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What is morality? watch

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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    No its not contradictory, you misunderstand.
    The basis for morality are built in at a cortical level, but at the same time, are relatively subjective in that there is significant variation, as belief systems determining morality can be manipulated and change over time.
    This is basically like an argument for universal grammar. However, your argument doesn't work. (1) If the basis is 'built in', then we ought to see some sort of connecting thing between all 'versions' of morality. (2) Your methodology is completely erroneous. You're using what people think about morality to assert what the nature of morality is.

    Morality could be objective and independent from human consciousness, making moral propositions true or false, good or bad, based on the semantics of the statement and regardless of subjective beliefs. And so and and so forth for any other type of possible meta-ethics.

    You're asserting meta-ethical statements on the basis of improper evidence. Psychological data can tell us only what people think about morality; not what morality is.
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    I'm an emotivist.
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    (Original post by Plantagenet Crown)
    I don't believe there is such a thing as an objective morality, i.e. An inviolable set of rules set down by a God. Morality appears to be subjective and something that we've come up with to live more cooperatively and harmoniously with each other.
    (Original post by da_nolo)
    Is it objective or subjective or something else completely?

    Where does it come from or is it a conscious creation?

    Are we born with some connection to morality or is it purely environmental?
    (Original post by MAINE.)
    No evidence to suggest there is a such thing as objective morality....I'll let you figure out the rest.
    (Original post by hellodave5)
    Morals are both inbuilt into us as humans, shown by research whereby morals are shown in infants - often using liking/dislike of puppets which do actions which are judged as good/bad.
    It involves empathy whereby you feel what others feel - which is rather complex and tied in to brain functioning at a deep seated level, I think.
    Morality makes humans what we are. We would never be what we are if we couldn't co-operate with each other. But I suppose in this way I suppose other animals with complex development have morality too (dogs, cats, apes etc.).
    Its completely subjective - in that it is both defined on a personal level with your beliefs, and influenced by societal beliefs (and associated belief systems).
    (Original post by Kiytt)
    I believe morality is entirely subjective; our perception of moral right and moral wrong is moulded by our life experiences, social influences and interactions.

    It is not a conscious creation by any means; our moral compass is merely an inherent byproduct of our species' superior intellect and cognitive capacity. The human ego seeks to simplify what it is capable of comprehending, and does this by categorising certain actions and beliefs across a spectrum of right and wrong—and we use this as guidance to justify our decisions in day-to-day life. We refer to this as our "conscience", and this could be considered a subconscious creation of the psyche.

    Our ability to comprehend our surroundings and experiences is interdependent upon our capacity for empathy, ultimately affecting our conscience; brain damage often leads to limited comprehension, which reduces our capacity for empathy and therefore hinders the effectiveness of our conscience (or nullifies it entirely).
    So many moral nihilists and subjectivists here!

    Objective moral values can be arrived at through reason, as the great philosopher Henry Sidgwick demonstrated.

    Every sentient being aims to minimise its own suffering and maximise the satisfaction of its interests. However, there is no rational justification for anyone to assign more importance to their suffering, or their interests, than to anyone else's: their suffering is no less real when they experience it than when you do. Thus, if we are to aim to minimise our suffering, and maximise the satisfaction of our interests – which it is impossible not to – it logically follows that we are obligated to do the same for others. Hence, we come as close to an objective morality as possible, in the form of utilitarianism; specifically, preference utilitarianism. This moral system is also universal, given that there is not a sentient being out there which does not try to maximise the satisfaction of its interests, and minimise its suffering.

    Another way to get there is to recognise that, say, suffering, is bad for all sentient beings. It is, one could therefore state, objectively bad. Given that morality is about doing good, and preventing bad, then, objectively, we ought to be minimising the suffering of everyone; that is, minimising the bad in the world. As Magnus Vinding puts it: suffering and its inherent badness is a fact about consciousness, and this is not a made-up value statement, anymore than the assertion that the moon exists is a made-up value statement and something we could decide to change. We cannot just decide that suffering is not bad.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    This is basically like an argument for universal grammar. However, your argument doesn't work. (1) If the basis is 'built in', then we ought to see some sort of connecting thing between all 'versions' of morality. (2) Your methodology is completely erroneous. You're using what people think about morality to assert what the nature of morality is.

    Morality could be objective and independent from human consciousness, making moral propositions true or false, good or bad, based on the semantics of the statement and regardless of subjective beliefs. And so and and so forth for any other type of possible meta-ethics.

    You're asserting meta-ethical statements on the basis of improper evidence. Psychological data can tell us only what people think about morality; not what morality is.
    I'm pretty sure morality is a construct we create or is inherent to living beings that are conscious and need to co-operate to survive. So if we aren't talking about morality in the context of living things, then whats the point in this discussion? Not a dig, but I'm trying to understand at what you're trying to get at.

    Your 2 statements are very vague:

    "(1) If the basis is 'built in', then we ought to see some sort of connecting thing between all 'versions' of morality. (2) Your methodology is completely erroneous. You're using what people think about morality to assert what the nature of morality is."

    Can you extrapolate what you mean by these?

    Also, generally, what is your overall view on morality?
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    (Original post by viddy9)
    So many moral nihilists and subjectivists here!

    Objective moral values can be arrived at through reason, as the great philosopher Henry Sidgwick demonstrated.

    Every sentient being aims to minimise its own suffering and maximise the satisfaction of its interests. However, there is no rational justification for anyone to assign more importance to their suffering, or their interests, than to anyone else's: their suffering is no less real when they experience it than when you do. Thus, if we are to aim to minimise our suffering, and maximise the satisfaction of our interests – which it is impossible not to – it logically follows that we are obligated to do the same for others. Hence, we come as close to an objective morality as possible, in the form of utilitarianism; specifically, preference utilitarianism. This moral system is also universal, given that there is not a sentient being out there which does not try to maximise the satisfaction of its interests, and minimise its suffering.

    Another way to get there is to recognise that, say, suffering, is bad for all sentient beings. It is, one could therefore state, objectively bad. Given that morality is about doing good, and preventing bad, then, objectively, we ought to be minimising the suffering of everyone; that is, minimising the bad in the world. As Magnus Vinding puts it: suffering and its inherent badness is a fact about consciousness, and this is not a made-up value statement, anymore than the assertion that the moon exists is a made-up value statement and something we could decide to change. We cannot just decide that suffering is not bad.
    But people are not always rational though (usually not rational, even)?
    For instance, people put 'but's' on to if their moral code (which as you say, can be objective), in that you can pick and choose when it is applied.

    Beliefs aren't set in stone either, and global beliefs within culture have significance in what is deemed moral to do. Sure, some things are biologically programmed as 'bad' in that they are always highly detrimental to the other organism and to the society to which you belong (like murder), but for the smaller and more arbitrary things which are deemed moral or immoral, I would have thought that be different? (as these things aren't in any logical way detrimental, not not accepted within that particular society at that particular time).
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    (Original post by picklescamp)
    I'm an emotivist.
    Let's say I'm a murderer. Should I murder again? Should I be thrown in jail for my crime?
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    But people are not always rational though (usually not rational, even)?
    For instance, people put 'but's' on to if their moral code (which as you say, can be objective), in that you can pick and choose when it is applied.

    Beliefs aren't set in stone either, and global beliefs within culture have significance in what is deemed moral to do. Sure, some things are biologically programmed as 'bad' in that they are always highly detrimental to the other organism and to the society to which you belong (like murder), but for the smaller and more arbitrary things which are deemed moral or immoral, I would have thought that be different? (as these things aren't in any logical way detrimental, not not accepted within that particular society at that particular time).
    Yes, they are different, and your point is?

    That doesn't in anyway undermine the objectivity of morality. Objective morality =/= universal morality.

    The subjective/objective debate concerns the question - Can moral claims be true and if so what makes them true? There are three broad responses to this question.

    The first is moral objectivism which is the most intuitive view by far and suggests that moral claims can be true and thereby there are moral facts and that these moral facts are made true by something other than the opinions of any human or group of humans. Different objectivists will argue about what exactly it is that makes it true.

    The second is moral subjectivism. Moral subjectivist approaches concede that moral claims may be true but what makes them true is either the beliefs of the person making the claim, the beliefs of the person considering the morality of the claim, the beliefs of an ideal observer considering the claim, the beliefs of a deity on the claim, the beliefs of a God on the claim. Do you see the similarities? Subjectivist views all argue that some sentient being, or a group of sentient being's beliefs about moral claims are what dictates whether or not they are true or false.

    Thirdly you have the non-cognitivist approaches which simply outright deny that moral claims can be true in the first place. There are numerous different reasons for them doing this based on their own separate theories, but this is the other approach one may take.
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    (Original post by da_nolo)
    May morality be "graded" or measured upon a scale?
    I think it should be fairly obvious that the morality of actions occurs on a spectrum of more good/less good. It isn't just discretely good/bad/amoral. This is because it seems to me any sensible normative theory of ethics would be empirical. And so based on the empirical facts of the matter things can be more or less good.
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    But people are not always rational though (usually not rational, even)?
    For instance, people put 'but's' on to if their moral code (which as you say, can be objective), in that you can pick and choose when it is applied.
    That's certainly true, but it doesn't have a bearing on whether objective moral values actually exist or not. I contend that they do, and that we can reach them through the use of reason and logic, as shown above.

    People can choose whether to be moral or not, but if they choose not to, they are being objectively immoral.

    (Original post by hellodave5)
    Beliefs aren't set in stone either, and global beliefs within culture have significance in what is deemed moral to do. Sure, some things are biologically programmed as 'bad' in that they are always highly detrimental to the other organism and to the society to which you belong (like murder), but for the smaller and more arbitrary things which are deemed moral or immoral, I would have thought that be different? (as these things aren't in any logical way detrimental, not not accepted within that particular society at that particular time).
    I would say that the smaller, more arbitrary things always come down to preference-satisfaction and suffering at the end of the day, however.

    A good example is homosexual behaviour. In the 1700s, it was, of course, mostly frowned upon. But, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham reasoned his way to utilitarianism, and even though he personally had an aversion to homosexual behaviour (as would have been the case for most people in that time), he realised that his personal 'disgust' didn't mean that homosexual behaviour was immoral.

    For homosexuals, the behaviour, of course, brought them happiness, mostly in private too, so he concluded that, despite his personal disgust, their preferences, or happiness, far outweighed his own disgust or suffering.

    Bentham is a great example of someone who reached the objective moral system of utilitarianism and thus overcame the prejudices of his time and his culture: as well as gay rights, he was a proponent of women's rights, the abolition of slavery, the abolition of the death penalty, the abolition of corporal punishment and animal rights, all of this in the 1700s.
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    (Original post by viddy9)
    That's certainly true, but it doesn't have a bearing on whether objective moral values actually exist or not. I contend that they do, and that we can reach them through the use of reason and logic, as shown above.

    People can choose whether to be moral or not, but if they choose not to, they are being objectively immoral.



    I would say that the smaller, more arbitrary things always come down to preference-satisfaction and suffering at the end of the day, however.

    A good example is homosexual behaviour. In the 1700s, it was, of course, mostly frowned upon. But, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham reasoned his way to utilitarianism, and even though he personally had an aversion to homosexual behaviour (as would have been the case for most people in that time), he realised that his personal 'disgust' didn't mean that homosexual behaviour was immoral.

    For homosexuals, the behaviour, of course, brought them happiness, mostly in private too, so he concluded that, despite his personal disgust, their preferences, or happiness, far outweighed his own disgust or suffering.
    Interesting! I now see what you and NYU2012 mean to some extent I think, now, maybe.
    Though would that not assume that humans actively make decisions though? It seems more like a computational systemic morality calculation without error which would work in an organism which calculates everything they do; but humans rely extremely heavily on biases to function. Higher functioning people will I guess recognise these biases and countermeasure them in instances they aren't useful, maybe like 'Jeremy B'.
    So I guess although maybe you could define objectively morality (really interesting notion!) - I'm not sure where this would stand with highly flawed biological systems.
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    (Original post by TorpidPhil)
    Let's say I'm a murderer. Should I murder again? Should I be thrown in jail for my crime?
    it's a morally grey area. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that morally it is wrong, but I don't like murder because it makes me sad and this is why I react against it. Consequences of acts have nothing to do with morals, they merely exist to help society function in a way which suits the majority.
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    Morality, is arguably just a system like any other (laws, rites of passage, religion..) which has been constructed to create a civilised, developed society - take morality away from this system, either completely or partially - and you no longer have a functioning* society. You can see this with Assad in Syria etc.

    The only difference is that like many other posters argued, morality feels more innate and personal. But really it is subjective to development so everyone is right(ish).

    There is no morality in the animal kingdom, for the most part!

    *though this functioning is based on moral foundations - the most common in the modern world, and is not the only paradigm in which a society succeeds in its ideal.

    So to answer the question: "what is morality?" I would suggest embarking upon a Philosophy degree, then a postgrad and continue for decades asking the same question - and then end up at the exact same point that every philosopher reaches; there is no answer, only the question!
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    (Original post by picklescamp)
    it's a morally grey area. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that morally it is wrong, but I don't like murder because it makes me sad and this is why I react against it. Consequences of acts have nothing to do with morals, they merely exist to help society function in a way which suits the majority.
    I don't care about your feelings. Murdering you would make me happy becuase I find you obnoxious. But oh those big bullies of the police just have to come along and try to lock me up don't they? Well what right do they have? They're slaves to those who have more power than them. Why can they not just open their eyes and see that they're just fulfilling the emotional desires of those puppet-masters that control them? Sheep. That's all they are. **** the police. **** the judiciary system. It only exists to control us and bring about the desires of those in power.

    Why would the puppet-masters care about that which benefits society the most if after-all morality is merely a reflection of personal emotional disposition? They are only serving themselves and we are fools to tolerate this.
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    Interesting! I now see what you and NYU2012 mean to some extent I think, now, maybe.
    Though would that not assume that humans actively make decisions though? It seems more like a computational systemic morality calculation without error which would work in an organism which calculates everything they do; but humans rely extremely heavily on biases to function. Higher functioning people will I guess recognise these biases and countermeasure them in instances they aren't useful, maybe like 'Jeremy B'.
    So I guess although maybe you could define objectively morality (really interesting notion!) - I'm not sure where this would stand with highly flawed biological systems.
    One doesn't have to be able to identify the objectively true moral facts of the world in order for them to exist. Just like the fact that we can never have a perfect theory of everything within physics doesn't mean that there is no single set of facts that could describe the world perfectly.
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    Would also like to add that this is definitely one of the more interesting subjects I have seen on TSR, good work guys!
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    (Original post by TorpidPhil)
    One doesn't have to be able to identify the objectively true moral facts of the world in order for them to exist. Just like the fact that we can never have a perfect theory of everything within physics doesn't mean that there is no single set of facts that could describe the world perfectly.
    I have tended to look at such things from the biological perspective, so that didn't occur to me. Thanks for clearing that up a bit.
    So essentially, it is theoretically possible to define in a set of rules, an objective morality? Its just that we have not yet found the best way to objectively define and measure them, or something?

    In their application, would it be useful for things like law generally, like in human rights, and in robotics?
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    (Original post by TorpidPhil)
    I don't care about your feelings. Murdering you would make me happy becuase I find you obnoxious. But oh those big bullies of the police just have to come along and try to lock me up don't they? Well what right do they have? They're slaves to those who have more power than them. Why can they not just open their eyes and see that they're just fulfilling the emotional desires of those puppet-masters that control them? Sheep. That's all they are. **** the police. **** the judiciary system. It only exists to control us and bring about the desires of those in power.

    Why would the puppet-masters care about that which benefits society the most if after-all morality is merely a reflection of personal emotional disposition? They are only serving themselves and we are fools to tolerate this.
    well that went from 0-60 real quick :lol:

    *tries to engage in philosophical debate*
    *is met with overly aggressive responses from people who have no reason to be angry*
    every time :rolleyes:

    I have studied this at reasonable depth. You don't seem to actually have an opinion on the existence of morality. If you do you're not expressing it so I have no reason to argue against your perspective or indeed agree with it.

    The development of our current judiciary system is anthropological purely- it serves to function society which is in itself unnatural and as such needs unnatural laws placed to govern it. It in part derives from a consensus of emotional responses to actions because at the end of the day a good society is one in which people are happy. If you don't follow those laws there are repercussions.
    This doesn't mean good or bad exists in the world. Where is it? Can I see it? Can I sense it? No.
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    (Original post by hellodave5)
    I'm pretty sure morality is a construct we create or is inherent to living beings that are conscious and need to co-operate to survive. So if we aren't talking about morality in the context of living things, then whats the point in this discussion? Not a dig, but I'm trying to understand at what you're trying to get at.
    There's no evidence to support a statement that morality is a construct, subjective or objectively true, etc.


    "(1) If the basis is 'built in', then we ought to see some sort of connecting thing between all 'versions' of morality. (2) Your methodology is completely erroneous. You're using what people think about morality to assert what the nature of morality is."

    Can you extrapolate what you mean by these?
    In things like the universal grammar theory the idea is that we see similarities across languages. We should see something similar across moralities if the same basic proposition - built in-ness - is true.

    Your opinion that morality is a construct is likely based on the 'evidence' that different people have different opinions of what is or is not moral. But that's not evidence of or for the nature of morality; that's merely evidence for people's opinions on what is or is not moral. My opinion on the truth of something can be independent from its actual truth value.

    Also, generally, what is your overall view on morality?
    No idea. I don't study meta-ethics so I decline to actively proscribe ascribe to any meta-ethical claim.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    There's no evidence to support a statement that morality is a construct, subjective or objectively true, etc.




    In things like the universal grammar theory the idea is that we see similarities across languages. We should see something similar across moralities if the same basic proposition - built in-ness - is true.

    Your opinion that morality is a construct is likely based on the 'evidence' that different people have different opinions of what is or is not moral. But that's not evidence of or for the nature of morality; that's merely evidence for people's opinions on what is or is not moral. My opinion on the truth of something can be independent from its actual truth value.


    No idea. I don't study meta-ethics so I decline to actively proscribe ascribe to any meta-ethical claim.
    Isn't 'morality' just a word which is essentially to act in a way in which we view things as ever 'good' or 'bad'. Not the definition, just a working term.

    What do you mean by across moralities?

    The evidence which I was thinking of wasn't based on opinions but rather psychology and neuroscience literature I have peeped at in passing in the past. I recall that very young children maybe about 9 months of age (or something similar, maybe slightly older) can make basic statements of if something was 'fair' or not - which essentially equates to a moral evaluation of if the action was good or bad. This would suggest that the behavior is sort of inbuilt

    I'll see if I can find a paper.
    Found a video of summary (only 3 mins long) of the notion by Paul Bloom, who seems to be a big fan of this area - I find this quite interesting, though not a developmental psychology fan: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14812776

    Then there is neuroscientific evidence of neurological substrates in humans which is responsible for morality: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3163302/

    But I'm assuming you're referring to a sort of morality which is separate to its functional/operational basis in humans? I struggle to understand what you're getting at cause I'm thinking of how it is used generally, but I think you're meaning morality on a sort of theoretical basis?
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    (Original post by da_nolo)
    Is it objective or subjective or something else completely?

    Where does it come from or is it a conscious creation?

    Are we born with some connection to morality or is it purely environmental?
    there is no objective reason why murder, torture, sadism etc. are wrong. so live your own life and **** whatever box other people try to put you in to.
 
 
 
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