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Is morality objective or subjective?

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meaningful_products
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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by meaningful_products » February 3rd, 2019, 3:02 am

Eduk wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 4:21 am
Yes the first thing to do would be to decide what makes an action morally right @Ultrackius
But you saying something is clearly right or clearly wrong proves absolutely nothing. I'll give you an example, it is clearly right that I am 200 foot tall.
it does prove something if the speaker is honest. It proves what the speaker believes is moral.

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Belindi » February 3rd, 2019, 5:15 am

I agree with Athena about the stabilising effect of the family but only if by 'the family' Athena means responsible adults and their dependants. The "responsible adults" will have committed themselves to caring for each other especially any children or other vulnerable members.

Regarding the family, more might be discussed regarding family size, kinship rules, relative powers of family members, residential proximity, division of labour, and personal independence as a necessary adjunct of capitalism.

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Gandalf » February 5th, 2019, 5:11 pm

athena wrote:
January 28th, 2019, 11:22 am
I do not agree with your overall conclusion that morals are not based on facts, because I think our liberty and democracy depend on understanding morals as cause and effect.

I have an issue with this: I don't believe democracy depending on something being true makes it true.

Athena, I have a rhetorical question in relation to morals being based on facts: what are the facts based on?

My point is at some super low level some assumptions/beliefs must be made otherwise you end up in a loop trying to base reality on.

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Burning ghost » February 7th, 2019, 9:40 am

It’s a dichotic mismatch ... whatever that means! Haha!
AKA badgerjelly

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by JosephM » February 7th, 2019, 1:20 pm

Gandalf wrote:
February 5th, 2019, 5:11 pm
athena wrote:
January 28th, 2019, 11:22 am
I do not agree with your overall conclusion that morals are not based on facts, because I think our liberty and democracy depend on understanding morals as cause and effect.

I have an issue with this: I don't believe democracy depending on something being true makes it true.

Athena, I have a rhetorical question in relation to morals being based on facts: what are the facts based on?

My point is at some super low level some assumptions/beliefs must be made otherwise you end up in a loop trying to base reality on.

There is the reality which truly exists , and it forever will lie outside of our direct knowledge , due to the limits of human capability.

We observe ,and may make inferences about this reality , and if we find these to be objectively accurate and of predictive value, we call these inferences true , although they are really just a model of the reality we cannot know directly.

Moral distinctions are often based on these inferences , and such moral distinctions, may take the form of encouragements or dissuasion (regarding various behaviors) ; Or perhaps assign blame , justice,( and many other things). However, These distinctions are not objectively true,( in that they are not depicting any preference which exists in that world of 'reality' outside our direct experience ), but they may be cherished and appreciated as indicative of what it means to be a human. They may enhance our social context , and people often consider them indicative of their "personal reality".

So I agree that the truth is independent of our sentiments , and indistinguishable from reality. But humans are essentially moral creatures.

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Peter Holmes » May 22nd, 2019, 3:19 am

To clarify and summarise my OP...

An argument against moral objectivism

1 To be objective is to rely on facts, rather than judgements, beliefs or opinions, which are subjective.

2 A factual assertion is a linguistic expression which (classically) may be true or false, because it makes a claim about a feature of reality that may or may not be the case.

3 The truth or falsehood of a factual assertion is independent of judgement, belief or opinion. (We call a true factual assertion a fact.)

4 A fact describes a feature of reality correctly, given the way we use the words or other signs involved. So there must be a feature of reality for it to describe.

5 There seems to be no evidence that moral rightness and wrongness are features of reality that may or may not be the case. The absence of evidence may not mean they do not exist, but it does mean that to believe they do exist is irrational.

6 In practice, we use words such as moral, immoral, right, wrong, good and bad to express judgements, beliefs or opinions about some features of reality.

7 If moral rightness and wrongness are not features of reality, moral assertions are not and cannot be factual.

8 If moral assertions are not factual, there can be no moral facts, and morality is not and cannot be objective.

Notes

This argument assumes we are part of a reality we can know about and describe correctly. And it assumes a standard use of the words truth, fact and objectivity.

But any use of language (of signs such as words) is conventional, contextual and purposive. And we can describe things in many different ways. So what we call truth and facts, and therefore objectivity, is always within a context, or from a perspective.
(To mistake abstract nouns, such as truth and objectivity, for things of some kind that we may not understand, or that may not exist, is an ancient metaphysical delusion.)

Our linguistic practices constitute everything we say about everything, including what we say about our linguistic practices. The things we talk about cannot tell us what our words mean. So there is no foundation, for what we say, beneath our linguistic practices. And in practice, we distinguish functionally between factual and non-factual assertions.

The task for moral objectivists and moral realists is to provide an example of what they think is a moral fact, and show why, in context, it describes a feature of reality correctly, independent of judgement, belief or opinion. And theirs is the burden of proof. But the following notes assume that morality is not objective.

A To look for a moral feature of reality, such as the rightness or wrongness of capital punishment, is to misunderstand the function of a moral assertion. To mistake a moral assertion for a factual one is to make a category error.

B How ever strongly or widely held, a moral judgement remains a judgement. For example, even if everyone believes capital punishment is morally wrong, it cannot be a fact that it is morally wrong.

C Whatever facts we deploy to justify a moral judgement, it remains a judgement. And others can deploy the same facts differently, or different facts, to justify different moral judgements. That is our inescapable moral predicament.

E That moral judgements are subjective explains why we can argue about them, and why they can change over time. If there were moral facts, their truth would be unarguable and unchanging.

F That there are no moral facts does not mean we cannot make moral judgements. On the contrary, it means that we can. To be moral, we have no choice but to make moral judgements.

G Moral values and judgements often matter deeply to us, and we tend to think of them as universal: not restricted to a time and place. (To think otherwise would be morally inconsistent.) And this may explain why we can think morality is objective – that there are moral facts. It is an understandable misunderstanding.

H Some behaviour, such as the abuse of children, arouses moral outrage and disgust in many or most of us. But to cite what may be even universally regarded as a moral atrocity as an example of a moral fact is to make a fallacious appeal to emotion.

I Talk of the distinction between moral ontology and moral epistemology assumes what has yet to be shown: that there are moral things which can therefore be known.

J Talk of moral intuition and moral conscience also assumes what has yet to be shown. There seems to be no objective way to adjudicate between conflicting moral intuitions or deliverances of moral conscience, which points to their subjectivity.

K There is a useful analogy between moral and aesthetic assertions. Like moral rightness and wrongness, ugliness and beauty are not independent properties or features of reality. To say a thing is ugly or beautiful is to express a judgement, belief or opinion, not to make a factual claim. It cannot be a fact that a thing is ugly or beautiful.

Peter Holmes
May 2019

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by LuckyR » May 30th, 2019, 1:23 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
May 22nd, 2019, 3:19 am
To clarify and summarise my OP...

An argument against moral objectivism

1 To be objective is to rely on facts, rather than judgements, beliefs or opinions, which are subjective.

2 A factual assertion is a linguistic expression which (classically) may be true or false, because it makes a claim about a feature of reality that may or may not be the case.

3 The truth or falsehood of a factual assertion is independent of judgement, belief or opinion. (We call a true factual assertion a fact.)

4 A fact describes a feature of reality correctly, given the way we use the words or other signs involved. So there must be a feature of reality for it to describe.

5 There seems to be no evidence that moral rightness and wrongness are features of reality that may or may not be the case. The absence of evidence may not mean they do not exist, but it does mean that to believe they do exist is irrational.

6 In practice, we use words such as moral, immoral, right, wrong, good and bad to express judgements, beliefs or opinions about some features of reality.

7 If moral rightness and wrongness are not features of reality, moral assertions are not and cannot be factual.

8 If moral assertions are not factual, there can be no moral facts, and morality is not and cannot be objective.

Notes

This argument assumes we are part of a reality we can know about and describe correctly. And it assumes a standard use of the words truth, fact and objectivity.

But any use of language (of signs such as words) is conventional, contextual and purposive. And we can describe things in many different ways. So what we call truth and facts, and therefore objectivity, is always within a context, or from a perspective.
(To mistake abstract nouns, such as truth and objectivity, for things of some kind that we may not understand, or that may not exist, is an ancient metaphysical delusion.)

Our linguistic practices constitute everything we say about everything, including what we say about our linguistic practices. The things we talk about cannot tell us what our words mean. So there is no foundation, for what we say, beneath our linguistic practices. And in practice, we distinguish functionally between factual and non-factual assertions.

The task for moral objectivists and moral realists is to provide an example of what they think is a moral fact, and show why, in context, it describes a feature of reality correctly, independent of judgement, belief or opinion. And theirs is the burden of proof. But the following notes assume that morality is not objective.

A To look for a moral feature of reality, such as the rightness or wrongness of capital punishment, is to misunderstand the function of a moral assertion. To mistake a moral assertion for a factual one is to make a category error.

B How ever strongly or widely held, a moral judgement remains a judgement. For example, even if everyone believes capital punishment is morally wrong, it cannot be a fact that it is morally wrong.

C Whatever facts we deploy to justify a moral judgement, it remains a judgement. And others can deploy the same facts differently, or different facts, to justify different moral judgements. That is our inescapable moral predicament.

E That moral judgements are subjective explains why we can argue about them, and why they can change over time. If there were moral facts, their truth would be unarguable and unchanging.

F That there are no moral facts does not mean we cannot make moral judgements. On the contrary, it means that we can. To be moral, we have no choice but to make moral judgements.

G Moral values and judgements often matter deeply to us, and we tend to think of them as universal: not restricted to a time and place. (To think otherwise would be morally inconsistent.) And this may explain why we can think morality is objective – that there are moral facts. It is an understandable misunderstanding.

H Some behaviour, such as the abuse of children, arouses moral outrage and disgust in many or most of us. But to cite what may be even universally regarded as a moral atrocity as an example of a moral fact is to make a fallacious appeal to emotion.

I Talk of the distinction between moral ontology and moral epistemology assumes what has yet to be shown: that there are moral things which can therefore be known.

J Talk of moral intuition and moral conscience also assumes what has yet to be shown. There seems to be no objective way to adjudicate between conflicting moral intuitions or deliverances of moral conscience, which points to their subjectivity.

K There is a useful analogy between moral and aesthetic assertions. Like moral rightness and wrongness, ugliness and beauty are not independent properties or features of reality. To say a thing is ugly or beautiful is to express a judgement, belief or opinion, not to make a factual claim. It cannot be a fact that a thing is ugly or beautiful.

Peter Holmes
May 2019
A nice and to my ear, logical summary of the topic. Though many could disagree with your moral opinions reasonably within your given framework (which is, in fact a large part of it's attraction).
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Peter Holmes » May 31st, 2019, 1:31 am

Thanks. And yes, we can and sometimes do disagree with other people's moral opinions. But we can never falsify theirs or verify our own.

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Belindi » June 9th, 2019, 8:15 am

LuckyR wrote in "Notes":
B How ever strongly or widely held, a moral judgement remains a judgement. For example, even if everyone believes capital punishment is morally wrong, it cannot be a fact that it is morally wrong.
Facts are judgements too. Cosmological facts have changed over the centuries, and each cosmology is embedded in its culture of belief. Cultures are relative to each other not to an ideal culture.

Capital punishment is wrong or right if the universe of discourse is confined to the moral beliefs of one specific culture. Similarly that the Earth circles the Sun is true or false according to the cosmological belief of a specific culture.

Morality is learned like 'facts' are learned. The conditions for a child's learning morality are the same as for a child's inductive learning i.e. they are social conditions . Learning occurs in age related stages. For instance at a specific stage and age of learning a child will be unable to understand conservation of quantity; and at a specific stage and age of learning a child will be unable to understand law and order (or social system and conscience).

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Peter Holmes » June 9th, 2019, 10:12 am

I think you're referring to my notes to 'An argument against moral objectivism'.

I disagree. Cosmological beliefs have no bearing on whether the earth orbits the sun - because what is the case is a feature of reality. That's the whole point of facts: they're independent of opinion. But the moral rightness or wrongness of, say, capital punishment is not a feature of reality of that kind - something that just is whatever anyone believes. You seem to advocate a kind of moral relativism, which in my opinion is mistaken.

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Kaz_1983 » July 4th, 2019, 2:01 am

Is the sun rising everyday subjective?

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Peter Holmes » July 4th, 2019, 3:16 am

Kaz_1983 wrote:
July 4th, 2019, 2:01 am
Is the sun rising everyday subjective?
Please can you explain the point of your question - what you're getting at?

The earth's rotation is a feature of reality, so it's neither objective nor subjective. Those words don't normally describe features of reality.

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Belindi » July 4th, 2019, 4:38 am

Kaz_1983 wrote:
July 4th, 2019, 2:01 am
Is the sun rising everyday subjective?
it's subjective . "The sun rising every day" is an example of a form of causation called 'nomic connection'. In the case of the sun rising every day the phenomenon is caused by the movement of Earth round the Sun. The movement of Earth round the Sun is part of larger relativity "General Relativity" which includes natural forces. If there were no humans General Relativity would not exist. Perhaps if there had been no Einstein General Relativity would not have existed.

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Peter Holmes » July 4th, 2019, 5:31 am

Belindi wrote:
July 4th, 2019, 4:38 am
Kaz_1983 wrote:
July 4th, 2019, 2:01 am
Is the sun rising everyday subjective?
it's subjective . "The sun rising every day" is an example of a form of causation called 'nomic connection'. In the case of the sun rising every day the phenomenon is caused by the movement of Earth round the Sun. The movement of Earth round the Sun is part of larger relativity "General Relativity" which includes natural forces. If there were no humans General Relativity would not exist. Perhaps if there had been no Einstein General Relativity would not have existed.
1 'Subjective' means 'based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions'. What has nomic connection - a theory about a causal relationship between the mind (or consciousnes) and the brain - got to do with subjectivity?

2 What has the earth's rotation got to do with personal feelings, tastes or opinions, or the mind-brain relationship?

3 What on earth are you talking about?

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Re: Is morality objective or subjective?

Post by Peter Holmes » July 4th, 2019, 6:13 am

We feel the need to explain the connection between the brain and what we call consciousness or the mind only because we think that what we call consciousness or the mind are separate things of some kind that we can describe.

If instead we recognise that this is a category error - that what we call consciousness or the mind are not such things - the mind-brain problem dissolves - and causal theories such as 'nomic connection' become superfluous.

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