Thread: Why morals don't exist

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  1. #1
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    Why morals don't exist

    1. Assumption: Morals are objective. Then we must ask: Who decided on them? We can instantly discard any God,* and there has been no account of a force of nature that would be able to define what is moral/immoral either, thus it is safe to assume that no objective morals exist.

    2. Assumption: Morals are subjective. This would mean that everyone decides what is right and wrong on their own, which in turn means that the words "moral" and "immoral" lose all their meaning. What a person simply expresses by claiming that something is immoral is that they experience a negative emotion from it. Instead of claiming that X is immoral, claiming one dislikes X serves the exact same purpose. With morals being completely meaningless, they might as well not exist.

    To quote the one and only great MichaelBurge:
    when you say, "Murder is wrong" - it's stated like a fact but if I actually try to tease apart what it means, I interpret it like "I dislike murder with a strong negative emotion; do so too" with a weak imperative on the second part
    Your move.





    *Any God described and believed in today cannot logically exist because the descriptions of them simply don't meet reality. Earth = 6000 years? Nope -> claims don't match reality = That definition of a God doesn't exist. I don't want Wingflier or anyone else to hijack this thread into a religion discussion, so if anyone starts posting about religions stuff, please just ignore them. If anyone wants a discussion about religion, you can find two recent threads about it here and here. (2nd is locked, but you can probably just read through it and pretend you're arguing)

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Herbert_West View Post
    2. Assumption: Morals are subjective. This would mean that everyone decides what is right and wrong on their own, which in turn means that the words "moral" and "immoral" lose all their meaning. What a person simply expresses by claiming that something is immoral is that they experience a negative emotion from it. Instead of claiming that X is immoral, claiming one dislikes X serves the exact same purpose. With morals being completely meaningless, they might as well not exist.
    This is a logical fallacy. Just because morals are subjective doesn't make them meaningless. Everyone has some set of morals that they adhere to and dislike it when someone goes against what they consider right and wrong. Furthermore, there are many key issues that require moral consideration which most people can agree uppon, such as murder being wrong. Everyone thinks so subjectively, but due to the sheer number of people who think this way, anyone who decides to commit murder will have to face the consequences of infringing upon the morals of so many people.
    Morals are a practice that is vital to upholding a stable society and are, in fact, unavoidable.

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    Everyone has some set of values that they adhere to and dislike it when someone goes against what they consider right and wrong. The word moral could be omitted from our vocabulary and we would be able to express the exact same things without it as we did with it.


    There's no functional difference between murder, killing and taking a life. If either one of these are "immoral" no matter what, you will never be able to justify killing someone, be it to save your own life, your family, or the entire world.



    anyone who decides to commit murder will have to face the consequences of infringing upon the beliefs of so many people-

    Opinions are a practice that is vital to upholding a stable society and are, in fact, unavoidable.

  4. #4
    I think that just because we don't fully understand human altruism and morality, doesn't mean that morals don't exist. Most people in the world, regardless of what religion or belief system they belong to, will agree that murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, lying is wrong, etc. The Golden Rule for example, has been expressed in every major religion since the beginning of time as a fundamental moral guideline.

    If morals don't actually exist, how can this be?

    I think it may be a long time before we fully understand human morality, where it comes from, and how it applies to our lives, but until then we shouldn't just assume it doesn't exist. I think there is plenty of evidence that it does exist.
    Quote Originally Posted by senzation54
    I don't care which Christian branch you belong to, unless you belong to one that acknowledges that the entire friggin Bible is a fairy tale that was written by a bunch of different idiots and then voted by a congress on which gospels and crap were actually worthy of being in the Bible, you're an idiot. You're a person who doesn't think for himself and clings to the stupid beliefs his parents forced on him as a child, or you're the even worse kind of idiot who actually started believing this crap as an adult. Either way you're an idiot.

  5. #5
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    They exist because we logically make them exist. Our level of consciousness and empathy allows us to understand how another human being would feel if we treated them a certain way, and as a result we understand that to treat someone badly makes them feel bad, and making other people feel bad is generally considered "wrong" (probably has to do with our survival instincts). Of course there are many arguments that might compensate the wrong (by justifying it in some way), but it would still be wrong on it's own.

    Having said that, it does depend on the level of equality a human being experiences with another (as well as other animals). In some cultures for example women are considered much less valuable and inferior, and will be treated in a way that most of us think is "wrong", but to them it's normal. Not sure how those women experience morality then, I've always wondered about that.


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    im Utrilitarian so whatever benefits the greater good the most is what i go along with

    if you need to kill 2 million people for the other 5 million to survive, so be it.

    though these days its hard to see the greater good when every country is in turmoil one way or another.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hat_Truck View Post
    I think that just because we don't fully understand human altruism and morality, doesn't mean that morals don't exist. Most people in the world, regardless of what religion or belief system they belong to, will agree that murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, lying is wrong, etc. The Golden Rule for example, has been expressed in every major religion since the beginning of time as a fundamental moral guideline.

    If morals don't actually exist, how can this be?

    I think it may be a long time before we fully understand human morality, where it comes from, and how it applies to our lives, but until then we shouldn't just assume it doesn't exist. I think there is plenty of evidence that it does exist.
    I know about Wingflier because I am amazing! I wonder what happened to your post, though.



    Like I said to lol_u_mad, "There's no functional difference between murder, killing and taking a life. If either one of these are "immoral" no matter what, you will never be able to justify killing someone, be it to save your own life, your family, or the entire world."

    The golden rule is broken by sadomasochistic relationships, as the sadist might not enjoy what he/she is doing to the submissive. This could be argued with semantics though, claiming that the sadist simply gives pleasure and would enjoy having someone give pleasure to him/her. But then one could argue that there are different kinds of pleasures, and the sadist is giving one he/she wouldn't appreciate etc. etc.

    "If morals don't actually exist, how can this be?" is a question a religions person could ask: "If God doesn't exist, how can this be?" (I know, I said no derailing). In both cases we're dealing with invisible things we have no proof for. Moral expressions are pretty much interchangeable with many other words, all of which don't claim as much importance as moral/immoral. I really can't say I've seen any convincing evidence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lhune View Post
    They exist because we logically make them exist. Our level of consciousness and empathy allows us to understand how another human being would feel if we treated them a certain way, and as a result we understand that to treat someone badly makes them feel bad, and making other people feel bad is generally considered "wrong" (probably has to do with our survival instincts). Of course there are many arguments that might compensate the wrong (by justifying it in some way), but it would still be wrong on it's own.

    Having said that, it does depend on the level of equality a human being experiences with another (as well as other animals). In some cultures for example women are considered much less valuable and inferior, and will be treated in a way that most of us think is "wrong", but to them it's normal. Not sure how those women experience morality then, I've always wondered about that.
    So you would say that a song/movie/book/game that upsets people is immoral? Breaking up with someone would be immoral too, as it often hurts someone's feelings. You claim morals exist through our logic, but I claimed they don't exist with logic. I'm not even sure if you're arguing for objective or subjective morality.

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    Subjective of course. There's no such thing as objective morality (morality doesn't exist without us).

    And no to the first, because people don't listen to songs, watch movies, read books or game without choosing for it themselves. And yes, technically breaking up with someone is immoral, but justified because we choose for our own happiness over that of someone else (usually).

    I didn't say they exist through logic (they don't), I said they exist through our consciousness and empathy. Our understanding of how another human being feels makes us aware of what would be right and wrong to do (in our eyes). If you compare that to cats; a male cat will kill a female's kittens so that he can mate with her. While I'm aware that it's not exactly certain whether or not cats can feel grief, it should be obvious that the male's cat is not very considerate of the mother's feelings; he is only interested in mating to ensure the survival of his genes. To us this would be extremely immoral, but in reality it's logical/natural. Hence, morality only exists with humanity.


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    So, rationale also doesn't exist because it's just the result of a chemical reaction in your brain, so your whole thread is completely meaningless.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lhune View Post
    Subjective of course. There's no such thing as objective morality (morality doesn't exist without us).

    And no to the first, because people don't listen to songs, watch movies, read books or game without choosing for it themselves. And yes, technically breaking up with someone is immoral, but justified because we choose for our own happiness over that of someone else (usually).

    I didn't say they exist through logic (they don't), I said they exist through our consciousness and empathy. Our understanding of how another human being feels makes us aware of what would be right and wrong to do (in our eyes). If you compare that to cats; a male cat will kill a female's kittens so that he can mate with her. While I'm aware that it's not exactly certain whether or not cats can feel grief, it should be obvious that the male's cat is not very considerate of the mother's feelings; he is only interested in mating to ensure the survival of his genes. To us this would be extremely immoral, but in reality it's logical/natural. Hence, morality only exists with humanity.
    And what about abortions and being homosexual? There are loads of people that get offended just because they know what's going on. If I make a thread in OT about how inferior women are to men, is it moral because it's your own fault if you read it and then take offense?

    You said exactly "They exist because we logically make them exist.", thus they exist through our logic. You say that "wrong" could be different things depending on the person thus arguing for subjective morality, but all you're really doing is making moral claims interchangeable with so many other things. As I've said before, if different people find different things wrong, all it means is that they have a negative emotional response to said things. This in turn completely nullifies the importance of words describing morality, as there are not only many different words that could substitute them, but they also hold no meaning of their own.

    Value/values, for example, means many different things, but it can also be used to convey the feeling you convey when you claim something is moral or immoral. Those two words, however, have no other functions and become completely redundant.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbert_West View Post
    This in turn completely nullifies the importance of words describing morality, as there are not only many different words that could substitute them, but they also hold no meaning of their own.

    Value/values, for example, means many different things, but it can also be used to convey the feeling you convey when you claim something is moral or immoral. Those two words, however, have no other functions and become completely redundant.
    You're pretty much just describing what subjectivity is. Other than proving that morality is subjective I fail to see your point.

    Also yes, morality is a logical result of our sense of empathy (which is what I meant when I said we logically make morality exist), but morality in itself isn't logical. I know that probably sounds confusing but I hope you get what I mean.

    About the homosexual and abortion thing, it's only immoral if you believe it is, which is a result of it's subjectivity. Like I said there is no objective morality, because it's impossible to decide what "moral code" is "right", since all have our own, subjective ideas of what is moral and what isn't. That is why someone can say abortion is immoral whereas someone else can say that it isn't, and they would both neither be right nor wrong.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Lhune View Post
    You're pretty much just describing what subjectivity is. Other than proving that morality is subjective I fail to see your point.
    Those two words, however, have no other functions and become completely redundant.
    The word moral could be omitted from our vocabulary and we would be able to express the exact same things without it as we did with it.
    With morals being completely meaningless, they might as well not exist.
    Okay.

    My point is and always has been that there is no use for the words morality, moral and immoral and that there is no reason to call things such because what one describes is nothing but one's feelings towards something. What you claim is morals already fits under various other different terms. Morals isn't anything unique, and you aren't describing anything unique. You're describing opinions, values, beliefs, emotions. Not morals. Your use of morals is as a synonym to various other words, who all have their own meaning. Morals lack other functions besides describing things describable with other words, thus the word is redundant and lacks meaning/purpose. Since it is nothing but a synonym, it doesn't really exist on its own. Do you understand now?

  14. #14
    I would argue that, since society has a collective agreement on what is 'moral' and 'immoral', the words have meaning in the context of what we as a society condone or condemn. While obviously you can define 'morals' in terms of other words (I've just done it), the words themselves remain a perfectly reasonable method of expressing society's viewpoint on a particular action. You can also use them in terms of what you consider ethically justified.

    Your argument that the subjectivity of morals makes them worthless to describe is akin to saying that art is subjective and therefore indescribable, which I imagine you'd disagree with.

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  15. #15
    Morals simply explain universal wrong doings for the majority of beings with intelligence. The same basic morals that we have would apply to a different planet with intelligent species O_O. To have a society you need to have morals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrando View Post
    im Utrilitarian so whatever benefits the greater good the most is what i go along with

    if you need to kill 2 million people for the other 5 million to survive, so be it.

    though these days its hard to see the greater good when every country is in turmoil one way or another.
    I'll be honest and say that I care more about what's best for me and my own needs rather than some greater good.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lol_u_mad View Post
    This is a logical fallacy. Just because morals are subjective doesn't make them meaningless. Everyone has some set of morals that they adhere to and dislike it when someone goes against what they consider right and wrong. Furthermore, there are many key issues that require moral consideration which most people can agree uppon, such as murder being wrong. Everyone thinks so subjectively, but due to the sheer number of people who think this way, anyone who decides to commit murder will have to face the consequences of infringing upon the morals of so many people.
    Morals are a practice that is vital to upholding a stable society and are, in fact, unavoidable.
    Not sure if I'd say it's a logical fallacy, but it's definitely a leap I don't make. To say that morals are subjective is obvious, but that makes them far from meaningless; it makes them interesting. Also, whenever I mention morals, assume I mean ethics, not morals, as morality is a particularly loaded word. I treat them synonymously while others do not.

    Morals go beyond just majority agreement, but we can derive the easy ones from biological preference, backed up with evolutionary evidence. It depends on what we want from a society and people might have different goals, but almost all forms of morality will agree on many things, which makes trivial moral discussion simple.
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    Art has a clear definition though. To quote Wikipedia: "Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions and intellect." The quality of art, however, is impossible to grade in a real way as it is entirely subjective. Sure, there may be general traits that people prefer more than others, but that doesn't mean that Ke$ha is better than Sigur Rós.

    One can of course use 'morals' as a synonym to various things (which is pretty much what one is doing when changing the meaning of the word so often), but that doesn't escape the dilemma that the word has no real meaning of its own. What one considers ethically justified is pretty much
    when you say, "Murder is wrong" - it's stated like a fact but if I actually try to tease apart what it means, I interpret it like "I dislike murder with a strong negative emotion; do so too" with a weak imperative on the second part

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beanybag View Post
    Not sure if I'd say it's a logical fallacy, but it's definitely a leap I don't make. To say that morals are subjective is obvious, but that makes them far from meaningless; it makes them interesting. Also, whenever I mention morals, assume I mean ethics, not morals, as morality is a particularly loaded word. I treat them synonymously while others do not.

    Morals go beyond just majority agreement, but we can derive the easy ones from biological preference, backed up with evolutionary evidence. It depends on what we want from a society and people might have different goals, but almost all forms of morality will agree on many things, which makes trivial moral discussion simple.
    Do you agree or disagree with my statement about what moral claims really are/Burge's quote? If you disagree, what do you consider moral claims to be, then?

  20. #20
    Morals are subjective. And i agree that they are in a sense meaningless as they are just opinions and nothing more. Ofcourse one could argue that it is necessary for a society to function, but the fact that it is still subjective still applies.

    There is no right and wrong.

    "The truth depends upon where you stand"

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