11
   

Morality has nothing to do with Science.

 
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:31 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
You have just proposed a way to justify slavery-- an institution that is without question considered immoral by modern Western society.

Don't fool yourself. Western societies, too, have forms of slavery that they morally approve of. They just get themselves off the hook by calling them by different names than slavery. For example, I'm pretty sure you would find it hard to persuade an anthropologist from Mars that compulsory military service is not slavery, or at least indentured servitude. It is not, after all, a distinction with much of a difference.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:34 am
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:
But saying "I could kill you, so enslaving you is a good moral choice" is not a defensible position.

Why not? If no alternative set of rules leads to an outcome that you and I would both prefer, that's enough for me to make this one defensible.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:37 am
A reasonable case can be made that slavery was never morally justifiable in the eyes of society, but only in the eyes of ruling elites. The latifundia in the Roman Empire destroyed the livelihoods of small holders and small craftsmen in the West, and the population of Rome swelled as Roman citizens and those with "Latin rights" flooded into the City to get the dole. Those freemen could usually only find work on construction projects by the imperial administration or by wealthy members of the Patrician class, who had sense enough, at least, not to trust slaves to build the roof over their collective head. The collapse of imperial authority in the west of the empire after 400 can be attributed in large part to the economic collapse arising from centuries of the capitalist greed enshrined in the latifundia, and that is in my never humble opinion, the principle cause of that collapse.

In the American example, the institution of slavery was defended and preserved by Southerners who held the constitutional convention hostage to their demands. The system of slavery in the South lead to the impoverishment of free, non-slave owning whites in the South which can be seen to have lasted from 1783 to 1963 at least. The "poor white trash" of the South were poor precisely because the institutions of the South during slavery assured (just as was the case in the western portion of the Roman empire) that poor whites could not compete with slave labor either as small holders or as small craftsmen, and the Northern economic occupation of the South from 1865 to the late 1960s continued to offer poor white Southerners little to no opportunity to make good while remaining at home. This does not mean that poor whites in the South could not make good, it just meant that they could not make good in the South.

One might allege that slavery was once considered morally defensible, but only if one listens only to those who erected and maintained the institution, and ignores that this was a tiny, tiny minority who didn't give a rat's ass what it entailed for the vast majority of people, slave or free.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:41 am
@Thomas,
A mutually acceptable, or mutually beneficial, outcome does not guarantee that it is a moral choice.

The classic discussion topic that I remember from college is this:

A single mother is struggling to support her kids. One needs medical attention that she cannot afford. Someone offers her money for performing a sexual act. Is that moral behavior?
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:44 am
E_Brown's silly thesis about religion as the fount of morality doesn't hold up very well in a consideration of slavery either, given how readily all the various denominations in the United States which were represented in the American South justified the "peculiar institution." Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was a devout Presbyterian, and Robert Lee and J. E. B. Stuart were both devout Anglicans--and Stuart was an evangelic into the bargain, who conspired with Jackson to create a corps of chaplains for the Army of Northern Virginia. Leonidas Polk, who achieved the rank of Lieutenant General in the Confederate States Army, and who served in every major campaign in the West in the American Civil War, until he was killed in the Atlanta campaign, was the Episcopal Bishop for the diocese of Louisiana.

Bringing up slavery is a bad idea for anyone who wishes to imply or infer that religion is the proper source of morality.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:46 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
My argument is based on process of elimination (which is perhaps the best way to prove a negative).

It may be the best way, but it's not terribly convincing when you've only eliminated two possibilities (religion and science) and then, on that basis, you declare victory. Neither your lack of imagination nor the feebleness of your opponents' imagined arguments is a sufficient basis for saying that there can be no such thing as a universal system of morality.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:48 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
. . . your opponents' imagined arguments . . . (emphasis added)


A most felicitous turn of phrase . . .
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:51 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
E_Brown's silly thesis about religion as the fount of morality


My thesis is that there is no fount of morality other than than the cultural context a system of morals is a part of. This is quite a bit different than saying that religion is the fount of morality.

I claim that there is no "proper" source of morality, not religion, not science not anything.

So don't worry, I am not saying that the morality of religious people is superior to yours. I am simply saying that your moral values are not intrinsically superior to those of religious people.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:53 am
@joefromchicago,
I haven't declared victory. This is an ongoing discussion. I am suggesting a process of elimination in our as of yet unsuccessful search for something objective on which one could base a system of morality.

We have discussed religion, science and game theory. Do you have anything else to put on the table?
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 10:58 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

I haven't declared victory. This is an ongoing discussion. I am suggesting a process of elimination in our as of yet unsuccessful search for something objective on which one could base a system of morality.

We have discussed religion, science and game theory. Do you have anything else to put on the table?

Go back to my previous post -- the one you didn't respond to. As I said there: "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."
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:01 am
@ebrown p,
string theory; I've always been a fan of Bokononism.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:08 am
@ebrown p,
Quote:
My thesis is that there is no fount of morality other than than the cultural context a system of morals is a part of. This is quite a bit different than saying that religion is the fount of morality.

I claim that there is no "proper" source of morality, not religion, not science not anything.


First, you stated that you would not respond to me. I knew you couldn't hold it in.

Second, if not anything is the source of morality, then either morality does not exist, or it exists independently of humanity.

Third, you are lying. Earlier, in your opening post . . .

You wrote:
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.


. . . and . . .

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


So, it appears that in that first post, you were asserting that culture is "the proper source" for morality. Either you were lying then, or you're lying now, or you just can't keep your own argument straight. Based on your performace in this thread, and Wilso's hate thread, i'll plump for the last explanation.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:11 am
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:
A single mother is struggling to support her kids. One needs medical attention that she cannot afford. Someone offers her money for performing a sexual act. Is that moral behavior?

Yes. Mr. "Someone" is better off, because he prefers the sex to the money he's paying. The mother is better off because she prefers saving her child over not having sex. The child is better off because it gets medical attention. Case closed.

On second thought, let me hedge that. At the very least, this scenario is morally preferable over the alternative of Mr. Someone not offering the money.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:21 am
@Thomas,
The professor of the ethics course would not agree with you.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:21 am
@Setanta,
Quote:

First, you stated that you would not respond to me. I knew you couldn't hold it in.


Sorry, It seemed to me you were being a bit more reasonable.

Quote:

So, it appears that in that first post, you were asserting that culture is "the proper source" for morality.


No you are misinterpreting my first post. I am stating that any system of morality is a feature of a specific culture. I am also stating that religion is a feature of a specific culture.

I have never said that religion is a "proper source" of morality-- how could I? The term "proper source" is a subjective judgment. A subjective judgment is useless in a discussion about whether there is an objective system of morality.

My thesis is that morality is a cultural phenomenon that has no basis in anything universal.

Quote:
Either you were lying then, or you're lying now, or you just can't keep your own argument straight.


It would be nice to be able to have a civil discussion with you.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:22 am
Whoever framed that question seems to have had an a priori assumption that prostitution is morally indefensible. I suspect that whoever was neither a prostitute nor a whoremonger--at the very least.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:32 am
@ebrown p,
Quote:
Sorry, It seemed to me you were being a bit more reasonable.


Don't apologize, i find you highly entertaining. It seems to me that your definition of reasonable would mean that i don't point out that this entire thread is a product of the dissatisfaction you appear to have experienced with the pissing match which you started with FM and with me in Wilso's hate thread.

Quote:
No you are misinterpreting my first post. I am stating that any system of morality is a feature of a specific culture. I am also stating that religion is a feature of a specific culture.

I have never said that religion is a "proper source" of morality-- how could I? The term "proper source" is a subjective judgment. By definition, a subjective judgment, is useless in a discussion about whether there is an objective system of morality.


I've misinterpreted nothing. The allegation that a system of morality is a feature of culture and that religion is a feature of culture means absolutely nothing. Communication systems whereby food and the materials for shelter and clothing are delivered is a feature of culture. Can you explain to me the relationship of communications systems with morality?

As for the term "pr0per source," i got that from you. Get a mirror and tell yourself what i never needed you to tell me.

Quote:
My thesis is that morality is a cultural phenomenon that has no basis in anything universal.


Jeeze, you really can't keep track of your argument, can you?

I wrote: So, it appears that in that first post, you were asserting that culture is "the proper source" for morality. (I put proper source in quote marks because--surprise, surprise--i was quoting you.) You then claim that i've misinterpreted your first post, and end that allegation by writing: My thesis is that morality is a cultural phenomenon that has no basis in anything universal. It should be obvious why i say you can't keep your argument straight. At the very least, you are expressing your thesis very poorly, either here or you were expressing it poorly in your first post.

The evidence to me seems to be that you assert that the source of morality is culture. It is a matter of indifference to me whether or not you consider that proper--but it was you who introduced the idea of propriety.

When you contradict yourself repeatedly, then either you are lying, or you are confused. It is not incivility to point this out to you, for all that you may not like reading it.

0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:35 am
@Thomas,
but being "better off" has nothing to do with morality. that's merely being better off.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:38 am
@dagmaraka,
dagmaraka wrote:

but being "better off" has nothing to do with morality. that's merely being better off.

Depends upon your moral system. A utilitarian would say that being better off has a lot to do with morality.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 11:45 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
"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."


How would you objectively judge which propositions are "self-evident"?

First, let's define the term: I propose the term "self-evident" means that any human being (or intelligent being) will automatically see the truth in the proposition regardless of their culture. Is this an acceptable definition, or would you like to propose another?

If we can agree on this definition, I don't think that there are many (if any) of these "self-evident" propositions-- and I suspect any that exist are too vague to be useful for answering any important moral question. If such self-evident propositions existed, wouldn't this mean that cultures would tend to have the same moral values?

Would you care to give an example of such a self-evident proposition?
 

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