Is morality subjective or objective?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Sarkus, Dec 2, 2021.

  1. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    What I find curious is that we are debating whether morals are objective or subjective without any evidence that the universe has any objective aspects like the existence of a moral God, but when it comes to mathematics, they are a subjective man-made tool, in spite of the abundant evidence that the universe is objectively mathematical in essence and we admit that maths have no morality assigned to them and are perfectly neutral in that respect.
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  3. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    But that is a category error.
    OK, make me an objectively (universally) true moral. Just ONE is all I ask.
    Oh no, we are long past that and I won't let you leave with an subjective ad hominem, regardless of how politely you objectively framed it.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
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  5. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    No it's not.
    The category you offered was "man-made".
    If I have offered something within that category that you don't accept then it is not "man-made" you meant.
    To those that believe God gives us our morals, the commandments would be a good starting point.
    To those that believe that for a given set of values there is only one possible set of morals, any set of morals are objective (although would be disproven by two people holding the same values but with different morals).
    You might dismiss both of these, and that would be your subjective view, as it can not be proven that morals are subjective or objective.
    Hence a matter of philosophy.
    And no, it is not sophistry.
    To claim so is just an arrogant dismissal of the other position.
    No ad hominem (at least not fallaciously so), as I have addressed the issues and what I see as your mistakes.
    Those mistakes still hinder you, so I will disengage.
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  7. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    And there still is no objective evidence of a God. The entire world of "religious philosophy" is sophistry.
    You make the claim, you provide the evidence. If you cannot, you are engaging in speculative sophistry.
    You've got to be jesting...God has given us morals?

    The bible is objectively a book, but it is filled with speculative subjective sophistry. You cannot cite the bible as evidence of anything but subjective wishful thinking.

    You may want to examine this objective book that is filled with objective analysis of the contents of the Bible, Quran and Book of Mormon, those books that each religion claims are written by divine revelation. SOPHISTRY!!!!!!

    I submit that regardless of semantics, you may want to reexamine your logical thought processes.

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
  8. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    I take a guess you are disengage from Write4U

    I did so some time ago when he became the finger wagging teacher not liking you challenge his viewpoint

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  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    It's not clear to me that you understand the difference between "objective" and "subjective".

    Something "applying to humans only" isn't relevant to whether that something is objective or subjective, so I'm not sure why you bring it up.

    Perhaps try telling me why you think morality cannot be considered to be an "objective survival mechanism", since you seem keen to establish some kind of contrast there. How is morality different from "fight or flight" in this regard?
    5000+ years of recorded history shows that many people think you're wrong about that.
    How is that relevant to whether they are objective?
    Are they? How do you know that scientific truths aren't man-made, just like morals? (Technically, this is a topic for a different thread, notice.)
    "Subjective" is a strange word to apply to that context. If I decide to raise my arm, I have engaged in a "behavior" that can obviously be verified by anybody in the room watching my arm go up. How is this behavior subjective?
    Then why did you just claim that human behaviors are always subjective?

    You should at least try to be consistent. Don't contradict yourself in the very next sentence!
    Ah. Obvious, is it? Bear in mind that what's obvious to you is not necessary obvious to anybody else. So, perhaps you'd like to give us the "obvious" reasons why the universe does not have "moral properties". What does "the universe" contain? Are humans part of "the universe"?
    For what reason would humans make any claim at all (about anything)? It can't all be self-interest, can it?

    Again, you seem to be arguing against yourself. On the one hand, you say we (humans) don't set the rules of the universe. But then you also say that we humans absolutely do set the moral rules that apply in our universe. So which is it? Can we set rules, or can't we?
    I don't know about you, but I certainly try my best to practice morals. Speak for yourself!
    You're throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If it turns out that human beings don't always act morally, that doesn't prove that morals don't exist. It also doesn't prove that there aren't objective moral standards.
    Has this got anything to do with the topic of the thread?
    On the one hand, you say that "the universe" (or "the Earth" here) has no morals. But on the other hand you're saying that the Earth is letting us know we aren't acting morally? So which is it? Does the Earth have morals, or doesn't it? How could it tell us about our morality if it doesn't have any morality? Can you see how nothing you wrote after "Hence" makes any sense in light of what you wrote before that?
    A moment ago you said there were no objective universal morals!

    Make up your mind, Write4U.
    That's not what this argument is about, though. We're not debating on how individuals subjectively decide things. We're debating whether morality itself is objective or subjective. I don't think you understand the difference.
    Again, you seem to be making two contradictory claims. You seem to want to claim that morals can't be objective because the universe has no objective properties, but then in the next breath you're there claiming that there's abundant evidence that the universe has objective mathematical properties. So which is it? Does the universe have objective properties, or doesn't it? Is there some reason why it can't have objective moral properties?
    Sophistry involves telling knowing lies. I think you do many religious people a disservice by claiming they are all dishonest liars.
    What if one were to claim - let's imagine - that, say, quantum processing goes on in microtubules? If one was unable to provide the evidence for that claim, would one be engaging in speculative sophistry, then?
    That's certainly one of the main tenets of the Abrahamic faiths. I don't think they are joking.
    Again, you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater - overreaching in a silly way. Of course the bible can be cited as evidence of many things. You should try to restrict your claims to what you're willing/able to back up.
  11. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    That is irrelevant.
    One does not need there to be objective evidence of something for it to be objective.
    If God exists, whether we believe in God or not, and irrespective of our concept of God, then God is an objective reality.
    Our views, concepts, beliefs, are a subjective reality.
    I'm not sure you quite understand what sophistry is.
    Along with what it means to be objective/subjective with regard morals etc.
    No, you are engaging in speculation.
    No sophistry is required.
    This is also a matter of philosophy.
    As long as the position doesn't go against evidence, it is an acceptable position.
    Only foolish people would assert their philosphical position as the cast iron truth, rather than just opinion.
    You would do well to appreciate that.
    So many religious adherents believe.
    And if they are correct (there is zero evidence either way as to whether they are or not) then yes, God has given us our morality, and going against what God has given us would make you immoral.
    Wishful thinking is not sophistry, yet you seem to equate the two.
    Learn what sophistry is before you throw the word around.
    If you want to claim something is sophistry, you need to point out the deliberate fallacious argument that is being made.

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    None of this is relevant to the discussion, merely to your disgust of religion.
    You may want to first point out where you think the flaw in my logic is, rather than just shout "Sophistry!" at anything you disagree with.
    Unfortunately you have yet to offer anything that suggests you understand the issues here, Write4U, or the arguments at play in the matter.
    You don't seem to have a particularly good grasp on what the key words mean, and are throwing around another word (sophistry) as if you don't know what that word means either, despite giving a dictionary definition.
    Further, you are throwing it around simply to dismiss points being made, without actually addressing them.
    You have a singular view and are simply dismissive of the actual debate, which really does seem to go over your head.
  12. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Trying to, as it seems pointless.
    But I have limited will-power.

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  13. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    OK, most simply put, Determinism (action <--> reaction) is objective, Morality (choice) is subjective.
    Maybe this explains.

    What is the difference between objective and subjective morality?

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    That does not identify morality, it identifies evolution and evolution is objective.
    Fight or flight are hardwired instincts, but they're not moral about survival instinct.
    Some animals kill for survival, is that moral? If so where do you draw the line?
    "Oh this is objectively moral so it's ok, oh no this is subjectively moral so who is right?"
    Where is the consistency in that?
    And what does the 5000 years of EVIDENCE show? 5000 different religions ranging from human sacrifice to worship of a demi-god. What morals?
    Because they are made-up and vary from individual to individual. Again the evidence shows that morals are purely subjective and as the universe does not practise morals, morals are never objective.
    Because science is based on observation. (I'll leave it at that).
    It isn't, but then you are in physical , not a mental exercise.
    Relational behaviors are always subjective. Morals are a relational behavior.
    I don't think I do if you follow my thought patterns in context.
    Because the Universe doesn't "think" in human terms. That is religion. (again Ill refrain from extending)
    That's debatable, considering that we have divorced ourselves from nature and have been living in a distinctly immoral behavioral relationship with nature. Plenty of evidence!
    (Religion even admits we are inherently sinful and immoral)
    AFAIK the survival instinct and evolutionary processes are very much based on self-interest, no?
    We don't set the rules of the Universe, we set the rules in the human universe i.e. universal to humans.
    I have always lived a moral life as the environment allowed me. I still drive a gas-powered car, but I'm too poor to buy an electric car. Actually, I don't drive anymore but my wife does.
    And we have come full circle. Morals are man-made laws, they are not Universal laws.
    I guess you are the judge of that. I am just going with the flow.
    The last person to use the term "hence" was Baldeee. Can you clarify?
    Right, morals are man-made.
    My mind is clear as a bell.
    I think I've laid out my perspective pretty well.
    Nonono, I have been absolutely consistent that the universe has only objective properties. it just has no morals. That is a category error. Morals are subjectively made-up by humans.
    Because it has no idea what morals are. It functions deterministically and that excludes morality altogether.
    I have seen a few lying televangelists.
    I think I have provided plenty evidence in my thread on microtubules.
    You bet your life they were not joking. May I remind you of this little objective fact;
    In order to foster moral behavior in the general public, this organization was used by the Catholic Church.

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    Behold the Inquisition.
    Does anybody want to talk about religion teaching morals.......????
    I believe that I am making a fair effort.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I believe one does need there to be observable (demonstrable) evidence of something to be considered objective.
    Consideration (controlled hallucination) is always subjective, regardless if is about an objective concept.
    All our minds can ever do is make a best guess of what is "out there"
    Not everybody agrees on what is objective reality. I believe that is why we have science that uses a rigorous discipline of proof of what may be considered as objective truth.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Au contraire, I like to be challenged. It brings out the best in me and probing questions allow me the best way to formulate my thoughts on a variety of subjects. I will admit that I am not always correct and then I will have "learned".
    However, if I am correct, is it permissible to make a public statement on a public forum?

    Is that not what congenial debate is for?
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
  16. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Of course they don't agree.
    Some consider God to be THE objective reality.
    And that's not sophistry on their part.
    Some hold that there is no objective reality at all, that everything is subjective.
    But the truth is that IF there is an objective reality, then that IS the objective reality whether we believe it or not, whether we know about it or not.
    We are able to talk about that objective reality, without evidence of what it is or even IF it is, as it is enough, in discussion, to merely consider that it is there.
    Some consider morals to be so objective, in that if you have humans with the same values you will always get the same morality.
    Consider it deterministic, or due to the way the universe operates, if you want, if it helps.
    They don't need proof, evidence, or anything else that science might demand, other than a cogent argument as to why, that holds with their other philosophical positions.
    Remember, this is a matter of philosophy, not science.
    As the pithy saying goes: where science stops, philosophy begins.
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Well, that is debatable.

    I think this is an ill-considered statement.
    That's more like it.
    Philosophy remains.
    Science proves or disproves philosophy.
    And that means that Science followed Philosophy and where Science fails Philosophy remains.

    So, what precedes or follows what is a matter of perspective.
    I agree.

    But Philosophy will always be the subjective contemplation of objective truth, Science is the objective identification of objective truth.

    Question: Can morality ever identify an objective truth?
    IMO: The moral "Life is sacred" is not an objective truth.
    Hellstrom: "Life must take Life in the interest of Life itself"
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2022
  18. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    having given this some thought over the past year+
    I'll go with
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  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Since your replies don't really do anything to advance the debate about whether morality is subjective or objective, this reply of mine will be somewhat off-topic. However, I would like to correct a few errors.
    It seems that certain elements of human morality are similarly hardwired, in that they are consistently seen in human societies. Does hardwiring imply objective, or not?
    I would ask the question: is the actor (animal or human) capable of understanding the moral implications of his/her/its actions, and does he/she/it act out of free choice? If the answer to both of these questions is "yes", then we can have a meaningful discussion about whether the chosen course of action is moral. If, on the other hand, the answer to either of these questions is "no", then it seems to me that it would be difficult to impose a moral judgment on the situation.

    Where do you draw the line?
    Written sources indicate that there is a very long history of associating moral prescriptions with religious ideas. All religions have ideas and prescriptions for what adherents must and must not do.
    Last time I checked, human beings were part of the universe. Therefore, it follows that if human beings practise morals then so does (a part of) the universe.
    Observations are meaningless without interpretation. All the important things in science are interpretations.
    Can people agree about what "behaviours" have been observed? If they can, then it seems that those behaviours - relational or otherwise - cannot be purely subjective. They must have an objective component. Remember, behaviours are actions that are done in a physical universe, and you've already agreed that the physical universe has objective characteristics. Therefore, behaviours of every type have objective characteristics. Moral behaviours, and immoral behaviours, therefore have objective characteristics.
    Human beings are part of the universe, so at least part of the universe things in human terms!

    Do you imagine that human beings are somehow separate from nature?
    How could we divorce ourselves from nature? What are you talking about? There's nowhere we can be other than in nature.
    You're thinking of one particular religion. The idea of sin isn't found in all religions; it tends to be a focus in Christianity - and more in some denominations than others.
    Not necessarily. Evolution favours organisms that are better adapted to their environment, and that environment necessarily includes other organisms, ones of the same species and ones of other species. It is often the case that a survival strategy rooted purely in self-interest turns out to be inferior to one in which cooperation and altruism occur. This is an objective fact, by the way.
    Are any of those rules grounded in facts about the universe, or are we free to just make up anything? Is any (moral) rule just as good as any other?
    You didn't address my point, which was that the existence of immoral people or immoral behaviours does not imply that morality itself does not exist. Do you agree?
    You still haven't explained to me why this would make morality purely subjective.
    I don't think you know what a category error is, either.
    Clearly it does not, because here we are, human beings in the universe with ideas about morality. The universe hasn't excluded our morality yet.
    And therefore all religious people are dishonest liars?
    Is your evidence objective or subjective? Does the universe exclude your subjective notions about the operations of microtubules?
    Is it possible to question whether the Inquisition was a moral organisation? Is there an objective answer to that question that we can agree on?
    No it doesn't. How could it?

    Which philosophy has science disproven? Can you give me one example?
    Are you now claiming that there's nothing in philosophy that is objectively true?
    One philosophy holds that objective reality exists. Is that objectively true, or only subjectively true?
    Morality isn't a person. It can't do anything of its own accord. Neither can Science. Or Stamp Collecting. Or Crochet.
    How do you know? What does "sacred" mean? What does "life" mean?
  20. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Since morals are a concept and have no physicality bit rich to call them part of the Universe

    Best can do is "Sentinent parts of the Universe have a concept of behaviour which tends to improve the odds of said sentinent part increasing its life span"

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  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    If morals exist at all (and I believe they do), then it seems to me that they exist inside our universe. If they do not exist, then what are we talking about?
  22. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    There is THAT word EXIST which is the bone of contention between us. What you claim exist (ie you claim (........... ) exist with me saying (........... ) has no existence

    Note my phrasing to cover what are we talking about?

    Sentinent parts of the Universe have a concept of behaviour ..........

    So concept of behaviour is the talking point

    I can claim a concept of behaviour does not exist (it (concept) is wholly within the mind, has no physicality) and be correct

    I can understand any person who contends concept of behaviour does exist because the word EXIST has be watered down

    then what are we talking about?

    Thoughts in the mind

    But will leave alone for now

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  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I believe that I made a reasonable argument for morality being subjective, but I welcome any and all valid corrections to my fundamental argument.
    That is not a correction, that's a question I have already addressed.
    Yet another question, no correction. And again, I already addressed this in previous posts that certain behaviors are hardwired based on the survival fight or flight instinct, which already starts in single-celled organisms as a reaction to kinetic external pressures.
    I draw the line where an animal is aware of community rules and knows that disobedience brings reprisal.
    But these rules are subject to the environmental conditions the animals live in. Whereas a cow is an innocent herbivore who fertilizes the soil as it grazes (which humans kill for food), a predator must kill to survive but usually kills the weak and plays a part in the process of objective natural selection (and we kill for sport)
    The same ideas exist in secular societies such as in insect hives, where each individual fills a specific duty for the hive.

    Sophistry came along with the shaman who either pretended or honestly but falsely believed that he/she was in communication with spirits (deities)
    I thought that in scripture God banished humans from paradise for the sin of eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge and acquiring the ability for choice and disobedience.
    Yes, from observation and verification of regular patterns in form and function.

    Without controlled observation we merely have philosophy, which can be wrongly held for 2000 years, like Aristotle's belief that heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects. Galileo proved him wrong with a simple demonstration of similarly shaped objects of different weights dropped from a tower.
    I agree, objective reality is established by agreement among observers, who each have a slightly different subjective observational experience of the same natural phenomenon. I already addressed that earlier.
    No that doesn't follow at all.
    There are distinct differences between behavior patterns in animate and inanimate objects.
    Inanimate objects are subject to mathematically deterministic "physical laws" (Law of falling bodies)
    Animate organisms are subject to physically individual "response behaviours" (Bombardier beetle)
    I agree.
    I don't, Scripture does, remember God kicked us out of Paradise (the true nature of Nature), because we could act by Choice, if not Free Will.
    No, they are all subjective and that proves my point doesn't it?
    I agree and have made that argument many times, particularly in support of the symbiosis between the honeybee (pollinators) and flowering plants that feed about 75% of all living organisms on earth.

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    Now that is a noble effort. Honey and Royal jelly are two of the true sterile foods in existence.
    Please note that human wanton use of fertilizers and insecticides are destroying bees' own immune systems.
    For shame! It proves how far humans have drifted from the natural world.
    I just gave you an example. You be the judge.
    No, mathematical determinism exists.
    You live in "harmony with Nature" or you "disturb the natural balance and symmetry of Nature and you die, along with a lot of other living organisms, except the insect. It has learned to become part of Nature's balance and symmetry.
    Humans are one of the few species that are capable of abstract thought and we KNOW that our lifestyle is contrary to Natural Law.

    Yet we persist in our immoral behavior because we can and we may just end up leaving the ruins of our existence to the insect who have now evolved to adapt to all the changes and disorder humans are inflicting on this secular Paradise! (Hellstrom Chronicle)
    There are only two species on the increase, man and the insect. Man because he can alter his environment, the insect which can adapt to every alteration man makes to the environment.
    In context of behavior, Function and Behavior are different categories.

    Distinguishing behaviour from function
    And is that why we are now in the midst of the Man-made Holocene extinction event?
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2022

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