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Conscience, Our Only Moral Authority

Discussion in 'Ethics and Morals' started by joe1776, May 4, 2021.

  1. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    You haven't argued with my post in the OP. I don't agree with your overall position, for example, you wrote:

    Rather there are standards that are understandings, meanings that never change that are apart of cause and effect for the living. Honesty is one such moral.

    Honesty is usually the right thing to do, but not always. For example, as a morally good German in 1939, your chances of surviving and saving Jews would be much increased if you were to join the Nazi Party and deceive them into thinking that you were a believer in their cause. That's basically what Oskar Schindler did to save 1,200 Jews during WW2.
     
  2. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    You seem to be trying very hard to complicate a simple question. In the case of the State v. Sally, Sally doesn't deny that she killed her husband Harry, but she claims it was done in justifiable self-defense. If we assume that you don't know Harry or Sally personally, is there any reason in the world that you wouldn't be able to hear the facts and render a verdict without bias?
     
  3. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    No, you failed to understand.

    Adultery is a moral issue and also a criminal issue in many countries both today and historically.

    What is the objective moral position on the acceptable punishment for adultery that an ancient Roman, a Mongol, a modern Californian Progressive, a Viking would all agree on?

    If it helps:

    Can the man kill his wife? Can he inflict a savage beating? Can he give her a bit of a slap? Does she deserve punishment, but only after a trial by the government/tribal elders/etc? Has she committed no crime and should face no punishment?

    Can the man kill the other man who cuckolded him and stole his honour? Can he inflict a savage beating? Can he give him a bit of a slap? Can he challenge him to a duel to the death? A fair fight? Does he deserve punishment, but only after a trial by the government/tribal elders/etc? Has he committed no crime and should face no punishment?

    Let's say the husband gives his wife a bit of a slap, nothing too bad, just a couple of black eyes. He then challenges the man to a duel to the death and kills him in a fair fight.

    How does the transhistorical and transcultural 'unbiased' person judge him? In the modern West he'd go to prison for life, in many historical cultures he would have been judged to have shown great restraint and acted with honour and virtue.
     
    #43 Augustus, May 4, 2021
    Last edited: May 4, 2021
  4. Wild Fox

    Wild Fox Well-Known Member

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    I agree, if not just instinctive certainly from the subconscious activity of the brain. Moral judgments are implicit, intuitive and anchored in emotion. We then use reasoning to correct ourselves or convince everyone else. The activation of the parts of the brain associated with emotion precede the activation of the rational parts of the brain.
     
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  5. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    That is your claim and I don't think you brought enough evidence to support that claim.
    And how does that bias come to be? If our instincts were moral, we shouldn't have biases. Our "conscience" is selfish and tribal if it isn't checked by our intellect.
     
  6. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    You do know that juries often sit through a case then reach a verdict that is not unanimous or are unable to even reach a majority verdict?

    Ever heard of re-trials?

    What about "miscarriages of justice" ?

    You seem to be trying to simplify something that is quite complex.
     
    #46 Secret Chief, May 5, 2021
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  7. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    That's handy for you; confusing for others.
     
  8. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    When you begin by asking "What is the objective moral position..." I know that you didn't understand the explanation I gave in the OP. In effect, you are asking me to make moral rules that might be applied to various cultures. Moral rules and laws are not merely unnecessary, they are potential biases.
     
  9. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    Stating something does not make it true.
     
  10. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I gave you a logical argument that included: Since the difference between right and wrong and fair and unfair can't be seen, tasted, smelled or heard, it must be 'felt.' We feel an unpleasant sensation produced by the pain function of our brains which can be interpreted as 'wrong' or 'unfair' depending on the situation. If we don't feel that signal, we can assume the act was justified or fair. We call this faculty 'conscience.'

    Do you not agree with the axiom that -- All knowledge begins with the senses?

    There is some recent science, starting in 2000, to support me but describing that would add considerable length to my argument.


    You're blaming conscience unfairly. Conscience is a moral guide only and it emerges from the unconscious (which is probably housed in the right side of the brain). The conscious ego, which includes the troublemaker within us is responsible for the selfishness and misbehavior (probably housed in the left side of the brain).
     
  11. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    If you were correct, we would have, long ago, noticed a direct correlation between intelligence and moral conduct. Smart people would behave better than dumb people. We've never noticed that because that correlation doesn't exist.
     
    #51 joe1776, May 5, 2021
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  12. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    You are quibbling semantics rather than addressing the issue.

    You are unbiased on that case are you not?

    Just make a simple, instant judgement using your intuition.

    What does your intuition tell you is the correct response to this scenario?

    A husband finds his wife in bed with another man (if it makes any difference, there are no extenuating circumstances, they agree they had a happy marriage up to this point).

    Can the man kill his wife? Can he inflict a savage beating? Can he give her a bit of a slap? Does she deserve punishment, but only after a trial by the government/tribal elders/etc? Has she committed no crime and should face no punishment?

    Can the man kill the other man who cuckolded him and stole his honour? Can he inflict a savage beating? Can he give him a bit of a slap? Can he challenge him to a duel to the death? A fair fight? Does he deserve punishment, but only after a trial by the government/tribal elders/etc? Has he committed no crime and should face no punishment?

    Let's say the husband gives his wife a bit of a slap, nothing too bad, just a couple of black eyes. He then challenges the man to a duel to the death and kills him in a fair fight.

    What does your 'unbiased' moral intuition tell you in this case? Has either the man or woman committed a crime worthy of legal punishment? What should the punishment be?
     
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  13. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Why didn't you give me an answer to my question? All it would require is a yes or no.

    You ducked it because you don't want to admit that in the vast majority of cases, determining whether someone is biased or not in a moral case is a dirt-simple problem.
     
  14. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    Sorry, didn't duck it. Thought it was rhetorical. For the record your honour:
    My answer: Yes of course I could be a juror, hear a case and then express whether or not I thought the defendant was guilty or innocent of the crime/s they were charged with. There may well be biases in my thinking, as there will be in that of the other 11 jurors.

    You think bias and morality are dirt-simple. I don't and nothing you have said causes me to think otherwise.
     
  15. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I can't possibly answer your questions because they only reveal your misunderstanding of the argument in the OP.

    Here's a clue that might get you on the right track: Are you familiar with Joseph Fletcher's "situational ethics?" Fletcher's hypothesis was partially right. Each moral situation must be judged as a unique case.

    For example, I met a black man with a French surname. When I commented on it, he told me rather proudly that he descended from slaves owned by a man who treated his slaves with kindness, including giving them an education. When we consider how his slaves might have been treated by the typical slave owner of the day, this French slave owner's actions were morally good, IMO. He gave people a better life than they otherwise could expect given the conditions of the time and place.
     
  16. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    You are contradicting yourself.

    You claimed moral intuition was not culturally contingent :handpointdown:

    (what I said was intuitive judgements are to some extent shaped by culture in a dynamic, 2 way process)

    You now claim intuitive moral judgements are indeed culturally contingent.

    And survival is environmentally dependent, as, to some extent, is culture.

    It would make no sense if:

    a) conscience was about survival
    b) conscience is not environmentally (and thus culturally) contingent

    And if moral intuition is culturally contingent, then there is no such thing as "unbiased", only more or less likely to be biased based on numerous contingencies.
     
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  17. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    You thought it was rhetorical because the answer is obviously 'yes' --- as it would be in the overwhelming majority of cases. Unless we ourselves are involved in the case, or we know the people who are involved with the case, we are capable of unbiased judgments. Biases that we may have that are not relevant to the case, don't matter.

    So, the argument that groups unbiased on a moral judgment are hard to find is nonsense.
     
  18. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    The claims you made in your OP you have failed to provide any support for. My answer was yes, but that provides no support for your simplistic opinions on bias, morality, law, criminality and justice. So please do not take my "yes" as any sort of confirmation, because it isn't.
     
  19. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    There's no contradiction on my part. Maybe this will help:

    Factor 1: the intuitive conscience
    Factor 2: the facts of the situation to be judged
    Factor 3: biases

    The cultural environment can affect factors 2 and 3 but not factor 1 which is aligned with survival.
    For example, in the French slave owner's situation, the cultural environment affected factor 2.
     
    #59 joe1776, May 5, 2021
    Last edited: May 5, 2021
  20. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    You still contradict yourself.

    You judged that the man was good because he was better than those around him.

    Today, most people see slavery as a great moral crime. Being a 'good master' still makes you guilty of a great moral crime.

    If moral intuition is not culturally dependant, the man intuitively knew what he was doing was a great moral crime as his intuition told him that yet he still chose to exploit the slaves and support the slave trade.


    What is good for survival is environmentally dependant. This is a very obvious fact.

    Culture is a consequence of this.

    A very strict honour culture helps you survive in harsh, tribal environments. It is harmful in modern, wealthy cities where rights based models work better.

    Going back to the adultery example, a cuckold who didn't restore his honour via violence or other restitution would be a social pariah.

    Due to cultural conditioning this would be the intuitive response, they wouldn't intuitively think that the man and woman had their rights to sexual liberty that we have to just accept their right to commit adultery without punishment.

    Do you really think people conditioned into strict honour cultures like the Taliban have exactly the same moral intuitions as uber-liberal Progressives in California?
     
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