I hear many people argue that ethics would be impossible without there being an objective standard established by god. Does anyone know any good arguements around this?

I don't know why they would assume God=Moral Standard, but I don't have a really good argument against it.

Views: 66

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Well, I see ethical argument as being about trying to persuade people to agree with your views of right and wrong. Some people are by nature more opinionated than others but I can't imagine anyone (unless they are mentally ill) not thinking that some actions are to be deplored. So when one tries to persuade other people about one's moral position one tries to make arguments for one's position in terms which will allow other people to understand where one is coming from. Regardless of whether one is an objectivist, a relativist or a perspectivist, when one is trying to justify a moral position, one has to start somewhere with some or other basis that one thinks is likely to carry weight with other people. I think it is preferable to base one's position with some or other value(s) than to simply say my position is right because "God says so" or because "this is the social norm of my society" or because "that's just what I think".

What is the alternative to engaging in ethical discourse? To just rely on power?
What is different with an answer of "goddidit" to "that's just what I think?" It's still begging the question, particularly if we are talking about universal and objective morals.

To clarify, I am not an extreme moral relativist, I am however pretty strong in my cultural relativism, as studying anthropology has made me realize that we Westerners really like to take a lot of absolute stances on many issues and claiming us to be supremely right, when in fact, we might not be right at all because there is no clear answer.

I have therefore become very cautious when it comes to exclaiming anything to be general or universal, because I realize there will always be examples of the otherwise. Just because I find the lack of equality between men and women in a Bedouin society wrong, which is inherent from my own society's norms where men and women at least in theory should be equal, it doesn't mean their society is somehow wrong or completely despisable and must be changed. This is however something we as Westerners are doing. However, when talking to Bedouins about the inequalism they don't understand it as such at all and they are quite happy with how they live their lives regardless if men must be seperated from women when they sleep and that women's clothes must be washed seperately or that women cannot leave their homes without the escort of a man. There will be no great epiphany would these people take upon more typical Western morals of men and women, because in reality our society isn't greater then theirs.

This is why I am confident a relativistic stance is a better one to take, because who am I to tell them these people are wrong? I have absolutely no right at all, and that would be the only moral value I would consider slightly universal then, but this idea too, stems from our ideas of liberalism etc.

So yeah...
LeaT wrote on 11 March 2009 - "I have therefore become very cautious when it comes to exclaiming anything to be general or universal, because I realize there will always be examples of the otherwise. Just because I find the lack of equality between men and women in a Bedouin society wrong, which is inherent from my own society's norms where men and women at least in theory should be equal, it doesn't mean their society is somehow wrong or completely despisable and must be changed."

Trying to justify a moral position by appealing to universalistic/objectivist standards does not mean that you have to become overly opinionated or intolerant or that you must ignore context when making an evaluation. I agree that just because you believe that the lack of equality between men and women in a Bedouin society is wrong, it does not follow that their society is completely despisable. Nor does it necessarily follow that it is appropriate or wise to try to get them to change. Evaluating a situation is one thing, deciding what, if anything, to do about a negative evaluation, is another.

And I appreciate also that your anthropology studies may have broadened your mind and that behaviour that you may once have thought of as immoral you may now no longer think of as immoral. This may also lead you to try to understand the context in which an action takes place before making a negative evaluation. But this does not compel you to be a moral relativist.

From my understanding of what moral relativism is - i.e. that one holds the position that an action is wrong only if it does not comply with the dominant norms of a particular group - one is either a moral relativist or one is not. It is not clear to me what you mean when you say that you are not an extreme moral relativist. In what way would a moderate moral relativist differ from an extreme moral relativist?
For me, an extreme moral relativist would try to judge it from the inside, I cannot do that. I can merely judge from the outside but still trying to understand. True objectivism would be the opposite, no judgement trying to understand isn't needed, because it's all wrong or right regardless of social context.

You better explain to be there.
I am not quite sure how one can ever possibly judge any moral or ethical situation in a given social context and call this objective judgement, if the social rules and norms are taken into account in this judgement.
LeaT wrote on 13 March 2009 - "For me, an extreme moral relativist would try to judge it from the inside, I cannot do that. I can merely judge from the outside but still trying to understand."

It is still not clear to me whether you are an moral/ethical relativist. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines ethical relativism as "the theory that there are no universal or objective ethical standards, and that each culture develops its own." Do you subscribe to the theory of ethical relativism as defined?

LeaT continues on 13 March 2009 - "True objectivism would be the opposite, no judgement trying to understand isn't needed, because it's all wrong or right regardless of social context."

Could you give me an example of where a situation should be judged according to the moral norms of a particular group? In a previous post on 13 March 2009 you gave the example of female genital mutilation and I tried to show the manner in which I might go about arguing against it. You replied that I would not persuade the women of a cultural group that practised female genital mutilation. But moral disagreement does not compel me to become a moral relativist and accept, for example, that it was right for Nazis to persecute Jews.
I am not quite sure how one can ever possibly judge any moral or ethical situation in a given social context and call this objective judgement, if the social rules and norms are taken into account in this judgement.
It is those rules and norms that are being judged. They are the subject of the investigation and this is no different to examining any other phenomena and evaluating them. The term objective means here, as elsewhere, transcending one's own perceptions, preferences and prejudices to arrive at conclusions that would be shared by anyone else who rationally asses the case free of their own biases.
What is different with an answer of "goddidit" to "that's just what I think?" It's still begging the question, particularly if we are talking about universal and objective morals.
There is little difference as these are both subjective opinions and nothing more, the first based on a fantasy - that god exists and the latter based on a fiction - that moral values are subjective.
It is not clear to me how logic and reason can be applied in an ethical argument without an appeal to a value or a principle incorporating a value, even if only implicitly. Perhaps if you can give me an example, I will understand what you mean.
Hi this is an interesting thread but too long for me to read it all. Anyway you seem closer to my position than the others here.

Logic and reason need evidence and facts. A realistic basis requires referring to values that exist, and not to those that do not exist that are fictions or fantasy - such as deities.

There is not such thing as an ethical argument rather there are arguments where ethics is the domain, but such arguments use the same rational and empirical tools as in any other domain. That is there is no special or exceptional moral logic or reasoning upon which both stereotypical objectivists and subjectivists agree even as their solutions differ - that is I reject this presumption they both (mostly unwittingly) share.
Well, I see ethical argument as being about trying to persuade people to agree with your views of right and wrong.
You are on a hiding to nothing. Try and convince a creationist of the facts of evolution. If people do not want to agree then they will not. However is not the way to eatablish emprical truth. There is no such thing as "ethical argument" per se there is just the ratio-empirical challenge of establishing the facts and providing the best means of modeling those facts.
Faithlessgod - "is not the way to establish empirical truth[?] ... there is just the ratio-empirical challenge of establishing the facts and providing the best means of modeling those facts."

What sort of facts are you looking for? Facts about what values/principles/ behaviour/laws lead to the greatest happiness/human flourishing?
facts about values, what else?

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service