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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:27 pm
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Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

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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.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:20 am
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Objectivism proposes there is some objective standard and people's opinion often reflects that objective standard; subjectivism proposes people's opinion is all there is to morality. Both adequate explains what we see, subjectivism have less variables and should be preferred according to the principle of parsimony.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:28 am
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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

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[Replying to post 1 by bluegreenearth]

Let's assume morality is carried out by Best Ethics, the Kantian Ethics, and then we have the following:
1. Objective morality: the actions taken, communicative, and by body elsewise.
2. The actual morality by one's mentality which can be subjective. Most often is, but these days can be examined thoroughly by determining inner and outer bio-markers, by lie-detectors questions and more (fMRI).

So, a given morality character by a person can be well determined, quite accurately, by modern day science. "You're not safe!" Very Happy

Study Very Happy Cool

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Wed Aug 21, 2019 8:33 am
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bluegreenearth wrote:
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.


I think there is a difference of terminology going on here. I think theists are talking about human morality being objective. If God is the source of human morality, then God is an objective source, in that sense (which is what the traditional sense has been). There are other logically possible sources, such as Moral Platonism would offer.

Do you think morality is objective in the sense that you use? If so, why?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:05 pm
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Re: Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

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bluegreenearth wrote:
To the best of my ability thus far, I cannot deduce a way to objectively ground morality; even if a God exists.

That is exactly the boat I'm in. Every way I spin it in my head, morality boils down to the question, "What should I do about this?" I can't think of a single situation that doesn't involve the weighing of human options. Even if there are rules that come from a god, we can't agree on what the rules are. Is it "don't kill" or "don't murder?" If it's "don't murder," when is killing not murder? One tack that apologists like to take is to claim that God imprinted some form of morality on our hearts, but perhaps the closest thing to a universal imprinting is "don't kill most other people most of the time." Or maybe, "don't lie unless you have a pretty good reason to."

Even if it were possible in principle to define a moral calculus that would always give an optimal measure of morality by some defined set of moral standards, I don't think we can, even in principle, agree on the standards. Most morality judgements involve weighing personal gain or loss against the gain or loss of another person or group of people. We have good reason to think that higher speed limits lead to more traffic fatalities. Is it ever moral to raise a speed limit? Is it immoral not to lower them all? Should 45 mph be the new pro-life stance? Whenever the tradeoffs are not in kind (lives vs. economy of driving time in this example), there are legitimate, subjective arguments to how the values are weighted.

I don't think that it's possible even in principle to claim an objective standard.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Sun Sep 01, 2019 3:27 pm
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First we have to start with a basis. What is important to us as humans? Can we come to an agreement on what we should base our morals on?

Some may say we should base our morals on the bible
Others may say we should base our morals on personal wellbeing. Ie Let's try to devise a system that is fair to as many people as we possibly can where people should not be harmed in anyway.

So maybe we all agree that the golden rule is important (or some variation of this rule). Something emphatic, where we can ask ourselves "would we want this done to us or our loved ones?"

If we can agree on a basis, then we can come up with objective morals.
ie, Killing someone is not good for the person we are killing. Thus, it's immoral
Stealing from someone is going to hurt the person we steal from. Thus it's immoral.

Easy. We have a system where morals are objective.

Sure there are grey areas. But there always will be and there are grey areas when it comes to the bible too.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 7: Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:08 pm
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The Tanager wrote:

bluegreenearth wrote:
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.


I think there is a difference of terminology going on here. I think theists are talking about human morality being objective. If God is the source of human morality, then God is an objective source, in that sense (which is what the traditional sense has been). There are other logically possible sources, such as Moral Platonism would offer.

Do you think morality is objective in the sense that you use? If so, why?


I don't have the sense that an objective code of behavior can be externally imposed on humanity and be labeled as human morality. Among humans, the concept of morality is intrinsically linked to our internal sense of well-being. When we have the internal sense that a behavior will maximize well-being and minimize unnecessary harm, we label it as being moral.

If an external entity were to impose arbitrary rules of behavior on humanity, then that external entity would be an objective source for that particular set of rules in the sense you've described. We might agree to label those externally imposed rules of behavior as being moral if they are consistent with our internal sense of well-being. We would not be inclined to label those externally imposed rules of behavior as being moral if they are not consistent with or contradict our internal sense of well-being. Therefore, despite having an objective source, the arbitrary rules of behavior imposed on humanity by an external entity would not qualify as human morality.

The decision to behave in accordance with an externally imposed set of rules regardless of whether they are consistent or inconsistent with our internal sense of well-being would be nothing more than blind obedience, not moral behavior. Conversely, it would be moral behavior to disobey externally imposed rules when they are not consistent with or contradict our internal sense of well-being.

Now, acknowledging that morality is subjective is not the same thing as advocating for moral relativism. A superior subjective moral system can still emerge through the process of evolution. The least adaptable subjective moral systems will go extinct while the remaining subjective moral systems continue to compete for survival until humanity collectively arrives at a single subjective moral system that best maximizes well-being and minimizes harm for the most people.

For instance, the Nazi's subjective moral system was eventually superseded by a more democratic subjective moral system because it failed to maximize well-being and minimize unnecessary harm for the most people. The majority of the world's people observed the actions of the Nazi's as being inconsistent with or contradictory to their internal sense of well-being. As such, the Nazi's subjective morality was not selected for reproduction. This process continues today and is often referred to as moral progress. Acceptance of the LGBTQ community and religious pluralism are all indicators of moral progress because these behaviors maximize well-being and minimize unnecessary harm for the most people.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 8: Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:18 pm
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bluegreenearth wrote:
I don't have the sense that an objective code of behavior can be externally imposed on humanity and be labeled as human morality. Among humans, the concept of morality is intrinsically linked to our internal sense of well-being. When we have the internal sense that a behavior will maximize well-being and minimize unnecessary harm, we label it as being moral.

If an external entity were to impose arbitrary rules of behavior on humanity, then that external entity would be an objective source for that particular set of rules in the sense you've described. We might agree to label those externally imposed rules of behavior as being moral if they are consistent with our internal sense of well-being. We would not be inclined to label those externally imposed rules of behavior as being moral if they are not consistent with or contradict our internal sense of well-being. Therefore, despite having an objective source, the arbitrary rules of behavior imposed on humanity by an external entity would not qualify as human morality.

The decision to behave in accordance with an externally imposed set of rules regardless of whether they are consistent or inconsistent with our internal sense of well-being would be nothing more than blind obedience, not moral behavior. Conversely, it would be moral behavior to disobey externally imposed rules when they are not consistent with or contradict our internal sense of well-being.


Ultimately, I would say our inner sense of "well-being" (if I understand how you mean that phrase, but it may be worth pursuing your definition) is a reflection of the desires of this external entity, which itself is not arbitrarily chosen. So those two would go in step with each other.

bluegreenearth wrote:
Now, acknowledging that morality is subjective is not the same thing as advocating for moral relativism. A superior subjective moral system can still emerge through the process of evolution. The least adaptable subjective moral systems will go extinct while the remaining subjective moral systems continue to compete for survival until humanity collectively arrives at a single subjective moral system that best maximizes well-being and minimizes harm for the most people.


Superior according to what helps our species survive? Why should that be the standard of superiority? Why not a different subjective human desire? How do we define well-being and harm? Why is about how that affects the most people?

bluegreenearth wrote:
For instance, the Nazi's subjective moral system was eventually superseded by a more democratic subjective moral system because it failed to maximize well-being and minimize unnecessary harm for the most people. The majority of the world's people observed the actions of the Nazi's as being inconsistent with or contradictory to their internal sense of well-being. As such, the Nazi's subjective morality was not selected for reproduction. This process continues today and is often referred to as moral progress. Acceptance of the LGBTQ community and religious pluralism are all indicators of moral progress because these behaviors maximize well-being and minimize unnecessary harm for the most people.


The Nazi's lost for various reasons, some of which were moral concerns. But if morality is subjective, then moral progress is a misleading name, for it's just moral difference. It progresses towards some people's ideas of maximizing well-being and minimizing harm, but not others. Why is one view superior to the other? It's not if subjectivism is true. If objectivism is true, then what standard is the judge?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 9: Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:12 am
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The Tanager wrote:

Ultimately, I would say our inner sense of "well-being" (if I understand how you mean that phrase, but it may be worth pursuing your definition) is a reflection of the desires of this external entity, which itself is not arbitrarily chosen. So those two would go in step with each other.


Are you suggesting that our inner sense of well-being does not originate from within ourselves but is placed there by an external source?

Quote:
Superior according to what helps our species survive? Why should that be the standard of superiority? Why not a different subjective human desire? How do we define well-being and harm? Why is about how that affects the most people?


A moral system is not of much use to humans if humans go extinct. Therefore, a moral system that serves to ensure human flourishing will be superior to one that does not serve in that capacity.

Why should human flourishing be the standard of superiority? It doesn't have to be an objective standard, only a subjective standard that we collectively agree upon because we care about the survival of our species. If our species didn't care about human flourishing, then we would have long since gone extinct and some other dominant species would have their own subjective standard of superiority.

How do we define well-being and harm? Well-being describes a state of flourishing. Harm describes anything that detracts from a state of flourishing.

Why is about how that affects the most people? You'll have to rewrite this question because I'm not sure what it is asking.

Quote:
The Nazi's lost for various reasons, some of which were moral concerns. But if morality is subjective, then moral progress is a misleading name, for it's just moral difference. It progresses towards some people's ideas of maximizing well-being and minimizing harm, but not others. Why is one view superior to the other? It's not if subjectivism is true. If objectivism is true, then what standard is the judge?


If our species collectively agrees that human flourishing is our goal, then behaviors that have progressed us towards achieving that goal constitute moral progress in that sense. If some people's ideas of maximizing well-being and minimizing harm fail to progress humanity towards a state of flourishing, then those systems of morality will either not be widely adopted or cause humanity to go extinct. If a moral system is widely adopted but contributes to our extinction, then it was only superior in the sense that it was the last moral system to exist but was inferior for failing to enable human flourishing. If a moral system is widely adopted and contributes towards our collective goal of achieving human flourishing, then it will be superior to the moral systems that fail in that regard. If our species collectively agrees that humanity should go extinct, then moral systems that progress towards human flourishing will be inferior to those that help to bring about our extinction.

So, we must decide as a species what our collective goal should be in order to know which systems of morality will function best in helping us achieve that goal. Since we have evolved to instinctively value life, our moral systems have evolved along with us as a mechanism for aiding in our survival as a social species. As such, our biology seems to have already decided what our collective goal should be. In this regard, whether human morality is objective or subjective, we instinctively try to behave in ways that best help us achieve human flourishing.

For the most part, your concept of objective morality wouldn't bother me if it always resulted in behaviors that were advantageous to human flourishing. Unfortunately, though, many religious people who claim they are acting in accordance with an objective morality are exhibiting some behaviors that are causing objective harm. These pious people know their actions are inconsistent with and contradictory to their internal sense of well-being yet are compelled by faith to continue their maladaptive behaviors nonetheless. However, there is hope to be found with some of these people who are beginning to accept where their religiously motivated behaviors have been counterproductive to human flourishing and are choosing to reconsider their prescribed moral systems.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 10: Thu Sep 26, 2019 3:36 pm
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Your main argument seems to me to be that the standard of human morality cannot be objective, even if God exists. This was because morality would be subject to God's subjective declarations. I said it is subjective in that sense (although I think it is technically rooted in God's character), but that traditionally when people talk about morality being objective, they mean what humans ought to do is rooted in something external to human minds, similar in that way to the shape of the earth being objectively true.

If God is the creator of humans, then God determines what it means for humans to flourish. If God wants humans to flourish, then morality flows out of this design. God could place these moral truths within God's creatures to help them along. If true, then that would make "how humans ought to act" objectively true. Now, of course, whether this is reality or not is a different question. I'm just saying it would show morality to be objective in the traditional sense.

You then seemed to share the following kinds of objections:

1. How can this code of behavior be externally imposed on humans?

I'm not entirely sure what you mean here. I agree humans have the freedom to follow the code or not. I think that if humans are thinking clearly, then their judgment of what leads to their flourishing will cohere with this code. Maybe this thought involves the next two elements in it:

2. Wouldn't these rules be arbitrary?

Not necessarily. God wouldn't be deciding disinterestedly, but with human purpose and capabilities in mind and making rules that lead to true human flourishing.

3. What if we disagree with this code?

Then we are wrong. What if we think the earth is flat? We are wrong.



And you have also seemed to share that some subjective moral systems are better than others. I don't see how that could be true if there is no standard outside of subjective human desires.

bluegreenearth wrote:
A moral system is not of much use to humans if humans go extinct. Therefore, a moral system that serves to ensure human flourishing will be superior to one that does not serve in that capacity.


The Nazi morality would not, if followed through to its end, resulted in the extinction of the human species. With the above logic, if that had occurred, then it would be a superior moral system. That tells me there is something wrong with your test of superiority.

bluegreenearth wrote:
Why should human flourishing be the standard of superiority?


Yes, why should an individual care if the human species flourishes, rather than just herself?

bluegreenearth wrote:
It doesn't have to be an objective standard, only a subjective standard that we collectively agree upon because we care about the survival of our species. If our species didn't care about human flourishing, then we would have long since gone extinct and some other dominant species would have their own subjective standard of superiority.


If more people were on board with Nazi morality, would that make the morality good, just because our species would survive?

bluegreenearth wrote:
How do we define well-being and harm? Well-being describes a state of flourishing. Harm describes anything that detracts from a state of flourishing.


That just punts the question back a level. How do we define "flourishing"? People subjectively define it differently. If that is true, then no moral system is superior to another, they are just different.

bluegreenearth wrote:
For the most part, your concept of objective morality wouldn't bother me if it always resulted in behaviors that were advantageous to human flourishing. Unfortunately, though, many religious people who claim they are acting in accordance with an objective morality are exhibiting some behaviors that are causing objective harm. These pious people know their actions are inconsistent with and contradictory to their internal sense of well-being yet are compelled by faith to continue their maladaptive behaviors nonetheless. However, there is hope to be found with some of these people who are beginning to accept where their religiously motivated behaviors have been counterproductive to human flourishing and are choosing to reconsider their prescribed moral systems.


I would say the overconfidence in their own intellect or authorities (that are not always what they claim they are) is more to blame. It's not just a religious feature, either. Secular objectivists do the same. It's not just an objectivist problem, either. Subjectivists do great harm.

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