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 #81

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The Tanager wrote: 1. You and I both believe moral realism (or objective morality) is true for humans.
I am a moral realist.

Whether I believe in objective morality varies from moment to moment, depending on whom I'm talking to and line that person is taking at the time.

For instance, there was a time when you were saying something about morality being objective if somebody else gives you orders, moral commands. So as long as that was our subject, then yes I believed in objective morality (in both theistic and nontheistic worlds). Which is not to say I found objective morality consistent with moral realism. I see no reason that people would be obliged to follow orders just because somebody (a god or someone else) gives the order.



2. Let's see what worldviews that, if true, can adequately account for moral realism.

(2a) If theism is true, then objective morality is logically possible.

It is possible that God created the universe, sustains it and owns human beings (just like humans automatically own their inventions) thereby allowing God to place obligations on us (just like we may place obligations on our inventions, if we choose).
We don't automatically own our own inventions. Even if those circumstances in which we do own an invention, that ownership claim is against other people, other potential owners. If the invention has personhood, our claims of ownership don't have primacy over what you would describe as the invention's claim to own itself.

You say it is possible for god to place obligations on us, but that is just a claim. I don't know of any reason to think it's true. You haven't supported that claim.



There is nothing logically inconsistent there. If these things are true, then our belief in moral realism make sense, because God places those obligations upon us.
I don't get it. If god says, "Do this," why should anybody go along with that? Where does the actual obligation to follow orders come from? How is it justified? Why should we believe in it?



So, theism is still a live option for grounding moral realism. At this part of the "argument" we are assuming the facts according to the theistic worldview in order to analyze the logic.
You're saying it's a live option, but I don't see any way gods could make that happen. Are we supposed to believe it's magic? Why should anybody obey magic? What would be the point?

If I want you to be nice to people, and a god wants you to be nice to people, how does one of those have more effect than the other?



This has been your focus of critique. You have said that the logic that I have used can then be used to show that atheistic worldviews lead to objective morality as well. This is not true.
You fail to demonstrate that. I don't see how your theistic view is any more compatible with moral realism than a godless view.



We have talked about four atheistic worldviews in this thread.

(2b) Godless Normative Realism (or Moral Platonism).

...

(2c) Physical Reductionist Moral Realism

...

(2d) Your utilitarian account

Since we both agreed the previous two atheistic worldviews weren't viable candidates, I asked if you had a different atheistic view that could account for objective moral truths and you were proceeding, for a little while, to try to show why your utilitarian account does and I critiqued why your view did not appear to lead to objective morality. My critiques were not questioning the foundational facts of your worldview, but whether given your beliefs as true, if they logically accounted for moral realism. Your atheistic view, as far as I can tell, does not claim that the utilitarian ethic created, sustains or owns human beings. Therefore, you aren't using the same logic that got me to my conclusion concerning God and objective morality.
I was talking about utilitarianism because you asked.

When I use your logic, slave owners are owners, therefore they can dictate moral obligations in a godless world.

I don't believe your logic works at all, but it certainly works as well in a without gods as it does with.



(2e) Generally speaking

You have tried to say that there could be an atheistic view using the same logic of ownership. You have noted ideas of slavery, etc. and I have shared why those are not ideas of ownership (not a different kind of ownership than in my argument; it's not an equivocation)
You say you're talking about ownership, but then you turn around and say it's something different. But you can't say how it's different, or why that affects moral obligation.

To the extent that we're talking about the regular kind of ownership with which mortal humans are familiar, this does not give the ability to dictate morality. And to the extent that we're discussing some X-factor, some incomprehensible characteristic of gods, you haven't given us any reason to believe it gives the ability to dictate morality.



based on the tenets of a general atheistic worldview. Atheism does not naturally lead to an idea of humans being owned by other beings. Therefore, the same logic I used for theism leading to objective morality cannot get general atheism there.
I maybe understand what you're saying here. As a utilitarian, I say that slavery is bad. I say that slaves have every right to rebel and disobey. We have the same rights to disobey mortal slaveholders as we would have to disobey divine slaveholders. Neither one is in a position to dictate morality to us.

And your point is that if you accept my objection to slavery in natural worlds, but arbitrarily maintain your claim that gods can dictate morality in magical worlds, then you think my argument has become unsymmetrical.

Slaveholders are able to dictate morality in magical worlds (because you say so) but they are not able to dictate morality in mundane worlds (because I say so). Therefore, goal Tanager.

But that's not a fair representation of my position. My position is that (a) slaveholders don't get to dictate morality in any world, and (b) if they did get to dictate morality, then that ability would exist in all worlds.

So my position is not asymmetrical. Either objective morality exists in mundane worlds, or it doesn't exist in magical worlds. You haven't made any claims for objective morality that work only in magical worlds. And your arguments against objective morality in mundane worlds work equally well against objective morality in magical worlds.



This section (2) has been what you have been critiquing and, therefore, what I have been responding to.


3. Here we have the deeper issue of whether we have good reasons to believe the beliefs posited by theism or godless normative realism or a physical reductionist moral theory (or some other theory that actually logically leads to objective morality).

Lately, your critiques have turned here. I'm fine talking about this, but I don't want it to get conflated with what was happening earlier when you were saying stuff like:
wiploc wrote:When a theist offers a reason to believe that objective morality can't exist in the absence of gods, the same logic would show that it can't exist even with gods. When a theist offers reason to believe objective morality can exist in the presence of gods, the same logic shows it can also exist in the absence of gods.
This critique looks at logical consistency, assuming the beliefs of the worldviews are true. This is what you've been asking me to respond to. I've responded to it. If we take my theistic worldview at face value, objective morality logically follows (it's not begged from the beginning like your formulation of my argument claims it does).
I don't get it. If it's true that you've given persuasive reasons, I haven't understood them.



If we take your atheistic worldview or a general atheistic worldview at face value, subjective morality logically follows.
I don't agree. That is, morality may be subjective in mundane worlds, but it is no more subjective than in magical worlds.



We don't get to those conclusions by using contradictory logics.
Well, you switched, didn't you? One time you say that ownership confers the power to dictate morality, and then later you say it doesn't. Or it does when you're talking, but not when I'm talking. That feels exactly like special pleading.

If there's something I'm missing, help me out, because I don't see that you have a case.


If you want me to argue for my actual theistic beliefs being true (from means other than morality and best explanation types of arguments), then the discussion is going to turn to cosmological arguments and the like, which is not what I thought you wanted to talk about here.
Right. We're discussing why, if gods existed, we should obey them.



So, please let me know what part of the conversation you want to talk about and let's stick with that for awhile.
Assume that gods exist: Why should we obey them?



I don't care which section we talk about, or even if you want to talk about the various levels at the same time, but I do care that we keep straight exactly what is being talked about.
Good.

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Post #82

Post by The Tanager »

wiploc wrote:I don't get it. If god says, "Do this," why should anybody go along with that? Where does the actual obligation to follow orders come from? How is it justified? Why should we believe in it?
Here is another different way to approach our discussion (with the same ol' content, so I'm not shifting my argument). There are three things I think we have to separate out of this kind of a group of questions. I'll give them three separate posts and bring your points in where it seems like they fit.

(1) Do actions have a certain moral value regardless of individual human opinion? I think both theism and atheism could, logically speaking, ground moral value. The three options we have talked about, and that I am aware of, that would work in this regard are intelligent creators, a platonic-like abstract "form" and moral values being actual physical traits things have.

(1a) Intelligent creators ground or explain this through the very idea of creation (not transformation, but creation). Why is anything the way it is on this view? The creator chooses to do it that way. Scientific laws, the intelligibility of reality to humans, physical characteristics, whatever. Whether the creator places moral value within actual acts (all forced copulation is bad no matter if a human or a shark does it) or if the creator places moral values within specific creatures and not others (forced copulation is morally bad for humans, but not for sharks), moral values exist because the intelligent creator made it that way.

I believe the second of these. God creates humans with a certain moral sense that tells us rape is wrong. Sharks are amoral, not moral or immoral. We have a capacity they don't, a moral sense/awaraness/etc. In this view, human moral values are absolutely true regardless of what a human may choose to believe. And those are created in us by the creator.

In the scorpion god scenario, scorpion god creates humans with a value judgment that says being stung to death is bad. This comparison will pick back up in (2a) and (3a).

(1b) The Platonic-like abstract realm somehow interacts with our physical realm and the form of badness attaches to a rape and the form of goodness attaches to Joe fixing Sara's car for free because she is struggling to pay the bills.

(1c) In the physical reductionist view, moral badness just exists in Joe and when Joe rapes Sara, if we had the right equipment, we would see that physical part of Joe alive, but we would see a different physical aspect of Joe at work in the car situation. (I'm extrapolating more here than the other two theories because I know them better, but correct any misrepresentations I am forming).

(1d) I'm not saying we need to look at your view; your view is irrelevant to your critique in this thread. But just to pick up on what has been said (admittedly without the needed fuller context of your thought here) I think you have rejected all three being true, but still believe there are real, fixed moral values on certain actions, at least for humans. You have seemed to put forth a specific desire (the utilitarian desire) as being what is the moral value of goodness, but I don't see any way that works (in a non-subjective way). It's just one desire against other competing desires, all held by different individuals. The question you are trying to answer is which moral desire has the value of moral goodness. To say the one that matches the utilitarian desire is to beg the question. But like I said, this would be an unfair place to stop since you have not been trying to fully explain your view.

wiploc wrote:You're saying it's a live option, but I don't see any way gods could make that happen. Are we supposed to believe it's magic? Why should anybody obey magic? What would be the point?
Maybe this fits here? What do you mean by "magic"? I'm saying through the creative process. Are you saying that creation out of nothing is "magic"? Something else?

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Post #83

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(2) Are we obligated to act in ways that match up with these moral values? Do we have moral duties?

(2a) Intelligent creators. I've said how it seems to me that people who invent things can do whatever they want with them. I don't understand why you don't think that is the case. Why must a potter make a piece of pottery in a certain way? Why must a computer programmer make a program in a specific way? A computer programmer could create whatever rules it wanted to. There is nothing within the program itself that can constrain what the programmer chooses, including what the programmer makes good for its pixelated creatures (or whatever). The programmer makes it good for feature X to think action A is good and action B is bad. And then makes a moral command that "action A is good."

Of course there are constraints in this example, but those come from outside the program, from the environment that is responsible for making the programmer who he is. What is technologically possible? Those kinds of things. On the intelligent creator view there is nothing outside of the creator that is responsible for the creator being what it is. So we can't push that part of the analogy, we must focus on the prior part.

In my specific view God gives moral commands to humans, (i.e., gives humans moral duties) which match up with the value judgments God created them with. Because a creator has no constraints and can choose to do this. The law giver is outside of human opinion. Yes, a turtle is too, but a turtle is not the inventor of humans.

In the scorpion god scenario, scorpion god gives moral commands to humans which go against the value judgments scorpion god created humans with. The difference is enough to make this scenario irrelevant as a critique of my view, I think.

(2b) The Platonic-like abstract explanation provides us with no obligations, accepting it on its own terms. Moral duties or moral laws require a law giver. There is no law-giver on this view. All we have are abstract objects and abstract objects have no causal power. These abstract forms just attach themselves to certain actions on their own. Or if we say that we are somehow obligated by the form of goodness to do good things, why aren't we also obligated by the form of badness to do bad things? What would account for that difference?

(2c) On the physical reductionist view of morals, it seems to me, we simply do good or bad things because of our physical characteristics of goodness/badness and so there are no duties because we can't do otherwise.

(2d) What about a law-giver on your view? If it is the individual, then it is not moral realism by definition. If it is society as a whole, then doesn't it become majority power wins? I think you've rejected that and it ends in subjectivity, anyway. If just having the desire obligates us, then different people have different obligations because some people don't have the utilitarian desire.


This section is where the ownership talk comes in from me.
wiploc wrote:To the extent that we're talking about the regular kind of ownership with which mortal humans are familiar, this does not give the ability to dictate morality. And to the extent that we're discussing some X-factor, some incomprehensible characteristic of gods, you haven't given us any reason to believe it gives the ability to dictate morality.
wiploc wrote:I maybe understand what you're saying here....But that's not a fair representation of my position. My position is that (a) slaveholders don't get to dictate morality in any world, and (b) if they did get to dictate morality, then that ability would exist in all worlds.
I think this is misapplying the analogy. The analogy is that the idea of slave ownership DOES involve putting obligations on slaves. That's what is involved in our common human notion of ownership. Slave ownership was the idea that the owner has certain rights to place obligations and duties on what they own and people used to (and still do in many places) think they can do this with fellow humans. Potters can do what they want with their pots. I can command things of my dog. My cats don't listen, but that's a different matter. This is the ownership we are familiar with, not a mysterious X-factor.

I think you are getting confused because you and I both agree that slavery is a false claim of ownership, tying in to your point (a). But the analogy is talking about true claims of ownership. If slavery was a true claim of ownership, then humans DO have the right to place obligations on fellow humans. It is not a true claim either on my theistic view (because God owns every human) or on atheistic views (because no being naturally owns another). This is not special pleading at all. It's following the self-professed beliefs of these worldviews.
wiploc wrote:When I use your logic, slave owners are owners, therefore they can dictate moral obligations in a godless world.
That is not my logic. Let's apply the analogy to theism and atheism equally.

P1: Ownership means having the right to place obligations on what you own. [my logic]
P2: If theism is true, God owns humans.
C: Therefore, God has the right to place obligations on humans.

P1: Ownership means having the right to place obligations on what you own. [my logic]
P2: If atheism is true, no being owns humans.
C: Therefore, humans have no obligations being placed on them.

This is the normal idea of ownership. This is the same logic (the same P1) being used in both arguments. The difference is in what the worldview says for itself concerning whether humans are owned or not (P2 is different). It's not special pleading; it reflects what these views claim for themselves.

But there is ownership on atheism because we had slavery, you say. No, on atheism, this is a false claim of ownership. Naturally, no human owns another. Slavery is a human convention.
wiploc wrote:We don't automatically own our own inventions. Even if those circumstances in which we do own an invention, that ownership claim is against other people, other potential owners. If the invention has personhood, our claims of ownership don't have primacy over what you would describe as the invention's claim to own itself.
What is it about personhood that means you can't be owned? It's not a part of the definition itself. You are trying to critique my view. Analogically, that is like a potter and a pot or a pet owner and a pet, not a human and a human. The God-human relationship is of different kinds of beings. So, our agreement that human persons can't own other human persons is irrelevant here.

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Post #84

Post by The Tanager »

(3) Why should we choose to follow these moral duties? What is our motivation?

(3a) This could be different things: fear of punishment, promise of a future separate reward, because it will personally give us the happiest life, probably some other things.

My theistic worldview speaks of God creating us in a specific way where we will be the happiest if we follow those duties that tell us to choose things that coincide with our inherent moral value judgments. Our motivation matches the duties, so we will be motivated to do good things.

Of course it gets more clouded when free will comes into the picture. At some point we start to desire things that go against our natural moral conscience (because we have free will). Then arises the chance of having a competition between our appetitive desires and maybe what we rationally feel is the right thing to do. Our reason and appetite conflict; we have conflicting motivations. Our moral law tells us to side with one over the other (it motivates us). We have the freedom to ignore that law.

In your counter scenario, the scorpion god gives us duties that tell us to choose what we naturally (appetite-wise) see as morally bad things. Our motivation here directly contradicts our duties, so we won't be motivated to do them.

(3b) I don't see any deciding motivator here. The abstract forms attach to whatever for whatever reason, so if we get pleasure out of actions that the form of badness attaches to and less benefit from actions that the form of goodness attach to, then we are motivated to do bad things. Or vice versa.

(3c) We don't have motivation here, we have determinism.

(3d) In your view, the utilitarian is motivated to follow the utilitarian desire and the egoist is motivated to follow the egoistic desire. The egoist has no motivation to follow the utilitarian desire.

But what about the nontheist on my view? What motivation is there for them? Foundationally, the same as the theist. Both theist and nontheist are built with the moral value judgment that rape is bad. They both have the moral law from within. The theist would have the added motivator of hearing from God as well, but the nontheist still has the motivation to do good.

wiploc wrote:If I want you to be nice to people, and a god wants you to be nice to people, how does one of those have more effect than the other?
I think this fits here? If we are talking about the Creator in my theistic concept, then we are talking about comparing a being that made me, knows me, knows all about reality, knows what is best for me, wants want is best for me versus a being (you) who is a fellow limited being like me trying to make sense of a complex reality. But you could actually appeal to the same reasoning God would and have the same effect. But maybe that was not what you meant about having an effect on my choice.

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Post #85

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The Tanager wrote: You have seemed to put forth a specific desire (the utilitarian desire) as being what is the moral value of goodness, but I don't see any way that works (in a non-subjective way). It's just one desire against other competing desires, all held by different individuals.
How is that different than your theory which inexplicably privileges a god's desires above those held by different individuals?



The question you are trying to answer is which moral desire has the value of moral goodness.
I'm a utilitarian. I'm not "trying" to answer it; I've given my answer.



To say the one that matches the utilitarian desire is to beg the question.
If so, then so does your answer. You say that god's desires are good, or following his orders are good, but you can't give a better justification for that than I give for my answer.



But like I said, this would be an unfair place to stop since you have not been trying to fully explain your view.
Just like you can't say why we should obey gods/creators/sustainers/owners. Maybe I don't have anything better than, "It's good to be good," or, "It's good to be nice to people," or, "It's good to make people happy," or, "Happiness is good," but you don't seem to have anything better than, "It's good to follow orders," or, "Whatever gods want is good."

You come up to that point, and then you just stop. You act like I should understand why following a god's orders is good, but you can't won't explain why it should be good.

I think I've explained my view at least as fully as you have explained yours.



wiploc wrote:You're saying it's a live option, but I don't see any way gods could make that happen. Are we supposed to believe it's magic? Why should anybody obey magic? What would be the point?
Maybe this fits here? What do you mean by "magic"? I'm saying through the creative process. Are you saying that creation out of nothing is "magic"? Something else?
Christians denigrate other people's supernatural powers and events as "magic." "I don't believe in magic," they say, as a way of dismissing other people's gods and miracles.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right, so I have adopted the Christian practice. If I don't believe in a miracle, I call it "magic."

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Post #86

Post by The Tanager »

I'm not sure if you are wanting to take this one section at a time or if I'm answering too soon, but here you go.

(1) Moral values
wiploc wrote:How is that different than your theory which inexplicably privileges a god's desires above those held by different individuals?
As far as I can tell, you are saying the standard of all human actions is a desire that some humans naturally have and other humans naturally do not have. I'm saying the standard of all human actions is something that every human has built into them.
wiploc wrote:
Quote:

To say the one that matches the utilitarian desire is to beg the question.

If so, then so does your answer. You say that god's desires are good, or following his orders are good, but you can't give a better justification for that than I give for my answer.
Joe has the egoist desire. Sara has the utilitarian desire. They are having a moral disagreement over which one is the right desire to have. Sara says "I am right, because..." why?

According to you, because her desire matches the utilitarian desire. We already know that. We are asking why the utilitarian desire is the right one to have. To say "because it is the right one to have" clearly begs the question.

According to me, Sara is right because it matches the desire built into her and every other human. It was built in by the Creator. She is working as she was created to work. Why was she (and Joe) created to work in that way? Because God is impartial in His love and wanted to make humans with that same ability. My answer is not circular.

You can then take my response a step further. Why does God get to decide the way humans are? At that level, who or what else is there to decide? The Creator gets to decide. We can say "I don't agree with the way the creator did it?" Joe, the egoist, thinks that. Okay, so what? That doesn't change the fact of what moral value was built into human reality.
wiploc wrote:Just like you can't say why we should obey gods/creators/sustainers/owners. Maybe I don't have anything better than, "It's good to be good," or, "It's good to be nice to people," or, "It's good to make people happy," or, "Happiness is good," but you don't seem to have anything better than, "It's good to follow orders," or, "Whatever gods want is good."
I'm saying that "It's good to work how you were intended to work." For humans that includes moral truths; for sharks it doesn't. It's good to be nice to people because humans are truly happier beings when they are nice to people because that is the way they were designed by God because God likes to be loving towards others and wanted beings who would be the same to share in that love.

Now, let's compare where we stop. You seem to me to stop at a desire held by some humans, but not all. This is an unintelligent source that somehow has an affect on beings that don't even have this desire. I stop at an intelligent source that has an affect on all humans. When we are talking about "shoulds" I think an intelligent source with certain desires responsible for and concerned in all humans makes more sense than an unintelligent source present in part of the human population as an explanation of moral truths affecting every human.
wiploc wrote:Christians denigrate other people's supernatural powers and events as "magic." "I don't believe in magic," they say, as a way of dismissing other people's gods and miracles.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right, so I have adopted the Christian practice. If I don't believe in a miracle, I call it "magic."
Are you saying that you didn't have a real critique here? You just wanted to say "I don't believe it is true" in a way that imitated some jerks? If it is more than that, then what do you mean by saying you can't see how gods could create a moral nature within humans?

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Post #87

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The Tanager wrote: I'm not sure if you are wanting to take this one section at a time or if I'm answering too soon, but here you go.
I feel like a skipped something three to five posts back, but I may never get back to whatever that was. We've probably superseded it anyway.

You aren't beforehand. Let me know if I skipped something you want me to address.



(1) Moral values
wiploc wrote:How is that different than your theory which inexplicably privileges a god's desires above those held by different individuals?
As far as I can tell, you are saying the standard of all human actions is a desire that some humans naturally have and other humans naturally do not have. I'm saying the standard of all human actions is something that every human has built into them.
Joe and Sara disagree, so, when I argue, you claim that means they have conflicting desires. But then you say that if gods exist, they have the same desires. Which is it? You don't get to switch back and forth when you find it convenient.

If they have the same desires because gods achieved that thru evolution, then they have the same desires if evolution happened without gods. If they have different desires because there is no god, then they also have different desires if there are gods.

Their actual desires are the same regardless of whether gods exist.



wiploc wrote:
Quote:

To say the one that matches the utilitarian desire is to beg the question.

If so, then so does your answer. You say that god's desires are good, or following his orders are good, but you can't give a better justification for that than I give for my answer.
Joe has the egoist desire. Sara has the utilitarian desire. They are having a moral disagreement over which one is the right desire to have. Sara says "I am right, because..." why?

According to you, because her desire matches the utilitarian desire. We already know that. We are asking why the utilitarian desire is the right one to have. To say "because it is the right one to have" clearly begs the question.
Happiness is good. Making people happy is good. At times you agree with this, and even base your case on it.



According to me, Sara is right because it matches the desire built into her and every other human.
But not, according to you (sometimes) built into Joe. And when I ask why it's good to follow a desire built into you, you have no more answer than me.

Are the Daleks morally obligated to obliterate humanity because that was programmed into them by their creator? If yes, why? And why aren't you okay with the scorpion god?

We are asking why the desire to follow the orders of your creator is the right desire to have. To say, "Because it is the right one to have," clearly begs the question.



It was built in by the Creator.
So what? You can never say why that's significant. To say, "It's significant because it's significant," clearly begs the question.



She is working as she was created to work. Why was she (and Joe) created to work in that way? Because God is impartial in His love and wanted to make humans with that same ability. My answer is not circular.
Love is good right? Makes people happy? You're back working my side of the street. If it weren't that following orders made people happy, what would be the point?

And don't say, "Working as you are created to work is good because that's how you are created to work," because that clearly begs the question.

Your answer looks circular, but if there's something I'm not getting, help me out.



You can then take my response a step further. Why does God get to decide the way humans are? At that level, who or what else is there to decide? The Creator gets to decide.
You made that up. There's no reason to believe it. And don't say the creator gets to decide because he's the creator, because that clearly begs the question.



We can say "I don't agree with the way the creator did it?" Joe, the egoist, thinks that. Okay, so what? That doesn't change the fact of what moral value was built into human reality.
Why should we care about what moral values would be built into us if there were gods? What if those were bad values? Should we still go along with them? Shouldn't we prefer good values to built-in values? What would be the point of following built-in values? What would be good about that? Why should anybody want to do that?

Don't just say that they are good because they are built in. That would clearly beg the question.

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Post #88

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The Tanager wrote:
wiploc wrote:Just like you can't say why we should obey gods/creators/sustainers/owners. Maybe I don't have anything better than, "It's good to be good," or, "It's good to be nice to people," or, "It's good to make people happy," or, "Happiness is good," but you don't seem to have anything better than, "It's good to follow orders," or, "Whatever gods want is good."
I'm saying that "It's good to work how you were intended to work."
But why are you saying it? I can see that it would be good if it made people happy, but would there be anything good about it if it didn't?



For humans that includes moral truths; for sharks it doesn't. It's good to be nice to people because humans are truly happier beings when they are nice to people because that is the way they were designed by God because God likes to be loving towards others and wanted beings who would be the same to share in that love.
Now you're back making my case for me. Following orders is good because it increases happiness. That would work for me if I believed it was true. But for you it's a problem, because you claim it begs the question. When I offer that as an answer, you say it's not good enough.

So what makes it good enough to be your answer when it's not good enough to be my answer?



Now, let's compare where we stop. You seem to me to stop at a desire held by some humans, but not all. This is an unintelligent source that somehow has an affect on beings that don't even have this desire. I stop at an intelligent source that has an affect on all humans. When we are talking about "shoulds" I think an intelligent source with certain desires responsible for and concerned in all humans makes more sense than an unintelligent source present in part of the human population as an explanation of moral truths affecting every human.
Let's have three hypothetical scenarios:

A. An intelligent good god created us via evolution; he wants us to be happy.

B. An intelligent bad god created us via evolution; he wants us to be miserable.

C. Evolution "created" us without an intelligence, but we somehow wind up programmed to try to make each other happy.

If I understand your current position, you think that in situation A, we ought to try to make each other happy; and in situation B, we ought to try to make each other miserable; and in situation C there is no obligation. Do I have that right?

Myself, I think we should try to make each other happy in all three situations. Because I think happiness is good. You disagree because, if I understand--and I'm not betting that I do understand--you think following orders is good.

Half the time, you agree with me that making people happy is good. The rest of the time you can't see any point to it.

A hundred percent of the time, I don't see the point of following orders unless it makes people happy.

You make no attempt to justify your claim that following orders is good. Half the time--when you aren't using utilitarian justifications yourself--you can't see any reason to make people happy.

But somehow you think your position is justified and defended, and mine is not.



Christians denigrate other people's supernatural powers and events as "magic." "I don't believe in magic," they say, as a way of dismissing other people's gods and miracles.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right, so I have adopted the Christian practice. If I don't believe in a miracle, I call it "magic."
Are you saying that you didn't have a real critique here? You just wanted to say "I don't believe it is true" in a way that imitated some jerks? If it is more than that, then what do you mean by saying you can't see how gods could create a moral nature within humans?... what do you mean by saying you can't see how gods could create a moral nature within humans?
I mean that I don't get it. I don't see how it could be done. If a god waved a wand and said, "Let there be a moral obligation to punch the person on your left in the face," I don't think people would be obliged to do that.

If it would be for the greater good, if it would make people happy, then maybe there's a case for it. But absent that, I don't see how there could possibly be a resulting moral obligation. It's the same as when you intermittently see no moral obligation to make people happy.

And please note I didn't call them jerks. Many good people use "magic" as the word to describe miracles they don't believe in. I intend no insult when I use the term myself.

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Post #89

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I think you are still confusing different questions. (1) Moral Values - Why is it that 'helping others is morally good' is a fact for humans? (2) Moral Duties - Are we morally obligated to do certain actions? (3) Moral Motivations - Why would we want to perform our moral obligation and/or do what is morally good? You responded to a post of mine that was wholly about (1), but some of your critiques are about the questions of (2) and (3).
wiploc wrote:Joe and Sara disagree, so, when I argue, you claim that means they have conflicting desires. But then you say that if gods exist, they have the same desires. Which is it? You don't get to switch back and forth when you find it convenient.

If they have the same desires because gods achieved that thru evolution, then they have the same desires if evolution happened without gods. If they have different desires because there is no god, then they also have different desires if there are gods.

Their actual desires are the same regardless of whether gods exist.
I see that I wrongly and confusingly used "desire" to refer to our moral conscience. Yes, you should have thought I was switching back and forth for no good reason. To clarify, I think the moral conscience is something all humans have that exists alongside our various desires and that our conscience tells us to side with one desire over another.
wiploc wrote:Are the Daleks morally obligated to obliterate humanity because that was programmed into them by their creator? If yes, why?
I want to answer all three questions I shared above in response to this to try to avoid confusion. And actually a fourth one that precedes them all. I'm not a Doctor Who expert, but I thought the Daleks did not have free will. If that is true, then I don't see how they could be moral creatures at all. If you are determined to think and act in a certain way, how can you have any moral responsibility concerning your thoughts and actions?

But that question aside. (1) Why is it that 'obliterating humanity is morally good' is a fact for Daleks? Because that value judgment was programmed into them to have by their creator. Why? I guess because their programmer did not like humans.

(2) Are Daleks morally obligated to do certain actions? If they are owned by anyone, then the owner could place moral obligations on them. I don't know if they are owned by anyone in the Doctor Who worldview.

(3) Why would Daleks want to perform their moral obligation (if it exists) and/or do what is morally good for Daleks? I'm not sure if they feel happiness, but if they did, because of the way they were made, they would enjoy obliterating humanity. If they don't have free will, then they simply must try to obliterate humanity and motivation doesn't play a role in that.
wiploc wrote:And why aren't you okay with the scorpion god?
This is not question (1) above, but question (3). Let's try to provide the entire context, though. What is the moral situation? Being stung to death. What is the moral value that scorpion god gave humans? He created humans to dislike being stung or, in other words, to think that being stung was morally bad. So, let's ask our first question from above: (1) Why is it that being stung is morally good for humans? Because scorpion god made them to think that way.

But then you say that scorpion god issued a command that it is a duty for all humans to willingly come to him to be stung to death (i.e., do something that we just said was morally evil for humans). Question (2) involves whether we are morally obligated. The common notion of ownership means that an owner gets to put obligations on their property. If scorpion god own us, then he gets to put any obligation on us he wants. Even cruel and irrational ones. Well, since your scenario is meant to mirror my view as much as possible, scorpion god does own us, so we do have an obligation. Of course in this scenario it's an obligation to do what scorpion god determined was morally evil for us to do.

Now we can finally get to your question above. Why aren't I okay with the scorpion god? This isn't asking what is moral goodness for humans or what is our moral obligation, it is asking about our moral motivation. Would I be motivated to follow scorpion god's obligation of me? No. Why not? Because I'm rejecting every logic I've used in defense of my own view since I don't like the conclusion? Not at all. I'm following the logic of everything that I just said in the previous paragraph. Our motivation comes out of how we were created. We were created to dislike being stung. We were created to find ultimate happiness in not being stung. Scorpion god created us in a way that would keep us from being motivated to follow its commands. So, in your scenario, I'm not okay with the scorpion god's commands because of how the scorpion god made me.

Why is this scenario significant in regards to countering my view?
wiploc wrote:We are asking why the desire to follow the orders of your creator is the right desire to have. To say, "Because it is the right one to have," clearly begs the question.
Which of the three main questions are you asking here? (1) Why is it that 'following the orders of your creator is morally good' is a fact for humans? If this is what you are asking, then my view would be that God built that desire into us because God is concerned about our ultimate happiness and God's orders will lead us to our ultimate happiness. That's not saying "because it is the right one to have."

Or (2) are we morally obligated to follow the orders of our creator? That is where the ownership talk comes in. That's not saying "because it is the right one to have."

Or (3) why would we want to follow the orders of our creator? Here, I am on the same side of the street as you. Reality is such that doing this results in our ultimate happiness. That's not saying "because it is the right one to have."

Or if it's something else, then you will need to clarify your question for me.
wiploc wrote:So what? You can never say why that's significant. To say, "It's significant because it's significant," clearly begs the question.
Can you rephrase your question, because I'm not understanding what you are asking. It would help if you would phrase it in line with one (or two or all three) of the three main kinds of questions I've talked about.
wiploc wrote:Love is good right? Makes people happy? You're back working my side of the street. If it weren't that following orders made people happy, what would be the point?

And don't say, "Working as you are created to work is good because that's how you are created to work," because that clearly begs the question.

Your answer looks circular, but if there's something I'm not getting, help me out.
You are confusing the explanation of moral values (1) with moral motivation (3). I was talking about (1). Why do we have certain moral values, if my theory is true? God created us with those moral value judgments (the conscience). Why did God create us that way? God's desire. What is God's desire? To make humans who would love each other impartially.

Your question of "why should we do what God wants us to do?" is about (3). I wasn't answering that question. When you ask that different question, then I am working your side of the street. Our motivation is to do what brings us ultimate happiness and what brings us ultimate happiness is based on our nature.

So, let's push this further. Why does that bring us ultimate happiness? Now we are back on issue (1). On my view God made us in such a way that we gain ultimate happiness through seeking the good of others. On your view, it seems to me, nature made some of us so that we gain ultimate happiness through seeking the good of others and made others of us so that they gain ultimate happiness through seeking to please themselves. That's a different consequence of our worldviews taken at face value.
wiploc wrote:Quote:
You can then take my response a step further. Why does God get to decide the way humans are? At that level, who or what else is there to decide? The Creator gets to decide.
You made that up. There's no reason to believe it. And don't say the creator gets to decide because he's the creator, because that clearly begs the question.
It is just following out the logic. On theism, there was a "time" when God existed and the universe did not. God is the only one who could bring the universe into existence because nothing else existed as a possible cause. That is the point we are asking the question "why does God get to decide how the universe should be"? God is the only one in existence who could have a say. There is literally nothing else that could make the choice. That's what I was saying there.
wiploc wrote:Why should we care about what moral values would be built into us if there were gods?
This is question (3) and my answer is the same as yours: because it will bring us ultimate happiness.
wiploc wrote:What if those were bad values? Should we still go along with them?
What do you mean that bad values were built into us? That god made it so that humans think rape is morally good and raping would bring us ultimate happiness (this is question 1)? And now you are asking question (3) given that scenario? We would choose to rape because it would bring us ultimate happiness (as designed by god).

Do you mean that god made it so that humans think rape is morally bad and, therefore, helping others instead will bring us ultimate happiness (question 1), but that god commands us to rape each other anyway (question 2)? If so, this is the scorpion god scenario and I've answered question 3 in that regard at above.

Do you mean that god made it so that humans think rape is morally good, but designed us in such a way that not raping will bring us ultimate happiness, but god designed us to seek our happiness (this is question 1)? If so, concerning question 3, we would choose not to rape because it would bring us ultimate happiness.

Are you asking something different?
wiploc wrote:Shouldn't we prefer good values to built-in values? What would be the point of following built-in values? What would be good about that? Why should anybody want to do that?

Don't just say that they are good because they are built in. That would clearly beg the question.
I'm not sure I understand your questions here. On theism (generally speaking) and concerning question 1, I am saying that God can build in human value judgments to be that X is good or X is bad. It's up to God to make it so that we believe X is good or bad.

On your view it is up to nature. Nature, in your view, produces people who believe X is good and people who believe X is bad. But then, somehow, one sort of person is right and the other is wrong, although there is no impartial standard to judge that.
Last edited by The Tanager on Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post #90

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wiploc wrote:Now you're back making my case for me. Following orders is good because it increases happiness. That would work for me if I believed it was true. But for you it's a problem, because you claim it begs the question. When I offer that as an answer, you say it's not good enough.

So what makes it good enough to be your answer when it's not good enough to be my answer?
It's a good enough answer to the question about moral motivations. Neither of us begs the question there. Why should we want to do what is morally good for humans to do? Because it creates more ultimate happiness for us than if we chose the alternative. There we are on the same side of the street.

But then you move to another street and you apply this answer to a completely different question, issue (1). That is where you beg the question. I am not begging the question there because I'm not applying the above to issue (1), I keep it only in issue (3).

How does it beg the question in (1)? What is the question there? It's not why should we do what is morally good? It is what is morally good? Is it morally good to increase happiness in others or to act selfishly. It is morally good to increase happiness. Why? Here you say "because it increases happiness". I give a different answer. "Because that is what God decided would be morally good for humans." Your answer begs the question, mine gives a further explanation of how that truth came to be.
wiploc wrote:If I understand your current position, you think that in situation A, we ought to try to make each other happy; and in situation B, we ought to try to make each other miserable; and in situation C there is no obligation. Do I have that right?

Myself, I think we should try to make each other happy in all three situations. Because I think happiness is good. You disagree because, if I understand--and I'm not betting that I do understand--you think following orders is good.
It depends on which of the three questions you are asking. Could you rephrase this?
wiploc wrote:And please note I didn't call them jerks. Many good people use "magic" as the word to describe miracles they don't believe in. I intend no insult when I use the term myself.
No, I called them jerks. Good people can be jerks at times. When they are, they are jerks. You said Christians that do this 'denigrate' others. Denigrate is not usually seen as a positive quality. I didn't even initially think you were trying to insult by using the term 'magic'. I was just trying to understand what you meant.
wiploc wrote:I mean that I don't get it. I don't see how it could be done. If a god waved a wand and said, "Let there be a moral obligation to punch the person on your left in the face," I don't think people would be obliged to do that.

If it would be for the greater good, if it would make people happy, then maybe there's a case for it. But absent that, I don't see how there could possibly be a resulting moral obligation. It's the same as when you intermittently see no moral obligation to make people happy.
Concerning question 1, it is a question of whether God can create humans with certain built in moral value judgments. Are you saying that doesn't make sense that a creator could create such a thing?

Concerning question 2, it is a question of whether God owns us or not. If you still don't understand what I'm saying there, it would be helpful to hear your thoughts concerning post 81 in this thread.

Your second paragraph, however is about question 3, us being motivated to act in a certain way. That's a different question than obligation.

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