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← Do we need objective morals?

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

The problem with the way many people analyse morality is that they look at "right" and "wrong" as stand alone principles without concern for the consequences. "Right" and "wrong" (or "good" and "bad"), if they have any meaning at all, have no different meaning in a moral context than in any other context.

There has to be an objective in mind to classify something as "right" or "wrong", "good" or "bad". The "right" tool for the job is the tool that does the desired job most effectively. A "good" technique at tennis is one that gives you a higher chance of winning a point than a "bad" technique. And so "good" moral behaviour is that which, as Sam Harris puts it, promotes the wellbeing of conscious beings.

Of course, as Harris acknowledges, how you measure the effectiveness of an action in terms of its moral consequences is not always easy or practically possible, but nevertheless there is no other meaningful definition for morality.

The religious idea that humans can't decide what is morally right or wrong, that there must be an "objective" morality from God, is a nonsense for several reasons. Firstly, of course, there's no voice booming down from the sky telling us what is right or wrong, God's message only comes from other humans and there's no evidence to suggest they didn't just make it up themselves. Secondly, there is no concern for the consequences; and if there's no concern for the consequences, God's moral code is just a toss of the coin and it could just as easily be "good" to be nasty as to be helpful to other people. And following from that, if we had no instinctive understanding of morality, if only God was capable of understanding morality and determining a moral code, then we wouldn't even understand the concept that he was trying to convey to us, let alone care about it!

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 10:03:47 UTC | #950098