Morality questions

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Morality questions

Postby Skept » Fri Nov 25, 2011 8:17 pm

Two questions.

1. Im having a dilemma understanding morality. Seems most atheists have somekind of moral code or whatever you may wanna call it. What I have a problem understanding is, first what is morality and second how can we know that it exists? How would you define it and what would you base it on? I realize the difference between friend and foe, like and dislike, but morality seems a lot more elusive. Im not talking about rules, but morality seems also to be very theoretical. Could anyone please explain this to me?

2. What kind of justice does God practice? When God sits and waits patiently for everyone to reform under his law or his Christ, while watching how bad people are abusing and mistreating all kinds of people, both christians, atheists, followers and nonfollowers of the law alike. Not just by other people but by accidents, diseases and disasters, etc. What form of justice is it then to be able to alleviate some of the pain and disasters, and help people at least get back on track and build up their lives in a way that works... but dispense with all that and wait with the help, justice, punishment, reward, whatever until after death? What about this idea am I missing?
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It's built-in

Postby dobbie » Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:40 pm

>bySkept: What I have a problem understanding is, first what is morality and second how can we know that it exists? How would you define it and what would you base it on?<

The way I see it, morality or moral code is a built-in thing whenever two or more people interact.

As an extreme example, if two strangers encounter each other and they feel like killing each other on the spot, they simply feel like it, that’s their morality or moral code.

On the other hand, if the two strangers encounter each other and they feel like making friends, they simply feel like it, that's their morality or moral code.

And that’s how we (I) know that morality exists. It's built-in, much as it is in all animals. And, of course, with humans, it’s changeable and relative from sub-group to sub-group.
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Re: Morality questions

Postby bijane » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:20 pm

Skept wrote:1. Im having a dilemma understanding morality. Seems most atheists have somekind of moral code or whatever you may wanna call it. What I have a problem understanding is, first what is morality and second how can we know that it exists? How would you define it and what would you base it on? I realize the difference between friend and foe, like and dislike, but morality seems a lot more elusive. Im not talking about rules, but morality seems also to be very theoretical. Could anyone please explain this to me?


Just to say, anything I say in response to this is just my opinion. Answers aren't certain, but personally I think the things terms morals are just manifestations of the social instinct: humans live in society, as such, there have to be some borders and guidelines which allow the society to exist, and allow people to trust each other. Morality is simply a term for those guidelines. There have been experiments done (the Stanford Prison Experiment, for one) which show that these morals break down in what essentially amounts to a different society.

2. What kind of justice does God practice? When God sits and waits patiently for everyone to reform under his law or his Christ, while watching how bad people are abusing and mistreating all kinds of people, both christians, atheists, followers and nonfollowers of the law alike. Not just by other people but by accidents, diseases and disasters, etc. What form of justice is it then to be able to alleviate some of the pain and disasters, and help people at least get back on track and build up their lives in a way that works... but dispense with all that and wait with the help, justice, punishment, reward, whatever until after death? What about this idea am I missing?


Well, if God isn't as all-loving as the Bible says, it kind of makes sense. Not just because he doesn't seem to care about humanity, but theoretically, if God's not quite omniscient, but is eternal, he may simply not care about finite life. If you compare the length of life to the length of death, it barely exists.
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Re: Morality questions

Postby BahRayMew » Sun Nov 27, 2011 5:24 am

Skept wrote:1. Im having a dilemma understanding morality. Seems most atheists have somekind of moral code or whatever you may wanna call it. What I have a problem understanding is, first what is morality and second how can we know that it exists? How would you define it and what would you base it on? I realize the difference between friend and foe, like and dislike, but morality seems a lot more elusive. Im not talking about rules, but morality seems also to be very theoretical. Could anyone please explain this to me?

You already hit on it. It's a standard of behavior or a set of beliefs about how people ought to behave. As such it is subjective. That isn't to say that there aren't some fairly universal values because humans are more or less the same everywhere. For example, it is a sensible survival strategy to prohibit murder as part and parcel of a social contract.

That said, not everybody shares the same morality and it varies from person to person. The key to understanding morality is that some beliefs and principles tend to be shared more commonly than others based on the importance of the problem they are to address. So principles addressing things like basic survival are virtually universal.

There's also a balance of altruism and self-interest. The secret here is that some people are not adverse to "cheating" rules established as fair play by others, simply because it is not immoral to them. As in, this is a premeditated philosophy on their part. Others may feel guilty for slighting a code they have adopted from a culture (e.g. broader secular society or the local church) because fitting in matters to them.

2. What kind of justice does God practice? When God sits and waits patiently for everyone to reform under his law or his Christ, while watching how bad people are abusing and mistreating all kinds of people, both christians, atheists, followers and nonfollowers of the law alike. Not just by other people but by accidents, diseases and disasters, etc. What form of justice is it then to be able to alleviate some of the pain and disasters, and help people at least get back on track and build up their lives in a way that works... but dispense with all that and wait with the help, justice, punishment, reward, whatever until after death? What about this idea am I missing?


I'm not exactly sure what you're asking.

Are you trying to say that God of the Bible seems capricious and arbitrary for a being who is supposed to be all-knowing, good and all-powerful? That's pretty much the problem of evil as formulated by Epicurus (the problem of theodicy). His argument basically says that such a being could not exist because anybody with all three qualities wouldn't permit a world such as ours to exist.

The God character from the Bible is really Yahweh, who is not even nearly the same thing. He is a Hebrew war god. Take it with a grain of salt, but my understanding is that the monotheism is a later development stemming from the dominance of his cult. (With other gods later being made archdevils such as Beelzebub or Baphomet.) Yahweh isn't exactly supposed to be nice, since he was worshiped by men whose enemies were simply rival nations.

That said, even the monotheistic God has the problematic tendency to cast people into hell based on rather arbitrary requirements of having believed some very specific thing that there never was any evidence for.
This seemed to have bothered Dante to such a point that his first circle of Hell is Limbo, a place for "virtuous" unbelievers like Socrates who couldn't possibly have been Christian. These guys didn't really suffer much beyond some melancholy at being forever distant from God.
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Re: It's built-in

Postby Skept » Sun Nov 27, 2011 2:56 pm

dobbie wrote:The way I see it, morality or moral code is a built-in thing whenever two or more people interact.


Then are you saying that morality is inbuilt in the interaction or inbuilt into the person? If its inbuilt in the interaction, why would it appear to begin with?

Are you proposing that people have an innate sense that allows us to function in a social context? If that is the case then I would agree with you.

This is how I would see it. One could see morality in a similar way as intelligence. There is no real way to say what intelligence is by setting up some principles for intelligence that are true in all cases. It seems to be a language thing. A limitation on what can be explained in words. I mean, an intelligent creature can recognice intelligence in others, while the unintelligent creature cannot. Perhaps there is also a moral sense as well, that makes moral creatures able to recognize morality.

But if that is the case, that morality is simply something we recognize, then what is it that we recognize that we call morality? I mean what do we recognize when we say we see intelligence?

Heres my theory; when we say we recognize morality what we might see is a character trait. That a person has a sensitivity to others, recognizes the needs in others and has a desire to alleviate the suffering of others. If that can be recognized in a person, then it could be said that this person is moral. However if one can recognize that a person is not sensitive but insensitive, does not care about others needs but is selfish, and does not desire to alleviate the suffering of others but might even find pleasure in the fact that they suffer, those are signs that the moral senses are breaking down and getting distorted and confused.

Morality is not too complex, but immorality is. Immorality can be about any kind of combination of insensitivity, selfishness, sadism and so on. What appears to my mind therefore is that morality is the sign of a healthy stable mind, while immorality is an infirmity of certain weaker minds that makes them incapable of handling socially stressful situations. Perhaps anyone can have their moral senses to break down, if the circumstances are bad enough.

Just as the intellect of a person can be confused, ill informed and distorted, I think its possible that the moral sense can be too. Then we can ask under what sort of circumstances can a moral sense be kept intact, and when does it break down. Maybe some have a stronger moral sense, maybe some are born amoral or even immoral, with an abnormal moral sense to begin with.
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Re: It's built-in

Postby BahRayMew » Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:33 pm

Skept wrote:This is how I would see it. One could see morality in a similar way as intelligence. There is no real way to say what intelligence is by setting up some principles for intelligence that are true in all cases. It seems to be a language thing. A limitation on what can be explained in words. I mean, an intelligent creature can recognice intelligence in others, while the unintelligent creature cannot. Perhaps there is also a moral sense as well, that makes moral creatures able to recognize morality.

But if that is the case, that morality is simply something we recognize, then what is it that we recognize that we call morality? I mean what do we recognize when we say we see intelligence?


It is dependent on intelligence. Or more specifically, cognition. Morality is an act of personal judgement.

Heres my theory; when we say we recognize morality what we might see is a character trait. That a person has a sensitivity to others, recognizes the needs in others and has a desire to alleviate the suffering of others. If that can be recognized in a person, then it could be said that this person is moral. However if one can recognize that a person is not sensitive but insensitive, does not care about others needs but is selfish, and does not desire to alleviate the suffering of others but might even find pleasure in the fact that they suffer, those are signs that the moral senses are breaking down and getting distorted and confused.


No, that's the colloquial definition of "moral" when used as an adjective. This loosely means that a person is ascribing to societal expectations.

"Morality" as a noun is a personal judgement about what ought to be done.

Furthermore, selfish behavior is not always considered immoral under all circumstances.

Morality is not too complex, but immorality is. Immorality can be about any kind of combination of insensitivity, selfishness, sadism and so on. What appears to my mind therefore is that morality is the sign of a healthy stable mind, while immorality is an infirmity of certain weaker minds that makes them incapable of handling socially stressful situations. Perhaps anyone can have their moral senses to break down, if the circumstances are bad enough.


Realize there's a difference between amorality and immorality. Amorality is not possessing the same code as another person. Immorality is what happens when you fail to meet broader expectations (which tend to be broad universal values) or fail to meet a personal code.

Generically, people say the latter are "bad people." But this is an incompetent approximation.

Most rational people would say that sadism, insensitivity and selfishness are morally neutral in many circumstances. Particularly when there is no untoward consequences to others.

Other rational people would say selfishness can be a virtue, since excessive altruism can be a fault. I don't say this as some kind of Randian libertarian, but simply that there is a time and place for self-preservation.

And regardless of how functional compassion can be, it is also irrational. It is an emotion. Good intentions do not always equal good outcomes. Sometimes I'll take an uncaring prick over a bleeding heart simply because the former sometimes believes that one shouldn't blindly exercise power, even under the best intentions.
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Re: It's built-in

Postby bijane » Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:13 pm

BahRayMew wrote:Realize there's a difference between amorality and immorality. Amorality is not possessing the same code as another person. Immorality is what happens when you fail to meet broader expectations (which tend to be broad universal values) or fail to meet a personal code.

Just to quickly add, that's not quite true. Amorality means literally without-morality, not a different code but rather not caring about any moral code, doing things unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of them.
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Revelations 22:18 ...If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book
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Postby Skept » Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:04 pm

bijane

Yeah I read about the Stanford Prison Experiment, and I also saw its movie adaptation "Das Experiment". You may know there have been conducted a series of similar experiments. Like the Milgram experiment, the Asch conformity experiment and "exercises" done by Jane Elliot.

What these experiments seem to show is that most humans are vulnerable to group and authority pressure. It also shows that we humans are not always the individualists stoics that we would like to be.. but rather scared, confused and unsure of ourselves. The group overpowers individualistic tendencies and some or someone in the group are chosen to give it direction.
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Postby Skept » Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:36 pm

BahRayMew

Most rational people would say that sadism, insensitivity and selfishness are morally neutral in many circumstances. Particularly when there is no untoward consequences to others.


When are sadism, insensitivity and selfishness morally neutral? When I talk about selfishness I mean a character trait. A character trait that is of being unconcerned of the needs of others and only interested in what benefits oneself, that is to say being arrogant. Sadism is also a character trait, as well as insensitivity.

You can be sensitive and have a desire to alleviate the suffering of others and at the same time be rational. One doesnt exclude the other. What I dont understand is what kind of "rational" person would consider it socially proper to be insensitive, sadistic and selfish.

Self-preservation is not a virtue as such. When would it be socially proper to be only in it for self preservation? On a sinking ship I imagine. Self preservation becomes relavant in a threatening situation. But nothing moral or virtuous can come from mere self-preservation because it isnt aimed at anyone else, only at yourself. How could you be virtuous to yourself?
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Postby Skept » Mon Nov 28, 2011 2:48 am

I confess I still have problems understanding morality. Religions have this trait to them that they think they have negative knowledge. That is knowledge of what doesnt exist or things that couldnt happend and things that are all evil. That is why they have this irrational liberty to say that there is no other God but Jehova and that there has never been another man in the history of the world that ever was as kind and innocent as Jesus.

But science doesnt do that. Science doesnt prove an absence, and it doesnt prove the negative. Science doesnt prove that God doesnt exist, but that the evidence seems to show that Gods existance is unlikely and unnessecary, but it doesnt rule out the "possibility" of Gods existance.

And this is how I also view morality. Religious people have negative "knowledge" about morality, they "know" what is "evil", "damned" and "wrong". And I can only infer that to know what is "wrong" you gotta have absolute knowledge, you gotta be God or have the same knowledge as God.

Therefore isnt it more honest to say what is beneficial to a society and what is not beneficial to society. Rather than saying "this is wrong" or "this is evil" because we cannot know for sure what wrong and evil is. And since we cannot know for sure what evil or what "wrong" is, then how could we know what "good" is? If we had the knowledge of God, certainly we would know for certain what "good and evil" is and we would never disagree with one another, we would all be 100% certain and never deviate from that knowledge.

But the reality is that noone seems to be able to agree on what actually is right and wrong, good and evil, because it differs between time and place and people.

This doesnt mean Im a moral relativist, because to be a relativist one must first know what "good and evil" is and THEN say that it is also relative. That is an irrationality put upon another irrationality.

And I am also not a nihilist because nihilists think they know that there is nothing good or evil at all. Wich is another "negative knowledge".

So what am I?

I realized that it seems to be a cultural trait for us to put a label on what we are. We go around carrying these cards or tags that allows people to identify us. But what for? And I see it as a form of inner politics going on endlessly within our culture. Telling others what you are is a form of marketing. But I believe it is also dishonest marketing. As Nietzsche said about Socrates "no honest man goes around carrying his reasons in his hands like that". And I tend to agree with him. It is up to others to say what we are, its not up for ourselves because that would mean we would have absolute knowledge about ourselves, but we can't have that. Only others can look on us and be objective and see how we fit in with things and with society. Its not up to us to explain that to them.

This culture is a fine mess to my mind. It all seems to be so self evident, but when you start to scrape a little bit on whats being said it usually just falls apart. The fact is that our culture consists of a lost people who is constantly in a search for who they are. And instead of asking why this pointless search, have invented certain platitudes to escape from difficult questions. To fit in with this society one is forced more or less to take part in this irrational game of having this knowledge. Because if you appear like you dont then youre gonna be shunned or looked upon as "weird" or "of no concern to anyone" or even insane.

Religions, from their "negative knowledge", have managed to create a system of exclusivism, where some are chosen and others are damned. And it seems to me that this exclusivism still lingers on in the secular society. "Humans are better than animals" or "humans are worse than animals". "Humans know right from wrong" or "humans are nothing but immoral". But also that we have to say what we are, as in "I am a Christian", "I am an atheist", "I am a liberal", "I am a republican", etc. Why? Because we dont know eachother. We are forever like mini politicians trying to "make a difference" in a world that we hardly ever comprehend.

I realized also that it might be very possible that we simply cannot be honest. Life feeds upon life, we gotta kill to live. So we compartmentalize in our heads between eating the cow and at the same time adoring cows. Religions tried to circumvent that fact by saying that only humans matters. But we know that all life matters. So it seems that when we try to aspire to being "honest" we simply become irrational. The idea of being honest carries with it this idea of being "better" than others. But who can really say they are being honest when the most basic fact of life is that killing is nessecary to stay alive?

A hypocrite is someone who has one law for himself and another set of laws for everyone else, and so the hypocrite thinks he is special, better, more deserving somehow than others. But if you dont profess any laws whatsoever, then you couldnt be a hypocrite. In a similar vein, a person who thinks of himself as honest, or aspiring to be honest, becomes a hypocrite because he then must believe he is special and somehow "better" than all other forms of life. If he didnt think he was honest or moral, then he wouldnt be a hypocrite.

So when Christians ask "have you ever told a lie", if you by lie means that I "compartmentalize" then the answer is yes definitively, because I am part of the life on this planet and have to "lie" in order to live. Christians could argue that God never lies, but Jesus also lived on this planet according to them and he would therefore be under the same conditions as everyone else and so he could not have been an honest man either. On the other hand if one never knew the truth to begin with how could one tell a lie? Only if one thinks one knows the truth could one tell a lie. But how could humans know the truth? How could humans be honest? How could humans know what is "good and evil" if that knowledge is reserved only for God?

And besides, God has killed billions of creatures, including humans and yet he says "Thou shalt not kill". So it seems that when it comes to belief in God, not only logic but also morality breaks down.
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Postby BahRayMew » Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:18 am

Skept wrote:When are sadism, insensitivity and selfishness morally neutral? When I talk about selfishness I mean a character trait. A character trait that is of being unconcerned of the needs of others and only interested in what benefits oneself, that is to say being arrogant. Sadism is also a character trait, as well as insensitivity.

It's also an emotion.

Just because you do get angry doesn't mean you're an especially wrathful person. And just because you like money doesn't mean you're particularly greedy. The question is whether you act on those impulses with destructive consequences.

If you judge morality on the harms it causes to other people, merely feeling angry, covetous lustful or anything else is morally neutral. There's no point condemning people for their emotions. We can condemn them based on what they do about them.

Anyway, a lot of those emotions are natural survival instincts.

You can be sensitive and have a desire to alleviate the suffering of others and at the same time be rational. One doesnt exclude the other. What I dont understand is what kind of "rational" person would consider it socially proper to be insensitive, sadistic and selfish.

I get that. But the door swings both ways. It's possible to be irrational and compassionate. And as an emotion, it is irrational.

Part of the reason I think this way is that I hate the people who hold political ideologies. And honestly, it's because they don't want to know the truth about what works and just act on blind impulses.

Which is why they don't deserve to exercise power. You don't get a free pass just because you happen to be feeling compassionate.

Another annoying example is selective compassion, via nepotism or chauvinism. This is basically an excuse to claim some generic virtue when, really, it's just back-handed self aggrandizement.

Self-preservation is not a virtue as such. When would it be socially proper to be only in it for self preservation? On a sinking ship I imagine. Self preservation becomes relavant in a threatening situation. But nothing moral or virtuous can come from mere self-preservation because it isnt aimed at anyone else, only at yourself. How could you be virtuous to yourself?

Why is it virtuous because it's only aimed at the benefit of other people? The previous point is that you can do things with the best of intentions and still suck at it, or worse, make things worse. You get an "A" for effort but it doesn't show any competency that we would praise as exceedingly virtuous.

And the reality is that society as a whole will put you on suicide watch if they think you need to be there.

The emphasis on personal freedoms as a virtue is precisely because may people think self-interest has a place.
Last edited by BahRayMew on Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:57 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby BahRayMew » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:08 am

Skept wrote:I confess I still have problems understanding morality. Religions have this trait to them that they think they have negative knowledge. That is knowledge of what doesnt exist or things that couldnt happend and things that are all evil. That is why they have this irrational liberty to say that there is no other God but Jehova and that there has never been another man in the history of the world that ever was as kind and innocent as Jesus.

But science doesnt do that. Science doesnt prove an absence, and it doesnt prove the negative. Science doesnt prove that God doesnt exist, but that the evidence seems to show that Gods existance is unlikely and unnessecary, but it doesnt rule out the "possibility" of Gods existance.

And this is how I also view morality. Religious people have negative "knowledge" about morality, they "know" what is "evil", "damned" and "wrong". And I can only infer that to know what is "wrong" you gotta have absolute knowledge, you gotta be God or have the same knowledge as God.

Therefore isnt it more honest to say what is beneficial to a society and what is not beneficial to society. Rather than saying "this is wrong" or "this is evil" because we cannot know for sure what wrong and evil is. And since we cannot know for sure what evil or what "wrong" is, then how could we know what "good" is? If we had the knowledge of God, certainly we would know for certain what "good and evil" is and we would never disagree with one another, we would all be 100% certain and never deviate from that knowledge.

But the reality is that noone seems to be able to agree on what actually is right and wrong, good and evil, because it differs between time and place and people.

This doesnt mean Im a moral relativist, because to be a relativist one must first know what "good and evil" is and THEN say that it is also relative. That is an irrationality put upon another irrationality.

And I am also not a nihilist because nihilists think they know that there is nothing good or evil at all. Wich is another "negative knowledge".

So what am I?

I realized that it seems to be a cultural trait for us to put a label on what we are. We go around carrying these cards or tags that allows people to identify us. But what for? And I see it as a form of inner politics going on endlessly within our culture. Telling others what you are is a form of marketing. But I believe it is also dishonest marketing. As Nietzsche said about Socrates "no honest man goes around carrying his reasons in his hands like that". And I tend to agree with him. It is up to others to say what we are, its not up for ourselves because that would mean we would have absolute knowledge about ourselves, but we can't have that. Only others can look on us and be objective and see how we fit in with things and with society. Its not up to us to explain that to them.

This culture is a fine mess to my mind. It all seems to be so self evident, but when you start to scrape a little bit on whats being said it usually just falls apart. The fact is that our culture consists of a lost people who is constantly in a search for who they are. And instead of asking why this pointless search, have invented certain platitudes to escape from difficult questions. To fit in with this society one is forced more or less to take part in this irrational game of having this knowledge. Because if you appear like you dont then youre gonna be shunned or looked upon as "weird" or "of no concern to anyone" or even insane.

Religions, from their "negative knowledge", have managed to create a system of exclusivism, where some are chosen and others are damned. And it seems to me that this exclusivism still lingers on in the secular society. "Humans are better than animals" or "humans are worse than animals". "Humans know right from wrong" or "humans are nothing but immoral". But also that we have to say what we are, as in "I am a Christian", "I am an atheist", "I am a liberal", "I am a republican", etc. Why? Because we dont know eachother. We are forever like mini politicians trying to "make a difference" in a world that we hardly ever comprehend.

I realized also that it might be very possible that we simply cannot be honest. Life feeds upon life, we gotta kill to live. So we compartmentalize in our heads between eating the cow and at the same time adoring cows. Religions tried to circumvent that fact by saying that only humans matters. But we know that all life matters. So it seems that when we try to aspire to being "honest" we simply become irrational. The idea of being honest carries with it this idea of being "better" than others. But who can really say they are being honest when the most basic fact of life is that killing is nessecary to stay alive?

A hypocrite is someone who has one law for himself and another set of laws for everyone else, and so the hypocrite thinks he is special, better, more deserving somehow than others. But if you dont profess any laws whatsoever, then you couldnt be a hypocrite. In a similar vein, a person who thinks of himself as honest, or aspiring to be honest, becomes a hypocrite because he then must believe he is special and somehow "better" than all other forms of life. If he didnt think he was honest or moral, then he wouldnt be a hypocrite.

So when Christians ask "have you ever told a lie", if you by lie means that I "compartmentalize" then the answer is yes definitively, because I am part of the life on this planet and have to "lie" in order to live. Christians could argue that God never lies, but Jesus also lived on this planet according to them and he would therefore be under the same conditions as everyone else and so he could not have been an honest man either. On the other hand if one never knew the truth to begin with how could one tell a lie? Only if one thinks one knows the truth could one tell a lie. But how could humans know the truth? How could humans be honest? How could humans know what is "good and evil" if that knowledge is reserved only for God?

And besides, God has killed billions of creatures, including humans and yet he says "Thou shalt not kill". So it seems that when it comes to belief in God, not only logic but also morality breaks down.


TL;DR
Try to get to a point instead of shooting a stream of consciousness at us. It doesn't help that a lot of your post feels emotionally charged and incoherent.
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Re: It's built-in

Postby BahRayMew » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:19 am

bijane wrote:
BahRayMew wrote:Realize there's a difference between amorality and immorality. Amorality is not possessing the same code as another person. Immorality is what happens when you fail to meet broader expectations (which tend to be broad universal values) or fail to meet a personal code.

Just to quickly add, that's not quite true. Amorality means literally without-morality, not a different code but rather not caring about any moral code, doing things unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of them.

Yeah, I guess that's technically correct if you're referring to a hurricane.

I don't really buy it when you apply the word to people.

The especially confusing part comes when it is amoral to willfully discard of popularly-held codes. As if this isn't principled behavior at all.
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Postby Skept » Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:51 pm

I think that the term "morality" is problematic for many reasons. It seems to be able to transcend all parts of speech. It can be a noun, a verb, an interjection, an adverb, a substantive. It can include everything and at the same time exklude anything. It can be elitistic, discriminating, prejudgemental and an equivocation. People who say they have morality can say about others they are "immoral" or "amoral". Its the same kind of situation that theists create with their claim to belong to the one true God, everyone who disagrees are "infidels", "heathens", "pagans", "of Satan", "atheists", etc. With a word like morality it automatically divides and discriminates between those who are "moral" and those who are "immoral", between those who think they are "superior" and those who are said to be "inferior".

What also happends is that those who form a society around a concept like morality will inevitable end up in an inner conflict between who is inferior and who is superior. It can never be any rest or peace among such people because they will not agree on anything. "Im moral, youre immoral"; "I am right, youre wrong"; "we are moral, they are immoral"; "we are right, they are wrong".

If we compare with a concept like "behavioural codes", then we dont have the same problem. Every society has behavioural codes... there is no doubt about it. And there is no discriminatory foundation in the term "behavioural codes". We can have behavioural codes in this society that we arent even aware of exists. But we act according to them simply because we were raised in this culture and see no reason to question them. And just because we have these codes doesnt mean that other societies that have different codes of behaviour are "second rate" or a lesser breed of people. There is no bases for a conflict from having different behavioural codes if we live in different societies. Its just "to each their own".

There would however be a problem if one person thinks he can have his own behavioural codes within a society because its not at all certain others would agree that it is proper. But they dont have to accuse that person and say "you are immoral for behaving like that", they just have to say "we don't behave like that here". And if the person protests and say "well I behave like that" the answer would just be "either you behave like we do or you will have to leave".

PS. I dont mean to say tho that it only has to be such a take it or leave it proposition. The problem is that this culture is so twisted and conflicted that its like people can't believe any society could find peaceful ways to achieve peace. We think that without law and punishment people would run wild and there would be rape and pillaging on the streets immediately. This culture has no faith in humans at all, we are all a bunch of "evil", wicked sinners. But I disagree with that, humans are informed in their decisions by what they believe. If they believe in ideas that are inherently discriminatory and conflicting, they will behave accordingly. Therefore I dont see it as a take it or leave it proposition, I think that a society that uses a term like "custom" rather than morality, would act differently and people who didnt follow the custom would be included within the custom in one way or another. We can talk with such people, try to understand what they are about, and find ways to include them again. But if all such attempts fails then it would lead to stay and behave, or leave.
Skept
 
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