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Why do we need morals?
#31
Re: RE: Why do we need morals?
(May 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm)dazzn Wrote: Morality undermines freedom. Who is "society" to undermine human/personal freedom?
when it infringes on the other person's freedom its immoral.
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#32
RE: Why do we need morals?
I find it difficult to describe "morality".

It has its uses, albeit pragmatical ones. I don't think there is an objective morality. There certainly are moral values, most (all?) of them are based on altruism, empathy, Mind Theory and suffering/joy. E.g. the Golden Rule is a recognition of the minds of others (Mind Theory) and their suffering/joy.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard P. Feynman
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#33
RE: Why do we need morals?
(May 12, 2013 at 10:59 pm)apophenia Wrote:
(May 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm)Darkstar Wrote: If no one thought there was anything wrong with theft, then yes, there would be lots of theft.

If no one thought of theft as wrong then it would no longer properly be theft. Whether patterns of exercise of control over property would change, perhaps somewhat, but probably not as much as we in our theft-defined-societies would expect, where doing such gains you an unfair advantage.



You have an excellent point. I did some thinking since my last post and I came to a similar conclusion. If you live in a communist society, it isn't that theft is acceptable, but in that the concept of theft itself is simply nonexistent. You can't steal someone's property if they have no property. So, I suppose, if one said there were a society in which theft were not immoral, I would think they were mistaken, and that it only appears this way because theft is not possible.

The reason that such a difference is possible is that property is not an objectively valuable thing. Humans aren't born with property (well, maybe an inheritance, but that is beside the point), and humanity survived its early days without such a concept (as most, if not all other animals do). Of course, just because something is natural/unnatural does not make it right or wrong, but because property is not an inherent part of people. The objects may be objectively valuable to serve a certain ends, but that does not necessarily provide enough of an objective basis to say that property is a human right.

The three unalienable rights were life, liberty, and property, but the last was changed to pursuit of happiness. Life is something all people have, and if you have no value for that, morality falls apart immediately. Valuing people in any way other than slaves ultimately leads to the other two (not property).

I know I never put these things as succinctly as you, so sorry if my post doesn't actually make any sense.
John Adams Wrote:The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.
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#34
RE: Why do we need morals?
(May 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm)Darkstar Wrote: The reason that such a difference is possible is that property is not an objectively valuable thing. Humans aren't born with property (well, maybe an inheritance, but that is beside the point), and humanity survived its early days without such a concept (as most, if not all other animals do). Of course, just because something is natural/unnatural does not make it right or wrong, but because property is not an inherent part of people.
The whole part of what is natural is not interchangeable with what is "right" sort of puts the lie to the idea of "innate rights" from the outset. You have life, that's natural, it's valuable to you (but perhaps not to another) and so calling it innate (not quite the same as inalienable, granted) is murky.

Quote: The objects may be objectively valuable to serve a certain ends, but that does not necessarily provide enough of an objective basis to say that property is a human right.
When something is valuable - for a given end- is is not objectively valuable, it's subjectively valuable. If something were valuable to all given ends it might be called "objectively valuable", imo. Property is a human right, in many places, but not innate, or objective. It's granted, established, maintained, enforced (and sometimes encroached upon). Goals and means, goals and means.

Quote:The three unalienable rights were life, liberty, and property, but the last was changed to pursuit of happiness. Life is something all people have, and if you have no value for that, morality falls apart immediately. Valuing people in any way other than slaves ultimately leads to the other two (not property).
Well, already mentioned a bit about this above..however, you can assign very little value to the life of another and morality still holds very well within the group you belong to (we're good at this). Its more likely that you have assigned a value to your own life - and then extended that value to the lives of others (in my case by again referencing the value I place upon my own and the consequences of denying the same to another), -and- a reason to value another's. Again, this isn;t something we're born with uniformly, and it wouldn't matter if we were.

Quote:I know I never put these things as succinctly as you, so sorry if my post doesn't actually make any sense.
I can;t speak for Apo, but I think you do very well.
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
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#35
RE: Why do we need morals?
(May 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm)Rhythm Wrote: The whole part of what is natural is not interchangeable with what is "right" sort of puts the lie to the idea of "innate rights" from the outset. You have life, that's natural, it's valuable to you (but perhaps not to another) and so calling it innate (not quite the same as inalienable, granted) is murky.
Well, life is innate, and the desire to live is (usually) innate. If it is not of value to another, then by their own system, you need not value their life, which is a situation where everyone loses (unless one of you is both suicidal and homicidal).
(May 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm)Rhythm Wrote: When something is valuable - for a given end- is is not objectively valuable, it's subjectively valuable. If something were valuable to all given ends it might be called "objectively valuable", imo. Property is a human right, in many places, but not innate, or objective. It's granted, established, maintained, enforced (and sometimes encroached upon). Goals and means, goals and means.
Fair enough. Perhaps I should have said not that certain things are considered human rights, but rather than the justification for considering them as such is self-evident, whereas the justification for property would require at least some explanation.
(May 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm)Rhythm Wrote: Well, already mentioned a bit about this above..however, you can assign very little value to the life of another and morality still holds very well within the group you belong to (we're good at this). Its more likely that you have assigned a value to your own life - and then extended that value to the lives of others (in my case by again referencing the value I place upon my own and the consequences of denying the same to another), -and- a reason to value another's. Again, this isn;t something we're born with uniformly, and it wouldn't matter if we were.
I strongly agree with the bolded section. One would think that this extension comes from empathy, which is usually seen as innate, but I suppose that you are probably right in saying that whether or not something is innate does not necessarily reflect whether or not it is moral. (As for assigning little value to the lives of others, this is just a selfish double standard)

Perhaps some confusion I have had is that when I say "objective morals" I mean something supported by good reasons, rather than some magical set in stone code of laws. When one asks what constitutes good reasons, it becomes trickier. We know objectively both that animals are capable of suffering (which, from our experience, is a bad thing to happen to someone), and that organisms tend to innately value their lives. Other than these...it gets messy.
(May 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm)Rhythm Wrote: I can;t speak for Apo, but I think you do very well.
Thank you. You aren't doing so bad yourself. I tried to have a discussion like this one with jstrodel and, well...it didn't work out.
John Adams Wrote:The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.
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#36
RE: Why do we need morals?
(May 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm)Darkstar Wrote: Well, life is innate, and the desire to live is (usually) innate. If it is not of value to another, then by their own system, you need not value their life,
If -your- life is not valuable to them - this says nothing as to whether or not -their- life is valuable to them, whether or not they extend value to your life based upon the value they assign to their own is an issue that touches on hypocrisy or reciprocity ( a whole host of unspokens, really), not directly upon whether or not they value their own.

Quote:Fair enough. Perhaps I should have said not that certain things are considered human rights, but rather than the justification for considering them as such is self-evident, whereas the justification for property would require at least some explanation.
I haven't seen any self evident rights, I've seen people claim them, but in each and every case -some explanation is required-, to me, anyway.

Quote: I strongly agree with the bolded section. One would think that this extension comes from empathy, which is usually seen as innate, but I suppose that you are probably right in saying that whether or not something is innate does not necessarily reflect whether or not it is moral. (As for assigning little value to the lives of others, this is just a selfish double standard)
As a little sidenote, I see empathy as an offshoot of self-interest. We imagine -ourselves- in the shoes of another and what -we- might feel exposed to what they have been exposed to and then reach some conclusion as to how it might affect -us-. Perhaps that's why I find the idea of saying "I don;t want x done to me, so I won't do it to you, because I can reasonably infer the consequences of doing x to you would be that x could be done to me in return."

Quote:Perhaps some confusion I have had is that when I say "objective morals" I mean something supported by good reasons, rather than some magical set in stone code of laws.
Those stone tablet laws are subjective as well, in that different stone tablets have upon them different scribblings - specific to the peoples who did the scribbling.

Quote:When one asks what constitutes good reasons, it becomes trickier. We know objectively both that animals are capable of suffering (which, from our experience, is a bad thing to happen to someone), and that organisms tend to innately value their lives. Other than these...it gets messy.
But...we don't "know objectively" what constitutes suffering, or why it is to be avoided...we don't know, objectively, how a life is valued and upon what metrics, or any means of deciding between two opposed metrics or values which to favor except by preference or by stated goal. I don't think it gets messy, I think that it starts that way and just keeps getting messier the farther we go - but I don;t think that this is a problem.

To put it another way. Coming up with a solution for a complex problem doesn't have to be clean - it would be nice, but it isn't required. A good example, between the two of us, is that since I;m just shooting for a goal our different ways of deciding that something is wrong are unimportant to me. The floor is littered with mess...but so long as we hit that target, I don't care. I'd say "whatever reason or intuition floats your boat is a-ok by me so long as we're going to reach this goal". People can opt out, of course, but then I no longer extend all of those courtesies and "rights" (which might explain why I'm such a pacifist as a civvy while having been a very eager combatant).
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
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#37
RE: Why do we need morals?
(May 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm)Rhythm Wrote: If -your- life is not valuable to them - this says nothing as to whether or not -their- life is valuable to them, whether or not they extend value to your life based upon the value they assign to their own is an issue that touches on hypocrisy or reciprocity ( a whole host of unspokens, really), not directly upon whether or not they value their own.
I suppose that is true. If they don't value anyone's life but their won, society will disintegrate, but there could still be the devaluing of human life in a tribalistic sense (us vs. them) that wouldn't destroy societies internally. If only people could see the "us" as all of humanity. Maybe they will someday...and we will be united in our racism against space aliens. Tongue
(May 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm)Rhythm Wrote: I haven't seen any self evident rights, I've seen people claim them, but in each and every case -some explanation is required-, to me, anyway.
Well, I suppose in the sense that the concept of rights must be explained, yes. The value of life seems self-evident (at least from the perspective of organisms), but framing it in the context of a right takes an additional step.
(May 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm)Rhythm Wrote: As a little sidenote, I see empathy as an offshoot of self-interest. We imagine -ourselves- in the shoes of another and what -we- might feel exposed to what they have been exposed to and then reach some conclusion as to how it might affect -us-. Perhaps that's why I find the idea of saying "I don;t want x done to me, so I won't do it to you, because I can reasonably infer the consequences of doing x to you would be that x could be done to me in return."
That may very well be the case.

(May 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm)Rhythm Wrote: Those stone tablet laws are subjective as well, in that different stone tablets have upon them different scribblings - specific to the peoples who did the scribbling.
Well, I was referring to one that was somehow magically perfect. Not that it could really exist...
(May 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm)Rhythm Wrote: But...we don't "know objectively" what constitutes suffering, or why it is to be avoided...we don't know, objectively, how a life is valued and upon what metrics, or any means of deciding between two opposed metrics or values which to favor except by preference or by stated goal.
Well, when I say "objective", I'm not referring to any objective metric per se, but rather...
Thinking Maybe I should use a different word...it's just that when I hear "subjective" I instantly think that is synonymous with arbitrary, for some reason. Maybe these theists are getting to me...
(May 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm)Rhythm Wrote: I don't think it gets messy, I think that it starts that way and just keeps getting messier the farther we go - but I don;t think that this is a problem.

To put it another way. Coming up with a solution for a complex problem doesn't have to be clean - it would be nice, but it isn't required. A good example, between the two of us, is that since I;m just shooting for a goal our different ways of deciding that something is wrong are unimportant to me. The floor is littered with mess...but so long as we hit that target, I don't care. I'd say "whatever reason or intuition floats your boat is a-ok by me so long as we're going to reach this goal". People can opt out, of course, but then I no longer extend all of those courtesies and "rights" (which might explain why I'm such a pacifist as a civvy while having been a very eager combatant).

Yes, I agree. The method for figuring right from wrong is not defined by any objective metric. If this is what is meant by "subjective", then I would agree to that. The only thing I wonder about is the goal of which you speak. Surely, one would think, there is some way that has at least a little objectivity by which we can determine how close we are to the goal (reasoning out a good moral rule) we are. But objective tools (i.e. utilitarianism, the golden rule, etc.) are applied subjectively (i.e. the decision of which tool to use is not objective).
John Adams Wrote:The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.
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#38
RE: Why do we need morals?
(May 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm)Darkstar Wrote: I suppose that is true. If they don't value anyone's life but their won, society will disintegrate, but there could still be the devaluing of human life in a tribalistic sense (us vs. them) that wouldn't destroy societies internally. If only people could see the "us" as all of humanity. Maybe they will someday...and we will be united in our racism against space aliens. Tongue
I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's high time that the rest of the universe felt the cold boot of human oppression.

Quote:Well, I suppose in the sense that the concept of rights must be explained, yes. The value of life seems self-evident (at least from the perspective of organisms), but framing it in the context of a right takes an additional step.
I think that maybe you're conflating the notion of value with a bioloical imperative. Our biological imperatives don't, in and of themselves, confer any objective value. The cheetah and the gazelle wish to have words with you as to whose biological imperatives confer more value to whose respective behaviours.

Quote:That may very well be the case.
Well, I mean, if pressed, it's the case for me, but again I don;t think of it that way every second of every day - at least not consciously. I like to ponder true altruism, unprofitable empathy, and behaviors otherwise pointed at as decidedly not self interested, it;s just that when you really get down to the brass tacks, self interest never seems as far away as one might hope.

Quote:Well, I was referring to one that was somehow magically perfect. Not that it could really exist...
Objectively true by brute force of powerful supernatural incantations. Idiotic notion, isn't it?

Quote:Well, when I say "objective", I'm not referring to any objective metric per se, but rather...
Thinking Maybe I should use a different word...it's just that when I hear "subjective" I instantly think that is synonymous with arbitrary, for some reason. Maybe these theists are getting to me...
Meh, maybe, that's their usual equivocation between the terms and what they imagine follows (the idea is to get you to swallow some bullshit about a term or claim that you find unpalatable in the hopes that you will then reject it - you see, as wish thinkers themselves..they know you're a wish thinker to your core as well..and they aim to exploit that). If something is subjective it would, by definition, not be arbitrary. If it's subjective it has to refer to something, the "subject". Nevertheless, subjective and arbitrary are often used interchangeably.

Quote:Yes, I agree. The method for figuring right from wrong is not defined by any objective metric. If this is what is meant by "subjective", then I would agree to that. The only thing I wonder about is the goal of which you speak. Surely, one would think, there is some way that has at least a little objectivity by which we can determine how close we are to the goal (reasoning out a good moral rule) we are.
Stated and well defined goals are pretty objective - the way to reach that goal may not be though. In my estimation working out what is right and what is wrong is very objective - even if the goal is subjective. I accept that I start with a preference, a potentionally irrational conjecture- what I do from there, that's what interests me. I agree, that if we could agree on a goal it would be much easier from there. We actually see the inklings of this in the whole divine reward song and dance. To achieve the goal of the grace of a god- people are entreated to do x, y, and z. The trouble is that the goal itself was trash, and how doing x y and z was supposed to achieve that goal (that could not be quantified) was then and remains to this very day...a complete mystery. I blame this on the people who wrote the stories..lol.

Quote:But objective tools (i.e. utilitarianism, the golden rule, etc.) are applied subjectively (i.e. the decision of which tool to use is not objective).
Yep, can't help but be ourselves when we go about trying to get something done. That's why I don't demand detachment from subjectivity or any peculiarly human quirk if we wanted to go about giving this shit another try in a more intentional way
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
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#39
RE: Why do we need morals?
This is one of the most long-winded threads I've come across. Perhaps that's because morality is an abstract concept, and as such is open to individual interpretation. Consider this example:
"It's wrong to kill your neighbor. Why did you do it?"
"He was trying to kill me."
"Ok, then it was justified."

Against this example:
"It's wrong to kill your neighbor. Why did you do it?"
"He was stealing my TV."

Depending upon what state you're in in the US, this could be legal or illegal. Both sides have a valid argument - your resources directly effect your ability to survive, but the punishment was not in proportion to the crime.

Moreover, when cultures disagree with each others's morality on a large scale, what happens? WAR!

I agree with Sam Harris that morality is at it's base, linked to the well-being of conscious creatures, but I do not agree with it being objective.
Thinking
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#40
RE: Why do we need morals?
Legality and illegality are not directly interchangeable with morality and immorality, in our system.

Conflicting moralities are, historically, a focal point of conflict, but the confict itself in most of these cases generally arises from something other than morality. "These people are evil" seems to follow -after- we made the decision to go to war, as a justification, an excuse, but sometimes, granted, before or during the decision, as pretext.

Again, a goal based compromise would seem to offer some way to alleviate this. Of course, the goal sought after could be complete adherenece to one or the other sets of conflicting moralities, we find ourselves at an impasse.

Shoot em.

(these threads are always long winded, nothing wrong with that)
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
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