YouTuber CosmicSkeptic - Objective Morality

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Frank Quasar
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YouTuber CosmicSkeptic - Objective Morality

Post by Frank Quasar » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:32 pm

I wanted to get some thoughts on some of CosmicSkeptic's recent videos about how morality cannot be objective, rather, it is subjective. He attempts to debunk some standard people on this, the video below is a recent one [part 2].

I believe Lay Vegan is considering a response video to clear up some straw mans that CosmicSkeptic has apparently committed.

Do you guys think Cosmic is right on the issue? Or has he committed some straw mans about the positions he's criticizing against?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUtXmT_sIxI

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Post by Red » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:56 pm

I'm not too sure with Harris' view on morality, but the majority of us here believe that morality is objective, as defined by the Golden Rule:
'do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'

Of course, it's much more complex than this, since you have to take into account the moral systems, such as consequentialism and utilitarianism, which helps outline what would do the most good.

I actually asked myself a question like this about a year ago. I asked, if morality is objective and defined by the golden rule, what about cases where the opposite is true? For instance, let's consider how ISIS murders innocent people, but they believe that it's because their religion tells that that's what's good. Surely, if members of ISIS were instead the people Allah is against, then they'd understand why'd they (ISIS) want to kill them, right (if that makes any sense)?

I asked myself this, then I realized that it's not as cut and dried as it may seem; You have to take into account consequentialism, and utilitarianism. It's what does the most good, and benefits the most people. Basically, find and utilize which moral systems best fall under the Golden Rule's definition.

Of course, if morality is merely subjective, then it'd be worthless. If I think killing people is moral, who has any authority to say otherwise? Unless you do some hardcore debating, you can't just tell someone that their moral definition is inferior to yours.

Now this CosmicSkeptic guy seems to be much more intelligent than most other people I've seen who don't believe in objective morality. I've seen arguments that basically were "If I believe X, and you believe Y, that proves morality is subjective!" which is ironic, since the people who make this argument are usually atheists who ridicule creationists for doubting scientific fact.

And just one more thing to add, I've been told that since morality is defined by humans, then it can't be real, which isn't necessarily true. Many things that we use, such as mathematics, music, and possibly even the economy and governments, don't exist in nature, but that doesn't make it any less objective. Math doesn't exist in nature, as it has been created by humans, but it is used to understand nature.

Now these are just my musings from what I think and what I know. Anyone agree/disagree?
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Post by Lay Vegan » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:31 pm

Frank Quasar wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:32 pm
I wanted to get some thoughts on some of CosmicSkeptic's recent videos about how morality cannot be objective, rather, it is subjective. He attempts to debunk some standard people on this, the video below is a recent one [part 2].

I believe Lay Vegan is considering a response video to clear up some straw mans that CosmicSkeptic has apparently committed.
Yes, how did you find that out? I’d like to make a response but I need to find some time to script. Unfortunately, this discussion necessarily involves semantics, conflicting definitions, and general confusion so I’m not sure if I even have the energy to make such a lengthy video.


He’s claimed in past videos and livestreams that objective morality is the belief that moral properties exist independently of the natural world, which is true of some forms, but in other forms it’s proposing that there are aspects about the universe that makes certain moral claims true or false and that these truths are universal. I’m not certain if he still believes the former about objective morality. I think his straw-manning is particularly egregious because it plays right into the hands of religious apologists, who claim that atheists “invent” rules based on personal subjective whims. And if morality can be reduced to something as subjective as your favorite color, then this makes moral discourse (and most of the entire study of Philosophy) futile. This is one of the reasons I abandoned subjectivism (brimstoneSalad also somewhat convinced me).

He's talked about it toward the end of this livestream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pto4nAckdE

I also think he has and continues to straw-man objectivists like Dillahunty and Harris, who likely view morality as a system of ethical behavior concerned with the well-being of conscious beings. If this is the case, then there are indeed objective ways to positively or negatively impact individuals, and there are scientific/objective truths to be known about morality.

In his 2 most recent vids, he’s asserting that morality is predicated on that which we perceive to be "good" and “bad” but because either of those definitions is subject to the situation, individual person, culture etc. there can be no decision by which we can objectively say a moral act is good or bad. Which is true given his rather dubious view of morality. But for atheists like DIllahunty and Harris, since well-being is the basis of morality, and can be objectively analyzed and defined, certain actions that inhibit or encourage wellbeing can be objectively defined as “good” and “bad.”

CosmicSkeptic wrote:Sure you know for a fact that it’s painful to touch stove. It’s also an objective fact that you subjectively consider that pain to be bad. And it’s also a subjective fact that you feel you ought to avoid that which is bad. Since it’s objectively true that we all experience pain as bad, if I can show that doing X brings about pain, I’ve proven that X is objectively bad. But just because we subjectively agree that pain is bad, it doesn’t make it an objective truth that pain is bad. It just makes it a *universal* subjective truth that we all happen to agree with.
Again, if I define “bad” as “that which inhibits wellbeing,” then go and hold my friend’s hand over working stove, which burns his skin and causes agony, then it can be objectively concluded that action is morally bad. Sure, we may disagree about definitions of morality, but this isn’t evidence that universal moral truths do not exist beyond opinions as subjective as ice cream preferences.
Red wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:56 pm
I've seen arguments that basically were "If I believe X, and you believe Y, that proves morality is subjective!" which is ironic, since the people who make this argument are usually atheists who ridicule creationists for doubting scientific fact.
I think this the biggest rebuttal for moral objectivism. And I agree with you. People dispute scientific facts all the time on this very forum, but I don’t think this is sufficient to prove that scientific truths (or moral truths) do not exist. Just perhaps that some people are wrong in their understanding of them.

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Post by Frank Quasar » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:55 am

@Lay Vegan
Yes, how did you find that out? I’d like to make a response but I need to find some time to script. Unfortunately, this discussion necessarily involves semantics, conflicting definitions, and general confusion so I’m not sure if I even have the energy to make such a lengthy video.
I was talking to a discord user about this in the DMs and he briefly mentioned that you are planning to do a response of some sort.

His last few comments on his position in regards to logical consistency was interesting, especially how he would oppose a Nazi if both of them shared a similar axiom or something.

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Post by Frank Quasar » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:50 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eHIl8g ... ukhQwSqu-6

^ Skip to 15:00 for Rationality Rules's opinion on CosmicSkeptic's recent video so far.

Also, 23:15 he talks about veganism and mentions NTT. @brimstoneSalad you might be interested in this.

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Post by Lay Vegan » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:00 am

Frank Quasar wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:55 am
His last few comments on his position in regards to logical consistency was interesting, especially how he would oppose a Nazi if both of them shared a similar axiom or something.
His views there sound similar to AskYourself’s view. You could probably convince a Nazi that the holocaust was “subjectively bad” by using the Socratic method to draw out any underlying presumptions about morality, then demonstrate how their propositions lead to absurd moral systems they otherwise wouldn’t accept. For example, if I think that genetic differences justifies the moral exclusion of Jews, then it would logically follow that all non-Germans could morally exclude *me* due to genetic differences (unless I can point to an ethically justifiable characteristic that justifies this difference in standard). However, this relies heavily on their agreement that double standards & contradictory moral propositions are “subjectively” bad. This also relies on the belief that moral rules can be applied to differently according to the situational context. Deontologists, for example, assert that moral laws can never be violated, regardless of the situation. If a Nazi doesn’t think that double standards are problematic, even if it involves their exclusion, how would a subjectivist demonstrate why their position is still objectively harmful? What if I accept might makes right as a valid ethical justification?

You could attempt to dismiss their position as “evil” but that too would be completely subjective and therefore meaningless.

NTT suffers from the same problem: pointing out why moral systems that accepts double standards/contradictions are objectively invalid and harmful. Of course this realization relies on the listener’s disagreement with the nakedly speciesist answer; that you can’t just deny animals significant moral status *because* they’re not human, but it doesn’t explain *why* the nakedly speciesist answer is bad.

This is why arguments like NTT don’t work even with Randian objectivists like Destiny, who think that morality is derived from social contract theory, and doesn’t care about any objectively harmful conclusions that arise from such a moral system (acceptance of rape, child slavery, child abuse, etc).

I just don’t think subjective morality hold up to any scrutiny. If morality IS subjective, then perhaps existential nihilism is the most rational position.

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Post by Frank Quasar » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:16 pm

Agreed. Ask Yourself really does not have much else that he can do once a person remains consistent on a position other than to call it "absurd", refer to the fact that many people would reject it and to laugh.

NTT proponents try to get around this by saying that we're necessarily creating a framework that society ought to adopt etc.

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Post by Frank Quasar » Mon Jul 23, 2018 8:10 am

Alex Malpass (has a PhD and teaches philosophy) made a blog post where he talked about CosmicSkeptic's video, I think you guys might find this to be interesting and worthwhile to read:

https://useofreason.wordpress.com/

Steve McRae and his cohorts livestreamed a chat in regards to his video also, which I think was interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4grzNsJD10

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Post by esquizofrenico » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:45 am

Without wanting in ant way to defend Ask Yourself (I think I would should myself if I had to spend five minutes in the same room as him), I want to say that NTT was introduced targeting a very specific group (that of the so called "skeptics"), that supposedly share a couple of values that are so internalized by Ask Yourself that make him think that if you do not share them you are contradicting yourself.

This is the community of "Facts don't care about your feelings", "Modern West values are OBJECTIVELY the best moral system on earth", "Feminists are hypocrites because they criticize Christianity but don't say a word about Islam", etc. Yet all these people the minute you mention them meat start with: "Well, normal people don't think about industrial farming when eating a hamburger", (what about "facts don't care about your feelings?"), "Yeah, but morality is subjective", (I thought you said "Modern West values are objectively the best"...), "I just don't care about logical consistency", (but you just got mad at feminists for not being logically consistent...).

However, the understandable reflection time of Ask Yourself is way past gone. I made the mistake of watching two minutes of one of his latest videos and the moment he explained he has a graffiti in his room with the word "Asphodel" to remind him to never be mediocre I lost all hope of him ever recovering. And I thought it was bad hearing my Gothic teenager friends talking about how all life is misery and how much the reckon themselves in last Tim Burton's movie main character... Please, I want that back.

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Post by Frank Quasar » Sat Jul 28, 2018 5:16 am

I personally love watching him debate these skeptic idiots on YouTube. They're a bunch of hypocrites that stand on such a pedestal of delusion, plus Ask Yourself is one of the prominent vegan YouTubers who will actively go out of his way to challenge virtually all of them on the topic and to debate. Granted now this isn't much of a thing anymore, but it was good back in those days.

He released a recent video "debunking realism", and he actually made remarks/talked about minimal moral realism with two of his other cohorts. I've never heard a couple of their points before in debate, but it should be interesting to hear what Philo has to say about this. I presume he may have come across these kinds of objections before.

But yeah, on the point of skeptics, I agree with you for sure.

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