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Define Morality

 
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 03:03 pm
@Olivier5,
...oh boy one just needs to watch the debates and see how indeterministic their all stretch of reasoning goes...they speak of causation 99% of the time and when they can't they are honest enough to admit bottom line we don't know what is happening...
Chumly
 
  4  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 03:49 pm
@neologist,
I'll go with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and state that morality can be defined in evolutionary terms, and by a scientific understanding in more general terms.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 04:11 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Quote:
...oh boy one just needs to watch the debates

On youtube? LOL
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 04:38 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Modern Western morality is based on the the myth of human rights.

Then how do explain that neither Plato, nor Aristotle, nor Moses or Leviticus say a word about them? How do you explain that Jeremy Bentham, a very influential moral Western moral philosopher, called human rights "nonsense on stilts"? Give Western morality credit for being based on broader foundations than that.

maxdancona wrote:
If there is no such thing as human rights... then Western ideas about about morality crumble.

Do you agree with that Joe?

Joe can speak for himself, but I emphatically disagree.

maxdancona wrote:
The problem is that there is no reason to believe that humans have rights.

Whether that be true or not, there definitely is reason to believe that humans achieve greater well-being for more people when they organize in societies that recognize human rights and act like it.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 04:53 pm
Tacitus in Germania and Strabo in various essays in the Geographica both assert that their subjects (German tribesmen in the former case, Keltic tribesmen in the latter) recognized no greater authority than the tribe, and that only in time of national emergency. Otherwise, the will of the individual was not to be trammeled. It was not a case of asserting human rights, it was a case of asserting that there was no one with the right to interfere with them, other than all the individuals in the tribe assembled.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 05:44 pm
@Thomas,
Hi Thomas,

You missed the "modern part" of my term "Modern Western Cultures". In the other thread I pointed out that the

someone wrote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness


These ideas were clearly around by the 18th century. I would argue that almost all of the direction of Western Culture since that point has revolved around human rights. The institution of modern Democracy, the abolition of Slavery, Women's Suffrage, Civil Rights, Same Sex Marriage, Labor Rights, Child Labor Laws-- all of these things come from the idea that humans have basic rights.

I read up on Jeremy Bentham from our earlier discussions. He replaces "human rights" with "human happiness". It doesn't seem much difference (and the Declaration of independence merges them).

Every system of absolute morality is based on something that is so immensely important that it can not be violated. It might be the idea of "the greatest happiness". It might be the idea that humans have rights. It might be the idea that order must be preserved. It might be subservience to a throne, a person of a deity.

But no system of absolute morality can explain why their basis is any valid. It all comes down to faith in some unproven principle.

Absolute morality comes down to a mythology. You believe that it is moral because it is moral. There is nothing more to it than that.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 05:57 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
You believe that it is moral because it is moral. There is nothing more to it than that.

There's nothing wrong with that either. It's impossible to live a truly human life without holding some beliefs. You can't make much mathematics without some axioms either.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 06:49 pm
@Olivier5,
Within a single cultural context, the question of moral relativism and moral absolutism is all the same.

My beliefs about right and wrong are surely almost exactly the same as Joe's. The fact that one of us is a moral relativist and the other a moral absolutist is irrelevant since both of us are part of the same culture and were inculcated with the same values. Within a single frame of reference, relativism and absolutism are the same.

The difference is how we handle being confronted with a culture that is very different than ours. How do we deal with the fact that other cultures have very different ideas about right and wrong than we do.

My moral beliefs about freedom, and equality and human rights are very strong (which is normal for a progressive American). However, I need to recognize that there are people in other cultures (both past an present) that have vastly different ideas. And, in the name of intellectual honesty, I need to accept that there is nothing to distinguish between one set of intrinsic values and another except for sincere belief.

These things are true because we believe they are true.

This is why, when I am confronted with other belief system, I feel it is important to understand that other people have the same sincerity in their beliefs that I do.

My culture is the dominant culture. We have military power, economic power and cultural power to pressure other cultures to submit to our values. That doesn't make us right.


Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 06:56 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
But no system of absolute morality can explain why their basis is any valid. It all comes down to faith in some unproven principle.

This may be a problem when you think of morality as some kind of Platonic ideal. But if you think of morality as a tool, you don't need fancy-shmancy proofs. Just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of the morality is in the living under it.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 07:17 pm
Define Moriarty: Moriarty is a fictional character in some of the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Moriarty is a criminal mastermind ...





OK, I'm leaving...
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 07:31 pm
@Thomas,
I agree with that completely, Thomas.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 08:02 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
I agree with that completely, Thomas.

Oh no! What did I do wrong?
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  3  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 09:28 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
My beliefs about right and wrong are surely almost exactly the same as Joe's. The fact that one of us is a moral relativist and the other a moral absolutist is irrelevant since both of us are part of the same culture and were inculcated with the same values.

On the contrary, it makes all the difference in the world. I believe that morality is absolute, therefore when I act according to morality's dictates, I act in a morally praiseworthy manner. Because you don't believe in morality (or, rather, you believe in moral relativity, which is the same thing), when you act according to what you view as morality's dictates, your action is not morally praiseworthy, since your morals are nothing more than social customs. At most, your action merits some level of social approbation, much the same as if you covered your mouth while yawning or held a door open for an elderly person. Likewise, when you violate what you view as morality's dictates, your action is not morally blameworthy.

maxdancona wrote:
This is why, when I am confronted with other belief system, I feel it is important to understand that other people have the same sincerity in their beliefs that I do.

Sincerity does not equal truth. If I sincerely believe that 2+2=6, that doesn't mean I'm right.

But why should you respect anyone else's sincerely held beliefs? Are you morally obligated to do so?
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 09:56 pm
@joefromchicago,
I disagree Joe. People should be judged for what they do (not for what they believe).
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2015 10:17 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Sincerity does not equal truth. If I sincerely believe that 2+2=6, that doesn't mean I'm right.


Mythology doesn't equal truth either.

The process of addition is universal. It has been developed by multiple unrelated cultures... and all are in agreement. Every culture that has developed addition agrees that 2+2 = 4.

If you ask me to explain why 2+2 must equal four, I can explain it from first principles, starting with counting. I won't ask you to accept anything about addition without an explanation.

Morality doesn't work like mathematics. Your morality is based on things that you believe are true because they are true... you can give no explanation for why.
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2015 04:38 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:

Quote:
You believe that it is moral because it is moral. There is nothing more to it than that.

There's nothing wrong with that either. It's impossible to live a truly human life without holding some beliefs. You can't make much mathematics without some axioms either.


With all the respect in the world, Olivier, one most assuredly can live "truly human life" without holding any "beliefs."

All one has to do is to refrain from disguising guesses, thoughts, expectations, estimations, deductions, presumptions, suppositions, speculations and such as "beliefs."

It is easy to do.

I refrain from doing it with no trouble.

So I do not do any "believing."

And I am living a truly human life.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2015 06:19 am
Max, I'd be interested in your answer to these questions of Joe's:

joefromchicago wrote:
But why should you respect anyone else's sincerely held beliefs? Are you morally obligated to do so?

What warrants respect in other people's beliefs? If your whole point is that morality is relative, shouldn't you refrain from judging them either way, neither respecting nor disrespecting them?
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2015 08:34 am
@maxdancona,
Quote:
And, in the name of intellectual honesty, I need to accept that there is nothing to distinguish between one set of intrinsic values and another except for sincere belief.

I don't agree that it's ONLY based on belief. People are instinctively attached to their freedom and it is hard work to enforce a dictatorship on them. People are ready to die for a chance to get a modicum of freedom. Closed societies are also less successful on average than open ones because of the deleterious effects of dogma on scientific research, politics and warfare. You judge a tree by its fruits.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2015 08:49 am
@Frank Apisa,
Guess away.
Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Sat 20 Jun, 2015 08:52 am
@Olivier5,
No need to do any guessing on this, Olivier.

0 Replies
 
 

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