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.
Best in what sense? From what or who's perspective? Best is a statement of value and as such it is subjective (from a mind).
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this seems to mean that you agree with Sam Harris that suffering could be considered a basis for morality?
I personally don't think we can take the subjectivity out of morality and I think that that is just fine, it allows us to learn and become better people over time. It would suck to already have all the (moral) answers, i'd much rather keep discovering.
Sadly, 'the best you can do', might be a far cry from what someone else might be able to do. Even if you are doing 'the best you can', total screw ups can happen. It would seem to me that for a system to be absolute, this could mean 'it does not screw up'. If the system is dependent upon a perfectly able human being for its application, then screw ups would be more common than hopped for.
The theist moral ethical model seems to expect some near -perfect result, else you could burn in hell. I expect that the subpar function for most of us would condemn most to hell by age 12. A very good ethical/moral model would atleast demand a significant mental ability in its users, waiting till age 18 for a condemnation to hell would be more christian.
I'll say what I said to Unseen but add this:
From whose perspective doesn't interest me. Flawed perspectives that fail to account for data will often come to flawed conclusions.
I think you are mistaking me as saying situationally subjective decision making will go away. It wont. In the end, in any decision, people who fully understood the relationship that all the related factors had with each other, would all agree that the best action is the same thing, unless you have a tie, in which all options that tied would all be agreed on as best out of all other available options.
Okay so Marilyne, I can work with that. But I was describing the measuring process. I wasn't really trying to get to absolute value. It was just supposed to explain in simple terms how valuation as a measurement happens. Valuation occurs from the observation of perceived properties. You are talking about biased valuations, but those are dependent on other valuations and so on, back to the beginning. What I am interested in that paragraph is to review how the valuing system works, not what screws it up.
Now what I actually am focusing on after laying the framework with how values form is accurate value/more accurate value. Now what I am not saying is that there is some kind of universal value. I am saying that each scenario has a most accurate value, nothing more, because you are right, each situation changes the appropriate prioritizing that has to go on.
Values may be mostly formed by misperception of properties, but they are always formed through an observation of perceived properties. The attempt is always to understand and be accurate. We have pretty much beaten it to death that value is a type of measurement. Since measurement is for accuracy, more accurate valuation is essential.
John, can you give an example of an unbiased valuation? Even theoretically, the very act of 'valuing' is dependent on a brain to interpret/concieve/assess etc- all of which occur within a biased framework (experience). What does it even mean to accurately value something? If you are trying to grasp or explain how we can best understand reality, or the actual nature of things, in order to have a value system that corresponds most logically with reality, I think I get that, but you have me totally lost on the 'order' thing.
Unfortunately, I can't give you an example of an unbiased valuation. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen. What I am interested in is the process itself and how that process should inform us to make more appropriate valuations.
Here's some background on the order issue. Earlier, about a year ago, there was a thread on morality where it boiled down to you can't have a moral system because order and disorder are of null value. That person argued some sort of functional alternative and to toss out the notion of morality. It is generally understood that in order to have a moral system you have to value order. Instead I argue, that order doesn't get valued, because it is the basis for valuation. So you don't value order, it is just the way things are and you have no choice but to use it if you are building a framework.
What I really contend here is that morality is based on something real as in what is good is also what is more best per se, and we are pretty much a multiple centuries-long evaluation of what is better. What is less good is tried and found wanting, and we continue to refine our understanding of what is better. It is a trial and error process. But I don't think we need to toss morality out. It works. It definitely needs to continue to be refined, but we have discovered much as the human race regarding this subject so far.
So, by 'order', do you mean 'reality'? As in the 'order' of the universe and nature? If I understand you, I think I agree. I take the notion of morality a step further-or perhaps sideways- but I agree that the more accurately we percieve reality, the better we should be at forming a *functional* moral code.
I like to condense it a little further, in order to take all the joy out of it that I can. I think that morality is the action guide we use in order to get what we want. We just like to dress them up a little to make it palatable and fun. Have you seen the Vaticans art collection? The ceremony, the music, the robes!!! Who do you think wins the contest- my dry and boring theory or the catholic church? Humanism needs costumes.
Back to the order thing- I'm still not convinced 'order' is necessary in value formation. You could come up with a moral framework based on nonsense that will get you nowhere near achieving your goals-wouldn't that qualify as an exception to your theory?
Yeah, basically, but also more specifically in terms of structure.. Order is necessary in any structure or framework. Even those words you used are based on the notion of ordering. A moral framework based on nonsense, still appeals to some sort of order as in it is "based" on something and still a framework.
That is where the notion that disorder is nothing comes into mind. A completely disordered framework, wouldn't exist. It would simply be nothing.
People will kill themselves if they think it is the right thing to do. It isn't just to get what we want.
I just don't see it.
You can believe that something is 'absolute', if it helps. I mostly see ethics/morality as social contract. When theists link morality with absoluteism, they are pretending that their system of 'the good' as no other equal, and that any other attempt at defining 'the good' has to be invalid. Theists want to monopolize 'the good', virtue, principles, or social agreements/contracts, and dictate all social relationships.
When you assert that your model is absolute, you really are saying, that everyone else is wrong, you are 'right', and you get to dictate to everyone! I guess to put it bluntly, this discribes a Facist wet dream!
When I see folks asserting a virtue for themselves, and that their idea of virtue it absolute, they are really saying that, 'I can't be wrong!' They are silencing their conscience, and going full steam ahead into self delusion. Some of these folks put on fancy uniforms or hats, strut thier stuff on prime time television, or speek from high podiums to the assumed pee-ons below them. Not knowing what goes on in back rooms with these folks, seems scary to me.
We need reasonably good writen social contracts, and an open culture wide conversation about the contents!
Well, ultimately it comes down to the fact that value is subjective. I don't have to accord any value to filet mignon or sewage. They may have a value in some context, but isn't that just another way of saying "it's subjective"? Likewise with 'virtue'. Without looking it up, my definition of virtue is 'that which corresponds to the valued or esteemed'- A woman of virtue could be one who prays 5 times a day and remains celibate and covers her hair and skin. Or maybe she's worthy of scorn for wasting her life.
You say we need "reasonably good" contracts. Who's idea of reasonably good? Can women participate in the conversation? How about felons? Rapists? People with head injuries? Scientologists? Husbands?-just joking on that last one, sometimes I go too far.
If there's an absolute value, it can't have anything to do with anything absolute or objective. Why? Because "value" requires an "evaluation" which requires an "evaluator."
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.