Theistic morality is subjective

Claiming that morality is what an objectively real deity objectively commands is all very well, but without a way of knowing which deity is objectively real, it gets us no further forrarder.

Could a theist who claims that theistic morality is objective explain how we can objectively discern which theistic morality is the objective one?

180 Replies to “Theistic morality is subjective”

  1. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    William you keep saying that unless we accept the premise of an objective morality we have no way to rationally justify our moral concepts except by Might makes Right.

    Almost. What William is saying is that unless we accept the premise of an objective arbiter of morality, we have no way to rationally justify our moral concepts as more valid than any other non-arbitrated moral code.

    In other words, if there is no moral baseline provided by an independent agency, on what basis can one say that his or her moral code is “better” than anyone else’s?

  2. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin,

    As a subjective moralist I don’t say that my moral codes are better than someone else’s, so that is beating a strawman. What we might say is that some action of ours is better than someone else’s, and the justification for saying so would be our moral code. We understand that the other guy would say a similar thing for himself but that doesn’t absolve him in our eyes, again because we refer to our moral code under which the other guy’s action is considered wrong.

    William would say that the other guy’s action is wrong because it violates some objective moral code that is self-evidently true. But clearly, this is invalid because for the other guy the same action is not self-evidently immoral! All William does is to proclaim his personal moral code ‘self-evidently true’ regardless of the fact that for some others it may not be (and therefore it clearly is not ‘self-evidently true’). And he explains this inconvenient fact away by calling the other person irrational, or some other derogatory term. The purpose of course is to try and legitimate his own moral code over the other guy’s one.

    This is standard theist holier-than-thou behaviour. They’re not man enough to build their own case so they call on a cosmic Big Brother to help them when the going gets tough. We had a word for that back in my school days.

    fG

  3. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    As a subjective moralist I don’t say that my moral codes are better than someone else’s, so that is beating a strawman.

    Well, no…technically it’s not beating a strawman. That’s been William’s point all along and he even allowed that if one is a moral relativist, then his argument applies only so far as the justification for enforcing morals under such a perspective is might makes right. If one is fine with that, great.

    And since might makes right is really the system that most folks are used to anyway, I personally don’t see that as a problem.

    What we might say is that some action of ours is better than someone else’s, and the justification for saying so would be our moral code. We understand that the other guy would say a similar thing for himself but that doesn’t absolve him, again because we refer to our moral code under which the other guy’s action is considered wrong.

    That’s a circular argument. If one is a “subjective moralist” (I prefer the term “moral relativist”, but whatever), then one freely admits that all moral systems are arbitrary. Now, one may prefer his or her moral system, but any honest “subjective moralist” will freely admit there’s no way to measure or quantify any real difference between two different moral systems. You may judge another person against your moral system because your moral system is the basis of how you think the world ought to behave, but that doesn’t actually make your system “better” in any real or measurable sense. So again, as William notes, justifying the enforcement of your system would merely come down to “might makes right”. Ok…

    William would say that the other guy’s action is wrong because it violates some objective moral code that is self-evidently true. But clearly, this is invalid because for the other guy the same action is not self-evidently immoral!

    Ahh…but now you have to get into the meat of (or at least the underlying principles of) Natural Law. Natural Law actually does provide – philosophically speaking – a basis for determining and laying out standards of morality. Now, you can dismiss that as so much rationalization – and many moral relativists do – but it is a significant basis of law in the world. The UK’s system of justice still heavily relies upon Natural Law.

    Natural Law then then does – at least for it’s adherents – provide a partial standard of judgement. And this is part of William’s point. My counter to that is that ultimately, without the Author of Natural Law being available to question regarding the details (my comment about God providing a Q&A session), situations will arise when Natural Law needs clarification. Without such, one is still left with arbitrary moral decisions, they just crop up far more infrequently.

    I do disagree that William is making a standard “Holier than thou” argument here. It’s subtle, but it’s different. He’s not claiming his god or his god’s moral code is better than an atheist’s moral code for example. Not at all. He’s not saying anything about any god in fact. He’s only noting that in order to rationally justify action on a given moral code, one needs an external standard against which said moral code can be upheld. Technically, that standard would not even need to be “God”, but William has a different argument for why he uses God as his standard.

    Now, do I ultimately care about William’s argument. Ehhh…not so much. But, do I now find William’s argument logically sound? Yeah, pretty much. It’s limited as I noted, but then so is Might makes Right.

  4. Richard Wein
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray: I’m saying that only the premise of an objective (as described, transcendent of conceptual framework) morality can rationally justify (rationally!, not “emotionally justify” or “rhetorically justify”) that intervention, unless one’s morality is “might makes right”.

    So you’re not arguing from the existence of God to an objective morality. You’re just taking objective morality as a starting premise. But atheist moral realists can do that too, if they so choose.

    (As a moral error theorist I say that theist and atheist moral realists are equally misguided in this respect. The concept of objective morality is incoherent, whether God exists or not. But I’m not going to make the argument for moral error theory here.)

  5. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    There seems to be confusion about that it is we would want to settle when confronted with an action we consider immoral. In no way am I interested to impress my moral code on the perpetrator, and frankly I don’t give it a snowflake’s chance in hell to succeed even if I were to try.

    What my personal moral code would urge me to do is to influence the perpetrator’s actions. Not his moral concepts. This seems to be a trivial difference but it is significant. I am justified in influencing his actions by my moral concepts (what other justification could there be? This is effectively true by definition!). Therefore there is no burden on me to justify my moral concepts over his, and it doesn’t matter if there is an independent arbiter between moral systems or not. As long as I can justify my moral system to myself I have all the rational justification I need to act. In other words, your objection misses the point.

    And to repeat, I have never seen anyone try to justify their actions by Might makes Right so I don’t even know why this is constantly brought up. If you ask: how do you justify your actions, I will respond: with my moral concepts, with my sense of right or wrong (which can be unpacked if so desired). And if you ask: how do you justify that your moral concepts are better than his, I will respond: I don’t see a need to, so the question is irrelevant.

    fG

  6. damitall2
    Ignored
    says:

    faded_Glory: I have never seen anyone try to justify their actions by Might makes Right…</blockquote

    How about "my God dictates a moral code, and he is Mighty, therefore you'd better follow it or else!"

  7. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    There seems to be confusion about that it is we would want to settle when confronted with an action we consider immoral. In no way am I interested to impress my moral code on the perpetrator, and frankly I don’t give it a snowflake’s chance in hell to succeed even if I were to try.

    I agree. And impressing one’s moral code on another is not what William is suggesting either.

    What my personal moral code would urge me to do is
    to influence the perpetrator’s actions. Not his moral concepts.

    Yep. That would be pretty much true for everyone with a moral code. That’s what a moral code does – it defines what one feels ought to be done in certain situations.

    I am justified in influencing his actions by my moral concepts (what other justification could there be? This is effectively true by definition!).

    And here’s where the misunderstanding begins. You may well feeljustified in influencing another person’s actions based on your moral code, but from a philosophical perspective – or rather from a third party perspective – there is nothing inherently more important or valid about your moral code than the other person’s moral code. So you may well feel personally justified, but the point William is addressing is that philosophically speaking, your moral actions cannot be objectively determined to be “right”. Thus, the only way, in a societal or philosophical sense, to justify the enforcement of your moral system is through “Might makes Right.”

    Therefore there is no burden on me to justify my moral concepts over his, and it doesn’t matter if there is an independent arbiter between moral systems or not. As long as I can justify my moral system to myself I have all the rational justification I need to act. In other words, your objection misses the point.

    Well, there is a burden if you are trying to justify the enforcement of your moral code to a third party. And really, that’s the whole point.

    And to repeat, I have never seen anyone try to justify their actions by Might makes Right so I don’t even know why this is constantly brought up.

    Of course you have. Everyone has. Every war is justified by MIght makes Right. All history is basically the product of Might makes Right. Heck, the enforcement of all societal laws boils down to Might makes Right. I can’t even think of another justification, except perhaps an appeal to an arbitrating deity.

    If you ask: how do you justify your actions, I will respond: with my moral concepts, with my sense of right or wrong (which can be unpacked if so desired).

    So let me ask you, what would you say is the basis of enforcement for stoning a woman for engaging in adultery? What would you say is the basis for enforcement of obtaining and oppressing someone in slavery? Forget that your moral code says that such is wrong (assuming that it does), I’m asking how you think such would be enforced and how they live with those behaviors?

    If you don’t think those are relevant issues, then I think you are missing the point that William is trying to drive home.

    And if you ask: how do you justify that your moral concepts are better than his, I will respond: I don’t see a need to, so the question is irrelevant.

    You certainly would not see a need to justify them to yourself, but I’m betting that a third party might question your justification.

  8. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    Two points:

    1. Every single person in the world justifies their actions through their moral code. That is what moral code is. If questioned by a third party, we can unpack the reasoning for our actions (if we have given these matters some thought) and that forms the justification. The trouble is that a third party may or may not accept our justification based on viewing our actions in the light of their own moral concepts. And I will view their judgement through the lens of mine. Similar with everyone else – according to their own moral concepts they will agree with the third party, or not. So going to a third party to try and get more justification than you get from your own moral concepts is just a colossal time waste.

    Now, if there was actually an objective morality and we had access to it, of course that could be used to arbitrage. The problem here is that there is no way to establish if this exists, and if it would, what it is. All that people like WJM do is arbitrarily declare that what they see as self-evident morality is objective. I can’t think of a more subjective thing to do! What they really do is try to add another layer to the issue, so instead of having to justify one’s actions against one’s moral concepts we should now justify our moral concepts against.. what exactly? Aha! against WJM’s moral concepts!

    Lololol. No, unless WJM is God (FSM help us), this simply doesn’t wash.

    As I said, this is a holier-than-thou attitude because he thinks he’s got it all figured out and anyone who disagrees hasn’t. Moreover, it absolves him from the need to actually build a justification for his actions other than proclaiming that they are self-evidently moral.

    No, this kite won’t fly. There is no deeper layer than one’s personal moral concepts, nothing more is required to justify one’s actions, and there is no independent arbiter who doesn’t follow his own subjective moral concepts in the first place when asked to arbitrage, and is therefore not actually independent.

    2. Might makes Right. I disagree that this is the bottom line justification for people’s actions against others and you need to give me some concrete examples where anyone has presented this as a justification. Let’s be unoriginal and consider WW2. The Nazis thought sincerely that they were right in doing what they did, for the improvement of the lot of the German people and the greater good of their nation etc. etc. When asked why they did what they did, they would present these type of justifications. They didn’t justify their actions by saying ‘we are right because we are stronger than you’. Conversely, the other side opposed the Nazis because they considered their actions morally unacceptable, and they would present justifications such as human values, the right to sovereignity of independent nations and such. Nobody would oppose the Nazis by saying ‘we are right because we have the might to stop you’.

    Might makes Right is a bizarre caricature to try and claim once again that one has a better justification for one’s moral concepts than someone else. Since such a justification isn’t required (one only needs to justify one’s actions), indeed is impossible as I demonstrated above, it is no more than a strawman.

  9. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin:

    So let me ask you, what would you say is the basis of enforcement for stoning a woman for engaging in adultery? What would you say is the basis for enforcement of obtaining and oppressing someone in slavery? Forget that your moral code says that such is wrong (assuming that it does), I’m asking how you think such would be enforced and how they live with those behaviors?

    You should ask those who engage in such activities, but I guarantee you that they would present detailed justifications with reasons why such actions are good. And if you would try to oppose them they may well engage in violent actions – not based on Might makes Right, but justified (by them) on their sense of right and wrong (which they could undoubtedly unpack with quotes from Koran or Bible and such like).

    Even people that you totally disagree with in the realm of morality are three-dimensional flesh and blood creatures, not caricatures. They act how they do because they follow their own moral compass, not because they just can by virtue of their power.

    Now, maybe I am misunderstanding how you use the term. If you mean that those who are in power get to determine what is right and wrong (regardless of how they would justify their actions), I still disagree – every individual determines for themselves what is right of wrong, regardless if they are in power or not. Morality is innate and non-transferable. It is part of what makes us human and individuals.

    Or, if all you mean is that those in power get to write the laws of the land, of course this is true. But what is good and bad under the law is by no means necessarily the same as what is good and bad under a moral system.

    fG

  10. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    “Reasons” and “rational justification” are not the same thing here, and that is part of what William has been pointing out. A moral code is not a “rational justification” for anything; it might be the basis or reason from which a person engages in particular behaviors, but then it’s just a subjective justification. If you said to someone, “I am justified in killing you because my moral code says what you are doing is wrong” most people would just laugh at you and then protect themselves. And then whomever ended up beating the other person would be “right” historically and philosophically.

    And THAT’S the whole point. Hitler thought he was justified by his moral code in exterminating the Jews and taking over Europe, but he wasn’t. And a whole bunch of countries got together and beat the tar out of him and the Nazis. And lo and behold, the winners of that enforcement conflict are now “right”, but their being “right” is no more rationally justified than Hitler’s moral perspective.

    Again, you can be of the opinion that you are justified – have at it. But that doesn’t actually give you any absolute justification from a third party perspective; you’d still have to enforce your morality using…wait for it…might. And THAT is what William is noting.

    The bottom line is, moral codes absent any external standard offer no (and here’s the key) rational justification for enforcement. They may offer subjective justification, but as William notes, then your moral system is logically incoherent. If you’re good with that, ok. I certainly am.

  11. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    Even people that you totally disagree with in the realm of morality are three-dimensional flesh and blood creatures, not caricatures. They act how they do because they follow their own moral compass, not because they just can by virtue of their power.

    Just a note here – you’re equivocating two separate concepts. “Acting on” and “justifying” are not synonymous. I agree that people “act” based on their moral codes, but that does not mean their actions are justified. Further, in order to change or stop someone else who is not behaving in accordance with your moral code requires might regardless of any moral construct. Absent any external arbitrator, there is nothing that can objectively and rational justify enforcement of any moral code. One is left with a subjective justification at best.

  12. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    One is left with a subjective justification at best.

    Well, indeed. Apologies for not following closely but surely nobody is claiming they have or can arrive at objective justification, are they?

  13. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    William is noting that one can only objectively and rationally justify a moral code if there is an external arbiter of what constitutes an absolute moral code. Now, he accepts that such an arbiter is God and has that argument elsewhere. The point is, without some absolute standard, one is left with subjective, and thus relative, moral systems.

  14. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    OK, I thought I’d missed something. So there’s is no objectively moral code other than one that someone claims to be such.

  15. hotshoe
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox,

    Well, indeed. Apologies for not following closely but surely nobody is claiming they have or can arrive at objective justification, are they?

    Well, Sam Harris does (that is, I believe he does, but I haven’t read his book and that may not be exactly what he says). Oh, I don’t see anyone in this thread claiming they can arrive at “objective justification”.

    Except WJM, of course, that being his whole point in scorning atheo-materialists who refuse to admit that torturing children is objectively wrong by any standard, and therefore, erm, god exists. Or god must exist to originate those objective morals. Or something. His logic and/or his phrasing is so unclear that it is impossible to follow, but it is clear that WJM believes in “objective justification”.

    Although he might choose to reappear in this thread to argue that he doesn’t believe in “objective justification”, because he hates to be understood and pinned down to any specific that he can’t wharrgarbl about … 🙂

  16. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Without an absolute external standard based on the voices in your head, you are stuck with consensus, and you have to talk to other people and negotiate standards.

    That sucks, compared to shooting the MFers who disagree with the voices in your head.

  17. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin:
    “Reasons” and “rational justification” are not the same thing here, and that is part of what William has been pointing out. A moral code is not a “rational justification” for anything; it might be the basis or reason from which a person engages in particular behaviors, but then it’s just a subjective justification. If you said to someone, “I am justified in killing you because my moral code says what you are doing is wrong” most people would just laugh at you and then protect themselves. And then whomever ended up beating the other person would be “right” historically and philosophically.

    As I said a few times, you would unpack your moral concept to demonstrate how you would reason from your morality to your action. Of course saying “I think it is moral to kill you” without any further elaboration is not a rational argument. If you would state that the foundation of your morality is to minimise suffering, and you were talking to a 25 year old Hitler knowing what he would do later in life, I think you could easily build a rational justification for your action within the confines of your moral framework.

    And THAT’S the whole point. Hitler thought he was justified by his moral code in exterminating the Jews and taking over Europe, but he wasn’t.

    He was according to him and his supporters. He was not according to me and you and most other people. You haven’t quite got the hang yet of how this subjective morality works.

    Without presenting the reasoning from moral principles to his deeds you cannot say if he had or had not justified reasons.

    And a whole bunch of countries got together and beat the tar out of him and the Nazis. And lo and behold, the winners of that enforcement conflict are now “right”, but their being “right” is no more rationally justified than Hitler’s moral perspective.

    Umm, no the winners are right according to you, and me, and many others. They are not right according to, let’s say, neo-Nazis. And the reason that they are right (according to us) is not because they won, but because we share their moral concepts and follow the same rational justifications to their actions as they did.

    Again, you can be of the opinion that you are justified – have at it. But that doesn’t actually give you any absolute justification from a third party perspective; you’d still have to enforce your morality using…wait for it…might. And THAT is what William is noting.

    There is no way to ever get any absolute justification from a third party perspective, because every third party will use their own subjective morality to evaluate the justification. This is equally true for William as it is for you and me regardless of how he tries to dress up the pig. And.. wait for it.. you can’t enforce your morality on anyone… forcing someone to act one way or another affects their actions, not their morality. What you do to them will be right according to you and be wrong according to them. In other words, it is not Might that makes you Right in your eyes, and your Might does not make you Right in theirs.

    The bottom line is, moral codes absent any external standard offer no (and here’s the key) rational justification for enforcement. They may offer subjective justification, but as William notes, then your moral system is logically incoherent. If you’re good with that, ok. I certainly am.

    Disagree. Moral codes such as minimising suffering can certainly offer rational justification for enforcement, even objectively: given the moral assumptions (whether they agree with them or not), every observer could rationally derive the best actions as an exercise in logic, and they would likely arrive at pretty much the same outcome. You can try this for yourself: draw up a list of Hitler’s moral concepts (as best as we can surmise), and rationally derive justifications for his actions from there. It won’t be pleasant but it can be done. It is also a very useful learning exercise in what the people back then were dealing with.

  18. hotshoe
    Ignored
    says:

    petrushka:
    Without an absolute external standard based on the voices in your head, you are stuck with consensus, and you have to talk to other people and negotiate standards.

    That sucks, compared to shooting the MFers who disagree with the voices in your head.

    Wait! You don’t think xe is objectively justified in shooting any MFer who disagrees with the voices of all the gods in xis head? But, but, but, gods said so. Who gave you authority to argue with gods?

  19. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin:

    …Absent any external arbitrator, there is nothing that can objectively and rational justify enforcement of any moral code. One is left with a subjective justification at best.

    A subjective justification is not by definition irrational.

    fG

  20. Blas
    Ignored
    says:

    Lizzie: So is it your position that the knowledge that X is wrong could not exist unless there were a god?

    True. If no God no purpose in the universe.
    If no purpose in the universe man has no goal-
    If man has no goal there is no wrong or right action.
    If there is no wrong action we can´t know that X is wrong.

    QED.

    If there is no God our actions are like a post on facebook. You can only say thumb up or thumb down.

  21. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin,

    Again, you can be of the opinion that you are justified – have at it. But that doesn’t actually give you any absolute justification from a third party perspective; you’d still have to enforce your morality using…wait for it…might. And THAT is what William is noting.

    He’s wrong about that. Enforcing a moral code doesn’t make it right, any more than failing to enforce a moral code makes it wrong.

    I addressed this earlier:

    To add to the long list of problems with William’s argument, he claims that the only alternative to objective morality is “might makes right”.

    This is clearly false. Suppose person A and person B disagree on the morality of X. A thinks that X is moral, while B thinks it is immoral. If A is powerful and B is weak,a then A may be able to coerce B into doing X. This will not make X a moral act in B’s eyes, however. Might does not make right even in the absence of an objective morality.

    Robin:

    The bottom line is, moral codes absent any external standard offer no (and here’s the key) rational justification for enforcement. They may offer subjective justification, but as William notes, then your moral system is logically incoherent.

    No, a system is logically incoherent only if it is self-contradictory in some way. Can you think of a way in which all subjective moral systems must be self-contradictory? William certainly hasn’t provided any.

  22. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    A subjective justification is not by definition irrational.

    No, but trying to argue to the world at large that it is more rational and justified than anyone else’s subjective system is.

    I think the problem you are having in understanding William’s point is that you seem to think that William’s point is about your moral system specifically. It isn’t. It’s about trying to understand rational justification for non-arbitrated moral systems in general from a social/philosophical standpoint.

    Again, that you seem to think you have some justification for action from your moral system is not in dispute. The issue is whether you can rationally expect the world at large to accept your moral system as “more rational” than someone else’s system based solely on your say so. William is noting that you can’t (and I agree), but you are certainly welcome to think otherwise. I’d just be really surprised if you were ever actually successful convincing anyone else.

  23. JonF
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray: I didn’t say anything about forcing them to change their views.

    You wrote:

    I’m not here to argue against those that admit their morality is entirely subjective and relative, and who are comfortable coercing their admittedly subjective moralities on others

    Coerce: persuade (an unwilling person) to do something by using force or threats.

    Fail.

  24. William J. Murray
    Ignored
    says:

    JonF: You wrote:

    Coerce: persuade (an unwilling person) to do something by using force or threats.

    Fail.

    Context.

  25. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin: I think the problem you are having in understanding William’s point is that you seem to think that William’s point is about your moral system specifically. It isn’t. It’s about trying to understand rational justification for non-arbitrated moral systems in general from a social/philosophical standpoint.

    I agree with Robin’s understanding of WJM’s argument.

  26. JonF
    Ignored
    says:

    Fail

  27. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    Robin:

    I think the problem you are having in understanding William’s point is that you seem to think that William’s point is about your moral system specifically. It isn’t. It’s about trying to understand rational justification for non-arbitrated moral systems in general from a social/philosophical standpoint.

    I understand William’s point very well. He claims that there is an objective moral code because certain moral statements are self-evidently true. The only rational explanation for the existence of self-evidently true moral concepts is that there is a personal God who created us for a purpose, whose nature defines Good, and who instilled in us a sense of right and wrong. Therefore, we can rationally justify our moral system and so we are more justified than, say, atheists to force others to behave in ways we think are moral.

    Right?

    Well, I can bullshit on that. Assuming that there is an objective right and wrong because some moral concepts are ‘self-evidently true’, or assuming that there is a God who has told us what is right and wrong, is equally subjective. Both are a blatant attempt to elevate one’s own subjective personal moral system to the level of no-one less than the Creator of the Cosmos and thereby immunise it from criticism by mere mortals (that is, you and me).

    The simple arguments against both these positions are:

    – Believing in a particular God is a subjective choice, therefore the foundation of the claimed objective morality derived from the particular religious texts or traditions is subjective as well. There is no way to establish if these particular moral concepts are indeed objective, or just as subjective as others based on any other foundation. In fact William agrees with this.

    – Claiming there are certain objective moral truths because they are self-evident is false because it only takes one example of someone who does not see them as self-evidently true to prove that they are not, in fact, self evidently true. Such examples are trivial to find so the claim is false. Note that the only riposte William has to this is that such persons are deluded, or willingly blind, or similar ad hominems (a very dangerous point of view imo). In reality, of course, these purported objective morals are simply his own subjective moral concepts dressed up to look objective in order to gain an advantage over anyone who would disagree. This is what William doesn’t understand, or if he does understand it, does not want to admit.

    Again, that you seem to think you have some justification for action from your moral system is not in dispute. The issue is whether you can rationally expect the world at large to accept your moral system as “more rational” than someone else’s system based solely on your say so. William is noting that you can’t (and I agree), but you are certainly welcome to think otherwise. I’d just be really surprised if you were ever actually successful convincing anyone else.

    I have never said that I want the world at large to accept my moral system as more rational than someone else’s, so you are talking past me here. In fact I have said several times that I think the notion of having to justify one’s moral system to anyone else is nonsense because no independent parties exist. All we can do is justify our actions to ourselves based on our own, subjective, moral concepts.

    fG

  28. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    I understand William’s point very well. He claims that there is an objective moral code because certain moral statements are self-evidently true. The only rational explanation for the existence of self-evidently true moral concepts is that there is a personal God who created us for a purpose, whose nature defines Good, and who instilled in us a sense of right and wrong. Therefore, we can rationally justify our moral system and so we are more justified than, say, atheists to force others to behave in ways we think are moral.

    Right?

    Ehh…yeah that’s pretty close. William might quibble with the last part; he’s not technically insisting that a theistic-based moral system is more justified as a basis of enforcement that, say, and atheistic one. He’s just saying the former is more internally consistent than the latter and the latter has no rational basis of enforcement aside from “might makes right”. But that’s kind of a minor quibble.

    Well, I can bullshit on that. Assuming that there is an objective right and wrong because some moral concepts are ‘self-evidently true’, or assuming that there is a God who has told us what is right and wrong, is equally subjective. Both are a blatant attempt to elevate one’s own subjective personal moral system to the level of no-one less than the Creator of the Cosmos and thereby immunise it from criticism by mere mortals (that is, you and me).

    I totally agree, but I don’t think any of that reflects what William is saying. In fact, from what I can tell, William has repeatedly agreed that relying on any doctrine or words from any God is subjective. He’s not suggesting that a belief in God or any particular doctrine of God makes morals objective. Rather he is saying the if one holds that there are such things as objective morals, then the only way to reconcile the existence of those objective morals is to accept that they must come from a third-party arbiter. So, his point then is really only directed to those who hold there are such things as objective morals such as “torturing children for pleasure is always wrong” who also deny there needs to be a third-party arbiter who established that standard.

    So, for instance, his point is not directed at me. I do not hold that morals are objective. Problem solved.

    I have never said that I want the world at large to accept my moral system as more rational than someone else’s, so you are talking past me here.

    No, I am not talking past you here; I’m noting that THAT is a key element of William’s point you seem to be missing.

    In fact I have said several times that I think the notion of having to justify one’s moral system to anyone else is nonsense because no independent parties exist.

    If so, I missed that. But, if that is what you believe, then you too are not really affected by William’s point. If no independent parties exist to establish objective morals, then you must hold that there are no objective morals. William’s point then does not apply to you.

    All we can do is justify our actions to ourselves based on our own, subjective, moral concepts.

    Fine. Then I suspect you actually have no qualms with William’s point and I doubt William has any particular qualms with your point (though I’m not really in any position to speak for him on that.)

  29. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    Oops I just caught myself in a Freudian slip: where I said ‘I can bullshit on that’, I meant to say ‘I call bullshit on that’. I prefer this to remain a virtual, not a physical, interaction 🙂

    fG

  30. Robin Robin
    Ignored
    says:

    Two Internets for you! 😉

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