Best argument for morality being objective?

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Re: Best argument for morality being objective?

#481  Postby Mirrorless » Jun 26, 2018 7:48 pm

It makes evolutionary sense for those with a propensity to conform to the group norms and with a genetic bias (assuming there is such a thing) towards going with the norms of the tribe to succeed and breed. Arguably therefore there is a genetic predisposition for behaviour that is beneficial to the group - a sort of proto morality if you like.

As you point out this works well at a tribe level but breaks down when tribe fights tribe.

Your arrogant and dismissive tone does not make discussion with you a pleasure. I've only been here two days and I will make a point of avoiding entering into echanges with you in future.
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Re: Best argument for morality being objective?

#482  Postby scott1328 » Jun 26, 2018 8:38 pm

"it just makes sense" is not an argument for anything. It is a fallacy.

In fact, for 4.5 billion years, more or less, it didn't make sense at all for any creature to conform to tribe norms. There were no tribes or norms.
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Re: Best argument for morality being objective?

#483  Postby zoon » Jun 26, 2018 9:40 pm

Mirrorless wrote:It makes evolutionary sense for those with a propensity to conform to the group norms and with a genetic bias (assuming there is such a thing) towards going with the norms of the tribe to succeed and breed. Arguably therefore there is a genetic predisposition for behaviour that is beneficial to the group - a sort of proto morality if you like.

It does seem at least from this paper (which I've linked to earlier) that norms are not found in animals other than humans, but any functioning human society has them, it's almost certainly, as you say, a predisposition that evolved because they improve the efficiency of cooperation. Norms do tend to make intuitive sense to us, but that's probably because we have brains designed by natural selection to use them? There are many forms of cooperation in living things, but we're the only species with norms; they are probably very much more complicated than they feel. (I'm taking norms to be social expectations that guide behaviour, which are enforced fairly impersonally by the group as a whole. This is vague, but it does distinguish norms from the kinds of social expectations apes have of each other, which don't tend to be group-wide or impersonal?) Quoting (again) the paragraph in the linked article relating to norms:
Tomasello and Vaish (2013) wrote:Norms and institutions.
In many ways, the most distinctive feature of human social organization is its normative structure. Human beings not only have statistical expectations about what others will do — which all apes have — they also have normative expectations about what others should do. These vary across different cultures and form a continuum from moral norms (typically concerning harm to others) to social conventions. Thus, we all know and expect that people in our society should dress sedately for a funeral, and so anyone who wears a red shirt cannot plead ignorance and thus may be thought of as flouting our norm without regard for our group. We may reasonably respond to this flouting with disapproval, gossip, and, in egregious cases, by social ostracism— which means that all of us must be ever vigilant about our reputations as norm followers (leading to various impression-management strategies; Goffman 1959). If the glue of primate societies is social relationships, the superglue of human societies is social norms.
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Re: Best argument for morality being objective?

#484  Postby zoon » Jun 26, 2018 9:43 pm

Thommo wrote:
zoon wrote:
Thommo wrote:……
zoon wrote:My own view (which I don’t think you agree with?) is that the requisite physical feature of the animal is that observing it throws a human brain into simulation mode. When I, or any normal human, watches that animal, we see it in terms of being “like me”. I think there is subjectivity in the world, but it requires at least the possibility of a complex social brain to make that category.


Ok.

Just to make sure I’m not jumping to conclusions, would you clarify what that OK refers to? Is it, as I hope, referring to what I say in that paragraph, or is it referring to my bracketed comment that I didn’t think you agreed?


I'm just acknowledging that you've taken the time to explain what you mean, I didn't want to ignore it since you've taken the time to politely explain, but I don't have any specific comment to make.

:cheers:
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Re: Best argument for morality being objective?

#485  Postby Cito di Pense » Jun 26, 2018 10:08 pm

zoon wrote:norms are not found in animals other than humans, but any functioning human society has them


Isn't that just remarkable, zoon!? Humans are also the only species with well-enough-developed language skills to be able to write down their 'norms' so they can check whether the 'norms' are systematic enough from week to week to be called 'norms'!
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Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: Best argument for morality being objective?

#486  Postby Thommo » Jun 26, 2018 10:10 pm

And they make natty hats!
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Re: Best argument for morality being objective?

#487  Postby hackenslash » Jun 27, 2018 1:00 am

Mirrorless wrote:Perhaps the OP was thinking more in terms of 'universal' or 'common' moral codes. The notion of objectivity cannot after all easily apply to matters requiring value judgements and where interpretation is required.


This is simply wrong. The notion of objectivity can indeed easily apply to ALL matters requiring value judgements, it's simply a matter of defining a standard. It can entirely arbitrary and still entirely objective.

This is why I used to have a reputation for not having much patience with philosophy, because I had so little patience for this meretricious dreck disguised as thought.

If that is the case I would refer to our evolution as social apes for the common root of all human morality. Group behaviour molded by rewards and sanctions.


You don't need to. There's an entire field of study, ethology, that studies the behaviours of animals, and all the things we recognise in ourselves as moral or ethical behaviour, and the mechanisms, are extensively documented across the biosphere.

Then rules would have developed in order that our ancestors got along without too much friction. These rules at some point became codes of morality.


And this is where the wheels come off a little bit, possibly because the conveyance has been put in front of the equine quadruped that propelled it hence.

Rules are an attempt to construct a roadmap for morality. They're entirely the wrong way to go about it, but there you go. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The problem is, of course, that reality is stochastic, while rules are rigid. Rules are really shitty things to have as a basis for morality. As soon as you have rules, abuse is not far behind.

The map is not...
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Re: Best argument for morality being objective?

#488  Postby Cito di Pense » Jun 27, 2018 4:48 am

hackenslash wrote:You don't need to. There's an entire field of study, ethology, that studies the behaviours of animals, and all the things we recognise in ourselves as moral or ethical behaviour, and the mechanisms, are extensively documented across the biosphere.


And so it's no mystery. What's weird is when these august thinkers use ethology in order to assert that humans do something no other species does, or do whatever we do better than any other species, because there's a special sauce. Talk to zoon, who attributes these prosocial developments to 'theory of mind', in which we simulate the brains of other humans with our consciousnessness as we cogitate on out how to treat others. That makes us behave like good little girls and boys, because we empathise so much. Social snubs are the evidence that one's behavior is not properly serving the group's interests. Sure. But we call that politics, instead of morality.
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Re: Best argument for morality being objective?

#489  Postby PensivePenny » Sep 14, 2018 3:05 am

hackenslash wrote:
Mirrorless wrote:Perhaps the OP was thinking more in terms of 'universal' or 'common' moral codes. The notion of objectivity cannot after all easily apply to matters requiring value judgements and where interpretation is required.


This is simply wrong. The notion of objectivity can indeed easily apply to ALL matters requiring value judgements, it's simply a matter of defining a standard. It can entirely arbitrary and still entirely objective.


I'm the OP to whom Mirrorless refers. I've been away from the forum for a bit and noticed that the convo had continued on long after I found any value in it. Leave it to hack to inject some. I'm sorry I missed the party. As I tried to clarify (repeatedly), I had no ulterior motive, but the suspicious nature of the members here assume there's woo where none exists.

Hack, you have it exactly right here, though I confess I didn't read all your contributions to the thread. My point was flabbergastation, if you'll allow me that grammatical indulgence, at the idea that morality is in any way "objective." IIRC, I went on to say that it must necessarily be "relative" to something. Because I see so many people argue incessantly about the morality as a sense (would that be the sixth or seventh?) handed down by the magic man and evidence that he exists, AND I had never heard the slightest argument that measured up to the goat-roasters usual low standards, I assumed that I must be missing an argument somewhere. I was accounting for that "argument" to be qualitatively lacking, but better than the ones I had heard to date. Of course I got none. The argument for the morality being objective is really just that pathetic.

Okay, poor arguments (generally just logical fallacy passed off as argument) I expect and wasn't bothered much by that notion UNTIL... I watched the video I mention in the OP or a few posts later.... with Matt Dillahunty where it appeared to me that when asked by an audience member the "Without god, where would you get your morality?" question. To which I perceived him being a little flat footed and answering the question as if to suggest that morality IS objective. I don't recall where or how now, but I was proffered a response by someone here that at least allowed me a path to extend the benefit of the doubt to Matt.

I AM of a mind however to be a little more purist about the definition of "objective," only for the EXPRESS comparison to the kind of morality Christians in particular espouse. For their "sense" of morality is handed down from one God, a unitary source. Any deviation from that sense, or voice in your head, is you defying that God, choosing not to listen or the devil tempting you, being the trickster that he is. Whether you choose to hear him or not, there is only one morality and it is that one handed down from on high. Or so say the Christians I've known. So, when a believer asks you where morality will come from, consider that they just might think that it comes from this unitary source. I don't think they are looking for HOW a new code might be mutually decided upon, but rather what individual is going to replace god. I generalize. Certainly not all Christians will fit that description. Which brings me back to my purism about the word "objective." I accept the argument that a thing can be objective with respect to something else. I believe I made that same argument early in the thread. But that also means that that objectivity is relative to or subject to some standard accepted as true, which itself is not determined objectively. The term "intersubjectivity" is new to me, but as I understand it, requires a mutual agreement between individuals. I'm perfectly fine with that definition and can only see that it and objective are mutually exclusive.

Long way about, but good to see you hack. Sorry I missed you.
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