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standard of morality
Posted: 04 September 2007 01:39 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Now that I'm an atheist, I will have to find morality within the frame work of my own life, rather than a morality that has been given to me by God. My standard of morality will have to deal with everyday things. For example, waking up, taking a bath, spending time with my children, going to work, coming home and having some intimate time with my wife. I'm happy spending time with my child rather than praying to God or sleeping with my wife rather than praying to God; and this is what is good to me. My standard of morality comes from my ability to keep my conscience clear. To do that, I have to open my mind and that is why I do not believe. That is why I can't believe and that is why I will not let my children believe. Belief without reason is like living in this beautiful world without the power of vision, without any consciousness, what is the point?
My questions:

1)If there is no God and life is all there is, would we approach life in a different way? Where would our standard of morality come from?

2) How can people live in this world and follow the standard of morality of some other world?

3)Isn't it easier to give up on life rather than working hard to become someone? Why would a person work hard in this life if they knew for sure they were saved?

4)Last question is on "Live and let live" policy….why is it so important for religious people to convert non-religious people?

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Posted: 04 September 2007 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Bravo!  Your #3 is exactly why Christianity is the wierdest, most non-sensical theology there is.  It is free-pass city.  Nothing you can do is good enough for God.  All have fallen short and all that rot.  All you have to do is declare your belief in Jesus as God’s only son and there you have it.  Perfect for fucking off your whole life and then having a deathbed conversion!  Quite a racket!  Where do I sign up!

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Posted: 24 September 2007 01:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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The short answer is life is the standard of morality. What promotes life and its enjoyment is the good. And you need to use your own independant judgment to decide what IS good for you.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that selfishness is bad. Selfishness is just a love of life.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 24 September 2007 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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SaulDeOhio - 24 September 2007 05:32 PM

What promotes life and its enjoyment is the good. And you need to use your own independant judgment to decide what IS good for you.

We have a conflict here.

(1) The Good is what promotes life and its enjoyment.

(2) The Good is what you decide it is.

(1) and (2) are in conflict.  (1) sets an objective standard for the Good; namely whatever it is that promotes life and enjoyment.  (2) claims that the good is irreducibly subjective; the Good is whatever you decide it is (even, presumably, if you decide that death is good).

Since there are no objective constraints on what a person can decide is good, (2) is inherently subjective.  On the other hand, there are objective constraints on what promotes life, thus (1) is objective.

As an aside, a Randian will have a hard time justifying (1) because, as you have stated again and again here, Saul, nothing in nature has inherent value (not even, presumably, life itself).

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 24 September 2007 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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waltercat - 24 September 2007 07:17 PM
SaulDeOhio - 24 September 2007 05:32 PM

What promotes life and its enjoyment is the good. And you need to use your own independant judgment to decide what IS good for you.

We have a conflict here.

(1) The Good is what promotes life and its enjoyment.

(2) The Good is what you decide it is.

(1) and (2) are in conflict.  (1) sets an objective standard for the Good; namely whatever it is that promotes life and enjoyment.  (2) claims that the good is irreducibly subjective; the Good is whatever you decide it is (even, presumably, if you decide that death is good).

Since there are no objective constraints on what a person can decide is good, (2) is inherently subjective.  On the other hand, there are objective constraints on what promotes life, thus (1) is objective.

sigh…

Are you unable to interpret the second statement in the context of the first?

What I CLEARLY meant was that each person needs to decide for himself (or herself, do you hear me Talha777?) what will serve his own life and give him happiness.

2 is not inherently subjective, it is PARTICULAR to the specific person.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said “decide”, but “figure out”, because it is reason that is used to do so.

In general, people need food, clothing, and shelter. Specifically, you need to decide where to eat, what foods you like, do you have any special dietary needs, what looks good on you, what will protect you from today’s weather the best, what kind of home you want, how much of your income to spend on a house, or an appartment, wether or not to take out a loan, and how much, and so on.

Life as the standard is a general principle. Deciding for yourself is the implementation.

People need rewarding careers not only to earn a living, but for a sense of purpose and accomplishment. But what job you get is determined specifically by your abilities, temperament, and what you personally find rewarding.

As an aside, a Randian will have a hard time justifying (1) because, as you have stated again and again here, Saul, nothing in nature has inherent value (not even, presumably, life itself).

Sort of, in a way, but not really. I have said nothing has INTRINSIC value, but only value in relation to human life. This does leave open the question of why human life is of value.

There is no way to justify the value of life to make it a duty, that you HAVE to value life. Ayn Rand herself stated quite clearly that valueing life is a choice.

From The Objectivist Center’s FAQ: Has Objectivism Been Rufuted?

Robbins cites Rand’s belief that “the fact that living entities exist and function necessitates the existence of values and of an ultimate value, which for any given living entity is its own life.” But he then asserts, “Here is pure subjectivism, renamed Objectivism.” (148) Why? Because for Robbins, values must come in the form of commands, while (according to Objectivism) morality rests on free, human choice. It is this element of choice that Robbins regards as inherently subjective.

Robbins continues that line of argument as follows: The Objectivist morality is based on an individual’s life as his ultimate value and on his nature as his standard of value. But one’s life is a value only if one chooses to make it such. Robbins complains that, “Why one should choose to live is the unanswered and, on Rand’s ethical theory, the unanswerable question.” (148) This is correct. There is no reason provided within the Objectivist ethics for an individual to choose to live. Indeed, Rand claimed that “My morality, the morality of reason, rests on a single axiom: that existence exists, and a single choice: to live.” If her ethics rests on the choice to live, then it can hardly mandate that choice. Robbins’s claim, then, does not qualify as an argument. He is simply drawing a correct implication from Rand’s ethics and decrying that implication. He provides no reason for believing that the implication is false.

The value of life itself is a choice, but there are objective, i.e., real-world, empirical reasons to choose life. Every experience you have ever had that makes you feel that life is worth living, that its good to be alive is empirical evidence that the value of life is the right choice. Enjoying a good meal, success in a sport or hobby, good times with friends and family, a great session of lovemaking (YES! Sex!), or just looking at a nice sunset, are all reasons to go on living. Yes, it is “subjective”, in that it is a personal experience that maybe another person would not have in the same situation, but it is also objective in that it is experience of somehting that is part of reality: The sunset, your sex partner, even yourself. Especially yourself. You are part of reality, as are your emotions, physical sensations, memories and experiences. These are legitimate sources of information, appropriate for making such a personal decision as wether or not to go on living.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 24 September 2007 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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SaulDeOhio - 24 September 2007 08:24 PM
waltercat - 24 September 2007 07:17 PM
SaulDeOhio - 24 September 2007 05:32 PM

What promotes life and its enjoyment is the good. And you need to use your own independant judgment to decide what IS good for you.

We have a conflict here.

(1) The Good is what promotes life and its enjoyment.

(2) The Good is what you decide it is.

(1) and (2) are in conflict.  (1) sets an objective standard for the Good; namely whatever it is that promotes life and enjoyment.  (2) claims that the good is irreducibly subjective; the Good is whatever you decide it is (even, presumably, if you decide that death is good).

Since there are no objective constraints on what a person can decide is good, (2) is inherently subjective.  On the other hand, there are objective constraints on what promotes life, thus (1) is objective.

sigh…

Are you unable to interpret the second statement in the context of the first?

What I CLEARLY meant was that each person needs to decide for himself (or herself, do you hear me Talha777?) what will serve his own life and give him happiness.

2 is not inherently subjective, it is PARTICULAR to the specific person.

Sigh indeed.

To say that morality is subjective is just to say that the truth of a moral judgment depends on the attitudes and beliefs of each individual person.  In other words, what may be a valid moral principle for me may not be valid for you.  On the other hand, to say that a judgment is objective is to say that its truth is not relative to any particular person.  Thus you statement above, the effect that (2) is not subjective, is rather confusing.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 24 September 2007 05:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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waltercat - 24 September 2007 08:38 PM

Sigh indeed.

To say that morality is subjective is just to say that the truth of a moral judgment depends on the attitudes and beliefs of each individual person.  In other words, what may be a valid moral principle for me may not be valid for you.  On the other hand, to say that a judgment is objective is to say that its truth is not relative to any particular person.  Thus you statement above, the effect that (2) is not subjective, is rather confusing.

Thats a common misconception of the meaning of the word “objective”. The word literally means “of the object”, object meaning the thing that is being percieved, valued, talked about, or thought about. It is that which our words refer to, the things we value, what we see or think about. The word “subjective” means “of the subject”, the subject being the conscious being that does the thinking, the talking, the valueing. Wether something is relative to a specific person is not the essential, defining feature of what is objective or subjective. It is an expected consequence of something being objective, not not universal to it. The subject and the object can be, and sometimes are the same thing.

The problem with excluding things that are particular to specific people from the objective is that it makes it sound like such things aren’t rational, or aren’t part of reality. Wether or not a person has a cold is an objective fact, but it is specific to that person.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 25 September 2007 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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The Christian position is that humans need God to keep them in line. Without a divine authority figure, the doctrine says, humans will always follow impulses that lead them to harm themselves and others.

I see that doctrine as outrageously anti-human. What is a good way to refute it directly? Most of the morality discussions here have been about the notion of Divine Command.

SaulDeOhio - 24 September 2007 05:32 PM

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that selfishness is bad. Selfishness is just a love of life.

That doesn’t sound right. Selfishness is when one child grabs a toy from another child simply because he wants the toy. If the first child asks politely for a turn with the toy, that’s not selfishness. That’s because the child recognizes that his desire to enjoy the toy does not justify him causing harm to others to get the toy. We do not have a word in English that refers to that kind of moderated desire. We use “selfishness” to refer to a desire that disregards the effects of one’s actions to fulfill that desire.

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Posted: 25 September 2007 07:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Carstonio - 25 September 2007 10:44 AM
SaulDeOhio - 24 September 2007 05:32 PM

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that selfishness is bad. Selfishness is just a love of life.

That doesn’t sound right. Selfishness is when one child grabs a toy from another child simply because he wants the toy. If the first child asks politely for a turn with the toy, that’s not selfishness. That’s because the child recognizes that his desire to enjoy the toy does not justify him causing harm to others to get the toy. We do not have a word in English that refers to that kind of moderated desire. We use “selfishness” to refer to a desire that disregards the effects of one’s actions to fulfill that desire.

This is whats called a “package deal”. The kind of behavior you describe could be referred to as “thoughless”, “inconsiderate”, or “mean”. There is no reason to package such concepts with the idea of self-interest, which is what using the word “selfishness” accomplishes. A child that grabs another’s toy often isn’t really acting selfishly. In fact, he may simply be acting out of envy, a very selfLESS emotion. Another child is enjoying playing with the toy, so the child in question feels unhappy not to be the one enjoying the toy. The focus of the emotion is the other child. And of course, I am arguing for RATIONAL self-interest, which we really can’t expect of children.

Its that package-deal that we need to abolish, the automatic link some people make between self-interested behavior and disregard for the feelings, rights and needs of others.

Here’s a good article that explains better what I men:
Reflections on The Ethics of Selfishness by Nathaniel Branden.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 25 September 2007 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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SaulDeOhio - 24 September 2007 09:21 PM
waltercat - 24 September 2007 08:38 PM

Sigh indeed.

To say that morality is subjective is just to say that the truth of a moral judgment depends on the attitudes and beliefs of each individual person.  In other words, what may be a valid moral principle for me may not be valid for you.  On the other hand, to say that a judgment is objective is to say that its truth is not relative to any particular person.  Thus you statement above, the effect that (2) is not subjective, is rather confusing.

Thats a common misconception of the meaning of the word “objective”.

No.  It is the meaning of the word ‘objective.’

Let’s say we have two people:  Bob and Sally.  Here are some facts about Bob and Sally:

Bob:
-hates broccoli
-enjoys punching babies in the face

Sally:
-loves broccoli
-does not enjoy injuring babies

One interesting thing about Bob and Sally is that they are both subjects.  That is, they are conscious beings who have experiences. 

Here are some questions:

(a) Is broccoli good or bad? (does it taste good or does it taste bad?)
(b) Is punching babies right or wrong?

Here are some answers:

It is an objective fact about Bob that he thinks that broccoli does not taste good.
It is an objective fact about Sally that she thinks that broccoli tastes good.

However, it is neither an objective fact that broccoli tastes good nor that broccoli tastes bad.  Whether broccoli tastes good is entirely subjective; that is to say that it depends on the particular person (or subject, if you like).  Some people like it, others don’t; there is no objective fact of the matter.

It is an objective fact about Bob that he enjoys punching babies.
It is an objective fact about Sally that she does not enjoy punching babies.

However, here the fact that Bob and Sally disagree does not entail that there is no objective fact concerning the morality of punching babies.  It is not the case that whether punching babies is right is entirely subjective.  In fact, punching babies is objectively wrong.  This means that it is wrong for Sally and it is wrong for Bob.

Two statements:

(I) Broccoli tastes good.
(II)  Punching babies is wrong.

Statement (I) is subjective because its truth is relative to a particular subject.  Statement (II) is objective because its truth is NOT relative to any particular subject.  (I) is not true for everybody; (II) is true for everybody.

Nonetheless, it remains an objective fact about Bob that he believes that punching babies is morally acceptable.  It is an   objective fact that he thinks in this way, but that does not change the objective fact that he is wrong to think it.

I hope this clears up your confusion.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 25 September 2007 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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waltercat - 25 September 2007 12:33 PM

I hope this clears up your confusion.

No, it doesn’t since there is no such confusion. You just proved exactly what I said, that the subject and object can be the same thing.

The statement “Broccoli tastes good” is simply incomplete. “Sally likes brocolli” is more complete, in that it tells you who broccoli tastes good to. All value judgments imply some person that something is a value to. Value is a relationship. If you leave out one of the things involved in the relationship, then of course the statement will be incomplete, and it will seem subjective.

Moral principles are such statements of value, and thus do state a relationship between some person and some object. They are also statements about people. The fact that people know and state such principles means that the subject and object of moral principles tend to be the same.

Notice that wether or not a statement is general or specific to a person is irrelevant to wether or not it is objective. I could measure my own height, and such a measurement, if done correctly, will be objective. I could stanb on one of those doctor’s scales with the sliding ruler extended and that horizontal bar touching the top of my head, and read off the measurement. It doesn’t matter who reads it off, me or some other person, the result will be the same.

Most attempts at discussing morality rationally start with some observations of the human needs for food, clothing and shelter. These are objective facts abouyt human beings. They are also true of the subject, since human beings are the ones doing the discussing about morality and those needs.

Two statements:

(I) Broccoli tastes good.
(II) Punching babies is wrong.

Statement (I) is subjective because its truth is relative to a particular subject.  Statement (II) is objective because its truth is NOT relative to any particular subject.  (I) is not true for everybody; (II) is true for everybody.

Statement (I) is incomplete, as I said, as it leaves the implied question of who brocolli tastes good to unanswered. The very idea of “tastes good” necessarily brings up that question, and once that question is answered, it becomes an objective statement.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 25 September 2007 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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SaulDeOhio - 25 September 2007 11:40 AM

There is no reason to package such concepts with the idea of self-interest, which is what using the word “selfishness” accomplishes. A child that grabs another’s toy often isn’t really acting selfishly. In fact, he may simply be acting out of envy, a very selfLESS emotion. Another child is enjoying playing with the toy, so the child in question feels unhappy not to be the one enjoying the toy. The focus of the emotion is the other child.

My point is that the construction and etymology of the words “selfish” and “selfless” have little to do with how the words are used today. Rightly or wrongly, our culture uses “selfish” to mean satisfying one’s desires while willfully interfering with others’ desires, and “selfless” to mean satisfying others’ desires while willfully interfering with one’s own. I see a difference between focusing on the other person and focusing on that person’s desires. “Self-interest” is a less loaded term, and can include actions that are necessary to one’s survival.

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Posted: 25 September 2007 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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waltercat - 25 September 2007 12:33 PM

Nonetheless, it remains an objective fact about Bob that he believes that punching babies is morally acceptable.  It is an   objective fact that he thinks in this way, but that does not change the objective fact that he is wrong to think it.

What is an objective fact is that Bob will be shunned by other people for punching babies. It is an objective fact that many people who are slapped around as kids grow up to cause problems later in life. Objective morality largely consists in avoiding what people generally consider to be inconvenient.

It is possible that a race of humans who are routinely slapped around as children would be a ferocious band of violent thugs who would naturally limit the human population, thereby saving the rest of the living world from the scourge of human overpopulation.

There are such things, Walter, as unexamined biases in any analysis. In your case, it is species-centrism. Politics makes for strange bedfellows.

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Posted: 25 September 2007 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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SaulDeOhio - 25 September 2007 01:12 PM
waltercat - 25 September 2007 12:33 PM

I hope this clears up your confusion.

Two statements:

(I) Broccoli tastes good.
(II) Punching babies is wrong.

Statement (I) is subjective because its truth is relative to a particular subject.  Statement (II) is objective because its truth is NOT relative to any particular subject.  (I) is not true for everybody; (II) is true for everybody.

Statement (I) is incomplete, as I said, as it leaves the implied question of who brocolli tastes good to unanswered. The very idea of “tastes good” necessarily brings up that question, and once that question is answered, it becomes an objective statement.

You are not disagreeing with me about the meaning of the terms ‘objective’ and ‘subjective.’  You just think that you are. 

Here is the issue:

Are moral claims such that, just like claims about taste, they are only true for specific individuals.  You have shown that you think that they are.  I disagree.

Statement (I) is “incomplete” in that it is only true for specific individuals, not for everybody.  However, moral claims are not like this.

Statement (II) is not incomplete.  Broccoli does only taste good to some people.  But punching babies is wrong for everybody, regardless of our hopes, desires, wishes or fears.

To say that a claim is objective is just to say that it is true for everybody regardless of our desires, hopes wishes, etc. Taste doesn’t work that way.  We agree on that.  You think that morality is not objective, I think that it is.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 25 September 2007 10:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Carstonio - 25 September 2007 01:30 PM

My point is that the construction and etymology of the words “selfish” and “selfless” have little to do with how the words are used today. Rightly or wrongly, our culture uses “selfish” to mean satisfying one’s desires while willfully interfering with others’ desires, and “selfless” to mean satisfying others’ desires while willfully interfering with one’s own. I see a difference between focusing on the other person and focusing on that person’s desires. “Self-interest” is a less loaded term, and can include actions that are necessary to one’s survival.

And I am saying there is a big problem with how the words are used today. As Ayn Rand explained in the first essay of her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, the reason she uses that loaded term is the fact that it IS loaded, with misleading baggage which she wants to unload. It implies that “satisfying one’s desires” automatically means “willfully interfering with others’ desires”. She wanted to disspell that fallacy, and show that rational self-interest means a harmony of self-interest between reasonable people.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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Posted: 25 September 2007 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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waltercat - 25 September 2007 01:38 PM

You are not disagreeing with me about the meaning of the terms ‘objective’ and ‘subjective.’  You just think that you are.

Isn’t that what I said?

Are moral claims such that, just like claims about taste, they are only true for specific individuals.  You have shown that you think that they are.  I disagree.

Is it moral to feed someone a sandwich containing cheese?

The answer depends on the specific person. Do you know that he is lactose intolerant? Then it is immoral. If he is not lactose intolerant, and you know he likes cheese, then it is perfectly moral. These are very objective issues.

Statement (I) is “incomplete” in that it is only true for specific individuals, not for everybody.  However, moral claims are not like this.

Yes they are, as my cheese sandwich example demonstrates.

To say that a claim is objective is just to say that it is true for everybody regardless of our desires, hopes wishes, etc.

Yes. So?

Taste doesn’t work that way.  We agree on that.

No. It all just depends on how you say it. “Bob likes brocolli” and “Brocolli tastes good” are the same statement, with just one critical piece of information left out. If Bob doesn’t like brocolli, your desired, hopes, and wishes won’t change the fact that Bob doesn’t like brocolli. Thats just a fact about Bob. So is that insane grin he wears in those Enzyte commercials. smile

  You think that morality is not objective, I think that it is.

You haven’t been paying attention for the last year or so I’ve been on this forum if you think I think that. Morality definately IS objective. Thats why the philosophy I believe is called “Objectivism”.

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“The three great rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes his life worth living. To give him his liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”

- George Sutherland, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1921.

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