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  1. #1
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Default Universal and objective morality?

    Do you believe there is a universal and objective morality? If so what is its basis? From what does it arise? Is your belief based upon philosophy or spirituality/religion? If you believe in amorality, moral relativism etc. do you live in accordance with your belief? What difference does it make?

    I was discussing this with someone the other night, they were suggesting that there is a universal morality, opposing post-modernism or relativism, however they believed that this morality is a consequence of humanity's evolved consciousness and evolved with humanity, morality is Godless.

    They had some circular logic about the impossibility of a morality being decided or dictated (atheists project all their fears or ambivalence about authority upon deities) by God as it would render God a moral monster, inconsistent with their own moral precepts as they permit evil acts to happen. To me that is the old chestnutt about the problem of evil. I dont see it as either proof of the none existence of God or proof of morality being necessarily Godless. Simply because if free will is a moral good then the rest must follow without God being monsterous or anything like that.

    I see morality as eminating from God, not an anthropomorphised God who is a king/dictator but the author of cosmic order. That's as distinct from the cosmic order itself too but that is perhaps less revelent to this topic. The ordered cosmos is reflected at all levels, including the individual human psyche and obedience to morality is a recipe for health, amorality or immorality is a recipe for disorder and illness.

    That is simple enough to deduce, it is consequentialism. Even were certain deeds, killing for instance, can be justified logically or rationalised, they will still carry consequences for those performing them. Trauma is no real respector of motives, the impact can be handled but you cant ignore or deny it.

    It is possible to hold this to be true without being a theist or if you are a kind of post-theist humanist like Erich Fromm, it means simply that God is synomynous with the development of consciousness, Fromm thought that what man believed in as God was in reality a universal humanism underlying or underpinning all religion and culture.

    I think that the universality of the morality I describe does underlie or underpin all religion and culture like that but with religion and culture as the filters, often distorting it but remaining in some way always linked to its origin.

    These filters reflect diverse contexts and that diversity is what gives rise to mistaken conclusions about relativism or amorality or subjectivism.

  2. #2
    sswwwaagggg gmanyo's Avatar
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    No objective morality under Naturalism. But really, bump, because I want to see this thread continue but I'm too lazy to answer myself.
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    I'm starting to see you and your avatar as a cloud of odor that eminates from trashy threads.

  3. #3
    ... Tyrinth's Avatar
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    As I've said before, I don't think there is a such thing as truly objective or universal morality.

    However, I would like to hear some other people's opinions on the matter as well.
    ...

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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrinth View Post
    As I've said before, I don't think there is a such thing as truly objective or universal morality.

    However, I would like to hear some other people's opinions on the matter as well.
    Why so? On the truly fundamental things there is surely consensus and conscience surely operates the same way regardless of culture or context, infact does it not take quite a bit of culture and context to counter it?

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    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    I do believe in universal objective morality providing the following:

    1. Physics is true
    B. Our feelings, thoughts, and emotions arise from physical processes

    I think it follows quite naturally from this. The difference is that this kind of ETHICS tells you that certain events, physical processes, or types of relationships are correlated with certain kinds of outcomes. This does not tell you the -moral value- per se of those relationships. It can tell you the "average" morality however, but if you think that is a universal you're kidding yourself.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  6. #6
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    I don't think there is. I think there are certain principles that are mostly universal, really basic, 10 Commandment type things:

    -Killing is wrong
    -Stealing is wrong
    -Rape is wrong
    -Lying is wrong
    -maybe a few others

    BUT I think there is a lot of grey area, and the amount of grey area for these fairly universal tenants differs by culture and by individual. For example, for myself, I would say that rape is wrong, no questions asked. Killing is wrong in any circumstance except self-defense. Stealing is wrong in general, but it can be understood and excused in desperate circumstances (the ol' stealing a loaf of bread thing). Lying... yeah, it's wrong and people should generally be truthful, but I think it's more wrong to tell someone something true and hurtful rather than tell a white lie, as long as you're not harming anyone by telling the lie. (For example: telling your mother-in-law you like the gift she got you, when really you hate it.)

    But these are my own personal interpretations. In some cultures, lying is much more accepted, even required, for politeness reasons. In some cultures, killing is okay for drastic reasons (death penalty, etc).
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  7. #7
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    I don't believe in a universal or objective morality. I also do not believe in moral relativism.

    For me, a universal or objective form of morality must be self-evident and easily applied. By self-evident, I mean obvious to everyone, requiring no rationalization for itself since it's innately comprehensible. The way I see the world, there is no room for one universal morality; or if there is one, it sure as hell isn't self-evident, at least not to me. Some would argue killing is wrong. I disagree. Killing is how we live. We've created an arbitrary distinction between human life and non-human life and have chosen to protect human life moreso than other life. If the point of not killing is because life is precious, then one should not kill under any circumstance.

    I could continue along such a tangent for a long time, but I feel that it's easy to get needlessly caught on details. One thing which can be extrapolated from all of this is that concepts of morality are usually human-centric. We don't think about justice for things like plants and insects. Plants kill eachother in the competition for resources. Why do they go unpunished from an objective, universal morality? They shouldn't. The only kind of universal, coherent, and objective morality I can think of that best-fits the world as I see it is social Darwinism in that "might is right." The strong dictate the rules; the weak follow them. Of course, some would argue that this isn't a moral code; I agree to some extent, and that is why I have chosen nihilism, or amorality, to describe how I feel about the matter.

    As for moral relativism, I think it's garbage because if two systems of ethics clash, there is no way to reconcile the differences among the two.
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  8. #8
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    Morality has a genetic and cultural basis. The genetic part gives us things like instinctual protection of family and tribe, while culture gives you things like whether cheating is acceptable (collectivist versus individualistic societies) and social rules like acceptable clothing, customs, and beliefs. From what I can tell, culturally based morality is largely arbitrary. Things I believe to be unassailably right or wrong might easily be the opposite had I been born in a different time or place, with me being in the 'right' in both.

    As for genetic morality, I would argue that that is no morality at all, but simply survival instinct. You could argue that things that cause genetic harm are universally morally wrong. For instance, incest tends to produce genetically inferior offspring. However, this would greatly limit the number of 'wrong' things. Genetics is almost as arbitrary as culture, and with different genetic cues (say, those in horses or lions), we might find things like infanticide to be not just socially acceptable, but a moral imperative.

    I am personally much more comfortable with moral relativism than universality. In a relativistic system, I am permitted my own system of morality rather than that dictated by a third party, and can argue for cultural changes that benefit everyone. If morality was universal and unchanging, then we might be stuck with the system from a hundred years ago, or a thousand, with no means to make things better.

  9. #9
    ... Tyrinth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquarelle View Post
    -Killing is wrong
    -Stealing is wrong
    -Rape is wrong
    -Lying is wrong

    Out of these four, I only have a major problem with two. Hence why I think that morality is subjective. Maybe I'm just messed up though.
    ...

  10. #10
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    I think the best kind of or most universal form of morality is the one that allows for the most diversity of life. For beings to live lives of happiness & dignity (not just pleasure) and not be reduced to basic survivalist me versus you type thinking/action. However, I do not think that entities that do that are evil. I think they are just a part of the universe that is worthwhile and adds value to the complexity of the universe and it is our job when we encounter such forms of existence to extend compassion and to stretch and grow OURSELVES so we can create a new dynamic that incorporates these styles of existence in a healthy way.

    I do not agree with evolutionary darwinism, because it just perpetuates a world of pain and sorrow that progressively makes life into a living hell. I do not believe in absolutist moralities of "shoulds" and "should nots" because they do the same thing by ignoring the actual reality we have now and the steps we could take to make things better. Instead choosing to blame and punish people/creatures/entities that take extreme measures to defend themselves it merely causes a cleavage of soul in the world until one side dominates the other or someone wakes up and integrates the legitimacy of each side into their viewpoint.

    Edit:

    Just had to ammend my original post to convey what I think most of us feel. We want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and work toward the common good, but when we are abused naturally we will fight back.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

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