Good grief! Your quote is right above. What you said is

I know that MOST atheists believe (1) morality is objective and (2) God is not the source of morality. The fact that a few overzealous and not-very-careful posters on this forum think otherwise is no indication that the dichotomy you describe is an accurate one.”

So all you are doing here is backpedaling, from MOST atheists believe Vs a few overzealous ones, to, I meant a few of the more famous ones….......

“In fact, MOST atheists (including Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens) believe that there are objective moral standards (the appeal to such standards plays a very important role in Hitchens’ arguments against the existence of God.)”

Thanks for proving my point that you are not a very careful thinker.

Your response to my original observation that MOST atheists believe that morality is objective was:

““morality is objective” is an atheist belief? I’m an atheist and I believe no such thing”

But this is a non-sequitor, since I said “MOST” (and not “ALL.”) atheists believe that morality is objective. You obviously misunderstood what I was saying. If I had said that all atheists believe it, then you response would have been pertinent. But I didn’t and it wasn’t.

Is it subjective that 2+2=4 ?? So that it might be true for me but not for others???

It’s true because we all agree to follow the same rule set, it’s an axiom.

‘In mathematics, an axiom is any starting assumption from which other statements are logically derived. It can be a sentence, a proposition, a statement or a rule that enables the construction of a formal system. Unlike theorems, axioms cannot be derived by principles of deduction, nor are they demonstrable by formal proofs—simply because they are starting assumptions—there is nothing else they logically follow from (otherwise they would be called theorems). In many contexts, “axiom,” “postulate,” and “assumption” are used interchangeably.’

In any case I’m no math expert but as I understand it math can’t be proven as true, just accepted as such. First principles, incompleteness theorem etc. There are lots of self proclaimed Einsteins on these threads, perhaps they can state it more properly then I can.

Is it subjective that 2+2=4 ?? So that it might be true for me but not for others???

It’s true because we all agree to follow the same rule set, it’s an axiom.

‘In mathematics, an axiom is any starting assumption from which other statements are logically derived. It can be a sentence, a proposition, a statement or a rule that enables the construction of a formal system. Unlike theorems, axioms cannot be derived by principles of deduction, nor are they demonstrable by formal proofs—simply because they are starting assumptions—there is nothing else they logically follow from (otherwise they would be called theorems). In many contexts, “axiom,” “postulate,” and “assumption” are used interchangeably.’

In any case I’m no math expert but as I understand it math can’t be proven as true, just accepted as such. First principles, incompleteness theorem etc. There are lots of self proclaimed Einsteins on these threads, perhaps they can state it more properly then I can.

Not exactly. What can be proven in mathematics are statements of the form: Given the axioms of Euclidian geometry, it is provable that the square of the hypotenus of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Or, given the Peano axioms for arithmetic, is is provable that 2 + 2 = 4 and this is a true statement in the model of the system of arithmetic. To say that something is provable in mathematical system means that starting from the axioms of the system and its rules of deduction, certain strings of symbols can be transformed into other strings of symbols. To say that something is true, a model of the system is required. For example, ordinary arithmetic is a model of the formal system defined by the Peano axioms. The gist of the incompleteness theorem is that it is possible to make statements in consistent mathematical systems (i.e., to construct strings of symbols) that are unprovable in the system but which can be seen to be true from outside the system.

Given the axioms of Euclidian geometry, it is provable that the square of the hypotenus of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Or, given the Peano axioms for arithmetic, is is provable that 2 + 2 = 4 and this is a true statement in the model of the system of arithmetic. To say that something is provable in mathematical system means that starting from the axioms of the system and its rules of deduction, certain strings of symbols can be transformed into other strings of symbols. To say that something is true, a model of the system is required. For example, ordinary arithmetic is a model of the formal system defined by the Peano axioms. The gist of the incompleteness theorem is that it is possible to make statements in consistent mathematical systems (i.e., to construct strings of symbols) that are unprovable in the system but which can be seen to be true from outside the system.

“Given the axioms of” since we created the axioms, this is to say that 2 + 2 = 4 is true within the system we invented i.e. 2 + 2 = 4 because we all agree to the system i.e. because we agree it does. Right? Or do you think 2 + 2 = 4 is an objective truth proved by the system?

If I may hijack the conversation back to “Does Morality Really Have to do with questions of happiness/suffering?” and propose that Sam Harris makes a stronger claim. That happines/suffering (eudaimonia/well-being) is sufficient to speak of the Good. I spoke with a philosopher today and when confronted with the thought example of a universe with the most possible suffering (and imagining something worse), he came up with moral agency as a relevant factor. He claimed a universe in which (for our purposes) people do harm to one another would be worse. For those of you who’ve read Hume’s Dialogues with recognize ‘natural evil’ and ‘moral evil’. Of course, Sam Harris suggest we use ‘bad’ instead of ‘evil’ for obvious reasons. But I haven’t been able to synthesize his views on Free Will with The Moral Landscape. So far it seems all too familiar to John Stuart Mill (which Sam Harris obviously also read, or at least suggests as reading material), so why shy away from calling it utilitarianism?

But it would seem we’ve entered a discussion on the science of philosophy and status of logic.

I think it does, but many have criticised Sam Harris for not making the point for why he believes this to be so. To be sure, I don’t think I’ve heard him do more than assert this. So I’m quite interested in what Harris’ response to this weakness in his worldview is.

BryanAJParry,

I think you must ask yourself what is morality relative to, and does morality make any sense whatsoever, if that which it is suppose to be relative too, is in perpetual isolation. It ultimately rests with the self-interest of each and every individual, as the center of their own universe.

I think it does, but many have criticised Sam Harris for not making the point for why he believes this to be so. To be sure, I don’t think I’ve heard him do more than assert this. So I’m quite interested in what Harris’ response to this weakness in his worldview is.

I’m sorry but i’m a little newbie here,anyway,can you tell us what that weakness is?
You’ve considered saying that Sam has a weakness,but those who tell his weakness can’t define what weakness is,if you put it to motion,weakness can be Strength,thus vice versa,we have no power to tell that weakness will bad or not,therefore weakness doesn’t exist.

I think it does, but many have criticised Sam Harris for not making the point for why he believes this to be so. To be sure, I don’t think I’ve heard him do more than assert this. So I’m quite interested in what Harris’ response to this weakness in his worldview is.

Morality is about what should one do and what should one not do.

If one is suffering, that means he has a problem that is causing the suffering. What should he do? He should work to solve that problem. When he succeeds, he’ll have stopped the suffering that that problem was causing. So now he’s happy (with respect to this specific problem). In most people’s lives, they have lots of problems. So it takes solving lots of problem in order to be happy.

Is morality “to do with” happiness, pleasure, well-being? That is a different question from “is it SOMETHING to do with…”

From a philosophical perspective, I have always been suspicious of this style of definition. It crept in big style in the last few decades, with politicians in particular saying things like: “Democracy is ABOUT freedom. Taxation is ABOUT accountability. Justice is ABOUT retribution.” Such statements given in lieu of definition have rhetorical power but are hopelessly ambiguous.

So I assume the original question means, roughly, is happiness the key issue in morality. I am certain that it isn’t, simply because I make many moral decisions which do not affect my own or anyone else’s happiness. Many people do. Read Book II of Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations” for many examples (and then check how popular the book still is today). Of course, there is a fallacious argument - fallacious because it is circular - which says that anyone making an unpleasant moral choice gains some form of satisfaction, so he is, REALLY, motivated by happiness. (Remember the masochistic who liked a freezing cold shower every morning - so he had a hot bath…)

However, what I do is, from your point of view, subjective, and my true motivation is private and inaccessible; so here is a simple case (an everyday example, not a contrived special case) which should serve instead:

There is much discussion about a badger cull here in England (to suppress the spread of bovine tuberculosis). American grey squirrels are intensively culled to protect our native red squirrel which has been driven extinct in all but the northernmost counties of England. Foxes are regularly culled as a major predator on small livestock. The interesting aspect is that even those who accept the necessity for such culls generally condemn any “sporting” method. This is notably the case with foxes, where the legal method - shooting - is acknowledged by the RSPCA to lead to more suffering than traditional hunting: the moral judgment here is that the act is regrettably necessary but the enjoyment of the act is unacceptable. (The Puritans banned bear-baiting 350 years ago, not because it was cruel to bears, but because audiences enjoyed it…) Should we insist that those who carry out the culls must be distressed? That would be a reasonable paraphrase of the moral view commonly expressed.

Whatever your answer, the evidence is clear that moral judgments can be directed against the happiness or enjoyment of other people.