Morality debate, part 6 of 11
Cheetah's closing statement
ephphatha questions what the motivation is to act in accordance with subjectivity, and then tells me I show weakness for offering an answer! In fact, I didn't say that people should only be moral if they're personally motivated. I'm not sure where he got that idea, since I specifically stated that if people chose not to follow the moral code they would be considered immoral. Another strawman.
ephphatha implies that moral systems cannot be valid unless there is obligation to follow it, which makes it objective. I disagree that obligation stems from objectivity, and ephphatha certainly didn't explain that leap in logic. The moral agents may agree, implicitly or explicitly, thus creating an “obligation,” and that is not objective. Still, it is not objectively moral to follow society's code, there is only an obligation due to the participation of the agents, and motivation due to the incentives/disincentives put in place. The question is, what obligation is there in an objective system? An obligation to ourselves? Well, then psychopaths must never act immorally, because they do not feel an obligation to themselves to act in what we might call a “moral” way, which, under ephphatha's scenario, means there is no valid moral system.
He again tries to “prove” nothing at all exists. As I said before: useless argument. Witness: either nothing exists or everything everyone proposes exists does actually exist. The Pet Psychic senses thoughts of animals. Far be it from us to deny her! A schizophrenic senses that he's god. Who are we to say his senses are wrong? I sense that I have a special power to cure cancer and insist that the NIH give me vast amounts of funding. Don't ask for evidence! All senses are equal to ephphatha! But, that's not the way the world works, and we should either agree to work within our system, or give up discussion. There is such a thing, whether it's only “senses” or not, that we call evidence and agree will qualify certain experiences/research for acceptance. Measurement of the universe qualifies. Nothing in OMV does.
I'm amazed by ephphatha's “written on the mind” hypothesis. I personally didn't have the fact that triangles are three-sided objects “written” on my mind. I had to learn that in school. I also learned through experience that when two things contradict each other, there is a conflict that needs to be resolved. This is one component of critical thinking, which many say schools aren't teaching well enough nowadays. Similarly, morals weren't “etched in my mind” but were taught to me by my family and through interaction in my society. And again, this is why subjectivism is more parsimonious than objectivism. Because it doesn't require some unsupported idea (the idea that some facts are etched in minds, while others have to be learned). It stems from the a priori knowledge that there are processes in society that create this, and other, systems.
For a third time, and although I have provided rebuttals twice, ephphatha insists that, in subjective morality, people cannot pass value judgments on others. I had hoped ephphatha would address my responses so I could see what he thought was amiss, but instead he responds with the same argument, as if I had never even attempted to respond. I will refer the reader back to my first and second posts for a refresher.
The only one of the five reasons ephphatha listed that addresses the undermining of the idea that moral dispute is valuable in a subjective system is the third one. All the others address subjectivity specifically, and are variations on ideas we've already discussed. For the record, I don't think it's moral if a man risks his life to save a drowning person. It's noble, but if he chose not to do it, I certainly wouldn't call him immoral. And we do talk about utility and interest in moral discussion. We talk about what value we place on things. I think war for oil is immoral because I've been raised to believe in sovereignty, property rights and that lives have value above oil (plus more reasons). That's not objective. Other societies don't have those same values, but we can certainly talk about why developing those values is in someone's best interest, and therefore make a moral judgment on those values. But, back to the third argument. The third says there's no principled way to resolve conflict in moral subjectivism. Nevermind that ephphatha ignored my proposal that moral dispute is useless in objectivism, because there's no realistic way people who disagree based on something “etched in their minds” can come to an agreement if their minds are differently etched. In reality, there is both a principled and realistic way to address dispute in moral subjectivism. It's through discussion, documentation of differences and unveiling of facts, leading to judgments by the agents. I don't see what is “unprincipled” about these types of efforts.
Ephphatha says that you cannot get ought from is, which requires us to start from a moral premise. Actually, ephphatha didn't prove this at all. Why can't we get ought from is? Society “is” interested in facilitating the interaction between humans. Society “has” decided, through its moral agents, that X is unacceptable to society. We “ought” to follow those codes of conduct since we implicitly agreed as members of that society to do so, and since we will suffer repercussions if we don't, which again, “is” not in our best interests as biologically-driven organisms. And, finally, we “ought” to because we were taught to.
Now, the Nazis again. I would like to see what people say about us, 10,000 years from now, when they consider how we treat non-human apes. I would like to see what people think about us 100 years from now, when they consider how we treat homosexuals. If those future societies decide homosexuals have equal value and rights as the rest of humans, they have made a moral judgment that is subjective. Maybe in the future, research may convince people that apes are so valuable and intelligent that they deserve the same rights humans enjoy. This has been the trend over human civilization. Rights have been extended in gradations to more and more people and even animals (think ASPCA). The point is, those future humans, past humans and us present humans have placed value on certain other things/organisms. Humans really don't have objective value. The only way you or I have any value is by being assigned value by a moral agent, perhaps ourselves, perhaps another human being, even a non-human, since we all know apes, dogs and cats can ascribe value to “their” humans. But, that value is there because of the subjective experience of another moral agent.
That may be tough to understand and to swallow for some people that don't want to admit they aren't objectively “special.” But, my argument for subjective morality doesn't require that you buy into that particular idea anyway. All it asks is: why would you believe something mysterious and partially veiled is “etched in your brain,” an idea with which most of us are totally unfamiliar, placed there through an unknown power, with unknown properties and values, when it is more reasonable and parsimonious to realize that the moral codes which we ascribe to in our family unit, in society, and in this increasingly connected world, are a product both of our biological drives and our social conditioning?
Most of this post centered around digging deeper into objectivity, only to understand that it does require a lack of rigorous questioning and belief in, essentially, magic. ephphatha simply insists that the former scenario presents no problems for a reasonable person. And I say that, if this is so, we all ought to believe in ESP, that schizophrenics are gods and that I can cure cancer. ephphatha tries to dismiss the idea that any proof is required for his theory but only succeeds in proving that no proof is required for anything, ever, as long as someone, somewhere, senses something that is “etched on their brain.” Indeed, we do need to be honest with ourselves. An objective reality is not impossible. However, the knowledge and evidence that we have simply does not support this at this time. We don't need magic to explain why we do what we do. We have more parsimonious explanations. So, until that changes, it is most reasonable to subscribe to the subjective morality system as I have described it here.
Thanks again for the debate. I'll look forward to hearing WeirdBrake's thoughts on this debate specifically and I also hope that others on this board will be interested in putting differing thoughts forward for consideration on the subject of subjective vs. objective morality (and all its variations) as a whole.