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 Topic: What does it mean to be moral?

 (Read 4462 times)
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  • What does it mean to be moral?
     OP - March 13, 2011, 07:24 PM

    What (and why) do we base our ethics on - what makes something right or wrong?

    Discuss.

    (Yes I know the question is rather vague and the subject is very broad.)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #1 - March 13, 2011, 07:26 PM

    It's been done here. Search for Jeremy Bentham. Sorry.

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #2 - March 13, 2011, 07:29 PM

    Well I want to do it again.
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #3 - March 13, 2011, 07:32 PM

    OK, cool, I did not like the other thread anyway Smiley

    I think Freud was right. Something about suppressing our inner animal and sublimation. IDK

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #4 - March 13, 2011, 07:36 PM

    Don't you want to find out?
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #5 - March 13, 2011, 07:38 PM

    I would love to. But I already made up my mind that he is right and I need to work, thus I will wait for your thoughts.

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #6 - March 13, 2011, 07:40 PM

    Well could you elaborate about what he actually said?
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #7 - March 13, 2011, 07:53 PM

    The satisfaction of making my conscience soar with happiness at my actions is a main reason.

    I'm open for debate (of why we should re-/embrace Islam), but I will no longer participate in this forum. Message me if you need anything. Good luck and may you all find your way... again...
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #8 - March 13, 2011, 08:00 PM

    Well could you elaborate about what he actually said?


    Prince, I am terribly afraid to embarrass myself in front of MaB, muddy and Islame, as I have read the theory quickly and remember it vaguely, but it was better than the other ones that I know. Here's my rough recollection: We are mostly chimps who have the same needs and passions and that would naturally make us motherfuckers and brother killers. Humans have learned that there is better way and teach these morals (unnatural ideas about behavior) to our kids who internalize those values (morals) and then find their natural impulses disgusting.

    On top of that I add that morals are necessary for humans as their are for all smarter social animals because of competition  with necessity of cooperation in order to survive.

    Now tell me the truth.

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #9 - March 13, 2011, 08:04 PM

    The satisfaction of making my conscience soar with happiness at my actions is a main reason.


    +1

    My mind is my own church.
    -Thomas Paine
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #10 - March 13, 2011, 08:32 PM

    The satisfaction of making my conscience soar with happiness at my actions is a main reason.


    Yeah I think it's hard to escape the idea that all human actions are ultimately selfish. But we don't base our moral code on that, because it would mean that no human action is immoral.
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #11 - March 13, 2011, 08:49 PM

    Prince, I am terribly afraid to embarrass myself in front of MaB, muddy and Islame, as I have read the theory quickly and remember it vaguely, but it was better than the other ones that I know. Here's my rough recollection: We are mostly chimps who have the same needs and passions and that would naturally make us motherfuckers and brother killers. Humans have learned that there is better way and teach these morals (unnatural ideas about behavior) to our kids who internalize those values (morals) and then find their natural impulses disgusting.

    On top of that I add that morals are necessary for humans as their are for all smarter social animals because of competition  with necessity of cooperation in order to survive.

    Now tell me the truth.


    Well I completely disagree with Freud's assessment. What chimps had he been assessing? They have a sense of responsibility, they share food with less fortunate members, they offer and repay favours etc

    I don't think our evolution was so crude as to make us all rapists/murderers.
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #12 - March 13, 2011, 08:52 PM

    Right, they are just like us, they kill, they fight, they take away food from weaker ones, when they are not in a sharing mood, except we make laws and write them down to define consequences for actions against the weak ones. I'm not sure what you are disagreeing with?

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #13 - March 13, 2011, 08:55 PM

    Also, I don't believe we are discussing Freud as much as pseudofreudism by pseudofroidist Alex LM. Freud, on the other hand, was a genius, so it shouldn't be so easy to debunk him as you make it sound.

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #14 - March 13, 2011, 08:55 PM

    That our morals are 'unnatural ideas about behavior'. What does that even mean?
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #15 - March 13, 2011, 08:57 PM

    Also, I don't believe we are discussing Freud as much as pseudofreudism by pseudofroidist Alex LM. Freud, on the other hand, was a genius, so it shouldn't be so easy to debunk him as you make it sound.


    Plenty of geniuses have made elaborative arguments that can be debunked in a sentence. Though of course, finding a flaw in a theory is far easier than synthesising one.
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #16 - March 13, 2011, 08:59 PM

    Matt from the Atheist experience explains it pretty accurately and simply .
    what we base our ethics on ,
    evaluation of  the consequences of my actions in regards to my surroundings .

    as for why :
    it feels thorough,necessary,peaceful..etc as luftazure implied, it serves an emotional purpose and contributes to a sense of humble confidence .

    having said that, do the Pirahas tribe relate to a sense of morality ? seeing as they didn't establish civilized social limitations ? i doubt they have a word for it and might consider it as Natural behavior.


    STOP RESPONDING .I'M NOT ABLE TO SEND THIS THROUGH! grin12

    "Tomorrow is the today you were worried about yesterday" Unknown
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #17 - March 13, 2011, 09:00 PM

    That our morals are 'unnatural ideas about behavior'. What does that even mean?


    Have you read Oedipus? Tell me what the story was about. Do you claim that monkeys do not practice incest? I am disgusted just typing this word.

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #18 - March 13, 2011, 09:09 PM

    Have you read Oedipus? Tell me what the story was about.


    I haven't no.

    Quote
    Do you claim that monkeys do not practice incest? I am disgusted just typing this word.


    I would be very surprised if it was a frequent practice.
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #19 - March 13, 2011, 09:13 PM

    Interesting question, Mr. Spinoza. I wrote a mini-treatise to a Christian poster on the subject of an objective yet secular form of ethics which I submit for the perusal of any interested individual:

    Quote
    Firstly, we got to get a distinction out of the way.

    When I say, 'objective morality'  I mean a morality that is consistent and objectively applicable to every individual; a morality that doesn't grant any special privileges to anyone arbitrarily.

    What I think you think I mean is an absolute morality, something that's an intrinsic, immutable part of existence. Hence why you ask me for 'evidence.' Of course, no physical evidence for morality exists, any more than it does for logic. You would have to presuppose logic in order to prove that it exists.

    So just to be clear, I mean an objective morality, not an absolute one.

    Now you say that it is circular because you say I presuppose the objectives of morality. That is, to protect people from the undue harm of others. Whereas you say that another person could just as easily come up with different objectives for morality, and could devise a morality to fit those objectives.

    It's entirely true that another person could come along and devise a morality that is entirely different. Just as someone could come along and devise a variant of the scientific method.

    But here's the thing. Both morality and scientific inquiry are means to an end, one to manage the interaction of humans (or indeed other animals) in a society/group, and the other to discern what is true and what is not.

    Like the scientific method, morality is essential for social beings. Neither of these things do people simply have because they 'prefer' them. Both morality and an effective method of determining what is true are essential for the survival of humanity. Our choosing these things over moral and epistemic nihilism is not a matter of preference.

    Consider, you are a philosophical nihlist. However, I'm pretty sure that you have a moral sense. You apply a standard of morality to your own behaviour and to that of others, because you have no choice. Morality is an intrinsic part of a human, as well as some other social animals.

    One can be a philosophical nihilist in a theoretical sense, but not in a practical one. It is simply not possible to live in a disordered society, nor is it desirable. Yes, people prefer not to live as nihilists, but that still doesn't mean that preference is the basis for morality.

    And so, since morality is fundamentally the means by which we attempt to preserve society and the people in it and given that it is an essential part of the human make-up, we have no choice in a applying it. The need for morality is not a matter of preference. Moral nihilism is not a viable option.

    Therefore, given the complete inapplicability of nihilism, and the necessity of morality, it is best to develop a kind of morality that is most consistent with the fundamental principles of morality, as mentioned above.

    And here it is. You say, 'but someone could come up with different moral prerogatives. Nothing mandates that any person must adhere to your moral objectives.'

    Correct. There is nothing that compels anyone to accept any form of morality. Nor is there anything that compels a person to be philosophically consistent.

    But given the necessity of humans exercising moral judgement, and given that morality is the means by which humans attempt to best manage their society and protect the individuals in it, some moral ideas will be more effective at securing the objectives of morality than others.

    Here you object to the assumption that morality is about 'protecting individuals in society,' because someone else could come up with different moral prerogatives. Yes, they could.

    However, as I stated, morality is essential, just as language and emprical inquiry are. Given the essential nature of morality, and these other things, any moral or like system that founded itself (purely theoretically speaking) on arbitrary or absurd premises or notions would be completely abortive from the outset.

    You see, someone could similarly develop a system of empirical inquiry that had poor standards of evidence or the like. But such a system would be completely unable to fulfil the purpose for which it exists in the first place. As a result, no one would or could adopt it as a viable  system with any useful practical application. And given that knowing what is true and false is a matter of necessity and survival, such a system could not exist other than in a purely theoretical setting.

    It is the same with morality. It is something with practical application, and the very objective of it, just like with empirical inquiry, is to achieve some necessary end in the real world. Systems that fail to produce the desired end are discarded.

    And so, while it is theoretically possible to develop a morality based on arbitrary principles, it is not practically possible, and therefore such systems would simply be jettisoned as useless.

    Actual morality does not work like that. Morality is to be applied in the  real world to protect the individuals in it as that is the universal purpose of morality in the first place, although some systems are better at it than others.

    The system that I advocate is simply one which seeks to place all people on the same level and give no one any special, arbitrary privilege.

    So again you may say, 'Well, that's just your moral perspective. Someone else may say that certain people have certain exclusive privileges.'

    To which I say, but such a morality would rely on invoking premises that don't really have any basis, and which do not conform to the fundamental purpose of morality in the first place. At the same time, a morality that relied on such arbitrary axioms could just as easily be twisted to suit any other individual or group.

    The whole result of such a morality would complete moral disorder and chaos, and thus the end for which morality is developed in the first place would not be reachable, necessitating the return to its basic premises.

    So, given these problems with arbitrary or contradictory morality, I claim that there is a morality that need not cause such complications, and because it is the morality that conforms most closely to the objective, necessary aims of morality, it is therefore this moralty that should be adopted in place of others.

    How to affect this if no-one is compelled to be consistent or objective?

    Well, I believe it's partly down to the fundamental desire of humans to be consistent and objective. Of course, people will often suspend such things in the case of cultural, ideological or religious bias, but by and large, people still possess the ability to discern what is consistent and what is not, even if it conflicts with what they would rather believe.

    I imagine that you're a reasonable person, so, suppose if I persuaded you that one of your positions was inconsistent or unsupported, would you then continue to adhere to it and consciously regard it as still being valid or true? Most likely not, even if you wanted the proposition to be true.

    I think morality works in the same way. People can be and are persuaded by ideas that are more consistent and invoke less problems than their own, even if an obstinate person may persist in believing contradictory things.

    I see the argument as something more like this:

    Morality is necessary -- protecting individuals within society is the necessary goal of morality --  therefore, moral premises can/should only be applied if they are consistent with this necessary aim of morality

    Note also that there is no necessary premise of morality that is to arbitrarily elevate or give special rights to any specific group. That is an interpolated idea that is not universally applicable, as it itself is merely asserted and is not an axiom of morality.

    Your 'vantage point' is the necessary goal of morality, which is understood, all be it not entirely consistently, by most human beings.

    And the definition of logic isn't a matter of preference, but the degree to which one applies it consistently can be. People often fail to notice non-sequiturs and poor deduction and induction.

    You see, someone is likewise perfectly able to develop an inconsistent world-view. That does not mean, however, that a truly consistent and logically sound way of looking at reality doesn't exist. It is the same for morality.

    As for the consistency of the nihlist; I doubt it very much. Nihlism itself is a non-position with respect to morality and so there aren't even any moral premises to be inconsistent with each other. As for the nihlist themselves, I find it very hard to believe that there is a human that is even capable of lacking a moral sense of some kind, however ill-developed.

    Like I said, a person may be, in the philosophical sense, a nihlist, but the fact that they live in a human society as a rational being precludes them for being a nihlist in any practical and even psychological sense.

    You will not find physical evidence to support the existence of morality, any more than you will find the evidence you need to show that logic exists. Some things fall out of the sphere of physical, empirical evidence.

    To summarise, morality is a necessary part of a human being, and morality has a necessary goal that is not arbitrarily decided by human beings but which may be said to intrinsic to our understanding of morality. Just as we have an intrinsic understanding of what we have to do to find out what is and is not the case in the physical world. The goals of both of these things are not decided by us, nor are they a matter of simple preference.

    And I say, that the morality that I believe in is not absolute. It is contingent upon a social context and other rational moral agents. So, you will not find 'evidence' of it as such as it is not some intrinsic part of the universe.

    I think you're saying that it is 'just a matter of preference' is too simplistic. I mean, one can say that it is just a matter of preference whether we choose to breathe or not. It's not really something that we can consciously choose to do or neglect to do. In the cases of both morality and breathing, these are things that are simply intrinsic to our nature, while they might not be necessary in an absolute sense.


    It's hardly perfect or complete, but I think it does have some value as a rough overview.
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #20 - March 13, 2011, 11:14 PM

    I haven't no.

    I would be very surprised if it was a frequent practice.


    1. You have the name of a great philosopher yet you don't know the classics.

    2. You haven't done the research on the subject, yet you reject pseudofreudian ideas. Intriguing.

    Here's a question for you to consider: why do so called sacred texts order people not to steal, not to murder and not to practice incest? Do you think it is because the human animal has no desires to act on those instinct or is it because their infrequent practice has made them a non-problem, requiring no moral norms?

    As you proudly claim to be ignorant of the subject I will not look up the statistics of prevalence of inbreeding in the mammal kingdom either. Let's just wish the facts into existence with our a priori knowledge.

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #21 - March 13, 2011, 11:41 PM

    1. You have the name of a great philosopher yet you don't know the classics.


    I started reading books around last September. I have heard of it, but there a lot of 'classics' I haven't read.

    Quote
    2. You haven't done the research on the subject, yet you reject pseudofreudian ideas. Intriguing.


    I reject the idea that we're all inherent 'motherfuckers and brother killers', yes. And unless you can prove this claim, I will continue to reject it.

    Quote
    Here's a question for you to consider: why do so called sacred texts order people not to steal, not to murder and not to practice incest? Do you think it is because the human animal has no desires to act on those instinct or is it because their infrequent practice has made them a non-problem, requiring no moral norms?


    What makes you think I claim that humans don't ever have such desires?  Huh?

    Quote
    As you proudly claim to be ignorant of the subject I will not look up the statistics of prevalence of inbreeding in the mammal kingdom either. Let's just wish the facts into existence with our a priori knowledge.


    Right.
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #22 - March 13, 2011, 11:42 PM

    Interesting question, Mr. Spinoza. I wrote a mini-treatise to a Christian poster on the subject of an objective yet secular form of ethics which I submit for the perusal of any interested individual:

    It's hardly perfect or complete, but I think it does have some value as a rough overview.


    Could you elaborate on

    "Morality is necessary -- protecting individuals within society is the necessary goal of morality --  therefore, moral premises can/should only be applied if they are consistent with this necessary aim of morality"

  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #23 - March 14, 2011, 02:14 AM

    Quote
    "Morality is necessary -- protecting individuals within society is the necessary goal of morality --  therefore, moral premises can/should only be applied if they are consistent with this necessary aim of morality"


    Yuck, that was badly written. But I assume you want me to comment on the bold part, so here goes.

    Quote
    protecting individuals within society is the necessary goal of morality


    This is the natural, default purpose of morality. You see, my opponent in that exchange contended that without an 'objective' basis for morality, one could, theoretically, formulate a morality from entirely purposeless and arbitrary premises. My main point in that post was to show that morality exists for a very specific purpose, just as, say, human language does. Given then its purpose, one cannot in practice, or really even in theory, devise a morality that is entirely arbitrary. I mean, one could, but it would be akin to creating a language that contained only pointless and useless vocabulary.

    I contend that because morality has at its core a specific purpose (the protection of the individual and thereby the protection of society as a whole), one cannot insert or incorporate any arbitrary premise into the formula because any such premise will have no bearing on the goal of morality, or it will positively contradict it. At the same time, the inclusion of such arbitrary concepts is precluded by the need of morality to be applicable in a practical sense. It has to be effective in its application, and so to use a morality that, for example, arbitrarily favours or discriminates against certain groups is to use a morality that is neither consistent with the theoretical basis of morality (the protection of the individual) nor that is effective in application, as such a morality would, by its very nature, contravene the very purpose of morality.

    But yes, morality is an essential part of humans and human society. It is necessary for survival but also for the advancement and preservation of human civilisation. It functions like a tool, much like language or the scientific method. Therefore, since it serves a particular function, it will not be the case that any premise one might introduce to one's moral philosophy will have equal merit or value. Some will not be consistent with the ultimate purpose and some will.
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #24 - March 14, 2011, 02:29 AM

    I don't contend that. ^ But where do we go from there? What do we decide is moral and what not?
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #25 - March 14, 2011, 03:05 AM

    I've bookmarked this thread and will, insha'Allah, clarify my position tomorrow. I have to be up quite early tomorrow, see.
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #26 - March 14, 2011, 06:11 AM



    I reject the idea that we're all inherent 'motherfuckers and brother killers', yes. And unless you can prove this claim, I will continue to reject it.



    Right.


    Why should I prove anything to you, when we have morals? The mere existence of morals reveals our nature: it is doing what we shouldn't. Analyze your dreams, my dear, Freud was very smart. I would be very much surprised if he believed in "objective morality" LOL

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #27 - March 14, 2011, 06:19 AM

    I was hoping for something more specific ^
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #28 - March 14, 2011, 06:24 AM

    I can not be more specific for reasons I cannot say due to my morals^
    (I am not trying to be cute, it's the truth)

    "That it is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger" (The Koran 69:40)
  • Re: What does it mean to be moral?
     Reply #29 - March 14, 2011, 09:42 AM

    I've bookmarked this thread


    same here but I will be most probably stalking Wink keep the thread alive guys Afro

    "Religion is the purposeful suspension of critical thinking" Bill Maher
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