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Elysium
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 05:27 AM
Just recently through the study I have been doing on Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as well as Religions I have come to quite a perplexing problem.

Is Good and Bad subjective or objective? For so long people have seen it as objective which is seen when people call others "evil" or when they say they did something for the "common good" or any other opposite of evil. However, since I am still trying to find what religion(s) are right for me I can not see the possibility of Good and Bad being objective since it depends which God you choose and how you interpret their texts so you can determine between good and bad.

However, subjective seems to come short of the line. What I mean is that you would think there would exist an objective good and bad but as before it seems irrational unless you know which God is the real one. So if it is somehow subjective how can one ever determine whether he/she is a person of admirable or disgustful character? Since, if you think good and bad are subjective, so too are morals and values which follow good and bad which are all influenced by those around you as well as the environment and what you are subjected to throughout your life.

Or is it perhaps that the idea of good and bad being subjective or objective; is, in itself, subjective, and that we can not know the answer to it?

I hope this was clear. I was just typing while thinking. :):D:rolleyes:

SwordOfTheVistula
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 06:57 AM
I think it is subjective, but some behaviors are so detrimental or beneficial that nearly everyone considers them 'good' or 'evil', in which case they might as well be objective

Elysium
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 07:14 AM
I think it is subjective, but some behaviors are so detrimental or beneficial that nearly everyone considers them 'good' or 'evil', in which case they might as well be objective

Indeed. However, that would just show that "nearly everyone" is dominated by the same mode of thought which is apparent in Western popular culture and the very fine line of what is "acceptable" and what isn't.

SwordOfTheVistula
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 07:40 AM
Indeed. However, that would just show that "nearly everyone" is dominated by the same mode of thought which is apparent in Western popular culture and the very fine line of what is "acceptable" and what isn't.

I don't think it has anything to do with western pop culture. I think nearly everyone with more than a couple brain cells can realize that certain activities are detrimental to society. Most of these same activities have been considered detrimental by most societies across the world throughout history.

Elysium
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 07:45 AM
I don't think it has anything to do with western pop culture. I think nearly everyone with more than a couple brain cells can realize that certain activities are detrimental to society. Most of these same activities have been considered detrimental by most societies across the world throughout history.

Some societies think there is no difference between murdering and killing someone. Where as other societies think you can easily justify killing someone depending on the actions of that person.

Anti-Racism is detrimental to more than just "society" but it is considered a godly occupation.

Leof
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 09:08 AM
Considering good or bad is purely abstract I would call it subjective. Then again, the more I think about it, the more objectivity starts to make less sense to me. Since the role of objectivity is to avoid personal bias, objectivity is subjective to the individual in essence. Good or bad would be objective in that sense since it is collective based rather than individualistic.

Elysium
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 09:17 AM
Considering good or bad is purely abstract I would call it subjective. Then again, the more I think about it, the more objectivity starts to make less sense to me. Since the role of objectivity is to avoid personal bias, objectivity is subjective to the individual in essence. Good or bad would be objective in that sense since it is collective based rather than individualistic.

Mmm. I hadn't thought about that. So you mean to say that it is objective because the group of people around you decides what is good and what is bad? From little groups of friends you hang out with to the rules of society?

sophia
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 11:45 AM
It's subjective, but its not and shouldn't be a choice (or not entirely) and it being subjective doesn't degrade its value at all.
It is subjective in that it is dependent on the subject and his role and position in the world in relation to other beings not in the sense that its up to the individual. It can be up to the individual for some individuals who are capable of that kind of hardcore moral introspection, but for the vast majority of people, myself included (although I am working on it) that kind of complete control over selfsubjectivity is not achieved.

stormlord
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 12:14 PM
I've though about this subject a lot, and there only really seems to be a limited number of positions that are logically defensible on this issue.

For those that are religious, good and bad are objectively discernible, whether or not their religion is a delusion, for them there is an objective morality.

For those that are atheists, deciding what is good and bad is considerably more difficult. The majority of the population in western countries are essentially atheistic, yet if you asked them if, for example, racism was wrong they'd say that it was absolutely was, and no other view was acceptable. People who are non religious and claim to objectively know right and wrong, good and bad, are generally unable to explain the source of their morality, in fact their morality is subjective and dictated to them by society and those who control it. Those in charge conceal the fact that the morality they preach to the public is subjective, because if the public knew then they would understand that the morality was no more correct than any other view.

I tend to take the view that the only objective morality for an atheist derives from nature and biology. Seeing things from this perspective informs the way I think on most issues, for example I'm for Germanic preservation and against immigration because in nature the only way one group can move to the lands of another and start consuming their resources and destroying their way of life is if they have defeated them in battle, no such event has occurred with regards to the people coming to our lands. I'm also aginst long term welfare benefits because it artificially allows those unable to effectively compete for resources with others to outbreed the more naturally able members of society who are subsidising them.

Obviously what is natural and what is not natural is up for debate, but so far I havn't encountered a more rational basis for an objective belief system.

Leof
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 12:41 PM
Mmm. I hadn't thought about that. So you mean to say that it is objective because the group of people around you decides what is good and what is bad? From little groups of friends you hang out with to the rules of society?

That's pretty much where I was going with that. Since what you want out of life is where good and bad derives from essentially, something that is outside of that is going to be objective from a collective stand point but bias towards the individual. I just don't see any moral code accomodating a broad spectrum of people. We all don't want the same thing since self-gain is not supportive of group conscience (at least not consistently so).

IlluSionSxxx
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 01:20 PM
I think there is an overall objective (natural) definition of good and bad, but most people have moved far away from this objective definition and they have taken on a subjective definition that sometimes completely contradicts the objective definition.

National-socialism tries to stay in line with the objective definition of good and bad, but because most people have strayed so far away from that path and because they are indoctrinated to see national-socialism as evil, they tend to twist around good and bad.

SineNomine
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 02:43 PM
I don't believe matters of ethics are subjective, in the way that a work of art is. Typically the most one can say is that an ought doesn't follow from an is, but this again does not hold true in Aristotelean ethics, and it does not invalidate the potential objectivity of ethical/moral truths.

CharlesDexterWard
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 02:45 PM
The majority of the population in western countries are essentially atheistic,Source?

I've heard that belief in God has been on a rather stable 2/3 of the Swedish population. According to the below material from 1999, if you add up those who believe "in a higher power" (41%), "God" (18%) and "God, and Jesus is the saviour" (10%), we get a total of 69%! (Muslims are in a category of their own and are NOT included in the 69%).

http://www.opinion.sifo.se/html/publicerade/1999/pdf/3295260.pdf

I think you've made the mistake of confusing the subgroup of those who affirm that they are Christians with those who believe in God.

IlluSionSxxx
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 02:57 PM
I don't believe matters of ethics are subjective, in the way that a work of art is.

Is a work of art really subjective or are we just taught to see it as subjective?! ;)

There appear to be some scientific indicators for the existence of universal beauty and universal ugliness, especially with regards ot choosing mates.


if you add up those who believe "in a higher power" (41%), "God" (18%) and "God, and Jesus is the saviour" (10%), we get a total of 69%! (Muslims are in a category of their own and are NOT included in the 69%).

http://www.opinion.sifo.se/html/publicerade/1999/pdf/3295260.pdf

Aren't those who believe in "God" part of the group who believe "in a higher power" and aren't those who believe in "God, and Jesus is the saviour" are part of those who believe in "God"? I can't read any Swedish, so I can't check the poll myself, but it would sound strange that you actually have to add them all up.

Besides that, it sounds even more strange that muslems are not part of that 69%. They certainly believe "in a higher power" :p

CharlesDexterWard
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 03:27 PM
Aren't those who believe in "God" part of the group who believe "in a higher power" and aren't those who believe in "God, and Jesus is the saviour" are part of those who believe in "God"? I can't read any Swedish, so I can't check the poll myself, but it would sound strange that you actually have to add them all up.

Besides that, it sounds even more strange that muslems are not part of that 69%. They certainly believe "in a higher power" :p

I didn't set up the options. And whenever you do make this kind of research on real people, you will notice that logic is not what most people operate on.

Translation (my comment in paranthesis):

Which one of the following alternatives fits best your outlook on life? Do you believe [THE INFORMANT CAN ONLY CHOOSE ONE ALTERNATIVE (the one that fits best, that is)]

1. that there is a higher power? 41%
2. that there is a God? 18%
3. that there is a God and that Jesus is the saviour of the world? 10%
4. in Allah and his prophet Muhammed? 1%
5. No, none of these. 28%
6. Hesitating, don't know 3%

IlluSionSxxx
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 03:37 PM
Translation (my comment in paranthesis):

Which one of the following alternatives fits best your outlook on life? Do you believe [THE INFORMANT CAN ONLY CHOOSE ONE ALTERNATIVE (the one that fits best, that is)]

1. that there is a higher power? 41%
2. that there is a God? 18%
3. that there is a God and that Jesus is the saviour of the world? 10%
4. in Allah and his prophet Muhammed? 1%
5. No, none of these. 28%
6. Hesitating, don't know 3%

Thanks for the translation.

The problem I have with polls like these, is the lack of definition for "higher power" or "God". Depending on the definition, some people would call me an atheist while others would call me a pantheist, a polytheist, an agnostic or perhaps even something else (I consider myself a pantheist). If we truely want to understand other people's spiritual views, we would have use matching definitions.

sophia
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 04:15 PM
Is a work of art really subjective or are we just taught to see it as subjective?! ;)

There appear to be some scientific indicators for the existence of universal beauty and universal ugliness, especially with regards ot choosing mates.

Even a definition common to all human beings would not be objective though. A value judgment of anything belongs to someone - therefore is inherently subjective. Only if there is a universal god can there be an objective value judgment. Even if all humans, even if all living things said "health is better than disease" that would be subjective, it would belong to the living - it would make no sense for an atom to hold such a judgment (if atoms could judge) or any other non-living entity. All value judgments are positional. For the virus invading my lung cell when I have a cold it is absolutely wonderful to turn my cells industry to produce its own materials for it - for me it is an irritating inconvenience, for the cells that are destroyed it is the end.

To have an objective morality is to make everything the same. To make the idea of "good" unrelated to position and relationship, but this is patently not true. There are commonalities and similarities between beings that increase across certain hierarchies of relatedness, but there is no objective position of good, except perhaps the position of either God or the universe as a whole - which may be anthropomorphising the universe to too high a degree.

IlluSionSxxx
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 04:22 PM
Even a definition common to all human beings would not be objective though. A value judgment of anything belongs to someone - therefore is inherently subjective. Only if there is a universal god can there be an objective value judgment.

What if mother nature is such a universal God? What if mother nature has set out the very principles of right and wrong for us to discover them, if only we were willing to listen to our instincts?

That's how I (being a pantheist) see right and wrong. There are objective indications set out by nature, but we merely ignore them because we're no longer in touch without own instincts.

sophia
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 04:35 PM
What if mother nature is such a universal God? What if mother nature has set out the very principles of right and wrong for us to discover them, if only we were willing to listen to our instincts?

That's how I (being a pantheist) see right and wrong. There are objective indications set out by nature, but we merely ignore them because we're no longer in touch without own instincts.

I think nature does do exactly that, but I think we learn our right and wrong which belongs to us and not to all entities or to the totality of things, but is specific to us - in other words is subjective. Our right and wrong is not universal for all beings. There may be a metamorality that can be derived from it that is universal but I think it would be quite hubristic to assume that any human could discover it (on the most simple level it would appear to be nothing more than might makes right but there appears to me to be something subtle and intangible that is more than that).

You wouldn't judge a cat by the same criteria you'd judge a cow. Its possible to make "morality" a concept only applicable to human beings, but even then I think the analogy has its validity.

stormlord
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 08:32 PM
Source?

I've heard that belief in God has been on a rather stable 2/3 of the Swedish population. According to the below material from 1999, if you add up those who believe "in a higher power" (41%), "God" (18%) and "God, and Jesus is the saviour" (10%), we get a total of 69%! (Muslims are in a category of their own and are NOT included in the 69%).

http://www.opinion.sifo.se/html/publicerade/1999/pdf/3295260.pdf

I think you've made the mistake of confusing the subgroup of those who affirm that they are Christians with those who believe in God.

No source, just common sense. I respect people who have faith in God, but they are startlingly few. In England something like 80% of people say they are Christian, and yet 2% of people go to church, what kind of belief do you have if you are too lazy to drag yourself out of a bed on a Sunday morning to go and sit down in a room for an hour? Professing a belief in God is irrelevant if that belief does not inform the way in which you live your life.

CharlesDexterWard
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 09:41 PM
No source, just common sense. I respect people who have faith in God, but they are startlingly few. In England something like 80% of people say they are Christian, and yet 2% of people go to church, what kind of belief do you have if you are too lazy to drag yourself out of a bed on a Sunday morning to go and sit down in a room for an hour? Professing a belief in God is irrelevant if that belief does not inform the way in which you live your life.But I proved, with a source, that 69% of Swedes believed in a 'higher power'/God as of 1999. There is nothing to suggest that those who attend church are somehow better at believing than those who don't. You were, and you still are, talking about those who believe in God. Is it somehow disturbing to you that there are people who believe in God without attending church?

Soldier of Wodann
Thursday, November 15th, 2007, 09:50 PM
Personally I think somethings are relatively subjective, but most aren't. In such cases where they are not obvious, one should look to a traditional response for an answer, since most have already been answered and their effects can be seen via history. A very simplistic response, I suppose.

SineNomine
Friday, November 16th, 2007, 12:14 AM
I am not sure why the notion of objective moral truths is so unnerving. Logical and mathematical (especially geometric) truths are both irrefutably true and objective. A fool can ignore them, but that does not invalidate them.

sophia
Friday, November 16th, 2007, 01:28 AM
I am not sure why the notion of objective moral truths is so unnerving. Logical and mathematical (especially geometric) truths are both irrefutably true and objective. A fool can ignore them, but that does not invalidate them.

I just don't understand how there can be such a thing. What is good for a bacteria might be evil for a human, where is the objectivity?

Is it morally wrong for the bacteria to infect the human? Of course a bacteria is not a moral agent, but if it were, would it be wrong? I don't think so, it would be what a bacteria should do, it would be wrong for a bacteria to say "no actually I thinking hurting people and making them ill is bad and this is what comes from infecting people so I shall have to stop". A bacteria who did that would be negating life even in its refusal to participate in the destruction of life.

It would be equally wrong for a human to allow a bacteria to destroy him or his family or whatever had he the power to stop them, to not do so would be negating life even in the refusal to kill living beings. (Except of course people can have complex motives that don't quite fit this pattern where it might become ok).

Doesn't the same apply on a smaller level for people? So that the farmer cannot act according to the morality of a soldier and a soldier cannot act according to the morality of a farmer because the situation warrants a different set of virtues?

Siegfried
Friday, November 16th, 2007, 02:13 AM
@sophia: One should distinguish between the general concept of the Good (which is objective and can be imagined as justice, or harmonious organisation; to each his own) and what this general Idea demands of concrete entities in concrete circumstances. As you pointed out, the ethos appropriate for a soldier may not be appropriate for a farmer; different vocations require different virtues. However, this is not sufficient proof for the absence of an objective standard of the Good; rather the general Good informs us whether a particular ethos is indeed appropriate or right for the concrete farmer or soldier.

sophia
Friday, November 16th, 2007, 02:15 AM
@sophia: One should distinguish between the general concept of the Good (which is objective and can be imagined as justice, or harmonious organisation; to each his own) and what this general Idea demands of concrete entities in concrete circumstances. As you pointed out, the ethos appropriate for a soldier may not be appropriate for a farmer; different vocations require different virtues. However, this is not sufficient proof for the absence of an objective standard of the Good; rather the general Good informs us whether a particular ethos is indeed appropriate or right for the concrete farmer or soldier.

What then is that standard?

SineNomine
Friday, November 16th, 2007, 02:59 AM
I just don't understand how there can be such a thing. What is good for a bacteria might be evil for a human, where is the objectivity?
Objective, for humans. Water generally does not have a good relation with metal; it does so with humans though, and this is objectively ascertainable. Humans possess the capacity to reason, and via this method to yield certain objective, noncontigent truths (e.g. A =/= ~A, cogito, ergo sum etc.); ethical truths may be amongst these. Provided we realize such reasoning is fallibilistic (i.e. we may go wrong, somewhere in our deductions/inductions), there is no harm.


Is it morally wrong for the bacteria to infect the human? Of course a bacteria is not a moral agent, but if it were, would it be wrong? I don't think so, it would be what a bacteria should do, it would be wrong for a bacteria to say "no actually I thinking hurting people and making them ill is bad and this is what comes from infecting people so I shall have to stop". A bacteria who did that would be negating life even in its refusal to participate in the destruction of life.
Given that it isn't a moral agent, it'd have no concept of right or wrong, no set of possible ethics to follow. It is a mindless organism of the lowest level. If it evolved a level of rationality that made reasoning with it possible, that'd change things; if it decided to assail humans in spite of this, they'd have every reason to treat it as an aggressive invader.


Doesn't the same apply on a smaller level for people? So that the farmer cannot act according to the morality of a soldier and a soldier cannot act according to the morality of a farmer because the situation warrants a different set of virtues?
A general set of rules, let's say ethics, governing how a society is to be organized is certainly possible (to justify an aristocracy, for instance - if possible - something more than mere claims of divine commandments are necessary; something like a Hobbesian social contract.) Personal codes, let's say morals, on the other hand will naturally differ between individuals. The former can thus be constructed on an abstract, universal level; the latter may not. The problem in my view lies in determining which ethical code is correct, rather than descending into subjectivism or nihilism. Logic and reason are there to guide us; they already constrain which set of ethics are justifiable.

SwordOfTheVistula
Friday, November 16th, 2007, 05:42 AM
Some societies think there is no difference between murdering and killing someone. Where as other societies think you can easily justify killing someone depending on the actions of that person.

Anti-Racism is detrimental to more than just "society" but it is considered a godly occupation.

I think that the general principles are still more or less universal, and based on human nature.

In regards to murder/killing, nearly all societies consider killing someone at random, or to take their stuff, to be wrong. Even societies that allowed killing over minor insults generally reserved that to the upper classes. The concept that the society may not end the life of even those individuals who have proven themselves extremely detrimental to that society, and equating this act with murder, it is a fairly recent development and found only in those places dominated by an extreme variant of humanism in western Europe and the 'cosmopolitan' areas of North America. Even this development I believe is more of a defacto religious tradition meant to reinforce the concept that 'all humans are equal', than a bona-fide belief in the value of the lives of these people.

Likewise, human nature has been to identify with those most like ourselves, thus morality has generally been to give greater consideration to those most like you, and work to advance the interests of one's own group (family, clan, tribe, ethnicity, race, etc). 'anti-racism' I would view in the same light as radical humanism, a defacto religion which is advanced primarily by ethnic minorities in western countries, which in fact is a result of racist sentiment amongst those minorities.



I am not sure why the notion of objective moral truths is so unnerving. Logical and mathematical (especially geometric) truths are both irrefutably true and objective. A fool can ignore them, but that does not invalidate them.


(Except of course people can have complex motives that don't quite fit this pattern where it might become ok).

Doesn't the same apply on a smaller level for people? So that the farmer cannot act according to the morality of a soldier and a soldier cannot act according to the morality of a farmer because the situation warrants a different set of virtues?

Well yes, if morality is based on human nature and instinct as I believe, then there would be 'objective' morality which is based on universal aspects of human nature, and 'subjective' morality which is based on aspects of human nature which are more unique to that particular group.

Konrad
Monday, November 26th, 2007, 04:51 AM
To handle this question we have to go to the basics of philosophy.

In the german philosophy we understand God as a "Unity of all". All what is is God. This means also that duality is a part from God. So also the duality good-bad exist within God. God is not good or bad, and at the same time he is both. God is God.

Out of the Unity becomes Duality. We see this duality in many ways in the world: Good-bad, dark-light, negativ-positiv, man-woman, black-white, Satan-Lucifer ...

But it is essential to understand that duality is transformed to unity (with another quality as the "old" unity) by the three-unity. This transformation is completed by adding a 3rd element to the dual elements. This 3rd element has the qualities of both dual elements in itself. This 3rd element we call "coherence". Coherence can only exist by the 2 polarized elements. It is like a bridge. The bridge can only exist by both shores. The coherent element we meet in our daily lives as "love".

Every human beeing is God. God perceives himself by his creation. Man as a part of the creation is an expression of God. And in the creation God wants to express himself as a whole. This is shown in man as his will, his "True Will". And if we think that someone is bad, but in effect he is doing his own will, he is just dooing what he has to do, he is dooing what Gods Will.

Wouldn't we agree that dooing Gods Will is good en not dooing Gods will is bad?

CharlesDexterWard
Monday, November 26th, 2007, 11:42 AM
Likewise, human nature has been to identify with those most like ourselves, thus morality has generally been to give greater consideration to those most like you, and work to advance the interests of one's own group (family, clan, tribe, ethnicity, race, etc). 'anti-racism' I would view in the same light as radical humanism, a defacto religion which is advanced primarily by ethnic minorities in western countries, which in fact is a result of racist sentiment amongst those minorities.

While I agree that ethnic minorities play an important part in advancing policies that favour them, I don't think that it is the whole truth in this matter.

Moralist gentiles have played and continue to play a very important part, and I would say that it is an even more important part, since the direct or indirect consent of gentiles has been and is a necessary commodity. Interestingly, the moralizers are very often driven by their own racism to make up for it. Their motive, in moralizing and promoting the interests of minority groups, is usually that they pity them.

And these moralists consider themselves to be better and out of reach, which is certainly a lethal deception.

Northern Paladin
Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008, 07:57 PM
It's pretty much subjective, unless a bunch of people can agree on the same thing then it becomes objective for awhile.