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Are morals objective, or subjective

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    (Original post by Aleandcynicism)
    But then we're not really disagreeing and instead we're just talking past one another. If we had entirely different conceptions of morality we'd be talking about completely different things. It's as if I said to you 'that person's at the bank' and you replied 'no they're not!' when I'm talking about a financial institution and you're talking about a river bank.

    Isn't there more to the debate over femal circumcision than talking past one another? Isn't there actual moral disagreement?
    The main reason that people are against female circumcision are generally due to health risks and lack of consent for the procedure to be carried out whereas those supporting it do so generally due to concepts of honour. The moral disagreement is more whether consent is more important than honour. It would be due to how they were raised whether they would believe one is more important than the other.
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    (Original post by snozzle)
    Sure but they are perceived as objective/absolute or they have no meaning.

    I am kind of putting fwd a perspectivist position.

    To someone who believes in a morality to them the morality is an absolute standard of right and wrong, good and evil, sacred and profane....all other moralities they reject as false.
    Not everyone would believe that. It is completely possible for a person's moral beliefs to change with time. Of course a person would believe that their morals are "right" and reject other moral beliefs however that in itself displays the fact that morals are subjective.
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    (Original post by prog2djent)
    Its a human invention, subjective.

    Natural law/morality, I think, is objective. Things found in nature which happen automatically.

    Though you could argue, humans cannot control their chemical signals which form emotion which are the foundation for subjective morality, so I'd say its a mix of absolutism, grounded objectivity in natural morality, subjective man made laws, and relativism is correct, objectively, but with regards to human emotion and opinion being involved, relativism is amoral as our laws are subjective, but it is "right" in the logical sense, but not the "right" thing to act out with regards to humanity. If we were robots with no emotion only absolutism and objectivity could exist due to efficiency, there would be no need for relativism as values would all point towards a pre-programmed task.

    Which is factual logic IMHO.
    Science is a human invention. Is it subjective too?

    The rest of your post confused me.
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    On a quick off note, I'd urge everyone to read the wiki page in my sig. People regularly get into debates such as whether or not morality is objective without realising there's a whole academic field dedicated to it. It's pretty cool See error theory and expressivism for examples of metaethical theories which deny the existence of objective morals without sliding into relativism.

    (Original post by roar558)
    The main reason that people are against female circumcision are generally due to health risks and lack of consent for the procedure to be carried out whereas those supporting it do so generally due to concepts of honour. The moral disagreement is more whether consent is more important than honour. It would be due to how they were raised whether they would believe one is more important than the other.
    But now, by saying it's a debate as to whether consent and health risks are more important than honour, we're moving away from 'oh we can both be right' to an actual debate concerning the place of these in our moral thinking. Presumably each of us would want to make progress and convince the other person that we're right, so there's things like statistics, stories, general nature of the procedure etc. that we can bring in to support our cases. But this is a far cry from cultural relativism. That would say that our cultures dictate what is right and wrong for us, and so there'd be no grounds for a discussion of if female circumcision is good or bad. We'd both be right.

    EDIT:

    (Original post by roar558)
    Not everyone would believe that. It is completely possible for a person's moral beliefs to change with time. Of course a person would believe that their morals are "right" and reject other moral beliefs however that in itself displays the fact that morals are subjective.
    No it wouldn't. If an objective morality did exist, others could interpret them incorrectly or not have knowledge of them, and so you'd have every right to reject their morality if you believed that you were closer to an objective moral truth. This isn't necessarily an argument for an objective morality; it's one that moral disagreement doesn't prove subjectivism or relativism.

    Just because we both disagree and that our disagreements likely do stem from cultural differences doesn't mean that we can both be right or that we have no grounds to argue on. And as for cultural differences, bare in mind not everyone in a culture will agree with the societal morals. Not all Americans support the death penalty, for instance.
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    (Original post by snozzle)
    Science is a human invention. Is it subjective too?

    The rest of your post confused me.
    To some people it seems to be. However Science is itself not a human invention as such, we didn't invent science. We discovered it.
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    (Original post by roar558)
    Not everyone would believe that. It is completely possible for a person's moral beliefs to change with time. Of course a person would believe that their morals are "right" and reject other moral beliefs however that in itself displays the fact that morals are subjective.
    I think subjective implies we 'choose' a moral code as individuals but the fact that morality seems a historical and even geographical function would imply some 'social choice' is at work or at least social forces greater than the individual are at work.

    To somebody who changes their morality they would then perceive their previous morality as 'wrong', that implies some measure against something perceived as absolute i.e their new morality.
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    (Original post by roar558)
    To some people it seems to be. However Science is itself not a human invention as such, we didn't invent science. We discovered it.
    That is like saying Christianity was discovered.

    If one believes science can produce absolute/objective truths then you could argue we discover those truths, but the method we invented. Unless aliens or some previous civilization codified science before us and we copied/discovered it.
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    (Original post by snozzle)
    That is like saying Christianity was discovered.

    If one believes science can produce absolute/objective truths then you could argue we discover those truths, but the method we invented. Unless aliens or some previous civilization codified science before us and we copied/discovered it.
    Not really, there's a big difference between christianity and science. Christianity developed from a belief which formed it's basis. Science however developes from belief which is then tested to determine whether this belief is factual or not. Yes we developed the methods to test these beliefs however whether or not these beliefs are true is objective.
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    (Original post by snozzle)
    I think subjective implies we 'choose' a moral code as individuals but the fact that morality seems a historical and even geographical function would imply some 'social choice' is at work or at least social forces greater than the individual are at work.

    To somebody who changes their morality they would then perceive their previous morality as 'wrong', that implies some measure against something perceived as absolute i.e their new morality.
    Yes there are social forces greater than the individual at work, moral values can be taught. This results that people in similar areas (who are taught similar values) will hold similar moral values. As morality can be influenced in this way, it would be incorrect to say that it is objective.

    Yes they view their new morality as true however morality itself is subjective. You may view your own morality as objective however that morality is subjective.
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    (Original post by roar558)
    Not really, there's a big difference between christianity and science. Christianity developed from a belief which formed it's basis. Science however developes from belief which is then tested to determine whether this belief is factual or not. Yes we developed the methods to test these beliefs however whether or not these beliefs are true is objective.
    That's the laymen view of science as some inductive process which turns hypothesis into fact based on observations. As Popper pointed out there is no such thing as 'an observation' which is value free or does not use previous scientific 'theories' as assumptions. He reject the idea of scientific 'facts' as such because it is impossible to test a theory in every possible way an infinite number of times. This leads to the problem of 'infinite regress', where every theory is tested based on observations using other theories and no theories are wholly solid. He partly solves this by saying science is about falsification and a system of improving knowledge not arriving at 100% solid facts.
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    (Original post by Aleandcynicism)
    On a quick off note, I'd urge everyone to read the wiki page in my sig. People regularly get into debates such as whether or not morality is objective without realising there's a whole academic field dedicated to it. It's pretty cool See error theory and expressivism for examples of metaethical theories which deny the existence of objective morals without sliding into relativism.



    But now, by saying it's a debate as to whether consent and health risks are more important than honour, we're moving away from 'oh we can both be right' to an actual debate concerning the place of these in our moral thinking. Presumably each of us would want to make progress and convince the other person that we're right, so there's things like statistics, stories, general nature of the procedure etc. that we can bring in to support our cases. But this is a far cry from cultural relativism. That would say that our cultures dictate what is right and wrong for us, and so there'd be no grounds for a discussion of if female circumcision is good or bad. We'd both be right.

    EDIT:



    No it wouldn't. If an objective morality did exist, others could interpret them incorrectly or not have knowledge of them, and so you'd have every right to reject their morality if you believed that you were closer to an objective moral truth. This isn't necessarily an argument for an objective morality; it's one that moral disagreement doesn't prove subjectivism or relativism.

    Just because we both disagree and that our disagreements likely do stem from cultural differences doesn't mean that we can both be right or that we have no grounds to argue on. And as for cultural differences, bare in mind not everyone in a culture will agree with the societal morals. Not all Americans support the death penalty, for instance.
    But we can still both be right. I may disagree that honour is more important than consent and I may feel strongly enough to argue about it however that is not to say either person is wrong. There is a ground for the arguement other than in a moral standpoint. That female circumcision can have negative health effects is partially due to the fact that many of those who agree to carry out the procedure, do it in poor conditions.

    The fact that not all americans support the death penalty is again largely due to how they were raised. Those who strongly believe that it is wrong are often raised to believe that killing is wrong in any case. The fact that they are raised in a similar area does not necessarily mean that they all recieve the same upbringing.
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    I'd say subjective . . . there are always conditions that could challenge an absolute moral.
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    (Original post by snozzle)
    That's the laymen view of science as some inductive process which turns hypothesis into fact based on observations. As Popper pointed out there is no such thing as 'an observation' which is value free or does not use previous scientific 'theories' as assumptions. He reject the idea of scientific 'facts' as such because it is impossible to test a theory in every possible way an infinite number of times. This leads to the problem of 'infinite regress', where every theory is tested based on observations using other theories and no theories are wholly solid. He partly solves this by saying science is about falsification and a system of improving knowledge not arriving at 100% solid facts.
    Yes that is perfectly true however it would be wrong to say that just because a theory has not been tested infinite times, it is impossible to verify. You can make the theory more reliable by testing it more and more times however provided the tests are valid, it is perfectly possible to verify. Of course we sometimes find that some prior theories were verified using invalid test and so we improve our test as to make them valid. The aim of science is to improve knowledge about objective laws.
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    (Original post by Aleandcynicism)
    How then do you account for moral disagreement? If morals are subjective as you have described and I was debating with someone from another culture that female circumcision is wrong, whilst he believed it to be right, where would the disagreement be? We would, according to cultural relativism, both be right.
    Im not saying that one culture is correct and one wrong, instead just linking how morals typically are similar within cultures and societies.
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    (Original post by roar558)
    Yes that is perfectly true however it would be wrong to say that just because a theory has not been tested infinite times, it is impossible to verify. You can make the theory more reliable by testing it more and more times however provided the tests are valid, it is perfectly possible to verify. Of course we sometimes find that some prior theories were verified using invalid test and so we improve our test as to make them valid. The aim of science is to improve knowledge about objective laws.
    Well I would need to read up again on this, but Popper was saying you cannot ever verify a theory only falsify it. I theory might be 'proved true' by countless observations but then a new way of testing it comes a long and it falls over, for example Ptolomy's geocentric model seemed to account for all observations for a very long time indeed. The point about testing an infinite number of times is largely philosophical, if you do the same test 100 times how do you know it will not give a different result next time? You don't.

    Yes you are right it is to improve knowledge that is what Popper was on about. I am not sure all schools of philosophy of science accept that an objective truth exists. I think the logical positivists said it was not the scope of science to say this was so or not, just to produce scientific truths.
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    (Original post by snozzle)
    Well I would need to read up again on this, but Popper was saying you cannot ever verify a theory only falsify it. I theory might be 'proved true' by countless observations but then a new way of testing it comes a long and it falls over, for example Ptolomy's geocentric model seemed to account for all observations for a very long time indeed. The point about testing an infinite number of times is largely philosophical, if you do the same test 100 times how do you know it will not give a different result next time? You don't.

    Yes you are right it is to improve knowledge that is what Popper was on about. I am not sure all schools of philosophy of science accept that an objective truth exists. I think the logical positivists said it was not the scope of science to say this was so or not, just to produce scientific truths.
    Yes which is why I talked about improving invalid experiments to make them valid. Science's aim is to improve knowledge, the eventual aim must therefore to find the factually correct scientific truths, and thus the objective truth.
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    (Original post by roar558)
    But we can still both be right. I may disagree that honour is more important than consent and I may feel strongly enough to argue about it however that is not to say either person is wrong. There is a ground for the arguement other than in a moral standpoint. That female circumcision can have negative health effects is partially due to the fact that many of those who agree to carry out the procedure, do it in poor conditions.

    The fact that not all americans support the death penalty is again largely due to how they were raised. Those who strongly believe that it is wrong are often raised to believe that killing is wrong in any case. The fact that they are raised in a similar area does not necessarily mean that they all recieve the same upbringing.
    Then why bother arguing about it if neither person can be wrong? What would be your purpose in that argument?

    Yes, there is ground for the argument other than morality. But this discussion of how we can get involved in discussions as to whether or not honour is more important than health and wellbeing still goes to show there is disagreement, and the nature of what we've been talking about goes to show it would be a moral disagreement. I can't see what else it would be. And since we clearly would be having a moral disagreement, I can't see how cultural relativism could be true, as it goes back to how there would be disagreement. Either we wouldn't be talking morally despite outward appearances or we are actually having a moral disagreement.
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    (Original post by Aleandcynicism)
    Then why bother arguing about it if neither person can be wrong? What would be your purpose in that argument?

    Yes, there is ground for the argument other than morality. But this discussion of how we can get involved in discussions as to whether or not honour is more important than health and wellbeing still goes to show there is disagreement, and the nature of what we've been talking about goes to show it would be a moral disagreement. I can't see what else it would be. And since we clearly would be having a moral disagreement, I can't see how cultural relativism could be true, as it goes back to how there would be disagreement. Either we wouldn't be talking morally despite outward appearances or we are actually having a moral disagreement.
    The reason we would be arguing who's right and who's wrong would be to convince the other that our moral standpoint has merit.
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    (Original post by Aleandcynicism)
    How then do you account for moral disagreement? If morals are subjective as you have described and I was debating with someone from another culture that female circumcision is wrong, whilst he believed it to be right, where would the disagreement be? We would, according to cultural relativism, both be right.
    Not necessarily. We can argue on the basis of empircism. For instance, if we look at slavery as an act during the 17-18th centuries, it was justified on popular scientifically-false beliefs such as the idea that somehow Africans were intellectually inferior to the Europeans. Therefore, the Africans didn't have to be treated as humans and could be used as slaves. However now through brain scans, psychology and other scientific instruments and studies, we know that Africans have exactly the same brain capacity as anyone else. Therefore, in modern society, slavery is mostly outlawed. The moral progress here didn't depend on us knowing an ethical truth, it depended on us knowing scientific facts which exposed our ignorance and increased our capacity for reason. We can as a result, then condemn countries which endorse slavery because they are making a logical mistake; the relativist would argue that we don't need an ethical truth to do this.

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