Sorry. Didn’t have time to yap yesterday, but I thought I’d return with a response.
Morality, what’s right and wrong, pre-exists society. That’s the thesis you just agreed to. That we turn to government to preserve it is what Thomas Jefferson wrote about and the Continental Congress approved. Yeah, it seems paradoxical that government should “infringe” on our rights to protect them – hence anarcho capitalists. A world of anarchy is an immoral world where the rights of individuals are violated by predators and in effect would and did result in the imposition of de facto (and then formal) governments. If we must have a government, it should be one dedicated to preserving our rights.
Which no doubt leads you to a utilitarian outlook. It’s not very objective, and if it means attacks on the welfare of individuals to achieve it’s goals, not very right in my book.
I’d argue that Christan ethics are derived from experience and wrapped in a supernatural explanation.
To be clear, it’s not that I think that most of what a Christian calls ethical isn’t, it’s just the justification for those ethics.
Again, we create systems all the time. The system of measurement is an example where groups come together and work out a subjective system based on real experience. It works only because people agree to adhere to it.
I am objectively 6’1" tall with respect to the standard unit of measurement. That standard was chosen subjectively, but that doesn’t lessen its usefulness nor invalidate it if you decide that you want to say I’m not 6’1" tall or that you don’t adhear to the standard unit and you think I’m 25’ tall.
If a group can create rules for a game, measurements and other social rule-sets all based on our values as they relate to our real experiences.
Virtually everyone values the same core ideas. Freedom from harm, suffering sickness and misery (just harm from here on). You don’t need to know a god to know you don’t like those things and why you don’t like them. As a result, people tend the value those things that reduce those states. Because we know others can cause us harm, we know it’s in our own best interest to agree that harming each other is something we should avoid. When the number of people that can agree to enforce their values through social agreement, codes of ethics and morals are adopted.
The confusion lay in the path that a particular group takes. Let’s say we have an isolated group that lives in an area where food is scarce. They are primitive and believe that rain falls when the gods are happy. They believe that sacrifices in the name of their gods will increase rainfall. So they pluck out the eyes of their firstborn children to appease the gods.
Is that moral?
From this societies point-of-view, yes, but you and I know that there is a flaw in their moral calculus. Removing the eyes of children does not increase rainfall, therefore they aren’t achieving the societal goal of valuing freedom from harm, even though they believe they are. The flaw is in their understanding of the world, not the way they constructed their moral system. Garbage in garbage out. Christian ethics are no different. If you believe the Sun is at the center of the universe and you persecute those that defy that belief, the problem isn’t your moral system, but your understanding of the world.
So while society chooses their moral system, that system is always evaluated with respect to universal desires to be free from unjustified harm (potential or actual) and the real objective world of human experience.
The problem of utilitarian systems is they only measure actual harm and suffering.
So in a utilitarian world view raping an unconscious person is ok if they never realize they were raped. Or in a utilitarian worldview, it’s ok to kill one person to save 5 others. There is a way to amend the utilitarian world view that resolves this problem.
It’s not enough just to avoid haring others, you shouldn’t do actual or potential harm.
If you rape someone, you cannot know that you won’t cause that person harm. If it’s a woman, she might become pregnant. You can’t know that she won’t wake up, or that someone might walk in. Lastly, one need only ask themselves, would I want this done to me or someone I care about? If no, then in virtually every context it’s wrong.
Same with cutting up one person to save 5 others. Would you want to live in a world where you could be sacrificed at any moment? I think most people would agree they would be willing to accept their fate and agree not to kill others to save themselves. Suffering in a world like that would come from the constant threat of being the person who is sacrificed for others. Society need only agree they’ed rather avoid that form of mental anguish, they value freedom from harm.
It’s really not that difficult. I’m still shocked at why I get so much resistance to this idea.
The problem is, there are always going to be moral conundrums where the results can violate moral worldviews.
If I was the only person that could divert a nuke from hitting Dallas Tx and instead send it to some small town nearby, would I do it?
In a heartbeat.
We’re not taking 5 lives were talking a net 10’s of thousands of lives. I’d even be willing to accept the consequences of such an action. The only difference is that I would have little if any “skin” in the game and made my decision for purely unselfish reasons.
Sure, but when looking at the social systems, it is possible to evaluate the outcomes to see what systems best accomplish the goals they set (in this case of valuing private property).
A better example might be how to deal with drug use. Is punishment best or treatment?
There is some evidence to suggest that treating peoples underlying issues can be a better way to keep them off drugs than punishment. Again, these systems can all be evaluated scientifically to determine which system/s best achieve the goals that arise from the nearly universal core values we hold as human beings.
After certain things are taken care of, you aren’t left with better or worse, you’re left with trade offs.
Japan has one of the lowest crime rates, healthiest populations and hardest working cultures on the planet; but their sense of Justice undermines innocence, their suicide rate is through the roof, and their “stand & deliver” salary man mindset created an entire generation of men who feel like failures, and are completely alienated from others.
I don’t want to trade our problems for theirs, even if we get the virtues. And the two are connected.
Can’t agree: as a Catholic, I see that suffering can create meaning.
I’m not saying you should go out and hurt someone, but am I saying that this sort of thought leads to looking at lives materially, and saying compelled abortions or euthanasia is good because it limits suffering.
That’s why I say “unwanted” or “unjustified” suffering (though I admit I didn’t write that in my reply to you, it just gets cumbersome having to pre-qualify everything). I took martial arts in a traditional Korean school. I endured my share of suffering and it made me a better person, but it wasn’t unwanted or unjustified because I understood the consequences and (perhaps not then, but now) understand the method of result.
I had one of the worst experiences ever at the dentist the other day. I had a brutal root-canal. The infection spread into the roof of my mouth and they had to drill through the bone in the top of my mouth to alleviate it. Believe I suffered, but again, it wasn’t unwanted because I know that was the best way to alleviate the pain I was in.
But if you and I were trapped for the winter in Antarctica, the best way to solve that problem would have been to pull my tooth out (assuming there were no dentist tools avail and you aren’t a dentist…lol), So circumstances change and as a result the best course of action can change as a result.
I can “create” a better calendar, easily. We SHOULD have 12 months of 28 days and one (the terrible 13th) of 29 days, every 4 years adding one day…the ubiquitous “leap year.” The only reason we don’t is that Judas Iscariot was the 13th Apostle and the Gregorians avoided the number 13th like a plague.
Nonsense, CSB. If religion “automatically” leads to objective truths, then why do many Islamics believe it is a moral “good” to murder “infidels”…often in the most horrific fashion? “Religion” doesn’t lead to moral behavior, though following Christ does, and ALL of western civilization is based on Christianity, regardless of how some governments have perverted the concept.
That might hold true if “treatment” for drug abuse was PROVEN to stop the abuse. We know that it doesn’t. So how does one deal with drug abuse in a rational society? We have objective data that shows drug abusers will EVENTUALLY commit other crimes in order to sustain their addiction. The Uber-rich perhaps being a possible exception, though even THAT is uncertain given our experience with wealthy drug abusers such as DeLorean.
I think the difference is that wealthy drug users do it because they enjoy it, whereas people in poverty often do drugs to escape their realities. Now that’s not a one-size fit all statement, wealthy people can do drugs to escape their terrible lives and poor people can do drugs because they like them.
The point I’m making is that it’s been commonly believed that drugs are uncontrollably addictive, but there is evidence to suggest that when peoples lives improve so does there addiction.
Someone told me that soldiers in Vietnam used hard drugs that would usually be considered extremely addictive, but that when they came home, many were able to quit reasonably easy, suggesting that environment plays a big role in addiction patterns.
If that’s true that means that improving peoples lives will reduce addiction (not necessarily use).
No, not in the same place. I have yet to see any scientifically sound explanation for the universe naturally spontaneously coming into existance. But a supernature covers a multitude of I-don’t-knows. That may not be conclusive proof, but it’s a lot more compelling that a naturalist nothing-became-something explanation.
I think you grossly overestimate the shrinkage of that ignorance, as well as its ramifications.
No, if Christians are really Christian, then they already know it in their heart, and only seek to prove it to a world of unbelievers. As to the evidence in question, that body of evidence keeps growing as archeological and other discoveries and studies continue to support the historicity of the Bible.
As to repeatable experiments, we cannot prove that the universe was even formed at all. Maybe it doesn’t exist, and it’s all a figment of our minds. And maybe our minds are all a figment of our non-minds… (Okay, I’m getting a little silly.)
How in the world do you know if you’re harming someone in a great many cases? You start your car to go to work in the morning, and happen to drive by someone with a serious case of emphysema; or you fan a bee away from you and it flies across the street and stings some kid who’s allergic to it; or you build a farm pond on your property, and someone drowns in it. From our limited worldly knowledge, just about everything has the potential for harm. How do you objectively identify what constitutes a reasonable risk?
And what are the magic numbers of lives saved vs. lives lost that make the objective moral difference between okay to actively make the trade or not?
I’ll answer the question I asked you, for you (because it’s really that easy)r, “why wouldn’t you want someone to smash your finger with a hammer?”.
There are a few reasons:
Because it would hurt really bad
Because it could do permanent damage and make your finger unusable
Because you value freedom from the aggression of others
And so on…
Morality arises from experience, some of which people tend to want to avoid. In this case, freedom from unwanted aggression. You find that others around you want the same thing and you all agree that unwanted aggression (like hitting someone with a hammer) is something you’d all agree is wrong.
Unwanted aggression is immoral.
Why, because it causes unjustified harm.
Question…Does valuing freedom from unwanted aggression and agreeing that anyone that is aggressive toward others (like hitting other people with hammers) should be (at the very least) punished via incarceration achieve the goals of maintaining the value in question?
If yes, the moral and the actions the group takes is consistent with the values held by the group and is ultimately consistent with the basest of desires, freedom from pain, suffering, misery and sickness.
That’s what I said…
And I have yet to see any evidence that a supernatural being caused it either. Now we’re left to try to reason out something that cannot, at this time be proven, only debated.
However, I don’t deny that you might be right, only that I’m not going to act on the wishes of any god before I know that the god in question exists. I mean, how many claims are there out there that specific gods exist?
There are at least a dozen major religions in the world and thousands of variants. Even if I capitulate and decide that a god made all this possible, what are the chances that I’ll pick the right one? What if picking the wrong one is worse than not picking one at all?
My beliefs only require that you follow the evidence. Is everything I believe backed by certifiable testable evidence? Nope, but as the evidence for my beliefs decline, actions taken on behalf of that belief are reduced.
For example, I believe that the universe is large enough that there is probably life in many other places, probably even intelligent life. I can’t prove that and as a result, my actions (which are informed by what I believe) in this case would be minimal based on the consequences.
In other words, the less evidence for a position, the less one should expect others to do on account of that belief.
Your explanation is classic “god-of-the-gaps” thinking.
Now go back 500 years and look at all the gaps that have vanished thanks to the increasing knowledge that we’ve obtained.
Just not sure how that’s any different than what I said. Christians believe that god has already shown/ told/ shared with them how (fill in the blank) and all that’s left is to look for the evidence to prove it so they can convince others. Now if you’re saying the don’t bother with the evidence and skip straight to trying to convince others, well, I won’t disagree that there are many Christians like that.
Actually, there is some, albeit coincidental) evidence that you’re right. Quantum physics uncovers some very, very strange notions about how things work deep inside our universe.
For example (and I’m going to oversimplify this to make it easier to type out), scientists have split particles and noted that if you change the “spin” of one of the two halves, the other half will instantaneously spin in the opposite direction in reaction to changing the first half. So the test was repeated and the halves were spread farther apart and what has been observed is that the two parts react instantaneously. There is no measurable time in which it takes the other half to change. If you put the two halves opposite ends of our galaxy and changed one half the result would be the same. An instantaneous transfer of information across any distance, faster than the speed of light.
Now, one idea is that in “reality” the two haves aren’t really ever separate at all. They exist in the same place and distance and time are just an illusion.
There is another experiment that shows that light is both a wave and a particle and that it exists, simultaneously in both states until someone views it directly or indirectly via a measuring device.
Now what’s really weird is that this is very, very, very similar to how a computer works and how it creates simulations of the world.
I doubt you’ve ever played a video game (though you might have, I dunno), but if you’ve ever seen or played a game in which you are playing in first person, the computer only draws what you’re looking at in order to save processing power. That which is behind you does not exist until you turn around and look at it.
You can play in worlds that are thousands of miles square, in some cases you can program entire universes, but in reality the space of that simulated world exists on my hard drive, memory and CPU.
Now, before you say anything, I don’t beleive this is the case and I’ve done a poor job expaining all of the erie similarities between virtual worlds and some of the quantum weirdness that we observe in nature, but your statment isn’t as far fetched as you might think.