Background Probability

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why be moral?

Suppose you think it is immoral to do X (fill in the blank with something you think is immoral) but you are actually a bit tempted to do it. Why refrain?

A) Because doing so makes the world a better place to live for me and others whom I care about.

B) Because an authority figure (worldly or otherworldly) may well catch me and punish me.

C) Because it is (objectively) right to refrain, and I prefer doing what is right.

If you picked (C), why do you prefer doing what is right?

10 comments:

Rhology said...

Also, if you picked C), how do you know ___ is objectively right?

agnostiChicagOkie said...

I'm doubtful that filling in such blanks is anything more than a hollow academic exercise if people do not have a good reason to care what is in the blanks.

Why be moral?

If you cannot answer that, it matters little that you've a book (presumably written in Hebrew) wherein all moral precepts may be found.

Rhology said...

Indeed.
If I cannot answer that (and, having taken on the atheistic viewpoint to analyse it from the inside, I have found no answer at all), then NOTHING matters. There's no 'ought' to any action at all. So you're 100% right, but I don't know if you'd be too comfortable with the extension of your logic. Logic has a way of squirting out of the box to which you try to confine it.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

I don't think you are quite fit to give the answer from an atheistic perspective, but I am interested in hearing your (theistic) answer. Once again, why be moral?

Personally, I'd pick (a) - as would most any unbeliever that I've known well enough to discuss such matters.

Rhology said...

I used to be an atheist.
Besides, I analyse the atheistic view from the inside, taking on atheistic presuppositions and then applying logic and reason thereto. that's an internal critique, and I don't cheat by appealing to the Bible or anything else. THen I call atheists to critique me. All I ever get are "yeah HUH I *do too* care about what's moral!!!" Which is of course not the question at all.


From the Christian perspective, we must be moral b/c it is right, it is commanded, and it is praiseworthy. Bottom line, it is good.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

Do right b/c it is right?

Do what is commanded because it is commanded?

This seem unduly and confusingly circular. Can you not explain why theists should care about that which is right or commanded?

(I can see why people want to be considered praiseworthy, although I was taught as a Xn to avoid Earthly praise in favor of Heavenly treasure)

Rhology said...

By praiseworthy, I mean praiseworthy from God. That is precisely heavenly treasure, you're right.

We ought to do it b/c God made us to conform to His image. We ought to be like Him, b/c He is the ultimate good, and not to be like Him is evil.

We should care for the same reason as we should do anything else - see the previous sentences. Why we DO care is b/c we have been transformed from God's enemies to His adopted children, to His friends, to loving God. But those are 2 separate questions.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

We ought to do it b/c God made us to conform to His image.

How exactly does the imperative "ought" follow from the "conforming" to the metaphorical "image" of an immaterial mind?

We ought to be like Him, b/c He is the ultimate good, and not to be like Him is evil.

This is just to repeat the obvious tautology that it is good to be good and evil to be evil - it does not help get to why anyone ought to prefer good over evil.

Why we DO care is b/c we have been transformed ... to loving God.

That is a good reason, I suppose. No doubt people ought to love god, right?

jaem said...

I think Dawkins sites the idea of misfiring in terms of evolution and actions. We do good to those around us in our small families/communities because they return the favor. The misfiring happens when we do good for/to a complete stranger way out of our perview. I don't remember much else in terms of the particulars.

I have "The Moral Animal" by Robert Wright to read but haven't had time yet. I might not ever because I am presently busy doing good to/for my offspring who might care for me in my old age.

jaem said...

Interesting article:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=thinking-about-morality