Trickle-Down Morality

Ethics, Morality, and Sin

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Purple Knight
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Trickle-Down Morality

Post #1

Post by Purple Knight »

People generally assume equality when it comes to moral questions: They assume that all [sentient]* entities are equal and that if one murders and it is wrong, then another one that murders is also wrong.

*probably add this, not entirely sure
TheGreatDebate wrote:I am just very curious as to why all the charges of “murderer,� “disgusting,� etc… are flying around. I assume you all are atheists? From what moral authority do you assign these terms from?
But this gem of a quote (referencing people calling the God of the Bible evil) I believe exposes the fact that underneath the surface, this is not the case.

If a government kills, for its own purposes, or to defend its ideology, it's war, not murder. If an individual person kills for these same reasons, it is.

I ask the question: Do you believe morality trickles down, or up, or in any other direction?

Or do you believe that higher moral authority equals more morally permissible actions?

Bonus question: If you're religious, and your answer was no, morality does not trickle down, how does this sit with the idea that one should imitate Jesus or some other figure? Wouldn't that mean that you definitely shouldn't try to do this, since [insert religious figure] had moral authority, and you don't, making the act you imitate potentially an evil one when you do it?

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Post #11

Post by Purple Knight »

The Tanager wrote:I don't see why. Regardless, I don't think one should assume either way.
I see nothing wrong with this since, to punish anyone, you have to be sure.

This way, when someone acts from the idea of moral inequity, doing some action that is permissible for him but impermissible for me, we must leave him alone.
The Tanager wrote:Why? Because of the vast number of numbers out there?
Yes. If we only know that they are two numbers, it is vastly more likely that they are different numbers.
The Tanager wrote:That people disagree morally is not the same thing as whether people should be held to the same standard or not.
Correct, and there is evidence that people should be held to different standards and that that's righteous.

The worst you can say is that the evidence is ad populum.

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Post #12

Post by The Tanager »

Purple Knight wrote:I see nothing wrong with this since, to punish anyone, you have to be sure.

This way, when someone acts from the idea of moral inequity, doing some action that is permissible for him but impermissible for me, we must leave him alone.
I may be misunderstanding you. Are you saying that, for example, we must leave the child abuser alone?
Purple Knight wrote:Yes. If we only know that they are two numbers, it is vastly more likely that they are different numbers.
Then why is this analogous to what we were talking about? We were talking about something two options: (1) there is one standard for all humans and (2) there is one standard for each human. Each one has a 50/50 chance, so why is (2) a "lesser assumption" than (1)?
Purple Knight wrote:Correct, and there is evidence that people should be held to different standards and that that's righteous.

The worst you can say is that the evidence is ad populum.
What evidence? That when people interact, they act like there is one standard that all should fall under, but then when they break it, they twist an understanding of the standard to include validating their specific action? Maybe I misunderstood what you said previously there about the double standard.

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Post #13

Post by mitty »

The Tanager wrote:
Purple Knight wrote:Do you believe morality trickles down, or up, or in any other direction?
Adstar wrote:What is moral trickling ?
Purple Knight wrote:If an act is wrong when one entity does it, so too would it be when done by another entity. The morality trickles freely from one to another.

...

Thus morality trickles down from one entity (such as God) to others. This is how we get morality to begin with according to the religious: God made it.
Morality does not 'trickle down' in this way according to the religious people I know. God's role as creator changes things. God making humans mortal is not evil, while me killing another human may very well be an instance of evil.
Purple Knight wrote:Or do you believe that higher moral authority equals more morally permissible actions?

Bonus question: If you're religious, and your answer was no, morality does not trickle down, how does this sit with the idea that one should imitate Jesus or some other figure? Wouldn't that mean that you definitely shouldn't try to do this, since [insert religious figure] had moral authority, and you don't, making the act you imitate potentially an evil one when you do it?
Jesus, in His humanity, has moral obligations to fulfill, such as not murdering someone in innocent blood. The same moral obligations God desires us to follow.
Biblical morality, however, is obviously just man-made including the ten commandments etc, given it wasn't morally wrong for Abraham to have a sexual relationship with his sister Sarah and commit adultery with Hagar or for Lot to sexually assault his daughters after he mocked their future husbands. Nor was it morally wrong for Abraham to kill his son as a blood sacrifice, or for Cain(an) to kill his brother Abel since he wasn't punished and his god even protected him from retribution when he relocated to Nod and lived happily ever after with one of the Nod girls (Gen 4).

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Post #14

Post by Purple Knight »

The Tanager wrote:I may be misunderstanding you. Are you saying that, for example, we must leave the child abuser alone?
Yes. Even in your own estimation, there's only a 50% chance that he's guilty, and that's if he's 100% certain to have engaged in the act of child abuse.

We simply can't know that he's bound by the same morality as we are.
The Tanager wrote:Then why is this analogous to what we were talking about? We were talking about something two options: (1) there is one standard for all humans and (2) there is one standard for each human. Each one has a 50/50 chance, so why is (2) a "lesser assumption" than (1)?
There are infinite sets of permissible and impermissible actions.

For example, murder may be impermissible and child abuse also impermissible. Or both could be permissible, or just one, or just the other. That's four options, and we've only looked at two things.

Two people only have a 1/4 chance of being bound by the same one, or a 1/16 chance to be bound by the same specific one (that both murder and child abuse are impermissible, for instance).
The Tanager wrote:What evidence? That when people interact, they act like there is one standard that all should fall under, but then when they break it, they twist an understanding of the standard to include validating their specific action? Maybe I misunderstood what you said previously there about the double standard.
The evidence that punching a Nazi is permissible but punching someone else is impermissible.

https://theestablishment.co/why-punchin ... index.html

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Post #15

Post by The Tanager »

[Replying to post 13 by mitty]

I think you greatly misunderstand the Biblical picture in those regards, but let's assume you are correct. That doesn't negate anything I've said. Start another thread if you want to have that discussion with me. It's a discussion all Christians should think through, so I'm not saying it's a bad discussion. It's just not the one I have had here.

What I said here was that if God is the source of morality, it doesn't trickle down in the sense Purple Knight used that term because the role of being a creator changes things. I also said that as a human, Jesus would have moral obligations to fill, and thus would be an example for other humans to follow.

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Post #16

Post by The Tanager »

Purple Knight wrote:Yes. Even in your own estimation, there's only a 50% chance that he's guilty, and that's if he's 100% certain to have engaged in the act of child abuse.

We simply can't know that he's bound by the same morality as we are.
If we are only looking at logical possibilities, then there is a 50% chance he's guilty. I think moral objectivism makes better sense of reality than moral subjectivism, which would change the probability.

But let's work off of skepticism there. We can't know for sure whether he's bound by the same morality we are. Okay, but I'm bound by my subjective morality not his subjective morality, which tells me to stop the child abuser.

Or if you are talking about the uncertainty of even our own subjective morality, then we do the best we can. Nothing outside of pure mathematics gets us certainty.
Purple Knight wrote:There are infinite sets of permissible and impermissible actions.

For example, murder may be impermissible and child abuse also impermissible. Or both could be permissible, or just one, or just the other. That's four options, and we've only looked at two things.

Two people only have a 1/4 chance of being bound by the same one, or a 1/16 chance to be bound by the same specific one (that both murder and child abuse are impermissible, for instance).
That just begs the question. If there are different standards, then those are the probabilities broken down at that level. But if there is one standard for all, then the chance is 1/1. Your arrangement treats a secondary question after the 50/50 logical chance for the question of objectivism vs. subjectivism. You can't assume subjectivism is true as part of an argument that subjectivism is true.
Purple Knight wrote:The evidence that punching a Nazi is permissible but punching someone else is impermissible.

https://theestablishment.co/why-punchin ... -imperativ...
From the title*, this seems to speak to moral situationalism versus moral absolutism. It doesn't speak to objectivism versus subjectivism, which is what I've been talking about. I don't think you are arguing for moral objective situationalism.

* - If I got the thrust of the article wrong from the title, I apologize. I do not read linked to articles, except on rare occassions. I want to hear one make their case. Articles aren't written in direct response to the questions and points of my posts most of the time, so one should do the work for their conversations. Do it for your own benefit, to avoid being misunderstood on how the article applies. Do it as a service to your conversation partner, so that they don't have to fish for what you may be trying to say.

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Post #17

Post by Purple Knight »

The Tanager wrote:But let's work off of skepticism there. We can't know for sure whether he's bound by the same morality we are. Okay, but I'm bound by my subjective morality not his subjective morality, which tells me to stop the child abuser.
Correct. You're doing nothing wrong (because I can't prove you are) but you're also punishing someone who's done nothing wrong.

I know I can't punish someone who's done nothing wrong, but I have no idea whether you can or not. Yes, it does naturally extend to that level.
The Tanager wrote:That just begs the question. If there are different standards, then those are the probabilities broken down at that level. But if there is one standard for all, then the chance is 1/1. Your arrangement treats a secondary question after the 50/50 logical chance for the question of objectivism vs. subjectivism. You can't assume subjectivism is true as part of an argument that subjectivism is true.
I'm not assuming subjectivism is true. People all being bound by the same standard is one of infinite possibilities. If there's a good reason to assume it's more likely than any of the other infinite possibilities, I haven't found one.

Pennies flip independently. The second one coming up heads is not a secondary question. The probability is 1/2, just as it was for the first. The assumption is on your side as much as mine: Pennies don't flip independently, and a box of all heads is 50% likely, whereas a mixed box of any sort is the other 50%.

Granted though, we have no idea whether they flip independently or not. They might. I see it as one of infinite possibilities, you see it as 50% likely. And neither of us has any basis to assume one over the other.
The Tanager wrote:From the title*, this seems to speak to moral situationalism versus moral absolutism. It doesn't speak to objectivism versus subjectivism, which is what I've been talking about. I don't think you are arguing for moral objective situationalism.
No, I'm arguing for moral absolutism with differing standards for different people. Each person is still bound by whatever standard applies to them. The article is simply evidence that supports my conclusion because it is a moral authority who argues that punching a Nazi is right.

I frankly don't care why he thinks he's right; he can only actually be right if the moral status of a Nazi is not the same as the moral status of a black supremacist. This can only be true if there are different standards for different people.

I don't expect you to read the article except perhaps a cursory glance to make sure that the writer did really agree that punching Nazis is permissible and I haven't mistaken his position.

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Post #18

Post by The Tanager »

Purple Knight wrote:Correct. You're doing nothing wrong (because I can't prove you are) but you're also punishing someone who's done nothing wrong.
First, whether I'm doing something wrong or not does not depend on whether one can prove it so. What we should do in the lack of certainty, or what level of certainty is needed to act is another question.

Second, I would be punishing someone who's done nothing wrong only if you are right that there are different standards for different humans. So, obviously, this can't be an argument for there being different standards for different humans. Perhaps I've missed why you have shared this thought? Is it that you think I don't understand the view you are talking about? Something else?
Purple Knight wrote:I'm not assuming subjectivism is true. People all being bound by the same standard is one of infinite possibilities. If there's a good reason to assume it's more likely than any of the other infinite possibilities, I haven't found one.
There aren't infinite possibilities. These are the three logical possibilities I see: (1) all bound by the same standard, (2) various groups bound by different standards (however many there are), or (3) none are bound by any standard. Considering nothing else, each of these has a 1 in 3 chance of being true.
Purple Knight wrote:Granted though, we have no idea whether they flip independently or not. They might. I see it as one of infinite possibilities, you see it as 50% likely. And neither of us has any basis to assume one over the other.
They either flip independently or they don't. That's two possibilities, not an infinite amount of possibilities.
Purple Knight wrote:No, I'm arguing for moral absolutism with differing standards for different people. Each person is still bound by whatever standard applies to them. The article is simply evidence that supports my conclusion because it is a moral authority who argues that punching a Nazi is right.

I frankly don't care why he thinks he's right; he can only actually be right if the moral status of a Nazi is not the same as the moral status of a black supremacist. This can only be true if there are different standards for different people.

I don't expect you to read the article except perhaps a cursory glance to make sure that the writer did really agree that punching Nazis is permissible and I haven't mistaken his position.
Let's make sure we mean the same things with the terms being used. The moral situations above are:

(a) Should you punch a Nazi?
(b) Should you punch a black supremacist?

Whether the article says there is a difference or not, I realize people will make such a distinction between the two, saying it is okay to punch one but not the other.

Are you saying all of the following?:

(1) Person 1 is morally obligated to punch the Nazi but should not punch the black supremacist
(2) Person 2 is morally obligated to punch the black supremacist but should not punch the Nazi
(3) Person 3 is morally obligated to punch both types of people
(4) Person 4 is morally obligated to punch neither type of people

Or what are you arguing for?

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Post #19

Post by Purple Knight »

The Tanager wrote:First, whether I'm doing something wrong or not does not depend on whether one can prove it so. What we should do in the lack of certainty, or what level of certainty is needed to act is another question.
I was going off the general assumption that people are innocent until proven guilty, and I probably shouldn't go about punishing people without high certainty that they've done something wrong.
The Tanager wrote:Second, I would be punishing someone who's done nothing wrong only if you are right that there are different standards for different humans. So, obviously, this can't be an argument for there being different standards for different humans.
It wasn't meant to be an argument for differing standards. I simply pointed out that because I can't punish without certainty, and there might be differing standards, I cannot punish anyone.
The Tanager wrote:There aren't infinite possibilities. These are the three logical possibilities I see: (1) all bound by the same standard, (2) various groups bound by different standards (however many there are), or (3) none are bound by any standard. Considering nothing else, each of these has a 1 in 3 chance of being true.

They either flip independently or they don't. That's two possibilities, not an infinite amount of possibilities.
(3) is a subset of (1), if you want to order things like that. It demonstrates that when evidence for correlation is absent, independence should be assumed. In other words, each possibility is its own possibility, equally likely unless we have a good reason to believe it isn't.

Since (2) is composed of infinite possibilities, the whole set is.

The idea that pennies will somehow affect the flips of other pennies is the assumption. The idea that they won't is a nul assumption, which should be the default, but of course be discarded in the face of evidence.

Some people seem to assume everyone is bound by the same standard - that raping a child would be wrong for Bob if it's wrong for me - but there's a bizarre lack of evidence for this premise, often treated like an axiom.
The Tanager wrote:Let's make sure we mean the same things with the terms being used. The moral situations above are:

(a) Should you punch a Nazi?
(b) Should you punch a black supremacist?
(a) yes, you may (permissible)
(b) no, you may not (impermissible)
The Tanager wrote:Are you saying all of the following?:

(1) Person 1 is morally obligated to punch the Nazi but should not punch the black supremacist
(2) Person 2 is morally obligated to punch the black supremacist but should not punch the Nazi
(3) Person 3 is morally obligated to punch both types of people
(4) Person 4 is morally obligated to punch neither type of people

Or what are you arguing for?
I don't think there happens to be any moral obligation, only permissibility. So none of those. But cross out the is morally obligated for may, and I think (1) and (4) exist. I'm fairly confident that (2) does not exist in our universe, and I can't say whether (3) does or not. There is no argument for any of this, only direct evidence.

What I am claiming is that the moral standard changes depending upon the people involved; that to me it is fundamentally illogical, but here's how it plays out.

A. You may never punch a black supremacist for his ideology because it is always unacceptable to punch people for their ideology. No matter how horrible we find out the black supremacist's ideology is (even if he thinks eating white babies is permissible) he may never be punished for his beliefs, only his actions, because punishing people for beliefs is absolutely unacceptable at all times.
B. You may punch a Nazi for his ideology because it is acceptable to punch people for bad ideologies. The Nazi may be punished for beliefs, not just actions, because if an ideology is sufficiently bad, it is acceptable to punish for ideology and not just actions. Even if the Nazi just thinks white people > black people, and has no belief that harm to others is acceptable, he may still be punished.

...Both A and B are true. The axiom will shift depending on the situation, but it will still be an axiom. To me this is illogical but this does seem to be how it works.

The standard has changed because of the person being punched, not the puncher. There may be people who are allowed to punch black supremacists; I wouldn't know.

But there are probably people who may not punch the Nazi, namely other Nazis, those on the alt-right, or even possibly conservatives. What I would conjecture based on the evidence is that these others are not morally high enough over the Nazi to punch him.

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Post #20

Post by The Tanager »

Purple Knight wrote:I was going off the general assumption that people are innocent until proven guilty, and I probably shouldn't go about punishing people without high certainty that they've done something wrong.
So, what do you say is the level of certainty needed? How do you judge that?
Purple Knight wrote:Since (2) is composed of infinite possibilities, the whole set is.
But we are talking about possible answers to a specific question, however you want to formulate that. So, if you want to phrase the question as: how many different standards are there?, then what are the possible answers to that question?

(1) There is no standard.
(2) There is one standard.
(3) There are as many standards as people.
(4) There are as many standards as cultures.
(5) There is one standard for every two people.
(6) There is one standard for every three people.
.
.
.
etc.

Each of those answers is just as likely as the other (without considering anything beyond logical possibility), even if there are an infinite possibility of answers available.

-----

If we phrase the question the way I have: are there different standards?, there are only two logically possible answers to that question. The variety of how they could be different does not put more probabilistic weight behind "there are different standards" versus "there are not different standards."
Purple Knight wrote:The idea that pennies will somehow affect the flips of other pennies is the assumption. The idea that they won't is a nul assumption, which should be the default, but of course be discarded in the face of evidence.
Why should that be the default?
Purple Knight wrote:What I am claiming is that the moral standard changes depending upon the people involved; that to me it is fundamentally illogical, but here's how it plays out.

A. You may never punch a black supremacist for his ideology because it is always unacceptable to punch people for their ideology. No matter how horrible we find out the black supremacist's ideology is (even if he thinks eating white babies is permissible) he may never be punished for his beliefs, only his actions, because punishing people for beliefs is absolutely unacceptable at all times.
B. You may punch a Nazi for his ideology because it is acceptable to punch people for bad ideologies. The Nazi may be punished for beliefs, not just actions, because if an ideology is sufficiently bad, it is acceptable to punish for ideology and not just actions. Even if the Nazi just thinks white people > black people, and has no belief that harm to others is acceptable, he may still be punished.

...Both A and B are true. The axiom will shift depending on the situation, but it will still be an axiom. To me this is illogical but this does seem to be how it works.

The standard has changed because of the person being punched, not the puncher. There may be people who are allowed to punch black supremacists; I wouldn't know.
A and B are logically inconsistent, so they can't both be true. People could hold irrational beliefs together, sure, but that doesn't say much to our discussion. In this scenario, if one were confronted with these two groups, they would not word the standards in the way you do above (assuming the can think rationally). They would say that you can punch anyone that holds a "bad ideology" or that there is some other factor that allows one to punch the bad Nazi idealogue but not the bad black supremacist idealogue (perhaps the violence incited, perhaps one's personal emotional response, perhaps something else). Regardless, how do you see this scenario supporting your claim here? I'm missing something.

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