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CT4: AK on morality: “Since the moral fabric is man made, all we are doing is seeing it change . . .”

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Sometimes, one of our frequent objectors has a truly noteworthy letting- the- cat- out- of- the- bag moment that is worth headlining. In the still live CT2 thread, AK unwittingly exposes the incoherence and implied amorality of atheistical, evolutionary materialism when he comments in key part:

AK, 80: >>Since the moral fabric is man made, all we are doing is seeing it change, as it has done over the centuries. Sometimes history shows that the change has been for the good, and sometimes for the bad. But since civilization is thriving, it is reasonable to conclude that we have had more wins than losses.>>

Note first, [s]ince the moral fabric is man-made.”

Here, the question is clearly begged in grand style. In answer, it is certain that we are morally governed by ought (which is often different from what is and challenges it). For particularly relevant instance, the force of persuasion in AK’s argument pivots on the enduring nature of our minds being governed by duties to serve truth, rationality and justice etc. So, the argument parasites off what it would undermine: we find ourselves ineluctably under moral government, under moral law. A law so deeply embedded in our nature as reasoning, responsible agents that those who object actually depend on our adhering to the laws they object to in order to gain some power of persuasion.

So, immediately, we see deep incoherence and can instantly dismiss the assertions as little more than currently fashionable confident manner, manipulative, parasitical question-begging.

Then, in expanding on “all we are doing is see it change,” we see the telling incoherence: “[s]ometimes history shows that the change has been for the good, and sometimes for the bad.”

In short, having just denied an enduring yardstick of morality, instantly one is smuggled back in. Oops.

As in, how do we ever tell the difference between for the good/bad, apart from might and/or manipulation make such so and what AK favours is by definition good while what he frowns on is by definition bad? (As in, these words are little more than a radical secularist power grab to enforce its preferences in the name of being “the brights” etc?)

This of course opens the door to might and manipulation make ‘right’/ ‘rights’/ ‘truth’/ ‘logic’/ ‘justice’/ ‘knowledge’ etc. Which is outright nihilism. As was pointed out to AK in the thread but which was, predictably, studiously ignored.

After all, one may often rhetorically drown out an inconvenient point by brazenly ignoring it and drumming on with one’s favourite talking points and hobby horses, especially if they are the fashion of the day.  Here, turning medical practitioners into licenced killers in the name of “end of life care,” promoting cynical counterfeits of marriage under false colour of law [which directly undermines a central stabilising institution, family, and corrupts many others: courts, media, education, parliaments etc], teaching young children the techniques of sexual vices and perversions in the name of education, enabling the ongoing holocaust of our living posterity in the womb [currently a million further victims per week] and the like.

Given that a fallacy is by definition a misleading but often persuasive argument, such tactics are why some key cases need to be identified, highlighted and corrected, so that the balance on the merits may be plain to those who need help in seeing through the fallacies involved.

Going further, a key underlying appeal is to subjectivism, relativism and emotivism as the roots of morality. Accordingly, the following observations (which were cited in thread but — predictably — were studiously ignored) are well worth noting. So, I headline an excerpted chapter summary, on Subjectivism, Relativism, and Emotivism, in Doing Ethics 3rd Edn, by Lewis Vaughn, W W Norton, 2012. [Also see here and here.]:

>> . . . Subjective relativism is the view that an action is morally right if one approves of it. A person’s approval makes the action right. This doctrine (as well as cultural relativism) is in stark contrast to moral objectivism, the view that some moral principles are valid for everyone.. Subjective relativism, though, has some troubling implications. It implies that each person is morally infallible and that individuals can never have a genuine moral disagreement

Cultural relativism is the view that an action is morally right if one’s culture approves of it. The argument for this doctrine is based on the diversity of moral judgments among cultures: because people’s judgments about right and wrong differ from culture to culture, right and wrong must be relative to culture, and there are no objective moral principles. This argument is defective, however, because the diversity of moral views does not imply that morality is relative to cultures. In addition, the alleged diversity of basic moral standards among cultures may be only apparent, not real. Societies whose moral judgments conflict may be differing not over moral principles but over nonmoral facts.

Some think that tolerance is entailed by cultural relativism. But there is no necessary connection between tolerance and the doctrine. Indeed, the cultural relativist cannot consistently advocate tolerance while maintaining his relativist standpoint. To advocate tolerance is to advocate an objective moral value. But if tolerance is an objective moral value, then cultural relativism must be false, because it says that there are no objective moral values.

Like subjective relativism, cultural relativism has some disturbing consequences. It implies that cultures are morally infallible, that social reformers can never be morally right, that moral disagreements between individuals in the same culture amount to arguments over whether they disagree with their culture, that other cultures cannot be legitimately criticized, and that moral progress is impossible.

Emotivism is the view that moral utterances are neither true nor false but are expressions of emotions or attitudes. It leads to the conclusion that people can disagree only in attitude, not in beliefs. People cannot disagree over the moral facts, because there are no moral facts. Emotivism also implies that presenting reasons in support of a moral utterance is a matter of offering nonmoral facts that can influence someone’s attitude. It seems that any nonmoral facts will do, as long as they affect attitudes. Perhaps the most far-reaching implication of emotivism is that nothing is actually good or bad. There simply are no properties of goodness and badness. There is only the expression of favorable or unfavorable emotions or attitudes toward something.>>

Such should give serious pause to those inclined to run with today’s popular, heavily promoted notions on moral government. Going further, they all imply that our sense of being bound by duty (starting with the life of the mind) is delusional, a grand delusion that pervades our world of thought, speech and action. They thus must be self-referentially incoherent. They also imply that our life of the mind is governed by delusion, i.e. they imply grand delusion and contradict the requisites of rationality.

Such can be safely set aside.

We then must start afresh, taking our moral, rational, responsible agency seriously.

A good first test case was laid out in the thread (and was of course studiously ignored by AK):

>> a good yardstick case to start from is that it is self-evidently evil to pounce on, kidnap, bind and gag, sexually torture and assault a young child on the way home from school then murder the child to prevent being caught, all for one’s pleasure. Start from that the child has neither strength nor eloquence to resist or persuade. From this, much else will emerge.>>

The child, clearly, has legitimate rights despite its lack of strength to impose might or eloquence to impose manipulation. Rights that inhere to his or her nature and worth as a human being. Which of course cannot be grounded on origin by meaningless, purposeless cumulative lucky accidents filtered by reproductive advantage in a wholly materialist world that has no IS in it that can bear the awesome weight of OUGHT.

Besides, such evolutionary materialism is self-refuting as an account of the minds used to think evolutionary materialistic thoughts. As J B S Haldane long since put ever so pithily:

>>”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. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]>>

What, then, is an is capable of bearing the weight of ought, of moral government?

Post Hume, there is but one level that such can be found, or we still have an ungrounded ought. Namely, the world-root level. IS must be fused to OUGHT in the world root, on pain of ungrounded ought and its consequences as we already saw.

For that, after centuries of debates, there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good and wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; one worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

That’s not a theological dogma, it is a philosophical invitation to comparative difficulties assessment. If you object, simply put up a serious alternative that can pass the comparative difficulties tests of factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power: _____ .  (The challenge is to do that, given that at this level there are but few serious candidates. Predictably, on track record, this challenge will be ducked or brushed aside.)

So, we find that this case of a key inadvertent admission against interest by one of our frequent objectors opens the door to serious examination of our civilisation’s dominant worldviews and cultural agendas. An adapted form of the seven mountains illustration may be helpful:

In turn, that opens up room to reflect on where we are heading as a civilisation, and what we must do to turn back before it is too late:

Food for thought. END

22 Replies to “CT4: AK on morality: “Since the moral fabric is man made, all we are doing is seeing it change . . .”

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    CT4: AK on morality: “Since the moral fabric is man made, all we are doing is seeing it change . . .”

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF,

    I am thankful for A[K]. He is an inexhaustible fount of materialist error from which to sample. Here is another statement he made in that same thread when I explained to him why doctors should not kill people (God help us that that needed to be explained):

    “I guess that I prefer free will and choice.”

    Two lies in one 9-word sentence. First AK is a materialist, which philosophy precludes free will. Allan, you can have your materialism or you can have your free will. You can’t have both.

    Second, AK does not prefer choice. Like everyone else, he acts as if his subjective moral preferences are objective norms binding on others.

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    Barry:
    Like everyone else, he acts as if his subjective moral preferences are objective norms binding on others.
    “The Skeptical Zone” in a nutshell.

    I just love this one by Glen Davidson:

    It’s a truth thing. You’d never understand it.

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mung,
    Yup. With the exception of VT, whom I still admire greatly.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, one hopes that the more thoughtful and straightforward objectors are taking second thoughts as they see the implications and dynamics of evo mat ideology more or less baldly stated by an adherent. That is a step up from the rhetoric of the cleverly evasive. I wonder, in particular, if is is registering that with the abortion holocaust we have turned doctors into licenced killers, and now the scope of the licence is threatening to expand drastically. Somehow, I think the ghost of a certain immigrant gardener in Brazil who had once been a medical doctor in the SS is trying to warn us against the road we are travelling. Mengele had 30 years to learn to regret what he had done. KF

  6. 6
    ScuzzaMan says:

    I took a leaf from the Cold Warriors who invented the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction, and so I invented a new MAD-man, the Materialist Atheist Darwinian.

    The echoes are eerie yet oddly pleasing, seeing as the new MAD men are utterly assured (and constantly assuring each other) that everything will die in the cold of a universal heat death.

  7. 7
    groovamos says:

    But since civilization is thriving,

    The part that the current economic leadership has control over, yes.

    Since the moral fabric is man made

    yes again, and the raising of boys without fathers is the outcome of how well that is working out, under the cultural leadership of academia, media, and the bureaucracies. Another school shooting today, right after the one last week. Baltimore and Chicago and other cities are war zones. Almost half of babies born to single mothers in the USA. Flash mobs are using phones and social media to organize and attack crowds of law abiding citizens. Marriage is imploding as a social and spiritual institution, and the last blow on that one is legalizing marriage between people to whom marriage vows could never have any logical basis beyond protecting the partner from STD’s.

    I can’t shut up without reference to the collapse of the educational systems and academia. When I was in L.A. in the ’70’s they had the best big city school system in the nation. Now it’s one of the worst. When I try to discuss this with CA friends they will never discuss the reasons why this is the case now. It’s like if you talk about it you are crossing the line.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Groov, remember, for AK, a thriving civilisation includes an in progress holocaust mounting up at a million more victims per week. That should give us serious pause as we reflect on what it means to be en-darkened under false colours of enlightenment and progress. KF

  9. 9
    DATCG says:

    Groovamos @7, well said.

    What we’re seeing today without blinders is a march off the cliff for future generations. We see it in mobs attacking people who simply have a different opinion on best ways to solve problems. In fact, problem solving is no longer allowed in certain categories by the totalitarian leftist.

    Blindness begets blind totalitarianism.

    It’s happened through history, over and over. It’s going to happen again. People are not marching off to utopia by following the left. They’re marching off to eventual suicide of nations for future generations.

    We’re in a holding pattern for now. But the march can begin anew very quickly off the cliff.

  10. 10
    DATCG says:

    KF,

    “This of course opens the door to might and manipulation make ‘right’/ ‘rights’/ ‘truth’/ ‘logic’/ ‘justice’/ ‘knowledge’ etc. Which is outright nihilism. As was pointed out to AK in the thread but which was, predictably, studiously ignored.”

    Blind beliefs in blind events lead to blind adherence. There is no way for a blind person to see in this case the err of their ways.

    Stalin/Hitler/Mao/Castro/Pol Pot/Rome/Greece/Persia/Babylon and yes Israel who turned to blindness.

    America is on a steep path to blindness for quite some time now.

    And we see evidence of the decline from Berkeley to Evergreen and mobs attacking individuals in restaurants over differences in opinion, beliefs and ideology. Even in the case of Evergreen, mobs of students with bats roaming campus and scaring the hell out of a traditionally liberal professor. Where the Administration told police to stand down.

    Evidence of brown shirts encouraged to intimidate?

  11. 11
    Florabama says:

    It’s very simple really — moral truth is either transcendent i.e. outside of man, or it doesn’t exist because it is only your opinion versus my opinion, and bringing “good” or “bad,” right or wrong into a discussion when one’s worldview has no place for such concepts as AK has done is patently silly and reveals a lack of comprehension and a level of illogic that’s scary to see in a grown man. But it does reveal one truth. A-mats cannot live consistent with their own worldview. As Van Till said, they must crawl up in God’s lap to slap him in the face. In other words they must borrow the Judeo-Christian worldview to argue that it is not relevant.

  12. 12
    Seversky says:

    It could be argued that “moral truth” is an oxymoron.

    On the correspondence theory of truth, a statement or claim about the world is true to the extent it can be observed to correspond with whatever it describes. But moral claims are prescriptive not descriptive. They tell us how we should behave towards one another not how things are. They are about ‘ought’ not ‘is’. We may agree or disagree with them but they are neither true nor false.

    As for moral codes, if you allow that other beings can create them, why shouldn’t we? It might be a rather messy and drawn-out business but in the end it would be something we have worked out for ourselves rather than having foisted on us from above.

    A/mats have no qualms about ‘borrowing’ from various religious or philosophical sources. Why should they? If someone else has come up with a good idea why not adopt it? It goes on all the time. Do you think Judeo-Christianity has not borrowed from other traditions?

    And as for van Till’s little quip about slapping God in the face, based on the reports of some of His behavior in the Old Testament, that is the least He deserves.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, that you imagine that moral truth is likely a contradiction in terms — i.e. an oxymoron — is diagnostic. Is it true or not that your mind is governed by duties to truth, reasoning correctly and prudently, fairness and justice, etc? If your answer is no, then that implies that your mind has become essentially a tool of manipulation constrained only by what you think you cannot — yet! — get away with. And that, too is another moral truth: the mind and life not governed by such duties becomes reprobate or debased. Going further, we notice, that you expect us to be governed in our thought-life by such duties, or your appeals would fail. So, is it that you expect us sheeple to conform to your demand to rule our minds? The logic of might and manipulation begins to emerge, you have opened the door to nihilism. This implies that the principle at work is that the dismissal of moral truth is a parasite on others not operating in that way; it is thus identifiable as evil and inconsistent with the fundamental equality and mutuality of us as a race. So, too, we see the significance of the moral truth that our minds are governed by moral duties that are inherently transcendent, laws of our nature as responsibly and rationally significantly free creatures. In short, as there are moral realities, there are moral truths that accurately describe them, as a basis for reasoning about and acting on them. KF

    PS: It is a bit tiresome to see yet again the oh the God of the Bible is a moral monster new atheist style talking point. If morality is fundamentally delusional as such atheism implies, there is no basis for the sort of outrage we see in the rhetoric, apart from intent to manipulate the sheeple emotionally. Which is again parasitical and irresponsible. And indeed, the implied arraignment of God as utterly unjust has to first ground the premise of rejecting evil appealed to. The only serious candidate understanding of evil is that it is the frustration, perversion or privation of what is good; reducing the challenge to grounding good without fundamental purpose in the root of reality and — on evo mat atheistical premises — without a sound bridge between is and ought. The only serious candidate is as described in the OP; the inherently good God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of our reasonable and responsible service. There are responsible ways to discuss such matters in detail, and there are people such as Craig, Copan and many others who do so in substantial and accessible sites and books. A discussion of the matter in depth is a significant theological, exegetical and contextual exercise, not a proper focus for UD — as you have long since known. (Yet another sign.) I suggest as a 101 on the wider theme of the sins and blessings of the Christendom that such atheists so viscerally despise and would utterly overturn in their imagined path to utopia, you may go here. Koukl here may be helpful as a second stop. A collection of essays here may help also.

  14. 14
    Allan Keith says:

    Sev,

    As for moral codes, if you allow that other beings can create them, why shouldn’t we? It might be a rather messy and drawn-out business but in the end it would be something we have worked out for ourselves rather than having foisted on us from above.

    This reminds me of the world around us. Different assemblages of moral values trying our best to come to various compromises.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev and AK, one is free to make up a list and call it a moral code. That such a suggested or even imposed code reflects moral reality is a very different question; the track record of the past 250 years is not very good on that, especially when we notice the heart of the current exchanges: an ongoing holocaust. And, the comment just now that God deserves to be slapped speaks, volumes. KF

    PS: The Astute reader will observe how studiously the challenge to examine a yardstick case is being dodged. Sev makes up a code and is seconded by AK, on which it is perfectly okay to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and kill a young child on the way home from school. After all, morality is just man-made and is a matter of might and manipulation, wheeling and dealing among power elites. (Resemblance to the current wave of issues on pedophilia is not coincidental.) The absurdity of such a performance exposes the holes in the evo mat driven radical relativism and subjectivism of our day, especially when you further realise that they expect us to be bound by duties of care to truth, reason, justice and more. Notice, too, that they have not got any coherent basis for bridging is and ought, much less some novel code that has in it anything to commend itself as anything more than empty words whose only substance is the power of those who back it.

  16. 16
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 13

    Sev, that you imagine that moral truth is likely a contradiction in terms — i.e. an oxymoron — is diagnostic. Is it true or not that your mind is governed by duties to truth, reasoning correctly and prudently, fairness and justice, etc?

    I regard myself as bound to abide by certain moral principles – yes, which include duties to truth, reason, fairness and justice – both for the protection of my own interests and well-being and those of the other members of the society in which I live.

    I would also note that, if you insist on framing moral obligation in terms of governance, then in a democracy – which I think we agree is the least worst form of government – an administration in principle derives its authority and legitimacy from being the express will of the governed and can only continue with their assent. In my view, the same should be true of moral governance, that it should be the product of inter-subjective agreement amongst those who consent to be bound by its terms.

    PS: It is a bit tiresome to see yet again the oh the God of the Bible is a moral monster new atheist style talking point. If morality is fundamentally delusional as such atheism implies, there is no basis for the sort of outrage we see in the rhetoric, apart from intent to manipulate the sheeple emotionally.

    I should point out that it was not me who brought up that demeaning comment from van Till. And I am far from the first to notice that many of the events recounted in the Old Testament, apparently with approval, are at odds with current notions of morality including those of Christians. The fact that exegesis and apologetics have been thriving fields in Christian scholarship for centuries is evidence that the problems were recognized by some very intelligent people long before I ever became aware of them.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, I can take a moment. What grounds the principles you claim to see as binding? How is the IS-OUGHT gap bridged, where it can only be bridged at world-root level. KF

    PS: I have already linked sources on the talking points against biblical, Judaeo Christian theism. UD is not the proper forum for such matters — they would crowd out far more important concerns and would go into a predictable and pointless but polarising spiral of intemperate new atheist rhetoric.

  18. 18
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 15

    Sev and AK, one is free to make up a list and call it a moral code. That such a suggested or even imposed code reflects moral reality is a very different question; the track record of the past 250 years is not very good on that, especially when we notice the heart of the current exchanges: an ongoing holocaust. And, the comment just now that God deserves to be slapped speaks, volumes. KF

    In another thread, BA77 appears to hold that the Universe only exists by God’s will and is sustained as such by Him on a minute-to-minute basis. That must mean that He is willing and sustaining all the evils such as holocausts therein, so it becomes a perfectly legitimate question to ask why a loving God, who has the knowledge, will and power to choose otherwise, does not do so. If this apparent inaction indicates that such a being does not exist then we are left with no alternative but to create a morality of our own.

    PS: The Astute reader will observe how studiously the challenge to examine a yardstick case is being dodged. Sev makes up a code and is seconded by AK, on which it is perfectly okay to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and kill a young child on the way home from school.

    You are missing the point. Yes, there are a few individuals who will commit those offences without compunction. But the overwhelming majority of parents, children, families and friends will regard those acts as amongst the most heinous acts any human can perpetrate. They have no need of a God or any other outside agency to decide the matter for them. Or are you saying you would not know such acts were wrong unless you had ben told by God?

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, once the key nihilist minority holds policing, military, education and media power they get their way. As proved by living memory and recent history to the tune of 100+ millions dead. We are going down exactly that road again, and now it is plain why people did not avert catastrophe in good time . . . Machiavelli is right, as was Jesus in his warning against being blind to the signs of the times. You need to come to grips with the yardstick case and see why it is self evident, thence the rich harvest of plumbline principles it provides that allow us to correct our crooked, inaccurate yardsticks. KF

    PS: You are trying to raise the now long dead problem of evils, which is parasitical on the problem of good. If you will, that is van Till’s sitting in the lap part. You may wish to look at a 101 on the issue and on Plantinga’s decisive answer here on.

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky, there is a small, fatal, problem with your “reasoning our way to a ‘man made’ morality” belief

    The Problem With Atheism According To A Secular Psychologist – 23/10/2017
    Excerpt: Psych Professor Jordan Peterson nails the problem with modern Atheism when he says:
    “What is irrational about me getting exactly what I want from every one of you whenever I want it at every possible second?…There’s nothing irrational about it. It’s pure naked self-interest.”
    He continues:
    “Why not every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost? It’s a perfectly coherent philosophy, and it’s actually one that you can institute in the world with a fair bit of material success if you want to do it.”
    – Jordan Peterson –,,,
    There are many possible situations where doing good can be considered irrational. Jewish social commentator Dennis Prager gives the following historical example that makes the point:
    “Was it rational or irrational for a non-Jew in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II to risk his or her life to hide a Jew? We all know that this was moral greatness of the highest order. But was it rational?”
    Prager’s answer:
    “Not really. You can’t get much more rational than self-preservation. Moreover, in all the studies I have read of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust — and I have read many — I have never read of any rescuers who said that they did what they did because it was the reasonable or rational thing to do. Not one.”
    It can be rational to cheat on a test, a business deal, or a marriage, if the rewards outweigh the risk of being caught. And it was irrational of non-Jews to put their own lives at enormous risk for the sake of helping Jews during the Holocaust.
    And so here, in a nutshell, is the problem for Atheism:
    4) If Doing Evil Can Be Rational, and Doing Good Can Be Irrational, Then Human Reason Alone Can’t Tell Us Right From Wrong.,,,
    So if it wasn’t reason alone that gave us the western view of human rights, human equality, and human dignity, then where did such a view of humanity come from?
    5) The Western View Of Morality and Human Equality Did Not Arise Through Human Reason Alone
    But Through the Religion of Judeo-Christianity.,,,
    In the words of Atheist philosopher Luc Ferry:
    “Christianity was to introduce the notion that humanity was fundamentally identical, that men were equal in dignity – an unprecedented idea at the time, and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.”
    https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-problem-with-atheism-according-to-a-secular-psychologist/

    Here is my previous reply to Seversky that went unanswered:

    Well Seversky, you may rely on the self-refuting, theologically based, ‘argument from evil’ to try to make your point,,,,,, but I will rely on scientific evidence.,,,
    https://uncommondescent.com/philosophy/at-psychology-today-opponent-asks-does-id-have-a-valid-point-about-agency/#comment-658894

  21. 21
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 17

    Sev, I can take a moment. What grounds the principles you claim to see as binding? How is the IS-OUGHT gap bridged, where it can only be bridged at world-root level. KF

    I see no way to bridge the IS-OUGHT gap which means that there is no way to ground moral prescriptions in observable reality. That leaves us, as human beings, to reach some sort of agreement on how we should all behave towards one another in society so as to protect our common interests, respect others as individuals in the way that we would want to be respected ourselves and ensure, insofar as is possible, the survival and well-being of all. I appreciate that, for many that is unsatisfactory because it is too vague, too uncertain and depends on human beings who can be fickle, ill-informed, partisan and place tribal allegiances above all others but I don’t see a better alternative.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev,

    observable reality is only part of reality.

    For instance, the past of origins is unobservable but there was a past of origins. Similarly, physics is replete with unobservables that are very real — google up a photo of an electron for us,please.

    That’s just for science.

    Mathematical realities often constrain physical observables but are not observable: kindly show us the number two, or negative one or sqrt – 1 or omega [the first transfinite ordinal]. In short, there is a gap in your argument.

    And it gets worse: your argument pivots on our being bound by duties to truth, logic, prudence, fairness etc.

    But if that duty is mere delusion or “convention” (delusion backed by society) then our life of the mind is pervaded by grand delusion — self referential incoherence, reductio ad absurdum. Self-falsification. So, we are bound.

    Nor can we reduce that to social relativism. As the OP clip notes — no it’s not just empty words:

    Cultural relativism is the view that an action is morally right if one’s culture approves of it. The argument for this doctrine is based on the diversity of moral judgments among cultures: because people’s judgments about right and wrong differ from culture to culture, right and wrong must be relative to culture, and there are no objective moral principles. This argument is defective, however, because the diversity of moral views does not imply that morality is relative to cultures. In addition, the alleged diversity of basic moral standards among cultures may be only apparent, not real. Societies whose moral judgments conflict may be differing not over moral principles but over nonmoral facts.

    Some think that tolerance is entailed by cultural relativism. But there is no necessary connection between tolerance and the doctrine. Indeed, the cultural relativist cannot consistently advocate tolerance while maintaining his relativist standpoint. To advocate tolerance is to advocate an objective moral value. But if tolerance is an objective moral value, then cultural relativism must be false, because it says that there are no objective moral values.

    Like subjective relativism, cultural relativism has some disturbing consequences. It implies that cultures are morally infallible, that social reformers can never be morally right, that moral disagreements between individuals in the same culture amount to arguments over whether they disagree with their culture, that other cultures cannot be legitimately criticized, and that moral progress is impossible.

    in short, might and manipulation make right etc lurk. another reductio, here to the absurdity of nihilism.

    We are stuck with, we are morally governed per at least partly intelligible principles (though societies can go off on marches of folly).

    The need to bridge is and ought does not go away as easily as that.

    Post Hume, it can only be done at world root level, or we have ungrounded ought. There credibly is an is that is at that level and simultaneously grounds ought.

    As the OP points out in brief, that points to the reality of God.

    And we keep coming back here because the proposed alternatives will not do the job. often, they aren’t even at the right level. Society and negotiations for instance are radically contingent. They simply are not at the world-root.

    KF

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