• god must be atheist
    4.8k
    I am unable to get this paper published. Therefore I'll put it up here. Too many publishers and editors have seen this already, I don't want it to go to waste.

    Ethics: Fundamental Error in the Thinking of Past Philosophers and a Suggested Error Correction

    Written and submitted by God Must Be Atheist on 2021 03 02

    Abstract:

    The author will demonstrate why ethics has been an elusive philosophical concept. The great ethicists, from classical Greek to seventeenth- and nineteenth century European thinkers, to present day philosophers, talk about morality and ethics as if it were a probably very clear and well-defined concept. They talk about it as if it were a given that everyone understands what it is. The author will shine light on why this assumption is false and wrong. Then the author will attempt to show how ethics can be easily defined and understood to be what it is by introducing an evolutionary concept of ethics, which distinguishes between autonomous ethics and socially learned ethics.

    3079 words

    I'll prove the impossibility of finding an all-encompassing rule for ethical behavior; and I shall prove it by illustrating that morality is not a singular system, but in fact two distinct and separate systems that have many commonalities and many differences as well.

    The criterion or criteria for morality has not been found yet. Not to misconstrue that morality does not exist; but we can't actually safely and without any doubt in our minds decide what feature in an act makes it moral, immoral or amoral. We rely on our sentiments to decide that; and sentiments can't be used as benchmarks or measuring tools, even for quality of property, never mind quantitative properties.

    I will present a few selected ideas of actions what people think moral actions are, and show you immediately on the spot that they are indistinguishable from selected other acts. With this I aim to show that whatever we choose as a feature of an action to be the action's moral ingredient, the same feature is not moral in other actions, so these features of supposed morality are useless in establishing purely using them whether an act is moral, amoral or immoral.

    A moral action supposedly is...

    -- one that makes the actor feel good and truly happy. Indistinguishable from eating an ice cream cone (makes us feel good) indistinguishable from achieving a goal we had set out and had had doubts whether we could attain it or not. This makes us feel good and happy. Other things that make us feel good and happy are childbirths, weddings, falling in love. Is falling in love a moral act, in and by itself? It's not even in your power when you do it, or when you happen upon it.
    -- one that which most people approve of. Most people approve of holding the fork and knife properly, of driving on the proper side of the road, of not kicking dogs. Is not kicking dogs actually a moral act, in and by itself? Is not raping children a moral act? No, raping children is immoral by consensus and by intuition, but not raping them is not moral per se.
    -- a heroic act: sacrificing one's own health, wealth, family, even life, for the good of the community or for loved ones. Is working overtime to make a boss's or capitalist inventors' life better, at the cost of destroying your own health, a moral act? No, it is not, yet your action is indistinguishable from the parameters set out: self-sacrifice to help someone else.
    -- a type of act that make most or all people feel better, or their lives better, easier, happier. This is indistinguishable from being good or doing good things.
    -- when a decision has to be involved; a moral decision. This is tricky, because we can’t rightfully establish the morality in an action, before we find out what exactly it is that makes an action moral. We can’t call a decision a moral decision before we get to establish the true qualifier of what makes an act moral. So this strips the task to just a decision being involved, not a moral decision. We may decide in a set of circumstances to trade fairly. This is indistinguishable from being persuaded to act in a seemingly innocent way. We decide to take advice, and if the advice is by a serpent to eat the fruit of the tree of wisdom, then it is an immoral act; yet the common element in both was that we made a decision. The act of decision making alone does not make a moral choice.
    -- serving god. In the Judeo-Christian-Muslim sense. Well, the general consensus among Bible-believers is that humans have a free will, and the ethical purpose of it is to use the free will to avoid temptation and to serve god. Your service to your god may include crossing the street at a perpendicular to the line of the curb. Is it immoral to cross otherwise? All authority derives from god, and you are promised to burn in hell if you do cross god, (no pun intended) but crossing the street at an angle is not immoral.
    -- when you feel you've done what you ought to have done. This feeling is your inner moral guide, and mostly it is planted in you by your educators or else it is innately your own genetically programmed feeling. "You must say your evening prayer every evening." You know you ought to do this, because others tell you, so you internalize the lesson. If you miss your evening prayer, you feel guilty. Yet they also tell you that people are generally greedy, and you ought to be careful around them with money. Yet you don't feel particularly elated at all when you act carefully with your money around other people.

    I hope to have illustrated to you, dear audience, that there is no hard-and-fast resolution among people what precisely is the active ingredient in a moral act. We agree on most acts as to their moral nature. But this is an intuitive process; any one ingredient of value or of psychological effect that points at a moral act can point at a different act that satisfies the required particular parameters just as well, and the particular different act is not what any normal human would call moral. Which leaves us bereft of counsel: what is it that makes an act moral? We have this feeling built into our psyche that helps us tell what act is a moral act and what is not; yet we can't put our fingers on the very essence that our decision hinges on.

    This is one of the two horns of the dilemma that has created havoc among ethicists.

    The other horn is the paradox of what seems to be moral behavior, yet the behavior does not satisfy any of the parameters set out as requirements for acting morally.

    You see your child drowning in deep water. You don't think, you don't philosophize, you don't debate what it is you ought to do in this particular instance. You don't act to be fair, you don't obey god, you don't care how you feel, good or bad, or how it affects mankind. Instead, you jump in to swim to your child and rescue her. Failing to do so would make you feel guilty ceaselessly for the rest of your life. Not failing, that is, if you successfully save her life, you will feel solemn, serene, and ecstatically rapturous. If the situation presented itself over again, you'd always perform the same action. And so would every other human who were in the same relative situation as that.

    This is an act that no human would say "it is amoral, it is immoral". To all this is a truly moral act.

    What can we say about this act that separates it from other acts? The most obvious observation is that it contains none of those features which we normally try to hang on moral acts: consideration, decision, god's will, fairness. This is a moral act that is bereft of moral considerations.

    We can say also that is a hugely peculiar trait of this act: acting in this situation, you feel extreme elation when you accomplish the task; or alternatively unending debilitating guilt if you don't attempt to accomplish your task and you incur the loss of your child's life because of it.

    This reward-punishment reaction system is the hallmark of the moral act. Depending on your action, you are punished cruelly and mercilessly by your conscience or else you are richly rewarded by an overwhelming feeling of happiness and accomplishment. The feature of this system that one must pay absolutely close attention is that both the punishment and the reward are internally produced; no agent outside your identity or self needs to interfere to ensure that you get your just rewards.

    Not one of the components are learned, inasmuch as the reaction to immediately risk the self in a rescue mission is not learned but automatic, and the elation-guilt reward-punishment system is not learned and furthermore can't be circumvented or avoided by the individual. I consider beyond this that all humans alive share this reaction system, and thus I am forced to believe that this reaction system is part of unchangeable human nature, an act that has been genetically preprogrammed in every human (and in every individual of other warm-blooded animal species as well, incidentally). The act has enormous survival value for the propagation of the individual’s bloodline, or DNA, or genetic code, because the person acting it out ensures the survival of the person's offspring.

    I call the above system autonomous moral behavior. It is autonomous, because it operates independently of the individual's will, of the individual's decision; it is a compelling course of action; and its subsequent ensuing associated feelings are unavoidable; yet all these are internally produced within the person's own emotional and biological boundary, while the person also is incapable of influencing its operation; the system is autonomous.

    There are a few other examples of autonomous moral behavior.

    One is the moral obligation to kill your rival if you find him or her in an intimate act with your spouse. This helps ensure that the children you raise are your own offspring. Even the laws in some countries recognize this as an involuntary act, and have slighter punishment for it than for murder or for manslaughter.

    There is a moral obligation to kill those who have done you awful wrong... tortured you over an extensive period of time, or killed your loved ones, or illegally left you bereft of all your possessions. This type of revenge is illegal in Western societies, but it is condoned by moral standards throughout the world.

    There is a moral obligation to sustain life not just in your offspring, but in others' children as well. It is considered hugely immoral to kill innocent, defenseless children.

    This reward-punishment system is not learned. It is innate, and it can't be changed in a human.

    Yet though it is innate, interestingly the system is not restricted to the autonomous moral system. It is a mechanism that has the capacity to be copied over to other areas of a person's life.

    Other areas are those, which we, humans, also call moral acts, yet they are not compelling acts, they can be trespassed.

    Let me explain. The parents tell the child "you must say your prayers and brush your teeth at night." Do they teach a moral code? You bet they do. The tooth brushing may be not moral, as the child can be explained in simple, totally reasonable and understood terms, why he or she needs to brush three times a day. But the prayer thing is a bit trickier. There is no tangible evidence to satisfy reason. Yet, for whatever reason the parents feel important, they impel in the child a moral lesson: missing your evening prayer is an immoral act. It is actually a sinful act in religious terms. But in extension, all sinful acts are immoral; a truly religious person will feel guilty (morally guilty) at every sinful act he or she commits in life.

    So the child will experience guilt if she or he does not say the evening prayer, yet he or she will also feel slight satisfaction if she or he does say the prayer, as it is the same mechanism as the one inherited from the autonomous moral system: an internally produced punishment at failure of doing an "ought", and a rapturous or even just slightly pleasant feeling of satisfaction of a job well done, so to speak, when the person does do the "ought."

    You, gentle audience, at this point may state: "yes, I see how it works; but not every culture tries to internalize the necessity of the morals of the evening prayer in their children; and even in those cultures, in which it is a well-accepted practice, there are renegades. These renegades fail at the tasks, yet don’t feel guilt, or accomplish the task and feel no elation. How come?"
    Excellent question, my dear audience. My theory answers this by saying that the morals that are not innate, are also not absolute. They can be changed; they can be rejected; they are different from culture to culture. Autonomous moral behavior is biological. Evolutionary changes made it so. Non-autonomous morals are always social or societal. Biological evolution made it possible in humans to have the moral effect programmed by societal pressure. Educators in societies shape behavior, or at least attempt to, to make people act according to the rules of their host society. This helps social coexistence and cooperation, which in turn increases the survival chances of society, and in it, of each individual.

    The reward-punishment systems in the two: in autonomous morality and in social morality forced on the individual are not identical. Differences exist in intensity and duration. If you contravene an autonomous moral code, you feel guilt-ridden for the rest of your life, you wear the yoke of pain by losing your self-respect, losing your inner self. If you contravene an assumed (that is, acquired and internalized) code of ethics, your guilt will not last forever or as long as you live, whichever comes first.

    In their application the reward-punishment systems are also different, without abandoning their original roles in the operation. The autonomous moral code is compelling. The acquired is not compelling, you can trespass its internalized codes. The autonomous is not chosen to internalize; the acquired is for the individual's choosing whether to acquire it or not. The autonomous code can't be abandoned; the social code can. Examples of contravening social moral code may be thieving, cheating on exams, doing unfair trade, trading in slaves. Not everyone can do them, but there are some who are not stopped by their own acquired moral code from doing these things, because they have chosen not to accept them and not to obey them.

    Note also please: not every culture has the same set of acquired moral codes. Cultures are different in their needed elements or processes to survive. This is an effect of the varying geophysical and geopolitical nature of survival tactics. Some cultures are abhorred by any one or more of the following things, and they teach morals against them: cannibalism, child- and wife abuse, murder, slavery, incest or inbreeding. Yet all of these features were integral, working, and in some cases, necessarily accepted features of to us known and well-operating cultures. The Roman empire existed on slave labour, and though nobody willingly went into slavery, and all were scared of needing to go, people did not feel guilt over having, operating and disciplining slaves. Cannibalism is still alive and well in areas of the world where animal protein can't be acquired. (I am told that that the practice has stopped when the mad cow disease was linked to species eating their own species' carcasses.) Inbreeding was the call of the day for ruling dynasties in different cultures across most of the entire history of humans: from Egyptian pharaohs, to medieval kings, to modern-day monarchs, panning thousands of years. Murder was a ritualistic necessity in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Woman- and child abuse was a practice only until very recently in human history. "Spare the rod and spoil the child."

    What does this tell us? The obvious, I think, would be to say that morals and moral systems can be identified by the self-generated punishment and reward systems. Another obvious thing to say would be, I think, that there are two distinct sets of morals, and the only feature that is common to both, are the reward-punishment system. I assert that the reward-punishment moral system is innate only in the autonomous moral system, and it is transferable and is indeed transferred to the acquired moral system of the individual. If an individual existed outside of society, the individual would never develop, because there would be no need and no venue to develop, an acquired moral system. The unavoidable presence of the autonomous, and the possible presence of the acquired, systems of morals are both results of successful genetic mutations that created them, and since their presence is species-wide among humans, I assert it formed in pre-human android species, perhaps even in pre-warm blooded creature formation in the evolutionary past.

    Other obvious differences are: species-wide rigidity in the autonomous system, and species-wide malleability or variety of codes in the acquired system. Another is the difference between actual acts that are considered moral or immoral by cultural norms. Still yet one more difference exists: the innate autonomous system can't be changed, yet elements, even the entire set of elements, of an otherwise well-accepted set of acquired moral codes can be rejected by an individual at his or her sole discretion.

    There is one more similarity: both sets of moral codes increase the survival chances of the community and the survival chances of the morally acting individual's derivatives of his or her own DNA.

    There are also far-reaching effects of the realization of this duality of moral systems, and knowing their nature. The far-reaching effect is our logical ability to reject the theories attempted to be built by all previous moral philosophers to date, up to, but not including, moral system theories by evolutionary theorists. This means, and I say it with both pride and with a feeling of bereavement, that we can now ignore and dispense with the moral teachings of Kant, Spinoza, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Socrates and Aristotle, to name just the most important ones that had tried to create, rather unsuccessfully, an all-encompassing moral map for humankind. Their efforts were fruitless, and were deemed and doomed to be so; they attempted the impossible to create an in and by itself complete and singular ethical system, because they had not realized the dual nature of morality, and more importantly, they were therefore blind to realize the different requirements for the two systems. Since the two systems are now viewed, as per my treatise here, as similar but with also some nonequivalent elements or features of operation, obviously and in a logical way, not one system of philosophy can be found that applies to both equally. Hence, moral questions will never be subjected to a single, all-encompassing evaluation (and repair) system, since the amorphous nature of the acquired moral codes and the rigid system of the autonomous moral codes make that wholly impossible.
  • Book273
    768
    autonomous moral codesgod must be atheist

    First problem: your autonomous moral code theory is still voluntary. Animals, including people, do not always save their young, neither do we necessarily feel any guilt over not saving them. So there is no actual autonomous moral code, although I can see why the idea has appeal. Without the concept of autonomous morality your premise is bankrupt.

    Second problem: The previous ethicists' attempts to determine a moral pathway are generally universally applicable within the specific parameters of whatever culture someone is seeking ethical guidance in. Morality, as you pointed out (rather unclearly), is dependent on cultural perspective, therefore providing specific directions (only eat yellow beans) will not work, as cultures vary. However, providing general guidelines (always try for maximal Good) will be much more productive. The definition of Good may change in each culture, however, as each culture has a definition of Good, then seeking the maximal Good from each action will be recognized as the preferred moral option for each, and every, culture. Therefore seeking maximal Good is a basic and clear code for universal morality.

    Third problem: Some of us feel no guilt. We approach life with eyes open and do, or do not, based on our own reasons and never look back again, except to learn from an outcome. Using guilt as an indicator of a poor moral decision excludes us guilt-free types.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    First problem: your autonomous moral code theory is still voluntary. Animals, including people, do not always save their young, neither do we necessarily feel any guilt over not saving them. So there is no actual autonomous moral code, although I can see why the idea has appeal. Without the concept of autonomous morality your premise is bankrupt.Book273

    If the perceived risk is too high, then we do not save our young. Barring that, I can argue (without proof) that the lack of guilt or the lack of trying may be the response in individuals whose moral gene is either mutated or otherwise compromised. This is possible, and probable.

    However, providing general guidelines (always try for maximal Good) will be much more productive.Book273

    Maximal Good is not morality; it is just doing good. This I covered in the preamble of the article.

    The imperative "Try for Maximal Good" can be a moral imperative, if you instill it in people that they must feel guilty when they don' try for maximal good. However, "good" itself is undefinable; what's good for one person may be detrimental to another, and what's good for one person NOW may be detrimental to him in the future. Aside from that, "Maximal Good" can't be established unless first you decide what comprises good in a particular culture. This destroys the universality of "maximal good".

    Third problem: Some of us feel no guilt.Book273
    according to my theory, the total lack of ability to feel guilty is a mutation.

    -------------

    I thank you for being the only person on the boards who took the time and trouble to express criticism on my paper. This I really appreciate, and our differences of opinion does not take away from my gratitude to take me seriously enough to respond meaningfully, and to chew through the entire paper in the first place. Thank you, I really appreciate both of your efforts.
  • Cheshire
    1k
    Since the two systems are now viewed, as per my treatise here, as similar but with also some nonequivalent elements or features of operation, obviously and in a logical way, not one system of philosophy can be found that applies to both equally. Hence, moral questions will never be subjected to a single, all-encompassing evaluation (and repair) system, since the amorphous nature of the acquired moral codes and the rigid system of the autonomous moral codes make that wholly impossible.god must be atheist
    We can and have made reasonable approximations. Being imperfect is not the same as without value.

    Imagine if I told you that anything can be understood from my point of view. Would that be evidence that I was correct? No, just consistent. I don't think dispensing with several thousand years worth of inquiry is justified because we can sort moral issues into two categories. Besides, Kant already did by identifying the difference in nature versus civilized context for moral decisions and he was tossed a sunder in the conclusion. You by proxy threw out your own idea.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    I don't think dispensing with several thousand years worth of inquiry is justified because we can sort moral issues into two categories.Cheshire

    I don't seek justification ... it's like justifying gravity or the speed of light. I only describe a system in a way that gives a wholly different way of classifying data of phenomena, and yields a much more accurate description. It actually throws out thousands of years of dilemmatic discourse... I don't see that as a sin, or a negative, or a mistake or a fault... in fact, I see it as the strength of my idea/ theory.

    You may be nostalgic about Kant and others, and rightfully so... their theories have become in one fell swoop archaic, inaccurate, should I say useless. This is not something that needs to be justified, I don't think. It is something that changes an entire industry of thinking: thinking about morality.

    I may have sounded haughty here, or overly confident. I do stand behind my words, and actually yes, I did notice and I think, like I said, that my theory dismisses a lot of others. This needs to be justified? Why? By whom? It's a category mistake to think so, I believe.

    In fact, the entire theory I drew up in an effort to create a new framework in which a lot of old undecidable debates can be thrown asunder, as you said.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    We can and have made reasonable approximations. Being imperfect is not the same as without value.Cheshire

    They say there is much to say for a system that is easy to comprehend but is only an approximation of the truth, but is useful as a model. It's better than a complex description of the precise truth, that is hard to implement.

    Right. Being imperfect is not the same as being without value.

    My system, however is not only a better description of the truth, but is also simpler and easier to implement, than the two-thousand-year-old system that has been debated in its nodal points in the precise same way for 2000 years. The conventional, old system has had systemic problems that can never be solved. It may have had some value, but it could be argued (and has been argued) what that value was.

    No such thing in my system.
  • Cheshire
    1k
    You may be nostalgic about Kant and others, and rightfully so... their theories have become in one fell swoop archaic, inaccurate, should I say useless. This is not something that needs to be justified, I don't think. It is something that changes an entire industry of thinking: thinking about morality.god must be atheist

    Well, I've got a little philosophy cheat sheet. It says that if you think you've solved the entirety of a philosophical sub-category based on a single unrevised document then you are probably wrong. Ever heard of critical rationalism? It's designed to limit these types of 'misallocations' of perceived solvency.

    You missed the information content of this statement.
    Besides, Kant already did by identifying the difference in nature versus civilized context for moral decisions and he was tossed a sunder in the conclusion. You by proxy threw out your own idea.Cheshire
  • unenlightened
    7k
    I hope to have illustrated to you, dear audience, that there is no hard-and-fast resolution among people what precisely is the active ingredient in a moral act.god must be atheist

    Some folks swear by a plumb-line, some by the way water finds its own level, and yet others by the illumination of coherent light produced by a lazar. Have I convinced anyone that there is no hard and fast resolution about what is the active ingredient in a straight line?
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    Besides, Kant already did by identifying the difference in nature versus civilized context for moral decisions and he was tossed a sunder in the conclusion. You by proxy threw out your own idea.Cheshire

    Yes, I missed the information content. Mea culpa. I did not understand the post, because... you're welcome to laugh at me, I never read Kant. I know about the categoricus imperativus, but that's all. And that theory is nice, cuddly, but useless... because most people know they could gain unfair advantage if they don't follow it, and some people actually make not following it into a habit.

    So I don't bother much with Kant. He is overrated, because, basically, he was the first in a long time who gave morality a serious thought, and he himself knew he failed achieving his own goal with regard to moral theory.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    Well, I've got a little philosophy cheat sheet. It says that if you think you've solved the entirety of a philosophical sub-category based on a single unrevised document then you are probably wrongCheshire

    You covered yourself. "Probably" in front of "wrong". Either way, you may claim victory of predictive power. If my theory stands the test of peer review, or else if it does not.

    There has been at least one other issue in philosophy that has been solved: Zeno's paradox of the hare and the turtle (the hare will never catch the turtle ... like heck it won't.)
    -
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    Some folks swear by a plumb-line, some by the way water finds its own level, and yet others by the illumination of coherent light produced by a lazar. Have I convinced anyone that there is no hard and fast resolution about what is the active ingredient in a straight line?unenlightened

    There is belief based on evidence, and there is proof based on evidence. I tried to say that I did not prove that there is no hard and fast resolution about what the active ingredient is in ethics; but I challenge you to tell me what that is. I can challenge anyone on the globe, and they can't prove by pointing at X and saying "this is the active ingredient in morality". Therefore it is safe to say that there has no active ingredient found yet, yet it allows for its existence. Your analogy I won't challenge, as you wrote it in mockery.

    I say you wrote it in mockery because there is no active ingredient in what makes a triangle a triangle, and a straight line a straight line. Moral acts, on the other hand, are complex, manifold, and often self-contradictory (one will call it moral, the other, immoral). No normal person will call a triangle a non-triangle; and call a non-triangle a triangle. Whereas that is the case often with moral actions. There is a huge difference there, and your model in your example throws out this difference... hence your model does not apply.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    There has been at least one other issue in philosophy that has been solved: Zeno's paradox of the hare and the turtle (the hare will never catch the turtle ... like heck it won't.)god must be atheist
    Another that has been solved is which came first, the chicken or the egg? The egg - evolutionary speaking.

    but we can't actually safely and without any doubt in our minds decide what feature in an act makes it moral, immoral or amoral.god must be atheist
    Sure we do. Goals is the feature. If you didn't have goals what would morality be? Those that help realize your goals are good, those that inhibit them are bad. We even label events not caused by any humans, that either inhibit or help achieve our goals as "good" or "bad" events. People or events that have no impact on your goals are not considered to fall into the territory of ethics.

    Understanding that morality is subjective isn't that difficult. We all have our own goals. Some goals we share primarily because we are the same species, or members of the same culture, so it can appear as if there is an objective aspect to morality, until you meet a new civilization or person with different goals that include how to inhibit your goals.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    but we can't actually safely and without any doubt in our minds decide what feature in an act makes it moral, immoral or amoral.
    — god must be atheist
    Sure we do. Goals is the feature. If you didn't have goals what would morality be? Those that help realize your goals are good, those that inhibit them are bad.
    Harry Hindu

    What if your goal is to enslave half of mankind, make their lives miserable, painful and their spirits broken, for the benefit of the other half of mankind?

    Goals? This is a goal. To enslave half of mankind.

    You have to qualify now what those goals should or must be. And ay, there is the rub. That is precisely what the debate has been for thousands of years, with no end in sight.
  • unenlightened
    7k
    What if your goal is to enslave half of mankind, make their lives miserable, painful and their spirits broken, for the benefit of the other half of mankind?god must be atheist

    That does not make sense as a goal. Indeed, even as you describe it, the actual goal is the benefit of half of mankind. A noble goal, pursued with vile tactics. Rather like "enhanced interrogation". If someone has the goal of actually making people suffer for no other reason than that it pleases them, neither we nor they would call it moral; rather it is evil or insane.

    There is almost no disagreement about goals in the abstract, moral goals are for the benefit of people. All the disagreement is about means rather than ends, and about the details of cost-benefit analysis. Here there tends to be a lot of myopia, such that the costs and benefits to 'people like me' loom large in my calculations, and thus others see things differently. Enslaving the negro was presented as 'the white man's burden', the annihilation of the Jews as the solution of a problem of terrible injustice and criminality. Every horror is sold as a price worth paying (by someone else) for our benefit.

    There is even a modern movement to grant certain ecosystems the status of persons in order to extend the moral protection we grant humans to the environment to some extent.

    And of course we all understand and agree about these historical examples and from this distance there is no question about the rights and wrongs of them, which is why the seem to work as evidence of the arbitrary nature of morality. But from this distance, we do all agree!
  • Trey
    39
    Y’all are struggling with complexity here!

    GOOD: That which decreases pain and suffering (which we all inately recognize pain in others from instinct), both in magnitude and numbers (number of individuals).

    EVIL: Vice versus.

    Ex: Catholic no birth control policy - increases poverty (suffering) and decreases the value of each individual. EVIL

    Now that wasn’t so hard was it?
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    Goals? This is a goal. To enslave half of mankind.

    You have to qualify now what those goals should or must be. And ay, there is the rub. That is precisely what the debate has been for thousands of years, with no end in sight.
    god must be atheist
    It's not qualifiying what the goals should be, but whether any goal has a moral property of good or bad (goals are more than just being good or bad) in some sense independent of the person, or group, with the goal in question. Enslaving mankind and freeing mankind are different goals. Whether they are good or bad is something different, and is seems to always depend on the person's, or group's, other goals.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    You have to qualify now what those goals should or must be. And ay, there is the rub. That is precisely what the debate has been for thousands of years, with no end in sight.
    — god must be atheist
    It's not qualifiying what the goals should be, but whether any goal has a moral property of good or bad (goals are more than just being good or bad) in some sense independent of the person, or group, with the goal in question. Enslaving mankind and freeing mankind are different goals. Whether they are good or bad is something different, and is seems to always depend on the person's, or group's, other goals.
    Harry Hindu

    What you said is the same as what you have quoted from me. And that is precisely what my theory claissifies so, that it ("it" being the vexing contradictory evaluation of the same act) can be made compatible with a moral theory.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    What you, as the readers, I ask to realize, is that my theory is not a guidance or a fail-proof prescription of behaviour; it is instead a failproof prescription how to evaluate moral behaviour. I am not telling people what is moral and how they should behave; I am telling people how morality can be assigned, why, and how that is possible.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    Y’all are struggling with complexity here!

    GOOD: That which decreases pain and suffering (which we all inately recognize pain in others from instinct), both in magnitude and numbers (number of individuals).

    EVIL: Vice versus.

    Ex: Catholic no birth control policy - increases poverty (suffering) and decreases the value of each individual. EVIL

    Now that wasn’t so hard was it?
    Trey

    So good is moral? I contest that, with the argument that 1. if they were equivalent, (and you use straight equivalency to explain the other with substituting the first into its place) there would be no two words for them; and 2. if all good is moral, and all bad is evil or immoral, then ambivalences can't be called moral or immoral, while our innate recognition of the act for us as being moral or the opposite is immediately obvious. Example: Antisemitism by Naziism. Nazis believed that the evil in the world stemmed from the Jewish ambition of world hegemony, and that Jews were innately evil people. This was obvious and innately accepted by them. On the other hand, the rest of the world thought the German Nazis to be innately evil for adopting this and making it policy to exterminate all Jews to make this a better world.

    Obviously to a Nazi, killing Jews was innately moral. To a non-Nazi, killing Jews for this belief is innately immoral. The same act. Good and Bad. Moral and Evil. This is the "aye, there is the rub" I referred to, and your simplification of the problem, Trey, does not solve the problem at all.

    Whereas my showing a perspective how to view the problem does make the apparent self-contradiction go away.
  • Tom Storm
    5.3k
    Obviously to a Nazi, killing Jews was innately moral. To a non-Nazi, killing Jews for this belief is innately immoral. The same act. Good and Bad.god must be atheist

    Just taking this at random demonstrates to me the innate difficulty of actually making these sorts of statements coherent.

    It wasn't just Nazi's who celebrated the Final Solution, it was anti-Semites. Some were not Nazi's.

    The Nazi's were not propelled into the Final Solution by notions of Jewish world hegemony. Hitler partly inherited the Christian hatred of Jews as Christ killers. Martin Luther used to preach about burning them all. As a eugenicist, Hitler also held to a racial purity crusade and Jews to him were vermin to be exterminated from the human gene pool. Hence the use of the same gas (Zyklon B) that was a pesticide to fumigate factories and ships against lice and cockroaches.

    Now here's the thing. Why get into this messy material as an example for your rather uncomplicated idea?

    Why not just go with something less frequently shoehorned like - The World Trade Centre airplane hijackers? Heroes to Wahhabi Islamisists, villains to most people in the West. How does the cliché go - one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter?
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    Why get into this messy material as an example for your rather uncomplicated idea?Tom Storm

    Islamist terrorists are another good idea. American aggression abroad is another. Ideas abound. Why pick on the one I picked and blame me for picking it? Is it a worse scenario to explain my point than the Wahhabi Islamisists? Why actually do you do this?

    What you are doing is not arguing on a philosophical level. "Do this, don't do that", is what you are saying, while "that" and "this" are equivalent in educational value. So do you have a personal exception against the moral dilemma the Nazi values represent? Why? It is not philosophy you talk.

    I have a strong feeling that it is a personal agenda you are speaking from. I mean, I can' t be sure, but why else would you be bugging me to change the example?
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    Tom, I am not going to rewrite the page because you object to the example. The example is clear and to the point.

    If you have an obvious or not-so obvious but still relevant criticism on my paper, I would like to hear about that. But I am not going to be let myself be bugged down on immaterial details on people objecting to the specific examples I use. It is the mechanics of Good and Bad that I wanted to illuminate, and the example served that. It was not messy for the purpose. You called it messy, but it is not.

    So please comment on the ideas I have in my paper, not on immaterial peripheral trivia that has no bearing on my argument there.
  • Tom Storm
    5.3k
    You seem unduly sensitive to this. Try not to be defensive and aggressive in return. No need to re-write anything: this is a forum. You made a point, I made a comment. As I wrote, I was taking this at random. It's just that using Nazi's as an example seems lazy and is such a ubiquitous rhetorical device. And you were so emphatic about it too that it seemed opportune to provide feedback. Feel free to ignore it GMBA and carry on.
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    The author will demonstrate why ethics has been an elusive philosophical concept. The great ethicists, from classical Greek to seventeenth- and nineteenth century European thinkers, to present day philosophers, talk about morality and ethics as if it were a probably very clear and well-defined concept. They talk about it as if it were a given that everyone understands what it is. The author will shine light on why this assumption is false and wrong. Then the author will attempt to show how ethics can be easily defined and understood to be what it is by introducing an evolutionary concept of ethics, which distinguishes between autonomous ethics and socially learned ethics.god must be atheist

    I can see why they didn’t bother to publish it ^^

    This is poorly written and one sentence doesn’t even make sense (italics). You should probably get people to proof read before attempting to get something published.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    This is poorly written and one sentence doesn’t even make sense (italics).I like sushi

    You probably object to my having "morality and ethics" as the subject of the clause, while then later I refer to them as "it".

    There is a reason for it. In some schools of philosophy, morality and ethics are equivalent to each other. I accept that view. Unless a writer differentiates what meaning he attaches to morality that is different from the meaning he attaches to ethics, the two words are synonyms. Therefore there is a singular idea, paraphrased as "morality" and as "ethics", but it is one and the same thing.

    I appreciate that it does hurt the eye to read two words of which one is in plural, to be referred to as a singular subject, but I needed to sacrifice either the concept, or else proper English syntax. You're right, the sentence needs to be re-written.

    I noticed how your criticism restricted itself to my writing style and did not expand to criticize the content.
  • Philosophim
    1.3k
    I think the biggest issue with this is you need to condense and clarify your points. When you define something such as autonomous morality, you should clearly define it, then use examples to demonstrate that definition.

    This is an act that no human would say "it is amoral, it is immoral". To all this is a truly moral act.god must be atheist

    Not one of the components are learned, inasmuch as the reaction to immediately risk the self in a rescue mission is not learned but automatic, and the elation-guilt reward-punishment system is not learned and furthermore can't be circumvented or avoided by the individual.god must be atheist

    But then you later say,

    There are a few other examples of autonomous moral behavior.

    One is the moral obligation to kill your rival if you find him or her in an intimate act with your spouse.
    god must be atheist

    But not everyone would react this way. Some would kill their partner. Some might find it arousing. I think you were trying to imply that that autonomous morality was the emotions within the individual that compel you to do actions of a social nature? And these emotions would be innate, not learned from society correct? Every example you give should reinforce your clear definition, and leave room for doubt or error. We all struggle with this, its not just you. But I believe you start taking societal moral norms and applying them to autonomous morality, and it makes it confusing.

    Non-autonomous morals are always social or societal. Biological evolution made it possible in humans to have the moral effect programmed by societal pressure. Educators in societies shape behavior, or at least attempt to, to make people act according to the rules of their host society.god must be atheist

    Here I think you do better. Non-autonomous morals are those placed by 1 or more people on others. This might coincide with one's autonomous morals, but it also may not. A society generally enforces it ethical model on people, and those who have an autonomous mismatch of a certain threshold are punished by society.

    The far-reaching effect is our logical ability to reject the theories attempted to be built by all previous moral philosophers to date, up to, but not including, moral system theories by evolutionary theorists.god must be atheist

    That's a neat claim, but why? I didn't really get that from your paper.
  • Hello Human
    193
    I don't know why but I haven't seen this paper seen until now somehow. The fact that we have some reward mechanism when we act morally implies that morality is a habit, formed over time thanks to feedback from that sense of fulfillment, which gives hope for the possibility of moral progress for the individual and society as a whole. Perhaps one day humanity will see a time where people stop wasting time on hating each other for petty reasons.

    The problem now is in finding how to make people act morally. The approach of giving rewards to good action is not efficient in my opinion, because it externalizes that sense of fulfillment when we do something good and replaces it with mere pleasure, giving the false impression that good people have some significant amount of "success", which ends up discouraging people when they realize that being good does not necessarily imply success.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k


    Dear Philosophim, thanks, thanks, thanks, for doing a more in-depth analysis of my paper.

    I took note of your needing more rigid definitions for my newfound ideas, and more examples to support the definitions. thanks.

    I also thank you for pointing out that marital fidelity does not always draw the same reaction.

    Where I can play a safe defense of my treatise is on this of your points:

    The far-reaching effect is our logical ability to reject the theories attempted to be built by all previous moral philosophers to date, up to, but not including, moral system theories by evolutionary theorists.god must be atheist

    That's a neat claim, but why? I didn't really get that from your paper.Philosophim

    A little farther reading into the paragraph from where you and I quoted would have satisfied your request, I believe. Please consider the following as to "why" on the neat claim.

    attempted the impossible to create an in and by itself complete and singular ethical system, because they had not realized the dual nature of morality, and more importantly, they were therefore blind to realize the different requirements for the two systems. Since the two systems are now viewed, as per my treatise here, as similar but with also some nonequivalent elements or features of operation, obviously and in a logical way, not one system of philosophy can be found that applies to both equally. Hence, moral questions will never be subjected to a single, all-encompassing evaluation (and repair) system, since the amorphous nature of the acquired moral codes and the rigid system of the autonomous moral codes make that wholly impossible.god must be atheist

    Again, and I can't emphasize this strong enough, I am grateful for your meaningful and valuable contribution in criticizing my treatise. Thank you.
  • god must be atheist
    4.8k
    The approach of giving rewards to good action is not efficient in my opinion, because it externalizes that sense of fulfillment when we do something good and replaces it with mere pleasure, giving the false impression that good people have some significant amount of "success", which ends up discouraging people when they realize that being good does not necessarily imply success.Hello Human

    Totally agree. The moral conduct of a person is rewarded and punished from within the person's own self. If the reward or punishment comes from the outside, it is not a moral evaluation of the person's deed. It may be a reinforcing factor, and it may be even a building step of the person's morality, but the true reward and the true punishment of a moral (or immoral) act is given from the inside of the person.
  • gloaming
    128


    A moral action...

    "..supposedly makes the actor feel good and happy."

    Not necessarily, so I am unprepared to accept this initial premise. The trolley dilemma should make that clear.

    "...one that most people approve of." Again, not demonstrably correct. They may claim to approve of an act when polled, but as we both know, what one says and what one does when nobody is looking isn't necessarily moral....or ethical.

    "...is a heroic act." People are automatically heroes for acting within a defined set of moral principles? Then we're all heroes.

    Generally, you appear to be stuck in the teleological paradigm where you adhere to the mostest, the happiest, and other 'est' endings with which we are so familiar.

    I could go on, but I stopped reading. Maybe that's what happened with all those publishers.
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