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Archived => Moral Argument => Topic started by: troyjs on May 28, 2017, 06:57:09 am

Title: The Existentialists, and Objective Morality
Post by: troyjs on May 28, 2017, 06:57:09 am
The existentialist philosopher Albert Camus, in his "The Myth of Sisyphus", writes concerning what he calls the 'absurd'. In the spirit of other existentialist philosophers such as Kierkegaard and others such as Hegel, he remarks about how the world as we experience, is seemingly at complete dissonance with the same world as we try to explain it. What we call a tree, a stone, music, love, all have a basic meaning as we experience them. But our explanation of what "redness" is in terms of physics, or explaining what a tree is in terms of atoms and electrons, in a significant way fails to explain what redness or a tree is. When we experience the colour red in an object, or an elm tree, we are not talking about atoms. Scientific explanation, in fact the use of reason, seems to reduce everything in experience into completely something other than what we in fact experience. What in fact is an atom? What in fact is a quantum particle? In the end, he claims that the world we experience and know, is in this way absurd because if science really do explain our experience, they explain it away.

The point of that introduction is to lead into a point about the reality of our moral experience. A premise of the Moral Argument is that object moral values exist. Yet, if something as real as the experience of colour is reducible to psychology and physics which in the end is colourless, what of our moral beliefs? Albert Camus writes about Kierkegaard, who observed the same seeming absurdity in the world. He criticised Kierkegaard because he, although knowing of the absurdity, chose to make a "leap of faith" in order to make sense of existence. Albert Camus argued that the reasonable thing to do was to fact the absurdity head on. Admit that the world IS absurd, but live as if it made sense and has meaning.

I think that Albert Camus' criticism of the Moral Argument, is that it denies the fact that ultimate reality is incomprehensible to our minds. Camus would I think, as any thinking person to admit that although we have these experiences of reality, we are stabbing in the dark when we try to understand it at it's depth. So yes we may have these moral intuitions, just as we have other intuitions, but just as Kierkegaard took an unwarranted "leap of faith" in accepting Christianity to explain the absurdity and meaningless of the world, it is unwarranted to make decisive conclusions from the fact we have such intuitions about right and wrong behaviour. Our experience of moral truths, does not warrant our belief that objective moral beliefs exist.

Dr Craig responds to such criticisms by appealing to an analogy with external objects. Just as we can't prove that external objects exist, we are justified in believing that external objects exist given our experiences. But such a reply is precisely the kind of reasoning Camus was rejecting, precisely because science reduces the question of "external objects" or "other minds" and other posits of experience, as meaningless or atleast reducible to meaninglessness.

How does the one advocating the Moral Argument, answer this existentialist concern?

Kind regards
Title: Re: The Existentialists, and Objective Morality
Post by: Aaron Massey on May 28, 2017, 11:21:39 am
Camus was rejecting, precisely because science reduces the question of "external objects" or "other minds" and other posits of experience, as meaningless or atleast reducible to meaninglessness.

1: Morality stems from our experience
2: Science will reduce that morality to meaninglessness
3: our shared intuitions seem to show that morality stems from some form of "essence" not "Experience"

But could you clarify how camus thinks "intuition" itself came about??   Id say he would have to say from our "existence" and not our "Essence" for his idea to work...
Title: Re: The Existentialists, and Objective Morality
Post by: troyjs on May 28, 2017, 04:39:09 pm
I agree with you. I think Camus would be of the same mind. I am not sure what he would have thought about the whole idea of "essence", because for the existentialists, at least Sartre, essence is not immutable. We are free. Reading Camus, I get the feeling that for him, all we know is that we have these moral feelings and beliefs, and that it is unreasonable to say what is or isn't objective or true about those moral beliefs. Especially given how whenever we try to explain something of our experience to its deepest level, we either find that we contradict ourselves and thus incoherent, or we end up explaining away that which we first set out to explain.

For Camus, the only thing that he thought he was sure of, was that he was ignorant of reality beyond our superficial experiences. He criticised Kierkegaard for trying to put God in that ultimate reality beyond our experience, and he criticised Hegel for trying to make our experiences themselves the ultimate reality.
Title: Re: The Existentialists, and Objective Morality
Post by: jayceeii on January 24, 2020, 09:47:50 am
There is no barrier between the scientists’ description of color as a series of wavelengths, and the experience of  observing color. The phenomenon is the same, only two different instruments are used to measure it. Working as a scientist I’ve been baffled where I’ve taken color spectra of two samples to determine the changes during charcoal treatment, by a colleague who mistrusted the numbers and insisted on looking. If you have emotional attachments to certain colors, that is another story. But an instrument measuring wavelengths of light is doing essentially the same thing that the eye is doing.

So I fail to see the weight of the idea science has made subjective experience “absurd.” All things are made up of atoms, and atoms are mostly space. This is the microscopic view. The macroscopic view shows the effects of collections of atoms. It is not absurd. My guess about Camus is that he’s doing something like assuming private ownership of his experience and demanding this be separated from what scientists can measure, i.e. it is a solipsistic view. He wants to assert, “I,” and finds science appears to threaten this. Both Camus and Kierkegaard appear to be dancing around a false abstraction. They’ve defined something only they can see, that exists only for them in their peculiar mindset.

I don’t buy the idea that there is a moral intuition. I’d agree that men come to a general and loose agreement about morality, but not that this is springing from some deeper part of their consciousness. My point is easily proved when you consider the vast numbers of laws, as well as the differences in laws between different countries and municipalities. Men follow self-interests and they want these protected, though also to lean hard against the self-interests of the others, as the economic system and often the legal system allow.

The multiplicity of the laws proves men are not rising to an objective morality, otherwise there’d be one set of laws for all. The Moral Argument only appears in absence of examples. The moment you bring in any example, you find humans disagreeing on every side. What is more, men are not striving for a universal legal code. The nations insist on governing themselves privately, and have no interest in seeking any objective situation.

To go even farther, the laws only exist because men are not rising to objective morality or inner intuition of right and wrong. Laws appear in response to wrongdoing, which is to say some men who didn’t agree with the law in their own “best moral perspective.” Neither Craig nor anyone else is offering an explanation why the “moral intuition” of all men does not point them to the same “objective morality.” Nor has he demonstrated this.