I’m just not going to respond to these points. Sorry for ducking this stuff, but my only intention with that video was to make my point a bit more clear. I知 just not interested in defending Matt痴 lecture as its own piece, because I didn稚 write it. Part 2/6 contained the very basics of the argument, which lays the groundwork for my points. Most of your criticisms seem to be about the definitions of words and presentation, which of course it would take hours to go into all of the definitions of each concept mentioned in the lecture. I think you池e right, that time constraints got in the way of a fuller exposition of points. If you池e interested, email Matt Dillahunty at firstname.lastname@example.org. I知 sure he would be better at rebutting your points.
No offence taken; I made those points to illustrate why I didn't find the video particularly helpful as opposed to starting up a new chain of inquiry.
It strikes me that Mr Dillahunty is probably someone not particularly schooled in academic/philosophical ethics which is understandable considering his hobby/job. I imagine that the majority of the time ethics come up for him they arise in debates with primarily Christians who are equally as unschooled in that school of thought. His insights may be useful in such occasions but unfortunately they are largely unsatisfying when the deeper questions are asked.
This point is a little unnecessary. I haven稚 crunched the numbers on who uses what definition, but I can assume that enough people use it to be useful to this discussion. If you disagree, feel free to explain why, but the semantics don稚 really further the discussion in this case.
I don't think it's semantics at all. The argument is why secular ethics is better than non-secular ethics. Introducing a definition of "good" within that would therefore require it to be pretty much the universal definition of "good" for secular ethics or we return to the previous issue that we're debating one strand of secular ethics against a strand of non-secular ethics. And considering the vast amount of secular thought that holds a very different view of what the good is (from virtue ethicists from Plato onwards to deontologists such as Kant to other consequentialists and utilitarians who suggest that individual pleasure (with differing definitions of quite what pleasure meant) is the measure of "good" to objectivists like Rand I don't one can claim that the definition you offer is a majority, let alone consensus, viewpoint.
I never claimed that secular morality is defined by consequentialism. Consequentialism is just the most obvious way to apply morality when there are not outside mandates. I am aware that there is potential for secular societies to have inside mandates, and thus consequentialism isn稚 always practiced, but non-secular systems are required to have them. That means, by simple deduction, that secular societies will less often have mandates and more often follow consequentialism. This makes it easy for the connection between secular systems and consequentialism to be made.
Quick bit of trivia. The first record of consequentialism being used as a term can be found in G. E. M. Anscombe's influential 1958 essay "Modern Moral Philosophy
". The reason I bring this up is that through that essay Anscombe produces a powerful argument as to why consequentialist and utilitarian approaches aren't
a natural fit within secular ethics and instead virtue theory is a more logical approach. The entire essay is well worth a read but the bottom of page four till the end of page 12 are the key points with why consequentialist and utilitarian approaches aren't seemingly a natural fit to secular ethics; Anscombe writes clearly and entertainingly and as such puts her words far better than I could.
I want to make it clear that I am not an advocate for consequentialism. I think it is useful in real life, but I don稚 claim it to be any kind of perfect system. This point is a bit of a defeater for consequentialism as you have laid it down. The simple answer is that in the real world, that is to say outside of theoretical ethics, this sort of problem wouldn稚 happen as stated. If a system fails in society, it is modified so that it won稚 fail. If you threw out the whole system when one part failed, we wouldn稚 have any kind of system. Just tweak the system until this error doesn稚 happen, so put in an 訴f-then clause to specifically halt the issue. 的f we are presented with a utility monster, a limit of X will be placed on them. This argument seems to ignore common sense. If something doesn稚 work properly, you don稚 always just throw it away. Sometimes you just fix it.
But earlier you suggested that secular ethics was based on logic and empirical evidence. It is entirely logical to feed the utility monster and likewise all the empirical evidence suggests one should feed the utility monster. In truth that's basically the point of the monster. Any approach that bases itself around maximising utility for a group will either be consumed by one or both of the "happy" or "sad" monsters or have to follow another method of measuring utility that carries its own negative consequences.
You suggest "common sense"... but in this case common sense runs against the empirical evidence and logic. Once you insert common sense into the mix it is no longer a system based on logic or evidence and instead one based on prejudices. Moreover the fact that you see something wrong with a society that feeds a utility monster is prima facie evidence that consequentialism isn't a system you agree with (which I also note you agree above) because under a consequentialist or utilitarian system there is nothing wrong with feeding the monster (in fact, it is good to do so and wrong not to). And if we accept that it is wrong to feed the monster we have to consider why it is wrong to do so... and that brings out outside of consequentialism to either deontology or virtue ethics.
I致e never seen the point of this argument. Maybe I知 just ignorant, but here痴 my rebuttal. We decide what we ought to do. That痴 it. If I decide that a) the best way to keep someone from being on fire is to douse them with water, b) that being on fire is painful, and c) people should not be on fire as often as possible with some exceptions, I can then make the claim that if someone is on fire, I ought to douse them with water until they aren稚 on fire anymore. If most people agree with me for long enough, we have a standard of morality as it pertains to people being on fire. That is how we get from is to ought. Just because there isn稚 a rigid system for doing so, doesn稚 mean it can稚 be done, evidenced by the fact that it is done every day. And before you claim that I am a moral relativist, I would like to say that what a culture decides is a good standard of ethics doesn稚 make them right. If we combine our abilities to create a moral standard and modified consequentialism, we don稚 have to think female circumcision is 創either right nor wrong.
But, similar to my point above, you earlier suggested that secular ethics was based on logic. And logic is a cruel mistress. There is no logical way to get from an "is" to an "ought". The fact that you suggest we can is prima facie evidence that you don't believe that the system is logical because, however hard one tries, one cannot get from an "is" to an "ought" using logic.
Let痴 assume that this argument is true. So what? Maybe good does mean something other than 礎eneficial Nothing follows. However, if this argument is supporting the idea that 澱ecause good can稚 = its own definition, then good must equal God then I can just respond plugging in 礎enefiting people and society with 賎od thus:
Premise 1: If God is (analytically equivalent to) good, then the question "Is it true that God is good?" is meaningless.
Premise 2: The question "Is it true that God is good?" is not meaningless (i.e. it is an open question).
Conclusion: God is not (analytically equivalent to) good.
Does that argument satisfy any kind of claim? No, of course it doesn稚. It just argues fallaciously that if you define a word, it cannot equal its own definition. Please let me know if I am missing something here.
Again, the logic point above. The open question argument has logical strength in rendering definitions of good meaningless. To avoid or disagree with it is to allow something other than logic to influence ones thinking.
The reason I brought up the objections and the point they make is relatively simple. All three are based on logic and/or empirical evidence and in each case your response avoids them using something other than logic and/or empirical evidence. That's not saying your objections are incorrect in and of themselves... but Mathim responded to one of my points by noting that secular ethics are based on "logical and empirical studies" and are thus superior which you in turn appeared to agree with. Your answers to these objections are not based on logical and empirical studies (which offer no answer to the utility monster or is-ought) which indicates there is something more than logical and empirical studies involved and that whatever this "something" is, it trumps logical and empirical studies (or the utility monster and is-ought would have primacy over the objections). Thus suggesting that secular morality is systematically superior because it relies on logical and empirical studies when you also have to argue that there is something which trumps logical and empirical studies within secular ethics seems to me to be a strange and something bizarre answer.
If they aren稚 relevant to the discussion, why bring them up in the first place?
Because you raised the Epicurus’ dilemma and I thought it would be rude to dismiss it without noting that I'm aware of it and aware of the common counter points.
I never said that you forwarded the view, but that those who do need to prove these truths before they can make the argument for them. You was used in the general sense. I should have used 双ne My apologies. And on your second point here: I don稚 see your point. Dillahunty is claiming that the existence of a god痴 views don稚 matter. He doesn稚 address the claimed 訴nherent nature of God that imposes-but-somehow-doesn稚-impose morality on the universe point you made. I did. We don稚 know what Matt would say to that. But one does need to prove those inherent values of the universe before one can make a case for them.
As previously, I'm not arguing for the systematic strength of divine command theory; if the debate had merely been whether secular ethics (or even just a branch of secular ethics) was stronger than divine command theory I'd have likely agreed with you. I brought it up merely to note that not all branches of non-secular ethics follow divine command theory and thus while criticisms of divine command theory may be valid they do not extend to all non-secular ethics.
Moreover, and while I know that you disagree with this point below, a secular moral realist and a non-secular moral realist both agree that that there are moral facts out there and it is up to us to discover them. If both discover these moral facts and both agree the moral facts to be the same, does it matter what the source of those moral facts is? The secular moral realist will still have found the moral facts even if they were created by God and the non-secular moral realist will still have found the facts even if God didn't exist (or in some way did exist but had nothing to do with the moral facts). The strength of the position is not dependent on the existence of God.
You didn稚 make a counter-claim here. What痴 the use of this paragraph?
Your criticism appeared to be that non-secular ethics which followed the approach described would still be taking their morality from an outside source and not working it out on their own. But that criticism (if it is a criticism) can equally apply to secular moral realists or natural law followers who likewise accept that moral facts exist mind-independently. It's not a criticism of secular or non-secular ethics, it's a criticism of moral realism... and moral realism is not tied to either secular or non-secular ethics.
What痴 your point here? I can’t seem to find it, sincerely.
Your criticism of non-secular ethics appeared to be that even if
God exists the holy books that form the basis for their ethical theory (or at least a divine command theory approach) were written by men in the bronze and iron age. And if God doesn't exist that point becomes even stronger. But that can self-evidently only apply to non-secular ethics based on religions which have holy books which were written in the bronze/iron age. It may be a criticism of Christian, Islamic or Judaist ethics but it has no strength against a non-secular ethical theory that has no holy books and was not developed in the iron or bronze age.
I知 sure there are the kind of secular moral realists you claim there are. I think those guys are wrong. Morals don稚 exist without minds.
This is a pretty huge claim and one that threatens to drag us even further away from the key topic (and somewhat strangely it's actually normally an inversion of this debate, with secular theoriests arguing they can be moral realists and non-secular theorists arguing they can't). What I would note is that there are a large number of very plausible arguments for moral realism within the atheist/secular community and one of key debates within secular vs non-secular ethics has been whether secular and athiest thought can offer a moral realist approach. I'd recommend the work of Michael Martin
who I suggest is the leading proponent of secular moral realism (and has also produced some very strong counters to the "God's nature is moral" counter-argument I noted above) as well as Roderick Firth, Richard Boyd, Peter Railton and David Brink, notably Firth's Ideal Observer Theory (noting that while Firth was a Quaker, he himself set out that his theory was entirely secular).
To escape the issue of having to delve deep into each of those theories I'll instead say that there is a strong and persuasive school of thought that holds that secular ethics can
be aligned with moral realism. To argue that such approaches are incorrect while debating whether secular or non-secular ethics is superior strikes me as a "no true Scotsman" approach.
I don稚 agree that you can稚 answer with a normative answer. What else is there? We use ethics in the world because there isn稚 anywhere else to use them. Theories don稚 matter except as tools for arriving at normative answers. They aren稚 useful for anything else, because as far as we know, nothing functions outside of the physical world. All the ethical theories I have read try to nail ethics down to complete right and wrong, and that isn稚 possible in the real world, so why care about it? Use the information in a metaethical quandry, but don稚 let it rule your ethical systems without heavy modifications in order to make it fit to reality. There are not categorical imperatives, because ethics aren稚 set in stone. There aren稚 definitive right and wrong outcomes, only general consensus to what the standard should be, and then application of the standard.
Because without a metaethical moral foundation, normative moral theories and statements become useless.
Let us say that everyone agrees a single normative theory, everyone agrees how we work out what is "good/right" and "bad/wrong" and everyone even agrees exactly how this applies when used in real life. Thus in every situation everyone is happy (and agrees) with what is moral and immoral, right and wrong, good and bad.
But what is some are noncognitivists who think that when we say something is wrong all we're actually doing is say we disapprove of it in the same way we may disapprove of a certain TV show or sports team? Or error theorists who hold that there are no moral features to the world and that every attempt to make a moral judgement is incorrect, however sincere or effective the normative theory? Or the pre-mentioned moral realists who hold that there are moral facts... but then may differ as to whether these facts are reducible to non-ethical things or whether they are non-reducible and a priori. Or ethical subjectivists who hold that while moral statements may be true, they are only true because of the attitudes and conventions of people. I could go on with all the differing branches of meta-ethics and all the different approaches taken.
How does a normative theory stand up when no-one agrees on the very foundations of it or what it actually means? How does it operate when one person views it conclusion that X is wrong as offering a moral statement with force behind it and another as no different to a similar argument saying that one doesn't like vanilla icecream? When one person thinks that the conclusion is universal and applies to every one at every time at every place while another thinks it is specific to these people at this time in this place?
Without a metaphysical groundwork and agreement any normative theory is simply a thought exercise in the same way that a metaphysical theory without a normative theory is. Both are required for a theory to have any strength outside of ivory tower debates.
There aren稚 moral facts to apply 澱ecause I say so to. I used a practical example of something that does rely on 澱ecause I said so which is law, after claiming that, generally, secular moral systems don稚 rely on 澱ecause I said so I never claimed that jurisprudence and ethics are the same. It wasn稚 a comparison of those two ideas, just an exposition of a place that our society uses 澱ecause I said so
I simply gave an example in society of 澱ecause I said so I never equivicated law and ethics, only used law as an example of a place society uses 澱ecause I said so that wasn稚 moral judgments.
Whether law uses a "because I say so approach" is an interesting, albeit different, question. Command theory holds that it is, with laws gaining legitimacy because a sovereign said so but even within legal positivism that's largely been discounted by the work of H.L.A Hart. And one can also touch on natural law theories (used in a different context to natural law within ethics) or Dworkin's "law as integrity" approach.
Again however, the argument you take appears to be one for why a
secular theory is superior to a
non-secular one as opposed to secular theories as a whole being superior. You have already stated that you disagree with moral realism, secular or non-secular, and thus if a secular ethical system based upon moral realism appeared the basis of its strength towards you would be "because I say so". Yet it is undoubtedly a secular system.