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A question of faith - is faith immoral?






Is faith immoral?
No, i believe that faith is not immoral
50%
 50%  [ 7 ]
Yes, i believe that faith is immoral
14%
 14%  [ 2 ]
i actually used my head and realized both of the above were trick answers
28%
 28%  [ 4 ]
i'm a compulsive voter has has to vote even though there's no point
7%
 7%  [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 14

Indi
(Philosophers have a duty.)

(Just as the scientist has a duty to report his/her findings with as little bias as possible and as high a degree of accuracy as possible, even when those findings are in contradiction with what they believe; and the cleric has a duty to teach and live the teachings of their god, even when those teachings force him to make choices that challenge his personal desires; the philosopher has a duty to seek truth, even when the pursuit of that truth puts him/her at odds with the beliefs of the society he/she lives in. A philosopher who is afraid to question is no philosopher at all.)

(If you wish to challenge this view of what philosophy is, fine, but make another topic to do it. This topic has a specific purpose, and a specific question to consider. The only reason I mentioned any of this at all is because it is inevitable that someone will construe the idea of questioning faith as a challenge to "their" beliefs/religion, or religion in general. Nonsense. The purpose to questioning faith is simply because it is my philosophical duty to do so. Everything should be questioned. Faith is simply another thing.)

(If your post in this topic is going to be 1.) an objection to the very idea of questioning faith without any rational reason to support that objection, 2.) a retaliation/defence of something that you believe and/or why you believe it and/or should be allowed to believe it or 3.) insults to any person or group or belief, do not post in this topic. You are not welcome. Stay out. If you are willing to discuss the idea of whether or not faith is moral without resorting to insults about anyone or any group or anyone's beliefs, you are welcome. The topic is "is faith moral or immoral". Anything you post that is not directly answering and/or discussing that question is not welcome.)


A question of faith

Knowlege of the universe around you needs a source, and there are three commonly accepted sources for knowledge: evidence, reason and faith. You can know something because you have observed evidence of that thing being true. You can know something because you have reasoned using logic that it must be true. And you can know something because you have faith that it is true. It is faith that is being considered here.

(Most of the examples I have used have been adapted from William Clifford's 1877 essay The Ethics of Belief, because they are such good examples. My thesis is similar to his own, but not quite as broad. Which means that James' objections don't hold, so you're going to have to do a little thinking on your own.)

Can faith be immoral?

Can faith itself be immoral? Consider the following example:

The owner of an airline has a plane that he has had for many years. He knows that it is old and that it has given trouble in the past, and that it has spent a lot of time in the repair bay recently for troubles that the maintennance engineers are not certain have been solved. He knows that its airworthiness is questionable; his engineers have stated that they cannot be certain it is safe.

The plane is scheduled to make a flight with a hundred or so passengers.

Now consider the following three cases:

The owner has absolute and total faith that he is incapable of ignoring
The owner knows about the engineer's objections, but considers the engineer a fool who doesn't know what he's talking about (completely ignoring the engineer's knowledge and experience). He doesn't even believe that it's possible for the plane to crash. Such a thing is beyond conception. He has absolute and total faith in the plane. He is completely and totally convinced by his faith that that plane will fly, no matter what may happen.

Now, clearly this version of the owner is what we would consider insane. A complete submission to faith must mean a complete rejection of any evidence that contradicts the belief held. If evidence happens to agree with faith, then it will be "accepted", but neither the amount of evidence nor its quality is a factor in that decision. Evidence is absolutely meaningless to a person who has total faith.

Unfortunately, what falls under the category of evidence is information about the feelings and well-being of others. And if you never consider the well-being of others when making a decision, you can never make a moral decision - it's just impossible to be moral if you're not concerned about anything or anyone.

Therefore, a person with total faith can never be moral - and, additionally, would be insane. So I don't really see a need to consider such a person any further, so let's just forget about total faith.

(Get that? Let me make it clear. This discussion is not about total and absolute faith. That's not what anyone here should be talking about. If you want to talk about it, go somewhere else.)

The owner has no faith and acts only on evidence
The owner knows the engineer's objections, and he understands the reason for them. He's a little unsure about the airworthiness of the plane himself, because of all the problems its had. So, given no reason not to, he submits to the weight of the evidence and grounds the plane.

This may cause inconvenience to the passengers - perhaps severe inconvenience in some cases. For example, one of the passengers may have been flying for an emergency operation, and the delay could be dangerous or even fatal. But unless it was true for all passengers that it would be better to risk a potentially fatal journey than not (because their chance of death if they don't journey is significantly higher) - and for the pilot and crew too (!) - then it is still more moral to ground the plane than let it fly.

Therefore - except in the extreme case where death for all passengers and crew is very likely if they don't fly(*) - heeding the evidence and grounding the plane is always a moral decision.

(* If one were to follow the logic of the example, where the owner is being described as a person who acts rationally based on evidence alone, then it would follow that if he were aware of the additional information - that the passengers and crew face imminent death if they do not fly - then he would include that factor in their reasoning and act on it appropriately. Thus, even in the extreme case, the owner would still act morally.)

This will be the control case to use for comparisons.

The owner has faith and chooses to act on it, but is not a blind slave to it
Now, this is the case of interest.

In this case, the owner knows the engineer's objections, and he understands the reason for them. He's a little unsure about the airworthiness of the plane himself. But he believes the old bird will fly as true as she always has, because she's never let him down, and he's sure (by his faith) she never will. He has faith in his plane. So he allows the plane to make the scheduled flight.

The plane crashes and kills everyone on board.

Now, were the owner's actions immoral? Most would say yes without hesitation. He knew the airworthiness of the plane was questionable, but he let those concerns be supeseded by an irrational faith in the plane, resulting in the deaths of the passengers and crew.

What if the plane had not crashed? Is the owner now innocent? No, just lucky. The fact of the matter is that he still let the plane fly despite his own uncertainties, and despite the evidence that it was dangerous, and over the objections of those who knew there was a danger.

Whether or not it would inconvenience the passengers is not relevant in this case, because it is not a factor in his decision. Information about whether or not the passengers must fly falls under the heading of evidence, and it was established that in this case, faith is what guides the decision, not evidence.

So no matter the result, whether the plane crashes or not, acting on faith is immoral.

So, to summarize so far
The version of the owner that always considers the evidence and always acts rationally on it will always be moral, whenever it is possible to be moral (a lot of decisions are amoral - they can be neither moral or immoral - I'm not concerned with those). The version of the owner that always acts on faith without even being aware that they are acting on faith will never be moral (and is insane).

The version of interest is the one who is not insane - the one who is aware that they are relying on faith - but acts on it anyway. My argument is that that person is always immoral, too - because even if good comes out of their actions, it was just because they were lucky, not moral. In other words, it is always moral to act on the evidence you have, even if you're missing crucial information (as long as there is no evidential reason to assume you should know you're missing crucial information) and even if it ends badly because you did not have that crucial information (which there is no reason to believe you should have had).

Or to put it another way: when you're trying to determine the morality of a decision, the actual consequences of that decision don't matter. But the anticipated consequences do matter. And just as important is how you anticipate those consequences. It's just not good enough to say "well, i think if i do X, everything will turn out well" if you have no real reason to assume that doing X will turn out well. The point of what i showed above is that faith is not a good enough reason. If the only reason you have for assuming that doing X will turn out well is faith... your reason is bad, and taking action based on that would be immoral.

Other objections

Just to wrap up, i'm going to consider some other possible objections to the argument that faith is immoral, and try to deal with them briefly.

It is the action that is immoral, not the faith
Or in other words, it wasn't having faith in the plane that was immoral, it was letting the plane fly when the evidence suggested that it was unwise to that was immoral.

An interesting argument... but think about what it means if it's correct. It means that faith is off the hook for being immoral... but also rendered completely meaningless. It means you're free to believe whatever felgercarp you want to... as long as those beliefs never affect your actions. If that's your argument, congratulations... you've just wiped all religion off the face of the Earth by stripping it of any meaning it may have had.

Clearly you might want to consider that objection very carefully if that's what your objection is.

But let's take the objection seriously for a moment and see where it leads us. Suppose you have faith that X is true. Pretend first that the evidence also shows that X is true. So when it's time to act... you act as if X is true. Which is the right thing to do. But are you acting on faith... or evidence? Let's find out: now pretend that the evidence shows that X is not true. What do you do? Your faith says that X is true. The evidence says that X is not true. From the example with the plane, i already showed that if you act on faith, you're acting immorally, whether X is true or not. And from the same example, if you act on the evidence, you're acting morally, again whether X is actually true or not. Going back to the first part of this example, it follows that if you acted on faith you were being immoral and if you acted on evidence you were being moral... because even though both actions would have been the same, the reasons for those actions would have been different.

So it is not the action itself that determines whether the action is moral or immoral. It is the reason for that action - which (in this discussion) is either faith... or evidence.

Faith is necessary
Maybe....

When you have no evidential reason to decide something (and no logical reason to), then the only option remaining is to take a leap of faith. You have no choice... literally. The only option is faith, so you might as well take it, or your only remaining choice would be to believe nothing, which is often impossible and frequently unwise, or pick a belief randomly.

For example, from a certain perspective, you cannot know that the sun will rise tomorrow. Yes, you have lots of evidence that it has every day in the past, but the problems of induction are well known. Aside from faith, there is no way to know the sun will rise tomorrow.

But to function as a human being - as a living organism even - you have to make that leap of faith. You have to live today as if there will be tomorrow... or you won't last long. You need to take that leap of faith.

In cases where faith in unavoidable in order to exist and function, then it can hardly be immoral. i believe killing is immoral, but i have to kill thousands and thousands of organisms every day just in the process of digestion. It's not a perfect world, and sometimes we have to do things that would normally be immoral in order to contine to exist. In those cases, faith would be acceptable, if only because of pragmatism.

However! Consider this.

Maybe you don't need to know that the sun will rise tomorrow. Maybe you just need to bet that it will. You have a choice today whether to live for today only or make sure you're prepared for tomorrow, too. The odds - given the overwhelming evidence so far - are that the world will still be here tomorrow. So, play the odds. Faith not required.

So, basically, faith may not be necessary... but even if it is, it would only be excusable in cases where it is absolutely necessary, and cannot be avoided.

You have to have faith at some point because no one can learn everything themselves
This is a special case of the previous objection. It goes like this: it is simply impossible to check the evidence for everything you "know", even when evidence exists. You know caffeine isn't good for you... but you're not about to run an experiment with a control group to make sure. You have to trust the scientists who told you that it's bad for you... you have to have faith in them.

Only... that's not true. Trusting someone's knowlege and/or experimental findings is not the same as having faith in them. Because if you have no faith in them at all, you can (theoretically) check their results yourself, or rely on others to do so. Furthermore, you have reason to believe the word of an scientist studying something - their knowledge and experience.

Of course, if you press you could start arguing about why you should assume their knowlege and experience means anything, or why you shouldn't assume a global conspiracy to fool you, etc. etc. But then you're just going back to the previous objection.

It may not be possible to not have faith in something (you can't turn faith on and off like a light)
Quite possibly true... but not an excuse.

If it is true that faith is immoral (as i argued with the example above), then if you are a moral person, you have a duty to try and determine what parts of your knowlege rely on faith and which don't... and to replace knowlege that relies on faith with knowlege that doesn't. It's as simple as that.

Maybe it's not possible to determine every bit of your knowlege that relies on faith... but if you're serious about being a moral person, you have to make a serious attempt. There's no excuse not to.

Some things to consider and discuss

These are suggested topics you could consider, but they're not exhaustive. The topic is whether or not faith itself may be immoral, so anything relevant applies.
  1. Are there any other means - other than observation/evidence, reason/logic and faith - to come by knowlege? If there were, would that change the argument presented here?
  2. The example i gave - the example with the plane (based on Clifford's shipowner example) - makes a pretty damning case for faith, or at least actions based on faith-derived knowlege, being immoral (later i show that it's not just the action but the faith itself that is immoral). Is it possible to come up with an example that shows that faith is moral? Try it, if you think so (but be careful... it's really hard, if it's even possible).
  3. Is it true (especially considering the example) that using faith as a foundation for knowlege or action is always immoral? Is it true that using evidence as a basis for knowlege or action is always moral (assuming that you're trying to do good)?
  4. Is it possible to say faith itself can be immoral, or can you go no further than saying using faith to determine action and knowlege is immoral? But if action determined by faith is always immoral, never moral, doesn't that make faith immoral?
HereticMonkey
Just so we're clear: You're not discussing religious faith, but "trusting" faith. Just as an observation...

Indi wrote:

These are suggested topics you could consider, but they're not exhaustive. The topic is whether or not faith itself may be immoral, so anything relevant applies.
  1. Are there any other means - other than observation/evidence, reason/logic and faith - to come by knowlege? If there were, would that change the argument presented here?

There's also a combination of the three, which forms the basis of most teaching: showing the evidence, allowing for experimentation, messing with the logic, and faith that the teacher knows what he's doing. You're also ignoring that a number of scientists and philosophers have debated instinctual knowledge as well as racial memory. Just as a side note...

Quote:
  • The example i gave - the example with the plane (based on Clifford's shipowner example) - makes a pretty damning case for faith, or at least actions based on faith-derived knowlege, being immoral (later i show that it's not just the action but the faith itself that is immoral). Is it possible to come up with an example that shows that faith is moral? Try it, if you think so (but be careful... it's really hard, if it's even possible).

  • Actually, the evidence backed the faith, and you described the person as insane, so the example was pretty well stacked. The airplane is either ready to fly or not; if the plane is ready, it flies, if not, it doesn't. The engineer has the final say; the owner may be able to countermand that, but usually won't without good evidence.

    Given that we aren't discussing religious faith, deciding that faith is immoral is not applicable here; it is, as you noted, a way to gain knowledge. It's also necessary for day-to-day business; without faith that you will hold up your end of the bargain, then I wouldn't be bargaining with you in the first place. As such, faith in and of itself is not immoral, or moral, any more than air or water.

    Quote:
  • Is it true (especially considering the example) that using faith as a foundation for knowlege or action is always immoral? Is it true that using evidence as a basis for knowlege or action is always moral (assuming that you're trying to do good)?

  • Again, neither are either moral or immoral.

    Quote:
  • Is it possible to say faith itself can be immoral, or can you go no further than saying using faith to determine action and knowlege is immoral? But if action determined by faith is always immoral, never moral, doesn't that make faith immoral?
  • [/quote]
    A gun is neither moral or immoral, even if used in a murder. Faith cannnot be moral or immoral, whereas the person can be.

    So, any more high school philosophy questions?

    HM
    The Conspirator
    Yes, it is immoral.
    Its best to base belief on evidence, if you don't have conclusive evidence its best to base beliefs probability and if you have nothing, ether guess, go with what you like, or take a chance.
    But believing something with out or despite evidence, that is foolish and can be very dangerous. And it dose not lead to any grater understanding of the universe, only ignorants.
    HereticMonkey
    But don't you need faith in the evidence being presented truthfully, as well being appropriate to the situation at hand?

    HM
    Indi
    The Conspirator wrote:
    Its best to base belief on evidence, if you don't have conclusive evidence its best to base beliefs probability and if you have nothing, ether guess, go with what you like, or take a chance.

    When you get to the point where you have nothing, and you're guessing, why not use faith at that point? Is it still immoral even then?
    Aredon
    It should be noted that false understanding can be gained from facts and experiments if in the wrong context. Likewise I disagree with calling the first example "faith", it sounds more like ignorant reasoning. (the plane won't crash becuase it hasn't yet.) In my reading of that example it sounds more like the man has reached his conclusion based on "facts" that are not true. (example: doesn't believe the plane can crash)

    So from that example I conclude there is a vast difference between the "total faith" and blind conclusion derived from false facts and perhaps a touch of faith in the trustworthyness of the plane. In truth the use of the word faith in the example might be slightly misleading as it sounds as though he is more attached to the plane than he has faith in it. In the end even if he does blindly think his plane will fly no matter what and no one will get hurt, faith was a contributer, not the cause. The cause was egotistic thought, in that only he can be right. (on a side note i would also like to add that there is also a difference between blind faith and justified faith, likewise single-minded faith is different (which, assuming there is faith in this example, is the kind decribed.))


    I agree with example two in that it is most likely more moral to ground the plane than to let it fly.


    Your last example is a far better example of faith possibly being immoral. I would agree that in this case it is possible for faith to be immoral, but I think it is more his choice that was immoral. As he could have had faith in the plane, and not said to fly it. He would have still believed in the plane's ability to fly but chose not to take the risk. So in the last case my opinion is it was his choice that was immoral not his faith.

    At the moment, unless you were to provide a different example, I'm going to say that faith itself cannot be immoral but some actions that may result from poor conclusions based on faith may very well be wrong.

    And no, by stating this arguement I am not removing faith's value. Actualy I do not even fully understand that very sarcastic counter-arguement. I fail to see how having faith but acting against it removes its meaning, it is still there, it is still nagging at you. Choosing to ignore it hardly drains its meaning or its existence.
    The Conspirator
    Indi wrote:
    The Conspirator wrote:
    Its best to base belief on evidence, if you don't have conclusive evidence its best to base beliefs probability and if you have nothing, ether guess, go with what you like, or take a chance.

    When you get to the point where you have nothing, and you're guessing, why not use faith at that point? Is it still immoral even then?

    Cause if you take it by faith, when/if evidence dose come in it dose not matter what the evidence says you would still fallow choice you made.
    Indi
    You're reading a lot of stuff into the examples (and everything else i wrote) that wasn't actually put there. Don't read between the lines, read the lines.

    For example:
    Aredon wrote:
    Likewise I disagree with calling the first example "faith", it sounds more like ignorant reasoning. (the plane won't crash becuase it hasn't yet.) In my reading of that example it sounds more like the man has reached his conclusion based on "facts" that are not true. (example: doesn't believe the plane can crash)

    In the first example, i didn't say the owner did not believe the plane wouldn't crash because it hadn't yet. i said quite clearly and quite explicitly why the owner believes the plane won't crash: "He doesn't even believe that it's possible for the plane to crash. Such a thing is beyond conception. He has absolute and total faith in the plane. He is completely and totally convinced by his faith that that plane will fly, no matter what may happen." It's all right there. You put that "the plane won't crash because it hasn't yet" thing in there, because it's nowhere in what i wrote. Most damning of all... i didn't even say that the plane had not crashed before (in that example). You made that fact up. Read back and see. Nowhere in the prologue or in the first example do i say the plane has never crashed before.

    (Of course, if the plane has crashed before and the owner still has absolute faith that it won't crash (again), then he's even crazier than i described him. That's just stacking the deck though, so you're free to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that it hasn't crashed yet. Doesn't really matter either way though, because the owner is clearly described in that example as basing his decision on 100% pure faith - no facts, true or false, required... which would include the fact of whether or not the plane has crashed before.)

    In that example, the owner is not basing his conclusion on any "facts", true or false. In fact, he isn't even considering them - he's ignoring them completely. The only factor in his decision is his faith in the plane... nothing else.

    Is it an unrealistic example? Yes... anyone who relies only on faith to the total exclusion of any evidence or reasoning is (as i showed) insane. They wouldn't be able to function in reality, and even if they did, they would be totally and absolutely immoral. But it was never intended to be the main example of interest - it was just a set up for the other examples (and eliminating one more possibility).

    And another example of you inserting your own facts into the example:
    Aredon wrote:
    So from that example I conclude there is a vast difference between the "total faith" and blind conclusion derived from false facts and perhaps a touch of faith in the trustworthyness of the plane. In truth the use of the word faith in the example might be slightly misleading as it sounds as though he is more attached to the plane than he has faith in it. In the end even if he does blindly think his plane will fly no matter what and no one will get hurt, faith was a contributer, not the cause. The cause was egotistic thought, in that only he can be right. (on a side note i would also like to add that there is also a difference between blind faith and justified faith, likewise single-minded faith is different (which, assuming there is faith in this example, is the kind decribed.))

    Nowhere in any example did i say that the owner was "attached" to the plane. You put that there yourself. There's no reason the owner can't hate the plane. Maybe he even wants it to break down permanently just to get rid of it, collect the insurance and buy a new one, but it's been very dependable and lasted much longer than it was supposed to. All i said was that he has faith that it will not crash. i didn't say he liked it.

    In the first two examples, i said the owner had faith that the plane would fly. That's all. There's nothing in there about whether he likes it or not, whether it's crashed before or not, or whether it was one of the first planes he ever owned and now he's attached to it, etc. etc. Don't put nonsense into the examples that isn't already there - yes, technically it can all be accounted for without changing the conclusions... but that just overcomplicates the examples and the discussion. Keep it simple, keep it clear.

    Aredon wrote:
    It should be noted that false understanding can be gained from facts and experiments if in the wrong context.

    It was noted. Read the second and third paragraph in the section under "So, to summarize so far".

    Aredon wrote:
    Your last example is a far better example of faith possibly being immoral. I would agree that in this case it is possible for faith to be immoral, but I think it is more his choice that was immoral. As he could have had faith in the plane, and not said to fly it. He would have still believed in the plane's ability to fly but chose not to take the risk. So in the last case my opinion is it was his choice that was immoral not his faith.

    All of that was already mentioned in the section called "It is the action that is immoral, not the faith". But to answer your specific objection:

    "As he could have had faith in the plane, and not said to fly it. He would have still believed in the plane's ability to fly but chose not to take the risk."... if faith told him it was ok to fly, and something else told him it was not, then faith was not the source of his decision.

    In other words, here is a guy with a simple yes/no choice to make (i made it a simple yes/no choice in order to keep the analysis simple). He has two things guiding his decision, faith and evidence, and each overwhelmingly supports a certain conclusion (again, i made this so black and white in order to make the comparison between faith and evidence crystal clear... if the evidence were not clear cut, then this would not be a discussion about faith, it would be a discussion about the proper way to weigh evidence). Faith says yes, evidence says no (once again, if they both said the same thing, we would learn nothing). The guy has to choose.

    If he chooses faith, then he answers yes. If he chooses evidence, then he answers no. The example is designed that way to remove the grey areas that come up in fuzzy logic when you start assigning weights and probabilities to decision factors.

    So, your objection does not fly. If he lets faith guide his decision, he makes an immoral decision... regardless of whether the plane crashes or not. If he lets evidence guide his decision, he may make a mistake, but it will always be a moral decision. And there's no way he can compromise. He must choose, faith and fly, or evidence and ground. If he chooses "not to take the risk", then he is abandoning faith in favour of evidence.

    Aredon wrote:
    At the moment, unless you were to provide a different example, I'm going to say that faith itself cannot be immoral but some actions that may result from poor conclusions based on faith may very well be wrong.

    And no, by stating this arguement I am not removing faith's value. Actualy I do not even fully understand that very sarcastic counter-arguement. I fail to see how having faith but acting against it removes its meaning, it is still there, it is still nagging at you. Choosing to ignore it hardly drains its meaning or its existence.

    It was not a sarcastic counter-argument - if you saw sarcasm there you put it there yourself. To strip faith of it's power to guide knowlege and action is to pull the rug out from under anything - any knowlege or any action - that has ever used faith as justification. You would be saying that everyone that has ever died for faith was a fool. You would be saying that every bit of human knowlege held by faith is meaningless - which writes off almost all religion. i put it that way because saying that faith is good but action based on faith is wrong seems at first a very tempting politically correct safe way out of the dilemma... but it's not. And i wanted a schockingly clear statement to point that out - and to make it clear that it is no compromise, even though it looks like one. You'll notice i then went on to point out exactly why this is the case in more detail. There was no sarcasm unless you put it there yourself.

    The examples were designed to create a clear case of when faith and evidence contradict, and a choice must be made between them. In most cases in reality, it's not so clear because faith and evidence don't usually contradict so obviously, and evidence is usually not so clear-cut - but those factors just raise the level of complexity of the decision, they don't change the fundamental problem.

    So forget those more complex situations - are they're doing is clouding the issue. i showed that when it really comes down to it, acting on faith is always immoral and acting on evidence is always moral.

    If you accept that and then say "but it's ok to have faith, as long as you don't act on it", how have you not stripped faith of all meaning? You're saying "you can have faith... just don't use it". If you can't use it to decide action, what do you have left? Nothing. Faith is a motivator of action. Whenever faith doesn't motivate action, it serves no purpose at all and might as well not exist. If i have total and absolute faith without any question at all that cheese will kill me if i eat it... but then don't let that faith guide my actions at all and eat cheese whenever it gets offered to me... what really does my faith mean? Nothing at all. It's less meaningful than even mild superstition in that case.

    You can't separate faith from action. Action is what gives faith meaning. And since all action based on faith is immoral... and faith is the cause of all that action... doesn't that make faith immoral, too?

    The Conspirator wrote:
    Cause if you take it by faith, when/if evidence dose come in it dose not matter what the evidence says you would still fallow choice you made.

    But as long as there is no evidence, isn't it ok to believe something on faith? i mean, assuming you abandon that faith when/if the evidence turns up.

    i mean, obviously i agree that faith is immoral when evidence exists... but if, like you said, you have a case where you have no evidence at all - nothing to base your decision on, to the point where you're just flipping a coin or making blind guesses - is it still immoral to have faith then?

    And obviously, sticking to faith after evidence comes in is immoral... but what about until it comes in?
    HereticMonkey
    Here's the deal: You are saying that the plane has been debatable for a while, and the engineers have been over the ship recently. The plane has had a record of problems, and that the engineers are not certain that it will be safe to fly.

    The evidence:
    1) It has been flown without incident. There have been problems, but it has still flown.
    2) The engineers are not certain that it will be safe. They haven't signed off on it one way or the other.

    Now, the owner has two options here:
    A) He can junk it, possibly getting a new plane.
    B) He can let it fly, possibly getting sued by the relatives of the people that died.

    Now, Option A is the safer option, as well as the cheaper one, and the better PR one. At the same time, Option B may be riskier, but a positive result (the plane works okay) means that there is a cheaper option still.

    All this means is that either option is acceptable from a purely business sense. The engineers haven't presented a strong case either way; they have a problem, but the problem isn't big enough to just scrap the plane, so they're asking their supervisor how to proceed.

    Based on the evidence, I would continue to allow the plane to fly. The evidence shows that it has been flying with problems and has made it to where it is supposed to go every time. Ironically, faith would say that you're going to stop being lucky some time (after all, faith allows for hunches that logic doesn't).

    HM
    The Conspirator
    Indi wrote:
    The Conspirator wrote:
    Cause if you take it by faith, when/if evidence dose come in it dose not matter what the evidence says you would still fallow choice you made.

    But as long as there is no evidence, isn't it ok to believe something on faith? i mean, assuming you abandon that faith when/if the evidence turns up.

    i mean, obviously i agree that faith is immoral when evidence exists... but if, like you said, you have a case where you have no evidence at all - nothing to base your decision on, to the point where you're just flipping a coin or making blind guesses - is it still immoral to have faith then?

    And obviously, sticking to faith after evidence comes in is immoral... but what about until it comes in?

    But the problem with the very nature of faith, when that evidence comes in people would be reluctant except it too completely dismissing it no matter how strong it is.
    Indi
    The Conspirator wrote:
    Indi wrote:
    The Conspirator wrote:
    Cause if you take it by faith, when/if evidence dose come in it dose not matter what the evidence says you would still fallow choice you made.

    But as long as there is no evidence, isn't it ok to believe something on faith? i mean, assuming you abandon that faith when/if the evidence turns up.

    i mean, obviously i agree that faith is immoral when evidence exists... but if, like you said, you have a case where you have no evidence at all - nothing to base your decision on, to the point where you're just flipping a coin or making blind guesses - is it still immoral to have faith then?

    And obviously, sticking to faith after evidence comes in is immoral... but what about until it comes in?

    But the problem with the very nature of faith, when that evidence comes in people would be reluctant except it too completely dismissing it no matter how strong it is.

    That's not a problem with faith, that's a problem with some people. There's no reason you can't have faith in somethin until you have evidence against. Like if you had a brother who was a pilot, and he crashed in the middle of the Amazon, you have no reason to believe he's alive or dead. You got no evidence either way. So... you can have faith that he's alive - and I'm not talkin about gambling that he's alive, I'm talkin about really believing, even knowing, that he's alive without any evidence to back that up. Is that immoral? I don't think so.

    But when the evidence comes in that starts to suggest that he's dead, it would be immoral to go on keeping up the faith that he's still alive. Oh, sure, you can hope that he's still alive, but once you got evidence that he's not, you gotta start takin the real life steps you gotta take - closing down his affairs and so on.

    If you wanna say that it's just the nature of faith that once you have it you can never let it go, I say alright, prove it. "That's just the way it is" is not proof. Lots of people have abandoned their faith when evidence against came up, and if you want a name, I can say either Bill Clifford (who wrote the essay that Indi based this on), or hell, Darwin.
    Jaan
    Dunno... will we ever?
    What's the point of asking this, aside from being an interesting subject when you're bored?
    xD
    Live on.
    Aredon
    wait wait wait, if
    Quote:
    If that's your argument, congratulations... you've just wiped all religion off the face of the Earth by stripping it of any meaning it may have had.
    isn't a sarcastic bash on a possible arguement to your point, I do not know what is.

    I very much doubt that the man in example one would "hate" the plane he had total faith in. On a side note, yes, I did insert some things that can be concluded from the example. The fact of the matter is "faith" of that kind (non-religious) is typicaly based on reasoning. I'm saying that his reasoning was flawed in that he assumed that the plane was not going to crash based on the evidence presented (that it had flown with problems and reached its destination every time). So I provided what would have been a summary of his flawed thought process, it was in no way a quote from your paragraph.

    Even if you are using the word faith to mean belief that the plane will fly true his belief is still based on knowledge, which is effectively, not faith. Becuase faith is believing something without proof.


    Quote:
    Faith is a motivator of action

    Yeah... which means faith is a contributer to a possible choice, making the choice the final result to be judged as immoral or moral... not the faith.

    If the evidence used to make a choice is flawed. Which is deemed wrong, the choice or the evidence?


    Quote:
    You can't separate faith from action. Action is what gives faith meaning. And since all action based on faith is immoral... and faith is the cause of all that action... doesn't that make faith immoral, too?

    Please prove to me how all action based on faith is immoral. (if i give a homeless man a dollar becuase i have faith he will buy food with it... is that immoral?)


    Quote:
    ... if faith told him it was ok to fly, and something else told him it was not, then faith was not the source of his decision.
    Correct, but faith was present none the less.



    In conclusion you have not yet shown me a way that faith can be deemed "immoral", but I can provide you with one:
    Becuase morality is relative to the society that holds it, if a person were to believe sacrificing a child to the sun will "power it" becuase their faith told them it does. In their society this would be moral, in ours far from it.

    Note that this is a reference to the belief that sacrificing is immoral, it is in no way addressing the action, which in our society is also immoral.

    In this way faith can be immoral based on perspective, as morality and immorality are relative.


    However, in the examples you provided, as i have said, you have not convinced me that faith can be immoral within the confines of your examples' frame of reference.
    The Conspirator
    Indi wrote:
    The Conspirator wrote:
    Indi wrote:
    The Conspirator wrote:
    Cause if you take it by faith, when/if evidence dose come in it dose not matter what the evidence says you would still fallow choice you made.

    But as long as there is no evidence, isn't it ok to believe something on faith? i mean, assuming you abandon that faith when/if the evidence turns up.

    i mean, obviously i agree that faith is immoral when evidence exists... but if, like you said, you have a case where you have no evidence at all - nothing to base your decision on, to the point where you're just flipping a coin or making blind guesses - is it still immoral to have faith then?

    And obviously, sticking to faith after evidence comes in is immoral... but what about until it comes in?

    But the problem with the very nature of faith, when that evidence comes in people would be reluctant except it too completely dismissing it no matter how strong it is.

    That's not a problem with faith, that's a problem with some people. There's no reason you can't have faith in somethin until you have evidence against. Like if you had a brother who was a pilot, and he crashed in the middle of the Amazon, you have no reason to believe he's alive or dead. You got no evidence either way. So... you can have faith that he's alive - and I'm not talkin about gambling that he's alive, I'm talkin about really believing, even knowing, that he's alive without any evidence to back that up. Is that immoral? I don't think so.

    But when the evidence comes in that starts to suggest that he's dead, it would be immoral to go on keeping up the faith that he's still alive. Oh, sure, you can hope that he's still alive, but once you got evidence that he's not, you gotta start takin the real life steps you gotta take - closing down his affairs and so on.

    If you wanna say that it's just the nature of faith that once you have it you can never let it go, I say alright, prove it. "That's just the way it is" is not proof. Lots of people have abandoned their faith when evidence against came up, and if you want a name, I can say either Bill Clifford (who wrote the essay that Indi based this on), or hell, Darwin.

    You have a point.
    But how is having faith in "this" when there is no evidence any different than choosing what feels the best or randomly?
    Indi
    Aredon wrote:
    wait wait wait, if
    Quote:
    If that's your argument, congratulations... you've just wiped all religion off the face of the Earth by stripping it of any meaning it may have had.
    isn't a sarcastic bash on a possible arguement to your point, I do not know what is.

    Most people don't bother to read through a long post carefully, they skim it. Example: you didn't see stuff that was there, and you saw stuff that wasn't.

    The first and most obvious objection to the plane owner example is that his faith wasn't immoral, but his action was. It's also the standard objection fielded by all religions - usually as a way demonizing extremists while still retaining the moral right for the more moderate members of the congregation. How many times have you heard Christians saying Jim Kopp is evil because of his actions, but Christianity is off the hook despite being the motivator of those actions? Or Muslims saying that Ibn Laden is evil because of his actions, but Islam is off the hook despite being his primary motivator? It's just the rote objection that gets rolled off the tongue without thinkin anymore.

    Because of those two facts, we pretty much expected that we were gonna have a ton of people poppin in, makin that objection, then poofing. Basically just spam in the discussion. And even those that did stick around, we would have to repeat the same answer over and over, even though it's right in the opening post.

    So we took steps to stop that before it even started. We put that little bit right under the title of the objection - just one quick paragraph to clarify the claim, and then another short paragraph designed to make you stop and go "whoa... hang on". In that first paragraph, we didn't even bother to say why, we just said, basically, "if you claim that, it means this, congralations, you've destroyed religion", and then under that a sentence on its own sayin "ya, that didn't work"... and then the actual discussion begins. It was designed to make the skimmer stop abruptly and say, "what just happened?", and then actually read the response in depth.

    And it worked. ^_^; You missed a bunch of other stuff in the text, but you didn't miss that. In fact, that's like the only challenge you addressed directly. You didn't buy it, but at least you acknowleged it.

    If you're determined to read that as sarcastic, carry on, dude. I can't stop ya. But you gotta figure that since we're the ones that actually wrote it, we'd have a better idea of what the intended tone was. It was intended to control the responses of the people reading it, and so far, looks like it's workin.

    Aredon wrote:
    I very much doubt that the man in example one would "hate" the plane he had total faith in.

    Ya? Why so? Faith doesn't require love. A lot of people have faith that the devil exists... they certainly don't love him.

    I had a piece of shit car once, and I hated that damn thing. I remember one summer, I was sure it would make it to winter but not through winter, even though it never really gave any trouble. I had no evidence, just faith that the friggin thing would finally choke when it got cold enough, but not before. If my faith had been misplaced and it finally died in the fall, then unlike the plane owner, no real harm would have been done.

    But other than that, what's the difference? I had a vehicle that I had faith would last (until winter). The plane owner had a vehicle that he had faith would last (never really specified until when - judgement day? - you could assume all time if you wanted). I totally hated my car... so why do you say it's so unlikely the plane owner hated his plane?

    Aredon wrote:
    The fact of the matter is "faith" of that kind (non-religious) is typicaly based on reasoning.

    WHOA! Stop right there.

    No. Just no.

    If it is based on reasoning, it can't be faith. By definition.

    Faith is faith is faith, whether you have faith in a religious belief or a secular one. It doesn't matter what you have faith in... what we're talkin about here is the faith itself.

    If you have reason for believing the plane will fly, then... why do you need faith? You don't. Just go with the evidence.

    The example was designed to draw a clear, bright line between evidence/reason and faith. If you turn around and now say that the faith in question has a reason, you're just changing the example to take away that line. Yes, sometimes faith coincides with reason. That was already mentioned. But faith does not need to coincide with reason, and it sure isn't based on it.

    Aredon wrote:
    I'm saying that his reasoning was flawed in that he assumed that the plane was not going to crash based on the evidence presented (that it had flown with problems and reached its destination every time). So I provided what would have been a summary of his flawed thought process, it was in no way a quote from your paragraph.

    Ya, what you're doin is changing the example to make it more suitable to your argument. The first example, the man was just nuts. He didn't use reason at all, he used faith only - faith that had no overlap with evidence or logic. He totally ignored all reason and evidence - he just used his faith to determine his action. You're just asserting he did use reason - despite the fact that in the example it was made clear that he didn't - and then saying his reasoning was flawed.

    Nope, no go. In the first example, the plane owner based all of his knowlege and actions on faith and faith only. If you ask "well why did he think..." the answer is "faith". If you ask "what reason did he have to believe..." the answer is "faith". Faith, pure faith, nothing else - and then in the third example we contrasted it with reason, pure reason, and nothing else (and the second example, the guy could go either way).

    Aredon wrote:
    Even if you are using the word faith to mean belief that the plane will fly true his belief is still based on knowledge, which is effectively, not faith. Becuase faith is believing something without proof.

    Ya, it's based on knowlege acquired by faith. He has no proof that the plane will fly. In fact, he has lots of evidence that it won't. I don't get where your objection's comin from at all, unless you've redefined the word faith to mean "not faith, but reason" like you tried to above.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Faith is a motivator of action

    Yeah... which means faith is a contributer to a possible choice, making the choice the final result to be judged as immoral or moral... not the faith.

    Greed is also a contributor to a possible choice. Isn't greed immoral? Hate is a contributor to a possible choice. You're sayin hate is guiltless?

    Well, let's not stop there - concern for my fellow humans is a motivator of action. That means nothing now?

    Aredon wrote:
    If the evidence used to make a choice is flawed, which is deemed wrong. The choice or the evidence?

    It doesn't matter whether evidence is true or false, just like it doesn't matter whether what you have faith in is true or false. If you have evidence, and you use that evidence to make a choice, that choice is always moral (assuming you use that evidence morally - see the original post). Was the evidence flawed? Doesn't matter. The results not so good? Doesn't matter. You made the absolute best decision you could have made by using the evidence you had.

    Same for faith. If you have faith and you use that faith to make a choice, that choice is always immoral (assuming you have any other options, which I'll talk about in a minute). Was the faith correct? Doesn't matter. Results good/bad? Doesn't matter. You based the decision on faith rather than on evidence, and thus it was an immoral decision.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    You can't separate faith from action. Action is what gives faith meaning. And since all action based on faith is immoral... and faith is the cause of all that action... doesn't that make faith immoral, too?

    Please prove to me how all action based on faith is immoral. (if i give a homeless man a dollar becuase i have faith he will buy food with it... is that immoral?)

    Excellent question, and it ties in with what The Conspirator has been talkin about:
    The Conspirator wrote:
    But how is having faith in "this" when there is no evidence any different than choosing what feels the best or randomly?

    Both questions are related.

    First, I gotta make some things clear. In this case, we're talkin about an instance where you have no evidence. None at all. You have no idea of what this guy is gonna do with the money - not even statistically speaking. You have absolutely no reason to believe this guy is gonna buy food (or not buy food) except for faith.

    Now, if you got absolutely no reason to believe any one outcome over any others, that means that, so far as you know, all outcomes have equal probabilities. The guy could use the money to:
    • Buy food.
    • Buy crack.
    • Donate to charity.
    • Buy a handgun to rob a liquor store.
    • Wipe his ass with it.
    • To roll up and smoke in a money cigar made up of the cash poor suckers have given him after he's got up and walked around the corner and got in his limousine to drive back to his mansion.
    • ... or anything else....
    And you have no way to determine which. In fact, you can't even say which is more likely. Faith alone makes you believe that he'll do the first.

    So, to summarize, you have a choice to make. You don't have any reason to believe that it will benefit the man... or anyone... or even that it won't do great harm. You have nothing - you could flip a coin to make the choice if you wanted to, just assume a random outcome and make your choice based on that - wouldn't make a difference. But you have faith that he will be benefit from the donation, and you're going to act on that.

    For a moment, let's take a sidetrack. Let's imagine that I have faith that sticking people with a poison pin will purify their soul and send them to heaven, where they will have boundless joy. I have no evidence for or against this belief, and no evidence at all that it harms anyone - they're dead before I pull the pin out, so they don't even have a chance to register pain. However, I have faith that doing this will give them great happiness.

    Now compare the two cases - the donation case in blue and the poison pin case in red:
    • The choice is whether to give a dollar or not.
    • The choice is whether to prick with a poison pin or not.
    • There is no evidence that it will benefit the person it is given to.
    • There is no evidence that it will benefit the person it is given to.
    • There is no evidence that it will harm the person it is given to.
    • There is no evidence that it will harm the person it is given to.
    • But I have faith it will help them.
    • But I have faith it will help them.

    So... if it's moral to give a dollar based on faith alone that it will do them good... wouldn't it also be moral to prick with a poison pin based on faith alone that it will do them good?

    No? Why not?

    What makes the dollar case different from the poison prick case?

    You say that it's because you know that giving money is usually not harmful while poison usually is? What do you base this knowlege on? Evidence, non? ^_^

    A decision based on faith alone can never, ever be moral. At best it is amoral. At worst (when there is evidence available), immoral.
    HereticMonkey
    Indi: Go back and re-read your example. You'll find that the owner had some evidence to base his decision on. Yet, you argue that:

    a) Faith requires no evidence at all.
    b) The owner acted solely on faith.

    Yet, how can that apply when he had the evidence (the plane's track record, which is mentioned, as well the engineers' statements (which aren't completely condemning)?

    HM
    Aredon
    Indi wrote:
    What makes the dollar case different from the poison prick case?

    You say that it's because you know that giving money is usually not harmful while poison usually is? What do you base this knowlege on? Evidence, non? ^_^

    A decision based on faith alone can never, ever be moral. At best it is amoral. At worst (when there is evidence available), immoral.


    The difference, is the resulting action derived from the faith-based thought process. The resulting action is what will be judged as moral or immoral, not its cause.

    Example: if those people pricked by the pin do indeed find great happiness. Suddenly that faith becomes moral but the action remains immoral. Aside from that generousity (homeless example) and purification by death are two very different things on the morality spectrum. Reguardless whether or not that list lines up, the fact remains that it is viewed as moral and right to give money to the poor. Which brings us to the point that you sidestepped. Morality is completely and totaly relative to the society that holds it.

    Likewise if you base your choices on flawed evidence:
    -Lets say that a recent report shows that certain levels of air injected into your bloodstreme can aid quick thinking, or perhaps even blood presure, either way it realy doesn't matter.
    Clearly a choice by a doctor to take this evidence and offer it to his clients as a treatment would be completely immoral, reguardless of whether or not it was based on evidence. Your arguement that all choices based on evidence are moral, is fundamentaly flawed. Becuase just as with most everything else there will always be acceptions. The acception here is: He blindly accepted evidence from a untrustworthy sorce, therefore, once again. His action was immoral not the cause of it.

    Quote:
    So... if it's moral to give a dollar based on faith alone that it will do them good... wouldn't it also be moral to prick with a poison pin based on faith alone that it will do them good?

    That is the approximate equal of saying X + 1 = X + 2 becuase both contain X. Based on the list.

    In reguard of faith being compared to hatred and etc:
    An interesting comparison, but in practice I think we would find that faith is in a catagory all its own. Though I see where you are going with it, I do not think they can be acurately compaired. Faith has a much larger gray area than those others. (as is clear by the existence of this topic)



    From the original post:
    Quote:
    So it is not the action itself that determines whether the action is moral or immoral. It is the reason for that action - which (in this discussion) is either faith... or evidence.

    This was your statement that you say destroys the idea that the action is immoral and not the faith, but part of your counterarguement contains
    Quote:
    i already showed that if you act on faith, you're acting immorally
    . So.. your counterarguement to the counterarguement is based off your original arguement which the counterarguer is saying isn't true. So it can't work as a complete "shutdown", becuase if the counterarguer is argueing with the original statement, what would make them believe a counterarguement that was based on the original statement being true?


    Quote:
    Well, let's not stop there - concern for my fellow humans is a motivator of action. That means nothing now?

    Pretty much. If you have concern for your fellow man lets say this:
    A man is sreaming in an dark ally.
    You may have concern for him, but if you don't help him you are acting immoraly and if you help him you are acting moraly. Regaurdless of whether or not your concern was "moral" or "immoral", becuase your concern cannot be classified as moral or immoral in fact, the resulting action is what gets the final judgement dumped on it.
    Indi
    Aredon wrote:
    Which brings us to the point that you sidestepped. Morality is completely and totaly relative to the society that holds it.

    i didn't sidestep the pont. You never raised it. It didn't come up once. If you want to discuss something, bring it up. Don't say i'm avoiding it out of the blue.

    But now that you brought it up: saying at this point that morality is "completely and totaly relative" is... bizarre. You mean all this time you've debated... nothing? That everything you've said so far is "completely and totaly" meaningless? Because if you really do believe that morality is "completely and totaly relative", then why the hell should i or anyone care about what your personal morality is? Why should you care about mine and whether or not i think faith is immoral? If moral and immoral are defined in any way you or your society chooses, then why do you care what my choice is? It's no better or worse than yours - everything's "completely and totaly relative" anyway, right?

    If you believe that morality is "completely and totaly relative", you've wasted everyone's time by pretending that it's not so far. i mean, obviously the question of whether or not faith is absolutely immoral is a question of absolute morality. If you believe there is no such thing, you've just been wasting my time, just as surely as if you were debating against a possible mechanism of abiogenesis when you believe in Creationsim. Is that what you're telling me now?

    i'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you worded your statement wrong, and you didn't really mean that morality is really "completely and totaly relative". Obviously some aspects of morality are society-dependent - like how much clothing in public is acceptible. But some are not. Slavery is or should be unacceptible in any society, as is murder - neither becomes "ok" just because the majority say so. Thus, there are moral absolutes. Or, to steal from Jefferson (who stole liberally from Locke): "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Unalienable rights = moral absolutes.

    The issue of faith is not a social issue. It is an issue of epistemology, within which we can safely call it an absolute issue.

    Aredon wrote:
    Reguardless whether or not that list lines up, the fact remains that it is viewed as moral and right to give money to the poor.

    1.) You just said morality is "completely and totaly relative to the society that holds it". And now you're throwing moral absolutes at me? Make up your mind.
    2.) You are wrong. "The fact" does not remain that giving money to the poor is viewed as moral or right. In fact, the issue is hotly debated in many places. Some believe that giving money to the poor is morally wrong, because they did not earn it, and will not gain anything from the giving but a little temporary comfort (the old "give a man a fish" argument).

    Actions are neither moral or immoral. Motive determines morality.

    Aredon wrote:
    The difference, is the resulting action derived from the faith-based thought process. The resulting action is what will be judged as moral or immoral, not its cause.

    i already showed that that's not true. What determines whether an action is moral or immoral is why the action was done, not what was done.

    Ok, try this. There are 3 aspects to everything that you do: motive, action and outcome. Why you do it, what you do, and what results.

    i think everyone's agreed that the results do not determine morality. Is there any debate there?

    So what about action - what you actually do? Giving someone money is neither moral or immoral - it can be moral if you're giving them money to help them and immoral if you're giving them money to buy guns. Pricking someone with a poison needle is neither moral or immoral - it can be immoral if you do it to an innocent person without their consent and moral if you do it to euthanize someone who is suffering horribly. You see? Action by itself is neither moral or immoral.

    Thus the only determinant of morality is why you acted.

    Faith is a "why" ("Why did you do X?" Because i believed by my faith that it would lead to good.). Thus it can be moral or immoral.

    Aredon wrote:
    Example: if those people pricked by the pin do indeed find great happiness. Suddenly that faith becomes moral but the action remains immoral. Aside from that generousity (homeless example) and purification by death are two very different things on the morality spectrum.

    Why? Tell me exactly.

    Assume for a moment that you had evidence - not faith - that pricking them would give them infinite joy. Why would it be immoral to prick them? You would be doing them infinite good, thus your action would be perfectly moral.

    Now assume that you had evidence - not faith, evidence - that giving money to the man will only result in him going out and buying a gun to knock over a liquor store. Wouldn't it be immoral to give him money then?

    Once again: action does not determine right. Motive does.

    Aredon wrote:
    Likewise if you base your choices on flawed evidence:
    -Lets say that a recent report shows that certain levels of air injected into your bloodstreme can aid quick thinking, or perhaps even blood presure, either way it realy doesn't matter.
    Clearly a choice by a doctor to take this evidence and offer it to his clients as a treatment would be completely immoral, reguardless of whether or not it was based on evidence. Your arguement that all choices based on evidence are moral, is fundamentaly flawed. Becuase just as with most everything else there will always be acceptions. The acception here is: He blindly accepted evidence from a untrustworthy sorce, therefore, once again. His action was immoral not the cause of it.

    Incorrect.

    If the doctor really had evidence that injecting air into the patient would do them good, he would be morally bound to offer that option. If he had evidence to suggest it might be dangerous, he would be morally bound to tell them that, too. But your example is absurd because in order to work the doctor would have to not know that injecting air is lethal - because if he did know, then he would have to consider that evidence (and not do it). If he, as you say, blindly accepted evidence from an untrustworthy source he would still have to "forget" the evidence he already knows in order to accept the tainted evidence.

    Put it this way. You know that shooting a gun into your face will (probably) kill you. Now some guy stops you on the street and says it won't, it will make you smarter, go try it. What kind of person would you be if you actually went and tried it? A blithering idiot, no? So... how is that example different from your doctor?

    Try a more neutral example. Suppose a new drug came out called X, and the doctor had evidence that X would cure warts. He has a patient with warts. What would be the moral choice for that doctor to make? Use X on the patient or not?

    Obviously, the answer is use X.

    Later it turns out that the evidence was flawed, and the patient died. Has anything changed? Did the doctor suddenly become immoral?

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    So... if it's moral to give a dollar based on faith alone that it will do them good... wouldn't it also be moral to prick with a poison pin based on faith alone that it will do them good?

    That is the approximate equal of saying X + 1 = X + 2 becuase both contain X. Based on the list.

    Explain how? What - exactly - is the difference, other than the action? And if the action does not determine morality (as i showed above), and the action is the only difference between the two... how is one moral and the other not?

    Aredon wrote:
    In reguard of faith being compared to hatred and etc:
    An interesting comparison, but in practice I think we would find that faith is in a catagory all its own. Though I see where you are going with it, I do not think they can be acurately compaired. Faith has a much larger gray area than those others. (as is clear by the existence of this topic)

    Then give an example of this grey area. That's one of the challenges i laid down in the original post.

    Aredon wrote:
    From the original post:
    Quote:
    So it is not the action itself that determines whether the action is moral or immoral. It is the reason for that action - which (in this discussion) is either faith... or evidence.

    This was your statement that you say destroys the idea that the action is immoral and not the faith, but part of your counterarguement contains
    Quote:
    i already showed that if you act on faith, you're acting immorally
    . So.. your counterarguement to the counterarguement is based off your original arguement which the counterarguer is saying isn't true. So it can't work as a complete "shutdown", becuase if the counterarguer is argueing with the original statement, what would make them believe a counterarguement that was based on the original statement being true?

    i honestly don't understand your objection. i showed that action does not determine morality - right in the opening post, a couple times in fact. In one instance i showed how the exact same action can be both moral and immoral depending on whether you take it based on faith or evidence (the plane example). In another i used an imaginary belief X and showed that the morality of action for X is, again, determined only by the motive (because obviously "X" is neither right or wrong - you don't even know what "X" is - and by extension actions in favour of X). If some "counterarguer" comes along and says that that's not true, that doesn't make what they say an argument. You say it's not true? Show it. i already have shown my point.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Well, let's not stop there - concern for my fellow humans is a motivator of action. That means nothing now?

    Pretty much. If you have concern for your fellow man lets say this:
    A man is sreaming in an dark ally.
    You may have concern for him, but if you don't help him you are acting immoraly and if you help him you are acting moraly. Regaurdless of whether or not your concern was "moral" or "immoral", becuase your concern cannot be classified as moral or immoral in fact, the resulting action is what gets the final judgement dumped on it.

    You are fooling yourself by creating two separate actions and trying to judge them as one - claiming that they have the same motivation. Observe:

    Action 1:
    Motivation: Concern for my fellow humans.
    Action: Going to help the person in the alley.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    Action 2:
    Motivation: Concern for myself.
    Action: Walking away without helping.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    Thus, concern for my fellow humans is always moral, because it always leads to moral actions. Concern for my fellow humans will never motivate me to walk away (unless there were greater concerns, which would still make it moral). Regardless of how i act, concern for my fellow humans is always moral - it is ignoring that concern that is immoral.

    The action is not what gets judged. Observe:

    Action 1b:
    Motivation: Desire to beat up a mugger for fun.
    Action: Going to help the person in the alley.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    Action 2b:
    Motivation: In a rush to deliver a medicine that will save dozens at a hospital.
    Action: Walking away without helping.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    See?
    HereticMonkey
    Indi: I think you're confusing faith (religious) with faith (proven). All the examples that you've used have rely on a proven thread of behavior with quantifiable results. That is, if someone does Action X when Condition Y applies, then when Condition Y returns, that person should do Action X again.

    In essence, you can count on it happening again. You can TRUST the person to do that.

    Religious faith is something entirely different, in that it requires a greater degree of trust. There may not always be a definite result, but, in a way, that's not what most people look for. They are looking more a group that believes reasonably similar to them, so that they can feel normal. In essence, it's not purely faith, but more of a security blanket...

    HM
    Aredon
    Indi wrote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Which brings us to the point that you sidestepped. Morality is completely and totaly relative to the society that holds it.

    i didn't sidestep the pont. You never raised it. It didn't come up once. If you want to discuss something, bring it up. Don't say i'm avoiding it out of the blue.

    Original post, before your last repsonce that i told you sidestepped an arguement. What I should have said was missed it or skipped over it:
    Aredon wrote:
    In conclusion you have not yet shown me a way that faith can be deemed "immoral", but I can provide you with one:
    Becuase morality is relative to the society that holds it, if a person were to believe sacrificing a child to the sun will "power it" becuase their faith told them it does. In their society this would be moral, in ours far from it.

    Note that this is a reference to the belief that sacrificing is immoral, it is in no way addressing the action, which in our society is also immoral.

    In this way faith can be immoral based on perspective, as morality and immorality are relative.


    However, in the examples you provided, as i have said, you have not convinced me that faith can be immoral within the confines of your examples' frame of reference.


    It was said, please do not continue to say that I am making up stuff.
    Quote:

    But now that you brought it up: saying at this point that morality is "completely and totaly relative" is... bizarre. You mean all this time you've debated... nothing? That everything you've said so far is "completely and totaly" meaningless? Because if you really do believe that morality is "completely and totaly relative", then why the hell should i or anyone care about what your personal morality is? Why should you care about mine and whether or not i think faith is immoral? If moral and immoral are defined in any way you or your society chooses, then why do you care what my choice is? It's no better or worse than yours - everything's "completely and totaly relative" anyway, right?

    Wrong, becuase we are in a society that has its own laid-down morals, and therefore in our society they are absolute, in the world they are relative.
    Quote:

    If you believe that morality is "completely and totaly relative", you've wasted everyone's time by pretending that it's not so far. i mean, obviously the question of whether or not faith is absolutely immoral is a question of absolute morality. If you believe there is no such thing, you've just been wasting my time, just as surely as if you were debating against a possible mechanism of abiogenesis when you believe in Creationsim. Is that what you're telling me now?
    Nope, that is not what I'm telling you at all. In fact if you read back you will find I already agreed with your arguement that faith can be immoral. The examples you presented have not convinced me that in that area that it can be deemed immoral. Please, stop assuming that I am violently aposing your thesis.

    Quote:
    i'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you worded your statement wrong, and you didn't really mean that morality is really "completely and totaly relative". Obviously some aspects of morality are society-dependent - like how much clothing in public is acceptible. But some are not. Slavery is or should be unacceptible in any society, as is murder - neither becomes "ok" just because the majority say so. Thus, there are moral absolutes. Or, to steal from Jefferson (who stole liberally from Locke): "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Unalienable rights = moral absolutes.

    Yes, but take that moral absolute to a society that is about 100 years behind and still living under a cast system of some sort. That morality is no longer absolute, it becomes relative. As each level of the cast could be considered equal among that level, the moral would still be there but in a different kind and meaning, making it a relative moral.
    Quote:

    The issue of faith is not a social issue. It is an issue of epistemology, within which we can safely call it an absolute issue.

    I'm saying that Faith cannot be considered moral or immoral within the confines of our social morality system.

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Reguardless whether or not that list lines up, the fact remains that it is viewed as moral and right to give money to the poor.

    1.) You just said morality is "completely and totaly relative to the society that holds it". And now you're throwing moral absolutes at me? Make up your mind.
    It is an absolute moral in our society, and becuase i live in this society, those morals are absolute to me, yes.
    Quote:

    2.) You are wrong. "The fact" does not remain that giving money to the poor is viewed as moral or right. In fact, the issue is hotly debated in many places. Some believe that giving money to the poor is morally wrong, because they did not earn it, and will not gain anything from the giving but a little temporary comfort (the old "give a man a fish" argument).

    Well that may be true in other societies, but here we have orginizations dedicated to helping the poor. Which many would call moral. (again, defined it the "general morality" in which we are discussing, the morality you presented seems... selfish at best.)

    I could be wrong, but im rather sure that people that make donations don't realy care that its not helping them at all.

    Quote:

    Actions are neither moral or immoral. Motive determines morality.
    Still not convinced of that fact yet.. sorry :S

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    The difference, is the resulting action derived from the faith-based thought process. The resulting action is what will be judged as moral or immoral, not its cause.

    i already showed that that's not true. What determines whether an action is moral or immoral is why the action was done, not what was done.
    No, you "proved" that it was not true based on the idea that your examples where correct and your original statement was accurate.

    Quote:
    i think everyone's agreed that the results do not determine morality. Is there any debate there?
    Yes, there is still debate there thats what i've been trying to tell you. you have not proven that results cannot determine morality.

    Quote:
    So what about action - what you actually do? Giving someone money is neither moral or immoral - it can be moral if you're giving them money to help them and immoral if you're giving them money to buy guns. Pricking someone with a poison needle is neither moral or immoral - it can be immoral if you do it to an innocent person without their consent and moral if you do it to euthanize someone who is suffering horribly. You see? Action by itself is neither moral or immoral.
    Giving someone money can be considered moral, especialy if the person is poor. Better yet let us create an example:
    -A friend of yours is suddenly in debt and his family is in trouble, potentialy losing their home, etc.
    -You give him money to bail him out, he is your friend, you helped him. The action is moral.

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Example: if those people pricked by the pin do indeed find great happiness. Suddenly that faith becomes moral but the action remains immoral. Aside from that generousity (homeless example) and purification by death are two very different things on the morality spectrum.

    Why? Tell me exactly.
    Becuase there are some things that are solidly moral (helping the sick, helping the poor, etc.), and then there are things that cannot be solidly deemed moral or immoral. (a group of cultists kill themselves to reach heaven.) Can this truely be deemed immoral? Perhaps, perhaps not. You cannot prove that they are right or wrong and therefore it becomes open to translation and opinion.

    Quote:
    Assume for a moment that you had evidence - not faith - that pricking them would give them infinite joy. Why would it be immoral to prick them? You would be doing them infinite good, thus your action would be perfectly moral.
    So the action would be moral, yes. Also note that you yourself just judged an action as moral.

    Quote:
    Now assume that you had evidence - not faith, evidence - that giving money to the man will only result in him going out and buying a gun to knock over a liquor store. Wouldn't it be immoral to give him money then?
    If you had solid evidence, yes.

    Quote:
    Once again: action does not determine right. Motive does.
    Once again you have not proven this to me yet, im sorry, but you have not.


    Quote:
    If the doctor really had evidence that injecting air into the patient would do them good, he would be morally bound to offer that option. If he had evidence to suggest it might be dangerous, he would be morally bound to tell them that, too. But your example is absurd because in order to work the doctor would have to not know that injecting air is lethal - because if he did know, then he would have to consider that evidence (and not do it). If he, as you say, blindly accepted evidence from an untrustworthy source he would still have to "forget" the evidence he already knows in order to accept the tainted evidence.
    I'll give you it was a crappy example, I was tired Razz

    Quote:
    Try a more neutral example. Suppose a new drug came out called X, and the doctor had evidence that X would cure warts. He has a patient with warts. What would be the moral choice for that doctor to make? Use X on the patient or not?

    Obviously, the answer is use X.

    Later it turns out that the evidence was flawed, and the patient died. Has anything changed? Did the doctor suddenly become immoral?

    In this case no, it would be the company that assumed their drug worked based on flawed evidence, so they launched it, that would be deemed immoral or at fault.

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    So... if it's moral to give a dollar based on faith alone that it will do them good... wouldn't it also be moral to prick with a poison pin based on faith alone that it will do them good?

    That is the approximate equal of saying X + 1 = X + 2 becuase both contain X. Based on the list.

    Explain how? What - exactly - is the difference, other than the action? And if the action does not determine morality (as i showed above), and the action is the only difference between the two... how is one moral and the other not?
    For the hundreth time, you have not shown with 100% certainty that it is cause that is immoral not action.

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    In reguard of faith being compared to hatred and etc:
    An interesting comparison, but in practice I think we would find that faith is in a catagory all its own. Though I see where you are going with it, I do not think they can be acurately compaired. Faith has a much larger gray area than those others. (as is clear by the existence of this topic)

    Then give an example of this grey area. That's one of the challenges i laid down in the original post.
    I'm aware of that and I'll have to think a little longer on it, but I'll get back to you. Cool

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    From the original post:
    Quote:
    So it is not the action itself that determines whether the action is moral or immoral. It is the reason for that action - which (in this discussion) is either faith... or evidence.

    This was your statement that you say destroys the idea that the action is immoral and not the faith, but part of your counterarguement contains
    Quote:
    i already showed that if you act on faith, you're acting immorally
    . So.. your counterarguement to the counterarguement is based off your original arguement which the counterarguer is saying isn't true. So it can't work as a complete "shutdown", becuase if the counterarguer is argueing with the original statement, what would make them believe a counterarguement that was based on the original statement being true?

    i honestly don't understand your objection. i showed that action does not determine morality - right in the opening post, a couple times in fact. In one instance i showed how the exact same action can be both moral and immoral depending on whether you take it based on faith or evidence (the plane example). In another i used an imaginary belief X and showed that the morality of action for X is, again, determined only by the motive (because obviously "X" is neither right or wrong - you don't even know what "X" is - and by extension actions in favour of X). If some "counterarguer" comes along and says that that's not true, that doesn't make what they say an argument. You say it's not true? Show it. i already have shown my point.
    I'm saying that you took part of your original arguement (quoted in last post) as a "fact" to reach your conclusion. Due to the fact that I disagree with the original example, the conclusion becomes void untill a new example is brought forth to prove that your "fact" is true. Does THAT make sence? If not here is that quoted PARAGRAPH from the FIRST post:
    Quote:
    But let's take the objection seriously for a moment and see where it leads us. Suppose you have faith that X is true. Pretend first that the evidence also shows that X is true. So when it's time to act... you act as if X is true. Which is the right thing to do. But are you acting on faith... or evidence? Let's find out: now pretend that the evidence shows that X is not true. What do you do? Your faith says that X is true. The evidence says that X is not true. From the example with the plane, i already showed that if you act on faith, you're acting immorally, whether X is true or not. And from the same example, if you act on the evidence, you're acting morally, again whether X is actually true or not. Going back to the first part of this example, it follows that if you acted on faith you were being immoral and if you acted on evidence you were being moral... because even though both actions would have been the same, the reasons for those actions would have been different

    Right there you are basing your entire counterarguement on the "fact" that your original arguement was true, and if that were the case the person would not be argueing against it in the first place. It is not a different example, it is the same example with more explination. The entire thing is based off the original being true. Therefore neither the plane example, nor the X formulation derived from the plane example, are going to acomplish what you wanted them to in your arguement.
    Quote:

    You are fooling yourself by creating two separate actions and trying to judge them as one - claiming that they have the same motivation.
    Yes, I claimed that concern for fellow man was still present but a seperate action was taken, and in truth the second action has more of two motivations. So I see your point in a way.
    Quote:
    Observe:

    Action 1:
    Motivation: Concern for my fellow humans.
    Action: Going to help the person in the alley.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    Action 2:
    Motivation: Concern for myself.
    Action: Walking away without helping.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    Correction: motivation two was still concern for fellow humans
    action was walk away worried, and hope the person is ok.

    Quote:
    Thus, concern for my fellow humans is always moral, because it always leads to moral actions. Concern for my fellow humans will never motivate me to walk away (unless there were greater concerns, which would still make it moral). Regardless of how i act, concern for my fellow humans is always moral - it is ignoring that concern that is immoral.

    The action is not what gets judged. Observe:

    Action 1b:
    Motivation: Desire to beat up a mugger for fun.
    Action: Going to help the person in the alley.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    Action 2b:
    Motivation: In a rush to deliver a medicine that will save dozens at a hospital.
    Action: Walking away without helping.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    See?

    Um, if a person were to see action 1b. They would not know his motivation was to beat up a mugger for fun, all that would be known was that he helped a person in the ally, his action was moral. Aside from that his motivation is neither faith nor evidence, it is more a compulsive desire. In that case I'm going to say the morality of his "motivation" is irrelivant becuase his action was moral. (becuase that is how someone who witnessed it would assess the situation.)

    Action 2b:
    Pick a different motivation, that is an action. Wink So im unsure what you mean.
    Indi
    Ok, we're going around in circles here, and i blame two problems.

    First is a comprehension issue that arises from a failing of the English language. There is no word to describe the totally of a deed that can be morally interpreted - that is: intention, action, and result. So far i've been using "action" to talk both about that total thing, and about the sub-thing that is the actual action. i've tried to be as clear as possible about when i'm referring to which, but some of your objections sure read to me like that's not working.

    So let's start with a definition. From this point on, i will use the word "deed" to talk about the total package of motive-action-result that can be judged morally, and reserve "action" only for the actual action part of the deed.

    So what is a deed? A deed is what you get when you combine a motive, an action and a result. We need all three to have something that can be judged morally. A motive without any action is meaningless, morally speaking. An action without any motive is just a random thing, like a spasm, which obviously cannot be judged. And of course, without an external result, the deed has no meaning in the real world, and by extension no moral value. Only when all three of motive, action and result are combined can we make a moral judgement of the deed.

    The second problem is that you keep insisting that i haven't proven that only motive determins the morality of a deed. i have done so, and will do so again in just a moment. And i'm going to do it clearly, so you can't possibly miss it. So just saying "no you haven't" isn't going to fly as an objection anymore. This is my proof, and you're going to have it right in front of you - if you want to say it's wrong, you're going to have to show exactly where.

    The proof of why only motive affects the morality of deed
    The three components that make up a deed are motive, action and result. In order to prove that only motive affects the final moral judgement of the deed, all i have to do is show that both the result and the action don't. Agree?

    The test
    Here are two deeds, one moral and one immoral. i tried to pick these deeds so that they are both unambiguously moral or immoral. In other words, it should be very clear without argument whether each one is moral or immoral. i tried to do this by making every part of the deed good, or every part bad. Does that make sense? Does it seem like a logical place to start?

    Here are the two examples:


    Are they clear? Are they both unambiguously moral or immoral?

    Result
    i think no one disputes that the result does not affect the morality of the deed.



    i don't think there's any real controversy there. The result doesn't affect the morality of the deed.

    Action
    Here's where it gets interesting. If my claim is true - that the action does not affect the morality of the deed - then i should be able to substitute any appropriate(*) action, good or bad, without changing the morality of the deed.

    (* What does the "appropriate" mean there? It means that the action must fit with the motive and result. You can't have a motive to save Joe's life then an action where you shoot Joe. You have committed this fallacy in your examples, but i will deal with them when i get to them.)

    So let's replace a nominally "good" action with a nominally "bad" action (and vice versa) and see what happens.



    You see?

    i could show the same thing by using the same action with different motives, and show that moral changes. In fact, that's exactly what i'm going to do....

    Motive
    My claim is that the motive is the only thing that affects the morality, so a moral motive will always give a moral judgement regardless of the action or the result. Likewise, an immoral motive will always give an immoral judgement, regardless of the action or result.



    Putting it all together
    So, taking a look at the big picture:




    As you can see, the only thing that affects the final judgement is the moral. i can make the same kind of table for any rational combination of motive-action-result and it will still work (in fact, there are several examples in the collection of posts in this thread so far). There's my proof.

    Now the burden of proof is on you. Why? Because now that i've proved that it works, there is nothing more i can prove. The only way i could prove that it "always" works is if i made the same table for every possible combination of motive-action-result - which would be an infinite number of tables. Clearly expecting me to do that is absurd. Thus, the burden of proof is on you, because you only have to find one single case that shows my claim is not true. i showed you that it works, and no reason to believe that it only works sometimes... unless you can provide a reason. Is there another variable i'm missing? Is the final moral judgement due to a more complicated function of the deed? i don't know, you tell me.

    Aredon wrote:
    Indi wrote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Which brings us to the point that you sidestepped. Morality is completely and totaly relative to the society that holds it.

    i didn't sidestep the pont. You never raised it. It didn't come up once. If you want to discuss something, bring it up. Don't say i'm avoiding it out of the blue.

    Original post, before your last repsonce that i told you sidestepped an arguement. What I should have said was missed it or skipped over it:
    Aredon wrote:
    In conclusion you have not yet shown me a way that faith can be deemed "immoral", but I can provide you with one:
    Becuase morality is relative to the society that holds it, if a person were to believe sacrificing a child to the sun will "power it" becuase their faith told them it does. In their society this would be moral, in ours far from it.

    Note that this is a reference to the belief that sacrificing is immoral, it is in no way addressing the action, which in our society is also immoral.

    In this way faith can be immoral based on perspective, as morality and immorality are relative.


    However, in the examples you provided, as i have said, you have not convinced me that faith can be immoral within the confines of your examples' frame of reference.


    It was said, please do not continue to say that I am making up stuff.

    You are trying to imply that my accusations are baseless, when you know full well that they are not. i have already shown you where you inserted things into my argument that were not there to begin with, and i will do so again if it comes up. This particular case appears to have been a miscommunication, but that does not absolve you of the other cases.

    But with regards to this specific case, i have to point two things out. First, there is a huge difference between talking about an aspect of morality that is relative to society and saying all morality is relative to society. You didn't say "all morality is relative to the society", so i assumed that you were only talking about social morals (because, as i mentioned later, if all morality is relative to society, all of your posts and arguments are a waste of time - i interpreted your sentence in the only way that seemed logical to me). Sure, social morals are relative, i agreed with that already. But social morals do not determine between "good and evil", they only determine between "socially acceptible or taboo".

    Second, i didn't respond to that section directly because i read it working under the assumption that it was part of your larger argument that faith cannot be immoral - and i responded to that elsewhere so there was no need to repeat myself. Now that you've pointed out that you intended it as an example of how morals are totally socially relative, i have to consider it directly... and i have to start by saying it's totally and completely illogical. i'm not even sure where to begin....

    Ok, let's assume for a moment that you're right - that morality is totally and completely relative... how does that change anything? >_< i mean, seriously, honestly, what have you changed? i can just apply the same airplane owner example to both societies (the child killing one and yours)... and get the same result - that faith is immoral in both societies.

    Besides, just because the society believes it's moral to sacrifice kids does not make it moral. The plane owner believes it's moral to let the plane fly against the word of the engineers - but the example clearly shows he was wrong. Morality may be relative to society, but logic is not, and i used pure logic to show that faith is immoral. The same logic is good in any society. So... no, it wouldn't be moral to sacrifice kids on faith even in that society.

    And those problems are just the ones you get if you accept that morally is totally relative to society! You get a whole lot more problems if you question that assumption, which i'm not going to bother with because they belong in another topic.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Reguardless whether or not that list lines up, the fact remains that it is viewed as moral and right to give money to the poor.

    1.) You just said morality is "completely and totaly relative to the society that holds it". And now you're throwing moral absolutes at me? Make up your mind.
    It is an absolute moral in our society, and becuase i live in this society, those morals are absolute to me, yes.

    "Our" society? Why do you assume we live in the same society? Even if those morals are "absolute to you", why do you assume i should care about them?

    Let me put it another way... i told you that if morality were really totally and completely relative, then all of your objections are really just a meaningless waste of time, because i could say faith is immoral in "my" society and you couldn't raise any objection (other than "well, not in mine"). But you raised a whole lot more objection than that, didn't you? And you've never once asked me what "my" society is. Shouldn't that be your first question?

    But let me test how serious you are about your socially relative morality theory. So you say that slavery was a-ok in America a couple hundred years ago, because the society said it was at the time, right? Ok. So if you had been alive then, you would have had no problem with keeping slaves, right? Because society said it was moral, after all, right? Now, you may not have owned a slave yourself, but if you knew two people, and the only difference between them was that one kept slaves, in your eyes both would be equally good people. Because slavery, in that society, was not evil.

    Now, what if you were a slave? Would you still have been ok with it? If someone had asked you if slavery was ok... what would you have answered? Wouldn't you have to have answered that it was, because it was ok with the society's moral standards?

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:

    2.) You are wrong. "The fact" does not remain that giving money to the poor is viewed as moral or right. In fact, the issue is hotly debated in many places. Some believe that giving money to the poor is morally wrong, because they did not earn it, and will not gain anything from the giving but a little temporary comfort (the old "give a man a fish" argument).

    Well that may be true in other societies, but here we have orginizations dedicated to helping the poor. Which many would call moral. (again, defined it the "general morality" in which we are discussing, the morality you presented seems... selfish at best.)

    I could be wrong, but im rather sure that people that make donations don't realy care that its not helping them at all.

    If "here" is the United States, i should point out that you also have organizations dedicated to white supremacy, legalizing sex with minors and eco-terrorism. You also have organizations dedicated to religious extremism, which many millions would call moral (defined in the "general morality" that you invented).

    Of course... in my "selfish" morality... all people have the rights to life and freedom and to be treated equally and with dignity regardless of race or belief - as opposed to yours, where things like slavery, genocide and the ritual sacrifice of innocents (to use your example!) are just fine if society says they are.

    How selfish i am.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:

    Actions are neither moral or immoral. Motive determines morality.
    Still not convinced of that fact yet.. sorry :S

    Yes, you repeat this over and over and over. "No, i don't agree", "no you haven't proven anything" etc. etc. etc., in fact, pretty much all of the remainder of your post is just repeating this same objection over and over (which is why i'm just discarding it unless i happen to notice anything - but i hardly feel inclined to read too closely when it's all the same thing ad nauseum). But not once yet have you managed to actually prove a single objection. Well, i made my proof explicit and graphic. If you want to object to the proof, i even told you exactly how to.

    So now, if you want to object to this any further, you have two choices. Disprove my proof, or stop being rational and disagree without any reason.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Observe:

    Action 1:
    Motivation: Concern for my fellow humans.
    Action: Going to help the person in the alley.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    Action 2:
    Motivation: Concern for myself.
    Action: Walking away without helping.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    Correction: motivation two was still concern for fellow humans
    action was walk away worried, and hope the person is ok.

    You have created an irrational example. There is no way that your only motive can be concern for fellow humans and then not help. It's impossible. The only rational reason you would not help is if there were another motivation overriding the concern. There is no way you can have a motivation to do X then not do X without some other factor preventing you from doing X. Think of it in terms of forces - if the only force acting on you is pushing right, which way are you going to go? Obviously right. The only way you can go left is if there is another, greater force, acting left.

    What you did with the example was simply add another action without any explanation. So now you have two deeds, with two actions... and thus two motivations... although you only noted one.

    Observe:
    Motive A: <you didn't say, but i assumed self preservation>
    Motive B: Concern for fellow humans.
    Motives are weighed and A found to have the greater precedence
    Action A (caused by motive A): Walk away.
    Action B (caused by motive B): Hope the person is OK.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Thus, concern for my fellow humans is always moral, because it always leads to moral actions. Concern for my fellow humans will never motivate me to walk away (unless there were greater concerns, which would still make it moral). Regardless of how i act, concern for my fellow humans is always moral - it is ignoring that concern that is immoral.

    The action is not what gets judged. Observe:

    Action 1b:
    Motivation: Desire to beat up a mugger for fun.
    Action: Going to help the person in the alley.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    Action 2b:
    Motivation: In a rush to deliver a medicine that will save dozens at a hospital.
    Action: Walking away without helping.
    Result: Irrelevant.

    See?

    Um, if a person were to see action 1b. They would not know his motivation was to beat up a mugger for fun, all that would be known was that he helped a person in the ally, his action was moral.

    Whoa whoa whoa. "Witnesses" do not determine the morality of an action. If i killed a man in an alley, put his body in the trash, then took the trash out... and then someone saw me taking out the trash... they would conclude i did a good deed, right? Now you're saying that's true? That this deed:

    Motive: To dispose of body to hide my crime.
    Action: Taking out trash.
    Result: Seen by someone as taking out trash, and judged a good person for cleaning out the alley.

    is a good deed? So i can do any horrible crime i want, as long as i can make it look like it's a good deed to the masses, because that would make me a moral person? Come on, man, be serious. Your objection is just nonsense.

    Aredon wrote:
    Aside from that his motivation is neither faith nor evidence, it is more a compulsive desire. In that case I'm going to say the morality of his "motivation" is irrelivant becuase his action was moral. (becuase that is how someone who witnessed it would assess the situation.)

    This example had nothing to do with the morality of faith or faith vs. evidence - it was an example of how only the moral affects the judgement, not the action. It says so right on top.

    Aredon wrote:
    Action 2b:
    Pick a different motivation, that is an action. Wink So im unsure what you mean.

    i don't understand what you mean either.

    Aredon wrote:
    Please, stop assuming that I am violently aposing your thesis.

    Please stop guessing at my assumptions and motives. i am not assuming you are violently opposing my thesis, just like i wasn't being sarcastic, just like... etc.

    But i will admit to being a little annoyed, and i'll tell you why. Several times in this discussion you have thrown out objections that seem to have no rational thought behind them - almost as if you hadn't really bothered to think at all, you just picked the first objection that sprang to mind that seemed to contradict me, and spat it out without even a moment's consideration. This isn't just a "feeling" of mine either - you have already admitted to making thoughtless objections.

    The problem with that is that i am - and this may be foolish of me - taking you seriously, and every objection you put forward, i consider seriously. i analyze them, and try to grasp where it works and where it doesn't, and if it seems to work, why. Then i consider my response carefully, extrapolate the implications of what i'm saying to make sure that i'm not talking nonsense, and that my response is rational and coherent. Then i outline my response, give an example or evidence to back my position up, and type it up and post it.

    And then you respond back: "Nope, i'm just not agreeing with you."

    And that's all you say. Over and over. A whole post full of it.

    You usually don't say why you don't agree (and when you do, i consider your objection seriously, as above). Only a couple of times you have offered contradictory examples, which is great... but then there's another problem. You don't think your examples through. You just fire them off. Then i consider them seriously (see above) and respond, and you come back with "woops, yeah, i didn't really mean that - guess i didn't think that through". Yeah, guess you didn't.

    This is not a race, unless you're hungry for points (and if you are, say so, because i'm not going to bother with long responses if you just want points, so this will go quicker, which, ironically, would mean more points). Instead of firing off a response as quickly as you can, take your time. Take a few days - take a week! Mull over your response. Consider your objections - take them to their logical ends. Put together a complete and solid response that will take me days to consider how to respond to - and not because it's long, but because the objection is so solid and secure that i can't immediately think of what's wrong with it (if anything). Carefully consider my position and my arguments, so you're not just responding with something that i've already considered and rejected. Hell, focus on just one or maybe two aspects of your rebuttal to my thesis and develop them in full - don't even bother with the minor objections for now - like that morality is all relative, or deeds cannot be judged by motive alone, or whatever. Just pick one and take it to town. By now you've seen plenty enough of my arguments to know my position on most of these things quite well, so you can shoot down most of my objections before i even make them.

    Just... if you're going to do it... do it completely. (Or, if you just want to do a half-assed job because you don't really want to put that much effort into it, that's fine, i understand. But at least tell me so so i know that i can do a half-assed job too.) i don't know about you, but i'd like to learn something new here, if possible, and that's not going to happen if you're just responding with "nuh-uh, no you didn't" every time i make a claim, or tossing off the first idea that comes into your head without even thinking long enough to see if it's even rational.
    Aredon
    Before I address your examples and the many problems I see with them. I would like to address another problem in communication that I see happening here. The basic aspect of your thesis is claiming that action based on faith is always immoral. The issue arises however that you do not have a specifically defined method of saying what is moral and what isn't.

    Quote:
    Whoa whoa whoa. "Witnesses" do not determine the morality of an action. If i killed a man in an alley, put his body in the trash, then took the trash out... and then someone saw me taking out the trash... they would conclude i did a good deed, right? Now you're saying that's true?

    If a person witnessing the event does not determine morality, please define to me what does so that I can better understand your argument. Because apparently my attempt to tell you that morality is based on the person in the society that holds it and is relative to ideology is completely wrong and you shot it down immediately. Regardless of whether or not I agree with you, I'd like to know what method is being used to determine morality under the apparent fact that morality is absolute. Please let me know.

    Now while we are near that subject I'm going to address the other part of that paragraph:
    Quote:
    Motive: To dispose of body to hide my crime.
    Action: Taking out trash.
    Result: Seen by someone as taking out trash, and judged a good person for cleaning out the alley.

    is a good deed? So i can do any horrible crime i want, as long as i can make it look like it's a good deed to the masses, because that would make me a moral person? Come on, man, be serious. Your objection is just nonsense.

    Here you are taking two "deeds" together as one deed, they are in fact separate and have separate moralities.

    Deed #1: Murder No witnesses, but if there had been a witness it would be deemed immoral, and if ever discovered it would again be deemed immoral
    Deed #2: Taking out the trashWitness, but only partly, the deed itself "taking down the trash" is, I suppose, moral. (in my opinion more of a nuetral)However, if the witness were to see the body they would then be a witness to two deeds.

    Now that I have addressed what I view as our other miscommunication, I will finish addressing your post from start to finish in a prepared post as you so enthusiastically requested, but I will require you to define how morality is being determined in your examples.[/size]
    Indi
    Aredon wrote:
    Before I address your examples and the many problems I see with them. I would like to address another problem in communication that I see happening here. The basic aspect of your thesis is claiming that action based on faith is always immoral. The issue arises however that you do not have a specifically defined method of saying what is moral and what isn't.

    The morality of a deed is a measure of how much harm it is intended to cause or prevent. A deed done to lessen (or prevent) harm is a moral deed. A deed done to increase harm is an immoral deed. (And a deed done without any intent to cause or alleviate harm is an amoral deed.)

    (i emphasized the general rule above because that's really the heart of it. The rest is just details.)

    Applying this definition to the deeds i discussed above:



    In the first case, the desire is clearly to prevent some harm - namely the harm to the person who would starve to death. Therefore it is a moral deed. In the second case, the desire is clearly to cause harm. Therefore it is an immoral deed.

    In the second set:



    The first case is clearly a desire to cause harm, and so the deed is immoral. The second case is clearly a desire to alleviate suffering, so the deed is moral.

    As i pointed out, all of these instances presented clear cut cases of desires to cause or alleviate harm. That's obviously for the purpose of keeping the examples simple. In the real world, things aren't always so black and white. Often one is forced to choose between several options, more than one of which may be moral (or immoral). Also, sometimes a choice may lead to causing harm in one area while preventing it in another. It wouldn't be hard to contrive examples where the morality was so obfuscated by complexity that you can't be sure whether the deed is moral or not - but that would only make the picture harder to see, it wouldn't change its structure. The simple rule i outlined above always holds - even though sometimes, in the real world, it can be hard to apply it.

    -----------------------------------------------------

    The first rule is simple, but not really helpful in the core discussion here. The problem we have is about a person (the plane owner, in the main example) is making the same choice (fly or no) for the same reasons (what is best for his passengers)... except in one case using faith and in the other using evidence. So we need some more in-depth rules, but they all follow from the prime rule above.

    Consider another morally simplistic example. You observe three people who are about to be struck by an on coming train. In front of you, you have a control panel that controls the switches to divert the train. There are two switches. You have three choices.
    1.) Push switch A. The train will divert after hitting one person, but before hitting the other two.
    2.) Push switch B. The train will divert after hitting two people, but before hitting the third.
    3.) Push nothing. The train will hit all three people.

    Now, clearly option #3 is immoral - because it causes harm without relieving any. No contest there.

    But the other two both cause some harm (at least one person gets hit) and alleviate some harm (at least one person gets saved). So which is more moral, if any?

    Well, option #1 saves 2 people and kills 1 and option #2 saves 1 person and kills 2. Therefore option #1 prevents more harm and causes less harm than option #2, and thus option #1 is more moral than option #2.

    (Again, this is a very simplistic case, so you can either look at it from the perspective of prevention of harm to determine which is more moral, or from the perspective of the causing of harm to determine which is more immoral. You'll get the same answer either way here in this simple example. In real world examples, things get murkier.)

    And before anyone raises the obvious objection, no it's not just a numbers game. Imagine another simplistic case. There are two buildings with bombs - one has two people in it and one has only one. You only have time to save one building. All other things being equal, yes, it would be more moral to save the two people rather than the one. However! What if the two people were Stalin and Hitler, and the one was Einstein? Then it's not so clear anymore. Or what if they were all ordinary people, but you had an 80% chance of saving the one and only a 70% chance of saving the two? Again, things aren't so clear cut.

    As you can see, it's very easy to muddy the moral waters. But that doesn't change the basic law: In general, the choice that is intended to minimize the balance of harm overall is the more moral choice.

    Furthermore: If you have two choices, and you can determine which one is the more moral choice, it is immoral not to make that choice.

    So!

    The rules for determining morality are:
    1.) The morality of a deed is a measure of how much harm it is intended to cause or prevent.
    2.) If you have two moral choices, the choice that is intended to minimize the balance of harm overall is the more moral choice.
    3.) If you have two moral choices, and you can determine which one is the more moral choice, it is immoral not to make that choice.

    In the real world it is usally not easy to determine which choice minimizes the balance of harm. However, whenever and wherever it is possible, the rules above apply.

    (And for the record, the only thing remotely relative about these moral laws is determining the balance of harm. For example, a Nazi might argue that Jews harm the society, and the harm they do is far worse than the harm done by exterminating them. Thus the Holocaust is moral, by their standards. You could make similar arguments for anything. The problem is that you have to justify those claims - that Jews harm society and that the harm is so bad that it's better to exterminate them - and it is there where everything falls apart for the Nazis, because there is no rational argument to support those claims. And given that logic and reason are universal, and not relative, morality isn't really relative either (although there are some limited cases where it can be).)

    -----------------------------------------------------

    So. Now go back to the original plane owner example. On the surface, it seems like whether he uses faith or evidence to make his choice, his intention is always to do good - to get his passengers where they want to go safely.

    Look deeper.

    The plane owner has two sources of information - his faith in the plane, and his engineers (i.e., evidence). They are presenting him with conflicting answers, and he has to decide which to go with.

    Now, he knows (assuming he's sane and not stupid), that a plane doesn't fly by magic; that it uses its engines to generate thrust and its wings to generate lift and so on. And if any of those things fail, he knows the plane will probably crash. And he is being told that there is a reasonable chance of those things failing. If he ignores that evidence (and goes by his faith) then he is not acting in the best interests of not harming his passengers. Therefore, acting on faith, rather than on evidence, is not acting in a way that is founded on a desire to cause less harm, acting on evidence is (and always is, if you generalize from this example).

    That is why acting on faith is always immoral. Because whenever evidence exists, choosing to act on it is always choosing to act on the best information you have available, and thus always the choice that is based on minimizing the most harm possible (thus, the more moral choice by Rule #2). To not make that choice is immoral (by Rule #3).

    -----------------------------------------------------

    Aredon wrote:
    Deed #1: Murder No witnesses, but if there had been a witness it would be deemed immoral, and if ever discovered it would again be deemed immoral
    Deed #2: Taking out the trashWitness, but only partly, the deed itself "taking down the trash" is, I suppose, moral. (in my opinion more of a nuetral)However, if the witness were to see the body they would then be a witness to two deeds.

    So... i could walk downtown, pick up an underage hooker, have sex with her, kill her, dispose of the body... and as long as no one knew what had happened... it would all be ok? Are you sure you're ok with that being how your version of "morality" would work? You're telling me... that if you were to go to a park, accost an elderly couple taking a walk, rob them, beat them to death with a blunt instrument, and hide the bodies where they will never be found... you would still be a moral person?

    Pretend you're me or any sane and rational person in the world, and someone had just answered yes to the question above. Wouldn't you be sickened? Wouldn't you want to get the hell away from that person, before they decide that they can get away with killing you?

    -----------------------------------------------------

    For the record, this is my moral understanding of the situation above.

    The murder
    This is an act intended to cause harm (by the definition of the word "murder"), and thus, an immoral act.

    Hiding a body
    Even if i had not actually committed the murder, hiding the body would be an act undertaken to cover up a crime. Covering up crimes harms society by preventing the mechanism of justice (which exists to alleviate harm as much as possible by many mechanisms - as a deterrent, as a means for reparations to be enacted, etc.). Therefore, this act is immoral (and not that it doesn't matter whether i committed the murder or not).

    (And of course, the two examples i gave in the paragraph below the quote are both a litany of unnecessary harms, and thus really, really immoral.)
    Aredon
    (I still have a prepared post, but I have a feeling it may be about to change dramaticaly in its structure.)

    Firstly, we run into a problem with paradox logic on your part, but we will get to that after I address the confusion you seem to have had about my method of determining morality.

    Indi wrote:

    Aredon wrote:
    Deed #1: Murder No witnesses, but if there had been a witness it would be deemed immoral, and if ever discovered it would again be deemed immoral
    Deed #2: Taking out the trashWitness, but only partly, the deed itself "taking down the trash" is, I suppose, moral. (in my opinion more of a nuetral)However, if the witness were to see the body they would then be a witness to two deeds.

    So... i could walk downtown, pick up an underage hooker, have sex with her, kill her, dispose of the body... and as long as no one knew what had happened... it would all be ok? Are you sure you're ok with that being how your version of "morality" would work? You're telling me... that if you were to go to a park, accost an elderly couple taking a walk, rob them, beat them to death with a blunt instrument, and hide the bodies where they will never be found... you would still be a moral person?

    Pretend you're me or any sane and rational person in the world, and someone had just answered yes to the question above. Wouldn't you be sickened? Wouldn't you want to get the hell away from that person, before they decide that they can get away with killing you?

    -----------------------------------------------------

    For the record, this is my moral understanding of the situation above.

    The murder
    This is an act intended to cause harm (by the definition of the word "murder"), and thus, an immoral act.

    Hiding a body
    Even if i had not actually committed the murder, hiding the body would be an act undertaken to cover up a crime. Covering up crimes harms society by preventing the mechanism of justice (which exists to alleviate harm as much as possible by many mechanisms - as a deterrent, as a means for reparations to be enacted, etc.). Therefore, this act is immoral (and not that it doesn't matter whether i committed the murder or not).

    (And of course, the two examples i gave in the paragraph below the quote are both a litany of unnecessary harms, and thus really, really immoral.)

    Understood. However I would ask that you would read more closely to what I said and be sure you understand what I said before you assume that I ment something. You will notice in the first line of my quote (now bolded):
    Quote:
    Deed #1: Murder No witnesses, but if there had been a witness it would be deemed immoral, and if ever discovered it would again be deemed immoral


    My method was this:
    If a person WAS present to witness your deed, what would THEY consider your deed. (I designed it to be a neutral system for morality). Let me repeat myself, no witness IS needed, but if there WAS then whatever THEY would judge about it is its morality. We shall deem it: "The Imaginary Witness Method."

    I have asked a few other people about whether or not my method is fair and they have agreed. The question is do you view it as fair? If not, why?


    Now we enter the issue of the paradoxal logic.
    Your proof: tables demonstrating that morality is based on motivation.
    Your method of determining morality: Intention determines morality.


    Do you notice a problem here? You're resulting proof is directly derived from the definition of your method, and thus is a paradox, and effectively proves nothing. Becuase intention is coupled with motivation, and if it isn't then intention is a part of the choice made, which would be the action part of the deed. (which would make me right, which can't be allowed just yet Smile)
    Quote:
    Intention
    1. an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.
    2. A course of action that one intends to follow.
    3. An aim that guides action; an objective.
    However, to prove you are right or wrong we must analyze the following.


    Now then deriving this from your logic:
    -If morality is not relative, then it is absolute.
    Which would mean that if indeed you are correct than EVERY method used to determine morality should yield the same judgement, that morality is determined by motivation. Correct?
    Indi
    Aredon wrote:
    Understood. However I would ask that you would read more closely to what I said and be sure you understand what I said before you assume that I ment something. You will notice in the first line of my quote (now bolded):
    Quote:
    Deed #1: Murder No witnesses, but if there had been a witness it would be deemed immoral, and if ever discovered it would again be deemed immoral


    My method was this:
    If a person WAS present to witness your deed, what would THEY consider your deed. (I designed it to be a neutral system for morality). Let me repeat myself, no witness IS needed, but if there WAS then whatever THEY would judge about it is its morality. We shall deem it: "The Imaginary Witness Method."

    I have asked a few other people about whether or not my method is fair and they have agreed. The question is do you view it as fair? If not, why?

    No, i do not, and i'll tell you why in a minute.

    But first, i should point out that no matter how many people "think" your method is correct, that does not make it correct. Far more people throughout history have believed that the Sun orbits the Earth than vice versa. Popular opinion is irrelevant. All opinions are a waste of time, that goes for yours, your friends' and mine. Nothing matters in philosophy but what can be backed up by reason, otherwise every jackass on the street with an opinion would be a philosopher. And the better the argument made based on reason, the better the philosophical argument, otherwise every jackass on the street with a half-baked opinion would be a great philosopher.

    Up to this point, you have provided absolutely no evidence to back up why your interpretation of morality means anything in this discussion or affects it in any way (which i'll show in a minute). Furthermore, you have done nothing to justify it - the only evidence you have presented so far is that your friends agree with you. i'm sorry, but that's not evidence - that's not even bad evidence.

    Now, as for why i disagree with your formulation.

    First of all, you're making an argument that is totally irrelevant to the discussion. It doesn't matter whether any person or persons think that a deed is moral or not. The question is whether or not the deed is moral. Not whether it appears moral, or whether it is assumed to be moral, whether or not it actually is moral, period - regardless of whether or not it is witnessed or by whom.

    Now you're going to say that there is no way to determine whether or not the action is moral - that the only standard is whether or not witness decide that it's moral. Doesn't work; you're only shifting the problem one step away, not solving it.

    And the whole concept of determining morality by witness vote doesn't work at all. Consider the following problems.

    Problem 1: No witnesses makes an action amoral?

    You never answered my challenges. According to your moral standard both of those situations i described are not immoral acts because they are not witnessed.
    * ...i could walk downtown, pick up an underage hooker, have sex with her, kill her, dispose of the body... and as long as no one knew what had happened... it would all be ok?
    * ...if you were to go to a park, accost an elderly couple taking a walk, rob them, beat them to death with a blunt instrument, and hide the bodies where they will never be found... you would still be a moral person?

    These are ok? And what about good deeds? Two men donate money to a good cause. One gives a dollar, one gives a million dollars. The one who gives a dollar gives his name and hands them a cheque, allowing his picture to be taken by the newspapers. The one who gives a million dollars does it by making it look like the good cause won it in a lottery, and stays anonymous. By your formulation, only the one who gave a dollar is moral, because only his action had witnesses. The one who gives a million dollars without making it look like a donation is not a good person by your standard.

    * You are saying that murder is ok, as long as there are no witnesses.
    * You are saying that rape is ok, as long as you kill the rape victim.
    * You are saying that stealing is fine, as long as you don't get caught.

    ... and you don't see a problem there?

    Problem 2: Witness justice

    Suppose i shot a person in broad daylight, for no reason other than that i didn't like their face. Suppose the event was witnessed by a hundred people. Suppose i was a gang member, and every one of those hundred people were my gang. They all think that i was right to shoot that person, because he was really ugly and none of them liked him either.

    By your formulation, my action was moral. In fact, i am a hero, because a hundred people say i did a good thing.

    ... and you don't see a problem there?

    Problem 3: Witnesses are people too

    Suppose i was walking down the street and minding my own business, when suddenly someone jumped out with a knife and tried to rob me. We struggle, and in the course of the struggle, he gets stabbed by his own knife and dies. Now, suppose another person walked by half-way through the struggle, and saw what appeared to him to be me robbing the other person, who struggles but eventually gets murdered by me.

    By your formulation, my action was immoral. In fact, i should be jailed for aggravated murder in the course of a robbery. In fact, in some places, i should be executed, and by your standard of morality, i would deserve it.

    ... and you don't see a problem there?

    Problem 4: Mob justice?

    So, if a hundred people witness me stabbing the person above, and 51 think i did it in the course of robbing him, and 49 think that it was self defence, my deed is immoral? What if 95 say i murdered him and 5 say self defence - my deed is immoral?

    In your system, justice is determined by the majority - mob rule. Might makes right. Thus, in a population of 10,000, if 9,000 decide the other 1,000 are so evil that they no longer deserve to live -regardless of whether any evidence exists to back this claim up or not - this is just fine by your moral standards.

    ... and you don't see a problem there?

    Problem 5: It doesn't answer any questions anyway!

    Ok, so, i commit a murder. Someone witnesses it and decides that it was an immoral act, and that makes the act immoral. That is pretty much the definition of your claim, right?

    Alright, then answer this: why would the witness decide the action is immoral?

    You see? You haven't solved anything, you've only moved the problem from our external, omniscient perspective, into the perspective of a person with limited knowlege, but the problem remains. It's just now you have to solve it in that person.

    Now, why does that person think the murder was immoral? Use the same concepts as before - that person witnessed an action and a result and guessed at a motivation. The motivation was that i wanted to kill that person, the action is that i stabbed them, and the result is that they died. The witness judges that deed immoral. Why? Consider the same witness, observing another stabbing, but this time circumstances lead them to assume a different motivation. The motivation was that i wanted to survive the attack (self-defence), the action is that i stabbed them, and the result is that they died. Thus it was judged moral. Same action, same result, different motivation, different moral judgement.

    You see? Nothing's changed. You've just introduced a red herring - another level of complexity that doesn't change the fundamental problem, it just makes it harder to determine the true morality because you've introduced the possibility of the witness being wrong or having incomplete facts. (Not to mention that the legitimacy of your moral standard is highly questionable.)

    Perhaps the question of whether or not your formulation of morality is valid belongs in another thread. Perhaps the question here is - does it really make a difference? Try to answer this question - how does moving the moral judgement from our omniscient perspective to the perspective of a witness of limited knowlege change anything? They still have to make the same judgements, only now they have to guess at the motivations, and might be wrong. Does that really change anything, or does it just make things more difficult without any real change?

    Aredon wrote:
    Now we enter the issue of the paradoxal logic.
    Your proof: tables demonstrating that morality is based on motivation.
    Your method of determining morality: Intention determines morality.


    Do you notice a problem here? You're resulting proof is directly derived from the definition of your method, and thus is a paradox, and effectively proves nothing. Becuase intention is coupled with motivation, and if it isn't then intention is a part of the choice made, which would be the action part of the deed. (which would make me right, which can't be allowed just yet Smile)

    You are comparing apples and oranges - not to mention misrepresenting everything i've done so far and completely misunderstanding the nature of proof.

    The tables were not to prove the truth of my moral law, or to derive it - they were to disprove the first one you came up with. i showed, using the tables, that the judgment of morality has to be based on the motivation, not the action or the result (as you claimed). You have not done anything to disprove that.

    Now, if it's true that the morality is a function of the motivation only, then that would mean that any law that defines morality must also be a function of motivation only. The moral law i outlined is a function of motivation only. That does not prove that either the moral law, or the claim that morality is a function of motivation only, or anything, is true. All it does is demonstrate consistency. It could be consistently wrong - but if it is, you have yet to show how.

    i already showed you - i can't prove anything, no one can. We can only disprove. But i have disproved every claim that you have made, and you have to disprove a single one of mine.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Intention
    1. an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.
    2. A course of action that one intends to follow.
    3. An aim that guides action; an objective.
    However, to prove you are right or wrong we must analyze the following.


    Now then deriving this from your logic:
    -If morality is not relative, then it is absolute.
    Which would mean that if indeed you are correct than EVERY method used to determine morality should yield the same judgement, that morality is determined by motivation. Correct?

    No.

    If i am correct than every valid method will yield the same judgement every time - not just "every" method.

    i can't even imagine where you got such a crazy idea from. Of course every method won't yield the same results - not all methods make sense. If they don't make sense, then they can't be valid. The witness method you outlined above doesn't make sense - it is illogical, incomplete, inconsistent, and doesn't really work when applied in reality.

    But yes, if you can come up with a method that is consistent and logical, no matter what that method is, it will yield the same result - that morality is determined by motivation.
    Aredon
    EDIT: Removed some unessisary/exessive rudeness on my part that came from frusteration. Fixed a few typos, and addressed a few things in paragraphs that somehow got deleted.
    Quote:
    Problem 1: No witnesses makes an action amoral?

    NO, please READ for goodness sake.
    Quote:
    Let me repeat myself, no witness IS needed, but if there WAS then whatever THEY would judge about it is its morality. We shall deem it: "The Imaginary Witness Method."

    I said it TWICE!.
    Quote:

    You never answered my challenges.

    Actualy I did by attempting to clear up your confusion on what my method WAS, but apparently I need to explain it so completely you can't ignore that I wrote it.
    Quote:
    According to your moral standard both of those situations i described are not immoral acts because they are not witnessed.

    No... no witness is needed, you imagine that someone HAD been there, what would they think. To quote you "Please read the lines".
    Quote:

    * ...i could walk downtown, pick up an underage hooker, have sex with her, kill her, dispose of the body... and as long as no one knew what had happened... it would all be ok?

    wrong, reguardless of whether or not there was a witness, the deed can be judged as immoral by an imaginary witness. Say that happened, there is no one there, yes, but if there had been what would they have said it was? Immoral? Ok, morality found, end.
    Quote:

    * ...if you were to go to a park, accost an elderly couple taking a walk, rob them, beat them to death with a blunt instrument, and hide the bodies where they will never be found... you would still be a moral person?
    No.. no witness is needed, in the event this happened there could be no one present, yes. The method is placing an imaginary witness into the situation, they don't have to ACTUALY BE REAL, hence "imaginary witness method".

    Quote:
    These are ok? And what about good deeds? Two men donate money to a good cause. One gives a dollar, one gives a million dollars. The one who gives a dollar gives his name and hands them a cheque, allowing his picture to be taken by the newspapers. The one who gives a million dollars does it by making it look like the good cause won it in a lottery, and stays anonymous. By your formulation, only the one who gave a dollar is moral, because only his action had witnesses. The one who gives a million dollars without making it look like a donation is not a good person by your standard.
    By the standard you missunderstood.. yes, by the standard I've been trying to get you to read through and understand... no not even close.

    Quote:
    * You are saying that murder is ok, as long as there are no witnesses.
    * You are saying that rape is ok, as long as you kill the rape victim.
    * You are saying that stealing is fine, as long as you don't get caught.
    Wow, this is getting extremely frusterating trying to get points into your miss-anylizing skull. For the hundreth time please read the example posted, it says nothing about morality being based on whether or not there was actualy a witness existant.

    Quote:
    ... and you don't see a problem there?
    I see your missunderstanding and bashing at an arguement you think I made but didn't.
    Quote:

    Problem 2: Witness justice

    Suppose i shot a person in broad daylight, for no reason other than that i didn't like their face. Suppose the event was witnessed by a hundred people. Suppose i was a gang member, and every one of those hundred people were my gang. They all think that i was right to shoot that person, because he was really ugly and none of them liked him either.

    By your formulation, my action was moral. In fact, i am a hero, because a hundred people say i did a good thing.

    ... and you don't see a problem there?

    Stop there just a moment
    If you were to put an IMAGINARY witness into that situation matching what you define as "absolute morality" what would they think?
    Secondly, their morality would be different then that of the real witnesses wouldn't it. Hmm that sounds a bit like RELATIVE morality there doesn't it.
    Quote:

    Problem 3: Witnesses are people too

    Suppose i was walking down the street and minding my own business, when suddenly someone jumped out with a knife and tried to rob me. We struggle, and in the course of the struggle, he gets stabbed by his own knife and dies. Now, suppose another person walked by half-way through the struggle, and saw what appeared to him to be me robbing the other person, who struggles but eventually gets murdered by me.

    By your formulation, my action was immoral. In fact, i should be jailed for aggravated murder in the course of a robbery. In fact, in some places, i should be executed, and by your standard of morality, i would deserve it.

    ... and you don't see a problem there?

    That is an interesting point about justice and real-life witnesses. Our "Imaginary Witness" is actualy witnessing the entire dead under my method.. you can't pick and choose parts of the "deed timeline" to insert or remove at will to change final judgement. The only problem is you still missunderstanding what I posted, though i said it... shall we count? Looking back I count 3 times in the last two posts, once repeating myself a plethera of times in hopes that you would stop and read for a moment.

    Quote:
    Problem 4: Mob justice?

    So, if a hundred people witness me stabbing the person above, and 51 think i did it in the course of robbing him, and 49 think that it was self defence, my deed is immoral? What if 95 say i murdered him and 5 say self defence - my deed is immoral?

    In your system, justice is determined by the majority - mob rule. Might makes right. Thus, in a population of 10,000, if 9,000 decide the other 1,000 are so evil that they no longer deserve to live -regardless of whether any evidence exists to back this claim up or not - this is just fine by your moral standards.

    ... and you don't see a problem there?
    what the heck.. and you complain that I suposedly insert stuff into your arguement. What in the world is that!?. Not once did I say anything about the majority. Before you use my "system" perhaps you should stop to read it through. As, interestingly enough you yelled at me for not doing and then went and did it yourself. Though i've been Printing each post you've made so far and reading it through. Perhaps you should do something similar, unless your already doing your Half-Arsed job.

    Quote:
    Problem 5: It doesn't answer any questions anyway!

    Ok, so, i commit a murder. Someone witnesses it and decides that it was an immoral act, and that makes the act immoral. That is pretty much the definition of your claim, right?

    Alright, then answer this: why would the witness decide the action is immoral?

    No, but I supose its close enough that I can work with it.
    Alright here goes the rundown. Say someone commits a murder, there is no one to witness it. You are in a omnipotent perspective still, but you imagine that there had been a witness, they would judge the deed as immoral based on the fact that they took a human life, in your Absolute morality, is immoral, Period.
    (Once again to avoid missunderstanding for the eightieth time, no witness IS needed, this is IMAGINARY)

    Quote:
    You see? You haven't solved anything, you've only moved the problem from our external, omniscient perspective, into the perspective of a person with limited knowlege, but the problem remains. It's just now you have to solve it in that person.

    No, I've moved it to a real-world, nuetral, and fully applicable determinant.

    Quote:

    Now, why does that person think the murder was immoral?

    Becuase aparently morality is absolute, acording to you that is.

    Quote:

    Use the same concepts as before - that person witnessed an action and a result and guessed at a motivation. The motivation was that i wanted to kill that person, the action is that i stabbed them, and the result is that they died. The witness judges that deed immoral. Why? Consider the same witness, observing another stabbing, but this time circumstances lead them to assume a different motivation. The motivation was that i wanted to survive the attack (self-defence), the action is that i stabbed them, and the result is that they died. Thus it was judged moral. Same action, same result, different motivation, different moral judgement.

    Ahh thats the trick though isn't it, it has nothing to do with motivation. When a witness judges morality they judge it off your action, they could give to craps about your motivation.

    With the second part of that example, many people would argue that it was still immoral that he took the life of his attacker reguardless of whether or not it was self-defence. Which brings us to the issue of aparent Absolute Morality, if taking the life of a human being is always immoral or even desiring to take the life of a human being is always immoral, how then can it be justified that he (under your method) intended to kill his attacker. How is that a moral "deed" reguardless of whether or not it is in defence.
    Quote:

    You see?

    Yes but clearly you do not. For the remainder of our discussion, please make sure you do the following.

    • Read my post, completely, top to bottum, chances are if you don't you will miss one of the very vital points and then go off on a tangent like this last post of yours
    • If your going to ask questions such as "you see" or "Right" stop the post writing, give me a chance to respond and then react to what I actualy say instead of assumeing what i will say, becuase up to now its been extremely irritating to deal with.

    I'm not going to address these two paragraphs that were omited based on the fact that I know they were based off the assumed method you so kindly transposed onto the real one. If you realy want me to address them, understand my actual method, and then repost them in some form and i will respond.

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Now we enter the issue of the paradoxal logic.
    Your proof: tables demonstrating that morality is based on motivation.
    Your method of determining morality: Intention determines morality.


    Do you notice a problem here? You're resulting proof is directly derived from the definition of your method, and thus is a paradox, and effectively proves nothing. Becuase intention is coupled with motivation, and if it isn't then intention is a part of the choice made, which would be the action part of the deed. (which would make me right, which can't be allowed just yet Smile)

    You are comparing apples and oranges - not to mention misrepresenting everything i've done so far and completely misunderstanding the nature of proof.


    Quote:
    The tables were not to prove the truth of my moral law, or to derive it - they were to disprove the first one you came up with. i showed, using the tables, that the judgment of morality has to be based on the motivation, not the action or the result (as you claimed). You have not done anything to disprove that.

    Method #1 - Morality from intention
    Therefore by definition all things that come from this will come from motivation, reguardless of action or result, thus arriving at your proof.
    Method #2 - Creating an imaginary third-person standpoint that is applicable in real-world morality. Would yield action as the determinant, and NOT arrive at your proof.

    Method #1 is a paradox becuase you made the proof then when asked to come up with a method, basicaly defined what was shown in your proof.

    Quote:
    Now, if it's true that the morality is a function of the motivation only, then that would mean that any law that defines morality must also be a function of motivation only. The moral law i outlined is a function of motivation only. That does not prove that either the moral law, or the claim that morality is a function of motivation only, or anything, is true. All it does is demonstrate consistency. It could be consistently wrong - but if it is, you have yet to show how.


    Yes exactly, the moral law you wrote came from that morality is determined souly by motivation. Which in turn makes your proof, absolutely pointless, becuase if your "law" were true and not under dispute, that morality is always from intention/motivation. Then your tables are completely uneeded. Becuase the "law" that they are based on is true, therefore the evidence will always be true. Relize however that your "law" is not necisarily "law" and therefore your proof is not necisarily "true". Get it? (that was the paradox i was talking about)

    Quote:
    i already showed you - i can't prove anything, no one can. We can only disprove. But i have disproved every claim that you have made, and you have to disprove a single one of mine.


    You did not disprove, you disagreed and provided proof based on your theory to "disprove" another theory. What I mean to say is, if your proof for finding that morality is based on motivation ran of the Moral finding method Of morality coming from intention, how does that table prove anything unless some diferent method of finding morality yielded the same thing that happened in your table. (Perhaps a certain third-person omnipotent example that was given as an idea earlier? There is a problem with that though isn't there, it would yield action as the determinant which would not be what was "proven" in your table. Well for goodness sakes we better throw that out and give it any consideration! It goes against the Proof *GASP* we can't have that.)
    I apologize for the sarcasm, I'm just growing exceedingly irritated at my aparent inability to get things through your logic process so you can understand.


    And yes i was running under the assumetion you knew i ment every valid method.

    In the prepared post that I had made I made a series of intervews based off of your old examples "proving" that it was based on morality. I read each motivation action and result, and left the morality for them to choose. A few of your examples were disagreed with, a few were even desided as neutrall apposed to "bad" or "good". However, these interviews only function as proof under the relization of Relative Morality. Which, unfortunately, you refuse to believe for a second. So my proof becomes null untill you admit to relative morality as an existant factor.

    This little discussion HAD a purpose, it was to get you to acnolege other possible ways for finding morality. Becuase under your circular system, nothing can be proved or disproved becuase it all operates in the tiny frame of reference you've set for it. Nothing can be shown to you or made so you can understand or grasp it untill you are willing to step outside that tiny box you've made. When you are ready to step out, read, understand, and consider. We can continue this conversation, untill then argueing with you will be pointless as you are driven by the desire to be right and not the desire to learn.
    Indi
    Aredon wrote:
    EDIT: Removed some unessisary/exessive rudeness on my part that came from frusteration.

    You missed some. ^_^;

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Problem 1: No witnesses makes an action amoral?

    NO, please READ for goodness sake.
    Quote:
    Let me repeat myself, no witness IS needed, but if there WAS then whatever THEY would judge about it is its morality. We shall deem it: "The Imaginary Witness Method."

    I said it TWICE!.

    But what you haven't said, and what i've asked for, is how using an imaginary omniscient witness is any different from my method. Isn't it exactly the same thing? And i mean exactly? My method uses the laws i wrote to determine the morality of the deed that was "witnessed" by an imaginary, omniscient observer (call it IOO, for brevity). Your method uses - well, you haven't really explained what yet, but something - to determine the morality of the deed that was "witnessed" by IOO. What's the diff?

    Given that you haven't explained the difference, i had to assume it. i assumed that the only difference is that your IOO uses his personal, relative moral judgement, whereas my IOO uses the laws. That seemed to be the only difference between the two methods.

    And if that's the case, then your morality needs an observer to make the action moral or not. Because in your method, morality is subjective and determined by the observer. Take the observer away, and poof, no moral judgement.

    Your response, stated so uneloquently and abusively in the previous post, is (paraphrased) "if there is no observer, make one up". "Imagine one".

    So my objection still stands - without an observer, deeds are not immoral in your system.

    But it gets worse. If one determines morality by imagining an observer - and if there is no absolute imaginary observer to use, because all morality is relative and observer-dependent (in your system) - then one can imagine any kind of observer one wants to. i imagine usually one would imagine an IOO that uses the same moral system as themselves... but why would they have to? Remember i asked how the observer, even an IOO, determines whether a deed is moral or not? Well, if there is no absolute method, then why can't i imagine an IOO that has a moral system that says "rape is good!"? Hey, morality is relative, right? So it wouldn't be wrong to do that.

    Therefore, once again, according to your theory, deeds do not have morality unless there is an observer, who applies their own subjective morality to judge the morality of the deed. Unless i'm totally misunderstanding you, that is and has been your thesis ever since you introduced this "witness" nonsense. And yes, despite your insults and abuse, that means that deeds are immoral unless witnessed. In order to make them moral or immoral, you have to introduce a witness, even if it's an imaginary one.

    You see? i have read your argument quite clearly, thank you. And i think i do understand it. In fact, i'm beginning to think that i understand your argument better than you do. To paraphrase you: "Let me repeat myself, a witness IS needed, because if the only way to determine morality is by subjective judgement, you need a subject to do the judging - even if you have to make up an imaginary one."

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:

    You never answered my challenges.

    Actualy I did by attempting to clear up your confusion on what my method WAS, but apparently I need to explain it so completely you can't ignore that I wrote it.

    But the problem is... you remain confused about what your method is, because you missed the point of my challenge completely.

    The correct answers to both of my challenges - using your method - is: "i can't answer that" (or at the very least, "depends"). To do your method, you would have to imagine an observer who then impresses their moral judgement on the scene, right? Then what? Then morality is determined by the subjective, relative morality of this imaginary observer, right? So what's the final judgement? i can't answer that; it depends on whatever subjective moral framework you give your imaginary observer. Sure, it would probably be yours, but it could be anybody's, right? So why not someone who thinks this kind of thing is a good thing?

    Therefore, the answers you gave are... wrong. They are the moral judgements that would have been made if the IOO you use... happens to have your moral standards (or the moral standards of anyone whose standards are roughly similar to yours). You either didn't realize that, or you neglected to mention it.

    Wait, what's that you say? But everyone "normal" thinks rape/murder/theft is wrong? *confusion* But... but... either that means that those moral standards are absolute... or that's justice determined by the majority... and... you berated me for suggesting that that's what your system entails?

    Anyway, it's not true that it's always normal to think those things are wrong. There have been many cases throughout history of cultures that think any one or more of those are perfectly justified. The Thuggee spring to mind as an example.

    Therefore those examples that i gave are neither moral nor immoral in and of themselves - nothing is. Murder is ok, rape is just fine... until you apply the subjective determination of a witness, imaginary or no, who then decides the morality. And unless the witness is using absolute moral standards, there is no reason to believe that they will necessarily decide that any of those things are immoral. That is the nature of the moral standard you are advocating, is it not?

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    These are ok? And what about good deeds? Two men donate money to a good cause. One gives a dollar, one gives a million dollars. The one who gives a dollar gives his name and hands them a cheque, allowing his picture to be taken by the newspapers. The one who gives a million dollars does it by making it look like the good cause won it in a lottery, and stays anonymous. By your formulation, only the one who gave a dollar is moral, because only his action had witnesses. The one who gives a million dollars without making it look like a donation is not a good person by your standard.
    By the standard you missunderstood.. yes, by the standard I've been trying to get you to read through and understand... no not even close.

    Alright, i think i've made the problems with your method clear enough by this point that you can try again. Once again, same example... is the man who gave a dollar moral? Is the man who gave a million dollars moral? Is either more moral than the other? Explain. In detail. Explain the process and the final moral judgement. Every step. Clearly. Don't just tell me i'm stupid, show me why i'm so stupid.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:

    Problem 2: Witness justice

    Suppose i shot a person in broad daylight, for no reason other than that i didn't like their face. Suppose the event was witnessed by a hundred people. Suppose i was a gang member, and every one of those hundred people were my gang. They all think that i was right to shoot that person, because he was really ugly and none of them liked him either.

    By your formulation, my action was moral. In fact, i am a hero, because a hundred people say i did a good thing.

    ... and you don't see a problem there?

    Stop there just a moment
    If you were to put an IMAGINARY witness into that situation matching what you define as "absolute morality" what would they think?
    Secondly, their morality would be different then that of the real witnesses wouldn't it. Hmm that sounds a bit like RELATIVE morality there doesn't it.

    Er... no? Not really?

    If you were to apply the absolute moral laws i outlined using an observer that knew all the facts, they would conclude that the killing was not immoral. No problem, right?

    If you were to apply the same moral laws using an observer that only witnessed the second half, they would conclude that the killing was immoral.

    According to you that means that apparently means that morality is relative. Uh, no? If the two observers disagree about the morality of the deed, and both are applying the same absolute laws, then it must mean that one or both does not have all the facts and their moral conclusion is incorrect. And lo! Such is the case above. The second observer does not have all the facts, and their moral conclusion is wrong. When two people disagree, it means one is right and one is wrong (as in this case), or both are wrong. It's not possible for both to be right. That's how absolute laws work, FYI.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Problem 4: Mob justice?

    So, if a hundred people witness me stabbing the person above, and 51 think i did it in the course of robbing him, and 49 think that it was self defence, my deed is immoral? What if 95 say i murdered him and 5 say self defence - my deed is immoral?

    In your system, justice is determined by the majority - mob rule. Might makes right. Thus, in a population of 10,000, if 9,000 decide the other 1,000 are so evil that they no longer deserve to live -regardless of whether any evidence exists to back this claim up or not - this is just fine by your moral standards.

    ... and you don't see a problem there?
    what the heck.. and you complain that I suposedly insert stuff into your arguement. What in the world is that!?. Not once did I say anything about the majority. Before you use my "system" perhaps you should stop to read it through. As, interestingly enough you yelled at me for not doing and then went and did it yourself. Though i've been Printing each post you've made so far and reading it through. Perhaps you should do something similar, unless your already doing your Half-Arsed job.

    Alright. See, here's a tip. Whenever someone says something about your ideas that you did not expect, the proper first step to take is to consider why. They might be right - there might be some aspect of your idea that you had not considered yet. Only after you've considered how they came up with their claim, and determined that it is not justified, may you then begin berating them - if that is your desire.

    Did you take a moment to consider why i might have made that claim? Well, if you don't want to bother to think, i'll think for you.

    Consider. Your claim is that morality is not absolute, it is relative. Right? i mean, that's what you explicitly stated. Now, is justice not based on morality (and i don't necessarily mean legal justice, i mean the determination of what should not be permitted and how it should be punished)? Well, obviously it is. Alright, but which morals? In my system, that's not a difficult question. But in yours, it is. If morality is relative, then the morals of a society must be determined by one of three methods.
    1.) Pick a random moral framework - totally unrelated to the morality of the population - and call it the official moral standard. (That is, eliminate the relativity of morality by assigning an arbitrary absolute.)
    2.) Create an aggregate moral framework - making a moral framework built by a union or intersection of all the things permitted or denied by all moral frameworks in the population. So if everyone in the population says premarital sex is immoral (or if some say it's immoral and no one says it's moral), it becomes unjust.
    3.) Create an average moral framework, by averaging out the morality of the population and creating a standard that most people agree with.

    Now consider each of the possibilities:
    1.) Means that justice is totally random.
    2.) Is impossible except for very small or very uniform groups, because as the groups get larger, the potential sets become either absurdly large or absurdly small (depending on whether you use a union or an intersection).
    3.) Means that justice is determined by the morals of the majority.

    Of the three, only the third makes sense. Thus, in your system, justice would have to be determined by the majority.

    Now, in my system there are very simple absolute laws that not only determine which categories of deeds might be called unjust, but which ones deserve punishment and how.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Problem 5: It doesn't answer any questions anyway!

    Ok, so, i commit a murder. Someone witnesses it and decides that it was an immoral act, and that makes the act immoral. That is pretty much the definition of your claim, right?

    Alright, then answer this: why would the witness decide the action is immoral?

    No, but I supose its close enough that I can work with it.
    Alright here goes the rundown. Say someone commits a murder, there is no one to witness it. You are in a omnipotent perspective still, but you imagine that there had been a witness, they would judge the deed as immoral based on the fact that they took a human life, in your Absolute morality, is immoral, Period.
    (Once again to avoid missunderstanding for the eightieth time, no witness IS needed, this is IMAGINARY)

    You haven't answered the question.

    A murder is committed. It is witnessed by someone - either IOO or a real observer. They determine the murder is immoral. That's what you've repeated over and over.

    BUT HOW?

    How does the observer, real or imaginary, determine that the murder is immoral? You say "based on the fact that they took a human life". Why is it immoral to take a human life, particularly in this case? How does anyone decide that taking human life is immoral? What rule do they use to make that judgement?

    Do they believe killing another human is immoral because their parents told them so? Then why did their parents believe?

    Do they believe killing another human is immoral because God told them so? Well then, they have a fairly absolute standard, don't they? Of course, you're going to have to explain why most religions have the same rules, and groups with no real god-ordained laws at all (pagan indigenous groups, or atheists) come to pretty much the same core conclusions if there really are no true absolute standards.

    i get it. You can stop being ignorant and abusive. i get your message. Someone - even if they're a figment of your imagination - observes the deed and judges it moral or immoral. i get that. But you still have to say how they make that judgement. And you haven't done so. As i said (with your reply):
    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    You see? You haven't solved anything, you've only moved the problem from our external, omniscient perspective, into the perspective of a person with limited knowlege, but the problem remains. It's just now you have to solve it in that person.

    No, I've moved it to a real-world, nuetral, and fully applicable determinant.

    And how is the morality determined there? You still haven't answered that. Somewhere in all of the arrogant abuse, you must have forgotten it. So, here's your chance to fill it in.

    As you say, you've moved the moral determination from where i was making it - a god-like, omniscient perspective - to a "real-world, nuetral, and fully applicable determinant". Ok, fine, sure, whatever. And now that it's been moved there, how is the moral judgement made? What laws does that determinant use to make the judgement. And if its the laws of the land... what determines those laws.

    You see? You're not answering any questions at all, you're just creating logical circles in your attempt to dodge making a final judgement.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:

    Now, why does that person think the murder was immoral?

    Becuase aparently morality is absolute, acording to you that is.

    Indeed. And, according to you...?

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    The tables were not to prove the truth of my moral law, or to derive it - they were to disprove the first one you came up with. i showed, using the tables, that the judgment of morality has to be based on the motivation, not the action or the result (as you claimed). You have not done anything to disprove that.

    Method #1 - Morality from intention
    Therefore by definition all things that come from this will come from motivation, reguardless of action or result, thus arriving at your proof.
    Method #2 - Creating an imaginary third-person standpoint that is applicable in real-world morality. Would yield action as the determinant, and NOT arrive at your proof.

    Method #1 is a paradox becuase you made the proof then when asked to come up with a method, basicaly defined what was shown in your proof.

    Ah, no.

    First, you might want to look up the word "paradox". You keep using that word. i do not think it means what you think it means. (obscure pop culture reference! ^_^)

    Second, you're comparing apples and oranges. i did not use the tables to prove the method i outlined, and i did not use the method i outlined to prove the tables. They are two entirely separate things that do not depend on one another. One could be wrong, but the other could still stand. However, the fact that they agree is good. If they didn't agree, then we would know for sure that one or the other - or both - must be wrong. The fact that they agree does not prove that either or both is right, but at least it's not proof that they're wrong.

    Now, you seem to have suffered a memory lapse. Don't you remember what the purpose of the tables was? It was to prove that action cannot be the determinant of a deed's morality. And it's been proven. Whatever else we may know or not know, we know the following as fact at this point: the morality of a deed cannot be solely determined by either the action or the result. It doesn't matter what method you happen to be using to determine what is moral and what is not - as long as you get the same answers to the examples i gave, then it is proven. And if you don't get the same answers, then you have some explaining to do.

    Go ahead and try it. Use your method - or any method - to determine the morality of the tables, and see if you get any difference in the final judgements.

    For the record, this is what really happened so far. You claimed that action was the determinant of morality, and i said it wasn't. You provided no evidence to back up your claim, and i provided the tables to back up mine. In those tables, i made no mention of exactly how a deed is judged immoral, because it doesn't matter. Unless you disagree with the final moral judgments, then it stands as proven that the action or the result cannot be the sole determinants of the morality of a deed. Does that mean i've proved that motive is? Of course not. It could be a complex function of the three parts. But i asked you for a counter-example, and you have provided none.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Now, if it's true that the morality is a function of the motivation only, then that would mean that any law that defines morality must also be a function of motivation only. The moral law i outlined is a function of motivation only. That does not prove that either the moral law, or the claim that morality is a function of motivation only, or anything, is true. All it does is demonstrate consistency. It could be consistently wrong - but if it is, you have yet to show how.


    Yes exactly, the moral law you wrote came from that morality is determined souly by motivation. Which in turn makes your proof, absolutely pointless, becuase if your "law" were true and not under dispute, that morality is always from intention/motivation. Then your tables are completely uneeded. Becuase the "law" that they are based on is true, therefore the evidence will always be true. Relize however that your "law" is not necisarily "law" and therefore your proof is not necisarily "true". Get it? (that was the paradox i was talking about)

    What proof? i have provided no proof. You keep insisting that i have provided a proof that is somehow invalid. i stated the moral laws, and then i demonstrated them, showing how they seem to work with what we already know. That's not proof. That's just what's called a sanity check.

    To repeat myself yet again, i can't prove any of this stuff. No one can. It's impossible to prove. What you have to do is try to disprove it, which you haven't get gotten around to because you've been busy making empty complaints about "paradoxes" and invalid proofs.

    Once again, the law was not based on the tables. The tables are not based on the law. They are entirely separate - the only link between them is that they both happened to be posted by me. That is quite literally it.

    Aredon wrote:
    In the prepared post that I had made I made a series of intervews based off of your old examples "proving" that it was based on morality. I read each motivation action and result, and left the morality for them to choose. A few of your examples were disagreed with, a few were even desided as neutrall apposed to "bad" or "good". However, these interviews only function as proof under the relization of Relative Morality. Which, unfortunately, you refuse to believe for a second. So my proof becomes null untill you admit to relative morality as an existant factor.

    Your "proof", huh? Still think that it's possible to prove something? Well, you can give it a whirl.

    However, i will not accept that relative morality exists unless you can somehow show it's plausible. Doesn't that seem like a rational position to take? What is the logic of accepting something that makes no sense just because you believe it? Don't be ridiculous. You make your system coherent, and then we'll talk. As it stands now, it's not.

    Want my advice? Make a new thread and get some help trying to develop this system of yours. Because right now, that system is a woeful mess, and you're not doing it any justice trying to assemble it here in the middle of a different discussion. And the fact that you don't see that a relative morality must lead to a relative justice, which in turn must be somehow converted into a single justice system - ie, by the majority's vote - shows that you have not properly thought it through. Go out, build your case, then come back. This is not a discussion about relative morality, this is a discussion about faith. This is not the proper place for you to develop a moral system, and your system is far from complete and needs serious development.
    mike1reynolds
    Do you have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, or do you simply believe that it might? Not all faith is blind. Only blind faith is based on no evidence.

    You are conflating blind faith with all faith. Blind faith is another term for bigotry. In that term it is clearly immoral in all cases.

    The thing that drives me nuts is that even people that are into religion and spirituality will accept this erroneous definition of faith as being devoid of evidence. Just because the evidence comes from an inner state, as the Source of all Consciousness logically should if It really exists, even the faithful are ready to dismiss this as non-evidence just because it is not physically tangible. Love is intangible too, but how many atheists would argue that there is no evidence for it?

    Once the debate is framed with such exclusively atheistic definitions no further meaningful debate is possible. If there is going to be a debate, a meaningful common ground of definitions must be found. What is taking place here is that the two sides are automatically using very different definitions of the term. I might be quick to blame the atheists for trying to take advantage, but the religionists hardly objected and for the most part signed of on these notions. If even they will do so it is hard to blame the atheists for doing so.

    HereticMonkey was the only one really pushing a distinction like this, but everyone else seems to have ignored him.
    Aredon
    *sigh* It would appear as though heavy ground rules to prevent you from splitting and twisting my system are now needed. I thought you would take more time to think over it and relize it, but whatever. We can do this the hell-a-long way.

    Firstly here are a list of things you may NOT do in my system:

    • Say "well if there wasn't a witness", no, the system operates around the confines of there being an imaginary witness present. So when you are finding morality using my system, there will always be an imaginary witness. You cannot simply say "well there isn't one so your system can't work". That is not how the system works, it is not the "remove an imaginary witness" system. Once you remove the witness you are no longer using the system at all, so no morality will be changed by the witness not being present, becuase the system is no longer running. I cannot stress that enough.
    • say the imaginary witness that was created has any other morality besides that of the absolute reality that you hold true.
    • say that the witness is in any way something other than imaginary. The witness cannot actualy exist, period.
    • say that the witness only saw a part of the deed, the witness sees the entire timeline under the system, not becuase they are choosing to, but becuase that is very simply how you use this system for find morality...
    • make the witness a part of the deed being commited, or in any way phisicaly involved or bringing about change in the context of the deed, before the deed, or after the deed.
    • claim that the third-person witness is somehow omnipotent and knows the motivation behind the deed.



    Fundamental parts of the system:
    Step 1
    Assuming a deed has been commited, containing motivation, action, and result. Then you take the deed as you know it (we're assuming in an omnipotent perspective), and you insert an imaginary witness into the situation. (again, you may not choose to remove the witness and claim that it changes morality, becuase when you remove the witness you are no longer using the system. In fact without a witness this system doesn't exist, so there is no way to remove the witness and say that the deed is no immoral becuase no one saw it.)

    Step 2
    Now that you have an imaginary witness that has seen the entire deed. Under absolute morality, what would they say is the morality of the deed commited?

    Under "absolute" morality, murder is always immoral. (when you don't know the motivation)

    Your witness does not know the motivation and is judgeing the deed's morality based on the action portion.


    It is a two step system, with rules that you have bypassed.

    Quote:
    how is the moral judgement made?

    Based on the fact that motivation is unknown, our witness bases their moral judgement off the action witnessed in the deed.

    Simple Example:
    Person doing the deed
    (ommiting motivation becuase it is outside perspective of witness)
    action: Kills a man
    result: man dies
    Witness
    Views: action, murder
    Takes into acount: Morality of deed based on action
    Morality of deed: Immoral (becuase murder = immoral under absolute morality)

    If we apply this system to one of your old examples we find:
    Motvation: Desire to releave someone of pain and suffering (ommitted)
    Action: Prick with poison needle
    Result: death of person
    judgement: Immoral

    Oddly enough this result matches that of what 98% of people in my interview thought. The most common phrase was "They didn't have the right to choose whether or not this person lived or died, reguardless of a desire to relieve them of their suffering, murder is murder." Even with knowing the motivation, so it is possible that this example is flawed, but under the assumtion that it isn't. My method shows morality shifting in this deed.


    [hr]
    Part 2
    Quote:
    They all think that i was right to shoot that person, because he was really ugly and none of them liked him either.

    The issue becomes if the mob held the morality and the witness held that murder is immoral (becuase that is an absolute) then the group's morality would be different then that of the witness (who has seen the entire situation and is neutral, non-bias, and most importantly, absolute.)Which would make the morality relative to the viewer. Right?

    Quote:
    Consider. Your claim is that morality is not absolute, it is relative. Right? i mean, that's what you explicitly stated. Now, is justice not based on morality (and i don't necessarily mean legal justice, i mean the determination of what should not be permitted and how it should be punished)? Well, obviously it is. Alright, but which morals? In my system, that's not a difficult question. But in yours, it is. If morality is relative, then the morals of a society must be determined by one of three methods.
    1.) Pick a random moral framework - totally unrelated to the morality of the population - and call it the official moral standard. (That is, eliminate the relativity of morality by assigning an arbitrary absolute.)
    2.) Create an aggregate moral framework - making a moral framework built by a union or intersection of all the things permitted or denied by all moral frameworks in the population. So if everyone in the population says premarital sex is immoral (or if some say it's immoral and no one says it's moral), it becomes unjust.
    3.) Create an average moral framework, by averaging out the morality of the population and creating a standard that most people agree with.

    Now consider each of the possibilities:
    1.) Means that justice is totally random.
    2.) Is impossible except for very small or very uniform groups, because as the groups get larger, the potential sets become either absurdly large or absurdly small (depending on whether you use a union or an intersection).
    3.) Means that justice is determined by the morals of the majority.

    Of the three, only the third makes sense. Thus, in your system, justice would have to be determined by the majority.

    Now, in my system there are very simple absolute laws that not only determine which categories of deeds might be called unjust, but which ones deserve punishment and how.

    The problem is the system I have been using operates of your claim that morality is absolute, not my claim that morality is relative. In fact I addressed the two seperately. I made examples trying to get you to see and understand how relative morality is possible, I also had a seperate point involving the Imaginary Witness Method Which utilized your absolute morality. (unless you used the word system to talk about both points seperately, which would make this a missunderstanding on my part)

    I see your point here, yes morality would be determind by the majority, after all, a jurry utilizes a democratic vote system where majority vote desides guilt or inocence right? Under relative morality, yes the majority's morality takes over the minority's.

    So if there were absolute laws of morality in justice, why would we need a jurry? Wouldn't all the special cases become undiscussed?





    Now then if
    Quote:
    The tables are not based on the law.

    Is true, then what method of finding morality IS part of the tables?
    Indi
    Aredon wrote:
    Firstly here are a list of things you may NOT do in my system:
      ...
    • Say "well if there wasn't a witness", no, the system operates around the confines of there being an imaginary witness present. So when you are finding morality using my system, there will always be an imaginary witness. You cannot simply say "well there isn't one so your system can't work". That is not how the system works, it is not the "remove an imaginary witness" system. Once you remove the witness you are no longer using the system at all, so no morality will be changed by the witness not being present, becuase the system is no longer running. I cannot stress that enough.

    Now, let's take a moment to look back at where we've been so far, because i'm frankly not impressed by your behaviour. You have been rude and abusive to me because i can't or won't understand your position. You have stated all along that this is because i'm being deliberately obtuse and difficult - never once even considering the fact that it may be because you have been inconsistent and unclear.

    Well now, let's look at what we have so far.
    • In this post: You introduce the idea of a witness being required to judge the morality of the deed. Note that you don't explain anything, or even offer any details or rationale or method. As far as i can tell, the idea of witnesses had never even come up before that point. You just say, out of the blue, "Um, if a person were to see action 1b. They would not know his motivation was to beat up a mugger for fun, all that would be known was that he helped a person in the ally, his action was moral."
    • In this post: i respond, pointing out that the requirement of a witness introduces a whole host of problems. i mention that if the witness does not know the whole story, the deed might be misjudged. i also point out that if a deed must be judged by a witness, then taking away the witness makes the deed morally meaningless.
    • In this post: You give a VERY brief explanation of what you meant. The explanation is pretty much two sentences, and both are in the form of examples. Still no ratinonale provided, and still not a word about what method you're using. Still don't say a witness is required, or always present, just "if there had been a witness".
    • In this post: i put my foot down and point out the absurdity of requiring a real witness. Note that up to this point, you have still not mentioned that it would be ok to have an imaginary witness. You still talk about what a real witness would see "if" they were there.
    • In this post: For the first time, you describe your method... partly. You mention that if there is no real witness present, you imagine one. You still have not mentioned anything about the fact that this witness must witness more than just the action. Money quote: "Let me repeat myself, no witness IS needed, but if there WAS then whatever THEY would judge about it is its morality."
    • In this post: Still working on the assumption that you're only talking about a witness who views the action - not the whole backstory - and still working on the assumption that you're using relative morality (because that was what you said you were using) - i pointed out the numerous fallacies that arise from what i can figure of the method that you have described so far. Of course, you have still not yet actually explained your method.
    • In this post: You insult me repeatedly for getting it wrong. You insult me for pointing out that justice cannot be absolute in a system of relative morality (you still haven't said that you're using absolute morality). You say again and again that no witness is needed, but you imagine one - still not specifying a witness that has seen what preceeded the deed. Still not specifying how the witness determines morality.
    • In this post: Finally i point out the missing components in your method. i introduce the fact that the observer is absolutely necessary. Not that it can be imagined, but that it must be imagined. i also point out that the observer must be omniscient - that they can't have just seen the action (something that you claimed previously). And i also point out that relative morality can't work with this system.
    • And finally in the previous post: You start by insulting me again, implying that i'm either too dense or too stubborn to understand your position - after i just finished explaining it to you. You then introduce several "rules" that i am to follow. Ironically, some of the rules are:
      a.) That a witness must be present - even if one must be imagined - which contradicts what you repeated several times before that "... no witness IS needed..." and what was what i was saying all along.
      b.) The witness must have observed more than just the action, which contradicts what you said before about the witness observing only the action, and which i pointed out to you right from the beginning.
      c.) The witness uses absolute moral judgements, which contradicts your position in the entire first half of our discussion, but which, of course, has been mine.
    ...

    ...

    ... AND I'M THE ONE WHO NEEDS "heavy ground rules to prevent [me] from splitting and twisting [your] system"!?!?!?

    You don't need a witness... then you do need a witness. Just viewing the action is all that matters... no the observer has to see "the entire timeline". You have contradicted yourself so many times that i don't even know for sure where we're at anymore, and through it all you insinuated that i was being an ass at every turn. You: "if a witness was there, they would make the judgement." Me: "so if there is no witness, there is no morality?" You: "NO! READ WHAT I SAID AND STOP BEING SO DENSE! NO WITNESS IS NECESSARY!" Me: "but how can there be a moral judgement if there's no witness - there has to be some observer, even if it's an imaginary one." You: "YOU ARE SO THICK-HEADED THAT YOU WON'T SEE ANY OTHER POINT BESIDES YOUR OWN! I SAID IT TWICE! NO WITNESS IS NECESSARY!" Me: *proves that some kind of witness is necessary, even if only an imaginary one* You: "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THIS CONVERSATION WITHOUT ME SETTING RULES FOR YOU LIKE A CHILD? FINE! HERE ARE SOME RULES FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU WON'T TAKE TIME AND THINK MY WAY! RULE 1: A WITNESS IS NECESSARY!" Me: "... right..."

    Aredon wrote:
    It is a two step system, with rules that you have bypassed.

    Quote:
    how is the moral judgement made?

    Based on the fact that motivation is unknown, our witness bases their moral judgement off the action witnessed in the deed.

    Alright. Now that you have finally defined your moral system (more or less - it's still incomplete), let's test it to see if it works.

    Here is the scenario.

    A man walks into a mall. The man is relatively-well dressed - he's not apparently a gangster or anything. In fact, let's say he looks like this. This man walks into the mall's food court and stands there, casually minding his own business, looking over the fast food places.

    This man is also in the food court. He sees the other man, and without a word, promptly grabs a knife, runs over and starts fighting bitterly with him. After a few moments' struggle, the second man stabs the first man, killing him on the spot.

    Now, you have the action and the result. You have every component of the deed except the motivation. If your claim is true, and the motivation is not a factor in the moral judgement, you shouldn't need it. You know what happened. That is what you say your method requires.

    According to you (at least, currently according to you, because it changes), murder is absolutely immoral, and the morality of a deed is judged by the action. Well, the man in the suit has committed a murder. Therefore, his deed was immoral. Correct?

    Do you feel that it is right to make that judgement with the information you have? If not, what information are you missing (except the motivation of course, because you swear blind that you don't need it)?

    Aredon wrote:
    Simple Example:
    Person doing the deed
    (ommiting motivation becuase it is outside perspective of witness)
    action: Kills a man
    result: man dies
    Witness
    Views: action, murder
    Takes into acount: Morality of deed based on action
    Morality of deed: Immoral (becuase murder = immoral under absolute morality)

    If we apply this system to one of your old examples we find:
    Motvation: Desire to releave someone of pain and suffering (ommitted)
    Action: Prick with poison needle
    Result: death of person
    judgement: Immoral

    Oddly enough this result matches that of what 98% of people in my interview thought. The most common phrase was "They didn't have the right to choose whether or not this person lived or died, reguardless of a desire to relieve them of their suffering, murder is murder." Even with knowing the motivation, so it is possible that this example is flawed, but under the assumtion that it isn't. My method shows morality shifting in this deed.

    First of all, exactly how many people did you interview? How did you phrase the situation (what were the interview questions)?

    Aside from that, you keep saying that murder is just immoral. YOu still haven't said how you determine that. You seem to be saying "it just is". Sorry, doesn't fly. Why is murder immoral?

    Aredon wrote:
    So if there were absolute laws of morality in justice, why would we need a jurry? Wouldn't all the special cases become undiscussed?

    Ah, no. That's not what juries do.

    A jury does not determine whether murder is immoral or not, it attempts to do one of the following:
    1.) Determine if the deed was actually murder, and not an accidental or necessary (self-defence) killing.
    2.) Determine whether you are the one who did the deed.

    See? The question put to the jury is not whether murder is moral or not. That should already be determined. The question is whether or not what was done was murder, and whether or not you are the one that did it.

    More relevant is the case of lawmakers - the ones who decide what laws to make. If morality is absolute, then they shouldn't be required, right? It should be obvious.

    In theory yes. In practice no. Remember moral laws are decided on the basis of harm. The problem becomes... what causes harm and what doesn't? It's not always clear. Sure, murder is pretty obvious. But what about slavery? It took us thousands of years to nail that one. Copyright? It could be another thousand years before we figure that one out.

    Aredon wrote:
    Now then if
    Quote:
    The tables are not based on the law.

    Is true, then what method of finding morality IS part of the tables?

    Doesn't matter. Unspecified.

    You're using the tables backwards. Don't bother with how the morality was determined, just figure out whether or not you agree with the moral judgements. If you do, then you learn something about how morality should be determined. See? Backwards. Use the tables to learn how to determine morality, don't used any given method of morality to determine the tables (the latter would just be circular and really pointless).

    Just look at the tables and see if you agree with the final moral judgements made in each case. If not, explain why not.

    If you do agree with the final moral judgements, then the tables show that neither action nor result can be the sole determining factor. That's all they do. They don't prove that motivation is the sole determining factor, and the certainly don't prove my absolute moral determination method.
    Aredon
    Quote:
    a.) That a witness must be present - even if one must be imagined - which contradicts what you repeated several times before that "... no witness IS needed..." and what was what i was saying all along.

    What was ment by no witness is needed, is that no real witness is needed for it to function, but by using my method you must insert an imaginary one, and if you remove the imaginary witness you are no longer using my system. That a little more clear?
    Quote:

    b.) The witness must have observed more than just the action, which contradicts what you said before about the witness observing only the action, and which i pointed out to you right from the beginning.

    Hmm please quote for me where I said that the witness observed more than the action, if i said something similar to that I'd be willing to bet thats not what I was trying to implie.
    Quote:

    c.) The witness uses absolute moral judgements, which contradicts your position in the entire first half of our discussion, but which, of course, has been mine.[/list]...

    There were two approches to get my arguement across, rather than fight you on morality being absolute or relative, which you frankly told me has no place in this topic. I accepted that and desided to move forward based on your theory. I wasn't contradicting my position, i was putting myself in the shoes of yours.

    Not to be rude but im going to insert some things into this quote that better clarifie many many parts of it, and will perhaps lead you to a better understanding.
    Quote:
    You don't need a REAL witness... then you do need an imaginary witness. Just viewing the action is all that happens with the method and therefore with the imaginary witness method, all that matters... no the observer has to see "the entire timeline". You have contradicted yourself so many times that i don't even know for sure where we're at anymore, and through it all you insinuated that i was being an ass at every turn. You: "if a witness was there, they would make the judgement." Me: "so if there is no witness, there is no morality?" You: "NO! READ WHAT I SAID AND STOP BEING SO DENSE! NO WITNESS IS NECESSARY!" Me: "but how can there be a moral judgement if there's no witness - there has to be some observer, even if it's an imaginary one." You: "YOU ARE SO THICK-HEADED THAT YOU WON'T SEE ANY OTHER POINT BESIDES YOUR OWN! I SAID IT TWICE! NO WITNESS IS NECESSARY!" Me: *proves that some kind of witness is necessary, even if only an imaginary one* You: "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THIS CONVERSATION WITHOUT ME SETTING RULES FOR YOU LIKE A CHILD? FINE! HERE ARE SOME RULES FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU WON'T TAKE TIME AND THINK MY WAY! RULE 1: A WITNESS IS NECESSARY!" Me: "... right..."

    This was an example of my frusteration coming out, so i returned the line you used on me when I did not read all of your post and clearly understood it, I felt it was fair to ask the same of you.
    I felt that you were rather thick headed when you didn't grasp what I was trying to say, when the truth is I left out a rather vital word. no real witness is needed.
    I was under the impression this was the part where you tried to prove things based on what you thought was my method by adding and subtracting things. I assumed the rules of my method were known to you, but they weren't so I set them out for you. Just like I assumed with your method that the "omnipotent judge" had done things such as witness the entire timeline of the deed (which by the way is not the same thing as motivation, action, result, that would be the deed itself, the timeline of the deed is the period of time in which is happened) or knew the motivation entirely. Becuase clearly had I claimed either I would be crossing a rule in your method and therefore agrivating you further, understand where mine comes from now?
    Firstly, I don't think I called you a child, and if I did I was probubly just extremely frusterated and im sorry. Secondly, rule #1 was that the imaginary witness cannot be removed from the judging of the deed without all halt and stop of the use of my method, becuase without an imaginary witness the method does not exist let alone make moral judgement. It wasn't that a real witness must be present, or even an imaginary one, it was that if you were going to use my method there has to be an imaginary witness or you are not.. using.. my method.. Any questions here?
    Quote:

    Quote:
    Quote:
    how is the moral judgement made?

    Based on the fact that motivation is unknown, our witness bases their moral judgement off the action witnessed in the deed.

    Alright. Now that you have finally defined your moral system (more or less - it's still incomplete), let's test it to see if it works.

    Here is the scenario.

    A man walks into a mall. The man is relatively-well dressed - he's not apparently a gangster or anything. In fact, let's say he looks like this. This man walks into the mall's food court and stands there, casually minding his own business, looking over the fast food places.

    This man is also in the food court. He sees the other man, and without a word, promptly grabs a knife, runs over and starts fighting bitterly with him. After a few moments' struggle, the second man stabs the first man, killing him on the spot.

    Now, you have the action and the result. You have every component of the deed except the motivation. If your claim is true, and the motivation is not a factor in the moral judgement, you shouldn't need it. You know what happened. That is what you say your method requires.

    According to you (at least, currently according to you, because it changes), murder is absolutely immoral, and the morality of a deed is judged by the action. Well, the man in the suit has committed a murder. Therefore, his deed was immoral. Correct?

    Correct
    Quote:

    Do you feel that it is right to make that judgement with the information you have? If not, what information are you missing (except the motivation of course, because you swear blind that you don't need it)?

    First off, yes, becuase in the real world that is how people find morality of things they witness, which is why I chose this method. Secondly, I did not swear blind that I didn't need it for every case, I said it isn't used in my method. There is a slight difference.

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Simple Example:
    Person doing the deed
    (ommiting motivation becuase it is outside perspective of witness)
    action: Kills a man
    result: man dies
    Witness
    Views: action, murder
    Takes into acount: Morality of deed based on action
    Morality of deed: Immoral (becuase murder = immoral under absolute morality)

    If we apply this system to one of your old examples we find:
    Motvation: Desire to releave someone of pain and suffering (ommitted)
    Action: Prick with poison needle
    Result: death of person
    judgement: Immoral

    Oddly enough this result matches that of what 98% of people in my interview thought. The most common phrase was "They didn't have the right to choose whether or not this person lived or died, reguardless of a desire to relieve them of their suffering, murder is murder." Even with knowing the motivation, so it is possible that this example is flawed, but under the assumtion that it isn't. My method shows morality shifting in this deed.

    First of all, exactly how many people did you interview? How did you phrase the situation (what were the interview questions)?

    I interviewed around 20, and the question was worded exactly like this for each example:
    "Alright, lets say you posess motivation X"
    "You commit action Y"
    "Result Z happens"
    "Is your deed moral or immoral?"

    Quote:
    Aside from that, you keep saying that murder is just immoral. YOu still haven't said how you determine that. You seem to be saying "it just is". Sorry, doesn't fly. Why is murder immoral?

    Becuase morality is absolute, and therefore under our absolute reality it is viewed as immoral becuase of the value of human life being robbed from them. Unless somehow our absolute morality has acceptions now?

    Secondly, its against nearly every religion and the law. As you compaired before, morality to justice. Wouldn't those two factors impart their moral standards onto the society in which they live? If Law against X exists, but the people assume that X isn't wrong, thats a bit wierd isn't it?

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    So if there were absolute laws of morality in justice, why would we need a jurry? Wouldn't all the special cases become undiscussed?

    Ah, no. That's not what juries do.

    A jury does not determine whether murder is immoral or not, it attempts to do one of the following:
    1.) Determine if the deed was actually murder, and not an accidental or necessary (self-defence) killing.
    2.) Determine whether you are the one who did the deed.

    See? The question put to the jury is not whether murder is moral or not. That should already be determined. The question is whether or not what was done was murder, and whether or not you are the one that did it.
    Yep, gotcha. Cool Forgot what point I was trying to make.. but yeah you are right.

    Quote:
    More relevant is the case of lawmakers - the ones who decide what laws to make. If morality is absolute, then they shouldn't be required, right? It should be obvious.
    Good call.

    Quote:
    In theory yes. In practice no. Remember moral laws are decided on the basis of harm. The problem becomes... what causes harm and what doesn't? It's not always clear. Sure, murder is pretty obvious. But what about slavery? It took us thousands of years to nail that one. Copyright? It could be another thousand years before we figure that one out.

    Its interesting that you take notice of the fact that our moral standards have shifted.

    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Now then if
    Quote:
    The tables are not based on the law.

    Is true, then what method of finding morality IS part of the tables?

    Doesn't matter. Unspecified.

    You're using the tables backwards. Don't bother with how the morality was determined, just figure out whether or not you agree with the moral judgements. If you do, then you learn something about how morality should be determined. See? Backwards. Use the tables to learn how to determine morality, don't used any given method of morality to determine the tables (the latter would just be circular and really pointless).

    Why can only one method be applied to finding morality when it clearly varies on view (1st person, third person, omnipotent, etc.)?

    Quote:
    Just look at the tables and see if you agree with the final moral judgements made in each case. If not, explain why not.
    Good then I will resurect my prepared post.

    Quote:
    If you do agree with the final moral judgements, then the tables show that neither action nor result can be the sole determining factor. That's all they do. They don't prove that motivation is the sole determining factor, and the certainly don't prove my absolute moral determination method.
    Actualy I think the case varries on what determines morality, I'll redress my prepared post and try to be clear on that.
    Bikerman
    I completely missed this thread for some reason...and it's one of the more interesting ones....so I'll jump in now and muck it up Smile

    Interesting hypothesis. The immediate question it begs (and I apologise if this is repetition because I have not yet read all the thread..I will, I will).

    Given that uncertainty is inherent to some degree in any system of rational decision making, are we talking about a qualitative thing or a quantitative thing when we allocate blame or decide on immorality?
    In other words, even the person acting on best available evidence, who is scientifically literate, knows that there is a small chance that he/she may be basing a decision on a flawed premiss and is therefore to that small extent guilty of immorality.
    If this is the case, which I am not sure of yet, then it is a debate about degree of culpability rather than allocation of culpability per se, and the conclusion would be that it is 'most' moral to act with the best information possible, knowing that there is still a small chance that this could be wrong. I would say that here the person acting on good evidence and in 'good faith' may possibly be a tiny bit guilty of immoral actions should their assumptions prove incorrect and catastrophe follow, but it would be a very tiny amount indeed which would be proportional to the amount of faith that the person had demanded from the injured parties and the amount of information and/or risk statement that the person had carried out beforehand, coupled to the amount of alternative choice available to the person and the degree of freedom available not to submit the injured party to the risk in the first place (whatever that may be).
    I base this on the assumption (which I believe) that you are morally responsible for events and actions which occur in direct proportion to your ability to influence them - thus we in the west, for example, are more guilty for the Iraq stuff than someone in an Algerian jail because we could influence policy more than that person, even if still a very tiny amount (that is just an example, not an invitation to start discussing Iraq or other off-topic threads).

    I also build into this a basic position that only actions which adversly affect others should be considered as possibly immoral since I believe that risking ones own life/health/wealth should not be considered an immoral action since it implied a fixed system of morality to which the individual is forced to submit - ie that all life is sacred or special and that any injury is therefore to be condemned....

    Just firing off a couple of thoughts....now I'd better read the rest and see how silly I look Smile)
    Indi
    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Alright. Now that you have finally defined your moral system (more or less - it's still incomplete), let's test it to see if it works.

    Here is the scenario.

    A man walks into a mall. The man is relatively-well dressed - he's not apparently a gangster or anything. In fact, let's say he looks like this. This man walks into the mall's food court and stands there, casually minding his own business, looking over the fast food places.

    This man is also in the food court. He sees the other man, and without a word, promptly grabs a knife, runs over and starts fighting bitterly with him. After a few moments' struggle, the second man stabs the first man, killing him on the spot.

    Now, you have the action and the result. You have every component of the deed except the motivation. If your claim is true, and the motivation is not a factor in the moral judgement, you shouldn't need it. You know what happened. That is what you say your method requires.

    According to you (at least, currently according to you, because it changes), murder is absolutely immoral, and the morality of a deed is judged by the action. Well, the man in the suit has committed a murder. Therefore, his deed was immoral. Correct?

    Correct
    Quote:

    Do you feel that it is right to make that judgement with the information you have? If not, what information are you missing (except the motivation of course, because you swear blind that you don't need it)?

    First off, yes, becuase in the real world that is how people find morality of things they witness, which is why I chose this method. Secondly, I did not swear blind that I didn't need it for every case, I said it isn't used in my method. There is a slight difference.

    Alright, so nothing is used except the actual action. The moral judgement you made is final because you had all the information necessary to make a moral judgement. There is nothing missing, and no equivocation. This is it. The only thing you need is the action, and i have described the action totally, therefore you have all the information you need. The deed i described above is immoral. End of story.

    Is that correct?

    Aredon wrote:
    First off, yes, becuase in the real world that is how people find morality of things they witness, which is why I chose this method.

    Are you sure that that is the way that people determine morality in the real world? It is true that the only thing they can witness directly is the action. But is that all they use to make the moral determination?

    Think about this. If it were true that the only thing people use to determine the morality of a deed is the action, then why do we have court cases for "crimes" where the defendent is known to have done the action? Think of cases where someone was murdered, but the murderer claimed to do it because they were being abused, for example. Shouldn't that be open and shut? The action was a killing and the killer freely admits to the action; case closed. Why aren't accidents immoral (same action, but in one case there is deliberate motive)? Why is killing in self-defence morally justified? Why is it ok for a police sniper to shoot an armed hostage-taker, but not ok for the hostage-taker to shoot the policeman?

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Simple Example:
    Person doing the deed
    (ommiting motivation becuase it is outside perspective of witness)
    action: Kills a man
    result: man dies
    Witness
    Views: action, murder
    Takes into acount: Morality of deed based on action
    Morality of deed: Immoral (becuase murder = immoral under absolute morality)

    If we apply this system to one of your old examples we find:
    Motvation: Desire to releave someone of pain and suffering (ommitted)
    Action: Prick with poison needle
    Result: death of person
    judgement: Immoral

    Oddly enough this result matches that of what 98% of people in my interview thought. The most common phrase was "They didn't have the right to choose whether or not this person lived or died, reguardless of a desire to relieve them of their suffering, murder is murder." Even with knowing the motivation, so it is possible that this example is flawed, but under the assumtion that it isn't. My method shows morality shifting in this deed.

    First of all, exactly how many people did you interview? How did you phrase the situation (what were the interview questions)?

    I interviewed around 20, and the question was worded exactly like this for each example:
    "Alright, lets say you posess motivation X"
    "You commit action Y"
    "Result Z happens"
    "Is your deed moral or immoral?"

    How did you get a 98% result with a sample of around 20 people?

    (And are you aware that recent polls in the US put the number of people that support euthanasia at over 60% (with some populations supporting at over 80%)?)

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Aside from that, you keep saying that murder is just immoral. YOu still haven't said how you determine that. You seem to be saying "it just is". Sorry, doesn't fly. Why is murder immoral?

    Becuase morality is absolute, and therefore under our absolute reality it is viewed as immoral becuase of the value of human life being robbed from them. Unless somehow our absolute morality has acceptions now?

    Secondly, its against nearly every religion and the law. As you compaired before, morality to justice. Wouldn't those two factors impart their moral standards onto the society in which they live? If Law against X exists, but the people assume that X isn't wrong, thats a bit wierd isn't it?

    The law follows morality, not vice versa, and for every religion that says X, there are ten religions that say not-X. Something is not immoral because it is illegal (by law or religion). It is illegal because it is immoral. So no, law does not impart its moral standards onto society. Society imparts its moral standards onto its laws (even if those moral standards are themselves immoral, or even illogical).

    So you can't just say morality is absolute and end it there. Absolute morals are fine, but those morals still have to be determined some way. What determines the "value of human life"? Why is taking it "robbery"; who's to say who it belongs to anyway (why doesn't your life belong to your parents, or the state, or your church, or...)? And even if your life does belong to you, and it does have value, and taking it is robbery... why is robbery immoral?

    Now, i can leave you to ponder all this on your own, and i recommend that you do so. Keep following the trail of questions and eventually you will get to something like Kant, probably. i can speed things along by telling you that you'll most likely end up with the moral laws i outlined, but you have no reason to take my word for it. So i guess you should follow the trail, but don't stop with easy answers. You keep coming to points where you say "just because" (even if not in those words explicitly). Nothing is "just because". Always check to make sure that every claim is backed up, and that they're not begging the question.

    Aredon wrote:
    Its interesting that you take notice of the fact that our moral standards have shifted.

    Of course. But that doesn't mean morality itself is relative, just our understanding of it. The laws of science have shifted over time, too. Surely you wouldn't argue that that means that the actual laws of nature have changed?

    It took thousands of years to nail down that slavery is wrong. Very bright people like Aristotle argued that it was right. Even the bible supports it, if you're a religious type, which covers all Abrahamic religions; and although Hinduism doesn't explicitly support chattel slavery, it comes damn close by supporting using (lower caste) human beings as ends to means, which pretty much covers Dharmic religions (and i can't speak on Taoist religions). It wasn't until the late 1700s and early 1800s that real progress was made in determining the philosophical ramifications of slavery.

    At no point - ever - was slavery actually right. Just like at no point - ever - was the Earth actually flat, nor did the Sun orbit it. The people who thought the Earth was flat, and those who believed in geocentrism, were wrong. As our knowlege increased, we learned that. Similarly, the people who thought that slavery was ok were wrong. We know that know. The rules didn't change. We just didn't know them before.

    We still don't know all the rules. We're still trying to figure things out. Is torture morally acceptible? Hard to say. Right now, we have outlawed it on a practical measure - because it doesn't work - but this is a temporary solution, not a final one. Just because something doesn't work is no reason to declare it illegal or immoral. Eventually, someone will come along with the answer, proving conclusively that torture is either right or wrong. But in the meantime that doesn't mean that torture is not actually morally wrong (or right), we just don't know. The absolute rule exists, even now. We just haven't found it out yet.

    But those rules we have figured out we can speak absolutely on, and a whatever judgement would have been made today would have been valid a thousand years ago, or a thousand years in the future - just as with physical laws; they don't become suddenly valid when they are first discovered, they were always valid, and always will be.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    Aredon wrote:
    Now then if
    Quote:
    The tables are not based on the law.

    Is true, then what method of finding morality IS part of the tables?

    Doesn't matter. Unspecified.

    You're using the tables backwards. Don't bother with how the morality was determined, just figure out whether or not you agree with the moral judgements. If you do, then you learn something about how morality should be determined. See? Backwards. Use the tables to learn how to determine morality, don't used any given method of morality to determine the tables (the latter would just be circular and really pointless).

    Why can only one method be applied to finding morality when it clearly varies on view (1st person, third person, omnipotent, etc.)?

    Does it? Or is the variation only because some perspectives do not have all the information?

    Or to put it another way: If there were an omniscient observer, what judgement would it make? What judgement would person A make? If it is different from the omniscient's judgement, why is that? Is it because they don't know as much? Doesn't that mean that their judgement is based on ignorance, and thus invalid?

    Logically, you cannot expect a moral judgement to be correct if it is made without all of the facts. You recognize this yourself - it was one of the "rules" you set for me. What are these different "views" you describe, if not simply a set of people who all have a different portion of the whole truth?

    Bikerman wrote:
    I would say that here the person acting on good evidence and in 'good faith'

    Whoa, careful. i have to stop you right there on this point because it's important. As far as i can tell it doesn't change the overall gist of your post, but i can't be sure until i'm sure we're all using the same definition of the word "faith".

    The "faith" i am talking about is belief without external evidence. "External" in this case means external to the mind of the agent doing the believing, not external to the body. If i decide that i am hungry based on a rumbling in my stomach, that is not based on faith.

    But there is another definition of "faith" that you use in the phrase "in 'good faith'". Imagine a case where i have a neighbour named Barney, whose lawn looks like crap after some recent construction, and i own my own successful landscaping business. Another neighbour, Fred, tells me that Barney was bemoaning the fact that he now has the ugliest lawn on the block and wants to return it to its former glory, but had to go on an extended business trip so he can do nothing until he gets back. My past history with Fred has told me that he is an honest and reliable person, so i have good reason to believe what he says. Barney's ugly lawn is making the neighbourhood antsy because it lowers the property values. We can't contact Barney because we don't know how to reach him. Acting on my own initiative, in good faith, i landscape Barney's yard, returning it back to the state it was in before the construction, figuring that Barney will be pleased to see it done when he gets back, and that he wouldn't begrudge paying me a fair price for the work - at least covering my material and labour costs.

    Now, at no point anywhere in the narrative above was there anything approaching the idea of belief without evidence. i have good reason to believe that Barney will be happy to see his lawn repaired, and good reason to believe that i am a good person to do the job. Barney's a good friend, so i have good reason to believe he'd recoup my costs. There was no "faith" involved (believe without evidence), but i acted "in good faith".

    To act in good faith means to act as if a formal contract was made before one was made, under the presumption that it will be. It has nothing to do with belief without evidence.

    i just had to make that crystal clear, but i don't think it changes anything, really.

    Bikerman wrote:
    Given that uncertainty is inherent to some degree in any system of rational decision making, are we talking about a qualitative thing or a quantitative thing when we allocate blame or decide on immorality?
    In other words, even the person acting on best available evidence, who is scientifically literate, knows that there is a small chance that he/she may be basing a decision on a flawed premiss and is therefore to that small extent guilty of immorality.

    Totally qualitative.

    It is true that often evidence alone can be ambiguous - even without throwing faith into the mix. However, if a conclusion can possibly be reached by evidence, regardless of the uncertainty in that conclusion and regardless of how much evidence they have or its quality, is it moral to ignore that conclusion in favour of a conclusion reached by means of faith?

    Bikerman wrote:
    If this is the case, which I am not sure of yet, then it is a debate about degree of culpability rather than allocation of culpability per se, and the conclusion would be that it is 'most' moral to act with the best information possible, knowing that there is still a small chance that this could be wrong. I would say that here the person acting on good evidence and in 'good faith' may possibly be a tiny bit guilty of immoral actions should their assumptions prove incorrect and catastrophe follow, but it would be a very tiny amount indeed which would be proportional to the amount of faith that the person had demanded from the injured parties and the amount of information and/or risk statement that the person had carried out beforehand, coupled to the amount of alternative choice available to the person and the degree of freedom available not to submit the injured party to the risk in the first place (whatever that may be).
    I base this on the assumption (which I believe) that you are morally responsible for events and actions which occur in direct proportion to your ability to influence them - thus we in the west, for example, are more guilty for the Iraq stuff than someone in an Algerian jail because we could influence policy more than that person, even if still a very tiny amount (that is just an example, not an invitation to start discussing Iraq or other off-topic threads).

    Responsibility in the context of negligence is based on a question of whether or not you should have realized that you did not have enough evidence to make a decision. That is related to the question i am asking, but not quite it.

    As we've both mentioned, when one is determining what to believe, one often has to aggregate a large amount of occasionally conflicting data, find some way to organize and prioritize it, and then make a single, final judgement that may have some degree of uncertainty.

    But take a step back, before that final, single judgement. Collect all of the potential conclusions you have before narrowing it down to that final one, and split them into two categories. In one category put all conclusions that you reach on the basis of evidence, and in the other, all conclusions that you reach on the basis of faith (anything that does not derive from external evidence). You may have dozens of potential conclusions in each category; there may be conflicting evidence from different sources, and you may be led to conflicting conclusions by different faiths (faith in your religion may lead you to one conclusion, faith in the government another).

    Boil each of the categories down to a single conclusion. You now have only two potential conclusions left - one dictated by the sum total of all your faith, and one dictated by the sum total of all the external evidence.

    Now, the thesis of my original post is that it is never moral - under any circumstances - to accept the conclusion dictated by faith.

    ------------------------

    This is related to what you discussed, but at a higher, more abstract level. Let me show you how your topic - immorality arising from negligence - falls back into it.

    Consider the case of a man who must make a decision. Let's say he is deciding whether or not to give the ok to a new food product. He runs some tests, and they say the product is safe enough. But there is some reason to realistically expect that he should still be unsure, and that he should run more tests.

    Now, this man is not an evil person. He doesn't want to release an unsafe product. Yet he is aware that he has not properly tested it. So why would he release it?

    The answer: because he believes that he has done enough and that it will be safe. Why does he believe this? Not from the evidence - the evidence suggests he has not done enough (or else this wouldn't be a case of negligence). Something else must be telling him that it's ok, something that is not justified by evidence. That would be faith.

    Acting negligently means that you must have had evidence that your action was inappropriate, but did not act according to that evidence. Therefore, you acted according to something else. Either you just wanted to be cruel, or you had a belief not justified by evidence that your action was appropriate. A belief that is not based on evidence is faith.

    Therefore, the crime in negligence, assuming no hostile intent, is acting on faith.

    Bikerman wrote:
    I also build into this a basic position that only actions which adversly affect others should be considered as possibly immoral [...]

    Hang on there. ^_^

    Do you mean actions which adversely affect others, or actions which could adversely affect others? Is it necessary to succeed in causing harm for an action to be immoral, or is it only necessary that you intend to?

    Furthermore, is it necessary to be capable of causing harm to be immoral? Consider two people in two different countries. One country has a notable minority of black people and the other does not have a single black person in it. Both people in question despise blacks, thinking they are subhuman vermin who should be exterminated. If it is true that it is necessary to be able to cause harm to be immoral, than only one of those two people are being immoral, because only one of them has the capability of acting on their hate. And the other person is innocent?

    Bikerman wrote:
    Just firing off a couple of thoughts....now I'd better read the rest and see how silly I look Smile)

    The bulk of the rest of the thread centers on two questions - although only one of them is being discussed at present. The discussion is on whether or not morality lies in action or motivation. For example, is murder immoral because of the action - the killing - or the intention - desire to harm (by killing)?

    My position is that motivation determines morality. My evidence is that the same action - killing - can be declared moral or immoral (or amoral) dependent on why it was done. A murder is immoral, but an accidental killing (not assuming negligence, but an honest mistake) is amoral. Same action, different motive, different moral. A man who risks his life to take down an armed robber before he can shoot hostages, killing him in the struggle, is being moral. Same action again, yet another motive, yet another moral.

    Aredon is claiming that only action and action alone determines morality, but he or she has not yet clarified this, nor have they answered any of the challenges i presented. So i cannot do justice to explaining Aredon's position - you should ask Aredon.
    Bikerman
    Indi wrote:

    Bikerman wrote:
    I would say that here the person acting on good evidence and in 'good faith'

    Whoa, careful. i have to stop you right there on this point because it's important. As far as i can tell it doesn't change the overall gist of your post, but i can't be sure until i'm sure we're all using the same definition of the word "faith".
    Quite right - that was a stupid choice of phrase.
    Quote:


    The "faith" i am talking about is belief without external evidence. "External" in this case means external to the mind of the agent doing the believing, not external to the body. If i decide that i am hungry based on a rumbling in my stomach, that is not based on faith.
    Agreed
    Quote:

    But there is another definition of "faith" that you use in the phrase "in 'good faith'". Imagine a case where i have a neighbour named Barney, whose lawn looks like crap after some recent construction, and i own my own successful landscaping business. Another neighbour, Fred, tells me that Barney was bemoaning the fact that he now has the ugliest lawn on the block and wants to return it to its former glory, but had to go on an extended business trip so he can do nothing until he gets back. My past history with Fred has told me that he is an honest and reliable person, so i have good reason to believe what he says. Barney's ugly lawn is making the neighbourhood antsy because it lowers the property values. We can't contact Barney because we don't know how to reach him. Acting on my own initiative, in good faith, i landscape Barney's yard, returning it back to the state it was in before the construction, figuring that Barney will be pleased to see it done when he gets back, and that he wouldn't begrudge paying me a fair price for the work - at least covering my material and labour costs.

    Now, at no point anywhere in the narrative above was there anything approaching the idea of belief without evidence. i have good reason to believe that Barney will be happy to see his lawn repaired, and good reason to believe that i am a good person to do the job. Barney's a good friend, so i have good reason to believe he'd recoup my costs. There was no "faith" involved (believe without evidence), but i acted "in good faith".

    To act in good faith means to act as if a formal contract was made before one was made, under the presumption that it will be. It has nothing to do with belief without evidence.
    Yes, I agree completely with that and it actually exactly what I intended to convey by the phrase, but it was a dumb choice in this circumstance because it inevitably opens a door to misconstruction or confusion.
    I'll totally confirm that my usage of 'in good faith' was meant in exactly the way described - acting in a way which is intended to be correct and proper but certainly not in a manner driven or even influenced by belief in a non testable or, worse, refuted concept, idea, belief system or 'wish'.
    Quote:

    i just had to make that crystal clear, but i don't think it changes anything, really.
    Agreed and I think it was necessary for you to pick it up lest it come back to bite later.
    [/quote]
    Bikerman wrote:
    Given that uncertainty is inherent to some degree in any system of rational decision making, are we talking about a qualitative thing or a quantitative thing when we allocate blame or decide on immorality?
    In other words, even the person acting on best available evidence, who is scientifically literate, knows that there is a small chance that he/she may be basing a decision on a flawed premiss and is therefore to that small extent guilty of immorality.

    Totally qualitative.

    It is true that often evidence alone can be ambiguous - even without throwing faith into the mix. However, if a conclusion can possibly be reached by evidence, regardless of the uncertainty in that conclusion and regardless of how much evidence they have or its quality, is it moral to ignore that conclusion in favour of a conclusion reached by means of faith?
    [/quote]In such case I would agree, providing that the scope for error and the level of uncertainty is transparent and open to refutation, debate and questioning (which would be, again, part of my intended meaning of the badly chosen phrase earlier - not taking advantage of, or concealing, any uncertainty in a rational decision is part of what I would define as proper action). I accept your argument to this point without reservation.
    Quote:

    Bikerman wrote:
    If this is the case, which I am not sure of yet, then it is a debate about degree of culpability rather than allocation of culpability per se, and the conclusion would be that it is 'most' moral to act with the best information possible, knowing that there is still a small chance that this could be wrong. I would say that here the person acting on good evidence and in 'good faith' may possibly be a tiny bit guilty of immoral actions should their assumptions prove incorrect and catastrophe follow, but it would be a very tiny amount indeed which would be proportional to the amount of faith that the person had demanded from the injured parties and the amount of information and/or risk statement that the person had carried out beforehand, coupled to the amount of alternative choice available to the person and the degree of freedom available not to submit the injured party to the risk in the first place (whatever that may be).
    I base this on the assumption (which I believe) that you are morally responsible for events and actions which occur in direct proportion to your ability to influence them - thus we in the west, for example, are more guilty for the Iraq stuff than someone in an Algerian jail because we could influence policy more than that person, even if still a very tiny amount (that is just an example, not an invitation to start discussing Iraq or other off-topic threads).

    Responsibility in the context of negligence is based on a question of whether or not you should have realized that you did not have enough evidence to make a decision. That is related to the question i am asking, but not quite it.
    Hmm, there is a problem here with the legal definition in this case since (certainly under UK law, I can't speak for US or other legislative systems) negligence is legally defined here in terms of 'what a reasonable person would have done in that position'.
    Now if the word 'reasonable' is taken to mean what I believe it means - i.e. something almost synonymous to the word 'rational' - then there is no problem. If, however, 'reasonable' is interpreted (as it has been many times) in terms of some norm or perceived 'average' then I completely reject the notion that it is either fair or just. I suspect that we are both of a mind here since what I am supporting is a view that rationality (which I take as meaning pretty much what we would call the informed, evidentially based decision making) is the key and judgement based on some notion that many other people would have made the same mistake seems to me to be ethically vacuous and logically flawed. This bastardised defining of the word 'reasonable' is dangerous and leads to exactly the sort of scenario you warn against since it opens the possibility that in a faith based society 'reasonable' would be defined as a decision based purely on faith. The word has undertones of an appeal to popularity whereas 'rational' is clearer and, I think, closer to the intended meaning. Anyway - I digress but do not diverge since I am still in agreement.
    [quote]
    As we've both mentioned, when one is determining what to believe, one often has to aggregate a large amount of occasionally conflicting data, find some way to organize and prioritize it, and then make a single, final judgement that may have some degree of uncertainty.

    But take a step back, before that final, single judgement. Collect all of the potential conclusions you have before narrowing it down to that final one, and split them into two categories. In one category put all conclusions that you reach on the basis of evidence, and in the other, all conclusions that you reach on the basis of faith (anything that does not derive from external evidence). You may have dozens of potential conclusions in each category; there may be conflicting evidence from different sources, and you may be led to conflicting conclusions by different faiths (faith in your religion may lead you to one conclusion, faith in the government another).

    Boil each of the categories down to a single conclusion. You now have only two potential conclusions left - one dictated by the sum total of all your faith, and one dictated by the sum total of all the external evidence.

    Now, the thesis of my original post is that it is never moral - under any circumstances - to accept the conclusion dictated by faith.
    ------------------------
    This is related to what you discussed, but at a higher, more abstract level. Let me show you how your topic - immorality arising from negligence - falls back into it.

    Consider the case of a man who must make a decision. Let's say he is deciding whether or not to give the ok to a new food product. He runs some tests, and they say the product is safe enough. But there is some reason to realistically expect that he should still be unsure, and that he should run more tests.

    Now, this man is not an evil person. He doesn't want to release an unsafe product. Yet he is aware that he has not properly tested it. So why would he release it?

    The answer: because he believes that he has done enough and that it will be safe. Why does he believe this? Not from the evidence - the evidence suggests he has not done enough (or else this wouldn't be a case of negligence). Something else must be telling him that it's ok, something that is not justified by evidence. That would be faith.[quote]Agreed
    Quote:
    Acting negligently means that you must have had evidence that your action was inappropriate, but did not act according to that evidence. Therefore, you acted according to something else. Either you just wanted to be cruel, or you had a belief not justified by evidence that your action was appropriate. A belief that is not based on evidence is faith.
    Well, leaving aside the legal debate about meanings which I've already mentioned, the only problem I have here is the same one as I covered earlier and is not against your thesis, rather in favour of tightening it a bit more. The idea of 'evidence of inappropriate action' worries me because I instinctively feel that inappropriate suffers the same problem as reasonable as a criterion - it leaves the door open for irrationality hiding behind the defence of numbers. the same shortcomings as 'reasonable' when used as a criterion in this sense. It relies on the implicit acceptance that inappropriate is irrational. Both you and I, I suspect, would regard that as a proper assumption, but it is easy to postulate situations where that would not be the case. I'm in pretty much total agreement with what I understand you to mean, and the point I'm making is only a semantic quibble, but I think it could be important enough to give a bit more attention to. In this case my preference would be, again, for the word irrational over inappropriate. Its a fine call, I know, but I think that inappropriate is too weak - defined as
    not suitable for a particular occasion - which is OKish but too ambiguous for my liking since it opens the door to a defence based on non rationality - on grounds of conformity to circumstance, occasion or company....
    not conforming with accepted standards of propriety or taste;-which is very problematic and highlights my concern - we are back in the numbers game with that definition.. and finally
    not in keeping with what is correct or proper - which is much better but still leaves the door ajar to notions of acting conformally rather than rationally. Am I being too pedantic here do you think?
    Quote:

    Quote:
    Therefore, the crime in negligence, assuming no hostile intent, is acting on faith.
    [quote="Bikerman"]I also build into this a basic position that only actions which adversly affect others should be considered as possibly immoral [...]

    Hang on there. ^_^

    Do you mean actions which adversely affect others, or actions which could adversely affect others? Is it necessary to succeed in causing harm for an action to be immoral, or is it only necessary that you intend to?
    Point taken - again it was careless choice of words. My intent was to say 'intended to adversely......'. I would certainly say that intent is at least as important as outcome, on reflection I would go much firther, since intention is the only factor in a chain of events which can be definitely and indisputably attributed to an individual rather than circumstance, environment, luck etc..
    Quote:
    Furthermore, is it necessary to be capable of causing harm to be immoral? Consider two people in two different countries. One country has a notable minority of black people and the other does not have a single black person in it. Both people in question despise blacks, thinking they are subhuman vermin who should be exterminated. If it is true that it is necessary to be able to cause harm to be immoral, than only one of those two people are being immoral, because only one of them has the capability of acting on their hate. And the other person is innocent?

    Tricky. I would sidestep this slightly by saying that both were immoral in my view but I would not wish to encourage a legal system to move towards prosecution for what Orwell called 'thought crime' since I think the dangers outweigh any potential gain. If we ever give the state the power to prosecute for what it contends a person thought or would have done in different circumstances then we are, frankly, knackered. I agree with the central notion, though, that both would be 'immoral' and my objection to a legal definition is largely pragmatic/political rather than ethical[quote]...
    ..
    My position is that motivation determines morality. My evidence is that the same action - killing - can be declared moral or immoral (or amoral) dependent on why it was done. A murder is immoral, but an accidental killing (not assuming negligence, but an honest mistake) is amoral. Same action, different motive, different moral. A man who risks his life to take down an armed robber before he can shoot hostages, killing him in the struggle, is being moral. Same action again, yet another motive, yet another moral.[quote]Yes, I have no hesitation in agreeing here. Intentionality MUST be the root of morality. It is self-evident....errr hang on...that means I have taken it as axiomatic and never stopped to think about making a logical case, believing it uneccessary, thus acting on faith rather than rationalist...Hell...hoist by my own petard....Smile
    In all seriousness my immediate objection would be almost identical to yours and would also include the continuation that it allows a system of justice which ignores the humanity of individuals and treats them as mechanisms, attaching no significance to choice and circumstance, only to outcome. It's a nightmare vision to me...
    Indi
    Bikerman wrote:
    Quote:

    Bikerman wrote:
    Given that uncertainty is inherent to some degree in any system of rational decision making, are we talking about a qualitative thing or a quantitative thing when we allocate blame or decide on immorality?
    In other words, even the person acting on best available evidence, who is scientifically literate, knows that there is a small chance that he/she may be basing a decision on a flawed premiss and is therefore to that small extent guilty of immorality.

    Totally qualitative.

    It is true that often evidence alone can be ambiguous - even without throwing faith into the mix. However, if a conclusion can possibly be reached by evidence, regardless of the uncertainty in that conclusion and regardless of how much evidence they have or its quality, is it moral to ignore that conclusion in favour of a conclusion reached by means of faith?
    In such case I would agree, providing that the scope for error and the level of uncertainty is transparent and open to refutation, debate and questioning (which would be, again, part of my intended meaning of the badly chosen phrase earlier - not taking advantage of, or concealing, any uncertainty in a rational decision is part of what I would define as proper action). I accept your argument to this point without reservation.

    Well, in all honesty I don't see how the degree of uncertainty is really relevant here. In general, ya sure, but in this case the comparison is not between several evidenced possibilities, but rather between a single evidenced possibility and a non-evidenced possibility - for the sake of simplicity. From there the conclusions can probably be generalized to more complex situations without any major modifications (but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it).

    I'm really big on examples. ^_^ So let's make one that's actually semi-realistic.

    It's like the early 1800's, and you're an American. Hey, nobody's perfect, right?

    The slavery issue is bein put before you, and you gotta make a decision where you stand. So you compare your "evidence" - real evidence and "evidence" of faith. Here's what you get, along with percentages representing the "strength" of the evidence - the higher the percentage, the stronger the support that that evidence gives. Assume these numbers are not relative either - assume any rational person doing the same analysis would come up with the same relative strengths (so even a non-Christian would say the bible's evidence is 70% in favour, even if they don't actually buy it).

    Real evidence
    Aristotle's argument that slavery is ok - 20%
    Kant's argument that slavery is not ok - 80%
    "Evidence" of faith
    "Do unto others" implying that slavery is not ok - 30%
    The glut of bible passages implying slavery is ok - 70%

    In this case, the strongest argument is Kant's argument against, so the logical conclusion is that slavery is wrong. No problem, right? You can say "i'm 80% sure that slavery is wrong" if you want, but it doesn't make any difference here. All that matters here is which conclusion you settle on, not how strong that conclusion is. Presumably, you're gonna go with the one you think is strongest because... well why not? What rational person accepts an argument when they know there are stronger ones? So we don't care how strong an argument is here, we just care that it's the strongest.

    But what if your research turned up this:

    Real evidence
    Aristotle's argument that slavery is ok - 20%
    Kant's argument that slavery is not ok - 80%
    "Evidence" of faith
    "Do unto others" implying that slavery is not ok - 10%
    The glut of bible passages implying slavery is ok - 90%

    In this case the strongest argument is that slavery is ok, because the bible never says a word against it, and even offers freakin price lists for slaves.

    The problem is there's no evidence that the bible has any insight or authority on the topic unless you have faith that it is divinely inspired.

    So what do you do in this case? What's the right thing to do? Pretend you are a strict Christian for a bit cause I know you're not (man, askin you to pretend to be an American and a Christian in the same post - I'm totally askin a lot of you, wow), and try to think as if you really totally believe that the bible is divinely inspired. You are totally convinced that the conclusion you get from bible study is God's own position on the subject, and God's position is the only one that's always right. If you were like that, you would really, really want to go with that 90%, right? But... would that be moral? Would it be right to ignore the real evidence, and go on faith? I mean, you're 80% sure that Kant has nailed it - and Kant did it based on pure secular logic and rationality, no need for faith. Even if you were 100% sure of the bible's position, is it morally conscionable to ignore Kant and his real-world evidence, and go with the bible?

    If you want, you can change up the scenario and use abortion or something, so the bible doesn't look so bad. Or even murder. Won't change nothing, but it might make help avoid Christian insecurity for any Christians playing this game.

    Like I say, the actual value of the uncertainty don't matter. All that matters is the relationships. In the first case, the uncertainty favours the evidence, in the second it favours the faith. By how much doesn't matter. The question is if it's ever ok to choose a faith-based conclusion over one based on evidence - no matter the strength of either.

    Bikerman wrote:
    Quote:
    Responsibility in the context of negligence is based on a question of whether or not you should have realized that you did not have enough evidence to make a decision. That is related to the question i am asking, but not quite it.
    Hmm, there is a problem here with the legal definition in this case since (certainly under UK law, I can't speak for US or other legislative systems) negligence is legally defined here in terms of 'what a reasonable person would have done in that position'.

    Indi say he ****** up - he was using professional negligence as his model. We're both engineers. He forgot about regular plain old civvy negligence.

    Professional negligence means that you had (or should have had) a reason to believe that there was something you were missing. Everything he said is based on that.

    But me, I don't think it really makes that much of a diff. I mean, the definition is more specialized, and things like "reasonable" are better defined, but that's just because it's a more restricted case of negligence. Specific to general, I don't see how anything major changes. Or does it?

    Bikerman wrote:
    Point taken - again it was careless choice of words. My intent was to say 'intended to adversely......'. I would certainly say that intent is at least as important as outcome, on reflection I would go much firther, since intention is the only factor in a chain of events which can be definitely and indisputably attributed to an individual rather than circumstance, environment, luck etc..

    Ya, that's what we figure.

    We figure that the entirety of a deed that can be morally judged is:
    1.) Motive
    2.) Action
    3.) Result

    From back to front:

    The result doesn't change the morality of what's goin on. Whether you succeed or not, it's still wrong to try to kill someone. And whether you succeed or not, it's still right to try and save someone.

    The action doesn't determine whether you're bein moral or not, because the same action can be moral, immoral or amoral depending on why you do it. That's why we differentiate between murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, self-defence, justifiable homicide, etc. They're all killing. But with different motives. Also, no one believes it's moral to punish a person who doesn't have the mental faculties to know that what they did is wrong. Basically that's saying right there that the agent needs to be able to intend to do the deed, not just do it.

    Which leaves... the motive. Attempted murder is immoral - and that doesn't even involve killing, just the intent to kill. I mean, to me, it just seems obvious that motive determines morality, no matter which you way you approach the problem from. Every other possibility gets all ****** up real fast as soon as you think about it.

    Bikerman wrote:
    Quote:
    Furthermore, is it necessary to be capable of causing harm to be immoral? Consider two people in two different countries. One country has a notable minority of black people and the other does not have a single black person in it. Both people in question despise blacks, thinking they are subhuman vermin who should be exterminated. If it is true that it is necessary to be able to cause harm to be immoral, than only one of those two people are being immoral, because only one of them has the capability of acting on their hate. And the other person is innocent?

    Tricky. I would sidestep this slightly by saying that both were immoral in my view but I would not wish to encourage a legal system to move towards prosecution for what Orwell called 'thought crime' since I think the dangers outweigh any potential gain. If we ever give the state the power to prosecute for what it contends a person thought or would have done in different circumstances then we are, frankly, knackered. I agree with the central notion, though, that both would be 'immoral' and my objection to a legal definition is largely pragmatic/political rather than ethical

    All true, but not everything that is immoral needs to be - or should be - punished. Think about it - if I say that I despise Smurfs because I hate everything that is blue, and that I think Smurfs should all be killed. That's pretty damn immoral. To want to commit genocide? Based on skin colour? Hell ya that's immoral.

    But Smurfs don't exist. You gonna punish me for wishing genocide on a fiction?

    Or hell take it a step further. Suppose I actually start doin research on potential ways to exterminate the Smurfs, should they ever be found. Suppose I start buyin up equipment to be ready for - if Smurfs are ever discovered - wiping them out. Those aren't just thoughts, those are actions. Actions taken as preparation for an intended genocide, same as if I was designing the gas chambers for Auschwitz. That's GOTTA be immoral.

    But should I be punished for it? I'm not doing any harm, and can't possibly do any. I'm planning harm, but not really capable of any. It would be irrational to punish me for those thoughts, or even those actions!, even though there's no doubt that they're immoral.

    Punishment has a purpose. It's not just somethin you do to anything that's immoral "just because". Punishment is a method of deterring the causing of harm by introducing a strongly negative reaction for it. If causing harm is impossible, then there's no purpose to punishment.

    So, in both cases (for both those guys who hate blacks), I say that the thoughts are immoral. But in the case of the guy who has no chance of ever meeting a black person, and so no chance of ever causing harm, he definitely should not be punished. It wouldn't deter shit.

    What about the other guy? Well, thinking about killing blacks doesn't hurt anyone. So it shouldn't be punishable. Intending to kill blacks might hurt people where he is. So it is punishable.

    Punishment doesn't have any meaning unless it's applied to immoral things that do or could lead to actual harm - doesn't make sense to deter something that isn't a something, just an idea of something. What you're really out to deter is the actual causing of harm. Wanting to cause harm is immoral, but if the want is not attached to an action to cause harm - whether the action is desired, attempted or successful - there's no rational reason to punish it.

    Bikerman wrote:
    Quote:
    ...
    ..
    My position is that motivation determines morality. My evidence is that the same action - killing - can be declared moral or immoral (or amoral) dependent on why it was done. A murder is immoral, but an accidental killing (not assuming negligence, but an honest mistake) is amoral. Same action, different motive, different moral. A man who risks his life to take down an armed robber before he can shoot hostages, killing him in the struggle, is being moral. Same action again, yet another motive, yet another moral.
    Yes, I have no hesitation in agreeing here. Intentionality MUST be the root of morality. It is self-evident....errr hang on...that means I have taken it as axiomatic and never stopped to think about making a logical case, believing it uneccessary, thus acting on faith rather than rationalist...Hell...hoist by my own petard....Smile
    In all seriousness my immediate objection would be almost identical to yours and would also include the continuation that it allows a system of justice which ignores the humanity of individuals and treats them as mechanisms, attaching no significance to choice and circumstance, only to outcome. It's a nightmare vision to me...

    Well, you gotta start with an axiom at some point. Saying motivation determines morality is a justifiable axiom, so you could as well start there.

    But you don't have to. Me and Indi, we started a little more abstract. Well, he did, but I think what he's done is cool. He started with Kant's categorical imperative and narrowed the definition of what is moral down to pretty much a single sentence. He's not here, so I'm gonna try it from memory: morality is a function of desire to cause harm. If you want to cause harm, you are being immoral. If you want to prevent harm, you're being moral. If what you want isn't intended to cause harm or prevent harm, it's amoral.

    Starting from there, you also get to the conclusion that individuals have rights, etc. etc. So you don't even have to assume those things as axioms if you don't want. You know Kant? I don't know him so well, so if you know Kant, you can probly put all this better than me.
    Bikerman
    Indi wrote:

    So what do you do in this case? What's the right thing to do? Pretend you are a strict Christian for a bit cause I know you're not (man, askin you to pretend to be an American and a Christian in the same post - I'm totally askin a lot of you, wow), and try to think as if you really totally believe that the bible is divinely inspired. You are totally convinced that the conclusion you get from bible study is God's own position on the subject, and God's position is the only one that's always right. If you were like that, you would really, really want to go with that 90%, right? But... would that be moral? Would it be right to ignore the real evidence, and go on faith? I mean, you're 80% sure that Kant has nailed it - and Kant did it based on pure secular logic and rationality, no need for faith. Even if you were 100% sure of the bible's position, is it morally conscionable to ignore Kant and his real-world evidence, and go with the bible?

    I see the point, but I think there are several problems:
    1) I doubt whether people would agree on the percentages since there is inevitably some subjectivity in both interpretation and also selection of suitable sources. People with one agenda would naturally select sources in support and vica-versa. This would lead to a debate over validity of sources and get nowhere fast.
    2) It implies both rationality AND education on behalf of the person making the decision. I think this is fine when we are considering decisions in a professional context. I would expect, for example, a commission advising on slavery (to maintain the example) to be aware of Kant/Aristotle and other philosophical positions on the issue. When it came to making a democratic decision, however, it would be unrealistic to expect the same from the general electorate. The solutions to this problem are:
    • a) Education - ensure everyone is educated sufficiently to make informed choice possible. This is obviously an ideal (one to which I, as a teacher, have devoted much of my own time) and is something which should be a 'given' in terms of general policy. It won't happen quickly, if at all, though.
    • b) Paternalistic 'guidance'. In this case one would offer a vote of yes/no to slavery but make sure that advice went out with the ballot from 'authority' summarising the rational position. This obviously would be open to bias but that should be addressable. The other problem is that it would require an agreed 'rationalist' body to consider every subject of a vote. I think this has some merits and is worth consideration.
    • c) Representation. This is the current position in the UK/US. Control is handed over to representatives who are supposed to represent their electorate in all major decisions. This means that the voter never actually makes any decisions, other than which of the 2 or 3 party candidates to select every few years. The problems here are well known and I won't go into any depth. Suffice it to say that I find this system problematic in concept and corrupt in practice.

    Quote:
    Like I say, the actual value of the uncertainty don't matter. All that matters is the relationships. In the first case, the uncertainty favours the evidence, in the second it favours the faith. By how much doesn't matter. The question is if it's ever ok to choose a faith-based conclusion over one based on evidence - no matter the strength of either.

    In terms of the specific question then, yes, I agree with the analysis you offer.
    Quote:
    Indi say he ****** up - he was using professional negligence as his model. We're both engineers. He forgot about regular plain old civvy negligence.

    Professional negligence means that you had (or should have had) a reason to believe that there was something you were missing. Everything he said is based on that.
    In such cases I am in complete agreement.
    Quote:
    But me, I don't think it really makes that much of a diff. I mean, the definition is more specialized, and things like "reasonable" are better defined, but that's just because it's a more restricted case of negligence. Specific to general, I don't see how anything major changes. Or does it?
    Yes, I think it does. Let's take the example of a driver who is using a mobile phone and kills a cyclist in an accident. Let's assume that using a phone whilst driving is not illegal (it now is, here in the UK). The driver's defence is that he was using a mobile phone and this is common practice and therefore not unreasonable since any reasonable person might have done the same. If the prosecution was for negligence then the driver might have a point since negligence is defined in terms of what a reasonable person should do. If the definition were 'rational' though, he would not have a point since there is overwhelming evidence to show that using a mobile whilst driving is dangerous.
    Quote:
    We figure that the entirety of a deed that can be morally judged is:
    1.) Motive
    2.) Action
    3.) Result

    From back to front:

    The result doesn't change the morality of what's goin on. Whether you succeed or not, it's still wrong to try to kill someone. And whether you succeed or not, it's still right to try and save someone.

    The action doesn't determine whether you're bein moral or not, because the same action can be moral, immoral or amoral depending on why you do it. That's why we differentiate between murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, self-defence, justifiable homicide, etc. They're all killing. But with different motives. Also, no one believes it's moral to punish a person who doesn't have the mental faculties to know that what they did is wrong. Basically that's saying right there that the agent needs to be able to intend to do the deed, not just do it.

    Agreed
    Quote:

    Which leaves... the motive. Attempted murder is immoral - and that doesn't even involve killing, just the intent to kill. I mean, to me, it just seems obvious that motive determines morality, no matter which you way you approach the problem from. Every other possibility gets all ****** up real fast as soon as you think about it.

    Yep - I feel the same and agree completely.

    (I'll come back to the rest of the points later - gotta go and take the dog to the vets now).
    Indi
    Bikerman wrote:
    Indi wrote:

    So what do you do in this case? What's the right thing to do? Pretend you are a strict Christian for a bit cause I know you're not (man, askin you to pretend to be an American and a Christian in the same post - I'm totally askin a lot of you, wow), and try to think as if you really totally believe that the bible is divinely inspired. You are totally convinced that the conclusion you get from bible study is God's own position on the subject, and God's position is the only one that's always right. If you were like that, you would really, really want to go with that 90%, right? But... would that be moral? Would it be right to ignore the real evidence, and go on faith? I mean, you're 80% sure that Kant has nailed it - and Kant did it based on pure secular logic and rationality, no need for faith. Even if you were 100% sure of the bible's position, is it morally conscionable to ignore Kant and his real-world evidence, and go with the bible?

    I see the point, but I think there are several problems:
    1) I doubt whether people would agree on the percentages since there is inevitably some subjectivity in both interpretation and also selection of suitable sources. People with one agenda would naturally select sources in support and vica-versa. This would lead to a debate over validity of sources and get nowhere fast.
    2) It implies both rationality AND education on behalf of the person making the decision. I think this is fine when we are considering decisions in a professional context. I would expect, for example, a commission advising on slavery (to maintain the example) to be aware of Kant/Aristotle and other philosophical positions on the issue. When it came to making a democratic decision, however, it would be unrealistic to expect the same from the general electorate. The solutions to this problem are:
    • a) Education - ensure everyone is educated sufficiently to make informed choice possible. This is obviously an ideal (one to which I, as a teacher, have devoted much of my own time) and is something which should be a 'given' in terms of general policy. It won't happen quickly, if at all, though.
    • b) Paternalistic 'guidance'. In this case one would offer a vote of yes/no to slavery but make sure that advice went out with the ballot from 'authority' summarising the rational position. This obviously would be open to bias but that should be addressable. The other problem is that it would require an agreed 'rationalist' body to consider every subject of a vote. I think this has some merits and is worth consideration.
    • c) Representation. This is the current position in the UK/US. Control is handed over to representatives who are supposed to represent their electorate in all major decisions. This means that the voter never actually makes any decisions, other than which of the 2 or 3 party candidates to select every few years. The problems here are well known and I won't go into any depth. Suffice it to say that I find this system problematic in concept and corrupt in practice.

    In both cases you're saying "the system is right, but it may not be easy to apply it in practice because we're not omniscient or always completely rational (ie, unbiased)".

    All fine and good, but not really the issue. The thread's question is: "is the system right"? Nothing more, nothing less.

    Once we determine the method is correct, then application is the next problem, but hardly one that cannot be solved. If two people have reached conflicting conclusions when both have supposedly done rational analysis of the evidence, then one or both must be wrong. By comparing their analyses, it can be determined which one is more likely to be right, if either - and if it turns out that the evidence equally supports either possibility then at least you've discovered that you don't have enough evidence to support one conclusion over the other, and more research is required (or that you're free to choose either on with impunity). And if one or the other actually hasn't been totally rational, that will come out, too. And so on and so forth... but all irrelevant here.

    Like, if I answer your two points explicitly:

    1.) Doesn't matter. Evidence is evidence, faith is faith. You're hung up on what is really the problem of choosing between different bodies of evidence. Not an issue here. The only issue here is whether a belief is held by evidence, or by faith. And that's trivially easy to test. It doesn't matter whether the evidence supports multiple conclusions, or whether your faith does. All that matters is whether or not it is moral to consider conclusions of faith when conclusions by evidence exist.
    2.) How does any of that affect the question of this thread? By analogy, I am saying that a computer is a better tool for finding the average value of a large amount of data, rather than by hand - and your objection is "not everyone knows how to find the average properly". How does that objection change my point? I say even if 99% of the world is ignorant on the proper way to find an average, a computer is still the best way. I say basing any knowlege on faith is immoral. You say "not everyone knows how to properly think critically", or "sometimes evidence can be vague". Neither one of those has anything to do with what I said.

    Besides, saying that a person may not have the critical skills or the knowlege to make a decision doesn't change anything. Everyone is aware of when they have concluded something on evidence and when they have concluded it on faith. They may be wrong about whether the evidence is valid. They may not have all the evidence. Irrelevant. As long as they base their knowlege on what evidence they think they have, rather than basing it on no evidence (ie faith), they are being moral. If they have evidence that they don't have all the evidence, and they ignore that... well Indi has already explained how that's immoral when he was talkin about professional negligence.

    Now, you gonna say "ya well, what if they honestly think the bible is good evidence". Then they should include bible evidence in their thinking, and that would be moral. However, the first time something suggests the bible may not be good evidence, they must either make sure that it really is, or they're being immoral.

    That's just practical. Someone has a car accident in front of you, you can't go to medical school and run all the experiments to make sure that whatever treatment you apply is evidenced before you make a decision what to do. If you recall reading that - say - elevating the head is the right thing to do, then you do it. Does that mean you're acting on faith? No. It means your evidence sucks, but its still evidence. You have no reason to believe that elevating the head is the wrong thing to do. But, suppose you find evidence that it is the wrong thing to do. Well, then unless you think the evidence you had before is stronger (like, you really remember being told that by a doctor, as opposed to "well, i kinda think this is right, i suppose"), then you go with that evidence. You go with the best evidence you have - that's all it takes to be moral (according to our theory). Doesn't require a PhD in logic.

    Bikerman wrote:
    Quote:
    But me, I don't think it really makes that much of a diff. I mean, the definition is more specialized, and things like "reasonable" are better defined, but that's just because it's a more restricted case of negligence. Specific to general, I don't see how anything major changes. Or does it?
    Yes, I think it does. Let's take the example of a driver who is using a mobile phone and kills a cyclist in an accident. Let's assume that using a phone whilst driving is not illegal (it now is, here in the UK). The driver's defence is that he was using a mobile phone and this is common practice and therefore not unreasonable since any reasonable person might have done the same. If the prosecution was for negligence then the driver might have a point since negligence is defined in terms of what a reasonable person should do. If the definition were 'rational' though, he would not have a point since there is overwhelming evidence to show that using a mobile whilst driving is dangerous.

    Well then for a civvy its reasonable to be irrational. Feh. Still doesn't have any affect on the question of this thread.

    Bikerman wrote:
    Quote:
    We figure that the entirety of a deed that can be morally judged is:
    1.) Motive
    2.) Action
    3.) Result

    From back to front:

    The result doesn't change the morality of what's goin on. Whether you succeed or not, it's still wrong to try to kill someone. And whether you succeed or not, it's still right to try and save someone.

    The action doesn't determine whether you're bein moral or not, because the same action can be moral, immoral or amoral depending on why you do it. That's why we differentiate between murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, self-defence, justifiable homicide, etc. They're all killing. But with different motives. Also, no one believes it's moral to punish a person who doesn't have the mental faculties to know that what they did is wrong. Basically that's saying right there that the agent needs to be able to intend to do the deed, not just do it.

    Agreed
    Quote:

    Which leaves... the motive. Attempted murder is immoral - and that doesn't even involve killing, just the intent to kill. I mean, to me, it just seems obvious that motive determines morality, no matter which you way you approach the problem from. Every other possibility gets all ****** up real fast as soon as you think about it.

    Yep - I feel the same and agree completely.

    (I'll come back to the rest of the points later - gotta go and take the dog to the vets now).
    Bikerman
    Indi wrote:
    In both cases you're saying "the system is right, but it may not be easy to apply it in practice because we're not omniscient or always completely rational (ie, unbiased)".

    All fine and good, but not really the issue. The thread's question is: "is the system right"? Nothing more, nothing less.

    Yep - I agree that I was making pragmatic rather than principled objections - that's because I haven't got any principled objections Smile I agree with your analysis - I was trying to put up a counter argument simply to push the debate on - but I have to agree that it is not very convincing and largely a digression from the central point...ho hum..
    Quote:

    Besides, saying that a person may not have the critical skills or the knowlege to make a decision doesn't change anything. Everyone is aware of when they have concluded something on evidence and when they have concluded it on faith. They may be wrong about whether the evidence is valid. They may not have all the evidence. Irrelevant. As long as they base their knowlege on what evidence they think they have, rather than basing it on no evidence (ie faith), they are being moral. If they have evidence that they don't have all the evidence, and they ignore that... well Indi has already explained how that's immoral when he was talkin about professional negligence.

    Ahh... something I genuinely don't agree on here. My experience (which is not slight) of many 'believers' (I'll use that term to mean people of strong religious conviction) is that they really do not make the distinction you (and I) make in this. Many believers would say that they have 'knowledge' which trumps all your evidence because it is based on a deeper truth and that their scriptural 'truth' is clearly superior to the so-called knowledge of science which is a man-made system and therefore fallible, whereas their scripture is divine and therefore not.
    It's important to be clear here - I'm saying that many of them are completely genuine in this, and really do not make the distinction as you put it here. Now, sure, you can argue that they are deluded and non-rational and I'm not going to argue that they are not;, but I really think the assumption that they know that their beliefs are not really based on evidence is not the case for a great many believers.
    Quote:


    Now, you gonna say "ya well, what if they honestly think the bible is good evidence". Then they should include bible evidence in their thinking, and that would be moral. However, the first time something suggests the bible may not be good evidence, they must either make sure that it really is, or they're being immoral.

    LOL...well you guessed pretty correctly, but I think the point is a little deeper...it is more a case of what would it take (from their perspective) to trump a truth which they honestly believe is divinely ordained. You are making the assumption that everyone has a clear understanding of what evidence is, and that that understanding is the one which we would agree is correct. I am saying that is not the case and that many believers genuinely think that scriptural 'truth' is at least on a par with, and normally superior to, observational and experimental data and proper scientific theory.

    As I see it there are two possibilities.
    1) Everyone really does know (even if only deep down) the difference between belief and evidence as we would both define it and, therefore, those who claim a deeper truth in scripture (or whatever doctrinal or dogmatic system) are either being disingenuous or are suffering from what could probably be called, fairly, a mental illness (knowing something to be the case and yet unable to acknowledge that it is...).
    2) Some believers genuinely do not make the distinction in the way we do and really believe that their religious dogma (of whatever form) is not 'just' faith but is true and superior to scientifically valid, evidentially based theory.
    Sure, you can argue that in both cases the central issue remains that they are acting immorally, but, as you also say
    'As long as they base their knowledge on what evidence they think they have, rather than basing it on no evidence (ie faith), they are being moral.'
    My point is that they may well be doing so from their own point of view.
    I really think we need someone of 'faith' to come in here and comment because you and I are both pretty much in the scientific camp and I think we need to allow believers to comment/criticise the assumptions I'm making here about their way of seeing things.
    Indi
    Bikerman wrote:
    Quote:

    Besides, saying that a person may not have the critical skills or the knowlege to make a decision doesn't change anything. Everyone is aware of when they have concluded something on evidence and when they have concluded it on faith. They may be wrong about whether the evidence is valid. They may not have all the evidence. Irrelevant. As long as they base their knowlege on what evidence they think they have, rather than basing it on no evidence (ie faith), they are being moral. If they have evidence that they don't have all the evidence, and they ignore that... well Indi has already explained how that's immoral when he was talkin about professional negligence.

    Ahh... something I genuinely don't agree on here. My experience (which is not slight) of many 'believers' (I'll use that term to mean people of strong religious conviction) is that they really do not make the distinction you (and I) make in this. Many believers would say that they have 'knowledge' which trumps all your evidence because it is based on a deeper truth and that their scriptural 'truth' is clearly superior to the so-called knowledge of science which is a man-made system and therefore fallible, whereas their scripture is divine and therefore not.

    And that's what this whole thread is all about. ^_^

    The first step is to make the argument that anything you believe without evidence is immoral. Once that argument is solid, the next question is whether or not what you believe is based on evidence or not.

    You're right, most believers do believe that they have access to some higher truth that overrides evidence. (Although it's becoming more and more fashionable for believers to insist that they do have actual evidence for their beliefs, ranging from tired old teleological arguments to really bizarre new ones. I'll deal with them in a second.) But most believers will also freely admit that what they believe is ultimately without evidence, ie, it's faith. If the argument of this thread is valid, then we're already done with those guys. If they won't accept the conclusion, then they're being irrational, and there's nothing we could have done anyway.

    The other guys are a bit more of a headache. They're the ones who will swear blind that they do have some kind of evidential backing for their beliefs. So what do we do with them?

    The answer may surprise you: we take them seriously. ^_^

    Yup. We listen to their arguments, and then we critique them just as we would critique any other of our peers' arguments. If they're right, then good god dammit, that's something we want to know, right?

    But if there are holes in their arguments, then they have to know. They may honestly believe that they have finally, after all these centuries of the brightest human minds trying and failing, that they have finally proved the existence of a god. If they're wrong, they deserve to know. If they really were basing their conclusion on evidence, then now they will change their conclusion to agree with the real evidence. If not, then they were being irrational, and there's nothing we could have done anyway.

    The really irrational ones, we shouldn't even bother with. They should be justly ignored, and maybe mocked. Why "justly"? Becase... (insert fanfare)... believing something without evidence or irrationally is immoral. ^_-

    So you see? The first step is to make the argument of this thread solid.

    Bikerman wrote:
    It's important to be clear here - I'm saying that many of them are completely genuine in this, and really do not make the distinction as you put it here. Now, sure, you can argue that they are deluded and non-rational and I'm not going to argue that they are not;, but I really think the assumption that they know that their beliefs are not really based on evidence is not the case for a great many believers.

    Well, here's the thing. Is it possible for a rational person to be unable to determine when a belief they hold is based on evidence or not? Now, I don't mean "might they be mistaken", because it's surely possible for a rational person to think that something they believe is backed up by evidence mistakenly. I mean is it possible for them to be completely unable to make that determination? Would they still be rational if that were the case?

    Is there any special training required to know whether a belief is held by evidence or faith? I say no. Yes, special training is often required to properly evaluate evidence. But to recognize its absence? No.

    Take a practical example from right out of the archives here on FriHost: suppose you believed in astrology, and you thought you had evidence in the form of a correlation between the planetary positions and behaviour. Now, this is quite reasonable for a layperson. You have the statistics proving that everytime Mars is waning, there's in increase in violent crime (or whatever). You can flash that in an unbeliever's face and say "explain that". Therefore you have evidence to support your belief.

    A lay person may fall for this trap because it does take training to recognize the logical fallacy there. In fact, very, very bright people may be fooled by it.

    But when this argument is presented to someone who has been trained, they will point out the fallacy to the lay person. In easy cases, such as this one, they may only have to explain it. Or at the most, provide an example, such as the archetypal correlation between pirates and global warming.

    In harder cases, they will have to resort to "just trust me". In a situation like this, the lay person has three rational options. 1.) Just trust them; they are, after all, trained, where the lay person is not. 2.) Research the topic for themselves; always a good idea, if possible. 3.) Seek out the professional consensus of experts on the topic; this is the hardest option, really, because it requires that the lay person be able to find the experts, recognize the experts, and process their arguments - the lay person would have to find statisticians, find out what they say about correlations and causation, and, if there is argument in the field, determine the majority consensus. Will the lay person do that? If they really care that their opinion be based on evidence, yes, they will, no matter how much they have to learn. Or, they don't care that much, they can just trust.

    If they won't do any of the three things above, then they're being irrational, and there's nothing we could have done anyway.

    If they try to - for example - choose option 3, then get derailed again because they don't have the skills to do the analysis properly, or choose option 2 and misunderstand the science of statistics (and possibly end up believing that the evidence still supports their beliefs), then recurse. An expert will point out the new fallacy... back to the three options... etc.

    There's only three ways that can end.
    1.) The lay person is wrong and it was shown to them that they were mistaken about their evidence, and thus they are convinced.
    2.) The lay person is right and in the process of trying to prove them wrong, everyone else is convinced and learns something new.
    3.) The lay person is wrong and will not consider any further arguments that they may be wrong; in other words, they have become irrational.

    (A possible fourth way is that the lay person is right and everyone else in the world is irrational and refuses to be convinced... but... come on. -_-)

    Bikerman wrote:
    Quote:


    Now, you gonna say "ya well, what if they honestly think the bible is good evidence". Then they should include bible evidence in their thinking, and that would be moral. However, the first time something suggests the bible may not be good evidence, they must either make sure that it really is, or they're being immoral.

    LOL...well you guessed pretty correctly, but I think the point is a little deeper...it is more a case of what would it take (from their perspective) to trump a truth which they honestly believe is divinely ordained. You are making the assumption that everyone has a clear understanding of what evidence is, and that that understanding is the one which we would agree is correct. I am saying that is not the case and that many believers genuinely think that scriptural 'truth' is at least on a par with, and normally superior to, observational and experimental data and proper scientific theory.

    As I see it there are two possibilities.
    1) Everyone really does know (even if only deep down) the difference between belief and evidence as we would both define it and, therefore, those who claim a deeper truth in scripture (or whatever doctrinal or dogmatic system) are either being disingenuous or are suffering from what could probably be called, fairly, a mental illness (knowing something to be the case and yet unable to acknowledge that it is...).
    2) Some believers genuinely do not make the distinction in the way we do and really believe that their religious dogma (of whatever form) is not 'just' faith but is true and superior to scientifically valid, evidentially based theory.
    Sure, you can argue that in both cases the central issue remains that they are acting immorally, but, as you also say
    'As long as they base their knowledge on what evidence they think they have, rather than basing it on no evidence (ie faith), they are being moral.'
    My point is that they may well be doing so from their own point of view.
    I really think we need someone of 'faith' to come in here and comment because you and I are both pretty much in the scientific camp and I think we need to allow believers to comment/criticise the assumptions I'm making here about their way of seeing things.

    The point of this thread is that there is no need to try to trump what they think is the word of God. All we have to do is show that their belief in God and his word is not based on external evidence, but rather only a tenet of faith. Once that's done, we don't need to bother trying to dissuade them from believing in anything. They will have the facts: faith is immoral, belief in God is faith, end of story.

    Now that may not actually convince them to burn their bibles. But who cares whether they do or not? We would have effectively neutered any threat that any faith presents to any aspect of human life and freedoms. How can a rational religious person - even if they continue to hold to their faith despite all this - justify using their beliefs to oppress others, either by influencing laws or more direct means (suicide bombings or murdering abortion doctors or whatever), once they digest the argument of this thread (assuming the argument is right, and that their beliefs really are not based on evidence)?

    I freely admit that believers do think that what they believe is superior to any evidence. I was raised by a fanatic Catholic family and firmly indoctrinated. I remember the mindset, and I know that there's no point arguing it. But the argument of this thread is that holding knowlege by faith is inherently immoral - regardless of how sure you are of that faith. You don't need to try to convince someone that their faith-based belief is inferior to someone else's evidence-based belief if all you have to do is a) prove that holding any knowlege by faith is immoral and b) prove that their belief is faith-based.

    To illustrate it by analogy, imagine the believers have built this floating fortress our of their beliefs on the ocean that is damn near impregnable, that they can use to travel around and attack our land-based forces. You're looking at this fortress, saying: "well, it's really well-defended, a head-on attack would not work, so we have to find its weak spots". Meanwhile I'm saying: "let's remove the ocean". If we can do that, then it won't matter if the fortress remains. It will be run aground, and no longer able to roam around and harrass our forces. Eventually maybe the fortress will become completely obsolete, and will be abandoned.
    Bikerman
    Indi wrote:

    And that's what this whole thread is all about. ^_^

    The first step is to make the argument that anything you believe without evidence is immoral. Once that argument is solid, the next question is whether or not what you believe is based on evidence or not.
    ..............
    So you see? The first step is to make the argument of this thread solid.

    Yes, I agree with this part and, in the absence of any serious critique I think we have to take is that this is conceded.......unless anyone can make a counter case.
    Quote:
    Well, here's the thing. Is it possible for a rational person to be unable to determine when a belief they hold is based on evidence or not? Now, I don't mean "might they be mistaken", because it's surely possible for a rational person to think that something they believe is backed up by evidence mistakenly. I mean is it possible for them to be completely unable to make that determination? Would they still be rational if that were the case?
    Here is, indeed, the thing. This is the core of the argument. Is morality a concept which can be correctly applied in the context of a rational person? I would argue here that if a person is 'rational' in the sense that I understand the term, then, surely, they would be acting 'incorrectly' in the context of this debate, but to use the term 'immoral' is problematic. Here is the Webster entry for 'moral' :
    • 1. Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character.
    • 2. Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior: a moral lesson.
    • 3. Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life.
    • 4. Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong: a moral obligation.
    • 5. Having psychological rather than physical or tangible effects: a moral victory; moral support.
    • 6. Based on strong likelihood or firm conviction, rather than on the actual evidence: a moral certainty.

    Note particularly 4 and 6.
    The whole thrust of my attack on the premiss is that the term immoral is loaded and it cannot necessarily be applied in a purely rationalist context. I regard myself (and I don't think I would be out of order in assuming that you would regard yourself) as a rational person in the specific sense that I think rational argument trumps all (ie I do not believe there is a 'higher' truth). However I do not accept as axiomatic that the 'human condition' can be completely explained in rational terms; I'm still undecided on that.* The point is that the whole concept of morality is problematic, and if we are to take as 'a given' a rational context, then the concept is inapplicable and we should confine ourselves to terms which apply to the rational context.

    * http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/penrose-hameroff/orchOR.html
    Quote:

    ....
    Is there any special training required to know whether a belief is held by evidence or faith? I say no. Yes, special training is often required to properly evaluate evidence. But to recognize its absence? No.

    To illustrate it by analogy, imagine the believers have built this floating fortress our of their beliefs on the ocean that is damn near impregnable, that they can use to travel around and attack our land-based forces. You're looking at this fortress, saying: "well, it's really well-defended, a head-on attack would not work, so we have to find its weak spots". Meanwhile I'm saying: "let's remove the ocean". If we can do that, then it won't matter if the fortress remains. It will be run aground, and no longer able to roam around and harrass our forces. Eventually maybe the fortress will become completely obsolete, and will be abandoned.

    I like the analogy, my point would be that the term 'morality' is analogous to the book of rules for sailors on-board ships which sail the ocean, and if we eliminate the ocean then the term becomes meaningless.
    Soulfire
    Not originally, no. But when faith is used as a justification for evil (i.e. terrorism) then you have broken into immoral ground. I, however; am somewhat of a moral subjectivist, or relativist if you prefer - one man's terrorist can be seen as another man's freedom fighter.
    stone1343
    I'm thinking of it this way, but I'm no philosopher:

    I tend to think it's not the faith that's immoral, it's the deed. The question might better be: "Is acting out of faith alone immoral?" In this view, faith, in and of itself, is not immoral. My having faith in my plane is neither moral nor immoral, it's just faith.

    What if a deed has a positive outcome? Whether you do it based on evidence or faith alone, it's still a moral deed if you had a positive intent.

    Now is a deed that has a bad outcome immoral, even if the intention was good? As they say, shit happens. So is it not fair to say that a deed with a positive intent is a moral deed, regardless of outcome? Or that the only immoral deed is one that is done with malicious intent (even if it works out positive)?

    I think the morality is in the intent, regardless of whether it was done on evidence or faith alone, and of whether the final outcome was positive or not.
    Indi
    Bikerman wrote:
    Indi wrote:

    And that's what this whole thread is all about. ^_^

    The first step is to make the argument that anything you believe without evidence is immoral. Once that argument is solid, the next question is whether or not what you believe is based on evidence or not.
    ..............
    So you see? The first step is to make the argument of this thread solid.

    Yes, I agree with this part and, in the absence of any serious critique I think we have to take is that this is conceded.......unless anyone can make a counter case.

    As you can see↑, the debate is far from closed.

    Just for some background on the problem, most of what i wrote is based on a famous essay by William Kingdon Clifford called "The Ethics of Belief". There is an equally famous response by William James that formed the basis for his "Will to believe doctrine" (Clifford's essay, James' response, and a further commentary (on James' essay) can all be found here). James's "doctrine" is enormously popular, although i honestly can't see any justification for that other than that it (on the surface) seems to allow you to believe whatever the hell you want to believe.

    i have taken some of the sting out of Clifford's stance, which is really rather strict. Clifford had a bone to pick against religious meddling in science. The essay is from 1879, formulated while Clifford was sitting right in the maelstrom that followed the publication of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species". He was originally Catholic, but after he heard priests in private saying Darwin had a good idea then going public to denounce it, Clifford all but freaked. He rejected Catholicism and started publishing a stream of works denouncing all human knowledge that did not come from evidence. It's been a while since i read the essay, but i believe that the first Ύ of it seem to have very little to do with religion explicitly... but rest assured that that's always what's on his mind, and he's showing no mercy. i thought that a more moderate and less confrontational approach would be more constructive - and, unlike Clifford, i am not trying to advocate strict evidentialism. i do allow that in cases where no evidence exists, there is no reason not to use a belief held by faith (the alternative would be to guess randomly, so it doesn't really matter). However, whenever evidence exists, it is immoral to ignore it. That is my position, which is slightly less ambitious than Clifford's.

    Bikerman wrote:
    Quote:
    Well, here's the thing. Is it possible for a rational person to be unable to determine when a belief they hold is based on evidence or not? Now, I don't mean "might they be mistaken", because it's surely possible for a rational person to think that something they believe is backed up by evidence mistakenly. I mean is it possible for them to be completely unable to make that determination? Would they still be rational if that were the case?
    Here is, indeed, the thing. This is the core of the argument. Is morality a concept which can be correctly applied in the context of a rational person? I would argue here that if a person is 'rational' in the sense that I understand the term, then, surely, they would be acting 'incorrectly' in the context of this debate, but to use the term 'immoral' is problematic. Here is the Webster entry for 'moral' :
    • 1. Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character.
    • 2. Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior: a moral lesson.
    • 3. Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life.
    • 4. Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong: a moral obligation.
    • 5. Having psychological rather than physical or tangible effects: a moral victory; moral support.
    • 6. Based on strong likelihood or firm conviction, rather than on the actual evidence: a moral certainty.

    Note particularly 4 and 6.
    The whole thrust of my attack on the premiss is that the term immoral is loaded and it cannot necessarily be applied in a purely rationalist context. I regard myself (and I don't think I would be out of order in assuming that you would regard yourself) as a rational person in the specific sense that I think rational argument trumps all (ie I do not believe there is a 'higher' truth). However I do not accept as axiomatic that the 'human condition' can be completely explained in rational terms; I'm still undecided on that.* The point is that the whole concept of morality is problematic, and if we are to take as 'a given' a rational context, then the concept is inapplicable and we should confine ourselves to terms which apply to the rational context.

    * http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/penrose-hameroff/orchOR.html

    Suppose we were discussing science, and i were to say to you that evolution was "just a theory". You would, naturally, object, and tell me that a theory isn't just a guess. Suppose then i went to dictionary.com, and found this:
    1. a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena: Einstein's theory of relativity.
    2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.
    3. Mathematics. a body of principles, theorems, or the like, belonging to one subject: number theory.
    4. the branch of a science or art that deals with its principles or methods, as distinguished from its practice: music theory.
    5. a particular conception or view of something to be done or of the method of doing it; a system of rules or principles.
    6. contemplation or speculation.
    7. guess or conjecture.
    And then suppose i were to say: "Note particularly 6 and 7".

    Isn't that exactly what you've just done?

    The purpose of a dictionary is to list the definitions of a word in use by the intended audience of the dictionary. In both cases (your post and my example), the intended audience is the general public. As you know, the word "theory" has a specific meaning in science, but the general public uses it differently. The same goes for the word "moral" in philosophy.

    Moral has a specific meaning in philosophy, most similar to #1 in your dictionary's list (of course, philosophy being philosophy, there is lots of discussion about every little detail, but in general, that definition holds), but the man on the street uses the word in a very sloppy manner. They confuse morals with ethics, and when a member of the "vulgar" (heh, gotta love those old-school philosopher terms) says something is moral, they may mean any one of a dozen things: "it is legal", "it is ethical", "it is in accordance with the bible", etc. However, the definition that philosophers use is well-defined, and only applies to rational thought. You can't be moral if you're not rational (can an insane person be punished for their sins?). If morality itself were not a rational concept, then that restriction would not make sense. More importantly, the very word "morals" means the rational basis for a system of ethics. Key word: rational.

    The common man is sloppy with language, but do not doubt for a moment that they know what morals are (once pressed). And centuries of discussion by philosophers has led us to some conclusions about the nature of those morals. We know, for example, that they don't come from "God" or religion. It's not hard to create situations where theoretical religious morals contradict underlying human morals, which should not be possible if they are one and the same. Even the most diehard religious nut who screams from the pulpit that all morality comes from their god (usually) attempts to rationalize and explain away the atrocities their god perpetrates - which implies that they recognize that morality is not simply whatever their god says it is.

    Bikerman wrote:
    I like the analogy, my point would be that the term 'morality' is analogous to the book of rules for sailors on-board ships which sail the ocean, and if we eliminate the ocean then the term becomes meaningless.

    The same book of rules could still be used for airships, or even ground vehicles travelling across what was once the ocean floor.

    In context, that means that if the rules were really meaningful before (and not based on the "ocean" aka faith), then they do not suddenly become meaningless when the faith is removed. If the rules really were faith-based, then they weren't rational to begin with... but we already know that faith-based morals are a myth (from above).

    Soulfire wrote:
    Not originally, no. But when faith is used as a justification for evil (i.e. terrorism) then you have broken into immoral ground. I, however; am somewhat of a moral subjectivist, or relativist if you prefer - one man's terrorist can be seen as another man's freedom fighter.

    Your statements are contradictory. If morality really is relative (sentence 2), then there is no real evil (sentence 1).

    stone1343 wrote:
    I'm thinking of it this way, but I'm no philosopher:

    I tend to think it's not the faith that's immoral, it's the deed. The question might better be: "Is acting out of faith alone immoral?" In this view, faith, in and of itself, is not immoral. My having faith in my plane is neither moral nor immoral, it's just faith.

    What if a deed has a positive outcome? Whether you do it based on evidence or faith alone, it's still a moral deed if you had a positive intent.

    Now is a deed that has a bad outcome immoral, even if the intention was good? As they say, shit happens. So is it not fair to say that a deed with a positive intent is a moral deed, regardless of outcome? Or that the only immoral deed is one that is done with malicious intent (even if it works out positive)?

    I think the morality is in the intent, regardless of whether it was done on evidence or faith alone, and of whether the final outcome was positive or not.

    Your argument goes in circles. First you say that it's not the cause of the action that's immoral, it's the action itself. Then you go on to say that it is the cause of the action: it's the intent.

    Which is it?

    Also, consider the original question. The plane owner's intentions were good, were they not? His action was also good, was it not (at the very least, it wasn't evil - in both cases he was trying to get his passengers home as quickly and as safely as possible)? So what makes the choice wrong?

    Or try this - an even more neutral example. Suppose you are at a crossroads; you can choose to go left, or you can choose to go right. One will get you to your destination, the other will get you hopelessly lost. For whatever reason, it matters that you get to your definition without getting lost.
    ❆ You believe by faith that left path is correct.*
    ❆ You believe by evidence that right path is correct.†

    Which path should you take?

    Isn't the correct choice to go right (to use evidence)? No matter what the situation, if it matters at all that you get where you're going, isn't that always the correct choice? Is there ever any case where it is correct to go left? Ever? Isn't it true that it is always correct to use the evidence (unless it really doesn't matter which you choose, of course)?

    So far (if you agree up to this point), it would seem that all i've done is shown that the choice is incorrect, not immoral. So how does it become immoral?

    It is always either important to make the correct decision or it doesn't matter. It never does anyone any good, ever, to make the wrong decision. Ever. Either it's important that you decide correctly, or it doesn't matter. You don't even need to know beforehand that it's important - it's enough to know that it's never correct to choose wrong.

    Why would it be important that you decide something correctly (as opposed to simply not mattering)? Isn't it because if you don't choose correctly, someone would somehow be harmed? If no one would be harmed, then why would it matter whether or not you make the correct choice? Therefore, whenever it matters that you make the correct choice, it is because someone will be hurt somehow if you make the wrong choice even if you are not aware of it beforehand.

    And since you know that it is never correct to use faith to make a choice, and it is always moral to try to make the right choice (because either someone will be hurt if you make the wrong choice or it doesn't matter, and you can never be sure it doesn't matter)... it follows that any time you ever base a decision on faith, you cannot be moral. In fact, you will either be immoral or neutral, and you can never know if you are being neutral or not. So every time you make a decision based on faith, you know that you can never be moral, but may be immoral, and you can't be sure when you will be immoral or not. Thus, the very act of using faith is an immoral act - because it can never be good, and you can't predict when it's harmless.

    *(Pretend you were a Frakkian, and the Book of Frak says that the great Frak up in the sky promises that when a believer travels leftways, he will be rewarded for his faith.)
    †(Pretend you knew where you're going is in the mountains, and you can see mountains off to the right.)


    It's a whole lot to swallow. This is not a simple topic, or it would have been figured out millenia ago. This is something that has really only been an issue of hot debate in the last hundred years or so - which is really young in philosophical terms (although, people like Hume had it figured out centuries ago, they only stated it, they didn't prove it or even really argue it).

    Try and approach it like this. (Doing it this way is quicker, but not as airtight.) First, what are the stages of action? i'm going to suggest without proof or argument that they look like this:
    1. Decide whether you want to do good, or to do harm (or do neither) (it is at this point that you become moral or immoral (or amoral)).
    2. Act in the way that has the best chance of achieving that goal.
    Now, you may be incorrect when you decide what the best way is. People make mistakes. However, you will always try your best to act the way you have decided you want to act - otherwise you're not a rational person (think about it - why would a person whose only goal is to do good not try to do good when they act?).

    Now, you know that, logically, acting on the evidence always has a better chance of doing good. In fact, if you act on faith rather than evidence, it's only blind luck if any good is actually done. So if you know that the evidence gives you the best chance of doing good... how could you possibly not heed the evidence and still be moral? You can't. Therefore, no moral person would use faith to make a decision.

    And if it's never moral, then it's always either immoral or amoral. You can't know whether you're going to cause harm or not without being omniscient... but you do know that the chance exists. If the chance of doing harm exists by doing X, but no chance of doing good exists... isn't it immoral to do X? And if you're doing something immoral... and you know it... doesn't that mean that you really didn't intend to be moral in the first place (because why would you knowing do something immoral if you really intended to be moral)?

    Thus, basing any knowledge on faith is immoral.
    Bikerman
    Indi wrote:

    As you can see↑, the debate is far from closed.

    Just for some background on the problem, most of what i wrote is based on a famous essay by William Kingdon Clifford called "The Ethics of Belief". There is an equally famous response by William James that formed the basis for his "Will to believe doctrine" (Clifford's essay, James' response, and a further commentary (on James' essay) can all be found here). James's "doctrine" is enormously popular, although i honestly can't see any justification for that other than that it (on the surface) seems to allow you to believe whatever the hell you want to believe.
    Thanks for the references - I'll check out the detail later today.
    Quote:
    That is my position, which is slightly less ambitious than Clifford's.
    Well, I remain persuaded by the case at this point. I'll see if my reading brings up any serious problems with it
    Quote:

    Suppose we were discussing science, and i were to say to you that evolution was "just a theory". You would, naturally, object, and tell me that a theory isn't just a guess. Suppose then i went to dictionary.com, and found this:.......
    Isn't that exactly what you've just done?

    Fair point and I agree that I was clumsy with that example.
    Quote:
    The purpose of a dictionary is to list the definitions of a word in use by the intended audience of the dictionary. In both cases (your post and my example), the intended audience is the general public. As you know, the word "theory" has a specific meaning in science, but the general public uses it differently. The same goes for the word "moral" in philosophy.

    Moral has a specific meaning in philosophy, most similar to #1 in your dictionary's list (of course, philosophy being philosophy, there is lots of discussion about every little detail, but in general, that definition holds), but the man on the street uses the word in a very sloppy manner. They confuse morals with ethics, and when a member of the "vulgar" (heh, gotta love those old-school philosopher terms) says something is moral, they may mean any one of a dozen things: "it is legal", "it is ethical", "it is in accordance with the bible", etc. However, the definition that philosophers use is well-defined, and only applies to rational thought. You can't be moral if you're not rational (can an insane person be punished for their sins?). If morality itself were not a rational concept, then that restriction would not make sense. More importantly, the very word "morals" means the rational basis for a system of ethics. Key word: rational.
    I am persuaded that my objection is defeated by this. I concede the point.
    Aredon
    Quote:
    So let's start with a definition. From this point on, i will use the word "deed" to talk about the total package of motive-action-result that can be judged morally, and reserve "action" only for the actual action part of the deed.
    Completely fine by me, though I was actually following your statements using action for both meanings, but I appreciate making it a little smoother to understand.

    Quote:
    The second problem is that you keep insisting that i haven't proven that only motive determines the morality of a deed. i have done so, and will do so again in just a moment. And I'm going to do it clearly, so you can't possibly miss it. So just saying "no you haven't" isn't going to fly as an objection anymore. This is my proof, and you're going to have it right in front of you - if you want to say it's wrong, you're going to have to show exactly where.

    It is a problem that I disagree that you have proven your statement is true when you continue to insist that you have proven it?

    However, you are right that the majority of the time I should have provided more reasoning as to why I disagreed in the same paragraph as that. Those happenings where I said you haven't convinced me, came from me taking each paragraph of yours and responding to it, which caused my point to become severed from the rest of its backing. Its a bad habit and I will do my best to avoid it for the remainder of our... civil discourse.

    I'll see what I can do to accommodate that request.


    Now then skipping the first table with the completely good and completely bad examples. (Because I agree).
    We come across the result table:
    I agree with the nominally good action, and I'll consent that in this case result does not effect morality. We can assume that it never does until another example is brought up that makes this questionable.

    Now then we come to this table...

    Which I also somewhat agree with, but if the person were cured of cancer I think I would view the deed as amoral rather than immoral, because nothing harmful became of it.
    [hr]

    Now then we arrive at this, curious happening.

    The above is a Perfect example of the "gray area". The person Stole as part of their deed, and that is immoral. How can one say that the deed itself is then moral? If I kill a man to save another, did I not still commit murder? Would anyone call this deed moral? I think at best this example would be amoral, I see no morality in stealing from one man to give to another, regardless of wealth or amount.


    The above was the subject of great debate among those people I interviewed. Many people viewed the action of stopping a terrorist as moral. Here is what I gathered as the reasoning behind that:

    Such an event as killing a terrorist (assuming the person wanted to as it is the motivation) to save the lives of many other people, does not come across as overly immoral, and would most likely be dropped from court. The general argument is that yes, his motivation was wrong, but he still committed a "good action" by saving the lives of many other people.

    I personally think that this example is also amoral on the grounds of the deed having both immoral and moral parts. However, a lot of people seem to think that such an action would be moral regardless of motivation. However, there are a few that think it was completely immoral based on motivation. There are also several that view it as amoral. I wasn't able to get any one of the three possible choices to really jump out. :/[hr]


    The issue I have here is that regardless of the person's motivation, they still committed a good action and a good result was found. To anyone that did not know motivation this deed would seem moral. I would say this is another example of arguable morality.

    Above is the largest problem I have with your examples.
    98% of people questioned about the morality of this deed agreed that there is absolutely no way that this deed is moral. It really doesn't matter whether or not you were motivated to relieve them of their pain, it was not the person's duty nor right to decide when that person can die. They took a human life, plain and simple. The motivation here clearly has no underlying effect on morality.
    Lastly I would ask you this question (because I'm trying to figure it out myself):
    How can the good motivation yield a bad action?

    After pouring over this for a long time, I am beginning to think that it is impossible to isolate morality or action from each-other in the "morality equation". I think that each directly effects the other, and that pairs of opposites cannot yield any greater morality. ( 1 + -1 = 0)


    Now I'll address a few things that I noticed
    Quote:
    Now, what if you were a slave? Would you still have been OK with it? If someone had asked you if slavery was OK... what would you have answered? Wouldn't you have to have answered that it was, because it was ok with the society's moral standards?

    That is an interesting question. The problem is that the "slave" could be considered part of a sub-society that would have different moral standards than the society "ruling over" it. The other problem is that the slave's mindset could easily have become that of believing that slavery was right. So yes, I supose if I was a slave I might think it was right, depending on the circumstances. (religion telling me that I am equal to my owner, owner being nice/cruel to me, etc.)

    Quote:
    Just because the society believes it's moral to sacrifice kids does not make it moral.

    Why? (I'd say its because your society taught you it was wrong. If you were living in that society, what you think of right and wrong would be different.) Just think on it a moment, imagine you grew up in such a society. Would not such things seem right simply because everyone said it was right? Isn't murder wrong because almost everyone says it is? If not, why is murder wrong?

    Quote:
    Whoa whoa whoa. "Witnesses" do not determine the morality of an action. If i killed a man in an alley, put his body in the trash, then took the trash out... and then someone saw me taking out the trash... they would conclude i did a good deed, right? Now you're saying that's true? That this deed:

    Motive: To dispose of body to hide my crime.
    Action: Taking out trash.
    Result: Seen by someone as taking out trash, and judged a good person for cleaning out the alley.

    is a good deed? So i can do any horrible crime i want, as long as i can make it look like it's a good deed to the masses, because that would make me a moral person? Come on, man, be serious. Your objection is just nonsense.

    You are fusing two deeds together, they are separate. trash, and disposing of body. The realwitness sees only one deed. I made no claim that hiding the body was moral or would be deemed moral ever, under any method.

    Speaking of which if we apply my IW method to both actions:
    trash - good
    hiding body - bad

    Quote:
    If you were to apply the absolute moral laws i outlined using an observer that knew all the facts, they would conclude that the killing was not immoral. No problem, right?

    Actually.. no, a person knowing all the facts, under absolute morality would conclude that murder is wrong. Period.

    Quote:
    According to you that means that apparently means that morality is relative. Uh, no? If the two observers disagree about the morality of the deed, and both are applying the same absolute laws, then it must mean that one or both does not have all the facts and their moral conclusion is incorrect. And lo! Such is the case above. The second observer does not have all the facts, and their moral conclusion is wrong. When two people disagree, it means one is right and one is wrong (as in this case), or both are wrong. It's not possible for both to be right. That's how absolute laws work, FYI.

    Who is to say who's conclusion is incorrect? If to person A the deed is moral, and to person B, immoral. How do you go about proving one wrong and one right other than comparing it to your own moral standard which would be the same as saying "he's wrong because he does not agree with me." I'm saying that the deed holds different moralities to different people.

    unless morality is relative Wink

    It is curious that we have something of a dual-discussion going on here, on the one hand we argue about methods to determine morality based on absolute, and on the other we discuss absolute vs relative morality. Hopefully we keep them separate for a while.

    If I missed any points made by you I apologize, please bring them back up, I spent a lot of time thinking about this case, and I am realy starting to think that it is motivation coupled with action that yield final morality
    Indi
    Aredon wrote:
    Which I also somewhat agree with, but if the person were cured of cancer I think I would view the deed as amoral rather than immoral, because nothing harmful became of it.

    Even though the person was trying to kill them?

    i don't think you're fully grokking just how messed up the idea of morality becomes when you judge a deed by the results. i could decide that i want to kill an innocent family, go over to their place, set fire to their house and celebrate murdering them all under the assumption that they were in it burning to death... then find out later that they had been on vacation, so no one was harmed, and that the insurance policy on the house had in fact made them quite happily rich... and by your estimation not only am i blameless despite the fact that i attempted to horribly murder an entire innocent family... i am actually good because good came out of it... not out of any intention of mine, but out of my incompetence!?!?

    So the person in the example sets out to murder an innocent person in cold blood, then by a fluke of biochemistry that no one could have predicted the person not only lives, but their cancer is cured... and your final judgement is that the attempted murderer... is blameless?!?!

    Seriously man, no one in their right mind could possibly buy that.

    Aredon wrote:
    The above is a Perfect example of the "gray area". The person Stole as part of their deed, and that is immoral. How can one say that the deed itself is then moral? If I kill a man to save another, did I not still commit murder? Would anyone call this deed moral? I think at best this example would be amoral, I see no morality in stealing from one man to give to another, regardless of wealth or amount.

    There are several problems here.

    First, there's this: "If I kill a man to save another, did I not still commit murder? Would anyone call this deed moral?" No and yes. If you kill someone for the purpose of saving another person, it is not murder by any definition of the word. Killing ≠ murder. Murder is defined two different ways. Either it is killing unlawfully (which is generally vague, but useful for legal purposes), or it is a deliberate premeditated killing of another person for selfish reasons (specifically malice, enjoyment or personal gain). If you see a person about to murder someone else (or yourself!), and you kill the potential murderer, then no, you have not committed murder, and you have not done an immmoral deed. There is no grey area.

    Second, you seem to assume without reason that all stealing is wrong... just because it's stealing. It seems to me that you haven't really given any deeper thought to the idea beyond the most common motive for stealing. What if i snatch the gun away from someone who was about to shoot a roomful of innocent people. That's stealing. The gun is the shooter's property, not mine, and i took it without his consent. By your definition, i would be a criminal (and the attempted shooter would be perfectly innocent, because he had been unable to carry out his murderous desires - there was no action, only motivation that was disrupted). What if i take the keys away from a person who is about to drive drunk? Am i a car thief by your definition? A police officer that stops to commandeer your car in order to use it to take an injured person to the hospital... they're a criminal according to you.

    Clearly something is going wrong there.

    Aredon wrote:
    The above was the subject of great debate among those people I interviewed. Many people viewed the action of stopping a terrorist as moral. Here is what I gathered as the reasoning behind that:

    Such an event as killing a terrorist (assuming the person wanted to as it is the motivation) to save the lives of many other people, does not come across as overly immoral, and would most likely be dropped from court. The general argument is that yes, his motivation was wrong, but he still committed a "good action" by saving the lives of many other people.

    No. -_-

    You're changing the story. No wonder the people you are interviewing are so confused. You're confused yourself. You say: "Such an event as killing a terrorist (assuming the person wanted to as it is the motivation) to save the lives of many other people..." You've completely missed the point. There is no assuming that it was the motivation - i explicitly said that it wasn't the motivation.

    The person did not want to kill a terrorist or save the lives of many other people. The person just wanted to kill someone. The person wanted to commit murder, and just happened to hit a terrorist.

    If the person intended to kill a terrorist and save innocent people, then that would have been their motivation, and that motivation would have been moral, even though the action is a killing.

    Once again, here would be the two situations, where green is good and red is bad, just like the tables:
      Motivation: Desire to stop a terrorist and save lots of people.
      Action: Kills someone.
      Result: Victim was a terrorist, and many people were saved.
      Judgement: Moral.

      Motivation: Desire to murder someone for the hell of it.
      Action: Kills someone.
      Result: Victim was a terrorist, and many people were saved.
      Judgement: Immoral.
    You keep swapping motives based on the most common motives for the action. You see "steal", so you automatically insert the common motive for stealing - greed, which is immoral - instead of considering the actual motive for stealing in that specific case (which was to feed a starving person). You see that a terrorist was killed, so you base your judgement on the common motive for killing a terrorist - to save people, which is moral - rather than on the actual motive for that specifc case, which was just to kill someone for the hell of it.

    Do not insert your own ideas of motives into the examples. You are only confusing yourself, and, apparently, the people you are polling.

    Aredon wrote:
    I personally think that this example is also amoral on the grounds of the deed having both immoral and moral parts.

    That is the second time that you judged an action amoral because it had some moral and some immoral elements to it. i don't think you understand what amoral means. Amoral means no morality, not vague, confused or conflicted morality. If a deed has "both immoral and moral parts", it cannot be amoral by definition. It must be either moral or immoral (or "i don't know"). It cannot be amoral.

    Aredon wrote:
    The issue I have here is that regardless of the person's motivation, they still committed a good action and a good result was found. To anyone that did not know motivation this deed would seem moral. I would say this is another example of arguable morality.

    They committed a "good action"? They tried to create a crack junkie! So if the person had done the same thing for the same reasons, but instead of the needy person buying food they had done what the person had hoped for and became a crack junkie... what? By your definition, that person would be moral... unless you want to argue that the results determine the morality. Look:
      Motivation: Knowing the guy will use it to buy crack, you want him to get hooked so you will be able to sell more.
      Action: Giving money to needy person.
      Result: Needy person buys food.
      Judgement (me): Immoral. Despite the fact that it turned out well, the intention was bad.
      Judgement (you): Moral.

      Motivation: Knowing the guy will use it to buy crack, you want him to get hooked so you will be able to sell more.
      Action: Giving money to needy person.
      Result: Needy person buys crack and becomes crackhead, as you wanted.
      Judgement (me): Immoral. Bad intentions... this time also bad result.
      Judgement (you): ? Here's the catch. If you say immoral, then you are claiming that a person is good or evil regardless of what he intends, regardless of what he does... but based only on things that happen outside of his control - in other words, whether you are good or evil depends on what other people do. On the other hand, if you say moral....
    Well?

    Aredon wrote:
    98% of people questioned about the morality of this deed agreed that there is absolutely no way that this deed is moral.

    You keep quoting this study you did, and i keep telling you that i'm not going to accept some random statistic you throw out without some kind of backup for it. Ok, you interviewed 20 people. You gave them this scenario:
      "Alright, lets say you posess motivation X"
      "You commit action Y"
      "Result Z happens"
      "Is your deed moral or immoral?"
    Alright, now give us some real info. What were the X, Y and Z's... specifically, the ones that apply in this case. Who were the people - did you do your survey at an anti-PAS rally? Give us some info! Your results go against common sense, and they go against established poll results that show over 60% approval for euthanasia... and you got a 98% against? i'm not going to accept it, not until you back it up. Who did you poll, what did you ask, and what results did you get - how many people said moral, how many said immoral and how many said "don't know"? Did you get 98% people saying that euthanasia was immoral and 2% saying moral or did 1% say moral and 1% say "don't know"? How did you get this 98% with your survey of 20 people? Share your numbers!

    i am not comfortable making moral judgements based on popular opinion, but if you can back your statistic up, i will consider looking at the problem again to see what might be wrong with it. As it stands, your arguments are based on an irrational objection to euthanasia on principle backed up by unsupported statistics, not on the actual problem presented.

    Aredon wrote:
    That is an interesting question. The problem is that the "slave" could be considered part of a sub-society that would have different moral standards than the society "ruling over" it. The other problem is that the slave's mindset could easily have become that of believing that slavery was right. So yes, I supose if I was a slave I might think it was right, depending on the circumstances. (religion telling me that I am equal to my owner, owner being nice/cruel to me, etc.)

    Is that what you suppose? Interesting, i'm sure, but in fact we don't need to rely on your imagination, such as it is. All we need to do is read the words of slaves that were recorded in the past, and it turns out that the overwhelming majority of them were not happy with the situation... and they overwhelmingly did not agree that slavery was right, regardless of what the society around them said about it.

    Aredon wrote:
    Why? (I'd say its because your society taught you it was wrong. If you were living in that society, what you think of right and wrong would be different.) Just think on it a moment, imagine you grew up in such a society. Would not such things seem right simply because everyone said it was right? Isn't murder wrong because almost everyone says it is? If not, why is murder wrong?

    You're asking two different questions. If everyone believed that X was right (or wrong), would it seem right (or wrong)? Yes. If everyone believed that X was right (or wrong), would it be right (or wrong)? No. Popularity does not determine morality.

    As for why, this is not the place to outline an argument against human sacrifice, but for the record it is very doable (normally i would use the categorical imperative for the argument, but this one is so easy and so blatantly wrong that any non-relativist standard could be used with little effort).

    Aredon wrote:
    You are fusing two deeds together, they are separate. trash, and disposing of body. The realwitness sees only one deed. I made no claim that hiding the body was moral or would be deemed moral ever, under any method.

    No, i am not. You are trying to break a single deed apart because it is problematic for your position. It is one deed. Motivation: hiding a body. Action: taking out the trash (with the body in the trash). Result: witnessed taking out the trash and judged to be a good citizen. One deed. One action, one motive, one result. What you're having difficulty with is that the action appears differently depending on your point of view. To the murderer, it's disposing the body. To the witness, it's taking out the trash. But it is one single action - one and the same.

    By your moral reckoning, just because the person appears to be doing good, he is a good person. Clearly that doesn't make sense.

    Aredon wrote:
    Actually.. no, a person knowing all the facts, under absolute morality would conclude that murder is wrong. Period.

    ...? What?

    Did you forget what you were talking about? Go back and read up. By the standards you outlined, yes, it would be moral. Why? Because all the witness in possession of all the facts agreed that it was moral. And, according to you, morality is determined by the witnesses.

    That is your argument, not mine. And now you're contradicting yourself?

    Aredon wrote:
    Who is to say who's conclusion is incorrect? If to person A the deed is moral, and to person B, immoral. How do you go about proving one wrong and one right other than comparing it to your own moral standard which would be the same as saying "he's wrong because he does not agree with me." I'm saying that the deed holds different moralities to different people.

    unless morality is relative Wink

    Um, no. -_-

    You ask who determines the result. i say that you're stuck in your own problem, and cannot escape as long as you ask questions like that. The answer is no one determines the result. The result is determined by reason. Pure, simple, non-relative reasoning. This is not a novel concept. If i were to throw a ball from a moving car, who would determine where it lands? What if everyone i ask disagrees? By your logic, it follows from that that there is no absolute way to determine where the ball lands, it's all relative. Nonsense. The trajectory of the ball is determined by non-relative laws - the laws of physics - not by the opinions of the observers. The morality of a deed is determined by non-relative logic - not by the opinions of the observers. The fact that people disagree does not mean there is no absolute truth.

    To answer your question, i would go about proving one right and the other wrong (or both wrong) by using reason. And no, that does not boil down to "he's wrong because he doesn't agree with me", it boils down to "he's wrong because he doesn't agree with reason". Anyone who uses reason will get the same results.

    Aredon wrote:
    It is curious that we have something of a dual-discussion going on here, on the one hand we argue about methods to determine morality based on absolute, and on the other we discuss absolute vs relative morality. Hopefully we keep them separate for a while.

    This is not a good thing. It is hard to take you seriously when you don't seem to have given your position any real thought. Why do i say this? Because you are arguing two contradictory positions at the same time. If you believed that a ball is totally orange, and i argued to you that the ball is totally green and that the ball is totally purple with equal sincerity, would you take me seriously?

    Either morality is universal, or it is relative. If it is relative, as you insist, why are you claiming that your univeralist method for determining morality is right and mine is wrong? Or, if you believe that morality is universalist and that i am simply doing it wrong and your way is right, then why are you arguing for relativism?

    You have two options, really. Either say morality is relative, in which case there's no point in arguing that my method is wrong - it's simply not yours, and neither of us is right because (dun dun dun!) morality is relative. Or, maintain that i am wrong and you are right, and continue your efforts to prove that... but stop claiming that morality is relative. Any other option is logically contradictory.

    Honestly, by arguing those two contradictory positions simultaneously, it's not looking like you have any coherent position on the topic, it's looking more like you're desperately using every tactic you can think of to discredit my claim... for what? To retain the right to believe whatever you want to believe on faith? To cloud the issue of right and wrong to the point that it is impossible to make a determination?
    Aredon
    Quote:
    i don't think you're fully grokking just how messed up the idea of morality becomes when you judge a deed by the results. i could decide that i want to kill an innocent family, go over to their place, set fire to their house and celebrate murdering them all under the assumption that they were in it burning to death... then find out later that they had been on vacation, so no one was harmed, and that the insurance policy on the house had in fact made them quite happily rich... and by your estimation not only am i blameless despite the fact that i attempted to horribly murder an entire innocent family... i am actually good because good came out of it... not out of any intention of mine, but out of my incompetence!?!?

    Your example seems a bit radical in comparison to the one I was talking about, but I do see your point. It does become a bit hard to desern when results take part in the final morality.

    Quote:
    So the person in the example sets out to murder an innocent person in cold blood, then by a fluke of biochemistry that no one could have predicted the person not only lives, but their cancer is cured... and your final judgement is that the attempted murderer... is blameless?!?!

    Seriously man, no one in their right mind could possibly buy that.

    No, they could still easily be blamed for their ACTION being immoral, however, the deed itself (every part) could be considered independent from the action. (At least that was my reasoning, but i'm sure you'll prove something wrong about it. It was just a thought.)

    Quote:
    Second, you seem to assume without reason that all stealing is wrong... just because it's stealing. It seems to me that you haven't really given any deeper thought to the idea beyond the most common motive for stealing. What if i snatch the gun away from someone who was about to shoot a roomful of innocent people. That's stealing. The gun is the shooter's property, not mine, and i took it without his consent. By your definition, i would be a criminal (and the attempted shooter would be perfectly innocent, because he had been unable to carry out his murderous desires - there was no action, only motivation that was disrupted). What if i take the keys away from a person who is about to drive drunk? Am i a car thief by your definition? A police officer that stops to commandeer your car in order to use it to take an injured person to the hospital... they're a criminal according to you.

    Clearly something is going wrong there.

    Gray area Wink
    For one, yes, I can see your point about stealing the weapon clearly not making the person criminal. However, it does not refute the fact that stealing money from a rich man to give to a poor man is immoral, no matter how you spin it.

    Quote:
    You're changing the story. No wonder the people you are interviewing are so confused. You're confused yourself. You say: "Such an event as killing a terrorist (assuming the person wanted to as it is the motivation) to save the lives of many other people..." You've completely missed the point. There is no assuming that it was the motivation - i explicitly said that it wasn't the motivation.

    No, I made it clear that they just wanted to kill someone when I asked my questions, I was just unclear when saying that to you. I apologize for the misconception, the word "to" should have been "and".


    [hr]


    Quote:

    This is not a good thing. It is hard to take you seriously when you don't seem to have given your position any real thought. Why do i say this? Because you are arguing two contradictory positions at the same time. If you believed that a ball is totally orange, and i argued to you that the ball is totally green and that the ball is totally purple with equal sincerity, would you take me seriously?

    Firstly, I was approaching it both from your position and my own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me taking your stand and using it in my arguement, and then argueing my own stand seperately.

    Secondly, there is no reason for me to "firmly believe" anything in this discussion. My purpose here was to get you to think outside the box you have created, nothing more. I have no true intention of proving you wrong or right, which is why many of my arguements were poorly supported as you pointed out. I apologize for that, but you have proven to be someone who is hard to get thinking on a different track than the one you are on already. I DID start attempting to prove something, but at this point I have reached the conclusion morality is too fuzzy of a topic to realy debate over.

    Lastly, it has overall been difficult to get points across to you, both with you misunderstanding and my not being clear enough. In general I'm rather tired of this discussion, not becuase I feel that either party is wrong or right. You could easily be correct. It was only my hope to get you to consider other sides, and more casualy then to dive into them and rip apart every hole in them you can find no matter how over-the-top it may be. I'm simply tired of argueing with you Indi, and to be quite honest, I yield. I congradulate you on your debate skills, but your open-discussion skills could use a bit of work. If you have additional things to add to what I posted above, I will respond, but don't expect a full-front arguement. Becuase I will not truely care to argue further.

    With that I end this post.
    EanofAthenasPrime
    God dude, are all of your posts like the length of a novel? Anyway, I read up to scenario 3, which you conviently eliminated the variable faith levels depending on the sitution. You unrealistically ommited the option of variable faith (ie, if someone onboard needed the plane to journey to ancient Tibetian monestery to administer the antidote for a poison of which they are terminally ill, so the pilot's faith in his plane increased enough to use the plane.)

    Also, if the Multiple Worlds Interpretation is proven to be correct, faith in both MWI and the plane would be moral (since the pilot and his crew would be immortal), however, no faith in MWI but faith in the plane would not be moral. Also, in the event that MWI is proven to be incorrect (which it probably is) faith in MWI and/or or faith in the plane would be immoral.

    And how are the voting options trick answers? The only trick I see is that the people who click on 1. will be thought immoral once Indi gains superluminal telepathic powers.
    Indi
    Aredon wrote:
    Gray area Wink
    For one, yes, I can see your point about stealing the weapon clearly not making the person criminal. However, it does not refute the fact that stealing money from a rich man to give to a poor man is immoral, no matter how you spin it.

    Orly?

    Have you heard of "price gouging"? For example, during a disaster that causes the power to go out for days or weeks in the middle of a bitterly cold winter, the only way to keep people's houses warm is by natural gas heaters. But the only natural gas supplier in the vicinity raises the price of natural gas to $200 a liter. The local law steps in and says no sir, that's price gouging. You have to sell it for the same price you were selling it for the day before the disaster.

    Now, the gas belongs to the supplier, and he should be free to do whatever he wants with his property. He should be free to keep it for himself if he wants. And if he chooses to sell it, he should be free to sell it for whatever he can get for it. That's the way it goes normally.

    But in this situation, the local law has decided to effectively steal his property and force him to sell it at the price they choose. By doing this, they prevent people from freezing to death. And according to you... they are criminals for doing this. Because it is always immoral to take from the rich and give to the poor, right?

    i say no. i say it depends on the motivation for doing it (as always - 100% consistency). The motivation for taking from the supplier is that there is a crisis that could result in injury or death where his property is critically needed, and that overrides the supplier's property rights (similar to the case when a policeman can commandeer a person's car in order to take someone to the hospital - same concept). In fact, the local law is being nice in that they're allowing him to at least sell it at the normal market price instead of requisitioning it outright.

    And of course, there are plenty of other situations.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:
    You're changing the story. No wonder the people you are interviewing are so confused. You're confused yourself. You say: "Such an event as killing a terrorist (assuming the person wanted to as it is the motivation) to save the lives of many other people..." You've completely missed the point. There is no assuming that it was the motivation - i explicitly said that it wasn't the motivation.

    No, I made it clear that they just wanted to kill someone when I asked my questions, I was just unclear when saying that to you. I apologize for the misconception, the word "to" should have been "and".

    And that makes it more clear how? It's still exactly the opposite to the situation i described.

    Aredon wrote:
    Quote:

    This is not a good thing. It is hard to take you seriously when you don't seem to have given your position any real thought. Why do i say this? Because you are arguing two contradictory positions at the same time. If you believed that a ball is totally orange, and i argued to you that the ball is totally green and that the ball is totally purple with equal sincerity, would you take me seriously?

    Firstly, I was approaching it both from your position and my own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me taking your stand and using it in my arguement, and then argueing my own stand seperately.

    Not if you can keep them clear and separate, which you have not been doing. i cannot read your mind. Every point you make, i am left wondering whether you mean it in a relativist context or not... or both... or neither. Every time i am forced to guess which, there is a 75% chance of me guessing wrong. As it stands, you haven't developed any of those four positions properly - you're making everything up as you go along, which only confuses the issue even further. That's why i say stick to one.

    Aredon wrote:
    Secondly, there is no reason for me to "firmly believe" anything in this discussion.

    No one said there was. All i ask is that you stick to one position to avoid confusing the hell out of both of us.

    Aredon wrote:
    My purpose here was to get you to think outside the box you have created, nothing more.

    How charmingly condescending of you. i don't supposed that you ever considered that it might be you who is stuck in a box? You seem to be the only one of the two of us who is confused or "fuzzy" on the topic.

    Aredon wrote:
    I have no true intention of proving you wrong or right, which is why many of my arguements were poorly supported as you pointed out. I apologize for that, but you have proven to be someone who is hard to get thinking on a different track than the one you are on already. I DID start attempting to prove something, but at this point I have reached the conclusion morality is too fuzzy of a topic to realy debate over.

    Lastly, it has overall been difficult to get points across to you, both with you misunderstanding and my not being clear enough. In general I'm rather tired of this discussion, not becuase I feel that either party is wrong or right. You could easily be correct. It was only my hope to get you to consider other sides, and more casualy then to dive into them and rip apart every hole in them you can find no matter how over-the-top it may be.

    In other words, you admit that you are not clear on the topic... but somehow you know enough to be able to tell that i have not considered other options. And you want me to consider other positions... but you don't want me to consider them critically.

    Right. -_-

    EanofAthenasPrime wrote:
    God dude, are all of your posts like the length of a novel? Anyway, I read up to scenario 3, which you conviently eliminated the variable faith levels depending on the sitution. You unrealistically ommited the option of variable faith (ie, if someone onboard needed the plane to journey to ancient Tibetian monestery to administer the antidote for a poison of which they are terminally ill, so the pilot's faith in his plane increased enough to use the plane.)

    Also, if the Multiple Worlds Interpretation is proven to be correct, faith in both MWI and the plane would be moral (since the pilot and his crew would be immortal), however, no faith in MWI but faith in the plane would not be moral. Also, in the event that MWI is proven to be incorrect (which it probably is) faith in MWI and/or or faith in the plane would be immoral.

    And how are the voting options trick answers? The only trick I see is that the people who click on 1. will be thought immoral once Indi gains superluminal telepathic powers.

    If you want to take part in this discussion, you will have to show a little more respect for the other participants. You will also have to stay on topic. No part of this conversation has anything to do with quantum physics, or any supernatural mental abilities i might have.

    If you want to try to rewrite your post without the insults and show a little respect, then you will be shown some, too. Until then, i decline to answer your questions.
    breebree
    If the pilot genuinly believed that the plane would make the journey safely I don't see how it could be seen as an immoral decision. Also, I would'nt even view the act of flying the plane and crashing by accident immoral, only when the plane is crashed on purpose would it be immoral.
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