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What is morality?

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What is morality?
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mknormanPosts: 58Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:01 am

Post Re: What is morality?

Weirdtopia wrote:My apologies, just fustrated :(


No problem, Weirdtopia.

It is a frustrating undertaking. And let me be clear, I do not think that you're a bad guy!
Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:44 am
OzymandyusUser avatarPosts: 986Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: What is morality?

First, I want to say I don't buy into this idea of morals being obligations. This is probably the main reason we have any disagreement at all. You are right that you are probably capturing more of the meaning of morality as it is commonly used while I am still trying to redefine it into something useful, something that can have real meaning. Feel free to replace any of my uses of the word morality with moreality in the text below, if this is something you feel should not be done.

mknorman wrote:(!) This is not a presupposition, but the starting point. All other claims about 'morality' have to be recognized as positive, as requiring some kind of demonstration! It's really just a consequence of the fact of autonomy. Otherwise, what privilege does this [unconscious or involuntary or third party] valuer have to make these judgments in an objective way? How did it get this privilege? I still say that we have only the fact of nihilism, and that moral skepticism is its consequence. These actions aren't 'good' or 'bad' to anything or anyone outside of the judger. This is what you have to establish, the right or privilege of a third-party (possibly disembodied) valuer to make binding pronouncements about the objective goodness or badness of a particular action.
In response to my statement: 'Presupposing that such value judgments must be completely acknowledged and willed by the actor does make the only meaning of morality subjective.'

I say this is not a starting point. It is precluding the possibility that a 'better' moral code could exist for that the actor, and he would AGREE that it was better if he knew the facts. I believe it makes a positive claim that the moral code the actor is holding to is the Right code for him, that he is freely choosing it.

This assumes that the subjective valuers always have the choice and they are freely choosing their codes: but what if their information is wrong, and they are actually choosing the OPPOSITE of what they value. What if they are tricking themselves and are no longer acting in their own best interest. The actor could not know WHY he does what he does, and not know that what he does fundamentally conflicts with his own values. It is that actor's own values that are still the judge, and that actor is still the interest. But his subjective morality is not the morality he would choose if given the knowledge. There may be something BETTER, a code of action that would better fulfill his own values. This is exhibited by the fact that if we inform him and give the evidence and reasons why such a change could help him he will choose to change. He is still the privileged valuer in such a scenario, but he is coming to an understanding of his real values and the actions that could best fulfill those. That knowledge is provided by the examination I've explained previously, and it is untainted by subjectivity (as much as science can be).

Because we are quite sure that people often do things that are not in their own self-interest, we should give them information and moral guidelines. This morality is in concert with their OWN values, though they sometimes do not recognize it. We see this most clearly in children - they may value eating candy all day, never studying, playing videogames and staying up late. But we are quite certain that if they had all the information on how those behaviors can permanently increase or decrease their happiness, they would choose to study more and to eat more healthily. We are using what we know of their unconciously held long-term values.

For the past 10000 years we've encoded this morality in various forms: often religious or political in nature. We've constructed them rather wily-nily, with no real regard to whether they were actually values we do and should share. This needs to stop. We have better tools for discovering such notions of what is good and bad for us. We have included all kinds of nonsense into codes of morality, stuff that is in no one's best interest - we need to find out what that stuff is and take it out, and show people the truth of how some of it is getting in the way of their own self-interest.

Now, this sort of thing can be abused, and can be wrong even (science doesn't get everything right, and we must constantly revise and revisit our examinations.) This is part of why we always want to frame such knowledge of what is good and bad as education rather than dictation - informing people what usually makes them happy and why it makes them happy, telling them the sorts of actions that can lead to serious depression and pain. However, like in your health care analogy, we can tell people that we KNOW that what they are doing is unhealthy, we don't have to simply say that we think it. We have scientific data backing it up, we see that when you eat at McDonalds 4 times a day that you have serious health side effects, which has serious lifestyle side effects. This is in fact how we convince people to eat healthier now, its not some kind of gestapo evil enforcement of morality, its merely a matter of consciousness raising. Not EVERYONE will follow such advice, but then not everyone believes in evolution - that doesn't make either of those things less true.
And in an instant all progress towards the sublime, the great and enduring in man fell away and became a monkey's trick.
Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:31 am
mknormanPosts: 58Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:01 am

Post Re: What is morality?

Ozymandyus wrote:First, I want to say I don't buy into this idea of morals being obligations. This is probably the main reason we have any disagreement at all. You are right that you are probably capturing more of the meaning of morality as it is commonly used while I am still trying to redefine it into something useful, something that can have real meaning. Feel free to replace any of my uses of the word morality with moreality in the text below, if this is something you feel should not be done.


Then, I think you're just advocating for the expansion of research into social psychology and a wider application of psychological principles to human behavior. If we're just talking about the mental health and happiness of the human organism, psychology is the field of study concerned with this, among other things.

You might like Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness, or Cialdini's Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I'd also look into behavioral economics for pertinent research into how people actually behave in that most valuating of all human endeavors, market behavior.

Morality without obligations is psychology.
Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:05 am
WeirdtopiaPosts: 60Joined: Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:05 amLocation: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

Post Re: What is morality?

I think the biggest problem with knowledge and science in North America as i see it is the growing counter knowledge that is complete nonsense. Knowledge can educate people but it can also make people ignorant because people could believe in something that is true to a point then believe in something that is non-sense. There are people who use pseudo everything from pseudosciences and pseudo history and pseudo medical which is completely dangerous and complete non-sense and people believe in it. There are books talking about that the world will end in 1212, that all civilizations have said this, this is non-sense. The idea that the Pharaohs were African American and that they built the Mayan pyramids. There is a growing conviction in Africa that AIDS and HIV's are fictional and are made up, the AIDS/HIV denials. Then there is the other group that think that the CIA made AIDS against the African Americans. Creationism is really high among developing countries like Turkey. Only 12% of Muslims believe in evolution. There are the 9/11 people, who say that it's a inside job which if you use common sense you would come to the conclusion that it would be stupid of the government to do so. I read an article in skeptic magazine about a doctor trying to convince a mother that germs exist, he gives her medical documents and research documents proving that germ exist and explained every medical terminology used. The doctor problem gave her so much information that she could go for a degree. lol

Plus to add to my point is that there is a public awareness segment on T.V talking about an animal called the "Canadian Household Hippo" that live in houses of Canada and there hippos and they are small as a mouse and the video showed a realistic shrunken hippo sized of a mouse walk around and eat, at the end of the segment there is statement that say "Don't believe everything you see on T.V, research and evaluate what is being said. I think this is route that the government and society should teach is to research and evaluate so that people know the difference between academic and non-academic.
Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:47 pm
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