Staredit Network > Forums > Serious Discussion > Topic: Divine Command Theory
Divine Command Theory
Jan 1 2012, 6:41 am
By: rayNimagi
Pages: 1 2 36 >
 

Jan 1 2012, 6:41 am rayNimagi Post #1



Branching off of this and Sacrieur's further posts in the topic...

Divine command theory essentially states that an action is morally right because a higher power (commonly referred to as "God") has decided that the action in question is morally wrong. The question then becomes:
Quote from socrates
“Does God command this particular action because it is morally right, or is it morally right because God commands it?”
In other words, is an action good because it is intrinsically good? Or is it good simply because God says so?

Let's say that morality ultimately stems from God, and the righteous are rewarded in the afterlife. This is a simple case of carrot-and-stick "do as you are told, and you shall be rewarded." However, if a few years of living "morally" leads to a happy afterlife, why should we care about anything else in this life? The only things we should do are those that are affirmed to be good by God, as He decides all in the universe. It is a reason to live a moral life, and with the current moral codes prescribed by the major religions, being moral provides order and stability to the world.

But, if an action is good simply because God says so (divine command theory), then something harmful, like theft, could be declared good by God. Morality is therefore dependent on a (supposedly) omnipotent being--or more accurately, someone's interpretation of divine will. With thousands, if not, millions, of religions and sects each claiming to have a more accurate picture of God's will than the others, only faith, unproved by empirical data, can lead to moral truth. Obedience, not reason, is the key to living a righteous life, as humans are not wise enough to comprehend morality. Of course, if one is 100% confident that their moral code is both absolute and supported by the divine, there's no need to question God's will, or consider any errors in understanding the divine will.

One arguing for the divine command theory might say that, "God says theft is wrong, and most people agree that theft is wrong, so there's no point in arguing hypotheticals." That doesn't answer Socrates' question. Let's say that we were certain that we had found the perfect word of God, and it clearly stated a set of moral rules to live by--one of which states "Theft is good." We ask God, "Why is theft moral?" and He does not reply. Are we not wise enough to understand the underlying reasons? It is certainly possible. But if there are underlying reasons, divine command theory breaks, as the source of righteousness does not stem from God's whim.

In a similar situation, we ask the Creator the same question under the same circumstances, but this time He responds. He explains the reasons and humans understand. Once again, the base of morality rests in reason, not on divine whim. In both of these situations, the action (theft) is intrinsically good, and morality is independent of God. The divine command theory is therefore no better than an appeal to authority.

There is also the theory that a) God is omnibenevolent, b) goodness is independent of God and c) God is required to "pass on" righteous morals because is omnibenevolent. (To command humans to commit immoral actions would be akin to committing immoral actions himself). Even if this is the case, morality would still be independent of God, and therefore God would not be required for morality.

Some who argue against divine command theory believe that there is no absolute morality. Morality can be relative to time and place. A prehistoric hunter killing deer for food may be moral, but killing tigers for sport may not be. Attacking a serial killer that has invaded your house may be moral, but invading someone else's house with intent to commit murder may not be moral.

There is another situation: what if there is no higher power? If God does not exist, divine command theory cannot exist. If there are two options (God exists/God doesn't exist), and we know nothing else, probability states that there is a 50% chance that some higher power exists. That means, in 50% of hypothetical universes (perhaps our own) divine command theory cannot be true. Of course, that also means there is a 50% chance that God does exist, and if He is omniscient, He is watching your every immoral action.

So is divine command theory the basis for an absolute moral code? And if divine command theory is not the basis for morality, what is?



Win by luck, lose by skill.

Jan 1 2012, 7:40 am Vrael Post #2



Quote from rayNimagi
But, if an action is good simply because God says so (divine command theory), then something harmful, like theft, could be declared good by God.
I've pondered the questions of this topic before, and I've found this to be the most interesting part. How could a God declare something we know to be bad, to be good? The answer isn't simple, but I'll give a simple version of it. We each have our own sense of what's moral and what's not, that we've learned through whatever means, whether it be simple experience or divine command, that we each use as our own basis for morality. Now if God is truly all-powerful and whatnot, then if he suddenly decided to make theft moral, then because he is all powerful, he would change the nature of the entire universe. Since whatever moral bases we have built are built upon the tenants of this universe, they're invalid to apply to a different universe with different properties. It astounded me that there is no conflict in truth: if God said something was good, it would be good.

Consider temperature for analogy. You have a scale somewhere, and when you look at it you know 32 degrees is a pretty chilly day and 100 degrees is a pretty hot day. Now I come along (yes I'm God :P) and take away your scale and tell you that 32 degrees is a pretty hot day. Your basis for determining temperature (determining temperature now being analogous to determining morality) tells you that 32 is very cold, seemingly a conflict. The problem isn't that 32 is really cold (bad by analogy) still, the problem is that your basis for determining temperature is invalid because I have changed every thermometer in the world to read in degrees Celcius instead of degrees Fahrenheit. I've changed the entire nature of temperature itself, because, as the creator of temperature, I define its properties. By extension, a God who creates and defines an entire universe would likewise be able to change the morality of an action. Theft could truly be a good thing if an all-powerful God were to make it so.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Jan 1 2012, 8:44 am by Vrael.



None.

Jan 1 2012, 7:42 am Jack Post #3

>be faceless void >mfw I have no face

Divine command theory, as you put it, is the basis for morals. Morals, as in, what is good. What God says is good is good.

Let's take an example from the Bible. For the Jews, if a man stole a cow, he had to return two cows to the person he stole from. Now, if he refused to give said two cows they were presumably taken off him. Were they stolen off him? You could say that. Was it moral to take them off him? Yes. Why? Because God commands it.

Same for imprisoning or killing criminals, enslaving debtors, etc.

Let's say a game dev made a game whereby you had to wear a mask all the time. If a character took it off, the character died. In this simplistic example, it is immoral to take off the mask.

See, God (assuming we're talking about the Abrahamic God) made the entirety of creation; this includes defining what is moral and what isn't. To say morals are not defined by God is to say that there is something greater than God.

If there were another universe, theft might be moral. And because God made it moral, people wouldn't find it instinctively reprehensible. So the idea that one could consider it harmful would be laughed at by the people there, same as if someone here said feeding your neighbour is immoral.

EDIT
Vrael put my last paragraph much better.



Red classic.

"In short, their absurdities are so extreme that it is painful even to quote them."

Jan 1 2012, 8:17 am Roy Post #4

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

Quote from Vrael
It astounded me that there is no conflict in truth: if God said something was good, it would be good.
If this was the case, why is there a discrepancy on what is or is not moral on some subjects? Wouldn't it be, as your post implied, completely deterministic and unambiguous? Or are we just improperly defining a morality issue when this ambiguity occurs?

Quote from Jack
Let's say a game dev made a game whereby you had to wear a mask all the time. If a character took it off, the character died. In this simplistic example, it is immoral to take off the mask.
Is that under the principle that suicide/murder is immoral, or are you saying the act individualistically is immoral? If the latter, I'm not quite following and would very much enjoy an elaboration.

Quote from Jack
To say morals are not defined by God is to say that there is something greater than God.
That's only fair to say if we truly have no free will, thereby making all our actions predetermined. Otherwise, I could easily say morals are not defined by God because they are an invention of man, or something to that effect.

Quote from rayNimagi
Some who argue against divine command theory believe that there is no absolute morality. Morality can be relative to time and place. A prehistoric hunter killing deer for food may be moral, but killing tigers for sport may not be. Attacking a serial killer that has invaded your house may be moral, but invading someone else's house with intent to commit murder may not be moral.
What you listed here sounds more like legalities than moral issues (e.g., self-defense vs premeditated murder), and none of those situations are actually the same (deer != tiger, attacking != murdering).

Quote from rayNimagi
There is another situation: what if there is no higher power? If God does not exist, divine command theory cannot exist. If there are two options (God exists/God doesn't exist), and we know nothing else, probability states that there is a 50% chance that some higher power exists. That means, in 50% of hypothetical universes (perhaps our own) divine command theory cannot be true. Of course, that also means there is a 50% chance that God does exist, and if He is omniscient, He is watching your every immoral action.
I think a better perspective on this point is to examine what would differ in our world if, assuming one of the scenarios is true, the opposite was true instead. For example:

1) If we assume God/divine command exists, how would our morals change if it was never there? Would we have developed the same morals from our natural instincts?
2) If we assume God/divine command does not exist, how would our morals change if divine command was there? Would we no longer have ambiguity on what acts are moral or immoral?




Jan 1 2012, 8:24 am Jack Post #5

>be faceless void >mfw I have no face

Taking the mask off is immoral because the game developer has so programmed the game as to make it immoral. The analogy doesn't quite work as well as I hoped :(

I'm not quite sure what you mean by your second paragraph directed at me. Regardless of free will, God defines morality. If He doesn't, then there is something greater than Him, as He would also be governed by said morality.



Red classic.

"In short, their absurdities are so extreme that it is painful even to quote them."

Jan 1 2012, 8:30 am Roy Post #6

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

Quote from Jack
I'm not quite sure what you mean by your second paragraph directed at me. Regardless of free will, God defines morality. If He doesn't, then there is something greater than Him, as He would also be governed by said morality.
It's like saying God created Americanized English, and if he didn't, some higher power that God is governed by did. I would argue that it was purely a development of man, and God is not directly responsible nor bound to such a language, or any verbal language for that matter, as a means of communication.

Having our own definitions and consensus of morality does not mean God is governed by it.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Jan 1 2012, 8:35 am by Roy.




Jan 1 2012, 9:08 am Vrael Post #7



Quote from Roy
Quote from Vrael
It astounded me that there is no conflict in truth: if God said something was good, it would be good.
If this was the case, why is there a discrepancy on what is or is not moral on some subjects? Wouldn't it be, as your post implied, completely deterministic and unambiguous? Or are we just improperly defining a morality issue when this ambiguity occurs?
I don't think most people understand the enormity of the power of "omnipotent." There are 2 important distinctions: the power to do all that is possible, and the power to do all. If a God is omnipotent in the sense that he can do anything, then anything is possible and there is no sense in trying to attempt any sort of analysis of this sort of God, since logic and reason no longer apply. For example, such a God could make a married bachelor. An impossibility by definition, but such a God is not contrained by the limits of what is possible. I hope you see in this case there is no conflict at all between any properties, we could be simultaneously deterministic with free will, or add 1+1 and get 2 on thursdays and 5 on fridays.

If God is omnipotent in the sense that he can do all which is possible, then logic and reason have a chance at giving us some understanding of the workings of a universe ruled by such a God. If he has defined the universe according to his rules, then we can understand them and form some basis for understanding them. However, if he were to change the rules at some point, our basis for understanding them would no longer be valid. I don't know if it'll be a bit above people's heads, but the easiest way for me to understand this is to think of a basis in linear algebra. Say we have some vector space where god defines the basis vectors i,j,k. We learn the morality through his divine will or our own experience, whatever method is fine, and come up with our own basis, which may not coincide perfectly with i,j and k, but nevertheless spans the space as is required of a basis, and since it spans the space we can use it to gain an understanding of the i,j,k vectors. We'll call our set u,v,w. So if we were given some issue, a random vector in the analogy, we could break it down from our perspective of u,v,w components into its i,j,k components, and we have some understanding of the morality. Now if God were to change morality, from i,j,k into p,q,r, we have no way to relate our u,v,w basis to the p,q,r basis, since u,v,w are in terms of i,j,k, not in terms of p,q,r. The same random issue/vector from before is completely redefined in this new basis, and our (u,v,w) understanding is useless because everything in this vector universe is in terms of (p,q,r). The point here is that a decree from God, because he is omnipotent, would change the underlying nature of the universe, and a morality we have developed in some other universe won't apply at all.

When it comes to the determinism vs. morality stuff, that's not the question I'm addressing. I'm only addressing the issue of how it could possibly be that God could say something we think is bad is actually good. Normally when people hear this they say it implies God must be inconsistent in some way, or they say "God won't say something bad is good because of his benevolence" or something like that. I merely wished to present the point that if he is truly the omnipotent creator of the universe, and morality stems from God, then he can change it at will without violating any laws of logic.



None.

Jan 1 2012, 8:22 pm rayNimagi Post #8



Quote from Jack
Divine command theory, as you put it, is the basis for morals. Morals, as in, what is good. What God says is good is good.
But that leads into circular reasoning. Why is this action good? Because God says it is good. Why is God good? Because God says he is good. The sentence "God is good" becomes redundant, as it merely means that "God is what he says he is."

Quote from Roy
Quote from Vrael
It astounded me that there is no conflict in truth: if God said something was good, it would be good.
If this was the case, why is there a discrepancy on what is or is not moral on some subjects?
Because different people have different ideas of what God says is moral and immoral. The problem is determining who truly is repeating the exact word of God, or whether anyone has spoken, is speaking, or will speak the exact word of God. When you use divine command theory, you might assume that you have determined the exact commands of the divine. In reality, it is difficult, most likely impossible, to truly determine the exact commands of God without using circular logic.

Quote from Jack
To say morals are not defined by God is to say that there is something greater than God.
Why can't there be something greater than God? Perhaps, in a universe, even God is bound by natural laws (Vrael's example of an omnipotent God that can only do what is logically possible). Maybe there is a never-ending chain of Gods governing each other.
Quote from Roy
["If morals are not defined by God, there is something greater than God" is] only fair to say if we truly have no free will, thereby making all our actions predetermined. Otherwise, I could easily say morals are not defined by God because they are an invention of man, or something to that effect.
As stated in my Free Will Topic, we might say that we have no free will because the universe's natural laws govern everything (whether God exists or not). With sufficient data, anything can predicted if the rules are known. This means every actions (moral or immoral) can be thought of as predetermined when the universe was created. Under this mentality, we have no free will, thus it could fair to say this.

Quote from Roy
Quote from rayNimagi
Some who argue against divine command theory believe that there is no absolute morality. Morality can be relative to time and place. A prehistoric hunter killing deer for food may be moral, but killing tigers for sport may not be. Attacking a serial killer that has invaded your house may be moral, but invading someone else's house with intent to commit murder may not be moral.
What you listed here sounds more like legalities than moral issues (e.g., self-defense vs premeditated murder), and none of those situations are actually the same (deer != tiger, attacking != murdering).
Replace "attacking" with "murdering" then--I was thinking of the commandment "Thou shalt not kill." Does that mean "Do not kill any living thing"? Does it mean "Do not kill anything unless you must kill to survive?" Does it mean "Do not kill humans without proper reason?" In these situations, Fred may think it is good to kill the deer and the tiger, but it is wrong to kill the serial killer or the homeowner. Jane may think that it is good to kill the deer, wrong to kill the tiger, good to kill the serial killer, and wrong to kill the homeowner. One who does not believe in absolute morality would say that killing under different circumstances would result in a different moral label attached to the action.

Quote from Roy
1) If we assume God/divine command exists, how would our morals change if it was never there? Would we have developed the same morals from our natural instincts?
2) If we assume God/divine command does not exist, how would our morals change if divine command was there? Would we no longer have ambiguity on what acts are moral or immoral?
Looking from an objective scientific/historical perspective, people would evolve morals on their own, even without divine interference. We can see that societies all over the world, whether they're primitive or industrialized, share a few basic thoughts on morality. Killing humans, in at least some situations, is almost always wrong. Theft is almost always wrong. Rape and torture are almost always wrong. Our subconsciousnesses have thought that these actions harm society in some way, so we must discourage our fellow citizens to not commit these immoral actions. There are the more specific moral actions (e.g. Muslims think it is wrong to consume alcohol, Hindus think it is wrong to eat beef) that can been traced back to logical reasons. Alcohol abuse has negative consequences, a cow can feed more people with its milk over the course of several years than it can with a single day's steak.

Here's more questions:
What if God was neither omnibenevolent or omnipotent? Would his morals be any less "correct" (for lack of a better word) than if he was omnibenevolent and omnipotent?
What if God has told humans "incorrect" morals to test their inherent morality?

Post has been edited 2 time(s), last time on Jan 1 2012, 8:47 pm by rayNimagi.



Win by luck, lose by skill.

Jan 1 2012, 8:58 pm Jack Post #9

>be faceless void >mfw I have no face

Your idea of God is...small. God defines morality. If He says theft is good, it is good. People wouldn't even question it; the idea that it is bad would probably not even cross their minds, because in such a universe that God defines theft as good, it IS GOOD. Because God defines the rules, as it were. God made the entire universe, humans, society, morals, etc. To say "oh I think theft is bad" when God has said it's good is to thumb your nose at the game developer and say "I'm going to take this mask off, and nothing will happen!" And then you take the mask off and die.

And if God says He is good, then He is. I don't know how I can explain this in a clearer way; God defines everything in this universe about what is good and what is bad.

There can't be anything greater than God in this universe because a) omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and b) He created the universe, and is greater than the universe.

As for the idea of humans independently evolving morals, I would argue that God gave men an instinctual knowledge of morals, at a basic level. This is why there is a universal idea of what is good and bad. However, it is also clear that as a society is further away from being Christian, its upholding of ingrained morals degenerates. Consciences become weaker, to put it simply.

In addition, the Maori culture of New Zealand, pre-European discovery and pre-missionaries, was something most people would consider extremely immoral. If you invited your neighbouring tribe to a meal and slaughtered them, that gained you "mana". If you didn't slaughter them, that also gave you mana. It was standard practice to go around each summer slaughtering each other, enslaving survivors, eating the dead, and so on. Most people would consider this immoral, and indeed it is, but they had degenerated so far as to no longer caring what their ingrained morals told them, and instead were devoted to the life long pursuit of mana. And guess what? A 40 year old man was an old man, the Maoris were dying out because they couldn't reproduce as fast as they killed each other, and they all lived lives of fear. Then the missionaries came, and thousands of Maori were converted to Christianity and became moral people. They started living longer, and the Maori population today is larger by far than it ever has been. They live longer, are better educated, live better lives, and all because they returned to a way of moral living.



Red classic.

"In short, their absurdities are so extreme that it is painful even to quote them."

Jan 1 2012, 9:18 pm BiOAtK Post #10



Quote from Jack
As for the idea of humans independently evolving morals, I would argue that God gave men an instinctual knowledge of morals, at a basic level. This is why there is a universal idea of what is good and bad. However, it is also clear that as a society is further away from being Christian, its upholding of ingrained morals degenerates. Consciences become weaker, to put it simply.
Sources for both these things? I would consider Buddhists to be the most moral of people, and yet they're obviously fairly far away from Christianity. In addition, I don't think you can really judge morality as Christian morals being absolutely the best. I really think you should read the Skeptic's Annotated Bible.

For the record, I'm a Christian, but as with all human constructions, it is inherently flawed.



None.

Jan 1 2012, 9:37 pm Jack Post #11

>be faceless void >mfw I have no face

Quote
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Isaiah 30:20-21
Conscience of a godly man.

Quote
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 10:23
Lack of moral perfection in man, and God's glory being the thing to attain to.

Quote
“ There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”[b] 13 “ Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;[c] “ The poison of asps is under their lips”; [d] 14 “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”[e] 15 “ Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known.”[f] 18 “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[g]
Romans 3:10-18
Those who are not Christian are not righteous, don't seek after God, they don't do good, etc.

And Buddhist's aren't generally good people. E.g. Militant buddhists in Burma, where it is illegal to be of a religion other than Buddhism, and where you will be killed if you try to set up a church or a mosque.

And I find it highly unlikely that you are a Christian if you do not believe that the Bible is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Christianity is not a human construct.

And I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking at at that link.



Red classic.

"In short, their absurdities are so extreme that it is painful even to quote them."

Jan 1 2012, 9:44 pm Lanthanide Post #12



Quote from Jack
They started living longer, and the Maori population today is larger by far than it ever has been. They live longer, are better educated, live better lives, and all because they returned to a way of moral living.
Yep, that had nothing to do with increasing technology or food harvests. It's all because they're more moral.

Quote from Jack
However, it is also clear that as a society is further away from being Christian, its upholding of ingrained morals degenerates. Consciences become weaker, to put it simply.
Would you say that society in general is becoming more moral, or less moral? Given the rise of the acceptance of homosexuality in the last 25 years, which is clearly an immoral practice and the general decline of church attendance and increase in atheism, I should think we could largely say that society is becoming less moral. And yet people are living longer. How come when the Maori become 'more moral', they start living longer, and when modern society becomes 'less moral', we live longer too?



None.

Jan 1 2012, 9:49 pm Jack Post #13

>be faceless void >mfw I have no face

They weren't as busy killing each other and dying, which meant they were able to do things such as farming and making monies and such. I'd say the moral improvement of not killing everyone they could get that was from a different tribe counts as moral improvement :P

And while current Western society appears to be on a moralistic downhill slope, we live longer not from moral improvements but from medicial improvements, plus the world is more peaceful than Maori culture was. I don't equate improved morals with living longer always, although in the Maori case they did.



Red classic.

"In short, their absurdities are so extreme that it is painful even to quote them."

Jan 1 2012, 10:02 pm Lanthanide Post #14



Quote from Jack
They weren't as busy killing each other and dying, which meant they were able to do things such as farming and making monies and such. I'd say the moral improvement of not killing everyone they could get that was from a different tribe counts as moral improvement :P

And while current Western society appears to be on a moralistic downhill slope, we live longer not from moral improvements but from medicial improvements, plus the world is more peaceful than Maori culture was. I don't equate improved morals with living longer always, although in the Maori case they did.
Actually what led to the improvements for maoris is (what we call) civilization, of which a more strict moral code is an aspect. You can be the most moral little group of hunter gatherers ever, but unless you have a system of education and writing (for example), you won't be able to radically improve your quality of life and longevity as happened with the maori.



None.

Jan 1 2012, 10:05 pm Jack Post #15

>be faceless void >mfw I have no face

But if you are moral, then people will live longer a they won't be killing each other. People will be more wealthy because they won't have people stealing their stuff. People won't starve because people will care for each other more. And once you have that combination, there is room for technology and "civilization" to come about. Civilization is really people being more civilized, or moral.



Red classic.

"In short, their absurdities are so extreme that it is painful even to quote them."

Jan 1 2012, 10:12 pm Lanthanide Post #16



Morality is a requirement of civilization, but the presence of a moral code does not guarantee civilization will emerge.

I'll also point out that in small tribes or towns where everyone knows each other, there is much less crime or 'immoral behaviour', because the consequences of such mean punishment or exclusion to the town, often to the individuals detriment: the short term gain of stealing someone else's property doesn't match up with the medium-long term punishment. I'm sure that the maoris had their own moral codes within each tribe, it was the inter-tribal warfare that you find morally repugnant. But just imagine if there weren't any other tribes to go to war with: the isolated tribe would still be just as moral as they were, but not guaranteed to progress any further in terms of civilization.



None.

Jan 1 2012, 10:32 pm BiOAtK Post #17



Bible quotes are not valid sources. I want historical evidence that Christian cultures are more "moral' (less violent, less crime, etc) than non-Christian cultures.
And Militant Buddhism is inherently a paradox. There are no militant Buddhists, there are militants who call themselves Buddhists incorrectly.



None.

Jan 1 2012, 10:36 pm Lanthanide Post #18



Quote from BiOAtK
Bible quotes are not valid sources. I want historical evidence that Christian cultures are more "moral' (less violent, less crime, etc) than non-Christian cultures.
The 'morality' of any culture changes over time, too. For example, the crusades were not a particularly high point in christian moral history.

Jack's reply is likely to be to say that they weren't "true christians" because they aren't the same as his kooky little sect that understands the bible because it's so "easy" to understand.



None.

Jan 1 2012, 10:39 pm Biophysicist Post #19



EDIT: Holy swarm of ninja, Batman! This is much more in response to the OP than to the specific issues brought up more recently.

Note: While proofreading this, I noticed that I had used a few Latin phrases, namely "ipso facto" and "qua", simply out of habit. "Ipso facto" means "by the fact itself", as you may know; "qua" is pretty much like "as", but also indicates that you are only dealing with that aspect of something. ("This textbook, qua textbook, is horrible, but qua projectile is quite effective.")

An important thing to consider when dealing with this kind of question is natural law theory, which states that everything has an innate nature which it must accord with. Using a razor to cut down a tree, for example, would be stupid, because it goes against the nature of the razor. Likewise, putting the engine for a Toyota Prius into a tractor-trailer would go against the nature of the Prius engine. In both cases, whoever designed the object in question had a plan for how it would be used. This plan is, to invoke philosophical jargon, the object's "form", which is mostly equivalent to its nature.

Now, some argue that this cannot apply to people, as people are not created objects in any common usage of that term. However, if it does not, then several issues are raised. The main one is that, if people do not have such a nature, then ipso facto it would not be possible to contradict a person's nature. That would imply that there is nothing wrong with, for example, murder, stealing, jaywalking, or slavery. Stating that there is assumes that people have an intrinsic nature, and that it is in some way different than the natures of other things. As an example, consider a rock. Qua rock, there is nothing in its nature besides being a rock. If one were to smash this rock with a sledgehammer, there would be nothing inherently wrong with that. However, doing the same to a person would be (unless in self-defence, which does complicate things). In both cases, the action, striking something with a sledgehammer, is objectively the same. The difference is in the recipient of the action, which is rock in the first case and a person in the second. This implies that there is something different between rocks and people, which is the difference in their natures. (Of course, the specific circumstances of an action can complicate things. Doing something in self-defence is one example that has already been mentioned. I do not deny this, but it is not essential to the argument. I can attend to it if asked, but will not otherwise for that reason.)

The argument until here has been to show that things do, for some reason, have natures, but it has not attempted to explain where a thing's nature comes from. Indeed, I will not try to do so in this post. Additionally, it has attempted to show that a thing is damaged by contradicting its nature. With purely material things, such as the previously mentioned razor and Prius engine, this is obvious and simple. With people, this can be true either materially - cutting a person's arm off - or immaterially - stealing from them, which does not directly physically hurt the person but still causes damage - and indeed both often happen together - stealing from a person to an extent that prevents that person from being able to afford medical care (though admittedly this particular example does not necessarily work in developed countries).

Now, let us assume that there is a person who agrees with this position, and also believes in some omniscient and omnibenevolent intelligence who created everything (though not necessarily the Judeo-Christian God). It would follow that this intelligence created humanity, and therefore gave them their natures qua people. As has been shown, contradicting the nature of something is destructive to that thing. Therefore, if such a Creator exists, contradicting the nature He gave us is harmful to everyone involved, and, if He loves us, to Him as well. As an analogy, if a man loves his wife, harming the wife harms the man.

Now, there are some specific objections one might raise to this point. The first is so-called "victimless crimes" dealing with sexuality, such as homosexual acts (though not homosexuality itself - there is a difference between having homosexual urges ("being gay") and actually engaging in homosexual sex), or premarital sex. These are denounced to various degrees by some churches, especially more traditional ones. These are often viewed as petty or even contradictory. A man might say, "I love my girlfriend, and I'm going to have sex with her because it's an expression of that love". (I would, by the way, agree that sex, in the correct context, is actually an expression of love.) However, if one believes that a Creator has declared these immoral, and agrees with natural law as defined earlier, then it follows that these acts are against the nature of people, and therefore somehow harmful. Other people will bring up drug use, which some faiths do say is immoral, and say that it can't be because it doesn't hurt anyone. A similar argument can be used here. Now, people may ask how homosexual acts, premarital sex, or drug use hurts anyone, and that requires a different sort of argument.

EDIT: @above: Btw, Jack's "kooky little sect" is Calvinism. It is more detailed and complex than it might initially appear (which can be said of most).



None.

Jan 1 2012, 10:58 pm Vrael Post #20



Quote from Biophysicist
If one were to smash this rock with a sledgehammer, there would be nothing inherently wrong with that. However, doing the same to a person would be
Why is it wrong to do it to a person? Why isn't it then also wrong to do it to a rock? The pronouncement of special properties to people seems arbitrary and ill-defined to me. Certainly the modern morals we all generally share tell us that hitting someone with a sledgehammer will cause them harm and therefore is bad, but if we're talking only about the inherent nature of objects as you suggest, it seems you have made a huge leap from the natural world to applying a morality that you have not shown us how to achieve or arrive at.



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[07:24 am]
Kolokol -- LOTC was still 2 years ahead
[07:24 am]
Kolokol -- Halo: Fall of Reach came out in 2001
[07:24 am]
Kolokol -- Legacy of the Confederation was made in 1999
[05:00 am]
KrayZee -- Leap of Faith Day 2020
[08:03 pm]
Moose -- Doc Halsey probs in Halo books well before Reach came out
[03:57 pm]
lil-Inferno -- probs just coincidence tbh
[2020-2-27. : 5:45 am]
Kolokol -- Okay, are both of these games referencing something else here? If so, what are they both referencing?
[2020-2-27. : 5:45 am]
Kolokol -- So I am looking at the custom campaign "Legacy of the Confederation". One of the missions has references such as "Doctor Halsey" and "Noble", but the campaign was made almost 10 years before Halo Reach.
[2020-2-27. : 2:55 am]
Dem0n -- ya
[2020-2-27. : 2:45 am]
Wing Zero -- Ah damn it Demon
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