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  Topic: Objective Morality, I define my objective moral code.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Spike



Posts: 49
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2006,08:33   

Based on some discussion at Pharyngula regarding abortion and morality, (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/05/davescot_defender_of_terrorism.php ) I have been thinking about the comment that there is no such thing as an objective moral code. Poppycock!

I believe that an objective moral code can be developed by applying methodologies similar to science. One can observe the way people behave and the consequences of their behavior. One can judge how beneficial those behaviors are to the people and try to figure out principles that apply to the observed events. The result is a moral code that is derived from the natural world. One does not need to have a degree from a prestigious university to develop a worthwhile, objective moral code; you just have to decide to do it using the methodology outlined above.

Imagine a "moral ladder,"

The first rung: Protect your life and help innocents protect theirs.

The second rung: Protect your body, intellect and emotions and help innocents protect theirs.

Third: Protect your property and help innocents protect theirs.

Fourth: Restore those you have harmed and help innocents be restored by those who have harmed them.

Fifth: Cooperate when it is mutually beneficial.

Sixth: Explore and understand the universe.

Seventh: Enjoy yourself!

One upright of the ladder is "Protect your liberty and help innocents protect theirs."

The other is "Protect your integrity and help innocents protect theirs."

Liberty and Integrity are the two uprights because none of the moral "rungs" can stand up without them.

I believe this moral code is objective because every person who follows it will benefit. Every moral problem can be addressed by referring to this moral code. I don't mean that every moral problem is readily solvable to everyone's satisfaction by applying it, because each person has their own idea of how to protect themselves and others. But thatís what discussion is for Ė to work out the meaning of the code and when and how to apply it. Which is why Iím posting it here: To get your reaction and see how it can be improved.

I believe this code is objective because it has natural consequences. No government, culture or religion is required to benefit from this moral code. Governments are useful in helping objectify the meaning and application of moral codes, helping you protect yourself and others, and providing forums for the resolution of disputes. Culture is useful when it comes to moral codes for informally doing the same things as government Ė actually, culture comes first and governmental ideals are developed from cultural ones. Religion is just superfluous.

So please, tell me why this code could not be used by every person on earth. Tell me a case where it would not apply.

  
Renier



Posts: 276
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 16 2006,22:32   

Determinism. People don't always make the right choices, because many times they are unable to.

My view is that people do not have free will. Various factors form the basis of every choice/decision that they make. Factors like upbringing, mood (brain chemistry), past experience, social influence etc.

You moral code is great, but many people would not be able to adhere to it. People walk around with hundreds of memes that would not allow them to accept you moral code. Religion springs to mind. Then, think of a person with a serious brain chemistry inbalance. Imagine such a person commits suicide, due to the biological factors (depression). This person was not able to protect him/herself.

  
Spike



Posts: 49
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2006,14:44   

Reiner,

Thanks.

Perhaps I don't understand what determinism is, so if I'm misreading your post, I apologize in advance.

I do agree that there are some people with physical limits to their their ability to think or to act on their thoughts - the way I wrote my post doesn't take these people into account. But because these kinds of people exsit is why we who can act freely need to help protect the innocents who cannot protect themselves. If this were not true, then no one would ever have a moral obligation to help developmentally disabled people, children who were drugged to fight as soldiers, or slaves, for example.

But regarding all the other factors - which religion we were brought up in, which culture, which family - we can behave in ways that surpass, or fall short of our upbringing. Some religionists become free thinkers, some atheists convert to religion, kids raised by bigoted parents grow up to fight racism, and some Quaker kids eventually end up in the military, to name a few examples.

I certainly don't expct that everyone will be moral, all the time. If you know of such a person, who is living, please point that one out to me - I'd become their student!

  
sir_toejam



Posts: 846
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2006,14:54   

Quote
I certainly don't expct that everyone will be moral, all the time. If you know of such a person, who is living, please point that one out to me - I'd become their student!


how would one go about finding such a person?

morality being relative, you'd have to refine that to saying you seek someone who follows all of the moral precepts you defined, all of the time, yes?

but would i consider the same person to be "moral"?

would anybody other than yourself, really?

example:

Quote
One can judge how beneficial those behaviors are to the people and try to figure out principles that apply to the observed events


that would only work for the time, place, and specific circumstances in which you measured the apparent 'benefit' of a given behavior in an altruistic sense.

and that of course assumes that altruism is a moral characterstic to begin with, yes?

  
beervolcano



Posts: 147
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2006,15:20   

Quote
Imagine a "moral ladder,"

The first rung: Protect your life and help innocents protect theirs.

WHY?

Who's "innocent" and of what? You're not starting from scratch here. You're starting from some subjective presuppositions.

 
Quote
The second rung: Protect your body, intellect and emotions and help innocents protect theirs.

Why? For what objective reason should I do this?

 
Quote
Third: Protect your property and help innocents protect theirs.

WHY? And wouldn't this be a corollary to the second rung? Or could the one rung be "protect the material interests of you and 'innocents'" which would cover it?
Again, there is no objective reason for me to do this?
It matters what you or others value. Why do you value certain things? Why do you value your own life or the life of others? Are the ultimate reasons objective?

 
Quote
Fourth: Restore those you have harmed and help innocents be restored by those who have harmed them.

Define harm. How broadly or narrowly should we define 'harm'? Am I harming people by helping them get to heaven? Am I harming people by telling them there is no heaven? How do I decide these things objectively?

 
Quote
Fifth: Cooperate when it is mutually beneficial.

Beneficial in what way and to whom? Physically benificial to one person or to all people? Those goals may be at odds with one another. Or maybe beneficial to the entire planet?

 
Quote
Sixth: Explore and understand the universe.

Why? What reason should I have to do this? To damage the universe and infect it with destructive life? Understand it so I can conquer it? What? What is objectively "good" or "moral" about doing this?

 
Quote
Seventh: Enjoy yourself!

Why? What kind of moral is this but subjective? Why is this any better or more moral than doing what monks do, depriving themselves of pleasure?

 
Quote
One upright of the ladder is "Protect your liberty and help innocents protect theirs."

The other is "Protect your integrity and help innocents protect theirs."

Liberty and Integrity are the two uprights because none of the moral "rungs" can stand up without them

Whatever. I don't see anything objective in any of this. They are just your opinions as to how people should live, but there's no objective reason for anyone to do these things.

What is beneficial and to whom? What is objectively good? or bad?

--------------
("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into."--Jonathan Swift)

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 18 2006,16:25   

That's pretty harsh coming from a guy that can't wait to get to FSM heaven. (Not that I blame you, jesus, a beer volcano, I'd think I died and went to heaven, er.. nevermind)

An objective moral code may indeed be possible, but I have to agree with the beervulcan that yours isn't.

But don't let that stop you. The nice thing about moral codes is that they make you feel good. Sometimes, you just need to write it down so you understand where you are coming from. Then you feel good. Decency is a hard word to pin down and it is the central tenet in many moral codes. That doesn't make them any less capable of helping you get along.

I think you are just expressing your frustration with the fundy tendency to want to force the rest of the world into some wierd kind of slavery and using expressly lies, violence and coersion as their primary tools. I'm guessing that is what you are expressing; a resentment of that fact.

Am I close?

(The next session will be $125, payable to PT)

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Renier



Posts: 276
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 19 2006,00:28   

Spike. I think everyone here would agree that your "codes" would really be good, if everyone abided by it. Problem is, some people are good, some people are bad. That's why we have laws, to protect society.

In a way, it seems like your "code" is really the old concept of honour.

There are however millions of people who would not be able to abide by your code, in the sense that you would want them to. People are complex. Someone can harm another person, and justify it in a million ways. You might think it is wrong, but the person committing the act thinks it is right.

In the end, being "objective" about it is very hard to do.

  
Spike



Posts: 49
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 19 2006,01:17   

Quote
Quote

I certainly don't expct that everyone will be moral, all the time. If you know of such a person, who is living, please point that one out to me - I'd become their student!  


how would one go about finding such a person?



sir_toejam: Perhaps by acting as Diogenes and wandering around Athens with a lamp looking for an honest face?

You and others keep asserting that morality is relative. I don't buy it. There is no objective argument that proves morality to be relative.

People who enjoy S&M can do so without too much worry, so long as both participants are willing, but if someone performs sadistic acts on another who is unwilling, we consider the sadist to be evil and do everything we can to stop them. (If any reader disagrees, pelase defend your reasoning.)

If morality is relative means all moral decisions are equally valid, then anything goes. No matter what I do to you, you have no recourse. My morality is just as good as yours, so you have no reason to feel peevish if I take your stuff, shoot your dog, eat your children, or torch your home.


BWE: I don't really ahve any frustration with fundamentalists religionist moral codes, other that the fact that the religionist moral codes suffer from their foundation on a false belief - that they were handed down from on high by a prefectly moral being and are therefore immutable. I'm not really frustrated with this, it's just incorrect.

My frustration is more with others in the free-thinking community when they make the claim that morality is relative - for the reasons I noted above.

I believe that we can discover objective moral truths, in the same way that we have discovered objective scientific ones. I believe this is so because our minds are part of our material bodies, and are, therefore, a natural phenomenon. And, so far, whenever we are trying to figure out natrual phemomena, we have been very successful using techniques that lead to objective descriptions - well, that sentence reads like shit.

Try again: Our minds are either a natural occurence or a supernatural one. If supernatural, then all bets are off, because anything could be true. If natural, then our minds are decipherable through natural means, just like all the other natural things around us. If this is so, then just like physiologists can figure out the ranges of nutrition and exercise that help our bodies prosper, moral philosophers can figure out the range of behaviors that help our intellects and emotions prosper. But, just like we don't have to wait to eat until we have consulted with a nutritionist, we don't have to wait to act until we have consulted with a moral philosopher. We can use our own minds as much as possible to figure out what is moral and what is not.

If this is untrue, please help me to see how.

beervolcano: I think you are mistaken regarding your expectation of an objective moral code. I already said that defining the terms was a matter of discussion. We have to talk about who is innocent and who causes harm and what it means to be harmed. Much of this discussion is embodied in the philosophy of law.

The fact that we do create laws and discuss their applicability is evidence to me that we are interested in objective standards for these things.

I already said that an objective moral code isn't absolutist, it doesn't mean that everybody protects their life in the exact same way, or that everyone values the same material goods, or that everyone enjoys the same things (even monks enjoy their aestheticism).

An objective moral code is a collection of observed behaviors that tend to lead to the result of human happiness. Is happiness different for different people? Yes, there is a wide range of what makes people happy, but the fact is that every single person strives for it, even if their happiness comes from physical pain and suffering. When the rest of us step in, is when some inflict physical pain and suffering on others who did not volunteer for it.

But people's moral strength ebbs and flows. Right now, I'd say Americans have very little moral strength because of the pain and suffering we allow our government and businesses to inflict on others who have done us no harm. And even you know what it means to be harmed.

  
Renier



Posts: 276
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 19 2006,01:31   

Spike. I really do think Morality is Relative. There is no universal morality. Canibals can munch other people, so for them it is fine and moral. We would have a problem with that, would we not, so our morality (our sense of what is right and what is wrong) differs from theirs. What are the reasons for this? The best explanation, for me, is determinism. Research it.naturalism

  
Spike



Posts: 49
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 19 2006,07:08   

Reiner,

As I mentioned above - if morality is relative and the cannibal came to your house for dinner, there is no argument you could make that would keep you out of the pot and you would have no reason to feel bad looking out at the world from the cannibal's tummy.

I read the site you linked, and did some more research, eventually finding this summary of the ideas of Robert Kane who seems to be a compatibalist who believes that some things are determined and some things are undertermined, but not random, and it's the choices we make when our minds are in indeterminate turmoil that is the exercise of our free will.

My beef with hard determinism is that, if true, then the circumstances of my past and environment combined to make be believe in free will. That's fine. There is nothing that requires determinism to lead us to valid beliefs, as far as I have seen. †But it pretty much precludes any chance that I will be swayed by hard determinist arguments, because changing my mind would be going against my nature, wouldn't it?

If hard determinism is true, then morality is not relative at all, because any person under the same circumstances with the same background would make the same moral choice. That seems pretty objective to me, much like a law of science. But if hard determinism is not true, then we do need objective morality to help us through the moral conflicts, because an objective morality can serve as a reference.

Also, if hard determinism is true, then the hard determinists deserve no credit for their ideas, because anybody could have come up with those ideas under the same circumstances. All papers authored by hard determinists should be signed, "Written not by my hand, but by the laws of nature."

  
Spike



Posts: 49
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 19 2006,11:08   

I've gone to:

Naturalism Philosophy Forum

I'm done here. If you want to chat more, come on over! :):p:O:angry:;):(:D???

  
sir_toejam



Posts: 846
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: May 19 2006,20:50   

Quote
As I mentioned above - if morality is relative and the cannibal came to your house for dinner, there is no argument you could make that would keep you out of the pot and you would have no reason to feel bad looking out at the world from the cannibal's tummy.


sure there's a reason why the cannibals morals would lose in MY home.

now if I went to HIS home, I'd have to make sure I understood how he sees things, so I don't make a mistake that would make me legitimate fodder for the pot.

your premise assumes that the cannibal eats other humans at random, which is demonstrably untrue in any society that has ever exhibited this behavior.

I think you will quickly find your logic to be too flawed to continue with your endeavor, but hey, good luck.

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 20 2006,12:32   

Quote
be the change you want to see
-ghandi

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
beervolcano



Posts: 147
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: May 21 2006,13:45   

[quote=BWE,May 18 2006,21:25][/quote]
Quote
That's pretty harsh coming from a guy that can't wait to get to FSM heaven. (Not that I blame you, jesus, a beer volcano, I'd think I died and went to heaven, er.. nevermind)

I never said I had an objective moral code. I have an unobjective one, for sure. I admit that my faith is not built upon rationality.

I was just trying to show that once you just keep asking why, like a 6 year old, it soon appears that it's pretty difficult, if not impossible to build any kind of moral construct from purely objective principles.

--------------
("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into."--Jonathan Swift)

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 21 2006,16:22   

:)

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
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