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Author Topic: Are there moral facts?  (Read 848 times)

EclecticWheel

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Are there moral facts?
« on: October 02, 2017, 08:59:55 pm »
I have been in dialogue with a person who claims that there are moral facts in the world even if in certain cases we cannot always discover them or live up to the best ideal.  I have yet to be convinced by his arguments.  I am not saying that he is necessarily wrong -- I just have not been convinced by him.

Do you believe that moral beliefs are correct or incorrect, that there are moral facts to be discovered?  Or that morality is a subjective social construct?  That morality contains an element of the arbitrary?  Or something else?

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2017, 09:35:00 pm »
Do you believe that moral beliefs are correct or incorrect, that there are moral facts to be discovered?  Or that morality is a subjective social construct?  That morality contains an element of the arbitrary?  Or something else?

This, in bold.

For humans to function together in a social group, certain conventions need to be established. Which is why very similar codes of morality keep arising in very disparate cultures--because the human needs that give rise to them are universally human.

But that doesn't make them universal or fundamental to the universe. Just needed for us.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2017, 09:45:26 pm »
This, in bold.

For humans to function together in a social group, certain conventions need to be established. Which is why very similar codes of morality keep arising in very disparate cultures--because the human needs that give rise to them are universally human.

But that doesn't make them universal or fundamental to the universe. Just needed for us.
Not construct but contract


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EclecticWheel

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2017, 10:05:49 pm »
Not construct but contract


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That is the precise word I was thinking of pondering these issues today.  I tend toward the position that moral facts are not needed as social creatures, just contracts.  One advantage to this is that instead of seeing morality as static we can approach it as a contract that we improve and tweak over time.  Absolute authority is not a factor.

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2017, 10:18:26 pm »
That is the precise word I was thinking of pondering these issues today.  I tend toward the position that moral facts are not needed as social creatures, just contracts.  One advantage to this is that instead of seeing morality as static we can approach it as a contract that we improve and tweak over time.  Absolute authority is not a factor.
I have to admit, i was searching for the accurate word, my husband immediately came up with it.  His example was Nazi Germany. Because their social contract said these 'outsiders' (their concept) were the problem with Germany's economy, they had no problem with the concentration camps.   That is a simplification of what he said, but typing on the phone makes me brief. ;)


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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2017, 11:46:10 pm »
Do you believe that moral beliefs are correct or incorrect, that there are moral facts to be discovered?  Or that morality is a subjective social construct?  That morality contains an element of the arbitrary?  Or something else?

As usual, I am going to take the contrary position and say that there are indeed moral absolutes which are universal, even beyond our species. I identify those absolutes with the nature and character of my God...but I don't believe that they were simply arbitrary decrees. I believe that, in his quest to reach out and relate to the entire scope of Reality, he has along the way discovered what works and what doesn't. And that, if you can show him that your stand is better than his on a moral issue, he is willing to change.

But he will not change capriciously. You have to be prepared to PROVE you are correct. A 51%...or even 91%...popular vote, or five of nine court justices, does not even come close to constituting proof. An unjust law is still unjust even if it only adversely affects one individual. In fact, I would argue that an unjust law which only affects a tiny minority is even more unjust because of that very fact.

Now, societies can and often do choose to disregard what my God sees as absolutes. I believe that he gives a lot of leeway to allow societal choices to bear their proper fruit. But when that fruit is destructive or deceptive, there will eventually be accountability for all concerned. IMNSHO, of course.
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Morbid

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2017, 02:47:34 am »
I have been in dialogue with a person who claims that there are moral facts in the world even if in certain cases we cannot always discover them or live up to the best ideal.  I have yet to be convinced by his arguments.  I am not saying that he is necessarily wrong -- I just have not been convinced by him.

Do you believe that moral beliefs are correct or incorrect, that there are moral facts to be discovered?  Or that morality is a subjective social construct?  That morality contains an element of the arbitrary?  Or something else?

Human society is a series of social contracts between other humans.  They're not hard fast rules, but going against the grain so to speak can result in negative consequences.  For instance, if you were a pirate, you'd have a completely different set of "morals" than someone on the up and up of society.  But those "morals" would fit within your social contract of being a pirate and would generally be accepted in your community, if not the greater society.  Generally speaking I don't slap my coworkers on the rear when they pass by but in sports this is fairly accepted practice. 
For he who has truly lived never truly dies.

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2017, 04:57:33 am »
I have been in dialogue with a person who claims that there are moral facts in the world even if in certain cases we cannot always discover them or live up to the best ideal.  I have yet to be convinced by his arguments.  I am not saying that he is necessarily wrong -- I just have not been convinced by him.

Do you believe that moral beliefs are correct or incorrect, that there are moral facts to be discovered?  Or that morality is a subjective social construct?  That morality contains an element of the arbitrary?  Or something else?

I say no. The problem with objective morality is that no one here is an objective observer, so we would never be able to actually see this objective morality objectively.

Sefiru

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2017, 06:38:09 pm »
I have been in dialogue with a person who claims that there are moral facts in the world even if in certain cases we cannot always discover them or live up to the best ideal.  I have yet to be convinced by his arguments.  I am not saying that he is necessarily wrong -- I just have not been convinced by him.

Oof, this reminds me of a Very Bad Thread I participated in some years back, on this same question. Fortunately I'm now better able to articulate my thoughts:

Since morals are part of the subjective side of human experience, facts don't come into it; what there are instead are moral narratives. That said, "our morals are objectively right" seems to be a strong narrative to support a moral system with, considering how often it's used.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2017, 09:56:28 pm »
Since morals are part of the subjective side of human experience, facts don't come into it; what there are instead are moral narratives. That said, "our morals are objectively right" seems to be a strong narrative to support a moral system with, considering how often it's used.

Certainly I get strong feelings that my morals are the right ones, but I am not sure how I could actually discover them as facts like I can other existent things in this world.

To assert that morals are objectively discoverable facts I feel that one is on some level saying to the universe, "You ought not to be that way:" because fundamentally matter simply behaves the way it does when constituted as individual life forms.

The universe simply acts the way it does as a whole and in its parts.  As a whole the universe doesn't act according to a moral code.

The universe doesn't always behave the way we think it ought to whether we're talking about natural evils like hurricanes or the myriad of factors that produce murder in bits of the universe that have come together to create individual life forms.

Nevertheless morals are useful for living together in society as noted, but given the way moral codes change across time, cultures, and religions the simplest explanation I've come to is that they are a social product.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2017, 10:12:21 pm »
Certainly I get strong feelings that my morals are the right ones, but I am not sure how I could actually discover them as facts like I can other existent things in this world.

To assert that morals are objectively discoverable facts I feel that one is on some level saying to the universe, "You ought not to be that way:" because fundamentally matter simply behaves the way it does when constituted as individual life forms.

The universe simply acts the way it does as a whole and in its parts.  As a whole the universe doesn't act according to a moral code.

The universe doesn't always behave the way we think it ought to whether we're talking about natural evils like hurricanes or the myriad of factors that produce murder in bits of the universe that have come together to create individual life forms.

Nevertheless morals are useful for living together in society as noted, but given the way moral codes change across time, cultures, and religions the simplest explanation I've come to is that they are a social product.

To clarify my point: obviously we might recondition the behavior of a person through negative and positive reinforcement. We cannot use such methods to curb environmental evils.

But I think moral evils are similar to natural evils in that behavior is accountable in some way even if we do not know all factors involved.  (If behavior is not accountable then it has no relation to our desires, intentions, etc.)

Insofar as behavior is accountable passing judgment on it as *objectively* immoral is like declaring a lightning strike on someone as morally evil.

Of course we can still judge other social creatures' behavior as immoral in the context of morality as a social context.

Looking things on the grandest scale, though, the universe (including any spiritual or transcendent aspect of it) has produced what it has from stars and space and time all the way down to biological species and their behavior, and I see no evidence of the universe having moral intent in that.  It is we that care, not the universe taken as a whole.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2017, 10:15:03 pm by EclecticWheel »

EclecticWheel

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2017, 10:17:10 pm »
To clarify my point: obviously we might recondition the behavior of a person through negative and positive reinforcement. We cannot use such methods to curb environmental evils.

But I think moral evils are similar to natural evils in that behavior is accountable in some way even if we do not know all factors involved.  (If behavior is not accountable then it has no relation to our desires, intentions, etc.)

Insofar as behavior is accountable passing judgment on it as *objectively* immoral is like declaring a lightning strike on someone as morally evil.

Of course we can still judge other social creatures' behavior as immoral in the context of morality as a social context.

Looking things on the grandest scale, though, the universe (including any spiritual or transcendent aspect of it) has produced what it has from stars and space and time all the way down to biological species and their behavior, and I see no evidence of the universe having moral intent in that.  It is we that care, not the universe taken as a whole.

Correction: in the context of morality as a social contract**

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2017, 01:15:03 am »
I have been in dialogue with a person who claims that there are moral facts in the world even if in certain cases we cannot always discover them or live up to the best ideal.  I have yet to be convinced by his arguments.  I am not saying that he is necessarily wrong -- I just have not been convinced by him.

Do you believe that moral beliefs are correct or incorrect, that there are moral facts to be discovered?  Or that morality is a subjective social construct?  That morality contains an element of the arbitrary?  Or something else?

I see *some* morality as objective and divine, and believe that some moral laws come directly from God. I know this is a controversial viewpoint and that many people will be angry at me for thinking this, but it is what I believe: Human culture does not create right and wrong; there are universal, inalienable, human rights and universal moral laws, which stem from a higher power, and which are found in some form in nearly every known society.

That said, there are many so-called moral laws which are, in reality, merely cultural laws and taboos. Beliefs which are specific to one cultural group, or to one individual, and which stem from one's own conscience. These beliefs are still important, and one should strive to respect the cultural mores of other people, and should always follow ones own conscience, but I don't think that one should project their personal ethics and morals onto others.

So, I think that both can exist. There are absolute moral laws, found in almost all cultures, such as the prohibition against murder, rape, slavery, and the protection of free expression and religion. On the other hand, beliefs about sexuality, diet, or family responsibility, as well as many other beliefs, are culturally constructed and should not be enforced upon all people or all societies.
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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2017, 01:30:58 am »
I see *some* morality as objective and divine, and believe that some moral laws come directly from God. I know this is a controversial viewpoint and that many people will be angry at me for thinking this, but it is what I believe: Human culture does not create right and wrong; there are universal, inalienable, human rights and universal moral laws, which stem from a higher power, and which are found in some form in nearly every known society.

That said, there are many so-called moral laws which are, in reality, merely cultural laws and taboos. Beliefs which are specific to one cultural group, or to one individual, and which stem from one's own conscience. These beliefs are still important, and one should strive to respect the cultural mores of other people, and should always follow ones own conscience, but I don't think that one should project their personal ethics and morals onto others.

So, I think that both can exist. There are absolute moral laws, found in almost all cultures, such as the prohibition against murder, rape, slavery, and the protection of free expression and religion. On the other hand, beliefs about sexuality, diet, or family responsibility, as well as many other beliefs, are culturally constructed and should not be enforced upon all people or all societies.

I should clarify that when I say "God" I mean "The Godhead/Brahman/The Universal Absolute."

The limitations that the English language place upon expressing Hindu concepts of divinity is very irritating. "God" could be Vishnu, or Shiva, or could be used as a collective term for the Devas, or for any number of other things. In this context, I am using it to mean the highest source of all creation and reality in the multiverse.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." - Sri Krishna

EclecticWheel

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2017, 03:02:15 am »
I see *some* morality as objective and divine, and believe that some moral laws come directly from God. I know this is a controversial viewpoint and that many people will be angry at me for thinking this, but it is what I believe: Human culture does not create right and wrong; there are universal, inalienable, human rights and universal moral laws, which stem from a higher power, and which are found in some form in nearly every known society.

That said, there are many so-called moral laws which are, in reality, merely cultural laws and taboos. Beliefs which are specific to one cultural group, or to one individual, and which stem from one's own conscience. These beliefs are still important, and one should strive to respect the cultural mores of other people, and should always follow ones own conscience, but I don't think that one should project their personal ethics and morals onto others.

So, I think that both can exist. There are absolute moral laws, found in almost all cultures, such as the prohibition against murder, rape, slavery, and the protection of free expression and religion. On the other hand, beliefs about sexuality, diet, or family responsibility, as well as many other beliefs, are culturally constructed and should not be enforced upon all people or all societies.

Why does a divine origin for morals make them objective?

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