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Borz

Is there an objective morality?

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This is a subject that is very important to me, and when it was brought up in the topic "Is science incompatible with religion?" I decided to make a separate topic for it. A similar one already exists("assuming that [they believe] objective morality is true, which I don't think so"), but it's old and I feel there are still things to be discussed.

Response to Chiki's post from "Is science incompatible with religion?":

It's based on common sense intuitions.

Hey, bolded part is actually a pretty great question that made me think for a while. I never thought of that. It sure seems like relying on common sense intuitions is appealing to the majority. But I think common sense intuitions aren't valid simply because the majority of people have them. http://plato.stanfor...ries/intuition/

We do have good reasons to trust them, as science shows:

Consider recent research on “intuitions” in naturalistic decision making (Klein 1998). Such research has shown that agents with sufficient experience in a given domain (e.g., neonatal nursing, fire-fighting, or chess) make decisions on the basis of a cognitive process other than conscious considerations of various options and the weighing of evidence and utilities. Such expert “intuitions” that some infant suffers from sepsis, that a fire will take a certain course, or that a certain chess move is a good one, appear immediately in consciousness.

We can consider all humans as experts on basic morality (like flying a plane into a kindergarten) and on things like the existence of the external world, so we have good reason to trust them.

There appears to be a fundamental difference between moral intuitions and the intuitions described in the quoted part of the pdf. The latter deal with actions taken to achieve goals(taking care of infants, saving people from fires, and winning a game of chess), while the former deal with what goals are moral and what goals are immoral. Due to this, I do not think this is a good reason to trust moral intuitions. I am not confident in my wording, but I hope I got my point across.

Response to Rapier's post from "Is science incompatible with religion?":

If murder, rape, theft, flying a plane into a kindergarten etc. are to be considered morally right, society would be driven into chaos. Those are behaviors that are detrimental to the continuinity and well being of society overall, so they MUST be disencouraged and prevented. This is why ethics need to be objective, at least to a certain point (because defining more advanced ethics is hard). If we can't determine (at least the most basic behaviors, like the ones stated before) as right or wrong, we're done for.

Perhaps society would be driven into chaos, but on what basis is that immoral? You seem to be committing an appeal to consequences.

I might not post very much, as I am reluctant to post something unless I am sure it is an accurate representation of my thoughts, but I will be watching the topic closely.

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I, personally, do not think that morality can be objective, because your view of morality can often depend on your worldview. Some people believe in absolute morality (ie, morality is unchanging, set-in-stone, permanent) and this is very popular with the religious. Others believe in moral relativism, which says that morals are flexible and change over time with how we understand the world. That in itself seems enough to me that morality can't be objective, because we choose how to view morality from a personal standpoint.

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Perhaps society would be driven into chaos, but on what basis is that immoral? You seem to be committing an appeal to consequences.

But is that not the purpose of morals? To serve as the standard for righteousness and wrongness in actions, enforcing positive actions and disencouraging negative actions? If a morality encourages murder, rape, theft etc., it encourages habits that can logically be verified as bad (because they are, by nature, harmful), which means it is flawed. Consequences are an issue for morals (for example, utilitarism, as I remember, worries solely for the consequences of actions - that is, how many people are benefitted by said action, and how many are harmed - for its moral judgment), it's no wonder they matter in discussions about morality.

I, personally, do not think that morality can be objective, because your view of morality can often depend on your worldview. Some people believe in absolute morality (ie, morality is unchanging, set-in-stone, permanent) and this is very popular with the religious. Others believe in moral relativism, which says that morals are flexible and change over time with how we understand the world. That in itself seems enough to me that morality can't be objective, because we choose how to view morality from a personal standpoint.

I particularly don't see a contradiction between the statement "morality is objective" and "each person has their moral views". To say that each person has their moral views ("their views are relative") is not to say morality itself is relative. The former is a statement that regards one's perceptions and references, which can be right or wrong (because, as you said, those are heavily biased), whereas the latter addresses the subject itself. I think we can all agree that killing innocent people is wrong even if someone else's moral views tells them they're right. This is only possible if morality is essencially independent from what you, I or anyone else believes; that is, if morality is objective.

With that said, our perceptions are fallible. We may be wrong right now about what is morally right or wrong. Our perception of morality relies mostly on our induction for which is the best moral code, as I see it. But that is a flaw within our perception of morality, not with morality itself. So, it's not necessarily an argument for moral relativism, since it is our views that change in relation to morality. It's not an indicative that it is morality that is changing.

I also think I'm going to stay far from this one, reading from affar. I'm not a moral specialist, and I know nothing more about morality than what I was summarized in a college semester. I'm more concerned with what smarter people think with regards to this, this post is just me pressing for answers. Well, here's my bet.

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The issue is that we as humans are subjective. I've never met a human with absolutely no bias, so none of us can claim to be purely objective beings. Therefore we have a subjective worldview, and in turn a subjective view of everything we see. We can't know what is absolutely right or absolutely wrong (unless God hypothetically came down and told us himself what was right), so we have to infer. We can try to weigh the rightness of acts (utilitarianism) but no system is perfect. I suppose in a way I am comparing making absolute and objective morality synonymous, but I don't see enough of a difference not to.

I do agree with you in that I want to see what some of the smarter people have to say, as I'm probably even less qualified than you.

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i don't think so.

what would it take to show morality is objective? if any one religion turned out to be true, does that necessarily make its rules and beliefs true? can humans derive a new way of obtaining knowledge--one that would allow us to determine objective morals?

Edited by Phoenix Wright

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i don't think so.

what would it take to show morality is objective? if any one religion turned out to be true, does that necessarily make its rules and beliefs true? can humans derive a new way of obtaining knowledge--one that would allow us to determine objective morals?

Uh, I think so? If a perfect being, who knows everything about morals, ethics and, well, literally everything about every field of knowledge, says x is true and y is false, I am inclined to believing them. But moral objectivism doesn't need to be religious, although religious moralities need to be contained in moral objectivism (for it is the decree of their deity).

About a way that allows us to determine objective morals... I don't know. I'm placing my chips in a philosophical theory which I'll address on the bottom quote.

I don't think we can get a more objective morality than "treat others how you would want to be treated by others."

Well, there's Kant's categorical imperative. According to him, we should (paraphrased) "act in such a way that your actions become an universal rule". Which means that if I steal, I am accepting that stealing should become an universal rule. But stealing can be judged as bad by our reasoning, because it surely is harmful. Therefore, stealing should not be an universal rule, and thus, I should not steal. That way we can find moral truths through reasoning.

I think this is rather flawed because even stealing is not always wrong. Suppose I need a medicine very badly and I will die in 3 days if I don't have it. I have absolutely no means to get that medicine if not through stealing. Would my action be wrong? It seems our judgments can't be held equally for all cases, and it seems very dependable of the concrete case we are dealing with, much like it is done in law. ... I guess I really don't know.

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But is that not the purpose of morals? To serve as the standard for righteousness and wrongness in actions, enforcing positive actions and disencouraging negative actions?

i think this language is a bit loaded because it ascribes a purpose to morals as if it were imposed by a higher authority. what's more likely is that (hypothetical) societies which condoned immoral actions would have been naturally selected against.

an analogy from biology is that the purpose of camouflage is to escape predation. however, it's not as if an organism chooses to camouflage itself and understands of the purpose of its camouflage. we think that we understand the purpose of morals, but the reason why morality exists isn't because our ancestors reasoned out that it was good for morality to exist.

Edited by dondon151

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Uh, I think so? If a perfect being, who knows everything about morals, ethics and, well, literally everything about every field of knowledge, says x is true and y is false, I am inclined to believing them. But moral objectivism doesn't need to be religious, although religious moralities need to be contained in moral objectivism (for it is the decree of their deity).

About a way that allows us to determine objective morals... I don't know. I'm placing my chips in a philosophical theory which I'll address on the bottom quote.

Well, there's Kant's categorical imperative. According to him, we should (paraphrased) "act in such a way that your actions become an universal rule". Which means that if I steal, I am accepting that stealing should become an universal rule. But stealing can be judged as bad by our reasoning, because it surely is harmful. Therefore, stealing should not be an universal rule, and thus, I should not steal. That way we can find moral truths through reasoning.

I think this is rather flawed because even stealing is not always wrong. Suppose I need a medicine very badly and I will die in 3 days if I don't have it. I have absolutely no means to get that medicine if not through stealing. Would my action be wrong? It seems our judgments can't be held equally for all cases, and it seems very dependable of the concrete case we are dealing with, much like it is done in law. ... I guess I really don't know.

My main problem with this is, without a proper basis for morals, or "right and wrong", I'm not sure how we can properly determine what is absolutely moral and absolutely immoral. Actions must be, in my opinion, rationalized based on the situation, and as you said, not every case is the same.

And this reminds me of the ethics principle utilitarianism, for some reason. I've seen it criticized before, and I don't understand the basis for said criticism, especially when it comes to act utilitarianism. May sound like a stupid question to some, but weighing the benefits vs. harms of one activity, especially in one specific case as opposed to a general rule, seems like a perfectly rational basis for actions.

Edited by Blaze The Great

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i think this language is a bit loaded because it ascribes a purpose to morals as if it were imposed by a higher authority. what's more likely is that (hypothetical) societies which condoned immoral actions would have been naturally selected against.

It's actually what I was thinking about. I disagree with people who say morality comes from higher authorities (some conservatives hate me for this, hooray), I think euthyphro's dilemma covers that well. That post of yours in that old topic about morality made me think that it is just part of a long evolutionary proccess, on which our ancestors realized through trial and error which actions help them survive and which actions hinders their survival. Actions that were beneficial for their societies were accepted as morally right, whereas actions that were detrimental for their societies were accepted as morally wrong. It makes a lot of sense to me, but, unfortunately, I have no evidence to back up that claim - I'm not even sure it is possible to know what really transpired back then.

And this reminds me of the ethics principle utilitarianism, for some reason. I've seen it criticized before, and I don't understand the basis for said criticism, especially when it comes to act utilitarianism. May sound like a stupid question to some, but weighing the benefits vs. harms of one activity, especially in one specific case as opposed to a general rule, seems like a perfectly rational basis for actions.

Think about a society where, for the sake of keeping a majority happy, a minority is explored, subjugated and mistreated. Such a society would be morally acceptable under utilitarian morality views, because the amount of happiness is maximized. This is one of the most basic problems I can see with utilitarism. It only cares about making the maximum number of people happy, despite the unhappiness that a minority might suffer from such action. Like Emiya Kiritsugu, I guess.

Edited by Rapier

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That post of yours in that old topic about morality made me think that it is just part of a long evolutionary proccess, on which our ancestors realized through trial and error which actions help them survive and which actions hinders their survival. Actions that were beneficial for their societies were accepted as morally right, whereas actions that were detrimental for their societies were accepted as morally wrong.

so i somewhat agree with this, but i want to make a correction which is in the vein of what i was saying in my previous post. i don't think that our ancestors "realized" through trial and error which actions helped them to survive and which actions were detrimental to survival. it's unlikely that they experimented with this at all. rather, the individuals and societies that behaved more ethically produced more offspring than individuals and societies who didn't behave ethically (i'm using this term loosely in the sense of ethics that specifically benefited these individuals), and natural selection happened.

all social animals have their social behaviors hard-wired into their brains. it's not like 10,000 years or 2 million years ago some primates decided that caring for children was good and murdering other members of their cohort was bad. we know that most other primates have some basic understanding of ethics (e.g. they understand concepts such as fairness) and they didn't come to this conclusion by examining the outcomes of their behavior and deciding on the best course of action.

now we are capable of trying to improve ethics by relying on tools more sophisticated than our intuition. our intuition suggests that mistreating members of an outgroup is perfectly acceptable.

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Objective moral imperatives exist. Innately, it is wrong to harm an innocent. The act does not become "right", regardless of what ridiculous hypotheticals one cooks up surrounding the situation. Since someone is obviously going to throw the "kill one innocent to save a million" argument at me, I will answer this pre-emptively; both actions are "wrong", but we are simply choosing the action that violates less imperatives*. It is not right to kill the innocent, and it is not right to let one million die (the only "good" thing to do here would be to save everyone, which is not possible in the hypothetical). Moral imperatives are binary, but because situations are not binary outside of vaccums, one can be forced into picking between two rights or two wrongs. Generally, many of these hypotheticals aren't interesting to me, as many of them are rooted in the evil acts of others in the first place, and had moral imperatives not been breached/were not about to be breached then such evil scenarios wouldn't exist in the first place.

*For reference, I consider human lives to be immeasurable, so I'm purely speaking in case of the imperative of "do not harm an innocent". Rather than weighing the total loss of lives, I am weighing the amount of violations of the imperative, which are wrong acts, and a larger amount of violations are innately more wrong. As such, when faced with situations such as the classic trolley problem or organ harvesting, there is no problem in consolidating for them intuitively as a result.

However, "Morality" sort of implies a grander system of rules and concepts, which I'm less confident in discussing...I'd typically just default back to Kant's categorical imperatives when it comes to such things.

I reject moral nihilisim and moral relativism with my entire being.

Edited by Irysa

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Think about a society where, for the sake of keeping a majority happy, a minority is explored, subjugated and mistreated. Such a society would be morally acceptable under utilitarian morality views, because the amount of happiness is maximized. This is one of the most basic problems I can see with utilitarism. It only cares about making the maximum number of people happy, despite the unhappiness that a minority might suffer from such action. Like Emiya Kiritsugu, I guess.

That's a fair point, but shouldn't the goal to be maximizing a good result? Granted, you have to take this idea with a little bit of common sense and caution. I know it sounds rude, but if there is no better outcome, why not use utilitarianism to achieve this? Of course, that goes for all other ethics principles, but especially this one because of the weighing of good vs. bad results.

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Objective moral imperatives exist. Innately, it is wrong to harm an innocent. The act does not become "right", regardless of what ridiculous hypotheticals one cooks up surrounding the situation.

That's just a claim, is it not? Can you substantiate it?

Think about a society where, for the sake of keeping a majority happy, a minority is explored, subjugated and mistreated. Such a society would be morally acceptable under utilitarian morality views, because the amount of happiness is maximized. This is one of the most basic problems I can see with utilitarism. It only cares about making the maximum number of people happy, despite the unhappiness that a minority might suffer from such action. Like Emiya Kiritsugu, I guess.

Not all variations of utilitarianism would accept this. Negative utilitarianism(instead of maximizing happiness, minimizing pain is the goal), for example. If I recall correctly, some utilitarians also avoid this by having the goal be maximizing average happiness per person, but I cannot remember what this variation is called.

Edited by Borz

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There appears to be a fundamental difference between moral intuitions and the intuitions described in the quoted part of the pdf. The latter deal with actions taken to achieve goals(taking care of infants, saving people from fires, and winning a game of chess), while the former deal with what goals are moral and what goals are immoral. Due to this, I do not think this is a good reason to trust moral intuitions. I am not confident in my wording, but I hope I got my point across.

They don't deal with actions taken to achieve goals. For example, to say "this child has sepsis" does not mean that the doctor is taken any action to achieve any goal whatsoever.

No, they both deal with propositions such as the following:

"This infant is suffering from sepsis."

"It is moral to save a dying person's life.

And so on. Both kinds of intuitions deal with the truth value of propositions such as these.

I'll give a better post later.

Negative utilitarianism(instead of maximizing happiness, minimizing pain is the goal), for example. If I recall correctly, some utilitarians avoid this by having the goal be maximizing average happiness per person, but I cannot remember what this variation is called.

Where did you read this? Has this view actually been defended by a professional philosopher? It sounds like a complete joke to me.

Imagine a world which has no pain or happiness whatsoever. Like a world with no sociopaths. Is that the best possible world? Negative utilitarianism would say so, but ABSOLUTELY NOT. That's a horrible world to live in lol. It'd be like living in Singapore or something.

You're awfully young aren't you? Glad to see some smart kids interested in philosophy. Feel free to PM me any questions you want.

Edited by Chiki

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What is the difference between "maximizing happiness" and "minimizing pain"? If I say I want to maximize happiness, do I not also mean I want to minimize unhappiness (pain causes unhappiness, so I naturally would also want to minimize pain)? These statements seem like synonymous to me.


That's just a claim, is it not? Can you substantiate it?

I think I can. A society where indiscriminate murders, rapes, thefts are morally acceptable is a society that crumbles in itself. So it is desirable to disencourage such actions by outruling them as wrong or immoral.

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What is the difference between "maximizing happiness" and "minimizing pain"? If I say I want to maximize happiness, do I not also mean I want to minimize unhappiness (pain causes unhappiness, so I naturally would also want to minimize pain)? These statements seem like synonymous to me.

I think I can. A society where indiscriminate murders, rapes, thefts are morally acceptable is a society that crumbles in itself. So it is desirable to disencourage such actions by outruling them as wrong or immoral.

Perfect sociopaths for example feel no pain or happiness. According to negative utilitarianism, a world with perfect sociopaths would be equal to a world in which everyone is happy and has no pain.

Edited by Chiki

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Perfect sociopaths for example feel no pain or happiness. According to negative utilitarianism, a world with perfect sociopaths would be equal to a world in which everyone is happy and has no pain.

But you just told me perfect sociopaths don't feel happiness. How can I maximize happiness in a world where it does not exist? How can negative utilitarianism be concerned with maximizing happiness in a world of perfect sociopaths (who can't feel happiness)?

I think happiness and sadness are two faces of the same coin. Someone who can't feel happiness/sadness is also someone who can't feel sadness/happiness. If negative utilitarianism is concerned with maximizing happiness, then it does not advocate for a society with perfect sociopaths, who feel no pain nor happiness. Rather, utilitarianism's purpose is lost.

Actually, this has led me to think a bit more. If a hypothetical society gets rid of pain, how can we know happiness? We only know happiness because we know suffering. By eliminating suffering, do we not also eliminate happiness? If "happy" is our eternal, natural state, then it loses all the speciality the term carries. ... Uh, I'm not sure about this, I confess, but it seems like an interesting way of thinking. It was first brought by Epicurus, wasn't it? I should read a bit more about this.

Edited by Rapier

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But you just told me perfect sociopaths don't feel happiness. How can I maximize happiness in a world where it does not exist? How can negative utilitarianism be concerned with maximizing happiness in a world of perfect sociopaths (who can't feel happiness)?

I think happiness and sadness are two faces of the same coin. Someone who can't feel happiness/sadness is also someone who can't feel sadness/happiness. If negative utilitarianism is concerned with maximizing happiness, then it does not advocate for a society with perfect sociopaths, who feel no pain nor happiness. Rather, utilitarianism's purpose is lost.

Actually, this has led me to think a bit more. If a hypothetical society gets rid of pain, how can we know happiness? We only know happiness because we know suffering. By eliminating suffering, do we not also eliminate happiness? If "happy" is our eternal, natural state, then it loses all the speciality the term carries. ... Uh, I'm not sure about this, I confess, but it seems like an interesting way of thinking. It was first brought by Epicurus, wasn't it? I should read a bit more about this.

...You asked about the difference between maximizing happiness and minimizing pain, I answered your question. Read my post again.

The difference is that a world of perfect sociopaths in which there is no pain or happiness is worth exactly the same as a world in which there is maximum happiness and no pain according to the negative utilitarianism.

Edited by Chiki

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Oh, right, because negative utilitarianism only cares about minimizing pain, but not about maximizing happiness (it doesn't even touch happiness, contrary to what I believed). My mistake was silly.

Another question about this: Isn't the whole minimizing pain business a means to maximize happiness, in a negative utilitarian view? If it is, then I was right for saying such society is not contained within negative utilitarianism's purpose.

Well, going for the basics now, what constitutes a moral action? Is killing innocents wrong because it does harm to an individual and is detrimental to the continuinity and survivability of a society? Or is there a better criteria for judging that I don't know?

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Oh, right, because negative utilitarianism only cares about minimizing pain, but not about maximizing happiness (it doesn't even touch happiness, contrary to what I believed). My mistake was silly.

Another question about this: Isn't the whole minimizing pain business a means to maximize happiness, in a negative utilitarian view? If it is, then I was right for saying such society is not contained within negative utilitarianism's purpose.

Well, going for the basics now, what constitutes a moral action? Is killing innocents wrong because it does harm to an individual and is detrimental to the continuinity and survivability of a society? Or is there a better criteria for judging that I don't know?

Bolded part: no, because minimizing pain has intrinsic value (it has value in and of itself, it just is valuable to minimize pain). There is no value in and of itself to maximize happiness, but indeed it has extrinsic value because it often minimizes pain.

What constitutes a moral action? There are millions of views out there in the world. It could be wrong because one believes in a desert-adjusted utilitarianism view, for example, where the amount of happiness is adjusted in terms of how much a person deserves it. Killing people denies the happiness that they will experience over their lives. Where does desert come in? For example, Hitler's happiness would decrease the overall value of happiness because he doesn't deserve to be happy at all.

===

I don't think an objective morality exists but I also don't like people who go like: "WELL ISNT IT OBVIOUSLY SUBJECTIVE? PEOPLE NEVER AGREE ON ETHICAL CASES." There are infinitely many uncontroversial cases (such as flying a plane into a kindergarten full of innocent children) so I don't find this a very convincing line of argument.

It's harder than that to establish why there is no objective morality. The reason I think morality isn't subjective is because common sense intuitions about morality can vary so strongly, while other common sense intuitions like the existence of the external world, 1+1=2 can't vary across communities. (There are tribes which don't have number words in their language so they don't know 1+1=2, but this is a lack of an intuition rather than having the opposite intuition, so this is just a different case).

Consider a community like Papua New Guinea in which cannibalism is accepted. I think they actually grow up certain children and make them fat just so they can eat them, make soup out of them and etc. They think what they're doing is right and this is a very natural intuition for them. Who are we to tell them that what they're doing is wrong? They grew up in that way and they think they're right. Their intuitions are completely different from ours. So I think morality can't be objective since intuitions about them vary depending on one's culture.

Mackie argues that the best explanation of these phenomena is that moral judgments “reflect adherence to and participation in different ways of life” (1977: 36). This, at least, is a better explanation than the hypothesis that there is a realm of objective moral facts to which some cultures have inferior epistemic access than others. The example Mackie uses is of two cultures' divergent moral views regarding monogamy. Is it really plausible, he asks, that one culture enjoys access to the moral facts regarding marital arrangements whereas the other lacks that access? Isn't it much more likely that monogamy happened to develop in one culture but not in the other (for whatever cultural or anthropological reasons), and that the respective moral views emerged as a result?

A more advanced argument in favor of error theory is as follows, but I'll try to make it as simple as possible. Moral properties are really weird. To say that an action is righteous is different from every other property you can use to describe that action, such as being a relation between two objects, taking 100 seconds, etc. Such properties are weird because no other property like them exists. By Occam's razor, we can eliminate moral properties from our theory of metaphysics, so there is no morality. It's basically like saying that morality is like an invisible pink unicorn.

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That's just a claim, is it not? Can you substantiate it?

Well I'll be blunt; one cannot actually refute moral anti-realists (nihiists/relativists). That is because they have assumed a self defeating stance and bit the bullet on it. They claim we cannot know anything about morality, which technically destroys itself; to say that we cannot know anything about morality means that we cannot know that we cannot know anything about morality. They are making an assertion that there is nothing there. In the same manner, I cannot "prove" moral realism. Much like "the existance of God", all we can do is provide arguments for why a view on the subject is plausible.

To be a moral anti-realist is not to have lack of belief in objective morality, or to simply be someone who does not assert there is an objective morality. They assert "morality is not real".

To be a moral realist is not to have a lack of belief in the absence of objective morality, or to simply be someone who does not assert that there is not an objective morality. They assert "morality is real".

Someone who asserts neither the reality nor unreality of morality is merely not engaging in ethical reasoning, or else is deliberating between the two positions, currently sitting as an agnostic.

The primary reason that I believe in objective morality comes down to the fact that I have no reason to not accept that my moral intuition of "killing innocent people is wrong" is incorrect. Indeed, the moral anti-realists can dismiss this intuition as being biologically rooted, but that in itself does not really attack the concept of "killing innocent people is wrong". Humans can reason past their biological (or even societial, if you're a cultural relativist) tendancies, so one has to demonstrate that it is "right" to kill innocents in order to shake my belief. My general answer to typical hypotheticals is that people can be forced into situations where no matter what they do, it will be wrong. My way of determining the "wrongness" is linked to the amount of violations of this imperative, so I am not engaging in consequentialism by agreeing that killing multiple innocents is "more wrong" than killing a single innocent. Both acts however, are wrong. As such, I feel this is internally consistent enough to the point where nobody can ever convince me that killing an innocent is ever "right".

Comparatively, when it comes to something such as slavery, arguments can be made for why slavery is bad, and why it is "good" that slavery is abolished (not really, but you get the point). A counterpoint to relativist positions here is that individuals who do not accept this fact are operating in denial of a truth, much like denying that the earth is spherical, or that I even exist. Ability to disagree does not mean that moral truths do not exist, unless we deny all epistemic truths as well (which would mean we have to start calling the scientific method into question for example).

This could be broadly summarised to say that we should believe what we have justification to believe, which I view as the basis for a rational mind (once again, it is self defeating to say otherwise). There is no reason to doubt that something exists if signs point to it existing and none point towards it not existing.

Edited by Irysa

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Consider a community like Papua New Guinea in which cannibalism is accepted. (...) They think what they're doing is right and this is a very natural intuition for them. Who are we to tell them that what they're doing is wrong? They grew up in that way and they think they're right. Their intuitions are completely different from ours. So I think morality can't be objective since intuitions about them vary depending on one's culture.

Bolded part can be used to justify any atrocity a person can think about.

The most basic problem I have with subjectivism is that, if it depends upon me for an action to be moral or not, I can use it to justify anything. I think killing innocent people is acceptable. Who are others to tell me that what I do and think is wrong? I grew up in that way and I think I am right! Besides, how far is our mere intuition reliable for defining what is right and what is wrong? The quoted example above shows that it can be used to think throwing children in a cauldron and eating them with soup and cut vegetables is morally right. The flaw seems very visible to me.

I personally utilize natural rights as one of the basis for moral judgment. If it is someone else's natural right to be born free, no one has the right to turn them into slaves. The same could be said about our natural and universal right to life. This view has helped us improve our situation overall (ban slavery, equal rights for everyone, freedom of creed etc.), can't say I don't think it is useful for moral discussions and as a moral compass.

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Bolded part can be used to justify any atrocity a person can think about.

So you don't understand error theory of morality, ok.

Yes, people can have common sense intuitions completely contradictory to ours. People in Papua New Guinea might think flying a plane into a kindergarten full of innocent children might be fine in order to cook their meat and eat them, for example.

But error theory says that nothing can be justified or unjustified based on morality. Morality is just nothing at all.

I personally utilize natural rights as one of the basis for moral judgment. If it is someone else's natural right to be born free, no one has the right to turn them into slaves.

Most philosophers think there are no such things as rights. Rights are only tools used to accomplish a greater good, such as maximizing overall happiness.

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Consider a community like Papua New Guinea in which cannibalism is accepted. I think they actually grow up certain children and make them fat just so they can eat them, make soup out of them and etc. They think what they're doing is right and this is a very natural intuition for them. Who are we to tell them that what they're doing is wrong? They grew up in that way and they think they're right. Their intuitions are completely different from ours. So I think morality can't be objective since intuitions about them vary depending on one's culture.

what if everyone had the same culture, thus (roughly) the same intuitions? or, if we "close off" differing cultures from each other, are each respective culture's morals objective within their own culture?

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