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Monday, November 27, 2017

Morality is objective

Again and again, we see that the rationales and justifications offered by atheists for their disbelief simply don't stand up to even cursory philosophical analysis. (This is not to say their disbelief is not genuine, merely that its cause is seldom rooted in the explanations provided.) While on the emotional side, atheism may be little more than social autism, on the intellectual side, it appears to be primarily a combination of historical and philosophical ignorance.

Consider the following exchange:
AB: some people, psychopaths especially have no capacity for moral reasoning and no moral agency.

VD: Of course they do, if you define morality correctly. The fact that psychopaths have no EMPATHY does not mean they have no moral agency, because morality does not depend upon empathy.

AB: I think understand what you are saying but I simply cannot grok the idea fully as I cannot see morality as objective.
This is little more than a failure to understand what morality is, because while the existence of God is nominally disputable, the objectivity of morality is not, and more importantly, cannot be disputed.

The definitions of morality refer us to the definition of moral, which is given a follows:
  1. of, relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong;
  2. expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct, as a speaker or a literary work.
  3. founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom.
  4. capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct: a moral being.
  5. conforming to the rules of right conduct
Now, if "the fundamental principles of right conduct" are not mere legalities, enactment, or custom, then they must be objective, for the obvious reason that if the standard for right conduct is subjective, then no such standard exists, not being a fundamental principle. Morality not only is not subjective, it cannot be subjective, because a subjective fundamental principle is both an oxymoron and an actual contradiction in terms.

A psychopath has both a capacity for moral reasoning and moral agency because he is capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct even if he does not feel any empathy for others. He can even conform to the Golden Rule; even a psychopath knows how he prefers to be treated himself.

AB's fundamental mistake is that he confuses the concept of a personal ethos with morality. But a personal ethos is an ersatz morality and is no more a system of universally applicable rules than a preference for calling pass plays over running plays or playing man-to-man defense instead of zone are official NFL rules.

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275 Comments:

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Blogger Brad Richards November 27, 2017 5:41 AM  

"if 'the fundamental principles of right conduct' are not mere legalities, enactment, or custom, then they must be objective, for the obvious reason that if the standard for right conduct is subjective, then no such standard exists"

Huh? Clearly no such objective standard exists. Different cultures have vastly different standards for "right conduct". Some tribes are cannibles, others won't eat pork, some individuals won't eat meat at all. Some cultures believe in stoning rape victims for adultery, others don't. Some cultures believe in throwing drug users in jail (or not). Some believe that prostitution should be illegal (or not), abortion should be illegal (or not).

The list goes on. The believers are utterly convinced of the rightness of their views, and the utter evil of anyone who disagrees. There is demonstrably no objective standard of morality.

Anonymous Rien November 27, 2017 5:42 AM  

evolution == morality.
There can be no evolution without morality.

Then again, I am an atheist christian...

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 5:46 AM  

Huh? Clearly no such objective standard exists.

I see you cannot comprehend what you read. What part of "fundamental principles" and "not mere legalities, enactment or custom" did you not understand?

The believers are utterly convinced of the rightness of their views, and the utter evil of anyone who disagrees. There is demonstrably no objective standard of morality.

No, you are observably not intelligent enough to participate in this discussion, as you are incapable of understanding the difference between a fundamental principle and a cultural custom. The fact that one culture may say "two" and another may say "pik-pok" does not change the fundamental principle that one plus one will always equal two.

Blogger The Kurgan November 27, 2017 5:48 AM  

So you're ok with someone raping you to death because they enjoy it then?
Or doing it to your child?
Because if there is no OBJECTIVE standard of right action then all actions are equal and none are "better" or "worse" than any others.

I'm asking you a direct question, as per the rules of the blog answer:

Is raping a small child to death equivalent morally to eating a ham sandwich?

Is not, why not?
Please don't tell me about your own subjective and thus irrelevant opinion. We are men of science and logic, are we not, so we are only interested with fundamental and objective reality.

Blogger SteelPalm November 27, 2017 5:51 AM  

I DO think it's possible to have a coherent system of morality as an unbeliever, but I agree it's exceedingly rare. For the reason that most people are idiots and the average atheist is no more intelligent than the average believer, and his reasons for being atheist are usually spurious and emotional.

That's the annoying part about most atheists; they are no more intelligent or morally superior than believers (and possibly less so), yet they consider themselves enlightened beings.

Blogger wreckage November 27, 2017 5:53 AM  

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/31/life-before-artificial-light
The most informative part is the idea of segmented sleep. The time between sleeps was accompanied by feelings of security, or lust, or spirituality. This was humanity's natural rhythm until electric light, more or less, and urban/rural patterns of spirituality follow the adoption of electric light.

The brutal truth is, atheism is a sleep disorder.

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 5:56 AM  

I DO think it's possible to have a coherent system of morality as an unbeliever, but I agree it's exceedingly rare.

It's not. At most, it is theoretically possible to have a coherent personal ethos. In fairness, a believer can't have his own coherent system of morality either. Morality is akin to mathematics. It is something fundamental to be discovered, not a construct that is developed.

Anonymous Alice De Goon November 27, 2017 5:56 AM  

Sad, I mean, Brad Richards, I am reminded of a story concerning India at the time of the British occupation. A group of Indian villagers were defiantly grumbling to a British officer that they were going to continue their custom of "suttee" - ie: the burning of widows on their husband's funeral pyre. The British officer replied that he too had a custom that he was going to follow: the hanging of those who practice suttee.

Just because a culture puts a custom into practice, that doesn't mean that it is right or objectively moral. To embrace atheism fully is to realize that nothing really matters in the long run if you refuse to rescue the widow from the funeral pyre, and that what the villagers are doing isn't objectively wrong. If you were raised in an environment that practiced suttee, you would even think it a necessary evil. The only reason you would object to suttee is because you were raised in an environment where such practices are considered wrong or immoral, and chances are pretty good that that environment was Christian or one derived from Christian values.

You're too short for this ride, Tad, I mean, Brad...

Blogger Phillip George November 27, 2017 5:58 AM  

in other words if Tebow plays football or baseball, it's to win.
Unless he plays to throw the game, inwhich case, his win isn't what we think it is.
ethics Vs morality. QED.

Blogger Samuel Nock November 27, 2017 5:58 AM  

I thought Stephan Molyneux did an admirable job in his book Universally Preferable Behavior: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics. (Although I am not an atheist.)

http://cdn.media.freedomainradio.com/feed/books/UPB/Universally_Preferable_Behaviour_UPB_by_Stefan_Molyneux_PDF.pdf

Anonymous Rien November 27, 2017 6:01 AM  

@10 That book stands and falls with "universally". Which is exactly what the postmodernists will attack. And probably what AB will reject.

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 6:03 AM  

That book stands and falls with "universally". Which is exactly what the postmodernists will attack. And probably what AB will reject.

It is as erroneous to reject the concept of a universal morality as it is to reject the concept of a universal mathematics.

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 6:05 AM  

Psychopaths have moral agency precisely because they can choose to ignore morality without any obvious corporeal consequences unless they are caught. People with empathy need a compelling reason to do that sort of risk/benefit analysis.

Blogger Phillip George November 27, 2017 6:08 AM  

What if secular is a figment of Steve's torrid imagination?
We need ethics that can be weighed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. A quantum of caring has to be half of two of them.

Blogger 1337kestrel November 27, 2017 6:13 AM  

The other option is that there is no morality at all; but bringing that up triggers most atheists hard.

Other than stating basic scientific definitions (“Evolution is a theory”), arguing that atheism implies complete licence is the fastest way to poke the hive.

Anonymous Ages November 27, 2017 6:22 AM  

Considering that perhaps 98-99% of humans who have ever lived have believed in the Divine (in some form or another), I have always been forced to conclude that atheists are somehow deficient.

It actually is a lot like autism. An autistic person is not capable of grasping certain things about being a social creature, while many atheists are simply not mentally capable of receiving the general revelation that is obvious to the rest of us.

It’s sad. Atheism is another kind of mental illness that is foisted upon people by society.

Anonymous Looking Glass November 27, 2017 6:26 AM  

@13 Rocklea

Some psychopaths are pretty decent people. It's a failure of that "ouch" response when you see someone hurt themselves. They don't have emotional connections to the effects on others of what they do, but that doesn't make them necessarily evil or even that much of a problem.

Every Surgeon you've ever met actually qualifies. We teach people to be psychopaths to a high degree because it's a useful skill. Just don't let them start torturing animals.

Anonymous Looking Glass November 27, 2017 6:28 AM  

@6 wreckage

I'd say it's not a sleeping disorder, but that artificial light allowed a certain group of people to thrive in societies they otherwise would not have.

Blogger Stephen November 27, 2017 6:30 AM  

Morality is an emotion, a combination of various instincts some suppressed and others exaggerated by the culture you are brought up in. A psychopath who lacks these emotions may choose to follow cultural norms because he does not want to go to prison or loose status. But you can not trust him if you are between him and something they he wants when he thinks he can get away with it. Odds are he will. Sub criminal psychopaths thrive anywhere back stabbing is rewarded.

To protect your children is obviously a very strong instinct/emotion that evolution has selected for obvious reproductive advantages. But a mutant completely lacking those instincts simply wont give a shit what happens to those children, even if you give them a lecture about the value of children or the future unless those lectures stir some other emotion they still have.

Your emotions tell you what you want while your rational mind merely answers the question of how to achieve those goals. The art of persuasion is often dressed up in the language of reason but it always relies on triggering emotions if you want to persuade someone. So a very rational argument may reason out the long term consequences of an action but you still have to like or dislike the long term consequences emotionally for that argument to have any effect. As humans have a whole bunch of different instincts/emotions adapted for different situations. Cultures or persuaders can convince people quite different things are moral or immoral by making people feel certain emotions at certain times and contexts. But cultures are also subject to Darwinian selection if they are to last any length of time.

Anonymous MIG November 27, 2017 6:33 AM  

Morality is based on the concepts of Right and Wrong. Right and Wrong are Christian ideas. Other cultures have ideas that roughly correspond to “good conduct” and “bad conduct,” which means that they have ethical systems of conduct, but not morality, in the sense of the Western Christian understanding of the term. I recommend the writings of Rene Girard, a Christian philosophical anthropologist, on the subject of morality as someone who has a profound understanding of these questions.

Blogger Stephen November 27, 2017 6:35 AM  

So VD defines morality as being objective so therefore morality must be objective. That is up their with Feminists saying that Feminism is about equality because of their personal definition of the word Feminism.

Anonymous Patron November 27, 2017 6:36 AM  

It's be fascinating to see you & Stefan Molyneux have a back and forth on this point.

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 6:37 AM  

Morality is an emotion, a combination of various instincts some suppressed and others exaggerated by the culture you are brought up in. A psychopath who lacks these emotions may choose to follow cultural norms because he does not want to go to prison or loose status. But you can not trust him if you are between him and something they he wants when he thinks he can get away with it. Odds are he will. Sub criminal psychopaths thrive anywhere back stabbing is rewarded.

You are making precisely the same mistake that AB did. You can no more legitimately redefine morality as an emotion than you can redefine it as a color or a dance routine. Indeed, it would be more honest if you chose one of the latter options, because the utter silliness of your position would be more apparent.

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 6:38 AM  

So VD defines morality as being objective so therefore morality must be objective.

I don't write the dictionary, you utter moron. Your posturing may rise to the level of midwit, but your intelligence does not.

Anonymous Rien November 27, 2017 6:39 AM  

It occurs to me that the big divide could be the problem that some people look at morality as a moment in time, while other look at morality as something over time.

If you take a picosecond, and then try to define morality, you are missing the bigger picture and any conclusion you arrive at will be wrong.

Taking apart a subject and trying to find what makes it tick does not always work. Sometimes you have to stand away and look at it all.

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 6:46 AM  

"I thought Stephan Molyneux did an admirable job in his book Universally Preferable Behavior: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics. (Although I am not an atheist.)"

His basis for UPB is self ownership. The right to do what you want with your own body providing you are not imposing your will on others, and by extension, the right of ownership of that which you produce, be it labour or goods and IP. You end up with negative ethics and some reasonable thou shalt nots.

Which universalises to anarchy. Right system wrong species. What makes Stefan Molyneux's UPB work, is Stefan Molyneux. He is a skillful debater and his call in shows are good to listen to. However, an ethos that has nothing to say about what you should do if you see your neighbours dog walking down the street, somewhat misses the mark. People have legitimate positive claims on each other, and morality mediates.

Blogger Blade November 27, 2017 6:48 AM  

I believe what VD is saying here is that atheists don't believe in morality at all, and misattribute the term to personal ethics. So if you argue against the existence of objective morality, such as some commentators on here, it's actually an argument against morals as a whole.

Blogger Brad Richards November 27, 2017 6:49 AM  

Ad hominem attacks, instead of reasoned discourse, even from VD. Disappointing.

VD: I see you cannot comprehend what you read. What part of "fundamental principles" and "not mere legalities, enactment or custom" did you not understand?"

You failed to comprehend what I wrote. My point is that there are no objective fundamental principles. There are only customs. I was, and am, disagreeing with your assertion.

Granted, I strongly believe that some customs are better than others. I have my belief system. So, to Rien's question:

Rien: Is raping a small child to death equivalent morally to eating a ham sandwich?

It's rather obvious: no. However, the muslim soldiers raping young boys apparently have a different opinion. I think they're scum. Presumably most people on this forum think they're scum. They think their prophet told them it was fine.

Just because a culture puts a custom into practice, that doesn't mean that it is right or objectively moral.

The members of that culture will disagree with you.

Look, I like a quote from Reginal Bretnor: "All cultures are most certainly not of equal value - and the more clearly we understand them, the more obvious that becomes..."

I believe that our culture is better. However, members of other cultures think that *their* cultures are better. What I'm seeing in some of the comments here is a complete inability to understand that simple fact.

I like Alice's reference to the British occupation of India (comment 8). However, do note that the British were able to assert their position - not because it was morally superior - but because they had the military power to do so.

Claiming that "fundamental principles" exist, and that those principles justify exactly what you believe? How convenient. Do note that this is exactly the argument used by all sorts of unsavory types over the centuries. Perhaps not the intellecual company one really wants to keep.

Blogger S1AL November 27, 2017 6:52 AM  

'Claiming that "fundamental principles" exist, and that those principles justify exactly what you believe? How convenient.'

It's actually significantly less convenient than believing that morality doesn't exist.

Or did you not realize that?

Anonymous MIG November 27, 2017 6:54 AM  

Morality was “discovered” by Christianity, according to Girard. One of his books is called “Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World.”

Anonymous E Deploribus Unum November 27, 2017 6:55 AM  

I thought Stephan Molyneux did an admirable job in his book Universally Preferable Behavior: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics. (Although I am not an atheist.)

I like Stefan, so I read it through three times in the effort to see his point. I eventually concluded there is no "there" there.

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 6:57 AM  

"Claiming that "fundamental principles" exist, and that those principles justify exactly what you believe? How convenient. Do note that this is exactly the argument used by all sorts of unsavory types over the centuries. Perhaps not the intellecual company one really wants to keep."

Yes, like the fun loving communist atheists.

Blogger Samuel Nock November 27, 2017 7:00 AM  

@26 "an ethos that has nothing to say about what you should do if you see your neighbour's dog walking down the street, somewhat misses the mark."

You are right that his proof focuses entirely on the _not doing_ of evils, rather than on the doing of the good. (I searched the term "kindness" after reading your comment, and it only occurs once in a context not really about kind acts.) But the fact that he did not attempt that proof in UPB does not mean he couldn't make a similar proof for positive acts, and it would be interesting to see him try it. It is not that much of a stretch to logically intuit that, if my friend saw my dog walking down the street, I'd appreciate it if he notified me, so I'll do the same for him.

No doubt, though, you are correct: Molyneux's essay on UPB is all about the _negative_ Golden Rule, i.e. do not do unto others, things you would not want them to do unto you. Many traditions came up with that formulation, but only Christianity (Jesus), to my knowledge, came up with the _positive_ Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you). Which does tend to make the point that the highest ethical system requires an inherent dignity in the individual (made in the image of God), that goes well beyond mere "self-ownership".

Blogger Stilicho November 27, 2017 7:01 AM  

@26 and that sort of libertarian ethos eventually leads to a choice: do I wait for that enemy to hurt me and possibly kill me before I attack? Or do I do unto others lest I be done unto? The libertarian ethos can't answer the question by itself.

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 7:03 AM  

Ad hominem attacks, instead of reasoned discourse, even from VD. Disappointing.

You don't know what ad hominem is either. You have it backwards. You are clearly not very intelligent because of the ludicrous falsity of your statements. I am not saying that your argument is wrong because you are stupid, I am saying that you are observably not very smart because your argument is so hapless.

My point is that there are no objective fundamental principles. There are only customs. I was, and am, disagreeing with your assertion.

Then there is no such thing as morality. By definition. Do you assert that there is no such thing as morality or morals?

Blogger Jan Minář November 27, 2017 7:03 AM  

Is our host resorting to ad-hominems today?

Blogger Samuel Nock November 27, 2017 7:04 AM  

@33 "I eventually concluded there is no "there" there."

Any atheist, relativist, or even sociopath, would have a difficult time refuting his arguments in that book, which shows that it has its uses: For people not ready to accept religion, it is powerful, as a first step, to show that there is no rational basis for acting immorally.

Blogger Unknown November 27, 2017 7:05 AM  

Here's my proof of secular ethics: http://crafn.kapsi.fi/data/objective_ethics_latest.pdf

TLDR: Universal and objective (in two different senses) ethics can be defined in an exact form. Only the first three pages are required to conclude that morality is objective in the same sense as mathematics.

Blogger Koanic November 27, 2017 7:08 AM  

Even if morality were not objective, the Bible has no problem pronouncing judgement, by the simple trick of having the guilty party select the sentence for his own crime, slightly disguised.

Tribes would go right on judging and punishing their members according to their consensus evolved mores even if God absconded. The spider tribe might de-leg CrookFang for failure to devour her husband's head! (Lest the spider race devolve into a species of smooth-hissing male Lothariorachnids.)

Anonymous Gurpgork November 27, 2017 7:09 AM  

The subject of morality would be a nice topic for a podcast with Stefan Molyneux.

VD, when will you be on his show again?

Blogger SciVo November 27, 2017 7:13 AM  

Looking Glass wrote:Every Surgeon you've ever met actually qualifies. We teach people to be psychopaths to a high degree because it's a useful skill. Just don't let them start torturing animals.

That is "situational psychopathy" which may be distinguished from both the trait (which is a spectrum that everyone is on) and the personality disorder. Many professionals are trained in situational psychopathy, including not only medics but also cops, soldiers and lawyers. Because they do better for society as a whole by setting aside their feelz for the nonce.

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 7:14 AM  

Is our host resorting to ad-hominems today?

No. Look up the definition of argumentum ad hominem. You morons and midwits really need to stop using words and terms you don't understand. It doesn't make you look smart. It makes you look even dumber than you actually are.

Blogger Tuukka Pensala November 27, 2017 7:15 AM  

Here's my proof of secular ethics: http://crafn.kapsi.fi/data/objective_ethics_latest.pdf

TLDR: It's possible to define universal and objective (in two separate senses) ethics using exact language.

Only the first three pages are required to conclude that morality is objective in the same sense as mathematics is.

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 7:15 AM  

VD, when will you be on his show again?

No idea. Ask him.

Anonymous basementhomebrewer November 27, 2017 7:15 AM  

Brad Richards wrote:It's rather obvious: no. However, the muslim soldiers raping young boys apparently have a different opinion. I think they're scum. Presumably most people on this forum think they're scum. They think their prophet told them it was fine.

You ever have contact or read accounts of people who were steeped in black magic/ demon worship etc? I had a conversation with a Christian who was born in Zaire into tribal life. His tribe had a Shaman and they practiced black magic. His account is that he always felt it was wrong even though he had never had contact with anyone who explicitly told him that was the case until later in his life. I have heard/read similar accounts.

Culture can and does counteract objective reality. In many cases it is used to justify actions that people instinctively think are wrong. If you think those soldier raping those boys do not have personal misgivings then you are fooling yourself. Law/custom/culture may tell them it is "the right" thing to do but many of them will still feel guilty about it.


1337kestrel wrote:The other option is that there is no morality at all; but bringing that up triggers most atheists hard.

Other than stating basic scientific definitions (“Evolution is a theory”), arguing that atheism implies complete licence is the fastest way to poke the hive.


They get their knickers in a bunch because how can they posture about being morally superior to the Church if no morality exists? 90% of their argument against religion is made on a moral basis.

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 7:21 AM  

To be clear, Stefan Molyneux would take the dog back to its owner. UPB has nothing to offer on the matter.

Samuel Nock wrote:
"But the fact that he did not attempt that proof in UPB does not mean he couldn't make a similar proof for positive acts, and it would be interesting to see him try it."

Can't be done in the same way, there are no end to possible positive claims and if universalised we'd fairly soon hit some resource limitations. You can't get everyone to find a stray and take it home all day everyday, but you can not murder all day everyday. UPB was set to work independent of time and space at all times universally.

Anonymous ZhukovG November 27, 2017 7:26 AM  

It isn't about feelings or emotions. Two art critics may 'feel' very differently about a painting. However that does not change the fact that the painting exists.

If you were to ask the Afghan boy rapers if it is okay to sexually abuse children, they would say no it is wrong. They would also say that what they are doing does not constitute sexual abuse of children. But both of you agree that sexual abuse of children is wrong.

Blogger Samuel Nock November 27, 2017 7:27 AM  

@45 It's been a while since I read the book, and he may in fact have said that in the preliminaries. He distinguishes between ethical and aesthetic actions. I.e., it would be rude, gauche, to ignore a friend's stray dog; but it would not be immoral.

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 7:36 AM  

"He distinguishes between ethical and aesthetic actions. I.e., it would be rude, gauche, to ignore a friend's stray dog; but it would not be immoral."

According to UPB, yes. But according to Deuteronomy 22.4 Thou shalt not see thy brother's ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.

Blogger tublecane November 27, 2017 7:40 AM  

"psychopaths especially have no capacity for moral reasoning and no moral agency"

"I simply cannot grok the idea fully as I cannot see morality as objective"

Nevermind whether morality is actually objective (though it has to be; a system of subjective "my truth" morality is simply amorality). These statements don't track together, anyway.

What does the objectivity of morality have to do with psychopathology? Psychos possess the capacity to be both objective and unobjective, much like other humans.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine November 27, 2017 7:41 AM  

"I DO think it's possible to have a coherent system of morality as an unbeliever"

That depends on how you want to define "coherent".

If you mean "logical to the unbeliever", then no. There is no possible logical system of morality as an unbeliever. The closest substitute is a solipsistic "whatever's best for me" (in whatever time-frame they're focusing on). When Atheists say they have morals, what they really mean is that they have a systematized acclimation to the society surrounding them. Change the society and their "morality" will change with it. Remove the perceived detrimental effects of not conforming to this world... and an Atheist's "morality" will inevitably disappear as he breaks out of his former habits.

If you meant "coherent to the believer", see part two again. Acclimation to the surrounding society. They're bending to the will of God manifest through you and people like you because of the consequences you will enforce upon them if they do not.

"Stephan Molyneux did an admirable job in his book Universally Preferable Behavior: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics."

Ethics = Ethos. It's almost like an aesthetic. It's also totally arbitrarily defined by whatever individual holds it. "a Greek word meaning "character" that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology.".

I.E. the communist ethos, the cannibal ethos, the mudshark ethos, the outcast ethos!

...The canine ethos.

"The other option is that there is no morality at all; but bringing that up triggers most atheists hard."

Even if they're actually convinced of that they can't admit it. Almost anyone else's next logical step upon them admitting it would be to kill or enslave them because they are a competing and openly hostile life form. They wouldn't even be able to argue that it was wrong to do so.

"Morality is an emotion"

No.

"His basis for UPB is self ownership. The right to do what you want with your own body providing you are not imposing your will on others, and by extension, the right of ownership of that which you produce, be it labour or goods and IP."

And that's the chink in his armor as well. Where does a person's self-property end exactly? At the brain stem? At the skin? At the limits of how he is able to influence the world? At the extent of his descendants? At the outskirts of the human race?

There are actually good arguments to be made for all of the above and many more, and he would not be able to reasonably dispute them. His logic rests upon a convenient period of time, convenient quantities of power and control, and conveniently ignoring cause and effect.

"if you argue against the existence of objective morality, such as some commentators on here, it's actually an argument against morals as a whole."

It's either a claim that morality by definition does not exist, or a wordplay attempt to dismiss/ignore something that cannot exist within their paradigm.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine November 27, 2017 7:49 AM  

"My point is that there are no objective fundamental principles."

Then there is no morality. You're wrong, as displayed by your own self-contradiction:

"Is raping a small child to death equivalent morally to eating a ham sandwich?"

"It's rather obvious: no."


No? Why not? Because you don't like the feel of it? Because the child doesn't like the feel of it? But the rapist-murderer loves the feel of it! Whatever seems to be the matter? There's no morality by definition to you, no good and no evil, no beneficial or detrimental.

If there are no morals there can be no moral inequelity. Raping a child to death is precisely as moral to you as eating a ham sandwich because you do not believe that morals exist so there can be no moral value whatsoever to either action in your mind. Unless, that is, you are lying.

"All cultures are most certainly not of equal value"

What value can you possibly place on them, Brad? You cannot say that they are good or evil or "more good" or "more evil" because you don't believe in those things. You can only say that you don't like the actions and results of certain cultures, but what you like also has no objective value. It's totally solipsistic, you do what you feel like and you believe what you feel like and damn the torpedoes if anything should dare to step in the path of your hedonism. Full speed ahead!

"do note that the British were able to assert their position - not because it was morally superior - but because they had the military power to do so."

And from whence did that military power come? It came from their adherence to and proper utilization of the patterns and laws of reality. No one cares if you don't think morals exist. You're just wrong.

To where will you go upon death? From where have you come and to where shall you return?

"Do note that this is exactly the argument used by all sorts of unsavory types over the centuries."

The best lies contain the most truth.

Blogger Brad Richards November 27, 2017 7:50 AM  

VD: "You don't know what ad hominem is either. You have it backwards. You are clearly not very intelligent because of the ludicrous falsity of your statements. I am not saying that your argument is wrong because you are stupid, I am saying that you are observably not very smart because your argument is so hapless."

Do be careful, or we will have to conclude that you are not intelligent enough to understand the definition of the term: "Argument directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining".

VD, a bit later: " Look up the definition of argumentum ad hominem. You morons and midwits..."

Seriously, stop. You're embarrassing yourself.

Blogger Howard Stone November 27, 2017 7:52 AM  

For an atheist, ultimately morality is about self preservation, group preference, and what that group has democratically decided is good for the future preservation and prosperity of that group because what is good for the group is good for the individual.

The desires to behave accordingly with the decided upon morality is a survival mechanism in our minds which is a result of evolution. They say that this type of morality is something that is within us, or most of us, and it gets worked out into the world as we strive to survive and to thrive.

Basically, we learn from trial and error that it’s not okay to murder, and rape and steal because that creates victims, and victims create a weaker society that is more vulnerable to extinction.

So, if there are people such as psychopaths who have no ability to comprehend this morality, they still mostly can comprehend what the group believes is right or wrong, and if they cared at all about self preservation then they would adhere to that morality, and because we all believe in self preservation first and foremost we must submit to a moral society because a moral society is a safer society that ensures our survival, etc..., and different societies are going to have different morals based off of their circumstances.

So, in the end, morality is actually selfishness and we’re all involved in a Mexican standoff (is that racist?) with one another. The only reason I don’t kill my neighbor, rape his wife, and eat his children is because someone else will eventually kill me, I need my neighbor, his wife and children to be happy and healthy in order to ensure my own happiness and health, and so basically, in that way of thinking, it could be argued that we are all sociopaths. (Disclaimer, I don’t adhere to this type of thing).

This is however the way the world is, it is a fallen world full of selfish people who make up selfish societies, ruled ultimately by the law of the jungle or the beast system. Things like love, compassion, friendship are not real things, only chemical reactions and pain and pleasure responses, and ironically this kind of thinking in itself is detrimental to both individuals and society, because when these things like love etc.. no longer become real, then individuals and societies eventually and ultimately fall into depression and despair, which will weaken the society making it very vulnerable to extinction.

Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world, and that the world will hate Christians because it hated him first.

Blogger dc.sunsets November 27, 2017 7:54 AM  

Was not Christianity arguably the most coherent elevation of the common man to equal value within human life?

In this, it put kings, prophets and farmers on the same level of moral relevance within the context of universal (as in applicable to all) standing.

Society is impossible without certain observances being held by all; Christianity holds kings to the same standard as serfs (though no modern rulers feel so constrained.)

Such rules predate all religions and exist metaphysically ahead of them, for without universal observance a Hobbesian war of all against all must perpetuate.

Blogger Desdichado November 27, 2017 7:54 AM  

They get their knickers in a bunch because how can they posture about being morally superior to the Church if no morality exists? 90% of their argument against religion is made on a moral basis.

It is often a category error to argue with an atheist about philosophy. To really cut to the chase with most of them, it's usually more relevant to ask them which of their sins they are trying to justify and excuse.

Blogger tublecane November 27, 2017 7:56 AM  

@52-I look at post #3, and indeed he goes after you as a person: your intelligence and your reading comprehension.

But he attack you "rather than" addressing your argument. He does so in addition to addressing your argument. By heavy implication, if nothing else. (Though it wasn't nothing else).

Blogger tublecane November 27, 2017 7:58 AM  

@2-If you mean something like the human brain has to evolve in order to think up morality, no. That wouldn't make morality and evolution equivalent.

Not anymore than the need to evolve a human brain capable of understanding mathematics in order for there to be an intellectual discipline called "mathematics" would make mathematics and evolution equivalent.

Blogger Desdichado November 27, 2017 8:02 AM  

Brad Richards wrote:VD: "You don't know what ad hominem is either. You have it backwards. You are clearly not very intelligent because of the ludicrous falsity of your statements. I am not saying that your argument is wrong because you are stupid, I am saying that you are observably not very smart because your argument is so hapless."

Do be careful, or we will have to conclude that you are not intelligent enough to understand the definition of the term: "Argument directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining".

VD, a bit later: " Look up the definition of argumentum ad hominem. You morons and midwits..."

Seriously, stop. You're embarrassing yourself.

No, he's not. Getting some freebie insults in against someone who's not very bright is always a good policy. And then when said person actually IGNORES THE ARGUMENT THAT WAS MADE and can ONLY see the insults, it confirms to everyone else how justified that they were in the first place.

Blogger tublecane November 27, 2017 8:07 AM  

@55-If you don't feel like asking, just assume it's sexual degeneracy.

Current Year pseudo-morality is 99% protection of a favored way to get one's rocks off.

(Bruce Charlton is great on this subject in his book Thought Prison. Victims of PC believe in nothing and have only the doomed pursuit of pleasure to keep them alive. Robbing them of the hope of pleasure is like damning a Christian to hell.

See also E. Michael Jones' Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior.)

Blogger Koanic November 27, 2017 8:12 AM  

Obviously the moral thing to do is to euthanize people who believe morality isn't objective so as to improve racial IQ and altruism. Remember, if morality is subjective, then killing yourself can only be wrong if you fail.

Blogger dc.sunsets November 27, 2017 8:13 AM  

A human system that only applies "don't kill, don't steal" to the tribal level is the savagery of North America or Sub-Saharan Africa prior to European influence.

Civilization requires universal morality, and the highest civilization so far was the Christian West that peaked in the 19th century.

Its decline since then is in part due to mistaking equality-of-outcome as a moral principle. It is NOT. Inequality is a necessary physical condition, just as is time itself.

Blogger Ken Prescott November 27, 2017 8:17 AM  

Back when I had more hair and the music was better, a bunch of us Lance Coconuts were arguing about various things over adult beverages.

At one point, someone said that I was being moralistic and not practical.

I had an epiphany (and it wasn't even January 6th).

"Morality is the most practical thing there is, because it's about dealing with other people."

Nobody had anything else to say about it, so we turned to handicapping the various pennant races in MLB...

Anonymous Uncle John's Band November 27, 2017 8:21 AM  

Brad, your lack of intelligence isn't the argument. It's simply a conclusion. The "argument" is your inability to grasp the difference between morality and ethics. Maybe you're doing that deliberate linguistic slipperiness thing. Either way, stop digging.

Blogger Desdichado November 27, 2017 8:21 AM  

tublecane wrote:@55-If you don't feel like asking, just assume it's sexual degeneracy.
Usually a good bet. The point of asking isn't to actually find out; because usually I don't care. The point is to highlight the real reason for their atheistic stance. The pseudo-intellectual rationalizations always follow the sin, which is the real reason.

Blogger Resident Moron™ November 27, 2017 8:22 AM  

Samuel Nock wrote:I thought Stephan Molyneux did an admirable job in his book Universally Preferable Behavior: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics. (Although I am not an atheist.)

...


I think perhaps you're understanding "universally" somewhat differently here. In the relevant phrase, it is "universally preferred", and that means it is preferred by all humans.

When a Christian speaks of universal morality, or when a scientist speaks of universal laws of physics, they mean to say these things apply in all times and places in the entire (temporal and physical) span of the universe.

As Vox pointed out to you, if morality is not universal it is not moral, just as if a law is not universal it is not a law (of physics).

It doesn't matter if all humans want gravity to be half its current value, you're still going to smash your skull through your boot-heels when you jump off the Empire State Building.

Anonymous rien November 27, 2017 8:27 AM  

@57 I was pretty clear about what I said, why do you try to change it?

Morality and evolution have the same function: they shape the future. And to the extent we are talking about society, we could even say that they are the same thing.

If you look at evolution in an infinitesimal amount of time, then evolution seems to disappear. The same is true for morality.

Just about all the arguments against morality try to zoom in, which is why they all fail.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera November 27, 2017 8:27 AM  

The objectivity of morality follows from the definition. The universality follows from divine command theory. The existence of said objective, universal morality strikes me as less obvious, so I'm curious how Vox proves it.

Blogger dienw November 27, 2017 8:29 AM  

This concept was well covered in Edmund Burke's essay East India Company. The company reckoned that they could forgo objective morality which they considered to be mere British custom and could engage in commerce in India according to its customs.

C.S. Lewis also covered the question of objective morality vs custom and false religion.

The switch from morals to ethics in the "educated" community occurred shortly after the Supreme Court ruling on abortion; this is how we got the science ethics committees in ivy league universities.

Blogger Resident Moron™ November 27, 2017 8:35 AM  

@67

The universality of science follows from the definition. Has it ever been proven (CAN it be proven?) that everything that exists and everything that happens to everything that exists, has a natural explanation?

Does that bother you as much as the definition of morality?

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 8:38 AM  

"This concept was well covered in Edmund Burke's essay East India Company. The company reckoned that they could forgo objective morality which they considered to be mere British custom and could engage in commerce in India according to its customs."

You can't have curry without the cultural appropriation.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band November 27, 2017 8:48 AM  

Too many atheists want to be able to claim objective morality while rejecting metaphysics. They have internalized Western Christian morality without being smart enough to perceive the contradiction. They desire the self-indulgence of postmodern relativism without the integrity to face the nihilism that is the logical endpoint. They are intellectually inconsistent, which makes them dishonest, and therefore dangerous.

The virulence of the anti-Christianity (atheists always train fire on Christianity more than “religion”) is driven by feelings of smallness in the face of objective morality. Cultural relativists, on the other hand, are either too stupid to understand the morality/ethics difference, or have other motives.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd November 27, 2017 8:49 AM  

VD wrote:I am not saying that your argument is wrong because you are stupid, I am saying that you are observably not very smart because your argument is so hapless.

Brad Richards wrote:Do be careful, or we will have to conclude that you are not intelligent enough to understand the definition of the term: "Argument directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining".

Gamma and stupid is a bad combination. I wonder which is the dominant trait?

Blogger dienw November 27, 2017 8:50 AM  

Rocklea, that sounds good as it trips off the tongue doesn't it? But it doesn't hide the fact that you've missed the point; or, perhaps ignored it.

Blogger Stephen November 27, 2017 8:54 AM  

VD wrote:So VD defines morality as being objective so therefore morality must be objective.

I don't write the dictionary, you utter moron. Your posturing may rise to the level of midwit, but your intelligence does not.


I am more interested in what people call morality is. A definition of something that does not exist is all rather pseudo academic and useless. Pointing to a dictionary to make useless points is favorite hobby of feminists and other midwits.

Anyway the definitions you have pasted all seem to be referring to "right and wrong" they do not say this must be a non existent objective right and wrong. In my experience whenever people talk about "right and wrong" in that manner it is all about the feels.

Blogger dienw November 27, 2017 8:54 AM  

Gamma and stupid is a bad combination. I wonder which is the dominant trait?

Gamma is how one acts and presents oneself to the world: external; stupid is internal.

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 8:55 AM  

Speaking of morality, go to YouTube and in the search type in "How to hav" and see what autocomplete does.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd November 27, 2017 8:56 AM  

dienw wrote:C.S. Lewis also covered the question of objective morality vs custom and false religion.

The switch from morals to ethics in the "educated" community occurred shortly after the Supreme Court ruling on abortion; this is how we got the science ethics committees in ivy league universities.


Morality is absolutes: Right and Wrong. Ethics is what your society will let you get away with, right now.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band November 27, 2017 8:58 AM  

It's all one with the capital U Universe puffery in the Wilson post the other day, and other atheistic quests for meaning within a strictly materialist ontology. It's so moronic that it is irritating to have to consider.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band November 27, 2017 9:03 AM  

@ 74 Stephen

Start by contrasting Christian and materialist ontologies.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd November 27, 2017 9:03 AM  

dienw wrote:Gamma is how one acts and presents oneself to the world: external; stupid is internal

Stupid earnestly argues foolishness that is obviously foolish. Gamma snarks and changes the subject. Brad has shown a little of both.

Blogger dienw November 27, 2017 9:08 AM  

This posting is underscoring a weakness in the Alt-Right though it is a weakness in all movements: Those who do not accept the fact of Objective Morals cannot be trusted to remain loyal to the Alt-Right once their subjective ethics, that is motives, conflict with the Alt-Right.

The atheists breaking point is point number 4:"The Alt Right believes Western civilization is the pinnacle of human achievement and supports its three foundational pillars: Christianity, the European nations, and the Graeco-Roman legacy."

Anonymous a german November 27, 2017 9:08 AM  

Interesting. The definition of 'Moral' in German doesn't have the fundamental principle line neither the line about truth.

https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Moral

It immediately gives us that moral is depending on ones community.

(rough translation)
The total of ethic-moral norms, fundamental values, values, which regulate the interpersonal behavior in a community, which are accepted as obligatory in this community.

Which is the subjective definition VD doesn't see as valid.

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 9:15 AM  

"Rocklea, that sounds good as it trips off the tongue doesn't it? But it doesn't hide the fact that you've missed the point; or, perhaps ignored it."

It was an off the cuff comment intended to reflect some of the observable ills of "free trade". A case can be made that India is observably better off for being a former British colony. Can Briton say the same?

Blogger darrenl November 27, 2017 9:22 AM  

Yeah, it seems that the Athiests here confuse personal ethics with morality, both of which they frame as subjective in some sense. This is part if the reason why they have trouble explaining why they have an obligation to follow either, even if they are equal.

I've heard some say "evolution", one here said "emotion" to explain away where morality comes from, but that falls flat as nobody has an obligation to obey feelings nor to obey some...apparently..."blind" and "random" process.

Blogger The Kurgan November 27, 2017 9:27 AM  

You dodged the second part of the question.
Do try to be more honest.
And I'm Kurgan, not Rien.
Read properly.

you answered no.
I asked why not?
Objectively.
No one cares about your subjective belief or anyone else's. I specifically stated we are only interested in objective reality.

Either there IS an OBJECTIVE morality in which case the answer "no". Is fine and you are wrong about morality.

Or there is NOT an objective morality in which case you accept and believe raping a small child to death is equivalent to eating a ham sandwich. You can't have both. Now which is it?

Anonymous Avalanche November 27, 2017 9:33 AM  

@3 VD: "the difference between a fundamental principle and a cultural custom. The fact that one culture may say "two" and another may say "pik-pok" does not change the fundamental principle that one plus one will always equal two."

Sorry. Not getting it.

What, then is the morality in relation to "two" vs. "pik-pok"? And what is moral or immoral about one plus one equals two? Or is morality about what objectively IS? And thus for something to be fundamental principle it must ... exist tangibly? be testable?

There is (I think you're saying?) no fundamental principle in whether or not a people is cannibal. That's merely a cultural custom? Butt hen, why are not the other ... principals? ... you listed also merely custom? Child rape? Abortion? Maybe you ARE saying those are cultural customs?

(Not arguing, trying to work out the difference between principle and custom, and how one is morality and the other isn't?)

@7 VD: "In fairness, a believer can't have his own coherent system of morality either. Morality is akin to mathematics. It is something fundamental to be discovered, not a construct that is developed."

So, does a coherent system then rely on 'the group' (religion / structure)? If humans are still working out some math problems (and, have over some generations, 'worked out' the principles of mathematics -- does that mean there are also morality problems we may or may not have yet worked out? We "believe" this mathematical principle to be correct; but it could be falsified? So, is there moral fundamental principles we "believe" to be correct but they could be falsified? Is there an answer to a moral quandary scribbled in the margin of some book in some library somewhere, by someone who worked it out?

Anonymous CarpeOro November 27, 2017 9:36 AM  

Just an observation. When you use man as the measure of all things the results are going to vary to the that whatever is measured will become relative to the person. You will always fall short of coherency in the end. Only when you have a consistent god to measure things will you get results that can be relied upon. Basically why science didn't become a systematic study prior to the spread of Christianity. Works for morality also.

Anonymous CarpeOro November 27, 2017 9:37 AM  

"vary to the that"
supposed to be "vary to the point that"

Anonymous Avalanche November 27, 2017 9:40 AM  

@15 "The other option is that there is no morality at all; but bringing that up triggers most atheists hard.
Other than stating basic scientific definitions ("Evolution is a theory"), arguing that atheism implies complete licence"

Does your view of aethism, then, REQUIRE that the 'practitioner' have no loyalty to or desire to protect 'his own'? Complete license would require a willingness to, say, allow his children to be raped to death or eaten; rather than determining that his family, his genes, his 'biological matter,' should pass into the future; and therefore there are a host of strictures and requirements that follow therefrom?

Is that "just" practicality and therefore cannot be morality; or can "morality" be grounded (one plus one equals two) in a reasoned and reasonable discovery of a fundamental principle that protecting ones' kids is a "moral" goal?

Blogger James Dixon November 27, 2017 9:48 AM  

> In my experience whenever people talk about "right and wrong" in that manner it is all about the feels.

That says far more about the people you associate with than it does "right and wrong".

Anonymous Avalanche November 27, 2017 9:51 AM  

@17 "Every Surgeon you've ever met actually qualifies. We teach people to be psychopaths to a high degree because it's a useful skill. Just don't let them start torturing animals."

On the contrary, I believe that becoming a surgeon REQUIRES 'torturing' animals (human or other)! It's part of forming the "god-complex" that surgeons (most often) seem to need: to be willing to slice open another human and cut stuff out! A deadening of empathy is necessary to roll the dice on "is it better to practice a little vivisection here, or let the guy try to heal his body by himself"?

Back when I was in the ambulance corps, we used to freak out others in the dining hall, because we would be 'talking shop' while eating. WE were not bothered in the slightest by discussions of gore and things most people would recoil from, because to us it was just 'work product.' (We were NOT psychopaths!) Normal people would have to leave the area.

Is that psychopathy, or merely the requirement of the job? Does not every soldier have to learn to ignore both blood-and-gore AND his own fear of injury or death? Is that psychopathy or just the requirements of the job -- and has any of that anything to do with morality? (Is there a morality difference, then, between soldiers and gang-bangers?)

If morality is a fundamental principle to be discovered, then is it moral or not to use black humor to 'harden' oneself to the less appealing parts of a necessary job?

Blogger James Dixon November 27, 2017 9:53 AM  

> Does your view of aethism, then, REQUIRE that the 'practitioner' have no loyalty to or desire to protect 'his own'?

Oh, he can have loyalty, it's just that he has no rational basis for doing so.

Blogger CymantheTrueMan November 27, 2017 9:56 AM  

I believe Dr William Lang Craig explains the moral argument very well.

Blogger James November 27, 2017 9:58 AM  

There are those that call themselves atheists because they think it displays their "intellectual superiority". But, there is no such thing as an atheist. They know there is a God. They're just trying to piss him off into revealing himself.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer November 27, 2017 9:59 AM  

does that mean there are also morality problems we may or may not have yet worked out?

Actually, yes it does. The classic example is slavery. Up until a couple of centuries ago almost no one thought there was anything wrong with it. It was simply a fact of human existence. But as our understanding of morality improved it was realized that slavery was wrong. If there is no objective morality then there was absolutely nothing wrong about enslaving people in the past.

Anonymous Killua November 27, 2017 10:01 AM  

Several attempts have been made to establish an objective moral system.

Aristotle: Virtue Ethics. He argues that there is a single highest good that is desirable purely for its own sake. Aristotle says this happiness and it can be achieved through practicing virtues such as courage and wisdom.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Social Contract. It holds that individuals may freely agree to join together into a group in which each individual member, as well as the state as a whole, possesses certain rights and responsibilities. Each individual agrees to surrender a certain amount of his or her freedom in return for protection and other benefits.

Immanuel Kant: The Categorical Imperative. Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.

Herbert Spencer: Evolutionary Ethics: Our moral sense is an evolutionary adaptation for living together in social situations. You get social Darwinism out of it

All in all most moral systems seem like more elaborate versions of the Golden Rule: treat others as you would wish to be treated

Blogger Metric November 27, 2017 10:01 AM  

If morality is "objective" and "universal" and "something to be discovered" in a sense "akin to mathematics," then you are referring to the fact that the same conclusions always follow from the same proposed rules. I can program a robot with moral principle A and you can program a robot with moral principle B, and none of the universality and objective truth of morality is lost -- everyone can still prove and agree (just as in mathematics) what the results will be, if we work hard enough at it. But none of that tells us which is "better," just as mathematics doesn't tell us whether octonions or quaterions are the "better" division algebra.

Presumably, this is not good enough for you, and you'd like to actually like to something about A and B that is decidedly not akin to mathematics at all.

OpenID widlast November 27, 2017 10:02 AM  

It can be boiled down to this - "right/moral" actions are those that do not result in harm. Since whether harm is caused or not is an objective value, morality is objective also. One of the issues I often see is that those who don't like the idea of objective morals aren't too fond of objective reality either.
It galls them that "reality" doesn't give a damn how they "feel".

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 10:07 AM  

"Does your view of aethism, then, REQUIRE that the 'practitioner' have no loyalty to or desire to protect 'his own'? Complete license would require a willingness to, say, allow his children to be raped to death or eaten; rather than determining that his family, his genes, his 'biological matter,' should pass into the future; and therefore there are a host of strictures and requirements that follow therefrom?"

Your very questions assert that their is indeed a law, an objective morality. How are laws made? The question is not, are atheists moral, clearly some are. The question is, why?

Anonymous Jill November 27, 2017 10:10 AM  

This is why, philosophically, I determined I was a fundamentalist and not a conservative. A liberal society that rejects fundamental principles is incoherent. It will fall apart, usually at its most fundamental base: new life and generation. That is why we now kill and abuse our children through abortion, pedophilia, and transgenderism. Who wants to be a conservative in these days and conserve vile evil? But that's what conservatism does. It protects the status quo, or as Chesterton said, it makes sure the mistakes of progressives aren't fixed. Fundamental principles are like first principles. Ignore them at your peril.

Anonymous redacted November 27, 2017 10:17 AM  

I have recently received my exit visa from this plane.

It brings into sharp focus Stilicho's assertion about questions for which the libertarian ethos must perforce be silent.

The tactical considerations being somewhat moot, we are left with strategy and morals. So, I spend time considering the balance. Ius bello -- where does it begin?

Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 10:20 AM  

"It can be boiled down to this - "right/moral" actions are those that do not result in harm."

Only if harm=bad. If I had to kill someone in self defence or defence of others, that would not be bad. I believe the police would call it "a good shoot".

Blogger James November 27, 2017 10:22 AM  

" Some tribes are cannibles, others won't eat pork, some individuals won't eat meat at all. Some cultures believe in stoning rape victims for adultery, others don't. Some cultures believe in throwing drug users in jail (or not). Some believe that prostitution should be illegal (or not), abortion should be illegal (or not)."

"Rules" of society are not the same as "Morality." True "Morality" is based on the principle expressed by Jesus Christ, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Does a normal non-psychotic person want to be killed and eaten by cannibals? No. Does a normal person give a shit if someone else eats pork? No. The difference is one is based on fundamental moral principles whilst the other is based on practical considerations or cultural fiat, depending on the specific circumstances. If a sign says "keep off the grass," your general moral duty is to respect the rule, even though there is nothing inherently immoral about walking on grass. But if it's not your grass, you shouldn't walk on it when you've been warned not to by those whose grass it is.

Anonymous Crazy Horse November 27, 2017 10:23 AM  

Yes, morality is objective. We merely have to observe those actions and ideas that objectively provide the vast majority of a community with the greatest well being. These things become clear. It has nothing to do with gods, God, etc. It has everything to do with those actions that benefit the community.

Anonymous Avalanche November 27, 2017 10:25 AM  

@37 "to show that there is no rational basis for acting immorally."

Need two definitions for this: rational basis and immorally.

How's this: I believe many here, including our Dark Lord, would argue passionately that abortion is immoral. A fundamental principle would no doubt be that "killing babies is immoral."

I argue that, while for our OWN people, a case could be made (maybe) against abortion; for the not-us, for the destructive hordes that are destroying our nation and country? Abortion should be a damned sacrament! Trying to 'interfere' with our enemies as they make what is for their nation a mistake (killing their offspring) is a mistake for them; (it is a huge boon -- indeed one might say, a moral good for us!). We should be urging, helping, and PAYING for them to keep doing so, and to increase their numbers doing it!

IF abortion is always immoral (I say not), then even allowing negroes and hispanics to 'kill their nits' must be immoral. (Helping them would be active evil?) But if they are vermin -- if they are LICE who are carrying disease and violence and an active 'evil' to our nation, then is not killing them AND their 'nits' a MORAL choice?

Would not the fundamental principle to be discovered be something along the lines of: protecting OUR offspring, OUR bloodline, OUR nation, OUR future, is moral. ALLOWING (or worse, facilitating) the destruction of these "ours" is immoral.

If abortion -- if 'killing 15.5 (http://www.blackgenocide.org/black.html) or 19 (https://rtl.org/outreach/) million black "babies" since 1973' -- is (actively) in OUR best interest -- and killing the young of your active enemy, dedicated to your destruction, is preventing them from becoming active warriors destroying our future IS (actively) in OUR best interest -- is that not moral also?

So, is it rational but immoral, or rational and moral? And does the fundamental principle therefore need to be reformulated?

Blogger William Meisheid November 27, 2017 10:29 AM  

Crazy Horse wrote:Yes, morality is objective. We merely have to observe those actions and ideas that objectively provide the vast majority of a community with the greatest well being. These things become clear. It has nothing to do with gods, God, etc. It has everything to do with those actions that benefit the community.

I may be wrong but I think your definition of morality is really that it is relative, not objective, since you determine it from observation of a particular community's standards, which change from community to community and even from time to later time. See James 102

Blogger James Dixon November 27, 2017 10:34 AM  

> It has everything to do with those actions that benefit the community.

Which is the most beneficial to the community, to do the most good or prevent the most harm?

I can make a rational argument that it is to prevent the most harm, and that the way to prevent the most harm is to immediately kill everyone in the least painful manner possible.

What is your basis for saying that argument is wrong?

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 10:36 AM  

Do be careful, or we will have to conclude that you are not intelligent enough to understand the definition of the term: "Argument directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining".

You STILL don't know what argumentum ad hominem means nor can you apply it properly. You really are stupid. That is a conclusion based on observing your error-filled arguments, it is not the basis for dismissing them.

Seriously, stop. You're embarrassing yourself.

Unsurprisingly, you have this backwards too.

I am more interested in what people call morality is. A definition of something that does not exist is all rather pseudo academic and useless.

No one cares what interests you. You don't believe morality exists. Fine. Now go away. We're discussing something in which you do not believe, so neither you nor your opinion are relevant to the discussion.

Pointing to a dictionary to make useless points is favorite hobby of feminists and other midwits.

First, the point is neither useless nor irrelevant. Second, you are lying. Like you, feminists and midwits usually AVOID dictionary definitions because it prevents them from simply making things up and declaring words to mean whatever they want them to mean.

Blogger Jack Burroughs November 27, 2017 10:36 AM  

Vox: "Morality is akin to mathematics. It is something fundamental to be discovered, not a construct that is developed."

If that is true, then why is there virtual unanimity among mathematicians about the basic principles of mathematics, but quite a lot of disagreement between morally preoccupied people about many of the basic principles of morality?

"Objective" moral principles seem to be much more elusive than objective mathematical principles.

I agree that there is a transcendent moral dimension to human nature, and that this is something that one discovers. But these truths are harder to discover than those of mathematics, which is why behaving morally is such a challenge for so many people. And even once they are discovered, there remains the vexing tendency of different human types to discover and to give priority to different moral laws.

It's misleading to call that binding transcendence "objective," because this suggests that moral principles are somehow derived from facts, and from measurable and observable phenomena. And that just isn't so. Even though serious morality does require that we consider the objective, fact-based dimension of life, the core moral impulse comes from a transcendent source that one discovers within oneself.

And the reason morally serious people often disagree about morality is because different human types and temperaments tend to reach different conclusions about many fundamental moral principles, and even about basic virtues.

For instance, most people will instinctively agree that courage is superior to cowardice. But it isn't easy at all to attain unanimity on just what the courageous course of action should be in any particular situation. And because of the spectrum of moral temperaments, it will be impossible to settle the question of whether courage is superior to compassion, or vice versa. And even if we can mostly agree that courage is superior to cowardice, there will be deep disagreement over how to regard the coward. Should we revile him for his weakness? Or should we compassionately forgive him for it?

Mathematicians are not vexed by fundamental and irresolvable arguments of this kind.

If "coming from within" sounds "subjective" to you, and if "subjective" connotes anarchic, individualistic whim, then maybe objective vs subjective is a misleading moral axis.

Rather than "objective" morality, perhaps it would be better to speak of "intrinsic" morality--as in, principles and actions that are intelligibly rooted in natural and essentially human moral impulses.





Anonymous Rocklea November 27, 2017 10:40 AM  

"Yes, morality is objective. We merely have to observe those actions and ideas that objectively provide the vast majority of a community with the greatest well being."

Ahh, a humanist. Let the slaughter of those who disagree begin, for the greater good.

Blogger James Dixon November 27, 2017 10:48 AM  

> If that is true, then why is there virtual unanimity among mathematicians about the basic principles of mathematics, but quite a lot of disagreement between morally preoccupied people about many of the basic principles of morality?

Perhaps because people don't really like the morals they discover?

> Mathematicians are not vexed by fundamental and irresolvable arguments of this kind.

Someone needs to do some reading on the history of mathematics.

Anonymous Crazy Horse November 27, 2017 10:53 AM  

"I may be wrong but I think your definition of morality is really that it is relative, not objective, since you determine it from observation of a particular community's standards, which change from community to community and even from time to later time. See James 102"

No, they are the same across both time and place—in their most basic form—since the requirements for well being within a community of human beings never change.

Blogger wreckage November 27, 2017 10:54 AM  

"Yes, morality is objective. We merely have to observe those actions and ideas that objectively provide the WARNING SUBJECTIVE vast majority of a community with the greatest well WARNING SUBJECTIVE being."

and then decide that it is right to provide them with the greatest wellbeing.

and that, it being right to do so, or for other "objective" reasons, we have the right to do so.

None of which can be objective unless morality itself is objective at some level, for which it must be universal and calculable.


Blogger Off The Wall November 27, 2017 10:56 AM  

Jill, I like the way you think.

Jill wrote:This is why, philosophically, I determined I was a fundamentalist and not a conservative. A liberal society that rejects fundamental principles is incoherent. It will fall apart, usually at its most fundamental base: new life and generation. That is why we now kill and abuse our children through abortion, pedophilia, and transgenderism. Who wants to be a conservative in these days and conserve vile evil? But that's what conservatism does. It protects the status quo, or as Chesterton said, it makes sure the mistakes of progressives aren't fixed. Fundamental principles are like first principles. Ignore them at your peril.

Anonymous grey enlightenment November 27, 2017 10:56 AM  

VD is right about the precise definition of argumentum ad hominem. The argument is wrong not because he is dumb, but the bad argument is evidence he is dumb.

Anonymous Avalanche November 27, 2017 10:58 AM  

@94 "But as our understanding of morality improved it was realized that slavery was wrong. If there is no objective morality then there was absolutely nothing wrong about enslaving people in the past."

"it was realized" -- I disagree: it was *decided*! Slavery still exists, in a variety of forms. (If you're a min. wage peon, and if you lose that min. wage you'll be cast out of house and food, you ARE a slave; and without even such meagre protections as old-timey slaves were afforded.)

What is your objective reality that slavery is wrong? Is it just not preferable? (feelz.) Yes, for the slave at least, and probably for nearly all 'masters' (albeit in a longer time sense for them?).

IS there something "absolutely wrong about enslaving people in the past"? (Or the present? Or the future?) Most Westerners now *believe* so. Many many many NON-Westerners absolutely do not believe so!

"as our understanding of morality improved"

Was it Jesus or Paul who said 'slaves, obey your masters'? Was THEIR "understanding of morality" deficient? Incomplete? Wrong? Why did THEY not teach that "slavery was wrong"?

(Realize, I'm not being snarky -- I'm actually asking! I acknowledge that one cannot be 'reasoned' into faith -- but I hope by disassembling (what appear to be?) rational roadblocks, I can get closer to the door that will open.)

Blogger wreckage November 27, 2017 10:58 AM  

@110 don't be foolish. There are no vexing paradoxes or unresolved problems in any of the sciences, particularly not mathematics!

Meanwhile, the good of my community is best served by destroying all potential competitors to the community, and the impregnation of all females of childbearing age with superior genetic stock, to the exclusion of all other activity by said females, this being the path determined to achieve the highest possible utility AND wellbeing for the community overall.

Anonymous Jill November 27, 2017 10:59 AM  

"Mathematicians are not vexed by fundamental and irresolvable arguments of this kind.

Someone needs to do some reading on the history of mathematics."

Yeah, mathematicians are certainly prone to the boastful pride of life St. Paul talked about. Meanwhile, low IQ Down Syndrome kids can understand morality; they just don't have the wherewithal to rationalize it away like midwits and mathematicians.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 27, 2017 10:59 AM  

How hard is this. There is one set of morality. Customs no matter how closely they follow moral behavior are not morality. Morality just is.

Blogger Jack Burroughs November 27, 2017 11:00 AM  


Sometimes that's true. But sometimes they just haven't made the moral discoveries yet. And sometimes they never do.

"Someone needs to do some reading on the history of mathematics."

Of course there are disputes between elite mathematicians about more esoteric, cutting edge problems of math.

But that is not true of basic math, and ordinary mathematicians.

You won't find a lot of disagreement about the fundamentals of math among engineers, for instance. Nor between those who teach math to students who are not studying to become mathematicians themselves.

Blogger Jack Burroughs November 27, 2017 11:03 AM  

Accidentally left out James Dixon's comment in my post above.

JD: "Perhaps because people don't really like the morals they discover?"

JB: Sometimes that's true. But sometimes they just haven't made the moral discoveries yet. And sometimes they never do.

Blogger Rabbi B November 27, 2017 11:03 AM  

While on the emotional side, atheism may be little more than social autism, on the intellectual side, it appears to be primarily a combination of historical and philosophical ignorance.

That's putting it kindly. There is no intellectual side. Atheism is the default position of the morally and mentally degenerate. The atheist has is utterly devoid of any moral self-determination. Ironically, perhaps, it is the atheist who fails to make proper use of his faculty of reason and has succumbed to sensuality. In short, the atheist is a slave whose reason is subjugated by his sensuality.

The atheist is not all that anxious to find God, the source and measure of all morality, and therefore makes no real effort to seek Him, since this would be quite inconvenient to his sensual desires and proclivities which control him.

Man can and should recognize God by properly employing his intellect and reasoning faculties, by using his rational, reasoning intellect which sets him a part from the animals; but, this would also require a mind that is free from emotional bias and this is simply not the natural state of the atheist's mind. His mind is anything but free.

As to the specific questions of "good," "doing good," "morality," etc., in every generation good can be discovered even in the most corrupt of human beings. But...

Does the good done flow from worthy principles or from a sense of duty? In other words, is good done simply for the sake of doing good?

Does the performance of good deeds shape the character of the doer?

There may be men who do good now and again, but are there men who understand their life's calling in doing nothing but good?

The bottom line is that if God (which the atheist ostensibly denies) and obedience to His will (which the atheist openly mocks) are not the forces which motivate and inform all of our deeds, then all the so-called "goodness" which is practiced in this world can only be attributed to happenstance and is therefore just as the prophet Isaiah described when he declared ...

“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (cf. Isaiah 40)

Again, when God is no longer tolerated among men the "doing of good" for its own sake disappears and we are left with materialism, cunning, pragmatism, and self-serving calculation to reign in His place.

Atheism is nothing new, and anything but intellectual. It doesn't take a genius to suppress the truth. Any fool will do.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools...Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts....They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (cf. Romans 1)

Blogger wreckage November 27, 2017 11:04 AM  

@115 all action is based on some degree of compromise between competing goods, and competing evils. There is no contradiction with universal moral facts there. Slavery historically was one hierarchical structure that ensured one person had labour to assign at will and another had food and shelter. It became "immoral" when, and to the extent that, it was no longer necessary to compromise an individual's freedom at that level.

Just as the fiefdom or feudal manor structure might be considered on balance evil now or in some environments, yet be a great good relative to other available options in another time or place.

Anonymous Avalanche November 27, 2017 11:09 AM  

@119 "Of course there are disputes between elite mathematicians about more esoteric, cutting edge problems of math."

How many integers can dance on the head of a pin?

Blogger James Dixon November 27, 2017 11:09 AM  

> ...about more esoteric, cutting edge problems of math.

Those "esoteric, cutting edge problems" are the foundations of mathematics. Have you ever looked up the mathematically accepted proof that 1+1 does in fact equal 2?

> You won't find a lot of disagreement about the fundamentals of math among engineers

For engineers, math is a tool, not an end in itself.

Blogger tz November 27, 2017 11:14 AM  

Lewis argues that morality is objective and even common in Abolition of Man and the appendix shows the same morals nearly everywhere.

You also find Atheists have little disagreement about theft or physical harm. Problems come in with sophistry about "false witness" (see Rothbard's ethics on libel) or especially sex.

Even Molyneux UPB breaks down since he handles rape, sort of, but only the consent part. The whole marriage between one man and one woman and all sex outside is a sin is missing. Atheists see no problem with gay debauchery as long as it is consensual.

But morality can't be based on "consent" except when it means full freedom of the will.

The current sexual harassment charges could be termed "I shouldn't have to consent to sex to get a starring role". Why not, or put differently, why should some creep with power give you the job when he doesn't consent to do so?

Even deeper is the necessity of stable familes. So to turn the empathy, or even deeper, neurotransmitters around on the atheists, we KNOW virgins who marry will become bound via feelings, dopamine hits, vasopression, etc. in a way that "experienced" people will not. And there is no known treatment. See the divorce statistics.

Which adds a final element to "consent". To what, this single act, to getting a STD, to becoming less attached when you get a spouse, to maybe getting pregnant? When you consent to sex, you can't just consent to the immediate pleasure, just like when you take a drink you are consenting to the known hangover.

Even in the most prudish and puritan societies, sexual desire - the lizard brain, not the neocortex - will consent to nearly anything. But to remove even those barriers of ostracism is a bad idea.

The final problem is you can decide to be evil, but a civilized society will quarantine or kill you. When they don't - even on things like sex - it causes the society to decline into barbarism. The Atheist wants the tolerance and license of barbaric societies, but wants to indulge in them among a civilized society.

Blogger Nathan November 27, 2017 11:16 AM  

1) Morals are axioms about human behavior.

2) Axioms and axiomatic systems exist beyond human belief.

3) When axiomatic systems are in conflict, we appeal to God or Nature or Satan or the space foam.

4) These axiomatic systems are not "subjective" because they make universal statements of right and wrong.

5) The "confusion" in this thread is due to some people holding the moral axiom "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law".

Blogger Revelation Means Hope November 27, 2017 11:19 AM  

If slavery was only recently discovered to be wrong, someone better go back in time several thousand years and let God and Moses know about it right quick.

Also, the Bible does not condemn slavery, it even sets up rules that were directly given by God regarding slavery. What it condemns is the immoral treatment of slaves.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer November 27, 2017 11:21 AM  

I disagree: it was *decided*! Slavery still exists, in a variety of forms.

The fact that an evil practice is ongoing does not mean that it is not evil.

Was it Jesus or Paul who said 'slaves, obey your masters'?

Paul. As for why they didn't teach that slavery was evil, that is a good question. One possible answer was that it would have been too much for society to accept and that Christianity had to change the hearts and customs over time before slavery could be ended.

If you don't accept that morality is objective then you are correct. We decided that slavery was wrong and therefore it was not wrong when it was practiced in the past. Because right and wrong are merely preferences and good and evil are meaningless concepts. That slavery is bad is a social convention on par with not forcing women to watch you masturbate. A faux pas that can be smoothed over with a little influence and cash.

Anonymous Avalanche November 27, 2017 11:21 AM  

@122 "Slavery historically was one hierarchical structure that ensured one person had labour to assign at will and another had food and shelter."

Okay, so slavery was a pretty good or, at least, usually okay deal for both? How is that related to morality? And how can morality change over time?


@122 "It became "immoral" when, and to the extent that, it was no longer necessary to compromise an individual's freedom at that level."

That's not immoral in the terms I believe Vox is presenting. "It's no longer necessary to" do this-or-that, and therefore this-or-that "becomes" immoral? That's not a fundamental principle. And how is it NOT necessary to "compromise an individual's freedom at that level"? Would not the inner city layabouts be in a better "moral" position if they were, in fact, "enslaved" and forced to work for their food and housing? (And would that 'moral position' be on their account or on the groaning taxpayer's account?)


@122 "Just as the fiefdom or feudal manor structure might be considered on balance evil now or in some environments, yet be a great good relative to other available options in another time or place."

Being "considered on balance evil" is NOT morality! If it was immoral then (or moral then), how does it become its opposite over time? Is there a moral component to how societies are structured? Feudal was/is moral or immoral? Slavery was/is moral or immoral? What fundamental principle can be discovered or codified to provide an answer to 'it changes over time'?

Blogger Dire Badger November 27, 2017 11:22 AM  

"“Both for practical reasons and for mathematically verifiable moral reasons, authority and responsibility must be equal - else a balancing takes place as surely as current flows between points of unequal potential. " -R.A.H.

It is nice to 'Wish' that Humanity could understand Mathematics well enough to understand that the entire cyclical nature of human civilization is simply a constant negative feedback rebalancing of morality, but It's likely never going to happen.

Morality is absolutely Objective, or this constant rebalancing would never take place and the Entire world would be Rome.

Blogger VFM #7634 November 27, 2017 11:23 AM  

Morality is objective because whatever HARMS human beings is also objective (even if it feels good doing it at the time). Natural morality is the standard by which human beings are prevented from harming themselves or others.

And Christianity is the only religion/belief system that gets this right. For example, take Brad Richards' quip about Muslims finding eating a ham sandwich worse than raping boys. Objectively speaking, the Muslims are wrong, despite Brad's appeal to postmodernist relativism.

Blogger Revelation Means Hope November 27, 2017 11:25 AM  

What is also amusing about people blithely bringing up the cannibal argument (beyond that fact that they cannot even spell the word correctly), is they obviously have no clue how cannibalism works outside of Hollywood movies.

Cannibalism was not a matter of bashing someone on the head and then cooking their body. There were a large number of rules for who, when and how someone was to be eaten. It was never subjective. It was morally wrong, per the universal morals of the universe, but they certainly didn't consider it subjectively immoral.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer November 27, 2017 11:31 AM  

Also, the Bible does not condemn slavery, it even sets up rules that were directly given by God regarding slavery. What it condemns is the immoral treatment of slaves.

The slavery in the Bible is more like indentured servitude and was generally entered into in order to avoid starvation.

Man stealing is specifically prohibited.

“Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” (Exodus 21:16)

Anonymous Avalanche November 27, 2017 11:39 AM  

@128 "Paul. As for why they didn't teach that slavery was evil, that is a good question. One possible answer was that it would have been too much for society to accept and that Christianity had to change the hearts and customs over time before slavery could be ended."

Post hoc. 'WE' feel (<--!) that slavery is wrong, and therefore we struggle with our moral/religious leaders NOT also saying so.

'Our escape clause' is: well-yeah, they SHOULD have said it was evil ... but ... um, saying that would have been unacceptable on the mortal (not moral) plane, and therefore they didn't say it (out of fear, cowardice, or just a lack of commitment to what YOU are calling a new-moral stance)? What OTHER things did Jesus or Paul -- or any of them -- 'choose not say' because "it would have been too much for society to accept" -- and how does that mesh with: morality is a fundamental principle?

Maybe this brings up a further facet: DOES morality change over time? Is there a time-linked morality that shows up -- or slides away -- as times change? And it then fundamental -- or merely convenient for the times?

For the vast vast majority of humanity's time on earth, slavery has NOT 'been wrong" -- it has been normal. How VERY much of everything Western was possible because of slavery? No, I'm 100% NOT positing that "slaves built that." Slaves built what their Greco-Roman (in our case) masters set them to. They were tools and livestock in the achievement of their masters' plans. (Exceptions acknowledged; damn few of them!)

(I'm aggrieved by the American negro insisting "they built America"! They were livestock. Pulling a plow -- oxen, slave, or John Deere -- is not building, it is being used as a beast of burden. Should we give reparations to the offspring of oxen? The few rusted remaining parts of early tractors?! IF they could have "built America," then where is the african version? (Even today! THEY do not 'build' africa; and when White Euros (and now Chinese) do so and l;eave it to them, they are unable to maintain it.)


(I'd draw for you also the analogy to the Tower of Babel: God forcibly SEPARATING the peoples to keep them apart; and the modern "wearetheworld-kumbaya" crap (but only in White countries). Surely you're NOT going to hold that GOD in this case needed to "change the hearts and customs over time"?!)

Blogger Silly but True November 27, 2017 11:43 AM  

Feigned surprise that atheists confuse ethics and morality. But unlike atheists, there is even "honor among thieves" - so the proverb holds.

Yes, even the disreputable understand a concept of "professional courtesy" that particularly amongst themselves can drive an ethical framework despite it being immoral. Hell, even a thief usually understands what they do is wrong. The atheists have no excuse.

Blogger Cloom Glue November 27, 2017 11:50 AM  

Avalanche wrote:@17
If morality is a fundamental principle to be discovered, then is it moral or not to use black humor to 'harden' oneself to the less appealing parts of a necessary job?


It is possible to learn self-control of your thoughts and emotions, without using black-humour to harden yourself; same with a surgeon, I think. Also, it could be a blessing from God that some of us are capable of some tasks. It does not have to be explained as lacking empathy, psychopathy.

Anonymous VFM #6306 November 27, 2017 11:51 AM  

I'm too stupid to follow the logic. Therefore, you are wrong.

Anonymous Avalanche November 27, 2017 11:51 AM  

@133 "The slavery in the Bible is more like indentured servitude and was generally entered into in order to avoid starvation."

Indentured servitude, at least in the early States, was in many many cases HORRENDOUSLY worse than "actual" slavery! There were LAWS protecting slaves, but not "servants"!

You are ill- or un-educated about the reality of "indentured servitude" and the White slavery that preceded the term.

https://www.revisionisthistory.org/page1/page3/page3.html
"...
The indentured servants who served a tidy little period of 4 to 7 years polishing the master's silver and china and then taking their place in colonial high society, were a minuscule fraction of the great unsung hundreds of thousands of White slaves who were worked to death in this country from the early l7th century onward.
...
In 1855, Frederic Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed New York's Central Park, was in Alabama on a pleasure trip and saw bales of cotton being thrown from a considerable height into a cargo ship's hold. The men tossing the bales somewhat recklessly into the hold were Negroes, the men in the hold were Irish.

Olmsted inquired about this to a shipworker. "Oh," said the worker, "the niggers are worth too much to be risked here; if the Paddies are knocked overboard or get their backs broke, nobody loses anything."

Anonymous Crazy Horse November 27, 2017 11:51 AM  

The pronouncements of the godfollowers as to what is moral and not moral often comes off as comedy. It's perfectly clear that the abrahamic religions' statement of morals were nothing new at all. But a rehash of what all other civilizations and communities professed for millennia.

Humor of the Godfolk. Funny

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer November 27, 2017 11:59 AM  

'Our escape clause' is: well-yeah, they SHOULD have said it was evil

No, I don't say that at all. I just recognize that they didn't say it explicitly. I can live with that. Have you ever read the Bible? There are actually few rules listed in it. Deuteronomy and Exodus have some, mostly having to do with worshiping God and distinguishing the Hebrews from the surrounding peoples, which the Hebrews began violating pretty much right away, even thought they had seen physical proof that God was real and powerful. The Old Testament is mostly tales about people falling away from God, a crisis develops and they turn to him, he saves their asses, and then they immediately start falling away from him again. Nobody in the Bible is perfect except Jesus and he knew that a long list of rules would have been useless. Hell, most of us can't manage the few basic principles he did list. He commanded that Christians should love one another and we aren't even good at that. As I said earlier, if you don't believe in objective morality and everything is just "feelz" nothing I say is going to change your mind. In such a case then behaviors are adaptive or maladaptive. Right and wrong, good and evil are just labels left over from our primitive pre-scientific past when we didn't know that we are just meat robots without free will.

Blogger James Dixon November 27, 2017 12:00 PM  

> Accidentally left out James Dixon's comment in my post above.

Not a problem. It was obviously a reply to my comment, and a good one.

> The pronouncements of the godfollowers as to what is moral and not moral often comes off as comedy.

Whereas the pronouncements of atheists as to what is moral and not moral always comes off as tragedy.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer November 27, 2017 12:01 PM  

It's perfectly clear that the abrahamic religions' statement of morals were nothing new at all. But a rehash of what all other civilizations and communities professed for millennia.

Well duh! Atheists seem to think that a universal morality that exists throughout time and space somehow debunks God's existence. That is some not terribly well-read or bright atheists.

Anonymous Jack Amok November 27, 2017 12:19 PM  

Engineering is largely applied mathematics. If the Engineer gets the underlying math correct, the bridge tends to stand up. If the Engineer gets the underlying math wrong, the bridge has a large chance of failure.

Social Engineering tends to get the math wrong, largely because it rejects math in favor of philosophy. x + y = 5 can never solve for X without a value for Y, and Social Engineering always has a Y (typically defined as "some nebulous group's evil behavior", though sometimes shortened to "wreckers" or "racism" or some such).

The underlying math may be objective, but the human application of it is imperfect. Some applications are consistently better than others however.




Blogger Azure Amaranthine November 27, 2017 12:20 PM  

"We decided that slavery was wrong"

You can falsely decide that something is wrong even if morality per definition both exists and you believe in it.

Slavery is the crowning example in modern society, because it has been ingrained for roughly a hundred and fifty years that is was "wrong" by the side that won the civil war and had to write in a moral rationalization for their actions.

You know the people who compare prison to slavery? They're completely correct. We customarily enslave people for breaking the law in certain ways, even today. We do this because we believe that their judgement/habits/training are faulty and that these things can be corrected by them being put under the charge of people with better judgement/habits/training.

Really, the issue is with the concepts of freedom and slavery. Freedom is the absence of limitations or controls. Slavery is the imposition of limitations or controls. Freedom is not necessarily good and slavery is also not necessarily evil.

Would you have the willing pedophile-rapist be free? Would you not have him be enslaved to a more responsible actor for whatever duration is necessary to repair him? Would you not favor death for him in order to put a stop to his evil if is found to be irreparable?

Good should not be subjugated to evil, but evil must be subjugated to good.

Similarly, the less-responsible actors have, throughout history, been placed under the control of the more responsible actors. We can call it many different things. We can set standards as to what offenses we think serious enough for varying degrees and durations of subjugation to be rightly imposed.

One of these standards has, historically, been based on blood. If a person's bloodline is irresponsible in how it reproduces, some level of degeneracy and/or evil is encoded into their DNA over time. The same can be said for the training and teachings and standards passed down to and through descendants over time.

Another point is that a boss at work is quite literally the master of his employees, and they his slaves. Granted, rather than their slavery being enforced by physical punishment or death it is enforced by financial punishment or death, but it amounts to the same thing.

So, no. Slavery is not necessarily evil. What IS evil is irresponsible or malefic treatment of those one is responsible for or who depend on him.

Blogger Ron Winkleheimer November 27, 2017 12:21 PM  

You are ill- or un-educated about the reality of "indentured servitude" and the White slavery that preceded the term.

Actually no, I'm not. The example you gave, from 1855 is not an example of indentured servitude. The Irishmen would have been day laborers. Without a doubt indentured servitude could be, and often was. pretty horrible. Which is why the Bible has rules about how people are supposed to be treated.

Anonymous Dorm Room Dave November 27, 2017 12:21 PM  

Oh wow man, this is so like totally blowing my mind. So if, like, morality is universal and objective, then that means like raping babies is always wrong, except then I think that means you're Islamophobic, which is also like universally objectively totally like wrong, --hey, don't bogart that joint man, that shnit cost me some serious ducats!-- but if like morality is like subjective, or like environmentally determined, then it's just like Dostoyevskevevski said, "All is permitted" or was that Faulkner? He was the guy who said I DON'T HATE THE SOUTH!, right? So, like, did he or didn't he? This is blowing my mind. Oh wait, shut up, this is the best part of the song, this is where Gilmour just cracks it right open, awesome steel slide, REEE-DEE-DI DEE-DI, ROOOOONNNG, RREE, REEE, REE, oh wait, everybody shut up, the proctor's coming!

1985 -- Dorm Room Dave was a freshman at a decent prep boarding school

1989 -- Dorm Room Dave was a junior at a safety school

1996 -- Dorm Room Dave was a senior at an Ivy, getting ready for his interview with Goldman tomorrow

2003 -- Dorm Room Dave was a graduate student in Critical Theory

2009 -- Dorm Room Dave was an associate law professor at Madison

2017 -- Dorm Room Dave is a sitting US Representative, or perhaps a board member of the MacArthur Foundation

Oh, I'm just kidding ya.... he's Ta-Nahesi Coates.

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 12:22 PM  

The pronouncements of the godfollowers as to what is moral and not moral often comes off as comedy.

"LOL!" the gamma lolled, lollishly.

Blogger szopen November 27, 2017 12:31 PM  

I discussed few years ago with one calvinist. He actually did convince me that with no God, there is no objective morality.

Now, I am not a native speaker and not very intelligent person, to that. However, it seems to me that the VD is saying:
"In English language morality is defined to be objective, or in other words a >morality< in human usage refers to something considered objective, ie. if you say >subjective morality< you think about set of norms and rules for which you should not use the word >morality< or >moral<""

I will just merely note that "founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom" does not seem to be part of a commonly accepted definition of "moral". I will start with my (Polish) dictionaries. One, an online dictionary (Chosen so you can check I do not made up this definition) defines morality as (translation mine, though imperfect):

"(1) a set of values, norms and rules dictating range of views and behaviours considered acceptable
(2) The whole set of behaviour and stances by
a person or a group, evaluated according to some socially functioning system of moral norms"

(https://sjp.pwn.pl/sjp/moralno%C5%9B%C4%87;2568434)
"Moral" (moralny) in the same dictionary is also defined without using words like "basic" or "fundamental", rather talking about customs in a particular society.

I've checked also online English dictionaries, e.g.
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/moral or https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/moral
and they also talk about "a" standard, "the code of behaviour that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society." etc.

But even accepting the premise does would not mean that morality is objective, but merely that either morality exists, or is not objective.

The question is then what word should I use instead, when I would want to say "moral" and "morality" (i.e. norms for which I have no rational arguments, I just feel they are right or wrong and I seem impossible to able to break them, or even want to break them). Saying "feelz" would be a parody, because there does not seem to something within my mind that I am unable to change, and which seems to be part of what is "I". When I say "I can't and won't murder", ridiculing that sentence by saying "you don't kill because you just don't feel like doing it" does not seem right, even if seems correct. "I don't feel like doing it" implies, however, that once day I could feel like murdering someone, since feelings do change; but this "feelz" is actually something which does not seem to be susceptible to any change.

Blogger szopen November 27, 2017 12:33 PM  

damn ", because there does not seem to something within my mind that I am unable to change" should be ", because there does seem to something within my mind that I am unable to change"

Blogger IreneAthena November 27, 2017 12:34 PM  

Listening in on Wreckage and Avalanche. @115 and @116. Some may say that I'm saying the Bible is subjective, but I'm not. I'm saying you do need to take very seriously the distinction -- as the Bible recommends you take very seriously the distinction -- between the letter of the law and the Spirit of the law.

Jesus was asked if it was lawful to divorce a woman for any reason, and he answered that such divorce had been allowed "because of the hardness of men's hearts," but the ideal is and always has been the sacred union of one man and one woman, until death parts them. But will the IQ average get so low (because of misguided and even evil social manipulations) that for the good of society, the powers that be decide to restrict breeding to a small percentage of physically/mentally superior male specimens and their harems whose members are kept in a state of perpetual gestation or lactation? Or would that be just another misguided social manipulation?

The wind bloweth where it listeth...

Avalanche, though your descriptions of brown babies as "nits" made by "lice" makes my skin crawl, and my spirit sink, your questions about the changing view of slavery in the Christian (or Christian-influenced) West, from the dark ages through the present era, are worth considering.

When someone (think William Wilberforce) asked the Spirit of Jesus to shed light on the letter of the law on slavery, did he come away with an answer like the one Jesus gave more than a millennium before about divorce? Did he hear that Slavery had been allowed because "of the hardness of men's hearts" but that the time for setting the captives free had now arrived?

And as the wheel of history slowly creaked towards the end of that institution, and while slaves were yet on the auction block, and one of those slaves was praying that she wouldn't be sold to a cruel master, did God answer those prayers by inspiring some spiritually sensitive Southern soul, who was beginning to have internal conflicts about the morality of slavery, to come forward to buy?

Again. The wind bloweth where it listeth...

Blogger Lovekraft November 27, 2017 12:35 PM  

Food for thought. I'm sure some of you have heard of it. It does relate to this thread and I'm wondering what VD's take on it would be.

If given a choice between saving a drowning human stranger, and your pet dog, which would you choose?

Blogger S1AL November 27, 2017 12:38 PM  

Someone already pointed out the slavery = forced labor point, so I'll address the other portion:

Slavery can be demonstrated to be morally wrong in most cases if one accepts the principle of "love thy neighbor as thyself". This is most readily exemplified by the effect slavery had on Southern wages. Race, war, etc. do not even need to be addressed.

And since some asshole keeps abusing Scripture, also note that Christians are commanded to free themselves from slavery if they are able to do so.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd November 27, 2017 12:38 PM  

Avalanche wrote:Trying to 'interfere' with our enemies as they make what is for their nation a mistake (killing their offspring) is a mistake for them; (it is a huge boon -- indeed one might say, a moral good for us!). We should be urging, helping, and PAYING for them to keep doing so, and to increase their numbers doing it!

There is a huge difference between not stopping them, and encouraging them.

If we need them gone, let's deal with them directly rather than via indirection and half measures.

God had the Israelites genocide the Canaanites, because of the Canaanites' infanticide. We don't want to be like the Canaanites.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine November 27, 2017 12:56 PM  

"Slavery can be demonstrated to be morally wrong in most cases if one accepts the principle of "love thy neighbor as thyself". This is most readily exemplified by the effect slavery had on Southern wages."

I have to disagree with some of your implications. The wage imbalances in the south were due to people abusing slaves to get more work out of them for less money, thus driving the demand for those jobs and the wages for them down.

As for the principle of "love thy neighbor as thyself", does this not actually imply that if my neighbor is lacking in impulse control or prudence, that I ought to loan him mine?

There is most certainly a set of standards by which arrangements that may be called slavery are actually good. A computer geek could tell you this, what with "master" controlling several "slave" drives for the benefit of all. Even our concept of "government" is actually synonymous to "mastership", because to govern literally means to control.

If we define "slavery" as only evil forms and actions of subjugation, then yes, slavery is evil. On the other hand we are certainly called to be subjugated to God's will, and the freedom saying "do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" is one of the most evil things ever said.

Blogger Rabbi B November 27, 2017 12:57 PM  

Crazy Horse wrote:The pronouncements of the godfollowers as to what is moral and not moral often comes off as comedy. It's perfectly clear that the abrahamic religions' statement of morals were nothing new at all. But a rehash of what all other civilizations and communities professed for millennia.

Humor of the Godfolk. Funny


Thus speaketh the midwit, and it was so.

Anonymous Jonathan November 27, 2017 1:04 PM  

[i]founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom.[/i]

This is a very odd definition, given that the latin root simply meant "customs". Personally, I avoid going to the dictionary to get a good grasp of word usage. The dictionary attempts to survey how a word is used and then conform a definition to that usage. The problem is that if usage is a mess of incoherent gibberish then the definition is just going to be incoherent gibberish as well.

EXAMPLE: "morality" can either refer to "customs" or "not customs" but it can't do both - law of non contradiction

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 27, 2017 1:06 PM  

Resident Moron™ wrote:@67

The universality of science follows from the definition.


That's not correct.

Has it ever been proven (CAN it be proven?) that everything that exists and everything that happens to everything that exists, has a natural explanation?

Aristotle's prime mover would beg to differ.

Resident Moron™ wrote:Does that bother you as much as the definition of morality?


I'm a Christian. It doesn't bother me at all, and I believe it's true. But I'm curious why Vox thinks this is as obvious as objective morality, because it indicates he has a more concise argument than I do.

Blogger Solaire Of Astora November 27, 2017 1:07 PM  

Atheists have to know, deep down inside them somewhere (I hope), that morality by definition must be objective. So why can't they just admit that what they call morality is just their own personal ethos? What's the hang up in just admitting it and defending the validity of their position as best they can? Is it a fear of admitting to themselves an uncomfortable truth? I've noticed that a lot of the philosophical issues atheists have stem from them doing their best to avoid the unsatisfactory but inevitable logical conclusions of their beliefs. It would be kind of sad if they weren't so snarky about it.

Blogger szopen November 27, 2017 1:07 PM  

AAARGH " merely that either morality exists, or is not objective. " either morality is objective, or does not exist.

Blogger Asher Jacobson November 27, 2017 1:09 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger szopen November 27, 2017 1:11 PM  

Atheists have to know, deep down inside them somewhere (I hope), that morality by definition must be objective.
No. If morality must be per definition objective, then it is, and in that case your statement has no sense. If you however agree (for the purpose of this argument only) that morality is just a set of norms, rules etc, then obviously, morality cannot be objective without a God.

Of course, every atheist has his own philosophy, so I can't speak for others (nor I would allow any atheist to speak for me).

OpenID widlast November 27, 2017 1:12 PM  

"If given a choice between saving a drowning human stranger, and your pet dog, which would you choose?"

The stranger, my dog can swim.

Anonymous User November 27, 2017 1:12 PM  

I like to understand morality as both an applied science and a normative science. Some people are evidently incapable of making the distinction between relative and normative. Perhaps that's why those people also struggle with the other two principal normative sciences: logic and aesthetics; logic being the normative science of what is true and aesthetics being the normative science of what is beautiful.

Blogger Rabbi B November 27, 2017 1:12 PM  

What's the hang up in just admitting it and defending the validity of their position as best they can?

Mental incontinence.

Is it a fear of admitting to themselves an uncomfortable truth?

Precisely. They're intellectual and moral cowards who have become adept at suppressing the truth.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine November 27, 2017 1:14 PM  

"Do you discover morality by observing the effects of decisions in the real world"

Sure, if you can correctly conclude that there are no significant effects of those decisions outside of your observed physical and temporal bounds.

Good luck with that.

As a Christian, I have to point out that God's perspective is universally more complete and less fallible than mine either is or can be. Therefore, assuming God doesn't hate my face for some reason, it is only reasonable that I do whatever he says.

He doesn't only communicate through scripture, but until you've built a solid foundation on which to stand it's probably best to use scripture as your concrete.

Anonymous Gen. Kong November 27, 2017 1:19 PM  

Re: Slavery

Those who love to preen, posture and cuck about slavery (the most evilest of evil, as they constantly remind us - regardless of no condemnation of the practice per se in the scripture like claim to believe), only care about one particular instance of the practice, as noted by Molyneaux. The posturers and their enablers use the one instance as a means to enrich themselves. They realize full well that there's no money to be made in such posturing over today's slave markets in Libya (the Musloids selling would spit in their cuck faces before selling them as slaves), nor do they spend any time fussing over the Barbary slave raiders kidnapping entire villages in Ireland and other parts of Europe and selling their victims in the Ummah in earlier times. Slavery is back, and hardly a squeak is to be heard from the usual crowd. Put up or shut up, cucks.

Blogger VD November 27, 2017 1:22 PM  

I didn't "come around" to anything, Ayn Rand. Don't posture here or you'll be permanently spammed.

Anonymous JAG November 27, 2017 1:23 PM  

Crazy Horse wrote:The pronouncements of the godfollowers as to what is moral and not moral often comes off as comedy. It's perfectly clear that the abrahamic religions' statement of morals were nothing new at all. But a rehash of what all other civilizations and communities professed for millennia.

Humor of the Godfolk. Funny


This is one of those gamma atheists I mentioned in the other thread.

Anonymous FUBARwest November 27, 2017 1:26 PM  

I'm curious as well to what exactly is Vox's argument to morality being obviously objective. I may be missing something but it seems, so far, his argument comes down to the definition.

It follows logically if morality exists at all it would have to be objective, but then logically there would also have to be someone/thing(God) that determined what was objective or not.

I'm mostly confused as to the claim "because while the existence of God is nominally disputable, the objectivity of morality is not, and more importantly, cannot be disputed." I don't see how you can have objective morality without an outside arbitrator deciding what is objective.

Anonymous Dorm Room Dave November 27, 2017 1:27 PM  

"logic being the normative science of what is true"

Dude, like, logic is not like strictly speaking the normative science of what is true --I mean, unless you take normative to mean, commonly understood in human terms, not absolute terms, because like, as a science, --hey PUT THAT TROLL DOLL DOWN!! My GIRLfriend gave me that thing, man! and the bathroom's like, down the HALL, oooKAY? -- anyway, logic in most human situations is neither normative nor a science, it's like a commonly accepted carefully defined set of criteria for making sure when we try to communicate we're like actually talking about the same things, and not babbling at each other like a bunch of bonobos in the --put that statue of the bonobo DOWN, man! WHY do you have to keep on touching all my SHIT?!? Go talk outside to Norm, he's kind of normative, he's got some killer zizzers that'll like totally straighten your shit. So anyway, what I'm like saying is, don't like deify or like reify logic man, cause that'll take you into some serious Trotsky-Lenin crazy-ass wacky-land, man, you really don't want that, -- aw, fuck, who's that, Wanda? tell her I'm fucking BUSY with LOGISTICS man, sorry, not logistics, I mean logic, they're different, you see how ordinary language can just get in the WAY, and fuck up all your shit and shit? You gotta check some Wittgenstein, man, that dude is like the Han Solo of... of... man I forgot what I was talking about. Is the proctor coming again? Okay yeah, but it's the late shift, man, the hall proctor is Naheem, he's like totally cool. Pass me that copy of Cat's Cradle, man, that Vonnegut dude just makes your head spin like a TOP.

Blogger OGRE November 27, 2017 1:31 PM  

When we make a moral judgment we are applying a value to something--this is good, that is bad. We are pointing to something outside ourselves to assign this value, some rule or principle; otherwise, we are simply describing personal preferences.

It is absolutely and inherently an appeal to a higher authority.

Blogger SmockMan November 27, 2017 1:33 PM  

There are no fundamental rules except perhaps universalizability.

Blogger szopen November 27, 2017 1:40 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger vorlos November 27, 2017 1:44 PM  

Redacted, you have been given time to chose your metric: God or man. Submit to Him and receive eternal life. Man is smoke. Seek wisdom and truth. Things are as they should be. Be joyful and fear not.

Anonymous badhairday November 27, 2017 1:45 PM  

Using the dictionary definition to demonstrate the existence objective morals does not work. It does not follow that if we can define a term, that term must describe something that actually exists.

'fundamental principles of right conduct' is just a fancy way of saying 'objective morality of action'.

Its the logical fallacy of premising an argument with its conclusion.

To get anywhere with this you would have to produce some fundamental principles of right conduct. To do that you'd have to explain what's meant by fundamental in this context. (and saying its akin to mathematics just won't cut it.)

Blogger Rabbi B November 27, 2017 1:47 PM  

I don't see how you can have objective morality without an outside arbitrator deciding what is objective.

I beeive, you answered your own question.

There is a Divine order which is observable in history, an order which proclaims itself to every rational human being by the very fact that human society cannot hope to continue when moral decay becomes universal (cf. Romans 1).

Consequently, we are faced with two choices: perish by our own (mis)deeds or, get our poop in a group and mend our ways.

Every man knows God, but few acknowledge Him and most reject Him. Man is anything but the measure of all things.

Blogger szopen November 27, 2017 1:49 PM  

OGRE wrote:When we make a moral judgment we are applying a value to something--this is good, that is bad. We are pointing to something outside ourselves to assign this value, some rule or principle; otherwise, we are simply describing personal preferences.

It is absolutely and inherently an appeal to a higher authority.


You know what, it kind a make sense. However:
(1) Appealing to a higher authority may reveal our personal preference too, for something not being "good" just because we feel so, but because we feel it would be "good" because higher authority exist
(2) Higher authority does not make it objectively good. If there would be two hostile sport federation, each one declaring their champions being the only and true "world champion", the statement "X is world champion" would be not objective, even if that would not be result of my personal preference (though (a) it would reveal my personal preference wrt which sport federation I prefer (b) "X is declared world champion by federation Y" would be objective statement)

Anonymous AB.Prosper November 27, 2017 1:50 PM  

The Kurgan wrote:So you're ok with someone raping you to death because they enjoy it then?

Or doing it to your child?

Because if there is no OBJECTIVE standard of right action then all actions are equal and none are "better" or "worse" than any others.

I'm asking you a direct question, as per the rules of the blog answer:

Is raping a small child to death equivalent morally to eating a ham sandwich?

Is not, why not?

Please don't tell me about your own subjective and thus irrelevant opinion. We are men of science and logic, are we not, so we are only interested with fundamental and objective reality.


I'm not Brad obviously but given I'm the one that opened this can of worms....

There is a difference between "I don't like that." "my culture doesn't like that" and "its objectively immoral"

And as for objective actions regarding harm to me and mine, I don't need a moral system for that. Instinct alone will suffice.

When some person tries to harm me and mine, his moral breach is no more relevant than a rabid bear or a plague germs morals. In either case you defend yourself (bullets or antibiotics respectively)

Morality is useful but its so variable among cultures and through history I can't say that its universal or objective, the closest we ever come is ambush murder or theft of fellow tribesmen and that's accommodated by the fact this destabilizes the tribe

The question whether such behavior offends God or Gods or spirits or whatever a group believes in or if there are lasting post death consequences is separate and the correct objective answer depends on who/what is in charge or has authority.

. If there is an objective deity or deities or whatever setting objective rules than there are morals, that word being defined as "things that offends the divine"

Otherwise no, they are a human construction.

This does emphasize two of our hosts points though, first atheists often don't have a moral or ethical system and this renders them untrustworthy to those who do and the second, the Christian ethical code is outstanding, the best one available for a high order civilization like we are trying to build in the West




Blogger Azure Amaranthine November 27, 2017 1:54 PM  

" It does not follow that if we can define a term, that term must describe something that actually exists.

It does follow that if you can completely accurately define a term then it either exists per that definition or not at all.

"'fundamental principles of right conduct' is just a fancy way of saying 'objective morality of action'."

So what?

"Its the logical fallacy of premising an argument with its conclusion."

Because concluding that a dictionary definition is accurate is automatically logically fallacious.

"To get anywhere with this you would have to produce some fundamental principles of right conduct."

No you wouldn't. You'd just have to prove that the usage in question was incorrect per definition, which is precisely what VD did.

See, your whole problem here is that you totally missed what the actual point was. This has not been a proof of the existence of morality (objective) by Vox. This has merely been a beatdown of subjectivist/relativist shenanigans by Vox.

Anonymous JAG November 27, 2017 1:56 PM  

Some people like to say nature is cruel, and there is no morality behind any of it. But I argue that is not the case. Even in the so called, cruel and uncaring nature it still happens from time to time that a person can take pity on, and rescue an insect that is drowning in a puddle.

Blogger Rabbi B November 27, 2017 2:01 PM  

Morality is useful but its so variable among cultures and through history I can't say that its universal or objective...'

No. Morality is not merely useful and it is certainly not variable.

Everyone is held to and will be measured by a universal standard. Most just don't like it and choose to deny it instead.


Blogger Valtarov November 27, 2017 2:06 PM  

>Morality is an emotion

Your fundamental premise is so flawed nothing else is worth responding to. Not only is that not the definition in dictionary or common usage, it's one that a five-year-old kid would recognize as ridiculous.

Morality is not based upon instinct or emotion alone. Rather it is based on the restored and divinized Personhood of the God-man Jesus Christ. Emotion and instinct itself are corrupted in man, and have no objective claim to moral truth.

Furthermore, instincts more often than not are in conflict. You have no standard by which a person should choose between instincts.

Blogger Call me Kenny November 27, 2017 2:07 PM  

@Rabbi B, I agree completely. Logically I don't see it being any other way, which is why I'm curious as to Vox's statement about how God's existence could be questioned while morality is definitely objective. Those two seem to go hand in hand to me.

Thank you for reminding me the correlation between Rome's fall and the moral degeneracy(along with other issues). I hadn't factored in that you could make an argument for objective morality by analyzing the track record of cultures and their progress/end results.

Blogger Valtarov November 27, 2017 2:08 PM  

The more honest of the New Atheists realized this and became nihilists or Nietzcheans or others that reject morality as well as God.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine November 27, 2017 2:14 PM  

@szopen, "Higher authority does not make it objectively good."

But ultimate authority does.

@A.B. Prosper, "When some person tries to harm me and mine, his moral breach is no more relevant than a rabid bear or a plague germs morals."

That's only true if you and yours' wellbeing have no objective value. Your instinctive reaction may have no immediately obvious bearing on morality, but your instinctive reaction might also be developed or maintained by the influence of morality upon reality at the genetic (or super-generation) level. Obviously the inverse abstraction from meta-reality to genetic may, due to "hardening", (binary mechanics, basically) leave something to be desired in (overall)less-likely situations.

"Morality is useful but its so variable"

Morality, as per definition, is invariable. Either abandon the word or use it correctly.

"If there is an objective deity or deities or whatever setting objective rules than there are morals"

Yes!

"Otherwise no, they are a human construction."

Correct! And humans can only be subjective in and of themselves.

"atheists often don't have a moral or ethical system"

To be more accurate, they cannot possibly have a moral system unless it is adopted from a paradigm other than their own.

Blogger szopen November 27, 2017 2:29 PM  

@185
Morality, as per definition, is invariable. Either abandon the word or use it correctly.

Soooo I should say that everyone (both atheist and christians) are immoral? I mean, if you say that (1) morality either is objective, or does not exist (2) "objective" means ultimate authority (3) atheism therefore implies no morality then I think it does not just follows "atheists shoudl admit they are immoral" but rather "atheists should admit everyone, including christians, are immoral".

Blogger Rabbi B November 27, 2017 2:31 PM  

Soooo I should say that everyone (both atheist and christians) are immoral?

You are not wrong. God Himself would agree with your assessment. Which is why He sent us a Savior, not a moralizer.

Anonymous kHz November 27, 2017 2:33 PM  

"A real man—real in all the ways that we recognize as real—finds himself suddenly abstracted from the world and deposited in a physical situation which could not possibly exist: sounds have aroma, smells have color and depth, sights have texture, touches have pitch and timbre. There he is informed by a disembodied voice that he has been brought to that place as a champion for his world. He must fight to the death in single combat against a champion from another world. If he is defeated, he will die, and his world—the real world—will be destroyed because it lacks the inner strength to survive.

The man refuses to believe that what he is told is true. He asserts that he is either dreaming or hallucinating, and declines to be put in the false position of fighting to the death where no "real" danger exists. He is implacable in his determination to disbelieve his apparent situation, and does not defend himself when he is attacked by the champion of the other world.

Question: Is the man's behavior courageous or cowardly? This is the fundamental question of ethics."

Ethics! Covenant snorted to himself. Who the hell makes these things up?


Within a few pages Covenant encounters Lord Foul (aka Satansheart, Soulcrusher, Fangthane, Corruption, Grey Slayer), who would break Time itself to be free. There's no doubt that he far surpasses the other creatures present under the Arch of Time, in cunning, in ability. The existence of the other creatures is the purpose of his prison. From Foul's perspective, they're the prison itself, in essence.

To a Christian, Foul's imprisonment is morally just, his shattering escape evil.

To an atheist, Foul's breaking of the Arch of Time would be ethical.

Blogger S1AL November 27, 2017 2:42 PM  

'I have to disagree with some of your implications. The wage imbalances in the south were due to people abusing slaves to get more work out of them for less money, thus driving the demand for those jobs and the wages for them down.'

That... was exactly my point.

Note, also, the lesson of history that those societies who import a foreign slave class - whether by was or trade - invite insurrection, violence, and destruction. Not to mention the acceleration of decadence.

Now, are there circumstances where forms of slavery are morally acceptable? Sure. You already tucked on the fact that imprisonment + forced labor (for recompense) is a form of slavery. It's also, frankly, more just than much of our present legal system.

But the fact that slavery might be a moral solution in very specific circumstances does not make it generally acceptable - particularly for Christians following Christian principles.

But, ya know... binary thinkers.

Blogger S1AL November 27, 2017 2:46 PM  

And to address the ongoing argument above about deities and such, the answer to the old question about whether it is commanded because it is good or it is good because it is commanded - the correct answer is: 'Embrace the healing power of "and"'.

h/t Instapundit for that quip

Blogger James Dixon November 27, 2017 2:46 PM  

> If given a choice between saving a drowning human stranger, and your pet dog, which would you choose?

As widlast notes, most dogs can swim so there is likely no choice to make.

OpenID aew51183 November 27, 2017 2:56 PM  

>"Now, if "the fundamental principles of right conduct" are not mere legalities, enactment, or custom, then they must be objective, for the obvious reason that if the standard for right conduct is subjective, then no such standard exists"

How does this assertion scale to to the geopolitical level where civilizations clash.
Are each of their moralities objective within their own civilizations, or are some civilizations simply fundamentally immoral?

Blogger S1AL November 27, 2017 3:02 PM  

'How does this assertion scale to to the geopolitical level where civilizations clash.
Are each of their moralities objective within their own civilizations, or are some civilizations simply fundamentally immoral?'

Some moral issues are contextual, of course. That does mean they are not objective.

And yes, some cultures are simply less moral.

Blogger slarrow November 27, 2017 3:04 PM  

Going back to the beginning, the question of whether morality is objective or subjective is an ontological question (that is, a question about how the world is structured.) The question of whether particular moral positions adhere to that standard is essentially an epistemological question (that, how do we know what that moral standard is.)

"Subjective morality", as Vox points out, is meaningless, because morality as determined by Subject A has no binding power on Subject B, relying instead on sentiment or power. (There's also the question of how it would exist prior to the existence of Subject A.) For morality to be binding, it must exist outside and above the dispute between subjects so they can both appeal to it. Everyone who is not literally self-righteous (i.e., "it is righteous because I say so") works this way.

The mistake the Brad Richards of the world make is in thinking that disagreements about the nature of objective morality means that there is no real objective morality. But this is mistaking epistemology for ontology.

Anonymous AB.Prosper November 27, 2017 3:11 PM  

Rabbi B wrote:Morality is useful but its so variable among cultures and through history I can't say that its universal or objective...'

No. Morality is not merely useful and it is certainly not variable.

Everyone is held to and will be measured by a universal standard. Most just don't like it and choose to deny it instead.



That's a claim predicated on the existence of God or Gods that care about human action. That is not a certainty.

Azure Amaranthine wrote:@szopen, "Higher authority does not make it objectively good."

But ultimate authority does.

@A.B. Prosper, "When some person tries to harm me and mine, his moral breach is no more relevant than a rabid bear or a plague germs morals."

That's only true if you and yours' wellbeing have no objective value. Your instinctive reaction may have no immediately obvious bearing on morality, but your instinctive reaction might also be developed or maintained by the influence of morality upon reality at the genetic (or super-generation) level. Obviously the inverse abstraction from meta-reality to genetic may, due to "hardening", (binary mechanics, basically) leave something to be desired in (overall)less-likely situations.

"Morality is useful but its so variable"

Morality, as per definition, is invariable. Either abandon the word or use it correctly.


Ultimate authority certainly would make morality good. That is of course it exists or if that morality is Christian or with apologies to Rabbi B, Jewish . Again not certain. You could also have a something akin to morality in a Pantheist cosmology though it would be more akin "anger not the Gods"

This is not the use of the word morality as y'all use here though the dictionary allows for a secular definition

a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society.

which is how I am using it.

As for objective value of me and mine's well being, not relevant to the equation. Neither nature nor divinity need care for me to fight. Instinct alone or desire with suffice.

Robert Howard here with a bit of philosophical brilliance cribbed from Lao Tse among others

He shrugged his shoulders. "I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom's realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer's Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content."

Were that I not so inclined to meandering about philosophy I'd probably be a happier man. The cure of High IQ in operation.

I won't say anything about morality as genetic or possible acts of the divine therein. Its somewhat similar to what Stephan McNallen former head of the Asdatru Folk Assembly theorizes as Meta Genetics so the theory isn't new to me. It also doesn't require Gods. The ability to comply with social directives by reflex is evolutionarily useful

All that aside, its a delight to have discussions like this where a person can learn something new and when here are no Gamma males pissing on everything.

Anonymous Seikis November 27, 2017 3:11 PM  

Following that it is only external, then it wouldnt require internal change to stop being Gamma...

Blogger Doom November 27, 2017 3:12 PM  

Weak men do not wish to be bound. This covers my denial of psychology and psychiatry, full faith in objective truth, and why atheists are only held as either spiritualy perhaps mentally impaired or simply dishonest, maybe both. I'd rather deal with one with honest faith without the ability to understand the world than an atheist. One can understand beyond flesh, the other limits himself to flesh which if he is honest,he doesn't understand either. Hard not to hate liars.

Blogger szopen November 27, 2017 3:14 PM  

"Subjective morality", as Vox points out, is meaningless, because morality as determined by Subject A has no binding power on Subject B, relying instead on sentiment or power.
I do not understand why this is an argument at all. If morality is objective, it still has no binding power on subject B, if subject B will fail to recognize it as an objective, or would decide not to follow it.

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