Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Moral Objectivity, Revisited

Excellent post found here that mirrors much of my thinking on ethical objectivity, but written much more clearly and comprehensively than anything I've ever written on the subject.

Common human prosperity and wellbeing are the goals of ethics and true, objective ethical rules are those that lead to their apex. We can analyze which ethical rules we use are closer or further away from the "true objective rules" by comparing their effects on societies on Earth, historical comparisons, logical critiques for internal consistency and the like, and reasoned discourse.

The only assumptions here are that human prosperity and wellbeing ought to be universally valued and that we have common understanding of these terms to build a consensus of action. These are not really much of leaps, especially as compared to the deontological set of rules assumed wholesale to be objectively correct by various moral Absolutists. And this way of thinking escapes the sinkhole of moral relativism where moral rules are proposed and defended by nothing more than emotion and whim.

14 comments:

Alex said...

"The only assumptions here are that human prosperity and wellbeing ought to be universally valued and that we have common understanding of these terms to build a consensus of action. These are not really much of leaps, especially when compared..."

This is not to argue, but if we can somehow quantify "not really much of leaps," that would be great. IOW, just how safe are these assumptions.

"this way of thinking escapes the sinkhole of moral relativism "

100% escapes, or more like, say, 80% escapes? Again with the quantification, I guess.

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

"This is not to argue, but if we can somehow quantify "not really much of leaps," that would be great. IOW, just how safe are these assumptions."

Well, if moral relativity is true then it doesn't really matter. Any conclusions we come to by my method are as valid as any other and there's nothing to discuss.

And there are few, if any, objectivist moral theories that don't count human prosperity and wellbeing as cornerstone values - these are assumptions carried automatically by virtually all morally-interested people. Perhaps they are wrong, but then we're really no worse off for wear.

"100% escapes, or more like, say, 80% escapes? Again with the quantification, I guess."

It 100% escapes the sinkhole where argument is nothing but sophistry, but it's still limited by acknowledgements of ignorance. The weight lies on the individual to make up their minds since it includes no assumed ethical rulebook. But this is just realistic.

Garnel Ironheart said...

> The only assumptions here are that human prosperity and wellbeing ought to be universally valued

That, in itself, is a morally relative statement.

Orthoprax said...

GI,

No it's not. It's a moral statement. If the statement is applying things universally then it cannot be merely relative.

Avi Wollman said...

Is there a ONE good, a ONE morality ? Or are there many ? Is everything just relative ? Is there nothing ABSOLUTE ? And if there are many then to each there own. No judgment can be made.
OR there is ONE God ONE truth ONE moral code. That is true for EVERYONE on earth even if he is might be a jungle man, university professor, rich tycoon or bum. If you believe in many truths then your also believing in many Gods. When you understand that there exists a singular truth, then you also have the ability to accept God as ONE. In the final day God will be ONE and his name shall be ONE.

Orthoprax said...

Avi,

I'm not sure if your comment was directed to anything in the initial post or any of my subsequent comments. If it was, please clarify, thanks.

Avi Bitterman said...

Avi,

"Is there a ONE good, a ONE morality ? Or are there many ?"

No, no, and no.

E-Man said...

"The only assumptions here are that human prosperity and wellbeing ought to be universally valued and that we have common understanding of these terms to build a consensus of action."

Well if you have more than me then everything is not equal. So if I steal from you to make us equal is that moral? We are both living and now we are equal.

The only problem with human moral objectivity that is not based on G-D is that it is always relative. Is a robin hood type figure moral or immoral?

True, you can say that it is morally objective to have a world that everyone gets along, but what about specifics? Who decides what is moral then? Is it moral that I work hard to make a nice amount of money and you don't work at all, but then we end up having the same amount, like communism. Or is it moral that I work hard and get a lot and you work not at all and get nothing?

A belief in a god that has rules gives you an objective moral code, I think. Some people may argue whether His codes are moral or not. But if you believe in that god then what he says is moral. However, it is not possible to create an objective moral code through humans. Everything is always subjective based on where you fit in.

Orthoprax said...

Eman,

"Well if you have more than me then everything is not equal."

And? I never claimed that equality of outcomes is a something that should be valued.

Getting what you deserve is justice and economic practice should reflect this.

"Is a robin hood type figure moral or immoral?"

Depends on the circumstances. Did the rich person gain his wealth by legitimate means?

"True, you can say that it is morally objective to have a world that everyone gets along, but what about specifics? Who decides what is moral then?"

The particulars can be debated and we can come to consensus based on various tests, collective reasoning, etc. For example: we know communism is wrong because it doesn't work and leads to xyz failed states.

"A belief in a god that has rules gives you an objective moral code, I think."

Well, duh. But if your belief isn't founded on anything then it's only illusory.

"But if you believe in that god then what he says is moral."

Unless, of course, if you believe that god is evil.

"However, it is not possible to create an objective moral code through humans. Everything is always subjective based on where you fit in."

Only to a degree. What works is not subjective. What works best is an objective status.

joshua said...

I visited the link. It is actually a great post on ethical objectivity. I agree with most of it.

This is Joshua from Israeli Uncensored News

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badrabbi said...

But isn't morality a commodity dished out at Sinai?

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