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Archsage

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« Reply #90 on: August 07, 2011, 09:25:13 pm »
Oi. Let's take this back to square one.

1. If there are objective moral values then God exists.  
  2. There are objective moral values.  
  3. Therefore, God exists.


Objective Moral Values are defined (within this argument) as the Values of Morality that exist independently of what a being thinks about them.

God is defined (within this argument) as the foundation for Objective Moral Value -- the objective axis upon which an entities morality is measured against.

1. If there are objective moral values then God exists.

A system of value can only be objective if there is an adequate, objective axis upon which to measure the value against. For example, Height is an objective value because there is an objective axis (in that case, the 2nd Dimension or the "Y-axis") to measure the value of height against. In order for Moral Value to be objective, there must be some sort of adequate objective axis upon which to measure moral value against.

"Well", the skeptic says, "you can use a lot of things as the objective measure of moral value".

Yes, skeptic, that is true. However, you might have noticed a key term that I made sure to include in my previous paragraph: adequate. The axis for a value must be an adequate axis in order for it to be purely objective. Continuing with my 'height' example, you could measure height by whether or not you could fit through a door. If you can't fit through the door, you're short. If you can fit through the door, you are tall. But then, would you dare call the "ability to fit through the door" the source for objective height value? Of course not! That kind of axis -- that kind of measurement is inadequate.

"I see what you're saying", replies the skeptic, "It is inadequate in some way. But why?".

It is inadequate because it is not height itself. Height does not come from ability to enter rooms. It is quite the opposite -- the ability to fit through a door without scraping your head against the door post comes from Height. So while using the ability to enter a room as an axis might be a good way to understand Height, and even a good way to understand relativity and comparison regarding Height, it is not an adequate objective measurement for the value of Height. The objective measurement for Height, the objective axis, must be Height itself in order to be adequate.

"Okay.", the skeptic says, now slightly annoyed, "what does this have to do with the Moral Argument?"

In order for something to be an objective axis for a value, it must be the very source -- the very nature of that value itself. The 2nd Dimension is the source for objective height value. Because the 2nd dimension exists, and acts as an axis to objectively measure one object to another, Height therefore exists. Premise 1 could be rephrased (if we were arguing for objective height value, as such): 1) If there is objective height value then the 2nd Dimension of Space Exists.

"So is that why well-being, or even consequences cannot be the axis of Moral value?" the skeptic asked, a little intrigued.

Precisely. Things like one's well-being are not an adequate way to represent objective moral value. Because well-being is not Morality itself. It is not the source for morality, but it is affected by it. Even one's consequences are unable to accurately determine Moral objectivity. As consequences result from actions, they don't describe them. In order to measure any value objectively and adequately, you need to find the source of the value itself. Well-being may be the source of health, but it is not Goodness itself. Well being is good way to understand Moral Value, but it cannot be the objective axis of moral value.

"What is the objective axis for moral value, then" the skeptic snickered snobbishly, "god? Ha!"

But that must be the objective axis for moral value. It must be an entity that is Goodness itself. As it is, we know of no such entity, but if such an entity exists it would be (for all semantic purposes) a "god" if not The God. This is because it is an axis that judges the volitional actions of sentient entities. While the 2nd Dimension of space judges only the spacial expanses of material entities (therefore wholly presenting itself under the realm of science and being purely understood as a natural, conceivable thing), this "Moral god" is wholly apart from science, as volition itself is outside the realm of scientific knowledge. Of course the term "God" is the best applicable term for such a phenomena, as such concepts must be gods, if not explained by created (or for the non-creationist, by natural) things.

The skeptic then stood up bright-eyed, preparing to conclude this part of the discussion. "Alright, I think I got it.", he said. "A 'god' must be the only explanation for objective moral value, because objective moral value can only exist if there is an adequate objective axis upon which to measure the values against, and this axis must be the very source or essence of the phenomena itself. A meter stick or a door post is not the explanation for objective height value because they are not the source  for height itself. Only the 2nd Dimension is the actual axis upon which height value can exist. While a ruler can be used to measure or understand height, the ruler is not the objective foundation for height. Neither is one's ability to enter a doorway without hitting their head. While they may be good ways to understand objective height, they are inadequate at being the foundation -- the reason for existence -- of objective height value itself. In the same way, objective moral value must only be grounded in the very foundation of Morality -- the Goodness itself. This entity that we call the 'Goodness' is most commonly referred to as a 'god'."

** Now I had a little fun with that Jeff, but I was also being very serious. I hope you understand what I'm saying so far. I want to take this argument premise by premise, so now I'm only focusing on the first one. Do you need me to clarify what I'm saying? Or are you ready to point out what you agree with/disagree with now? If you find that there is no problem at all (and I doubt that'll happen ), I'll move on to my defense for premise 2.
“It is of dangerous consequence to represent to man how near he is to the level of beasts, without showing him at the same time his greatness. It is likewise dangerous to let him see his greatness without his meanness..."  –Blaise Pascal

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wonderer

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« Reply #91 on: August 07, 2011, 10:14:56 pm »
LOL

   

   Reasonable meets unreasonable.

   

   Might as well drop it Jeff.  Attempting to define words to suit the argument seems to be all that subsage is going to do.  I commend you on your patience thus far.  Well beyond reasonable.
"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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Jeff Mitchell

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« Reply #92 on: August 08, 2011, 03:09:38 pm »
Archsage wrote: Oi. Let's take this back to square one.

I share your Yiddish sentiments


1. If there are objective moral values then God exists.
2. There are objective moral values.
3. Therefore, God exists.


Objective Moral Values are defined (within this argument) as the Values of Morality that exist independently of what a being thinks about them.

God is defined (within this argument) as the foundation for Objective Moral Value -- the objective axis upon which an entities morality is measured against.

I get what you're saying.  I think that the definitions above could be refined a little but I'm pretty sure I understand the concepts you are proposing and it wouldn't advance the argument for me to nit-pick.

I do see a difference between the non-theistic moral frameworks (consequentialism, utilitarianism, etc) and the concept of a moral "scale" (or axis) that you are proposing.  Your objective moral value depends on absolutely nothing else- it's not based on the consequences of actions, the intentions of moral agents, or any quality of the behavior itself, whereas all of the other frameworks require us humans to evaluate some component (behavior, consequence, or intention) and compare it against some standard that we can know and measure.  There must be a reason why we consider something to be "bad" or "good."

In these non-theistic systems, compassion is "good" because of some effect or intent or measure of the behavior itself- in your system, compassion might (or might not) be "good" for no other reason than it is ranked at a certain level on an objective scale/axis, which is in this argument considered to be god.  This is the very basis of its ultimate objectivity.  Compassion isn't good because it improves the well-being of others or for any other reason, it's good (if it is, in fact, "good") because it has an objective value of "good" on your objective value scale/axis.  As an example, homosexual behavior has an absolute value of either "good" or "bad," regardless of any behavior, consequence, or intention, or whatever we think about it.  If somehow we could determine that homosexuality was "good" on the "axis of objective moral value," it would in fact be objectively good.

If the above description of your "objective moral value" is correct (and I think that I've stayed pretty faithful to what you have described), and "god" is defined as that "scale" or "axis" of objective moral value, then I think I'm fine with premise (1).  There might be something I haven't considered, but for now I think (1) is consistent if put this way.

Let's move on to premise (2) and how we know that this axis of objective moral values exist, unless you feel I've mischaracterized (1).


** Now I had a little fun with that Jeff, but I was also being very serious. I hope you understand what I'm saying so far. I want to take this argument premise by premise, so now I'm only focusing on the first one. Do you need me to clarify what I'm saying? Or are you ready to point out what you agree with/disagree with now? If you find that there is no problem at all (and I doubt that'll happen ), I'll move on to my defense for premise 2.

I appreciate the time you spent on the bulk of the last post- I'm not ignoring it, and I'd be happy to respond to many of the points you made, but I figured we could move ahead if you think my understanding (above) is fair.


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Jeff Mitchell

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« Reply #93 on: August 08, 2011, 03:16:39 pm »

wonderer wrote: LOL

Reasonable meets unreasonable.

Might as well drop it Jeff. Attempting to define words to suit the argument seems to be all that subsage is going to do. I commend you on your patience thus far. Well beyond reasonable.

Thanks, appreciate the support- I really am surprised more people aren't jumping in on this one- especially on the pro-MA side, but usually the non-theists (I assume they would be on the anti-MA side) are more vocal too.

I'm fine with different definitions of things- we often think that both sides are arguing with the same assumptions when they aren't.  Everyone's definitions are a little different, and I think that getting to the concepts being represented by the words is the most important.  I still think that Archsage's concepts are wrong, but I like the challenge of trying to point that out.

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Archsage

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« Reply #94 on: August 08, 2011, 03:43:36 pm »
ReasonableJeff wrote: In these non-theistic systems,  compassion is "good" because of some effect or intent or measure of the  behavior itself- in your system, compassion might (or might not) be  "good" for no other reason than it is ranked at a certain level on an  objective scale/axis, which is in this argument considered to be god.   This is the very basis of its ultimate objectivity.  Compassion isn't  good because it improves the well-being of others or for any other reason, it's good (if it is, in fact, "good") because  it has an objective value of "good" on your objective value  scale/axis.  As an example, homosexual behavior has an absolute value of  either "good" or "bad," regardless of any behavior, consequence, or  intention, or whatever we think about it.  If somehow we could determine  that homosexuality was "good" on the "axis of objective moral value,"  it would in fact be objectively good.

If the above description of  your "objective moral value" is correct (and I think that I've stayed  pretty faithful to what you have described), and "god" is defined as  that "scale" or "axis" of objective moral value, then I think I'm fine  with premise (1).  There might be something I haven't considered, but  for now I think (1) is consistent if put this way.


Okay, so you do get it. I'll talk about premise 2 in a while. It's likely to be as long as (if not longer than) my explanation of premise 1, and I'm tired from work. So don't mind my delayed response.
“It is of dangerous consequence to represent to man how near he is to the level of beasts, without showing him at the same time his greatness. It is likewise dangerous to let him see his greatness without his meanness..."  –Blaise Pascal

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Jeff Mitchell

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« Reply #95 on: August 09, 2011, 12:33:55 pm »

Archsage wrote: Okay, so you do get it. I'll talk about premise 2 in a while. It's likely to be as long as (if not longer than) my explanation of premise 1, and I'm tired from work. So don't mind my delayed response.

It doesn't need to be too long- I'm not dense, but neither am I gullible. It should be a pretty straight forward matter of showing how we know that objective moral values of the sort you are talking about exist, especially since everyone that uses the MA seems to think that it's "obvious."  I think it's quite obvious that there is no way humans can know if they exist, but I'm interested to see your argument!


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Archsage

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« Reply #96 on: August 09, 2011, 07:26:35 pm »
Square Two!

1. If there are objective moral values then God exists.  
  2. There are objective moral values.  
  3. Therefore, God exists.


Objective Moral Values are defined (within this argument) as the Values of Morality that exist independently of what a being thinks about them.

God  is defined (within this argument) as the foundation for Objective Moral  Value -- the objective axis upon which an entities morality is measured  against.

2. There are objective moral values


This premise proposes a major problem for people, because it presupposes the falsity of plain "naturalism" -- it presupposes human volition. But of course, morality itself presupposes the falsity of naturalism, so that isn't the major problem that we face when looking at this argument (we wouldn't even reach the first premise if you were arguing from a purely naturalistic view).

The major problem is that volition is beyond the scope of science. As science is the human knowledge, understanding, and study of observable (or "natural") phenomena, human volition is not observable. Only its effects on the world are. To try and tackle morality from the viewpoint of science one has to work from the "outside inwards", they have to look at the effect and make assumptions as to the nature of the cause of the effect.

This is why the first explanation of premise 2 reached heavy opposition from you. Any scientific approach is bound to fall short of a complete explanation, as volition is outside of the scope of science. Even so, it would be good to restate the support from observation anyway, as it is not "erroneous" but not completely fulfilling (inadequate).:

Observation of the 'effects of human volition' (as science cannot observe human volition itself), displays a certain kind of consistency concerning upper-level sentient entities (humans). This consistency seems to be some kind of innate quality within all of us. A valid conclusion would be that there is some internal factor, something about the human volition (which cannot be directly observed by science) that has to do with such a consistency. Based on our observational knowledge we can theorize, or conclude that there really is some innate "pattern" that influences all human volition, something that is objective and generally stable within all relatively 'normal' human beings. We call this "morality".

Of course, one could completely reject all of that. And that's fine. But one must not reject this for the sake of rejecting it. It is a reasonable conclusion to come up with. So far, ReasonableJeff, I have heard to reject this conclusion, but have not heard a proper explanation regarding the phenomena. I suspect it is because you did not factor in human volition within your analysis of the observations made. And I do not think you to be what I call a "pure naturalist" that does not even believe in human volition. Perhaps I assumed something about you that is not true?

There is another explanation for objective moral value but I will not state it here. Frankly, I find that you would not accept it anyway, and that this explanation from observational science has much more rhetorical value towards your persuasion. So before I resort to my secondary explanation for Premise 2, I'd like to either hear an affirmation of the truth regarding this Premise (based on the explanation from observation), a rejection of the truth of this premise and a logical, reasonable, and rational counter-conclusion (not just an "I don't believe this").

I didn't have as much fun in this one as I did the other one. Maybe next time I'll make it more narrative like I did before. Writing mini 'essays' are not fun...
“It is of dangerous consequence to represent to man how near he is to the level of beasts, without showing him at the same time his greatness. It is likewise dangerous to let him see his greatness without his meanness..."  –Blaise Pascal

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Jeff Mitchell

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« Reply #97 on: August 13, 2011, 03:10:16 pm »
Archsage wrote:
The major problem is that volition is beyond the scope of science. As science is the human knowledge, understanding, and study of observable (or "natural") phenomena, human volition is not observable. Only its effects on the world are. To try and tackle morality from the viewpoint of science one has to work from the "outside inwards", they have to look at the effect and make assumptions as to the nature of the cause of the effect.

This is why the first explanation of premise 2 reached heavy opposition from you. Any scientific approach is bound to fall short of a complete explanation, as volition is outside of the scope of science. Even so, it would be good to restate the support from observation anyway, as it is not "erroneous" but not completely fulfilling (inadequate).:

Observation of the 'effects of human volition' (as science cannot observe human volition itself), displays a certain kind of consistency concerning upper-level sentient entities (humans). This consistency seems to be some kind of innate quality within all of us. A valid conclusion would be that there is some internal factor, something about the human volition (which cannot be directly observed by science) that has to do with such a consistency. Based on our observational knowledge we can theorize, or conclude that there really is some innate "pattern" that influences all human volition, something that is objective and generally stable within all relatively 'normal' human beings. We call this "morality".


I believe your point is that we cannot scientifically know where this "sense" of morality comes from, because it is tied into human volition and since we cannot observe (or show) volition to be "true," we cannot observe (or show) what grounds morality.  Therefore, it's perfectly rational to observe the "effect," the common moral connection between mature, functioning people and infer that since we don't/can't know where it comes from it must come from somewhere outside of us- the "objective moral scale, or god" you refer to).

The problem is that I think this is arguing from ignorance.  And even worse, I think it's arguing from ignorance in spite of a growing body of scientific evidence that indicates that our perception of morality is completely contained in our physical brains and nowhere else.  I understand the desire to explain things, and it's often just easy to say "'tis a mystery," or "Who are we to question the work or intentions of God?"  

But time and time again throughout history we have seen theists make an observation that they considered to be irrefutably the work of one or many gods.  I've listed many examples in previous posts, but just take disease for instance- many primitive people (and not-so-primitive) still believe that they or their relatives fall ill because it's the will of the gods.  Never mind that that while they are praying to their gods to remove the curse, they are drinking water that was drawn from a river downstream of a dead, diseased animal (or being bitten by mosquitoes, or whatever other mode of transmission...).  I think that you are making the same mistake here.

I think that you are observing that people seem to have the same instincts with respect to the more extreme or obvious behavioral choices (killing other humans, boiling babies, etc), and drawing the conclusion that there's nothing we can do to understand (via naturalism) how we humans develop our morality- so surely it MUST be the result of our sense of some metaphysical objective moral scale out there.  Never mind all of the new mysteries that this explanation creates- how we are in any way connected to this scale for us to use it in the first place, if we do in fact use this scale or just some other (false) imposter scale, why this scale needs to even have the title of "god" and what that actually means anyway, if it is just coincidence that the moral scale agrees with you (or maybe that you agree with it?), etc.  

Maybe those questions aren't relevant, but the bottom line is that you jump to one conclusion that I'm pretty sure you're just predisposed to believe because it fits into your worldview, and then stop looking for another explanation.  And the trajectory of our understanding of the mind/brain is pointing toward a complete natural explanation for more complicated moral questions, like why we have an easier time sacrificing 1 person to save 5 if we are removed from the situation but will usually let 5 people die if saving them means that we have to directly cause the death of 1.

I'm sure that there are things we cannot "know," like whether you and I are just figments of the overactive mind of an intelligent newt, whether Russell's teapot really is orbiting the sun out there, whether hundreds/thousands of Muslim suicide bombers are chillin' with their virgins in heaven right now, etc.  But I don't see why you include the underlying reasons for our perceptions of certain behaviors as being "right" or "wrong," or certain traits as "bad" or "good," as one of those things.  Especially when we are continually learning more and more that they are firmly grounded in nature.


Of course, one could completely reject all of that. And that's fine. But one must not reject this for the sake of rejecting it. It is a reasonable conclusion to come up with. So far, ReasonableJeff, I have heard to reject this conclusion, but have not heard a proper explanation regarding the phenomena. I suspect it is because you did not factor in human volition within your analysis of the observations made. And I do not think you to be what I call a "pure naturalist" that does not even believe in human volition. Perhaps I assumed something about you that is not true?

Again, I don't think that I've ever simply rejected your arguments "for the sake of" rejecting them.  I have offered specific alternative explanations for your observations (normally functioning brains across the continents have chemical reward/punishment systems for certain emotions and perceptions of the effects of behavior, etc).  We can go farther into the scientific studies that are exploring this exciting field if you're interested, but that's not really the point of this debate.  The point is whether it even makes sense to claim that the kind of "objective moral values" that you described for premise (1) exist.  Sure, human volition might make it possible that there is some mysterious, unknowable force out there that is guiding our behavior, but certainly not probable or certain just by itself.  And how in the world is that any kind of explanation anyhow?  Your explanation from gut feel is no more explanatory than any other superstition, with or without human volition.

If I haven't been clear enough so far, my simple answer is that so long as we are progressing in our understanding of the psychological and physiological basis for moral decision making, and so long as people continue to have very different versions of morality (which we do), I think the "observational evidence" for objective moral values of the sort you propose will be completely unconvincing to any critical thinker.  It's like attributing our feeling of hunger or our common urge to breath to the gods.  

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Jeff Mitchell

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« Reply #98 on: August 17, 2011, 04:28:40 pm »
Archsage, I'm probably not going to be able to respond to your rebuttal for a few weeks, but I will definitely get back to you if you (or anyone else)respond to my above post.  Don't want you to think I'm ignoring you

I re-read the previous one (below) and want to make sure I'm not quoted out of context- I was summarizing your points and admitting that there is a difference in the "objectivity" of non-theistic ethical systems and the "objectivity" that you are claiming, but I wasn't claiming that the last few sentences quoted below were actually my beliefs (about compassion and homosexuality).  I stated that I thought premise (1) was consistent, if your specific definitions were used, but I didn't (and still don't) see how those definitions actually apply to our normal lives or how we could profess to know anything about the scale or the god.  Just wanted to be super-duper clear.

Hope to hear from you soon,

-Jeff

Archsage wrote:
Quote from: ReasonableJeff
In these non-theistic systems, compassion is "good" because of some effect or intent or measure of the behavior itself- in your system, compassion might (or might not) be "good" for no other reason than it is ranked at a certain level on an objective scale/axis, which is in this argument considered to be god.  This is the very basis of its ultimate objectivity.  Compassion isn't good because it improves the well-being of others or for any other reason, it's good (if it is, in fact, "good") because it has an objective value of "good" on your objective value scale/axis.  As an example, homosexual behavior has an absolute value of either "good" or "bad," regardless of any behavior, consequence, or intention, or whatever we think about it.  If somehow we could determine that homosexuality was "good" on the "axis of objective moral value," it would in fact be objectively good.

If the above description of your "objective moral value" is correct (and I think that I've stayed pretty faithful to what you have described), and "god" is defined as that "scale" or "axis" of objective moral value, then I think I'm fine with premise (1).  There might be something I haven't considered, but for now I think (1) is consistent if put this way.


Okay, so you do get it. I'll talk about premise 2 in a while. It's likely to be as long as (if not longer than) my explanation of premise 1, and I'm tired from work. So don't mind my delayed response.


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Archsage

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« Reply #99 on: August 17, 2011, 08:02:53 pm »
Hey Jeff!

I'm definitely going to respond to your last post, I just haven't gotten around to it. Believe it or not, I actually do alot of thinking before making posts like #91 or #97. Because the topic isn't particularly interesting to me at this very moment, adn because of various real life events, I haven't spent time to write a full reply yet.

(I don't like doing things that feel like work -- I'm waiting for that 'fun' feeling to come back before I respond to you, lol). So don't mind my delay, and it's no problem if you take delays as well.

As for premise 1, I just wanted you to either accept the validity of the premise itself, as a stand-alone. As you already know, the premise itself is not an argument, but a part of an argument. I'll use the truth concerning premise 1 in junction with others to make my point. So all that matters is if you accept the logic behind premise 1 as truth.

“It is of dangerous consequence to represent to man how near he is to the level of beasts, without showing him at the same time his greatness. It is likewise dangerous to let him see his greatness without his meanness..."  –Blaise Pascal

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Jeff Mitchell

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« Reply #100 on: September 04, 2011, 11:39:37 pm »
Archsage, any new thoughts?  Digitalos has been posting about morality in other threads, anyone else have thoughts about objective morality?