November 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm #19326
I think the evolutionary argument stands to call the dictator’s actions wrong because he is harming the group/individuals. This behavior is not conducive to our survival, which is what evolution cares about. Regarding 3, yes, we can apply the rule not only to our situations, but to aliens as well.November 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm #19327
Sorengard, if you affirm 3, then you are saying our morality is more than merely subjective.November 9, 2012 at 6:03 pm #19328
Right, I think the question was whether or not morality is subjective or objective. The theists perspective is that there is an outside force called God that measures our actions and deems them good or bad. The evolutionary method of getting to objective morality does so with the outside force of nature, evolution.November 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm #19329
Gotcha. But I don’t think you can affirm both (A) morality is only grounded in human perception and (B) morality is objective.
Aren’t they mutually exclusive?
Also, I realized that Hazlitt has a book called the Foundations of Morality which would probably shed light on these discussions. I have not read it yet, but it’s available on mises.orgNovember 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm #19330
I’m not saying that morality is based on human perception, at least not any more so than the theist relies on human perception to read a holy book or to see a holy vision. I’m a theist btw.November 10, 2012 at 11:56 am #19331
Going back to the original poster, libertypunk, I don’t think this question should shake your confidence in your beliefs about libertarianism. Indeed, I myself have been struggling with this question quite a bit, but within my own head and not in a debate with someone else.
I started down this journey to libertarianism because of my desire to know what “the truth” is. As a former Obama supporter and typical “sheep”, I spent a lot of time trying to debunk claims from the right about Obama. What I realized ultimately is that there is no truth anymore (was there ever?). Both sides have “facts”, “economists”, “professors”, and the like on their side supposedly validating their side and conversely proving the other side wrong.
So if all sides are correct theoretically, meaning we can reach identical means via different paths, the Republican, Democrat, or libertarian path, then isn’t the path that takes the moral high ground, promotes non-violence and voluntary associations as opposed to force and coercion, the most preferable one?
I think “we” win by winning the moral argument. Just like everyone now acknowledges that slavery is morally wrong, we must start changing minds that force and violence to achieve political ends is also wrong.November 10, 2012 at 6:13 pm #19332
Sorengaard, I gotcha. But the original question was exactly that, whether or not it was based on just perception. I agree with you that it is not grounded merely in perception.
Haley11, you say, “What I realized ultimately is that there is no truth anymore.” Is that TRUE? Also, if you say there exists a moral high ground, then I think you are saying that morality is not merely grounded in perception.November 10, 2012 at 7:45 pm #19333Javicho69Participant
If anything, this thread has reassured me I’m in the right place looking for answers along with everyone else. JohnD’s first response cleared up a bit of what I was asking… loving where the discussion is going. I don’t think I had given things like this much thought in the past, it is surprisingly stimulating.November 10, 2012 at 11:19 pm #19334porphyrogenitusMember
We should agitate for the next course to be in the foundations of ethics/morality.
It would make a great follow-on to the logic course. ^_^November 11, 2012 at 6:54 am #19335
I’m on board with that suggestion PorphyrogenitusNovember 11, 2012 at 10:38 am #19336
Haley11, you say, “What I realized ultimately is that there is no truth anymore.” Is that TRUE?
Well, there is truth and then there is the interpretation of truth. An example might be: “The US is in debt”. True statement. Almost nobody will debate that. BUT it’s the interpretation of it that gets muddy. The left will say, “Yes we’re in debt but if we just raise taxes on the rich and end our wars, we can manage it.” And the right says “Yes we’re in debt, if we can just fire Big Bird and stop funding abortion and throw granny off the cliff while maintaining our Orwellian platform of Peace through Strength and balance the budget in another 40 years, everything will be fine.” And then you have the libertarians/Austrians “Yes we are in debt! We need to address it now, not in 40 years!! We predicted this crisis, we saw it coming, why are you ignoring us! Cut the military, fire Big Bird, lower taxes, yes all of it!!!”
So what is truth? The left has Krugman vindicating their point of view, we have the Austrians and supposedly history on our side. I don’t know what the Right has going for them. Who’s right and how do you determine who’s right?
I think the information era has been a boon for liberty, but it has also muddied the waters too. Now with information about pretty much everything literally at our fingertips, everyone can find an expert, a historian, an article, a something that will corroborate their view point. So how do you ever determine what is truth?
Which is I guess a way of affirming the original statement, that there is no reality, only perception.November 11, 2012 at 10:41 am #19337
And I guess that brings me back to my previous assertion that if nobody is right and everybody is right, wouldn’t the most correct path be the one that respects human life, does not initiate violence, and allows each individual to live according to his/her beliefs without coercion? Isn’t that the most preferable version of truth?November 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm #19338muliolisMember
Hello. New member here. As an Objectivist, I think that Ayn Rand gave a better answer than JohnD’s Objective/Subjective dichotomy, and that is the Objective/Subjective/Intrinsic TRIchotomy.
What JohnD calls Objective, something being good or bad in and of itself, independednt of human perception, Ayn Rand calls Intrinsic. Her definition of Objective in the context of ethics means that something is good because of its actual identity, its real world qualities that are independent of our perception, in relation to how we percieve those qualities serve human needs and goals, in particular promoting human life.
I think it was Professor David Kelley who used the metaphor of a collision between two cars, say a Ford representing the object’s real qualities, and a Chevy representing our perception of how it serves human purposes. So ask yourself, is the collision within the Ford or the Chevy? Without one or the other, the collision would not have happened. Both are needed.
In a real-world example, lets take the value of an antibiotic like penecillin. Penicillin is of great value to us (lets omit factors like antibiotic resistence, please) because something about it’s chemical structure makes it a poison to many kinds of bacteria, but harmless to humans, so it is an excellent cure for bacterial infections. We most definitely percieve a cure for disease as a great value. But penecillin would definitely not have that value if it didn’t in fact have that chemical structure that makes it a poison to bacteria.
And to further make the point, before even the germ theory of disease and the discovery of penicillin as a cure, it was simply an unpleasant mold found on certain kinds of fruit. Theoretically, it was of great potential value, but since we didn’t even know the theory, it was of no value.November 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm #19339porphyrogenitusMember
Tom posted on this today at his site. Apparently this dispute comes up a lot (do tell!). So opportune time again to agitate for a course on the foundations of ethics/morality and liberty.
I think that the thing that ultimately causes people to believe that rights “come from the state” or, at best, are “socially constructed” is the Social Contract theory/foundation, which ties the origination of a society to the foundation of a government.
But this has always been a faulty premise: 1) some sort of society must pre-exist for people to have the basis of common understandings that would cause them to believe contracts between them would be not just mutually binding, but mutually observed (that’s what distinguishes the group making any given social agreement distinct from that group on yon hill that they don’t include, for one thing) but also 2) it presumes that societies are coterminous with political boundaries (a Ven Diagram would be useful here); but this is not necessarily so. At all. 3) “Rights” that come from the State are no rights at all; any libertarian should easily see that if rights are a creature of the state, then they are subject to modification by that state at any time and for any reason; so they are not rights at all. At least not rights in a philosophical sense – they would then only be “rights” from the point of view of rhetorical/political instrumental utility in polemical squabbles between competing groups under the state; I.E. Sandra Fluck’s “right” to reach into the pockets of other people to compel them to pay for her lifestyle choices, and it’s a “war on her” if you don’t submit without even objecting. But those kind of “rights” are only enforced against competing factions within a polity; they are not enforcable against the state, by definition, unless the state wants to pretend to enforce them in some cases for it’s own purposes (in which case they would do so anyhow, and “rights” remain a fiction).
Now, me, I also think speaking of “rights” such as “the right to this or that” is at best only useful as a convenient shorthand. It really only makes philosophical sense to talk about liberty, and any “right” is just a facet of liberty-as-a-whole. But, again, this post is long enough.December 10, 2012 at 11:42 am #19340squamousguyMember
Hi, all. I know I’m late to the party, but this is too interesting to pass up.
The discussion seems to have meandered a bit, but I’d like to address the original topic of objective/subjective morality. Because morality is exclusively a human construct, I think it can be argued that it is essentially subjective. Objective reality says nothing about morality; it’s simply a set of physical laws and reactions… However, for the purposes of human conduct, there can (and I would say, should) be morality that is rationally and objectively attained. It’s not that “right and wrong” exists somewhere in reality other than in our heads, but humans can certainly (and largely have) assign right and wrong to things that are universally preferred (UPB, Stefan Molynuex anyone?). This morality is based upon conduct that can be objectively agreed upon to be preferred by all (see don’t murder, steal, rape, and the non-aggression principle in general). You can never say that any of those three examples are ever universally “right,” so they must be “wrong.” That doesn’t mean you won’t find that rare fellow who thinks that murder is the “right thing to do,” but he can never rationally make that argument (just try and make that a universal argument, and remember that morality is always framed as universal standards).
Sorry, this topic is relatively clear in my head, but when I try and write it out it feels sloppy. I would highly recommend checking out Stefan Molyneux’s work on the subject, and to read his book about secular ethics found here: http://www.freedomainradio.com/FreeBooks.aspx .
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.