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Why an objective morality can't exist

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  • Why an objective morality can't exist

    An objective morality can't exist (or at least not knowable) simply by virtue of one fact: Hume's Law, otherwise known as the is-ought problem. Specifically, Hume's Law expounds that one cannot derive moral conclusions from non-moral premises. In moral discourse, there are two types of language used: descriptive (the facts of a situation) and prescriptive (what one should do because of said facts). However, Hume explicitly showed that no amount of description will ever lead to an objective prescriptive formulation. When Hume's Law is combined with Hume's Fork, all "ought" statements are rendered dubious. Simply put, Hume's Fork is the idea that all items of knowledge are either based on logic and definitions, or else observation. If the is-ought problem holds, then moral claims about what one objectively ought to do do not seem to be known in either of these two ways. Thus, the existence of moral knowledge and truth are severely challenged.

    It can also be argued that even if God did exist, he would not truly have moral knowledge either. Referring back to Hume's Law, even if an omniscient being knew all there is to know at every moment in time, this amount of information would still not be sufficient to derive moral conclusions from. Thus, even what God dictates to be right and wrong are ultimately subjective. However, this doesn't have to be taken that God is wrong about what he says. As an omniscient being, God would be (assumedly) the maximally rational being in the universe. Thus, we would have good reason to believe what is right and wrong based on his dictates. However, even so, it can thus be concluded that even God only has subjective moral knowledge and truth. If the theist, however, wants to argue that by being omniscient, God has access to objective moral truths about the universe that we humans don't, they must explain A) why this doesn't show that morality precedes God and B) where are these truths located, that is, if these truths are transcendental to some higher reality, how does this other reality causally interact with our own for these truths to be knowable?
    Last edited by Thawkk; 03-20-17, 07:21 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Thawkk View Post
    An objective morality can't exist (or at least not knowable) simply by virtue of one fact: Hume's Law, otherwise known as the is-ought problem. Specifically, Hume's Law expounds that one cannot derive moral conclusions from non-moral premises. In moral discourse, there are two types of language used: descriptive (the facts of a situation) and prescriptive (what one should do because of said facts). However, Hume explicitly showed that no amount of description will ever lead to an objective prescriptive formulation. When Hume's Law is combined with Hume's Fork, all "ought" statements are rendered dubious. Simply put, Hume's Fork is the idea that all items of knowledge are either based on logic and definitions, or else observation. If the is-ought problem holds, then moral claims about what one objectively ought to do do not seem to be known in either of these two ways. Thus, the existence of moral knowledge and truth are severely challenged.

    It can also be argued that even if God did exist, he would not truly have moral knowledge either. Referring back to Hume's Law, even if an omniscient being knew all there is to know at every moment in time, this amount of information would still not be sufficient to derive moral conclusions from. Thus, even what God dictates to be right and wrong are ultimately subjective. However, this doesn't have to be taken that God is wrong about what he says. As an omniscient being, God would be (assumedly) the maximally rational being in the universe. Thus, we would have good reason to believe what is right and wrong based on his dictates. However, even so, it can thus be concluded that even God only has subjective moral knowledge and truth. If the theist, however, wants to argue that by being omniscient, God has access to objective moral truths about the universe that we humans don't, they must explain A) why this doesn't show that morality precedes God and B) where are these truths located, that is, if these truths are transcendental to some higher reality, how does this other reality causally interact with our own for these truths to be knowable?
    Omniscient is limited to objective fact?
    A simple man defines his own life, the greater man allows life to define him.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Thawkk View Post
      An objective morality can't exist (or at least be knowable) simply by virtue of one fact: Hume's Law, otherwise known as the is-ought problem. Specifically, Hume's Law expounds that one cannot derive moral conclusions from non-moral premises. In moral discourse, there are two types of language used: descriptive (the facts of a situation) and prescriptive (what one should do because of said facts). However, Hume explicitly showed that no amount of description will ever lead to an objective prescriptive formulation. When Hume's Law is combined with Hume's Fork, all "ought" statements are rendered dubious. Simply put, Hume's Fork is the idea that all items of knowledge are either based on logic and definitions, or else observation. If the is-ought problem holds, then moral claims about what one objectively ought to do do not seem to be known in either of these two ways. Thus, the existence of moral knowledge and truth are severely challenged.

      It can also be argued that even if God did exist, he would not truly have moral knowledge either. Referring back to Hume's Law, even if an omniscient being knew all there is to know at every moment in time, this amount of information would still not be sufficient to derive moral conclusions from. Thus, even what God dictates to be right and wrong are ultimately subjective. However, this doesn't have to be taken that God is wrong about what he says. As an omniscient being, God would be (assumedly) the maximally rational being in the universe. Thus, we would have good reason to believe what is right and wrong based on his dictates. However, even so, it can thus be concluded that even God only has subjective moral knowledge and truth. If the theist, however, wants to argue that by being omniscient, God has access to objective moral truths about the universe that we humans don't, they must explain A) why this doesn't show that morality precedes God and B) where are these truths located.
      God is large and in charge. Your screed and preaching doesn't deal with sin and the human soul.

      It is in your court and your brotherhoods can't show where your "truths" are located or even standards against which your pet notions of good and uncomfortable are measured.

      Looking back a month to Valentines day philosophers can't prove why ladies think roses are pretty.

      Philosophy wizards can't explain why a lady expects to get a dozen and doesn't, why things can get pretty ugly at home.

      It is pretty easy to delve into concepts that go beyond the standard atheist philosopher's head.

      Philosophy can't explain why pretty ladies like to feel they are special.

      I am pretty confused when my sweatheart says to not get her something for valentines, and a volcano erupts if I don't.

      Define "pretty" objectively.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by dtsellers View Post

        Omniscient is limited to objective fact?
        I suppose not. Omniscience is simply knowing everything that can be knowable at every moment in time. I don't see how this question is relevant though.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Nouveau View Post

          God is large and in charge. Your screed and preaching doesn't deal with sin and the human soul.

          It is in your court and your brotherhoods can't show where your "truths" are located or even standards against which your pet notions of good and uncomfortable are measured.

          Looking back a month to Valentines day philosophers can't prove why ladies think roses are pretty.

          Philosophy wizards can't explain why a lady expects to get a dozen and doesn't, why things can get pretty ugly at home.

          It is pretty easy to delve into concepts that go beyond the standard atheist philosopher's head.

          Philosophy can't explain why pretty ladies like to feel they are special.

          I am pretty confused when my sweatheart says to not get her something for valentines, and a volcano erupts if I don't.

          Define "pretty" objectively.
          None of this is relevant nor addresses the OP. If you didn't want to talk, it wasn't like I was twisting your arm behind your back Nouveau.

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, what can be measured can be known, but "all knowing" must know that which is immeasurable.

            Omniscient can realize all, can't it?
            A simple man defines his own life, the greater man allows life to define him.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by dtsellers View Post
              Well, what can be measured can be known, but "all knowing" must know that which is immeasurable.

              Omniscient can realize all, can't it?
              What do you mean by immeasurable? As in things that can't be discovered via reason, the scientific method...?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Thawkk View Post

                I suppose not. Omniscience is simply knowing everything that can be knowable at every moment in time. I don't see how this question is relevant though.
                How do you objectively measure if a question is "relevant"?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nouveau View Post

                  How do you objectively measure if a question is "relevant"?
                  I'll say this once and I intend to make it clear: If you're not going to address the OP but instead try and derail discussion with your pathetic attempts at trolling, don't expect a response. Until such time as I see you actually address the OP, you won't get a response.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Thawkk View Post

                    What do you mean by immeasurable? As in things that can't be discovered via reason, the scientific method...?
                    Intent
                    A simple man defines his own life, the greater man allows life to define him.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Thawkk View Post
                      An objective morality can't exist (or at least not knowable) simply by virtue of one fact: Hume's Law, otherwise known as the is-ought problem. Specifically, Hume's Law expounds that one cannot derive moral conclusions from non-moral premises. In moral discourse, there are two types of language used: descriptive (the facts of a situation) and prescriptive (what one should do because of said facts). However, Hume explicitly showed that no amount of description will ever lead to an objective prescriptive formulation. When Hume's Law is combined with Hume's Fork, all "ought" statements are rendered dubious. Simply put, Hume's Fork is the idea that all items of knowledge are either based on logic and definitions, or else observation. If the is-ought problem holds, then moral claims about what one objectively ought to do do not seem to be known in either of these two ways. Thus, the existence of moral knowledge and truth are severely challenged.
                      This begs the question why are god's morals objective - or, what makes god's morals objective.
                      Both of these questions must be considered and answered by the theist who is somehow convinced they are the default position.

                      It can also be argued that even if God did exist, he would not truly have moral knowledge either. Referring back to Hume's Law, even if an omniscient being knew all there is to know at every moment in time, this amount of information would still not be sufficient to derive moral conclusions from. Thus, even what God dictates to be right and wrong are ultimately subjective. However, this doesn't have to be taken that God is wrong about what he says. As an omniscient being, God would be (assumedly) the maximally rational being in the universe. Thus, we would have good reason to believe what is right and wrong based on his dictates. However, even so, it can thus be concluded that even God only has subjective moral knowledge and truth. If the theist, however, wants to argue that by being omniscient, God has access to objective moral truths about the universe that we humans don't, they must explain A) why this doesn't show that morality precedes God and B) where are these truths located, that is, if these truths are transcendental to some higher reality, how does this other reality causally interact with our own for these truths to be knowable?
                      Great points also that must be satisfactorily answered by the insistent theist.

                      “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Theodosius Dhobzansky - American geneticist, evolutionary biologist and devout Christian.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nouveau View Post

                        God is large and in charge. Your screed and preaching doesn't deal with sin and the human soul.

                        It is in your court and your brotherhoods can't show where your "truths" are located or even standards against which your pet notions of good and uncomfortable are measured.

                        Looking back a month to Valentines day philosophers can't prove why ladies think roses are pretty.

                        Philosophy wizards can't explain why a lady expects to get a dozen and doesn't, why things can get pretty ugly at home.

                        It is pretty easy to delve into concepts that go beyond the standard atheist philosopher's head.

                        Philosophy can't explain why pretty ladies like to feel they are special.

                        I am pretty confused when my sweatheart says to not get her something for valentines, and a volcano erupts if I don't.

                        Define "pretty" objectively.
                        Why? What purpose would that serve - especially in the light of the fact that everyone knows "pretty" is a subjectively discerned concept?

                        “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Theodosius Dhobzansky - American geneticist, evolutionary biologist and devout Christian.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nouveau View Post

                          How do you objectively measure if a question is "relevant"?
                          You check it against known facts.
                          No wonder you have trouble discerning reality from fantasy.
                          “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Theodosius Dhobzansky - American geneticist, evolutionary biologist and devout Christian.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Thawkk View Post
                            An objective morality can't exist (or at least not knowable) simply by virtue of one fact: Hume's Law, otherwise known as the is-ought problem. Specifically, Hume's Law expounds that one cannot derive moral conclusions from non-moral premises. In moral discourse, there are two types of language used: descriptive (the facts of a situation) and prescriptive (what one should do because of said facts). However, Hume explicitly showed that no amount of description will ever lead to an objective prescriptive formulation. When Hume's Law is combined with Hume's Fork, all "ought" statements are rendered dubious. Simply put, Hume's Fork is the idea that all items of knowledge are either based on logic and definitions, or else observation. If the is-ought problem holds, then moral claims about what one objectively ought to do do not seem to be known in either of these two ways. Thus, the existence of moral knowledge and truth are severely challenged.

                            It can also be argued that even if God did exist, he would not truly have moral knowledge either. Referring back to Hume's Law, even if an omniscient being knew all there is to know at every moment in time, this amount of information would still not be sufficient to derive moral conclusions from. Thus, even what God dictates to be right and wrong are ultimately subjective. However, this doesn't have to be taken that God is wrong about what he says. As an omniscient being, God would be (assumedly) the maximally rational being in the universe. Thus, we would have good reason to believe what is right and wrong based on his dictates. However, even so, it can thus be concluded that even God only has subjective moral knowledge and truth. If the theist, however, wants to argue that by being omniscient, God has access to objective moral truths about the universe that we humans don't, they must explain A) why this doesn't show that morality precedes God and B) where are these truths located, that is, if these truths are transcendental to some higher reality, how does this other reality causally interact with our own for these truths to be knowable?
                            Agreed. But I thought this information was just common knowledge. Are there really those who would disagree?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Thawkk View Post
                              An objective morality can't exist (or at least not knowable) simply by virtue of one fact: Hume's Law, otherwise known as the is-ought problem. Specifically, Hume's Law expounds that one cannot derive moral conclusions from non-moral premises. In moral discourse, there are two types of language used: descriptive (the facts of a situation) and prescriptive (what one should do because of said facts). However, Hume explicitly showed that no amount of description will ever lead to an objective prescriptive formulation. When Hume's Law is combined with Hume's Fork, all "ought" statements are rendered dubious. Simply put, Hume's Fork is the idea that all items of knowledge are either based on logic and definitions, or else observation. If the is-ought problem holds, then moral claims about what one objectively ought to do do not seem to be known in either of these two ways. Thus, the existence of moral knowledge and truth are severely challenged.

                              It can also be argued that even if God did exist, he would not truly have moral knowledge either. Referring back to Hume's Law, even if an omniscient being knew all there is to know at every moment in time, this amount of information would still not be sufficient to derive moral conclusions from. Thus, even what God dictates to be right and wrong are ultimately subjective. However, this doesn't have to be taken that God is wrong about what he says. As an omniscient being, God would be (assumedly) the maximally rational being in the universe. Thus, we would have good reason to believe what is right and wrong based on his dictates. However, even so, it can thus be concluded that even God only has subjective moral knowledge and truth. If the theist, however, wants to argue that by being omniscient, God has access to objective moral truths about the universe that we humans don't, they must explain A) why this doesn't show that morality precedes God and B) where are these truths located, that is, if these truths are transcendental to some higher reality, how does this other reality causally interact with our own for these truths to be knowable?

                              Since I am an insistent theist, I thought I'd try and respond. I admit that I don't have much of a background in philosophy, so I spent some time with Wikipedia, I hope I didn't leave it tattered and dog-eared. I will admit to the problems in disagreeing with a position I may not fully understand.

                              Objective morality exists and we can distinguish acts as good and evil, decide what is morally good, morally evil and why it is so; decide on and even interpret Christian ethics scientifically. (So why not bring in Sheler and Harmann, who I think were atheists?) The problem gets clouded because it is the human person who is both the subject and object of study. It can be placed as a question of whether the norms of morality derive from the values of morality, or the other way (values come from the norms).

                              We do accept the sense of obligation, a sea captain [I]ought]/I] to behave a certain way; if I owe you five bucks, I ought to pay you five bucks. Both are from the wiki article and show that the is and the ought are inseparable.

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