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  1. #1
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

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    Is/Ought Problem

    I didn't realize I posted this in a restricted forum, so I'll post it here.

    In many discussions about morality, David Hume's "Is/Ought Problem" is often invoked, especially when any secular moral framework is proposed.

    In short, "is" statements are descriptive (what IS the case), where "ought" statements are normative (what should or ought to be the case). Hume's argument is that you cannot derive what OUGHT to be the case by reference to what IS the case. Or, put another way, you cannot derive moral truths by reference to any facts.

    So, assuming there are objective moral truths, how do we derive moral truths in the absence of objective facts about the universe? Are objective moral truths a kind of fact? If so, what other facts support them? Are they self-evident facts i.e. simply brute facts of the universe?

    Discuss

  2. #2
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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    So, assuming there are objective moral truths, how do we derive moral truths in the absence of objective facts about the universe?
    There are plenty of objective facts about the universe (such as the Earth is a sphere) but none on them, on their own, support any particular moral position.

    So whether or not there are indeed objective moral truths, I see no way for one person to prove it to another person via objective facts.

    I don't see any way to logically bridge the gap from a known objective fact to the notion that it's just as proven that X is morally wrong.

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    I didn't realize I posted this in a restricted forum, so I'll post it here.

    In many discussions about morality, David Hume's "Is/Ought Problem" is often invoked, especially when any secular moral framework is proposed.

    In short, "is" statements are descriptive (what IS the case), where "ought" statements are normative (what should or ought to be the case). Hume's argument is that you cannot derive what OUGHT to be the case by reference to what IS the case. Or, put another way, you cannot derive moral truths by reference to any facts.

    So, assuming there are objective moral truths, how do we derive moral truths in the absence of objective facts about the universe? Are objective moral truths a kind of fact? If so, what other facts support them? Are they self-evident facts i.e. simply brute facts of the universe?

    Discuss
    Are there objective facts about the universe?,..perhaps.
    Are there objective facts about morality?...not that I'm aware of.
    Could objective facts about the universe lead us to objective truths regarding morals? Possibly, but again, I am not aware of an objective fact of the universe that could affect morality.

    Maybe we should look at the "ought" part.
    1. Is there such a thing as "ought to be"?
    2. How could we know what the "ought to be" is when we "see" it?

    Is it possible to analyze "what is" to help in discovering what "ought" to be? As in, if we take away the things that fail what "ought" to be, sooner or later we would be left with what "ought" to be wouldn't we?

    But this all presupposes that there is such a thing as an "objectively ought to be", which at the moment, seems unlikely to me.

    Interesting topic though

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    There are plenty of objective facts about the universe (such as the Earth is a sphere) but none on them, on their own, support any particular moral position.
    That is correct because it goes right to the is/ought fallacy. Science is descriptive in nature, yet morals are prescriptive.

    1) Humans die if you electrocute them (Descriptive).
    2) Tim is human. (Descriptive). Therefore,
    3) You ought not electrocute Tim. (Moral).

    https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/...g/0/steps/9175

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    So whether or not there are indeed objective moral truths, I see no way for one person to prove it to another person via objective facts.

    I don't see any way to logically bridge the gap from a known objective fact to the notion that it's just as proven that X is morally wrong.
    So, from what you are expressing, you have a problem in determining/proving that your morals are any BETTER than another persons morals (see bold text). But, I'm sure that we, and all rational and reasonable people, could agree that some actions are definitely wrong, thus they can be regarded as universal and objective in nature (i.e., Torturing a baby for fun is wrong). The question is what makes them so? In a relative world of opinion and preference why do the majority feel this way? I posit that there must be a best, or else it is all meaningless.

    The only way that objective morals could be know is if an objective moral Being has revealed them or is the standard. Agree or disagree?

    Peter

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    So, from what you are expressing, you have a problem in determining/proving that your morals are any BETTER than another persons morals (see bold text). But, I'm sure that we, and all rational and reasonable people, could agree that some actions are definitely wrong, thus they can be regarded as universal and objective in nature (i.e., Torturing a baby for fun is wrong).
    You and I agreeing on that X is wrong does not make it objectively wrong unless you are going to forward that you agreeing that something is morally makes it objectively wrong which is a position that would not hold up.


    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    The question is what makes them so? In a relative world of opinion and preference why do the majority feel this way? I posit that there must be a best, or else it is all meaningless.
    But the alternative you forward (it is all meaningless) is not an impossibility so it's possible that there is no "best".

    Not to mention "meaningless" is kind of vague term. I mean I could say that even though there is no "best", the moral compunction against killing helps our species survive and therefore has "meaning" in that respect.


    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    The only way that objective morals could be know is if an objective moral Being has revealed them or is the standard. Agree or disagree?
    I agree.

    So for there to be a provable objective standard, one must be able to prove that:
    1. And objective moral being exists
    2. A forwarded objective standard is indeed the standard that the moral being holds.

    And I have yet to see anyone do that so at this point, we don't know if there is an objective moral standard or if one does exist, what exactly it is.

  6. #6
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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2
    But, I'm sure that we, and all rational and reasonable people, could agree that some actions are definitely wrong, thus they can be regarded as universal and objective in nature (i.e., Torturing a baby for fun is wrong).
    The agreement on this is an illusion.
    Some people think they are PERCEIVING with their "moral sense", that it is wrong to torture babies for fun.
    Others think they are PROJECTING that torturing babies for fun is wrong.

    There is no agreement between these views that the act is objectively wrong, or that the act has an element or nature of being immoral in itself. This is a language barrier between subjective and objective moral POV. The objective moral view would say that the subjective moral view is equating personal taste with morality. Where as the objective moralist makes a distinction there.

    Quote Originally Posted by OP
    So, assuming there are objective moral truths, how do we derive moral truths in the absence of objective facts about the universe? Are objective moral truths a kind of fact? If so, what other facts support them? Are they self-evident facts i.e. simply brute facts of the universe?
    I would say that we perceive moral facts like we perceive visual facts. So we don't have an absence of facts, we have an abundance of moral facts. Like it is a fact that it is immoral to torture children for fun. To reject objective morality, one must say that such a statement is not factual. So that is one "how". The second would be through divine revelation such as the ten commandments. If morals are laws, and there is a law giver, then the giving itself would be a kind of evidence. So that if you asked me to prove that driving on the right side of the road was your duty as a driver, I could link you to the video of that rule passing in congress. Or if we appealed to the perception part, I could simply point out all the arrows in the road and you could perceive it yourself. I do think there is an element of basic nature of morality which means that all evidence is going to be related to itself, so the idea that it is a brute fact does have merit.
    To serve man.

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Belthazor View Post
    Are there objective facts about the universe?,..perhaps.
    Are there objective facts about morality?...not that I'm aware of.
    Could objective facts about the universe lead us to objective truths regarding morals? Possibly, but again, I am not aware of an objective fact of the universe that could affect morality.

    Maybe we should look at the "ought" part.
    1. Is there such a thing as "ought to be"?
    2. How could we know what the "ought to be" is when we "see" it?

    Is it possible to analyze "what is" to help in discovering what "ought" to be? As in, if we take away the things that fail what "ought" to be, sooner or later we would be left with what "ought" to be wouldn't we?

    But this all presupposes that there is such a thing as an "objectively ought to be", which at the moment, seems unlikely to me.

    Interesting topic though
    It depends where you start from in making sense of morality. I don't see how an atheist can make sense of it, except by borrowing from a position his worldview does not by necessity hold (trace it to is beginnings). An atheistic, secular, humanistic worldview does not believe God is the reason for the universe or morality. The question is why would there be any reason for the universe or morality? Why do we keep finding meaning? We see all these anthropic principles at work that benefit our existence. We discover natural laws. These natural laws do not depend on whether we believe them or not. They are. They operate regardless of whether we live or believe them. We can express them in mathematical principles. Why is that? Why can we find mathematical meaning in a meaningless universe?

    First, meaning comes from minds. But our minds are not the necessary mind for meaning (Why is your subjective mind any better in determining meaning than mine?). Our minds are not necessary for the laws of mathemantics. 1+1=2 is true regardless of whether you believe it. It doesn't depend on you for its truth, or me, but it does depend on a mind to think it. So what mind is necessary for it to be true? Is it ever possible for 1+1=5, or 7, or 85?

    Our sujective minds are not necessary for the principles of logic, yet without logic no communication is possible. The Laws of Logic are true whether you use them or not. Hence, your mind is not a necessary mind for there to be logic.

    What I'm trying to express (hope you understand) is that without your mind the principles of logic would still be true. Without my mind, they would still operate. So we are not necessary for the laws to exist. Can you ever think of a time when they would not exist, when 1+1=2 is not logically true? The fact that we discover these principles should alert the discerning mind to the fact (or reasonable deduce) that a greater Mind has put these principles in effect or they operate because He exists.

    In a mindless universe they mean nothing.

    The same it true for morality. If there is no best then why is what you believe BETTER than what I believe? You have to have a best to compare morals to or else it's whoever is mightier than the other that determines morality. What makes might right? If Hitler controlled the world (or Kim Jong-un, or Putin, or Xi putting their beliefs into practice) then would the killing of Jews be right, regardless of your belief? Morals would be dictated by whoever is in power (and is to a degree). Would the killing of the those with a genetic defect be right? If the killing of human beings can be justified based on skin type, or size, or ethnic group, or deficiency, of some other classification, then why should we hold killing human beings as wrong (Step this way please, you're next)? I know that you believe that aborting the unborn is wrong (and I agree) based on that it is a human being. So what makes human life intrinsically valuable? It is a question of morality.

    You say, "all presupposes that there is such a thing as an "objectively ought to be", which at the moment, seems unlikely to me."

    If it is unlikely to you then how can you say something is good? All you can say is that you like or dislike something. It begs why what you believe is GOOD/BETTER which is what these situations boil down to. Regardless, YOU can't make sense of morality. The Christian can. Your system of belief is inadequate in making sense of morality. The Christian system of belief is able.

    This puts the unbeliever in an uncomfortable position - does he jettison what is non-sensical and embrace what is or does he continue to hold on to that which does not have the ability to make sense of the universe, morality, life, truth, etc., without first borrowing from a system of thought that can? What the unbeliever does is cheat when he says such and such is WRONG. What it translates to is, "I don't like it, so don't do it." If you do not have the power to put your likes into practice then you have to bow to the will of those who can - but just because they can does not mean it is good. It just means they can exercise their likes and you can't.

    Good has to have a comparative standard - best, something you can MEASURE goodness against which does not change. If it changes then it is not best. If it was once thought to be best and changes then it was not best. Best is a UNIVERSAL, in that it applies to all regardless of whether all embrace it or not. If I hold up 10 lbs of potatoes I can confirm it is ten lbs. There is a STANDARD that all other weights can be measured against. It is a DESCRIPTIVE standard in that it is PHYSICALLY verifiable if disputed (The International Bureau of Weights and Measures). I can say, "This is what is" based on that standard. What is your standard for morality? It is different because it is intangible. Descriptive means do not verify it; they do not apply to it. If I see someone torturing a baby (and for pleasure) I can say it is wrong but obviously they may not hold the same view (but I would argue they SHOULD).

    So what is the standard? Is it popular opinion? Look at abortion. Majority or those in power rule and determine whether we muder other human beings.

    Is it might? Look at Nazi Germany or North Korea. Is what they do to their people right/good based on who is in control?

    It ulilitarianism right? It depends on if there is an agreement on what is beneficial and it has always been so. If it changes as one acquires more knowledge then why SHOULD I belief this shifting standard? Many times what someone has believed right for everyone has turned out to be dreadfully wrong. Look at the Communist system of big government (the same kind of government Democrats push for in the USA). Look at all leftist systems of big government and find one that does not exploit the masses and use them for the political gains of the few.

    So, again, Christianity has a system of belief that can make sense of morality. Atheism does not. You and Macan have both testified to not making sense of morality on this very thread.

    Peter

  8. #8
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    So, again, Christianity has a system of belief that can make sense of morality.
    How does it do so?

    ---------- Post added at 02:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:13 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    I would say that we perceive moral facts like we perceive visual facts. So we don't have an absence of facts, we have an abundance of moral facts.
    Are these objective moral facts? If so, in what sense are they objective?

    ---------- Post added at 02:17 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:15 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    The only way that objective morals could be know is if an objective moral Being has revealed them or is the standard.
    If it is the case, i.e. a fact of the universe, that there is an objective moral being who gives moral commands, but we cannot derive moral truths from facts about the universe, then how do you know that the commands that emerge from that standard are objectively moral? To my ear, it sounds like a dependence on a fact to derive a moral truth. But if Hume's argument holds, then the fact that there is an objective moral standard has no bearing on whether or not the commands that come from the standard are moral.

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2
    But, I'm sure that we, and all rational and reasonable people, could agree that some actions are definitely wrong, thus they can be regarded as universal and objective in nature (i.e., Torturing a baby for fun is wrong).
    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    The agreement on this is an illusion.
    Some people think they are PERCEIVING with their "moral sense", that it is wrong to torture babies for fun.
    Others think they are PROJECTING that torturing babies for fun is wrong.

    There is no agreement between these views that the act is objectively wrong, or that the act has an element or nature of being immoral in itself. This is a language barrier between subjective and objective moral POV. The objective moral view would say that the subjective moral view is equating personal taste with morality. Where as the objective moralist makes a distinction there.
    I'm not understanding the difference between 'not perceiving' and 'projecting?' I'm not grasping the technical, in house, language. Can you expand on this?

    I think there is agreement with most rational human beings.
    Let's test it between the four of us.
    Mican - Is torturing a baby for fun good?
    Belthazor - Is torturing a baby for fun good?
    Mindtrap - I know you don't believe it is good. So your answer would be NO, it is not right.
    Me - It is wrong.

    Who, in their right mind, would say torturing a baby for fun is right? The person would have to be deranged. The question is what makes it objective? Like you possibly do, I think that all human reasoning, unaided by an omniscinet Mind, lacks what is necessary. How do you define objective? For conversations with atheists I mean when I say 'objective' that it is the case and that it applies as right to all peoples of all times whether or not they agree on its rightness (universally so). Majority does not define it; whether it is so defines it. And since descriptive language does not apply it is a prescriptive value. Is torturing a baby for fun good? No. Because we are created in the image and likeness of God I believe most people recognize this is a moral wrong, even if all do not hold to it because they suppress the truth and harden their hearts.

    Peter

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    Are these objective moral facts? If so, in what sense are they objective?
    I would say yes.
    If there are objective moral facts. Then it is a fact like 2+2=4 is a fact. So they are objective in the same way.
    If one thinks that "torturing a baby for fun is wrong "is not objectively true, they are simply mistaken. Like one who thinks 2+2=4 may be incorrect somewhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2
    I'm not understanding the difference between 'not perceiving' and 'projecting?' I'm not grasping the technical, in house, language. Can you expand on this?
    Sorry, don't mean to confuse.
    Perceiving something, is us recognizing something that exists outside ourselves.
    Projecting would be taking something from within ourselves, and ascribing it to the outside world.
    .... Like Vanilla is the best of all the Ice Creams, or maybe even such and such IS pretty.

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2
    I think there is agreement with most rational human beings.
    Let's test it between the four of us.
    To the question "is torturing a baby for fun good?"

    Subjective moralist 1 - I don't like torturing babies, so no it is not good.
    Subjective moralist 2 - I don't think torturing babies for fun is in the publics best interest, so no I don't think it is good.
    Subjective moralist 3 - The majority in our culture has deemed torturing babies for fun is bad, so the answer is conditional objective no, but it is possible that if the conditions were different the answer could be yes.

    Objective moralist 1 - No, it is not right. Even if the whole world loved it, it would still be wrong. Torturing Babies for fun has the quality of being wrong.


    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2
    Who, in their right mind, would say torturing a baby for fun is right?
    Subjectively, any society that deemed it so. I suppose we could appeal to some cannibal nations as examples, or maybe some worshipers of Moloch, which sacrificed babies.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch

    The appeal that one can't conceive of a society that would feel that way, is one that lacks imagination. The subjective moralist in those instances have no valid basis for objection, as they are simply out voted.
    To serve man.

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  12. #11
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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2
    So, again, Christianity has a system of belief that can make sense of morality.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    How does it do so?
    An omniscient, eternal, unchanging Being would know all things. Not only this, but His nature (who He is) is good. Since He does not change He is the standard that everything is measured against in determining truth. His existence is what is needed to make sense of good. His revelation to humanity is also necessary to the degree that we have sinned and fallen short of His glorious nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2
    The only way that objective morals could be know is if an objective moral Being has revealed them or is the standard.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    If it is the case, i.e. a fact of the universe, that there is an objective moral being who gives moral commands, but we cannot derive moral truths from facts about the universe, then how do you know that the commands that emerge from that standard are objectively moral? To my ear, it sounds like a dependence on a fact to derive a moral truth. But if Hume's argument holds, then the fact that there is an objective moral standard has no bearing on whether or not the commands that come from the standard are moral.
    I may be overthinking this.

    If you mean 'a fact of the universe' (existing) points to God I agree. If you mean, like I think you do, that the fact of the universe existing points to an objective moral being who gives moral commands, I agree, providing that being you are calling objective is the biblical God. If you mean, a fact of the universe existing does not necessary point to that objective being as good and issuing good commands, then if you posit that God as the biblical God, I disagree, if not the biblical God, I agree.

    First, that moral Being transcends the universe. The fact of His existence does not depend on the universe (althouht looking at it can bring Him to mind); the universe depends on Him. He is not created; it is created. So you can't look to the universe, per se, for those values or moral facts. The universe is not mindful being, but God is such a being.

    Second, the God of the Bible has demonstrated to us that He is good. Even though we have done what He commanded we should not do, He is a merciful God. A good judge will judge evil/wrongful action. That He does. He has issued the penalty for wrongful action as separation from His presence - spiritual death. He also barred sinful humanity from the Garden, that place where human beings had inimate, close fellowship with Him. In that Garden was the tree of life in which if human beings had taken (eaten) from it they would have lived forever.

    Jesus came to restore that relationship, to provide a way back to God, to restore what no other human being could do - that is live a completely righteous life before God and then pay the penalty for wrongful action - a penalty that should have been ours who believe. That demonstrates His love for us. Whether Hume thinks this is good or not is another matter.

    Third, I don't understand how "the fact that there is an objective moral standard has no bearing on whether or not the commands that come from the standard are moral" can be anything but moral? Commands are moral imperatives.

    Someone who knows everything and created all things natural would know the difference between good and evil. His nature is good.

    Peter

    ---------- Post added April 2nd, 2018 at 12:43 AM ---------- Previous post was April 1st, 2018 at 11:33 PM ----------

    [QUOTE=PGA2]So, from what you are expressing, you have a problem in determining/proving that your morals are any BETTER than another person's morals (see bold text). But, I'm sure that we, and all rational and reasonable people, could agree that some actions are definitely wrong, thus they can be regarded as universal and objective in nature (i.e., Torturing a baby for fun is wrong)./QUOTE]

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    You and I agreeing on that X is wrong does not make it objectively wrong unless you are going to forward that you agreeing that something is morally makes it objectively wrong which is a position that would not hold up.
    Okay, we agree that torturing babies for fun is wrong! We share this in common, but can you say it is objectively and absolutely wrong for all people, whether they prefer to do so or not? If not then you believe that it could be right for some people. There are people out there who believe it is right for them because they live for pleasure and like doing this. Can you establish that it is absolutely wrong for them or not, based on more than your feelings? If not, I see your system of belief as morally flawed.

    Also, if morals are not objectively wrong then, are your morals better than mine?

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2
    The question is what makes them so? In a relative world of opinion and preference, why do the majority feel this way? I posit that there must be a best, or else it is all meaningless.
    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    But the alternative you forward (it is all meaningless) is not an impossibility so it's possible that there is no "best".

    Not to mention "meaningless" is kind of vague term. I mean I could say that even though there is no "best", the moral compunction against killing helps our species survive and therefore has "meaning" in that respect.
    If survival is the main objective, not killing may help you to survive until it becomes necessary to kill because your survival is at stake. There could be any number of situations where such a situation becomes necessary.

    As for the definition of meaninglessness, I am using it as a lack of reason or significance for something - in this case morality. Thus you can't make sense of it because of the contradictory nature of relativism. Which view is BETTER than the other is the question that concerns me.

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2
    The only way that objective morals could be know is if an objective moral Being has revealed them or is the standard. Agree or disagree?
    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    I agree.

    So for there to be a provable objective standard, one must be able to prove that:
    1. And objective moral being exists
    2. A forwarded objective standard is indeed the standard that the moral being holds.

    And I have yet to see anyone do that so at this point, we don't know if there is an objective moral standard or if one does exist, what exactly it is.
    I'm glad you agree that an objective moral being is necessary!

    You may not agree with the proof/evidence that such a being exists, but to say there is no evidence is not so. My observation to date is that there have not been many atheists/secular humanists/agnostics/free thinkers who are willing to discuss the merits of the evidence but constantly shut you down, claiming there is no evidence. I have had such an argument many times on another forum, not ODN.

    Peter

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    I would say yes.
    If there are objective moral facts. Then it is a fact like 2+2=4 is a fact. So they are objective in the same way.
    If one thinks that "torturing a baby for fun is wrong "is not objectively true, they are simply mistaken. Like one who thinks 2+2=4 may be incorrect somewhere.
    Ok, I can get behind that. However, if a thing is immoral in and of itself, that would be at odds with Divine Command Theory, where moral acts are either good or evil on God's command, not in and of themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    I may be overthinking this.
    I think you might.

    If facts have no bearing on whether or not something is moral, then no facts enable us authenticate the moral status of any act. This includes any perceived fact anyone might summon in support of a transcendent moral arbiter.

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by dio
    Ok, I can get behind that. However, if a thing is immoral in and of itself, that would be at odds with Divine Command Theory, where moral acts are either good or evil on God's command, not in and of themselves.
    I see your point, but I think that as long as God is the ultimate definer of what a thing is, then it would still fall under DCT.

    I mean, water is wet, as an element of itself. But it exists that way because God created it.

    Maybe "in and of itself" is the wrong wording? Maybe it is better said as an element of itself? I am trying to refer to what a thing is, so that the morality of a thing is something to be observed or perceived. Like a thing has color or texture.
    To serve man.

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    I see your point, but I think that as long as God is the ultimate definer of what a thing is, then it would still fall under DCT.

    I mean, water is wet, as an element of itself. But it exists that way because God created it.
    With respect, if "x" is true because of something other than itself, then "x" isn't true in and of itself. That's what the phrase means.

    ADDENDUM: We've moved slightly away from the topic, so what follows ignores the Is/Ought problem, simply for the sake of addressing the Divine Command Theory problem.

    Using your example, if the act "torturing babies" is wrong because God commands it, then "torturing babies is wrong" is not true in and of itself. Moreover, if the moral status of the act is dependent on God's command (rather than on the nature of the act itself), then God could command otherwise, and torturing babies would become morally right.

    Consider that God either DOES have reasons for commanding "X", or he does not. If he does have reasons, then it is those reasons that gives "torturing babies is wrong" its moral value; the act itself is intrinsically immoral (in and of itself). If he doesn't have reasons, then his command is capricious, and the act of torturing babies has no intrinsic moral value.
    Getting back on topic, even if God commanded that "X" is right/wrong, then the statement "God commanded that "X" is morally right/wrong" would still be a descriptive statement, i.e. a fact. But if Hume's argument holds, then facts do not bear on our ability to derive moral truths, and so the fact of his command that "X" is morally right/wrong is not sufficient for us to derive that "X" is right/wrong.

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    If facts have no bearing on whether or not something is moral, then no facts enable us [to] authenticate the moral status of any act. This includes any perceived fact anyone might summon in support of a transcendent moral arbiter.
    For a system of thought that supposedly originate from blind indifferent chance/time, the problem of morality is greatly enhanced. And just because you can describe something you don't like, does that make it a prescription for everyone not doing it? You may describe it as the "best" course of action, yet someone else may hold the complete opposite view. So why would your view be "best?"

    The Christian stands firm in believing God has revealed Himself to humanity and thus we can know the difference between right and wrong for a few reasons.

    1) We are made in His image and likeness, so deep down most of us have a moral compass (even though it has been marred by the Fall and Adam's relativism since he could now make judgments on right and wrong) per Romans 2:14-15.

    2) God has set a moral standard for us that is good - the Ten Commandments, which Jesus summed up in two. Many of these Commandments are held by most countries of this world. They recognize it is wrong to murder, wrong to steal, wrong to lie, wrong to dishonor your parents, wrong to commit adultery, wrong to want something that belongs to someone else.

    3) Without a necessary mindful being that all moral rightness stems from (One who knows best and is best), you are left to deriving morality from descriptive facts and subjective opinions. Thus, Hume's is/ought dilemma.

    Since you invited us to discuss, I'm curious of your own views.

    Do you have a solution to the is/ought problem since morality is qualitative values that lack physical substance, thus prescriptive, whereas descriptive facts are quantitative and can be physically verified?

    You said:
    Are objective moral truths a kind of fact? If so, what other facts support them? Are they self-evident facts i.e. simply brute facts of the universe?
    I believe moral truths are a fact of/from God, so they should be self-evident but to many, they are not obvious. As I said before, He has what is necessary to know objectively. A mind is necessary for morality, but the question is whose mind, since neither your mind, nor mine are that mind. With an omniscient Being we also have a reference point, a final and fixed measure that does not change. Morality as a habit of changing in cultures and through time when God is not heeded.

    Peter

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    Since you invited us to discuss, I'm curious of your own views.
    First, do you agree that the Is/Ought Problem as I've described it is a genuine problem?

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    If survival is the main objective, not killing may help you to survive until it becomes necessary to kill because your survival is at stake. There could be any number of situations where such a situation becomes necessary.
    And not coincidentally, such killings are often seen as moral killings. A person generally will not legally punished for killing in self-defense. So aiding in survival could very well be the "meaning" behind morality and therefore there can be a secular basis for the meaning of morality

    I'm not saying that morality is based on survival but only that one can forward a hypothesis that secular morality has meaning so it's not proven that secular/subjective morality is without meaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    As for the definition of meaninglessness, I am using it as a lack of reason or significance for something - in this case morality. Thus you can't make sense of it because of the contradictory nature of relativism. Which view is BETTER than the other is the question that concerns me.
    Which is better is the one that is correct.

    If morality is indeed subjective then objective morality is a falsehood and generally the truth is better than a falsehood.

    Since we don't know which is correct (or no has been able to prove that either is correct), we don't know which is better.




    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    I'm glad you agree that an objective moral being is necessary!
    Or some kind of external moral authority that overrules human morality.


    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    You may not agree with the proof/evidence that such a being exists, but to say there is no evidence is not so. My observation to date is that there have not been many atheists/secular humanists/agnostics/free thinkers who are willing to discuss the merits of the evidence but constantly shut you down, claiming there is no evidence. I have had such an argument many times on another forum, not ODN.
    But if you are going argue that evidence exists on ODN, you will need to provide such evidence. Until you do that, the notion that there is an objective source of morality is not supported.
    Last edited by mican333; April 2nd, 2018 at 09:41 AM.

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    First, do you agree that the Is/Ought Problem as I've described it is a genuine problem?
    Without God, most definitely.

    Peter

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by PGA2 View Post
    Without God, most definitely.
    Well, without God isn't how I described it. Do you agree that it is a problem as I've described it?

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    Re: Is/Ought Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    With respect, if "x" is true because of something other than itself, then "x" isn't true in and of itself. That's what the phrase means.
    Good point.. my bad.. So, here I am not so much concerned about explaining WHY something is a fact... we are only concerned that it IS a fact.
    My attempt of using "in and of itself" was to refer to an elemental fact of a thing. Like being wet is an element of water. (Or some better example).
    I wasn't trying to express the source of that fact as ultimately anything other than God. Even though that is what I said.. sorry.

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    Getting back on topic, even if God commanded that "X" is right/wrong, then the statement "God commanded that "X" is morally right/wrong" would still be a descriptive statement, i.e. a fact. But if Hume's argument holds, then facts do not bear on our ability to derive moral truths, and so the fact of his command that "X" is morally right/wrong is not sufficient for us to derive that "X" is right/wrong.
    Hume's argument wouldn't apply because we are not deriving moral facts from non moral facts.
    If a thing has a moral element.. like it can have a being wet element. Then all we need is a way to perceive it. If God has given us that sense, then we can derive the moral element from the moral fact.

    Humes' argument.
    To me, it seems to be Hume is saying that we can't derive moral facts, from non moral facts.
    To say we can not derive moral facts from moral facts. Would be non-nonsensical.
    Here I would argue that there are moral facts, and we perceive them with the moral sense that God gave us. Just like sight.

    In other words there are some set of facts that are not relevant to a things moral facts. Like a things color may not be relevant to it's morality. That is what Hume's argument addresses.
    The only question we have is if moral facts exist, do we have a sense (like sight) to perceive moral facts, like we would perceive facts of other kinds?
    I think it is self evident that we do. Thus people who say killing babies for fun is good, are not simply "of a different mind" their morally blind to obvious moral facts, they are morally disabled or broken like a blind man can't see colors (at best), and objectively evil at worst.

    Problem of DCT
    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    ADDENDUM: We've moved slightly away from the topic, so what follows ignores the Is/Ought problem, simply for the sake of addressing the Divine Command Theory problem.

    Using your example, if the act "torturing babies" is wrong because God commands it, then "torturing babies is wrong" is not true in and of itself. Moreover, if the moral status of the act is dependent on God's command (rather than on the nature of the act itself), then God could command otherwise, and torturing babies would become morally right.

    Consider that God either DOES have reasons for commanding "X", or he does not. If he does have reasons, then it is those reasons that gives "torturing babies is wrong" its moral value; the act itself is intrinsically immoral (in and of itself). If he doesn't have reasons, then his command is capricious, and the act of torturing babies has no intrinsic moral value.
    I don't want to ignore this, but I don't want to go off course.
    So, if I have wrongly limited my response above and ignored how this relevantly interacts with the points I made above.. I'll happily address it.
    Above I tried to limit the discussion to the factual elements of a given thing/act etc. Not addressing the source.
    I would ask one thing.
    Do we agree the failing an answer to this challenge you point out that the act of torturing babies intrinsically has no moral value?

    ----I re-word this here. Because If there is not a positive or negative intrinsic value, then the thing/act/event has no moral value element to it. In other words, that default position we should have, is that things don't have moral elements at all, as a part of their factual descriptions.

    So both statements
    killing babies for fun is wrong
    killing babies for fun is right

    These are both objectively false statements, as they are statements regarding elements that a thing lacks. Like saying the color blue smells bad. Colors don't have smell elements.
    It would be a categorical error?


    --Bonus question..
    If someone were to argue that God doesn't exist, yet things still have objective moral elements. Wouldn't those elements remain arbitrary, and thus the problem you point out would still remain?
    To serve man.

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