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Morality without Religion.

 
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:19 pm
@Ceili,
Quote:
My thread implies, just as Hitchens asks, that it is possible to have so ethics and morals without religion. If fact, if you break it right down, religion/religious leader do not have the moral authority to preach they are moral authority.


I agree with this completely. I might change the word "religion" to "absolute truth". Lots of Atheists preach a moral authority that they don't have (any more than "religious" preachers).

Quote:
What do they do differently that would compel me to follow their version, than what I know in my own true heart to be right and wrong?


Exactly! Finally someone understand what I am trying to say.
Diest TKO
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:23 pm
@ebrown p,
The difference between a moral standard or authority that is created by an Atheist vice one created by a Theist is that the authority that the Theist cites is unchallengeable.

This is a pretty huge division, when you think about the implications.
K
O
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:27 pm
@Diest TKO,
Quote:
I don't think many Atheists believe in some universal truth.


I claim there is no such thing as "objective morality". I don't see how you can have "objective morality" without a universal truth.

Quote:
t is merely an facsimile for the idea that healthy human interaction and socially agreeable morals/ethics are intuitive.


I don't buy this at all. Different cultures have had wildly different ideas about what constitutes "socially agreeable" morals/ethics.

What you find socially agreeable is a function of the society you live in.

Quote:
The idea that the Atheist must be religious to have a place in the discussion is incorrect.


I don't believe in God. I suppose by definition this makes me an atheist.

But, I part company with people who deny the existence of a diety, but refuse to give up the idea of a universal moral truth. The number of Atheists cling to this idea keep me from wanted to be called "Atheist".

I prefer the term "irreligious" (a term that I don't think applies to many Atheist).

Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:34 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

I don't buy this at all. Different cultures have had wildly different ideas about what constitutes "socially agreeable" morals/ethics.

What you find socially agreeable is a function of the society you live in.


This is easily testable. What society has ever excluded the "golden rule?"

Like I said, I'm not fond of "universal truth," and perhaps "objective morality" is a weak term as well, but I think that some things are intuitive.

We digress though, I think the basic question remains: What moral conclusion can not be had without religion?

The short and quick of this is that Atheists are no less moral/immoral than Theists are and the Theists don't get to pose as referees on the matter.

T
K
O
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:36 pm
@Diest TKO,
Quote:
The difference between a moral standard or authority that is created by an Atheist vice one created by a Theist is that the authority that the Theist cites is unchallengeable.

This is a pretty huge division, when you think about the implications.


Bull! Moral Absolutism is Moral Absolutism. There is no difference between the Theists and Atheists in this regard.

I bet I could easily come up with moral standards that Joe, or Ceilli or even Setanta would feel are "unchallengeable" even though they were incorporated into other functioning cultures.

You can't believe that your beliefs are somehow part of a universal truth outside of your society without they idea that they are "unchallengeable".
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:42 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
First, you are wrong about my system of morality (and I should know, it is my system of morality).

Yeah, it's always kinda' surprising when folks don't understand their own beliefs. But there you are.

ebrown p wrote:
I have a strong sense of moral obligation. It is kind of annoying for people to think that just because I don't believe in a Supreme Moral Truth, that I can't be a moral person. This is very clearly not true.

No, quite the contrary. I don't think that, just because you don't believe in a "Supreme Moral Truth" (whatever that is), you can't be a moral person. Rather, I think you can't have a system of morality because you don't believe in morality at all.

ebrown p wrote:
I assume you believe (as I do) that we didn't come from a creator and humans weren't made with any specific purpose. We evolved out of natural processes. As part of this process of evolution, we developed as social creatures. And as part of being social creatures we learned social skills; among these are language and moral values.

That may very well be true. But then if morals are nothing but human constructs, then there's nothing really to distinguish them from customs or traditions, as you yourself have admitted. The question, then, is why you think you have any kind of obligation to follow those traditions and customs that you label "morals."

ebrown p wrote:
It is also true that among different groups of human beings, human traits like language and moral values developed in drastically different ways. All humans have a language, the languages are different. And, all humans have a moral code, but the moral codes are quite different). You can no sooner say that one societies moral code is superior to another's as you can say that one language is superior to another.

Why not?

ebrown p wrote:
Where does this objective morality you insist exists come from?

Certainly this morality doesn't exist outside of human society. Animals act in ways that you would find immoral all the time (from child neglect, to rape, to vicious wars to murder of sexual partners).

I submit that morality doesn't exist outside of human societies. And therefore there is no objective way to judge between the morality of one society and another.

I agree that there is no morality outside of human society. That doesn't mean, however, that all human societies are right about morality.

ebrown p wrote:
You are insisting that there is this "objective morality". But as the Universe doesn't care if humans live or die or suffer or prosper... where would this "objective morality" come from?

Many philosophers have posited that a moral code can be derived logically. Frankly, I have never found one that is not, in some way or another, flawed. In my opinion, the best is the system proposed by John Rawls. His system is based on the notion of the "original position." But then I don't have to propose a particular system of objective morality to conclude that subjective morality doesn't make any sense, since subjective morality fails on its own terms.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:42 pm
@Diest TKO,
The Atheists wouldn't accept the first commandment- "Thou shalt have no God before me". The argument was that this was a "doctrine" rather than an ethical standard because it didn't involve an action.

So let's go to the second- "Thou shalt not worship idols". It is clear that to the people of this society, this was every bit a moral standard. Like any moral standard, it defined who was "good" and "bad" in that society.

The fact that Atheists look into a society, and from outside judge which of their rules are "moral standards" is telling in itself. It seems clear that people inside of a society should judge what constitutes morality for themselves-- unless Atheists have access to some Universal Truth that makes their view superior.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:44 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

Joe, rereading your argument-- I am not clear on your distinction between "absolute moral truth" (my term) and "objective morality".

Is there a conceptual distinction here that I am missing?


I don't like the phrase "absolute morality" because it lends itself too easily to strawman arguments. "Objective morality" makes more sense and it is less ambiguous. See this post for more details.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  0  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 04:50 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
But then I don't have to propose a particular system of objective morality to conclude that subjective morality doesn't make any sense, since subjective morality fails on its own terms.


You keep claiming that I can't be a moral person without believing in some universal objective morality. Christians keep claiming that I can't be a moral person without believing in God.

I say hogwash to you both.

Just like you, I have deeply felt moral obligations to my family, friends and society at large. The difference is that I accept that my morality is subjective stemming from a specific social context (shaped some by my own personal values and beliefs).

Subjective morality is all you have got (whether you accept it or not). There is no other type of morality. This is why you keep claiming why you don't have to suggest a foundation for one.

spendius
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:01 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
The question, then, is why you think you have any kind of obligation to follow those traditions and customs that you label "morals."


Which is the real question. The why.

Habit, as has been said. Habit derived from the customs and traditions of people who did believe in God. Because they feared God. To inhibit the biological impulses one has to fear something. Any animal trainer will tell you that and atheists think we are animals.

It can be fear of disapproval of those whose customs and traditions are derived from a fear of God. Or, to put it another way, the desire to be thought a nice guy and thus get on.

It can be fear of the law.

The fear of God, it seems to me, is less undignified.

0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:12 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
It is nonsense to judge an ethical system from outside of the social context that it exists in.

Before I moved to America, would it have been nonsense to say it's wrong of the minutemen in America to harass Mexicans? Would the statement have made more sense after I moved to America, into the social context where minutemen and Mexican immigrants live?

Does my moving to America, and out of the German context, make it absurd to say it is wrong of German skinheads to beat up gays and Turks?

Independent of whether I live in Germany or America, is it nonsense for me to say that mutilating the genitalia of teenage girls in Africa is morally wrong? Not wrong, not non-of-my-business, but nonsense?

It is suggestions like these that seem like nonsense to me. And yet your position clearly implies them.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:14 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
You are setting up a religious system which is based on nothing.

You say that as if it were a problem. Most religious systems are based on nothing.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:22 pm
@ebrown p,
Quote:
I claim there is no such thing as "objective morality".

I don't think that's a problem for Joe. The problem for Joe seems to be your claim that there is such a thing as subjective morality? If, as you say, morality is indistinguishable from mores, customs, and habits, in what way can you call your convictions moral at all? How do you distinguish them from mere habits that are hard to break? (Stealing Joefromchicago's phrase here)
0 Replies
 
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:26 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

Quote:
The difference between a moral standard or authority that is created by an Atheist vice one created by a Theist is that the authority that the Theist cites is unchallengeable.

This is a pretty huge division, when you think about the implications.


Bull! Moral Absolutism is Moral Absolutism. There is no difference between the Theists and Atheists in this regard.

Nonsense. If one has a unchallengeable authority, then it has no ability for review given more information/data. A moral absolute based on what we can all observe and based on logical arguments we are entitle to hear is a far shoot from a moral absolute forged by a unseen and unchallengeable authority.

False equivocation on your part.
ebrown p wrote:

I bet I could easily come up with moral standards that Joe, or Ceilli or even Setanta would feel are "unchallengeable" even though they were incorporated into other functioning cultures.

I don't think you can. Any moral standard you could provide would probably be highly challengeable. The ability to be challenged, doesn't mean that it folds, it means that the conclusion can be rebuilt from common and shared information.

Murder is either:
a) Right
b) Wrong, because someone says so.
c) Wrong, based on sound argument.

You can't challenge a god on if murder is right or wrong. You can however come to your own conclusion on murder given the same information everyone is given.

ebrown p wrote:

You can't believe that your beliefs are somehow part of a universal truth outside of your society without they idea that they are "unchallengeable".

If I think murder is right. I am free to challenge the reasoning that murder is wrong. If I want to challenge the ruling of a deity, how can I challenge it?

Take a less severe topic: Homosexuality.

Society has been condemning it for a long time. I can challenge that reasoning, and provide reasoning to say that homosexuality is not immoral. I cannot however challenge a god to provide the same reasoning as to why it is immoral.

I can challenge my parking tickets. Doesn't mean I'll get out of paying them. If instead I had no option to challenge the ticket, the system would be dramatically different regardless of me being right or wrong.

T
K
O
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:28 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
Not wrong, not non-of-my-business, but nonsense?


Which means there is no reason for such a practice. That's a bit judgmental on another culture as if they have no reason. They might say that pampering the whatsits is nonsense.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:33 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
Bull! Moral Absolutism is Moral Absolutism. There is no difference between the Theists and Atheists in this regard.

Please define moral absolutism.

The reason I'm asking is that I believe there are moral facts, but I'm open to the possibility that I may be wrong about some of them and somebody else may be right. Does that make me a moral absolutist?
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 05:55 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
You keep claiming that I can't be a moral person without believing in some universal objective morality. Christians keep claiming that I can't be a moral person without believing in God.

I say hogwash to you both.

That's it? That's your response? The mountain labored mightily and produced a mouse.

ebrown p wrote:
Just like you, I have deeply felt moral obligations to my family, friends and society at large. The difference is that I accept that my morality is subjective stemming from a specific social context (shaped some by my own personal values and beliefs).

Subjective morality is all you have got (whether you accept it or not). There is no other type of morality. This is why you keep claiming why you don't have to suggest a foundation for one.

Well, considering that you've never made a convincing argument for subjective morality, I'm not sure why it's my job to come up with a more convincing argument for objective morality.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 06:40 pm
ebrown p, suppose we accept, for the sake of discussion, that moral rules cannot be judged from outside the social context they were made for. In your view, why can they be judged from within the social context they were made for?
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 07:05 pm
@Thomas,
I think that he's referring to whether there is a universal, objective moral standard against which our cultural morality can be measured.
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 07:18 pm
@DrewDad,
I understand that ebrown p thinks that there is no objective moral standard.

At the same time, he does appear to think that there are subjective moral standards. That's what I don't understand. If it's subjective how can it be a standard? Why doewn't he just say there are no standards of morality? I'm not saying I would agree if that was what he said. But this statement would at least be intelligible to me.

0 Replies
 
 

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