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  1. #1
    Enthusiast OblivionFall's Avatar

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    Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    Read this before posting! This Debate will make a lot more sense if you read the following definitions of terms.

    Values and Duties
    First, we should distinguish between moral values and duties. Values have to do with whether something is good or bad. Duties have to do with whether something is right or wrong. Now you might think at first that this is a distinction without a difference: “good” and “right” mean the same thing, and the same goes for “bad” and “wrong.” But if you think about it, you can see that this isn’t the case. Duty has to do with moral obligation, what you ought or ought not to do. But obviously you’re not morally obligated to do something just because it would be good for you to do it. For example, it would be good for you to become a doctor, but you’re not morally obligated to become a doctor. After all, it would also be good for you to become a firefighter or a homemaker or a diplomat, but you can’t do them all. So there’s a difference between good/bad and right/wrong. Good/bad has to do with something’s worth, while right/wrong has to do with something’s being obligatory.

    Objective Morality & Subjective Morality
    By “objective” I mean “independent of people’s opinions.” So to say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is good or bad independent of whatever people think about it. Similarly, to say that we have objective moral duties is to say that certain actions are right or wrong for us regardless of what people think about it.

    By “subjective” I mean “dependent on people’s opinions.” So to say that there are subjective moral values is to say that something is good or bad dependent of whatever people think about it. Similarly, to say that we have subjective moral duties is to say that certain actions are right or wrong because of what people think about it.

    ...

    Now, heres the topic of Debate. Do such things as right/wrong and good/bad exist Objectively, that is, regardless of what your society says or what you think? Or do these things exist Subjectively, that is, dependent on what your society says or what you think? GO!

  2. #2
    Global Champyon Stickid's Avatar



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    Re: Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    In a sense of pure objective perspective, I believe moral values and duties are completely subjective.
    We all grow up with a sense of right/wrong, good/bad, based on what our parents and peers tell us. I don't think there is any instinctive sense of morals in human beings, it's all inherited by one's surroundings.

    That being said, there are many different surroundings. Different families stress value on different things. Different states, countries, cultures. What's "normal" in one place isn't necessarily "normal" in another. Thus, different races and different regions form distinction between separate laws that keep order in place.

    Without instinct though, there really is no set standard of morals. Nothing is absolute or set in stone.

    Though you didn't mention Religion or God in this debate, I think it has a solid bearing on this subject. Belief in a higher being or authority has had a strong hold on people for countless generations. Some people base their sense of morals on the Bible/Koran/etc, because they believe in the values they teach and the benefits that can be found therein.

    If anything is written in stone about morals, it may as well be Religion-based, seeing as so many people trust in Holy writings or believe in a higher power that encourages them to live with decent moral values. These morals seem absolute because a "higher power" created them. But really, Religion is so tainted with man-made traditions and interpretations, it's impossible to tell which ideas are "absolute" or "acceptable by God himself".

    So if you don't believe in a higher power who gives a set of acceptable morals, the only sense of right and wrong you can draw from is based on your surroundings, making those values subjective. And seeing that Religion is based on the ideas of men, it also remains subjective.

    So really, I don't believe that objective morals even exist. We aren't born with any ideas of right, wrong, good, or bad. Our mind is an open container, and it's continuously filled with ideas from other sources, making every single thought in our mind entirely subjective.

  3. #3
    Enthusiast OblivionFall's Avatar

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    Re: Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stickid
    In a sense of pure objective perspective, I believe moral values and duties are completely subjective.
    We all grow up with a sense of right/wrong, good/bad, based on what our parents and peers tell us. I don't think there is any instinctive sense of morals in human beings, it's all inherited by one's surroundings.

    That being said, there are many different surroundings. Different families stress value on different things. Different states, countries, cultures. What's "normal" in one place isn't necessarily "normal" in another. Thus, different races and different regions form distinction between separate laws that keep order in place.

    Without instinct though, there really is no set standard of morals. Nothing is absolute or set in stone.

    Though you didn't mention Religion or God in this debate, I think it has a solid bearing on this subject. Belief in a higher being or authority has had a strong hold on people for countless generations. Some people base their sense of morals on the Bible/Koran/etc, because they believe in the values they teach and the benefits that can be found therein.

    If anything is written in stone about morals, it may as well be Religion-based, seeing as so many people trust in Holy writings or believe in a higher power that encourages them to live with decent moral values. These morals seem absolute because a "higher power" created them. But really, Religion is so tainted with man-made traditions and interpretations, it's impossible to tell which ideas are "absolute" or "acceptable by God himself".

    So if you don't believe in a higher power who gives a set of acceptable morals, the only sense of right and wrong you can draw from is based on your surroundings, making those values subjective. And seeing that Religion is based on the ideas of men, it also remains subjective.

    So really, I don't believe that objective morals even exist. We aren't born with any ideas of right, wrong, good, or bad. Our mind is an open container, and it's continuously filled with ideas from other sources, making every single thought in our mind entirely subjective.
    While this shows that our understanding of Objective morality could easily fallible, it doesn't show that objective morality doesn't exist. To say that Objective morality does not exist only because people often form their beliefs about Objective morality in a way that is non-logical commits the genetic fallacy.
    [spoiler:jan5z8i8]The genetic fallacy is when you say someones view is false because of how they got their belief. For example, consider the ancient Greek thinker Pythagoras. Pythagoras was a religious mystic who worshipped numbers and geometrical systems as part of a broader religious scheme which included a strict diet and belief in reincarnation. Few people are aware of this; today he is best known for being traditionally credited with discovering the famous mathematical formula known as Pythagorean Theorem which affirms that, “for any right triangle, the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides”.

    Now suppose someone were to reject Pythagorean theorem on the grounds that it was discovered by a odd religious mystic. This rejection would obviously be invalid. Even if tradition were correct in identifying Pythagoras with the discovery of this theorem, this does not mean that the theorem is false; its truth is determined by what the realities of math and geometery actually are, not by how Pythagoras came to discover them.

    A second example illustrates the same point. Some early defences of heliocentricism, the view that the planets in the solar system orbit the sun, originated in certain systems of sun mysticism. People worshipped the sun as a symbol of God and hence thought it fitting that the sun be at the centre. This fact about the origins of some beliefs about heliocentricism does nothing to show that heliocentricism is false. Its truth or falsity depends on location of different planets, not on how the idea was first formulated.[/spoiler:jan5z8i8]
    The view of Subjective morality has problems of its own.

    You will agree with me when I say that the Holocaust was wrong even though the Nazis who carried it out thought that it was right, and it would still have been wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in exterminating or brainwashing everybody who disagreed with them so that everyone believed the Holocaust was right.

    But here's the problem, if morality really is Subjective, then you could never say that these Nazis would have done anything wrong, because everyone would have believed that it was right.

    Now, you are correct in saying that Religion and God does have a solid bearing on this subject, and I do intend to bring this up later once this debate becomes more active. In later posts I will argue that only nihilism or belief in God are the only two rational stances one can take. But first I'd like more people to share their opinions on what they think.

  4. #4
    Global Champyon Stickid's Avatar



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    Re: Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    I think you may have taken my statements out of turn.

    Quote Originally Posted by OblivionFall
    To say that Objective morality does not exist only because people often form their beliefs about Objective morality in a way that is non-logical commits the genetic fallacy.
    "Genetic fallacy" is taking the subject in a shallow perspective I think. I never mentioned that subjective opinions we develop in our lives could be in fact right or wrong. My point was, what other opinions can we have? We are born with an open mind and it is filled by the things around it.

    In a very pure sense, there are no original ideas. Everything we create is based on something that is already here. There's no way of avoiding it. Learning, in itself, is subjective.

    Quote Originally Posted by OblivionFall
    But here's the problem, if morality really is Subjective, then you could never say that these Nazis would have done anything wrong, because everyone would have believed that it was right.
    It's true, the Holocaust was awful, and I'm sure many Nazi's felt that they were "right". They probably felt this way because of the environment they grew up in and the opinions they developed subjectively. This wouldn't make them right, because on a global scale they were proved wrong by the sheer mass of other subjective opinions.

    Is subjective morality fallible? Absolutely. After all, it is filled only by human ideas and beliefs. Nothing is black and white. Sure, we both feel that the Holocaust was "wrong". But you can't argue that our sense of "right" and "wrong" isn't based on our surroundings. Everything we know comes from someone/something else. If perhaps we lived in a different world, with different circumstances and ideas, we may in fact feel that the Holocaust was "right".

    If you really broaden your perspective, it's easy to realize that there is no defined sense of right and wrong that ISN'T based on another's opinion.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Alca's Avatar
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    Re: Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    I think Morality was just invented by man, If there was no law, morals wouldn't exist. People would not be taught right from wrong because there would be no consequences.


    The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.

  6. #6
    Regular Member TehReeves's Avatar
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    Re: Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    Objective or subjective, the consequences resulting from one's actions paint a clear enough picture. Whether my values are learned or inherent, based on the reaction to my personal values, positive, I can conclude that I'm morally a good person, accepted within human society.

    My actions receive a positive response from those I associate with. Or I just associate with S&M enthusiasts. Make of that what you will.
    [center:19x36b4n]v Click For Music Thread v[/center:19x36b4n]
    [center:19x36b4n][/center:19x36b4n]
    [center:19x36b4n]"And by the way it's not about making money, it's about taking money.
    Destroying the status quo because the status is not quo.
    The world is a mess and I just need to... rule it."
    [/center:19x36b4n]

  7. #7
    Enthusiast OblivionFall's Avatar

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    Re: Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    I apologize for reading you wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stickid
    Quote Originally Posted by OblivionFall
    But here's the problem, if morality really is Subjective, then you could never say that these Nazis would have done anything wrong, because everyone would have believed that it was right.
    It's true, the Holocaust was awful, and I'm sure many Nazi's felt that they were "right". They probably felt this way because of the environment they grew up in and the opinions they developed subjectively. This wouldn't make them right, because on a global scale they were proved wrong by the sheer mass of other subjective opinions.
    I think you may have missed this part.
    Quote Originally Posted by OblivionFall
    ..and it would still have been wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in exterminating or brainwashing everybody who disagreed with them so that everyone believed the Holocaust was right.
    And Yes, I agree with you that knowledge is subjective. And while people say they believe right and wrong are subjective, they don't seem to take this view seriously. When morals become wholly dependent on society, then someone who murders someone else becomes comparable to the man who burped loudly at the dinner table. Evil simply just becomes just another word for unfashionable or impolite.
    Quote Originally Posted by TehReeves
    Objective or subjective, the consequences resulting from one's actions paint a clear enough picture. Whether my values are learned or inherent, based on the reaction to my personal values, positive, I can conclude that I'm morally a good person, accepted within human society.

    My actions receive a positive response from those I associate with. Or I just associate with S&M enthusiasts. Make of that what you will.
    Moral Relativism. I see problems with this form of Subjective values also. There was a practice in India called Sati where a widow would throw herself onto her husbands funeral pyre. This practice was thought highly of in India before it was colonized. If you were a widow in those days, throwing yourself onto your husbands funeral pyre to burn alive would elict a positive response from people you associate with, and if you didn't kill yourself you would get a negative response. Would you look at a Widow who practiced Sati as a morally good person based on the reactions of the others in her society?

    There is a way you can escape this problem... for now... What about instead of plain Relativism, you could adopt the view that morality is grounded in human wellbeing, then you could say Sati is wrong and you could also say that the Holocaust would still be wrong even if everyone who disagreed was brainwashed and exterminated, because that would result in human suffering. This view is put forward by prominent Neuroscientist, Sam Harris. What do you think of this view?

  8. #8
    Regular Member TehReeves's Avatar
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    Re: Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    You raise an excellent point. I suppose a more apt phrase would be relativism in terms of human well-being, which goes back to your dilemma or good, bad, right, and wrong. It's a complicated issue. I'd just like everyone to be happy, and preferably not crispy. Myself included.
    [center:19x36b4n]v Click For Music Thread v[/center:19x36b4n]
    [center:19x36b4n][/center:19x36b4n]
    [center:19x36b4n]"And by the way it's not about making money, it's about taking money.
    Destroying the status quo because the status is not quo.
    The world is a mess and I just need to... rule it."
    [/center:19x36b4n]

  9. #9
    Senior Member hjaltithehun=HTH's Avatar
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    Re: Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    Notice how morality is only present in social creatures? It's very likely that morality is there only to keep small society's together. A group of humans that don't kill each other is probably going to do better than a group that constantly kills its own and doesn't have any rules. Thus morals are needed. Simply put morality is a mans/animals invention, there is no objective morality for morality is only a animal concept and there is no real reason to think that morality is objective.

  10. #10
    lucien is queen Hazzystan's Avatar

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    Re: Moral Values and Duties: Objective or Subjective?

    Whether you believe that your morals were bestowed upon you by a celestial grandad or not, morality still almost wholly depends on society. You claim to have truth of objective morality, but this claim to truth is based upon the subjective values of your culture and religion. Similarly, a Muslim living in Pakistan will claim to have a completely different truth of morality for the same reasons as you. Claims to objective morality are completely subjective to the culture, which makes it obvious that culture is the agent of religious morality in every case, not God. There have been 63,000 recorded religions in history, with most of them making a seperate claim to know what the objective moral values are. This should lead you to think that even if objective morality does exist, it's not likely that you know what these values are.

    I want as much as anyone else for a unified moral theory to exist. However, trying to be good by appeasing whatever God or Goddess or Demigod you follow definitely isn't the way. Morality should be based on doing what's best for your fellow man. We might not have learned how to do that yet or what "what's best" really entails, but that definitely doesn't mean that we need some sort of celestial permission to be good.
    what is homo love?


 
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