Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Ethics, Morality, and Sin

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Mikronman
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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #41

Post by Mikronman »

bluegreenearth wrote:
To the best of my ability thus far, I cannot deduce a way to objectively ground morality; even if a God exists.
I know I'm late to the party, but I wanted to offer an idea I've been thinking about lately and see if it makes sense to you. Here it goes.

My thought is that morality is objective in the sense that it exists, must necessarily exist and be practiced by all animal species in order to drastically increase their ability to survive and thrive. I would propose that it's objectively advantageous and necessary to our evolution, as deviance from the moral landscape and our innate sense reciprocity will result in premature removal from the gene pool.

I would further propose that morality has an objective source - coexistence. If I didn't have to co-exist with another human, morality really has no basis or meaning. Lying, stealing, cheating, killing, loving, helping, saving, etc. are moral actions that don't exist without co-existence.

Within what I call the objective moral enterprise and the universal mandate to practice morality, how it is practiced is subjective. That depends on whatever cultural framework (moral agency) you participate in. I think this is where the concept of god as an objective moral source fails, because gods are built within cultures that attempt to construct some sort of unified canon of moral values that make sense to them and helps unify a group to accomplish societal goals. This is why cultures perceive their framework and chosen deity as the author and source of morality as a whole. Such perception seems further justified when a large group of people unified under common goals makes it easier to progress, thrive and in some cases dominate as a society, empire or nation.

While our moral enterprise consists of many diverse moral agencies encompassing 7 billion diverse moral agents, there are moral practices that I would suggest are functionally objective - grounded on Confucius' golden rule: Don't do unto others what you would not done to yourself - empathy being the driving factor. "Don't murder" is an example of a moral precept that is functionally objective.

However, killing the the name of your god, while seen as murder by the rest of the world, is virtuous killing to the extreme ideologist. How do we reconcile that?

I think the answer simply lies in the fact that our modern world is dominated by societies, cultures (moral agencies if you will) that agree that such an ideological practice is wrong. Our collective moral influence dominates to the point where such an ideological practice is wrong, a moral decision that is functionally objective based on the observable evidence.

I'll stop there. I know I dumped a lot out without fully explaining each point. Just want to see if you are tracking with me, or if I am way off base. I know I'll have to elaborate my last point much further.
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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #42

Post by bluegreenearth »

[Replying to post 41 by Mikronman]

You make a compelling argument. I look forward to examining it in more detail soon. Unfortunately, my attention is elsewhere at the moment. However, I promise to respond in more detail as soon as possible. In the meantime, maybe someone else monitoring this thread will make an attempt at identifying where any logical fallacies or biases might exist.

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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #43

Post by Menotu »

[Replying to post 1 by bluegreenearth]

If I understand you correctly (which I may not as others here have pointed out I'm dense on certain subjects):
Morality is up to the individual. What's moral for one may or may not be for another. While morality has to come from 'somewhere' (that 'somewhere' is up for debate), what really matters is the individual's perception of what morality is.
Is it objective or subjective? I suppose that, like morality, is based on whom is asked and their definition (or lack of).

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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #44

Post by bluegreenearth »

Menotu wrote: [Replying to post 1 by bluegreenearth]

If I understand you correctly (which I may not as others here have pointed out I'm dense on certain subjects):
Morality is up to the individual. What's moral for one may or may not be for another. While morality has to come from 'somewhere' (that 'somewhere' is up for debate), what really matters is the individual's perception of what morality is.
Is it objective or subjective? I suppose that, like morality, is based on whom is asked and their definition (or lack of).
I feel like your comment adequately summarizes my point but there may be a nuance here and there that I might be misinterpreting. I'll have to wait for your next response to determine if you or I have definitely misinterpreted something or not.

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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #45

Post by 2ndRateMind »

[Replying to post 1 by bluegreenearth]

So, it seems to me the results of our varying moralities are inevitably objective. If I was an anti-semite, and thought it 'a good thing' to murder as many Jews as possible, then those murders would be objective outcomes. So, how can we say that our various moralities, which might lead to such results, are not similarly objective?

Best wishes, 2RM.
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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #46

Post by bluegreenearth »

2ndRateMind wrote: [Replying to post 1 by bluegreenearth]

So, it seems to me the results of our varying moralities are inevitably objective. If I was an anti-semite, and thought it 'a good thing' to murder as many Jews as possible, then those murders would be objective outcomes. So, how can we say that our various moralities, which might lead to such results, are not similarly objective?

Best wishes, 2RM.
I'm not understanding your comment. Maybe you could begin by providing your definition of the word "objective."

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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #47

Post by Divine Insight »

Mikronman wrote: "Don't murder" is an example of a moral precept that is functionally objective..
I disagree that this is "functionally objective".

What we have here is a human defined term. By definition murder is simply defined by humans to be wrong. So it's already a subjective definition. We can't view definitions as being a basis for an objective concept.

Also, as you note in your next paragraph, killing alone is not considered to be "murder". Killing is only murder when humans have subjectively decided that the killing was wrong.

So it misleading to look at human defined terms as somehow being "objective".

Just because we can write down words and terms and assign them definitions doesn't make them objective. In other words, writing down subjective opinions doesn't make them objective.

I hold that all ideas of right and wrong actions are human opinions. Sure, it's true that humans are a social species and therefore we are going to have a lot of common ideas about what we judge to be right or wrong. But I don't see where that makes those idea objective. They're still subjective ideas that are formed from the perspective of being a human.

So for me there's simply no question at all when it comes to the concept of morality. Morality is a construct of human opinions. That's what it is. We can argue that there are objective factors in play that cause humans to have a lot of similar moral opinions. But that doesn't make the concept or morality objective. It simply shows that humans are biased toward viewing concepts of right and wrong with human welfare as the basis. The only problem is that different humans have different subjective ideas of what actually constitutes the best choices for human welfare.

For example there have been many humans throughout history who have argued for killing off entire races or cultures of humans in favor of what they believe to benefit another race or culture that they consider to be "superior".

Unfortunately this subjective human view of morality is still alive today.
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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #48

Post by Menotu »

bluegreenearth wrote:
Menotu wrote: [Replying to post 1 by bluegreenearth]

If I understand you correctly (which I may not as others here have pointed out I'm dense on certain subjects):
Morality is up to the individual. What's moral for one may or may not be for another. While morality has to come from 'somewhere' (that 'somewhere' is up for debate), what really matters is the individual's perception of what morality is.
Is it objective or subjective? I suppose that, like morality, is based on whom is asked and their definition (or lack of).
I feel like your comment adequately summarizes my point but there may be a nuance here and there that I might be misinterpreting. I'll have to wait for your next response to determine if you or I have definitely misinterpreted something or not.
To what nuance do you refer? Maybe I missed it, but it seems we're basically on the same page?

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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #49

Post by 2ndRateMind »

[Replying to post 46 by bluegreenearth]

Hmmm. Subjective: subsisting only within the mind. Objective: subsisting both internally and externally to the mind, and capable of empirical validation.

Best wishes, 2RM.
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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

Post #50

Post by bluegreenearth »

Menotu wrote:
bluegreenearth wrote:
Menotu wrote: [Replying to post 1 by bluegreenearth]

If I understand you correctly (which I may not as others here have pointed out I'm dense on certain subjects):
Morality is up to the individual. What's moral for one may or may not be for another. While morality has to come from 'somewhere' (that 'somewhere' is up for debate), what really matters is the individual's perception of what morality is.
Is it objective or subjective? I suppose that, like morality, is based on whom is asked and their definition (or lack of).
I feel like your comment adequately summarizes my point but there may be a nuance here and there that I might be misinterpreting. I'll have to wait for your next response to determine if you or I have definitely misinterpreted something or not.
To what nuance do you refer? Maybe I missed it, but it seems we're basically on the same page?
I meant that it is possible I am misinterpreting something nuanced in your comment but am not sure. I didn't have anything in particular in mind. It is just my experience that sometimes I think someone is on the page with me until they follow-up with a response that goes in a completely different direction.

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