A question for atheists and theists alike: a slight twist on Euthyphro's dilemma.

shnarkle

Well-known member
For those unfamiliar, the problem boils down to whether the gods say something is good because it is good, or something is good because the gods say it is good. In the former case, the gods admit that something is good because of a higher standard which suggests that they really aren't gods at all, while the latter case presents us with gods which are capricious.


If this is true, then it is just as true with regards to men who make these claims. If something is good because you say it's good, then you're just as capricious as the gods. If you say something is good because it is good, then you are admitting the existence of a standard that is above or beyond you. If we go with the latter then who came up with this higher standard? Who gave us this law? Surely, no one is willing to agree to laws which are beneath humanity. Who is this moral law giver that can only be above us?

No doubt the theist will eagerly respond with God as the lawgiver. They can then answer the question as to whether their god is capricious or beneath a higher standard which this so-called god must conform to.


The atheist has a different set of problems to deal with, i.e. his own arbitrary morality, or the fact that he must acknowledge the ramifications of a higher standard or morality.

I suspect most atheists will go with practical considerations, but ultimately there are always going to be other practical considerations which inevitably leads to an arbitrary morality.
 

Torin

Well-known member
I think your argument has interesting elements, and I've made arguments that were similar in some ways in the past.

But, in my view, there's a fatal circularity or inconsistency in your argument.

You give the divine command theorist these two options:

1) God arbitrarily originates the standard
or
2) God accesses an independent standard.

You should therefore give the atheist these two options:

1) The atheist arbitrarily originates the standard
or
2) The atheist accesses an independent standard.

But for some reason, you argue that if the atheist opts for (2), he opens the door to divine command theory. You stipulate, with no justification, that the atheist's independent standard must be God.

This argument is equivalent to someone arguing that God's independent standard must be Super-God.

You're not really taking seriously the claim that morality can be objective. You're assuming, for no reason, that it must originate in a mind.

Nevertheless, I think you're correct that atheists who are moral subjectivists need to cope with the Euthyphro dilemma. That is a valuable insight, albeit one which in no way points to divine command theory.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
I think your argument has interesting elements, and I've made arguments that were similar in some ways in the past.

But, in my view, there's a fatal circularity or inconsistency in your argument.
It may be your view, but it certainly isn't derived from the OP.
You give the divine command theorist these two options:

1) God arbitrarily originates the standard
or
2) God accesses an independent standard.

You should therefore give the atheist these two options:

1) The atheist arbitrarily originates the standard
or
2) The atheist accesses an independent standard.
I did. I'm simply pointing out that an independent standard must be above their own.
But for some reason, you argue that if the atheist opts for (2), he opens the door to divine command theory.
Not really. I simply pointed out that it can't be a lower standard than his own. It has to be a higher standard. It has to supersede his own arbitrary standards.
You stipulate, with no justification, that the atheist's independent standard must be God.
Pray tell, where did I make that claim?
This argument is equivalent to someone arguing that God's independent standard must be Super-God.
I doubt it, but your welcome to elaborate if you think it will advance the discussion.
You're not really taking seriously the claim that morality can be objective.
Why should I? If people didn't exist, the very idea wouldn't exist. The very idea in no way points to an objective morality. e.g. "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
synonyms: ethics · rights and wrongs · correctness · ethicality · virtue · goodness"

None of these things objectively exist. They are all nothing more than concepts and exist only as concepts. Concepts do not objectively exist. More importantly, any and all concepts are held at the whim of those who think them. So you're still riding on the capricious horn of the dilemma anyways.
You're assuming, for no reason, that it must originate in a mind.
I have no evidence of it originating anywhere else. If so, where? Show us this specimen which conjures morality in the mind. Where are these mores to be found without a community to observe them?
Nevertheless, I think you're correct that atheists who are moral subjectivists need to cope with the Euthyphro dilemma. That is a valuable insight, albeit one which in no way points to divine command theory.
I never pointed to divine command theory either. It was a pretty open ended question for atheists to respond to. So far, no one seems very interested in producing any evidence to support one horn over the other.
 

Torin

Well-known member
@shnarkle

I got the idea that you were pointing to divine command theory from statements in your OP like the following passage:

"If you say something is good because it is good, then you are admitting the existence of a standard that is above or beyond you. If we go with the latter then who came up with this higher standard? Who gave us this law? Surely, no one is willing to agree to laws which are beneath humanity. Who is this moral law giver that can only be above us?"

You never explicitly said an atheist's independent standard must be God. However, it is fair to read a series of questions like "Who gave us this law?" and so on as pointing implicitly to the claim that an atheist's independent standard must be God. If that was not your intent then you're free to clarify that and I'll happily take you at your word, but I wasn't reading into the OP unfairly or arbitrarily.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
you're free to clarify that and I'll happily take you at your word,
I need not clarify anything as my post is quite clear in pointing out that if you reject your own arbitrary standards, you must come up with something superior. If you prefer to come up with something inferior, that's your choice, but it's also your job to defend it. I simply assumed that one would naturally prefer to come up with a standard that is superior to an arbitrary one.
but I wasn't reading into the OP unfairly or arbitrarily.
You're assuming that I must be referring to gods or God, or some Godly standard. That's your assumption.

Here, let me spell it out for you: God CAN'T exist.

Care to give it a shot now?
 

Komodo

Well-known member
For those unfamiliar, the problem boils down to whether the gods say something is good because it is good, or something is good because the gods say it is good. In the former case, the gods admit that something is good because of a higher standard which suggests that they really aren't gods at all, while the latter case presents us with gods which are capricious.


If this is true, then it is just as true with regards to men who make these claims. If something is good because you say it's good, then you're just as capricious as the gods. If you say something is good because it is good, then you are admitting the existence of a standard that is above or beyond you.
"Above" or "beyond" might be misleading if they're made to suggest "came down to us from a higher plane of existence," so I'd prefer to say "independent of my existence, not affected by my preferences."

If we go with the latter then who came up with this higher standard? Who gave us this law? Surely, no one is willing to agree to laws which are beneath humanity. Who is this moral law giver that can only be above us?
I don't see the necessity of a "giver" at all. I think "it is wrong to rape" is an objectively true statement, but I don't think somebody, or Somebody, had to create that rule and give it to us. In fact I can't even make sense of the idea that such truths can be made or given. (Do you think, similarly, that the standards of math and logic require someone who gave them to us? I can't make sense of that either.) For one thing, if it required a moral law-giver to make "rape is wrong" a true statement, that means that in the absence of such a law-giver, rape wouldn't be wrong. Or, in other words, there would be possible worlds in which rape wouldn't be wrong. I don't think there are any such possible worlds.
 

Komodo

Well-known member
[. . .] Why should I [consider the possibility that morality is objective]? If people didn't exist, the very idea wouldn't exist. The very idea in no way points to an objective morality. e.g. "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
synonyms: ethics · rights and wrongs · correctness · ethicality · virtue · goodness"

None of these things objectively exist. They are all nothing more than concepts and exist only as concepts. Concepts do not objectively exist. More importantly, any and all concepts are held at the whim of those who think them. So you're still riding on the capricious horn of the dilemma anyways.
If people didn't exist, the very idea of logic wouldn't exist either. It doesn't follow that since logical rules are nothing more than concepts, and exist only as concepts, they are therefore "held at the whim of those who think them." Some syllogisms are valid and others are not; the distinction doesn't depend on our whims.

Not to speak for @Torin , but I'd say something is "objectively true" if its truth is not dependent on what we believe or prefer about it; not that something is only objectively true if it would be true in a mindless universe. And my position is that some moral rules (like some logical and mathematical rules) are objectively true.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
"Above" or "beyond" might be misleading if they're made to suggest "came down to us from a higher plane of existence," so I'd prefer to say "independent of my existence, not affected by my preferences."
Fair enough. The barbarian is independent of your existence, and that standard of morality indicates that rape is acceptable and condoned.

Perhaps "better" rather than "worse" might work. Even then, we're just dealing with subjective arbitrary standards.
I don't see the necessity of a "giver" at all.
I don't either, but then we're right back to our own arbitrary standard.
I think "it is wrong to rape" is an objectively true statement,
Correction: It is a subjectively true statement.
but I don't think somebody, or Somebody, had to create that rule and give it to us.
I don't either. It's blatantly subjective and arbitrary.
In fact I can't even make sense of the idea that such truths can be made or given.
Someone comes up with the idea, and then they give it to someone else. Q.E.D.
(Do you think, similarly, that the standards of math and logic require someone who gave them to us? I can't make sense of that either.)

Did they exist prior to someone figuring it out for themselves? There are people who claim that they can perceive the Muse approaching, and will sprint to a writing table, typewriter, etc. to begin taking dictation. They readily admit that what they wrote down didn't come from themselves, but from somewhere outside of themselves. Others tend to take the credit for themselves, but then when they can't come up with any new or insightful ideas, they start doing drugs to stimulate inspiration. Those who just patiently wait for the Muse to return tend to live longer.
For one thing, if it required a moral law-giver to make "rape is wrong" a true statement, that means that in the absence of such a law-giver, rape wouldn't be wrong.
Yes, and no. We're back to the original problem. If the law giver gives a law stating that rape is wrong because it's wrong, then that standard is above the law giver, rendering the law giver less than a god. If the law is given because the law giver says it's wrong to rape then the law giver is capricious.
Or, in other words, there would be possible worlds in which rape wouldn't be wrong. I don't think there are any such possible worlds.
Women quite frequently claim that they've been raped after the voluntarily consented to sexual intercourse. Some people have even come up with legal documents for women to sign prior to the act claiming that they are voluntarily consenting, but will still claim they've been raped. Some women define sex as rape.

In a world where populations are plummeting, and dangerously close to extinction levels, rape may be required by some societies. Some societies may deem the propagation of the species a good thing.

The gods may decide to program humanity to reproduce which is a type of rape in which humanity carries out rape without ever knowing it. How many people really have a choice then?

Our social security program requires more people be brought into the system to pay for those who must retire. if there aren't enough people entering the workforce, perhaps rape may be required to create more people to take care of the elderly who can no longer work. Those who can reproduce, but refuse are then forcibly impregnated for the better good of society.

It's the same argument for vaccinating the entire population against corona viruses.
 

Komodo

Well-known member
Fair enough. The barbarian is independent of your existence, and that standard of morality indicates that rape is acceptable and condoned.
Of course things can be objectively true even if there are people who don't see them as true.

Perhaps "better" rather than "worse" might work. Even then, we're just dealing with subjective arbitrary standards.

I don't either, but then we're right back to our own arbitrary standard.
How are you defining "arbitrary" here? (Or "capricious" below.)

Correction: It is a subjectively true statement.
I don't think "I disagree" is a "correction." But if it is, you force me to deploy my ultimate argument: yes it is objectively true, no backsies!

I don't either. It's blatantly subjective and arbitrary.

Someone comes up with the idea, and then they give it to someone else. Q.E.D.
Of course people can declare something to be wrong, and persuade others of that, but when people say "rape is objectively wrong" they generally mean that this is true no matter whether people say it and agree with it or not. Laws against rape (or anything else) do indeed require a source (they come from lawmakers), but the claim I can't comprehend is that the fact of its wrongness (if it is a fact) requires that a lawmaker on the metaphysical plane somehow decreed "let rape be wrong!" and behold, it was wrong.

Did they exist prior to someone figuring it out for themselves?
Yes; two dinosaurs and two dinosaurs made four dinosaurs, before anybody had written the equation. Or is that not what you were asking?

There are people who claim that they can perceive the Muse approaching, and will sprint to a writing table, typewriter, etc. to begin taking dictation. They readily admit that what they wrote down didn't come from themselves, but from somewhere outside of themselves. Others tend to take the credit for themselves, but then when they can't come up with any new or insightful ideas, they start doing drugs to stimulate inspiration. Those who just patiently wait for the Muse to return tend to live longer.
I'm afraid I don't see how this pertains to the issue here.

Yes, and no. We're back to the original problem. If the law giver gives a law stating that rape is wrong because it's wrong, then that standard is above the law giver, rendering the law giver less than a god. If the law is given because the law giver says it's wrong to rape then the law giver is capricious.
If (like me) you're an atheist who believes that there are such things as actions that are objectively right and wrong, you believe that the lawgivers are (of course) not gods, but that the laws they write may nevertheless be in accord with moral truths, whether they arrived at them capriciously or not. I think laws prohibiting rape are good laws, because I think rape is wrong; I don't think laws prohibiting homosexual activity are good laws, because I don't think homosexual activity is wrong.

(And obviously if you're an atheist who does not believe that there are such things as actions that are objectively right and wrong, you will have other reasons for judging whether particular laws are good or not; most commonly, utilitarian reasons.)

Women quite frequently claim that they've been raped after the voluntarily consented to sexual intercourse.
Some people have even come up with legal documents for women to sign prior to the act claiming that they are voluntarily consenting, but will still claim they've been raped. Some women define sex as rape.
I don't know what your standard for "frequently" is, so I'm not going to agree with that. But in any case I don't see how this at all affects the claim that rape is objectively wrong. How is this different from saying that scientists sometimes fake the results of experiments, therefore you can't say that any scientific claim is objectively true?

In a world where populations are plummeting, and dangerously close to extinction levels, rape may be required by some societies. Some societies may deem the propagation of the species a good thing.

The gods may decide to program humanity to reproduce which is a type of rape in which humanity carries out rape without ever knowing it. How many people really have a choice then?

Our social security program requires more people be brought into the system to pay for those who must retire. if there aren't enough people entering the workforce, perhaps rape may be required to create more people to take care of the elderly who can no longer work. Those who can reproduce, but refuse are then forcibly impregnated for the better good of society.
If you were to convince me that rape was justified under such circumstances, it wouldn't convert me to the belief that "there is no such thing as right and wrong actions, only actions that are more or less convenient for the greater good," it would just make me conclude "in the great majority of circumstances, rape is wrong, but there are some vanishingly few hypothetical circumstances in which it is not wrong." I would still say that in those cases in which it was wrong, it was actually, truly wrong, and in those cases in which it wasn't wrong, it was actually, truly not wrong. That's the case with virtually any moral generalization. It doesn't invalidate moral objectivism.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
Of course things can be objectively true even if there are people who don't see them as true.
You're still just assuming that they're true. Everyone can agree that something is true, and it still doesn't mean it's necessarily true.
How are you defining "arbitrary" here? (Or "capricious" below.)
I'm not redefining these terms.
I don't think "I disagree" is a "correction."
I wasn't correcting you for disagreeing. I was pointing out that your claim is subjective rather than objective.
Of course people can declare something to be wrong, and persuade others of that, but when people say "rape is objectively wrong" they generally mean that this is true no matter whether people say it and agree with it or not.
A distinction with no effective difference.
Laws against rape (or anything else) do indeed require a source (they come from lawmakers), but the claim I can't comprehend is that the fact of its wrongness (if it is a fact) requires that a lawmaker on the metaphysical plane somehow decreed "let rape be wrong!" and behold, it was wrong.
I'm not suggesting that you adhere to either one of the horns of the dilemma. You're just restating the facts from the OP.
I'm afraid I don't see how this pertains to the issue here.
The Muse is an external independent source.
If (like me) you're an atheist who believes that there are such things as actions that are objectively right and wrong,
Fallacy of the Ad Hominem. This isn't about you or me. Again, it boils down to practicalities, or some other arbitrary standard.
laws they write may nevertheless be in accord with moral truths, whether they arrived at them capriciously or not.
Your moral truths still need to be proven to be objectively moral truths. You haven't done that yet. You just assume them to be.
I think laws prohibiting rape are good laws, because I think rape is wrong;
So their wrong because you say so. Got it. Again, you're just restating the basic facts of the OP. You're not advancing the discussion by repeating yourself.
I don't think laws prohibiting homosexual activity are good laws, because I don't think homosexual activity is wrong.
See above. Coming up with one example after another doesn't advance the discussion in the slightest.
(And obviously if you're an atheist who does not believe that there are such things as actions that are objectively right and wrong, you will have other reasons for judging whether particular laws are good or not; most commonly, utilitarian reasons.)
No. I won't. I already addressed the issue of practicalities which are essentially the same as utilitarian.
I don't see how this at all affects the claim that rape is objectively wrong.
It affects it by pointing out that it's an arbitrary definition. Some cultures don't have a word for rape. The concept doesn't exist in the first place. There are no laws against it. This is true for those cultures where rape never occurs as well as those where it is commonplace.
How is this different from saying that scientists sometimes fake the results of experiments, therefore you can't say that any scientific claim is objectively true?
Truth claims are all subjective, and subjectively claimed. The objective world may exist, but without anyone to make a truth claim, there is nothing in the world that is true. The concept doesn't objectively exist. Concepts do not objectively exist.
in those cases in which it wasn't wrong, it was actually, truly not wrong. That's the case with virtually any moral generalization. It doesn't invalidate moral objectivism.
It doesn't validate it either. You're still just assuming there is something called moral objectivism that objectively exists when the fact is that it only exists as a concept within one's own mind.

It's easy to take some issue that seems black and white, and claim that this is proof positive that morals objectively exist. If we take issues that aren't so cut and dry, suddenly this isn't the case at all.

For example: It is commonly accepted that a woman should have a right to choose whether to have a baby or to abort; "my body, my choice" But she has no idea who this baby could become. He or she could discover the cure for cancer or heart disease. They could establish world peace, but we'll never know.

Likewise, we have experimental vaccines being peddled around the world that governments are now calling for mandates that everyone be vaccinated. Some are saying, "my body, my choice"

Motorcycle riders are mandated to wear helmets. They will also claim, "my body my choice".

Helmet save lives so you must wear a helmet whenever you ride a motorcycle. However, if you're driving a car, you will be cited for wearing a helmet while driving a car. But it's my body, why isn't it my choice? These claims fall on deaf ears.

More importantly, there is no objective morality It's blatantly arbitrary. as the OP points out, something is good because you say it's good.
 

Komodo

Well-known member
You're still just assuming that they're true.
I'm not arguing the case for moral objectivism, I'm only arguing that your claim in the OP -- that an atheist who believed in objective morality would have to believe either in his own godhood or in a "lawgiver" whose pronouncements were themselves arbitrary -- is false, since the atheist does not need to accept either proposition, explicitly or implicitly.

I'm not redefining these terms.
By the usual definition of "arbitrary" or "capricious," then, it is possible for an atheist's conclusions not to be arbitrary or capricious, but to be built on reasonable principles: like the golden rule, for example. And if your counter-argument is that such principles are arbitrary because not everybody finds them convincing, then I think you would be redefining "arbitrary." And by that definition, basically all principles are arbitrary. In which case I don't see why it would bother me to be accused of being "arbitrary."

I wasn't correcting you for disagreeing. I was pointing out that your claim is subjective rather than objective.
I said I believed "rape is wrong" is objectively true, and you said "no, it's subjectively true." If all you mean by that is that my belief is subjective, of course it is; all beliefs are. But if you think that fact in itself establishes that there can be no such thing as something which is objectively true, that's a non sequitur. And if that's not your point, I don't know what your point is.

A distinction with no effective difference.
I said I couldn't understand how moral truths like "rape is wrong" could be "created," and your answer was "somebody said it and others accepted it." But that's not the creation of a moral truth, it's the creation of a law or custom. If your position is that there is no such thing as a moral truth, there are only laws and customs, OK; I'm not out to convert anybody to moral objectivism here. But I am disputing your claim that there's a dilemma or contradiction for atheists who are moral objectivists, because they would be compelled either to accept themselves as gods or accept some "lawgiver." I don't feel at all compelled to accept or invoke or posit either, and I haven't seen where you've made the case that I'm doing so implicitly.

Fallacy of the Ad Hominem.
That certainly isn't the definition of Ad Hominem as I learned it.

Your moral truths still need to be proven to be objectively moral truths. You haven't done that yet. You just assume them to be.
Again, I'm not trying to prove that objective moral truths exist; I'm saying that your particular claim, about the "dilemma" faced by an atheist who does believe that they exist, is false. And again, I see no case that I am compelled to accept either one horn or the other.

So they're wrong because you say so. Got it.
No, you don't. "I believe that X is good because I believe Y is true" is not at all equivalent to "Y is true because I say it is true." They are not remotely similar statements.

And I'm not interested in discussing abortion or vaccination here, sorry.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
I'm not arguing the case for moral objectivism,
Correct. That's why I pointed out that you're just assuming it to be the case, which doesn't prove anything.
I'm only arguing that your claim in the OP -- that an atheist who believed in objective morality would have to believe either in his own godhood
False, and contradictory. Atheists don't believe in any gods. An atheist just believes in his own arbitrary standard or criteria for right and wrong.
or in a "lawgiver" whose pronouncements were themselves arbitrary -- is false,
Strawman argument: I never suggested they were arbitrary, but yeah, that would be false.
since the atheist does not need to accept either proposition, explicitly or implicitly.
True, but so what? I never claimed they had to accept either one. I merely pointed out that they're either coming up with their own arbitrary standard or morality, or they're utilizing a completely separate standard.
By the usual definition of "arbitrary" or "capricious," then, it is possible for an atheist's conclusions not to be arbitrary or capricious, but to be built on reasonable principles:
There is no effective difference due to the fact that your reasons are going to be different from someone else's reasons. Whatever reasons one comes up with they're their own subjective reasons.
like the golden rule, for example.
Just as arbitrary. Try the Platinum rule as well.
And if your counter-argument is that such principles are arbitrary because not everybody finds them convincing, then I think you would be redefining "arbitrary."
You have a point here, but only insofar as I'm not using the term in its strictest sense. It's beside the point, which is that whatever reason one comes up with, they must be based upon underlying assumptions which are never proven. In other words, no one is able to rely upon an absolute standard, but only a relative one, and relative standards are ultimately arbitrary. You find some point that looks good enough, and you call it good. To those who have found a significantly superior standard, yours is unequivocally arbitrary.
And by that definition, basically all principles are arbitrary. In which case I don't see why it would bother me to be accused of being "arbitrary."
Whether you're bothered or not is beside the point.
I said I believed "rape is wrong" is objectively true, and you said "no, it's subjectively true." If all you mean by that is that my belief is subjective, of course it is; all beliefs are. But if you think that fact in itself establishes that there can be no such thing as something which is objectively true, that's a non sequitur.
Correct, but again i never said that just because your standard is subjective, there can be no such thing as objective truth. I merely pointed out that you're dealing with subjective morality, truths, etc..
And if that's not your point, I don't know what your point is.
My point is that you have never proven objective morality even exists. I don't see how it's possible to begin with, but you're welcome to try if you think you can.
I said I couldn't understand how moral truths like "rape is wrong" could be "created," and your answer was "somebody said it and others accepted it." But that's not the creation of a moral truth, it's the creation of a law or custom.
I don't see the effective difference here either. The law is assumed to be based upon a moral truth, but assuming it to be the case doesn't prove it to be the case.
I am disputing your claim that there's a dilemma or contradiction for atheists who are moral objectivists, because they would be compelled either to accept themselves as gods or accept some "lawgiver."
You're repeating yourself. The fact that you dispute my claims is not something that anyone needs to be reminded of. What we'd like to see are some facts, proofs, etc. to back up why you are disputing my claim. However, you keep misrepresenting my claim. I am not suggesting that an atheist must accept themselves as a god, or accept some "lawgiver". I'm asking the question: "who came up with this higher standard? Who gave us this law?" If you think it just appeared out of nowhere, why do you think that? If you have some other solution, what it is, and why do you think that?
I don't feel at all compelled to accept or invoke or posit either,
I get the impression that you've basically just accepted what you've been taught to believe.
That certainly isn't the definition of Ad Hominem as I learned it.
ad hominem
[ˌad ˈhämənəm]

ADJECTIVE

  1. (of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.

  2. c. 1600, Latin, literally "to a man," from ad "to" (see ad-) + hominem, accusative of homo "man" (see homunculus). Hence, "to the interests and passions of the person." Originally an argument or appeal to the known preferences or principles of the person addressed, rather than to abstract truth or logic.
Again, I'm not trying to prove that objective moral truths exist;
We're all well aware of that. As I have been pointing out from the beginning, you're simply assuming them.
I'm saying that your particular claim, about the "dilemma" faced by an atheist who does believe that they exist, is false.
Then you're either not an atheist, or you have a strange way of presenting an argument as if you yourself actually do believe they exist, but now you don't.
And again, I see no case that I am compelled to accept either one horn or the other.
Quite true which spotlights that you just accept whatever is presented to you as if it is self evidently true. This is what you've been claiming from the beginning. You have repeatedly stated that "rape is wrong" is objectively true. Here it is again: "I said I believed "rape is wrong" is objectively true,"
No, you don't. "I believe that X is good because I believe Y is true" is not at all equivalent to "Y is true because I say it is true." They are not remotely similar statements.
Here's what you actually posted: "I think laws prohibiting rape are good laws, because I think rape is wrong;"

You are assuming rape is wrong. Rape is wrong because you say it's wrong. You can come up with all sorts of practical reasons why rape is wrong, and plenty of other people can come up their reasons why rape is right or wrong based upon their own criteria of right and wrong. There is no absolute standard by which everyone can be compelled to abide by, forget about actually manifesting it in their own lives.
And I'm not interested in discussing abortion or vaccination here, sorry.
I'm not either. I simply presented them as examples to show how easily and rapidly people can go off in the exact opposite direction. One side has their set of standards to determine what is right and what is wrong, while the other side can have the exact same criteria, and yet completely disagree. Or the exact same person can take their standard of morality, and completely ignore it with regards to another issue.

That's about as close to arbitrary as one can get without being arbitrary. Ultimately, there is no absolute standard. It has to be assumed in order to claim that there is something we call "objective morality" We create it as easily as we create our gods. They are essentially and effectively identical.
 

Komodo

Well-known member
Correct. That's why I pointed out that you're just assuming it to be the case, which doesn't prove anything.
Your OP did not ask for proof that objective moral truths exist. It asked atheists to explain, IF they believed such truths existed ("If you say something is good because it is good"), who was responsible for them ("who came up with this higher standard? Who gave us this law?") And I answered: I think they exist, but that nobody "gave" them or created them, as nobody gave or created the rules of logic or math.

Your response to this has just been to say, over and over, that I'm not proving that objective moral truths exist. And when I point out that I'm not trying to do this, that I'm just trying to respond to the question in the OP, you ignore this and tell me me again that I'm not proving that objective moral truths exist.

If you wanted an answer to the question, "if you believe objective moral truths exist, what makes you believe that?" then you should have asked that question. I think I've sufficiently answered your actual question in the OP -- at least I haven't seen anything from you which suggests any problem with that answer -- so I'm not continuing this "exchange."
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
Your OP did not ask for proof that objective moral truths exist.
Correct.
It asked atheists to explain, IF they believed such truths existed ("If you say something is good because it is good"), who was responsible for them ("who came up with this higher standard? Who gave us this law?") And I answered: I think they exist,
They exist in the exact same way God exists.
but that nobody "gave" them or created them, as nobody gave or created the rules of logic or math.

Your response to this has just been to say, over and over, that I'm not proving that objective moral truths exist.
Correct. I'm refuting your claim.
And when I point out that I'm not trying to do this, that I'm just trying to respond to the question in the OP, you ignore this
I'm not ignoring your response. I'm pointing out that you've taken the capricious horn of Euthyphro's dilemma. You're creating your own standard just like those who create their own gods.
 

Komodo

Well-known member
[. . .] I'm not ignoring your response. I'm pointing out that you've taken the capricious horn of Euthyphro's dilemma. You're creating your own standard just like those who create their own gods.
That's entirely false. I'm not saying "something is good because I say it's good" (your "capricious horn"), I'm saying "some things are good, no matter what anybody says (including me)." You're claiming, absurdly, that "I believe laws against rape are good, because rape is wrong" is the same as saying "Rape is wrong because I say it's wrong." No. Nor does "I believe this diamond will scratch glass, because diamond is harder than glass" mean the same thing as "diamond is harder than glass, because I say it's harder." Nor does "I believe Mike Trout will be in the Hall of Fame, because he's one of the greatest players in baseball history" mean the same thing as "Mike Trout is great because I say he's great."

The fact that I am not right now giving you my reason for saying "rape is wrong" or "diamond is harder than glass" or "Mike Trout is great" simply does not imply that I believe these things are true "because I say so." You're entitled to say "you're not giving your reason for saying this," but you're not entitled to deduce that I'm somehow claiming that whatever I say is true by virtue of the fact that I'm saying it.

If you can give some reason to dispute this, I'll answer; otherwise I'm going to stop here.
 
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shnarkle

Well-known member
That's entirely false. I'm not saying "something is good because I say it's good" (your "capricious horn"), I'm saying "some things are good, no matter what anybody says (including me)."
I read it wrong, my bad.

So you're saying it's good because it's good. Socrates would point out to Euthyphro that there are no gods worthy of the name, and we can likewise point out that we must also fall beneath this unassailable standard as well. The problem is that I have yet to see how you or I are in any position to judge the veracity or validity of this standard.
 

Komodo

Well-known member
I read it wrong, my bad.
Thank you. It's rare to read those words here, and I appreciate it.

So you're saying it's good because it's good. Socrates would point out to Euthyphro that there are no gods worthy of the name, and we can likewise point out that we must also fall beneath this unassailable standard as well. The problem is that I have yet to see how you or I are in any position to judge the veracity or validity of this standard.
As in any endeavor where we don't have indisputable axioms to start with, we try to find principles we do agree on and do our best to reason our way forward from there as well as we can, without any certain assurance that in doing so we must arrive at the truth. Such is life.
 

Tiburon

Well-known member
I read it wrong, my bad.

So you're saying it's good because it's good. Socrates would point out to Euthyphro that there are no gods worthy of the name, and we can likewise point out that we must also fall beneath this unassailable standard as well. The problem is that I have yet to see how you or I are in any position to judge the veracity or validity of this standard.
We are humans. The standard is applied to humans. How are we not in a position to judge this standard?
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
Thank you. It's rare to read those words here, and I appreciate it.


As in any endeavor where we don't have indisputable axioms to start with, we try to find principles we do agree on and do our best to reason our way forward from there as well as we can, without any certain assurance that in doing so we must arrive at the truth. Such is life.
Yep. So we're back to assuming things just like we assume the gods. People used to agree on the characteristics of the gods. Now we've simply changed the names. Honestly, the Greek and Roman gods are far more interesting, and those that came up with them were far more imaginative than anything our post modern world can come up with.

Just so we're on the same page, the gods say it's good because it's good, and if the gods are not worthy of the title, neither are we. In other words, we're in no position to acknowledge, refute, etc. We're just going along with the crowd.

We're searching for certainty, absolutes, gods etc. So we prop up some deity, standard, principle, reason, etc. and call it "good" which is effectively turning on our heels and taking hold of the other horn, no? Whatever we prop up as a guiding principle is ultimately because we say it is.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Just so we're on the same page, the gods say it's good because it's good, and if the gods are not worthy of the title, neither are we.
Interesting discussion. I pretty much agree with what Komodo has already said, and that yes, it is good because it is good, and also that we are not worthy of the title "god".

In other words, we're in no position to acknowledge, refute, etc. We're just going along with the crowd.
That does not follow.

The point is that we are not choosing what is good, we are determining it. Just like the laws of nature, really - we do not choose the laws of nature, but we can attempt to determine what they are.

We're searching for certainty, absolutes, gods etc. So we prop up some deity, standard, principle, reason, etc. and call it "good" which is effectively turning on our heels and taking hold of the other horn, no? Whatever we prop up as a guiding principle is ultimately because we say it is.
I think that that is a different meaning of "good". Earlier you were discussing moral good, now you are talking about accuracy and correctness (how well aligned with reality a claim is). The fact that we are searching tells us we are firmly on the first horn - the gods say something is good because it is good.
 
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