Test Your Morality

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  • ethang5
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    Let us do a thought experiment.

    Let us agree that immoral actions are bad.

    Not just that immoral actions break a certain moral code, but immoral actions are "not good" in an empirical way.

    Given this scenario, is it possible to say why  an immoral action is bad?

    Sure, we could point to the "bad" an action caused, but that would only prove that the action caused bad in the world, the question remains, even if we all agree that the action caused bad, what makes "bad" immoral?

    What makes "bad" of lesser value than good?

    So murder is immoral. But exactly why is it immoral? Can there be any reason that is not based on someone's tastes?

    Can your moral code give us an moral action that is empirically "bad"?

    If it cannot, how is your morality different from your personal tastes?
  • EtrnlVw
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    Not that this has any relevance to your questions but I find it easier to divide morality into two categories

    The self

    And 

    Interaction with others

    Then another category

    Positive 

    And

    Negative
    Given this scenario, is it possible to say why  an immoral action is bad?

    I believe so. I would say that anything that falls into the negative category could possibly be explained why an action is bad. 

    the question remains, even if we all agree that the action caused bad, what makes "bad" immoral?

    Because it conflicts with a higher standard of living, thinking and acting? 

    What makes "bad" of lesser value than good?

    Hmm, good question. This changes the dynamics a bit...if it is true that there exists a universal law and we reap what we sow I don't know if one has lesser value, in terms of learning from our mistakes. I may have to add another category lol. 

    So murder is immoral. But exactly why is it immoral? Can there be any reason that is not based on someone's tastes?

    Sure, if it falls into one of the categories. I believe the categories are there to separate subjective from objective. 

    Can your moral code give us an moral action that is empirically "bad"?

    According to the categories that would be impossible I would think. 

    If it cannot, how is your morality different from your personal tastes?

    Again, I made the categories to define what is positive and what is negative. So my personal taste would be irrellevant. Is it that simple to define what is positive and negative? are there grey areas? it is possible but I think generally speaking it's pretty easy to tell what action falls into what category....is this going to have a negative impact on myself or another, or is this action going to have a positive impact on myself or another. 

    When we talk about murder I think it's pretty cut and dry, however when we talk about killing it could be a bit trickier because now we have the dynamic of justification. But even then, I would say that no matter the scenerio, the justification could fall into one of those categories. 
    All in all I could be wrong about all of this. Just my take on it anyways and something to ponder...








  • TwoMan
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    "Bad" and "immoral" are synonyms for each other according to the dictionary. They can mean essentially the same thing. Therefore, if an action is immoral, it is tautologically bad. Any action can be objectively determined to be good or bad depending on where it resides on a given moral scale. The trickier question of yours is that of value. I can imagine an immoral act that is of negative value to one person and positive value to another (theft, for example). An individual's perspective relative to an action would decide its value.
  • ethang5
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    --> @TwoMan
    So then, how is morality different from personal tastes?
  • ethang5
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    --> @EtrnlVw
    But you simply picked your own "categories". Someone else might pick different categories, or put different things in the categories you picked. How is this not based on your tastes?

    Can your moral code give us an moral action that is empirically "bad"?

    According to the categories that would be impossible I would think.
    Then that must mean that morality doesn't exist!

    Is there a way to tell a personal taste from a moral truth?
  • ethang5
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    --> @EtrnlVw
    But you simply picked your own "categories". Someone else might pick different categories, or put different things in the categories you picked. How is this not based on your tastes?

    Can your moral code give us an moral action that is empirically "bad"?

    According to the categories that would be impossible I would think.
    Then that must mean that morality doesn't exist!

    Is there a way to tell a personal taste from a moral truth?
  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @TwoMan
    "Bad" and "immoral" are synonyms for each other according to the dictionary. They can mean essentially the same thing. Therefore, if an action is immoral, it is tautologically bad. Any action can be objectively determined to be good or bad depending on where it resides on a given moral scale. The trickier question of yours is that of value. I can imagine an immoral act that is of negative value to one person and positive value to another (theft, for example). An individual's perspective relative to an action would decide its value.
    Well stated.
  • TwoMan
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    --> @ethang5
    So then, how is morality different from personal tastes?
    That depends on how a moral scale is created. If you create one using only your personal tastes, then it isn't different. If you create one using religious dogma or empathy, logic and the wisdom of humanity through the ages you might find that some actions do not align with your own personal tastes.

  • ethang5
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    --> @TwoMan
    True. So then let me ask you.

    Do you have a moral code?

    Is there anything in the moral code you believe/use that is not your personal taste?
  • TwoMan
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    --> @ethang5
    Is there anything in the moral code you believe/use that is not your personal taste?
    Yes. I won't go into it in detail though. Suffice it to say that I desire things that would not be morally appropriate to attain.

  • EtrnlVw
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    --> @ethang5
    But you simply picked your own "categories".

    I picked positive and negative, not the contents. Is positive and negative or what is immoral and moral the discussion at hand?

    Someone else might pick different categories

    Lol what are the other options?

    or put different things in the categories you picked. How is this not based on your tastes?

    It might be as I admitted I could be wrong. However I don't think it is all that complicated to decide whether or not an action is negative or positive. 

    Then that must mean that morality doesn't exist!

    Is there a way to tell a personal taste from a moral truth?

    I expressed no personal taste as far as I know. All I did was create two categories. Notice the categories don't say immoral and moral, it's what actions produce a negative or a positive. 

  • ethang5
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    --> @TwoMan
    Is there anything in the moral code you believe/use that is not your personal taste?

    Yes. I won't go into it in detail though.
    Fair enough. But now we're getting somewhere.

    Suffice it to say that I desire things that would not be morally appropriate to attain.
    OK, let's break that down. You're in a restaurant and the guy at the next table is eating something you didn't know you could order but you find it very desirable. It would be wrong to amble over to his table and start eating his food. I'm sure that isn't what you mean by "desiring things that would not be morally inappropriate to attain "right?

    So first question, is it the desire itself that that is morally appropriate? Or simply the  attaining of what you desire? What exactly is immoral about desiring or attaining what you desire? Is the immorality in how you attain it?

    Second question, if we accept that you desire something that would not be morally appropriate to attain, who is it making the law that it would be immoral?

    You are not following your desire. What are you following? On what is your belief that this thing would be immoral to attain based if not your desire?

    I will understand if you feel the questions too personal.
  • ethang5
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    --> @EtrnlVw
    I picked positive and negative, not the contents.
    But by deciding which was positive or negative, you did pick the contents.

    Is positive and negative or what is immoral and moral the discussion at hand?
    What makes something immoral or moral is what is the discussion at hand.

    Lol what are the other options?
    Profitable and unprofitable. Old and new. Pretty and ugly. Caucasian and negroid. Or to the person, what is a "positive" to you, is a negative to them. Or a person may have no "categories" at all.

    The bottom line is that you are still picking based on your tastes.

    It might be as I admitted I could be wrong.
    Sorry. I don't mean to imply that you're wrong. I'm only asking on what are your moral categories based?

    However I don't think it is all that complicated to decide whether or not an action is negative or positive. 
    Sure, but everyone would not all come to the same conclusions about what was negative or positive. The question is not what is negative or positive, but what made something negative or positive. 

    I expressed no personal taste as far as I know.
    Well, that is what I'm trying to find out.

    All I did was create two categories. Notice the categories don't say immoral and moral, it's what actions produce a negative or a positive. 
    Sorry, the thought experiment said we would agree that immoral actions are "bad", and I equated your "negative" to bad. You seem to be placing value on positive and negative. And that is an expression of taste.

    For example, could another person decide an action was positive that you thought was negative? Then one or both of you are deciding on personal taste.
  • TwoMan
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    --> @ethang5
    So first question, is it the desire itself that that is morally appropriate? Or simply the  attaining of what you desire? What exactly is immoral about desiring or attaining what you desire? Is the immorality in how you attain it?
    To desire is to be human. There is no immorality in thinking that something is desirable. Acting upon a desire that might harm another in some way is what is immoral (according to my moral code).

    Second question, if we accept that you desire something that would not be morally appropriate to attain, who is it making the law that it would be immoral?
    That would be my personal moral code that is based on empathy, logic and the wisdom of humanity through the ages. There is probably not much difference between mine and one based on religious dogma. An overly simple description of it would be a scale that emphasizes the maximum amount of suffering for all sentient beings at one end and the least amount of suffering at the other. Does a given action fall closer to one end of the scale or the other? That determines if the action is immoral.

    Where I might differ from religious morality is regarding self abuse. I would be interested in your opinion on this. I see morality as a guide to interacting with other sentient beings. I'm on the fence as to whether it is immoral to harm oneself. That assumes that there is nobody that will know of or care about my self abuse. In that way, I would not harm someone else by harming myself. I would need to decide if the suffering from my self abuse is greater than whatever pleasure I receive from it. Even then, I'm not sure if it applies to my moral code. I've read many of your posts and would guess that based on your religious nature, you would consider self abuse to be immoral from that perspective. Or do you, perhaps, lean more libertarian than that?
  • ethang5
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    --> @TwoMan
    To desire is to be human. There is no immorality in thinking that something is desirable.
    Agreed.

    Acting upon a desire that might harm another in some way is what is immoral (according to my moral code).
    OK. If I acted upon my desire that, in your estimation, harmed another person in some way, but I disagreed about whether  it did harm another person, would you judge my action by my moral code that absolves me, or your moral code that convicts me?

    If you say I did not act immorally, then morally to you is based on personal taste. Just that everyone goes by their own personal taste, and you can never can never call another person's action immoral if their personal moral codes absolves them.

    If you say I did act immorally, then you are judging me by your moral code and ignoring mine. You don't have the moral authority to do that. There is no reason for another person's actions to judged by your moral code.

    That would be my personal moral code that is based on empathy, logic and the wisdom of humanity through the ages.
    But clearly people interpret those things differently. Sulimani has access to the same "wisdom of humanity through the ages" and yet had a very different morality to yours. And his morality was probably closer to his great grandfather than your morality is to yours.

    Does a given action fall closer to one end of the scale or the other? That determines if the action is immoral.
    That is rational, but is still based on your personal taste. I still see no real difference between your personal taste and your morality.

    I'm on the fence as to whether it is immoral to harm oneself.
    I sense an internal contradiction. If you believe this;

    An overly simple description of it would be a scale that emphasizes the maximum amount of suffering for all sentient beings at one end and the least amount of suffering at the other. That determines if the action is immoral.
    Then why is your own action directed towards yourself exempt? 

    I think you have stumbled across one of the 3 truths of morality. #3. Morality is determined by authority, and since we assume we have authority over self, perhaps that authority absolves us.
    (The others are #1 - Intent and #2 - Relationship)

    I would need to decide if the suffering from my self abuse is greater than whatever pleasure I receive from it.
    That is a morality based on pleasure. It is extremely dangerous, as anyone can decide whether the suffering from their abuse of another is greater than whatever pleasure they receive from it. Rapists and child molesters operate on that principle. (NOT implying you are such)

    I've read many of your posts and would guess that based on your religious nature, you would consider self abuse to be immoral from that perspective.
    Yes, I think self abuse is immoral. But we might differ on what "abuse" is. Neither my body or my life is owned by me, thus I cannot morally do just anything with either.

    That was a very good post. Just the sort of intellectual exchange I came here looking for. If you can, would it be possible for you to gave some examples of what you consider "self- abuse"?

  • zedvictor4
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    --> @ethang5
    As far as we are aware, morality is confined to one Earthbound organic species which may or may not have any greater universal significance other than that described.

    Morality results from the ability of the species to understand, store, recall and utilise data and thereby apply concepts to their existence, both individually and collectively.

    The "test" is no more than just another concept of indeterminate significance, In so much as we are not able to actually be aware or unaware of our universal importance or unimportance.
  • Athias
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    --> @ethang5
    Let us do a thought experiment.

    Let us agree that immoral actions are bad.

    Not just that immoral actions break a certain moral code, but immoral actions are "not good" in an empirical way.

    Given this scenario, is it possible to say why  an immoral action is bad?

    Sure, we could point to the "bad" an action caused, but that would only prove that the action caused bad in the world, the question remains, even if we all agree that the action caused bad, what makes "bad" immoral?

    What makes "bad" of lesser value than good?

    So murder is immoral. But exactly why is it immoral? Can there be any reason that is not based on someone's tastes?

    Can your moral code give us an moral action that is empirically "bad"?

    If it cannot, how is your morality different from your personal tastes?
    The issue I find with your query is that your intention is to exclude personal tastes (subjective values) rather than include them. Morality in part is based on personal tastes. While the application of morality to just the individual would be irrelevant--as demonstrated in TwoMan's description--moral frameworks are based on the concept self-interest. It's also important to remember that moral analysis takes place between man and his social environment, not just man and himself. So let's use TwoMan's example: I'm a thief who steals from someone else. Now this provides an immediate positive value for me (acquiring something I didn't have before) and an immediate negative value for the other person. But what if that person, whom I robbed, has a gun hidden? And in an act of reprisal, the other person shoots me in my back, resulting in paralysis, and takes back that which I had stolen. I sacrificed long-term positive values for an immediate short-term value because I didn't consider the risks of pursuing and manifesting certain values.

    Morality as a framework for social interaction ought to offer each individual his or her own optimal path to pursuing his or her happiness/contentment. If I wanted 200 dollars for example that I didn't have, one way to get it would be rob someone; or I could just wait until I get paid at my job, or ask a friend or family member, actions which would reduce risks of reprisal. "Bad" is anything that violates or infringes on an individual's capacity to pursue his or her self interest through a (morally) consistent framework. And one last point: morality is not about that which we can do. After all, we can do anything. It's about that which we ought to do, an argument that's fundamentally normative. And therefore, subject to personal values.


  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @Athias
    It's about that which we ought to do, an argument that's fundamentally normative. And therefore, subject to personal values.
    Well stated.
  • TwoMan
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    If you say I did not act immorally, then morally to you is based on personal taste. Just that everyone goes by their own personal taste, and you can never can never call another person's action immoral if their personal moral codes absolves them.

    If you say I did act immorally, then you are judging me by your moral code and ignoring mine. You don't have the moral authority to do that. There is no reason for another person's actions to judged by your moral code.
    If your action violated my moral code then I would find you to have acted immorally. I do have the moral authority to do that. That happens all the time. I just don't have the legal authority to do anything about it. You mentioned Sulemani. His moral code would be frowned upon in this culture. Do you find him to be immoral? Do you have the moral authority to make such a determination? Of course you do. Do you have the legal authority to assassinate him? No. Did our president? Possibly.

    What about two people who share the same moral code but still disagree as to whether your action was immoral? Happens all the time. Then it's not so much a moral code being about personal taste, but the interpretation and implementation of the code that appears to be personal taste but is more likely a matter of different data processing, emotion and other influences.

    A non-religious moral code is not necessarily personal taste. It can be based on any number of things. Hopefully logically sound concepts that can show a demonstrable and agreed upon "good" and "bad. Consistency is also important, otherwise it might look a lot like personal taste if your definition of good and bad are constantly vacillating.
  • ethang5
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    --> @zedvictor4
    So you are staunchly materialistic and do not believe morality actually exists.

    I disagree with you, but we cannot debate about a concept you believe doesn't exist.

    I do support your right to believe as you wish though.
  • ethang5
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    --> @Athias
    The issue I find with your query is that your intention is to exclude personal tastes
    Not really my intention. I will explain below.

    Morality in part is based on personal tastes. 
    True. And I am asking, first, should it be? And second, if it is based on personal tastes, how can anyone's personal tastes be an "ought" for another person?

    Morality as a framework for social interaction ought to offer each individual his or her own optimal path to pursuing his or her happiness/contentment.
    Then the system of everyone having his own moral code has not worked very well has it? This is why we have jails, police, and courts.

    My point is that when morality is used only as a framework for social interaction, and is based on personal taste, moral chaos is the only possible result. So societies produced a "morality" and officers to force us into a single moral code called the law.

    "Bad" is anything that violates or infringes on an individual's capacity to pursue his or her self interest through a (morally) consistent framework.
    But everyone has a different idea of what a morally consistent framework is. This is saying how things ought to be. But things are never that way, and have never been that way. Your comment amounts to the impotent "We should all get along".

    And one last point: morality is not about that which we can do. After all, we can do anything. It's about that which we ought to do,
    Thank you! And what we ALL ought to do cannot be set by the personal tastes of a few. "Ought" implies a moral imperative for all.

    I'm asking, "What makes a morality an ought?"

    If you believe like Zed, that morality is only subjective, then no morality is an "ought" for everyone. Only people who accept a certain moral code are bound to that morality.

    If you believe, like I do, that there is a moral code that IS an ought for everyone, then that moral code is the most coherent standard on which to base a framework for social interaction.

    ..an argument that's fundamentally normative. And therefore, subject to personal values.
    Not necessarily. This is true only if we first accept the materialist's view of reality.

    And still, the materialist must tell us why we should follow his moral code, and why we are immoral if we don't.

  • ethang5
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    --> @TwoMan
    If your action violated my moral code then I would find you to have acted immorally. I do have the moral authority to do that. 
    I don't mean you cannot say it. I mean your saying it means nothing to whether I have really been immoral or not.

    Let me quickly try to explain "authority" in the context of morality. It is very different from "authority" in the context of legality.

    A husband has moral authority to sexually touch his wife. A father has the moral authority to make decisions for his child. Your doctor has the moral authority to cut into your body.

    Anyone can touch your wife sexually, or make decisions for a child, or cut you, but not everyone has the moral authority to do those things.

    I just don't have the legal authority to do anything about it.
    You would have to be King or Dictator to be able to "do something" about someone breaking your personal moral code.

    That is the definition of fascism and tyranny. Judging and punishing others based on your personal tastes.

    His moral code would be frowned upon in this culture. Do you find him to be immoral?
    Yes, but not because he broke my personal moral code.

    Do you have the moral authority to make such a determination?
    If the moral code I used to do so is an "ought" for everyone, yes. If it is my personal moral code, Sulimani is not morally obligated to observe it.

    Do you have the legal authority to assassinate him? No. Did our president? Possibly.
    Legal authority is not the same as moral authority.

    What about two people who share the same moral code but still disagree as to whether your action was immoral? Happens all the time. 
    Illogical. If they share the same moral code, they cannot judge the same action differently. A moral code is like a standard of measure. You are saying two people using the same unit of measurement can come to different answers for a fixed distance.

    Then it's not so much a moral code being about personal taste, but the interpretation and implementation of the code that appears to be personal taste but is more likely a matter of different data processing, emotion and other influences.
    Again illogical, for this view renders standards as irrelevant. A moral code is a standard, like the meter. It is not subject to interpretation. It cannot be if it is to be useful.

    Can you imagine how much choas would ensue if everyone had their own "interpretation" for how long a meter was?

    A non-religious moral code is not necessarily personal taste.
    I did not say it was.

    It can be based on any number of things. 
    And if those things were chosen by the person themselves, then it is based on their personal tastes.

    Hopefully logically sound concepts that can show a demonstrable and agreed upon "good" and "bad. 
    Do you know any moral code agreed upon by all? Even if we restrict it to only your culture?

    There was a time everyone believed sacrificing a virgin was "good". True morality should not be about how many people "agree".

    Consistency is also important, otherwise it might look a lot like personal taste if your definition of good and bad are constantly vacillating.
    That is exactly what happens! And when definitions of good and bad constantly vacillate, it cannot be anything other than taste.

    Any society is fine to pick their morality based on anything they think works for them, but if the bases is personal taste, that morality lacks the moral authority to be an "ought" to anyone not sharing those tastes.

    And so our societies fester with jails, prisons, police, armies, judges and courts. Everyone following his own tastes and expecting others do so too.
  • Deb-8-a-bull
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    --> @ethang5
    Are there somethings / acts that can be described as moral for a Male but immoral for a female?


  • ethang5
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    --> @Deb-8-a-bull
    Not off the top of my head but would not be surprised if there was such an act. My guess is one can be found with a good enough semantic trick.
  • zedvictor4
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    --> @ethang5
    For me there is an obvious distinction to be made between "actual existence" and "conceptuality".

    Are you suggesting that morality is an extra-human set of principles?    if so, where, when and how is morality generated.

    I fail to see how morality is anything other than a subjective human construct. Something established to a certain degree, but nonetheless something that is stored as sequenced data, rather than something that can actually be described as existent.

    Notwithstanding the fact that existent also defines, having reality. Though I think that there is also an obvious distinction to be made between what is assumed to be actual reality, and the reality of thought.  Which in essence is the same as the distinction between "actual existence" and "conceptuality".

    So I suppose that I am philosophically materialistic.