Jump to content

Subjective Morality -- I'm Ok With That!


Recommended Posts

Christians assume that nonbelievers want to believe in objective moral values.  According to them, moral obligations and right and wrong necessitate God’s existence.  Here is William Lane Craig deploying what he believes to be an attack on atheism:  

 

 

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god

 

i_m_ok_with_this__n1296497202304__super.

 

I am quite happy to say that I don't believe in objective morality.  Subjective morality is good enough for me.  In fact, I prefer it to objective morality.  Subjective morality means that what I call "right" is what flows from what I subjectively value, whether or not anyone else values it.  What I call "wrong" likewise flows from my internal tastes and preferences.

 

Just because my values are subjective does not mean that I lack an opinion about what other people choose to do.  Subjective morality means I can say:  "I don't like eating babies, and I don't like anyone else eating babies either."  It means that I don't pretend that my opinions are anything more than my opinions.  But I am willing to act on my opinions, and collaborate with others who share them.  Together, we can choose a rule forbidding baby-eating and punishing those who eat babies.  Why?  Because that is what we wish to do.  By "wrong," I mean:  "I don't like it when you do it, and I'm going to use the formidable power I possess to stop you."  If you look, you will find that most humans would be happy to enforce a regime of baby-saving rather than baby-killing.

 

Christians don't like participatory rule creation based on tastes and preferences (subjective morality).  Instead, they act as if the rules that apply to a group of people should not be generated from within that group, but by a person who is not a part of the governed group (objective morality).  But I can't understand why an exogenic law should be any more worthy than an endogenic law.  Exogenic laws are just as subjective (because they are based on the tastes of the external source) but they also have a quality of being foreign, alien, dictated, and based on sheer power rather than participation.

 

What Christians call "objective morality" is neither substantiated by the evidence, nor is it desirable. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

reading this i wonder if there is objective morality? objective morality based on god?

 

l am too, happy with subjective morality, andmthats good enough for me too?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christians assume that nonbelievers want to believe in objective moral values.  According to them, moral obligations and right and wrong necessitate God’s existence.  Here is William Lane Craig deploying what he believes to be an attack on atheism:  

 

 

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god

 

i_m_ok_with_this__n1296497202304__super.

 

I am quite happy to say that I don't believe in objective morality.  Subjective morality is good enough for me.  In fact, I prefer it to objective morality.  Subjective morality means that what I call "right" is what flows from what I subjectively value, whether or not anyone else values it.  What I call "wrong" likewise flows from my internal tastes and preferences.

 

Just because my values are subjective does not mean that I lack an opinion about what other people choose to do.  Subjective morality means I can say:  "I don't like eating babies, and I don't like anyone else eating babies either."  It means that I don't pretend that my opinions are anything more than my opinions.  But I am willing to act on my opinions, and collaborate with others who share them.  Together, we can choose a rule forbidding baby-eating and punishing those who eat babies.  Why?  Because that is what we wish to do.  By "wrong," I mean:  "I don't like it when you do it, and I'm going to use the formidable power I possess to stop you."  If you look, you will find that most humans would be happy to enforce a regime of baby-saving rather than baby-killing.

 

Christians don't like participatory rule creation based on tastes and preferences (subjective morality).  Instead, they act as if the rules that apply to a group of people should not be generated from within that group, but by a person who is not a part of the governed group (objective morality).  But I can't understand why an exogenic law should be any more worthy than an endogenic law.  Exogenic laws are just as subjective (because they are based on the tastes of the external source) but they also have a quality of being foreign, alien, dictated, and based on sheer power rather than participation.

 

What Christians call "objective morality" is neither substantiated by the evidence, nor is it desirable. 

 

A lovely post, and I agree with you 100%.  Kudos!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If our current morality is what works for us, then I say go for it. If our moralities aren't working for us, them yes, we can change them. We don't have to have morality set in stone. Anybody who says that objective morality is what ought to be our morality then I ask you, how do we know that they are genuinely objective and how do we know that objective morality will be forever good for us all? Because an objective system of morality would have to be really, really good and be presicient enough to be with the times.

 

As time goes on and humanity lives longer I think that our experience has been that when we saw something really unprecedented and novel, then we had to debate it and decide on it together only to discard the morality when we really don't need it anymore because it is sufficiently "normal" to not to think it about much anymore. (e.g. murder - we take it for granted that we must not murder and most of us don't so that's the normality for most of us; the only people who are advocating murder are dictators, revengers, ultra-Malthusians, criminals and sooner or later some shock jocks) but if we think about gay marriage, yes we do need to keep the morality that we think gay people have to have the chance of marrying each other, because this sort of morality is not yet fully formed. Not everybody has this morality, but it is obvious that this anti-gay marriage morality is doing more harm than benefit. Sooner or later, the only peek of anti gay morality would be that of mere disgust. For now, it's a huge controversy unfortunately (in my opinion) really.

 

So really, morality is just a societal analysis of what benefits more and what reduces harm (as well as abolishing it) and people have to be on the same page to ensure mass morality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I completely disagree with Craig here. We don't need to have a god for objective morality to exist. It is possible to base our ideas on what is moral and what is not based on objective facts without a god giving us moral absolutes of what is moral and immoral. It is clear that rape causes harm to the victim and that there is no consent. We know that we wouldn't want to be raped because of the harm it causes, so that is what makes it immoral and objectively so because it is based on objective facts. We don't need a god to tell us these things. Subjective morality is rarely ever based on only objective facts, it is usually based on personal bias. The religious moral absolutes of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and religions like them are clearly subjective because quite a few of what they list as "sins" are not based on objective facts, only personal bias.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If there is an objective morality, it's got to be way more vague than the sorts of excessively particular rules christianity comes up with.

 

One friend of mine takes as his ethical system that every human being has first the right to life, and second, the right to self determination. Maybe there's a third, I don't remember. Everything else follows for that, which leaves a lot of details up for discussion; I'd say that it generally end up as the sort of morality described by "your right to swing your fist stops at someone else's nose". And he's a socialist, so basing his idea of human rights on freedom doesn't necessarily lead to a libertarian view of economic policy.

 

I'm currently reading a book about applying 5 Buddhist ethical principles to your life. Things like not causing killing, not lying, not clouding your mind with intoxicants, not "misusing your sexual energy", and I can't remember #5. But the book frequently points out things like "is it ok to lie to protect life?" to show that sometimes those guidelines will come into conflict, and you're going to have to do some work to figure out what the right answer is in that particular situation.

 

Anyway, the biggest issue that I have with the idea of morality coming from group consensus is that you have to be careful to say how that's different from mob rule. Like in the USA, we have laws that are supposed to be followed, that are written by elected representatives.... but a local community may have their laws struck down by the courts due to higher laws (such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion). It's important to have a community agree on rights and freedoms as the basis of their morality, instead of aggreeing on uniformity of behaviour as their basis for morality ('cause that leads to people like my parents who think that some styles of music that aren't to their taste are immoral - in a whole community of people like that, they could choose to do some awful things to someone who happens to own a few of the wrong CDs).

 

I generally assume that morality is about maximizing happiness and wellbeing for human beings (or maybe even all sentient beings). If I'm going to have an objective morality, that would be it. The slightly more subjective part is figuring out what makes humans happy and well off, and for that I can start with me and what I like. But not everyone works like me, so it's important to figure out what's actually universal for humans, and that involves paying attention to objective reality and science and stuff like that. So I think morality is an interplay of subjective goals and objective information about which actions actually get you closest to achieving those goals. To me, that's an important distinction from saying that morality is whatever the group consensus makes up for now, and it's very different from the christian claim that atheists have no external reference points for their morality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for posting this (I can't stand WLC so can't watch it). I appreciate your perspective that:

"I am quite happy to say that I don't believe in objective morality.  Subjective morality is good enough for me.  In fact, I prefer it to objective morality.  Subjective morality means that what I call "right" is what flows from what I subjectively value, whether or not anyone else values it."

I have struggled with this for a long time, but this helps!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the difficulties about talking to theists about "objective morality" is that the word "objective" can have at least three different meanings, and Christians like to slide between each of the three in their arguments.  Christians cannot realistically say that their morality is "objective" according to meanings 1 and 2.  They can only say that their morality is "objective" according to meaning 3:
 
1.  Unrelated to a person's personal likes and dislikes.
2.  Uniform in its content across time, place, and people.
3.  Not originating from the governed person, but originating from someone else.
 
Meaning 1.  Christian morality is not objective in the sense of Meaning 1 because Christians admit that their moral rules derive from the legislative fiat of a person (Yahweh) who employs his tastes and preferences:  "He stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases."  Job 23:13.  This is subjective morality because it depends on mere expression of personal preference.  It does no good to refer to "God’s own holy and perfectly good nature" because his nature can only be identified as "good" only by employing a person's opinion about "holiness" and "goodness."  Presumably the opinion that Christians think is relevant is Yahweh's own opinion about his nature.  In the end, Christian morality boils down to the opinion of their god about whether he is good.
 
Meaning 2.  Christian morality is not objective in the sense of Meaning 2 because it is obvious from the Bible that Yahweh chooses to give different laws to different people at different times and places.  The laws cannot all be harmonized.  For example, he orders Abraham to put his son to death, he orders us you not to kill your son, he orders you not to retaliate, but he orders himself to return evil with evil.  "The LORD will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you."  Joshua 23:15.  His orders are based on his nature which he, employing his personal preference, judges to be good.  After hearing this, we still have zero information about what he might order next.  
 
Meaning 3.  Christians can claim that their ideas of "objective morality" for humans come from Yahweh who issues orders to humans without asking their opinions.  Only in this sense of being exogenic can their morality be considered to be "objective" with respect to humans.  But, as I said earlier, the worthiness of this feature is not clear.  No human should expect that an opinion is better just because they did not come up with it themselves and someone else gave it to them.  Also, it is only "objective" with respect to humans.  It is still subjective with respect to Yahweh, because he is issuing the law, and he is not receiving the law.

 

tumblr_inline_mjkw9sQHdX1qz4rgp.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Autumn%20Leaves.jpg

 

From Prof. Larry Arnhart's blog:
 
"I see no reason why we can't be satisfied with a moral anthropology in which the human good is as objectively real as any trait of our evolved human species.  Someday, our human species will go extinct, and then the human good will no longer exist.  But we could still say, it was good while it lasted."
 
"Without the Platonic assumption that morality must be grounded in a moral cosmology, you will be satisfied with a Darwinian explanation of morality as grounded in a moral anthropology.  Even if morality has no eternal grounding in a cosmic God, a cosmic Nature, or a cosmic Reason, human morality can still have an evolutionary grounding in human nature, human culture, and human judgment.  And thus in contrast to the disappointed Platonists, the satisfied Darwinians are not nihilists."
 
"This might not give us categorical imperatives, but it can give us hypothetical imperatives: if you wish to live a flourishing, happy human life, then some ways of life are better suited for this than others."
 
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.