Variance wrote:Remember, I'm not talking about how we form our moral precepts, only whether moral precepts are actually legitimate in any case. "It feels right" doesn't work because there must be a reason behind the feeling for it to be correct, so it's a layer removed from an absolute proof of moral correctness. That's why I propose that only "God says so" works, after, hypothetically, the existence of God is proved.
I find it amusing how much people try to hold onto logical proofs. "Proofs" are a fabrication, they only exist in the abstract realm of logic and mathematics. As soon as we enter any measured evidence of how the world works, we're now in the realm of imperfect information where we should use likelihoods, not proofs. Logic is a tool based on approximations of the real world, and it can be very helpful in making good decisions, but there's no magic truth there.
Second, logic doesn't drive behavior, emotions do. I suspect that in the history of logical proofs, very few have had much impact on human behavior unless it was coupled with an emotional appeal. Rather I think we start with feelings and then look for reasonable explanations to validate them. Being logically sound helps, but it's not a game-clencher. Logical fallacies are no-nos in proofs, but they can help us make better estimates and thus better decisions. (e.g. Proving that any man is taller than any woman would be logically bad, but turning it into a guess makes for a good estimation.)
We can't prove that a big TV matters, but we can measure that it does matter to a lot of people and come up with a reasonable explanation. We can't prove that a certain action is good, but we can measure that it is good to lots of people and come up with a reasonable explanation. That measurement will also show that the feeling of goodness is independent of God, and I suspect it's because it's wired inside of us deeper than the rational brain.
I do think that a belief in God is one of the best methods we know of to make a large group of people behave
morally (a not too popular opinion that I've been propagating in the Utility of Religion thread) as opposed to merely asserting what they think is moral, but I don't come to that conclusion using logical proofs.
Most actions are based off emotions, but that doesn't mean they have to be. Personally, I try to base everything I believe on logic whenever possible, but yes, it's impossible to catch everything, before someone points that out.
setzer777 wrote:I would really like to see proof of the fundamentals of logic. I really don't see how that's possible. How do you prove something without even making the assumption (for example) that if something is true, its denial or opposite is not true? What does the concept of "proof" even mean if you don't have *any* assumptions? Logical proof requires the rules that connect premises to conclusions, how can the prove the rules themselves without being circular? Suppose I start with the statement "I exist". Suppose I then say "I don't exist". I need an unproven logical assumption to even say that such a contradiction is a problem.
I'm more than happy to share this, because you won't find it in any philosophy textbook. In essence, existence needs to be proved first:
-Cogito ergo sum works to prove that existence exists, or we can use the fact that the only answer to the question is "yes", given that the answer exists as either yes, no, or maybe.
This establishes that existence exists, or, as Dark567 put it from the classical/stealth objectivist proof, A=A. Either way, it proves that:
-Existence is existence.
-Existence is not nonexistence and never will be under any circumstances. The only possibility is, by definition, that existence is existence and not nonexistence.
-Set A to exist. A is A, by definition, and cannot under any circumstances not be A, just as existence cannot be nonexistence.
-Therefore, A=A and A!=B if B is different than A.
-A will always equal A and never equal B, because time is irrelevant in the abstract.
This is another absolute that cannot be considered a fundamental, because the only possible answer to the question "does A equal A and not B?" is yes. For it to be no would deny A=A, and by extension, deny that existence is existence. Contrary to what Dark567 said, these have been proved without logic, because they are the only possibilities for the nature of existence and A that can exist. Essentially, to say that A=B would deny existence itself. (A by definition can be nothing but A, and that is by definition as much an absolute as existence itself is.)
Basically, the stuff I enumerated is proved because it cannot be shown to ever not be true, and cannot even hypothetically not be true, which would be possible with a non-absolute such as morality or the Wet Nurse.
Now, to establish that this proves logic requires a consistent definition of logic, but we can generally agree that logic has to do with the application of principles to evidence or reason, or something of the sort. Since logic holds that A=A by its most fundamental rules, it is correct in that sense and in the sense that A!=B. Every such rule that logic follows works now, such as A+B=C if C-A=B and C-B=A, and so on into the more abstract math.
Essentially, all parts of logic will always work and be correct in the context of existence or nonexistence, the two irrefutable absolutes. Therefore, since ours is a world where existence exists, logic will always work. Were logic not to work, existence would possibly not exist and A would not necessarily equal A, but B. So logic is proved to always work, and since it's ability to work or not work requires that it exists, it also exists.
There you go. I welcome input on the proof, and I know it's very abstract.
My whole point with alternatives of absolute morality is this - just as you say "If you prove religion you can prove absolute morality", I can say "If you prove the realm of forms you can prove morality". And just as you admit that people can question whether religion can be proven you can question whether the realm of forms can be proven, and so far they are on equal ground *until* you provide an argument that religion can be proven while the realm of forms cannot. So in terms of being capable of proving absolute morality *if true*, there are alternatives to religion.
The original question was based on the condition that religion could be proved, in which case it would establish an absolute morality. But yes, if something else existed and could be proven to sponsor morality, such as the realm of forms, or a cosmological absolute, or whatever--then yes, there would be other ways to have absolute morality. However, the question of whether any of these things actually do
exist is another argument altogether, and a much, much more spiky one at that.
So yes, there are other possible ways to have objective morality if those other ways can be proven, but I don't think things like the realm of forms or a cosmological absolute can be proven. However, theoretically, with enough historical and practical evidence, religion could be proved. It then comes down to the ancient dispute of whether the existing evidence for religion is sufficient to prove its existence.
Dark567 wrote:It's impossible to prove logic. Variance is obviously mistaken. Logic does though have three very basic premises that most people hold true.
Classical logics basic assumptions are as follows.
1. A=A, that is something is itself.
2. A != ~A, that is something that is true cannot be false
3. A V ~A, that is any preposition must be true or false.
Proving any of the above is impossible without logic, and proving them with logic is circular. So logic cannot be proved.(Although logic is the only sound, consistent and complete system that humans have ever come up with, hence why we put so much faith in it.
To answer your specific arguments in the final paragraph, existence is an absolute that cannot be denied; that doesn't require logic, it just is
, and to say that existence does not exist is wrong unconditionally. In much the same matter, logic has always worked and always will when it says that A=A or A!=B, by definition. So while you say it's a logical thing, I say it's an absolute thing which transcends even logic itself, because it is impossible to even hypothesize a scenario where logic does not work and exist, let alone have one be real.
Actually, and I just thought of this, the only undeniable absolutes are existence and non-existence; 0 and 1. This means all reasoning can be accomplished through these mediums, just as computers use such mechanical logic to prove everything else. That means that existence and nonexistence, 0 and 1, are the truest and basest components of logic, and on their own, as through a computer, can be used to simulate and prove everything else possible when in the context of the things that do exist, just as 0 and 1 can accomplish anything when in the context of what does exist in a computer, which is circuitry and computing apparatuses.
setzer777 wrote: Just out of curiosity, can you actually derive all of the rest of logic from those three? It seems like you would need more assumptions to have disjunctions and conditionals.
I would even go so far as to say that logic can be entirely derived from existence and non-existence, 0 and 1, just as it is in a computer. A=A and A!=B (A!=~A) are just extensions of those two. The fundamental one is A V ~A, which is existence or nonexistence, so you could actually prove everything with just that one statement.
inhahe wrote:I think that the idea of reducing all psychal phenomena, such as ethics and morality, to results of biological-evolutionary processes is just the scientistic trend du jour. It's too easy, too presumptuous, and too physicalistic. There is just no reason to reframe all living processes in terms of not necessarily living mechanisms, as if that's somehow a better explanation because it writes consciousness out of the equation. But it's definitely in-line with the scientistic thinking of the day.
I think the philosophy meme you noted persists because it does have a strong basis: in the secular viewpoint, we don't have souls, and consciousness therefore only can be a result of biology.
It's pretty much a logical truism that there is no undeniable axiom on which to base ethical assertions or moral values. It's simply a logical consequence of the type of idea that morality is. It's virtually a tautology, and therefore to draw any further inferences from it regarding morality's origins, legitimacy or general nature is convoluted thinking.
I think it's a bit misguided to say that one can't question morality, which is certainly not a fundamental and irrefutable absolute itself. Either it's not correct or it needs to be made correct by something
, but I understand that our culture views morality largely the way you said.
To decry the objectivity, foundations or "correctness" of morality on this basis is pretty much saying that "you can't prove i shouldn't stab my girlfriend to death and then eat her liver for a momentary thrill, so I might as well since there's nothing objectively wrong with that." If you want to commit murder upon your neighbor just because you don't see a reason not to, go ahead, but your logic won't make you not a monster. It won't make you not sick, not perverse, or not inhuman.
That's a great and very descriptive scenario. However, it does come down to whether morality can be proved right or not, because to call someone or their actions monstrous and evil assumes morality is already proven. However, go and ask someone how the scenario you described is evil, and they'll say it's immoral. Why is it immoral? Because it violates the rights of another (if you get a politcal philosopher.), and the whole liver thing is cannibalism, which is also bad. Why is it wrong to violate others' rights, or be a cannibal? It's either God says so, or, "It just is wrong
". Absent God, most people hold morality itself as an absolute, which is most certainly not the case.
The reason we do not understand the objective or quasi-objective bases for morality or ethics is that we don't have a basic understanding of life and what a human, or any other animal, actually, truly is. So instead of trying a bottom-up approach where you understand 'by proxy', in a sort of presumptuous and non-specific sense, life in terms of biology and natural selection, try understanding it from a top-down approach that eschews all rigid and limiting paradigms, such as those of evolutionary biology, physicalism, reductionism and scientism. Subtler things exist in reality than what is lent to by a purely empirical and mechanistic paradigm.
But of course, morality must be correct for some
reason. Science won't find that for you; it will tell you, particularly through evolutionary biology, sociology, and psychology, why we have the morals we have; but they can't explain if, ultimately, those morals are good things. All they can show is that "good" morals advance the culture and "bad" ones don't, but that has little weight when we can call the idea of helping people and forming stable societies into question as ultimately good, or even call the idea of goodness into question.
Edit: Grammar everywhere.