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Author Topic:   How do you know truth?
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 46 of 114 (26956)
12-17-2002 7:22 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by Quetzal
12-16-2002 9:17 AM


hi Q, i didn't miss the below i just didn't have time to address it... i'm pressed for time now, but will do my best
quote:
Originally posted by Quetzal:
1. Take the world and the universe as it is, not what you wish it to be. Accept that humans, being a highly aggressive and territorial species, are quite capable of committing the most heinous acts. But realize at the same time that we are ALSO capable of an incredible amount of greatness. We are a study in contrasts. The same species that can fly and land on another world and whose vision can probe the furthest reaches of the sidereal universe, also condemns the vast majority of its populations to abject misery, starvation and death. The same species that can produce Rembrandt, Bach, Darwin or Einstein, can also produce Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Pizarro. The same species that can imagine the existence of an all-loving God, can turn around and use this same God as justification for slaughtering its own. We are an amazing species: full of contradictions and complexity. Accept it - it's what we are. No one individual will ever be able to change it. An attempt to try changing the entire species is doomed to failure.
i see nothing at all in this paragraph with which to disagree... all i've been trying to say is, if we are here because of a series of accidents, then what we are (collectively and individually) is a result of those accidents... if this is so, there is no difference, in the final analysis, between pol pot and mozart... the accidental nature of the chemicals that made up one person's individuality make up the other's... and it can make no difference which path one chooses (individually)... there is no moral or ethical compass, hitler and ghandi lived "right" lives *for them*
quote:
2. If you can't change the human condition, then what's the point? The point is every individual CAN make a difference, even if infintessimal. You effect what you are able, you improve where you can. Just imagine if everyone thought that way? Even if they don't, so what? The motivation to act where you can comes from within. The act becomes its own reward. I would argue that this is the third option you neglected to mention: neither theist nor nihilist. A "humanist" (although the term has become more and more empty over the years, hence the quotation marks) outlook. Wholly secular, and a refusal to chuck the whole thing as a bad job. Can't change the overall misery index? Nope - but I CAN change it in my immediate environment, which is all that can be asked of a selfish organism anyway.
and this paragraph is equally well stated... but to my mind the discussion centered around whether or not any person or group of people had the right to say that another person or group is "wrong" in whatever course they choose, given that one accident has as much liklihood as another to do "the right thing"... hitler might argue that his course was the only correct one, for germany and for humanity... how can we argue? one accident arguing against another
quote:
3. You have to pick your battles. Some simply can't be won - accept it. The trick is to know when to attack and when to retreat; when to try and improve things, and when your efforts will be vain. Anything else is stupid.
agreed *if* there is no such thing as objectivity... in that case we just live our lives as we think best, and accept the subjective nature of our decisions... we must know that how we think is no better or worse than how any one else thinks... it can't be, see?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by Quetzal, posted 12-16-2002 9:17 AM Quetzal has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 48 by Quetzal, posted 12-17-2002 10:58 AM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 47 of 114 (26958)
12-17-2002 7:34 AM
Reply to: Message 45 by Quetzal
12-17-2002 3:40 AM


hi Q...
quote:
Originally posted by Quetzal:
This does NOT, in spite of robin's unsupported assertions to the contrary, require that an individual's life be without "meaning". Yes the universe is a cold, unfeeling, utterly uncaring place. So what? That's reality. You can wish it away, make up anthropomorphic deities to give you that warm fuzzy feeling, invent an afterlife to hide from the fact of death, or whatever makes you happy. This doesn't make them any more "real" than Schraf's invisible pink unicorns (although I've often wondered how you can have "pink" and "invisible" in the same critter). Alternatively, you can accept what IS, rather than what you wish it to be because it makes you feel better, and live what life you've got to the best of your ability within the constraints of the society in which you were born. It's entirely up to you.
i understand this, really i do... what i don't understand is how one who lives as you describe can make any claim that his subjective decisions are correct or moral or ethical when opposed to those of another... and Q, many atheists (or materialists) do argue that very thing... yes, how we live matters to *us* (and our immediate surroundings)... but so what? in the end it doesn't matter at all
quote:
I would venture to guess that you probably do - and I would predict that, in the absence of your religion, you would STILL act very much in the same fashion. Somehow you don't strike me as the type that would be out axe murdering people if you didn't feel constrained by the threat of future divine punishment. Wonder why you wouldn't?
i agree i'd be pretty much like i am, but i'd be internally inconsistent to think that my way is the right way... the axe murderer *might* have the right philosophy... he certainly has as much right to his way of life as i do to mine
quote:
Popes and serial killers: You're falling into robin's trap of bringing up false analogies in a reductio ad absurdum argument. Unless you can truthfully say there is a behavioral or psychological equivalence between the Pope and a serial killer - or alternatively make the case that the two behaviors are normative in their particular cultures - then the examples are fallacious. The behaviors - and the acceptability - of the two are completely different because one is in conformity to social norms, where the other is exhibiting arguably abnormal behavior. (Since you're not Catholic, I leave it up to you to decide which is which ).
but that's the whole point, Q... it reduces what is acceptable to being, what the majority *thinks* is acceptable at any one time... and our senses (along with everything else) being a matter of accident, how can we trust ourselves to *know*?
quote:
In the end, as you put it, the universe will go on quite unconcernedly whether a given individual is a serial killer or a saint. In fact, the universe will go on quite unconcernedly whether life on this particular planet exists or not. Why does this fact bother some people so much?
i don't know why...
quote:
Of course, you could simply be stating that you believe humans are insane and will run amok unless there is an externally-imposed (read supernatural) constraint on their behavior. In which case, I'd love to see your evidence...
no, humans are humans because we were created human... but you do see that running amok is every bit as morally and ethically viable as praying?
quote:
thank God there is more, eh?
quote:
Thank Darwin we know we are smart monkeys who can make "more" of life all by our lonesomes, eh?
maybe we can... but no one group of such monkeys would be morally correct even in attempting to make more of life

This message is a reply to:
 Message 45 by Quetzal, posted 12-17-2002 3:40 AM Quetzal has not replied

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5951 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 48 of 114 (26984)
12-17-2002 10:58 AM
Reply to: Message 46 by forgiven
12-17-2002 7:22 AM


Hi forgiven:
Thanks for the response.
quote:
i see nothing at all in this paragraph with which to disagree... all i've been trying to say is, if we are here because of a series of accidents, then what we are (collectively and individually) is a result of those accidents... if this is so, there is no difference, in the final analysis, between pol pot and mozart... the accidental nature of the chemicals that made up one person's individuality make up the other's... and it can make no difference which path one chooses (individually)... there is no moral or ethical compass, hitler and ghandi lived "right" lives *for them*
I think you missed part of my point (IIRC, I originally brought it up in post #26). That is, that while our behaviors have a biological foundation, we are NOT wholly - or arguably even mostly - dependent on biology. Individual humans are heavily influenced by environment and experience. Worse, each and every one of us is an independent, rational agent when it comes to our individual needs, desires, reactions, and interactions - all of which are based on and derive from our respective experience, environment and culture. For one thing, this makes it nearly impossible to predict behavior except in the aggregate. It also makes every individual unique. You simply cannot compare, based on shared biology as humans alone, the actions and/or behavior of Ghandi and Hitler. You can only compare, post facto, the outcomes. They were, after all, both human.
It's fairly easy, after the fact, to make value judgements in the case of any human. We can quite confidently declare, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that Hitler was "bad", morally repugnant, etc. How do we arrive at this conclusion? Because he caused the deaths of 12 million people. I don't think any of us would argue against this being a "bad thing". But don't you find it even slightly curious that millions of people either followed, acquiesced or even abetted him during his heyday? And that these were not misguided fanatics, but rather sane, normal, average, every-day people? And that moreover, these people shared quite the same (or similar) "moral compass" you proclaim? NOTE: I am NOT making the ludicrous and unsupportable assertion that Christianity and Hitler had anything at all to do with each other. What I AM saying is that the example of Hitler and the German people between say, 1933 and 1945, are prima facie evidence AGAINST the existence of any objective morality. During Hitler's reign, HIS vision was the guiding principle that determined the normative behavior for the society that he led to destruction. It is only AFTER the fact that we can rightfully proclaim that it was "immoral". I would guarantee you that if you could go back in time and ask an average German then whether or not Hitler was "immoral", the answer would be "no". Interestingly, this is precisely the kind of thing we would expect to see if humans have no objective morality: an individual may try to maximize his personal benefit at the expense of the group, and the group (if I might anthropomorphize just a little) may attempt to maximize its benefit at the expense of the individual. Hitler did both, with disastrous results.
Which finally brings me to the remainder of your point (and the next paragraph, actually), concerning moral relativism. IF you are going to argue that a particular behavior is "bad" or "good", you can ONLY do so from within the context of the particular society. Otherwise you're just passing wind, or judging another (or another society) based on your own presuppositions. HOWEVER, it doesn't automatically follow that all societies are equal or equally valid. Just as interactions at the individual level within a society can be judged "good" or "bad" in the context of that society, so too can the aggregate actions of the society be judged in their interactions with other societies. A hyperaggressive society that seeks to dominate, subjugate, or even exterminate another society would deservedly be considered "bad", at least by the society that's on the receiving end, and quite possibly by others. A society that doesn't bother their neighbors, but goes about exterminating a segment of their own population might also be considered "bad" by other societies - at least by those that disagree with the practice or the choice of victims. In this instance the outside society might intervene if it had the capability to do so. However, it has no extrinsic moral right to the intervention. It is, in fact, imposing its own morality on another society. It isn't necessarily a "bad" thing for a society to intervene like this. I merely wish to point out that it isn't necessarily a "good" thing, either. This isn't moral relativism - its a restatement/expansion of what I've been maintaining all along: morality is a culturally subjective and culturally derived concept.
quote:
agreed *if* there is no such thing as objectivity... in that case we just live our lives as we think best, and accept the subjective nature of our decisions... we must know that how we think is no better or worse than how any one else thinks... it can't be, see?
We're not arguing objectivity. We're arguing objective (i.e., universal) morality. I don't believe you have made the case for its existence. On the other hand, I've given you one rather glaring example that would tend to show that objective morality DOESN'T exist - that it's culturally dependent and hence mutable even within a culture. I certainly agree with "in that case we just live our lives as we think best, and accept the subjective nature of our decisions". And I'll also agree that judging the value of how someone else thinks is a fools game. Doesn't mean that every thought is golden, or that the thought isn't "wrong" in the context of the society/culture in which it arose...

This message is a reply to:
 Message 46 by forgiven, posted 12-17-2002 7:22 AM forgiven has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 52 by forgiven, posted 12-17-2002 8:43 PM Quetzal has replied
 Message 53 by forgiven, posted 12-18-2002 7:32 AM Quetzal has not replied

  
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 49 of 114 (27047)
12-17-2002 2:54 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by Quetzal
12-17-2002 2:53 AM


Quetzal,I am amazed by your tone, but I will give it another try. I apologize if I have offended you.
My claim: Materialism precludes free will.
definition:
materialism--the belief that the only reality is physical reality, that there is no such thing as soul, spirit, or mind.
support for the claim that materialism precludes free will (a deductive argument):
If everything is physical, there is no distinction between "me" and "my body" (this is only a way we have of talking). Physical laws--laws of physics, chemistry, etc--are amoral. They do not operate according to any "oughts." A physical law is simply a description of how objects do in fact behave. If there is nothing but the physical, then all events in the universe are dictated by these physical laws. There is nothing else to dictate them.
Nobody chooses what they do with a free act of will. Their body operates according to physical laws. There is no choice involved (we think there is, but this is an illusion that has evolved in us).
If there is no entity (such as "soul") that is separate from the body, then it is not possible for a person to make a free choice because his choice is dictated by the physical laws of his body (he is his body).
As regards the influence of environment: the environment can be traced ultimately to physical laws. "Culture" is just as physically dictated as everything else--there is nothing but the physical. The same can be said for man's cognitive faculties. These faculties are also dictated by the physical make-up of the body. A man can no more control how he thinks and what he thinks than he can control how tall he is.
Therefore, materialism precludes free will.
(In my next post I will demonstrate how free will is necessary for morality).
[This message has been edited by robinrohan, 12-17-2002]

This message is a reply to:
 Message 44 by Quetzal, posted 12-17-2002 2:53 AM Quetzal has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 50 by robinrohan, posted 12-17-2002 3:58 PM robinrohan has replied
 Message 56 by Quetzal, posted 12-18-2002 10:30 AM robinrohan has replied

  
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 50 of 114 (27060)
12-17-2002 3:58 PM
Reply to: Message 49 by robinrohan
12-17-2002 2:54 PM


Claim: Free will is necessary for morality.
Perhaps this is a matter of definition, but I would claim that my definition of morality is the usual definition and therefore the proper one for this discussion.
Morality: a set of rules about right conduct generally accepted by a group. From an evolutionary point of view, these rules developed because they, in Quetzal's words, "facilitated survival in the face of predators" (One can imagine a moral rule such as "Thou shalt not stray from the group").
As time passed, the idea developed that if a person is to be said to be "guilty" of bad conduct, that person must have had the ability to refrain from such conduct. For example, if a gun accidentally goes off in a person's hands and kills someone, that person is not guilty of murder either in a moral or a legal sense. If a person who is blind accidentally carries something in a bag out of a store, placed there by another, the blind person is not guilty of theft either in a moral or presumably in a legal sense. This idea about fairness in distinguishing between willed and unwilled behavior is generally practiced in theory if not in fact in much of the world and is reflected to some extent in a country's laws (for example, the distinction between involuntary manslaughter, which assumes only partial blame on the part of the agent, and murder).
This is the sense of morality that I mean and that I think most people would agree with. If I am wrong, please correct me.
However, in the earlier part of our evolution, that would presumably not be the case. People (and groups)who did the right thing survived and those who did the bad thing died. It did not matter if you intended to do the bad thing or not, or whether you had any choice in the matter. So we can see that the morality involved in evolution is somewhat different from the morality as we usually speak of it today and that it is misleading to compare the two.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 49 by robinrohan, posted 12-17-2002 2:54 PM robinrohan has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 51 by robinrohan, posted 12-17-2002 5:10 PM robinrohan has not replied

  
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 51 of 114 (27065)
12-17-2002 5:10 PM
Reply to: Message 50 by robinrohan
12-17-2002 3:58 PM


On Nihilism
Quetzal claims the following: "Nihilism honest? Nihilism is defeatist, utterly selfish, supremely arrogant, intellectually vacuous, and morally bankrupt."
my definition of nihilism: the belief that life is meaningless, either in an objective or subjective sense.
Is nihilism honest? If it is the truth, it is honest to proclaim it. I honestly believe it to be the truth, although my belief is provisional. However, what Quetzal is reacting to is my statement that my nihilism was more honest than his views of subjective meaning in life. I used the wrong word when I said "honest." What I should have said is "consistent." My apologies.
Is nihilism defeatist? There's a difference between being a nihilist in theory and a nihilist in a practical sense, and this I suspect holds true for many "labels." Being a nihilist doesn't mean necessarily that you shoot yourself. You act in a practical sense as though life did have meaning (because you never know--you might change your mind tomorrow).
Is nihilism utterly selfish? There is no specific connection between nihilism and selfishness. It is true, a nihilist does not believe that morality is valid in the long run, and I assume that "selfishness" here is being used in a moral sense. But because one does not believe in morality, this does mean that one engages necessarily in what are called vices. I myself do not believe that marajuana is more harmful than beer, but I still don't smoke marajuana.
Is nihilism supremely arrogant? On the contrary, I would call it humble.
Is nihilism intellectually vacuous? On the contrary, it is intellectually respectable in that nihilism does not give in to the temptations of a creed that make one feel good but for which there is no evidence.
Is nihilism morally bankrupt? A curious phrase. One has no moral money? One is morally in debt? Actually, to be perfectly frank, I do feel a great deal of guilt for being me, even though I know I tried--to some extent. I suspect a lot of people feel that way. One's feelings and one's theories do not always mesh.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 50 by robinrohan, posted 12-17-2002 3:58 PM robinrohan has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 52 of 114 (27104)
12-17-2002 8:43 PM
Reply to: Message 48 by Quetzal
12-17-2002 10:58 AM


hi Q... i don't think we're talking 'bout the same thing else i got sidetracked somehow... i thought we were talking about how one worldview is equal to any other if all that exists is material, and if we are the product of molecular belly dancing... you write
... while our behaviors have a biological foundation, we are NOT wholly - or arguably even mostly - dependent on biology.
but see Q, we are (IF everything is based on materiality)... environmental and societal pressures mean nothing, they simply push the premise back to such time as the "founders" of a certain worldview etc imposed their will on others... imo
It's fairly easy, after the fact, to make value judgements in the case of any human.
i'm not making judgements, it isn't my job... i'm simply saying what has to be if there is no objective standard... there either is or there isn't... if there is, it's either material or metaphysical or some combination... if there isn't, no one person, group, nation, world is right or wrong no matter what mores or ethics it/they practice
We can quite confidently declare, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that Hitler was "bad", morally repugnant, etc. How do we arrive at this conclusion? Because he caused the deaths of 12 million people. I don't think any of us would argue against this being a "bad thing".
but see, this is exactly my point... it *isn't* a "bad thing" in and of itself if there is no standard against which bad is measured... so you could argue against hitler's germany being good till you are blue in the face... eventually you'll have to choose something by which to measure, something other than opinion or majority rules in order to show *why* it was bad... 12 or 12 million, it doesn't matter... it was right for him and germany at that time and nobody in the world has a right to say his morality is better or worse... *if* the material is all there is and *if* the way we think is a matter of accident
But don't you find it even slightly curious that millions of people either followed, acquiesced or even abetted him during his heyday? And that these were not misguided fanatics, but rather sane, normal, average, every-day people? And that moreover, these people shared quite the same (or similar) "moral compass" you proclaim? NOTE: I am NOT making the ludicrous and unsupportable assertion that Christianity and Hitler had anything at all to do with each other. What I AM saying is that the example of Hitler and the German people between say, 1933 and 1945, are prima facie evidence AGAINST the existence of any objective morality.
i reject that argument... if i can find only one reasonable explanation other than a lack of objective morality, if i could point to one person who behaved as she did out of fear or some other emotion, there would be no evidence to support that view
During Hitler's reign, HIS vision was the guiding principle that determined the normative behavior for the society that he led to destruction. It is only AFTER the fact that we can rightfully proclaim that it was "immoral".
Q, i don't buy that... i suppose you mean that within germany herself it was only after the fact, but many millions of people viewed him as evil at that time... people do what they know to be wrong all the time... not always, thank God, to the degree of germany back then, but that's all it was... a matter of degree... if objective morality exists it doesn't preclude free beings from forming their own brand of morality for reasons they hold important
I would guarantee you that if you could go back in time and ask an average German then whether or not Hitler was "immoral", the answer would be "no". Interestingly, this is precisely the kind of thing we would expect to see if humans have no objective morality: an individual may try to maximize his personal benefit at the expense of the group, and the group (if I might anthropomorphize just a little) may attempt to maximize its benefit at the expense of the individual. Hitler did both, with disastrous results.
i say that you can't make the statement "..this is precisely the kind of thing we would expect to see if humans have no objective morality.." without having at least some idea of c.s. lewis's "crooked stick"
Which finally brings me to the remainder of your point (and the next paragraph, actually), concerning moral relativism. IF you are going to argue that a particular behavior is "bad" or "good", you can ONLY do so from within the context of the particular society. Otherwise you're just passing wind, or judging another (or another society) based on your own presuppositions. HOWEVER, it doesn't automatically follow that all societies are equal or equally valid.
yes it does follow, Q... if there is nothing but materiality, nothing but the accidental firing of electrons, it automatically follows that all worldviews are equally valid... hitler wasn't wrong, he was merely slightly weaker than the rest of the world when it came to imposing his worldview... IF there is no standard against which to measure his actions, his actions can in no way be said to be "wrong"
However, it has no extrinsic moral right to the intervention. It is, in fact, imposing its own morality on another society. It isn't necessarily a "bad" thing for a society to intervene like this. I merely wish to point out that it isn't necessarily a "good" thing, either. This isn't moral relativism - its a restatement/expansion of what I've been maintaining all along: morality is a culturally subjective and culturally derived concept.
that is true, if there is no objective morality there can be no good reason to intervene.. true, it wouldn't be good or bad to do so if the material is all there is... your last statement is true *in a world where the material is all that exists*
We're not arguing objectivity. We're arguing objective (i.e., universal) morality. I don't believe you have made the case for its existence.
i really wasn't trying to... i was simply agreeing with you that in a material world objectivity can't exist

This message is a reply to:
 Message 48 by Quetzal, posted 12-17-2002 10:58 AM Quetzal has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 54 by Quetzal, posted 12-18-2002 8:45 AM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 53 of 114 (27169)
12-18-2002 7:32 AM
Reply to: Message 48 by Quetzal
12-17-2002 10:58 AM


hi Q... below is a post i resurrected from another thread, it was mr. p and me... this shows kinda where we left off and might explain my thinking a little
quote:
Originally posted by forgiven:
hello mr. p
quote:
Originally posted by Mister Pamboli:
How are we to distinguish irrational from rational thought?
it can't be done... in a strictly materialistic worldview, rationality is mere preference with a pinch of "majority rules" tossed in
quote:
How are we to distinguish rational thought building on true premises from rational thought building from false premises?
either a) empirically or b) intuitively or c) some mixture of a and b... or as the bible says, "test all things, hold on to that which is true"... the problem comes about when choosing the tools used for testing and in determining if such tools actually exist in nature...
quote:
How are we to establish any coincidence between ideology and rationality?
if idealogues are irrational by definition, all rational thoughts held by such a person are coincidental... or as my grandma might have said, "even a blind hog finds an acorn occasionally"... however, if rationality itself is mere preference, all instances of rational thought are coincidences... if "material" is all that exists, my reason is as "true" as anyone else's whether or not i am an idealogue
quote:
How are we to determine whether our belief in that coincidence is rational or irrational, ideological or nonideological without recourse to questioning the rationality of our belief?
doesn't matter... if reason is a transcendental entity, there is truth... if it's material, there is no truth... all is reduced to molecular accidents imposing the results of their accident on the wills of other accidents by fiat...


This message is a reply to:
 Message 48 by Quetzal, posted 12-17-2002 10:58 AM Quetzal has not replied

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5951 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 54 of 114 (27182)
12-18-2002 8:45 AM
Reply to: Message 52 by forgiven
12-17-2002 8:43 PM


Hi forgiven,
Interesting response.
quote:
but see Q, we are (IF everything is based on materiality)... environmental and societal pressures mean nothing, they simply push the premise back to such time as the "founders" of a certain worldview etc imposed their will on others... imo
How can you state that environmental and societal pressures mean nothing? What I’m asking is, what is the justification for the statement? Everything I’ve read on behavior (beginning waaay back in my early days with Piaget’s Cognition and Affect) indicates that environment has a significant impact on individual learned behavior patterns. Environment in humans includes the society. In other words, while we may be constrained by biology, we are individually more influenced by the world around us both developmentally and in the suite of reactions we use in any given situation. Moreover, we are engaged in a near-constant feedback loop between ourselves and other individuals within our immediate group (family, community, church, whatever). Finally, our immediate group (and you can carry this outwards as often as you want) is engaged in constant feed-back between itself and the larger society of which it is a part, etc. So the behaviors of a normal person are generally circumscribed by 1) biology, 2) individual interaction/response, and 3) group or societal interactions. Biologically, we evolved to cooperate (although there’s a heck of a lot more to it than that). Individually, we attempt to maximize our individual benefit while at the same time avoiding negative consequences of our actions — which will circumscribe the actual level of selfishness displayed. As members of a group, society or culture, in the aggregate we adhere to certain conventions and behavioral norms, both individually and as members of subgroups that make up the larger society — the tradeoff we make in order to partake of whatever putative benefits are provided in exchange. We have invented the terms ethics, morality, etc, as ways of describing this feedback system. We (individually and collectively) make value judgments (moral, immoral, good, bad) based on the concensually accepted norms of our particular society. In essence, then, environment and societal pressures are the basis for morality — both individual and collective — as I’ve maintained all along.
quote:
i'm not making judgements, it isn't my job... i'm simply saying what has to be if there is no objective standard... there either is or there isn't... if there is, it's either material or metaphysical or some combination... if there isn't, no one person, group, nation, world is right or wrong no matter what mores or ethics it/they practice
On the contrary, you most assuredly DO make judgments — we all do. You yourself have indicated that you consider Hitler bad and Ghandi good (or at least you used those two as examples). You are, however, making this judgment based on your own standards which are outgrowths of your own culture. If you were an average German living in 1938, the odds are you wouldn’t have judged Hitler bad. Most didn’t — then. I’m equally positive that there were individuals who DID see him as a bad person in 1938. And certainly the citizens of the nations whom he either attacked or absorbed, as well as the ethnic groups he attacked within his own society, would have considered him bad. This lends even more weight to the lack of a universal, objective standard. Morality or immorality, good or evil, good and bad are completely subjective. One German in 1938 sees what’s going on as bad, another sees it as good. Where is the universal moral standard? This goes once again back to my (unaccepted) challenge on another thread: if an objective morality or standard exists, please define at least one element that is common to every culture (and I provided a sample list of cultures that is at least somewhat cross-species). Care to try your hand?
quote:
but see, this is exactly my point... it *isn't* a "bad thing" in and of itself if there is no standard against which bad is measured... so you could argue against hitler's germany being good till you are blue in the face... eventually you'll have to choose something by which to measure, something other than opinion or majority rules in order to show *why* it was bad... 12 or 12 million, it doesn't matter... it was right for him and germany at that time and nobody in the world has a right to say his morality is better or worse... *if* the material is all there is and *if* the way we think is a matter of accident
First off, the way we think isn’t a matter of accident in the sense I think you mean. The way we think is a product of our biological and cultural evolution over thousands (in the case of culture) or millions (in the case of biology) of years. We are constrained to a certain extent in the way we deal with the world around us by natural and cultural history. I have never claimed otherwise.
We (again I’m speaking both individually and collectively) DO have standards by which we judge behavior — the norms of the society and culture in which we find ourselves. In the case of Hitler’s Germany, we are not only judging him and his society from OUR cultural standard, but we are judging them from a historical perspective. IOW, we are judging the results and the actions that led up to those results in retrospect.
Let me see if I can illustrate my point here a little better, by moving away from Hitler (since he’s such an unequivocal and extreme example). Pick one of the following and we’ll see if we can determine whether the person was objectively moral or not: Alexander the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent, Peter the Great, Iyesu Tokugawa, William T. Sherman, William the Conqueror, Leopold II, Robert E. Lee, or Volodimyr I (that one might be a little obscure, but he happens to be a verrrry distant ancestor so I included him).
quote:
i reject that argument... if i can find only one reasonable explanation other than a lack of objective morality, if i could point to one person who behaved as she did out of fear or some other emotion, there would be no evidence to support that view
I can quite readily believe you reject the argument. However, you are committing a fallacy of division — that the properties of the aggregate or collective (in this case the normative principles of the German society of 1938) must be shared by each individual member of that aggregate. This is an especially obvious error when dealing with humans (remember the free will bit? It works just as well from a naturalism standpoint — I just don’t ascribe it to a gift from a deity.) Simply finding a single counter-example (or dozens) in this instance doesn’t refute my argument. To do that, you would have to show that the majority were afraid, etc, and this fear or whatever coerced them into violating the moral compass you claim exists. Feel free to provide evidence that the majority was coerced.
quote:
Q, i don't buy that... i suppose you mean that within germany herself it was only after the fact, but many millions of people viewed him as evil at that time... people do what they know to be wrong all the time... not always, thank God, to the degree of germany back then, but that's all it was... a matter of degree... if objective morality exists it doesn't preclude free beings from forming their own brand of morality for reasons they hold important
That’s pretty much what I’ve been saying all along. However, have you considered the implications of what you wrote here? Objective morality doesn’t preclude? If so, then what evidence is there that such a thing exists? You may wish to reconsider or rephrase that statement.
quote:
i say that you can't make the statement "..this is precisely the kind of thing we would expect to see if humans have no objective morality.." without having at least some idea of c.s. lewis's "crooked stick"
Feel free to explain what Lewis is talking about if it bolsters your case. OTOH, I made a specific prediction of what I would expect to see if no objective morality exists. I provided an example that seems to fit the bill — you have not shown the example is incorrect, merely asserted it. I have made another prediction — that we will be unable to discern specific evidence of cross-cultural morality (my challenge on the other thread). So far, that hasn’t been refuted either. You might want to make a stronger case, here.
quote:
yes it does follow, Q... if there is nothing but materiality, nothing but the accidental firing of electrons, it automatically follows that all worldviews are equally valid... hitler wasn't wrong, he was merely slightly weaker than the rest of the world when it came to imposing his worldview... IF there is no standard against which to measure his actions, his actions can in no way be said to be "wrong"
This appears to be another fallacy. Your conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow from your argument. Materialism does not automatically conclude that all worldviews are equally valid — which I think I pointed out.
quote:
that is true, if there is no objective morality there can be no good reason to intervene
I never said there was no good reason to intervene. I said there is no ultimate, universal, objective, disinterested justification for intervention. Societies, cultures, groups, and individuals can ALWAYS come up with some reason for any action. Judging from within the standpoint of our own culture, we can even consider these reasons good (if we support the intervention), or bad (if we are against the intervention). There certainly doesn’t appear to be any objective morality involved, or at least you certainly haven’t shown any.
quote:
i really wasn't trying to... i was simply agreeing with you that in a material world objectivity can't exist
Then I don’t know what you are agreeing with, since I never said that
(Ooops, I seem to have missed your post #47. Do you want me to go back to it or just carry on from here?)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by forgiven, posted 12-17-2002 8:43 PM forgiven has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 58 by forgiven, posted 12-18-2002 7:21 PM Quetzal has not replied

  
nator
Member (Idle past 2249 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 55 of 114 (27201)
12-18-2002 9:55 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Quetzal
12-09-2002 4:06 AM


quote:
Originally posted by Quetzal:
I'm also a tad curious - not for John's take on it, but for others. What is "truth" as you understand it? Second, related question, "Why is it important to seek it?" IOW, what is this concept that everyone seems so hot and bothered about seeking?
Most theists of whatever stripe seem know what truth is, so I'd be interested in hearing what they think.
Most non-theists of whatever stripe seem to agree they don't know what it is. Some claim to be seeking it, some argue there isn't any such thing. Some claim that it's an unapproachable ideal.
So what is it?

I don't know what truth is.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Quetzal, posted 12-09-2002 4:06 AM Quetzal has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 62 by forgiven, posted 12-18-2002 9:32 PM nator has replied

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5951 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 56 of 114 (27206)
12-18-2002 10:30 AM
Reply to: Message 49 by robinrohan
12-17-2002 2:54 PM


quote:
materialism--the belief that the only reality is physical reality, that there is no such thing as soul, spirit, or mind.
support for the claim that materialism precludes free will (a deductive argument):
If everything is physical, there is no distinction between "me" and "my body" (this is only a way we have of talking). Physical laws--laws of physics, chemistry, etc--are amoral. They do not operate according to any "oughts." A physical law is simply a description of how objects do in fact behave. If there is nothing but the physical, then all events in the universe are dictated by these physical laws. There is nothing else to dictate them.
So far, we are in agreement, with the semantic quibble that "mind" in this context refers to something with an actual existence separate from the body it inhabits. If you mean something else, we need to agree on the terminology before proceeding.
quote:
Nobody chooses what they do with a free act of will. Their body operates according to physical laws. There is no choice involved (we think there is, but this is an illusion that has evolved in us).
This is an assertion without evidence. Of the four statements, only one ("Their body operates according to physical laws.") is empirically verifiable. I am unwilling to stipulate to the other three unless you can provide supporting arguments for each.
quote:
If there is no entity (such as "soul") that is separate from the body, then it is not possible for a person to make a free choice because his choice is dictated by the physical laws of his body (he is his body).
You have not made a connection between the existence of an entity such as soul and free choice. You are merely asserting this. Also, while the statement that "choice is dictated by physical laws" may be defensible (although you will have to show which physical law is applicable and how it would be applied to "choice"), the conclusion that it isn't possible to make free choice naturally doesn't follow automatically from what you have written.
quote:
As regards the influence of environment: the environment can be traced ultimately to physical laws. "Culture" is just as physically dictated as everything else--there is nothing but the physical. The same can be said for man's cognitive faculties. These faculties are also dictated by the physical make-up of the body.
Correct, albeit simplistic. See my note to forgiven concerning feedback loops and culture.
quote:
A man can no more control how he thinks and what he thinks than he can control how tall he is.
This conclusion is not warranted by the preceeding correct statements. The simplest falsification of this assertion is that human behavior can only predicted stochastically - in the aggregate. It is impossible to predict specific behaviors of an individual (for instance, the exact physical or cognitive response to a given stimulus) except in the most generic fashion. You should seriously consider reading something about cognitive behavior, or neuropsychology.
quote:
Therefore, materialism precludes free will.
You have failed to demonstrate this conclusion. All of your arguments are either fallacious or inadequate.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 49 by robinrohan, posted 12-17-2002 2:54 PM robinrohan has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 57 by robinrohan, posted 12-18-2002 11:58 AM Quetzal has not replied

  
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 57 of 114 (27214)
12-18-2002 11:58 AM
Reply to: Message 56 by Quetzal
12-18-2002 10:30 AM


Quetzal, you keep asking me for "evidence" for what is purely deductive. My statements are merely a matter of tracing out the logical extension of the definition of materialism.
I wrote, "nobody chooses wwhat they do with an act of free will. Their body operates according to physical laws."
You say, "this is an assertion without evidence."
My point is, we are our bodies. If materialism is true, there isn't anything else we can be. If there is anything else to us besides our bodies, then materialism is not true. There's no "me" choosing which physical laws are going to be operative and which are not in a given case.
You say, "you have not made a connection between the existence of an entity such as soul and free choice."
I don't have to because there is no such thing as soul. This was an "if" statement-and purely definitional. If there is to be free will, there must be something autonomous that is not dictated by physical laws. The traditional name for such a mythical entity is "soul."
Now, as to your point about prediction: Just because we can't predict somebody's actions, that does not mean that those actions are not determined.
I cannot predict if my car is going to start tomorrow or not (I've been having problems with it), but that does not mean that the car is going to choose whether or not it wants to start.
We are like the car.
Now if you are invoking a quantum idea, I don't think quantum physics is suggesting that particles are choosing what they want to do and so that's why they cannot be predicted.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 56 by Quetzal, posted 12-18-2002 10:30 AM Quetzal has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 60 by forgiven, posted 12-18-2002 9:29 PM robinrohan has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 58 of 114 (27267)
12-18-2002 7:21 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by Quetzal
12-18-2002 8:45 AM


hi Q
quote:
Originally posted by Quetzal:
Interesting response.
quote:
f:
but see Q, we are (IF everything is based on materiality)... environmental and societal pressures mean nothing, they simply push the premise back to such time as the "founders" of a certain worldview etc imposed their will on others... imo
How can you state that environmental and societal pressures mean nothing?
i meant that in the sense that one can conceiveably trace worldviews back in time but my main point was that those pressures mean "nothing" in any moral or ethical sense
quote:
In other words, while we may be constrained by biology, we are individually more influenced by the world around us both developmentally and in the suite of reactions we use in any given situation.
this may be so, but it has no bearing that i can see on what i'm trying to say... that is, in a material world all worldviews are equally valid... the only thing that can invalidate one or more is might, since there is no such thing as "right"
quote:
We have invented the terms ethics, morality, etc, as ways of describing this feedback system. We (individually and collectively) make value judgments (moral, immoral, good, bad) based on the concensually accepted norms of our particular society. In essence, then, environment and societal pressures are the basis for morality — both individual and collective — as I’ve maintained all along.
i still say we're missing one another somewhere... i'm not saying we *don't* do those things, i'm saying we have no right to do those things in a material universe... what determines whether or not one worldview is superior or inferior?
quote:
On the contrary, you most assuredly DO make judgments — we all do. You yourself have indicated that you consider Hitler bad and Ghandi good (or at least you used those two as examples). You are, however, making this judgment based on your own standards which are outgrowths of your own culture.
yes i do make judgements, but i do so because my worldview allows me to without being internally inconsistent... i believe there is a standard by which to make such judgements, and so far i don't see where you have any such standard other than mores or pressures... iow, if i believed as you (sorry if this isn't what you believe, it's my take on it only) that there is only the material, i'd not make judgements of any kind... after all, how can i trust *my* upbringing, my societal pressures, my mores to be any better or worse than anyone else's?
quote:
This goes once again back to my (unaccepted) challenge on another thread: if an objective morality or standard exists, please define at least one element that is common to every culture (and I provided a sample list of cultures that is at least somewhat cross-species). Care to try your hand?
my apologies, i don't remember seeing that but i have been busy lately and it's so easy to miss posts... i'm not sure what you mean by "element" so i hope this fits that category... i'd say that the torture and rape of a young child is commonly accepted as evil in all societies throughout history...
quote:
First off, the way we think isn’t a matter of accident in the sense I think you mean. The way we think is a product of our biological and cultural evolution over thousands (in the case of culture) or millions (in the case of biology) of years. We are constrained to a certain extent in the way we deal with the world around us by natural and cultural history. I have never claimed otherwise.
Q, i'm not arguing against this... i'm simply saying that if all that exists is material, if there is no transcendent entity known as "good," the way any individual or group thinks (and behaves) is on equal footing with any other individual's or group's thinking and behavior.. there is simply no standard in that case, nothing to look at and say "this is good" and "this is evil"
quote:
We (again I’m speaking both individually and collectively) DO have standards by which we judge behavior — the norms of the society and culture in which we find ourselves. In the case of Hitler’s Germany, we are not only judging him and his society from OUR cultural standard, but we are judging them from a historical perspective. IOW, we are judging the results and the actions that led up to those results in retrospect.
i'm not saying we *don't* judge (using "we" from the materialist perspective)... all i'm saying is we have no moral footing for the judging... if you truly believe that it's only in retrospect that an act can be labeled "evil" then that's the way it is... for you... imagine for a moment that germany won the war, germany and japan... the history books would look different, correct? would the actions of germany be more acceptable then or would they *still* have been wrong?
quote:
Let me see if I can illustrate my point here a little better, by moving away from Hitler (since he’s such an unequivocal and extreme example). Pick one of the following and we’ll see if we can determine whether the person was objectively moral or not: Alexander the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent, Peter the Great, Iyesu Tokugawa, William T. Sherman, William the Conqueror, Leopold II, Robert E. Lee, or Volodimyr I (that one might be a little obscure, but he happens to be a verrrry distant ancestor so I included him).
hmmm ok, volodimyr will do, you can tell me who he is
quote:
I can quite readily believe you reject the argument. However, you are committing a fallacy of division — that the properties of the aggregate or collective (in this case the normative principles of the German society of 1938) must be shared by each individual member of that aggregate. This is an especially obvious error when dealing with humans (remember the free will bit? It works just as well from a naturalism standpoint — I just don’t ascribe it to a gift from a deity.) Simply finding a single counter-example (or dozens) in this instance doesn’t refute my argument. To do that, you would have to show that the majority were afraid, etc, and this fear or whatever coerced them into violating the moral compass you claim exists. Feel free to provide evidence that the majority was coerced.
maybe it is fallacious, but i don't really think so... you made the statement that nazi germany was a proof that objective morality doesn't exist... my counter is simply that the numbers who practice evil at any one time don't disprove whether or not such a standard exists
quote:
That’s pretty much what I’ve been saying all along. However, have you considered the implications of what you wrote here? Objective morality doesn’t preclude? If so, then what evidence is there that such a thing exists? You may wish to reconsider or rephrase that statement.
i said *if* etc etc... "if objective morality exists it doesn't preclude free beings from forming their own brand of morality for reasons they hold important"... the germans were free to choose good or evil, right or wrong... without some objective standard by which to guage, who's to say whether or not their actual choice was one or the other? the vanguishing side? might makes right?
quote:
Feel free to explain what Lewis is talking about if it bolsters your case. OTOH, I made a specific prediction of what I would expect to see if no objective morality exists. I provided an example that seems to fit the bill — you have not shown the example is incorrect, merely asserted it. I have made another prediction — that we will be unable to discern specific evidence of cross-cultural morality (my challenge on the other thread). So far, that hasn’t been refuted either. You might want to make a stronger case, here.if objective morality exists it doesn't preclude free beings from forming their own brand of morality for reasons they hold important
lewis said what i've said, pretty much... that a man can't call a stick crooked unless he has some idea of what a straight stick looks like...
quote:
This appears to be another fallacy. Your conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow from your argument. Materialism does not automatically conclude that all worldviews are equally valid — which I think I pointed out.
what i've tried to say is, if one can't point to some standard then materialism *does* say just that... the societal/environmental mores you spoke of simply reduces itself to who has the best means of imposing a worldview on others at any point in time
quote:
I never said there was no good reason to intervene. I said there is no ultimate, universal, objective, disinterested justification for intervention.
i agree!! that's all i've been saying... but i *only* agree if there is no megaphysical, objective thing labeled "good"... only if, iow, the material is all that exists
quote:
(Ooops, I seem to have missed your post #47. Do you want me to go back to it or just carry on from here?)
only if there's anything you'd like to address from it

This message is a reply to:
 Message 54 by Quetzal, posted 12-18-2002 8:45 AM Quetzal has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 59 of 114 (27278)
12-18-2002 9:03 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by funkmasterfreaky
12-16-2002 8:59 AM


quote:
Originally posted by funkmasterfreaky:
"I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except through Me"
Jesus Christ is the way. Jesus Christ is the truth. Jesus Christ is life. And through his way of truth and life we may come to the Creator/Father.
We may pass unto understanding, and ABSOLUTE TRUTH through the grace of God bestowed upon us by Christ Jesus. Praise be to God Most High who reigns supreme, to him be all Glory, Honour and Praise. He has provided a way to reconcile us unto him, and to save our eternal soul. That he loves even the worst of us is incredible to me. He will even provide absolute truth.
And all God's people SAID?!!??!!

amen and amen

This message is a reply to:
 Message 35 by funkmasterfreaky, posted 12-16-2002 8:59 AM funkmasterfreaky has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 61 by graedek, posted 12-18-2002 9:31 PM forgiven has replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 60 of 114 (27279)
12-18-2002 9:29 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by robinrohan
12-18-2002 11:58 AM


let me take a crack at this to see if i understand
quote:
Originally posted by robinrohan:
I wrote, "nobody chooses wwhat they do with an act of free will. Their body operates according to physical laws."
My point is, we are our bodies. If materialism is true, there isn't anything else we can be. If there is anything else to us besides our bodies, then materialism is not true. There's no "me" choosing which physical laws are going to be operative and which are not in a given case.
i'm not sure materialism rules out choice (if that's what you're saying)... what it does is rule out any chance AT ALL that one choice is more ethically viable than another... however, i do see that "free will" (in this context) is only as free as the accidental chemical/electrical/molecular formations that make up each of us allows it to be... materialism says, we are as we are but we might have been different... we are constrained in our choices by the very materiality that governs the universe, and any semblance to free will is only illusion...
quote:
I don't have to because there is no such thing as soul. This was an "if" statement-and purely definitional. If there is to be free will, there must be something autonomous that is not dictated by physical laws. The traditional name for such a mythical entity is "soul."
i agree with this but i'm not sure if you're saying that you, robinrohan, have free will or not... do you say there is or is not more than the material?
quote:
Just because we can't predict somebody's actions, that does not mean that those actions are not determined.
just as, if a choice is foreknown that doesn't rule out the freedom to choose (sorry, thought i'd stick that in)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 57 by robinrohan, posted 12-18-2002 11:58 AM robinrohan has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 64 by robinrohan, posted 12-20-2002 3:51 PM forgiven has replied

  
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