• DJ Young
    1
    Considering that human beings had no role in establishing their very existence, do they truly have the ability to determine what is morally right and wrong in a world that they had nothing to do with prior? This is not a question of religion but of existence. If independent thoughts based upon past events determine what is morally right and wrong, what determined it in the first place? I would personally resort to the pre-existing statues in effect prior to humanity's rise, but I'm curious to hear the thoughts of fellow philosophers.
  • TSBU
    25
    It depends in what you think morality (or ethics) are. We don't have the ability to know anything for sure, but we have to live with our actual knowledge. You have to deal with other people, you must have knowledge about that, you can think what is good or worse in every situation. You can teach other people to be like you want them to be too, or show them what you think is better for them.

    That's morality for me.
  • anonymous66
    626
    I think it all depends on if you think some ways of living our lives are better than others. Is there such a thing as living a life of excellence?
  • noAxioms
    748
    Morals seem to be defined by humans, sort of as part of a social contract. I don't therefore see where else from which they might come.
    Obviously I don't consider them objective. Different beings would hold to different morals and it is a mistake to apply ones morals to a significantly different type of being or other moral agent.
  • Janus
    7.9k


    Humans have created the notion of moral rectitude. If this fact reflects a human intuition into a divine order, then moral intuitions should be, by and large, trustworthy.

    If the fact does not reflect intuition into any divine order, then perhaps it is merely a kind of intuitive practical wisdom, the phronetic ability to see what it right and appropriate for best fulfilling the almost universal human desire to live harmoniously with others.
  • Wayfarer
    8k
    There's an old expression, called 'the moral compass'. It's an intuition, something like 'conscience'. Sits somewhat uneasily with evolutionary thinking, because it doesn't necessarily have pragmatically useful consequences.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    I have a tendency to believe that there is a spiritual dimension to moral intuition. On the other hand in a purely pragmatic connection cultures whose people had strong moral intuitions would be expected to be more likely to work harmoniously and hence to survive than cultures that didn't. Of course, in this latter purely pragmatic view of the issue it is more advantageous if your moral intuitions not to do wrong to others applies only to your own people, so in view of warfare perhaps moral intuitions to not to do wrong to all others would not be so advantageous.

    I don't find modern evolutionary theory very convincing, certainly not when it is applied to spirituality and the arts.
  • Mayor of Simpleton
    425
    Considering that human beings had no role in establishing their very existence, do they truly have the ability to determine what is morally right and wrong in a world that they had nothing to do with prior?DJ Young

    Something sort of makes me think that we might be on to a non-sequitur here, as why should not having any role in coming into being imply that one subsequently cannot make value determinations of what one considers to be good or bad in the moral sense of the application?

    If independent thoughts based upon past events determine what is morally right and wrong, what determined it in the first place?DJ Young

    That seems like a very different question or perhaps holds within an implication... maybe something begging to be stated?

    Let's run with the notion that good or bad are value assertions founded upon experiences/information/interpretations of past events (or not run with that if you have something else in mind) and I'll go a step further to suggest that such value assertions can indeed be refined and adapted over time subject to the accumulation of subsequent experiences/information/interpretations... (that was a mouthful)

    ... what is determined "in the first place" seems to not really fit as a question, but is actually a statement.

    The implication of "in the first place" sort of assumes that there is indeed some sort of starting point or absolute or universal that "got the moral ball rolling".

    Why assume there was a "first place"?

    My reasoning for this is that when we make value assertions (in the case of good and bad) we are making them founded upon our experiences/information/interpretations at that moment in time. Sure we build upon this value assertion process, but one does not need to have knowledge of everything to field a value assertion. I would highly doubt that anyone is in the position to know, as well as take into consideration all possible variables when making such a value assertion. (there are just too many things to consider and too little time to do so provided that one actually could consider them all somehow)

    Sorry to muddle this up. I'm not really doing much philosphy as of late. I'm more than just a bit rusty.

    I would personally resort to the pre-existing statues in effect prior to humanity's rise, but I'm curious to hear the thoughts of fellow philosophers.DJ Young

    I'm not all to sure how this factors into the mix.

    We sort of addressed independent thought and now we have "humanity's rise"... seems like a move from the individual (perhaps a special case) on to a very large and vague generalization of event and it's previous effect/affects upon humanity's ability to field value assertions of good or bad.

    Anyway...

    ... I won't make any futher assumptions, as there simply are not enough words in the OP for me to make heads or tails of what we are really addressing.

    How is not having played a role in one coming into being a sequitur factor into one being able to field value assertions of good or bad?

    Why must one have some sort of knowledge (if at all possible) of the first place (if indeed that place is a real place and not simply another value notion of unfounded certainty) to field value assertions of good or bad?

    I'm not all too sure of what is meant by "humanity's rise" and why we need to have knowledge prior to this event, which I'm not all too sure we can place a date ot time upon or...

    I need an espresso.

    Meow!

    GREG
  • apatheticynic
    4
    What is right or wrong is an opinion. We mostly determine how we live and society collectively decides the moral code. So, as an individual, we have the right to determine our own moral beliefs.
  • anonymous66
    626
    What is right or wrong is an opinionapatheticynic

    Kinda like the opinion about whether or not 2+2=4? When someone says, "it's my opinion that 2+2=5... " It doesn't change my mind. I just look at them funny.
  • Mayor of Simpleton
    425
    Kinda like the opinion about whether or not 2+2=4? When someone says, "it's my opinion that 2+2=5... " It doesn't change my mind. I just look at them funny.anonymous66

    I really hate to kick at this, but 2+2=4 takes on a new perspective relative to the context, as in adding 2 of what to 2 of the another to result in making 4 of what?

    Let's say you add 2 liters of liquid to 2 other liters of liquid and are asked how many liters of liquid would be ther result of this addition. The common answer is 4 liters.

    The problem here is quite clear. What liquids are involved?

    Sure if we have 2 liters of water and add that to 2 liters of water you'd have 4 liters of water, but what if you add 2 liters of water to 2 liters of liquid nitrogen? More than likely the answer would be 0 liters, as what nitrogen doesn't go to a gaseous it would work as an agent to freeze the water into a solid state.

    Context and specifics really matter in making value assertions.

    If you add 2 apples to 2 bottle of diet cola you cannot come up with 4 paintings by Van Gogh; thus in this case 2 + 2 = 0, but if you ask how many apples it would be 2+2=2.

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

    btw... The problem with "Common Core" is that there is often an attempt to teach maths via ambiguity.

    An example:


    66az7zc3crz1owcr.jpg


    Horrible question! Horrible teaching!

    Take 2 from 5 and add it to 8... does that mean you have removed 2 from 5 or subtracted 2 from 5?

    It could be argued that if one "takes" 2 from 5 the remainer would be 3. Adding 3 to 8 gives one 11. (no wonder the kids are looking at this stuff as if to say "bullshit"!)

    If the teacher said subtract 3 from 5 there would have been no ambiguity.

    Also (to make matters worse), why not just as well say add 57 to 5 and divide that by 31 and add the remainder to 8... or any combination of maths that will result in 2 to be added to 8?

    There are simply too many possible answers, due to the cryptic nature of the question. Judging by the handwriting of the student, does anyone really believe that this form of open ended ambiguity is an appropriate methodology for learning maths for students of this age?

    Oh... and we never really considered subtracting 3 from 8 then adding that to 5 or do we take 5 from 8 or ...now it's really screwed up.

    Ambiguity of intention leads one to frustration and a lack of clarity. If it simply read 5 + 8 - x =10, it would have been clear, but it does grant me a reason to kill 15 minutes for a post in the forum.

    I suppose how can we determine what is morally right or wrong about common core might be the next issue at hand, eh?

    Meow!

    GREG
  • Jamesk
    317
    I think that what we call morals are more of a pragmatic code for survival. As people develop into societies and congregated to live in ever larger groups, codes of behavior had to evolve to find ways of not killing each other all the time.

    Laws are formed from pragmatism not fairness. As Frank Herbert said, 'Law always chooses sides on the basis of enforcement power. Morality and legal niceties have little to do with it when the real question is: Who has the clout?'
  • Cavacava
    2.4k



    I agree with MOS, we are living a life. While we are not responsible for our own existence that does not entail, that we cannot make value assertions.. " one does not need to have knowledge of everything to field a value assertion"

    While all our value assertions are constructed, by history, context, society, experience...for over 2500 years we have asked ourselves the same sorts of questions. Not many definitive answers or answers that have not been challenged, but this inquiry leads (naturally & historically) to similar topics and, feelings. I remember the feeling of moral outrage the first time I read Antigone long ago.

    So, then are there salient points about the human species that might explicate which values are integral to living a moral life. We have discussed this for over 2 millennia. I think there are moral criteria that we as humans subscribe to by virtue of being human, otherwise we are wasting our time and we should all become lawyers or politicians, if all we are arguing about are rules of construction in society.
  • anonymous66
    626
    @the OP
    Are judgments about right and wrong really all that different than the fields of medicine or mathematics?

    Just as we don't just say, "it's all just a matter of preference" when it comes to medicine or mathematics, we don't have to throw up our hands in despair when it come to ethics and morality.

    And think about how different the world would be if we were convinced that medicine and mathematics were really just about preferences.
  • Smitty
    8
    Sure. What is most beneficial is morally right, and what is most detrimental is morally wrong.
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