Objective vs Subjective Morality

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Kaz1983
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Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Kaz1983 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:44 am

I've been reading that most vegan YouTubers believe it's subjective, now I thought that I was before from a utilitarian approach appear but no longer. It just interests me... why does it seem most vegan YouTubers believe it's subjective? ...what do you think?

Is it objective or subjective?

Kaz1983
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Post by Kaz1983 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:46 am

If this is in the wrong sub forum, just move it... :)

Sunflowers
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Post by Sunflowers » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:48 pm

I don't think most people use the word 'subjective' in any kind of consistent fashion. Indeed, often I think it operates expressively - they say 'morality is subjective' as a way of expressing their humility.

But I would understand the term 'subjective' to mean 'made of subjective states'. So, pain is subjective, because pain is made of a feeling and feelings are subjective states. If you feel in pain, then you are in pain.

And the philosopher George Berkeley believed that the external sensible world is made of the subjective states of a god - and as a result he is often referred to as a 'subjectivist' about the external world.

A 'subjectivist' about morality, then, is someone who believes that morality is made of subjective states.

There are three forms it can take:
A) individual subjectivism (morality is composed of our individual subjective states such that if I feel a certain way about an act, then that makes the act right for it constitutes its rightnesss);
B) inter-subjectivism (morality is composed of a collective's subjective states, such that if the relevant collective feels a certain way about an act, then that makes the act right for it constitutes its rightness);
C) divine command theory (morality is composed of a god's subjective states, such that if the god feels a certain way about an act, then that makes the act right for it constitutes its rightness).

When most people express the view that "morality is subjective" they normally mean to express a commitment to either individual or inter-subjectivism.

Both of those views are extremely silly and they only appeal to those who've reflected on the matter very little, or very badly. They normally reason like this: "morality is something I have feelings and beliefs about......feelings and beliefs are subjective......therefore morality is subjective" or like this: "different people have different beliefs and feelings about morality.....therefore morality is made of those feelings and beliefs.....therefore it is subjective" or like this: "my moral beliefs are caused by my feelings or by the feelings of my community, therefore my moral beliefs are about my feelings or the feelings of my community, therefore subjectivism or intersubjectivism is true". One or other of these stupid arguments - normally all three - convince most people that morality is subjective. And because most people won't give up the first view they alight on for love nor money, they remain subjectivists and think everyone who isn't a subjectivist is stupid, even though no expert on morality thinks it is subjective in those ways.

Dvine command theory, however, is demonstrably true and that's why I believe in it. And as it is a form of subjectivism, that's why I'm a subjectivist. The argument is simple and sound:

1. Moral commands require a commander
2. Moral commands have a single source
3. MOral commands have an external source
4. Therefore moral commands are the commands of a single, external commmander. A god, in other words.

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Post by Frank Quasar » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:40 am

I think subjectivism is one of the default positions for most people, especially YouTube skeptics. A main driving force for this belief, in my opinion, is due to some of the following reasons down below:

1) "Morality differs from individuals/cultures, and thus, this shows that people have different opinions on morality etc."
2) "There are no objective moral facts, so morality is subjective"
3) "People disagree about moral issues"
4) "Morality is a social construct"
5) "Morality changed overtime"

You'd probably think that I am making this up, but some people genuinely espouse some of these views as their driving reasons, it seems intuitive to them. I think these are poor objections, and subjectivism is an absurd position. There are good objections that have been raised against it to cast suspicion, but some subjectivists do not show any signs of flinching even in the face of extreme absurdity.

II'm trying to read some books on the topic in order to get a better picture of the competing forms of realism/nihilism, and the positions espoused/defended by various philosophers. The next read for me is probably going to be "Principa Ethica", it seems to be a staple book for most intuitionists (besides Michael Huemer's piece) who adhere to a non-natural form of realism.

Kaz1983
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Post by Kaz1983 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:09 am

Frank Quasar wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:40 am
Sam Harris' book The Moral Landscape is a great read. It's talking about how morality should be based on well-being and seen as objective, in the sense that it scientifically objective. He talks about how there has been a gulf between facts and values, which I'm sure pretty much everybody agrees with..

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Post by Kaz1983 » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:21 am

Frank Quasar wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:40 am
1) "Morality differs from individuals/cultures, and thus, this shows that people have different opinions on morality etc."
2) "There are no objective moral facts, so morality is subjective"
3) "People disagree about moral issues"
4) "Morality is a social construct"
5) "Morality changed overtime"
In my opinion morality is based on well-being.

Now, you're probably thinking that morality could never be built on science But yes, truely believe morality is built on well-being and that every animal wants to avoid pain and maximise collective well-being.

Just look at health for example, that's based on objective science and at the end of the day it's based on the well-being. See there are right/wrong answers, to what is healthy and what is not. Just like IMO there are right/wrong answers to what is moral and just like health it's based on scientific objectivity.

See health, like morality is not clearly defined and will continue to change overtime (which it has).. both health and morality are built on well-being.... the life expectancy in a 3rd world country today, compared to Japan's life expectancy for example - they both aren't equally healthy.... are they?

1) When it comes to health, all opinions are not treated equal.. when it comes to health - to get the right answers, many people's opinions are wrong. But when it comes to morality, there are not any right or wrong answers. All are treated equally, for different reasons.

2) That's right but if there is a difference between two people's moral framework, one is right and wrong.. they can never be equal, unless you truely believe there is no difference between a serial killers' moral code and a moral code of a person who donated thier kidney to stranger and last year gave $4 million charity. If we're honest, it's not completely subjective - is it?

3) People disagree on what is considered healthy or not and for example the life expectancy in a third world country is not as healthy as the life expectancy in Japan.

Am I right about saying that?

4) There are ways construct society that maximize well-being and there are ways to construct society that does not maximise well-being. There are better ways of going about doing something, than there are others.

5) What was moral 100 years ago, is not moral today and what was healthy 100 years ago - isn't healthly today. If health is maximizing well-being, why should we hold morality to much, much higher standards than health?

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sun Aug 04, 2019 1:53 pm

Sunflowers did pretty well until the divine command stuff.

An association with theism is a major reason why many skeptics reject objective morality, at least until some of the New Atheists like Sam Harris acted as a communicator of how we can plausibly view morality as objective without a god.

@Kaz1983 You summarized Sam's position well.

A lot of the reasoning was "God doesn't exist, thus it's all human opinion and subjective"
Sunflowers' divine command doesn't really help with any of that since the principle objection is tied to a rejection of a seemingly logically impossible or made-up being.

It doesn't work to define a god into existence unless the god only exists as a concept (in which case a definition proves a concept).
There are versions of divine command deontology where God doesn't need to actually exist but can just be an idea, but then why not just admit that morality (like health) is a very useful idea with a non-subjective meaning we can work to quantify and learn from and skip all of the God stuff so secular and religious folk can all come together around it?

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Post by Kaz1983 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:47 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 1:53 pm
@Kaz1983 You summarized Sam's position well.
Thanks.

Anyways I wanted to ask your opinion on virtue ethics, somebody I know who is into the philosophy around veganism - believes that it's suits (veganism) very well.

The big reason is he says that both consequentialist and deontological systems can both fall victim to the fact that they concentrate on what the best outcome is: they both ask - "what are the consequences to my actions? By asking "how do I maximise happiness, for the largest amount of people" (consequentialist) and "don't ever lie" "don't ever steal" etc etc (deontological system)

Compare that to virtue ethics.... it focuses more on the action (and in what manner) - not the consequences of doing the action itself..... but yeah, what do you think about virtue ethics and veganism?

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:37 am

Kaz1983 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:47 pm
Anyways I wanted to ask your opinion on virtue ethics, somebody I know who is into the philosophy around veganism - believes that it's suits (veganism) very well.
I don't think it's a thing. Virtue ethics is subsumed by consequentialism and deontology.
E.g. in consequentialist virtue ethics the reason these "virtues" are good is because they have good consequences... and then that's just consequentialism (a form of rule consequentialism). In the deontological form they are argued for from some deontological reasoning (as bad as it is).
There's not really much if any pure virtue ethics.
Kaz1983 wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:47 pm
The big reason is he says that both consequentialist and deontological systems can both fall victim to the fact that they concentrate on what the best outcome is: they both ask - "what are the consequences to my actions? By asking "how do I maximise happiness, for the largest amount of people" (consequentialist) and "don't ever lie" "don't ever steal" etc etc (deontological system)
Don't even lie even if the world will be destroyed if you don't lie has nothing to do with outcome. Deontology is all about the acts themselves and whether they fit rules.

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Post by Kaz1983 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:46 am

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:37 am
Don't even lie even if the world will be destroyed if you don't lie has nothing to do with outcome. Deontology is all about the acts themselves and whether they fit rules.
I get what you're saying but what I'm trying to say is, when it comes to deontology, it's about following the rules - same as consequentialism.

The consequences of not following the rules is acting in an immoral manner.

I should have explained it better - deontology has nothing to do with the outcome and consequentialism is all about the outcome. But both are heavily reliant on rules, that you must follow.

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