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Argument from Conscience
#1
Argument from Conscience
I recently learned of an interesting apologetic argument. I think it has some merit, but I have never seen it presented on AF before:

1) Each person is obligated to follow his or her moral conscience.
2) The human conscience is the product of something: either instinctual nature, the individual, society, or divine.
3) No one is morally obligated to follow instinct since instincts easily fail upon rational consideration.
4) No one individual’s conscience is absolute and morally binding on others.
5) Individual consciences cannot be added together unless each person relies on their own conscience to feel morally obliged to the group. Thus it is functionally equivalent to individual conscience as a source.
6) The only remaining source is something that transcends nature, the individual, and society. Such a source must be divine.

I must say that the argument would apply equally to any divine source, whether it is the Abrahamic God or the Greek Pantheon. Also, I'm not sure what to think of the first premise; it seems self-evident. There is the possibility that moral conscience comes from none-of-the-above, but I am hard pressed to say what that may be.
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#2
RE: Argument from Conscience
This might sound dumb but what does the word, instinct mean in relationship to your third rule? The word, instinct makes me think of an urge that can't be overruled, like dogs trying to mate with a bitch in heat. Could you give an example for number three?
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#3
RE: Argument from Conscience
Two big logical issues occur to me within 5 seconds:

1) Obligated by what? I actually don't think this is fatal, or really all that important.

2) The equivocation of "obligated" (in 1) and "morally obligated" (in 3). That's a big, big jump. Even if premise 1 is true, premise 3 is a non sequitur, and thus the conclusion fails unless we define "moral obligation" (and assume or prove it exists). I am 99% certain this will collapse into the argument over whether there is a source of morality external to humans. Of course, when that collapse occurs, the argument becomes circular: 6) there is an external source of conscience ONLY IF (additional premise) there is an external source of morality. That statement's vacuous.

Essentially, I think this argument is logically equivalent to the question of external morality, an issue that has been discussed ad nauseum here.
How will we know, when the morning comes, we are still human? - 2D

Don't worry, my friend.  If this be the end, then so shall it be.
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#4
RE: Argument from Conscience
Uggh double post
How will we know, when the morning comes, we are still human? - 2D

Don't worry, my friend.  If this be the end, then so shall it be.
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#5
RE: Argument from Conscience
Evolved moral instincts plus experience and reasoning=way of life preferable to pervasive murder and mayhem.
I'm not anti-Christian. I'm anti-stupid.
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#6
RE: Argument from Conscience
I know it's ridiculous, but I'd suggest the brain is responsible.
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#7
RE: Argument from Conscience
(August 3, 2015 at 2:40 pm)Nope Wrote: This might sound dumb but what does the word, instinct mean in relationship to your third rule? The word, instinct makes me think of an urge that can't be overruled, like dogs trying to mate with a bitch in heat. Could you give an example for number three?
We've got a bitch in heat right now, no overruling here. It's becoming exhausting.
I don't have an anger problem, I have an idiot problem




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#8
RE: Argument from Conscience
My first problem is with the first premise.  What reason is there to believe that it is true?  And what is a "moral conscience" as opposed to just a "conscience"?  Why would one be obligated to follow one's conscience?  And does everyone have such a thing (a conscience) at all?

Frankly, I am suspicious that the first premise is false, even if it is meaningful, which isn't clear either.

I have problems with pretty much every other premise as well, but this should be enough to give the idea that I am unimpressed.

"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence."
— David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section X, Part I.
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#9
RE: Argument from Conscience
Quote:I recently learned of an interesting apologetic argument. I think it has some merit

Yes.  An apologist would think that.  They are easily swayed by anything that purports to show "if x then GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


Confirmation bias, much?
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#10
RE: Argument from Conscience
(August 3, 2015 at 2:40 pm)Nope Wrote: …what does the word, instinct mean …The word, instinct makes me think of an urge that can't be overruled,…Could you give an example for number three?
Involuntary reactions (like blinking) would not have any moral significance. Instinct here applies to psychological motivators and inhibitors like self-preservation, sexual desire, parental protectiveness, deferring to authority, etc.
(August 3, 2015 at 2:41 pm)TRJF Wrote: 1) Obligated by what?
That’s a good question. I think the answer is one of the choices in premise 2. A person is obligated by nature OR he is obligated by himself…etc. The point on Premise 1 is to establish that there is an obligation to follow your conscience regardless of why someone has a conscience in the first place.
(August 3, 2015 at 2:41 pm)TRJF Wrote: 2) The equivocation of "obligated" (in 1) and "morally obligated" (in 3). That's a big, big jump. Even if premise 1 is true, premise 3 is a non sequitur, and thus the conclusion fails unless we define "moral obligation"
One can only be obliged legally or morally. In the context of the argument, I think only moral obligations count, since everyone knows that legal obligations are established by those in power.
(August 3, 2015 at 2:41 pm)TRJF Wrote: … the argument becomes circular: 6) there is an external source of conscience ONLY IF (additional premise) there is an external source of morality…Essentially, I think this argument is logically equivalent to the question of external morality…
What makes the argument both interesting and different is that the question isn’t “Isn’t from where do people get their morals?”; but rather, “From where do people get their conscience?” The first centers around whether commandments/imperatives are binding even if they go contrary to what we personally want, feel, or believe. The latter question admits that we do have a sense of right and wrong that guides our behavior and informs (or overrides) cultural taboos, self-interest, cultural taboos, laws, and intellectual ethical systems.
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