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Objectivism Vs. Subjectivism In Morality


Matthew Garon
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EDIT: If you are reading this for the first time, here's the two unanswered questions this thread deals with...

Initial - What's objective about Objective Morality? What's in the molecules that can be measured as this amount good or this amount evil?

Refined - If there is no objectivity in Objective Morality, then does doing actions without reason or purpose mean it is without moral weight? Even if it is murder?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

So after reading on both these view points for some time, that being Objective Morality and Subjective/Relativistic Morality, and after considering Ted Bundy's reasoning for murder being that murder is only wrong if you think it is, I am a bit dismayed.

 

While I see an intrinsic flaw in Subjectivism, saying that everything is objectively subjective, I cannot find anything within the molecules that defines an act as objectively good or bad. So to me, both views are bogus interpretations of morality.

 

If you oust the idea of God, and you oust the social standards that we ourselves create, what is there in morality that you can say is totally objective? I honestly need help understanding this, it's starting to bother me lol.

 

Oh, also, what are your guy's views on using Inter-subjectively Accessible Knowledge as a means of finding objectivity in morality? I'm told that you can only have objectivity from a base of subjectivity, but that again seems intrinsically flawed to me. Thanks in advance for helping me understand this. :lol:

Edited by Matthew Garon
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I like to look at this one way lol because I live with this type of thought in my mind.

 

Its simple I do not do anything to others that I would not want done to me... And If they choose to do something to me, I react with much more hate and vengeance then they could possibly understand. They then learn to leave me alone lol

 

My farther always said "do onto others as they do onto you". Its basically a bible verse twisted to suit my families view. Nothing solves problems quicker then, "the fear of death!"

 

Many people will disagree with that statement whole heartedly. For one simple reason... They don't have it in them.

 

You can't possibly agree to this statement unless you have it in you.

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If you oust the idea of God, and you oust the social standards that we ourselves create, what is there in morality that you can say is totally objective?

Because we perceive reality subjectively, I don’t believe “totally objective” is a meaningful or used concept.

 

I believe the question implied by the title “objectivism vs. subjectivism in morality”, is.

 

I’m intentionally avoiding my usual habit of skimming encyclopedia references (typically Wikipedia) to the philosophical terms at hand, and interpreting them to the best of my memory and reason.

 

Morality is the branch of philosophy that concerns itself with determining the correctness of actions, both tangible acts of commission or omission, and less tangible ones, such as intellectual conclusions and beliefs. Objective morality can be interpreted as meaning the collection of moral philosophies that suppose that it is possible to make this determination via “objective” data that most people agree is common and shared to their perceptions, while subjective morality can be interpreted as the collection of moral philosophies that supposes it possible only via “subjective” data involving the non-sharable data, such as individuals feelings and beliefs.

 

Philosophies of both kinds suppose many other data. The most obvious, to me, is to who or what’s benefit a correct action is. Most non-religious philosophies appear to me to postulate that correct actions should benefit – be good for – human beings, with a substantial subcollection of these expanding it to include all life on earth, or all life that exists. Many religious philosophies seem to share these postulates, but suppose that what is good for humans or life in general is also good for God, gods, or other supernatural entities. The mainstream, Abrahamic religions can be argued to not share this, concluding instead that only what is good for God is correct, even if what is good for God is bad for humans and life, possibly involving their utter annihilation. As with most philosophies that assume the objective existence of God or lesser super-human deities, I find these no more worth prolonged serious consideration than, say, the serious study of the history of fictional worlds like Tolkien’s Middle Earth, because I am nearly certain that God and other supernatural beings are no more real than these fictional worlds.

 

Philosophy is often likened to the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, where the deeper you go, the more perplexing and ill-defined its ideas are. Philosophers are often deemed people who find such experiences pleasant. Still, as the central maxim of philosophy states “seldom affirm, never deny, always distinguish”. The distinguishing, in my experience, is what leads out of the rabbit hole and its attendant perplexity. I’ll try, then, to distinguish subjective and objective morality, and relatedly, intuition and emotion from dispassionate, objective reason.

 

Taking the specific example of unprovoked murder like those committed by Ted Bundy, and murder in general, emotionally and intuitively, his actions are to me abhorrently incorrect and immoral, regardless of whether he thinks them so or not, suggesting I have an intuitive sense of validity of objective morality over relative. By the same intuition, I find the 2011 assassination of Osama Bin Laden by legally authorized US soldiers morally incorrect.

 

Like Chewy, my default moral code is the golden rule: don't do to others what you would not like done to you.

 

Dispassionately, however, I understand that deaths of humans at rates much less than the human population growth rate are biologically insignificant, which catastrophic reductions in population may be biologically advantageous. This leads to a emotionally offensive yet philosophically deep question: were one able, with the push of a button, to cause the immediate deaths of, say, 99% of the human population (reducing it from about 7,000,000,000 to 70,000,000) would this be a morally correct or incorrect action. Although my intuitive, subjective answer is that this would be very incorrect, dispassionately and objectively, I have not answer.

 

More extremely, consider the following what-if scenario: Though some reliable, technological means, I am able to determine that the human race will advance to fill our galaxy, but that the resulting civilization will be almost without exception trite and brutal. Further, I am able to determine that it will prevent the emergence of a more profound and cultured non-human civilization. I am also able to cause the certain annihilation of all humans, preventing this forecasted scenario from occurring. What should I do?

 

Oh, also, what are your guy's views on using Inter-subjectively Accessible Knowledge as a means of finding objectivity in morality? I'm told that you can only have objectivity from a base of subjectivity, but that again seems intrinsically flawed to me. Thanks in advance for helping me understand this. :lol:

I find the term “consensus reality” more wieldy than “Inter-subjectively Accessible Knowledge”, and believe they refer to the same concept. I’m reluctant to equate (for fear of in actuality conflating) this concept with that of objective morality.

 

That said, pragmatically, I and most people are experience stress and unhappiness when our worlds deviate too much from our intuitive sense of moral correctness. Consensus seeking is, I think, key to living in a society that we perceive as more morally correct, specifically, seeking a consensus of what is now and is always, and what we want to be. Although attempting to arrive at “what we want” in an objective, a-priori fashion seems to me problematically, given a consensus of what is now, what we want, and what is always (this latter being, essentially, the laws of nature), the key moral question “what do we do next” seems to me methodically tractable.

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So after reading on both these view points for some time, that being Objective Morality and Subjective/Relativistic Morality, and after considering Ted Bundy's reasoning for murder being that murder is only wrong if you think it is, I am a bit dismayed.

 

While I see an intrinsic flaw in Subjectivism, saying that everything is objectively subjective, I cannot find anything within the molecules that defines an act as objectively good or bad. So to me, both views are bogus interpretations of morality.

 

If you oust the idea of God, and you oust the social standards that we ourselves create, what is there in morality that you can say is totally objective? I honestly need help understanding this, it's starting to bother me lol.

 

Oh, also, what are your guy's views on using Inter-subjectively Accessible Knowledge as a means of finding objectivity in morality? I'm told that you can only have objectivity from a base of subjectivity, but that again seems intrinsically flawed to me. Thanks in advance for helping me understand this. :lol:

Wouldn't it be objectively true that our ancestors who made moral choices did better than the ones who did not? Evolution rewards beneficial behavior. If people in general didn't know that murder was immoral then we certainly couldn't have come this far as a species. It would be hard to imagine even a tribe of humans functioning under that scenario.

 

~modest

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Wouldn't it be objectively true that our ancestors who made moral choices did better than the ones who did not? Evolution rewards beneficial behavior. If people in general didn't know that murder was immoral then we certainly couldn't have come this far as a species. It would be hard to imagine even a tribe of humans functioning under that scenario.

Quite the opposite. The way you use "moral choices" implies making a "wrong" choice is a kind of choice outside of the moral kind. If that's true, then it's false. If not, then you're still wrong. The rulers, kings and conquerors that killed the most tended to be the most successful. Look at every great empire throughout history. I wholly agree that evolution rewards beneficial behavior, what's to say then, that mass murder is not beneficial if it creates the greatest empires? There are groups of people who accept murder, regardless of whether or not they know or do not know it's moral consequences. An example of this is Germany during the holocaust. It's because of the acceptance of murder that we are where we are now, not because of its un-acceptance. There were many tribes that functioned under that scenario, modest. The Aztecs were one.

 

That being said, and based on Craig's whole argument being basically that of "do what's practical", which is how I normally function as well, I still don't see anything that you can say is intrinsically good or bad. If nothing is intrinsically good or bad, and if I am aware of this, then who bares the discontent of killing a random stranger? If reality is as you argue, entirely subjective, then what reason do I hold to not murder for fun if the only consequence is that other people don't want me to?

 

If I can't solve this dilemma, the way I live my life will have to drastically change, however, I think this situation is more like the scientist that discovered the space between atoms, thinking that if he stepped out of bed, he would fall through the floor. I hope there is something I am just missing...

Edited by Matthew Garon
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The problem you are having is the point of view! Think of it this way... Just because there is no reason to not "needlessly" kill another, does not mean you want to be killed either. You get what you deserve basically. If you kill needlessly you deserve to be killed needlessly. "Walk a mile in there shoes" and unless you want to die this would not make sense, its illogical to kill.

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Quite the opposite. The way you use "moral choices" implies making a "wrong" choice is a kind of choice outside of the moral kind. If that's true, then it's false.

"should I wear a long sleeve or a short sleeve shirt?" is not a moral choice. "should I make my girlfriend chicken noodle soup since she isn't feeling well" is a moral choice. Our ancestors developed the tendency to think in terms of morality—to instinctively weigh those decisions differently than other kinds of choices.

 

If not, then you're still wrong. The rulers, kings and conquerors that killed the most tended to be the most successful.

No king would have a kingdom if people in general did not know murder was wrong.

 

I still don't see anything that you can say is intrinsically good or bad. If nothing is intrinsically good or bad, and if I am aware of this, then who bares the discontent of killing a random stranger? If reality is as you argue, entirely subjective, then what reason do I hold to not murder for fun if the only consequence is that other people don't want me to?

People who don't "bare the discontent of killing a random stranger" lack empathy and guilt. People without a mental disorder have reasons not to murder for fun.

 

~modest

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"should I wear a long sleeve or a short sleeve shirt?" is not a moral choice. "should I make my girlfriend chicken noodle soup since she isn't feeling well" is a moral choice. Our ancestors developed the tendency to think in terms of morality—to instinctively weigh those decisions differently than other kinds of choices.

But if it's totally subjective, then how do you differentiate between what constitutes a moral choice verses your choice in favorite ice cream? How can you say that wearing a long sleeve or a short sleeve shirt is different than cooking food for someone if the only difference is the state of health? What if it's cold outside and your own state of health would be in question if you wore the short sleeve shirt and caught a cold? I'm not trying to instigate anything, I'm just really having a hard time with this and I hope you guys can see where my contention is.

 

No king would have a kingdom if people in general did not know murder was wrong.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're implying that the rulers sustain rule through fear? How do you sustain unless people have a fear for their life if they were to cross you? If anything this sounds like you're supporting my statement that all the great empires are great because of their murdering, not because people disagreed with the murdering.

 

People who don't "bare the discontent of killing a random stranger" lack empathy and guilt. People without a mental disorder have reasons not to murder for fun.

What guilt do you lack for something that isn't wrong? How do you lack empathy for taking joy in ending a life if it's only considered apathetic to those that don't take the same joy as you do? Ted Bundy had no mental disorder. He actually had a list of reasons for killing too. You might say the objectiveness in morality comes from the majority of people intuiting right and wrong, but that's not a point of objectivity to say that human intuition dictates truth. A majority of Americans intuit that evolution is bullshit. It's clearly not, there are tests and experiments you can perform to actuate proofs within the schema that is evolution to conclude that parts of it, if not all of it are TRUE. But what experiments can you run on morality to measure the specific value of good or evil within an act? There are none...

 

Also, thanks for helping tackle this with me guys, I like hearing thought-out responses to this kind of stuff. Although, so far you guys have given me no evidence to prove any sort of objectivity within morality, so I still have no reason not to murder for fun lol.

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But if it's totally subjective, then how do you differentiate between what constitutes a moral choice verses your choice in favorite ice cream? How can you say that wearing a long sleeve or a short sleeve shirt is different than cooking food for someone if the only difference is the state of health?

I can't know what you mean by 'totally subjective' or why it would be a quality of morality that prevents us from recognizing morality... or why it would be a characteristic of morality at all.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're implying that the rulers sustain rule through fear?

No. A group of people who don't generally understand the instinctive difference between changing ones shirt and murdering for fun can't function as a group. There would be no group to rule. They would be too socially handicapped to function as social animals.

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Modest

 

"No. A group of people who don't generally understand the instinctive difference between changing ones shirt and murdering for fun can't function as a group. There would be no group to rule. They would be too socially handicapped to function as social animals."

 

I disagree on that mainly because psychopathic persons are successfully social people...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy#Psychopathy_Checklist

 

This is one of the main reasons why they go undetected for quite a period of time... The group leader would be based off of who is the.most screwed up. Until someone else decides he/she is more screwed up lol

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"A group of people who don't generally understand" doesn't mean there aren't exceptions. Severe cases of psychopathy would fit my description and a gathering of them does not a successful group make.

 

Imagine a wolfpack where the wolves are incapable of feeling any solidarity with their fellow wolves. They wouldn't have formed the pack in the first place. It explains itself.

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Objective and subjective morality exists. It"s bases of existence extends from the census of the masses. The right and wrong answers are formed by the general consences of the group in which that you are in agreement with.

 

This is the conclusion I came to from reading the following link.

 

http://www.update.uu.se/~fbendz/philo/objective_morality.html

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Modest Packs of wolves only form to survive. Wolves fight for alpha position until they realize they are not tough enough to over throw the alpha... They are then put in place and tag along in order to eat... There social hierarchy is based off off of the simple fact that it is a nessecary requirment to continue there species existance. They are not large enough or strong enough to survive successfully in a singular sense. Which if you ask me makes much sense in this situation if the psycho can not kill the alpha then he tags alone to survive while waiting for the alpha to weaken to take his place...

 

I am thinking that maybe you are overwhelmed with the beauty of nature. Which I totally agree to as amazing... But you seem to overlook the ugly side of nature. Which in itself is just as beautiful maybe not graceful though lol

Edited by Chewbalka
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I can't know what you mean by 'totally subjective' or why it would be a quality of morality that prevents us from recognizing morality... or why it would be a characteristic of morality at all.

Because there's this thing called Subjective Morality that I opened the thread with... They argue everything is subjective in terms of morality, and they're right if Objective Morality can't be proven.

 

No. A group of people who don't generally understand the instinctive difference between changing ones shirt and murdering for fun can't function as a group. There would be no group to rule. They would be too socially handicapped to function as social animals.

Sure, they can't function as a group, but that doesn't make it a moral wrong. And there would still be people to rule, look at Somalia lol.

 

Just because it doesn't follow our social norms doesn't make it a social handicap. In fact, a society that didn't intuit a difference between changing their shirts and a healthy daily killing session would probably develop their own social standards, thinking that you and I were to be socially handicapped in their perspective.

 

Objective and subjective morality exists. It"s bases of existence extends from the census of the masses. The right and wrong answers are formed by the general consences of the group in which that you are in agreement with.

If it's simply by majority opinion, then there is nothing objective about it. Also, you can't have Objective Morality exist on top of Subjective Morality, it's one or the other, the theories contradict each other in the most fundamental ways.

Edited by Matthew Garon
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Matthew garon

 

Exactly what I mean. They both exist depending on your personal groups opinion. You must remember that the opinions viewed are singular views not a combination of the two. It is not possible to view morality as both its contradicting as well as pointless in the sense that no side could be taken, which is extremely important to our human ways. If you choose nither side then you have no opinion therfore you are outcasted much like not voting. View it as a two opposing religions. The existance of both is possible when there are multiple perspectives of how it should be. My question to you are you trying to decide on which view of morality should be chosen? Or are you trying to figure out which is more correct? Or are you trying to understand why it is so that certain people appear objective and others subjective? You could always just choose not to vote lol!

 

There are people with objective views and there are people with subjective views obviously subjective.... But objectively exist as well. They all exist. At one point or another we all have been objective taking nither side based on not seeing a winning or losing situation.

Edited by Chewbalka
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