11
   

Morality has nothing to do with Science.

 
 
Sglass
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 07:35 am
@edgarblythe,
i like that edgar. Cutural Spin.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:01 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
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.

Why not?

ebrown p wrote:
But there is no universal truth when it comes to morality.

How do you know that?
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:26 am
Set, I am choosing not to respond to you-- I don't want to get into a pissing match.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:33 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
ebrown p wrote:

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.


Why not?


Because there isn't. Go ahead, suggest an objective way to resolve disagreements between two systems of morality.

Quote:

ebrown p wrote:

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


How do you know that?


Because universal moral truth needs a source of universal truth. If you believe (as most of us here do) that we are results of a very long series of chemical reactions acting over billions of years-- where would such a universal moral truth come from?

If morality is a result of evolution, then it is a survival mechanism. But in that case any human trait from love to war to tribal aggression to the propensity for religion (all human traits with evolutionary advantage) would be equally moral.

Again as my argument, I leave the question open... what source of universal truth would you suggest on which to base a moral system? I haven't ever heard of one outside of a deity.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:43 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
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?

But that isn't a scientific argument. "Science" places no value judgment on the survival of a particular culture, species, genus, family, order class, phylum, or kingdom. Science really places no value judgment on the survival of life at all.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:47 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:
Why not?


Because there isn't.

Well, that settles it then, doesn't it.

ebrown p wrote:
Go ahead, suggest an objective way to resolve disagreements between two systems of morality.

No problem. When two systems of morality differ, there's always the possibility that one of them is wrong.

ebrown p wrote:
Because universal moral truth needs a source of universal truth. If you believe (as most of us here do) that we are results of a very long series of chemical reactions acting over billions of years-- where would such a universal moral truth come from?

My guess would be that a system of morality could be derived logically, based upon a set of simple propositions that are more-or-less self-evident.

ebrown p wrote:
If morality is a result of evolution, then it is a survival mechanism. But in that case any human trait from love to war to tribal aggression to the propensity for religion (all human traits with evolutionary advantage) would be equally moral.

No doubt. Which is why the notion that what is moral is whatever works on an evolutionary basis is not a sound foundation for a system of morality.

ebrown p wrote:
Again as my argument, I leave the question open... what source of universal truth would you suggest on which to base a moral system? I haven't ever heard of one outside of a deity.

If I were suggesting that there can be no objective system of morality, I certainly hope that I'd have more of an argument than simply saying to my opponents "where's your evidence?"
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:50 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
Because there isn't. Go ahead, suggest an objective way to resolve disagreements between two systems of morality.

Joe isn't omniscient. Even if he can't suggest an objective way, it doesn't prove that there isn't any. Apart from that, it's your assertion that started the thread. That makes it your job to back it up, not Joe's job to refute it.

ebrown p wrote:
Because universal moral truth needs a source of universal truth. If you believe (as most of us here do) that we are results of a very long series of chemical reactions acting over billions of years-- where would such a universal moral truth come from?

How about game theory?

In your life, you try to as well for yourself as you can, as judged by your values and preferences. The environment in which you try to do this is made up of millions of other individuals who do the same, using their own values and preferences to judge the outcome. In the language of game theory, that constitutes a game. Inevitably, moral and legal rules will emerge as people strike deals with each other for their mutual advantage. These rules are the game's Nash equilibrium. Game theory can tell you, at least in principle, what a stable equilibrium would have to look like, given everybody's preferences.
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:17 am
@ebrown p,
when you look at different cultures, even religions, you will find more overlap in values than just agreement on preservation of human life. There are many intercultural human rights studies doing just that, including Arabic and Islamic human rights scholars.

I agree on relevance of culture, but disagree that moral values are not valid outside of one's own cultural context at all. That is the extreme I was talking about that I see as dangerous ("anything goes").
In this day and age there are quite a few international covenants, for example, that most or many countries subscribe to. Implementing them is another subject, of course, but if we speak purely on the level of values, there is a movement away from the particular towards finding some universal standard, if minimal, all can subscribe to. I stay on the topic of human rights as that is one area I worked in and know a bit about, can't expand much beyond that. But that's a pretty broad and value-based area anyway.
Setanta
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:33 am
@ebrown p,
Quote:
Set, I am choosing not to respond to you-- I don't want to get into a pissing match.


Once again, bullshit . . . this entire thread is your opportunity to whine about how much you did not enjoy the pissing match that you started in Wilso's thread. I'm not surprised that you don't want to respond to what i've written though, as the idiotic basis for this thread is founded in a wilful distortion of what both FM and i have written in Wilso's thread.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:37 am
@Thomas,
Quote:

Joe isn't omniscient. Even if he can't suggest an objective way, it doesn't prove that there isn't any. Apart from that, it's your assertion that started the thread. That makes it your job to back it up, not Joe's job to refute it.


My argument is based on process of elimination (which is perhaps the best way to prove a negative). I don't think anyone here is arguing for religion as a basis of morality-- and no one here has seriously taken up the case that science is such an objective bases (I hope this is obvious to all here).

So if religion doesn't work, and science doesn't work... what else is there?

Quote:
How about game theory?

In your life, you try to as well for yourself as you can, as judged by your values and preferences. The environment in which you try to do this is made up of millions of other individuals who do the same, using their own values and preferences to judge the outcome. In the language of game theory, that constitutes a game. Inevitably, moral and legal rules will emerge as people strike deals with each other for their mutual advantage. These rules are the game's Nash equilibrium. Game theory can tell you, at least in principle, what a stable equilibrium would have to look like, given everybody's preferences.


Now here is an interesting alternative that might lead to an interesting exploration.

Let me start by questioning this statement: "Inevitably, moral and legal rules will emerge as people strike deals with each other for their mutual advantage."

There are certainly lots of examples were the system that emerged was far from mutually beneficial. Slavery was acceptable in many moral systems. As was misogyny.

Our current moral system (i.e. modern Western culture) allows for vast economic disparities-- this is hardly a system of mutual advantage.

I won't dispute that moral and legal rules emerge in any cultural context. I will dispute that the content of the moral and legal rules is determined by mutual advantage.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:37 am
That was an excellent summary, Dashenka. The idea of international law, of international diplomatic negotiation is, from my point of view, simply more evidence that all morality is subjective, and at the same time it is evidence that peoples' moral points of view are motivated by needs and desires sufficiently consonant to have resulted in agreement, even if only tacit, on what contributes to social good.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:49 am
@dagmaraka,
Quote:
In this day and age there are quite a few international covenants, for example, that most or many countries subscribe to. Implementing them is another subject, of course, but if we speak purely on the level of values, there is a movement away from the particular towards finding some universal standard, if minimal, all can subscribe to. I stay on the topic of human rights as that is one area I worked in and know a bit about, can't expand much beyond that. But that's a pretty broad and value-based area anyway.


Isn't this an evidence of the emergence of a dominant world culture, rather than some pre-existing absolute truth? (If it were the latter, than cultures would have arrived at this truth without the need for external influence.)

In the international covenants-- values from some cultures are favored and other cultures must adapt (maybe there is some interchange issue by issue)-- but it is clear that on each moral issue, some cultures are changing other cultures.

(I am not making a judgment on this-- you can find cases where I will cheer when practices of a culture are changed by external influence-- but lets be honest that this is what is happening).

Quote:
when you look at different cultures, even religions, you will find more overlap in values than just agreement on preservation of human life. There are many intercultural human rights studies doing just that, including Arabic and Islamic human rights scholars.


Could you give examples of this overlap? I am skeptical of this... it seems that people doing intercultural human rights studies have a natural bias toward finding universal points of morality even where none exist outside of their own cultural context.



There is a natural tension between cultural diversity and spreading moral values. I don't think there is an easy way to resolve this.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:51 am
i didn't say anything about any absolute truth, however. i keep talking about values. i'm not a fan of absolute truth anyway.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:55 am
@dagmaraka,
Yeah you are right. I have been using the term "absolute truth" interchangeably with "universal values". I am not sure this is inappropriate though, can you have universal values without absolute truth?

dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:57 am
@dagmaraka,
http://www.arabhumanrights.org/en/

http://www.anhri.net/en/about/

"Don't just listen to what governments say, listen to what people say, listen to the movements" - Irene Gendzier, my professor at BU on Middle East always used to tell us. I agree wholeheartedly. Nothing is black and white, everything is in constant movement.

The links are just googled - anyone can do this, I have to however finish a conference paper tonight, can't play. Also, i'm not here to deliver a paper, just my opinion. Papers I do for work, here I come to rest :-)
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:58 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

Yeah you are right. I have been using the term "absolute truth" interchangeably with "universal values". I am not sure this is inappropriate though, can you have universal values without absolute truth?




absolutely :-) (pun intended, eh). they are very different animals.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:59 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
There are certainly lots of examples were the system that emerged was far from mutually beneficial. Slavery was acceptable in many moral systems. As was misogyny.

1) It was nevertheless part of morality at the time, and part of the Nash equilibrium at the time. Which is all I'm saying.

2) I don't know that moral systems approving of slavery were worse for the slaves than the alternatives available at the time that didn't involve slavery. Suppose you're captured in the war, and your captors offer you a deal: "we can kill you on the spot, or you can become our slave." What is your mutually beneficial answer?

ebrown p wrote:
Our current moral system (i.e. modern Western culture) allows for vast economic disparities-- this is hardly a system of mutual advantage.

What makes you so sure they're worse off than they would be under a system that allows much smaller economic disparities? Communism, after all, was hardly a paradise for workers, or handicapped people, or women, or homosexuals, or ethnic minorities, or ....
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:09 am
@Thomas,
the north-south or core-periphery divide is morally tricksy. i used to have opinions. the older i get, the less i'm sure about anything. of course it's bad and unfair...but that can't be the last word, there has to be a workable proposal to make a conversation constructive. there are of course plenty of proposals but the progress, alas if any, very slow.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:10 am
@Thomas,
Huh Thomas?

You have just proposed a way to justify slavery-- an institution that is without question considered immoral by modern Western society.

You have done this using game theory, but under your application of game theory, morality is completely dependent on cultural context.

Ok, then... but what is there to argue about?
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:23 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
2) I don't know that moral systems approving of slavery were worse for the slaves than the alternatives available at the time that didn't involve slavery. Suppose you're captured in the war, and your captors offer you a deal: "we can kill you on the spot, or you can become our slave." What is your mutually beneficial answer?

How is this a moral argument?

Now, I won't disagree that people have the morals they can afford: if your family is starving, then you don't take POWs home with you.

But saying "I could kill you, so enslaving you is a good moral choice" is not a defensible position.
 

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