Are right and wrong and the related duties possible without absolutes

Homepage Forums Small Talk Are right and wrong and the related duties possible without absolutes

This topic contains 161 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Davis 1 week, 6 days ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 121 through 135 (of 162 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #39978

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Do you believe there are ethical absolutes independent of any facts, those facts including human contingencies like local attitudes and norms about values and behavior, traditions, customs, fears, prejudices, etc.?

    I believe that one ethical absolute, that may not be the only one, is a combination of helping in response to need, and doing least harm – that I call “fairness as respect” or “Perfect Compassion” because it is an optimal distribution of benefit and harm within a particular situation.  This is a necessary component of respecting human rights; another is respecting someone’s agency or liberty, that is probably related to it.

    Humans need to thrive and survive, and therefore they are vulnerable, and they are always in some kind of need, even if it is just for positive treatment from others.  It’s fundamental to the existence of humans for other humans to treat them well.

    The reason it’s an ethical absolute is that it applies in every human social situation.  If it applies to only one person (oneself) then it’s simple wisdom: self-compassion and optimisation.

    However, it’s not independent of all facts, because it is contingent on – it depends on – the cooperative lifeways of intelligent creatures.  If there were no cooperative intelligent creatures – us – then this ethical absolute would not exist.

    #39979

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    So you disbelieve in ethical absolutes and there is no such thing as actual right and wrong. Right and wrong are contingencies determined by individuals or social groups and are not in any way facts, which can be true or false in the sense of being true or false for everyone, and provably so(?)

    I have this discussion with Christians on William Lane Craig’s Facebook page.  WLC believes in “objective morality” which means that something is factually right or wrong: ethically correct or incorrect.  “Torturing children for fun is wrong” is a fact according to him.  However, we can look at people like the Nazis, and Isis, who believe that torturing children for fun is factually right and proper, with exactly the same confidence.  Their objective morality is exactly 180° opposite from everyone else’s, but to them it is correct.  So, we have at least two “objective” moralities on the go.  The answer is that objective morality belongs to a group: most groups share most principles, especially the fundamental ones.  They need to, because they mostly face similar existential challenges, and therefore need to run themselves in a similar way (optimal cooperation).  It is probably significant that both the Nazis and Isis are/were anti-human enemies of the world, death-cults on a permanent war footing.

    #39980

    jakelafort
    Participant

    WLC hangs his hat on the spurious errr BS notion that morality is only possible if it is handed down by the Christian God. Well whodafuq died and made God the boss of me? The authority vested in their imaginary benefactor suggests a power structure but not right from wrong. Giving in to that BS is for the simple minded religiously inclined mindless muthafuckas. That is just me. I am a little overreactive with this.

    Determining right from wrong requires the exercise of judgment not the surrender of our minds to infantilism.

    #39981

    _Robert_
    Participant

    WLC hangs his hat on the spurious errr BS notion that morality is only possible if it is handed down by the Christian God. Well whodafuq died and made God the boss of me? The authority vested in their imaginary benefactor suggests a power structure but not right from wrong. Giving in to that BS is for the simple minded religiously inclined mindless muthafuckas. That is just me. I am a little overreactive with this. Determining right from wrong requires the exercise of judgment not the surrender of our minds to infantilism.

    It’s not just you. WLC has had his ass handed to him so many times, I hope he doesn’t instruct any debate classes.

    #39982

    Craig gives a reasonable explanation of what he means by objective and absolute morality here

    #39984

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Reg: Craig gives a reasonable explanation of what he means by objective and absolute morality here.

    I don’t have an issue with his linguistic distinctions until this part. The point is that if God exists, there are objective moral values and we have objective moral duties to fulfill in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

    In what sense is the reality of a Christian God the font of objectivity. I see his supposed handiwork. Human civilization has made incredible advancements in science and technology. But in terms of morality/ethics we suck as badly as we ever did. There is no quarter in law given to architects for design flaws. You don’t get to say silly shit about temptation and an apple and the rest of the cock and bull story.

    There is nothing in the manifestation of creation or civilization that would ever (except for fear of punishment) make me regard God’s fiats, rules, regulations or suggested do and do not as objective founded. Moreover the bible itself is condemnation of that objective standard unless it is from the perspective of a sadist. WLC is facile, an unctuous but studious apologist for shit on a shingle.

    #39985

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Since biblical interpretation has proven to be incredibly subjective (thus the many sects), then “biblical morality” must also be; case closed.

    #39986

    jakelafort
    Participant

    There is not even a singular bible and whatever the original text was has been changed countless times. Nor were the apostles even first hand witnesses. The literal text is so fucking horrific that the fundamentalists are considered nut jobs. The idea of a text from the creator that is metaphorical or allegorical is fucking ridiculous. So the theists with a semblance of integrity are labeled loony birds. How about making an appearance and straightening shit out with your all powerful ass. Instead we have chaos and the few intelligent atheists who are just so deluded there is no calling off the dogs are interpreting the tea leaves of prophecy and assorted insanity in exegesis. Humans are so utterly fucked that i cant take shit too seriously. Objectively we are fucked.

    #39987

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I think I’ll watch some TV…OK let’s see…ancient aliens, finding big foot, the trinity broadcasting service, secrets of the bible, the history of the illuminati, or Tucker Carlson. Think I’ll read a bit, LOL.

    #39988

    Unseen
    Participant

    From Unseen: We are not doing law here but philosophy. I helped with the definition of contingencies because the one you gave was inaccurate. The law part was incidental and included because it was illustrative and easily conceptualized. Apropos of absolutely nothing i have this quote i ascribe to Francois Villon. Not sure if it is imagined or misremembered but it is pretty. “The law in its infinite wisdom punishes equally the rich man and the poor man for stealing a loaf of bread.”

    The law may interpret “contingent” as meaning “depends upon something”  in a temporal context where a contingency will happen after something else and because of something else.

    Those are not considerations in this situation. A contingency for a philosopher is something which may or may not be. A necessity is something which has to be, cannot not be. There’s also another obvious third category, that of an impossibility.

    We’re mainly concerned with the question of whether there are ethical absolutes. Not ones we hold absolute, but ones which are absolute no matter what we hold to be true, such that if we act against them we are ethically wrong. While the language is similar, law and philosophy are talking past each other using the same terminology.

    #39989

    Unseen
    Participant

    Do you believe there are ethical absolutes independent of any facts, those facts including human contingencies like local attitudes and norms about values and behavior, traditions, customs, fears, prejudices, etc.?

    I believe that one ethical absolute, that may not be the only one, is a combination of helping in response to need, and doing least harm – that I call “fairness as respect” or “Perfect Compassion” because it is an optimal distribution of benefit and harm within a particular situation. This is a necessary component of respecting human rights; another is respecting someone’s agency or liberty, that is probably related to it. Humans need to thrive and survive, and therefore they are vulnerable, and they are always in some kind of need, even if it is just for positive treatment from others. It’s fundamental to the existence of humans for other humans to treat them well. The reason it’s an ethical absolute is that it applies in every human social situation. If it applies to only one person (oneself) then it’s simple wisdom: self-compassion and optimisation. However, it’s not independent of all facts, because it is contingent on – it depends on – the cooperative lifeways of intelligent creatures. If there were no cooperative intelligent creatures – us – then this ethical absolute would not exist.

    What you believe is irrelevant to this conversation. Maybe it belongs in another discussion but it has no place here. So, unless you want  to be ignored by me anyway, you’d better get with the program and discuss the topic at hand.

    For starters, just say whether you believe in absolutes which are overarching inviolable ethical absolutes and explain why do or don’t believe in them. Absolutes are always true. They were true before there were humans and will be true till the end of time, just like the rules of arithmetic.

    Now, to a lot of people when you put it to them that way they’ll say that’s absurd, but if they don’t accept that then there’s only one alternative I can think of: We make up ethical precepts out of whole cloth and we also make up the rules we use to criticize ethical precepts (beyond applying logic to them, of course).

    If you believe in ethical absolutes, the next thing you need is a way to discover or intuit them. Otherwise, “If you don’t know where you’re going, every road will take you there.” Put a slightly different way, “If God doesn’t exist, everything is permitted.” Everyone makes up their ethics on the fly.

    #39990

    Unseen
    Participant

    So you disbelieve in ethical absolutes and there is no such thing as actual right and wrong. Right and wrong are contingencies determined by individuals or social groups and are not in any way facts, which can be true or false in the sense of being true or false for everyone, and provably so(?)

    I have this discussion with Christians on William Lane Craig’s Facebook page. WLC believes in “objective morality” which means that something is factually right or wrong: ethically correct or incorrect. “Torturing children for fun is wrong” is a fact according to him. However, we can look at people like the Nazis, and Isis, who believe that torturing children for fun is factually right and proper, with exactly the same confidence. Their objective morality is exactly 180° opposite from everyone else’s, but to them it is correct.

    Simon, it’s like leading the blind with you. Dr. Craig’s point is actually well taken, if the objective morality he believes in exists and is true, then the Nazis are wrong even if they think they are right. The question is whether Dr. Craig is right.

    So, we have at least two “objective” moralities on the go. The answer is that objective morality belongs to a group: most groups share most principles, especially the fundamental ones.

    No, they are treating morality as if it’s objective, and you keep steering the conversation away from the concept of ethical absolutes by constantly trying to bring reality into it. Ethical absolutes, if they are real, are not something you can modify to suit yourself. You can’t bargain with them.

    #39991

    Unseen
    Participant

    Craig gives a reasonable explanation of what he means by objective and absolute morality here

    Dr. Craig uses “objective” (independent of one’s opinions and desires) and “subjective” (out of one’s opinions and desires) as central to his thinking, but which is a bit outside the discussion of whether overarching inviolable ethical absolutes exist. Absolutes which have nothing to do with our opinions and desires.

    #39992

    Unseen
    Participant

    The word duty hasn’t been in the discussion for a while. Can you have any actual duties without a source or criterion that can’t be bargained with? By source, I mean, for example, a deity. By criterion, I mean an ethical absolute.

    Go back to the example of the expert swimmer who doesn’t want to miss out on the new iPhone but sees someone drowning in a lake on his way. If he has a duty to save that life, where does that duty come from? What makes it a duty?

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by  Unseen.
    #39994

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Ok Unseen thanks for that contingent philosophical imperative.

Viewing 15 posts - 121 through 135 (of 162 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.