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A unified moral code

OK, so on my other discussion "Do right and wrong exist?" there's a rather hefty debate raging on the existence of objective moral truths vs. subjective morality. I still hold that the only way to know any kind of objective morality is through personal communication with God. (If you'd like to dispute that with me, go to the "Do right and wrong exist?" discussion please.) I made the point that with subjective morality, nobody can agree with each other and any discussion of "what's the right thing to do about this issue?" breaks down into squabbling and nobody gets anywhere. Several of you on that other discussion claimed that by using reason and science, a unified moral code could be developed that the majority of mankind could agree with, a la Sam Harris. I disagree, I don't think it can be done.
So prove me wrong! Right here on TED, I want the TED community to hammer out a moral code. It needs to be applicable to daily life and issues of our time like illegal immigration, abortion, animal rights, environmentalism, government spending, business ethics, and income inequality. Don't worry about all the objective vs. subjective stuff, as long as it works. Go ahead. Define right and wrong in the way that will most benefit society. Be specific and measurable, and collaborate with everyone else. Once some kind of accord has been achieved, I'll try to put it to the test by suggesting a variety of moral dilemmas and we'll see if it holds. I doubt that we'll even get to that point, but go on, defy me!

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    Feb 28 2013: Dear Scot,
    You write..."OK, so on my other discussion "Do right and wrong exist?" there's a rather hefty debate raging on the existence of objective moral truths vs. subjective morality".

    Does it occur to you, Scot, that you may be fueling the rage?

    In this indroduction, you write..."I still hold that the only way to know any kind of objective morality is through personal communication with God."

    Your profile says..."I'm a staunch Mormon, so that's going to come out a lot in my posts I bet."

    Well Scot, based on reading your comments....I bet you are right about that!!!

    Are you trying to genuinely explore topics? Or are you trying to promote your religion and your own personal beliefs? It appears to be the latter. When one presents a topic like "A unified moral code", and then insists on his/her own personal agenda, it may very well create discontent.
    • Feb 28 2013: I'm not necessarily trying to promote my religion here, but it's true that I'm also not really looking for answers here. What I'm trying to do is make people think in ways they might not otherwise. I feel the discussion about these topics is lacking, simply because a lot of people don't like to think about these things. The philosophies of the day just don't address them in satisfactory ways to me. I also feel genuinely concerned about where our society is headed simply because of the things I've been talking about on these threads. The concepts of right and wrong are fading from the public consciousness, and yet there's more conflict about those very subjects than ever. Name pretty much any kind of ethical issue facing the world, and we're gridlocked about it. We can't move forward because nobody knows what's right or wrong anymore. And nobody seems to be talking about this issue. Am I wrong?

      I see no other solutions beyond people voluntarily choosing to figure out objective morality through spiritual inquiry. And they can't do something they've never heard of. So yes, I talk about that. Some people don't like it. What choice do I have?
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        Feb 28 2013: Much of what you write comes from your personal subjective experience. There are differences in statements that say, "The world is......," as opposed to, "For me, the world is......"
        The difference becomes obvious, one is not talking about "the world" in general, one is only offering a view of the world a perception based on one's experiences, These perception are filtered through ones beliefs. This is what I heard Harris saying in his talk. Science can answer moral questions.

        "it's often said that science cannot give us a foundation for morality and human values, because science deals with facts, and facts and values seem to belong to different spheres. It's often thought that there's no description of the way the world is that can tell us how the world ought to be. But I think this is quite clearly untrue."

        You write, "Name pretty much any kind of ethical issue facing the world, and we're gridlocked about it." I'll suggest that you provide us with three such issues we can explore.
        • Mar 1 2013: Fair point. Three issues would be illegal immigration, abortion, and income inequality.
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          Mar 5 2013: I agree. Why not use science and reason and evidence to work on a moral framework that improves the human condition, and perhaps reduces suffering of other animals?

          Its not easy but is likely to pay off more than saying its too hard, let's all stick with the conflicting religious frameworks we are happy with.
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        Feb 28 2013: Scot,
        Thanks for being clear with your intent. Your topic is: "A unified moral code"

        You write..."not really looking for answers here...trying to... make people think in ways they might not otherwise... feel the discussion about these topics is lacking... lot of people don't like to think about these things...philosophies of the day just don't address them in satisfactory ways....genuinely concerned about where our society is headed simply because of the things I've been talking about on these threads....concepts of right and wrong are fading from the public consciousness...more conflict about those very subjects than ever...name pretty much any kind of ethical issue facing the world, and we're gridlocked about it...can't move forward because nobody knows what's right or wrong anymore... nobody seems to be talking about this issue. Am I wrong? "

        "NOBODY KNOWS WHAT'S RIGHT OR WRONG ANYMORE...NOBODY SEEMS TO BE TALKING ABOUT THIS ISSUE???? Are you listening to your own words Scot?

        First of all Scot, what is your main ISSUE? It appears that you simply want to complain, rather than facilitate solutions. How or why do you think/feel that YOU can guide the creation of "A unified moral code", if you have already put EVERYBODY in a catagory of not knowing anything? Your demeanor seems arrogant, angry and confrontational, and that is NOT a way to facilitate a productive discussion.
        • Mar 1 2013: OH, the problems with text. I'm sorry, I really don't mean to come across that way. I always have had a problem with coming across as arrogant and self-righteous. I've been working on that for years now. Oh well, back to the drawing board on that one. Thanks for pointing that out.
          My main issue is where our society is headed, the moral gridlock. Everywhere I look I see division. Republicans against Democrats, atheists against religious people, rich against poor, educated against ignorant. Nobody seems to have common ground on moral issues anymore. The gap is widening. I wanted to alert people to this.

          If you'll read the debate description, I'm not trying to create a unified moral code here. In fact, I want to prove it's impossible to do with how our society is right now. Does that make more sense? Sorry for creating so much misunderstanding.
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        Mar 4 2013: That's fine, particularly if you consider the points people raise that counter and undermine your position.

        You don't seem to have responded to some of the tougher challenges, or perhaps I have missed it.

        I suggest society today is a lot better than one governed by old testament values.

        You don't seem to get that defining a god concept as perfectly moral with associated dogma still comes back to faith, lacking sufficient evidence to prove the key claims. And that any divine command framework is not necessarily the best morality.

        You haven't answered what you thinks god is trying to achieve or whether we can assess it. You haven't answered whether whatever god says goes, regardless of how perverse it seems. If god ordered you to wipe out the town next door, would this be moral.

        Assuming something is moral because god says seems a pretty weak almost circular position.

        It's a whole different discussion if you asked about what we can do to improve society given the decline in traditional values or growing lack of religious belief or religious engagement.

        Claiming a particular religious morality view is the only way because if we don't assume a god given morality we will never agree completely, simply does not work.

        Imagine there is no interventionist god. What sort of values would you like that society to uphold or strive for?
        • Mar 4 2013: That was supposed to be the point of this thread, for people to come up with values that society could uphold and people could believe regardless of religion or anything else. I don't think it can be done. I wanted to give people a chance to do it, and it still hasn't gone anywhere.
          Also about the answering people's challenges, I can do it. I've had to work through each of those personally too. I could give my answers, but I'm afraid a lot of them would take a long time to explain. There's a lot of context and background necessary to make them make sense. Also my experience with these kind of people is that even if I did explain fully, they'd only come up with something else. I'd just be playing whack-a-mole. In the end, they still wouldn't change their mind regardless of anything I brought up. Why even start?
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          Mar 4 2013: Scot,
          You say...."my experience with these kind of people is that even if I did explain fully, they'd only come up with something else. In the end, they still wouldn't change their mind regardless of anything I brought up".

          Who are "these kind of people"? Why do you want them to change their mind, and what do you want that change to be?

          In a previous comment, you write..."I always have had a problem with coming across as arrogant and self-righteous. I've been working on that for years now".

          How is that workin' for ya?
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    Mar 3 2013: ....
    Scot, instead of asking to be proved wrong, why don't you lay out your position and how you got there. Your moral code and it's origins. Not asking for proof of your conclusion, just an informed argument with reasonable evidence to back it up. A coherent framework. Start at the beginning, what comes first for you and why, and step us through your thinking to your conclusion.

    If you are trying to get people to think in a better way about this and related issues, why not do it by example...
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      Mar 3 2013: His point seems to be if you can not point to religious scripture via revelation as the basis of morality to impose, then it is difficult to agree on a framework.

      The flaws in this thinking are obvious. We will argue about the existence of gods, whose god, who's scriptures, which interpretations etc.

      There is no reason to put one religious framework for morality above any other human constructed morality without the same sort of analysis and debate. Its not a very satisfying position, just assuming divine command is and should be the benchmark.

      Assuming a god to be perfect morally and any perverse moral judgements or actions or threats just a mystery seems to be a convenient cop out.
  • Feb 28 2013: It's been true since the beginning of time.
    You cannot legislate morality.
    I would not want your moral code
    or one that is "hammered out."

    thanX but no thanX
    • Feb 28 2013: Very true. Legislation will always be lacking. So what's the point of of it?
  • Mar 2 2013: What is considered to be right or wrong is up to the current state of mind and culture of people. What was right 700 years ago is morally wrong these days. As culture evolves and people evolve so as their morals with them. To set up morals that work “forever” is impossible. Morals are the current interpretation of what is right and what is wrong in a given society. In example some animals might be ok to eat in some cultures in others they being treated as pets. Are they right or are they wrong? None, they are just different. At other times your accepted morals can go out the window in just a second. When you have to struggle for survival your way of looking at things is dramatically changing. You will do things that were unacceptable for you but now are necessary.
    When you say that morals can only be established through or with God, than you are right, because this view is an interpretation of those who believe a God. But for others who believe a different God or maybe even several other ones your interpretation will not work.
    To simply sum it up: an accepted moral code is a current interpretation of what is right and what is wrong by a given society. It changes over time and it can fluctuate even in short periods due to pressing conditions and may also differ based on religion, region, ethnicity etc.
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    Feb 28 2013: I do not think we'll ever get a unified moral code.

    For one life is too vast and too random to pin point every event and know how to properly act upon that (although many contemplative traditions think you can i.e Daoism).

    Secondly I think you may have misunderstood what Sam Harris was talking about. Because you think God is an objective and unifying principle, you think when Harris talks about objective moral truths, that these truths are unifying and we'll be able to establish a list of good and bad morals as Aristotle attempted to do with his list of Virtues (see Nicomechan ethics).

    Sam Harris knows that while we can seek to understand moral values objectively, he acknowledges that we can never know all of them and that there are more than one way of having a sense of well-being or to suffer.

    His objectivity comes from within the question that he raises. For example, is it morally good to not save your drowning child? Is it ok to eat Owls?

    Harris response to these is that there are answers to this question. Even if we can never know the answer (such as how many clouds are in the sky at the moment?). If anything truth is the independent variable here and this stand outside of human experience.
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    Feb 28 2013: I’ll put forward the Nine Noble Virtues as a unified moral code, for the simple reason that both religion and science embrace them.

    1. Courage
    2. Truth (always seek to discover, see, and accept the truth.)
    3. Honour
    4. Fidelity
    5. Discipline
    6. Hospitality
    7. Self-Reliance
    8. Industriousness
    9. Perseverance

    for example:
    Religions say hospitality is good for your soil, and science see hospitality as good for the exchange of knowledge and ideas. So even though the reason is different, the outcome is the same. And that is all that really matters.
    • Mar 2 2013: When you think of those words, you have in mind an definition and an application. That particular definition and application are not shared by all cultures or even by all countries within a culture.
      For example, Japan may see Industriousness as being behaviour that benefits the country as a whole.
      Industriousness in the United States may be seen as a behaviour that benefits the person first, company second and country well..whenever.
      Also, the definitions may be in conflict.
      Truth to science is not the same truth that the church mandates.
      I personally like a simpler version that is embraced by the scientific process.
      Trust in evidence over belief or wishful thinking
      Question your conclusions and look for ways that you might be wrong.
      Do not hide your evidence or cherry pick facts to serve your purpose
      Be prepared to start again if you are proven wrong.
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        Mar 6 2013: The noble virtues where originated by the Viking, and in those times industrious would have meant to do something in a new more productive or better way. AI: fish using nets instead of spears, develop a new style of saw for carpentry.
        Likely for the benefit for both you and our community.

        FYI: The truth about Viking is far different then the myths of the Vikings, as historians are now discovery.

        I agree these words have different meanings today and in differ per culture, but within them are aspects both science and religions can agree with and incorporate into their ways. AI: religion has lost it way in regards to Industriousness and science needs to develop honor.

        So “Do not hide your evidence or cherry pick facts to serve your purpose” is the virtue of truth.
        And “Be prepared to start again if you are proven wrong.” Could be stated “have the “Courage” to start again if “truth” proves you wrong.”

        I agree that on the face they seems to simplistic, but I think they make a good starting point.
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    • Feb 28 2013: I completely agree. If we're going to move forward at all, it's totally necessary for people to respect each other and actually listen to what the other says without taking offense or personal attacks.
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    Mar 12 2013: I strongly believe in pluralism and respect (almost) all beliefs, and view that everybody should be allow to hold them (even if they do cause some harm.)
    I mean I am a strong believer in "subjective morality" because summed up : "One man's freedom fighter can be another man's terrorist".
    While if I had to say how objective morality would work, it would be an objective scale where you could measure happiness (knowing about synthetic happiness and the paradox of choice, basically every variable in positive psychology which you have) and find out which option would bring about the most amount of happiness. But you can only really do this with hindsight because there are too many variables.
    While you could argue "You might as well try". I mean the main reason everybody will have subjective morality is due to three simple facts (in my opinion, am open to correction) :
    1. People have different data which makes people have different conclusions.
    2. Even with the same data, statistics can be framed in various ways (e.g 90% success rate or 10% failure rate).
    3. Even with the same framing, people can still view that bit of data differently.
    So in that sense we can't all have the same "moral code". But I can imagine that some will argue it is better to try, even if this is so, it is almost impossible with these 3 simple facts.
    I hope this helps, and is relevant to the question,because I feel that I may have got slightly side-tracked! (Hope I didn't :D)
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    Mar 12 2013: You've said:
    "So if 2 parties want to kill each other from what they describe as peace or the greatest glory they can do for their god let them do it. It only becomes a problem when one party does not want to kill the other. Or be killed."

    So all these wars around us are just a problem...

    I quote what I'd like the most.
    "All he needs to do is find some one who is willing to die and kill them, if he cant find a party to kill, he doesn't do it. He respects the other person choices as if the are his own. "

    Really?

    People will just respect others choices...
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    Mar 9 2013: Good challenge Scot. If I don't like the laws or think there are better laws possible, you will ask me to write a %$%$$# constitution!
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      Mar 11 2013: What if you did you and I did me. And the only time there would be a problem is if me being me somehow hurts you
  • Mar 8 2013: "I still hold that the only way to know any kind of objective morality is through personal communication with God." The obvious flaw I see with this question is that religion itself is subjective. How do you account for the different religions, or even the different interpretations within the same religion? I tend to agree that there exists only subjective morality, but I disagree with "God's objectivity".
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    Mar 7 2013: Now for your sake and your sake only we will call this a unified moral code

    This is how objective morality should look;

    We should redefine what peace is? Because whom are you to tell me what my peace is? See if you think we practiced the Golden Rule as defined as this we could create peace.

    Its reciprocal, if party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex then he/she needs to find party (x) that also wants kinky sex and then the do on to others how they would want to be treated and have some crazy kinky sex. If party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex but party (z) does not want to then guess what you do on to others how you would want to be treated and don't have kinky sex with party (z) Because chances are there is something that party y does not want to do. (maybe party z want to kill some one) All he needs to do is find some one who is willing to die and kill them, if he cant find a party to kill, he doesn't do it. He respects the other person choices as if the are his own.

    So if 2 parties want to kill each other from what they describe as peace or the greatest glory they can do for their god let them do it. It only becomes a problem when one party does not want to kill the other. Or be killed

    "this is why we have consent forms, no consent no business"
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    Mar 7 2013: I did you said nothing ...do I need to go back to that page
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    Mar 5 2013: Scott do you have a definition of what morality is?

    And how you distinguish what is morally good and bad?

    If you define morality is gods nature or acting in accordance with a gods will we are lost.

    If say we agree it is about wellbeing or something similar then we have a common framework to start the discussion.
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    Mar 4 2013: A unified moral code is unrealistic.

    There are as many moral codes as communities.
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      Mar 6 2013: But are some codes better than others and could we work towards improving or promoting beneficial values?
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        Mar 6 2013: No.
        Many wars started trying to do it.
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          Mar 7 2013: What if part of the code is realizing that war is ok, if it ok to all subjects involved.....like a war consent form
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        Mar 8 2013: Then Casey, they are a Klingons...
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          Mar 9 2013: This is how objective morality/unified moral code should look;

          We should redefine what peace is? Because whom are you to tell me what my peace is? See if you think we practiced the Golden Rule as defined as this we could create peace.

          Its reciprocal, if party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex then he/she needs to find party (x) that also wants kinky sex and then the do on to others how they would want to be treated and have some crazy kinky sex. If party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex but party (z) does not want to then guess what you do on to others how you would want to be treated and don't have kinky sex with party (z) Because chances are there is something that party y does not want to do. (maybe party z want to kill some one) All he needs to do is find some one who is willing to die and kill them, if he cant find a party to kill, he doesn't do it. He respects the other person choices as if the are his own.

          So if 2 parties want to kill each other from what they describe as peace or the greatest glory they can do for their god let them do it. It only becomes a problem when one party does not want to kill the other. Or be killed

          "this is why we have consent forms, no consent no business"
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    Mar 4 2013: RE: I see no other solutions beyond people voluntarily choosing to figure out objective morality through spiritual inquiry"

    Scott, spiritual inquiry is not going to work. It takes people down all sorts of different intuitive directions.

    And some of us don't believe in magical spirits and gods.

    I suggest you look for rational common ground. Look for a human basis for how to live and improve the human condition, not try and convert people to one particular religious view.

    We probably agree on many issues such as rape. But some are inherently a conflict of values or rights. E..g. Abortion. The rights of the fetus versus the rights of the mother. Women are just human incubators, but abortion is not a great outcome either. And you are against the tide of history when opposing gay rights.

    You need better ways to argue than my god says so. If there are real human and social impacts, I'm all ears.

    You are unlikely to convince me of the Mormon supernatural claims, but you might convince me something improves the human condition on balance or not.
    • Mar 4 2013: Right. This thread was supposed to be designed to have people come up with that common ground. (Maybe I worded that too ambiguously in the description, but too late now.) However, I don't think it can be done. It hasn't been done. If you look at the the 440 comments on the other thread, I sincerely doubt that it'll ever happen that people find rational common ground on most issues facing our nation and the world. But I wanted to give it a chance at least and see if people could do it.
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        Mar 4 2013: "Do onto others...," the Golden Rule seems quite sufficient.
        Let's perfect this simple idea for starters
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          Mar 8 2013: How does this seem

          This is how objective morality should look;

          We should redefine what peace is? Because whom are you to tell me what my peace is? See if you think we practiced the Golden Rule as defined as this we could create peace.

          Its reciprocal, if party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex then he/she needs to find party (x) that also wants kinky sex and then the do on to others how they would want to be treated and have some crazy kinky sex. If party (y) want to have crazy kinky sex but party (z) does not want to then guess what you do on to others how you would want to be treated and don't have kinky sex with party (z) Because chances are there is something that party y does not want to do. (maybe party z want to kill some one) All he needs to do is find some one who is willing to die and kill them, if he cant find a party to kill, he doesn't do it. He respects the other person choices as if the are his own.

          So if 2 parties want to kill each other from what they describe as peace or the greatest glory they can do for their god let them do it. It only becomes a problem when one party does not want to kill the other. Or be killed

          "this is why we have consent forms, no consent no business"
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        Mar 4 2013: I don't think it is quite as bad in practice as the philosophical debate.

        That debate is about objective morality and whether subjective divine command beliefs are any better than humanistic approaches. In part people would like to think there is an easy ultimate moral code, but morality is a human construct. We may wonder if it is ethical to eat other animals, but other animals don't have that capacity. It is ripe for dissent and debate, but may lead us to a more practical way of working together to build a community that promotes the shared values.

        How we get along practically does not even require a perfectly complete unified moral code. Most would agree about sexual and racial equality. Those who don't need to make a rational case without relying on religious arguments for this to work. And non believers understanding how deeply ingrained religious beliefs are and finding effective ways to communicate as best as possible with believers.

        As Theodore points out the golden rule is a good starting point for individuals. I would suggest this could be extended to most of us are happy with the idea that we get consistent treatment. We get the same rights and responsibilities under the golden rule.

        I would suggest basic human rights are a good starting point.

        I suggest there is a lot of overlap in regards to support for freedom of religion, speech both within limits, and against rape and murder in the USA? The key challenges in ethics are when values compete e.g. freedom of religion versus the rights of a child not to be genitally mutilated for religious reasons. Free speech versus liable and slander. State murder via executions etc.

        Just because something is difficult is not a reason to accept any particular supernatural answers with no sound basis. If there is a reasonable case for this, I am yet to hear it.

        In some ways we are similar. We both don't blindly adhere to the religious values of every other religion but yours. I just go one further.
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        Mar 4 2013: Scot,
        You..." wanted to give it a chance at least and see if people could do it."
        How about seeing if YOU can do it?
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    Mar 4 2013: RE: My main issue is where our society is headed, the moral gridlock. Everywhere I look I see division.

    There seems to be political and religious divide in the US. Funny thing is I guess a lot of people probably agree on half the things. But that gets lost.

    If your identity is built around religion, then I'm excluded in part. If your moral values come from religious books, then that limits discussion too. But if we look at what is good for society, if you can detach overt religion from it and discuss why something is good for society or not, then we can have a discussion.

    Non religious people and atheists want pretty much the same things as religious people in general.
    Shelter, food, love, socialization, equal opportunity, equal treatment, helping each other, to feel safe walking the streets at night, not to be robbed or ripped off etc.

    And you might find religious and non religious people on both sides of political issues such as gun control etc.

    I'm not sure vocal debate on issues is a bad thing. But you are not going to uniformly convince everyone homosexuality is evil, or other religious dogma.

    You might think it nice if everyone agrees or follows the same religion. But that isn't about to happen.

    If you are looking for middle ground then you need to look at what is good from a human perspective, independent from all religions. What reduces suffering and improves the human condition.

    The "utopia" of us all being Southern baptists or Mormons or whatever is not an option.

    If people are going to identify 1st as a religious group and not humans then they are isolating themselves from other religions and non religious people.

    I suggest there is common ground in values not overtly religious. Has there ever a golden age in the US?

    Woman got the vote when? Race based civil rights 50 years ago? Atheists are a despised minority. Who are in prison, unemployed etc. Who richer?

    Diversity is likely to increase so I applaud any efforts to look for common ground.
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    Mar 4 2013: ...

    I am sorry I wasted my time on this and the other question you posted about right and wrong.

    You wrote "I still hold that the only way to know any kind of objective morality is through personal communication with God"

    Once I read that I should have just moved on - same old story....
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      Mar 4 2013: Hi Peter,
      Perhaps it is a lesson learned, rather than wasted time? You made a good effort to try to guide it to a reasonable discussion in your other comment. That is apparently NOT what Scot wants to do. It seems apparent that he wants to follow his own agenda, and I'm surprised TED allows it to continue.
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        Mar 4 2013: Thanks Colleen. I've actually gotten pretty good about avoiding this kind of thing, having had too many fruitless political or religious discussions at work, but slipped up this time. Free will and ethics are interesting topics and it can be interesting to have a sort of Socractic discussion about them with thoughtful people.
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    Mar 3 2013: So you think your personal communication with God reliably provides an objective morality? Subjective religious based revelation and personal experiences seem to be one of the most inconsistent and unreliable ways to know anything. Why would you consider this to be a sound basis for a moral system?

    I'm curious, what does your god think about genocide, slavery, eternal punishment, blood sacrifices, and scapegoating. What does your god say should happen to rapists? Marry the person they rape?

    Has your god informed you of some overarching objectives behind its moral pronouncements, or does anything go because you assume your god is perfect, so whatever it says or does is moral by definition, no matter how perverse.
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    Gail .

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    Feb 28 2013: do to and for others as you would like others to do to and for you, because AS you do to and for others, it will be done to/for you, and AS you treat yourself, you will treat others. So if you want to be scorned, look down on the moral inferiority of others. If you want to be respected, respect others. Try it. It works already.

    Is it wrong to disparage yourself - thus causing you to disparage and mistreat others? It is certainly self-destructive, but if your goal is to become the best YOU that you can be, your "mistakes" (rather than wrongs or sins) will be translated into a step on the way to your successful accomplishment of your goal. If you redefine time, there is no "sin". There is only learning.

    I could take this farther, but to do so, one would have to redefine the God that is contrary to scientific evidence.

    The God that you refer to is not the only way to arrive at a viable and rewarding moral code. In fact, IF your God is a figment of your imagination, then your claim that you can only find morality through God is also a figment of your imagination. Thus, to be fair, you must prove that your God exists so that we may find a way to know "Him" in order to understand "Him".
  • Feb 28 2013: Scot,

    No. I didn't mean that. They exist of course. But only in the "subject" The first thing one must understand is this "subject" / "object" relationship. Things are absolutely just as real. But the point is they only exist in the subject side of the relationship that our own thinking creates. Because it is thinking itself that sets up this dualism.
    Think a bit over this relationship. It's the main cause to a lot of misunderstanding in the world of moral philosophy today. I am just a layman . I haven't studied much philosophy. But I have read a book called "Philosophy of Freedom" written by Rudolf Steiner (1921)
    Check it out if you like

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_Freedom
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    Feb 27 2013: Why on earth would you want a unified moral code? That has to be the silliest thing I have heard in a while. Morality is based on values. If anything that is universal. Even yourself with your Biblical bronze age values. Your morals are dictated to you because you value that experience.

    Values are derived from upbringing and experience. Since all our experiences are different, so are our values. I work really hard to pass on the values I have learned to my children and give them the skills to critically review the value systems and morals of others. I would not want to live in a vanilla world of universal morals.

    So in order to have a universal morality, everyone would have to have the same values. Isn't that what your heaven is for? There you can live in a world where everyone thinks and lives exactly as you do.
    • Feb 27 2013: Please don't assume you know everything about my religion because I used the word God in a sentence. I would ask for respect for my values as I respect yours.
      But anyways. That's a great point, that if everybody had the same values, society would be boring. If we change the wording from "universal moral code" to "shared basis for problem-solving" would it change your view, though? Isn't that what morals are all about in a strictly societal sense? Solving problems we have with each other, like the ones listed above. If there's no basis that people can agree on to solve issues, we get gridlocked, like Congress is now. So one of the requirements of this basis could be that it allows for individuality and freedom of choice. What do you think?
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        Feb 28 2013: Hey Scott, I don't assume what I know about your religion because you used the word God. I got it from your responses in the other thread. Please clarify if there are any inaccuracies.

        "Shared basis for problem-solving" is called ethics. It's been around for a while.

        Our values (beliefs) dictate our morality (actions) which helps us construct an ethical life.

        So it starts within each of us and our values which we create from our experience. That leads to our morals and how we behave towards each other. When we reach the level of society we need to discuss ethics which can mean morality across peoples. It is there where problems arise. If I could just have my ethics and my morals there would be no problems. It is at the societal level where ethics and the conversations surrounding ethics are conducted. Happens every day.
        • Feb 28 2013: Right, ethics. What's the difference between ethics and morality? Society is going to need to come up with some kind of ethics in order to move forward on issues like the ones I named above. That's why I created this thread.
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        Feb 28 2013: Do we need to know what your values are so that we don't have to worry about them?
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        Feb 28 2013: @ Scott. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics. Ethics is the platform where individual morals are addressed as they apply to society and/or sentient beings and the world. When we move from I to we.

        @ Ted, No I do not think you need to know my values because like most people, I live them. If I valued money I would do everything I could to get it. Throw people out of their homes or in jail for non-payment. If I valued justice I would want to incarcerate all the bad guys and make criminals pay. Etc. I think it is more important to be able to recognize what values others operate on. It takes practice but it is worth learning.

        For instance, it took me a long time to understand people who value tradition. I just didn't get it. Until I finally got the epiphany it was about comfort and security. Now that I understand it, I can recognize it and we can discuss.
        • Mar 1 2013: Oh ok. To me ethics and morality are more or less one and the same, I used them as synonyms. This debate is more about if it's possible to create a societal ethics that is more or less standard so we could have something to judge our society's direction by. I don't think it's possible, but I wanted to know if anyone else could prove otherwise.
  • Feb 27 2013: Hi Scot,

    I followed your "right and wrong" debate for a short while but fell off. I got involved in another discussion on exactly the same subject. Also Sam Harris was mentioned. There were over 500 comments. Very engaging topic.

    To be the first to "throw stones" is not my "moral" juxtaposition but I will quickly try to point out that the whole idea of a universal moral code is ... an .... OXYMORON

    Thats right... in all caps.

    Morality is a phenomenon existing only within the individual. ... and nowhere else.

    It's 100 percent abstract. It's an empty bag. You can fill this bag with a million different example of moral codes, actions, laws, etc. But the concept "moral" is like the concept "beauty" ... It lives only within the individuals consciousness that is involved in the action under consideration. This action must then be "judged"
    Because the action demands a judgement from the observer or "subject" the value judgement is the combination of the individual observer together with the action at hand. Here is where the whole idea of morality arises. First, and always first in the individual.... Moral, or morality can not be found in the out world nature. It exists only within the depths of the individual human soul.

    It's like looking at a rainbow. You, the active observer, is totally necessary for a rainbow phenomenon to present itself
    You must stand in a particular position to the water mist and the sun. If your not in the right position, then the rainbow could not exist.
    Morality exists only at the mercy of a human thinking mind. ... and absolutely nowhere else.

    Sam Harris should go back to biology and leave philosophy alone.
    • Feb 27 2013: I can respect your view, that's fine. I believe otherwise, but that's ok. The point is, what about society? With no shared basis for making decisions, how do we solve problems like the ones listed above? Why have laws if there is no right or wrong? Anything goes, right?
      • Feb 28 2013: I have the solution Sir/Mam nd i suggest to once give me a chance please i sincerely want to do it .......................................
        Without any benifit except the best benifit Pleasure of my love my God.....
      • Feb 28 2013: Ur doing well Sir ill pray for u nd be pleased to play my part cause the secret is that humanity doesent need technology it needs a unified moral code to grow.......together.... A A