• Marvin Katz
    54
    I will argue that it can be objective.

    What makes anything "objective"? Let us consider, for example, the proposition "The Sun has planets, including the planet, Earth." Most thinking people would concur that that proposition is objective. Why? Because astronomers reached a consensus that this is how they will employ language to refer to some data that they observe with their five senses.

    The best I understanding I gained from the Philosopher of Science, Hans Vaihinger, is that a science is very-much like a trial-lawyer’s presentation of his client’s case: it is a hypothetical scenario. [See, for details see Vaihinger’s well-reasoned book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF AS IF.]

    A scientific theory is purported to explain things the best the scientists know how to do so; yet it is all a hypothesis
    This implies it is highly-subject-to-revision should better interpretations come along in time. What is good enough for scientists [regarding the latest and best formulation of reliable knowledge] ought to be good enough for the rest of us. The fact is that t their correlations are all
    • hypothetical and tentative. Yet their statements I would argue are the very model of objectivity. The findings they issue are objective.

      Even if you say,"it's raining outside," it is subject to testing ...say by your putting your nose up against the window and thus seeing (or failing to see) raindrops and puddles in the street. Until you do this, the sentence is a hypothesis (a guess) on your part. This alludes to The Correspondence Theory of Truth …which, along with the Coherence Theory of Truth, is widely-accepted as our best guide to truth.

      Plane Geometry is able to be put on a blackboard, and in textbook form. and thus becomes universally-agreed-upon as objective - even though we know there are rival geometries which are just as "true" in their own domain. Would you agree that Plane Geometry is objective?? I would.
      If anything is objective, it is!

      What is the relevance of the above discussion to the topic: Can Morality Ever Be Objective? I set out to systematize Ethics into a coherent, teachable theory that could be explained in a classroom. Its premiss is in accord with the views of those philosophers who argue that an individual (a human life with a personality) has some value. [My understanding of the concept is related to something Shakespeare had a character in one of his plays say; it is not relative to local culture. "Moraliry" is not merely a shifty social construct. It is now a term in a system.

      {For more details, see M.C. Katz, Ph.D, The Structure of Ethics. [A free pdf copy of the paper is available courtesy of Wade Harvey.] Reflect on the points it makes. And if you are so inclined, let's have a discussion of its concepts after you have had a chance to look the text over.}

      Morality, according to some who have thought deeply about it, means principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad conduct with the focus on being morally-right and good, while avoiding doing wrong and evil.
      As viewed in the new paradigm for Ethics, the Hartman/Katz theory, “morality” is a relation between an individual and that set of self-imposed principles. It helps if these standards derived within a sound, systematic, rational and logical Ethical Theory.

      The concept, morality, is now a term in a system; it is to be understood as a measure of the degree to which an individual lives up to the standard (or set of such principles), how well he or she applies the set of standards to daily life.
      If one expresses the principle(s) in everyday life, then one rates being described as having high morality. Also, and equally-important, morality in this new paradigm now indicates growth and moral- development throughout life. It recommends that we keep growing by adding new standards to live by as we progress through life – and actually live by them, practice them!

      Questions? Comments? Discussion?
  • Angelo Cannata
    246
    It seems that you have quite a moderate idea of "objective", since a few checks are enough for you to think that something is objective. This makes the discussion very ambiguous and confused. In philosophy "objective" means absolutely, totally independent from our judgement. That's the reason why I think objectivity is just a human fantasy, since you cannot refer to anything without making it automatically related to your judgement.
  • L'éléphant
    883
    First of all, I'm glad someone is again raising questions about objectivity. Because before anything else, this notion needs to be understood fully. I had wanted to open a thread just for this purpose alone.

    But here is something:
    It seems that you have quite a moderate idea of "objective", since a few checks are enough for you to think that something is objective. This makes the discussion very ambiguous and confused. In philosophy "objective" means absolutely, totally independent from our judgement.Angelo Cannata
    Angelo pinpoints the problem with our understanding of objectivity. But he stops short of explaining further what's missing.

    So, I think from your post, Marvin, objective to you means that there is either a scientific consensus or an individuals' affirmation of moral principles incorporated in their daily lives. And I disagree to the fullest that, philosophically speaking, this is what we mean by objective reality. Objectivity means that meaning is out there. And that we didn't improvise, create, influence this objective reality in one way or another. Neither is objectivity to be understood as a consensus among people: an objective reality could be one that's never been discovered due one reason or another, namely, we do not have the right faculties to discover it.

    One of the examples that's commonly used by philosophers is the existence of a triangle. This is what I would call the epitome of objective reality, if I believe in objective reality.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    My question is, does it really matter if morality is objective or subjective? I do not think so.
  • L'éléphant
    883
    My question is, does it really matter if morality is objective or subjective? I do not think so.Jackson
    Good point. It does not. (But it doesn't mean that one is free to do whatever they please).

    Whether it's objective or subjective, or whatever form it comes, morality is a set of principles that needs reconciling with other sets of moral principles. And this is an ongoing thing.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Whether it's objective or subjective, or whatever form it comes, morality is a set of principles that needs reconciling with other sets of moral principles. And this is an ongoing thing.L'éléphant

    Yes, agree. When I debate anti-abortion people I always ask them how it comports with their other moral ideas. (They never respond.)
  • L'éléphant
    883
    When I debate anti-abortion people I always ask them how it comports with their other moral ideas.Jackson
    Good inquiry.
  • Marvin Katz
    54
    I failed to make my position clear.
    I shall try again. I believe we all project our own reality. I hold that there is, in practice, no such thing as objectivity: only subjectivity.
    There can be, and often is, a "meeting of minds." We do find an overlapping of individual's projections ...such that we get a consensus now and then, an agreement. - and this is a happy coincidence.

    What I am arguing is that "objectivity" is shared subjectivity. For example, "George Washington was the first U.S. President" is 'an objective fact' only because a consensus of reporters and historians have agreed that it is, and the rest of us are willing to accept this as so! [I;m sure there are a few exceptions, since there always are.]
    We cannot get the subjectivity out of any human assertion. There is, I will grant, a thin line between fact and value, a line which is a bottomless chasm: "Value" and "fact" are distinct concepts. Facts are perceived by our senses. And any decision we make is, hopefully, grounded in facts as well as being partially a value-judgment.

    My post attempted to make the case that if something can be put on the blackboard in a classroom of students eager to learn and to make sense out of what they see there, that maybe is enough to render it as "obfective." And this would apply equally to lessons in geometry or lessons in Ethics, when the lattrer has been systematized, put into a framework where its terms are related to one another, and has been generated by a fertile concept (which could be designated as "an Axiom."
    Thanks to Formal Axiology employed as a meta-ethics, Ethics is now at a point where this has been achieved. [Ask Google for M.C. Katz, Unified Theory of Ethics.] I have written several other booklet-length texts since that one. {Being new here, I am not sure I can offer you links to those however ...even though they are free of charge. and even though I am making an assumption here that anyone here is that interrested in a semi-scientific Ethics theory.}
    (If such an "inquiring mind" exists, he or she could perhaps sens me a memo, a private message, to that effect.) Maybe, perhaps, I could hear from a Moderator as to whether I will get banned if I give a link to a free pdf. for those who want more detail on a topic. (?)

    BTW
    L'éléphant wrote: " One of the examples that's commonly used by philosophers is the existence of a triangle. This is what I would call the epitome of objective reality, if I believe in objective reality. "

    A triangle does NOT exist; it only consists as a conception in the mind.. Here below, is an application of the basic Dimensions of Value described in the early pages of BASIC ETHICS: a systematic approach by yours truly -- ask in a search box for it -- the Dimensions are S (for Systrmic Value) E(for Eztrinsic Value) and I(for Intrinsic Value They were conceived of, and rigorously explained by Dr. Robert S. Hartman. You can read up on this polymath genius in Wikipedia. [See also the entry there captioned Science of Value.]

    When those Dimension areapplied to Ontology, we get:

    S: Essence E: Existence I: Reality

    Essences consist. Existents exist. Realities persist.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    My question is, does it really matter if morality is objective or subjective? I do not think so.Jackson

    I do think so. If you consider morality as objective, you can discern man-made morality as a mere illusion, a fiction, a fantasy, a false morality even. A morality which can be surpassed, not obeyed to. Every man-made moral is a moral to which you don't need to feel submitted to. An objective moral is one to which we all should conform. Which is not to say that the moral should be obeyed to. And of course, one's objective morality can be different from the other's. An objective morality gives a feeling of certainty.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    What I am arguing is that "objectivity" is shared subjectivity.Marvin Katz
    I think that is intersubjectivity, not "objectivity". The latter – "shared" or not (known or unknown) is epistemological and the former is sociological / ecological. That quibble aside, your insights seem commensurable with my own which are summarized below in an old post:
    Objectively, not merely subjectively or relatively, all persons suffer. The first fact of life (Buddha, Epicurus). Thus, the consequences of a sufferer's actions either increase another person's / her own suffering or it does not (Hillel the Elder), and though each person suffers subjectively, unless deliberately isolated, persons do not suffer alone and are always surrounded by, in the company of, other suffering persons. Furthermore, each person knows that others suffer in the same ways as she does and she knows how to increase or not increase, even reduce, another's suffering as well as her own (P. Foot). Groups of suffering persons, therefore, depend on one another to act in ways that do not increase, and as often as possible reduce, suffering. This kind of grouping is eusocial: basically a truce or implicit promise each suffering person is committed to, by her mere presence and having once had been a suffering child dependent on suffering adults (Arendt), to not increase other suffering persons' suffering – and a promise, per John Searle, is an institutional fact that entails a manifest ought – and therefore is objective. Morality is objective because all suffering persons depend on one another to keep the implicit (eusocial) promise both to not harm one another and to help reduce each other's suffering whenever possible (Spinoza).180 Proof
    Thus, my metaethics is Ethical Naturalism (i.e. "good" is agency (i.e. capabilities – virtues, habits – for nonzero sum care of functional defects of self, others & commons) optimized by praxes of preventing and reducing harms & injustices, respectively); my normative ethics is Negative Hedonic Utilitarianism (i.e. "right" judgments and conduct that prevents or reduces harm); and my applied ethics is Negative Preference Consequentialism (i.e. "right" policies-practices that prevent or reduce injustice).
  • Agent Smith
    8k
    From a naïve utilitarianism perspective, if pain is objective, morality is/has to be too, oui? :chin:
  • Athena
    2.3k
    It seems that you have quite a moderate idea of "objective", since a few checks are enough for you to think that something is objective. This makes the discussion very ambiguous and confused. In philosophy "objective" means absolutely, totally independent from our judgment. That's the reason why I think objectivity is just a human fantasy, since you cannot refer to anything without making it automatically related to your judgement.Angelo Cannata

    But like any science, it is not just the individual's judgment. It is a judgment civilized people share.
    @ Marvin Katz's explanation is essential to democracy, which is a systematic system of raising the human potential by arguing like the gods until there is a consensus on the best reasoning.

    Coming from Greek philosophy democracy is an ongoing search for truth and the object of this search is happiness, not just for oneself but for the entire social/political system. That philosophy was hijacked by Christians who then proceeded to create heaven on earth. Unfortunately, the Holy Bible does not explain universal law and the human effort as well as philosophy does, and religion becomes tribalism that stands in the way of knowing truth and manifesting happiness.
  • Athena
    2.3k
    From a naïve utilitarianism perspective, if pain is objective, morality is/has to be too, oui? :chin:Agent Smith
    .

    I don't think masochism is a popular choice. I think humans are more prone to want happiness, but many get lost in Hades and without the help of the gods (necessary concepts), they may not find their way out.
  • Athena
    2.3k
    I do think so. If you consider morality as objective, you can discern man-made morality as a mere illusion, a fiction, a fantasy, a false morality even. A morality which can be surpassed, not obeyed to. Every man-made moral is a moral to which you don't need to feel submitted to. An objective moral is one to which we all should conform. Which is not to say that the moral should be obeyed to. And of course, one's objective morality can be different from the other's. An objective morality gives a feeling of certainty.Hillary

    To not feel subject to our morals is to be a bad citizen. We do not make morals, but through effort we become aware of them as universal laws, and just as our understanding of science can change, so can our understanding of morals change.

    A moral is knowledge of universal law and good manners.
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.4k

    Can Morality ever be objective? Very interesting question and topic! :up:

    Morality too, like science, has to do with common agreement on principles concerning "right" and "wrong" or "good" and "bad" behavior. Which of course are subjective. They differ from culture to culture, even there are some basic principles that are common to almost all (civilized) cultures. Moreover, these principles too may change through time, although not so easily and often as in astronomy and the science in general.

    So, morality --as we understand the term in general-- is subjective.

    Can it be objective?

    I have to replace here the term "morality" with "ethics". Although these are considered synonyms in general, they differ in that the term "morality" has a much wider use than "ethics", which can be treated as a system and a branch of philosophy.

    An objective ethics system must be universal, i.e., that can be always applied, independently of the circumstances. And it must be based on a fundamental element or principle of life. It will itself then be the base of ethical behavior.

    This fundamental element is the purpose of life itself. And the fundamental purpose of life is Survival.

    Survival -- is the purpose of all life. That's what life --in its basic state, raw form-- wants: To exist and continue to exist! This is the fundamental law of life and it is where ethics must be based on. Ethics must protect, support and enhance Survival.

    A secondary law of life is that it seeks pleasure and avoids pain. Life responds instinctively in a positive way to pleasure stimuli and in a negative way to pain stimuli. This law too must be adopted and applied by our ethics system. In short, our ethics system must support and apply all the laws of life.

    So, the basic principle and purpose of such an ethics system is: Support and promote survival for as many lives as possible and to the highest possible degree. This is an objective and absolute principle and purpose.

    (Note: The terms "survival" and "life" must be considered beyond just "being and staying alive". Life can and does exist in many levels, areas and forms beyond bare existence. I believe that this is quite obvious, yet I could expand it, but not in here.)
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    you can discern man-made morality as a mere illusion,Hillary

    What other morality is there?
  • Paulm12
    116

    Great topic. One particular challenge when it comes to morality is establishing a basis for which to judge moral codes and statements. For instance, when we say
    The Sun has planets, including the planet, Earth
    It is generally agreed, despite our definitions of things, they would exist even if humans did not. Mathematics is a tricky one, but a majority of mathematicians are platonists. I’ve heard different surveys but the number tends to be 60-80% (I am as well, for the record).

    The issue with morality is what standard we have to build an objective morality on (unless moral realism is true and these principles are out there). In this case, the theist has a huge advantage-they can argue that God created the world and also gave us a set of moral principles as well as an internal moral sense that is generally pretty accurate.

    From a purely naturalistic perspective, it is difficult to see why humans, sentient life, etc have any cosmic moral worth (Note that I am not a naturalist). For instance, J.L. Mackie said in his “Argument from Queerness” (Paraphrased)
    If there were objective values, they would be things of a very strange sort, utterly different from anything else in the universe. Yet, we have no philosophically satisfying account either of the existence of such things or of how we could come to know about them. Therefore, we should not believe in objective values.
    We can say moral values are subjective, but this is unsatisfying to me. Without an objective moral standard, we can’t say that moral “progress” can be made (i.e. that abolishing slavery was somehow a good thing)
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Without an objective moral standard, we can’t say that moral “progress” can be made (i.e. that abolishing slavery was somehow a good thing)Paulm12

    Some areas of morality can advance. But as a nation, for every move forward there is always move backwards.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    What other morality is there?Jackson

    Natural morality.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Natural morality.Hillary

    Humans are not natural?
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    This question is a variant, or a sub, of the question if there exists an objective reality.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    Humans are not natural?Jackson

    No. They act unnatural. Against the natural eternal objective moral. Which is fine by me but no good.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Against the natural eternal objective moral.Hillary

    Which is?
  • Hillary
    1.9k


    To act naturally, in agreement with nature. Agreement is gone nowadays.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    To act naturally, in agreement with nature.Hillary

    What is that agreement, exactly?
  • Hillary
    1.9k


    Not to posit yourself opposite to nature.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Not to posit yourself opposite to nature.Hillary

    I see.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Do you?Hillary

    You are saying nothing and are very inarticulate.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    You are saying nothing and are very inarticulate.Jackson

    Then what do you see?
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Then what do you see?Hillary

    What I just said.
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