Alright so for anyone tuning in who made it this far let me sum up where we are at now. My view of morality assumes that the universe does exist. I have to admit it crazy I know. While Disillusioned's view for subjective morality argues and yes requires that 1. That the physical universe might not exist, 2. That we can't really objectively know anything about anything. Yes quite a convincing argument we have here ladies and gentelemen. And you wonder why I am not too keen. Be honest now who here based on these ideas so far thinks which argument is more reasonable?
He has also asserted 3. That the Laws of the universe don't actually exist. And 4. That we don't really know when we are feeling pain and pleasure. Husband: “Honey when you made me cum it felt amazing!” Wife: “But baby pleasure is just a subjective feeling so sorry but you didn't really feel anything objective.” Friend 1: “Dude why did you hit me in the nuts man that freaking hurt!” Friend 2: “Bruh don't you know that pain is a subjective feeling? I mean get it together bro!” Yes forgive me if I am slightly frustrated. There are 3 other problematic assertions he has made that are worth getting into but these seem to be the most important. If we exhaust these or he brings them back up I will post the responses I have written about them.
Since I just addressed point 4 let's now go further and address the rest of these points one by one shall we? But Before we go further though let's examine Disillusioned's claim that I am unfairly criticizing his definition of morality becase he claims to have clearly and consistently laid it out and then we will segue into point two. Well let's examine this claim shall we? WARNING: I an going to quote Disillusioned extensively to avoid being accused of attacking a straw man as he did earlier. I was going to attempt to have each quote cited with the page number, comment number, and paragraph number. I unfortunately have other stuff to do today so I will do the rest on further comments if Disillusioned disputes the authenticity of any quotes in particular. I also apologize if any grammatical and spelling errors got through. I did my best.
Let's start with point 2. Disillusioned will probably take issue with my formulation of his position. Because as he has stated in refernce to the term objective: “These definitions were clearly laid out before you joined the discussion. I have taken pains to be consistent in my use of these terms. Hence I don’t understand how you can feel justified in claiming that I am not being forthright with my use of these definitions.”
Now I will switch to the 2nd persom in order to address disillusioned directly.
So let's look at some of the definitions you have posted so far and as we will see they are not consistent.
Take note specifically how you use the term principles: “...objective moral principles are moral principles which are real and binding irrespective of whether or not anyone believes in them. In other words, an objective moral law must be a kind of found law as opposed to a made law (pg. 1, comment 1, paragraph 2.)”
And here: “Objective Morality is a set of principles concerning "right" and "wrong" which are real and binding irrespective of human opinion or even knowledge of them. Objective moral principles, if they exist, would still exist even if no one agreed with them (pg. 1, comment 10, paragraph 8.)”
So far so good but then you start to go off script: “On the contrary, I have contended explicitly that many things are objectively true. But they can only be objectively true within a particular system. It is the axioms of the system which cannot be shown to be objectively true. Again, I must ask that you dispute what I am actually saying (pg. 2, comment 13 , paragraph 15.)”
You continue in this vein when you say this about the term objective about the term principles“Again, I agree that statements can be objectively true. I don't agree that principles can be objectively true. Recall that I'm defining principles as fundamental truths, the starting points for reasoning about a topic. My contention is, essentially, that principles are just axioms by another name, and axioms are not objectively true (pg. 1, comment 22, paragraph 9.)”
So you initially set up an implication within your first 2 definitions of objective moral principles as something can be objectively true rgardless of whether or not anyone acknowledges it as such but then later state that priciples are just axioms and that by definition axioms are not objectively true.
So if we were to put these statements togther it would read: “Objective moral principles are moral principles which are just axioms by another name, and axioms are not objectively true concerning "right" and "wrong" but they are real and binding irrespective of of human opinion, knowledge of them, or whether or not anyone believes in them. In other words, an objective moral law must be a kind of found law but an objective moral law is not a found law because a found law also is based on axioms as opposed to a made law which is also based on axioms.”
Yes this is arguing in bad faith. You are contradicting what you will allow to be considered an objective moral priciple by subtly changing your definitions of objective morality. You contradict your own definitions.
But I am not unreasonable I will chalk this up to an honest mistake but please don't get anry at me for your mistakes.
Principles can be objectively true or not objectively true but they aren't by their very nature incapable of being objectively true. At most we are simply incapable of KNOWING that they are or are not objectively true. That doesn't mean we are completely in the dark. Knowing that some things work and some things don't is evidence of objectivity it just isn't complete knowledge of objectivity.
You also like to state that you aren't saying that things can't be objectively true within a logical system but only that isn't true outside of it with statements like: “Again, I do not contend that there are no sets of moral principles under which some actions may be said to be objectively right and objectively wrong. I also do not contend that it is not the case the some sets of moral principles seem to work more effectively than others. What I contend is that we have no reason to think that there is, or even that there should be, a set of moral principles which is in itself objectively correct.”
“Again, I agree that statements can be objectively true. I don't agree that principles can be objectively true. Recall that I'm defining principles as fundamental truths, the starting points for reasoning about a topic.”
This sounds fine but the problem is that you have bent that argument when neccesary to defend against criticism. You haven't just given that impression there is no objective truth at times you have actually made that argument. Look at the following statements.
You stated “I don’t hold that reality does not exist. I hold that it does exist. But my position that it does exist is itself an axiom. It cannot be proven. And even if it could, then the proof itself would necessarily ultimately reduce to a particular set of axioms!”
“This matters because you seem to be trying to establish here that morality can be based on the actual laws of the universe, and not on axioms. But we don't know that the universe has actual laws, and if they do exist, we don't know what they are. All that we have are models, which are built on axioms.”
“My contention is, essentially, that principles are just axioms by another name, and axioms are not objectively true. You seem to be taking the opposite view, namely that principles can beobjectively true, and in particular, that there are moral principles which are objectively true. Would you mind explaining to me why you think that this is the case?”
“Where does this leave us with respect to science? Well, statements can be objectively true under a particular scientific model. But the model itself is not objectively correct. What about morality? Perhaps we can build a moral system, and in that system there can be statements which are objectively true. But recall that my contention regards objective moral principles, the starting point for our moral system. I contend that these principles are not objectively correct. They are just axioms, like any other, and, as such, they are ultimately arbitrary.”
Therefore you are arguing point 2. That we cannot objectively know anything about anything. We can therfore see that you have made that argument whether you intended to or not. You can change that is you wish but I will address this argument by appealing to what works in the physical world a little later in this post.
“When you say that we're discussing whether something can be objectively good according to our concept of "good", I'm not sure that I agree with you. The question of objective morality is whether or not things can be good specifically apart from our concept of "good". That is what it means for something to be really right irrespective of what anybody thinks (ie, independent of our concept of "good").”
I agree. This is why I ground my view of objective morality within the reality of the physical universe. You have rejected this as axiomatic and therefore not objective and I disagree. My argument has been: “That objective morality is a contextual and emergent phenomenon (much like consciousness btw) that is derived from the same laws of the universe that caused the physical universe to come into being the way it is today because we are also a physical phenomenon; that is why it is objective. Morality should be approached within that framework.”
Side note: For clarification I am using the term laws of the universe interchangeably with the physical reality of the universe. Therefore to make you happy I will just say that instead of laws of the universe that way it stops being this thing with you. If “law “is too loaded of a term for your preferences I will just start referring to the “nature” of the universe ok? You know the parts of physics and evolution that got us here? This will be important when you get to point 3.
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM HERE IS THAT YOU HAVE DEFINED THE FEATURES OF THE REALITY OF THE UNIVERSE AS AXIOMATIC AND THERFORE SUBJECTIVE AND UNJUSTIFIED. THIS MEANS THAT YOU ACTUALLY ARE ARGUING IN POINT 2 THAT EVEN THINGS WITHIN A LOGICAL SYSTEM CANNOT BE OBJECTIVELY TRUE BECAUSE ALL OF REALITY ITSELF IS SUBJECTIVE WHEN REALITY IS THE ONLY PROPERLY BASIC BELIEF THAT WE CAN USE TO GROUND ANYTHING AND CALL IT OBJECTIVE.
I think you don't understand the definition of the word axiom. An axiom is just something that is assumed without absolute positive independant proof that it is true. An axiom isn't something that is ACTUALLY untrue by definition. As an example a chicken either exists or does not exist. If I see a chicken I can assume that it exists even if I could be dreaming for example. But now let's say I have no working physical senses and am in a house but a chicken is out in the backyard. I have no reason to believe that there is a chicken in my back yard but there is one nonetheless.
What's the point? The point is that my axiomatic assumptions about the chicken have no causal connection about whether or not the chicken ACTUALLY exists.
Therefore something could be an axiom and still objectively exist. We are justified in having this assumption because what we call reality works in certain ways that are consistent and not inconsistent with that assumption without any reason to believe that reality is more complicated then that. I can't believe I have to explain first principles in philosophy but as we will see in your next arguments that you decided to go there.
So let's segue with this into disputing point 1. That the physical universe might not exist. This is not a successful argument for disputing objective morality.
This leads me to contest your notion that grounding objective morality in the reality of the universe is not objective because we can't “know” that the universe exists.
If someone brings up solipsism as if that somehow bolsters their point it is safe to say that my argument is in pretty good shape! For those of you who don't know. Solipsism is a belief that I can only know that I exist but that I can't know that the physical world isn't an illusion. We could be in the matrix for example.
What is important to understand about the argument is that this is an objection that is a double-edged sword because it applies to the argument of the person who brings it up as well as to the person that it is used againST. I could just as easily state that objective morality can exist because it could exist in a different reality which is actually real and that the one that we are in is just an illusion where it looks like it can't exist. It's a bad argument. Good worldview's all make the assumption that the natural world exists even if it can't be proved. We are totally justified in doing so because it works. These features still are objective even if the world actually exists or if we are a brain in a vat. This is not in anyway the sign of a bad argument.
If you just want to argue solipsism then you should make that the title of your OP. I hope that isn't your main argument.
This is the kind of argument is dangerous in that allows all other sorts of woo-woo to say it is just as legitimate as science because we can't really know anything about the universe without some axiomatic assumptions that can't be justified such as new thought and whatever the heck Deepak Chopra believes. Because if everything is subjective then everything has an equal claim on truth. Your problem not mine.
You still haven't answerd that if reality doesn't exist independently of axioms then are you prepared to say that reality didn't exist until humanity came up with axioms? Again this is still an incredibly important point. Are you prepared to make that assertion? There is no getting around it my friend.
I can denounce this line of thinking because I say that what is objectively true cannot be removed from what works in physical reality. But you take issue with this as well so let's address that in the context of disputing point 3. That the laws of the universe don't actually exist. (Or the reality of the features of the physical universe don't actually exist.)
You state: “We can get science back again because it seems to work. We can continue to reason logically because doing so gets us positive results. We can behave morally because doing so seems to improve our quality of life. But in all of this we should not lose sight of the fact that we actually don’t know what is going on, or if anything at all is going on. All we know is what seems to work. But I would contend that there is a world of difference between “seems to work” and “is objectively correct”, particularly when we are speaking of moral principles.”
I then asked how can you say that something is objectively true idndependant of what works. You responded below. Before I quote the response I really hope people rightfully are skeptical of your argument below about how something can apparently be objectively true and not work in physical reality so here it is:
“As it turns out, I can demonstrate that something can be objectively true and not work. Again, something can be objectively true in a particular system of logic. Here is an example:
Axiom 1: All trees are fish
Axiom 2: All fish taste like chocolate
If we allow for the use of standard rules of deduction, it follows that, within this system, the statement “all trees taste like chocolate” is objectively true. But this does not match what we observe in nature, so it is not useful. So long as axioms are arbitrary, it will necessarily be the case that we can obtain useless, objectively true statements. All we need to do is start with useless axioms.”
This is so bad because axioms are not arbitrary they are based on what works in physical reality which is why their deductive conclusions work in physical reality. Demostrating a logical syllogism is not proving that something is objectively real and true because you have not justified the premises. Philosophy 101. You have failed to show how something that is objectively true can not work in reality just as your conclusion in the argument that you presented won't work in reality. Therefore you have failed to show that what works has no relation to objective reality and this is why I find your skepticism to be quite problematic to say the least.
The axioms of a system are not arbitrary there is a reason why we choose them and not an axiom at random. There is a reason why we don't subscribe to the axiom “the moon is made out of cheese.” On your logic we cannot truly say that this axiom is objectively false becasue you assume axioms for your definition of cheese when in fact the moon could really be cheese instead of what we call cheese or more importantly that these other axioms cannot not even justify that what we call cheese and the moon are either cheese or not. Yes I think this is sophistry.
I define morality as an objective feature of the physical reality of the universe. I argued that the same features of the universe would still be in place even if humans didn't, so that in theory objective morality would still be real because it still comes from those features. All that is required is that it is POSSIBLE for those features to allow humans to exist.
You respond by stating that you don't like the fact that I suppose hypothetically that our universe could exist without humans and still be out universe when you say “This is not coherent. We, in our universe are humans. There is no way that we, in our universe, could not have humans.”
However if you remember you are the one who did that first which is the very reason why I made this counter-argument. You stated: “But it seems to me that moral principles require the existence of conscious beings. This is because I think that moral principles concern the behaviour of conscious beings. For example, suppose that the statement "it is wrong to cause suffering" is held to be an objective moral principle. In this case it must be true even if nobody exists who can cause suffering, or who is capable of suffering. In this scenario the statement is meaningless, because suffering does not exist, and cannot exist. If it is meaningless, it can't be true. So it cannot be objectively true (pg. 1, comment 22, paragraph 2.)”
Well you just stated that our universe cannot exist without the existence of human beings. So logically if my hypothetical isn't fair then neither is yours so your argument fails because of this. In fact if human beings are in fact a neccesary part of this universe then guess what morality is? You guessed it Objective!
I of course have no problem saying that your argument might contain meaningful statements in some sort of way in that it conveys how logical deduction works but that's about it. It says nothing anout the nature of reality other than that trees, fish, and chocolate are concepts with exist and which have no strong relation to one another.
But remember you have also argued that something cannot be objectively true and meaningless while simultaneously maintaining something can be objectively true and not work LOL! Pardon me but what brain gymnastics did you have to go through for that? I will quote you again to prove this.
“If it is meaningless, it can't be true. So it cannot be objectively true.” and “As it turns out, I can demonstrate that something can be objectively true and not work.”
I repeat this quote because you stated: “Also, nowhere have I contended that things which are not objective are meaningless. Again, you dispute points that I have not made. If you would accuse me of arguing in bad faith, then it would behoove you to refrain from attacking straw men.” You have been either been caught in a lie or forgot you stated this. Either way next time take a look at yourself before claiming that I am attacking strawmen.
I took quite a bit of time to give a clear response because you asked me too. So I would ask that you very carefully reassess your points up to this point before responding back because you asked me to do the same. I hope I have shown that you definitely need to do so at this point. I am not some unthinking religious person who has not thought these things through and I don't appreciate being talked down to as such. I just am very familiar with bad argument and I am unfortunately seeing a great deal of it your comments sadly. I have actually positively contended quite a bit for objective morality on this thread so far. Wanna take a step back in good faith and maybe reconsider some things?