Board index Morality

How do we know what's right and what's wrong? how do we decide? What IS right and wrong?

Re: We don't need God to have morality

Postby Mazzino » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:58 am

What is the difference between moral relativism and objective morality? Who decides which actions taken by me are moral or immoral? Is kindness an aspect of morality and is it contingent on an opinion? Is the act of kindness just sufficiently good on its own, a virtue undiminishable by opinion? The question leads to yet other issues, what is morality if all it is, is an opinion? Is there a way to actually know if a behavior is moral? If I call something moral, is it moral only because I say it's moral or is there a higher purpose behind morality, an ultimate judge telling me I'm in the right or wrong?

The only proper way to answer the question of which morality is more valid is to define the terminology and begin examining which form of morality seems to make the most sense.

Moral relativism requires the individual to determine ones own morality. By adopting the position of a personalized morality one must be willing to accept behavior by all others as righteous no matter how distasteful it may be. Under moral relativism all value is lost to the concept of what is good. If morality is an opinion, even a societal opinion, can an individual or society accurately claim moral superiority over anyone else without going against this belief system? If I see a father beating his son with a whip and caging him like a dog, under the the terms of this philosophy I have no basis to pass moral judgement. There is no higher authority setting the standard and no expectation beyond that of the individual.

Objective Morality:
A belief that a higher authority who is maximally knowing and maximally powerful, stands in judgement of all things good and evil. This higher power has breathed morality into all life that he has created the ability to know right and wrong...........>

Questions:
1) Under objective morality, when confronted with two opposing morality based viewpoints how does one know which to follow?

2) If you state that some morality is under divine rule like thou shall not commit murder but allow for dog fighting as entertainment or arranged marriage then you are accepting moral relativism for those things. After pointing out the futility of moral relativism how can I assert this without being hypocritical?

3) What evidence can I provide that makes Yahweh the authority and not Allah or Zeus? I'm truly not being combative I need to know how I know which authority to follow.
Mazzino
 

Re: We don't need God to have morality

Postby jimwalton » Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:25 am

It's a set of concentric circles. Objective morality doesn't require that all notions of right and wrong are objective, but only that there exists an unchanging core of moral principles. There are many areas of ethical concern and judgment outside of the core but still within the circle of good behavior. In addition, while there is a constant nucleus of morality, how to apply those principles in real situations often involve giving weight to one value over another, and there can be rational and well-founded disagreements about the application of objective moral principles in practical situations of moral dilemma.

As for authority, authority and trust are earned. The authority of a deity is not accepted without assessment and reflection, but on the basis of substantiated corroboration and attestation. There are tests for truth: Intention, ability, character, consistency, bias, corroboration, etc. YHWH, Allah, and Zeus must be weighed in the balances.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3841
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: We don't need God to have morality

Postby Mazzino » Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:53 am

You said, "There are many areas of ethical concern and judgment outside of the core but still within the circle of good behavior." That's where my argument falls apart for objective morality. "Judgments" by definition is moral relativism. If I say objective morality is self-evident due to the meaninglessness of morality relativism, but I then allow moral relativism to deal with everything outside of those core moralities, I'm basically saying moral relativism is self-evident because we don't know the mind of God on these other issues, which opens the door to how do we know the mind of God on any level of morality other than what is written in the Bible on core moralities. If I point to the Bible showing God's position, others will point to where Yahweh allows the devil to destroy Job's life to prove a point to the Devil and many other areas of "seemingly" immoral behavior. It makes it difficult to convince people like myself to accept objective morality as evidence for a God. The only means to support objective morality is with a generic God. That still unfortunately leaves us with how do we know the mind of God?
Mazzino
 

Re: We don't need God to have morality

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:14 pm

Great comments. I'll try to add to where we've been. Let's take the issue of killing. We all believe killing is wrong, but parts of killing go in the OK part of morality (killing in self-defense, for instance), and parts go in the "never right" part of morality (killing a baby for the fun of it). This is where my concentric circles comes into play. Something like "killing babies for the fun of it" is always wrong—an objective moral principle. Outside of that, let's say, is murder. 1st degree premeditated murder is always wrong, except when it's not. It's a matter of judgment. During WWII, a minister named Dietrich Bonhoeffer participated in a plot to assassinate Hitler, which he considered to be a moral good. So murder is wrong, but maybe not always. Outside of that are various other circles of self-defense, war, capital punishment, 2nd degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, innocent by reason of insanity, etc. These parts of "thou shalt not kill" are subject to judgment, though we still generally agree killing is wrong. These variations don't negate the solidity of the core—there is such a thing as objective morality pertaining to murder, but there are many nuances of conditional situations in expanding concentric circles requiring judgment.

As to your statements about God, I would say this: I believe the Bible teaches objective morality (the givens), but the expressions of anything but that core are culturally relative. The Bible is not a text leading us to identify a system of morality, though it gives us basics by which we can build a moral life. There is no such thing as a biblical morality; there are moral aspects inherent in the biblical text, and they are part of any moral system. The Bible only touches on morality in the course of its pages; morality is more than the Bible.

Here's sort of a bottom line: There is an objective morality, but we're never given an exhaustive list, because the Bible has a different objective. Morality is rarely if ever the issue on the table. The character of God is unchanging, and we regard his character as the ground for that objective morality, but we never get all the information we need to write a systematic objective morality from the pages of the Bible. There are pieces we can intuit, observe, and infer to prove to us there is such a thing as objective morality and that it finds its basis in the nature of God. But there are many concentric circles, and much of morality and moral systems find their way into culture as relative expressions, picking up cultural aspects beyond what the Bible establishes.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3841
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: We don't need God to have morality

Postby Mazzino » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:06 pm

So, what you're saying is there is both objective morality and relative morality?
Mazzino
 

Re: We don't need God to have morality

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:10 pm

Of course. It's like an onion—there's layers! Killing a baby for the fun of it is always wrong, but killing in self-defense an aggressor who seeks my harm is justifiable. The first is objective; the second subjective. The difference between Christians and others is that we believe there is such a thing as objective morality in the middle of the plethora of subjective moral principles and practices. Atheists only have the latter as a possibility, but to me that's like the Blue Angels flying without controls. Without a core guidance system, judgment can only take us so far.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3841
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: We don't need God to have morality

Postby Mazzino » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:46 pm

I'm not on my computer, I'm typing on my cell so forgive any autocorrections I might miss. My purpose for doing this isn't right now about debating you, it's my way of setting aside my worldview and either accepting my old way of thinking is flawed or acknowledging it is more accurate. So when I challenge you on points please accept it as my attempt at verification of facts. My mind is for the moment accepting a Christian God who created a universe 14.85 billion years ago and allowed life to begin about 3 billion years ago. He allowed life to evolve, which gave rise to all life. At some point God gave animals a core set of ethics and holds man more responsible for following them because we have larger brains. When I'm done with this in about a week I'll be left with two possible conclusions: one is I agree with objective morality and therefore some form of higher power could exist; the second is that objective morality is an illusion caused by those who believe in a divine creator.

More questions: Is killing for the fun of it wrong when you're killing a deer or a fish? Now answer that question in your head before reading the reading the next question. Is killing for the fun of it ok if you're killing your own dog? Now where are my morals if I get more upset at the news of a dog I don't know in some town I've never heard of gets killed than I do about some human getting killed that I don't know in a town I've never heard of? Am I immorral for caring more for the dog than I do for the human? When it comes to sport-killing of dear and fish I find that to be immorral NOT killing for food just killing a buck for the fun of it and not eating it. You might find me strange but I don't kill flies or spiders in my house. If they are a dangerous spider or an annoying fly I catch and release them outside. Admittedly that might make me weird to some, but does it make me more moral? Is that situational morality or objective morality? I know that's a lot of questions, but if you can please try answering them all. They're all important for me. I'll list them below

1) Is it objectively immoral if you're killing another species for the fun of it?
2) Is it objectively immoral to kill a beloved family pet for the fun of it?
3) Am I being objectively immoral for not feeling as bad about a human stranger dying than I do about a dog I've never met?
4) Am I more objectively moral for not killing a fly or a spider than another person who doesn't think twice about killing a fly or a spider?

Thanks for taking the time.
Mazzino
 

Re: We don't need God to have morality

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:58 pm

Thanks again for great conversation. Christians believe in the sanctity of life, but it's to a large extent subjective morality. I laughed when you talked about putting flies and spiders outside. I put spiders outside, too, (but not flies). I don't kill insects for the fun of it. I don't stomp on ants just to stomp on ants. The Bible tells us that animals have the breath of life in them, too. But this is where it's subject, since the Bible isn't an ethics text, there are many questions it doesn't answer for us. Many animals just function as part of the circle of life, the balance of nature, but the Bible doesn't tell us where all the lines are drawn. We know that humans are unique, so there is a chasm of separation between us and other animal life, but other than that we aren't told much. Therefore I think these things are in the area of subjective morality.

By the same token, however, the Bible gives us a mandate to be responsible stewards over creation and to treat life with dignity and compassion. I think it's wrong to kill a deer or fish for the fun of it. I think it's wrong to kill a dog for the fun of it. I think we should always be more upset about a human dying than an animal dying, because humans are made in the image of God and we have a dignity and worth separate from the animals.

On to your questions.

1. Is it objectively immoral to kill another species for the fun of it? My conviction is that it is, but it's in a different circle than the immorality of killing a human being for the fun of it.

2. Is it objectively immoral to kill a beloved family pet for the fun of it? My conviction is that it is. But it's still in a different circle than humans. (In a slightly different vein, but related: When people's pets die, they get another one. When their children die, it's a completely different dynamic. We all recognize that people and animals are in separate planes of dignity.)

3. Am I being objectively immoral for not feeling as bad about a human stranger dying than I do about a dog I've never met? No, not objectively immoral, but in my opinion showing misplaced values.

4. Am I more objectively moral for not killing a fly or a spider than another person who doesn't think twice about killing a fly or a spider? No. Jainists also feel it's immoral not to kill any other life. Christians don't treat flies with the same value and dignity as humans. This is an area of subjective morality.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3841
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: We don't need God to have morality

Postby Mazzino » Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:10 am

Ok, I'm getting more comfortable that I have a grip on the philosophy of objective morality you hold to be accurate. I should have my post up in a day or two. I want to add that you are one of a scant handful of people, atheist or theist that I've enjoyed discussing this issue with, we may not agree on the subject but at no point have I felt that you're condescending or arrogant for the sake of winning the point. You have been patient and willing to invest the time it takes to answer my questions, so thank you.

I also need to give you kudos for recognizing humans as animals. Most people think humans are not animals. It's like fingers on a chalkboard for me when I hear "Humans are not animals, we're humans." I don't know why, because I'm not a violent person, but I just want to smack people in the back of the head when they say that. :roll:


Last bumped by Anonymous on Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:10 am.
Mazzino
 

Previous

Return to Morality

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


cron