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Old Jun 20, 2013, 06:00 PM   #101
Huntn
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Well, if moral absolutes only exist because without the threat of hell, are you really a moral person? Or, just someone scared of God's punishment?
That's one of my favorites. Are you moral or just a good rule follower for fear of burning? From a philosophical standpoint, your morality only really counts from a free choice option without fear of punishment.
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 06:15 PM   #102
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Morality is for people who don't trust their instincts.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 12:19 AM   #103
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I am curious about one thing from our Atheists out there. Without religion how do you define your moral absolutes?
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Be realistic. Religious people do not believe in moral absolutes. They claim that they do, they pay the moral code proper lip service, but when it comes down to landing on the wrong side of the moral border, they call in a cagey shyster to find the loophole in the fine print. Biting the bullet and doing the right thing is no easier for the faithful than for the unbeliever in fact, when you got Jesus there at the ready, to bleed for you and heal your straying soul, hey, sinning just got that much easier. I honestly see no reason to imagine that the faithful are somehow morally better.

Thing about morality is it cannot be absolute or it will start to fail. If you call it absolute and then start defining exceptions (stand your ground), your are simply being dishonest with yourself. The atheist looks at a given situation and determines on the basis of whatever factors are involved what the most moral course is. Sometimes it is a piece of cake, sometimes it is passing difficult, but in the end, we are all people, this is the one life we get, we must do our best for each other and ourselves. How hard is that to figure out?
The origin and validity of moral absolutes are discussed extensively in The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoyevsky's own religious views are not completely clear, but, he seems to have been a kind of "Christian Deist" like George Washington. The challenge in The Brothers Karamazov is the idea that "Without God .... everything is permitted."

Reading The Brothers Karamazov is rather more dramatic than reading Frederick Copleston's History of Philosophy followed by a textbook on Ethics (Jacob's Dimensions of Moral Theory perhaps?)

The problem here is that the simple question, "Without religion how do you define your moral absolutes?" requires careful thought and subtle reasoning that can't easily be captured in a sound bite.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 03:22 PM   #104
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Philosophers have discussed, argued and defined codes of ethics over the millennia, many of which include the same basic values as promoted by most mainstream religions, but without appealing to a probably spurious authority.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 05:34 PM   #105
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Well, I do hope humans will finally figure out what it means to be ethical. Otherwise, humans won't be able to program robots to behave ethically.

And I, for one, would hate to be a passenger in a robotic driverless-car that didn't behave ethically.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 06:32 PM   #106
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...or perhaps to be killed by an ethically-unchallenged drone strike?
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 06:53 PM   #107
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...or perhaps to be killed by an ethically-unchallenged drone strike?
If autonomous, I assume said drone was programmed to adhere to the philosophy of state consequentialism.

What could possibly go wrong?
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 06:57 PM   #108
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It's kind of amusing that religious absolutists pay so much lipservice to "Morals" and "Ethics" when the moment no one's looking people will abandon their ethics the moment it suits them.


(Oh and for you non-gamers, the line is the Assassin's Creed from the game of the same name; the English translation is "Nothing is true, everything is permitted". It kinda fit the discussion of ethical AI and the like.)
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 10:51 PM   #109
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It's kind of amusing that religious absolutists pay so much lipservice to "Morals" and "Ethics" when the moment no one's looking people will abandon their ethics the moment it suits them.
If only. "No one's looking" is the best-case scenario. More likely, el dios will become a participant in what the rest of us would consider immoral behavior. But, you know, it is OK because it has the stamp of divine approval. Who in their right (or left) mind would judge the actions of Tomas de Torquemada morally acceptable? Or Mohammed Atta? Yet, their deity said to do this, because those victims were nasty, evil, unclean people who deserved their fate.

Most believers are not like that, AFAIK, they just get by like everyone else. Some, though, do get out of hand, and they "are not doing wrong" because they got the sky fairy traipsing alongside them saying this is OK, this is proper, this is needed. Religion is supposed to improve us, this part of it seems to me to be a lot like the opposite of improvement.
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