Does Objective Morality Require the Existence of God?

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Does Objective Morality Require the Existence of God?

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Post by wiploc »

The Peanut Gallery is here:
viewtopic.php?t=33976

Those who wish to comment on this discussion may do so there. Once this thread is closed, Tanager and wiploc may post there too. In the meantime, we may respond here to comments made there.

Topic: Does Objective Morality Require the Existence of God?

Tanager's position -- if I understand it -- is that objective morality is possible if a god exists, but not possible otherwise.

My own position is this prejudice: If objective morality is possible with a god, then it is also possible without a god; if it is not possible without a god, then it is also not possible with a god.

I invite Tanager to expound on his position.

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Post #41

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wiploc wrote:I don't understand what, "objective in relation to," means. Are you saying that something can be objective to you and subjective to me? I don't know what you're saying here, and, because it keeps coming up, it seems to be key.
The statement "the Tanager says the Cubs should be everyone's favorite baseball team" is objectively true to you, but is dependent upon my feelings and, therefore, subjective to me. In the same way, if God is the standard of goodness, a statement like "It is wrong for a human to rape another human" is based upon the subjective nature of God, but still objective to humanity (since it's not based on our personal feelings).

In answering this, I've thought about how to better clarify my critique of your view as well. The statement "generally, the net-happiness of the human world is decreased when a rape occurs" is an objective statement, but this isn't the statement your morality is based upon. You moral view on rape being wrong for humans is based upon the statement "we ought to avoid decreasing the net-happiness of the human world." And that statement is subjectively true; some humans think it, some don't.
wiploc wrote:I don't know where the ought comes from in your system. Is it magic? Do gods magically put moral obligations on us? What is it about being intended by a scorpion god to behave in a certain manner causes us to actually ought to behave in that manner?
Where does the ought come from in our legal system? Why am I obligated to follow all of these laws? Because the government has authority over me. The next question is whether it has the right to have authority over me or not. I think the relationship of Creator-creature provides a rightful claim of authority. The creator gives life to the creature, has a purpose in making them the way it did, and sustains them in continued existence. It is wrong to rape another human because that human is the creator's treasured possession.
wiploc wrote:Plantinga agrees with you. But if we lose freewill in a god-made goodworld, then we also lose it in a god-made badworld. And if we have freewill in a god-made badworld, then we also have it in a god-made goodworld.

A benevolent god would choose a goodworld without free will over a badworld without free will. And he would also choose a goodworld with free will over a badworld with free will. So, either way, he wouldn't create this would.
We may need some clarity on these terms. What is a goodworld? What is a badworld?
wiploc wrote:If god knows at the beginning everything that will ever happen in every possible world, and--knowing that--he creates one of those worlds, I don't see how that meaningfully interferes with free will. But if it did, it would interfere equally in good worlds and bad.

To make it simple, let's have a world with only one decision: In this world, two people pop into existence at the beginning of time, and one of them gets to decide whether to be nice or mean to the other one. And then, before anything else can happen, the world ends.

So, only one decision ever.

In World1, Joe decides to be nice to Sara.

In World2, Joe decides to be mean to Sara.
I've quoted this so that we can maintain the context, but I'm going to respond to your two points about this in the reverse order.
wiploc wrote:First, and irrelevantly, I don't like that argument. I think that kind of free will is worthless. I wouldn't give a penny for it. If I could cure cancer at the price of having gods know I was going to do so in advance, I wouldn't hesitate for a microsecond. What possible benefit could the ignorance of gods be to me? I still get to do what I want; they just know what that is going to be.
We may be agreeing here. I don't think knowledge of something has anything to do with one's free will. Knowing Joe does X does not mean you caused Joe to do X.
wiploc wrote:If, by creating the world while having foreknowledge, god denies free will in one case, then he also denies it in the other. And if he doesn't deny free will by creating World2, then he also doesn't deny it by creating World1.
And we seem to agree in principle here. I don't think a creator who allows free will can actualize either World1 or World2 as you've stated them, because either would rob Joe of free will. Both worlds have trees, rivers, Sara, etc. All of that is the same. The only difference between those two worlds is Joe's decision. And, so, the creator determines Joe's decision by choosing one world over the other.

I think this is a more accurate picture of the worlds actualizable by a creator:

In World1, Joe has free will to decide to either be nice or mean to Sara.
In World2, Joe is determined by the creator to decide to be nice to Sara.
In World3, Joe is determined by the creator to decide to be mean to Sara.

If the creator actualizes World1, we then branch into two more possible worlds as a result of the free agency exercised by Joe:

In World1a, Joe exercises his free will and decides to be nice to Sara.
In World1b, Joe exercises his free will and decides to be mean to Sara.

The creator who gives free will can choose to make World1, but cannot choose to make World1a over World1b (or vice versa).

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Post #42

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The Tanager wrote:
wiploc wrote:I don't understand what, "objective in relation to," means. Are you saying that something can be objective to you and subjective to me? I don't know what you're saying here, and, because it keeps coming up, it seems to be key.
The statement "the Tanager says the Cubs should be everyone's favorite baseball team" is objectively true to you, but is dependent upon my feelings and, therefore, subjective to me.
I'll stipulate for the sake of argument that you do say that. So it's a fact, just a regular fact, which is as objective as anything can be.

If we change the statement to, "The Tanager believes the Cubs should be everyone's favorite baseball team," then--if you actually do believe that--that too is an objective statement. Not objective to me or you, but just objective. A fact.

Now, suppose we change the statement to, "The Cubs should be everyone's favorite baseball team," that's subjective. It isn't a fact. It isn't true or false. It is not truth apt. It is a viewpoint or attitude, not a truth.


In the same way, if God is the standard of goodness, a statement like "It is wrong for a human to rape another human" is based upon the subjective nature of God, but still objective to humanity (since it's not based on our personal feelings).
I could say that you ought to punch the person on your left, and that command would be "objective to you" because I'm not you, I'm outside of you, I'm "far away," so my orders are objective?

And you would call that "objective to you" but "subjective to me." Which is pretty weird, given that I don't believe it myself.


In answering this, I've thought about how to better clarify my critique of your view as well. The statement "generally, the net-happiness of the human world is decreased when a rape occurs" is an objective statement, but this isn't the statement your morality is based upon. You moral view on rape being wrong for humans is based upon the statement "we ought to avoid decreasing the net-happiness of the human world." And that statement is subjectively true; some humans think it, some don't.
By that test, your morality based on following god is subjective, given that some humans agree with it and some don't.


wiploc wrote:I don't know where the ought comes from in your system. Is it magic? Do gods magically put moral obligations on us? What is it about being intended by a scorpion god to behave in a certain manner causes us to actually ought to behave in that manner?
Where does the ought come from in our legal system? Why am I obligated to follow all of these laws? Because the government has authority over me. The next question is whether it has the right to have authority over me or not.
I'm not sure it's important to get into this, so I'll just demur and move on.


I think the relationship of Creator-creature provides a rightful claim of authority.
Why? How? Why should anybody agree with you? Isn't--according to your test--this claim subjective since other humans disagree with it?

I keep expecting you to make the analogy about the potter owning his pots. Then I could ask whether I would own people if I created people. Then you could say that my analogy isn't apt since god created us from nothing, and I didn't create my people from nothing. Then I could point out that you are the one with the inapt analogy since the potter didn't create from nothing either.

But you don't go there. You don't give any reason, no reason for anyone to agree with you. There's no, "My claim is probably true because creators have moral authority over the created in 87% of known created universes," or, "It would a good rule for creators to have authority. It wouldn't work out in worlds made by scorpion gods, but that's their tough luck. We can see, based on logic, that it would work out for the best in most created universes."

On that last one, of course, I would ask how that logic works. But you haven't given any justification at all, so there's nothing for me to ask.

And there's also no reason for anybody to agree with you. You think created people should obey creators. That's a personal whim. You can't get more subjective than that.


The creator gives life to the creature, has a purpose in making them the way it did, and sustains them in continued existence. It is wrong to rape another human because that human is the creator's treasured possession.
So there would be nothing wrong with killing the scorpion god's people, given that he doesn't treasure them? That seems so arbitrary, pointless, and amoral.


wiploc wrote:Plantinga agrees with you. But if we lose freewill in a god-made goodworld, then we also lose it in a god-made badworld. And if we have freewill in a god-made badworld, then we also have it in a god-made goodworld.

A benevolent god would choose a goodworld without free will over a badworld without free will. And he would also choose a goodworld with free will over a badworld with free will. So, either way, he wouldn't create this would.
We may need some clarity on these terms. What is a goodworld? What is a badworld?
Good question. Those terms are detritus from a different discussion in which all unhappiness was supposed to result from bad decisions. Thus, a goodworld was one in which nobody ever made a bad decision, and therefore nobody was ever unhappy. A "bad" decision, in that discussion, would have been a sinful one.

What should a goodworld be in this discussion? Whatever it is that you think is incompatible with free will. If, in our one-decision world, Joe is nice to Sara, then that is a goodworld.

You aren't tying happiness to good decisions, so we can leave the happiness part out of it. A goodworld is one in which nobody ever makes an immoral decision.


wiploc wrote:If god knows at the beginning everything that will ever happen in every possible world, and--knowing that--he creates one of those worlds, I don't see how that meaningfully interferes with free will. But if it did, it would interfere equally in good worlds and bad.

To make it simple, let's have a world with only one decision: In this world, two people pop into existence at the beginning of time, and one of them gets to decide whether to be nice or mean to the other one. And then, before anything else can happen, the world ends.

So, only one decision ever.

In World1, Joe decides to be nice to Sara.

In World2, Joe decides to be mean to Sara.
I've quoted this so that we can maintain the context, but I'm going to respond to your two points about this in the reverse order.
wiploc wrote:First, and irrelevantly, I don't like that argument. I think that kind of free will is worthless. I wouldn't give a penny for it. If I could cure cancer at the price of having gods know I was going to do so in advance, I wouldn't hesitate for a microsecond. What possible benefit could the ignorance of gods be to me? I still get to do what I want; they just know what that is going to be.
We may be agreeing here. I don't think knowledge of something has anything to do with one's free will. Knowing Joe does X does not mean you caused Joe to do X.
wiploc wrote:If, by creating the world while having foreknowledge, god denies free will in one case, then he also denies it in the other. And if he doesn't deny free will by creating World2, then he also doesn't deny it by creating World1.
And we seem to agree in principle here. I don't think a creator who allows free will can actualize either World1 or World2 as you've stated them, because either would rob Joe of free will. Both worlds have trees, rivers, Sara, etc. All of that is the same. The only difference between those two worlds is Joe's decision. And, so, the creator determines Joe's decision by choosing one world over the other.
But you just said that god's knowing what Joe will do does not rob Joe of free will. So god could create a world in which he knows Joe will be nice to Sara, and Joe would still have free will.


I think this is a more accurate picture of the worlds actualizable by a creator:

In World1, Joe has free will to decide to either be nice or mean to Sara.
In World2, Joe is determined by the creator to decide to be nice to Sara.
In World3, Joe is determined by the creator to decide to be mean to Sara.
If Joe has free will, he has to decide in all of those worlds. If god has foreknowledge, he knows which is World2 and which is World3, and there is no World1 in which Joe's decision is undetermined.


If the creator actualizes World1, we then branch into two more possible worlds as a result of the free agency exercised by Joe:

In World1a, Joe exercises his free will and decides to be nice to Sara.
In World1b, Joe exercises his free will and decides to be mean to Sara.

The creator who gives free will can choose to make World1, but cannot choose to make World1a over World1b (or vice versa).
If he knows the future of every world, and he elects to create one of those worlds, then he is in fact able to create those worlds. If that denies us free will, then we have no free will in any god-made world.

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Post #43

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wiploc wrote:I could say that you ought to punch the person on your left, and that command would be "objective to you" because I'm not you, I'm outside of you, I'm "far away," so my orders are objective?

And you would call that "objective to you" but "subjective to me." Which is pretty weird, given that I don't believe it myself.
So, the moral statement is: "X ought to punch the person on X's left." The context of why we are talking about this is that I'm saying goodness for humans is dependent upon the Creator's desires. Analogies are only as good as how closely they resemble the original view under critique, so we would need to say that the moral statement above is true for X because of the desires of Y.

So, we ask X the question, "Why is the moral statement above true?" Because of the desires of Y. X's standard for claiming the moral value of that statement is true is something independent from his own feelings, desires, etc., i.e., it's objective.

Now we ask Y the same question: "Why is the moral statement above true?" Y doesn't appeal to anything outside of itself. Y's standard for claiming the moral value of that statement is true is based on its own desires, i.e., it's subjective. We would, of course, ask why Y gets to decide and whether this is binding on others. I feel the Creator-creature relationship is what provides the authority for Y.
wiploc wrote:Why? How? Why should anybody agree with you? Isn't--according to your test--this claim subjective since other humans disagree with it?
I think you've misunderstood. You feel that "we ought to avoid decreasing the net-happiness of the world." Other people feel "we ought to seek our own happiness above all else." You have offered no reason for a third party to choose your feeling over the other person's feeling. Well, the reason you offered was "if they want to be moral," but this begs the question or defines 'moral' as a subjective term.

In my understanding of the world, some people feel "we ought to obey a supposed God" and some people feel "we ought not to obey this supposed God." I'm saying that both feelings are irrelevant. There is a different reason than human feelings that we are obligated to obey this supposed God.
wiploc wrote:But you don't go there. You don't give any reason, no reason for anyone to agree with you. There's no, "My claim is probably true because creators have moral authority over the created in 87% of known created universes," or, "It would a good rule for creators to have authority. It wouldn't work out in worlds made by scorpion gods, but that's their tough luck. We can see, based on logic, that it would work out for the best in most created universes."

On that last one, of course, I would ask how that logic works. But you haven't given any justification at all, so there's nothing for me to ask.

And there's also no reason for anybody to agree with you. You think created people should obey creators. That's a personal whim. You can't get more subjective than that.
I want to make sure that we are not conflating two issues here. One, whether creatures owe their creator anything. Two, why a creature should want to fulfill that obligation. On both of these issues, I am not saying you should be obligated or motivated because I think created people should obey creators. Either creators have authority over their creations and possessions or they don't. It doesn't matter whether I think that is true or not. Just like it doesn't matter whether I think the Earth is round or not. If creators do, then you are obligated to obey, but may be motivated to disobey and face the consequences. Just like any other kind of obligations we have in our society.

I think a creator's giving life to something, having a specific purpose in mind and making it so those things continue to exist is the reason that creators have the right to give their creatures obligations. The potter has a right to do with the pots what she wants (unless, of course, she is also under restrictive obligations from a higher standard to her). It doesn't matter if she wants to break those pots or display them in an art show or whatever.

But there is a separate question concerning whether the creature would want to fulfill the obligations placed upon it. Your scorpion god scenario makes humans with desires that go against its obligations. Such a god can place an obligation on its creatures, but it either isn't smart (because the creatures won't be motivated to obey), isn't into free will (making sure the creatures will obey) or enjoys tortured creatures (because not only will they be destroyed, they will hate every moment of it).

My view of God is that God created humans with desires that match our obligations. Not only do we have an objective obligation to follow this supposed God, but that we should also want to do so, because this supposed God has our best intentions in mind in giving us these obligations. That is why I've said at times that I'm a divine utilitarian. Scorpion god is not an utilitarian. It is an ethical egoist. My view shows God to be a kind of utilitarian. God is able to be an objective standard that overrides individual human feelings and show some to be right and some to be wrong.
wiploc wrote:So there would be nothing wrong with killing the scorpion god's people, given that he doesn't treasure them? That seems so arbitrary, pointless, and amoral.
The objective wrongness would depend on what the scorpion god commanded. If it commanded killing people to be okay, then it would be objectively 'good' to kill people. If a sea turtle commanded killing people to be okay, then it would be a subjective moral statement perhaps, but the creator offering that command makes it an objective morality or obligation.

If humans have the same thoughts we currently have, then we would disagree with this objective standard, but that doesn't mean it isn't the objective standard. And, again, what do you mean by 'arbitrary'? It isn't random because it is based on scorpion god's nature. Whether it is pointless depends on why the scorpion god commanded that particular reason. If it's because it doesn't treasure them, that is the point. Scorpion god wants them to suffer.

It is amoral. The standard of goodness itself is always going to be amoral, because it has no standard above it keeping it to its duty. This is the same for me and you. It's the same for objective and subjective morality. Your feeling that "one ought to seek the net-happiness of the world" is not complying or disobeying from some higher moral law (in your view); it is amoral.
wiploc wrote:
I think this is a more accurate picture of the worlds actualizable by a creator:

In World1, Joe has free will to decide to either be nice or mean to Sara.
In World2, Joe is determined by the creator to decide to be nice to Sara.
In World3, Joe is determined by the creator to decide to be mean to Sara.
If Joe has free will, he has to decide in all of those worlds. If god has foreknowledge, he knows which is World2 and which is World3, and there is no World1 in which Joe's decision is undetermined.
Joe does not have free will in World2 or World3 by definition because his decision is determined by another. Having free will means not having your decision determined by something else. It is logical nonsense to say Joe has free will in either of those worlds on par with saying Joe is a married bachelor. A world only full of a married bachelor is not a possible world.

God's knowledge has nothing to do with agency in any of these worlds. God knows God will choose Joe's decision in World2 and World3. God knows what Joe will decide in World1, but doesn't determine that decision.
wiploc wrote:If he knows the future of every world, and he elects to create one of those worlds, then he is in fact able to create those worlds. If that denies us free will, then we have no free will in any god-made world.
God cannot create a square circle. It is logical nonsense. God choosing World1a over World1b (i.e., choosing that Joe's decision will be to be nice to Sara) is logically incompatible with God giving Joe free will. God can't give Joe free will AND determine Joe's decision. That is logical nonsense.

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Post #44

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The Tanager wrote:
wiploc wrote:I could say that you ought to punch the person on your left, and that command would be "objective to you" because I'm not you, I'm outside of you, I'm "far away," so my orders are objective?

And you would call that "objective to you" but "subjective to me." Which is pretty weird, given that I don't believe it myself.
So, the moral statement is: "X ought to punch the person on X's left." The context of why we are talking about this is that I'm saying goodness for humans is dependent upon the Creator's desires. Analogies are only as good as how closely they resemble the original view under critique, so we would need to say that the moral statement above is true for X because of the desires of Y.

So, we ask X the question, "Why is the moral statement above true?" Because of the desires of Y. X's standard for claiming the moral value of that statement is true is something independent from his own feelings, desires, etc., i.e., it's objective.

Now we ask Y the same question: "Why is the moral statement above true?" Y doesn't appeal to anything outside of itself. Y's standard for claiming the moral value of that statement is true is based on its own desires, i.e., it's subjective. We would, of course, ask why Y gets to decide and whether this is binding on others. I feel the Creator-creature relationship is what provides the authority for Y.
So objectivity just requires someone else's subjective desire. If you ought to be nice because of my desire, and I ought to be nice because of your desire, that would--according to your test--be objective.


wiploc wrote:Why? How? Why should anybody agree with you? Isn't--according to your test--this claim subjective since other humans disagree with it?
I think you've misunderstood. You feel that "we ought to avoid decreasing the net-happiness of the world." Other people feel "we ought to seek our own happiness above all else." You have offered no reason for a third party to choose your feeling over the other person's feeling.
I have offered no reason? You think we are all moral slaves of a creator because you feel that the creator/creature relationship somehow results in that. You don't give a reason other than your subjective feeling.

But when I point out the objective fact that people are, overall, happier when they are nice to each other, that is dismissed as subjective, as no reason.


Well, the reason you offered was "if they want to be moral," but this begs the question or defines 'moral' as a subjective term.

In my understanding of the world, some people feel "we ought to obey a supposed God" and some people feel "we ought not to obey this supposed God." I'm saying that both feelings are irrelevant. There is a different reason than human feelings that we are obligated to obey this supposed God.
What is that reason?


wiploc wrote:But you don't go there. You don't give any reason, no reason for anyone to agree with you. There's no, "My claim is probably true because creators have moral authority over the created in 87% of known created universes," or, "It would a good rule for creators to have authority. It wouldn't work out in worlds made by scorpion gods, but that's their tough luck. We can see, based on logic, that it would work out for the best in most created universes."

On that last one, of course, I would ask how that logic works. But you haven't given any justification at all, so there's nothing for me to ask.

And there's also no reason for anybody to agree with you. You think created people should obey creators. That's a personal whim. You can't get more subjective than that.
I want to make sure that we are not conflating two issues here. One, whether creatures owe their creator anything. Two, why a creature should want to fulfill that obligation. On both of these issues, I am not saying you should be obligated or motivated because I think created people should obey creators. Either creators have authority over their creations and possessions or they don't. It doesn't matter whether I think that is true or not. Just like it doesn't matter whether I think the Earth is round or not. If creators do, then you are obligated to obey, but may be motivated to disobey and face the consequences. Just like any other kind of obligations we have in our society.
Okay, you win. I have to concede this particular point: If we're separating what we want from what we ought, then sociopaths ought to be nice to people regardless of whether they want people to be happy.

The rule exists independent of who wants to comply.


I think a creator's giving life to something, having a specific purpose in mind and making it so those things continue to exist is the reason that creators have the right to give their creatures obligations.
How does that work?


The potter has a right to do with the pots what she wants (unless, of course, she is also under restrictive obligations from a higher standard to her). It doesn't matter if she wants to break those pots or display them in an art show or whatever.
Are you watching Westworld? Do you believe the hosts are morally obligated to let humans rape and murder them over and over? The created must always obey the creator regardless of consequences?

Why is that? What good is that rule? What is the appeal? But you don't care about appeal, right? You want to keep that separate? All of our moral instincts, then, are irrelevant unless we just happen to have a creator who just happens to be utilitarian? There is nothing wrong with rape and murder and lying and treachery, and every kind of viciousness except insofar as they happen to be opposed by a creator?

No behavior, fundamentally, is better or worse than any other behavior? Everything depends on which god created your world. This is really the theistic viewpoint?



But there is a separate question concerning whether the creature would want to fulfill the obligations placed upon it. Your scorpion god scenario makes humans with desires that go against its obligations. Such a god can place an obligation on its creatures, but it either isn't smart (because the creatures won't be motivated to obey),
Hey, the heart wants what it wants. I don't insult your god for being too dumb to defeat iron chariots despite having all the power in the world.

And anyway, the scorpion god likes that it's creatures try to get away, that they try to avoid the inevitable suffering. That's what makes it fun for him. He's like the man in black in Westworld, who told his rape victim that he enjoys it more when she tries to fight back.


isn't into free will (making sure the creatures will obey)
They have a choice. I just see no reason for them to go along with the scorpion god's perverted desires. And you can't give me any reason, aside from your personal perception that creators have authority over creatures.


or enjoys tortured creatures (because not only will they be destroyed, they will hate every moment of it).
There you go; that's the scorpion god. And by your moral standards, that's okay. There is no higher duty than struggling vainly to avoid a terrible death and then suffering that death anyway.


My view of God is that God created humans with desires that match our obligations.
Boy, did we luck out.


Not only do we have an objective obligation to follow this supposed God,
Why?


but that we should also want to do so, because this supposed God has our best intentions in mind in giving us these obligations. That is why I've said at times that I'm a divine utilitarian. Scorpion god is not an utilitarian. It is an ethical egoist. My view shows God to be a kind of utilitarian. God is able to be an objective standard that overrides individual human feelings and show some to be right and some to be wrong.
You keep emphasizing the utilitarian aspect. But it is coincidental to your theory. Your claim is that god just happens to be utilitarian, but we would be obligated to obey regardless.

You offer no reason for anyone to agree with you.

1. Your feeling:

You have a feeling that this obligation to obey creators exists, but your feeling is no reason for anyone to agree.

2. The potter analogy:

Potters do own their pots, as against claims by other humans. The reason the pots don't have rights is that they don't care. They aren't conscious. They don't have feelings, fears, desires. Nothing matters to them. So, hey, smash away, no harm done.

But, presumably, you won't follow that analogy to Westworld, or anywhere else involving conscious beings. "Hey, you're my children. I produced you so that you could slave for me and make me happy. That's why I keep you locked in this laundry where you have to clean people's clothes twenty hours a day. You don't have the right to freedom or education or good food or fresh air or any thing that I don't want. You are my slaves because I created you. It's just your bad luck that I'm not a utilitarian, huh? But morality is morality, and I created you by having sex, so your obligations are ironclad. Sucks to be you."

If you won't endorse the above laundry-slave situation, or the rape-and-murder slavery of Westworld, then your analogy is just special pleading. "Creatures have to obey their creators, but only when I say so, only when the outcome is pleasing to me, only when my particular god comes out on top."

Oh, let me mention that I was really surprised when you said we'd be obliged to obey a scorpion god. I've never had anyone say that before. I give you points for consistency.

But will you still be consistent when it comes to Westworld and using ones own children as laundry slaves?


wiploc wrote:So there would be nothing wrong with killing the scorpion god's people, given that he doesn't treasure them? That seems so arbitrary, pointless, and amoral.
The objective wrongness would depend on what the scorpion god commanded. If it commanded killing people to be okay, then it would be objectively 'good' to kill people. If a sea turtle commanded killing people to be okay, then it would be a subjective moral statement perhaps, but the creator offering that command makes it an objective morality or obligation.
In the past, you have repudiated the dictation/command as key. It doesn't matter what the creator says, but rather how he makes the world. In our case, he makes the world so that we should be nice to each other because that maximizes happiness.

The scorpion god designed his world so that we run screaming, futilely trying to get away, while he commands us to come and surrender ourselves to torture and death. Then he hunts us down and kills us while we disobey.

This is a refinement of the scorpion god case. With this refinement in place, are we to obey god's command or his desires? We are obliged to surrender ourselves to torment because he orders it, or we are obliged to disobey because he designed the world so our futile attempts to disobey give him even greater pleasure?

How do the creator/creature obligations that you perceive work in that circumstance? And why should anyone go along with them?


If humans have the same thoughts we currently have, then we would disagree with this objective standard, but that doesn't mean it isn't the objective standard. And, again, what do you mean by 'arbitrary'?
Saying that creatures are obligated to obey creators is exactly as arbitrary as saying that creators are obligated to obey creatures. It is as arbitrary as saying that women have to obey men, that blacks have to obey whites, that Jews have to obey Christians. It's a rule with no sense behind it, no logic.

Christians like to teach that their religion is the source of morality. Then they can't justify that claim. So they make the arbitrary rule because it works out for them. There is no basis for the rule, no reason to believe in it. That's why they want to switch to utilitarian justifications every chance they get. "And, oh, hey, it just happens that we'll all be happier if we obey my god."


It isn't random because it is based on scorpion god's nature.
It feels random. According to you, morality depends entirely on what random god happened to create your universe. If a slavery-loving god created the universe, then the Underground Railroad was a bad thing. For those of us who don't believe in creators, or who don't claim to know what kind of god created the universe--according to your theory--no behavior can be morally preferable to any other.

According to your theory, if we don't know who our creator is, knocking people down should look exactly as good as helping them up.


Whether it is pointless depends on why the scorpion god commanded that particular reason. If it's because it doesn't treasure them, that is the point. Scorpion god wants them to suffer.
Again, points for consistency.

It may be ugly and pointless, fundamentally unappealing, but it's consistent.


It is amoral. The standard of goodness itself is always going to be amoral,
I'm glad you're done with that "god is good" stuff, and that "god is the standard" stuff.


because it has no standard above it keeping it to its duty. This is the same for me and you. It's the same for objective and subjective morality. Your feeling that "one ought to seek the net-happiness of the world" is not complying or disobeying from some higher moral law (in your view); it is amoral.
All morality is based on amorality? I demur.


wiploc wrote:
I think this is a more accurate picture of the worlds actualizable by a creator:

In World1, Joe has free will to decide to either be nice or mean to Sara.
In World2, Joe is determined by the creator to decide to be nice to Sara.
In World3, Joe is determined by the creator to decide to be mean to Sara.
If Joe has free will, he has to decide in all of those worlds. If god has foreknowledge, he knows which is World2 and which is World3, and there is no World1 in which Joe's decision is undetermined.
Joe does not have free will in World2 or World3 by definition because his decision is determined by another. Having free will means not having your decision determined by something else. It is logical nonsense to say Joe has free will in either of those worlds on par with saying Joe is a married bachelor. A world only full of a married bachelor is not a possible world.

God's knowledge has nothing to do with agency in any of these worlds. God knows God will choose Joe's decision in World2 and World3. God knows what Joe will decide in World1, but doesn't determine that decision.
wiploc wrote:If he knows the future of every world, and he elects to create one of those worlds, then he is in fact able to create those worlds. If that denies us free will, then we have no free will in any god-made world.
God cannot create a square circle. It is logical nonsense. God choosing World1a over World1b (i.e., choosing that Joe's decision will be to be nice to Sara) is logically incompatible with God giving Joe free will. God can't give Joe free will AND determine Joe's decision. That is logical nonsense.
I'd think a god could create Joe with free will. I mean, if we have free will, and if god created us, then god can create free will, right?

And god knows the future? So he knows every decision that free-willed people will ever make.

He knows that if he has the world start at 8:03 A.M., Eve will freely choose to eat the apple, but if he starts it at 8:04, she will freely choose not to. If he starts us off with free-willed Solomon and Ruth, sin never happens, but if he starts with free-willed Adam and Eve, oops. If he puts the tree here, we get free will and sin; if he puts it a little farther over there, free will without sin.

There is no world an omniscient god can create without "determining" what choices will be made in that world. If you want to say that eliminates free will, then you have to be consistent about it: It eliminates free will in every possible world.

I don't see it that way. And you yourself said that god's foreknowledge wouldn't eliminate free will. And if we say we have free will in this badworld, then--if we're being consistent, if we aren't just special pleading--we have to say we'd have free will in a goodworld too.

(I believe I said that badworlds have sin before. That doesn't work for me. A badworld is one in which people voluntarily do evil. We choose to make each other unhappy. A badworld is any world in which such a choice is made, even once.)

God doesn't have any more foreknowledge in worlds in which Eve eats the apple. He doesn't "determine" her choices more in those worlds. So ether we have free will both ways or we don't have free will both ways.

Special pleading is a logical fallacy. It is special pleading to say that god can give Eve free will if she eats the apple but not if she doesn't.

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Post #45

Post by The Tanager »

wiploc wrote:So objectivity just requires someone else's subjective desire. If you ought to be nice because of my desire, and I ought to be nice because of your desire, that would--according to your test--be objective.
Is my desire independent of your opinion and feelings? If yes, then it is (by definition) objective in relation to you. But an objective what? It's just an objective statement, not an objective obligation. I have no authority over you.
wiploc wrote:I have offered no reason? You think we are all moral slaves of a creator because you feel that the creator/creature relationship somehow results in that. You don't give a reason other than your subjective feeling.

But when I point out the objective fact that people are, overall, happier when they are nice to each other, that is dismissed as subjective, as no reason.
That is not what I'm dismissing as subjective. I'm asking you this: why should I want to make people happier? That is the question I'm saying you have given no reason for (except that some people feel we should).

My reason that we should want to make people happier is that our creator designed us to do so. This isn't "I feel it's a cool thing to obey creators." The eye has a specific purpose. If it is not producing sight, then it is defective. It is not doing what it ought to do. The potter makes the pot for a specific purpose (or purposes). If the pot isn't being used that way, then it isn't what it ought to be. The creature would have nothing if not for the creator and (in my version of theism) would not continue to exist if not for the creator. The creator made us creatures with specific purposes in mind. Part of that purpose is to treat each other lovingly. When we don't do that, we aren't living up to what we were designed to do. We are defective. We aren't doing what we ought. We are being misused.
wiploc wrote:Are you watching Westworld? Do you believe the hosts are morally obligated to let humans rape and murder them over and over? The created must always obey the creator regardless of consequences?
I feel there may still be something I'm missing or not quite getting about the nature of obligation, so I thank you for keeping to press me on this. I have not seen Westworld, but I think you are still conflatig the two issues of obligation and whether the obliged will want to fulfill said obligation.

Morality, it seems to me, is about the nature of the standard and the nature of those under that standard. In your view, there are some people who have a particular feeling/response (i.e., seeking to make others happier, let's call it response A) and some people who have an opposite response (i.e., only thinking of their own happiness, let's call it response B) when faced with the same moral choice. There is no pattern to the way all people should feel because you have no paradigm in your worldview to fashion them on.

What it comes down to in your view is the majority of utils (if not people). If we have more A-type responses, then that is good. But if the balance shifts the other way, what is actually good shifts. If this Westworld actually sees a higher net happiness from the rapes and murders, then your moral theory says that rape in that world is morally good.

In my view, everyone is designed to have response A by the creator. There is a pattern, which is the creator's own nature. If the design becomes defective and the balance shifts to more B-type responses by the creatures, what is actually good (the way things were designed to be) does not shift. Rape remains morally evil.

Or, going back to the potter analogy you brought up. Your view, it seems to me, says something like:

1. We have clay that is shaped into pots for carrying water and we have clay that is shaped into statues.
2. Clay ought to only be made into pots for carrying water.

My view would tweak it like this:

1. The potter has shaped clay into pots for the purpose of carrying water.
2. Therefore, those pots should be used to carry water. If they aren't, then they are defective.

The scorpion god scenario would be like this:

1. The potter has shaped clay into pots for the purpose of being a statue.
2. The pots should be used to be a statue. If they aren't, then they are defective. But if they are, they aren't effective either.
wiploc wrote:No behavior, fundamentally, is better or worse than any other behavior? Everything depends on which god created your world. This is really the theistic viewpoint?
Good is always going to be relative to a perspective, whether god(s) are involved or not. Goodness is a relative term. If the moral statement is obligatory and objective to humans, however, certain human behaviors will be fundamentally better or worse than others. Good/evil is relative to that fundamental perspective. In creation, the creator is the fundamental perspective because it makes things how they are.
wiploc wrote:They have a choice. I just see no reason for them to go along with the scorpion god's perverted desires. And you can't give me any reason, aside from your personal perception that creators have authority over creatures.
I don't see any reason for going along either. That's different than the god placing an obligation on them to go along. I'm saying the scorpion god is placing an irrational obligation on them, yet making them rational creatures. They won't have any reason to go along with that obligation. They won't go along. They would be acting against their nature to go along.

My view has the creator placing a rational obligation on its creatures. They have reasons to go along with the obligations the creator has placed upon them.
wiploc wrote:There you go; that's the scorpion god. And by your moral standards, that's okay. There is no higher duty than struggling vainly to avoid a terrible death and then suffering that death anyway.
No, it's not okay; it's objective. An objective irrational obligation. I never said I was okay with it.
wiploc wrote:Potters do own their pots, as against claims by other humans. The reason the pots don't have rights is that they don't care. They aren't conscious. They don't have feelings, fears, desires. Nothing matters to them. So, hey, smash away, no harm done.
But you don't think everyone's feelings are to be respected as rights. The serial killer that really wants to kill people does not have the right to do it just because he is conscious.
wiploc wrote:But, presumably, you won't follow that analogy to Westworld, or anywhere else involving conscious beings. "Hey, you're my children. I produced you so that you could slave for me and make me happy. That's why I keep you locked in this laundry where you have to clean people's clothes twenty hours a day. You don't have the right to freedom or education or good food or fresh air or any thing that I don't want. You are my slaves because I created you. It's just your bad luck that I'm not a utilitarian, huh? But morality is morality, and I created you by having sex, so your obligations are ironclad. Sucks to be you."
Parent-child is a different relationship than creator-creature. But the scorpion god is the same relationship. Who is above a creator of all that exists? If there is no higher standard, then how could we judge that we deserve to have something not given to us by the creator? We may want them. It may be good for our happiness. And I would say seek your own happiness. But I don't see how it's our right, instead of a desire under this scenario. And remember, in my view, God not only allows us to have that desire, but grants it as a right as well.
wiploc wrote:In the past, you have repudiated the dictation/command as key. It doesn't matter what the creator says, but rather how he makes the world. In our case, he makes the world so that we should be nice to each other because that maximizes happiness.
I apologize if I was unclear on that before. I was trying to say that the key is in the nature of the one making the command (and in whose image we are created), rejecting an idea that God's commands would be an arbitrary whim disconnected from its nature. And that the obligation only makes sense if the creature is made in such a way as to be able to want to fulfill that obligation.
wiploc wrote:It feels random. According to you, morality depends entirely on what random god happened to create your universe. If a slavery-loving god created the universe, then the Underground Railroad was a bad thing.
It was a 'bad thing' from the perspective of the one who is in charge of the universe (i.e., it was unacceptable to it) It was a 'good thing' from our perspective (i.e., it was acceptable to us). I'm saying that if a creator exists, then it's perspective is the highest perspective. And if we are made in that image, then our moral judgments (if working correctly) have an objective foundation. In your view, they have a subjective foundation and therefore, cannot be binding or obligatory on everyone.
wiploc wrote:According to your theory, if we don't know who our creator is, knocking people down should look exactly as good as helping them up.
Absolutely not. Epistemology is different than ontology. In my view, God makes all humans (believers and non-believers) with the same nature, the same moral law, the same ability to see what is actually good and evil.
wiploc wrote:All morality is based on amorality? I demur.
I described 'amorality' in the sense of "not being under a higher law." The moral law is not itself under a higher law. Neither my conception of it nor yours. Otherwise there would be an infinite regress.
wiploc wrote:I'd think a god could create Joe with free will. I mean, if we have free will, and if god created us, then god can create free will, right?
Yes. That is World1. World2 and World3 have Joe not having free will. So God cannot give Joe free will in world2 or world3, because it is a logical contradiction.
wiploc wrote:He knows that if he has the world start at 8:03 A.M., Eve will freely choose to eat the apple, but if he starts it at 8:04, she will freely choose not to. If he starts us off with free-willed Solomon and Ruth, sin never happens, but if he starts with free-willed Adam and Eve, oops. If he puts the tree here, we get free will and sin; if he puts it a little farther over there, free will without sin.

There is no world an omniscient god can create without "determining" what choices will be made in that world. If you want to say that eliminates free will, then you have to be consistent about it: It eliminates free will in every possible world.

I don't see it that way. And you yourself said that god's foreknowledge wouldn't eliminate free will. And if we say we have free will in this badworld, then--if we're being consistent, if we aren't just special pleading--we have to say we'd have free will in a goodworld too.

(I believe I said that badworlds have sin before. That doesn't work for me. A badworld is one in which people voluntarily do evil. We choose to make each other unhappy. A badworld is any world in which such a choice is made, even once.)

God doesn't have any more foreknowledge in worlds in which Eve eats the apple. He doesn't "determine" her choices more in those worlds. So ether we have free will both ways or we don't have free will both ways.

Special pleading is a logical fallacy. It is special pleading to say that god can give Eve free will if she eats the apple but not if she doesn't.
I don't see how I'm special pleading here. You are missing the element of control here that changes Eve's isolated freedom into being determined. God is determining Eve's action by starting the world at a certain time. Her freedom is illusory. She isn't determining which of her possible actions will actually occur. God knows that if he does A, Eve's action will be 1. If God does B, Eve's action will be 2. God choosing B determines that Eve's action will be 2 instead of 1. That's determination. God is just setting up the board to work out exactly the way God wants it to work it in this scenario.

This is why I said I disagree with this depiction of how God chooses a world to actualize. I don't think God looks at all the various logical possibilities, each with their one difference and then selects the one world that has every decision the way God wants it. Once God makes the choice to grant free will, some things will happen that God does not control (whether or not God knows what we then will choose to do).

I think god can make A type worlds (ones that have free will) and B type worlds (God determines all actions). God could 'look' at all B type worlds and pick whichever one God wants to actualize. Or God can choose to make an A type of world. Once God makes that choice, God logically cannot choose between which specific A type of world will actually take place.

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Post #46

Post by wiploc »

The Tanager wrote: Is my desire independent of your opinion and feelings? If yes, then it is (by definition) objective in relation to you. But an objective what? It's just an objective statement, not an objective obligation. I have no authority over you.
And your gods have no authority over me. It looks to me like we're on even ground.


I'm asking you this: why should I want to make people happier? That is the question I'm saying you have given no reason for (except that some people feel we should).
Why should I want to obey your gods? I believe you've made two attempts at that.

1. You perceive something about creator/creature relationships that somehow entails our obligation to follow orders.

2. Your gods happen to be nice, so things will work out well for us if we assume the obligation exists.

Answer 1 is what you're complaining about above: "Some people feel we should." If that justification isn't good enough for me, then it's not good enough for you.

Answer 2 is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is my position. If our positions are the same, then yours can hardly be better.


My reason that we should want to make people happier is that our creator designed us to do so. This isn't "I feel it's a cool thing to obey creators." The eye has a specific purpose. If it is not producing sight, then it is defective.
You can think of it that way, but it won't help you understand evolution. The genes that cause eyes don't know anything about sight; they have no purpose. The fact that white moths produce fewer descendants in smoggy environments doesn't make them "defective."


wiploc wrote:Are you watching Westworld? Do you believe the hosts are morally obligated to let humans rape and murder them over and over? The created must always obey the creator regardless of consequences?
I feel there may still be something I'm missing or not quite getting about the nature of obligation, so I thank you for keeping to press me on this.
Let me say that you're an excellent discussion partner. Polite, coherent, insightful. I couldn't ask for better.


I have not seen Westworld, but I think you are still conflatig the two issues of obligation and whether the obliged will want to fulfill said obligation.
Maybe. Maybe so. But I'm still going to be asking my question where appropriate: Why should we comply with god-based morality? Why should we want to? What makes us obliged to? Why should anybody do that? What is the upside? What is the point?

If I do sometimes, as you suggest, conflate obligation and desire, the question of obligation remains. And I don't have any better way to phrase the question, so I'll keep asking it in the best way I can.

Do you really want to throw out all of your utilitarian arguments as irrelevant, as motive-based rather than obligation-based? I prefer to think of them as speaking to obligation. The only problems with them are

1. They assume an implausible god, and are therefore presumptively unsound, and

2. Your utilitarian arguments are no stronger than my utilitarian arguments, so yours can't possibly generate obligation better than mine do.

Let me hark back to our first two posts: You're here to show that your morality is better (more objective, more logical, something) than mine, and I'm here to show that mine is just as good as yours.

If your utilitarian arguments do speak to obligation, then so do mine. If my utilitarian arguments are irrelevant digressions, then so are yours.

Either way, as far as the utilitarian arguments go, you aren't even tending to achieve your goal.

That leaves your creator/creature potter/pot argument. You personally think that somehow implies an obligation, and I personally do not.





Morality, it seems to me, is about the nature of the standard and the nature of those under that standard. In your view, there are some people who have a particular feeling/response (i.e., seeking to make others happier, let's call it response A) and some people who have an opposite response (i.e., only thinking of their own happiness, let's call it response B) when faced with the same moral choice. There is no pattern to the way all people should feel because you have no paradigm in your worldview to fashion them on.
You find utilitarianism unconvincing when I'm the one arguing for it. I find it appalling that you think we'd be morally obliged to obey a scorpion god. You have no paradigm to make that logical or appealing.

At least you agree with me that utilitarianism is appealing.


What it comes down to in your view is the majority of utils (if not people). If we have more A-type responses, then that is good. But if the balance shifts the other way, what is actually good shifts.
What it comes down to in your view is that creatures have to obey creators, regardless of how vile and disgusting.

Why would you believe that? What is the point? Where would that obligation come from? Why should anyone agree with you? How is the world better if we have to go along with scorpion gods? What is good about assuming the existence of the obligation that you posit?

If, in the above, you think I'm muddying the difference between the obligation and the impulse to comply with the obligation, please focus your response on the obligation part.


If this Westworld actually sees a higher net happiness from the rapes and murders, then your moral theory says that rape in that world is morally good.
If your gods actually designed us to rape and murder, then we are supposed to do so.


In my view, everyone is designed to have response A by the creator. There is a pattern, which is the creator's own nature. If the design becomes defective and the balance shifts to more B-type responses by the creatures, what is actually good (the way things were designed to be) does not shift. Rape remains morally evil.
It's like you can't help yourself. :) The appeal of utilitarianism is inescapable. You can dismiss it as irrelevant--as having to to with our inclination to do what we ought rather than with the creation of the oughtiness in the first place--but you can't leave it alone.

In your system, the utility of morality is an aside, an irrelevancy. You would have us obliged to obey any kind of creator. You think we're just lucky to have a good one, but gods' goodness isn't where the oughtiness comes from.



Good is always going to be relative to a perspective, whether god(s) are involved or not. Goodness is a relative term. If the moral statement is obligatory and objective to humans, however, certain human behaviors will be fundamentally better or worse than others. Good/evil is relative to that fundamental perspective. In creation, the creator is the fundamental perspective because it makes things how they are.
I don't see any obligation there. I don't think the desires of the creators are privileged over those of the creatures. I see no reason for anybody to agree with you. I see no reason to think those creator-based obligations would exist even if creators actually existed.

You could argue it the other way around. Parents are obligated to take care of their children, surely, so why aren't creators obligated to take care of their creatures? Thus, gods are morally obligated to obey the people they create.

That's not a compelling argument, but surely it is at least as strong as yours.



wiploc wrote:They have a choice. I just see no reason for them to go along with the scorpion god's perverted desires. And you can't give me any reason, aside from your personal perception that creators have authority over creatures.
I don't see any reason for going along either. That's different than the god placing an obligation on them to go along. I'm saying the scorpion god is placing an irrational obligation on them, yet making them rational creatures. They won't have any reason to go along with that obligation. They won't go along. They would be acting against their nature to go along.

My view has the creator placing a rational obligation on its creatures. They have reasons to go along with the obligations the creator has placed upon them.
Now I really feel like I'm confusing the obligation and the inclination. You don't see any reason for going along with a creator god? How is that not a full concession that I'm right and you're wrong?


wiploc wrote:There you go; that's the scorpion god. And by your moral standards, that's okay. There is no higher duty than struggling vainly to avoid a terrible death and then suffering that death anyway.
No, it's not okay; it's objective. An objective irrational obligation. I never said I was okay with it.
I'm confused. How can you not be okay with obeying objective morality? What, then, is the point of objective morality? What's good about it? Why should anyone comply? How can a bad morality be more objectively binding than a good morality?


wiploc wrote:Potters do own their pots, as against claims by other humans. The reason the pots don't have rights is that they don't care. They aren't conscious. They don't have feelings, fears, desires. Nothing matters to them. So, hey, smash away, no harm done.
But you don't think everyone's feelings are to be respected as rights. The serial killer that really wants to kill people does not have the right to do it just because he is conscious.
You don't get a leg up on me there. You deny the serial killer his "rights" too, just based on miracles and fable.


wiploc wrote:But, presumably, you won't follow that analogy to Westworld, or anywhere else involving conscious beings. "Hey, you're my children. I produced you so that you could slave for me and make me happy. That's why I keep you locked in this laundry where you have to clean people's clothes twenty hours a day. You don't have the right to freedom or education or good food or fresh air or any thing that I don't want. You are my slaves because I created you. It's just your bad luck that I'm not a utilitarian, huh? But morality is morality, and I created you by having sex, so your obligations are ironclad. Sucks to be you."
Parent-child is a different relationship than creator-creature.
The parents create the children. That's the only part of the analogy we're concerned with. If you want to add some new relevant requirements, something about the god-creator/human-created or potter-creator/pot-created relationship that can't fairly be said to apply also to the parent-creator/child-created relationship, feel free.


But the scorpion god is the same relationship. Who is above a creator of all that exists?
Anybody who seems nicer, which wouldn't be hard.

I don't claim to be a particularly nice person, but if I was the god of Oklahoma, and Jehovah was the god of everywhere else, then everybody would move to Oklahoma.

According to your theory, if Satan created the universe, and then Jehovah came to rule it, we'd be obliged to reject Jehovah in favor of Satan. I don't think that anything can be said in favor of such a theory.

Nor do I think there is any objectively defined meaning of "above" that puts creators above others.


If there is no higher standard, then how could we judge that we deserve to have something not given to us by the creator? We may want them. It may be good for our happiness. And I would say seek your own happiness. But I don't see how it's our right, instead of a desire under this scenario. And remember, in my view, God not only allows us to have that desire, but grants it as a right as well.
In your view, gods happen to be nice, but their niceness is irrelevant. It is a distraction. It confuses the relationship between obligation and inclination.


wiploc wrote:In the past, you have repudiated the dictation/command as key. It doesn't matter what the creator says, but rather how he makes the world. In our case, he makes the world so that we should be nice to each other because that maximizes happiness.
I apologize if I was unclear on that before. I was trying to say that the key is in the nature of the one making the command (and in whose image we are created), rejecting an idea that God's commands would be an arbitrary whim disconnected from its nature. And that the obligation only makes sense if the creature is made in such a way as to be able to want to fulfill that obligation.
I can't make that scan. I wonder if you left out a word.

But it seems like you are saying that we are obliged to obey your god because he is nice. It seems like you are abandoning the creator/creature source of obligation in favor of the utilitarian source of obligation.

I could be wrong. I probably am wrong, since that interpretation conflicts with so much of what you have written.


wiploc wrote:It feels random. According to you, morality depends entirely on what random god happened to create your universe. If a slavery-loving god created the universe, then the Underground Railroad was a bad thing.
It was a 'bad thing' from the perspective of the one who is in charge of the universe (i.e., it was unacceptable to it) It was a 'good thing' from our perspective (i.e., it was acceptable to us). I'm saying that if a creator exists, then it's perspective is the highest perspective. And if we are made in that image, then our moral judgments (if working correctly) have an objective foundation. In your view, they have a subjective foundation and therefore, cannot be binding or obligatory on everyone.
I don't agree that your version of morality is more objective than mine. I think you've even conceded that point at times.

I don't see anything binding about your morality. It seems whimsical to argue that people have to obey their creators regardless of the qualities of those creators. That seems like a bad rule. Unjustifiable.


wiploc wrote:According to your theory, if we don't know who our creator is, knocking people down should look exactly as good as helping them up.
Absolutely not. Epistemology is different than ontology. In my view, God makes all humans (believers and non-believers) with the same nature, the same moral law, the same ability to see what is actually good and evil.
If we don't know whether there's a god, or what that god is like, and if--as you maintain--our obligation is to obey that creator, whoever he is, and regardless of whether you are okay with it, then we cannot know whether to knock people down or to help them up.

Your assertion that you think your gods prefer helping people up looks to me like confusing the obligation with the inclination. You think we ought to obey gods because they are creators, and you think we should be enthusiastic about it because you think a particular god is nice.

But you think god's niceness is irrelevant. Why is it that utilitarianism is irrelevant when I talk about it but relevant when you talk about it?


wiploc wrote:All morality is based on amorality? I demur.
I described 'amorality' in the sense of "not being under a higher law." The moral law is not itself under a higher law. Neither my conception of it nor yours. Otherwise there would be an infinite regress.
An uncaused first cause would be as distasteful as an infinite regress, and as logically difficult.

If our two moralities are neither one justified by a higher law, then how does yours get to be better?


wiploc wrote:I'd think a god could create Joe with free will. I mean, if we have free will, and if god created us, then god can create free will, right?
Yes. That is World1. World2 and World3 have Joe not having free will. So God cannot give Joe free will in world2 or world3, because it is a logical contradiction.
Joe has free will in all three worlds. You have agreed that gods' foreknowledge does not interfere with free will.


wiploc wrote:He knows that if he has the world start at 8:03 A.M., Eve will freely choose to eat the apple, but if he starts it at 8:04, she will freely choose not to. If he starts us off with free-willed Solomon and Ruth, sin never happens, but if he starts with free-willed Adam and Eve, oops. If he puts the tree here, we get free will and sin; if he puts it a little farther over there, free will without sin.

There is no world an omniscient god can create without "determining" what choices will be made in that world. If you want to say that eliminates free will, then you have to be consistent about it: It eliminates free will in every possible world.

I don't see it that way. And you yourself said that god's foreknowledge wouldn't eliminate free will. And if we say we have free will in this badworld, then--if we're being consistent, if we aren't just special pleading--we have to say we'd have free will in a goodworld too.

(I believe I said that badworlds have sin before. That doesn't work for me. A badworld is one in which people voluntarily do evil. We choose to make each other unhappy. A badworld is any world in which such a choice is made, even once.)

God doesn't have any more foreknowledge in worlds in which Eve eats the apple. He doesn't "determine" her choices more in those worlds. So ether we have free will both ways or we don't have free will both ways.

Special pleading is a logical fallacy. It is special pleading to say that god can give Eve free will if she eats the apple but not if she doesn't.
I don't see how I'm special pleading here. You are missing the element of control here that changes Eve's isolated freedom into being determined. God is determining Eve's action by starting the world at a certain time. Her freedom is illusory. She isn't determining which of her possible actions will actually occur. God knows that if he does A, Eve's action will be 1. If God does B, Eve's action will be 2. God choosing B determines that Eve's action will be 2 instead of 1. That's determination. God is just setting up the board to work out exactly the way God wants it to work it in this scenario.
He has to start the world at some time. And he--because he is omniscient--knows the results of that starting point. An omniscient god knows everything that will happen in every possible world.

If we're going to say that Eve's freedom is illusory in one possible world, then we have to say that in every possible world.


This is why I said I disagree with this depiction of how God chooses a world to actualize. I don't think God looks at all the various logical possibilities,
He doesn't have to "look." An omniscient god already knows.


each with their one difference and then selects the one world that has every decision the way God wants it.
Maybe he selects one with decisions he doesn't like. He still selected it while knowing the decisions. That is true of every world an omniscient god can create. If it denies free will in one, it denies free will in all. You can't just say it denies free will in goodworlds but not in badworlds. The logic is the same either way.


Once God makes the choice to grant free will, some things will happen that God does not control (whether or not God knows what we then will choose to do).
If free will is a real thing--and I assume it is--then god isn't controlling the decisions in any of these worlds. (Okay, there would be possible worlds in which god did control decisions, like when he hardened Pharoah's heart and darkened his counsels so that he wouldn't let the Hebrews go, but that's not the point. In my examples, everyone has free will. And you are, as far as I can tell, arbitrarily selecting the goodworlds, and saying they don't have free will. But, if you applied the same test to the badworlds, then either all god-created worlds would have free will or none of them would.

If god's foreknowledge of the goodworlds denies free will, then his foreknowledge of the badworlds also denies free will. If god's foreknoweldge of the badworlds does not deny free will, then his foreknowledge of the good worlds doesn't deny free will either.

Whatever test you apply, you have to apply to all worlds. Otherwise, you are special pleading.



I think god can make A type worlds (ones that have free will) and B type worlds (God determines all actions). God could 'look' at all B type worlds and pick whichever one God wants to actualize. Or God can choose to make an A type of world. Once God makes that choice, God logically cannot choose between which specific A type of world will actually take place.
An omniscient god will know every decision that will ever be made in every possible A type world. If that means he can't make a good one, then it also means he can't make a bad one.

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Post #47

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I'm going on the road, also writing a book, and, since I'll be on the road, I'll also be writing a travel blog. http://wherearecharlieandtoni.blogspot.com/

If this makes my posts more irregular, I apologize in advance.

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No worries on any sporadic answers. I'd be a hypocrite if I said otherwise. Of course, I may be a hypocrite for other reasons, but at least not that. I would love to get out to Colorado sometime. I've never been further west than Chicago. I'm heading to the Phoenix and Las Vegas area this summer with my wife (ugh...heat...why do volleyball national tournaments have to be in June/July?). And your dogs are gorgeous! Anyway, back to morality.

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I still feel you are conflating two issues in analyzing my view. The main question we've been talking about is (1) what provides moral oughtness. In my view, the oughtness is placed upon the creature by the creator and rightfully so since you have existed and are what you are, foremost, because of the creator. You continue to exist because it chooses to sustain your existence. It could choose to cease your existence. That sounds like authority to me. You said such a being would not have any authority over you. Why not?

This is not based on "I feel it is true." It's not that my perception of the creator/creature relationship entails the obligation. Just like your perception of the science behind the shape of the earth isn't what entails that the earth is round. It's because of the actual relationship we have with our creator as creator.

This is not based on utilitarianism. It's not that we are obligated to do what god commands because god is nice or because it will work out for us.

You keep making this confusion because we are also talking about a secondary question that you conflate with this one: (2) why should I want to obey the creator's command? That depends on how the creator made you. If the creator is like the scorpion god, then the creator builds into you a nature that directly works against its moral obligations. Therefore, such a creator is either irrational or cruel. If the creator is like my view of God, then the creator builds into you a nature that works hand in hand with its moral obligations. You actually want to follow the obligations because it is most fulfilling/rewarding to do so. Technically, this could probably be called ethical egoism or utilitarianism, depending on what one means by those terms. But this isn't my answer to the question of (1) what provides moral oughtness; it's a separate (but closely related) question. My utilitarian arguments do not speak to obligation.
wiploc wrote:You can think of it that way, but it won't help you understand evolution. The genes that cause eyes don't know anything about sight; they have no purpose. The fact that white moths produce fewer descendants in smoggy environments doesn't make them "defective."
The natural end (to keep the possible baggage of 'purpose' out of the point) of our eyes is to see. If they do not provide us with vision, then something along the way is not working as it ought to (i.e., is defective). With your example it's the environment that is impeding the natural end of white moths from ocurring. The moths aren't defective, the environment around them is.

In a creator/creature relationship, the creator provides the natural end of all things, be they quarks, genes, white moths, eyes, humans, etc. If things aren't meeting their natural ends, there is a defect somewhere along the way and things aren't what they ought to be. The oughtness is given by the creator.

In your view different people have different natures given to them by the process of evolution. Some are given a natural desire to seek the good of others. Some are given a natural desire in complete opposition to seeking the good of others. There is no one way humans naturally ought to be in your worldview, it seems. So, the selfish person following their nature is not defective, they are meeting their naturaly provided end.
wiploc wrote:You find utilitarianism unconvincing when I'm the one arguing for it.
I find it unconvincing on issue 1, but convincing on issue 2.
wiploc wrote:You could argue it the other way around. Parents are obligated to take care of their children, surely, so why aren't creators obligated to take care of their creatures? Thus, gods are morally obligated to obey the people they create.
Parents are obligated to take care of their children, because of the moral standard above them. Creators are at the top; they are the standard. They have no obligations, no authority they are placed under.
wiploc wrote:Now I really feel like I'm confusing the obligation and the inclination. You don't see any reason for going along with a creator god? How is that not a full concession that I'm right and you're wrong?
Because you think I'm conceding on issue 1, but I'm only agreeing with you here on issue 2.
wiploc wrote:I'm confused. How can you not be okay with obeying objective morality? What, then, is the point of objective morality? What's good about it? Why should anyone comply? How can a bad morality be more objectively binding than a good morality?
The point of 'objective morality' is to find out why morality is the way it is (if it is one certain way). The question of whether 'objective morality' is good or evil is meaningless because 'good' is a relative term. The highest standard (whether god or a physical property or something like Plato's form or any other kind of factual reality) is good, by definition. It is the standard that good things fit or are suitable to or pleasant for or conforming to and whatever else you earlier defined the term as. It's what makes things good or bad.
wiploc wrote:
But the scorpion god is the same relationship. Who is above a creator of all that exists?
Anybody who seems nicer, which wouldn't be hard.
How are they above the creator of all that exists? They are reliant upon the creator for existing and continuing to exist. The creator is reliant upon nothing else.
wiploc wrote:According to your theory, if Satan created the universe, and then Jehovah came to rule it, we'd be obliged to reject Jehovah in favor of Satan. I don't think that anything can be said in favor of such a theory.
I'm not sure my theory would say that, since I've been talking about creating and sustaining power of god(s). Unless I'm missing something, I would say that the new sustainer of existence would have the authority to place us under its obligations rather than the initial creator's obligations (issue 1). It would be less likely that our nature would be such that we would want to fulfill those obligations (issue 2).
wiploc wrote:I can't make that scan. I wonder if you left out a word.

But it seems like you are saying that we are obliged to obey your god because he is nice. It seems like you are abandoning the creator/creature source of obligation in favor of the utilitarian source of obligation.

I could be wrong. I probably am wrong, since that interpretation conflicts with so much of what you have written.
In the Euthyphro dilemma (a popular critique of divine command theory), it is charged that either (a) there is a standard outside of and above god(s) or (b) god's (gods') commands are arbitrary. The dilemma is a false one. The standard of what we deem 'good' is (c) God's nature. Everything flows from that. God's commands are not based on whims. God's commands are what they are because of God's nature. God's choices in creating us are what they are because of God's nature. God chooses to make us in that image, so that we [naturally] call 'good' the same things God calls good.

Let's compare my view of god with the scorpion god scenario again. We are obliged to follow (scorpion) god's commands because it is our creator (issue 1). In one we want to follow god's commands, because it made us in step with it's desires. In the other we don't want to follow scorpion god's commands, because it made us out of step with it's desires. It makes us happy to follow god's commands because they match with how we were built (issue 2). This god has placed a rational obligation on its creatures. It doesn't make us happy to follow scorpion god's commands (issue 2). This scorpion god has placed an irrational obligation on its creatures.
wiploc wrote:If we don't know whether there's a god, or what that god is like, and if--as you maintain--our obligation is to obey that creator, whoever he is, and regardless of whether you are okay with it, then we cannot know whether to knock people down or to help them up.
Not if god builds a moral law within humans. This means we can have moral knowledge without knowing whether or not god exists (and certain other characteristics).
wiploc wrote:An uncaused first cause would be as distasteful as an infinite regress, and as logically difficult.
I disagree on the distastefulness and logical difficulty, but I'm not sure that discussion would be that helpful here. Both views are equal here.
wiploc wrote:Joe has free will in all three worlds. You have agreed that gods' foreknowledge does not interfere with free will.
You defined World1 as "Joe decides to be nice to Sara."
You defined World2 as "Joe decides to be mean to Sara."

But then you also talked about god looking at the various worlds and choosing World1 to actualize. That is not foreknowledge of which world will take place; it's forecausing or determining. It is god orchestrating things so that Joe will choose a specific action. And it would be the same if god actualized World2 instead.
wiploc wrote:He has to start the world at some time. And he--because he is omniscient--knows the results of that starting point. An omniscient god knows everything that will happen in every possible world.

If we're going to say that Eve's freedom is illusory in one possible world, then we have to say that in every possible world.
Yes, but when you say God changing the start time of the world will change Eve's action, this makes Eve's action not a result of her free will, but of outside factors. Why is the different start time what causes the change in her decision? It's her free will that is supposed to be why she chooses the action.

You also seem to be saying something like this:

At time = -1, god knows the various worlds that people's choices would actualize (if not interfered with)
At time = 0, god actualizes the specific world god wants, down to everyone's choices in every instance

This scenario, it seems to me has god interfering with people's choices to get a very specific world. I don't think it's free any longer.

In my view, God doesn't create this way. God doesn't have foreknowledge in the way you are using it. I think God is timeless. God creates the world and let's free agents make their choices. Ge doesn't foresee all the possible worlds and then actualize one of those possibilities. God creates the world and sees what unfolds (while also interacting with it). God knows what is "future-to-us," but it's not "future-to-god".
wiploc wrote:If god's foreknowledge of the goodworlds denies free will, then his foreknowledge of the badworlds also denies free will. If god's foreknoweldge of the badworlds does not deny free will, then his foreknowledge of the good worlds doesn't deny free will either.

Whatever test you apply, you have to apply to all worlds. Otherwise, you are special pleading.
I'm confused on this part. I think what I said above applies whether or not the world becomes a goodworld or a badworld. World1a is a goodworld and contains free will. World1b is a badworld and contains free will. World2 is a goodworld and does not contain free will. World3 is a badworld and does not contain free will.

In world1a and world1b, god may have "foreknowledge." But World2 and World3 go beyond mere foreknowledge into predetermining actions to be specific actions.

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The Tanager wrote: I still feel you are conflating two issues in analyzing my view. The main question we've been talking about is (1) what provides moral oughtness.
Okay. I like it.


In my view, the oughtness is placed upon the creature by the creator and rightfully so since you have existed and are what you are, foremost, because of the creator.
How does that work? Is that a figure of speech, or what?

Up until now I've assumed the oughtness was supposed to be a natural part of any creator/creature relationship. (You've objected to that when it comes to parents and children, but without explanation.)

But now you seem to be saying it is an elective operation, it is something the creator does--but doesn't have to do--to the creatures. Do I understand you correctly?

If so, how does that work? What if the creatures did it back? Can I do it to you?


You continue to exist because it chooses to sustain your existence. It could choose to cease your existence. That sounds like authority to me.
So it's a power thing? It wouldn't have to be a creator, just someone stronger than you? Hitler had the same authority over the Jews as Jehovah had over Hitler, the ability to sustain or end life?

Suppose a deist god created the world and then did nothing else. And then suppose another god, not a creator god, showed up and took over. The new guy answers prayers, and makes up sins and punishes people who sin, and does occasional genocides when he doesn't like the way things are going, and generally acts like Jehovah.

Would you say that the original god is the one whom we ought to obey, or the new guy?

Is it power and authority, or being the creator?


You said such a being would not have any authority over you. Why not?
Why should I believe he has authority over me? You have never, that I've noticed, made a case for his authority.

At first it seemed like your perception of god's authority (and existence) was all the case you had. Now you repudiate that as a basis for his authority.

For a long time you seemed, as near as I could tell, to think that there's some kind of meta-rule that any creator has authority over anyone he creates. A potter could torture his sentient pots. A slave-breeder would own the people he created. A scorpion god would have authority over his victims. I don't see any virtue in that rule. I don't see that it would be good if it did exist, and I don't see any reason to think it does exist. That claim is no stronger than the opposite claim, that creators have to obey creatures.

Now you seem to be saying that it's a matter of power. Anybody who can kill or sustain life has authority over those whom he can aid or hurt. Morality comes out of the barrel of a gun.

Or you're saying that there is some choice creators can make. They can elect to have creatures required to obey them. Is this a trick that I can learn? Can anybody who knows the trick obligate people to obey? I am skeptical.

Forgive me if I have misrepresented you. I had a writing teacher who said that the most valuable thing she got from critiques of her work was when people told her what she had said. Please, if I have misunderstood what you said, take this as an opportunity to help me understand what you really meant.

So far, none of your moves seems persuasive. I suspect that you move from one to the next in the hope that you'll find one that holds up, but you haven't found it yet.


This is not based on "I feel it is true." It's not that my perception of the creator/creature relationship entails the obligation. Just like your perception of the science behind the shape of the earth isn't what entails that the earth is round. It's because of the actual relationship we have with our creator as creator.
Why is that binding? Why should anyone consider it to be binding?


This is not based on utilitarianism. It's not that we are obligated to do what god commands because god is nice or because it will work out for us.
Okay.

It does come up a lot. And it is, from my point of view, your strongest line. But, okay.


You keep making this confusion because we are also talking about a secondary question that you conflate with this one: (2) why should I want to obey the creator's command? That depends on how the creator made you. If the creator is like the scorpion god, then the creator builds into you a nature that directly works against its moral obligations. Therefore, such a creator is either irrational or cruel.
Cruel. The scorpion god is cruel.


If the creator is like my view of God, then the creator builds into you a nature that works hand in hand with its moral obligations. You actually want to follow the obligations because it is most fulfilling/rewarding to do so. Technically, this could probably be called ethical egoism or utilitarianism, depending on what one means by those terms. But this isn't my answer to the question of (1) what provides moral oughtness; it's a separate (but closely related) question. My utilitarian arguments do not speak to obligation.
Then what does? What determines that creators are the boss of us? Why isn't it skin color or primogeniture, or who's strongest, or who's smartest, or who got the most votes? Where does this creators-are-the-boss rule come from? Why should any reasonable person accept it?

I'm not conflating. I'm asking where the ought comes from.


wiploc wrote:You can think of it that way, but it won't help you understand evolution. The genes that cause eyes don't know anything about sight; they have no purpose. The fact that white moths produce fewer descendants in smoggy environments doesn't make them "defective."
The natural end (to keep the possible baggage of 'purpose' out of the point) of our eyes is to see.
So if eyes had morally significant free will, they would be obliged to see? And in the same sense, for the same reason, guards at an extermination camp are morally obliged to exterminate. It is an extermination camp, after all, so that is their "natural end."

If I may try to anticipate your response to that last, you may say that in the absence of a creator the guards would have that obligation, but in the actual case, since you believe in a creator, and since you believe he is good, you think a higher rule cancels out the guard's duty to exterminate.

I will overlook your reference to "natural" ends, since creation is presumably supernatural, magic, unnatural. So I assume that any end at all works, natural or not.


If they do not provide us with vision, then something along the way is not working as it ought to (i.e., is defective).
Trying to agree on a theory of evolution would involve a long and presumably fruitless argument, so I will just demur.


With your example it's the environment that is impeding the natural end of white moths from ocurring. The moths aren't defective, the environment around them is.
When the smog was ended, the dark moths became more vulnerable and the light moths had the reproductive advantage. Was the clean environment as defective as the dirty one? This seems to be an arbitrary call.


In a creator/creature relationship, the creator provides the natural end of all things, be they quarks, genes, white moths, eyes, humans, etc. If things aren't meeting their natural ends, there is a defect somewhere along the way and things aren't what they ought to be. The oughtness is given by the creator.
Again, I assume you don't mean to be invoking natural ends. It's any end, right? And an end is a purpose? And it doesn't really have to do with creators, since you repudiate that position below when talking about if Satan created the world and then Jehovah took over.

What does that leave? As near as I can tell, it's a matter of might makes right. I'm sure that you will object to that phrasing, but can't guess what you'll replace it with.

I don't see that you have a through-line, a position that you stay with.

I believe at this point that you don't think the oughtness comes from a choice of the creator, or a trick that creators know. If Satan made the world and Jehovah took over, you think our obligation would be to Jehovah. So creation isn't the key. If that leaves anything, it leaves power, might makes right.

The power to sustain or kill is the power to morally obligate.

As near as I can tell, that's your position. But I don't see what the appeal (logical or emotional) is supposed to be.



In your view different people have different natures given to them by the process of evolution. Some are given a natural desire to seek the good of others. Some are given a natural desire in complete opposition to seeking the good of others. There is no one way humans naturally ought to be in your worldview, it seems.
The utilitarian rule is that we should act so as to help people be happy, regardless of what gods and evolution say.

The theist position should logically be that people who seek evil are part of gods' plan. They will only seek evil if gods designed them that way, of if gods harden their hearts and darken their counsels. Seeking evil is their supernatural end, gods' purpose for them, their moral obligation.


So, the selfish person following their nature is not defective, they are meeting their naturaly provided end.
I don't think nature has purpose, so, unless I'm confused about what you mean by "end," there is no such thing.


wiploc wrote:You find utilitarianism unconvincing when I'm the one arguing for it.
I find it unconvincing on issue 1, but convincing on issue 2.
Touche, maybe. :)


wiploc wrote:You could argue it the other way around. Parents are obligated to take care of their children, surely, so why aren't creators obligated to take care of their creatures? Thus, gods are morally obligated to obey the people they create.
Parents are obligated to take care of their children, because of the moral standard above them. Creators are at the top; they are the standard. They have no obligations, no authority they are placed under.
But not really creators, right? Strongmen. You repudiate your argument about creators below, when we talk about Satan doing the creating and Jehovah taking over.

Seems to me it would be a real jerk move to have kids and not take care of them. But your position is that would be fine unless, as you happen to believe is the case, a magical strongman wants us to take care of our kids. It seems like you're arguing for something very close to nihilism.

A logical person, in your view, should be a nihilist unless he happens to believe in a utilitarian strongman. Is that a fair statement of the implications of your view?


wiploc wrote:Now I really feel like I'm confusing the obligation and the inclination. You don't see any reason for going along with a creator god? How is that not a full concession that I'm right and you're wrong?
Because you think I'm conceding on issue 1, but I'm only agreeing with you here on issue 2.
wiploc wrote:I'm confused. How can you not be okay with obeying objective morality? What, then, is the point of objective morality? What's good about it? Why should anyone comply? How can a bad morality be more objectively binding than a good morality?
The point of 'objective morality' is to find out why morality is the way it is (if it is one certain way). The question of whether 'objective morality' is good or evil is meaningless because 'good' is a relative term. The highest standard (whether god or a physical property or something like Plato's form or any other kind of factual reality) is good, by definition. It is the standard that good things fit or are suitable to or pleasant for or conforming to and whatever else you earlier defined the term as. It's what makes things good or bad.
wiploc wrote:
But the scorpion god is the same relationship. Who is above a creator of all that exists?
Anybody who seems nicer, which wouldn't be hard.
How are they above the creator of all that exists? They are reliant upon the creator for existing and continuing to exist. The creator is reliant upon nothing else.
So it all comes down to power? Might makes right?

And as to who is "above" a creator, that word "above" is figurative. You don't mean literally above, as in altitude. Since it's figurative, it makes sense to say the nicest person is the highest.

You're arguing that the strongest or most independent person is that highest. What good is that? Why should anyone believe that? You say that the figuratively highest person has the power to create moral laws, and you want high-ness to be about who's strongest? That just seems strange. That would put Putin above Mother Teresa. That's a terrible basis for a moral theory.

And there's no reason to think it is true.


wiploc wrote:According to your theory, if Satan created the universe, and then Jehovah came to rule it, we'd be obliged to reject Jehovah in favor of Satan. I don't think that anything can be said in favor of such a theory.
I'm not sure my theory would say that, since I've been talking about creating and sustaining power of god(s). Unless I'm missing something, I would say that the new sustainer of existence would have the authority to place us under its obligations rather than the initial creator's obligations (issue 1). It would be less likely that our nature would be such that we would want to fulfill those obligations (issue 2).
So, you repudiate your claim that morality is based on creators. It has to do instead with sustainers. Statan or Jehovah or whoever created a universe so defective that it will evaporate if somebody doesn't hold his thumb in some metaphysical dike. And whoever does that is the boss of us all.

I believe that theory is unique to you. You're the only one who knows it. And the logic of morality depends on this theory that nobody knows but you, and that you can't justify.

The implication would seem to be that nobody but you has any reason for being moral. That sounds like I'm conflating again, but I'm not. There is no logical reason for anybody who isn't familiar with and persuaded by your unique theory to be good.

I don't see how we can avoid that conclusion. We are talking about moral oughtness, and you are the only one who knows your justification.


In the Euthyphro dilemma (a popular critique of divine command theory), it is charged that either (a) there is a standard outside of and above god(s) or (b) god's (gods') commands are arbitrary. The dilemma is a false one. The standard of what we deem 'good' is (c) God's nature.
That doesn't make sense. Why should we arbitrarily call whatever god does good? What would be the point? If he isn't good in the regular sense, why should anybody pay attention to this newfangled sense of the word?

The cruel scorpion god would be "good" in this sense too, right? How is this not just worshiping power? How is this not just might makes right?

And what if the scorpion god didn't create a defective world that needed somebody's thumb in a metaphysical dike? Would we then not be obligated to him because he wouldn't be "sustaining" us? So anybody who believes in conservation of energy would then logically be immune to god-based morality?


Everything flows from that. God's commands are not based on whims. God's commands are what they are because of God's nature.
If you don't call god's whims "whims" because they are his nature, then are your whims not whims because they are your nature?


God's choices in creating us are what they are because of God's nature. God chooses to make us in that image, so that we [naturally] call 'good' the same things God calls good.
Maybe I'll take back that "touche." I mean, maybe I sometimes confuse issue 1 and issue 2, but I don't think I'm alone in that.


Let's compare my view of god with the scorpion god scenario again. We are obliged to follow (scorpion) god's commands because it is our creator (issue 1).
But only, if I understand you, if he made the world such that it will evaporate if he quits sustaining it.

And, even if I am correct in that understanding, you can't justify the claim. You make the claim, but you give no reason for anyone to agree with you. (This is issue 1, not issue 2. You give no reason for anybody to be able to logically say you are correct.)

I'm going to call it a night. Thanks for this stimulating discussion. I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the moment.

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