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.
Why do we need a non-selfish reason to justify being good?
Why do we need an out-there-absolute-right-and-wrong?
And, no, you don't need the principles before the practical application.
Caveman: "Fire good. Make me warm."
John: "Please describe the fire triangle."
Caveman: "Me not understand question."
John: "Before you can warm your hands, you must first understand the principles of the fire triangle."
Caveman: "Three sticks plus lightning?"
John: "No, no, no. What three things are needed for fire? I'll give you a start - the first thing you need is fuel."
Caveman: "What means 'fuel'?"
Please, John. Give us a real example of how your ideal, absolute morality would work in the real world. You asked for help on this idea by saying you wonder what holes there are in your reasoning. Help us help you. Throw us a freakin' bone.
I never thought that would be a difficult hurdle for people. In the real world, most people already understand morality as working on this principle. All it does is identify the source as being order instead of God.
There are mountains of philosophy out there about the implications of this written over thousands of years.
But the thing is that when morals are justified, you have ressurected "because it is the right thing to do" It isn't just the right thing to do because it benefits us. It isn't the right thing just because we have evolved. It is the superior thing to do. It is something to take pride in.
You don't tell the simpleminded all of this, you just say "It is the right thing to do". The right thing to do is powerful. It is inspiring. It is something beyond the normal amount of inspiration that you get from. Unlike the kind established by religion though, it is measurable. It is subject to scrutiny.
But the point isn't the broader implications, the point that needs to be examined is if the notion of God's perfect rules came from order making rules possible to be perfect.
Maybe most people do think morality works on some kind of absolute principle. That doesn't mean that understanding is correct.
If I were talking to a theist who claims god is the source, I'd ask for examples of moral absolutes. I'm asking you the same thing.
And why can't it just be right because it benefits us? Why can't those feelings of pride be evolutionarily induced - people who feel good about doing things that benefit the group are more likely to do those 'good' things.
It's already subject to scrutiny, because morality can be objective. That doesn't make it based on your universal absolute ideal order stuff.
Why must it be possible for the rules to be perfect?
Karen, it can be both. If I am right about order, it is the way it is. It isn't as focused on ideology, but rather the way things work best.
I'm with you in wondering if there indeed is anything at all practical about his theory.
Kind of funny, @Unseen, isn't it. We seem to be on the same page on this discussion, and not so much on the other one. :)
It's not necessarily true that ideals have to have an absolute form. There may be different forms of an ideal which are equivalent in their idealness. You keep proposing that morality is an ideal. But is it? Maybe morality is not an ideal, therefore it wouldn't have to have an absolute form.
I'm playing with this idea - substitute another important aspect of our existence that is more physically measurable. What is the ideal nutrition? Is there an absolute? Or does it depend on the needs of the individual, the setting, the time, their physical conditions?
Health may be the ideal, and nutrition is one aspect of how we get there. Nutrition is maleable, depending on our species, our environment, our particular genetic material. Maybe it's the same with morality. A sustainable society is our ideal, and morality is one aspect of how we get there ...
Morality doesn't matter to the universe. It is what it is and it does what it does, morals be damned. Nutrition doesn't matter to the universe - it matters to us (just like morality) but it doesn't matter to the stars.
Whaddya think, as far as analogies go it's kinda rough around the edges, but does that work for anyone?
I would see the absolute form of health as being in perfect condition with no ailments or deficiencies. Nutrition is a concept, but I don't see it as an ideal, so I think health is better.
"Ideal nutrition" is that which meets all nutrition needs perfectly. Ideal nutrition for, is a type of ideal nutrition. "Ideal nutrition for me", really means "ideal nutrition for anyone with these specific variables" Any time those specific variables are quantified, the result is the same ideal.
Ideals are "quantified"? On a scale of 1 to 10 in decimal notation?
I anticipate from your last paragraph that you may be building up to something like a morality meter or even calculator. Is that where this quantity terminology is headed?
A metaphysical reality exists or it doesn't. I don't know how to parse the expression "something like a metaphysical reality." Is it metaphysical or isn't it? As far as I know, the only thing which is something like a metaphysical reality is a metaphysical reality.
What reality would you place the conceptual in? It is treated and understood as reality. It is metaphysical, but not in the philosophical sense that metaphysical is generally understood.
I am only aware of two senses of "metaphysical": 1) the philosophical sense of a parallel nonphysical reality and 2) the one where charlatans try to convince suckers that they can talk to dead people and things of that nature.
Isn't the conceptual reality mental, and thus subject to the physics of brain electrochemistry?
Meta just means with, but of the options it is best to say it is mental, and subject to the physics of brain electrochemistry. However it is understood as being real. People don't just think of these things as "all in their head" in a practical sense. I find saying it is mental is inadequate due to how it is used in social thought processes.