If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

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3uGH7D4MLj
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » May 8th, 2018, 10:51 pm

Thinking critical wrote:
May 4th, 2018, 2:42 pm
The difference between a religious approach and humane approach to morality gives us a clue as to which is the more reasonable; religion defines morality as objectively true under the dictatorship of god who uses punishment and reward, furthermore there is very little if any accountability of the origin of such morals - where did they come from, how were they communicated and do we know if the answer to those 2 questions is true?
The humane approach is much more complicated but is also more relevant in the sense it evolves as our species gains wisdom. Essentially most humans to a certain degree concur that pain, suffering and the act of intentionally killing someone who does not want to be killed is wrong. It is this common ground which we can build from which will inevitably demonstrate humane morality is far more superior than a gods.
Something is wrong because we feel and believe it's wrong, not because we're told its wrong.

Simply put, humans invent gods then decide what the god they invented commands to be right or wrong, then they argue that we can't know what is right or wrong without the God which they invented.
The argument makes no sense, if you delete the gods the morals are still there and nothing else changes.
The social rules we live by evolved over eons, and I guess they're still evolving. Allowing murder isn't a good thing for the village, sacrificing all the virgins isn't a practical religious doctrine -- we learn this. By comparison, the moral rules of the western Sistine God are not much to go by. According to him it's ok to get in there and kill all the firstborn.

It's pretty confused and inconsistent, but decrees from God are used to give weight to the social rules that have naturally evolved. Seems to me.
fair to say

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » May 9th, 2018, 1:31 am

Eduk wrote:
May 8th, 2018, 7:03 pm
Karpel when you say things like 'intelligent readers have pointed out' I don't think you do the point you are making any favours.
I'm also not a fan of Harris. I find him unsettling personally.
Well, your spot on. It's a propaganda statement and I suppose it came off as saying those who did not see him that way are not intelligent, which is not what I intended. I did intend the propaganda. Sometimes when faced with vague, abstract approvals that seem problematic and are not arguments, I respond, in part, with propaganda. It's a bad habit, so good for you for calling me on it.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Gertie » May 9th, 2018, 10:48 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 3:47 pm
Gertie wrote:
May 6th, 2018, 11:49 am
I personally go with Harris - 'The Well-Being of Conscious Creatures', and I gave my argument earlier. So, finally (!) to answer your question, my foundation for judging if something is 'wrong', my foundation for moral rules/Oughts, is whether it's detrimental to the Well-Being of Conscious Creatures. Murder? Yup deffo!
Yet Harris manages to support all sorts of military actions, including ones leading to mass civilian deaths, for example in his justification of the Gulf Wars, Israel's actions in Gaza and Lebanon, and even lays the groundwork for not only judicial torture but pre-crime punishment of people for their beliefs. He denies some of this, but his books lay out the foundation for even the worst of this as intelligent readers have pointed out time and again. IOW he is just another moralist who takes sides and has biases.
Gertie wrote: ↑
May 6th, 2018, 11:49 am
I personally go with Harris - 'The Well-Being of Conscious Creatures', and I gave my argument earlier. So, finally (!) to answer your question, my foundation for judging if something is 'wrong', my foundation for moral rules/Oughts, is whether it's detrimental to the Well-Being of Conscious Creatures. Murder? Yup deffo!
Yet Harris manages to support all sorts of military actions, including ones leading to mass civilian deaths, for example in his justification of the Gulf Wars, Israel's actions in Gaza and Lebanon, and even lays the groundwork for not only judicial torture but pre-crime punishment of people for their beliefs. He denies some of this, but his books lay out the foundation for even the worst of this as intelligent readers have pointed out time and again. IOW he is just another moralist who takes sides and has biases.
Fair point. I agree with your criticisms of Harris.

I did give my own argument earlier for The Well-Being of Conscious Creatures being imo a suitable foundation for Oughts. Which is what the OP is claiming is impossible without God.

I think that's actually the easy part when it comes to morality, the tricky part is finding the best way to achieve the goal. Again Harris makes a fair point in describing it like a landscape, with hills and valleys, rather than a straightforward formula.

I think this is inevitable, because qualiative issues like well-being/quality of life are subjectively experienced, and my idea of the best ingredients might not be yours, tho we can probably largely agree on the basics. It's also difficult to measure different Goods against each other, and different Bads against each other. There are various philosophical approaches, but any attempts at 'one size fits all' Rules for Oughts seem to be flawed. Even the Golden Rule assumes we all agree on what makes for well-being, but if say I'd rather my daughter was killed than dishonoured the family, does that justify me killing your daughter? Or if I'd rather starve than accept state welfare, does that mean I shouldn't have to pay taxes for someone else? Etc.

As regards Harris, my view is that his strength is that he's a clear thinker who can cut through the noise to the essentials. His weakness is that he struggles with the complexity and nuance of real people in the real world. So he comes to conclusions which on paper might look reasonably arrived at, but are actually crude and counter-productive (immoral). It's a flaw I've noticed in some people who pride themselves on their rationality, a willingness to barge through nuance and complexity in search of the tidy comfort of a crisp, clear answer. And if the answer happens to suit your own biases, that just shows how right you were all along! I'm a bit that way myself ;) . But when you apply that approach to morality you can get horrendous results, as you say.

But still, while I agree he goes horribly wrong in terms of methodology for achieving the goal, I think he's nailed the goal. I think he's right when he identifies the justified foundation for a post-god morality, and he handily came up with a pithy catch-phrase which encapsulates it nicely. And as I said, I gave my own reasons earlier, my position is a sort of mash-up of that and Goldstein's ideas on Mattering. If you want to challenge my position as I've argued it, have at it, because that's what I'm defending, not everything Harris has ever written.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Luxin » October 18th, 2018, 3:26 am

Dear philosophers,

We are God, and we exist. I have no need to explain why we are God; the truth of that can be intuited directly without aid of reasoning (the definition of intuition). Some of us have no real capacity for intuition. LuckyR is correct in saying that murder is 'wrong by consensus'. Because we are all collectively God, the majority decides if murder is wrong. That determination is made possible by the Golden Rule. Being God, most of us microcosmic aspects of God decide that murder is wrong because we don't want to be murdered. God decides, we decide are synonymous.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Eduk » October 18th, 2018, 5:15 am

We aren't God. I have no need to explain why we aren't God; the truth of that can be intuited directly without aid of reasoning etc etc etc.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by LuckyR » October 19th, 2018, 12:55 am

Eduk wrote:
October 18th, 2018, 5:15 am
We aren't God. I have no need to explain why we aren't God; the truth of that can be intuited directly without aid of reasoning etc etc etc.
I get what you are saying, but since we are the inventors of gods, it is close to the same thing.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Dachshund » October 19th, 2018, 1:37 am

LuckyR wrote:
October 19th, 2018, 12:55 am


I get what you are saying, but since we are the inventors of gods, it is close to the same thing.
Are you a non-theist, Lucky ?

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by LuckyR » October 20th, 2018, 3:21 am

Dachshund wrote:
October 19th, 2018, 1:37 am
LuckyR wrote:
October 19th, 2018, 12:55 am


I get what you are saying, but since we are the inventors of gods, it is close to the same thing.
Are you a non-theist, Lucky ?

Dachshund
My opinion on gods is not dissimilar to my opinion on Santa Claus: they exist, influence people (including myself at some level) and individuals can spend their time pontificating that they are or are not important.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » October 20th, 2018, 4:23 pm

Gertie wrote:
May 9th, 2018, 10:48 am
But still, while I agree he goes horribly wrong in terms of methodology for achieving the goal, I think he's nailed the goal. I think he's right when he identifies the justified foundation for a post-god morality, and he handily came up with a pithy catch-phrase which encapsulates it nicely. And as I said, I gave my own reasons earlier, my position is a sort of mash-up of that and Goldstein's ideas on Mattering. If you want to challenge my position as I've argued it, have at it, because that's what I'm defending, not everything Harris has ever written.
I appreciate the nuanced response.
Let me throw out an idea to mull. The problems with his methodology is a warning about what he considers rationality to be. How did he, via his version of rationality, reach some rather pernicious conclusions AND also how did he not notice the implications of his rationality around pre-crime punishment of belief? If other atheists were all over him on these things, I would be less concerned. And also if they could show the problems with what Harris considers rationality, I would be less concerned.

At root one can look at atheist theist differences as having to do with epistemology. A post-theist world would in Harris' mind have something close to his epistemology.

But his epistemology or rationality is very problematic. Not because he concludes that there is no God or his conclusions about what mistakes epistemologically theists make, etc.

But because his rationality leads to apologetics for large scale acts of violence that I think are not morally or practically justified.

If, as I said, the atheist community, really honed in on this, or at least, say, the left wing side - since they would likely be more critical of some of his ideas about what is moral large scale violence - and also decided, hey, if we are going to take the high epistemological ground we need to figure out how such horrible conclusions could be reached, supposedly by someone with an epistemology we respect.

Otherwise we just have another metaphysical system on the table, one capable of the outrages usually attributed to the larger monotheisms. The post-theist world need not be better at all.

I am a theist, though not one in any of the major religions. I am critical of them epistemologically and also morally, and then even in relation to practices and what they teach in terms of self-relation and relation to others. I am also critical of the epistemology of many vocal atheists. Both theists and atheists can have a wide range of epistemologies, so I do not assume they are all the same, but there are tendencies in both groups. It would be wonderful if both groups really struggled to clean house. I am sure some atheists have taken Harris to task on certain conclusions, but what I have not seen is a real systematic look at the issue of....

How can one who is at least close to my/our epistemological camp reach such horrible conclusions?

Is his rationality an ideology?

Is it leaving out some of the skill set we have inherited via evolution that might prevent some of the problems in his beliefs?

Is his rationality perhaps not a partial rationality`?

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by GE Morton » October 21st, 2018, 1:17 pm

Whether murder is wrong does not depend upon the "Word of God" or upon the doctrines of any other non-rational belief system. It is wrong if it is prohibited by a sound, rational moral theory.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » October 24th, 2018, 5:10 am

GE Morton wrote:
October 21st, 2018, 1:17 pm
Whether murder is wrong does not depend upon the "Word of God" or upon the doctrines of any other non-rational belief system. It is wrong if it is prohibited by a sound, rational moral theory.
Any rational moral theory must have an irrational base. It has to have some kind of axioms, which will be based on our feelings.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by GE Morton » October 24th, 2018, 11:21 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
October 24th, 2018, 5:10 am

Any rational moral theory must have an irrational base. It has to have some kind of axioms, which will be based on our feelings.
Yes, it must be based on some axioms. No, if those are rational they will not be "based on our feelings." They will be based on some objective and universal facts about human nature and the structure of modern societies.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Hereandnow » November 8th, 2018, 6:07 pm

"They will be based on some objective and universal facts about human nature and the structure of modern societies."

How does this translate into a meaningful moral imperative not to murder the old lady in the night when no one sees, and you can't pay the bills, but she is rich and selfish? You've read the theory, you see that even Rorty, a non absolutist moralist and a first rank philosopher can't defend the nihilism that underlies what is pragmatically a really good idea: philanthropy and altruism (for its competitors are unsustainable, lead to an unsustainable social world where utility is far from maximized--what, and all those guppy intellectuals terrified of the amoral piranhas swimming around).

It is not god, some super Hobbsian sword wielding agency of vengeance, that backs moral laws. It's the absolute foundation possessed clearly by the nature of happiness and suffering (and all that we experience that is what these are about), and the moral world these disclose to us.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by GE Morton » November 8th, 2018, 7:54 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
November 8th, 2018, 6:07 pm
"They will be based on some objective and universal facts about human nature and the structure of modern societies."

How does this translate into a meaningful moral imperative not to murder the old lady in the night when no one sees, and you can't pay the bills, but she is rich and selfish?
I'm not sure what you would count as "meaningful." If a "meaningful" imperative is one which would deter the murderer you describe, then there is none. But the soundness of a moral theory, or of a moral principle, does not depend upon universal acceptance.
You've read the theory, you see that even Rorty, a non absolutist moralist and a first rank philosopher can't defend the nihilism that underlies what is pragmatically a really good idea: philanthropy and altruism . . .
Yes, philanthropy and altruism are good ideas, within certain parameters.
. . . (for its competitors are unsustainable, lead to an unsustainable social world where utility is far from maximized--what, and all those guppy intellectuals terrified of the amoral piranhas swimming around).
When maximizing utility you have to be sure it is maximized for all agents, and calculated using each agent's own value hierarchy.

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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Hereandnow » November 9th, 2018, 12:32 pm

But the point isn't about how well theory about maximizing utility or universalizing maxims or conceptualizing ethics in a sound systemic way. In fact, such rationalizing may work in favor doing the wrong (or "bad") thing: Consider Kant: act on that maxim that you would will into a general law. Taking this as a way to justify ethical behavior, what is there in this that tells the motivated rapist that it is a bad idea to go out that night and attack someone? Even if s/he understands what Kant is talking about, he may appreciate others worrying about univeralizing their maxims while he takes advantage of them, who have perhaps dropped their guard assuming that other rational agents are like minded. Reason is, as Hume reminds us, not morally prescriptive; it is just an empty vessel, ethically speaking. Or Mill: utility? Why should one worry about others' utility? It may be, As Rawls tells us (Justice as Fairness), that it is in our best interest to have a society of self interested people consider others welfare, but this is only contingently so and has nothing in it that speaks to the rapist who can step out of the bounds of well formed theory at any time and rape. pillage and plunder at will.

This is why an absolute is necessary. 'God' is a term, and not a very good one, that stands in for understanding what this is about, and as we evolve we displace this for something else, something without the myth and clunky narratives. That will be philosophy: the end of philosophy is ethical understanding.

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