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Responding to 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”

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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.>>

RESP:

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:

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.] Clipping:

. . . 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.

>>

 

 

141 Replies to “Responding to 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”

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Responding to 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”

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    And why would Sev say such a thing? Well, it’s the implied moral ought, of course. Else it’s a pointless comment.

    I wonder if we ought to believe him.

    Self-refuting nonsense. Again.

  3. 3
    jdk says:

    I agree with Sev. On the “Sev, JDK” thread, kf highlighted a quote from me from another thread: “I think your belief in the power and importance of metaphysical philosophy is excessive and misguided.”

    Again and again kf purports to show that logically the universe must have a moral component to which our moral nature realtes in some way. This is a key example of my point above: as I just wrote on the other thread,

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

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

    Yes, human beings have a moral nature. But no matter of “logic” can show that that nature comes from or is attached to a moral component of the universe.

    Note well: I am not saying that it is true that human beings don’t have some “higher” moral nature. I’m saying we don’t, and can’t, know one way or the other; and that the fact that all human beings belief and act on normative and moral principles is not evidence for that “higher” connection.

  4. 4
    Allan Keith says:

    I don’t think that anyone is arguing that we do not have this “moral sense”. If you want to call the presence of this a “truth” then I don’t think many of us would argue against it. But where it comes from is debatable. Is it designed into us? I’m sure that KF and many here would say that it is. Is it something that we evolved in response to being an intelligent herd animal? Some here would argue that this is the most likely explanation. But I think it is fair to say that we all have this “moral sense”.

    But whether or not any of our moral values are objectively true is another story. There are certainly some moral values that are incompatible with the long term survival of any community if we did not hold them. I think that our biggest differences centre around whether or not this means that they are objectively “true”. If you are arguing that objective truths with respect to moral values are those that are absolutely required for the long term survival of society, then I can live with that distinction. But if you are saying that they are somehow imbued in us by some higher being, I would argue that you have a long way to prove this.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, why should we attend to your argument? Ans, duties of care to truth, reason and fairness. IS and OUGHT walking hand in hand, again. Going beyond, the latest talking point is to dismiss critically informed analysis of worldviews (which is what metaphysics, in essence is, the study of what is as opposed to is not). The problem, of course, is that you cannot not have a metaphysics, a worldview, only you may have an unexamined one. Going back to the point of the OP, the logic is quite simple: Sev has asserted truth claims to the effect that we ought to do X (but may not) is false, false by failing to refer to anything beyond likely a delusion of being under moral government. But, that is where the problem is,

    1] the assertion ~ P is patently as much a proposition on the same subject matter and substance as P.

    So the claim is equivalent to:

    2] the truth about morality is there are no moral truths.

    But

    3] this is inevitably a moral truth also so

    4] it is self referential and incoherent.

    And,

    5] the claim that we ought to X, is not equivalent to the claim There is a God who commands X,

    so

    6] the dismissal of God does not remove the force of the point.

    The point stands.

    Going further, it seems you do not realise the implication of asserting that we experience a pervasive sense of being morally governed but it is not anchored to anything in reality.

    That is equivalent to an argument that we are tainted by a grand delusion, which fatally undermines confidence in the world of thought. That is, you are in self-referential incoherence.

    The proposition that we are governed by duties to truth, reason, justice etc is undeniable on pain of self referential incoherence.

    This then puts on the table how is this oughtness grounded in reality (as opposed to recognised and reasoned about).

    That is a major onward exercise in reasoning, and it stands pretty much where I have summed up, if you have a viable candidate other than the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, simply put it on the table: _______ Then, let us go to comparative difficulties.

    So, no, I deny that we can readily dismiss our being under real as opposed to delusional duties to truth, right, fairness, prudence etc. The consequences of such a dismissal run to the undermining of our rationality by way of implying that we live in a Plato’s Cave world of grand delusion.

    As for sweeping away taking worldview or metaphysics issues seriously, that speaks and not to the good.

    The issue is not so easily brushed aside as many are inclined — or, have been led — to think.

    KF

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    AK, If you will look at the OP and the just above, you will realise that the argument on the table is a long way from an argument that the best explanation of the moral sense is that it is an imbuement from God. The issue is a question of self-referential incoherence and the nature of a proposition, which happens to be about a class of propositions, say M. Where M is of form, we are duty-bound to X (but may act otherwise). The claim on the table is that no assertion of form M is true. That is, there are no real duties. However, ~ P is a proposition of the same type and substance as P. So, this is a moral truth claim that there are no moral truths, so there are no duties. Which, is self-referentally incoherent. This occurs because the ought and the is in fact cannot be disentangled in the life of thought. We need to clear this up first, before going further. And indeed our whole life of the mind pivots on duties to truth, reason and fairness etc. For instance, your own arguments imply just such duties on our part, and were there no such binding duties, then mind reduces to simply a means of manipulation and domination. yet another form of self-referential incoherence. KF

  7. 7
    jdk says:

    I agree with Allan at 4. Good post.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, unsurprising but it simply means you share the same gaps. Which in all fairness are commonplace in our civilisation to the point of message dominance. Prob is, a dominant cultural message can be disastrously wrong. KF

    PS: while I am at it, do you notice there is an invitation to inference to best explanation on the table? Morality is a subjective experience grounded in some sort of social “consensus” — social relativism — is a failed explanation. So is subjectivist relativism, as is emotivism (which tends to go with these two). For more of why, see Lewis Vaughn’s summary as is excerpted in the OP. The reductios by self referential incoherence imply that we can give a demonstration on pain of absurdity that we are in fact bound by duties, starting with duties of thought and mind to truth, logic, prudence, fairness etc. Deny those and reason, warrant, truthfulness etc collapse, taking down the life of reason with them. How they are to be grounded onward is another question. And note, ethical theism is not on the table as proved but as inference to best explanation. If you don’t like it, put up a better one: ______ .

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: AmHD:

    met·a·phys·ics (m?t??-f?z??ks)
    n.
    1. (used with a sing. verb) Philosophy The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, possibility and actuality.

    on·tol·o·gy (?n-t?l??-j?)
    n.
    The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being.

    Hence, critically informed analysis of worldviews. For this, comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power is a main method. Note that search for the happy medium between the simplistic and the ad hoc patch-work. Hence, worldview level grand inference to the best explanation. Also, note the subfield, thence the value of studying the logic of being.

    KF

  10. 10
    jdk says:

    kf writes, “JDK, why should we attend to your argument?”

    Because I might be right. Also, you might benefit from having a little more perspective on the broad range of human beliefs about foundational issues, thus becoming, perhaps, less dogmatic and less hostile to people with differing views.

    Those might be a few reasons to attend to my argument.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, your “because I might be RIGHT” is an appeal to the OUGHT. That already brings out the point I have made — and yes, being loosed from accustomed chains, turned around to see the fire and parapet with paraded puppets then dragged up the slope to the outside world is very painful . . . I been dere, bro, it put me through a two-year depression of existential crisis. Now, secondly, you seem to be projecting narrow-mindedness. However, you need to acknowledge the breadth of the worldviews concept: this takes in the full spectrum of alternatives. But to acknowledge that views exist with diverse opinions is not the same as to imply that there is no actual reality of the world as it IS, thence a discipline of critical study seeking to accurately describe it and to warrant that accuracy. Hence, comparative difficulties. I point to the duty to seek and warrant the right, here about just that: duties to X (which as we are radically free, we may not pursue). And no, to hold that error exists is undeniable and yet thus shows that known truths are attainable in key part is not to be hostile to those with a different view. KF

    PS: Just for fun (and easy on the eyes) viewing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILQXW2Ob1PU

  12. 12
    jdk says:

    YES, I KNOW THAT I BELIEVE IN OUGHT!!!!!!!!!!

    But what Allan said at 4 is correct: that doesn’t mean that our moral nature (and our normative nature, in general) is connected to any higher moral reality.

    And it might very well be that you’re the one that is chained and still watching the shadows, and that I have seen the light.

  13. 13
    Allan Keith says:

    jdk,

    Because I might be right. Also, you might benefit from having a little more perspective on the broad range of human beliefs about foundational issues, thus becoming, perhaps, less dogmatic and less hostile to people with differing views.

    Well said.

    The fact that we all feel a strong sense of morality is, in my mind, an objective “truth”. For whatever reason, this sense appears to be universal except in serious sociopaths. And it could be argued that sociopaths also have a strong sense of morality, just that their moral values deviate so much from the norm that they appear to be amoral.

    But the idea that this morality is inherent in the fabric of the universe is simply wishful thinking, not supported by anything that could be considered compelling evidence or argument. If there were no humans, the universe and life on earth would chug along quite happily.

    For an intelligent animal that lives in a group, certain behaviours will be reinforced because they enhance the survival of a larger number of individuals, and certain behaviours will be weeded out because they do not. Some may become instinctual, and some may require constant reinforcement and feedback from other members of the group to become “powerful”. None of this requires objective moral “truths” passed on by some intelligent being (i.e., god). What this type of system guarantees is that there will be plenty of variation, plenty of mistakes, plenty of directions that lead to a societal dead end. Sounds like the history of human societies.

    Just because something that is real makes us uncomfortable doesn’t mean that it is not real.

    It is possible that objective moral “truths” do exist but if they do, the ability for us to perceive them consistently and unambiguously is so poor, that what we end up with is our subjective interpretation of what we think they may be. This entire argument over a world-root level IS that can ground OUGHT is pointless if what we end up with are subjective interpretations of what these objective values may be.

  14. 14
    Mung says:

    And it might very well be that you’re the one that is chained and still watching the shadows, and that I have seen the light.

    I saw a pig flying over a frozen hell today.

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    Allan Keith:

    This entire argument over a world-root level IS that can ground OUGHT is pointless if what we end up with are subjective interpretations of what these objective values may be.

    I assume that what you mean to convey here is that what you have said is true and that because it is true we ought to believe it.

    The Irony.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    if we ought to X (but may not as we are free), then there is a warrant for that ought. In the end, post Hume, it will lie at world root level, on pain of ungrounded, thus arbitrary ought. The challenge, is to credibly identify what it is; a balanced, adequate explanation. This is a natural expression of that oughtness in the form of truth-seeking rationality.

    AK,

    I have already pointed out that a world-reality claim, a suggested accurate account of reality, can fail by way of being incoherent (so self-falsifying) or else by standing in contrast to well warranted fact or truth or principle.

    In the case of our sensed oughtness, to truth, to logic, to prudence, to fairness etc, as pointed out the issue is, if such does not speak truth, then grand delusion is let loose on our thought world, taking down knowledge and a lot more with it.

    I know you are uncomfortable with the point hume made in his comment on an IS-IS chain of inferences then poof, magic, ungrounded ought-ought. The logic of that forces us back to world-roots, to the underlying framing and fabric of reality. The same level where we find from distinct identity the first principles of right reason, two-ness and thence numbers, quantities and Mathematics etc.

    Something there . . . whether you are comfortable with it or no . . . bridges and fuses ought and is. On pain of reducing mindedness to grand delusion.

    Were there no humans, physical and biological reality would exist, but a whole level of potential would be empty: the reality of embodied mind, logically and morally governed, truth and right seeking mind coupled to hands and feet that give physical, cultural manifestation to the fruit of that inquiry.

    As for survival of the fittest leads to enforcing the collective delusion of morality, perhaps you should ponder the trembling of Polish and Jewish mice at the approach of a master race with the mindset of the cat. (And yes, I am deliberately echoing a terrible passage in Herr Schicklegruber’s notorious first book.)

    That something is real may make us uncomfortable indeed cuts more than one way. As seen.

    Then, that we may err is in fact a clue to a level of demonstrable access to truth where the conclusion is undeniable on pain of patent absurdity. As Josiah Royce may be summarised, error exists is not only universally acknowledged but undeniable. As, the attempt to deny only manages to instantiate its truth. Self-evident though humbling truth.

    You seem to be particularly moved at the prospect of moral error. As in a sense you should, as if our sense of duty to truth, logic, prudence, justice etc is delusional, it takes down the rational mind with it by way of an all pervading grand delusion that discredits mind. poof, science, math, etc are dead.

    but instead, we can start with self-evident moral truth as test cases for the potential of that aspect of mind we call conscience. We can then seek test cases that set out first principles and reason to a body of credible moral knowledge. As I have clipped in the F/N to the OP and have previously drawn to your attention.

    Things like, life is the first right without which we have no other rights. Just because one lacks maturity, eloquence, strength or support to hand does not fatally undermine right to life. so too, given valuable neighbours who have the gift of life, we have a protective duty to their lives. And the like. Including, purpose of mind thus duty is towards truth, so whatever would undermine, frustrate it unduly, divert or pervert it etc can be seen as error and even evil.

    That sort of thing.

    KF

  17. 17
    Allan Keith says:

    Mung,

    I assume that what you mean to convey here is that what you have said is true and that because it is true we ought to believe it.

    Sounds like KF, doesn’t it? 🙂

  18. 18
    Allan Keith says:

    Interesting fact. I am in an Ottawa pub trying to access UD through their free wireless. Every time I try I get a message that UD has been flagged as a hate site. UD is many things, but hate site isn’t one of them.

  19. 19
    LocalMinimum says:

    AK @ 13:

    But the idea that this morality is inherent in the fabric of the universe is simply wishful thinking, not supported by anything that could be considered compelling evidence or argument.

    Well, if natural selection isn’t random and there are indeed paths through the fitness landscape, the alleged fact that we have evolved them by some functional necessity would suggest they are inherent in the fabric of the universe.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    AK, welcome to 1984 world. KF

    PS: Go look up Mung Bucket to understand our resident humourist.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    LM, front loading on steroids. KF

  22. 22
    ET says:

    Allan Keith:

    But if you are saying that they are somehow imbued in us by some higher being, I would argue that you have a long way to prove this.

    Prove? Can you prove that living organisms arose from some mixture of chemicals? No. You can’t even test that claim.

    Can you prove that given starting populations of prokaryotes that eukaryotes will evolve from them? No. You can’t even test that claim.

    Can you prove that humans evolved from non-humans? No. You can’t even test that claim.

    Can you prove the earth is just an aggregate of space debris that came together via numerous successive collisions? No. You can’t even test that claim.

    The list is endless. Looks like you have a long way to go, Allan

  23. 23
    StephenB says:

    Allan Keith

    If you are arguing that objective truths with respect to moral values are those that are absolutely required for the long term survival of society, then I can live with that distinction. But if you are saying that they are somehow imbued in us by some higher being, I would argue that you have a long way to prove this.

    Notice that you are assuming, unwittingly, that the survival of society is an objectively good thing, which means that you are also assuming that the perpetuation of the species is an objectively good thing, and that the formation of communities is an objectively good thing. If these were only perceived goods, goods that you merely “sense” of “feel,” then there is no moral reason why a tyrant, whose perceived good to destroy you, should not prevail. Only an objective natural moral law of the universe that transcends your subjective opinions about morality (and the tyrant’s subjective opinions about morality) can define your survival as a good thing and his desire to destroy you as a bad thing.

    But the idea that this morality is inherent in the fabric of the universe is simply wishful thinking, not supported by anything that could be considered compelling evidence or argument.

    Which arguments for the existence of a moral universe do you think have failed? I just provided one above, and I don’t think you can refute it.

  24. 24
    jdk says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  25. 25
    LocalMinimum says:

    KF @ 21:

    And arguably vital to the A/Mat worldview.

  26. 26
    ET says:

    jdk:

    human values come from our biological nature

    Untestable, pseudoscientific claptrap.

  27. 27
    StephenB says:

    jdk

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

    You did not address my example? AK assumed, unwittingly, the self-evident truth that the survival of human society is an objectively good thing and that its destruction is an objectively bad thing. It has nothing to do with “evidence.”

    The natural moral moral law, written in nature and in the human heart, is a self evident truth that transcends human opinion. Every time an atheist on this site protests against the injustice of having been moderated, or protests against any action at all, he is acknowledging and arguing for objective morality.

  28. 28
    jdk says:

    I did address your point. I wrote,

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

    You write,

    The natural moral moral law, written in nature and in the human heart, is a self evident truth that transcends human opinion.

    That is your religious belief: an assertion of faith.

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    I did address your point.

    You did not address the example. You addressed your perception of its meaning, which is wrong.

    SB: The natural moral moral law, written in nature and in the human heart, is a self evident truth that transcends human opinion.

    That is your religious belief: an assertion of faith.

    No, it isn’t. Self-evident truths are not truths taken on faith. They are understood immediately as being true once the terms are sufficiently defined.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It seems we need a mini-tut on self-evidence and why self-evident truths are pivotal.

    I have long found that Aristotle got it right in Metaphysics 1011b: truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not. In short, truth accurately describes reality.

    However, that is different from that we have warrant [a good reason] to hold some truth claim, T as true. When we do, we can be said to know the truth — to have knowledge, first in the weak sense: warranted, credibly true (and so, reliable) belief. This is the common, day to day and scientific sense of knowledge. And yes, it is fallible, we can err and we can find borders to the reliability of a knowledge claim. Thus, provisionality is implicit in this sense of knowledge.

    Now, too, some cases of knowledge are strong form, there are good reasons to hold the warrant is certainly correct. Then, knowledge would rise to warranted, true belief. Belief is there as knowledge is a faculty of knowing subjects or agents; someone accepts and takes as true the relevant claim, on a warrant.

    In this context, self-evidence is one way of attaining warrant to certainty.

    A self-evident truth is true. It is readily seen as true by one capable of understanding it i/l/o experience, level of knowledge, capability to reason adequately and general maturity of understanding — this is not the same as such truths being “obvious.” In short, it is a truth that, once genuinely understood, will be seen as true. And, it will be seen as certainly true on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. SET’s are NOT proved, they are understood and acknowledged as start-points for proof or even for reasoning itself.

    For example, consider that the world has in it some distinct entity, say A. (I usually suggest a bright red ball on a table.) The world, then, may be partitioned:

    W = {A | ~A}

    From this, the three-fold first principles of right reason immediately are present as corollaries:

    I: A is itself [Law of Identity],

    II: no x in W is A AND ~A in the same sense and circumstances [Law of Non-contradiction],

    III: any x in W will be A or else ~A but not neither or both, i.e. A X-OR ~A [Law of the excluded middle]

    Similarly, two-ness is present in the dichotomy, i.e. we have A distinct from ~A. From this, the natural numbers and extensions all the way to complex numbers and vectors thence the abstract structures of Mathematics may be warranted.

    A similar SET is the weak form principle of sufficient reason, w-PSR: of any A, we may freely inquire as to why it is, more or less in confident hope that we may find an intelligible reason. In which we may find some candidates c may be impossible of being as there is no possible world where c may be. For example, as core requisites are in mutual contradiction, a proposed square circle is impossible of being.

    By contrast are possible beings, where c is such that in some possible world W_p, c would exist were that world actualised. (We are obviously possible and in fact actual beings.)

    Where, too, some possible beings p are contingent [there is at least one W_p, say W_j, where they would exist, and a “neighbouring” one W_k, where they would not]. The difference between W_j and W_k reveals causal factors for p.

    Similarly, some possible beings must be present in all possible worlds: necessary beings.

    These, unsurprisingly, are part of the framework for a world to exist. Distinct identity, thus two-ness and by extension, numbers, are one such case. And this BTW explains the astonishing utility of logic and mathematics. The former flows from distinct identity and pervades any possible world. The latter is the extension of logic to structure and quantity.

    From all of this, we may see that SET’s serve as natural plumblines that are straight [“true”] and — yes — plumb or upright. Notice, how these concepts start from Carpentry or Masonry and extend to the wide world of thought.

    This property is pivotal as if one is caught up in having been led to set up a crooked yardstick as standard for straightness, uprightness and accurate measurement, the plumbline provides an undeniable challenge. (If one is in the deluded state, what is actually straight, upright or accurate will not pass the test of conformity with crookedness and will be rejected.)

    No prizes for guessing why ruthless manipulators want us to accept plausible but crooked yardsticks and why they deny, dismiss or denigrate SET’s.

    By contrast, wisdom is to acknowledge, prize and properly use plumbline SET’s.

    Including, in the moral domain, the current focus. Where, it is a SET that moral truths are of basic form, we have a duty d to X (but may not perform it as we are free). In our reasoning, we have duties to truth, reason, prudence, fairness etc, and the claim that C is true is inescapably also a claim of duty towards it. This is in fact pivotal to the OP. And, those who have objected have time and again manifested how claimed truth is inextricably entangled with implied duty to acknowledge and then think and live on truth.

    The denial of binding duty integral to our nature — natural moral law — being a truth claim itself, is also entangled with implicit claimed obligations and thus becomes instantly self-referentially incoherent, so self-falsifying. And yes, there are also implicit duties to logic and warrant.

    Now, we have all been steeped in the fact of diversity of moral claims, the need to respect diversity, the possibility of error on one’s part and much more. Indeed, it has been emphasised to the point of becoming a stereotypical caricature begging to be projected on anyone who argues to objective, evident, warranted moral truth tied to the laws of our nature [and world] that one may be unduly dogmatic, intolerant of others, bigoted, even hateful and of course hypocritical. Yes, to err is human, but to- know- and- to- credibly- warrant- and- act- and- speak- confidently- i/l/o- such- knowledge is ALSO human.

    So, let us open our minds, hearts and lives — thence, civilisation — to knowable, law of our nature-rooted moral truths. Truths that accurately describe the world of duties applicable to responsibly and rationally significantly free creatures. Us, for one.

    KF

  31. 31
    jdk says:

    I think we have exhausted this subject in the past, Stephen: no use going there again.

    In another thread, I wrote to kf ““I think your belief in the power and importance of metaphysical philosophy is excessive and misguided.”

    I think the same is true about both of your notions about what is “self-evident.”

    That’s my opinion. You can have your opinion. No sense discussing this again.

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, all I can say to that is to highlight that it is of utmost importance to have a reasonable, responsible, reliable grasp of reality; thus, to use comparative difficulties analysis — factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power in examining worldview options and claims. The label and dismiss rhetorical approach is an unwarranted dismissal, is selectively hyperskeptical. Let me ask about a facet of that reality. would you be willing to say: ““I think your belief in the power and importance of MATHEMATICS is excessive and misguided” or ““I think your belief in the power and importance of LOGIC is excessive and misguided” or ““I think your belief in the power and importance of KNOWLEDGE is excessive and misguided” or ““I think your belief in the power and importance of PHYSICS is excessive and misguided” or more broadly ““I think your belief in the power and importance of SCIENCE is excessive and misguided”? I think that may tell us much about the matter; each of these is a reasonable, responsible, and significant discipline. KF

  33. 33
    tribune7 says:

    Everything is ultimately by faith. I can’t prove God to you or that the purpose of our existence is to love God, our neighbor and ourself.

    OTOH, you can’t prove your faith i.e. that everything is by chance, the Universe has always been here despite the Big Bang and that we can “do as thy will”.

    Still, there is a reality. If your faith better reflects that reality i.e. we are all temporary accidents whose existence is ultimately meaningless and that we should seek, well, what exactly? Pleasure? Emotional jolts? Escape from pain? Why not just kill yourself now?

    OTOH, if my faith better reflects reality i.e. we are created beings and have been created for a purpose, acting on the premise that we are temporary accidents would obviously be a violation of absolute morality and is a grave mistake.

  34. 34
    jdk says:

    re 33, to Tribune7: It’s not clear who you are addressing, but if me, you certainly are not accurately describing my perspective on things.

  35. 35
    Origenes says:

    JDK: I think your belief in the power and importance of metaphysical philosophy is excessive and misguided.

    If materialism is true then you have no way of knowing if your belief is true or false.

    Materialism posits that your reasoning and beliefs are consequences of events and laws of nature in the remote past before you were born, as opposed to resulting from your conscious control.

    If you are unable to account for each step in your reasoning leading up to your beliefs, if you do not encapsulate every step of your reasoning, if a step (or steps) results from beyond your conscious control, if it is a defining feature of your reasoning that a step (or steps) takes place without your informed and conscious consent, beyond your conscious choice, then you cannot vouch for any of your beliefs.

    If materialism is true, your reasoning would be tainted by unaccounted steps and consequently you would not know if any of your beliefs are true or false.

    And there would be no way out of this gridlock, since not only would your reasoning be tainted by unaccounted steps, your judgement of your reasoning would be as well.

  36. 36
    jdk says:

    Origenes, I am not a materialist.

    Also, it looks to me that the quote of mine you provided applies, in my opinion, to you also., FWIW.

  37. 37
    tribune7 says:

    jdk, sorry. I was addressing the title: Responding to 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”

  38. 38
    jdk says:

    I see: thanks for the clarification, tribune. Often people haven’t read all the comments and make their reply directly to the OP.

  39. 39
    Allan Keith says:

    StephenB,

    You did not address my example? AK assumed, unwittingly, the self-evident truth that the survival of human society is an objectively good thing and that its destruction is an objectively bad thing. It has nothing to do with “evidence.”

    I didn’t make any claim for good or bad. I was just describing how a moral value could develop and become effectively universal amongst human society. From a “universal” perspective, survival of a society is neither good nor bad. In fact, it is irrelevant.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    AK, i/l/o 13 vs 23, you clearly implied several binding appeals to what ought to be. KF

  41. 41
    Allan Keith says:

    KairosFocus, <AK, i/l/o 13 vs 23, you clearly implied several binding appeals to what ought to be. KF
    I implied no such thing. I merely postulated what might be. And, I might add, better explains the variation and plasticity of our moral values system than does the concept of god given objective moral truths.

  42. 42
    Origenes says:

    JDK: I think your belief in the power and importance of metaphysical philosophy is excessive and misguided.

    And I think that your belief [that my belief in the power and importance of metaphysical philosophy is excessive and misguided] is excessive and misguided.

    Now what?

  43. 43
    jdk says:

    re 42: we accept that we are two people with some basic differences about some fundamental matters, including the question of whether there really are correct positions on those matters.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, what does “correct” mean, if not accurately describing reality? Does correct positions only embrace as currently/historically held, or that there can be no correct account of reality ever? If the former, sure we can engage on drawing a better picture. If the latter, then why, is it some form of Kantian ugly gulch between the inner and outer world so the former cannot credibly bridge to the latter? In that case, then what of Bradley’s observation that this is effectively a knowledge claim to know what it denies knowledge of? (Thus, self-referential incoherence lurks.) And so on. KF

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    AK, let’s do a tape roll from 13:

    the idea that this morality is inherent in the fabric of the universe is simply wishful thinking, not supported by anything that could be considered compelling evidence or argument. If there were no humans, the universe and life on earth would chug along quite happily.

    For an intelligent animal that lives in a group, certain behaviours will be reinforced because they enhance the survival of a larger number of individuals, and certain behaviours will be weeded out because they do not. Some may become instinctual, and some may require constant reinforcement and feedback from other members of the group to become “powerful”. None of this requires objective moral “truths” passed on by some intelligent being (i.e., god). What this type of system guarantees is that there will be plenty of variation, plenty of mistakes, plenty of directions that lead to a societal dead end. Sounds like the history of human societies.

    Just because something that is real makes us uncomfortable doesn’t mean that it is not real.

    Several times, you have implied appeals to truth and reason, with associated duties. As in, your audience should come to reject certain views, or not take up others, etc.

    Next, you laid out an account that actually implies that the moral sense is a grand delusion, and tried to back it up with the concept just because you are uncomfortable does not make it false.

    Actually, incoherence (and particularly self-referential . . .) does falsify.

    Going on, the implication is not just that differential reproductive degree of cultures per weeding out accounts for larger or smaller populations — actually, it does not — but that this effectively defines the canons of morality that dominate a culture.

    KF

  46. 46
    Allan Keith says:

    KairosFocus,

    Several times, you have implied appeals to truth and reason, with associated duties. As in, your audience should come to reject certain views, or not take up others, etc.

    I presented a plausible explanation for our sense of morality and the values that we hold. None of which require input from god. Whether or not you accept them depends on how well I presented them and whether you are open to questioning your world view. Isn’t trying to convince others the purpose of any discussion?

    Next, you laid out an account that actually implies that the moral sense is a grand delusion, and tried to back it up with the concept just because you are uncomfortable does not make it false.

    I have not claimed that our moral sense was a grand delusion. All I did was to propose an alternate cause of it. It is no more delusional that finding acceptance in your actions because you belief them to be how god wants you to behave. If you want to compare the social “good” of the two possibilities, mine requires us to own accountability for our actions while yours passes the accountability buck to god.

  47. 47
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    I think we have exhausted this subject in the past, Stephen: no use going there again.

    If you don’t want to go there, then why did you initiate the dialogue.

    In another thread, I wrote to kf ““I think your belief in the power and importance of metaphysical philosophy is excessive and misguided.”

    It is impossible to overrate the importance of good and bad philosophy. Your world view itself is guided by a bad philosophy, beginning with a hyperskeptive epistemology.

    I think the same is true about both of your notions about what is “self-evident.”

    That is just something that you tell yourself to evade the responsibility of acting on what you know.

    That’s my opinion. You can have your opinion. No sense discussing this again.

    You initiated the conversation. When I responded with an assertion that you could not refute, THEN you decided that there is no sense discussing it again.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    AK, you did it again, implying that there are duties of accurate description in a context that actually undermines any duty; with further duties to respond to said descriptions in an appropriate way. (Besides, begging the question of whether on relevant views we can ground rational, responsible intelligence.) KF

  49. 49
    StephenB says:

    Allan Keih

    I was just describing how a moral value could develop and become effectively universal amongst human society. From a “universal” perspective, survival of a society is neither good nor bad. In fact, it is irrelevant.

    So in your judgment, the survival of society is not an objectively good thing and genocide is not an objectively bad thing. Are there, in your judgment, any objectively bad things? Or are all human acts irrelevant?

  50. 50
    Allan Keith says:

    KairosFocus,

    AK, you did it again, implying that there are duties of accurate description in a context that actually undermines any duty; with further duties to respond to said descriptions in an appropriate way.

    I’m sure that somehow makes sense to you but I have no idea what you are trying to say. However, what I do know, is that you have not addressed my proposal that a moral sense can develop naturally from the fact that we are intelligent animals that desire to live in groups. Without the need for god to give it to us.

  51. 51
    Allan Keith says:

    StephenB,

    So in your judgment, the survival of society is not an objectively good thing and genocide is not an objectively bad thing. Are there, in your judgment, any objectively bad things? Or are all human acts irrelevant?

    From a universal perspective, and even from an earth perspective, what we do to each other is irrelevant. The universe and earth will continue.

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    AK, one of the things the exchanges of recent days draw out is just how much of the structure of our reasoning is implicit and perhaps even something we are not consciously aware of. Yet, sometimes, that is the most important part. In the above, you — unsurprisingly — continue to assert truth claims and expect that their persuasiveness is to in part come from our duty to truth. The IS and the OUGHT invariably walk hand in hand in our arguing, reasoning, knowing, speaking, doing. That is one reason why we need to see how they cohere, from the roots of reality. It is also why the attempt to argue against moral truth as accurate description of real duty becomes self-referential and incoherent, as the act of arguing or even thinking is inextricably entangled with the same appeals. Maybe another metaphor will help: two drunks can help prop one another up, but if one goes down, both will go down. KF

  53. 53
    StephenB says:

    Allan Keith

    From a universal perspective, and even from an earth perspective, what we do to each other is irrelevant.

    Then every opinion that you have and every assertion that you make is also irrelevant.

  54. 54
    Origenes says:

    Allan Keith: From a universal perspective, and even from an earth perspective, what we do to each other is irrelevant.

    In what sense do the universe and the earth have perspectives? In what sense are they relevant to the discussion?

  55. 55
    StephenB says:

    Allan Keith

    From a universal perspective, and even from an earth perspective, what we do to each other is irrelevant.

    Since I asked you if there is anything that would qualify as an objectively bad thing, I will take your answer to be a no. So your answer to my question would be that genocide, murder, theft, rape, fraud, and dishonesty are not bad things.

  56. 56
    StephenB says:

    AK…

    a moral sense can develop naturally from the fact that we are intelligent animals that desire to live in groups.

    Which moral sense develops “naturally?” Is it your moral sense that children should be allowed to have sex on a school bus, or my moral sense that they should be taught how to live like civilized human beings? Which moral sense should inform the culture and why?

  57. 57
    ET says:

    Allan Keith:

    I presented a plausible explanation for our sense of morality and the values that we hold.

    You just said it. You never demonstrated it was plausible.

  58. 58

    StephenB @ 53: To AK – “Then every opinion that you have and every assertion that you make is also irrelevant.”

    Exactly. But don’t expect AK to admit this. Like most a/mats he seems incapable of understanding the point.

  59. 59
    Allan Keith says:

    StephenB,

    Then every opinion that you have and every assertion that you make is also irrelevant.

    From a large scale perspective, absolutely. To think otherwise would be the height of arrogance and egotism.

  60. 60
    StephenB says:

    Allan Keith

    I presented a plausible explanation for our sense of morality and the values that we hold.

    I already refuted that claim. It is not a plausible explanation because you have already rejected the idea that there is a singular “our” morality. As a moral relativist, you are committed to the philosophy that every individual creates his own *my* morality, which is the very opposite of a universal “our” morality.

  61. 61
    Allan Keith says:

    StephenB,

    Which moral sense should inform the culture and why?

    Isn’t that what society deals with on a constant basis? Should my moral opinion of homosexuality be followed or should KF’s? Should we de-stigmatize teen sexual behaviour or should we continue to tell them that it is morally wrong? On a related note, what are school proms other than a mating dance wrapped in a pretty wrapping?

    What society considers morally acceptable is constantly shifting, and there is always opposition to these changes. This is healthy for society. Most actions are taken with the best of intentions, whether in be residential schools in Canada, sterilization of the mentally handicapped, prohibition, the war on drugs, legalization if same sex marriage. And sometimes they result in unforeseen (or unbelieved) consequences that require correction.

    But the important thing is that we constantly question what we now consider “right” or “morally acceptable”. If we didn’t do this, we would still have Alavert, women wouldn’t be allowed to vote, women could be legally hit by their husbands, we would still be jailing if castrating homosexuals. There will be missteps, some of them with significant consequences. But that is no reason to stop questioning.

  62. 62
    Allan Keith says:

    StephenB,

    I already refuted that claim.

    In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means”.

  63. 63
    StephenB says:

    SB: Then every opinion that you have and every assertion that you make is also irrelevant.

    Allan

    From a large scale perspective, absolutely. To think otherwise would be the height of arrogance and egotism.

    Notice how you consistently betray your own philosophy. You just implied that it is a bad thing to be arrogant and egotistical, even as you previously claimed that nothing is either good or bad.

  64. 64
    StephenB says:

    SB: I already refuted that claim.

    Allan

    In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means”.

    Your claim was refuted, plain and simple. *Our” morality as a single, unified concept, is totally inconsistent with an *individual* morality for each person. You cannot have it both ways.

  65. 65
    Allan Keith says:

    StephenB,

    Notice how you consistently betray your own philosophy. You just implied that it is a bad thing to be arrogant and egotistical, even as you previously claimed that nothing is either good or bad.

    That is a strange leap of logic. But not unexpected given our past discussions. I stated that nothing we do to each other as a species is relevant from the universal or earth perspective. Neither good nor bad. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are things that are good or bad for our society, or good or bad for interpersonal relations, or good or bad with respect to me getting laid. It all depends on perspective. And it is highly subjective.

  66. 66
    ScuzzaMan says:

    My brother and I met over Christmas dinner at my sister’s house. He’s angry at Christians for not sharing his profession of unbelief and so begins our semi-annual debate over the relative merits of Christianity versus any other possible position.

    To give him his due he left muttering that he’d have to return with better arguments, a fundamental honesty that is so ingrained in him he wasn’t even aware of it or its implications.

    After he’d left I asked my sister: Did you notice that he admitted he didn’t come to his profession of unbelief on the basis of good arguments? So how did he come to it?

    (There’s only two methods available to us: we either choose a position by reason or by emotion.)

    Much of the above thread reminds me strongly of that conversation.

  67. 67
    StephenB says:

    Allan

    But the important thing is that we constantly question what we now consider “right” or “morally acceptable”. If we didn’t do this, we would still have Alavert, women wouldn’t be allowed to vote, women could be legally hit by their husbands, we would still be jailing if castrating homosexuals.

    More contradictions. You just implied that it is a bad thing to oppress women and homosexuals after saying earlier that no act is either good or bad.

    Further, you are saying that we should consistently question all policies, which would include women’s suffrage and homosexual rights, the very things you now say represent the proper order of things.

    So should we be q There will be missteps, some of them with significant consequences. But that is no reason to stop questioning.

    How do you know you have made a “misstep” if there is no objective standards to measure such things? According to your philosophy, there is no such thing as a misstep because there is no such thing as an objective goal to be stepping towards. Every idea that you are presenting is manifestly irrational.

  68. 68
    StephenB says:

    SB: Notice how you consistently betray your own philosophy. You just implied that it is a bad thing to be arrogant and egotistical, even as you previously claimed that nothing is either good or bad.

    That is a strange leap of logic. But not unexpected given our past discussions. I stated that nothing we do to each other as a species is relevant from the universal or earth perspective. Neither good nor bad. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are things that are good or bad for our society, or good or bad for interpersonal relations, or good or bad with respect to me getting laid. It all depends on perspective. And it is highly subjective.

    Completely irrelevant to the challenge. You either believe arrogance and egotism are bad acts are you don’t. If you do, you have contradicted your stated philosophy. If you don’t, you need to explain why you brought it up as an example of bad attitudes.

  69. 69
    vividbleau says:

    AK

    “That is a strange leap of logic.”

    This is so hilarious SB has your mind twisted like a pretzel. Hint AK logic is not one of your strong suits as SB and KF have demonstrated through out this thread

    “I stated that nothing we do to each other as a species is relevant from the universal or earth perspective. Neither good nor bad. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are things that are good or bad for our society, or good or bad for interpersonal relations, or good or bad with respect to me getting laid. It all depends on perspective”

    This is what AK is saying

    That doesn’t mean that i dont think there are things that are good or bad for our society,or good or bad for interpersonal relations or good or bad with respect to me getting laid because nothing we do to each other as a species is relevant from the universal or earth perspective ( whatever the hell that is) they are neither good or bad. ROFL

    Vivid

  70. 70
    vividbleau says:

    In other words even though there is no good or bad there is good and bad. Strange leap of logic indeed.

    Vivid

  71. 71
    jdk says:

    vivid, see #4.

    What you guys don’t get is that yes, human beings make judgments about good and bad, but there is no “objective” referent: we have to choose! You know, free will, rational responsibility, and all that jazz.

    This is not a matter of a failure of logic. It is a matter of different understandings of the nature of our moral sense.

    To judge that AK, or me, are using faulty logic because we don’t accept your premises is unjustified.

  72. 72
    vividbleau says:

    JDK
    My premise is that something that does not exist doesn’t exist I am surprised you don’t accept that premise? if there is no good or bad there is no good or bad.

    Vivid

  73. 73
    jdk says:

    If there is no good or bad attached somehow to a reality outside of human beings then there no good or bad attached somehow to a reality outside of human beings.

    I accept that as a tautology.

    I also believe it is true that there is no good or bad attached somehow to a reality outside of human beings.

    That means the words “good” and “bad” have a different meaning for me then you want them to mean: they refer to a kind of normative judgment that human beings make about how to behave in respect to other human beings.

    I am not responsible for accepting your premise that there is a referent for “good” and “bad” attached somehow to a reality outside of human beings. Therefore I am not responsible for using those words to mean what you think they mean.

  74. 74
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    “I am not responsible for accepting your premise that there is a referent for “good” and “bad” attached somehow to a reality outside of human beings. Therefore I am not responsible for using those words to mean what you think they mean.”

    Why are you mistating my premise?

    Vivid

  75. 75
    StephenB says:

    jdk:

    What you guys don’t get is that yes, human beings make judgments about good and bad, but there is no “objective” referent:

    .

    So if a murderer judges that it would be a good thing to kill you, and you judge it would be a bad thing, there is no objective standard to determine who is right? Remarkable.

  76. 76
    jdk says:

    What is your premise?

    One way of saying what I think your premise is is that there is an external referent for good and bad (moral beliefs) outside of human beings that is rooted in the fundamental nature of the universe.

    How would you state what your belief is?

  77. 77
    jdk says:

    That’s right, Stephen.

    I judge that murder is wrong and most people will judge that murder is wrong, but there is no God (or other moral component of the universe) that will make that judgment for us. It’s our responsibility: as I said to vivid, it’s a matter of free will and rationality.

    Here’s what I wrote earlier:

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

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

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

  78. 78
    vividbleau says:

    JDK
    “What is your premise?”

    Interesting that you comment on my premise and now ask me what it is. It’s best to limit ones comments to what the person says doncha think?

    Did you not read 72?

    Vivid

  79. 79
    jdk says:

    Yes, I responded direct to72 by trying to be more specific about what you meant by “good” and “bad”.

    And I asked what your premise was because you said I misstated it, so I wanted further clarification.

  80. 80
    ET says:

    Allan Keith:

    I presented a plausible explanation for our sense of morality and the values that we hold.

    In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means”.

  81. 81
    vividbleau says:

    JDK
    “Yes, I responded direct to72 by trying to be more specific about what you meant by “good” and “bad”.”

    Ask AK he was the one I was responding to. Besides the question is irrelevant to my premise, substitute whatever you want.

    Vivid

  82. 82
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    “What you or anyone thinks, irrespective of whether your reasoning seems logically impeccable to you, has no effect on how the world really is.”

    Exactly!!

    “If there is no God, and no moral component to the universe, then that’s the way it is, and your belief that it is otherwise is irrelevant.”

    Exactly!!

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

    Exactly!!

    “The fact that the lack of such a moral nature of the universe might lead to things we here would all agree are horrible is not evidence of a moral nature to the universe”

    Exactly!!

    “As the quote above says, if that’s the way it is then we just have to do the best we can with the human nature we’ve got. Tough if you don’t like: what you like is not an argument.”

    Exactly!!

    Vivid

  83. 83
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    “What you or anyone thinks, irrespective of whether your reasoning seems logically impeccable to you, has no effect on how the world really is.”

    Why is that?

    Vivid

  84. 84
    jdk says:

    Vivid, I get the feeling you are not interested in serious discussion.

    As to your question, do you think your thoughts and feelings about how the world is affects how the world is? What do you think? It’s a real New-Agey meme that we can make the world actually be what we want it to be, but I don’t believe that. Do you?

  85. 85
    vividbleau says:

    JDK re 84

    What I am interested in is a serious discussion about what I write not what you think I write or questions about what I mean by good or bad when the question should be directed at AK. You should ask him what he meant. Then like you sorta did with SB you say you get the feeling that I am not interested in a serious discussion because I refuse to go along with what I consider are comments responding to very little to my position.

    You seem incapable of even answering a question about what you DID write and you come back with a question for me about something about a New Agey meme, and its me that you feel is not interested in a serious conversation Really??

    If you read my post in 82 it is obvious that I dont think that my thoughts and feelings affects how the world is did you miss that? What do think “exactly” means in this context?

    Now I have answered your question will you respond to mine in 83?

    Why is that?

    Vivid

  86. 86
    jdk says:

    re 83, because our thoughts and feelings don’t affect the nature of the universe. We have limited affects on the details of the world through our actions, but the basic nature of the universe is not affected by what we think it is, or ought to be.

  87. 87
    vividbleau says:

    JDK re 86

    Thank you.

    Would it be fair to infer from your answer that regardless of what you and Ii believe about the basic nature of the universe it does not change what the nature of the universe that exists” is “because there is actually an objective universe that does exist?

    Vivid

  88. 88
    StephenB says:

    SB: So if a murderer judges that it would be a good thing to kill you, and you judge it would be a bad thing, there is no objective standard to determine who is right? Remarkable.

    That’s right, Stephen.

    I judge that murder is wrong and most people will judge that murder is wrong,…

    Like AK, you contradict yourself with almost every entry. You just finished saying that there are no objectively bad or objectively wrong acts. Now you are saying that you judge that murder is wrong.

    To say something “is wrong” is to say that it is objectively wrong. What you mean to say is that murder is not wrong but rather that you find it personally distasteful.

    So the next time you describe your philosophy, please do not twist words to make yourself appear more reasonable. You don’t judge murder to be wrong. You judge it to be neither right or wrong because you don’t believe that any such thing as right or wrong exists.

  89. 89
    jdk says:

    Yes, there is an objective universe that exists*

    The issue is how we know what the objective nature of the universe is.

    *This answer is complicated by quantum mechanics. I just finished reading the book “What is Real: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Mechanics”, which I found out about from Denise, but I don’t think that’s the area we are talking about here.

  90. 90
    jdk says:

    sb writes, “To say something “is wrong” is to say that it is objectively wrong.”

    No, but I’ve explained why that is wrong enough times in this thread. See 71 and 73, for example.

  91. 91
    StephenB says:

    SB: To say something “is wrong” is to say that it is objectively wrong.”

    No

    YES. You are confused. “Is wrong” is objective; “seems wrong” or is wrong “to me” is subjective.

    but I’ve explained why that is wrong enough times in this thread. See 71 and 73, for example.

    I have already pointed out the contradictions in your statements and alluded to your misuse of words.

  92. 92
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    Even though we dont fully understand the how of its existence that does not obviate the fact that it exists as it is not based on anyone’s beliefs. Different cosmologists have different ideas but all or some do not affect the objective universe that is. I only bring this point up because one of the main criticisms leveled at the existence of there being an objective morality is that there are so many differences as to what that morality would be. It doesn’t matter to the existence of the universe nor to anything else.

    Anyway it is my position that anything that does not have an objective existence regardless of what you , I or anyone else believes, does not exist. If there is no objective good that exists regardless of what I believe good does not exist, etc.

    Vivid

  93. 93
    jdk says:

    And I’ve pointed out that your insistence that you are right is based on your premise that objection good and badness exists. This is circular reasoning.

    If you’re wrong that objective goodness and badness exists, then those words as you use that have no meaning whatsoever.

  94. 94
    jdk says:

    to vivid.

    Does my love for my family have an objective existence?

    If you say no, does that mean my love for them doesn’t existence?

  95. 95
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    You exist, you are the objective existence. Part of your existence entails things that you feel, values you have, outside of you there is no such thing as your love for your family.

    Vivid

  96. 96
    jdk says:

    The same with good and bad: they exist within me (and in different ways in each one of us), but they have no independent existence

    Outside of me, and people in general and in collective ways, there is no such thing as good and bad.

  97. 97
    StephenB says:

    And I’ve pointed out that your insistence that you are right is based on your premise that objection good and badness exists. This is circular reasoning.

    You are confused. I am not arguing for the moment that I am right. I did that much earlier. I am arguing that you contradicted yourself, which you clearly did. You can’t say that right/wrong, good/bad doesn’t exist and then say that you judge murder to be wrong.

    jdk

    If you’re wrong that objective goodness and badness exists, then those words as you use that have no meaning whatsoever.

    That isn’t true at all. You don’t believe that objective reality exists and yet you think that the words [right and wrong good and bad] have meaning. Otherwise, you wouldn’t deny that they exist. Unless you are trying to say that objective morality doesn’t exist, but you also don’t know what objective morality means. Are you that far gone?

  98. 98
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    Yep there is no good or bad they are just more palatable labels for your personal preferences.

    To quote you

    jdk

    “If you’re wrong that objective goodness and badness exists, then those words as you use that have no meaning whatsoever.”

    Vivid

  99. 99
    jdk says:

    Yes, vivid, I explained that before: those words as you use them would have no meaning. However the words as I use them – individual choices of human beings about how to interact with other humans – would have meaning.

  100. 100
    jdk says:

    sb writes,

    You can’t say that right/wrong, good/bad doesn’t exist and then say that you judge murder to be wrong.

    And I’ll say again, right and wrong as you define them doesn’t exist, but right and wrong as I use those terms does.

  101. 101
    vividbleau says:

    JDK

    Does the universe that objectively exists based on how one defines it?

    It doesn’t matter how you use those terms if right or wrong have no objective existence your just using labels to describe your feelings as to how human beings should interact with other human beings. Why is this so difficult to grasp?

    Vivid

  102. 102
    jdk says:

    Yes, that is what I’m saying, except they are judgments, not just feelings: that is, they are choices we make based on a wide variety of factors, including values, goals, feelings (for instance, compassion and empathy), as well as more factual understandings about the world.

  103. 103
    Origenes says:

    Keith: But the important thing is that we constantly question what we now consider “right” or “morally acceptable”.

    What do you mean by “important”? Isn’t it your position that “important”, like everything else, is dependent on perspective, as in: what is important to you may not be important to me; let alone from a universal or earth perspective (if there are such things)?

    Keith: If we didn’t do this, we would still have Alavert, women wouldn’t be allowed to vote, women could be legally hit by their husbands, we would still be jailing if castrating homosexuals. There will be missteps, some of them with significant consequences. But that is no reason to stop questioning.

    Given your philosophy, it seems obvious to me that there is nothing to question. Questions like “why do you hold that it is a good thing to castrate homosexuals?” & “why do you hold that it is a good thing that women have no right to vote?” all run into the same answer “because I do.”
    Given your philosophy, what a person considers to be “right” and “morally acceptable” is what a person considers to be “right” and “morally acceptable” — end of story. Questioning those things is completely useless and lead nowhere, contrary to your claim that it is important.

  104. 104
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    And I’ll say again, right and wrong as you define them doesn’t exist, but right and wrong as I use those terms does.

    Sorry, that will not work. You are misusing the language. As I pointed out earlier, the phrase "is wrong," is a statement about the real world of objective reality, a statement about what IS. The phrase "seems wrong" or is wrong "to me" or "for me, is an statement about appearances – a subjective opinion. Those words and phrases mean what they mean.

    If you’re wrong that objective goodness and badness exists, then those words as you use that have no meaning whatsoever.

    Bad logic. Whether or not objective right or wrong exists has absolutely nothing to do with the meaning of those words—nothing. Whether or not an Angel or God exists has nothing to do with the meaning of those words. Whether or not a unicorn exists has nothing to do with the meaning of that term.

  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    The onward exchanges are interesting, underscoring however the persistent, widespread failure of our current formal and informal ethical education. Thus, instead of being teachers to the world, we need to think afresh and go back to first, mother’s milk baby stage steps and principles. Our civilisation is like land that having been well seeded and watered, has been visited by night by one who has sown the well-nurtured field with thistles, thorns and tares and it has now put up a growing crop of toxic weeds that are choking out the hoped for good fruit. Looks like time for drastic measures to scorch the earth and turn weeds and their ruinous seed into fertiliser for a fresh sowing.

    (Lesse if the classical allusions I just made will be recognised and understood.)

    In particular, we see how entangled our reasoning about truth, justice/fairness, governance [including law and public policy as well as public morality implicit in such] and action on the ground are with moral considerations. IS and OUGHT are patently inextricably entangled, walk hand in hand in any thought or persuasion situation, then play out in action.

    This means, it is vital to get them right, to get our thought, governance and action well-aligned to the actuality of what is, to reality.

    For instance, I saw above a remark that absent us, there is no morally tinged reflection and action. In short, to have such, we need responsibly rational, sufficiently free contemplative creatures who can warrant, reflect, adjust etc. Where of course, such a process is itself inextricably entangled with moral government considerations.

    But also, our culture is enamoured with the notion that reality is the spacio-temporal, physical domain, which then tends to reduce rational reflection to computation on substrates held to be shaped by forces that are essentially blind and non-rational — blind chance and/or mechanical causal necessity allegedly moving forward one small trial and error chance improvement at a time . . . implying an appeal to a vast continent of incrementally improvable configurations. Such, despite the strong evidence that functionally specific, configuration based organisation and associated information — precisely due to the tight requisites of right parts, correctly arranged and coupled — will come in deeply isolated islands of function. (And often, we don’t see the gap between the essentially mechanical and stochastic, non-rational nature of GIGO-driven computation on substrates and the rational insight and imagination required to design and effect such FSCO/I based systems! This is of course a central contention of intelligent design theory.)

    I suppose, we can now safely speak about “the well-behaved continent of incrementally improvable function” myth or fallacy.

    The solution to such is precisely the same as we find for the world of Mathematics. As I clipped in the OP:

    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.

    If someone out there imagines that something as complicated and intricately balanced as a social system can be incrementally governed through blind trial and error, something has gone deeply wrong. Updated social darwinism (hoping that altruism and cooperativeness make the key difference) is NOT plausible.

    Instead, what we can and do find is the possibility of exploring a domain of reality and by discovering its key concepts and principles, with aid of key, paradigm-shaping test cases (see why dismissing that test case is so wrong-headed?) elaborating a body of more or less reliable knowledge of the moral domain. Knowledge, of course, being mostly used in the soft form sense. While there will be plumbline, self-evident core principles, most of the domain is shaped based on provisional but likely reliable warrant. And, as we are as prone to moral error — which implies moral truth! — as we are to Mathematical error, careful expert thinking counts, as does being open to well-warranted correction and reforms.

    In short, we have laid out the skeleton for an organised body of objective moral knowledge that can then form a tradition. Yes, we can see emergence of a disciplined field of study, not a science but a valid domain of knowledge. In particular, a branch of philosophy (and of theology, which is closely linked) commonly termed ethics. Here is a quick outline of the focal issues and domains of study, by David Clarke and Robert Rakestraw:

    Principles are broad general guidelines that all persons ought to follow. Morality is the dimension of life related to right conduct. It includes virtuous character and honorable intentions as well as the decisions and actions that grow out of them. Ethics on the other hand, is the [philosophical and theological] study of morality . . . [that is,] a higher order discipline that examines moral living in all its facets . . . . on three levels. The first level, descriptive ethics, simply portrays moral actions or virtues. A second level, normative ethics (also called prescriptive ethics), examines the first level, evaluating actions or virtues as morally right or wrong. A third level, metaethics, analyses the second . . . It clarifies the meaning of ethical terms and assesses the principles of ethical argument . . . .

    Some think, without reflecting on it, that . . . what people actually do is the standard of what is morally right . . . [But, what] actually happens and what ought to happen are quite different [–> the IS-OUGHT gap] . . . . A half century ago, defenders of positivism routinely argued that descriptive statements are meaningful, but prescriptive statements (including all moral claims) are meaningless . . . In other words, ethical claims give no information about the world; they only reveal something about the emotions of the speaker . . . .

    Yet ethical statements do seem to say something about the realities to which they point. [–> the issue of ethical truth, per accurate description of reality in the domain of life of morally governed creatures] “That’s unfair!” encourages us to attend to circumstances, events, actions, or relationships in the world. We look for a certain quality in the world (not just the speaker’s mind) that we could properly call unfair. [–> objective, intelligible reality conducive to discovery and statement of truth] [Readings in Christian Ethics, Vol. 1: Theory and Method. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002), pp. 18 – 19.]

    In that context, we can see for example that there are naturally evident ends, such as that the purpose or end of mindedness and its capability of rational, creative contemplation (and of linked discussion) is truth. So, we may understand that what is good for the mind is what promotes, supports or enables that end. What is bad is what undermines, diverts from or frustrates that end.

    Thus also, evil can be seen as the privation as just summarised.

    Now, too, that raises the issue of the causal source of that naturally evident end.

    Yes, but that is an onward issue. (And yes, that points to root of reality issues and the need to bridge and fuse IS and OUGHT. Your candidate is: _______ , and it thrives through comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory balance because ________ , justifying that this is inference to best explanation as _____ . Clue no 1, evolutionary materialistic scientism, radical subjectivism, emotivism and socio-cultural relativism do not meet the grade.)

    Further to all such, we can see that test cases then allow us to further elaborate the principles, e.g. as was further outlined in the OP above through the test case of an unfortunate school child. Let me again clip, as it seems there is a pattern of studiously ignoring:

    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.

    So, can we start afresh?

    KF

  106. 106
  107. 107
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @kairosfocus

    Yet ethical statements do seem to say something about the realities to which they point.

    You might be interested in the opening to Emerson’s essay on Compensation. After describing his long ambition to pen such a treatise, he writes:

    … I was lately confirmed in these desires by hearing a sermon at church. The preacher, a man esteemed for his orthodoxy, unfolded in the ordinary manner the doctrine of the Last Judgment. He assumed that judgment is not executed in this world; that the wicked are successful; that the good are miserable; and then urged from reason and from Scripture a compensation to be made to both parties in the next life. No offence appeared to be taken by the congregation at this doctrine. As far as I could observe when the meeting broke up they separated without remark on the sermon.

    The fallacy lay in the immense concession that the bad are successful; that justice is not done now. The blindness of the preacher consisted in deferring to the base estimate of the market of what constitutes a manly success, instead of confronting and convicting the world from the truth; announcing the Presence of the Soul; the omnipotence of the Will; and so establishing the standard of good and ill, of success and falsehood, and summoning the dead to its present tribunal.

    I find a similar base tone in the popular religious works of the day and the same doctrines assumed by the literary men when occasionally they treat the related topics. I think that our popular theology has gained in decorum, and not in principle, over the superstitions it has displaced. But men are better than this theology. Their daily life gives it the lie. Every ingenuous and aspiring soul leaves the doctrine behind him in his own experience, and all men feel sometimes the falsehood which they cannot demonstrate. …

    It gets better – I highly recommend it.

  108. 108
    ScuzzaMan says:

    (continuing)

    This is a concept that nearly all of modernity (Materialist/Atheist/Darwinian or Christian or otherwise) has got completely upside down. Most modern theology is based on the assumption that God has to punish sin, implying that sin has no inherent consequence, in turn implying that God is arbitrary, in turn implying that God is merely a man with more power, in turn implying that man made God in our image (and not the reverse), in turn giving aid and comfort to the enemies of God and man.

    But the truth is as Paul wrote, that those things which are not seen (the spiritual foundations of our existence, including the laws by which existence operates) are the origins of that which is seen. In other words, the spiritual is not less than, derivative from, less real than, or a secondary effect of, the material world – which is the modern atheist’s position, but rather the spiritual is primary, foundation, cause, origin, the fundamental reality of which our material existence is a secondary artifact, a reflection of the spiritual nature and character of the Designer.

    And just as the two unprovable axioms of the modern creation / evolution debate (“There is God.” versus “There is no God.“) cannot ever be reconciled, so too these positions are irreconcilable. One necessarily arrives at either one or the other and there’s no possibility that both can be true or accepted without the aforementioned incoherence of self-contradiction; the surest sign that either your axioms are faulty, your argument is faulty, or both.

    The foundation of both spiritual and physical laws – what you might call Design law – in the character of the designer is the fundamental truth of both religion and science.

    Even a child is known by his doings.

  109. 109
    Allan Keith says:

    Origenes,

    What do you mean by “important”? Isn’t it your position that “important”, like everything else, is dependent on perspective, as in: what is important to you may not be important to me; let alone from a universal or earth perspective (if there are such things)?

    Yes, it is my opinion. I thought that was obvious. Most of what we talk about here. I didn’t think it was necessary to start the sentence with, “it is my opinion that…”

    Given your philosophy, it seems obvious to me that there is nothing to question. Questions like “why do you hold that it is a good thing to castrate homosexuals?” & “why do you hold that it is a good thing that women have no right to vote?” all run into the same answer “because I do.”

    Yes, there are people who believe that something is right or wrong and will refuse to change their minds no matter what arguments are used and what evidence is presented. But, thankfully for black people, homosexuals and women, there were people who were sufficiently intelligent to realize that they may be wrong.

  110. 110
    Origenes says:

    Allan Keith @

    AK: Yes, there are people who believe that something is right or wrong and will refuse to change their minds no matter what arguments are used and what evidence is presented.

    You must be confused, since, according to your position, there is no evidence against any moral position. Any moral position is subjective in nature and is what it is. Similarly, there is no sense in arguing that one should not like the color red. There aren’t any arguments.

    AK: But, thankfully for black people, homosexuals and women, there were people who were sufficiently intelligent to realize that they may be wrong.

    According to your position there is no wrong or right, so what do you mean?

  111. 111
    jdk says:

    Again, if there are no “objective” moral truths (and AK and I don’t believe there are), then subjective morals are all we got. But we have free will, rationality, and emotions such as love, empathy, and compassion (which are also subjective), so we have the tools to make informed choices about our moral judgments (as we make countless judgments about other things all the time.)

  112. 112
    StephenB says:

    jdk

    I judge that murder is wrong and most people will judge that murder is wrong,

    Please finish this sentence: “I judge murder to be wrong because…….”

  113. 113
    jdk says:

    Because my mature sense of love, compassion, and empathy for other human beings is such that I desire for them as much right to life as I desire for myself. I also recognize the benefits to society in general for a safe social structure that allows everyone to have a reasonable opportunity to become as well-developed human beings as they can, again motivated by a sense of connection to my fellow human beings through emotions such as love, compassion, and empathy. In part, I desire such a society because I know that I and the ones I most closely love and care about can’t have a reasonable maximum of happiness and satisfaction with our being in an unhealthy society, so I have a interest in everyone having somewhat the same opportunities I do.

    Therefore murder is wrong because it deprives people of a major good (life) that I want everyone to have, and because it, if not checked by moral and legal judgments, would be a serious detriment to a healthy society, which benefits us all.

    So, ultimately, I have emotions and understandings about other people that lead to this judgment.

  114. 114
    Allan Keith says:

    Origenes,

    You must be confused, since, according to your position, there is no evidence against any moral position.

    That’s my position? You must be in an alternate universe.

  115. 115
    Origenes says:

    Allan Keith @114

    Then, given the truth of the purely subjective nature of morality, what is the evidence against, say, the moral position that homosexuality is a bad thing?

    Isn’t it the case that such a moral stance, according to your philosophical position on morality, is just one of many possible moral positions which are all neither wrong or right?

  116. 116
    Allan Keith says:

    Origenes,

    Then, given the truth of the purely subjective nature of morality, what is the evidence against, say, the moral position that homosexuality is a bad thing?

    I don’t have a moral position on whether homosexuality is good or bad. My moral position is based on whether it is right to persecute homosexuals, restrict their employment options, prevent them from marrying, etc. It is based on the fact that I would not want society putting similar restrictions on me because I am a heterosexual, or because I had sex before marriage, or that I used birth control, or because I have sex purely for pleasure. In other words, it is subjective, yet supported with argument and evidence.

  117. 117
    Origenes says:

    Allan Keith @116

    AK: My moral position is based on whether it is right to persecute homosexuals, restrict their employment options, prevent them from marrying, etc.

    Well, suppose someone answers with “yes, it is right to do that”, then what?

    AK: It is based on the fact that I would not want society putting similar restrictions on me because I am a heterosexual, or because I had sex before marriage, or that I used birth control, or because I have sex purely for pleasure.

    So, according to your subjective personal preference it is right to treat hetero and homosexuals as equals. Ok. But, suppose someone else does not agree and is in favor of persecuting homosexuals, simply based on her personal preference. Then what?

    AK: In other words, it is subjective, yet supported with argument and evidence.

    What argument? What evidence? Stating your personal preference is neither an argument nor evidence.

  118. 118
    Seversky says:

    Just thought I’d add a few comments:

    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.”

    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.

    My remark was about what distinguishes moral claims from other claims about the nature of objective reality. Once more, moral claims are prescriptive rather than descriptive. They are about how we ought to behave rather than about what is. My remark does not assert that “every truth claim of form we ought to X (but may not), is false” it says they are not capable of being either true or false because they are not claims about objective reality which can be measured against what we can observe of that reality.

    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.

    I’m afraid not. My remark was a claim about the nature of moral claims. As such it was capable of being assessed as true or false by examining moral claims from around the world to see to what extent they could be judged to correspond to my claim about them. At no point did I recommend what people ought to believe or how they ought to behave in respect of my views. Consequently, I deny that my remark is vulnerable to any criticism of self-referential incoherence or self-falsification.

    >> 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.

    There are no “oughts” being prescribed here. I was pointing out that “right”, like so many other words, has a number of meanings but, in the context of consensus morality, it could refer to those guidelines which are judged to produce beneficial social outcomes by the members of the society to which they are intended to apply. It was not intended to mean “right” in any absolute or objective sense.

    1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

    I think the concept of self-evident truths outside formal systems like mathematics or logic is problematical but, regardless, since my view is that moral claims can be neither true nor false there can be no self-evident moral truths.

    This does not preclude the possibility that there are acts, such as the rape and murder of a child, which almost everyone can agree is most egregiously immoral. You can say it is self-evidently immoral to us but is it self-evident in any universal sense? After all, we know of animal species in which the adults will kill the young in certain circumstances or insects where the female will eat the male after mating if he’s not very careful. We might be a little shocked by such behavior but we accept it as just another example of nature “red in tooth and claw”. Following from that, it’s not too hard to imagine some advanced alien species, perhaps very different from us biologically, who regard the rape and murder of a human child with the same detached curiosity. So can we say it is self-evidently immoral?

    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.

    We certainly observe that in most if not all human societies codes of what is acceptable behavior emerge which people feel compelled to live by and which they feel bad about when they don’t observe.

    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.

    It would only be delusional if there were an insistence that the sense of conscience were a manifestation of some natural moral law for which we could find no objective evidence.

    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.

    Or we could take the pragmatic view that members of a society find that certain behaviors and attitudes are beneficial to their society and that there is a practical advantage to all in observing them

    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.

    Do we need the assumption of some natural moral law – for which we have no compelling evidence – or does what we might call enlightened self- and social-interest suffice?

    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.

    So the real reason for presuming a natural moral law is to provide an IS in which to ground all OUGHTS which could not otherwise be so grounded?

    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

    An avalanche does not recognize a human right to life, a bolt of lightning does not recognize a human right to life, a volcano does not recognize a human right to life. As far as we can tell, only human beings acknowledge a human right to life and then try to argue an added authority for it by claiming the existence of a natural moral law in which such rights are grounded.

    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.

    If that’s a roundabout way of saying the what are agreed to be universal human rights should not be lightly or easily abridged or repealed then I would agree.

    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

    I do not advocate or defend nihilism.

    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.

    The proper duty of government is to protect and uphold the interests and well-being of all the governed, which includes the provision of a fair and impartial system of justice.

    11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

    Agreed

    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.

    The problem is not over the value of a “general framework of moral governance” but over the source, legitimacy and authority of such a framework. Is it something we can and do create for ourselves as the potential subjects of such a framework or is it something that has to be outsourced to some other being or authority because some have such a low opinion of humanity as to believe we are not capable of such a thing ourselves?

  119. 119
    Allan Keith says:

    Origenes,

    Well, suppose someone answers with “yes, it is right to do that”, then what?

    Then I guess we would disagree. It happens.

    So, according to your subjective personal preference it is right to treat hetero and homosexuals as equals. Ok. But, suppose someone else does not agree and is in favor of persecuting homosexuals, simply based on her personal preference. Then what?

    Then we would disagree. Why is that so difficult to understand?

    What argument? What evidence? Stating your personal preference is neither an argument nor evidence.

    So, not wanting to persecute others because you wouldn’t want to be persecuted for the same thing is not an argument? Sorry, I guess we disagree.

  120. 120
    StephenB says:

    SB: Why do you judge murder to be wrong?

    jdk

    Because my *mature* sense of love, compassion, and empathy for other human beings is such that I desire for them as much right to life as I desire for myself.

    How do you know that your sense of love, compassion, and empathy are “mature,” unless there is some objective standard to differentiate between a mature sense and an immature sense?

    According to objective morality, for example, mature love [Agape] involves an element of making sacrifices for the other, whereas immature love [Eros] is simply being pleased by the other.

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

    In order to know what “benefits” society, you must first know what is “good” for society. It is impossible to make the first calculation without making the second.

    How do you know when humans are “well-developed” if there is no objective standard to determine whether or not they have reached that threshold?

    Are humans well developed if they possess love, compassion, and empathy but lack persistence, courage, and loyalty? Wouldn’t a well developed human being possess all those virtues? Or if they are not virtues, grounded in objective morality, what are they? Are they mere human traits that are morally neutral?

    Why should society have a safe social structure? Is that an objective good of some kind that *should* be aimed for? If not, then why do you aim for it as if it were? Like Allan, you assume (and unwittingly acknowledge) elements of objective morality each time you describe your position. In Allan’s case, he assumes that arrogance and egotism are objectively bad things without realizing he has done so.

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

    Once again, you are appealing to objective standards. You are assuming, without being aware of it, that health is an objectively good thing for a society to have. You are also assuming that a healthy society is an objectively good thing. Even in the physical realm, there is a difference between merely perceiving that you have good health and being objectively healthy, a state which can be detected by using objectively measurable standards.

    Therefore murder is wrong because it deprives people of a major good (life) that I want everyone to have, and because it, if not checked by moral and legal judgments, would be a serious detriment to a healthy society, which benefits us all.

    Life is, indeed, a good thing (even if someone “judges” it to be a bad thing). Freedom and peace are also objectively good things just as slavery and war are objectively bad things. If a tyrant *judges* that peace and freedom are bad things, then he is simply wrong because his opinion is not in keeping with the standards of objective morality, which are very real.

    It is because objective morality is real that we can make intelligent contributions on difficult subjects. Without the natural moral law, we cannot argue that humans have inherent dignity and deserve, therefore, to be free. Without the NML, we cannot explain why humans have a right to life (and which humans have that right.

  121. 121
    Origenes says:

    AK: So, not wanting to persecute others because you wouldn’t want to be persecuted for the same thing is not an argument?

    Indeed, that is, not according to your philosophy of subjective morality.

    Your personal preference WRT morality is akin to a personal preference for vanilla ice cream over cinnamon ice cream — personal preference is neither an argument nor evidence.

  122. 122
    jdk says:

    AK and Sev, I think I’ve said enough. I applaud you guys for whatever continued persistence you show.

  123. 123
    Allan Keith says:

    Jdk, it is definitely a futile venture. But I know that I am making them think when they have to resort to fabricating what they think my position is so that they can argue against it, rather than argue against the actual points being made. And when someone argues that when you use the word “is” you are talking about something objective, you know they are desperate. I guess it really does come down to what the definition of “is” is. :).

  124. 124
    kairosfocus says:

    SM, I think the Proverbs for just one instance are replete with cases of how sinful folly leads to disaster. KF

  125. 125
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, 118:

    I see several points of response, let me comment briefly:

    1] I think that our consciences by and large speak to us about morality and that say in argument we imply responsibilities and duties aplenty directly shows the self-evidence.

    2] Conscience is a commonplace fact of conscious life.

    3] Conscience testifies that we are under duty to the right, truth etc. If this is delusion — there is no real duty it is just a feeling that induces cooperation etc or the like — we have pervasive delusion in our thought life. With serious implications.

    4] Ought is not a matter of calculated advantage. And those who live by that premise are sociopaths.

    5] You have it back ways: we see the pattern of evidence per 1 – 4, this is inference not bare assumption.

    6] In a world where moral government is real on penalty of grand delusion, it must be anchored to reality, and post Hume, at world-root level.

    7] The natural right to life is in the context of the law of our nature.

    8] Mutuality.

    9] Personal view on nihilism is not the issue. The general absurdity of nihilism is.

    10 – 12] Framework is addressed in the chain. I find it interesting that the coherence and cumulative character seem to be missed.

    KF

    4]

  126. 126
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes, there is such a thing as cinnamon ice cream? Well, I have eaten ginger and have heard of curry so, why not. KF

  127. 127
    kairosfocus says:

    AK, really, now. KF

  128. 128
    Allan Keith says:

    KairosFocus,

    AK, really, now. KF

    Have I ever erroneously told you what I thought your position was and then criticize it?

  129. 129
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @ 126

    Curry ice-cream? That is just wrong!

    Why? Because I like cinnamon ice cream! (yes, you have guessed it, that’s an argument). Do you want me to prove that curry ice cream is wrong? Want evidence? OK here goes: I really like cinnamon ice cream!

  130. 130
    Allan Keith says:

    You guys haven’t lived until you’ve had maple and bacon ice cream.

  131. 131
    StephenB says:

    Allan

    And when someone argues that when you use the word “is” you are talking about something objective, you know they are desperate.

    Translation: Words mean things but I don’t want to be held accountable for the way I use them.
    —————————————————————————————-
    From the dictionary: Meaning of the word IS

    “third person singular present of *to be.”

    In other words, It is a reference to something that exists. Being = existence.

    From the dictionary: Meaning of the word SEEMS

    *to give the impression or sensation* of being something or having a particular quality.

    In other words, it is a reference to something that only appears to exist or be the case.

    —————————————————————————————-

    In a related matter, I have explained that both jdk and Allan assume the standards of objective morality to argue against objective morality. IN 120, I go into more detail. Neither Allan or jdk have answered the challenge.

  132. 132
    Origenes says:

    Allan Keith:
    Allan Keith @

    O: … suppose someone answers with “yes, it is right to do that”, then what?

    AK: Then I guess we would disagree. It happens.

    Indeed. And, given subjective morality, there is no way forward. There is no valid argument and no valid evidence that can impinge on either subjective position.

  133. 133
    Allan Keith says:

    Origenes,

    Indeed. And, given subjective morality, there is no way forward. There is no valid argument and no valid evidence that can impinge on either subjective position.

    Of course there is a way forward. If I can convince more people that my argument is better than yours, I have a chance of my view being more widely accepted. Welcome to how society works.

  134. 134
    Origenes says:

    AK: If I can convince more people that my argument is better than yours, I have a chance of my view being more widely accepted.

    You can only convince people with invalid arguments. You can tell them that, for some reason, they ought to follow your example and that may work, but you know that there is no “ought”. You know, as a subjective moralist, that there is no such thing as a better subjective position.

    If you do not agree, provide an example of an argument that is valid in the context of subjective morality. One single example of such an argument will suffice.

  135. 135
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes, I hate curry, generally speaking. There’s my argument. See, curry ice cream is definitely evil. KF

    PS: Thai version, recipe: https://food52.com/recipes/37024-thai-curry-ice-cream (Worse, it looks deceptively nice!)

  136. 136
    kairosfocus says:

    AK, are you aware that “fabricating” is an insinuation of willful deceit? I may have made a mistake or two at points (sometimes it is hard to pin your view down) but intentional strawman caricatures, no. I still highlight that your views, truth claims, arguments all imply binding, known, objective moral government through duties to truth and logic, fairness etc, all of which goes to my point. namely, IS and OUGHT are inextricably entangled and we need to find the bridge, which can only be at world root level if we are not to have ungrounded ought. KF

  137. 137
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, there IS a way forward, might and manipulation. Nihilism lurks at the open door. KF

    PS: See why I highlighted in the twelve points argument, that what is nihilistic or opens the door to it (I can see a hulking troll carrying a club and leering with blood-lust), will be instantly absurd?

  138. 138
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus: … there IS a way forward, might and manipulation. Nihilism lurks at the open door.

    Sadly the truth of your statement is illustrated in many areas of today’s society.

  139. 139
    asauber says:

    If I can convince more people that my argument is better than yours

    pros·e·lyt·ize

    convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.

    Onward, A/Mat Soldier.

    Andrew

  140. 140
    Allan Keith says:

    Kairosfocus,

    AK, are you aware that “fabricating” is an insinuation of willful deceit?

    Actually, I believe that it is a blatant accusation.

    I may have made a mistake or two at points (sometimes it is hard to pin your view down) but intentional strawman caricatures, no.

    Why do you assume that I was referring to you?

    Origines, there IS a way forward, might and manipulation. Nihilism lurks at the open door. KF

    You always neglect to include rational thought, the ability to predict consequences and social cooperation in your alternative to objective moral truths.

  141. 141
    Origenes says:

    Allan Keith (to KF): You always neglect to include rational thought, the ability to predict consequences and social cooperation in your alternative to objective moral truths.

    If I understand KF correctly, then this “neglect” is actually informed by sound logic.

    KF: if — per your claims and implications — there is no moral truth then the rationalisations offered and the social engineering attempted are utterly uncorrelated with any order of reality. Thus, necessarily, they will be random: there is no intelligible order of reality for them to attach to.

    The concept of subjective morality rests on the core claim is that there is no such thing as a better moral position — it all depends on subjective perspective.
    This means, Alan Keith, that there is no rational thought WRT moral behavior in the context of subjective morality. There is neither argument nor evidence.

    Again, if you do not agree, provide an example of an argument that is valid in the context of subjective morality. One single example of such an argument will suffice.

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