• Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    Let’s start with a joke
    A priest teaches a peasant about God.
    Peasant: “If I did not know about God and did not worship, would I go to hell?”
    Priest: “No, not if you honestly did not know.”
    Peasant: “Then why did you tell me?!”

    The joke is that the peasant is fully logical, and yet we know that if God is just, then the priest is correct. The solution to this conundrum lies in the peasant’s intentions. Does he have intentions of duty and goodness, or does he have intentions of self-preservation and selfishness? It is not the knowledge of God that causes him to sin (be immoral), but his original intentions.

    Let’s unpack this idea some more
    A bad outcome is undoubtably not morally bad if it is an honest, unintentional accident, such as accidentally running over a person that deliberately jumps in front of the car. Conversely, a good outcome is undoubtably not considered morally good (as in praiseworthy) if it occurs by chance, such as accidentally running over a person that turns out to be a terrorist. The reason lies in the intentions. Even in our justice system, accidental killing is much less punishable (if at all) than attempted murder.

    Let’s wrap up with syllogisms
    P1: Intention of good and evil is a necessary component of morality. As demonstrated above.
    P2: There is no intention of good or evil if there is no knowledge of good and evil. You cannot intend what you do not know.
    C1: Knowledge of good and evil is a necessary component of morality.

    P3: It is absurd to suppose that knowledge of good and evil is taught. If it was, then who was the first teacher, and "why would he tell us?!"
    C2: If objective morality exists, then its knowledge must be innate.

    Peasants, I am ready for your comments.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    I would have thought that one doctrinally-correct Christian reply would be that whilst the conscience is innate, the will has been corrupted by original sin. So even if we wish to do good, we might be incapable of recognising good, and therefore doing what is good, due to our fallen condition. It is only by virtue of receiving instruction, and thereby hearing of God’s saving grace - should we choose to accept it - that we then are able to choose what is truly good.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    the will has been corrupted by original sinWayfarer
    This cannot be. If the will was uncorrupted (incapable of evil) prior to the original sin, then what caused the original sin? No, instead, the will being free from the start was always capable of both good and evil (by definition of free will), and the original sin resulted from choosing evil. And as described in my post, the evil was fully known for it to be a sin. It is not so much the act of eating the apple that corrupted Adam and Eve, as though the apple contained some kind of corrupting substance, but the disobedience towards God, which occurred prior to the act of eating the apple.

    So even if we wish to do good, we might be incapable of recognising good, and therefore doing what is good, due to our fallen condition.Wayfarer
    How can one be blamed for a bad outcome if he could not have reasonably foreseen it? E.g. You give me food to bring to the hungry. Subsequently, they die from poison that you had injected in the food. Although I am part of the causal chain of events leading to the bad outcome, how can I be blamed if I had no knowledge of the poison?

    It is only by virtue of receiving instruction, and thereby hearing of God’s saving grace - should we choose to accept it - that we then are able to choose what is truly good.Wayfarer
    The Good in christianity is no different than the Good spoken of by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, or Confucius, all of which existed before Christ. The Golden Rule of ethics, which is tightly connected with the Good, "occurs in some form in nearly every religion and ethical tradition" (source).
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    The Good in christianity is no different than the Good spoken of by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, or Confucius, all of which existed before Christ.Samuel Lacrampe

    Personally, I agree with you, but that is not what Latin Christianity believes, which, following Augustine, holds that man is corrupted by sin, the result of which is death, and the only remission of which comes from faith in Jesus Christ. I am not defending that doctrine, (although it would be interesting to see the perspective of someone who was willing to), but that is what they say.

    The Church recognises 'virtuous pagans' such as Plato et al, however, I'm fairly sure that they're not 'in heaven'. Again, would be interested to hear the perspective of one more familiar with the doctrine.

    (Wikipedia entry on Virtuous Pagans.)
  • creativesoul
    3.7k
    What counts as objective morality?
  • creativesoul
    3.7k
    I personally argue for universal morality, but it doesn't seem to be fitting to this thread's intentions...
  • creativesoul
    3.7k

    P1: Intention of good and evil is a necessary component of morality. As demonstrated above.
    P2: There is no intention of good or evil if there is no knowledge of good and evil. You cannot intend what you do not know.
    C1: Knowledge of good and evil is a necessary component of morality.

    P3: It is absurd to suppose that knowledge of good and evil is taught. If it was, then who was the first teacher, and "why would he tell us?!"
    C2: If objective morality exists, then its knowledge must be innate.
    Samuel Lacrampe

    P1 is false. Morality is a conventionally defined as a code of conduct.

    P2 mistakenly presupposes that the quality of an intention is existentially contingent upon the subject's knowledge of that quality. It's not. As if an intention's being evil/good requires the subject's knowing that. It doesn't. An intention is good/evil regardless of the subject's awareness/knowledge of that. One can have evil intentions and not be aware/knowledgable that they are.
  • Banno
    3.7k
    Intention of good and evil is a necessary component of morality.Samuel Lacrampe

    Do people intend to do evil?
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    following Augustine, holds that man is corrupted by sin, the result of which is death, and the only remission of which comes from faith in Jesus Christ.Wayfarer
    What you write is correct. But this 'corruption by sin' refers to the corruption of the body, from immortal to mortal and prone to physical suffering, and corruption of the appetite such as physical and emotional passions. It does not refer to going from a state of pure goodness to the ability to be evil. Salvation by Jesus is salvation from death and removal of the original sin which we carry similar to a birth mark; but even then, we still have the capacity of choosing against good, due to free will, and picking hell over God.

    The Church recognises 'virtuous pagans' such as Plato et al, however, I'm fairly sure that they're not 'in heaven'.Wayfarer
    I am no theologian, but this idea seems absurd to me. If true, then an infant dying right after birth would end up in hell because it did not have time to 'know' Jesus.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    What counts as objective morality?creativesoul
    I mean to say that it is part of objective reality, not man-made.

    I personally argue for universal morality, but it doesn't seem to be fitting to this thread's intentions...creativesoul
    It is fitting in the sense that universal (objective) morality is assumed in my argument. But more than that, I try to prove that its knowledge must be innate for it to apply to us.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    What you write is correct.Samuel Lacrampe

    Thank you, although I stress again, I’m not writing that because I necessarily believe it, but because it is the teaching of the Christian church as I had understood it.

    But I do agree with your other point, that people are free to choose good or evil - which actually is also part of Christian doctrine. (It is that freedom of the will which is actually denied by philosophical materialism.)

    As for unbaptised infants - that is what ‘limbo’ was supposed to be the solution for, although as I understand it, this has now been deprecated in Catholic theology. I think it’s a vexed question. But I suppose on reflection one of the reasons that Catholics might oppose abortion, is that it prevents an infant from receiving the opportunity of salvation.
  • creativesoul
    3.7k
    All codes of conduct are man-made. If morality is a code of conduct, then all morality is man-made.

    Universal and objective are not equivalent on my view.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    P1 is false. Morality is a conventionally defined as a code of conduct.creativesoul
    If intention is not a necessary component of morality, how do we account for the fact that attempted murder is punishable by law? If only attempted, then there is no actual murder that occurred.

    P2 mistakenly presupposes that the quality of an intention is existentially contingent upon the subject's knowledge of that quality. It's not. As if an intention's being evil/good requires the subject's knowing that. It doesn't. An intention is good/evil regardless of the subject's awareness/knowledge of that. One can have evil intentions and not be aware/knowledgable that they are.creativesoul
    How can I intend to do x if I don't know what x is? E.g. how can I intend to draw a quasar if I don't know what a quasar is? I suppose I could do end up drawing one by accident, by continuously drawing random lines, but then it would still be unintentional.
  • creativesoul
    3.7k
    An evil act is evil regardless of whether or not you know it. Thus, one can intend to act in an evil way without knowing that it is evil.
  • creativesoul
    3.7k
    Doing something other than what one was told to do(in the case of Adam and Eve) was evil prior to their becoming aware of it. God is the arbiter of good and evil in the story.
  • creativesoul
    3.7k
    If intention is not a necessary component of morality, how do we account for the fact that attempted murder is punishable by law? If only attempted, then there is no actual murder that occurred.Samuel Lacrampe

    That's ethics, and again those are not objective. Rather they are subject to historical, familial, and cultural particulars.

    Attempted murder is punishable by law, because it is an act that we - as a community of people - have decided is unacceptable.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    I interpret the ‘fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ to be a symbolic reference to the advent of self-consciousness - the ability to judge what is good and evil. This is lacking in animals, as they act only out of instinct (not that the Biblical myth reflects a conscious understanding of the evolutionary history, obviously.)
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739

    Yes, but not in the strict sense of picking evil for the sake of being evil. I am optimistic that most people are not made of pure evil. Rather, picking evil is done as a means to the end of obtaining another good. This good cannot be a moral good (that would be a contradiction) but ultimately a physical or emotional good. E.g. 1: Hitler knew that his treatment of the Jews was evil, and it is reasonable to suppose he did so as a relief of his hatred for the Jews. This relief of hatred is a form of emotional good. E.g. 2: I know that giving money to charity is morally good, but I am tempted to avoid it because it would result in less money for me to buy physical goods.
  • fishfry
    469
    SO
    The joke is that the peasant is fully logical, and yet we know that if God is just, then the priest is correct. The solution to this conundrum lies in the peasant’s intentions. Does he have intentions of duty and goodness, or does he have intentions of self-preservation and selfishness? It is not the knowledge of God that causes him to sin (be immoral), but his original intentions.Samuel Lacrampe

    Doesn't God already know that? Why doesn't God just kill all the unworthy and be done with it? These word games make no sense. The God who plays wiseass word games with his creations is not the true God.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    As for unbaptised infants - that is what ‘limbo’ was supposed to be the solution for, although as I understand it, this has now been deprecated in Catholic theology.Wayfarer
    As I see it, there are only two logical outcomes: saying yes to God or saying no to God. The former is the state called heaven; the latter is the state called hell. There is one more transitional state called purgatory, which can be symbolized as the time it takes for the subject to make up his mind over the other two choices. But I cannot see limbo as a logical possibility, unless it is also temporary.

    But I suppose on reflection one of the reasons that Catholics might oppose abortion, is that it prevents an infant from receiving the opportunity of salvation.Wayfarer
    This might be a secondary reason; the primary reason is simply that humans have ontological value and should not be harmed if it can be avoided.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    All codes of conduct are man-made. If morality is a code of conduct, then all morality is man-made. Universal and objective are not equivalent on my view.creativesoul
    But then how do you explain the fact that is it universal? All other things man-made seem to differ depending on time period, place, culture and so on; does it not?

    Doing something other than what one was told to do(in the case of Adam and Eve) was evil prior to their becoming aware of it. God is the arbiter of good and evil in the story.creativesoul
    In christianity, God is not above goodness (i.e. he arbitrarily chooses what is good and evil), but he is goodness, that is, goodness is part of his essence. This is how christians escape the Euthyphro dilemma.

    That's ethics, and again those are not objective. Rather they are subject to historical, familial, and cultural particulars. Attempted murder is punishable by law, because it is an act that we - as a community of people - have decided is unacceptable.creativesoul
    I admit I use the terms 'ethics' and 'morality' interchangeably, as I don't know what the difference is. But how can one disagree that attempted murder is unethical? Would you like to be the target? Would anyone? If not, then it is unethical by applying the Golden Rule.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    I am not sure what you mean by this; but how do you know that God does not have a sense of humour? Jesus' first miracle was to turn water into wine at a party. I find that humorous personally.
  • creativesoul
    3.7k
    All codes of conduct are man-made. If morality is a code of conduct, then all morality is man-made. Universal and objective are not equivalent on my view.
    — creativesoul
    But then how do you explain the fact that is it universal?
    Samuel Lacrampe

    I reject the conventional definition of morality(as a code of conduct). I also reject the objective/subjective distinction, as you already know...
  • creativesoul
    3.7k
    Murder is wrongful killing by definition.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    I reject with the conventional definition of morality(as a code of conduct). I also reject the objective/subjective distinction, as you already know...creativesoul
    Ah yes! Hello again.

    Murder is wrongful killing by definition.creativesoul
    I don't disagree. Did I say that murder was sometimes not wrongful? Otherwise, accidental killing is not wrongful, as it is accidental, and killing is not necessarily murder.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739

    I admit that this infamous tree of knowledge of good and evil does suggest that Adam and Eve acquired the knowledge of good and evil only after eating the fruit. But it would be absurd to believe that the original sin resulted from mere bad luck of committing an evil act they had no knowledge of. Even C.S. Lewis, one of the big boss of christian philosophy, is perplexed at the role of the tree itself in the event, and just ignores that part. Who am I to disagree with sir Lewis?

    I interpret the ‘fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ to be a symbolic reference to the advent of self-consciousnessWayfarer
    Well upon realizing they were naked, they indeed became self-conscious.
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    But it would be absurd to believe that the original sin resulted from mere bad luck of committing an evil act they had no knowledge of.Samuel Lacrampe

    I don't take that to be the point at all. It take it to symbolise the very advent of knowledge, it was consequence of self-consciousness, of the ability to judge for oneself - hence 'knowledge of good and evil'. Up till then, to put it in brutally brief terms, there was no 'self' in need of saving; lions and gazelles are in no need of salvation, because they have no idea of life and death. It is mere, and pure, instinct; the herds will scatter, the carnivore makes a kill, then tranquility returns. There's the 'Garden of Eden' - no chance for good or evil to arise, as no witness for it.

    Speaking from an anthropological perspective, I identify the 'tree of knowledge' with the advent of tool-use, language, and human culture and society. It is only with things that can be owned, and therefore lost, and a sense of one's own mortality - the knowledge of the death of oneself and loved ones - that a sense of self-consciousness (symbolised by the figleaf) becomes a possibility. In ancient culture, this is the meaning of sacrifice - the return to the God or Gods some portion of what has been given, so as to return it to its primeval source. Loss and suffering is the existential plight of human existence; Jesus Christ represents the chance to return to the 'divine source' of being, wherein all loss, separation and suffering is overcome.

    As I say, that is a somewhat anthropological and perhaps gnostic analysis, but that is how I would interpret it.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739

    The problem I see with your interpretation of the story of the fall is that it sounds like this advent of knowledge and self-consciousness is a good thing; a natural evolution of the species progressing towards a higher state. In the christian interpretation however, the event of the fall is the reverse; the fall of a great species down to a lower state. It is so catastrophic that it took the blood of the son of God to redeem the species (and even then we will only see the effects after death).

    I understand that there is room for interpretation of symbols such as for the tree of knowledge, but there is no discussing that the event is a bad one.
  • Sam26
    1.2k
    What counts as objective morality?creativesoul
    My own view is that there is an essential property to an immoral act, and that property is harm. All immoral acts cause harm to the one committing the act, or to the one who is the object of the act, or to both. If there is no harm, there is no immorality. When I say this I'm not saying that every harmful act is an evil, only that all evil or immoral acts cause harm.

    The second component is that immorality is objective, that is, it's not subjective, or a matter of opinion, or a matter of consensus. For example, if I cut someone's arm off without good reason, there are several factors that make this an immoral act, and moreover, make it an objective immoral act. First, it's objectively true that the arm has been cut off, we can see it on the ground. Second, we can objectively observe the screams of the victim. Third, we can also witness the screams and tears of family and friends. These three reactions show the objective nature of the harm done. No opinion or consensus will or can change the objective nature of these observations.

    This is not to say that we're always able to detect the harm, which is why in courts of law evidence is brought forward to show the harm done.

    Intent can be tricky because while there are clearly immoral acts that involve intent, there are also acts that cause harm without intent, like accidental harm, which we can be held accountable for. Furthermore, there are evils caused by natural disasters that don't involve intent at all, yet they are often referred to as evils because of the great harm done. One might say then that while we can refer to all immoral acts as evil, not all evil involves immoral actions because they are not always the result of an agent.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    739
    Hello.

    If there is no harm, there is no immorality.Sam26
    What if your spouse cheats on you and you never know about it? As they say, "what you don't know cannot hurt you". But surely, cheating is immoral.

    if I cut someone's arm off without good reason, there are several factors that make this an immoral act, and moreover, make it an objective immoral act. First, it's objectively true that the arm has been cut off, we can see it on the ground. Second, we can objectively observe the screams of the victim. Third, we can also witness the screams and tears of family and friends. These three reactions show the objective nature of the harm done.Sam26
    But these three reactions would still occur if you had good reasons to cut someone's arm, like out of self-self-defense. So if the same things are observed for both a moral and immoral case, then they cannot be the criteria to determine if the act is moral or not.

    Intent can be tricky because while there are clearly immoral acts that involve intent, there are also acts that cause harm without intent, like accidental harm, which we can be held accountable for. Furthermore, there are evils caused by natural disasters that don't involve intent at all, yet they are often referred to as evils because of the great harm done. One might say then that while we can refer to all immoral acts as evil, not all evil involves immoral actions because they are not always the result of an agent.Sam26
    We need to differentiate between two types of evil. Moral and physical. You are correct that 'harm' is an essential property of evil, when it comes to physical evil. For moral evil, the essential property is intention; intention of not treat others like we want to be treated. So accidental harm and natural disasters are examples of physical evil. Attempted murder and looking down on others are examples of moral evil. And intentionally cutting someone's arm for not good reason is an example of both.
  • Sam26
    1.2k
    What if your spouse cheats on you and you never know about it? As they say, "what you don't know cannot hurt you". But surely, cheating is immoral.Samuel Lacrampe
    I foresaw this in my argument look closer at the types of harm.
    But these three reactions would still occur if you had good reasons to cut someone's arm, like out of self-self-defense. So if the same things are observed for both a moral and immoral case, then they cannot be the criteria to determine if the act is moral or not.Samuel Lacrampe
    If you have good reasons to cut the arm off, then obviously it's not immoral, which is why I differentiate between having good reasons for the harm as opposed to not having good reasons.
    We need to differentiate between two types of evil. Moral and physical. You are correct that 'harm' is an essential property of evil, when it comes to physical evil. For moral evil, the essential property is intention; intention of not treat others like we want to be treated. So accidental harm and natural disasters are examples of physical evil. Attempted murder and looking down on others are examples of moral evil. And intentionally cutting someone's arm for not good reason is an example of both.Samuel Lacrampe
    I also covered this, I pointed out the difference between intentional moral evil, and evil that's not intentional, like natural disasters.
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