Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
Featured Article: Philosophical Analysis of Abortion, The Right to Life, and Murder
anonymous66
Posts: 155
Joined: January 12th, 2018, 4:01 pm

Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by anonymous66 » January 12th, 2018, 4:47 pm

First of all, I lean towards objective morality. I think it could be the case that there are moral facts. And I believe that some actions are morally wrong. But....
I've been pondering the subject of evil, and it seems to me that anytime we use the word "evil" we could just mean mistakes that need to be corrected. Maybe the word "evil" needs to be put in the same category as words like "phlogiston". Perhaps evil doesn't exist and never did.

Thoughts?

Maxcady10001
Posts: 445
Joined: September 12th, 2017, 6:03 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by Maxcady10001 » January 12th, 2018, 7:45 pm

Why do you lean towards an objective morality? For there to be an objective morality, morality would have to exist uninfluenced by anything and as morality is influenced by a great many things it is only subjective. Take personal feelings, they undoubtedly influence morality. Morality cannot be objective if it is influenced by personal feelings.
If there is no objective morality, there certainly can be no moral facts. As a fact by definition has to be indisputably true. It has to be objectively true. But take even facts, even these cannot be objective. The very act of recording a fact is subjected to the perception of the recorder. If I say gravity is acting on me right now, you may consider it a fact, yet, what I am saying is based on my sensory experience alone, so it is subjective. The senses need to be projected into the act in order to record a fact, so no facts can be objective or even facts. You've probably heard a million times there are no facts only interpretations. That's because everything we experience is personal and based on our senses alone.

Also, an action is not inherently immoral or moral. Consider the new alpha lion that invades a pride and kills all cubs prior to its reign. Would you consider the lion to be immoral? What is the difference between a lion's action and our own, besides the action and its effects? If I were to marry a women and kill her children prior to marriage, am I performing an inherently evil act? No, I am not, as actions are not inherently evil, we interpret them this way, we give actions their value, call them good or evil, the action does not have an inherent value. And the value we give these actions is completely subjective, based on how we perceive the action. So no, there is no evil. Also, I haven't said anything googling amorality won't tell you. This subject has been broached many times, I've always wondered why. Also, I googled phlogiston and I don't understand how this relates to evil or morality. Is the human body combustible?

User avatar
Albert Tatlock
Posts: 183
Joined: October 15th, 2017, 3:23 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by Albert Tatlock » January 13th, 2018, 4:08 am

anonymous66 wrote:
January 12th, 2018, 4:47 pm
First of all, I lean towards objective morality.
It sounds like you may have one leg slightly longer than the other. This can easily be fixed with a simple modification to your shoes.
Maybe the word "evil" needs to be put in the same category as words like "phlogiston".
You mean in the category of words that hardly anyone ever uses and most people have never heard of?

Syamsu
Posts: 2569
Joined: December 9th, 2011, 4:45 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by Syamsu » January 13th, 2018, 8:27 am

The existence of agency of choices is a matter of opinion. An opinion is formed by choosing it, where any chosen option is equally logically valid. Example one can say the painting is beautiful or ugly. Evil, good, emotions, soul, spirit, God are all defined in terms of being agency of choices.

Eduk
Posts: 1941
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by Eduk » January 13th, 2018, 2:44 pm

So far as I am aware objective morality only makes sense in the context of a God? And I don't know of any Religions that claim objective morality but don't claim evil as a property of the universe?
Unknown means unknown.

User avatar
Albert Tatlock
Posts: 183
Joined: October 15th, 2017, 3:23 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by Albert Tatlock » January 13th, 2018, 3:03 pm

Eduk wrote:
January 13th, 2018, 2:44 pm
So far as I am aware objective morality only makes sense in the context of a God?
In what way is God's morality not subjective?
And I don't know of any Religions that claim objective morality but don't claim evil as a property of the universe?
That being the case, it goes without saying that religion should be kept out of it then. As far as I'm aware the only religious argument for the existence of evil as an entity or force of some kind is, "well it just is".

Eduk
Posts: 1941
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by Eduk » January 13th, 2018, 3:29 pm

Gods morality is typically defined as objective.

I mean I'm not saying I agree with the theist argument at all. I'm just saying I've never heard objective morality to be argued for and at the same time evil to be argued against.
Unknown means unknown.

User avatar
Albert Tatlock
Posts: 183
Joined: October 15th, 2017, 3:23 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by Albert Tatlock » January 13th, 2018, 3:54 pm

Eduk wrote:
January 13th, 2018, 3:29 pm
Gods morality is typically defined as objective.
I would define it as God's subjective opinion. Admittedly, if I believed in God I would probably not want to stick my neck out and say that.
I'm just saying I've never heard objective morality to be argued for and at the same time evil to be argued against.
Well if someone is determined to argue for objective morality it's hardly surprising if they go on to dig themselves into an even deeper hole, poor things.

anonymous66
Posts: 155
Joined: January 12th, 2018, 4:01 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by anonymous66 » January 16th, 2018, 8:23 am

There is a difference between Divine Command Theory and Objective Morality. There are several philosophers who argue for objective morality without appealing to God.

For instance:


Paul Boghossian is Silver professor of philosophy at New York University, where he was Chair of the Department for ten years (1994�"2004) and responsible for building it into one of the top philosophy programs in the world.[1] His research interests include epistemology, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. He is Director of the New York Institute of Philosophy and research professor at the University of Birmingham.

Timothy Williamson is a British philosopher whose main research interests are in philosophical logic, philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics.

He is currently the Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford, and Fellow of New College, Oxford. He was previously Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh (1995�"2000); Fellow and Lecturer in Philosophy at University College, Oxford (1988�"1994); and Lecturer in Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin (1980�"1988). He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 2004 to 2005.

He is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA),[1] the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters,[2] Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) and a Foreign Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.


Simon Blackburn is a British academic philosopher known for his work in metaethics, where he defends quasi-realism, and in the philosophy of language; more recently, he has gained a large general audience from his efforts to popularise philosophy. He retired as professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge in 2011, but remains a distinguished research professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, teaching every fall semester. He is also a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and a member of the professoriate of New College of the Humanities. He was previously a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford and has also taught full-time at the University of North Carolina as an Edna J. Koury Professor. He is a former president of the Aristotelian Society, having served the 2009�"2010 term.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (born 1955) is an American philosopher. He specializes in ethics, epistemology, and more recently in neuroethics, the philosophy of law, and the philosophy of cognitive science. He is the Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University.[1] He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University under the supervision of Robert Fogelin and Ruth Barcan Marcus, and taught for many years at Dartmouth College, before moving to Duke.[2]

His Moral Skepticisms (2006) defends the view that we do not have fully adequate responses to the moral skeptic. It also defends a coherentist moral epistemology, which he has defended for decades. His Morality Without God? (2009) endorses the moral philosophy of his former colleague Bernard Gert as an alternative to religious views of morality.[citation needed]

In 1999, he debated William Lane Craig in a debate titled "God? A Debate Between A Christian and An Atheist".[3]

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues that God is not only not essential to morality, but moral behaviour should be independent of religion. A separate entity one could say. He strongly disagrees with several core ideas: that atheists are immoral people; that any society will become like lord of the flies if it becomes too secular; that without morality being laid out in front of us, like a commandment, we have no reason to be moral; that absolute moral standards require the existence of a God, he sees that people themselves are inherently good and not bad; and that without religion, we simply couldn't know what is bad and what is good.

Louis Paul Pojman [1935 - 2005] grew up in Cicero, Illinois, where he attended Morton High School and Junior College. He went on to receive a B.S. degree from Nyack College and a B.D degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, becoming an ordained minister in the Reformed Church of America. After serving an inter-racial church in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, he returned to seminary, attending Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University in New York where he studied under Reinhold Niebuhr and earned a Ph.D. in Ethics. During this time he received several fellowships to study abroad. In 1969-71 he was a Fulbright Fellow and a Kent Fellow at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and in 1970 a Rockefeller Fellow at Hamburg University, Germany. Upon receiving his PhD from Union, he decided to study analytic philosophy and went to Oxford University from which he earned his D. Phil in 1977. He also lectured at Oxford. In 1977 he became a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame. After this he taught at the University of Texas (Dallas), and became a Professor at the University of Mississippi, where he was Chair of the Philosophy Department. He was also a visiting Scholar at Brigham Young University, University of California, Berkeley and New York University among others. He recently retired as Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he was a Professor for nine years. In 2004-5 he was a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge University, UK, where he became a Life-Fellow. He has read papers at 60 universities in the USA, Europe and Asia.

anonymous66
Posts: 155
Joined: January 12th, 2018, 4:01 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by anonymous66 » January 16th, 2018, 8:40 am

Those of you who believe evil exists. How do you define the word?

anonymous66
Posts: 155
Joined: January 12th, 2018, 4:01 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by anonymous66 » January 16th, 2018, 5:00 pm

I meant to include these links in my previous post above.
Timothy Williamson


Simon Blackburn


Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

anonymous66
Posts: 155
Joined: January 12th, 2018, 4:01 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by anonymous66 » January 16th, 2018, 6:57 pm

Daniel Fincke also argues for Objective Morality without appealing to God.

User avatar
Greta
Site Admin
Posts: 7235
Joined: December 16th, 2013, 9:05 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by Greta » January 16th, 2018, 7:13 pm

anonymous66 wrote:
January 16th, 2018, 8:40 am
Those of you who believe evil exists. How do you define the word?
Evil is a subjective impression that one may have of local entropy or entropy-inducing entities, especially if they harm or threaten that which we consider of value.

Evil people are those who intentionally promote and create chaos and harm, eg. a sadistic rapist. Why would someone be like that? No matter what blend of nature or nurture creates such people, the upshot is that they have an undeveloped and immature psyche. Happy, relatively balanced human beings have no wish to gratuitously inflict harm but would rather "live and let live". Obviously damaged human beings can be dangerous and tend to be best avoided, as with other natural entropic hazards such as predators, parasites, earthquakes, storms and volcanoes.

Entropy is necessary for growth; the Hindu god Shiva was both a destroyer and renewer. Without a measure of chaos you have stasis, sterility and stagnation (alliteration accidental). The idea in life is to personally try to keep a safe distance from said chaos as it (somehow) keeps sculpting an ever more complex, sophisticated and sentient world.

Eduk
Posts: 1941
Joined: December 8th, 2016, 7:08 am
Favorite Philosopher: Socrates

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by Eduk » January 17th, 2018, 5:50 am

Anonymous66 you seem to describing morality not objective morality. Those are two different things.
For example if I define life to be good then all of morality follows. However that is an axiom. There is nothing to prove that life is good. Of course it's good to me so my subjective morality is valid (to me).
However most religions make claims that their God invented morality and that it is good. Of course they are just moving the axiom from morality to God but that's by the by.
Unknown means unknown.

anonymous66
Posts: 155
Joined: January 12th, 2018, 4:01 pm

Re: Ramblings on Evil: What If It Doesn't Exist?

Post by anonymous66 » January 17th, 2018, 8:11 am

@Eduk
You are correct. Some people claim that morality is subjective. But I've never met anyone who didn't act like they believed that morality was objective.

Post Reply