Intelligent Design

Quote of the Day

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Seversky

I do not hold that there are no binding moral principles. I say we are entitled to decide for ourselves which moral codes should bind us. This does not mean that abominations like the Nazis or Stalinist Russia or Pol Pot’s Cambodia are inevitable. Those regimes imposed their policies by the most brutal violence and certainly did not seek the opinions, let alone the consent, of those they oppressed.

Only a materialist could string those sentences together.

19 Replies to “Quote of the Day

  1. 1
    asauber says:

    Is Seversky saying that the “entitled to decide for ourselves which moral codes should bind us” is an endowed and binding moral principle? Or is that something we decide for ourselves without any outside considerations?

    Andrew

  2. 2

    So what if they imposed their views via totalitarian violence? Aren’t they entitled to decide for themselves that they have the moral right to violently impose their beliefs on others who disagree?

    Madness.

  3. 3
    OldArmy94 says:

    “But, but, I can juggle water, really, guys, really!” -Seversky

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    WJM,

    Madness.

    Seversky says this without the slightest hint of irony or the faintest notion that he understands the view he expresses is utterly incoherent. That he can do this is indeed best described by that word.

  5. 5
    Sebestyen says:

    I think I temporarily lost a couple IQ points just by reading that quote…

  6. 6
    mahuna says:

    I COMPLETELY agree with Seversky. I don’t see the problem.

    There is the question of whether we choose to use raw body counts or prefer a percentage of population. I have recently seen a claim that Kublai Khan killed (was responsible for the deaths of) 40 million people when the total population of the world was much smaller. So should Kublai Khan get ranked before Mao Tse-tung, who killed 100 million people in the 20th century?

    There is also the question of whether the killer makes some claim of religious justification (“Revenge is Mine sayeth the Lord”). But if you allow ANY exemption, then ALL exemptions must be allowed. The Communists killed people they considered enemies of the government. The Nazis killed people who were not socially productive (see ANYTHING on Eugenics and Euthanasia).

    Then there is the question of whether “torture” matters. But if you’re butchering 15 million Ukrainians, the troops get bored and not everyone gets a shot in the back of the head. Similarly, Susan Brownmiller notes in “Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape” that not a SINGLE American was charged with rape during the entire Vietnam war, despite the fact that rape and murder of Vietnamese women and girls was common throughout the entire American involvement. Note that Americans WERE charged with rape of women in Europe in 1944, when the fighting was much better supervised and the victims were WHITE. The unofficial explanation for the lack of charges in Vietnam was “we’re not going to charge a White man with a felony for raping or killing a gook”. The “White man” category was extended to included Black men for the purposes of prosecution.

    I would also remark that the Irish look on Cromwell the way Jews look on Hitler: Cromwell ordered the murder of Irishmen (and women and children) for the crime of being Irish in Ireland. So why are people allowed to admire Cromwell in polite society?

    So I figure I get to choose based on my personal abhorrences who the noteworthy villains are in history. “Evil” is not a useful term because it has special meaning in some religions based on the rules of those religions. And so someone can rape and loot and murder and be considered a hero if that someone gets his ticket punched by the proper cleric.

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    mahuna,

    I COMPLETELY agree with Seversky. I don’t see the problem.

    No surprise there coming from the idiot who insists that murder was not illegal under Norse law so long as you ratted yourself out and that Indians hump each other indiscriminately. I find your opposition somewhat comforting.

  8. 8
    tjguy says:

    I say we are entitled to decide for ourselves which moral codes should bind us.

    Like Nazi Germany you mean? Why were their actions wrong? They did nothing that was not illegal in Germany at the time? Wait. You are not implying that they broke some higher binding moral principle are you?

    It seems you think that oppression is wrong. Why? Why is violence wrong? If a person chooses not to be bound by those principles, then they are free, right? In Nazi Germany’s case, the country chose not to be bound by those principles, so why were their actions wrong?

    We all know that oppression is wrong, but how can a Materialist make that decision? Do we have a vote worldwide to see what people think about it? Country wide? County wide? What if two countries/cultures arrive at differing conclusions about a particular action – like say, slavery?

    Are they wrong to have slaves if they choose not to be bound by that particular moral principle or are they duty bound to recognize the rights of all people? Why? Take N. Korea for instance. They don’t seem particularly concerned about oppression. So is oppression moral in N. Korea, but immoral in Europe/N. America? Why should N. Korea submit to the opinions on morality of other countries? Shouldn’t we just respect the decisions of other cultures instead of judging them and trying to impose our moral views on them?

    Are moral codes are only temporarily binding – binding as long as we say they are binding or choose to submit to them?

    So what was binding in Nazi Germany changed over night when Germany lost the war and then a new set of binding moral principles came into being.

    OK, let’s test out this idea: Is it wrong or immoral to have an affair?

    Ask all the people whose names have just been made public from the Ashley Madison debacle. If it is not wrong, if that is not a binding moral principle, why are we ashamed of it and want to keep it secret?

    If it is wrong, so what? Why not do it if you want to? After all, if I choose for that moral principle not to bind me, then I’m free right? Then it is not wrong for me to do, right?

    How do we decide on whether “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is a moral principle that should be binding or not? If 51% vote for it to be binding, does that mean it is wrong for the other 49% of the people? If so, should they be punished for committing adultery? If not, what does it matter if one commits adultery or not? Why are we bound to follow man made moral rules?

    Seversky, where are you? Help us out of our moral quandary!

  9. 9
    Seversky says:

    asauber @ 1

    Is Seversky saying that the “entitled to decide for ourselves which moral codes should bind us” is an endowed and binding moral principle? Or is that something we decide for ourselves without any outside considerations?

    You are the one implying it is “endowed” by some other authority. I’m saying we decide these things for ourselves. Now give me a good reason why not.

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 2

    So what if they imposed their views via totalitarian violence? Aren’t they entitled to decide for themselves that they have the moral right to violently impose their beliefs on others who disagree?

    “Entitled” by whose permission or authority? Yes, they can decide they have the moral right to impose their beliefs on others by violent. Just as those being threatened by such violent oppression can decide they have the moral right to resist and destroy the oppressors. Does that ring any bells?

    Madness.

    You think the War of Independence was madness?

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    Seversky:

    “Entitled” by whose permission or authority? Yes, they can decide they have the moral right to impose their beliefs on others by violent. Just as those being threatened by such violent oppression can decide they have the moral right to resist and destroy the oppressors. Does that ring any bells?

    Yes, it does. Under your worldview the strongest prevails; the weak succumb. Might makes right Exactly the point I make in my other post based on your quote. At least you are consistent.

  12. 12
    asauber says:

    “they can decide they have the moral right to impose their beliefs on others by violent”

    Seversky,

    Again, under this scenario, “moral” has no meaning. It’s completely subjective. Not sure why you try trying to dress up your position with poetry. Why not use “divine” instead of “moral”? Or “natural”? Or “universal”? It all means whatever “they” want it to mean, which is it doesn’t really mean anything at all.

    Andrew

  13. 13
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Seversky

    Yes, they can decide they have the moral right to impose their beliefs on others by violent.

    So the Nazis or Stalinist Russia or Pol Pot’s Cambodia had the moral right to impose their beliefs by violence.

    You’re still not seeing the problem with your worldview.

  14. 14

    Seversky said:

    I do not hold that there are no binding moral principles. I say we are entitled to decide for ourselves which moral codes should bind us.

    If I can one minute decide for myself that a moral code is binding on me, and decide for myself the next minute that it is not, exactly how is any moral code, the “binding” nature of which we decide for ourselves, binding?

    Then you add this:

    Those regimes imposed their policies by the most brutal violence and certainly did not seek the opinions, let alone the consent, of those they oppressed.

    As if that somehow makes a difference as to the moral nature of what people “decide for themselves”. If morality is whatever people decide it is for themselves, and the “binding” nature whatever, again, they decide for themselves, then in what meaningful way are such morals binding, and in what way does it make any moral difference if such morality is brutally oppressive against some group or other?

    Madness.

  15. 15
    Daniel King says:

    If I can one minute decide for myself that a moral code is binding on me, and decide for myself the next minute that it is not, exactly how is any moral code, the “binding” nature of which we decide for ourselves, binding?

    Strawman erected by misrepresentation. Seversky said that his moral code is “binding,” which means that it is not changeable at a whim.

    You have chosen to have an authority “bind” you. You chose that for yourself, using free will.

    You have nothing to feel superior about.

  16. 16
    Daniel King says:

    Barry:

    Under your worldview the strongest prevails; the weak succumb.

    Under your worldview, God (the strongest) prevails. You (the weak) succumb.

    Where is your moral superiority?

  17. 17

    Daniel King said:

    Strawman erected by misrepresentation. Seversky said that his moral code is “binding,” which means that it is not changeable at a whim.

    Sure it is. He decides for himself whether or not his morals are binding; it is in fact, and by definition, changeable at a whim.

    What’s the penalty if Seversky breaks his moral code? Or changes them on a whim? In what sense are they “binding”?

    You have chosen to have an authority “bind” you. You chose that for yourself, using free will.

    What authority have I chosen to “bind” me? I’d be careful about making assumptions here.

    You have nothing to feel superior about.

    You’re right.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    DK:

    With all due respect, it is a strawman tactic, fallaciously cheap rhetorical shot to try to project “might makes right” unto God.

    Such is a classic example of a too-neat answer that should make you ask yourself, if it’s so quick and simple why have a lot of very serious thinkers across time disagreed with my neat little Euthyphro dilemma-rooted point?

    Is good independent of the gods or just another label for the capricious wishes of the gods imposed by will and power to back it up?

    Do you see the gaping hole that is there?

    As in, making up and knocking over one or more straw-gods, AND TURNING YOURSELF INTO YOUR OWN STRAW GOD BY CONTRAST IN A “MIGHT/ MANIPULATION MAKES ‘RIGHT’ . . . ” NIHILISTIC MORAL CHAOS?

    (As in, “I” get to select and choose just which moral rules I wish to be bound by . . . backed up of course by my will to power.)

    Reductio, ad absurdum; induced by implicit assumption of inherently amoral a priori evolutionary materialism or its influence on its fellow travellers.

    Back to basics, instead.

    Do you have a right to your life, to liberty, to innocent reputation?

    If not, instead of arguing with you, why not simply shoot you, or lock you up or lock you out [and bleating “censorship” is of no account as on your a priories there is no basis for an ought-not] or simply lie and smear to rob you of your reputation. Oops, “rob” is freighted with ought-not, so it’s more like pin you down, drag down your drawers rhetorically and “take” your reputation if I have a fancy to it, enjoying your screams and futile pleas for pity or respect as part of the fun.

    (Resemblance to rape is wholly intended, and I ask you to look very carefully at how often those on your side have resorted to raping the innocent reputations of people on our side then posted whole web sites full of outing — targetting — information, arguing that we asked for it. If you don’t feel ashamed at the routine resort to tactics of violation by your side, you better ask yourself, why. As they say back in my homeland, the frog told the boy approaching it, stone in hand: fun for you is death to me.)

    But, but, but, a community that falls into such circumstances will disintegrate!

    Shades of Kant and the point that evil, when it spreads, disintegrates the community and/or — strictly logically equivalent as Kant showed — uses others of like value as mere objects and means to my ends rather than respecting them as ends in themselves.

    That’s a first clue.

    One, that points to a key point about us: we are responsibly free, morally governed creatures, who have RIGHTS, which implies that others have duties to respect our life, liberty, innocent reputation, etc.

    That is, we have excellent reason to recognise that for people to thrive, rights must be recognised and respected as inhering to beings who have intrinsic, quasi-infinite value and a dignity that demands justice, despite adverse balances of power.

    Might does not and cannot make right.

    Further, we only can thrive (which implies that we ought to value human thriving) in a community that strives to sustain the civil peace of justice.

    And along the way, the very fact that we here have reasoned argument, implies that we intuit and accept that we do have responsible freedom of thought and action — something that cannot obtain on a priori evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers, as Crick for instance acknowledged in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis, in a stunning bit of self-referential incoherence clad in a lab coat badged with a Nobel Prize:

    . . . 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, we have every good reason to see that we are responsibly free, reasoning, morally governed creatures.

    That is, we are patently under government of OUGHT.

    Which, points to the step by step iterative chain of questions, what grounds OUGHT-X (Y, of course), then OUGHT-Y (Z of course), then OUGHT-Z . . . ?

    Thence, we are in the territory of the IS-OUGHT gap.

    Is there an infinite regress? Circularity? Or, a finitely remote foundational level?

    Of these, only a finitely remote foundational set of first plausibles is a serious candidate.

    Infinite regress is absurd and dodges the issue of warrant, and circularity (as opposed to coherence) is question-begging.

    Thus, we are looking at comparative difficulties across main foundational alternatives, on factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power (vs. ad hoc patchworks or simplistic force-fitting).

    And yes, we are looking at worldview roots and philosophical issues and approaches.

    Just what a world dominated by scientism is wont to despise, disregard, dismiss.

    Ill-advisedly, not least as the notion that all serious knowledge is scientific is a self-refuting philosophical claim.

    We are back to: how can we bridge the IS-OUGHT gap?

    For which, the only sound answer is, we must find a world-root IS properly capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT, grounding a world of responsibly free, morally governed creatures who genuinely have a claim to justice as they have rights that go beyond might/manipulation and ‘rights’ as convenient rhetorical clubs.

    That takes us to matters ontological as well as moral, as that is what IS and OUGHT demand.

    So, in a nutshell, first, the world we experience is rooted in necessary being. For non-being has no causal powers and if there ever were an utter noting such would therefore forever obtain. Something is unconditioned and primary, tied inextricably to the existence of a world.

    There is a world-root IS.

    Is it an infinite regress or a circular, self-causing entity? The latter instantly collapses as something must exist in order to have effects. The former simply postpones the problem, and introduces the super-problem of counting down from infinity to reach an origin for our observed world, in finite successive causal steps:

    minus-infinity –> minus infinity less one –> minus infinity less two –> [and yes, I know this is absurd, that is precisely the point] . . .

    – 2, – 1, 0 [origin of our world], +1, + 2, . . .

    + us here today –> . . .

    We can call this, the getting to zero problem.

    (Or, equivalently, the leaving minus infinity problem. [Hint: In Mathematics, infinities are either pointed to as in principle present but not feasible of reaching in finite steps, or are manifested by subdivision/implication of the continuum such as a line segment, or are presented all at once as a Set such as N, Z, R or C.] )

    The way to bet is, a finitely remote world-root IS.

    How can such an IS bridge to OUGHT?

    Only by being in itself inherently moral, and particularly morally good.

    In short — as I have noted here at UD ever so many times — the only serious candidate IS to root the world and bridge to/bear the weight of OUGHT is: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great world-root being, worthy of ultimate loyalty and our reasonable service of doing the good in light of our evident nature.

    If you doubt or dismiss, kindly provide and justify a serious alternative: ________________ . . .

    (Predictably, setting distractors, patently non-serious candidates and side-tracks aside, there will be none.)

    How can such answer Euthyphro’s dilemma?

    By first noting that such a being is radically different from ourselves and from the sort of nihilistic supermen gods projected unto Mt Olympus or wherever.

    Next, we see that good and God are inextricably mutually involved, so the project of separating good from God collapses.

    A conceptual failure to understand what God inherently is.

    Nor is God simply imposing arbitrary will and power, as his creatures with natures that manifest evident value, dignity and purpose, we owe and are owed mutual duties of justice, both to one another and to our Creator.

    Hence, the too often repeated project of trying to pretend that the tail of a sheep is a leg and demanding that such must now be treated as a leg collapses for the same reason that we cannot create a new primary colour, such is not in our remit. We are not God, and the inherent natures of tails and legs so diverge that a sheep’s tail simply will not work as a leg.

    Might/manipulation do not and cannot make ‘right.’

    And, as a bonus, we see why a doctrine of eternal audit/judgement makes sense — God owes us the duty of justice and a final hearing.

    Which, we most assuredly will face by the same eternal justice that is a part of that inherent goodness of God.

    Guaranteed to us by “the man ordained,” and shown to be such to all, by his resurrection from the dead as “first-fruits of them who sleep.”

    And of course, this all comes full circle tot he force of the point Locke cited from Hooker in his 2nd treatise on civil govt as he founded in thought what would become modern liberty and democracy:

    . . . 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]

    It is time for fresh thinking.

    KF

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