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Nathan Alexander
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I like to think of it like this. If there is no standard of right and wrong outside of us, then it's really each to their own.

By that I mean that while you can argue all day long about "fairness", and the "oughtness" of what I ought to do or not do, and so on, it makes little difference if there is no standard you can appeal to. It's just a matter of opinion. That's it.

That means while you can believe something unfair according to your standard, you lose any "right" (after all, who gave you that right if it's each to their own? "Myself" isn't a valid authority for me to respect just "because I should") to cry foul when I do something to you that you don't like if I believe it's ok, after all, who are you to force your morality on me? (This is ignoring the subject of law by the way as that's another subject).

I believe you do have a right to protest my actions that were given to you innately, not just because there is a law on the books somewhere stating so. You don't need laws or some culturistic shared value to tell you something is just plain wrong.

How do we have an idea that a line is crooked, unless we have some idea of what a straight line is? The same can be argued with morals. Our visceral reaction to say rape, shows us that that thing is not right. Not because it's what we feel, but because it isn't right. Not because we agree it's wrong. It just is and to say otherwise means you have a fundamental problem with your "moral compass" or "intuition."

I think to illustrate my point that there are objective standards of right and wrong (and again, this is not addressing the issue of how we know which things are or are not wrong) I only have to show that there is one clear case example of something that everyone, at every time agrees is not "right" or "good".

There may be the odd exception from those rare individuals who lack a conscience (clinical sociopaths) but an obvious example could be torturing babies for fun. This is an evil act. It's not, "well, I wouldn't do it, but people should be allowed to decide for themselves."

Not at all. It's wrong as is across the board. If someone can't see how that is universally wrong, I don't know what I could say to convince you otherwise. It is wrong prima facie.

Going from there, the debate then becomes is it wrong because we all agree on it (as a society/culture/time in history etc.) or do we recognize it's wrongness as an inherent property in and of itself?

I'm not trying to be tricky here. We can play with words and definitions all day long but in the end, without getting too deep, it seems clear to me that we know what's wrong because we have an inherent standard we measure things against and intuit on a day to day basis.

The degree to which we see these issues is not my point. We can feel differently about certain acts. But our opinions or beliefs about something don't make it true or not true on most issues like these.

After all, if you're a moral reductionist and believe things like "well, if no one gets hurt than it's ok" well then, you cannot object to peeping-toms. After all, no one knows and no one gets hurt right? Yet we know at gut level, intuitively that it's wrong, that it's a violation of someone's rights, and we don't need the law to inform us this is so. We know it (most of us I hope) to be true by ourselves without learning it.

We don't have to be taught it. Can morals be knowable? I believe to a great extent they can. I guess that if someone subscribes to a set of beliefs they feel is right they have a hard time justifying why anyone should respect those beliefs without appealing to an outside standard.

There are things you don't think I should do. I shouldn't steal your stuff. But if it's simply a matter of you believing stealing is wrong, than those are reasons for you not to steal, not me (if I believe differently) so you have no objective basis with which to be angry with me, and to do so would be against moral relativism and what you believe if you believe that we can all have our own rules.

You would then be crossing the line, and jumping off of your own island of moral neutrality and stepping onto my island of morals. You'd be violating your own view (those people that is, that subscribe to the belief of moral tolerance and neutrality) of moral relativity and crossing over to try to change me and what I believe. Meaning, you'd talk as moral relativist, but act as if you believe in objective standards (of which you feel I've violated).

I believe there is a standard, we can know it to a great degree, and you know when you violate that standard as evidenced when I do something "unfair" to you. After all, you can't say it's unfair if you don't have some idea of what "fair" is, (and not because you just feel it's unfair by your standard).

Whew.
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2008-05-15 11:00, Nathan Alexander wrote:... I believe there is a standard, we can know it to a great degree, and you know when you violate that standard as evidenced when I do something "unfair" to you. After all, you can't say it's unfair if you don't have some idea of what "fair" is, (and not because you just feel it's unfair by your standard).

You're right - says the fish from that example above - and from what you wrote you must be gasping for sensibility - so why don't you just ease your head into a nice bucket of fresh water and calm down?

Or would that not be right? (for you?)
...to all the coins I've dropped here
LobowolfXXX
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On 2008-05-15 11:00, Nathan Alexander wrote:
I like to think of it like this. If there is no standard of right and wrong outside of us, then it's really each to their own.

By that I mean that while you can argue all day long about "fairness", and the "oughtness" of what I ought to do or not do, and so on, it makes little difference if there is no standard you can appeal to. It's just a matter of opinion. That's it.

I agree with a great deal of your post (so let me highlight and comment upon a part that I disagree with....ah, human nature!) If there's no standard you can appeal to, then argumentation about the matter can be somewhat pointless (though people are still occasionally persuaded); however, that's different from saying that it's all a matter of opinion. For example -- let's say in 100 years, all books, digital files, written records, etc. of history have been destroyed, and only two people are left on the face of the earth. One of them seems to remember that George Washington was the first president of the United States of America, and the other believes it was John Adams. There's no authority they can appeal to.

That doesn't make it their opinion; one of them is flat-out wrong. (In another context, between people of conflicting beliefs, you'd say AT LEAST one of them is wrong). Truths that can't be verified are still truths; they're not limited by our ability to conclusively know them. I believe this to be true of moral truths. When you "decide" on what is right or wrong, you're not determining it; you're recognizing it (maybe incorrectly, like an eyewitness who proclaims "He was driving a blue car" when it was really green).
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
LobowolfXXX
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Quote:
On 2008-05-15 12:27, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
On 2008-05-15 11:00, Nathan Alexander wrote:... I believe there is a standard, we can know it to a great degree, and you know when you violate that standard as evidenced when I do something "unfair" to you. After all, you can't say it's unfair if you don't have some idea of what "fair" is, (and not because you just feel it's unfair by your standard).


You're right - says the fish from that example above - and from what you wrote you must be gasping for sensibility - so why don't you just ease your head into a nice bucket of fresh water and calm down?

Or would that not be right? (for you?)


You're right, it's all relative - says the Jeffrey Dahmer, who believes that eating other human beings is a fine way to get by - so why don't you just do what's right for you, and I'll do what's right for me, and we'll agree to disagree.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
Nathan Alexander
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LobowolfXXX - I agree with you completely, maybe I voiced my thoughts wrong. But yes, what you said is true.

JT - Fair enough (Although in my defense, I wasn't worked up-honestly-, so no need to calm down.) Smile
Doug Higley
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Jack Scratch...I don't use the Golden Rule with those words "DO Unto Others as you would have them DO unto you."

I'd rather not DO anything to anybody and be left alone without anybody DOING anything to me.

My internal wording is TREAT others as You would prefer to be Treated. More of a REACTIVE rule, dealing more with Freedom and personal Space.


Like In said above:

"The Golden Rule as postulated by Confusious has NOTHING to do with any of that extrapolation or imaginary friends in the sky or over the hedge or in the pond.

It is INTERNAL. I do not need to broadcast it or push it outward on anyone else, man or trout, godly or godless. I simply RELY on it for my own reactions.

Treat others as you would have yourself be treated. It has everything to do with your individual desires, traits and moral compass whatever the hell it is or where it came from. It has nothing to do with conforming to an outside or local trend. I don't give a rat what you think or believe or is in the book you follow or the laws you break...my JOB is to be true to myself and have no excuses if things go south or blame to lay at my own door.
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2008-05-15 12:30, LobowolfXXX wrote:...says the Jeffrey Dahmer, who believes that eating other human beings is a fine way to get by ...


Where specifically did you get that impression? Might want to read up on that guy - IMHO he needed a good talking to by Dr. Ruth about relationships going better when the other party is both willing and conscious.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
LobowolfXXX
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Insert your favorite goofball, then... One might agree to disagree with Hitler as to whether killing particular groups was the way go.


I'm either grossly misinterpreting your fish parable, or legitimately underwhelmed. Are you offering it to stand for a proposition other than "Fish and human beings obtain oxygen differently; therefore, moral relativity"?
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
Jonathan Townsend
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Fish and humans have grossly different perspectives on more then just getting oxygen and hence what advice a fish might offer as correct presuming the recipient is another fish would be far from healthy for a human. The hypothetical fish in those posts is trying to be helpful - (*remember that NLP presupposition of good intent). If I were merely shooting for a proof by contradiction I'd go with much stronger contrasts between normal conditions and behaviors.

To have what folks presume to be true of morality we need to start with the presuppositions explicitly stated - that both parties in the transaction are identical with the exception of one clearly stated condition and from that we might want to use the reflective approach (what would I want if I were in their shoes) and use that as an initial test for "rightness".


Quote:
On 2008-05-15 16:46, LobowolfXXX wrote:
Insert your favorite goofball, then... One might agree to disagree with Hitler as to whether killing particular groups was the way go....

Hitler- sick person IMHO - those who used him as a figurehead to reshape Germany - even sicker IMHO - and those who made excuses rather than accept the refugees of the politics there - no words for what they did just a confused feeling between anger and sorrow.

Even going near that topic of whether it's okay to go killing is asking for trouble as I recall... Abraham and his son, Moses and the Cannanates, Amorites, Medianites.. I'd really rather not go down the path of condoning genocide or discussing a moral calculus of death - I don't see any good feelings for us down that path - sorry.

Can we argue and disagree without getting into the dark aspects of these issues?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
LobowolfXXX
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On 2008-05-15 17:27, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
On 2008-05-15 16:46, LobowolfXXX wrote:
Insert your favorite goofball, then... One might agree to disagree with Hitler as to whether killing particular groups was the way go....

That's asking for trouble as I recall... Abraham and his son, Moses and the Cannanates, Amorites, Medianites.. I'd really rather not go down the path of condoning genocide or discussing a moral calculus of death - I don't see any good feelings for us down that path - sorry.

Can we argue and disagree without getting into the dark aspects of these issues?

I'm not going down the path of condoning genocide; I'm pointing out that it's the path one ends up on after accepting moral relativism.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
Jonathan Townsend
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It's also down the path of agency, utilitarianism and pragmatism - wherever there is a herd or flock to be managed there's culling. Where there's a "greater good" there's sanctioned destruction. No idea what to suggest that has proved able to avoid that sort of social issue on the individual or group level - but IMHO what's called the "Golden Rule" seems a darn good start.

You appealed to the notion of "truths" earlier. Would you elaborate a little on what you hold to be a test of "truth"? IMHO that notion is at the root of some of our disagreements in general. How might one know if a thing is true? How might one know when a thing is true? Can a thing be true or is that reserved for abstracted principles or goals?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
LobowolfXXX
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You appealed to the notion of "truths" earlier. Would you elaborate a little on what you hold to be a test of "truth"?

I don't believe that moral truths can be tested (unfortunately?) I think there are two separate questions that get conflated sometimes -- 1) whether a given moral proposition is true; and 2) whether any moral propositions are "True" (as opposed to moral relativism). I'm very willing to accept that some things I believe to be moral truths are, in fact, in error; I'm much less willing to believe there no transcendent moral truths. To cut & paste from my earlier analogy, which I believe fairly well captures most of my take on the matter --
Quote:
I agree with a great deal of your post (so let me highlight and comment upon a part that I disagree with....ah, human nature!) If there's no standard you can appeal to, then argumentation about the matter can be somewhat pointless (though people are still occasionally persuaded); however, that's different from saying that it's all a matter of opinion. For example -- let's say in 100 years, all books, digital files, written records, etc. of history have been destroyed, and only two people are left on the face of the earth. One of them seems to remember that George Washington was the first president of the United States of America, and the other believes it was John Adams. There's no authority they can appeal to.

That doesn't make it their opinion; one of them is flat-out wrong. (In another context, between people of conflicting beliefs, you'd say at least one of them is wrong). Truths that can't be verified are still truths; they're not limited by our ability to conclusively know them. I believe this to be true of moral truths. When you "decide" on what is right or wrong, you're not determining it; you're recognizing it (maybe incorrectly, like an eyewitness who proclaims "He was driving a blue car" when it was really green).

I think it could be reasonable under such circumstances to think that Adams was the first president. We've all been pretty sure of things that we later found out to be wrong (which actor was in which movie, etc.) I think that with respect to some moral questions, it's perfectly normal to think that your belief is correct while recognizing that it might not be.

However, when two positions are logically incompatible, then the people holding them aren't "both right" even if they agree to disagree -- any more than you'd be right if the idea that John Adams was the first president "works for you."
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
landmark
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I'd be much happier if rather than trying to assert the superiority of one's moral pre-suppositions, we at least clearly stated what our moral first assumptions are. Then we could hear the diversity of thought, and perhaps begin to understand one another as well as ourselves. Otherwise we are just talking past each other.


Jack Shalom
LobowolfXXX
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On 2008-05-15 19:26, landmark wrote:
I'd be much happier if rather than trying to assert the superiority of one's moral pre-suppositions, we at least clearly stated what our moral first assumptions are. Then we could hear the diversity of thought, and perhaps begin to understand one another as well as ourselves. Otherwise we are just talking past each other.


Jack Shalom



Just in case anyone takes this post and run with it, I'll reiterate what I said when I tried to do just that back on page 1 of this thread...

1. Transcendant moral truths exist.
2. In general, actions that do not directly inhibit others' exercise of free will are not immoral.
3. Private property is a source and a limitation of moral moral rights.
4. It is generally immoral to fradulently induce action or inaction on the part of another.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
LobowolfXXX
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I'll add one for the road...

5. Beliefs/feelings/ideas etc. are morally neutral; only actions are morally right or wrong.
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
LobowolfXXX
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The tail end of #5 should probably read "...only actions and/or in some cases failures to act are morally right or wrong."
"Torture doesn't work" lol
Guess they forgot to tell Bill Buckley.

"...as we reason and love, we are able to hope. And hope enables us to resist those things that would enslave us."
landmark
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Thanks for being so clear.

Me:

1) All people are created equal

2) We are a social species: I am my brother's keeper, except when he tells me to get the hell away.

3) We are all capable of murder; continuance of the species depends on non-violent ways of resolving differences.

4) Don't do that which is hateful to myself to others


Jack
JackScratch
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On 2008-05-15 15:41, Doug Higley wrote:
Jack Scratch...I don't use the Golden Rule with those words "DO Unto Others as you would have them DO unto you."

I'd rather not DO anything to anybody and be left alone without anybody DOING anything to me.

My internal wording is TREAT others as You would prefer to be Treated. More of a REACTIVE rule, dealing more with Freedom and personal Space.


Like In said above:

"The Golden Rule as postulated by Confusious has NOTHING to do with any of that extrapolation or imaginary friends in the sky or over the hedge or in the pond.

It is INTERNAL. I do not need to broadcast it or push it outward on anyone else, man or trout, godly or godless. I simply RELY on it for my own reactions.

Treat others as you would have yourself be treated. It has everything to do with your individual desires, traits and moral compass whatever the hell it is or where it came from. It has nothing to do with conforming to an outside or local trend. I don't give a rat what you think or believe or is in the book you follow or the laws you break...my JOB is to be true to myself and have no excuses if things go south or blame to lay at my own door.


My post wasn't intended as a counter to yours, more a reflection of my relation to your thoughts. Like I said, the foundation of the social contract is my guideline. The only problem with that foundation is that it would mean we all sort of "avoid" each other. That's why I also try to contribute more to this world than I take from it. I try to leave things better than I found them. I try to not profit from the loss of others. I think that people who pass others in a vanishing lane while in heavy traffic, badly need to learn their place and value in this world or be removed from it. We all have a job, and that job is to work with every other human being on this planet to make the world work smoothly. Anyone who is not doing that needs to get out of the gene pool, ASAP.
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