Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Why is America still so prone to wars of religion?
The Economist ^ | 26 may 2005 | Lexington

Posted on 05/28/2005 7:21:59 AM PDT by voletti

In Europe religion doesn't rise to the level of burning away “in the open air”; in fact, it barely smoulders. Most European politicians would rather talk about sexually transmitted diseases than their own faith in God. The hugely bulky European constitution doesn't mention Christianity.

America's policymakers, by contrast, don't seem to talk about anything else. Look at the issues that have dominated the past week.

America's religious wars are only going to intensify. Fourteen moderate senators averted a nuclear explosion over conservative judges this week; but explosions over the issues which made those judges controversial seem all but inevitable. Just wait for the next Supreme Court ruling on abortion. Or for the next vacancy on the court to open up.

Forget today's crowing about the ceasefire in Congress. America's wars of religion will get a lot nastier before any long-lasting peace can be declared—if ever.

(Excerpt) Read more at economist.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: 109th; christianity; europeanchristians; issues; religion
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-5051-100101-138 last
To: P_A_I
Your 'supernatural' opinions on my personality are pot/kettle amusing. Get real.

Have I claimed to have supernatural insight into your personality? No. I claim to have read your posts and seen by entirely ordinary means that you have misunderstood my comments and probably aren't able to follow an argument of the type I'm making.

In fact, this comment is an example. Where would you even get that idea?

I'm interested in how YOU claim to know that the Golden Rule is right.

Because it has worked for me, and for those I've known in my 68 years.

It seems you personally have never had (or, you say, seen -- I suspect you're forgetting some of the things you've seen) the experience of dealing honestly and getting screwed over for it. Which makes your years more lucky than mine. It happens both that people have behaved contrary to the Golden Rule and suffered for it, and that they've prospered for it. So should our moral codes be based on personal anecdotes?

It is not self-evident. On the contrary, it is self-evident that what one random, meaningless collection of atoms does to another is meaningless and hence morally neutral.

That's a nonsensical, and quite a sad statement about your own 'philosophy'. What we say & do to "another" is what this life is all about, imho.

You do not truly believe that life is "all about" what we say and do to others. You just defended the Golden Rule by how following it impacts you. That makes your personal self-interest the fundamental thing. So it's only about others as they influence your personal happiness. I'm glad that you've found that treating others well leads to your own maximum of satisfaction, especially if our paths should happen to cross. But it's not morality. It's just a nice form of amorality. And it has nothing to say to unnice forms.

Pure self interest in having a good life leads rational people to treat others as they would be treated.

Assuming they share something like your conception of a good life. Which they may not.

Two bits you are so convinced of your position that you will be unable to rationally comment upon, or refute, my self interest answer to your question.

Judged by whom?

101 posted on 05/30/2005 4:16:02 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 97 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
AJA opines:

You think far too highly of yourself. You cannot read minds, neither apparently can you properly read texts.

Your 'supernatural' opinions on my personality are pot/kettle amusing. Get real.

Have I claimed to have supernatural insight into your personality? No. I claim to have read your posts and seen by entirely ordinary means that you have misunderstood my comments and probably aren't able to follow an argument of the type I'm making.

As I said, get real. You've made some baseless & uncalled for personal remarks/opinions about me. There are no "misunderstandings" here.

In fact, this comment is an example. Where would you even get that idea? I'm interested in how YOU claim to know that the Golden Rule is right.

Because it has worked for me, and for those I've known in my 68 years.

It seems you personally have never had (or, you say, seen -- I suspect you're forgetting some of the things you've seen) the experience of dealing honestly and getting screwed over for it.

You suspect? I'm forgetting? -- More guessing on your part. Again, get real.

Which makes your years more lucky than mine. It happens both that people have behaved contrary to the Golden Rule and suffered for it, and that they've prospered for it. So should our moral codes be based on personal anecdotes? It is not self-evident. On the contrary, it is self-evident that what one random, meaningless collection of atoms does to another is meaningless and hence morally neutral.

That's a nonsensical, and quite a sad statement about your own 'philosophy'. What we say & do to "another" is what this life is all about, imho.

You do not truly believe that life is "all about" what we say and do to others.

Incredible. - Again you make a flat out pronouncement about what I've experienced in my life. You must be a psychic.

You just defended the Golden Rule by how following it impacts you. That makes your personal self-interest the fundamental thing. So it's only about others as they influence your personal happiness. I'm glad that you've found that treating others well leads to your own maximum of satisfaction, especially if our paths should happen to cross.

Thank you. Its nice to know that you agree with me on the golden rule.

But it's not morality. It's just a nice form of amorality. And it has nothing to say to unnice forms.

There you go again, off on some irrational tangent. Nice vs un-nice forms of amorality? Good grief.

_______________________________________

Pure self interest in having a good life leads rational people to treat others as they would be treated.

Assuming they share something like your conception of a good life. Which they may not.

It still behooves the rational man to always treat others as "good", with caution.

_____________________________________

Two bits you are so convinced of your position that you will be unable to rationally comment upon, or refute, my self interest answer to your question.

Judged by whom?

Anyone reading this is fine by me, -- or no one. To my mind your flippant retort is my answer. -
Thanks.

102 posted on 05/30/2005 4:52:14 PM PDT by P_A_I
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 101 | View Replies]

To: P_A_I
As I said, get real. You've made some baseless & uncalled for personal remarks/opinions about me. There are no "misunderstandings" here.

You were, and possibly still are (it's hard to tell given your confused style of writing), under the impression I am actually a nihilist. This is very much a misunderstanding.

For what reason did you splice together two paragraphs of mine from two different posts?

You do not truly believe that life is "all about" what we say and do to others.

Incredible. - Again you make a flat out pronouncement about what I've experienced in my life. You must be a psychic.

Except that as anyone can see, my comment said nothing about your experience. It's about your beliefs, and these not learned psychically but -- if you'd pay attention to something called context -- by your other comments. I don't doubt that you "believe" in some sense that life is all about what you do and say to others -- but only as a platitude. As I already discussed, you defended the Golden Rule with reference to your own interests. The secondary principles are derived from the primary ones. If you derive the Golden Rule from your own self-interest, the self-interest is primary and the Golden Rule only secondary.

There you go again, off on some irrational tangent. Nice vs un-nice forms of amorality? Good grief.

The fact that you lack the resources to understand what I said doesn't make it irrational. Now again: if your basic principle is what's good for you (and by the evidence of what you've chosen to say here, it is), you're amoral. Not necessarily immoral; you're simply acting without reference to morality. In your case because you've subsumed morality to self-interest. If treating others nicely promotes your idea of the good life, then, perfectly amorally, you'll behave relatively decently. But others may have different ideas of the good life. What will you say to them? That they ought not to like what they like? But then you need some standard by which to judge their delights bad and unworthy, and then you would need to explain where this standard comes from and what makes it normative and this, I maintain, cannot be done coherently with a naturalistic worldview.

103 posted on 05/30/2005 9:22:00 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 102 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
As I said, get real. You've made some baseless & uncalled for personal remarks/opinions about me. There are no "misunderstandings" here.

You were, and possibly still are (it's hard to tell given your confused style of writing), under the impression I am actually a nihilist. This is very much a misunderstanding.

Your own confusion is evident when you claim I misunderstand you. And frankly, I could care less about what you "actually" are. - You're not nihilist? - Fine.

For what reason did you splice together two paragraphs of mine from two different posts?

I doubt I did.

You do not truly believe that life is "all about" what we say and do to others.

Incredible. - Again you make a flat out pronouncement about what I've experienced in my life. You must be a psychic.

Except that as anyone can see, my comment said nothing about your experience. It's about your beliefs, and these not learned psychically but -- if you'd pay attention to something called context -- by your other comments.

Typically, you think you've made a point with that pointless sentence. Rest assured, no one but you can "see"..

I don't doubt that you "believe" in some sense that life is all about what you do and say to others -- but only as a platitude. As I already discussed, you defended the Golden Rule with reference to your own interests. The secondary principles are derived from the primary ones.

Gibberish. Platitudes about "secondary principles".

If you derive the Golden Rule from your own self-interest, the self-interest is primary and the Golden Rule only secondary.

There you go again, off on some irrational tangent. -- Nice vs un-nice forms of amorality? -- The golden rule as secondary? -- Good grief.

The fact that you lack the resources to understand what I said doesn't make it irrational.

Nor does the fact that you lack the resources to understand what I said make your observation rational.

Now again: if your basic principle is what's good for you (and by the evidence of what you've chosen to say here, it is), you're amoral.

Absurd conclusion derived not from what I've written here, but from your imagination.

Not necessarily immoral; you're simply acting without reference to morality. In your case because you've subsumed morality to self-interest. If treating others nicely promotes your idea of the good life, then, perfectly amorally, you'll behave relatively decently. But others may have different ideas of the good life. What will you say to them?

You find it necessary to "say" something to those who have different ideas, and find this to be 'moral behavior'. I do not. I mind my own business.

That they ought not to like what they like? But then you need some standard by which to judge their delights bad and unworthy, and then you would need to explain where this standard comes from and what makes it normative and this, I maintain, cannot be done coherently with a naturalistic worldview.

And there we have a partial answer to "Why is America still so prone to wars of religion?". What you 'maintain' is religious strife. -- Why not mind your own business instead?

104 posted on 05/31/2005 8:18:01 AM PDT by P_A_I
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 103 | View Replies]

To: liberallarry
I was wondering why you stopped talking to me. I just now discovered I missed your last reply!

So far no society and no morality have yielded a perfect world...so people experiment. Sometimes the new is better than the old, sometimes it isn't.

How would you recognize a perfect world if it ever arose? How, indeed, is a term like "perfect world" meaningful? And how can it be meaningful to say the new is better than the old? But you know it is. It might be right or it might be wrong, but it means something. But how could this be if there is no standard transcending culture?

Please tell me which standard this is and how we may discover it with more specificity than you did above

I can't.

But if you're willing to consider anything wrong -- and if you really are a liberal, you must consider a lot of things wrong, some of which really are and some which aren't -- you do have such a standard. You just can't tell where it came from.

In a sense it is since different societies (and the same society during different periods) decide what constitutes child molesting...and they don't always make the same rules.

There is, however, a real biological dividing point: puberty. In legal terms it gets murky because it comes at different times for different people but the law works better if it sets one age in years and applies it to everyone. Some cultures have a practice of marrying off girls who at such a young age they are almost certainly pre-pubecent. Would you say they ought to have a different practice?

Obviously, the people who make up the society decide what is right.

I hope you don't mean this in any serious sense, because if you do you're committed to defending as right a lot of incredibly nasty stuff.

105 posted on 05/31/2005 9:08:05 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 91 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
I know whether I'm satisfied with things as they are. So do most others.

Everyone, not just liberals, has many things they'd like to change, and many things they wouldn't. They advance many reasons for their beliefs but -cynic that I am - they usually just want more of everything for themselves, their family, and their friends, and find justifications which conform to ideology which they claim governs them.

If all cultures recognize puberty then that's a universal - one of many that I know exist.

I hope you don't mean this in any serious sense, because if you do you're committed to defending as right a lot of incredibly nasty stuff

I'm dead serious about this. All cultures have, at one time or another, defended all sorts of nasty stuff. That doesn't mean I agree with any of it...nor am I protected from doing the same thing; I many be willing to defend positions that others find horrifying. In fact, I know this to be true.

106 posted on 05/31/2005 9:46:25 PM PDT by liberallarry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 105 | View Replies]

To: P_A_I
Most of your post is merely a belligerent display of your incomprehension.

You find it necessary to "say" something to those who have different ideas, and find this to be 'moral behavior'. I do not. I mind my own business.

Oh, if someone chooses to act on certain different ideas I would do a lot more than merely "'say' something". I hope you would also.

And there we have a partial answer to "Why is America still so prone to wars of religion?".

As others have pointed out, there is no answer because it's a baseless question. America (unlike Europe) has never been prone to wars of religion and isn't now.

What you 'maintain' is religious strife. -- Why not mind your own business instead?

Fascinating. All I've done is speak my mind as protected by the First Amendment -- this is "strife" in your mind and I should stop. But if advocating my views is strife, what about you advocating your views? I haven't made "mind your own business" equivalent to "shut up", but you have, and also declare that you mind your own business, but you still keep talking. Something has become disconnected here. Or perhaps this only applies to views you don't agree with.

Now, you said the above two things as an objection to this:

That they ought not to like what they like? But then you need some standard by which to judge their delights bad and unworthy, and then you would need to explain where this standard comes from and what makes it normative and this, I maintain, cannot be done coherently with a naturalistic worldview.

You seem to have lost track of the conversation. You defined morality by the Golden Rule, and defended this by reference to self-interest and argued that the Golden Rule is the means to a good life. My objection is that some have a radically different conception of the good life and their interests which does not imply the Golden Rule and may not be compatible with it. So why do those who delight in harming the weak -- and they do exist -- have a delight which is bad and unworthy? The Golden Rule does not serve their interests as conceived by themselves. Why should they follow it anyway? Do you have a reason? Or will you "mind your own business"?

107 posted on 05/31/2005 9:56:00 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 104 | View Replies]

To: voletti

What wars of religion? We have the right of free speech and we use it. As far as Islam goes it's not a war of religion with us.


108 posted on 05/31/2005 9:57:49 PM PDT by Tribune7
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: voletti

Europe has had a hundred wars of religion, America has had zero. What is this nut talking about?


109 posted on 05/31/2005 10:02:45 PM PDT by cookcounty ("We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts" ---Abe Lincoln, 1858.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: liberallarry
So to you "better" and "perfect" reduce to personal satisfaction and the well-being of ourselves and the people we happen to care about for whatever reason. But how is this morality?

If all cultures recognize puberty then that's a universal - one of many that I know exist.

They'd have to be pretty benighted not to notice it happening. It's a biological fact.

Ought they to recognize it? Should it be part of what makes a person eligible to marry?

I'm dead serious about this. All cultures have, at one time or another, defended all sorts of nasty stuff. That doesn't mean I agree with any of it

If you really did mean what you said about the people who make up the society deciding what is right dead seriously, then yes, you agree with it. ALL of it. Not one exception.

110 posted on 05/31/2005 10:14:54 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 106 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
But how is this morality?

Indeed. But that's how it is.

Ought they to recognize it? Should it be part of what makes a person eligible to marry?

I think they should...but I don't think every culture agrees with me and I know many individuals don't.

If you really did mean what you said about the people who make up the society deciding what is right dead seriously, then yes, you agree with it. ALL of it. Not one exception.

Please! This is just sophistry. In no culture do you get universal agreement about anything. You're lucky if you get a majority.

111 posted on 05/31/2005 10:20:31 PM PDT by liberallarry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 110 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
You belligerently claim:

--- you're simply acting without reference to morality.
In your case because you've subsumed morality to self-interest. If treating others nicely promotes your idea of the good life, then, perfectly amorally, you'll behave relatively decently. But others may have different ideas of the good life. What will you say to them?

You find it necessary to "say" something to those who have different ideas, and find this to be 'moral behavior'. I do not. I mind my own business.

That they ought not to like what they like? But then you need some standard by which to judge their delights bad and unworthy, and then you would need to explain where this standard comes from and what makes it normative and this, I maintain, cannot be done coherently with a naturalistic worldview.

And there we have a partial answer to "Why is America still so prone to wars of religion?".
What you 'maintain' is religious strife. -- Why not mind your own business instead?

Most of your post is merely a belligerent display of your incomprehension.

I'm simply responding to your own belligerent manner.

You find it necessary to "say" something to those who have different ideas, and find this to be 'moral behavior'. I do not. I mind my own business.

Oh, if someone chooses to act on certain different ideas I would do a lot more than merely "'say' something". I hope you would also.

And there we have a partial answer to "Why is America still so prone to wars of religion?". -- Your belligerency.

As others have pointed out, there is no answer because it's a baseless question. America (unlike Europe) has never been prone to wars of religion and isn't now.

We've been fighting various internecine 'wars' on religious/moral questions since ratification.

What you 'maintain' is religious strife. -- Why not mind your own business instead?

Fascinating. All I've done is speak my mind as protected by the First Amendment -- this is "strife" in your mind and I should stop.

Babble on if you must, but strifeful it is; - to little effect.

But if advocating my views is strife, what about you advocating your views? I haven't made "mind your own business" equivalent to "shut up", but you have, and also declare that you mind your own business, but you still keep talking. Something has become disconnected here. Or perhaps this only applies to views you don't agree with. Now, you said the above two things as an objection to this: That they ought not to like what they like? But then you need some standard by which to judge their delights bad and unworthy, and then you would need to explain where this standard comes from and what makes it normative and this, I maintain, cannot be done coherently with a naturalistic worldview.

Whatever. - You're just repeating yourself.

You seem to have lost track of the conversation. You defined morality by the Golden Rule, and defended this by reference to self-interest and argued that the Golden Rule is the means to a good life. My objection is that some have a radically different conception of the good life and their interests which does not imply the Golden Rule and may not be compatible with it.
So why do those who delight in harming the weak -- and they do exist -- have a delight which is bad and unworthy? The Golden Rule does not serve their interests as conceived by themselves. Why should they follow it anyway? Do you have a reason? Or will you "mind your own business"?

Now you're asking me why evil exists? -- Good grief man.. Talk to your pastor or get some other professional advice. Obviously I can't help you..

-- You started this by asking me a fairly simple question. My answer was unacceptable to you for some strange reason. -- Let's leave it at that.

112 posted on 05/31/2005 10:38:31 PM PDT by P_A_I
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 107 | View Replies]

To: liberallarry
But how is this morality?

Indeed. But that's how it is.

Do you still claim to explain morality, or not?

Ought they to recognize it? Should it be part of what makes a person eligible to marry?

I think they should...but I don't think every culture agrees with me and I know many individuals don't.

So should they or shouldn't they?

f you really did mean what you said about the people who make up the society deciding what is right dead seriously, then yes, you agree with it. ALL of it. Not one exception.

Please! This is just sophistry. In no culture do you get universal agreement about anything. You're lucky if you get a majority.

So you still say that that the people who make up the society decide what is right, but you evade the conclusions this would seem to entail about what is right by requiring they do so unanimously. Which means, as you yourself point out, that they don't decide anything. But with no decision NOTHING is right.

Again: is there any sense in which this is a morality, let alone an account for morality?

113 posted on 05/31/2005 10:38:38 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 111 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
Let me cut this short because I've got to get some sleep.

In my view there is no universal morality, one which is true at all times and all places, for all people. There never has been, even for those who claim that morality is God-given.

The latter have been no more free of disputes, or of what you and I would call heinous acts, or or selfishness and self-righteousness than the rest of benighted humanity.

So why bother with it at all?

114 posted on 05/31/2005 10:44:05 PM PDT by liberallarry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 113 | View Replies]

To: P_A_I
Most of your post is merely a belligerent display of your incomprehension.

I'm simply responding to your own belligerent manner.

And what makes you unable to understand anything deeper than an op-ed piece? You should apply yourself to following a line of argument.

Oh, if someone chooses to act on certain different ideas I would do a lot more than merely "'say' something". I hope you would also.

And there we have a partial answer to "Why is America still so prone to wars of religion?". -- Your belligerency.

Let's try a hypothetical. You come across a man dragging a screaming woman away a knifepoint. Reasoning that if you were in her place, you would want to be rescued, you shoot the man. See? Violence. The man was simply acting on a different idea of the good life -- namely, that it includes raping and murdering. I get to say that his actions are evil and wrong, but if you're being consistent (and you probably wouldn't be -- you'd probably say what is true rather than what is consistent with your false worldview) you'll simply say you happen to dislike his actions. But which is more belligerent, to use violence to stop what is evil and wrong, or to use violence based on your personal dislikes?

We've been fighting various internecine 'wars' on religious/moral questions since ratification.

"Wars" and wars are different things.

Babble on if you must, but strifeful it is; - to little effect.

You have yet to explain why I'm engaging in strife and you aren't, unless you're of the view than everything you don't agree with is strife.

So why do those who delight in harming the weak -- and they do exist -- have a delight which is bad and unworthy?

Now you're asking me why evil exists? -- Good grief man.. Talk to your pastor or get some other professional advice. Obviously I can't help you..

The part I have quoted in bold is, as best I can tell, what you are replying to. But if you look at the rest of the paragraph -- that context thing again -- you will find I was asking if you can provide a basis for that judgment, not assuming the judgment and asking why such things exist (then again, you may not: obliviousness seems to be your style). Again: if there is evil, if it is evil to delight in harming the weak, what is it that makes such things evil? By what standard? You can't just cite the Golden Rule, because you have only defended the Golden Rule itself in terms of self-interest (and I can't conceive of any other defense possible within your worldview) and people who delight in harming the weak judge their interests in a way that precludes the Golden Rule. So at that point what do you say? Or do you kill or imprison them when they act of their desires, not because it is right to do so, but simply because you want to?

115 posted on 05/31/2005 11:11:40 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 112 | View Replies]

To: liberallarry
Let me cut this short because I've got to get some sleep.

Sleep is for wimps!

In my view there is no universal morality, one which is true at all times and all places, for all people. There never has been, even for those who claim that morality is God-given.

The latter have been no more free of disputes, or of what you and I would call heinous acts, or or selfishness and self-righteousness than the rest of benighted humanity.

Why does it matter what you and I would call heinous acts? It's not like our morality is true at all times and places, and according to their morality they were acting rightly. Besides, why do random collections of atoms have a moral status?

116 posted on 05/31/2005 11:19:25 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 114 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
You asked:

So why do those who delight in harming the weak -- and they do exist -- have a delight which is bad and unworthy? The Golden Rule does not serve their interests as conceived by themselves. Why should they follow it anyway? Do you have a reason? Or will you "mind your own business"?

Now you're asking me why evil exists? -- Good grief man.. Talk to your pastor or get some other professional advice. Obviously I can't help you..

-- You started this by asking me a fairly simple question. My answer was unacceptable to you for some strange reason. -- Let's leave it at that.

112 P_A_I

Most of your post is merely a belligerent display of your incomprehension.

I'm simply responding to your own belligerent manner.

And what makes you unable to understand anything deeper than an op-ed piece? You should apply yourself to following a line of argument.

More irrational belligerency. -- You just can't leave it, can you?

Let's try a hypothetical. You come across a man dragging a screaming woman away a knifepoint. Reasoning that if you were in her place, you would want to be rescued, you shoot the man. See? Violence. The man was simply acting on a different idea of the good life -- namely, that it includes raping and murdering. I get to say that his actions are evil and wrong, but if you're being consistent (and you probably wouldn't be -- you'd probably say what is true rather than what is consistent with your false worldview) you'll simply say you happen to dislike his actions.

What can I say? You truly imagine you have all the answers to everything I do, obviously. Dream on.

But which is more belligerent, to use violence to stop what is evil and wrong, or to use violence based on your personal dislikes?

Again, you seem to imagine you've made a big point. - I'm happy for you.

So why do those who delight in harming the weak -- and they do exist -- have a delight which is bad and unworthy?

Now you're asking me why evil exists? -- Good grief man.. Talk to your pastor or get some other professional advice. Obviously I can't help you..

The part I have quoted in bold is, as best I can tell, what you are replying to. But if you look at the rest of the paragraph -- that context thing again -- you will find I was asking if you can provide a basis for that judgment, not assuming the judgment and asking why such things exist (then again, you may not: obliviousness seems to be your style).

You are laboring under a serious misapprehension, -- that your stream of consciousness type paragraphs are decipherable. They aren't.

Again: if there is evil, if it is evil to delight in harming the weak, what is it that makes such things evil? By what standard? You can't just cite the Golden Rule, because you have only defended the Golden Rule itself in terms of self-interest (and I can't conceive of any other defense possible within your worldview) and people who delight in harming the weak judge their interests in a way that precludes the Golden Rule. So at that point what do you say? Or do you kill or imprison them when they act of their desires, not because it is right to do so, but simply because you want to?

Your stream of gibberish defeats me once again. Its late.. Try to give me some more lucid stuff in the morning if you want an answer.

117 posted on 05/31/2005 11:42:22 PM PDT by P_A_I
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 115 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
Why does it matter what you and I would call heinous acts? It's not like our morality is true at all times and places, and according to their morality they were acting rightly. Besides, why do random collections of atoms have a moral status?

Most of us do have moral opinions, ideas of what is right and what is wrong, how people should act and how they should not act, and of what kind of world we wish to live in. It is much preferable to act in accord with these beliefs than to do otherwise.

It is also true that all choices and all acts have consequences - even though many times these are not predictable and the connections are not direct or even traceable. I prefer our society to others I am familiar with so I try to act in accord with and support its pillars - those choices, rules, acts which I believe constitute its bedrock. I think others do the same. Since circumstances change one must adapt and its not easy to know how...but I do my best and I think many others do the same.

What more do you want?

118 posted on 06/01/2005 7:21:31 AM PDT by liberallarry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 116 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
Quite frankly, the reason I passed over the claim thaty we can determine morality by refering to the law is that... that particular claim is remarkably stupid.

You are quite right here. The only problem is that there was no claim that "we can determine morality by referring to the law." The word "law" appeared in a context.

Looking at that context, I immediately saw three very obvious interpretations that did not need clarity at that point in the discussion as such distinction were completely unnecessary to what was being argued.

The only criticism that I might attach to the use of the word "law" in the particular context, is that it was unnecessary, as 'personal experience, history, and science' completely triangulate both the rise of, as well as the means of determining morality as a concept. Admittedly the inclusion of "law" brings a specificity not presented in the other three. On the other hand "law" is a source for determining existing societal rules, and there by qualifies as a source for determining morality by definition.

We're talking about whether a worldview which rejects the supernatural can account for morality. Here, the positive claim is that it can.

I quite carefully addressed my reply to what was being discussed. Morality as a concept is quite capable of being explained without mention of the supernatural by definition. Theoretical explanations for its first cause stand quite independent of the supernatural. It can be seen among grooming practices of non human primates as well as in day to day right and wrong decisions made by humans, all independent of the supernatural. The burden of proof lies with those that say the supernatural is necessary for morality to exist. Such has not been presented.

119 posted on 06/01/2005 1:45:34 PM PDT by jackbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 99 | View Replies]

To: liberallarry
Why does it matter what you and I would call heinous acts? It's not like our morality is true at all times and places, and according to their morality they were acting rightly. Besides, why do random collections of atoms have a moral status?

Most of us do have moral opinions, ideas of what is right and what is wrong, how people should act and how they should not act, and of what kind of world we wish to live in. It is much preferable to act in accord with these beliefs than to do otherwise.

But the people who committed what you and I would call heinous acts in service of their morality were acting in accord with their beliefs. So were they acting heinously or was it preferable to do what they did?

I prefer our society to others I am familiar with so I try to act in accord with and support its pillars - those choices, rules, acts which I believe constitute its bedrock. I think others do the same.

Indeed, and not just in America. Saudis who prevent women from driving are protecting the bedrock of their society as they see it, which is the society they prefer. Is this merely a difference of taste, like prefering techno over classic rock?

120 posted on 06/01/2005 7:56:23 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 118 | View Replies]

To: jackbob
You are quite right here. The only problem is that there was no claim that "we can determine morality by referring to the law." The word "law" appeared in a context. Looking at that context, I immediately saw three very obvious interpretations that did not need clarity at that point in the discussion as such distinction were completely unnecessary to what was being argued.

Clarity is always necessary. And there's nothing obvious about how adding law to three non-normative areas of knowledge gives you a morality different from law by itself.

The only criticism that I might attach to the use of the word "law" in the particular context, is that it was unnecessary, as 'personal experience, history, and science' completely triangulate both the rise of, as well as the means of determining morality as a concept.

If you're going to make a claim like this, you should explain it and defend it with arguments.

Admittedly the inclusion of "law" brings a specificity not presented in the other three. On the other hand "law" is a source for determining existing societal rules, and there by qualifies as a source for determining morality by definition.

As best I can tell, you claim here that existing societal rules are the definition of morality. Are you prepared to defend as moral everything ever required by a social rule which has existed?

We're talking about whether a worldview which rejects the supernatural can account for morality. Here, the positive claim is that it can.

I quite carefully addressed my reply to what was being discussed.

Trying to change the subject is not carefully addressing what was being discussed.

Morality as a concept is quite capable of being explained without mention of the supernatural by definition.

Perhaps, but I have not yet seen anyone demonstrate this by providing the explaination.

Theoretical explanations for its first cause stand quite independent of the supernatural. It can be seen among grooming practices of non human primates as well as in day to day right and wrong decisions made by humans, all independent of the supernatural.

You're still not getting the topic. I have not asked why people (or monkeys) do you things you or I would label moral, I've asked why, within your worldview, morality makes sense as a category. What makes some actions good and others bad? By which standard do you judge that some options are more moral than others? Whence comes "ought"?

The burden of proof lies with those that say the supernatural is necessary for morality to exist. Such has not been presented.

On the contrary. In this discussion, the naturalists are attempting to defend a highly counterintuitive claim: that random, meaningless aggregations of atoms ought to behave a certain way. And have not succeeded.

121 posted on 06/01/2005 8:19:56 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 119 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
Clarity is always necessary. And there's nothing obvious about how adding law to three non-normative areas of knowledge gives you a morality different from law by itself.

I think it is quite obvious that the small insight into morality gained from looking at "law by itself" is almost nothing compared compared to the wide ranging and depth of insight that can be gained from personal experience, history and science. Additionally your categorizing personal experience, history and science as "non-normative areas of knowledge" immediately leads me to ask; what is it that you call a normative areas of knowledge?

As for clarity, it is not always necessary. For example when various possible interpretations of a single word lead to the exact same understanding in addressing a particular topic, then it is unnecessary to set out exactly which definition is being used. That kind of clarity is asked for at the point when a distinction becomes necessary and not before. Other wise, almost every other word in a text would need to be defined, even where an unknown prior understanding was already assumed and accepted by both, just not expressed. To avoid such wasted use of words, clarity is assumed until one raises a particular question necessitating further clarification.

As best I can tell, you claim here that existing societal rules are the definition of morality. Are you prepared to defend as moral everything ever required by a social rule which has existed?

You should re-read what I said. At no time did I claim or even come close to implying that "societal rules are the definition of morality." Do you just make this stuff up so as to be able to answer your self? Additionally I never said, nor implied, that all social rules are moral.

If you're going to make a claim like this, you should explain it and defend it with arguments.

I am more than ready to defend any statement I've made with an argument, where the statement is actually disagreed with. But I'm not going to attempt to read your mind so as to determine in advance which statements you are going to say are in need of a supporting argument. In that case I would have to make an argument for every phrase in every sentence written.

Trying to change the subject is not carefully addressing what was being discussed.

In this discussion, the naturalists are attempting to defend a highly counterintuitive claim: that random, meaningless aggregations of atoms ought to behave a certain way. And have not succeeded.

You claim that I am trying to change the subject? There has been no discussion on this thread about the physics of atoms. No claim has been made by anyone other than you as to behavior of "random, meaningless aggregation of atoms." If I am wrong here, please state the posted reply number # where such a claim was made. The only one attempting to change the subject under discussion is you.

I stated in a prior reply which you quoted:

Morality as a concept is quite capable of being explained without mention of the supernatural by definition.

To which you replied:

Perhaps, but I have not yet seen anyone demonstrate this by providing the explaination.

Yet when I look over the replies by liberallarry and P_A_I , I find that they have more than adequately explained this in substantial detail. Both appear quite bewildered as to what more you could possibly want. The lack of clarity on your part further confounds any assessment as to what it is you are looking for.

122 posted on 06/02/2005 1:15:25 AM PDT by jackbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 121 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage; liberallarry; P_A_I
From my last reply #122 I wrote:

Yet when I look over the replies by liberallarry and P_A_I , I find that they have more than adequately explained this in substantial detail. Both appear quite bewildered as to what more you could possibly want. The lack of clarity on your part further confounds any assessment as to what it is you are looking for.

It seems by your replies to them and to me, that you are in search of something more simplistic or basic than they are willing to waste time trying to explain. If simple is what you want, then lets look at that way.

It should be quite simple for you to visualize a primitive family living by a stream at some time in their past trying to catch fish using only their hands. After a period of time, a better method of using a large rock or log to hit the fish first comes into practice. Still later, use of a spear brings even greater efficiency. At this point we can see a clear development of the concept of right and wrong in getting fish from the stream.

Then after a bountiful harvest of fish, a hill top family comes down to the stream to steal fish. After a victorious battle over the fishing family, they return to their hill top to feast upon their stolen fish and to lick their battle wounds. But wounds fester, and death soon overtakes a few of the victorious family members.

How many times a hill top family will go on to wage such a war with an abundant supply of grapes and berries, is not known. But judging from our history of human capacity for looking out for ones own self interest, it is reasonable to expect that at some point, the idea of trading grapes and berries for fish will come to mind, leading two families to form a tribe to look out for their own self interests.

At this point both families have developed a concept of right and wrong with regard to acquiring the produce of the other. The concept of theft is understood and a low form of morality is clearly in place creating a custom among two inbred families of conscienceless sociopathic people forming a tribe. Since we have no written records from such a distant past, and have never observed the birth of any of the many different kinds of primitive tribes that have been scientifically studied, knowledge here is limited to the theoretical and not the actual. Thus the assumption here that the families are sociopathic and lacking in any kind of individual conscience is not supported. Add individual peoples conscience to the model and morality only would have developed sooner and quicker.

Since you have not been clear as to exactly what it is that you are looking for in an answer, I hope this rather simplistic explanation does it for you. The rest of your questions on this thread can quite easily be figured out by extending this little story to greater complexities of problems. As far as conscience goes, it is possible that it is only an illusion derived out of a trained highly complex sense of self interest imprinted over time from experience, and/or a product of the genetic code built in to our biology by DNA. I tend to think both.

123 posted on 06/02/2005 1:55:20 AM PDT by jackbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 121 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
Recognizing that all moral systems are man-made and imperfect is not the same as approving of all of them are assuming they are all of equal worth.

I like my way of life and I intend to defend it...and extend it. If it turns out that I've made mistakes, so be it.

124 posted on 06/02/2005 7:02:52 AM PDT by liberallarry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 120 | View Replies]

To: voletti

Dear Economist,

I have two words in response to your "think piece".

Northern Ireland.

Yours Truly,

An American


125 posted on 06/02/2005 7:06:25 AM PDT by Bryan24
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorMichael
I wouldn't call the Economist socialist. They're liberal, in the free market sense. They just said they don't mind being called ultra-liberal. They're what we'd call socially liberal, economically conservative.

It's the one weekly magazine I read. Time and Newsweek are probably more leftist, on the whole, and have 1/10 of the coverage.

126 posted on 06/02/2005 7:10:04 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage

No naturalist I know of thinks humans are 'random, meaningless aggregations of atoms'. Can't you crusaders for morality muster even a smidgen of intellectual honesty?


127 posted on 06/02/2005 7:12:16 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 121 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Professor
"........Time and Newsweek..........have 1/10 of the coverage........."

Careful now! There are enough contentious screwballs here at FR that you could be opening yourself up to a flame war.

128 posted on 06/02/2005 7:25:07 AM PDT by DoctorMichael (The Fourth Estate is a Fifth Column!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 126 | View Replies]

To: jackbob
I think it is quite obvious that the small insight into morality gained from looking at "law by itself" is almost nothing compared compared to the wide ranging and depth of insight that can be gained from personal experience, history and science.

Wide ranging, deep insight still doesn't tell you what you ought to do without some concept of a good to be pursued, which cannot be supplied by those things. The closest would be seeing a good in your personal experience an realizing you want it -- but what sets this good about from the things you see and don't want?

Additionally your categorizing personal experience, history and science as "non-normative areas of knowledge" immediately leads me to ask; what is it that you call a normative areas of knowledge?

"Giving directives or rules" -- dictionary.com

As for clarity, it is not always necessary. For example when various possible interpretations of a single word lead to the exact same understanding in addressing a particular topic, then it is unnecessary to set out exactly which definition is being used.

I've tried to think of an example where different senses of a word might work equally well, and I can't. After all, there's a reason we consider them different senses. So you're babbling here. Of course, in real life the meaning is usually clear from context. But none of this relates to the problem, which has nothing to do with one particular word. It's a whole claim which looks and smells like a non sequitur. Personal experience, history, and science; therefore morality. But why?

As best I can tell, you claim here that existing societal rules are the definition of morality. Are you prepared to defend as moral everything ever required by a social rule which has existed?

You should re-read what I said. At no time did I claim or even come close to implying that "societal rules are the definition of morality." Do you just make this stuff up so as to be able to answer your self? Additionally I never said, nor implied, that all social rules are moral.

You said:

On the other hand "law" is a source for determining existing societal rules, and there by qualifies as a source for determining morality by definition.

So law is a source for determining existing social rules and is "there by" a source for determining morality by definition, thus morality by definition must be social rules; or else the whole thing is meaningless blather, which wouldn't surprise me in the least.

If you're going to make a claim like this, you should explain it and defend it with arguments.

I am more than ready to defend any statement I've made with an argument, where the statement is actually disagreed with. But I'm not going to attempt to read your mind so as to determine in advance which statements you are going to say are in need of a supporting argument. In that case I would have to make an argument for every phrase in every sentence written.

As it happens, I made things simple for you by quoting it, so if you are indeed more than willing to defend any statement you made, go ahead and do it, don't waste pixels with this irrelevant stuff about reading minds. I laid it out in italics.

Here, I'll do it again and make it even more specific:

'personal experience, history, and science' completely triangulate both the rise of, as well as the means of determining morality as a concept.

Explain and defend that.

You seem to prefer to try to make me guess at what you had in mind. And by pure guesswork I'd say it has something to do with self-interest, personal experience etc. showing the best way to advance it. But let's not argue my guess at your meaning. Explain it yourself.

In this discussion, the naturalists are attempting to defend a highly counterintuitive claim: that random, meaningless aggregations of atoms ought to behave a certain way. And have not succeeded.

You claim that I am trying to change the subject? There has been no discussion on this thread about the physics of atoms. No claim has been made by anyone other than you as to behavior of "random, meaningless aggregation of atoms." If I am wrong here, please state the posted reply number # where such a claim was made. The only one attempting to change the subject under discussion is you.

Now this is a remarkable paragraph. When my opponent is reduced to this level, I think I might legitimately claim victory and stop.

Yet when I look over the replies by liberallarry and P_A_I , I find that they have more than adequately explained this in substantial detail. Both appear quite bewildered as to what more you could possibly want.

What I want is very simple: an explanation of why a person ought to behave one way rather than another which he might prefer that makes sense within the naturalistic worldview. Attempts have been made, but none have stood up to examination.

129 posted on 06/02/2005 8:36:12 AM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 122 | View Replies]

To: jackbob
It seems by your replies to them and to me, that you are in search of something more simplistic or basic than they are willing to waste time trying to explain.

In one sense, I am looking for something "basic", but not in the sense you evidently have in mind. I'm not looking for "simplistic". But laboring under this misapprehension, you decided to "waste time" to explain something I've never inquired into, and when explanations have been repeatedly offered anyway I've tried to get back on topic. In your case, it was a little just-so story about cavemen deciding to make love, not war, and becoming Stone Age James Madisons knowing the advantages of union. I doubt very much it ever happened like that, but that's beside the point. Somehow or another, people behave "morally". Great. Never argued otherwise. But why, for you, does morality even make sense as a concept? Why does the later behavior have a different status from the earlier?

130 posted on 06/02/2005 8:51:43 AM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 123 | View Replies]

To: liberallarry
Recognizing that all moral systems are man-made and imperfect is not the same as approving of all of them are assuming they are all of equal worth.

So do you say they aren't of equal worth?

By what standard?

131 posted on 06/02/2005 8:54:32 AM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 124 | View Replies]

To: voletti

Because it isn't?

Dan


132 posted on 06/02/2005 8:57:08 AM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Professor
No naturalist I know of thinks humans are 'random, meaningless aggregations of atoms'. Can't you crusaders for morality muster even a smidgen of intellectual honesty?

That the naturalists you know are too cowardly or thoughtless to follow their ideas to the necessary conclusion isn't my fault. It seems they would prefer to borrow some idea of the dignity of man from Christianity, which only means they find something attractive in Christianity, or rather in the cultural residue of Christianity. But how long can men live on cultural residues?

133 posted on 06/02/2005 9:04:03 AM PDT by A.J.Armitage (http://calvinist-libertarians.blogspot.com/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 127 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
That the naturalists you know are too cowardly or thoughtless to follow their ideas to the necessary conclusion isn't my fault.

That's moronic, frankly. Nowhere does naturalism lead to the conclusion humans are 'random, meaningless aggregations of atoms'.

134 posted on 06/02/2005 9:12:20 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 133 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage; jackbob
Jackbob wrote: Yet when I look over the replies by liberallarry and P_A_I , I find that they have more than adequately explained this in substantial detail. Both appear quite bewildered as to what more you could possibly want.

What I want is very simple:
an explanation of why a person ought to behave one way rather than another, - which he might prefer, - that makes sense within the naturalistic worldview.
Attempts have been made, but none have stood up to examination.

You refuse to see that our attempts to explain are met with your inability to understand, based on your flawed view of a 'naturalistic world'.

People naturally [out of self interest] behave & interact with others using the golden rule, a rule they naturally learn in infancy.
People who behave this way have a better chance of survival/reproduction than those who bite the hand that feeds them.
-- Thus we have the beginnings of natural law & moralities, handed down thru generations of survivors.

This is a fairly simple, self evident process to those who think in a rational manner.

135 posted on 06/02/2005 9:38:28 AM PDT by P_A_I
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 129 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
Personal experience allows us to remember what we already have determined to be a good, and in part to verify our methods of judging goods prior to experiencing them first hand. History affords us opportunity to learn of goods already determined without risking the pitfalls of having to experience available options first hand so as to determine what is good. Science provides a method observing, finding, assessing goods, as well as even creating new goods. Add reason as a glue to combine these three together, and we have the historical beginnings of philosophy on which all other philosophical disciplines have been developed.

What sets good apart from the things you see and don't want, is desire and cost. It is really quite simple at this level, I'm surprised you needed to ask.

For the sake of clarity, I asked you what you call a normative areas of knowledge. You then state "Giving directives or rules" which is not an area of knowledge in and of itself. You then provide a link to a dictionary. Here it seems that you are confusing knowledge of normative ethics with normative knowledge. They are not the same thing.

I've tried to think of an example where different senses of a word might work equally well, and I can't.

Your peculiar use of "normative" is a good example. Another example is your interpretation that the non-sequitur: Personal experience, history, and science; therefore morality, was even being put forth. But the most glaring example of yours is:

So law is a source for determining existing social rules and is "there by" a source for determining morality by definition, thus morality by definition must be social rules; or else the whole thing is meaningless blather, which wouldn't surprise me in the least.

A statement that "law is a source...", is not the same as saying that "law is the source...", but you interpreted it as such. The result of this small narrow interpretation you put on the word "a" is enough to cause you to wrongly jump to a conclusion that what is being proposed is that "morality by definition must be social rules." You even persistently continue this wrong interpretation even after being advised that such was not being proposed.

I asked you to "please state the posted reply number # where..." naturalists on this thread were making a claim about the behavior of "random, meaningless aggregation of atoms." Your reply was that "when my opponent is reduced to this level, I think I might legitimately claim victory and stop." Victory at what? Making the biggest false statement? When you first introduced "atoms" to the discussion, I at first chose to skip everything written by you as bordering on ridiculousness. Only later out of fairness did I later go back and follow your line of reasoning. Your sophistry is sophomoric in quality. When unable to adequately argue a point, you seem to either purposefully misinterpret what is said or change the subject by bringing in the irrelevant, and then immediately insult or accuse your opponent of changing the subject.

What I want is very simple: an explanation of why a person ought to behave one way rather than another which he might prefer that makes sense within the naturalistic worldview. Attempts have been made, but none have stood up to examination.

They have stood up. You just ignore and misinterpret what is said out of fear that it undermines your own personal world view. The primary reason one ought to behave one way rather than another is that desires as well as costs lead to values which direct our every action. When ever a better way is determined to exist, be it by ethical inquiry or any other means, the costs of doing so will be measured, sometimes imprecisely against the values held by an individual. At the societal level, the transmission of better evaluated information and improved explanations show increasing numbers of people the cost advantage of either sticking to past or present values and from time to time replacing them with new or improved values.

136 posted on 06/02/2005 12:30:58 PM PDT by jackbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 129 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
But why, for you, does morality even make sense as a concept?

Considering that there are many different ways of answering this question, and no matter which one I chose, you will say that it is not the type of answer you are looking for or will reinterpret the question so as to make it not the answer you are looking for, I choose not to answer at this time.

If you are honestly looking for an answer, then first set the type of answer you want, by answering the question yourself. I'll then answer it in kind with my own answer, expressing my own position.

137 posted on 06/02/2005 12:44:16 PM PDT by jackbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 130 | View Replies]

To: A.J.Armitage
By what standard?

You're looking for something which doesn't exist...and we're going around in circles. I've already told you how I make my judgements. I look at my experience, at science, at history, at law. I check my inner thermometer - my conscience. Then I choose. I don't have to consult my mommy or my daddy or big brother in the sky.

138 posted on 06/02/2005 7:56:09 PM PDT by liberallarry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 131 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-5051-100101-138 last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson