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27 year-old David Hume: 1, Sam Harris who should know better: 0

 
After_The_Jump
 
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After_The_Jump
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15 March 2017 12:58
 

@ Antisocialdarwinist

The fact that God is not the source of objective morality in no way proves that science is.

I know the debate between Harris and Craig quite well. The strength I see in Harris’s position is that, in the absence of God, our definition of “objective” changes completely. After all, without a divine edict to refer to, what’s left of the concept of ‘objective’?

What’s left, it seems, is that we’ve got to define everything ourselves. Again, I’d submit - within that paradigm - we can either claim that there is no such thing as ‘objective moral truths’ OR we can start analyzing how we measure what people generally mean when they begin operationally defining ‘morality’, along those lines, I think Harris makes a very strong point when he says attempts to operationally define morality inevitably track back to well-being of conscious creatures, even within religious interpretations of morality. And, I think Harris’s next point follows: we know enough about ‘well-being’ to begin identifying what’s ‘better’ or ‘worse’ for it across many fronts. Yes, there are no doubt still some gray areas in that regard, but there are many areas that aren’t gray anymore as it relates to well-being.

 

 

[ Edited: 15 March 2017 13:02 by After_The_Jump]
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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15 March 2017 15:02
 
After_The_Jump - 15 March 2017 12:58 PM

@ Antisocialdarwinist

The fact that God is not the source of objective morality in no way proves that science is.

I know the debate between Harris and Craig quite well. The strength I see in Harris’s position is that, in the absence of God, our definition of “objective” changes completely. After all, without a divine edict to refer to, what’s left of the concept of ‘objective’?

What’s left, it seems, is that we’ve got to define everything ourselves. Again, I’d submit - within that paradigm - we can either claim that there is no such thing as ‘objective moral truths’ OR we can start analyzing how we measure what people generally mean when they begin operationally defining ‘morality’, along those lines, I think Harris makes a very strong point when he says attempts to operationally define morality inevitably track back to well-being of conscious creatures, even within religious interpretations of morality. And, I think Harris’s next point follows: we know enough about ‘well-being’ to begin identifying what’s ‘better’ or ‘worse’ for it across many fronts. Yes, there are no doubt still some gray areas in that regard, but there are many areas that aren’t gray anymore as it relates to well-being.

 

 

What is our absence-of-God definition of “objective?”

 
 
After_The_Jump
 
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After_The_Jump
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16 March 2017 09:18
 

@ antisocialdarwinist

What is our absence-of-God definition of “objective?”

The third Merriam-Webster’s definition seems the most applicable.

This, again, I think is the strength in Harris’s argument. Without divine edict, at bottom, everything is “subjective”, up to and including the definition of “objective”. Within that reality, we have ideals, concepts, and arguments that are more measurable and falsifiable than others.

 

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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16 March 2017 20:42
 
After_The_Jump - 16 March 2017 09:18 AM

@ antisocialdarwinist

What is our absence-of-God definition of “objective?”

The third Merriam-Webster’s definition seems the most applicable.

This, again, I think is the strength in Harris’s argument. Without divine edict, at bottom, everything is “subjective”, up to and including the definition of “objective”. Within that reality, we have ideals, concepts, and arguments that are more measurable and falsifiable than others.

 

I.e., “expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations?”

Whether human beings are capable of perceiving anything at all without “distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations” is debatable, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that it is at least possible. Doesn’t that possibility hinge on the “facts or conditions” themselves existing independent of “personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations?”

Why, for example, can’t we make objective claims about the average length of a unicorn’s horn? Because the length of a unicorn’s horn depends on “personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.”

The boiling point of water, on the other hand, is a fact which does not depend on “personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.” Perceiving the boiling point of water objectively is therefore possible, at least in theory. (This, by the way, holds even in the absence of divine edict. Your claim that “without divine edict…everything is subjective” couldn’t be more wrong.)

Agree so far?

The question then becomes: is wrongness a fact which does not depend on “personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations?” Like the boiling point of water? If so, then the possibility of perceiving it objectively exists.

If, on the other hand, wrongness depends on personal feelings, etc.—like the length of a unicorn’s horn—then it is not possible to perceive it objectively, not even in theory.

So, which is it? If you say wrongness is a fact which does not depend on “personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations,” then explain what it does depend on.

 
 
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