• Restitutor
    24
    I have started this topic because I haven’t heard any good arguments for what underpins the concept of morality in the absence of religion. This said, I have never posted the question as a thread and I am more of a scientist than a philosopher.

    People who are religious will normally, at least to some extent under-gird their moral structure with their religion. They will say you shouldn’t do x because x is a sin and it’s a sin because god doesn’t like it. This is problematic as a logic loop because there is no evidence that the god they refer to exists.
    It seems quite clear to me that morality is simply a concept that is encoded into our neurons and influences the way we process information. The reason that the idea of morality is ubiquitous also seems obvious, it strengthens the societies that espouse it meaning those societies that didn’t have the concept either adopt it or disappear due to competition. You may quibble about why it is helpful for people to believe a certain behavior is immoral, but I don’t think many people would argue that society would function better without the concept at all.

    This likely origin and function of the idea of morality strongly suggests it to be self-serving and relativistic. It is relativistic in the sense that morality is not tied to anything deeper that what is likely in the interest of a strong society at that moment. This off-course changes, and indeed what we believe to be moral also changes over time and between societies, emphasizing its relativistic nature.
    Relativistic morality is an oxymoron, it creates morality devoid of any true moral imperative, a kind of morality in name only. With relativistic morality, when you call something like incest immoral all you are really saying is that it’s a behavior which on average is likely to have negative implications for you and/or society on average, in most circumstances in the long term. I don’t think relativistic morality is anything like the same thing as absolute morality definitionally.

    For me the idea of absolute morality that extends beyond what is self-serving is as unlikely as there being a white bearded god out there. I think that atheists carry on believing in absolute morality because the idea of morality is so emotionally and practically important to us. For these reasons we overlook the fact it doesn’t make intellectual sense.

    Let me know what you think?

  • Outlander
    769
    The less people you tick off the safer you'll be generally. If you could live in or visit a city where everyone gets along, where you can safely walk the streets at night and one that's the opposite, where would you rather expend your time, effort, and money? Why would you risk you and your families safety when you can just go somewhere else? Think TripAdvisor reviews for cities and places. Not so farfetched. Google autocomplete "is it safe to visit..." the more that comes up the less encouraging the place is to visit as is the chance of it to continue to thrive.
  • Restitutor
    24
    yes, well argued, you made my first point better than i did.

    It seems quite obvious what purpose the concept of morality serves and why it is ubiquitous. It it also clear that what is considered moral changes over time and between socialites, probably as a result of different circumstances.

    If morality is simply a helpful but changeable concept that fosters more functional communities then this is relativistic morality as a beneficial concept. I would argue that this is antagonistic to the populate conception of morality which is generally isn't seen as a just a concept and generally is seen as relay quite absolute.

    For me the burning question is, dose morality as popularly conserved of exist?
  • Echarmion
    1.6k
    I would argue that this is antagonistic to the populate conception of morality which is generally isn't seen as a just a concept and generally is seen as relay quite absolute.

    For me the burning question is, dose morality as popularly conserved of exist?
    Restitutor

    That depends of course on just what you consider the popular notion of morality to be. Two observations I'd make in that regard are:

    a) morality usually deals with social obligations, and while there are many examples of a connection to divine law or will, moral duties are rarely exactly fixed.

    b) certain moral duties are consistent across different societies and times.

    There are almost no societies, for example, which don't have basic moral guidelines for conflict resolution or responsibility for the sick and elderly.

    So in that sense, I think it's justified to say that morality exists as something specific, distinct of individual preferences. But of course the individual justifications for the rules will often be contradictory or unconvincing.
  • DrOlsnesLea
    28
    FYI: Moral atheists = Humanists. So it's humanism that's the address, not atheism. I happen to think that atheists know this so the question remains.
  • Kenosha Kid
    1.4k
    This likely origin and function of the idea of morality strongly suggests it to be self-serving and relativistic. It is relativistic in the sense that morality is not tied to anything deeper that what is likely in the interest of a strong society at that moment.Restitutor

    In one of my older threads I cited several sources that suggest that moral drives and capacities have some biological basis. You are right to an extent: the historic differences between moralities between societies speaks to the social basis of morality. However, there are still commonalities, and that might speak to the apparent genetic bases for morality: empathy and an instinct for altruism.

    For me the idea of absolute morality that extends beyond what is self-serving is as unlikely as there being a white bearded god out there.Restitutor

    In light of the above, it is important to distinguish what is good for the self and what is good for the genome. A society of altruists historically had a survival benefit. The individual actions taken may be selfless, while the net benefit of belonging to such a society is to the individual.
  • magritteAccepted Answer
    145
    a) morality usually deals with social obligations, and while there are many examples of a connection to divine law or will, moral duties are rarely exactly fixed.
    b) certain moral duties are consistent across different societies and times.
    Echarmion
    We and our society have privileged morality, there is but one true morality and it is ours. Unfortunately, others who disagree in the details also claim to be privileged.

    The only way to resolve this conflicts is to appeal to one absolute authority to grant us all absolute morality. If we can agree on one unique absolute authority. An absolute authority would need to have absolute foundations. Can logic, philosophy, science, or faith be that foundation? In ancient Greek enlightenment many thought that there is only one absolute and it's ideal logic, therefore the one God must be the god of logic.
  • Echarmion
    1.6k
    The only way to resolve this conflicts is to appeal to one absolute authority to grant us all absolute morality.magritte

    I don't see why this is the only way to resolve the conflict. One might simply accept that there is no "absolute" authority on moral question, because morality only arises in a community of conscious beings, and can only be as "absolute" as their shared reality.

    It's a bit like asking God for absolute verification of our observations.
  • Restitutor
    24


    You could solve the problem by killing anybody that disagrees with you. I am not suggesting that it would be my approach but it isn't like people haven't done it.
  • Outlander
    769
    In ancient Greek enlightenment many thought that there is only one absolute and it's ideal logic, therefore the one God must be the god of logic.magritte

    in Ancient Greece women were not used for sexual pleasure, only procreation. Therefore the only way to enlightenment must be illegal relations with younger citizens. I would've (and wanted to) phrase this one logical comparison more bluntly or vulgarly but decided not to.

    You could solve the problem by killing anybody that disagrees with you.Restitutor

    You could. But that would never happen. Even dogs (I know I remember reading this though I struggle to remember exactly what the source was, nor do I really wish to know) together in a cage after seeing each killed in front of them will have a sense of time/consciousness (past, present, future) and become aware of what will likely happen to them next. Ergo, if I see that. I'll listen to you. I'll agree with you. I'll participate. I'll even try to gain rank or position. Just don't turn your back. They always do though. Eventually. :grin:
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    For me the idea of absolute morality that extends beyond what is self-serving is as unlikely as there being a white bearded god out there.Restitutor

    The 'white-bearded god' is caricature in place of an argument, which speaks volumes.

    It's important to frame the issue. Here is a description of the religious outlook taken from Josiah Royce, an American philosopher of the late 19th century:

    The religious person perceives our present life, or our natural life, as radically deficient, deficient from the root (radix) up, as fundamentally unsatisfactory; he feels it to be, not a mere condition, but a predicament; it strikes him as vain or empty if taken as an end in itself; he sees himself as homo viator, as a wayfarer or pilgrim treading a via dolorosa through a vale that cannot possibly be a final and fitting resting place; he senses or glimpses from time to time the possibility of a Higher Life; he feels himself in danger of missing out on this Higher Life of true happiness. If this doesn't strike a chord in you, then I suggest you do not have a religious disposition. Some people don't, and it cannot be helped. One cannot discuss religion with them, for it cannot be real to them. It is not, for them, what William James in "The Will to Believe" calls a "living option," let alone a "forced" or "momentous" one.

    So if the debate is framed in terms of the atheist's presumption, then naturally there is nothing at stake but a falsehood which he or she has shaken off; but that begs the question, it assumes what it is setting out to prove. For the believer, there's a lot at stake; it's literally a question as momentous as life and death. Not simply a mythical bearded sky-father, or quaint little nativity scene in a shopfront window.
  • magritte
    145
    morality only arises in a community of conscious beings, and can only be as "absolute" as their shared reality.Echarmion
    I suppose shared reality would need to come from common human inheritance and traits or from close to uniform environmental possibilities and limitations everywhere. Should men and women have identical ethics or should differences be recognized and accounted for? Should we gradually phase in ethical norms by age?

    The classical problem is an intolerant insistence on universal ethics to offer a cure against evidence that most people are not generally moral even by their own standards. Few of us are saints. Cultural differences are fading with globalization of social standards but they are still out there. Some countries are more caring than others.

    solve the problem by killing anybody that disagrees with youRestitutor
    Totalitarian governments are doing that already. What if there was only one nation in the future, would it be permissive of moral plurality?

    in Ancient Greece women were not used for sexual pleasure, only procreation. Therefore the only way to enlightenment must be illegal relations with younger citizens.Outlander
    Ancient Greeks were crude and unjust as measured by either their traditional religious ethics or by our modern standards. But it isn't fair to judge them in retrospect. American Vietnam veterans have been both heroes and monsters in different places in changing times. Anyway, ethics is not about what people actually are but what norms of belief and behavior they should hold up as ideals.
  • 8livesleft
    60
    Our morality is based on our biological and cultural evolution. The biological part is based on what humans as a species need to survive and thrive, the cultural part is based on both the biological needs as well as what works for the group as a whole.

    We can usually see 2 general principles at play in most organized systems:

    1. The prevention of unnecessary harm and suffering as well as the promotion or enhancement of well-being."

    2. Might makes right.

    Successful cultures, societies, governments are those that adhere to the first principle the best. Systems that follow the second principle are often more dangerous, chaotic and overall inefficient.

    The specific details are always changing because the environment is never static. The planet itself undergoes cycles and so cultures are typically going from one state to the other. Usually, younger or declining systems move towards Might makes right and the more mature or progressive systems favor the first principle.
  • javra
    1.1k
    Let me know what you think?Restitutor

    For me at least, the question can be posed in parallel to “what is truth in the context of atheism”.

    For those who uphold an omnipotent creationist deity, this deity must logically be the creator of truth, and, hence, all instantiations of it. Otherwise, this specified deity isn’t omnipotent and is itself subservient to, a subject of, truth—which in this case is not of the deity’s creation.

    The same issue can then be posed in relation to the good—without which all morality is meaningless: An omnipotent creationist deity is either the creator of the good, or the good is an uncreated aspect of the reality which all beings, including all deities (were they to occur), are embedded in.

    I’ve addresses the parallel between truth and the good because they both seem to me to carry the same philosophical weight. If truth is a creation, whose creation is it such that the given creator(s) are not themselves subject to any truth in so creating truth (be it of physical realities, of logical principles, or anything other)? Likewise, if good is a creation, whose creation is it such that the given creator(s) are not themselves subject to doing what is good (for themselves or any other) in the creation of good?

    As to morality being relative, I’d say that it is to a certain extent, varying from culture to culture, but that it is dependent upon the existential reality of the good which—though it may take many forms to many diverse beings—always remains unchanged in its property of being good. Just as truth remains unchanged despite its instantiations taking many different forms for many different beings.

    While there are many different ways of addressing these two parallel issues of truth and the good, one such approach is then to uphold that both truth and the good simply are, this in the presence of beings—but are in no way the creation of any being. This presents, here loosely articulated, the uncreated and unchanging existential reality of both truth (thereby that which demarcates all instantiation of truth: all truths) and the good (thereby that upon which morals are dependent) within at least one possible atheistic framework—wherein no omniscient creator deity occurs.
  • Restitutor
    24
    [url=http://javra]While there are many different ways of addressing these two parallel issues of truth and the good, one such approach is then to uphold that both truth and the good simply are[/url]

    I think you have explained what many atheist’s thing about truth, good and indeed morality. People believe that they represent fundamental reality that is both internal and external to themselves and that they “simply are”.

    The problem with this is it that it has no intellectual underpinnings, if truth is just something that exists what is it made out of or how is it encoded, how does its existence fit into any reasonably well excepted, analytically grounded model of anything.
    Somebody who is religious may say of god that “god simply is”. I don’t see this as being intellectually any more or less rigorous than an atheist saying, “both truth and good simply are”. For this reason, I personally find it maddening when a certain type of atheists berates somebody who is religious for a lack of intellectual rigor.

    Although no models explain truth and good as something that exist, there are neurophycological models that explain why we have concepts such as good and truth and why we believe these concepts to represent objective reality even though they very are very rarely used to represent anything that is fundamentally true. These models fit rather well with other models such as evolution and are at least consistent with all other generally excepted scientific models.

    An idea of truth and good that is consistent with Thomas Metzinger Ego Tunnel model is where it is at for me. My burning question is, where does that leave us?
  • javra
    1.1k
    [...] The problem with this is it that it has no intellectual underpinnings [...]Restitutor

    It seems we have different metaphysical perspectives. That aside, do you find any way of avoiding some given that “just is”? To give example, historically three main candidates have been “matter/the-physical just is” (which leads to physicalism), “a creator deity of everything just is” (which leads to monotheistic creationism), and “being, when interpreted as the generalized notion of awareness—replete with correlates such those of truth and the good—just is” (which can lead, for example, to Neo-platonic notions of the “the One”).

    I’m not asking for a metaphysical discussion of why one of these positions is more viable than the rest—although, in fairness, I believe I did present a somewhat mild logical argument against the viability of a creator deity.

    What I’m asking is if you know of some way of avoiding the conundrum of there being some given that just is—and, therefore, some way of avoiding a given for which the principle of sufficient reason (by which givens gain their intellectual underpinnings) cannot apply?
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    Perhaps you should consider the idea of the ‘ascent to truth’. You find that in Greek philosophy although many of those ideas were subsequently absorbed into theology and so tend to be associated with religion. But the idea is that in our natural state, we don't understand the nature of what is, as our minds are blinded by the passions. So rather than simply declaring that the truth is something that 'exists', being able to comprehend existential truth is something that has to be striven for.
  • TheMadFool
    7.9k
    To the extent I'm aware religion is, at its core, a moral system and being so it must function as a source of, sustain, and judge, reward and punish for, whatever system of morality that ensues forth.

    You mentioned, quite clearly, that morality is, and I quote, "...likely in the interest of a strong society" which bespeaks that you see, a rationale to it, good reasons for the existence of morality; in short, it makes sense to have it if only to ensure society runs smoothly with minimum disruptions. What this means is you're already well on your way towards the atheistic point of view viz. that religion isn't necessary in order to be good for it can be reasoned to as you must've when you said what you said.

    Consider also, for those religions that have a god as the source of morality, the small matter of the Euthyphro dilemma. Is it that whatever god commands is good? If yes, then anything (murder, rape, torture, etc.) would be good if god so commands. That simply won't do. Ergo, no, it's not true that whatever god commands is good. That means good isn't defined by god or, in other words, god can't be the source of morality. So much for religion and its claimed prerogative over our sense of good and bad.


    Then there's the problem of religion providing a judgement mechanism (god or karma is the judge of our actions and reward/punishment will be pro rata). This is a problem because, if one takes the noble route toward morality, reward/punishment for one's deeds should be the least of our concerns - good for the sake of good come hell or highwater sentiment. The very essence of morality - that to be truly good, no consideration must be given to benefit/loss - is eroded by the very idea of judgement, reward, and punishment.

    Let's do a recap. Religion isn't/can't be the source of morality and the idea of judgement, merit, and sin, another function of religion turns morality into a selfish game of scoring points with god or manipulating karma which sadly reveals, to my reckoning, a complete failure of understanding the nature of goodness.

    As for the third function of religion I mentioned - sustaining morality - it's well-known that many people are thoroughly dependent on religion for their sense of right and wrong - all their knowledge on morality comes from religion and let's not forget the white-bearded sky-daddy watching our every move, promising heaven and threatening hell.

    Just to make things more interesting I'd like to mKe a mention of those who land up beheading people, going on suicide missions, participating in crusades and jihads, are doing so only because of the belief that their actions are god's command or, if not, they've convinced themselves that's what god would've wanted them to do.
  • javra
    1.1k


    I’m probably gonna kick myself in the morning for asking this, still, why so harsh on the philosophical notion of karma?

    I’m saying “philosophical notion” so as to differentiate the notion of karma from what, let’s say, ignorantly self-righteous folk seek to do with it: anything, any concept, can be corrupted by certain people, regardless of what the concept is, imo.

    May @Wayfarer correct me to the extent that this is incorrect or incomplete: Karma at its root is the, what we westerners would call, natural law/principle of “action and consequence”. That’s all. No one is judging. Its just upheld that the action is the cause for the consequence as effect.

    Since it applies to a non-materialist metaphysics, it can get complicated - especially since intentions are in themselves considered to be actions, hence causes, to consequences that result. Still, tmk, karma is basically the principle that for every act there is a consequent. Hence, to say that karma judges you is akin to saying that causation judges you, which to me is nonsense.

    Just curious.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    Karma at its root is the, what we westerners would call, natural law/principle of “action and consequence”.javra

    :ok:

    The problem is, it easily morphs into a form of fatalism and/or blame-placing. 'It's their/my karma that I [got sick] [dog died] [lost money] [whatever]'. That is even, or especially, prevalent in Eastern cultures where acceptance of karma is part of the environment, where it easily becomes fatalism or indifference. But the way it's presented in (for instance) the early Buddhist texts is not like that at all - it's simply, as you say, a natural law and principle. If you regard it as a regulative principle for action, rather than as a means of blaming or rationalising misfortune, I can't think of a more obvious moral principle than 'as you sow, so will you reap'.
  • javra
    1.1k
    The problem is, it easily morphs into a form of fatalism and/or blame-placing.Wayfarer

    Yea, I acknowledge that. To my mind though, the same roundabout mind-games can occur with just about all other perspectives. Being or not being favored by God, as one example. Being or not being favored by natural selection as another. It doesn't seem to much matter what perspective is held, some will always find a way to use the given worldview for the purposes of fatalism and/or blame-placing; again, imo.

    If you regard it as a regulative principle for action, rather than as a means of blaming or rationalising misfortune, I can't think of a more obvious moral principle than 'as you sow, so will you reap'.Wayfarer

    :up:
  • Restitutor
    24


    I have read each of your posts found then enjoyable and informative. I now realize that I really tried to go too far too quickly and didn’t adequately lay out my premise. To address your posts I will lay out the bases for my assertions.

    I particularly liked the access to truth comment made by Wayfarer. For me the only way we have access to truth is by understanding patterns and relationships “written” into the fabric of the universe. The only way we can do this is by building models/representations of the universe and seeing if these models are A) consistent with other accepted models and B) make accurate predictions. Hiroshima and Nagasaki suggested Einstein’s E=MC2 based model of energy and matter represented a fundamental reality of the universe. Models that make accurate predictions represent at least some truth.. Once you start having lots of seemingly good models that are consistent with each other and make predictions you can see if those models are mutely suppurative or not. This is an interactive process that I enjoy likening to Sudoku. If you are good at it you can gain some access to the universe's underlying reality. It is still all probability based meaning you can’t say anything with absolute certainty but you work with what you have.

    We have a lot of reasonably accurate seaming models of the universe that seem to check out, from the big bang to neuronal potentiation being the basis for memory formation. These models collectively are the most intellectually coherent representation of the underlying realities of the world around us. Ideas of what we are, what morality is and what good and the truth is should probably be born out of these models but at the bare minimum they should be consistent with them. Our idea of morality and truth should fit with particle physics, and the big bang theory and evolutionary psychology and neuroscience. For an idea to be intellectually grounded it should have an internal logic that is consistent and it should be consistent with other well accepted models and it should ideally look like it could connect onto other models somehow. Nobody likes a free floating puzzle piece.

    An extremely brief attempt to do this would be. Big bang happens, gravity coalesces matter into planetary bodies, heavier elements form in the stars which eventually go supernova spreading out heavier elements. Stable chemicals that are prone to forming strands form strands that become subject to prebiotic evolution which after a membrane is acquired becomes plain old evolution. Life becomes more organized and more complex which allows for new abilities, all of which is driven by evolution. Eventually evolution gives rise to a lump of carbon, water and nitrogen that contains 10 trillion synapses organized in a complex fashion. What we get for all this organization and complexity is the ability to generate a representational model of the world around us that we have conchouse access too, this model comes complete with a center of gravity that we call the self (Thomas Metzinger’s model of the self as an ego tunnel is reasonable). Part of our model involves generating arbitrary but evolutionary useful notions of good and evil, moral and immoral. We believe these notions represent an objective truth because, if we didn’t they would lose their motivational power, this would intern result in a loss of their evolutionary usefulness. We use the representational model of the world our brains generate to help us model the future, make predictions and work together cooperatively. Because the model our brain generates makes us evolutionarily fit we are able to replicate the template that encodes us meaning we will persist for a time. We modify the representational model in our brain to suit circumstance by a type of competitive crowd saucing sometime called the marketplace of ideas. Whether it is in a day, a week or a million years, at some point in the future we will become extinct, there will be no brains to generate our evolutionary driven notions of right and wrong, so these notions will evaporate from the universe. The universe will go on without us. Planets will be born and planets will die and stars will collide just as they always have.

    You can argue how much evidence there is to support the models my statements are based on and obviously I am missing alot out but hopefully it will serve as an example of an integrated intellectual framework that includes us. As mentioned, trying to build such frameworks is like playing sudoku. If we do this well enough, we can generate new models that allow some access to the fundamental realities of the universe.

    Suggesting that truth and the good and morality “just are” is just a statement, there is no internal or external logic, it doesn’t fit in anywhere with well proven models of the universe, it doesn’t provide any hint of information about what truth and the good and morality are. It is the Sudoku equivalent of just putting your favorite number in one of the boxes and not caring that it doesn’t fit with any of the numbers already filled in. It may feel good to have a box filled in, it may give the illusion of progress but it doesn’t mean anything and it is actually counterproductive assuming you care about finishing the puzzle. It's similar to the whole god thing which isn’t even an attempt to follow the patterns that seem to be at play in the universe, it is the equivalent of drawing pictures on a sudoku puzzle and claiming you have completed it.

    My point is, if you want intellectual access to the patterns and relationships in the universe that are fundamental to understanding what we are and what the universe is we should probably all start playing sudoku. I am not as knowledgeable as a lot of you about historic patterns of philosophical thought, this is simply me applying the scientific process as I see it to answering philosophical questions. Science has a proven track record of gaining intellectual access to the fundamental realities that govern the nature of the universe as we perceive it + it’s also cool. Are my views outside the mainstream? Is there a logic to what I am saying?.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    We have a lot of reasonably accurate seaming models of the universe that seem to check out, from the big bang to neuronal potentiation being the basis for memory formation. These models collectively are the most intellectually coherent representation of the underlying realities of the world around us. Ideas of what we are, what morality is and what good and the truth is should probably be born out of these models but at the bare minimum they should be consistent with them. Our idea of morality and truth should fit with particle physics, and the big bang theory and evolutionary psychology and neuroscience.Restitutor

    Models are collections of predictive hypotheses and mathematical formulae. At the outset of modern science, with Galileo and Newton, the decision was made to concentrate on those attributes of nature which were able to be measured and quantified mathematically. This has lead to enormous breakthroughs in the technical understanding of the physical universe, but morality and capital-T Truth were never part of that. They were put to one side, or consigned to the domain of individual conscience or religion (which in any case was identified as the losing party in the argument.)

    But the inconvenient truth of particle physics, was that just when science thought that it was going to drill down to the ‘ultimate particle’, the deepest and most fundamental constituent of nature - it found, to its embarrassment, that it had to account for ‘the role of the observer’ after all. ‘What are YOU doing here!?!’, they asked, but the answer was not immediately apparent in the math.

    Meanwhile, the whole idea of the ‘big bang’ was vigorously opposed by many scientists when it was first floated, BECAUSE it sounded too much like ‘creation from nothing’. Consider what it is saying - that the entire vast universe, 13 billion odd light years in expanse, appeared from a single point, in a single instant. Even the Pope wanted to claim this as ‘evidence’ for divine creation - something which made the scientist who first floated the idea, George LeMaitre, very uncomfortable. He was actually a Catholic priest, but he believed that you ought never to mix up the two domains of understanding.

    Meanwhile, our earnest advocates of evolutionary enlightenment assure us that ‘ We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.’ Try weaving morality into that story.

    Go back to Socrates, and study the kind of character he was, the sort of questions he asked, and how he conducted himself. That is the beginning of philosophy.
  • CallMeDirac
    21


    Morality, while subjective, can be somewhat quantified.
    What is good for the pack and good for you is good morally.
    This however is somewhat flawed as different packs have different needs and would see morality differently.

    Morality comes down to perspective.
    if you do not harm others then it is usually moral.
  • Restitutor
    24


    First, thanks for writing such a fun responce

    Models are collections of predictive hypotheses and mathematical formulae.

    When a lot of very predictive hypotheses are in agreement the the probability that they are all fundamentally wrong becomes very low. Everything that has been achieved by science, all the technology we are swimming in we have because of our predictive hypotheses.

    The most predictive of the predictive hypotheses are probably as close to certain as we are ever going to get. I don’t know under what authority somebody could claim to be more likely to be representing fundamental reality than with one of these predictive hypotheses. Take the second law of thermodynamics as an example.


    What is your claim to knowledge based on if not predictive hypothesis?

    At the outset of modern science, with Galileo and Newton, the decision was made to concentrate on those attributes of nature which were able to be measured and quantified mathematically. This has lead to enormous breakthroughs in the technical understanding of the physical universe, but morality and capital-T Truth were never part of that. They were put to one side, or consigned to the domain of individual conscience or religion (which in any case was identified as the losing party in the argument.

    You say “the decision was made”, you make it sound like Galileo, Nuton and the pope had a meeting and issued a memo that I apparently, in the year 2020 am somehow meant to respect or care about or something. The portrayal of history is not so subtly off and why do you think I care what Nuton thought about the nature of the self is beyond me.

    I also don’t understand why you think your anecdote speaks against my point, it speaks against yours. So a few hundred years ago it became quite evident to everybody but the dogmatic, that predictive hypothesis could answer a whole range of questions better than the mystics and philosophers so it got broken off from philosophy to form the sciences. Nurtured by the light provided by predictive hypothesis science has bloomed, bearing us the fruits of human knowledge (picture an apple Iphone hanging off a tree).

    We have a broadly analogous situation today. This time we have simply gotten better at science, developed new and powerful ways of asking questions and testing hypotheses which has opened up new arrears to investigation that crazy old Newton thought was only explainable by religious dogma. Even though you don’t seem to be particularly aware of it, scientists and scientifically minded philosophers are asking questions that scientifically disinclined philosophers not long ago considered their domain. If you would read the literature you would see they are doing really quite well. Their tree of knowledge has sprouted, we will have to wait and see if the fruits it bairs are poisonous. Science is again encroaching onto philosophy's patch, it's a repeat, all we are missing are the dogmatics, o wait! ummm…. Seriously though, the war between science and all other claims to knowledge never stopped, there has never even been a ceasefire, it's just that now scances is making advances into new arias.

    BTW, studying the illusion of the self is studying nature, studying consciousness is studying nature, studying the concept of morality is studying nature, to studying the concept of truth is to study nature. The idea of something not being part of nature is pure make believe, there is no evidence for it and it runs against all current predictive models. I hope you have never made somebody who is religious feel bad about believing in something there is no evidence for..


    But the inconvenient truth of particle physics, was that just when science thought that it was going to drill down to the ‘ultimate particle’, the deepest and most fundamental constituent of nature - it found, to its embarrassment, that it had to account for ‘the role of the observer’ after all. ‘What are YOU doing here!?!’, they asked, but the answer was not immediately apparent in the math.

    Your right, I know, particle physicist, what a bunch of idiots. Let's go and ask the people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima if they have ever shown any evidence that their fancy models even work.

    Is this is your anecdote that disproves science or something. You are simply making fun of people for proving their hypothesis wrong, this is a good thing, proving something is wrong is a type of knowledge, especially if it means getting rid of a model that didn’t work. This is an example of science working correctly, not incorrectly. When philosophy comes up with a bad idea like dualizem it just keeps on going with it regardless of anything. Again, with this example you are making my point for me..

    Most scientists worth their salt know that they are just building models and making predictions, they also know there is every chance better models will supersede theres and not all of their predictive hypotheses will prove well founded or predict what we would like them to predict. This doesn't mean that individual scientists aren't smug bastards (take me for example) or refuse to acknowledge it when they are on a losing argument, we are only human after all. Science it not about individual people, individual experiments or even individual models, science is all about the scientific method which over time has tended to make better and better models of the universe that are applicable to more and more arrears of human interest. In the process it will represent more and more of the universes underlying realities. Ye scientist isn’t perfect, it can only ever talk in probabilities and all models are wrong because that is baked into the fundamental nature of being a model but where is the better alternative.


    Meanwhile, the whole idea of the ‘big bang’ was vigorously opposed by many scientists when it was first floated, BECAUSE it sounded too much like ‘creation from nothing’. Consider what it is saying - that the entire vast universe, 13 billion odd light years in expanse, appeared from a single point, in a single instant. Even the Pope wanted to claim this as ‘evidence’ for divine creation - something which made the scientist who first floated the idea, George LeMaitre, very uncomfortable. He was actually a Catholic priest, but he believed that you ought never to mix up the two domains of understanding.

    What has this got to do with anything, a big bang theory that begins in a true singularity really is still generally acknowledged to be up in the air. We simply have very little information to know how the very early expansion went or what was in existence before the big bang. Nobody really understands the exotic physics that was probably in operation pre-big band. Most people would however agree that the universe is expanding and it used to be incredibly hot and dense. These are very very hard problems physicists are trying to solve. How much less would we know about the universe if it was the philosopher's job to understand it using the method of talking while drinking coffee.

    Meanwhile, our earnest advocates of evolutionary enlightenment assure us that ‘ We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.’ Try weaving morality into that story.

    That is rhetorically quite neat, “survival machines”, i will have to use that, thanks. Seriously though “selfish molecules”, “robot vehicles blindly programmed”, it's true, just really melodramatically put. You know, just because you say something in the most melodramatic way possible, it doesn't make it any less likely to be accurate. Also saying something in a melodramatic way isn’t the same making an argument against it. Also, don’t you believe in evolution or something because if you don’t that would explain a lot? Also the concept of morality fits sooo perfectly with evolution, if you want i could explain why if you want?.

    Go back to Socrates, and study the kind of character he was, the sort of questions he asked, and how he conducted himself. That is the beginning of philosophy.

    Dude, if you are going to randomly bring somebody up you should make them a little more obscure than Socratese. Just joking, but I am a little offended for the pre-socratics.

    Are we really all that confident that Socrates isn’t essentially just a wonderful character that appears in Plato's books. I love Plato's writing style but i can’t say i really like his philosophy apart from the allegory of the cave which is obviously brilliant, although maybe little dated (joke). Plato through the character of Socratese asked questions that were appropriate for his time, if he lived at a different time he would have asked different questions. Also, I think lots of people asked great questions after Socrates. I wonder if all the stars are just suns but far away, that was a good question.

    Two of my favorite philosophers are Democritus and Epicurus, I rather presumptuously consider them spiritual brothers. Democrats coined the term Atom, and Epicurus tried to extrapolate out the notion of an atom into a model of the world and he didn’t even do too bad considering.

    I hope I haven't been too rude or offended you too much, I genuinely enjoyed reading your response.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    This is not a comment on your polemics but your formatting. There is a way to quote text that you’re commenting on - you select the text you want to respond to, then click the floating QUOTE button that comes up, which encloses the text in the right tags - then comment on it.

    I am Platonist, I learned just recently that Plato earnestly implored that all Democritus’ books be burned. Good call! ;-)
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    if you are going to randomly bring somebody up you should make them a little more obscure than SocrateseRestitutor

    Socrates is the recognisable ‘father of philosophy’; which is why those who came before him are called ‘pre-Socratic’.
  • Restitutor
    24


    Everything you say about morality i would agree with.

    Do you have an answer the question of what morality is made out of or encoded into or how it came to exist.

    If these questions are some how wrongheaded, why are they wrongheaded?

    If you don't have an answer that's fine.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    why do you think I care what Nuton thought about the nature of the self is beyond me.Restitutor

    As are many things. Nice chatting, and good luck.
  • Restitutor
    24


    I have a dyslexia diagnosis and have struggled with the disability all my life, it is a consent struggle to try and mitigate it. I have never let it hold me back even though it can be mildly embarrassing at times. There are however plenty of people with this disability who are less confident and more easily embarrassed then me and highlighting there spelling in the way you did could affect then negatively. Just something to keep in mind.

    I think bragging about your boy Plato burning books is a little odd, the practices has become a little taboo ever since the whole Hitler thing. Just saying!

    You can say Socrates is the recognizable the farther of philosophy but wasn't what the pre-Socratic doing definitionally philosophy? correct me if I'm wrong. It seems arbitrary and pointless to me, like calling somebody the recognizable farther of kicking a ball.

    I did honestly enjoyed the back and forth even though it seems like we were taking past each other mostly. Sorry, i have been in a bit of a jokey mood and good luck to you to

    PS - You do know that Newton was a religious bigot who spent most of his life conducting alchemy in pursuit of the philosopher's stone. I don't think even his biggest fans would suggest he had any special knowledge about the self. Fun fact, one of my son's middle name is Issac, the Principia was a work of genius.
  • CallMeDirac
    21


    Morality has its basis not in biology but in survival, as a species our only way to survive was cooperation. The same way a lion that doesnt contribute is outed, humans would be removed from groups and die so we had to learn to work together.
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