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Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
#1
Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
During a recent romp through Wikipedia, I discovered an interesting passage:

Quote:Moral nihilism, also known as ethical nihilism, is the meta-ethical view that morality does not exist as something inherent to objective reality; therefore no action is necessarily preferable to any other. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is not inherently right or wrong.

Other nihilists may argue not that there is no morality at all, but that if it does exist, it is a human construction and thus artificial, wherein any and all meaning is relative for different possible outcomes. As an example, if someone kills someone else, such a nihilist might argue that killing is not inherently a bad thing, or bad independently from our moral beliefs, because of the way morality is constructed as some rudimentary dichotomy. What is said to be a bad thing is given a higher negative weighting than what is called good: as a result, killing the individual was bad because it did not let the individual live, which was arbitrarily given a positive weighting. In this way a moral nihilist believes that all moral claims are void of any truth value. An alternative scholarly perspective is that moral nihilism is a morality in itself. Cooper writes, "In the widest sense of the word 'morality', moral nihilism is a morality."

I found this rather thought-provoking (the last bit that said "moral nihilism is a morality"). This seems to suggest that moral realism may be inescapable... because every brand of moral skepticism carries with it some undercurrent of moral thinking.

Any thoughts on this?
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#2
RE: Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
Could we gain any further insight as to how nature works by excluding ourselves from this proposal?

EG, in the animal kingdom?

Does the laws of the universe automatically bind us to any sort of morality just because we are capable of thinking about it?

Theists, no skydaddies please.
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#3
RE: Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
(May 12, 2019 at 12:07 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: I found this rather thought-provoking (the last bit that said "moral nihilism is a morality"). This seems to suggest that moral realism may be inescapable... because every brand of moral skepticism carries with it some undercurrent of moral thinking.

Any thoughts on this?
I suppose it would depend on the type of nihilism.  The differences between error theory and truth-aptness are profound.  I will say this, though...if we read will to power, we find an interesting notion played out even in little discussions like these.  While a nihilist might contend that the moral structures of our societies are meaningfully arbitrary, that morality as practiced is meaningfully arbitrary, it also carries the implication that this state of affairs deserves[i] to be exposed.  

If that where the only implication of nihilism, it would be enough to qualify as a moral system with a limited scope.  Meta-ethical moralizing over moral systems.  



[/i]
(May 12, 2019 at 12:22 am)ignoramus Wrote: Does the laws of the universe automatically bind us to any sort of morality just because we are capable of thinking about it?
In a sense, no matter what the meta-ethical position, yes.  Not just because we're capable of thinking about some things, but because compulsion is an effect that manifests itself in us and that we (by definition) have little control over.  We can (sometimes) overide our compulsions, but we all understand that this enterprise will be uncomfortable for us.  In that way, whatever it is that makes us compellable, if it reduces to the machinery of natural law, automatically binds us to whatever compelling propositions we hold to be true. Both a bug and a feature, lol.

Ask yourself, what is it that makes you incapable of not believing or feeling the way you do about some strongly held moral conviction (true, false, or non-apt, meta-ethically). Assume that nihilism is true in this world. That doesn't change or alter the experience. There's something that makes us feel the way that we do about moral agency, even if that something is a false intuition. Camus took this route after the acknowledgement of nihilism. Just as in will to power, above, there was another set of what must be done. The absurdity must be lived. The essential contradiction of mans existence does not exist without man. You do it, you live it - even while fully accepting the futility of task, and this allows you to be happy.

In any case, returning to the original question, IDK that -every- nihilist proposition could be characterized as a moral system, but it's certainly true that nihilism can express itself as a sort of alternate objective moral theory. In this it fails at it's own task regardless of it's truth content. Or maybe it just fails entirely. Nietzsche proposed that a person wasn't authentically in state until they had a mind to put shoulder to the destructive plow (which, frankly, none of us are, we will all cling to and protect -some- portion of our moral contents), whereas Camus..ironically, added futility to nihilism in an end run while castigating other meta-ethical theories for the same. Both presented themselves as realist views of anti-realism.
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a battle to commence then KPLOW, I hit em with the illness of my quill, Im endowed..with certain unalienable skills....  

-ERB


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#4
RE: Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
(May 12, 2019 at 12:07 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: During a recent romp through Wikipedia, I discovered an interesting passage:

Quote:Other nihilists may argue not that there is no morality at all, but that if it does exist, it is a human construction and thus artificial, wherein any and all meaning is relative for different possible outcomes.

I found this rather thought-provoking (the last bit that said "moral nihilism is a morality"). This seems to suggest that moral realism may be inescapable... because every brand of moral skepticism carries with it some undercurrent of moral thinking.

Any thoughts on this?

Language can be used in different ways to make different points, so I can see arguing both sides: that nihilism both is and isn't a morality.

However, if all a moral system can tell me is to go along with what my culture says is moral, since it's all arbitrary anyway, then I will be looking for other answers elsewhere.
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#5
RE: Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
What your culture says is moral relativism, which isn't (necessarily) arbitrary in the sense meaningful to moral nihilism.

Here's a q, that doesn't get alot of play, if relativism and/or nihilism leaves a person looking elsewhere for moral propositions, what "elsewhere" is there to look toward?
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a battle to commence then KPLOW, I hit em with the illness of my quill, Im endowed..with certain unalienable skills....  

-ERB


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#6
RE: Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
"That way the fallacy of the stolen concept lies."

Ultimately, worldviews are built upon individual truth apt propositions but are not necessarily reducible to all or a subset of them. This is a process of developing a model of the world and its behaviors and the individual propositions are simply descriptive components of that model. In that sense, a worldview which does not grant the existence of moral truths is every bit as much a worldview with a moral component as one that asserts that there are moral truths. They both have stances toward the existence of moral objects and so in that sense are moralistic, if not necessarily moral systems. I think it is the sum of the propositions, the model or worldview of reality which needs to be characterized as a whole, as it is not necessarily going to be captured in any of the pieces.

This is also why I have some qualms about the idea that atheism is simply the lack of belief. They may indeed lack that necessary proposition, though many, including many so-called agnostic atheists implicitly hold to a model of the universe that does not include a god. I think it may be a bit disingenuous to hold that you lack a belief in god, yet ascribe to a model of reality that does not include gods. But I could be wrong. I haven't explored very far down that path.
[Image: ak_botan_saionji_005.jpg]
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#7
RE: Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
Moral nihilism might be something to consider on an individual level (mental exercise) but I can't think of a single society that has it as a basic philosophy.
God(s) and religions are man made and the bane of humanity. 

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most. Ozzy or Twain/take your pick
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#8
RE: Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
(May 12, 2019 at 11:08 am)Gae Bolga Wrote: Here's a q, that doesn't get a lot of play, if relativism and/or nihilism leaves a person looking elsewhere for moral propositions, what "elsewhere" is there to look toward?

Well, let's say someone just became and atheist and wanted to investigate alternative ethical systems to get away from theistic morality.  Per Wikipedia, he has a range of choices including nihilism:

Ethical theories that can be naturalistic https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_naturalism
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#9
RE: Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
(May 12, 2019 at 2:36 pm)Alan V Wrote: Well, let's say someone just became and atheist and wanted to investigate alternative genuine ethical systems to get away from theistic morality.  Per Wikipedia, he has a range of choices including nihilism:

Ethical theories that can be naturalistic

FTFY
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#10
RE: Is Moral Nihilism a Morality?
(May 12, 2019 at 12:18 pm)Jörmungandr Wrote: This is also why I have some qualms about the idea that atheism is simply the lack of belief.  They may indeed lack that necessary proposition, though many, including many so-called agnostic atheists implicitly hold to a model of the universe that does not include a god.  I think it may be a bit disingenuous to hold that you lack a belief in god, yet ascribe to a model of reality that does not include gods.  

Thank you. I've been trying to argue for this position a long time. I'm glad you articulate it in this way.
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