Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What is objective morality?

In surveying the landscape I've come to the conclusion that most who debate God in the blogsphere simply do not understand the concept of objective morality.  To be more specific, arguments that deny the concept of objective morality often do not reflect what objective morality actually means.  The following post is an attempt to help with understanding with regard to what objective morality means and the implications of the concept.

Objective morality in short means that there is an objective standard by which thoughts, words, actions and inactions can be measured in terms of moral worth.  That is,  these items can be categorized into "good" and "evil" objectively, such that the evaluation of these items in terms of moral worth is not subject to the relative viewpoint of the observer.

Now here we will stop for a minute and point out what we have not claimed:

  1. That objective truth is discoverable.
  2. That objective truth is discoverable easily.
  3. That the subjective state of the actor has no bearing on the evaluation of an action.
  4. Actions and the person (agent) that performs the actions are not linked.
  5. That the actions of a person determine the good or evil disposition of the person.  
All that we have stated is that there is such a thing as objective morality.  This must be kept in mind as we move to the next statement.

We will now make a new proposition. 

That in order for an action to be able to have moral weight, there must exist an objective standard.
If we consider that actions such as feeding the poor or genocide to have any "good" or "bad" qualities, we must have some objective standard to meansure them by.  If all morality is relative, that is an action or thought's moral weight is realitve to an individual's point of view, then we simply do not have any "good" or "bad" actions.  One person's "good" actions is another's "bad" action.  Thus feeding the poor is "bad" according to some who have no use for the poor.  Adolf Hitler's genocide of the Jews is neither "good" or "evil" because Hitler considered it "good" for the Jews to be eradicated.

In order to form a moral judgement of actions, there must be a way to measuse the moral weight of actions in an independent fashion.  There must be a standard.  A methodology by which actions can be measued.

The next few posts on this thread will discuss the common misconceptions regarding objective morality.  These errors are the cause of much bad argumentation and confusion.  I hope that in clarifying what is meant by objective morality much useless dialog will be avoided.

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