The Moral Argument

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So we hear the moral argument a lot in religious debates.

It goes something like this: “No objective moral truths exist without an objective moral foundation. God provides that objective moral foundation. (Therefore god exists)”.

Obviously simplified for the purposes of this discussion, but feel free to wiki it for a more detailed and rigorous explanation.

Atheists and non-theists often try to discredit this by saying we have an evolutionary basis for morality in reciprocating kindness, for the purposes of the continuation of our specifies.

What I don’t often see though are atheists and non-theists claiming that an objective moral foundation does not exist, or regardless of it existing, whether it matters.
The power of the argument relies on us accepting that objective moral foundations exist, and indeed that they matter.
I ask why is this?

What is your view? Do objective moral truths matter?
If you are religious, why do you value objective moral truths.
If you are a non-theist, why do objective moral truths matter to you? Or if they don’t, why not?

Please note I’m not asking if objective moral truths exist per se, but feel free to discuss this (although not as the focal point of this topic).

 
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Most atheists realize that morality promotes a better society. Its all that really protects us from people doing their own thing and walking over others.

 
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Many of the people on this forum are misfits of society. They make these arguments to make themselves feel better about who or what they are. Look at the titles of many of the threads on this forum. They are threads arguing for anything that flies in the face of societal norms. These are the people whose lifestyles are not accepted by society and they want to destroy society and it’s morals to feel normal.

 
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Originally posted by jhco50:

Many of the people on this forum are misfits of society.

You just like labeling people, don’t you?

They make these arguments to make themselves feel better about who or what they are. Look at the titles of many of the threads on this forum. They are threads arguing for anything that flies in the face of societal norms.

… You forgot why this forum exists, didn’t you?

These are the people whose lifestyles are not accepted by society and they want to destroy society and it’s morals to feel normal.

Except that the people who are the closest to that (though I have yet to see one that seems genuinely serious) are few and far between, and they don’t repeat their beliefs about this often, not helped that a lot of them aren’t very prominent users in this forum.

 
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Originally posted by jhco50:

Many of the people on this forum are misfits of society. They make these arguments to make themselves feel better about who or what they are. Look at the titles of many of the threads on this forum. They are threads arguing for anything that flies in the face of societal norms. These are the people whose lifestyles are not accepted by society and they want to destroy society and it’s morals to feel normal.

There are quite a few views expressed on this forum that I agree with (although not necessarily with the reasoning provided).

Care to tell me which views makes one a misfit?

 
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Originally posted by tenco1:
Originally posted by jhco50:

Many of the people on this forum are misfits of society.

You just like labeling people, don’t you?

They make these arguments to make themselves feel better about who or what they are. Look at the titles of many of the threads on this forum. They are threads arguing for anything that flies in the face of societal norms.

… You forgot why this forum exists, didn’t you?

These are the people whose lifestyles are not accepted by society and they want to destroy society and it’s morals to feel normal.

Except that the people who are the closest to that (though I have yet to see one that seems genuinely serious) are few and far between, and they don’t repeat their beliefs about this often, not helped that a lot of them aren’t very prominent users in this forum.

Think about it Tenco. Look at the titles of the threads. Do you really think these people are pillars of society?

 
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Originally posted by jhco50:

Think about it Tenco. Look at the titles of the threads. Do you really think these people are pillars of society?

“Never jurdge a book by its couva.”
-Some drunk guy that looked intellectual.

 
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Originally posted by Ketsy:

Care to tell me which views makes one a misfit?

Views that disagree with Jhco, obviously.


There is no objective moral state, that much is certainly true, Arreats. Thus there is no discrediting going on; simply an acknowledgement of the reality of the situation: Each individual has their own moral code, and these moral codes are going to be different for each individual.

However, in order to function as a society, we must have a common set of morals to refer to. Since there is no natural common set of morals, we have to create one. This is why different societies end up with different moral codes: They’ve each created a code of morals that their members can agree on.

Objective ‘moral truths’ don’t matter because there aren’t any. However, we need relative morals in order to function as a society. Even within a society there is need for multiple different specialised moral codes within each branch of specialised knowledge.

The one i’m most familiar with being the Medical board of ethics. A committee whose sole purpose is to ensure all medical procedures and research under their domain follows the same standardised set of morals if it is to proceed. We need such boards, precisely because of the inherent lack of standardised morals across all sentient life. They enforce a standardised approach which is otherwise lacking.

 
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Said argument probably is nonsense, as it has been said that no objectivity needs to exist for morality to exist, and even then, it is uncertain how this god would fabricate an objective morality, since it is uncertain what even would constitute an objective morality. Evolutionary subjective morality of the nicer kind makes sense, however, as it does help to get people working together in tandem and stop them killing each other so much.

These are the people whose lifestyles are not accepted by society and they want to destroy society and it’s morals to feel normal.

This is the mentality that abnormality equates to evil, yes? Have you ever so possibly considered that common society may have gotten things just a little bit wrong, or that normalcy doesn’t mean it is good and wonderful?

 
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This topic is seemingly the same as the one about subjective morality, though it slightly deviates.

What is your view? Do objective moral truths matter?

Matter? In the mentioned topic I’ve spoken about the supposed objectivity of morality. This goes as far as it being documented, it being used by many, it being an excuse for judging others, and it being an excuse to punish others. The “inherent wrongness” of objectivity is not brought up by me, as there is no scientific proof for that. As such, and this is important, it is subjective for you to think that morals can be objectively and inherently wrong. Since you don’t want to argue that, I’ll give a short reply about those who follow a believed objective moral system.

It matters. These people so strongly wish for the world to have their views, so strongly wish for certain actions to be wrong, they call on objectivity of morals to have a peace of heart about “immoral actions” performed by others. They cannot accept subjectivity of morals in the sense that some people are homosexuals, or think scientifically about the existence of God. They wish for a being higher than all of us to tell them that they are right, and others are wrong. This makes them feel at ease. It is important for them to feel at ease, otherwise they will not function in society. They are not correct in their views, but their views makes them a good neighbour and without them they wouldn’t be.

If you are religious, why do you value objective moral truths.

Hold on, you’re equating being religious to “valuing objective moral truths”. I’m the former, but I don’t do the latter.

Many of the people on this forum are misfits of society. They make these arguments to make themselves feel better about who or what they are. Look at the titles of many of the threads on this forum. They are threads arguing for anything that flies in the face of societal norms. These are the people whose lifestyles are not accepted by society and they want to destroy society and it’s morals to feel normal.

Jhco is an example of the insecure who feel the need to invoke an objective moral system which tells them they are objectively right, feeling peace of the heart that those they deem immoral are deemed objectively immoral by their system. This is not right or wrong (indeed, since I follow the subjective moral system I cannot claim they are objectively wrong), but I, personally, look down upon it. It is nonsensical insulting towards those who do not follow their system, but I suppose the alternative of them going crazy for not being objectively right in their eyes is much worse.

 
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Originally posted by Darkruler2005:

I suppose the alternative of them going crazy for not being objectively right in their eyes is much worse.

Assuming we cannot come up with a compromise system to slowly deal with this mental imbalance, like we would deal with any other, yes. I suspect if we allowed this realisation to develop, and not be suppressed in these individuals, then treated the mental distress as it arose, we could work them back into society as stable individuals – but without this need to put everyone else down for their own insecurities’ sake.

For that matter, simply treat the insecurity, and the whole problem vanishes.

I say ‘simply’, but the logistics of such a task would be mindboggling. We cannot even cope with mental disorder treatment as is, without expanding the net still further.

 
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In a debate with William Lane Craig, he said that the objective morality exists without stating why. The closest he got was, because “deep down, we all know it does…”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBx4vvlbZ8 00:27:00

This pretty much sums it up for me. Objective morality is, for these people, just really really strong subjective morality, thus, the Moral Argument is flawed.

EDIT: It matters because some people believe that without objective morality, nobody would be moral. I am disgusted by these people.

 
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I’m going to throw in the argument that I believe objective moralists can be considered immoral by manipulating others around them into believing their view somehow can be objectively proven to be correct, and that there are some people objectively proven to be incorrect, so that group of people should be punished (by invoking a God who wishes for it, for example). Obviously, I won’t mind if the objective moralists point at murderers or rapists, but I mind in general they dismiss them for being “objectively wrong” instead of “harming individuals in society that help build it up”.

I say ‘simply’, but the logistics of such a task would be mindboggling.

Yeah, unfortunately, as I do think it’s a dangerous thing.

 
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Originally posted by vikaTae:
Originally posted by Darkruler2005:

I suppose the alternative of them going crazy for not being objectively right in their eyes is much worse.

Assuming we cannot come up with a compromise system to slowly deal with this mental imbalance, like we would deal with any other, yes. I suspect if we allowed this realisation to develop, and not be suppressed in these individuals, then treated the mental distress as it arose, we could work them back into society as stable individuals – but without this need to put everyone else down for their own insecurities’ sake.

For that matter, simply treat the insecurity, and the whole problem vanishes.

I say ‘simply’, but the logistics of such a task would be mindboggling. We cannot even cope with mental disorder treatment as is, without expanding the net still further.

Ma’am, from your own posts you live a lifestyle that isn’t accepted by the society you presently live in. I’m sure it isn’t accepted in the United States either. Yet, you maintain the thought you are moral. I was raised to be moral, to know the difference between right and wrong. These morals you consider a mental deficiency are the accepted morals of a moral society. For you to promote the idea of having strong morals as a mental imbalance tells me you are unfamiliar with the term moral in your upbringing.

Mr. Darkruler, are you suggesting a deviance from what your society considers acceptable is a good thing and your leniency to those with objective morals is from the goodness of your heart?

What is morality? It is the quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct, a system of ideas of right and wrong conduct. This system makes a difference in how we perceive life. What do you consider right or wrong? At what point do you deem something to be wrong. Does your moral compass follow societal norms or does it deviate to a point it is unacceptable?

So what are values? They represent the ability to put a comparison, a value, to your morals with those of society. Are they accepted by the society you live in? If not, perhaps your values are weak. Possibly the value you assign to your moral compass is nonexistent or weak according to societal norms.

You are judging others by your morals and values, yet you may be judging from a weak position. Is the person you are judging using morals acceptable as normal from his societal view? I’m sure that doesn’t mean your target isn’t a mental misfit, but rather the norm.

 
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Originally posted by ColtArmy:

Ma’am, from your own posts you live a lifestyle that isn’t accepted by the society you presently live in. I’m sure it isn’t accepted in the United States either. Yet, you maintain the thought you are moral. I was raised to be moral, to know the difference between right and wrong. These morals you consider a mental deficiency are the accepted morals of a moral society. For you to promote the idea of having strong morals as a mental imbalance tells me you are unfamiliar with the term moral in your upbringing.

I am moral. Everyone is. Its just that my own morals differ wildly from yours. Does not make me any less moral than you, just makes my morality different.

I’m still bound by our culture’s definition of morals when I interact with it. I’m bound by the ethics and morality policies of NHS Lothian in my professional work, so my morality – like yours – is imposed by an external entity, when it matters – ie when I am interacting with society.

Outside of that interaction, my moral compass is free to point wherever it chooses to, pretty much. It chooses to point towards helping others and finding ways to overcome physical limitation – my moral compass is precisely why I am as super-liberal as I am, and where I butt heads with many of societies’ established conventions.

Everyone’s morality is unique, which is why we need outside agencies to define what our morality should be when we interact with others, regardless of what our moralities actually are. Different boards, much like different individuals, come up with different conclusions on morality.

You are judging others by your morals and values, yet you may be judging from a weak position. Is the person you are judging using morals acceptable as normal from his societal view? I’m sure that doesn’t mean your target isn’t a mental misfit, but rather the norm.

It comes down to whether or not their morals are harming other members of society when they interact. If those morals are harmful to other members of society, then they are incorrect morals from an interaction with society perspective. That individual is free to hold whatever moral stance they choose to of course, but their moral compass when they interact with society, must be adjusted. If they only interact with society, and don’t live outside of it, then their moral compass may as well be adjusted permanently, to comply with society’s demands. It causes far less stress on the mind that way, and weaker minds cannot handle such stress well. They are rather brittle and snap too easily, as DarkRuler pointed out.

You’d need to do a full psychological workup on the individual concerned, to determine the best course to take. Education on interaction with others, or a full compass moral realignment.

 
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Your first paragraph is suggesting facts that aren’t facts, so I hope to correct them all in the replies to the other paragraphs.

Mr. Darkruler, are you suggesting a deviance from what your society considers acceptable is a good thing

Here we start. “Good” thing is a subjective issue. I certainly think deviating from what your society considers acceptable pisses off quite a few people. I also think that if it breaks laws, you’ll be fined or worse. But suppressing others’ views simply because they’re different? That is a dictatorship on thought processes.

What is morality? It is the quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct, a system of ideas of right and wrong conduct.

No. No, it really isn’t. You are suggesting something slightly different, but the difference is important. You are considered immoral, by others, if you deviate from a standard conduct that is used by the majority of people. You are considered to be breaking the law if you deviate from the government’s morals. Likewise, everyone else is considered immoral by you if you hold extreme views. This is all personal. Even you, with your objective morality system, cannot claim that those outside of your morality system do not have morals. It leaves a wound to not be able to say that, yes, even if you’ve already got your objective morality system backing you up, but their own views are their own morals. It is simply a question of definitions.

What do you consider right or wrong? At what point do you deem something to be wrong. Does your moral compass follow societal norms or does it deviate to a point it is unacceptable?

The majority of my views are acceptable by society. That does not make me objectively right or wrong. It makes me more or less moral to society’s views, but not necessarily to everyone.

So what are values? They represent the ability to put a comparison, a value, to your morals with those of society. Are they accepted by the society you live in? If not, perhaps your values are weak. Possibly the value you assign to your moral compass is nonexistent or weak according to societal norms.

But the latter is important to emphasise. If it is weak according to society, then obviously you do not really follow their morality system. This does not mean it is inherently weak according to your own morality system. And certainly not to some mysterious objective morality system in which everyone “should” be settling.

You are judging others by your morals and values, yet you may be judging from a weak position. Is the person you are judging using morals acceptable as normal from his societal view? I’m sure that doesn’t mean your target isn’t a mental misfit, but rather the norm.

“The norm” is simply saying that there is a current morality system in effect with the majority of people. This changes over time. The majority of people now think very differently from the majority of people in the past. Morals change, and are different between individuals. That you happen to be part of the majority does not make your view stronger. It simply makes you more capable of harassing those you disagree with. Nothing more.

As for this specific line:

I was raised to be moral, to know the difference between right and wrong.

No. You were raised to accept the morals of the current society you live in. These morals are different from those in the past, and likely the future. These morals are even different from the morals in other societies. You were raised to know the difference between your society’s concept of right and your society’s concept of wrong. Your clean mind has been raised to think like them, and to want such a system to continue. Not everyone agrees, and not everyone originally was meant to think like that. Perhaps I’m moving ahead of myself right now, but these basics are important.

I think a last pointer I would like to make adds on to Vika’s argument that certain morals can be harmful to other members of society. We don’t really care if your personal morals are to never have an abortion and to make sure you don’t need one. We care if you start interfering with homosexuals’ lives by forcing your objective morality system upon them (as if they should be included), and abusing your power as a majority to make it happen. I will not argue you are objectively wrong, but I will argue that morals not interfering with anyone else are vastly superior to morals interfering with other people’s lives. Society will be the best place to live in if you restrict as little people as possible opposed to others. In other words, no discrimination, but also no full-blown reduction of life for everyone (in, for example, a dictatorship where everyone is forced to pay high taxes).

Your morals, I assume, are similar to those I pointed out before. Some of your morals are harmful to certain people in society. This makes you the “misfits of society”, by even inventing such a word, and labelling a certain group of people as such.

 
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If you are a non-theist, why do objective moral truths matter to you? Or if they don’t, why not?

because without morals there’d be anomie, and we’d all be in much worse shape. seems like a no-brainer…

but i’ve got a feeling you had some rhetoric ready for this, so out with it already!

 
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As a gnostic atheist with over 200 comfirmed hours into the self-study of religion, I think that all churches are effectively void, specifically with their teachings taken word-for-word, in comtemporary society. In my opinion, all beings should look for the answer in the goal toself-enlighten – not fall in line with current beliefs, or with family decisions, nor even take a page from their best friends. Literally, answer the question completely solo, “Why are we here/Who am I?”

 
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Solo? No values taken from others? I’d say that is quite impossible. Kids should be raised by at least someone else, as they should learn important issues, and how to figure out what is important. It is certain you will be taught morals on the way.

 
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Nice to know this forum still exists.

If you are a non-theist, why do objective moral truths matter to you? Or if they don’t, why not?

There are no objective morals, but it’s useful to pretend that there is to some extent, because that’s how laws come about. Collective subjective morality would be a better way to describe laws and the customs of a society, but in terms of actual application, there is very little difference. Either way, you have an external set of “rules” that all members of a society are required to follow. That’s pretty important, because without that, you can’t have a society.

 
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Long story short, in nature, humans are brutal, cruel creatures. Out of nature, as we are, we are selfish- does helping someone NOT improve your mood? make you feel better? If so, then every time you be kind, you are being selfish. I believe ‘morals’ is just a barrier… I am a selfish person, and I greatly enjoy teaching/helping people.