11
   

Morality has nothing to do with Science.

 
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 12:03 am
@dagmaraka,
Thanks for this response Dag. This is an interesting debate.

Any set of values that is said to be "universal, inalienable, indivisible" should be backed by something objective. Science is unable to be that something-- it is objective, but science provides no way to judge between right and wrong.

I think you understand (but I will say it anyway) the problem with your worry of "heinous things" being excused by culture. There are no "heinous things" outside of our subjective cultural judgment.

Philosophically I agree with you. I too fall between the extremes (I think I have more of a bias towards letting cultures decide their own values without interference).

But there is a dilemma. Lacking any objective way to judge between the different moral systems that humans have developed-- I really don't have anything other than my own cultural values against theirs.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 12:09 am
@ebrown p,
Science had no way to decide about right and wrong..
Is that some kind of indictment of science?
Oh, wooo, wooo.

dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 12:19 am
well, preservation of human life as a value actually is quite universal. cold blooded murder is not tolerated anywhere. killing is more complicated. levels differ and there are practices (stoning, female genital mutilation, chopping off limbs...) that we would see as violating basic human rights while some defend them (well, no, usually the arguments are rather about explanation then about defending them) on the basis of the cultural context. As with everything, I don't like extremes - either one. I don't believe that there is a wide blanked of human rights applicable to all everywhere, but I also don't believe that everything should be viewed solely from the perspective of a specific culture. Both are dangerous.

i worked in the human rights field, and of course it is a faith to a large degree. in humanity, in values, in progress, in human dignity... you (well, I) need this in order to go forward, otherwise all would fall apart and be meaningless. science cannot define morality (though what exactly do you mean by science?). but that doesn't mean morality is so relative that has no role or value in global society. as with everything, nothing is black and white.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 12:22 am
@ossobuco,
No indictment of science. Science is very good at certain things. It just has nothing to say about morality.

The "indictment" is of people who pretend that science backs up their particular system of morality.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 12:38 am
@dagmaraka,
Preservation of one's own life (and perhaps the life of one's offspring) are the only values that are perhaps seen in every culture. Saying "'cold blooded' murder is not tolerated anywhere" is only true if you accept that the term "cold blooded" has a different meaning wherever you go (in my culture, stoning is cold blooded murder). In that case the term doesn't mean much.

You are saying that you don't believe that everything should be viewed from a cultural context. I agree with completely with you on this. But this is not what I am saying.

I am saying that everything is viewed from a cultural context. The fact is that your moral values are not based on anything objective (i.e. not science). Therefore everything you think about right and wrong is necessarily a product of your culture and whatever subjective values you have arbitrarily decided to believe.

There should be some absolute truth upon which we could base our moral beliefs. But there isn't. We all need to accept that our deeply held beliefs have no more moral authority outside of a specific cultural context then anyone else's.

I am not making any statement about when I would choose to impose my cultural values on another culture (and we might agree more than not). I am simply saying that when I do so, I am not going to trick myself into brushing the logical contradiction under the rug.

0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  0  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 12:43 am
@ebrown p,
Since you seem to be setting up your argument in "the other thread" totally in your favor, I just invited myself over to xplain to the posters at large that, in that case, we had a "christian SCience" type of a mother who, by depriving her daughter of medications to treat childhood diabetes,(and substituted intense prayer with members of her cult), directly was the cause of her daughters death by diabetic coma. She was found guilty of "extreme recklessnes" in a depraved negligence and will be sentenced to up to 25 years(unless by appeal , she has her senetnce commuted).
Mt Brown disagrees with the term "MURDER" and is apparently somewhat disturbed about my debating techniques that he (although in that thread he states he is laughing at me) started this thread to develop his argument in solo.

Well, the entire argument is about the term MURDER, as the LEx dictionary says

Quote:
Some murders involving extreme recklessness on the part of the defendant cause extreme public outrage. In People v. Dellinger, 783 P.2d 200 (Cal. 1989), the defendant, Leland Dellinger, was found guilty of the murder of his two-yearold stepdaughter. The primary cause of the child's death was a fractured skull caused by trauma to the head. However, other evidence showed that the child had large quantities of cocaine in her system when she died. Moreover, her mother discovered that the defendant had fed the child wine through a baby bottle. Due to the defendant's "wanton disregard for life," the verdict of murder was proper, according to the California Supreme Court.

A person who unintentionally causes the death of another person also may be charged with murder under the depraved-heart theory. Depraved-heart murder refers to a killing that results from gross negligence. For example, suppose that a man is practicing shooting his gun in his backyard, located in a suburban area. If the man accidentally shoots and kills someone, he can be charged with murder under the depraved-heart theory, if gross Negligence is proven.

In Turner v. State, 796 So. 2d 998 (Miss. 2001), the defendant, Jimmy Ray Turner, was convicted of the murder of his wife. The couple had contemplated Divorce, but had apparently reconciled. After their reconciliation, they went together to the defendant's parents' house to return a borrowed shotgun. As they walked to the parents' house, the defendant, who testified that he did not think the shotgun was loaded, demonstrated to his wife how he carried the gun with his fingers on the trigger and walked with his arms swinging. His wife stopped suddenly, bumping into the defendant. The shotgun fired, killing the wife. Although the defendant was not charged with premeditated murder, he was indicted and convicted of depraved-heart murder due to his gross negligence in handling the shotgun.
.

The use of the term MURDER in that case is quite proper and not without precedent. The 9th circuit agrees with me in the matter of depraved indifference being synonymous with murder.
There is a term 3rd degree murder in the state involved and it carries the same penalty. SO the use of the rem murder is nothing more than semantics in Mr Browns use.

MY entire point in that debate has been totally ignored. I stated that, in that particular case, the mothers Religious rights under the US constitution were being weighed against the civil rights of her daughter. The establishment clause of the First amendment provides protection where someone is denied "the free expression" of their religion. In the case of the dead daughter, she was assumed (incorrectly) that she must share the mothers own idiotic religious belief.

Also, the standard of whether the mother had acted "within the norm" was brought up by Mr Brown.He stated that "the fatal disease killed the daughter", when indeed , the disease was no more "fatal"than the kid being nearsighted. IOW, the kid had a chronic condition (WE live in 2009 and thats a med fact) that could be controlled quite successfully by modern meds. SHE was denied this oppotunity by her mom making that crucial (and fatal) decision.

NOWEHERE was the issue of "science and religion" even brought up until Mr Brown has begun telling several of us how he believed in science not religion. TREMEDOUS< AND GOOD FOR YOU Mr Brown, SO WHAT? that had nothing to do with the debate. It was an irrelevant entry of self support and has no bearing with the facts of the case.

It appears that the mom (in NY state) could have been tried for 3rd degree murder (depraved indifference or reckless endangerment are parts of the MURDER test). So, I agree that the court was acting cowardly to not call a frog a frog. The prosecutors must have thought that they could "Pull it off" if they make the case about the reckless endangerment and not what it construes.
Several of us had said that , in effect" the times they are a changing" and Mr Brown has accused me of being a bigot and a racist because I dont agree with his position. Well Mr Brown, welcome to the 21st century . The internet doesnt seal your opinion over mine. It allows for an open discussion where both sides can be heard. If you wish to "dress up" your arguments by irrelevancies, so be it. I just want the opportunity to post my position of hwy you got your hackles up.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 12:48 am
@farmerman,
Ay Farmerman, I said specifically that I did not want to continue the (somewhat nasty) argument from the other thread in this one-- and, in case you didn't notice, we were having a perfectly civil discussion here which you are more than welcome to join.

I did make one comment about the other thread -- so perhaps your response balances that out. But let's not take this any further.

So come on Farmerman, let us continue a civil discussion here. You are welcome to join in, or stay out. But bringing nastiness across thread boundaries is really not a nice thing to do.



Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 12:51 am
morality is the voice of experience (good or bad), et al. science is an intellectual function.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 12:52 am
@farmerman,
I agree that morality has nothing to do with religion or science, although the religious will pound their feet and claim that without religion, morality wouldnt exist.
IMHO, those super religious types had better look at the archeological evidence that we have re: human sacrifice and other cultural norms that were developed from religious foundations. (Cf the Mayans or the Moche, Innuit or Selutreans)
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 01:14 am
@farmerman,
I don't think that religious moral systems are inferior to non-religious ones. The problem is when two different cultures have conflicting ideas about what is right or wrong, there simply is no objective way to resolve the conflict. The Mayans were just as moral in their cultural context as you are in yours (and there just isn't any way to judge between the two outside of a cultural context).

An interesting modern example of this type of conflict is the Jehovah's Witnesses. They feel that using certain medical techniques is immoral. In this case it is purely a moral issue-- whether these techniques save lives is irrelevant.

Modern western cultures have a unique obsession with prolonging life at all costs as long as possible. This is a quite rare value, other cultures and other eras were much less worried about keeping people from dying.

Of course, there is no scientific backing to the idea that people shouldn't die (that is after the reproductive needs of a society are met).

So here we have a case of two competing moral systems. One which says that blood shouldn't be transferred. The other which says that people shouldn't be allowed to die until there is no other choice.

The point is that neither of these values is better outside of a specific cultural context. When both of these moral systems exist in one society, it presents a rather difficult dilemma.

Neither side has any real claim to absolute truth... although both sides claim it anyway.



ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 01:15 am
@ebrown p,
'It just has nothing to say about morality.'

Of course..

Ah, this all seems simplistic to me... the workings of morality.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 01:51 am
@ossobuco,
I'm tired, it's late, but I'll say honesty (as best one can) is a component of science,
but in any case, that is usually tested for.

I don't deny the existence or usefulness of morality, but I see it as a construct of societies.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 04:56 am
Before humans developed civilized societies, humans undoubtedly lived lives similar to the other great apes. Before science or religion, they managed a system which allowed a modicum of morality. With self awareness as we now know it, they have tried to organize human behavior with laws and organizations of religion, but the underlying basis of morality is innate. Religions come and fall by the wayside, or morph to sway with the changing winds of public perception. Scientists and clergy are generally equally in the dark, because they rarely act from moral positions. Business and military, which arise from prevailing cultures, press for autonomy, acting on urges to power, rather than morality. Jesus is seen to call for a new moral code, but Christians in general, act from the older codes most of the time. Phillip Wylie suggested that when Jesus calls for turning the other cheek, loving your enemy, and so forth, it represents an evolutionary change in the mentality of humans. But the change is not born into every group, and so has only partially replaced the old way.

I am out of time. Got to go to work.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 05:06 am
Quote:
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.


Nonsense--that can only be true if you define religious so broadly as to be effectively meaningless. I also see no reason for you to make such a silly and specious claim about the foundation of "morality.' That one might reject religious superstition as a basis for one's ethic principles is not evidence that one relies upon their understanding of science (not perfect or very broad in any individual) as the basis. See, for example Thomas' first remark, which echoes Hobbes' Leviathan.

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


Not necessarily--once again, see Thomas' remark. Your use of the term morality is as vague and meaningless as was your use of religious in the firts quoted passage.

Quote:
There is a connection between morality and religion in that they are both features of a culture.


In many cultures, self-mutilation (including tattooing) or infant genital mutilation are features of the culture. Does that mean there is a connection between those practices and either morality or religion? My estimation of your ability to reason sinks now with virtually every post you make.

Quote:
The first was an interesting discussion alleging an evolutionary rationale for faithfulness (which seems more wishful thinking than reality).


Some species are polygamous, some are monogamous--which is why i avoided that idiot thread. Making absolutist statements about almost any subject is a fool's game. The same could be said for the basis for morality and for law (which are not necessarily consonant features of a society).


Quote:
The second involves allegations of the "evilness" of religious superstitions.


I am happy once again to assert that religious superstition is inherently evil, or productive of evil--because it is not based upon logical relations of cause and effect, and not because it is or is not "scientific." You're in a snit because you choose to take offense, and assume that saying religious superstition assumes all aspects of religion to be superstitious, and all products of religious conviction to be products of superstition. While i am convinced that religious adherence never made a bad man good, and the lack thereof never made a good man bad, i am more than happy to acknowledge that there are many religious beliefs that do not fly in the face of logic, and that their codification can be felicitous for society.

It is religious supestition to which i object--the enshrinement of certain beliefs without a logical basis, or in the defiance of logic, or in spite of well-established fact to the contrary.

You want to conflate that with a wholesale rejection of religion in any form, and to come here to whine about. To start an entire thread about it.

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


That would be an interesting exercise, if anyone takes it up. That won't be me, given that i've never made any such claim.

The holy roller member "real life" always used to love to accuse me of being a moral relativist because i have always contended that all morality is subjective. As far as i can see, your little huffy rant here is pretty much the same nonsense, delivered in a different key. He was wrong because i am not a moral relativist--i have notions of what is wrong, and those notions don't change in reference to an era of the past, nor do they change in reference to different cultures. I consider female infanticide to be indefensible, without regard to the culture which practices it, for example. I always used to point out to "real life" that the only difference between my point of view and that of the religionists is that i know my values are subjectively arrived at, and am willing to admit, while the religionist insists on the imaginary friend in the sky.

And that's what this is all really about--your prissy objections to any libelling of religion. You have, i suspect, a "thin end of the wedge" attitude toward the curtailment of the evils of religious superstition--so much so, that you have ranted at me, for one, for quite a while now, when I have not called for the curtailment of religious superstition, and freely acknowledge that we will likely never be free of it.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 05:43 am
@edgarblythe,
What I was trying to say, I guess, is that morality predates religion and science. All that has been added is the cultural spin.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 05:45 am
@edgarblythe,
Quote:
Before humans developed civilized societies, humans undoubtedly lived lives similar to the other great apes. Before science or religion, they managed a system which allowed a modicum of morality.


My thesis is that humans with religion are the same as humans without religion (however we are defining religion).

First, I am not sure the phrase "before religion" makes sense because religion is so tied in with the development of culture that there is probably no real dividing line between the lead ape in todays gorilla populations and the chief/priest of early human societies. I don't think anything changed as far as the rules for governing society (or the fact that the power over society in primates is in the hands of a few power individuals).

My point is that non-religious society is in the same boat as religious societies.

We need to have a moral system to regulate society-- but we lack any universal logical system to base it on. So we make up a moral system anyway and then trick ourselves into believing that ours is based on some universal truth.

But there is no universal truth when it comes to morality.


0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 05:57 am
@ebrown p,
Quote:
. . . I said specifically that I did not want to continue the (somewhat nasty) argument from the other thread . . .


In this example, somewhat nasty means you really hate it when people tell you that you are flat wrong.

Quote:
I did make one comment about the other thread -- so perhaps your response balances that out. But let's not take this any further.


Bullshit . . . utter bullshit . . . in your third post in this thread, you explain what motivated you to start this thread, and you very nearly quoted me verbatim, taking the opportunity to distort what i wrote, just as you did in that thread.

This entire thread is a distortion, given that absolutely no one in that thread argued that science is or should be the basis for "morality." As FM points out, he was arguing a case for murder from the point of view of reckless negligence. I was and remain amused at how you've gotten your skimpy little lace edged panties in a twist because of the unflattering remarks made about religion. I specifically referred to religious superstition, because that is operative in that case.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:19 am
@ebrown p,
I thought we had a good discussion going on the "Monogamy" thread, but I didn't see any morality take on it. Did you see a morality vs science argument there?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:54 am
He's just his knickers in a twist over the other thread--his reference to the monogamy thread is just a smoke screen.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 07:30 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
The "indictment" is of people who pretend that science backs up their particular system of morality.

Would you agree that it can demolish someone's particular system of morality. For example, if a group of people started adhering to a moral code that considers it a virtue to kill for no reason, could there be a valid scientific argument that this moral code won't work? Because its believers would soon end up killing each other?
 

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