Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Morals Don't Exist

  • Morals don't exist

    • I hate morals. They don't exist.

    • How do I know that they don't exist? Point to one.

    • If you do think they exist, how do they exist? If morals are objective, such as from God, why should we listen to God? Why is what he says right?

    • I hate morals because there are no answers to these questions. Philosophers have tried for thousands of years and have failed every time. The best we have is utilitarianism, and even that is riddled with problems.

      • Don't even get me started on Mere Christianity. Christian apologists love to attack the simplistic philosophy of Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, but then hold up their own facile piece of philosophical garbage as something special. I won't go into a blow-by-blow deconstruction of it here, but as I've said before, if you think that it holds up, you really need to read more books.

    • The reason why I hate morality the most is precisely because it's so nebulous.

    • What does it mean? Right and wrong? What do those mean?

    • Since all words must come from something external, when I describe something as morally right or wrong, what do I mean.

    • I argue that, especially in religious usage, morally wrong means that elicits a disgust response. Even a mild one.

    • We can use the word to elicit disgust responses from stimuli that would have never done so if we hadn't relied on such a poorly defined concept. We can use words with such a massive amount of wiggle room, that we can apply them to situations and then use the word to manipulate other people to have similar responses.

    • Obviously, we do have some fundamental issues that seem inborn. So in that sense, an inner sense of right and wrong does exist. Cross-cultural studies showing similar determinations about hypothetical situations proves this, but that is an incredibly primal response. It has to be if it's shared by all people.

    • These primal responses are notoriously difficult to explain or tie down with words because the sensations in all likelihood predate the formation of language. We can safely recognize these sensations, but when applying words to them that have a whole bevy of subtle connotations, we have to be careful. Otherwise, we can use language to manipulate these deep feelings and totally fuck with our, and other people's, worlds.


Alkali said...

This is one subject we can agree on. Some time ago I came to conclusion that Right, Wrong and the concept of Morality are simply social constructions that have us to allowed to exist as a social species and hence thrive. Little different from religion.

Groups not predisposed to these ideas got taken care of by Evolution.

Although coming to this conclusion independently, as you might imagine it has been dreamt up before by people far smarter than you on me.

Aaron MC said...

Hi Alkali,

Thanks again for the comment.

I'm aware that the concept of no morals is well-trod ground, but I think that my connection with morals and the disgust response, as opposed to relying on test subjects to interpret the word "moral" and then judge a situation, is novel.

Also, while lots of people talk about this, it receives surprisingly little play in the broader discussion of morality. The religious are positively OBSESSED with moral objectivity, and even the secular seem fixated on determining morals that we can all agree on.

Instead of a linguistic discussion of what morals are, and how the usage of the term evolved, we continue arguing with nebulously-defined terms. It gets us nowhere! The only places where the discussion goes beyond that is in philosophy departments, where I think that it does little good.

So that's why I posted this. I wanted to throw another voice out there in some naive belief that this concept might rise up to the level of talking heads on news stations. While that will likely never happen, one can hope, right?