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

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

Post by Eduk » December 3rd, 2018, 2:14 pm

As is always the case with God questions you first have to define God. Please do so.
Arent you in danger of defining science in such a way as to render it insufficient? Science doesnt claim a definition of murder or contradict definitions of murder.
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GE Morton
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by GE Morton » December 3rd, 2018, 3:03 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
December 3rd, 2018, 1:45 pm

My point is about the way scientific thinking attempts to grasp the moral dimension of human existence. Talk about murder being wrong because survival is "the very impetus of our existence," for example, is comical, for the actuality of a murder, a gruesome one to make the point, far exceeds empirical science's systematic way of understanding it. Science deliberately abstracts from the actual event just to assimilate it into it modes of rationalization. The fullness of the event, the actuality of the experience, this is what needs full accounting for this includes the breadth of what is Real, and this cannot be quantified. And, the impetus of our existence? Is our existence truly driven by survival and reproduction? Or are these not examples of the way science reduces actuality to quantifiable terms?

Think about Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment: In the detail of the "impetus" that drives him to murder. Imagine for a moment that you are him, the anxiety, the wretchedness, the awful condition imposed upon him: is this the kind of thing that is given full and satisfying disclosure in an abstract scientific term?
You and Eduk are making the same mistake. What you are describing above is the emotional dimension of human existence, not the moral dimension. That an act strikes us (or Raskolnikov) as "gruesome," "wretched," etc., does not make it morally wrong. Neither does the fact that act is driven by empathy or altruistic sentiments make it morally right.

Either kind of act --- murder or charity --- may be morally right or wrong, of course, but not because of the emotions driving or accompanying it.

On the other hand, species survival and reproduction cannot be the basis either. Other than a few humans, mostly philosophers, no animal is concerned with the survival of its species; it is concerned only with its individual survival and the survival of its offspring, mates, and among social animals, other members of its pack or hive or tribe. Most of them are quite willing to kill other members of their own species if necessary to protect themselves, their kills, their mates and cubs, or their territory, and quite unwilling to sacrifice their own welfare for the sake of non-members of their own kinship group.

Moralities are explicit, articulable and communicable codes of behavioral "do's and don'ts" developed, promulgated, and usually enforced by humans living in civilized societies --- "societies of strangers" --- for purely pragmatic reasons. The assumed basis of a particular code may be rational or irrational, but the actual rules always aim to facilitate peace and stability in the society, so that the great advantages of that social structure may continue to be realized.
But go a different route, start with what the term could mean vis a vis what is given in the world and move from there, the term becomes very different and impossible to shake free of.
I'm not at all clear how "what is given in the world" would lead anyone to "God."

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

Post by Eduk » December 3rd, 2018, 5:30 pm

You and Eduk are making the same mistake.
You don't seem to have read through what I said.
On the other hand, species survival and reproduction cannot be the basis either.
I believe I said gene survivability.
Moralities are explicit, articulable and communicable codes of behavioral "do's and don'ts"
So if everyone says it's ok to commit genocide then that makes it ok? Few people would agree with your arbitrary definition.
That an act strikes us (or Raskolnikov) as "gruesome," "wretched," etc., does not make it morally wrong.
I don't agree. I think you need to make two distinctions. One is that it is gene survival which is selected for. And the other is that emotions are real. I would say that emotions transcend their origin, or are an emergent property. There is nothing planned or intentional they just are, much in the same way we are conscious. How this happens I do not know. So there is much room for error, but for me it remains not just a possibility but something which tallied with my direct experience of reality.
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Hereandnow
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Hereandnow » December 3rd, 2018, 8:13 pm

Eduk:
As is always the case with God questions you first have to define God. Please do so.
Arent you in danger of defining science in such a way as to render it insufficient? Science doesnt claim a definition of murder or contradict definitions of murder.
I smell Peterson.
Define God? No; I mean, that is exactly what not to do, because then you proceed to try to fit the world to the df. and really, the point is, this is where things go very wrong. This is how we get the straw man arguments atheists drool over. Not that you are wrong to define terms, but that the df must come after a review of the evidence, and it comes at the END of this.
And: Not that science comes out and says, Well then, here is what we think God and ethics is all about; but then, it often does just this. Richard Dawkins comes to mind. Peter Berger, who wrote the Sacred Canopy back in the 60's (?) and predicted the end of popular religion in a couple of decades or so comes to mind. So does David Sloan Wilson and Robert Wright. Anyway, it is not what science explicitly says, rather, it is how it has come to dominate serious thinking. People see how well cell phones work, admire the science that created them, then think all meaningful answers are derived from what empirical scientists do. Who reads Kierkegaard? Or Levinas? Or Buber, or Kant or....; well, these have never been exactly popular. But the earth shattering things they had to say about this issue remain marginalized. Science gives the illusion that it informs philosophy, but this is just a fallacy ad populum.
But lastly, to get to some understanding of how to define God, we have to do what a good scientist does: look to the world and what it is. Front and center is ethics. Apart from all things, ethics is truly primordial.
Peterson I don't know.

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

Post by GE Morton » December 3rd, 2018, 8:35 pm

Eduk wrote:
December 3rd, 2018, 5:30 pm
Moralities are explicit, articulable and communicable codes of behavioral "do's and don'ts"
So if everyone says it's ok to commit genocide then that makes it ok? Few people would agree with your arbitrary definition.
Your conclusion ("So if everyone says it's ok . . . ") cannot be drawn from the statement quoted. A definition of "morality" or "moral code" does not presume the soundness of any particular code, or set forth the criteria for its soundness. It just says what it is, just as a "recipe" is a set of instructions for preparing a certain foodstuff. It does not comment on the tastiness or nutritional value of the dish described.
That an act strikes us (or Raskolnikov) as "gruesome," "wretched," etc., does not make it morally wrong.
I don't agree. I think you need to make two distinctions. One is that it is gene survival which is selected for. And the other is that emotions are real. I would say that emotions transcend their origin, or are an emergent property. There is nothing planned or intentional they just are, much in the same way we are conscious. How this happens I do not know. So there is much room for error, but for me it remains not just a possibility but something which tallied with my direct experience of reality.
Neither gene survival nor species survival can serve as the basis for a sound moral code. For one thing, they beg the question: whether the human species or anyone's gene's (morally) ought to survive are themselves moral questions, which have actually been raised in some quarters. For another, that thesis is an an attempt to derive "ought" from "is," i.e., a normative statement from factual ones.

No one doubts that emotions are real, or that they motivate behavior. But they have no bearing on the morality of any particular behavior. "If it feels good, do it" is an abandonment of morality, not a moral principle.

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

Post by Hereandnow » December 3rd, 2018, 9:00 pm

GE Morton
What you are describing above is the emotional dimension of human existence, not the moral dimension. That an act strikes us (or Raskolnikov) as "gruesome," "wretched," etc., does not make it morally wrong. Neither does the fact that act is driven by empathy or altruistic sentiments make it morally right.
You are right about that, though the point was rather to juxtapose Raskolnikov's condition with an empirical theory that is being used to explain murder, the phenomenon. The explanation is entirely incommensurate with the reality. Reminds me of R D Laing's comments in his Divided Self which eschewed orthodox psychiatry for having so much to say, and yet saying nothing at all about actual people who are afflicted. But no, I do not place the moral wrongness in sentiment or altruism or empathy, however, these do play a profound role in determining the nature of a moral motivation. Compassion is, I would argue, the hallmark of a true moral act. But keep in mind that this is a good place for the agent/action distinction: An act can be reprehensible, though the agent free of guilt if the agent is unaware of the standards that make for the reprehensibility. Can't hold a Roman gladiator accountable for committing atrocities if he has no clue at all about the moral reasoning involved.
Either kind of act --- murder or charity --- may be morally right or wrong, of course, but not because of the emotions driving or accompanying it.
This has to be disambiguated. An act of compassion and empathy is inherently right, though the act itself may be very wrong. Agents and actions are assessed independently.
On the other hand, species survival and reproduction cannot be the basis either. Other than a few humans, mostly philosophers, no animal is concerned with the survival of its species; it is concerned only with its individual survival and the survival of its offspring, mates, and among social animals, other members of its pack or hive or tribe. Most of them are quite willing to kill other members of their own species if necessary to protect themselves, their kills, their mates and cubs, or their territory, and quite unwilling to sacrifice their own welfare for the sake of non-members of their own kinship group.
A biological evolutionist would try make survival and reproduction the principle themes in such an analysis, wouldn't she? I mean, ask about the various things you point out, and there will be some extended explanation that links killing mates and rest with evolution's mysteries. Whatever.
Moralities are explicit, articulable and communicable codes of behavioral "do's and don'ts" developed, promulgated, and usually enforced by humans living in civilized societies --- "societies of strangers" --- for purely pragmatic reasons. The assumed basis of a particular code may be rational or irrational, but the actual rules always aim to facilitate peace and stability in the society, so that the great advantages of that social structure may continue to be realized.
You mean LAWS are explicit and so on. Moralities are anything but this save in the most obvious cases. Moral dilemmas are everywhere.
But go a different route, start with what the term could mean vis a vis what is given in the world and move from there, the term becomes very different and impossible to shake free of.
I'm not at all clear how "what is given in the world" would lead anyone to "God."
Right. Might as well be blunt: Suffering in the world absolutely requires redemption. This is the existential basis for God. Not God the person, the superman with omni everything. These are without justification and are metaphysical superfluities. One can see this to be true if one exercises understanding apart from what is empirically present, and toward what is ethically present; and this latter? Apply a match to your finger for a few moments. Now ask the ontological question: what is this doing here at all? Empirical science is mute on this, yet it presents what is at the heart of what our Being-here is about.

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

Post by Eduk » December 4th, 2018, 3:56 am

@GE Morton I don't understand. You don't like gene survival because it doesn't answer the question as to whether genes ought to survive (which I agree with by the way). But your preferred definition explicitly says nothing about its own tastiness? Or to put it another way says nothing about whether you ought to follow the prescribed moral code? I don't understand your objection?
@Hereandnow I don't understand. I must not define God? Except after I take all the evidence? Then we should? But we shouldn't define it scientifically? And ethics is evidence?
Well let's just say that I personally do require evidence, prior plausibility, predictions, testable claims, definition of terms, mechanisms, reproducibility, and so on. Not necessarily all of those things in their entirety but certainly a good number with good reasons for any failings.
I mean. It seems to me that you are saying God is self evident. Furthermore that anyone claiming not to see the self evident God is not operating sincerely and with good faith? Could you conceive of a sincere person who didn't see this self evident God which you see? Is that possible?
Not sure which God you believe in, obviously, but is it a mainstream one? Do you see opposing faiths and denominations as people who can see the self evident nature of God but don't agree with your definition? I just wonder how you know your definition is right and theirs is wrong?
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by Hereandnow » December 4th, 2018, 11:54 am

Eduk:
@Hereandnow I don't understand. I must not define God? Except after I take all the evidence? Then we should? But we shouldn't define it scientifically? And ethics is evidence?
Well let's just say that I personally do require evidence, prior plausibility, predictions, testable claims, definition of terms, mechanisms, reproducibility, and so on. Not necessarily all of those things in their entirety but certainly a good number with good reasons for any failings.
I mean. It seems to me that you are saying God is self evident. Furthermore that anyone claiming not to see the self evident God is not operating sincerely and with good faith? Could you conceive of a sincere person who didn't see this self evident God which you see? Is that possible?
Not sure which God you believe in, obviously, but is it a mainstream one? Do you see opposing faiths and denominations as people who can see the self evident nature of God but don't agree with your definition? I just wonder how you know your definition is right and theirs is wrong?
You are right to critical. It's just that the justification I have in mind liberates idea of God from all of what tradition would have us think, and so the conclusion as to what God is is going to something divested of the usual suspects: Traditionally, God is the omni present, omnipotent, omniscient agency that thinks, act, wills, loves; a person like you and me, only better, the best. Such an idea puts a string of assumptions first, then moves through the community of believers replacing justification with faith, and faith has the power to do no wrong, so to speak. This makes God look absurd, because it places a defense of this concept in the hands these anthropomorphized features' plausibility, and they are not plausible at all. The arguments look to these assailable things as proof of God's non existence become straw man arguments.

The question should never have been (though no avoiding the myths and legends that gave this to us I guess), does God exist? It should be, what is there in the world we are trying to explain that is at the basis of this religious phenomenon? That is, when people invest their faith in God, what are they Really doing? Is there something that is in the world as it is given, like the scent of a flower is given, and is not some invented concept about a flower's place in a taxonomy, that religion and God respond to? That is, something we didn't make but is there and we have to deal with it.

This post is already too long, I know. But this only begins what is a long examination into human ethics. I do think Kierkegaard put it well in his Repetition. Here is an excerpt:
Where am I? What does it mean to say: the world? What is the meaning of that word? Who tricked me into this
whole thing and leaves me standing here? Who am I? How did I get into the world? Why was I not
asked about it, why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had
been bought from a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved in this big enterprise
called actuality?
You find this in Kafka and elsewhere; it is the awakening to something very simple and profound: we are thrown into this world, and we suffer. Of course, this is not to say that is ALL we do, but the question goes deep into our affairs as humans. Just ask some accused witch what it is like being burned to death. This kind of thing is IN the world, and there is nothing that can compete with it for saliency.

Another important premise for the argument lies with phenomenology, and I cannot put it forth here. But I offer this: Science does not ask the questions about epistemology. It is not their field to question the structures of knowledge relationships with the world, and so it knows nothing of what it means to do this. And doing this is what philosophy is all about, I would argue. Once the question is asked and pursued, science and it materialistic assuptions go out the window, I would further argue. And we are left only with our world, which becomes expanded to include all that science ever said.

Another important premise focuses on value. But I have already tried your patience, no doubt, with the length of the post. There is a lot say on all iof this. tons!

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

Post by Eduk » December 4th, 2018, 12:37 pm

It should be, what is there in the world we are trying to explain that is at the basis of this religious phenomenon?
Sure. I would say humans aren't always rational, or fully rational or absolutely rational or know all that is rational. So belief in all sorts of things says that humans believe. Indeed I think this is fundamental. Of course this says nothing about the truth value of God/s.
we are thrown into this world, and we suffer.
Some people do. Many people do not. I don't. Suffering is not the core of my existence, it is part of my existence. In my experience it is manageable and more than outweighed by the positives. Of course other people's experience will vary.
This whole suffering, sin and repentance thing is of course a part of human nature. We have a suffering shaped brain. Religion merely exploits this shape. Although exploit suggests intentionality where there is none.
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by GE Morton » December 4th, 2018, 1:20 pm

Eduk wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 3:56 am
@GE Morton I don't understand. You don't like gene survival because it doesn't answer the question as to whether genes ought to survive (which I agree with by the way). But your preferred definition explicitly says nothing about its own tastiness? Or to put it another way says nothing about whether you ought to follow the prescribed moral code? I don't understand your objection?
Objection to what?

Yes, a definition of "morality" or "moral code" or "moral system" is not an argument for any particular morality or code. It is simply a description of what a moral code is and what is its purpose. Like any definition its purpose is to indicate how the word is used in ordinary language or in some particular context.

As for whether one ought to follow a moral code, the answer to that is dependent upon the theory from which the code is derived. Whether that answer is "yes" or "no" depends upon whether that theory is sound.

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

Post by Eduk » December 4th, 2018, 1:54 pm

@GE Morton I thought you were objecting to gene survival as a component of morality?

How do you test for soundness? Can you give me an example of a sound moral.
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by GE Morton » December 4th, 2018, 2:30 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
December 3rd, 2018, 9:00 pm
GE Morton
What you are describing above is the emotional dimension of human existence, not the moral dimension. That an act strikes us (or Raskolnikov) as "gruesome," "wretched," etc., does not make it morally wrong. Neither does the fact that act is driven by empathy or altruistic sentiments make it morally right.
You are right about that, though the point was rather to juxtapose Raskolnikov's condition with an empirical theory that is being used to explain murder, the phenomenon. The explanation is entirely incommensurate with the reality.
I have no idea what "empirical theory" to which you refer there. The aim of a moral theory, however, is not to explain murder, or any other behavior, but to pronounce upon whether it is acceptable or not, and for what reasons. I suspect that the "reality" you have in mind is the emotional impact that act can have on some people, which would be your reason for deeming it unacceptable. Which is not a very good reason, because that impact will vary from person to person. Few murderers experience the angst of Raskolnikov.
But no, I do not place the moral wrongness in sentiment or altruism or empathy, however, these do play a profound role in determining the nature of a moral motivation.
They play a role in the motivation of certain acts. Other emotions motivate other acts. All acts have some emotional impetus. But whether any act is or is not moral is a separate question from its motivation, although motives and intentions can be mitigating factors when assigning praise or blame. But upon what then, in your view, is moral wrongness based?
Compassion is, I would argue, the hallmark of a true moral act.
Well, that thesis certainly requires an argument. Many philosophers would disagree, and claim that a "true moral act" is one done from duty, not one done because the agent is emotionally disposed to do it.
Either kind of act --- murder or charity --- may be morally right or wrong, of course, but not because of the emotions driving or accompanying it.
This has to be disambiguated. An act of compassion and empathy is inherently right, though the act itself may be very wrong. Agents and actions are assessed independently.
You tend to use the term "inherent" frequently, and, in my view, somewhat carelessly. Your second sentence there (which is self-contradictory) again appears to presume that moral rightness is a function of motivations, and further presumes, a priori, that empathy and compassion are "moral" emotions. But as I said, those assumptions require arguments.
You mean LAWS are explicit and so on. Moralities are anything but this save in the most obvious cases. Moral dilemmas are everywhere.
Laws are explicit, but so are moral codes. The facts that there are many incompatible codes, that no code supplies answers to every possible moral question, and that all the nominal adherents of a code do not understand it or apply it correctly in every case, does not mean it is not explicit, articulable and communicable.
I'm not at all clear how "what is given in the world" would lead anyone to "God."
Right. Might as well be blunt: Suffering in the world absolutely requires redemption. This is the existential basis for God.
Huh? Are you suggesting that the existence of suffering "existentially" demands that there exist an entity, or agency, to atone or compensate for it?
Apply a match to your finger for a few moments. Now ask the ontological question: what is this doing here at all? Empirical science is mute on this, yet it presents what is at the heart of what our Being-here is about.
The real question is, "What is anything doing here at all?" "Why does anything exist?" "God" is our attempt to answer that question. But that answer just moves the question back one step.

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

Post by GE Morton » December 4th, 2018, 2:48 pm

Eduk wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 1:54 pm
@GE Morton I thought you were objecting to gene survival as a component of morality?
Yes, I was. But it was not clear to me in your previous post to which objection you referred (there were others).
How do you test for soundness? Can you give me an example of a sound moral.
Just as one tests any other theory --- by determining whether the axioms are self-evident, the postulates are empirically true or logically derivable from the axioms, and whether the theorems follow logically from the axioms and postulates. I presented the prolegomenon for such a theory in a previous thread:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15854&p=321490&hili ... ty#p321490

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

Post by Eduk » December 4th, 2018, 3:07 pm

@GE Morton can you give me an example of a sound moral? I ask because I think it will illustrate what you mean.
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by GE Morton » December 4th, 2018, 7:19 pm

Eduk wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 3:07 pm
@GE Morton can you give me an example of a sound moral? I ask because I think it will illustrate what you mean.
Not sure what you mean by a "sound moral." A moral theory? A moral principle? A moral rule?

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