Why most Animals are not Philosophers: Fatal Flaws in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God

LINK

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

    Nice link. The article does show some of the flaws in Craig’s argument.
    The one about “animals are not moral agents” is a nice one, though the requirement that moral agents have a language faculty is in my view incorrect – but the parallel with language is spot on; my own parody reply to Craig’s claim about was (just shameless self-promotion): :D

    William Lane Craig: (source: http://www.mandm.org.nz/2011/05/transcript-sam-harris-v-william-lane-craig-debate-%E2%80%9Cis-good-from-god%E2%80%9D.html )

    On the naturalistic view, human beings are just animals, and animals
    have no moral obligation to one another. When a lion kills a zebra,
    it kills the zebra, but it doesn’t murder the zebra. When a great white shark forcibly copulates with a female, it forcibly copulates with her but it doesn’t rape
    her–for none of these actions is forbidden or obligatory. There is no moral
    dimension to these actions.

    First, a brief reply:

    When a lioness kills a zebra, she doesn’t fly.

    And when a zebra escapes from a lioness, he doesn’t fly, either.

    Zebras, lionesses, gazelles, rats, cats – none of them flies.

    So, mammals do not fly.

    On a biologist’s view, bats are just mammals.

    But mammals do not fly, and many bats do.

    That refutes biologists’ claim that bats are just mammals…

    Parodies aside, and leaving also aside Craig’s contemptuous “just”,
    the fact that some animals are not moral agents is no good reason to
    believe that no animals are moral agents.

    Of course, there are obvious psychological differences between different species, and in particular, between humans and great whites, or any other species for that matter.

  • Ryan M

    Good find. Angra’s comment is good too.

  • Ryan Hite

    Humans seem to be the only animals that have morality because our brains are unique in the fact that we are powerful enough to have the time to think of the world in the abstract. http://www.amazon.com/Virtues-Vices-happiness-there-there/dp/1495447545/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1393119875&sr=8-4&keywords=virtues+and+vices

  • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

    The article’s denial of premise 1 of Craig’s argument ignores that Craig is referencing OBJECTIVE morality. Craig doesn’t deny that, absent a God, humans might have moral feelings, moral sentiments, and even robust moral traditions. That doesn’t undermine Craig’s point that, on atheism, none of those moral feelings, sentiments, and traditions would refer to OBJECTIVE realities.

    The article goes on to more or less deny that objective morality exists, but I don’t think such a denial is “fatal” to Craig’s argument. That atheists tend to deny his second premise is sort of evidence that he’s onto something with his first premise.

    Euthyphro -style objections notwithstanding, I think the argument from morality is at least very rhetorically effective to the extent that it is able to force people to choose between atheism and objective moral values. For many, that’s a tough choice.

    • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

      Actually, the article does not deny (or more or less deny) the second premise, as long as the premise is understood in the way explains it.
      In fact, the article’s stance is perfectly compatible with claims like:

      1. The Holocaust was immoral, and would have been so even if the Nazis had convinced everyone otherwise.
      2. Whether the Ugandan President behaved immorally by signing the new anti-gay bill is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion, and in fact he did.

      And so on.
      What the article questions is the ontological claims that Craig seems to assume just from the second premise (e.g., from the article “His citation of Ruse’s reference to objective mathematical truths hits
      much closer to the mark. We don’t need to postulate a “mathematical
      realm” grounded in an abstract metaphysical entity to understand the
      objective nature of mathematics.”) But the article is not denying that, say, whether Goldbach’s Conjecture is true is a matter of fact, that it’s true regardless of what anyone believes, etc.; it just wouldn’t accept the idea of a mathematical realm for that.

      As for your claim that the argument is “rhetorically effective” in the sense that it is able to “force” people to “choose” between atheism and objective moral values, if by that you mean that some people have come to believe that the first premise is true, I would agree. But if you mean that Craig is giving good arguments for that, I would ask you to support your contention.

      All that aside, the article’s arguments against Craig’s argument using (some) non-human animals is pretty good.

      • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

        The analogy to math is weak, in my opinion, since mathematical truths are tautological in a way moral truths quite obviously aren’t. That an abstract realm isn’t necessary to ground mathematical truths doesn’t suffice to show that such a realm isn’t necessary to ground objective moral truths.

        And it’s quite easy for an atheist to make appeals to objective morality, as you did in your 1 and 2, but it’s quite difficult to give an atheistic account of it.

        If not by means of an appeal to an abstract realm of objective moral truths, then by virtue of exactly what are statements 1 and 2 OBJECTIVELY true?

        • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

          Regardless of the strength of the analogy, my point was that you had misunderstood the article (it’s the author’s analogy, not mine), since the author is not denying the second premise, but questioning that there is a need for the sort of realm Craig talks about, and uses the math analogy as an example.

          On the issue of the strength of the analogy (I would prefer a number of other analogies (see below), but that’s not really the issue I was getting at), it seems that the point the author is getting at is that it does not follow from the fact that there moral matters are objective in the relevant sense, that there is a need for such a realm – and then questions why one should assume that there is.

          Your claim that it’s quite difficult for an atheist to give an atheistic account for objective morality seems to suggest (though it’s rather unclear) that there is some burden to give some account, or alternatively that somehow there are good reasons to suspect that moral issues are not matters of fact (and that no error theory is true) if atheism is true.

          While I’m not sure what you mean by “atheism” (in my experience, different people mean different things by it), I do not see any good reason to think that is the case, under any of the more or less common usages of the word – if you have some argument, I would like to ask what it is.

          As for your question, that too suggests a burden on my part. I see no such burden (by the way, I do not know whether I’m an atheist under your usage of the word “atheist”). Why would there be one?

          For example, let’s say that Bob claims that, say, bisexuality in humans is an illness, whereas Alice denies it. The issue of whether bisexuality in humans is an illness is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion (and it does not depend on anyone’s beliefs, though the matter of fact/matter of opinion distinction is good enough), so that matter, and the relevant associated statements, meet Craig’s conditions. Would we need somehow an abstract realm of objective health and illness truths, as well (or unless theism is true)? If so, why? If not, why should we need it in the case of morality?

          Or let’s consider statements like “Nazi uniforms were not red”, or “Grass is (sometimes) green”, and so on. Those are true statements, and surely objective in the relevant sense. Would we need an abstract realm of color truths too?

          How about statements about rationality?
          For example, let’s consider the following statement (or proposition, assertion, or whatever you prefer):
          P1: Ordering the Holocaust was irrational.

          Whether P1 is true is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion (and it does not depend on what people believe, etc.).
          Would we then need a realm of objective rationality truths? If so, why, and if not, why would we need it in the case of morality?

          Incidentally, the examples I’ve been using (i.e., rationality, health and illness, color) are not cases in which there is any transparent tautology (not even when we get to more general statements identifying objects that are, say, green, in non-color words, and those using color words); while it might be argued that the relevant statements are non-transparently analytical, for that matter, the same might be argued in the case of morality (and there are philosophers who hold those views); I would say that there is no indication of analyticity/tautologies in my examples any more than there is so in the moral case.

          Incidentally, with respect to the idea of such “realm” of objective moral truths, how would that explain anything? What is a realm of objective moral truths anyway?

          • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

            Well, the need for you to make a case for any given objective moral statement arises pretty much immediately when in the presence of someone who disagrees with that statement.

            The President of Uganda would obviously not believe that by signing a law mandating the execution of homosexuals he committed an objective moral wrong. You claim that he did. Thus you do pick up a burden in that case, and indeed, in every case in which you assert a supposed objective moral value over which there is disagreement.

            I would argue your additional analogies are neither tautological nor analytical, they are conventional. At least, your examples of illness and color. What constitutes an illness and what constitutes the color red are largely matters of convention.

            I’m told that in the Middle Ages, for example, there was no recognized color orange. The color we refer to as orange was included by them under the category red. And obviously, homosexuality was considered a mental illness by the scientific/medical community until relatively recently. And if rationality isn’t exactly conventional, there are many differing accounts of it. Internalists, externalists, coherentists, foundationalists… all these people have different accounts of rationality and it’s far from clear that there’s a “matter of fact” about who is right and who is wrong.

            So, I don’t think there are ANY matters of fact in question in your analogies, but even if there were, that some truths can be known without reference to an abstract realm doesn’t imply that ALL truths can be known without such a reference.

            Unlike your analogies, there is widespread disagreement over statements such as “homosexuality is a perversion.” I ask again: by virtue of what, on the atheist worldview, could this statement be adjudicated to be objectively true or false? If you state, as you seem to in your Ugandan President example, that the statement is objectively false, then you’ve obviously just picked up a burden of proof.

            I actually agree that a realm of moral truths wouldn’t solve the problem, unless that realm is in the mind of God. An abstract realm wouldn’t have the ability to make moral truths obligatory in the way that God could. I think Craig goes on to make the same point; he doesn’t ultimately ground morality in an abstract realm but in God. It’s the article’s author that reifies Craig’s objective values into a “realm,” and I probably erred by not challenging that initial claim.

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            Regarding your claim that I have a need for making an argument just because someone claims that on atheism, there are no objective moral values (in the relevant sense), I see no good reason to agree with that.

            In fact, I do not have a need in a literal sense (if I do not make a case, nothing happens to me), but in any case, I do not see any obligation on my part – moral, epistemic, etc. – to make such a case.

            As for the President of Uganda, he did not sign a bill mandating any executions, but he mandated (among other things), 14 years of imprisonment for consensual gay sex the first time, and imprisonment for life the second time.

            His actions were immoral, and as for “objective”, as long as that means it’s a matter of fact whether his actions were immoral, sure. But I do not pick a burden with regard to any metaethical issues, just as by, say, claiming that Bob ran a red traffic light – and that’s a matter of fact, not of opinion -, I’m not picking a burden on metachromatic issues.

            There is also the question of whether I’m “picking a burden” on the first order ethical claim that his behavior is immoral. But if someone asks me why I claim that Bob ran a red light, I would say that I saw him. I might as well point out that in the case of Museveni, I also use my sense of right and wrong to tell his actions were immoral.

            In addition, I can point out that he’s making a mistake in the reasoning he gives in support of his position. For example, he claims that Ugandan scientists did not find anything in the DNA of gay people who make them gay, so it’s a lifestyle choice. But obviously, even if there were no genetic basis for homosexuality (actually, there is a strong predisposition in many cases, but let’s let that pass), clearly that would not at all entail that it’s a choice to be gay; it might be (say) the result of hormone levels in the womb during fetal development, or whatever.

            That said, it’s not as if it would be immoral to choose to be gay, if one had the power to choose one’s orientation (say, in the future, with a machine that can modify the brain very precisely).

            I would also say the following: He is spreading the belief that gay sex is immoral, and further punishing people for it – implying they deserve such punishment -, without any good reasons to believe that this is so – his sense of right and wrong seems to be distorted by religious beliefs -; he shouldn’t do that.

            What if someone is not persuaded?
            I would suggest that they assess the matter by their own sense of right and wrong, but if they insist (saying that’s the verdict of their own sense of right and wrong) that Museveni’s behavior was not immoral – or that it’s unclear to them -, then I probably will not be able to persuade them, But I do not claim I will be able to persuade them.

            In any case, this is a matter of first-order ethics, not metaethics, so even (let’s say) if I were mistaken about Museveni’s actions, that is still not a metaethical problem.

            Regarding color, different languages have different color categories to some extent, but that misses the point entirely. It’s still a matter of fact whether, say, Bob ran a red light, or whether the light was not red. It’s not a matter of opinion. If some humans do not have a word for “orange”, it’s still a fact that oranges are (usually) orange, and that’s not a matter of opinion.

            It’s just that the people in question didn’t care enough about facts about orange to pick a specific word for it, whereas – given how morality is motivational for at least nearly all humans -, they did have moral words.

            As to what constitutes an illness, I disagree with your claim about conventionalism, and in fact I see no stronger argument for objectivity in the case of moral matters/judgments than I see arguments for objectivity in the case of health and illness matters/judgments.

            For example, if Bob (a human) has leprosy, he has an illness. And if someone denies that, they’re mistaken. Whether leprosy is an illness is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion. When people talk about that, also they understand themselves to be talking about objective matters, not matters of opinion.

            For example, when they disagree about, say, whether some mental trait is an illness or not, they take themselves to be disagreeing. They do not say “well, maybe homosexuality is an illness to you, but not to me”, or “maybe left-handedness is not an illness to us, but was so to many people in the Middle Ages”.

            The case of the medical community and homosexuality is actually a useful example in this context, because it’s an example of disagreement, similar to, say, disagreements about whether gay sex is always immoral.

            And as you point out, until more or less recently, most people in the medical community believed that homosexuality was an illness.

            What happened then?

            Then, some people disagreed. There was some debate. New members joined the medical community, and many old ones retired and/or died, etc.

            Now, most people in the medical community believe it’s not an illness. Museveni seems to flip-flop on the matter, and plenty of Christians do believe that it’s an illness. I also know people who consider that the evidence available at the present time is insufficient to ascertain whether homosexuality is an illness, and we would need more details about how it specifically work before we can make a proper assessment.

            A similar pattern can be seen in the case of homosexuality and morality, at least in the US: until more or less recently, nearly everyone in the US of the time believed gay sex was always immoral. But then, some people disagreed. There was debate. There still is. Some people changed their minds. Others didn’t, but died, and those raised later were more often inclined not to judge that gay sex was always immoral.

            In both cases (i.e., the issue of whether gay sex is always immoral, and the issue of whether homosexuality is an illness), there was (and there is) disagreement, there was also a significant shift overtime on beliefs on the matter.

            In the illness case, the shift was in the medical community, though to be clear, we’re using the term “medical community” to talk about different groups of people, who may or may not overlap depending on the case. In the moral case, the shift was in the US community (and UK, etc.), also if we use the terms in question to talk about different groups of people.

            But disagreement at a certain time, changes in prevalent beliefs over time, etc., do not imply that the matters in question are matters of opinion rather than matters of fact.

            If you claim that moral judgments/matters are relevantly different from judgments/matters of health and illness on the issue of whether they’re objective judgments or matters, matters of fact rather than matters of opinion, etc., I would say I see no particular reason to believe so.

            As for rationality, yes, there are many differing accounts of it, if you’re talking about theories posited by philosophers. But then again, the same goes for morality. Many different metaethicists propose, suggest and defend many different accounts of it.

            But moreover, people also seem to talk about rationality the way they do about objective matters, matters of fact, etc.
            For example, when philosophers debate whether, say, it’s always irrational for a human being (or for any possible personal agent) to behave immorally, they debate that on the understanding that there is a fact of the matter as to whether it’s always irrational for a human being (or for any possible personal agent); they do not believe that it’s a matter of opinion.

            Even Craig, by the way, when he claims (for instance) “If, on the other hand, we hold, as it seems rational to do, that objective moral values and duties do exist, then we have good grounds for believing in the existence of God. “ ( http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-indispensability-of-theological-meta-ethical-foundations-for-morality ), he clearly understands that (ask him if you don’t believe me, but the context is clear enough) to be a matter of fact; he clearly thinks it’s not a matter of opinion whether it’s rational to believe the second premise of his metaethical argument.

            Now, you point out that even if some truths can be known without reference to an abstract realm, that does not imply that all truths can be known with such a reference.

            Obviously, that is true, but irrelevant in context, since Craig’s metaethical argument under consideration is about moral ontology, not about moral epistemology. How moral truths are known is a different matter altogether.

            Still, let’s say you make the argument about moral ontology. Even then, I could simply ask “why should I even suspect that such realm is needed in the case of morality?”; one of the points of the other examples is that you seem to be making a distinction (i.e., you do not seem to be convinced that we need such a realm in the other cases), so perhaps the contrast of those example would give me more information about why you’re making the claim in the moral case.

            As for your claim about disagreement in the case of homosexuality, yes, there is….well, kind of. It depends on what set or group of people you consider. Of course, if you consider all people living today, or all people across time, sure, there is disagreement. There is also disagreement, in those cases (i.e., all people living today, or all people across time), about whether homosexuality is an illness, or whether bisexuality is an illness, and so on. There is also disagreement (if you consider a sufficiently large group of people) on whether behaving immorally is always irrational (for humans, or for all moral agents, etc.), about whether Museveni behaved irrationally, etc.; there is also disagreement about whether, say, people ever run red lights (there are color error theorists; e.g., take a look at the following paper http://frodo.ucsc.edu/~jellis/Papers/StroudOnColor.pdf ).

            As I mentioned, I do not know what you mean by “atheist”; I also do not know what you mean by “worldview”. But regardless, you claim that the mind of God resolves a purported problem. But I see no good reason in your arguments (or Craig’s) to think that there is a problem in the first place.

            Nor do I see why the mind of God would resolve anything, if there were a problem.
            Nor do I accept the burden you’re trying to put on me, just as if I claim that Bob ran a red traffic light, I’m not taking any metachromatic burdens; if I say that people with skin cancer are ill, I do not take any meta-health burdens, and so on.

            As for the “by virtue of what” can the statement that homosexuality is a perversion be adjudicated as (objectively) true or false, that question still assumes a burden on my part, perhaps to provide truth-makers or something like that.

            But I have no such burden, as I do not have it in the other cases (e.g., color, illness), or pretty much all usual statements; if I claim that the liquid in the glass that is the nearest to me is milk, then it’s a matter of fact whether it’s milk. That’s an objective matter in the relevant sense, and the fact is that it’s not milk. But I do not have a burden of giving truth-makers for milk claims.

            Now, given that you consider the “in virtue of what” question legitimate in this context, then in virtue of what can the statement “the creator is morally good” be adjudicated as objectively true or false. It’s no use to say that if the creator is God, then by the concept of God, it’s analytical that he’s morally good. Even if it were analytical, then the question would still be: in virtue of what is the actual entity that is the creator of all other beings, morally good?

            Similarly, in virtue of what can the following statements be adjudicated as objectively true or false?

            1. Our moral obligations are constituted by God’s commands.
            2. Our moral obligations are constituted by the commands of the creator of all other beings.
            3. The creator of all other beings is God.
            4. We have a moral obligation to obey a maximally great being.

            And so on.

            All that said, you’re right that Craig attempts to “ground” objective moral values in God, not on some “realm” of objective moral values. But he does make the claim the article cites – it’s just that Craig is rather obscure about what he means.

          • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

            I don’t understand how your notion of objectivity differs in the slightest from pure subjectivity. You claim to take up no burden of proof when you say it was objectively immoral for the president of Uganda to sign an anti-gay bill. That would presumably mean that the president of Uganda also takes up no burden of proof when he asserts that it was objectively moral for him to sign an anti-gay bill. Both of you could claim that the objectivity of your respective (and contradictory) positions was simply a matter of “moral perception” and is in need of no further justification.

            It seems to me that both you and the Ugandan president are basing your claims on nothing but intuition, and both of you are admitting there is IN PRINCIPLE nothing that could be appealed to in order to adjudicate between your positions. How does this differ from pure moral relativism?

            If an objective moral law is a law that ought to be upheld by all men in all times whether they think so or not, then like it or not, by claiming your moral beliefs are objective, you take up an astounding burden of proof. And excuse me, I don’t think that burden is met by appeal to dubious analogies and by claiming not to see a need to meet your burden.

            And those analogies are incredibly dubious. The relevant, I dare say OBVIOUS difference between your analogies and morality is fairly glaring: Even if I grant all your counterpoints above, the fact remains there isn’t the kind of disagreement about any of the subjects of your analogies that are present with respect to morality.

            If roughly half the world believed that leprosy was not an illness, that orange was not a color, and that it was rational to participate in the Holocaust, and they all admitted that there was no way to verify these claims against those who disagreed with then your analogy to morality would be pertinent. But there is nowhere near the level of disagreement about these issues than there is about morality.

            Again, in a universe in which God does not exist, and in which there is no realm of abstract moral values, I fail to see in virtue of what there could be a “matter of fact” about any purported moral value. Your argument seems to be that it’s objective because you say so and you don’t have to prove it. If you want to leave it there, that’s fine, but you are more or less conceding the theist’s point that the atheist’s only option with regard to objective morality is to either deny it or to do a bunch of hand waving while never making a positive case.

            Now, to your objections to God, of course there will be an inevitable circularity when referring to the source of all goodness, however this is construed. If the source were Plato’s Form of the Good, you could ask how we could know it was good independently of the Form? The answer would be that we couldn’t; the Form of goodness would be definitional for us in terms of the property of goodness. But this is inevitable, for if the Form possessed some property P, by virtue of which we know the goodness of the Form, you could ask how we verify the goodness of P? And so on, ad infinitum. There has to be a “Prime Mover” in terms of our knowledge of goodness, but I think that rather helps the theist’s case rather than hurts it, because, again, the theists have a plausible candidate for this Prime Mover, while the atheist does not.

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            With regard to Uganda, I said that whether the Ugandan President behaved immorally by signing the new anti-gay bill is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion, and further said that he behaved immorally. If you mean something else by “objectively immoral”, then I did not claim it.

            As I said before, I say I take no metaethical burden of proof, just as I do not take a metachromatic burden of proof if I claim that Bob ran a traffic light, I do not take a meta-health burden of proof if I say someone with leprosy is ill, I do not take a meta-biology burden of proof if I say that the insect I killed in my bathroom was a cockroach, etc.

            As for a burden on a first-order ethical issue, I already replied to that too, and I’d rather not repeat everything.

            As for what Museveni could claim, sure he could. For that matter, he could claim that the insect in my bathroom was not a cockroach. But what he could say has nothing to do with whether the matter is one of fact. Similarly, Museveni could claim that gay people are mentally ill, and some doctors could claim the same.

            But I’m not claiming that nothing IN PRINCIPLE could adjudicate it. Clearly, if I’m saying that only one of us is correct, there is something that can adjudicate it – unless you’re using “adjudicate” in a manner that I do not understand.

            If you’re going to ask me what could adjudicate it – well, trivially, the fact that what he did was immoral.

            If you’re asking for necessary and sufficient conditions described in non-moral terms, then I do not have them, but then, I do not have them in the cases of illness, cockroaches, rationality, and so on, regardless of how many cases of disagreement occur; moreover, theism is not in a better position either, as I have been explaining.

            By the way, how would you adjudicate in the other matters (say, on the matter of health)?
            Would you insist on denying that the matter is objective? (as you seemed to be doing before?)
            If you’re going to say that there is less disagreement on the matter of health, my reply is that that’s irrelevant to the question of how you would adjudicate when there is disagreement.

            Your claim that “if an objective moral law is a law that ought to be upheld by all men in all times whether they think so or not, then like it or not, by claiming your moral beliefs are objective, you take up an astounding burden of proof.” may be rhetorically flashy, but I just claimed that moral matters are matters of fact, and that some statements like “Museveni’s behavior was immoral” are true, not that moral beliefs are objective (what is it for a belief to be objective?).
            Saying “an objective moral law is a law that ought to be upheld by all men in all times whether they think so or not, then like it or not” is rhetoric at best.
            Obviously, every human being morally ought to do what’s morally obligatory – that’s a tautology.

            Regarding the issue of disagreement:

            a. That’s not the point. You’re moving the goalposts. I was addressing the claims you were making. In fact, you’ve not replied to my objections.

            b. Actually, moral disagreement happens under a general background of agreement. It’s just that the disagreement is more salient because humans tend to care about that. But on there is a lot more agreement.

            c. In some of the subject matters there is also considerable disagreement. Illness and disease is one of them. While there is not much disagreement when it comes to, say, leprosy, for that matter there is not much disagreement in the case of morality when it comes to, say, whether torturing people for fun is immoral.
            On the other hand, there is disagreement when it comes to homosexuality, left-handedness (even if at different times), etc.

            d. There is also plenty of disagreements on metaethics, or epistemology, or philosophy of religion, etc. Yet, those are matters of fact (e.g., whether a metaethical theory, or an epistemological theory, or a claim about the existence of some entity (at least when the claim is meaningful), etc.), not matters of opinion, and I’m not taking any meta-philosophy burden by saying so. It’s the default position; the burden would be on the denier.

            e. As for rationality, maybe there isn’t much disagreement about whether the Holocaust was rational, but then, there isn’t much disagreement about whether it was immoral, either…unless you count disagreement over time, of course, and then there is plenty of disagreement since many the Nazis thought it was not immoral…but then again, they also thought it was not irrational., so you have disagreement as well.
            Moreover, there is plenty of disagreement about rationality today too (but why does it matter when the disagreement happens?), for example, there is disagreement about whether it’s rational to implement some kind of economic policies (e.g., socialist policies), or about whether it’s rational to hold some beliefs (e.g., Christianity, atheism under some definition, Islam, theism under some definition, etc.), and so on.
            Of course, that happens under a background of much greater agreement…as it happens with morality as well.

            f. How is the amount of disagreement relevant? If there is a problem for “adjudicating”, how is that not a problem in all of the other cases in which there is disagreement?
            In other words, even if there is more moral disagreement than there is disagreement about health, how is it that the amount of disagreement has anything to do with whether there is a problem when it comes to adjudicating the matter?

            g. What is the argument from disagreement supposed to show? If you want to undermine Craig’s second premise, that’s the most promising way, though in my view, it ultimately fails.

            You seem to miss the point that Craig claims that premise 2 is true, on the basis of intuitions. He does not assume theism in order to defend it. On the contrary, he’s making an argument for theism.

            Regarding the example of leprosy, again I was using that example as a reply against your claims. The argument from disagreement is goalposts-shifting, but let’s address it. How does the percentage of people relevant in this context? And what’s the relevant set of people?

            If you go back in time, there was a time where most people in some places believed that, say, left-handedness was an illness. And at some point, most believed that, say, homosexuality was an illness.

            As for your insistence of “in virtue of what”, I already asked the questions you did not address, and I pointed out that the “in virtue of what” question can be raised on many other topics, regardless of the amount of disagreement.

            But let me ask you again, how is the disagreement issue relevant. Let’s say that there were universal agreement that homosexuality is not a perversion. Would you then feel inclined then to withdraw the question, and/or to accept that even without God, the second premise would be true?

            As for the argument for the second premise, no you misrepresent it. You say: “Your argument seems to be that it’s objective because you say so and you don’t have to prove it. If you want to leave it there”.
            That vastly misrepresents what I said. I never suggested that whether I say so has anything to do with whether the matter is objective. I would recommend any interested readers to take a look at the exchange.

            As for the circularity, actually I was matching your question “in virtue of what?”; you’re just refusing to address the question you consider proper to ask the atheist (by the way, what do you mean by “atheist”?; you still do not say).

          • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

            Angra, in your view, how do we distinguish things which are “matters of fact” from things which are not “matters of fact?”

            Why couldn’t I claim that my belief that Coke tastes better than Pepsi is a matter of fact?

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            Good question. I would suggest there are at least two ways:

            a. Intuitions. That is what Craig relies on when he argues that moral matters are matters of fact, and he contrast that with matters of opinion or matters of taste (the example he gives is whether chocolate is better than vanilla; see http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s4-19 ).

            b. Linguistic evidence. In the case of objective matters, people understand themselves to disagree; in the case of matters of taste, instead when their respective judgments diverge, they would withdraw saying something “well, maybe it’s tasty to me, but not to you”.

            Arguably, b. is a reflection of shared intuitions mentioned in a.

            Yes, you could claim that whether Coke tastes better than Pepsi is a matter of fact – we can make all sorts of claims.
            But it would not be proper to make that claim, for the evidence is against that; it’s counterintuitive to us (even to you), and linguistic evidence supports that it’s a matter of taste or opinion, not a matter of fact.

          • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

            I would agree that B is merely a reflection of A. So, let’s say that your justification of what is and is not a matter of fact is merely a matter of intuition. Do you really think intuition is such a strong argument that it needs no further justification?

            Given atheistic evolutionary naturalism, why should we think that human intuitions correspond to some reality with regards to morality? (And for that matter, how do we know that there is a moral reality for our intuitions to correspond to? “Because of our intuitions” wouldn’t be a great answer, IMO)

            (FYI, I define atheism as the denial of the existence of a god or Gods.)

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            Regarding atheism, I still do not know whether I’m an atheist under your definition, because I do not know how you define “God” or “gods”; different people seem to use the words quite differently, so I still do not know what you mean by those words.
            As for your question “given atheistic evolutionary naturalism” (whatever that is) that puts the carts before the horses so to speak, and does not address the points I made in the following comment, which cover it.
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2014/02/22/why-most-animals-are-not-philosophers-fatal-flaws-in-dr-craigs-moral-argument-for-god/#comment-1259855937
            Again, Craig claims that intuitions, moral experience, etc., are enough, not that they’re enough assuming theism. That would put the cart before the horses, since he’s arguing for theism. And again, if the argument from disagreement succeeded, it would defeat his arguments as well.
            Trying to assess whether the intuitions are enough given “atheistic evolutionary naturalism” is not a proper way of assessing the matter. You would need to show that somehow non-theism somehow undermines the assessment already properly established based on intuitions, etc.
            I could copy and paste comment #1259855937, but I’d rather refer you to it for further details.
            As for your question “Do you really think intuition is such a strong argument that it needs no further justification?”, my answer is:
            a. Yes, as it’s usually the case in other matters, and as Craig claims as well.
            Again, as Craig said:
            Source: http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/20040801MoralArgumentPart3.mp3

            Craig: “Now, I think it’s very much the same thing with our perception of the moral realm. There is no way to get outside of your moral intuitions, to justify them. You can justify them back from the inside, by saying, “in moral experience, I apprehend clear and objective moral values, in the same way that, in sensory experience, I apprehend a world of physical objects. I can no more prove the veridicality or the reliability of those moral intuitions, than I can prove the reliability of my sensory intuitions.
            But, in both cases, in the absence of any defeater in the absence of any reason to doubt them, I’m rational to believe in them and accept these.”, and so I think that’s the justification basically – the one we’d give – for premise two, and as I say, if you talk to most folks, you will see that they do in fact believe that there are certain objective moral values and duties, if you just probe enough with examples. “
            So, if the intuitions are not such a strong argument, then I’m mistaken, but so is Craig, and he has failed to support premise 2, since he does not offer anything else.
            Note that he does not say that intuitions are enough under theism. Rather, he says intuitions are enough, and then rejects arguments like the argument from disagreement (e.g., http://www.reasonablefaith.org/how-can-people-be-so-morally-obtuse ), or the rest of my posts.
            So, at least I agree with Craig’s position on that particular point, but if you managed to defeat it, you would manage to defeat Craig’s argumentation as well, just because of that.
            b. It’s not different in the case of morality as in the case of, say, illness, or the case of epistemological theories. What kind of further justification is there, in those cases in which there is disagreement?
            c. If they were not enough, then the problem would be for Craig’s argumentation, premise 2, and even for theism, as I’ve been arguing.

            Back to your question: “Given atheistic evolutionary naturalism, why should we think that human intuitions correspond to some reality with regards to morality? (And for that matter, how do we know that there is a moral reality for our intuitions to correspond to? “Because of our intuitions” wouldn’t be a great answer, IMO) “
            I do not know for sure what you mean by “correspond to some reality”, but my point is:
            I. As one normally does in other cases, I trust my intuitions on this. I do not assume “atheistic evolutionary naturalism” to do this.
            2. I do not know what “atheistic evolutionary naturalism” is, but I do not need to assume that there is a creator of any sort in order to rely on my intuitions in point 1.
            3. If I assume there is no creator of the universe, I do not see a good reason to reject the judgment based on my intuitions and which I already made. In short, I would say that we should trust our intuitions under evolutionary naturalism just as we should trust them on ¬(atheistic evolutionary naturalism); in other words, it’s generally rational to trust your intuitions absent a defeater, and I do not see anything in evolutionary naturalism defeating them.
            To put it in other words, as Craig says:

            http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s4-22
            Craig: “So in our moral experience, I think we have every good reason to affirm the reality of objective moral values and duties, unless there is some overriding defeater that should cause us to think otherwise.”
            While his words are a bit unclear, as long as he means that we should trust our intuitions about the objectivity of moral matters, I would agree with his point. I just do not see how “atheistic evolutionary naturalism” would undermine our intuitions.

            Btw, your questions can be mirrored as follows: Given atheistic evolutionary naturalism, why should we think that human intuitions correspond to some reality with regards to health and illness? (And for that matter, how do we know that there is a healthiness reality for our intuitions to correspond to? “Because of our intuitions” wouldn’t be a great answer, IMO)

            Or Given atheistic evolutionary naturalism, why should we think that human intuitions correspond to some reality with regards to epistemology? (And for that matter, how do we know that there is a epistemic reality for our intuitions to correspond to? “Because of our intuitions” wouldn’t be a great answer, IMO)
            Or Given atheistic evolutionary naturalism, why should we think that human intuitions correspond to some reality with regards to metaethics? (And for that matter, how do we know that there is a metaethical reality for our intuitions to correspond to? “Because of our intuitions” wouldn’t be a great answer, IMO)
            Or similar points about, say, rationality.
            And so on. You may say there is greater disagreement in the case of morality. However:
            A: I don’t see any good evidence that there is greater disagreement in the case of morality than, say, in the case of metaethics, or epistemology, or rationality.
            B: Even in cases with less disagreement than in the case of morality, there is disagreement too. How are you making the disagreement count in this context? On that note, I still do not know how you’re trying to use the argument from disagreement. I would ask what that is supposed to show, and why it would work in the case of morality any better than in all of the other cases, at least when there actually is disagreement.

          • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

            I don’t think my denial of your position undermines Craig’s position, because I believe there’s fatal equivocation here between your notion of objective morality and Craig’s.

            When Craig says there is objective morality, he is saying that there are moral principles that all people at all times in all situations OUGHT to abide by.

            When you say there is objective morality, all you seem to mean is that there is a “matter of fact” about whether a moral principle is true or not.

            Do you think that those “matters of fact” create an “ought” for all people in all times in all situations, as Craig does?

            If not, then you don’t mean the same thing by objective morality that Craig does, and your claim and Craig’s claim are completely independent, and in need of independent justification. It could be that an “ought” construal of objective morality could be justified by intuition while a “matter of fact” construal of objective morality could not. I would say this is intuitively plausible, since, as far as I can tell, my moral intuitions are all of the “ought” rather than “matter of fact” kind. I have a strong intuition that I ought not kill, but I don’t have any intuition that “thou shalt not kill” is a “matter of fact” in a way that ignores the issue of obligation. Indeed, the idea that a moral intuition could be a matter of fact but not an obligation is not only not intuitive, it’s positively incoherent. I don’t even know what it would mean.

            So, I would say that unless your notion of objective morality includes a notion of obligation, your intuitions aren’t the same as the intuitions of most people. That alone should provide a defeater for your intuitions and should motivate you to find an independent line of argument for your “matter of fact” notion of objective morality.

            But once the obligation component is included, it’s clear why theism has a natural advantage over atheism. Moral obligations are fundamentally obligations to persons. What person could provide a locus of obligation such that moral duties are owed to him at all times and all places by all people? In theism, the answer is God. In atheism, there is no answer for a locus of obligation that could ground an “ought” conception of objective morality.

          • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

            Angra, I don’t have the time, or frankly the inclination, to respond with the frequency or length that you do. So, be aware that I’m not going to respond to every point you make; I’m going to focus in on what I believe to be the key issues.

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            Okay, fair enough; that’s understandable.

            I’m having time issues as well, btw.

            But I would suggest not to insist on points I already addressed without addressing my replies to them, else my reply would be perhaps a link to my previous comment, or a repetition of what I said, and that’s not very productive.

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            Actually, my analysis of Craig’s second premise follows his examples. Of course, I would agree that there is also a fact of the matter as to whether, say, Museveni had a moral obligation not to pass the law he passed.

            Furthermore, and while not needed for my argument, I would even say that it’s analytically true that Museveni’s actions were immoral if and only if he had a moral obligation not to engage in them.

            Now you’re using to a different kind of argument – that obligations are obligations to persons.

            Two questions:

            1. Is that a conceptual claim? In other words, are you saying that that’s analytical?
            2. In any case, what is your evidence in support of that claim?

            That’s not intuitively plausible to me, and if you’re going to say my intuitions are unusual, I will deny that, as for evidence, provide examples that you and readers can assess by your and their own intuitions, as well as examples of how other people use the words, or similar ones in other languages.

            For example, let’s say that every other person is dead, and only Jack is alive. Then if he tortures cats for fun, he’s behaving immorally, and so he has a moral obligation not to do that, even though there are no other persons.

            Now, a theist can claim that the scenario is metaphysically impossible, but I see no good reason to believe so – and in any case, if you’re trying to probe the concept of a moral obligation, then whether or not the scenario is counterpossible is beside the point.

            In any case, assuming that scenario is impossible beforehand would be improper in this context.

            Incidentally, people may talk about, say, whether Yahweh has a moral obligation to keep his covenant with Israel, and that seems perfectly intelligible and not counterintuitive to me.
            Alternatively, people may say “God has a moral obligation to make himself known” (Swinburne, Richard “The Existence of God”, Second Edition. Clarendon Press Oxford. Page 130.); that seems perfectly intelligible, and not counterintuitive at all to me. But Swinburne does not seem to be suggesting that that’s an obligation to God (of course, you could say that Swinburne is saying that in that case, God has a moral obligation to reveal himself to people, but going by this line of thought, we might as well say that God has a moral obligation not to torture cats for fun; that would be equally intelligible, and I would intuitively say true if theism were true)

            So, I do not see any good reason to think that moral obligations are always obligations to people.

          • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

            So, why the insistence on the “matter of fact” locution if, at base, you define objective morality as others do?

            A clear answer here would be helpful: are we agreed that a moral principle is objective if an only if all persons at all times have an obligation to abide by it?

            In answer to your questions, yes, I’m saying it’s analytically true that obligations are obligations to persons. If you disagree, then I ask you to provide another plausible locus of obligation, instead of again retreating to claims of indefeasible intuition.

            My evidence in support of the claim is that the notion of obligation is incoherent outside of reference to persons. If you disagree, then I again implore you to provide a plausible non-personal candidate for a locus of obligation.

            Yes, I would deny that Jack has an obligation to not torture cats for fun in the absence of God or any other persons. I might not like that Jack would torture a cat in that instance, but that is insufficient for me to say he has an obligation not to do so. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe our intuitions can do that much metaphysical work. All they can tell us is that we find some acts repulsive; they can’t create obligations for people who don’t share our intuitions.

            Yes, here I part company with classical theists in that I think God does have moral obligations to us. I don’t understand how that’s supposed to undermine the point that moral obligations are owed to persons? Humans are persons, and so is God. And I think it’s perfectly coherent that one of the persons that you can owe moral obligations to is yourself, as in the case of God.

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            a. “matter of fact” locution is how Craig illustrates what he means by the terms.
            Evidence:
            http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s4-19
            http://www.reasonablefaith.org/a-christian-perspective-on-homosexuality

            It’s Craig’s argument, so I go with his concept.

            b- The expression “objective morality” is used in more than one sense in philosophy, but I’m going with Craig’s distinction between matters of fact and matters of opinion, which by the way seems to match the usual, colloquial expression “there is an objective fact of the matter”. In any case, I’m going with Craig’s concept (as far as one can determine it from the obscure rhetoric, that is).

            c. Sometimes Craig is obscure in different parts of the argument or when defending the argument in different venues, but I think matching common usage of those expressions is the best interpretation of his words. My objective is to avoid confusion with empty rhetoric and actually go to the heart of the issue.

            d. I never suggested that whether someone has a moral obligation was not a matter of fact. On the contrary, I’m agreeing with the second premise, and I’ve been saying so in our exchange.

            As for whether a moral principle is objective, I do not know what you mean by that.
            I would say that whether, say, Hitler’s or Museveni’s actions were immoral are matters of fact, not matters of opinion, and they were (in the cases under discussion). Similarly, whether they had a moral obligation not to behave in such a way are matters of fact, not matters of opinion. Further, I would say that they had a moral obligation to refrain from acting as they did if and only if acting as they did was immoral.

            As to your claim: “In answer to your questions, yes, I’m saying it’s analytically true that obligations are obligations to persons. If you disagree, then I ask you to provide another plausible locus of obligation, instead of again retreating to claims of indefeasible intuition.”

            I reject of course the burden you try to put on me. Our intuitive grasp of the terms is a way (the usual one) of testing analyticity claims, and our moral intuitions in hypothetical scenarios are the way to test universal moral claims (whether including claims of analyticity or not). If you have another way of testing universal moral claims (whether including claims of analyticity or not), I implore that you present your method

            In any case, you’re the one making a claim of analyticity that conflicts with my understanding of the words, and with the understanding of many other people. I see no good reason to accept it; the evidence is strongly against it.
            .
            The talk of “locus of obligation” is as obscure as it gets, but I would say that just psychopathy – i.e., the property of being a psychopath – depends on the mind of the agent (i.e., whether agent A has such property depends on his mind), and (but this is not remotely my burden), so is whether an agent is morally good, or morally bad, or whether he’s behaving immorally.

            As for moral obligation, agent A has a moral obligation to X if and only if it would be immoral of A to ¬X, if and only if it would be morally wrong of A to X, so it seems plausible that moral wrongness – and thus, moral obligations – are in the mind of the agent behaving immorally/having obligations.

            There seems to be another, in my assessment secondary concept, which is that of a relation between two agents, by which one can say that agent A has a moral obligation to agent B, but only the mind of A seems primary.

            But then again, this is speculative and is not my burden; in any case, I have provided sufficient grounds for people to ascertain that there is no analyticity. Granted, you’re not persuaded, but I do not expect to persuade everyone.

            The point remains that you keep making a claim that flies on the face of our moral intuitions and our intuitive understanding of the words (well, maybe not yours, though that seems to be the case because of theistic metaethics influencing you).

            You say: “My evidence in support of the claim is that the notion of obligation is incoherent outside of reference to persons. If you disagree, then I again implore you to provide a plausible non-personal candidate for a locus of obligation. “

            That’s rhetorical barrage. I implore you to refrain from making such demands as if somehow I had to provide any sort of “locus of obligation” or otherwise your claim has some plausibility. I have no such burden, and I implore you to stop imploring, rhetorically implying that somehow there is something to your claim.

            As for the purported evidence, that’s not evidence but a claim that is not only unsubstantiated, but again flies on the face of my understading of the words, and on the face of the understanding of the words of other people too.

            You claim that the notion of obligation is incoherent outside of reference to persons. I see no reason to believe such an extraordinary claim.

            Let’s say that Bob is the only person that exists (or, for that matter, an omnipotent creator who is a moral agent); then it’s intuitively clear that Bob (or the omnipotent creator) would be acting immorally if he were to torture a cat for fun, which entails that he has a moral obligation not to torture cats for fun.

            Now, even if my intuitions about whether the omnipotent creator would have the obligation were mistaken, it would remain the case that there is nothing incoherent in that claim, and there is not even a reason to suspect that it’s analytically true that obligations are obligations to persons.

            So, I reject your claims for the reasons I’ve been giving. I cannot persuade you of course, and readers can make their own assessment.

            Yes, I would deny that Jack has an obligation to not torture cats for fun in the absence of God or any other persons. I might not like that Jack would torture a cat in that instance, but that is insufficient for me to say he has an obligation not to do so. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe our intuitions can do that much metaphysical work. All they can tell us is that we find some acts repulsive; they can’t create obligations for people who don’t share our intuitions.

            First, in this case, our intuitions are doing the work of assessing a semantic claim.

            Second, when it comes to metaphysical work in terms of assessing universal moral claims, our sense of right and wrong is the usual way to test them. If you have an alternative way to test universal moral claims (whether they include claims of analyticity or not), I implore that you present your method.

            Third, I simply do not have any good reasons to accept the extremely counterintuitive claims you’re making here. If you’re defending a metaethical argument, and in the process make claims that fly on the face of our moral intuitions (mine, and that of most people not on the grip of some theistic metaethics), then I see no reason to accept your metaethical claims.

            As for the moral obligations of God, my point would be that just as it would be immoral of God to torture us for fun (equivalently, God has a moral obligation not to torture us for fun), then it would be immoral of God to torture chimpanzees, bonobos, australopithecines, and Homo Habilis for fun.
            But if you think that those are moral obligations God has towards himself, I do not agree of course; my impression in a secondary sense, the obligations are towards those non-personal agents; in a primary sense, an obligation is in the mind of the person having an obligation (see above). But this is speculative and not my burden anyway; I would reject your claim on the basis given above, regardless of whether my speculative suggestion happens to be true.

          • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

            Well, I think we’ve reached the end of productive discussion here. You seem to believe that an effective argumentative strategy is to make a rather bold claim, defend that claim only by appeal to intuition, and then deny that you have any burden to provide further argument.

            If any given moral statement could be justified in this way, then all possible moral statements could be justified in this way. I would deny that such a system of dueling, contradictory, unsupported, unargued for intuitions deserves the name “objective.”

            You ask for another way to justify moral intuitions? Well, most moral systems try to analyze the nature of the moral obligation or “oughtness,” then tries to explicate a foundational moral principle that attempts to capture that “oughtness”, and then tests itself both against theoretical test cases and against other moral systems’ attempts to capture that oughtness.

            Intuitions certainly have a key place in this system of analysis, but they aren’t the end all be all. If your current intuitions on things like slavery, homosexuality, the proper role of women, and the like are correct, then that means the intuitions of the overwhelming majority of human beings throughout history on these topics have been incorrect. And given that human moral intuition thus has such a dismal track record of unreliablity, what makes you think you are an exception to this rule? What makes you think you are such an exception, that your moral intuitions do not even require argumentation, even in the face of people of equal or greater intelligence and character whose intuitions contradict yours?

            The fact that generally morally good and intelligent people have contradicting moral intuitions is generally why it’s agreed that anyone claiming their intuitions are correct adopts some burden of proof. And most proponents of a given theory of ethics recognize that burden and provide that proof. You, on the other hand, argue by appeal to naked, naive intuition, claim that your intuitions aren’t defeated by contradicting intuitions of others, and further claim that you have no burden to provide any argument as to why your intuitions are superior.

            Frankly, your approach is just a non-starter to me, and seems like little more than bluster. It’s pretty much saying “my moral beliefs are correct because my intuitions say they are, and my intuitions tell me that my intuitions are better than your intuitions, and thus my intuitions relieve me of the burden of explaining why my intuitions are better than yours.” It’s intuitions all the way down.

            Your problem here isn’t that you’ve failed to convince me. It’s that by denying you have any burden to show your intuitions are correct, you’ve given up on even the POSSIBILITY convincing anyone whose intuitions differ from yours.

            Thank you for the pleasant discussion. I’ll read your reply, but this will be my last response.

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            No, you seem to believe that Craig-like rhetoric is a good argumentative strategy – it’s good at confusing people, but not at getting to the matter at hand -. that points I already showed to be flawed repeatedly are good, and so on.

            You’re also failing to use “objective” in the relevant sense.

            That aside, you say: “You ask for another way to justify moral intuitions? Well, most moral systems try to analyze the nature of the moral obligation or “oughtness,” then tries to explicate a foundational moral principle that attempts to capture that “oughtness”, and then tests itself both against theoretical test cases and against other moral systems’ attempts to capture that oughtness.”

            a. The vast majority of people across time and today did not have access to those systems, yet they did/do have the means of gaining moral knowledge (else, how could they ever be blamed?)
            b. Actually, a system like that has to test itself against “test cases”, which are cases in which we intuitively apprehend moral truth, to test the system. So, the system cannot justify those intuitions.
            c. I’m not claiming that moral intuition is all there is. There is also reasoning about and evaluation of non-moral matters (in order to ascertain intent, consequences), and even reasoning involving moral claims. But in the end, the basis is some moral intuitive judgments, and you can’t go further than that.

            Moreover, nearly every human being, historically and today, believed or believe in objective morality, even though of course they did/do not have an account of that – just as they did not/do not have an account of objective color, objective illness, objective doghood (or whatever animals they were familiar with), and so on, and even then, they were justified in holding that morality was objective in the relevant sense.

            On the other hand, having a theory is not always an advantage. If one believes a bad theory, that’s a problem. I see no good reason to accept Craig’s DCT, or any other form of theistic metaethics, and you have provided no good reason to believe that – that or your semantic claim.

            So, I do not believe them.

            Intuitions certainly have a key place in this system of analysis, but they aren’t the end all be all. If your current intuitions on things like slavery, homosexuality, the proper role of women, and the like are correct, then that means the intuitions of the overwhelming majority of human beings about these topics have been incorrect. And given that human moral intuition thus has such a dismal track record of unreliablity, what makes you think you are an exception to this rule? What makes you think you are such an exception, that your moral intuitions do not even require argumentation, even in the face of people of equal or greater intelligence and character whose intuitions contradict yours?

            First, by “intuitions” I do not mean unreflective intuitions. We also make intuitive assessments after considering the matters at hand.
            Second, the track record is not that bad, since disagreement happens over a background of wide agreement. It’s just that the disagreement is salient because we care about that, but – to use Craig’s words -, “The world is not really as awash in relativism as you think.”

            http://www.reasonablefaith.org/how-can-people-be-so-morally-obtuse
            Third, when assessing a matter – like, say, homosexuality -, I do take into consideration that many other people disagree with me. But I do not stop there. I try to figure out why they make that judgment. Is it an intuition that they claim to have, without any kind of reasoning? Is there some reasoning? What shaped their moral beliefs, anyway?
            And what I have found in the cases I could check is:
            a. Errors about non-moral matters.
            b. Faulty reasoning.
            c. Reliance on sources they should not rely upon, like the Bible or the Quran, or generally cultural conditioning.
            On the other hand, I do not see any similar weakness in my assessment.
            That said, I’m not some “exception to the rule”; there is no rule that the track record is so bad, but it’s true that most people are sometimes influenced by a number of factors, like faulty reasoning, errors about non-moral matters, and religion/ideology/generally cultural conditioning.
            Some people are better at eliminating those factors than others. In my case, when it comes to homosexuality, there are no logical errors or errors about non-moral matters (I have checked, considered the matters, etc.), and similarly no undue cultural influence (if it did, my beliefs would match up with those around me; they do not, or rather, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t).

            But in any event, one can always turn the tables on this: how do you come to the belief that Christianity is true if that’s what you believe?
            You are rejecting the intuitions and generally the moral assessments of many people who reckon that Christianity is morally bankrupt (for my case, see https://docs.google.com/document/d/1z9cu1ijXyotX1EkOhL7YcYxk0n-lxZydfWr9g4UYcPU/pub ); of course, you have to make absurd probabilistic assessments to believe in the resurrection and all – and yes, I have to make my own assessment to do that; we all have to do and do that; we cannot jump out of our own minds.
            And if you don’t believe that Christianity is true, then good for you, but you still believe that Craig has a case, and argue in a Craig-like manner (btw, I acknowledge you’re a superb rhetorician), which is not rational – you should realize after reflection that he has no case, etc.; of course, you will reject that, but disagreement exists about rationality in addition to morality.
            In any case, you either intuitively assess that Craig’s theory or some other theory makes sense, or you just assume it without even using your epistemic intuitions.

            The fact that generally morally good and intelligent people have contradicting moral intuitions is generally why it’s agreed that anyone claiming their intuitions are correct adopts some burden of proof. And most proponents of a given theory of ethics recognize that burden and provide that proof. You, on the other hand, argue by appeal to naked, naive intuition, claim that your intuitions aren’t defeated by contradicting intuitions of others, and further claim that you have no burden to provide any argument as to why your intuitions are superior.

            Now you conflate intuitions about morality’s being objective in the relevant sense, with intuitions about first-order ethical claims, and you’re trying to put a burden on me on the metaethical case.
            As I repeatedly pointed out, Craig too has nothing in support of the second premise that I do not have (I recommend interested readers to take a look at the exchange; I’m not going to repeat myself a zillion times); moreover, historically, at the very least every human being in the world has nothing better than intuitions to believe that there is objective morality.
            I do not argue by “naked, naïve intuition”. I analyze the matters at hand, and make intuitive judgments after that too (again, intuitions are not only preliminary intuitions).
            In the homosexuality case, my intuition is that the orientation is not a perversion, and consensual gay sex is not generally immoral (except if it involves cheating, etc., but that’s not immoral for being gay). I read the arguments of those who claim otherwise, their alleged reasons, etc., and still have the intuition that it was not immoral – plus, along the way I find errors in some of their arguments.
            By the way, my older judgment was that homosexuality was “intrinsically disordered”, and that gay sex was immoral. But that’s because I was raised a Catholic, and believed Catholic moral claims. Upon reflection, I realize that there was no good reason to just accept those moral claims, so I assessed them without taking them for granted – some of the claims remained (like in some economic matters), other changed (like in sexual issues).

            Frankly, your approach is just a non-starter to me, and seems like little more than bluster. It’s pretty much saying “my moral beliefs are correct because my intuitions say they are, and my intuitions tell me that my intuitions are better than your intuitions, and thus my intuitions relieve me of the burden of explaining why my intuitions are better than yours.” It’s intuitions all the way down.

            That misrepresents what I’ve been saying – and badly. I recommend readers to carefully take a look at the exchange, if they’re interested in figuring out who’s right.

            Your problem here isn’t that you’ve failed to convince me. It’s that by denying you have any burden to show your intuitions are correct, you’ve given up on even the POSSIBILITY convincing anyone whose intuitions differ from yours.
            Thank you for the pleasant discussion. I’ll read your reply, but this will be my last response.

            Suit yourself, of course, but:
            1. You’re again conflating intuitions about metaethics with first-order intuitions, you’re ignoring that Craig bases his defense of premise 2 on intuitions (and you do not have anything better yourself, either), assuming intuitions are preliminary intuitions, etc.
            2. The discussion was quite unpleasant to me – not immediately, but after a while.
            Given the kind of replies I get from you, I’m very surprised it was pleasant to you – if the discussion were pleasant, I would expect much less misrepresentation, and no Craig-like rhetoric.
            But okay, whatever.
            3. As for your claim that my denial of the metaethical burden means I’ve given up even the possibility of convincing someone with intuitions different from mine on first-order ethical issues, that’s just absurd – and if you meant in metaethical issues, I’m not aiming at persuading people who believe the second premise is false, but in any case, if I had to, it would depend on why they believe it’s false.
            If they just intuitively believe the second premise is false, I would tell them their intuitions are extremely unusual. If they believe it because of some argument, I might engage if I knew which one. If it’s an argument from disagreement (which long ago I used to accept), I would suggest that they reexamine their evidence, especially on the issues of whether the disagreement would persist if people were being rational, had no false non-moral beliefs relevant to the moral matters at hand, etc.

            In any case, getting some people to actually reflect on a matter and use their intuitions instead of going by the Bible, or generally by a belief that they’ve been told and never assessed, would be significant progress in my view, and I think if I managed to get them to think like that, I would have a good shot at convincing them in moral matters.

            Finally, on the issue of convincing people, it’s not my only goal, or even my main goal. I’m more interested in preventing people from being confused by Craig’s arguments, and similar ones, rather than to change the minds of those already convinced by them (or, for that matter, by Christianity). If this discussion contributed to that, my work is done. If not, well, we can’t always get what we aim at; I might still say, for those interested (if any readers are), that if they’re interested in a more detailed explanation of my objections to Craig’s metaethical argument, they can find it in the following page:

            https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-yX1_X-Rz5vi0lmc2IBaXOW5wZettrvel7J5MgRX3Jk/pub

            (and I see nothing wrong with promoting my own argument in the hope that it will help reduce the amount of confusion Craig’s metaethical argument generates).

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            Chad, here are some further thoughts on the issue of the argument from disagreement, and what it would need to show.

            The intuitive and linguistic evidence I mentioned earlier are of course not indefeasible.
            For example, let’s consider the case of, say, whether an animal is a dog. That’s intuitively a matter of fact, and linguistic evidence supports that.
            But let’s consider the evolution of dogs: through gradual changes, animals that were not dogs evolved into dogs. Similarly, if we were to use genetic engineering to alter a dog, small changes would still result in a dog, but big changes would not.
            So, let’s say that someone makes an animal such that 50% of people say it’s a dog, and 50% say it’s not a dog. That does not mean that there is no fact of the matter. It may be that there are some facts about the animal that some people do not know and which are relevant to making the assessment as to whether it’s a dog. Or maybe some people are irrationally rooting for their team, so to speak, in siding with their friends, etc., rather than properly applying the concept “dog” as they intuitively grasp it.
            But let’s say that as people learn more and more about the animal, they still make divergent judgments. And let’s say that the judgments are not in line with any identifiable groups.
            Then perhaps, there is no fact of the matter as to whether it’s a dog after all. It may be that the colloquial word “dog” is not precise enough to settle the matter in such a case. Different competent speakers have learned to use the word slightly differently, and this is one of the problematic cases. There is no sharp line between dogs and non-dogs; the boundary is fuzzy.
            In that example, the disagreement was apparent, but not real. People were just talking past each other.
            Should we then conclude that there is no objective doghood, and that whether animals are dogs is a matter of opinion?

            No. Just as we can properly say that, e.g., a ball is spherical even if it’s not a perfect sphere, or that it’s red even if 1/1000000 of it lost its paint (i.e., there is some tolerance in colloquial speech), we can properly say that there is objective doghood, that matters of whether an animal is a dog are matters of fact, etc.
            Now, if we need more precision, we can say that matters about whether an animal is a dog are nearly always (counting actual or realistic cases) a matter of fact, but sometimes the word is not precise enough.

            Similar considerations apply to cockroaches, elephants, cars, gas giants, and usually the matters that are matters of fact.

            How could an argument from disagreement work against moral objectivity?

            Despite the name “argument from disagreement”, what the argument would have to show is that the disagreement is apparent, and that people are actually using the words differently, if the aim is to show that there is no fact of the matter as to, say, whether homosexuality is a perversion.
            But disagreement on the matter (or apparent disagreement; I’ll say “disagreement” to simplify) would be insufficient to defeat our intuitions. Much more would be needed. One would need (at least) very strong evidence that the disagreement would persist after people reflect on the matter carefully and all sources of irrationality are eliminated, and errors about non-moral facts are eliminated; this includes correcting errors about the sources used to base a moral assessment, and even cultural conditioning (as Craig points out) that affects moral beliefs but not the meaning of the words.

            If all of that evidence were there, one would have warrant to say that there is no fact of the matter as to whether homosexuality is a perversion.

            If the aim is not to show that there is no fact of the matter, but that a moral error theory is true, then the evidence above would be required, plus the evidence that moral language is committed to there being a fact of the matter in all cases (unlike language about dogs, cats, cars, planets, etc.; I do not think moral language has that commitment).

            But now let’s say that this argument were to succeed. Would that entail that premise 2 is not true?
            That depends on how much precision one requires. If one is speaking in colloquial terms, with some tolerance (as in the dog case), the answer is negative. Premise 2 would still be true, as long as the case of homosexuality is a rare case, and in nearly all other realistic scenarios there is a fact of the matter.

            But let’s say that an argument from disagreement is based on disagreement about a number other moral issues too. If they managed to show that there is no fact of the matter in all those cases, then that would defeat the second premise.

            But I do not think there is good evidence of that.

            By the way, if we take the argument from disagreement as good evidence that there is no fact of the matter in the cases in which we find disagreement similar to the one we see in the case of homosexuality, then that would affect theism as well, in the following manner:

            There is similar disagreement over whether a morally good or a great entity with unlimited power and omniscient, could possibly create a universe like ours, allow all of the suffering, moral evil, etc. The disagreement in those cases is as persistent and common as it is in the case of homosexuality.

            So, if the disagreement (or apparent disagreement) in the case of homosexuality were enough to show that there is no fact of the matter as to whether homosexuality is a perversion, then plausibly the other disagreements would be enough to show that there is no fact of the matter as to whether a morally good or great entity with unlimited power and omniscient could possibly create a universe such as ours.

            But then, even there were a creator of unlimited power and omniscient, there would be no fact of the matter as to whether that creator is morally good or great; but that would be lethal for theism.

            Now, if the disagreement (or apparent disagreement) in the case of homosexuality were not enough to show that there is no fact of the matter as to whether homosexuality is a perversion, but enough to make the view that there is a fact of the matter as to whether homosexuality is a perversion unwarranted, then similarly, plausibly it would be unwarranted to hold that there is a fact of the matter as to whether a being with unlimited power and omniscient could possibly create a universe like ours.

            In any case, Craig rejects arguments from disagreement on a number of grounds, as I’ve been pointing out (e.g., see http://www.reasonablefaith.org/how-can-people-be-so-morally-obtuse , or a couple of the other links I provided); those grounds do not assume theism, of course – if he did, that would be an improper move on his part, for all of the reasons I’ve been arguing.

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            Continuing on the issue of intuitions, disagreement, etc. (and hopefully this post will make some of my points more clear to you), I may reason as follows:

            a. I trust my intuitions that moral matters are objective matters, as I trust my intuition that matters of health and illness are objective matters, and so are matters of whether some theory in epistemology is true, whether some theory in metaethics is true, so are color matters, so are matters like whether some object is a dog, or a cockroach, or is water, or milk, and so on.

            In absence of an overriding defeater, it’s rational to trust one’s intuitions. I assume nothing about any creator, one way or another.

            b. I consider the argument from disagreement in the cases of morality, illness, metaethics, epistemology, etc., and in none of those cases I find it nearly strong enough to defeat the previous intuitive assessment. In particular, in the case of morality, Craig himself makes good points against the disagreement argument (in the links I provided, and without assuming theism in his reply to the argument, since the argument is given in support of premise 2).
            Also in particular, in cases of moral disagreement, when I have the opportunity to probe them (asking questions, reading, etc.), I find that moral disagreement tends to result from (some may overlap):

            1. Mistaken beliefs about non-moral matters.
            2. Mistakes in logic, including non-sequiturs, equivocations, as well as failure to understand the scenarios given as counterarguments.
            3. Moral assessments resulting from cultural conditioning, which comes from past sources which in turn incurred mistakes like those in 1., or 2. This includes a tendency to side with the beliefs prevalent in a person’s groups (family, religion, tribe), without reflecting on them, or in analogies or other counterarguments.

            I have not found cases in which there is good evidence that it’s none of the above. Given that, I do not find the argument from disagreement sufficient (neither does Craig, by the way).
            If, on the other hand, I found the evidence from disagreement sufficient, I would reject premise 2, but not just “on atheistic evolutionary naturalism”; rather, if I assessed that the argument from disagreement succeeds, I would consider that a defeater for theism and/or for the rationality of theistic beliefs, independently of other considerations.

            None of that requires any assumptions about any creators.

            c. I do not know what you mean by “atheistic evolutionary naturalism”, but I do reckon that the evidence and arguments available to us strongly supports an unguided evolutionary process.
            But from the belief that there is an unguided evolutionary process, I still do not see any overriding defeater for my intuitions in the cases of epistemology, metaethics, color, health and disease, dogs and cockroaches, or for that matter morality – nor do I see any good reason to single out morality here.

            d. If I further assume that there is no creator of the universe of any kind, in any common definition of “universe”, I also still do not see any overriding defeater for my intuitions in the cases of epistemology, metaethics, color, health and disease, dogs and cockroaches, or for that matter morality nor do I see any good reason to single out morality here.

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            More on the argument from disagreement:

            a. What does Craig offer, in support of the second premise?

            Actually, he offers intuitions, our moral experience ( source: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s4-22 ).

            Not just his intuitions. But intuitions that seem to be shared among humans. Now, of course he does not use theism. He should not assume theism since he’s arguing for theism. But he considers that intuitions are good enough to establish the second premise (e.g., he says “So in our moral experience, I think we have every good reason to affirm the reality of objective moral values and duties, unless there is some overriding defeater that should cause us to think otherwise.”; of course, he does not consider that disagreement constitutes such a defeater; if he did, his argument would be over right there).

            In fact, he claims that moral disagreement presupposes that morality is objective in the relevant sense (source: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s4-19 ); he makes further arguments to reject the argument from disagreement (e.g., http://www.reasonablefaith.org/how-can-people-be-so-morally-obtuse ); but he does not rely on an assumption that God exists as a response (which would not be proper in this context); he just considers that the evidence from disagreement fails to undermine the evidence from intuitions and moral experience in any significant way.

            Also, he argues:

            Source: http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/20040801MoralArgumentPart3.mp3

            Craig: “Now, I think it’s very much the same thing with our perception of the moral realm. There is no way to get outside of your moral intuitions, to justify them. You can justify them back from the inside, by saying, “in moral experience, I apprehend clear and objective moral values, in the same way that, in sensory experience, I apprehend a world of physical objects. I can no more prove the veridicality or the reliability of those moral intuitions, than I can prove the reliability of my sensory intuitions.
            But, in both cases, in the absence of any defeater in the absence of any reason to doubt them, I’m rational to believe in them and accept these.”, and so I think that’s the justification basically – the one we’d give – for premise two, and as I say, if you talk to most folks, you will see that they do in fact believe that there are certain objective moral values and duties, if you just probe enough with examples. “

            I recommend you read his argument in full, but if that is not enough to establish premise 2, or if that’s not enough in the presence of disagreement, then Craig has failed to establish premise two. Moreover, in that case (i.e., if that’s not enough), it would be improper to claim that theism is true as a means of explaining objective morality, since the proper conclusion if the argument from disagreement were to succeed would be that there is no objective morality.

            b. What do I offer, in support of the second premise?

            Actually, I offer our shared intuitions – just as Craig does -, and the way in which people talk (i.e., linguistic evidence of people understanding themselves to be talking about an objective matter). So, I offer no less evidence in support of premise 2 than Craig does – in fact, I offer all of the evidence he offers.

            If the evidence I offer in support of premise 2 is not enough, then neither is the evidence offered by Craig, and his argumentation fails.
            If the evidence I offer in support of premise 2 is not enough given disagreement, then similarly, neither is his evidence; if the disagreement argument succeeds, then it’s improper to try to give a foundation for objective morality, since the proper conclusion would be that there is no objective morality – and assuming theism would be improper in the context of an argument for theism.

            So, a question is: is disagreement enough to make our evidence from shared intuitions and linguistic evidence insufficient to establish premise 2?

            In order for the disagreement argument to succeed,

            I think not, because:

            1. Disagreement happens over a background of agreement. In other words, there is much more agreement that there is disagreement. So, there is not that much disagreement after all. In fact, Craig makes this very point in this rejection of the argument from disagreement (e.g., http://www.reasonablefaith.org/how-can-people-be-so-morally-obtuse ).

            2. When there is disagreement, one usually identifies that at least one of the sides is making her moral assessment improperly, since either:

            I. She’s basing the assessment on false beliefs about non-moral matters.
            II. She’s using a source she shouldn’t trust instead of her sense of right and wrong, like a book she has no good reason to think it’s a source of moral truth. For example, she may be trusting the Bible or the Quran, instead of using her own sense of right and wrong to assess whether those books make generally true moral claims. In other words, she’s putting the cart before the horses.

            Sometimes, even her sense of right and wrong has been distorted by those sources she shouldn’t rely on (e.g., if she was indoctrinated from childhood).

            In case I., there is no actual conflict between the verdicts of different people’s senses of right and wrong – they’re just applying them to different non-moral facts (or purported facts).
            In case II, whether there is some conflict between such verdicts depends on whether the person using the unreliable source is placing that source above her sense of right and wrong (in which case, she’s putting the cart before the horses, and that’s her error), or her sense of right and wrong has already developed improperly because of that source; but in any case, that’s evidence that someone has a faulty sense of right and wrong, not that there is no species-wide sense of right and wrong (just as the fact that some people are color blind does not mean that humans do not have a species-wide color sense).

            Obviously, Craig disagrees with me on the issue of the reliability of the Bible. However, he does agree in pointing out to the fact of cultural conditioning (just not that specific one), as part of his reply to the argument from disagreement ( see http://www.reasonablefaith.org/how-can-people-be-so-morally-obtuse ).

            c. In any event, again if the above fails to support premise 2 sufficiently, one should reject premise 2. One should not posit theism as somehow a way to get around that. That would an improper way of assessing the matter – if the evidence undermines one’s intuitions and experiences so much, well tough luck; it’s not epistemically proper to make something up in order to somehow overcome the evidence.

            By the way, again I will point out that Craig considers that our intuitions and experience are sufficient to establish premise 2, and in fact he uses that in the context of his argument (see above); he does not believe disagreement undermines prevents that evidence from establishing premise 2, and in fact if it did, then his argumentation would fail just because of that .

            d. Regarding Museveni, there is a difference between metaethical and first-order ethical burdens. I reject the former, but in any case say that the evidence given above – which is no less than the evidence given by Craig – is enough to establish that there is a fact of the matter.

            As for first-order ethical burdens, I would accept it if I intended to persuade, and I wasn’t trying to (since that would have been beside the point), so this is not relevant to the metaethical matters at hand.

            Still, I did argue that Museveni was mistaken in his claims and that his actions are immoral.

            I can argue that again:

            1. Museveni is basing his assessment apparently on biblical claims, whereas I’m using my own sense of right and wrong, undamaged by that.

            2. Museveni is making false and/or unwarranted claims about non-moral matters in order to support his moral claims (like his claims about there being nothing in the DNA of gay people that makes a difference regarding orientation).

            3. Museveni is engaging in faulty reasoning, like the non-sequitur that because the DNA does not make them gay, then it’s a choice.

            All of those are clear indications that he’s making an unwarranted claim at least. Now, I would claim that punishing people on the basis of unwarranted moral beliefs is immoral – that seems intuitively clear; granted, someone might say otherwise, but for that matter, someone might say that their epistemic intuitions make omphalism more probable than evolution. If so, their intuitions are just wrong, but that does not mean that there is no fact of the matter, or that the evidence biologists rely on is not sufficient to establish evolution.

            Again, I do not claim to be able to convince everyone, but the same goes for evolution, or illness, or rationality, or theories in different branches of philosophy, and so on.

          • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1al-RuUEVxHk3ldQQC8o0U5ES3T7MfnmxdaKjVAl0Zzc/pub Angra Mainyu

            Chad,

            Just a couple more points:

            With regard to color, Craig himself claims that color is objective, in the relevant sense. In fact, he uses the case of color as an example to illustrate a point about objective moral values.

            Source: http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/20040801MoralArgumentPart3.mp3

            Craig says: “That’s what objective moral values mean, and I think we apprehend that this was objectively bad. If somebody fails to do so, then I would say that person is just morally handicapped. He is like a colorblind person, who can’t see the difference between red and green. And the fact that he can’t see the difference shouldn’t in any way lead me to doubt that I do see a clear difference between red and green, between the Holocaust and a policy that would tolerate the rights…the inherent rights of human individuals. ”

            But let’s say that someone asks: “in virtue of what can the statement that the traffic light Bob ran was red, be adjudicated as objectively true or objectively false?” What would you reply?

            Let’s consider the following matter:

            M1: Whether the insect on my bathroom floor was a cockroach.

            That’s definitely a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion. It’s an objective matter in the sense that is relevant here. Similarly, the following corresponding statements are objective statements:

            P1: The insect in my bathroom was a cockroach.
            P1′: The insect in my bathroom was not a cockroach.

            P1 is an objective, true statement. And P1′ is an objective, false statement.
            I’m justified in making such claims – I can definitely tell that thing was a cockroach.

            But I would like to ask how you would reply to a question like: “In virtue of what, on your worldview, can P1 be adjudicated as objectively true or objectively false?”.

    • Richard Amiel McGough

      The article’s denial of premise 1 of Craig’s argument ignores that Craig is referencing OBJECTIVE morality. Craig doesn’t deny that, absent a God, humans might have moral feelings, moral sentiments, and even robust moral traditions. That doesn’t undermine Craig’s point that, on atheism, none of those moral feelings, sentiments, and traditions would refer to OBJECTIVE realities.

      I am the author of the article. I do not deny objectivity of morality. On the contrary, I have developed an scientific theory which establishes the objectivity of morality. See The Logic of Love: A Natural Theory of Morality. The basic idea is that the concept of morality is itself based on the concept of objectivity. Morality is intrinsically objective. E.g. The idea of being “fair” is a synonym of “objective” and is one of the most fundamental aspects of morality. I discuss this in my article Morality is Objective, Like a Pair of Scales. Another Fatal Flaw in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God.
      .

      Also, I do not simply deny Craig’s first premise, that there could be no objective morality without God. I expose the error in his argument which is based on the false assertion that humans would be “just animals” under atheism. His assertion is simply ludicrous, as I showed in the article. If you disagree, you need to show an error in something I wrote.

      The article goes on to more or less deny that objective morality exists, but I don’t think such a denial is “fatal” to Craig’s argument. That atheists tend to deny his second premise is sort of evidence that he’s onto something with his first premise.

      My refutation is fatal to Craig’s argument in as much as it shows that he failed to support his first premise. There is no reason to think that humans would not be moral agents under atheism. And this touches another fatal flaw in Craig’s argument – he disintegrates the fundamental interconnection between moral epistemology and moral ontology. He admits that everyone, theists and atheists alike, “would appeal to the same mechanisms” to determine what is moral. In other words, he says that we would all agree on moral epistemology. But then he says that under atheism, those very things that we know to be moral would not “really” be moral because they are not grounded in his speculative metaphysical entity (God). I discuss this error in my article The Golden Rule and the Foundation of Objective Morality.

      Euthyphro -style objections notwithstanding, I think the argument from morality is at least very rhetorically effective to the extent that it is able to force people to choose between atheism and objective moral values. For many, that’s a tough choice.

      Morality is objective by its very nature, by what we mean when we say “fair” and “just” which are objective concepts. I do not force any such choice as you suggest, but rather explain the nature of objective morality. It has absolutely nothing to do with any god, as Euthyphro showed some 2500 years ago.

      • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

        Mr. McGough, I am very honored that you would engage with me here! Thank you for the discussion.

        I’ll read your article “The Logic of Love” in the morning (it’s nearing my bedtime!) but preliminarily, I would agree that most moral statements by their nature purport to be objective (which is to say, the person who makes moral statements almost always means himself to be speaking objectively) but that doesn’t mean those statements refer to objective realities. After all, religious speakers almost always believe themselves to be speaking about objective realities, but that doesn’t suffice to show that any religious beliefs are objectively true. That a person intends to speak of an objective reality doesn’t mean that they succeed in that intention.

        I maintain that your treatment of Craig’s first premise misses the point. Craig doesn’t say that humans wouldn’t engage in moral behavior absent a God, he just denies that those behaviors would refer to anything objective.

        I would also disagree that Euthyphro objections show that God has nothing to do with morality. All Euthyphro objections show, on my view, is that there has to be some terminus, some final explainer in terms of what constitutes goodness. Whatever that is, God, the Form of the Good, empathy, evolution… one could generate a Euthyphro-style objection to it. If empathy is the bedrock principle of your moral theory, I could ask you if an action is good because it is empathetic, or if it is empathetic because it’s good. Would such an objection show that morality has nothing to do with empathy? No, it would only show that however one defines goodness, one can’t get behind that definition for a more fundamental explanation.

        That’s how I see it, anyway. I’m not a philosopher, nor am I as proficient in philosophy as most of the other non-philosophers who frequent this blog. Just my two cents. I enjoyed your article.

        • Richard Amiel McGough

          Hey there Mr. Handley,

          It is good to be discussing this topic with you. Thanks for taking the time to critically evaluate my arguments. It is much appreciated.

          I maintain that your treatment of Craig’s first premise misses the point. Craig doesn’t say that humans wouldn’t engage in moral behavior absent a God, he just denies that those behaviors would refer to anything objective.

          Yes, that is what he maintains. But how does he justify his assertion? By falsely asserting that humans would be “just animals” under atheism. As far as i can tell, you have not addressed this point.

          Craig explicitly asserts that the reason humans would not have any “moral obligations” is because animals have no “moral obligations.” That is a rhetorical trick. Objective morality is not properly described as an “obligation” because that imports the idea of a universal moral lawgiver to whom we are “obligated” (which conveniently coincides with the conclusion of his circular argument). Objective morality has nothing to do with any lawgiver. It is objective because it is based on objective concepts like fairness. I explained this to you both in my post and the article you read, but I don’t recall seeing a response. This is the essential to understand what objective morality means and to see why Craig’s argument is fallacious. Morality is objective, like a pair of scales. Scales do not require a god to function. This is why Lady Justice is pictured with a pair of scales and a blindfold – they represent fairness and objectivity. This is the nature of morality. Craig totally ignores the very essence of morality and merely asserts that there must be some invisible unknowable speculative metaphysical entity to “ground” it. Nothing could be more absurd. He admits that everyone – theists and atheists alike – would “use the same mechanisms” to determine what is objective moral, but then asserts that it wouldn’t “really” be moral if there were no god to say so. In other words, to support his assertion, he must disintegrate the innate coherence of moral epistemology and moral ontology. His argument is fundamentally anti-philosophical in that he does not even attempt to explicate why an action is or is not moral.

          I would also disagree that Euthyphro objections show that God has nothing to do with morality. All Euthyphro objections show, on my view, is that there has to be some terminus, some final explainer in terms of what constitutes goodness. Whatever that is, God, the Form of the Good, empathy, evolution… one could generate a Euthyphro-style objection to it.

          I would say your argument is fallacious because you have introduced the concept of an “abstract good” which is not tethered to anything real. My moral theory is grounded in the “good” that is self love which is known to every rational being and is the foundation of love for others. Any rational being cares for itself, feeds itself, loves itself. And for social beings like humans, that self love is reflected to others that are recognized as a self like unto one’s own self, modulated through the symmetric logic of the Golden Rule.

          Great chatting!

          Richard

          • http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/ Chad Handley

            Richard,
            All I can say is that if you define objective morality as something that is non-obligatory, then you don’t just differ from the theistic definition of objective morality but from the philosophical and colloquial definition of objective morality. An objective moral principle is, by definition, something we OUGHT to abide by. But if there are no moral obligations, then there is nothing we OUGHT to do. And if there is nothing we OUGHT to do, there is no objective morality.

            You could of course continue to claim that your system of morality is objective because it is “based on something real,” but that’s not what anyone is looking for in an explication of naturalistic objective morality. They are looking for a naturalistic justification of the very “oughtness” that you ignore from the outset.


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