"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Moral Truth and the Existence of God

Joe Carter at the Evangelical Outpost has an interesting post on something we argue about quite a bit here, which is objective moral truth and whether God exists. Click here to read more. I particularly like this sketch of the argument because it includes stuff from the American C.S. Lewis, Elton Trueblood.

54 comments:

S. T. Karnick said...

Dostoevksy expressed this argument very succinctly, in Ivan Karamazov's contention that if there is no God, everything is permitted.

S. T. Karnick said...

In addition, Jean-Paul Sartre said, "The existentialist ... finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven."

Tlaloc said...

"The main premise -- objective moral values exist -- is almost always conceded in practice, even when it is denied in theory."

False, and unsupported.


"1. There must be an objective moral law; otherwise: (a) There would not be such great agreement on its meaning."

This "great agreement" is fictional. There is vast disagreements upon all matters moral within and especially between cultures. Morals therefor are easily seen as cultural attributes and not universal.


"(b) No real moral disagreements would ever have occurred, each person being right from his own moral perspective."

Each person may indeed be right but that doesn't stop them from believing their own morality is universal. This argument is self defeating. It says "if everyone believes their morality is universal then it must be universal."


"(c) No moral judgment would ever have been wrong, each being subjectively right."

True although it is leading to a logical flaw the author is about to make.


"(d) No ethical question could ever be discussed, there being no objective meaning to any ethical terms."

False, ethics can be defined in terms of how well a person adheres to their own moral beliefs.


"(e) Contradictory views would both be right, since opposites could be equally correct."

True, this happens all the time. In physics you can accurately make two completely contrary statements so long as you correctly attribute each to a different reference frame. Morality is exactly analagous: two contradictory statements attributed to their appropriate moral frames can both be accurate. This is why a process instead of results orientation is important.


The rest of this flawed argument is based on the totally unsupported contention that somehow everyone knows morality is universal, even when they say and prove otherwise.

As for C.S. Lewis:
"1. There must be a universal moral law, or else: (a) Moral disagreements would make no sense, as we all assume they do."

Assumption is proof? The man fails basic logic with that kind of argument.


"(b) All moral criticisms would be meaningless (e.g., “The Nazis were wrong.”)."

No they have meaning but only with in the person's paticular moral frame. "to you Nazism is wrong."


"(c) It is unnecessary to keep promises or treaties, as we all assume that it is."

More confounding assumption with proof.


"(d) We would not make excuses for breaking the moral law, as we all do."

We make excuses for breaking all rules and laws even those that demonstrably aren't universal (speed limitsfor example). Hence again the argument is devoid of logic.

Given how slipshod his thinking is I'm surprised you hold C.S. Lewis up as an example of a christian intellectual.

Tlaloc said...

"Dostoevksy expressed this argument very succinctly, in Ivan Karamazov's contention that if there is no God, everything is permitted."

Not at all, what is permitted is what the individual truly believes to be right. Moral relativism doesn't mean a lack of morls, it means a freedom to follow your own morals rather than some imposed morality by a despotic ruler.

Tlaloc said...

"In addition, Jean-Paul Sartre said, "The existentialist ... finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven.""

You don't have to look for values in an intelligible heaven. You can look inside yourself.

Hunter Baker said...

Tlaloc, this entire post was just a ruse to bring you out from under Mount Mordor. You had us at "BAH!"

S. T. Karnick said...

"Not at all, what is permitted is what the individual truly believes to be right." That means everything is permitted, or it means nothing.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Tlaloc's responses are unimpressive since they assume that Lewis had an obligation to offer the best argument for his position. But this assumption, which Tlaloc must believe is true for his argument to work, makes sense only if Lewis is thought to lack some virtue if he does not fulfill this obligation. But that means that there are normative guidelines by which we can assess the reasons we believe are owed to us. But who are "us"? The sorts of beings entitled to the sorts of reasons that are adequate. So, if I am not given adequate reasons, and if the person offering them knows that they are not adequate, then I have been wronged and he has not fulfilled his obligation. Thus, Tlaloc's criticism of Lewis establishes Lewis' position after all. There is a natural law that cannot in principle be rejected without assuming its truth in the rejection.

But what if Tlaloc were to say that I am merely demonstrating the necessity of a "rational ought," that the laws of logic are normative for human thought. This response, however, will not due. For it assumes that there is a higher norm--one ought to obey the laws of logic--which is itself not a law of logic. What sort of law is it? It's law about, rather than of, logic. It is law about the proper relationship that human beings ought to have in relation rational norms. It seems then to be a moral norm, for we believe that someone who fails to live up to it not only is rationally challenged but morally challenged if he is informed of his failure but persists in it nontheless. For his failure is not in his lack of reason, but in his lack of moral fortitude in correcting his lack of reason.

Case closed. There is an objective moral law.

Hunter Baker said...

I love it when you do that.

Tlaloc said...

""Not at all, what is permitted is what the individual truly believes to be right." That means everything is permitted, or it means nothing."

Of course not Karnick. Do you truly believe you are permitted to do anything? Do you believe it's okay for you to murder or rape at whim? I suspect not. Therefor you are a clear counterexample of your own argument here.

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc, this entire post was just a ruse to bring you out from under Mount Mordor. You had us at "BAH!""

Well you could just invite me to be a contributor :P

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc's responses are unimpressive since they assume that Lewis had an obligation to offer the best argument for his position."

No I assume that people were going to pick through Lewis's writing for his best argument on the subject. Afterall since the presenters are on the same side as lewis it makes sense they wouldn't want to embarress themselves by offering up a weak argument.



"But this assumption, which Tlaloc must believe is true for his argument to work, makes sense only if Lewis is thought to lack some virtue if he does not fulfill this obligation."

Virtue has nothing to do with it. A proposition was made and then a very weak argument was constructed to support it.



"So, if I am not given adequate reasons, and if the person offering them knows that they are not adequate, then I have been wronged and he has not fulfilled his obligation."

This is beyond ridiculous. Are you seriously telling me you don't understand the difference between constructing a logical argument (i.e. a proof) and making a moral judgement?



"For it assumes that there is a higher norm--one ought to obey the laws of logic--which is itself not a law of logic."

Of course when opne sets out to make a logical argument the idea of following the rules of logic is explicit. Have you ever taken a course in semantics, debate, or philosophy? This should have been thoroughly explained to you.



"Case closed. There is an objective moral law."

Your argument is precisely as convincing as Lewis's above.

S. T. Karnick said...

Tlaloc wrote, "Do you truly believe you are permitted to do anything? Do you believe it's okay for you to murder or rape at whim?" Of course not—and that was never my point. What Dostoevsky and Sartre were pointing out is that without God, there is nothing to stop someone else from believing that these things are permissible. You said, "what is permitted is what the individual truly believes to be right." But you did not mean that statement to apply only to me—it means nothing unless it applies to everybody, and if it does apply to everybody, that means that everything is indeed permitted—for whoever wants to do that particular thing. Moreover, you suggest that this applies only to "what the individual truly believes to be right." This assumes that the idea of "rightness" has some universal foundation, but you yourself have said, here and elsewhere on this site, that there are no moral universals. That eliminates even the fig leaf of the individual having to believe what they want to do is right. Anyone can just do as they please, because there is no universal notion of "right" to justify or fail to justify any actions whatsoever. And that means, without God, "everything is permitted," just as Sartre and Dostoevsky, at opposite ends of the religious spectrum, both understood.

Tlaloc said...

"What Dostoevsky and Sartre were pointing out is that without God, there is nothing to stop someone else from believing that these things are permissible."

Of course. And?


"But you did not mean that statement to apply only to me—it means nothing unless it applies to everybody, and if it does apply to everybody, that means that everything is indeed permitted—for whoever wants to do that particular thing."

No. Not "wants." There is a vast difference between what people want to do and what they think is right.



"Moreover, you suggest that this applies only to "what the individual truly believes to be right." This assumes that the idea of "rightness" has some universal foundation, but you yourself have said, here and elsewhere on this site, that there are no moral universals."

What you say here makes no sense, I specifically said what the INDIVIDUAL believes is right, and you somehow get from that a UNIVERSAL morality?



"Anyone can just do as they please, because there is no universal notion of "right" to justify or fail to justify any actions whatsoever."

Of course there is there is the individual sense of right and wrong. I don't believe it is right to rape a woman. Regardless of if I knew I could get away with it I still would not do it because to me, personally, it is wrong. Even if I for some reason really wanted to I still would believe it to be wrong because that's part of my individual moral code.



"And that means, without God, "everything is permitted," just as Sartre and Dostoevsky, at opposite ends of the religious spectrum, both understood."

They are still wrong for the reasons above. This isn't really thst hard. A person can have their own sense of right and wrong without some mythical universal morality on which to base it. They base it on their own experiences and thoughts. Naturally it will be heavily culturally influenced but it will still vary from person to person.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

"One ought to follow the laws of logic" is not a law of logic; it is a law about logic. Just as your claim that my argument is ridiculous is a judgment that assumes one ought not to have ridiculous arguments. Logic may tell you that an argument is ridiculous; but morality tells you that it is not good to have ridiculous arguments. The former is a claim of logic; the latter is a claim about logic.

Mathematics is helpful in determining the length of the sword I am making for the purpose of stabbing you; but morality tells me that I ought not to stab you. The reason why stabbing you is wrong is not a failure of my mathematical powers; it's a failure of my moral powers. The sword, if it kills you, was not too long because it pierced your heart; it was just right for that purpose, but it was wrong that that purpose was fulfilled.

To say that humans, everywhere and in every place and time, ought to be rational, is a claim about the proper use of a particular human power. That is a moral ought about a rational power.

Case closed, again. Double jeopardy. There is a universal moral law.

James Elliott said...

What?

Could your language be more convoluted?

Tlaloc said...

""One ought to follow the laws of logic" is not a law of logic; it is a law about logic."

No it is a consequence of saying you intend to construct a proof.



"Just as your claim that my argument is ridiculous is a judgment that assumes one ought not to have ridiculous arguments."

Indeed if you personally feel that it's okay for you to spout off specious arguments no matter how transparently false they are then you should of course continue. I however can feel free to point out how devoid they are of rational basis and anyone who happens to feel (as I do) that that somewhat negates your point can easily draw their own conclusion.



"Logic may tell you that an argument is ridiculous; but morality tells you that it is not good to have ridiculous arguments. The former is a claim of logic; the latter is a claim about logic."

Yes indeed, you seem to be getting better at this, now tell me this when a person has explicitly claimed to be embarking on a logical odyssey is it then reasonable to hold them to the rules of logic? Of course it is, they have claimed to adhere to them by the very act of claiming to construct a proof. If they then choose to deviate from logic disasterously it's quite appropriate to point that out, since they sort of, you know, claimed they wouldn't.



"To say that humans, everywhere and in every place and time, ought to be rational, is a claim about the proper use of a particular human power. That is a moral ought about a rational power."

True and I wouldn't make that claim. I would claim though that when a person says they will be rational and they aren't I feel perfectly justified in mocking them appropriately.



"Case closed, again. Double jeopardy. There is a universal moral law."

You are definitely doing better but you still are missing wide areas of the argument and assuming that you can fill these blanks in willy nilly as you like.

S. T. Karnick said...

"A person can have their own sense of right and wrong without some mythical universal morality on which to base it. They base it on their own experiences and thoughts. Naturally it will be heavily culturally influenced but it will still vary from person to person." etc.

You're still not getting it. You're giving us a universal "ought" that denies that there is any such thing as a universal "ought." Your counterarguments do nothing to change the self-contradictory nature of your central proposition.

Tlaloc said...

"You're still not getting it. You're giving us a universal "ought" that denies that there is any such thing as a universal "ought.""

What universal "ought" is that? That people should follow their moral codes? But thats not a universal law, rather it's a personal law because each person intrinsically believes they should follow their moral code because otherwise it wouldn't be a moral code.

I believe stealing is wrong. And by "wrong" I mean "something I shouldn't do." Notice I don't say "I think stealing is against my morals, and everyone should follow their morals." Thats not the way we conceptualize our personal values. There is no inconsistency.

James Elliott said...

I don't see how either side of this debate can avoid slipping in to solipsism.

Going from "there is a universal moral truth" to "therefore there is a divine creator" requires a leap of logic made on an a priori belief in a deity.

To put it another way: Not jumping off really tall bridges without a bungee cord or a parachute is a really bad idea. Therefore, people across cultures don't jump off the bridges. This is universal. Is it therefore then a proof of God? Only if you decide that the decision not to jump is based on some sort of judgment or value of life that is divinely inspired. It requires a subjective value judgment at some point.

James Elliott said...

To put it another way, aren't some ideas just such good ideas that all human beings go, "Hey! That's a good idea!"

Tlaloc said...

"I don't see how either side of this debate can avoid slipping in to solipsism."

And what solipsism do you suspect I am headed for?

Hunter Baker said...

Don't you just see the oughts bleeding from every orifice? You can't get away from it. You live in ought-world no matter how stringently you try to deny it.

Beckwith is crystal clear here, nothing convoluted about it.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

I think we are nearing the end of our Socratic journey. Talcim Powder writes:

"Yes indeed, you seem to be getting better at this, now tell me this when a person has explicitly claimed to be embarking on a logical odyssey is it then reasonable to hold them to the rules of logic?"

But here's the problem. What if someone says that he does not want to take part in the logical odyssey? Is he wrong in doing so? Suppose someone says," I would rather not discover if the elixir I am drinking is poison by means of chemistry. I prefer flipping a coin." And suppose you say, "But that's irrational." And he says, "But I've chosen not to embark on that rational odyssey." The flaw here is that he should have embarked on the odyssey to begin with. It is not that he reasoned wrongly, but that he chose not to reason at all. He did not make an error; he committed a vice. He did not live consistently with his proper function. His "choosing" to embark or not has no bearing on his obligation to do good to himself. The wrong of slavery, to cite but one example, is not found in the slave's absence of consent; but rather, that the slave is by nature not property, whether he believes or not. If the slave consents to slavery, he treats himself badly. It does not matter how he gets his master; it's how his self is treated.

Why would anyone not want this to be true?

James Elliott said...

What the fuck is an ought? Stop making up words.

Ought is an auxiliary verb or a variant noun meaning "nothing."

Tlaloc said...

"Don't you just see the oughts bleeding from every orifice? You can't get away from it. You live in ought-world no matter how stringently you try to deny it."

Then perhaps you could be so good as to explicitly state all these "oughts" I'm overlooking.



"Beckwith is crystal clear here, nothing convoluted about it."

Clear? Yes. Correct? No. He's, frankly, severely wrong in regards to just about everything he wrote.

James Elliott said...

Beckwith, didn't you just flatly admit that your argument is entirely subjective?

Tlaloc said...

"I think we are nearing the end of our Socratic journey. Talcim Powder writes:"

I've always taken people resorting to mocking names as a sign they are desperate.



"But here's the problem. What if someone says that he does not want to take part in the logical odyssey? Is he wrong in doing so?"

No not at all.


"The flaw here is that he should have embarked on the odyssey to begin with. It is not that he reasoned wrongly, but that he chose not to reason at all."

Are you going to insist on making the same arguments even though I've already shown them to be false? A person is perfectly free to choose not to be rational (as you so ably point out) but if they choose to do so after stating their intent to be rational they should expect to be laughed at and not taken seriously. Is that in any way unclear? No matter how hard you try to force it to be a moral justification it's just not. It's simply a consequence of doing one thing after saying the opposite that people tend to assume they can't trust you.



"Why would anyone not want this to be true?"

Want has nothing to do with it, it simply is not true. That you want it to be is evident but also immaterial. Slavery is wrong for the same reason anything else is wrong because the person engaging in it believes it is wrong.

I'm sorry if that's a scary thing for you to deal with but there it is.

Tlaloc said...

"Ought is an auxiliary verb or a variant noun meaning "nothing." "

They mean it in the sense of "ought to." Something you "should" do with the emphasis being that should of course relies on a moral judgement.

Hunter Baker said...

What Beckwith is pointing out is what neither of you choose to deal with. If anyone is scared of something, it is either of you recognizing that you live your entire lives in accordance with the oughts and that they simply are not purely self or socially generated.

Example: Why do you argue on this website? Answer: Because you think it is important that the correct viewpoint or truth prevail. Why should that matter at all? Because there is an objective moral law exalting truth over falsehood.

Tlaloc said...

"Example: Why do you argue on this website?"

Entertainment, practice, and pragmatism. I certainly enjoy a good debate. I also find that debate skills get rusty if not employed regularly. Lastly I hope that through better education and understanding the people of the world can grow and develop. Personally I do belief personal growth to be a good thing. I do not however suggest it is a universal law. There in fact significant arguments I can think of to be made against it.

You are imagining contradictions that do not exist, Hunter.

Tlaloc said...

whoops, should be "believe" not "belief" and "there are in fact..."

James Elliott said...

And you, Hunter, refuse to acknowledge that believing that these "oughts" are generated from something other is just as irrational a statement. You are, in point of fact, doing what you accuse the others of: Not acknowledging the other's argument.

As Tlaloc pointed out, whenever someone gets close to pointing out the final leap of irrationality in your logic, y'all just get glib and resort to namecalling and "this is what it is" arguments. It's circular logic predicated on the acceptance of a divine origin for morality before the discussion even begins.

Hunter Baker said...

When's the last time I called either you or Tlaloc some sort of name? I can't recall it. I remember referring to certain statements as wrong-headed, but no ad hominems from me that I can think of.

I think my inference from the situation is superior because we have this mysterious agreement about so many things. Because chaos is far more likely than order (any statistician could tell you that), I suppose that our orderly agreement comes from some intentional source. Not a leap as far as I see it. More a statement of probability.

Tlaloc said...

"I think my inference from the situation is superior because we have this mysterious agreement about so many things."

But we don't, I've tried to point this out to you several times. You can say "all societies have said murder is wrong." And you'd be right except that all those societies define murder differently. You can't all that something we have in common just because we use the same term but with different meaning.



"Because chaos is far more likely than order (any statistician could tell you that),"

Not if you have something actively expending energy (and increasing disorder elsewhere) in order to create localized order. That's how all ecologies and living things work.



"I suppose that our orderly agreement comes from some intentional source."

You'd have to go a long ways toward establishing such an agreement exists then when i can easily point out how it doesn't.

James Elliott said...

Hunter, your assertion, however glib, rests upon probability, not causality. You haven't even demonstrated correlation. Hence, you are making that final leap of illogic that denotes faith. This doesn't necessarily mean right or wrong, it means that your assertion is no more likely to be right than any other.

With the possible exception of being made out of poo by Borneo Monkey Devils.

Hunter Baker said...

Guess we'll have to leave it there, gents. The he said/she said element is peeking through. I'll leave it with the claim that both of you are ignoring reality when it comes to the amount of structured morality there is that virtually everyone in the world agrees on whether they live it or not.

Tlaloc said...

"I'll leave it with the claim that both of you are ignoring reality when it comes to the amount of structured morality there is that virtually everyone in the world agrees on whether they live it or not."

A claim you repeatedly make but never back up.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Tlaloc seems to be saying that Hunter's apparent ignoring of reality is, let's say, wrong. Wow. Ignorance, apparently, is wrong. But what if Hunter, like Tlaloc's solipsistic rationalist were to say, "Ah, but I like being ignorant. I choose it." If I follow Tlaloc correctly, then Hunter would no longer be criticizable, since he has "chosen" to be ignorant of reality. But it gets worse. What if Hunter refused to accept the proposition that "choosing to accept a standard of rationality is the only way to hold someone to a standard of rationality" (which is what, bizarrely, Tlaloc, is in fact claiming)? Where does T-man go from here? Well, if he says that Hunter is wrong in rejecting his standard, then there is at least one universal norm. But if he says that Hunter is right, then his basis for criticising Hunter is defeated.

Also, the other guy--I think his name is Elliot--offers this lovely claim: "What the fuck is an ought? Stop making up words. Ought is an auxiliary verb or a variant noun meaning `nothing.'" That is nice to know, since now he can't claim I ought to take his advice.

Self-refutation is just no fun.

Tom Van Dyke said...

"I'll leave it with the claim that both of you are ignoring reality when it comes to the amount of structured morality there is that virtually everyone in the world agrees on whether they live it or not."
"A claim you repeatedly make but never back up."

What you seek, if you do seek it, you can find here. If you follow the links, the whole book is there. It very short and maybe even sweet, and it was written for you.

The author asks: what it is that makes a man a man? To know beauty, and glory; to know courage, that it is not in opposing imperfection, but standing up for right; to learn what right is, to love wisdom and truth. To understand all those things which you don't seem to feel and pretend perhaps for the sake of argument don't exist. To know thyself by discovering first the essence of what you are.

He also sees clearly how we can use our reason and the limited days of our lives to negate rather than affirm those few things we can come to know to be true. And in that negation, we abolish our very humanity.

We lose the plot.

For those of us who struggle with all these things every day, T, watching another person demolish his own existence, bleed it of all meaning and feeling, isn't the least bit entertaining, it's extremely painful.

(The book I link for you was the most influential in my own life [save one]. For what it's worth.)

Hunter Baker said...

The Abolition of Man is indeed brutal to the basic claims T and E are making.

T, as far as backing up my claim, the point I'm making is self-evident. I'd have to make a carbon copy of the world and footnote it.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Nice point, Hunter. Self-evident truths are first principles, and thus are not the result of inferences, but are the stuff that make inferences possible. For example, when asked by a student of mine why the truth is important, I answered, "Do you want the true answer one or the false one?" The answer to her question was self-evident. I couldn't prove it to her because she knew it already, but was trying to suppress it.

Tom Van Dyke said...

It is inopportune to respond so quickly, HB and Mr. Beckwith, as there is much nourishment still proferred on the table that is of yet untouched.

I believe you have made your points efficiently, logically and elegantly about man's call to a truth beyond himself. But as high as my regard is for the contributors hereabouts, it was my esteem for the patron saints (and devil's advocate, Mr Shaw) in the masthead that kept me hanging around.

To quote one of them:

"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it."

It's my current project to internalize this great lesson myself. Arguing is easy. Empathy, kindness and patience are in order, even if apparently unrequited. We have each been on the receiving end ourselves, I think.

As we say on the internet, ;-)

Hunter Baker said...

Ah yes, "the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc seems to be saying that Hunter's apparent ignoring of reality is, let's say, wrong. Wow. Ignorance, apparently, is wrong. But what if Hunter, like Tlaloc's solipsistic rationalist were to say, "Ah, but I like being ignorant. I choose it." If I follow Tlaloc correctly, then Hunter would no longer be criticizable, since he has "chosen" to be ignorant of reality."

Not surprisingly you don't follow me correctly. Of course Hunter would still be criticizable because his behavior in such a case is still wrong, to me. Since I'm the one making the criticism I make it based on my moral code. Hunter of course is free to ignore my criticism as based upon a morality he doesn't share. He is not universally wrong.

Since you clearly are not getting the concept why don't you ask me your questions instead of putting up one incorrect hypothetical after another? You'd learn more and be embarressed less.

Tlaloc said...

"For those of us who struggle with all these things every day, T, watching another person demolish his own existence, bleed it of all meaning and feeling, isn't the least bit entertaining, it's extremely painful."

TVD, your link is hardly convincing. It fails for the same reason that Hunter's contention fails. It doesn't account for the wide differences of what people mean by words like "murder." This term is not even close to the same the world over. It has a variety of meanings and so the contention that since all men abhor murder they have a commonality of morals is false.

put it like this: list any moral you think is universal and I'll give you a counter example of a culture that didn't believe it. Rape? Incest? Human Sacrifice? These have long and established histories in various cultures. Our culture abhores them, others have not.

Tlaloc said...

"The Abolition of Man is indeed brutal to the basic claims T and E are making."

No not really, as above it makes the same mistake you do, or it makes the mistake and you ape it.


"T, as far as backing up my claim, the point I'm making is self-evident."

Oh gee, it's self evident? Well why didn't you say so that changes everything. Wait but my opoint is self evident too! In fact everything I've ever said is self evident so now I no longer have to actually argue them, I'm just instantly right.

Come on Hunter that's the coward's way out. You claim something that is clearly contested is uncontestable. The contradiction should be clear.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Tlaloc, you're not serious are you? You've corrected me, thus implying that ignorance is not just wrong to you, but wrong to me, and by implication universally wrong.

By the way, "embrassment" is an emotional reaction to shame. Are you suggesting that doing things to embarrass oneself is wrong? Perhaps what you should have said is, "Beckwith has embarrassed himself, to me."

So, at the end of the day, Hunter did not fail to live up to standard of intellectual virtue universally applicable to all persons. Rather, he failed to live up, to you. Why is that interesting and why should we care? If you answer this, be careful not to appeal to any universal standards.

The "cowards way out"? Cowardice is now another universal wrong, since Tlaloc did not attach the requisite "to me."

The self-evidence lies in the fact that you are expecting from Hunter and me "reasons" for our positon and that you are entitled to those reasons. The expectation itself is not the result of reasoning, but rather, a self-evident truth about your dignity and moral worth. You expect us to treat you in a way that is becoming of who you are by nature. Not an unjustified expectation to be sure, but one that lies at the foundation of a discussion that attempts to undermine it. How ironic, indeed

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc, you're not serious are you? You've corrected me, thus implying that ignorance is not just wrong to you, but wrong to me, and by implication universally wrong."

I corrected you, yes, which only shows that I had some motivation for correcting you. It says NOTHING at all about being incorrect being universally wrong, no matter how much you really wish it did.



"By the way, "embrassment" is an emotional reaction to shame. Are you suggesting that doing things to embarrass oneself is wrong? Perhaps what you should have said is, "Beckwith has embarrassed himself, to me.""

Wrong? No but it is unpleasant to most people like pain and hence most people try to avoid it. Should you be the embaressment equivilent of a masochist then have fun. Keep making incredibly dense statements and I'll keep refuting them (see above for an example).



"So, at the end of the day, Hunter did not fail to live up to standard of intellectual virtue universally applicable to all persons. Rather, he failed to live up, to you. Why is that interesting and why should we care? If you answer this, be careful not to appeal to any universal standards."

Hunter failed to defend his statements. Perhaps he has no problem with that but I suspect he does because otherwise he never would have felt compelled to post this piece in the first place. You are being ridiculously obtuse by assuming that because there is not universal morality that somehow all common experience and communication between people is automatically impossible. I have no idea why you jump to such conclusions but frankly it's getting tiresome having to lead you seeing-dog like around the obstacles of your own ignorance.

Again if you would like to understand then stop pretending you already do because it is abundantly clear you don't.



"The "cowards way out"? Cowardice is now another universal wrong, since Tlaloc did not attach the requisite "to me.""

Again you are simply wrong. What cowardice is is a trait I suspect that Hunter doesn't care for. I might of course be wrong, but I made the argument not because it's universal but because I strongly suspect it's part of his personal code.
Do we now have to get into elementary debate tactics? Using your opponent's beliefs is fundamentally more effective than using your own because the object is to convince the opponent, not yourself.



"The self-evidence lies in the fact that you are expecting from Hunter and me "reasons" for our positon and that you are entitled to those reasons. The expectation itself is not the result of reasoning, but rather, a self-evident truth about your dignity and moral worth."

No, and I've already explained why: Hunter chose to embark upon a logical proof, that requires reasosn. It has nothing to do with my moral code and Hunter's choice of communication modes. Should hunter not want to construct a logical proof that's fine but so long as he claims to want to it's to be expected that peope will point out when he fails.



"You expect us to treat you in a way that is becoming of who you are by nature. Not an unjustified expectation to be sure, but one that lies at the foundation of a discussion that attempts to undermine it. How ironic, indeed"

I'm afraid the only irony throughout this thread is how self assured you seem to be despite how you've gotten almost everything wrong. Again I can teach you if you are willing to open your ears but I'm tired of simply pointing out how incompetent you are at the topic currently.

Do you want to learn, honestly, or are you blissfully happy with your inability to grasp these matters?

Ed Darrell said...

Of course there is objective, moral law. And as Darwin pointed out, it can be said to arise from evolutionary development of social species such as ours . . .

That is what you guys meant, right?

Hunter Baker said...

Yes, Ed, I'll make a note.

Tlaloc, this is again one of those issues where you simply refuse to acknowledge reality, which is odd for a member of the "reality-based community."

You talk about the coward's way out and that I wouldn't want to take it because of my personal code. Where would I have come up with the idea that cowardice is a bad thing? Who invented it?

And murder? Is murder not at a minimum referring to the killing of an innocent person. Even societies embracing human sacrifice would be following holy writ or revelation against the dictates of conscience. Or do you think such a society took it in stride when one member struck down another in the street for no reason other than personal gain or anger?

We could find examples of a high social class individual being able to kill a lower class person with near impunity, but we would also find an accompanying justification such as that the lower class individual was not really a person. Aha, Roe v. Wade comes up again!!!

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc, this is again one of those issues where you simply refuse to acknowledge reality, which is odd for a member of the "reality-based community." "

Dude, you are the one making claims that you refuse to back up and then call them self evident despite the fact that I can show how they are faulty.



"You talk about the coward's way out and that I wouldn't want to take it because of my personal code. Where would I have come up with the idea that cowardice is a bad thing? Who invented it?"

Your personal moral code comes from a variety of sources. Much of it is acculturation. Some of it is individual perspective and weighting of things. Some of it is experience. You might as well ask where your personality comes from: it comes from a huge spectrum of internal and external influences that mix together to produce something that, while possibly quite similar to your neighbor, is nonetheless unique.



"And murder? Is murder not at a minimum referring to the killing of an innocent person. Even societies embracing human sacrifice would be following holy writ or revelation against the dictates of conscience. Or do you think such a society took it in stride when one member struck down another in the street for no reason other than personal gain or anger?"

But all you've done now is transfer the uncertainty to the word "innocent." Not all societies will agree as to whom is innocent. To take the ritual sacrifice example, our society most assuredly would call it murder. The Aztecs for example would not. You consider abortion murder (unless I'm mistaken) I assure you I do not. Our society more or less condones capital punishment, many others consider it murder. Three example three discrepencies that show that "murder" does not mean the same thing between cultures or even individuals within a culture.



"We could find examples of a high social class individual being able to kill a lower class person with near impunity, but we would also find an accompanying justification such as that the lower class individual was not really a person. Aha, Roe v. Wade comes up again!!!"

Indeed so not only do various people fundamentally differ on what is "murder" who is "innocent" they don't even agree on what it is to be "human." And yet you look at this morass and blithely state there is a self evident universal morality?

Francis J. Beckwith said...

I don't care for almond roca and would not consider it an insult if you pointed that out. However, sometimes I do care for being cowardly, but I still know it's wrong. So, my caring or not caring, liking or disliking, cowardice, cannot account for my knowledge that it is wrong.

Tlaloc said...

"I don't care for almond roca and would not consider it an insult if you pointed that out. However, sometimes I do care for being cowardly, but I still know it's wrong. So, my caring or not caring, liking or disliking, cowardice, cannot account for my knowledge that it is wrong."

Almond roca is hardly an attribute being applied to you personally, it is simply a sundry that may or may not suit your taste. Furthermore one may of course have degrees of dislike. I simply don't care for tapioca but I really hate the batman movies. Like a lot. However beyond even my hatred of the batman movies is my indignant rage at abuses committed with my tax dollars.