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

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

Post by GE Morton » November 9th, 2018, 2:11 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
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?
It tells the rapist the same thing it tells everyone else, i.e., that if rape were universally permitted society could not continue. That the rapist disregards that message is not a failing of the theory. No moral theory or principle will dissuade an amoral person. The solution to that problem is not searching for a principle that will convince them, but removing them from the society.
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.
Your rapist will be no more deterred by God than by Kant.

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

Post by Hereandnow » November 9th, 2018, 6:06 pm

GE Morton
It tells the rapist the same thing it tells everyone else, i.e., that if rape were universally permitted society could not continue. That the rapist disregards that message is not a failing of the theory. No moral theory or principle will dissuade an amoral person. The solution to that problem is not searching for a principle that will convince them, but removing them from the society......Your rapist will be no more deterred by God than by Kant.
Ah, but that is the beauty of a true and verifiable absolute: it wears its compelling nature on its sleeve and once acknowledged, is binding intuitively, as 2+2=4 is binding on cognition. This is the function of conscience: unlike logic, subjective and notoriously unreliable at first blush, granted, but this is simply because it is not recognized as an absolute. Analytic propositions are irresistible, we see this in the simplicity with which they are presented, simple arithmetic, for example. But such simplicity is also evident in ethics, the material "stuff" of which is value: pain, suffering, joy, pleasure, and so on: Apply a Bunsen burner to my forearm for a few seconds and there absolute "badness" of the pain is just as evident as simple logic.

Of course, people do resist the call to moral behavior, but the point is in the apprehension of the situation: if one takes this AS a mere contingency of utility or prescription of reason, then the license to murder, rape and so forth is not in any way checked apart from the applicable social advantages; but if it is understood as an absolute moral law, then the gravity of what is done is beyond measure, beyond understanding. Recognized as such, the murderer, the rapist faces consequences unseen. Not a powerful deterrent merely, an absolute one. One can, admittedly, reject the imperative, but the failure of the wisdom in this is impossible to circumvent.
..

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

Post by Eduk » November 9th, 2018, 8:08 pm

I feel it is immoral to believe with insufficient evidence. That has always been my 'God' given moral belief.
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GE Morton
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Re: If there is no God, murder isn't wrong?

Post by GE Morton » November 9th, 2018, 9:01 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
November 9th, 2018, 6:06 pm

Analytic propositions are irresistible, we see this in the simplicity with which they are presented, simple arithmetic, for example. But such simplicity is also evident in ethics, the material "stuff" of which is value: pain, suffering, joy, pleasure, and so on: Apply a Bunsen burner to my forearm for a few seconds and there absolute "badness" of the pain is just as evident as simple logic.
Oh, no. Suffering, joy, etc., are not the "stuff" of ethics. Only the badness of my own pain and suffering is immediately evident to me. That of others is not. I need no ethical rule to dissuade me from pulling out my own fingernails. I do to dissuade me from pulling out someone else's. The "badness" of the latter is not self-evident.
. . . but if it is understood as an absolute moral law, then the gravity of what is done is beyond measure, beyond understanding. Recognized as such, the murderer, the rapist faces consequences unseen. Not a powerful deterrent merely, an absolute one. One can, admittedly, reject the imperative, but the failure of the wisdom in this is impossible to circumvent.
But it will not be so understood, because its ontological assumption is dubious.

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

Post by ktz » November 10th, 2018, 5:43 am

I just want to pop in here to remind everyone of another moral absolute implied by a strict interpretation of Judeo-Christian texts, which is the death penalty for:

- Killing (OK)
- Enslaving someone (OK)
- Hitting your mom or dad (Hmm..)
- Cursing your mom and dad (...)
- Beastiality (Well...)
- Adultery, both cheater and third wheel (...)
- Being a spiritual medium or necromancer (...)
- Anyone blaspheming the Lord (...)
- Not giving glory to god when praised for being Godlike (...)
- Anyone who works on the Sabbath (wat)

So yes, Christianity implies that murder is wrong, but don't forget that if you ever did work on a Saturday or back-talked your parents, it stops being murder and you're fair game.

I mean, tossing aside the fact that this guy is probably being deliberately provocative for Youtube views, isn't it a bit of a stretch to say that faith in a Judeo-Christian God necessarily provides a moral high ground? I think you could make the case of modern interpretations of Judeo-Christian morality to be analogous to moral relativism. Not to mention Prager's position on the death penalty definitely contradicts a New Testament approach to handling sin.

I guess that's not what we're talking about here, though. I basically am on board with the other posters citing Harris's simple ideas and Kant's ontological imperative. But I don't need a philosopher to understand that murdering people has consequences. A lot of these consequences are mostly bad for us and for society. Ethics says we shouldn't do things that result in bad consequences for us and for society. I love Jesus and think devotion to him and his principles has a lot of great things to offer, including not murdering people. But it's a bit much to profess that belief in Judeo-Christian values is a prerequisite for not murdering people.

I say this stuff in a flippant tone, but I'd encourage people to check out some of the recent stories from Humans of New York with the Rwandan genocide. Christian values were one accessible way to get people to stop the heartless behavior going on at that time. But Christianity is not always a ticket to moral validation. Especially in America where Christianity is being cited while proposing some very un-Christ-like philosophies. I'd have a better taste in my mouth if more Christians in public discourse were quoting John and Romans than referencing Leviticus and Deuteronomy, but that's not the world we live in right now.

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

Post by Hereandnow » November 10th, 2018, 12:32 pm

GE Morton:
Oh, no. Suffering, joy, etc., are not the "stuff" of ethics. Only the badness of my own pain and suffering is immediately evident to me. That of others is not. I need no ethical rule to dissuade me from pulling out my own fingernails. I do to dissuade me from pulling out someone else's. The "badness" of the latter is not self-evident.
Dig a little deeper: What is it that is immediately evident to you? Your pain, joy and so on. (Now, it may be a stretch to say you have an ethcial obligation to yourself not to self inflict because ethics assumes we each desire our own best interests and there are valuative conflicts that arise only when others appear. Any internal conflict we call a neurosis, and while it is interesting to consider if there is in this kind of thing a moral dimension, such an examination really moves to a conflict of words and their application.) this self evidence you speak of is actually the basis for ethical considerations across the board, for I know it hurts, so therefore I am ethically bound. Knowing it hurts may not solve the matter usually because value is complex and embedded in circumstances, but in simple cases, like simple math, it is intuitively evident that if I drive this spear into you kidney it will hurt like the devil so I have a defeasable obligation not to do it. (Again, it is arguable, and interesting, to think one might have a defeasable obligation not to harm oneself).

But this which is self evident, this pain I know directly, non discursively is what ethical "knowledge' is all about. An odd thing to say that they are separate matters altogether, my pain and another's, for it is my pain that informs about the other's. The other's is weighed against, in complex cases, many other conpeting value considerations, but the "stuff" of all of it is value, mine, yours and everyone's. Imagine of there were a world without value: we would either be machines or simple drop to the ground for lack of motivation.
But it will not be so understood, because its ontological assumption is dubious.
Just the opposite: Value is, I could argue, the only ontology there is. It would be a long haul argument and lots of name dropping, though.

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

Post by Hereandnow » November 10th, 2018, 4:03 pm

" But Christianity is not always a ticket to moral validation."

It is more often just the opposite. Cases are too many to count.

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

Post by Hereandnow » November 10th, 2018, 4:05 pm

Eduk:
I feel it is immoral to believe with insufficient evidence.
That is a loaded statement. Is it a reference to the lack of evidence of god's existence?

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

Post by Fooloso4 » November 10th, 2018, 5:46 pm

GE Morton:
Oh, no. Suffering, joy, etc., are not the "stuff" of ethics. Only the badness of my own pain and suffering is immediately evident to me. That of others is not. I need no ethical rule to dissuade me from pulling out my own fingernails. I do to dissuade me from pulling out someone else's. The "badness" of the latter is not self-evident.
It is only those who lack empathy for whom it is not immediately evident that inflicting pain and suffering on others is bad. If it is only because of a rule that they are able to identify its “badness”, then what they come to identify as bad is not the pain and suffering of others but the breaking of a rule. If it is merely a matter of following the rules then they would remain indifferent to the pain and suffering of others, except perhaps if there is another rule stating how one should behave in response to the pain behavior of another; but even though they may respond in a rule appropriate manner, they would be unmoved by the pain and suffering itself.

If they are indifferent to others then why would they not be indifferent to the rules, following them only when they might get caught breaking them?

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

Post by GE Morton » November 10th, 2018, 6:55 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
November 10th, 2018, 5:46 pm

It is only those who lack empathy for whom it is not immediately evident that inflicting pain and suffering on others is bad.
It is not immediately evident, even to those who empathize. Empathy is an induced response based on a perceived similarity of another to oneself, an ability to "put oneself in their shoes." That requires a few analytical steps, though they may be subconscious. The "badness" is not directly perceived, in the sense H&N meant.

And, as discussed in a previous thread, though most people are capable of empathy, they differ as to whom it extends and its strength when in conflict with other goals.
If it is only because of a rule that they are able to identify its “badness”, then what they come to identify as bad is not the pain and suffering of others but the breaking of a rule.
Yes. But they will conclude that breaking that rule is bad because they can grasp the consequences if it were disregarded universally. I.e., "I must do unto others as I would have them do unto me. Because if I don't, then neither will they, and that would be bad for me."

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

Post by GE Morton » November 10th, 2018, 7:15 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
November 10th, 2018, 12:32 pm

Dig a little deeper: What is it that is immediately evident to you? Your pain, joy and so on. (Now, it may be a stretch to say you have an ethcial obligation to yourself not to self inflict because ethics assumes we each desire our own best interests and there are valuative conflicts that arise only when others appear. Any internal conflict we call a neurosis, and while it is interesting to consider if there is in this kind of thing a moral dimension, such an examination really moves to a conflict of words and their application.) this self evidence you speak of is actually the basis for ethical considerations across the board, for I know it hurts, so therefore I am ethically bound.
What I know immediately is that it hurts me.. I don't know immediately that it hurts you; that is a deduction I make based on the similarities between us. And there is no deriving "ought" from "is." The fact that my act hurts you doesn't imply that I ought not do it (that I am ethically bound not to do it).
. . .in simple cases, like simple math, it is intuitively evident that if I drive this spear into you kidney it will hurt like the devil so I have a defeasable obligation not to do it.
No. You're again trying to derive "ought" from "is."
An odd thing to say that they are separate matters altogether, my pain and another's, for it is my pain that informs about the other's.
It may inform me about it, but that knowledge does not entail an ethical prohibition against it.
. . . but the "stuff" of all of it is value, mine, yours and everyone's. Imagine of there were a world without value: we would either be machines or simple drop to the ground for lack of motivation.
You're right there. But you have to keep in mind that values are idiosyncratic, varying enormously from person to person.
But it will not be so understood, because its ontological assumption is dubious.
The ontological assumption i meant was the existence of "God."

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

Post by Fooloso4 » November 11th, 2018, 12:35 am

GE Morton:
Empathy is an induced response based on a perceived similarity of another to oneself, an ability to "put oneself in their shoes." That requires a few analytical steps, though they may be subconscious.
This is simply wrong. It is a neurological response. The literature in the neuroscience of empathy is extensive. For a philosophical discussion see, for example, Patricia Churchland’s “Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality”. Empathy is observed in newborns who cry in response to other babies crying. It is observed in babies who are a bit older who will smile in response to a smiling face and cry in response to a sad face. It is observed in young children who are upset by others who are hurt and try to comfort them. The same kind of response is observed in other animals as well.
Yes. But they will conclude that breaking that rule is bad because they can grasp the consequences if it were disregarded universally. I.e., "I must do unto others as I would have them do unto me. Because if I don't, then neither will they, and that would be bad for me."
We all know that not everyone plays by the rules and that my playing by the rules is not going to change that. If I am at a disadvantage by playing by the rules when others don’t then I may decide not play by them either, because if I do that would be bad for me.

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

Post by Hereandnow » November 11th, 2018, 3:24 am

GE Morton
What I know immediately is that it hurts me.. I don't know immediately that it hurts you; that is a deduction I make based on the similarities between us. And there is no deriving "ought" from "is." The fact that my act hurts you doesn't imply that I ought not do it (that I am ethically bound not to do it).
As to the lack of immediacy of my knowing that another suffers, I don't see the point: Yes, I do infer that there is suffering and I know what it is because I too have suffered and I know the tell tale signs: the grimace, the groaning and the rest. My knowing in this case is not at issue. It is reasonable, merely.

But the ought from an is, now this is to the point. I am a moral realist, or an ethical objectivist. There are other names for this, I am sure. I explain above what I mean by this, in a fast and loose sort of way, but pretty accurate I think: Pain is what I will call a quasi fact, or a "queer" fact (a borrowed term from John Mackie). Now, Wittgenstein stated that in a book of all possible facts, some hypothetical all encompassing compendium, the fact of pain would be included, but the badness of pain, the moral dimension of pain, would not, for such a thing cannot be witnessed (this is how I take it). I disagree. I think there are moral facts; further, I think such things are absolutes and they are the foundation of the presence of morality in our existence. To me the matter is simple, if unpopular: pain (value) possesses a non natural quality which is moral "badness". The awkwardness of the term shows how unfamiliar it is, given that such a thing is generally just freighted along with god and religion, and these stigmatize the genuine absoluteness of what is plain and simple. All one need do is observe the pain of the spear in one's kidney and understand that there is something there, something sui generis in the pain. The objection of is vs ought is a red herring that obscures the obvious.
Given that the pain hurts and that hurting is grounded absolutely then one is eo ipso bound to not hurting others.

I recommend dismissing the notion of god, the myth. Such a thing just muddies the water. I know, the OP says god, but I can take this term as I please, and I please to reduce god to its material essence: experience.

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

Post by Eduk » November 11th, 2018, 5:11 am

Han, I was simply trying to point out that using the same yard stick of compelling belief as you, it is trivial to come to any conclusion.
Therefore I am compelled to find it uncompelling.
Unknown means unknown.

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

Post by GE Morton » November 11th, 2018, 3:46 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
November 11th, 2018, 12:35 am
Empathy is an induced response based on a perceived similarity of another to oneself, an ability to "put oneself in their shoes." That requires a few analytical steps, though they may be subconscious.
This is simply wrong. It is a neurological response. The literature in the neuroscience of empathy is extensive. For a philosophical discussion see, for example, Patricia Churchland’s “Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality”. Empathy is observed in newborns who cry in response to other babies crying. It is observed in babies who are a bit older who will smile in response to a smiling face and cry in response to a sad face. It is observed in young children who are upset by others who are hurt and try to comfort them. The same kind of response is observed in other animals as well.
None of that contradicts what I said in the quote above (read the quote again, carefully).

Nor do the studies contradict what I said earlier re: empathy, e.g., that it varies in strength and extent (for whom does one feel empathy) from individual to individual. Even in the infant studies to which you refer not all the infants exhibit it. It also varies with sex, age, and cultural milieu.

I'm familiar with Churchland's view. (Here is a lecture on the subject by her, for those not familiar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Bv4k8CJnuc).

Churchland seems not to grasp the difference between morality (as understood by philosophers) and sociology/evolutionary psychology. Her account plausibly explains the origins and neurological basis of bonding in social mammals. But it has absolutely no bearing on whether any particular behavior or practice or rule is morally right or wrong. There is no deriving "ought" from "is;" that a behavior is instinctive does not make it moral (and certainly not when the instinct in question is as variable and volatile as empathy).
We all know that not everyone plays by the rules and that my playing by the rules is not going to change that. If I am at a disadvantage by playing by the rules when others don’t then I may decide not play by them either, because if I do that would be bad for me.
I agree.

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