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douyang



Joined: 18 Feb 2006
Posts: 128

PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a real problem with Animae saying that the death penalty can be justified and virtuous simply because it is cheaper than keeping someone is prison or rehabilitating them. I understand why he would take such a position... as well as the logical consequences of his type of thinking, the conclusion that we should execute pretty much all criminals or even anyone else who might be an unwanted burden on society simply because it is cheaper and therefore in our own best interest to do so, regardless of the effects on the people it hurts. He is basically a self-admitted amoral bastard who believes we should all act in accordance with our self-interest first and foremost in the spirit of Niccolo Machiavelli and stop acting like there is anything that resembles morality and ethics. See the following quote in the Philosophy: Life thread:

Animae wrote:

douyang wrote:

You seem to have missed my point. How can ethics be "pragmatic" or "useful", unless they promote morality? How is this possible if ethics are false and there is no morality they would be needed to support? Unless of course, you never really cared about ethics in the first place so much as inventing a code of rules or values that are designed to serve you and your agenda regardless of their truthfulness or morality.


You are exactly right on that point, I don’t care the slightest what is right and wrong.
But you know you already have the solution to the problem right in front of you, solved and ready for application.
Self interest and the introduction of “values” solve all problems in a conceivable way. So what are these values then? If my original intention was to avoid dogmas and the frail “truth” what can I create without possibly being dogmatic? With a bit of creativity I found it quite easy and satisfying to find a solution to yet another problem. What better way is there to avoid something fake that to use something that already exist, moreover it is a dynamic element which takes into consideration the subjective nature of our experiences. These values are our own values!
As they are subjective they are different for every person, which makes my ideas of ethics dynamic instead of universal.
This is one of the major differences, which renders it less useful as it requires a certain degree of knowledge about who you are “putting in the equation”. Unfortunately it makes it useless to use on a massive scale and as I see it useful only for personal application. Fortunately as we all are humans we have similar values thus making it possible to use on just about anybody.
I think this idea is shaping up pretty well, as I created this idea along the course of this thread I consider it to still be in an early stage any constructive criticism is welcome.
See now with what I mean with using our creativity to make something useful?
Anyway no matter what happens with this idea this was a great opportunity to stimulate my creative thinking.
If we use this concept and apply it to the original “problem” in this thread, the conclusion would be that the right way to treat any other entity should be in accordance to its nature.


What is this but a confession that he does not believe in morality and only in "our own values", aka, our self-interest. Or more accurately, that things ought to be done in his interest, since people obviously have widely conflicting interests (a prisoner not wanting to be executed, obviously, vs. his own desire to avoid paying room and board for aforementioned inmate, for example), and you can't reach a decision on what to do unless you chose one faction's interests over others.

I personally feel this should disqualify him from having anything meaningful to say on essentially ethical issues such as the death penalty, and many other things, for that matter. What really bugs me about this guy is that he engages in what can only be called a deliberate attempt to confuse the reader, engage in doublespeak, and avoid taking responsibility for his own words and their logical implications. In this post alone he blatantly claims he cares nothing for concepts of right and wrong only to later directly contradict himself by claiming to have found a realistic and "practical" code of ethics. And if you've seen his other posts, you will notice that he always tries to weasel out of being responsible for what he is saying, as Lightice has most likely noticed in the Faith thread. From reading his posts I swear he tries to be deliberately vague and obfuscate what he's really saying and make things needlessly complicated and difficult to understand, contradictory, or off topic so as to imply his point without actually coming out and saying it and being held to account for it. One might write this off as merely being poor attempts at communication and/or fundamental logic, but I have a hard time believing he (or almost anyone) can write the stuff he has by accident rather than deliberation.

If he wants to defend what he has written or explain things more clearly, I am willing to listen a little more. But I seriously want to write him off and ignore him on this forum.
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Lightice



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 313

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

douyang wrote:
I have a real problem with Animae saying that the death penalty can be justified and virtuous simply because it is cheaper than keeping someone is prison or rehabilitating them.


I agree here, both because I consider life the only undebateable value and because you can never eliminate the possibility of error. However...

Quote:
He is basically a self-admitted amoral bastard who believes we should all act in accordance with our self-interest first and foremost in the spirit of Niccolo Machiavelli and stop acting like there is anything that resembles morality and ethics.


As I pointed out there, this is the respect I almost completely agree with Animae. Unlike you imply, not believing in absolute set of values doesn't an amoral bastard make. You see, values and ethics are created by the society and their content is determined by their functionality and integrity. No more is required to have a perfectly functional set of morals, capable of functioning in a society without problems. No supernatural element is required to explain morality.

And incidentally, Niccolo Machiavelli was a genious. He wrote what is, instead of what he hoped would be, written to the context of his time - and to some extent, all the times, at least for now. Did you know that he considered democracy, or what was the closest equivalent to democracy in those days, as the best form of goverment? But as the Prince was written from purely pragmatic standpoint for the use of a dictator, he simply pointed out that democratic city-states are far more difficult to conquer by force, than other dictatorships.

Quote:
What is this but a confession that he does not believe in morality and only in "our own values", aka, our self-interest.


Hardly so - at least I wouldn't interpret it as such. We all follow our own values, yourself included. You're just assuming that your own values should be universal and everybody acting against them is in the wrong. That, I think, is a somewhat arrogant point of view. I would point out that our values are, for most part, created by the consensus of the society we live in and they ensure that we are capable of living in and profiting from the society without posing harm to its existance.
As I pointed out in the other thread, our values are tools of human interaction - we need them to interact with each other and build societies, but they aren't any more absolute as tools as the physical tools we build our physical houses with.

Animae is being somewhat unclear in his points and I see a contradiction between his view of religion and his view of ethics, but his basic ethical standpoint is perfectly valid, if I understand it correctly, even though he expresses it poorly. I have sympathy for him in this respect, since it took plenty of time, thinking and debate before I could express my view of ethics, as I understand them. And I think I still should improve my wording, quite often.
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Jeni Nielsen



Joined: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 405

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Douyang please watch your language. I don't want to see anyone calling anyone else a bastard on the boards here. I do agree with what you're saying and the spirit behind it, but just be careful.

Thanks.
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-Animae-



Joined: 30 Oct 2006
Posts: 22
Location: Ascending

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I have some explaining to do.
First of all I apologize to anyone feeling offended by anything I have written, to offend is rarely my intension and if it is, it will be pretty obvious. I don’t apologize because I think that I have done anything wrong, but rather because I am a nice person.
douyang wrote:
He is basically a self-admitted amoral bastard who believes we should all act in accordance with our self-interest first and foremost in the spirit of Niccolo Machiavelli and stop acting like there is anything that resembles morality and ethics.

I guess there is something I did not make clear, something which has confused people IRL because of my unusual approach.
I can sometimes (actually it happens quite often) seem to have two directly self contradictive views on something. That is because I tend to differentiate between what I believe in and what can (somewhat) objectively be known.
For example I hold high believes of consciousness and free will, yet if a discussion about them would occur I would argue against both of these concepts as I have yet to see good ways to defend them with reason. This is only one of the major differences between the way I think between me and other people (or am I wrong about this?). As I see it, to somehow assume that my convictions would be true is something that is very arrogant, not to mention close minded and therefore I differentiate it from what I know.
douyang wrote:
What is this but a confession that he does not believe in morality and only in "our own values", aka, our self-interest. Or more accurately, that things ought to be done in his interest, since people obviously have widely conflicting interests (a prisoner not wanting to be executed, obviously, vs. his own desire to avoid paying room and board for aforementioned inmate, for example), and you can't reach a decision on what to do unless you chose one faction's interests over others.

I objectively believe that morality is nonsense yet that does not mean that I don’t have moralistic values, and I think you misunderstand the implications of self interest.
As much as I would like to avoid it, I am human, and therefore bound by my human nature, to react in accordance to it. That means that generally, hurting others is not beneficial because:
It would cause other people to have a negative reaction against me, my loss
It would probably make me feel bad because I am human, my loss
Perhaps you don’t see that the “perfect egoist” is the most empathic person you can possibly imagine.
Now, as I care about honesty (can be objectively motivated to a certain extent, yet is a subjective belief) I would not go around acting to get the most out of every relation I have (this does also have a self interests cause).
douyang wrote:
In this post alone he blatantly claims he cares nothing for concepts of right and wrong only to later directly contradict himself by claiming to have found a realistic and "practical" code of ethics.

Practical, yes but not somehow trying to elevate it like to the “only right belief”.
As much as I dislike human nature and the shackles it brings upon us I think that people who are assuming that their way is the “right” one is even more disturbing, nature is at lest something beyond our control.
Ethical believes who determines what is right and wrong enslaves our souls, and for what? Fear of walking in the darkness? To create something that we must follow, and then somehow forget that it is something we have created and not some universal objective rule is as I see it just as bad a religion.
douyang wrote:
If he wants to defend what he has written or explain things more clearly, I am willing to listen a little more. But I seriously want to write him off and ignore him on this forum.

That would be your own choice, but what would you learn from that? Are you just going to turn a blind eye to my opinions just because you don’t like them?
Lightice wrote:
I agree here, both because I consider life the only undebateable value and because you can never eliminate the possibility of error.

I did say that it’s difficult to make death sentences work; perhaps it should be avoided altogether because of that.
I do however think that if someone gives himself the right to kill or to destroy another life, he/she has just deprived himself/herself the right to be valued. And I think it’s a double standard to say that it’s right to keep people for life in prison, yet not right to kill them. Because either way, your deprived them of living, unless of course you see prison as a fulfilling life.
Lightice wrote:
Animae is being somewhat unclear in his points and I see a contradiction between his view of religion and his view of ethics, but his basic ethical standpoint is perfectly valid, if I understand it correctly, even though he expresses it poorly.

Oh it’s so obvious it almost painful. I’m not religious, never was and unlikely to ever be. How about you read trough this tread with that in mind? I don’t take credit for deceiving you as well, that something you handled pretty well on your own.
I have constantly used evolution to back up my ideas; does that not speak for itself?
So I guess you might want to know why I made this tread, read it again and stop interpreting my view so extensively the answers are all there in front of you, if your are willing to understand them.
This tread has proven something entirely different from its purpose; it has proven how easily people deceive themselves, as fast as someone argues anything against their views.
Jeni Nielsen wrote:
Douyang please watch your language. I don't want to see anyone calling anyone else a bastard on the boards here. I do agree with what you're saying and the spirit behind it, but just be careful.
Thanks.

Something is bothering you but you never asked, curiosity is to be rewarded. Its irony to the extreme considering my own past, what is there to lose, or possibly be afraid of?
Why suppress your curiosity?
I don’t mind anyone criticizing me; in fact I am thankful if anyone provides me with constructive criticism. I am a reasonable person, it would be irrational to take offense, just because someone does not like the way I handle things.
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Companions the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow creators the creator seeks--those who write new values on new tablets. Companions the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the harvest.
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douyang



Joined: 18 Feb 2006
Posts: 128

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lightice wrote:
Hardly so - at least I wouldn't interpret it as such. We all follow our own values, yourself included. You're just assuming that your own values should be universal and everybody acting against them is in the wrong. That, I think, is a somewhat arrogant point of view. I would point out that our values are, for most part, created by the consensus of the society we live in and they ensure that we are capable of living in and profiting from the society without posing harm to its existance.
As I pointed out in the other thread, our values are tools of human interaction - we need them to interact with each other and build societies, but they aren't any more absolute as tools as the physical tools we build our physical houses with.


Of course I decide that my own values are the right ones that everyone should follow, and that disregard for them or actively trying to undermine or harm them is wrong. And what would be arrogant about that? This is what everyone does. How else could we have laws and government, or more importantly, the social norms and values which underlie them? How else could you justify coercion or violence to protect your values and force them on others, which is what law enforcement does for the state they serve when they arrest, imprison, fine, or execute people, or what soldiers do when they go to war, or what everyday parents do when they spank or use any other type of coercion against their own children? ( all of which does and has always and probably always will happen).

Without an objective set of morals that you can justifiably force on others, what do you have to oppose someone whose values you feel to be evil in the worst possible degree, someone like Hitler or Stalin or Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban? I don't understand how a subjective and ever changing morality that depends on the people who create and believe in it can really be called "morality", in the sense that things are objectively right or wrong to some degree or another regardless of what anyone says or believes about anything.

I also disagree with what you say about individual morality, or what you or I decide is moral, being the product of social consensus. To a large part, my morality is determined by what others have already decided should hold true for the society I live in. But that does not mean that I nor anyone else has to agree on any ethical issue, and in fact, I would say most people do not agree on many ethical issues, and you can find the most diverse variety of opinions on everything from birth control to whether one should vote for one politician or another. Everything I have seen about morality shows me that it is not just the product of group discussion or consensus, but the individuals' decision whether or not to accept the beliefs of one group vs another (ex.-Islamic Jihadist vs. Prosecutors of the War on Terror), or to go their own way and make up their own morality which could differ in any way.

Animae wrote:
I guess there is something I did not make clear, something which has confused people IRL because of my unusual approach.
I can sometimes (actually it happens quite often) seem to have two directly self contradictive views on something. That is because I tend to differentiate between what I believe in and what can (somewhat) objectively be known.
For example I hold high believes of consciousness and free will, yet if a discussion about them would occur I would argue against both of these concepts as I have yet to see good ways to defend them with reason. This is only one of the major differences between the way I think between me and other people (or am I wrong about this?). As I see it, to somehow assume that my convictions would be true is something that is very arrogant, not to mention close minded and therefore I differentiate it from what I know.


This makes no sense to me. It seems you are saying that you somehow believe but not believe something at the same time. And it makes it so that I at least cannot make heads or tails of what position you represent or want to argue for, or what your real opinion is on anything. And it makes my previous comments about how to oppose things you find immoral or go against your values more relevant.
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rcog3



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
Posts: 24
Location: Montreal

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

douyang wrote:
Without an objective set of morals that you can justifiably force on others, what do you have to oppose someone whose values you feel to be evil in the worst possible degree, someone like Hitler or Stalin or Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban? I don't understand how a subjective and ever changing morality that depends on the people who create and believe in it can really be called "morality", in the sense that things are objectively right or wrong to some degree or another regardless of what anyone says or believes about anything.


Maybe we could illustrate the point with examples. Try to give one objective value. Only one, true rule for the objective morality you propose. One that would hold in any situation, on any scale (personal or society wide).

douyang wrote:
I also disagree with what you say about individual morality, or what you or I decide is moral, being the product of social consensus. To a large part, my morality is determined by what others have already decided should hold true for the society I live in.


I think that's what Lightice meant by consensus. "For the most part" ...
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douyang



Joined: 18 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One objective value would be the individual's right to speak their mind, regardless of whether his opinion is popular or not, without fear of violence or retaliation. Another would be the value of recognizing and protecting the rights and fredoms of women and minorities, by giving them the same rights as men and the majority ethnicity or "race" in society. Another would be the need to protect individual human lives in most circumstances. What about democracy as the only truly legitimate and just form of government? Or the need to not only be free to openly profess and practice ones religious beliefs, but also be free from having the supernatural beliefs of others imposed on you? The value of preventing enslavement and exploitation of people because of the color of their skin, as happened in the U.S? So on...

Of course I realize that not everyone shares these beliefs and values, and probably most of the people in history did not. This is besides the point. My point is that these are objectively true moral precepts, regardless of what anyone says or thinks about anything. We could live in a society where no one ever even heard of such things and they would still be, as far as it is possible for anything to be, moral and desirable. If the damn Taliban honestly and with perfect conviction believe women should be slaves to their husbands and old ladies should have acid thrown in their faces or their legs broken with clubs for accidently showing an ankle, these things would still be pure evil, just as they would be in a society where everyone thinks such things are horribly bigoted atrocities that no worthwhile individual would contemplate.

For me this is the only true morality there ever could be, and the moral relativism you propose turns the very concept of ethics and values into a joke.

rcog3 wrote:
douyang wrote:

I also disagree with what you say about individual morality, or what you or I decide is moral, being the product of social consensus. To a large part, my morality is determined by what others have already decided should hold true for the society I live in.


I think that's what Lightice meant by consensus. "For the most part" ...


And you missed the meaning of the rest of my post. I go on to say that there really is no "consensus" in the universal, or even mostly true way one would use such a term. That there are way too many different and conflicting opinions on too many different issues for this to ever be the case, there always was, and there always will be. Even on issues such as the value and preservation of children's lives, which I think most people would believe a single given society at least, will come to universal agreement on, there are different moral opinions. As can be easily attested by mothers who groom their sons to become suicide bombers out of deeply rooted religious beliefs, and those more secular ( and decently sane, in my opinion) individuals who would see this as madness.

One's morality (as in one's understanding of morality) inherently comes from what one chooses to believe for themselves, even though the ideas of others play a strong influence on what any given person believes.
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Lightice



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

-Animae- wrote:

I did say that it’s difficult to make death sentences work; perhaps it should be avoided altogether because of that.
I do however think that if someone gives himself the right to kill or to destroy another life, he/she has just deprived himself/herself the right to be valued. And I think it’s a double standard to say that it’s right to keep people for life in prison, yet not right to kill them. Because either way, your deprived them of living, unless of course you see prison as a fulfilling life.


I, on the other hand think that if we agree that death is a bad thing and causing it to someone needs to be punished, we can't just go around and turn death into good thing, that is the punishment. It goes against my sense of integrity.
And incidentally, almost anything is more fulfilling than death. Prison is by far not the worst thing that can happen to you. Death, on the other hand, is irriversbile and impossible to improve.

Quote:

Oh it’s so obvious it almost painful. I’m not religious, never was and unlikely to ever be. How about you read trough this tread with that in mind? I don’t take credit for deceiving you as well, that something you handled pretty well on your own.
I have constantly used evolution to back up my ideas; does that not speak for itself?


I know that you're not religous, but earlier you seemed to view the religion as an absolute value that a society can't be without. That would imply at least some sort of belief into absolutes, even if you don't specify their nature.

douyang wrote:
Of course I decide that my own values are the right ones that everyone should follow, and that disregard for them or actively trying to undermine or harm them is wrong. And what would be arrogant about that?


Well, for one thing, the people you use as examples of bad and evil believed exactly the same thing. They believed that there are absolute values and that it was their duty to uphold them, at any cost. And see where that lead to.

Quote:
How else could we have laws and government, or more importantly, the social norms and values which underlie them? How else could you justify coercion or violence to protect your values and force them on others, which is what law enforcement does for the state they serve when they arrest, imprison, fine, or execute people, or what soldiers do when they go to war, or what everyday parents do when they spank or use any other type of coercion against their own children?


We could have all those things simply, because the society cannot function without values that people obey and enforcement agencies exist in order to ensure that those values are indeed obeyed, since there always is a minority that understands the artifical nature of those values and short-sightedly goes against them, either because they think they have the true right values, or that values don't have any worth, whatsoever. That is ofcourse mistaken - moral values are neccecary for a society to function. But their exact nature beyond a few simple basics is quite variable.
I don't accept and thus justify forcing my values to others by force, by the way, unless they represent a direct and clear threat towards my chosen way of life.

Quote:
Without an objective set of morals that you can justifiably force on others, what do you have to oppose someone whose values you feel to be evil in the worst possible degree, someone like Hitler or Stalin or Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban?


What's sad is, that as I already said, those people believed - and in the last case still believe - the same as you. Hitler was an idealist, who imagined the Jews as vicious monsters who hold the Aryan race, the true rulers of Earth bound in miserable conditions of the post-WWI Germany. Stalin was a paranoid who imagined everybody was out there to get him and believed that it was right and just for him to strike first. And Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are the biggest idealists of all - they believe they're the small, chosen group of true followers of God, set against the overpowering, evil empire ruled by diciples of Satan.
I don't consider them "evil". Just insane, dangerous, unscrupulous and arrogant. To me their thinking represents potential threats towards my way of life. And, quite importantly, I think that one of the primal reasons for their dangerousness is their belief in absolute values - that belief can create some serious monsters, in wrong circumstances.

Quote:
I don't understand how a subjective and ever changing morality that depends on the people who create and believe in it can really be called "morality", in the sense that things are objectively right or wrong to some degree or another regardless of what anyone says or believes about anything.


Then riddle me this: what is the source of this absolute, uneffable sense which without fail tells us all what is right or wrong? The will of a some sort of divinity? The eternal, unchanging Law of Karma?
I find this kind of idea of a rulebook sent from Above quite distasteful. It implies that we, human beings, would be unable to create a functional sense of morality among ourselves.

Look your own actions good and hard and try to claim that you do what you believe is right out of some other reason, than your natural (and physical) sense of empathy or of the rulesets pounded on your head by the society, since the childhood.

Quote:
Of course I realize that not everyone shares these beliefs and values, and probably most of the people in history did not. This is besides the point. My point is that these are objectively true moral precepts, regardless of what anyone says or thinks about anything. We could live in a society where no one ever even heard of such things and they would still be, as far as it is possible for anything to be, moral and desirable.


I would love to know, how you imagine that a person can spontaneously strive for and achieve a set of values they have never heard of, in their life. And still, just where this kind of superious ruleset comes from? Could you believe that our society, here and now is in fact just as bad as, say America during the period of slavery, because we, in fact, don't know those absolute, superior values that no-one to this day has managed to follow?

Quote:
For me this is the only true morality there ever could be, and the moral relativism you propose turns the very concept of ethics and values into a joke.


Oh, hardly. As I pointed out before, a society without moral values cannot exist. Therefore trying to acheive moral values that are both functional and comfortable is a valuable goal. But when you find those values, they'll be your creation - a highly admirable, excellent creation, certainly, but nothing that would have existed before you taught them up.

Quote:
And you missed the meaning of the rest of my post. I go on to say that there really is no "consensus" in the universal, or even mostly true way one would use such a term. That there are way too many different and conflicting opinions on too many different issues for this to ever be the case, there always was, and there always will be.


Well, there is quite a strong consensus against killing and stealing, among the few basic values. Ofcourse to some those values only apply to the members of their own community and not at all towards the strangers, but those values must exist, or the society without them won't last for long.

Quote:
One's morality (as in one's understanding of morality) inherently comes from what one chooses to believe for themselves, even though the ideas of others play a strong influence on what any given person believes.


Hear! hear!
So why you spent your previous post and much of this one saying the opposite?
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rcog3



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

douyang wrote:
One objective value would be the individual's right to speak their mind, regardless of whether his opinion is popular or not, without fear of violence or retaliation.

[...]

For me this is the only true morality there ever could be, and the moral relativism you propose turns the very concept of ethics and values into a joke.


What about hate speech then? Some countries sanction against it and some don't. Each position has its advantages and its inconvenients. Now, how do you know which one is best? I am not saying that there is not any "objective" set of laws that would optimize a society, just that it is utopian to think we can know it. Thus, the only thing we can do it to say "here are our values as a society" and see what it leads to. Societies survives, societies dies. Survival of the fittest on a higher level.

Instead of sociology, take the example of physics. You can't really say that quantum (and relativist) physics is the ultimate truth. It is just the best model we achieved yet. And "forcing" it upon others would prevent anyone questioning it and ever finding a better one. The moment you think you know the truth is the moment you cease to evolve.

douyang wrote:
And you missed the meaning of the rest of my post. I go on to say that there really is no "consensus" in the universal, or even mostly true way one would use such a term.


As I understood it, "For the most part" refered to strong laws (murder, etc.) These are the "universal laws" that everybody in society agrees on. It does not mean that people do agree on every law. Strong laws tend to be the same in various cultures. Weak laws (e.g. hate speech vs freedom of speech) tend to vary.

douyang wrote:
One's morality (as in one's understanding of morality) inherently comes from what one chooses to believe for themselves, even though the ideas of others play a strong influence on what any given person believes.


And the society's morality comes from the common points in the moralities of its members Smile
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douyang



Joined: 18 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lightice wrote:
-Animae- wrote:


douyang wrote:
Of course I decide that my own values are the right ones that everyone should follow, and that disregard for them or actively trying to undermine or harm them is wrong. And what would be arrogant about that?


Well, for one thing, the people you use as examples of bad and evil believed exactly the same thing. They believed that there are absolute values and that it was their duty to uphold them, at any cost. And see where that lead to.


1. Most people have some sort of values they believe are objective and should apply to everyone, yet you don't see the vast majority of them turning into hitler or stalin, even those who have absolute or unlimited power like european monarchs. I believe that your real problem lies not with me having a set of values I find to be objectively true, but with those who are dogmatic and fanatical about those values, not limited to but especially those you disagree with. I am not a fanatic, I am willing to change my mind if a hear a good argument backed by strong evidence as much as anyone.

2. The only reason anyone would see Hitler or those like him as bad is because they themselves have some sort of values and morals they believe is objective and applies to everyone, and that they are justified to some point in forcing their morals and values on others. Hence the 2nd World War, and the fact that there were people willing to fight such a war against Hitler and his allies to begin with.

Lightice wrote:
We could have all those things simply, because the society cannot function without values that people obey and enforcement agencies exist in order to ensure that those values are indeed obeyed, since there always is a minority that understands the artifical nature of those values and short-sightedly goes against them, either because they think they have the true right values, or that values don't have any worth, whatsoever. That is ofcourse mistaken - moral values are neccecary for a society to function. But their exact nature beyond a few simple basics is quite variable.
I don't accept and thus justify forcing my values to others by force, by the way, unless they represent a direct and clear threat towards my chosen way of life.


But how could you justify doing anything to create or protect a well functioning society to begin with, if you have no objective values, and morality can be whatever anyone makes of it? How can you justify using force to protect your way of life? Without an objective morality or ethics, all you have is self-interest, which is really not any better ground to stand on than the opposing sides' self-interest, in my opinion.

Lightice wrote:
Then riddle me this: what is the source of this absolute, uneffable sense which without fail tells us all what is right or wrong? The will of a some sort of divinity? The eternal, unchanging Law of Karma?
I find this kind of idea of a rulebook sent from Above quite distasteful. It implies that we, human beings, would be unable to create a functional sense of morality among ourselves.

Look your own actions good and hard and try to claim that you do what you believe is right out of some other reason, than your natural (and physical) sense of empathy or of the rulesets pounded on your head by the society, since the childhood


I don't believe in gods, the supernatural, or that morality can come from anyone's heresay. That's the point I'm trying to make. I believe in an objective moral standard, but not that I or anyone else has a perfect understanding of that standard, but that we nevertheless can try and often succeed and developing better approximations to it through reason and evidence (like in science) combined with our normative judgements stemming from the biology and socialization you mentioned.

Lightice wrote:
would love to know, how you imagine that a person can spontaneously strive for and achieve a set of values they have never heard of, in their life. And still, just where this kind of superious ruleset comes from? Could you believe that our society, here and now is in fact just as bad as, say America during the period of slavery, because we, in fact, don't know those absolute, superior values that no-one to this day has managed to follow?


They could use their head and their information about the world around them and discover those values for themselves, as many have throughout history have, as seen in the shifting moral standards that practically change from generation to generation. And yes, I do believe that our society could be just as bad as that of slaveowners, since living in an evil culture is not an excuse for being the same way...for me, that's like saying being an anti-semite or participating in the holocaust is okay if you live in Nazi Germany or a medieval Christian society where these thigns are normal and seen as righteous. You can always think for yourself and create a different, possibly better (or worse, admittedly, as we see with muslim fundie youth in England) morality.

Lightice wrote:
What's sad is, that as I already said, those people believed - and in the last case still believe - the same as you. Hitler was an idealist, who imagined the Jews as vicious monsters who hold the Aryan race, the true rulers of Earth bound in miserable conditions of the post-WWI Germany. Stalin was a paranoid who imagined everybody was out there to get him and believed that it was right and just for him to strike first. And Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are the biggest idealists of all - they believe they're the small, chosen group of true followers of God, set against the overpowering, evil empire ruled by diciples of Satan.


I really fail to see how believing in objective moral standards, even if that standard or belief system was seriously flawed somehow, makes me the intellectual equivalent of hitler. Rolling Eyes

And if I didn't have more respect for your previous posts, I'd seriously start to think you were degenerating the thread by comparing me to aforementioned person.
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Lightice



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

douyang wrote:

1. Most people have some sort of values they believe are objective and should apply to everyone, yet you don't see the vast majority of them turning into hitler or stalin, even those who have absolute or unlimited power like european monarchs.


I didn't say that believing in an absolute, objective morality automatically makes you a monster, but that the most famous societal monsters were just as much believers in absolute values as your common man. In other words, belief in such values is no guarantee of your character, in any way.
Historically speaking, the European monarchs believed to have been granted their positions by God, so they felt compelled to follow the Christian values, to one extent or another. Most tried to wrest as much power from the church to themselves as possible, though. Most weren't exactly pleasant people by modern standards, either - killing millions of people of a wrong faith was an act of heroism, not monstrousity, in those days, even when great numbers of noncombatants, like women and children were included in the numbers.

Quote:
I believe that your real problem lies not with me having a set of values I find to be objectively true, but with those who are dogmatic and fanatical about those values, not limited to but especially those you disagree with. I am not a fanatic, I am willing to change my mind if a hear a good argument backed by strong evidence as much as anyone.


But if your values are absolute and undeniable, you cannot back up, no matter what. If you believe that your set of ethics and values is perfect and unchangeable, then no argument can be made against it and anyone trying to question it is a potential evildoer and a threat. Do you see why I think belief in absolute values is not good?

Quote:
2. The only reason anyone would see Hitler or those like him as bad is because they themselves have some sort of values and morals they believe is objective and applies to everyone, and that they are justified to some point in forcing their morals and values on others. Hence the 2nd World War, and the fact that there were people willing to fight such a war against Hitler and his allies to begin with.


I would point out that no-one would have attacked Hitler, if Hitler hadn't chosen to attack them. The Allies fought against Hitler because he was a threat to their existance. Actually in the late 1930's many in the UK and the US were symphatic to Hitler's beliefs, though they were quick enough to change their minds, as soon as the war began. The reason for the Allies to fight the war was not to promote one ideology over another - that's what Hitler was doing - they fought to avoid being conquered or otherwise oppressed by the Nazis.
Incidentally, my country was one of Hitler's allies, as the Nazi-Germany was the only nation willing to aid us against the Soviet Union. We had some curious and amusing anomalies, as we had Jewish soldiers who happily fought alongside SS-officers, who came well along with them and a couple were even awarded with Iron Crosses, which they politely refused. Things aren't black and white, in real life...

Quote:
But how could you justify doing anything to create or protect a well functioning society to begin with, if you have no objective values, and morality can be whatever anyone makes of it?


We human beings cannot prosper, not even survive without a society. The benefits that come from having an ordered society are good enough reason to promote a set of ethics that make the society possible. Ofcourse the people need to agree on a number of things to keep the society together. Those things are the common values, which you imagine to be universal, objective and unchanging. They are none of those, but they are societal and neccecary for the society to exist.

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How can you justify using force to protect your way of life?


Because I like it? That's as good reason as you'll ever have, yourself. Or do you have a better reason for protecting your own life, than the fact that you like living, and doing it in a specific manner?

Quote:
I don't believe in gods, the supernatural, or that morality can come from anyone's heresay.


If you believe that morals are as universal as the laws of physics, you believe in supernatural phenomenon, because it's impossible to measure or judge morality objectively. Absolute morality doesn't go with scientific worldview.

Quote:
They could use their head and their information about the world around them and discover those values for themselves, as many have throughout history have, as seen in the shifting moral standards that practically change from generation to generation.


The information people that belong to a different culture have in their heads is quite different from what we have. If slavery is the societal norm, they do not question it any more than we question individual differences in wealth and societal influence. You cannot find a single line in evolution of morality, any more than you can find a such thing in the biological evolution.

Quote:
You can always think for yourself and create a different, possibly better (or worse, admittedly, as we see with muslim fundie youth in England) morality.


Only to an extent. We all are children of our own societies and their values and can't escape very far from their thinking patterns, because they have been etched in our minds when we were just forming as individuals. We can interpret our values differently from the masses, but we still use the same scales were were indoctrinated to use, since the childhood.

Quote:
I really fail to see how believing in objective moral standards, even if that standard or belief system was seriously flawed somehow, makes me the intellectual equivalent of hitler. Rolling Eyes

And if I didn't have more respect for your previous posts, I'd seriously start to think you were degenerating the thread by comparing me to aforementioned person.


In no way I was comparing you to Hitler. As I said earlier, I was simply pointing out that Hitler's beliefs in this particular matter were no different from yours and they didn't prevent him from becoming the most hated person of the century, for a reason. As such, unlike you claim, the belief in absolute morality tells nothing of you as an individual person.
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rcog3



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lightice wrote:
If you believe that morals are as universal as the laws of physics, you believe in supernatural phenomenon, because it's impossible to measure or judge morality objectively. Absolute morality doesn't go with scientific worldview.


I think that where douyang is going* is to the platonic belief that objective "things" exists independently of ourselves. Basically, it is not exactly religious, but still a belief. This is where I disagree with him. But since it is a belief, it would be pointless to try to prove/disprove it (as it is pointless with the idea of God).

By the way, if you think that the laws of physics are universal, this is also a belief. And if you take morality as a branch of sociology, it could be as "objective" as any physics theory. After all, sciences are philosophy "spinoffs".

* say if I'm wrong.
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douyang



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rcog3 wrote:

I think that where douyang is going* is to the platonic belief that objective "things" exists independently of ourselves. Basically, it is not exactly religious, but still a belief. This is where I disagree with him. But since it is a belief, it would be pointless to try to prove/disprove it (as it is pointless with the idea of God).


That sums up what I'm saying pretty well. And I do realize it is impossible to objectively prove any values, since as I've said before, science can't deal with normative judgements. But I still believe these things, and I'm willing to bet most of you do too.

Lightice wrote:
But if your values are absolute and undeniable, you cannot back up, no matter what. If you believe that your set of ethics and values is perfect and unchangeable, then no argument can be made against it and anyone trying to question it is a potential evildoer and a threat. Do you see why I think belief in absolute values is not good?

This is a big misunderstanding. I said before that I don't believe I or anyone else has the perfect or complete moral standard, or that I can't be wrong. I merely claim that there is a perfect moral truth out there, and that while we can never have it completely or with perfect accuracy, we can get progressively closer to it through reason and evidence combined with intuition. Like in science, where you can never know the whole truth, and any of your beliefs or findings, no matter how valuable they are to you, can be refuted with evidence.

Lightice wrote:
We had some curious and amusing anomalies, as we had Jewish soldiers who happily fought alongside SS-officers, who came well along with them and a couple were even awarded with Iron Crosses, which they politely refused. Things aren't black and white, in real life...


I never said it was, only that there is such a thing as objective morality, however grey it might be in an imperfect world.

Lightice wrote:
Only to an extent. We all are children of our own societies and their values and can't escape very far from their thinking patterns, because they have been etched in our minds when we were just forming as individuals. We can interpret our values differently from the masses, but we still use the same scales were were indoctrinated to use, since the childhood.


I have more faith in the individuals' ability to throw off childhood programming and how they were taught to think, as evidenced by people who were religiously brought up and lived lives long dedicated to their religion leaving it and becoming atheist. And I can't see how this can account for social or ethical revolutions which gave freedom and equality to groups like blacks and women.
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Lightice



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

douyang wrote:
rcog3 wrote:

I think that where douyang is going* is to the platonic belief that objective "things" exists independently of ourselves. Basically, it is not exactly religious, but still a belief. This is where I disagree with him. But since it is a belief, it would be pointless to try to prove/disprove it (as it is pointless with the idea of God).


That sums up what I'm saying pretty well.


If you have been trying to convince me of a faith-based belief, then this whole debate has been pointless. If you believe in a higher, "ideal" level of things, which is impossible to sense or measure, or even imagine, then you are in the same boat with Bible-pushers. It's your opinion against mine with no grounds for a debate. It is belief in the supernatural, whatever you call it as.

I still have to ask: did these values float in space for all those billions of years before the emergence of sentient life? What brought them to being, in the start? Do the quantum particles have a morality? Or physical objects? Or single-cell organisms? The vertebrates? Where does the line start? Sentience is a more difficult concept than we usually understand.

Quote:
And I do realize it is impossible to objectively prove any values, since as I've said before, science can't deal with normative judgements.


Sociologists, psychologists and neurologists would beg differ. The science is quite capable of defining both the nature and reason of ethics, although it can't say which system of morality is the best without some objective scale, which they have to decide on their own. Happiness is popular, but not a perfect scale.

Quote:
But I still believe these things, and I'm willing to bet most of you do too.


Trying to justify your belief by the number of believers is also futile. Everyone used to believe that the Sun revolves around Earth and to this day there are plenty people who imagine that the world is 6000 years old.

Quote:
This is a big misunderstanding. I said before that I don't believe I or anyone else has the perfect or complete moral standard, or that I can't be wrong.


Yet you claim that your beliefs point towards an absolute truth and that your Western set of values is closer to it than any other in existance. And that this gives you the right to push your own set of values upon the rest of the world, whatever they think of them.

Quote:
I never said it was, only that there is such a thing as objective morality, however grey it might be in an imperfect world.


How often have I heard the "shades of gray" argument...
Continuing the metaphor, gray isn't good enough for anything, outside one narrow set of values. I prefer to look at the whole spectrum of colours.

Lightice wrote:

I have more faith in the individuals' ability to throw off childhood programming and how they were taught to think, as evidenced by people who were religiously brought up and lived lives long dedicated to their religion leaving it and becoming atheist.


You're under a presumption that religous and atheist are opposites when it come to values. In fact, I suspect that the people in your example held to very Christian ethics and values barely even noticing, that they did.
I would also point out that while such things happen all the time, most children with religious upbringing do not become atheists, later in life. As such, looking at the percentages, the childhood indoctrination seems to be quite succesful - only a minority manages to break even slightly away from it.

Quote:
And I can't see how this can account for social or ethical revolutions which gave freedom and equality to groups like blacks and women.


If anything, they are proof of changeability and relativity of values and ethics. Those things didn't happen overnight. They were responses to centuries of development and change in the cultural enviroment. There was nothing sudden about them - people didn't just turn their heads and say "you know, this is much more ethical alternative". They were just peaks of icebergs, responses to much greater changes below the surface.
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douyang



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Explain to me this then: How is your morality any different from moral relativism, or the idea that morality is whatever a given culture or group makes of it? That if some radical cleric with a barbaric medieval mindset says it's not only acceptable, but our sacred moral duty to Allah to kill people for heresy or apostasy, that it is our duty to "respect" or tolerate or accept this, even when it gets applied to people with western values and a different or no religion in their country, (or even people in different countries with different values, as seen with the Danish Cartoonists) even when it conflicts in deep fundamental ways with our own values and morality?
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