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Morals without God or Religion?


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#51 Jabadoodle

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:14 PM

You could define something as wrong.  And everyone in your society might agree with your assessment.  For all intents and purposes, that act is wrong in your world.

 

But that same act may not be considered wrong in a different culture. 

 

The act is neither right nor wrong. 

 

Just because you accept/define a consensus notion does not make that notion fundamentally correct. 


I'll address this first, 'cause it's easy. This is exactly not my point. I'm saying that we can define a system of morality and ethics that is not defined just on consensus. 



#52 Sensei Miller

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:17 PM

Yes, and a lunatic can define the streetlight as a space ship.

 

You can define anything you want, consensus or not.

 

But what I said still stands: The fact that you have to define it excludes it from being a fundamental truth in the first place.



#53 Jabadoodle

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:25 PM

It most DEFINITELY does.

 

Fundamental truths do not need to be defined.  They just are.

 

Furthermore, fundamental truths don't need to be described in a certain context or frame of reference (such as humanity).  They are true in all contexts.

 

 

Okay, I get what you are saying. I will point out that everything is in a frame of reference. Even gravity or the nature of matter depends on where you're at. Physics (I believe) tells us these things change (or may change) dramatically at other times & places. 

 

Anyway, you brought in the word "fundamentally" and for what I want to say I don't need to get into that. What I wanted to say (and did say) is:   I believe one *can* define right and wrong, within a frame of reference (being human), and not just based on "cause that's the way I was raised" or "that's what feels right to me".


What I'm saying is we can define right and wrong on a system of values, rather than on just "consensus" or "majority rule" or "because I was raised that way" or "because I feel it's right".
 



#54 Sensei Miller

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:27 PM

Let's take temperature as an example:

 

Zero degrees Celsius.  We can agree that 0 deg C is cold.  We can define anything below, say, 5 deg C as cold.

 

The fact that it is zero degrees is a fundamental truth.

 

The "fact" that it is cold out is a construct defined by humans, and is not a fundamental truth.



#55 Sensei Miller

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:28 PM

I totally agree with that last post.  And I'll raise you one by saying that we pretty much need to do that in order to function in a society with other people.

 

I was just typing.

 

Anyway...the more I think about it, the more I think that religion often takes the "morality" out of our decisions. 



#56 concert andy

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:30 PM

Okay, I get what you are saying. I will point out that everything is in a frame of reference. Even gravity or the nature of matter depends on where you're at. Physics (I believe) tells us these things change (or may change) dramatically at other times & places. 

 

Anyway, you brought in the word "fundamentally" and for what I want to say I don't need to get into that. What I wanted to say (and did say) is:   I believe one *can* define right and wrong, within a frame of reference (being human), and not just based on "cause that's the way I was raised" or "that's what feels right to me".


What I'm saying is we can define right and wrong on a system of values, rather than on just "consensus" or "majority rule" or "because I was raised that way" or "because I feel it's right".
 

 

How do we go about getting there?  



#57 Jabadoodle

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:39 PM

I totally agree with that last post.  And I'll raise you one by saying that we pretty much need to do that in order to function in a society with other people.
 
Anyway...the more I think about it, the more I think that religion often takes the "morality" out of our decisions. 

 


Kind of why I started this thread is I think "we pretty much need to [define a system of values not based on religion or on personal preferences] in order to function in a society with other people." I think that without it we debate & argue about surface things, but can never resolve them because we fundamentally* disagree on our values and our ethics. Maybe not even disagree, but haven't explicitly stated them (even our own personal ones) so we keep slipping around.

* Not your depth of fundamentally.
 
 

 

How do we go about getting there?  

 

Yeah. I've set myself up here. It's a long hard road. Next week...
 

Spoiler



#58 Sensei Miller

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:47 PM

Oh man... last off topic thing I swear!

 

Once as a camp counselor we were on a day off having fun at a local dive motel.

 

The biggest dork/nerd of the group was totally plastered.  He had been getting kind of bullied by this one guy all week.  So, the nerd was in the bathroom for a while, and we heard him talking to himself etc. 

 

He comes out, with a clock radio in his hand like a weapon, goes up to the bully and says "How much do you value your life?!"

 

We all had to pull him away and calm him down.  Ever since, that's been one of our little catch phrases. 



#59 Ginger Snap

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:48 PM

Also...

 

What if you steal something, but the "victim" never notices.  It hasn't screwed up their life, but it's still stealing.

 

What if you are in a situation where stealing is the only way to feed a starving family?

 

Etc etc. 

 

I was taught that ethics is what you do when no one is watching. Now, if I have a starving child and all I can see is to steal a loaf of bread so that they may be saved, I may have acted unethically, but not necessarily immorally. 



#60 concert andy

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:49 PM

Oh man... last off topic thing I swear!

 

Once as a camp counselor we were on a day off having fun at a local dive motel.

 

The biggest dork/nerd of the group was totally plastered.  He had been getting kind of bullied by this one guy all week.  So, the nerd was in the bathroom for a while, and we heard him talking to himself etc. 

 

He comes out, with a clock radio in his hand like a weapon, goes up to the bully and says "How much do you value your life?!"

 

We all had to pull him away and calm him down.  Ever since, that's been one of our little catch phrases. 

 

 

Well the bully was wrong.  :lol:



#61 Sensei Miller

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:50 PM

I was taught that ethics is what you do when no one is watching.

 

Me too, absolutely.



#62 Ginger Snap

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:52 PM

Anyway, you brought in the word "fundamentally" and for what I want to say I don't need to get into that. What I wanted to say (and did say) is:   I believe one *can* define right and wrong, within a frame of reference (being human), and not just based on "cause that's the way I was raised" or "that's what feels right to me".


What I'm saying is we can define right and wrong on a system of values, rather than on just "consensus" or "majority rule" or "because I was raised that way" or "because I feel it's right".
 

 

Here I think there is a difference between ethics in bold, and morals in blue. Ethics are dependent on others, and morals are not necessarily. 



#63 Sensei Miller

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 08:55 PM

Well the bully was wrong.   :lol:

 

Totally. 

 

It's even better cause this kid is totally gentle and harmless 99.9% of the time, but this one instant he had the look of death in his eyes.

 

Like, if looks could kill, the bully would be dead.

 

Totally thought he was gonna snap.  We're all still friends though.  Even the "nerd" laughs when we ask him how much he values his life.



#64 Ginger Snap

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:02 PM

Kind of why I started this thread is I think "we pretty much need to [define a system of values not based on religion or on personal preferences] in order to function in a society with other people." I think that without it we debate & argue about surface things, but can never resolve them because we fundamentally* disagree on our values and our ethics. Maybe not even disagree, but haven't explicitly stated them (even our own personal ones) so we keep slipping around.

* Not your depth of fundamentally.
 
 

 

 

Yeah. I've set myself up here. It's a long hard road. Next week...
 

Spoiler

 

 

I think we've been talking about this for quite sometime, I remember telling you a long time ago I think one of the fundamental challenges to my generation is to clearly define core values that it finds important. We've lost that and are swimming in a sea of relativism and need something to move towards and build a language around what kind of world "do I" want to live in. Else we're just chasing our tails. It's to easy to get lost in dual approaches and spectrums: the individual/ community, conservation/progress, other examples. majority rule/rights of the minority, but I think they can be reconciled. 

 

:speaking as a moral relativist: :bolt:



#65 Ginger Snap

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:12 PM


Kind of why I started this thread is I think "we pretty much need to [define a system of values not based on religion or on personal preferences] in order to function in a society with other people." I think that without it we debate & argue about surface things, but can never resolve them because we fundamentally* disagree on our values and our ethics. Maybe not even disagree, but haven't explicitly stated them (even our own personal ones) so we keep slipping around.

* Not your depth of fundamentally.
 
 

 

 

Yeah. I've set myself up here. It's a long hard road. Next week...
 

Spoiler

 

Sheesh haven't you been paying attention too chinabeek? It's all about Looooove maaaan. :funny1: :heart: 



#66 Jabadoodle

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:26 PM

I was taught that ethics is what you do when no one is watching. Now, if I have a starving child and all I can see is to steal a loaf of bread so that they may be saved, I may have acted unethically, but not necessarily immorally. 

 

Under your definition...

Isn't that "ethics is what you do when people are watching". That is, if people are watching you would not steel the bread because it's "unethical" and you'd be caught/stopped. So ethics is what you break when no one is watching. Morals are what you do whether someone is watching or not...you'll steel the bread when no one is watching because it doesn't go against your morals, but maybe you would not KILL someone else's child* for the bread because that would go against your morals. 

If that's not strong enough for some, you might not kill 50 people just to get bread. Or betray your true love just to get bread. Or whatever your moral code holds as it's highest value.
 

 

Here I think there is a difference between ethics in bold, and morals in blue. Ethics are dependent on others, and morals are not necessarily. 

 

I'm almost with you on this, just I'd change the wording a little.

Ethics are the rules we live by in society with others. And currently they are usually dependent on those others. But (my point) is they're origen does not have to be dependent on others. 

Morals too often come from others, witness people saying it was "how they were raised". But, again, they don't have to stem from that. 

But yes I agree, ethics seems to be more about societal rules while morals is your own internal rules. (Roughly speaking)

 

Totally. 

 

It's even better cause this kid is totally gentle and harmless 99.9% of the time, but this one instant he had the look of death in his eyes.

 

Like, if looks could kill, the bully would be dead.

 

Totally thought he was gonna snap.  We're all still friends though.  Even the "nerd" laughs when we ask him how much he values his life.


That was a good story. And in a way I can relate. Fortunately I haven't actually been backed into any corners since I was pre-adult. But when I'd been threaded that I might be backed into a corner -- or when I've thought it might go that way -- my internal dialog has followed similarly to this total gentle, harmless, dork/nerd: I think, yep, I'm not a great fighter because I don't fight. But somewhere somehow I feel this line. It's like, if you come after me unjustly in a contest I can't win, you better kill me -- because if you just take away all options such that there is no justice -- my "morals" will "snap" and I'd kill over it. ~ And the few times I've thought that it might possibly happen that someone would push that far, I read them as being willing to give a beating, but not thinking it through to the kill stage. They are thinking "I'll show them a lesson", but I'm thinking from a whole different perspective. 

Not saying I'm a bad ass :lmao: just saying I think I get where this kid was coming from -- I think it's an intellectual place that isn't noticed much.

 

I think we've been talking about this for quite sometime, I remember telling you a long time ago I think one of the fundamental challenges to my generation is to clearly define core values that it finds important. We've lost that and are swimming in a sea of relativism and need something to move towards and build a language around what kind of world "do I" want to live in. Else we're just chasing our tails. It's to easy to get lost in dual approaches and spectrums: the individual/ community, conservation/progress, other examples. majority rule/rights of the minority, but I think they can be reconciled. 

 

:speaking as a moral relativist: :bolt:

 

Yep, I recall. I'm quite content that I'm getting back to discussing the things I like to - and that I think are important.

 


If you are a moral relativist, how can you be valuing the idea of defining core values? One the other hand, you can eat your cake and have it too, depending what type of relativist you are: Moral relativism is any of several philosophical positions concerned with differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures. 

 

Descriptive moral relativism holds only that some people do in fact disagree about what is moral; 

Meta-ethical moral relativism holds that in such disagreements, nobody is objectively right or wrong;

Normative moral relativism holds that because nobody is right/wrong, we ought tolerate behaviors even when we disagree about the morality of it.



#67 Ginger Snap

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 10:29 PM

The short of it is in practice I'm a relative moralist, and in philosophy, it's moving closer to being reconciled to some fundamentals. Hence the bolting. :lol:



#68 Jabadoodle

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 10:38 PM

The short of it is in practice I'm a relative moralist, and in philosophy, it's moving closer to being reconciled to some fundamentals. Hence the bolting. :lol:

 

Curious what you mean by being a moral relativist / relative moralist in practice. Does that mean your own morals change in different situations or that in the same situations you are open to other's having different morals...or something different...or both...or um...



#69 Ginger Snap

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 10:59 PM

Curious what you mean by being a moral relativist / relative moralist in practice. Does that mean your own morals change in different situations or that in the same situations you are open to other's having different morals...or something different...or both...or um...

 

In part, but more it means when I'm looking at others' behaviors (I am educated as a sociologist) I see try to see them in their own context which is different from my own. It was helpful when looking at trying to explain why people act the way they do, and it certainly helps with the people I work with. It's obvious to me that different people from different cultures have different morality- I'm wondering if there aren't a couple/few fundamentals that can emerge from all of them. 



#70 Jabadoodle

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:25 PM

In part, but more it means when I'm looking at others' behaviors (I am educated as a sociologist) I see try to see them in their own context which is different from my own. It was helpful when looking at trying to explain why people act the way they do, and it certainly helps with the people I work with. It's obvious to me that different people from different cultures have different morality- I'm wondering if there aren't a couple/few fundamentals that can emerge from all of them. 

 

As I understand moral relativism, and as you just said it here ... there is nothing inconsistent with being a moral relativist and with also trying/wanting/seeing the value in "generation is to clearly define core values that it finds important". 

So when you "bolted" I though maybe you meant something else by moral relativism, something that would be be contradictory to defining core values. That's why I asked if maybe you meant something personal. As it is, I see no reason you had to bolt -- other than it's a funny emoticon.


From the above definitions I am a moral relativist. How can one not admit that people do disagree on what is moral.

I'm not though a Meta-ethical moral relativist. That is, I do think there are (or at least may be) objectively definable rights & wrongs.
 



#71 Ginger Snap

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:35 PM

As I understand moral relativism, and as you just said it here ... there is nothing inconsistent with being a moral relativist and with also trying/wanting/seeing the value in "generation is to clearly define core values that it finds important". 

So when you "bolted" I though maybe you meant something else by moral relativism, something that would be be contradictory to defining core values. That's why I asked if maybe you meant something personal. As it is, I see no reason you had to bolt -- other than it's a funny emoticon.


From the above definitions I am a moral relativist. How can one not admit that people do disagree on what is moral.

I'm not though a Meta-ethical moral relativist. That is, I do think there are (or at least may be) objectively definable rights & wrongs.

 

A fundamental problem with moral relativity is the very claim that morality should be specified relativistically is not itself a relativistic claim. It claims to be a truth always, which is in direct opposition to relativity. :lol: That's why I said practicing, but not the whole of it for me. It's a fancy term for compassionate understanding as far as I'm concerned. 

 

And yes actually, I started to type out a whole thing about we as a generation can define core values, and they will be values for us, without the necessity of finding those that came before us immoral. and other stuff. lol 



#72 Ginger Snap

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 11:46 PM

As I understand moral relativism, and as you just said it here ... there is nothing inconsistent with being a moral relativist and with also trying/wanting/seeing the value in "generation is to clearly define core values that it finds important". 

So when you "bolted" I though maybe you meant something else by moral relativism, something that would be be contradictory to defining core values. That's why I asked if maybe you meant something personal. As it is, I see no reason you had to bolt -- other than it's a funny emoticon.


From the above definitions I am a moral relativist. How can one not admit that people do disagree on what is moral.

I'm not though a Meta-ethical moral relativist. That is, I do think there are (or at least may be) objectively definable rights & wrongs.
 

 

My understanding is that this means that you are NOT a relativist. 



#73 Jabadoodle

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 01:39 AM

My understanding is that this means that you are NOT a relativist. 

 

1: I said "from the above definitions" --  meaning Wikipedia

2: Wiki said, "Moral relativism is any of several philosophical positions..."

3: One of which was, "Descriptive moral relativism holds only that some people do in fact disagree about what is moral; 

4: I do recognize and believe that some people do in fact disagree about what is moral

5: Therefore I am (or subscribe to) Descriptive morel relativism.

6: Therefore I am also, by Wiki's definition, a moral relativist. -- even though I hold that there are objectively definable rights & wrongs.


Now, it sure seems to me that Wiki's definition (or my reading of it) that includes Descriptive Moral relativism as a moral relativist, is wrong.



#74 Jabadoodle

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 01:47 AM

A fundamental problem with moral relativity is the very claim that morality should be specified relativistically is not itself a relativistic claim. It claims to be a truth always, which is in direct opposition to relativity. :lol: That's why I said practicing, but not the whole of it for me. It's a fancy term for compassionate understanding as far as I'm concerned. 

 

And yes actually, I started to type out a whole thing about we as a generation can define core values, and they will be values for us, without the necessity of finding those that came before us immoral. and other stuff. lol 


Nice catch. Being a strict moral relativist (as opposed to a descriptive one) isn't a contradiction, rather it's simply claiming there is no such thing as right & wrong in a moral sense. Such a claim is not a moral claim but a claim about facts.

 



#75 Jabadoodle

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 01:55 AM

A fundamental problem with moral relativity is the very claim that morality should be specified relativistically is not itself a relativistic claim. It claims to be a truth always, which is in direct opposition to relativity. :lol: That's why I said practicing, but not the whole of it for me. It's a fancy term for compassionate understanding as far as I'm concerned. 

 

Again, I don't see that as a fundamental problem. The claim moral relativity is making is not a moral claim, it's a factual one. Moral relativity is not claiming total relativity. It is not, for example, claiming that gravity doesn't exist or that gravity only exists if you believe in it. I'm not seeing moral relativism as a contradiction to itself, hence no fundamental dilemma.
 

 

In part, but more it means when I'm looking at others' behaviors (I am educated as a sociologist) I see try to see them in their own context which is different from my own. It was helpful when looking at trying to explain why people act the way they do, and it certainly helps with the people I work with. It's obvious to me that different people from different cultures have different morality- I'm wondering if there aren't a couple/few fundamentals that can emerge from all of them. 

 

So the first time I asked it was because I didn't see why the need for the  :bolt:. Now I ask because I'm asking.

 

You mention that you have your own moral context. So, understanding that you are open too seeing others' behaviors in their own context, and leaving that aside. What is your context? Within your context, are there absolutes? How do yo arrive at them? 

 

 


#76 Ginger Snap

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 02:09 AM

1: I said "from the above definitions" --  meaning Wikipedia

2: Wiki said, "Moral relativism is any of several philosophical positions..."

3: One of which was, "Descriptive moral relativism holds only that some people do in fact disagree about what is moral; 

4: I do recognize and believe that some people do in fact disagree about what is moral

5: Therefore I am (or subscribe to) Descriptive morel relativism.

6: Therefore I am also, by Wiki's definition, a moral relativist. -- even though I hold that there are objectively definable rights & wrongs.


Now, it sure seems to me that Wiki's definition (or my reading of it) that includes Descriptive Moral relativism as a moral relativist, is wrong.

 

Yes, right, here descriptive moral relativism then is the same as my practical or working relativism (used by social scientists) - but it is not a philosophical position, merely an observation. (yet another indication the social sciences are as soft as they say. Cowards. :lol:

 

But for philosophy or ethical considerations, that understanding of moral relativism is not enough, and not my understanding.  And yes, wiki has it wrong. 



#77 Ginger Snap

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 02:41 AM

For your other question, I'm going to sleep on the rest and get back to you in the morning. :smile: 



#78 namaste

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:47 AM

its how you were raised.

It's not always.  My parents are extremely conservative to the point of being very prejudiced, racist, and just plain mean.  I knew this from a very early age and knew deep inside myself that they were wrong and bad.  (I have mellowed and so have they, but that's how I was raised)  They beat and berated me and my siblings and laugh at their 'style' of parenting to this day.  They believed in the 'rightness' of spare the rod spoil the child.  I and my sisters are quite the opposite.  Polar opposite.  Because I live by the golden rule and that's my morality.  Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.  And that's the way I live my life.  Every day, every encounter, that's my choice.  

 

Christian or any religion values seem to be flawed in my eyes.  How many wars and other acts of violence have been committed in the name of god?  Seriously do people really believe god wants them to be assholes?  Religion has become so twisted, and by that I mean organized religion.  Even Jesus didn't appreciate the Pharisees and their preaching.  

 

Why can't we all just be good to each other without the fear of punishment for being bad (ie- hell)    The concepts of right and wrong will never be universal as long as people are thinking beings.  Everyone will have their own versions.  But some things IMO are obvious.  There will always be evil in the world and some people are just demented or without feelings for their fellow humans.  That is wrong.  



#79 deadheadskier

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 06:14 AM

So this has been floating around Facebook lately:


carter_zps0c7b71e1.jpg

 


 

.   I really don't like President Carter's statement here.  While his intent in making the statement seems very sincere in trying to advance compassion; it loses sincerity because it's motive is so obviously politically motivated.  The comment only perpetuates divisiveness.  He's basically saying, "I'm a better Christian than you. I understand the will of God better than you do; and you need to change.  How dare you call yourself a Christian if you don't view the world through the same glasses I do."

 

There's WAY too much of that in this world.  No offense to the organized religion followers/believers (no matter the religion) on the boards, but I'm with John Lennon; get rid of all of them, and you get closer to ridding the world of the divisiveness that plagues us as a species.   



#80 namaste

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 02:49 PM

.   I really don't like President Carter's statement here.  While his intent in making the statement seems very sincere in trying to advance compassion; it loses sincerity because it's motive is so obviously politically motivated.  The comment only perpetuates divisiveness.  He's basically saying, "I'm a better Christian than you. I understand the will of God better than you do; and you need to change.  How dare you call yourself a Christian if you don't view the world through the same glasses I do."

 

There's WAY too much of that in this world.  No offense to the organized religion followers/believers (no matter the religion) on the boards, but I'm with John Lennon; get rid of all of them, and you get closer to ridding the world of the divisiveness that plagues us as a species.   

 

Exactly. 



#81 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 11:42 PM

So, if one isn't religious, can you still be moral?

 

Yes, i believe one can. There are of course, shades of grey dependent upon cultural and also circumstance. 

 

 

If you're moral, is it just by coincidence / luck, or can you have a defined moral system?

 

I think ti would depend on the individual. But ultimately, survival probably trumps any moral implication. At least in the immediate term.

 

 

If you have a system, is it all relative or are there moral absolutes? 

 

See above.



#82 deadheadskier

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 05:29 AM

Here's a question.  

 

Is morality 100% environmental/cultural?

 

Morality is culturally established and defined in religion, laws and numerous social arrangements.  It varies a lot across cultures and individuals.

 

However, isn't there also innate morality? Morality of the heart so to speak.  I feel like I see that in nature all the time.  That obviously doesn't occur because of God or Religion. 

 

nature vs. nurture



#83 Jabadoodle

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 09:55 AM

Here's a question.  

 

Is morality 100% environmental/cultural?

 

Morality is culturally established and defined in religion, laws and numerous social arrangements.  It varies a lot across cultures and individuals.

 

However, isn't there also innate morality? Morality of the heart so to speak.  I feel like I see that in nature all the time.  That obviously doesn't occur because of God or Religion. 

 

nature vs. nurture

 

Hey Ryan! I think what you're asking / saying goes with Ginger's moral relativism comment. Is all morality just cultural (relative to that culture) or are there objective (natural) moral laws? I believe there are objective morals that can be found simply by observing (seeing) nature and drawing (logically, not just whimsically) conclusions.

 

I also agree with what you said about the Carter quote. For what it's worth: there seems to be some doubt as to whether Carter actually said that.



#84 Jabadoodle

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 10:50 AM

I like that you brought the world "natural" into the discussion. Back of my mind, I've been thinking about why morals or ethics at all? Animals don't (seem) to need them, they just do/act/are. So why do humans need (or feel the need) to have morals/ethics?

 

A god-believing person might say it's because we have the capacity for evil. I guess that's one way to look at it. My own way is that we have developed beyond mere responding to what actually and immediately exists in the now. We have evolved the capacity to create complex models of reality in our minds. We can picture tomorrow (or one minute from now) and we can (with varying degrees of accuracy) predict that is we take action X then result Y will likely occur. We do this 100s of times per minute, in all things big and small. 

 

The models we make in our minds include all sorts of "structures". We know that a wine glass has certain properties. We we drink out of it, rather than the plastic cup, we know the wine will taste better, that our tactile senses will enjoy the feel of the glass, that we will be more socially acceptable at the dinner table. We also know the wine glass is almost guaranteed to break if we drop it and that it's more likely to tip over if we aren't careful. It's a model in our minds that gives us all that information, transparently and immediately, as we reach for a glass in the cupboard.

 

Our model consists of things (like wineglasses) and their properties (like fragile). One of the things we need in our model are "rules" that tell us what the result of our actions will be. Not just the physical result (I lash out at you in a huge way for simply taking the last mozzarella slice) but the social result (I'm way over the top and even feel myself that I've over reacted). Our model needs moral and ethical rules. The ethical rules (as we've seemed to agree in this thread) are the societal rules. Society says it's not appropriate to lash out over something as inconsequential as a slice of mozzarella. Our own internal morals tend to tell us that too.

If we are living in a society that is ideal for us, our internal morals match closely with the societal ethics. It seems that the ethics flow from our own internal morals. Of course since each person's internal morals are slightly different, the societal ethics tend to be a little different than our own morals. So while society might say that gay marriage or smoking pot or letting your kids stay up until 3am is "wrong", our own morals may be that all of those things a perfectly fine. 

So, where shall we get our morals. If they are simply gut feeling or passed down from our parents -- that may be a good place to start. After all, these are rules and ideas that have survived the test of time. But I also advocate for observation and logic. The world changes quickly, especially now, and the old rules aren't always adequate for the now. Even more importantly, there is too much tendency for deep fissures when your deeply held morals clash with mine. If there is no objective/natural way to resolve these, we end up divided - or worse. 

 

Note: The wine was good, though as usual has left me with a hangover. 



#85 china cat

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 12:54 PM

My two cents...

 

Morality has been argued by some as a uniquely human activity and a result of our symbolic capabilities. Animals don't build altars of worship or contemplate the afterlife.

 

Because humans are meaning makers, because we can think conceptually, again, we can consider constructs that have no real world counterpart. There doesn't seem to be any "right" and "wrong" in nature. These are ideas existing outside the sensory material world. These are meanings we over-lay to things within the sensory/material world.

 

Here's my condensed version of one theorist's take on morality being a result of humans ability to use language

 

 

Theorist Kenneth Burke’s argument for language as the moralizing agent

  1. Burke does not invoke metaphysics as an explanation for our source of moral understanding. Any arguments grounded in mysticism are futile. We cannot know if morality has been “handed down” by an unknown creator.  Let us focus on this world and the things we can know in this world to find meaning, morality, and thus, a standard of ethics to live by.
  2. Symbol use is what makes human beings human (Burke stays away from metaphysics leaving it up to us to decide where language originated. Was the potential for language implicit in the Big Bang or did some metaphysical creator invent language? Burke is not interested in where language comes from rather; he is interested in what it does now that it’s here. If YOU care, it’s up to you to decide) Inherent in language is the negative and it is the negative that moralizes humanity.  The negative is not only “what is not” but also “thou shalt not”
  3. There are no “nots” and “thou shalt nots” in nature. They exist only in language. Because language is uniquely human, thou shalt nots are uniquely human, thus, morality is uniquely human.
  4. The thou shalt nots are instilled in us tikes.  We are “negatively infused…our character is built of our responses to the thousands of thou shalt nots of morality”

 

Our character is built based on the acceptance or rejection of them.

 

So…. no negative, no character – no character, no action – no action, we are no longer human. What makes us human is contingent on our ability to act, which is contingent on the negative, which is contingent on language. NO LANGUAGE, NO HUMANS.

 

     5. Ethics are grounded in morality. Morality is grounded in language.  Burke has just demystified morality.

         So we will do better to root our ethical guidelines and standards in this thing called language than if we

         attempt to root them in some unknown metaphysical entity.

 

    6. So out of the negative and cultural and biological needs we develop a code (or many different codes) of  

        ethics. We then establish laws, rules, order, and ways of understanding based on these ethics. (we also

        create guilt when we fail to live up to them but that is another post entirely).

 

More on Burke: http://www.amazon.co.../ref=pd_sim_b_2

 

http://www.comm.umn....ke/rhetrel.html



#86 china cat

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 01:03 PM

I don't think any moral is fundamentally true/valid in its own right.  Even if 999,999 people out of a million agree that stealing is bad, it doesn't mean that stealing is bad in and of itself.

 

It just means that most people agree that stealing is bad.  When that happens, we assign "not stealing" to be a moral or ethical practice.

 

Anybody who behaves in a way that is consistent with what their society deems moral can be said to be a moral person.

 

Many foreign/alien practices may seem immoral to us, as outside viewers.  But that doesn't mean they're fundamentally bad.  It just means that they're inconsistent with the moral constructs of our own immediate society.

 

In fact, nothing can be said to be fundamentally good or bad.  It's all relative, as has been said above.

 

All in all, I don't think "moral" behavior is dependent on religion whatsoever.  Is a Jewish person fundamentally immoral because they are not Islamic?  Vice-Versa?  Or is it just that a person needs to follow some religion, regardless of what that religion may be?  Does a human sacrifice-practicing sect of Satan worshipers count as a religion? 

 

It gets mighty dirty mighty quickly if we say morality is dependent upon religion.

 

Similarly, I don't believe in fundamental human rights.  Don't get me wrong: I live in a way that values equality and other things that we define as "rights."  However, we are not entitled to anything just because we were born.  In fact, I think it's a downright GIFT that someone didn't leave the constantly crying, pant-shitting, helpless being that was me as a baby in a basket floating down a river.

 

In the end, we typically agree on certain things as a society.  We classify these things as human rights, or moral behaviors, or fundamentally good.  But this is all a social construct, and as such, it is just an illusion.

 

lovin your contributions.



#87 Ginger Snap

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 01:36 PM

My two cents...

 

Morality has been argued by some as simply a uniquely human activity and a result of our symbolic capabilities. Animals don't build altars of worship or contemplate the afterlife.

 

  1. Symbol use is what makes human beings human (Burke stays away from metaphysics leaving it up to us to decide where language originated. Was the potential for language implicit in the Big Bang or did some metaphysical creator invent language? Burke is not interested in where language comes from rather; he is interested in what it does now that it’s here. If YOU care, it’s up to you to decide) Inherent in language is the negative and it is the negative that moralizes humanity.  The negative is not only “what is not” but also “thou shalt not”
  2. There are no “nots” and “thou shalt nots” in nature. They exist only in language. Because language is uniquely human, thou shalt nots are uniquely human, thus, morality is uniquely human.
  3. The thou shalt nots are instilled in us tikes.  We are “negatively infused…our character is built of our responses to the thousands of thou shalt nots of morality”

 

Our character is built based on the acceptance or rejection of them.

 

So…. no negative, no character – no character, no action – no action, we are no longer human. What makes us human is contingent on our ability to act, which is contingent on the negative, which is contingent on language. NO LANGUAGE, NO HUMANS.

 

I find it really interesting that you used these specific words...in starting to write out my answer to g's question about what my context is, I start by telling about how my father taught me very young (himself a seminary dropout)  a distinction between "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not" that has always stuck with me and I think helps frame my context...for the most part have little use for the "shalt nots." It doesn't lend anything to move towards and takes away rather than builds...although I don't completely discount them- torturing someone or something for enjoyment is wrong -for me would be a moral absolute I believe in and is framed as a "thou shalt not." 



#88 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 09:27 PM

My two cents...

 

Morality has been argued by some as a uniquely human activity and a result of our symbolic capabilities. Animals don't build altars of worship or contemplate the afterlife.

 

Because humans are meaning makers, because we can think conceptually, again, we can consider constructs that have no real world counterpart. There doesn't seem to be any "right" and "wrong" in nature. These are ideas existing outside the sensory material world. These are meanings we over-lay to things within the sensory/material world.

 

Here's my condensed version of one theorist's take on morality being a result of humans ability to use language

 

 

Theorist Kenneth Burke’s argument for language as the moralizing agent

  1. Burke does not invoke metaphysics as an explanation for our source of moral understanding. Any arguments grounded in mysticism are futile. We cannot know if morality has been “handed down” by an unknown creator.  Let us focus on this world and the things we can know in this world to find meaning, morality, and thus, a standard of ethics to live by.
  2. Symbol use is what makes human beings human (Burke stays away from metaphysics leaving it up to us to decide where language originated. Was the potential for language implicit in the Big Bang or did some metaphysical creator invent language? Burke is not interested in where language comes from rather; he is interested in what it does now that it’s here. If YOU care, it’s up to you to decide) Inherent in language is the negative and it is the negative that moralizes humanity.  The negative is not only “what is not” but also “thou shalt not”
  3. There are no “nots” and “thou shalt nots” in nature. They exist only in language. Because language is uniquely human, thou shalt nots are uniquely human, thus, morality is uniquely human.
  4. The thou shalt nots are instilled in us tikes.  We are “negatively infused…our character is built of our responses to the thousands of thou shalt nots of morality”

 

Our character is built based on the acceptance or rejection of them.

 

So…. no negative, no character – no character, no action – no action, we are no longer human. What makes us human is contingent on our ability to act, which is contingent on the negative, which is contingent on language. NO LANGUAGE, NO HUMANS.

 

     5. Ethics are grounded in morality. Morality is grounded in language.  Burke has just demystified morality.

         So we will do better to root our ethical guidelines and standards in this thing called language than if we

         attempt to root them in some unknown metaphysical entity.

 

    6. So out of the negative and cultural and biological needs we develop a code (or many different codes) of  

        ethics. We then establish laws, rules, order, and ways of understanding based on these ethics. (we also

        create guilt when we fail to live up to them but that is another post entirely).

 

More on Burke: http://www.amazon.co.../ref=pd_sim_b_2

 

http://www.comm.umn....ke/rhetrel.html

 

 

Brilliant.

 

I :heart: you.



#89 china cat

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 11:46 PM

wow, really? Burke and I thank you for thinking so :)



#90 china cat

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 12:47 PM

I find it really interesting that you used these specific words...in starting to write out my answer to g's question about what my context is, I start by telling about how my father taught me very young (himself a seminary dropout)  a distinction between "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not" that has always stuck with me and I think helps frame my context...for the most part have little use for the "shalt nots." It doesn't lend anything to move towards and takes away rather than builds...although I don't completely discount them- torturing someone or something for enjoyment is wrong -for me would be a moral absolute I believe in and is framed as a "thou shalt not." 

 

this is more Burke's language than mine.  (Fun fact: He's Harry Chapin's grandfather). A lot of my grad work was centered around postmodern rhetoricians, which definitely influenced my religious views and called into question my belief in absolute Truth. Cultural narrative seems far more influential on our religious beliefs and ethics than does much else (to me)



#91 china cat

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 01:36 PM

btw, I'd love to see a thread about individual rights versus social responsibility (or individualist versus collectivist cultures)



#92 Jabadoodle

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 02:01 PM

filepicker%2FH0OZarCHS8u63ZAuAmJD_reset.



#93 Jabadoodle

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 02:01 PM

So maybe I made a mistake a bit by asking too many questions in the first post. And maybe people are okay talking around morality but have a harder time being specific about their own. And maybe we needed to do some definitions (ethics vs morality) and some recognition of the mechanics of it (language) before moving on. In any case, I'd like to put the focus back on what I mean to ask -- because so far I think only Jennie answered what I was trying to ask. I guess in the shortest clearest phrasing that is: 

 

 

How do YOU know right from wrong?

 

 

The types of things I'd like to hear from you all is...Does your knowledge of what's right & wrong come from religion? Does it come from your gut? Does it come from your parents, friends, society? 

 

Do you even believe there is right or wrong? If you don't believe in right and wrong in an absolute sense (taking the entire universe and all time into consideration) do you believe there are wrongs and rights for humans (on this earth in this form at this time)? 

 

Can your values be applied to others (he is wrong for stealing) or are they only applicable to you (I should not steal but I can't judge someone else for stealing.)

 

Do you have a system of principles -- meaning that you don't have to face every single situation in a different way but can apply some rule or rules -- or express your views to others via some rule or rules.

 

Example: Say you have a child that just came back from a friends house and stole a toy from them. Do you tell them that that one action was wrong, or do you give them a more general rule like "taking what doesn't belong to you is wrong".

 

Systems don't have to be complex. They could be "do unto others as you would have done unto you" or "do whatever you like so long as you are not harming others."  Are those non-complex systems enough for the more complex issues one faces in modern society?

 

I'm not asking for an answer to every question, those are just things to think about. Again, the basic question is: How do YOU know right from wrong? If it's not from a prescribed religious system, how do you justify or explain why what you think/feel about this should hold ANY meaning to anyone else?

 

 

 
How do YOU know right from wrong?


#94 Tim the Beek

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 02:08 PM

How do YOU know right from wrong?


If it unnecessarily causes, or has the potential to unnecessarily cause harm to another being, it's wrong to me.

Which is not to say that I always do right by that definition.



#95 Jabadoodle

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 02:15 PM

Which is not to say that I always do right by that definition.

 

Great point, Tim. Probably none of us live up even to our own rules all the time. For many, the rules we have for ourselves might be even stricter than any rules we might have for others. ~ I'm only asking what one's own moral code is, realizing we can all strive to do better being the people we want to be. As Judgy as I am ;) , this thread is not about that.



#96 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 02:25 PM


If it unnecessarily causes, or has the potential to unnecessarily cause harm to another being, it's wrong to me.

Which is not to say that I always do right by that definition.

 

Same here. The foundation of my ethics is rooted primarily int he principles of nonaggression toward others. The ol' treat others as you wish to be treated. That, however, in today's world, can be difficult to navigate. Considering our system of governance is the largest participator in violence and aggression (force/coercion) against everyone. Creating legislation that makes market forces null in favor of the use of coercion.

 

For instance. I am against involuntary actions in any form (aside from biological, such as breathing). Yet probably purchase products that are produced under these condiditons ona  regular basis. I am aware of it, at least.



#97 Jabadoodle

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 03:00 PM

Sorry, still didn't totally make the question right...
 

How do YOU know right from wrong? Not just what is your code, but how did you arrive at it? How can you justify it -- especially when applying it to others? If you don't have the bible or God to tell you what is right & wrong, how do you know?



#98 concert andy

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 03:17 PM

Sorry, still didn't totally make the question right...
 

How do YOU know right from wrong? Not just what is your code, but how did you arrive at it? How can you justify it -- especially when applying it to others? If you don't have the bible or God to tell you what is right & wrong, how do you know?

 

 

Common sense and the values your parents taught you.



#99 china cat

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 06:31 PM

I agree with Tim and TASB

 

The Golden Rule. If I wouldn't want it done to me, I try not to do it to others.

 

Does it heal or harm? Does it bring more love or more fear? Which behavior will invoke the least harmful result?

 

I fall short, but this is a driving motivation to behave in certain ways and avoid behaving in other ways.

 

Having said that, I think few, if any, behaviors are universally wrong: I don't think lying, stealing, killing, talking ill of people, etc. is universally wrong.

 

Ex:

 

Lying: you're hiding Jews from the Nazis. They knock on the door and ask if you are hiding Jews. It is not wrong to lie

 

Stealing: my child is starving, If I've tried everything else (begging) and all else fails I steal bread to feed my child (stealing from a store will invoke less harm than letting the child die. Though, I would consider it wrong to steal from someone whose own child would die if I took their last amount of food.)

 

(side note: It might actually be considered morally wrong to have an unequal distribution of food when so much is available and some go without)

 

Killing: Someone breaks in an attempts to harm my family. While I would attempt to simply disable the person, if I killed that person, I would not consider it wrong

 

Talking "ill" of someone: I know someone is a serious drug addict and a friend is considering dating him/her. I don't think it morally wrong to share my knowledge of the addiction with my friend (addict's hurt feeling/destroyed reputation invokes less harm than friend getting caught up in the person's addiction. I might actually consider it a moral act to tell the friend)



#100 concert andy

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 06:37 PM

also, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife....

 

 

Unless they are into it.