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Post Number:#16  Postby athena » December 16th, 2009, 2:14 am

"The Little Red Hen", "The Engine that Could", and "The Fox and the Grapes" are all moral stories. We would read them to children and ask "What is the moral of that story." The answer is what caused the effect. A moral is a matter of cause and effect.

The word "evil" goes with the belief that we are born sinners because of what Adam and Eve did and because there is a supernatural being of evil. I wish this kind of thinking were no longer a part of moral discussions.
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Post Number:#17  Postby Belinda » December 16th, 2009, 6:04 am

Athena#16

I looked up Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialism

I agree with Athena and find myself on the side of consequentialism.
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Post Number:#18  Postby OTavern » December 17th, 2009, 2:20 am

Belinda wrote:Athena#16

I looked up Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialism

I agree with Athena and find myself on the side of consequentialism.


Perhaps ethical issues have more than one dimension. A good story must have - minimally - interesting characters, an engaging plot line and a meaning-full theme. Perhaps ethical issues need to be looked at as having, at least, three dimensions:

1. The goodness of the act itself (deontology)
2. The situation or context of the act including consequences (situation ethics/utilitarianism)
3. The motives of the person doing the act (virtue ethics)

What this means is that at least these three factors are essential aspects in determining the ethical implications of our actions. Taken separately and arguing that only one aspect is important is like claiming that for a story or play to be good requires only that it have good characters or only that it have an interesting story line.
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Post Number:#19  Postby pjkeeley » December 17th, 2009, 2:51 am

I agree entirely, OTavern. I do not understand the compulsion to apply only one system of ethics to every argument. Such systems are not always mutually exclusive. And even where they are, it can be useful to consider how and why.
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Post Number:#20  Postby Belinda » December 17th, 2009, 6:52 am

#18 OTavern

Thanks for the summary. I agree but with the reservation that 1. and 3.can be reduced to consequentialism----2.

1.The deontological reason for good is true, if it is true, because it chimes with real needs.

3. as reason for good is true, if it is true, because the person who is virtuous is the person whose thoughts and behaviour accord with the real needs of others.
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Post Number:#21  Postby OTavern » December 17th, 2009, 8:57 am

Belinda wrote:#18 OTavern

Thanks for the summary. I agree but with the reservation that 1. and 3.can be reduced to consequentialism----2.

1.The deontological reason for good is true, if it is true, because it chimes with real needs.

3. as reason for good is true, if it is true, because the person who is virtuous is the person whose thoughts and behaviour accord with the real needs of others.


I don't have time to answer this fully right now, but you are not getting the point of including 1 and 3.
1. Some acts are wrong to do even when good consequences result. The ends do not always justify the means.
3. An act done with wrong motives is not morally good even if good consequences came about. It is still not a "moral" act. Moral acts require that moral agents do them. Good consequences on their own are not morally laudible.
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Post Number:#22  Postby athena » December 17th, 2009, 12:11 pm

OTavern wrote:
Belinda wrote:Athena#16

I looked up Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialism

I agree with Athena and find myself on the side of consequentialism.


Perhaps ethical issues have more than one dimension. A good story must have - minimally - interesting characters, an engaging plot line and a meaning-full theme. Perhaps ethical issues need to be looked at as having, at least, three dimensions:

1. The goodness of the act itself (deontology)
2. The situation or context of the act including consequences (situation ethics/utilitarianism)
3. The motives of the person doing the act (virtue ethics)

What this means is that at least these three factors are essential aspects in determining the ethical implications of our actions. Taken separately and arguing that only one aspect is important is like claiming that for a story or play to be good requires only that it have good characters or only that it have an interesting story line.


OTavern, when I saw your name I expected something good, and you surpassed any expectation. Replies like yours are why I come here. Your answer hold out awesome possibility of our thinking taking a quantum leap. How ingenious to apply the law of the triad to the answer of the question.

But every tension of opposites culminates in a release, out of which comes the "third". In the third, the tension is resolved and the lost unity is restored. -Carl G. Jung, Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist


Our polar thinking is faulty. By thinking in terms of the triad, we pierce through the polarity to infinity and that is the way of nature. We come in harmony with nature when think as nature is. I think your suggestion the we use three dimensional thinking would improve our thinking in quantum leaps and bounds.

Belinda and like your wording,

because the person who is virtuous is the person whose thoughts and behaviour accord with the real needs of others.
Being in accord with others, rather than using power to get one's own way. If the end result is in accord with others, there is harmony, and if not, there is discord, a tension that seeks release.

I think our presence in the mid east is causing discord, and war is the reaction to the tension. What happens in war is not a good thing. Hum, how might balance and harmony be achieved? That would be the moral.
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Post Number:#23  Postby OTavern » December 18th, 2009, 1:01 am

athena wrote: Your answer hold out awesome possibility of our thinking taking a quantum leap. How ingenious to apply the law of the triad to the answer of the question.


Thank you for your acknowledgement. However, this idea of morality having multi-dimensional aspects has been around for a while - I did not originate it. CS Lewis definitely expanded the idea in Mere Christianity and Peter Kreeft does an impressive job working out the details in a transcript and audiotalk aimed at refuting relativism available on his web site. http://www.peterkreeft.com/audio/05_relativism/relativism_transcription.htm#7

That article should be required reading/listening for anyone who thinks relativism is a valid moral position. Again, an excerpt:

...both the situationist and the motivationist conclude against moral absolutes. The situationist because he finds all morality relative to the situation, the motivationist because he finds all morality relative to the motive. We reply with a common-sense distinction. Morality is indeed conditioned, or partly determined, by both situations and motives, but it is not wholly determined by situations or motives. Traditional common sense morality involves three moral determinants, three factors that influence whether a specific act is morally good or bad. The nature of the act itself, the situation, and the motive. Or, what you do; when, where, and how you do it; and why you do it. It is true that doing the right thing in the wrong situation, or for the wrong motive, is not good. ... The deed is good, but the motive is not.

However, there must first be a deed before it can be qualified by subjective motives or relative situations, and that is surely a morally relevant factor too. The good life is like a good work of art. A good work of art requires all its essential elements to be good....

... So a good life requires you do the right thing, the act itself; and have a right reason or motive; and that you do it in the right way, the situation. Furthermore, situations, though relative, are objective, not subjective. And motives, though subjective, come under moral absolutes. They can be recognized as intrinsically and universally good or evil. The will to help is always good, the will to harm is always evil. So even situationism is an objective morality, and even motivationism or subjectivism is a universal morality.
The fact that the same principles must be applied differently to different situations presupposes the validity of those principles. Moral absolutists need not be absolutistic about applications to situations. They can be flexible. But a flexible application of the standard presupposes not just a standard, but a rigid standard. If the standard is as flexible as the situation it is no standard at all. If the yardstick with which to measure the length of a twisting alligator is as twisting as the alligator, you cannot measure with it. Yardsticks have to be rigid.
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Post Number:#24  Postby pjkeeley » December 18th, 2009, 2:13 am

athena wrote:How ingenious to apply the law of the triad to the answer of the question.

athena, surely it was a good response because it was a fairly comprehensive guide to answering moral problems, not because when OTavern categorised ethical system he found himself at the number three? Other categories might be added. For example, divine command theorists, who account for morality not by the goodness of the act itself, nor by the situation and utility of the act, nor the motives of the person doing the act, but simply because the act is commanded by gods.
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Post Number:#25  Postby Belinda » December 18th, 2009, 7:07 am

Divine command theorists are deontologists I think.

If there were no animals with the sorts of consciousnesses that are systems of meanas are we,there would be no over-arching good, from a divine or any other source.

Actually there is no life form that is independent of any other life form, even to viruses(if they are life forms at all). We are social animals who are dependent on autonomous other humans for our mental and emotional growth into autonomous adults. This is a fact of neuroscience.(Professor Susan Greenfield)There is no virtue ,no morality,without personal autonomy, therefore there is no future in deontological ethics.The value of the ethics relates to what is the case, i.e. what is natural.Therefore the value of the ethics relates to the consequence of the ethics for harmony with what is the case.

One most important part of what is the case is that humans are creative, in an almost qualitatively different way any other animals. This is a zoological fact and accounts for our species becoming the most powerful among others that are physically much more powerful than we.Our creativity therefore is what makes us human, and it's our creativity that flowers when the geniuses among us see connections that have never been seen before. These connections are always about the consequences of new theories, arts, or technologies: never about their intrinsic values exceptwhen the new theories, arts and technologies are taken over by elements of social control.
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Post Number:#26  Postby Meleagar » December 18th, 2009, 10:40 am

Belinda wrote:
Actually there is no life form that is independent of any other life form, even to viruses(if they are life forms at all).


An odd statement from a darwinian evolutionist; was the first form of life not independent of any other forms of life?

Also, rock bacteria seems to be independent of any other form of life, existing on minerals found in rock at 3000 feet.
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Post Number:#27  Postby Simon says... » December 20th, 2009, 8:18 am

Meleagar wrote:
Belinda wrote:
Actually there is no life form that is independent of any other life form, even to viruses(if they are life forms at all).


An odd statement from a darwinian evolutionist; was the first form of life not independent of any other forms of life?

Also, rock bacteria seems to be independent of any other form of life, existing on minerals found in rock at 3000 feet.


Could we perhaps not get off topic, we are with this statement in danger of turning this topic away from an investigation of meta-ethics, to a debate about darwinian evolution vs intelligeant design, hence I will not voice any objections because its a totally different subject. Suffice to say though that the proponent of intelligeant design has just as many, if not more gaps in its theory to account for than darwinian evolution, and what's more is says that nature, isn't actually nature, because if nature does not work naturally but intelligeantly how can it be nature at all?

On the subject of ethics and theism/deism though, well, I have a theory about it. I reckon that, there are really four positions one can be, four attitudes to any one particular religion:

1. Total Denial - This being the view that the religion in question is a total waste of time and that there is absolutely nothing remotely contructive or useful about it. (I do not hold this view, some of my friends do but I think they are being a little presuptuous).

2. The aesthetic attitude - This being the view that the supernatual claims that the religion is making are not false as such (they are false if taken literally), but rather are metaphorical and/or symbolic allusions. It is akin to when someone says something like "she will be in my heart forever", if taken literaly the statement is frankly retarded, but, there is a difference between what a sentence means semantically, and what one actually does with the statement. Now the origional authors of books like the bible and quran, did not understand the increadible events happening around them (such as the physics behind an earthquake for example), they would have appeared miraculous, ergo, they would have recorded them in the only way they new how, poetically, as an artistic representation of what happened. Most historians believe the trojan war did take place, but few with any ounce of sense think that it happened in the way homer described, and such would be the case with all religions. This is the view I hold because it allows me to deny idealism, deism and intelligeant design (because there are significant problems that its proponents simply cannot begin to account for) whilst allowing for religion to be useful. I certainly don't think religion is necessary but I certainly think that its useful.

3. The moralistic attitude - This being the view that does take the supernatual elements of the religion seriously, literally, but, limits it to a large extent. Most religious people with an ounce of sense take this view, here is how it works. Religious texts, may well convey messages from supernatural entities, but, they are translated through the veil of mortal minds, imperfect minds, ergo, the texts in question are always imperfect. Jesus did not write the bible, his followers did, ergo there is bound to be some mistakes. Not all the authors even knew Jesus at all, and had only other humans to learn from! Such is the case with all religions. But there is a way we can cope with this, it is based on the following assumptions. That god/gods/spiritual energy (or whatever it is you believe in) exists, that it is rational, and that it is ethical through that rationality. So for example if your a christian, your concerned with atoning for sins through self sacrifice and belief etc etc, the point being, how are we to know what our sins are? Through the bible? Well, partly, but unfortunately the bible cannot be the B all and end all because it was written by humans who are imperfect, ontop of that there are numerous inconsistencies. Certainly some of it is true, (says the believer anyway) so how are we to sort out the truth from the falsity, well, its simple, which parts of the book are logical, and which are ethical? How do we tell ethical? Simply, what is actually contructive. So for example when god told abraham to kill his son, its all very well "trusting god" i.e. showing faith, the virtue of trust etc, but unfortunately that is abusing trust, because the end is clearly unethical. How is killing your son contructive in any way! Ergo, what abraham should have said was, "no! explain why first!", or even "no, f**k off!". Most sensible religious people I know hold this view, in that they do NOT think that by dint of being an atheist I will go strait to hell, how is that contructive in any way? It does not allow me to learn from my mistakes, which is what justice is all about, and if its unjust its clearly not what god would want, or even allow! They do NOT think that if god tells them to rape and murder and steal they ought to do it, because god would NOT tell them that, ergo whatever IS telling them to do that, clearly ISN'T god! (So when the jews killed the amalokites, it clearly wasn't god who told them to do that because god WOULDN'T tell them to do that!)

4. The extremist - This being the view that both logical and morality are somehow subject to god's whim, meaning that, no matter what it is that god tells you to do, that is what you ought to do. So if god does tell you to commit genocide, that is ethical. The problem with that, is that many people think that god IS saying that, (global jihad etc) where he clearly isn't, but more importantly its fundamentally absurd, because, if all morality means is to be subject to god's unjustified whims, then how is morality useful or desired? If being moral means committing genocide, then how is morality useful or contructive? It would render morality totally devoid of any value! If god is ethical, he must be subject to ethics, god is not a dictator!
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Post Number:#28  Postby athena » December 20th, 2009, 10:48 am

Meleagar wrote:
Belinda wrote:
Actually there is no life form that is independent of any other life form, even to viruses(if they are life forms at all).


An odd statement from a darwinian evolutionist; was the first form of life not independent of any other forms of life?

Also, rock bacteria seems to be independent of any other form of life, existing on minerals found in rock at 3000 feet.


When Darwin saw a flower that was like a trumpet, with its sex organs deep inside, he guessed there would be an insect with a long tongue. Many years later he was proved correct. Darwins theory is based on the dependence of living things. But this dependence is also dependence on our planet. The rock bacteria is dependent on the rock.

We are dependent on the soil. Without good soil to grow food people starve. The good soil of the bread basket of the US is the result of glaciers shoving top soil south. In our soil, are micro organisms that are essential to the grown of plants. When we build cities over the top of good farm soil, we kill the micro organisms and make the soil infertile.

Our planets hold each other in place, and it is possible life on earth began with Amino acids traveling in space dust. That is to say the whole universe is interdependent. Thus science can be important to our concept of reality and sense of morality.

May I say a huge difference in our perception of reality is to believe we are born to be noble, and born with all the virtues, or we are born in sin and can not be other then sinful without a God effecting our lives. What we believe true of our nature is essential to how we act on our moral judgment.

We call say our prisons are part of correction system, but do prisons correct? The penitentiary is about doing penitents. It is built on a religious idea that doing penitents would save a person's soul, and this evolves into our present prison system. It is built on an understanding of our nature, that was seeped in believing we are born in sin and need a Jesus/God to save our lives. For some this belief system is problematic.

Simon says..., isn't Socrates a moralist? He certainly was concerned with our morals, and his debates are based on this concern. This morality is based on knowledge of the law; that is knowledge of cause and effect.
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Post Number:#29  Postby Simon says... » December 20th, 2009, 11:17 am

Hey athena,

I'm not myself an expert on Socrates but yes I think he was very much a moralist in that he attempted to solve the problem of the phenomenon of morality. What is morality? Does it exist? If so why? And How? Why bother be moral at all? Etc etc. I think though that whilst the great greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle did indeed argue for the existence of a prime mover of some kind, I do not know of any evidence to suggest that they thought this entity was necessarily sentient or moral, merely a self causal entity, an "Uber domino" as it where.

In greco-roman society religion and ethics where separate. The gods where seen as all powerful yet with very human characteristics that where often fundamentally flawed, they where not afraid to rightly point out that the god where often deeply unethical, albeit, being mortals there wasn't exactly much they could do about it! But greco-roman ethics where strictly rational in nature, using the kind of "contructivist" virtue ethics that I outlined, none of which has anything to do with anything remotely supernatural.

I think that the difference between a moralistic attitude to religion, and that of an extremist, is whether or not you think that ethics is a rational contructivist phenomenon of human society (& in fact life in general if you take the time to observe animal social behaviour) which the supernatural elements of your "ethical" religion is subject to or whether morality is merely the sum of your god's unjustified whims. And its easy to find out who is who, go to any religious person and ask, "if god told you to commit genocide, would you do it?" If yes, then they have totally lost the point of what morality actually is and are an extremist, but if not, then they have comman sense.
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Post Number:#30  Postby hilda » December 21st, 2009, 8:41 am

White man claim Scott big chief of heap big mischief:
Valid.
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