Sunday, 27 February 2011

Existence of objective morality

Two questions on an unrelated matter if I could beg a slight bit more of your time :

a) With regards to objective morality, could it simply exist in a Platonic sense with no need for a moral law giver (so that it truly could be objective "instead of from a subjective source like God"? (not my point but another poster's))

b) Is there any proof that objective morality exists in someway outside of naturalistic means? I encountered a poster and his two points were...
"Scientist do not consider what the believe is necessarily fact. Facts are empirical evidence. What scientists believe is knowledge based on theories and hypothesis based on falsification and predictive vale, which may change over time.

It is traditional theists are the ones that believe in facts that do not change.

As far as the evidence, it is abundant if you want to look [on the claim that all morality can be explained in a natural way]....One thing that is not available objectively is any evidence morality and ethics has a 'Source' other than natural evolution of behavior."

In the second, he claims that no morals are inconvenient to natural selection and moves on from there:
"It's not. Sometimes it's difficult to imagine how a certain trait or set of traits (e.g. altruism) might benefit a population. But a lack of imagination is no insight to necessity. In any case, no "evolutionary argument" is required to debunk the argument from objective morality.
The determination of the survival value of the nature of the gene pool is in response to natural forces and not human attempts based moral or ethical issues motivated to manipulate the genes pool .For example, (1) homosexuality will always be a small minority of the population by natural selection, because there is no survival value for those with these tendencies. The percentage of homosexuals in any given community does vary significantly, because of human efforts to prohibit or exterminate them. (2) People born with many variations of birth defects will be selected against naturally if they impact reproduction and survival. Actually in most cases their survival would not be a moral or ethical issue, it would be a matter of not successfully being able to reproduce or survive due to natural reasons, and not a deliberate selective process motivated by humans.

On the other hand human technological intervention in the modern world, may weaken the gene pool by encouraging the survival of genetic defects in the population that are unsuited for survival. This is where an artificial technological world creates moral and ethical problems that do not reflect natural morals and ethics.

Where morals and ethics come in survival and natural selection is, like in other higher animals, the need for family and community cooperation for the young to survive to adulthood, and reproduce. Altruism strengthens a population by pooling resources and promoting cooperation for problem solving and community survival"

I finally replied to the thread with a link to an article that deals with Nowak and the subject of morality and evolution and he replied: "Okay article, but the bottom line is morality, ethics and altruism may be explained by science through the natural processes of evolution, therefore it is not a good argument for the necessity of the existence of God."

Nicholas's Response Note the “not a good argument for the necessity of the existence of God”. The atheist tactic is to “raise the bar” for the rigor of the evidence to impossibly high levels and then say “you have no evidence” when what they (should) mean is “you have evidence, but not enough to convince me” (“they have Moses and the prophets”).

It is always logically possible that any observation which is explained by “hypothesis” X could just be a “brute fact”. The apple might just happen to fall to the ground and it could be pure coincidence that the same explanation accounts for the orbit of the moon and the planets. Nevertheless these observations are quite strong evidence for Newton’s hypothesis about gravity.

The morality issue is whether a moral statement (eg “Torturing babies for fun is wrong” – which I’ll call “TBFW”) can be said to be objectively true, and mean something different from statements like:
a. In my opinion TBFW
b. In our society Torturing babies for fun is considered wrong (TBFCW)
c. In most societies TBFCW
d. Evolution favours the emergence of a social norm that TBFW

Science cannot determine this question. It can offer evidence about b, c and d but the question of whether TBFW is a philosophical, not a scientific one. However there are grave problems with the view that TBFW is simply a matter of opinion or social convention. And IF you take the view that there are such things as objective moral statements, then “materialism” and “naturalism” both fall to the ground.

Your correspondent is also startlingly naive about human evolution. This occurs on linguistic and social levels as well as genetic and epigenetic. Human ideas and decisions drive human evolution to a very large extent – one need only mention “sexual selection”, a factor of which Darwin was very aware but which was generally overlooked by mostly male theorists since his time.

No comments:

Post a Comment