Again, it is vital for us to see what today’s evolutionary materialism, scientism, athiestical advocates and fellow travellers are thinking in their own words, and we must answer them on the merits.
Where, as captioned, it is being argued in the intersubjective consensus thread, that there is no such thing as moral truth. This means, as our frequent objector Sev then goes on to argue in the same comment:
SEV, 29: >> a consensus morality is neither true nor false, right or wrong in any objective sense. If the consensus is that a society is made safer, more stable and generally beneficial by the voluntary adherence of all to agreed moral principles, then you could argue they are right in the sense of leading to what most if not all agree is a desirable outcome but that is all.>>
All of this sounds so familiar, and seems so plausible — science is about facts and knowledge but morality is about values and community consensus, how can somebody object to it?
Because — while such a view is indeed dominant in many circles — it is fundamentally, irretrievably flawed, false in its roots and opens the door to what is ruinous, that’s how.
For one, let’s take a closer look at the captioned remark:
Sev: “Moral claims are not about what is but about how we ought to behave, primarily towards one another. They are not capable of being either true or false.”
What sort of claims, claims that it is true that we ought to behave in a certain way X, though of course that may be ignored. Challenges for morally governed creatures such as we are. Where, as Aristotle long since pointed out, truth says of what is that it is, and of what is not, that it is not. Truth accurately describes reality, whether concrete and observable, or abstract and intelligible by means of rational reflection. In this case, we are concerned about truths about our duties. Is it so that we OUGHT to do X, but as responsibly and rationally free creatures we may not?
From this angle, it is clear that Sev’s remark above is a truth claim and it is a truth claim about duties. Namely, it claims that every truth claim of form we ought to X (but may not), is false. So, Sev’s claim is self-referential and is a case that if P is a proposition, its denial, ~P — perforce — is one too.
We therefore have a moral truth claim, a truth claim about the world of duty, of ought-ness, that denies that such claims can be true or false.
That is, the claim is self-referentially incoherent and self-falsifying.
To try to make a truth claim that denies the possibility of moral truth claims is to make a moral truth claim that there are in fact no binding duties. It refutes itself.
And yes, I know this will take time to soak in.
Take the time, please.
Going on, let us look at the more detailed clip again, this time highlighting certain key appeals:
>> a consensus morality is neither true nor false, right or wrong in any objective sense. If the consensus is that a society is made safer, more stable and generally beneficial by the voluntary adherence of all to agreed moral principles, then you could argue they are right in the sense of leading to what most if not all agree is a desirable outcome but that is all.>>
Notice the bright red highlights? Each assumes or implies that we acknowledge certain valuable outcomes as GOOD, i.e. as having positive moral status and value such that we should prize them. The darker red phrases are persuasive appeals that imply that we ought to be objective, logical, cooperative and pro-social. In short, the seemingly neutral “IS” appeals are full of OUGHTS too.
This points right back to my oft repeated point that we must bridge and fuse IS and OUGHT in the world root.
Going further, I argued also:
KF, 31: >>mathematical realities are not empirically observable but are very real, i.e. you are failing to recognise abstracta as having reality. It is subjects who perceive and reason out mathematical realities per first principles and logic, and the results hold objectivity by means of logical warrant. And yes, they have empirical consequences; so much so, that mathematical reasoning on the logic of structure and quantity is deeply embedded in the sciences. Where also, by being connected to the coherence of being, that abstract reasoning by subjects brings out powerful insights and predictive power. BTW, to observe and infer successful prediction are also subjective mental acts. To share such in writings and talks etc using textual or visual or aural symbols is again a mental process involving subjects. And more. So, it should be no surprise to see a direct parallel from the world of maths to moral first principles, logical reasoning on such principles, requisites of coherence in the world of agents and predictable consequences. Indeed, as a famous case in point, Kant’s Categorical Imperative in part highlights that a sound maxim of action is universalisable and by contrast, evils are not — they parasite off the premise that most people most times do not act like that. For instance, even in Crete, truth is the dominant form of communication, or else communication and community would utterly break down. (And BTW, that solves the so called liar paradox.) So, moral principles can be truths, referring accurately to the order of reality experienced, sensed and logically reflected on by agents. Indeed, without this, Mathematics, Science, Medicine, Jurisprudence etc would break down, as they all turn on the premise that our mental life is pervaded by duties to truth, reason/logic, prudence, justice etc. So, not only is moral truth real truth, but it is a critical component of our world of thought and thoughtful action, undergirding the engines of progress for our civilisation. The undermining of moral thought, knowledge, truth and action is therefore counter to the long term good of our civilisation.>>
And, at 34:
>>I add, I have nowhere suggested infallibilism. I have by clipping provided a cogent summary of why cultural and subjectivist relativism fail. In short, they are not credible bases for moral reasoning. Such reasoning, instead needs to seek solid first principles and then should use correct logical principles to construct a knowledge base. Such can be held by an individual and by members of a community. But it is not the who but the what of logic, principles, premises and inferences tested against logic that warrant the knowledge framework. For that process, key test cases such as the one I have used about a kidnapped, sexually abused, murdered child are instructive. They help us elucidate key principles and to reason about them in a coherent fashion. That is how bodies of objective, credible knowledge are built up. Of course, that this has to be said at all shows just how deep is our confusion as a civilisation.>>
In short, there is every good reason to see that — contrary to many popular views — objective moral truths exist and that in moral suasion, we routinely appeal to such.
Food for thought. END
F/N: It seems worth the while to also clip from another OP, based on a headlined answer to frequent objector AK on the error of thinking in terms of who determines who is right (instead of what determines what is right or true):
>> . . . the very first self-evident, plumbline truth I have stressed is this: error exists.
(The crucial diagnostically decisive error of cultural relativism here being exposed by the reference to WHO determines, rather than WHAT defines and determines the truth and the right.)
It is one thing when we of UD say that we deal with a pattern of thought, talking points and behaviour; it is another thing entirely when we see it in action, live from the horse’s mouth. Let me clip from the continued discussion in the correcting hyperskepticism thread:
KF, 244:>>I have limited time, so let me clip the following from 229 and respond, as it seems to go to the heart of the matter.
(Oh, BTW, what is needed to “reduce” holocaust of living posterity in the womb is to recognise and move away from a culture that dehumanises targetted members of our race and enables the nihilism of might and manipulation make ‘right’/ ‘truth’/ ‘rights’/ ‘justice’ etc, which then helps us return to sanity. Retaining the culture of holocaust while trying to salve consciences by a substitute target of “reduction” from what the rate of holocaust might otherwise have been is self-undermining. And BTW, steeping the young in the techniques of vice while giving false hope that they can greatly reduce risk of pregnancy and/or STD’s by techniques that require an exactitude and consistency of habits that teens are unlikely to have, will likely INCREASE incidence through greatly heightened exposure levels.)
Okay, let me clip and comment:
>> [KF:] The case of that young child abused and murdered to feed someone’s perverted appetites is highly instructive.
[AK:] Actually, it is not. We all know that there are some twisted individuals who take advantage of others. The secret is to not let those horrendous events dictate how you perceive others. If you will forgive me an observation, you appear to be ruled by your misadventures rather than to be informed by them.>>
1: You seem to have forgotten one little part, the issue was that this horror show that played out one afternoon while I was a student was a case where I could SEE the reaction of many people, which across the time it took me to complete my dinner, had already formed search and rescue parties then found the body of the child, showing their patent reaction to self-evident evil.
2: That is a key part of my realisation on how instructive it was, I could actually SEE how ordinary people responded and acted. Thus, it was a clue to see how self-evident evil manifests itself, and thus how we may understand how to deal with it.
3: And above I have already indicated that the child has neither strength nor eloquence to fight or persuade. The right is inherent in the child as a living human being, not in the power structures, agendas and views of the society. Indeed, to try to deny this while standing over a small, violated and shattered body is self-evidently absurd. That is already highly instructive. However, you seem to have failed to take notice.
4: Let me clip how I have further drawn out the lessons elsewhere:
1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.
(This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)
2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit. [–> and remember, we are standing by some bushes, over a small, broken, abused, lifeless body. Even now, as the father approaches what remains of the child he sent off to school that morning.])
3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. (That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.)
4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.
5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.
6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. If a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT — so that IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at that level, it fails decisively.*)
7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare; usurping the sword of justice to impose a ruthless policy agenda in fundamental breach of that civil peace which must ever pivot on manifest justice. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)
8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.
9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.
10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. (In Aristotle’s terms as cited by Hooker: “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.”) Thus also,
11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.
(NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an institutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)
12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.
>> [KF:] However, to claim a right, one must first be in the right and this means there can be no right to compel another to uphold or enable you in the wrong (which instantly exposes a lot of what is going on nowadays).
[AK:} But, again, who determines who is in the right? From my reading of your words, you obviously do not brook the possibility that you may be wrong. Which makes it very difficult to have a constructive conversation with you. For example, I admit that I could be wrong in my views about abortion, homosexuality and same sex marriage. Are you willing to admit the same?>>
5: Instantly, you obviously have failed to read or take seriously the force of my discussion on the first self evident truth: error exists.
6: I summarise. The very attempt to deny that error exists instantiates a manifest case of error. Thus it is undeniable on pain of instant patent absurdity, that error exists is true. Which is what self-evidence indicates (and not the strawman caricature of closed minded dogmatism you would substitute). From this, truth exists as what accurately describes reality. This truth is warranted to undeniable certainty so strong form knowledge exists as truths that are warranted, true belief. Perforce, weak form knowledge exists as credibly true, well warranted, reliable belief. Thus schemes of thought, arguments, ideologies and worldviews that deny or undermine such are immediately irretrievably falsified. And, their name is legion.
7: Further, such SETs serve as plumbline tests for our yardstick beliefs, exposing crooked yardsticks. Where, if we measure by a crooked yardstick, what is actually straight [“true”], square, on the level, accurate and upright — yes the terms overlap from carpentry and masonry to weightier matters — cannot pass the test of conformity to crookedness. (Now you know why agit prop strategists want to get us to make crooked yardsticks into our standard.)
8: A plumbline is naturally, undeniably upright and straight, so it restores the due balance. Which is why those who are locked into ideologies of crookedness so stoutly resist, deny or studiously ignore them. Only, to reveal the utter absurdity of their behaviour and thought.
9: The issue of the right then, is not set by the power or mere opinions or rulings of an individual or collective WHO, that is the appeal to might and manipulation make right. Which is the instantly absurd appeal to nihilism.
10: WHAT makes the truth and the right is the nature of the claim, which is tested by plumbline principles and test cases that demonstrate what is sound from what is unsound. The truth says of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not. This holds for history, accounting, arithmetic, philosophy, theology, politics, journalism, education, justice and morality alike.
11: What is just duly balances rights, freedoms and responsibilities. Where, a right is a properly binding moral claim to be respected and protected in a certain particular, based on our inherent dignity and quasi-infinite worth as a living human being. Even the dead have a due right to respect.
12: And as rights must be universalisable, we cannot have a right to demand that others do the wrong or uphold and enable us in the wrong. That would be to impose evil under false colours of rights, often by agit prop and lawfare that perverts justice. Which is exactly what has been going on, starting with the ongoing holocaust of living posterity in the womb. (This is a plumbline case of establishment of evils under false colour of law in our day. But until the crooked yardsticks have been given up, that will not be acknowledged. And, perforce for the avalanche of other perversions of justice and sound society which are ever so fashionable in our time.)
13: So, what is evil? The frustration, perversion, privation or abuse of the good that blocks its due fulfillment of its purpose, which in key cases is naturally evident.
14: The purpose of rationality is to know and do the true, the right, the prudent. So, deception, corruption of education and media, lying, slander and more are evils. The robbing of that child of innocence, violation of body, robbing of life itself are patent evils.
15: And though it is hard for the deluded to acknowledge now, abuse of organs of digestion and excretion in insanitary, unhealthy, disease spreading ways is perversion of proper purpose of those organs and of the proper familially grounded fulfillment of our sexual nature. Likewise, perversion of marriage and sexual identity under false colours of law.
16: Worse, abusing powers of law to compel people of sound conscience to enable such evils under threat of bankruptcy and loss of livelihood; that is early stage tyranny. He who would rob me of innocent livelihood or daily bread would rob me of life. He who would rob me of conscience would rob me of my soul and its proper end.
17: The utter, increasing moral blindness and endarkenment of our day are quite plain.
18: But the point above can be twisted through the Euthyphro dilemma, so called. But the fatal flaw lies in the root of that argument: it addressed pagan gods who are not the root of reality so such could never bridge IS and OUGHT. They are categorically distinct from the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, who is the root of reality. God is essentially good and truthful, so he will neither do nor say evil, such would be alien to and at utter odds with his being. So, too, when he speaks, he speaks truth, as that too is his nature. and when he judges, he judges by the truth and the right which are inextricably part of his nature.
19: So, the so-called dilemma is misdirected.
20: Further, the real question is, does this God exist? Where, inherently, he would be the necessary being root of existence. So, the question, then is, is such a candidate being impossible, having core characteristics that are mutually contradictory like the case of a square circle.
21: God is a serious candidate necessary being, unlike a flying spaghetti monster (which, being material and composite, CANNOT be anything but contingent; the parody explodes, poof). So, the would-be atheist’s challenge is to show that God is impossible of being. As, a serious NB candidate will either be impossible or actual. As, NB’s are framework to any world existing.
22: And while it was formerly fashionable to trot out the problem of evils, that has collapsed since it was seen as parasitical on the problem of good and on the impact of Plantinga’s free will defense. Once creating freedom allows for a higher order of good, there is a sufficient reason to permit freedoms that can by definition be abused thus resulting in evil. Thus, as that is possible, the claimed contradiction evaporates.
23: We have addressed the core of the matter. Now, let us apply:
>> [KF:] It also means that might and manipulation do not make right, truth, justice etc.
[AK:] Nobody has suggested that it does. But consensus and social agreement can certainly make rules by which we can live and prosper by. >>
24: Just the opposite is the case, just look all around and consult the history of the past 100 years. Nihilism, radical relativism, subjectivism and emotivism — they are all of a piece — have been rampant and have predictably ended in chaos. To the point where they are rhetorically indefensible.
25: Of course, appeal to social “consensus” is a disguised form of just said appeal, cultural relativist from. Let me clip, again, from Lewis Vaughn:
. . . 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.