Proving absolute morals exist

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Dawgard said:
However you word a sentence, whether imperitive or not, does no make it an actual moral. I could say anything, such as "it is morally acceptable to kill a baby", but that doesn't make it correct. Therefore sentences cannot be morals.
I must not have been clear enough. Let me reiterate: A moral is a true sentence containing a moral predicate. Therefore, since the sentence 'it is morally acceptable to kill babies' is false, that sentence does not count as a genuine moral. Therefore, your counterargument does not apply to moral realism.

But OK, you've made it plain that you don't think that "morals" are true sentences containing moral predicates. Then I repeat my question: what are morals?

You say they are not concrete. You say they are not pie-in-the-sky. Are they abstract entities then? Platonic forms? If there were no humans, would absolute morals still exist? Where do they exist if not in this universe?

You say morals are not definable, yet they can be "reached" through logic and reason, but really, the only justification you've given so far is a pragmatic one: it's good for society if people believe in morals, and they are more likely to believe in morals if we say they are absolute. So basically, morality is in our enlightened self-interest, so we should believe in morals, and we call them "absolute" in order to get more people to believe in them. But enlightened self-interest has never been an adequate foundation for ethics, and pragmatism is but one step removed from relativism. Relativism says do what you want. Pragmatism says do whatever works--for you! So, until you can come up with better logic and reason, it seems you're stuck in the same boat as you say I'm in.

But I'm not stuck in the same boat as the relativists. Just because ancient cultures used to sacrifice babies, it does not follow that the moral realist position that the sentence 'it is wrong that someone tortures babies' is not objectively true. I can only speak from my position as a person raised in a modern, English-speaking civilization, but you are probably correct that if I was raised as an Aztec, I wouldn't have a problem with human sacrifice. Yet, according to moral realism, it would still be morally wrong that I participated in human sacrifice notwithstanding that I actually sacrificed humans. Like I said earlier, there are moral cripples. According to moral realism, a human-sacrificing Aztec would be a moral cripple--though not necessarily evil because they just didn't know the difference between right and wrong. If you were to say that human sacrifice was moral--for Aztecs--THAT is moral relativism. But surely that's not your position. . . .

To use your own analogy, just because someone is brainwashed into believing that 2 + 2 = 5, it does not follow that someone taught through repetition that 2 + 2 = 4 did not learn the truth. Similarly, if someone was raised to think that sacrificing babies to Satan is morally good, it does not follow that someone properly brought up to think that it is morally wrong to sacrifice babies did not learn the objective truth. Just because repetition is involved in learning falsities as well as truth, it does not follow that truth learned through repetition is not truth. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Regarding the indefinability of the moral predicates: as you say, words are intended to represent something. Some words represent simple things, and some words represent complex things. Thus words representing complex things can be defined using words that represent simple things. For example, I could define the word 'horse' as meaning the same as 'a large, solid-hoofed, herbivorous quadruped'.

Alas, it is not so easy with words that represent simple things. Take for example, the word 'yellow'. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines 'yellow' as 'a color like that of egg yolk, ripe lemons, etc.' But what kind of a definition is THAT? Does 'yellow' mean the same as 'egg yolk', or does 'yellow' mean the same as 'ripe lemon'? I don't think it's either. Rather, if you want to know the definition of 'yellow' the dictionary instructs you to find an egg, crack it open, and look at the yolk, then find a ripe lemon and compare the two, and you will see for yourself the one thing that the egg yolk and the ripe lemon have in common: YELLOW!

Oh my God! Repetition! Again! !Que horrible!

In other words, the dictionary itself gives an ostensive definition (look it up!) for the word 'yellow'.

And so it is with the moral predicates. The predicate 'morally wrong' is intended to represent something. The problem is that something is simple, just like yellow is simple. So moral terms cannot be defined using nonmoral terms, in the way 'horse' can be defined using nonhorse terms. So, to say, as you have come close to saying, that 'that which is morally good is that which is conducive to survival' commits a logical fallacy, the naturalistic fallacy, first identified by G.E. Moore in his 1903 Principia Ethica. Similarly, some animal rights activists would like to define 'morally wrong' as 'causing suffering'. But this is like saying that 'yellow' means the same as 'lemon'.

So, moral predicates like 'morally wrong' cannot be defined in nonmoral terms. All I can do is show you suffering, murdering, cheating, mutilating, raping, wasting, vandalizing, etc. But 'morally wrong' does not mean the same as 'suffering', nor does 'morally wrong' mean the same as 'murdering', etc., nor does 'morally wrong' mean all those things taken together. Rather, 'morally wrong' is that quality that all those things have in common, just as 'yellow' represents that quality that egg yolks, ripe lemons, and ripe bananas all have in common.

Sorry, that's the best I can do. But it's also the best anyone else can do. . . .

And a final note, the ostensive definition of 'morally wrong' is absolutely NOT based on a "gut reaction", as you have suggested. Of course feelings of outrage are present upon witnessing a man beat a cripple in a wheelchair. However, feelings of outrage are also present in situations where there is no reason to suppose that something immoral has happened, as when one is caught in a traffic jam.
 
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  • #77
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WarrenPlatts said:
I must not have been clear enough. Let me reiterate: A moral is a true sentence containing a moral predicate. Therefore, since the sentence 'it is morally acceptable to kill babies' is false, that sentence does not count as a genuine moral.
Why? What makes it wrong? How can you prove that is not the actual moral truth? My only point is that morals cannot be proven as such.

WarrenPlatts said:
But OK, you've made it plain that you don't think that "morals" are true sentences containing moral predicates. Then I repeat my question: what are morals?
You say they are not concrete. You say they are not pie-in-the-sky. Are they abstract entities then? Platonic forms? If there were no humans, would absolute morals still exist? Where do they exist if not in this universe?
The closest you could come to defining them would be laws of ideas. Like laws of physics they are not real in an inherent sense, but no one can deny the law of inertia is absolutely true. Problem is, inertia can be proved through observation while morals cannot.

WarrenPlatts said:
You say morals are not definable, yet they can be "reached" through logic and reason, but really, the only justification you've given so far is a pragmatic one: it's good for society if people believe in morals, and they are more likely to believe in morals if we say they are absolute. So basically, morality is in our enlightened self-interest, so we should believe in morals, and we call them "absolute" in order to get more people to believe in them. But enlightened self-interest has never been an adequate foundation for ethics, and pragmatism is but one step removed from relativism. Relativism says do what you want. Pragmatism says do whatever works--for you! So, until you can come up with better logic and reason, it seems you're stuck in the same boat as you say I'm in.
But I'm not stuck in the same boat as the relativists. Just because ancient cultures used to sacrifice babies, it does not follow that the moral realist position that the sentence 'it is wrong that someone tortures babies' is not objectively true. I can only speak from my position as a person raised in a modern, English-speaking civilization, but you are probably correct that if I was raised as an Aztec, I wouldn't have a problem with human sacrifice. Yet, according to moral realism, it would still be morally wrong that I participated in human sacrifice notwithstanding that I actually sacrificed humans. Like I said earlier, there are moral cripples. According to moral realism, a human-sacrificing Aztec would be a moral cripple--though not necessarily evil because they just didn't know the difference between right and wrong. If you were to say that human sacrifice was moral--for Aztecs--THAT is moral relativism. But surely that's not your position. . . .
No, it is not my position. My only pragmatism is that morals must be believed no matter what. I might not have made myself clear enough, let me try to remedy that. Pragmatism should only be used to believe in morals, but the process of discovering what morals are is entirely seperated from it.

WarrenPlatts said:
Regarding the indefinability of the moral predicates: as you say, words are intended to represent something. Some words represent simple things, and some words represent complex things. Thus words representing complex things can be defined using words that represent simple things. For example, I could define the word 'horse' as meaning the same as 'a large, solid-hoofed, herbivorous quadruped'.
Alas, it is not so easy with words that represent simple things. Take for example, the word 'yellow'. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defines 'yellow' as 'a color like that of egg yolk, ripe lemons, etc.' But what kind of a definition is THAT? Does 'yellow' mean the same as 'egg yolk', or does 'yellow' mean the same as 'ripe lemon'? I don't think it's either. Rather, if you want to know the definition of 'yellow' the dictionary instructs you to find an egg, crack it open, and look at the yolk, then find a ripe lemon and compare the two, and you will see for yourself the one thing that the egg yolk and the ripe lemon have in common: YELLOW!
Oh my God! Repetition! Again! !Que horrible!
In other words, the dictionary itself gives an ostensive definition (look it up!) for the word 'yellow'.
And so it is with the moral predicates. The predicate 'morally wrong' is intended to represent something. The problem is that something is simple, just like yellow is simple. So moral terms cannot be defined using nonmoral terms, in the way 'horse' can be defined using nonhorse terms. So, to say, as you have come close to saying, that 'that which is morally good is that which is conducive to survival' commits a logical fallacy, the naturalistic fallacy, first identified by G.E. Moore in his 1903 Principia Ethica. Similarly, some animal rights activists would like to define 'morally wrong' as 'causing suffering'. But this is like saying that 'yellow' means the same as 'lemon'.
So, moral predicates like 'morally wrong' cannot be defined in nonmoral terms. All I can do is show you suffering, murdering, cheating, mutilating, raping, wasting, vandalizing, etc. But 'morally wrong' does not mean the same as 'suffering', nor does 'morally wrong' mean the same as 'murdering', etc., nor does 'morally wrong' mean all those things taken together. Rather, 'morally wrong' is that quality that all those things have in common, just as 'yellow' represents that quality that egg yolks, ripe lemons, and ripe bananas all have in common.
Sorry, that's the best I can do. But it's also the best anyone else can do. . . .
And it does a pretty good job. However, I thik you would agree that the list of things you said are completely wrong, i.e. absolutely wrong. Realism is simply a way of finding morals, and not saying that those morals are absolute or not. Therefore I say that realism and absolutism are not opposites, but rather could be considered complimentory to each other. Unfortunatly they somehow are considered 'alternitives' of each other, and this has most regretably led to an argument over something we basically agree on. I think that realism's way of finding morals is probaly one of the best there is, and it appears that you think the morals you find through realism are absolute. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that, I wouldn't want to misinterpret your view.
 
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  • #78
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Dawgard said:
Originally Posted by WarrenPlatts
I must not have been clear enough. Let me reiterate: A moral is a true sentence containing a moral predicate. Therefore, since the sentence 'it is morally acceptable to kill babies' is false, that sentence does not count as a genuine moral.
Why? What makes it wrong? How can you prove that is not the actual moral truth? My only point is that morals cannot be proven as such.
According to moral realism, we are firmly in the realm of empiricism where nothing can be proved in the logical sense of proof at least. It is a truism of science that scientific truth is always accepted provisionally; similarly, for moral realism--unlike mathematical truth, which can be proved with zero doubt, and is therefore unrevisable, as long as the axioms remain the same. Even the law of inertia cannot be logically proved true. Einstein's version of the law of inertia is different from Newton's, and Einstein has not had the last word on inertia (cf. the latest paper by http://redshift.vif.com/JournalFiles/V13NO1PDF/V13N1MAS.pdf"). Nevertheless, you and I both know that for practical purposes, the moral 'it is wrong to torture babies' is as true as any truth of science--we can bet our lives on it--though neither it, nor the truths of science can be proved.

So, the question is, how do you know that 'it is morally wrong to torture babies' is true? I maintain you know it's true the same way I do, and that is empirically. In past posts you have vaguely alluded to the fact that bad s*** has happened to you in the past (I think that's why you believe that mere survival is the highest good). So you don't need anyone to tell you what 'moral wrong' means, because you have directly experienced it for yourself. And there's no point in seeking a proof of this knowledge, any more than seeking a proof for the fact that dandelion flowers are yellow.
Dawgard said:
However, I think you would agree that the list of things you said are completely wrong, i.e. absolutely wrong. Realism is simply a way of finding morals, and not saying that those morals are absolute or not. Therefore I say that realism and absolutism are not opposites, but rather could be considered complimentory to each other. Unfortunatly they somehow are considered 'alternitives' of each other, and this has most regretably led to an argument over something we basically agree on. I think that realism's way of finding morals is probaly one of the best there is, and it appears that you think the morals you find through realism are absolute. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that, I wouldn't want to misinterpret your view.
I agree that you and I are basically on the same page. My main problem with moral absolutism is two-fold: (1) it doesn't provide an account as to how we know the truth of morals like 'it is wrong to torture babies'; and (2) the excess baggage of the connotations of totalitarianism and unrevisability that 'absolutism' carries with it.

For example, Osama bin Laden exemplifies this two-fold problem perfectly. He starts off on the wrong foot when he uses the Koran, instead of everyday experience as his moral foundation, and then climbing the ladder of logic and reason, concludes the moral that it's OK to nuke Americans by the millions is absolute and true. Now that he's arrived at his freakish moral philosophy that he believes is absolute, he has kicked down the ladder of reason and logic because he has no use for them anymore since he knows the absolute truth. So there is no use in reasoning or arguing with him anymore. On the other hand, while recognizing the reality of moral truth, moral realism retains a certain humility in that its truths are as provisional as the truths of science. For bin Laden, the truths of the Koran are absolute and unrevisable, and this leads to enslavement, chaos, death, and destruction.

But anyway, thanks for your comments. They have helped me to figure out how to express my own ideas more clearly.
 
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WarrenPlatts said:
I agree that you and I are basically on the same page. My main problem with moral absolutism is two-fold: (1) it doesn't provide an account as to how we know the truth of morals like 'it is wrong to torture babies'; and (2) the excess baggage of the connotations of totalitarianism and unrevisability that 'absolutism' carries with it.
Ah, the crux of the problem. I haven't been promoting the complete philosphy of absolutism. I've argued against relativism, and the only other option was absolutism. Realism is slightly different then either, and could be concidered the antidote to absolutism's problems; one that it desperatly needed. In this regard then, I completly agree with everything you have said.
 
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A Good King will upbring his city.
That city will stockpile many fruit.
The citizens will devide into two classes.
One class works on creating free time.
The second class creates work from free time.
A mass orgy takes place.
The citizens multiply and outgrow The Good kings ability to uphold his city and citizen.
The City comes crashing down again.
History may repeat for some time....
 
  • #81
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Life and death are absolutes. Morals are to guide the choices of those with the capacity to choose. The life of those with the capacity and freedom to choose will only be defended by those who benefit from and therefore value that capacity and freedom.

It is the branch of philosophy devoted to ethics that must establish the relationship between the absolute of reality and the life and freedom of those for whom a proper moral guidance is understood to be an absolute necessity for their survival and well-being. The failure of ethics to substantiate this correlation will leave those not armed with the conviction of this truth vulnerable to those who prey upon the weak in body, mind and spirit. Determining what supports the existence of those with the capacity to choose and what is detrimental to their existence is the cornerstone in the foundation of a rationally based ethics.

Those involved with discovering and establishing ethical guidelines must understand that the existence and well-being of humanity is at stake. In the end reality will prove whether the moral percepts we choose to uphold and follow are absolutely right or wrong.
 
  • #82
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I especially like the yellow egg analogy that Warren came up with.
When a human perceives yellow, the brain translates the lightwave frequencies into yellow, which is by an unknown process created in the consciousness (yet another unknown process.)

The quality of yellow is indeed like the quality of the moral dilemma of killing a baby.
But you realize how people always come up with baby killing in these discussions?
I've read it on several forums over the years. It seems to me that killing anything else, is morally up for discussion, which is kind of proof in itself.
Because if we say "killing your mother" or something, then thats not taken to the extreme (apparently), which means the other person might not find it morally disgusting.
This shows that morals are relative to the mind creating them.

Maybe that gut feeling we get, when we do something wrong as a child, may be just the way we're created. It must not mean that other species think the same.

There are also two different ways of looking at morals, objectively and subjectively.
For instance, say on a far away planet, people had to sacrifice their babies to an evil god every week, or else the god would kill 20 of their women.
The moral dilemma is of course; 1 baby sacrificed or 20 women sacrificed.
This is hard cold reality, where humans then apply the "problem", which is the moral dilemma.
The truth is that there is no solution to such a problem, it's up to the perceiver.
For instance the mothero fthe child would of course say "sacrifice the women!" and she would believe this to be right.
The others would perhaps say "sacrifice the baby! 20 women is not worth one baby!"
And here's the thing; we all get that gut feeling, when reading this; "but the baby is young and innocent, it doesn't deserve to die, it can live a happy life."

Where does that gut feeling come from? Does this signify objective moralism?
IMO no.
I think that this is the way we are born, it's the way we see things.
But as always, I will leave it up to science to figure it out.
 
  • #83
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octelcogopod said:
I especially like the yellow egg analogy that Warren came up with.
When a human perceives yellow, the brain translates the lightwave frequencies into yellow, which is by an unknown process created in the consciousness (yet another unknown process.)

The quality of yellow is indeed like the quality of the moral dilemma of killing a baby.
But you realize how people always come up with baby killing in these discussions?
I've read it on several forums over the years. It seems to me that killing anything else, is morally up for discussion, which is kind of proof in itself.
Because if we say "killing your mother" or something, then thats not taken to the extreme (apparently), which means the other person might not find it morally disgusting.
This shows that morals are relative to the mind creating them.

Maybe that gut feeling we get, when we do something wrong as a child, may be just the way we're created. It must not mean that other species think the same.

There are also two different ways of looking at morals, objectively and subjectively.
For instance, say on a far away planet, people had to sacrifice their babies to an evil god every week, or else the god would kill 20 of their women.
The moral dilemma is of course; 1 baby sacrificed or 20 women sacrificed.
This is hard cold reality, where humans then apply the "problem", which is the moral dilemma.
The truth is that there is no solution to such a problem, it's up to the perceiver.
For instance the mothero fthe child would of course say "sacrifice the women!" and she would believe this to be right.
The others would perhaps say "sacrifice the baby! 20 women is not worth one baby!"
And here's the thing; we all get that gut feeling, when reading this; "but the baby is young and innocent, it doesn't deserve to die, it can live a happy life."

Where does that gut feeling come from? Does this signify objective moralism?
IMO no.
I think that this is the way we are born, it's the way we see things.
But as always, I will leave it up to science to figure it out.
Back here on Earth I say, "we kill the god".
The gut feeling is subjective; why we experience it is what must be determined objectively.
 
  • #84
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I think the only absolute moral is expressed in the descriptive sense of the word, i.e. acting in ways consistent with your idea of a moral life is absolutely good, acting in ways that you believe are morally wrong is absolutely bad.

Inherent in that attempt to live a moral life is an attempt to reason out to the best of your abilities what actions are moral, and the degrees to which you fail to do so you are a moral failure.

It works more or less like a democracy when it comes to voting, the only absolutely bad citizen during an election is one who does not concern himself with attempting to define for himself through reason what he thinks the correct actions of the government should be, and also does not work to attempt to realize those actions. What conclusions that persons actually comes to, who they actually vote for, are really beside the point...if they have honestly attempted to do right to the best of their abilities they are successful, they are good.

Only in acting in ways in which we believe are wrong, and in not attempting to through reason define the best morals you can, can you fail in an absolute way.

But I don't think any of this could be proven to exist outside our own minds, unless our survival is the measuring stick.
 
  • #85
On the original post,
I'm confused.
What you've basically done is assume that morals ar absolute in order to prove that morals are absolute. You have assumed that one can have asolute wisdom and justice (which depend on morals) to show absolute morals.
Obviously, it still depends on context. (In my opinion) "Right" and "Wrong" are not absolute on a universal scale, but my own morals are absolute so long as they remain inside my own mind. Your morals are absolute IN YOUR PERSPECTIVE.
But as for your argument that opened the thread, it just looks to me like creative wordplay.
 
  • #86
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clouded.perception said:
Obviously, it still depends on context. (In my opinion) "Right" and "Wrong" are not absolute on a universal scale, but my own morals are absolute so long as they remain inside my own mind. Your morals are absolute IN YOUR PERSPECTIVE.
I respecfully dissagree with, and let me explain why. If morals are based around perseption then my perception of what's right could be totally different then yours. OK you say, that's fine, that's what I say. Now what if my idea of morals is that they don't exist and I can do anything I want. In my mind its alright to tortue you to death. Does that make it right for me to do it to you? Of course not, because you think it's wrong. So who is right?
The simple fact is that we cannot isolate morals to individuals, they have to be based around a community. A such they cannot be dependent on individual opinion. Becuase they rely on everyone there must be laws regarding them that apply equally to everyone. If these laws are flexible and change, then something is both right and wrong, it just depends on the time. Such obvious duplicity would destroy the purpose of morals and as such is illogical. The only conclusion is that these equal laws must be absolute.
 
  • #87
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Dawguard said:
The simple fact is that we cannot isolate morals to individuals, they have to be based around a community. A such they cannot be dependent on individual opinion. Becuase they rely on everyone there must be laws regarding them that apply equally to everyone. If these laws are flexible and change, then something is both right and wrong, it just depends on the time. Such obvious duplicity would destroy the purpose of morals and as such is illogical. The only conclusion is that these equal laws must be absolute.
Someone tried that once already Dawguard. They were called the 10 commandments.
 
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RVBUCKEYE said:
Someone tried that once already Dawguard. They were called the 10 commandments.
Just because they tried it once doesn't mean the method can't be refined and tried again and again until we can get it right. Will we ever truly understand everything about morals? Perhaps not, but we can at least learn and improve. The 10 commandments were a great system for the time, and a truly good legal system for the country. Now when we have freedom of religion, etc., we can improve on them. This does not abrigate the absolutness of morals, only recognizes that we do not know where those absolute boundries fall and must continuously struggle to find them.
 
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Dawguard said:
Just because they tried it once doesn't mean the method can't be refined and tried again and again until we can get it right. Will we ever truly understand everything about morals? Perhaps not, but we can at least learn and improve. The 10 commandments were a great system for the time, and a truly good legal system for the country. Now when we have freedom of religion, etc., we can improve on them. This does not abrigate the absolutness of morals, only recognizes that we do not know where those absolute boundries fall and must continuously struggle to find them.
There are no absolute boundaries to morals. Morals are the reasoning out of your instincts.

The old theological problem of `faith' and `knowledge' ‑ or, more clearly, of instinct and reason ‑ that is to say, the question whether in regard to the evaluation of things instinct deserves to have more authority than rationality, which wants to evaluate and act according to reasons, according to a `why?', that is to say according to utility and fitness for a purpose ‑ this is still that old moral problem which first appeared in the person of Socrates and was already dividing the minds of men long before Christianity. Socrates himself, to be sure, had, with the taste appropriate to his talent ‑ that of a superior dialectician ‑ initially taken the side of reason; and what indeed did he do all his life long but laugh at the clumsy incapacity of his noble Athenians, who were men of instinct, like all noble men, and were never able to supply adequate information about the reasons for their actions? Ultimately, however, in silence and secrecy, he laughed at himself too: he found in himself, before his more refined conscience and self‑interrogation, the same difficulty and incapacity. But why, he exhorted himself, should one therefore abandon the instincts! One must help both them and reason to receive their due one must follow the instincts, but persuade reason to aid them with good arguments. This was the actual falsity of that great ironist, who had so many secrets; he induced his conscience to acquiesce in a sort of self‑outwitting: fundamentally he had seen through the irrational aspect of moral judgement. ‑ Plato, more innocent in such things and without the craftiness of the plebeian, wanted at the expenditure of all his strength ‑ the greatest strength any philosopher has hitherto had to expend! ‑ to prove to himself that reason and instinct move of themselves towards one goal, towards the good, towards `God'; and since Plato all theologians and philosophers have followed the same path ‑ that is to say, in moral matters instinct, or as the Christians call it `faith', or as I call it `the herd', has hitherto triumphed. One might have to exclude Descartes, the father of rationalism (and consequently the grandfather of the Revolution), who recognized only the authority of reason: but reason is only an instrument, and Descartes was superficial.
- Nietzsche, Beyond good and evil
Thought this was relevent as pointing out instincts are absolute, morals are relative.
 
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RVBUCKEYE said:
There are no absolute boundaries to morals. Morals are the reasoning out of your instincts.
Thought this was relevent as pointing out instincts are absolute, morals are relative.
If insticts are absolute and morals are the reasoning out of instincts, doesn't it logically follow that the result will be an absolute definition?
 
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Maybe I should have said morals are the reasoning out of individual instincts.
Your morals are either learned, or "brainwashed" into you, from an external source. Your instincts you are born with. I would suppose they are coded in our genes. Not just in humans either, but all living creatures. So what is the one characteristic that humans share with all living things? Survival. (I don't suspect anyeone can argue this not to be the case, because if it wasn't, I would suppose they would already be dead).

The survival instinct is no more moral, than it is immoral. Arguing the pro's and con's of morality, ultimately ends up in someone becoming a hypocrite.

This does not imply that morals aren't a useful tool to aid in survival. Of course they are, but they don't apply to everyone in every situation. What difference does it make if you accept that morals are relative? You still can believe in a God, you still can choose to live harmoniously. But obviously that is not an absolute property of survival. (you can still survive and not believe in God and live unharmoniously). The quality of that life, is irrelevant to this discussion, imo.
 
  • #92
selfAdjoint
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After all this discussion of morals and instincts, I should ask: Do humans even HAVE any real instincts? Aside from the suckle instinct in newborns I can't think of any. The usual suspects (happiness, self-preservation, etc.) are all controverted by widespread human behavior.
 
  • #93
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selfAdjoint said:
After all this discussion of morals and instincts, I should ask: Do humans even HAVE any real instincts? Aside from the suckle instinct in newborns I can't think of any. The usual suspects (happiness, self-preservation, etc.) are all controverted by widespread human behavior.
I was going to mention that in my last post (the suckle instinct). I think satisfying hunger is another one.....but I too am unable to come up with any that doesn't boil down to survival instincts.
 
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RVBUCKEYE said:
Maybe I should have said morals are the reasoning out of individual instincts.
Your morals are either learned, or "brainwashed" into you, from an external source.
Ah, the crux of the problem. What you are refering to is what I call the belief of morals. Here I agree with you, and this is the way we come to believe in morals. However, this does not touch the quesiton of the nature of morals themselves. If you think that morals are nothing more then a belief then you must ultimatly admit that, like all nonphysical beliefs, morals will eventually be thought of as obsolete, much like most people think of theism. By placing morals in such a place you have ultimetly doomed them to the same slow, painful dimming that religion has suffered.

By changing the nature of morals from a belief to a law that requires defenition we can prevent morals from falling into this trap. I don't think any wants to live in a society without morals, so we have to find a way to preserve morals. This is by far the most practical I have found, and if they are laws, then by defenition they are absolute. Beliefs come and go, beliefs change, beliefs are taught and brainwashed, but not the laws.
 
  • #95
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Dawguard said:
If you think that morals are nothing more then a belief then you must ultimatly admit that, like all nonphysical beliefs, morals will eventually be thought of as obsolete, much like most people think of theism. By placing morals in such a place you have ultimetly doomed them to the same slow, painful dimming that religion has suffered.
That is entirely possible. Right now, I would say morals are useful to my survival.:smile: Making moral laws absolute is what is dooming religion,imo.

By changing the nature of morals from a belief to a law that requires defenition we can prevent morals from falling into this trap. I don't think any wants to live in a society without morals, so we have to find a way to preserve morals. This is by far the most practical I have found, and if they are laws, then by defenition they are absolute. Beliefs come and go, beliefs change, beliefs are taught and brainwashed, but not the laws.
We have changed morals from a belief to laws, from the 10 commandments, to Hammurabi's law, to Hittite law, to Neo-babylonian law, etc., to present day democracy. Nothing about them is absolute. Laws can change, as do our beliefs in what is moral.

Man is not, by nature (without special training), a logical (reasoning, intelligent) creature. He is, instead, totally reactive (instinctive, intuitive). His behavior is determined entirely by the interaction (conflict resolution, competition, cooperation, coordination) between his various instincts (genetically determined neural mechanisms provided by evolution for behavioral guidance). There is no mechanism for intelligence or memory which is separate from sensory, motor and instinct mechanisms. Man may be trained (his behavior may be controlled by edict). He may be educated (he may be taught knowledge for use as raw material in his decision making). The untrained and uneducated human is totally instinctive and not capable of objective reasoning or proper cultural behavior under modern social environments. The self-disciplined and educated (if educated in real knowledge) human is fully capable of both. The human has been provided by evolution with instincts (genetically specified neural mechanisms) which causes him to seek both training and education (he is a competitive social animal). He is quite capable of logic, reason, and intelligence when he chooses to be so, provided that he learns and follows the necessary discipline and rigid methodology. Even then, however, he is instinctive in his goals (the need for and the application of the reasoning). His instincts provide the direction, drive and power behind his every action.
 
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RVBUCKEYE said:
That is entirely possible. Right now, I would say morals are useful to my survival.:smile: Making moral laws absolute is what is dooming religion,imo.
Moral laws have always been considered to be absolute. The recent change that has so greatly damaged morals is the rise in materialism: i.e. believe what we see.

RVBUCKEYE said:
We have changed morals from a belief to laws, from the 10 commandments, to Hammurabi's law, to Hittite law, to Neo-babylonian law, etc., to present day democracy. Nothing about them is absolute. Laws can change, as do our beliefs in what is moral.
This is a different use of the word law. I was refering to laws such as the law of inertia, or laws of nature, not legallity. I agree, our beliefs in morals change, thankfully, but that does not mean the morals change.

RVBUCKEYE said:
Man is not, by nature (without special training), a logical (reasoning, intelligent) creature. He is, instead, totally reactive (instinctive, intuitive). His behavior is determined entirely by the interaction (conflict resolution, competition, cooperation, coordination) between his various instincts (genetically determined neural mechanisms provided by evolution for behavioral guidance). There is no mechanism for intelligence or memory which is separate from sensory, motor and instinct mechanisms. Man may be trained (his behavior may be controlled by edict). He may be educated (he may be taught knowledge for use as raw material in his decision making). The untrained and uneducated human is totally instinctive and not capable of objective reasoning or proper cultural behavior under modern social environments. The self-disciplined and educated (if educated in real knowledge) human is fully capable of both. The human has been provided by evolution with instincts (genetically specified neural mechanisms) which causes him to seek both training and education (he is a competitive social animal). He is quite capable of logic, reason, and intelligence when he chooses to be so, provided that he learns and follows the necessary discipline and rigid methodology. Even then, however, he is instinctive in his goals (the need for and the application of the reasoning). His instincts provide the direction, drive and power behind his every action.
Very interesting, and in my opinion, completely true.
 
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Dawguard said:
Moral laws have always been considered to be absolute. The recent change that has so greatly damaged morals is the rise in materialism: i.e. believe what we see.
Which would be the viewpoint of a religious fundamentalist. o:)

This is a different use of the word law. I was refering to laws such as the law of inertia, or laws of nature, not legallity.
Our legal system is based on an approximation of our morals. Do you disagree? If so, sorry for the confusion.

I agree, our beliefs in morals change, thankfully, but that does not mean the morals change.
I would agree with this statement if it read: our beliefs in morals change, thankfully, but that does not mean our instincts change.
 
  • #98
selfAdjoint
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RVBUCKEYE said:
Our legal system is based on an approximation of our morals.
On an approximation to the morals as they stood centuries ago, and very slowly updated. Stability is more important to the Law than currency; hence the doctrine of stare decisus.
 
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selfAdjoint said:
On an approximation to the morals as they stood centuries ago, and very slowly updated. Stability is more important to the Law than currency; hence the doctrine of stare decisus.
stare decisis - Lat. "to stand by that which is decided." The principal that the precedent decisions are to be followed by the courts.
A moral doctrine or an instinctual one?
 
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RVBUCKEYE said:
Which would be the viewpoint of a religious fundamentalist. o:) [/QUOTE
So, I'm outed at last.

Our legal system is based on an approximation of our morals. Do you disagree? If so, sorry for the confusion.
Sure they, but that approximation is simply our belief. Therefore when the laws change, it is becuase our beliefs have changed.

RVBUCKEYE said:
I would agree with this statement if it read: our beliefs in morals change, thankfully, but that does not mean our instincts change.
I don't think that morals are insticts, simply becuase morals run contrary from instincts. If I've been having a horrible day, everything's been going wrong and then as I'm driving home someone cuts me off I might fell like ramming their car and beating the crap out them. Morals and fear stop me, and therefore my instincts and morals are in direct contradiction. If morals were nothing more then the reasoning out of instincts then they would become something similar to psycology.
 

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