moralist

How do you know murder is wrong?

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

Keep context in mind. That was the 80's this is now.

One could say with some truth that it is has recently been 'the New Left vs. America'.

What I meant was there was a time when Objectivists were thumbs down on religion. Now maybe not.

 

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15 hours ago, anthony said:

I'm a relaxed atheist, for so long I have quite forgotten the fact, and have not much time for [...]  skeptical secularists who have found little to fill the personal vacuum left behind by faith.

I like the notion of 'relaxed atheist,' if I understand it. But two other things stand out in your phrase: "skeptical secularists"   and "personal vacuum left behind by faith."

Who is a 'skeptical secularist' in your view?

How  do you learn and demonstrate a person has a 'personal vacuum' where faith used to be? I mean, I could probably be described as a 'skeptical secularist,' in that I am a Skeptic (in its modern operational meaning). And I support a secular state, strongly. But then, what about the personal vacuum left behind by faith? I don't recall ever having a faith in my heart (in religious terms).

15 hours ago, anthony said:

Those secularists in numbers and their disparaging scorn for any strong convictions - at all - while being soft on the most radical religion, paradoxically - have proven damaging for European nations (in particular).

These are strong, sweeping statements, and so I think they must have actual references in the real world.  Who are these 'secularists' in numbers?  Which of them have supplied scorn for strong convictions, which have been 'soft' and which (in particular) European nations have been damaged (by them)?

From what I know, and it isn't a lot, the most secular countries in Europe are those with an imposed state rulebook that proscribes certain religious practices. Eg, France, with its public niqab ban and its ban on hijab in public service. But I guess it depends on how you collectively describe a nation as 'secularist.'

It could be that a proper definition of 'skeptical secularist' or plain old 'secularist' would be based on attachment to secular values beyond the remit of religion or outside religion entirely; officially secular states abound in the Western world.

Perhaps the definition need take account of levels of belief, or even lack-of-belief.  In that case, the countries in Europe with the least attachment to religion, or with the greatest amount of atheist non-believers.

Which countries with large formations of 'skeptical secularists' are the ones we will be discussing, Tony?

 

seculars.jpeg

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On ‎3‎/‎26‎/‎2017 at 5:40 PM, anthony said:

Previously, a philosopher said: If God is dead, then all is permitted...

Yes. If there is no God (objective reality) there can only be subjective opinions on morality... none of which has any more weight than any another. This gives rise to the religious belief in the secular lie that all cultures are morally equivalent, and that no culture is any better than any other.

Many libertines seek the illusion of freedom from moral accountability, and God is an impediment to their quest which must be negated from their darkened intellects. The easiest way to accomplish this self deceit is to create a ludicrous false characature of God and then to negate it. The only problem with this is that the objective reality of moral accountability is not dependent upon people's subjective opinions about it 

Morality is just like electricity. Touch something you shouldn't and you'll damn well get a rightly deserved shock... regardless of what your subjective opinions about electricity might happen to be.

The objective reality of moral accountability through the just and deserved consequences of our actions is completely unaffected by our subjective opinions about it.

 

Greg

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8 hours ago, anthony said:

One could say with some truth that it is has recently been 'the New Left vs. America'.

The New Left is a secular political religion which is antithetical to the Judeo Christian values upon which America (and Western civilization) was founded...

...which lends truth to the statement that people who don't believe in God don't believe in nothing... they'll believe anything.

Greg

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On ‎3‎/‎26‎/‎2017 at 6:05 PM, jts said:

In Objectivism rights precede government.

Indeed, Tony...

...and coincedently, the Constiution agrees by acknowledging the truth that those precedent rights do NOT come from government.

 

Greg

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16 hours ago, anthony said:

Those secularists in numbers and their disparaging scorn for any strong convictions - at all - while being soft on the most radical religion, paradoxically - have proven damaging for European nations (in particular).

Bingo.

You have just succinctly described why Europe is so easily being absorbed by Islam.

It's morally weak.

Greg

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1 hour ago, moralist said:

Bingo.

You have just succinctly described why Europe is so easily being absorbed by Islam.

It's morally weak.

Greg

Greg,

One good reason for why an atheist such as I can relax, converse and mix with Christians (and Jews and a few Muslims and Hindus) is knowing that none of them has present or imminent power over me with the government's influence (and I'm not going to try to change their minds and they know better to try to convince me). We are simply individuals. In most western countries (and here in SA) Church and State have been constitutionally separated very successfully on the whole, I think. Largely, Christians have come to accept the principle. So that threat is past (and must stay that way). I don't know much about Latin American countries. However, what I've been advancing for quite some time is that there's another 'religion' as, or more lethal to people's independence, which has enjoyed immunity from that same principle, and that's the Progressivist movement - one which has not only been intimately involved with the State in many places, to a high degree it IS the State.

Reason and reality as the 'gold standard' was declining in Europe, with emotionalism and collectivism on the rise - and so it is no wonder that individual moral virtue and values have suffered. Maybe, optimistically, I am lately starting to see increasingly more fine thinkers there speak up, identify and condemn the wholesale slide of values and personal integrity.

About knowing good vs. evil, and knowing what has to be done to defend one's values: If I ever somehow ended up as that atheist in a foxhole for real, my first (only) choice would be to have a U.S. Christian soldier and an Israeli soldier alongside me...

 

 

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

Greg,

One good reason for why an atheist such as I can relax, converse and mix with Christians (and Jews and a few Muslims and Hindus) is knowing that none of them has present or imminent power over me with the government's influence (and I'm not going to try to change their minds and they know better to try to convince me). We are simply individuals.

Take us as an example, Tony.

Neither of us could possibly pose any threat to each other because we share the same basic moral values. I have no problem with you being an atheist because we both love what's right... and that love trumps any doctrine... religious or secular.

This is how any religious secular or political ideological abyss is bridged...

...simply by sharing the same values. nodder.gif

 

Greg

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I wondered if Tony and Wiliam in discussion would sound better in French or English, and took a couple of side alleys. I said, "these sound like train announcements," and one thing led to another. A caprice.

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On 3/28/2017 at 5:51 AM, jts said:

What I meant was there was a time when Objectivists were thumbs down on religion. Now maybe not.

Jerry,

It's a question of checking premises rather than just accepting what someone else has done or said.

From Rand's perspective, she saw altruism used as a weapon to gain and prop up dictatorial political power. The idea was why use force against people to get compliance if you can, instead, get them to hand their souls to you on a silver platter? That's the altruism con game used by dictators new and old all throughout human history.

And that is true.

Most religions preach altruism as a moral good.

That is also true.

The problem is, does this one use of altruism characterize the whole picture? Do people grow up in religions and/or adopt them because there is something inherent in the human that makes him want to be a patsy for an easy lie--and that's all there is?

Of course not. Some of the most fiercely independent and productive giants in human history have been religious. It's simply stupid to think they were drawn to religion because they were fools, poor things, who didn't know any better than to take bait when it was offered so they could prop up dictators. They got plenty of other messages and value from religion and, I claim, so did Ayn Rand despite her stated antipathy toward religion. There are many parallels, especially in morality.

For example, here is one with Christianity.

One of the greatest underlying messages from the crucifixion story of Jesus involves how to face suffering. Notice that Ayn Rand also dealt with how to face suffering in her work. Now look how her way is very similar to the other.

Neither said that the greatest moral good in life is to avoid suffering. Imagine John Galt caving in the torture scene in order to avoid suffering. That's not what he was about.

Both Christianity and Rand claim that passing through suffering to come out on the other side victorious is the greatest way to live a meaningful life. The focus is not on suffering qua suffering. It is on the victory over suffering. They differ in the nature of the victory, but their process of passing through suffering rather than caving on moral values to avoid it is the same. 

Once you see that (and other parallel lessons of wisdom), you can no longer join the wholesale condemnation of Christianity that certain Objectivists do, nor mock it as a spiritual con game for fools.

In other words, once you see deep parallel values like that shared by the two worldviews, you cannot spit on one without spitting on the other. Not if you are honest with yourself.

So what is better? See this, but stay silent to avoid peer pressure and condemnation from the O-Land community? In other words, stay quiet to avoid suffering?

Or open your mouth and say proudly that you see what you see and let come what may come?

You already know which one I do.

:)

Michael

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William: What was your question/criticism, again? I am never quite sure. You have reservations about my use of skepticism? I've tried to explain my comprehension of philosophical skepticism (as distinct from method skepticism) before; I suspect I'm getting boring on it. Simply, it means that "knowledge" is fundamentally impossible. Conversely, contained in the objectivist knowledge concept - over and above the fact-finding and 'book-learning' of empirical knowledge - is one's created, conceptual knowledge, conviction of moral knowledge and certainty of evaluation and value-knowledge.

And the source of skepticism? Rand on that false dichotomy of empiricism with rationalism:

" ...and those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge from experience, which was held to mean by direct perception of immediate facts, with no recourse to concepts (the Empiricists) ... [who are] those who cling to reality by abandoning their mind".

That rationalism vs. empiricism divide (so called) has been one of the greatest concerns of philosophers, not resolved until Rand - I think, anyway.

Then, the practice of empiricism ("abandoning" one's concepts, i.e. the mind) can only consistently lead to skepticism (about personal knowledge).

I gather you want me to 'prove' my conclusions (of a general decline by Europeans into skepticism). I cannot.

(This reminds me of the art debates and the demands on me to give an impossible, 'empirical proof' - about that which is conceptual, in both creation and contemplation : i.e. the medium of art).

Concepts are the result of too many-to-count and recall, inductive observations and experiences, which one absorbs over a lifetime. Subsequently, from one's concepts one can make deductions (which are my "conclusions" I mentioned). According to one's lnductive/conceptual development, another person might find almost immediate agreement with one's deductions - or not. The proof's in the eating, so to speak.

One more thing. Skepticism will inevitably partner with emotionalism, and emotionalist judgments and actions (above conceptualism and rational ones). Emotions I believe have become viewed as "perceptions", taken like any other perception - giving them important significance to some, as one's "tools of cognition", reversing causation and ignoring that emotions have a cause and are a final consequence. That is how we have got to this widespread primacy of emotion, in many parts. The concepts "good" and "evil" are very obviously being evaded wholesale, replaced with "love" and "hate". Empiricism-skepticism-emotionalism - it's an epidemic.;)

Ask someone irreligious and non-O'ist: how do you know that for you to murder would be wrong? From many of the secularists today, I conjecture the gist of their replies will be: 1) because "I feel" it is, murdering someone would make me feel bad. 2) because it's against the Law. 3). because I would be punished if I'm caught. 4) because other people will despise me.

That about sums up the New Agers. In degrees, subjectivist, anti-value and anti-mind. In combinations, emotionalist, cynically pragmatic and ethically, second-handed altruists. 

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56 minutes ago, anthony said:

 

Then, the practice of empiricism ("abandoning" one's concepts, i.e. the mind) can only consistently lead to skepticism (about personal knowledge).I

 

Nonsense. Empiricism is gaining knowledge through the senses first.  It is the only way we have of learning about the world and understanding it. 

Perception --> Concepts -->  Understanding.  

The first step Perception is the main part of empiricism.  We only know what we first get through the sense.  There are no innate ideas. 

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3 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Nonsense. Empiricism is gaining knowledge through the senses first.  It is the only way we have of learning about the world and understanding it. 

Perception --> Concepts -->  Understanding.  

The first step Perception is the main part of empiricism.  We only know what we first get through the sense.  There are no innate ideas. 

"No innate ideas". Who said there were? That's the preserve of rationalists and which empiricists rightly oppose, and to bring it in is a straw-man for Objectivists. You know what 'a false dichotomy' is.

Sensory-perception, you well know, is the start of the Objectivist conceptual process, so again no argument this far.

However, you snuck in "concepts" -- not part of the empiricist's vocabulary.

Your great Empiricist, Hume I've seen quoted as saying, 'morality is based solely on emotions'. Where is reason and conceptual knowledge in that lame conclusion? He couldn't derive an ought from an is, so showing he had no time for objective values. In his words, if he could save the world 'by scratching his finger', well - it would all depend ... on how he was feeling at the moment. Ha.

Is it possible to deduce a moral conclusion from non-moral premises? No, said Hume, and you yourself scorn the notion often. There's why, only in part, he's the great skeptic (and how he has descendants today).

I'd like to have asked him: How do you know murder is wrong?

btw, what is your answer, Bob?

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

"No innate ideas". Who said there were? That's the preserve of rationalists and which empiricists rightly oppose, and to bring it in is a straw-man for Objectivists. You know what 'a false dichotomy' is.

Sensory-perception, you well know, is the start of the Objectivist conceptual process, so again no argument this far.

However, you snuck in "concepts" -- not part of the empiricist's vocabulary.

Your great Empiricist, Hume I've seen quoted as saying, 'morality is based solely on emotions'. Where is reason and conceptual knowledge in that lame conclusion? He couldn't derive an ought from an is, so showing he had no time for objective values. In his words, if he could save the world 'by scratching his finger', well - it would all depend ... on how he was feeling at the moment. Ha.

Is it possible to deduce a moral conclusion from non-moral premises? No, said Hume, and you yourself scorn the notion often. There's why, only in part, he's the great skeptic (and how he has descendants today).

I'd like to have asked him: How do you know murder is wrong?

btw, what is your answer, Bob?

Title,  page, paragraph  for that "quote" you claim,  if you please

Answer to your question:  the law defines murder as wrongful homicide.  next question?   Some homicide is kosher both legally and morally.  Such as killing in defense of one's self or one's family member.  Some homicide is culpable but not murder as in accidental homicide.  There may be some tort action involved there.   Killing as an act of war following a legal order from a superior  or defending one's self and unit in fire fight.  That is homicide but not murder. Also criminal negligence.  Legal action may ensue.   Accidental homicide is not murder. 

I have done one homicide.  Accidental but not criminally negligent.  Very unfortunate, both for the man killed and me.  My brains were scrambled for years by that incident.  The man was wearing black on a rainy night and stepped right in from of my car which was going at a legal speed.  I had no way of stopping in time.  I still have flashbacks of that.  Take my advice.  Spill no blood.  

 

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5 hours ago, anthony said:

William: What was your question/criticism, again?

 

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3 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Title,  page, paragraph  for that "quote" you claim,  if you please

Answer to your question:  the law defines murder as wrongful homicide.  next question?   Some homicide is kosher both legally and morally.  Such as killing in defense of one's self or one's family member.  Some homicide is culpable but not murder as in accidental homicide.  There may be some tort action involved there.   Killing as an act of war following a legal order from a superior  or defending one's self and unit in fire fight.  That is homicide but not murder. Also criminal negligence.  Legal action may ensue.   Accidental homicide is not murder. 

 

 

That's all? The law, therefore the state, lays down murder as wrong and that's how you know it is wrong? Excuse me, but that's authoritarian of you. A Christian or Jew (not to mention an Objectivist) is way ahead of the game.

An emotional response from a human being, to someone getting killed (accidental, defensive, even deliberate) one must assume as a given (by any human being). Premised on this I don't consider feeling such emotion to be especially salutary, while I can sympathize.

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Wikipedia, Hume and morality.

'An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals', by David Hume

(Excerpt)

 

 

Method

Hume's approach in the second Enquiry is largely an empirical one. Instead of beginning his moral inquiry with questions of how morality ought to operate, he purports to investigate primarily how we actually do make moral judgments. As Hume puts it:

As this is a question of fact, not of abstract science, we can only expect success, by following the experimental method, and deducing general maxims from a comparison of particular instances. (EPM, §1, ¶10)

Furthermore, Hume purports to provide a naturalistic account of morality, at least to the extent that it is something that is common among the human species. He writes:

The final sentence, it is probable, which pronounces characters and actions amiable or odious, praise-worthy or blameable... depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species. (EPM, §1, ¶8)

But, whether in the end Hume purports to provide a normative ethical theory, rather than a merely descriptive theory of moral psychology, is a contentious issue among Hume scholars.

Sentimentalism and reason

Hume defends his sympathy-based moral sentimentalism by claiming that, contrary to moral rationalism, we can never make moral judgments based on reason alone. Reason deals with facts and draws conclusions from them, but, all else being equal, it could not lead us to choose one option over the other; only our sentiments can do this, according to Hume. Hume writes that:

...morality is determined by sentiment. It defines virtue to be whatever mental action or quality gives to a spectator the pleasing sentiment of approbation; and vice the contrary. (EPM, Appendix 1, ¶10)

Hume puts forward sentimentalism as a foundation for ethics primarily as a meta-ethical theory about the epistemology of morality. Hume's sentimentalism is akin to the moral epistemology of intuitionism (although, of course, different in many respects). According to such a theory, one's epistemological access to moral truths is not primarily via an evidentially mediated faculty, such as reason. Rather, one's epistemological access is more direct. According to Hume, we know moral truths via our sentiments—our feelings of approval and disapproval.

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

That's all? The law, therefore the state, lays down murder as wrong and that's how you know it is wrong? Excuse me, but that's authoritarian of you. A Christian or Jew (not to mention an Objectivist) is way ahead of the game.

An emotional response from a human being, to someone getting killed (accidental, defensive, even deliberate) one must assume as a given (by any human being). Premised on this I don't consider feeling such emotion to be especially salutary, while I can sympathize.

Since some killing is not morally wrong and some killing is morally wrong,  what objective criteria do you have to distinguish the two.

Murder is a form of homicide  that is defined legally.   Certain aspects of a homicide must be established objectively before  a charge of murder can be made. 

Morally judgments are often  subjective or emotional.  Legally judgments tend to be more objective  or fact oriented. 

Murder is defined legally.  Certain facts must be established before a charge of murder can be brought. 

Here is an excerpt from the Wiki article:  chew on this a bit:

"Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. This state of mind may, depending upon the jurisdiction, distinguish murder from other forms of unlawful homicide, such as manslaughter. Manslaughter is a killing committed in the absence of malice, brought about by reasonable provocation, or diminished capacity. Involuntary manslaughter, where it is recognized, is a killing that lacks all but the most attenuated guilty intent (mens rea), recklessness."

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

That's all? The law, therefore the state, lays down murder as wrong and that's how you know it is wrong? Excuse me, but that's authoritarian of you. A Christian or Jew (not to mention an Objectivist) is way ahead of the game.

Scary, isn't he, Tony?

And even worse, there are tens of millions of people who were indoctrinated by the state to become just like Bob is. He would open the valve in a Nazi gas chamber if his god, the state, said it was legal to do so. His blind worship of bureaucracy uber alles is a direct result of his parasitic relationship to it.

 

Greg

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4 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Since some killing is not morally wrong and some killing is morally wrong,  what objective criteria do you have to distinguish the two.

Murder is a form of homicide  that is defined legally.   Certain aspects of a homicide must be established objectively before  a charge of murder can be made. 

Morally judgments are often  subjective or emotional.  Legally judgments tend to be more objective  or fact oriented. 

Murder is defined legally.  Certain facts must be established before a charge of murder can be brought. 

Here is an excerpt from the Wiki article:  chew on this a bit:

"Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. This state of mind may, depending upon the jurisdiction, distinguish murder from other forms of unlawful homicide, such as manslaughter. Manslaughter is a killing committed in the absence of malice, brought about by reasonable provocation, or diminished capacity. Involuntary manslaughter, where it is recognized, is a killing that lacks all but the most attenuated guilty intent (mens rea), recklessness."

It's defined legally but first it's defined morally otherwise it's no foundation beyond a written construct.

For murder to be evil it must violate the moral construct. Sometimes it may violate the legal construct with the moral construct ambiguous.

I am quite capable of murder in the case of an extreme insult.

So was Nathaniel Branden:

Question to NB from a member--not me--of one of his therapy groups (1976):

"What if someone raped and killed your wife?"

"I'd do everything I could to find him and kill him."

(The quotations are approximate. I am the source reference.)

--Brant

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

It's defined legally but first it's defined morally otherwise it's no foundation beyond a written construct.

Well put, Brant.

The law serves morality.

Bob doesn't know that... and he never will.

Greg

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6 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

It's defined legally but first it's defined morally otherwise it's no foundation beyond a written construct.

 

If A kills B, in most societies  A better have a damned good reason or excuse for kill B.   A dislike for killing a member of one's own family, clan or society generally provokes  disapproval.   That is almost a wired in response  and it makes very good evolutionary sense.  Reciprocal benevolence within a family or clan promotes survival  and  those who have the impulse or inclination probably have a survival advantage.  Darwinian selection would tent to promote this inclination or response.  But it is not  always present.  There are sociopaths like Ted Bundy popping  up.  Fortunately sociopaths who are not averse to homicide are relatively rare. 

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