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Morality has nothing to do with Science.

 
 
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 08:47 pm
The belief in a universal morality that is based on absolute truth, has long been a feature of religions. However, religion goes hand and hand with a specific culture-- and strongly held views on morality vary from culture to culture.

This doesn't stop members of each culture from believing that somehow their moral values are endorsed by universal truth.

But now a strange thing is happening. People who reject religion still display a strongly religious view of an absolute morality-- this time with the believe their view of morality is based on science. There is no way to avoid the fact that your moral values not universal. They are subject to the society you are a part of.

But, morality (with religion or without religion) is still a cultural phenomenon.

Even if you believe that science is the very definition of absolute truth-- science does not, and can not, offer any foundation for moral values.

I believe this is an error made in many of the discussions here.
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 08:49 pm
Morality actually has nothing to do with religion, either.
ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 08:51 pm
@edgarblythe,
There is a connection between morality and religion in that they are both features of a culture. You don't need religion to have morality... but you do need a culture to have morality.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 08:57 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
I believe this is an error made in many of the discussions here.

Can you provide a specific example. I'm not sure what you are referring to.
solipsister
 
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Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 09:07 pm
@ebrown p,
strange days indeed
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 09:16 pm
@rosborne979,
I started thinking thinking on this idea on the "Monogamy Unnatural in the Natural World" thread. I am currently frustrated with the "Yet another case of religious murder" thread. The first was an interesting discussion alleging an evolutionary rationale for faithfulness (which seems more wishful thinking than reality). The second involves allegations of the "evilness" of religious superstitions.

Maybe I shouldn't have made that last quip you quote. I don't want to continue either of these arguments.

My purpose for this thread is to see if anyone can defend the idea that their views of morality has any objective scientific foundation.

If everyone accepts the fact that with religion or without religion there is no foundation of morality that is not subject to specific cultural beliefs then the premise of the thread is wrong and there won't be much to discuss.

In that case the religious and the non-religious are pretty much in the same boat when it comes to moral values.
NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 09:21 pm
If you believe in karma, as I do, then for every action we perform there is an equal yet opposite reaction. The causes we make against another will come back to us. Therefore, 'morality' dictates that we strive to create good karma by embracing and creating as much happiness as we can for others. I think there's some science mixed in there.
solipsister
 
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Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 09:58 pm
@ebrown p,
views about anything (morality) are scientifically based is you believe then to be
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 10:36 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown wrote:
If everyone accepts the fact that with religion or without religion there is no foundation of morality that is not subject to specific cultural beliefs then the premise of the thread is wrong and there won't be much to discuss.

I don't accept this claim as a fact. To show you why not, let me give you an example of what I consider a culture-independent foundation of morality. Whatever our cultural beliefs are, we all have an interest in our own survival. This gives us reason to negotiate rules with each other by which we can ensure that we don't end up killing each other. To make these rules, follow them, and enforce them when people break them, we don't need to share any culture-specific beliefs. All we need is the insight that we need some way of living together -- an insight that is much more nearly a fact than a culture-specific belief.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 10:40 pm
@NickFun,
Nick... this is not exactly the level of discussion I was hoping for, but I will respond.

In science, the "action reaction" language is used to express Newton's third law of motion. It doesn't contain the lesson you want it to.

Newton's third law applies to a bug hitting a windshield. This means that the bug puts the same force on the car that the car puts on the bug. However balanced this seems, the results are far from equal.

The bug comes to an untimely end while the car is slowed an imperceptible amount.

The driver who started the process might never even know about the individual life she snuffed out. Although she has one life to give for the hundreds she might take an evening of driving, the consequence is rarely more than the need to push the windshield washer button.

I don't think the scientific principle of Newton's third law has anything to do with the religious concept of Karma.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
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Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 10:44 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
To show you why not, let me give you an example of what I consider a culture-independent foundation of morality. Whatever our cultural beliefs are, we all have an interest in our own survival. This gives us reason to negotiate rules with each other by which we can ensure that we don't end up killing each other. To make these rules, follow them, and enforce them when people break them, we don't need to share any culture-specific beliefs. All we need is the insight that we need some way of living together -- an insight that is much more nearly a fact than a culture-specific belief.


Morality is culturally independent the same way that language is culturally independent. People need a way to express actions... and so every culture has the concept of a verb.

Languages are still quite different; every culture has different verbs expressed in different ways. Although each culture has developed a language, any idea of a universal language is artificial and arbitrary.

The moral rules about which of our acquaintances we are allowed to kill vary greatly from culture to culture and from era to era.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 10:54 pm
@ebrown p,
The analogy between moral rules and grammatical rules is one we can agree on. I guess where we disagree is the importance of cultural differences, compared to the similarities. I think cultural differences in moral rules are generally overplayed -- probably because they're more interesting to talk about than the similarities are.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 11:02 pm
@Thomas,
This all sounds like hoohah to me.

You work up a test with plenty of controls. and record that. The test is probably based on hypotheses.

I've been around when the test didn't work out, a very desired result type of test, and on repeat and repeat and repeat, gave a clue in another direction.
That turned out to be extremely interesting.

Why is anyone trying to put morality into laboratories?
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 11:21 pm
@ossobuco,
Re morality and labs, in my obviously windowed experience, I didn't see any cheating. I saw a reaction to a strange result, which turned out to be interesting.

But.. I get it that labs can cheat.



ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 11:28 pm
@ossobuco,
So, I check earlier replies on the thread.

Elbow scratching.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 11:31 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

Morality actually has nothing to do with religion, either.


10 commandments and the like?
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 11:35 pm
@ossobuco,
Oh, wait. I saw cheating once, a new hire trying to work out. The person was fired, quickly.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 11:38 pm
Oh, nuts, I suppose I'll have to read this thread.
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 11:38 pm
There's an old debate on this especially in human rights literature. The main premise is that they are universal, inalienable, indivisible.... the opposition to this theory claims that everything is culture specific. However, if you accept this, than nothing matters, because many heinous things can be explained away and excused by culture.
I am somewhere between the extreme universalism and extreme cultural relativism. Culture matters, but when it comes to human life and basic dignity (whether it's mistreatment of women, or child labor...etc), i believe human rights trump culture. question is, of course, where exactly do you draw the line. I don't know.

(edit re: religious murder thread: that still doesn't make it a murder :-). laws are laws, emotions are emotions... they should be kept separate for good reasons)
ossobuco
 
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Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 11:53 pm
@ossobuco,
Well, I won't read on, nothing to do with work in the lab, from a quick read.
0 Replies
 
 

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