On what basis do condemn Nazi Germany?

 Pages PREV 1 2
 

Ranorak:

I like to quote a line from the latest Captain America movie.
"People often forget that the first country the Nazis invaded was their own."

Well that's just the kind of brainlessness and hogwash I'd expect from a Cap'n America movie (or, as a friend of mine said, "Only watching this because I really wonder just how much of that 'A-MUH-rica, fuck yeah!' shit they can stuff into the length of the movie").

Germany wasn't "invaded" by the Nazis. Okay, there was Hitler's attempt at a coup, but that got soundy crushed. Then they just used some less than scrupulous ways to swing the votes their way - something many modern political parties in the so-called civilized world are still guilty of.

Using the word "invade" in that context is just a cheap dick move, appealing to emotion.

The top Nazis were messed up, seriously. Hitler, Himmler, Goebbles, etc...yeah they were some really deranged men. What they were not, however, is comic book villains. And that's where Cap'n America and the similar stuff goes wrong. Dead wrong.

y'know how sometimes we hear stories about say the fringes of the US right (or the left but i think it's fair to be said less so) and something that has come out some governor or somethings mouth is so out of order even the right wing ppl here say they are a non representative fruitloop ?

the nazis where those guys.

only they got in and did everything they wanted to do.

Elcarsh:

al4674:
[snippity]

I have one question, to which I would like an honest answer before I will engage in this debate: is this thread just some thinly veiled attempt on your part at arguing that atheists are supposed to be immoral bastards because all morality needs to come from god?

Honestly, now.

It certainly seems that way to me.

If someone needs an invisible man in the sky threatening them with eternity in damnation in order to have some sort of moral compass, they're a pretty shitty person.

Rustlin' Jimmies:

Elcarsh:

al4674:
[snippity]

I have one question, to which I would like an honest answer before I will engage in this debate: is this thread just some thinly veiled attempt on your part at arguing that atheists are supposed to be immoral bastards because all morality needs to come from god?

Honestly, now.

It certainly seems that way to me.

If someone needs an invisible man in the sky threatening them with eternity in damnation in order to have some sort of moral compass, they're a pretty shitty person.

The idea behind the God as a source of morality argument is that without God there is no *objective* basis for morality - it becomes subjective and intersubjective only. This doesn't stop individuals from creating their own subjective moralities and therefore having their own "moral compass".

I think the OP is just pointing out that many modern atheists, especially the materialists among them, often don't recognize this fact and therefore have inconsistencies within their worldviews that need to be addressed.

TWRule:

Rustlin' Jimmies:

Elcarsh:

I have one question, to which I would like an honest answer before I will engage in this debate: is this thread just some thinly veiled attempt on your part at arguing that atheists are supposed to be immoral bastards because all morality needs to come from god?

Honestly, now.

It certainly seems that way to me.

If someone needs an invisible man in the sky threatening them with eternity in damnation in order to have some sort of moral compass, they're a pretty shitty person.

The idea behind the God as a source of morality argument is that without God there is no *objective* basis for morality - it becomes subjective and intersubjective only. This doesn't stop individuals from creating their own subjective moralities and therefore having their own "moral compass".

I think the OP is just pointing out that many modern atheists, especially the materialists among them, often don't recognize this fact and therefore have inconsistencies within their worldviews that need to be addressed.

Oh, bullshit. Even with "God," morality is subjective. Unless you're going to insist that, say, Unitarians and Roman Catholics don't worship the same deity. Every religion, every sect, and every person within every sect picks and chooses what they're going to believe or not.

The religious have just as many "inconsistencies within their worldviews" as the irreligious.

As a human I consider killing to be wrong in all but some cases. If nazi germany did a holocaust on all prisoners that where proven guilty of theft and murder id consider it morally detestable but that would not be absolute wrong, killing someone because they where born a certain way is Wrong with a capital W.

Even if the Nazi's won and ended up taking over the whole world though would it still be wrong? I'd like to think so, that the basic human given no coercion by society would say no to killing someone because they where born into something, lets say color because there are no cultures in this scenario. I think that should be the question we ask.

Everyone finds mass murders and serial rapists to be some of the worst criminals alive and there is science to back up that mass murders and serial rapists have different brain activity then normal people or different psychological problems. So lets say we show that a person that has never committed a crime has the same brain function and psychological problems as a mass murder to we kill that person? We want to say yes because we are afraid but do we? No, because they haven't done anything wrong.

Rustlin' Jimmies:

TWRule:

Rustlin' Jimmies:

It certainly seems that way to me.

If someone needs an invisible man in the sky threatening them with eternity in damnation in order to have some sort of moral compass, they're a pretty shitty person.

The idea behind the God as a source of morality argument is that without God there is no *objective* basis for morality - it becomes subjective and intersubjective only. This doesn't stop individuals from creating their own subjective moralities and therefore having their own "moral compass".

I think the OP is just pointing out that many modern atheists, especially the materialists among them, often don't recognize this fact and therefore have inconsistencies within their worldviews that need to be addressed.

Oh, bullshit. Even with "God," morality is subjective. Unless you're going to insist that, say, Unitarians and Roman Catholics don't worship the same deity. Every religion, every sect, and every person within every sect picks and chooses what they're going to believe or not.

The religious have just as many "inconsistencies within their worldviews" as the irreligious.

I didn't say that the religious had fewer inconsistencies. However, they can simply appeal to God, their source of absolute truth, who is capable of operating in ways that do not fit popular human logic, and be comfortable with saying that they don't fully understand how He makes it possible.

I agree that it is subjective, whether the currently religious recognize it or not (hence Nietzsche's proclamation that "God is dead" - modern day religious people haven't gotten the memo yet). God may have existed as an objective source of morality and knowledge back when everyone believed, but not so much now; maybe a religious person would try to have us return to such a world somehow, thus restoring God's position - though I personally see that as impossible.

I wouldn't say the method for starting a new religion is as conscious and deliberate as what you describe though (as long as the leadership is being authentic) - often they begin with someone having a mystic or prophetic experience and then teaching others what they learned through it and, if the followers are also being genuine, they have to somehow be moved by those same sorts of influences, perhaps through the leaders, to commit themselves to it. If they simply made a conscious choice without some kind of religious experience, they probably aren't going to genuinely dedicate themselves to it for long.

TWRule:
I agree that it is subjective, whether the currently religious recognize it or not (hence Nietzsche's proclamation that "God is dead" - modern day religious people haven't gotten the memo yet). God may have existed as an objective source of morality and knowledge back when everyone believed, but not so much now; maybe a religious person would try to have us return to such a world somehow, thus restoring God's position - though I personally see that as impossible.

No, that would still not have been anywhere close to an objective morality. It would still have been 100% subjective, as it'd still be a social construct from the people who started the religion.

Heck, even if god does exist, his morality is still only his subjective morality. Who says he's always got the right idea?

I don't know if morals are man-made constructs, but it's certainly a possibility.

TWRule:
I didn't say that the religious had fewer inconsistencies. However, they can simply appeal to God, their source of absolute truth, who is capable of operating in ways that do not fit popular human logic, and be comfortable with saying that they don't fully understand how He makes it possible.

Well, if you know Nietzsche, then another of his points is relevant in response to your statement: That's not true because everything is just an interpretation. Including religious interpretations. Especially religious interpretations.

Because one important thing to remember is that no gods exist. And even those who want to dispute that without having any evidence, will have to admit that their fictional gods don't answer the phone, don't return e-mails and generally aren't around to answer questions and provide clarity on their supposed will.

How can you form an objective universally applied moral from a rule of which everyone has his own interpretation?


Good example: homophobes. Many religious people are homophobes, some of them are not. Both sides insist their faith backs their point of view.

Elcarsh:
No, that would still not have been anywhere close to an objective morality. It would still have been 100% subjective, as it'd still be a social construct from the people who started the religion.

Heck, even if god does exist, his morality is still only his subjective morality. Who says he's always got the right idea?

I was trying to speak from the perspective of someone living in a world of antiquity where the belief was so widespread that it was just accepted as part of how the world was, thus "objective" (though from our modern day point of view, it was always intersubjective).

I would imagine for a genuinely religious person it's not that they ask themselves whether they should go with God or do something else; they are already in the midst of a relationship with God, and to them the universe is only intelligible through Him (and insofar as religion tries to provide substantial purpose in life where as we are pretty much without something to adequately replace that in secular life, they kind of have a point). Nothing else makes sense to them. He is the one who imparted the ability for us to distinguish right from wrong in the first place, after all (though a non-fundamentalist or non-believer could take that to mean that He wanted us to figure it out for ourselves collectively to some extent).

Blablahb:
Well, if you know Nietzsche, then another of his points is relevant in response to your statement: That's not true because everything is just an interpretation. Including religious interpretations. Especially religious interpretations.

And I agree with Nietzsche that everything is an interpretation - though that doesn't necessarily stop religious people from accepting in a self-consistent way how their view appears contradictory to an outsider (they just then have to accept that they'll never convert anyone using logical argumentation). There's nothing about competing interpretations that makes religiousity impossible - a religious person just usually has to appeal to a divine source to legitimize their interpretation within their religious community.

Because one important thing to remember is that no gods exist. And even those who want to dispute that without having any evidence, will have to admit that their fictional gods don't answer the phone, don't return e-mails and generally aren't around to answer questions and provide clarity on their supposed will.

I don't care to make claims about the nature of divinity, but I'm sure most religious people would agree that one needs to pray hard, keep faith strong, and hope that God will elucidate things when one is lost or confused; otherwise we have to do our best on our own.

How can you form an objective universally applied moral from a rule of which everyone has his own interpretation?
Good example: homophobes. Many religious people are homophobes, some of them are not. Both sides insist their faith backs their point of view.

It's not that there's necessarily an objective morality but an objective source of morality (God), and He has to make it clear in each person's mind what needs to be done, even if it leads to different interpretations. In many cases, religious people take it upon themselves to find the "right" interpretation among all those that exist, or create it if it does not already; that's a cornerstone of the Rabbi's role in Jewish communities, for example. We'd understand that as intersubjective, but in the context of faith, that distinction has little basis.

TWRule:
It's not that there's necessarily an objective morality but an objective source of morality (God), and He has to make it clear in each person's mind what needs to be done, even if it leads to different interpretations. In many cases, religious people take it upon themselves to find the "right" interpretation among all those that exist, or create it if it does not already; that's a cornerstone of the Rabbi's role in Jewish communities, for example. We'd understand that as intersubjective, but in the context of faith, that distinction has little basis.

This is better, but even then the notion that God is an objective source is mere assertion. God's view is arguably just another subjective stance, albeit a unique one. It bugs me that people will claim that atheism is inconsistent or just opinion based, when often the religious views of the people claiming such are the opinions of the individual adherent of a scriptural revelation of the words of a deity. Why someone should look down on an opinion when they are holding an opinion, about an opinion, about an opinion is beyond me.

And in my experience, the notion of intersubjectivity usually doesn't have much clout among religious people because instead of being properly analytical and considering that their views are subjective they instead often get caught up in member-waving contests about who the true believers are.

Blablahb:

Oirish_Martin:
It seems a teensy bit facile to push all of the blame for a social ill on religion. Something that threatens any social norm will be viewed with suspicion by people who are still behaving tribalistically. Religion won't help, and may be the worst aggravator, but to say it's the root cause is a bit much.

Except religion invented the social norm that's being threatened by the existance of homosexuals, and is thus the root cause.

You know that for sure, do you? How so?

they lost, not much to it really, since they lost, they were the bad guys

thaluikhain:
If morality is subjective, I can condemn whatever evil regimes I want.

Seems like an easy concept to me and it's why I always wonder when people act as though morality being subjective would really have that much of an impact on things.

Oirish_Martin:

TWRule:
It's not that there's necessarily an objective morality but an objective source of morality (God), and He has to make it clear in each person's mind what needs to be done, even if it leads to different interpretations. In many cases, religious people take it upon themselves to find the "right" interpretation among all those that exist, or create it if it does not already; that's a cornerstone of the Rabbi's role in Jewish communities, for example. We'd understand that as intersubjective, but in the context of faith, that distinction has little basis.

This is better, but even then the notion that God is an objective source is mere assertion. God's view is arguably just another subjective stance, albeit a unique one. It bugs me that people will claim that atheism is inconsistent or just opinion based, when often the religious views of the people claiming such are the opinions of the individual adherent of a scriptural revelation of the words of a deity. Why someone should look down on an opinion when they are holding an opinion, about an opinion, about an opinion is beyond me.

And in my experience, the notion of intersubjectivity usually doesn't have much clout among religious people because instead of being properly analytical and considering that their views are subjective they instead often get caught up in member-waving contests about who the true believers are.

You might be able to understand the underlying concerns of such people though: everyone wants some kind of "basis" or "anchor" for how to live their lives as it's easy to descend into nihilism if one accepts moral subjectivity/moral relativism. I'd say that religious people at least have the right idea insofar as they feel life should be filled with clear, strong purpose, and that there really should only be one "right" way - it's just that philosophically-minded individuals can't accept any ready-made answers like those religious people have accepted.

Unfortunately, I'd say that most popular secular worldviews are inconsistent (or, even more commonly, the people who champion them are inconsistent because they do not see and/or are unwilling to accept the logical consequences of their views). That's not a blow against secular thought in favor of religious thought, just an observation; I don't think anyone has found adequate answers to the biggest questions yet.

TWRule:
You might be able to understand the underlying concerns of such people though: everyone wants some kind of "basis" or "anchor" for how to live their lives as it's easy to descend into nihilism if one accepts moral subjectivity/moral relativism. I'd say that religious people at least have the right idea insofar as they feel life should be filled with clear, strong purpose, and that there really should only be one "right" way - it's just that philosophically-minded individuals can't accept any ready-made answers like those religious people have accepted.

No, I understand the motivation alright. You also highlighted the problem with this argument with the phrase "everyone wants". Merely wanting objective moral values to exist or a particular justification for them has little to do with whether they actually do exist that way, or exist at all. I know people like clear black-and-white binaries, but life doesn't necessarily play along with what we want, and actual moral dilemmas frequently fall outside the remit of a list of thou-shalts and thou-shalt nots.

And the critical point to remember with subjectivity is that it doesn't rule out a large degree of commonality in moral values in a population - although arguably this has an objective basis. People have a hierarchy of needs regardless of origins, and the same drives to avoid pain, death, etc. It's also straightforward enough to determine when someone is suffering or what might give someone reasonable cause to suffer pain or suffering. Couple this with basic reciprocity and you have the basis for basic moral values. It's tedious, to say the least, that when confronted with the merest hint of subjectivity the typical theistic response is to throw up one's hands and assume the worst kind of nihilism as a result.

Unfortunately, I'd say that most popular secular worldviews are inconsistent (or, even more commonly, the people who champion them are inconsistent because they do not see and/or are unwilling to accept the logical consequences of their views). That's not a blow against secular thought in favor of religious thought, just an observation; I don't think anyone has found adequate answers to the biggest questions yet.

And I'd say the people who usually claim secularism is being inconsistent and illogical are usually the ones who haven't looked hard enough at the assumptions underlying their own views.

The ones that assert without evidence that only deities are viable sources of objective morals, for example, and then project the implications of that assumption onto atheists.

TWRule:
I'd say that religious people at least have the right idea insofar as they feel life should be filled with clear, strong purpose, and that there really should only be one "right" way - it's just that philosophically-minded individuals can't accept any ready-made answers like those religious people have accepted.

That's an awful way of looking at it. People differ, so must their purposes in life. And the idea that there should only be one "right" way to live is diametrically opposed to the basis of modern secular democracies and pluralism. I'd hate to live in a world where only one way was the right way. Within certain limits, there has to be leeway for people to live freely and happily.

Skeleon:
That's an awful way of looking at it. People differ, so must their purposes in life. And the idea that there should only be one "right" way to live is diametrically opposed to the basis of modern secular democracies and pluralism. I'd hate to live in a world where only one way was the right way. Within certain limits, there has to be leeway for people to live freely and happily.

I don't see why people's essential purposes in life *should* differ - in many important ways, we are dependent on each other, and everyone's destinies are inevitably intertwined.

I detest the essential ideas behind modern secular democracy and pluralism, so I have no problem with the fact that it's diametrically opposed.

If the right way was also the happy way (which presumably it would be), then what's wrong with only the best life being lived? Freedom is pointless for its own sake - there's only freedom -for- something (finding the right way).

I'm not talking about every action of people being micromanaged - only the overarching purposes of their lives - that potentially leaves a great deal of flexibility, just without the cross purposes.

Oirish_Martin:
No, I understand the motivation alright. You also highlighted the problem with this argument with the phrase "everyone wants". Merely wanting objective moral values to exist or a particular justification for them has little to do with whether they actually do exist that way, or exist at all. I know people like clear black-and-white binaries, but life doesn't necessarily play along with what we want, and actual moral dilemmas frequently fall outside the remit of a list of thou-shalts and thou-shalt nots.

I thought I made clear in an earlier post that I don't believe God can still legitimately act as such an objective source in the modern age, only that he might have at one time, and religious people will refer to him that way still. I am personally not after such objective ground for morality, nor am I trying to defend modern religious persons; I was simply explaining the argument. However, I appear to not be doing a very good job, and there have been philosophers that have explained it much more eloquently than I am able, such as Nietzsche (and Kolakowski in his book "Religion: If there is no God" for a more plain analytical version).

And the critical point to remember with subjectivity is that it doesn't rule out a large degree of commonality in moral values in a population - although arguably this has an objective basis. People have a hierarchy of needs regardless of origins, and the same drives to avoid pain, death, etc. It's also straightforward enough to determine when someone is suffering or what might give someone reasonable cause to suffer pain or suffering. Couple this with basic reciprocity and you have the basis for basic moral values.

Sure, but such a (still intersubjective at best, not objective because it comes from us, not an external source) system would only function to keep society stable but not address the fundamental concern of giving life purpose, which is at the core of ethics.

It's tedious, to say the least, that when confronted with the merest hint of subjectivity the typical theistic response is to throw up one's hands and assume the worst kind of nihilism as a result.

I'm not sure that's fair considering my earlier example of the Jewish communities discussing different interpretations, or any number of other religions that have been handled in similar fashions. If anything, I'd just say they would want to avoid resigning themselves to saying "well, everyone has their own way and we'll just leave the discussion at that" - which is the point when nihilism is able to start creeping in.

And I'd say the people who usually claim secularism is being inconsistent and illogical are usually the ones who haven't looked hard enough at the assumptions underlying their own views.

Respectfully, I believe you misread my words above - I did not make sure a harsh or broad claim as you seem to think. I said many people holding such views tend to be inconsistent, not that such views in principle were inconsistent. It was not a critique directed at anyone in particular.

The ones that assert without evidence that only deities are viable sources of objective morals, for example, and then project the implications of that assumption onto atheists.

I'm not sure what sort of evidence you are talking about here. We're only discussing a priori principles. I only asserted that everyone, no matter their view, should try to be self-consistent. I don't appreciate your accusatory tone.

I'm not saying that materialists and atheists are inherently immoral or should only act in immoral ways, I'm just pointing out that their moral compass has no objective basis. Nothing is inherently bad or good, it all depends on the subjective perspectives of people.

Before WWII, there was an immense surge of legal positivism, eugenics and social Darwinism. Many human beings were stripped of their rights which we now hold self-evident (the right to life, the right to a humane life etc) - the blacks, the jews, the mentally handicapped, the diseased, heck even women. Such treatment was possible, because we had elevated man to the highest being, to the status of God. Man was the source of morality and laws, so man is to determine, what rules we should adhere to. The problem is that most people simply did not see the logical conclusions of this sort of reasoning.

Your average american in the 1900 did not take the implications of eugenics seriously. The idea that eugenics would lead to genocide was a myth to them, so it's understandable why the death camps in Nazi Germany shocked the world - the nazis simply took their extensive eugenics program to its logical conclusion, and the conclusion was not pretty at all.

After WWII, immense effort has been done to bind laws and morality with metaphysical principles - that there are transcendent rights and laws that no man can ever break. Nobody can take aways the life, property and dignity of another etc etc - human rights pretty much.

The point is that without appealing to some higher laws and standards, the Nurnberg trial would have been a farse. In Germany, what they did to the jews was not seen as immoral and was, in fact, legal and completely in accordance with the existing jurisprudence at the time, so the questions remain - What was immoral about the holocaust and the eugenics program? What are people appealing to when they say those things are wrong? What is the criteria by which people decide what laws are ''right'' and what laws are ''wrong''. How can you even determine an objective criteria on morality when people's ideas about ethics are so radically different?

Any reasonable person could see the grave perversity and absurdity of such justifications for the holocaust. People were forced to admit that man is not the sole source of laws and morality and that there are certain principles that are above man-made laws - for example, murdering an innocent person is always wrong. If the state decides to give out a law that permits killing innocent people, it would still be immoral regardless of its legal status.

So again, I ask - Without metaphysical principles, how can we justify moral claims and on what basis do we condemn Nazi Germany? My claims on morality are no better than that of Himmler, who am I to say that his convictions are incorrect. I have nothing to appeal to other than my own moral compass in a materialistic framework.

TWRule:
Sure, but such a (still intersubjective at best, not objective because it comes from us, not an external source)

Debatable. We don't define our own pain reflexes, drives, fears, hierarchy of needs. They are part of us, but they aren't something we have control over at the most basic level. They are an objective basis for morals.

system would only function to keep society stable but not address the fundamental concern of giving life purpose, which is at the core of ethics.

Er....no.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics

As with morals, etc, I have no idea why the religious feel the need to define so many things, like meaning, from on high and assert that this is more viable than basing one's morals, meaning etc. on other things. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. It is a purely evidence-free assertion.

I'm not sure that's fair considering my earlier example of the Jewish communities discussing different interpretations, or any number of other religions that have been handled in similar fashions. If anything, I'd just say they would want to avoid resigning themselves to saying "well, everyone has their own way and we'll just leave the discussion at that" - which is the point when nihilism is able to start creeping in.

It seems pretty fair to me given that you pretty much admitted it was intersubjective (as my described standard is), but why are you focusing more on secularist morality than on religious ones when they have the exact same property? You say everyone should be self-consistent but given what you've presented it seems like certain religious groups are in denial about the intersubjectivity of their beliefs, so surely that merits the greater criticism.

And you also seem to treat "nihilism" as something to be avoided, based on little more than human desire. It's not necessarily a bad thing.

Respectfully, I believe you misread my words above - I did not make sure a harsh or broad claim as you seem to think. I said many people holding such views tend to be inconsistent, not that such views in principle were inconsistent. It was not a critique directed at anyone in particular.

My point still stands.

I'm not sure what sort of evidence you are talking about here. We're only discussing a priori principles. I only asserted that everyone, no matter their view, should try to be self-consistent. I don't appreciate your accusatory tone.

Like I said, you don't seem to be turning your critique in a direction where it is particularly merited. You don't seem to like secularism, apparently, so perhaps this is simply just bias talking.

al4674:
I'm not saying that materialists and atheists are inherently immoral or should only act in immoral ways, I'm just pointing out that their moral compass has no objective basis. Nothing is inherently bad or good, it all depends on the subjective perspectives of people.

All moral compasses depend on the subjective perspectives of people, whether those people are willing to admit such or not.

The point is that without appealing to some higher laws and standards, the Nurnberg trial would have been a farse. In Germany, what they did to the jews was not seen as immoral and was, in fact, legal and completely in accordance with the existing jurisprudence at the time, so the questions remain - What was immoral about the holocaust and the eugenics program? What are people appealing to when they say those things are wrong? What is the criteria by which people decide what laws are ''right'' and what laws are ''wrong''. How can you even determine an objective criteria on morality when people's ideas about ethics are so radically different?

Higher laws and standards such as an ex post facto international consensus. Humans didn't think certain actions were just. So they punished. The airiness of their justification is mostly irrelevant.

Any reasonable person could see the grave perversity and absurdity of such justifications for the holocaust. People were forced to admit that man is not the sole source of laws and morality and that there are certain principles that are above man-made laws - for example, murdering an innocent person is always wrong. If the state decides to give out a law that permits killing innocent people, it would still be immoral regardless of its legal status.

They were forced to admit that they had lost a war. And while it is correct that legal positivism is a rather spare and unuseful approach to law or ethics, it's not because of a lack of objectivity. It's because of a lack of considering ethical questions altogether. Legal positivism is not at all a necessary consequence of materialism or atheism, so your criticism is flawed.

So again, I ask - Without metaphysical principles, how can we justify moral claims and on what basis do we condemn Nazi Germany? My claims on morality are no better than that of Himmler, who am I to say that his convictions are incorrect. I have nothing to appeal to other than my own moral compass in a materialistic framework.

And again I tell you: bombs and bare assertions. Who are you? A man with a gun-- potentially. The right side won from our perspective. And why did it win? Economy. Politics. Military strategy. In a word, power. And where did that come from? Humans. It's all us.

You don't have to have some 'objective' reason to favor your morality above Himmler's. You just need to disagree strongly enough.

al4674:
This is mostly a question to materialists and atheists. If we deny any metaphysical principle or transcendent moral laws, then we really have nothing to appeal to in this question.

Morals are man-made constructs and as such, are purely subjective. Some people think X is right and Y is wrong, while others think Y is more or less okay and X is wrong.

When we say that the holocaust was morally wrong, we're only appealing to our own subjective moral code. As the allies won WWII, we got to impose our morality on the losing sides by condemning the genocide which was legal and accepted in Germany at the time.

Human rights that were coined after the atrocities of the death camps are nothing more than a product of might-makes-right policy orchestrated by the victors. That also means that the morals and values we take self-evidently are, in fact, arbitrary and may change at any given moment.

Basically arguing morality in a materialistic framework equates to arguing whether Madonna is better than Lady Gaga. It's purely subjective based on one's own world views, biases and policies.

I'm not sure if this has been covered yet in the thread; if it has, then I add my voice. If it hasn't, then it should have been and I'm glad to be the first.

You trip up in assuming that there is something superior to subjective human morality. As in, something that is superhuman. Your word choices betray it, and I think that's intentional; you repeatedly say it's "nothing more" than subjective choice. That if you take away magic and metaphysics, then we have 'nothing left' to appeal to.

I'm not sure why you think we need something else to appeal to. Why you would abdicate our moral responsibility to each other. But fine, I'll address it.

The fact that we have "nothing" to appeal to but each other vastly increases the importance of refining and improving our moral framework. We only have each other to rely on, and therefor it is critically important that we all do our part; if we don't, the system breaks down as we see even today in some of the more brutal landscapes of the world. We don't have to go to Nazi Germany. We can go instead to rule under the Taliban, or North Korea. Hell on Earth doesn't exist only in the past; some people are living it right now.

When you realize that there's no sky-daddy who's going to come and regulate the kiddies, the importance that we are moral to each other becomes amplified. Society does not work if we act immorally. It's not sustainable. It may seem like some brutal dictatorships and nightmare regimes can last for a very long time, but that's because we're conditioned and evolved to see relatively short periods of time (60-100 years) as a 'long time'. It's not. Nazi Germany barely lasted a decade before they were destroyed and turned into the eternal pariah of the world. Nobody sheds a tear for the fall of the Khmer Rouge, or Stalinist Russia. Meanwhile, relatively more moral societies, like say the governments of England and USA and Sweden and so forth, have survived.

Cruelty is unsustainable for a successful society in the long term. We can see evidence of that around us in the world we currently live in. Many of the brutal theocracies in the middle east are prime examples of failed states; Syria and Afghanistan. Numerous brutal regimes in the African and Asian continents are poster children for places no sane person would choose to live, if they had the choice. Failed societies with no future, until fundamental moral and societal changes take them to a more sustainable tomorrow.

Altruism is completely vital for the success of a species like ours, that relies on one another for survival and comfort. To say that there is no "absolute moral authority" and therefor no basis for morality is to abdicate one's responsibilities. We owe it to each other. I expect it of you; you expect it of me. If we both cooperate, we flourish. If we do not, then we fail. Does it have to be more complicated than that? Is it truly a mystery to anybody why we are nice to one another? Why most of us recoil from tales of brutal violence, why we are generally reluctant to commit cruel acts, and feel regret? We are evolved that way, because our species would not have survived otherwise.

That this evolved sense of camaraderie breaks down is unsurprising; we are far from perfect creatures, and there are numerous other evolved instincts that are not so helpful. There was a time, perhaps, when fearing the Other was a beneficial response to members of competitor tribes; resources were scarce, and to survive, certain traits became beneficial. That is no longer the case, but instincts are difficult to do away with when they took hundreds of thousands of years to form. We're not going to be rid of them in just a few thousand years because we can walk on the moon now; we're advancing, technologically and socially, much faster than natural evolution can keep up, and we are therefor going to struggle with our less useful traits. We don't need an appendix or tonsils anymore. We don't need a coccyx. We don't need to be racist. Perhaps once upon a time these things were helpful, but that time is gone to time immemorial.

There are people in the world who do not share our morality. People who visit cruelty on others without remorse; sometimes we understand why they do these things, and sometimes we don't. But one thing is for certain: there is no evidence to suggest that our morality comes from anywhere but from within, and it is clear that no outside force is coming to save us from ourselves. It's the responsibility of each and every one of us to build the type of society we want to live in; or fail, and diminish, if we don't. We will only have ourselves to blame. I'm going to do my part, because I have a clear picture of the society I want to live in. I feel that that idea of society matches closely with other people's. Over long periods of time, longer than I'll be alive, this social conversation will continue, and though my voice is small, it is there.

My voice says Nazi Germany was bad. I feel I'm in the majority. That's all there needs to be.

On the basis that it conflicts with my chosen ethical system.

...so on pretty much the same basis as the religious, who've of course also chosen to believe, and what to more specifically believe in. Only my choice doesn't involve, as its factual basis, weird delusions of omnipotent beings, afterlives, and other such convenient lies seeking to mask intellectual bankruptcy.

Oirish_Martin:
Debatable. We don't define our own pain reflexes, drives, fears, hierarchy of needs. They are part of us, but they aren't something we have control over at the most basic level. They are an objective basis for morals.

Actually, we really do define all those things, with the exception of pain reflexes maybe (even though that still relies on us having the concept of what a pain reflex is), and furthermore, the thetic character that is crucial to morality is absent whenever you discuss facts; the way we choose to respond to such things is added by us.

Er....no.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics

If you're going to do this, I don't see how we can continue the discussion. Ethics is about what *should* be the case, not what has traditionally been or is popularly the case; you may as well link me a dictionary definition of "good"...In philosophy, everything is opening to questioning and reinterpretation - if my view differs from the traditional one, it's because it's my view.

As with morals, etc, I have no idea why the religious feel the need to define so many things, like meaning, from on high and assert that this is more viable than basing one's morals, meaning etc. on other things. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. It is a purely evidence-free assertion.

Like I said before, religious persons have their criteria for truth and secular persons have their (popular) set. Understood from the perspective of one set of criteria, the other won't make sense, which goes both ways. A religious person should be as unconcerned with providing empirical evidence for the truths God imparts to them as a scientifically-minded atheist should be to get a sign from God before inaugurating a new scientific theory.

It seems pretty fair to me given that you pretty much admitted it was intersubjective (as my described standard is), but why are you focusing more on secularist morality than on religious ones when they have the exact same property? You say everyone should be self-consistent but given what you've presented it seems like certain religious groups are in denial about the intersubjectivity of their beliefs, so surely that merits the greater criticism.

I was saying that your generalization about religious people's reaction to the idea of subjectivity was unfair because clearly what we're calling "religious people" is an eclectic community and they won't all react so dramatically. I was focusing on secularist morality because that is the topic of the thread, and because non-religious people are forced, just to keep self-consistent in their views, that there isn't an objective source of morality, whereas for religious people it used to be that they did have an objective source (as far as the world was concerned at the time) and still as (as far as the modern religious are concerned).

I was criticizing both sides: modern religious people for not recognizing how the world has changed such that there is no longer an objective source of morality or knowledge, and (I've actually been less specific against the average secular person so far) because they often fail to accept the consequences of their views, namely cognitive and existential nihilism (and this is especially true for the materialists the OP wants to focus on).

And you also seem to treat "nihilism" as something to be avoided, based on little more than human desire. It's not necessarily a bad thing.

From what standpoint? It's own? It's not so bad as long as there is a movement beyond it; if we satisfy ourselves with nihilism and make no effort to move beyond it, I'd say that's very bad. I am not sure what you have in mind here though...?

My point still stands.

Then I suppose I am just not sure what that point was exactly; why do we need to make such a baseless negative generalization about religious people? There are undoubtedly plenty of people on both sides that are guilty of failing to question what they've been handed.

Like I said, you don't seem to be turning your critique in a direction where it is particularly merited. You don't seem to like secularism, apparently, so perhaps this is simply just bias talking.

I'm afraid I don't understand. Which direction am I or should I be turning it in, in your eyes? I have no idea what you mean by "to like secularism". I think I've made clear in my earlier posts that I do not subscribe to any of the views being focused on in this thread, and my critique was only an offshoot of my explanation of the OP's argument. And yes, I'm speaking from my bias, because that's all anyone can speak from, as has been pointed out countless times in this thread by now. I am not intending to personally attack anyone, nor single out anyone's views beyond what is relevant to the thread topic, and I'd appreciate similar treatment.

TWRule:
Actually, we really do define all those things

No, we don't. We don't define the fact that we have this hierarchy of needs. We can choose to some degree how we react to them, but even that is dependent on a particular level of fulfilment of needs prior to that.

with the exception of pain reflexes maybe (even though that still relies on us having the concept of what a pain reflex is)

No, reflexes do not require conceptual knowledge of them for them to work.

and furthermore, the thetic character that is crucial to morality is absent whenever you discuss facts; the way we choose to respond to such things is added by us.

Which is why I am saying such facts are an objective basis for morals, not moral in and of themselves.

If you're going to do this, I don't see how we can continue the discussion. Ethics is about what *should* be the case, not what has traditionally been or is popularly the case; you may as well link me a dictionary definition of "good"...In philosophy, everything is opening to questioning and reinterpretation - if my view differs from the traditional one, it's because it's my view.

What will help the discussion continue is not inserting your own personal, differing definitions of words into the mix. Ethics generally refers to determining moral behaviour, not purpose. If you meant differently via some personal definition, then state it first.

Like I said before, religious persons have their criteria for truth and secular persons have their (popular) set. Understood from the perspective of one set of criteria, the other won't make sense, which goes both ways.

I would disagree with that, actually. I think the religious operate on a select set of (relaxed) criteria for anything regarding their own beliefs, and a different set for anything that doesn't - largely indistinguishably from those operating with a sceptical mindset. This is scarcely distinguishable from special pleading. If one is going to insist on consistency, then this would be more of a problem for the religious.

A religious person should be as unconcerned with providing empirical evidence for the truths God imparts to them as a scientifically-minded atheist should be to get a sign from God before inaugurating a new scientific theory.

I'm not stating that there be empirical evidence necessarily, a rational argument would be a start, but all that seems to be presented with regard to this issue is the moral argument, which is hardly sound, or the usual "but relativism is bad!!!!!!1" nonsense I referred to earlier.

And empirical evidence should be available if religion makes a claim about the natural world. No-one need provide evidence for anything if they so wish, but if people are going to call secularist morals "inconsistent" based on little more than an assertion that objective moral values require a deity, they're going to have to actually back that shit up if they want a snowball's chance of being taken seriously.

I was saying that your generalization about religious people's reaction to the idea of subjectivity was unfair because clearly what we're calling "religious people" is an eclectic community and they won't all react so dramatically. I was focusing on secularist morality because that is the topic of the thread, and because non-religious people are forced, just to keep self-consistent in their views, that there isn't an objective source of morality, whereas for religious people it used to be that they did have an objective source (as far as the world was concerned at the time) and still as (as far as the modern religious are concerned).

So your response criticising a generalisation resorts to a generalisation in turn about secularist morals. Right. Again, the non-religious don't have to reject objective morals as an objective basis for morals exists - the common nature of humans and using harm humans can suffer as a result of particular actions as a foundation for moral values.

Secondly, I did say it was a comment based on my experience, so I wasn't making a generalisation at all.

I was criticizing both sides: modern religious people for not recognizing how the world has changed such that there is no longer an objective source of morality or knowledge, and (I've actually been less specific against the average secular person so far) because they often fail to accept the consequences of their views, namely cognitive and existential nihilism.

But this is precisely the problem, you're insisting that secularist views hold unaddressed inconsistencies without actually justifying it. What are you basing it on? All you have referred to is the theistic assertion that objective morals require a deity (and if we're not supposed to be paying heed to each other's standards for truth, why should a secularist care about that?) and your "criticism" of the other side is not a criticism of their ideas but a criticism of their lack of realisation that people don't agree with them anymore, rather than addressing the obvious flaws in their assertion about objective moral values. Hardly even-handed.

From what standpoint? It's own? It's not so bad as long as there is a movement beyond it; if we satisfy ourselves with nihilism and make no effort to move beyond it, I'd say that's very bad. I am not sure what you have in mind here though...?

People defining their own meaning, in tandem with a set of values that allow as many people as possible to realise their own meaning. It's not "objective" in the sense that there is no deity ordaining it all from on high, but that is scarcely an adequate definition of objective.

Then I suppose I am just not sure what that point was exactly; why do we need to make such a baseless negative generalization about religious people? There are undoubtedly plenty of people on both sides that are guilty of failing to question what they've been handed.

Where did I make a generalisation about religious people? I made a critique of people who accuse secularist views on morals of being inconsistent, because in my experience they usually have not applied their scrutiny both ways.

I'm afraid I don't understand. Which direction am I or should I be turning it in, in your eyes?

Actually criticising the underpinnings of both the theistic and secularist views, instead of just the secularists, for one.

I have no idea what you mean by "to like secularism".

"I detest the essential ideas behind modern secular democracy and pluralism, so I have no problem with the fact that it's diametrically opposed."

Oirish_Martin:
-snip-

It seems to me that we are talking past each other and misunderstanding each other quite a bit at this point, and I get the feeling that you're not particularly open to listening to what I have to say, so I'm not going to continue debating point-for-point.

I've made it clear that I am not aligned to any camp being discussed in this thread, so your accusations of favoritism are unfounded. I am not going to embark on an irrelevant critique of religion just because it would please you. The topic of this thread is how a secular thinker can ground their morals, so let's just talk about that from here out.

Like many thinkers since Nietzsche, I do not believe there is a consistent objective basis for morality that the secular materialist can rely on. "Objectively" observable phenomena do not equate to an objective basis for morality because the schema of values which make up a morality come from within us, not anywhere else, and thus I call them subjective (and intersubjective). This is not to say that someone cannot decide that the principles of their morality will be "following my body's needs, and/or the needs of every human's body = the good", but in making that decision, you've created those values yourself, hence it is not objectively constructed in any way that I understand the word. When I said that many secular people display inconsistencies in their world views, I was specifically referring to those who believe science can provide all the answers necessary in life, when in reality, the logical consequence of such a scientific worldview is a purposeless, impersonal universe that offers no future for humanity (and no I don't feel like explaining this in detail right now, and it's not immediately relevant to either my point nor the thread topic) and that materialism generally relies on a mechanistic/deterministic model of the universe that can't justify the existence or even "illusion" of willful choice necessary for morality/ethics.

This does not mean that any subjective morality is invalid in principle. It means that each individual will see it differently. I suggested a method whereby we could evaluate these myriad views (besides encouraging everyone to be self-consistent): in terms of the direction, purpose, understanding of humanity, they espoused through their logical consequences. If you disagree with me, fine. I have at least given a straightforward answer to the OP's question that admits and stands by my own biases as best as I'm currently able, and I believe that's all the thread asked for.

TWRule:
The topic of this thread is how a secular thinker can ground their morals, so let's just talk about that from here out.

*reads the thread title*

No. No, it's not.

Yes, there was the thinly veiled attempt to cast the Nazi shenanigans as having been done "in the name of atheism, therefore atheists are horrible, horrible people", but no, this thread is about what basis the Third Reich is judged on nowadays.

I love how the OP implies that the Bible wasn't just written by people and that there's actually some kind of god dictating terms.

The bible is a man-made construct.

As such, everything in it was decided by a human. The principles it has in it are mostly sound.

Ok, like, 3 of them are, but still, those 3 are universal and stem from our days as pack animals.

Enjoy the rest of your liberal arts degree.

Vegosiux:
*reads the thread title*

No. No, it's not.

Yes, there was the thinly veiled attempt to cast the Nazi shenanigans as having been done "in the name of atheism, therefore atheists are horrible, horrible people", but no, this thread is about what basis the Third Reich is judged on nowadays.

*reads the actual OP and follow up posts*

Yes. Yes, it is. Nazi Germany is just the OP's chosen example, likely because it's something most people regard as obviously in the wrong or evil.

al4674:
This is mostly a question to materialists and atheists. If we deny any metaphysical principle or transcendent moral laws, then we really have nothing to appeal to in this question.

al4674:
So again, I ask - Without metaphysical principles, how can we justify moral claims and on what basis do we condemn Nazi Germany? My claims on morality are no better than that of Himmler, who am I to say that his convictions are incorrect. I have nothing to appeal to other than my own moral compass in a materialistic framework.

I don't necessarily think the OP was trying to call atheists or materialists horrible people, he was just asking them to consider the roots of their own biases.

 Pages PREV 1 2

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked