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Atheistic Morality
#1

Atheistic Morality
There have been quite a few heated political discussions in this forum, which is to be expected in a year with a big U.S. election.  However, one issue which has puzzled me again and again is how certain atheists "lay down the law" with moral arguments without explaining, exactly, what is the basis of their strong moral position on certain issues.

I would assume most of us atheists understand the world is naturalistic rather than idealistic, that morality is derived from human interests and not some higher power, and that human interests vary between communities rather than being absolute in themselves.  How, then, can atheists take such strong moral stands?  Do they think that politics is somehow independent of political philosophy and ethics?  Are they merely conditioned to certain slogans, like the people they so often oppose?

How do we justify the authoritarian tone of so many of our political discussions?
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#2

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 02:58 PM)Alan V Wrote: There have been quite a few heated political discussions in this forum, which is to be expected in a year with a big U.S. election.  However, one issue which has puzzled me again and again is how certain atheists "lay down the law" with moral arguments without explaining, exactly, what is the basis of their strong moral position on certain issues.

I would assume most of us atheists understand the world is naturalistic rather than idealistic, that morality is derived from human interests and not some higher power, and that human interests vary between communities rather than being absolute in themselves.  How, then, can atheists take such strong moral stands?  Do they think that politics is somehow independent of political philosophy and ethics?  Are they merely conditioned to certain slogans, like the people they so often oppose?

How do we justify the authoritarian tone of so many of our political discussions?

Ideology. I rank it up there with religion as dogma.

One you have fallen for dogma, critical thinking gets switched off.
[Image: color%5D%5Bcolor=#333333%5D%5Bsize=small%5D%5Bfont=T...ans-Serif%5D]
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#3

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 02:58 PM)Alan V Wrote: There have been quite a few heated political discussions in this forum, which is to be expected in a year with a big U.S. election.  However, one issue which has puzzled me again and again is how certain atheists "lay down the law" with moral arguments without explaining, exactly, what is the basis of their strong moral position on certain issues.

If one isn't piece of shit then strong moral positions are to be expected (to be fair when one is then they are too). Why should atheist be tolerant of state and church taking away women reproductive rights, people dehumanizing LGBT, fools supporting fascism or clowns thinking that corporations shit gold and goodwill?

Quote:I would assume most of us atheists understand the world is naturalistic rather than idealistic, that morality is derived from human interests and not some higher power, and that human interests vary between communities rather than being absolute in themselves.

Sure, moral standards differ around the globe but that does not mean some aren't better. Some failures of human beings might say that homosexuality is offensive and another bunch of idiots might think that being racist is coolest thing ever. But so what? Arguments of such stains on humanity are paper thin at best and mostly amount to childish whining about being offended.

Quote:How, then, can atheists take such strong moral stands?

Having a spine and conscience helps. It is however worrying that you ask such question.

Quote:Do they think that politics is somehow independent of political philosophy and ethics?

Or perhaps they don't buy into flimsy excuses?

Quote:Are they merely conditioned to certain slogans, like the people they so often oppose?

Does opposition to certain politics mean being conditioned to certain slogans now?

Quote:How do we justify the authoritarian tone of so many of our political discussions?

You gotta ask those who use such alleged authoritarian tone.

I also wonder why this post read like cowardly attack on people who don't agree with your political positions, with atheism (un)subtly sneaked in.
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.

Socrates.
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#4

Atheistic Morality
Substitute the word 'People' for 'Atheistic' and the thread makes sense.
And what's this bloody ugly word atheistic? Why have I never, ever herd it used IRL.
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#5

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 04:16 PM)Inkubus Wrote: Substitute the word 'People' for 'Atheistic' and the thread makes sense.
And what's this bloody ugly word atheistic? Why have I never, ever herd it used IRL.

You're on an "atheist discussion" forum, mate.
"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
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#6

Atheistic Morality
Atheism per se  has nothing to do with morals, ethics, integrity, convention, or politics.
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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#7

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 04:41 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 04:16 PM)Inkubus Wrote: Substitute the word 'People' for 'Atheistic' and the thread makes sense.
And what's this bloody ugly word atheistic? Why have I never, ever herd it used IRL.

You're on an "atheist discussion" forum, mate.

Correct, it's not an atheistic (whatever that means) discussion forum. It's no big deal It's just that the word atheist suffices, atheistic, adds nothing.
Back to my main point, why 'atheist' when the question applies to everyone.
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#8

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 04:54 PM)SYZ Wrote: Atheism per se  has nothing to do with morals, ethics, integrity, convention, or politics.

Commie pinko baby BBQing bastards.
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#9

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 04:16 PM)Inkubus Wrote: Substitute the word 'People' for 'Atheistic' and the thread makes sense.
And what's this bloody ugly word atheistic? Why have I never, ever herd it used IRL.

U be talkin' better me be. U mush be better me.
  [Image: pirates.gif] Dog  
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#10

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 04:58 PM)Inkubus Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 04:41 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 04:16 PM)Inkubus Wrote: Substitute the word 'People' for 'Atheistic' and the thread makes sense.
And what's this bloody ugly word atheistic? Why have I never, ever herd it used IRL.

You're on an "atheist discussion" forum, mate.

Correct, it's not an atheistic (whatever that means) discussion forum. It's no big deal It's just that the word atheist suffices, atheistic, adds nothing.
Back to my main point, why 'atheist' when the question applies to everyone.

Because I was addressing my fellow atheists about their moral ideas about politics.  (Sorry if "atheistic" is the wrong choice of a word.)

My point was that being an atheist does restrict one's choices of ethical first principles, contrary to @SYZ 's statement. An atheist typically doesn't argue for teleological idealism or any variety of absolutism, for instance. How then do some atheists embrace nearly authoritarian interpretations of morality when they discuss politics?

And yes, people can indeed disagree with the premises of my questions.
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#11

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 04:06 PM)Szuchow Wrote: I also wonder why this post read like cowardly attack on people who don't agree with your political positions, with atheism (un)subtly sneaked in.

I think you have to read something more into what I wrote to call it a "cowardly attack."  First of all, my discussion with Mordant was going nowhere because we were talking past each other.  So I decided to broaden the question to include more people, since it obviously is not an issue confined to Mordant's and my disagreements.

Secondly, I was uncomfortable with taking the discussion in the other string off-topic.  I assumed Mordant would immediately recognize and concede my relatively simple point, which was incorrect. He and others thought I was talking about Progressives versus Democrats. Part of that confusion was likely my own fault.

Third, I decided to restate what I had in mind to try to clarify what concerned me.  Sorry if that restatement didn't clarify the issue for you.
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#12

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 05:22 PM)Alan V Wrote: I think you have to read something more into what I wrote to call it a "cowardly attack."

I beg to differ. 

Quote:First of all, my discussion with Mordant was going nowhere because we were talking past each other.  So I decided to broaden the question to include more people, since it obviously is not an issue confined to Mordant's and my disagreements.

Secondly, I was uncomfortable with taking the discussion off-topic in the other string.  I assumed Mordant would immediately recognize and concede my point, which was incorrect.

Third, I decided to restate what I had in mind to try to clarify what concerned me.  Sorry if that restatement didn't clarify the issue for you.

Your issue was pretty clearly expressed in your OP.
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.

Socrates.
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#13

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 05:27 PM)Szuchow Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 05:22 PM)Alan V Wrote: First of all, my discussion with Mordant was going nowhere because we were talking past each other.  So I decided to broaden the question to include more people, since it obviously is not an issue confined to Mordant's and my disagreements.

Secondly, I was uncomfortable with taking the discussion off-topic in the other string.  I assumed Mordant would immediately recognize and concede my point, which was incorrect.

Third, I decided to restate what I had in mind to try to clarify what concerned me.  Sorry if that restatement didn't clarify the issue for you.

Your issue was pretty clearly expressed in your OP.

Thanks.  Feel free to address it.
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#14

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 05:31 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 05:27 PM)Szuchow Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 05:22 PM)Alan V Wrote: First of all, my discussion with Mordant was going nowhere because we were talking past each other.  So I decided to broaden the question to include more people, since it obviously is not an issue confined to Mordant's and my disagreements.

Secondly, I was uncomfortable with taking the discussion off-topic in the other string.  I assumed Mordant would immediately recognize and concede my point, which was incorrect.

Third, I decided to restate what I had in mind to try to clarify what concerned me.  Sorry if that restatement didn't clarify the issue for you.

Your issue was pretty clearly expressed in your OP.

Thanks.  Feel free to address it.

I already addressed it. Need eyesight check or you just prefer people agreeing with you in all things?
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.

Socrates.
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#15

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 05:33 PM)Szuchow Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 05:31 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 05:27 PM)Szuchow Wrote: Your issue was pretty clearly expressed in your OP.

Thanks.  Feel free to address it.

I already addressed it. Need eyesight check or you just prefer people agreeing with you in all things?

Perhaps I would have been clearer if I had posted this in the philosophy section.  I don't think your tautologies pass for philosophy.
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#16

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 05:35 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 05:33 PM)Szuchow Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 05:31 PM)Alan V Wrote: Thanks.  Feel free to address it.

I already addressed it. Need eyesight check or you just prefer people agreeing with you in all things?

Perhaps I would have been clearer if I had posted this in the philosophy section.  I don't think your tautologies pass for philosophy.

I don't think that your whinny bullshit pass for anything resembling reasoned argument. You're just too much of a coward to attack people with whom you disagree directly and so you try to dress your whining into "discussion" of atheist morals.

If holding strong moral positions is something you have issue with then I guess I know who you would be representing on picture below:

[Image: 868.jpg]
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.

Socrates.
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#17

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 05:40 PM)Szuchow Wrote: I don't think that your whinny bullshit pass for anything resembling reasoned argument. You're just too much of a coward to attack people with whom you disagree directly and so you try to dress your whining into "discussion" of atheist morals.

If holding strong moral positions is something you have issue with then I guess I know who you would be representing on picture below:

Again, the problem isn't holding strong moral and political positions, it's how we justify and express them as atheists.  I have strong positions too, but I think I know how to justify them.  I'm not sure others do by the way they talk. It's all bluster and browbeating.

So if you want to derail or sabotage this discussion because you think I have ulterior motives, go right ahead and try.  Dom for one seemed to understand where I was coming from, so perhaps a few people will respond with more understanding.
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#18

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 06:06 PM)Alan V Wrote: Again, the problem isn't holding strong moral and political positions, it's how we justify and express them as atheists.  I have strong positions too, but I think I know how to justify them.  I'm not sure others do by the way they talk.

If I would have to explain why I oppose fascism, gov making some people into second class citizens or bigotry in general then it would mean that I speak with particularly dim or bigoted individual. Some positions are self-explanatory at least if one values freedom of others. For example what is there to justify in being opposed to so called "pro-life" crowd? Not wanting women to being deprived of right to decide about their own body is justification enough.

Quote:So if you want to derail or sabotage this discussion because you think I have ulterior motives, go right ahead and try.  Dom for one seemed to understand where I was coming from, so perhaps a few people will respond with more understanding.

Thanks for the permission, o gracious one. 

People responding with more understanding would mean seeing through your charade I'm afraid. I accused you of attack on other posters and you started talking about @mordant instantly. Hard to have better confirmation of your true intent.
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.

Socrates.
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#19

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 06:18 PM)Szuchow Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 06:06 PM)Alan V Wrote: Again, the problem isn't holding strong moral and political positions, it's how we justify and express them as atheists.  I have strong positions too, but I think I know how to justify them.  I'm not sure others do by the way they talk.

If I would have to explain why I oppose fascism, gov making some people into second class citizens or bigotry in general then it would mean that I speak with particularly dim or bigoted individual. Some positions are self-explanatory at least if one values freedom of others. For example what is there to justify in being opposed to so called "pro-life" crowd? Not wanting women to being deprived of right to decide about their own body is justification enough.

Quote:So if you want to derail or sabotage this discussion because you think I have ulterior motives, go right ahead and try.  Dom for one seemed to understand where I was coming from, so perhaps a few people will respond with more understanding.

Thanks for the permission, o gracious one. 

People responding with more understanding would mean seeing through your charade I'm afraid. I accused you of attack on other posters and you started talking about @mordant instantly. Hard to have better confirmation of your true intent.

Okay, let's assume for a moment that I'm a reasonably intelligent and well-meaning individual, but that I'm dead wrong about a certain issue.  (That shouldn't be too hard for you to imagine, given your perspective.)  What is the best way to convince me I'm wrong?  Is it to call me names and insult my intelligence, even though I've been right on any number of other occasions?  Is it to consider me ill-willed, even though I have been sympathetic to a variety of other perspectives?  Is it to imply that the leaders I respect are all morally corrupt and the lesser of two evils?  No, that will only put me on the defensive.  It will appeal directly to the combative part of my mind who wants to win at all costs, even if it means misconstruing what you tell me.

Instead, by assuming I do indeed have a functioning moral compass, you might try to point out how my mistaken position is some kind of hypocrisy on my part.  It's inconsistent with other things I have said I stood for and supported.  You leverage whatever is good in me, not try to bring out the worst in me.

This is what I mean when I say that people's rhetoric is out-of-line with their principles, of equality or whatever.  How can you take a consistently superior position to others and still really be calling for equality?  It looks like hypocrisy because what you say and how you behave seem out-of-whack with each other.  This is where I think our current leaders in the Democratic party are out in front of many of their supporters.  They know that Trump may still win if he can provoke his opponents to behave badly.  At this point, he must be depending on that as his only remaining strategy to win.  If we are not careful how we behave, if we are always seen as superior and patronizing, hypocritical and insincere, then he will divide us even further.  So I say put away the divisiveness, at least until after the election.

This is why some people are their own worst enemies when it comes to advancing their objectives.  One can barely help them to be their better selves, because they assume you must oppose their objectives if you criticize them.  That's not what this is about.  It's about strategy.

And parenthetically, just because this is an admitted extension of my conversation with Mordant doesn't mean it was ill-willed. He can take part here if he wants to, now that I think I have more clearly expressed my concerns.
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#20

Atheistic Morality
I've formally studied Ethics a fair amount, with a couple pretty famous ethicists, in the past. I never ran across (in all the ethical systems I've seen), anything called "atheistic morality" ... but I get what you're asking, and it's a very interesting topic. Frequently we have seen theists (maybe others) talk to non-believers with the (incorrect) assumption, that without a system of morality handed to them/us by a religious system (which is never "absolute" as they often claim), there is no basis for an ethical system, or vaues. Of course they're all wrong. There are many moral systems, and many don't assume any gods. So what I think you're asking us to look at here, .... is, what are the spoken and unspoken assumptions which underlie our personal ethical codes, (if we have one) and how is it we came to the our present positions on what is or is not ethically "correct", and ... even more interesting, why would it be important to act in accordance with that, and if it is, where did we get the values we hold. 

One funny thing we see these days is the Utilitarian ethic of some religious people, played out right in front of us, even while they claim to have absolute "Christian" moral values. They say they are primarily motivated to vote for a candidate because, first and foremost, he (supposedly ... recently anyway) opposes abortion, ... all the while demonstrates no ethical values at all, could well destry the planet, and is amoral and unethical about almost everything. So they have a hierarchy of values, which may or may not be "examined". 

Do I get your question ?
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#21

Atheistic Morality
I've always been an atheist, born that way just like the OP. When I was stationed in Sicily I picked up a bunch of boxes from the Supply Dept. and took them back to the LOX Plant. One box was about a yard on a side and very heavy. I thought it was a part we were waiting for and opened it first. Turned out it was solidly packed with $20 bills. I carefully put it back on the truck and went back to Supply. When I found the chief and showed him what I had he nearly fainted. "That's the payday for the whole base, it should have gone directly to the bank." I never thought about keeping it.

I guess I'm not a very good atheist.
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#22

Atheistic Morality
There are people on this forum who think it is highly 'moral' to shoot someone 7 times in the back.... if the shooter is a cop and the shootee is black.

"Morality" might be the most useless word in English.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#23

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 06:48 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote: I've formally studied Ethics a fair amount, with a couple pretty famous ethicists, in the past. I never ran across (in all the ethical systems I've seen), anything called "atheistic morality" ... but I get what you're asking, and it's a very interesting topic. Frequently we have seen theists (maybe others) talk to non-believers with the (incorrect) assumption, that without a system of morality handed to them/us by a religious system (which is never "absolute" as they often claim), there is no basis for an ethical system, or vaues. Of course they're all wrong. There are many moral systems, and many don't assume any gods. So what I think you're asking us to look at here, .... is, what are the spoken and unspoken assumptions which underlie our personal ethical codes, (if we have one) and how is it we came to the our present positions on what is or is not ethically "correct", and ... even more interesting, why would it be important to act in accordance with that, if it is, where did we get the values we hold. 

One funny thing we see these days is the Utilitarian ethic of some religious people, played out right in front of us, even while they claim to have absolute "Christian" moral values. They say they are primarily motivated to vote for a candidate because, first and foremost, he (supposedly ... recently anyway) opposes abortion, ... all the while demonstrates no ethical values at all, could well destry the planet, and is amoral and unethical about almost everything. So they have a hierarchy of values, which may or may not be "examined". 

Do I get your question ?

Yes, to a certain extent.  I was also trying to relate that to our political positions and how we express them.  It seems to me our political discussions are too often out-of-line with any non-theistic morality we might embrace as atheists.  Our rhetoric (sometimes) seems too patronizing and authoritarian to me, and I don't see how such rhetoric can be justified atheistically.

Szuchow has explained part of it to me.  Strong stands are obviously possible and for fairly obvious reasons.  But no one has yet tackled the question of deriving an ought from an is, even after the facts are no longer in dispute.
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#24

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 06:57 PM)Minimalist Wrote: There are people on this forum who think it is highly 'moral' to shoot someone 7 times in the back.... if the shooter is a cop and the shootee is black.

"Morality" might be the most useless word in English.
Your tortured version, yes.
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#25

Atheistic Morality
(08-30-2020, 07:00 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(08-30-2020, 06:48 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote: I've formally studied Ethics a fair amount, with a couple pretty famous ethicists, in the past. I never ran across (in all the ethical systems I've seen), anything called "atheistic morality" ... but I get what you're asking, and it's a very interesting topic. Frequently we have seen theists (maybe others) talk to non-believers with the (incorrect) assumption, that without a system of morality handed to them/us by a religious system (which is never "absolute" as they often claim), there is no basis for an ethical system, or vaues. Of course they're all wrong. There are many moral systems, and many don't assume any gods. So what I think you're asking us to look at here, .... is, what are the spoken and unspoken assumptions which underlie our personal ethical codes, (if we have one) and how is it we came to the our present positions on what is or is not ethically "correct", and ... even more interesting, why would it be important to act in accordance with that, if it is, where did we get the values we hold. 

One funny thing we see these days is the Utilitarian ethic of some religious people, played out right in front of us, even while they claim to have absolute "Christian" moral values. They say they are primarily motivated to vote for a candidate because, first and foremost, he (supposedly ... recently anyway) opposes abortion, ... all the while demonstrates no ethical values at all, could well destry the planet, and is amoral and unethical about almost everything. So they have a hierarchy of values, which may or may not be "examined". 

Do I get your question ?

Yes, to a certain extent.  I was also trying to relate that to our political positions and how we express them.  It seems to me our political discussions are too often out-of-line with any non-theistic morality we might embrace as atheists.  Our rhetoric (sometimes) seems too patronizing and authoritarian to me, and I don't see how such rhetoric can be justified atheistically.

Szuchow has explained part of it to me.  Strong stands are obviously possible and for fairly obvious reasons.  But no one has yet tackled the question of deriving an ought from an is, even after the facts are no longer in dispute.

I agree. If we are taking a stand, (or claiming another one is inauthentic, or unethical) we should be able to say exactly why it is so, and explain the basis for our saying that, EXACTLY. We all don't operate under the same assumptions, and if we can't even say what they are, we can't expect to be understood.
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