Thursday, May 28, 2009

Origin of Human Value & Purpose

I recently saw a person comment on theist's blog regarding the meaning of life. Why, he asked, does belief in God give meaning and purpose to life?


If the commenter means “belief” in the intellectual adherence to a propositional statement, I can understand the need for the question. However, what is being proposed by theists is not just personal adherence to a propositional belief in the existence of God, but the reality of His existence.


If God exists and has meaningfully created man with purpose then God’s existence does lend itself to man having intrinsic value, meaning, and purpose. On the other hand, if there is no God, and man is a product of time, chance, energy, and matter evolving through time into the human being then our value and purpose are only that which we give ourselves. There is not a rooted foundation for valuing our lives over any other sentient being or non-sentient being. We value ourselves, because we live and want to be valuable.


There is nothing that would say that we cannot declare ourselves valuable and give ourselves purpose. But there also would be no foundation for our intrinsic value, meaning, and purpose. Therefore, the reality of God’s existence does provide such a framework—a framework that gives intrinsic value to all humans from the most accomplished to the hermit living in the woods or the homeless man on the street. Notwithstanding, we could have only self-proclaimed value and we need to learn to accept the inevitable reality of having no intrinsic meaning and purpose. We may need to ignore the signs of design of our difference to the rest of creation and accept our lot in life.


If our belief in God is merely an illusion then humanity still has only self-proclaimed value and purpose. But if God really does exist and really did create man separate from the beasts, He is the Author of our existence and has endowed us with His special creative purpose and value. This would then be true, no matter who believes it or not. Thus, our worth would not be a matter of what intellectual proposition we adhere to nor what illusion we maintain, but what is really real.

71 comments:

CyberKitten said...

karla said: There is nothing that would say that we cannot declare ourselves valuable and give ourselves purpose.

Which is basically what we do....

karla said: But there also would be no foundation for our intrinsic value, meaning, and purpose.

Because there is no intrinsic value, meaning, or purpose.....

karla said: Notwithstanding, we could have only self-proclaimed value and we need to learn to accept the inevitable reality of having no intrinsic meaning and purpose.

That's certainly my view of things....

karla said: We may need to ignore the signs of design of our difference to the rest of creation and accept our lot in life.

What 'difference'?

Accepting that we are simply the products of biological evolution in an uncaring universe is, I believe, a big step towards maturity as individuals and as a species.

GCT said...

Of course, Karla, you haven't actually answered the question. Your "answer" to why we have purpose, etc. if god created us is to claim that it's because god created us. But, why would you claim our lives are purposeful and meaningful simply because a god created us? What is it about the existence of god that gives our lives purpose and meaning? Is it that we are to fulfill the plans of this god? If so, then our purpose is to be the pawns of this god, which I would not be boasting about if I were you.

Whether god had a purpose for creating us doesn't mean that we have intrinsic value/purpose (if we had intrinsic value, I would think that holy wars/genocides would not be ordered by your god). Simply being created does not confer upon the item created a purpose or meaning to the eyes of the created. We still have to divine our own purpose and meaning, leaving you in the same spot as the atheist. In short, it's rather superfluous whether god exists or not in terms of what purpose and meaning we strive for for ourselves.

Karla said...

I will respond soon. Just getting back into the swing of things after being out of town.

Karla said...

Cyber "Because there is no intrinsic value, meaning, or purpose....."


I just keep reading this statement and it saddens me to think you believe this as true. You were especially made by God with a grand purpose and with great meaning and inestimable value. You are priceless to Him and He delights in who you are as a person--just as you are.

I really don't know what else to say at this point philosophically speaking.

Karla said...

GCT,

God does value our lives very much so and even His judgments are good. Just because someone dies in war doesn't mean their person perishes eternally. Temporal judgment does not necessitate eternal judgment. Those people may very well be in a much better place before the Lord than they were in this life. I do not know. All I know is He is good and He created us through His love.

He is the ultimate Creator and Author of our being, it is His job to ascribe our meaning. There is meaning and purpose behind a personal God creating a person knitting them together personally rather than a person being a product of chance and time evolving with no personal intelligence bringing forth the life on purpose.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I just keep reading this statement and it saddens me to think you believe this as true.

Why? It certainly doesn't sadden me. I think that it a very fair representation of reality and I for one think that facing reality head-on is a rather mature and sensible thing to do.

karla said: You were especially made by God with a grand purpose and with great meaning and inestimable value. You are priceless to Him and He delights in who you are as a person--just as you are.

...and, as you know, I do not believe one word of that.

karla said: I really don't know what else to say at this point philosophically speaking.

May I suggest you read more philosophy then? I'm enjoying Albert Camus at the moment. Much of what he says seems spot on - at least the 80% of his stuff I understand that is!

karla said: He is the ultimate Creator and Author of our being, it is His job to ascribe our meaning.

So you believe and keep asserting. This neither makes it true nor does it mean we should simply accept it as true.

Karla said...

Cyber, it's not that I don't understand the philosophy of it, but that I felt that a philosophical response didn't due your comment justice.

Not believing you have intrinsic value and purpose and meaning seemed to need an encouraging response rather than straight forward philosophy. But maybe I gauged incorrectly.

I did offer a philosophical response to GCT.

CyberKitten said...

Karla said: Cyber, it's not that I don't understand the philosophy of it, but that I felt that a philosophical response didn't due your comment justice.

OK. So, you don't think that there's a suitable philosophical response to my philosophical position?

Karla said: Not believing you have intrinsic value and purpose and meaning seemed to need an encouraging response rather than straight forward philosophy. But maybe I gauged incorrectly.

I'm not sure what form that encouragement would take - unless it's more of the "God loves you" sort of thing which I would doubtlessly dismiss. I certainly don't feel in the need of encouragement. Not believing that I have any *intrinsic* value or meaning doesn't mean I spend my days depressed or my nights crying myself to sleep. On the whole I enjoy my life and have much to look forward to.

GCT said...

God does value our lives very much so and even His judgments are good."

So you keep asserting, regardless of what evidence is placed in front of you.

"Just because someone dies in war doesn't mean their person perishes eternally. Temporal judgment does not necessitate eternal judgment. Those people may very well be in a much better place before the Lord than they were in this life."

If that is the case, then why does god not put them there in the first place?

"I do not know. All I know is He is good and He created us through His love."

Again, you assert this despite any evidence placed in front of you. You disregard any argument and immediately fall back upon this repeatedly like a mantra. This is not rational discussion so much as you simply shutting your eyes and ears and screaming out over and over that god loves us, whether it is true or makes sense.

"He is the ultimate Creator and Author of our being, it is His job to ascribe our meaning."

So, it is his job to decide what our meaning is? Sounds rather dictatorial to me.

"There is meaning and purpose behind a personal God creating a person knitting them together personally rather than a person being a product of chance and time evolving with no personal intelligence bringing forth the life on purpose."

So you keep asserting, but never answering the follow-up question. You say this, and I question what that means - how is there meaning simply because god made us, etc. and your answer ostensibly seems to simply repeat that there is meaning from god making us. How? Why? Why does it necessarily follow from being created by god that we have some intrinsic meaning or purpose or value? Quite simply, it doesn't. You are still the one who has to decide what the meaning of your life is.

Karla said...

The problem is that I don't really know how to see things from how your seeing them. So I don't know quiet how to say things in a way that would convey the kind of answers that would satisfy, as I do not know what criteria you use to accept something as true. I still have much learning to do. I am sorry for my repetition versus giving the response in a manner you are looking for. I will continue to work on this.

CyberKitten said...

I think that the best approach is to start simple. We should treat each other as if we are speaking foreign languages - which is in effect what we're doing. We undoubtedly have things in common otherwise we couldn't communicate at all.

Unfortunately most of the time we seem to be speaking past each other and not to each other because our belief systems are quite radically opposed.

Any assumptions we make about each other will be flawed at best - and probably dead wrong. Maybe you can start by asking simple questions. Try one and see what happens - nothing big or world shattering, nothing too deep or philosophical. Just a simple question. When you think of something post it and we'll see where we go from there.

Karla said...

That sounds like an awesome idea Cyber. I don't have a question yet, but I just wanted to tell you I liked your comment.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: That sounds like an awesome idea Cyber. I don't have a question yet, but I just wanted to tell you I liked your comment.

I always find that the best way to learn things is to read books about it and ask *lots* of questions.....

GCT said...

I would suggest that you also don't take things for granted. For instance, you seem to take for granted that god gives us purpose or that god is good or any number of other things. Without good, evidentiary reasons to believe these things, however, you can't use them as a starting point from which to make arguments.

Karla said...

What would be the necessary condition of our existence that would give value to our lives? Is there a scenario that in your estimations would give life intrinsic value?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: What would be the necessary condition of our existence that would give value to our lives?

Being self-aware. Without self-awareness there can be no value as we give the value in the first place.

karla said: Is there a scenario that in your estimations would give life intrinsic value?

Not that I can think of.

Karla said...

How does assigning ourselves value make it real or true that we have value?

Couldn't we just as easily decide humans are not valuable? What then?

GCT said...

"How does assigning ourselves value make it real or true that we have value?"

In the same sense that assigning the color "red" makes it real or true that an object is red. Also, our biological makeup is one in which we make these sorts of determinations. Other animals do it too.

"Couldn't we just as easily decide humans are not valuable? What then?"

We would die off. That's why that sort of thinking has never caught on evolutionarily.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: How does assigning ourselves value make it real or true that we have value?

Value is subjective. We assign subjective values to things. This does not mean that they have any intrinsic or objective value. Things simply have the value we think they do.

karla said: Couldn't we just as easily decide humans are not valuable? What then?

Read your history books. When we consider part of humanity of lesser or of no value will feel free to kill or enslave them. Dehumanising a group or person is the first stage in getting a society to sanction their killing.

Karla said...

Cyber "When we consider part of humanity of lesser or of no value will feel free to kill or enslave them. Dehumanising a group or person is the first stage in getting a society to sanction their killing."

So what's wrong with one society purging another if there is no intrinsic value? The Nazi's certainly thought they had the right to exterminate a people group and become the superior stronger race or some such ideology.

They did devalue them in order to commence annihilation. What if people decided the world would be better off without a particular people group or nation or age group?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: So what's wrong with one society purging another if there is no intrinsic value?

From who's PoV?

karla said: What if people decided the world would be better off without a particular people group or nation or age group?

If they had enough power - and fire power - they'd probably attempt to either enslave them or exterminate them.

Karla said...

Does the endangered people group's desire to not be exterminated mean that those who plan their extermination are wrong to do so?

Does not liking something being done to yourself mean it's wrong?

History does show that the marginalized minority that is dehumanized by the powerful majority may be in danger of losing their quality of life or their lives. But how do we arrive at this as wrong?

Animals kill other animals for food to survive. Hitler saw the more superior race dominating and exterminating what he saw was an inferior race. How does this get meaning as being evil rather than writing it off as just how things happen in this world.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Does the endangered people group's desire to not be exterminated mean that those who plan their extermination are wrong to do so?

From their PoV and from those who value life, yes of course it is. Though it is not *objectively* wrong because objective morality does not exist.

karla said: Does not liking something being done to yourself mean it's wrong?

From that PoV, yes. Then again inoculation can cause pain but saves lives. Children don't like medicine that can make them well and are sometimes punished to prevent them from hurting themselves. Is that wrong?

karla said: History does show that the marginalized minority that is dehumanized by the powerful majority may be in danger of losing their quality of life or their lives. But how do we arrive at this as wrong?

It is wrong from the PoV of those who value life in general. Of course such people are rare and societies of such people rarer still. It has certainly not been the norm over human history.

karla said: How does this get meaning as being evil rather than writing it off as just how things happen in this world.

We classified it as evil. If we had lost WW2 that classification would probably have been lost with it. Fortunately we won so the classification stands.

Karla said...

Cyber "From that PoV, yes. Then again inoculation can cause pain but saves lives. Children don't like medicine that can make them well and are sometimes punished to prevent them from hurting themselves. Is that wrong?"

Good question. So wrong isn't necessarily defined as that which a person or group of people do not find pleasant or good. It could be good and they not know it or agree that it is. A child who is spanked may think it wrong, but it may be the best thing. A child having a medically necessary procedure may be in a great deal of pain and discomfort and may even incur a risk to their life by such a procedure, but it could still be right to do.


Are you really saying that the right thing or the good is defined by the winner? That the marginalized race or culture may think it wrong to be treated thus but it is right to the winner and wrong in their view point. So neither really has any moral imperative to do anything differently. If the winner is right because they believe themselves to be right and they create their own rightness then then the holocaust was not an evil injustice in this world. There is then no meaning for it, only that it happened by people who thought themselves justified to people who thought themselves victimized.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Are you really saying that the right thing or the good is defined by the winner?

History is always writen by the winner. Inevitably it is them who also decide who was right and who was in the wrong. Do you think that if the Axis Powers won WW2 that History would still have judged them baddly - if they ended up writing it?

karla said: That the marginalized race or culture may think it wrong to be treated thus but it is right to the winner and wrong in their view point.

I see you're getting it at last. It's all about PoV.

karla said: So neither really has any moral imperative to do anything differently.

Moral imperatives are internal to a culture - so yes.

karla said: If the winner is right because they believe themselves to be right and they create their own rightness then then the holocaust was not an evil injustice in this world.

Not to its perpetrators, no - just to the rest of us... the winners.

karla said: There is then no meaning for it, only that it happened by people who thought themselves justified to people who thought themselves victimized.

Indeed. It happened because of the Nazi ideology and they thought they could get away with it. They were wrong about that.

GCT said...

CK,
Please don't say that "objective morality does not exist," because it is factually wrong. Objective morals have been developed and, hence, do exist. Now, if you claim that "absolute morality does not exist," that's a more defensible claim because we don't happen to have evidence for absolute morality.

Karla,
Let's take the example you've cited of the Nazi extermination of the Jews. Hitler believed that the "Aryans" were the superior race, but does that make it so? By studying the objective facts of biology, we see that not only did Hitler not use empirical study (he actively opposed Darwin and evolution) but that what he stated was contrary to objective and empirical fact. We can also note that extermination of a racial group can have a deleterious effect on the ability of a species to survive, thus once again going against objective fact and empiricism.

So, to get back to what I stated before:

We would die off. That's why that sort of thinking has never caught on evolutionarily.

Meaning that our evolution as an animal is such that we have evolved to innately feel that things like murder of others in our species is wrong, etc. This is yet more objective fact and empiricism.

CyberKitten said...

GCT said: Please don't say that "objective morality does not exist," because it is factually wrong. Objective morals have been developed and, hence, do exist.

Really? What are they and how are they 'objective' exactly?

GCT said...

CK,
Take a look at utilitarianism, for instance.

Simply because humans develop something does not mean it's not objective.

CyberKitten said...

Why do you think that Utilitarianism is objective? Objective in what way?

Karla said...

When I use the word objective I am saying that which is real regardless of who believes it.

What do you mean by the term Cyber and GCT?

CyberKitten said...

To me an objective morality can only exist outside of human culture because everything a culture produces is by its very nature tranistory, arbitrary and subjective. Because there is no place outside of human culture (or non-human culture for that matter) no morality we produce can be objective - because the culture that produces them cannot be objective. Morals by their very nature are cultural, geographical and temporal. How *can* they be objective?

Objective morality would be something that everyone could agree on in any culture and throughout time. Such morality does not and, I contend, cannot exist.

GCT said...

CK,
What you are describing is not "objective" so much as "universal" or "absolute." Objective simply means not influenced by personal feelings or interpretations. I can make rules that are not influenced by these things and are by definition objective, which is exactly what utilitarianism and quite a few other moral philosophies do.

For example, the way we see light is different from person to person. Someone who is red-green color blind will see gray instead of red or green (or both). I can, however, come up with an objective system for identifying color based on the wavelength of the light in question. "Red" would have a wavelength between about 600 and 780nm, and it would be an objective way to determine the "color" of the light. This is so even though someone with red-green color blindness might not see red at all. It doesn't make the rules or guidelines set forth any less objective.

"Objective morality would be something that everyone could agree on in any culture and throughout time. Such morality does not and, I contend, cannot exist."

I agree that this type of morality can not exist, because we obviously don't agree with the morality of people who came before us, but I disagree that this is a proper definition of "Objective morality." This is closer to absolute morality or universal morality.

Karla said...

Objectivity is irrespective of who believes it. So I think something can be true and yet not apprehended by all. It does not need to be universally accepted to be true.

I believe the real exist and we do not usually reflect it accurately so we cannot use what we think as an absolute. Our apprehension of the good is subjective and thus cannot be absolutized. But that does not negate from the existence of a real we are trying to discover as best we can.

I dare say if we thought truth or morals were what we make them we wouldn't need to have so many discussions about it for there would not be a real to approximate in our thinking. Our discussions (humanities not just ones in this forum) revolve around trying to find what is real as if there is indeed something objective by which we are trying to flesh out a greater understanding of.

Karla said...

"For example, the way we see light is different from person to person. Someone who is red-green color blind will see gray instead of red or green (or both). I can, however, come up with an objective system for identifying color based on the wavelength of the light in question. "Red" would have a wavelength between about 600 and 780nm, and it would be an objective way to determine the "color" of the light. This is so even though someone with red-green color blindness might not see red at all. It doesn't make the rules or guidelines set forth any less objective."

This would only be a created standard. It doesn't make the color you select any more congruent with the real color. It may be helpful to make such a selection, but the selection would not be made objectively but subjectively. It would be a created standard and thus objective to any agreeing to follow it, but by no means the really real choice unless you happened to stumble upon the really real color in your apprehension of it.

If, however, you maintain that there is a real green that we do not see fully and may not represent accurately then you would be speaking of an objective green even if it could not be precisely apprehended.

This is analogous to what I mean when I say there is a real good and we cannot exhaustively codify or fully know that which is right in such a way that we can absolutize it, but it's objectivity remains despite our subjective thinking about it. We can get closer to it or further away from it in our thinking and actions, but we can't nail it down and limit it into absolutes. The good is absolutely good, but it's reflections and shadows and our subjective understanding of it cannot be absolutized. This is why I am shying away from using such terms as absolute morality rather than objective morality. For it can be objective, but I cannot claim that we have the power or need to absolutize ethics and morals in a legalistic structure.

GCT said...

"Our apprehension of the good is subjective and thus cannot be absolutized."

What does this mean?

"But that does not negate from the existence of a real we are trying to discover as best we can."

That we don't all agree on what is moral doesn't mean that moral absolutes do not exist. But, that also doesn't mean they do, and it's irrational to assume that they do without evidence.

"I dare say if we thought truth or morals were what we make them we wouldn't need to have so many discussions about it for there would not be a real to approximate in our thinking."

I disagree. We would still discuss them in terms of trying to win others over to our way of thinking...a very human tendency.

"Our discussions (humanities not just ones in this forum) revolve around trying to find what is real as if there is indeed something objective by which we are trying to flesh out a greater understanding of."

Trying to make sense of the world around us is also a human tendency. Even if we are acting as if there are absolutes, that doesn't mean they exist.

"This would only be a created standard. It doesn't make the color you select any more congruent with the real color."

No, it's an objective standard. One can look at my standard and declare that light is either red or not, according to an objective measure (one not relying on personal bias or interpretation). Besides, what is the "real color?"

"It may be helpful to make such a selection, but the selection would not be made objectively but subjectively."

Which selection? The wavelength is purely objective. Where we set the boundaries from color to color can be done in a purely non-personally biased way as well. I can institute different names for the colors and set the wavelengths where I want as well.

"It would be a created standard and thus objective to any agreeing to follow it, but by no means the really real choice unless you happened to stumble upon the really real color in your apprehension of it."

No, that is not correct. Regardless of whether one chooses to follow my scheme, it is still objective. And, what do you mean by the "really real color?" This is meaningless, because I'm objectively defining color.

"If, however, you maintain that there is a real green that we do not see fully and may not represent accurately then you would be speaking of an objective green even if it could not be precisely apprehended."

No, I would be speaking of an absolute - not the same as objective I remind you again. I would also be using Plato's idea of abstract concepts having externalized ideals.

"This is analogous to what I mean when I say there is a real good and we cannot exhaustively codify or fully know that which is right in such a way that we can absolutize it, but it's objectivity remains despite our subjective thinking about it."

Once again, you are talking about absolute goods/morals and claiming they exist sans evidence as well as confusing absolute with objective.

"We can get closer to it or further away from it in our thinking and actions, but we can't nail it down and limit it into absolutes."

This makes no sense what-so-ever, as you are talking about absolutes.

"The good is absolutely good, but it's reflections and shadows and our subjective understanding of it cannot be absolutized."

More nonsense.

"This is why I am shying away from using such terms as absolute morality rather than objective morality."

Well, stop conflating the two because they are not the same.

"For it can be objective, but I cannot claim that we have the power or need to absolutize ethics and morals in a legalistic structure."

And, this is more nonsense. If there is an absolute moral system, it can be codified. Plus, what does it mean to claim that we can make objective moral laws because absolute morality exists, but not absolute moral laws? This is contradictory nonsense.

Karla said...

"Our apprehension of the good is subjective and thus cannot be absolutized."

What does this mean?

I mean our thinking is not perfect – we see through dark lenses so to speak and we don’t see clearly what is. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a true, but we don’t see it truly. We see in part, we get glimpses of it, we discover some truth but not in it’s purest realest form. You have said yourself that absolute exhaustive certainty about a thing is impossible. If this is true, we cannot absolutize things. There are some things we can know better than other things but even those could be a little or a lot different than what we think.

To break it down: There is a real but we most likely will not know that real exhaustively or with perfection. Our knowledge of it is limited, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t striving to know reality better. We can only even use words like “better” if we have a standard by which we are aiming. If one view point is better than another than one is closer to the truth than the other. If one action is better than the other then one is more right than the other then there is an outside source of right we didn’t create that we are using to determine that “more” or “better” or “worse” from.


GCT “That we don't all agree on what is moral doesn't mean that moral absolutes do not exist. But, that also doesn't mean they do, and it's irrational to assume that they do without evidence.”

True. But we are getting closer to understanding the terms being used in this discussion. The existence of a real good or true moral standard does not need universal acceptance to be a correct assertion. However, we do need to have reasonable grounds to infer the existence of such a standard.


GCT “I disagree. We would still discuss them in terms of trying to win others over to our way of thinking...a very human tendency.”

If we make truth instead of discover truth then our way of thinking is just as valid as the next person and we have no purpose in such discussions. You could say we do it out of a selfish need to be right, but this is also presumes a right exist. All our language continually comes back to a right, better, good, correct when these things are nonsensical if there is no real we are trying to understand.

Karla said...

GCT “Trying to make sense of the world around us is also a human tendency. Even if we are acting as if there are absolutes, that doesn't mean they exist.”

If everyone is living in a presumption of a real existing maybe it is something to examine further. Where would that sense have developed to need to make sense of the world? Why do we do this? You are merely stating that to do so is human. But why? Why ought the world make sense? If there is no Mind behind it, why ought it make sense?

GCT “No, it's an objective standard. One can look at my standard and declare that light is either red or not, according to an objective measure (one not relying on personal bias or interpretation). Besides, what is the "real color?"

Which selection? The wavelength is purely objective. Where we set the boundaries from color to color can be done in a purely non-personally biased way as well. I can institute different names for the colors and set the wavelengths where I want as well.”

“we set” “I can institute” “where I want” “my standard” these aren’t words of objectivity.


GCT “No, that is not correct. Regardless of whether one chooses to follow my scheme, it is still objective. And, what do you mean by the "really real color?" This is meaningless, because I'm objectively defining color.”

Would the standard not be what you set? What you decided upon based on parameters you decided to use? Could not someone just has easily justify a different one? When the two are placed in contrast how would one measure the better standard? There would have to be something outside of the created standard to measure it by and that would be the objective standard.

I understand that colors are perceived from what light something reflects so maybe “real color” is rather confusing. Though there may be a true color that would be what we see if we could see perfectly. I do not know though.


GCT “No, I would be speaking of an absolute - not the same as objective I remind you again. I would also be using Plato's idea of abstract concepts having externalized ideals.”

I agree somewhat with Plato, at least as I understand his concept, that we see shadows of the real, but that a real exist, but I don’t agree that there reality is rooted in abstraction.

GCT “Once again, you are talking about absolute goods/morals and claiming they exist sans evidence as well as confusing absolute with objective.”

I don’t mean to jump the gun in the discussion with inserting unsupported claims, to me they are supported, but I understand I have not adequately demonstrated that to you.

I said "We can get closer to it or further away from it in our thinking and actions, but we can't nail it down and limit it into absolutes."

GCT said “This makes no sense what-so-ever, as you are talking about absolutes.”

I am saying that something can be true but we don’t fully understand all of it and we can’t personally take it upon ourselves to take something we know in part and make it an absolute for everyone else. My knowledge of something even if it is true does not give me license to impose it on another as the full and complete picture of that reality which no one can improve upon or learn more about. I can know something is true, but not know that truth exhaustively nor hold to it so tightly as to not allow the reality to change my thinking. If there exists a really real then in my opinion I ought to want what is really real and give up my perception of reality when met with something that seems a more true representation than what I currently think.


GCT “And, this is more nonsense. If there is an absolute moral system, it can be codified. Plus, what does it mean to claim that we can make objective moral laws because absolute morality exists, but not absolute moral laws? This is contradictory nonsense.”

Going to get back to you on this last one later.

GCT said...

"You have said yourself that absolute exhaustive certainty about a thing is impossible. If this is true, we cannot absolutize things."

What does it mean to "absolutize" something? And, are you agreeing with me?

"To break it down: There is a real but we most likely will not know that real exhaustively or with perfection."

You've said all this before. What evidence do you have for absolutes?

"If one action is better than the other then one is more right than the other then there is an outside source of right we didn’t create that we are using to determine that “more” or “better” or “worse” from."

Having comparatives in our speech does not mean that "there is an outside source of right" or that absolutes exist.

"However, we do need to have reasonable grounds to infer the existence of such a standard."

And, I've been asking for those grounds. So far, the best you've been able to conjure up is your personal belief that they must exist because either:
1) We have shared ideas of good or better, so therefore it must exist - this doesn't work
2) You personally don't know how morality can exist without god, so therefore god must exist - also doesn't work

"All our language continually comes back to a right, better, good, correct when these things are nonsensical if there is no real we are trying to understand."

I still disagree, but even if you are right, your example presupposes that not only is there no right/good/etc. but that we are all aware of that fact!

GCT said...

"If everyone is living in a presumption of a real existing maybe it is something to examine further."

Go ahead, people have been. Present your evidence when you have some.

"But why? Why ought the world make sense? If there is no Mind behind it, why ought it make sense?"

It simply does. Presupposing that it ought to is making unjustified assumptions.

"“we set” “I can institute” “where I want” “my standard” these aren’t words of objectivity."

Only because I am creating the objective standard. Regardless of the source, is the standard objective? Yes, it is. By the same token, couldn't god use the same language in invoking his supposed objective standards? I doubt you would object to that.

"Would the standard not be what you set?"

Does it matter? If it does, then when god sets standards those are also not objective by the same criteria, so which is it?

"Could not someone just has easily justify a different one?"

Yes. In fact, it's already been done and it's widely accepted.

"There would have to be something outside of the created standard to measure it by and that would be the objective standard."

Oh really? If you claim that Xianity has an objective moral standard I'll point you to other religions and their moral standards, which would also be objective. According to what you just said, only the one that is somehow (how?) deemed better is the objective standard and the other one is not. This makes no sense. Objective does not mean better.

"I understand that colors are perceived from what light something reflects so maybe “real color” is rather confusing."

From scattered light, actually, and "real color" is worse than confusing, it's non-sensical.

"I agree somewhat with Plato, at least as I understand his concept, that we see shadows of the real, but that a real exist, but I don’t agree that there reality is rooted in abstraction."

Is there such a thing as a tangible number three or color red? Are there absolute ideals of three or red? And, by "abstract" I mean that they are concepts, not entities. A moral is not a thing that exists of its own. You keep talking about the "real" and glimpses of it, and it really (no pun intended) makes no sense.

"I can know something is true, but not know that truth exhaustively nor hold to it so tightly as to not allow the reality to change my thinking."

This is a contradiction.

"If there exists a really real then in my opinion I ought to want what is really real and give up my perception of reality when met with something that seems a more true representation than what I currently think."

This is not how you tend to operate.

CyberKitten said...

GCT said: Objective simply means not influenced by personal feelings or interpretations.

Where humans and morality is concerned I don't think that's possible. Schools of morality are products of a particular culture and economic system. They are created by people (usually men) who are products of a particular culture. They may certainly *aim* at objectivity but such an aim takes place within the context of their own culture. An objective morality in 18th Century England would be different to another objective morality in 4th Century Greece.

What you seem to be proposing is some kind of science of morality. I honestly don't think that such a thing is achievable - or much desirable actually.... You almost seem to be saying that Good and Bad can be *discovered*....

karla said: The good is absolutely good, but it's reflections and shadows and our subjective understanding of it cannot be absolutized.

Whilst I agree that Plato was interesting in his time I think that his idea of Forms is total junk. I find it difficult to understand how anyone can put forward such a very silly idea in the 21st Century.

karla said: If one action is better than the other then one is more right than the other then there is an outside source of right we didn’t create that we are using to determine that “more” or “better” or “worse” from.

That doesn't follow. You can say that one thing is *reletively* better than another without the need to measure them both against any *external* yardstick. As I do not believe that there is anywhere for such yardsticks to exist I can hardly put forward the idea that we can independently measure things against it. Measurements of good and bad are made against other subjective moral codes. We do not judge actions against some mythical perfect code - even a dimly seen one. The notion is nonsensical.

karla said: All our language continually comes back to a right, better, good, correct when these things are nonsensical if there is no real we are trying to understand.

[sigh] No it doesn't. When we compare moralities we are comparing them with each other. We are not comparing them to another supposedly independent thing - for nothing like that exists. If it did you'd be able to point to it. Where is it? What is it? How do we know its there? Where is the evidence that morality independent of humanity exists?

GCT said...

CK,
"Where humans and morality is concerned I don't think that's possible."

Of course it is possible. It's been done multiple times.

"Schools of morality are products of a particular culture and economic system. They are created by people (usually men) who are products of a particular culture. They may certainly *aim* at objectivity but such an aim takes place within the context of their own culture."

This doesn't matter in terms of formulating objective principles or rules and codifying them.

"An objective morality in 18th Century England would be different to another objective morality in 4th Century Greece."

They would both still be objective...they simply disagree or use different objective measures. Are measurement systems objective? Surely the metric system is as is the English standard system (which you Brits don't even use anymore, but ironically we do...) Those are two different systems that don't agree and use different metrics, but they are both objective, right?

"You almost seem to be saying that Good and Bad can be *discovered*...."

Not at all. I am saying that we can use reality and the real world as objective measures in forming objective rules, and that we can form objective rules based on objective measures. That's all. Not everyone has to agree that something is right or best or anything like that in order for something to be objective.

Karla said...

GTC "Does it matter? If it does, then when god sets standards those are also not objective by the same criteria, so which is it?"

God making the standard makes it objective for us, and true to what is right. However, I am not arguing for God making the standard, but God being the standard.

Karla said...

Cyber "That doesn't follow. You can say that one thing is *reletively* better than another without the need to measure them both against any *external* yardstick. As I do not believe that there is anywhere for such yardsticks to exist I can hardly put forward the idea that we can independently measure things against it. Measurements of good and bad are made against other subjective moral codes. We do not judge actions against some mythical perfect code - even a dimly seen one. The notion is nonsensical."

We do it all the time. We are always judging actions as good or bad or better or worse. We have the ability to think in that construct. It comes to us naturally because there is something else at work than our own subjectivity something that compels us to consider which way is better as well as something that works against us where we sometimes do the thing that isn't better while knowing it's not good. Some will justify the action so that they ignore guilt but it still comes down to knowing we've done something not good.

How do we know this? Why do we feel guilt when we can just make the good action whatever best suits us at the time?

GCT said...

"God making the standard makes it objective for us, and true to what is right."

That's special pleading.

"However, I am not arguing for God making the standard, but God being the standard."

This makes no sense.

"We do it all the time."

We do what all the time? Are you saying that we measure abstract concepts against an external yardstick all the time? If so, then you are begging the question, since that's what you are trying to argue for.

"We are always judging actions as good or bad or better or worse. We have the ability to think in that construct."

And, as CK noted (as did I) this doesn't mean that there's some external standard.

"It comes to us naturally because there is something else at work than our own subjectivity something that compels us to consider which way is better as well as something that works against us where we sometimes do the thing that isn't better while knowing it's not good. Some will justify the action so that they ignore guilt but it still comes down to knowing we've done something not good."

Simply continuing to assert this doesn't make it any more true. You have to demonstrate it and provide some evidence.

"How do we know this? Why do we feel guilt when we can just make the good action whatever best suits us at the time?"

Because humans have not evolved to act in those ways. Please provide evidence that it is because some god is compelling us to act in moral ways and/or that external absolutes exist and that we have access to those absolutes. Good luck.

Karla said...

It's not special pleading. If we create something we do it subjectively. It may become a standard we set, but it not set from somewhere outside of us, unless we are discovering something objective standard outside ourselves.

God being the author of our existence, and the only eternal absolute would then have the ability to give us standards that are fully objective to us. Any standards He has given to us in a codified form or intuitively designed in us are a reflection of what it is that lines up with what is good and right. The good and right being that which conforms correctly to His nature.

Karla said...

GCT "Because humans have not evolved to act in those ways. Please provide evidence that it is because some god is compelling us to act in moral ways and/or that external absolutes exist and that we have access to those absolutes. Good luck."

Why do humans kill and do things destructive to themselves and to others from your point of view then?

And why do people think we ought not to destroy human life, or do certain things?

Please I have yet to understand your position.

I understand Cyber's more, because it seems to be to be more congruent with her naturalistic worldview than yours does.

You seem to be arguing for an objective moral standard, but where did that come from? Are you speaking merely of the laws that govern our societies and enforced by police etc.?

CyberKitten said...

GCT said: Of course it is possible. It's been done multiple times.

I disagree - probably because we disagree with what we mean by objective. As far as I am concerned something is objective if it exists independently of us. Therefore the speed of light or the vibration rate of a cesium atom are objective events that can be measured. Morality only exists because we called it into existence. When humanity goes extinct at some point morality will vanish with us. It does not have an independent existence and, therefore, is subjective rather than objective.

GCT said: This doesn't matter in terms of formulating objective principles or rules and codifying them.

I actually think that cultural and economic factors are vital in understanding *any* morality. Without a decent understanding of where a form of morality comes from it is very difficult to understand the detail of what it means. Context is everything.

GCT said: I am saying that we can use reality and the real world as objective measures in forming objective rules, and that we can form objective rules based on objective measures. That's all.

Erm... How exactly do you *measure* morality? What SI Units would you use?

GCT said: Not everyone has to agree that something is right or best or anything like that in order for something to be objective.

Can you give me an example of an objective moral so we know what you're talking about?

karla said: We are always judging actions as good or bad or better or worse.

Of course. We judge the actions of others against our standards - as they judge ours.

karla said: Why do we feel guilt when we can just make the good action whatever best suits us at the time?

We feel guilt because we have been *taught* to feel guilt. A classic example is masturbation. Those who have been taught that its wrong will feel guilt whilst or after doing it. While those who have not had such teaching will not feel guilty. Like so much else feelings of guilt are cultural events.

karla said: If we create something we do it subjectively. It may become a standard we set, but it not set from somewhere outside of us, unless we are discovering something objective standard outside ourselves.

Except that there *is* nowhere 'outside' of us. Morality is a human cultural construct. There is nowhere 'outside' in which to stand.

karla said: Why do humans kill and do things destructive to themselves and to others from your point of view then?

For probably as many reasons as you can think of.

karla said: And why do people think we ought not to destroy human life, or do certain things?

Mostly cultural reasons with a bit of genetics thrown in.

GCT said...

"It's not special pleading. If we create something we do it subjectively. It may become a standard we set, but it not set from somewhere outside of us, unless we are discovering something objective standard outside ourselves."

It is special pleading. According to this, if aliens present us with a moral code, would it be subjective or objective? You would have to say objective. But, if some group of other humans gives me a code then it's subjective and not objective?

I contend that you still don't understand the terms being used.

"Why do humans kill and do things destructive to themselves and to others from your point of view then?"

Because we are human and have evolved certain characteristics.

"And why do people think we ought not to destroy human life, or do certain things?"

Because we have empathy. We can apply the golden rule. It also actually hurts the potential survival of our species to go on genocidal pogroms.

"Please I have yet to understand your position."

I suggest that you study some evolution.

"I understand Cyber's more, because it seems to be to be more congruent with her naturalistic worldview than yours does."

"Naturalistic?" My view is completely naturalistic, as is CK's.

"You seem to be arguing for an objective moral standard, but where did that come from?"

No. I've quite plainly stated that objective morals can be developed. You are continually confusing "objective" with "absolute" which is leading you to your confusion.

"Are you speaking merely of the laws that govern our societies and enforced by police etc.?"

The laws of society are objective to some degree, yes. If you steal a car, you face a specific sentence structure, etc.

GCT said...

CK,
"Morality only exists because we called it into existence. When humanity goes extinct at some point morality will vanish with us. It does not have an independent existence and, therefore, is subjective rather than objective."

By this logic, math is also subjective. I doubt you would agree with that, however.

"I actually think that cultural and economic factors are vital in understanding *any* morality."

I don't disagree with that at all, but it's immaterial to whether the codification of morals is objective or not.

"Erm... How exactly do you *measure* morality? What SI Units would you use?"

By the rules that are set up. Just as I can measure the color of light by rules set up via wavelength, I would measure morality by the rules set up to judge it.

"Can you give me an example of an objective moral so we know what you're talking about?"

Murder is defined as X. Objective moral law: don't murder. Objective measure - did someone cause an action that fits the definition of X? If yes, then murder has occurred and a violation of the moral has occurred. Now, we just need to carefully define X in order to leave out interpretation. That could be done by laying down very specific clauses, like:

Murder is:
The taking of a human life (if the person does not die, it is not murder, and human is defined by an entity that has human consciousness, is outside the womb, etc. - sorry but I'm not going to be exhaustive right here...) when the following conditions apply:
1 - No threat to the person is present
2 - etc. etc. etc.

It's not an easy process, but it's not impossible either.

Karla said...

GTC "Objective moral law: don't murder."

Where did that come from? Why ought I to follow it? Why is it wrong to murder?

Also, aliens would be beings, most likely finite, and not external to the natural world. So this would be different than what I am positing with "good" being rooted in an uncreated, eternal Being.

GCT said...

"Where did that come from? Why ought I to follow it? Why is it wrong to murder?"

It came from lots of sources. You should follow it because you are a rational entity that is capable of observing empathy and reciprocation and also because you have a genetic predisposition to do so. Both of these are reasons why we would consider it wrong as well.

The point, however, that you seem to be missing is even if there's no good reason to follow it, etc. it's still objective.

"Also, aliens would be beings, most likely finite, and not external to the natural world."

It doesn't matter, they would be external to us. That's the criteria that you are setting forth. Oh yeah, I forgot that you are conflating absolute with objective.

Please stop doing that. Absolute is not the same as objective and you are causing us to go round and round in circles because you either can not comprehend that fact or are willfully ignoring it.

Karla said...

absolute something that is not dependent upon external conditions for existence or for its specific nature, size, etc. (opposed to relative ).
15. the absolute,
a. something that is free from any restriction or condition.
b. something that is independent of some or all relations.
c. something that is perfect or complete." www.dictionary.com


See I don't think morals exists independently and completely on their own. So this is why I don't use the term absolute to refer to morals. I once did, but now I don't think it accurate.

God, if He exists, is the only one who can fit this definition. He is the only self-existing being.

Now for objective not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
6. intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.
7. being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject (opposed to subjective ).
8. of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.


It would seem that the word "objective" describes that which is not contingent upon our feelings or thoughts, but that which is really real independent of the observer. "Having actual existence or reality." (American Heritage Dictionary)

Objective morals, if they exist, would need to be outside of what we create with our minds, but what we discover existing externally from us. So they would need to be rooted in reality we don't create but is really real.

Or they are subjective -- that which is created by our own way of thinking but not rooted in an external real.

Murder being wrong is what we think it should be for our own reasons, rather than it really being wrong because life is really valuable and we ought not to take it.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: It would seem that the word "objective" describes that which is not contingent upon our feelings or thoughts, but that which is really real independent of the observer. "Having actual existence or reality." (American Heritage Dictionary)

Objective morals, if they exist, would need to be outside of what we create with our minds, but what we discover existing externally from us. So they would need to be rooted in reality we don't create but is really real.

Thank you Karla. That is *exactly* the point I've been trying to make.

GCT said...

Karla and CK,
You are both still confused as to the definitions. If we used your interpretations, then we would have to conclude that math is subjective. It's good that you actually looked up the words, but I can only lead you to water, I can't make you drink it. I'll try though.

When it says not based on our thoughts or feelings, it's describing the actual act or thought or what-have-you. It does not mean that we can't set down rules that are objective that one can follow without having to interpret or use their own feelings.

If we went by what you both are saying, then 1+1=2 is a completely subjective thing, since it came from our minds. It's how we describe the world around us, but I bet neither of you is willing to claim that it is indeed subjective. Why not? It came from our thoughts. Before we dreamed up the number 1 to describe a single object, there was no such thing as the number 1. Therefore, math is subjective.

Once you understand why math is objective, you will understand why you are not getting the definition right.

CyberKitten said...

GCT said: Once you understand why math is objective, you will understand why you are not getting the definition right.

Well, maths is just a notational form (like a language) that is used to reflect reality. The reality it models is objective (unless you take the Copenhagen Interpretation of QM to its logical conclusion) but maths itself is a subjective construct just like all other languages.

GCT said...

"Well, maths is just a notational form (like a language) that is used to reflect reality. The reality it models is objective (unless you take the Copenhagen Interpretation of QM to its logical conclusion) but maths itself is a subjective construct just like all other languages."

No no no no no. Math is in no way subjective. I'm sorry, but you have no idea what you are talking about.

Using your interpretations, all card game rules are subjective. All sports rules are subjective. All board game rules are subjective. This is simply wrong. If I'm holding a pair of kings and you are holding a pair of queens, my hand beats your hand, no matter and it is not open to interpretation or feelings. Yet, those rules were made by humans, hence you would claim that they are subjective and open to interpretation or feelings? Rubbish.

Math is objective even though humans created it to describe the natural world. It's every bit as objective as science (which you would also have to say is subjective now!) rules for games, and rules for morality that are designed to be objective. Using your definition there is NOTHING that is not subjective.

CyberKitten said...

GCT said: Math is in no way subjective. I'm sorry, but you have no idea what you are talking about.

{laughs] We are *obviously* misunderstanding each other. Amongst other things Maths attempts to model an objective reality. This does not mean that Maths needs to be objective to do it. Firstly, as I said earlier, Maths is like a language used to describe things in a certain way. Like all languages it has a history which is arbitrary and subjective. Would you say that French or Spanish were objective? I think not. The way we use Maths to explain things - or even the fact that we use Maths rather than something else - is also cultural and historical. If we re-ran human culture from the beginning again its pretty certain that we'd get a different type of maths or maybe none at all. Whatever we used to model reality would still be attempting to do so... but it might not be any kind of maths we recognise.

Science attempts to understand objective reality - but again it doesn't make the method (which is all science is really) objective. Science certaining *aims* at objectivity but it doesn't always attain it. It is difficult to say, for example, that cosmology and psychology are equally objective - because quite simply they're not. Unless you want to say that psychology isn't a *real* science.

The point you made about the rules of any game is instructive. Rules are not objective. What they are is agreed upon between the participants. A king beats a queen because we *say* that a king beats a queen. Such a rule has no meaning outside of the context of the game. Other people can play the game once they have learnt the rules but again this does not make them objective - just agreed upon. In some games aces are high - in others they're low. Rules of the game are arbitrary and subjective - just like the rules of morality where this conversation started. The rules are not objective because outside of the context of the game they are meaningless. Just as morals taken out of context lose all meaning.

GCT said: Using your definition there is NOTHING that is not subjective.

Everything inside human culture is subjective and arbitrary. If objective reality exists (which it probably does) that is where you will find objectivity.

GCT said...

"{laughs] We are *obviously* misunderstanding each other."

Indeed. You have re-defined subjective to mean anything and everything that has anything to do with humans. This is an incorrect usage.

Let's take the example of math. 1+1=2 is objective, no matter what you say. It is not open to interpretation. It is not open to human bias or feelings. It is simply not subjective. Depending on your mood of the day, 1 and 1 are still 2. It is literally boggling my mind that you can claim that math is subjective. Descriptions of the natural world are also not subjective by default.

Game rules are not subjective either. A king beats a queen because the rule says it does, not because you feel like it does or you interpret on a certain day that it does. It doesn't matter whether you agree with the rule or not, the objective rules laid out for poker state that a pair of kings beats a pair of queens. Nevermind that one hand may be just as statistically probable as the other, the rules are objective. They do not rely on human interpretation, nor do they rely on human bias or feelings. They are not subjective.

"The rules are not objective because outside of the context of the game they are meaningless."

This matters not one bit. Once again you can not differentiate between objective and absolute. I suggest that you look up the terms and how they are actually used. Rules that hold for all contexts, etc. are absolute. This is NOT a prerequisite for being objective.

"Rules of the game are arbitrary and subjective - just like the rules of morality where this conversation started."

Arbitrary is not the same as subjective, nor does it necessarily lead to subjectivity. Again, you are not using the terms in question properly.

"Everything inside human culture is subjective and arbitrary. If objective reality exists (which it probably does) that is where you will find objectivity."

And, this is just plain wrong. Please tell me how I can subjectively interpret math or the rules to draw poker. Please tell me how they change based on my feelings or bias.

GCT said...

Maybe this will help:

You are placing too much emphasis on origin. In effect, you are both claiming that only subjectivity can come from humans. So, any statement that I make will necessarily be subjective. Is this the case?

"The time is 3:39 EDT."

Is that a subjective or objective statement?

"Roger is 6 feet tall."

Is that a subjective or objective statement?

"I'm feel hungry."

Is that a subjective or objective statement?

According to both of you, those are all subjective statements. Yet, the third one is obviously so, while the other two are measurable and can be verified in objective ways. IOW, the first two are actually objective statements even though according to your re-definition of the words used they would be classified (again, according to you) as subjective.

Karla said...

Math is objective in that if you have one item and add it to another item it is really two items. But the numbers used to represent that reality may be subjectively chosen. The signs that refer to the signified may be subjectively representative of the real, but the real remains objective.


Card game rules and sports rules are created subjectively based on the rules the creator thought best. Someone designed the game of poker and decided what the rules would be. That person didn't discover the rules that really govern poker for poker was an invented game with invented rules.

Morality either falls into this category of subjectively being created by what man feels or thinks the rules should be or it is objectively real and man ought not murder because murder is really wrong and not decided by man to be wrong.

Cyber is taking the view that we create morals and thus they are subjective, there isn't a real they are representatives of, they just are what we decide they are.

GCT, you seem to be taking the view that while their is not a real behind morals that they are still objective because their are man made created rules that we all ought to follow. It seems you are arguing the same as Cyber but using objective instead of subjective to define your position.

GCT said...

No. The numbers are objective. I ask you as well as CK to demonstrate how one can interpret 1+1=2 in a subjective way. How can personal bias or feelings sway the statement 1+1=2? You can say all you want that math is subjective, but it doesn't make it so. Simply because it was human made doesn't make it subjective! I am as baffled by your inability to grasp this as anything else that you've said.

"Someone designed the game of poker and decided what the rules would be. That person didn't discover the rules that really govern poker for poker was an invented game with invented rules."

Am I talking to myself here? Once again, it has nothing to do with origins! It doesn't matter whether the rules were made up or discovered (BTW, hands win on the basis of statistical improbability of patterns, where the more improbable hand wins). The fact is that the rules are objective to players who deal a hand of poker. There is no interpretation. There is no personal bias. There is no feeling. Please tell me how one can play a subjective hand of poker if you are going to insist on this inanity.

"Morality either falls into this category of subjectively being created by what man feels or thinks the rules should be or it is objectively real and man ought not murder because murder is really wrong and not decided by man to be wrong."

False dichotomy.

"GCT, you seem to be taking the view that while their is not a real behind morals that they are still objective because their are man made created rules that we all ought to follow. It seems you are arguing the same as Cyber but using objective instead of subjective to define your position."

No, and the fact that I've explained my position multiple times and you still won't accurately represent it is rather disappointing. It's one thing to disagree, but to be at the point where you won't even acknowledge what the other person is arguing is something else entirely.

Karla said...

GCT, I'm not arguing 1+1 equaling 2 is subjective. I am saying the one could argue argue that the signs were at one point subjectively chosen. Using the digit 1 to signify a singular thing rather than using a different mark to do so like using roman numerals or some other sign. The signified the real remains the same, but what we use to represent it may vary.

However, I agree that if you want to be taken seriously in math you use the accepted digits to do math and you aren't subjectively choosing them now, they are what they are, thus objective in that context.

Same with a card game. To the players now using those rules they are objective. But they originated subjectively.

What I am getting at with morality, is there a real that we are representing such as the real of 1+1 = 2 or is it something we simply have decided upon? Is murder really wrong irrespective of human acceptance of that fact, or is it only wrong because humans have set forth that as a rule? I think Cyber is taking the latter position and I the former. I'm not quiet sure yet which you are taking, you seem to have a third response.

GCT said...

"GCT, I'm not arguing 1+1 equaling 2 is subjective."

Yes, you are.

"I am saying the one could argue argue that the signs were at one point subjectively chosen."

Hence, you are saying that 1+1=2 is subjective.

"However, I agree that if you want to be taken seriously in math you use the accepted digits to do math and you aren't subjectively choosing them now, they are what they are, thus objective in that context."

And, thus you've just contradicted yourself. Congrats.

"Same with a card game. To the players now using those rules they are objective. But they originated subjectively. "

Same comment as above. Congrats for contradicting yourself.

"Is murder really wrong irrespective of human acceptance of that fact, or is it only wrong because humans have set forth that as a rule?"

Both. We have evolutionarily evolved to find murder to be wrong (again, species that don't do this don't tend to survive). In this sense, it is wrong irrespective of human acceptance. We also practice empathy and reason which also lead to the conclusion that murder would be wrong. We also create rules to follow.

This is a side question, however, as to whether morality can be objective or subjective or absolute. Until you can clear up your own contradictions and realize that they arise because the arguments I've made are correct, we'll continue to go in circles.

Karla said...

"Both. We have evolutionarily evolved to find murder to be wrong (again, species that don't do this don't tend to survive). In this sense, it is wrong irrespective of human acceptance."

You are assuming all human survival is a good thing that ought to be desired. If one race murders another, humans still survive, just not those humans. What really stops someone morally from annihilating what they perceive as an inferior or troublesome race or people of a certain culture or belief?


"We also practice empathy and reason which also lead to the conclusion that murder would be wrong. We also create rules to follow."

So your saying I ought not do what I know doesn't feel good to me to another. How do you get to that as a moral objective/imperative?

I agree we do create some rules, for instance traffic laws and cultural rules that come and go.

But I think there are those that we discover that are really real.

I think we are still equating different meanings to the term objective. I am still maintaining that objective is that which does not originate in the human mind whereas you are arguing that even when it does it can be objective to others. Cyber, I believe, is arguing that morals can only originate in the human mind and can only be subjective.

GCT I think you see the way I am using the word "objective" as what you term "absolute." I see absolute as something being self-existing without relation to another outside of itself and by that definition I cannot term morals as that.

GCT said...

"You are assuming all human survival is a good thing that ought to be desired."

No, I'm not assuming anything.

"If one race murders another, humans still survive, just not those humans. What really stops someone morally from annihilating what they perceive as an inferior or troublesome race or people of a certain culture or belief?"

Again, it is inherent in our genetic makeup as social animals. Damaging the human species gene pool actually makes us less fit to propagate our species (as we can see from the problems that very inbred dogs experience, for one example).

"So your saying I ought not do what I know doesn't feel good to me to another. How do you get to that as a moral objective/imperative?"

By the same processes that I've been outlining for some time. Geez. Using reason, we develop moral objectives (or objective morals).

"I agree we do create some rules, for instance traffic laws and cultural rules that come and go."

I would hope you could agree to something that is empirically true.

"But I think there are those that we discover that are really real."

What do you mean by "really real?" You throw that term around a lot without ever defining it. And, what evidence do you have that any moral rule was "discovered?"

"I think we are still equating different meanings to the term objective."

Yes. I am using it in the correct sense, you are conflating it with "absolute."

"I am still maintaining that objective is that which does not originate in the human mind whereas you are arguing that even when it does it can be objective to others."

You've already conceded on this point by agreeing with me that math and card games have objective rules, even though they originated in a human mind. And, no, I'm not saying "it can be objective to others." I'm saying that, "it can be objective period." If I create a rule for a card game, it's objective to me as well, even though I created it. Again, origin does not matter.

"Cyber, I believe, is arguing that morals can only originate in the human mind and can only be subjective."

I think CK and I are very close on this, she just happens to also be confused about what the actual definitions of the words mean.

"GCT I think you see the way I am using the word "objective" as what you term "absolute.""

Well, yes. That's because you are confating the two.

"I see absolute as something being self-existing without relation to another outside of itself and by that definition I cannot term morals as that."

How is this different from your definition of objective? Secondly, that is not what "absolute" necessarily means. "Absolute" in this sense would mean true for all at all times in all conditions. If you claim that murder is wrong, no matter who is doing it, when it is done, and to whom, that would be an absolute, not an objective claim (it could also be objective, but we would need to know more about it in order to know for sure).

Karla said...

GTC “Again, it is inherent in our genetic makeup as social animals. Damaging the human species gene pool actually makes us less fit to propagate our species (as we can see from the problems that very inbred dogs experience, for one example).”

Something being in our genes or not doesn’t make it a moral value. Survival of our humanity is something we may like, but it is not something more right than our extinction. We don’t like to die out, but we cannot say naturalistically that we ought not do things that would cause us to die out.



”By the same processes that I've been outlining for some time. Geez. Using reason, we develop moral objectives (or objective morals).”

But they are not true to a real standard of what is good, but only developed according to what we think best. BTW, degrees of perfection are meaningless without the existence of perfection.

I had said "But I think there are those that we discover that are really real."

GCT “What do you mean by "really real?"

That which truly is.

GCT “You throw that term around a lot without ever defining it.”

Sorry. I’ll try to correct that.

GCT “And, what evidence do you have that any moral rule was "discovered?"”

If they aren’t discovered we have the argument you or Cyber give and that doesn’t, in my estimation thus far, provide a framework for real morality. It is steeped in meaningless proposals because it is asserting one way is better than another without any reference point of perfect good. All you are really left with is liking one thing better than another based on subjective feelings and thoughts. Even if you want to call it objective because it is a set of rules regardless of how developed it is still not binding in any way on a person. One can say all day long it is better not to murder, but that doesn’t mean the next person has any real moral reason to follow that rule. It may be in their own best interest at the time to ignore it regardless of what that will do to humanity at large. I see a world that doesn’t do what’s best for humanity all the time. Those people exist in all generations and each of us are those people who don’t do what we know we ought. What is your explanation for that?


GCT “Yes. I am using it in the correct sense, you are conflating it with "absolute."

Maybe we need to introduce another term if we can’t agree on the correct use of the word “objective”.

"I am still maintaining that objective is that which does not originate in the human mind whereas you are arguing that even when it does it can be objective to others."

GCT “ If I create a rule for a card game, it's objective to me as well, even though I created it. Again, origin does not matter.”

Origin matters a great deal. Did the rules of the game have objective origin or subjective origin?

GCT “How is this different from your definition of objective? Secondly, that is not what "absolute" necessarily means. "Absolute" in this sense would mean true for all at all times in all conditions. If you claim that murder is wrong, no matter who is doing it, when it is done, and to whom, that would be an absolute, not an objective claim (it could also be objective, but we would need to know more about it in order to know for sure).”

I am maintaining that the existence of morals rules/laws/values/principals/ethics are reflections sometimes more accurate sometimes less accurate of the ideal of God’s perfect goodness. Some we discover, some we are given divinely, some intuitively, and some we create falsely.

cl said...

Karla: "GCT, I'm not arguing 1+1 equaling 2 is subjective."

GCT: "Yes, you are."

Karla: "I am saying the one could argue argue that the signs were at one point subjectively chosen."

GCT: "Hence, you are saying that 1+1=2 is subjective."

I submit that Karla's correct in this particular sub-regard. Arguing that different symbols could have been used to represent said numbers does not entail that she's argued said arithmetic is subjective. If we use Y to designate a single instance of something, and Z to designate dual instances of something, the objective arithmetic would be the same: Y + Y would still = Z, just as 1=1 always = 2.

I'm not sure where you guys are talking past each other.

GCT said...

Karla,
"Something being in our genes or not doesn’t make it a moral value."

Never said that it did.

"Survival of our humanity is something we may like, but it is not something more right than our extinction."

To us it is.

"We don’t like to die out, but we cannot say naturalistically that we ought not do things that would cause us to die out."

I don't see why not.

"But they are not true to a real standard of what is good, but only developed according to what we think best."

Using reason and empirical knowledge, which BTW, is a real standard.

"BTW, degrees of perfection are meaningless without the existence of perfection."

Wrong again. There need not be an actual being or thing that is "perfect" for us to conceive of it.

"That which truly is."

What does that mean in terms of morality or the number "3"? You're asserting that these things actually exist as entities?

"If they aren’t discovered we have the argument you or Cyber give and that doesn’t, in my estimation thus far, provide a framework for real morality."

I'm going to wholesale reject your argument, and this is why:

Your argument boils down to asserting that some "really real" morality exists, and then claiming that all the morality that we develop as humans is somehow not really real and that unless it conforms to your assumption, then it's not right and therefore only your assumption is valid.

"It is steeped in meaningless proposals because it is asserting one way is better than another without any reference point of perfect good."

It's not meaningless simply because an absolute doesn't exist.

"All you are really left with is liking one thing better than another based on subjective feelings and thoughts."

And reason and empiricism.

"Even if you want to call it objective because it is a set of rules regardless of how developed it is still not binding in any way on a person."

That's what we actually see, sadly.

"One can say all day long it is better not to murder, but that doesn’t mean the next person has any real moral reason to follow that rule."

Well, they do, based on empiricism and reason. They may not follow it, and sadly people don't always follow it.

"What is your explanation for that?"

People don't always act rationally. I'll note that you don't have a good answer for it, so you might want to clean up your own house in this regard.

"Maybe we need to introduce another term if we can’t agree on the correct use of the word “objective”."

Or, maybe you should use it in the correct way.

"Origin matters a great deal. Did the rules of the game have objective origin or subjective origin?"

You are really confused now. You've said that card game rules can be objective, have you not? If that is the case, then you have to agree that even if I formulated the rules that they are objective to me as well as you. If the rules of a card game that I develop are subjective to me, does that mean they become objective to me if someone else writes them? The fact that I'm even having the write the clause "to me" means that you've reversed your stance that card game rules are objective, despite the erroneous rah-rahing from other commenters recently.

"I am maintaining that the existence of morals rules/laws/values/principals/ethics are reflections sometimes more accurate sometimes less accurate of the ideal of God’s perfect goodness."

Something that you have yet to fully explain or demonstrate. This is an appeal to absolutism, which you also deny. Also, what does "god's perfect goodness" mean?

Karla said...

GCT "Your argument boils down to asserting that some "really real" morality exists, and then claiming that all the morality that we develop as humans is somehow not really real and that unless it conforms to your assumption, then it's not right and therefore only your assumption is valid."

Not quiet. The essence of it is that a real good exists and that morality is an attempt on the part of humans to conform to what is right and we all fail to accurately do that. Some get closer to what is right than others, but that standard is not based on my assumptions but on something external to me and to you.

Further that good is rooted in the Being of God. I'm going to get into more explanation on that soon.

I just wrote a new post trying to rehash this discussion without using the words we keep getting hung up over "objective" "subjective" and "absolute" lets abandon them for now and see if we can get some clarity on what we are discussion.

I'm waiting for a comment from you on my last post before I continue to answer some of the questions others are asking me.

GCT said...

I thought of a good way to explain why the following statement of yours is wrong:

"BTW, degrees of perfection are meaningless without the existence of perfection."

Do you agree that we can imagine a perfectly round circle? We can develop a definition of a perfectly round circle - the locus of points that are equidistant from a single focal point.

Now, imagine that I draw two circles, circle A and circle B. If we measure the distance from the center of circle A to every point on the line that forms circle A, and then do the same with circle B, I think we can decide which one is more "circular." Are you with me so far?

In essence, what we have just done is established degrees of perfection, without the need of a perfect circle to measure against. In fact, we know of no perfect circles that exist in reality, and I doubt that you would say that a perfect circle does exist anywhere other than as an abstract idea in our minds (if you do hold that a perfect circle exists, then you also should hold that every shape has a corresponding perfect shape, as would everything else that we can judge, leading to an impossible absurdity of perfect things). IOW, we've just shown that we can have degrees of perfection without the existence of perfection.

"Not quiet. The essence of it is that a real good exists and that morality is an attempt on the part of humans to conform to what is right and we all fail to accurately do that. Some get closer to what is right than others, but that standard is not based on my assumptions but on something external to me and to you."

It's a circular argument without an evidentiary basis.

"I'm waiting for a comment from you on my last post before I continue to answer some of the questions others are asking me."

I'll look it over when I get a chance.

cl said...

I liked GCT's circle exercise, and my previous comments to Karla still stand. I think a large part of the problem between GCT and Karla here is semantic - 'degrees of perfection' is itself a paradoxical term - hence seems destined to confuse. As we can't go more north than the north pole, we can't go more perfect than perfect.