To me, ethical or good and bad, unethical or evil are variations of human interaction not in any way in reality attached to some other worldly opinions. Good, Bad or Evil to me have nothing to do with superstition nonsense like sin or violations of some arbitrary religious obligations. In the age of reason we are not limited to myths or religion moral theorizing. To better grasp a naturalistic morality one should see the perspective of how there is a self-regulatory effect on the self-evaluative moral emotions, such as shame and guilt. Broadly conceived, self-regulation distinguishes between two types of motivation: approach/activation and avoidance/inhibition. one should conceptually understand the socialization dimensions (parental restrictiveness versus nurturance), associated emotions (anxiety versus empathy), and forms of morality (proscriptive versus prescriptive) that serve as precursors to each self-evaluative moral emotion. As atheists or even the scientific evidence minded we can realizing the bad unethical or harm behavior which causes moral outrage (what I deem as evil) no longer should be confused as tied to mystic religious questions with their superstition answers or even left as questions only for philosophy.
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But more rightly the questions of good, ethical or bad, unethical and evil behaviors must also involve formal axiology, psychology, sociology, neurology, biology as well as should be viewed from an evolutionary perspective. I hope I am always strong enough to put my morality at the forefront in all I do, so much so, that it is obvious in the ways I think and behave. All religions have some form of self-shaming institution such as “sin” or its equivalent such as karma or something else often used to describe actions that create negative self or other outlook where truly there is none. This idea of sin points out how religions promote pseudo-morality. The easiest aspect to grasp about pseudo-morality is when it is claimed that you can do something immoral to yourself that is pseudo-morality. True morality is how one conducts themselves with others. There is no ethical violation of self. To understand this concept considers how consent violations are unethical and how one does not need to get consent from oneself. Thus, there cannot be a consent violation against self and the aspect of sin is pseudo-morality, which promotes that there can be a violation of the self. Some will try to say that the violation is of a god but this is wrong because this is saying that someone else has control over what ethical things you do to yourself and what you do to yourself under your own consent. Likewise, another aspect of pseudo-morality is how religions seem to take the position that those people over there are different. Once you separate yourself from others, it is a short step from that to dehumanizing them. Once you do that, you open the door to hate people and dehumanizing hate tends to lead to violence. Imagine you are god with all the normal powers claimed by religions: What would you do, to (for) the world, if you were god for a day? What wrongs would you right? What diseases would you wipe out? Whom would you help? What peoples would you bless such that they were able to turn themselves around and really prosper? Now ask yourself: why does the religionist’s claimed god(s) not DO these things? Answer: because most humans just like you are more moral and caring than god(s) that is why.
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Real Morality is referring to “ethics” we use in judging the behaviors in a social dynamic behavioral event or interaction and can only accrue in a social dynamic (social behavioral realm) as such all morality propositions removed from a social dynamic and which accrue only in a personal dynamic lack attachment to “Real Morality” referring to the social nature of “ethics.” In other words, if you are by yourself and do something only to yourself, it is neither ethical nor immorality; thus, doing a behavior that is only personal (a believed moral or otherwise) by yourself and only something to yourself, is amorality to everyone but that chosen person doing a behavior that is only personal. One can chouse to personally value some moral standard for themselves but because morals (the personal valued behaviors) as opposed to ethics (the interpersonal/socal valued behaviors; which there is business never business morals as ethics is about our social behaviors we can hold others to, whereas, morals are only something we can hold ourselves to). I hold the assumptions that to understand morality more fully we need to understand its synthesis and properties by emphasizing its relations to conceptual tools understanding motivation and behavior such as biopsychosocial model, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, kohlberg’s moral development theory and formal axiology interactions across multiple levels. Real Morality is an emergent aspect limited to a sphere of social dynamics (social) result in human progress and social evolution understood in mental processes of high cognitively developed beings (biological) with developed psychological quality of awareness (psychological) and the so-called moral facts and the values that support or motivate them is limited to the realm of possible harm psychological or physical (actual external world or experiential internal world). Pseudo Morality is seen when holy books or people “cognitively reconstruct” an inhumane idea or behavior to make it into something different from than it is, to something more moral than what it actually is. Or turn something highly immoral in to something highly moral. One way to do that is to cloak the behavior “in moral wrappings” or “in divine authority” such as god hates gays, gays are evil, thus killing gays is doing good by destroying evil. This thinking is obviously pseudo morality as gays are not evil but killing them is evil and inhumane idea or behavior thus very immoral. The god justified immorality into what is then called moral is some of the most common pseudo morality, though political leaders and others in power tend to employ it as well. They all are using “pseudo moral justifications” to describe something immoral as moral. True morality is not as simply as the golden rule…
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True morality is a valued behavior we do that interacts with others; it is not really related to what we do to ourselves. Which is why I do not agree with the so called golden rule as it is what you don’t want do to others but this fails in that its focused on ourselves which is us focused and true morality needs to be other focused on what valued behavior we do that interacts with others. I say treat others the way they should be treated. People have self-ownership, self-rights, right to dignity, freedom and equality. True morality is a valued behavior we do that interacts with others starting with the conception that people matter, they have worth and value, It is in this way they should be treated. True morality is a valued behavior we do that interacts with others it is not really related to what we do to ourselves. Which is why I do not agree with the so called golden rule (do to others as you would have them do to you) as it is what you don’t want don’t do to others but this fails in that it’s focused on ourselves which is us focused and true morality needs to be other focused on what valued behavior we do that interacts with others. I say treat others the way they should be treated. People have self-ownership, self-rights, right to dignity, freedom and equality. True morality is a valued behavior we do that interacts with others starting with the conception that people matter, they have worth and value, It is in this way they should be treated. Pseudo Morality is seen when holy books or people “cognitively reconstruct” an inhumane idea or behavior to make it into something different from than it is, to something more moral than what it actually is. Or turn something highly immoral in to something highly moral. One way to do that is to cloak the behavior “in moral wrappings” or “in divine authority” such as god hates gays, gays are evil, thus killing gays is doing good by destroying evil. This thinking is obviously pseudo morality as gays are not evil but killing them is evil and inhumane idea or behavior thus very immoral. The god justified immoral into moral is some of the most common pseudo morality though political and others in power tend to employ it as well. They all are using “pseudo moral justifications” to describe something immoral as moral.
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I was asked Damien, since you are concerned with values, would you find yourself in agreement with “treating others as you would want to be treated” as the core relational belief? My response, to me true morality is not starting with a us or me focused morality as morality is a social interaction exchange thus it must be other focused. “treating others as they should be treated” To me I see everyone as owning themselves all equal in this right as humans. Moreover, to me morality is behavioral and a social property, there is no immoral thing one can do to themselves as one cannot violate themselves or their own consent as they choose their own actions. Thus, to me all morality is about others and our interactions with them and them with us. So, morality arises in a social context with all things not that all things have the same moral weight. Therefore, moral relationships with life outside humans has a different moral weight or value. Such as killing 100 humans is not the same as killing 100 dogs, killing 100 fish, killing 100 flies, etc. Of course, the method of killing used should inflict the least amount of suffering to the animal or plant. And to not do that could make it immoral. Such as torturing them to death is immoral even if the killing was not. If one states they are a humanist and they believe in good, are they for or against a form of axiology or formal axiology? Axiology is the philosophical study of goodness, or value, in the widest sense of these terms. It may be used as the collective term for ethics and aesthetics—philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of value—or the foundation for these fields, and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics. The word “axiology” (Greek: axios = good, worth, or value; logos = “science”) means “study of good”, “study of worth ” or “study of value.” The axiologists sought to characterize the notion of value in general, of which moral value is only one species. They argue (with notable differences between them), that goodness does not exclusively derive from the will, but exists in objective hierarchies. Formal axiology, the attempt to lay out principles regarding value with mathematical rigor, is exemplified by Robert S. Hartman’s Science of Value. The fundamental principle of Hartman’s Science of Value, functions as an axiom, and can be stated in symbolic logic, is that a thing is good insofar as it exemplifies its concept. To put it another way, “a thing is good if it has all its descriptive properties.” This means, according to Hartman, that the good thing has a name, that the name has a meaning defined by a set of properties, and that the thing possesses all of the properties in the set. A thing is bad if it does not fulfill its description. If it doesn’t fulfill its definition it is terrible (awful, miserable.) A car, by definition, has brakes. A car which accelerates when the brakes are applied is an awful car, since a car by definition must have brakes. A horse, if we called it a car, would be an even worse car, with fewer of the properties of a car. The name we put on things is very important: it sets the norm for how we judge them. If one states they are a humanist, are they for or against a form of universal or realism morality? The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations can be seen as an example of global efforts to bring a universalist, equal and common moral justice to all people, and Moral Universalism is, at least in part, the basis for modern human rights, and an integral part of any Humanist philosophy.
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Human rights which are commonly considered a “deontological” concept, sometimes described as “duty-” or “obligation-” or “rule-” based ethics, because rules “bind you to your duty.” Which T. M. Scanlon advances the idea that human rights, can only be justified with reference to the consequences of having those rights. Secular morality is the aspect of philosophy that deals with morality outside of religious traditions. Modern examples include humanism, freethinking, and most versions of consequentialism. Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence. Consequentialist theories differ in how they define moral goods. Some argue that consequentialist theories are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, Robert Nozick argues for a theory that is mostly consequentialist, but incorporates inviolable “side-constraints” which restrict the sort of actions agents are permitted to do. Consequentialists can and do differ widely in terms of specifying the Good. Some consequentialists are monists about the Good. Utilitarians, for example, identify the Good with pleasure, happiness, desire satisfaction, or “welfare” in some other sense. Other consequentialists are pluralists regarding the Good. Some of such pluralists believe that how the Good is distributed among persons (or all sentient beings) is itself partly constitutive of the Good, whereas conventional utilitarians merely add or average each person’s share of the Good to achieve the Good’s maximization. Moreover, there are some consequentialists who hold that the doing or refraining from doing, of certain kinds of acts are themselves intrinsically valuable states of affairs constitutive of the Good. An example of this is the positing of rights not being violated, or duties being kept, as part of the Good to be maximized—the so-called “utilitarianism of rights”. None of these pluralist positions erase the difference between consequentialism and deontology. For the essence of consequentialism is still present in such positions: an action would be right only insofar as it maximizes these Good-making states of affairs being caused to exist. However much consequentialists differ about what the Good consists in, they all agree that the morally right choices are those that increase (either directly or indirectly) the Good.
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Moreover, consequentialists generally agree that the Good is “agent-neutral”. That is, valuable states of affairs are states of affairs that all agents have reason to achieve without regard to whether such states of affairs are achieved through the exercise of one’s own agency or not. “Consequentialism”, as described by Peter Singer, “start not with moral rules, but with goals. They assess actions by the extent to which they further those goals.” Consequentialism contains in itself no explanation for why pleasure or utility are morally good, or why consequences should matter to morality at all. Nor does consequentialism/deontology make any claims about how we know moral facts (if there are any). That is a meta-ethical question, so the question ‘how do we know that it is wrong to kill?’ is not a normative but a meta-ethical question. Some consequentialists and deontologists are also moral realists. Some are not. Moral Realism a similar position to universal morality, that certain acts are objectively right or wrong, independent of human opinion. that there exist such things as moral facts and moral values, and that these are objective and independent of our perception of them or our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes towards them. Therefore, moral judgments describe moral facts, which are as certain in their own way as mathematical facts. It is a cognitivist view in that it holds that ethical sentences express valid propositions (and are therefore “truth-apt” i.e. they are able to be true or false), and that they describe the state of the real world. Moral Realism has the advantage of purportedly allowing the ordinary rules of logic to be applied straightforwardly to moral statements, (so that we can say, for example, that a moral belief is false or unjustified or contradictory in the same way we would about a factual belief). It also allows for the resolution of moral disagreements, because if two moral beliefs contradict one another, Moral Realism (unlike some other meta-ethical systems) says that they cannot both be right and so there should be some way of resolving the situation. Two main variants of moral realism are: “Ethical Naturalism and Ethical Non-Naturalism.”

*Ethical Naturalism: holds that there are objective moral properties of which we have empirical knowledge, but that these properties are reducible to entirely non-ethical properties. It assumes cognitivism (the view that ethical sentences express propositions and can therefore be true or false), and that the meanings of these ethical sentences can be expressed as natural properties without the use of ethical terms.

*Ethical Non-Naturalism: holds that ethical statements express propositions (in that sense it is also cognitivist) that cannot be reduced to non-ethical statements (e.g. “goodness” is indefinable in that it cannot be defined in any other terms). G. E. Moore claimed that a naturalistic fallacy is committed by any attempt to prove a claim about ethics by appealing to a definition in terms of one or more natural properties (e.g. “good” cannot be defined interms of “pleasant”, “more evolved”, “desired”, etc). Ethical Intuitionism is a variant of Ethical Non-Naturalism which claims that we sometimes have intuitive awareness of moral properties or of moral truths.

Critics have argued that, while Moral Realism may be able to explain how to resolve moral conflicts, it cannot explain how these conflicts arose in the first place. Others have argued Moral Realism posits a kind of “moral fact” which is non-material and unobservable (in the way as objective material facts are observable), and therefore not accessible to the scientific method. Some philosophers who only believe in the physical world and don’t believe in anything immaterial say that they are also moral realists, but when they describes the type of morality that they believe in, often what they are talking about is the moral beliefs that people have acquired through evolution, which is called evolutionary moral realism. This includes the human instinct to care for the well being of others in one’s own group and the instinct to hold others accountable for transgressions against members of the group. A physicalist/materialist understanding of morality is therefore purely descriptive of human nature within a deterministic system. The physicalist/materialist conception of morality differs from normative moral realism, in which one believes that things ought be a certain way or that people should act in a certain way because such states of affairs or actions would be better, not purely as a function of anything physical such as the instincts people have evolved to have, but at least partially for reasons that ultimately transcend the physical world. For example, if someone believes that oppressing others is always wrong even though humans have an instinctual predisposition to favor their own group over others, and this person does not otherwise explain how this belief is descriptive of something in the physical world, then this implies that this person believes in normative morality. A similar concept to normative ethics is prescriptive ethics, which are those that are supposed to logically commit someone to act a certain way. For example, the normative statement “Murder is wrong” can be restated as “Do not murder”, which is prescriptive. This is similar to how doctors can prescribe medications for one to use.

Essentially, prescriptive moral statements are prescribed to people in order for them to act morally. Normative statements simply state the relation a certain state of affairs has to rightness or wrongness without telling anyone how to act. The distinction between descriptive and normative/prescriptive morality is important to understand. One study found that 56% of professional philosophers accept or lean towards moral realism and 28%: anti-realism. Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker has argued that the game theoretic advantages of ethical behavior support the idea that morality is “out there” in a certain sense (as part of the evolutionary fitness landscape). Journalist Robert Wright has similarly argued that natural selection moves sentient species closer to moral truth as time goes on. Writer Sam Harris has also argued that ethics could be objectively grounded in an understanding of neuroscience. He has admitted to being committed to some form of moral realism (viz. moral claims can really be true or false) and some form of consequentialism (viz. the rightness of an act depends on how it affects the well-being of conscious creatures). Being a moral anti-realist is compatible with having, and following, a moral theory: you just think you have reasons to be moral which are not based on mind-independent facts. For example, you might think convention gives you reason to be moral, where conventionalism is traditionally described as a form of non-realism. see: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-anti-realism/#ChaMorAntRea

A delineation of moral realism into a minimal form, a moderate form, and robust form has been put forward in the literature.

The robust model of moral realism commits moral realists to three theses:

The semantic thesis: The primary semantic role of moral predicates (such as “right” and “wrong”) is to refer to moral properties (such as rightness and wrongness), so that moral statements (such as “honesty is good” and “slavery is unjust”) purport to represent moral facts, and express propositions that are true or false (or approximately true, largely false, and so on).

The alethic thesis: Some moral propositions are in fact true.

The metaphysical thesis: Moral propositions are true when actions and other objects of moral assessment have the relevant moral properties (so that the relevant moral facts obtain), where these facts and properties are robust: their metaphysical status, whatever it is, is not relevantly different from that of (certain types of) ordinary non-moral facts and properties.

The minimal model, i.e. moral universalism, leaves off the metaphysical thesis, treating it as matter of contention among moral realists (as opposed to between moral realists and moral anti-realists). This dispute is not insignificant, as acceptance or rejection of the metaphysical thesis is taken by those employing the robust model as the key difference between moral realism and moral anti-realism.

Moral universalism (also called moral objectivism or universal morality) is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is, for “all similarly situated individuals”, regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or any other distinguishing feature. Not all forms of moral universalism are absolutist, nor are they necessarily value monist; many forms of universalism, such as utilitarianism, are non-absolutist, and some forms may be value pluralist.

A moral theory must be able to solve and thus to be on solid philosophical grounds:

The ontological problem: an adequate theory must account for ethics without assuming the existence of anything that does not actually exist.

The epistemological problem: if we have knowledge of right and wrong, an adequate theory must explain how we acquire such knowledge.

The experience problem: An adequate theory about ethics must account for the phenomenology of moral experience.

The supervenience problem: An adequate theory must be consistent with the supervenient character of evaluative concepts.

The motivation problem: an adequate theory must account for the internal connection between moral belief and motivation (or if there is no such connection, it must offer an alternative account of how morality guides action).

The reason problem: An adequate theory must account for the place of reason in ethics.

The disagreement problem: An adequate theory must explain the nature of ethical disagreement.

Some believers think atheists can’t be moral and try to claim that some atheist in history who acted badly is proof of this lack of atheist morals. However, claiming that one atheist who engages in bad behavior reflects somehow on all other atheists that are not connected to this bad behavior but yet are still somehow darkened by that disconnected guilt, is like saying one man who is a rapist reflects on all other men. Or a believer in the possibility of a god is responsible for everyone else of any religion’s bad behavior simply because they also hold a belief in the possibility of a god. Some believers like to bring up Stalin as what atheism would do to religion but they forget to mention he was not only acting under a political party not a atheist crusade supported by all atheists (all atheists are individuals not a group) and he did change from oppression of religion to more tolerance of religion. Joseph Stalin, whose real name was Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, was born and raised in Gori in what is now the nation of Georgia. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1953. Stalin was raised very religious in the Greek Orthodox Church. He was named after Saint Joseph and was raised to be a priest. His father was a priest and young Joseph spent five years in a Greek Orthodox seminary. But Stalin’s father beat him mercilessly, and Stalin once described his childhood as having been “raised in a poor priest-ridden household.” During his time in power, Stalin had a complex relationship with religion. He officially adopted the Russian Communist Party’s stance on religion, claiming atheism and continuing the tradition of teaching atheism in schools and propagating the idea that religion was only damaging to a perfect communist society. Stalin even took it further than his predecessor, Lenin, and initiated a nationwide campaign to destroy churches and religious property and even persecute and kill church officials. It is said that under Stalin, the Russian Orthodox Church went from 50,000 to 500 open and operating churches. But during World War II, Stalin eased up considerably on religion. He allowed for tens of thousands of Russian Orthodox churches to reopen, adopted an official policy of tolerance toward Muslims, and re-established the hierarchy of leadership in the Russian Orthodox Church. http://hollowverse.com/joseph-stalin/

By Damien Marie AtHope

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