In defense of objective morals

Healthy skepticism of ALL worldviews is good. Skeptical of non-belief like found in Atheism? Post your challenging questions. Responses are encouraged.
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Jac3510
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In defense of objective morals

#1

Post by Jac3510 » Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:43 pm

We're all familiar with the moral argument for God's existence as stated by Craig. It goes as follows:
  • If objective moral values exist, God exists
    Objective moral values exist
    God exists
I want to offer a defense of the second premise that I think we tend to try to state but tend to do poorly. I'll defend the second premise with an argument I've decided to call "The Argument from Moral Predication." I state it formally as follows:
  • 1. If objective moral values do not exist, moral language cannot be predicated to objective acts, but only to subjective opinions regarding objective acts
    2. Moral language can be predicated to objective facts
    3. Therefore, objective moral language exists
Very briefly, my point here is the words "right" and "wrong" and in all their variances are either attributed to acts themselves our our opinions about acts themselves. There is absolutely no other way the words may be predicated, so these two categories are exhaustive. An example of each:
  • a. Slavery is wrong
    b. I think of slavery as wrong
In the first, moral language (the word "wrong") is attributed to the actual act of slavery. In the second, moral language is predicated to my opinion. What I am arguing is that, if objective moral values do not exist, then sentences of the first type are meaningless. The reason is that if there is no objective moral reality, then moral language doesn't refer to any existent thing. If I say, "Unicorns are pretty" your immediate thought is either that I'm stupid for calling things that don't exist pretty or else you are more charitable and think that I'm talking about images or pictures of unicorns. The point is that ALL language has to have some referent in reality, or else the language is meaningless. So take sentence A above. The word "wrong" is being predicated or attributed to slavery. But if objective morality doesn't exit, then by definition of non-existence there is no rightness or wrongness in slavery itself, and thus there is no "wrongness" in slavery to which the sentence actually refers to.

Of course, everyone thinks that slavery really is wrong, so what the skeptic has to do is fall back on his own beliefs or society's beliefs. The wrongness isn't in slavery itself, but in our own perceptions (just as language about unicorns don't refer to unicorns themselves, which don't exist, but our perceptions of unicorns). But strictly, that means that all A type sentences are actually reducible to B type sentences. There is nothing in slavery to which the "wrongness" answers; the referent--what the word refers to--is my opinion about the object. Here, we can deny objective morality exists, but look at the cost. There really is nothing objectively wrong with slavery. There's just my opinion, and all language about ANYTHING being right and wrong is really just sort hand for my personal preferences.

But it gets worse, because B type sentences can be interpreted in one of two ways. Consider these two examples:
  • b1: I think slavery is wrong, meaning, I attribute wrongness to slavery itself
    b2: I think slavery is wrong, meaning, I prefer there be no slavery
Now, b1 clearly just reverts back to A type statements. Your opinion or judgment is that a particular moral notion ought to be predicated to the act itself. But as we have seen, if there is no objective moral reality, then such statements are meaningless. Thus, if there is no objective moral reality, then all B type statements must be reduced to b2 type statements. In other words, without objective moral reality, all we have left is not moral language, but statements of personal preference. Of course, statements of personal preference have no more moral force when applied to slavery than to ice cream. Consider, again, these two sentences:
  • b1': I think chocolate ice cream is wrong, meaning, I attribute wrongness to chocolate ice cream itself
    b2': I think chocolate ice cream is wrong, meaning, I prefer there be no chocolate ice cream
Now, b2' may be worded funnily, but we get what it is saying. It's just saying, "I don't like chocolate ice cream." But that isn't a moral statement. That's just a statement about my personal preferences. And here's the key--in b2 type statements, the language is predicated to the subject, never the object. We are talking about MY preferences, not about ice cream or slavery. The b1' statement is just stupid. It's built on a category error.

And that, I think, shows the idiocy of objections to the moral argument for God's existence. Objections are either thorough and honest, in which they deny ALL morality and thus ALL moral language, or else they use moral language anyway and commit a giant category error. For moral language, by its nature, is not about the subject but about the object. Statement A above is about slavery, not about me or my preferences or even my beliefs. And even b1 (an interpretation of B) is rooted in objective reality. "I think that (SLAVERY is wrong)."

Conclusion: the very existence of moral language attests to and requires the existence of objective moral reality. If there is no objective moral reality, then moral language is improper and meaningless because it answers to nothing in morality. That is, if objective moral reality doesn't exist, then no morality of any kind exists, and all moral language is meaningless.

By way of a plug, I discuss this in another way in a lecture available here (go to 57:38 - 1:03:07 on the lecture). As one of my students so eloquently and laconically put it, "One's fact, one's opinion."
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abelcainsbrother (Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:11 pm)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: In defense of objective morals

#2

Post by RickD » Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:57 pm

Jac,

I think you got a lot deeper in explaining what many of us have been trying to get our friend Kenny to understand. You've presented it in a way that really leaves no question to what is being said.

I wonder if Kenny has any meaningful response to this, other than subjectively disagreeing?
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24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Kenny wrote:
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Re: In defense of objective morals

#3

Post by abelcainsbrother » Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:15 pm

This is a good post Jac.I agree and don't think I could add anything to what you've explained so well.I do have a few questions to ask you but this is not the thread to do it,so maybe I will make a post addressing it.It is about the KCA Craig uses.
Hebrews 12:2-3 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,despising the shame,and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

2nd Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,lest the light of this glorious gospel of Christ,who is the image of God,should shine unto them.

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Re: In defense of objective morals

#4

Post by Kenny » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:42 pm

To use your example of slavery; to say it is objectively wrong would imply your claim as a fact. If it is a fact that slavery is wrong, how do you demonstrate this fact as true to a person who believe there is nothing wrong with slavery?

Ken
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Re: In defense of objective morals

#5

Post by Byblos » Fri Jul 10, 2015 6:42 am

Kenny wrote:To use your example of slavery; to say it is objectively wrong would imply your claim as a fact. If it is a fact that slavery is wrong, how do you demonstrate this fact as true to a person who believe there is nothing wrong with slavery?

Ken
Ontology versus epistemology. High time you learn the difference.
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Re: In defense of objective morals

#6

Post by Byblos » Fri Jul 10, 2015 6:47 am

Jac,

I don't disagree with the argument you presented per se. I'm just wondering if it can be used to prove the existence of anything the mind can conjure. Of course I'm not referring to things imagined or even privations such as evil but something more "concrete" such as a physical infinite chain (funny I use the word concrete to describe it).
Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

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Re: In defense of objective morals

#7

Post by Kurieuo » Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:01 am

Kenny wrote:To use your example of slavery; to say it is objectively wrong would imply your claim as a fact. If it is a fact that slavery is wrong, how do you demonstrate this fact as true to a person who believe there is nothing wrong with slavery?

Ken
Punch them in the face and kick them in the nuts while they're down.
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Re: In defense of objective morals

#8

Post by Kenny » Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:43 am

Byblos wrote:
Kenny wrote:To use your example of slavery; to say it is objectively wrong would imply your claim as a fact. If it is a fact that slavery is wrong, how do you demonstrate this fact as true to a person who believe there is nothing wrong with slavery?

Ken
Ontology versus epistemology. High time you learn the difference.
Still on the Ontology vs Epistemology thing huh? In the context of the analogy;

Ontology: “what is slavery”? Answer; ownership of another human being
Epistemology: How do you know slavery is wrong? So what is your answer?

Ken
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Re: In defense of objective morals

#9

Post by RickD » Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:26 pm

Kenny wrote:
Byblos wrote:
Kenny wrote:To use your example of slavery; to say it is objectively wrong would imply your claim as a fact. If it is a fact that slavery is wrong, how do you demonstrate this fact as true to a person who believe there is nothing wrong with slavery?

Ken
Ontology versus epistemology. High time you learn the difference.
Still on the Ontology vs Epistemology thing huh? In the context of the analogy;

Ontology: “what is slavery”? Answer; ownership of another human being
Epistemology: How do you know slavery is wrong? So what is your answer?

Ken
Because objective moral reality exists.
Conclusion: the very existence of moral language attests to and requires the existence of objective moral reality. If there is no objective moral reality, then moral language is improper and meaningless because it answers to nothing in morality. That is, if objective moral reality doesn't exist, then no morality of any kind exists, and all moral language is meaningless.
But of course you would've known that if you were paying attention. ;)
John 5:24
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Kenny wrote:
"You don’t need faith, logic, reason, proof, or anything else to be atheist, all you need to do is reject what someone told you."



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Re: In defense of objective morals

#10

Post by Kenny » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:33 pm

Kenny wrote:
Byblos wrote:
Kenny wrote:To use your example of slavery; to say it is objectively wrong would imply your claim as a fact. If it is a fact that slavery is wrong, how do you demonstrate this fact as true to a person who believe there is nothing wrong with slavery?

Ken
Ontology versus epistemology. High time you learn the difference.
Still on the Ontology vs Epistemology thing huh? In the context of the analogy;

Ontology: “what is slavery”? Answer; ownership of another human being
Epistemology: How do you know slavery is wrong? So what is your answer?

Ken
RickD wrote:Because objective moral reality exists.
So if someone asks you to prove slavery is wrong, that would be your reply? How well do you think that is going to go over? How many more dilemmas can be solved with “because objective morality exists”? Let’s see….
*How do you know Capital punishment is wrong?
*How do you know fascism is wrong?
*How do you know the use of Nuclear weapons during war is wrong?

All of these complicated questions can be answered with the simple answer of “because objective morality exists” Yeah; right!

RickD wrote:Conclusion: the very existence of moral language attests to and requires the existence of objective moral reality. If there is no objective moral reality, then moral language is improper and meaningless because it answers to nothing in morality. That is, if objective moral reality doesn't exist, then no morality of any kind exists, and all moral language is meaningless.
RickD wrote:But of course you would've known that if you were paying attention. ;)
You seem to be forgetting about subjective morality. It is both proper and meaningful to the person it is subjective to. If one person believes “X” is meaningful, “X” has meaning whether you agree with it or not.
But then of course you would’ve known that had you been paying attention.

Ken
Last edited by Kenny on Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In defense of objective morals

#11

Post by Kurieuo » Fri Jul 10, 2015 6:28 pm

Can't we just lynch those who disagree with some things being wrong.
Like those who disagree that having slaves is wrong?
Problem solved. Everyone now believes it is wrong.
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Re: In defense of objective morals

#12

Post by Kenny » Fri Jul 10, 2015 6:49 pm

Kurieuo wrote:Can't we just lynch those who disagree with some things being wrong.
Like those who disagree that having slaves is wrong?
Problem solved. Everyone now believes it is wrong.
Ya know; that might just work! You know how racists keep talking about the race war that's coming? Maybe we can start a moral war; just kill everybody who doesn't agree with you; then soon the only ones left will agree with each other. Tell you what' you start then we'll follow. (LOL)

Ken
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Kurieuo (Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:19 pm)
RickD wrote
"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence".

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Re: In defense of objective morals

#13

Post by Kurieuo » Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:21 pm

Kenny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:Can't we just lynch those who disagree with some things being wrong.
Like those who disagree that having slaves is wrong?
Problem solved. Everyone now believes it is wrong.
Ya know; that might just work! You know how racists keep talking about the race war that's coming? Maybe we can start a moral war; just kill everybody who doesn't agree with you; then soon the only ones left will agree with each other. Tell you what' you start then we'll follow. (LOL)
Yes! Woohoo, let's end racism!
Come on guys/gals! Who's with me!?
:comeon:

What if I promise virgins, wealth and free entry into heaven? :P

As a side question,
If the fact the people disagree on moral issues is considered evidence for objective moral values not existing,
does everyone now agreeing mean that objective moral values now exist?

y:-?
Last edited by Kurieuo on Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In defense of objective morals

#14

Post by RickD » Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:26 pm

Kurieuo wrote:
Kenny wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:Can't we just lynch those who disagree with some things being wrong.
Like those who disagree that having slaves is wrong?
Problem solved. Everyone now believes it is wrong.
Ya know; that might just work! You know how racists keep talking about the race war that's coming? Maybe we can start a moral war; just kill everybody who doesn't agree with you; then soon the only ones left will agree with each other. Tell you what' you start then we'll follow. (LOL)
Yes! Woohoo, let's end racism!
Come on guys/gals! Who's with me!?
:comeon:

What is I promise virgins, wealth and free entry into heaven? :P

As a side question,
If the fact the people disagree on moral issues is considered evidence for objective moral values not existing,
does everyone now agreeing mean that objective moral values now exist?

y:-?
No. Because Kenny is still alive, and he just disagrees with anything. :lol:
John 5:24
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Kenny wrote:
"You don’t need faith, logic, reason, proof, or anything else to be atheist, all you need to do is reject what someone told you."



St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony

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Re: In defense of objective morals

#15

Post by RickD » Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:29 pm

Kenny,

You screwed up the quotes in your post. Much of what you quoted Byblos as saying, I actually said.

I don't think Byblos wants my stupidity attributed to him.
John 5:24
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Kenny wrote:
"You don’t need faith, logic, reason, proof, or anything else to be atheist, all you need to do is reject what someone told you."



St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony

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