Morality 3: Objectivity and oughtness

Morality 3: Objectivity and oughtness

A formal moral argument sometimes put forward
for divine existence runs as follows: Premise 1: If ‘God’ does not exist, objective
moral values and duties do not exist. Premise 2: Objective moral
values and duties do exist. Conclusion: Therefore ‘God’ exists. According to William Lane Craig,
a proponent of this argument, “To say there are objective moral values
is to say something is good or evil independently of whether anybody
believes it to be so.” But if moral values are independent
of everyone’s evaluation this leaves Craig with significant problems. One is that, if two humans perform an action one thinking it evil, the other
having no sense that it’s evil what they believe about their behaviour
is not irrelevant to our moral assessment. If someone is genuinely
ignorant of what they do we don’t accept their harmful behaviour
and we restrain it if possible. But we don’t call it evil. Craig’s idea that something is evil,
whether or not anyone believes so clearly doesn’t reflect the way
we tend to make moral judgments. The idea of evil is only relevant in
proportion to an agent’s understanding, which is one reason we don’t judge
other animals by human standards. Craig thinks non-believers who see
anything special about human morality have “succumb[ed] to the
temptation of speciesism”. But noting that humans have greater capacity
for moral reflection than other species is not, as Craig insists,
an unjustifiable bias. It’s a relevant difference. In fact, given Craig’s own claim that no
moral dimension exists for non-human animals the real speciesist would be Craig’s god. After all, what do we make of
a being that, according to Craig has decided that only one
species is morally accountable so that the human child-killer is evil but the lion that kills other
lions’ cubs does nothing wrong? However, a more basic problem for Craig is that values are the result
of the evaluation process. Moral values refer to what we judge
morally valuable or important. So to say they apply independently
of anyone’s evaluation – that some things have unevaluated value
– becomes unintelligible. It also lacks any practical application. We may dismiss things right now which,
given other information, we’d value. But we can’t go beyond the
range of our own awareness to see how unknown information
would alter our values. So unknown values, even if they existed would only be relevant from
the moment of their discovery at which point, it would be far
less metaphysically extravagant to say we’d simply then made an evaluation than say we’d discovered
an unevaluated value. It’s true that, given more complete information justifications for certain attitudes and
behaviour will be exposed as false. It’s true that there can be subjective facts. If you burn your finger, the pain you feel
won’t be merely a matter of opinion even though it’s subjective. It’s also true, as John Mackie notes, that
given sufficiently specified standards of morality it will be an objective issue,
a matter of truth and falsehood how well any particular specimen
measures up to those standards. Of course, the choice of standards
still won’t be objective but nor will it be completely arbitrary because what we value isn’t completely random but highly influenced by the
kind of creature we are. So we can agree with Craig
when he says most people think there’s an objective difference between
torturing a child and caring for it; that these are not morally indifferent acts. However, just because we
distinguish torture from caring and find one bad and the other good that doesn’t mean we have to agree with Craig that these behaviours are therefore good or
evil independently of what anyone thinks. Some defend objective values by claiming
‘moral value’ is a property we detect with a special faculty of moral perception. But notice this is no longer
supporting divine existence as the moral argument is claimed to only proposing new phenomena in need
of their own independent support. And each has problems. For example, how can it be shown that
if someone says Q is morally good they’ve detected a value of
goodness that’s part of Q itself rather than simply made a subjective
evaluation that it’s good? We can’t appeal to consensus. Agreement that Q is good still doesn’t
tell us that the goodness is part of Q rather than something we’re ascribing. And besides, this particular moral
argument deems agreement irrelevant. Nor can we appeal to innate tendencies. Even if we can be shown to have an
innate predisposition to find Q good that wouldn’t show Q has objective goodness. It would just indicate we’re innately
predisposed to value Q subjectively. We may value life. But sliding from “I value life”
to “life has objective value” makes the same mistake as sliding
from “I find slugs revolting” to “slugs are intrinsically revolting”. It’s falsely projecting our own attitude
onto the object of our attitude. As Mackie explains, our wants and demands
give rise to the notion of objective values by reversing the direction of dependence so that instead of seeing our evaluation
of a thing’s goodness depend on our desire our desire for a thing is seen to
depend on the thing’s goodness. Saying intuition lets us ‘know’ what’s morally
good or bad also needs to be challenged. The weaker claim that moral intuition is a
kind of instinctive judgment can be granted. It’s true that instinctive feelings can lead us to judge actions immoral
without conscious reasoning. Empathy, for example, leads us quickly to
apprehend the distress of a child being attacked and a moral judgment may arrive in
our awareness almost instantly. Our brains process information rapidly and
it’s easy to see how having protective instincts came to give us an advantage while trying
to survive together on a hostile planet. But having useful, advantageous instincts isn’t evidence that we’re accessing
objective moral knowledge. We do well to treat our intuitions with
more caution. They frequently mislead us. Contrary to appearances,
these squares aren’t moving which you can test by pausing the video but we seem hardwired to
make a false interpretation. Much of what we discover about ourselves
and the world is counter-intuitive. For example, we tend to care and donate more when charities show us cases of
single rather than mass suffering. In a fascinating article looking at
this ‘identifiable victim effect’ Paul Slovic notes how we’re
generally less affected as the number of victims
presented to us increases and discusses the unsettling implications
this has for our moral tendencies. Sometimes, what one intuits to
be self-evidently morally bad another intuits to be self-
evidently morally neutral. If they each appeal to intuition, this only
tells us they each ‘know’ they’re right. To make a valid case, they need to do more. The subjective experience of believing a thing
to be so obvious as to require no explanation is not self-guaranteeing, and this
is especially true with morality where people are prone to mistaking
feelings for moral knowledge. While intuition might be a
source of useful questions our brains are too error-prone to regard it
as a reliable source of objective answers. Moving to moral duties when Craig says, “To say we
have objective moral duties is to say we have certain moral obligations
regardless of whether we think we do” this is a concept with similar
empirical and conceptual problems. If absolutely no one is aware of a duty to
do X the idea of having such a duty gets no purchase. Again, there’s no problem saying
that given better information justifications based on false
understanding get eliminated while new justifications will emerge. If the members of society X are
generally protective of others but mistake mental disorder for demon
possession, which they see as a threat they may feel a moral duty
consistent with these attitudes namely a duty to destroy the perceived threat. If they outgrow their belief in possession
and learn about brain dysfunction they may feel a new duty: to care
for those with mental disorder. It’s not that they discover
a hitherto unknown objective duty to help rather than harm these people. It’s that, given an initially protective attitude their sense of duty changes in
response to changes in information. As before, much of the sense of what we ought
to do may come initially from instinct rather than conscious reasoning. Again, empathic instincts
influence much of our behaviour and it’s easy to see how
this instinct would evolve; how natural selection would favour groups
of humans whose instinct was to protect each
other over individuals trying to survive on a
hostile planet with no one to protect them. But as before, having advantageous
instincts that motivate us to behave or stop behaving a certain way isn’t
evidence that we have objective duties. In the eighteenth century, David Hume
objected to the way authors on morality shifted from statements
connected by ‘is’ or ‘is not’ to others connected by ‘ought’ or ‘ought not’,
which he said “express a new relation”. To Hume, it seemed inconceivable that ‘ought’
relationships were deducible from ‘is’ ones which he saw as “entirely different”. This is commonly interpreted to mean we
can’t infer what we morally ought to do from purely factual premises; we
can’t derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. But further reading gives a different emphasis.
Here’s what Hume says about wilful murder: “The vice entirely escapes you as
long as you consider the object. You never find it, till you turn
your reflexion into your own breast and find a sentiment of disapprobation,
which arises in you, towards this action. Here is a matter of fact: but
’tis the object of feeling. It lies in yourself, not in the object.” In other words, evil isn’t a feature of murder
but a judgment arising from sentiment. When Hume objects to the
shift from ‘is’ to ‘ought’ he’s criticising those who mistake
their own feelings about murder for intrinsic qualities of murder,
echoing the aforementioned error of projecting one’s own attitude
onto the object of that attitude. Of course, whatever Hume’s original meaning,
the idea that we can’t derive moral oughts from factual ‘is’ statements has spawned
a great deal debate in our own time. But is the so-called ‘is-ought
problem’ really a problem? All it’s saying is that moral obligations
aren’t deducible purely from nonmoral facts. This seems quite true if moral
obligations involve emotional elements. I don’t like pain. My dislike of pain isn’t arbitrary;
I’m biologically biased to dislike it. Indeed, the aversive quality of pain protects
us by prompting our retreat from harmful stimuli. Knowing also that I’ve no valid basis for
thinking my comfort is uniquely important if I want others not to hurt me, then to avoid
hypocrisy, this obliges me not to hurt them. This obligation isn’t unconditional. It arises largely from biologically
influenced preferences. Some say preference has no role in our morality. After all, rapists like raping but
we don’t say they ought to rape. But of course, that’s misleading. Morality has never meant doing whatever
you prefer, no matter who it hurts. Part of morality’s essence is
considering our impact on others and asking why rapists
shouldn’t do what they prefer completely ignores the preference of the victim. No one’s saying all preferences
are morally relevant. But some are. We have numerous moral prohibitions
about inflicting pain. That our dislike of pain is a preference
doesn’t diminish its relevance. When we dissect any moral obligation, we
always find some element of preference even if it’s a preference
largely determined by biology. As Mackie notes, for any argument
that “supports some evaluative conclusion where this conclusion has
some action-guiding force that is not contingent upon desires
or purposes or chosen ends… somewhere in the input to this argument there will be something which
cannot be objectively validated some premise which is not
capable of being simply true or some form of argument which is not
valid as a matter of general logic whose authority or cogency is not objective”. Craig claims that “If God does not exist there is no ground for objective moral
duties because there is no moral lawgiver” the implication being that a lawgiver could
provide that ground. But this is false. Lawgivers are still subjective beings, and
their presence doesn’t guarantee objectivity. Even if a divine lawgiver
required certain duties of us all that would be necessarily true
is that it required duties of us. It wouldn’t follow that the duties were
therefore objectively good or grounded. Craig thinks he can achieve objective grounding by making use of Anselm of Canterbury’s
notion of a greatest conceivable being. According to Anselm’s ontological argument one can understand what’s meant
by ‘a greatest conceivable being’ so such a being can exist at least in thought. But if it exists only in thought one can think of a greater being:
existing in thought and reality. Therefore, Anselm insists, if one claims
to be able to conceive of a greatest being without ascribing to it real existence,
one is contradicting oneself. He later inflates this being
to one not only that exists but whose non-existence is inconceivable. Of the well-known flaws in this
argument, perhaps the most basic is that even if Person A has in her mind a
concept of a ‘greatest conceivable being’ no logic requires her concept
to correspond with reality. As Kant points out, whatever and however
much our concept of an object may contain we must go outside the concept if we’re
to attribute the object with existence. No ontological argument establishes
that there must be a god that this god must have an essential nature,
or that that essential nature must be good. Which leaves Craig’s claim to objective
grounding no more than the unsupported assertion of a god and of the qualities Craig wants
it to have to make his moral case. We value generosity, compassion and fairness because we experience and
appreciate their positive effects. When they’re proclaimed as divine qualities this isn’t because anyone has
observed such qualities in a god. No god has yet been established to exist,
let alone one whose nature we can study. All that’s happening is that qualities we’ve
already judged independently to have value are being ascribed to an entity declared
to exist, and to be good by definition. If we want to imagine
an idealised being as a way of developing some
basic principles of conduct the most appropriate model would
be something with human biology. Rooting morality in a being
beyond our comprehension only pushes morality beyond our comprehension. It’s even worse when what we choose as
a model is a god of ancient scripture depicted violating moral principles
we hold to be most basic. When we tell ourselves there’s an
all-powerful entity that can do this yet still be morally perfect we create the very conditions that –
far from leading us to moral ‘truth’ – guarantee our moral confusion. Even if a god created our universe nothing about the act or power of grand
creation requires moral perfection. And even if our universe was created by a
god that was somehow intrinsically good no logic would require that being still to
exist. Imagine such a god existed yesterday
but destroyed itself today. Would torture suddenly stop being a moral
issue? If so, this god could not have embodied
values of enduring relevance severing any connection with
objective moral value. If not, we’re admitting the god
doesn’t need to exist destroying this moral argument’s conclusion. There would be equally overwhelming problems with claiming that moral values and
duties are transcendental in nature and therefore require a supernatural creator. As soon as we require things
to be imbued supernaturally with goodness, badness or ‘oughtness’ as soon as we allow the supernatural
to feature in any of our explanations the idea of a single supreme deity becomes just one of countless
unknowable, untestable concepts all with their own ad hoc justifications. In a video I made with TheraminTrees
called ‘Betting on infinity’ we look at what those floodgates let in. In this case, transcendental values and
duties could just as easily be the creation of a group of supernatural experimenters
arbitrarily making things good and bad so as to study the effect on animal behaviour. If moral values and duties were the kinds
of things that had to be created supernaturally this alone would count against
their objective validity. A perennial problem with
arguments for divine existence is that even if they were valid, they
still wouldn’t provide a logical pathway to the god of any particular
religion or scripture. Reviewing this moral argument,
the implication of Premise 1 that the existence and only
the existence of one god could ground moral objectivity
is not established. Not only do objective values
and duties lack necessary support we’ve good reason to reject
these concepts as incoherent leaving Premise 2 and therefore
the conclusion undemonstrated. This moral argument does not
establish the existence of any god. The motive for objectifying moral
values and duties is understandable. As Mackie notes, since “We need morality
to regulate interpersonal relations…” [often against people’s natural inclinations] “…we therefore want our moral
judgments to be authoritative” and many think only objectivity
can achieve this authority. In the words of Thomas Nagel:
“There is a tendency to seek an objective account of everything
before admitting its reality. But often what appears to a
more subjective point of view cannot be accounted for in this way.” The common misconception that if
morality isn’t entirely objective it’s subjective and therefore
“only opinion” or arbitrary has obscured and hijacked much of the discourse
on the subject and should be discarded. In video four, building on
themes in previous videos I’ll be discussing the origins and
components of a more rounded morality relevant to theists and non-believers alike and this will include a look at
utility, rules and consequences.

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About the Author: Emmet Marks


  1. In your own statement you admit that "evil" is an idiom of man.
    If your statement is to hold any relevance you must first empirically prove the existence or relevance of "evil".
    There are harmful acts and beneficial acts in the natural order of things, but no "holy" or "evil" acts.
    I find the foundation of your supposition flawed.

  2. A. Yes it can. It IS possible to measure health and well-being objectively. You can scientifically research methods to increase this. You can assign standards. Those standards and your effects can be assessed mathematically. Ergo Science and Math.
    B. Having examined a wiki, that is an adequate description though I might better fall under the Two-level definition in practice. I still believe that Moral objectivism is a misnomer, though perhaps some of its meaning is just out of view.

  3. Much better. Thank you. And a much better problem too. The natural order is in fact amoral. That is it cannot itself be held accountable because it operates outside of any morality. While one could argue that humans are only an extension of nature, it defeats the purpose of the discussion. So, we must at some level assume that choice exists or act as if it does regardless. Who has the ability to make choices then becomes suspect. What is sentience exactly?

  4. (con)
    After you do ALL that, I say that an evil act is harm that is done. Only an actor is capable of doing harm by choice. The dog cannot choose. A man could. The choice is itself an act that perpetuates harm. A man and a dog both do the same evil things.The man is more evil because he can choose. See Lennie from Of Mice and Men. Lenny does not wish harm anyone but is incapable of being gentle. He is overcome by the power of his own desire. One could argue that Lennie is an animal. Innocent.

  5. (3rd – final)Correction The man and the dog both commit an evil act. The man has committed an additional evil act which is itself the choice to do harm. Sorry if that was confusing.

  6. You talked yourself into a corner sir.
    You made "evil" dependent upon choice, which once again makes it an idiom of man.
    I agree with that by the way.
    The creationist often argues that the atheist is immoral because he believes in no moral "law giver". This is the argument you are beating around.
    Morality was made by man through the creation of religions to assist in the cohesion of society. It is a necessary control construct for "without the law there can be no freedom"……

  7. However we have come a long way in 2000 years and we could do without the fairy tail to give us the moral of the story.
    There are no moral absolutes and I challenge you to, as you put it, demonstrate that there are.
    I really don't think there should be either, as humanity grows and matures certain things ought to be taken as obvious and we should allow for growth in morality as well. Absolutes would see this growth stunted as an absolute cannot be reduced but neither can it grow.

  8. I tend not to look into that particular bush because it is dark and full of terrors. (Fire priestess anyone?) A quick aside-I have ejoyed reading your quotes in the voice of Wallace Shawn.
    As for moral absolutes, I have always believed in moral absolutes and do now. I only say that the definitions are far too constricted. If you take in enough information you can make a better judgement. Just saying "Do no harm" is about as inadequate as one can get and doctor swear it.
    As for morality

  9. I would agree that it is an idiom of man because only man has the necessary systems in place to not only need its function but also discuss it and understand it ultimately. I would also say that evil is an idiom of man because he has the mind to understand and ability to limit harm. Harm being the business only of those who can be harmed, gods have no role in the matter. Thusly I would agree, the fairy tales are right out. (con)

  10. (con)
    I made myself some axioms out of necessity. Without the the idea of morality seems baseless in its entirety.
    A – We must act as if there is choice regardless of its existence (else all function is moot)
    B – There is a way to make choices in which to maximise happiness and health.
    C – Morality is that way.
    D – Science has proven itself t be the best way of understanding the universe and its systems.
    E. Morality is best discovered using science sans a better system.

  11. Agreed, as I said, morality is an adaptation to aid cohesion of society.
    But don't you see how that negates absolute morality?
    Were absolute morality to function it must function universally without consideration of species. If morality exists only within human society it is not universal and instead a strictly human construct.
    Were we to find and communicate with intelligent life apart from our own species I would be willing to re-evaluate my position, but barring that i respectfully stand firm

  12. Forgive me, I took you for an apologetecist. All this talk of "evil" and absolutes usually signifies a creationist by my experience.
    My apologies.

  13. We carry heavy words. The bridges of communications are thusly strained. No harm done, though I might suggest a less aggressive approach in general.

  14. By absolute I do not mean independent of any situational modifiers. Quite the contrary, I am saying that situational modifiers out to a certain point of calculable influence absolutely determine whether an act is moral. Say aliens appear and that the procreate by dying. Specifically by a female eating a male who then herself dies producing 10 offspring. Murder suicide baby making. Creepy, sad, scary, and entirely amoral. Not bad, just not good. If one of them however slays another in anger…

  15. There are indexes to measure societal health, I agree – but I don't think that it is possible to simply map every possible act to a template of mathematically calculated factors and then arrrive at a numerical weighting to determine whether that act was moral or immoral. I understand what yoiu are saying though – that it *should* be possible to remove the subjective emotive element from the equation so that it becomes less arbitrary and then employ that across cultural boundaries (con)

  16. and have a global system of morality which is independant of the actor or observer of any act. Maybe we will evolve as a species towards this goal, but I can't see it happening unless the vast majority give up their religious convictions that all morals come from a higher authority.

    Take it easy my friend.

  17. Perhaps I am more ambitious than my forebearers…or my fivebearers. Perhaps this evolution will come sooner than you think. I can only hope for now. As it is, thank you for a delightful conversation with a mind able to understand my concepts. I will, and you too.

  18. I would agree for the most part, you make quite a compelling case, and I wouldn't mind if you won this argument as if you could prove absolute morality without god it would be a huge blow to chrisrian apologetics (with which I bare a chip on my shoulder for as you have probably gathered). My issue is with your alien speculation. I would agree if your speculation proved accurate but as yet it remains speculation. I would prefer another solid point of reference beyond humanity….

  19. … However we have none at present. We can speculate all we want, and even make educated guesses, but we just don't know. I could speculate that were these aliens far more advanced they may present us with an angle to this whole field we just aren't mature enough as a species to grasp yet.

  20. Of course it's not evil. Evil is a human construct, knowing something is wrong and doing it anyway. You need a sentient being to be evil. That does not mean it has to be tolerated.

  21. If it is all a man made construct (atheism`s basic premise) any morals are also man made, claiming divine origins/support (theism) is an appeal to same man made/unproven authority. many of the iron age ideals no longer fit known reality. Islam in particular is an anachronism. Kosher food &circumcision unnecessary. Limbo deleted and Galileo was right
    But mostly WOMEN are NOT 2nd class citizens any more. WE are better than that odious fraudulent fossilised turd from the desert`s charlatan kings.

  22. Why would I? Dogs are not sociopaths. You cannot believe this, can you? You cannot "do" evil. There is no measurable code or standard. No, raping children is not "inherently" evil. I think it is BAD because of MY moral code, based on reason, rationality, and because I favor human life. However, favoring human life or favoring no harm to be placed amongst others is not "factually" a righteous moral way to conduct behavior or think.

  23. A greatest conceivable girlfriend can be my girlfriend, at least in thought. But if she is my girlfriend only in thought, I can conceive of a greater girlfriend, being my girlfriend in thought and in reality. Therefore, if I claim to be able to conceive of a greatest girlfriend, without claiming that she is also my girlfriend, I am contradicting myself.

    Thanks to Anselm, I'm finally no longer single.

  24. Exactly 2 years later after uploading. I wonder if QualiaSoup has been studying any of Peter Singer's works such as Practical Ethics, The Expanding Circle, or Animal Liberation.

  25. I think you should do some stuff about how morality works when there are no consequences for us if we behave immorally.

    This video gives the impression that we should be good only because it helps us, implying that it is acceptable to do things like kill people if you can get away with it.

    Obviously this is not true, for reasons such as our health, but the theists don't know this.

  26. There's so much confusion as to what "objective" and "subjective" mean, because the discussion of those terms keeps getting hijacked, as the video says. Unfortunately, many people (including me) have fallen into the trap mentioned at the end, that somehow subjectivity = solipsism. So people end up labelling their views on morality as "objective" morality, which is true when you mean that it's objectively true that humans share similarities in moral values, but it's not what the term is supposed to mean to remain coherent.

  27. At 4:30, the speaker points out a key fundamental difference. The theist does belief life has intrinsic value. The atheist does not and they prove it by their stance on abortion.

  28. "we dont call it evil"
    Actually some people do. The people who dont would be objectively wrong.

    If someone was a moron and started slaughtering 40 people by cutting their heads off, and laughing about it, its an evil act regardless of the persons understanding.

    What a dipshit.
    We judge animals differently because they are different. Not because of their lack of understanding.
    When a dog goes crazy and starts biting people and killing them, we treat them the same way we do a crazy person who kills people. We put them down.
    Its an evil act.

    God made man in his own image, animals are not in his image and therefore are subject to the same laws. That solves that problem idiot.

    Premise 1- values are the result of the evaluation process.
    The sun exists independent of someones evaluation. Thats what it means to be objective. If morality exists objectively and indpendently is to say that it does not require the evaluation process. You dont need to evaluate the sun in order for it to exist.

    What a dipshit.

    Im done.
    I cant watch anymore of this obvious dumbass.

  29. Poor QualiaSoup, after all of these videos, the truth still remains that apart from oughtness (which is the very spine of morality) and signifies objectivity, there can be no LOGICAL way that morality exists at all. All he has done is identify necessary conditions but has never identified what all sufficient conditions would be for the real existence of morality. Yet he speaks as if morality exists anyway. He didn't even properly show how God would not be a sufficient logical ground for morality. That's because logic would not permit him to do that.

  30. @Aviel Menter I don't think you entirely understood Anselm's ontological argument. Fair enough, everybody from theist to agnostic to atheist alike all admit that it is difficult reading. But your response showed that you don't understand.
    Anselm's ontological argument concerning God is (1) not a proof for the existence of God, (2) can only apply to God and necessarily existing abstract objects. Your girlfriend comparison is not analogous because your girlfriend would still be a temporally existing unnecessarily existing notion.

    Anselm's argument is this in a nutshell: The notion that is the reality that is God is such that IF it can be said that God exists, it MUST necessarily be the case that He would have to be the Greatest Conceivable Being because everything that began to exist would have come into existence from Him (being the very grounds of existence). God by definition is the "Ultimate Creator of all things that began to exist." Therefore it is logically incoherent to even ask "who or what created God." His argument basically says that (1) the greatest conceivable being is possible to be thought of in our minds. Yet (2) If this greatest conceivable being can be thought of in our minds and in truth ONLY exists in our minds, then in a more true objective way, it turns out that the GCB in our minds ONLY was in fact NOT actually the Greatest Conceivable Being that exists in Reality (apart from just our minds). And ironically would even be less great in Reality than say a small chair that does exist in reality. Therefore, the notion that is the reality being God, MUST EXIST outside of our minds as well being in all ways like the GCB that ONLY existed in our minds, in order to say that God exists. God either exists outside of our minds in the same way He does in-our-minds-only, or He does not exist at all. Any other conception of God will logically turn out not to be God at all but just a mere way of speaking, like calling an alien from another planet "God." Anselm's argument is all about what it means to even use the term "God" in any kind of legitimate, meaningful way. That's all.

  31. You don't need to read all this huge comments – here you have shortened version of the response of believers:
    Morality exists because God exist… Which God? Of course my God – the only one true God! And this is logical, this is pure logic of course! Any other explanations are stupid – just stupid, because without God we have nothing! Ontological argument proves my point, you are just too stupid to understand it, or you just don't want to understand this simple truth – we live our lives because it was God's will!

  32. Unfortunately, your work is seemingly beyond the abilities of the average viewer to fully grasp (as appears evident from some comments below). However, I've thoroughly enjoyed your productions and applaud the effort good sir!

  33. A much better refutation to Craig's argument is, "Do not mix cause with consequence". As it is not possible to independently verify which of the deities exist, whether there's just one or several deities, furthermore what their attributes are or whether any of them exist at all, we have no grounds of asserting that the Christian hypothesis of creation is more valid than that of any other religion.

    Therefore, the question of Yahweh's moral objectivity would only have any grounding in authority (ironically, authority NOT being a valid ground for asserting morality of a standpoint) if the Yahweh was found to be the single, real, true, existing creator of our Universe and not the other way around. Not having proof for or against existence of any specific deity, that isn't the case.

  34. When did Craig debate Julie Christie??? How did I miss that? Seriously though, I am glad somebody unpacked this nonsense idea of "objective" anything. Its just so clearly fallacious.  And I don't know what they are called, but Craig's arguments that end in "therefore God exists" are SO flimsy! He's just so transparently a self-satisfied fraud. No morality there. 

  35. People think of morality as being objective partly because all people are looking at morality from the perspective of being people (we all share a perspective).  Killing is considered immoral (for the most part), but consider a person who has a pet snake, and feeds that snake live mice.  To the mice, the person would be considered a malevolent monster, mentally torturing and killing innocent beings.  To the snake, the person is a benevolent provider and protector.

    Humans see "murder" as evil, but killing enemies in war is considered fine.  The difference is the perspective of how far do you extend your sense of kinship.  To tribal peoples, killing members of other tribes was fine (like accounts of the Israelites in the Bible).  In modern times we extend our kinship to national borders or beyond, with most people having at least some sense of kinship with nearly all humans.  Capital punishment becomes acceptable to people who effectively have banished these criminals from their group, dehumanizing them  (lesser crimes get a temporary and less severe banishment in the form of a prison sentence).

  36. +QualiaSoup Don't you think you owe it to us to upload part 4 and 5 as you promised you would by May and June? It is now June 11, 2014 and still no part 4. You ended on a cliff-hanger suggesting that morality does not depend on any objective basis but that it actually exists (somehow) illogically. Do please revolutionize ethics by providing us with the logical rationale for your belief that no atheist has ever been able to provide. We're all waiting.

  37. So what you are saying is what Hitler or Stalin did was not wrong most people just have mutually agreed it is. Because if there is there is no Moral Law outside ourselves then these are undeniable facts. If we are just molecules in motion then nothing is right or wrong good or evil we are just at the mercy of DNA or as Dawkins put it  “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” 

  38. Many immoral things are rational from the evolutionary point of view. Murdering someone and taking his money gives some rational advantage too, assuming the murderer won't get caught. Does that make it morally correct? It certainly makes it "survival of the fittest."

  39. @QualiaSoup have you read David Lewis' paper on Dispositional Theories of Value?

    Your argument regarding changing valuation due to new knowledge of a phenomena being the result of a common underlying disposition to value seams to draw heavily on his ideas.

  40. If you really really believe that God does not exist, and if I really, really  believe that God exist. And God does really really exist, no worries, we will meet in heaven having a good laugh.

    If you really really believe that God does not exist and I really, really believe that God does exist.  And God really really does not exist. We will not be able to meet and have a laugh.

    But if you are lying about God not existing, and I am lying about God existing.  And if God really really exist, Then we both will be crying.

    But if you are lying about God not existing and I am lying about God existing.  And if God really really does not exist. We will not be able to meet and have a laugh.


    But If you are denying the existence of God, and I am not denying the existence of God, and if God really really exist.  I will be laughing and you will be crying.

    But if you are denying  the existence of God, and I am not denying the existence of God.  And if God really really does not exist. We will not be able to meet and have a laugh.

  41. Dostoevsky once wrote: 'If God did not exist, everything would be permitted'; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself."

    Paul Copan explains, the moral argument urges that although "Belief in God isn’t a requirement for being moral… the existence of a personal God is crucial for a coherent understanding of objective morality.

    Atheist Russ Shafer-Landau does an excellent job of defending moral objectivism in his book Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? (Oxford University Press, 2004):

    "some moral views are better than others, despite the sincerity of the individuals, cultures, and societies that endorse them. Some moral views are true, others false, and my thinking them so doesn’t make them so. My society’s endorsement of them doesn’t prove their truth. Individuals, and whole societies, can be seriously mistaken when it comes to morality. The best explanation of this is that there are moral standards not of our own making."

    In my experience, people tie objectivity to God because of a very specific line of thought. The basic idea is that all laws (rules, principles, standards, etc.) require a lawmaker. So if there are any moral laws, then these too require a lawmaker. But if these moral laws are objective, then the lawmaker can’t be any one of us. That’s just true by definition. Objectivity implies an independence from human opinion. Well, if objective moral rules aren’t authorised by any one of us, then who did make them up? Three guesses. In a nutshell: all rules require an author. Objective rules can’t be human creations. Therefore objective rules require a nonhuman creator. Enter God.

    atheists must either reject the existence of any objective laws, or reject the claim that laws require lawmakers. Since they can easily accept the existence of some objective laws (e.g. of physics or chemistry) they should deny that laws require authors

    Shafer-Landau answers the moral argument like so:

    If objective ethical rules require God, that’s because (i) rules require authors; (ii) therefore objective rules require non-human authors; (iii) therefore objective moral rules require a nonhuman author; and (iv) that must be God. Each of these steps follow naturally from the preceding one. Atheists reject the conclusion (iv). Therefore they should reject the initial claim that got them there:

    As atheist Kai Nielsen acknowledges: "Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality." Thats why we need an external agent 

  42. @qualiasoup Most of these objections are problems with a priori knowledge. However, do these objections in the video above hold against Experimental Philosophy? For example, what if i define morality in this way; Morality is defined as sets of evolutionarily stable behaviors or strategies that ease the difficulty of socially complex animals living together in groups.  This definition is a priori and you could say , if you accept the definition, that something is moral or immoral independant of anyone's evaluation of such. Either it an action matches the definition, or it doesnt.

  43. Such an astonishing videos.. continuously bombarding logics!

    It's a pity that most of theists who were happened to watch these videos would quit watching in first few minutes

  44. I like the way this video dismissing craig's argument.
    But i think many fellow atheists are just avioding to point out that atheistic (or perhaps i should say scientific) view to morality is basically "agnosticism + utilitarianism" , which i mean,

    "admitting that we know very little about how consciousness works or metaphysical dimensions.. etc , perceive morality as an invention of human brain that first obtained through a long journey of evolution as a part of 「survive and prosper well」 strategy, plus various discussing and mind-gathering efforts to make a more suitable one to maximize people's happiness"

    (as i'm using happiness as not just lust or excited but as overall wellbeing including satisfied and secured feelings when they heard that they are not going to be torn apart without their permission regardless of how many sick people need their organs in this context, i guess it's alright to describe this way)

    (Maybe it's not actually a major viewpoint, but i guess it is the only explanation that fits the most with the scientific worldview that we have today.)

    even though many people are still perceiving, and even wanting some moral statements to be some kind of "superiorly-correct"… Not some agreements between human brains.

    Like child murder or massacre.

    For example, i'm an atheist

    And i can't find any reason to serve other if it's not making me feel happy and won't be repaid either.

    I know that philosophers like Kant tried really hard to convience people why "a man sacrificing himself to help other while feeling shit about it" is a very moral man… But It's just his opinion.

    In the scientific worldview (which i support), one's moral claims aren't "objectively" superior than others so far. Isn't it?

    Since it's all just products of interacting particles, enery and void…. (Plus souls or something if you believe them, how could they make any kind of difference?)

    And i'm not even got to the absence of free will part right now… Where some people freaks out the most :/

  45. Anselm makes no sense. Consider the most beautiful ten legged rainbow coloured zebra. This is clearly not real. Further,  "greatest" is not defined. How do you compare two creatures to decide which is greater? What if there is a tie?

  46. This is the best video/essay on the subject I've ever seen. I saw it a few years ago and haven't found a better explanation since. Therefore, I don't agree with Sam Harris's "objective morality".

  47. I did not even get past one minute into the video before QS said "If someone is genuinely ignorant of their behavior, then we don't call it evil". Which is to say that the Nazis were not evil since they genuinely thought they were doing good in creating a better world.
    I don't think that QS understands the first thing about morality, but his presentation is brilliant, it really gets the minions going.

  48. Bill Craig says that objective morality means that something is good or evil independently of whether anyone believes it to be so. Perhaps he means that the action should or should not have been done, independently of what anyone thinks.

    For example, if I was angry and in a fit of rage pushed my baby sister off her seat, the action is wrong, even though at the moment I thought I was justified. If a man murders, but because of psychopathy does not think what he did was wrong, the action still should not be done. I think it is important to include the person's moral awareness in determining personal guilt, but the quality of the action, whether it should or should not have been done is pretty clear I think.

    Was that what Bill Craig meant? We can discuss it.

  49. Appealing to some vague, complicated version of morality that is somewhere between objective and "only opinion" or arbitrary has a lot of problems, not the least of which is that such a thing probably doesn't exist. "Objective" and "subjective" are not a spectrum; they are two different states. It makes a lot more sense to simply say that morality is objective, but that it has no relation to God or gods, and we can never truly know what objective morality is. Thus, our understanding of morality is subjective, but the point of ethics is to use reason and logic to bring our (subjective) understanding of morality closer to what is objectively true and correct.

  50. great video! imo, morality is fundamentally based in placing subjective value on something. basically, if one or many value x then they ought act in manner y which is consistent with/has been shown to lead to x.

    our sapient species has many shared basic moral values across most moral theories but imo this merely reflects our own evolutionary history as a social species. but imagine a sapient eusocial species like super intelligent ants. How alien would their moral theory(ies) be to our own? would either set of value systems be objectively, intrinsically good? or would it depend on subjective or inter subjective values? For instance valuing ones own species needs, wants, survival and or productivity of their very different social structures (social humans versus eusocial sapient ant-like beings.

  51. It's to commit speciesism to believe just because we apply our intelligence and rationale different or what we define as a higher standard than other animals that certain animals are not capable of being put on same pedestal as us.

    We elevate ourselves by saying we contribute more or by saying were intellectual when in reality both are ill defined or at best coming from a bit of pride.

    On the grand scale of things we have done more damage to the world than we've fixed and a lot of the technology we thought was going to be just for good has been used for evil.

    Also how do we know that animals aren't somewhat conscious of right and wrong? There are many times when animals show to shun selfish behavior and to show altruistic behavior. An elephant and dolphin have shown remarkable fields of emotions, and seem to value life of other animals as they both have saved humans before.

  52. This is a TERRIBLE misrepresentation of William Lane Craig. Attacking a strawman of one's imagination doesn't make for meaningful arguments.

  53. Hi Qualia, I'm wondering if you're still considering making the 4th video in this series? I hope you are doing well. Thank you so much for all of your great work. It's been very helpful to me over the years.

    Stay awesome!

  54. Dude, I have been waiting for part 4 for like… 4 years now! I know from your brother's channel that you're still out there making stuff… come back!

  55. hello i came here because i did a search on the internet to find a relationship between qualia and morality and i found this. it didnt answer my question but i found it useful. to put it shortly im writing a novel and in this novel there are worlds similiar to dantes inferno or the divine comedy where cultures indirectly have relationships with one another but there is a qualia that exist between the moral cultures which is the premise of the book. sort of how a normal person wouldnt be able to grasp the culture between a pimp and his prostitutes and seeing it would seem almost alien. i want to hone in on the alieness of that feeling to drive my new novel but i cant find any type of fiction on it i was wondering if you came across something as such and thanks

  56. Seems to me to show the veracity of premise 1 you would need a reductio ad absurdum argument.

    I have not seen such an argument.

  57. If things were good or evil totally objectively independently from anyone believing it to be so, then God would be totally incapable of making moral declarations. Craig seems to be setting his own platform on fire and proclaiming victory here.

  58. It seems to me intrinsically obvious that humans make those evaluations of the world around us. You can look at anything and see that. We see chaos and formulate it into patterns that we understand every day. From deciding that a few stars lightyears apart are "the big dipper" to categorizing the evolutionary history of animals into boxes, it's just something we do. Why would our moral judgements be any different?

  59. 14:00 Ezekiel 9 makes me sick to my stomach. It goes something like this
    israelites: Wow, God sure isn't answering our calls anymore. (implied ~ 6 years 6 months?) Let's go worship the other ones again, what could go wrong?
    God: GRRRRR, YOU'RE GOING TO WISH I HAD JUST FORSAKEN YOU WHEN I'M THROUGH WITH YOU. You there! Slaughter the shit out of them! Men, women, young and old, everybody. Fill the court with the bodies of the slain! BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! DEATH DEATH DEATH!
    The author allegedly being so terrified of this psychotic, evil deity that he falls down on his face crying, begging him to stop.

    "8 While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell facedown, crying out, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”"

    They taught me for 18 straight fucking years that this was the god of mercy, goodness, and perfect justice. THAT is why I'm a cynical SOB nowadays.

  60. If everyone was ginger then the desire for marriage with a non ginger would be deemed a moral good as it would lead to the flourishing of diversity in the gene pool. Such a non ginger could use this to appropriate a harem himself as Mohammad or Joseph Smith did albeit in their different circumstances.. Such a being by its different non freckle melanin would appear to be a being of higher moral Worth based on nothing more than a chemical within its skin and hair. Human morality is by nature subjective because we can easily posit all kinds of differing situations in our makeup that guide us to make different value judgements.

  61. "To say there are objective moral values is to say something is good or evil independently of whether anybody believes it to be so."
    Does "anybody" include god?

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