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Author Topic: Are there moral facts?  (Read 3548 times)

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2017, 03:53:30 am »
Why does a divine origin for morals make them objective?

That depends on your perspective, I guess. If there is *one* source of all reality, of all consciousness, of all life, I think that source can speak with authority about what is or is not true. That is what Brahman is in my belief system, and that is true for the monotheistic God of many other religions as well.

If the Godhead is the source of all reality, responsible the physical world and all it's laws, and responsible for the very existence of life, and for the concept of morality, then I would assert that this being knows how people are supposed to behave to achieve the intended outcome of the experiment that is the physical universe. What does the concept of "right" as opposed to "wrong" mean, if it doesn't mean functioning as intended?
"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." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2017, 12:39:07 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?

The whole real vs relative argument is problematic from the beginning, because morality is both. They may start as opinion; however, there are real (not subjective) consequences to morals, good and bad.


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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2017, 07:40:56 pm »
That depends on your perspective, I guess. If there is *one* source of all reality, of all consciousness, of all life, I think that source can speak with authority about what is or is not true. That is what Brahman is in my belief system, and that is true for the monotheistic God of many other religions as well.

I can't help but think of the "death of the author" literary criticism approach and all of the related complex of forms of analysis that note that what the author meant to put on the page does not necessarily relate to the story that other people derive from it.
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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2017, 02:03:28 am »
I can't help but think of the "death of the author" literary criticism approach and all of the related complex of forms of analysis that note that what the author meant to put on the page does not necessarily relate to the story that other people derive from it.

I reject death of the author! Perhaps that says something about my values, but I always look for the intended message of the artist, not my own interpretation of what it could mean.

That said, I think in the case of a cosmic creator, that the creator *could* indeed be wrong about morality. That is not possible if you believe in a creator who is omnipotent omnibenevolent, but creator Gods do not necessarily possess ominibenevolence in all belief systems.

To me, the idea that "God got it wrong" smacks of Dystheism and/or Maltheism, which are valid (if somewhat bleak) outlooks on the world, but which I don't personally accept. I choose to think that God is good, and that God knows best, because the alternative is too frightening to consider.
"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." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2017, 02:31:26 am »
I reject death of the author! Perhaps that says something about my values, but I always look for the intended message of the artist, not my own interpretation of what it could mean.

That said, I think in the case of a cosmic creator, that the creator *could* indeed be wrong about morality. That is not possible if you believe in a creator who is omnipotent omnibenevolent, but creator Gods do not necessarily possess ominibenevolence in all belief systems.

To me, the idea that "God got it wrong" smacks of Dystheism and/or Maltheism, which are valid (if somewhat bleak) outlooks on the world, but which I don't personally accept. I choose to think that God is good, and that God knows best, because the alternative is too frightening to consider.
I follow the Norse pantheon. Omnibenevolent?  No. Good?  Not necessarily. Knows best??  They don’t always agree, so not all do all the time. Without a single ‘godhead ‘ those concepts don’t work. Nor does omnipotent. Just sayin.


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Darkhawk

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2017, 12:36:35 pm »
That said, I think in the case of a cosmic creator, that the creator *could* indeed be wrong about morality. That is not possible if you believe in a creator who is omnipotent omnibenevolent, but creator Gods do not necessarily possess ominibenevolence in all belief systems.

I mean, I encounter a lot of people who claim their cosmic-creator style single god is omnipotent and benevolent in some fashion, and who advocate straight-up evil.  Either they're wrong or their god is.

(Fred Clark writes about this a lot, about the weird stuff that happens when his fellow Baptists realise that their own intuition about morality is more benevolent than their model of the divine.)
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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2017, 01:14:01 pm »
I follow the Norse pantheon. Omnibenevolent?  No. Good?  Not necessarily. Knows best??  They don’t always agree, so not all do all the time. Without a single ‘godhead ‘ those concepts don’t work. Nor does omnipotent.

I totally agree with you, it does not work for the Norse Gods. That's why I said that "creator Gods do not necessarily possess omnibenevolence in all belief systems." However, I think you are wrong about omnibenevolence and/or omniscience only working in religions with a single Godhead. There are some systems with plural, non-omnipotent Gods, where one or more of those Gods possesses one or both of those traits.

As an example, in Zoroastrianism, there are at least two separate Gods; one God who is omnibenevolent, and one God who is omnimalevolent. The good God, Ahura Mazda, is believed to possess omniscience as well as being omnibenevolent. Some people also ascribe omniscience to Ahriman, the evil God, along with omnimalevolence.

So, it is possible to have a belief system, like Zoroastrianism, where there are multiple Gods, who are not single or all-powerful, and yet still have Omnibenevolent or Omniscient entities. I believe that this is also true for some other religions like the Yoruba religion as well, not just Zoroastrianism.
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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2017, 01:26:58 pm »
I mean, I encounter a lot of people who claim their cosmic-creator style single god is omnipotent and benevolent in some fashion, and who advocate straight-up evil.  Either they're wrong or their god is.

From your point of view, their God is evil, and from their point of view, your morals are evil. It is impossible to know who is actually correct. They could be wrong about Good *and* God, and their God could be legitimately all-good. Or, they could be right about God, but wrong about Good, in which case Maltheism/Dystheism is true, and you are right. Or, the third option, YOU could be wrong about good, and they and their God could be right about morality.

In my mind, this is the biggest issue with morality. You cannot test it, you cannot KNOW what is morally right or wrong. Their might be moral facts, and indeed I think there are, but we have no sure way of finding those facts. How are we supposed to reconcile when we disagree, completely, with someone else's morality? How can we be sure we are right, and they are wrong, and how can we convince them? What happens when two different *religions* have different, and incompatible, moral systems and laws? I think it can create an irreconcilable conflict. There is simply no way to win an argument about morality, unless you are arguing with someone else who follows the same set of absolute morals as you do.
"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." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

MamaThistle

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2017, 01:43:04 pm »


In my mind, this is the biggest issue with morality. You cannot test it, you cannot KNOW what is morally right or wrong. Their might be moral facts, and indeed I think there are, but we have no sure way of finding those facts. How are we supposed to reconcile when we disagree, completely, with someone else's morality? How can we be sure we are right, and they are wrong, and how can we convince them? What happens when two different *religions* have different, and incompatible, moral systems and laws? I think it can create an irreconcilable conflict. There is simply no way to win an argument about morality, unless you are arguing with someone else who follows the same set of absolute morals as you do.

So there aren't real consequences to morals? Those aren't facts? Are morals and religion inseparable?

I agree that morals are subjective to a point, but you can measure good and bad outcomes.


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Goddess_Ashtara

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2017, 02:13:47 pm »
From your point of view, their God is evil, and from their point of view, your morals are evil. It is impossible to know who is actually correct. They could be wrong about Good *and* God, and their God could be legitimately all-good. Or, they could be right about God, but wrong about Good, in which case Maltheism/Dystheism is true, and you are right. Or, the third option, YOU could be wrong about good, and they and their God could be right about morality.

I follow the Norse pantheon. Omnibenevolent?  No. Good?  Not necessarily. Knows best??  They don’t always agree, so not all do all the time. Without a single ‘godhead ‘ those concepts don’t work. Nor does omnipotent. Just sayin.


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I do not use words like "omnibenevolent" simply because people's ideas of good and evil come off to me as inaccurate, reductive, often delusional (albeit artistic) attempts at understanding or conveying human Nature. Concepts of "omnipotence" and "omniscience", however... I find very interesting.

These concepts may seem so unfathomable to a human perspective.  I imagine a sentient, intellgent enough, hyper-advanced machine could easily calculate many methods of achieving this status.

For example, if an intelligent, hyper-advanced machine created a "simulation" of a universe, I'm sure it could program a way to be everywhere within it at once and see and know everything within it at once, if it wanted.  It might even decide to create boundaries and limitations for itself, for whatever reasons.  What humans call "videogames" in this era are actually the first stage of alternate reality.  Imagine the evolution of this technology one hundred, one thousand, or ten thousand years from now, the alternate realities that humans will construct, where its Creator(s) might exist as anything they wish, even a "god".  Imagine what a hyper-advanced machine could do with that technology.

No, omnipotence and omniscience are not impossible, in fact, it is incredibly likely that somewhere in the multiverse this status has already been achieved by some hyper-advanced form of life... probably by creating their own alternate universes where they can exist however they choose.
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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #25 on: October 08, 2017, 02:50:28 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?

On the surface, subjective ideas of "good" and "evil" appear to me as delusional and reductive attempts at interpreting and conveying human Nature. Despite this, they can add wonder and meaning to people's lives.  On a deeper level, these concepts can be utilized to institute Order over Chaos, and conquer people's hearts and minds by changing the way they believe.  So, despite not embracing these concepts internally, I have at times utilized these concepts externally to great effect.


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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #26 on: October 08, 2017, 04:12:04 pm »
So there aren't real consequences to morals? Those aren't facts? Are morals and religion inseparable?

I agree that morals are subjective to a point, but you can measure good and bad outcomes.

I am not saying any of that. I am saying moral facts are not testable. There probably *are* moral facts that the not subjective. The problem is that we cannot determine those facts; right and wrong cannot be measured or quantified, without changing the meanings of those terms so much they mean something entirely different.
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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #27 on: October 08, 2017, 04:20:40 pm »
I am not saying any of that. I am saying moral facts are not testable. There probably *are* moral facts that the not subjective. The problem is that we cannot determine those facts; right and wrong cannot be measured or quantified, without changing the meanings of those terms so much they mean something entirely different.

It wouldn't change the meaning. You can see morals as "right vs wrong," but aren't morals also "lessons." Which implies consequences (benefits and detriments), which can be measured in many cases (maybe not all). That's why I don't think that fact vs opinion (realism vs relativism) is the right argument. Morals are, or can be, both.


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EnderDragonFire

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #28 on: October 08, 2017, 05:01:58 pm »
You can see morals as "right vs wrong," but aren't morals also "lessons." Which implies consequences (benefits and detriments), which can be measured in many cases (maybe not all).

Are they? Can they? Throughout history, there have been many so-called martyrs. Quite often, bad people prosper and good people suffer, and there is no consequence for misdeeds or benefit for righteousness. I don't think morals are lessons at all. My experience does not show, nor I have never been thought, that good people prosper, or that goodness brings worldly benefits. Some philosophies and religions might claim this, but certainly its not universal.

I strive to be good to others because it is the *right* thing to do. I do not expect to gain anything in the mortal world because I am good. Doing good deeds can bring misery, suffering, ridicule, hardship, and can make life harder. Doing bad deeds can bring power, wealth, comfort, and can make life easier. I could name hundreds of examples of good people who have seen no benefit and who died without justice. Likewise, I could name hundreds of examples of evil people who never faced punishment and who died without rebuke. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people.

In my view, whether something is good or bad is constant and universal. The actual consequences of an action have no bearing on this. Rape is bad, theft is bad, murder is bad, slavery is bad, but all of these things can bring pleasure and profit to the person who commits these deeds. Likewise, charity is good, nonviolence is good, celibacy is good, and humility is good, but all of these things can cause hardship to the person who pursues them. They are good because they simply are.

I do believe there are consequences for being moral or immoral, mind you, but they are entirely spiritual and are confined to the afterlife. I believe that all evil deeds are punished, and all good deeds rewarded, after we die and before we are reborn again. However, this is not why morality matters; good does not matter because it rewards you, and evil does not matte because it harms you. It matters because good is *right* and evil is *wrong* and the consequences we face in the afterlife are only there to remind us of these truths, and to encourage right behavior.

That said, any spiritual or supernatural consequences our actions have, in the next world, cannot be measures. We cannot TEST if killing someone effects how we are judged when we are dead. So, I still say that morality is about right and wrong, and that the moral facts, the definition of what is right and wrong, cannot ever be known to us.
"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." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

MamaThistle

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Re: Are there moral facts?
« Reply #29 on: October 08, 2017, 05:16:25 pm »
Are they? Can they? Throughout history, there have been many so-called martyrs. Quite often, bad people prosper and good people suffer, and there is no consequence for misdeeds or benefit for righteousness. I don't think morals are lessons at all. My experience does not show, nor I have never been thought, that good people prosper, or that goodness brings worldly benefits. Some philosophies and religions might claim this, but certainly its not universal.

I strive to be good to others because it is the *right* thing to do. I do not expect to gain anything in the mortal world because I am good. Doing good deeds can bring misery, suffering, ridicule, hardship, and can make life harder. Doing bad deeds can bring power, wealth, comfort, and can make life easier. I could name hundreds of examples of good people who have seen no benefit and who died without justice. Likewise, I could name hundreds of examples of evil people who never faced punishment and who died without rebuke. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people.

In my view, whether something is good or bad is constant and universal. The actual consequences of an action have no bearing on this. Rape is bad, theft is bad, murder is bad, slavery is bad, but all of these things can bring pleasure and profit to the person who commits these deeds. Likewise, charity is good, nonviolence is good, celibacy is good, and humility is good, but all of these things can cause hardship to the person who pursues them. They are good because they simply are.

I do believe there are consequences for being moral or immoral, mind you, but they are entirely spiritual and are confined to the afterlife. I believe that all evil deeds are punished, and all good deeds rewarded, after we die and before we are reborn again. However, this is not why morality matters; good does not matter because it rewards you, and evil does not matte because it harms you. It matters because good is *right* and evil is *wrong* and the consequences we face in the afterlife are only there to remind us of these truths, and to encourage right behavior.

That said, any spiritual or supernatural consequences our actions have, in the next world, cannot be measures. We cannot TEST if killing someone effects how we are judged when we are dead. So, I still say that morality is about right and wrong, and that the moral facts, the definition of what is right and wrong, cannot ever be known to us.

The definition of morality is "a moral lesson."

I think you are confusing benefits and detriments with right and wrong. There are real consequences to murder, even though murder being right or wrong may be subjective. It starts as an opinion; however, the end result is measurable.

Also, I don't think morals are only relevant for afterlife. That implies that morals are only for those that believe in an afterlife.


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