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← Do we need objective morals?

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Jos Gibbons


While a "we need God to know ethics" argument (which comes in "and we do, so he's there" and "so we need to believe in Him whether or not He's evidenced" flavours) differs from the "we need God for there to be ("objective", whatever that means) ethics in the first place", the OP takes exception to the first argument not because it seeks to debunk on this one page every "ethics blah blah therefore blah blah God" argument, but because "you guys are inferior; put us in charge!" policy the first version "justifies" is pernicious and the "justification" is, as you yourself concede, terrible. And while the "there is objective ethics - oh yes there is! So there's a god!" argument is technically tangential to the OP question of whether or not we need objective ethics in the first place, I'll reply to it anyway, because I'm fed up with "well-reasoned", "thoughtful" theists proving they are no such thing (no theists are any such thing, since no argument for a god's existence works) pretending, "Well sure, the first version is bull, but the second one isn't!" (like I said, all arguments for a god fail; here I'll just prove this one does).

As I mentioned in my first post here, the Euthyphro dilemma is unanswerable. While me decreeing what is right or wrong doesn't make it so, nor does God decreeing it so; his subjective thoughts aren't somehow magically more objective than anyone else's just because he's omni-everything. (His omniscience is relevant in the "we need him to know stuff that's true anyway" argument you already reject, but not in the "we need him to make it true in the first place" argument I'm addressing here, because if something isn't real to begin with He won't "know" of it.) Either He makes ethics, in which case before He did so there was no ethics and so his choices were arbitrary, so shouldn't bind us later, or He doesn't, in which case we don't get objectivity at all.

Now tell me - what definition of "objective" do you use anyway? My above a, b or c, or some fourth definition?

CleverUsername, please don't bring group selection into this; selection for working well in groups, yes, but that's a matter of what is selected, not which selection mechanism is involved. If you still think group selection is worth defending, you've not read much discussion of it on this site.

Quine, your point about the objective-subjective line being fuzzy is an interesting one. It brings to mind an RE teacher I had 12 years ago. I asked him whether morality was objective or subjective, so he said some morals were one while the rest were the other. It felt like a cop-out, if only because he never said which were which. Maybe he was right. Maybe you're right. I can't see, however, how you could be right on any of the three definitions of objectivity I discussed above. Could you say what definition you do have in mind? It amazes me how few posters here have done so.

Wed, 25 Jul 2012 06:11:47 UTC | #950022