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Morality Isn’t Real

 
Chaz
 
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Chaz
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28 February 2018 10:30
 
LadyJane - 28 February 2018 07:56 AM

The difference in opinions regarding morality are rarely about the offensiveness of particular human behaviours, although they do (understandably) enter most of these conversations, they more often contain the component of the equation that exposes the point of contention.

There is a common argument put forth that first accepts the Laws of Nature.  Then, it further asserts that humans live within those Laws of Nature.  Humans invented morality.  Therefore, morality is ipso facto a byproduct of the Laws of Nature.

Those of us who consider morality a man made construct see a giant crater of a hole in that argument.  A conflation of the Rule of Law and the Laws of Nature.  And I’ve yet to hear an explanation that bridges that gap.


You don’t know what you’re talking about either? Particular human behavior is the only thing that morality is about, and the leap you made about morality being a byproduct of the laws of nature is why you won’t hear an explanation about that gap, because It’s irrational.

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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28 February 2018 10:48
 
Chaz - 28 February 2018 10:26 AM
LadyJane - 28 February 2018 07:56 AM

The difference in opinions regarding morality are rarely about the offensiveness of particular human behaviours, although they do (understandably) enter most of these conversations, they more often contain the component of the equation that exposes the point of contention.

There is a common argument put forth that first accepts the Laws of Nature.  Then, it further asserts that humans live within those Laws of Nature.  Humans invented morality.  Therefore, morality is ipso facto a byproduct of the Laws of Nature.

Those of us who consider morality a man made construct see a giant crater of a hole in that argument.  A conflation of the Rule of Law and the Laws of Nature.  And I’ve yet to hear an explanation that bridges that gap.


You don’t know what you’re talking about either? Particular human behavior is the only thing that morality is about, and the leap you made about morality being a byproduct of the laws of nature is why you won’t hear an explanation about that gap, because It’s irrational.

Your double posting gives your haste away.  Less type-ee.  More read-ee.

 
 
Cheshire Cat
 
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Cheshire Cat
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28 February 2018 11:31
 

For what it’s worth, I think all the comments I’ve read so far about this OP are wrong.

I think that morality is a part of our biology and is common in most social mammals. I think the evidence is mounting for this to be the case.

https://tinyurl.com/ybm34lj7

“Professor Frans de Waal, a primate behaviourist at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, said: ‘I don’t believe animals are moral in the sense we humans are – with well developed and reasoned sense of right and wrong – rather that human morality incorporates a set of psychological tendencies and capacities such as empathy, reciprocity, a desire for co-operation and harmony that are older than our species.

‘Human morality was not formed from scratch, but grew out of our primate psychology. Primate psychology has ancient roots, and I agree that other animals show many of the same tendencies and have an intense sociality.’”

And, I would say that the “Golden Rule” for our species boils down to this:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
— JC

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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28 February 2018 12:04
 
Cheshire Cat - 28 February 2018 11:31 AM

For what it’s worth, I think all the comments I’ve read so far about this OP are wrong.

I think that morality is a part of our biology and is common in most social mammals. I think the evidence is mounting for this to be the case.

https://tinyurl.com/ybm34lj7

“Professor Frans de Waal, a primate behaviourist at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, said: ‘I don’t believe animals are moral in the sense we humans are – with well developed and reasoned sense of right and wrong – rather that human morality incorporates a set of psychological tendencies and capacities such as empathy, reciprocity, a desire for co-operation and harmony that are older than our species.

‘Human morality was not formed from scratch, but grew out of our primate psychology. Primate psychology has ancient roots, and I agree that other animals show many of the same tendencies and have an intense sociality.’”

And, I would say that the “Golden Rule” for our species boils down to this:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
— JC

I agree with this but there are different metrics under dispute. Whether morality is real or not is a distinct question from whether specific moral prescriptions are correct in a final sense.

We have a wide array of moral systems and their respective recommendations on offer. Some admit of flexibility while others are rigidly dogmatic. Frequently there are mutually exclusive moral rules. This is, I would argue suggestive of anti realism. Especially when different moral codes simultaneously show real durable utility under their respective conditions.

Would you argue that evolved morality gives us absolute rules or moral facts?

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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Cheshire Cat
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28 February 2018 13:27
 
Brick Bungalow - 28 February 2018 12:04 PM

I agree with this but there are different metrics under dispute. Whether morality is real or not is a distinct question from whether specific moral prescriptions are correct in a final sense.

We have a wide array of moral systems and their respective recommendations on offer. Some admit of flexibility while others are rigidly dogmatic. Frequently there are mutually exclusive moral rules. This is, I would argue suggestive of anti realism. Especially when different moral codes simultaneously show real durable utility under their respective conditions.

Would you argue that evolved morality gives us absolute rules or moral facts?

I would say that since morality, or the basis for it, is biologically based, it is therefore very real. It is part of our evolutionary heritage and helped us get along together when we lived in small, wandering bands of hunter-gatherers. It has helped us survive.

I think morality was pretty straight forward back then; if you stepped out of line — injured, murdered, stole, had inappropriate sex — the tribe could banish you which was probably a death sentence.

When we became “civilized,” our numbers grew and things began to diverge in a big way. The big trick that our species possesses — the ability to think abstractly — is a double-edged sword. Abstraction can lead us to reason and the truth, or it can lead us to madness and delusion. So much of human morality has been sidetracked away from “the Golden Rule” and twisted to fit the needs of societies that lusted for power and wealth, which usually also went hand-in-hand with religion. The mutations have gotten to the point, where, as you said, “different moral codes simultaneously show real durable utility under their respective conditions,” which becomes moral relativism in the long run.

I think that for most of us, morality is an intuitive thing, since it is part of our biology. Culture, religion, societal strains and collapse, all twist this basic understanding in perverse ways.

 

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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28 February 2018 14:27
 
Chaz - 28 February 2018 10:10 AM
GAD - 28 February 2018 07:42 AM
Chaz - 28 February 2018 01:40 AM

I only agree with there’s no objective or cosmic right or wrong, but everything else I don’t agree

You disagree that people define what is right and wrong?


correct. It’s like and dislike even if they say it’s right and wrong

Semantics.

 
 
Chaz
 
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Chaz
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28 February 2018 15:35
 

Lady Jane it wasn’t an intentional double, my phone lagged and I assumed I didn’t hit post so I hit again resulting in the double

 
Chaz
 
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Chaz
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28 February 2018 15:47
 
Cheshire Cat - 28 February 2018 11:31 AM

For what it’s worth, I think all the comments I’ve read so far about this OP are wrong.

I think that morality is a part of our biology and is common in most social mammals. I think the evidence is mounting for this to be the case.

https://tinyurl.com/ybm34lj7

“Professor Frans de Waal, a primate behaviourist at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, said: ‘I don’t believe animals are moral in the sense we humans are – with well developed and reasoned sense of right and wrong – rather that human morality incorporates a set of psychological tendencies and capacities such as empathy, reciprocity, a desire for co-operation and harmony that are older than our species.

‘Human morality was not formed from scratch, but grew out of our primate psychology. Primate psychology has ancient roots, and I agree that other animals show many of the same tendencies and have an intense sociality.’”

And, I would say that the “Golden Rule” for our species boils down to this:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
— JC

I think you missed the part at the beginning where I said its compassion broadened. Animals have compassion not only for their offspring but also for the ones they group with. Also that quote from Jesus isn’t rational. If you treated people the way you want to be treated, you’ll end up as a rug with people walking all over you, and when someone treats you in way that you don’t like wouldn’t that be them showing you how to treat them?

 
Chaz
 
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Chaz
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28 February 2018 15:53
 
Brick Bungalow - 28 February 2018 12:04 PM
Cheshire Cat - 28 February 2018 11:31 AM

For what it’s worth, I think all the comments I’ve read so far about this OP are wrong.

I think that morality is a part of our biology and is common in most social mammals. I think the evidence is mounting for this to be the case.

https://tinyurl.com/ybm34lj7

“Professor Frans de Waal, a primate behaviourist at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, said: ‘I don’t believe animals are moral in the sense we humans are – with well developed and reasoned sense of right and wrong – rather that human morality incorporates a set of psychological tendencies and capacities such as empathy, reciprocity, a desire for co-operation and harmony that are older than our species.

‘Human morality was not formed from scratch, but grew out of our primate psychology. Primate psychology has ancient roots, and I agree that other animals show many of the same tendencies and have an intense sociality.’”

And, I would say that the “Golden Rule” for our species boils down to this:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
— JC

I agree with this but there are different metrics under dispute. Whether morality is real or not is a distinct question from whether specific moral prescriptions are correct in a final sense.

We have a wide array of moral systems and their respective recommendations on offer. Some admit of flexibility while others are rigidly dogmatic. Frequently there are mutually exclusive moral rules. This is, I would argue suggestive of anti realism. Especially when different moral codes simultaneously show real durable utility under their respective conditions.

Would you argue that evolved morality gives us absolute rules or moral facts?

I wouldn’t agree. Do you have an example of what you mean by moral code? I need to point to the idea of anti realism, and that morality falls in the category

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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28 February 2018 17:15
 
Cheshire Cat - 28 February 2018 01:27 PM

I think that for most of us, morality is an intuitive thing, since it is part of our biology. Culture, religion, societal strains and collapse, all twist this basic understanding in perverse ways.

Certainly everyone’s personal concept of morality is intuitive to themselves and most people find their local customs intuitive. That’s sort of the problem. We have an unprecedented level of communication and transportation today which puts people from divergent points in contact and business with one another. I’m still unsure if you have a stance on specific prescriptions… I follow your point about the origins of morality and agree enough not to make an issue of it.

Things like the golden rule and other common axioms are great but they are also, in a sense trivial. They are (mostly) uncontroversial. They are broad and general in scope. Because of this they really don’t delve into the challenges presented by measuring ones moral compass against the real world. They solve issues of mental illness or criminality.

Can I ask again, do you subscribe to moral realism or the idea that moral claims can be true in the same sense that factual claims can be true?

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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28 February 2018 17:24
 
Chaz - 28 February 2018 03:53 PM

I wouldn’t agree. Do you have an example of what you mean by moral code? I need to point to the idea of anti realism, and that morality falls in the category

A moral code is exactly what it sounds like. Some set of codified moral prescriptions. It could be a law book or a text on ethics or a set of bylaws or the standards and practices of a company. Anything of that nature.

I do have to say, for the sake of disclosure that I find your initial premise poorly formed and self defeating. It’s hard for me to retort in a meaningful way because of undefined terms and contradictions.

If morality isn’t real by the justifications you have provided than neither are shapes or colors or quantities in arithmetic or any other concept that we use to map the world. I suppose it could be true but taken to its logical conclusion doesn’t really leave us anything to talk about.

I regret if I sound condescending but I am compelled to suggest you reevaluate the wording of your claim. What do you mean by real? If our our standards for evaluating validity aren’t real how can we possibly communicate about anything?

 

 
Chaz
 
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Chaz
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28 February 2018 17:39
 
Brick Bungalow - 28 February 2018 05:15 PM
Cheshire Cat - 28 February 2018 01:27 PM

I think that for most of us, morality is an intuitive thing, since it is part of our biology. Culture, religion, societal strains and collapse, all twist this basic understanding in perverse ways.

Certainly everyone’s personal concept of morality is intuitive to themselves and most people find their local customs intuitive. That’s sort of the problem. We have an unprecedented level of communication and transportation today which puts people from divergent points in contact and business with one another. I’m still unsure if you have a stance on specific prescriptions… I follow your point about the origins of morality and agree enough not to make an issue of it.

Things like the golden rule and other common axioms are great but they are also, in a sense trivial. They are (mostly) uncontroversial. They are broad and general in scope. Because of this they really don’t delve into the challenges presented by measuring ones moral compass against the real world. They solve issues of mental illness or criminality.

Can I ask again, do you subscribe to moral realism or the idea that moral claims can be true in the same sense that factual claims can be true?

You do realize that while you’re commenting back and forth you’re stating my claim that morality isn’t real while simultaneously saying I’m wrong. I don’t get it..

your question addressing moral claims seems self evident. The answer would be no. Moral claims are subject to opinions.

Answer me this: there’s a school for suicide bombing. You have the chance to blow up the building killing all the children, and if you don’t each child will run into anywhere they can to take as many people with them as possible. Does your morality insist on killing the children, or letting them go to kill countless more and die anyway in the process? I’d like to know your answer but I’m just making the point that morality isn’t real because it’s opinionated emotion instead of factual truth.

 
Chaz
 
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Chaz
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28 February 2018 17:50
 
Brick Bungalow - 28 February 2018 05:24 PM
Chaz - 28 February 2018 03:53 PM

I wouldn’t agree. Do you have an example of what you mean by moral code? I need to point to the idea of anti realism, and that morality falls in the category

A moral code is exactly what it sounds like. Some set of codified moral prescriptions. It could be a law book or a text on ethics or a set of bylaws or the standards and practices of a company. Anything of that nature.

I do have to say, for the sake of disclosure that I find your initial premise poorly formed and self defeating. It’s hard for me to retort in a meaningful way because of undefined terms and contradictions.

If morality isn’t real by the justifications you have provided than neither are shapes or colors or quantities in arithmetic or any other concept that we use to map the world. I suppose it could be true but taken to its logical conclusion doesn’t really leave us anything to talk about.

I regret if I sound condescending but I am compelled to suggest you reevaluate the wording of your claim. What do you mean by real? If our our standards for evaluating validity aren’t real how can we possibly communicate about anything?

 

I answered the question about how I’m using the word real. Fact vs opinion. Facts are real because they can’t be argued against, opinions aren’t because they change from person to person. Validity has nothing to do with opinions because all opinions are valid in some sense. Measuring right and wrong isn’t possible because it’s a matter of perception, and there are no opinions about right and wrong that are universal. Murder is a good point to stand on. Military kill people because they feel it’s the right thing to do to protect their homes and family. Suicide bombers think the same thing they just expect to be rewarded after death. It’s an endless list

 
Chaz
 
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28 February 2018 17:57
 

There’s nothing wrong with my initial post on this topic. I stated my thought and left it open for discussion. It’s not self defeating just because you don’t understand properly.. I’ve read every comment on here and most of them refute what I said while proving my point

 
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28 February 2018 18:14
 
Chaz - 28 February 2018 01:55 AM

Values aren’t real either. That includes money value.

 

Sooooo (awkwardly sidles over, looks disinterestedly at nails and tries to bring up subject All Caz.) Can I like… have all your money then? Since you’ve already ceded it has not value. I mean I don’t want it just lying around your house taking up space, I could totally take it off your hands for you. I’m just a peach like that. Also, as it turns out, other people do suffer under the delusion that money has value, so I can feed my clipart addiction with it. Or you can just mail me a check, I’m flexible! Whatever works! (Starts having fantasies about getting the ‘yearly unlimited subscription’ on different clip art sites…)


Ahem. Sorry. Back on topic, I appreciate your enthusiasm. You have the kind of fresh-blooded excitement that says “I just read Nietzsche for the first time and I’m blowing the lid off this whole thing! Prepare to have your mind blown peoples!”. Quite frankly I admire anyone who can muster that much energy this time of year, as it’s allergy season where I am and the spring trees have already begun their yearly ritual of trying to slowly cut off my airways and ability to keep my eyes open. Frigging trees. Every year I look forward to winter being over and spring coming, and every year I forget that this happens. I only have enough energy to go “Morality. Um… it like… you know… starts with the letter /m/. I think. Maybe. Who knows. Whatever.”


Anyways, my take (which I formulated in less pollen-laden months,) is that the realm known as ‘intersubjectivity’ is a funky grey area between what we call ‘objective’ (which is not actually as ‘objective’ as we tend to think it is - see the Brain In A Vat thought experiment - but it is agreed upon with something like 90%+ inter-observer reliability); and what we call ‘subjective’ (i.e., the part of the world that no one but you has access to unless you believe in telepathy.)


Intersubjectivity is an interesting phenomenon in that its creation may be somewhat inevitable (i.e., not totally arbitrary or subjective - more on that below) and, once it exists, it carries real world, objective consequences with it. If you don’t believe me, just walk into your brawny neighbor’s house, try to walk off with his flat screen while calling him a douchebag, and see if he quietly concurs that the universe does not judge your actions to be right or wrong, ergo he will act as if they are not right or wrong. Now try bogarting the campsite you know he wanted at a campground. He is not likely to react with much more than grumbling, because our established norms about what is his and not his do not extend to said campground.


The same is true of systems like money and language. You are free to not value money all you want (and as an aside, while I have talked about it for awhile in philosophical sense, apparently the idea of ‘making up money’ really is an actual problem now - like this is actually a thing, a thing that actually happens. Sorry. I love Bitcoin spoofs.) but you are still really, objectively, going to live in a world where other people buy and sell things with it; and you will really, objectively, not be able to get much of anything in terms of material goods without it. With language, you can be the most hardcore descriptivist in the world, but if you just go around speaking your own language that you made up yourself, it is objectively true that no one will know what you’re saying. Objective facts created by subjective preferences.


To your OP:

Chaz - 27 February 2018 04:05 PM

Sorry, but what people call morality is nothing more than compassion extended to people from other families or societies. Morality is defined as principles about the difference between right and wrong or good and evil. None of those actually exist as a state of being, they are only states of perception. If something is evil then the good thing to do is get rid of it, but doing so is considered evil itself, so it’s self negating. Almost everything is equally as right as it is wrong. That’s a game I can play all day. Anybody care to pick a subject?


A few things to clear up here:


- Compassion is no more real, by your definition, than morality. So it’s like you’re saying “Unicorns are not real because they’re actually elves.” So not sure what you mean by this.


- I agree that morality is based on perception. I would delineate a bit more, though, and say that pretty much everything is based on perception (again - see ‘Brain In A Vat’). So I think one has to be more specific and talk about what type of perception we mean. To my mind, again, day-to-day morality (I do believe in more transcendent morality, but that’s a different topic,) falls into the realm of ‘intersubjective’.


- “Almost everything is equally as right as it is wrong” also makes no sense if you’re saying there’s no such thing as right and wrong anyhow. “Everything is as equally unicorn as it is elf.”


On those points, I’m not entirely clear on what your position is.


Last but not least - I said ‘more on that below’ regarding how intersubjectivity may not actually be totally arbitrary but have a sort of formulaic truth, so I’ll end with this quote from Sapiens:

Yet why should Chinese, Indians, Muslims and Spaniards – who belonged to very different cultures that failed to agree about much of anything – nevertheless share the belief in gold? Why didn’t it happen that Spaniards believed in gold, while Muslims believed in barley, Indians in cowry shells, and Chinese in rolls of silk? Economists have a ready answer. Once trade connects two areas, the forces of supply and demand tend to equalise the prices of transportable goods. In order to understand why, consider a hypothetical case. Assume that when regular trade opened between India and the Mediterranean, Indians were uninterested in gold, so it was almost worthless. But in the Mediterranean, gold was a coveted status symbol, hence its value was high. What would happen next?


Merchants travelling between India and the Mediterranean would notice the difference in the value of gold. In order to make a profit, they would buy gold cheaply in India and sell it dearly in the Mediterranean. Consequently, the demand for gold in India would skyrocket, as would its value. At the same time the Mediterranean would experience an influx of gold, whose value would consequently drop. Within a short time the value of gold in India and the Mediterranean would be quite similar. The mere fact that Mediterranean people believed in gold would cause Indians to start believing in it as well. Even if Indians still had no real use for gold, the fact that Mediterranean people wanted it would be enough to make the Indians value it.


Similarly, the fact that another person believes in cowry shells, or dollars, or electronic data, is enough to strengthen our own belief in them, even if that person is otherwise hated, despised or ridiculed by us. Christians and Muslims who could not agree on religious beliefs could nevertheless agree on a monetary belief, because whereas religion asks us to believe in something, money asks us to believe that other people believe in something.


For thousands of years, philosophers, thinkers and prophets have besmirched money and called it the root of all evil. Be that as it may, money is also the apogee of human tolerance. Money is more open-minded than language, state laws, cultural codes, religious beliefs and social habits. Money is the only trust system created by humans that can bridge almost any cultural gap, and that does not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, race, age or sexual orientation. Thanks to money, even people who don’t know each other and don’t trust each other can nevertheless cooperate effectively.

Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (pp. 185-186)


I would say he limits this too much in speaking only of money - the same dynamic tends to be true of language, I think, and probably even moral behavior (If Person A does not particularly value Person B’s social mores but nevertheless stands to benefit from ‘accumulating’ them, then in the absence of a competing interest, why wouldn’t they? Morality is somewhat different in that it does contain ‘competing interests’ in many cases, but certainly not always. If in some cultures it’s inconsiderate [i.e., ‘bad’] if you don’t take off your shoes before entering a house, then we will tend to adopt that custom pretty quickly among people who prefer it.) In that sense I think there may well be an overarching, formulaic truth to morality, if not a materialist one (but, as I said, I’m not a materialist anyways.)

 
 
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