Monday, June 22, 2009

More On Morality

It is predominantly accepted that if something is true it is accurately corresponding to what actually is real. For example, if 1 + 1 = 2 is a true mathematical equation then we are accepting that if one thing is added to another thing the real result is that there is now two things.


This necessarily is not a truth we created, but a truth we discovered. People have assigned values to signs (numbers or letters) to explain that truth in a communicable form. Therefore, when a person sees the sign “1” we know it signifies the singular. Similarly, if a person sees the sign “I” it also signifies the singular in a Roman numeral fashion. However, regardless of the sign used, it has the value of representing what really is accurate. No one held a conference to decide if one object and a second object make two objects, it simply does. It is a reality, a truth.


To illustrate further, gravity is something real, it did not become real when we discovered it and gave it a name, it has been real. Man didn’t create or invent it. The real existed apart from our apprehension of that reality.


Therefore, when I use the term “really real” I am indicating that which is truly actual apart from our thinking about it. It exists or is true whether or not we know it or accept it.


To dig a little deeper, morality is either a reflection of what we think about the world and our humanity and does not correspond nor conform to any real good, or that which is really right morally is that which most accurately reflects the good.


If the former is true and there is no real good that morality corresponds to, then the only anchor for morality is that which we as humans devise. Those that agree with those morals remain free, and those who do not get punished by the system which enforces those ideals. So if humans devise that stealing is not an acceptable behavior then some form of punishment or retribution may be brought upon those who steal. But in the long run, the only wrong committed is that a person decided to do something outside of the cultural norm. Eventually a new cultural norm could be adopted and stealing made acceptable. This I think is similar to the argument given that slavery was acceptable and thus right and now not acceptable and wrong. Thus, morality changes over time or is different from one culture to the next. In this view, there is no good. Right and wrong are continually in flux based on whose perspective one is viewing the world for the oppressor and the oppressed see it very differently.


Now, in contrast to this view, there is the idea that morality is to be a reflection of what is truly good. Good exists, and what is right conforms to what is good. Something then is either really right or really wrong. We can do something that is wrong and not know it’s wrong, and it still be wrong. This view would say that if it is really good for mothers to love their children then it is good even if no one believes it to be so. If it is good for fathers to be kind to their children, then it is really good and right.


Moral principals, or laws themselves can be judged because they are to be reflections of what is right, and in them is not rightness itself. Thus if the government says that murder is wrong, their authority does not make it really true that murder is wrong. They could be incorrect and the law could be out of line with what is good, or it could be a reflection of what is really true and murder is indeed very much wrong. But there is a sense that we can judge if a moral is right or wrong, because there is an external good by which we judge. We might not be aware of this good, we might have a worldview that denies it, but we still think in conformity with the idea that we can reason about a moral that an entire culture upholds as right and we can contemplate whether it really seems right or not. There is something by which we judge it even if we haven’t understood it yet.


We use degrees of perfection all the time. Killing a child is worse than killing a fly. Or some would say we ought not to kill a fly either, especially if you are the President of the United States. Still to argue for either one needs a point of reference of what is the ideal good. One cannot argue that killing the fly is actually wrong, unless there is a standard of what is really good. Is it good for no living entity to be killed no matter the reason? Is that better than being killed? If it is truly better, then there is a standard that makes it better. One could say that standard is ourselves and what we want, but that only lends itself to a standard that is created by us by our feelings, desires, reason, but not something that is really real. That standard changes with each culture, generation, family, and person. It isn’t a constant good. It’s not a reflection of what really is, but what one wants, believes, or thinks. However, people believe and think things all the time that aren’t an accurate approximation of what is true.


So the two choices that I see on the table for those who accept the reality of humans living in relation to morality are that morals follow only from the human intellect and emotions and have no real correspondence with any real good or that morals are to reflect the real good and can do so in degrees of accuracy some being a bad or grossly distorted reflection and others being the best reflection available to us.


*******************************

I hope that has cleared up the discussion a little. If I have not accurately retold the perspective of morals existing without a perfect good, then please show me where I erred. Notice I did not use the term “objective” or “subjective” or “absolute” anywhere above in this post to be as plain as possible.

103 comments:

CyberKitten said...

So... You seem to be offering two alternatives:

The Platonic/Neo-Platonic Medieval view.... and the Cultural/Historical view.

How can we determine which one is correct?

Karla said...

I think before we talk more about how to evaluate the options, we would need to agree that these are pretty good representations of the two arguments. Are we agreed on this, or do we need to alter anything to be more accurate?

Also are there any other viable options on the table?

cl said...

Nice post. I've long argued that man is not the author of truth, but then again I don't think anyone really denies that, do they? Sorry if my response is long, but you got me thinking.

You said, "..if 1 + 1 = 2 is a true mathematical equation then we are accepting that if one thing is added to another thing the real result is that there is now two things." I agree, but there are implicit stipulations. For example, one drop of water added to another is still "one thing."

You said, "Therefore, when I use the term “really real” I am indicating that which is truly actual apart from our thinking about it. It exists or is true whether or not we know it or accept it." I agree that reality proceeds as described.

You said, "To dig a little deeper, morality is either a reflection of what we think about the world and our humanity and does not correspond nor conform to any real good, or that which is really right morally is that which most accurately reflects the good." I agree, and have at times envisioned what I would describe as a moral plane.

You said, "If the former is true and there is no real good that morality corresponds to, then the only anchor for morality is that which we as humans devise." Correct, and species-beneficence arguments constitute the bulk of what I see atheists offering. What's right becomes that which is best for the happy proliferation of the species. Enter overpopulation, and things start to change. If it's true that overpopulation is a real threat to the human race, it follows we should start killing people, reconsidering eugenics, and/or other measures.

When you get to the "morality reflects what's really good" part, I think you need to define good.

Would you agree that the paragraph beginning "Moral principles" is the beginning of your opinion?

While I agree with your overall point that morals either "follow only from the human intellect and emotions and have no real correspondence with any real good" or "reflect the real good." The "degrees" part of your argument wasn't as clear, and I think to fully flesh this out you need to discuss motive. Is murder still wrong if we kill someone who would've killed millions? That sort of thing.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: I've long argued that man is not the author of truth, but then again I don't think anyone really denies that, do they?

That would depend on what you mean by "the author of truth".

cl said: it follows we should start killing people..

*Start* killing people? When have we *stopped* killing people?

MS Quixote said...

Glad to see you're writing again, Karla. This was my first thought as well:

"When you get to the "morality reflects what's really good" part, I think you need to define good."

Karla said...

CL, and Quixote, I agree, I was purposely vague in the first post. Planning on a second. Actually in order to answer Cyber's question above, I will take it further. I'm just waiting for GCT and Cyber to confirm the first view I referenced is what they have been arguing for.

I notice Cyber mention Platonic/Neo-Plantonic Medieval view, and I realize where I stopped could be equated as such, but I do not plan to stop there. I haven't backed away from previous discussions of the origin of good.

And yes CL I take the later view that, there is a real good. We'll unpack that a little further shortly--just as soon as we have crossed the language barrier of such words as objectivity and subjectivity.

The purpose of this post was to lay out what we were talking about in the comments of the other post on value without using what has become between some of us ambiguous terminology, but plain language.

Karla said...

Quixote, thanks, I have been writing, just not on my blogspot. It's in my blood I think, I write constantly. I also write for Helium.com and am working on a book.

cl said...

Karla, noted. I'll definitely buy your book. When's it coming out? Who's publishing? Sorry to be nosy, but I'm a publisher so I just have to ask.

I know you probably are very busy, but I would love another believer's input on a particular argument Quixote and I have taken to refuting, should time allow and the heart compel.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I'm just waiting for GCT and Cyber to confirm the first view I referenced is what they have been arguing for.

I think you have the gist - although with your own 'spin' added.

Karla said...

Cl, I'm not that far with the book, it's still in the beginning stages. No publisher yet, I don't even know where to begin with that. Thinking about using Writers Edge at some point first.

I will check out your link.

Karla said...

Cyber, yeah I guess I did start analyzing it rather than just stating it. . . Still waiting for GCT to weigh in and then I'll back up to the above questions.

cl said...

Karla,

You and I could always talk about publishing, too. It's always an option. BTW, I responded to your initial comments regarding that other thing on my blog. Thank you!

Karla said...

cl, can you e-mail me regarding publishing?

cl said...

I'd be happy to, but I've tried to email you before at said address and it didn't work! I try again, sending a test in T minus three, two, one...

cl said...

Test email sent. Let me know what happens...

GCT said...

"To dig a little deeper, morality is either a reflection of what we think about the world and our humanity and does not correspond nor conform to any real good, or that which is really right morally is that which most accurately reflects the good."

This is a false dichotomy as I've repeatedly said, so no, I don't agree with your black/white either/or.

The rest of your post is what you've been saying repeatedly with no new information, nor any new way of representing it. You still are claiming that morals exist because some perfect standard exists (saying that the perfect standard for morals is god doesn't explain anything) without giving any evidence for it. Your assertions that we develop morals because god exists is simply assertion.

cl said...

Karla said, "To dig a little deeper, morality is either a reflection of what we think about the world and our humanity and does not correspond nor conform to any real good, or that which is really right morally is that which most accurately reflects the good."

Makes perfect sense to me, yet GCT claims such is a false dichotomy. If what GCT claims is true, the burden then falls on GCT to proffer another logically permissible scenario, and anyone can clearly see that he hasn't, hence GCT's accusation of false dichotomy remains unfounded.

Reiterating Karla's own beliefs to her, then denying their validity, doesn't amount to cogency.

Karla said...

GCT, if I falsified the discussion please proceed to propose a corrected version.

GCT said...

"GCT, if I falsified the discussion please proceed to propose a corrected version."

Again?

"To dig a little deeper, morality is either a reflection of what we think about the world and our humanity and does not correspond nor conform to any real good, or that which is really right morally is that which most accurately reflects the good."

You are still making the false dichotomy between absolute and subjective or relative morals. You've left out the classification of empirically derived objective morals...which is what I've been telling you for numerous threads with numerous comments. You can't simply continue to ignore this rather obvious counter-example to your either/or dichotomies.

Karla said...

Notice I did not use such terminology. Let's try again without the terminology and you can correct this without the terminology--speak plainly without using terms we can't agree upon.

Once again:

Are you not arguing that morality does not correspond to a good that is external to mankind?

Whereas I am positing that morality's existence is tied to an external good, namely God's nature.

GCT said...

"Notice I did not use such terminology."

A rose by any other name...

"Let's try again without the terminology and you can correct this without the terminology--speak plainly without using terms we can't agree upon."

It is speaking plainly to use the terms that refer to what we are discussing. It is not speaking plainly to conflate terms as you have been doing.

"Are you not arguing that morality does not correspond to a good that is external to mankind?"

Too many negatives in your sentence...

What I'm arguing is that your insistence that everything is either completely made up and therefore useless or comes from some absolute god is incorrect. I've already given arguments and demonstrations that show this to be incorrect. For instance, there could be absolutes that are not dependent on their being a god entity. We also have evolutionary behaviors (plus reason and logic) that are objective and meaningful to our existence, which you seem to want to gloss over.

"Whereas I am positing that morality's existence is tied to an external good, namely God's nature."

I'm fully aware of that, even though it still doesn't really explain anything or strictly make sense. How does one go from god's nature to a moral instruction to not kill someone else, for instance? If god's nature is absolute, does that not make morality absolute (yes, it would, if it made sense). And, since you are positing perfect morals, then we must be able to codify them into perfect (absolute) rules, meaning that you are arguing for absolute morality.

CyberKitten said...

Karla, why don't you just put your argument forward so we can start debating it?

Karla said...

I was just thinking the same thing Cyber. It seems you and I are agreed that the two options I gave are the "gist" of the two we have been discussing.

Your question was then "How can we determine which one is correct?"

By "correct", we are then saying which one most accurately lines up with what really is?

However, if there is no real absolute good or right, can there ever be a "real" external to our minds?

Can morals ever have real meaning if they originate in the human mind and do not correspond to an actual good?

GCT said...

Can I take it from your ignoring my comment that you want to remain willfully and obstinately ignorant and don't wish to deal with empirical fact?

Also, if you want to deal with the "really real" the best way to determine what is "really real" is through science (the only way, really). Scientifically we have found no "really real" god nor the "really real" morals that you think come from this god. Sure, it doesn't mean that he doesn't exist, but you're going to be hard pressed to provide evidence for your position that morals are "really real" entities that spring from a "really real" divine entity. IOW, your claims are dead in the water due to a lack of evidence.

Karla said...

GCT, you seem to now be affirming what I wrote that your argument is that morality is not based on an external good.

Karla said...

GCT "How does one go from god's nature to a moral instruction to not kill someone else, for instance?"

God has created life intrinsically valuable and does not give us license to unjustly take a life.

Notice I said "unjustly" not all killing is murder.

GCT said...

"GCT, you seem to now be affirming what I wrote that your argument is that morality is not based on an external good."

External to what or whom? Our evolutionary heritage is certainly external to us, as is reason and logic, as they are derived from the real world.

"God has created life intrinsically valuable and does not give us license to unjustly take a life."

Sorry, but this is a non-sequitor. You aren't speaking of god's nature, you are speaking of god's actions and commands to us. And, what do you mean by "unjustly take a life?" Is that open to bias and interpretation?

CyberKitten said...

karla said: It seems you and I are agreed that the two options I gave are the "gist" of the two we have been discussing.

That *we* have been discussing yes - but not the idea presented by GCT. We also shouldn't make the mistake that our viewpoints (and that's all they are) are the *only* viewpoints that exist.

karla said: By "correct", we are then saying which one most accurately lines up with what really is?

The one's that reflect things are they really are... Pretty much, yes. Either morality exists external to mankind or they do not. You contend that they do, I contend that they do not.

karla said: However, if there is no real absolute good or right, can there ever be a "real" external to our minds?

What do you mean by "real" in this context? Our morality is real in that it exists. If it didn't exist we couldn't debate it - it just happens to exist in our heads and in the heads of billions of other people. That doesn't make it any less real in the context of what we're talking about - its just that we can't hold it in our hands.

karla said: Can morals ever have real meaning if they originate in the human mind and do not correspond to an actual good?

Of course morals have real meaning! Even if they only exist in our heads.... People die and kill for their beliefs. It doesn't get more meaningful that that very often. Just because something doesn't exist external to ourselves doesn't mean that it have no meaning - and just because something has no meaning (like our existence) doesn't mean it has no value.

karla said: God has created life intrinsically valuable and does not give us license to unjustly take a life.

Life is valuable because the alternative is death. In a dead universe all life is of high value.

Karla said...

GCT "External to what or whom? Our evolutionary heritage is certainly external to us, as is reason and logic, as they are derived from the real world."

External to the natural world. "Evolutionary heritage" would be within the system and therefore not able to judge itself. Evolution is not a being or an entity that has a Mind to give us reason, logic, or morality. How can the non-rational produce a rational mind? How can a non-mind, produce a mind? How can an amoral process produce morality?



GCT "Sorry, but this is a non-sequitor. You aren't speaking of god's nature, you are speaking of god's actions and commands to us."

His actions and His word flow from His nature.

GCT "And, what do you mean by "unjustly take a life?" Is that open to bias and interpretation?"

Yes, it is open to bias and interpretation. We won't always get it right. As I've said our ability to apprehend what is right is not nearly 100% we will make mistakes and we will do what we think wrong and justify it because we want to do that wrong thing.

We aren't meant to figure out what is right and good all by ourselves. We are given enough knowledge to know there is a good that we fall short of, but in order to stop falling short of it we need to personally know the source of good.

Karla said...

Cyber "That *we* have been discussing yes - but not the idea presented by GCT. We also shouldn't make the mistake that our viewpoints (and that's all they are) are the *only* viewpoints that exist."

There are other views about morality, ours are certainly not the only ones. I am still trying to understand where GCT is different from your position.

Cyber "What do you mean by "real" in this context? Our morality is real in that it exists. If it didn't exist we couldn't debate it."

I think it's really origin or the source of it that we take opposing views on. We both agree that humans operate within a moral structure, but how did we get it? Which origin (human) or (God) makes more sense of it?


Cyber "Life is valuable because the alternative is death."

I get that when you are talking about yourself, you want to live. But someone else could come along and say that your life infringes upon theirs and thus it would be better for their survival if you didn't. Either all life is valuable regardless of society giving life value, or none of it has any real value, only what we give it. If a person becomes invaluable to society what protects them?

GCT said...

"External to the natural world."

I've never agreed to that. But, I also don't agree that the only alternative is what you've stated, and I've backed it up.

""Evolutionary heritage" would be within the system and therefore not able to judge itself. Evolution is not a being or an entity that has a Mind to give us reason, logic, or morality."

These are objective things, however. And, you seem to be stuck on this idea that morality has to be given to us. That is not evidenced. You need to actually present arguments with logic and reason and evidence to convince us that this is the case, instead of simply repeating it over and over.

"How can the non-rational produce a rational mind?"

Through evolution. Our brains have evolved to the point where we can reason through ever increasing ability to use higher cognitive functions, in response to selective stimuli.

"How can a non-mind, produce a mind?"

How can a non-car produce a car...yet we do it all the time. Processes can have outcomes that are different from the process. How can gravity produce a squashed tomato? Yet, if you drop the tomato it can squash due to the actions of gravity (or if it falls off the vine, just to take the human element out).

"How can an amoral process produce morality?"

See above. Also, morality is tied into our observances of nature. It's just like logic or reason in one sense in that it's based upon empirical study.

"His actions and His word flow from His nature."

You are still talking about his actions and commands, however. It also occurs to me that you are talking about god's subjective pronouncements on the value of life.

"Yes, it is open to bias and interpretation."

Then, by your own definition, you are speaking of subjective morals now. And, using your own argument, I guess we can say that we aren't held to them, because they are subjective.

"We aren't meant to figure out what is right and good all by ourselves."

Yet, won't we be judged on that criteria? How nice.

"We are given enough knowledge to know there is a good that we fall short of, but in order to stop falling short of it we need to personally know the source of good."

How does knowing the "source of good" somehow tell us what good actions we should take?

You seem to be very confused about this topic...still. You wish to attribute goodness to god's nature, simply because you think it avoid Euthyphro's dilemma, but it doesn't and is non-sensical to boot. We don't know what is moral or not simply by knowing that a god exists or believing in god or what-have-you. We know what is moral or not by having codified moral dictums/rules/etc. Simply having god show up and say, "Hi," to me doesn't tell me that murder is wrong.

GCT said...

"Which origin (human) or (God) makes more sense of it?"

Given that, the choice is easy...human.

What god do you have evidence for to say that this god gave us morality? What fact can not be explained in a more parsimonious way through natural means? Etc. etc. etc.

"Either all life is valuable regardless of society giving life value, or none of it has any real value, only what we give it."

I've objected to this before and I'll do so again. Human value is not equal to no value. To think in this fashion is to submit to the most vile of religious teachings.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Evolution is not a being or an entity that has a Mind to give us reason, logic, or morality.

Correct. Evolution is a completely blind process with no direction, no plan and no end point.

karla said: How can the non-rational produce a rational mind?

It didn't. Firstly it would be wrong calling evolution non-rational - unless you also generally refer to the wind or rivers as non-rational too... which I guess you don't. What I think you mean when you say non-rational is not directed or not conscious. Evolution, as I've said before, is a non-directed non-directional process caused by the environment selecting genes that give their owners any advantage over others without those genes.

As to the production of a rational mind... If only! We certainly seem *capable* of rational thought, but I doubt if there is even one person alive today who thinks 100% rationally 100% of the time. There are probably those who are barely rational though and just about every percentage in between. The average is probably in the 40-60% bracket I guess.

karla said: How can a non-mind, produce a mind?

By a very long trial and a lot of errors along the way. Think that it's taken evolution the best part of 4 *Billion* years to produce us. Minds are not exactly easy to produce going by those figures!

karla said: How can an amoral process produce morality?

Evolution is only amoral in the same way that other natural processes are amoral. Evolution managed (only fairly recently) to produce creatures that are capable of making moral decisions. It appears on the face of it that very few creatures can do this. Its not like it happened over night - or in 6 days....

karla said: Which origin (human) or (God) makes more sense of it?

Human - obviously.

karla said: But someone else could come along and say that your life infringes upon theirs and thus it would be better for their survival if you didn't.

Then they'd have a fight on their hands wouldn't they.... [grin]

karla said: Either all life is valuable regardless of society giving life value, or none of it has any real value, only what we give it.

Value only exists because we give things value. Imagine the value of gold if people did not exist... How would it have *any* value?

karla said: If a person becomes invaluable to society what protects them?

No one is invaluable. No matter what we do people still die. We cannot protect them against death. When valuable people die they are replaced by others.

GCT said...

CK:
"Evolution managed (only fairly recently) to produce creatures that are capable of making moral decisions. It appears on the face of it that very few creatures can do this."

I'm going to take issue with this. Many other animals exhibit moral behavior. Perhaps you are only speaking of the "choice" to be moral or not, which is debatable, but if you mean to imply that humans are pretty special in exhibiting moral behaviors, then that's very incorrect. If that's not what you meant, my apologies.

CyberKitten said...

GCT said: if you mean to imply that humans are pretty special in exhibiting moral behaviors, then that's very incorrect. If that's not what you meant, my apologies.

It's certainly not only humans - not even close. Other Primates undertake what can be viewed as moral behaviour as do the Cetaceans. Moral behaviour appears to have a distinct evolutionary heritage & advantage. We didn't suddenly develop it and it isn't unique to us.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding..

GCT said...

It does, thanks. Sorry for misunderstanding.

CyberKitten said...

Not a problem.

cl said...

[/lurk]

Karla: To CK, you said, "It seems you and I are agreed that the two options I gave are the "gist" of the two we have been discussing."

Count me in that set of people, too. Here's what this looks like from someone not involved in the discussion:

Karla's original statement as expressed in the OP was not a false dichotomy: "To dig a little deeper, morality is either a reflection of what we think about the world and our humanity and does not correspond nor conform to any real good, or that which is really right morally is that which most accurately reflects the good."

All this means is that morality either A) reflects something real (objective), or B) reflects prevailing human opinion (subjective). GCT called this statement a false dichotomy June 24, 2009 4:33 AM, yet offered no counter-argument until asked, finally proffering "empirically derived objective morals." By GCT's own definition, these would fall under category A as just described, and do not sustain his charge of false dichotomy. GCT would have a case if in the OP Karla said morality either reflects human opinion or comes from God. She didn't, at least not in the OP.

Still, June 25, 2009 7:30 AM, GCT then tells Karla, "..your insistence that everything is either completely made up and therefore useless or comes from some absolute god is incorrect," yet Karla's statement does not permit that inference and a search of the original post yields zero instances of the word 'god.' Taking this post at face value, all Karla's said is what's obvious to most people: Morality is either made-up, or reflects something real. It looks to me like GCT takes issue with Karla's beliefs as he knows she holds them outside this discussion - because in the OP - she's not argued that morality came from God.

Karla senses GCT's apparent contradiction June 25, 2009 11:52 AM, then poses an interesting question to CK June 26, 2009 7:32 AM: "I get that when you are talking about yourself, you want to live. But someone else could come along and say that your life infringes upon theirs and thus it would be better for their survival if you didn't." Under atheism, what recourse besides appeal to the common good exists?

I happen to agree with GCT that attributing morality to God does not solve Euthyphro's Dilemma, but in this post Karla didn't attribute morality to God and if GCT still claims Karla argues from false dichotomy, the burden is on GCT to proffer a morality that is neither objective nor subjective, as only a morality of that nature can sustain GCT's false dichotomy charge. Categorically, GCT's "empirically derived objective morals" are the same thing as Karla's "real good that morality corresponds to."

[lurk]

Karla said...

Good comment CL. While it is known I will take the argument all the way to God. We need to start at one level and work our way up the premises.

GCT said...

"Good comment CL. While it is known I will take the argument all the way to God. We need to start at one level and work our way up the premises."

Karla, this argument is not being held in a vacuum and it's rather disingenuous to hold to one set of definitions and then change them later. You and I both know what you are talking about, and pretending that you are speaking about something different because you incorrectly suppose that cl has given you an out is rather disappointing.

That said, cl's arguments still don't add up. You have, both of you in fact, once again conflated absolute with objective. You are, in effect, claiming that either absolute morality exists or all morality is subjective. This is a false dichotomy whether you want to admit to it or not. And, I categorically reject your statement accordingly. I've already given you counter-examples in many other threads, even if cl claims to not have seen them, and I also find your willingness to hide behind his skirts on that issue to be disappointing.

Karla said...

GTC, my intention is not to hide a part of my argument, I am simply stepping back to help lead you or anyone who wishes to follow my train of thought step by step to my conclusion.

Can you put into the back of your head the reality that I will bring the discussion back to God and just deal with the argument presented at this point and discuss the premises given.

If I go ahead and write the second post on the topic taking it to God the discussion will focus on that and ignore the ground work.

Secondly I did not use the terms objective, subjective, or absolute. So please remove the terms and use other words to describe your position if it is different from what I articulated.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: While it is known I will take the argument all the way to God. We need to start at one level and work our way up the premises.

But you already know your conclusion.... and we already know your conclusion. You have yet to convince either myself or GCT of any part of it.

I think that you need to change your approach because as far as I can see you're making no headway at all.

cl said...

GCT says, "You are, in effect, claiming that either absolute morality exists or all morality is subjective. This is a false dichotomy whether you want to admit to it or not."

Yet curiously - at least in this thread - GCT has not provided anything other than "empirically derived objective morals," which fall under the objective category. If GCT could provide an example of morality that is neither subjective nor objective, I may even agree with him. As it is, he contradicts himself while confirming our points in contempt.

Cyber,

I knew Karla's conclusion, too. I think her strategy is to proceed by agreement until it can be determined exactly where you all disagree. Where she's started seems fine to me - morality either reflects something real, or it's something we made up. If we say something "real," that includes God, or any other sort of "objective" morality. I don't see why that's so hard for GCT to accept. Can you think of a morality that is neither objective nor subjective, but something else?

CyberKitten said...

cl said: I think her strategy is to proceed by agreement until it can be determined exactly where you all disagree.

Actually I disagree with her original premise - the existence of God. As virtually everything Karla says originates with this belief I find myself disagreeing with pretty much everything she says.

GCT said...

"GTC, my intention is not to hide a part of my argument, I am simply stepping back to help lead you or anyone who wishes to follow my train of thought step by step to my conclusion."

Then why the obfuscation?

"Can you put into the back of your head the reality that I will bring the discussion back to God and just deal with the argument presented at this point and discuss the premises given."

That you will talk about god is not something I doubt.

"Secondly I did not use the terms objective, subjective, or absolute. So please remove the terms and use other words to describe your position if it is different from what I articulated."

So, don't use the terms that accurately describe what is being discussed? How absurd. Never the less, your original statement was:

"To dig a little deeper, morality is either a reflection of what we think about the world and our humanity and does not correspond nor conform to any real good, or that which is really right morally is that which most accurately reflects the good."

I disagree with many things in this statement. Morality is a reflection of what we think about and also does conform to externalities that are "really real." It is not an either/or question (what is so hard to figure out about that, since I've said it at least a dozen times now in this thread and others?)

But, if I agree that morality comes from us, you will simply decry that no one is held to it and it's not based on anything, so it is meaningless. If I agree with the second prong, then you will claim that since "good" exists, then morality is something that must come from an entity, by definition. Problem is that it's also possible (I say again, even though some claim that I have not made arguments of this kind) that "the good" may not exist, yet morality may be entirely true in all situations or at least true in a stance outside of any personal bias or interpretation (are you happy now, since I'm being careful not to use the words you have banned from the discussion and instead am saying the exact same thing, only with more words and in more confusing language?)

Karla said...

GCT "(are you happy now, since I'm being careful not to use the words you have banned from the discussion and instead am saying the exact same thing, only with more words and in more confusing language?)"

I'm really not out to give you a hard time, I just really wanted to know what your full take on it was. I expect you want counter responses, but you want them to progress the conversation. I'm sorry that I often fail to do so.

At this point I am both learning your and Cyber's position as well as thinking on CL's comments. The conversations on this blog have been the most in depth I have ever thought on this topic and I enjoy the challenge to think through all of your objections, questions, challenges, etc. Not because I want to argue with you, but because I value knowledge and truth and I don't want to take what I believe to be true for granted. If I cannot communicate it meaningfully I must work at that and you guys talking to me patiently gives me that opportunity.

I'll try and get back to the other comments I have not yet addressed soon.

cl said...

CK said, "Actually I disagree with her original premise - the existence of God. As virtually everything Karla says originates with this belief I find myself disagreeing with pretty much everything she says."

I understand that. I think she's attempting to figure out exactly where. You didn't just wake up one day not believing, there were reasons, and that's what I believe Karla's trying to get at. If we proceed by agreement, it's much easier to isolate that which causes disagreement. We can say, "Well, I accept A and B, but don't believe they lead to C," or something similar. I get the feeling that Karla's aiming for clarity and understanding here. I don't get the feeling she's trying to convert either of you - at least from this post.

GCT said, "I disagree with many things in this statement. Morality is a reflection of what we think about and also does conform to externalities that are "really real." It is not an either/or question (what is so hard to figure out about that, since I've said it at least a dozen times now in this thread and others?)"

Where I have trouble following you is when you claimed "false dichotomy" then offered "empirically derived objective morals," which is clearly in the "objective" category. To continue, you say,

"Problem is that it's also possible that "the good" may not exist, yet morality may be entirely true in all situations or at least true in a stance outside of any personal bias or interpretation"

If morality is true in all situations and/or outside of personal bias or interpretation, isn't morality then objective? Isn't that the textbook definition of objective truth? Like you, I think we should stick to the words that best describe the concepts.

Help me understand where you're coming from.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: You didn't just wake up one day not believing, there were reasons, and that's what I believe Karla's trying to get at.

*I* certainly didn't "just wake up one day not believing". I'm one of the lucky one's who has never belived in God. For that I will be ever thankful to my parents and particularly my Grandmother. In different circumstances I'd either be a Catholic or have gone through the pains of losing my belief. I understand that the withdrawl symptoms are quite something.... and not in a good way!

cl said: We can say, "Well, I accept A and B, but don't believe they lead to C," or something similar.

It would be interesting to see if we have *any* common ground.... [grin]

cl said: I don't get the feeling she's trying to convert either of you - at least from this post.

I think she's more likely to win the lottery actually.... [rotflmao]

GCT said...

Karla,
"I'm really not out to give you a hard time, I just really wanted to know what your full take on it was. I expect you want counter responses, but you want them to progress the conversation."

I expect that you will at some point understand what I am saying, yes.

What you are trying to propose here is that there's only one of two routes:

1. That morality is purely subjective - that it's wholly made up by man and has no relation to any sort of external good, it's just what some people prefer and then impose on others.
2. The morality is absolute - that what is moral is always moral in all cultures and all civilizations (murder is always wrong, rape is always wrong, slavery is always wrong) and further that this is because there is some externality called "good" (or "god") that one is trying to emulate by following moral rules.

These are really the two extremes of the morality question, where I find myself somewhere in the middle. The reason that it's a false dichotomy is because of the fact that I can see different permutations of the conditions that you seem to be placing on.

For instance, there might be some entity that is "good" that is evolving, meaning that morals would be shifting over time in order to align with this good.

There may not be an entity that is "good," and morality could still be absolute.

Or, morality can be made up by humans and be somewhere on the continuum of preference to corresponding to empirical reality, which is quite distinct from having some external "good" entity.

Morality is a much more intricate and convoluted problem than the treatment it's receiving here.

Karla said...

GCT “These are really the two extremes of the morality question, where I find myself somewhere in the middle. The reason that it's a false dichotomy is because of the fact that I can see different permutations of the conditions that you seem to be placing on.”

Yes, these two ideas by no means represent the totality of views out there. I was trying to recreate only the views we hold and discuss those. Cyber and you do have differences in what you think about morality and I’m still trying to understand yours. From what you have said here, maybe you are still undecided?


GCT “For instance, there might be some entity that is "good" that is evolving, meaning that morals would be shifting over time in order to align with this good.”

Okay, we would still need to examine where this “good” comes from in this scenario.

GCT “There may not be an entity that is "good," and morality could still be absolute.”

This is a position I don’t see how you could defend, but I am interested in knowing how you think that would work?

GCT “Or, morality can be made up by humans and be somewhere on the continuum of preference to corresponding to empirical reality, which is quite distinct from having some external "good" entity.”

This last option seems to be what Cyber is arguing for in a sense. I thought this is where you were too, is it?

GCT “Morality is a much more intricate and convoluted problem than the treatment it's receiving here.”

Yes, we could go much broader and more detailed, and I’d be willing to go there but I would have some studying to do. I am not much familiar with other arguments in this field other than the ones we have already had on the table. I’m sure we could examine multiple naturalist theories and then there are still multiple religious theories if we got into eastern mysticism.

Karla said...

Cyber we have commonality in that we agree humans operate in a moral system.

Our point of contention is how that system is derived.

Is it a reflection of measuring up to a real good?

Or is it contrived by human experience, autonomous reason, and other natural phenomena?

I take the former and you the latter and I think GCT is somewhere in a version of the latter.

GCT said...

"Yes, these two ideas by no means represent the totality of views out there. I was trying to recreate only the views we hold and discuss those."

That was not at all clear from what you wrote.

"From what you have said here, maybe you are still undecided?"

I am to some extent. Some things are evidenced and known, while others are still up in the air.

"Okay, we would still need to examine where this “good” comes from in this scenario."

If it comes from anywhere. It could simply be an emergent property of the universe or it could be something that simply exists. The point was to show that there are more options than the two given.

"This is a position I don’t see how you could defend, but I am interested in knowing how you think that would work?"

Absolute morality need not contain some sort of Platonic idea of "good." It could be like a discovered law of how the universe works. Absolute morality does not necessarily indicate some god figure exists.

"This last option seems to be what Cyber is arguing for in a sense. I thought this is where you were too, is it?"

I'm on the scale somewhere to an extent, in that I think that some of our "made up" morals are really not made up at all, but products of our evolutionary heritage. Like I said, it's complicated - more complicated than one can simply boil down to a single sentence.

"Yes, we could go much broader and more detailed, and I’d be willing to go there but I would have some studying to do. I am not much familiar with other arguments in this field other than the ones we have already had on the table."

Then I suggest that you present your own idea of morality and try to defend it, instead of worrying about all the other options out there. Either that, or you go and do the study and figure out which one really makes more sense and why. Actually, I recommend the second option.

"I’m sure we could examine multiple naturalist theories and then there are still multiple religious theories if we got into eastern mysticism."

We don't even have to go that far. There are multiple ideas within single religions, even Xianity.

Karla said...

GCT, when I said in my post "the two ideas on the table" I meant the two we have been discussing on this blog, not the only two existing in the world.

If you and Cyber are arguing for A or a form thereof and I am arguing for B, is it really necessary to consider C, D, E, F unless one of us really see those as something we think viable? If you thought C, D, E, and F equally viable, wanted to articulate those arguments and broaden the discussion, that is fine, but so far no one has alleged any of the other thoughts about it out there in this world.

Also, I have given my view and am attempting it's defense and I am learning in the process about what you guys assert and where that requires a greater detail of defense from me. Again, none of this is to win an argument, we may be just as on polar opposites as when we started, but my aim is to understand the position of naturalist better and to understand my own view deeper than I do.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Cyber we have commonality in that we agree humans operate in a moral system.

That's a bit like saying humans breath or eat food. Apart from sociopaths all humans have moral systems because all humans are part of human culture. It is their culture that supplies them with their morality.

oh... and it does continue to amuse me how you contrast 'real' (valuable) with 'contrived' (worthless).

GCT said...

"GCT, when I said in my post "the two ideas on the table" I meant the two we have been discussing on this blog, not the only two existing in the world."

And, like I said, that was not at all clear from what you wrote. Further, considering that you still have not represented my view, I feel even more secure in my objections.

"If you and Cyber are arguing for A or a form thereof and I am arguing for B, is it really necessary to consider C, D, E, F unless one of us really see those as something we think viable?"

We don't have to argue for them unless you set up a false dichotomy. You can't very well argue against A and then claim that B is correct because A is incorrect without also dealing with C-F.

Karla said...

GCT, your view was not represented because only Cyber had articulated a clear view. I think you are somewhere in Cyber's camp, but yet different and I am still trying to ascertain what you do believe about it all.

I'm cool with discussing the various possibilities provided that at least someone here thinks the possibility viable.

GCT said...

"GCT, your view was not represented because only Cyber had articulated a clear view."

I've been presenting my view. You simply don't accept it because it goes against your pre-conceptions, which are based on false dichotomies. So, why write what you wrote, that only the 2 options exist?

"I think you are somewhere in Cyber's camp, but yet different and I am still trying to ascertain what you do believe about it all."

I'm somewhere in between the two of you.

"I'm cool with discussing the various possibilities provided that at least someone here thinks the possibility viable."

When you present only 2 options, then it's entirely appropriate to point out that other options exist. This is especially true to head you off at the pass and not allow you to claim that your idea must be true if you can show that CK's is not. Of course, you've gotten no where close to doing that, and you've yet to support your ideas.

Karla said...

To clarify once more, there aren't only two ideas. I thought only two were being presented in this forum. Those were what I was addressing.

However, I think there are two generalities (ie subjective versus objective that the variety of ideas fall within)

CL asked a good question about if you had a proposition of a third category of something that was neither subjective nor objective?

GCT said...

"However, I think there are two generalities (ie subjective versus objective that the variety of ideas fall within)

CL asked a good question about if you had a proposition of a third category of something that was neither subjective nor objective?"

I would separate "absolute" from the mix as well. I'll also note that cl was ignoring a large part of what you wrote in an attempt to make my argument look absurd. One might be able to argue that subjective vs. objective is a true dichotomy, and I'm not sure if that's so or not (I already think we should have absolute as its own category, although one can claim that absolute is a subset of objective). That said, I was objecting to the totality of what you said, not that one small part. I also object to how you define subjective and objective.

Karla said...

Is there a part you do agree with in what I have said? If so could you tell me?

Also, I can see absolute as a subset of objective and that arguing for objective is not always arguing for absolute. So we are agreed there.

GCT said...

I don't know if there's anything that I agree with you on, because I disagree with your whole entire approach. You start with the assumption of god as well as a host of other assumptions, and then shoehorn everything around your assumptions. I start with no assumptions and let the facts speak for themselves. The methods lead to completely different conclusions.

Karla said...

Either way we start with presuppositions. You can say you are starting from nothing, but nothing isn't proven either. So if you start with God or without God it is still a staring place of a presupposition.

We can start with morality exists, but even then we can't say that it exists independently or dependently without going beyond that back to our presuppositions.

GCT said...

"Either way we start with presuppositions."

Care to name some of mine?

"You can say you are starting from nothing, but nothing isn't proven either. So if you start with God or without God it is still a staring place of a presupposition."

No, it is not. You are putting forth an assumption that god exists, etc. I'm not using that assumption. It is not the same as putting forth my own competing assumption.

Let's say, for instance, that you assume that person X can do Y, and you base an argument off of it. If I don't assume that person X can do Y, have I assumed that person X can not do Y? No, I haven't. I simply haven't presupposed that Y is part of the ability set of person X.

To make it more concrete, let's say that we are trying to set up some sort of sting operation. You say that we'll put agent Jane Doe on the listening post because you simply assume that she can speak all the languages that she'll be party to from the persons being surveiled. I object saying that we can't simply make that assumption, as we don't know what languages will be spoken or what languages Jane can speak. Now, have I claimed that Jane will not be able to understand what is said, or have I simply not accepted the assumption you made?

"We can start with morality exists..."

Of course it does, as is demonstrated by the fact that we are talking about it.

"...but even then we can't say that it exists independently or dependently without going beyond that back to our presuppositions."

Incorrect. I do not need to rely on presuppositions to note that you are making an assertion to a specific kind of morality that you are unable to evidence. Further, I can use the evidence of the world around us (reality) to come to conclusions without making any assumptions ahead of time.

Karla said...

GCT "Further, I can use the evidence of the world around us (reality) to come to conclusions without making any assumptions ahead of time."

Not to frustrate you, but aren't you assuming the world around us is reality. . . Would that not be a presupposition?

GCT said...

"Not to frustrate you, but aren't you assuming the world around us is reality. . . Would that not be a presupposition?"

No. But, even if it were, you would be suffering from the same presupposition.

Karla said...

You are not assuming the world around us is reality? How so?

GCT said...

No, not at all. How is that an assumption? It's what fits best with the evidence, i.e. a conclusion. And, again, even if it were an assumption, you'd hold the same assumption, so it's not a discriminator.

cl said...

GCT said, "For instance, there might be some entity that is "good" that is evolving, meaning that morals would be shifting over time in order to align with this good." Correct, but this still constitutes objective morality, meaning that it would "reflect something real" as Karla puts it. Morality is either made-up, or reflects something real - and if it does reflect something real - that doesn't mean people still can't make their own moralities up.

GCT said, "The point was to show that there are more options than the two given." Correct. I still submit that there are not more than two options between morality being either made-up or reflecting something real.

GCT said, "Absolute morality does not necessarily indicate some god figure exists." Although I'm not an atheist, I agree. The way I've always viewed it is that something like a "moral plane" could exist and such neither precludes nor entails God.

GCT told Karla, "..cl was ignoring a large part of what you wrote in an attempt to make my argument look absurd," yet as we can see above, that's not the case. All I'm saying is this: when Karla says morality is either made-up or reflects something real, I can't see any other "in-between" option, and that's why I asked. It has nothing to do with GCT personally.

OTOH, when GCT claims to not presuppose or assume anything in his methodology, now that is an argument that deserves to be shown as absurd.

Cyber,

You said, "It would be interesting to see if we have *any* common ground...." Don't be so quick to judge. Provided the views you've stated here are actually those you hold, I am absolutely certain we have significant common ground.

Karla,

I agree with you that GCT's arguments also require presuppositions and assumptions. Ironically, his rebuttal to your charge of presupposition was presupposition that what best fits the evidence is the best answer, when that's not always the case by any means.

Karla said...

Your right cl, while there are many theories of morality each would have to fall into the one of the two categories: either we make it up (even if we make it up based on good reason, logic, science, evolution, you name it) or it reflects something real and unmade.

The difficulty is that we can cite plenty of examples of people who have made up rules and laws and called them right. But there are just as many examples of people who come along and say those laws aren't right and give reasons for them. So either both are equally valid and equally entitled to their moral propositions or it is possible for something to be more right than another thing because their is a higher standard that is really real and not a product of human invention.

cl said...

Makes sense to me. Where I'm willing to agree with GCT - and where I believe you'd be willing to agree with him too - is that there are more options that "made-up" and "from God," right?

In other words, "reflects something real" doesn't necessarily mean "from God" right? If yes, then you also agree with GCT in that regard, it seems.

Karla said...

Cyber, yeah I didn't say "from God" I said either its either made up or a reflection of something real.

People are going to fall into one or the other camp. My camp is the later, and yes I take it all the way to God. But people can be in that camp who don't, but they would need to support what that real is in that case.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: Don't be so quick to judge. Provided the views you've stated here are actually those you hold, I am absolutely certain we have significant common ground.

I'm interested to hear what you think that is.....

cl said...

Cyber said, "I'm interested to hear what you think that is....."

Well... you value science, knowledge and empiricism, correct?

CyberKitten said...

cl said: Well... you value science, knowledge and empiricism, correct?

Erm... Yes.

GCT said...

"Your right cl, while there are many theories of morality each would have to fall into the one of the two categories: either we make it up (even if we make it up based on good reason, logic, science, evolution, you name it) or it reflects something real and unmade."

Again, and I repeat myself, that is not what you argued. You made an argument that entailed some extra positions.

"The difficulty is that we can cite plenty of examples of people who have made up rules and laws and called them right. But there are just as many examples of people who come along and say those laws aren't right and give reasons for them. So either both are equally valid and equally entitled to their moral propositions or it is possible for something to be more right than another thing because their is a higher standard that is really real and not a product of human invention."

And, if that "good" entity were evolving, then both cases would have come from something external, both would be equally valid given their time stamps, etc. IOW, you are still deficient in your argument.

Karla said...

GCT, can you at least move on from here that this is what I am arguing even if you think I did a poor job of it the first time?

And with that said, do you agree or disagree with what I am currently saying.

Karla said...

Also, GCT, if there was a "good" that was evolving, it wouldn't be perfect if it needs to get better and thus not self-existent and therefore not supportable logically.

GCT said...

"GCT, can you at least move on from here that this is what I am arguing even if you think I did a poor job of it the first time?"

As long as you stop agreeing with cl that I'm somehow in error here.

"And with that said, do you agree or disagree with what I am currently saying."

I'm not sure what your new argument is.

"Also, GCT, if there was a "good" that was evolving, it wouldn't be perfect if it needs to get better and thus not self-existent and therefore not supportable logically."

A) Who said anything about it being perfect? (When I raised an issue close to this before, you jumped on me for talking about god before you had...but now you are talking about perfection?)
B) Evolution is not the same as "get better."
C) I don't see why it isn't supported logically. You are only arguing that because you hold the unsupported assumption of perfection being necessary. It is not.

Karla said...

GCT, Lets try again.

We've been discussing two or three positions regarding morality. The following are really simply summaries of these arguments. (****These are not a totality of arguments people make in the world on this topic, just addressing the ones given primarily between GCT, Cyber, and I and maybe CL. *****)

1) that morality is a product of human reason, feeling, evolution, etc. And does not correspond to a good external to human life.

2) that morality does involve our reason and intuition, but that is because there is a good external to human life that gives meaning to the war between good and evil


3) Is your argument which seems to fall in the category of #1 but be different and yet I cannot summarize it at this point because I don't fully understand where you digress from argument one.


CL has raised a good question as to if there different category of something that is neither subjective nor objective? That question is still on the table.

GCT said...

Are you arguing that Cyber's view is number 1, your view is number 2, and mine is somewhere in number 1 but slightly different?

"CL has raised a good question as to if there different category of something that is neither subjective nor objective? That question is still on the table."

Already answered back on July 6.

Karla said...

GCT July 6th answer "One might be able to argue that subjective vs. objective is a true dichotomy, and I'm not sure if that's so or not (I already think we should have absolute as its own category, although one can claim that absolute is a subset of objective)."

I agree that objective is not necessarily the same as absolute. I thought you were in the past using the two words interchangeably.

And yes, I think Cyber has said she is view #1 and I am in view #2, just not sure about what position you are advocating.

CyberKitten said...

I would agree with postion #1.

Also that morality can be traced back in time in all cultures and has, therefore, an understanable geneology - in other words we know where it came from (at least until we hit the barrier where we run out of historical record).

GCT said...

"I agree that objective is not necessarily the same as absolute. I thought you were in the past using the two words interchangeably."

Are we in bizarro world here? I've been chiding you repeatedly for conflating the two words, and now you wish to claim that I've been using them interchangeably?

"And yes, I think Cyber has said she is view #1 and I am in view #2, just not sure about what position you are advocating."

It depends on what you mean by certain words. What do you mean by, "And does not correspond to a good external to human life?" What do you mean by, "a good external to human life," or, "the war between good and evil?"

Karla said...

GCT, I believe I had argued that I was not using them interchangeably and you claimed I was. It was after repeated attempts to explain that I was not, that I wrote a post not using any of the terms.

Something can be objective (external to man) that is not absolute (using the definition as always being the same--a constant)


GCT "It depends on what you mean by certain words. What do you mean by, "And does not correspond to a good external to human life?"

Something other than created by the minds of man. Something outside of us, beyond us.

GCT "What do you mean by, "a good external to human life,"

Same as above.

GCT "or, "the war between good and evil?"

The struggle between doing what is right and doing what is wrong. History shows a battle between the two corporately and individually.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: The struggle between doing what is right and doing what is wrong. History shows a battle between the two corporately and individually.

Only from a Manichian point of view. I certainly do not see a war between Good & Evil going on throughout world history. What I see is the unfolding of events - some of which are related, some of which are not. I see different people and nations with different goals and objectives, I see changes in the means of production and a gradual increase in knowledge. I do not however see a simplistic view of world history laid out like a chessboard where white battles black for world domination.

GCT said...

"GCT, I believe I had argued that I was not using them interchangeably and you claimed I was. It was after repeated attempts to explain that I was not, that I wrote a post not using any of the terms."

You were using the term "objective" when you meant to use "absolute." You did it repeatedly. I suggest you go back and have a look then at the way you used those terms and how you bitterly complained when I informed you that something can be objective even if it doesn't come from god or is man-made.

"Something other than created by the minds of man. Something outside of us, beyond us."

Then we've got problems. Something can be man-made and be objective. Again, I refer you to the rules of games as an example.

I'd say something about your war of good vs. evil, but I don't think I could top what CK said.

Karla said...

GCT "You were using the term "objective" when you meant to use "absolute." You did it repeatedly. I suggest you go back and have a look then at the way you used those terms and how you bitterly complained when I informed you that something can be objective even if it doesn't come from god or is man-made."

To reiterate once more, I see "objective morality" to be something external to mankind, uncreated by man.

"subjective" that which is developed by man.

"absolute" that which never changes is always constant. Or in another definition that which is in itself absolute/self-existent.

Now something could be objective outside of man and not be absolute. The right thing could be different in different situations and still be objective. Meaning we aren't choosing that this is right in this situation and another thing is right in another situation, but it is actually true that in situation A the right response is B and in situation C the right response is D.

So something could be objective and not absolute. Meaning it could be real that such and such is right or good but that something could also change and still be objective for we aren't the ones making the real change.

So that is an example of something which could be objective and not absolute.

GCT it appears you agree with Cyber but digress when she calls it subjective for you call the same thing objective.

GCT said...

"To reiterate once more, I see "objective morality" to be something external to mankind, uncreated by man."

Which is incorrect.

""subjective" that which is developed by man."

Also incorrect. "I am 5 feet 7 inches tall." Is that a subjective or objective statement?

""absolute" that which never changes is always constant. Or in another definition that which is in itself absolute/self-existent."

Or, true for all people at all times, which is how you were arguing for morality.

"Now something could be objective outside of man and not be absolute."

Correct.

"So something could be objective and not absolute. Meaning it could be real..."

You're still confused. Subjective things can be real. If I feel hungry, that's subjective and also real. What you are referring to by "real" is absolute or existing in nature, which does not necessarily have to be so for objectivity.

"GCT it appears you agree with Cyber but digress when she calls it subjective for you call the same thing objective."

No, incorrect. I agree with some of what she calls subjective, but she has the same issue as you with getting the definitions wrong.

cl said...

Cyber,

You said, "Erm... Yes."

I value those things, too, so have I established an example where you and I share intellectual common ground?

Karla,

I submit that I've understood you this entire time. I don't know where you and GCT are talking past each other, but here's what I do know:

You said, "Your right cl, while there are many theories of morality each would have to fall into the one of the two categories: either we make it up... or it reflects something real and unmade."

GCT replied, "Again, and I repeat myself, that is not what you argued. You made an argument that entailed some extra positions." (GCT)

GCT claims you've not made an argument you clearly made in the original post: "...morality is either a reflection of what we think about the world and our humanity and does not correspond nor conform to any real good, or that which is really right morally is that which most accurately reflects the good."

GCT is correct that you connected God to your argument, but that doesn't refute your initial claim that morality is either made up or reflects something real.

You further clarified yourself in your question to CK June 25th at 10:43am: "Can morals ever have real meaning if they originate in the human mind and do not correspond to an actual good?"

GCT claims you've omitted at least one other option, yet the best he's offered is some vague and unexplained allusion to "empirically derived objective morals," which are still objective by his own definition thus reflect something real. GCT claims he's answered my question back on July 6th. Although technically correct, that GCT answered my question does not entail that GCT has cogently addressed said question. Neither of GCT's comments made on July 6th cogently addressed my question.

On June 25th, GCT told you, "You are still making the false dichotomy between absolute and subjective or relative morals. You've left out the classification of empirically derived objective morals...which is what I've been telling you for numerous threads with numerous comments."

I would ask GCT to explain what "empirically derived objective morals" are, and where they fall on the "subjective/objective morality" scale. Are they made up? Or do they reflect something real? Remember, if "our evolutionary heritage is certainly external to us" as GCT claims, then "empirically derived objective morals" would certainly fall into the reflect something real category, right?

This would mean that your original description of things was not a false dichotomy. The way I see it, the only way GCT can sustain his claim is if GCT can show a type of morality that neither reflects something humans made up, nor reflects something real. I'm still waiting, as I'm curious to see what the whole point of all this is.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: I value those things, too, so have I established an example where you and I share intellectual common ground?

Possibly..... though we do appear to have arrived at rather different conclusions on the God question. Maybe we are using them differently or have different a understanding of them. Maybe we don't share the intellectual common ground you think we do?

Karla said...

GCT "Subjective things can be real. If I feel hungry, that's subjective and also real"

Interesting. Don't atheists usually dismiss any kind of subjective arguments given by theists? Why should I see your claim of subjectivity as real when it seems atypical to your current mode of argument?

I agree that our feelings can line up with something that is real, but it can only do so if the real exists. So are you now saying there is a real moral good and we subjectively arrive at it, thus our subjectively corresponds to something real and is thus true?

GCT said...

"Interesting. Don't atheists usually dismiss any kind of subjective arguments given by theists?"

First of all, you're treading into red herring territory here. Second of all, no. We only don't accept arguments that lack evidence. Typically, subjective feelings about reality are without evidence. If you told me you were hungry, however, I wouldn't question that, as I have no need. When you tell me about your subjective beliefs about how the world works, then I do question it.

"Why should I see your claim of subjectivity as real when it seems atypical to your current mode of argument?"

Red herring. My claim was that that was a subjective statement about a real condition. I'm not asking you to believe that I am hungry. I'm asking you to classify the type of statement it is.

"I agree that our feelings can line up with something that is real, but it can only do so if the real exists."

I still disagree with how you define "real exists," and apply it.

"So are you now saying there is a real moral good and we subjectively arrive at it, thus our subjectively corresponds to something real and is thus true?"

No. I'm saying that we use real condition of nature (evolutionary heritage, reason, logic, etc) and we formulate objective moral dictates. But, even if they were completely subjective, they could "correspond to something real." Subjective is not the same as imaginary.

cl said...

CK,

Your answer is typical of that I've heard from atheists before: Instead of just treating someone else as an equal, I must be using the tools of rationalism incorrectly because your conclusion is correct.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: Instead of just treating someone else as an equal, I must be using the tools of rationalism *incorrectly* because your conclusion is correct.

Actually I said: Maybe we are using them *differently* or have a *different* understanding of them.

If we are indeed using the same tools - yet come to quite different conclusions - doesn't that imply that we are using the tools differently? I certainly believe that your conclusion that there is a God is incorrect. I presume that you believe that my conclusion is incorrect. I also presume that we are both working off the same or similar data - in other words the reality we perceive.

So, if we are indeed working off the same data and are using the same tools to analyse the data - and yet are arriving at two different (indeed radically opposed) conclusions... what inferrence do you draw from this?

The alternatives I see are:

We are not using the same data.

We are not using the same tools.

We are using the tools differently.

One of us are using the tools incorrectly.

My inital hypothesis is that we are using the tools differently. It would appear that you are *hearing* that I am saying that you are using the tools incorrectly. I believe that your conclusion is wrong. I do not, however, know how you got there. So my initial hypothesis stands.

cl said...

Karla,

I was just stopping back by to see if GCT ever supplied the morality that was between objective and subjective. Did he?

Cyber,

"So my initial hypothesis stands."

Well, then I guess your mind's made up.

Karla said...

Cl, not that I've noticed. I think maybe though we have exhausted ourselves on this topic and need a breather. Sometimes people need to back away for a while in order to come at it clearer. I'm not sure I have much left to say on the topic at this point. I had planned additional post regarding it, but have covered most of that in the comments. So maybe I'll let it rest for a while.

GCT said...

"Cl, not that I've noticed."

I don't believe that I have provided the strawman argument that cl has asked for, but then again I never claimed what he claims I claimed, so go figure.

I have, however, explained to you (and cl too, since I know he read it but isn't honest or bright enough to understand it) that what you wrote is not what he's characterizing it to be and I layed out my objections to what you wrote.

Finally, if you are tired of this topic, you can shut me and CK up by simply presenting evidence of absolute morality that comes from god. I'll note that no theist has yet done this.

Karla said...

I don't want to shut anyone up.

Also, please refrain from speaking about Cl in that manner. You know I try to keep this a safe space for everyone to converse.

Also, I don't think it possible to meet your standard of proof, nor do I think the arguments from naturalism meet your standard of proof.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: Well, then I guess your mind's made up.

[sigh]

I put forward a range of options that might explain our different conclusions. The one that seems to best fit was the option that we are using the same tools in different ways.

Do any of the other options seem more likely to you?

Are there options I have not considered?

You seemed to simply ignore what I proposed. It was my attempt to move the debate forward in what I see as a reasonable and fairly logical manner. If you respond with a simple one liner basically accusing me of being closed minded then I am at a loss as to how to proceed.

GCT said...

"Also, please refrain from speaking about Cl in that manner. You know I try to keep this a safe space for everyone to converse."

Ah, but it's all right for him to push strawmen around (you even agree with him even though I've pointed out to you that he's doing it) and to try and taunt me with sophistry?

"Also, I don't think it possible to meet your standard of proof, nor do I think the arguments from naturalism meet your standard of proof."

And, you would be wrong. Plus, you sound pretty whiny here.

'Oh no, the bad atheist won't accept my assertions as proof, it must be because he's a super skeptic that won't accept anything at all, and I'll ding him by saying that what he believes in can't meet his burden of proof either...yeah, that'll show him.'

Please. If you think that naturalism isn't empirically shown, then I don't know what else to say, considering that it's all about what is empirical (it's sort of implicit in the definition). Even so, I've already said that I would accept other types of proof if you can actually defend them, give logical evidence, and logically tie them to your assertions. You simply can't do that, because god can't be evidenced, i.e. there's no evidence for god. You have to rely on logical fallacy in order to get there from here. That's why god belief is irrational and why you can't back up your assertions.

GCT said...

ck,
That's how cl operates. He's a sophist through and through who will stop at nothing to try and get a rise out of you. Take his actions on the Flew thread, where he thinks he's hammering you on the merits of ID. Would it surprise you to know that in the past he has denied that ID is science as well as saying that he doesn't believe it's a good argument? Sophistry? You betcha.

Karla said...

GCT, my contention isn't the realness of nature, but naturalism as an end in itself. You can't prove there is nothing beyond nature. I know you say you don't have to prove it, because your not positing it. Still, it seems assumed that nothing supernatural is possible. You claim "God can't be evidenced thus there is no evidence for God" The truth is you consider all evidence for God to be non-evidence. Again I ask what would practically constitute evidence for you?

GCT said...

"GCT, my contention isn't the realness of nature, but naturalism as an end in itself. You can't prove there is nothing beyond nature."

I don't need to. You are the one who needs to show that something exists beyond nature. Until then, it's all we have evidence for.

"I know you say you don't have to prove it, because your not positing it. Still, it seems assumed that nothing supernatural is possible."

You're basically calling me a liar here. That I'm saying one thing and doing another. This is incorrect. I make no assumption that the supernatural does not exist. You assume that it does, I simply don't share your assumption. For the umpteen millionth time, this is not the same as assuming it does not exist.

"You claim "God can't be evidenced thus there is no evidence for God" The truth is you consider all evidence for God to be non-evidence."

No, I claim that god can not be evidenced because there is no evidence for god. The only "evidence" is only "evidence" if one first assumes that which one is trying to evidence. IOW, you have to assume god exists before anything can be considered "evidence." This, however, is begging the question and logically fallacious.

"Again I ask what would practically constitute evidence for you?"

Make some sort of statement that must necessarily logically follow from there being a god and show how. Then, show that the statement is true. That would be one route. Or, you can disprove that natural explanations are insufficient for something...all natural explanations possible that is. These are just 2 examples. Really, they are a tall order, however, but it is not my fault that your god hides in the shadows.