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.
And so we get to the bottom of this.
The need for an evaluator certainly removes the possibility of a "absolute" or "cosmic" or "intrinsic" value, all of which imply you don't need an evaluator, or that there is some sort of super-evaluator like god--I think here it's safe to figure THAT is a non-starter!
But does that mean there cannot be objectivity? That the evaluator cannot have a proper standard for making his valuations?
(Mind you I am not implying that all evaluators could or even should come to the same valuation; I do believe there is a role for context. To use an earlier example of mine, to me a glass full of sewage is worthless--less than worthless in fact, but to someone else it is valuable because it can be the feedstock for their bio fuel cell. Neither of us is wrong, but it would be wrong for me to value it because he does, or for him not to because I don't. I am instead arguing that perhaps, for a specific evaluator there may be an objective answer for him.
"Social contract"? But then anyone who opts out of the contract isn't bound by it.
Sadly yes, we just call in the weird flying monkeys to clean up the outlyers. The monkeys then take these folks to the Department of the Super-ego. There they are confronted by a panel of rabis, psychlogists, philosophers, and a Grand Inqistitor. During the 'interview', the poor sap is grilled to social perfection then dumped back on to the street to do 2 weeks of social work at a food bank, or other socially inportant posting.
After the 2 weeks, the monkeys pick up the poor sap again, take him back to the Department of the Super-ego for a kinder regrilling, after which he re-signs to standard social contract in tripicate. There is no criminal prosecution, no time served, no fines, and no medication.
Sadly the monkeys are idiots, and drop a few of their 'poor saps' during transit. There are no records available at this time..;p)
See 'Social Contracts' are crap! DAMN!
Actually, John (assuming you're still around, considering this discussion is over four months old) - Simon Peyton is working on a very similar treatise - perhaps you two should "friend" each other, and get together by private message. As for me, my morals came off a shampoo bottle, "use, rinse, and repeat," so what do I know? Somewhere in there, there's a grain of truth - oh yeah, the Simon Peyton part --
Yeah, I have been on a TA hiatus. Simon and I have been chatting over the last few months about it. I actually started taking a look what he has been up to a few mins ago. I just signed that Watson change.org petition your email sent me. Thanks for letting me know about it.
I think that Simon is trying to work on the morality itself, and I am working on justifying it. I think they can work together too.
I have two preliminary comments. First, I find the metaphysics of "order" here very strange. Why on earth should we assume that reality would be "disordered" unless some "order" was imposed upon it? You see this a lot when certain theists use ridiculously non-Humean accounts of the laws of nature (far beyond what any sane necessitarian would posit) to argue that there must be a "lawgiver." But I see absolutely no reason for thinking that reality would be otherwise "disordered," rather than things simply being how they are.
We can spend more time on the metaphysics of "order" later though, as the main problem is that I think this argument, at least as formulated in the OP, does not show what it purports to show. The actual conclusion to be drawn is much weaker. Even if for the sake of argument we take John's bizarre metaphysics on board, all this argument shows is that if there are real values, then there must be a universifiable morality. But this is not particularly troubling to most moral skeptics, certainly not to myself, as we are not relativists, but anti-realists about moral value. For me at least, John needs to respond to the metaethical "argument from queerness" before moral anti-realists like myself can begin to take this argument as a challenge, again putting the issues with the bizzarre metaphysics aside. Really though, there are so many terms doing enormous argumentative heavy lifting here that need to be unpacked more, such as "absolute result," "order," etc.
Applying the principle of charity, the best version of John's argument I can articulate right now is:
1. "Disorder" (a concept that needs some elucidation) is subjective in the sense that it is something we project onto the world and is not a real feature of the world.
2. Corollary to 1, the universe is orderly.
3. Any conceptual framework erected upon an accurate view of reality as orderly must be "absolute" (another concept that needs more clarity), as it would be impossible to improve upon, because one cannot get any better than a perfect reflection of an ordered reality.
4. The value of a thing comes from its properties.
5. (assumption from 2 and 1) the value of a thing is absolute, since it stems from its properties, which are part of the "ordered" reality.
6. (from 5) if there are values at all, there is therefore a correct value, a correct value being that value derived from an accurate perception of the properties of a thing in accordance with "ordered" reality.
7. Morality is based upon values.
8. (from 6 and 7) Therefore, if there are values, there is an absolute morality.
Again, coherence and clarity problems, aside, the two most glaring problems are why we should think there are values at all, and given the idea that "disorder" is something we project onto reality and not a feature of it (a notion with which I completely agree), why the same does not obtain for order? What justifies this asymmetry?
I don't have a horse in this race Christian, I just popped in to say that your second premise is flawed: "2. Corollary to 1, the universe is orderly"
The universe is anything but orderly - everything is decaying, from atoms to orbits - the galaxies are flying apart, stretching the fabric of space/time - even black holes are slowly evaporating, entropy abounds. Like us, the universe began dying the instant it was born.
I might add—and you must believe it because, as you have noted—I am perfect, that one glance at the sky on a starry night will reveal little in the way of order. In fact, the stars look like sparkles spilled on a black floor.
I have no way of knowing, I've never spilled any sparkles.
This is why the order/disorder perspective doesn't work. It's distracting and confusing.
Unseen, appearances can be deceiving. So can the language we use,eh? anyways, there's order and disorder in most everything, but, as far as we know, all matter is composed of particles that are ordered at their most basic levels, and the laws of physics and mathematics are non-random.
Look, because there is some order in some places or on some levels doesn't make the universe on the whole orderly.
RE: "the laws of physics and mathematics are non-random." - until we reach the quantum level, then all bets are off.