Author Topic: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable  (Read 14353 times)

Stevil

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Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« on: January 15, 2012, 11:01:15 PM »
As a newly self proclaimed amoralist, I am pondering the moral concept and its implications on everything I thought I knew.
You may have noticed as this is a running theme in almost all of my posts of late.

I certainly feel that atheism is incompatible with moral absolutism as well as moral subjectivism or anything incorporating morals or ethics. Doing some internet research I can see others with this exact same opinion.

Most people it seems, like to think of themselves as moral people, regardless of whether they are theists or atheists. It is this habit of clinging to the moral concept that I would like to challenge.

"Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable"
Morality is the concept that an action is right because it is moral and is wrong because it is immoral. This is as far as justification goes with morality. You have a moral code, it is black and white, on the moral side are a list of actions and on the immoral side are a list of actions. Some morals are deemed to be simple e.g. murder is immoral while some morals are deemed to be complex, lying is immoral unless it is done to save a life.

Some Atheists like to say that they are moral but suggest that morals are subjective as there is no universally accepted moral code.
Atheists don't tend to see the world in black and white, they invoke reason and critical thinking into their own subjective moral code.
So their subjective moral code comes with a reasoned justification. e.g. "Murder is immoral because it is harming another member of society, if this is allowed then society is not safe and neither am I or my loved ones"

The thing is some Atheist may confuse this with the "justifications" presented by theists with regards to some of their morals e.g. "Gay sex is immoral because it is disordered, it is against nature"

But I think it is important to recognise that a theist is not offering a justification. Their justification is only based on their moral standard e.g. "Gay sex is wrong because it is immoral". If a theist states "Gay sex is immoral because it is disordered, it is against nature", this is not a justification, this is an excuse in support of their justification. If you debunk this excuse, it will not change their stance on the morality of that action, they will simply look for other excuses or will simply state that they don't know why but it is immoral in the eyes of their god.

Morality does not come with justification, if you are justifying your morals then you are stating your personal values, not your subjective morals. An amoral person can appear to be a very moral person in the eyes of people whom believe in morals.

Ateo

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2012, 11:39:26 PM »
I think you made an excellent case for atheists. I personally don't feel I need, nor do I want to be told what my morals are or should be. In many areas, I feel my standards are higher than a christians.  Heh heh heh, I actually took an inordinate amount  of  pleasure in saying that.

Atheist can beat god ten time to the center when it comes to fair judgments of moral transgressions and sinning including the severity of punishment or forgiveness of them. We wouldn't roast anyone, and certainly not for eternity, but this deity would/has.

What do you think your position is now Stevil?
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xSilverPhinx

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2012, 11:48:11 PM »
Theistic morality generally is purely just arguments from authority.

"It's moral because my church or holy script says that god says so."

When you're thinking along those lines, there's no need to justify why something is moral. It just is to them, because they were told it is.

If going by that definition of morality (theists usually take the word to mean morality in the theistic sense - objective and given to mankind by a moral lawmaker) then I would see myself as amoral as well.

However, I dismiss theistic notions of morality out of hand, because they're too shallow or insufficient to explain why certain things are deemed moral and others not. Others are just outright ridiculous. Instead I apply the word to something broader, that still goes beyond personal values, and that is how social creatures need to behave in order to create the most optimal society for all possible.

The whole idea of subjective morals can be tricky too, because though moral codes are subjective, even an atheist's has objective consequences. If I were to guess, that's why people tend to objectify their moral codes and project them onto the interaction between social setting and social animals - morals in part come from the outside (society) in (upbringing). Could such a unwritten code be considered to be sort of objective? Do you see that as morality?
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Stevil

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2012, 11:51:40 PM »
What do you think your position is now Stevil?
I think for the most part when people debate others of opposing worldviews, they are debating against strawmen arguments. Certainly I have read a couple of rebukes to amoralism and from these it is clear to me the person doesn't understand what amoralism is. I think most people don't understand amoralism, that is why, when a theist comes by to an atheist forum and makes a claim that atheists aren't moral then many atheists take offense and make claims as to why they are more moral than the theist.

But we don't need to do this. I think we can hold onto an inclusive humanistic amoral stance which leads to less oppression and guilt on members of society than the moral standard offered by some theists.

Stevil

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2012, 12:03:58 AM »
Instead I apply the word to something broader, that still goes beyond personal values, and that is how social creatures need to behave in order to create the most optimal society for all possible.
Would you be proposing a moral society in order to have an optimal society?
Do you think that morals should be enforced by law?
NOTE: I am using the term "Moral" with regards to your definition, not theistic definition.

I have a set of personal values, some of these are intended to improve my standing within society, e.g. don't lie. If I do this well, then people might trust me, they then may reward me by offering me opportunities which require that level of trust in me. But I wouldn't want this put into law. It is a choice made by me, on how I want to build up my reputation because of the benefits that I perceive. I do not want to force my values onto others.

The whole idea of subjective morals can be tricky too, because though moral codes are subjective, even an atheist's has objective consequences. If I were to guess, that's why people tend to objectify their moral codes and project them onto the interaction between social setting and social animals - morals in part come from the outside (society) in (upbringing). Could such a unwritten code be considered to be sort of objective? Do you see that as morality?
Each society is different, with different influences. A Western moral code would not be effective in the Middle East nor vise versa.
I don't see anything as being moral or immoral. I understand many people have the perception of morals, but I think that is flawed. It gives people the excuse to judge others based on their own values. This creates oppression and conflict IMHO. The morality concept is extremely dangerous.

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2012, 12:36:06 AM »
Not at all, I don't equate morals with any law or moral lawgivers. It has nothing to do with arguments from authority in fact.

Rather, it's just as you described it, you say you don't lie because you would like to be trusted. Being trusted and trusting others is good for a group because it leads to higher levels of cooperation among other things.

Morality, as I see it, is the unwritten and generally accepted ideas that optimise functioning and cohesion in a society. You don't lie partly because you want others to see you as trustworthy choose to trust you.


« Last Edit: January 16, 2012, 01:00:37 AM by xSilverPhinx »
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Stevil

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2012, 12:43:28 AM »
Morality, as I see it, is the unwritten and generally accepted ideas that optimise functioning and cohesion in a society.
I am trying to understand your idea of morality.
You are putting a social aspect to this, as if there is a group of morals that a specific society know and agree with and would expect that following this moral code will result in a more optimally functioning and cohesive society.

Is it possible that you are describing culture?
Of course not all culture leads towards an optimally functioning and cohesive society, but a culture is an unwritten social guide on how to behave within the specific society. If a person acts outside cultural norms then they will likely find social resistance.

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2012, 01:03:49 AM »
Morality, as I see it, is the unwritten and generally accepted ideas that optimise functioning and cohesion in a society.
I am trying to understand your idea of morality.
You are putting a social aspect to this, as if there is a group of morals that a specific society know and agree with and would expect that following this moral code will result in a more optimally functioning and cohesive society.

Basically this. Though since social interactions with a diversity of people with a variety of interests can be complex, that makes a fixed set of unwritten rules impossible. There will always be the so called lesser evil.
 
Quote
Is it possible that you are describing culture?
Of course not all culture leads towards an optimally functioning and cohesive society, but a culture is an unwritten social guide on how to behave within the specific society. If a person acts outside cultural norms then they will likely find social resistance.

Would you call your preference for telling the truth to be cultural?
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Stevil

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2012, 01:18:37 AM »
I am trying to understand your idea of morality.
You are putting a social aspect to this, as if there is a group of morals that a specific society know and agree with and would expect that following this moral code will result in a more optimally functioning and cohesive society.

Basically this. Though since social interactions with a diversity of people with a variety of interests can be complex, that makes a fixed set of unwritten rules impossible. There will always be the so called lesser evil.
So there is no moral standard specific to the society?
Just a collection of society members each with their own personal values, interacting with each other and sometimes infringing on each other.
 
Quote
Is it possible that you are describing culture?
Of course not all culture leads towards an optimally functioning and cohesive society, but a culture is an unwritten social guide on how to behave within the specific society. If a person acts outside cultural norms then they will likely find social resistance.

Would you call your preference for telling the truth to be cultural?
Yes - in most cases, I feel the culture of my society rewards me for not lying.
However, if you look at corporate organisations or even the Survivor TV show, you can see that the culture is such that the truth is expected however those that lie are often rewarded. By this I mean, people go into deceitful alliances, and betray when the time comes. If you were on the Survivor show, would you be deceitful in order to win the prize?

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2012, 01:40:28 AM »
I am trying to understand your idea of morality.
You are putting a social aspect to this, as if there is a group of morals that a specific society know and agree with and would expect that following this moral code will result in a more optimally functioning and cohesive society.

Basically this. Though since social interactions with a diversity of people with a variety of interests can be complex, that makes a fixed set of unwritten rules impossible. There will always be the so called lesser evil.
So there is no moral standard specific to the society?
Just a collection of society members each with their own personal values, interacting with each other and sometimes infringing on each other.

Ha! I see what you did there, placing "personal values" in the sentence like that. ;) "Morality" to me would be the set of codes which optimise a society's functioning from which people get their value systems from.  

I'm having a hard time articulating what I mean here, so I'll resort to Wiki:

Quote
Morality (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and bad (or wrong). A moral code is a system of morality (for example, according to a particular philosophy, religion, culture, etc.) and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code. The adjective moral is synonymous with "good" or "right." Immorality is the active opposition to morality (i.e. good or right), while amorality is variously defined as an unawareness of, indifference toward, or disbelief in any set of moral standards or principles.

Per this definition, not lying would be a moral and will be rewarded by a society or culture which sees it as moral, thus establishing it as part of a moral code.
 
Quote
Quote
Is it possible that you are describing culture?
Of course not all culture leads towards an optimally functioning and cohesive society, but a culture is an unwritten social guide on how to behave within the specific society. If a person acts outside cultural norms then they will likely find social resistance.

Would you call your preference for telling the truth to be cultural?
Yes - in most cases, I feel the culture of my society rewards me for not lying.
However, if you look at corporate organisations or even the Survivor TV show, you can see that the culture is such that the truth is expected however those that lie are often rewarded. By this I mean, people go into deceitful alliances, and betray when the time comes. If you were on the Survivor show, would you be deceitful in order to win the prize?

Those shows are designed to only have one winner. Codes for mutual or social group gain don't really apply.

But I see where you're getting at. I would choose my alliances carefully, and if I really wanted the prize and didn't have to really harm anyone to get it, then yes, I'd lie.

You? ;D
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Stevil

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2012, 01:51:28 AM »
Quote
Morality (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and bad (or wrong). A moral code is a system of morality (for example, according to a particular philosophy, religion, culture, etc.) and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code. The adjective moral is synonymous with "good" or "right." Immorality is the active opposition to morality (i.e. good or right), while amorality is variously defined as an unawareness of, indifference toward, or disbelief in any set of moral standards or principles.

Per this definition, not lying would be a moral and will be rewarded by a society or culture which sees it as moral, thus establishing it as part of a moral code.
So you would define not lying as good and not lying as bad?
What if the nazi's were after some Jews that you were hiding under your bed. What if they told you they were going to kill all Jews that they could find and asked you if you know where any where. Would it be good to not lie, would it be bad to lie?
 
But I see where you're getting at. I would choose my alliances carefully, and if I really wanted the prize and didn't have to really harm anyone to get it, then yes, I'd lie.

You? ;D
Of course I would lie. Problem is, I am so used to telling the truth, I'm sure I would find it hard to lie without smirking.
But especially in challenges, you don't want to paint yourself as too good or too bad with any of the challenges, just middle of the road.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2012, 02:18:34 AM by Stevil »

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2012, 02:16:25 AM »
I don't know Stevil.  I know you and I have already gone into this, and maybe I am just as bad as a theist, but I have to say that I feel that right and wrong are - I don't know how to put this - undeniable.  God, this sounds so douchey, but I honestly feel like "right and wrong" are pretty obvious in most cases, and that speaks to me.  Like, if right and wrong are so easy for me to spot, does that not mean that there really is a right and wrong?

I'm sure you're going to destroy me in this debate lol (because you already have once) but I guess I am hoping that maybe along the way I will figure out why I feel wrong and right so strongly if there is no such thing.

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2012, 02:34:24 AM »
I don't know Stevil.  I know you and I have already gone into this, and maybe I am just as bad as a theist, but I have to say that I feel that right and wrong are - I don't know how to put this - undeniable.  God, this sounds so douchey, but I honestly feel like "right and wrong" are pretty obvious in most cases, and that speaks to me.  Like, if right and wrong are so easy for me to spot, does that not mean that there really is a right and wrong?

I'm sure you're going to destroy me in this debate lol (because you already have once) but I guess I am hoping that maybe along the way I will figure out why I feel wrong and right so strongly if there is no such thing.
I certainly don't want to destroy you. I want to learn how to understand people through you. Although you are unique and special, I am sure with regards to your wanting to hold onto morality, there are many, many people like you. Actually I reckon that amoralists are the minority even within the atheist community.

Your emotive response is valid and I am sure it is strong. If you see someone being tortured, you would feel anger, anxiety, fear, compassion, empathy. You would have a strong desire to save this person.
You might interpret this to mean that torture is immoral. But you don't feel this way about all immoral acts do you? How would you feel if you saw someone steal a pen from the office at work? Presumably you also think this is immoral.

Have you watched the 24 TV series. It is a great show, which plays on morality all the time. The President is in his office making moral decisions. Jack is in the field protecting America against terrorists, seemingly making immoral actions all the time. Drugging people, killing unarmed (possibly handcuffed) people, chopping their heads off. Shocking stuff, which invokes an emotional response in the viewer however he is still the hero. You don't judge him as immoral, he is doing what needs to be done to protect America. You end up liking and respecting Jack as much as the President.

It is interesting to think about people's emotions and how big a part they play in a person deciding what is right or wrong.
I am personally less emotionally driven than most people.

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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2012, 02:41:10 AM »
So you would define not lying as good and not lying as bad?
What if the nazi's were after some Jews that you were hiding under your bed. What if they told you they were going to kill all Jews that they could find and asked you if you know where any where. Would it be good to not lie, would it be bad to lie?

Since telling a lie to save the jews in that situation is definitely the lesser evil (if you're talking about values) I would lie.

I use the words 'lesser evil' loosely, but doubtless you get what I mean. I don't believe there is such a clear cut thing such as 'evil' or 'good' in the first place.

I think that personal values can be more problematic than a moral code, especially since such codes are made up of personal values/morals. They're organised in hierarchy, and sometimes different people's views of what's a 'lesser evil' conflict with that of others.
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Re: Morality and reasoned justification are incompatable
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2012, 03:08:26 AM »
I don't know Stevil.  I know you and I have already gone into this, and maybe I am just as bad as a theist, but I have to say that I feel that right and wrong are - I don't know how to put this - undeniable.  God, this sounds so douchey, but I honestly feel like "right and wrong" are pretty obvious in most cases, and that speaks to me.  Like, if right and wrong are so easy for me to spot, does that not mean that there really is a right and wrong?

I'm sure you're going to destroy me in this debate lol (because you already have once) but I guess I am hoping that maybe along the way I will figure out why I feel wrong and right so strongly if there is no such thing.
I certainly don't want to destroy you. I want to learn how to understand people through you. Although you are unique and special, I am sure with regards to your wanting to hold onto morality, there are many, many people like you. Actually I reckon that amoralists are the minority even within the atheist community.

Your emotive response is valid and I am sure it is strong. If you see someone being tortured, you would feel anger, anxiety, fear, compassion, empathy. You would have a strong desire to save this person.
You might interpret this to mean that torture is immoral. But you don't feel this way about all immoral acts do you? How would you feel if you saw someone steal a pen from the office at work? Presumably you also think this is immoral.

Have you watched the 24 TV series. It is a great show, which plays on morality all the time. The President is in his office making moral decisions. Jack is in the field protecting America against terrorists, seemingly making immoral actions all the time. Drugging people, killing unarmed (possibly handcuffed) people, chopping their heads off. Shocking stuff, which invokes an emotional response in the viewer however he is still the hero. You don't judge him as immoral, he is doing what needs to be done to protect America. You end up liking and respecting Jack as much as the President.

It is interesting to think about people's emotions and how big a part they play in a person deciding what is right or wrong.
I am personally less emotionally driven than most people.

I can see that.  I've never watched 24, but one of my most beloved characters in fiction (Joe Pitt) kills people all of the time, and most of the time I agree that those people need killing, even though I am against killing in theory.

I think my "morality" is based on what I think I would feel and do in a given situation.  Being a typical narcissitic human, I like to think that I would "do right" in a variety of situations.  I would free the orphans.  I would fight the bad guys and set loose the virgins. 

I'm interested in the fact that you feel differently.  Please elaborate/  Would you NOT free the orphans?