The value of anything is established by its properties. If values aren't really arbitrary, then there is an absolute morality. The rest of this is trying to explain why values can't be arbitrary, they can only be misunderstood as arbitrary.
This thread is an argument that order is the basis of all concepts. Order is very rigid, so when you build a concept like a moral system on it, like all concepts should be built, it is going to lead to absolute results. Morality is based on values, and the only way to justify morality is to prove your values are accurate. My argument is that values aren't arbitrary, thus there is an absolute morality.
Original post below:
Many atheists shy away from absolute morality because it sounds religious. I argue that there has to be an absolute morality because the universe is absolute. This may seem wrong as there are many subjective things. I am contending that this isn't true because subjectivity resides on the conceptual level and like disorder and change is not a part of actual existence, but rather merely descriptive. Absolute morality has to exist because the base foundation for morality is order, which enables it to have structure as a social concept. This means that even as a concept, it has to have an absolute and most perfect form as a social concept.
I have been working on this for a while, and I think I am nearing completion, but I am wondering what faults may be found with this line of thought... I have had to return to the drawing board to correct my errors a few times already.
This below is an addendum:
What I am contending is that once morality is conceived as a concept, the nature of order upon which any concept is structured necessitates a most perfect form.
Individual perception causes humans to see the concept with innaccuracy in contrast to the order with which the concept maintains structure in conceptual reality. This creates subjectivity.
But where I am really going with this is that order is the base functional principle of any structure in the universe.
At the very foundation of the level of actuality lies order. Without order, molecules neither form nor bind. Order enables structure, which in turn enables every other level of existence. Order permeates every level of existence as its foundation, including anything that exists on the conceptual level. For this reason, structural order serves as the archetypal basis that justifies having a moral system.
Disorder is mistaken as coexisting with order, but it exists on the conceptual level only and is a name given to an observation of change. It is not a counterpart to order. That means disorder is not actual. It is conceptual.
These things tie together to start to point out that best action can be established on the basis of the order of the universe, and the lack of actuality of disorder which would be its only challenger.
Melissa, I won't lynch you and I understand the reasons why you would come to that. This hypothesis is attempting to show that the right thing to do is something real that doesn't need a deity's seal of approval.
This exercise seems to have been insightful.
Ethical or moral 'charity' seems useful, and could get us out of the mental trap of appealing to some authority that is transcendent or non-personal.
It appears that most atheists spend a great deal of cognitive energies on the question. I expect theists and atheists, albeit from slightly different angles of attack, are deeply engaged. It appears that atheists might use life experience for insights, more than theists.
It looks like the jury of our peers has mostly determined that ethics or morality does not have or need a place of absolute certainty to measure from or gage the virtue of ethical decisions. There might be a place of unstable measures/ideals that offer insights into our decisions, but are subject to cultural developement or experience.
My slightly satirical attempt at a 'moral calculus' was to suggest that our decision making might be improved, but such a 'tool' is still not ready for prime time. Better minds can do what they will with it.
Sadly, I can offer no real aide. I still land badly at times, and hindsight is not always a good source of enlightenment.
I think that atheists are irrationally predisposed to being averse to anything that bears similarity to religion.
The jury is stacked in that sense because it is not impartial. I agree the tool is not ready for prime time. But knowing that there can be a right thing to do can help you figure out some of what that is. You don't need to overcalculate everything. Some things can simply be boiled down to the right thing to do with what you have to work with. But now there is a right thing to do.
"I think that atheists are irrationally predisposed to being averse to anything that bears similarity to religion.". I would like to add that "all generalizations are wrong". ;)
Anyhow, your thought process on this topic seems to be filled with fallacies. The key fallacies in your reasoning are related to:
1) the concept of "absolute" (I assume that by absolute you mean "something that is independent of some or all relations", and somehow you translated this to "independent of man"), and its relationship to morality. Let me elaborate:
- Quote: "there has to be an absolute morality because the universe is absolute." This axiom implies that because the universe exists beyond us, morality must exist of its own volition too. There is no causality that can possibly link the physical nature of the universe with a human construct such as morality. This is apples and oranges to the power of 1000.
It seems undebatable that morality doesn't have an "absolute" existence per se. Without men there's no such thing as morality, as there is no light without photons, and no noise without a means to transport it.
Furthermore, in your reasoning "Absolute morality has to exist because the base foundation for morality is order", you are cause and pre-requisite. The fact that "order" may or may not be the base foundation of morality, it doesn't necessarily mean that it should exist per se. In your same line "God must exist because the base foundation for God is faith". Which, I must add, is obviously wrong (OK, maybe the base foundation for God is not faith, but that's fuel for another discussion...you get the idea). Perhaps a more accurate parallel to your statement is "Artificial intelligence must be readily available because the base foundation for AI are microprocessors".
2) your statements that "disorder and change is not a part of actual existence". I really wonder where you're getting this from, but it is an indisputable fact, as stated by the laws of thermodynamics, that change exists as an inherent part of any system not in thermal equilibrium. The way you describe "order" and relate it to matter seems to indicate you are getting the facts backwards. The current state of the universe is in a rather low level of entropy, and according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, entropy must increase until thermal equilibrium is achieved. Thus, change is an intrinsic part of nature in our universe, and a necessary part of existence as we know it.
I could go on quite a bit longer pointing out fallacies in your post, but I hope everyone gets the idea already. My suggestion is that you check your facts first, from the deepest, most philosophical ones, to the most obvious ones, such as "Order permeates every level of existence as its foundation, including anything that exists on the conceptual level." Please debate that statement with an anarchist, and tell me what the outcome is.
No, you are simply just not following it at all. Perhaps it is the wording. It is a difficult concept to convey. See the post I will soon write below.
I would like to add that "all generalizations are wrong". ;)
While the smiley indicates your statement was tongue-in-cheek, and realized that the statement itself was a generalization, it is true that the vast majority of generalizations will have at least a small number of exceptions.
It's always frustrating to make a true generalization and then have some numbskull remind you of one or other of the few exceptional contrary cases.
"Women are shorter than men." "Well, not ALL women. I met a woman who was 6'3"." Arrggh!
Just because you don't like the judgement doesn't mean the jury is stacked. But I'm glad about your acceptance of its similarity to religion.
All morals are local. Local to the person, to their associates, and their geography. "This is my take on right and wrong HERE" is pretty much how it works. Or at least that's how it's been. One could have some moral clarity.
However, as we become more in a global village and its local and worldwide diversity in values and points of view, it's all becoming more confusing. The fact that there is no universal or absolute morality is coming into sharp focus.
The universe is a concrete entity whilst morality is an abstract human construction. Whilst there may be absolute laws of physics (which again have been detected and measured by human beings according to the perceptions available to us) as a way to understand our world, morality is an every changing concept. Morality changes like fashion and architecture and music. If humans did not exist, complex morality would not exist in this universe.
However, I do believe that there is a fixed sense of morality common to all humans because of our evolutionary ancestry. Like other apes and also dogs, dophins and other social mammals, we have evolved to have a sense of community and acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. We have always seen it as immoral to harm the innocent but our perception of what constitutes innocence is ever changing. For most of our history, the innocent only refers to the young or defenceless of our own 'pack' - we have happily murdered children of other tribes, nations, religions etc. Our sense of community has widened as the world has become smaller due to television and air travel and we now empathise and help people of other nationalities. We are evolving socially away from our tribal, territorial origins although racism, xenophobia and class prejudice remain to show us our instinctive 'pack' mentality. As we become more liberal and more Humanist and religion dies out, there may well develop a shared morality based on Humanist beliefs but there will always be prejudice of one form or another.
Of course, religion does not have an absolute morality but changes with society like everything else. We see this in Christianity. Slavery, child sex abuse, rape and genocide are all advocated in the bible but not by modern Christians. Christians accept that Hitler's atrocities were deeply wrong but argue that their god would be quite justified in rounding up for torture not only the Jews but any non-christians in hell
There is in humanity, including atheists, a deep-seated thirst for a way to make ethical decisions imbued with absolute truth and not just personal prejudice or "truth" in terms of popularity among the locals.
Alright so many people are not understanding this because it is complex, and complaining about my use of complex terminology. Fine. I'll try to simplify the language, but once you understand you will find the precision was largely accurate
This all has to deal with the fact that English is a terribly inadequate language. Furthermore I do not have ready access to my physics consultant Dr Robert Abel, who I made sure to ask if disorder actually had properties, because yes the whole thing is dependent on this. That puts me at a disadvantage that I simply can not help until I do get in touch with Bob again.
But you simply can't start with that concept of disorder yet because you have to be made aware of some things first. Where you have to start is the fact that as indicated in the book Metaphors We Live By, by Lakoff and Johnson the English language employs too much metaphor to help describe things.
So you need to figure out if you are using metaphor or not and you need to make sure you don't make the mistake of seeing a metaphor or something as being the thing itself..
Many of you sound like Bill Clinton when he said "It depends on what "is" is. The word "is" means is the present-tense verb meaning "to be". Nothing that is actually there can be found outside of the present-tense verb to be.
So you need to use a verb "to be" test on something to find out if it "IS" truly. Nothing in the past qualifies for the verb to be.
Think about it. Nothing in the past is real anymore. Nothing in the future is real yet. If you find something actual that can not be found in present tense physical reality, you are using "actual" in a metaphorical sense. Don't mix the two. It leads to very distorted epistemology.
It is the difference between actual dirt
and actual concept.
What I have been trying to say is this: Cut through the confusion by separating them into the levels of functionality that they serve to interpret reality as we know it.
You start with the physical reality. Anything in the physical reality can be measured by the present tense verb "to be". If not, it is not. It if isn't in the physical reality, it is a mental concept that we metaphorically call reality
Start here. Focus on this only.
So the fact that no one understands what you are saying is the fault of everyone but you? If English is such a problem for you, why not write in your native tongue on a board read by others who speak that language?