Morality - Relative or Objective?

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Mariolee
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Morality - Relative or Objective?

#1

Post by Mariolee » Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:58 pm

I know this is a hot debate, but I would like your short inputs on this and possibly in a concise manner explain why you believe morality is objective or relative. C.S. Lewis wrote a ton about this in Mere Christianity, but I have some questions about this. Isn't it possible that morality is relative, as his example of a tribe in some foreign country following the abstract moral standards that people in society do seems to be unfounded conjecture. My postulation is, couldn't morality just come out of the negative and positive sensations we feel as a result of our biological systems? There isn't necessarily a good or bad, but because these pains "hurt" we attribute this to good and bad, whereas a person can be brainwashed into believing it feels good like masochists?
How do some people mess up a message about "love" and "forgiveness" so much?!

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#2

Post by domokunrox » Tue May 01, 2012 2:15 am

Marlee, I have a whole thread dedicated to answering this question here on this site in the philosophy section of the boards.

http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... 19&t=36765

However, I will certainly give you a short and concise reponse to your thoughts on the matter

This speculation of a tribe in a foreign country following abstract moral standards, therefore Morals are relative is called the genetic fallacy. When and where you were born does not invalidate the absolute truth bearing statement in a moral proposition.

Your postulation that good or bad can come out of "positive" or negative" sensations from our biological systems is called the naturalist fallacy and arbitrary on top of that. It is a Humanist position and it doesn't prove relativism in even the slightest.

For example, let's say that I get positive sensations from raping and torturing women. Would you be accepting of my behavior? Afterall, great white shark males forcefully copulate with their female counterparts. What's the difference?

Again, let's say someone was giving me negative sensations being he was using hurtful language, I therefore acted upon my positive sensations to kill him to feel better about myself. Afterall, animals in wildlife kill each other all the time. Would you accept this kind of behavior?

So, basically your postulation affirms moral nihilism. Not relativism. There is a difference.

I recommend you take a look at my thread for more information.

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#3

Post by Echoside » Tue May 01, 2012 6:34 am

Mariolee wrote:I know this is a hot debate, but I would like your short inputs on this and possibly in a concise manner explain why you believe morality is objective or relative.
Morality is objective because I believe God, and what he has revealed to us.

However, I do not believe that without God I can reason to objective morality. I only know that to kill, for example is wrong in my mind. I do not however, know the minds of every human being on the planet and if this thought matches up. And I have no basis on which to call everyone else on the planet a liar.

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#4

Post by Mariolee » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:44 am

Hi, sorry to bump an old thread, but I've always wondered how evolutionists and other moral relativists see how morality can grow in a universe that doesn't lean either way, so today I just googled it up and came upon this wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality

So, it seems to advocate that the reason we have morality is to better survive, but maybe I'm just being ignorant or stupid right now, I don't believe that tackles the core problem of why we should even care about whether we survive as a species or not other than because evolution wills it and puts in us an innate want to survive, even though it doesn't matter at all.
How do some people mess up a message about "love" and "forgiveness" so much?!

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#5

Post by Beanybag » Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:02 am

Mariolee wrote:Hi, sorry to bump an old thread, but I've always wondered how evolutionists and other moral relativists see how morality can grow in a universe that doesn't lean either way, so today I just googled it up and came upon this wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality

So, it seems to advocate that the reason we have morality is to better survive, but maybe I'm just being ignorant or stupid right now, I don't believe that tackles the core problem of why we should even care about whether we survive as a species or not other than because evolution wills it and puts in us an innate want to survive, even though it doesn't matter at all.
Yes, evolutionary morality helps us live together in societies. As for whether or not you should care about morality or the survival of a species, that's a deeply personal decision. Most people will find their happiness correlates strongly with their goodness. In other words, if you want to be happy you should be moral. But, why should you want to be happy? What if you are sad and you just want everyone else to be sad? Despair can drive even the most religious people to do terrible things. I think, whether morality is subjectively prescriptive or inherently objective, people still must choose to be moral. It's easy to say, "why should people care about doing what is moral or best for the society" but it's equally easy to say, "why should people care about doing what is moral or what god commands?" And, I'm not entirely sure any morality is objectively prescriptive for that reason. All forms of morality struggle to answer the question: "why should I care, what is this to me?" Fortunately, most of us do care. Whether or not that is because of evolution shaping our behavior, or whether or not it's some theological reason, that doesn't seem to matter.

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#6

Post by PaulSacramento » Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:20 am

I have found that Morality tends to be subjective when people tell me to do what I don't want to and objective when I tell people to do what I want them too.
:D

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#7

Post by jlay » Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:12 pm

Whether or not that is because of evolution shaping our behavior, or whether or not it's some theological reason, that doesn't seem to matter.
This presumes "Evolution" is an intelligent agent, shaping humanity to a certain end. It certainly does matter. Evolution is no such thing, and this fundemental error needs to be pointed out. It can't account for such presumptions. It denies an objective moral agent, then smuggles in the very thing disquised in the blanket term 'Evolution.' It is willful ignorance.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#8

Post by PaulSacramento » Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:25 pm

Evolution couldn't care less if something is wrong or right, what one should or should not do, what one ought to do, it only cares about survival and if survival meant doing something immoral then evolution would say "yes".

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#9

Post by Beanybag » Fri Jul 20, 2012 2:01 pm

jlay wrote:
Whether or not that is because of evolution shaping our behavior, or whether or not it's some theological reason, that doesn't seem to matter.
This presumes "Evolution" is an intelligent agent, shaping humanity to a certain end. It certainly does matter. Evolution is no such thing, and this fundemental error needs to be pointed out. It can't account for such presumptions. It denies an objective moral agent, then smuggles in the very thing disquised in the blanket term 'Evolution.' It is willful ignorance.
An algorithm can make a decision without itself being intelligent. Evolution is one such example of an algorithm. Whether all algorithm's are made by intelligent beings or whether some are naturally occurring (this pushing the intelligence question back to the creation of the natural) remains to be seen, but science has firmly established the existence of natural selection.
PaulSacramento wrote:Evolution couldn't care less if something is wrong or right, what one should or should not do, what one ought to do, it only cares about survival and if survival meant doing something immoral then evolution would say "yes".
And yet, other social species exhibit 'moral' behavior. An emergent society of intelligent beings can supersede evolutionary natural selection and move the selection from the survival of an organism to the survival of a species or a society.

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#10

Post by jlay » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:14 pm

You are stretching, big time. And to be honest it is a little concerning. It seems too me that you are religiously committed to your worldview, even if it goes against reason. An algorithm is the product of ID. To say Evolution is such only opens up another can of worms, which would be to ask how was Evolution designed to choose certain functions? But this isn't even what evolution is understood to be, unless you are proclaiming evolution as a religion. But Evolution isn't an entity. You are implying it is such, and it isn't. Evolution is not an example of an algorithm. Now, I could be wrong, but the burden of proof is on you. I'd certainly like to see how nature creates instructions to predict what to choose for.

The term natural selection is a little misleading in that it also infers something that is not there. We tend to accept it on face value, which is an error. Nature isn't selecting, intelligently or otherwise. There is no way nature knows that abstract concepts such as kindness, charity, etc. have any benefit to society. If they do have a benefit, then by nature, the benefit is a consequence. And the only thing beneficial about it, is the accidental result of human consciousness in the natural world. The benefit is not prescribed in nature. It is an accident. Apart from man being able to observe this, there is nothing being selected for. One behavior leads to one outcome. That outcome increases the survivability of the species. You tell me what is selecting, and how an algorithm is in play? What you are doing is called the fallacy of reification. Since nature isn't a thing it can't know what is beneficial. In fact nature also doesn't "know" that one physical trait is advantageous. It is consequential. Long hair helps a breed survive. Short haired animals struggle or die, leading to better survivability of long hair. Note, there is no algorithim or decision. To say so only means your evolution is some mystical religion. That nature is some force or being acting and guiding things intelligently. Selection is simply a term we have assigned to something we witness in nature. But there is no 'decision' that long hair is better than short.

I would go even further than Paul. Evolution doesn't care about survival. Survival is a consequence of NS. It is sad too me that folks like yourself will put the cart before the horse. Nature is not a thing. It is cold, hard, and indifferent. In fact, nature isn't even cold, hard or indifferent. Nature (the way you are using the term) is a construct of man, used to help understand the natural world. To even say that nature cares or doesn't care ascribes a quality to something that doesn't actually exist. You have simply smuggled in God and stamped "nature" over His name. Of course, this probably has happened sub-consciously. But you can't deny it, you've made it plain for all here to see. And, you need to repent of this nonsensical religious myticism. Your worldview presumes God to deny Him, and does so in such a way that is willfully ignorant. Ignorance is one thing, being willfully so is another.
Last edited by jlay on Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#11

Post by Beanybag » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:28 pm

Arguing against evolution and then saying my views are sad and stretching? Natural selection IS an algorithmic process - it selects for fitness. There is no need for intelligence here. I find ID highly unscientific and unpersuasive. It seems rather clear to me how natural selection emerges in a set of elements that propagate information in a population, one that passes characteristics down to offspring when found fit and has elements of death and birth. I could probably find ways to discover other natural algorithms as well that emerge from natural properties. Again, thus doesn't discredit ID or an intelligent designer, it just pushes the question back to nature rather than evolution.

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#12

Post by jlay » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:38 pm

I reworded my post.

BTW, I'm not even agruing against evolution here. I'm simply pointing out that evolution for you is a religious worldview, not simply the natural world doing its thing. Otherwise, you should stop committing the fallacy of reificaiton.
Natural selection IS an algorithmic process - it selects for fitness
The burden of proof is on you. You are making a bald assertion, but I've yet to see any evidence that fitness is "chosen". If it is, then what is it chosen by? It seems that either way you try to defend this it blows up your worldview. Have fun with that. You are the consequentialist here. Why abandon it now?
I'm not arguing for ID in that sense. I'm simply saying that an algoritm is an example of an intelligent mind. If you claim evolution is an algorithm then you are the one with the problem. I am certainly not saying that evolution is an algoritm.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#13

Post by Beanybag » Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:50 pm

Fitness is a trait selected by natural selection. It is chosen by nature. Natural selection is an algorithm because it sorts a population based on fitness, discarding less fit genetics for more fit genetics. An algorithm is simply a process that achieves a specified result. The algorithm doesn't 'exist' in the literal sense, but it does play out in nature. Nature, in a lot of ways, resembles a computer - you simply put things into the equations and it carries it out in a step-wise process deterministically. I'm not advocating for a deterministic ontology, just a deterministic nature. Of course, nature is simply the uniform laws that govern the interactions of the physical universe, so it's nothing special. Computers execute algorithms all the time, and higher order patterns and algorithms can emerge given a smaller set or a complex system. Algorithms don't necessitate intelligence either.. when water is poured in a funnel, the funnel acts as an algorithm for determining the position of the water - the water will go to the middle and out the whole. It create organization of the water. I'm guessing we have different definitions here, or you're mistaken.

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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#14

Post by B. W. » Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:28 pm

Mariolee wrote:I know this is a hot debate, but I would like your short inputs on this and possibly in a concise manner explain why you believe morality is objective or relative. C.S. Lewis wrote a ton about this in Mere Christianity, but I have some questions about this. Isn't it possible that morality is relative, as his example of a tribe in some foreign country following the abstract moral standards that people in society do seems to be unfounded conjecture. My postulation is, couldn't morality just come out of the negative and positive sensations we feel as a result of our biological systems? There isn't necessarily a good or bad, but because these pains "hurt" we attribute this to good and bad, whereas a person can be brainwashed into believing it feels good like masochists?
Mariolee, I find it rather odd how Relative Morality is so Morally Objectively defined...


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Re: Morality - Relative or Objective?

#15

Post by jlay » Sat Jul 21, 2012 8:29 am

Fitness is a trait selected by natural selection. It is chosen by nature. Natural selection is an algorithm because it sorts a population based on fitness, discarding less fit genetics for more fit genetics.
Again, prove it. Since I'm not a math wiz i looked up definitions of algorithms. NS is an abstract construct of man to help understand what is happening in nature. There is no entity that exist called natural selection. How hard is this to understand? If NS exist, please show us any material evidence. Otherwise you are promoting some religious mysticism in which nature and NS are actual existing entities. Fitness is the word we use to describe a trait that is favorable given conditions. For example long hair in cold weather. Is long hair favorable because some entity called NS prefers it? Or, is it favorable because it provides better insulation in cold weather? Did the cold weather select it? No. Did some abstract accidental algorithm select it? No.
The algorithm doesn't 'exist' in the literal sense, but it does play out in nature.
Things play out in nature, just as I exampled with the long hair/short hair. We (intelligent minds) can observe what is happening and then construct formulae to help explain what is going on. The formula is NOT nature. It is the abstract construct of the human mind to explain what is happening in nature. To go where you are is reification. And, it's religious to do so.

So, how does an abstract construct of the human mind (NS), then become an algorithm, which by the definition is also a formula created by an intelligent mind?
I'm not saying that scientist might not use algorithms to understand what is happening in nature. They do. But that doesn't make NS an algorithm. Please show me an example. Otherwise, NS is conditioned on the existance of a mind. And if so, this lights the fuse that blows up your position. If NS is an algoritm then you should through up your hands and admit that there is an intelligent mind who designed it. (ie God.) Because, by definition an algorithm is something DESINGED to solve a problem. And that would mean that the abstract issues of kindness, and charity must be KNOWN to design an algoritm to solve the problem. To know is a product of an intelligent mind. Unless you have any examples of algorithms that happen by accident.
Computers execute algorithms all the time, and higher order patterns and algorithms can emerge given a smaller set or a complex system.
How long do we need to keep this up? The computer algorithm is an example of intelligent design. A problem existed and someone designed a formula (program) to resolve the problem. Your only digging the hole deeper as you try dig yourself out.

Take my long hair, short hair example and show us how this is an algorithm or that "nature" or NS is an entity that is chosing or selecting. If it is so, then you should easily be able to show it. Heck, just provide a link and we can review the evidence for ourselves.

FWIW, I could care less about winning an argument with you. I care about your eternal soul. It is very obvious that you are suppressing the truth. If I may be so candid, from what I've learned about you from your post, you have constructed and adopted a worldview and philosophy that either consciously or subconsciously seeks to eliminate God. I am amazed at how many people will attempt to build a worldview that is founded on proving that a God they don't believe in, doesn't exist. It's absurd. In fact it only confirms that there is a God, and that you are at enmity with Him. The algorithm issue only further magnifies this. If you hold to the algorithm then you willfully deny the mind behind it. It is clear that you see nature (although I doubt you admit it) as an entity or force, because it is the only way you can hold to such views. It is entirely unscientific to espouse reification. This is exactly what the Bible descirbes as worshiping the creature rather than the creator. You wrongly ascribe honor to "nature," which is really equivalent of someone worshipping the sun God 3,000 years ago. The God of creation has made it clear, and you have to twist reason and logic to deny it. You are welcome to continue to do this, but you only store up wrath for yourself. My hands are clean. Repent, that is abandon this absurd religion, and God will grant you the mind to see the truth for yourself. Stop letting your pride (desire to be right) get in the way. Humble yourself, as the it is the reasonable thing to do. Stop trying to hold onto something that is self-defeating and contradictory.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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