Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#31  Postby Steve3007 » April 3rd, 2014, 4:16 pm

So everything involving a human action automatically has a moral dimension?

What about me solving the problem of which key to press in order for the letter "W" to appear on my screen? Surely it's possible to think of human actions with no moral content? Maybe not. Maybe the fact that at the route of all human actions is a human desire means that there is indeed a moral dimension.

I think though, we tend to think of morals as being particularly associated with our treatment of others. I wouldn't see my solution of the problem of how to get this wine out of this glass into my mouth as a moral one.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality



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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#32  Postby Rombomb » April 3rd, 2014, 4:21 pm

Steve3007 wrote:So everything involving a human action automatically has a moral dimension?

What about me solving the problem of which key to press in order for the letter "W" to appear on my screen? Surely it's possible to think of human actions with no moral content? Maybe not. Maybe the fact that at the route of all human actions is a human desire means that there is indeed a moral dimension.

I think though, we tend to think of morals as being particularly associated with our treatment of others. I wouldn't see my solution of the problem of how to get this wine out of this glass into my mouth as a moral one.

How to get what you want? That's morality.

Is it moral to get what you want while acting against the will of another person? No. (here i mean like initiating violence or threatening initiating violence on an innocent person)

Is it moral to get what you want by (voluntary) persuasion of other people? Yes.

Is it moral to suicide? There isn't enough details here to make an informed judgement.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#33  Postby Belinda » April 4th, 2014, 3:38 am

Steve3007 wrote:So everything involving a human action automatically has a moral dimension?

What about me solving the problem of which key to press in order for the letter "W" to appear on my screen? Surely it's possible to think of human actions with no moral content? Maybe not. Maybe the fact that at the route of all human actions is a human desire means that there is indeed a moral dimension.

I think though, we tend to think of morals as being particularly associated with our treatment of others. I wouldn't see my solution of the problem of how to get this wine out of this glass into my mouth as a moral one.


While not all of us has the time or energy to moralise about how one ought to tip wine into one's mouth I don't doubt that there are treatises on exactly that topic, and other matters of hygiene, etiquette, or maintaining hand/eye/mouth coordinated movements. Morality enters into all fully conscious human actions i.e. actions which are filtered through our frontal cerebral lobes. True, tilting a cup of wine into mouth is probably a matter of 'muscle memory' for most people past babyhood but can again be deliberate if some muscular or nervous disease supervenes on the previous learned skill.

As I said, it is not usually possible to be fully conscious of all of our smaller actions, but as some religions insist, there exist petty moral rules and regulations that govern even eating and drinking.

If 'clarity of immorality' means anything to me it means that immoral acts are more conspicuous, more clear, than moral acts. I think that this state of affairs implies that moral acts are the norm and so they are inconspicuous.

Not to say that inconspicuous always implies moral. Sometimes the better or future morality is in course of invention and is heralded by eccentricity.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#34  Postby Steve3007 » April 4th, 2014, 4:00 am

Hi Belinda.

Note: the article is titled: The Clarity of Amorality. Not Immorality. i.e. he's talking about the possibility of dispensing with the language and concepts of morality altogether, not about immoral acts.

But, yes, I see yours and Rombomb's points that we could define morality as broadly as: "Anything involving any kind of human action." I guess the OP simply disagrees with that definition. So we're down to semantic wrestling again!
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#35  Postby Rombomb » April 4th, 2014, 9:23 am

Steve3007 wrote:Hi Belinda.

Note: the article is titled: The Clarity of Amorality. Not Immorality. i.e. he's talking about the possibility of dispensing with the language and concepts of morality altogether, not about immoral acts.

But, yes, I see yours and Rombomb's points that we could define morality as broadly as: "Anything involving any kind of human action." I guess the OP simply disagrees with that definition. So we're down to semantic wrestling again!

I disagree that semantics matter.

You and I can have the same idea, express it using different words, and we mean the same thing.

You and I can have different ideas, express them using the same words, and we mean different things.

Words don't matter. Ideas matter.
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Post Number:#36  Postby Theophane » April 4th, 2014, 9:41 am

faithlessgod wrote:I have posted summary of my concerns in The Unclarity of Amorality


Amorality is not at all unclear to the amoral person, ie. the sociopath. I can only imagine the clarity of being emotionally disconnected from all of mankind. I can only imagine how chaotic and meaningless our varying notions of good and evil, right and wrong must seem to this person.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#37  Postby Steve3007 » April 4th, 2014, 10:01 am

Theopane:

In the OP, Scott appears to be advocating what he portrays as an amoral technique for dealing with the problems of human decisions. But he doesn't appear to be a sociopath (although I suppose it's impossible to tell for sure!). What do you make of that?

Rombomb:

I agree that ideas are important. But since those ideas are always expressed using words, I think that sorting out what we mean by those words is also important and sometimes turns out to be central. We came into this topic discussing what difference, if any, there might be between a "recommendation to a particular action" and a "declaration of what is morally right". I think that was as much a discussion about the meanings of words as it was about ideas.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#38  Postby Rombomb » April 4th, 2014, 10:22 am

Steve3007 wrote:Theopane:

In the OP, Scott appears to be advocating what he portrays as an amoral technique for dealing with the problems of human decisions. But he doesn't appear to be a sociopath (although I suppose it's impossible to tell for sure!). What do you make of that?

Rombomb:

I agree that ideas are important. But since those ideas are always expressed using words, I think that sorting out what we mean by those words is also important and sometimes turns out to be central. We came into this topic discussing what difference, if any, there might be between a "recommendation to a particular action" and a "declaration of what is morally right". I think that was as much a discussion about the meanings of words as it was about ideas.

I don't understand the difference between the two.

Are you saying that one of them claims infallibility while the other doesn't?

Are you saying that one of them claims to be an authoritative command and the other doesn't?

What's the difference between them?
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#39  Postby Theophane » April 4th, 2014, 10:36 am

Theopane:

In the OP, Scott appears to be advocating what he portrays as an amoral technique for dealing with the problems of human decisions. But he doesn't appear to be a sociopath (although I suppose it's impossible to tell for sure!). What do you make of that?


It wasn't my intention to imply that Scott is a sociopath. I don't know him from Adam! :oops:
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#40  Postby Steve3007 » April 4th, 2014, 10:45 am

Rombomb:

I was just trying to examine the meaning of the OP. Probably best just to re-read that.

Theopane:

I'm sure that wasn't your intention. I was simply trying to examine the apparent large difference between your and the OP's understanding of the word "amoral".
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#41  Postby Belinda » April 5th, 2014, 3:06 am

Belinda wrote:
Steve3007 wrote:Hi Belinda.

Note: the article is titled: The Clarity of Amorality. Not Immorality. i.e. he's talking about the possibility of dispensing with the language and concepts of morality altogether, not about immoral acts.

But, yes, I see yours and Rombomb's points that we could define morality as broadly as: "Anything involving any kind of human action." I guess the OP simply disagrees with that definition. So we're down to semantic wrestling again!



Indeed yes, Steve. What people mean by 'morality' does matter when we are debating morality. I view morality anthropologically as a main part of how societies function, and therefore indispensable to any society.

I believe that if people want to evaluate several moral systems they should be using the term 'ethics' or 'ethical systems', or perhaps they should be comparing and contrasting moral cultures to evaluate them.

In any case, I seem to have misunderstood the OP and I'd better reread it.

(Edited)

I have reread the OP and I think that Scott is too hung up on what it signified that morality was couched in religion at one time. The global moral culture of the post-Christian civilised world now dominates the beliefs of all but the less educated, or poorer, or rural and undeveloped societies, or segments of bigger societies, that is true. Although religious myths and primitive cosmologies have lost their influences on the global morality, it must be cherished and nurtured because without it the global society will collapse.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#42  Postby Steve3007 » April 5th, 2014, 5:02 am

I have reread the OP and I think that Scott is too hung up on what it signified that morality was couched in religion at one time.


I agree! I think he's putting the cart before the horse. I think religions probably developed as (among many other things) formal statements of pre-existing moral codes that were there because of the way we humans use social cohesion and cooperation as a very effective survival tool.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#43  Postby Aristocles » April 24th, 2015, 2:35 am

Perhaps the distinction between ethics/morality/norms etc. is as significant as cost-benefit analysis, risk-reduction or what Socrates calls the measuring art. Religion takes a philosophical concept and takes a stand, especially for those that may seem to need the guide. Morality is more than that, more than just because a religion may or may not say so.... Is it not based upon the very same principle that brings us to discuss the very topic? The simplicity and complexity are a lifetime's worth of fascination, as real as we can get with theses bodies holding us back.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#44  Postby -prof » April 29th, 2015, 5:29 pm

Scott wrote:The Clarity Of Amorality
by Scott Hughes

Morality consists of moral values used to judge conduct, events, and people in general. It refers to the way people try to universally categorize human conduct as right or wrong, or good or bad.

... When a person says, "doing drugs is immoral," they might mean, "doing drugs will cause you more trouble than pleasure." When a person says, "breaking the law is morally bad," they might mean, "if you break the law, it will probably result in very unpleasant consequences for you."


Hi, Scott

Thanks for a thought-provoking essay. Your translations of what the sentences in your examples might mean suggest that you are offering a hedonist ethics ...with all those references to pleasure. And the word "consequences" does not convey clarity either. What are the boundaries of a "consequence"? Any way of measuring it?

You offer us a dictionary-style definition of 'morality.' It may reflect common current usage but it lacks rigor. I agree with you that it is very unclear. We need something better.

Though when I reflected upon the relation of self to Self, of our outer selves to our inner selves, of our conduct to our self-image, our values, the term "morality" seemed most-apt to allude to this relationship. I argue for it in my thread "What is Morality?" [...link to it was posted but was compelled to remove it....] [Scott: when I previewed this post, I was informed {by an automated message} that I am not authorized to post links. Evidently, that bot finds it to be subversive for me to post a link to another thread here at the Forum. Can something be done about this? I have about 436 posts here, but was forced to re-register because I changed my email address and reconfigured my computer due to a spam bot that was planted within it. Now I am rid of it.]

I believe we need to re-define the concept "morality" rather than dispose of it altogether. We need to redefine it to mean this correspondence - or lack of it - of our belief structure (including our highest values) to our actual behavior. It will then be a technical term in a model - a model that is part of a more-comprehensive ethical theory.

We need a new theory of Ethics and Morality; we need an Ethics for the 21st-century :!:

The Hartman/Katz paradigm is such an Ethics. For further details click on the signature at the end of posts by prof where you will find some suggested readings. See especially BASIC ETHICS. [It gets clearer after p. 9.] Also, see my latest thread on Ethical Clarity which I am about to post.

....Open for comments.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post Number:#45  Postby Mgrinder » April 30th, 2015, 10:21 pm

Scott wrote:The Clarity Of Amorality
by Scott Hughes

Morality consists of moral values used to judge conduct, events, and people in general. It refers to the way people try to universally categorize human conduct as right or wrong, or good or bad.

Morality originated from religion. In the earlier days of human civilization, the lack of telecommunications and lack of fast transportation separated humankind into small, isolated communities. As a result the religion in each one of these communities would dominate the community. Since those isolated communities had little contact with other cultures and religious beliefs, they took their own religion as simple truth.


I don't think it's right to say that morality originated with religion Scott. For one, this suggests that early hunters and gatherers did not feel empathy or sympathy for others, help each other out, or do nice things for each other, until Shamans came around and started telling them to? That seems quite wrong.

Further, I was reading Jared Diamond's "The world until yesterday" which has a detailed section on hunter/gatherer religions, and basically, if you look at examples of these sorts of religions, there is nothing in them about how people should behave towards each other. They are world creation myths, and things like that, but hunter/gatherer religions do not prescribe behavior. This comes from anthropology data from new Guinea, Africa and South America, where hunter/gatherers were studied before they modernized.

Religion, it seems, only starts to prescribe correct behavior when city/states come into being. Then you get religions that tell people how to behave. The theory as to why this is, is that, for hunter gatherers, a stranger means danger. Strangers are viewed with great suspiscion and fear, and often killed on sight. You meet a stranger while picking roots, it's flight or fight time. You don't know what their intentions are.

So the thought is, that when cities grew big, you needed a way to keep strangers of the same city from killing each other, and the answer was religion. Make people in your civilization part of a collective whole, and they can get along without killing each other so much. That's Diamond's theory anyways, and I'm guessing that he doesn't think people consciously did this, rather religion evolved to accomadate early civilization.

Scott wrote:However, as the world has globalized, the different communities have come into more and more contact with each other and have begun mixing. With multiple religions in the same society, the society could no longer use a single religion as its law and value system. As a result, society developed secular laws and values that applied independent of any given person's religion.

Naturally, society derived its new secular values and codes of conduct from its religious values. For the most part, it just rephrased the religious commandments and values from the dominant religions in more secularized terms. The "sinful" became the "immoral."

Developments in science also have led to more secularization of society because science can more reliably explain what people would otherwise rely on religion to explain. Also, people questioned their own religion more once they came into contact with other religions.

However, the archaic idea of morality remains. Even many so-called atheists talk as though some metaphysically universal set of values exist to determine the goodness or badness of people or actions. They do that by referring to people and actions as morally good or bad.


Many Athiests, like most people, tend to care about the welfare of others. Just like hunter/gatherers did. When you care about others, then you don't want to see them hurt and you want to see others being happy. This makes you act morally towards them. Then your behavior might seem to conform to some set or rules. Really, you just want to see other people in good states, so for the most part, you don't kill them, don't hurt them, and try to help them when they need it.

This is a pretty big and important part of many people's lives, caring and acting in the interests of others. Many people can't help it, and they don't want to help it. So there's this word for all this : morality. It doesn't come from religion.
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