OK I admit it, I am tired of this discussion. I've responded to some of your points below, but feel free to respond to only what you really want to (you know, like if I've said something outrageous that you just can't let slide, or if you'd like to answer any of my questions, or certainly let me know if you see any more "smarmy outrage"
) and ignore the rest. Use the delete button freely. Then at the end I've posted another question for you on a different topic (I think it's the one we dropped earlier), if you want to respond to that.
Angela wrote:I think we do mean two different things when we say "not completely arbitrary." You mean that some morals are arbitrary while others are absolute, and I mean that all morals are somewhere in between arbitrary and absolute (and some are more arbitrary than others).
mitchellmckain wrote:No I do not. I don't think either of these are correct. Its more like the form and expression is arbitrary but underneath is something which is not arbitrary. For example, the fact that some countries drive on the right side of the road and some on the left reveals that which side you drive on is an arbitrary matter BUT it is extreme important that you drive on one side or the other the same as everyone else and not on whichever side you feel like. You can try for something complex like driving on the left in Fall and Winter while on the right in Spring and summer but regardless there is still an unchangeable principle involved that will not go away.
OK, thanks for the clarification. Certainly chaos would ensue if we didn't agree on things like which side of the road to drive on, or how many ounces in a pound, or what time 3 o'clock is. This is what we have both agreed on--that morals arise from our learning how to live together in a society. Society won't work without them. So, hey, I agree--that's an unchangeable principle: Morals are necessary to the survival of society.
Angela wrote:1. "values are not implicit in anything unless there is someone to do the valuing"
Sounds like something I said.
Angela wrote:You must mean it differently, though. Otherwise you would also agree to number 2, below. I mean that the only way it makes sense to say that "values are implicit" in a process, object, event, etc., is if there is a sentient being who created the process or object, or made the event happen. So values can be implicit in books, actions, and architecture, for example, because these things are intentional. There is a person behind them who indeed has values and may have expressed those values in the book, action, etc. But it is not logical to say that values are implicit in, say, a tornado, because no one made it happen so it doesn't express anyone's values. Of course, I am assuming that we are using the commonly accepted definition of value ("a principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable").
Still sounds like what I would say, with 1 caveate. Created objects like books and architecture are part of a living process themselves. Their very existence is due to living things creating them as part of their own living and as such they are much like the body organs of pancreas and liver. So it is a little bit funny to say that a human liver has no value except that there is a person who values it. Would that mean that human livers had no value before we people even knew enough about their own biology to know that they exist? Of course not. From that perspective the value of the liver does not depend on how people "value them" at all. LOL
Obviously the human liver has always had a function, a purpose. And it is a little different to say that "there are values implicit in the human liver" (which sounds silly to me) than that "the liver has value." Value, by definition, is something we assign to things ("a principle, standard, or quality considered
worthwhile or desirable"). Now, if you want to use "value" in a slightly different sense, here's another definition (of value
, not values
) that may work better in this context: "Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit" So the liver has value, or usefulness to the possessor, whether or not he knows it exists. If we use that definition of value, we could say, not that morals are based on values
, but that morals are based on their value
, or utility. And we're back to "what works."
4. "because it is all still human, because we can't get out of our human perspective to see what things might look like from an outside perspective, morality is still, ultimately, relative."
Partially yes, but not completely. This is no more true in any absolute sense than any similar dismissal of the discoveries of science.
The recognition that morality is relative to human experience or that science is subject to the (collective) human perspective is not
a dismissal of morality or science. Think about it. There is no dismissal, explicit or implied.
Oh well yes if you want to put it that way. Morality is relative to the process of life itself, but since I cannot see where there would be any morality at all without life, then that seems to me to erase the distinction altogether. LOL
You need more than life to have morality, you need conscious beings living together. Trees don't need morals. If there were only one single conscious being in existence, it would not need morals.
I am defining suicide as "an action the sole purpose of which is to cause one's own death." A person might do this when he believes his life is not worth living anymore. For example, a cancer patient with little chance of survival who is in a great deal of pain. Or a person who has lost everything (home, community, livelihood, family, friends) in a tsunami. My question is do you think it is possible for this to ever be a moral and/or logical choice?
Do you think your example is really that of a person who says that life has no value?
Would such a person end their life with an atomic bomb so as to kill their family and everyone around them as well?
Right so the person we are talking about DOES value life, doesn't he? Seems to me the question here is as I suggested before, not whether what you are doing will end your life but whether you value life or not, and don't forget that quality of life is a part of it.
I guess you thought I was trying to trap you with my question about suicide. My examples weren't supposed to show that people don't value life. I was interested in your thinking on the morality of suicide in different situations.
No my definition of life has nothing to do with continuing to breathe or having a heartbeat.
Angela wrote:Dang, we keep having this problem. You are free to define words and concepts as you wish, but if you are using a definition that differs from the standard one, it would be very helpful if you would include your definition the first time you use the word. The standard definition of life goes something like this: "a. The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism." So what is your definition of life? By your definition, does an unconscious person "live"?
No Angela you do not get away with this smarmy outrage this time.
Had to look up smarmy (this being the first time I have heard it applied to myself), to get a clear idea of what you're accusing me of: "Hypocritically, complacently, or effusively earnest." So was my earnest "outrage" (which I assume you inferred from my use of "dang"?) hypocritical, complacent, or effusive? I agree, you shouldn't let me get away with any of that
Life is a complex and philosophically and even scientically debatable term. Just today I heard a program on NPR about how this whole area between life and death has become a totally gray area.
Sounds interesting. Do you remember what program it was?
Life even according to your sacred dictionary (whichever one that may be) definition,
My "sacred dictionary" is usually whatever comes up first on a google search.
just isn't the black and white thing it has been made out to be. I have EVERY RIGHT to HAVE MY OWN IDEAS ABOUT THIS!!!
Yes, and, hoping you would not think I was trying to deny your rights again, I made sure to point out that "you are free to define words and concepts as you wish" And I completely agree, defining life
is not a simple thing.
So you can stuff it!
Oh dear, what kind of outrage were you experiencing? Not smarmy, I'm sure.
YES WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE DIFFICULTY WITH WORDS. Every single discussion between EDUCATED people will ALWAYS have a difficulty with words, BECAUSE they know better than to assume that the word just means what they have always used it to mean in everyday language!
Yes. I will try to notice more quickly when you are using a word in what seems to me an unusual way, and ask you for a definition before we get deep into discussion. But it would be great if you would also try to anticipate any confusion, and note when your definition is non-standard, if you can.
Life is a particular kind of self-organizing process with the capabilities of creativity, development and learning. We can recognize it when we see it but a simple precise definition is difficult.
Well, I still am not sure if an unconscious person is alive according to your definition.
NEW (old) TOPIC:
You said this on the Frank Turek thread:
mitchellmckain wrote: No one who clearly understood what sin is would want to sin, because its very essence is self-destructive - a destruction of free will and life. Only finite clueless beings would sin. God would not sin because He isn't stupid or self destructive.
This is very similar to the point I was trying to make earlier about people "choosing" hell. People would not knowingly
choose eternal destruction.
My question: If sin is due to a lack of understanding on our part, what would prevent everyone from, at least eventually,
understanding? Low IQ? Does it seem right that the dividing line between heaven and hell is a sort of IQ test?
People are very open-minded about new things--as long as they're exactly like the old ones.
God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.