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A Naturalistic World
#26

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 03:32 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote: You seem to be suggesting that theists have more philosophical justification than atheists to regard morality as objective. Is that an accurate interpretation of your post?

I consider atheists to be realists and theists to be fabulists.  So no, I don't think theists are justified in their claims of objective moral systems.

I was just trying to understand what I consider the questionable behavior of certain atheists.  On the one hand, many claim that morality is relative and subjective, while on the other, many take what I consider hard moral positions, concerning politics and human behaviors for instance.  This seems hypocritical to me, so I was wondering if it bothered other atheists and whether they could explain it to me.

I guess this is the question: How do atheists justify their moral outrage in the face of naturalistic explanations for even harmful human behaviors?  

People are animals and sometimes behave like animals.  It's to be expected from time to time from naturalistic perspectives, so it shouldn't surprise atheists.  It's like the inevitability of wars.  They will never end, no matter how much we dislike them.  They are just one of the downsides of living in a naturalistic world.
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#27

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 05:18 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(07-03-2021, 03:32 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote: You seem to be suggesting that theists have more philosophical justification than atheists to regard morality as objective. Is that an accurate interpretation of your post?

I consider atheists to be realists and theists to be fabulists.  So no, I don't think theists are justified in their claims of objective moral systems.

I was just trying to understand what I consider the questionable behavior of certain atheists.  On the one hand, many claim that morality is relative and subjective, while on the other, many take what I consider hard moral positions, concerning politics and human behaviors for instance.  This seems hypocritical to me, so I was wondering if it bothered other atheists and whether they could explain it to me.

I guess this is the question: How do atheists justify their moral outrage in the face of naturalistic explanations for even harmful human behaviors?  

People are animals and sometimes behave like animals.  It's to be expected from time to time from naturalistic perspectives, so it shouldn't surprise atheists.  It's like the inevitability of wars.  They will never end, no matter how much we dislike them.  They are just one of the downsides of living in a naturalistic world.

If we are going to go the human nature route, isn't it also human nature to be irrational and have strong opinions about things, regardless of whether it is ultimately grounded in rationality? Isn't it inevitable that would occur for any number of subjects? Shouldn't we be more forgiving for people who have such strong opinions?  Tongue

After all humans didn't evolve with the tools for rationality.
Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.  Deadpan Coffee Drinker
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#28

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 05:18 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(07-03-2021, 03:32 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote: You seem to be suggesting that theists have more philosophical justification than atheists to regard morality as objective. Is that an accurate interpretation of your post?

I consider atheists to be realists and theists to be fabulists.  So no, I don't think theists are justified in their claims of objective moral systems.

I was just trying to understand what I consider the questionable behavior of certain atheists.  On the one hand, many claim that morality is relative and subjective, while on the other, many take what I consider hard moral positions, concerning politics and human behaviors for instance.  This seems hypocritical to me, so I was wondering if it bothered other atheists and whether they could explain it to me.

I guess this is the question: How do atheists justify their moral outrage in the face of naturalistic explanations for even harmful human behaviors?  

People are animals and sometimes behave like animals.  It's to be expected from time to time from naturalistic perspectives, so it shouldn't surprise atheists.  It's like the inevitability of wars.  They will never end, no matter how much we dislike them.  They are just one of the downsides of living in a naturalistic world.

Couldn't say it better myself. And I've tried many times. Many years ago, I encountered atheists who held opposite political opnions from mine. It was a surprise, but I thought about it for a while.

I concluded they had a perfect right to be dumb as rocks in everything but their atheism. Which was also a stupid conclusion. There is no list of "atheist" views other than "atheism". It took me a while to adjust to the idea that not all atheists thought as I did on OTHER subjects. I thought certain other views kind of "came with the territory", and I was completely wrong!

Given our numbers in the US (10-15% depending on how you ask) there are some of us here who hold thoughts on "other subjects" I find completely bizzarre. There are some atheists who are white supremests, some who are gun-fanatics and probably some who think siccing their dog on another families cat is "fun".

All we really have in common is our "atheism" here. And I'll go with that for a start of any debate. At least that is something we share.
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#29

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 05:18 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(07-03-2021, 03:32 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote: You seem to be suggesting that theists have more philosophical justification than atheists to regard morality as objective. Is that an accurate interpretation of your post?

I consider atheists to be realists and theists to be fabulists.  So no, I don't think theists are justified in their claims of objective moral systems.

I was just trying to understand what I consider the questionable behavior of certain atheists.  On the one hand, many claim that morality is relative and subjective, while on the other, many take what I consider hard moral positions, concerning politics and human behaviors for instance.  This seems hypocritical to me, so I was wondering if it bothered other atheists and whether they could explain it to me.

I guess this is the question: How do atheists justify their moral outrage in the face of naturalistic explanations for even harmful human behaviors?  

People are animals and sometimes behave like animals.  It's to be expected from time to time from naturalistic perspectives, so it shouldn't surprise atheists.  It's like the inevitability of wars.  They will never end, no matter how much we dislike them.  They are just one of the downsides of living in a naturalistic world.

One can be a naturalist and still hope to be better. We do, after all, see so many instances of moral and physical courage, and self-sacrifice, that to dismiss the idea that humans might rise above a genetic heritage seems questionable. What drive is more important than life itself -- yet we often see examples of humans sacrificing their own lives for others.

That indicates to me that while acknowledging the material antecedents we share in the form of genetics is fair game, it also indicates that genetics is not the only thing that drives human behavior or morality. That's something that Haldane was trying to get at, that human behavior is a mixture of evolutionary provenance, and personal behavior and outlook.

As an atheist, I can look at this or that behavior and find it morally repugnant. I can also look at those I consider immoral and consider their upbringing in their actions. And finally, I can maintain that my own moral sensibility only applies to me, and try to understand someone else from their own perspective.

It's not easy thinking. I personally do not think that our behavior is genetically deterministic; nor do I think that my own moral sensibility should apply to every other human who ever lived, because what do I know about them and their life-experiences?

I can hold my own morality without being so judgmental that I'd damn others to whatever fictional Hell they construct that helps them guide themselves. I can only speak about my own moral sensibility, and hope to convince others I'm right.
Freedom isn't free.
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#30

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 05:46 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote: After all humans didn't evolve with the tools for rationality.

Where does rationality come from if not the human brain, which is a product of evolution?
Freedom isn't free.
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#31

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 09:43 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:
(07-03-2021, 05:18 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(07-03-2021, 03:32 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote: You seem to be suggesting that theists have more philosophical justification than atheists to regard morality as objective. Is that an accurate interpretation of your post?

I consider atheists to be realists and theists to be fabulists.  So no, I don't think theists are justified in their claims of objective moral systems.

I was just trying to understand what I consider the questionable behavior of certain atheists.  On the one hand, many claim that morality is relative and subjective, while on the other, many take what I consider hard moral positions, concerning politics and human behaviors for instance.  This seems hypocritical to me, so I was wondering if it bothered other atheists and whether they could explain it to me.

I guess this is the question: How do atheists justify their moral outrage in the face of naturalistic explanations for even harmful human behaviors?  

People are animals and sometimes behave like animals.  It's to be expected from time to time from naturalistic perspectives, so it shouldn't surprise atheists.  It's like the inevitability of wars.  They will never end, no matter how much we dislike them.  They are just one of the downsides of living in a naturalistic world.

One can be a naturalist and still hope to be better. We do, after all, see so many instances of moral and physical courage, and self-sacrifice, that to dismiss the idea that humans might rise above a genetic heritage seems questionable. What drive is more important than life itself -- yet we often see examples of humans sacrificing their own lives for others.

That indicates to me that while acknowledging the material antecedents we share in the form of genetics is fair game, it also indicates that genetics is not the only thing that drives human behavior or morality. That's something that Haldane was trying to get at, that human behavior is a mixture of evolutionary provenance, and personal behavior and outlook.

As an atheist, I can look at this or that behavior and find it morally repugnant. I can also look at those I consider immoral and consider their upbringing in their actions. And finally, I can maintain that my own moral sensibility only applies to me, and try to understand someone else from their own perspective.

It's not easy thinking. I personally do not think that our behavior is genetically deterministic; nor do I think that my own moral sensibility should apply to every other human who ever lived, because what do I know about them and their life-experiences?

I can hold my own morality without being so judgmental that I'd damn others to whatever fictional Hell they construct that helps them guide themselves. I can only speak about my own moral sensibility, and hope to convince others I'm right.

At some point you (as you said above) have to depend on life experiences rather than the average group-think. It can vary and for good reasons. A soldier can know not to leave a fellow soldier behind and a guerrilla to leave one to fight another day for a larger cause. A first-responder can stand in danger for many while a parent takes a surviving child and cherishes the life of that one.

Context matters. Focus matters. There have been psychological studies of how people respond to extremely difficult situations. Do you change a train switch to save 6 adults or one child. Do you feed 2 children well at the expense of a third? Etc...
I am tying notes to balloons and tumble-weeds and sending them out to the world. Where they are found, I do not know...
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#32

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 05:46 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote: If we are going to go the human nature route, isn't it also human nature to be irrational and have strong opinions about things, regardless of whether it is ultimately grounded in rationality? Isn't it inevitable that would occur for any number of subjects? Shouldn't we be more forgiving for people who have such strong opinions? 

After all humans didn't evolve with the tools for rationality.

(07-03-2021, 09:43 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote: One can be a naturalist and still hope to be better. We do, after all, see so many instances of moral and physical courage, and self-sacrifice, that to dismiss the idea that humans might rise above a genetic heritage seems questionable. What drive is more important than life itself -- yet we often see examples of humans sacrificing their own lives for others.

That indicates to me that while acknowledging the material antecedents we share in the form of genetics is fair game, it also indicates that genetics is not the only thing that drives human behavior or morality. That's something that Haldane was trying to get at, that human behavior is a mixture of evolutionary provenance, and personal behavior and outlook.

Many Americans still believe the sky is the limit for human potential, but I do not.  What I see is that it takes too long for people to learn to be honest, and by the time they do the damage is done.  Yes, people can be better, but too often too late.

Plus that is not the only limiting factor.  A naturalistic world has its own limits aside from human potential, which we are unfortunately rather late in recognizing.  

It seems entirely possible to me that our present state of affairs, with all of its confusions, difficulties, and severe problems, may in fact be the very best our human world can ever be, exactly because we are limited creatures living in a limited world.  Except for certain islands of human efforts, it may be all downhill from here.  And most people do not behave better when everything around them is falling apart.  They turn against each other if they haven't already learned to be honest and to recognize realities.

I suppose this is why I, as one peculiar individual, don't understand the moral outrage over smaller problems.  Naturalism has been an eye-opener for me.
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#33

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 10:06 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(07-03-2021, 05:46 PM)GenesisNemesis Wrote: If we are going to go the human nature route, isn't it also human nature to be irrational and have strong opinions about things, regardless of whether it is ultimately grounded in rationality? Isn't it inevitable that would occur for any number of subjects? Shouldn't we be more forgiving for people who have such strong opinions? 

After all humans didn't evolve with the tools for rationality.

(07-03-2021, 09:43 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote: One can be a naturalist and still hope to be better. We do, after all, see so many instances of moral and physical courage, and self-sacrifice, that to dismiss the idea that humans might rise above a genetic heritage seems questionable. What drive is more important than life itself -- yet we often see examples of humans sacrificing their own lives for others.

That indicates to me that while acknowledging the material antecedents we share in the form of genetics is fair game, it also indicates that genetics is not the only thing that drives human behavior or morality. That's something that Haldane was trying to get at, that human behavior is a mixture of evolutionary provenance, and personal behavior and outlook.

Many Americans still believe the sky is the limit for human potential, but I do not.  What I see is that it takes too long for people to learn to be honest, and by the time they do the damage is done.  Yes, people can be better, but too often too late.

Plus that is not the only limiting factor.  A naturalistic world has its own limits aside from human potential, which we are unfortunately rather late in recognizing.  

It seems entirely possible to me that our present state of affairs, with all of its confusions, difficulties, and severe problems, may in fact be the very best our human world can ever be, exactly because we are limited creatures living in a limited world.  Except for certain islands of human efforts, it may be all downhill from here.  And most people do not behave better when everything around them is falling apart.  They turn against each other if they haven't already learned to be honest and to recognize realities.

I suppose this is why I, as one peculiar individual, don't understand the moral outrage over smaller problems.  Naturalism has been an eye-opener for me.

I have sometimes wondered (as you seem to consider) that we humans are approaching a limit to our success as a species. I don't expect it to happen in the next few generations and I have no direct children, so in a way it doesn't concern me personally. I'll be long-dead before the world overheats and food crops vanish.

But it matters to me in an indirect way. I care about humanity as a whole more than any part I play in it. I would like us to spread and thrive. Settle elsewhere. Expand, change, adapt, continue. Until I see proof of "others" (sort of like us), we "might" be the only". I don't expect we are, and that's as damn close to religion as I will ever get.

As I wouldn't want to eat the last deer, I wouldn't want to imagine the last of "us".
I am tying notes to balloons and tumble-weeds and sending them out to the world. Where they are found, I do not know...
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#34

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 10:06 PM)Alan V Wrote: It seems entirely possible to me that our present state of affairs, with all of its confusions, difficulties, and severe problems, may in fact be the very best our human world can ever be, exactly because we are limited creatures living in a limited world.  Except for certain islands of human efforts, it may be all downhill from here.  And most people do not behave better when everything around them is falling apart.  They turn against each other if they haven't already learned to be honest and to recognize realities.

I suppose this is why I, as one peculiar individual, don't understand the moral outrage over smaller problems.  Naturalism has been an eye-opener for me.

Oh, I didn't understand we were talking about smaller problems.

Of course there's a gradient upon which one might spend their moral outrage. But what are smaller problems to some are larger to others. Why get outraged because they don't share you priorities? Maybe having them work on their passions while you or I work on our own is a better division of labor? Maybe it helps us give meaning to our own individual lives, too.

Something like George Floyd's murder outrages me, while something like the Surfside condo collapse doesn't, precisely because of my own personal concerns.

Whatever it is that's smaller in your eyes can be pretty important in the eyes of others. Who's to say your concern is more meaningful? We each, for ourselves, define what is most important to us.
Freedom isn't free.
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#35

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 11:25 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote: Oh, I didn't understand we were talking about smaller problems.

Of course there's a gradient upon which one might spend their moral outrage. But what are smaller problems to some are larger to others. Why get outraged because they don't share you priorities? Maybe having them work on their passions while you or I work on our own is a better division of labor? Maybe it helps us give meaning to our own individual lives, too.

Something like George Floyd's murder outrages me, while something like the Surfside condo collapse doesn't, precisely because of my own personal concerns.

Whatever it is that's smaller in your eyes can be pretty important in the eyes of others. Who's to say your concern is more meaningful? We each, for ourselves, define what is most important to us.

I did change the subject somewhat.  It seems to me that climate change should be our top priority, since so much of the future depends on it.

I thought perhaps my original point had run its course.  I already elicited an interesting range of opinions, and that's as much as I was hoping for.

I guess the bottom line is that, after many disappointments, I no longer expect so much from people, including myself.  Others seem quite optimistic to me in thinking that they can improve the world further. But a naturalistic world can be adapted to human purposes only so far.
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#36

A Naturalistic World
(07-04-2021, 12:13 AM)Alan V Wrote:
(07-03-2021, 11:25 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote: Oh, I didn't understand we were talking about smaller problems.

Of course there's a gradient upon which one might spend their moral outrage. But what are smaller problems to some are larger to others. Why get outraged because they don't share you priorities? Maybe having them work on their passions while you or I work on our own is a better division of labor? Maybe it helps us give meaning to our own individual lives, too.

Something like George Floyd's murder outrages me, while something like the Surfside condo collapse doesn't, precisely because of my own personal concerns.

Whatever it is that's smaller in your eyes can be pretty important in the eyes of others. Who's to say your concern is more meaningful? We each, for ourselves, define what is most important to us.

I did change the subject somewhat.  It seems to me that climate change should be our top priority, since so much of the future depends on it.

I thought perhaps my original point had run its course.  I already elicited an interesting range of opinions, and that's as much as I was hoping for.

I guess the bottom line is that, after many disappointments, I no longer expect so much from people, including myself.  Others seem quite optimistic to me in thinking that they can improve the world further.  But a naturalistic world can be adapted to human purposes only so far.

Humans can improve the world, if they manage to correct mistakes already made. And if they manage to shed some of the less useful instincts. All that will take lots of time, and I don't think we have it. Maybe some will make it through and start from scratch. In that case, the now useless instincts will become useful again and round and round it goes. 

I do think there is a chance though that we can improve enough to make it. I am too old and have no horses in the race, but I would love to see some progress that opens up a better path.
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#37

A Naturalistic World
(07-04-2021, 12:13 AM)Alan V Wrote: I guess the bottom line is that, after many disappointments, I no longer expect so much from people, including myself.  Others seem quite optimistic to me in thinking that they can improve the world further.  But a naturalistic world can be adapted to human purposes only so far.

Such is life. You change the things you can, and worry about the things you can't at leisure.
Freedom isn't free.
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#38

A Naturalistic World
I kind of been having this debate of some forums, far, far away from here.

The Moral Nature Of Man Argument
If God created us, God must design us to create us.
Including designing mankind's moral nature.  God had three choices.

1.  Create man with a bad moral nature.
2.  Create mankind with an indifferent moral nature.
3.  Create man with a good moral nature.

Mankind has no possible free will.  Mankind's free will is constrained by
it's God given nature.  If God chooses to create us with a bad moral nature,
or an indifferent we will do moral evil.  Then, all moral evil is strictly God's
fault, not ours.

Since God would know this, a truly good, wise, all knowing,merciful and
compassionate God would give all mankind a good moral nature.
We would never knowingly do moral evil.

We do not live in such a world.  We live in a world with undeniable
moral evils in it. That God then, does not exist.

I get a lot of ad hominem attacks over this.  But no good answers.
I am a sovereign citizen of the Multiverse, and I vote!


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#39

A Naturalistic World
(07-03-2021, 05:18 PM)Alan V Wrote: I consider atheists to be realists and theists to be fabulists.  So no, I don't think theists are justified in their claims of objective moral systems.

I was just trying to understand what I consider the questionable behavior of certain atheists.  On the one hand, many claim that morality is relative and subjective, while on the other, many take what I consider hard moral positions, concerning politics and human behaviors for instance.  This seems hypocritical to me, so I was wondering if it bothered other atheists and whether they could explain it to me.

I guess this is the question: How do atheists justify their moral outrage in the face of naturalistic explanations for even harmful human behaviors?  

People are animals and sometimes behave like animals.  It's to be expected from time to time from naturalistic perspectives, so it shouldn't surprise atheists.  It's like the inevitability of wars.  They will never end, no matter how much we dislike them.  They are just one of the downsides of living in a naturalistic world.

Yeah. This bugs me too (the fact that self-proclaimed moral relativists sometimes express moral outrage).

But I suppose it's not completely out of the question for this to happen. After all, people get outraged when someone badmouths their favorite football team (or something that boils down to taste, opinion, or other arbitrary factors). People can get upset about opinions which they've become invested in.

But a lot of it doesn't gel. A number of the "relativists" really seem to insinuate that "X is wrong" when they criticize someone for doing X.

As you know, I think moral realism is stronger than people take it to be-- ie. I think an atheist brand of moral realism can be well argued for... and (in my assessment) it is just as reasonable as moral relativism or moral nihilism.

It's like... some folks don't make the connection that "nothing is inherently wrong" leads to the statement "there is nothing inherently wrong with what Hitler did."

I guess that's what bugs me.
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#40

A Naturalistic World
(07-05-2021, 02:14 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote:
(07-03-2021, 05:18 PM)Alan V Wrote: I consider atheists to be realists and theists to be fabulists.  So no, I don't think theists are justified in their claims of objective moral systems.

I was just trying to understand what I consider the questionable behavior of certain atheists.  On the one hand, many claim that morality is relative and subjective, while on the other, many take what I consider hard moral positions, concerning politics and human behaviors for instance.  This seems hypocritical to me, so I was wondering if it bothered other atheists and whether they could explain it to me.

I guess this is the question: How do atheists justify their moral outrage in the face of naturalistic explanations for even harmful human behaviors?  

People are animals and sometimes behave like animals.  It's to be expected from time to time from naturalistic perspectives, so it shouldn't surprise atheists.  It's like the inevitability of wars.  They will never end, no matter how much we dislike them.  They are just one of the downsides of living in a naturalistic world.

Yeah. This bugs me too (the fact that self-proclaimed moral relativists sometimes express moral outrage).

But I suppose it's not completely out of the question for this to happen. After all, people get outraged when someone badmouths their favorite football team (or something that boils down to taste, opinion, or other arbitrary factors). People can get upset about opinions which they've become invested in.

But a lot of it doesn't gel. A number of the "relativists" really seem to insinuate that "X is wrong" when they criticize someone for doing X.

As you know, I think moral realism is stronger than people take it to be-- ie. I think an atheist brand of moral realism can be well argued for... and (in my assessment) it is just as reasonable as moral relativism or moral nihilism.

It's like...  some folks don't make the connection that "nothing is inherently wrong" leads to the statement "there is nothing inherently wrong with what Hitler did."

I guess that's what bugs me.

Just because there is a naturalistic explanation doesn't mean that some behaviors don't need to be curtailed as they are harmful to humanity/society as a whole.

Very little of what we experience/learn actually makes it into our conscious mind. That means, very little control over our actions is available, because we can't fix what we don't consciously know. That makes free will very small segment of what makes us tick.

My issue is that outrage turns to trying to mete out punishment.  This results in many people being punished for what they can't control. Obviously, people who are harmful to society need to be kept from doing so again. But that doesn't really imply "punishment". I don't even want to know how many disordered people, who cannot control their disorder, occupy jail cells. We have come a long time from keeping them as "town idiot", or killing them. But now we just "punish" them in different ways.

We have a long ways to go.
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#41

A Naturalistic World
(07-05-2021, 02:14 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: As you know, I think moral realism is stronger than people take it to be-- i.e. I think an atheist brand of moral realism can be well argued for... and (in my assessment) it is just as reasonable as moral relativism or moral nihilism.

It's interesting you should mention moral realism, since I was just arguing in favor of a form of moral realism with an atheistic friend via an exchange of emails.  He asserted that without any God as an authority, we only have human sentiment to take its place.  Here is the substance of my several replies:

The basis of moral behavior is evolved human nature and not mere human sentiment. Ethical behaviors are what allow us to survive and thrive as a social species. Accuracy about human nature is about the facts, not about our feelings -- which are too often dishonest and unreliable.

I consider ethics objective (realistic) even if they are relative and change with different circumstances. The goal is still human thriving.

It's only because we framed moral behaviors in religious terms for far too long that we are confused about what they are for or where they come from.

My thesis is that most normal people behave immorally only because they lie to themselves or are lied to by others, because most people have enough empathy not to wish to hurt others while they are self-seeking. (Of course, there are exceptions to normal humans, like sociopaths.)

Both empathy and self-seeking are parts of human nature, and it is certainly possible to find a balance between both since human needs are fairly simple. We are under no compulsion to optimize everything.

It follows that moral outrage should be directed at dishonesty. I guess most atheists who post at this forum are outraged about various dishonesties, even if they may not realize they are embracing moral realism.

So Bucky and Danu (and possibly others) were right. My premises were incorrect.
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#42

A Naturalistic World
(07-05-2021, 04:46 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(07-05-2021, 02:14 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: As you know, I think moral realism is stronger than people take it to be-- i.e. I think an atheist brand of moral realism can be well argued for... and (in my assessment) it is just as reasonable as moral relativism or moral nihilism.

It's interesting you should mention moral realism, since I was just arguing in favor of a form of moral realism with an atheistic friend via an exchange of emails.  He asserted that without any God as an authority, we only have human sentiment to take its place.  Here is the substance of my several replies:

The basis of moral behavior is evolved human nature and not mere human sentiment.  Ethical behaviors are what allow us to survive and thrive as a social species.  Accuracy about human nature is about the facts, not about our feelings -- which are too often dishonest and unreliable.

I consider ethics objective (realistic) even if they are relative and change with different circumstances.  The goal is still human thriving.

It's only because we framed moral behaviors in religious terms for far too long that we are confused about what they are for or where they come from.

My thesis is that most normal people behave immorally only because they lie to themselves or are lied to by others, because most people have enough empathy not to wish to hurt others while they are self-seeking.  (Of course, there are exceptions to normal humans, like sociopaths.)

Both empathy and self-seeking are parts of human nature, and it is certainly possible to find a balance between both since human needs are fairly simple.  We are under no compulsion to optimize everything.

It follows that moral outrage should be directed at dishonesty.  I guess most atheists who post at this forum are outraged about various dishonesties, even if they may not realize they are embracing moral realism.

So Bucky and Danu (and possibly others) were right.  My premises were incorrect.

I do like Danu's point that the pendulum swings both ways. Evolution has given us both good and evil, so it's tough for me to draw a direct line from evolution to morality, as you have done.

I tend to see ethics as a "mental sense" much like he have a sense of quantity/number. Evolution gave us a "moral sense." And we use that sense, just like we use any of the senses evolution bestowed us with.

But that doesn't mean moral goals ought to be the same as evolutionary goals. We evolved eyes, but evolution doesn't decide which particular images we resolve with them.

Not like that's a knock-it-out-of-the-park theory or anything. But that's why I like these issues. There are no easy solutions; it requires all of our intellect to make even vague determinations about metaethics.

I'm more interested in arguing your theist friend. Here's a guy who seems to be saying that if God changed his mind about something, that would change the absolute rightness or wrongness of it. But how could that be? Would (or could) murder become acceptable moral behavior based solely on God's say so?
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#43

A Naturalistic World
(07-05-2021, 02:49 PM)Dom Wrote:
(07-05-2021, 02:14 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote:
(07-03-2021, 05:18 PM)Alan V Wrote: I consider atheists to be realists and theists to be fabulists.  So no, I don't think theists are justified in their claims of objective moral systems.

I was just trying to understand what I consider the questionable behavior of certain atheists.  On the one hand, many claim that morality is relative and subjective, while on the other, many take what I consider hard moral positions, concerning politics and human behaviors for instance.  This seems hypocritical to me, so I was wondering if it bothered other atheists and whether they could explain it to me.

I guess this is the question: How do atheists justify their moral outrage in the face of naturalistic explanations for even harmful human behaviors?  

People are animals and sometimes behave like animals.  It's to be expected from time to time from naturalistic perspectives, so it shouldn't surprise atheists.  It's like the inevitability of wars.  They will never end, no matter how much we dislike them.  They are just one of the downsides of living in a naturalistic world.

Yeah. This bugs me too (the fact that self-proclaimed moral relativists sometimes express moral outrage).

But I suppose it's not completely out of the question for this to happen. After all, people get outraged when someone badmouths their favorite football team (or something that boils down to taste, opinion, or other arbitrary factors). People can get upset about opinions which they've become invested in.

But a lot of it doesn't gel. A number of the "relativists" really seem to insinuate that "X is wrong" when they criticize someone for doing X.

As you know, I think moral realism is stronger than people take it to be-- ie. I think an atheist brand of moral realism can be well argued for... and (in my assessment) it is just as reasonable as moral relativism or moral nihilism.

It's like...  some folks don't make the connection that "nothing is inherently wrong" leads to the statement "there is nothing inherently wrong with what Hitler did."

I guess that's what bugs me.

Just because there is a naturalistic explanation doesn't mean that some behaviors don't need to be curtailed as they are harmful to humanity/society as a whole.

Very little of what we experience/learn actually makes it into our conscious mind. That means, very little control over our actions is available, because we can't fix what we don't consciously know. That makes free will very small segment of what makes us tick.

My issue is that outrage turns to trying to mete out punishment.  This results in many people being punished for what they can't control. Obviously, people who are harmful to society need to be kept from doing so again. But that doesn't really imply "punishment". I don't even want to know how many disordered people, who cannot control their disorder, occupy jail cells. We have come a long time from keeping them as "town idiot", or killing them. But now we just "punish" them in different ways.

We have a long ways to go.

Agreed. To me, "doing the right thing" means turning a worse state of affairs into a better one. I have grave doubts about the existence of free will which motivates me to look at what causes certain behavior more than looking at a person's choosing to do one thing over another.

That doesn't mean punishment (or even outrage) don't have a place. But they need to be part of a well-balanced diet whose goal is to improve things.
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#44

A Naturalistic World
(07-02-2021, 07:28 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote: Homo sapiens evolved to live in larger and larger social groups and structures.
That's the "natural" environment we find ourselves.
To do that we have legal structures, ethical systems and teach and learn values which promote the survival of both large and small groups.
Acting "naturalistically" does not imply or equate to acting only for a very small group.
No man is an island. Your assumptions might be flawed.


Actually, Buck, I don't see that at all.  We spent most of our evolutionary time evolving to live in small groups of 20-40 people in a Hunter/Gatherer lifestyle.  Urban life, for many but certainly not all, human dates back perhaps 8-10,000 years but most people continued to live in scattered farming communities.  As this chart shows, urban life only overtook rural life in 2009.

[Image: large_L9P-nBUsqArIw65cB6uuJdocIiYSZ7aJp4EjvYUpqZY.jpg]


WE have had precious little time to adjust our emotions to the stresses of urban life and it is getting worse, not better.  Maybe what we are seeing is the complete failure of humanity to adjust to its current status.

If so, we're fucked because it isn't changing any time soon.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#45

A Naturalistic World
(07-05-2021, 08:02 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: I'm more interested in arguing your theist friend. Here's a guy who seems to be saying that if God changed his mind about something, that would change the absolute rightness or wrongness of it. But how could that be? Would (or could) murder become acceptable moral behavior based solely on God's say so?

Actually, he is an atheist friend who was echoing a theistic-style argument.  I assume he hasn't been involved in many atheistic arguments about morality, or he wouldn't have made such an over-simplified argument.

And yes, many theists do believe that if God ordered them to murder, that would make murder right.  You only have to read their holy books to find that out, although many modern believers are probably quite thankful they hear no direct commands from God these days.   hobo

Even then, we more secular types typically have our own justifications for killing other people (in wars, by the police, to save other lives, or whatever).
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#46

A Naturalistic World
(07-05-2021, 09:41 PM)Alan V Wrote: Even then, we more secular types typically have our own justifications for killing other people (in wars, by the police, to save other lives, or whatever).

Sure, but these are better justifications than what a theist can offer.

"This act of killing another person is okay because my friend said it was okay."

--is hardly a good justification. We all agree. But what if we add:

"Did I mention that my friend is 6 feet tall and an expert at boxing?"

--Who cares? This hardly makes your friends determination more valid.

So let's add this:

"My friend is not only a good boxer, he can bench press 1,000 pounds."

--Still doesn't matter.

We can build this person's friend up, stronger and stronger until he becomes the omnipotent creator of the universe, and it still doesn't matter. The fact that he is powerful and strong doesn't make his opinion into fact.

***

In the case of "secular" justifications, we can look at what makes something wrong in the first place. Causing someone pain for example. We know that stabbing someone with a needle is bad because it causes them pain. If we accept that (all things being equal) a life with less pain is better than one with more pain, that's our basic justification for saying, "it's wrong to stab someone with a needle."

But then, what about delivering medication with a needle to cure a disease? That *is* stabbing someone with a needle. That *does* cause them pain. So how is that justified?

Well, we can examine what justifies the original prohibition against stabbing someone with a needle: "a life with less pain is better than one with more pain." But in this case, we are removing the pain and suffering of the disease and only adding the tiny pin prick. So our justification for "breaking the rule" is completely in line with why we chose to follow the rule in the first place.

Same goes for murder and killing in self-defense.
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#47

A Naturalistic World
(07-02-2021, 04:51 PM)Alan V Wrote: Atheists typically understand that this is a naturalistic world, with all that implies.  Yet they seem to express a fair amount of moral outrage when people behave naturalistically, i.e. in an opportunistic way to benefit themselves and their families and tribes.  Such are human default settings, as unfortunate as they may be in certain ways.  Transcending such limitations is a matter of education which not everyone can access.  Most people even seem to think it is somehow disloyal to take a wider perspective.

So while I understand moral objections idealistically, I don't understand why this situation surprises any atheist to the point of moral outrage.  It's not like atheists are in any position to insist that people should behave differently.

Perhaps someone could explain that to me.

Similarly, I find it interesting that many atheists refer to religion as if it's a detrimental external force affecting humans. If there is no god, religion was created by humans. If you think religion is horrible, then you should think humans are horrible.
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#48

A Naturalistic World
I do.  Particularly religitards who think their fairy tales give them the right to tell every one else how to live.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#49

A Naturalistic World
(07-06-2021, 03:53 PM)Minimalist Wrote: I do.  Particularly religitards who think their fairy tales give them the right to tell every one else how to live.

When you take away religion, you still have people who think they have the right to tell everyone else how to live.
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#50

A Naturalistic World
We humans ... we persistently grasp at the first comfortable deception and champion it's ability to fail us, at all costs.  
Monkey stooopids. Dodgy

If we acknowledge our indeterminate being in a determined world, we might break through to a more realistic sense of what we desire of humanity.  

Heart

On the whole, we tend toward an unfortunate sense of timing: too much, too little, too late.

Oh well, I've got a peanutbutter on rye sandwich with my name on it. Shy
________________________________________________
A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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