely.

    12 –> Nor, does unpalatable or dismissed a priori (duly dressed up in a lab coat) properly count as unlikely. Where, this is a 101 level look at a body of evidence that is held to ground the reality of God in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, noting that literally millions across the ages and the face of the globe stand in joint testimony to miracle-working, life-transforming power of God manifested in the face of Christ.

    13 –> This includes on a personal note, the very fact that I am alive to type this comment. For, apart from a prayer-answering miracle of guidance to the right doctor who would otherwise have been utterly unlikely to have been found at the point of crisis, I would be dead 40 years past now.

    14 –> Where, the onlooker is invited to ponder the implications of such a wide body of people being utterly deluded, for the general credibility of the self aware, reasoning, warranting, knowing mind.

    >>KF: Thus, the basis for ethics is in-built into reality from its root.

    HR: Just because you have two hypothetical assertions does not mean your ‘thus’ logically follows. You simply added a third unsupported assertion.>>

    15 –> I spoke in compressed suggestive form to someone trained in phil, in the context of worldviews and world foundations.

    16 –> That implied backdrop includes the context outlined above and much more. (Onlookers, for a 101 introduction cf. here. For a first level discussion of the modal ontological argument implicit in the discussion (as it is the strand of argument on God that brings out key facets of his core character) and linked background cf here, noting that an updated, extended form of Godel’s argument has recently been favourably assessed by theorem prover analysis, cf here.)

    17 –> Nope it is not two hypothetical assertions, implying lack of empirical warrant and suggesting question-begging. I am speaking to a serious context, on serious evidence and on matters tied to the logic of existence and cause in light of the patent fact that we are contingent beings in a credibly [cf Big Bang and fine tuning issues] contingent world.

    >>And what follows is simply more unsupported assertion.>>

    18 –> Cf above and onward.

    19 –> I add, that a part of the evidence is our self-aware mindedness and the general testimony of conscience that we are under government of OUGHT. That is even implicit in your objection as you suggest I fail to warrant, implying a duty.

    20 –> As shown above, such is often viewed as illusory, psycho-socially and/or genetically conditioned by adherents of evo mat and fellow traveller views. But, this leads to the challenge of general delusion and undermining of responsible rational freedom.

    21 –> That is the context in which Hume’s objection is answered by pointing to world foundation level and inviting analysis of candidate beings to ground such moral government.

    22 –> As noted, after centuries of debates, there is but one serious candidate, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being as root of reality.

    23 –> If you would dismiss that, simply proceed to put forth another serious candidate. Then, let us assess on comparative difficulties.

    24 –> In short, get your own IS capable of properly grounding OUGHT.

    KF

  189. 189
    Dionisio says:

    KF,

    Thank you for responding to my post #94 and for your insightful comments.
    Who would have thought that my request for your opinion will be followed by 100 posts 2 days later.

  190. 190
    hrun0815 says:

    Yes KF. Indeed you did it. You did write a giant word salad full of pretend-arguments as if they logically follow from the previous points. Yet, all you did was to couch your statements and assertions in bigger words and add things like ‘as already shown’ when you did no such thing.

    To use your words “the onlooker is invited to ponder the implications of” your continued attempt to pass of unconnected statements and assertions as a coherent argument in the teeth of repeated corrections over the years.

    end

  191. 191
    kairosfocus says:

    HR, you have responded with dismissive loaded language and assertions, not substance. We await that substance. KF

    PS: While we wait, we may read here and here at 101 level, and here at more advanced level.

  192. 192
    hrun0815 says:

    HR, you have responded with dismissive loaded language and assertions, not substance. We await that substance. KF

    🙂 This takes delusion to a whole new level. You really are convinced that by inserting ‘–>’ or ‘thus’ or citations to well known people you are actually constructing an argument rather than just putting a whole bunch of assertions and statements into a numbered list.

    I am not sure whether this is more puzzling or the fact that you are utterly convinced that you figured out a proof for God’s existence that eluded so many over the years.

  193. 193
    Mark Frank says:

    KF #182
    I appreciate your comment being so concise.

    MF, Hume is demonstrably in error. He is right to raise the point that moving is is is, jump to ought is non sequitur. But, at world foundation level, an IS that grounds ought is possible. Specifically, the inherently good Creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    One of the key propositions of subjectivism is:

    (A ) The is-ought gap cannot be bridged at any level and that does not make morality absurd or trivial.
    As several people have pointed out it is often hard to know what you mean, but in #175 and elsewhere I get the impression you assume (A ) is false – the gap must be bridged – and then you argue that therefore evolutionary materialism is at fault for not bridging it.

  194. 194
    kairosfocus says:

    MF,

    if you look carefully you will see that I do not draw upon a grounding of OUGHT in IS, but to a grounding in an IS who is also the basis of OUGHT.

    Thus, the bridge is ontological not logical as such. That is the context in which I pointed to the key candidate to fit that: the inherently good, Creator-God who is a necessary and maximally great being.

    That is, we parallel:

    OUGHT–> OUGHT –> . . . INHERENTLY GOOD GROUND OF BEING

    IS –> IS –> . . . GROUND OF BEING who is necessary and maximally great

    The candidate Ground of being (aka root of being, etc etc) is the inherently good, necessary and maximally great Creator God.

    Where, it is clear why the root of reality must be necessary, the real debate is the candidate.

    As noted, there is but one such serious candidate. And by inherently good and maximally great, we see that the issues of Good ontologically independent of God or a synonym for his arbitrary imposition etc, are answered.

    A serious candidate necessary being, of course will either be impossible or possible in at least one possible world, and if so, in all possible worlds, thence the actual one.

    The pivotal issues on the table are:

    is God as outlined an impossible being, like a square circle? [If so claimed, why?]

    are we actually under the force of OUGHT? [An objection that can be made only by those who abandon the problem of evil as an objection to God intended to show God as incoherent. Answered by the Free Will Defense, which also in a Judaeo-Christian context takes in the inductive forms.]

    is our sense of ought in effect a genetically and/or psychosocially induced illusion that works for the pragmatic purposes of herd behaviour promoting group survival? [If so, what does that imply for the issue of a general delusion, thence no firewall thence undermining of self aware rational mindedness.]

    etc.

    KF

  195. 195
    kairosfocus says:

    HR, the attempt to dismiss by assertion without substantiation, in a context of an intended head I win tails you lose, falls of its own weight. KF

  196. 196
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    What I mean to say is not that they act exactly the same way a subjectivist does, but that it is impossible to tell apart a objectivist and a subjectivist by their actions alone.

    I disagree. You can observe different behaviors among each. When explaining the reason for his actions (which is a human behavior), the subjectivist will reference his own personal values. The objectivist will reference an external moral code – which he either lives up to or fails to adhere to. The objectivist will teach and explain that moral code with emphasis on the authority of the code as the reason for accepting it. The subjectivist will not do that.

    This is important if we want to judge the reason why a person does things.

  197. 197

    hrun0815 said:

    What I mean to say is not that they act exactly the same way a subjectivist does, but that it is impossible to tell apart a objectivist and a subjectivist by their actions alone.

    Actually, it’s fairly easy to tell moral subjectivists and objectivists apart; actual moral subjectivists are called sociopaths. There’s a difference between using “moral subjectivism” as an intellectual anti-theistic firewall in a debate and actually being (living as) a moral subjectivist.

    Outside of sociopaths, everyone acts and thinks like a moral objectivist – even those who argue against it.

  198. 198
    hrun0815 says:

    I disagree. […]

    That seems a little bit like pedantics to me. Yes, of course, if they profess that their are either a subjectivist or an objectivist then you can tell them apart. And if you include that behavior into the category ‘their actions alone’ then you are absolutely correct to disagree.

    However, if we want to travel down that path then we can still disagree. They could be lying when they explain the reason for their actions. So then it is still not possible to accurately tell them apart. Unless you can point to decisions that are definingly different between the two groups.

    By the way, if you actually talk to subjectivists in a bit more detail you will find that they also will teach and explain that moral code’ and they will emphasize ‘the reason for accepting it’. They only thing I can not see a subjectivist to is to emphasize the authority of the code. However, virtually everybody I know (and a number of examples here) happily speculate on the origin of the code.

  199. 199
    hrun0815 says:

    Outside of sociopaths, everyone acts and thinks like a moral objectivist – even those who argue against it.

    We had this already, WJM. You are bringing in the word sociopath, but the gist of your ‘argument’ has been brought up multiple times before.

    Thanks for that contribution.

  200. 200
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    They could be lying when they explain the reason for their actions. So then it is still not possible to accurately tell them apart.

    Polygraphs

    By the way, if you actually talk to subjectivists in a bit more detail you will find that they also will teach and explain that moral code’ and they will emphasize ‘the reason for accepting it’.

    In all my discussions with subjectivists, I’ve never seen that. I don’t see any evidence that subjectivists have a defined moral code.

    They only thing I can not see a subjectivist to is to emphasize the authority of the code.

    Right, because the ‘code’ (which I only see as arbitrary and incoherently assembled values) is personal. It doesn’t reference an authority.

    However, virtually everybody I know (and a number of examples here) happily speculate on the origin of the code.

    The origin is from the person.

  201. 201
    hrun0815 says:

    WJM, I also thank you for reminding me of the famous ‘steers and queers’ quote. I realize that ‘liars and sociopaths’ doesn’t have the same ring to it, but good try nevertheless.

  202. 202
    hrun0815 says:

    hrun: By the way, if you actually talk to subjectivists in a bit more detail you will find that they also will teach and explain that moral code’ and they will emphasize ‘the reason for accepting it’.

    SA: In all my discussions with subjectivists, I’ve never seen that. I don’t see any evidence that subjectivists have a defined moral code.

    I would suggest you read through the posts here by Learned Hand if you are truly interested. It may give a you marginally different view of subjectivists in your day to day life. Now you may reject the moral code, you may question the origin of the code, the reasons to accept them, or anything else. That might lead to increased understanding. However the claim that subjectivists are unwilling to explain themselves (with regards to the points in the previous post) just seems a bit disingenuous when in this very same thread there is ample evidence to the contrary.

  203. 203
    hrun0815 says:

    Polygraphs

    Ah yes, that might also be a way to prove WJM correct. Give subjectivists a polygraph to figure out if they are either sociopaths or lying, closet-objectivists. 🙂

  204. 204

    The problem inherent in arguments for subjective morality is often that those arguing for subjectivism employ terminology that is unavailable to their argument, such as X “is wrong” or “is immoral”. That phrasing obfuscates what the subjectivist must mean as opposed to what an objectivist means when they say the same thing.

    Normally, especially in a debate like this, one would use terms and phrasings that distinguish between personal preference and an implied reference to an objective ruling/measurement. In regular conversation, there would be a situational understanding, like: “No, that’s the wrong color shoes to go with your outfit.” where the term “wrong” would be understood as a strong expression of personal aesthetics.

    Usually, the line is drawn more distinctly: “It’s not the right choice for me, but it might be for you.” In a debate about morality, leaving off the qualifying terminology undermines the clarity of the argument and the capacity to recognize logical errors.

    What does it mean when a supposed moral subjectivist says, “It’s wrong for others to do X”? Since “doing X” cannot actually in itself “be wrong” under moral subjectivism, in the sense that 2+2=25 is “wrong”, or in the sense that “red + blue = green” is wrong, it must be meant in either a personal or a perceived social sensibility manner, like, “Serving guacamole with halibut is so wrong” or “voting for Romney is wrong”.

    When it comes to moral subjectivists, “it’s wrong to rape” or “it’s wrong to torture” cannot be anything more than statements of subjective personal or social-sensibility preference, even if they are very strongly felt and believed; the onus is on the individual to recognize that their preference is just that – a personal preference (even if writ large to a social sensibility).

    The question for so-called moral subjectivists is: outside of morality and ethics, would you feel comfortable forcing others to adhere to your personal preferences or your social sensibilities? Are you comfortable forcing people to not serve guacamole with halibut, or forcing them to not vote for Romney?

    Now, are you comfortable intervening and forcing someone to stop raping or toturing another person?

    This is the line where the obfuscating phrasing cannot go beyond, and it is where supporters of moral subjectivism cast their gaze away from the obvious distinction; even the moral subjectivist agrees that forcing personal preferences or social sensibilities upon others is itself immoral. They will fight against such things as a negative social sensibility against various minorities and certainly against individuals forcing their personal preferences on others.

    Hypocritically, though, that’s all that morality is in their worldview; they are guilty of doing the very thing they deem immoral in the first place; in fact, their entire moral mechanism of forcing others to abide their personal preferences or social sensibilities is one they see as immoral everywhere else. They would force a freedom from religion, as if forcing religion on others was in principle different. They would force others to treat minorities equally, but enslaving them is using the exact same in-principle rationale.

    Moral subjectivists want there to be some kind of distinction between “morality” and other personal preferences and social sensibilities to purchase a rationale for imposing their views on others, and will refer to moral views as “really strong” feelings; but, no matter how strong those feelings are, unless they posit morality as something else in principle than subjective feelings or social sensibilities, their behavior is the in-principle equivalent of any other moral view.

    But, they certainly do not behave that way; they behave (like any moral objectivist) as if they have some authority and obligation beyond what can be accounted for by personal preference and social sensibility, no matter how strong such feelings are. There is an operational boundary between what one is willing to do for what one recognizes as matters of subjective personal taste and social sensibility, and what one is willing to do in cases where an objective, necessary and self-evident boundary is being crossed.

    No amount of equivocation can hide the difference in how one behaves when it comes to serious moral matters and matters of personal preference/social sensibility.

  205. 205

    hrun0815 said:

    WJM, I also thank you for reminding me of the famous ‘steers and queers’ quote. I realize that ‘liars and sociopaths’ doesn’t have the same ring to it, but good try nevertheless.

    I think that most people that consider themselves moral subjectivists honestly believe they are moral subjectivists and honestly believe morality is a subjective commodity. I wouldn’t call anyone under the influence of one or more cognitive biases a “liar”.

    It is clear that for non-sociopaths, morality is universally treated as a categorically different commodity than personal preference, feelings, or social sensibilities, even if one’s cognitive bias refuses to admit it. Morality is universally treated (by non-sociopaths) as an objective, real commodity that transcends personal preference and social constructs, which accounts for our capacity, willingness and sense of duty to intervene as a matter of right and obligation against the personal preferences of others and even the social sensibility, and why we will do so even at great risk to ourselves and loved ones.

  206. 206
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    Give subjectivists a polygraph to figure out if they are either sociopaths or lying, closet-objectivists.

    Moral objectivists can use the term sociopath with some meaning. Subjectivists cannot use the term – it is meaningless in the subjectivist model.

    A subjectivist cannot determine that another person’s behavior is immoral.

  207. 207
    hrun0815 says:

    Yes, yes, WJM. TL;DR about your whole diatribe. You made yourself clear in 203 already.

    However, I also want to thank you for, maybe unwillingly, make something clear.

    There is a fundamental misconception at play here, and that is that subjectivists have choice about their morals. I can not chose my morals. I can not see one action as moral right now and then chose to see it as immoral. The morals are subjectivist but not arbitrarily interchangeable through choice alone.

    It is eerily how similar this is to the debate about homosexuality. I am perfectly happy with how this is playing out in the population as a whole and the political arena in specifics. Let’s see, maybe eventually there will be a similar shift in public attitudes about subjectivist morality… even though it’s probably there already. It’s just that UD is far from representative.

  208. 208
    hrun0815 says:

    Moral objectivists can use the term sociopath with some meaning. Subjectivists cannot use the term – it is meaningless in the subjectivist model.

    A subjectivist cannot determine that another person’s behavior is immoral.

    Sigh.

    Let me put it this way:

    It is eerily how similar this is to the debate about homosexuality. I am perfectly happy with how this is playing out in the population as a whole and the political arena in specifics. Let’s see, maybe eventually there will be a similar shift in public attitudes about subjectivist morality… even though it’s probably there already. It’s just that UD is far from representative.

    And while we wait for some fossils to catch up with reality all those moral subjectivists like me will continue to make moral judgements, use terms like sociopaths, and continue living in the secular world where fortunately the influence of such attitudes is waning.

  209. 209
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    I can not chose my morals. I can not see one action as moral right now and then chose to see it as immoral. The morals are subjectivist but not arbitrarily interchangeable through choice alone.

    If true, that’s why subjectivism is so evil and dangerous.
    A subjectivist sees revenge killing as moral. No amount of education can help him cannot choose to see it as immoral.

  210. 210
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    catch up with reality all those moral subjectivists like me will continue to make moral judgements, use terms like sociopaths, and continue living in the secular world where fortunately the influence of such attitudes is waning.

    It may be true that secular society has more tolerance today for Islamic extremism although it didn’t seem that way from the reaction in Paris recently.

  211. 211
    Andre says:

    HRUN0815

    So how do we test that your morals are more true than mine? If eating your children is perfectly acceptable to me in morally subjective terms, you can have no beef with me about it can you? In your world you’re not even entitled to any option about it.

  212. 212

    hrun0815 said:

    Yes, yes, WJM. TL;DR about your whole diatribe

    As expected – fairly common symptom of various forms of cognitive bias.

    There is a fundamental misconception at play here, and that is that subjectivists have choice about their morals. I can not chose my morals. I can not see one action as moral right now and then chose to see it as immoral. The morals are subjectivist but not arbitrarily interchangeable through choice alone.

    I also suspect you don’t arbitrarily choose your favorite color or flavor of ice cream, or whether or not you like escargot. However, I doubt you would consider it moral to force those personal, subjective commodities on others.

    It is eerily how similar this is to the debate about homosexuality. I am perfectly happy with how this is playing out in the population as a whole and the political arena in specifics. Let’s see, maybe eventually there will be a similar shift in public attitudes about subjectivist morality… even though it’s probably there already. It’s just that UD is far from representative.

    Only a sociopath can be “perfectly happy” with whatever society does regardless of what it does; would you be perfectly happy with a public policy of torturing and beheading all LBGT’s? Or, would you fight against it, sheltering them in defiance of public sentiment?

    But, I doubt the certainty of your conclusion (that no obejctive morality exists) grants any motivation for such introspective examination.

  213. 213

    A good question for moral subjectivists:

    Is it moral to force what are ultimately personal preferences (no matter how strongly felt) on others?

  214. 214
    hrun0815 says:

    A subjectivist sees revenge killing as moral. No amount of education can help him cannot choose to see it as immoral.

    You say this, but I am willing to bet that you are unable to show that moral subjectivists are more likely to see revenge killing as moral.

    For example, my guess is that in devout Muslim countries that likely have a high proportion of moral objectivists the rate of revenge and honor killings is likely very high. Yes, in predominantly secular nations, let’s pick Sweden or Finland the rate of revenge killings is likely low. And if you feel like it you can go ahead and break down such killing in individual countries into like moral objectivists and subjectivists. You might be surprised.

    Of course, you might also be surprised to find that every single morals subjectivist here in this thread will tell you that they DO NOT see revenge killings a moral. In fact, I’m sitting here at the computer with my mouth agape slowly shaking my head as I type this since it is incomprehensible to me that you could be under such a misconception.

  215. 215
    hrun0815 says:

    So how do we test that your morals are more true than mine?

    You don’t. You can’t test of morals are true in general. You can only try to figure out what your morals are.

    Counterquestion. Andre, so how do we test that your morals are more true than mine?

  216. 216
    Mark Frank says:

    #219 WJM

    Answer – it depends – I am balancing my disapproval of forcing people to do things they don’t want to do against my disapproval of what I am preventing them doing. I find mass murder so very (subjectively) morally wrong that I feel justified in preventing people doing it. I find turning up late for dinner very mildly immoral and it can only justify a mild complaint.

    All of which is much the same as you would do I think. I don’t think you would find it moral to force people to accept some of the milder aspects of the natural moral law. It is of course one the repellent aspects of IS etc that they find it moral to enforce relatively mild aspects of their law.

  217. 217
    hrun0815 says:

    Is it moral to force what are ultimately personal preferences (no matter how strongly felt) on others?

    Surprisingly, for a moral subjectivist and a moral objectivist that depends on the situation. How about you give me a situation where you feel it is moral and one where it is not and I will tell you what I think about it.

  218. 218

    Mark Frank,

    Then your answer is that it is moral to force what are ultimately personal preferences on others.

    Correct?

    Therefore, by definition, mass murderers are behaving as morally as you, by their own equally valid moral perspective, correct?

    Thus, the only thing that really matters (in any real terms) when it comes to morality is not a question about “morality” at all, but rather who has the greater power (in whatever sense matters) to enforce their preferences on others, correct?

  219. 219
    Mark Frank says:

    Thus, the only thing that really matters (in any real terms) when it comes to morality is not a question about “morality” at all, but rather who has the greater power (in whatever sense matters) to enforce their preferences on others, correct?

    Matters to whom? It matters to me very much if mass murderers get their way.

    Or do you mean that which moral gets implemented is a question of who has the greatest power? That is of course empirically true as we see round the world. It is bads news and (subjectively) immoral from the point of view of the losers. Luckily for you and I who have broadly similar ideas about morality we also have the power at the moment.

  220. 220
    Mark Frank says:

    WMJ #224

    I forgot to answer the first part.

    Then your answer is that it is moral to force what are ultimately personal preferences on others.

    I as I hope I made clear that is sometimes the case – if my preferences are also moral in nature and deep enough. I also pointed out that you would in practice behave in the same way. Do you agree?

  221. 221
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    You say this, but I am willing to bet that you are unable to show that moral subjectivists are more likely to see revenge killing as moral.

    The debate is about a moral system, not about what a certain individual thinks. The system is what it is. Individuals can hold wildly inconsistent and irrational positions. Atheists can talk like theists. Subjectivists can act like Christians. That means nothing. We don’t judge the system by talking to individuals but by what the system is in itself. To become a moral subjectivist, I don’t need to talk to any subjectivists. I can understand what the moral system is, and apply it to myself.

    This is not a sociological question. It’s a question of an intellectual position and what it entails. What is the meaning of stoicism or epicureanism? This can be discussed and understood without ever having to meet a single Stoic or Epicurean.

    For example, my guess is that in devout Muslim countries that likely have a high proportion of moral objectivists the rate of revenge and honor killings is likely very high.

    And that is perfectly acceptable in the subjectivist model. There is nothing good or evil about revenge killings as acts. Terrorism is a moral choice. In the subjectivist model, terrorism is morally good for any subjectivist to accept. Or it is morally evil on the same basis – personal choice.

    That’s the key issue that you seem to resist here. You have to understand what subjectivism is and what it permits and entails. If a subjectivist decides that terrorism is a moral act, then it is morally good in the subjectivist model.

    Yes, in predominantly secular nations, let’s pick Sweden or Finland the rate of revenge killings is likely low. And if you feel like it you can go ahead and break down such killing in individual countries into like moral objectivists and subjectivists. You might be surprised.

    You’re applying some sort of moral judgements in a sociological context. But you’re avoiding the point – you can’t proceed until you understand it. In the subjectivist model, moral killings are morally good for those who choose them as a moral good value. You are resisting that truth.

    Of course, you might also be surprised to find that every single morals subjectivist here in this thread will tell you that they DO NOT see revenge killings a moral.

    Again, we’re not taking a survey of people’s opinions, but looking at a moral system. The system is what it is. We already explained it. Subjectivism permits any human actions as being morally good. That’s the point you need to deal with. Talking about population trends says nothing. You have to either refute or accept the point: The subjectivist model accepts any and every human action has having equal moral status – it can be assigned as good or evil by any and every individual, for whatever reason.

    Terrorism can be chosen as morally good in the subjectivist model. That’s a point that you need to affirm.

    In fact, I’m sitting here at the computer with my mouth agape slowly shaking my head as I type this since it is incomprehensible to me that you could be under such a misconception.

    I’m open to your counter-point regarding what subjectivsm is. Subjective is an intellectual construct. A model for moral behavior. Any human action has equal moral value under that system. Terrorism, rape, genocide, torture — all can be selected as morally good under subjectivism.

    You’ve said nothing to refute that point.

  222. 222
    hrun0815 says:

    Silver Asiatic: A subjectivist sees revenge killing as moral. No amount of education can help him cannot choose to see it as immoral.

    I follow this up by pointing out that indeed this is not how a subjectivist sees revenge killing. And indeed, I also point out that it is quite likely that seeing revenge killing as moral is a position held more commonly in objectivists.

    So the whole premise is clearly wrong.

    Yet, this does not dissuade you from pontification about how you know what subjectivism entails, what subjectivists are supposed to believe, …

    In the end you fall back onto the WJM argument: ‘Liar’ or ‘Sociopath’– take your pick.

  223. 223
    Silver Asiatic says:

    MF:

    I find mass murder so very (subjectively) morally wrong that I feel justified in preventing people doing it.

    You’re applying a subjectivist, personal moral standard to others, as if it is something objective. That’s where this is inconsistent.

    You’ve elevated your own personal, subjective morality over the personal, subjective morality of others. This is a hierarchical model – your values are more moral than those of others.

    You don’t have a basis to make that decision though. You cannot determine that the mass murderer is acting immorally since he has his own subjective moral values which permit mass murder. His acts are morally good for him, but you would prevent him from those acts.

    You could say the same about any human action, for example. You could morally oppose the expression of religion (or homosexuality or political speech) and could prevent others from that expression since your subjective morality would make suppression of others a moral mandate.

    You’d be perfectly justified in oppressing others in the subjectivist model on that very basis.

  224. 224
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Hrun

    I follow this up by pointing out that indeed this is not how a subjectivist sees revenge killing.

    I was proposing: “A subectivist sees …”
    That is not “All subjectivists see”.

    To make it clearer, I could have said “A subjectivist can accept revenge killing as perfectly moral.”

    If you disagree, you need to explain why revenge killing cannot be accepted as a morally good value in the subjectivist model. What prevents that?

  225. 225
    hrun0815 says:

    Subjectivism permits any human actions as being morally good.

    And just because this one stands out yet again: This is incorrect.

    Subjectivism, just like objectivism, let’s any individual judge their own actions as moral or immoral.

    Subjectivism, just like objectivism, let’s any individual judge the actions of others as moral or immoral.

    In all cases only the individual can judge any action as moral or immoral. Individuals might find groups where there is a general agreement on morality (e.g. religions, states, organizations, …) but this does not mean that the group (or the moral belief system) can decide for an individual if it will see any action as moral or not.

  226. 226
    hrun0815 says:

    I was proposing: “A subectivist sees …”
    That is not “All subjectivists see”.

    To make it clearer, I could have said “A subjectivist can accept revenge killing as perfectly moral.”

    If you disagree, you need to explain why revenge killing cannot be accepted as a morally good value in the subjectivist model. What prevents that?

    I agree. How about you answer my question:

    “A objectivist can accept revenge killing as perfectly moral.”

    If you disagree, you need to explain why revenge killing cannot be accepted as a morally good value in the objectivist model. What prevents that?

  227. 227
    rhampton7 says:

    KF 189,

    And at the top of the list of moral priorities is obedience to God. So if he will that you slaughter every man, woman, and child (including the newly born) of a people, you do so regardless of all other moral principles, which are necessarily of lesser moral concern.

  228. 228
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7, evidently you have a problem with understanding the Judaeo-Christian frame of ethics. Accordingly, I now lay out for you the main summary of the core of that ethics, as taught by its main teacher in his most famous sermon. Indeed, the most famous sermon of all time:

    _______________

    >> Matthew 5-7English Standard Version (ESV)
    The Sermon on the Mount

    5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
    The Beatitudes

    2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

    6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

    10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
    Salt and Light

    13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

    14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
    Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
    Anger

    21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[c] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[d] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[e] of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.[f]
    Lust

    27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
    Divorce

    31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
    Oaths

    33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.[g]
    Retaliation

    38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[h] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
    Love Your Enemies

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[i] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    Giving to the Needy

    6 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

    2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    The Lord’s Prayer

    5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

    “Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.[j]
    10 Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,[k]
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    11 Give us this day our daily bread,[l]
    12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.[m]

    14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
    Fasting

    16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

    19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[n] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

    24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.[o]
    Do Not Be Anxious

    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[p] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

    34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
    Judging Others

    7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
    Ask, and It Will Be Given

    7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
    The Golden Rule

    12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[q] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
    A Tree and Its Fruit

    15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
    I Never Knew You

    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
    Build Your House on the Rock

    24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
    The Authority of Jesus

    28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. >>
    _______________

    I will tell you that a view of the ethics of Christian discipleship that is materially at odds with this, is simply wrong.

    And, if you want an in a nutshell on the Christian in community, here is the Apostle to the nations, in a key summary passage:

    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 [or, harm] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    Yes, Christians will struggle with such. Yes, there are many special duties or circumstances such as the civil authority who must bear the sword in defence of the civil peace of justice from its enemies, foreign and domestic. Yes, there are complexities of application and more. Yes, but such will always come back to the core.

    Yes, we are finite, fallible, morally struggling, seeking to grow. But, that describes any serious-minded morally upright person.

    Please, think again.

    KF

  229. 229

    Mark Frank said:

    Matters to whom? It matters to me very much if mass murderers get their way.

    Your personal preference is duly noted. Ultimately, all of your moral arguments boil down to “because I prefer it that way”, which would be no different from a subjectivist-morality argument for mass murder. Your willingness to force personal preference on others would be equal to a similar willingness on the part of the mass murderers.

    I as I hope I made clear that is sometimes the case – if my preferences are also moral in nature and deep enough. I also pointed out that you would in practice behave in the same way. Do you agree?

    You say this as if “personal preferences” and “morality” are two separate things, or as if morals are something in addition to being personal preferences.

    However, under subjective morality, others may define “what is moral” differently than you, and may not concern themselves with how “deeply” they feel about a personal preference when interacting with others. Thus, such considerations are entirely irrelevant when debating subjective morality. The fact is, under subjective morality (if one lives in logical accordance with it and honestly describes the nature of it), morality is nothing more than personal preference, and acting on it is entirely a matter of personal predilection.

    Therefore, if one feels it is moral to take slaves or beat their children, it is moral by subjectivist definition. Under moral subjectivism, since what is moral by definition depends on that individual’s personal preferences and proclivities, you (as a logically consistent moral relativist) have no grounds for identifying what someone else is doing as being “immoral”.

    Only that individual can say what is moral for themselves. Under moral subjectivism, morality doesn’t exist as a transpersonal commodity; it is entirely subjective. You have no means by which to evaluate the moral nature of the actions of others.

    You might say that such behavior would be immoral if you were to engage in it; but it is not you who is engaging in it.

    Alternatively, you might say that your morality (preferential feeling) dictates that you force others to comply with your feelings on those occasions, but such action cannot be justified by referring to their actions as “immoral” because that is not logically possible under moral subjectivisim.

    Thus, if you were to force others to comply with your morality, it cannot be “because” they are behaving immorally. It can only be on the basis that, in your moral system, simply forcing others to do as you wish because you feel like it is acceptably moral. Needless to say, that can justify any behavior as “moral”.

    Quite simply, true moral subjectivism is the conscious admission that one is simply forcing their personal preferences on others to whatever degree and in whatever manner they see fit, and living however they feel like living at the time.

    In principle, the difference between that and being a sociopath is just a matter of degree. It’s not a categorical difference.

    I also pointed out that you would in practice behave in the same way. Do you agree?

    I can unequivocally say that I behaved entirely differently during my several-year stint as a moral subjectivist – but then, I was an actual moral subjectivist, not just someone that argues the intellectual point out of ideological bias.

  230. 230
    Learned Hand says:

    Under moral subjectivism, since what is moral by definition depends on that individual’s personal preferences and proclivities, you (as a logically consistent moral relativist) have no grounds for identifying what someone else is doing as being “immoral”.

    I’m just finishing a meeting and heading to dinner, so I hope to come back and engage more later. But I saw this and wanted to respond, because we’ve had this conversation before.

    You have constructed a version of moral subjectivism that has no relationship to the real world, or actual subjectivists. It does not make logical sense because you designed it to be illogical; what difference does that make, when it is not a reflection of how actual human beings think or behave?

    If Alan sees Betty commit an action, Alan may judge Betty’s actions by his own standards and say, “That was immoral.” If Alan is a subjectivist, he will acknowledge that Betty probably disagrees, and that no objective standard exists to resolve the dispute.

    But he still uses his own moral code to assess Betty’s actions. The first step of that process–“That was immoral!”–doesn’t go away. Alan does in fact have “grounds for identifying what someone else is doing as being ‘immoral.'”

    Nor is he required to surrender his judgment because Betty disagrees, even in the absence of an objective standard. Why would he? He has his own moral beliefs, which he prefers–if he preferred Betty’s, he would adopt them.

    Subjectivists may and often do believe that their moral beliefs should be applied to other people. We merely acknowledge that those other people are likely to have their own moral codes, and rely on tools other than appeals to an objective standard to resolve disputes. As do objectivists, in practice.

    This thread has been a fairly steady march of UDers painting grotesque caricatures of moral relativists–sociopaths, liars, moral perverts–and declaring, “This is how those filth think!” It’s not. You, Stephen, Barry and others seem to derive a lot of personal satisfaction from putting horns and fangs on the straw man, but it’s still a straw man.

  231. 231
    Jerad says:

    Pardon me for asking a rather dumb series of questions but:

    If you’re an ‘objectivist’ then you need to have a acknowledged standard that can be applied in all cases to resolve moral issues. Correct?

    A Christian ‘objectivist’ would no doubt refer to the Bible and/or some interpretation therein.

    So . . .how does one choose between different interpretations? Clearly, presently and in the past, Christians (as an example) have differed greatly in their interpretations of their moral code. What decision making process resolves the conflicts?

    Also, how does one include new ‘cases’ which are not explicitly included in the standard? This may just be a matter of interpretation of the standard.

    AND . . . how does one pick between the major objective codes? Meaning: why favour a Christian code over a Muslim one or a Jewish one or a Buddhist one or a Jainist one or a Shintu one or a Zoroastrian one or a Hindu one or a Sikh one or . . . What guides the initial general selection?

    I’m asking because I find it very hard to figure out what anyone’s objective code actually is. Some Christians are okay with homosexual marriage, other are not. It doesn’t sound very object to me if the proclaimed adherents can’t agree. The Church of England recently agreed to accept women bishops. What was the problem? Clearly there was a difference in a moral standard.

  232. 232
    Jerad says:

    Here’s another way to think about my questions . . .

    Let’s say I’m an ‘subjectivist’ who thinks: hang on, these guys have a point, there does have to be an objective moral code. I’m going to look for the one that makes the most sense.

    So, how do I pick amongst the competing codes? Muslim? Jewish? Hindu? Sikh? Jain? Zoroastrian? Christian? Ba’hai? Shintu? Which one?

    AND, if I (say) pick Christianity then how do I decide amongst the varying Christians versions? Catholic? Protestant? Eastern Orthodox? Jehovah’s Witness? Mormon? (They say they are Christians, who decides?)

    From the outside it looks pretty chaotic even amongst the Protestants: some Protestants are okay with evolution, some are not; some Protestants are okay with abortion, some are not; some Protestants are okay with homosexual marriage, some are not.

    You see what I mean? I’m finding it hard to figure out what your objective moral standard is. And I know that in the past Christians have killed fellow Christians over disagreements of their beliefs so you’ll have to explain why your version is ‘right’ ’cause I know there’s been disputes. A lot.

  233. 233
    Mung says:

    Dumb and Dumber.

    Show me a subjectivist who isn’t an objectivist.

    Show me a subjectivist who doesn’t think everyone else OUGHT TO BE a subjectivist.

  234. 234

    Jerad said:

    If you’re an ‘objectivist’ then you need to have a acknowledged standard that can be applied in all cases to resolve moral issues. Correct?

    Certainly not. The issue is whether or not, logically speaking, morality must be grounded as subjective or objective in order for it to make any sense. That’s the only step necessary here: subjective morality is nothing more than (in boiled-down principle) different people forcing others to behave how they prefer because they feel like doing so.

    I contend that is a self-evidently immoral proposition. You shouldn’t force your will on others simply because of strongly felt personal preferences.

    Think of morality like gravity; you don’t need a book or instruction to tell you how to navigate gravity in your every-day life; it’s sewn into the fabric of existence. There may be many books that purport to explain morality in greater detail, just as there may be many theories of gravity.

    However, accepting that it is objective in nature changes your perspective of not only it, but existence and yourself as well. They are two entirely different ways of looking at life.

  235. 235

    Jerad said:

    You see what I mean? I’m finding it hard to figure out what your objective moral standard is.

    If there is an objective moral standard, then like gravity, you don’t require anyone’s help in figuring out how to navigate it (at least to operational functionality). You don’t have to read a book to know not to jump off a cliff.

    The issue here isn’t the particulars (should I do this, and not that?) – conscience is our sensory guide and reason our interpreter when it comes to navigating morality. The issue here is establishing a moral premise that is rationally consistent with how we must live life – at least if we’re not sociopaths.

  236. 236
    Jerad says:

    WJM #241

    The issue here isn’t the particulars (should I do this, and not that?) – conscience is our sensory guide and reason our interpreter when it comes to navigating morality.

    That sounds pretty subjective to me, considering how (it’s obvious) that different people come up with different standards when they follow their conscience. I’m not thinking of murder or rape or such hideous acts. Rather I’m thinking of things like gay marriage and women bishops. Are you saying only people on one side of those issues are being “rationally consistent with how we must live life”? Do you think people who shoot abortion doctors are attempting to force other to abide by their view of what is morally correct?

  237. 237
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerad (and RH7 et al),

    Let’s start with something historically important.

    Something, I have had to draw attention to ever so many times.

    Locke, in Ch 2 sect 5 of his 2nd essay on civil gov’t, in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution of 1688; grounding what would become the basis of modern liberty and democracy.

    The seed-plot from which the American Revolution of a century later would come, which — once it plainly succeeded — became the historic root-stock of modern liberty and democratic self-government by free peoples. (Cf. here on.)

    Here, Locke cites “the judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker” from his 1594+ Ecclesiastical Polity; in a context of thought tracing to both Judaeo-Christian scripture and Aristotle that also affected Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis and Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. Laying out, conscience guided principles of morally coherent reasoning and how they lead to specific precepts for the civil peace of justice in the community:

    . . . 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]

    The echo of Paul’s summary of core Judaeo-Christian morality, drawing on Jesus’ famous sermon cited above, could not be plainer:

    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 [or, harm] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]

    And again:

    Rom 2:14 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 . . .

    Now, Locke in section 5 of the introduction to his essay on human understanding:

    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 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 – 21, Eph 4:17 – 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 – 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 – 14 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. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke’s allusions and citations.]

    First, pause.

    Ask yourself why something so pivotal is nowadays not generally recognised, widely discussed and appreciated.

    Indeed, is largely forgotten.

    What is that telling us about what has become of our education systems as they speak to civics and basic ethics applicable to community life and citizenship, whether formal or informal?

    Jesus had a highly relevant statement on such darkness pretending to be light, in the already cited Sermon that I think deliberately echoes and responds to Plato’s Parable of the Cave:

    Matt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! [ESV]

    And, the root of the objectivity that brings sound rational insight to bear (as opposed to en-darkenment due to shadow shows in a cave masquerading as enlightenment, so called) is patent . . . Hooker, again:

    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 . . . 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

    But then how many really know much less understand the direct extension of this in the US DoI of 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 . . . .

    Notice, the reference to laws of nature and of Nature’s God, and the immediate reference to self-evident moral truths. (Something which, for instance appears in the Dutch DoI of 1581, the first of modern times; which in turn builds on Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos of 1579, in a specifically Calvinistic Reformation context, e.g.: “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 . . .”)

    In short, truths that once we understand the matter based on our experience of the world as self-aware, conscious, en-conscienced minded people we recognise as true and as necessarily true on pain of immediate absurdity on attempted denial. In this case through hopeless inconsistencies: if we have a reasonable expectation of respect to life, liberty and pursuit of fulfillment of creational purpose and calling, so do those who are as we are in nature.

    So, to deny equal rights and justice to those who are as ourselves, is incoherent folly. And directly — as Aristotle aptly outlined — “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.” In Paul’s words:

    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.” Love does no wrong [or, harm] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    In short these primary points of obedience to the law of our nature as morally governed responsibly free and rational creatures are not arbitrary or hard to understand.

    And of course, that is what the law of our nature is about, our core insight into justice being rooted in our self-aware, conscience-illuminated, intelligently minded sense of our inherent value and responsible freedom and rationality. Multiplied by, our having neighbours who are as ourselves.

    So, again . . . “the judicious [Anglican Canon Richard] Hooker”:

    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.”

    If your view of the Judaeo-Christian position on core ethics and on the grounding of OUGHT does not align with these things, it is inaccurate and/or misinformed.

    And, if you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge that we share a common God-given nature and endowment of value that gives us rights, please think again about the implications of “survival of the fittest” in light of the history of the past 100 years or so. Then, at least acknowledge that those of us who do think like that in the Judaeo-Christian tradition do ave a framework for grounding OUGHT and drawing out its implications for living under the civil peace of justice with neighbours who are of the same nature as ourselves.

    One, that is grounded in recognising the general testimony of conscience and mind [rejecting general delusion], and then grounding the binding nature of OUGHT in the IS that can properly ground it: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    The time for dangerously loaded strawman caricatures is over. The times are far too dangerous for such errors to stand uncorrected.

    KF

  238. 238
    Jerad says:

    KF #243

    And, if you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge that we share a common God-given nature and endowment of value that gives us rights, please think again about the implications of “survival of the fittest” in light of the history of the past 100 years or so. Then, at least acknowledge that those of us who do think like that in the Judaeo-Christian tradition do ave a framework for grounding OUGHT and drawing out its implications for living under the civil peace of justice with neighbours who are of the same nature as ourselves.

    One, that is grounded in recognising the general testimony of conscience and mind [rejecting general delusion], and then grounding the binding nature of OUGHT in the IS that can properly ground it: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being.

    I still find it terribly confusing that there are so many conflicting Christians views on things like gay marriage, women bishops, abortion, evolution, etc. If it’s a matter of conscience and mind then why the disagreements? Are you saying some Christians are NOT listening to their inner voice properly? Are they delusional? And if we look at some of the historical doctrinal disagreements there was much bloodshed settling the questions.

    I note that in the US (where something like two-thirds of the population believe that some kind of designer was involved with the biological development of human beings) a majority of states have legalised gay marriage. Are a majority of Americans deluded in some way?

    I hear you saying there is some central ‘truth’ that we can tap into but you seem to be in deep disagreement (over gay marriage) with some of your fellow believers who will also claim to have followed their conscience.

    I’m not creating a strawman, I’m merely pointing out there doesn’t seem to be an agreed upon central ‘truth’.

  239. 239
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: J — at risk of allowing side-tracking into red herrings and ad hominem laced strawmen set alight to poison and polarise the atmosphere, tell us, what is the naturally evident purpose of the differing genital and related organs men and women have, and how that relates to the well known long term requisites of child nurture. Thence, tell us about how marriage naturally links to such. (Take a moment to ponder the havoc therefore wrought by widespread divorce and the warping of our understanding that such inherently creates.) Then, ask yourself what will happen when what is inherently disordered, notoriously insanitary and unhealthy, consequently disease-spreading and more is imposed by force and manipulation under false colour of law and long since falsified claims about genetic in-stamping, warping the foundational institutions of civilisation — marriage and family; being pushed into the formal and informal education systems by those who should know better. Then, ponder the implications of this warning in Scripture:

    Isa 5:18 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,
    who draw sin as with cart ropes . . .
    20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight!

  240. 240
    Jerad says:

    KF #245

    J, tell us, what is the naturally evident purpose of the differing genital and related organs men and women have, and how that relates to the well known long term requisites of child nurture. Thence, tell us about how marriage naturally links to such. (Take a moment to ponder the havoc therefore wrought by widespread divorce and the warping of our understanding that such inherently creates.) Then, ask yourself what will happen when what is inherently disordered, notoriously insanitary and unhealthy, consequently disease-spreading and more is imposed by force and manipulation under false colour of law and long since falsified claims about genetic in-stamping, warping the foundational institutions of civilisation — marriage and family; pushed into the formal and informal education systems by those who should know better.

    I’m not asking for you opinion about gay marriage; I’m asking you to explain how it is that sincere and faithful Christians who are all following their consciences can disagree so strongly on some issues which some consider objective moral issues. Do you think the Christians with whom you disagree with on the gay marriage issue are deluded? Are they really subjectivists?

  241. 241
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerad,

    I remind you of the text above, from the most famous sermon of all time:

    Matt 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[e] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

    24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.[f]

    Money, and other addictive divided loyalties warp our ability to recognise what should be plain, evident truth. And worse, they motivate us to cling to absurdities, warping and benumbing conscience and blinding minds.

    So, we must first see to it that foundations are set right.

    As Paul warned us all but especially those who profess Christian discipleship:

    Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous [–>benumbed in conscience and insight] and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

    20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness . . . .

    Eph 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

    3 But sexual immorality [–> a very broad term is used, porneia] and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

    4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

    6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

    7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

    11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret . . .

    KF

  242. 242
  243. 243
    Me_Think says:

    KF @ 247

    22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

    That’s an insult to all blind people.

  244. 244
    Jerad says:

    KF #247

    Money, and other addictive divided loyalties warp our ability to recognise what should be plain, evident truth. And worse, they motivate us to cling to absurdities, warping and benumbing conscience and blinding minds.

    So, we must first see to it that foundations are set right.

    So, I think you’re acknowledging, that you would consider anyone who disagrees with you about gay marriages, Christians and non-Christians to be following a false path.

    It makes no difference to me, I’m just trying to figure out how you see the moral landscape. But I think you’ve made it as clear as you’re going to.

    In light of your quoted comment I do find it surprising that there aren’t more calls for a return to a monkish, riches-renouncing existence/practice for Christians. I know there are still those who do feel that calling. Interesting that it’s not more widely touted though. None of my business. Just observing.

  245. 245
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerad,

    Red herring sliding away off track. As predicted.

    Let’s call a word: greed.

    Is that what you are advocating as a standard for economic life?

    Jesus warned that greed . . . the idolatry of money where it takes over the loyalties of life to God and neighbour . . . is morally and intellectually and spiritually blinding, something that we acknowledge everytime we ask who paid for study X.

    MT

    The Sermon on the Mount is not in question, you are.

    JWT:

    Most interesting. The same Jesus who said to the woman thrown down at his feet having been caught in adultery [with the Levitical penalty on covenant breach involved]: neither do I condemn you go leave your life of sin said this:

    Matt 19:3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”

    4 He 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.”

    Which, is naturally manifest, as I hinted at above.

    The arbitrary declarations under false colour of law in our time, that serve an admitted destructive end, cannot change such patent facts.

    KF

  246. 246
    Jerad says:

    KF #251

    Red herring sliding away off track. As predicted.

    Let’s call a word: greed.

    Is that what you are advocating as a standard for economic life?

    I don’t think you’ll find that I was advocating anything. I was firstly asking for your opinion, which I think I got. And secondly I was just observing that I hadn’t seen a particular line of thinking overly promulgated in Christian circles when it seems (to me) to be inline with some Christian views.

    Don’t put words in my mouth.

    Jesus warned that greed . . . the idolatry of money where it takes over the loyalties of life to God and neighbour . . . is morally and intellectually and spiritually blinding, something that we acknowledge everytime we ask who paid for study X.

    He was pretty smart!!

    The arbitrary declarations under false colour of law in our time, that serve an admitted destructive end, cannot change such patent facts.

    Democracy isn’t perfect but it’s hard to find anything better.

  247. 247

    Jerad said:

    That sounds pretty subjective to me, considering how (it’s obvious) that different people come up with different standards when they follow their conscience.

    Everything in the objective world is ultimately experienced and interpreted individually. One can debate whether or not the evidence indicates that morality is an objective commodity, but the logic demands that we assume it is objective. Please note that I’m not saying the logic proves it is objective in nature; nobody can prove morality is objective in nature. It’s a question of what we must assume in order to have a morality worth considering in the first place.

    Without an objective morality, there is no morality worth considering because what you end up with is “I do what I feel like doing.” The only reason to dress that up with a term like “morality” is to make it seem like you are doing something other than just whatever you feel like doing.

    Morality is a code of conduct; if a moral subjectivist has a code of conduct, it is a code tailor-fit around their own feelings. As far as I can tell, the only reason for such a tailor-made “code” is to simply hide the nakedness underneath, that you’re just doing what you feel like doing in the first place.

    I’m not thinking of murder or rape or such hideous acts. Rather I’m thinking of things like gay marriage and women bishops.

    Under actual moral subjectivism, such acts are no more hideous, in and of themselves, than any other. They are just subjectively unpalatable to you personally. Calling them “hideous”, under moral subjectivism, is the same thing as calling gay marriage and women bishops “hideous”. It’s just how you personally feel compared to how others feel with no principle or premise that grants any logical distinction between them.

    Are you saying only people on one side of those issues are being “rationally consistent with how we must live life”?

    Note the irrational comparison (under moral subjectivism) you just made between “hideous” acts like murder and “non-hideous” acts like gay marriage, as if you were referencing some principle offering an objective distinction that others logically must agree to, one which shows one to be morally “hideous” and the other not.

    You have no such barometer available under subjectivism, no moral compass that we can all check to see which direction is north (good). All you can be doing here is hoping I happen to “feel” the same way you do about it; thus it is not a logical argument that (so-called) moral subjectivists can offer, but rather only one of appealing to emotions and rhetoric.

    Do you think people who shoot abortion doctors are attempting to force other to abide by their view of what is morally correct?

    Just adopting the view that morality stems from an objective source doesn’t in itself make all of one’s moral views rationally consistent; it is the beginning of the construction of a sound moral framework.

    For instance, divine command morality is based on an objective moral source, but that system renders morality an arbitrary commodity that can change due to the whim of God. Such a kind of objective morality leads to problems that are as bad as subjective morality – IE, people justifying any action they wish by invoking “Divine Command”, or “god told me to do it” or “it says so in the holy book”.

    Please note, you can only be doing one of two things when you make use of the example of killing an abortion doctor:

    1. You can be pleading to what you hope is a similar emotional view (my feelings) under moral subjectivism in the hopes that your words will have an impact on me emotionally and thus alter my personal, subjective view of morality;

    2. You can be referring (even if subconscously) to what some part of you considers an objective moral grounding that others (like myself) should be able to recognize and should be able to use as a logical means of evaluating our own moral views objectively, with not only the capacity to change those views, but the presumed obligation to do so when those views are logically demonstrated to be in error.

    The problem is that under moral subjectivism, there is absolutely no logical reason for me to even care about your argument because my morality is just how I happen to feel about such things, and that is all it can be for you or anyone.

    What you would be attempting to do here, under moral relativism, is the equivalent of attempting to change my mind about being in love with my wife with zero reference to any objective reason for why I should stop loving her and only because you happen to personally dislike my wife. You’re attempting to get me to change my personal feelings even while you admit my personal feelings are just as valid as your own!

    Under moral subjectivism, all you can be doing in this argument is attempting to emotionally manipulate others into changing their personal, subjective morality into being more in line with your own.

    What sound principle can possibly motivate and justify this desire/effort to change what moral subjectivists claim are nothing but the personal feelings of others?

    On the other hand, moral objectivists argue and debate because the consider morality to be an objective commodity with necessary consequences for us all and ultimately for the very existence we cohabit; moral subjectivists have no reason to argue other than from the simple, selfish desire to get others to subjectively feel the same way they do about various behaviors.

    Moral objectivism offers the capacity to have a logical debate about what is actually moral by necessarily assuming morality has some sort of objective basis, and offers a sound reason why individuals should attempt to find and live in accordance with that morality, and why it matters to be moral instead of immoral.

    Subjective morality only offers rhetorical manipulations vial emotional pleading by those who just want others to give into their emotional pleading for no reason other than that it will make them feel better.

  248. 248
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerad, do you forget your response to my earlier citation, “monkish”? Sorry, that’s your word and I responded to it by highlighting what the remarks on Mammon, money turned into a god, have historically been understood to mean. Jesus drew out the insight on blindness coming from such distorted ultimate loyalties, and the idolatry of greed. It of course applies a lot more widely than that. KF

    PS: Read and listen to the already linked on agenda. Then ponder this object lesson from Ac 27 on what can happen to Democracy at the hands of the manipulative. As in, historically, the march of folly is all too possible.

  249. 249
    JWTruthInLove says:

    @kf 251:

    Why are you quoting the stuff? I’ve already provided the bible-proof, that the writers of the bible disliked the homos. I have also linked to the trinitarian agenda to execute or inprison the homos. We have a case of trinitarians selling their subjective opinions as objective, undenieable truths. Read, listen and ponder!

  250. 250
    kairosfocus says:

    JW, I showed how Jesus pointed to the naturally evident creation order for marriage and family. I have already pointed out the implications of tampering with such, as we are increasingly doing in our civilisation. KF

  251. 251
    JWTruthInLove says:

    @kf:

    naturally evident creation order

    ?? I believe “man-man-love” can be a naturally evident creation order. This is indeed self-evident to the parties concerned.

  252. 252
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    I agree. How about you answer my question:

    “A objectivist can accept revenge killing as perfectly moral.”

    If you disagree, you need to explain why revenge killing cannot be accepted as a morally good value in the objectivist model. What prevents that?

    I offered a softer example. But substitute child rape, murder for pleasure and unjustified theft for revenge killing.

    What prevents those acts in the objective model is that there are no objective codes that one can adopt that permit any of those acts.

    So, the objectivist cannot accept those acts as moral, but the subjectivist can.

  253. 253
    Jerad says:

    KF #254

    Jerad, do you forget your response to my earlier citation, “monkish”? Sorry, that’s your word and I responded to it by highlighting what the remarks on Mammon, money turned into a god, have historically been understood to mean. Jesus drew out the insight on blindness coming from such distorted ultimate loyalties, and the idolatry of greed. It of course applies a lot more widely than that. KF

    Yes but I was not advocating greed as a moral standard at all. I should have said aesthetic I guess.

    WJM 253

    Without an objective morality, there is no morality worth considering because what you end up with is “I do what I feel like doing.” The only reason to dress that up with a term like “morality” is to make it seem like you are doing something other than just whatever you feel like doing.

    I don’t think that way or feel that way or justify my views in those ways. You have this view of people which is very narrow and based on your assumptions. I do not think people doing what they always feel like doing is a sane or sensible moral grounding. For myself I tend to find my own motivations and behaviour roughly in line with many Christian teachings and they make sense to me.

    Under actual moral subjectivism, such acts are no more hideous, in and of themselves, than any other. They are just subjectively unpalatable to you personally. Calling them “hideous”, under moral subjectivism, is the same thing as calling gay marriage and women bishops “hideous”. It’s just how you personally feel compared to how others feel with no principle or premise that grants any logical distinction between them.

    No, it has to do with whether or not other people are being hurt or abused and the degree of it.

    Are you saying only people on one side of those issues are being “rationally consistent with how we must live life”?

    Note the irrational comparison (under moral subjectivism) you just made between “hideous” acts like murder and “non-hideous” acts like gay marriage, as if you were referencing some principle offering an objective distinction that others logically must agree to, one which shows one to be morally “hideous” and the other not.

    Again, murder, rape, sexual abuse and such things are causing another person pain and suffering and maybe death. My scale of hideousnees tends to be based on the amount of pain and suffering induced. Since I don’t see allowing gay couples to marry or women to become bishops to cause any real suffering then I cannot find them morally repugnant.

    You have no such barometer available under subjectivism, no moral compass that we can all check to see which direction is north (good). All you can be doing here is hoping I happen to “feel” the same way you do about it; thus it is not a logical argument that (so-called) moral subjectivists can offer, but rather only one of appealing to emotions and rhetoric.

    In fact I focus on the effects actions and opinions have on other people. I am not appealing to rhetoric but as there can be emotional pain and suffering then that may enter in.

    Don’t hurt or abuse other people, that’s one of my central themes. If you do then you should expect to punished or restricted in society in some way. I don’t see how my own feelings come into that. I can see that some issues would need a bit of clarification but I think my basic stance is a good place to start.

  254. 254
    hrun0815 says:

    So, the objectivist cannot accept those acts as moral, but the subjectivist can.

    Yet, there are millions that are in very high likelihood objectivists that disagree with you. So here’s a hypothetical situation:

    A self-avowed moral objectivists disagrees with your position and he’s simply wrong.

    A self-avowed moral subjectivists disagrees with you and he’s also wrong (and delusional).

    [ A self-avowed moral subjectivist agrees with you and he might be right but he’s still either delusional or a sociopath. – not really relevant for the next step. ]

    Now, in practical terms, what do you think is the different outcome if you happen to come across an objectivist or a subjectivist who disagree with you? In one case there is no problem while in the other the whole world falls into chaos because the subjectivist can not ground his morals in an objective authority?

    If you bear with me I will walk you through the same scenario from my point of view. (I believe rape is wrong yet I come across both a subjectivist and objectivist who disagree with me.)

  255. 255

    Any act can be accepted as moral in an objectivist model (depending on the model); the difference is that the objectivist model at least offers the capacity (potential) for for an act to be considered universally wrong/immoral and offers a sound basis for acting to prevent/stop such acts.

    It also offers a basis for a need to examine your own moral views to see if they are supportable or correct. They must hold up to scrutiny. Subjective morality doesn’t offer any reason to scrutinize them for being “correct” or “valid”, and indeed there is no way to do so; they are simply based on your personal feelings.

    Subjectivism necessarily (logically speaking) accepts any act as moral as long as the individual holds it to be moral, and reduces any prevention/intervention to a matter of “because I feel like it”, or “because I can”, or “because I want to”, which as a guiding, fundamental moral justification necessarily justifies the very behavior in question.

    It is only if one holds that morality refers to objective rights and wrongs, and that we are obligated by a duty beyond mere personal preference to intervene in certain situations in defense of the moral good, that such intervention can be justified beyond mere personal predilection.

    Even if the other person holds that what they are doing is an objective good, because of the assumption of the objective nature of morality that you both hold, only one of you can be right about the moral nature of the at in question and – right or wrong – you at least have substantive grounds for prevention/intervening.

    However, since morality is considered objective, you have a duty to make every effort to exist in accordance with the moral good and not according to your own personal preferences, and a duty to understand the truth about morality even if it means amending your own beliefs. That is how we all argue about morality anyway.

    You are capable of being mistaken and having an obligation to amending your views only if morality is held to be something other than personal preference.

    Holding that morality is subjective while arguing that the moral views of others are “wrong” is a blatant self-contradiction.

  256. 256
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    If you bear with me I will walk you through the same scenario from my point of view. (I believe rape is wrong yet I come across both a subjectivist and objectivist who disagree with me.)

    This would be a good example. The subjectivist can merely say “I disagree – rape is morally acceptable”. The objectivist, however, has to reference a code and his view can be evaluated against it. The objectivist has a means to change or correct his moral behavior, the subjectivist does not. Good moral behavior for the objectivist is adherence to the code. There really can be no standard of good moral behavior for the subjectivist since the lawgiver, judge and defendent (if you will) are all the same person. In the subjectivist model, any act can be justified as immoral and later changed to moral if desired. There are no potential limits to behavior in the subjectivist model, and there are limits in objectivism.

    WJM says something similar in his reply.

  257. 257
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    Now, in practical terms, what do you think is the different outcome if you happen to come across an objectivist or a subjectivist who disagree with you?

    For the objectivist I can ask: “what is your moral code and where did you see that rape is a moral good”? If the objectivist cannot give that evidence, then his is living inconsistently with his code and I can judge him as wrong, even on a code I don’t accept.

    For the subjectivist, I cannot ask anything. He determined rape is good. If I was also a subjectivist, I would have no basis to disagree with how he views rape (for himself) even if I disagree.

    If I meet an Orthodox Jew, for example, who says that rape is a morally good action, I can ask where in his moral code does he find that? In the Torah or Talmud? In Jewish moral philosophy? The fact is, that doesn’t exist. So I could judge that person wrong and immoral on his own standard.

    In one case there is no problem while in the other the whole world falls into chaos because the subjectivist can not ground his morals in an objective authority?

    The world falls into chaos in the subjectivist model because we have zero reference point by which to judge the moral value.

    A subjectivist (for example) claims that rape is ok. Then, in the subjectivist model, rape is ok. As a subjectivist, I would have to accept rape as that person’s moral good. I have no basis by which I can say my morality is more correct than his. I say rape is evil, but that’s just my personal opinion.

    An orthodox Jew says rape is ok, I can prove he is wrong based on his own standard. I can correct him and teach him and help him change his moral view.

    I cannot teach a subjectivist that his moral views are wrong. If he believes rape is good, then that’s his moral value on his own moral code and I would have to accept it.

    That’s why subjectivism is evil, from my point of view.

  258. 258
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Any act can be accepted as moral in an objectivist model (depending on the model);

    I think it’s true today to say that in the collection of all objective moral codes in existence today, one will not find that every and any human act is somewhere permitted. Kidnapping and torture of children for pleasure, for example, cannot be found even in the most hedonistic code.

    With that, we might say “well someone could invent an objective code that permits such things”.

    I would argue that the creation of an objective moral code cannot occur that easily. It takes a while to develop the code and get a sufficient number of adherents to call it truly objective and not merely a personal code that was just invented.

    There are objective codes that rose up quickly. But these are rarely if ever a full guide to moral life. Things like Nazism or Mafia or street-gang codes could be called objective morality, but they are derivative and highly subjective in themselves. They are also vulnerable to ambiguity and lots of change.

    An objective moral code requires some sense of stability and a significant level of support.

  259. 259
    hrun0815 says:

    SA, so a moral subjectivist you judge as wrong. A moral objectivist you inquire about the objective code of conduct, but since there is no objective code that justifies rape you judge him as wrong as well.

    Now, here’s the scenario from my point of view. I will address both equally since I don’t care about their views on objective vs subjective morality: Rape is wrong.

    So, we now find ourselves in the same situation. Both an objectivist and subjectivist judge both as wrong. I will also outline how I will proceed from here, but I’d love to hear from you first about this. Presumably it’ll make a difference if you deal with a subjectivist or objectivist?

  260. 260
    hrun0815 says:

    I would argue that the creation of an objective moral code cannot occur that easily. It takes a while to develop the code and get a sufficient number of adherents to call it truly objective and not merely a personal code that was just invented.

    Wait, what? Is that what people understand as an objective moral code? You have to be mistaken, right?

  261. 261
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    SA, so a moral subjectivist you judge as wrong. A moral objectivist you inquire about the objective code of conduct, but since there is no objective code that justifies rape you judge him as wrong as well.

    It’s not that easy. If I was a subjectivist, I would judge the moral subjectivist as right. Rape is a moral good for him.

    Now, here’s the scenario from my point of view. I will address both equally since I don’t care about their views on objective vs subjective morality: Rape is wrong.

    See above – rape is not wrong in the subjectivist model. I cannot say it is wrong from that perspective. Rape is good in that point of view.

  262. 262
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    Wait, what? Is that what people understand as an objective moral code?

    I gave several examples of objective moral codes. I could give more:

    Judiasm – Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed
    Christianity — Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran, etc
    Muslim – Shiite, Sunni, Sufi
    Buddhist
    Stoic
    Epicurean hedonism
    Native tribal codes

    And many more.

    Most of these codes originate through a combination of religious-revelation and philosophical reasoning.

  263. 263
    hrun0815 says:

    SA, I asked you, a moral objectivist, how you would judge.

    I then presented to you how I, a moral subjectivist, would.

    Now your reply to me is that I am wrong. So we are back to WJM’s assessment. Subjectivists are delusional liars if they agree and sociopaths if they don’t.

    I think I get it. Please refer to my statement in the WJM thread about my practical outlook on this.

    Cheers.

  264. 264
    hrun0815 says:

    do all these codes agree? And if not how do you explain that an action can be objectively morally right and wrong at the same time?

  265. 265
    Jerad says:

    do all these codes agree? And if not how do you explain that an action can be objectively morally right and wrong at the same time?

    I guess objective codes are relative. 🙂

  266. 266
    hrun0815 says:

    Or subjective.

    Or all these religious war were just some giant misunderstanding.

  267. 267
    Jerad says:

    Or subjective.

    Or all these religious war were just some giant misunderstanding.

    Like the Albigensian and Waldensian crusades. Christians vs Christians.

  268. 268

    Jerad said:

    I don’t think that way or feel that way or justify my views in those ways.

    Of course you don’t. Nobody outside of sociopaths think that way. That’s the point. You do not think in accordance with the logic necessary under moral subjectivism. You espouse moral subjectivism, but you live and think in accordance with moral objectivism.

    You have this view of people which is very narrow and based on your assumptions.

    No, your internal narrative prevents you from understanding the actual nature of my argument. You cannot differentiate between an argument describing what moral subjectivism would logically necessitate and an argument claiming that self-described moral subjectivists actually think that way.

    No, it has to do with whether or not other people are being hurt or abused and the degree of it.

    Which is how you personally feel morality should be grounded. Under moral subjectivism, if someone personally feels that whether or not others are harmed or abused has nothing whatsoever to do with morality, under moral subjectivism that view is as valid and as moral as your own.

    This is where your cognitive biases are hiding something important from you: if morality is subjective in nature, then ultimately no matter what principle you offer that supposedly guides your moral behavior, your choice or use or acknowledgement of that principle is still rooted in your own personal preferences/proclivities and it cannot be an external arbiter by which your personal preferences/proclivities could be ascertained to be erroneous.

    Your cognitive bias/narrative is fooling you into thinking that a morality logically consistent with subjectivism can ultimately be anything other than “because I feel like it”. Because you feel bad about others being harmed or abused, you have a moral principle/ethic about not harming others. If you did not feel negatively about it, you would have no such moral “grounds” to your system of behavior. (That is, if you were thinking/acting in accordance with moral subjectivism, which you are not.)

    I am not appealing to rhetoric but as there can be emotional pain and suffering then that may enter in.

    As far as justifying your own moral proclivities or attempting to convince others thereof, rhetoric is all you have to appeal to, logically speaking.

    Unless pain and suffering are posited as objectively valid moral considerations, they are nothing personal preferences based on feelings. Invoking personal preferences and feelings in an attempt to sway the views of other is the very definition of rhetoric.

    Invoking personal preferences and feelings in order to justify (in a debate) a position is irrational.

    Don’t hurt or abuse other people, that’s one of my central themes. If you do then you should expect to punished or restricted in society in some way. I don’t see how my own feelings come into that.

    It’s quite obvious that you don’t see it, but that doesn’t change the fact that, under moral subjectivism (logically), because you feel negatively about the harm or abuse of other people, you construct a moral principle that reflects that feeling.

    (That’s not what really goes on – you sense through conscience the actual moral landscape and, using logic (such as you are able) to reason out moral principles from that actual sensory interaction. However, as a subjectivist, you must intellectually reject that this is what is going on, and instead all you can logically be doing (even though it’s not what you are actually doing) is extrapolating a subjective moral code from personal, subjective feelings and proclivities.

    You see, I’m not accusing you of making up moral codes based on feelings; I’m showing you what is logically necessary if moral subjectivism is actually true. You can’t see it because that’s not what you are actually doing, but cognitive bias (probably due to ideological commitments) is hiding what you are actually doing from you, layering over it a superficial, poorly-thought-out, irrational subjective-morality cover story to avoid theism.)

    Unfortunately, what you seem incapable of doing (or are prevented from doing by your ideological commitments) is following that logic back to fundamental premise (in your case, an undeclared and probably unrecognized but necessary axiom) that your moral codes must logically be extrapolated from your personal, subjective feelings and proclivities (since you accept no exterior, objective moral code that can overrule your feelings) under moral subjectivism.

    I can see that some issues would need a bit of clarification but I think my basic stance is a good place to start.

    Actually, you are blind to the fact that your entire stated position is self-defeating and innately irrational, but then, that’s the nature of cognitive biases.

    Your heart’s in the right place, even if your head is being led astray by ideological commitments. You probably behave more morally than I.

  269. 269

    Silver Asiatic said:

    I think it’s true today to say that in the collection of all objective moral codes in existence today, one will not find that every and any human act is somewhere permitted. Kidnapping and torture of children for pleasure, for example, cannot be found even in the most hedonistic code.

    My point was that it is theoretically possible that any act could be made moral under an objective morality, not that all possible acts have been at some time considered moral.

    I would argue that the creation of an objective moral code cannot occur that easily.

    It’s very easy to create an objective moral code; all that is necessary is to make up a list of rules and record it somewhere.

    The question isn’t if objective moral codes exist – even Humanist ethics are written down and as such represent an “objective moral code” in the sense that it objectively exists as a code.

    There’s a difference between an objectively existent moral code and whether or not our sense of morality reflects an objectively existent, universal commodity which we interpret as oughts. Anyone can write down a list of subjective moral rules and viola! that moral code is objectively existent; that doesn’t mean those rules reflect the actual commodity that morality refers to.

  270. 270
    hrun0815 says:

    So to be an objectivist which kind of objective moral code do you have to believe in? Either?

  271. 271
    Silver Asiatic says:

    hrun

    Now your reply to me is that I am wrong.

    I didn’t say that. The subjectivist is always right for himself. One says rape is good the other rape is evil. Both are right.

    Subjectivists are delusional liars if they agree and sociopaths if they don’t.

    I never said this and I don’t know what you’re talking about. Agree with what?

  272. 272

    Either, but not all objective moral systems are equal in terms of logical consequences.

    I suggest developing an objectivist-based morality which (1)reflects actual experience, (2) utilizes conscience to identify moral issues and reason to interpret and examine them and potential choices/responses, and (3) avoids logical self-contradiction and absurdities.

  273. 273
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Anyone can write down a list of subjective moral rules and viola! that moral code is objectively existent; that doesn’t mean those rules reflect the actual commodity that morality refers to.

    I think an objective moral code has to reference something beyond a list of subjective moral rules. Otherwise, that’s just subjectivism. Objective morality references an authority beyond the subjective. As you put it, it can reference the universal moral values of the natural law, or the authority of religious precepts and/or a combination of both.

    Objective morality requires some justification. Subjective morality does not need to be justified, even to the person who establishes it.

  274. 274

    Silver Asiatic,

    I agree with most of that, but I think that any form of morality from authority is problematic and ripe for abuse.

  275. 275
    hrun0815 says:

    So that fixes it then. Let’s have every subjectivist write down their own moral code, say that it follows directly from natural law, and BAM, everyone turns into an objectivist.

  276. 276
    Jerad says:

    WJM @274

    I don’t think that way or feel that way or justify my views in those ways.

    Of course you don’t. Nobody outside of sociopaths think that way. That’s the point. You do not think in accordance with the logic necessary under moral subjectivism. You espouse moral subjectivism, but you live and think in accordance with moral objectivism.

    I think you have too few categories. And you are way too sure of your own opinion. I might even say that you are imposing your view on others.

    You have this view of people which is very narrow and based on your assumptions.

    No, your internal narrative prevents you from understanding the actual nature of my argument. You cannot differentiate between an argument describing what moral subjectivism would logically necessitate and an argument claiming that self-described moral subjectivists actually think that way.

    Uh huh. So I’m somehow below you on the intellectual/insight scale? I’m deluded because I espouse a view you disagree with. Got it.

    No, it has to do with whether or not other people are being hurt or abused and the degree of it.

    Which is how you personally feel morality should be grounded. Under moral subjectivism, if someone personally feels that whether or not others are harmed or abused has nothing whatsoever to do with morality, under moral subjectivism that view is as valid and as moral as your own.

    There are some objective measures for abuse and pain and suffering surely. Even under an objectivist standard there are some boxes you can tick which make the case.

    This is where your cognitive biases are hiding something important from you: if morality is subjective in nature, then ultimately no matter what principle you offer that supposedly guides your moral behavior, your choice or use or acknowledgement of that principle is still rooted in your own personal preferences/proclivities and it cannot be an external arbiter by which your personal preferences/proclivities could be ascertained to be erroneous.

    So, even if I espouse an objective measure I’m still deluded and subjective? Once I disagree with you about there being an absolute morality then anything else I do is deluded?

    Your cognitive bias/narrative is fooling you into thinking that a morality logically consistent with subjectivism can ultimately be anything other than “because I feel like it”. Because you feel bad about others being harmed or abused, you have a moral principle/ethic about not harming others. If you did not feel negatively about it, you would have no such moral “grounds” to your system of behavior. (That is, if you were thinking/acting in accordance with moral subjectivism, which you are not.)

    Well you know all, see all, understand all. And I’m clearly just wrong and dumb.

    I am not appealing to rhetoric but as there can be emotional pain and suffering then that may enter in.

    As far as justifying your own moral proclivities or attempting to convince others thereof, rhetoric is all you have to appeal to, logically speaking.

    So my view that hurting other people is bad and should be punished is ill-founded?

    Unless pain and suffering are posited as objectively valid moral considerations, they are nothing personal preferences based on feelings. Invoking personal preferences and feelings in an attempt to sway the views of other is the very definition of rhetoric.

    Sorry, I think there are times when it is obvious that someone is in pain, is being abused, is suffering. I’m sorry you disagree. Who’s the relativist now?

    Invoking personal preferences and feelings in order to justify (in a debate) a position is irrational.

    Don’t hurt or abuse other people, that’s one of my central themes. If you do then you should expect to punished or restricted in society in some way. I don’t see how my own feelings come into that.

    It’s quite obvious that you don’t see it, but that doesn’t change the fact that, under moral subjectivism (logically), because you feel negatively about the harm or abuse of other people, you construct a moral principle that reflects that feeling.

    So, it’s not true? My feeling that it’s bad when other people are in pain or being abused?

    (That’s not what really goes on – you sense through conscience the actual moral landscape and, using logic (such as you are able) to reason out moral principles from that actual sensory interaction. However, as a subjectivist, you must intellectually reject that this is what is going on, and instead all you can logically be doing (even though it’s not what you are actually doing) is extrapolating a subjective moral code from personal, subjective feelings and proclivities.

    You see, I’m not accusing you of making up moral codes based on feelings; I’m showing you what is logically necessary if moral subjectivism is actually true. You can’t see it because that’s not what you are actually doing, but cognitive bias (probably due to ideological commitments) is hiding what you are actually doing from you, layering over it a superficial, poorly-thought-out, irrational subjective-morality cover story to avoid theism.)

    Unfortunately, what you seem incapable of doing (or are prevented from doing by your ideological commitments) is following that logic back to fundamental premise (in your case, an undeclared and probably unrecognized but necessary axiom) that your moral codes must logically be extrapolated from your personal, subjective feelings and proclivities (since you accept no exterior, objective moral code that can overrule your feelings) under moral subjectivism.

    Well, since you’ve got it all figured out I’m just going to shut up and let you tell me what I think and what is true.

    Your heart’s in the right place, even if your head is being led astray by ideological commitments. You probably behave more morally than I.

    Yeah but who cares if I’m deluded and wrong and liable to decide that murder or rape is okay.

  277. 277
    Jerad says:

    Sorry for mucking up many of the block quotes above. i hope the careful and interested readers can still discern the discussion points.

  278. 278

    Jerad said:

    I think you have too few categories. And you are way too sure of your own opinion. I might even say that you are imposing your view on others.

    My views are based on the logical arguments I’ve presented here. Feel free to show the logical errors I’ve committed or produce an alternate line of logical inference from your premises.

    So I’m somehow below you on the intellectual/insight scale?

    No, you’re making errors of logic that are IMO best explained by cognitive biases. Regardless of our intelligence or insight, we are all capable of making errors of logic. Feel free to make your own case.

    I’m deluded because I espouse a view you disagree with.

    Again, you seem to be predisposed to interpret my posts in a very strange way. I never said anyone was “deluded”, and certainly not because they disagree with me. The case I’ve made is that your logic (and the logic of other self-styled moral subjectivists here) is fatally flawed and from that argument I’ve also added some opinions about why – cognitive biases are the most common reason why people diverge from fairly straightforward logical inferences. It doesn’t mean you are inferior or deluded.

    There are some objective measures for abuse and pain and suffering surely.

    Being able to measure pain and abuse begs the question of why one would use pain and abuse as moral guideposts in the first place.

    So, even if I espouse an objective measure I’m still deluded and subjective?

    An objective measurement is not the same thing as an objective basis. You might be able to objectively measure such things as pain, but that doesn’t answer why anyone should use pain as a moral guidepost in the first place. Unless you are asserting “pain and abuse” as objective moral guideposts that are valid for everyone, they are still part of your subjective, personal system.

    I’ve never implied you or anyone else is deluded.

    Once I disagree with you about there being an absolute morality then anything else I do is deluded?

    Morality is either refers to an objectively existent commodity (meaning, it applies to everyone, like gravity, even if they deny it), or it is subjective in nature. You can’t have it both ways. Something is either factually moral and we do our best to understand this fact and act in accordance with it, or the morality of it is a matter of personal perspective/sensibility alone.

    Well you know all, see all, understand all. And I’m clearly just wrong and dumb.

    It seems to me that this kind of statement only serves to derail and distract from an argument. I’ve made and continue to make my case; you are free to rebut, question, argue, and make your own case.

    Sorry, I think there are times when it is obvious that someone is in pain, is being abused, is suffering. I’m sorry you disagree. Who’s the relativist now?

    So what if they are in pain and are obviously suffering? You say that as if another moral relativist should consider “the suffering of others” a moral guidepost when, under actual moral subjectivism, logically, you can have no such expectation, nor would “but they are suffering” be a logical argument to get me to change my behavior.

    Under moral subjectivism, my morality may or may not care if others are suffering and my morality would be as valid as your own. My subjective morality may go by the principle that causing the suffering of others is a good thing, and your subjectively moral framework has no principle by which to argue otherwise, because under your framework, morality is whatever any individual holds it to be.

    So, it’s not true? My feeling that it’s bad when other people are in pain or being abused?

    True in what sense? The statement “I feel it is wrong for me to abuse others” can be a true and logically consistent statement under moral subjectivism.

    The statement “I feel it’s wrong when others abuse people” can be truthfully said by someone who believes themselves to be a moral subjectivist, but the such feelings are inconsistent with the subjectivist model, because rights and wrongs are entirely set by each individual under that model. A statement that is consistent with the subjectivist model would be:

    “I feel it is wrong for others to abuse people, but logically that must be based on projecting myself into their position and evaluating the behavior from my own subjective point of view. Since I am not them, I do not know what is moral for them, and so my projections are not valid evaluators of their moral experience. Therefore, although I feel that their behavior is wrong, those feelings must be erroneous projections of my own moral preferences as if they also applied to someone else.”

  279. 279
    Mung says:

    What are the objective reasons for being a subjectivist?

  280. 280
    Jerad says:

    WJB 384

    Being able to measure pain and abuse begs the question of why one would use pain and abuse as moral guideposts in the first place.

    Well, you know, I don’t think about it much. when I see another human being in pain, being abuse or tortured or taken advantage of I just react. I assume most people do. If it’s an involuntary response by most people then it can be part of a moral foundation.

    I suppose that still doesn’t address your issue but I can’t think of a good reason for debating whether or not other people’s pain and suffering form an objective moral basis. I think it’s better to just try and do something about it.

    Morality is either refers to an objectively existent commodity (meaning, it applies to everyone, like gravity, even if they deny it), or it is subjective in nature. You can’t have it both ways. Something is either factually moral and we do our best to understand this fact and act in accordance with it, or the morality of it is a matter of personal perspective/sensibility alone.

    So . . . there could be a factually moral truth that would require attempts to understand it? That would not be naturally and obviously correct? Like banning gay marriage? As an example.

    So what if they are in pain and are obviously suffering? You say that as if another moral relativist should consider “the suffering of others” a moral guidepost when, under actual moral subjectivism, logically, you can have no such expectation, nor would “but they are suffering” be a logical argument to get me to change my behavior.

    Under moral subjectivism, my morality may or may not care if others are suffering and my morality would be as valid as your own. My subjective morality may go by the principle that causing the suffering of others is a good thing, and your subjectively moral framework has no principle by which to argue otherwise, because under your framework, morality is whatever any individual holds it to be.

    I would hope that basic empathy would ensure that it would be rare indeed that I would have to convince anyone else that it’s good to aid and protect other people. I don’t think most people live in the rarified intellectual space you profess. And I’m quite sure that if someone attacked a small child in your presence you would not hesitate to react. Not because you found an entry on your list of objective moral truths which said: that’s bad. I think you’d react out of instinct, the same instinct that would make most of us react. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think some basic human instinctive reactions are down to a list of dos and don’ts.

    The statement “I feel it’s wrong when others abuse people” can be truthfully said by someone who believes themselves to be a moral subjectivist, but the such feelings are inconsistent with the subjectivist model, because rights and wrongs are entirely set by each individual under that model. A statement that is consistent with the subjectivist model would be:

    “I feel it is wrong for others to abuse people, but logically that must be based on projecting myself into their position and evaluating the behavior from my own subjective point of view. Since I am not them, I do not know what is moral for them, and so my projections are not valid evaluators of their moral experience. Therefore, although I feel that their behavior is wrong, those feelings must be erroneous projections of my own moral preferences as if they also applied to someone else.”

    Well, maybe I’m not a subjectivist then. I think some behaviours are clearly and utterly repugnant and hideous without having to analyse them. But I know that there are always individuals who won’t agree with me. History if full of people being awful to each other. And I can’t see where there is an accessible list of moral truths that we can all sign on to.

    If morality is objective it’s not working. If it can’t be enforced or be naturally abided by then does it really exist? Or is it just some people’s subjective ideas about the way they think things should be?

    In the end, any list you make is just your opinion is it not? How can you discover an objective morality? By picking an authority figure? And if there are disagreements about who the authority figure is then . . .

    Is not the argument for objective morality just another form of the argument from design? Morality must be objective, it must have a source, that source must be . . . . Are you just trying to logic God into existence?

  281. 281
    Mung says:

    Are you a subjectivist Jerad? Do you have objective reasons for being a subjectvist? Just asking.

  282. 282
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerad, do you mean ascetic? And if so, the NT actually warns against that, the issue is sober and moderate balance in life linked to generosity. KF

  283. 283
    Jerad says:

    KF 288

    Jerad, do you mean ascetic? And if so, the NT actually warns against that, the issue is sober and moderate balance in life linked to generosity. KF

    Yes, that is the word I meant!! Thanks!!

  284. 284
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerad 286

    How can you discover an objective morality? By picking an authority figure? And if there are disagreements about who the authority figure is then . . .

    Subjectivism chooses yourself (the individual person) as the authority.

    But then the individual becomes the lawgiver, judge and defendent in the struggle to live a morally better life.

    Picking an authority figure is a major improvement over subjectivism, even if you discover later that there are greater and lesser authorities who provide better and worse results morally.

  285. 285
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    I agree with most of that, but I think that any form of morality from authority is problematic and ripe for abuse.

    I think all moral systems reference an authority. Subjectivism puts all the moral authority with the individual. But even non-theistic moral codes reference an authority – not necessarily a living person – which can include universal moral teachings or a school of philosophy.

    Aristotealianism or Platonism offer objective moral systems, more or less.

    But if a person constructs a moral code, without reference to authority (as something external to the person), that is subjectivism. “Objective” doesn’t mean merely to write down the code – but it has to be accessible in a general sense. It become accessible through teaching and through a group of adherents. A subjective moral code is created by the individual. Even if it was shared and agreed-upon by a few people, it wouldn’t be considered an objective morality.

    Thomism, for example, gives a detailed moral code that was built through religion and philosophy, taught, lived and shared for centuries. To that extent, it has the status of an objective morality that can be accessed and understood.

    Subjectivism does not even require a rational basis for the construction of a code. Objective morality does require a reason for the moral norms it espouses.

  286. 286
    Jerad says:

    SA 290

    Picking an authority figure is a major improvement over subjectivism, even if you discover later that there are greater and lesser authorities who provide better and worse results morally.

    A matter of opinion I’d say. If you pick someone like Hitler it might become tragic before you can right the ship.

  287. 287
    Jerad says:

    SA 291

    But if a person constructs a moral code, without reference to authority (as something external to the person), that is subjectivism. “Objective” doesn’t mean merely to write down the code – but it has to be accessible in a general sense. It become accessible through teaching and through a group of adherents. A subjective moral code is created by the individual. Even if it was shared and agreed-upon by a few people, it wouldn’t be considered an objective morality.

    Thomism, for example, gives a detailed moral code that was built through religion and philosophy, taught, lived and shared for centuries. To that extent, it has the status of an objective morality that can be accessed and understood.

    I just want to clarify something here. It sounds like Thomism began as subjective morality. But then I think of religion and philosophy as being subjective (especially initially) and then after being taught, lived and shared . . .

    I just may have to give up on this discussion. Unless you have an actual experience of your chosen authority figure clearly laying down their morality it all sounds pretty personal/subjective/experiential to me.

    And to argue that without that verified authoritarian appearance it’s only possible for objective morality to have arisen from a lawgiver smacks of the argument from design to me. I don’t think you can ‘logic’ God into existence. It sounds like special pleading.

  288. 288

    Jerad said:

    Well, you know, I don’t think about it much.

    Perhaps you should if you are going to involve yourself in a debate about the premises and reasoning involved in establishing, adhering to and justifying one’s moral system.

    when I see another human being in pain, being abuse or tortured or taken advantage of I just react. I assume most people do. If it’s an involuntary response by most people then it can be part of a moral foundation.

    This is where “thinking about it much” comes in handy. Look at how you have justified the basis of your principle above; “I just react” and “If it’s an involuntary response by most people ..”. You have established two moral principles, but what are they? “However I just react to something…” and “However most people react to something ..”

    The next steps are to (1) examine the real world to see if such principles hold up, and (2) develop hypothetical scenarios to see if your principles hold up.

    First, have you ever “just reacted” in anger? Do most people, in various situations? How about reacting in disgust? If most people react in disgust at a thing, say, two men kissing, would that be a sound basis for a moral system? How about reacting in fear? Would that make a sound basis for morality?

    You see, if you want a logically coherent worldview that corresponds to how you actually live, you might spend some time “thinking much” about your moral system and how you justify it to figure out if, at the root of it, you’re not just being self-serving, hypocritical, or in error.

    “Just how I happen to react” can justify virtually any behavior. “How most people react” gives the power of moral principle over to the sensibilitie4s of the majority. Do either of those really seem to you to be sound moral principles?

    So . . . there could be a factually moral truth that would require attempts to understand it? That would not be naturally and obviously correct? Like banning gay marriage? As an example.

    I think that there are self-evident moral truths, such as my favorite, it is immoral to gratuitously torture children. Anyone who disagrees with that is insane. It is (IMO, of course), the standard-bearer example of a self-evident, objective moral truth.

    Other moral truths can be described as necessary (rational extrapolations of self-evidently true moral statements), conditionally true (valid conditional upon the circumstances), and generally true maxims.

    IMO, being able to ascertain the moral good requires (1) conscience (the ability to sense the moral landscape) and (2) reason, the ability to logically interpret and examine what the conscience tells you.

    Conscience and logic can both be refined; they can both produce error; they can both be degraded. Comprehending the moral good is not a perfect capacity, nor is it at times easy. In some cases it may not even be possible.

    Gay marriage is certainly one of the cases where two well-meaning, conscientious people may disagree. There are many such cases, like legalization/use of mind-altering drugs, prostitution, spanking, etc.

    Something you may wish to consider is that in the case of some objective moralities, the consequences of immoral behavior is not held as something left in the hands of humans to deliver; rather, it is god or natural law that will deliver he consequences. Humans usually only have the task of erecting legal systems meant to aid in the functioning of society, not police immoral behavior, per se.

    Under subjective morality, humans are left with the task of not only establishing a moral code, but also punishing immoral behavior however they see fit. Personally, I’d rather have a moral system that leaves that job up to god or natural law – which you cannot get under moral subjectivism.

    I would hope that basic empathy would ensure that it would be rare indeed that I would have to convince anyone else that it’s good to aid and protect other people.

    I’m not sure how you think the current state or the history of the world remotely supports this idea. Were all the wars fought, and the atrocities committed, genocide, murders, mass murders, etc. “rare” occurrences committed only by a “rare” few people? Do you think that they were initiated by a rare few and carried out by …. whom? People with enough empathy to deter them from carrying out their horrendous tasks? Doesn’t seem like it.

    One of things I require of my moral system is that it is fully reconcilable with the world I actually experience; in the world I actually experience, empathy rarely stops anyone from doing anything they want to do, and empathy is easily ignored – and in many cases, should be ignored. There are many, many people, organizations, businesses, politicians who attempt to manipulate you via your empathy.

    I dont think a projective emotion like “empathy” is suitable as a sound moral basis, although it is useful if utilized appropriately and under the restriction of conscience and reason.

    You may wonder what the difference is between empathy and conscience; empathy is sort of an emotional projection into how the other person feels at the moment; conscience, rather, is like an assessment of the larger picture of right and wrong.

    Empathy may guide you to give comfort and aid to a person in the here and now; conscience, on the other hand, wonders if comfort and aid in the here and now is really in the best interests of the person involved and whether or not providing them comfort and aid in the here and now will do more harm than good for all involved. Reason is used to weigh the alternatives as best as one can, and in the end empathy – an irrational emotion – can often be overruled in favor of, for example, “tough love” or other hard deciions that tear at one’s heart.

    And I’m quite sure that if someone attacked a small child in your presence you would not hesitate to react. Not because you found an entry on your list of objective moral truths which said: that’s bad.

    The point is not that you should first create a sound moral system and then arrange your actions accordingly; the point is that the actions you already take, and how you take them, are not reconcilable with subjective morality. They are only logically reconcilable with an objective morality. As I have said repeatedly, only sociopaths actually act in a way logically reconcilable with moral subjectivism.

    And I can’t see where there is an accessible list of moral truths that we can all sign on to.

    There is no accessible list of “truths” about time, entropy, gravity, etc. – humans figure it out to the best of their ability. Science is about studying those aspects of the physical landscape and coming up with reasonable models that account for these natural laws to help us in our endeavors. Morality is about sensing, interpreting, and understanding another presumed real commodity, albeit a mental/spiritual one, to keep us in correspondence with the good.

    Are you just trying to logic God into existence?

    I don’t care if god exists or not.

    Now, here’s a question for you: what difference does it make to you, and to this debate, if a god exists? Why are you asking me about god? How is it relevant to a logical debate about the logical consequences of objective and subjective forms of morality and whether or not subjective morality is reconcilable with how we actually live?

    The only reason to bring it up is that it is of concern to you that objective morality means there is a god of some sort.

    So what if there is a god? Does it have to be the witch-burning baby-bashing suicide-bombing LBGT-hating reporter-beheading sacrifice-demanding thunderbolt-throwing elephant-riding god of your perceived potential theistic, tyrannical oppressors?

    If your only options are (1) irrationally clinging to the idea that morality is subjective regardless of how absurd and self-contradictory it is demonstrated to be, and (2) belief in the kind of god listed above, then I’d probably pick (1) as well.

    But there are many, many, many more concepts of god than that, Jerad. Accepting that morality must be objective in nature for it to make any sense doesn’t even require (if one cannot bear the thought of going any further) the belief that there is a god. One can simply say “I don’t know what the source of objective good would be, but I do accept that I live, and must live, as if “the good” is an objective commodity. For morality to make any sense, it must refer to some objective source.

    Full stop, if one so wishes. No one can be compelled to take it any further.

  289. 289

    SA said:

    I think all moral systems reference an authority.

    Depends on what you mean by “an authority”, then. If you mean person or book, I disagree that those can be a sound basis for morality.

    They may or may not provide a sound interpretation of morality (comparable to theoretical models a scientist might make of gravity or entropy) that is highly useful in navigating the moral landscape, but ultimately relying on such sources above one’s own conscientious and logical pursuit of moral comprehension puts one at risk (for example, radical Islam and various violent cults that expressly rely on authority, overriding their own conscience and reason).

    Islam, for example, entirely eschews reason as tool for evaluating morality. Once you abandon reason, anything is fair game.

  290. 290
    Jerad says:

    WJM 294

    Perhaps you should if you are going to involve yourself in a debate about the premises and reasoning involved in establishing, adhering to and justifying one’s moral system.

    Yeah, maybe. I’m not trying to just wind anyone up but I did want to ‘test the waters’ a bit. I certainly have a better idea of what the deep conversations are about.

    This is where “thinking about it much” comes in handy. Look at how you have justified the basis of your principle above; “I just react” and “If it’s an involuntary response by most people ..”. You have established two moral principles, but what are they? “However I just react to something…” and “However most people react to something ..”

    I’m not thinking that ‘high’. I’m just assuming, perhaps fallaciously, that most human beings would share some of my reactions. And, if that’s true, then that would be a fairly objective place to start.

    The next steps are to (1) examine the real world to see if such principles hold up, and (2) develop hypothetical scenarios to see if your principles hold up.

    What’s wrong with just letting the consensus make and refine laws that the majority can agree on?

    First, have you ever “just reacted” in anger? Do most people, in various situations? How about reacting in disgust? If most people react in disgust at a thing, say, two men kissing, would that be a sound basis for a moral system? How about reacting in fear? Would that make a sound basis for morality?

    I have reacted in anger but I have almost always refrained from making any major decisions whilst in that state. My ‘disgust’ reactions have been very visceral and I find adequate evolutionary explanations for those. Since two men kissing is not universally reviled then I think it’s a non-issue. Reacting in fear . . .

    I don’t find any of these moral issues though. I may react in disgust to the idea of eating feces but I wouldn’t consider that a moral issue that needed to be societally dictated. Same with men kissing. Or being afraid. Fear may be an indicator of something more sinister though.

    You see, if you want a logically coherent worldview that corresponds to how you actually live, you might spend some time “thinking much” about your moral system and how you justify it to figure out if, at the root of it, you’re not just being self-serving, hypocritical, or in error.

    Yes but if I want a universal moral system that is workable then I’m NOT just interested in my own reactions and feelings. I’m interested in some kind of consensus.

    “Just how I happen to react” can justify virtually any behavior. “How most people react” gives the power of moral principle over to the sensibilitie4s of the majority. Do either of those really seem to you to be sound moral principles?

    Granted that in some cases, like Nazi Germany, mob rule can go spectacularly wrong I still find majority consensus to be the most workable option. Given protections of some individual rights which were abrogated in Nazi-era Germany.

    So . . . there could be a factually moral truth that would require attempts to understand it? That would not be naturally and obviously correct? Like banning gay marriage? As an example.

    Or not eating pork? Or shellfish? Let’s up the ante: Though shall not kill. But we do, and we sanction it at times. In times of war we consider it reasonable. Sexually abusing children . . . that I consider evil and forever verboten. I can see a list of some atrocities that most people throughout history would endorse. But, you know, the Catholic Church authorised the crusade against the Cathars and a lot of babies and children were killed. I don’t think having a list ever works. Someone is going to violate it.

    I think that there are self-evident moral truths, such as my favorite, it is immoral to gratuitously torture children. Anyone who disagrees with that is insane. It is (IMO, of course), the standard-bearer example of a self-evident, objective moral truth.

    But people do it all the time. I support systems of law which codify and support commonly held standards but that requires consensus.

    Other moral truths can be described as necessary (rational extrapolations of self-evidently true moral statements), conditionally true (valid conditional upon the circumstances), and generally true maxims.

    IMO, being able to ascertain the moral good requires (1) conscience (the ability to sense the moral landscape) and (2) reason, the ability to logically interpret and examine what the conscience tells you.

    I’m more pragmatic: work with society to codify and define acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour and, with consensus, you can get enforcement support.

    Conscience and logic can both be refined; they can both produce error; they can both be degraded. Comprehending the moral good is not a perfect capacity, nor is it at times easy. In some cases it may not even be possible.

    Another reason for going with consensus. The errors of some will be over-ridden. It means you have to compromise and let some things go. But at least you’ll get enforcement.

    Something you may wish to consider is that in the case of some objective moralities, the consequences of immoral behavior is not held as something left in the hands of humans to deliver; rather, it is god or natural law that will deliver he consequences. Humans usually only have the task of erecting legal systems meant to aid in the functioning of society, not police immoral behavior, per se.

    I prefer to deal with the here and now. If it is determined that someone is hurting another person then they should be punished in some way. And that comes down to us humans.

    Under subjective morality, humans are left with the task of not only establishing a moral code, but also punishing immoral behavior however they see fit. Personally, I’d rather have a moral system that leaves that job up to god or natural law – which you cannot get under moral subjectivism.

    Yeah well nature doesn’t care and I haven’t seen any god make an appearance recently.

    I’m not sure how you think the current state or the history of the world remotely supports this idea. Were all the wars fought, and the atrocities committed, genocide, murders, mass murders, etc. “rare” occurrences committed only by a “rare” few people? Do you think that they were initiated by a rare few and carried out by …. whom? People with enough empathy to deter them from carrying out their horrendous tasks? Doesn’t seem like it.

    Nope, it doesn’t. It’s very depressing. But that fact does not support the existence of an absolute moral code or the ability of one to make a difference.

    One of things I require of my moral system is that it is fully reconcilable with the world I actually experience; in the world I actually experience, empathy rarely stops anyone from doing anything they want to do, and empathy is easily ignored – and in many cases, should be ignored. There are many, many people, organizations, businesses, politicians who attempt to manipulate you via your empathy.

    I want something that works and is enforceable. I’m tired of ideals. I just want to protect people.

    I dont think a projective emotion like “empathy” is suitable as a sound moral basis, although it is useful if utilized appropriately and under the restriction of conscience and reason.

    I was just hoping it could be a start. But I may be wrong.

    The point is not that you should first create a sound moral system and then arrange your actions accordingly; the point is that the actions you already take, and how you take them, are not reconcilable with subjective morality. They are only logically reconcilable with an objective morality. As I have said repeatedly, only sociopaths actually act in a way logically reconcilable with moral subjectivism.

    But you argued that Thomism required a period of education and reflection. That sounds like ‘arranging your actions’ to match your objective moral standard.

    There is no accessible list of “truths” about time, entropy, gravity, etc. – humans figure it out to the best of their ability. Science is about studying those aspects of the physical landscape and coming up with reasonable models that account for these natural laws to help us in our endeavors. Morality is about sensing, interpreting, and understanding another presumed real commodity, albeit a mental/spiritual one, to keep us in correspondence with the good.

    Gravity is a read commodity that we learned to measure, interpret and codify. I don’t see why we can’t ‘figure out’ a moral standard that is acceptable to the majority and enforceable.

    Now, here’s a question for you: what difference does it make to you, and to this debate, if a god exists? Why are you asking me about god? How is it relevant to a logical debate about the logical consequences of objective and subjective forms of morality and whether or not subjective morality is reconcilable with how we actually live?

    I’m asking because your argument appears to mirror the argument from design in its initial stages.

    IF a god exists and makes an appearance, passing on some great and, heretofore, unnoticed (by us) principles then I can see that possibly that could make a huge difference. But I’m not holding my breath. Or considering altering my basic approach at this juncture in the narrative.

    The only reason to bring it up is that it is of concern to you that objective morality means there is a god of some sort.

    I have no need of that hypothesis.

    So what if there is a god? Does it have to be the witch-burning baby-bashing suicide-bombing LBGT-hating reporter-beheading sacrifice-demanding thunderbolt-throwing elephant-riding god of your perceived potential theistic, tyrannical oppressors?

    I have no need of that hypothesis. Ask someone who is invested in that.

    If your only options are (1) irrationally clinging to the idea that morality is subjective regardless of how absurd and self-contradictory it is demonstrated to be, and (2) belief in the kind of god listed above, then I’d probably pick (1) as well.

    I haven’t seen a verifiable objective moral code. I haven’t heard from god either.

    But there are many, many, many more concepts of god than that, Jerad. Accepting that morality must be objective in nature for it to make any sense doesn’t even require (if one cannot bear the thought of going any further) the belief that there is a god. One can simply say “I don’t know what the source of objective good would be, but I do accept that I live, and must live, as if “the good” is an objective commodity. For morality to make any sense, it must refer to some objective source.

    I’m fine without having to take that stance actually.

  291. 291

    Jerad said:

    What’s wrong with just letting the consensus make and refine laws that the majority can agree on?

    IMO, what’s wrong with going along with the consensus and the majority is that often the consensus and the majority give you moral edicts that translate into laws and social mores like heresy, slavery, ownership of women and children, persecution of minorities, genocide of minorities, caste systems, suspension of personal freedoms and rights, victimless crimes, beheading women for being raped, etc.

    There must be something superior to consensus and majority that one an appeal to in order to rationally justify acting in defiance of, and working to change, consensus and majority views.

    I don’t find any of these moral issues though.

    Then your moral principle of “involuntary reactions” is incorrect, because those too are involuntary reactions yet you don’t consider them moral. More thought is required.

    Yes but if I want a universal moral system that is workable then I’m NOT just interested in my own reactions and feelings. I’m interested in some kind of consensus.

    As long as, I imagine, the “consensus” doesn’t diverge too far from your own views, such as allowing rape. You see, neither “involuntary reaction” nor “consensus” can serve as a sound basis for morality, because you’re wiling to deny or ditch both if they do not sufficiently conform to …something else.

    But, what is that “something else” that involuntary reaction, consensus and majority must adhere to before you are on board? Under subjectivism, it must be your personal preference, which logically validates anyone’s personal preferences as moral.

    The only rational option is: your own involuntary reactions, consensus or majority must conform in all significant areas to the objective standard you sense with your conscience or else you will dimiss it or defy it.

    But you argued that Thomism required a period of education and reflection

    That was someone else.

    I’m fine without having to take that stance actually.

    Most people are fine living with irrational, largely unexamined viewpoints, and live productive, happy, sufficiently moral lives. This is an argument about the logic, not an indictment of anyone’s lifestyle.

  292. 292
    Jerad says:

    WJM 297

    IMO, what’s wrong with going along with the consensus and the majority is that often the consensus and the majority give you moral edicts that translate into laws and social mores like heresy, slavery, ownership of women and children, persecution of minorities, genocide of minorities, caste systems, suspension of personal freedoms and rights, victimless crimes, beheading women for being raped, etc.

    But this can happen with objective moral standards as well. Look at the Old Testament and what Jehovah requested of his chosen people.

    I agree that public consensus is not ideal but unless you can present an objective, enforceable moral standard then what else have we got?

    Do you have an objective, enforceable moral standard to bring to the table?

    There must be something superior to consensus and majority that one an appeal to in order to rationally justify acting in defiance of, and working to change, consensus and majority views.

    I don’t see why there must be something superior. What do you propose?

    Then your moral principle of “involuntary reactions” is incorrect, because those too are involuntary reactions yet you don’t consider them moral. More thought is required.

    You might have a point if you can point to relativistic revulsion reactions, i.e. involuntary reactions that do not exist in all human cultures. In general, not trying to speak for all individuals ’cause, clearly, there are always outliers.

    (added later: I’m not really happy with my response there, it made sense at first but I’m not sure now .. . )

    Whatever, why not try and form a general human moral standard based on cross-culcutural common moral beliefs?

    As long as, I imagine, the “consensus” doesn’t diverge too far from your own views, such as allowing rape. You see, neither “involuntary reaction” nor “consensus” can serve as a sound basis for morality, because you’re wiling to deny or ditch both if they do not sufficiently conform to …something else.

    You do seem to like to make assumptions about me and my motivations. You seem to have a preconceived notions about how I’m going to think or react.

    I may be wrong that a vast majority of human beings think child abuse and rape and murder are wrong. But I’d give it a try. If I’m wrong then I’ll adapt my views, based on evidence.

    I have my own standards but I’m interested in finding a workable, enforceable consensus. I’m not going to change my standards based on the consensus but I may have to compromise on, hopefully minor, points.

    But, what is that “something else” that involuntary reaction, consensus and majority must adhere to before you are on board? Under subjectivism, it must be your personal preference, which logically validates anyone’s personal preferences as moral.

    No, it has to do with finding a workable consensus and being open and honest about what I consider negotiable.

    It’s interesting: I have ‘faith’ that most people on the planet are roughly aligned with my basic moral structure whereas you are continually claiming that majority rules is bad implying that most people are horrid and immoral and can only be held in control under a rigorous and absolute moral structure. I think I have more trust in my fellow human beings than you do.

    The only rational option is: your own involuntary reactions, consensus or majority must conform in all significant areas to the objective standard you sense with your conscience or else you will dimiss it or defy it.

    No, I’d say that was not a fair representation of my view.

    Most people are fine living with irrational, largely unexamined viewpoints, and live productive, happy, sufficiently moral lives. This is an argument about the logic, not an indictment of anyone’s lifestyle.

    Well, perhaps my participation is misplaced.

  293. 293

    But this can happen with objective moral standards as well.

    Appealing to consensus is problematic under both systems, but at least under objective morality one can have a valid basis for defying consensus.

    I agree that public consensus is not ideal but unless you can present an objective, enforceable moral standard then what else have we got?

    Conscience interpreted by logic based on the premise that an objective morality exists, is binding on everyone, and the willingness to put forth some effort in examining our lives/experience in order to better accommodate and promote the good – pursued with great caution and mitigated by the humble knowledge that we are fallible observers and interpreters of the moral landscape.

    Sorry, I offer no list of instructions or tablet of chiseled rules. What I have is a difficult, ongoing process involving a lot of effort and honest introspection.

    I don’t see why there must be something superior.

    For the reason I just said. Unless you’re willing to adopt whatever the consensus says and bend your own views accordingly, there must be something superior to consensus by which you can assert consensus wrong and work against it.

    What do you propose?

    Conscience interpreted by logic based on the premise that an objective morality exists, is binding on everyone, and the willingness to put forth some effort in examining our lives/experience in order to better accommodate and promote the good – pursued with great caution and mitigated by the humble knowledge that we are fallible observers and interpreters of the moral landscape.

    Whatever, why not try and form a general human moral standard based on cross-culcutural common moral beliefs?

    Will you abandon such a standard as soon as it does something like asserting that homosexuality is immoral? Or that atheism isn’t to be tolerated? Or that it is immoral to have more than one child? Moral subjectviists are all for the consensus until they strongly disagree with the consensus.

    You do seem to like to make assumptions about me and my motivations. You seem to have a preconceived notions about how I’m going to think or react.

    You’re free to tell me if I’m wrong in those assumptions. I assume that if the consensus said that atheism is immoral and atheism wouldn’t be tolerated, you’d ditch the consensus?

    The consensus doesn’t determine what is moral; it’s folly to try and make such an argument.

    You said it in your very next line, which I will bolden:

    I have my own standards but I’m interested in finding a workable, enforceable consensus. I’m not going to change my standards based on the consensus but I may have to compromise on, hopefully minor, points.

    You cannot logically appeal to consensus as the zenith of moral authority and then say you will not submit to the authority of consensus other than on minor points if you disagree with it. Consensus either is, or is not, that which has ultimate authority over what is moral.

    You’ve blatantly said what has ultimate authority: you. So, you are either holding your own subjective, personal preferences above any consensus (moral subjectivism), or you are holding objective moral standards, which you subjectively access via conscience and interpret as best you can (hopefully using reason) as superior to consensus.

    Which would you say would actually be superior to consensus and give you not only the right to disagree with, challenge and disobey consensus if necessary, but the obligation to do so if consensus is wrong: personal preference, or an understanding that consensus in some instances was in contradiction with an objectively true moral good?

    Only the latter offers such right and obligation; personal preference offers nothing but “because I feel like it” when you buck consensus decree.

    It’s interesting: I have ‘faith’ that most people on the planet are roughly aligned with my basic moral structure whereas you are continually claiming that majority rules is bad implying that most people are horrid and immoral and can only be held in control under a rigorous and absolute moral structure. I think I have more trust in my fellow human beings than you do.

    Whether or not a majority comes up with a good or horrid set of morals is entirely irrelevant to the point; you will ditch majority rules as soon as you disagree strongly enough, thus majority or consensus cannot be your moral authority. Thus, logically, personal preference must be your actualmoral authority despite your dragging consensus and majority into the debate.

    This is the part where introspetive analysis would reveal that yes, you will ditch majority, consensus, and anything else if you disagree with it strongly enough, logically meaning that subjectivist morality ultimately boils down to “because I feel like it”.

    Which can justify anything. It’s absurd as a moral principle.

    No, I’d say that was not a fair representation of my view.

    Of course not; I said it’s the only alternative to, essentially, “because I feel like it”, which is logically what moral subjectivism boils down to.

  294. 294
    Jerad says:

    WJM 299

    Appealing to consensus is problematic under both systems, but at least under objective morality one can have a valid basis for defying consensus.

    As long as you know what the objective moral standard is.

    Conscience interpreted by logic based on the premise that an objective morality exists, is binding on everyone, and the willingness to put forth some effort in examining our lives/experience in order to better accommodate and promote the good – pursued with great caution and mitigated by the humble knowledge that we are fallible observers and interpreters of the moral landscape.

    Gee, that sounds a lot like my approach albeit you’ve added some feel-good clauses.

    Sorry, I offer no list of instructions or tablet of chiseled rules. What I have is a difficult, ongoing process involving a lot of effort and honest introspection.

    Sounds a lot like my approach.

    Whatever, why not try and form a general human moral standard based on cross-culcutural common moral beliefs?

    Will you abandon such a standard as soon as it does something like asserting that homosexuality is immoral? Or that atheism isn’t to be tolerated? Or that it is immoral to have more than one child? Moral subjectviists are all for the consensus until they strongly disagree with the consensus.

    I will always stand up for what I think is morally correct. And there are times when I am in disagreement with societal norms. Again, I’m not talking about my personal standard but about a good way to come up with a workable, enforceable societal norm.

    You’re free to tell me if I’m wrong in those assumptions. I assume that if the consensus said that atheism is immoral and atheism wouldn’t be tolerated, you’d ditch the consensus?

    I’m frequently in disagreement with the consensus. But generally I can live with the one in England where I reside.

    The consensus doesn’t determine what is moral; it’s folly to try and make such an argument.

    No, but it can come up with a workable, enforceable compromise.

    You cannot logically appeal to consensus as the zenith of moral authority and then say you will not submit to the authority of consensus other than on minor points if you disagree with it. Consensus either is, or is not, that which has ultimate authority over what is moral.

    I think you’ve misunderstood my point. I don’t think there is a zenith of moral authority so I work for a consensus that we can live with.

    You’ve blatantly said what has ultimate authority: you. So, you are either holding your own subjective, personal preferences above any consensus (moral subjectivism), or you are holding objective moral standards, which you subjectively access via conscience and interpret as best you can (hopefully using reason) as superior to consensus.

    I don’t think I’m thinking or saying either of those two things actually. You keep wanting to force an absolute moral standard which I don’t think exists so I’m not thinking anyone, including myself, holds it.

    Which would you say would actually be superior to consensus and give you not only the right to disagree with, challenge and disobey consensus if necessary, but the obligation to do so if consensus is wrong: personal preference, or an understanding that consensus in some instances was in contradiction with an objectively true moral good?

    I try hard to stand up for what I think is right and just. Some places I could not live as I disagree with significant aspects of the local cultural moral norm.

    Whether or not a majority comes up with a good or horrid set of morals is entirely irrelevant to the point; you will ditch majority rules as soon as you disagree strongly enough, thus majority or consensus cannot be your moral authority. Thus, logically, personal preference must be your actualmoral authority despite your dragging consensus and majority into the debate.

    I would move if I felt in too great of conflict with my neighbours with no chance of changing things. Of course I will think I’m right! But, you know what . . . over the years, I’ve changed my mind about some things. I’m not consistent or objective either.

    This is the part where introspetive analysis would reveal that yes, you will ditch majority, consensus, and anything else if you disagree with it strongly enough, logically meaning that subjectivist morality ultimately boils down to “because I feel like it”.

    Who said I ever ‘accepted’ the consensus? I only suggest it as a reasonable way of making societal choices!!

    We should probably quit though. I think we’re talking at cross purposes.

  295. 295
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Depends on what you mean by “an authority”, then. If you mean person or book, I disagree that those can be a sound basis for morality.

    In the subjectivist model, the ultimate authority is the individual. The individual can even choose some moral system, but the reason for the choice is what matters – it’s because of the moral authority given to the individual, not to an external, objective source.

    In theistic objective models, the ultimate authority is usually God. The authority of God is essential to the moral logic (human persons are created by God with a conscience to know right from wrong, and God judges moral acts, etc).

    But objective models can also use the authority of a person or book, but that authority has to be justified significantly enough to claim that there is an objective model at work.

    … ultimately relying on such sources above one’s own conscientious and logical pursuit of moral comprehension puts one at risk (for example, radical Islam and various violent cults that expressly rely on authority, overriding their own conscience and reason).

    If a person relies on his own judgement to create and administer moral laws for himself, that is subjectivism.
    Objective morality looks beyond the person to an authority. In the case above, you’re judging the value of one objective moral code vs another (your own vs Islam) which is good, but Islam presents an objective moral code. That is superior to subjectivism since it can be judged (as you are doing) and corrected or improved upon. That is not possible with subjectivism.

    Islam, for example, entirely eschews reason as tool for evaluating morality. Once you abandon reason, anything is fair game.

    I sort of agree, but Islam is an objective code and it also follows from logical, or rational premises.

    By his nature, Allah has the right to command moral laws. Therefore, humans must follow the laws for reasons known to Allah alone, even if it doesn’t conform to human logic.
    That is actually a logical defense and is rational.

    In other words, a person cannot arrive at a moral system on rationality and logic alone — since morality is a system of justice and consequences. Morality requires a lawmaker and adjudication of the laws.

    Using rationality and logic alone as the source of a moral system is a form of subjectivism. An objective moral system references an authority outside of the individual.

    We should use rationality and logic to discover the objective moral law, but not to create it.

  296. 296

    SA said:

    We should use rationality and logic to discover the objective moral law, but not to create it.

    Yes, logic is a tool that must be used on something else – a premise, for example; it cannot invent a moral code from whole cloth. However, where our views may diverge is what it is appropriate to apply logic to in order to understand moral law, and the extent to which it should be used.

    In the case of Allah (and some views of the Christian God), the authority can issue moral orders that are (1) in conflict with previous moral orders, and (2) in conflict with conscience.

    If humans have no presumed means of verifying moral orders as valid (such as through conscience and reason), we have no means of identifying a potential erroneous application of faith in an authority.

    IOW, after the faith-commitment to a source of moral authority, if what issues from that moral authority is not required to conform to conscience or logic, we have no capacity to discover our error.

    Just as we have a capacity to empirically check our physical theories via physical senses arbited by logic, we must have a capacity to empirically check our moral theories against error. Either we have the mental/spiritual equivalent of a physical sensory capacity through which we can empirically (as it applies to the mental/spiritual realm) check moral claims, or we have no means by which to safeguard (as best we can) against error.

    Although eyesight and our other senses are subjective, we hold them to be sensing an objective world. Without that, we’re flying in the dark and subject to, like under subjectivism, any supposed moral command, no matter how egregious against conscience or irrational.

  297. 297
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    In the case of Allah (and some views of the Christian God), the authority can issue moral orders that are (1) in conflict with previous moral orders, and (2) in conflict with conscience.

    I see a problem in both cases. 1st, we haven’t determined why a change in moral orders is illogical. 2nd, our conscience can be mistaken on some points. It needs education and clarification.

    If humans have no presumed means of verifying moral orders as valid (such as through conscience and reason), we have no means of identifying a potential erroneous application of faith in an authority.

    I disagree since one can verify the quality and nature of the authority also. If the authority is high enough (direct command by God) that is a greater means of verification than from one’s own judgement. We can judge the moral life of the authority also – we could decide to imitate a certain moral life in a person who lives a specific code. Reason and conscience assist the process but they’re not alone.

    IOW, after the faith-commitment to a source of moral authority, if what issues from that moral authority is not required to conform to conscience or logic, we have no capacity to discover our error.

    Logic, reason and conscience can assist with moral judgements but they can’t be the ultimate authority. If God is the law-giver, knowing the nature of God is necessary in understanding moral authority.

    Just as we have a capacity to empirically check our physical theories via physical senses arbited by logic, we must have a capacity to empirically check our moral theories against error.

    Yes, true but the nature and quality of the authority that adjudicates the law is part of it. If the person is the lawgiver, judge and defendant – then that’s subjectivism.

    Either we have the mental/spiritual equivalent of a physical sensory capacity through which we can empirically (as it applies to the mental/spiritual realm) check moral claims, or we have no means by which to safeguard (as best we can) against error.

    Key phrase – “as best we can”. The very same method is used in determining the value of religious teachers, revelations and writings. There is no absolute means of verifying the source of religious revelation – but we judge the quality of the revelation on the nature of the prophet and what he/she taught.

    Although eyesight and our other senses are subjective, we hold them to be sensing an objective world. Without that, we’re flying in the dark and subject to, like under subjectivism, any supposed moral command, no matter how egregious against conscience or irrational.

    The moral law has meaning in a theistic model because it emanates from God. It can be discovered, in part, through nature. But we also have to consider human authorities who either claim to speak for God or have a deep understanding of God through direct communication or prayer, etc.

    Without that, the moral code has no real consequences.

    A moral law without a judge and law-giver – without consequences – is an illogical concept.

  298. 298

    SA said:

    A moral law without a judge and law-giver – without consequences – is an illogical concept.

    Well, I agree that a moral law without consequences is a useless concept, but a natural moral law requires no judge or law-giver; it’s considered an innate aspect of existence,, which requires a good god as creator in order to imbue existence with oughts. Consequences are sewn into the fabric of existence as much as the consequences of ignoring gravity are sewn into existence.

    That may be our disagreement; I don’t hold that god commands morality in any common sense of the term; nor can god change his mind about what is good; good is an innate, immutable aspect of god and is necessarily sewn into the fabric of whatever god creates.

    I disagree since one can verify the quality and nature of the authority also.

    Without logic or conscience, how do you propose one goes about verifying the quality and nature of any supposed moral authority? “Direct command from God” requires some sort of means to verify that you’re getting a command from God.

  299. 299
    Silver Asiatic says:

    WJM

    Well, I agree that a moral law without consequences is a useless concept, but a natural moral law requires no judge or law-giver; it’s considered an innate aspect of existence,, which requires a good god as creator in order to imbue existence with oughts.

    “Imbuing existence with oughts” is what a law-giver does in this case. The natural moral law and conscience itself points to a judge beyond the individual. That’s where consequences come from. That’s where justice comes from. There is a law-giver in the theistic perspective – creator of the moral law. Nature does not operate independently. Moral laws don’t emerge from unintelligent sources. They come from a law-giver. That law-giver, logically, is the judge of human acts. That’s why there’s a moral law in nature.

    Consequences are sewn into the fabric of existence as much as the consequences of ignoring gravity are sewn into existence.

    I don’t think we can necessarily observe the consequences of ignoring the moral law. Many people ignore moral laws (of various kinds) and appear to benefit from that. In many cases, we can’t tell what the consequences are – only an impartial and all-knowing, just judge could determine that. We could say “nature itself administers justice” but consequences have to fit the action. A person does many good acts and never receives benefits in this life a person does evil and received benefits. Where are the rewards for good acts vs evil?

    That may be our disagreement; I don’t hold that god commands morality in any common sense of the term; nor can god change his mind about what is good; good is an innate, immutable aspect of god and is necessarily sewn into the fabric of whatever god creates.

    Yes, as I said, understanding of morality requires an understanding of the nature of the law-giver (or creator of the moral law). You understand God as all good and immutable. Thus, you expect morality to be the same.

    If humans have no presumed means of verifying moral orders as valid (such as through conscience and reason), we have no means of identifying a potential erroneous application of faith in an authority.

    Without logic or conscience, how do you propose one goes about verifying the quality and nature of any supposed moral authority? “Direct command from God” requires some sort of means to verify that you’re getting a command from God.

    I think I misunderstood your point.

    First, we generally have no absolute means of determining the validity of moral laws. We have to use several means to make the best judgement we can.
    Secondly, I didn’t mean that we don’t use logic or conscience or rationality in our decision-making or judgement of moral norms. I was talking about judging the norms themselves versus judging where the norms come from (the nature of the authority that gives them).

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