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bluegreenearth
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:27 pm  Is Morality Objective or Subjective? Reply with quote

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

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

Please be polite and patient with me in your responses. Thank you.
Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 31: Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:55 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

Perhaps I am misreading your question. I'll ask questions now instead of possibly running with my misunderstandings and confusing things further. When you say that we can't objectively demonstrate which theology is true, what do you mean? That we can be 100% certain? That no theology is more plausible than another? Something else?


The criteria for distinguishing true claims from false claims is determined by the epistemology being used. Most theologies are built upon their own customized epistemological foundations. Therefore, each theology will have its own criteria for determining which claims are true and which claims are false. For example, when the claim about Mohammed flying to heaven on a winged horse is examined using the epistemology at the foundation of Christianity, the result is that the claim must be rejected as being less plausible because it fails to satisfy the Christian's criteria for truth. Of course, when the same claim is examined using the Muslim's epistemology, the result is that the claim is determined to be true because it satisfies the Muslim's criteria for truth. So, unless everyone can agree to use the same epistemology, it won't be possible to objectively demonstrate which theology is true.

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I think we are talking at two different levels here. I've been talking about the generic level where it is only a question of objectivism vs. subjectivism. If one sides with objectivism at that level, then there would be a secondary question of which objectivist system should be the default. You are combining those two together into one question, but I think we need to distinguish the levels.


I understand the distinction. However, assuming an objective morality exists on a general level has no practical application in the effort to determine if morality is actually objective or subjective or in determining which moral system we should all follow. This isn't a problem if we treat every moral system as if they were subjective moralities competing with each other for selection and reproduction or until one is potentially demonstrated to be the objective morality we should all follow. Furthermore, treating every moral system as if it were subjective does not preclude us from accepting the possibility that morality is objective. Meanwhile, assuming objectivity on the outset does preclude us from considering the possibility that morality is subjective.

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Of course the objectivist will side with the specific objectivist morality that they subjectively prefer. It's logically impossible to prefer the morality you don't prefer. This says nothing about whether morality is objective or subjective, however. Or which one should be the default. Why assume subjectivism over general objectivism (regardless of the difficulty of pinning down the exact objectivism) as the default?


See my response above.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 32: Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:13 pm
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I've been addressing the question of whether morality is objective or subjective, which seems to be the title of this thread. On that question I don't think either option should be treated as the default by mere assumption. That's why I asked you to defend why subjectivism should be the default...at this level.

You seem to be focusing on a different question right now. Which specific moral system should we follow? I don't see how that question makes sense on subjectivism. If morality is subjective, then there is no moral "should" for there is no right or wrong. If people happen to prefer the same goals, then there could be discussion over how best to obtain that goal but why call this "morality"? Choosing a diet would be equally a "moral" decision.

bluegreenearth wrote:
The criteria for distinguishing true claims from false claims is determined by the epistemology being used. Most theologies are built upon their own customized epistemological foundations. Therefore, each theology will have its own criteria for determining which claims are true and which claims are false. For example, when the claim about Mohammed flying to heaven on a winged horse is examined using the epistemology at the foundation of Christianity, the result is that the claim must be rejected as being less plausible because it fails to satisfy the Christian's criteria for truth. Of course, when the same claim is examined using the Muslim's epistemology, the result is that the claim is determined to be true because it satisfies the Muslim's criteria for truth. So, unless everyone can agree to use the same epistemology, it won't be possible to objectively demonstrate which theology is true.


A few things. First, this would not just be a feature of religious worldviews. The same goes for secular worldviews. Second, every worldview does not have its own epistemology. There can be adherents of a worldview, for example, who disagree on the correct epistemology. Third, even if we could agree upon an epistemology and the facts to apply it to, this would do nothing to objectively prove which worldview is true.

What is your epistemology? Let's start there. Also, it would be helpful for you to explain what level of certainty you think one should be after.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 33: Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:23 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

I've been addressing the question of whether morality is objective or subjective, which seems to be the title of this thread. On that question I don't think either option should be treated as the default by mere assumption. That's why I asked you to defend why subjectivism should be the default...at this level.


I understood your perspective and have already demonstrated where the actual existence of multiple competing moral systems makes it logically contradictory to assume human morality is objective on a generic level. If we assume human morality is objective on a generic level, we should expect objectivity to manifest through humanity in the form of a single generic moral system. We do not observe a single generic moral system manifested in humanity, but we do observe multiple competing moral systems. If an objective human morality exists, then it is not manifested through humanity in any detectable way. Meanwhile, the morality that is manifested through humanity is only detectable in the form of multiple moralities perceived as being subjective. Therefore, the burden of proof resides with anyone claiming that one of those human moralities which are perceived as being subjective is actually objective.

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You seem to be focusing on a different question right now. Which specific moral system should we follow? I don't see how that question makes sense on subjectivism. If morality is subjective, then there is no moral "should" for there is no right or wrong. If people happen to prefer the same goals, then there could be discussion over how best to obtain that goal but why call this "morality"? Choosing a diet would be equally a "moral" decision.


Actually, the question being asked is which "objective" moral system should we follow from the list of candidate objective moralities. Since there can only be one objective morality, all but one of the existing moral systems competing with each other for the title of "objective morality" will be subjective. Unfortunately, the reality we experience does not provide us with a way to determine if the particular system of morality we happen to endorse is the one that is objective or just another subjective morality. As such, whichever moral system is the objective standard still has to compete for selection and reproduction through the process of natural selection in the same way as it would if there were no such thing as an objective morality. So, in that sense, assuming an objective morality exists on a generic level does not bring us any closer to answering the question of what is morally right or wrong either.

Quote:
A few things. First, this would not just be a feature of religious worldviews. The same goes for secular worldviews. Second, every worldview does not have its own epistemology. There can be adherents of a worldview, for example, who disagree on the correct epistemology. Third, even if we could agree upon an epistemology and the facts to apply it to, this would do nothing to objectively prove which worldview is true.


I agree with this portion of your response as it demonstrates my point about the futility of arguing for an objective morality.

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What is your epistemology? Let's start there. Also, it would be helpful for you to explain what level of certainty you think one should be after.


I describe my epistemology at the following link:

http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=977255#977255

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 34: Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:12 pm
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[Replying to post 33 by bluegreenearth]

Thank you for explaining your epistemology.

bluegreenearth wrote:
I understood your perspective and have already demonstrated where the actual existence of multiple competing moral systems makes it logically contradictory to assume human morality is objective on a generic level.


I knew you had claimed it, but I am sorry for missing the demonstration.

bluegreenearth wrote:
If we assume human morality is objective on a generic level, we should expect objectivity to manifest through humanity in the form of a single generic moral system.


Why should we expect that?

bluegreenearth wrote:
We do not observe a single generic moral system manifested in humanity, but we do observe multiple competing moral systems.


Could you support this further? For instance, many claim that all moral systems have the same basic moral principles, yet apply them to different beliefs about reality and that the difference of belief leads to the seemingly different moral systems, rather than the underlying morality.

bluegreenearth wrote:
If an objective human morality exists, then it is not manifested through humanity in any detectable way.


What do you mean here? That the objectivity of morality is not manifested or that specific moral judgments are not manifested as being clearly, objectively true? Something else?

bluegreenearth wrote:
Meanwhile, the morality that is manifested through humanity is only detectable in the form of multiple moralities perceived as being subjective. Therefore, the burden of proof resides with anyone claiming that one of those human moralities which are perceived as being subjective is actually objective.


I would say that, at least, most people's intuitions involve perceiving morality as being objectively true. But maybe I misunderstand you there.

bluegreenearth wrote:
Actually, the question being asked is which "objective" moral system should we follow from the list of candidate objective moralities.


Yes, if objectivism is true, then this is a valid question. But if subjectivism is true, this question seems meaningless.

bluegreenearth wrote:
Unfortunately, the reality we experience does not provide us with a way to determine if the particular system of morality we happen to endorse is the one that is objective or just another subjective morality.


It does not give us certainty, but cases can be made as to why one makes more sense than another. We try to use reason to back up our case as the strongest. But our other beliefs about reality factor in as well. With free will, we have personal responsibility to do the best we can.

bluegreenearth wrote:
As such, whichever moral system is the objective standard still has to compete for selection and reproduction through the process of natural selection in the same way as it would if there were no such thing as an objective morality.


So do scientific and other theories about objective truths of reality. That something is true does not mean it will be accepted by all immediately or at all.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 35: Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:40 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

bluegreenearth wrote:
I understood your perspective and have already demonstrated where the actual existence of multiple competing moral systems makes it logically contradictory to assume human morality is objective on a generic level.


I knew you had claimed it, but I am sorry for missing the demonstration.


Here is the demonstration:
Does objective morality describe a single moral system shared by everyone? Answer: Yes
Does everyone share a single moral system? Answer: No

Quote:
bluegreenearth wrote:
If we assume human morality is objective on a generic level, we should expect objectivity to manifest through humanity in the form of a single generic moral system.


Why should we expect that?


Why should we expect an objective morality to manifest in the form of multiple competing moral systems accusing each other of being subjective moralities?

Quote:
bluegreenearth wrote:
We do not observe a single generic moral system manifested in humanity, but we do observe multiple competing moral systems.


Could you support this further? For instance, many claim that all moral systems have the same basic moral principles, yet apply them to different beliefs about reality and that the difference of belief leads to the seemingly different moral systems, rather than the underlying morality.


An underlying morality shared by every competing moral system has not been demonstrated to exist. However, for the sake of argument, the process of natural selection would sufficiently explain how such an underlying morality could have developed in us as a social species without any need for morality to be objective.

Quote:
bluegreenearth wrote:
If an objective human morality exists, then it is not manifested through humanity in any detectable way.


What do you mean here? That the objectivity of morality is not manifested or that specific moral judgments are not manifested as being clearly, objectively true? Something else?


Not everyone's moral judgments are manifested as being objectively true by everyone else.

Quote:
bluegreenearth wrote:
Meanwhile, the morality that is manifested through humanity is only detectable in the form of multiple moralities perceived as being subjective. Therefore, the burden of proof resides with anyone claiming that one of those human moralities which are perceived as being subjective is actually objective.


I would say that, at least, most people's intuitions involve perceiving morality as being objectively true. But maybe I misunderstand you there.


Competing moral systems accuse each other of being subjective moralities.

Quote:
bluegreenearth wrote:
Actually, the question being asked is which "objective" moral system should we follow from the list of candidate objective moralities.


Yes, if objectivism is true, then this is a valid question. But if subjectivism is true, this question seems meaningless.


If subjectivism is true, the natural selection process answers that question for us.

Quote:
bluegreenearth wrote:
Unfortunately, the reality we experience does not provide us with a way to determine if the particular system of morality we happen to endorse is the one that is objective or just another subjective morality.


It does not give us certainty, but cases can be made as to why one makes more sense than another. We try to use reason to back up our case as the strongest. But our other beliefs about reality factor in as well. With free will, we have personal responsibility to do the best we can.


Any case that can be made will always be from a subjective perspective. What makes more sense for you might not make sense for someone else. The only way your particular system of morality will succeed is if it manages to survive the process of natural selection more successfully than all the others.

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bluegreenearth wrote:
As such, whichever moral system is the objective standard still has to compete for selection and reproduction through the process of natural selection in the same way as it would if there were no such thing as an objective morality.


So do scientific and other theories about objective truths of reality. That something is true does not mean it will be accepted by all immediately or at all.


This is an invalid comparison because the knowledge we obtain through science is only conditionally accepted as being true. I described this in my epistemology.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 36: Fri Oct 11, 2019 12:30 pm
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bluegreenearth wrote:
Here is the demonstration:
Does objective morality describe a single moral system shared by everyone? Answer: Yes
Does everyone share a single moral system? Answer: No


Objective morality is not the view that everyone agrees upon moral values any more than the objectivity of the shape of the earth involves a claim that everyone agrees with it. Not everyone does. This does not mean the shape of the earth is subjective.

bluegreenearth wrote:
Why should we expect an objective morality to manifest in the form of multiple competing moral systems accusing each other of being subjective moralities?


Human freedom. Now, why do you think we should expect universal human agreement on objective morality, especially since we don't get it on clearer truths such as the shape of the earth?

bluegreenearth wrote:
An underlying morality shared by every competing moral system has not been demonstrated to exist. However, for the sake of argument, the process of natural selection would sufficiently explain how such an underlying morality could have developed in us as a social species without any need for morality to be objective.


There are certainly arguments for it out there and I'd be interested in why you have rejected their claims, but if you feel it is tangential, I'm fine just assuming it is true for the sake of argument.

Why would the process of natural selection sufficiently explain the underlying morality, though? Is this claim falsifiable? Are you saying that different human groups could have evolved different morals (like other social species seem to, such as killing off all males once they have served a specific purpose), but it just so happens that we all evolved the same morals?

bluegreenearth wrote:
Not everyone's moral judgments are manifested as being objectively true by everyone else.


And we still have flat-earthers, too. This doesn't mean the shape of the earth is subjective.

bluegreenearth wrote:
Competing moral systems accuse each other of being subjective moralities.


Of course. That logically follows. Those who think the shape of the earth is objectively true and spherical will view flat-earthers as being subjective in the same way. My point is that most people naturally think there is an objective truth (and obviously usually believe they understand what it probably is). That's why we disagree with each other and talk about how people should act, appeal to some kind of standard others should be using to guide their thoughts, etc.

bluegreenearth wrote:
If subjectivism is true, the natural selection process answers that question for us.


Natural selection might be able to answer which subjective moral system an individual does follow, but it can't answer which one "should" be followed because there is no "should".

bluegreenearth wrote:
Any case that can be made will always be from a subjective perspective. What makes more sense for you might not make sense for someone else. The only way your particular system of morality will succeed is if it manages to survive the process of natural selection more successfully than all the others.


I agree, although I would say "make sense to you/someone else." That doesn't mean there is no objective truth, though.

bluegreenearth wrote:
This is an invalid comparison because the knowledge we obtain through science is only conditionally accepted as being true. I described this in my epistemology.


And we conditionally accept our moral judgments as well. If new evidence comes up, then we should be willing to change our minds. That is what we should do with all of our beliefs, except maybe pure mathematics.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 37: Fri Oct 11, 2019 3:34 pm
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Something that hit me as I've been continuing to think on what you've said. When you say that we see each other as having subjective moralities, I was taking it in the sense of that one is objectively false and, therefore, must be based on subjective preferences. But, in another way to take that thought, I'd say that most people view each other as objectivists as well. Otherwise, it makes no sense to try to convince them that they are wrong. Most people naturally assume the other has a sense of some moral law/standard that they should be following, but for whatever reason they are not. So, in that sense, I'd say we (generally speaking) treat each other as though we are both objectivists, but that we are right and the other is wrong in their objectivism, not that the other is espousing subjectivism.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 38: Fri Oct 11, 2019 3:55 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

And we conditionally accept our moral judgments as well. If new evidence comes up, then we should be willing to change our minds. That is what we should do with all of our beliefs, except maybe pure mathematics.


I was going to respond to each of your other comments in turn, but this particular statement caught all of my attention. If you are willing to consider changing your mind about what is or isn't moral based on new evidence, then that is good enough for me.

At this point, I could care less if you believe morality is objective or subjective as long as you are open to new evidence regarding the morality or immorality of specific actions and behaviors. My only concern about the concept of objective morality was that many theists (not necessarily you) claim the specific version of objective morality prescribed by their God justifies any actions and behaviors performed in accordance with that objective morality even when it results in damages to the well-being of themselves and others.

At least in your case, it appears you are willing to challenge whether any of those "moral" actions and behaviors you've been encouraged by the church to support are actually in accordance with the objective morality you believe exists. I can appreciate that.

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MPG Recipient Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 39: Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:14 pm
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[Replying to post 38 by bluegreenearth]

Unfortunately, many objectivists are not open minded. I thank you for your open mindedness and patience in this discussion with me.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 40: Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:46 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

[Replying to post 38 by bluegreenearth]

Unfortunately, many objectivists are not open minded. I thank you for your open mindedness and patience in this discussion with me.


You're welcome.

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