Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Ethics, Morality, and Sin

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Post #11

Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote: Your main argument seems to me to be that the standard of human morality cannot be objective, even if God exists. This was because morality would be subject to God's subjective declarations. I said it is subjective in that sense (although I think it is technically rooted in God's character), but that traditionally when people talk about morality being objective, they mean what humans ought to do is rooted in something external to human minds, similar in that way to the shape of the earth being objectively true.

If God is the creator of humans, then God determines what it means for humans to flourish. If God wants humans to flourish, then morality flows out of this design. God could place these moral truths within God's creatures to help them along. If true, then that would make "how humans ought to act" objectively true. Now, of course, whether this is reality or not is a different question. I'm just saying it would show morality to be objective in the traditional sense.
I would still consider your description of morality to be subjective to God but understand where your hypothetical scenario could create the perception that it is objective. It should be noted, though, that having the subjective perception that something is objectively true is not the same as something being actually objectively true.

Meanwhile, if we presume the Christian God's prescribed morality was designed to foster human flourishing, then any behaviors which can be demonstrated to serve in maximizing well-being and minimizing harm for the most people should be labeled as moral. However, by this logic, many Christians should feel morally compelled to accept and support the LGBTQ community because, by doing so, they would be contributing towards the development of an inclusive social environment which is objectively more conducive for human flourishing. Obviously, opposition to the acceptance of the LGBTQ community objectively detracts from human flourishing. Therefore, anti-LGBTQ behavior must be immoral if God's prescribed objective morality functions to bring about human flourishing.
You then seemed to share the following kinds of objections:

1. How can this code of behavior be externally imposed on humans?

I'm not entirely sure what you mean here. I agree humans have the freedom to follow the code or not. I think that if humans are thinking clearly, then their judgment of what leads to their flourishing will cohere with this code. Maybe this thought involves the next two elements in it:

2. Wouldn't these rules be arbitrary?

Not necessarily. God wouldn't be deciding disinterestedly, but with human purpose and capabilities in mind and making rules that lead to true human flourishing.
As previously demonstrated, if human flourishing is the Christian God's intentions, then orthodox and traditional Christianity has some serious internal contradictions to resolve with some of its doctrines. Returning to the LGBTQ issue as an example, the membership of that community make up a significantly small fraction of the total number of humans in the world. The fact that sexual intercourse between same sex couples fails to produce children is of no consequence to the survival of humanity. Therefore, the LGBTQ community doesn't need to conform to orthodox or traditional Christian heteronormative standards for humanity to flourish.

In fact, humanity would have a serious overpopulation problem if everyone were biologically heterosexual and succeeded in sexually reproducing. Since the problems associated with overpopulation would detract from everyone's well-being, human flourishing cannot simply be about ensuring human reproduction. As such, the various members of the LGBTQ community who choose not to reproduce are helping ensure human flourishing by utilizing less resources.

Human flourishing is about balancing the survival of humanity with human well-being. For instance, many children who were born to heterosexual couples as a consequence of unwanted pregnancies are often given up for adoption. There are too few heterosexual couples interested in adoption for every orphaned child to be guaranteed a permanent home. The well-being of those orphaned children is obviously not being maximized. Fortunately, many members of the LGBTQ community who cannot sexually reproduce their own children often choose to adopt, care, and provide love for orphaned children whose well-being would have otherwise been threatened. Furthermore, scientific research has demonstrated that children adopted by LGBTQ parents not only successfully contribute to societal health to the same degree as those adopted by heterosexual parents but, in many instances, are more successful. This demonstrates yet another means by which the acceptance of the LGBTQ community contributes towards human flourishing.

At the same time, acceptance of the LGBTQ lifestyle has no negative impact to human flourishing that can be objectively demonstrated. Conversely, public and private condemnation and vilification of the LGBTQ lifestyle has only been shown to cause emotional and psychological damage to members of that community. Therefore, if God's prescribed objective morality for humanity is designed to ensure human flourishing, then it must be immoral to condemn and vilify the LGBTQ lifestyle.
3. What if we disagree with this code?

Then we are wrong. What if we think the earth is flat? We are wrong.
I agree. If some people disagree that it is moral to accept and support the LGBTQ community, then they are demonstrably wrong. Accepting and supporting the LGBTQ community clearly and objectively contributes to human well-being more than condemning and vilifying the LGBTQ community. Those who think otherwise are obviously wrong in the same way that people who think the Earth is flat are wrong.
And you have also seemed to share that some subjective moral systems are better than others. I don't see how that could be true if there is no standard outside of subjective human desires.
Where you and I share the same goal of maximizing well-being and minimizing harm for the most people (whether that is our shared subjective opinion or a perceived objective moral law from God), we can determine which moral systems are better at achieving that goal.
The Nazi morality would not, if followed through to its end, resulted in the extinction of the human species. With the above logic, if that had occurred, then it would be a superior moral system. That tells me there is something wrong with your test of superiority.
If the Nazi morality were to have caused the extinction of humanity, then it would have only been superior in the sense that it was the last system of human morality to survive before humans ceased to exist but was inferior in the sense that it prevented humanity from flourishing. Whether the Nazi morality in that scenario was superior or inferior depends on the context in which it is being considered.
Yes, why should an individual care if the human species flourishes, rather than just herself?
I never claimed any individual should care if the human species flourishes. It is just an objective fact that most of us do desire for humanity to flourish. The universe certainly doesn't care if humanity survives or goes extinct, but most of us do have an instinct for survival nonetheless. As such, any individuals who care more about their own selfish desires more than the flourishing of all humanity will be vastly outnumbered. This isn't to assert that the selfish individual's perspective must necessarily conform to the larger group's perspective, but the larger group will certainly prohibit or at least discourage the selfish individual from acting on a perspective that will detract from the group's well-being. That is just how the natural selection process operates. For this reason, even selfish individuals can learn to understand how it is in their best interest to behave in a way that maximizes well-being and minimizes harm for the most people.

Now, you might be tempted to posit a hypothetical at this point that asks what the outcome would be if the majority of people in the world decided to not care if humanity flourishes. The problem with positing hypothetical scenarios in this situation is that the fabricated conditions and the predicted outcomes, whatever they might be, will not correspond to the reality we observe. Even if it brings us discomfort to accept the possibility that humanity could collectively develop a subjective moral system that would detract from human flourishing without an objective moral system, there are no facts or evidences to suggest the majority of people on the planet will ever permit themselves to deviate from the shared goal of maximizing well-being and minimizing unnecessary harm for all humanity.
If more people were on board with Nazi morality, would that make the morality good, just because our species would survive?
The hypothetical is unreasonable. For the Nazi morality to have been preferred by more people would have required it to produce outcomes that were consistent with our shared desire for human flourishing. Genocide is not consistent with the concept of human flourishing even if it ensures the survival of only a minority of people. So, your hypothetical describes an impossibility unless the majority of humans preferred not to flourish or survive. If the collective goal of most people in the world was to suffer unnecessarily at the hands of a minority of Germans, then adopting the Nazi morality would be a good method for achieving that goal. Fortunately, in the reality we all experience, most people in the world aren't inclined to experience unnecessary suffering.
That just punts the question back a level. How do we define "flourishing"? People subjectively define it differently. If that is true, then no moral system is superior to another, they are just different.
Any definition of "flourishing" that is not consistent with or contradicts most people's shared desire to maximize well-being and minimize unnecessary harm for all of humanity will not be able to compete with the concepts of "flourishing" that do satisfy those criteria. This isn't to suggest any single concept of "flourishing" should be objectively superior to the others, only that one will eventually be selected by the majority of people. Of course, there are quite a number of biological criteria that any concept of "flourishing" must satisfy regardless of anyone's opinion. For instance, genetic diversity is required for humanity to flourish. Otherwise, our species will run into the problem of having a genetic bottleneck. Therefore, any concept of "flourishing" that is restricted to a single geographically isolated population of humans will ultimately fail.
I would say the overconfidence in their own intellect or authorities (that are not always what they claim they are) is more to blame. It's not just a religious feature, either. Secular objectivists do the same. It's not just an objectivist problem, either. Subjectivists do great harm.
Until someone can demonstrate the existence of a superior intellect or authority outside humanity, we have no choice but to rely upon our own intellect and authority to cooperate towards achieving our shared goal of maximizing well-being and minimizing unnecessary harm for the most people. Problems and mistakes will occur as we attempt to develop and refine our moral systems, but this is just how the process of natural selection operates in social species.

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Post #12

Post by The Tanager »

bluegreenearth wrote:I would still consider your description of morality to be subjective to God but understand where your hypothetical scenario could create the perception that it is objective. It should be noted, though, that having the subjective perception that something is objectively true is not the same as something being actually objectively true.
I agree that morality is subjective in relation to God in this scenario, but I do think moral goodness would be an objective truth for humans. It would be objectively true, for instance, that the Holocaust was immoral for humans to take part in because of the subjective desires of the Creator of humans. And this is the sense the historical debate has focused on regarding objective vs. subjective morality.
bluegreenearth wrote:Meanwhile, if we presume the Christian God's prescribed morality was designed to foster human flourishing, then any behaviors which can be demonstrated to serve in maximizing well-being and minimizing harm for the most people should be labeled as moral. However, by this logic, many Christians should feel morally compelled to accept and support the LGBTQ community because, by doing so, they would be contributing towards the development of an inclusive social environment which is objectively more conducive for human flourishing. Obviously, opposition to the acceptance of the LGBTQ community objectively detracts from human flourishing. Therefore, anti-LGBTQ behavior must be immoral if God's prescribed objective morality functions to bring about human flourishing.
This depends on what it means for humans to flourish. Upon theism, there would be a truth about what human flourishing is (whatever that truth is). It would be quite possible for humans to get it wrong and run with it and work against human flourishing.

The way you speak about LGBTQ+ issues, makes it sound like you are an objectivist. But you are a subjectivist, right? Maybe you are just saying something like "this is how an objectivist would view LGBTQ+ issues"? On subjectivism there are different ideas about human flourishing and there is no standard to judge one as better than the other. They are simply different.
bluegreenearth wrote:
And you have also seemed to share that some subjective moral systems are better than others. I don't see how that could be true if there is no standard outside of subjective human desires.

Where you and I share the same goal of maximizing well-being and minimizing harm for the most people (whether that is our shared subjective opinion or a perceived objective moral law from God), we can determine which moral systems are better at achieving that goal.
My point is simply that people have different goals. On subjectivism, the goals are not better or worse than each other, simply different. And even when we have the same stated goal, we will disagree on what maximizes well-being and minimizes harm. The Nazis sought human flourishing. They differed on what leads to human flourishing, defining various people groups as sub-human and harmful to human flourishing. On subjectivism, these ideas are simply different.
bluegreenearth wrote:Any definition of "flourishing" that is not consistent with or contradicts most people's shared desire to maximize well-being and minimize unnecessary harm for all of humanity will not be able to compete with the concepts of "flourishing" that do satisfy those criteria. This isn't to suggest any single concept of "flourishing" should be objectively superior to the others, only that one will eventually be selected by the majority of people. Of course, there are quite a number of biological criteria that any concept of "flourishing" must satisfy regardless of anyone's opinion. For instance, genetic diversity is required for humanity to flourish. Otherwise, our species will run into the problem of having a genetic bottleneck. Therefore, any concept of "flourishing" that is restricted to a single geographically isolated population of humans will ultimately fail.
I don't disagree with you here, I just don't see the importance of this point to our discussion. Yes, what happens will be the result of the majority of power (whether or not that is the majority of people). And some views could lead to the end of the human species. But very different views of "flourishing" could all lead to the survival and even eventual thriving of the human species. If humanity came upon one worldview, either through willingness or war, great "flourishing" of the species could easily follow.

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Post #13

Post by bluegreenearth »

The Tanager wrote: I agree that morality is subjective in relation to God in this scenario, but I do think moral goodness would be an objective truth for humans. It would be objectively true, for instance, that the Holocaust was immoral for humans to take part in because of the subjective desires of the Creator of humans. And this is the sense the historical debate has focused on regarding objective vs. subjective morality.
According the description of objective morality you've provided, any moral duty prescribed by God would have to be classified as an objective moral good. In that sense, taking part in a Holocaust would not necessarily be immoral if God decreed it was your objective moral duty to exterminate an entire population of human beings. If your concept of objective morality is valid, the moral goodness of a divinely commanded Holocaust would be an objective truth. For instance, it must have been an objective moral good for the ancient Hebrews to engage in genocidal and infanticidal actions against a neighboring tribe of people whom they had already successfully conquered. This barbaric event transpired because God instructed the Jewish leadership to have their soldiers go back and slaughter all the remaining women and children they had spared during the initial invasion. To denigrate these war crimes as immoral acts is to place a subjective concept of morality above God's desire for humanity.

The inescapable and unresolvable problem with the concept of objective morality you've described is that it requires an objectively verifiable and reproducible demonstration of the objective moral law maker's existence before any action taken in accordance with this authority's prescriptions would be justifiable. To illustrate this point, imagine you are one of the ancient Hebrew soldiers who received the order to slaughter the remaining women and children in the neighboring city you've just conquered. Since compliance with that order would contradict your own subjective concept of morality, I hope it would require more than faith in your military leader's extraordinary claim about the divine origin of the specified mission to secure your complicit participation in egregious war crimes. Agreeing to slaughter women and children based on an unverifiable assertion that the order came directly from the creator of the universe would not only be unjustifiable but criminal.

So, what additional facts and evidence should convince you that committing war crimes was, indeed, your objective moral duty commanded by the Jewish God you worship if eyewitness testimony from one or two tribal leaders is your only source for divinely revealed information? How could you rule out the possibility that the objective morality prescribed by a different tribe's God isn't the objective morality you should adopt as your own? The "might makes right" approach was obviously not convincing to the ancient Hebrews in that regard because the Bible indicates they mostly remained loyal to YHWH despite their failure to conquer every neighboring tribe they intended to destroy (those fancy metal chariots were just too much for God's chosen people). The ability to achieve maximal well-being for yourself and your tribe must not be a deciding factor either because the Bible also indicates that God's chosen people were fairly obedient to YHWH's objective moral prescriptions despite the unusual amount suffering they consistently experienced.

If you were assured that the military leadership would seriously consider your objections and not execute you for disobeying orders, I suspect you would not make the same moral choices as those ancient Hebrews. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that you would choose to follow your own subjective sense of morality rather than slaughter helpless women and children in the interest of obeying morally questionable orders from your tribal leaders.

Personally, even if God manifested himself directly before me to proclaim it was my objective moral duty to slaughter women and children in a neighboring town, I would like to think my response would be to disobey his orders. My objection isn't based on the presumption that I know better than God but because there is no theological justification that would pacify my subjective moral conscience if I were to succeed in complying with the objective moral duty God prescribed for me. I would rather be labeled immoral in that context and experience the consequences of my disobedience than be rewarded for following those orders.

Yes, even if God explained to me that the women and children he intends for me to slaughter would corrupt my family and friends into a life of unrepentant sin if I permit them to survive while the children I slaughter will at least be spared eternal suffering, I still wouldn't be able to reconcile compulsive obedience to God's objective moral commands with my own subjective concept of morality. When my disobedience in this regard relegates me to an afterlife of eternal suffering, at least my conscience will be clear.
This depends on what it means for humans to flourish. Upon theism, there would be a truth about what human flourishing is (whatever that truth is). It would be quite possible for humans to get it wrong and run with it and work against human flourishing.
Why do we need an externally imposed objective morality to dictate what human flourishing should be for us when humanity has already demonstrated the capacity to develop our own subjective moral system through the process of natural selection? Sure, we have gotten it wrong on occasion, but our moral progress is an indication that we have the ability to learn from our mistakes. The Christian moral system you've subjectively identified as your objective morality is one example of where the natural selection process is functioning to refine human morality.

Your modern-day subjective Christian morality and a relatively recent but widely accepted subjective Secular Humanist morality share a common ancestor in the form of an earlier and more archaic subjective Christian moral system that hopefully went extinct sometime after the worldwide abolition of slavery during the 19th century. This early Christian moral system declared the selling and purchasing of human beings as private property to be morally permissible in the eyes of God. It also proclaimed the inferior status of women to be God's objective moral truth. There are a variety of other notable moral discrepancies we could identify in comparison with the modern subjective Christian moral system you seem to admire, but I will assume the previously described examples sufficiently illustrate the point.

Eventually, as the selection pressures on subjective moral systems began to change in accordance with the emerging Secular Humanist realization that owing and treating people like property is not conducive to the well-being of humanity, the ancestral Christian moral system was reluctantly but gradually evolved into your subjective version of Christian morality by strategically modifying the subjective theological interpretations of a few ambiguously worded scriptures.

Meanwhile, we are beginning to observe yet another evolutionary transformation in the subjective Christian moral system as it continues to respond to pressures imposed by natural selection. The wide appeal of many subjective Secular Humanist moral systems is influencing some subjective Christian moral systems to, once again, adapt in order to remain competitive. However, a steady and dramatic decline in the number of people who identify with a more traditional and inflexible subjective Christian morality is an indication that this version of a perceived objective morality may be going extinct as the more liberal Christian moral systems try to keep pace with the more successful Secular Humanist moral systems. Given sufficient time, this natural selection process has the potential to refine human morality to the point where all excessively dogmatic subjective moral systems will have to adapt or go extinct while any differences between the surviving subjective moral systems will be too insignificant to be of any real concern.
The way you speak about LGBTQ+ issues, makes it sound like you are an objectivist. But you are a subjectivist, right? Maybe you are just saying something like "this is how an objectivist would view LGBTQ+ issues"? On subjectivism there are different ideas about human flourishing and there is no standard to judge one as better than the other. They are simply different.
As previously explained, I'm a subjectivist because there is no demonstrable evidence to support the claim that an objective morality exists. Until an objective moral authority is demonstrated to exist, the claim that Christianity provides an objective moral standard will be just another subjective opinion. In the mean time, the process of natural selection functions to determine which subjective moral systems will survive and which will go extinct. Every proposed subjective moral system including Christian morality has evolved through this natural process and will either continue to adapt in response to the selection pressures imposed by humanity or go extinct.
My point is simply that people have different goals. On subjectivism, the goals are not better or worse than each other, simply different. And even when we have the same stated goal, we will disagree on what maximizes well-being and minimizes harm. The Nazis sought human flourishing. They differed on what leads to human flourishing, defining various people groups as sub-human and harmful to human flourishing. On subjectivism, these ideas are simply different.
Where subjective moral systems disagree, natural selection will determine which human behaviors maximize well-being and minimize harm for the most people. If your subjective Christian morality survives the natural selection process more successfully than my subjective Secular Humanist morality, then it will have demonstrated its capability of maximizing well-being and minimizing harm for the most people. The subjective Nazi moral system already had its chance to compete for selection and reproduction but failed. I am not discomforted by the fact that subjectivism technically prevents me from declaring the Nazis were "objectively" immoral because it is satisfying enough to know my subjective Secular Humanist morality is surviving the natural selection process where the subjective Nazi morality could not.
I don't disagree with you here, I just don't see the importance of this point to our discussion. Yes, what happens will be the result of the majority of power (whether or not that is the majority of people). And some views could lead to the end of the human species. But very different views of "flourishing" could all lead to the survival and even eventual thriving of the human species. If humanity came upon one worldview, either through willingness or war, great "flourishing" of the species could easily follow.
As best as we can tell from our limited perspective, humanity has no choice but to develop its subjective morality through the natural selection process. Whatever subjective moral system survives the natural selection process will be the subjective morality humanity adopts. Pretending a subjective religious moral system is an objective morality will not be a sufficient justification for actions taken in accordance with that subjective religious morality.

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Post #14

Post by Wootah »

bluegreenearth wrote: Disclaimer: I accept the possibility of being mistaken about my current position on this issue, but logically fallacious arguments will not persuade me to agree with you. Yes, I also accept the possibility that my own argument might be logically fallacious even though no one has yet demonstrated to me where it is fallacious.

To the best of my ability thus far, I cannot deduce a way to objectively ground morality; even if a God exists. If morality is grounded in a God, then it would be inherently subjective to whatever that God declares to be right or wrong. The only way for objective morality to exist would be for it to function as an emergent property of some unknown law of physics. In that way, morality would not be subject to any conscious mind's opinion.

Please be polite and patient with me in your responses. Thank you.
It's subjective when I want to do wrong and objective when someone does wrong by me.
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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #15

Post by Artie »

bluegreenearth wrote: Disclaimer: I accept the possibility of being mistaken about my current position on this issue, but logically fallacious arguments will not persuade me to agree with you. Yes, I also accept the possibility that my own argument might be logically fallacious even though no one has yet demonstrated to me where it is fallacious.

To the best of my ability thus far, I cannot deduce a way to objectively ground morality; even if a God exists. If morality is grounded in a God, then it would be inherently subjective to whatever that God declares to be right or wrong. The only way for objective morality to exist would be for it to function as an emergent property of some unknown law of physics. In that way, morality would not be subject to any conscious mind's opinion.

Please be polite and patient with me in your responses. Thank you.
Morality is functionally objective.
https://thegemsbok.com/art-reviews-and- ... -morality/

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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #16

Post by Artie »

Difflugia wrote:
bluegreenearth wrote:To the best of my ability thus far, I cannot deduce a way to objectively ground morality; even if a God exists.
That is exactly the boat I'm in. Every way I spin it in my head, morality boils down to the question, "What should I do about this?"
And the moral thing to "do about this" is to do what is most beneficial and/or least detrimental to the well-being and survival of your society and the people in it.
I can't think of a single situation that doesn't involve the weighing of human options. Even if there are rules that come from a god, we can't agree on what the rules are. Is it "don't kill" or "don't murder?" If it's "don't murder," when is killing not murder?
When the result of not killing is more detrimental to the well-being of your society and people than killing.
One tack that apologists like to take is to claim that God imprinted some form of morality on our hearts, but perhaps the closest thing to a universal imprinting is "don't kill most other people most of the time." Or maybe, "don't lie unless you have a pretty good reason to."
https://thegemsbok.com/art-reviews-and- ... -morality/
Even if it were possible in principle to define a moral calculus that would always give an optimal measure of morality by some defined set of moral standards, I don't think we can, even in principle, agree on the standards. Most morality judgements involve weighing personal gain or loss against the gain or loss of another person or group of people. We have good reason to think that higher speed limits lead to more traffic fatalities. Is it ever moral to raise a speed limit? Is it immoral not to lower them all? Should 45 mph be the new pro-life stance? Whenever the tradeoffs are not in kind (lives vs. economy of driving time in this example), there are legitimate, subjective arguments to how the values are weighted.
Whichever speed limit is most beneficial to well-being and survival of the society is the moral one.

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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #17

Post by Difflugia »

Artie wrote:And the moral thing to "do about this" is to do what is most beneficial and/or least detrimental to the well-being and survival of your society and the people in it.
That's the $64 question, now, isn't it? That's only slightly more narrow than, "do what you think is best."

If I understand the article you linked correctly (and I'm not sure I do), the author is saying that being a social animal was advantageous, so we evolved the desire to do things that promote society and that is morality. Since the urge to behave that way isn't strictly voluntary, it's "functionally objective." Is that right?

To be blunt, I don't think that author adds much to the discussion. You have extrapolated a bit on the author's claim to say that any action that is more beneficial to society is the moral (or, at least, more moral) choice, but even the author you linked (whether wittingly or not) relates the social aspect of morality back to individual success ("An egregious moral wrongdoer would be destined for isolation, and therefore their genetic structure destined for extinction."). Human beings have urges (and the author seems to identify the urges with morality) that compete between immediate benefit to the self and immediate benefit to the society. That only seems to be novel to apologists, who seem to think that all human urges are selfish, except the ones that God imprinted on our hearts (like don't eat lobster or have gay sex). Otherwise, the author seems to have noticed that the cognitive framework has identifiable survival value, but is complex. We already knew that. He then coined "functionally objective" because neither "objective" nor "subjective" seems adequate, but we knew that, too.

He's described our experience of morality, but hasn't really explained anything. Is morality objective or subjective?

Yes.

Well, which one?

Maybe.

What?

Functionally objective.

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Post #18

Post by bluegreenearth »

Wootah wrote:
bluegreenearth wrote: Disclaimer: I accept the possibility of being mistaken about my current position on this issue, but logically fallacious arguments will not persuade me to agree with you. Yes, I also accept the possibility that my own argument might be logically fallacious even though no one has yet demonstrated to me where it is fallacious.

To the best of my ability thus far, I cannot deduce a way to objectively ground morality; even if a God exists. If morality is grounded in a God, then it would be inherently subjective to whatever that God declares to be right or wrong. The only way for objective morality to exist would be for it to function as an emergent property of some unknown law of physics. In that way, morality would not be subject to any conscious mind's opinion.

Please be polite and patient with me in your responses. Thank you.
It's subjective when I want to do wrong and objective when someone does wrong by me.
Would you mind explaining your justification for this point?

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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #19

Post by Artie »

Difflugia wrote:
Artie wrote:And the moral thing to "do about this" is to do what is most beneficial and/or least detrimental to the well-being and survival of your society and the people in it.
That's the $64 question, now, isn't it? That's only slightly more narrow than, "do what you think is best."

If I understand the article you linked correctly (and I'm not sure I do), the author is saying that being a social animal was advantageous, so we evolved the desire to do things that promote society and that is morality.
We call those actions that is beneficial for society moral actions. Right or moral or good are just different words describing the same action.
Since the urge to behave that way isn't strictly voluntary, it's "functionally objective." Is that right?
Right.
To be blunt, I don't think that author adds much to the discussion. You have extrapolated a bit on the author's claim to say that any action that is more beneficial to society is the moral (or, at least, more moral) choice, but even the author you linked (whether wittingly or not) relates the social aspect of morality back to individual success ("An egregious moral wrongdoer would be destined for isolation, and therefore their genetic structure destined for extinction."). Human beings have urges (and the author seems to identify the urges with morality) that compete between immediate benefit to the self and immediate benefit to the society.
I benefit immensely from living in a well-functioning and thriving society. I personally wouldn't be alive if I didn't live in a society with a good hospital. So for my own benefit, I do what is beneficial for the society.
That only seems to be novel to apologists, who seem to think that all human urges are selfish, except the ones that God imprinted on our hearts (like don't eat lobster or have gay sex). Otherwise, the author seems to have noticed that the cognitive framework has identifiable survival value, but is complex. We already knew that. He then coined "functionally objective" because neither "objective" nor "subjective" seems adequate, but we knew that, too.

He's described our experience of morality, but hasn't really explained anything. Is morality objective or subjective?

Yes.

Well, which one?

Maybe.

What?

Functionally objective.
Since morality is neither fully subjective nor fully objective and none of those words are adequate to describe morality but "functionally objective" is, what's wrong with using that expression instead of inadequate single words?

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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #20

Post by Difflugia »

Artie wrote:We call those actions that is beneficial for society moral actions. Right or moral or good are just different words describing the same action.
Often, but not exclusively. Sexual jealousy defines a significant bit of what is normally called "morality" and the rules are not primarily for social benefit. In fact, most sexual taboos and rules about what constitutes a marriage codify urges that are selfish rather than communal. As long as sexual fidelity is considered to be within the purview of morality, morality and social benefit are not identical.
Artie wrote:I benefit immensely from living in a well-functioning and thriving society. I personally wouldn't be alive if I didn't live in a society with a good hospital. So for my own benefit, I do what is beneficial for the society.
That's as good an argument as any for that definition of "moral," but that doesn't explain why that definition should be considered objective (or "functionally objective"). In fact, it's the opposite; it's based on its perceived benefit to you, which makes it subjective, pretty much by definition. In order to even fit the framework of the article you cited, you'd have to do what is beneficial for society, specifically because it feels to you that it's beneficial to society even though the actual reason you feel that way is because it was evolved by your ancestors for ultimately non-altruistic reasons.
Artie wrote:Since morality is neither fully subjective nor fully objective and none of those words are adequate to describe morality but "functionally objective" is, what's wrong with using that expression instead of inadequate single words?
I disagree that it's adequate. The only definition I can glean from the article for "functionally objective" is that it means neither objective nor subjective. That's like saying that religion is "functionally rational" and expecting it to mean something.

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