ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Tags ethics , morality

Reply
Old 4th August 2019, 11:21 PM   #1
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
What should Morals and Ethics be?

What should the rules be and what should they be based on? Who and what should be considered? How do you assign a 'moral value' to something or a 'moral cost' to a decision?

In another thread I wrote:
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Science/psychology/sociology can only describe our chosen morality and at best explain why we chose it, based on feelings, based on instincts, shaped by evolution and the environment.
It can help you compare the outcomes of different moral choices, but it will never be able to make the choice. A human will still have to make the choice based on nothing more than feelings.



Should ethics even have rules? Should it be like mathematics and be internally consistent? Can it be? Could you start with a premise or premices and work from there? How subjective could they be?

I certainly would like it if there were a set of Fair Ethical Rules that everyone followed. But since the whole thing is based on opinions and common sense (IOW feelings, based on instincts, shaped by evolution and the environment), people will differ in their choice of rules.

How does your morality work?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB

Last edited by Cheetah; 4th August 2019 at 11:25 PM.
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th August 2019, 11:52 PM   #2
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 15,590
The only morality systems that ever worked were basically a social contract. If I can convince enough people that none of us want to be murdered, we decide and enforce that murder is wrong. It can be rationalized as based on some axioms, or given to me secretly by my imaginary sky-daddy, or whatever, but ultimately unless I can convince or force enough people to accept those rules, it's all for naught anyway.

The idea that there must be an objective set of rules was always a popular thing to rationalize, not the least because it lets whoever is giving those rules pretend they're less arbitrary. The problem is that it's never been more than a rationalization.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 01:56 AM   #3
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The only morality systems that ever worked were basically a social contract.
Of course, how could it be otherwise. All our morals are based on the fact that we evolved as a social, tribal species. A social system flying in the face of our evolutionary baggage wouldn't work. The very best optimized most logical system wouldn't work because we are not rational animals.

If we were solitary predators that only tolerated social contact for the act of procreation, laying eggs that hatched themselves with no parental care, our morals would be much simpler, something like 'everyone for itself'. Society wouldn't exist.
Things like constitutions and legal systems are rooted in our evolution as a tribal species.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
If I can convince enough people that none of us want to be murdered, we decide and enforce that murder is wrong.
This not about convincing anyone of anything, it's about how you personally feel about this.

All you need to know is that you yourself would not want to be murdered. The reason being that self preservation is one of the most powerful instincts. Then, not being a hypocrite, you would conclude that murdering someone else is bad.
Can we agree on that?
It's a good place to start from.*

I made an assumption. That being a hypocrite is bad. I think so. Can we also agree that the same rules should apply to everyone and at all times?

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The idea that there must be an objective set of rules was always a popular thing to rationalize, not the least because it lets whoever is giving those rules pretend they're less arbitrary. The problem is that it's never been more than a rationalization.
I don't know whose idea that is, it's obviously false.


* Edit: I think you should actually start at an even baser level than murder. Since it's all about feelings, start with feelings.
Everyone should agree feeling happy is just the BEST, so IMHO a good moral/social system should strive to maximize happiness in the long run.
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB

Last edited by Cheetah; 5th August 2019 at 02:32 AM.
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 02:57 AM   #4
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 15,590
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
This not about convincing anyone of anything, it's about how you personally feel about this.

All you need to know is that you yourself would not want to be murdered. The reason being that self preservation is one of the most powerful instincts. Then, not being a hypocrite, you would conclude that murdering someone else is bad.
Can we agree on that?
It's a good place to start from.*

I made an assumption. That being a hypocrite is bad. I think so. Can we also agree that the same rules should apply to everyone and at all times?
Well, exactly what counts as hypocrisy and what legal loopholes are enough to make it totally not murder when we're killing those guys over there, has been quite flexible and elastic.

E.g., the Spartans correctly concluded that
A) killing someone willy nilly is murder, and that's bad, BUT
B) EXCEPT killing in a war, which obviously is justified and totally not murder.

So each year, the first legal act of the newly elected ephors was to formally declare war on the Helots, i.e., Sparta's own slaves. That way the slave owners could just straight up kill any slave they wanted to, and it's totally not murder, because we're at war with them.

No hypocrisy either. I mean, none of the proper Spartan warriors would want to be murdered, but as warriors they were willing to accept that we might get killed in a war. So they're not demanding anything of the slaves that they wouldn't accept for themselves, right?

Humans have always been quite good at creating such legal loopholes and excuses

Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
I don't know whose idea that is, it's obviously false.
Well, it may seem obvious to you and me today, but historically there has been a strong drive to paint only whatever "objective" morals those in power wanted as the only rational choice, and to paint those even considering any merits of subjective morals as dumb, evil or both.

Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
* Edit: I think you should actually start at an even baser level than murder. Since it's all about feelings, start with feelings.
Everyone should agree feeling happy is just the BEST, so IMHO a good moral/social system should strive to maximize happiness in the long run.
Well, you've just described utilitarianism there. It's not a bad approach, and I quite like it, but it's also not the only school of thought on the topic.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

Last edited by HansMustermann; 5th August 2019 at 03:05 AM.
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 03:12 AM   #5
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, exactly what counts as hypocrisy and what legal loopholes are enough to make it totally not murder when we're killing those guys over there, has been quite flexible an elastic.
I just meant it as the same rules for everyone at all times.


Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
E.g., the Spartans correctly concluded that
A) killing someone willy nilly is murder, and that's bad, BUT
B) EXCEPT killing in a war, which obviously is justified and totally not murder.
Exactly, because they were not concerned with the same rules for everyone at all times. Killing one of your own was not the same as killing an enemy. Hopefully we have moved past this.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, you've just described utilitarianism there. It's not a bad approach, and I quite like it, but it's also not the only school of thought on the topic.
I have. Which is your favorite?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 03:17 AM   #6
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 8,903
As I see it, Morality and Ethics are basically an endless iterated Prisoner's Dilemma: We aim for a stable situation of cooperation in which everyone benefits.
A Social Contract is situation where such cooperation has been established.

The amount of Defection we are willing to accept before retaliation directly depends on how secure we feel ourselves and how likely we think the other person is to cooperate in the future... and how much future we think there is left.

In short, the ethic standards of a society depends largely on how much mortality it can afford.
__________________
Careful! That tree's bark is worse than its bite.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 04:04 AM   #7
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
As I see it, Morality and Ethics are basically an endless iterated Prisoner's Dilemma: We aim for a stable situation of cooperation in which everyone benefits.
A Social Contract is situation where such cooperation has been established.
Yes, I want to discus how you and others think this Social Contract should look.

Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
In short, the ethic standards of a society depends largely on how much mortality it can afford.
Agreed, so we won't worry about that.
For simplicity then assume a technological planet-wide society with an efficient production and distribution of resources where everyone's basic needs are met.
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB

Last edited by Cheetah; 5th August 2019 at 04:14 AM.
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 04:27 AM   #8
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 8,903
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Agreed, so we won't worry about that.
For simplicity then assume a technological planet wide society with an efficient production and distribution of resources where everyone's basic needs are met.
I'm not really sure that addresses issue, which is inequality: one person having no bread and the other cake is injustice, but so is one person having no internet and the other a Starlink connection.

I find it much easier to define immorality as withholding surplus resources without any need to do so.
__________________
Careful! That tree's bark is worse than its bite.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 04:45 AM   #9
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I'm not really sure that addresses issue, which is inequality: one person having no bread and the other cake is injustice, but so is one person having no internet and the other a Starlink connection.
I find it much easier to define immorality as withholding surplus resources without any need to do so.
So to maximize happiness you need to minimize inequality?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 04:54 AM   #10
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 15,590
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
I just meant it as the same rules for everyone at all times.



Exactly, because they were not concerned with the same rules for everyone at all times. Killing one of your own was not the same as killing an enemy. Hopefully we have moved past this.
What I was getting at was the far greater aberration of defining about 80% of your own society as the enemy.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 05:06 AM   #11
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
What I was getting at was the far greater aberration of defining about 80% of your own society as the enemy.
Then don't do it like that. The point is to give everyone the same basic rights is it not?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 05:06 AM   #12
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 8,903
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
So to maximize happiness you need to minimize inequality?
unnecessary/unjustified inequality.
The point is that you have to come up with a reason why it is ok for one to have a lot and another very little - and it cannot be just "Private Property" or "I got it first". (*)
one possible justification would be that you actually use it - pure status symbols are pretty much by definition non-essential wealth.

Of course, just so that things don't end up like Dennis Moore redistributing tiaras, the need to determine the injustices of property requires a certain threshold of inequality - basically a value of the Gini coefficient depending on how comfortable a society is with inequality.



(*) more precisely, if you want to invoke Private Property as the reason for inequality, you have to make a good argument why private property is always justified.
__________________
Careful! That tree's bark is worse than its bite.

Last edited by The Great Zaganza; 5th August 2019 at 05:30 AM.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 05:44 AM   #13
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 15,590
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
I just meant it as the same rules for everyone at all times.
That alone doesn't guarantee it being also fair. You can define the same rules for everyone in such a way that some people are still de facto excluded.

E.g., the norse holmgang rules were the same for everyone. (Well, all the free people, anyway.) ANYONE could challenge anyone else to a holmgang, i.e., trial by combat over anything. The poorest beggar could challenge the richest landowner to a duel over who really owns that piece of land. And everyone was even allowed the same armaments for it: one sword, one axe, and three shields. And anyone could have a champion duel in their stead, if they could find one.

Yet not only that favoured those who could afford to train in weapon use full time, or pay a champion for that, but even the price of a sword in the dark ages was prohibitive. Hell, most people probably couldn't even afford a military-grade axe, and going with a woodsman's axe into combat, yeah, was just a way to die bravely.


What I'm getting at is that the subject is complex. If you think that a few unqualified people in a random internet forum are going to solve it, well, good luck with that
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 05:53 AM   #14
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
unnecessary/unjustified inequality.
The point is that you have to come up with a reason why it is ok for one to have a lot and another very little - and it cannot be just "Private Property" or "I got it first".
So justified inequality is fine, if you have a good reason?

We live on a planet, a finite resource.
Giving everyone alive today an acceptable standard of living, by western standards, will use up just about all available resources and is probably not even sustainable in the long run.
To maximize happiness, a society has to be stable and sustainable. If everyone just gets their share there might not be anything left for inequality.
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 06:04 AM   #15
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
That alone doesn't guarantee it being also fair. You can define the same rules for everyone in such a way that some people are still de facto excluded.
Well that's the point of the thread, defining the rules so that no one is de facto excluded and it is fair (or as fair as possible).
There are plenty of examples of unfairness, I'm asking what rules you think would work. What do you think would be fair?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB

Last edited by Cheetah; 5th August 2019 at 06:06 AM.
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 06:24 AM   #16
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 8,903
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
So justified inequality is fine, if you have a good reason?

We live on a planet, a finite resource.
Giving everyone alive today an acceptable standard of living, by western standards, will use up just about all available resources and is probably not even sustainable in the long run.
To maximize happiness, a society has to be stable and sustainable. If everyone just gets their share there might not be anything left for inequality.
Well, when the ship is sinking, you better have a really good reason why you need an entire lifeboat to yourself.
__________________
Careful! That tree's bark is worse than its bite.

Last edited by The Great Zaganza; 5th August 2019 at 06:27 AM.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 07:06 AM   #17
caveman1917
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 6,519
I'm with Sidney Parker on this one:
Originally Posted by Parker
To say that something is morally good or morally bad boils down in the end to nothing more than that something is said to be morally good or morally bad. What will be said to be good or bad will depend upon the belief of the moralist making the statement. When moral judgements clash, behind all the verbal pyrotechnics there is simply one idea lodged in one head and another and different idea lodged in another head. The passion with which they are expressed is merely a symptom of the unfulfillable desire to prove the unprovable.

For myself, I have no use for the myth of morality, except as a source of amusement or data for a study of slavery to fixed ideas.
__________________
"Ideas are also weapons." - Subcomandante Marcos
"We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live." - Lucy Parsons
"Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!" - Mikhail Bakunin

Last edited by caveman1917; 5th August 2019 at 07:10 AM.
caveman1917 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 07:07 AM   #18
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,922
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
What should the rules be and what should they be based on? Who and what should be considered? How do you assign a 'moral value' to something or a 'moral cost' to a decision?

In another thread I wrote:





Should ethics even have rules? Should it be like mathematics and be internally consistent? Can it be? Could you start with a premise or premices and work from there? How subjective could they be?

I certainly would like it if there were a set of Fair Ethical Rules that everyone followed. But since the whole thing is based on opinions and common sense (IOW feelings, based on instincts, shaped by evolution and the environment), people will differ in their choice of rules.

How does your morality work?
I can't see that morality is anything else than doing what you want to do.

That doesn't necessarily mean being selfish or bad. For a lot of people what they want to do is to help alleviate the suffering of others.

But I can't see that there is anything more to it.
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 07:16 AM   #19
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,220
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
What should the rules be and what should they be based on? Who and what should be considered? How do you assign a 'moral value' to something or a 'moral cost' to a decision?

In another thread I wrote:





Should ethics even have rules? Should it be like mathematics and be internally consistent? Can it be? Could you start with a premise or premices and work from there? How subjective could they be?

I certainly would like it if there were a set of Fair Ethical Rules that everyone followed. But since the whole thing is based on opinions and common sense (IOW feelings, based on instincts, shaped by evolution and the environment), people will differ in their choice of rules.

How does your morality work?
Here are two questions in one. How social norms are formed and why they should be respected by everyone (including me).

On the first, the social contract theory is not the only one. Other theories say that moral systems are formed by force.
According to what is known historically, both things work more or less intensely, depending on the case.

With respect to the second, this is the specifically moral one. The question is, why does the moral law oblige me? Note that this law does not have to be the law of the majority. I may think the majority law is horrible. And in fact, many times it is. But this moral law entails obligation. It is imperative.

This question is truly complex. Science has nothing to say, so the solution will hardly be mathematical. In other words, it convinces me more or less. And there's not going to be a single unappealable solution. Is that what you want to ask?
David Mo is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 07:21 AM   #20
TragicMonkey
Poisoned Waffles
 
TragicMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Monkey
Posts: 50,248
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I can't see that morality is anything else than doing what you want to do.

That doesn't necessarily mean being selfish or bad. For a lot of people what they want to do is to help alleviate the suffering of others.

But I can't see that there is anything more to it.
I agree. Morality isn't a physical phenomenon that can be discovered and proven. We simply decide what kind of lives we want to live and what kind of society we want to have, and act accordingly to make it happen.
__________________
You added nothing to that conversation, Barbara.
TragicMonkey is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 07:43 AM   #21
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
I'm with Sidney Parker on this one:
What a cop-out!
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I can't see that morality is anything else than doing what you want to do.
That doesn't necessarily mean being selfish or bad. For a lot of people what they want to do is to help alleviate the suffering of others.
But I can't see that there is anything more to it.
Another cop-out.
Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
I agree. Morality isn't a physical phenomenon that can be discovered and proven. We simply decide what kind of lives we want to live and what kind of society we want to have, and act accordingly to make it happen.
The hat trick!



I know morality is all about doing what you want to do and what you want to do is all about feelings and instincts etc. but there are limits people! We can't all do what we want to do and expect society to function. No society has ever functioned like that.


With that attitude how could you say racism is bad, it's only people doing what they want to do. You could even justify it by saying the feeling is totally natural and part of our tribal instincts. Ditto with sexism.

Seems like a totally selfish attitude to me.
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 07:53 AM   #22
TragicMonkey
Poisoned Waffles
 
TragicMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Monkey
Posts: 50,248
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
What a cop-out!
Another cop-out. The hat trick!



I know morality is all about doing what you want to do and what you want to do is all about feelings and instincts etc. but there are limits people! We can't all do what we want to do and expect society to function. No society has ever functioned like that.
Every society has always functioned like that. People choose how to behave. They may be choosing as they do because they think their gods demand it, or their ancestors do, or because they think it's right, or perhaps they don't think about it at all. But absent physical compulsion everything someone does is a choice.

Quote:

With that attitude how could you say racism is bad, it's only people doing what they want to do. You could even justify it by saying the feeling is totally natural and part of our tribal instincts. Ditto with sexism.

Seems like a totally selfish attitude to me.
The question of what is good is separate from the question of how we choose to act.

As for selfishness, we exist as individuals therefore everything we do is ultimately selfish to some degree. There's no way out of that.
__________________
You added nothing to that conversation, Barbara.
TragicMonkey is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 07:54 AM   #23
caveman1917
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 6,519
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I can't see that morality is anything else than doing what you want to do.

That doesn't necessarily mean being selfish or bad. For a lot of people what they want to do is to help alleviate the suffering of others.

But I can't see that there is anything more to it.
It seems rather that morality is nothing else than getting others to do what you want them to do. You yourself doing what you want to do needs no moral justification.
__________________
"Ideas are also weapons." - Subcomandante Marcos
"We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live." - Lucy Parsons
"Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!" - Mikhail Bakunin
caveman1917 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 07:58 AM   #24
caveman1917
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 6,519
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
What a cop-out!
In a discussion about which deity is the best and how we should get everyone to worship that particular one all the time, I would, as an atheist, similarly cop-out for basically the same reason.
__________________
"Ideas are also weapons." - Subcomandante Marcos
"We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live." - Lucy Parsons
"Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!" - Mikhail Bakunin
caveman1917 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:11 AM   #25
caveman1917
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 6,519
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
With that attitude how could you say racism is bad, it's only people doing what they want to do. You could even justify it by saying the feeling is totally natural and part of our tribal instincts. Ditto with sexism.
Might is right. If it's not in your interest that racism exists then you should organize to end it, ie to apply your might. Standing around claiming superior obedience to some fixed idea of "morality" you've constructed doesn't help anyone, including black people or women or the working class.

Quote:
Seems like a totally selfish attitude to me.
Thank you.
__________________
"Ideas are also weapons." - Subcomandante Marcos
"We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live." - Lucy Parsons
"Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!" - Mikhail Bakunin
caveman1917 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:12 AM   #26
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Every society has always functioned like that. People choose how to behave.
...
But absent physical compulsion everything someone does is a choice.
That's just circular. Of course people behave however they choose to, but that misses the point that society has a HUGE influence on how people choose to behave.
Morals have evolved enormously. A fairly modern idea is that all people should have some universal rights that society should uphold.
How do you feel about that idea?

Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
As for selfishness, we exist as individuals therefore everything we do is ultimately selfish to some degree. There's no way out of that.
We are very much social creatures as well. We cooperate quite well when we want to.
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB

Last edited by Cheetah; 5th August 2019 at 08:13 AM.
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:14 AM   #27
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 8,903
People behave morally when not doing so will cause more problems than it's worth.
__________________
Careful! That tree's bark is worse than its bite.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:16 AM   #28
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Might is right. If it's not in your interest that racism exists then you should organize to end it, ie to apply your might. Standing around claiming superior obedience to some fixed idea of "morality" you've constructed doesn't help anyone, including black people or women or the working class.

Thank you.

Ahhhh. I see.


How has your "Might is right" philosophy worked out for you in the real world?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:18 AM   #29
TragicMonkey
Poisoned Waffles
 
TragicMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Monkey
Posts: 50,248
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
That's just circular. Of course people behave however they choose to, but that misses the point that society has a HUGE influence on how people choose to behave.
An influenced choice is still a choice. You have free will whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not.

Quote:
Morals have evolved enormously. A fairly modern idea is that all people should have some universal rights that society should uphold.
How do you feel about that idea?
I like that idea, so I behave in a fashion to implement it. See? I choose how I'd like my life and society to be, and act accordingly. If my society chose to implement slavery I would disagree with that, and choose to act against society. Collective or individual it's all desire and choice.


Quote:
We are very much social creatures as well. We cooperate quite well when we want to.
I never said otherwise. Working as a group to achieve a common goal is of benefit to the individuals in that group, therefore it cannot be said to be unselfish.
__________________
You added nothing to that conversation, Barbara.
TragicMonkey is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:19 AM   #30
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 83,853
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
What should the rules be and what should they be based on?
Common feelings about values. They can't be based on anything else.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:22 AM   #31
TragicMonkey
Poisoned Waffles
 
TragicMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Monkey
Posts: 50,248
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Common feelings about values. They can't be based on anything else.
That can't be entirely so, or else ethics would be a majority vote. If 5 million Cardassians agree it's ethical to enslave 1 million Bajorans that cannot make it ethical.

There must be principles in there, although agreeing on them won't be simple.
__________________
You added nothing to that conversation, Barbara.
TragicMonkey is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:26 AM   #32
mumblethrax
Species traitor
 
mumblethrax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 2,348
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I can't see that morality is anything else than doing what you want to do.
That seems hopelessly reductive to me. Yesterday I was on a bus with terrible wifi service, and I noticed that the mobile gateway was using the manufacturer's default password, so I could have blacklisted everyone but me and had decent service. And I wanted to do this. If I had acted on that desire, I think it would be absurd to say that I acted morally.

We too often have conflicting desires (first- and second-order; yours and mine) for this to be true, and that's where morality lives.
mumblethrax is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:35 AM   #33
TragicMonkey
Poisoned Waffles
 
TragicMonkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Monkey
Posts: 50,248
Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
That seems hopelessly reductive to me. Yesterday I was on a bus with terrible wifi service, and I noticed that the mobile gateway was using the manufacturer's default password, so I could have blacklisted everyone but me and had decent service. And I wanted to do this. If I had acted on that desire, I think it would be absurd to say that I acted morally.

We too often have conflicting desires (first- and second-order; yours and mine) for this to be true, and that's where morality lives.
But you did act as you wanted to: your desire to not do that thing overrode your weaker desire to do it. You made a choice and acted on it.
__________________
You added nothing to that conversation, Barbara.
TragicMonkey is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:36 AM   #34
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
There must be principles in there, although agreeing on them won't be simple.
Yes!
That's what I think.
Getting anyone to suggest such a principle though is like pulling teeth, ones with really long intertwined roots.

Dammit people, we are practically all genetically identical in comparison to most species, we should be able to agree on some things.
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB

Last edited by Cheetah; 5th August 2019 at 08:38 AM.
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:40 AM   #35
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Common feelings about values. They can't be based on anything else.

What values would you include?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:43 AM   #36
caveman1917
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 6,519
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Ahhhh. I see.


How has your "Might is right" philosophy worked out for you in the real world?
Very good, thank you. But it's not so much a philosophy as an observation. How have your morality plays worked out for you?
__________________
"Ideas are also weapons." - Subcomandante Marcos
"We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live." - Lucy Parsons
"Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!" - Mikhail Bakunin
caveman1917 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:44 AM   #37
JoeMorgue
Self Employed
Remittance Man
 
JoeMorgue's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Florida
Posts: 19,462
Morality and ethics are questions of reducing the suffering of conscious beings. The questions are answered like every other question; by weighing the evidence.

These questions are difficult, fiendishly complicated at times, and complicated further by cultural baggage, but they are not magical woo-woo questions that either don't have answers or only have absolute answers handed to us by the burning bush.

Everything else is so much Angels dancing on the head of a pin and can be dismissed as the nonsense it is.
__________________
- "Ernest Hemingway once wrote that the world is a fine place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part." - Detective Sommerset
- "Stupidity does not cancel out stupidity to yield genius. It breeds like a bucket-full of coked out hamsters." - The Oatmeal
- "To the best of my knowledge the only thing philosophy has ever proven is that Descartes could think." - SMBC
JoeMorgue is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:44 AM   #38
mumblethrax
Species traitor
 
mumblethrax's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 2,348
Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
But you did act as you wanted to: your desire to not do that thing overrode your weaker desire to do it. You made a choice and acted on it.
You're missing the point--if I had chosen to do the selfish thing, it would be absurd to call the choice moral. The reason I didn't do it is precisely because I thought it would be unethical. Which means that it can't be true that morality/ethics just means just doing what we want. It's a very specific subset of desires, even if we accept the egoistic framing (and there are lots of good reasons why we shouldn't). Which means there's more work involved in calling them desires--what kind of desire, exactly? Saying "it's just us doing what we want to do" elides the whole topic.
mumblethrax is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:49 AM   #39
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,724
Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Very good, thank you. But it's not so much a philosophy as an observation. How have your morality plays worked out for you?

Oh, an observation, sorry.
I was asking about personal opinions, so naturally I thought that was yours.
What is your philosophy then?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 5th August 2019, 08:51 AM   #40
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 83,853
Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
That can't be entirely so, or else ethics would be a majority vote. If 5 million Cardassians agree it's ethical to enslave 1 million Bajorans that cannot make it ethical.
Sure it can. For the Cardassians.

Values are not objective.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:48 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.