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Old 01-29-2009, 12:39 AM   #21
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I'm actually trying to make a case for objective morality

Also, I think this is a better post for the OP:

"There are no absolutes"
The above statement cannot be true because it itself is an absolute statement.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Masanari View Post
I am not disagreeing with you, I am just trying to fully understand.

Ok a moral defines what is right or wrong. In a jist, the statement is not right or wrong, rather, depends on its relativity to the person. No?
Morality defines right or wrong conduct, not right or wrong statements.

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Old 01-29-2009, 09:46 AM   #22
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"Making moral judgements is immoral"

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Old 01-29-2009, 09:58 AM   #23
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Goddamnit, look at the stickied threads.

I am merging this with the stickied thread.

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Old 01-29-2009, 02:19 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_shadow View Post
"Making moral judgements is immoral"
Explain, yo. The only thing I can make of it is that moral judgements aren't supposed to be choices, maybe innate reactions which are in accordance with your level of compassion.

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Old 01-29-2009, 02:21 PM   #25
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There is no real good or real evil.

There is only indifference. At least thats how it is in nature.

As has been said good and evil are man made subjective concepts.

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Old 01-29-2009, 02:30 PM   #26
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I actually think good and evil, at the very core, are objective. And by objective I mean universal.

In syllogism form

Morals are structured around a person's empathy.
Empathy is a universal emotion.
Therefore, morals must have some kind of objective basis.

So basically, what is deemed "right" is the aversion to pain, while what is deemed "wrong" is the creation of suffering.

Ethics are based on morals, morals are based on values, values are based on empathy.

If any proclaimed morals stray too far from an empathy base, then they are more apt to be called "doctrines". This includes the doctrine of 'no sex before marriage' and 'prostitution is wrong'.

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Old 01-29-2009, 03:17 PM   #27
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Well, if we are just bunch of atoms and molecules, there no meaning to good and evil. Good and evil do not stand alone, they are both part of a system that includes almost everything.

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Old 01-29-2009, 06:57 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mashed Potato View Post
I actually think good and evil, at the very core, are objective. And by objective I mean universal.

In syllogism form

Morals are structured around a person's empathy.
Empathy is a universal emotion.
Therefore, morals must have some kind of objective basis.

So basically, what is deemed "right" is the aversion to pain, while what is deemed "wrong" is the creation of suffering.

Ethics are based on morals, morals are based on values, values are based on empathy.

If any proclaimed morals stray too far from an empathy base, then they are more apt to be called "doctrines". This includes the doctrine of 'no sex before marriage' and 'prostitution is wrong'.
I agree with this, but I also think that this approach is limited when applied to society at large. Inevitably you'll have to delve into the fine details of proper behavior, and then your ethical system transforms into a legal system that concerns itself mostly with "doctrines".

Oh yeah, this reminds me of stuff C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity. He believed in universal morality as well.

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Old 01-31-2009, 01:41 AM   #29
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Hmm, yes. If you're going to consider societal conduct, then morals are semi-drowned out by customs and notions of fairness and equality.

I actually believe morals to be a social construct too; private rights or wrongs are meaningless. Suffering caused voluntarily unto oneself is not true suffering at all.

Also, I wanted to add that an action without (wholesome or malicious) intent can never be considered moral nor immoral. Instead, we brand them amoral.

I'm particularly fond of taking whole ideas and separating them into little categories so I want to make the distinction between a moral person and a moral action in any situation.

I think intention determines the merit of the person, while the consequences determine the merit of the action. For example: if a man accidentally pushes a puppy off a balcony, we cannot holistically brand the situation as either “moral” or “immoral”; we must dissect the situation. The man is not immoral (because there was no malicious intent involved) but the action was immoral (because of the undesirable consequences).

What about sociopaths whom bring harm onto others? Their character is amoral in my opinion, due to their empathyless nature. Their actions are immoral.

Anyway, this could be just a load of crap to anyone who's reading this But it makes life somewhat more coherent to me, so it's all right.

Did CS Lewis write anything particularly striking?

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Old 01-31-2009, 05:01 AM   #30
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Oh good, you got rid of that freakish MS Paint avatar. <.< It was too doppelgänger-esque, every time I saw one of your posts I did a double-take and wondered why I couldn't remember making that post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mashed Potato View Post
I actually believe morals to be a social construct too; private rights or wrongs are meaningless. Suffering caused voluntarily unto oneself is not true suffering at all.
I don't quite understand this part and it makes me feel inadequate.

For the first half, do you mean: morality is only meaningful when mankind is considered as a whole, because looking at just one individual's morality tells you nothing except how that particular individual happens to behave, which is rather useless information. Therefore you need a holistic perspective in order to get a useful morality that is "universal", so to speak, and applicable across all normally functioning humans.

The voluntary suffering bit I have no clue about.

The rest of it makes sense to me. It does lead to the possibility of there being perfectly moral people who perform only immoral actions (and vice versa), but that in itself is not too counter-intuitive.

One thing that occurred to me...your viewpoint seems to be mostly utilitarian, so you concern yourself with minimizing suffering and maximizing happiness. But you apply morality not only to consequences, but also intent, which the original utilitarians did not do.

This raises a question. If you have person A who has pure intent but somehow repeatedly performs immoral and harmful actions, does that make him preferable to person B, a sadistic sociopath who somehow only ends up performing moral actions? If your criteria are strictly utilitarian, you'd pick person B, because intent alone doesn't increase or decrease happiness; it's the consequences that count. But since you introduced the moral person vs. moral action distinction, the distinction must be there for something; in what cases is it useful? Would you ever pick person A over person B?

This is a pretty extreme and unlikely example, but I think those are the most useful when it comes to working out kinks in a codified system.

Quote:
Did CS Lewis write anything particularly striking?
The Chronicles of Narnia. I never finished reading Mere Christianity, but if you want to you can browse a pdf of it.

The section I remembered was in the beginning under the heading "The Law of Human Nature", similar to what you were saying earlier:

Spoiler:
I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities.

But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him.

You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to—whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.

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Old 01-31-2009, 10:03 AM   #31
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For every individual there comes a different set of built in morals, but regardless, people still view certain things as wrong in a general sense. Murder, stealing, and cheating on a spouse , for example. I really dont think anyone supports those things...but is there a defined, bold, black and white line? No, never has been, and there never will be, not on this planet anyway

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Old 01-31-2009, 07:02 PM   #32
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I've come to believe it's something that came about with the advent of sentience. Perhaps it could even be said that it goes hand in hand with sentience.

The concepts of "good" and "evil" do not govern organisms without conscious awareness. The operation of nature does not contain opposition, merely contrasting and complementary forces that make up its collective existence, their activities harmonizing with each other to achieve a consummate balance in the greater function that is the mechanism of nature.

On the other hand, opposition and forces of it exist only from the interchange between multiple consciously existing entities, each holding a belief - whether the belief is one that's fanciful or justified being just as much a matter of opinion as the contrivance that is "belief" itself - that they are "right," and the other is "wrong."

The fundamental concept behind good and evil contradicts nature: "Good" considers "Evil" a poison to the world. Meanwhile, in nature, toxins maintain balance of species by acting as population control. The concept argues against its own right to exist: "Good" and "Evil" constantly strive to annihilate each other, but without one to define it, the other will cease to exist.

It is absolutely unnatural, and everything about defies rationality, down to the way it cancels itself out, yet continues to persist.

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Old 02-01-2009, 07:13 AM   #33
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HNNNGGGGGGGGG


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kokain
I don't quite understand this part and it makes me feel inadequate.
Then the fault lies in me; I did not explain it clearly enough.


Quote:
Originally Posted by koke
For the first half, do you mean: morality is only meaningful when mankind is considered as a whole, because looking at just one individual's morality tells you nothing except how that particular individual happens to behave, which is rather useless information. Therefore you need a holistic perspective in order to get a useful morality that is "universal", so to speak, and applicable across all normally functioning humans.
Sadly my idea is not as great as that one. :[
It's a simple, almost superficial idea, but it's hard for me to explain it. Those are the worst types of ideas!

It’s more like this: the concept of morals is a social construct, used as a means to judge a person’s worth. Isolate a man, and the concept of morals will cease to be useful to him.

The hermit can cause no suffering to anyone but himself, and any harm he experiences is either self-inflicted, and therefore consensual (consent negates malicious intent); or accidental (no intention anywhere -- amoral harm).

Quote:
Originally Posted by kokehead
The rest of it makes sense to me. It does lead to the possibility of there being perfectly moral people who perform only immoral actions (and vice versa), but that in itself is not too counter-intuitive.

One thing that occurred to me...your viewpoint seems to be mostly utilitarian, so you concern yourself with minimizing suffering and maximizing happiness. But you apply morality not only to consequences, but also intent, which the original utilitarians did not do.

This raises a question. If you have person A who has pure intent but somehow repeatedly performs immoral and harmful actions, does that make him preferable to person B, a sadistic sociopath who somehow only ends up performing moral actions? If your criteria are strictly utilitarian, you'd pick person B, because intent alone doesn't increase or decrease happiness; it's the consequences that count. But since you introduced the moral person vs. moral action distinction, the distinction must be there for something; in what cases is it useful? Would you ever pick person A over person B?
Ohh, awesome. I think considering intent lets us figure out whether the immoral act was culpable or not, and could be particularly useful when determining the proper punishment to be given to that person. Example: if a person shot another out of self defence, then he should receive a lighter punishment than if he had malice aforethought.

Person B is preferable, because his sadistic tendencies equate to nothing if they are never expressed (this is only applicable to sadistic intent, see paragraph above for ‘wholesome’ intent). But, I still see it fit to teach him to understand pain, even though he cannot necessarily feel pain.

The suffering he causes will be less that of person A, and this is why actions should be considered over character because it is ultimately their actions which directly affect society. Perhaps I lean towards a utilitarian view, but I still think that intention is important.

This is why I don’t believe people who commit suicide to be immoral. As I said earlier, consent negates malicious intent. The act is only immoral if it negatively affects a loved one.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kohkaine
The Chronicles of Narnia. I never finished reading Mere Christianity, but if you want to you can browse a pdf of it.

The section I remembered was in the beginning under the heading "The Law of Human Nature", similar to what you were saying earlier:

Spoiler:
I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilisations and different ages have had quite different moralities.

But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him.

You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to—whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.
Thanks for that.

I have no trouble regarding mathematics as absolute, but the reason I was hesitant to label morality as absolute was because of the complications of language.

Mathematics need not worry about these complications. Numbers are concrete, solid; they represent one notion and stick to it.

Words are conceptually malleable; they can be misinterpreted or interpreted in more ways than one. What is selfishness? What is greed? Many disputes over morality are simply disputes over wording and meaning.

Stealing is dishonest. What does dishonest mean? When you realize that dishonesty is wrong only because it’s capable of causing suffering, then you will understand the objectivity of morality.

I believe we have an objective morality, but the subjectivity lies in the way we express or convey it.

I can't sleep.

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Old 02-03-2009, 05:40 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mashed Potato View Post
Sadly my idea is not as great as that one. :[
Yours is actually better, it's more defined! (Or you knew that, and were just complimenting me on a crappy idea to spare my feelings? ) What I said was so vague it could apply to your framework, really. And my last huge-ass sentence ("Therefore you need a holistic blah blah blah") basically amounts to "morality is a social construct," so -5 for verbosity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pothead Atoms
It's more like this: the concept of morals is a social construct, used as a means to judge a person's worth. Isolate a man, and the concept of morals will cease to be useful to him.

The hermit can cause no suffering to anyone but himself, and any harm he experiences is either self-inflicted, and therefore consensual (consent negates malicious intent); or accidental (no intention anywhere -- amoral harm).
Cool, I think I (mostly) get it now, and could pass a test on Mashyism if necessary.

One thing I'm unclear on is the "consent negates malicious intent" clause. You use it twice, in the above case and also in the suicide's case. I'll talk about the latter first since it's a little easier to dissect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Moo Adapts
This is why I don't believe people who commit suicide to be immoral. As I said earlier, consent negates malicious intent. The act is only immoral if it negatively affects a loved one.
What does "malicious intent" refer to in this scenario? I would say that the suicide's intentions towards himself are actually wholesome, since he wants to reduce his own suffering (which to me is as "good" as increasing pleasure).

Now if the guy is a total hermit, and committed suicide voluntary because his life made him suffer, that makes his suicide "amoral good" by default, right? Amoral because he's not involved in the social construct of morality, and good since it reduced his suffering at being alive.

Returning to this case:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Osteopath
The hermit can cause no suffering to anyone but himself, and any harm he experiences is either self-inflicted, and therefore consensual (consent negates malicious intent)
In this case I'm unsure what kind of negation is taking place. Is it that consenting to suffering implies that on some level, you want to suffer? So if you derive some satisfaction (pleasure=moral good) from maliciously hurting yourself (suffering=immoral harm), then the moral content cancels out to nothing (though you're still left with the question of whether the hermit's self-inflicted harm is amoral good or amoral harm, or whether that cancels out too).

Was that your reasoning? Or am I way off?

And if consent negates malicious intent, then nonconsent must negate benevolent intent.

I actually sat here a while trying to think of weird societies to test your system with. Like a freakshow "society" of two people, and one is a sadist while the other is a masochist. Or both of whom are sadists. Then I used Mashyistic principles to analyze whether their natural behavior would make them moral or immoral, and in which situations was torture moral. I didn't find any contradictions, so I think your basic ideas are solid (or at least, my interpretation of how they work is solid).

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Pasta Doom
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Old 02-10-2009, 11:22 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mashed Potato View Post
HNNNGGGGGGGGG


Then the fault lies in me; I did not explain it clearly enough.


Sadly my idea is not as great as that one. :[
It's a simple, almost superficial idea, but it's hard for me to explain it. Those are the worst types of ideas!

It’s more like this: the concept of morals is a social construct, used as a means to judge a person’s worth. Isolate a man, and the concept of morals will cease to be useful to him.

The hermit can cause no suffering to anyone but himself, and any harm he experiences is either self-inflicted, and therefore consensual (consent negates malicious intent); or accidental (no intention anywhere -- amoral harm).

Ohh, awesome. I think considering intent lets us figure out whether the immoral act was culpable or not, and could be particularly useful when determining the proper punishment to be given to that person. Example: if a person shot another out of self defence, then he should receive a lighter punishment than if he had malice aforethought.

Person B is preferable, because his sadistic tendencies equate to nothing if they are never expressed (this is only applicable to sadistic intent, see paragraph above for ‘wholesome’ intent). But, I still see it fit to teach him to understand pain, even though he cannot necessarily feel pain.

The suffering he causes will be less that of person A, and this is why actions should be considered over character because it is ultimately their actions which directly affect society. Perhaps I lean towards a utilitarian view, but I still think that intention is important.

This is why I don’t believe people who commit suicide to be immoral. As I said earlier, consent negates malicious intent. The act is only immoral if it negatively affects a loved one.


Thanks for that.

I have no trouble regarding mathematics as absolute, but the reason I was hesitant to label morality as absolute was because of the complications of language.

Mathematics need not worry about these complications. Numbers are concrete, solid; they represent one notion and stick to it.

Words are conceptually malleable; they can be misinterpreted or interpreted in more ways than one. What is selfishness? What is greed? Many disputes over morality are simply disputes over wording and meaning.

Stealing is dishonest. What does dishonest mean? When you realize that dishonesty is wrong only because it’s capable of causing suffering, then you will understand the objectivity of morality.

I believe we have an objective morality, but the subjectivity lies in the way we express or convey it.

I can't sleep.
you mentioned that morals are a social construct and that they are objective. isn't that contradictory? if morality is a social construct, then wouldn't different societies with different needs construct different moral values? and if each society has different sets of morality, then morality loses its objectivity. if morality is to be truly objective, then it cannot be a social construct.

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Old 03-05-2009, 03:35 AM   #36
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I noticed that earlier in the thread, this point was brought up:

Quote:
"There are no absolutes"
The above statement cannot be true because it itself is an absolute statement.
The logical conclusion is that the statement "There are no absolutes" is false. This seems like sound logic, one that can be used against every instance of relativism. However, it's not that simple. I will show why this is bad argument.

1) Logic says the following:
  • a) To refute a point, you cannot assume the opposite because doing so would be circular reasoning. (e.g. You cannot disprove the existence of God by first assuming that he doesn't exist.)
  • b) To refute a point, you must arrive at the conclusion that it is absolutely false. Weaker conclusions (i.e. it might be false, it is not absolutely false, etc...) does not make the statement logically false.

2) The point to be refuted is "There are no absolutes."

3) Logic itself can either be absolutely true or not absolutely true.

4) Suppose you attempt to refute the point. If you accept logic to be the former, then in using logic, you are assuming that "There are some absolutes, logic is one such absolute." This is assuming the opposite to which you are refuting, and thus by point 1a), this does not constitute a logically valid refutation.

5) If logic is not an absolute, then by corollary, any conclusion obtained through logic is also not an absolute, so therefore "There are no absolutes" being false, as concluded by the logical argument in the first quote, is also not an absolute. Therefore, it is not absolutely false that there are no absolutes, and thus by point 1b), this does not constitute a logically valid refutation.

6) By 4), if logic is absolutely true, logic cannot disprove the statement "There are no absolutes" through this argument.

7) By 5), if logic is not absolutely true, logic cannot disprove the statement "There are no absolutes" through this argument.

8) By 3), it is clear that 6) and 7) encompasses all possible cases of logic. Therefore, in conclusion, logic cannot disprove the statement that there are no absolutes through this argument.

--------------------------

Now, on morality, and the existence of good and evil:

I assert that, in most cases, whenever a person says "Murder is wrong!" What he is really saying is that "I'd rather that murder does not happen."

Similarly, whenever a person says "That is the right thing to do." What he is really saying is that "I'm glad you did it."

So morality is not really a question of what is right and wrong as dictated by some golden standard. Instead, morality is more of a question of what we like and don't like to see happen. The word "like" implies that morality is ultimately a result of irrational emotions as opposed to rational logic.

One thing that supports it is that when people are prompted to make a moral claim due to the agreed-upon source of morality - conscience, the situation that triggers such happening usually does not have enough time for rational analysis. For instance, if someone is trying to steal a chocolate bar, conscience isn't you thinking that "this is a shop, the person is planning to not pay, therefore this is an instance of stealing, and stealing is wrong." In fact, by the time you go through this logical progression, the person is probably long gone. Instead, if the source is conscience, then the common experience is that unconscious forces in your brain instantly makes you recognize the situation to be similar to previous situations you've seen or imagined, and then link it to a intense sense of dislike for the situation that you've felt before, and that causes you to outburst with a thought that this is wrong. We don't think that this is wrong, we feel that this is wrong.

Clearly, conscience is an irrational, emotional force. If the source of morality is something like this, then obviously it can't be objective. It's certainly subjective.

What makes it kinda objective is the fact that human beings has lots of things in common in terms of likes and dislikes. For instance, we all pretty much dislike pain and death, so this is probably why we commonly consider murder to be wrong. Anyone at death's door would want to die a comfortable death, and this is probably why we consider a person who comforts the dying to be "doing the right thing."

What else makes it kinda objective is the fact that human beings communicate and interact with each other, and hence in the process, popular morals are promoted and unpopular morals die out. Shops allow sellers and customers to interact with each other. If everybody follows procedures (paying for a purchase), shops make money and customers get product, and both sides lose nothing. However, acts of stealing would lead to losses and potential conflict. Now suppose there is one person who believes stealing to be wrong, and another person who believes stealing to be right. Clearly, the former will be a much more popular idea, and adopted by much more people, than the latter. Hence today we have just about everybody thinking that stealing is wrong, as opposed to right.

To survive in the world, you need a good sense of common morality, so as a result this becomes a part of a child's education. And it becomes standardized and widespread as a result. Note that these above things make morality very common - that most people's set of moral opinions are very similar to other's, but it does not make morality objective by essence, because ultimately, the source of morality is irrational and emotional.

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Old 03-12-2009, 12:49 AM   #37
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well as for me it comes down to this.



HOW DO YOU SEE THE WORLD?

good and evil or good within evil and evil within good.

I pick the latter

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Old 03-14-2009, 05:52 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitarashi Anko View Post
The operation of nature does not contain opposition, merely contrasting and complementary forces that make up its collective existence, their activities harmonizing with each other to achieve a consummate balance in the greater function that is the mechanism of nature.
I could say the exact opposite and be just as right as you are. Example:
Quote:
The operation of nature does not contain complementarity forces; it merely contains opposing forces that make up particular existences, their activities conflicting with each other to survive in the absurd chaos that is the mechanism of nature.
This view has been held numerous times in the past. You're going to say "well that's just how you project your thoughts on the world". But the same thing goes for your interpretation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitarashi Anko View Post
Meanwhile, in nature, toxins maintain balance of species by acting as population control. The concept argues against its own right to exist: "Good" and "Evil" constantly strive to annihilate each other, but without one to define it, the other will cease to exist.
Except when a sudden excess of toxins (or heat or whatever), brought by, say, a meteor, puts the whole mechanism off-balance and causes life to disappear altogether. Your notion of a perfect natural balance has been outdated for centuries; besides, it is morally valued, and thus you are contradicting yourself in your opposition between moral values and "nature".

A moral system revolving exclusively on "what is right" and "what is wrong" is bound to be incompatible with one which gives a great place to the notion of harmony. However, both need the notions of "good" and "evil" up to a certain point, if only because harmony requires imbalance, following your own reasoning.

***


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mashed Potato
When you realize that dishonesty is wrong only because it’s capable of causing suffering, then you will understand the objectivity of morality.
I don't agree that dishonesty is wrong only because it's capable of causing suffering.

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Old 03-14-2009, 06:03 AM   #39
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Good and evil...
Evil and good...
They exist within each other.
You see, if I get a job you were applying to, then that makes me evil for you essencially.
But for me there's nothing evil.
Good is what you do and good comes of it not for everyone , just as long as you get GOOD.
There is no such way that there are two sides.
It's like black and white have so many gray tones between them.
Now if you add other colors too you'll go nuts with the choices .

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Old 03-14-2009, 07:32 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by -Demian- View Post
You see, if I get a job you were applying to, then that makes me evil for you essencially.
I don't see that.

You should be more modest and precise in your wording, since as it is, your post makes very little sense.

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