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Nicholas Lukowiak


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There exist objective moral truths

I do believe there exist objective moral truths, such as, "a person being punished for something they did not do is wrong."

But, there exist counter arguments and positions which believe there are no objective moral truths, because ethical knowledge is usually subjective or relative which means they cannot be consider objective. Such as non-cognitivism and emotivism

Obviously the process to figure out what is objectively moral would be a difficult one, but can it be done? Consensually, empirically?

Are there objective moral truths? What are they?!?!


Closing Statement from Nicholas Lukowiak

Dear future interested reader,

IF there is anything to take from this closed debate, it is the fact one must define their terms and defend them in order to be 'right'. This creates monumental problems when debating with other people. So, try to stick with the most recognizable or common context of terms.

As far as being 'objective' I propose there is no way around being first subjective. While many believe since we are automatically subjective, we can never not be subjective. I see much error in this way of thinking, but appreciate the challenge of figuring out why. I believe in process/procedure in alignment with all of the universe. There is nothing that exist without evolving... Change in decay, [re]production, or [re]acting... Therefore, to assume there exist an 'objective truth' and then believing we can never know the exact nature of such... Seems counter-intuitive and only productive in a form of absurdity. The sciences are very successful building off of what is considered objective;by means of community, consistency and consensus.

Morality is individual. Ethics is the subject of morality. A moral decision is a personal one, not a communal thing. Although communities can dictate an individual's morals... The moral is still the individuals'.

I believe there are objective moral truths.

No one can make an argument genocide is proper or punishing an innocent is amazing! These thoughts are innately wrong for a reason... We are naturally endowed with wanting to seek social acceptance, and that involves questioning what we accept with how others treat us socially. If you, yourself, do not enjoy being harmed, what makes you think another would? What human doesn't want the basic needs of life?

What made people not want to accept my position is the immediate condition of the world... Well, the world, cultures, work in giant cultural cycles... Figuring them out helps.

Keywords: Prosocial selection and evolutionary psychology

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    Jan 2 2013: Hey Nic,

    Could you add Sam Harris Talk to the description, I think it would be useful.
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      Jan 2 2013: AS Sam Harris proves biased, I prefer not to... Although I feel the 'religion v. science' debate is a naive one... religion can teach morals as well, does, has and will continue to do so... We can have a conversation of obj. moral truths without appealing to any particular philosophy.
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        Jan 2 2013: I beg to differ, science isn't biased, religion is. Sure religion has a lot to teach about moral values, or what we perceive as them but each religion has their own moral values, if we're going to come to a conclusion on this science is the only thing that can answer it. After all you're looking for objective truth, right?
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          Jan 2 2013: The idea of science has no universal application... Harris however, was the one I was referencing as being biased. Although, upon some research one can find an entire field of philosophy (feminist epistemology) that would argue the contrary - that our scientific procedures are in fact, biased

          What science 'does' we do need; consensus, consistency... Yes, these are great, what we do not need is the ego part. The experimental philosophy and not the communities of stuck up academics.
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        Jan 2 2013: Well, every person is biased, that includes you and me. And sure the scientific community could sure learn a thing or two about letting their ego go, on the other hand ego is what drives most of us, wither it be pure egoism or in an altruistic way.

        So, yes. Sam Harris is biased but the research he's doing is as far away from biased morality that I've seen.

        Objectiveness can not come from one person or even a consensus form all of mankind. It can only come from the scientific method.

        I claim as he does that morality is about suffering, or rather the lack of it. this can (hopefully) be proved in a not so distant future. But even if it is proved, like evolution or gravity or quantum mechanics is proved there will still be those who claim that it is not so, that their feelings tell them otherwise...
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          Jan 2 2013: Indeed, we are all biased thus we are all limited to our subjective opinions...

          Well, again, I was more directing to Harris' overall 'phantom theme' of his discussion. It is a new age atheist conception of 'science' and not a very general and universal understanding. In fact, just like 'religion' new age atheist (or neoatheist) overstate the word 'science' just as casually... This is the actual bias I am talking about...

          Science (like math, art, history, social studies, etc) is a subject, and nothing more. A subject requires consensus, consistency and community in order to strive... Those are the essential parts to making a method able to have objective results - not some loose definition of science. All the subjects we use/practice have this group-method... Although our western science does the best to understand said method... I would still argue we overestimate our abilities to be objective, far too often.. It's beyond having an ego to believe there is one method to finding answers... It's arrogance and ignorance.

          The fact is, Sam Harris does as well as any new age religious hipster does with explaining morals, because... he has a community of new age atheist supporting his thoughts, blindly. They do not see how they are in fact behaving religiously when they dictate their irreligion. Science is a subject and depending on the sub-subject depends on the method used... So, when there is a science of morals (too late ethics, is the subject), then we can further discuss how science can craft morals, until then, it's a new doctrine to me to suggest a vague idea of scientific method can create morals.

          Ethics is a subject/topic and philosophy is primary - while it has become a subject over time... everyone has personal philosophies and grouped philosophies (society, cultures, religions, etc)... morals are personal and ethics is the discussion (grouped concerned).

          Philosophy can dictate morals, not science.
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        Jan 2 2013: (Damn, i really dislike this stupid thread structure on TED)

        You may consider him to be a phenomenon just because he attracts great attention. But I'd like to make the point that "his" whole community is mostly looking for errors in his logic, that's a major difference that you don't see in other "religions".
        Never heard of a "neoatheist", funny term.

        Science is a subject based on math (the only true language) and observation (the only means we have of attaining information). Yes, science requires community (without a community, people, nothing could be studied), but what brings it forward is the lack of consistency and consensus. Every scientific theory has at some early point been suggested by one or a few that did not have consensus and did not want consistency, that is what brings it forward.

        I understand that you're not one to be an early adopter of new ways of thinking, you seem to believe that the old philosophies hold the universal understanding. I consider them to hold much wisdom, but they can only propel us so far.
        "Until then" I will support this idea with critical thinking, hoping to aid it to be either proved or "disproved", both are good as they would widen our understanding.

        Philosophy can guide science to dictate morals.

        (I hope you don't take any of this as ad hominem, you know I like you right?)
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          Jan 2 2013: I would say Sam Harris gets more support from his community, than not - the community being those who are new age atheist. He is a 'horsemen' for a reason - these terms and ideas do not arise from no where, it took people supporting the ideas to get there and to get HIM there. So, yeah, there is clear cultural bias, when it comes to dictating science as being more than just a subject of inquiry.

          Math is relative... What it applies to is up to theory to make practical... Hard science uses the best math theory to advance... That is all. Well not all, but the general conception, we are still advancing in math... How can we really know if we are advanced in anything else? Check out the top 10 question physicist cannot answer... They oddly seem mystic...

          It's not a matter of old v. new - it's a matter of looking at both and seeing where they overlap.

          Without philosophy there would be no science, and the question of ethics/morals is ancient ... far more literature in philosophy (and religion) than 'science' any day. Perhaps investigating all of their doctrines will dictate overlap and demonstrate consistency, into every community. Difficult for the new age atheist, as they already impress the idea 'religion is bad' - well, that right there, is arrogantly ignorant... And makes looking at history objectively more difficult, indeed looking at the world objectively, becomes more difficult.

          (Always in good faith of conversation, of course!)
      • Jan 4 2013: In regards to your first comment, I would argue that religion can't teach us morality... well any useful morality anyhow. It's true, it does have a few basic principles which are a good idea such as don't murder and don't steal, but these aren't a bi product of religion. These basic moralities are innate in humanity as well as in other apes too.
      • Jan 4 2013: A philosophy based around the supernatural.
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          Jan 4 2013: I define it a little differently....

          Religion - dogmas, social/cultural norms, metaphysical/philosophic concerns, appealing to authority, and (but not limited to) methods of indoctrination.

          Can you see where the context of religion can alter an entire conversation?

          Religion being an ample part of any society... Of course it teaches morals. The fundamentalist religions may teach contradictory morality; do one to others, unless they are not the same religion.... But, no matter, they dictate what you reference as basic moralities...

          Well, without the dictation, definition or expression of a moral, we will never know if our actions are moral or immoral. So, yes, religion teaches morals as well as ethics.

          To add: although ancient societies (Egypt and Sumeria) had laws, they still said breaking them would violate the Gods will, and the king was person in charge of punishing those who disobeyed the Gods... So, religion has and will always dictate morals.
      • Jan 4 2013: Well I'd say that our definition of religion is quite similar. Considering a philosophy generally dictates how one thinks and acts, I'd say that includes everything you mentioned, although I wouldn't necessarily include "methods of indoctrination" amongst those as I don't think they would be necessarily tied to the religion... unless it's something like Scientology where the brainwashing seems to be a big part of it.
        Concerning your main point, it seems that I have misunderstood you. I thought you were saying that religion has a monopoly on morality, but correct me if I'm wrong, it seems you are saying that it can act as a guide for one to follow. I'd certainly agree with that and I'd also add that religion is certainly not alone in this domain. Many branches of philosophy offer up moral guidance according to a set of core principles, for example the Star Trek philosophy for Trekkies...(seriously). Also, I would like to further accentuate the point that much of human morality is innate and we don't necessarily need any kind of philosophy, religious or otherwise, to be moral.
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          Jan 4 2013: Correct, religion has no monopoly on morality or ethics.

          I think we will always need some sort of philosophic articulation in order to grasp what is good ethically and not... I see no way out of philosophy. It's just going to happen.

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