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Is lying wrong?





truespeed
You're taught from an early age not to lie,but why? If lying gets you what you want.why is that wrong?

I don't like to lie myself,I have never really questioned why,I know it's because I have always been taught that it is wrong. I know others,who lie without giving it a second thought,it just comes so naturally to them,but I have this thought process of where I think,I am in a situation where I need to lie,do I tell the lie? I do if I have to,but it involves a thought process,it it involves weighing up the "wrong" of lying versus the consequences of telling the truth.

So why is lying seen as wrong?
SonLight
Lying is normally seen as wrong because it shows disrespect for other people who aren't being told the truth. If getting what you want takes priority over that, then the basis of ethics might be just personal success, without regard for the interests of others. Generally people who can be counted on to tell the truth are respected for it, but in principle that could be because they're very successful liars and haven't ever been caught.

Another argument for not lying could be that it's a bad habit that is likely to get you in trouble at some point in time, even if it appears to be successful at the moment.

It sounds like you have the feeling that lying is and should be considered wrong, but are questioning whether it is just a matter of conditioning rather than a sound principle. I don't know how to pin it down any more than this without raising some controversial issues about why ethical behavior is the "best" way to behave in some sense.
Indi
truespeed wrote:
You're taught from an early age not to lie,but why? If lying gets you what you want.why is that wrong?

Why indeed.

This is a good question. Thinking deeply about this question was, in fact, one of the key ways i developed my own understanding of moral philosophy.

Once you start really looking into it, you'll realized what a muddy standard exists in general society and in most moral systems. Most people will readily say that lying is wrong... but they still do it pretty darn often, and if you press them you will soon find limits to how far they're willing to take that claim. The vast majority of people will actually defend the "little white lie". Quite a few will even defend lying for entertainment (example: hoaxes pulled for non-nefarious reasons that do no measurable harm, like fake viral advertising campaigns for movies). A smaller - but still not insignificant - number will even defend "dirtier" lies, like misrepresentations in advertising ("9 out of 10 doctors recommend brand X!").

If you want my position, it's quite simple: lying to another moral agent is ALWAYS wrong... no fine print, no exceptions. Always, always, always. Those problematic counter-cases - like "is it okay to lie to Nazis if they ask if you're hiding Jews" - simply go away by pointing out that when someone is intending to murder or do anything else immoral, they are clearly not acting as a moral agent, thus you have no more moral obligations to them (which is why it is also okay to fight them and even harm them, even though it's normally wrong to do those things).

But you'll find that's not a very popular position. A lot of people still buy into consequentialist moral systems, where lying is only wrong if/when the harm it causes (or might cause) outweighs the "good". But good luck getting clear answers from them on how to figure out what is good/bad, and how to weigh one against the other.
lightworker88
I'm lying when I say this--lying is not wrong. Very Happy

Seriously, the consequences of lying are more important than lying itself. That said, one should not get into the habit of it.
LxGoodies
Indi wrote:
lying to another moral agent is ALWAYS wrong... no fine print, no exceptions. Always, always, always. Those problematic counter-cases - like "is it okay to lie to Nazis if they ask if you're hiding Jews" - simply go away by pointing out that when someone is intending to murder or do anything else immoral, they are clearly not acting as a moral agent.

.. now I'm not defending nazi's in any way Indi, but is it only the addressee which is relevant for your choice ? Suppose the German SD (police) is asking questions.. when it's about innocent victims like jews, I tend to agree you can - should - lie about it, but what to do with this: suppose you know, some member of the resistance has brutally murdered your sister, because she has slept with a German soldier.. do you lie to the SD about it ? Same immoral addressee, different case..

There are difficult everyday cases I can think of, for example

- suppose you don't feel like going to work, is it okay to call your employer and say you are ill ..
- suppose someone told you in confidence he is suffering from a terminal disease, should you lie (or keep lying) to others about it..
- suppose your kid asks you about some christmas present you just bought, should you lie about it..
- suppose you know your son has murdered someone, can you lie about it to the police
- suppose you suspect your son to have murdered someone, can you lie about it to the police
- suppose you tell your mother she can't visit you because you're somewhere else.. but actually your house is a mess
Afaceinthematrix
Indi wrote:
If you want my position, it's quite simple: lying to another moral agent is ALWAYS wrong... no fine print, no exceptions.


A child in school wanting desparately to learn is a moral agent. Telling that child that the world is flat is clearly immoral then. But what about the necessary lies that we have to tell them as part of the learning process? You know that there are a lot of things in mathematics and sciences that we teach as truth despite the fact that they break down at some level (everything in high school physics seems to break down at the QM level from what I've heard (never having taken QM)). Telling a 3rd grader that 10+10 always equals 20 is where you should leave that at instead of confusing them by telling them that there are plenty of reasons in abstract algebra where that isn't true.

Quote:
- suppose you don't feel like going to work, is it okay to call your employer and say you are ill ..
- suppose someone told you in confidence he is suffering from a terminal disease, should you lie (or keep lying) to others about it..
- suppose your kid asks you about some christmas present you just bought, should you lie about it..
- suppose you know your son has murdered someone, can you lie about it to the police
- suppose you suspect your son to have murdered someone, can you lie about it to the police
- suppose you tell your mother she can't visit you because you're somewhere else.. but actually your house is a mess


- Don't call in sick if you're not sick. It's dishonest as well as a poor work ethic.
- Respond with, "Talk to Freddy about his health if you're interested in knowing"
- You'll find out on Christmas, Kid.
- You have to contemplate turning someone in for MURDER? I'd be more hurt that my child committed murder than of them going to jail. At that point, they're lost anyways and I'll turn them in.
- Same as above.
- Sorry, Mom. I'm not ready for company. Can we please reschedule?
Indi
LxGoodies wrote:
.. now I'm not defending nazi's in any way Indi, but is it only the addressee which is relevant for your choice ?

It is not the addressee that is relevant at all. I said that it is what the addressee intends that matters, not who they are (see here: "Those problematic counter-cases... simply go away by pointing out that when someone is intending to murder or do anything else immoral, they are clearly not acting as a moral agent..."). The reason it's okay to lie to Nazis hunting Jews is not because they're Nazis, but because they intend to harm the Jews.

If someone is trying to bring a murderer to justice then it would be immoral to lie to them... even if that "someone" is a Nazi and the murderer is a "good guy". All that matters is intent, not who they are.

LxGoodies wrote:
There are difficult everyday cases I can think of, for example

Afaceinthematrix has already pointed out how not difficult those cases are. Each case is ultimately exactly the same: consider what the asker intends to do with that information, and if its immoral it's okay to lie, otherwise don't lie... but of course, in all cases you're not obligated to answer at all if you can't or don't want to. In all the cases above the asker doesn't intend to do anything immoral with the information, so it would be immoral to lie. (But, as Afaceinthematrix demonstrates with answers #2 and #3, you don't necessarily have to just blurt out the information if you can't or don't want to. Saying "you can't lie" doesn't imply "you must spew out all information you have".)

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
A child in school wanting desparately to learn is a moral agent. Telling that child that the world is flat is clearly immoral then. But what about the necessary lies that we have to tell them as part of the learning process? You know that there are a lot of things in mathematics and sciences that we teach as truth despite the fact that they break down at some level (everything in high school physics seems to break down at the QM level from what I've heard (never having taken QM)). Telling a 3rd grader that 10+10 always equals 20 is where you should leave that at instead of confusing them by telling them that there are plenty of reasons in abstract algebra where that isn't true.

I've heard this objection before, but i don't know why this supposed to be a challenging corner case. The teacher can simply say, flat out, "this is a simplification" or "it's actually more complicated than this, but this will do for now". Or they can simply not say anything - no teacher is expected to teach EVERYTHING about a subject, which means that all students should expect that "there's more to it" than what they're currently being taught... at all levels of teaching, but particularly at the lower levels. I mean, geez, who could seriously get to the end of Math 101, then turn and scream angrily at their teacher, "WTF?!? There's a Math 201?!? WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US YOU WEREN'T TEACHING EVARYTHANG ABOUT MATH?!?!11!!? You lying piece of shit!!!"

Good grief, there are just certain standards of reasonable intelligence and understanding we have to assume people have in order to function as a society. If someone on the street asks me "got the time, mate", i can give them the time displayed on my cellphone without having to stand there and qualify it for ten minutes ("it's based on the time servers of my cell service provider... it's not synced to the atomic clock... i've noticed it drifts +/- a few minutes... when i said it was 4:38 i didn't mean exactly 4:38, because my display doesn't show the seconds and it might actually be closer to 4:39..."). I have to assume they understand the qualifications that come with the time i'm giving them. Similarly, we have to assume that students in an elementary - or even mid-level - class understand that what they're being taught is not the be-all and end-all sum total of knowledge in that subject. It is totally unreasonable to expect teachers to preface every single thing they teach with a content warning "may not be totally and completely total and complete".
betfunder
I lie all the time, what's wrong with it?
quanmechanix
In our society, as a child, we were taught by our parents, schools, or any other adult or people that lying is wrong because it is bad. But why is it bad? How come? Sad

In my perception, the wrongness of lying is based on one's own moral because many people that you'll ask will always tell you that lying is bad because we were taught not to lie in order to show the truth and not lie. Some will also say that it is right and others will tell you that I have done it a couple times or what, but do I get something bad? or they will tell you many other reasons. Many of us has his or her own beliefs and not of us share the same. Very Happy

Lying is always "Situational" and it is only wrong based on yourself. Cool
moncong
in many perspective, lie is not good..
sometime we just don't want hurt another
lightworker88
Check out "The Invention of Lying", starring Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner. The ads for it say "In a world where no one can lie, this man can lie." It's a comedy, but it gives good examples of how always telling the truth can be harmful, from Too-Much-Information to being discourteous because of it to being unable to conceive of fiction.
jajarvin
Lying is wrong.
You sometimes have to tell lies in order not to make someone unhappy.
SpaceInvader75
jajarvin wrote:
Lying is wrong.
You sometimes have to tell lies in order not to make someone unhappy.


I can see where this could be a problem. What if the lie you told somebody, in order to make them happy, actually ended up making them unhappy? I could give you an example of this if you want.
deanhills
SpaceInvader75 wrote:
jajarvin wrote:
Lying is wrong.
You sometimes have to tell lies in order not to make someone unhappy.


I can see where this could be a problem. What if the lie you told somebody, in order to make them happy, actually ended up making them unhappy? I could give you an example of this if you want.
Worse. What if the truth you thought you had told today become the lie of tomorrow? You were super convinced of something defending it almost to the death, and about a week later you wake up and realize it actually was a lie. When is the truth really the truth? Doesn't the truth mean by making a statement out of it, that there is a lie lurking immediately on its flip side. Sometimes you hit it on the truth side, but it could go otherwise too.

When people refer to me as honest I always feel uncomfortable with the statement as that is not true. I aspire to the truth, but for me it's a hit and miss affair. Humans have been too imperfectly designed to be really 100% truthful.
LxGoodies
deanhills wrote:
When people refer to me as honest I always feel uncomfortable with the statement as that is not true. I aspire to the truth, but for me it's a hit and miss affair. Humans have been too imperfectly designed to be really 100% truthful.

What about this one,

Anxious "I appreciate your honesty BUT (...)"

White lie ? He didn't appreciate what you said.. he just appreciated you were so honest about it Angel
SpaceInvader75
deanhills wrote:
SpaceInvader75 wrote:
jajarvin wrote:
Lying is wrong.
You sometimes have to tell lies in order not to make someone unhappy.


I can see where this could be a problem. What if the lie you told somebody, in order to make them happy, actually ended up making them unhappy? I could give you an example of this if you want.
Worse. What if the truth you thought you had told today become the lie of tomorrow? You were super convinced of something defending it almost to the death, and about a week later you wake up and realize it actually was a lie. When is the truth really the truth? Doesn't the truth mean by making a statement out of it, that there is a lie lurking immediately on its flip side. Sometimes you hit it on the truth side, but it could go otherwise too.

When people refer to me as honest I always feel uncomfortable with the statement as that is not true. I aspire to the truth, but for me it's a hit and miss affair. Humans have been too imperfectly designed to be really 100% truthful.


Well that's a very interesting point and possibly ties into why I say "I don't see things in black and white". The truth is that I don't really know the truth. But I'm not sure this applies in every situation. Smile
Maybe I should have asked for an example of when it is OK to lie to somebody in order not to hurt them.
deanhills
SpaceInvader75 wrote:

Maybe I should have asked for an example of when it is OK to lie to somebody in order not to hurt them.
You're right. Nothing is black and white. With regard to whether it's OK to lie not to hurt someone, I do that occasionally so am as guilty as most. But not so sure whether that is to make me feel good instead of doing what is best for the person. May not be good to lie to any one. Lies always get found out. Makes you less trustworthy as well as the person you lie to to make them feel good must know you are lying to them or if they don't know immediately may find it out later.
LxGoodies
Lyers can keep up certain lies for a long time ! I've know a guy who lost his parents unexpectedly (age 23) and never came to know (for sure) if his father was really his father..

Sometimes people keep stacking lies on top of lies.. for themselves.. to avoid some inconvenient thruth Confused

What about this one,

Quote:
Tammi’s son did believe in Santa Claus: he was still firmly a sweet child and not yet in sour and rebellious teenager territory, and she wanted him, at least for a while, to stay that way. So Tammi wanted to cancel the playdate to ensure that Ari would not tell her son, “There is no Santa – he’s just your parents”, and shake his belief.

I found this a troubling interaction because I thought Tammi was sacrificing her son’s friendship with Ari, who was real, in order to preserve his relationship with Santa Claus, who was not. Why was I so sure he didn’t exist? Not because I’ve never seen him – I’ve never seen Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli and she exists, or at least did as of this writing. And not because if I went to the North Pole, I wouldn’t see him and his elves – just a lot of snow and ice and so forth – because there are any number of explanations that would square with that. Santa might emit a field from his beard that makes people miss him, the elves might have a machine that causes light to bend, or I could have met him and then been convinced by Mrs Claus to undergo brain surgery that erased my memory

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/does-santa-claus-exist-why-we-teach-our-children-to-believe-in-father-christmas-9919141.html
Yonohikari
Quote:
The mere judgement of right or wrong is very subjective. It mostly depends on the perspective of whoever is judging.


Say, I killed Adolf Hitler before he became the cause of deaths of many people.

You might say killing Adolf Hitler is right because it will save many people. On the other hand killing him is wrong because the act itself is morally wrong. In this case, if you invoke moral judgment based on the action then I am wrong. It is because your are on a moral perspective.

Now, if you consider my purpose of killing him or my "intention" which is to save many people, it seems just right because I'd rather kill a person than that person killing many people. That is of course outside of the moral perspective.

Going back to your question
Quote:
Is lying wrong?
, it depends on the perspective you are willing to take. Many people grew up fulfilling their ancestor's tradition, hence preserving their perspective of right or wrong on many things. While others grew up being open-minded on many things.

Feel free to take your own perspective or to adapt others.
deanhills
LxGoodies wrote:
What about this one,

Quote:
Tammi’s son did believe in Santa Claus: he was still firmly a sweet child and not yet in sour and rebellious teenager territory, and she wanted him, at least for a while, to stay that way. So Tammi wanted to cancel the playdate to ensure that Ari would not tell her son, “There is no Santa – he’s just your parents”, and shake his belief.

I found this a troubling interaction because I thought Tammi was sacrificing her son’s friendship with Ari, who was real, in order to preserve his relationship with Santa Claus, who was not. Why was I so sure he didn’t exist? Not because I’ve never seen him – I’ve never seen Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli and she exists, or at least did as of this writing. And not because if I went to the North Pole, I wouldn’t see him and his elves – just a lot of snow and ice and so forth – because there are any number of explanations that would square with that. Santa might emit a field from his beard that makes people miss him, the elves might have a machine that causes light to bend, or I could have met him and then been convinced by Mrs Claus to undergo brain surgery that erased my memory

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/does-santa-claus-exist-why-we-teach-our-children-to-believe-in-father-christmas-9919141.html
This is a very good example Lx. A classic one of course. Very Happy I was thinking about this one yesterday when I was Googling some of Calvin's jokes after I noticed mOrpheuS's signature. Was thinking of this and had a flash of "insight" that kids may be much smarter today than we had been when we were kids. It's no longer a catastrophe to them - more like a logical question:

Indi
Yonohikari wrote:
Quote:
The mere judgement of right or wrong is very subjective. It mostly depends on the perspective of whoever is judging.


Say, I killed Adolf Hitler before he became the cause of deaths of many people.

You might say killing Adolf Hitler is right because it will save many people. On the other hand killing him is wrong because the act itself is morally wrong. In this case, if you invoke moral judgment based on the action then I am wrong. It is because your are on a moral perspective.

Now, if you consider my purpose of killing him or my "intention" which is to save many people, it seems just right because I'd rather kill a person than that person killing many people. That is of course outside of the moral perspective.

Going back to your question
Quote:
Is lying wrong?
, it depends on the perspective you are willing to take. Many people grew up fulfilling their ancestor's tradition, hence preserving their perspective of right or wrong on many things. While others grew up being open-minded on many things.

Feel free to take your own perspective or to adapt others.

This is unbelievably sloppy philosophy. You think everyone is allowed to have their own opinion about right and wrong? So, if i am of the opinion that it is right to stab you in the face, then i could go ahead and do it... and there would be no problem?

I mean, you'd disagree that stabbing you in the face is okay, sure, but that's just your opinion - which you're free to have. I'm not stopping you from having the opinion that it's wrong for me to stab you in the face. Go ahead and believe that. I just respectfully disagree, *facestab*.
Yonohikari
Indi wrote:
Yonohikari wrote:
Quote:
The mere judgement of right or wrong is very subjective. It mostly depends on the perspective of whoever is judging.


Say, I killed Adolf Hitler before he became the cause of deaths of many people.

You might say killing Adolf Hitler is right because it will save many people. On the other hand killing him is wrong because the act itself is morally wrong. In this case, if you invoke moral judgment based on the action then I am wrong. It is because your are on a moral perspective.

Now, if you consider my purpose of killing him or my "intention" which is to save many people, it seems just right because I'd rather kill a person than that person killing many people. That is of course outside of the moral perspective.

Going back to your question
Quote:
Is lying wrong?
, it depends on the perspective you are willing to take. Many people grew up fulfilling their ancestor's tradition, hence preserving their perspective of right or wrong on many things. While others grew up being open-minded on many things.

Feel free to take your own perspective or to adapt others.

This is unbelievably sloppy philosophy. You think everyone is allowed to have their own opinion about right and wrong? So, if i am of the opinion that it is right to stab you in the face, then i could go ahead and do it... and there would be no problem?

I mean, you'd disagree that stabbing you in the face is okay, sure, but that's just your opinion - which you're free to have. I'm not stopping you from having the opinion that it's wrong for me to stab you in the face. Go ahead and believe that. I just respectfully disagree, *facestab*.


Don't jump to conclusions, never ever. I have only stated part of the truth. Everyone must be allowed to have their personal opinion about things. If something is right or wrong, that doesn't mean it must be done. Again may I repeat that don't jump to conclusions especially if you re only seeing partly. Of course if that's your stand I will respect that.
sudipbanerjee
Lying is wrong. But in my opinion: if we lying just for fun and not to harm anybody then it is not wrong. In our Bengali there are two types of lying: 'mithya' which harms other and 'gul' which is for fun.
Indi
Yonohikari wrote:
Don't jump to conclusions, never ever. I have only stated part of the truth.

Why? Why didn't you state the whole truth? What is the point of holding something back? You know, a lie by omission is still a lie.

Yonohikari wrote:
Everyone must be allowed to have their personal opinion about things.

I hear this repeated over and over, but the people repeating it never seem to give it any real thought. It makes no damn sense to tell everyone that they can believe whatever they want to believe so long as it doesn't hurt anyone. Stop and think about it. What if they "want to believe" that setting people on fire doesn't really hurt them - it just frees their souls from this world of suffering and sends them to paradise? What are you going to tell them? That their belief hurts people? They believe it doesn't! And it's their belief, and you just said they MUST be allowed to have it.

That may seem like a silly example, but there are real people who have real beliefs that are that destructive. There really are people who believe that killing other people is what's best for them. And then there are cases that aren't quite that extreme, like the idiots who believe that vaccinations are harmful - their belief is making people sick and bringing back dangerous diseases that were once thought more or less eradicated.

Clearly you can't just let everyone believe whatever you want to believe, some beliefs are wrong. People who refuse to say that and say it's okay for everyone to believe anything are just fools and cowards.

sudipbanerjee wrote:
Lying is wrong. But in my opinion: if we lying just for fun and not to harm anybody then it is not wrong. In our Bengali there are two types of lying: 'mithya' which harms other and 'gul' which is for fun.

The only person who should get to decide whether something hurts them or not is the target of that thing... not the person doing it to them. It is not your place to decide that your lie doesn't harm someone else, it is theirs. If they are trying their hardest to understand the world to do some good, then you come along and lie to them for fun because you think it won't hurt them... you're an ******, plain and simple. And you're wrong.

Lying to someone is okay only when they've given you permission to lie to them.
sudipbanerjee
The only person who should get to decide whether something hurts them or not is the target of that thing... not the person doing it to them. It is not your place to decide that your lie doesn't harm someone else, it is theirs. If they are trying their hardest to understand the world to do some good, then you come along and lie to them for fun because you think it won't hurt them... you're an ******, plain and simple. And you're wrong.

Lying to someone is okay only when they've given you permission to lie to them.[/quote]

We always make fun with the people whom we loved like friends or close person. The fun process is vice versa i.e. to whom I am making fun he/she is also allowed to make fun to me. So I didn't thing it is wrong.
Indi
sudipbanerjee wrote:
We always make fun with the people whom we loved like friends or close person. The fun process is vice versa i.e. to whom I am making fun he/she is also allowed to make fun to me. So I didn't thing it is wrong.

Just like with lying, joking around with people is okay only when you have permission to joke around with them. If you have a friend and you're both okay with joking around with each other, that's fine, go ahead.

If you're joking around with someone who hasn't given you permission, you're actually just bullying them.
LxGoodies
There is a language misunderstanding here that illustrates something about "lying".. more specifically the accusation of lying,

Indi wrote:
Quote:
Yonohikari wrote:
Don't jump to conclusions, never ever. I have only stated part of the truth.


Why? Why didn't you state the whole truth? What is the point of holding something back? You know, a lie by omission is still a lie.

IMHO you cant be certain, Yonohikari is lying in this case ! Suppose, as a result of language misunderstanding, Yonohikari actually meant "a certain part of the collection of true statements" according to his views. Part of the (his) truth. Of course that part must be true (according to Yonohikari) because it is part of his perception of truth. And Yonohikari cannot tell you the WHOLE truth because he does not know all parts of the truth - that is all true things.. no one can. Yonohikari has no intention of hiding things in this case.. it is just a Japanese person using the word "part" in a context you're used to regard as hiding things.

More general observation: when someone has an opinion (or point of view) and you do not agree.. your opponent is not neccesarily a liar. For example, on this forum certain atheists often state that creationists are liars. I think a creationist is ONLY a liar when he knowingly tells us untrue things to support his beliefs. Sometimes, a creationist is truly lying when he starts out talking about science, like "you cannot be sure if dragons are not dinosaurs.." or "C14 dating cannot be prooved right so..". Then he is only lying about these things, when he actually knows otherwise. An educated person that sais these things is clearly lying. But when a creationist does not know.. he can honestly believe in it.

And in some cases you can never accuse the creationist: e.g. a true fundamentalist will simply tell you he rejects evolution, because it contradicts with Adam, Eve, Paradise and the snake.. who are we to tell him he is a liar ? We can only state he must be a naive believer.
Indi
LxGoodies wrote:
Indi wrote:
Quote:
Yonohikari wrote:
Don't jump to conclusions, never ever. I have only stated part of the truth.


Why? Why didn't you state the whole truth? What is the point of holding something back? You know, a lie by omission is still a lie.

IMHO you cant be certain, Yonohikari is lying in this case !

Yes. That's why i asked if he was. I didn't say he was.

Once again, you are reading things into what i wrote that aren't actually there. Look at what i wrote again. Where did i say he was lying? Where did i even imply it?

In fact, look at what i wrote exactly, and you'll see that i didn't accuse him of anything... i didn't assume the reason he had for not telling the whole truth, i was asking him for what the reason was. (You even highlighted me asking!) I didn't know why he held back part of the truth, so, naturally, i asked him why he did it. I also pointed out that if the reason he was holding back that information was to deceive, that was as bad as straight-up lying... but i didn't accuse him of it, because i don't know if that's why he did it (which is why i was asking).

Trust me, if i was going to accuse someone of lying, it would be crystal clear - i would say "you are lying" or "what you just said is a lie" or something like that. If there's one thing i've never been accused of, it's being vague and obtuse.

You should really stop assuming there's more to what i write than what i actually write, because, frankly, you're really bad at it.

LxGoodies wrote:
More general observation: when someone has an opinion (or point of view) and you do not agree.. your opponent is not neccesarily a liar. For example, on this forum certain atheists often state that creationists are liars. I think a creationist is ONLY a liar when he knowingly tells us untrue things to support his beliefs. Sometimes, a creationist is truly lying when he starts out talking about science, like "you cannot be sure if dragons are not dinosaurs.." or "C14 dating cannot be prooved right so..". Then he is only lying about these things, when he actually knows otherwise. An educated person that sais these things is clearly lying. But when a creationist does not know.. he can honestly believe in it.

And in some cases you can never accuse the creationist: e.g. a true fundamentalist will simply tell you he rejects evolution, because it contradicts with Adam, Eve, Paradise and the snake.. who are we to tell him he is a liar ? We can only state he must be a naive believer.

That is an entirely different issue, but if you want to go there...

I will NEVER call someone a liar unless i have sufficient reason to back that up. NEVER. Never, ever, ever. That includes not only creationists, but also terrorists, paedophiles, rapists, and the worst kind of scum... doesn't matter how horrible the person is, i will NEVER call them a liar, unless i have actually caught them lying (and even then, i still won't call them a liar, i will just say "they lied"... i only call people liars when they do it frequently enough that they simply can't be trusted anymore, which is very rare).

In those RARE cases where i have called creationists (for example) liars, it's because i have evidence that they are. Note: not merely evidence that they are wrong... evidence that they KNOW they are wrong yet continue to repeat the claim. In the case of most big-name creationists, these are people who have been corrected dozens of times... many, many, many times they have had a scientist tell them - to their face - that they are wrong on some technical claim, and why. Yet, the next day, that creationist will be back to repeating the things they were just told were wrong... and usually they even agreed they were wrong! That's why Bikerman created that list of common creationist claims: because they keep making them even after they have had it explained to them that they are wrong.

If you EVER see me calling someone a liar (which i almost never do, even when it's obviously true), you will see me backing it up with evidence at the same time.

(Incidentally, why do you people keep lumping me in with Bikerman? Can you seriously not tell us apart? Bikerman calls creationists liars. I don't. I don't exactly disagree with him, but that's not the point... he is the one actually calling them liars, not me. That's not my style; i just don't like throwing that word around, mostly because it requires too much explanation and it makes it too easy for them to play the persecution card. Besides, i think it's giving creationists too much credit. Usually the only time i'll ever refer to creationists as liars will be because someone else did first.)

I have no problems with naïve believers. They need to be helped, not insulted - they need to be educated on why their beliefs are wrong, and guided toward the truth. But the people who should know better - the people who don't want to know the truth, but who just want to stay with their comfortable beliefs, and who have been (repeatedly) told why their claims are false, yet continue to repeat them... they are creeps, plain and simple.
johans
lying is totally wrong. It is never been right nor correct.

ever since the world began it is never been considered as correct!
sudipbanerjee
Whats are the opinion about April Fool concept?
Bikerman
Just a comment on Indi's previous posting. He is quite correct - he rarely calls creationist liars.
I do - frequently - so if that is the accusation then direct it where it belongs - in MY direction. I don't see why others should be required to defend what I do - I'm quite capable of defending myself.

I take a more hardline stance than many. I regard false statements based on WILFUL ignorance as lying, plain and simple. Saying that a creationist isn't lying just because he/she might be ignorant of the realities is way too easy.

I am quite prepared to accept that SOME of them, indoctrinated since birth and 'sheltered' from any decent scientific education, don't deserve to be called liars and DO deserve to be handled gently in an attempt to steer them out of ignorance (educo). When a creationist refuses to consider the evidence and continues to make statements that are demonstrably false, however, then I call liar with no apology. Imagine someone making a demonstrably untrue statement and then sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting NAH NAH NAH as people try to present the conclusive evidence of their error. If they continue to make the statement then I say they are LYING.

There are other relevant examples of attempts to wriggle-out of pejorative labels by the 'believer' on the grounds that their beliefs are genuinely and sincerely held - and I regard them as equally bogus.
How often have you heard a Christian say that the label 'homophobic' cannot apply because their belief that gays are sinners is based on their deeply held faith?
By that logic there is no such thing as racism, sexism or homophobia, unless one seriously suggests that racists DON'T sincerely believe that some races are inferior, or sexists are not serious when they say that gender should determine rights/roles/opportunities.
I know quite a few racists and I can tell you that their racism is sincere - they are not pretending. Is anyone seriously going to suggest that sincere racism isn't actually racism?
Utter bilge.
Indi
sudipbanerjee wrote:
Whats are the opinion about April Fool concept?

I don't see a problem with it. There is a society-wide understanding that on April 1st, people and organizations do hoaxes and tricks. And, in fact, most people (myself included) enjoy seeing some of the imaginative and absurd things people come up with.

April Fools' Day is okay because it's basically universally agreed that it is a day for tricks and hoaxes. It's just like if you announced, "i'm going to tell a lie", then tell a lie - there's nothing wrong with that, because everyone knows that you were about to lie. The date "April 1st" is basically an announcement saying "what you hear or read today is quite likely to be a hoax", and everyone knows it. If you get tricked on April Fools', it's your own damn fault. It does happen to lots of people every year, but correct response is to just groan and realize you forgot what day it was.

Bikerman wrote:
I take a more hardline stance than many. I regard false statements based on WILFUL ignorance as lying, plain and simple. Saying that a creationist isn't lying just because he/she might be ignorant of the realities is way too easy.

Indeed. I don't disagree with that myself.

In fact the reason i prefer to avoid calling them "liars" is strategic. They are liars, but if they lie and i call them "liar", they will switch to defensive bluster or whining about how persecuted they are... which is their way of avoiding having to defend themselves for lying by turning it into a scrap rather than a discussion. I'm fine with scrapping, but it puts us on relatively level standing, and i'd like to avoid that and keep the advantage.

So instead i use a different tactic. If they lie and i don't call them "liar", and merely point out the lie, they have to either disavow the lie or dig deeper to "justify" it... and either way, i win that battle. If they disavow, i've got them on record admitting they lied, and if they ever try to use that lie again, it won't work. If they try to justify it, i'll encourage them heartily into digging their own pit - eventually they'll hit rock bottom and have to finally disavow, or they'll throw a fit and storm away like a petulant child.

It's not the most efficient tactic; it takes great patience and persistence, and in the short term it can appear to give them credit they don't deserve. But i prefer to play the long game, myself. In the long term, it's devastating.

Put another way, i don't think Bikerman's stance is more hardline than mine - quite the opposite, he's a teddy bear compared to me. One of my maxims is: The cruelest thing you can possibly do to someone who believes nonsense is to give them exactly what they want: treat their beliefs with the same level of seriousness as you treat serious beliefs, like scientific beliefs. That's why i prefer not to silence the people spewing nonsense; i prefer to coax them to commit to it, to put everything on the table to be studied... then i use rigorous reasoning and fact-checking to utterly demolish it.

The reason i prefer not to call these people liars is not because i'm nicer than Bikerman, it's because i'm much, much nastier.
LxGoodies
Bikerman wrote:
I regard false statements based on WILFUL ignorance as lying

Wow.. that means if people do not want to hear your argument you regard them as liars on the subject. That is indeed a radical approach to the term "liar" !

In my country, when someone is accused of lying, he has the impulse to punch the other in the nose for it, or at least feel the social pressure to do so. Because lying is regarded as bad intent, or having some hidden agenda, meant to harm. Things are not what they seem.. Deceit.

Maybe the English meaning of liar is different ? More like "not telling the thruth" (whose thruth Wink relative to..)

When someone does not want to listen to you, you don't connect. Or.. your opponent does not connect. Or both. Either case, there is some incompatibility. I would say.. my opponent is e.g. "building his own reality", constructing a world view based on invented assumptions. He is not lying, he is dreaming. Or believing something that is fake. Not a liar, more euuuhm.. victim-like. I pity them for their ignorance.
kaysch
I just thought about the two biggest lies that badly affected German history in the 20th century:
- the lie that Polish soldiers had attacked a pro-German radio station which then gave the German government the excuse to invade Poland in 1939
- the lie of the East German prime minister in 1961 that nobody had the intention to build a wall - 2 months before the construction actually started

I think I read somewhere that Hitler once said that if Germany will win the war nobody will ask questions anymore about how it started. In other words: people may get away with a lie if only they are powerful enough. Which is probably true in both cases. So is lying wrong? That depends on who can judge it.
Bikerman
LxGoodies wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
I regard false statements based on WILFUL ignorance as lying

Wow.. that means if people do not want to hear your argument you regard them as liars on the subject. That is indeed a radical approach to the term "liar" !
That is a gross distortion of what I wrote.
I never mentioned 'my argument' and certainly did not say that refusing to consider it made anyone a liar. The link you provided to the term I DID use - wilful ignorance - is quite clear and I have no problem with it. If people make an assertion and then refuse to acknowledge or even perceive the fact that there is definitive and conclusive evidence that the assertion is false (who actually presents that evidence is irrelevant since the evidence itself would not be 'my argument' but simply a summary of the logic and empirical observations in question) then they are LYING.
Of COURSE there is bad intent. When someone is trying to persuade others that the world is 6000 years old then they are being deceitful. They are doing harm and they are lying their socks off.
(And, before you or anyone else says 'they think they are doing the right thing' - no, sorry that doesn't wash. The racists I referred to in my last posting genuinely believe the world would be a better place if we had some sort of apartheid. They are still racists.)
Indi
kaysch wrote:
So is lying wrong? That depends on who can judge it.

No, it doesn't. Lying is ALWAYS wrong. You don't need anyone to judge it for it to be wrong anymore than you need someone to judge a rape before it becomes wrong.

Just because some people get away with lying does not make it right. People get away with lots of evil things. They're still evil.
kaysch
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
So is lying wrong? That depends on who can judge it.

No, it doesn't. Lying is ALWAYS wrong. You don't need anyone to judge it for it to be wrong anymore than you need someone to judge a rape before it becomes wrong. Just because some people get away with lying does not make it right. People get away with lots of evil things. They're still evil.


I disagree. That's black-and-white thinking.

You and I agree will certainly agree that those lies I mentioned were evil, but I'm trying to point out that assessing whether or not lying is wrong depends on somebody's perspective.

I believe the Nazi government (and presumably their followers at the time) assessed their lie as perfectly acceptable as it was serving a good purpose in their eyes, giving the German army an excuse to attack Poland. And so did Walter Ulbricht's lie, helping to prevent a mass escape from East Germany at the time. I'm sure the East German politburo and anybody involved in the background and supporting the idea behind it found that lie perfectly OK at the time, wicked as it may seem from today's perspective.

Let me give you an example of a common lie which is socially accepted. In some countries you will be asked "How are you?" as a form of politeness. And the socially accepted answer is "I'm fine, thanks, How are you?". Nobody is really interested in lengthy explanations that you feel worried because you have problems at work or because you feel bothered as you happen to have athlete's foot. Lies can prevent small talk from being uncomfortable and may be perfectly accepted in society.

Let me give you another example: If your wife asks you: "Darling, do you think my ass got bigger?" the right answer will not be: "Yes dear, it occurs to me that you had a few apple pies too many recently" even though that answer may perfectly reflect what you think. The answer she will prefer will be something like: "No dear, you are the most beautiful woman on earth, and I just love your behind." That lie may make her feel better than the truth, so it may be in everybody's interest to lie instead of hurting her.

Commercial negotiations would be unthinkable without lying. "Yes, I need your product no matter what" just puts you into a bad position, so why say that? The right attitude is "Your product has many defects but you're a nice guy and I am willing to help you if you offer me a good price."

I could add more examples to this list of circumstances in which lying is accepted, but if you want to watch a good film about the issue I'd recommend "The invention of lying" starring Ricky Gervais. It's a hilarious film.
http://www.veoh.com/watch/v199945684EAbbJZ2?h1=The+Invention+of+Lying+
LxGoodies
Is lying wrong when the speaker does not know he is lying.. or does not WANT to know he is lying (=wilful ignorance)

Bikerman wrote:
If people make an assertion and then refuse to acknowledge or even perceive the fact that there is definitive and conclusive evidence that the assertion is false (who actually presents that evidence is irrelevant since the evidence itself would not be 'my argument' but simply a summary of the logic and empirical observations in question) then they are LYING.

Discussions with creationists are not really useful anyway. You will never convince a creationist with some other absolute thruth (like "conclusive evidence") as a starting point. One's world view may not be compatible - is probably incompatible - with your definitive and conclusive evidence produced by mainstream science.

Even when a believer has relevant knowledge (eg Cees Dekker), he'll only shift his views (like Dekker did) when the evidence is toughing his expertise.. But he just won't accept your evidence outside his own field of expertise, like evolution, dating finds and fossil record.. he need not "refuse to acknowledge" your scientific thruth, he will simply ignore anyhing from models that do not fit and try to impose on you the simplified views of biblical science: biblical archeologogy, biology and anthropology. Because he actually regards that as science. His intent is to explain things, not lying.
Bikerman
Quote:
Is lying wrong when the speaker does not know he is lying..
It is not necessarily lying.
Quote:
or does not WANT to know he is lying (=wilful ignorance)
Yes.

Dekker is not a creationist - he accepts evolution and 'old earth'. Nor has he denied any scientific evidence to the best of my knowledge. He is a Christian, to be sure, but he takes a stance which doesn't contradict scientific evidence (theistic evolution) even though it DOES involve a 'model' which is essentially non-scientific in that it is untestable, and is non-parsimonious and thus would upset old Okham and his razor. I wouldn't say he lies - I would say he is misguided.
Indi
kaysch wrote:
I disagree. That's black-and-white thinking.

So what? What's wrong with black-or-white thinking? Are you "grey" on the question of whether 1 + 1 = 2? I seriously doubt it.

Black-or-white thinking is not a problem in and of itself. It is only a problem when you use it in a situation that isn't black-or-white (just like "grey" thinking is a problem when you use it in a situation that is black-or-white). But this is a black-or-white situation. Right and wrong is not "grey", it is quite black-or-white. That's why they call it "right or wrong" and not "right, wrong, or rightish-wrongish".

Here is the black-or-white equation of the morality of lying: it is immoral any time you intend to deceive another moral agent, always, everywhere. No exceptions. The reason why that's immoral is because it's always immoral to use moral agents as mere tools - especially without their knowledge or consent - and that's what you're doing when you deceive: you're using a moral agent as a tool to accomplish something that you want, and to hell with them. You can try to convince yourself that it benefits them, too, but if that were really true you shouldn't have a problem with letting them in your plan.

kaysch wrote:
You and I agree will certainly agree that those lies I mentioned were evil, but I'm trying to point out that assessing whether or not lying is wrong depends on somebody's perspective.

No it isn't. Perspective doesn't change morality any more than it changes mathematics. The only thing perspective changes is opinion. You don't seriously believe morality is a matter of opinion, do you? I would hope not.

kaysch wrote:
I believe the Nazi government (and presumably their followers at the time) assessed their lie as perfectly acceptable as it was serving a good purpose in their eyes, giving the German army an excuse to attack Poland. And so did Walter Ulbricht's lie, helping to prevent a mass escape from East Germany at the time. I'm sure the East German politburo and anybody involved in the background and supporting the idea behind it found that lie perfectly OK at the time, wicked as it may seem from today's perspective.

I believe they thought those things, too. And their conclusions were wrong; what they were doing was absolutely immoral, even if they didn't want to believe it. The fact that they were wrong doesn't mean that the morality of lying isn't universal any more than the fact that they were wrong about physics means that the laws of physics aren't universal. Just because someone disagrees with a fact doesn't make that fact a matter of opinion.

And here are two facts to keep in mind. First, there were plenty of Germans who knew what the Nazis were doing was horribly immoral - or "wicked", if you prefer - so clearly not everyone agreed with Goebbels's or Ulbricht's assessments. Second, if the Nazis themselves didn't believe that what they were doing was immoral, they wouldn't have been underhanded about it. One of the most basic litmus tests for morality is to ask "would i still do this if the people being affected knew i was doing it?" If the answer is no, then it's probably immoral.

kaysch wrote:
Let me give you an example of a common lie which is socially accepted. In some countries you will be asked "How are you?" as a form of politeness. And the socially accepted answer is "I'm fine, thanks, How are you?". Nobody is really interested in lengthy explanations that you feel worried because you have problems at work or because you feel bothered as you happen to have athlete's foot. Lies can prevent small talk from being uncomfortable and may be perfectly accepted in society.

I hear that objection all the time, and it always strikes me as both astonishingly silly and obviously untrue. In my experience, when you ask people how they're doing, they will tell you the truth. No, they won't go into "lengthy explanations" unless you ask (at least most people won't). But unless they're the kind of person who routinely lies about themselves, they will give you an honest answer. (And if they are the kind of person that routinely lies about themselves, and the person asking "how are you" knows it, they will usually dig deeper to find the truth.)

The vast majority of the time that honest answer is is "i'm fine", because the vast majority of the time that's actually how they're doing - not spectacularly good nor bad, but all things considered: "fine". Nothing of earth-shattering interest to report. But in other cases i've gotten answers like "i've been better", or "great!", or a shrug and "eh, tough times all 'round, you know?", or "oh, i've been nursing this cold for days now", or "not bad; won $50 bucks on a scratch ticket last week!", or "excited about the holidays!", or (wincing) "just got my Christmas credit card bill", or... lots of things.

No, people don't just answer "fine" all the time, and people don't just "expect" that. In fact, "how are you doing?" is usually an attempt to spark up a conversation - you're inviting the other person to raise a topic that is current in their life. They may take the opening, or they may not if they can't think of anything new and interesting about themselves to talk about.

The idea that we all lie routinely for social cohesion is complete bullshit. The response we give to questions like that is highly dependent on the relationship we have with the person asking, and the current situation. In the case where we're talking to someone we barely know or we're in a situation where we can't chat long, sure, we give a very abbreviated answer... but no one seriously believes they lie when they give a quick "fine" in response.

kaysch wrote:
Let me give you another example: If your wife asks you: "Darling, do you think my ass got bigger?" the right answer will not be: "Yes dear, it occurs to me that you had a few apple pies too many recently" even though that answer may perfectly reflect what you think. The answer she will prefer will be something like: "No dear, you are the most beautiful woman on earth, and I just love your behind." That lie may make her feel better than the truth, so it may be in everybody's interest to lie instead of hurting her.

You know, that example is astonishingly insulting and patronizing toward women. This may come as shocking news, but women are not delicate little infants who need to be protected from reality, and they're not vain to the point where a single comment that punctures their self-image will cause them any harm.

The right answer to that question is the truth. Don't lie to your freaking wife. If she asks that question, give her enough credit as an adult human being to presume she genuinely wants to know.

And if she really doesn't, she's a fool for asking, and expecting you to lie to her. I don't know what your relationships have been like, but every partner I've ever had has expected me to be truthful with them. I would imagine most people would agree that relationships should be built on trust and honesty, not ego-stroking lies.

kaysch wrote:
Commercial negotiations would be unthinkable without lying.

I'll bet you only believe that when you're the one doing the lying, not the one being lied to. If you seriously do believe that it's okay to lie in commercial transactions, then i have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

I don't understand why people who try to argue for lying are pathologically unable to hold any information back. I mean, they must be, because whenever i say "lying is wrong", i ALWAYS get some kind of response along the lies of "you can't tell people everything!!!!11!!1!1!"

Just because you can't lie, that doesn't mean you're obligated to dump everything out on the table for everyone to see. In this case, you are not the least bit obligated to tell the salesperson how badly you want the item, how much you're willing to pay for it, or anything, really. If the salesperson asks "do you really need this" and you respond with "Yes, I need your product no matter what", that's not an example of honesty, that's an example of idiocy. Just don't answer. If a salesperson asked me that, i'd shoot right back: "why? don't you want to sell it?" Hell, if i wanted to use a pressure tactic i might even add, "Because if you're not serious about wanting to sell this, tell me now. I'm not interested in having my time wasted." Not a single lie in there.

That's true in all of these cases you've brought up. When someone asks "how are you?", that doesn't mean your only two options are to lie, or to tell them your entire current life situation. It's perfectly alright to brush the question off with "i'm surviving" or some similar quip. Hell, you don't need to answer at all! Just respond with with, "how are you?"

And if someone asks you if they've gained weight, you don't need to insult them by saying something as stupid as "you've been eating too many pies". (Besides, for all you know that's not really the reason they've gained weight. It could be a side effect of some medication they're on, some kind of allergic reaction to something, or it could be a symptom of a serious medical problem. One of my cousins started gaining weight - turned out she had ovarian cancer. You're seriously not doing your wife any favours by lying to her about it if it's true.) Just tell them the truth: "I think so." If you care about them, you can ask why they're asking - because don't you care about why they're concerned? (Or do you not care about your wife that much? See that's the problem with lying to people to avoid conflict. It means you care more about the peace than the people.)

kaysch wrote:
I could add more examples to this list of circumstances in which lying is accepted, but if you want to watch a good film about the issue I'd recommend "The invention of lying" starring Ricky Gervais. It's a hilarious film.
http://www.veoh.com/watch/v199945684EAbbJZ2?h1=The+Invention+of+Lying+

Dude... that is a comedy film. -_- (And not a particularly great one, from what i've heard.) Ricky Gervais is a comedian. That is no more a serious, philosophical consideration of the ethics lying than Shaolin Soccer is a serious, philosophical consideration of the benefits of learning kung fu.

LxGoodies wrote:
Is lying wrong when the speaker does not know he is lying...

No. Honest mistakes are not lies. They're called "honest" mistakes for a reason.

LxGoodies wrote:
... or does not WANT to know he is lying (=wilful ignorance)

Yes. You might want to read the first part of Clifford's The Ethics of Belief. It's about precisely that kind of thing.
kaysch
Indi wrote:
What's wrong with black-or-white thinking? (...) Black-or-white thinking is (...) a problem when you use it in a situation that isn't black-or-white.

But that's exactly what you are doing. Morality is not black-or-white. It changes over time, it changes from person to person, and sometimes even individuals change their minds and their morality. Take discussions about controversial subjects such as abortion laws, the use of nuclear energy or assisted suicide and you'll find everybody has their own opinion about what is right or wrong and what should be done. And if you ask the same questions again in 10 years from now the results of your poll will change. Socio-political issues just don't follow mathematical rules, it's not a 1+1=2 equation. People have different mindsets, if it were different we'd all have to follow the Beloved Leader Kim Jong-Un and his wonderful philosophy. Wink

Indi wrote:
Right and wrong is not "grey", it is quite black-or-white. That's why they call it "right or wrong" and not "right, wrong, or rightish-wrongish".

No, it's not. There is "no alternative to this", "right", "not entirely correct", "ok", "so-and-so", "wrong but understandable", "wrong", "utterly wrong" and so on and so forth. The world is full of colours, and so is often the question of whether something is right or wrong. People even find valid justifications for breaking the law ("we have to break the speed limit to get to the hospital, otherwise my niece will most probably die").

Indi wrote:
Here is the black-or-white equation of the morality of lying: it is immoral any time you intend to deceive another moral agent, always, everywhere. No exceptions. The reason why that's immoral is because it's always immoral to use moral agents as mere tools - especially without their knowledge or consent - and that's what you're doing when you deceive: you're using a moral agent as a tool to accomplish something that you want, and to hell with them. You can try to convince yourself that it benefits them, too, but if that were really true you shouldn't have a problem with letting them in your plan.

I think I have given you examples that support the opposite. There are enough people around this world who will think lying is OK, given a specific circumstance. Just because you don't approve of the idea doesn't mean that others have to share your opinion.

Indi wrote:
No it isn't. Perspective doesn't change morality any more than it changes mathematics. The only thing perspective changes is opinion. You don't seriously believe morality is a matter of opinion, do you? I would hope not.

Yes, that's exactly what I think. Nobody has a monopoly on morality. It depends on the individual, the surrounding culture, on religious or philosophical beliefs, political opinions, time and much more.

Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
I believe the Nazi government (and presumably their followers at the time) assessed their lie as perfectly acceptable as it was serving a good purpose in their eyes, giving the German army an excuse to attack Poland. And so did Walter Ulbricht's lie, helping to prevent a mass escape from East Germany at the time. I'm sure the East German politburo and anybody involved in the background and supporting the idea behind it found that lie perfectly OK at the time, wicked as it may seem from today's perspective.

I believe they thought those things, too. And their conclusions were wrong.

In their eyes their lies were perfectly legitimate, serving the highest morality, i.e. their ideology.

Indi wrote:
First, there were plenty of Germans who knew what the Nazis were doing was horribly immoral - or "wicked", if you prefer - so clearly not everyone agreed with Goebbels's or Ulbricht's assessments.

Thanks Indi. That's exactly the point I am trying to make.

Indi wrote:
Second, if the Nazis themselves didn't believe that what they were doing was immoral, they wouldn't have been underhanded about it. One of the most basic litmus tests for morality is to ask "would i still do this if the people being affected knew i was doing it?" If the answer is no, then it's probably immoral.

So to check whether he was being immoral Goebbels should have carried out a poll among Poles and find out whether they liked the idea to be invaded based on a faked attack on a radio station? Come on, you can't be that naive. Tell a Nazi official during WWII that you didn't agree with his ideas, and you would have probably ended up in jail or worse. So much for a universal right or wrong, irregardless of power, time and personal opinion.

Indi wrote:
In my experience, when you ask people how they're doing, they will tell you the truth.

The response we give to questions like that is highly dependent on the relationship we have with the person asking, and the current situation.

Those 2 statements contradict each other.

Indi wrote:
no one seriously believes they lie when they give a quick "fine" in response.

I do if in reality I don't feel fine.

Indi wrote:
The right answer to that question is the truth. Don't lie to your freaking wife. If she asks that question, give her enough credit as an adult human being to presume she genuinely wants to know. And if she really doesn't, she's a fool for asking, and expecting you to lie to her.

So if your wife asks you that question, you're suggesting to tell her she's not only fat but also stupid because she expected you to give her some moral support? Fine, if you think that's a good way to make her happy...

Indi wrote:
I don't know what your relationships have been like, but every partner I've ever had has expected me to be truthful with them. I would imagine most people would agree that relationships should be built on trust and honesty, not ego-stroking lies.

You are very privileged to have a partner who enjoys being humiliated and accepts your excuse that you're just telling her the truth because she might have ovarian cancer.

If your wife sounds worried because she might have cancer, tell her openly what you have observed. If you think she is in rush and just needs some moral support give it to her gladly. If you are really worried you can still tell her later on when the moment is right.

Indi wrote:
If the salesperson asks "do you really need this" and you respond with "Yes, I need your product no matter what", that's not an example of honesty, that's an example of idiocy. Just don't answer. If a salesperson asked me that, i'd shoot right back: "why? don't you want to sell it?" Hell, if i wanted to use a pressure tactic i might even add, "Because if you're not serious about wanting to sell this, tell me now. I'm not interested in having my time wasted." Not a single lie in there.

No lie, but you're omitting the truth and you're being manipulative. Not much better than the average marketing person who of course relies on lying for his personal advantage. Here's another one: Take advertisement campaigns, their messages often are plain lies : Smoking will make you as wild and free as a cowboy. Drinking oversugared lemonade will make your more attractive so that all your beautiful friends will want to party with you. Save now, our product price is down 30% (when compared to a price that only existed in our marketing boss's head). Buying an overpriced car will make you lead a life in luxury. I doubt many people in marketing worry too much everyday about the moral implications of their campaigns.

Indi wrote:
Dude... that is a comedy film. -_- (And not a particularly great one, from what i've heard.) Ricky Gervais is a comedian. That is no more a serious, philosophical consideration of the ethics lying than Shaolin Soccer is a serious, philosophical consideration of the benefits of learning kung fu.

Who says philosophy can't be fun? Diogenes lived in a barrel, does that disqualify him automatically from being a great philosopher? I think Ricky Gervais is a great comedian, and the points he raises in the film are well-observed and very valid. Anyway, I'd suggest you first watch it and then complain rather than blindly relying on other people's views. Maybe you'll enjoy yourself as much as I did.
Nilout
Well to me there is nothing black or white about lying, we should learn how to call it what it is.

A lie is an intentionally false statement to a person or group made by another person or group who knows it is not wholly the truth.

When you lie and it gets someone killed and another person lies and it gets someone into trouble you cannot weigh it differently because they are both the same thing. A lie.
kaysch
Nilout wrote:
When you lie and it gets someone killed and another person lies and it gets someone into trouble you cannot weigh it differently because they are both the same thing. A lie.

Whether somebody gets into trouble or gets killed has to be weighed differently? Huh?
dude_xyx
I guess there is an grey area about the whole lie business. For example what if Doctors has to tell the truth all the time ? Like what if something who is seriously injured and dying ask doctor if he/she will be okey ? Now if doctor tells the poor person his/she honest idea I don't think it will make anyone happy.

Maybe it is okey for lying if that's done for good but not to hurt someone. Just like nobody would want to kill their pet dog but there are times owner might take the dog to vet to put the creature out of suffering.
Indi
kaysch wrote:
Morality is not black-or-white. It changes over time, it changes from person to person, and sometimes even individuals change their minds and their morality. Take discussions about controversial subjects such as abortion laws, the use of nuclear energy or assisted suicide and you'll find everybody has their own opinion about what is right or wrong and what should be done. And if you ask the same questions again in 10 years from now the results of your poll will change.

So you must also believe that the laws of physics change over time. Somehow, the entire structure of the Solar System - nay, the universe - changed when people stopped believing the Sun orbits the Earth. But wait! Some people still believe the Sun orbits the Earth. That means you must believe that the Earth goes around the Sun AND the Sun goes around the Earth... at the same time. You must also believe the Earth is flat and spherical at the same time, and that it both exists and doesn't exist at the same time, because people believe all those things right now.

Only... you know that all of that is completely ridiculous.

That's because somehow you realize that the fact that people have different beliefs about physics doesn't magically mean that there are multiple "truths" about physics... but somehow you can't figure out the exact same thing for morality.

kaysch wrote:
Socio-political issues just don't follow mathematical rules, it's not a 1+1=2 equation.

Morality is not a socio-political issue. If something is immoral, it is immoral whether you are a socialist or a free-market libertarian, and regardless of your social standing.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
Right and wrong is not "grey", it is quite black-or-white. That's why they call it "right or wrong" and not "right, wrong, or rightish-wrongish".

No, it's not. There is "no alternative to this", "right", "not entirely correct", "ok", "so-and-so", "wrong but understandable", "wrong", "utterly wrong" and so on and so forth.

"Right" and "ok" are just synonyms for right. "Slightly wrong", "wrong", "utterly wrong", "wrong but understandable", and "not entirely correct" are just synonyms for wrong. As for the other two, i don't even know what they're supposed to mean. If "no alternative to this" is supposed to mean you don't have a choice, then morality isn't even an issue - morality has to do with choice, so if you don't have one, there's no question of morality.

kaysch wrote:
People even find valid justifications for breaking the law ("we have to break the speed limit to get to the hospital, otherwise my niece will most probably die").

"Legal" and "moral" are not the same thing. Sometimes they overlap - such when they say murder is wrong - sometimes they don't - such as when they make walking around naked or smoking pot (or both, if you're having an interesting party) illegal.

kaysch wrote:
Nobody has a monopoly on morality. It depends on the individual, the surrounding culture, on religious or philosophical beliefs, political opinions, time and much more.

No, it really doesn't.

Beliefs about science change. Science does not change.
Beliefs about mathematics change. Mathematics does not change.
Beliefs about morality change. Morality does not change.

Different people over time have thought the Earth was a flat disc, a flat square, a cylinder, a cube, a sphere, and an oblate spheroid. Since you believe that just because people have different beliefs about something, that must mean there is no one true objective truth, you must also believe that the shape of the Earth depends on what people think about it. After all, nobody has a monopoly on the shape of the Earth, right?

But you don't believe that. That would be idiotic, and you know it. So if you can figure that out for the shape of the Earth, why not morality?

What you're describing is called moral relativism, and it is nonsense. Flagrant nonsense. Virtually no philosopher takes moral relativism seriously. There has never been a system of law or moral rule in human history that has ever been based on moral relativism either. It was a bit of a minor fad in the late-1800s/early-1900s but was never mainstream. The people who have seriously studied morality and ethics know that it is crap.

Now, it's popular among people who haven't studied moral philosophy... but that's not really something to brag about. Lots of really terrible and obviously wrong ideas are popular among people who haven't studied the relevant fields.

Even more damning... you don't really believe what you're saying. That's the big problem with moral relativism; nobody really believes it, even those who can doggedly insist on it. I could prove it quite easily, with a few examples. (Or you could read the sticky, which gives examples already.)

kaysch wrote:
In their eyes their lies were perfectly legitimate, serving the highest morality, i.e. their ideology.

"In their eyes" means nothing. "In their eyes", Einstein's theory of relativism was completely wrong. The laws of physics didn't change because they had their own opinions about them. The same is true for the laws of morality.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
First, there were plenty of Germans who knew what the Nazis were doing was horribly immoral - or "wicked", if you prefer - so clearly not everyone agreed with Goebbels's or Ulbricht's assessments.

Thanks Indi. That's exactly the point I am trying to make.

No, it really isn't. Your point is: "People have different opinions about X. Therefore, X is subjective."

But that's obviously wrong. If you put 10 people in a room without calculators and asked them to compute a very difficult equation, they will probably get different answers. So... what, do you think that means math is subjective? Ridiculous.

The correct answer is at least some of them are wrong, if not all. That's exactly the same reasoning to use for morality.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
Second, if the Nazis themselves didn't believe that what they were doing was immoral, they wouldn't have been underhanded about it. One of the most basic litmus tests for morality is to ask "would i still do this if the people being affected knew i was doing it?" If the answer is no, then it's probably immoral.

So to check whether he was being immoral Goebbels should have carried out a poll among Poles and find out whether they liked the idea to be invaded based on a faked attack on a radio station?

No, you are the one who is saying that morality is a matter of opinion. That is the exact opposite of what i am saying.

You didn't really bother to read what i wrote - you just ploughed ahead with a ridiculous straw man you built based on the silly ideas in your head, not mine. Where in what i wrote can you even think i was talking about asking the Poles? Clearly the question is meant for the planners to ask THEMSELVES.

The litmus test i mentioned is not a test of popular opinion, it is an objective measure of reason a single person can (and should) do themselves when planning an action. The Nazi planners wouldn't need to ask the Poles or Germans whether they wanted to be lied to; they would just use their head, and considered the question: "Could the plan work just as well if the Poles are aware of the truth?" And the answer is just as obvious: no, it couldn't. Thus, it's immoral.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
In my experience, when you ask people how they're doing, they will tell you the truth.

The response we give to questions like that is highly dependent on the relationship we have with the person asking, and the current situation.

Those 2 statements contradict each other.

No they don't. There are many, many ways to say just about anything, and still be telling the truth. If you point to a 200 mL glass filled with 100 mL of water and ask me how much water is in it, i can answer:
  • 100 mL.
  • You can figure it out yourself.
  • The glass is half-empty.
  • The glass is half-full.
  • Approximately 3.3 by 10 to the 24th power molecules of water.
  • Some.
All of those answers are true, and they're only some of the infinite number of true answers i could give. Which one i might choose to give depends on the situation, and my relationship with the person asking.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
no one seriously believes they lie when they give a quick "fine" in response.

I do if in reality I don't feel fine.

Why would you lie?

When people try to justify lying, they usually try to do it by arguing that the ends justify the means - or in other words, what you gain from lying outweighs the moral cost of lying. What exactly do you gain in this case? It just seems petty, and contemptuous of the people you're talking to.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
The right answer to that question is the truth. Don't lie to your freaking wife. If she asks that question, give her enough credit as an adult human being to presume she genuinely wants to know. And if she really doesn't, she's a fool for asking, and expecting you to lie to her.

So if your wife asks you that question, you're suggesting to tell her she's not only fat but also stupid because she expected you to give her some moral support? Fine, if you think that's a good way to make her happy...

I am not married, but if Anna asked me that question - and she has (though i can't ever recall her asking out of vanity) - i would suggest telling her the truth. We have an excellent relationship, because she knows she can trust me; i would never lie to her, and i know she would never lie to me.

kaysch wrote:
You are very privileged to have a partner who enjoys being humiliated and accepts your excuse that you're just telling her the truth because she might have ovarian cancer.

I don't humiliate her; i'm not the ****** who suggested responding by accusing her of eating too many pies... i would never dream saying something that nasty or ignorant to someone. I treat her like an adult human being that i respect. She rather likes being treated respectfully.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
If the salesperson asks "do you really need this" and you respond with "Yes, I need your product no matter what", that's not an example of honesty, that's an example of idiocy. Just don't answer. If a salesperson asked me that, i'd shoot right back: "why? don't you want to sell it?" Hell, if i wanted to use a pressure tactic i might even add, "Because if you're not serious about wanting to sell this, tell me now. I'm not interested in having my time wasted." Not a single lie in there.

No lie, but you're omitting the truth and you're being manipulative.

No, i am not "omitting" the truth because i am not obligated to give it. A lie by omission only happens when you are expected to be telling the whole truth. You are not lying when you don't tell people everything you know about everything; you are only lying when you give the impression that you're telling someone everything about something, but you aren't.

Openly refusing to answer a question is NEVER a lie by omission, for the obvious reason that no-one is under the impression that you've told them everything when you've refused to answer the question. I mean... duh.

As for being manipulative, yes - i told you that's what i was doing. I said: "... if i wanted to use a pressure tactic i might even add...". That's practically literally saying "if i wanted to manipulate them into doing what i want (selling me the object cheaply), i might say...". But so what? Manipulating isn't wrong if the other person knows they're being manipulated - in fact, that's how many games work: you try to trick your opponent into, say, moving left when you really intend to move right. That's not "lying", because both players know that's how the game works, and both have implicitly agreed that those are the rules the game is being played by. As for business negotiations, that is not a game of deception (if it were, flat-out lying would be okay, but it's not), but it is a game of manipulation. Both sides in a purchase negotiation know they're trying to manipulate each other; the whole "dickering" game is nothing but two people attempting to manipulate each other.

Personally, i prefer not to be manipulative - i prefer not to dicker; i'd rather just pay/get a fair price without haggling. But, if the other person wants to dicker around, fine, i'll play.

kaysch wrote:
Not much better than the average marketing person who of course relies on lying for his personal advantage.

Bullshit. If you ever catch a marketing person lying to you, report them - first to their employer, and then if that doesn't fix things, to whoever is responsible for advertising standards in your country (here in Canada, that would Advertising Standards Canada).

What marketing people do, often, is try to manipulate you into believing something WITHOUT actually lying about it. For example:

kaysch wrote:
Here's another one: Take advertisement campaigns, their messages often are plain lies : Smoking will make you as wild and free as a cowboy. Drinking oversugared lemonade will make your more attractive so that all your beautiful friends will want to party with you. Save now, our product price is down 30% (when compared to a price that only existed in our marketing boss's head). Buying an overpriced car will make you lead a life in luxury.

Look closer at what advertisers actually do. They do not SAY that smoking makes you wild or free... they merely show people who are wild and free smoking. They do not SAY drinking their beverage will make you popular with sexy people... they merely show that people who drink their beverage are surrounded by sexy people. They do not SAY having a certain car will make your life luxurious... they merely show you people with the car leading a luxurious life.

It's a very subtle game they play. They don't make clear and explicit statements, they just make... innuendo. They just show you stuff and leave you to make connections on your own. They don't tell you smoking makes you cool, they just show you cool people smoking... if you see that and assume that means smoking makes you cool, that's your problem.

If they actually came out and said that smoking makes you a wild and free cowboy (or the drink will make you popular, or the car will make your life luxurious), and it didn't appear to be an obvious joke*, they would be in trouble. That's false advertising, and advertisers get burned for that all the time when they go too far.

(*By the way, the "joke" thing is yet another one of their tricks. If they came out and said seriously that Axe deodorant would make women throw themselves at you, they would be in trouble with the advertising standards code. But if they make an ad joking about how Axe deodorant makes women throw themselves at you, they can plant that idea in your head while still maintaining plausible deniability: "we never told you that Axe would do that, it was just a joke, so if you came to that conclusion it's not our fault".)

Now, what they're doing is still immoral. They are deliberately using manipulative tactics without our consent to deceive us. The trick is... we usually can't prove it. They're very good at making their manipulative tactics appear unintentional. Because we can't prove it, we can't call them out on it. Unless and until we can get actual evidence that they're deliberately trying to manipulate us, there's nothing we can do. (In a few cases, we did get evidence that they were manipulating us. For example, when records from tobacco companies were subpoenaed, we found proof of their intention to deceive... and they paid for it dearly. But generally, getting that evidence is not easy.)

But anyway, i'm not sure what point you're trying to make by bringing up marketers. Yes, they are doing immoral things, and yes they get away with it. So what? There are lots of people doing things that we know are immoral, but they get away with it. So what are you trying to prove by pointing that out? Are you trying to argue that because we don't stop it, we don't think it's immoral? But that's obvious nonsense... because you pointed them out! So clearly even you know that what they're doing is shady! And you know we all know it.

kaysch wrote:
I doubt many people in marketing worry too much everyday about the moral implications of their campaigns.

I doubt many people who in computing worry too much every day about the quantum mechanical effects going on in the transistors of their computers. So... what, do you think that means those effects aren't real because they're not thinking about them?

Or do you seriously believe that if you don't dwell on the morality of what you're doing, that means it's not immoral?

kaysch wrote:
Who says philosophy can't be fun?

Good question. It certainly wasn't me.

kaysch wrote:
I think Ricky Gervais is a great comedian, and the points he raises in the film are well-observed and very valid. Anyway, I'd suggest you first watch it and then complain rather than blindly relying on other people's views. Maybe you'll enjoy yourself as much as I did.

I think Ricky Gervais is a great comedian, too - and i respect him quite a bit as a public voice in general; he seems to be quite an intelligent and reasonable person.

But that doesn't mean a film he made for the popular movie-going audience is going to be a work of philosophy. Brian Cox is a brilliant physicist who works on the Large Hadron Collider... yet i don't expect that means i'll find quality particle physics work in any of the songs he released with his band D:ream.

To put it in stark terms, i have read BOOKS on moral philosophy - in fact, on my philosophy bookshelf, just under half the books are on morality - and many of the books and papers i have read are by the greatest minds in the field, spanning hundreds of years. Yeah... seriously... Ricky Gervais is not going to startle me with something i've never heard before.

Incidentally...: "Anyway, I'd suggest you first watch it and then complain rather than blindly relying on other people's views." Riiiiiight, so... you want me to stop blindly relying on other people's views on the morality of lying... and blindly rely on Ricky Gervais's views on the morality of lying? Speaking of blindly having views on the topic... one of us has actually studied the topic, so their eyes are wide open about all the questions, issues, and theories about morality... the other one of us just has blindly held views that "feel" right to them. Perhaps before accusing someone else of being blind about a topic, you should take a long hard look at yourself.

dude_xyx wrote:
I guess there is an grey area about the whole lie business. For example what if Doctors has to tell the truth all the time ? Like what if something who is seriously injured and dying ask doctor if he/she will be okey ? Now if doctor tells the poor person his/she honest idea I don't think it will make anyone happy.

You want your doctor to lie to you about your condition? Are you nuts?

Doctors absolutely have to tell the truth, 100% of the time. Always. If your doctor ever lies to you, report them immediately.

It may hurt to hear you have a serious condition - or even a fatal condition - but you NEED to know. The doctor is not helping you by lying to you about it. You need to know so you can either take informed steps to deal with the condition, or - if it's terminal and there's nothing to be done about it - so you can take steps to prepare your loved ones for your passing.

dude_xyx wrote:
Maybe it is okey for lying if that's done for good but not to hurt someone. Just like nobody would want to kill their pet dog but there are times owner might take the dog to vet to put the creature out of suffering.

The whole idea of lying to "not hurt" someone is nonsense. When you lie to someone, you are using them as a tool to get what you want. You are not giving them the option of deciding whether or not they want to be used that way, you are just making the decision yourself that you don't really want to deal them as a person, and want to make them do what you want them to do... with no real concern about what they might want to do.

You can try to pretend to yourself that you're "doing it for them", but it doesn't take too much thought to realize how hollow that is. For example, let's say you want to lie to someone about their dog dying, to spare them from hurt. Think about what that means... it means you have to fabricate excuses to explain why the dog isn't around - meanwhile the whole time the person is worrying about the dog, wondering where it is, missing it, constantly looking out for it. That's not "sparing them from hurt"... that's ****** cruel!!! Even worse, if they ever somehow find out that the dog is dead, imagine how they'd feel then, learning that not only has their dog been dead for some time yet they never had a chance to say goodbye, but that the whole time you've been lying to them. And on top of all that now the also have to deal with the loss of the dog! That is horrifying cruel to do to someone!

If you really cared about the person you would be honest about the dog's death... then you would be there for them and help them get through it. THAT is what caring for someone really looks like. It's not easy, sure, but if you truly care about the person, you'll be there for them and help them get through it. Lying to someone is never about helping them, it's just about making it easier for yourself.
kaysch
Indi wrote:
So you must also believe that the laws of physics change over time.

I never said that. Just read what I wrote and don’t jump to conclusions.
Indi wrote:
That's because somehow you realize that the fact that people have different beliefs about physics doesn't magically mean that there are multiple "truths" about physics... but somehow you can't figure out the exact same thing for morality.

That's right, you can't.
Indi wrote:
Morality is not a socio-political issue. If something is immoral, it is immoral whether you are a socialist or a free-market libertarian, and regardless of your social standing.

No. Socialism was created on the grounds that free-market economy has its shortcomings – which a die-hard free-market libertarian will deny. That’s why in Germany there is social insurance, merger control, a regulator for banks, a progressive tax system and so on and so forth. Something which a tea party member would disqualify as rubbish and immoral because it prevents the generation of wealth and consequently the creation of jobs. The question how wealth should be distributed is a perfect example of difference in morality depending on an individual’s political view and social standing in society. At least I have never seen a billionaire asking in public for a raise in tax on his fortune – those people tend to justify their political demands by morality just as a poor person will justify his demands for a raise in social assistance using morality as well.
Indi wrote:
"Slightly wrong", "wrong", "utterly wrong" (...) are just synonyms for wrong.

"Slightly" and "utterly" mean the same? I guess I have to brush up my English…
Indi wrote:
"Legal" and "moral" are not the same thing. Sometimes they overlap - such when they say murder is wrong - sometimes they don't - such as when they make walking around naked or smoking pot (or both, if you're having an interesting party) illegal.

Which reflects the fact that different legislators around the world have different moral concepts because (at least ideally) the law reflects ethical principles prevalent in a country.
Indi wrote:
Beliefs about science change. Science does not change.
Beliefs about mathematics change. Mathematics does not change.
Beliefs about morality change. Morality does not change.

There is no objective progress in science, mathematics and morality? Just our belief in it? Come on, Indi. Look at Wikipedia, and you will find an objective history of science and mathematics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_mathematics
And of course there is no history in morality because it does not exist in absolute terms.
Indi wrote:
Since you believe that just because people have different beliefs about something, that must mean there is no one true objective truth, you must also believe that the shape of the Earth depends on what people think about it. After all, nobody has a monopoly on the shape of the Earth, right?

Again, you’re jumping to conclusions. I have never said there was no objective truth. There is, but it’s only applicable to natural science, not to socio-political issues such as economics, philosophy or morality. If there was an absolute truth in economics, we’d all be billionaires right now. If there was an absolute philosophy, you wouldn’t have to read so many books. And if there was an absolute morality we wouldn’t be discussing the issue right now.
Indi wrote:
Different people over time have thought the Earth was a flat disc, a flat square, a cylinder, a cube, a sphere, and an oblate spheroid. (...) So if you can figure that out for the shape of the Earth, why not morality?

Very simple. Earth is an object, and its shape can be measured. Scientific progress helped us to understand how the shape is, beating the universal truth the catholic church claimed it had. Morality is not an object but a concept, it's subjective. You can't measure it, and I doubt you can define it properly or even fill that word with life.
Indi wrote:
What you're describing is called moral relativism, and it is nonsense. Flagrant nonsense.

I don't see why you have to use that sort of disrespectful language. How about saying: "I don't agree with moral relativism" instead?
Indi wrote:
Virtually no philosopher takes moral relativism seriously. There has never been a system of law or moral rule in human history that has ever been based on moral relativism either. It was a bit of a minor fad in the late-1800s/early-1900s but was never mainstream. The people who have seriously studied morality and ethics know that it is crap.

Why would I base my own views on what the mainstream of philosophers think? If everybody did that, we’d still believe the earth was flat – which as you rightly pointed out does not seem to be the the case.
Indi wrote:
Even more damning... you don't really believe what you're saying. That's the big problem with moral relativism; nobody really believes it, even those who can doggedly insist on it. I could prove it quite easily, with a few examples.

Go ahead, prove to me that Indiism is right. I will happily be your first and foremost disciple. What is the “right” view on abortion, nuclear energy, assisted suicide or tax laws? I’m really eager to know.
Indi wrote:
Or you could read the sticky, which gives examples already.)

Huh?
Indi wrote:
Your point is: "People have different opinions about X. Therefore, X is subjective."

See above regarding my comment about natural vs. social science.
Indi wrote:
you don't really believe what you're saying

Believe me, I do.

Indi wrote:
Where in what i wrote can you even think i was talking about asking the Poles?

In here:
Indi wrote:
One of the most basic litmus tests for morality is to ask "would i still do this if the people being affected knew i was doing it?" If the answer is no, then it's probably immoral.

You said it would have been enough for the Nazis to shockingly realize that their behaviour was “probably” immoral in the case that the Poles (“the people being affected”) "knew" the Nazis (“I”) were going to invade their country (“do this”). I find that is a naïve statement.
Indi wrote:
The Nazi planners wouldn't need to ask the Poles or Germans whether they wanted to be lied to; they would just use their head, and considered the question: "Could the plan work just as well if the Poles are aware of the truth?" And the answer is just as obvious: no, it couldn't. Thus, it's immoral.

Weak reasoning, Indi. The Poles were pretty well aware of the German menace but their military was weak compared to the Germans’, so the German plan to invade Poland would have worked any way, whether the Poles knew about it or not. According to your logic that would have made the invasion moral. Which is what the Nazis must have thought as well.
Indi wrote:
Clearly the question is meant for the planners to ask THEMSELVES.

Exactly. Everybody decides for themselves whether they think their way of thinking is ethical or not. Nazis won’t ask Poles, capitalists won’t ask socialists, and I won’t ask you for permission to have my ethical principles. Everybody needs to ask THEMSELVES. Moral relativism at its best.
Indi wrote:
All of those answers are true, and they're only some of the infinite number of true answers i could give. Which one i might choose to give depends on the situation, and my relationship with the person asking.

I absolutely agree. Your answer depends on the situation and the situation with the person asking. This finally brings us back to the original question: is lying wrong? And I think it depends exactly on that situation and on the relationship you have with the person you are talking to.
Indi wrote:
Why would you lie?

For exactly the reasons you just gave – because I don’t trust that person or because the situation is not the right one. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t like lying, and whenever I can I try to avoid it. All I am saying is: people lie and they may have their own moral justification to do so.

Indi wrote:
When people try to justify lying, they usually try to do it by arguing that the ends justify the means - or in other words, what you gain from lying outweighs the moral cost of lying. What exactly do you gain in this case? It just seems petty, and contemptuous of the people you're talking to.

Agreed.
Indi wrote:
I am not married, but if Anna asked me that question - and she has (though i can't ever recall her asking out of vanity) - i would suggest telling her the truth. We have an excellent relationship, because she knows she can trust me; i would never lie to her, and i know she would never lie to me.

I’m happy to hear that, Indi. I truly am. And you know what? I treat my wife exactly the same way. If she comes up with a question like “is my ass too fat” I will answer jokingly “yes of course” so that she doesn’t ask me again. It’s a potential lose-lose question, so it’s better to switch subject by making a joke.
Indi wrote:
I don't humiliate her; i'm not the ****** who suggested responding by accusing her of eating too many pies... i would never dream saying something that nasty or ignorant to someone. I treat her like an adult human being that i respect. She rather likes being treated respectfully.

Big smile. After all you’re maybe not the self-centered know-it-all you claim to be.
Indi wrote:
No, i am not "omitting" the truth because i am not obligated to give it. A lie by omission only happens when you are expected to be telling the whole truth.

Hahaha. You’re of course expected to give an answer but you’re clever enough not to feel obliged. That’s exactly what I mean by omitting to say the truth. Which is perfectly OK. There is no universal law here of having to meet the seller’s expectation. You just follow your own incentive not to tell him you badly need his product.
Indi wrote:
I mean... duh.

I fully agree. 
Indi wrote:
As for being manipulative, yes - i told you that's what i was doing. (…) Personally, i prefer not to be manipulative - i prefer not to dicker; i'd rather just pay/get a fair price without haggling. But, if the other person wants to dicker around, fine, i'll play.

Me too.
Indi wrote:
If you ever catch a marketing person lying to you, report them - first to their employer, and then if that doesn't fix things, to whoever is responsible for advertising standards in your country (here in Canada, that would Advertising Standards Canada).

Same here in Germany. But you can only report or sue them if they lie in a stupid way.
Indi wrote:
Look closer at what advertisers actually do. They do not SAY that smoking makes you wild or free... they merely show people who are wild and free smoking. They do not SAY drinking their beverage will make you popular with sexy people... they merely show that people who drink their beverage are surrounded by sexy people. They do not SAY having a certain car will make your life luxurious... they merely show you people with the car leading a luxurious life.

I fully agree. They are cleverly manipulating (I call it lying) by appealing to our instincts so that we can’t sue them.
Indi wrote:
But anyway, i'm not sure what point you're trying to make by bringing up marketers.

The point is that they most probably think that their lies/manipulations are ethical, just like the Nazis did when they lied before invading Poland or Ulbricht when he lied before building the Berlin wall. They all got away with it, and they all have a reason to believe that what they do serves a higher purpose: German racial supremacy, saving the GDR labour market or making customers happy by giving them an illusion. My point is that there is no universally valid morality. It depends on many factors.
Indi wrote:
Or do you seriously believe that if you don't dwell on the morality of what you're doing, that means it's not immoral?

I may find it immoral. But many others may not, and that’s the whole point.
Indi wrote:
one of us has actually studied the topic, so their eyes are wide open about all the questions, issues, and theories about morality... the other one of us just has blindly held views that "feel" right to them.

How come you know how many books I have read about morality? Been sniffing around in my apartment? Ts ts ts… Wink
LxGoodies
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
Morality is not black-or-white. It changes over time, it changes from person to person, and sometimes even individuals change their minds and their morality. Take discussions about controversial subjects such as abortion laws, the use of nuclear energy or assisted suicide and you'll find everybody has their own opinion about what is right or wrong and what should be done. And if you ask the same questions again in 10 years from now the results of your poll will change.

So you must also believe that the laws of physics change over time. Somehow, the entire structure of the Solar System - nay, the universe - changed when people stopped believing the Sun orbits the Earth. But wait! Some people still believe the Sun orbits the Earth. That means you must believe that the Earth goes around the Sun AND the Sun goes around the Earth... at the same time. You must also believe the Earth is flat and spherical at the same time, and that it both exists and doesn't exist at the same time, because people believe all those things right now.

Only... you know that all of that is completely ridiculous.

That's because somehow you realize that the fact that people have different beliefs about physics doesn't magically mean that there are multiple "truths" about physics... but somehow you can't figure out the exact same thing for morality.

.

As I read Kaysch, correct me Kaysch if I'm wrong, his proposition was that "morality" simply does not have the same black/white good/wrong properties as "physics" in this respect. It varies per culture and in it varies in time. For philosophy this has no consequence because philosophy does not study behaviour and social conventions. But nevertheless, the philosophical science associated with moral (ethics) does not evolve around one single paradigm. E.g. there is a relativistic approach, adhered by some philosophers and Kaysch,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-question_argument

Meta-ethical relativism extends this even by arguing "good" and "bad" cannot be analysed objectively at all.

.. in contrast to the absolute approach of irreducible moral properties of ethical naturalism, advocated by other philosophers,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_naturalism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornell_realism

Physics cannot be compared with this.. it does not allow a relativistic approach.. it will have ONE paradigm that changes very slowly over time.. we accumulate knowledge in it, earlier assumptions are either proven or falsified within this paradigm. Knowledge can be falsified.. but it is generally replaced by refined knowledge, that is supplement knowledge.

Ethics is a different story.. the Wiki topic states that discussions about the relativistic angles of moral have been going since 600BC ! So (at least) there is more than one story.

..
kaysch
LxGoodies wrote:
As I read Kaysch, correct me Kaysch if I'm wrong, his proposition was that "morality" simply does not have the same black/white good/wrong properties as "physics" in this respect. It varies per culture and in it varies in time.


I think you misunderstood. What you say reflects what I think. Indi is claiming the contrary is true. Here are his central points:

Indi wrote:
- Lying is ALWAYS wrong.
kaysch wrote:
I disagree. That's black-and-white thinking.

- What's wrong with black-or-white thinking? Are you "grey" on the question of whether 1 + 1 = 2? I seriously doubt it.
kaysch wrote:
I'm trying to point out that assessing whether or not lying is wrong depends on somebody's perspective

- Perspective doesn't change morality any more than it changes mathematics.
- The laws of physics didn't change because they had their own opinions about them. The same is true for the laws of morality.
- Beliefs about science change. Science does not change. Beliefs about mathematics change. Mathematics does not change. Beliefs about morality change. Morality does not change.
- What you're describing is called moral relativism, and it is nonsense. Flagrant nonsense.


When he said:
Indi wrote:
somehow you realize that the fact that people have different beliefs about physics doesn't magically mean that there are multiple "truths" about physics... but somehow you can't figure out the exact same thing for morality.

he meant that unlike him I was too unread to acknowledge that there was just a single truth about morality (what he calls the "laws of morality"). See this comment:

Indi wrote:
To put it in stark terms, i have read BOOKS on moral philosophy - in fact, on my philosophy bookshelf, just under half the books are on morality - and many of the books and papers i have read are by the greatest minds in the field, spanning hundreds of years. (...) one of us has actually studied the topic, so their eyes are wide open about all the questions, issues, and theories about morality... the other one of us just has blindly held views that "feel" right to them


You know, at first it was hard for me to swallow that criticism but in the end I managed to get over it and now I am ready to make Indi my Guru. I hope he will soon reveal the universal ever-lasting truth about morality and its laws to us. We have been in the dark for so long, but that time has now come to an end. May He and His bookshelf enlighten us. Hallelujah. Wink

Anyway, I fully support the remaining part of your post.
kaysch
Indi, I just went through your introductory notes where you describe and criticize moral relativism. While I like the analysis i don't agree with many of your conclusions. Or, to use those absolute and harsher terms you seem to prefer: your conclusions are largely nonsense.
http://www.frihost.com/forums/vp-610573.html#610573

Indi wrote:
It turns out that simple subjectivism means that moral dialogue is impossible. You cannot judge me or punish me, because unless i go against what i personally believe, i can do no wrong. We can't even disagree about whether something is right or wrong, because we would both be talking about different things. Yet experience shows us that all of these things do happen - we do disagree, we do have moral dialogues, and we do judge others... and occasionally punish them. Therefore, simple subjectivism cannot be right.

On the contrary, if you behave as presumptuously as the Spanish Inquisition did and judge and punish others for not sharing your morality then moral dialogue is impossible. Fortunately the days of the Spanish Inquisition are over. I don't think you have a right to punish me just because I have different ideas about morality than you. If you enjoy being punished for writing what I believe is nonsense that's of course your choice.

Indi wrote:
Suppose there was a man who wanted to be president, and you did not really think he was a good person. He had a questionable past, and a questionable record in office so far. But because you felt that he was not a good person, you were not going to vote for him. Now, i am aware that you are a nearly fanatical Sikh, so i tell you that this candidate is a devout Sikh. All of a sudden, you really like this guy, and run around telling everyone what a good person he is. Does that sound right?

There is no right or wrong about it. Like it or not, that's how election campaigns work. Many people rely on their emotions (friendly smile, colour of the candidate's tie, personal background and so on) rather than informing themselves about the candidate's personal record or his programme. Worse, if you want to judge and punish people for not sharing your political view you are advocating Stalinism: 99,78% support for the president and father of our dear country. I want to rely at least in part on my emotions when voting for a candidate without you beating me up afterwards.

Indi wrote:
Basically, if the world actually were run by cultural relativsts (that took cultural relativism seriously), then there could be no peaceful cultures, because they would all be exterminated by the aggressive cultures.

Funny, first you advocate the right to "judge" and "punish" others, and now you shy away from attacking a presumably morally inferior country such as Nazi Germany or the Islamic State?

Indi wrote:
By that metric, there is no difference between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Adolf Hitler - neither made their society better or worse with the changes they provoked; both merely changed their societies. Strange, isn't it?

No, it's not strange. Moral ideas of individuals have changed over time. They form the majority in a country, so their views get reflected in the law. That's why in the West we don't have slavery anymore, at least on paper there are equal rights between men and women and the are no legal atrocities anymore based on racism. It's not because there is a universal morality such as the 10 commandments or the like. It's because more and more people have progressed to a more humane and less agressive behaviour.

Indi wrote:
what if i were to ask why murder is immoral? Most people would attempt to provide a rational reason for why murder is wrong. STOP! What just happened? Did you just try to present a reason for a moral?

In my mind it's perfectly fine to try and find rational reasons why most people object to murder. But there are grey zones - abortion, death penalty, national defense to name a few - where people don't agree and where there is not a common view whether it is right or wrong to kill others.

Indi wrote:
there does not exist a single agency, organization, government or body of laws that uses any relativist morality theory as a basis, anywhere in the world, ever in the recorded history of humanity.

Unfortunately many organisations - the church, nations, even many NGOs are little tolerant. The result is lots of wars fought over religion (for example 1618-48 in Europe) and ideologies (WW II, the cold war), because nobody accepted that other people may have other views on right or wrong. A positive example is the European Union and their idea of finding solutions unanimously and using the subsidarity principle. No need to decide anything centrally if it can be decided locally.

As for the categorical imperative: I don't understand why you list it as universalist. Everybody has their own preferences about how he wants to be treated, so if everybody followed the categorical imperative (which most people don't) what comes out is a result based on subjective ideas and preferences. There is nothing absolute behind it, simple and universal as the rule may seem.
Indi
kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
So you must also believe that the laws of physics change over time.

I never said that. Just read what I wrote and don’t jump to conclusions.

I am not jumping to conclusions. That is a natural consequence of what you believe - and i base that on what you wrote. If you don't like it, that must mean you accept that what you believe is wrong.

You said that morality is not objective because people disagree about it. In fact, you repeated that several times - when i also mentioned that people disagree about it, you even went so far as to thank me and say that was your point. Don't try and deny it now.

So if morality is not objective because people disagree about it... well, people disagree about science, too. And mathematics. So you must also believe those things are not objective either.

If you understand that just because people disagree about science, that doesn't make it non-objective... then you have to accept also that just because people disagree about morality, that doesn't make it non-objective. In other words, everything you've written is wrong. It's as simple as that.

So which is it? Do you believe math is not objective? Or do you believe that morality might be, even though people disagree about it?

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
"Slightly wrong", "wrong", "utterly wrong" (...) are just synonyms for wrong.

"Slightly" and "utterly" mean the same? I guess I have to brush up my English…

"Wrong", "wrong", and "wrong" are all synonyms for "wrong".

As for the "slightly" and "utterly"; those are just adjectives you tack on to express your emotional response. They are not "degrees of wrongness", they are just expressions of you feel about that particular wrong.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
Beliefs about science change. Science does not change.
Beliefs about mathematics change. Mathematics does not change.
Beliefs about morality change. Morality does not change.

There is no objective progress in science, mathematics and morality? Just our belief in it? Come on, Indi. Look at Wikipedia, and you will find an objective history of science and mathematics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_mathematics
And of course there is no history in morality because it does not exist in absolute terms.

First of all, i know this is going to make you look like a complete idiot, but you've really brought this on yourself:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ethics

Well? What now? You believe science and mathematics are objective because the have history pages. There's the one for morality (ethics is the field that studies morality, just like science is the field that studies nature - note that there is no "history of nature" page). Unless you were just being dishonest, you must now admit that morality exists in absolute terms.

---

Now, on an actually intelligent note: do you seriously not understand that what you have just called the "history of mathematics" is not actually the history of mathematics, but merely the history of human understanding of mathematics? That should be mind-numbing obvious from the "history of science" page. SCIENCE, which is our understanding of nature, changes... NATURE, which science studies, does not. The same is true for morality: ETHICS, which is our understanding of morality, changes... MORALITY does not.

You have to understand that the fact that our beliefs about science change, that doesn't mean that the thing being studied - the actual mechanics of the natural universe - changes, too. I mean, seriously. Before Newton came along, people believed Galileo's laws of motion... they were wrong. But when Newton's laws were discovered nothing about the actual universe changed. The only thing that changed was peoples' beliefs about it. And then when Einstein came along and showed that even Newton was wrong, the universe still didn't change. Only our beliefs about it did.

The exact same thing happens with morality. As with science, there have been several revolutionary changes in our understanding of morality - several times where we realized that our previous understanding of morality was just plain wrong. Our beliefs about morality changed; morality did not.

You have to admit that is possible, because that is the exact same thing that happens in science (and mathematics, and everything else). The fact that our beliefs about something change does NOT mean that the thing itself changes, or that there isn't an absolute truth about it.

kaysch wrote:
If there was an absolute truth in economics, we’d all be billionaires right now. If there was an absolute philosophy, you wouldn’t have to read so many books. And if there was an absolute morality we wouldn’t be discussing the issue right now.

Bullshit, on many levels.

First, if there were an absolute truth about economics, it doesn't follow that that absolute truth would lead everyone to become billionaires. The absolute truth might actually suggest that having billionaires is wrong. You are simply making a clueless assumption.

Second, if there were an absolute truth about economics, and even if that absolute truth would somehow make us all billionaires, the fact that we're not all billionaires right now might just mean we don't know what the absolute truth is. Why would you assume that if there were an absolute truth about economics, that we would have to know it right now? That's remarkably arrogant.

To further show how clueless your position is, i could repeat what you wrote replacing "economics" with "physics": "If there was an absolute truth in physics, we'd all be travelling wherever we please in space and time right now." According to your ridiculous "logic", the fact that we can't do that means there is no absolute truth in physics. Of course, you know that's ridiculous. You know that there is an absolute truth to physics, and you also know that's true even though we don't know what the absolute truth of physics is yet. So... clearly, you're just jabbering nonsense that you don't even really believe yourself.

As for the other two sentences in there... they are painfully stupid. I mean... seriously... try replacing "philosophy" and "morality" with science or mathematics, and you'll see how idiotic those sentences are: If there was an absolute science, you wouldn’t have to read so many books. And if there was an absolute science we wouldn’t be discussing the issue right now. See what i mean? Mind-numbingly stupid. You know as well as anyone else that science is objective... yet there are TONS of books on it that you have to read to understand it, and TONS of things to discuss and debate.

At this point, you are really jabbering complete nonsense that you obviously don't even believe yourself. I would suggest you stop and think long and hard about your position, rather than continuing to barf up the first thing that pops into your head. You're only making yourself look more and more ridiculous at this point.

kaysch wrote:
Morality is not an object but a concept, it's subjective. You can't measure it, and I doubt you can define it properly or even fill that word with life.

So what about mathematics then? Mathematics isn't an object - it's just a concept. You can't "measure" mathematics. By your own (ridiculous) logic, that must mean you believe math is subjective. Once again, i know you don't really believe that - once again, you're just jabbering nonsense that you don't really believe yourself.

For the record, i can define morality. Morality is simply reason applied to moral agents. And there is a clear definition for moral agents too: a moral agent is any being that is capable of reason. So morality is simply applied reason, focusing on interactions between beings that are themselves capable of reason. (Mathematics, by comparison, is simply applied reason focused on quantities, sets, and their relations.)

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
What you're describing is called moral relativism, and it is nonsense. Flagrant nonsense.

What a derogative comment. Can’t you show a little more respect to somebody who does not share your point of view? I find your wording pretty insulting and – as we are talking about the subject already - immoral.

First of all, the only thing i have showed disrespect to is this idea of moral relativism... and "moral relativism" is not a somebody. You, in particular, are not moral relativism. If i say moral relativism is stupid, that means i am calling moral relativism stupid, not you. You should learn the difference.

As for showing respect, I can show plenty of respect to people who have different views, but not to people who have views that aren't worth respecting, or to people who are just blathering thoughtlessly without putting any real effort into thinking about their views.

Once again you are demonstrating that you don't really understand what "immoral" means. "Immoral" doesn't just mean "i don't like it" or "it hurts my feelings".

kaysch wrote:
Go ahead, prove to me that Indiism is right. I will happily be your first and foremost disciple. What is the “right” view on abortion, nuclear energy, assisted suicide or tax laws? I’m really eager to know.

I think you are lying. I have good reason to think so, not least because you don't sound honest, but because you have shamelessly and openly said that you think it's okay to lie. Therefore, you are a not a good person to trust.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
Or you could read the sticky, which gives examples already.)

Huh?

That sentence was written in plain English, with no complex words. What part of it do you not understand?

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
you don't really believe what you're saying

Believe me, I do.

Why should i believe you? You have freely admitted you think it's okay to lie. I am the one who refuses to lie, and who insists that honesty is always the best policy. You are the one who says it's okay to lie, if you just don't care, and i seriously doubt you care about me all that much, so it seems very likely that you're lying.

Besides, i can trivially prove that you're not telling the truth. If you really believed morality is subjective... you wouldn't be arguing with me about it. It is pointless to argue about subjective opinions, and you could just brush off anything i say by saying "oh, that's just what your culture believes about morality". But you're not doing that. You never said that even once. You're not only insisting that i should accept your view of morality... you're asserting that it is the only view of morality that's right, and that my view of objective morality is wrong! That proves that you don't really believe morality is a matter of opinion. It proves that you believe there is something universal about it - otherwise, it would make no sense for you to argue with me about it.

But like i said, that's not really surprising because nobody really believes morality is subjective. NOBODY. There are lots of people who say they believe morality is relative or subjective, but it doesn't take much to make them show their true colours.

This is the big lie of moral relativism. For all those people who claim to believe it, nobody will really sit by and just let other people have their own moral standards... everybody believes their moral standards should be universal. Even you, as you have shown here.

And of course, there's no way you can avoid that, because moral relativism makes no real sense. The world just simply couldn't work if people took moral relativism seriously. The fact that morals are universal is obvious, and necessary... just like the fact that mathematics is universal. Trying to deny it will only create absurd situations. The people in charge understand that, of course, which is why not one single set of laws in the history of humanity has ever been based on moral relativism. All systems of law are based on moral universals. Most list the basic universals right up front. You're German, right? Look at your constitution - Article 1, paragraph 2. The words unverletzlichen und unveräußerlichen are right there, plain as day - the paragraph itself explains that Germans recognize that the basic rights are universal, for every community in the world. In other words, it's not saying that they're giving the rights to people... they're saying that they recognize that those rights already exist, that they're universal truths.

I mention this because you've hinted that you don't think there's been any progress in ethics. Reality shows how ridiculous that belief is. Where is the slave trade? What do you think happened to it? You think it became uneconomical? Complete horseshit.

Let me tell you what happened to the slave trade. Ethics did not exist before the 17th or 18th century; before that, all information morality was the domain of religion. There is nothing weird about that - science did not exist before the 16th or 17th century; before that all information about nature was the domain of religion. Galileo was one of the first to publicly yank science out of the hands of the church in the early 1600s. A hundred or so years later, philosophers like Locke and Kant started yanking ethics out of the hands of the church. These guys developed the first real theories of human rights and ethics starting at the end of the 17th century through to the end of the 18th century. And they had a hell of an impact. Locke's ideas created the US and the French Revolution, and he basically kick-started the modern era of ethics, then Kant came along and completely eliminated religious nonsense from the field. Locke published in ~1690, Kant published in ~1790... then France abolished slavery in 1794; the UK and US abolished the slave trade (but not slavery itself) in 1807; the UK made slavery illegal in 1833; the US made it illegal in 1865. Coincidence? No.

In the 1500s and before, pretty much everybody thought slavery was perfectly natural, and that there was nothing at all immoral about it. In the 1600s and 1700s, the field of ethics was created, and it began to study morality and human rights. In the 1800s and beyond, slavery vanished from the world. (That is, legitimate slavery vanished - illegal slavery persists, of course.) I cannot fathom the mind that thinks this just happened magically. It makes no flipping sense to me to look at those facts and still insist that we have made no progress in morality. We had slavery for tens of thousands of years, at least, and it is still economically desirable in many places so there should be lots of people arguing for reinstating it. But there are none - people who are pro-slavery are looked on with the same bewilderment as people who think the Earth is flat. Or moral knowledge has advanced, and we've left stupid ideas like slavery behind.

And slavery is just the tip of the iceberg. We're still advancing. We've licked slavery completely, but there are many other things that we've made enormous progress toward licking. Child labour is being eliminated, along with grooming children to be soldiers or sex workers. Most recently there's been a burst of interest in women's rights worldwide. Most places in the world respect basic human rights - the few holdouts are widely considered to be backward shitholes. Obviously we still have a ways to go because there are still plenty of places in the world that refuse to accept what we know about morality now (just as there are plenty of places that refuse to accept what we know about science), but anyone who says we haven't made progress in our understanding morality is frankly a friggin idiot. The evidence is manifold. Nobody seriously believes we haven't made an progress in our understanding of morality.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
One of the most basic litmus tests for morality is to ask "would i still do this if the people being affected knew i was doing it?" If the answer is no, then it's probably immoral.

You said it would have been enough for the Nazis to shockingly realize that their behaviour was “probably” immoral in the case that the Poles (“the people being affected”) "knew" the Nazis (“I”) were going to invade their country (“do this”). I find that is a naïve statement.

Uh, first of all, you're being dishonest. That statement had nothing to do with the invasion... it was about the deception used to justify the invasion (remember, the whole topic is about lying... not invading)... and you know that because it was your own example. You introduced the example of faking the reason for the war. And now you're dishonestly changing the context of what i was talking about.

Second, nothing in that statement has anything to do with what you wrote - you simply wrote something you thought was stupid (and it was), then randomly inserted quotes from my statement into it... and it doesn't even makes sense when you did it.

My statement is perfectly clear in and of itself - there is no need to rip it apart and shoehorn it into another sentence (unless your intention is to be dishonest). The statement was about the lie used to justify the invasion, which you said was moral (because the Nazis believed it was moral, or some such gibberish), and i said was clearly and obvious immoral. And i said that the Nazis themselves really knew it was immoral, because of this basic litmus test (which they knew about, by the way - the guy who invented it was German): if they asked themselves "would i still do this (attempt this deception to justify invasion) if the people being affected (the Poles) knew i was doing it?" The answer to that is obviously no. Thus the deception to justify the invasion is obviously immoral.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
The Nazi planners wouldn't need to ask the Poles or Germans whether they wanted to be lied to; they would just use their head, and considered the question: "Could the plan work just as well if the Poles are aware of the truth?" And the answer is just as obvious: no, it couldn't. Thus, it's immoral.

Weak reasoning, Indi. The Poles were pretty well aware of the German menace but their military was weak compared to the Germans’, so the German plan to invade Poland would have worked any way, whether the Poles knew about it or not. According to your logic that would have made the invasion moral. Which is what the Nazis must have thought as well.

So not only are you clueless about morality, you also don't understand what a litmus test is.

A litmus test is only a quick and easy test that you can do to give you a rough estimate of something. It is not the ultimate and final truth, because litmus tests are not very accurate, and only have limited utility.

Furthermore, you are distorting what i wrote. Look VERY carefully at what i wrote: One of the most basic litmus tests for morality is to ask "would i still do this if the people being affected knew i was doing it?" If the answer is no, then it's probably immoral. So i said "if the answer is no, it's probably immoral". What did i say if the answer is yes?

Oh. Nothing.

I did NOT say that if the answer is yes that means it's all moral... because that's not how the test works. The test tells you if something is probably immoral... it does NOT tell you that something is moral. If the test does not give a no, then all you know is that it might be moral.

So nothing of what you have written is "according to my logic", it is just according to your own misunderstanding.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
All of those answers are true, and they're only some of the infinite number of true answers i could give. Which one i might choose to give depends on the situation, and my relationship with the person asking.

I absolutely agree. Your answer depends on the situation and the situation with the person asking. This finally brings us back to the original question: is lying wrong? And I think it depends exactly on that situation and on the relationship you have with the person you are talking to.

Whut? Except... NONE OF THE ANSWERS I GAVE WAS A LIE. They were all absolutely and unquestionably true... i just demonstrated that there are many ways to tell the truth differently depending on who you're talking to and the situation... and now you're trying to twist that into a justification for lying, which has exactly nothing to do with what i proved. You're seriously just talking gibberish now.

kaysch wrote:
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t like lying, and whenever I can I try to avoid it.

I call bullshit, because you just said you'd lie to people who just asked in passing how you were. That sure doesn't sound like you have a serious concern about being dishonest to me. In fact, it sure sounds like you'd lie at the drop of a hat.

kaysch wrote:
All I am saying is: people lie and they may have their own moral justification to do so.

And they'd almost certainly be wrong.

You seem to have the ridiculous idea that when people say this or that is moral/immoral, they can't be wrong. I don't see any sense in that. Nobody's knowledge is perfect, so it hardly seems shocking that someone could believe something is moral/immoral and just be wrong.

kaysch wrote:
I treat my wife exactly the same way. If she comes up with a question like “is my ass too fat” I will answer jokingly “yes of course” so that she doesn’t ask me again. It’s a potential lose-lose question, so it’s better to switch subject by making a joke.

That is not how i treat my friends.

Instead of turning her question into a joke, you could ask why she's concerned about it. That seems more in line with actually caring about her than just assuming she's being silly and brushing her off with a joke.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
But anyway, i'm not sure what point you're trying to make by bringing up marketers.

The point is that they most probably think that their lies/manipulations are ethical, just like the Nazis did when they lied before invading Poland or Ulbricht when he lied before building the Berlin wall.

And the point is wrong. They - just like the Nazis - know full well that what they're doing is wrong. They just don't care.

That's easy to prove, too. Take three different groups of people - marketers who lie to the public; people who smoke pot; and, because you brought it up, people who help a critically ill person to die. All three of them are doing something that's against the law. Now look at what happens when each gets caught.

First, we have to eliminate one confounding factor. A lot of people who are charged with a crime can't afford to risk putting up a fight about it. Even if they think the charge is bullshit, they'll meekly beg for mercy and hope to get off with a warning, because they simply can't afford to risk their livelihoods challenging bullshit laws. They have too little power, and too much to lose - even if they're totally in the right, the cost of fighting an unjust law will ruin most people. So we have to ignore those problems and assume we're dealing with someone who has the ability to fight the law - someone who has enough money and power, and nothing to fear, so they can afford to stand up and take their challenge right to the highest court in the land.

So now, what happens when someone like that gets charged with possession of pot? What do they do? Do they accept the conviction? Hellz no! They would fight the drug laws, all the way to the Supreme Court. And that's not theory... people have done that. In fact, there are entire organizations devoted to helping people fight drug laws, and organizations that openly lobby the government to change those laws.

So clearly, people who get charged for smoking pot don't really believe they're doing anything immoral. They believe the laws are unjust, because it is not immoral to smoke pot.

What about people who assist people suffering from terminal diseases to commit suicide? What do they do? Accept the conviction? Muthereffin no! They fight like the dickens! They go to the media and trumpet their cause, they take it right the hell to the Supreme Court, and there are dozens of organizations dedicated to helping them, and to lobbing against laws that prevent assisted suicide.

Again, clearly, people who help terminal patients commit suicide don't really believe they're doing anything immoral. They believe the laws are unjust, because it is not immoral to help someone who reasonably wishes to die.

What about people who are "charged" with false advertising - with lying to consumers in their advertising? You seem to think that these people think what they're doing is perfectly moral. And yet... have you ever heard of anyone who's been called out for lying about their product fighting back? No? Me either. Have you even ever heard of any organizations who openly defend false advertisers? No? Me either. Is there any publicly visible lobbying group fighting to get the rules about false advertising lifted? Nope.

That's because, unlike the previous two cases, these people know they're in the wrong. They may not care... they may even try to justify behaving immorally (at least to themselves)... but the bottom line is they know they are not being moral when they advertise falsely. They know the rules are perfectly just - they still want to break them, for personal benefit, but they are fully aware that the rules themselves are not unjust.

So there you go. They do not think their lies/manipulations are ethical. They are obviously aware that they are not. If they did think they were ethical, they would be openly lobbying to change the rules... because nobody wants rules against doing something ethical (especially when it would also be to their benefit). But they're not because they know it's unethical.

kaysch wrote:
How come you know how many books I have read about morality?

The same way i'd know that someone who thinks the Earth is flat hasn't read any books on science.

LxGoodies wrote:
As I read Kaysch, correct me Kaysch if I'm wrong, his proposition was that "morality" simply does not have the same black/white good/wrong properties as "physics" in this respect.

And he'd be wrong about that.

Nobody is disputing that different cultures at different times have/had different BELIEFS about morality. But they also had different beliefs about science and math. Having varying beliefs about a thing does not mean that thing has varying truths. There is only one truth about science, one truth about mathematics, and one truth about morality. The fact that no culture has ever actually got those truths perfect - and that they have disagreed bitterly about them - doesn't change that. I can't even fathom how people could believe it would.

LxGoodies wrote:
It varies per culture and in it varies in time.

No. -_-

As i've tried to explain: BELIEFS about morality vary... morality itself does not vary.

Why is this so hard to understand? Beliefs about science and mathematics vary as well. I can point to people in these very forums who think the Earth is only a few thousands years old. BELIEFS vary... facts do not. And morality is a set of facts, just like science. Science is a set of facts about the natural universe; morality is a set of facts about the interaction of moral agents.

Not everyone understands it - and many more prefer to flat-out ignore it in favour of their own religious or ideological beliefs. And of course there are plenty who try to distort it for their own purposes.

Now, question - in the previous paragraph, do you think i'm talking about morality? Or was i thinking about science?

LxGoodies wrote:
For philosophy this has no consequence because philosophy does not study behaviour and social conventions.

Wrong and wrong. -_-

LxGoodies wrote:
But nevertheless, the philosophical science associated with moral (ethics) does not evolve around one single paradigm.

Neither does science.

What? Did that shock you? Well, here's your wake-up call: science is not perfect. We do not have the absolute truths about science yet. It is still developing, and there are competing theories.

In both science and ethics, there are certain things that have been well-established - sometimes for centuries - that nobody in the field really questions anymore. In science, that would be things like the existence of atoms. In morality, that would be things like the rightness of rape. However, both fields are incomplete - we don't yet know everything about morality or science. At the cutting edge of both fields, there are numerous competing theories. In science, for example, there is M-theory on the one hand and Quantum Loop Gravity theory on the other (among many other possibilities) - both perfectly describe everything we already know but differ on things we haven't been able to measure yet, and both can't be true. In ethics, we have consequentialism and deontologicalism. Scientists struggle to come up with new tests they can use to differentiate which theory is right... so do ethicists.

LxGoodies wrote:
... there is a relativistic approach, adhered by some philosophers and Kaysch

Wrong. -_-

There are seriously no modern philosophers of any serious standing who subscribe to moral relativism. NONE. Not... one. Zero. (I may be exaggerating a little when i say this... but not by much.)

Read the pages you linked. (Or if you have, read them again, because you've misunderstood them.) Let's start with the first one. Skip on down to where it talks about philosophical views. There are three sections. The third is actually labelled "Philosophical poverty"... i swear i didn't write that myself. It basically points out that, philosophically speaking, moral relativism is bankrupt.

The other two sections have the names of philosophers. The second is easy to dismiss, because it says flat out that Stace is a moral universalist (so am i, by the way - i do not agree that morals are absolute, but i do say they are universal). That leaves the section on Hare.

Now, i'm not going to try and explain Hare's philosophy to you. I'm just going to show you, with one or two clicks, that he wasn't a moral relativist. Just click on his name to go to his page. On his page, look at the box on the right. Specifically, look at his "notable ideas". There are two listed there: "universal prescriptivism", and "two-level utilitarianism". Where do you see "moral relativism"? Go ahead, search his page. In fact, try clicking on either of his notable ideas. Look for "moral relativism" there, too. Spoiler alert: you won't find it. Hare was a utilitarian. Utilitarianism is a universalist moral theory that rejects moral relativism.

Let me sum that up for you. On the page about moral relativism, in the section about philosophy, there are 3 subsections. One calls the idea philosophically bankrupt... the other two name philosophers that reject it.

Clear now? Nobody in philosophy takes moral relativism seriously.

Now, as to the second link, you have really gone and confused yourself here. Ethical naturalism/non-naturalism has NOTHING to do with moral relativism. Seriously, you have no clue what you're talking about.

I can prove it, too. You linked to Moore's "open-question argument", which is supposed to prove that ethical naturalism is wrong. Okay, sure, open that page. Now click on G. E. Moore's name to go to his page. Move on down to the section called "moral knowledge", and look at the last paragraph. The second sentence starts: "Moore, as a consequentialist...". Whoops. Consequentialism is a moral universalist theory... it rejects moral relativism.

I'm really not going to bother to explain the details of the theories you've stumbled on. There is proof enough in just the little bits i've pointed to that they are NOT moral relativist theories. The page on moral relativism can't name a single philosopher or argument that supports it, and the other page you linked to has to do with ethical naturalism/non-naturalism, which has NOTHING to do with moral relativism (and the evidence for that is that the philosophers on both sides of that debate are explicitly non-relativists).

LxGoodies wrote:
.. in contrast to the absolute approach of irreducible moral properties of ethical naturalism, advocated by other philosophers,

I've already explained that you don't understand what you're talking about. Ethical naturalism/non-naturalism is totally unrelated to moral relativism/non-relativism. (In fact, both ethical naturalism and non-naturalism were championed by non-relativists. The best way to sum it up in context is: ethical naturalism and ethical non-naturalism do NOT disagree about whether morals are relative; both agree that morals are universal, and disagree on the nature of that universality - whether they are all reducable to universal natural facts, or if there are irreducable universal moral facts.)

As for "Cornell realism", i've never even heard of it. A brief glance at the wiki page, though, shows that it straight-up rejects relativism.

LxGoodies wrote:
Physics cannot be compared with this.. it does not allow a relativistic approach.. it will have ONE paradigm that changes very slowly over time.. we accumulate knowledge in it, earlier assumptions are either proven or falsified within this paradigm. Knowledge can be falsified.. but it is generally replaced by refined knowledge, that is supplement knowledge.

Your statements about the nature of physics is flat-out wrong. In fact, everything you have said about the nature of physics in that paragraph is either nonsensical or wrong.

Now, i have no idea what you mean by "relativist approach" - what is that even supposed to mean? But physics does NOT have "one paradigm". In fact, physics operates under several paradigms simultaneously. You should talk to Bikerman about this - he's quite well versed on Kuhn's theories of paradigm shifts and scientific revolutions; far more so than me. They key point, though, is that once you understand how science really works - with all its shifting paradigms and revolutions and so on - science looks like it is a field steeped in relativism (much like you think ethics is). Kuhn fought hard to make clear that was not true - even though science is not a "clean" or linear as most people think, and even though it has multiple shifting paradigms and sometimes goes down wrong alleys, science does make progress overall. It's just not smooth progress - it has bumps and valleys and the occasional side track.

The accumulation of knowledge is also not linear. Sometimes we have to toss out huge chunks of information when we discover something new. There were textbooks describing the properties of the aether... they all got pulped when Michelson, Morley, and Einstein showed it didn't exist.

To put it bluntly, you have a very, very simplistic view of science... so simplistic it's wrong.

(Though, granted, it's hard to understand what you're saying half the time, because you keep using words wrong. "Falsified" doesn't mean what you seem to think it means, for example. Neither does "relativistic approach". I would advise sticking to simple and clear terms.)

LxGoodies wrote:
Ethics is a different story.. the Wiki topic states that discussions about the relativistic angles of moral have been going since 600BC ! So (at least) there is more than one story.

And this is the punchline: no, you're wrong.

All of the ideas you have about how science works are wrong. Science is a messy, messy field - at any given time it has dozens of paradigms in play, all contradicting each other, and it frequently goes down wrong alleys. The important thing, though, is that even though at any given moment it's a bloody mess, over time it will generally self-correct and progress.

The exact same is true for progress in ethics. Just as with science, progress in ethics is not linear - there are many paradigms active at any given time, contradicting each other, and it frequently goes down wrong alleys. But over time, ethics does progress.

Just look around the world - just as with science, you can see the effects of advances in ethics. Yes, yes, yes, you can also see places that simply reject modern ethics (like Saudi Arabia, for example)... but so what? You can also see plenty of places that reject modern science (like Saudi Arabia, for example).

And if you point out that people have had stupid ideas about morality since 600 BCE, i say... so what? People have also had stupid ideas about physics since 600 BCE. In fact, that would roughly be about the time of Thales... who believed that the entire universe was made up of water. I don't understand how you can look at the history of wildly changing scientific knowledge and say "science is not relative!"... then look at the history of wildly changing ethical knowledge and say "morality is relative!" To me, that seems obviously fallacious.

The ONLY argument every keeps making for moral relativism is:
  • People disagree on morality.
  • Therefore, morality is not universal.
That's literally it. That's what everyone keeps repeating here, too. But that argument is clearly wrong, and it baffles me that everyone can't see it, even when i reword it as:
  • People disagree on physics. (This is undeniably true! It's not just kooks, either - real physicists are arguing right now between different theories of gravity, such as whether it's quantized or not.)
  • Therefore, physics is not universal.
Which, as i said, is obviously wrong.

If you're going to argue that morality is relative, you're going to have to come with much better evidence than "the Nazis disagreed"... which is all kaysch has. The Nazis also disagreed about physics (they rejected relativity, for example).

kaysch wrote:
On the contrary, if you behave as presumptuously as the Spanish Inquisition did and judge and punish others for not sharing your morality then moral dialogue is impossible. Fortunately the days of the Spanish Inquisition are over. I don't think you have a right to punish me just because I have different ideas about morality than you. If you enjoy being punished for writing what I believe is nonsense that's of course your choice.

Dude, you are sounding more and more insane with every post - not to mention your posting rate here is borderline obsessive; i can barely keep up with your serial posts and edits. Seriously, you're starting to worry me with the craziness now. I don't even know what to make of this gibberish. The Spanish Inquisition? What? Punish you? What the hell are you even talking about?

kaysch wrote:
Like it or not, that's how election campaigns work.

I'm well aware of how elections work, thank you. That was not an essay about political theory, it was an essay about morality. The question is not "is that how they work", it is "is that wrong". And it is. It is objectively wrong. The point of elections is to select the person who will do some job the best. If you vote for someone because of their race or religion, you are an idiot, plain and simple, because there is no reason why a person of a particular race or religion should do some job better than someone else.

kaysch wrote:
Funny, first you advocate the right to "judge" and "punish" others...

You are a liar.

Now, i don't use that word lightly, but i am starting to get fed up with your gibbering insanity, and the lies you keep repeating about what i have written.

I have never, not even once, advocated the right to judge or punish anyone. In fact, i am strictly opposed to punishment of any kind - i don't even like the idea of jail for serial killers. And there is nothing from the bit you quoted that suggests i approve of punishment, let alone any "advocacy"... not one single word in that is any kind of "advocating" for punishment. I mention punishment exactly twice - the first time to point out that you can't do it if subjectivism is true, the second to point out that people do do it. Neither time do i even give the slightest hint that i support it.

Your dishonesty is getting tiring; your insanity, too. You are lying about what i have said. And that will stop now.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
By that metric, there is no difference between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Adolf Hitler - neither made their society better or worse with the changes they provoked; both merely changed their societies. Strange, isn't it?

No, it's not strange.

So do you seriously believe that Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. were equally moral in their aims? Or are you just arguing for the sake of arguing? Because your point is ridiculous.

kaysch wrote:
In my mind it's perfectly fine to try and find rational reasons why most people object to murder.

Of course it is, because you don't really believe moral relativism. No one does. That's the point: if you have a rational reason why murder is wrong, your morals are not relative.

kaysch wrote:
As for the categorical imperative: I don't understand why you list it as universalist.

Because you don't understand it.

kaysch wrote:
Everybody has their own preferences about how he wants to be treated, so if everybody followed the categorical imperative (which most people don't) what comes out is a result based on subjective ideas and preferences. There is nothing absolute behind it, simple and universal as the rule may seem.

As i said, you don't understand it. The rule is universal. That's the point. The fact that different people want different things does not make the rule less universal.

You are confusing moral absolutism with moral universalism. Moral absolutism says that moral rules are absolute - if there is a rule that says killing is immoral, that rule is absolute: you can't kill ever, regardless of anything else. It doesn't matter who you are or what the situation is, the rule is the rule. In moral absolutism, the universal rules gives the same result every time.

Moral universalism says that rules are universal: the rules apply to everyone, but they do take the situation into account... though they take the situation into account the same way for everyone. So a moral rule may be "no killing except in self-defence". When the rule is applied, the situation is considered - if there was self defence, the killing was permissible; if not, it was immoral. In moral universalism, the universal rules may give different results, depending on the situation.
kaysch
First and foremost:
Indi wrote:

- this is going to make you look like a complete idiot
- Bullshit, on many levels.
- i am starting to get fed up with your gibbering insanity, and the lies you keep repeating about what i have written.
- By your own (ridiculous) logic

I find this sort of language really hurtful. I’m asking you this for the second time now: when discussing with me please try to be more polite. We are discussing complex matters, so if you think I’m wrong for whatever reason tell me where I am wrong without using this sort of offensive language.
Indi wrote:
So which is it? Do you believe math is not objective? Or do you believe that morality might be, even though people disagree about it?

„Is it right or wrong that the Earth has the shape of a disc?“ has an objective and scientifically verifiable answer: it’s wrong. Not agreeing with that answer means somebody chooses to ignore a verifiable fact. Thinking about it, science has always progressed through challenging existing ideas about what people assumed to be true, so even natural science may not have the absolute truth you claim there is. Conclusion: Natural science might lead to an objective truth.
„Is the death penalty right or wrong?“ has no objective and scientifically verifiable answer no matter how hard you try to find it. People’s opinions differ on it and will probably always differ. Conclusion: morality is and cannot be universal or objective.
Indi wrote:
As for the "slightly" and "utterly"; those are just adjectives you tack on to express your emotional response. They are not "degrees of wrongness", they are just expressions of you feel about that particular wrong.

They also indicate how far away somebody is from being right. And it’s precisely that difference in wording that separates us human beings from unemotional robots.
Indi wrote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ethics
Unless you were just being dishonest, you must now admit that morality exists in absolute terms.

First reaction: Oops.
Second reaction: Read the article, and you will find out that over time there have been various thoughts on morality, many of them still exist today in parallel. Jews still cling to their ideas, Christians do, the categorical imperative is still modern, utilitarianism is still popular and so on and so forth. I wouldn’t say there is no development in ethical ideas, but they are definitely not as stringent as developments in natural science and they have not lead to developing that one version of ethics you claim there is.
Indi wrote:
You have to understand that the fact that our beliefs about science change, that doesn't mean that the thing being studied - the actual mechanics of the natural universe - changes, too. I mean, seriously. Before Newton came along, people believed Galileo's laws of motion... they were wrong. But when Newton's laws were discovered nothing about the actual universe changed. The only thing that changed was peoples' beliefs about it. And then when Einstein came along and showed that even Newton was wrong, the universe still didn't change. Only our beliefs about it did.

All fine, and I completely agree with you.
Indi wrote:
The exact same thing happens with morality. As with science, there have been several revolutionary changes in our understanding of morality - several times where we realized that our previous understanding of morality was just plain wrong. Our beliefs about morality changed; morality did not.

Define „we“.
Indi wrote:
The fact that our beliefs about something change does NOT mean that the thing itself changes, or that there isn't an absolute truth about it.

I agree. Plus: a change in our beliefs does not mean that the thing itself does NOT change, or that there IS an absolute truth about it. Now replace „something“ with „absolute morality“ – which is what we are talking about specifically. What you get is that your belief about the existence of an absolute morality does not necessarily mean that absolute morality exists. You just think it does. And I think it doesn’t. That does not make you or me right or wrong. We just have different beliefs on it. You see how relative your view on absolute morality is?
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
If there was an absolute truth in economics, we’d all be billionaires right now.
you're just jabbering nonsense that you don't even really believe yourself.

We on earth call it humour, Mr Spock. Wink
Indi wrote:
So what about mathematics then? Mathematics isn't an object - it's just a concept. You can't "measure" mathematics. By your own (ridiculous) logic, that must mean you believe math is subjective.

Is mathematics subjective because it is a concept? I don’t know, honestly. Much in mathematics is about inventing wild assumptions which are to a certain point subjective. The logic that then follows is presumably objective. Can we skip this please? I don’t think it brings us any further in our discussion whether lying is OK and whether there is an absolute morality or not.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
Morality is not an object but a concept, it's subjective. You can't measure it, and I doubt you can define it properly or even fill that word with life.
For the record, i can define morality. Morality is simply reason applied to moral agents. And there is a clear definition for moral agents too: a moral agent is any being that is capable of reason. So morality is simply applied reason, focusing on interactions between beings that are themselves capable of reason.

I think that’s a poor definition. A liar just would have to apply reason for you to label his behaviour as ethical. And many people did lie using a lot of reason: Goebbels, Ulbricht, ad agencies…
Indi wrote:
Once again you are demonstrating that you don't really understand what "immoral" means. "Immoral" doesn't just mean "i don't like it" or "it hurts my feelings".

No, according to your definition you can insult me by using offensive language as long as you apply reason. But I don’t accept that, and I guess most people around you won’t either.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
Go ahead, prove to me that Indiism is right. I will happily be your first and foremost disciple. What is the „right“ view on abortion, nuclear energy, assisted suicide or tax laws? I’m really eager to know.

I think you are lying. I have good reason to think so, not least because you don't sound honest, but because you have shamelessly and openly said that you think it's okay to lie. Therefore, you are a not a good person to trust.

I never said it’s OK to lie. On the contrary I said I don’t like it. And I said that different people have different attitudes about lying. I think I’m a trustworthy person. Pity you didn't answer this one by the way. But I guess you just can't.
Indi wrote:
If you really believed morality is subjective... you wouldn't be arguing with me about it. It is pointless to argue about subjective opinions

Simple: I enjoy the discussion with you - except for the inappropriately rude language you are using. It’s nice to challenge you and I enjoy being challenged. It may be pointless in the sense that you probably won’t change your mind, and neither will I. (Which only proves my point that views on morality are subjective. Wink ) But it broadens my mind, I learnt that what I think is called moralist relativism, and that most people seem to share my view (although you look down upon them).
Indi wrote:
This is the big lie of moral relativism. For all those people who claim to believe it, nobody will really sit by and just let other people have their own moral standards... everybody believes their moral standards should be universal. Even you, as you have shown here.

I don’t believe my moral standards should or even could be universal. But that doesn’t mean I can’t challenge you on your views, does it?
Indi wrote:
All systems of law are based on moral universals. You're German, right? Look at your constitution …

No, laws are based on largely shared but still subjective ethical views – which is a big difference. Look at the Canadian constitution. In the preamble it says „Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law“. The supremacy of God? Oh yeah? Where in the German constitution is that? Compare constitutions around the world, and you will see every country has a different one, reflecting the prevalent ethical principles of that country and of the time when it was written.
Indi wrote:
I mention this because you've hinted that you don't think there's been any progress in ethics. (…) Where is the slave trade? (…) Child labour is being eliminated, along with grooming children to be soldiers or sex workers. Most recently there's been a burst of interest in women's rights worldwide. Most places in the world respect basic human rights

But where do you take this from? I do think there is progress in ethical behaviour around the world. Look here:
kaysch wrote:
No, it's not strange. Moral ideas of individuals have changed over time. They form the majority in a country, so their views get reflected in the law. That's why in the West we don't have slavery anymore, at least on paper there are equal rights between men and women and there are no legal atrocities anymore based on racism. It's not because there is a universal morality such as the 10 commandments or the like. It's because more and more people have progressed to a more humane and less aggressive behaviour.

Indi wrote:
That statement had nothing to do with the invasion... it was about the deception used to justify the invasion (remember, the whole topic is about lying... not invading)

Alright.
Indi wrote:
The statement was about the lie used to justify the invasion, which you said was moral (because the Nazis believed it was moral, or some such gibberish)

I didn’t say it was moral or that I found it moral, but that the Nazis found it moral, and you did not object to that. I also said that the Nazis did not regard the Poles’ interest as relevant, so even if they had used your litmus test it would have resulted in „moral“ (or „probably moral“ or „probably not immoral“ – not sure how you prefer to put it) because the „people affected“ to be used in the test were the Germans, not the Poles.
Indi wrote:
i just demonstrated that there are many ways to tell the truth differently depending on who you're talking to and the situation... and now you're trying to twist that into a justification for lying, which has exactly nothing to do with what i proved.

I’m not twisting anything. I said:
kaysch wrote:
This finally brings us back to the original question…

Indi wrote:
you just said you'd lie to people who just asked in passing how you were. That sure doesn't sound like you have a serious concern about being dishonest to me. In fact, it sure sounds like you'd lie at the drop of a hat.

You misunderstood me.
kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
no one seriously believes they lie when they give a quick "fine" in response.
I do if in reality I don't feel fine.

To make it clear: I seriously believe I lie when I give a quick „fine“ in response. That’s why I try to avoid it.
Indi wrote:
They do not think their lies/manipulations are ethical. They are obviously aware that they are not. If they did think they were ethical, they would be openly lobbying to change the rules... because nobody wants rules against doing something ethical (especially when it would also be to their benefit). But they're not because they know it's unethical.

As if Marlboro didn’t lobby hard…
Indi wrote:
The Spanish Inquisition? What? Punish you? What the hell are you even talking about? (…) I have never, not even once, advocated the right to judge or punish anyone. In fact, i am strictly opposed to punishment of any kind.

Here’s what I meant:
Indi wrote:
all of these things do happen - we do disagree, we do have moral dialogues, and we do judge others... and occasionally punish them. Therefore, simple subjectivism cannot be right.

In my mind there is no need to judge and punish others just because one disagrees with them, that’s contrary to freedom of speech, it’s rude and it resembles the way the Spanish Inquisition worked. You could say: let’s try NOT to judge and punish others too soon. But you don’t. You take judging and punishing as a given, and for me that is very close to advocating it. But all that doesn’t mean simple subjectivism cannot be right. Just be polite, and it could work. Anyway, I’m happy to read your clarification on this bit.
Indi wrote:
The point of elections is to select the person who will do some job the best. If you vote for someone because of their race or religion, you are an idiot, plain and simple, because there is no reason why a person of a particular race or religion should do some job better than someone else.

There are plenty of reasons why people put more hopes in candidates of a certain race or religion and vote for them. Look at the US elections: How many blacks and hispanics voted for Barack Obama BECAUSE of his skin colour? How many people will vote for Ted Cruz BECAUSE of his religious views? Do you think they are all idiots? And: would you vote for the Christian Heritage Party of Canada if you wanted the word „God“ to be removed from the Canadian constitution? If not, are you an idiot because you don’t?
kaysch wrote:
So do you seriously believe that Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. were equally moral in their aims?

No. I am suggesting they were both equally convinced that their aims were justified by a universal morality – something you claim exists. And in the case of Adolf Hitler (and the above-mentioned Spanish Inquisition) that lead to a lot of misery.
Indi wrote:
if you have a rational reason why murder is wrong, your morals are not relative.

My views may be rational and firm, but other people may have contrasting ideas. Again: abortion, death penalty, defending your country or assisted suicide may make people believe that murder is justified. My morals cannot be absolute then, they are just one point of view. Which makes them relative.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
As for the categorical imperative: I don't understand why you list it as universalist.

You are confusing moral absolutism with moral universalism. (…) Moral universalism says that rules are universal: the rules apply to everyone, but they do take the situation into account... though they take the situation into account the same way for everyone. So a moral rule may be "no killing except in self-defence". When the rule is applied, the situation is considered - if there was self defence, the killing was permissible; if not, it was immoral. In moral universalism, the universal rules may give different results, depending on the situation.

OK, here’s an example to illustrate where my doubt is:
I asked you to use respectful language when discussing with me. And (although you may not agree with the outcome) I tried my best to be respectful with you. I tried to follow the principle of categorical imperative.
You turned that request down, saying you „can’t respect anybody who has views that are not worth respecting“. And you continued to use a lot of disrespectful language, see my introductory comment to this post. For the sake of the argument let’s assume that you do that although you follow categorical imperative as well. You simply don’t care much about being treated with respectful language.
Now, we are both using categorical imperative to determine our behaviour. But the outcome is completely different, I am nice and you are rude. Now: what is the mutually (if not universally) applicable law of communication style between you and me? Rude or respectful?
Indi
kaysch wrote:
First and foremost:
Indi wrote:

- this is going to make you look like a complete idiot
- Bullshit, on many levels.
- i am starting to get fed up with your gibbering insanity, and the lies you keep repeating about what i have written.
- By your own (ridiculous) logic

I find this sort of language really hurtful.

Then you should move to the other forum.

If you put a stupid idea forward, i will call it stupid. If you put a ridiculous claim forward, i will call it ridiculous. If you spout nonsense, i will call it nonsense. In each of these cases, the thing that i have "insulted" is the idea or claim... not the person giving it. If you are incapable of understanding that - if you are incapable of telling the difference between a criticism of ideas and a criticism of people - if you get "hurt" by people pointing out when your beliefs are wrong - then this forum is not for you. Luckily there is another forum that was specifically created for people like you. If you insist on posting here, fine, but i would strongly suggest you read the "forum rules (beyond TOS)" sticky for this forum (which actually explain in detail what i have just said).

As for "offensive language", you are only pretending to be "offended" because i've pointed out that your arguments are completely ridiculous... so much so that you've actually silently abandoned several, and changed your tune completely. "Offensive language" does not mean "that guy showed me how wrong i was and it hurt my feelings".

And if you want to talk about "offensive", I consider your lies far, far more offensive than calling an idea "nonsense" - infinitely worse, in fact - and you've already been caught in several, and i see no sign of slowing down.

kaysch wrote:
„Is the death penalty right or wrong?“ has no objective and scientifically verifiable answer no matter how hard you try to find it. People’s opinions differ on it and will probably always differ. Conclusion: morality is and cannot be universal or objective.

Yeah? What about "π is irrational"?

Did you know that people argued for centuries... for millenia... about whether π is irrational? It's true. People have actually been murdered over the question. Religions have fallen apart over the question. (Pythagoreanism was a religion that worshipped numbers as "perfect", and it was apparently a horrifying shock to discover that the circle ratio - one of the most important numbers - is "imperfect".) Even up to modern times, as recent as 1897, a guy tried to pass a law declaring that π is rational.

So there's the first criteria: people disagree over it. (Which is not shocking - there have been disagreements over math for as long as recorded history, and some of those disagreements have been violent disagreements. Tycho Brahe famously lost his nose in a duel over math.)

How would you verify that π is (or isn't) irrational?

There is no way you can possibly verify it by any observation. You can't list a million ratios and say "π doesn't equal any of them, therefore π is irrational", because i could easily and rightly point out that it's possible that there is a ratio equal to π in one of the next trillion ratios you haven't checked yet. There are an infinite number of ratios, so there is no possible way you can check them all to confirm that π isn't irrational.

So there's the second criteria: there is nothing you can observe or measure to settle the question.

Conclusion (according to you): "is π is irrational" has no objective and scientifically verifiable answer no matter how hard you try to find it. People's opinions differ on it and will probably always differ. Conclusion: mathematics is and cannot be universal or objective.

But of course... this is wrong. You know that math is not subjective. So your conclusion must be wrong. Your reasoning must be fallacious. And since it is exactly the same reasoning you use for morality, your conclusion about morality is probably also wrong.

The first thing that went wrong is your fixation on agreement/disagreement. No truth is dependent on how many people or disagree with it. It is either true or it is not, and to hell with how many people disagree either way. That is true for science. That is true for math. And it is true for morality. Every time you repeat that so-and-so - the Nazis, advertisers, society at large, whatever - disagrees with a moral conclusion, you're effectively stating nothing. Because who cares? I can line up lists and lists of people who disagree with science or math, too.

You also failed to consider the other way you can check that things are universal and objective: reason. Reason is just as universal and objective as observation and measurement... in fact, it is arguably more universal and objective, because your senses can be deceived and you'll have no way of knowing. But you can always spot fallacies in reasoning. (That doesn't mean you always will... people believe a lot of stupid things. The point is you can, if you really try. There is nothing that prevents you from detecting errors in reasoning if you seriously put your mind to it.)

Math is an exercise in pure reason. There is nothing you can observe or measure to prove mathematical theories. The way math theories are "tested" is reason is applied to them. One of the most common tests is the "proof by contradiction", where you assume the opposite of something, follow the logic, and discover yourself in a place where sense falls apart.

For example, to prove that π is irrational, you simply assume it's not, then look at Euler's identity - "ℯ^(π𝑖) = −1"... if π is rational, then π𝑖 (because 𝑖 is not irrational) must be rational and ℯ^(π𝑖) must be irrational (because ℯ is irrational and any irrational number raised to a rational power is irrational)... but ℯ^(π𝑖) equals −1 which is clearly not irrational, therefore the assumption that π is rational must have been wrong... so π is irrational.

Morality, like mathematics, is also an exercise in pure reason. Let's try it out. Let's assume that "the death penalty is (morally) right". More specifically: "killing someone who has done something wrong is right". But that's not quite right, is it? What you really mean want to use the death penalty for is serious crimes, usually specifically killing someone else (though people do argue for the death penalty for other crimes - ignore those for the moment, the logic works just as well for them, it's just much more complex). So what we have now is "killing someone who has killed someone is wrong". I think you can already see that we're in a logical mess.

If we stopped there, we'd already have the conclusion that killing for vengeance (even under the disguise of "justice", because notice that no reason at all is mentioned) is always wrong. But let's press on, and let's say you want to argue that what it should really be is: "killing someone who has killed someone wrongly is wrong". Now, here's the million-dollar question... how do you (the executioner) know that you are not wrongly killing the condemned? The answer is... you can't. No one has perfect knowledge. You can NEVER be sure that you have all the facts about the first killing. You run the very real risk of wrongly executing someone, and can never be sure that's not the case (not even if there were a thousand witnesses and the alleged killer straight up confesses... there have been numerous wrongful convictions even when these things are true). There's no way you can ever undo the mistake, if you make it. And wrongly executing someone would be wrong - you'd end up in an infinite spiral of killing: you kill the guy for wrongly killing someone else... someone else kills you for wrongly killing them... someone kills them for wrongly killing you... etc.

But that's not all! The premiss is "killing someone without justification is wrong"... that's why it's supposedly okay to execute them. But... how you do know that executing them is not also unjustified? What gives the executioner the justification to kill that the condemned didn't have? The courts? Piffle: "legal" does not equal "moral" (that should be obvious; there are plenty of courts and laws that are blindingly obviously immoral). Where does the executioner get the justification to kill? Popular vote? Ridiculous. Are they justified in killing because the other guy did something wrong first? But that would mean that "two wrongs make a right"... which is obviously nonsensical; if it were possible to "fix" a wrong by committing another wrong, you end up in a completely senseless mess where there is no end to "fixing" previous wrongs.

So the statement "the death penalty is right" cannot be true, because it leads to logical absurdities. (Obviously there is much more to the reasoning than this to make it conclusive, but this is not a thread about the death penalty.)

There is nothing we can observe or measure to prove that the death penalty is wrong, but - just as with math - we can apply reason, and anything that results in a logical contradiction must be wrong. You accept that it works for math, so why not accept it works for morality, too?

Now, at this point i'm sure you're itching to say: "But there are lots of people who think the death penalty is right!!!" No shit. But they're wrong. They can't be right. I'm not calling them wrong merely because i disagree with them, i'm calling them wrong because saying "the death penalty is right" leads to logical contradiction... just like saying π is rational. Saying "the death penalty is (morally) right" is (factually) wrong in exactly the same way, and for exactly the same reasons, as saying "π is rational" is (factually) wrong. In fact, it's tautologically wrong - it's as wrong as saying "true is false".

And note, nothing in my proof about the death penalty depends on opinion, or culture, or anything like that. All i did was assume "the death penalty is (morally) right" is true, then look at what that logically entailed, and found that it was intrinsically illogical. In other words... anyone... anytime... anywhere... will come to exactly the same conclusion. This is a universal conclusion. If anyone comes to a different conclusion than me, that means either my logic is wrong... or their logic is wrong (and if my logic is wrong, then the death penalty would be right everywhere, regardless of how i feel about it). Usually, the "arguments" given in favour of the death penalty are emotional and irrational - things like "justice requires balance!" (no, it doesn't - should we also rape rapists?) or "an eye for an eye" (which would leave the whole world blind, as the saying goes) or "we can't just support these killers to sit comfortably in jail" (which is particularly odious, because it means we should kill people to save a few bucks) - so it's highly unlikely that it's my logic that is flawed. (Though, you're welcome to take a swing at it, in another topic of course.)

That is how morality is universal and objective... and it is exactly the same way mathematics is universal and objective. The only difference between morality and mathematics is what entities you are applying logic to - either quantities and sets, or the interactions of moral agents. Everything else is the same. So if you don't believe morality is universal, then you also don't believe mathematics is universal. Which is ridiculous.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
As for the "slightly" and "utterly"; those are just adjectives you tack on to express your emotional response. They are not "degrees of wrongness", they are just expressions of you feel about that particular wrong.

They also indicate how far away somebody is from being right. And it’s precisely that difference in wording that separates us human beings from unemotional robots.

"How far away" from being right is irrelevant. You're either there - you're right - or you're not.

kaysch wrote:
And it’s precisely that difference in wording that separates us human beings from unemotional robots.

What a nonsensical statement. How does tacking on a qualifier - meaningful or not - magically make us different from "unemotional robots"? They can do exactly the same thing, in exactly the same way. They can use pure logic to conclude that murder is wrong, then analyze the impact of murder on the survivors compared to other transgressions and conclude that it causes much more emotional stress (than, for example, mere robbery)... then slap on the "utterly" label.

As a further highlight on how foolish that notion is: Why do you believe that "unemotional robots" are incapable of being moral? Do you seriously believe that if we are ever able to create artificial intelligences, and if we don't give them emotions, they will be unable to tell right from wrong? Do you know how ridiculous that sounds, given that we already have limited expert systems that can tell right from wrong (and obviously have no emotions)? Are you aware that there are many people who have "constricted affect" - or no emotions at all, in some cases - and they can live perfectly moral lives?

Emotion - specifically empathy - is not necessary for morality. Empathy is simply a mechanism we have evolved to drive us to act morally without reasoning about it. It doesn't work perfectly, of course, but it does a good job of "tricking" us into acting morally without requiring us to actually sit down and work out the logic (which, obviously, we weren't able to do for the vast majority of our evolutionary history, and still aren't able to do for large chunks of our life, like when we are children). Empathy isn't the only thing we've evolved to drive us to make the smart choice without actually requiring us to use logic - for example, fear of being alone drives us to stick together with others, which protects us.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_ethics
Unless you were just being dishonest, you must now admit that morality exists in absolute terms.

First reaction: Oops.
Second reaction: Read the article, and you will find out that over time there have been various thoughts on morality, many of them still exist today in parallel. Jews still cling to their ideas, Christians do, the categorical imperative is still modern, utilitarianism is still popular and so on and so forth. I wouldn’t say there is no development in ethical ideas, but they are definitely not as stringent as developments in natural science and they have not lead to developing that one version of ethics you claim there is.

Read the article on the history of math, or science. You will find that over time there have been various thoughts on those things, too. You will also find that many ideas still exist today in parallel. Jews still cling to their ideas about science and mathematics, Christians do, creationism and "flood geology" are still popular and so on and so forth.

The reality is that there's just as much contentiousness in math or science as there ever has been in morality. Just about the only difference is that morality is a much younger field than the other two, so if you want to fairly compare them, you have to compare morality to science two or three hundred years ago, or to mathematics two thousand years ago. You go back two hundred years in science and they had no clue about atoms or molecules, no clue about genetics or evolution, no clue about fossils or geologic time, and believed that the Earth was a couple hundred thousand years old, and silly religious notions like that the Biblical flood shaped the mountains and valleys. For its relatively young age, ethics is far more advanced and rigorous than either mathematics or science were at the same age.

Furthermore, you are flat-out wrong about there being "one version" of science or mathematics. In fact, there are several versions... of both. You are simply never exposed to them, because the real flux all happens at the cutting edge of these two fields... the math and science you know looks "fixed" and unquestionable, because you only deal with the parts that are well-established. And everything i just wrote is equally true for morality: just like in those other fields, there are plenty of things in morality that are well-established - like the immorality of slavery, for example - and there are plenty of things still under active research. Just like in science or math, in the areas under active research there are several theories - QLG and M-theory in physics, for example, and consequentialism and deontology in morality.

The bottom line, though, is that you've been caught. You have been shown that everything that is true for science and math - which you know are objective - is also true for morality. You have been shown that there is disagreement in science and math just as much as there is in morality. Yet here you are, still desperately arguing that morality can't be objective because people disagree about it... and still obviously wrong because people also disagree about science and math, and you accept those are objective.

kaysch wrote:
Is mathematics subjective because it is a concept? I don’t know, honestly. Much in mathematics is about inventing wild assumptions which are to a certain point subjective. The logic that then follows is presumably objective. Can we skip this please? I don’t think it brings us any further in our discussion whether lying is OK and whether there is an absolute morality or not.

There is NOTHING subjective in mathematics. The "wild assumptions" you describe are hypotheses that are then subject to testing within the logical framework. You can't just say whatever you please in mathematics - some things are simply wrong, and they are proven wrong by showing how they fail logically.

The exact same thing is true in morality. You're free to make any moral hypotheses that you like, but they are then subject to testing within the logical framework. You can't just say whatever you please is moral - some things are simply wrong, and they are proven wrong by showing how they fail logically.

Lying, for example, is proven to be immoral because if you assume it is moral, you get logical absurdities. Saying "lying is okay" is as wrong as saying "π is rational". It can't be true, because it is logically absurd. It doesn't matter what your opinion is. You can say it, sure... you can even believe it. But the fact remains that it is flat out wrong. π is not rational, and lying is not okay... for the exact same reason: it would create logical impossibilities otherwise.

This comparison is important, and the reason it makes you uncomfortable is because you can't deny it. You know that mathematical facts are not observable or measurable - mathematics does not deal with concrete "things" - yet you know they are absolutely objective. And the exact same reasoning leads to the conclusion that there can be objective moral facts.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
Morality is not an object but a concept, it's subjective. You can't measure it, and I doubt you can define it properly or even fill that word with life.
For the record, i can define morality. Morality is simply reason applied to moral agents. And there is a clear definition for moral agents too: a moral agent is any being that is capable of reason. So morality is simply applied reason, focusing on interactions between beings that are themselves capable of reason.

I think that’s a poor definition. A liar just would have to apply reason for you to label his behaviour as ethical. And many people did lie using a lot of reason: Goebbels, Ulbricht, ad agencies…

It appears to be a poor definition to you because you do not understand it. Reason is not subjective. If a liar applies reason... truly applies reason, and doesn't just pretend to apply reason to convince themselves or others, or doesn't just "apply" it in a very limited sense (ie, ignoring relevant facts)... then they will come to the conclusion that their behaviour is unethical. They can't not come to that conclusion, because it is the only conclusion you will get from reason.

Don't confuse REASON with "reasons". People can have "reasons" for what they do, but those "reasons" aren't necessarily based in REASON. It is unfortunate that the English language overloads the word "reason" for so many different things - it leads to confusion. People can have personal and subjective "reasons"... they cannot have personal and subjective REASON. REASON is universal (math is just applied reason, so if reason weren't universal, math wouldn't be).

Obviously liars like Goebbels and such will say what they did is moral, but it baffles me that you take them seriously. If a creationist said their research was scientific, would you believe them? Of course not. So why would believe that Goebbels was moral just because he said he was? That's just stupid.

It doesn't matter what people say or think - if what they did was truly scientific, mathematical, or moral, anyone can find that out for themselves by simply applying the rules of science, mathematics, or morality to what they did. A quick check will show you that what the creationist did isn't scientific. A quick check will show you that that what the "π law" guy did is not mathematical. A quick check will show you what Goebbels did wasn't moral. And it doesn't matter what either of them say or think about it.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
Once again you are demonstrating that you don't really understand what "immoral" means. "Immoral" doesn't just mean "i don't like it" or "it hurts my feelings".

No, according to your definition you can insult me by using offensive language as long as you apply reason.

And again i say: i use what you call "offensive language" to "insult" your IDEAS. I have no interest in insulting you. I can - and do - harshly challenge your claims - yes, using reason as you say (it's called doing philosophy). But calling your reasons out for being foolish is NOT the same as calling you foolish.

Enough with the persecution complex. You tried the exact same gambit with Bikerman, when you accused him of calling people "liars" just because they didn't want to listen to his argument. He didn't fall for your crap and i won't either.

Further, what you call "offensive language" appears to be anything that criticizes what you say. You are trying to play the wounded martyr because you don't like being proven wrong, nothing more, nothing less.

kaysch wrote:
I never said it’s OK to lie.

Okay, that is a flat-out lie. You described several cases where you think it is okay to lie. You mentioned when people ask you how you are, and when your wife asks about her ass. Not only did you never once even hint that you didn't like it, you freely admitted you do it all the time, and even tried to justify it... repeatedly. You even accused me of "humiliating" my friends by refusing to lie! You said you were a better person than me because you lie!

If you have changed your beliefs about lying since you started posting in this thread, fine - that's a good thing, because they were horrible beliefs. But you can't seriously expect to get away with pretending that you were always against lying - not after several posts attempting to justify doing it.

(And the reasons i didn't answer your questions are because: 1) it would take far too long; 2) it would be far too great a diversion for a topic about lying (if you want to discuss the morality of those things, make topics for them); 3) i don't believe you are being really honest when you say you want to know the answers; and 4) you are trying to use a dishonest technique called a "Gish gallop", where you dump tons of things on the other person to force them to deal with it, so they can't properly deal with any one question properly... even now you're falsely claiming i can't answer those questions just because i didn't, in the hopes that it will distract me into answering them so i can't properly focus on anything else.)

kaysch wrote:
... I learnt that what I think is called moralist relativism, and that most people seem to share my view (although you look down upon them).

Yet again: i don't look down on THEM. I look down on their belief. Learn to tell the difference.

kaysch wrote:
No, laws are based on largely shared but still subjective ethical views – which is a big difference.

No, laws are NOT based on ethics at all. What is unethical about driving on the left-hand side of the road? What is unethical about walking around naked in public? What is unethical about growing your own weed and smoking it? Don't you think having an affair is unethical? Well then why are there no laws against cheating on your partner?

Laws are supposed to be based on the restrictions that are necessary to make society work - no more, no less. Trying to legislate morality is always a terrible idea. (Which doesn't stop some people from trying, of course.)

The overlap you see between laws and morals is merely coincidental. It happens because morality is based on reason, and laws are (or should be) based on reason. They are two different branches of reason - one is reasoning about interactions between moral agents, the other is reasoning about managing an entire society - but some things are relevant to both. Like murder, for example - it's obviously relevant to interactions between moral agents, but it's also relevant to the management of a society. On the other hand, traffic and trade laws are relevant to the management of a society, but are irrelevant to the interactions between moral agents. And staying faithful to your partner is relevant to interactions between moral agents, but not to managing a society.

kaysch wrote:
Look at the Canadian constitution. In the preamble it says „Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law“. The supremacy of God? Oh yeah? Where in the German constitution is that? Compare constitutions around the world, and you will see every country has a different one, reflecting the prevalent ethical principles of that country and of the time when it was written.

That bit about God in the preamble of the Canadian Constitution exists because we needed a constitution - we didn't have one at the time - but several major Christian groups were putting up roadblocks. They were going to block the Constitution if they didn't get their way. In order to appease them - to shut them up so we could actually get on with making our Constitution - we put that mention of God in the preamble. It was only done right near the end to prevent any more holdups, and no one really took it seriously - in fact the Prime Minister at the time famously said, "I don't think God gives a damn whether he's in the Constitution or not."

And, incidentally, the preamble is only ceremonial - it is not intended to have any legal force, and in fact conflicts with section 2.

Constitutions don't necessarily reflect any kind of popular beliefs - let alone popular beliefs about morality. Constitutions reflect the attitudes of the people in power at the time they are drafted. (For a glaring example, look what happened in Egypt, when the Muslim Brotherhood created a constitution that nobody in Egypt but them liked.) However, all constitutions - the Canadian and German constitutions included - are based on the idea of universal rights and ethics. No constitution is based on the idea of relative morality.

kaysch wrote:
But where do you take this from? I do think there is progress in ethical behaviour around the world.

"Change" and "progress" are not the same thing. Of course you believe in moral change - i can't imagine anyone doesn't believe that people's views on morality change. But that's not the same thing as believing that morals progress - ie, change to get closer to the universal truth. If you seriously believe there is no universal morality, then there can't be progress... because there's nothing to measure "progress" by. Just imagine a race without a set course that applied to everyone running - how would you measure who was leading and who wasn't? You can't - the idea is meaningless without a universal standard to measure by.

Remember what i told you: you don't really believe moral relativism. No one really does. Lots of people think they do, but when they are forced to think seriously about it, they inevitably discover they don't. This is one reason why.

If you seriously believed that there is no universal morality, then you must believe there is no moral progress. You can't have one and not the other. You insist there is no universal morality... i say you don't really believe that, and the fact that you believe in moral progress proves it.

kaysch wrote:
I also said that the Nazis did not regard the Poles’ interest as relevant, so even if they had used your litmus test it would have resulted in „moral“ (or „probably moral“ or „probably not immoral“ – not sure how you prefer to put it) because the „people affected“ to be used in the test were the Germans, not the Poles.

You can't simply declare entire populations "irrelevant" and expect to have your moral conclusions involving them taken seriously. Ignoring things relevant to your moral calculations just because you feel like it is extremely irrational. It's as stupid as looking at a math equation "x + y = c" and just saying "meh, y is just irrelevant, so the answer is x = c". That answer is wrong, and so were the Nazis, for the same reason.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
The Spanish Inquisition? What? Punish you? What the hell are you even talking about? (…) I have never, not even once, advocated the right to judge or punish anyone. In fact, i am strictly opposed to punishment of any kind.

Here’s what I meant:
Indi wrote:
all of these things do happen - we do disagree, we do have moral dialogues, and we do judge others... and occasionally punish them. Therefore, simple subjectivism cannot be right.

In my mind there is no need to judge and punish others just because one disagrees with them, that’s contrary to freedom of speech, it’s rude and it resembles the way the Spanish Inquisition worked. You could say: let’s try NOT to judge and punish others too soon. But you don’t. You take judging and punishing as a given, and for me that is very close to advocating it. But all that doesn’t mean simple subjectivism cannot be right. Just be polite, and it could work. Anyway, I’m happy to read your clarification on this bit.

Whut? You cherry-picked that sentence out of context, and interpreted in a ridiculous way. The bit you clipped off there shows that i'm talking about morality... we disagree about morality, we have moral dialogues about morality, we judge others based on morality, and occasionally punish them based on morality.

This is what i mean when i say you're gibbering nonsense. You're picking sentences out of context and replying to what you think they say based on your own fixations and complexes - seriously, you see the words "disagree", "judge" and "punish" in the same sentence, and it immediately triggers your persecution context about "judging and punishing people who disagree", never mind that it has nothing to do with what that sentence is actually about - leaving me scratching my head as to where the hell this shit is coming from.

NOBODY... ANYWHERE... in this entire topic... has even once... talked about punishing people who disagree with them... ... ... EXCEPT YOU. You randomly pulled that out of your ass when talking to Bikerman - even though it had nothing to do with what he said - and now you're doing it to me. NOTHING i have said has anything to do with censoring people... NOTHING. This is a topic about lying, and more recently moral relativism vs moral universalism. Anything you think you see about me saying people should be silenced or punished because they have different opinions from me is all in your head.

This is my "clarification": you are making shit up based on your own paranoia that has nothing to do with anything i have written (and not only that, is wholly irrelevant to anything anyone has said in this thread, except you).

kaysch wrote:
You take judging and punishing as a given, and for me that is very close to advocating it.

Right, because pointing out that something happens is "very close to advocating it".{/sarcasm} -_- So if i point out that ~3% of women in North America have been raped, you're going to conclude I'm pro-rape now? If I point out that there's a genocide going on in CAR, you're going to conclude I'm advocating genocide? Oh, you've pointed out that Nazism exists... that must mean you advocate Nazism, right?

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
The point of elections is to select the person who will do some job the best. If you vote for someone because of their race or religion, you are an idiot, plain and simple, because there is no reason why a person of a particular race or religion should do some job better than someone else.

There are plenty of reasons why people put more hopes in candidates of a certain race or religion and vote for them. Look at the US elections: How many blacks and hispanics voted for Barack Obama BECAUSE of his skin colour? How many people will vote for Ted Cruz BECAUSE of his religious views? Do you think they are all idiots?

Yes.

Do you think they are not? Imagine you had three groups who were about to go on a difficult and dangerous quest, and they each had to choose the leader who would guide them. One group picked a guy because he had the best hair. Another group picked a woman because she had the same religious beliefs as most of them. The third group picked their leader based on who could best do the job. Wouldn't you agree that the first two groups chose foolishly?

kaysch wrote:
And: would you vote for the Christian Heritage Party of Canada if you wanted the word „God“ to be removed from the Canadian constitution? If not, are you an idiot because you don’t?

Aaaand, once again you've flown off the rails into cluelessland here. What did i write? I wrote that voting for people based on what their religion or appearance is stupid and wrong. And somehow you leaped from that to "voting for people based on what they plan to do in power is stupid and wrong", and the only way you can even vaguely connect that to what i wrote is you made the people part of a political party that happens to have the name Christian in it. Not only is that not what i wrote, that doesn't even make any sense at all. So why bother saying it? It only makes you look crazy.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
So do you seriously believe that Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. were equally moral in their aims?

No. I am suggesting they were both equally convinced that their aims were justified by a universal morality – something you claim exists.

So what? They were both convinced they were right? Big deal. How can you not grasp that just because two people who disagree both think they're right, that doesn't mean they are both right? Ken Ham and Bill Nye disagree about the age of the Earth, and both are quite convinced they are right... do you think the Earth's age is not an objective fact? Of course not. You can figure that out for science, why not for morality?

kaysch wrote:
And in the case of Adolf Hitler (and the above-mentioned Spanish Inquisition) that lead to a lot of misery.

Yeah, you're really stretching to try to make a really idiotic point here.

What you're trying to imply is that i'm just like Hitler (and... the Spanish Inquisition?!?) because, like him, i insist that my views on morality are universal and right. For some bizarre reason, you think that's bad.

But what really makes your point look foolish is that Martin Luther King Jr. also believed his view on morality was universal and right. So did Gandhi. So did the people who founded the United Nations. So did everyone who has made the world a better place. And King was even mentioned; you just... completely ignored him, just so you could use Hitler to make an idiotic point.

Clearly merely believing that morality is universal does not make you as evil as Hitler. Nice try, though.

Hitler's failing wasn't believing that morality is universal. His failing was being irrational about what is moral and what is not. As i keep repeating - and you keep dodging:... HITLER.. WAS... WRONG. You keep agreeing with that... then pulling a complete 180 face turn and saying that he wasn't! Yes, you do. You do that every time you try to use the Nazis as evidence that morality is not universal.

When i say "morality is universal", and you say "no it's not because Hitler disagreed"... you are really saying that both me and Hitler are right about morality. Yes, that is what you are saying. Because if that is not what you are saying - if you are saying Hitler was wrong - then saying he disagreed is not an objection to universal morality.

So, hey, you want to say i'm like Hitler because i say morality is universal? Okay, fine. But at least i'm not like you who thinks Hitler was morally right. How about that, hm?

(And no, of course i don't really think you think Hitler was morally right. That's just what you are saying. I know, however, that that is not what you really believe, because - as i told you before - you don't really believe in relative morality. No one does. Most people think they do until they are forced to think serious and deep about it. But they really don't.)

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
if you have a rational reason why murder is wrong, your morals are not relative.

My views may be rational and firm, but other people may have contrasting ideas.

If your views are rational and others disagree with you, they are wrong. Period.

That is exactly the same as it is for mathematics. If your beliefs about mathematics are rational and others disagree with you, they are wrong.

kaysch wrote:
OK, here’s an example to illustrate where my doubt is:
I asked you to use respectful language when discussing with me.

And you have failed to show where i have not used "respectful language". All of the examples you have pointed out so far are either a) examples of me criticizing your ideas... not you; or b) examples of me calling out your bad behaviour, in which case you have no right to demand respect.

kaysch wrote:
I tried my best to be respectful with you.

Twisting people's words - and making up shit out of whole cloth then attributing it to them - to make their beliefs sound offensive is NOT being respectful.

Neither is comparing them to ****** Hitler. Or the Spanish Inquisition, for that matter. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

You see, i'm calling out your bullshit here. You're attempting to play the "poor me" persecution card, because i have been methodically and precisely cutting your arguments and beliefs to ribbons, and you can't think of any other way to get me to stop so you can protect your irrational beliefs while still saving face. Did you seriously think that just because i haven't been using the same tactic, and whining about how mean you're being to me, that means you haven't been "disrespectful"?

No, the reason i haven't been whining about your poor behaviour is because i have chosen to focus on your claims and arguments. You are trying to make this personal. I refuse to play that game.

kaysch wrote:
For the sake of the argument let’s assume that you do that although you follow categorical imperative as well. You simply don’t care much about being treated with respectful language.

The categorical imperative has nothing to do with "respectful language" - neither the way you define it, nor real rudeness. "Rude" is not "immoral". Keep trying.

kaysch wrote:
Now, we are both using categorical imperative to determine our behaviour. But the outcome is completely different, I am nice and you are rude. Now: what is the mutually (if not universally) applicable law of communication style between you and me? Rude or respectful?

Lying is absolutely in opposition to Kantianism. And you've done that repeatedly. So if i were to grant all of your assumptions, the real conclusion would be that you failed to be moral while i did not. That is why the outcome is different.

However, that is not the real conclusion, because your assumptions are wrong. As i said, 1) morality has nothing to do with "rudeness", it is not immoral to be rude; and 2) it is not "disrespectful" to criticize someone's ideas, especially when they've put them on the table for discussion - you just need to figure out the difference between criticizing a person's ideas and criticizing a person.

(I also don't buy into Kantianism, if you must know. I consider it much like Darwinism: it is the start of a good idea; it is not a good idea in and of itself.)
nam_siddharth
betfunder wrote:
I lie all the time, what's wrong with it?


If you lie all the time, people will not trust you even when you are not lying. If you are in some problem and ask help from someone telling about your problem, they will not trust you.
kaysch
First of all, thanks for significantly reducing the amount of flames; I have the impression that at least in the middle part of your post you made an effort to explain your views calmly although you disagree with basically everything I wrote. The rules you mentioned are interesting – avoid using the word “you” to reduce the risk of getting personal. Let’s try that, shall we? Maybe the discussion will be more pleasant for both of us.
Indi wrote:
What about "π is irrational"? Did you know that people argued for centuries... for millenia... about whether π is irrational?

No, I didn’t, but I just read about it a little, thanks. After trying hard for centuries several people managed to prove that π is irrational, thus settling a heated dispute. They found an objective and scientifically verifiable answer. Which is not surprising: in natural science that absolute truth may exist, I think we agree on this one. I also agree with the statement that truth is objective and that it does not depend on subjective views. Yet we differ on whether that is applicable to morality as well.
Indi wrote:
You know that math is not subjective.

I am not entirely sure. As I said I agree that logic/reason is objective, but isn’t mathematics more than that? If one takes a subjective assumption, then applies (objective) logic to come to a conclusion that conclusion still has a subjective element.
Indi wrote:
Every time you repeat that so-and-so - the Nazis, advertisers, society at large, whatever - disagrees with a moral conclusion, you're effectively stating nothing. Because who cares? I can line up lists and lists of people who disagree with science or math, too.

The difference is as follows: There may be an absolute truth in natural science. If there is, people who disagree with it are wrong. I agree with your point that it doesn’t matter how many people they are, they are still wrong. However (as in simple subjectivism) if there is no absolute truth in morality, nobody can be wrong in absolute terms, just relative to what other people (e.g. myself or the majority of a country) believe is morally right.
Indi wrote:
Morality, like mathematics, is also an exercise in pure reason. Let's try it out. Let's assume that "the death penalty is (morally) right". (…)So the statement "the death penalty is right" cannot be true, because it leads to logical absurdities.

I enjoyed reading your arguments about this, because personally I am strictly opposed to the death penalty as well. I agree with your points that in applying the death penalty there is a risk to execute an innocent person (which is unjustifiable according to my opinion) and that executing others is nothing but killing them (which is not logic, in line with your line of thought). On top of that, “an eye for an eye” is not a law that leads to much harmony in a society – which is what moral principles and consequently laws should be about. As a consequence of all that you will never see me advocating death penalty.
Indi wrote:
Now, at this point i'm sure you're itching to say: "But there are lots of people who think the death penalty is right!!!" No shit. But they're wrong. They can't be right. I'm not calling them wrong merely because i disagree with them, i'm calling them wrong because saying "the death penalty is right" leads to logical contradiction... just like saying π is rational.

The logic you applied when proving by contradiction that death penalty is wrong sounds fine to me. I will however try to challenge some of the implicit assumptions of that proof.
- What if we change the individualist maxim of “the highest value in a society is each individual’s human rights” to the collectivist maxim of “the highest value in a society is that it works well as a whole”?
- What if we change “everybody’s life values the same” to: “everybody is and behaves differently so they and their lives can and should be treated differently”?
- What if we adopt “God is supreme and so are his laws” as a maxim? Or as a variation: “Our wise and beloved leader and his dear family are supreme and so are their laws”?
- Here’s another one: What if logic is not the right methodology to determine whether death penalty is morally right or wrong? What if it is power? Or emotions? Or a combination of logic, emotions, communication and power?
I am sure that by changing the assumptions and the methodology one can come to the (undesirable) conclusion that death penalty is justifiable to the extent that applying it becomes a moral must.
Indi wrote:
"How far away" from being right is irrelevant. You're either there - you're right - or you're not.

According to German communications scientist Friedemann Schulz von Thun a message typically consists of 4 elements – a factual element, an element of appeal, an element of self-revelation and an element of relationship. Let’s imagine a tennis coach talking to his student and telling him “you are slightly wrong” vs. “you are utterly wrong”. The factual element and the element of relationship may in both cases be the same, the other elements differ. Fact: “the ball you hit went out of the field”. Relationship: “I am the coach and you are my student, so that’s why I make this comment.” Appeal: “Great, you’re almost there. Try again with a bit less force.” Vs. “Terrible. Try not to hold the tennis racket upside down.” Self-revelation: “I try to motivate you by being soft to you.” Vs. “I try to motivate you by being nasty to you.” Ignoring that a message contains more information than just the factual element means one runs the risk of misunderstanding or being misunderstood. That’s why I said: when talking to fellow human beings (and not to unemotional robots – i.e. without artificial intelligence or emotional programming) it’s good to remember that we are largely driven by emotions. It helps to bring a message across better and avoid misunderstandings.
Indi wrote:
Emotion - specifically empathy - is not necessary for morality.

Right, in a world where morality exists in absolute terms there is no need for emotions or even people at all, pure reason is enough. However in a world where morality is subjective and where people come to a common understanding of morality communication, emotions and intellect are crucial.
Indi wrote:
The bottom line, though, is that you've been caught.

Dammit. Wink
Indi wrote:
Yet here you are, still desperately arguing that morality can't be objective because people disagree about it... and still obviously wrong because people also disagree about science and math, and you accept those are objective.

I don’t understand where the contradiction is. People can and do disagree about science, math and morality. In the case of natural science that may mean they don’t accept an absolute truth. Alternatively it may mean that because of additional research the belief about the truth will change. I’ll skip maths. And in the case of morality, there is no problem because as there is no absolute morality they just disagree with one other, not with an absolute truth. If there was a universally valid morality it would not exist per se or fall down from heaven (at least that’s my belief as an atheist) but it would have to be generated by consent among people. In the case of slavery that largely worked (with a few Arabian countries being the exception), in many other cases it doesn’t work and I strongly doubt it ever will. People disagree on many issues, so even if they applied logic (which people most of the times don’t do) they will not be able to generate that universally valid morality. Or in the improbable case that it did fall down from heaven and I didn't hear the thud: they won't be able to discover it.
Disagreement on its own with something obviously does not determine truth or untruth, it just means people disagree. But of course in a case whereby consent is necessary to determine a common understanding of ethical principles disagreement does not help in generating those common views.
Indi wrote:
There is NOTHING subjective in mathematics. The "wild assumptions" you describe are hypotheses that are then subject to testing within the logical framework.

No. I am thinking about a starting point. How is that called in mathematic terminology? Definition, axiom, lemma? I’m not sure, but it’s not a hypotheses. A hypotheses can be verified, a starting point cannot. The starting point is questionable while the logic that then follows is not (unless somebody makes a mistake). Which makes the conclusion questionable as well because what’s the point of coming to a logical conclusion if the assumptions are wrong?
Indi wrote:
You're free to make any moral hypotheses that you like, but they are then subject to testing within the logical framework. You can't just say whatever you please is moral - some things are simply wrong, and they are proven wrong by showing how they fail logically.

Let’s change that sentence into active form and let’s look for the noun. Who should verify a moral hypotheses by using logic? Is it OK if imperfect people (because nobody is perfect) do that? So who are those people? Any of those people who put hopes into Barack Obama because of his skin colour? Creationists? Kim Jong-Un? The average Portuguese housewife? Richard Dawkins? What if any of those people with all their different mindsets and values came to the conclusion that a moral hypotheses is fine while some others came to the conclusion that it isn’t? In my mind what follows is that a universal morality is unlikely to be reached.
One answer to that question is of course: “It does not matter who does the reasoning. It is impossible to come to different conclusions provided everybody used reason.“ I don’t agree with that answer though. Reality shows people disagree basically over everything, and it’s not because they are all too stupid to apply reason but because their values and preferences are different and therefore their assumptions vary, hence they come to different conclusions.
Indi wrote:
Lying, for example, is proven to be immoral because if you assume it is moral, you get logical absurdities.

It’s the same about lying. There are studies that show that on average everybody lies 2,5 or more times a day, the number varies according to the study. There may be lots of reasons for which people do that, and some of them may be justifiable, even using logic.
Indi wrote:
Obviously liars like Goebbels and such will say what they did is moral, but it baffles me that you take them seriously. If a creationist said their research was scientific, would you believe them? Of course not. So why would believe that Goebbels was moral just because he said he was? That's just stupid.

How can I not take somebody seriously, especially if he truly thinks that his actions are moral? I can try to make sure he is tried for not behaving according to what I and hopefully the majority of people in charge believe is moral, see the Nuremberg process against the Nazi government. But the only people to decide whether the behaviour of person A is moral or not is a) person A himself and b) everybody else than A. It’s not a decision taken by God (because God doesn’t exist), reason/logic (because that’s just a methodology) or people that don’t care or don’t have any power to have a say.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
I never said it’s OK to lie.

Okay, that is a flat-out lie. You described several cases where you think it is okay to lie.

“I never said it’s OK to lie” means something different than “I said it’s never OK to lie”. The point is that there are exceptions to the rule.
Here’s what I mean: I regard trust, respect, politeness and non-violence highly when interacting with others. Lying potentially destroys all that so the rule is that I don’t like lying and that I will try to avoid it. However there may be cases in which all those goals cannot be met simultaneously.
Here’s an example to illustrate that point: When my grandmother was dying she asked my mom what was happening. My mom told her to be calm and that everything was fine. That was a lie but it helped my grandmother a lot to spend the remaining minutes of her life calmly and eventually she passed away peacefully. Knowing my grandmother I know she would have had a very difficult dying process if she had been aware of the truth. So although I felt uncomfortable I think my mom after all took the right decision and lied. I am different; I would like to know what happens when I die, but I am sure my grandmother would not have been able to cope with the truth.
The “quick fine in response” we talked about is another exception. If the person who asks is apparently under time pressure and does not really seem to want an honest answer why bother him with the truth? It’s a question of politeness not to.
Oh, and you accused me several times of lying while discussing this with you. I think I have defended myself each time arguing that I didn't lie, but let's see whether anything is open and I will try to explain the outstanding issues. I have no intention to lie when discussing this with you, so if you think I did there must be a valid explanation.
Indi wrote:
laws are NOT based on ethics at all. What is unethical about driving on the left-hand side of the road? What is unethical about walking around naked in public? What is unethical about growing your own weed and smoking it? Don't you think having an affair is unethical? Well then why are there no laws against cheating on your partner?

Not all laws may be based on ethics, but the examples we have been talking about so far are definitely based on ethical ideas. Most people believe it’s highly ethical to prevent road accidents, so there is a law that says: only drive on one side of the road. Walking around naked in town may affect other people’s sense of shame and it’s regarded as ethical not to hurt others, so in many countries that is sanctioned by the law. Drug consumption is considered to be harmful to others, so that's why trafficking and growing drugs is banned in many countries. Having an extramarital affair may psychologically, economically and socially harm the husband/wife, so in many countries there is a law against it. But the best example of laws being based on ethics is human rights which we talked about earlier on; I guess they are exclusively based on ethics.
Indi wrote:
Laws are supposed to be based on the restrictions that are necessary to make society work - no more, no less. Trying to legislate morality is always a terrible idea. (Which doesn't stop some people from trying, of course.) (…)The overlap you see between laws and morals is merely coincidental.

I don’t see the contradiction. “Don’t kill”, “don’t steal”, “don’t cheat others” etc. are all ethical principles on which many people agree so to enforce them they are coded in law. Trying to make a society work is a moral maxim. And it’s necessary to do that by way of law. The alternative to doing that would be to allow a state to fail. And I don’t regard anarchic states such as Somalia (except for Somaliland) or the Central African Republic as being places where morality is exactly regarded highly to say the least. So why is it coincidental if laws follow ethical principles?
Indi wrote:
It happens because morality is based on reason, and laws are (or should be) based on reason. They are two different branches of reason - one is reasoning about interactions between moral agents, the other is reasoning about managing an entire society - but some things are relevant to both.

I guess they are only different sides of the same coin as society is the sum of all its moral agents. Traffic and trade laws help people to act fairly and without endangering other people’s health. That is valid for 2 people entering into a commercial agreement or driving on the same road but in opposite directions, but it’s also valid for a society and its cars as a whole. And if there are laws against unfaithfulness they might not only help one family but also society as a whole as well: e.g. by putting less psychological stress onto children thus creating a happier next generation.
Indi wrote:
That bit about God in the preamble of the Canadian Constitution exists because we needed a constitution - we didn't have one at the time - but several major Christian groups were putting up roadblocks. They were going to block the Constitution if they didn't get their way. In order to appease them - to shut them up so we could actually get on with making our Constitution - we put that mention of God in the preamble. It was only done right near the end to prevent any more holdups, and no one really took it seriously - in fact the Prime Minister at the time famously said, "I don't think God gives a damn whether he's in the Constitution or not."

Hahaha, funny remark. I can vividly imagine the Christians’ reactions. Anyway, isn’t this a nice example of how different people who think their moral ideas are supreme (the supremacy of God vs. the supremacy of religious freedom) first clash but then come to a compromise? The compromise (preamble vs. section 2) shows that two contrasting ideas about what is morally supreme can exist in parallel in the same constitution, acknowledging that there is not just one universally valid ethical value. To me that sounds like moral relativism has been coded in the Canadian constitution, no matter which of those principles prevails in the daily interpretation of the constitution.
Indi wrote:
If you seriously believe there is no universal morality, then there can't be progress... because there's nothing to measure "progress" by.

Why not? I measure progress in ethical behaviour by my own standard. Don’t most people do the same?
Indi wrote:
Just imagine a race without a set course that applied to everyone running - how would you measure who was leading and who wasn't? You can't - the idea is meaningless without a universal standard to measure by.

Correct, it’s meaningless. There is no point in measuring others against no or a plurality of ethical standards.
Indi wrote:
Ignoring things relevant to your moral calculations just because you feel like it is extremely irrational.

Yes, and that is a rule which applies to everybody, not only to the Nazis. People are irrational to a certain extent and so their assumptions to moral calculations are necessarily irrational and incomplete. Even if they apply reason in the calculation the outcome will be as irrational and incomplete as the assumptions. That’s exactly why I believe it is impossible that mankind will ever come to a universally accepted morality which is able to guide everybody to behave morally throughout his lifetime.
Indi wrote:
Whut? You cherry-picked that sentence out of context, and interpreted in a ridiculous way. The bit you clipped off there shows that i'm talking about morality

OK, I got it. Your intention was that that the words “judge / punish” refer to “raping children”, not to “disagree / have moral dialogues” as I understood it. Fine, that sounds much better.
You know, when I read your definition of simple subjectivism I thought it sounds a lot like freedom of mind and tolerance towards other people’s moral beliefs and values. Develop your own ideas, don’t judge or punish others for their values, have a dialogue but don’t insist etc. I can’t see anything negative about all that as long as everybody stays within the framework of rules such as “don’t harm others”, “treat one other fairly” etc. So reading that simple subjectivism couldn’t be right struck me and I tried to understand why you think it can’t work as that would be my ideal. But I guess that what you wanted to say is that exactly that framework is missing in simple subjectivism, and therefore it would lead to something undesirable such as anarchy.
Indi wrote:
Imagine you had three groups who were about to go on a difficult and dangerous quest, and they each had to choose the leader who would guide them. One group picked a guy because he had the best hair. Another group picked a woman because she had the same religious beliefs as most of them. The third group picked their leader based on who could best do the job. Wouldn't you agree that the first two groups chose foolishly?

You are right, in that scenario group 3 is the only group that acts rationally because they try to find out who is the best leader while the other 2 groups don’t care.
But that is not a very realistic setup. In reality all 3 groups will try to find the best leader, relying on different bits of information and weighing them differently according to their hopes, experience and intentions. To separate group 3 from the others better, let’s say they rely on the candidates’ personal past and records in office as you suggested in your article. All groups will only know who the best leader was after the quest is complete. Studies suggest that looks play a big role in being accepted as a leader, so maybe the guy with the best hair has the most loyal group and eventually wins the quest. That’s not so far from reality, people like to vote for attractive candidates rather than unattractive ones.
What makes the whole process even more difficult is that voters have to base their decisions on incomplete and one-sided information and limited preparatory time. Under those circumstances it may be rational to rely on emotions rather than intellect, silly as it may seem.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
And: would you vote for the Christian Heritage Party of Canada if you wanted the word „God“ to be removed from the Canadian constitution? If not, are you an idiot because you don’t?

Aaaand, once again you've flown off the rails into cluelessland here. What did i write? I wrote that voting for people based on what their religion or appearance is stupid and wrong. And somehow you leaped from that to "voting for people based on what they plan to do in power is stupid and wrong", and the only way you can even vaguely connect that to what i wrote is you made the people part of a political party that happens to have the name Christian in it. Not only is that not what i wrote, that doesn't even make any sense at all. So why bother saying it? It only makes you look crazy.

I didn’t leap anywhere, so no need to get upset. I just asked two questions. And the implicit assumptions is of course that there is no time to go through all the electoral programmes.
Indi wrote:
What you're trying to imply is that i'm just like Hitler (and... the Spanish Inquisition?!?) because, like him, i insist that my views on morality are universal and right.

Calm down. I said King and Hitler were both equally convinced to be right and that Hitler’s ideals lead to a lot of misery. Yes, Hitler was wrong in my mind. Full stop. I didn’t say you were as evil as Hitler or as good as King. And I just happen to use the Nazis as an example for defining one’s own moral principles, but I could just as well use King or Gandhi or whoever else. I am not saying that morality is not universal just because Hitler disagreed but because everybody has their own version of it.
Indi wrote:
As i said, 1) morality has nothing to do with "rudeness", it is not immoral to be rude; and 2) it is not "disrespectful" to criticize someone's ideas, especially when they've put them on the table for discussion - you just need to figure out the difference between criticizing a person's ideas and criticizing a person.

That confirms the impression I have after having had this conversation so far. It is not immoral to be rude. Brilliant. Wink

Whatever, here’s my final remark for today: I think we have had quite an exhaustive exchange of ideas now, so slowly but surely I’d like to come to an end. And ideally I’d like to come to a common understanding although it seems difficult. I am inviting you cordially to come up with some suggestions.
LxGoodies
Having read the above, that seems improbable Anxious Your way of definition of "moral" differs. Difficult to find common grounds.

You are on two different worlds. Indi made his statement "lying is ALWAYS wrong" like an axioma, thruth that needs not to be prooved, a lie is inherently bad. For you, this seems to contradict your definition of moral statements, because in that definition, moral is an attribute of a culture, or even a person, or circumstance. Beliefs about morality can vary. Indi is talking about THE morality, that is a set of universal and eternal moral rules based on definition of terms. According to which, lying is wrong. By definition. It is assigned bad.

Indi wrote:
Since you believe that just because people have different beliefs about something, that must mean there is no one true objective truth, you must also believe that the shape of the Earth depends on what people think about it. After all, nobody has a monopoly on the shape of the Earth, right?

I get the impression, the proposal is that "a single true view" exists as an independent and invariable entity, aside multiple "views as perceived", which are each different, because it is subject to (personal, groupwise) beliefs in things.

How to aquire such true views on moral ? In math or geology, a result (definite immutable conclusion) could be achieved, but I wonder how such "real views" can be found on the topic of moral, without perception, personal background, interpretation or circumstance ? Would it not forever remain ("just another") theory or - in the case of moral - ideology ?
jajarvin
kaysch wrote:
I think I read somewhere that Hitler once said that if Germany will win the war nobody will ask questions anymore about how it started. In other words: people may get away with a lie if only they are powerful enough. Which is probably true in both cases. So is lying wrong? That depends on who can judge it.

"The Irak War"???
Where are the famous chemical arms??
????
and so on ??
?
deanhills
Although one should always tell the truth, I doubt one can be truthful all of the time as I don't think human beings are designed or have the capacity to be 100% truthful. Here and there you get a brilliant brain with the capacity to see facts with absolute clarity and able to hit on the truth here and there, but your average Joe is designed differently. Human beings are full of drama, secrets, intrigue, mischief, competitive, etc. all geared for survival of the fittest with lies being inseparable of the truth, the two are bed fellows and often mistaken for one another - Hitler's thinking being an excellent example. I'm dead certain he prided himself on speaking the truth.

Another thought that occurred was with Kaysch's example of his wife asking for feedback about her vital statistics. Isn't there a lie implicit in the question she asked? She knows the truth, or doubts the truth and is hoping for positive feedback (a lie) to make her feel good, probably even knowing the answer she will be getting. So that makes me wonder, how can one be truthful when the question is not true? Shouldn't one first test the question for the truth before one is able to answer the question truthfully? I'd respond the same as Kaysch though. A little bit of light relief now and then is always good for any relationship.
Indi
kaysch wrote:
First of all, thanks for significantly reducing the amount of flames; I have the impression that at least in the middle part of your post you made an effort to explain your views calmly although you disagree with basically everything I wrote.

I did nothing different in the last post i wrote that i hadn't done in previous posts. As i've already explained, the "flames" you think you saw before were only in your imagination. If you finally understand the difference between criticizing an idea and criticizing a person, that's good - but i can't take credit for your change.

As for giving my position - if you had asked me for my position earlier, you would have got it. You never did.

kaysch wrote:
After trying hard for centuries several people managed to prove that π is irrational, thus settling a heated dispute. They found an objective and scientifically verifiable answer.

No, they didn't. Your understanding of science is flawed. That's just not how it works.

There are two ways to generate knowledge rationally (and one way to generate it irrationally: faith). They are by observation, and by reason. These two mechanisms have nothing in common except that they both generate knowledge according to their own systematic rules. In addition to generating knowledge in very different ways, they both generate very different types of knowledge. It is actually impossible and meaningless to compare them, which is why philosophers end up either in one camp or another, empiricists or rationalists.

Science is based on observation. It rejects mere reason. Knowledge is created by a process of accruing observations and generalizing them into theory - which, if everything went well, will correctly predict future observations. If it didn't go well, the new observations are added to the set, and a new theory is generalized from them. And so on, and so forth. That's how scientific knowledge grows.

Mathematics is based on reason. Observation is useless in mathematics. Knowledge is created by a process of reasoning about the relations between sets and quantities. Assuming the logic was not fallacious, once a new theorem is proven, it can then be used as a building block toward proving other theorems. That's how mathematical knowledge grows.

They are not the same thing. They are not even remotely the same thing. You cannot prove a scientific theory by proving a mathematical theorem, and you cannot prove a mathematical theorem by applying a scientific theory. Even the way they conceive of knowledge is different - in science all knowledge is provisional, subject to falsification; in mathematics, all knowledge, once generated, is confirmed and eternal... 2 + 2 will never equal 5, no matter how long you wait for an exception. They complement each other quite well - advances in mathematics allow scientists to produce better theories, and there have been cases where advances in science provided clues to help mathematicians develop new theorems (for example, some string theory observations led mathematicians to new ways to solve multidimensional manifold transformations). But they are entirely different things, and they cannot advance each other directly - only by indirect inspiration.

Trying to lump them together, as you are doing, is wrong, and it leads to nonsense. For example, when you say that people found scientifically verifiable proof that π is irrational, you're talking gibberish. There is no possible way, ever, under any circumstances, that science can prove that π is irrational. It simply can't happen. Mathematics and science are two entirely different fields. You ask a scientist to prove (scientifically) that π is irrational, they'll look at you as if you're nuts. Knowledge in one cannot be used to create knowledge in the other - at most all it can do is be used as a tool to aid the mechanism of the other - nothing more, nothing less.

But don't take my word for it. Try it yourself. Prove, scientifically, that there are no even prime numbers greater than 2. Go ahead. Give it a shot.

Mind you, if you do, you'll be stuck for the rest of eternity doing it. It's basically the old Spock trick of telling the computer to compute π to the last digit. If you try to apply the scientific method to prove that all prime numbers greater than 2 are odd, you will never, ever, find an answer.

Why not? Because science is based on on observation. In order to prove that all prime numbers greater than 2 are odd... you would have to observe all prime numbers greater than 2. And there are infinitely many of them. The best science can do is generate an inductive scientific theory, which is that all primes greater than 2 are odd unless and until we find one that isn't.

But mathematics is a completely different kind of knowledge. It is based on reason. You can prove that all prime numbers greater than 2 are odd, quite easily in fact. The definition of "even" is "divisible by 2". The definition of "prime" is "divisible only by itself and 1". So the only way you can have an even prime number is if "itself" and "2" are the same thing... which is only true for the number 2. All other even numbers cannot be prime, because they would be at least divisible by "itself", "2", and "1".

That knowledge is nothing like scientific knowledge. That knowledge is confirmed and eternal. Unlike scientific knowledge, it is not provisional, and there is no chance that it will ever be falsified.

Philosophy, of course, encompasses both types of knowledge - philosophy is the parent of both science and mathematics; science and mathematics are really just limited branches of philosophy.

Morality is more like mathematics than science. Moral knowledge is like mathematical knowledge in that there is nothing you can observe that will tell you what's right or wrong. You can watch millions of people killing millions of other people, for centuries, and you will never be able to figure out from that whether murder is right or wrong - you'll see some cases where it works out quite well (because sometimes doing the wrong thing does not end in punishment, but rather reward), and others where it works out quite horribly (because sometimes doing the right thing ends badly).

Now, recall that there are only two possible ways to generate knowledge (not counting faith, which is irrational): observation and reason. We've just ruled out observation. So unless morality is irrational, that leaves only one possibility: morality must be a product of reason. Just like mathematics. And if that is true, then moral knowledge must be like all knowledge generated by reason: assuming it is not fallacious, it must be confirmed and eternal. And, obviously, objective. QED.

So, what is your objection to that? If moral knowledge is not reason-based knowledge, like math, then it is either:
  1. observation-based knowledge, like science (meaning there is some kind of observation or measurement we can make that will tell us what is moral and what is not); or
  2. irrational (meaning morals are nonsense - literally things that make no sense).


kaysch wrote:
As I said I agree that logic/reason is objective, but isn’t mathematics more than that? If one takes a subjective assumption, then applies (objective) logic to come to a conclusion that conclusion still has a subjective element.

You have to clarify your terms. When you speak in vagaries, you can't even make sense of what you're saying yourself... so naturally i can't make sense of it, making it all just gibberish to me.

What... exactly... do you mean by a "subjective assumption"? What exactly does that mean? What do you think you mean when you say it? Figure that out, because i can't figure it out for you. "Subjective assumption" sounds like gibberish to me - grammatically correct but ultimately meaningless because the adjective just can't apply to the noun in a meaningful way. Assumptions can't be subjective or objective. Only facts (and by extension, knowledge) can be subjective or objective. What does it even mean for an assumption to be subjective or objective? It's just like saying you have a "purple idea" - they're real words, and they have meaning by themselves, but they make no sense when you put them together.

kaysch wrote:
I agree with your points that in applying the death penalty there is a risk to execute an innocent person (which is unjustifiable according to my opinion) and that executing others is nothing but killing them (which is not logic, in line with your line of thought). On top of that, “an eye for an eye” is not a law that leads to much harmony in a society – which is what moral principles and consequently laws should be about. As a consequence of all that you will never see me advocating death penalty.

See, what you're doing here is directly contradicting your own stated beliefs.

You declare that the reason you oppose the death penalty is because it is unreasonable. But if that's true, then how is it not unreasonable for anyone who considers whether it is reasonable or not? If your logic is not fallacious, EVERYONE will get the same result... regardless of culture, time period, whatever.

Ignoring the bit about the risk of executing an innocent person being too great (because risk assessments are subjective), everything else you describe is completely objective reasoning. Lex talonis just makes no sense - that's not a matter of opinion, that's a matter of fact. Anyone who thinks about "an eye for an eye" will realize the same thing. If there were a moral fact based on it (like "the death penalty is moral"), that moral fact would be nonsensical.

So one of two things is true:
  1. You really do believe the death penalty is wrong for the objective reasons you gave. But that means that anyone who thinks about it hard enough will come to the same conclusion. That is, if you believe the death penalty is wrong for rational, objective reasons - and assuming your reasoning isn't fallacious - everyone who thinks rationally and objectively will come to the same conclusion. That means morality must be objective, and universal.
  2. You don't really believe the reasons you gave. You just... feel... that the death penalty is wrong. Logic doesn't matter, just your emotional, gut feeling. That would mean morality is subjective... but it would also mean that all those reasons you just gave were a lie.
That's basically the ultimate problem with moral relativism. If it's true, then you CANNOT have rational reasons for holding a moral belief. If you do, then your moral belief simply isn't subjective - other people can consider those reasons, and observe whether they are rational or not. If your beliefs really are subjective, then they cannot be rational... they have to be irrational.

But nobody... not even you, as you've just shown... really thinks their moral beliefs are irrational. Nobody really believes in moral relativism, no matter what they say.

It seems that when i say "moral relativism makes no sense" (or "your beliefs make no sense", and so on), you seem to be interpreting that as me merely saying "i disagree with it". But i'm not... i'm being quite literal. When i say "moral relativism makes no sense", i mean that it literally does not make a lick of sense... it is fundamentally and intrinsically irrational. It basically says "x is y" and "x is not y" at the same time. It makes... no... sense.

kaysch wrote:
- What if we change the individualist maxim of “the highest value in a society is each individual’s human rights” to the collectivist maxim of “the highest value in a society is that it works well as a whole”?
- What if we change “everybody’s life values the same” to: “everybody is and behaves differently so they and their lives can and should be treated differently”?
- What if we adopt “God is supreme and so are his laws” as a maxim? Or as a variation: “Our wise and beloved leader and his dear family are supreme and so are their laws”?

It seems like you've taken Kantianism to heart. But you can't simply apply random maxims. The point of Kantianism is to apply a maxim and then TEST if it leads to logical contradictions. That means that only certain maxims which are applicable. It also means that you can never have two applicable maxims that contradict each other. And, it also means that once you have found one applicable maxim that leads to a conclusion, that conclusion will never be contradicted (because you can never apply a contradictory maxim).

The one thing about Kantianism to watch out for is that it applies only to intentions, not actions. So for the same action, you can get very different moral results, depending on the intention behind the action. But that's not peculiar: cutting a pregnant woman's stomach open and pulling the baby out is immoral if your intention for doing it is to punish the woman, but not immoral if you're doing a Caesarean section with the intention to save the baby and/or mother.

So you can't say "Kantianism says the death penalty is (im)moral"... that's just gibberish, because "death penalty" is not an intention. You have to rephrase it in terms of some intention, like: "Kantianism says killing people under the intention of punishing them for a crime is (im)moral". Once you do that you will get consistent answers.

But the bottom line is that maxims can NEVER contradict - all maxims must be reconcilable. And, all maxims will be reconcilable with the categorical imperative.

So in each of those cases, the question becomes: which - if either - of those maxims is universalizable? If the two maxims contradict, one or both must be wrong. You can work out your own examples on your own time.

kaysch wrote:
- Here’s another one: What if logic is not the right methodology to determine whether death penalty is morally right or wrong? What if it is power? Or emotions? Or a combination of logic, emotions, communication and power?

Then morals would be irrational. They would no longer make sense. It would no longer be meaningful to say "you can't do this because it is wrong"... saying that would be as meaningful as saying "you can'd do this because butterflies cheesecake washing machine".

And no, it's not still logical if you "combine" logic and anything else. If you're using logic, you're using logic. Period. If you use ANYTHING else in your "logical" argument... even for just a single clause... it's no longer a logical argument. (That, by the way, is the game played by - for example - theological "philosophers". They try to use "logical" arguments... but one single premiss is a religious one... and that just ruins the whole argument. Debunking them is simply a matter of finding the line in their argument where they slipped faith in.)

kaysch wrote:
I am sure that by changing the assumptions and the methodology one can come to the (undesirable) conclusion that death penalty is justifiable to the extent that applying it becomes a moral must.

That would be nonsense. If you come to a logical conclusion, you cannot... ever... come to a contradictory logic conclusion. That's just totally impossible. Logic just doesn't work that way. The "law of non-contradiction" is one of the three fundamental laws of reason - we can't even have a discussion without that law.

So if two people have come to contradictory "logical" conclusions, at least one - if not both - is wrong. If they compare their reasoning, they (or any third party) will see which.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
"How far away" from being right is irrelevant. You're either there - you're right - or you're not.

According to German communications scientist Friedemann Schulz von Thun a message typically consists of 4 elements – a factual element, an element of appeal, an element of self-revelation and an element of relationship. Let’s imagine a tennis coach talking to his student and telling him “you are slightly wrong” vs. “you are utterly wrong”. The factual element and the element of relationship may in both cases be the same, the other elements differ. Fact: “the ball you hit went out of the field”. Relationship: “I am the coach and you are my student, so that’s why I make this comment.” Appeal: “Great, you’re almost there. Try again with a bit less force.” Vs. “Terrible. Try not to hold the tennis racket upside down.” Self-revelation: “I try to motivate you by being soft to you.” Vs. “I try to motivate you by being nasty to you.” Ignoring that a message contains more information than just the factual element means one runs the risk of misunderstanding or being misunderstood. That’s why I said: when talking to fellow human beings (and not to unemotional robots – i.e. without artificial intelligence or emotional programming) it’s good to remember that we are largely driven by emotions. It helps to bring a message across better and avoid misunderstandings.

This is not an issue of communication, it is an issue of fact. A statement is either true or false (by definition). If the statement is true, it is true... adding unnecessary qualifiers is unnecessary. (Obviously.)

For example: "Joe is dead" is a fact. You're not helping anything or anyone by saying, "Joe is a little bit dead", "Joe is extremely dead", or "Joe is mostly dead". Either Joe really is dead and the statement is true, or Joe isn't dead and the statement is false. "How dead" Joe is means nothing.

kaysch wrote:
Right, in a world where morality exists in absolute terms there is no need for emotions or even people at all, pure reason is enough. However in a world where morality is subjective and where people come to a common understanding of morality communication, emotions and intellect are crucial.

There is no world where morality is subjective. Such a world wouldn't make sense, so no amount of intellect would help you find sense in it (because there is none to find). Your statement is gibberish.

You can't make reasonable statements about an unreasonable world.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
Yet here you are, still desperately arguing that morality can't be objective because people disagree about it... and still obviously wrong because people also disagree about science and math, and you accept those are objective.

I don’t understand where the contradiction is.

The contradiction is blatant.

This is your argument, in simple point form:
  1. People disagree about X.
  2. Therefore X is subjective.
Replace X with "morality" and that is the argument you have been repeating in different forms over and over and over.

But replace X with science or mathematics... and you change the argument:
  1. People disagree about X.
  2. However X is not subjective.
You use both of these arguments at the same time - the first for morality, the second for science and mathematics - even though the two arguments directly contradict each other.

One of them must be wrong. And it's clearly the first, because a) the conclusion does not follow from the premiss; and b) you are aware of counterexamples that disprove it.

Yet you still keep repeating the first argument. Pretty much everything you've said is argument 1, in one form or another.

If you want to save that argument, you would need to do something like this:
  1. People disagree about X.
  2. <insert something here that links disagreement with subjectivity>
  3. Therefore X is subjective.
But of course, whatever you insert there has to be true for morality, but not true for science or mathematics, and actually relevant in linking agreement/disagreement of opinion with objectivity/subjectivity of fact. (Which, of course, no such thing exists... but keep trying!)

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
There is NOTHING subjective in mathematics. The "wild assumptions" you describe are hypotheses that are then subject to testing within the logical framework.

No. I am thinking about a starting point. How is that called in mathematic terminology? Definition, axiom, lemma? I’m not sure, but it’s not a hypotheses. A hypotheses can be verified, a starting point cannot. The starting point is questionable while the logic that then follows is not (unless somebody makes a mistake). Which makes the conclusion questionable as well because what’s the point of coming to a logical conclusion if the assumptions are wrong?

Again, you're using a term that i don't think you even understand yourself, and doesn't actually seem to have any meaning in reality. So of course, i just see gibberish. What... exactly... is a "starting point" in this context? In mathematics, the starting point is always a hypothesis. So if you're talking about a "starting point" that isn't a hypothesis... what... exactly... are you talking about?

It ain't a lemma, that's for certain. A lemma is a proven proposition - it has to be objective; it's the opposite of an assumption - theorems are lemmas (and vice versa). It also ain't an axiom - while axioms cannot be proven, they also can't be subjective - if your axiom contradicts with other axioms, you have to throw it out, and your axioms must agree with the axioms used by others; axioms are not opinions. As for "definition", that word has many different meanings in mathematics, but none of them are subjective (unsurprisingly).

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
You're free to make any moral hypotheses that you like, but they are then subject to testing within the logical framework. You can't just say whatever you please is moral - some things are simply wrong, and they are proven wrong by showing how they fail logically.

Let’s change that sentence into active form and let’s look for the noun. Who should verify a moral hypotheses by using logic?

Moral agents. Specifically, the moral agents who are considering whether what they are about to do is moral or not.

Other moral agents are free to think about it, but you said "should", not "can". Any moral agent can verify a moral conclusion... the moral agent(s) about to make a choice based on that conclusion should (either at the time or in advance).

kaysch wrote:
Is it OK if imperfect people (because nobody is perfect) do that?

Perfection is irrelevant, and unnecessary - it is a straw man you have invented. Should only perfect people do math? No? Then why should only perfect people do ethics?

All that is required is that you apply reason to the best of your abilities, using the best information you have.

The fact that people are imperfect only means that sometimes they will come to the wrong conclusion. Which, shock of shocks, happens, as i've been repeating over and over.

But so what? People are also often wrong about science or math, too. And in all cases they often make poor decisions based on those mistakes. Sometimes that ends in disaster, sometimes they're lucky and get away with the mistake. But either way, others can notice their mistake (maybe not right away, but eventually), and correct them - and once a mistake has been noticed, and the correct answer recorded in the body of knowledge, that mistake shouldn't happen again (except to ignorant people - and of course, there are always people who deliberately ignore scientific/mathematical/moral knowledge and go their own way, but those people are stupid and evil).

kaysch wrote:
One answer to that question is of course: “It does not matter who does the reasoning. It is impossible to come to different conclusions provided everybody used reason.“ I don’t agree with that answer though. Reality shows people disagree basically over everything, and it’s not because they are all too stupid to apply reason but because their values and preferences are different and therefore their assumptions vary, hence they come to different conclusions.

Again, you're repeating THE SAME DAMN THING you've been repeating over and over and over and over. Once again "people disagree, therefore there is no universal truth". Once again, that's still wrong. And you know it.

If their "values and preferences and assumptions" are rational, then those "values and preferences and assumptions" are rational. Obviously - that's a tautology. So if their "values and preferences and assumptions" are rational, anyone who is rational will agree with them. If their "values and preferences and assumptions" are not rational, then their moral conclusions are then irrational... as in, they make no sense.

Rational... things... cannot... contradict. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. That is one of the fundamental rules of being rational. So if the "values and preferences and assumptions" of two people contradict, one or both is not rational. If you use irrational things in a "rational" argument... it is not a rational argument. If your "values and preferences and assumptions" are rational, then you will get a rational conclusion... which will never contradict any other rational conclusion.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
Obviously liars like Goebbels and such will say what they did is moral, but it baffles me that you take them seriously. If a creationist said their research was scientific, would you believe them? Of course not. So why would believe that Goebbels was moral just because he said he was? That's just stupid.

How can I not take somebody seriously, especially if he truly thinks that his actions are moral?

Uhh, you just do it.

There's no magic trick to "recognizing someone is wrong then ignoring their conclusion". It's not really that hard.

How do you manage to not take young-Earth creationists seriously even though they truly believe their nonsense? Whatever technique you use there, you can use here.

kaysch wrote:
I can try to make sure he is tried for not behaving according to what I and hopefully the majority of people in charge believe is moral, see the Nuremberg process against the Nazi government. But the only people to decide whether the behaviour of person A is moral or not is a) person A himself and b) everybody else than A. It’s not a decision taken by God (because God doesn’t exist), reason/logic (because that’s just a methodology) or people that don’t care or don’t have any power to have a say.

This is all complete gibberish. I can't even make heads nor tails of it.

Anyone can determine whether someone else's actions are moral or immoral. Geez, you have done it a dozen times in this thread - you have determined that Hitler's actions were immoral... you say so in your reply right above!

What "power" do you need to figure out that a rapist is wrong to rape and a murderer is wrong to murder? Ya know, other than the "power" of your brain.

As near as i can guess, you are somehow conflating "judging" the morality of someone's action with actually being a literal judge who applies some official, authoritative ruling then metes out a punishment. Or at least, that's what it kinda looks like, but it's hard to tell because the logic is all gibberish. Do you not understand the difference between judging someone's behaviour moral/immoral and... ya know... literally being a judge?

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
I never said it’s OK to lie.

Okay, that is a flat-out lie. You described several cases where you think it is okay to lie.

“I never said it’s OK to lie” means something different than “I said it’s never OK to lie”. The point is that there are exceptions to the rule.

"There are exceptions to the rule {not to lie}" means you believe that it is okay to lie. That you've restricted it to certain situations... "exceptions", as you call them... is irrelevant. The bottom line is that you do believe that someone can lie, and that's okay. You just don't believe they can lie all the time, but then i never said you believed that.

How can you seriously, with a straight face, list cases where lying is okay (while calling me insensitive because i said it's not okay to lie in those cases)... then say you never said it's okay to lie?

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
laws are NOT based on ethics at all. What is unethical about driving on the left-hand side of the road? What is unethical about walking around naked in public? What is unethical about growing your own weed and smoking it? Don't you think having an affair is unethical? Well then why are there no laws against cheating on your partner?

Not all laws may be based on ethics, but the examples we have been talking about so far are definitely based on ethical ideas. Most people believe it’s highly ethical to prevent road accidents, so there is a law that says: only drive on one side of the road. Walking around naked in town may affect other people’s sense of shame and it’s regarded as ethical not to hurt others, so in many countries that is sanctioned by the law. Drug consumption is considered to be harmful to others, so that's why trafficking and growing drugs is banned in many countries. Having an extramarital affair may psychologically, economically and socially harm the husband/wife, so in many countries there is a law against it. But the best example of laws being based on ethics is human rights which we talked about earlier on; I guess they are exclusively based on ethics.

What follows here is a series of rather strained attempts to weasel out the conclusion that laws are based on subjective ethics - or ethics at all - when they are clearly not. First you're trying to weasel out that "preventing accidents" is ethical, when the question was about driving on the LEFT side of the road... why is "left" more (un)ethical than "right"? Clearly they just made a random choice not based on ethics. (Unless you seriously want to argue that left or right is more moral?) Next you invent the idea that "shame harms"... but never explain why that should make nudity illegal but not wearing scanty clothes (or even wearing a full body suit that is printed in way that looks just like the naked body), or why some people's shame matters but not others. Next you sneakily change my question about weed into "drugs", never explaining why weed is illegal, but alcohol and coffee aren't. And finally, you invent the obviously false claim that "many countries" (and note, i said nothing about marriage) make affairs illegal.

Here's the thing: even if i take your attempts seriously, how can i take you seriously as you attempt to argue universal reasons for why these laws are ethical... in order to prove that ethics are subjective? Don't you see how you are completely torpedoing your whole case?

But the icing on the cake is that you conclude that human rights laws are based on ethics... which is true (and the reason why human rights are universal, and so much more important than traffic or drug laws)... but human rights laws are UNIVERSAL. They make no sense with relative ethics. So human rights laws, far from demonstrating that laws are based on the subjective ethics of the culture, prove the exact opposite: while not all laws are based on ethics, those that are are based on universal ethics... not culturally subjective ethics. There is NO culture that makes a law based on some culturally specific ethic that then turns around and says "oh, but this only applies to members of the culture." They ALL insist their ethics are universal, to be followed by everyone. (But of course, not all are right about their ethical conclusions. Most countries have at least a few laws that are irrational.)

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
Laws are supposed to be based on the restrictions that are necessary to make society work - no more, no less. Trying to legislate morality is always a terrible idea. (Which doesn't stop some people from trying, of course.) (…)The overlap you see between laws and morals is merely coincidental.

I don’t see the contradiction.

I didn't say there was a contradiction. In fact, i explicitly said the opposite.

kaysch wrote:
Trying to make a society work is a moral maxim.

Prove it.

Seriously, prove it. That's how Kantianism actually works. If you want to play that game, then play it. You don't simply assert random maxims in Kantianism, you hypothesize a maxim then TEST it to see if it can be universal. Only if it passes that test is it actually a valid maxim.

And of course, any valid maxim will be in agreement with the categorical imperative... NO valid maxim can contradict. Just can't happen. If you think your maxim contradicts with either the categorical imperative or another valid maxim... you're wrong. You have to be. It's just a matter of figuring out precisely how you're wrong... but there would be no doubt that you're wrong. Valid maxims cannot contradict.

So go ahead. Prove your maxim. Don't just assert it and expect it to be taken seriously. Prove it.

kaysch wrote:
And I don’t regard anarchic states such as Somalia (except for Somaliland) or the Central African Republic as being places where morality is exactly regarded highly to say the least.

Neither of those states are anarchies. Both of them have a government and a full system of law. In fact, the genocide in CAR is being carried out by the government. Legally.

You are only confusing yourself by trying to use such messy and complicated situations as examples. Either that, or you just don't understand what an anarchy really is.

If you want to find a real society that is a real anarchy, a good example would be hippy communes. They are anarchies - by design (because they usually reject any form of systemic control) - but i would hardly call them bastions of immorality. They're actually usually pretty peaceful and nice places.

kaysch wrote:
So why is it coincidental if laws follow ethical principles?

Because you don't need to make laws based on ethical principles. You only need to make laws for one purpose and one purpose only: to facilitate a functioning state.

You don't need to make a "don't steal" law, for example. If your state has no private ownership of property, it would be pointless. You wouldn't need to make a "don't murder" law if your state happened to be made up of invincible people, or a "don't rape" law if your society was made up of sexless androids. Stealing, killing, and raping would still be immoral, of course... the ethical rules against stealing, killing, and raping wouldn't vanish just because your state doesn't need to legislate them to function.

You can't make a law that contradicts ethics, of course. Since ethics are rational, if you did that would mean - logically - your law would be irrational. Irrational laws are, at best, useless and harmless... at worst, they are catastrophic - they will destroy your state. So you cannot make a law that contradicts ethics. But that doesn't mean you have to use ethics as the source for your laws.

And you really shouldn't. Every law you create for a state is costly - enforcement is not free in the real world. So you shouldn't create a law just because something is unethical. Again, you should only create laws for one purpose and one purpose only: to facilitate a functioning state.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
That bit about God in the preamble of the Canadian Constitution exists because we needed a constitution - we didn't have one at the time - but several major Christian groups were putting up roadblocks. They were going to block the Constitution if they didn't get their way. In order to appease them - to shut them up so we could actually get on with making our Constitution - we put that mention of God in the preamble. It was only done right near the end to prevent any more holdups, and no one really took it seriously - in fact the Prime Minister at the time famously said, "I don't think God gives a damn whether he's in the Constitution or not."

Hahaha, funny remark. I can vividly imagine the Christians’ reactions. Anyway, isn’t this a nice example of how different people who think their moral ideas are supreme (the supremacy of God vs. the supremacy of religious freedom) first clash but then come to a compromise? The compromise (preamble vs. section 2) shows that two contrasting ideas about what is morally supreme can exist in parallel in the same constitution, acknowledging that there is not just one universally valid ethical value.

What? No! Are you freaking kidding me? This is DEFINITELY not a "nice example of how different people who think their moral ideas are supreme first clash but then come to a compromise"! This is an example of a small group who had undeserved power holding an entire nation hostage to get their way. And, ultimately, damaging the constitution in the process - we now have a foundational document that is self-contradictory, and even though the preamble is not supposed to have legal force, Christian judges have used it to pass rulings that contradict the real law. It's a bloody mess that we have been fighting for decades to clean up (but can't because modifying the Charter would require everyone - all the federal ministers and all the provinces - to sign on, and it just takes one Christian ****** to stop the whole process).

How can you possibly look at an example of one small group holding the entire open process hostage until they get their way and say that's compromise? Or... is that really what you think compromise is? Forget the greater good, just dig in and be an ****** until you get your way? Is that what you're doing here?

kaysch wrote:
To me that sounds like moral relativism has been coded in the Canadian constitution, no matter which of those principles prevails in the daily interpretation of the constitution.

No, moral relativism has not been written into the Canadian Constitution. That's absurd. The "supremacy of God" bullshit isn't conditional or subjective... it is meant to apply absolutely, to have universal reach. That's why the Christian bloc wanted it put in so badly... to force their beliefs on everyone universally. And they created a mess, because that crap in the preamble contradicts with the rest of the universal reach in the document.

I mean, it's obviously wrong, because Canada was not founded on "principles that recognize the supremacy of God", whether you consider it's original founding or its 1982 re-founding. It was actually founded on principles of cooperation between different peoples: originally English protestants, French Catholics, and aboriginal tribes. Even if you want to make the weak argument that the English and French agreed on making the new nation subservient to God, i can plumb guarantee the aboriginals didn't.

You can try as hard as you like to wring some sort of argument about the preamble's existence, but it will only end up as nonsense. The bottom line is that the preamble is an artifact of one group's undeserved power, and their childish insistence on forcing everyone to acknowledge their beliefs universally (note, no relativism there). It is a shit stain on an otherwise remarkable document that has inspired several other important pieces of international legislation since (notably they all ignore the preamble). It does not represent any kind of common will. It certainly doesn't imply any kind of moral relativism (i can't even imagine how that would even make sense). It represents the stupidity and selfishness of a small group and the fact that they had so much power that they had to be appeased - to have their petty little egos stroked - in order for people actually interested in accomplishing something greater to succeed.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
If you seriously believe there is no universal morality, then there can't be progress... because there's nothing to measure "progress" by.

Why not? I measure progress in ethical behaviour by my own standard. Don’t most people do the same?

That would be as ridiculous as every runner in the race measuring their lead by their own opinion, while they run off in their own directions with no universally-agreed upon course. Who's progressed further than anyone else, in that race?

Answer: the question is meaningless. So if you're talking about moral progress, you have abandoned moral relativism.

Put another way: once again imagine that race with no universally agreed upon course, where all the runners are running off in different directions according to their own whims. If one of those runners looked at you and said, "looks like i'm making great progress!", what would you think? Would you not think that runner was insane? (Actually, that would literally be a sign of insanity, if the runner was serious. Like, literally. That is a delusional fixation.)

kaysch wrote:
You know, when I read your definition of simple subjectivism I thought it sounds a lot like freedom of mind and tolerance towards other people’s moral beliefs and values.

And you were wrong.

Facts are facts. Telling people when they have facts wrong, and insisting that they accept the facts, is not a violation of anyone's freedom. Nor is it intolerant to insist that someone accept a fact. You have the freedom to your own opinions; you do not have the freedom to your own facts. If someone believes that setting random people on the street on fire is healthy for them, it is not "intolerant" or "a violation of their freedom" to tell them they're wrong.

Simple subjectivism is wrong because (among other reasons), you don't get to have your own moral facts. It is not "intolerant" or a "violation of someone's freedom" to tell them so.

You are trying to warp a discussion of facts into a discussion of opinions, and i won't have it. Worst of all, you are trying to warp it into a discussion on opinion only when it is convenient for you. The rest of the time, you're talking about morals being universal - for example, when you say "it is okay to lie sometimes, for speedier conversations", you are saying that's true for everyone... in fact, you even insulted me for refusing to agree. So where was your "tolerance towards other people’s moral beliefs and values" there?

kaysch wrote:
I can’t see anything negative about all that as long as everybody stays within the framework of rules such as “don’t harm others”, “treat one other fairly” etc.

So... you want a subjective moral framework... that has universal rules?

And you think that makes sense?

kaysch wrote:
What makes the whole process even more difficult is that voters have to base their decisions on incomplete and one-sided information and limited preparatory time. Under those circumstances it may be rational to rely on emotions rather than intellect, silly as it may seem.

It's not "silly", it's wrong.

If you ever... EVER... rely on emotions rather than reason, you are acting immorally. Every time. No excuses.

The only time it is okay to use emotion to make a decision is when you CAN'T make a decision rationally. For example, if you're on a boat and see two people drowning, but you only have time to save one - and there's an equal chance of saving either, so there's no rational reason to pick one over the other - there is nothing immoral about choosing to save the person you love. But then, under those circumstances, you would be equally justified in just flipping a coin.

There is nothing "wrong" or strange about being forced to make a decision with incomplete knowledge (or in too short a time to carefully reason about it). That's a fact of not being omniscient beings. But the fact that we don't have perfect and complete knowledge does NOT mean we can't make rational decisions. All we have to do is use all the information we have. If there is some important information we're missing that changes things, oh well, too bad: we'll make the wrong conclusion. But again, so what? As i keep repeating over and over and over and over and over and over, the fact that people are sometimes wrong about something does not mean that thing is not universal and objective.

If someone properly used all the knowledge they had, and all the power of reason they were able to apply, but ended up with a wrong answer - either because they were missing key information, or made a mistake in their reasoning - then the logical thing to do is a) forgive them, because they did the best they could under the circumstances; b) work with them to try to repair whatever damage they caused; c) educate them, so they learn why they were wrong, so they won't make the same mistake again; and d) add the lesson to the body of ethical knowledge, to prevent future people from making the same mistake. Those people did something immoral, but only by accident because they are imperfect beings. They should be forgiven and helped, so they become better people in the future.

Of course... if someone wilfully ignored information, or consciously chose not to use proper reasoning... they don't deserve forgiveness. (That doesn't mean you can't give it, just that they don't reasonably deserve it.) Those people have behaved immorally, with no excuses. They should be prevented from causing further harm.

kaysch wrote:
Whatever, here’s my final remark for today: I think we have had quite an exhaustive exchange of ideas now, so slowly but surely I’d like to come to an end. And ideally I’d like to come to a common understanding although it seems difficult. I am inviting you cordially to come up with some suggestions.

Riiiight.

First, let's strip away your pretence at diplomacy and faux "respectfulness" and get down to what you're really saying. You're saying that unless i make compromises on my position, i am being "difficult" - that i'm not really interested in a respectful exchange of ideas between equals where both walk away having gained something unless i give up some ground. You're trying to imply that i'm being dogmatic, while you're being the reasonable one, and we can't possibly have peace until i relent.

Here's the thing, though. I have studied this topic for close to 15 years now. It was my topic of choice when i got my philosophy minor. I have written papers on it, discussed it with professional philosophers, contributed to blogs about it, and a couple people have even suggested i write an ebook about it.

You, meanwhile, pretty must just walked in off the street yesterday. I exaggerate only slightly - it's actually a couple of weeks. You had no idea what moral relativism even was when we started, but now you insist that it's right even in defiance of the vast philosophical consensus.

So you tell me: What do you think the reasonable solution in this case is? What do you think a "compromise" would look like in this case?

Since you pretend to be so "respectful" - the point where you can lecture me about being "respectful" - i have a conundrum for you. In the following story who is being "respectful"?

Imagine a professor who has studied a topic for a decade, and for years has been talking about it with others and teaching beginners about it. One day, a stranger walks into the professor's office off the street - a guy who has absolutely no background in the topic, or even the most basic knowledge about it. That stranger starts making claims that are quite obviously wrong, to anyone familiar with the field, as the professor is. So, naturally, the professor points out that the stranger is wrong, and points them to where they can learn about the truth, just as the professor has done a hundred times before.

But the stranger does not thank the professor for the lesson. Instead, the stranger starts to argue... to argue the topic he really has no clue about with the experienced professor. No problem, of course - the professor has had plenty of people challenge him, and relishes it, because it helps solidify and clarify his own knowledge of the topic. He immediately recognizes the stranger's mistakes - they are quite common, and he's seen them a hundred times - so he clearly and vividly explains why the stranger's beliefs are wrong.

But then it gets weird. Because the stranger starts suggesting the professor is not only wrong... wrong about the thing he has studied for over a decade, but the stranger just learned about that day... but that the professor hurts people with his wrongness. The professor is not impressed with this, of course, but all he does is turn the stranger's argument right back on him - with corrections.

Still the stranger persisted, and by this point the professor was starting to get frustrated, because the stranger was still lacking even the most basic knowledge of the field. So the professor pointed the stranger to some basic, introductory texts (incidentally, some of which were even written by the professor), in the hopes this would finally clarify things for the stranger.

It didn't work. Not only did it not work, the stranger came back with a series of completely insane objections to utterly irrelevant portions of the introductory text - usually just cherry-picked and misinterpreted sentences here and there, ignoring the wider context. He starts accusing the professor of ridiculous things, like advocating that people act like self-appointed judge and jury, or advocating intolerance and punishment. At the same time, the stranger then demonstrated that he had actually had no clue about the rules of the discussion forum they had been using all along.

At this point, the professor's patience with the clueless, stubborn, and insulting stranger had long been exhausted, so he started to get curt and testy in his replies. He still kept the entire focus on the stranger's (incorrect) beliefs, but he started pointing out some of the really foolish and horrifying things that followed from those beliefs. And then things got really weird.

Suddenly the stranger started accusing the professor of being "disrespectful" as well as intolerant (which he had been accusing the professor of all along). Naturally the professor was shocked... he was the one being disrespectful? This stranger had walked in off the street with absolutely no knowledge of the topic - just some clueless and irrational "feelings" about what was right - and then had not only stubbornly stuck to his beliefs, while ignoring any rational objection and repeating the same obviously wrong claim over and over and over and over, but he had repeatedly insulted the professor, sometimes with completely fabricated accusations... and now he had the ever-loving gumption to call the professor disrespectful. Even more ludicrous, he started lecturing the professor about the forum's rules... rules that the stranger himself had only discovered a moment ago, and that the professor had helped to write.

At this point, the professor had completely had it with the stranger... but then it got even weirder. Because the stranger, now putting on an act of being the voice of reason - implying, of course, that it was the professor being unreasonable - told the professor that he wanted a compromise. Yes, that's right. The stranger - who knew literally nothing about the topic only moments before, and still didn't even have the base knowledge of a beginner in the field - seriously wanted the professor - an expert in the field - to acknowledge the stranger as an equal in debate... even though the stranger was still wrong, still ignoring the entire body of knowledge in the field, still repeating the same old tired fallacy (despite having it pointed out a dozen times that it was wrong), and still sticking to his original, and wrong, beliefs.

So you're the self-proclaimed expert on "rudeness" and "respectfulness". Riddle me this - cordially, of course. Who in the story above is being more "respectful"? Who is being more rude?

And, how should the professor react to the stranger's request for "compromise"? How should he - with over a decade of study in the topic - "compromise" with the stranger - with over a week's... well, not study, because the stranger has not really studied anything so much as repeated his own fallacious intuitions over and over and over?

LxGoodies wrote:
Having read the above, that seems improbable Anxious Your way of definition of "moral" differs. Difficult to find common grounds.

From kaysch's? Yes. The problem is, his definition is irrational. It makes no sense, when you try to reason about it. How can you find common ground with nonsense? You can't.

Put another way, i say "2 + 2 = 4", he says "2 + 2 = 5". No, we're not going to find "common ground" at "2 + 2 = 4½".

When two people disagree the answer is not always in the middle. Sometimes one of them is just flat-out wrong.

LxGoodies wrote:
Indi made his statement "lying is ALWAYS wrong" like an axioma, thruth that needs not to be prooved, a lie is inherently bad.

Incorrect. That is not an axiom, and it has been proved. That is why it is universally true.

Lying is wrong because the statement "lying is okay" is irrational... not just because i say lying is wrong.

LxGoodies wrote:
Indi is talking about THE morality, that is a set of universal and eternal moral rules based on definition of terms. According to which, lying is wrong. By definition. It is assigned bad.

Wrong again. In fact, totally wrong. Everything you think about what i've been saying is wrong.

Moral rules are NOT simply "definitions of terms". Lying is NOT "wrong by definition", and it is NOT "assigned bad". Nothing you have said about what i've said about morality is correct.

What i have said is that morality must be rational. Because if morality is not rational, it is irrational. If morality were irrational, then it would make no sense - there is nothing true or false we could say about it, and no way we could use reason to figure out moral conclusions. We wouldn't be able to say "rape should be wrong because it hurts people", because that's a rational argument - if morality is not rational, that argument can't work.

So morality must be rational, and if morality is rational, that means it must follow the rules for anything that is rational. That means it must be universal, and objective.

And if morality is rational, that also means that moral facts must be rational facts - facts based on reason. That means we can use reason to figure out moral facts. It also means that moral facts have the same properties as all rational facts: that is, they are universal and objective... they are always true.

So if lying is not immoral, it MUST be rational. But if you actually sit down and consider the logic of lying... it isn't. It turns out that there is no way you can make lying to another moral agent rational. Therefore lying is irrational... therefore lying is immoral. Always.

NOTHING i have just said is a matter of definition or axiom. Anyone who sits down and uses reason will come to the same conclusion. Try it. Do you think morality should be irrational (ie, it should make no sense at all)? Of course you don't, no one does. Do you think a rule that allows lying is a rational rule? Of course not, it can't be.

Can you deny that reasoning? If not, then unless you want to be irrational, you must agree with the conclusion: lying is always wrong.

Just about the only "objection" i keep seeing to any of this is basically just "well, people don't all agree on morality". To which i say: So the eff what? People don't all agree on mathematics or science, either. It's hardly shocking that so many people misunderstand morality, because there are so many groups consciously trying to preach false morality - like religions - and because we don't teach any moral theory in school (mostly because religious groups freak out at the idea, because they know it would totally undermine their teachings). We basically just leave people on their own, with no training, to figure morality out in a messy world where there are plenty of people who want to mislead them about it. Of COURSE many people have wrong ideas about morality! Can you imagine what would happen if we didn't teach anyone anything about science, then just let them loose in a world with creationists and crystal power kooks and chemtrail theorists, etc. etc.?

LxGoodies wrote:
Indi wrote:
Since you believe that just because people have different beliefs about something, that must mean there is no one true objective truth, you must also believe that the shape of the Earth depends on what people think about it. After all, nobody has a monopoly on the shape of the Earth, right?

I get the impression, the proposal is that "a single true view" exists as an independent and invariable entity, aside multiple "views as perceived", which are each different, because it is subject to (personal, groupwise) beliefs in things.

Correct, except those "multiple views" are wrong unless they agree with the objective answer. There is only one right answer, and that answer is always right - for everyone, everywhere, universally. If you have a different "opinion" about it, you're wrong - same as with math or science.

And just as with math or science, the fact that there's a universal objective answer that is the the same for everyone, everywhere doesn't mean that that answer is immediately obvious, or that everyone knows it. Of course, as with every other universal truth, most people will
kaysch
Indi wrote:
So morality is simply applied reason, focusing on interactions between beings that are themselves capable of reason.

I agree with both you and LxGoodies that we won’t come to a common ground because our definitions of morality differ too much. Here’s what others say:
According to Wikipedia morality is
Quote:
the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good or right and those that are bad or wrong. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion, or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness."

The Oxford Learner’s dictionary defines morality as:
Quote:
  1. principles concerning right and wrong or good and bad behaviour
  2. the degree to which something is right or wrong, good or bad, etc. according to moral principles
  3. a system of moral principles followed by a particular group of people

And Merriam-Webster defines morality as
Quote:
  1. beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior
  2. the degree to which something is right and good : the moral goodness or badness of something

All three definitions have in common that morality has to do with a differentiation between right/good behaviour and wrong/bad behaviour, based on principles/beliefs followed by groups of people.
None of those definitions claim that there is only one or one predominant principle to differentiate between right and wrong, let alone that they would mention logic or reason. There is no reference to mathematics or science or to an absolute eternal truth. On the contrary they are talking about differences between entities of people and their principles: principles derived from A PARTICULAR philosophy, religion or culture or even A SINGLE person, A PARTICULAR group of people, BELIEFS in plural. Which means those beliefs can differ, very much in line with what I continue to say.
Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Learner’s dictionary are not randomly picked; the way they work is that they pretty much define a term in accordance what the general public understands by that term. I find it unlikely that all those encyclopediae made a gross mistake in that research.
Indi wrote:
there is no way you can make lying to another moral agent rational. Therefore lying is irrational... therefore lying is immoral. Always.

Here is a more complete list of what I call exceptional circumstances in which lying may be considered OK, according to my own observations and apparently even in line with different schools of thought.
- Honesty and other virtues (politeness, respect, non-violence etc.) may not be reached simultaneously, so lying may be the lesser of two evils in those cases. See the example about avoiding a tough dying process to my grandmother (“Don’t worry, mom. You’ll be fine.”). See the example about being polite to someone who apparently does not want to bothered with the truth (“I’m fine, thanks.”)
- Lying may be OK if done for altruistic motives. Here’s one: During WWII Oskar Schindler saved the lives of 1.000 Jews by claiming that he needed them to work in his factory. That was a lie, at least in part, but without lying he would have never been able to save their lives and labelled “righteous among the nations” by the Israeli government.
- Lying may be OK for collective egoism: The success of the French résistance depended on the abilty to lie, for example by concealing their identity using false passports.
- It may even be justifiable to lie for pure individual egoism. Your life may depend on whether you lie or not, so it would be irrational not to lie. If arrested by some terrorist Muslim group why wouldn’t you try to claim you’re a Sunni Muslim if it gives you the chance to save your life? My wife grew up in East Germany and has her experience with that, albeit on a smaller scale. Until 1989 babbling socialist propaganda on 1 May or during company meetings was considered normal although few people really believed in it. If her family had refused to do so they would have had to face severe consequences, possibly even imprisonment. After the fall of the Berlin wall people from West Germany easily called that behaviour immoral, but they only did as they had never been in such an environment.
- Oh, and lying may also be OK if it creates more benefit than harm to the people involved. See the example about lying to meet the wife’s expectation of being comforted (“No, you look beautiful.”).
Indi wrote:
If moral knowledge is not reason-based knowledge, like math, then it is either:
  1. observation-based knowledge, like science (meaning there is some kind of observation or measurement we can make that will tell us what is moral and what is not); or
  2. irrational (meaning morals are nonsense - literally things that make no sense).

Moral knowledge does not exist. Just like God doesn’t exist.
There are schools of thought about morality like there are various religions. And like religions there are new ones coming up and others vanishing. Which does not mean we are any closer to God or the absolute truth than we were 2000 years ago.
What does exist is personal views / principles / beliefs about right or wrong behaviour. How do people come to their principles about morality? I’d answer it is a combination of everything you mentioned and more. I can come to a personal view on a specific behaviour by reason (“if I cheat on her, she will probably find out and we’re going to have problems, so it is a bad idea and I won’t do it”). I can use empathy (“She’s so sensitive and I don’t want to hurt her.”) I can use observation (“when I cheated last year she cried so much. So I will not repeat it”). I can rely on religion (“Cheating is forbidden in the bible, so it must be wrong.”), my peers (“Your relationship has been fantastic so far, so why do you want to risk it?”) etc. etc. There are lots of ways how one can come to a view.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
As I said I agree that logic/reason is objective, but isn’t mathematics more than that? If one takes a subjective assumption, then applies (objective) logic to come to a conclusion that conclusion still has a subjective element.
What... exactly... do you mean by a "subjective assumption"?

What I mean is that everybody can choose his own assumptions, then use logic and come to conclusions that make as much sense as the assumptions. For example I can call my bed “table”, my frying pan “picture” and the egg I just took out of the fridge “ice cream” without having any logical contradictions. I can then tell people that this noon I fried ice cream in the picture, then ate it and finally took a rest in my table. Of course everybody would frown, but I could claim that based on my assumptions (that nobody else understands) it’s logic what I say.
As you seem to enjoy maths I’ll use another example. When I say “starting point” (without being sure how that is called exactly in maths) what I mean is something like a point in geometry. One doesn’t go back to proving a point exists, it is just taken for granted. That’s the starting point. From there on, you can develop the most beautiful things such as linking points and creating shapes, measuring distances and so on and so forth. But if a point actually does not exist all those ideas will be logically derived but pointless.
So logic alone helps but is not sufficient to make a concluding statement meaningful, and that applies even more to moral statements such as “lying/the death penalty is right or wrong” or “morality is applied reason between moral agents”.
Indi wrote:
So one of two things is true:
  1. You don't really believe the reasons you gave. You just... feel... that the death penalty is wrong. Logic doesn't matter, just your emotional, gut feeling. That would mean morality is subjective... but it would also mean that all those reasons you just gave were a lie.
That's basically the ultimate problem with moral relativism. If it's true, then you CANNOT have rational reasons for holding a moral belief. If you do, then your moral belief simply isn't subjective - other people can consider those reasons, and observe whether they are rational or not. If your beliefs really are subjective, then they cannot be rational... they have to be irrational.

I applied a set of assumptions such as “everybody’s life values the same and the government must protect it”, “everybody makes mistakes and should have a chance to repent and be forgiven” and so on, then used logic and came to the conclusion that under those assumptions the death penalty is immoral. My culture, education, absence of religion and personal experience play a role in that decision. And yes, I freely admit that also my emotions play a part because watching an execution is terrible. But for the sake of the argument let’s say it’s mainly because of my reasoning that I belong to the group of people who oppose the death penalty.
Other people may come to different conclusions. If one takes a different set of assumptions such as “the individual does not count, but it’s the society as a whole”, “a no-tolerance policy works best to deter others from committing crimes” and “Our idol Mao Zedong said we will have to eradicate all traitors in order to create paradise on earth” then obviously he will come to the logical conclusion that the death penalty is right. Those assumptions are not random, they are very real and still applicable in China which has the highest number of executions worldwide.
So there we are. There are two sets of assumptions and conclusions which contradict each other and which cannot be reconciled, neither with the categorical imperative nor with anything else. They just oppose each other. They are both closed systems of thought and none of them lead to any logical contradiction in se.
The two systems of thought are not inherently illogic, just when you compare their results to each other (“Killing traitors is against the human rights of each individual”) or with reality (“Worker’s paradise has never been reached, so it was unnecessary to kill traitors.”)
Indi wrote:
It seems that when i say "moral relativism makes no sense" (or "your beliefs make no sense", and so on), you seem to be interpreting that as me merely saying "i disagree with it". But i'm not... i'm being quite literal. When i say "moral relativism makes no sense", i mean that it literally does not make a lick of sense... it is fundamentally and intrinsically irrational. It basically says "x is y" and "x is not y" at the same time. It makes... no... sense.

I have no reason to believe you don’t mean what you say.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
- Here’s another one: What if logic is not the right methodology to determine whether death penalty is morally right or wrong? What if it is power? Or emotions? Or a combination of logic, emotions, communication and power?

Then morals would be irrational. They would no longer make sense. It would no longer be meaningful to say "you can't do this because it is wrong"

Also morals developed irrationally can make sense. They help organizing interactions between people, just that that organization works differently around the globe. That’s why there are so many seminars on cultural differences. Much of them is about creating sensitivity for other people’s ideas and avoiding behaviour which is seen as inappropriate because different moral principles apply.
Recently I travelled to Vietnam. Over there families worship the deceased. They assemble food, place it outside of the house and offer it to the deceased ancestors. After some time, they take the food back into the house and eat it themselves. It’s a behaviour that comes from the moral principle of honouring your ancestors, and it’s part of Buddhist tradition as they see it. Such behaviour would be unthinkable in Germany. As soon as possible we get rid of our parents by sending them to a home for the elderly and if they are lucky we will water the plants on their graves for some time but that’s about it. (OK, I admit I exaggerated a bit here, but that’s the tendency.) Over here people are supposed to contribute to society by working, not by worrying about their ancestors too much. In Vietnam all that would be seen as extremely rude. And in our eyes what the Vietnamese do is completely irrational, even unhygienic with the temperatures they have outside of their houses. Yet that’s how different cultures work, and the key to living peacefully is to be tolerant and accept that they do it their way instead of saying they are stupid (or “debunk” them because they behave irrationally in our eyes or in line with some cult). In fact, saying they are all stupid would be a stupid thing to do.
Indi wrote:
A statement is either true or false (by definition). If the statement is true, it is true... adding unnecessary qualifiers is unnecessary. (Obviously.) For example: "Joe is dead" is a fact. You're not helping anything or anyone by saying, "Joe is a little bit dead", "Joe is extremely dead", or "Joe is mostly dead". Either Joe really is dead and the statement is true, or Joe isn't dead and the statement is false. "How dead" Joe is means nothing.

True, Joe can only be dead or alive. But even “Joe is dead” can have several meanings, for example: Fact: “Joe just died”. Self-revelation: “I am better informed than you are.” Relationship: “You’re relevant to me and to Joe, that’s why I told you.” Appeal: “Let’s think of him.” Communication just doesn’t follow mathematical laws, even a simple sentence such as “Joe is dead” may mean multiple things and is open to interpretation, just as “utterly wrong” vs. “slightly wrong” just mean the same on a factual level. Remember, the Oxford Learner’s dictionary’s definition of morality (which you won’t agree with) says “the DEGREE to which something is right or wrong, good or bad, etc. according to moral principles”.
Indi wrote:
You can't make reasonable statements about an unreasonable world.

So don’t. Our world IS to a large part unreasonable. There is no meaning of life, it’s just coincidence we exist and nobody knows for how many more generations to come. Communication is prone to misunderstandings. Most people believe in God although there is no reason to believe God exists. People kill each other, they lie each day, they take drugs, they eat blood sausage, they are hypocritical, egoistic and so on and so forth. Why would you think that of all the things reason can solve all that? It’s contrary to human nature. Human beings are largely driven by emotions instead of intellect, it’s part of our evolutionary history.
Indi wrote:
If you want to save that argument, you would need to do something like this:
  1. People disagree about X.
  2. <insert something here that links disagreement with subjectivity>
  3. Therefore X is subjective.
But of course, whatever you insert there has to be true for morality, but not true for science or mathematics, and actually relevant in linking agreement/disagreement of opinion with objectivity/subjectivity of fact. (Which, of course, no such thing exists... but keep trying!)

I did that already. It is here:
kaysch wrote:
as there is no absolute morality they just disagree with one other, not with an absolute truth. If there was a universally valid morality it would not exist per se or fall down from heaven (at least that’s my belief as an atheist) but it would have to be generated by consent among people. (…) Or in the improbable case that it did fall down from heaven and I didn't hear the thud: they won't be able to discover it. Disagreement on its own with something obviously does not determine truth or untruth, it just means people disagree. But of course in a case whereby consent is necessary to determine a common understanding of ethical principles disagreement does not help in generating those common views.

To rephrase that point: In natural science one can disagree with a fact, an absolute objective truth which science looks for. Such a view would not be valid. In morality that absolute truth does not exist, so people (individually and collectively) come up with their own subjective views, using whatever methodology. Their differing views cannot be validated against an absolute truth as that does not exist, it can just be measured against other people’s views.
Indi wrote:
Do you not understand the difference between judging someone's behaviour moral/immoral and... ya know... literally being a judge?

Of course I do. As I said I have my own moral standard which happens to coincide with other people’s moral standards, and I don’t need any judge to judge others by that standard. And when in doubt I prefer not to judge others, that’s part of the moral standard I have.
Indi wrote:
How can you seriously, with a straight face, list cases where lying is okay (while calling me insensitive because i said it's not okay to lie in those cases)... then say you never said it's okay to lie?

I’ll apply the Schulz von Thun analysis again to make clear where the difference is.
  1. “It’s OK to lie.” Fact: “It’s OK to lie”. Self-revelation: “I think it’s moral to lie, always.” Appeal: “Go ahead if you wish to lie.” Relationship: “Not sure who will read this.”
  2. “Lying is not OK, it just may be in a limited amount of cases which are as follows…” Fact: “It depends.” Self-revelation: “I think it’s immoral to lie.” Appeal: “Don’t lie as a rule of thumb”. Relationship: “Not sure who will read this.”

Remember that in an earlier post you misunderstood my self-revelation and the appeal? You suspected I lie light-heartedly and accused me of it. To make sure you won’t do that again I now insist on not saying “Lying is OK”. That sentence needs to be qualified, otherwise I am afraid you might misunderstand me again.
Indi wrote:
the question was about driving on the LEFT side of the road... why is "left" more (un)ethical than "right"?

You are right, whether everybody drives on the left or on the right does not matter morally. It matters that everybody drives on the same side.
Indi wrote:
Next you invent the idea that "shame harms"... but never explain why that should make nudity illegal but not wearing scanty clothes (or even wearing a full body suit that is printed in way that looks just like the naked body), or why some people's shame matters but not others.

I seems you have never travelled to other cultures and experienced their sense of seriously felt shame.
In Vietnam women don’t wear bikinis in the swimming pool but shirts. And if go there with my swimming trunks instead of boxer shorts they will start giggling. I did exactly that last month and believe me I was the attraction of the day. Let’s say I broke a social norm there out of ignorance which however was not coded in law.
In Germany it’s perfectly normal to use swimming trunks in the swimming pool and even to go naked to a mixed sauna. Nobody feels offended, so it’s not prohibited. But if after the sauna I walk over to the park and open my trenchcoat in front of the woman that was sitting next to me in the sauna she will sue me for sexual harassment. Exhibitionism is banned here because it affects people’s sense of shame.
Indi wrote:
Next you sneakily change my question about weed into "drugs", never explaining why weed is illegal, but alcohol and coffee aren't.

Do I really have to justify the world’s legislation here? Legislators around the world follow the ideas prevalent in their country as determined in an often complex group decision process.

But for the record, in many countries alcohol is banned and on others there is a high tax on it in order to reduce consumption and its detrimental effect on other people, through higher costs in healthcare and dangers when driving drunk for example. In others it’s seen as OK. And for coffee: in the past coffee was banned in several places too, in Mekka (then part of Turkey) in 1511, in Ethiopia until 1889 and even Germany in the 18th century, the latter largely on economic grounds.
Indi wrote:
Here's the thing: even if i take your attempts seriously, how can i take you seriously as you attempt to argue universal reasons for why these laws are ethical... in order to prove that ethics are subjective? Don't you see how you are completely torpedoing your whole case?

I am not saying that universally established principles of morality are coded differently into each country’s law. What I do say is that there is a multitude of moral views around the world, and they can be coded into law.
Indi wrote:
But the icing on the cake is that you conclude that human rights laws are based on ethics... which is true (and the reason why human rights are universal, and so much more important than traffic or drug laws)... but human rights laws are UNIVERSAL.

Not even human rights are universally accepted, for example there is a large group of people represented by Muslim governments who in 1990 came up with their own definition of human rights, being in sharp contrast to those definitions laid out by the UN.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_Declaration_on_Human_Rights_in_Islam
Indi wrote:
There is NO culture that makes a law based on some culturally specific ethic that then turns around and says "oh, but this only applies to members of the culture." They ALL insist their ethics are universal, to be followed by everyone.

Wrong. In Jordan for example Christians may trade alcohol while Muslims may not. There is a chain of alcohol shops that sell all sorts of booze (I even saw German beer), but they have to be run by Non-Muslims. It’s a good source of income for the Christians there because of course Muslims are among their customers too although I believe it’s illegal for them. Or as the shopkeeper in Amman put it: Many people drink alcohol around here, but the trick is to do it in a such a way that nobody else finds out.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
Trying to make a society work is a moral maxim.
Prove it. (…) And of course, any valid maxim will be in agreement with the categorical imperative... NO valid maxim can contradict.

What’s the point of doing that? I am not a Kantianist. I prefer to argue by my own personal experience whenever possible, not by abstract logic. And I have no desire to claim that my views should be held by everyone else, I’m not a missionary. Besides, I can’t, not even if I wanted to. If in morality there are no universally accepted definitions or axioms such as in geometry how can I come up with a meaningful proof? What you are asking me to do does not make sense.
For the record: The personal experience I have about a failed state concerns Albania in 1997/98 and as a result many Albanians fled the country. (I will drop the word “anarchy” as I don’t want to open another side discussion with you about that word and what it means.) I know some of them who moved to Germany. They told me how terrible that period was in all its details. Those stories are enough for me to believe that it is desirable to have a working society including a government which works well to organize it. So since I heard those stories I haven’t had the need any longer to rely on abstract ideas to decide for myself that failed states produce misery.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
So why is it coincidental if laws follow ethical principles?
Because you don't need to make laws based on ethical principles.

Alright, I agree. And having to drive on the left is a good example.
Indi wrote:
You can't make a law that contradicts ethics, of course.

Of course you can. Take any tax haven jurisdiction, I don’t think the respective governments worried a lot about ethics when they set them up.
Indi wrote:
we now have a foundational document that is self-contradictory

It seems like a pretty foul compromise. But Canada is in good company, for example Iran has the same problem. Wink
Indi wrote:
imagine that race with no universally agreed upon course, where all the runners are running off in different directions according to their own whims. If one of those runners looked at you and said, "looks like i'm making great progress!", what would you think?

“By my own standard” means I must have a chance to measure his progress. So in the case of the race I’d say we’d have to run roughly into the same direction and we must have started more or less at the same time so that I can measure his progress. And if he heads off to somewhere else I won’t be able to judge him – which is fine. Let him run somewhere else, why would I care as long as he doesn’t run over me or my peers?
Indi wrote:
If someone believes that setting random people on the street on fire is healthy for them, it is not "intolerant" or "a violation of their freedom" to tell them they're wrong.

There are 2 issues mixed up here. Whether it is healthy or not to be burnt alive is a question of biology, not of morality, and there is only one correct answer. Whether or not one has the right to kill others randomly on the street is a question of morality, and while most people will have the same view on that it nevertheless depends on those who judge it.
Indi wrote:
Simple subjectivism is wrong because (among other reasons), you don't get to have your own moral facts. It is not "intolerant" or a "violation of someone's freedom" to tell them so.

It’s one school of thought, like many others. You listed them in your paper. Each school of thought will have their good reasons why they are right and the others possibly wrong. Our debate illustrates that.
Indi wrote:
when you say "it is okay to lie sometimes, for speedier conversations", you are saying that's true for everyone... in fact, you even insulted me for refusing to agree.

I am not aware I wrote anything to insult you. If I did, I am sorry. This is a discussion about ideas, nothing more.
The reply to your observation is “no” as I already said before. I’m not on a mission. If people want to lie to each other for whatever reason, let them do it. If somebody else’s bad behaviour affects myself I will try to stop them from doing so. But all that happens on an individual or at best group level. There are 7 billion people on earth, so why would I waste my time bothering about what they should believe or how they should behave to each other?
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
I can’t see anything negative about all that as long as everybody stays within the framework of rules such as “don’t harm others”, “treat one other fairly” etc.

So... you want a subjective moral framework... that has universal rules? And you think that makes sense?

Yes, except that those rules are not universal but apply to groups of people. I am happy to accept rules or laws that make sense.
kaysch wrote:
If you ever... EVER... rely on emotions rather than reason, you are acting immorally. Every time. No excuses.

Roundabout 80% of our actions are determined by emotions, not by reason. So 80% of our time we are acting immorally? Romantic love declarations, sex, usage of instincts to avoid a danger etc. All immoral? So what’s the morally bad aspect about having spontaneous sex with the wife if she agrees?
Indi wrote:
Of course... if someone wilfully ignored information, or consciously chose not to use proper reasoning... they don't deserve forgiveness. (That doesn't mean you can't give it, just that they don't reasonably deserve it.) Those people have behaved immorally, with no excuses. They should be prevented from causing further harm.

“They don’t deserve forgiveness.” “They should be prevented from causing further harm”. Shudder. Well, we have had our talk about the Spanish Inquisition already.
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
Whatever, here’s my final remark for today: I think we have had quite an exhaustive exchange of ideas now, so slowly but surely I’d like to come to an end. And ideally I’d like to come to a common understanding although it seems difficult. I am inviting you cordially to come up with some suggestions.

First, let's strip away your pretence at diplomacy and faux "respectfulness" and get down to what you're really saying. You're saying that unless i make compromises on my position, i am being "difficult" - that i'm not really interested in a respectful exchange of ideas between equals where both walk away having gained something unless i give up some ground. You're trying to imply that i'm being dogmatic, while you're being the reasonable one, and we can't possibly have peace until i relent.

We can’t have peace until you relent? Who’s paranoid here? I was deliberately talking about a common understanding, not about a compromise. The only one who has been fighting here all the time is you.
As to your other allegations: No comment.
Indi wrote:
Here's the thing, though. I have studied this topic for close to 15 years now. It was my topic of choice when i got my philosophy minor. I have written papers on it, discussed it with professional philosophers, contributed to blogs about it, and a couple people have even suggested i write an ebook about it.

They must truly admire your sharp intellect and the vast amount of knowledge you have been able to assemble in those 15 years. Wink
Indi wrote:
You, meanwhile, pretty must just walked in off the street yesterday. I exaggerate only slightly - it's actually a couple of weeks. You had no idea what moral relativism even was when we started, but now you insist that it's right even in defiance of the vast philosophical consensus.

Yes and no. It’s true that this is my first in-depth discussion about schools of thought on morality, and the longer it takes I am getting more familiar with the related terminology. Yet my views have hardly changed even though the terminology I use has. In fact, you keep complaining about that.
Indi wrote:
So you tell me: What do you think the reasonable solution in this case is? What do you think a "compromise" would look like in this case?

Well, we could agree to disagree for example. Or leave it for others to decide who is right.
Or we could happily walk away knowing we both generated 5 Frihost points for each post. Wink
Indi wrote:
Since you pretend to be so "respectful" - the point where you can lecture me about being "respectful" - i have a conundrum for you. In the following story who is being "respectful"?

Indi, with all due respect: You are not my professor, and I haven’t walked into your office from the street. This is an internet forum, not a classroom where you lecture me and where you can make me pass or fail an exam. I appreciate that you are willing to share your knowledge with others. But no matter how many books you claim to have read about philosophy, there is absolutely no hierarchy between us. You are nothing but an individual, and individuals make mistakes. Therefore I don’t have to agree with your position. And in fact I don’t, no matter how convinced you are. What I did is to point you to weaknesses in your reasoning, and I criticized some of the arguments in your paper. If you think that is lèse-majesty that’s your problem.
Neither do I agree with the way you put your ideas forward. You use words such as idiotic, insane, nonsense and stupid much too often when you make a point. Using them in conjunction with “you” invites people to feel hurt, like in my case. What made it worse is that you participated in writing the forum rules. Fortunately after my remark it became better for which I thank you. But here’s a feedback: If you want to be a good scholar you’d better avoid such misunderstandings, it does not help supporting your case. And if you are impatient with me because I don’t follow what you say despite your efforts, that’s really your problem, not mine.
Indi wrote:
What i have said is that morality must be rational. Because if morality is not rational, it is irrational. If morality were irrational, then it would make no sense - there is nothing true or false we could say about it, and no way we could use reason to figure out moral conclusions. We wouldn't be able to say "rape should be wrong because it hurts people", because that's a rational argument - if morality is not rational, that argument can't work.
So morality must be rational, and if morality is rational, that means it must follow the rules for anything that is rational. That means it must be universal, and objective.
And if morality is rational, that also means that moral facts must be rational facts - facts based on reason. That means we can use reason to figure out moral facts. It also means that moral facts have the same properties as all rational facts: that is, they are universal and objective... they are always true.
So if lying is not immoral, it MUST be rational. But if you actually sit down and consider the logic of lying... it isn't. It turns out that there is no way you can make lying to another moral agent rational. Therefore lying is irrational... therefore lying is immoral. Always.

Here’s my summary.
I believe that any judging of a moral behaviour must be carried out by an individual. Human beings base their decisions on intellect, but more than that on emotions. So an individual can only have his own subjective views, generated by a mix of intellect and emotions, influenced by all sorts of circumstances. Social norms such as ethical principles and laws are determined in a group decision process. And as the group consists of individuals their norms will necessarily reflect the views of the individuals of that group. Consequently, a society’s prevailing moral principles are neither exclusively rational or exclusively irrational, they are both. Which explains why they differ around the world and over time. What then follows is that they can’t be universally valid.
That is applicable for lying too. Whether lying in a specific case is seen as good or bad is subject to an individual’s or a group judgment. Often they will take the circumstance in consideration. In how far their decision follows rational principles or not is up to the group. No matter how much they claim their decision is right, there is always the real possibility that another group would come to a different judgment, based on different views of the group members. Consequently lying is not universally wrong, it depends on the views of the individual or of the group that judges it.
mukesh
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
So is lying wrong? That depends on who can judge it.

No, it doesn't. Lying is ALWAYS wrong. You don't need anyone to judge it for it to be wrong anymore than you need someone to judge a rape before it becomes wrong.

Just because some people get away with lying does not make it right. People get away with lots of evil things. They're still evil.


Yes I agree. Lying is always wrong. Lying even for fun is wrong and can have very bad sequences. But lying to criminals who can use your truth for their evil intentions is not wrong.
Bikerman
Why would you lie to a criminal? Why not simply say sod-off?
There seems to be an incorrect assumption of a binary 'truth or lie' situation here. There is always another option - say nowt.
LxGoodies
Mukesh is right.. it could just be noble to mislead a criminal.. lying to a criminal might be good ! Very Happy

@Indi thx for the elaborate answer.. I'm still meditating on a suitable response.

Indi wrote:
What i have said is that morality must be rational. Because if morality is not rational, it is irrational. If morality were irrational, then it would make no sense - there is nothing true or false we could say about it, and no way we could use reason to figure out moral conclusions. We wouldn't be able to say "rape should be wrong because it hurts people", because that's a rational argument - if morality is not rational, that argument can't work.


Somehow you seem to land on a deterministic view.. but "rational" is not always (not for everyone) a suitable basis to judge lying.. ethics of lying is sometimes a matter of gut feeling and depends on circumstance. And the addressee.. and hindsight..
Bikerman
Lying to a criminal might be good?
I think not.
That is a very crude form of utilitarianism - the ends justify the means. The problems with THAT should be obvious to those who have read widely in this forum. Why not simply shoot the criminal instead?

It also relies on a vague definition - criminal. Does that include only people tried and convicted of a crime? Seems a bit odd to say that it would be OK to lie to anyone who has served their punishment for a crime.....Or does it mean people that the subject considers to be acting in a criminal manner? In that case we are into subjective labelling which would justify all sorts of atrocity.
nam_siddharth
Bikerman wrote:
Lying to a criminal might be good?
I think not.

In most cases lying to even criminals are not good.
Bikerman wrote:
That is a very crude form of utilitarianism - the ends justify the means. The problems with THAT should be obvious to those who have read widely in this forum. Why not simply shoot the criminal instead?

Shooting criminal is not a good option in most cases. In most cases victim will not have access to a gun. Even if the victim has gun, the crime may not be so great that the criminal deserves to be shot. And even if the criminal deserves to be shot and the victim has a gun, there can be several reasons which will make shooting the criminal the worst option. Shooting must be the last option that too the self defense.
Bikerman wrote:
It also relies on a vague definition - criminal. Does that include only people tried and convicted of a crime? Seems a bit odd to say that it would be OK to lie to anyone who has served their punishment for a crime.....Or does it mean people that the subject considers to be acting in a criminal manner? In that case we are into subjective labelling which would justify all sorts of atrocity.

As I said lying to even criminals are not good in most cases. But lying is not bad if not lying may cause security concern for you or someone else.
Bikerman
Oh, so now lying is OK to protect your security?
So if I get stopped by the police I can lie about my name and address? Presumably you agree that this would be wrong?
So suppose you give me an example in which you think lying would be OK?
nam_siddharth
Bikerman wrote:
Oh, so now lying is OK to protect your security?
So if I get stopped by the police I can lie about my name and address? Presumably you agree that this would be wrong?
So suppose you give me an example in which you think lying would be OK?


1. Lying to ISIS about location of Yazidies and Jews.
2. Lying about security code of your credit/debit card or bank lockers etc.
playfungames
Yes lying is wrong in most cases. You can't lie and fool people to get what you want. Lying for your personal benefits and that does bad to others is not good.

But, and yes there is a but, if lying can do a greater good, then why not lie? If lying can help others who were trying to be sincere in the first place or even if lying can save lies (extreme case, I know), then lying is fine, I guess. I heard in old movies that one lie that saves lives is better than 100 truths.
Bikerman
nam_siddharth wrote:
1. Lying to ISIS about location of Yazidies and Jews.
Why would you be talking to ISIS in the first place?
Quote:
2. Lying about security code of your credit/debit card or bank lockers etc.
Why would you be giving false information to anyone? If someone asks for such information then you either give them the information - if there is a valid reason - or you don't.
LxGoodies
Bikerman wrote:
Lying to a criminal might be good?
I think not. That is a very crude form of utilitarianism - the ends justify the means. The problems with THAT should be obvious to those who have read widely in this forum. Why not simply shoot the criminal instead?

It also relies on a vague definition - criminal.

For some criminals you might encounter, the definition is irrelevant. A person grabs your card, puts a gun to your head and asks for your code. If he is in a hurry to get away.. I will lie about it. He is bad, not I.

I read large parts of this forum.. but in the end, my objective is to survive without heavy losses.. and I do not carry guns.. so shooting is no option.

Bikerman wrote:
nam_siddharth wrote:
1. Lying to ISIS about location of Yazidies and Jews.
Why would you be talking to ISIS in the first place?
Quote:
2. Lying about security code of your credit/debit card or bank lockers etc.
Why would you be giving false information to anyone? If someone asks for such information then you either give them the information - if there is a valid reason - or you don't.

In either case, you could be forced to tell them something. Lying is quite logical, unless you're a hostage in captivity. In that case it would make your situation worse.
Indi
kaysch wrote:
According to Wikipedia...
The Oxford Learner’s dictionary...
And Merriam-Webster...

That's not how you use dictionaries or encyclopedias.

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are not normative, they are descriptive; they do not tell you the correct way to use a word, they tell you the way that people use the word, even if it's wrong.

For example, look up the definition of peruse, and you'll see it defined as both "consider with care" and "look over casually; skim"... two contradictory definitions. That's because while the correct definition is "consider with care", many people use it incorrectly to mean "skim". The dictionary dutifully reports the incorrect definition, because that's what it's for: not to give correct definitions, to give popular definitions.

If you want a proper definition of morality, you should be looking at philosophy texts - preferably texts that specialize in morality.

kaysch wrote:
Here is a more complete list of what I call exceptional circumstances in which lying may be considered OK...

Here you are again telling me situations where lying is okay... after you objected to me saying that you thought there were situations where lying is okay. You keep changing your tune.

kaysch wrote:
Moral knowledge does not exist. Just like God doesn’t exist.

What about mathematical knowledge, then? Does that exist? Prove it.

kaysch wrote:
There are schools of thought about morality like there are various religions. ...

And here we go again. "There are people who disagree about morality, therefore there is no objective morality." That logic has been proven wrong over and over and over and over, and you keep repeating it.

I'm done with taking your repeated iterations of this tired argument seriously. It's not going to be any less wrong if you keep repeating it. From now on, every time you repeat the same old tired argument, i'm just going to point out that's what you're doing - i'm not even going to bother to engage with it. This will, of course, save me a lot of time responding, because that's 90% of your "arguments".

kaysch wrote:
What I mean is that everybody can choose his own assumptions, then use logic and come to conclusions that make as much sense as the assumptions. For example I can call my bed “table”, my frying pan “picture” and the egg I just took out of the fridge “ice cream” without having any logical contradictions. I can then tell people that this noon I fried ice cream in the picture, then ate it and finally took a rest in my table. Of course everybody would frown, but I could claim that based on my assumptions (that nobody else understands) it’s logic what I say.
As you seem to enjoy maths I’ll use another example. When I say “starting point” (without being sure how that is called exactly in maths) what I mean is something like a point in geometry. One doesn’t go back to proving a point exists, it is just taken for granted. That’s the starting point. From there on, you can develop the most beautiful things such as linking points and creating shapes, measuring distances and so on and so forth. But if a point actually does not exist all those ideas will be logically derived but pointless.
So logic alone helps but is not sufficient to make a concluding statement meaningful, and that applies even more to moral statements such as “lying/the death penalty is right or wrong” or “morality is applied reason between moral agents”.

What you've just described is what everyone else in the world calls a "hypothesis". Of course, you have misunderstood how they actually work.

It doesn't matter if a hypothesis is not logical. Hypotheses can be carefully drafted logical extrapolations, or they can be completely ridiculous and fanciful - makes no difference whatsoever.

Because the hypothesis isn't part of the reasoning. The hypothesis is what's being tested. If the hypothesis is ridiculous, the reasoning will show it to be so.

So no, you're wrong. Logic alone is not only sufficient to make a conclusion meaningful, it is REQUIRED. If you use ANYTHING other than logic in your reasoning, your conclusion is meaningless. That's basic knowledge, and trivial to demonstrate. How you generated the hypothesis - whether reasonably or by pulling it out of your ass - is irrelevant, because the hypothesis is not part of the reasoning.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
So one of two things is true:
  1. You don't really believe the reasons you gave. You just... feel... that the death penalty is wrong. Logic doesn't matter, just your emotional, gut feeling. That would mean morality is subjective... but it would also mean that all those reasons you just gave were a lie.
That's basically the ultimate problem with moral relativism. If it's true, then you CANNOT have rational reasons for holding a moral belief. If you do, then your moral belief simply isn't subjective - other people can consider those reasons, and observe whether they are rational or not. If your beliefs really are subjective, then they cannot be rational... they have to be irrational.

I applied a set of assumptions...

Either you used logic, or you did not. If you did, you admit morality is objective. If you didn't, you lied about using logic. Dance all you want, those are the inescapable facts.

kaysch wrote:
Also morals developed irrationally can make sense.

No they can't. The words mean what they mean. They won't change definitions just to make life easier for you.

"Irrational" means "it makes no sense". Period.

kaysch wrote:
True, Joe can only be dead or alive. But even “Joe is dead” can have several meanings...

Those "other meanings" are utterly irrelevant to the fact of Joe being dead (or alive). They are merely your attempt to avoid admitting the obvious and inescapable consequences.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
You can't make reasonable statements about an unreasonable world.

So don’t. Our world IS to a large part unreasonable.

You are equivocating the definition of "unreasonable". The fact that there is no meaning of life is not "unreasonable". The fact that communication is hard is not "unreasonable". The word just doesn't mean what you are trying to pretend it means.

Our world is not unreasonable in the sense that it defies the laws of logic. It may be that we don't understand it - that we humans cannot reason about it - but that is because we lack the information we need to make sound predictions. The fact that we can't perfectly reason about the world doesn't mean it doesn't subscribe to reason.

"So don't" is a nonsensical response, demonstrating that you really have no clue what you're talking about. You don't have the option of not reasoning about the world. I presume you eat. Why do you eat? Because it keeps you alive? How do you know it keeps you alive? Because you have made a reasonable deduction that it does, based on empirical observations and logic. If you were unable to do that reasoning, you would have no way of knowing whether you should eat to stay alive or whether putting something in your mouth would kill you. You want to deny that you have to use reason to know you can (and need to) eat? You want to tell me that you eat because you "feel" it is the right thing to do? Don't waste my time.

If the world we live in is a reasonable one (which it is), then we can make reasonable conclusions about it (which we do). If we couldn't make reasonable assumptions about the world, it would be functionally impossible to live in - you wouldn't know from one minute to the next whether breathing would kill you keep you alive, for example. You cannot make reasonable statements about an unreasonable world.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
If you want to save that argument, you would need to do something like this:
  1. People disagree about X.
  2. <insert something here that links disagreement with subjectivity>
  3. Therefore X is subjective.
But of course, whatever you insert there has to be true for morality, but not true for science or mathematics, and actually relevant in linking agreement/disagreement of opinion with objectivity/subjectivity of fact. (Which, of course, no such thing exists... but keep trying!)

I did that already. It is here:
kaysch wrote:
as there is no absolute morality they just disagree with one other, not with an absolute truth. If there was a universally valid morality it would not exist per se or fall down from heaven (at least that’s my belief as an atheist) but it would have to be generated by consent among people. (…) Or in the improbable case that it did fall down from heaven and I didn't hear the thud: they won't be able to discover it. Disagreement on its own with something obviously does not determine truth or untruth, it just means people disagree. But of course in a case whereby consent is necessary to determine a common understanding of ethical principles disagreement does not help in generating those common views.

To rephrase that point: In natural science one can disagree with a fact, an absolute objective truth which science looks for. Such a view would not be valid. In morality that absolute truth does not exist, so people (individually and collectively) come up with their own subjective views, using whatever methodology. Their differing views cannot be validated against an absolute truth as that does not exist, it can just be measured against other people’s views.

Still wrong. You keep falling back on science and ignoring math, probably because you know your argument falls apart when applied there.

Replace "morality" with mathematics in that argument. It's the same old wrong argument.

kaysch wrote:
I’ll apply the Schulz von Thun analysis again to make clear where the difference is.

This analysis is bullshit. You have, in fact, stated that there are situations where lying is okay. You cannot deny this. Just be honest and admit it.

I never - not even once - accused you of saying lying is always okay. That is a lie you made up yourself; i had nothing to do with it. All i accused you of is saying that there are situations where lying is okay, and that some of those situations are pretty pathetic. As in, you think it's okay to lie just to avoid some mild social awkwardness. Again, you cannot deny that. It is a fact. You did say you would lie to avoid even a minor delay.

kaysch wrote:
I seems you have never travelled to other cultures and experienced their sense of seriously felt shame.

It seems you are once again making up bullshit about me. Weren't you the one quoting the rules at me about making the discussion about the discussion, and not the people involved?

kaysch wrote:
Not even human rights are universally accepted, for example there is a large group of people represented by Muslim governments who in 1990 came up with their own definition of human rights, being in sharp contrast to those definitions laid out by the UN.

And you're still not getting it. Still not getting it. In fact, i think you've even stopped trying to get it. I did not... NEVER ONCE... said that human rights were universally accepted. I said that everyone thinks human rights should be universally accepted.

What do those Muslim governments say about their version of human rights? Do they say that they're subjective? Do they say that they're optional? Do they say they only have to be followed by a certain group of people?

No, they say that (their interpretation of) human rights is freaking UNIVERSAL.

EVERYONE says that. That's what i've been repeating over and over. NO ONE thinks human rights are subjective or optional... EVERYONE says that human rights are objective and universal.

The ONLY issue that remains is to determine which rights, exactly, are human rights. The OIC disagrees with the rest of the world. Either they're right or they're wrong. (They're probably wrong.) But the bottom line is that whatever human rights are, EVERYONE says they're universal. You are simply wrong.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
kaysch wrote:
Trying to make a society work is a moral maxim.
Prove it. (…) And of course, any valid maxim will be in agreement with the categorical imperative... NO valid maxim can contradict.

What’s the point of doing that?

The point of doing it is because otherwise you are just spouting meaningless bullshit.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
You can't make a law that contradicts ethics, of course.

Of course you can. Take any tax haven jurisdiction, I don’t think the respective governments worried a lot about ethics when they set them up.

Yet again you have cherry-picked a sentence and replied out of context. I'm beginning to think you're not actually bothering to read what i write. You're certainly not comprehending it.

That sentence was the first sentence in a paragraph - which in turn was nestled between two other paragraphs - that made it clear i was talking about GOOD laws (or rational laws, either way). In fact, the next damn sentence says flat out that while you can make irrational laws, they are BAD laws.

Are tax haven laws GOOD laws? No? (Of course you know they're not - that's why you mentioned them.) My point is made.

If you are just skimming what i've written and picking out sentences to fire off sloppy replies to, tell me now, because i'd really like to stop wasting my time on you if that's true. Otherwise, i'll thank you not to quote me out of context. That's just flagrant intellectual dishonesty.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
imagine that race with no universally agreed upon course, where all the runners are running off in different directions according to their own whims. If one of those runners looked at you and said, "looks like i'm making great progress!", what would you think?

“By my own standard” means I must have a chance to measure his progress.

In other words, you can't actually answer the question i asked, so you'll change the parameters so you can.

I'm going to repeat the question, on the slim chance that you do have a shred of intellectual honesty: If there were a race with no universally agreed upon course, where all the runners are running off in different directions according to their whims... is... it... possible... to have... meaningful progress... in that race?

(Hint: the answer is no. That is why you cannot have moral progress if morals were subjective.)

Note: nowhere in there did i ask about "your own standard", because i don't care what that is. It doesn't matter. This is an objective fact. If there is no objective standard, there can be no meaningful progress. So if you are talking about moral progress, you are not a moral relativist.

kaysch wrote:
Indi wrote:
Simple subjectivism is wrong because (among other reasons), you don't get to have your own moral facts. It is not "intolerant" or a "violation of someone's freedom" to tell them so.

It’s one school of thought, like many others. You listed them in your paper. Each school of thought will have their good reasons why they are right and the others possibly wrong. Our debate illustrates that.

Uh, no. No one supports simple subjectivism. It even says so in that post; i know this, because i co-wrote the freaking thing. Even you don't believe it, despite your time-wasting pretences and dishonest mental gymnastics - i've shown that several times.

All our debate has "illustrated" is that you refuse to accept reason, and would rather use rhetorical acrobatics and debate-club nonsense like quoting dictionaries, complaining about tone, and waxing semantic ambiguity.

The facts remain the facts, despite your refusal to accept them.

kaysch wrote:
Indi, with all due respect: You are not my professor, and I haven’t walked into your office from the street.

kaysch, with all due respect: i did not say i was your professor. But you did "walk into my office from the street" in the sense that you - with absolutely no formal knowledge about morality or ethics - are telling me that i - with formal training and years of experience - am wrong about it.

If you truly think you are "pointing to weaknesses in my reasoning", you are delusional. There's no other gentler way to put it. Every single claim you have put forward, i have systematically demolished. Or rather: every single claim that you have put forward that i have managed to actually pin you down on and get a clear definition of, because you have been changing your claims and making contradictary and vague claims over and over. In fact the vast majority of our exchange has been my exasperated responses to your equivocating, introducing irrelevant crap, and refusing to concede points that are OBVIOUSLY true (usually by changing the subject yet again).

I have already highlighted several instances of this. What "weaknesses in my reasoning" do you even think to have spotted? Seriously, go ahead and list them.

Here, I'll do the same. These are the points you've made, and my responses:

  • You have REPEATEDLY made the claim that morality is not objective because different people have different opinions about it. I have lost count of how many times and how many ways i have explained that that claim is nonsense.
  • You have claimed that morality is not objective because we don't have a perfect moral theory that everyone agrees gives us all the answers. I have shown that claim is nonsense by pointing out that neither math nor physics has a perfect theory that everyone agrees on, yet you think those are objective.
  • You have claimed that morality is not objective because various other people have had conflicting moral opinions and each sincerely believed they were right. That is an obviously stupid claim.
  • You have claimed that morality is not objective because laws are based on morality and different countries have different laws. I have shown that claim is nonesense both by pointing out that laws are NOT based on morality (and shouldn't be - though they shouldn't conflict with morality) but also see the point above.
  • You have claimed that morality is not objective even though we have made moral progress. I have explained that "progress" is meaningless unless there is an objective standard, thus if you believe in moral progress, you believe morality is objective.
  • You have claimed that morality doesn't objectively progress (i know, that contradicts the previous point, but that's the kind of flip-flopping crap i've had to deal with for the whole discussion) the same way as math or science, and you "proved" that by pointing out there was no Wikipedia page describing the progress of morality. I have shown that claim is nonsense by showing you the Wikipedia page describing the progress of morality.
  • You have claimed that morality is not objective because there are no objective truths other than "natural science". I have shown that claim is nonsense by pointing to the objective truths in mathematics.
Did i miss anything? Do you have any other claims to make?

You know what, i'll even make it really easy for you. Here are my claims - none of which you have managed to answer:

  • Morality must be rational, because if it wasn't we couldn't reason about it (you can't reason about unreasonable things, duh) - and if we can't reason about morality, we can't possibly make rational statements like "rape is wrong because it makes people suffer". And if morality is rational, that means it is also objective.
  • If morality is rational, moral rules must either be logical (like mathematics) or empirical (like science). They are not empirical (anyone want to argue this?) therefore they are logical - just like mathematics (only applied to a different domain: the interactions of moral agents rather than sets and quantities).
  • The fact that we don't have one final, absolute, all-agreed-upon theory of morality no more disqualifies morality from being objective than do the facts that we don't have such theories for either math or science.
  • Moral knowledge has progressed - just like mathematical and scientific knowledge - over the ages (though morality is much younger than both science and math). Our knowledge and understanding of morality is far better now than it was a hundred years ago - in other words, we have made progress in morality, which would only be possible if morality were objective.
  • No one really believes morality is subjective. They may say so, but if you actually pin them down, you will invariably find that they believe morality is objective. Two things to check are a) whether they believe there is such thing as moral progress (eg. Martin Luther King Jr. is more moral than Adolf Hitler); and b) whether they really believe things are morally wrong merely as a matter of opinion.
  • No one really believes morality is subjective, part 2. Everyone believes that things like moral rights should be universal - they make no sense otherwise. There is not one single country or body in the entire world, in all of history, that has created a legal system based on relative morality.
  • Disagreements about morality are no more due to non-objectivity than are disagreements about science or mathematics. If people can disagree about those (which they can - eg. disputes between proponents of string theory and QLG), and come to wrong conclusions about them (which they do - eg. creationists), yet those things are still objective, then the same can true for morality. When two people have different beliefs about morality, one or both is wrong - their belief is either based on flawed reasoning, or simply flat-out ignoring reasoning (and using religion or ideology instead).
Those are just some of the things i have claimed that you have made no attempt to answer, preferring instead to run off on tangents and equivocate, and generally waste time.

kaysch wrote:
I believe that any judging of a moral behaviour must be carried out by an individual. Human beings base their decisions on intellect, but more than that on emotions. So an individual can only have his own subjective views, generated by a mix of intellect and emotions, influenced by all sorts of circumstances.

Nonsense. Humans are more than capable of making decisions without emotion clouding their judgement. How could we have possibly put people on the Moon and brought them back if we couldn't make decisions about the rocket without emotion getting in the way?

Even if it is true that we use emotion to make decisions BY DEFAULT, the fact is we are perfectly capable of making purely rational decisions. There is no reason why, if morality is purely rational (which it is), we would be incapable of making moral decisions... it's not like we can't solve math equations, after all, and those are just logic problems.

I can't even figure out what your point really is. Is it really that we can't make rational decisions because we have emotions? No, that sounds too stupid. Is it that morality can't be purely rational because our default mode of thought isn't purely rational? That would imply we are also unable to do math, which is ridiculous and obviously wrong. Is it that we shouldn't use morality because it's purely rational, while we are emotional creatures? I can't even figure out how that would make sense.

LxGoodies wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
nam_siddharth wrote:
1. Lying to ISIS about location of Yazidies and Jews.
Why would you be talking to ISIS in the first place?
Quote:
2. Lying about security code of your credit/debit card or bank lockers etc.
Why would you be giving false information to anyone? If someone asks for such information then you either give them the information - if there is a valid reason - or you don't.

In either case, you could be forced to tell them something. Lying is quite logical, unless you're a hostage in captivity. In that case it would make your situation worse.

I'd like to make two points.

First of all, morality applies to MORAL AGENTS... not "humans", and not just "people". Morality just doesn't make sense if you're trying to apply it to an intelligent being that is irrational; morality requires that everyone involved is rational. "Moral agent" really just means "something capable of reason and feeling" (or using bigger words: "sapient and sentient") - reason is required. Birds are quite intelligent, but not rational; we can't apply morality to birds.

If someone is a lunatic, like an ISIS fighter or a Nazi hunting Jewish people, or whatever - you can't apply morality to them. They're not being rational. They're insane. They may think they're rational, and they may even manage to sound rational, but if they're doing something like genocide or making videos of beheading people to create shock value... they're ****** nuts, man. And they're even more nuts if they expect moral agents (like you) to go along with it. (And if they know they actually have to threaten you to make you go along with it, even they know they're nuts.) You can't apply morality to them any more than you could apply a math equaltion to an nonsensical value... it just don't work.

What that means, in the end, is that there's nothing wrong with lying to such a person. So long as they're suffering from that insanty, they are not moral agents. Not only can you lie to them, you can even kill them if you have to - it is not immoral to shoot a person about to blow up a busload of innocents. (Of course, if you believe it is possible to cure them of their insanity, you have a moral obligation to do that first. You only kill them when you have no other reasonable option.)

Morality only applies to moral agents - you can NEVER lie to a moral agent. And unless you have a reason to think otherwise, the default assumption is that all humans are moral agents - which is why you should normally never lie to another human. HOWEVER... if you do have evidence that leads you to reasonably conclude that the human in front of you is not a moral agent - such as, for example, if they're about to saw someone's head off and post the video - moral rules don't apply. Whenever someone intends to act immorally, they are - by definition - irrational.. which means they're obviously not moral agents. That's why it is okay to do things to them that you can't normally do to moral agents - such as lying to them and using violence against them to stop them from acting immorally.

Incidentally, that's why it's not immoral to, say, lock up someone who is in some kind of dangerous state - for example, they're so intoxicated and out of control they're going to injure themselves or someone else. Normally locking someone up is immoral... but that only applies to moral agents. If someone is acting irrationally, they lose that privilege - they're not currently a moral agent - so it's not immoral to restrain them against their will. (Of course, if you have reason to believe that they will be a moral agent - for example, when the drugs/booze wears off - then you have to take that into account. You can't simply ship them off to a deserted island and forget about them. You have to restrain them, but the moment you suspect they have recovered their wits, you have to check them, and if they're rational again, you have to release them.)

The second thing i'd like to point out, though, is that if someone is FORCING you to do something... you cannot be held morally responsible for it regardless. If someone tells you "shoot that person or i'll blow your head off", you cannot be called "immoral" for shooting. Similarly, if someone is forcing you to do something immoral - like aid in the beheading of an innocent - you cannot be held morally accountable for whatever you do to get out that situation (unless you make a completely insane choice, naturally - you do still have an obligation to try to be as moral as practically possible given the circumstances). If you choose to turn on the person making the threat and kill them, for example, or if you just choose to lie to them... none of those things is immoral. When you are unable to freely make a choice, you can't seriously be held morally accountable for the choice you were forced to make. The only choices you can be held morally responsible for are choices you made freely.

But in all cases, always, you should strive to avoid doing something that could be immoral (if you did it to a moral agent)... just in case. Because when you think someone is not a moral agent... you might be wrong. Why take the risk, unless you have no choice. So if you have the choice, avoid anything that might be immoral as much as possible, unless you really can't help it. That means if someone walks up and asks for your debit card PIN number, don't lie; just don't tell them. On the other hand, if someone walks up and asks for your debit card PIN number or they'll hurt you (or someone else), then lie if you think that will prevent the lunatic from hurting anyone.

Another way to word that is: Even if you are not constrained by moral rules (that is, even when you're not dealing with a moral agent), you should still act always act rationally. Otherwise, you're acting irrationally - which is obviously bad.

So either way you want to look at it, morality doesn't really apply in those kinds of situations:
  • Morality is the "mathematics of interactions between moral agents". If you're not dealing with a moral agent, morality doesn't apply. If I tell a squirrel "the sky is pink with green polka dots", i have "lied" (but not really, because i didn't mislead the squirrel), but i haven't done anything immoral because the squirrel is not a moral agent. Normally humans are moral agents, but if you have evidence to the contrary - such as that the person is irrational, and if you act "morally" (ie, act as you would with a moral agent) they or others will be harmed - then you are under no obligation to give them the same respect as a moral agent.

  • If you're in a situation where you are being FORCED to do something immoral, it's not a situation where morality applies. You are judged (im)moral by the choices you make; you cannot be judged for choices forced on you.
LxGoodies
I'm puzzled.

Indi wrote:
Lying is ALWAYS wrong
Indi wrote:
When i say "moral relativism makes no sense", i mean that it literally does not make a lick of sense... it is fundamentally and intrinsically irrational. It basically says "x is y" and "x is not y" at the same time. It makes... no... sense.


.. absolute indeed, while you set certain constraints on the addressee,

Indi wrote:
consider what the asker intends to do with that information, and if its immoral it's okay to lie, otherwise don't lie
Indi wrote:
morality applies to MORAL AGENTS... not "humans", and not just "people". Morality just doesn't make sense if you're trying to apply it to an intelligent being that is irrational;
Indi wrote:
If someone is a lunatic, like an ISIS fighter or a Nazi hunting Jewish people, or whatever - you can't apply morality to them. They're not being rational. They're insane.


Your absolute approach would (indeed) have to limit moral behavior to a certain audience of rational and sensible people. Moreover, the addressee should share certain views on moral. Else, he or she will not meet your requirements of rationality, be a lunatic. That would render "morality" quite limited in scope, unapplicable in a lot of cases. The IS-jihadist does not comply indeed. But what are the implications.. if I can lie to an IS-Jihadist for any reason, can I kill him too ? when non-moral agents are involved, is it acceptable to nuke them ?
Indi
LxGoodies wrote:
I'm puzzled.

The source of your puzzlement is this:
LxGoodies wrote:
.. absolute indeed, while you set certain constraints on the addressee,

I do not, and have never, advocated moral absolutism. I have already explained this here:
Indi wrote:
You are confusing moral absolutism with moral universalism. Moral absolutism says that moral rules are absolute - if there is a rule that says killing is immoral, that rule is absolute: you can't kill ever, regardless of anything else. It doesn't matter who you are or what the situation is, the rule is the rule. In moral absolutism, the universal rules gives the same result every time.

Moral universalism says that rules are universal: the rules apply to everyone, but they do take the situation into account... though they take the situation into account the same way for everyone. So a moral rule may be "no killing except in self-defence". When the rule is applied, the situation is considered - if there was self defence, the killing was permissible; if not, it was immoral. In moral universalism, the universal rules may give different results, depending on the situation.

... and i even told YOU, directly, here:
Indi wrote:
... Stace is a moral universalist (so am i, by the way - i do not agree that morals are absolute, but i do say they are universal).

(The only times i have talked about "absolute" is when others have, and even then, mostly just to point out that when they say "it can't be absolute because...", their reasoning is wrong.)

Furthermore, i have already explained to you the last time you showed the same confusion that nothing i have said has anything to do with "constraints on the addressee" (other than that they're a moral agent, obviously).

LxGoodies wrote:
Moreover, the addressee should share certain views on moral. Else, he or she will not meet your requirements of rationality, be a lunatic.

What? Where does that come from?

This has nothing to do with "sharing views". It has to do with being rational or not. "Rational" is not a view.

Nor does it matter if anyone shares my "views" or not. If an ISIS fighter is being rational, then i MUST acknowledge them as a moral agent - regardless of how i feel about their politics or anything else. But if anyone - ISIS fighter or not; views are utterly irrelevant - is about to saw off someone's head... they ain't being rational. To repeat this yet again: your views are utterly irrelevant. Even if the person was a progressive humanist who believes in peace, if they were planning to saw off someone's head the moral conclusion is exactly the same.

Again, to repeat what i've already told you: Who the person is and what their "views" are is irrelevant - all that matters for moral judgement is whether they are rational or not, both in what they're doing now and in their intentions.

LxGoodies wrote:
The IS-jihadist does not comply indeed. But what are the implications.. if I can lie to an IS-Jihadist for any reason, can I kill him too ? when non-moral agents are involved, is it acceptable to nuke them ?

I've already explained this. In detail. -_- Do i have to repeat myself again?

From the top: You are always obligated to act rationally. I mean, that's obviously true. If you're not acting rationally, you're acting IRrationally, which we all know is bad, even when it's not actually immoral.

If you are dealing with a moral agent, you are also obligated to use the particular rational rules that apply to interactions between moral agents: morality. But even if you're not dealing with a moral agent, you are still obligated to act rationally. You are always obligated to act rationally, but you are not always obligated to act morally. Or, more precisely, you only can act morally with other moral agents, and you must - you can't act morally with non-moral agents like, say, inanimate objects, but you can still act rationally, and you must.

So the implications are this: Even though you are not obligated to act morally to a lunatic - or, more precisely, you CAN'T act morally to a lunatic (because they're not a moral agent - even if you insisted on telling them truth, you haven't done anything "moral") - you are still and always obligated to act rationally. You are not free to do whatever the hell pops into your head, like lying to them for shits and giggles, or nuking them for the hell of it.

To put it another way (or rather, to put it a way i've already put it before, but either you didn't read it or it didn't sink in), you are never free to lie to or kill a moral agent... but you are free to lie to or kill a non-moral agent if it is reasonable to do so. That means you can't just up and murder a person because they're not a moral agent (for example, if they're an ISIS lunatic, or even just if they're drunk or high), you need a reason to do it (for example, to save the life of the person they're about to behead, or because they drunk is about to do something that will hurt or kill others). But the point is, if you do have a reason, you can do things to a non-moral agent that you can't do to a moral agent.

Let me try a bullet summary:
  • You are always obligated to act rationally, no matter who or what you're dealing with. (That's just obviously true.)

  • "Morality" is just reason applied to interactions between moral agents. (Which means morality is rational, by definition. But it also means that not everything rational is moral; you need interacting moral agents for something rational to also be moral.)

  • When you are dealing with a moral agent, you are obligated to act rationally.

  • When you are dealing with a non-moral agent, you are obligated to act rationally.

  • When you are dealing with a moral agent, you are obligated to act morally.

  • When you are dealing with a non-moral agent, you are not obligated to act morally. (You simply can't. It's impossible. The word "moral" has no meaning in this context.)

  • More precisely, when dealing with a moral agent you must act rationally... and acting rationally with a moral agent is the definition of morality. When dealing with a non-moral agent you must act rationally... and acting rationally with a non-moral agent is not morality (because morality only applies to moral agents).

  • You still have to be rational when dealing with a non-moral agent - just because they're not a moral agent that doesn't mean you do whatever the hell you please with them.

  • You may have more options than you would when dealing with a moral agent - including things like deceiving them or using violence on them... but that doesn't mean you have free reign to do anything that pops into your head.

  • For example, if you see someone who is drunk and disorderly, you do have the option to restrain them (which you can't do to a moral agent) - you can lock them up until they sober up.

  • For example, if you see someone who is drunk and disorderly, you don't have the option to toss them in a dungeon, throw away the key, and forget about them. That is not rational, because you know they will be sober after a few hours, and then they'll probably be a moral agent once again. If you did just lock them up and forget about them, you would then be imprisoning a moral agent... which is immoral.

  • For example, if you see someone who is drunk and disorderly, you don't have the option to shoot them dead, usually. As above, you know they will sober up in a few hours, so it would be irrational to kill them. However, if they are threatening to harm someone else, and the most rational way to protect the potential victim is to shoot the drunk... then you can do it, because it is the rational thing to do. If it is reasonable, you do have that option, which you do not have with a moral agent (but then, a moral agent would be, by definition, acting rationally, so there would be no sense in shooting them).

  • For example, if you see someone who is drunk and disorderly, you don't have the option to rape them... because that would just be ridiculous - what would be the rational justification for doing that?

  • If you meet an ISIS lunatic, you don't have the option to lie to them for your entertainment. That just makes no sense. See why in the next point.

  • If you meet an ISIS lunatic, you do have the option to lie to them to save yourself or others. If you have been lying to them for the hell of it, of course, this won't work - they will know you as a liar, and won't trust you, so you probably won't end up saving yourself or anyone. On the other hand, if you have been acting rationally, you will have been telling them truth whenever it made sense to do so... so that if you are now forced to lie, they will be more inclined to trust you.

Clear now?

Ultimately there is only one "rule". EVERYTHING boils down to the one "rule"; or another way to put it is everything else is a consequence of that one "rule". It's not really a "rule" in the normal sense, it's more a statement that is tautologically true - impossible to deny, so long as you're sane. That "rule" is: It is rational to be rational.

Everything else arises from that. First there is the observation that you have to be rational, otherwise you're being irrational. Again, obvious and undeniable.

Then you just have to ask "what is moral?" Or "what is morality?" What do these things mean? And again, with a little thought the question answers itself: whatever "moral" is, it must be rational. It can't not be rational, because if morality is not rational, it is irrational... which means it would make no sense.

So "moral = rational"... except not quite, because there are some things that are rational that aren't moral. "2 + 2 = 5" is rational, but not moral. So we think about it some more, and ultimately the answer to that question becomes obvious too: morality is a limited application of reason - it is reason applied to people. But not just "people"; to the interactions between people. But still not just "people", because if morality is reason applied to the interaction between two people, it must be applied to the interaction between two rational people. Because if one or both of the two people are not rational, the interaction cannot be rational, which means it can't be morality (because morality is rational).

And lo, there it is. The only extra step is to replace "rational people" with "moral agent" for a bit more precision (because technically you don't need all the qualities of personhood that "people" have for morality to apply). And there is everything you need to know about morality - what it is and why it matters:
  • Morality is applied reason - the "mathematics" of interactions between moral agents.

  • Moral agents are "things" that can - at least - reason and perceive (or "feel"). Or to use technical terms: any thing that is sapient and sentient is a moral agent.

  • Note, "anything that IS sapient and sentient"... not anything that "might be", "was", or "will be tomorrow". Moral agency is not an intrinsic quality, it's a quality you can only have if, when, and while you satisfy the requirements.

  • Even when morality doesn't apply, reason still does. It always does.

  • Basically the only difference between moral agents and non-moral agents (in the context of this discussion) is that the former are rational, so you can treat them thus; while the latter are irrational, so you have to do whatever is reasonable to limit the harm they're doing.
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