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Old 09-21-2010, 07:06 AM
 
Location: Kent, Ohio
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I'd like to hear some thoughts on whether there are any such thing as "objectively true moral precepts," and if so, how do we determine what they are. Are moral precepts the kinds of things that science can, at least in principle, discover?

I don't have any strong commitments to these ideas myself I'm still trying to formulate my own thoughts on this but at the moment I am leaning toward the idea that science can uncover some of the general foundations of morality. From these foundations, I think that logic and philosophical argumentation may lend themselves to explicating at least some specific precepts.

Anyone interested in pursuing this line of thought with me might want to take a look at this short article ("Sex and the Golden Rule") in which I briefly touch upon the two major themes that I have in mind at the moment. One is Donald Pfaff's neurobiological theory of the Golden Rule. The other is de Waal's theory that human morality evolved as social primates came to constrain their behavior in order to be social animals, and this may have begun when they banded together against threats from outsiders. The article focuses on sexual morality, but you can ignore that aspect, if you want, since the core ideas are relevant to morality in general.

I would also encourage you to take a look at this TED video of Sam Harris giving his reasons for thinking that we should be able to study moral percepts objectively: Sam Harris: "Science can answer moral questions"

A basic question might remain: Even if we do succeed in developing good biological and neurobiological theories about the origins and nature of human morality, would this satisfy our craving for a truly "objective" basis for moral reasoning?
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Old 09-21-2010, 07:09 AM
 
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There is no such thing as objective morality.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:13 AM
 
Location: Kent, Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultralight View Post
There is no such thing as objective morality.
Ok, I might be able to accept that. But merely making an assertion is not philosophy. Can you give some argument to this conclusion? WHY should I believe your assertion?
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaylenwoof View Post
Ok, I might be able to accept that. But merely making an assertion is not philosophy. Can you give some argument to this conclusion? WHY should I believe your assertion?
The issue revolves around the purpose of human existence. If there is no purpose (eg. Cosmic accident) . . . then any and all actions of the accident are irrelevant and moral distinctions are moot. The dominant animals decide. Science is a search for underlying truths . . . if there is no underlying truth to find . . . the search is pointless.
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
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Morality is a human concept and does not exist beyond the human mind. That doesn't make morality irrelevant of course, but you will never find "objective morality" in nature.
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Old 09-21-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
Morality is a human concept and does not exist beyond the human mind. That doesn't make morality irrelevant of course, but you will never find "objective morality" in nature.
Nor will you find it in any god or holy book.

With or without a creator, any "purpose" and/or morality for humanity is what we make it to be. For better or worse.
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Old 09-21-2010, 02:08 PM
 
Location: SE Florida
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I don't find the questioning silly but I do find the question running against a brick wall....

Why not just try "do the right thing". Youir beliefs can be spiritual in nature as mine are or they can be one that has been learned by a series of untruths.

Don't you believe it is your reasonable responsibility to discover the truth?
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Old 09-21-2010, 02:36 PM
 
Location: NZ Wellington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaylenwoof View Post
Ok, I might be able to accept that. But merely making an assertion is not philosophy. Can you give some argument to this conclusion? WHY should I believe your assertion?
Because all morality is subjected to the person who thought of it.
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Old 09-21-2010, 03:10 PM
 
31,385 posts, read 32,141,700 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaylenwoof View Post
One is Donald Pfaff's neurobiological theory of the Golden Rule. The other is de Waal's theory that human morality evolved as social primates came to constrain their behavior in order to be social animals, and this may have begun when they banded together against threats from outsiders.
I would think that both theories are correct. There have to be certain hardwired behaviors for a species to exist and there are adjustments to those behaviors that evolve over the course of time, particularly amongst higher level mammals.
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Old 09-21-2010, 05:19 PM
 
Location: Here&There
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Not at the moment, there just have been a consensus of the is-ought problem explained by Hume. Sam Harris is tackling the problem. I think with the advancement in neuroscience there can be a basic is-ought solution in the near future, that is, an objective morality.

Here's synopsis Sam did at TED.

YouTube - Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions
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