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Objective Morality

#1GreystrikePosted 5/16/2013 4:44:30 AM
Pardon me, I have not visited this board in a long time and I was wondering if the topic of "Objective Moral Truths and Values" has been brought up. My guess it already has and perhaps, it has been brought up a lot of times. So if this post appears wasteful, my apologies.

What consensus has this board reached? What literature / media / authors / speakers do you find authoritative on the subject?

Basically, is there such thing as an ultimate and objective morality? Or is it all subjective? Can we all agree that things such as the Holocaust are objectively morally wrong? Or is everything indeed subjective and it can be seen as morally "good" under a certain light?
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#2Hustle KongPosted 5/16/2013 5:09:46 AM
I'm not convinced that the argument of "objective" versus "subjective" morality makes any sense.
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#3Moorish_IdolPosted 5/16/2013 5:54:35 AM
It's been brought up dozens of times. But why notů

I always figured if things like the Holocaust were objectively wrong, they wouldn't happen. Even if just one person thinks something is right or good, that favors subjectivity.
#4C_MatPosted 5/16/2013 6:12:18 AM
I've made three topics about this in the past year that each had a few hundred posts. None of the atheists here will state that the holocaust is objectively wrong because they would have to admit they have no basis to make that claim. Or the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting. Or being a serial killer. We also established that, on atheism, concepts like human value and moral values are literally imaginary (as in, they don't exist beyond human imagination).

Moorish_Idol posted...
I always figured if things like the Holocaust were objectively wrong, they wouldn't happen. Even if just one person thinks something is right or good, that favors subjectivity.


I don't understand this line of thinking. Someone can disagree with an objective truth and that doesn't mean the truth is no longer objective; it just means they're objectively wrong.
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#5SirThinkALotPosted 5/16/2013 6:33:43 AM(edited)
Moorish_Idol posted...
It's been brought up dozens of times. But why notů

I always figured if things like the Holocaust were objectively wrong, they wouldn't happen. Even if just one person thinks something is right or good, that favors subjectivity.


I never understood how people disagreeing on morals suddenly makes them subjective. People disagree on just about everything. Hell there are people who disagree with the idea of the earth being round. Does that make the shape of the earth subjective?

I think it might be helpful to define the terms 'objective' vs 'subjective' morality. When I say that morality is objective, I mean that there are moral statements(at least one anyway) that are true regardless of what any individual thinks of them. It does NOT mean that everybody will agree on what is or is not moral(because if they did, there would be no need to discuss morality), rather it means that those who disagree with true moral statements are wrong. Period. Just like those who think the earth is flat are wrong. Period.
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#6Moorish_IdolPosted 5/16/2013 7:38:36 AM(edited)
I figured someone would compare my post to empirical objectivity. They are different processes. Determining the Earth is round is not even comparable to determining if something is good or bad.

I'd argue it's impossible to demonstrate whether moral truth exists. And given the fact that people disagree on supposed moral truths so often, I'm inclined to think no moral truth exists at all. There are moral problems which have overwhelming support in a particular perspective, but that doesn't make it a truth. How does anyone go about testing such a thing? And who determines what is a moral truth?

The majority has the power to enforce their moral position, for better or for worse. If something is supported by a great enough number, I can understand the illusion of those in opposition being in the wrong. But that's all it amounts to.
#7Moorish_IdolPosted 5/16/2013 7:42:41 AM(edited)
In an addition to my previous post, I want to say that I do personally hold a moral position which I believe to be right and good: that nobody should do harm to another, whether it be physical or mental or spiritual. But I wouldn't go so far as to say my worldview contains the objective moral truth.

For starters, I'm able to see things from other perspectives, and I recognize that other people may have looser definitions of things like "harm" than I do. From my perspective, there are things like the Holocaust, for instance, that had no justification; but others obviously did and/or do.

I think the key word used above is "my". I hold a certain morality to be good. My worldview / morality causes me to act and judge a certain way. But who's to say "my" worldview is objectively true? Certainly not me. Take into account everyone's worldviews, and that's a whole lot of perspectives conflicting or agreeing with each other on every moral issue. I can't bring myself to call that anything but subjectivity.
#8C_MatPosted 5/16/2013 10:51:35 AM
It all comes down to whether God is real. If He is, than the God who made objective laws of physics also made objective moral laws, and one is just as "real" as the other regardless of one's ability to supply empirical proof.

If God is not real, then I would agree that an atheist can't know objective moral values.

I can see both sides of an argument. That doesn't mean they're both credible. But the objective morality question ultimately comes down to God's existence, every time.
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#9JonWood007Posted 5/16/2013 11:06:00 AM(edited)
We don't agree. Religious people often cite their moral codes as objective, since they believe they come from God. Answer is a bit trickier for atheists like myself, but I'll go into it a little bit.

First of all, the objective of morality is to leave the chaotic state of nature and form a society that enhances human well being. That being said, I think that it is functional (and therefore objective to a degree, as all societies need to do this in some way, shape, or form) that societies first and foremost protect against harm, including injury and death. So I basically combine utilitarianism and the social contract to a degree. Moreover, I think some things can be considered objectively good or bad if they are blatantly harmful, and since we live in an objective reality, these things can be deemed objectively bad. The hosts of the the atheist experience mention this all the time. For example, drinking battery acid kills you, period. Therefore, drinking battery acid is bad.

From these basics, morality does become a lot more subjective. Different cultures value different things, measure morality differently, and we have a bunch of different political and moral systems that all "work" to a degree. Some work better than others, and if we agree on how to measure such things, we can come to conclusions about this. Still, I think there are many theories that can work, it's more of a matter of which one is preferable. Some societies value freedom, for example, sometimes to their peril, while others favor more government intervention, sometimes to their peril. There is no one right way of doing things, and I think it's pretty interesting to see what is valued and how to build up a system, I have my own opinions, but ultimately, they're just opinions. For anyone interested, I'm a left leaning independent/democrat by US standards, to give you an approximation of my views. Still, I will admit this is not the only way of doing things. I think it's the best, personally, but this in itself is built up on assumptions that I'm not sure everyone will agree with.

In short, morality is both objective and subjective. I think some things can be deemed objectively wrong, as they go against the functional point of having rules to begin with, which is to better human well being, but I think there are different ways to attain better human well being, and no one way is the right way.

What I will say is important is how a moral decision is justified. That being said, I HATE divine command theory. Basically, this is (de)legitimizing something at times for no good reason other than "God said so". Sorry, I need reasons to want to make rules based on something. Honestly, there's no justification in such a theory, it's just following the whims of a divine being, no matter what it is. It's MUCH better to arrive at conclusions through critical thinking.
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#10Moorish_IdolPosted 5/16/2013 11:31:01 AM(edited)
@CMat

I'm smack in the middle of your two groups, lol. Granted I'm not a Christian, so maybe that was what you meant for the first group, but I'm not an atheist.

I do agree though that most arguments for objective morality are based on God, so far as I've heard.