Sam Harris on objective morality

Since objective morality is The Topic That Won’t Die here at TSZ, I think we need Yet Another Thread to Discuss It.

A Sam Harris quote to get things rolling (h/t walto):

There are two mistakes I see moral subjectivists making. The first mistake is believing in the fact-value dichotomy. The second mistake is conflating moral philosophy and psychology, suggesting that our psychology ought to be the sole determinant of our beliefs.

I’ll only address the fact-value dichotomy mistake here. Subjectivists typically exaggerate the gap between facts and values. While there is a useful distinction to be made between facts and values, it’s usually taken too far.

Let me explain. Facts in science are held in high epistemic regard by non-religious people, including me. But scientific facts are theory-laden. And theory choice in science is value-laden. What values inform choices of scientific theory? Verifiability, falsifiability, explanatory value, predictive value, consistency (logical, observational, mathematical), parsimony, and elegance. Do these values, each taken alone, necessarily make or prove a scientific theory choice correct? No. But collectively, they increase the probability that a theory is the most correct or useful. So, as the philosopher Hilary Putnam has put it, facts and values are “entangled.” Scientific facts obtain their veracity through the epistemic values listed above. If I reject those epistemic values (as many religious people do), and claim instead that a holy book holds more epistemic value for me, does that mean science is subjective?

I maintain the same is true of morality. Moral facts, such as “X is right or good,” are at least value-laden, and sometimes also theory-laden, just like scientific facts. What values inform choices of moral belief and action? Justice, fairness, empathy, flourishing of conscious creatures, and integrity (i.e. consistency of attitudes, beliefs, and behavior between each other and over time). Do these values, each taken alone, necessarily make or prove a moral choice correct? No. But collectively, they increase the probability that a moral choice is the most correct or useful. So again, as the philosopher Hilary Putnam has put it, facts and values are “entangled.” Moral facts obtain their veracity through the values listed above (and maybe through other values as well; the list above is not necessarily complete).

Now, the subjectivist can claim that the moral values are subjective themselves, but that is no different than the religious person claiming scientific values are subjective. The truth is that we have no foundation for any knowledge whatsoever, scientific or moral. All we have to support scientific or moral knowledge is a web of entangled facts and values, with values in science and morality being at the core of our web. Our values are also the least changeable, for if we modify them, we cause the most disruption to our entire web. It’s much easier to modify the factual periphery of our web.

If we reject objectivity in morality, we must give up objectivity in science as well, and claim that all knowledge is subjective, since all knowledge is ultimately based in values. I reject this view, and claim that the scientific and moral values listed above provide veracity to the scientific and moral claims I make. Religious people disagree with me on the scientific values providing veracity, and moral subjectivists disagree with me on the moral values providing veracity. But disagreement doesn’t mean there is no truth to the matter.

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543 thoughts on “Sam Harris on objective morality

  1. walto: Thus, although moral claims are quite different from empirical claims (and unlike Harris–but like keiths–I don’t think they’re reducible, etc.), both types are dependent on axioms or categorical choices that cannot be proved.

    You are not far from the kingdom 😉

    walto: I don’t see why categories can’t change.

    It’s not the categories that change it’s simply our relationship to them. We are moving either closer or farther from the truth behind it all.

    peace

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  2. keiths:

    Yes, that’s wrong. If a moral truth were logically necessary, for instance, then it would qualify as objective but not empirical.

    fifth:

    I guess that makes sense. In that case the moral truth would be “established” by what exactly?

    By logic. It would be a logical truth, not an empirical one.

    How In your opinion can an axiom be “established”?

    Can axioms be “established” at all according to your worldview?

    Sure, and I just gave an example. Euclidean geometry takes the flatness of space as axiomatic, via the parallel postulate, but cosmology may establish that empirically. Current measurements show that space is flat to within half a percent.

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  3. keiths: By logic.

    OK
    Is logic “established”? How?

    keiths: Euclidean geometry takes the flatness of space as axiomatic, via the parallel postulate, but cosmology may establish that empirically.

    Wouldn’t that just “establish” that our universe is indeed Euclidean?

    I’m not sure how it would “establish” the axioms of Euclidean geometry. They are after all axiomatic.

    peace

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  4. I’m not claimimg that all axioms can be established. You asked whether an axiom could be established, and I gave you an example of how it could happen.

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  5. Rumraket, to fifth:

    As opposed to the mindless and endless declaration “God did it and I know because he reveals it” which you can’t substantiate with anything, you can merely repeat the claim endlessly.

    Wow, well done, really that’s so brilliant. That dumb game can be played by anyone. My favorite entity ensures it’s true and reveals it to me in such a way that I can know it. You can apply that ludicrous crap to anything.

    Right. Here’s an example that shows just how pitiful fifth’s logic is.

    Suppose I come across a book entitled God’s Infallible Word. Inside it I find the following statement:

    This book contains God’s infallible Word as dictated to his earthly prophet Steve. Everything contained herein is true and absolutely trustworthy.

    The book also contains scores of moral prescriptions and proscriptions, such as

    Thou shalt not mix plaids and stripes; it is an abomination. I am the Lord.

    A commenter named ‘fourthdemocracyguy’ gets a copy of the book and proceeds to harangue sartorial sinners who mix plaids and stripes. They ask him how he knows that the plaid/stripe mixing is immoral. He points to the book.

    They ask him how he knows the book is trustworthy. He quotes the book:

    This book contains God’s infallible Word as dictated to his earthly prophet Steve. Everything contained herein is true and absolutely trustworthy.

    They ask him how he knows that is true and he quotes it again. This goes on ad infinitum. The regress never terminates.

    Intelligent people can see the problem immediately. Fifth can’t — or won’t.

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  6. keiths: You asked whether an axiom could be established, and I gave you an example of how it could happen.

    I’m not sure you did that. Establishing that space is flat is not establishing an axiom it’s confirming that our universe corresponds to a particular geometry.

    peace

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  7. keiths: They ask him how he knows the book is trustworthy. He quotes the book:

    But that is not what I would do at all. Quoting a book to confirm the same book is circular. Appealing to one revelation to confirm another revelation is not.

    For example if you asked me how I know that Gödel really said( ie revealed).“I don’t believe in empirical science. I only believe in a priori truth.”

    I could point to his incompleteness theorem to show what he might say about axioms.

    or I might point to this quote:

    “But, despite their remoteness from sense experience, we do have something like a perception of the objects of set theory, as is seen from the fact that the axioms force themselves upon us as being true. I don’t see any reason why we should have less confidence in this kind of perception, i.e., in mathematical intuition, than in sense perception.”

    That sort of thing is not circular

    Get it?

    peace

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  8. fifth:

    But that is not what I would do at all. Quoting a book to confirm the same book is circular. Appealing to one revelation to confirm another revelation is not.

    You aren’t “appealing to one revelation to confirm another revelation”. You’re appealing to what you think is a revelation to confirm what you think is another revelation.

    In appealing to the book, fourthdemocracyguy is using the same bad logic. It’s a very stupid mistake.

    ETA: And anyone who makes a logic mistake that obvious and that grotesque has no business invoking Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. They’re way above your pay grade.

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  9. keiths: You aren’t “appealing to one revelation to confirm another revelation”. You’re appealing to what you think is a revelation to confirm what you think is another revelation.

    Actually even this in not accurate. I’m my worldview it is axiomatic that God can reveal stuff so that I can know it.

    I do appeal to that axiom at times not simply because I think it’s revelation but because I know of no other axiom(s) that can serve as a foundation for stuff like knowledge or morality.

    Just like walto my axiom is tentative.

    It’s subject to revision if and when another foundation is offered that is able to accomplish the task that revelation does in my worldview.

    In this very thread you have for all intents and purposes granted that you don’t think such a foundation is forthcoming.

    Till one is offered I’m fully justified in sticking with my axiom and rejecting theorems that are inconsistent with it.

    peace

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  10. Think of it like this.

    Folks are justified in treating as axiomatic the idea that space is flat until another geometry is offered that fully accounts for what we experience in our universe as well as euclidean geometry does.

    do you understand?

    peace

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  11. keiths:

    You aren’t “appealing to one revelation to confirm another revelation”. You’re appealing to what you think is a revelation to confirm what you think is another revelation.

    In appealing to the book, fourthdemocracyguy is using the same bad logic. It’s a very stupid mistake.

    fifth:

    Actually even this in not accurate. I’m my worldview it is axiomatic that God can reveal stuff so that I can know it.

    Even if that were true, it wouldn’t help you. We’ve been explaining this to you for months. It’s mind-boggling that you still don’t get it.

    Suppose that God can reveal things to you so that you know them. Now suppose that

    1) You think God revealed X to you.

    2) You think that God revealed that #1 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    3) You think that God revealed that #2 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    4) You think that God revealed that #3 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    …and so on, ad infinitum.

    Could those thoughts be false? Yes, easily. The fact that God can reveal things to you doesn’t mean that God did reveal these things to you. You can be mistaken about revelation, as you yourself have admitted.

    Appealing to an infinite regress doesn’t work if every link in the chain might be false.

    This is so freakin’ obvious that even colewd might get it. Why is it so hard for you?

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  12. And note that fourthdemocracyguy can use your same atrocious logic to “validate” his anti-stripe/plaid-mixing crusade.

    He starts with this premise:

    God can use a book to reveal things to me so that I know them.

    He then “reasons” as follows:

    1) I think that through this book, God revealed to me that mixing plaids and stripes is immoral.

    2) I think that through this book, God revealed that #1 is a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    3) I think that through this book, God revealed that #2 is a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    4) I think that through this book, God revealed that #3 is a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    …and so on, ad infinitum.

    It’s idiotic reasoning. The same idiotic reasoning you are using.

    Do you see why we roll our eyes?

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  13. keiths: He starts with this premise:

    God can use a book to reveal things to me so that I know them.

    OK so far.
    God could reveal things in lots of ways.

    keiths: 1) I think that through this book, God revealed to me that mixing plaids and stripes is immoral.

    This does not follow from his axiom at all but is instead just an unsupported hunch. Hence the phrase “I think”

    keiths: It’s idiotic reasoning.

    I completely agree. Its a good thing I don’t use similar reasoning

    keiths: Do you see why we roll our eyes?

    Perhaps because you are tilting at a straw man?

    peace

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  14. fifth:

    I completely agree. Its a good thing I don’t use similar reasoning

    Your logic is identical.

    This does not follow from his axiom at all but is instead just an unsupported hunch. Hence the phrase “I think”

    Yours is an unsupported hunch, just like his. You think you are receiving revelations from God. So does he.

    keiths:

    It’s idiotic reasoning.

    fifth:

    I completely agree.

    Good. Now connect the dots:

    1) fourthdemocracyguy’s reasoning is idiotic.
    2) Your reasoning is identical to his.
    3) Therefore, your reasoning is idiotic.

    Your faith is based on idiotic reasoning.

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  15. keiths: Yours is an unsupported hunch, just like his. You think you are receiving revelations from God. So does he.

    1) That is simply not true.
    2) how do you know this?

    keiths: just like his. You think you are receiving revelations from God.

    I never said I think I am receiving revelation from God.
    I said AFAIK if I know anything at all it is because God revealed it………and I know this

    Do you see the difference?
    (hint: think is not the same thing as know)

    keiths: 1) fourthdemocracyguy’s reasoning is idiotic.
    2) Your reasoning is identical to his.
    3) Therefore, your reasoning is idiotic.

    You second premise is false therefore your conclusion is unsupported and your syllogism is invalid.

    A valid syllogism would look like this

    1) basing an argument merely on what one thinks instead of what one knows is idiotic reasoning.
    2) Keith’s argument is based on the fact that he thinks (rather than knows) that FMM’s reasoning is identical to fourthdemocracyguy’s .
    3) Therefore, keiths reasoning is idiotic..

    did you get that?

    peace

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  16. fifth:

    I never said I think I am receiving revelation from God…

    (hint: think is not the same thing as know)

    It amazes me that you think that this will somehow solve your problem.

    Let’s change the two arguments accordingly:

    Your new argument:

    1) I know that God revealed X to me.

    2) I know that God revealed that #1 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    3) I know that God revealed that #2 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    4) I know that God revealed that #3 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    …and so on, ad infinitum.

    fourthdemocracyguy’s new argument:

    1) I know that through this book, God revealed to me that mixing plaids and stripes is immoral.

    2) I know that through this book, God revealed that #1 is a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    3) I know that through this book, God revealed that #2 is a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    4) I know that through this book, God revealed that #3 is a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    …and so on, ad infinitum.

    It should be overwhelmingly obvious that asserting that you have knowledge is not the same thing as actually having that knowledge.

    It’s the same idiotic reasoning in both arguments.

    Your faith is based on idiotic reasoning, fifth. Slow down and think this through instead of dashing off another half-assed response.

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  17. keiths: Your faith is based on idiotic reasoning, fifth. Slow down and think this through instead of dashing off another half-assed response.

    After years of interaction with a guy like fifth, a normal person would know that you are asking too much.

    As to the OP, do you find anything in Sam Harris’ reasoning to be sustainable? Does the quote have your backing?

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  18. Erik,

    Does the quote have your backing?

    No, I think Harris got this one wrong. As I explained above, I don’t think moral “truths” can ever be objective in the same way that scientific facts are.

    To steer the discussion a little bit, I’d like to pose two questions to defenders of objective morality:

    1) What are the distinguishing predictions of the hypothesis that objective morality exists? Is there any way to confirm that it does exist? If so, how would you do it? Has it been done, in your opinion?

    2) Assuming that objective morality exists, do we have access to it? If so, how exactly does that work?

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  19. keiths: It should be overwhelmingly obvious that asserting that you have knowledge is not the same thing as actually having that knowledge.

    I completely agree
    That is why I often ask how you know. The answer I get is either infinite regress or crickets

    FMM: I know that God can reveal stuff so that I can know it
    Keiths: You don’t know that you only think it
    FMM: How do you know I don’t know
    Keiths: crickets

    keiths: It’s the same idiotic reasoning in both arguments.

    No it’s not, fourthdemocracyguy does not know any of the things he claims to know. This can be easily demonstrated.

    fourthdemocracyguy: I know that through this book, God revealed to me that mixing plaids and stripes is immoral.

    FMM: how do you know that “this book” is God’s genuine revelation?
    fourthdemocracyguy: revelation
    FMM: What revelation exactly?
    fourthdemocracyguy: Crickets

    keiths: It’s the same idiotic reasoning in both arguments.

    As Ive so easily shown you are simply mistaken.

    fourthdemocracyguy does not know what he claims to know and that can be easily demonstrated by comparing his supposed revelation with actual revelation.

    On the other hand you claim to know that FMM does not know what he claims to know but you have no way to show you know anything at all.

    peace

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  20. keiths: Slow down and think this through instead of dashing off another half-assed response.

    Trust me I have spent a lot of time thinking through these issues. You on the other hand don’t seem to have thought about it much at all as witnessed by your apparent complete lack of understanding of what is in play here.

    Perhaps the most important thing you need to understand is the difference between Presuppositionalism and Fideism.

    You seem to be confusing one with the other

    peace

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  21. fifthmonarchyman:
    fourthdemocracyguy: I know that through this book, God revealed to me that mixing plaids and stripes is immoral.

    FMM: how do you know that “this book” is God’s genuine revelation?
    fourthdemocracyguy: revelation
    FMM: What revelation exactly?
    fourthdemocracyguy: The revelation from God I and all humans receive, yet some rebel against and suppress
    FMM: Crickets

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  22. fifthmonarchyman: I completely agree
    That is why I often ask how you know. The answer I get is either infinite regress or crickets

    No, you don’t agree.
    You outright disagree, which is why the answer you GIVE is either infinite regress or crickets.

    Noone else here is advancing an infinite regression argument but you. NO-ONE on this site, has ever responded to you asking “how do you know” with repetition of the same claim over and over again. YOU are the one who does that. YOU are the one who brainlessly repeats that you receive revelations when asked how you know. When asked how you know about the nature of the revelation, you just repeat: Revelation. This has happened on multiple instances. You make a claim, and when asked to back it up, you repeat the claim. Revelation backed up by revelation.

    This is when discussion usually breaks down, because people get tired of having a discussion with a person who is unable to do anything but repeat the same assertion over and over again.

    If you disagree, let’s play the game one more time:
    Fifthmonarchyman, how do you know anything? Indulge me.

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  23. fifth,

    The same logic — logic that you acknowledge is idiotic — is being used in both arguments. If you disagree, tell us precisely where the logic of one argument diverges from the other. Name the exact step.

    Premise:

    FMM: God can reveal things to me so that I know them.

    4DG: God can use a book to reveal things to me so that I know them.

    Step 1:

    FMM: I know that God revealed X to me.

    4DG: I know that through this book, God revealed to me that mixing plaids and stripes is immoral.

    Step 2:

    FMM: I know that God revealed that #1 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    4DG: I know that through this book, God revealed that #1 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    Step 3:

    FMM: I know that God revealed that #2 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    4DG: I know that through this book, God revealed that #2 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    Step 4:

    FMM: I know that God revealed that #3 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    4DG: I know that through this book, God revealed that #3 was a genuine revelation and not a brain fart.

    Coda:

    FMM: …and so on, ad infinitum.

    4DG: …and so on, ad infinitum.

    Again:
    The same logic — logic that you acknowledge is idiotic — is being used in both arguments. If you disagree, tell us precisely where the logic of one argument diverges from the other. Name the exact step.

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  24. walto,

    But I mean stripes and plaids together are, you know. Eew.

    Yes, and definitely immoral. Just not by 4DG’s (and FMM’s) bad logic.

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  25. fifthmonarchyman: FMM: how do you know that “this book” is God’s genuine revelation?
    fourthdemocracyguy: revelation
    FMM: What revelation exactly?
    fourthdemocracyguy: Crickets

    What is your answer to your question,what revelation exactly?

    fifthmonarchyman: fourthdemocracyguy does not know what he claims to know and that can be easily demonstrated by comparing his supposed revelation with actual revelation.

    How do you know which one you have,supposed or supposed actual?

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  26. I don’t want to speak for FMM but according to Calvinism the Bible is ‘self-authenticating’.

    Yeah.

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  27. How does one compare one revelation against another? FMM seems to be implying that if two people each claim to have a revelation and they are different there is a mechanism to resolve the issue. What is that then?

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  28. OMagain:
    How does one compare one revelation against another? FMM seems to be implying that if two people each claim to have a revelation and they are different there is a mechanism to resolve the issue. What is that then?

    FMM will reveal the answer.

    Glen Davidson

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  29. keiths:

    To steer the discussion a little bit, I’d like to pose two questions to defenders of objective morality:

    1) What are the distinguishing predictions of the hypothesis that objective morality exists? Is there any way to confirm that it does exist? If so, how would you do it? Has it been done, in your opinion?

    2) Assuming that objective morality exists, do we have access to it? If so, how exactly does that work?

    And another question:

    3) How does one determine whether a specific action, such as having premarital sex, is objectively moral or immoral?

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  30. Rumraket: FMM: how do you know that “this book” is God’s genuine revelation?
    fourthdemocracyguy: revelation
    FMM: What revelation exactly?
    fourthdemocracyguy: The revelation from God I and all humans receive, yet some rebel against and suppress
    FMM: Crickets

    nope more lie this

    Keiths: how do you know that “The Gospel of Mathew” is God’s genuine revelation?
    FMM: revelation
    Keiths: What revelation exactly?
    FMM:

    1) The preceding revelation in the Hebrew Scriptures,
    2) The other books in the new Testament Cannon
    3) The general revelation found in nature
    4) The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit
    5) The testimony of the early Church fathers
    6) The testimony of other believers down through history
    etc
    etc
    etc

    peace

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  31. Rumraket: Noone else here is advancing an infinite regression argument but you. NO-ONE on this site, has ever responded to you asking “how do you know” with repetition of the same claim over and over again. YOU are the one who does that.

    Of course

    That is because someone has to point out that your worldview offers no foundation for knowledge. The point of the questions is to get you to think about your own presuppositions and how deficient they really are.

    You have no answer that satisfies the question but you don’t want to face up to that reality. You want to act like you have a foundation but you don’t that is why it’s important to ask.

    Rumraket: YOU are the one who brainlessly repeats that you receive revelations when asked how you know.

    no that is not correct.

    When you ask how I know, the answer is revelation, That is because revelation is the only way I know of to know anything. That does not mean that I have ever received any specific revelation.

    In fact It’s logically possible that no revelation has ever been given and no one can claim to know anything at all.

    However If that was the case we would not know it 😉

    Rumraket: When asked how you know about the nature of the revelation, you just repeat: Revelation. This has happened on multiple instances.

    Again, that is because the only way that I know of that anyone can know anything is through revelation,
    If there is no revelation there is no knowledge period,

    Rumraket: If you disagree, let’s play the game one more time:
    Fifthmonarchyman, how do you know anything? Indulge me.

    Revelation of course.
    now how do you know anything? Please be specific

    peace

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  32. keiths: If you disagree, tell us precisely where the logic of one argument diverges from the other. Name the exact step.

    every step. Your exercise is missing the crucial step of clarification

    for example:

    keiths: Step 1:

    FMM: I know that God revealed X to me.

    4DG: I know that through this book, God revealed to me that mixing plaids and stripes is immoral.

    Obvious follow up question how did you decide that it was a genuine revelation?

    FMM: among other things because it coheres and corresponds with other revelation, both general revelation accessible to everyone and special revelation accessible to the elect.

    4DG: crickets

    peace

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  33. newton: How do you know which one you have,supposed or supposed actual?

    By comparing new things that claim to be revelation with things that I already know to be revelation,

    For example: If someone was to claim that it was revealed to him that God could not reveal stuff so that we could know it.

    I would ask him how he could possibly know this.
    Get it?

    peace

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  34. OMagain: How does one compare one revelation against another? FMM seems to be implying that if two people each claim to have a revelation and they are different there is a mechanism to resolve the issue. What is that then?

    For one thing we can see if the revelation is consistent and not self refuting as I just did in my response to newton.

    We can also look at how each proposed revelation corresponds with other revelation that we both affirm.

    Also since we are talking about revelation from God anything that is not true would be ruled out as genuine revelation.

    peace

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  35. keiths: 3) How does one determine whether a specific action, such as having premarital sex, is objectively moral or immoral?

    As I said in the other thread I hold to virtue ethics in the Platonist tradition.

    I would say that an action was objectively moral for an individual to the extant that it lines up with the revealed purpose of that particular individual

    peace

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  36. keiths: 1) What are the distinguishing predictions of the hypothesis that objective morality exists?

    This is what I thought you were getting at with your talk about “establishing” objective morality. I was under the impression that you had backed off on this sort of Materialism when it came to morality

    Since you haven’t I will again just say that your method of “establishing” is jacked up

    peace

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  37. Woodbine: I don’t want to speak for FMM but according to Calvinism the Bible is ‘self-authenticating’.

    Scripture is ‘self-authenticating’ that does not mean that the only authentication that scripture has is it’s self.

    Peace

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  38. keiths: Is there any way to confirm that it does exist?

    There is no way to confirm objective morality exists unless you grant that God exists.
    But I would say that our sense of outrage when we see others behaving in ways that we consider to be immoral would be evidence that objective morality exists.

    We don’t feel the same kind of outrage when others disagree with our subjective culinary opinions.

    peace

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  39. fifthmonarchyman: Rumraket: If you disagree, let’s play the game one more time:
    Fifthmonarchyman, how do you know anything? Indulge me.

    Revelation of course.

    How do you know the revelation is, in fact, a revelation and reliable?

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  40. fifthmonarchyman: Of course

    That is because someone has to point out that your worldview offers no foundation for knowledge.

    Of course it does, but just like yours, that foundation is a presupposition neither of us can justify with something else.

    Neither of us can do any better than make some foundational assumption which we can’t externally justify. There is no other option.

    We might not have the same foundational assumption, but we are both in the same boat in that both of us have no other option than to make some. We have to start with something.

    The point of the questions is to get you to think about your own presuppositions and how deficient they really are.

    Yes, I get what you are trying to do, you just fail at turning that line of questioning towards yourself and seeing that you, too, can’t externally justify your foundational assumptions.

    That’s why they’re foundational. If you could justify them externally, the external thing you used to justify them would be the foundation then. And then that foundation would be unjustified.

    Why are you incapable of fathoming this?

    You have no answer that satisfies the question but you don’t want to face up to that reality.

    I do have an answer, it’s just not the answer you like. You presuppose the existence of God and that he accounts for and reveals knowledge and logic. I don’t. I just presuppose the foundations of logic. So we both have fundamental assumptions we can’t justify.

    You want to act like you have a foundation

    I do have a foundation, I make one up. Like you. The only difference is you are apparently unaware that you do. Just like me, you have no justification for your presupposition.

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  41. Whoa. Stop the presses! After months of using bad logic that he recently (and inadvertently) acknowledged is “idiotic”, fifth has now reversed himself.

    He writes:

    for example:

    keiths:

    Step 1:

    FMM: I know that God revealed X to me.

    4DG: I know that through this book, God revealed to me that mixing plaids and stripes is immoral.

    Obvious follow up question how did you decide that it was a genuine revelation?

    That “obvious follow up question” is exactly the question we’ve been asking you for months now, fifth. You’ve never been able to answer it, instead just robotically repeating “revelation…revelation…revelation…”

    Now you are (finally) acknowledging the need to answer it. Of course, you haven’t actually acknowledged your earlier mistake. That would be honest, after all. But you have ditched the idiotic logic of your old argument, which is at least an implicit admission of error.

    Good for you!

    The bad news is that having abandoned your robo-defense, you’re now on the hook for an actual answer to the question:

    How can you determine whether a purported revelation is genuine?

    Good luck. You’ll need it.

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  42. Rumraket: How do you know the revelation is, in fact, a revelation and reliable?

    One was is by looking to see if it is consistent with other known revelation.

    When you think your wife has reveled something to you but you are not sure you check to see if it is consistent with what she has reveled in the past and who she is.

    peace

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  43. keiths: That “obvious follow up question” is exactly the question we’ve been asking you for months now, fifth.

    Nope it’s not. What has been asked is how do you know X is revelation

    the answer to that question is obviously revelation as I have repeatedly said.

    keiths: Now you are (finally) acknowledging the need to answer it.

    I only need to answer a question if it has been asked. You have never asked How I decide if revelation is genuine.

    Instead you have repeatedly asked how I know if revelation is genuine. Those are two very different questions. One is about my knowledge the other is about my conscious choice.

    I know a revelation is genuine by……..revelation

    I determine if a revelation is genuine by checking to see if it is consistent with what I know is previous revelation.

    It’s simple and straightforward in my world view

    How do you know stuff in your worldview?

    peace

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  44. FWIW, Fifth–none of that coherence with other stuff helps at all. You are a foundationalist you–should know that you can’t keep any of the scaffolds in place by reference to other scaffolds. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got one thing to rely on or fifty.

    I think Rumraket puts this situation that you (and we are all) in quite well above. We either need presuppositions to know anything or we can depend on coherence. If the former, there’s no way to be a fallibalist and be as certain as you are about things.

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  45. fifth:

    I only need to answer a question if it has been asked. You have never asked How I decide if revelation is genuine.

    Instead you have repeatedly asked how I know if revelation is genuine. Those are two very different questions.

    For fuck’s sake, fifth. That type of Mungish word lawyering is a sign of desperation. Is it really that painful to admit your mistake?

    And by the way, even if the word lawyering were legitimate, your claim is untrue. We have asked you — repeatedly — how you decide whether revelation is genuine; not merely how you know it. You give the same inane answer to either question.

    The “know” question:

    KN:

    …but how do you know that what you take to be revelation is in fact a genuine revelation?

    fifth:

    I know by revelation

    See how easy that was?
    You verify revelation by revelation.

    The “decide” question:

    keiths:

    How can you reliably distinguish between genuine revelations and bogus ones?

    fifth:

    once again, For probably the 20th time.
    The answer is ———wait for it ——–revelation.
    You verify revelation with revelation.

    Your squirming dishonesty is not bringing glory to God, fifth.

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  46. keiths,

    Agreed. Such questions have been asked in every conceivable form in extremely high numbers. The idea that FMM would now say anything like, “Well, you never asked it right” is kind of pathetic.

    My guess is there will be a return to the prior methodology. {When in doubt, just say “Revelation” again.}

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  47. walto: I think Rumraket puts this situation that you (and we are all) in quite well above. We either need presuppositions to know anything or we can depend on coherence. If the former, there’s no way to be a fallibalist and be as certain as you are about things.

    OR, we can start by provisionally granting the reliability of our cognitive processes, and then, through the use of those processes, eventually construct increasingly better explanations of why those processes are reliable to the extent that they are, as well as describe far more precisely the constraints on their reliability and so construct better devices and techniques for correcting or augmenting those processes.

    Just a thought!

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