Scientists and Atheists Should be Moral Absolutists

  • #1
russ_watters
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A recent thread on moral absolutism/relativism got me thinking about the issue again, and rather than do the usual arguments, I'd like to take a slightly different angle at the issue.

It seems to me that athiests are often athiests because their minds are dominated by logic - much like scientists (which is why a good fraction of scientists are athiests). But science is predicated on one primary/core article of faith/belief: that the universe obeys fixed laws and if we're smart enough, we can figure out what they are. Ie, scientists believe there are absolute physical laws that govern the universe. And yet, when it comes to morality, it seems a great many scientists and athiests are moral relativists. They don't believe that similar to (perhaps even part of) the laws of science, there exists a set of universal laws of morality.

So my question is, why? Why do scientists/athiests not extend their belief in the existence absolute laws of science to the existence of absolute laws of morality?

Or, better yet, why don't scientists consider absolute laws of morality to be part of the absolute laws of science? We've had many discussions on this board about such issues as 'what is beauty?' and 'does chemistry/biology negate freewill?'. And the answers to these questions lie in the universal laws of science. What I consider beautiful is mostly a matter of chemistry and biology, as are the "forces" governing my actions. It's chemistry and biology that make me like a tight butt and flat stomach, but it is also chemistry and biology that make me feel bad if I hurt someone. And that - your conscience - is a matter of biology dictating morality.

In addition, a great deal of morality is straightforwardly logical - mathematical (ie, game theory). Critics tend to point to the more complex situations as evidence that logic alone can't be used, but the failure to pin down a precise answer to some questions - indeed, the nonexistence of a precise answer to some questions - hasn't stopped QM from being consdidered a highly successful scientific theory, and it shouldn't prevent the scientific analysis of morality.

It is my perception that the unwillingness to take that jump comes from a fear that it implies a creator - which would make this the one main issue where scientists allow their belief in [the nonexistence of] God to interfere with their logical analysis of morality. But the issue of God does not even need to be in play here.

So....opinions?
 
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  • #2
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Some weeks ago we started ethics in philosophy class. I actually think it is more logical for scientists to be moral relativists. Why? Let's start with the opposite: believers. More specifically, Christianity. In christianity it is believed that Moses got down from mount Sinai with God's Ten Commandments. These are a rather excellent example of absolute rules. After all, I don't expect the Pope (especially the current one) to say the commandments aren't in effect for muslims, or native americans.

If there is one group of people in the world that does not believe in absolute rules, I think it would be the scientists. After all, scientists need to constantly review their conclusions. Physicists had been working with Newton's gravitational laws for centuries when Einstein came up and showed them there was more.

>Nazgjunk
 
  • #3
russ_watters
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nazgjunk said:
I actually think it is more logical for scientists to be moral relativists.
Ok.....
Let's start with the opposite: believers. More specifically, Christianity. In christianity it is believed that Moses got down from mount Sinai with God's Ten Commandments. These are a rather excellent example of absolute rules. After all, I don't expect the Pope (especially the current one) to say the commandments aren't in effect for muslims, or native americans.
Ok, that's true, but so what? You stated a fact there, but didn't make an argument. What you seem to be implying is that because a religion has an absolute moral code, non-religious people must be relativists. So aren't you just applying the logical fallacy I cited in the last paragraph of my opening post?

Can you try to remove religion from the issue and see if the logic holds? (as I was saying in the last paragraph of my post) Can you make a logical argument as to why moral absolutism fails to be compatible with science/logic?
If there is one group of people in the world that does not believe in absolute rules, I think it would be the scientists. After all, scientists need to constantly review their conclusions. Physicists had been working with Newton's gravitational laws for centuries when Einstein came up and showed them there was more.
But that isn't what is meant by absolute rules - and scientists most certainly believe they exist for physical phenomena (as stated in the 1st postulate of Special Relativity). Theories are theories and are always subject to review - and moral theories are no different. But that does not mean both the scientific ones and the moral ones can't be our best approximations at the current moment of the absolute rules that scientists already believe exist for the realm of physics and chemistry.
 
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  • #4
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OK, good point.

Allright, i give in. I usually think I'm pretty damn good at this stuff, but that's at school. I have only had philosophy for three months now, so i can hardly be ashamed.

Oh wait, i got something.

Logic is not always perfect. In fact, empirism is at least another half of science. It's great to know logic doesn't agree with moral relativism, but we can see moral rules are not the same everywhere.

I think the only way for me to explain myself right in this case is by writing a paper about it. I must admit, I have usually been a rather stubborn moral relativist, but I am beginning to think otherwise.

>Nazgjunk
 
  • #5
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nazgjunk said:
If there is one group of people in the world that does not believe in absolute rules, I think it would be the scientists. After all, scientists need to constantly review their conclusions. Physicists had been working with Newton's gravitational laws for centuries when Einstein came up and showed them there was more.

>Nazgjunk
Actually, this is in error. Scientists believe in absolute laws (QCD, QED, etc.); they just disagree on what some of those laws may be (the apparent incompatibility of QM with GR).
 
  • #6
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daveb said:
Actually, this is in error. Scientists believe in absolute laws (QCD, QED, etc.); they just disagree on what some of those laws may be (the apparent incompatibility of QM with GR).
QED usually is used in maths, especially algebra. Algebraic rules are essentially made up, i.e. they are no absolute truths in any way. People made them up and agreed upon them. I can hardly believe that to be the case in ethics.
 
  • #7
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A great logical treatise about moral absolutism is Kant's Grounding for Metaphysics of Morality. It eliminated the need for a higher being (God, whatever) as the basis for morality. So (assuming Kant's basic conjectures are true) atheists should be moral absolutists.
 
  • #8
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Funny, i just did a thing on Kant for school. Unfortunately, I do not fully agree with him. For the time being, my disagreement is mostly in the details (such as "one may never lie, whatever the circumstances may be").

Ah, you are mean. You basically brought up the most famous abolutist ever, but I don't now a single famous relativist.
 
  • #9
russ_watters
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nazgjunk said:
Allright, i give in. I usually think I'm pretty damn good at this stuff, but that's at school. I have only had philosophy for three months now, so i can hardly be ashamed.
It's a start. Personally, I don't think enough logic and ethics is taught in schools (high school and college) these days.
Logic is not always perfect. In fact, empirism is at least another half of science. It's great to know logic doesn't agree with moral relativism, but we can see moral rules are not the same everywhere.
Well, that's something I didn't really address in my posts, but morality can certainly be tested. The reasoning behind an awful lot of laws (ie, the legal system) is experimental data and the test of a new law (or leader) comes from things like the change in poverty rate or crime rate resulting from the policies/laws.
I must admit, I have usually been a rather stubborn moral relativist, but I am beginning to think otherwise.
In my experience, that is a common position for moral relativists to be in. :wink:
daveb said:
A great logical treatise about moral absolutism is Kant's Grounding for Metaphysics of Morality. It eliminated the need for a higher being (God, whatever) as the basis for morality. So (assuming Kant's basic conjectures are true) atheists should be moral absolutists.
It's been a while and I should probably reread some of that - I rely on my own logic a little too often, when sometimes the experts have already weighed-in on the issue....
 
  • #10
turbo
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How about we look at this as an issue of ethics, and not morality? Morality implies adherence to a set of laws imposed by an outside force, while ethical behavior comes from within. You do not need to be a religious person to be an honest, decent person.

Please note that some people (including some prominent politicians) seem incapable of ethical behavior, then when they get caught, they cover themselves by saying that they didn't do anything wrong, or at least they broke no laws and shouldn't be punished. This illustrates the difference between ethics and morality.

On another 'board (different subject entirely) my signature was:

"The ethical mad does what is right.
The moral man does what he thinks his God will let him get away with.
God has a very warm place reserved for moral men."
 
  • #11
Tom Mattson
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russ_watters said:
So my question is, why? Why do scientists/athiests not extend their belief in the existence absolute laws of science to the existence of absolute laws of morality?
Have you considered that the word "law" is frequently used in two completely different senses? When we say "scientific law" we are usually referring to descriptive laws that attempt to account for the way in which things actually do happen. But when we say "moral law" we are usually referring to prescriptive laws that dictate the way in which we believe things should happen.

If you are using the word "law" as I am supposing then the argument by analogy at which your question seems to point falls prey to the fallacy of equivocation[/URL]. In this case, the scientist would not be logically or rationally compelled to admit to an absolute set of moral laws.

But maybe you don't mean to use the word "law" in the two different senses described above. Maybe you are referring to "laws of morality" as though they were [i]descriptive[/i] (IOW, the way moral decisions are [i]actually[/i] carried out as opposed to the way in which they [i]should be[/i] carried out). If that is the case then I would put it to you that the task of finding such laws has been and is still undertaken by those in the field of psychology.
 
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  • #12
ahrkron
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If one starts with the assumption that there is a supreme being and a well-defined "universal order", then moral laws become descriptive laws.

Scientists do not usually consider morality absolute because they do not assume the existence of a predefined set of "moral principles", but rather view morality as a result of cuture- and group- dependent sets of prescritive laws, and their interaction with individuals' motivation and behavior.
 
  • #13
Tom Mattson
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ahrkron said:
If one starts with the assumption that there is a supreme being and a well-defined "universal order", then moral laws become descriptive laws.
That doesn't sound right at all. At least, not based on what I learned in my former religious days. We did believe in a supreme being whose moral laws are undeniably true (which would impose the universal order). But those laws were definitely prescriptive. They clearly do not describe the way moral decisions are actually carried out, but rather how they should be carried out.

The religious person would say that the moral laws of his preferred code are prescriptive, and he would explain the failure of those laws to be descriptive by appealing to his belief in man's power to choose between right and wrong.
 
  • #14
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russ_watters said:
(snip)Why do scientists/athiests not extend their belief in the existence absolute laws of science to the existence of absolute laws of morality?
Minor nitpick here: do you mean the "areligious" rather than "atheist?" Buddhism is technically "atheist," and, to my understanding does include a morality that is uniform (sorta "absolute") to one degree or another.

"What" about the existence of an "absolute morality" has failed to capture the interest of the scientific community?
1) The "prescriptive-descriptive" question that's been mentioned.
2) The failures of psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, economists, psychics, astrologers, philosophers, palmists, and all the other soothsayers to date in divining/describing such.

(snip)In addition, a great deal of morality is straightforwardly logical - mathematical (ie, game theory). (snip)..., and it shouldn't prevent the scientific analysis of morality.
I'll go along with this. You didn't use the word "absolute" here, and I'm presuming that wasn't an oversight. Did you want to look at individual morality or cultural morality? That is, are you willing to entertain the possibility that moralities are cultural constructs? "A house divided against itself...." vs. "You can't cheat an honest man" for example?

It is my perception that the unwillingness to take that jump comes from a fear that it implies a creator - which would make this the one main issue where scientists allow their belief in [the nonexistence of] God to interfere with their logical analysis of morality. But the issue of God does not even need to be in play here.
So....opinions?
So, hypothetically we look for characteristics of moralities, identify common properties, and discuss the possibility that there may exist some as yet unidentified absolute principles?
 
  • #15
russ_watters
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daveb said:
Actually, this is in error. Scientists believe in absolute laws (QCD, QED, etc.); they just disagree on what some of those laws may be (the apparent incompatibility of QM with GR).
Yes! This is critical to my point. For some reason people think that stating that there are absolute laws of morality implies that those laws have been discovered, when the same is not true in science. This is another logical fallacy and aother reason I think people reject the idea of moral absolutism. People (correctly) are suspicious of those who think they have all the answers, but just being a moral absolutist does not imply that a person thinks they have all the answers.
turbo-1 said:
How about we look at this as an issue of ethics, and not morality? Morality implies adherence to a set of laws imposed by an outside force, while ethical behavior comes from within.
But my argument was that nothing truly comes from within. Ie, what you are saying comes from within is really just a consequence of your biology.
You do not need to be a religious person to be an honest, decent person.
On that, I am glad I have gotten some agreement.

Tom - yours is going to take some more thought. I'll be back...
 
  • #16
turbo
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russ_watters said:
But my argument was that nothing truly comes from within. Ie, what you are saying comes from within is really just a consequence of your biology.
You're going to run into some trouble, here, I fear. I am not religious in any way, nor do I feel any compulsion to follow any moral laws set out by any creed. I do, however, try to treat everybody as fairly and as well as I can, because I could not be happy with myself otherwise. I expect that a lot of other people feel this way, and are nice to others not because their religion tells them that they have to, but because they want to. Clearly, there is something from inside driving this behaviour.

Could it be as simple as some aspect of brain chemistry? Perhaps, but it sure is internal.

As for moral absolutism: A telling example of this comes from the life of Jesus. He was busy preaching that every man could have a relationship with God and that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves (ethics) while his detractors tried to trip him up with moral absolutism (if an ox falls in the well on the sabbath, do you pull him out?). This is one of the most loaded questions that someone living in Palestine could face. One the one hand, you have a very large and valuable animal that needs help immediately, and if the ox dies and fouls the well, you will lose your source of the most precious commodity one could imagine (clean water). On the other hand, if you do something that is in the best interest of yourself and other people in the village (save the ox and preserve the well), you run afoul of the law forbidding work on the sabbath.

The Judaic religious leaders of the day (who interpreted the laws) were intent on imposing their interpretation of these laws from the outside to regulate peoples' behaviour. Jesus wanted people to find the truth from the inside (ethics, not morality) - that's what made him dangerous to the establishment. Buddah was similarly a danger to India's ancient caste system, when he taught that all men are capable of enlightenment. The guys at the top of any government, religion, etc, are quite fearful of any attempt to "level the playing field" in this way, and traditionally downplay the importance of ethics as it relates to morality or lawfullness. Moral absolutism favors the powerful.

When I was a sophomore in college, I heard that the head of the Philosophy department was going to offer a course on metaethics, and that much of the course would revolve around critiquing his ideas on the subject, since he had a book in development. I asked to attend the class and was told that since I had not yet having taken even one course in philosophy, I certainly wouldn't qualify - most of the participants would be grad students and seniors majoring in philosophy. Undaunted, I approached Prof. Skorpen and asked if I could have a few minutes of his time. He was between classes and said I could drop into his office during lunch hour and he'd give me a few minutes. I did so, and we spoke until late in the afternoon. I not only got to take the course for full credit, I was thereafter exempted from taking any of the "101" level courses in philosophy and only took advanced courses after that. That was the most exciting course I ever took, and I never missed one class. Every class, we proposed and debated questions like "is there an ethical good that exists absent morality?" "does ethics transcend race, ethnicity, language, and culture?" "how does one resolve conflicts between morality and ethics?" etc. I think you would have liked that course.
 
  • #17
russ_watters
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Tom Mattson said:
Have you considered that the word "law" is frequently used in two completely different senses? When we say "scientific law" we are usually referring to descriptive laws that attempt to account for the way in which things actually do happen. But when we say "moral law" we are usually referring to prescriptive laws that dictate the way in which we believe things should happen.
You're right, but I don't think that has much of an impact on my idea here. Good to clarify it, though...

To keep the logic consistent, the things I'm calling "moral laws" are really analogous to the physical setup of a scientific experiment. The "descriptive law" is the scientific theory you are looking for that predicts what will happen if people do/don't follow the "moral law". Ie, the effect of a national law against canabalism:

A law against canabalism tells people how they should [not] act. But a scientific moral theory would be a description of what happens if people do or don't partake. It's easiest to describe what happens if everyone partakes: people kill and eat each other until few are left and society breaks down. That description/prediction would be what could qualify as a theory.

Broader theories include things like "American capitalism causes prosperity" - and the experimental setup of such a theory lies in the national laws of the US that set up our economy. The data you use to evaluate the theory comes from history.
If that is the case then I would put it to you that the task of finding such laws has been and is still undertaken by those in the field of psychology.
Psychologist, political scientists, economists - yes, I agree. But I know a lot of physical scientists don't have a lot of respect for the idea that the bsocial sciences really can/should be investigated scientifically.
 
  • #18
russ_watters
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Bystander said:
Minor nitpick here: do you mean the "areligious" rather than "atheist?" Buddhism is technically "atheist," and, to my understanding does include a morality that is uniform (sorta "absolute") to one degree or another.
Ehh, I'm not real up on Buddhism.
"What" about the existence of an "absolute morality" has failed to capture the interest of the scientific community?
1) The "prescriptive-descriptive" question that's been mentioned.
2) The failures of psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, economists, psychics, astrologers, philosophers, palmists, and all the other soothsayers to date in divining/describing such.
Well, that's just it: why would you say psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, economists, etc. (leave out the pseudoscientists....) have failed thus far? Has society not improved dramatically because of their contributions in the same way technology has improved society? [with Tom's clarification of prescriptive vs descriptive] Their contributions to progress can be summed up as setting up the conditions for the experiment, then accurately predicting what will happen.
I'll go along with this. You didn't use the word "absolute" here, and I'm presuming that wasn't an oversight. Did you want to look at individual morality or cultural morality? That is, are you willing to entertain the possibility that moralities are cultural constructs?
Individual moralities are, most certainly, cultural constructs. But have you considered why moralities contain so many cross-cultural similarities and what causes the downfall of cultures? Different cultures have come to similar conclusions about what works, because... it works. And moralities that work lead to nations that prosper. And cultural failures can often be traced to what I would call incorrect morality (and other social theories). Social Darwinism.
So, hypothetically we look for characteristics of moralities, identify common properties, and discuss the possibility that there may exist some as yet unidentified absolute principles?
Yes.
 
  • #19
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russ_watters said:
(snip)Well, that's just it: why would you say psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, economists, etc. (leave out the pseudoscientists....) have failed thus far?
There are assertions of an "absolute morality," but no consistent descriptions of same.

Has society not improved dramatically because of their contributions in the same way technology has improved society?
You've got a whole new set of threads here: I say "No;" a lot of people are going to say "Yes" conditionally; there may be unconditional agreement from others.

Probably need to resolve this point in some way, shape, or form before proceeding too far.

[with Tom's clarification of prescriptive vs descriptive] Their contributions to progress can be summed up as setting up the conditions for the experiment, then accurately predicting what will happen.
Samuelson: "Modern economic theory has accurately predicted seven of the last three recessions." I haven't got his exact words, but you get the gist.

Individual moralities are, most certainly, cultural constructs.
Didn't make myself clear here, obviously; I'm saying that individual moral codes are entirely different from cultural moral structures, and asking for, hopefully, you to pick the cultural case to discuss.

But have you considered why moralities contain so many cross-cultural similarities and what causes the downfall of cultures?
The "seven deadlies" show up almost universally, and hearken back to an observation you made in the OP.
Quote:
(snip)In addition, a great deal of morality is straightforwardly logical - mathematical (ie, game theory). (snip)..., and it shouldn't prevent the scientific analysis of morality. "

The wild differences between "working cultures" are what is interesting.


Different cultures have come to similar conclusions about what works, because... it works. And moralities that work lead to nations that prosper. And cultural failures can often be traced to what I would call incorrect morality (and other social theories). (snip)
I'm going to have to differ here re. "similar conclusions about what works." The clashes of cultures that constitute the majority of world history for the entire period for which we have written records, and presumably many thousands of years prior, argue that there are significant differences of opinions "about what works."

At this point, I posit that there may be an "absolute cultural metamoral" principle, "Cultures lacking a moral structure, or with a moral structure so flexible as to be non-existent fail."

Time for rebuttals.
 
  • #20
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Why are you limiting it to scientists and atheists? Everyone should be a moral absolutist.

Regardless, I think the reason why atheists are usually relative is because atheism and relativism are both just what society accepts more. People don't reason out their beliefs, they accept what society wants them to accept, and right now it's atheism and relativism.

Both of which most people seem to give up if they start thinking about it, or studying it, in any more detail.

That's just the majority though. At least in BC.
 
  • #21
GCT
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A recent thread on moral absolutism/relativism got me thinking about the issue again, and rather than do the usual arguments, I'd like to take a slightly different angle at the issue.

It seems to me that athiests are often athiests because their minds are dominated by logic - much like scientists (which is why a good fraction of scientists are athiests). But science is predicated on one primary/core article of faith/belief: that the universe obeys fixed laws and if we're smart enough, we can figure out what they are. Ie, scientists believe there are absolute physical laws that govern the universe. And yet, when it comes to morality, it seems a great many scientists and athiests are moral relativists. They don't believe that similar to (perhaps even part of) the laws of science, there exists a set of universal laws of morality.

So my question is, why? Why do scientists/athiests not extend their belief in the existence absolute laws of science to the existence of absolute laws of morality?

Or, better yet, why don't scientists consider absolute laws of morality to be part of the absolute laws of science? We've had many discussions on this board about such issues as 'what is beauty?' and 'does chemistry/biology negate freewill?'. And the answers to these questions lie in the universal laws of science. What I consider beautiful is mostly a matter of chemistry and biology, as are the "forces" governing my actions. It's chemistry and biology that make me like a tight butt and flat stomach, but it is also chemistry and biology that make me feel bad if I hurt someone. And that - your conscience - is a matter of biology dictating morality.

In addition, a great deal of morality is straightforwardly logical - mathematical (ie, game theory). Critics tend to point to the more complex situations as evidence that logic alone can't be used, but the failure to pin down a precise answer to some questions - indeed, the nonexistence of a precise answer to some questions - hasn't stopped QM from being consdidered a highly successful scientific theory, and it shouldn't prevent the scientific analysis of morality.

It is my perception that the unwillingness to take that jump comes from a fear that it implies a creator - which would make this the one main issue where scientists allow their belief in [the nonexistence of] God to interfere with their logical analysis of morality. But the issue of God does not even need to be in play here.

So....opinions?
I was actually thinking along these lines recently. I think it was one of the huxley's who, when asked about why people accept science as a substitute for religion (on a NOVA interview?), is as he replied, because the idea of God interferes with their sexual mores. I think that Russ here has a good point in that science has many attributes of religious ideals....mankind has always sought these ideals. I think with the society that we live in today (such as here in the U.S.), people feel that they are free to take up the idea of their choice, when in truth such ideals have very strong tedencies, especially when one considers that the universe may not favor our existence. Between, most scientists are not atheists, admittedly most of them are not openly religious. I've always seen atheists as inadequate, so perhaps and hopefully we're talking about scientists here.
 
  • #22
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russ_watters said:
So my question is, why? Why do scientists/athiests not extend their belief in the existence absolute laws of science to the existence of absolute laws of morality?
Or, better yet, why don't scientists consider absolute laws of morality to be part of the absolute laws of science? So....opinions?
Well, first "laws" are NOT absolute (e.g., laws, both physical and legal are modified over time as new information arises--thus Newton law of gravity changed by Einstein). So, as to the OP, if laws are not absolute then no logical reason why "scientists" should view morals as absolute "based only on this style of argument"--but perhaps this is nitpicking. But then, I am a scientist but not an athiest, nor do I hold there to be a transcendential first cause creator, yet I hold morality to be absolute as a concept that applies to Homo sapiens , so I hold a philosophic bent contrary to your above statement.
 
  • #23
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The primary absolute upon which we must base all our understanding is reality. How closely our knowledge and therefore our physical (scientific) and moral laws correspond to reality determine their validity. It is not a matter of faith but of necessity that we accept this premise otherwise we have no basis for understanding anything. The consequences of our beliefs as they bear out in reality are our proof as to whether they are correct.

Morality has two fundamental facets; personal morality and interpersonal morality. Both facets depend on their correspondence to reality for their validity. The purpose for each is to serve the well being of both.

Interpersonal morality deals with the proper way for individuals to form and carry out relationships with other individuals. This requires agreement and in the realm of social law, enforceability. To achieve this requires that our moral precepts can be proven to correspond to and be necessarily derived from reality. Until we are willing and able to carry out this task our moral code will be in a state of random and unverifiable flux.
 
  • #24
Tom Mattson
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russ_watters said:
You're right, but I don't think that has much of an impact on my idea here. Good to clarify it, though...
It does have an impact on your idea because you are making an argument by analogy to show an inconsistency in the beliefs of scientists and atheists. As I said if you take the standard definition of "moral absolutism" then your argument fails. If you take a nonstandard definition (with descriptive moral laws) then the inconsistency disappears altogether if the scientist or atheist accepts the validity of psychology, psychiatry, etc. Either way your argument is essentially nullified.

To keep the logic consistent, the things I'm calling "moral laws" are really analogous to the physical setup of a scientific experiment. The "descriptive law" is the scientific theory you are looking for that predicts what will happen if people do/don't follow the "moral law". Ie, the effect of a national law against canabalism:
A law against canabalism tells people how they should [not] act. But a scientific moral theory would be a description of what happens if people do or don't partake. It's easiest to describe what happens if everyone partakes: people kill and eat each other until few are left and society breaks down. That description/prediction would be what could qualify as a theory.

Broader theories include things like "American capitalism causes prosperity" - and the experimental setup of such a theory lies in the national laws of the US that set up our economy. The data you use to evaluate the theory comes from history.
OK, but do you realize just how far this is from the standard definition of "moral absolutism"? The doctrine of moral absolutism is that there exists an innately 'right' set of prescriptive moral laws.

Psychologist, political scientists, economists - yes, I agree. But I know a lot of physical scientists don't have a lot of respect for the idea that the bsocial sciences really can/should be investigated scientifically.
Given that you haven't taken a scientific survey of this social phenomenon (or have you?), I would have to conclude that you are in that bin. :tongue:
 
  • #25
arildno
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Cannibalism, in some form, might well be consistent societal stability, prosperity or whatever:

In some primitive tribes, I think, a deceased person is partially devoured by his/her relatives, in order to "preserve" that person within the family.
I.e, the act of cannibalism is an act of the outmost respect towards the deceased.

Although I wouldn't like to partake in any such meal, I recognize that however deluded the basis of their beliefs are, the intent behind their action is to treat every individual with the same measure of respect, and care for their and their relatives' well-being.

Thus, I would hesitate in denouncing this particular practice as strictly immoral, although I find it personally disgusting.
 

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