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Morality: Who Needs It?

Posted by khalling 4 years, 3 months ago to Philosophy
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I saw jdg's comment yesterday, and I thought this would make a great discussion. My point here is to distinguish Objectivist Ethics from Libertarian Ethics and Western religions' Ethics So, thanks jdg for sparking the topic, here's your comment:

"Morality *is* nothing more than taste -- each person defines his own. This doesn't mean no one should bother having one; it means we all should choose carefully, since your moral code determines how far (and by whom) you can be trusted -- and even if there is neither hell nor karma, there is reputation.

The philosophy of liberty implies assuming that other people are adults, who know this and can each handle its consequences for themselves. Christianity (and other western faiths), while they superficially seem to support similar moral views, assumes that we are all not adults but sheep, who need a shepherd to lead us. I find that view absolutely abhorrent."

and here is the Objectivist response:

"My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride." Galt's Speech, Atlas Shrugged

The key here is that reason is man's only tool for knowledge, and that morality is objective. Certainly man makes choices, and he either consciously makes wrong choices or within his limited knowledge makes wrong choices. Objectivism rejects that morality is a "matter of taste." One could make the argument that man is always at the mercy of his limited knowledge and so therefore cannot know morality completely, therefore is destined to either fail or that morality cannot be properly defined so that it is different from one man to the next without some divine source bestowing morality onto man. To that, here is a response:

"Today, as in the past, most philosophers agree that the ultimate standard of ethics is whim (they call it “arbitrary postulate” or “subjective choice” or “emotional commitment”)—and the battle is only over the question of whose whim: one’s own or society’s or the dictator’s or God’s. Whatever else they may disagree about, today’s moralists agree that ethics is a subjective issue and that the three things barred from its field are: reason—mind—reality."Objectivist Ethics, The Virtue of Selfishness

Is morality/Ethics objective or subjective? If objective, then can we gain knowledge of morality scientifically?



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    Posted by  $  ObjectiveAnalyst 4 years, 3 months ago
    Morality is inseparably tied to ethics. Ethics are a code... a standard by which one can live and that must be reciprocal among men. One cannot live by doing anything he pleases without considering the ramifications upon others without accepting the same from others. It requires a hierarchy of values. Values must take into consideration what is in one's self interest, but it is not in one's self interest to violate the rights of others. Your reputation and the good will you expect and need in return depends upon reciprocity. It must allow for the needs of existence... yours and your neighbors... You cannot establish morality or be moral if you can harm, cheat, steal from or kill your neighbor. Morality must be universal. You would not find it moral to have your neighbor harm, cheat, steal from or kill you. Your life and your property are the necessities that maintain your existence. Your reputation built on trust and fair trade, is thus essential for dealing with others in acquiring the sustenance of life. Those you deal/trade with must reciprocate or suffer the consequences of inability to acquire/maintain their sustenance. Existence and a right to exist dictate these corollaries.
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    • Posted by dbhalling 4 years, 3 months ago
      Rand does not make a distinction between morality and ethics.
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      • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 3 months ago
        I think it is handy to consider 'morality' to be a social consensus and 'ethics' to be a personal subscription. You say, 'professional ethics', for example, not 'professional morality'.

        That being said, the morality of my local culture says that it is immoral to not recycle, to be a climate denier, to endorse petroleum products. I dispute the essential 'good' of these moral objectives, but I do not deny that most of the people around me consider them a 'given'.

        Let me take a pithier example: It is widely considered immoral to think that there are actually fundamental differences between the capabilities of different races or between genders. But scientific observation indicates that there are such differences: Asians are about 4 IQ points higher than Caucasians, for example. This is a case where morality is at odds with science.

        Ethics, I think is more of a 'first person singular' decision: a physician could say, "I abide by the Hippocratic oath."

        Jan
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        • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
          I refer you back to Galt's speech:

          "What is morality, or ethics? It is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life. Ethics, as a science, deals with discovering and defining such a code.

          The first question that has to be answered, as a precondition of any attempt to define, to judge or to accept any specific system of ethics, is: Why does man need a code of values?

          Let me stress this. The first question is not: What particular code of values should man accept? The first question is: Does man need values at all—and why?"

          there is no distinction objectively
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    • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
      What is wrong with the 10 commandments?

      I'm not religious person, or biblical scholar, but I do believe there is value in that book (although I also believe some take it too literally which is what turns many people away from it).

      Just considering the10 commandments, everything you just said was already written. Why is that not enough for our moral code?
      Is the 10 commandments objective or subjective?
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      • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
        for starters, the first 4 Commandments have no basis in reality. Should you honor a bad mother and father?
        Hank Rearden committed adultery. Was he acting immorally?
        Bottom line: the 10 commandments are...wait for it...commandments. They are not vetted in reason or objectivity. They are handed down by God to man. It is a lousy way of building a logical philosophy of life.
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        • Posted by ewv 4 years, 3 months ago
          Yes the problem with commandments is that they are commands as such, which is no basis for ethics in either content or method. Regardless of who or what is claimed to pronounce them -- from a god to Kant's duty for the sake of duty -- commandments are imposed duties requiring submission as such as fundamental. That nullifies any rational understanding or role of values as the basis of ethics: Ýou are told to do what you must because you must, without regard to pursuit of values and regardless of.destructive consequences to values -- 'do what you must because you must' except outside the realm of the list of duties, leaving you without any moral guide at all, at the mercy of subjectivism.

          If someone telling you not to do something immediately raises the question 'why not?'; someone telling you what to do as your duty immediately provokes the question 'why' -- not just over the specific content but much more fundamentally, why submit to do any demand at all under a claimed rule of 'because your duty says so'. It ignores and negates an objective ethics based on knowledge of requirements for human life in accordance with the nature of man.

          See Ayn Rand's explanation in "Duty versus Causality" in her anthology Philosophy: Who Needs It.

          'Do whatever you want because you choose to' versus 'do what you are told out of inherent duty' takes us back to the false alternative of the subjective versus the intrinsic discussed a few days ago as it pertains to rights. The false alternative is just as destructive as a basis for morality as it is for the basis of rights, and is the same issue at root because rights are moral principles and because both concern human conceptual knowledge. Rights are a moral sanction of freedom of action in a social context; morality pertains to all individual choices whether social or not.

          The notion of duty ethics through supernatural commandments expressing commitment to the mystically intrinsic is one of the fundamental distinctions between Ayn Rand's ethics and Christianity.

          Religious conservatives do not understand Ayn Rand's ethics even when sympathetic to some aspects of them because in part they are psychologically embedded in the duty ethics of the mystically intrinsic with no explanation or validation, supplanting objective knowledge and objective values which are neither subjective nor intrinsic.

          On the other side are a-philosophical "libertarians" who enshrine the subjective, rejecting contextually absolute principles of ethics, as they plunge immediately into politics with no base.

          Neither side understands the objectivity of knowledge of reality as grasped by man's conceptual method of thinking, in this case pertaining to the requirements of human life making ethics a science, neither a decree nor a whim.
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        • Posted by  $  winterwind 4 years, 3 months ago
          in fact, the Commandments are handed down to Moses and his people from their invisible/inaudible friend.
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          • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
            I really didn't want the origins to be a part of this.
            I only wanted the 4 corners of commandments to be the discussion.
            that's why I was trying to be careful in clarifying that in my post.
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            • Posted by plusaf 4 years, 3 months ago
              Robert, when this kind of discussion starts, my personal reaction is to ask, "where did the list come from... what's it's source?" and I think for a lot of folks, that's true and almost automatically opens that can of worms...

              I believe that a lot of wisdom is contained in at least some of those 'commandments' but, again, as "commandments" they imply forever and immutable and unarguable. I suspect Rand might not have gotten on board that train...
              :)
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              • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
                The source of the list is not relevant. The fact that it exists is, and its existence absolutely shaped our morals - theist or not.
                It shaped our Constitution.

                I agree, it's a dangerous train to catch.
                But, I think it's nearly impossible to discuss "morals/ethics" without at least acknowledging them.

                What separates man from animal? Was it that 5000 year old document?
                It's origins and authority are not relevant. It exists.

                A part of me also enjoys the spirited discussion :-)
                Not that I want to whiz anyone off, I just like the exchange of ideas and thoughts.
                There is a lot of smart, and enlightened people here.
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                • Posted by plusaf 4 years, 3 months ago
                  Same for me on the discussions, Robert! I also like to take what I've learned is the Socratic approach of Asking Questions to get more information during 'discussions,' too. Lots of fun.

                  So, if 'its origins and authority are not relevant but its existence is....' then we could easily be following the many Gospels published by Marvel Comics! Origins? Feh! Existence? Beyond any doubt!

                  Cheers!

                  Reminds me of the quote from Hillary about 'how much time she spent in the White House' as being a Qualification to run for President.

                  One wag replied that the Head Chef in the WH probably served there longer than she lived there... :) Get his name as a write-in in '16!
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                  • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
                    The Gospel of Garfield, or Charlie Brown. HA, I love it.
                    Have you been to a Star Trek convention??? It's a religion :-)

                    Hillary is qualified because she shares DNA with Bill. Everyone liked Bill, so she'll be liked as well. Scientific Consensus.
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        • Posted by Technocracy 4 years, 3 months ago
          Objecting to the content because they are labelled as commandments is rather dismissive.

          Substitute societal guidelines instead of commandments and then reconsider.

          Also, as Heinlein put it in one of his novels I believe, a lot of them derive down to do not steal, something objectivism supports.
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        • Posted by blackswan 4 years, 3 months ago
          If you were Moses, living 4000 or so years ago, what kind of ethical/moral/legal system would you have established? Would you have taught that there is no god? Would you have taught that man is an end in himself, just as they're coming out of slavery to a god-king? Good luck with that.
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        • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
          Without getting into the godly aspect, because I don't want this to be about "religion". Religion is about adherence to someone's interpretation of a philosophy.
          The origin of the commandments for the purpose of this discussion, is not relevant.
          Whether the commandments were heavenly, or mortal makes no difference. Just evaluate them for what they are.

          I was watching a show on history or something that looked at this mainly from a Historical stance and showed how commandment 5-10 were transgressions by man on others that lead to a break down of society.
          Coveting, leads to theft, which can lead to murder, etc.
          I look at these and say, "respect each other".

          Where commandment 1-4 were transgressions against god (regardless of your definition of god), I can look at that and say," respect the planet, remember your place in it, there is nothing more them me, don't idol it."
          I really believe the "idol" clause is pretty much saying, the universe is it, there is nothing greater then it, don't pray to magical deities - there are none.
          These 10 commandment (moral codes) made for a functional community.

          Is "Commandment" (by definition) any different than "Law" that our police uphold?
          A rose by any other name...

          >Should you honor a bad mother and father?

          I don't think that's fair. If your parents did not act honorably, then I would say, you are under no obligation.

          >Hank Rearden committed adultery. Was he acting immorally?

          Yes. Did it dishonor him, or his family? If it affected no one else, then it wasn't immoral.

          Biblically (time, not text) Adultery could lead to offspring which could cloud inheritance and property rights. Which can be a big problem for a small village.
          If the first son is a bastard, then who inherits their fathers property upon his death?
          Getting caught with your neighbors with can get you killed also.
          Of the simplest, of simplest laws can go, the 10 commandments achieve this, and it didn't require law degrees to interpret, it was easy for a village elder to make determinations.
          Today, we don't have these problems, mainly because we consider ourselves educated and enlightened people capable of acting in a civil and responsible manner.
          Instead of being ordained by a legislative body, they were cast in stone by some greater power.
          Morally, ethically, and functionally, what's wrong with them as a "code of conduct"?
          Forget religious interpretation (Remember the Sabbath and sit on a hard wooden bench for hours and listen to someone babble endlessly wondering why you ever gave up cutting yourself)
          Everyone gets hung up over the religious connotations of the 10 commandments and I think that's wrong. It's just a law, just like our laws today. they just happen to be "moral" law.
          We wouldn't ask our gov't to make a moral law (although they do). But in order to have a civil society, WE have to have a common code of conduct. Why doesn't the 10 commandments minimally fill that bill.
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          • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
            I would say there is a more scientific way of building an Ethical construct for yourself. Ex: "respect the planet" the planet does not have rights to respect. Yet every farmer understands objectively that if he overworks the land or eats his seed corn, he will not eat at some point in the future. The first 4 commandments are all about not questioning or supporting indoctrination [edited to add] and yet every government in the deism of saving the planet, ruins thousands upon thousands of acres of forest to massive forest fires every year, because the forests are not privately managed.
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          • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 3 months ago
            Robert; You state: 'Religion is about adherence to someone's interpretation of a philosophy.'

            By definition and practice, philosophy has nothing to do with religion nor is it comparable. They are two separate identities.
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            • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
              I didn't say that. Philosophy is not religion, but a religion usually revolves around a philosophy,or someone's interpration of it. Islam, and radical Islam. Baptists, Methodists. Center around a shared philosophy, each with it's own "spin".
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              • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 3 months ago
                Robert; You did say that. Its the 2nd sentence of your comment.
                Definitions:
                religion |riˈlijən| noun
                the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

                philosophy |fəˈläsəfē| noun (pl. philosophies)
                the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.

                Denial of words you actually write and attempts to confuse and conflate definitions of words used and their identities are perfect examples and demonstrations of the importance of moralities based on and formed from the philosophy of Objectivism.

                The morality and ethics of an Objectivist can be measured and confirmed by and through actions and the reasoned and logically rational roots of those actions. His integrity is observed and measured in every statement and argument he makes.

                An individual attempting to justify or explain his morality and ethics as commands from his superhuman 'controlling power' has no need to submit to such measurement and integrity question. His god said he had to. That's his reason and his only logic. God said, and he'll punish me if I don't.

                But what happens when he's out of his god's sight or interacting with another that doesn't believe in the same god and commands?

                And therein lies the rub and the difference, even more so than just definitional. The Objectivist has his philosophy with him at all times, in all places, and with all others. It is who and what he is, not simply who and what his god tells him to be.
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              • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 4 years, 3 months ago
                I disagree. Minus a supernatural element(s), philosophies are quite similar (comparable) to religions in key ways.

                Each present a code of conduct, each present an outlook on life, each influence an outlook toward death, each encourage depth of study to better understand it, each influence the daily behavior of the individual, and each has its fervent believers.

                I'm sure I can draw more parallels but I'm typing off the top of my head.
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      • Posted by  $  ObjectiveAnalyst 4 years, 3 months ago
        Greetings RobertFl,

        I believe the Bible is a mix... some great moral lessons and some things we would find immoral today. Like any religious text, it can be abused and some believers without a good moral compass will interpret even the worst parts as still acceptable and sanctioned by God. Just as the Koran is being used today. Some parts of the 10 commandments are subjective. Alone they are also lacking in prohibitions of many behaviors we would find immoral today, like cruel and unusual punishment... Generally followed they are mostly harmless, but in order to define a universal standard of morality one need not look to a set of rules with a supernatural origin. This is what objectivist doctrine reliant on natural rights accomplishes. It is good for all. Much like the golden rule, but logically arrived at, explained and founded on everyone's existence and that which is necessary for mutual continuance.

        Others have also now provided additional excellent replies.
        Respectfully,
        O.A.
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        • Posted by ewv 4 years, 3 months ago
          There are no harmless commandments, the whole method of ethics as do your duty because it's your duty to submit to it is at root destructive.

          The Objective ethics is not based on natural rights, it's the other way around. Natural rights are an application of ethics. Both apply to all because both are based on the nature of man.
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          • Posted by  $  ObjectiveAnalyst 4 years, 3 months ago
            I can live with that assessment as far as motivation and metaphysics, but in practice, for generations, they were superior for the masses than "might makes right." Today WE here can do better. Although I would posit that natural rights existed long before formal Objectivist ethics were conceived. So, loosely speaking, what I meant was they were precursor existent and thought. Perhaps reliant was a poor choice of word... Does that not make sense?
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        • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
          But note your use of "super natural". That's an assumption. And, I wasn't trying to analyze that, only the text itself. At least the last 6. What would our moral compass look like if we didn't have 1000's years of civilization built around the commandments? We can't deny the impact of that on us today, and this discussion now.
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          • Posted by  $  ObjectiveAnalyst 4 years, 3 months ago
            Hello RobertFL,
            Quite right. I only mention it because it is part of why I consider parts of them subjective. Since you are not analyzing that, I suppose it is a mute point.

            My concern is that since the source is the Old Testament the context may be of concern to others. There are many things like stoning someone for adultery, incest and slavery that are not condemned by the commandments and the Old Testament God is a vengeful one.... Fortunately the New Testament has a different context and message. This is where one's moral compass must come into play. That said: The Altruism displayed and demanded in the New Testament is of concern for objectivists since it places the needs of others not even equal to but above the needs of self. In her Playboy interview of 1964 Rand said, "Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the non-ideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice."

            There is no doubt about the impact on western civilization over the last 2 thousand years.. Both good and bad.
            Many would consider the morals of great value while others would consider the mysticism to have been a hindrance to rational thought. It depends upon one's personal philosophy. I have often thought that without moral teachings in churches of the past many would not have received any at all... We cannot change history. we can only point the way for the future.
            Respectfully,
            O.A.

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            • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
              "without moral teachings in churches of the past many would not have received any at all"

              Agreed. we're on the same page.

              >In her Playboy interview of 1964 Rand said

              Every time I hear that, I get this image that just seems wrong?? Sports Illustrated wouldn't have seemed bad. But Playboy? :-)
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      • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 3 months ago
        They are commandments-that's not morality. That's master/slave.
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        • -1
          Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 3 months ago
          All laws are commandments: they define a particular behavior as having an undesirable effect attached called a punishment.

          Freedom is the lack of restrictions from making choices, is it not? And what restricts you from making choices? Making bad choices which bring punishments. You can view the Ten Commandments as restrictive, or you can view them as things to do to maintain your freedom.

          Example: Thou shalt not covet. What happens when you do covet? You irrationally assign more value to some specific person or thing than it actually has. By changing the true value of that object you affect your own behavior and place all of your subsequent decision-making in deference to this erroneous value assignment. Is that not limiting one's own freedom? I think it is. If one was talking to a more "versed"/learned people (pun intended), one might put the "commandment" in the following terms: "thou shalt treat reality as itself" or "A = A."
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          • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 3 months ago
            blarman; I think, for the most part the post has related to morality up to this point. I don't think morality should be the subject of law, but rather law should be about whats necessary to prove that a person's action/s violate another person's rights and describe the appropriate retaliatory force to used against the perpetrator to compensate for the violation.

            I'm afraid that in regard to freedom, my definition is quite different than yours. I see freedom as the natural state of man and is unconditional. I don't require the lack of restrictions, because that requires that I acknowledge restrictions of my freedom could exist, and that there exists something or someone that has the right to restrict it. Freedom is total or its not longer freedom, its slavery.

            As I remember your example, It should state, Thou should not covet your neighbor's ass or wife. That doesn't mean you shouldn't covet. It's ok to covet an ass or a wife, just not that of your neighbor. That strikes me as entirely moral in that the nature of a man is to obtain what he needs for his life through the use of his mind and his labor, but not through the use of force.

            Then conflating a commandment with A=A is a bit outside of reality.
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            • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 3 months ago
              Morality and law go hand in hand - there is no such thing as one without the other. Laws are about the consequences of choices. Would you deny that natural laws have consequences? Morality based on natural law is simply recognizing these choice-consequence pairings for what they are: part of reality over which man has no power or say whatsoever.

              I actually agree with you that freedom is man's natural state. It's just that every single one of us abrogates some portion of natural law at some time in our lives and therefore reaps the consequences of reduced freedom. And I agree with you that a lack of total freedom is some degree of slavery - a limitation on choice.

              As to coveting, it is differentiated from merely wanting. Coveting involves obsession with something such that one's value of that thing is distorted towards overstatement. Hatred is another form of misperception where something is undervalued. Both of these cases are a willful choice to assign A != A. I find the analogy incredible apt and wholly consistent with reality. I would respectfully request that you explain why you think otherwise.
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              • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 3 months ago
                My morality comes from my mind and rationality, not law, and nearly all the law that's written to address the morality of the population (called positive law, meaning that with the law, society will be a better place such as prohibition, or that everyone should act to the minimum of the rest of society such as speed limits without identifiable tort) is about social and statist control.

                Of course natural law has consequences, but I don't need government or my fellow men to enshrine it in writing or court precedence and interpretation in order to understand it or follow it. It is part and parcel of the natural state of man.

                As to covet; Definition: covet |ˈkəvət| verb (covets, coveting, coveted) [ with obj. ]yearn to possess or have (something) and it's Thesaurus description: covet verb even with all they have, they covet the wealth of others: desire, yearn for, crave, have one's heart set on, want, wish for, long for, hanker after/for, hunger after/for, thirst for.

                Included in it's definition is want. You imply that it's definition is a stronger form of want, but I don't find that, with the exception of wanting what someone else has. Simply understanding that initiation of force is wrong handles that issue fine for me.

                Without coveting something, why would man work to produce more than he needs to survive. It is a positive aspect of man's nature to want and strive for more. Its a driving force of man's nature.

                As to hate; I hate broccoli, liver, statism, collectivism, anything that detracts from my individual rights. in fact I abhor such things. Hate, disgust, those things are just expressions of taste, of discriminating which tells man what to avoid. They are only problems when man doesn't use his mind and logical reason to evaluate his reaction. Again, there's no need for any of government's or man's laws to deal with that. Pass all the laws you want, I'll still hate broccoli and liver.

                I hope that explains things.
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                • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 3 months ago
                  "Of course natural law has consequences, but I don't need government or my fellow men to enshrine it in writing"

                  But that is precisely what I am talking about: the fact that laws (natural laws) exist independent of man. I agree with you that man can either choose to live by them or not - that he can choose to enshrine them in the publicly accepted legal code of the day or not - but one way or the other they remain laws whether man likes them or not.

                  You use the English dictionary definition for covetousness. I am using the original Hebrew word, thus our differences. I still agree with you that the initiation of force to obtain something is morally wrong. The question is this: if there is a natural law outlawing theft (something that says theft is wrong), what is the punishment for abrogation? Without such a punishment, there is no law. Without law, morality becomes whim and preference - lacking of any kind of enforcement mechanism. What agent exists to act on behalf of natural law to exact punishment for violation?

                  Unfortunately, English is a bastardized language (as per my wife the linguist). We use so many words as synonyms for degrees of something that it sometimes precludes perfect understanding or meaning - and I'm not talking about the definition of "is". I can say I hate the taste of cauliflower (my personal non-choice of vegetable), but what I am actually saying is that the taste offends my palate. Within such a statement is the recognition that it is a potential flaw on my behalf (people like my oldest daughter really like the stuff) that results in my behavior. This is substantially different from when we say we hate a person because we are saying that that individual's very being - their "A" - is offensive to us. C.S. Lewis described it much more eloquently in one of his books (I think it might be "The Problem of Pain" but I'm not sure). He said basically that it isn't necessarily the thing itself which we hate, like, etc., but some resultant behavior or attribute of the thing. It is not A itself we hate, but an attribute of A which we find offensive. That construct similarly is very cavalier in English especially where in some other languages (especially Middle Eastern ones), they actually have a "being" verb that names the essence of something apart from just how we perceive it.

                  Thus I perceive and use the word "hate" with reference to objects to be a crutch of language, but not part of the original prohibition which was much more precise and strict and warned against mis-evaluating the inherent worth of something - especially people.
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      • Posted by dbhalling 4 years, 3 months ago
        Either you are religious or you have no idea what you are talking about. First of all the 10 commandments are a disorganized list of "do nots." Second it demands obedience to the irrational - god. Third it endorses slavery. Fourth it is an affront to reason and reality. Fifth it demands blind obedience to parents. As an ethical system it is part of a cult of death.
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        • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
          I already said, I'm no biblical scholar, and I didn't want it to be religious. Just a bullet list of "code of conduct".

          some of what you said is due to interpretation of the commandments. which I said, I think people read way too much into them.

          Let me just take one thing and address it, cuz it intrigued me.

          >>> disorganized list of "do nots."

          I don't think they're disorganized. I wish I knew the name of the program I watch, but it was really good at discussing that. There is a historical justification for them and they made sense.

          >>> "Do nots"
          Well, maybe this is better.
          It's sort of like "pornography". I can't define it, but I know it when I see it.
          I can't tell you how to step on someones toes, but I can tell you not to do it.
          Do not kill - is there a anti way of saying that?
          Do not steal - same thing, how else would you say that.
          I follow you regarding the first 4, but those are the one's I think we read to much in to.
          Believe me, I'm no bible thumper by any means. I love history, and I believe that book (original text, not TNG) has very historical significance and we shouldn't dismiss it so easily - that's where I'm coming from.
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          • Posted by ewv 4 years, 3 months ago
            There is no rational explanation of ethics in the Bible. It has been influential and is history of a very primitive era; it is not a base for ethics.
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            • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
              So, do not kill, or do not steal are primitive ethics and have no place in our intellectual society? They have no impact on our morals today?
              I will reserve further comment.
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            • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 3 months ago
              Then you have never actually read it. There is nothing in there but example after example of moral law and either obedience or disobedience to those precepts. You can dislike/disagree with the proclaimed origin and its implications, but the content is what it is: a history of choice and consequence. It is not only a theory of morality (like most philosophy texts) but the actual practice.
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  • Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 4 years, 3 months ago
    Of Reason, Purpose, and Self Esteem, Purpose stands out as the most subjective of the three. The purpose that someone pursues can be quite arbitrarily chosen. Some pursue a success in business, some pursue a golf handicap, or other goal. What one person uses their reason to achieve another might hold
    valueless.
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    • Posted by ewv 4 years, 3 months ago
      The moral principle of having a productive purpose in life, which is one of Ayn Rand's primary virtues, is not subjective. There are options in what particular purpose you choose to pursue, but the choice depends on other factors such as ability and social context. That is not subjectivism either.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
      I hear what you are saying, and I'm not a big fan of 3 rules or 7 virtues stuff overall, but appreciate simplifying so understanding. "Purpose" is the metaphysical concept of man must work to survive. Within that framework, he will make choices personal to him, but in order to be purpose it must be productive work and furthers life. It can't be just any arbitrary thing. Welcome to the gulch
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      • Posted by  $  WilliamShipley 4 years, 3 months ago
        Defining Purpose as the concept that you must work to survive certainly grounds it in an objective reality. However, most of us spend little of our waking efforts on simply surviving. We establish goals for ourselves and spend large portions of our resources and efforts in attempting to achieve them. Some have sports or activities they wish to excell at, others have business and creative goals.
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    • -2
      Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
      You're only purpose/goal in life is to reproduce. What ever it takes for you to achieve that goal is moral.
      Food
      Defense
      Sex
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      • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
        It is to pursue happiness. This concept makes your life into a duty, a sacrificial animal. This is anti-life, actually
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        • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
          Pursue happiness???
          That seems superfluous.
          That would imply our sole purpose is to bring consciousness to the universe. Look up, go "ahhhh", and die. Not a very self sustaining business plan :-)

          Sacrificial animal. Big fish eats little fish, survival of the fittest.
          Someone is someone else's dinner. One dies so another can live.

          I don't think it's anti life at all.
          Basic, basic, basic. you have to eat, or you're suicidal. You have to protect yourself, or you're someone else's dinner, happiness is reproducing (or trying like hell).

          Happiness is a warm gun - John Lennon :-)
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          • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
            the pursuit of happiness....CONSTITUTION
            you are enjoying being cynical with me. that's ok, but not helpful to you objectively understanding morality.

            "Sacrificial animal. Big fish eats little fish, survival of the fittest.
            Someone is someone else's dinner. One dies so another can live. "

            you are having a party conflating concepts.
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            • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
              i don't mean to be cynical. just not overly serious, more light hearted.
              I think the constitution is a different animal in this topic. I understand what your saying but i think it also complicates the discussion.
              I think you're discussing morality in a 21st century perspective and I think that clouds the discussion. in the simplest terms what is mans purpose - thats what i was addressing. my response to you, not intending to be cynical, was merely stating, happiness is icing on the cake. it isn't necessary to life. or your moral well being.
              I don't intend to be a sacrificial animal, I don't think any animal does, it just happens, it's life. It's not moral or immoral. sometimes you are a bug, sometimes you're a windshield.
              assuming you're not enslaved by another.

              >>but in order to be purpose it must be productive work and furthers life.

              further life...mine, to reproduce.
              no, I don't understand how mans basic purpose is anything other than to survive and reproduce. You may feel that reduces us to nothing more than an animal, but guess what, we are. anything we achieve beyond that, is icing on the cake, bully for us.
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              • Posted by MinorLiberator 4 years, 3 months ago
                With all due respect, and words do mean something, I suggest you've picked the wrong topic in which to be "not...serious", and "light-hearted", since, as quoted Rand's position is that morality starts with a basic choice: "to live", and proceeds from there, I see nothing there to not be serious about.
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                • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
                  We're allowed to have a sense humor. Nothing I said is going to be detrimental to someone's life. So, you're being too serious. We're having a friendly exchange.
                  There is nothing I said that was against "living".
                  The argument/discussion was "happiness" as a purpose. I said, its not a relevant "purpose". It's a "want" not a "need" - right?

                  khalling and I seem to have a difference in opinion regarding "mankind" the superior being, or "mankind" the capable animal.
                  If mankind is a superior being, then happiness might be relevant. I don't think it changes the fact that happiness is not relevant in either case.
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      • Posted by  $  CBJ 4 years, 3 months ago
        "You're only purpose/goal in life is to reproduce."
        Therefore, choosing not to have children is immoral, and once you have raised your children you have no further purpose in life.

        "What ever it takes for you to achieve that goal is moral." Including robbery,rape, and exterminating members of other gene pools who compete with you for food?
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      • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
        There is an evil study from Nazis, where they withheld any affection and stimulation for babies. But they fed them and kept them warm. They died.
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        • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
          I wasn't implying you drop the baby and move on. Nurturing the offspring is a vital part of ensuring your DNA survives.
          That nurturing fits in with..
          Food
          Defense
          Sex
          until the offspring can mange that themselves.
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          • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
            we are not animals. we are men (and women)
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            • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
              but we are animals. Even animals don't drop their offspring and leave them.
              certainly another worthy question.
              What separates us from animals??
              We're the top of the evolutionary ladder - so what?
              Just because we're a more capable animal doesn't change the fact we're still animals.
              Do animals have morals? I'd say yes.
              I don't want to drag the thread off topic.

              if you're intent was to include "nurture" into my list of "purpose", I can go along with that, but that's an interesting addition because my list is a non-emotional list (objective) of must haves/needs.
              Nurture, is an emotional (subjective) want. One persons nurture, is another's neglect.
              Whether my offspring lives or dies doesn't impact my survival, only my DNA.
              I can morally quantify food, I NEED 2000 calories/day.
              I can quantify sex, how far can I spread my DNA?
              I can't quantify nurture, how much love do I spread?
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  • Posted by  $  rockymountainpirate 4 years, 3 months ago
    Excellent post kh.

    Morality is objective. Existence exists. I don't know if we could gain knowledge of morality scientifically.

    I do think the that vast majority of people today feel (oh wo wo wo) that morality is subjective. If it feels good to me then it's good regardless of the consequences.
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    • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 3 months ago
      Morality is definitely subjective. Consider vegetarianism: vegetarians consider it immoral to eat meat. I do not agree with this, but I can understand their stance.

      Jan, carnivore
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      • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
        GHBS! et tu, Brute?
        morality is based on reality, it is not whatever value someone chooses. I am not immoral for eating meat. we are omnivores and animals do not have rights. therefore, vegans' claim of morality/immorality for eating/not eating meat is not based in reality, and not a valid claim.
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        • Posted by MinorLiberator 4 years, 3 months ago
          I agree. Morality is objective, and scientific, starting with the premise that it concerns "Man's life". That defines its scope, per your example and statement, the choice to be vegan or not is not a moral choice, but a personal one. Like whether I prefer beef to pork, or The Stones to The Beatles (God, I'm aging myself). Morality always involves choices, but not all choices are moral choices.
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        • Posted by Technocracy 4 years, 3 months ago
          Your morality is defined by the rules you use to judge your actions.

          With the inevitable follow on that you use that same framework to judge most, but not all actions of others.

          If an individual is one of those benighted 'people' unable or unwilling to judge the actions of yourself or others, then they have no morals.

          Judgment, and the ability to exercise it are a base requirement to morality. Whether you use reason or emotion as the impetus for any given judgment had a major effect on the outcome.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 4 years, 3 months ago
    khalling, I am so glad you quoted Ayn Rand's ex-
    planation of what morality is. I have met people
    who try to claim that it is all relative (I believe,
    primarily college graduates), that there is no cer-
    tainty, etc. My speech & drama (also creative
    writing) teacher in high school, tried to tell me
    that during a classroom discussion; he was an-
    noyed, and said, "There are no absolutes,dear!"
    I said< "Don't tell me there are no absolutes."
    The others were shocked at me because of the
    things I was saying about individual rights and
    society before the bell rang and class changed.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
      excellent points Liberty. moral relativism is partly how we are in our country today. I chose to leave. I do not regret that decision. It is daunting to have those in authority arguing against one. You stand your ground and state the truth. If you have to check a premise along the line, you do that. But when you have....
      we have the world to win [edited for spelling error]
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  • Posted by Bob44_ 4 years, 3 months ago
    Who needs morality? We all do. We must all adopt a code by which we live our lives. That code comes from experience, education and reason.
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  • Posted by  $  sjatkins 4 years, 3 months ago
    Ethics is for living one's life the most effectively and abundantly in every way one values. That is its purpose. If all ethics are subjective then this implies there is no particular way of living one's life that is superior to any other in gaining and keeping a truly abundant high value life. If that were the case and only if that were the case would objective ethics be an impossibility.

    If one believes that reality is "real", strange as that truism sounds, then human beings have a specific nature and thus a specific set of condition upon their most abundant and fulfilled living.

    Ethics is for living your life to the fullest.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 4 years, 3 months ago
    An excellent answer. It seems to me that many
    people (this was so long decades ago) try to say
    that morality is subjective ("There are no absolutes"
    etc., "You can't be sure", etc.), and I think a lot of
    them do it in order to have an excuse not to do what is right.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 4 years, 3 months ago
    So for those who like to obfuscate and use terms that give one a headache, I thought I might simplify all of this in cave-man style.
    For life, good.
    Against life, bad.
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  • Posted by woodlema 4 years, 3 months ago
    This is a very interesting topic with books written on this topic ad-nauseam.
    Reason - Who's reason and from what point of view, defined by what principals.
    Purpose - Who's purpose and to what end?
    Self-esteem - Leaders, Rulers and Dictator's rarely lack self-esteem but have an over abundance of self-esteem or self-importance.
    Ethical, Moral, Legal. These three are not mutually inclusive, meaning I can be moral, but neither ethical not Legal. I can be ethical but neither legal nor moral, and in many cases "legal" is neither moral nor ethical, based on whatever definition is given to ethical, moral and legal.
    For a society to function there must be an established set of Moral Principals to follow. There must be rules, i.e. laws, by which specific guidelines are established, with a specific set of consequences for violations. And the ethical aspect should be encompassed within the moral, meaning that the discussion of ethics and morals should be synonyms.
    Now what set of "morals" are you going to use to establish your baseline.
    Hitler, ISIS, Marx, Stalin or the simple laws of only the strong survive, Anarchy, which is the same as the Strong Survive combined with mob rule which in the end means those who are willing to do anything to control and keep power win
    If we apply what jdg said that Morality "is" nothing more than taste and each person defines his own, then the World Court never should have tried the Nazi's for killing millions of Jews since that was their accepted morality, and that was their taste, also within the laws of Germany were legal and ethical. Their human experimentation on Jews was ethical, and no crime had been committed since crime does not exist under that pretence or paradigm.
    Exhaustive studies have been done on these very topics. It is not enough to simply say I am morality unto myself, ergo I answer to nobody but myself.
    Even the paralegal must study these questions.
    We have historical examples of morality or lack thereof as societies, grow, thrive, then implode on themselves. We can empirically track the points at which these great empires and civilizations began their decline. In the end a sense of morality changed in their civilization. This morality changed from one of "love" to one of look out for number one and if it feels good do it.
    When we look at Greece, Rome, Persia to name a few, they became ripe for conquest when their morality sank to a low. That morality dealt with the acceptance and reverence for monogamy, family, personal responsibility. In short when you look at a Bible scripture:
    (Galatians 5:19-23)
    19 Now the works of the flesh are plainly seen, and they are sexual immorality, uncleanness, brazen conduct, 20 idolatry, spiritism, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions, sects,
    21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and things like these. I am forewarning you about these things, the same way I already warned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s Kingdom.
    22 On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Verses 19 - 21 describe the morality that takes a civilization from greatness to ruin. Read "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire."
    There were many reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, but they boil down to a basic list.
    Decline in Morals and Values
    Public Health
    Political Corruption
    Unemployment
    Inflation
    Urban decay
    Inferior Technology
    Military Spending
    Ironically all of the above occur when your "moral center" has been corrupted by an anything goes, no accountability do for me and nobody else attitude becomes pervasive.
    So then you must ask yourself what "Moral Center" or set of "Moralities" need to be abided by.
    I put it to you that the wisdom in the Bible is not contradictory to "Rational Self Interest" but can go hand in hand.
    Galatian 5: 22,23:
    22 On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
    Rational self interest when coupled with the above passage is what virtually every great society in human history demonstrated at their peak.
    Only when they abandoned these basic principles does a society erode to nothing, which I fear is where we are at this point in history.

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    • Posted by jdg 4 years, 3 months ago
      Red herrings all over the place on this one.

      For a society to function there needs to be a consistent set of laws, one that most people in it accept as right most of the time. But in a pluralistic country, you'll find a large number of moral codes, most of them derived from religions. And if it's a democratic country the laws are largely dictated by compromises, not principles.

      "Might makes right" is not a moral code very many people accept. But might does win fights, so it determines who actually rules and who doesn't. (One of the better arguments against God is that if He were good, He would not have made the world work that way -- we can sure see plenty of unjust results.)

      Yes, I would have tried the Nazis for genocide; I simply wouldn't have pretended that my reasons for doing so are grounded in either "God" or objective truth. I dare say most of the world would agree with my personal moral tastes on that topic.

      "It is not enough to simply say I am morality unto myself" -- ah, but everyone who has a moral code *is* saying exactly that. The only difference between me and the religious moralist is that the religious moralist is so shallow as to actually believe the religious leader when the latter writes down his own personal moral code and signs it "God". It must take incredible cheek to sign any writing "God", but they do.

      "When we look at Greece, Rome, ..." yes, a lack of morality was related to their falls, but not in the simplistic way that a religious person says so. Societies like those start to come apart at the seams when the rulers lie, cheat, and steal so much that the average person no longer sees the state as making people's rights more secure than they would be if the state didn't exist. (I'd say we have passed that point.) Attempts to teach morality (other than by example), in my view, do little or no good -- we have to see the bad people actually made to regret their actions, and more importantly, we have to see the system refrain from punishing people for actions that aren't wrong such as selling drugs. Religion is often actively harmful in this regard, especially if the religious leaders turn a blind eye to what politicians do and concentrate instead on rules like "no gay sex" which don't protect anybody's rights.
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      • Posted by Bob44_ 4 years, 3 months ago
        Who are you to criticize where a person gets his morality. Better that you develop the code by which you live your life and better yet, keep it to yourself.
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      • Posted by woodlema 4 years, 3 months ago
        "Societies like those start to come apart at the seams when the rulers lie, cheat, and steal so much that the average person no longer sees the state as making people's rights more secure than they would be if the state didn't exist. "

        Yes, BUT.....where does the definition of "lie, cheat steal" come from and who determines it is bad.

        Regardless of the claimed source being "God" or the 3 legged toad under the bridge, truth is truth, and good advise is good advise.

        I always take issue with people who disregard SAGE WISDOM, simply because it was quoted from a religious source.

        To practice traits like, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,  mildness and self-control, neither makes one weak, nor stupid nor foolish, nor unreasonable. In fact rational self-interest takes advantage of each and EVERY one of those traits. Can you find any place in history where there was a punishment for such acts?
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        • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
          well the reason behind "lie, cheat, steal" is actually force being used against one person to another's gain. this is straightforward logic. If you are being lied to, the liar has the benefit of knowledge they are withholding from you to encourage you to act/not act in your rational self-interest
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  • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
    Ya know, if a gulch TV show does happen, this very topic could make for a number of episodes.
    What is the moral/ethical code in the gulch?
    Do neighbors help neighbors, or do they just scream, "Get of MY lawn" at each other?
    Is there such a thing as volunteering in the gulch?
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    • Posted by dbhalling 4 years, 3 months ago
      You really do not seem to understand Objectivism. Have you read any of the nonfiction books?
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      • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
        I wish I had countless hours to be as verbose as you and khalling. I consider this site an extremely valuable source of information and knowledge, and I have great respect for your knowledge, and others, and the desire to share that.
        What I posted is what others perceive to be an Objectivist Philosophy.
        My point with my post is that, if a TV show is merely entertainment for those that think like us, then it's simply preaching to the choir and serves no practical purpose other than mental masturbation. It has to educate those outside of here. It has to address the argument and misconceptions the media has made against Ayn Rand, and Atlas Shrugged, etc.
        Ayn Rand was a wordy, long winded person. Some of us, who started down this path late in life, don't always have time to plaster a book to our face.
        One might turn their arrogance down a notch and be a teacher and perhaps point to relevant material on the interwebs.
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  • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 4 years, 3 months ago
    Morality is subjective because it is social.

    If you were alone or in a very small group there would be no need, you would know everyone or almost everyone and the base reality would suffice without making more rules. As a society expands, you know less and less of the people around you, then you become subject to the rules of the community, their laws based on their shared morality.

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    • Posted by MinorLiberator 4 years, 3 months ago
      I disagree. Morality is primarily about choices, and no social context is necessary to require that. There is a useful teaching tool in Economics called "Robinson Crusoe economics", and I believe there is an equivalent Robinson Crusoe morality: assume his desert island has seasons, and his food supply, whatever it is, goes dormant in the "winter". He can choose to ignore reality and simply eat on a day to day basic in "summer", and then starve. Or he can think ahead and also store food for the winter, and survive. That's a moral choice.
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      • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 4 years, 3 months ago
        The scenario you present is a survival choice not a moral choice. Morality is entirely within the social context. Only a group (not alone) do rules matter. Rules being that which a collection of people determine to be right and wrong (their morality). Alone there simply is no need to be moral because there is no one else to infringe on (no choice to make).
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        • 10
          Posted by dbhalling 4 years, 3 months ago
          AJ you do not understand morality. Morality is not about a collection of people it is about logic and reason (not faith). Morality is about values. Those things that further my life as a man qua man are good and those that inhibit or work against that are evil - like faith.
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          • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 4 years, 3 months ago
            Bold claim. Actually my view is on target..to validate I looked it up and presented Websters definition below.

            noun
            principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
            synonyms:
            thics, rights and wrongs, ethicality More

            a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society.
            plural noun: moralities
            "a bourgeois morality"
            the extent to which an action is right or wrong.

            Sure, your own right and wrong are determined by you and you alone WHEN you are alone. When you are part of a society your morality is influenced by many factors including peer-pressure, laws, and faith. DBH, my faith and how I exercise it or choose not to is in no way evil by anyone's standard.
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            • Posted by ewv 4 years, 3 months ago
              Your dictionary did not say that the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior pertains only to the social. That many people have been misled into believing that a proper morality pertains only to social behavior because they are told that morality is based on altruism does not restrict the meaning of the term to the false morality. It didn't restrict Ayn Rand's philosophy or many others, going back to the Greeks.

              Supposed moral injunctions to believe based on faith are destructive and certainly are evil.
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            • Posted by dbhalling 4 years, 3 months ago
              Sure it is. If you chose poison it is evil for you.
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              • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 4 years, 3 months ago
                Apologies, but that a really silly assertion. Sure my choices sometimes causes me consternation but the resolution is never traumatic or painful to me or anyone else. Its only my stating that my belief is different than yours that you choose to judge it and label it (and me). Personally, I would not do the same to you or almost anyone else (except islam). We've talked very much about my Conservatism and how I find it mostly aligned with Objectivism. Neither of those two life philosophies are hurt or are hurting me by my believing in an afterlife.
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            • Posted by MinorLiberator 4 years, 3 months ago
              With all due respect, you may as well look up the definition on Wikipedia. Rand and Objectivism are a revolutionary philosophy challenging, and I'm reaching deep into memory here to an early review of Atlas Shrugged, so this is a paraphrase: "a work...challenging 3000 years of Judeo-Christian philosophy". That's an appeal to authority which carries no weight.
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            • Posted by nsnelson 4 years, 3 months ago
              I think defining terms is part of the problem in this dialogue. Rand uses some terms in different ways than I am used to, and this can cause confusion, especially among her critics who are not disposed to a charitable interpretation. I typically think of the term ‘value’ as a custom (e.g., family values), which we typically classify as good or bad; Rand means the technical ethical sense: a ‘value’ is that which one acts to gain and keep. We typically think of ‘virtue’ as moral goodness (e.g., a virtuous man has good values); Rand says, “‘Virtue’ is the action by which one gains and keeps” (AS, P3C7) one’s values. We typically think of ‘morality’ as ethics or the study of right and wrong; Rand means the system of values one chooses. In that sense, I think it can be said that some morals are subjective (many details of your code of morality depend on your personal desires and goals). But some morals can be said to be objective, derived from man's nature (e.g., A is A, man's nature is to live: so it is morally wrong to offensively end a man's life, or infringe upon his private property).
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      • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
        I think AJ is right. It is social.
        If your Robinson Crusoe, all alone, you need no moral code. You can tread on no one's toes but your own.
        There is no morality of necessity.
        Man lived just fine as hunter/gatherer. Hand to mouth.
        What you're talking about is "preparedness". that goes beyond the simple foraging to conscience effort to plan.

        Is Preparedness moral, or just smart?

        Objectively, farting feels good, so you do it.
        Subjectively, you don't fart in an elevator...unless by yourself.
        Ergo, morality only matters when there's a witness.
        it's social.
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        • Posted by dbhalling 4 years, 3 months ago
          Robert, AJ is not right. Morality is about values. Is food a value even if you are not in a group? Of course. Is an animal or virus or a bacteria that is killing you bad whether you are in a group or not? Of course

          You might want to read The Virtue of Selfishness.
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          • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
            >The Virtue of Selfishness
            I rolled across that elsewhere and added it to my to-do list, thanks.

            Well, I think were on the same page. Unless I misread something.
            Yes, it's a about values.
            Is food moral? It's a necessity, so I don't think it counts.
            the discussion breaks down into Needs and Wants.
            I need air, I want a car.

            Moral values are only relevant in social interactions, don't you think?
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            • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
              no. from the moment you decide to own yourself, you are making da decision subject to morality
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              • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
                I'll have to chew on that.
                own yourself. I follow you, but, your definition of owning is different then mine.
                I think I own myself. I have no doubt I would own more of myself of I were off-grid.
                I know I'm tied to "the machine", we all are in one way or another, or to varying extremes.
                I'd almost have to conclude, by your statement, you cannot own yourself in a social world, because you have to tie yourself to that world, that system, that machine.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
          "Objectively, farting feels good, so you do it.
          Subjectively, you don't fart in an elevator...unless by yourself.
          Ergo, morality only matters when there's a witness.
          it's social."

          thanks for the Friday laugh, Robert. Please re-read all of the Rand quotes on this post. Her answer to your farting dilemma is there
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  • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
    Very thought provoking.

    Both.
    Morality defines what our society will be. If all I care about is me, then I have zero morality/ethics.

    Galt's Gulch cannot exist without some kind of communal code/ethic/morality.

    If the attitude is, "hooray for me, up yours", then it's perfectly acceptable for me to steal from you.
    The bible says it's not stealing if I'm hungry and I eat from your crops. I can't cart away any food - that would be stealing.
    Is lying moral, or acceptable in the gulch?
    Is lying objective or subjective? You say an Apple is worth 50 cents, I say 25 cents. Is someone lying?
    You say, well, I got $X into growing it, and I expect X amount of harvest this year, ergo, they're 50 cents - objective.
    I say, I think you have too much profit margin - subjective.
    Whose wrong?
    No, you cant gain knowledge of morality scientifically, because you can't quantify it.

    @Rocky: "...that morality is subjective. If it feels good to me..."
    I might argue that, "if it feels good..." is objective. Considering "needs" not "wants" (owning an ipad feels good, so it's ok to steal it). Considering food. "I'm hungry, eating feels good" stealing it is objective - you need to eat, it isn't an option.

    --->> "My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to LIVE. ..."
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    • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
      I think this might address some of your points.

      "What is morality, or ethics? It is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions—the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life. Ethics, as a science, deals with discovering and defining such a code.

      The first question that has to be answered, as a precondition of any attempt to define, to judge or to accept any specific system of ethics, is: Why does man need a code of values?

      Let me stress this. The first question is not: What particular code of values should man accept? The first question is: Does man need values at all—and why?" TVOS (same source above)

      "Ethics is an objective, metaphysical necessity of man’s survival. . . .

      I quote from Galt’s speech: “Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice—and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man—by choice; he has to hold his life as a value—by choice; he has to learn to sustain it—by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues—by choice. A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality.”

      The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics—the standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.

      Since reason is man’s basic means of survival, that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; that which negates, opposes or destroys it is the evil. Since everything man needs has to be discovered by his own mind and produced by his own effort, the two essentials of the method of survival proper to a rational being are: thinking and productive work." TVOS

      I believe this above addresses the stealing question. The concept of man qua man does not allow for theft, because man cannot live by theft-someone has to be productive. Your need to survive never creates a right, but if you are otherwise a good person and you are in a situation of starving (most likely in the modern world it's because someone else is stealing and inhibiting your ability to work) you may take back from a thief. If the govt is inhibiting your ability to produce or stealing from you it is not immoral to steal them. If a crony is getting rich off of you and "steal" from them, that's not necessarily immoral. see Ragnar in Atlas Shrugged. Your other point about commerce is really about a proper and moral system of economics which is capitalism. Capitalism has an objective purpose and efficiency for determining prices: an market nor manipulated by the government.
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      • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
        You are such an asset to us.

        I think that gets to my "both" response. You presented two situations in which you want to put one definition on and I don't think you can.

        >>"Ethics is an objective, metaphysical necessity of man’s survival. . . .

        Yes, I agree. The ethics of necessity. this is neither good nor evil, it's a "must".
        which answers this question, "Why does man need a code of values? " He doesn't "need" a code of values.
        Without this, you're suicidal (or just frickin stupid - low IQ is an option).

        The subjective ethics is the ethics of desire/want, not need/survival.

        >>...cannot live by theft-someone has to be productive.
        hmmm. I never really considered that, in that way, you can't steal what wasn't produced by another.

        When I look at things like this, I try to look at them from a primitive perspective, not a modern day one. Modern day just muddies the water.
        If I'm hungry, and I hunt and kill a rabbit, and I eat that rabbit. I might feel guilty that I killed it, that leads to a objective moral consideration - I had to eat, but I killed a cute bunny, I could have eaten acorns instead (subjective). Maybe, you and I were hunting the same rabbit, I got it first, I ate it, you starved and died. I could have shared it? The objective code would have been, "hooray for me, you die".
        This scenario removes the "theft" from the equation because the rabbit belonged to no one other then itself (who had no objective input into his fate)

        Ethics of compassion. This is something many Libertarians, and Objectivist's get accused of lacking. I consider myself a compassionate, and charitable person, but I struggle to understand how that fits with Liberatians/Objectivists - (this is coming from a recovering Republican).
        I'll tell you one thing, Rand Paul better get this defined before he runs for President.
        I don't think there's one person up here that isn't compassionate or charitable in some manner. But, the Libertarian/Objectists own label of "Selfish" (which I understand and agree with) doesn't help the cause.
        If your house is on fire the Conservative will make a donation to the Fire department, the Liberal will demand a government agency regulate burning in the city limits, and Libertarian will tell you, "you should throw some water on that".
        Throwing water on your house is not a necessity (subjective) to me, but it is to you (objective).
        I'd like to be the guy that at least gives you a bucket of water (objectively a good guy)

        This is why I think the question you posed is very important.

        sorry about the diatribe ... again. :-)
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        • Posted by  $  winterwind 4 years, 3 months ago
          Actually, Robert, in your "house on fire" example, you're spot on in the first 2 examples. The Libertarian would think, then act accordingly.
          If he's on the way to his chemotherapy appointment, stopping wouldn't cross his mind.
          If he's out for a walk, and it's late summer, and he knows that with no house, you're going to be cold in the winter and he doesn't want a valuable member of his society to be both cold and desperate, he'd probably stop, and say "Let's throw some water on that."
          The choices are endless, and they are all the result of one thing: conscious thought.
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          • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
            ok, but if someone were on their way to a chemo treatment I wouldn't expect them to stop, they get a pass on that. they might make a passing comment, "keep your fire on your house, and off mine" :-)
            The question becomes, does the libertarian stop to help throw water on it, or does he make marshmellows?
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        • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
          I'll just address the last statement you made. (btw, I did not down point you) You offer a bucket of water to your neighbor because it is in your rational self interest to do so. You would want help if your house was on fire. However, to indiscriminately give for the sake of giving isn't compassionate because you might be giving to addiction, etc. You need to discern. I have known people to give away close to their last dollar and then turn around and ask for money. Rational self interest
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          • Posted by  $  RobertFl 4 years, 3 months ago
            point down? i don't look at that.
            most people don't know how to use that, so it has little meaning.

            self interest. interesting, because my throwing water on my neighbors house has no self interest unless a) my house might catch on fire, b) my neighbor becomes homeless and thus a burden to me.
            I do it because it's the moral thing to do.
            Does that mean "moral" is something we do because we can, and not because we have to?
            that would make it subjective, would it not?

            No need to tell me about giving to addiction. I've learned the hard way that there are some people that won't help themselves even when you give them the tools to do it. and it hurt me very much to have to let that person hit rock bottom to figure that out. Too much compassion.
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  • Posted by ReasonVersesEmotion 4 years, 3 months ago
    Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

    George Washington 1796
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  • Posted by infinitybbc 4 years, 3 months ago
    "Christianity (and other western faiths), while they superficially seem to support similar moral views, assumes that we are all not adults but sheep, who need a shepherd to lead us."

    the key word here is "superficially". ;-) sure, leadership is part of that equation, but not necessarily in such a collectivist tyrannical form.

    the truth of the matter, Biblically speaking, is that God gives mankind the free will to either act in accordance with Natural Law, or to violate it.

    my personal reason has led me to understand that both morals & ethics are secondary to Natural Law. therefore, one would be more accurate saying that the manner of one's morals & ethics are directly resultant upon how one respects the Natural Rights of others.

    Natural Law pre-exists the individual, and then the manner in which one respects Natural Law yields the fruits of good, or bad, morals & ethics. Civil Law is then crafted afterwards, and in a libertarian society, Civil Law can never supersede Natural Law, or the Natural Rights of the individual as derived from Natural Law. this is why the American founders called individual Natural Rights "unalienable".

    collectivists & anarchists both have not yet grasped that in order to maximize liberty in a society, unalienable individual natural rights must be protected & preserved through the rule of law.

    if more individuals among the liberty movement understood this, the liberty moment would certainly have grown more than it has thus far. too many LINO-Anarchists (Libertarians In Name Only) have called themselves "libertarians", and now the masses believe that libertarians are those who want NO government whatsoever, which 1. won't work, and 2. even if it did, it's a NO SELL to the voting masses.

    Ron Paul set the record straight by adhering to these concepts of Natural Rights to maximize liberty, and this garnered massive support among the "uneducated" masses.

    yet, try to explain how a STATE committed to uphold Natural Law in its governance would serve to maximize liberty in a country to the LINO-Anarchist and they just call you a "STATIST!"

    while i have thus far agreed with much of Ayn Rand's version of "Objectivism", perhaps the Objectivist movement is also somewhat caught up a but too much in all this banter about morals & ethics (& selfishness) without giving enough consideration to Natural Law and it's, shall i say, "objective standard" by which morals & ethics are derived.

    as i continue in my studies regarding Natural Law vs Civil Law, i'm occasionally challenged to consider potential confusion which arises from pondering over what is a natural right, and what isn't.

    getting back to Biblical Christianity exemplifying respect of Natural Law...

    while i don't have any kind of all encompassing list of natural rights, nor would i presume to fully create such a thing, one good place to begin such consideration is with those fundamental natural laws/rights protected by the second half of the Ten Commandments, which have been adopted by a variety of cultures throughout history, from ancient Israel to our own American culture, and even our supreme civil law upon whose foundations it was originally based:

    Commandment 6: right to life — murder & violence prohibited;
    • Commandment 7: right to private contract — adultery prohibited; no individual or collective (including a state) can justly interfere in private contracts;
    • Commandment 8: right to property — theft prohibited;
    • Commandment 9: right to be protected from damages resultant from false representation — intentional deceit prohibited;
    • Commandment 10: right to privacy — spying upon individuals prohibited; direct taxes prohibited; while coveting property of another begins only with a thought and can therefore not be directly regulated through rule of civil law, one who minds his own business and respects the natural right to privacy of others finds it difficult to covet.

    all of these natural rights should be agreeable to humans in general, let alone anyone calling themselves any form of "libertarian”. if not, then i would seriously question how they view their philosophy as being supportive of liberty.

    8-)
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  • Posted by Matcha 4 years, 3 months ago
    Beautifully written. Just one comment. Most science and religion is not absolute truth. Science like religion is our best explanation of things we seek to explain. Since we need a moral code couldn't religion serve a purpose? Religious adults are not idiots. I remember my Mother stating after church that the minister wasn't going to tell her what to think. To be an athiest now seems almost like their religion to me. They are insulting if you disagree and want to treat you like you couldn't possibly have enough intelligence to have already thought of their arguments yourself. Mostly they like to make a snide comment and have you keep quiet. If you argue they decide that religion should've be discussed.
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  • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 3 months ago
    A small group of people can have an individual relationship with each other person in the group without the need for a moral framework - the interactions are basically feudal or tribal. You cannot build a civilization on this basis, however - just too many people. For a civilization (which is required for exponential technological growth) you need a common moral ground so that everyone knows the 'rules' of behavior.

    So to answer khalling's question as to "Why we need morality." the answer is so that morality provides a method that allows "Large groups of people to interact with each other in a positive manner."

    Insofar as 'What' those morals need to be, the most relevant body of knowledge that I know of (Game Theory) indicates that in a non-anonymous group who engage in repeated interactions, honesty, integrity, and fairness are advantages. In an interaction that is unique or anonymous, acting in an unscrupulous and immediately successful manner is the winner.

    No, I am not making this up - this is what experiments have shown. These factors should be taken into consideration in structuring a society. (It is actually effective to call for transparency, evidently.)

    Jan
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    • Posted by jdg 4 years, 3 months ago
      This is a good case in favor of the need for a set of consistent laws, and I agree with that. But laws and morality are two different things. (I consider it morally wrong for laws to ban actions that don't violate the moral rights of another person, but that presupposes that we've agreed on a moral code, which is what I think we're attempting to do in this thread, so let's not argue circularly.)
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  • Posted by bassboat 4 years, 3 months ago
    Reason? Objective? Look outside around you. This came from nothing? That idea takes more faith than to believe that there is a creator. What man did miracles and was never refuted? Many witnesses could have come forward to refute Him but none did. I suggest that you check your facts.
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    • Posted by jdg 4 years, 3 months ago
      This argument has been refuted many times. Read Richard Dawkins' "The Blind Watchmaker".
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      • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 3 months ago
        Entropy also says that the natural order of things is to tend toward disorder - not order. Unless there is an organizing force, information degrades - not compiles. You can't create something more complex from less under entropy without expending energy in a very targeted way - both of which are the antithesis of random action.

        Did you know that the process of coagulation in blood takes seventeen separate steps and only the completion of the entire chain results in stability? And that's just one example of complexity in the human body - the greatest "watch" known. There are countless others. And you would have me discard Occam's Razor and believe the MOST unlikely scenario - that all around us was a matter of chance that mathematically equates to a probability that exceeds by hundreds of orders of magnitude the entire number of atoms in the universe? The same probability that one wins the lottery every day for more than 100 years?

        I applaud you for your belief, because I don't have enough faith to be an atheist (also the title of a pretty good book).
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  • Posted by jdg 4 years, 3 months ago
    If morality were a matter of objective fact, then it should be testable (falsifiable) in the laboratory, at least in principle. Would anyone like to suggest an experiment that would test a moral assertion?
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    • Posted by 4 years, 3 months ago
      yes, it is. Let's look at the US vs USSR. extremely testable
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      • Posted by jdg 4 years, 3 months ago
        You can certainly show some comparative facts about (1) economic success, by various measures and probably also (2) public satisfaction, which tend to show that the US did better than the USSR by both those measures during the 74 years that the USSR existed. You may even be able to show causation, though that's a harder problem.

        But to go from there to a moral preference still requires a judgment call, does it not?
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 3 months ago
    I would posit this: morality is the code by which one lives in order to achieve a goal. The real question in mind is the goal, because the morality will be inherently derived from the goal. Purpose is everything.

    So the question "is morality necessary" is a red herring in and of itself. The real question is this: what is the goal of existence. Answer THAT question and everything flows from there.
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