Author Topic: Without Moral Objectivism, Can we form Political Beliefs?  (Read 616 times)

Re: Without Moral Objectivism, Can we form Political Beliefs?
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2021, 08:30:12 PM »
If you are able to offer or entertain this idea, you are a white, heterosexual male.

I am not ONE of these. I'll leave it to you to figure out which one. (Since you're the expert).

Are you saying only white people care about moral realism? Because that's false. Right off the top of my head I can think of a number of black thinkers who have given the issue an incredible amount of consideration (MLK, Cornel West). One of my black philosophy professors spoke passionately on the issue, and I bet if you reproduced what you wrote in your last post in an email to him, he'd call YOU a racist. (I'll furnish you with his email if you want.) I HOPE you aren't a white person going around saying that no black person cares about moral objectivity.

You are politicizing something that isn't inherently political. Reading what you wrote as charatibly as I can, I think your concern may be that a culture or system may use "objective morals" as an excuse to coerce or control people of a different culture or system.

My personal response to that is that fundamental to my ethics is "nonviolence." And that includes "soft" forms of violence like poverty, exploitation, control, and coercion. I certainly take a page from Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" in my thinking about ethics and society. My primary moral concern is "how to do good"... NOT "how to stop bad." I'm a pacifist. I want to achieve the highest good using very little violence (or none at all, if possible). And this INCLUDES "soft" violence (poverty, coercion, or more subtle kinds of violence).

To me, and many others, ethics is not JUST a grand societal concern. It affects how you treat people in one on one relationships and exists independently of any present societal structure or social force. Sure, moral thinking comes into play at a societal level, but "the rubber hits the road" so to speak in plain ol' interpersonal relationships. I'm trying to make arguments geared at those who want to "do the most good with their lives" NOT people who want to control the actions of others.

I didn't read your Rush Limbaugh post. Sorry. Whatever you thought was a reference to it (as it turns out) wasn't about you.

You presume WAY too much about me. You think I have ideas about civil liberties when I haven't explained ANYTHING about my position concerning civil liberties.

I AM aware that men and boys were sold into sexual servitude in ancient times. I even thought about mentioning it, but I didn't because I was keeping the subject matter concise. And (on the whole, under the Roman paterfamilias cultural paradigm) the exploitation of women was far more systemic than that of men or boys. Though each is equally deplorable.

What is it with you and efficiency? Do you need to go back through the thread and see why I brought the word up? Somebody asked for clarification. I said I WASN'T talking about efficiency. (Because a benevolent dictator is the most efficient in the conception of some.) I wonder if you are even comprehending the conversation, and you just wanted to step in and yell "racist" because you think it's a "white person's conversation or something."

If I'm wrong about that, then let's start the conversation over. You make your case about justice being standards again (because I'm not quite clear on what you meant) and then I'll respond with my thoughts.

But if you want to hold to the "anyone who cares about this is obviously a straight white male" schtick, then you need to go have a conversation with ANY black/gay/female philosophy professor so they can set you straight. Even if they personally don't care (which I bet they do), they'll at least tell you that many, many, many philosophers who are not straight white males care about moral realism.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2021, 10:42:43 PM by Vulcan »

Re: Without Moral Objectivism, Can we form Political Beliefs?
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2021, 09:54:44 PM »
[quote author=Vulcan link=topic=14234.msg1298606#msg1298606 date=1616109288

What I'm arguing is, like math, morality isn't a matter of opinion. You can get it wrong. Not that it has some kind of supernatural existence or anything.

Interesting discussion.  I must disagree--morality and ethics are a matter of opinion within whatever society one is discussing.  There is no objective morality.  The correct or moral way to act within any society is determined by what is accepted by most.  There is no 'higher authority' to help us determine what morality is.  That is why I think the best govt. is a constitutional republic.  The problem with that is that while the laws and rules of conduct are spelled out, they must be enforced and enforced equally on all members of a society.

I blame theists for this kind of thinking. We've all heard it before, "how can you have morality without a supreme being?"

Well, I think you can. The same way we can state mathematical and logical propositions, we can come up with potential "moral facts" and debate them for validity. True, there is much controversy and disagreement concerning how this should be done (or even if it can be done). But truth ain't always easy. So, maybe it's worth investigating

Let's not make the discussion about laws and rules. Laws and rules are there so that society can function. If you intentionally destroy a person's hopes and dreams, just because you enjoy watching them suffer... you may not have broken any law. (And maybe there should be no law that prevents this behavior.) But that's not to say you haven't done something morally wrong.

That's what I'm talking about here: what actions are right vs what actions are wrong. (And is there an objective way to tell the difference.) I'm NOT asking what actions are punishable or ought to have legal consequences.

In my view (and I'm an atheist) we can deduce morality using a few axioms, a basic principle or principles, and logic can do the rest. No god (or society) required. Neither do we require any kind of "authority" to make something right or wrong. We don't need "The Grand Arbiter of Math" to tell us that the pythagorean theorem is okay. We figure that out through logical proofs.

And that's the method I propose for approaching ethics.



The following is what I posted in another thread:

I don't subscribe to moral relativism-- one can see in shades of gray without denying black and white exist. Morals were not handed down by a higher being, they evolved up biologically and socially.


I kind of think of things the same way, although I don't necessarily think that whatever evolution has "left us with" is necessarily moral. (Not that you think that or anything, but it's an important distinction to make.) Evolution has left us with violent and destructive tendencies, but also a sense of empathy. Therefore, I don't think of things in terms of the "inclinations evolution gave us" because that's a mixed bag. But I do think of things in terms of "the good senses" evolution gave us.

Let me return to math. Our hunter/gatherer ancestors benefited from the cognitive ability to count animals (prey) in a field, or distribute berries among tribe members. This is the "nub" of our ability to do advanced mathematics. Of course, we aren't given the ability to perform calculus instinctually. We had to discover and learn calculus. But we wouldn't have been able to do so without an instinctual ability to comprehend basic numbers.

I think it's the same with morality. We have empathy. We have a sense that some things are right and others are wrong. That's the starting point that evolution gave us. But not the ending point. We need logic to parse through things and figure out a genuine system of moral thinking. We need to have debates where we can correct the mistakes that instinct alone provides us with.

For instance, instinct urges us to conform to our own tribe or group. But moral urges may conflict with group conformity at certain points. That's where the debate begins over what may be "objectively" right or wrong. And it's an on-going debate... like MATH is an ongoing debate... like SCIENCE is an ongoing debate.

We don't have the answers merely lain before us. We have to figure things out. I love the prospect of having such debates about what is right and what is wrong.  Even if we can't reasonably conclude something, we learn much along the way.

I also enjoy the meta ethical debate. "Can we really objectively determine if something is right or wrong?"

Because there are interesting arguments for all sides of this debate. Arguments that deserve our attention, because it's an important matter to work out.

Offline drunkenshoe

Re: Without Moral Objectivism, Can we form Political Beliefs?
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2021, 07:26:26 AM »
I am not ONE of these. I'll leave it to you to figure out which one. (Since you're the expert).

I see. But you have avoided the point again. You -me or anyone else sapient- cannot produce a premise stripped from some moral point of view or some political opinion, stripped from a personal moral point of view. 

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Are you saying only white people care about moral realism?


No, on the contrary. I'm saying, they are far more likely to see their own ‘morals’ as the 'required' standard, sometimes more than that as the objective reality and place everyting else down in the hierarchy according that.

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You are politicizing something that isn't inherently political. Reading what you wrote as charatibly as I can, I think your concern may be that a culture or system may use "objective morals" as an excuse to coerce or control people of a different culture or system.

It is political. So ‘inherently’ or not, it doesn’t require me to politicize it. 

For starters, the culture and system are not seperate form people and their actions; their personal morals. The concern(s) in building a society it's not just about one culture coercing or controlling the other culture, but the control and coercion exists between different groups in one culture. Not just wealth, ethnic, religous, gender groups, but also communities determined by occupation for example.

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My personal response to that is that fundamental to my ethics is "nonviolence." And that includes "soft" forms of violence like poverty, exploitation, control, and coercion. I certainly take a page from Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" in my thinking about ethics and society. My primary moral concern is "how to do good"... NOT "how to stop bad." I'm a pacifist. I want to achieve the highest good using very little violence (or none at all, if possible). And this INCLUDES "soft" violence (poverty, coercion, or more subtle kinds of violence).

Like everyone else. People who don't fit in your description still do things on "how to do good" according to themselves.

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To me, and many others, ethics is not JUST a grand societal concern. It affects how you treat people in one on one relationships and exists independently of any present societal structure or social force. Sure, moral thinking comes into play at a societal level, but "the rubber hits the road" so to speak in plain ol' interpersonal relationships. I'm trying to make arguments geared at those who want to "do the most good with their lives" NOT people who want to control the actions of others.

No. When somebody open fires in public places and kill people in work, school or just in street; when another person produces/designs some product knowingly that it will harm people, children; harm society (apps, social media platforms, all kinds of mumbo Jumbo homepathic health/beauty products) or create, contribute to a mass fraud like in 2008 mortgage crisis they ALL know what they are doing.  And people die or have their life ruined as a result. Elaborated example below.

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You presume WAY too much about me. You think I have ideas about civil liberties when I haven't explained ANYTHING about my position concerning civil liberties.

“Can "civil liberties in our your society" be anything other than an ethical concern? What about not wanting racism in society? (Or a society based on racism?) Is this not wholly a moral concern?”

You are not asking, IF “civil liberties” are anything other than an ethical concern or IF attached to some other concepts, things. You are asking ‘Can’ they be anything other than an ethical concern. And then add that as an example; isn’t racism only an ethical concern? Esp. that one.

No, they are not. No, it is not. That's a very specific example and familiar in this context for specific arguments which are introduced exactly the same.

Everyone presumes/assumes a lot about everyone they are interacting with some way. They just don’t say, write about it… give anything away. Because there is this fear of being wrong and embarassed about it. On the contrary, I find it writing my initial impressions openly is far more productive. Do you really care what a perfect stranger who lives some other part of the World thinks about you? Well, I don’t either. Frankly, it is better to get the first thing out, esp. if you are annoyed, right or incorrect because if the conversation goes on from there, it is almost always a better and a more meaningful one than some vague, politically correct exchange.

Having said that I’m -as you can see- a pretty emotionally reactive, opinionated person. That doesn’t mean, I can’t have a conversation. The opposite. It just needs a bit of a getting used to maybe because I think I need a different plane to do it. Sorry, if you are offended. Don’t be.

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I AM aware that men and boys were sold into sexual servitude in ancient times. I even thought about mentioning it, but I didn't because I was keeping the subject matter concise. And (on the whole, under the Roman paterfamilias cultural paradigm) the exploitation of women was far more systemic than that of men or boys. Though each is equally deplorable.  ...   I didn't read your Rush Limbaugh post. Sorry. Whatever you thought was a reference to it (as it turns out) wasn't about you. ...

Slavery is the main reason Roman Empire collapsed. It is a bad example. Considering the very elaborate slavery system in that culture, your emphasis on women as sex slaves seemed very narrow and postmodernist to be honest. With my initial impression, it looks like put there onpurpose, not because personal about me but because playing to a general field, if you get what I mean. (Boys are still sold into sexual servitude, and men live similar things with women in prostitution, legal or in human trafficking. Their numbers are not as many as children or women. Also prostitution is not that stigmatising for males, but societies are often blind to sexual attrocities when it comes to males because of the general traditional look. There are an estimated 30 million slaves in the World today in this or that way.)

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What is it with you and efficiency? Do you need to go back through the thread and see why I brought the word up? Somebody asked for clarification. I said I WASN'T talking about efficiency. (Because a benevolent dictator is the most efficient in the conception of some.) I wonder if you are even comprehending the conversation, and you just wanted to step in and yell "racist" because you think it's a "white person's conversation or something."

What is my problem. All of the below.

-"Is democracy better than despotism?" question followed by the idea about ‘civil liberties’ defined as just moral concerns, and moral concerns as obviously as arbitray feelings, beliefs and choices… being tied to the ‘they are not actually related to politics’; political ideologies etc… -as I understood from your posts- is the first part and base of (all kinds of) fascistic systems. That’s the initial step. The other part is that the main problems of society can be solved independently from these. Efficiency fits this argument perfectly. Head to toe. Because it all arrives to how the society works better in the end.

It is not about yelling racist. That’s what I saw because that’s what I’ve seen hundreds of times, probably more with this.  What is right or wrong? What do right and wrong determine? How is that related to human life and society? The end of that road is always the same. Yeah, it is a big claim, I know.

They are not just moral concerns. They are closely attached to politics, politcial idoelogies and policies made to arrange human affairs and society in every context. We just don’t see it -how can we?-  because we don’t live in a tribe with 500 people that relies on primitve agriculture. We live in cities of millions or towns of tens of thousands the least. Human capacity is limited with his arm’s length. Thinking beyond that requires great effort, and objectivity is not an option. And as there are some categories defined before us, we can’t point to something home cooked out of them. Just opinions produced taken by bits from here and there.

While there is no such thing as universal morality, humans don’t need one either. The laws and rules given created in the triangle I wrote in my first post is more than enough. The problem in my opinion is explaining human deeds/actions with morality vs immorality. Because we all -like every other kid in the world- were raised with ‘you don’t do … these things because it is wrong, bad’. Nobody explained this to us from a secular anthropological point and same thing has been going on. I mean the form the information - knowledge is given. The explanation.

The main education, justification on this around the World is shaped by religious concepts of right and wrong, gods, hell, karma... More commonly, we teach kids what they taught us: “Violance is not an answer.” Unfortunately, violance is a very good answer. Infact, it is so good just the tought of it is enough to instill fear and manipulate human behaviour drastically, instantly in a mass scale. And that takes one individual with a bomb or an automatic weapons at some cases. Pacifism do not protect people from bullets or explosives. Everyone is a pacifist when not under any threat. Everyone supports and desires for world peace.

We must not kill other human beings, unless it’s self defense. Why? Because it is wrong, baaaad, immoral and illegal? No. If we kill each other, we can’t live together. If we can’t live together as a society, we can’t survive. This seems simple. When we think about this, we can’t disregard that not everyone would kill each other, we are social animals. But then, we know that there will be some group of people who would be much better killers than others. So we need a standard. We need to treat everyone as potential killers and punish everyone who kills. Therefore, it’s illegal to kill people. This is much more important than ‘killing is wrong and bad’.

Suppose that there are two murderers. One is black, other is white. And they commit the crime in the same place, somewhere with death penalty. The white man gets life, and gets parole after serving 20 years from good behaviour, while the black man is given death penalty and executed.

Everyone wants the murderers punished, can’t imagine the pain of the victims blah blah…they want ‘justice’ because most people see justice as revenge or some sense of sacred closure, some functional fear as an example. But justice/injustice is actually much bigger concept than that.

The ‘injustice’ there is political. Because race is a political construct, and its roots are in social, personal and interpersonal relationships from the country as a whole culture down to the smalles unit; family. All those people who are far more likely to send a black man to his death than a white man for the same crime, adopted that unconscious-conscious ‘filter’ if you will, from their communities; families, relatives, social groups…etc. A few extremists groups aside, nobody raises their children to be racists. They just act the way they inherited. Because this has a history, and a traditonal morality within. Children see, hear that and monkey see, monkey do.

The injustice involves everyone in that society because the standard is broken. Law exists to provide that standard, and when it doesn't work the consequences are not limited by injustice by law. Because now, the black and the white know that they live in different standards. They are treated differently. While murder looks like an extreme example, you can apply this to almost everything. Opportunities in life, education, personal relationships... What happens then? Then the members of these two groups act completely different in every direction in the society. From living the daily life to simple responsibilities to much bigger ones. Because before the social contract in street, the law conract was broken. This is not just something between black and white. It's also between wealthy and poor.

-Another thing. When people -all of us included- try to produce opinions and ideas, they often do not check the distance of that idea to themselves, their own position and identity. Also, I don’t know if you live in the US, but my observation with American culture -and generally, recently with the English social media culture - suggest that the current tendency is trying to strip politics from every possible context because of the manipulation and extreme tendencies with ‘civil liberties’ that seems to drown everyting. But I think the problem is how are those ‘civil liberties’ are percieved, not actually how they work. 

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But if you want to hold to the "anyone who cares about this is obviously a straight white male" schtick, then you need to go have a conversation with ANY black/gay/female philosophy professor so they can set you straight. Even if they personally don't care (which I bet they do), they'll at least tell you that many, many, many philosophers who are not straight white males care about moral realism.

No. I think I answered this above. But to elaborate it. In my opinion, people are just like each other, Vulcan. (I’m included needlessly to say.) I know nobody wants to hear about it -but again they live according to it anyway- stereotypes and generalisations work.

Anyway, if you want to go on, write what you think. If not, it is fine.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2021, 03:59:26 AM by drunkenshoe »
"I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are good people and bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides." Havelock Vetinari