Developing a moral code

Something that has been gnawing at me is how subjective morality and human rights are. As a child I found such things to be self evident because I came from a religious background and as such didn’t have to question the whole “be good and get to heaven”. Thought now that am older and that doesn’t hold much sway anymore it makes me wonder why everyone follows the code we put forth. Why is it the right thing? According to whom? Why should we pay their ideas any mind? Why not do as we wish and damn who says otherwise? I get it that it’s to avoid the punishment from society but why does society have to follow their own code? Couldn’t they make up one that enourcages discrimination and get away with it? What makes it wrong? Why care about others and the future of humanity? Who deemed that important?
Does morality essentially boil down to someone’s “say so”? Because it seems to me without a threat of cosmic punishment, our morality doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on.

Like you, I have been thinking much about morality lately. There are many moralities, but I wonder if a single “correct” morality might be constructed.
I think three authors are on the right track: Sam Harris in his book The Moral Landscape and Robert Johnson in his book Rational Morality. If you haven’t read them, you might want to check them out. Also, Matt Dillahunty has a nice overview of morality at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAQFYgyEACI
I am mostly in agreement with these three authors.
I think the road to a “correct” morality should start with what all persons value – survival, well being, and advancement. We can then “try out” different moral rules to see what impact their implementation would have on securing and maintaining the three basic values. This approach makes me an advocate of consequentialism.
So, what do you think the foundation of morality should be?

Welcome Gary. Hope you have patience. You have selected two of our biggest trolls to respond to. Tita is a master at starting out with a decent philosophical question, then going absolutely nowhere. He uses question marks a lot, but to him, every question is rhetorical. I’ve approached his queries from every angle, made some of my most impassioned speeches to him, and he continues to say, “but I just don’t see any other way of looking at this.” Sometimes he finds someone else on the internet who agrees with him and calls that evidence. I like adding to the “Life is a curse” thread because it has become a list of things about life having meaning, how to find it, how to deal with existential angst, etc.
So, have fun.

Welcome Gary. Hope you have patience. You have selected two of our biggest trolls to respond to. Tita is a master at starting out with a decent philosophical question, then going absolutely nowhere. He uses question marks a lot, but to him, every question is rhetorical. I've approached his queries from every angle, made some of my most impassioned speeches to him, and he continues to say, "but I just don't see any other way of looking at this." Sometimes he finds someone else on the internet who agrees with him and calls that evidence. I like adding to the "Life is a curse" thread because it has become a list of things about life having meaning, how to find it, how to deal with existential angst, etc. So, have fun.
Their responses aren't sufficient so I would listen to them. Especially this one, the responses don't help in the slightest to someone who fully understands the issue
Like you, I have been thinking much about morality lately. There are many moralities, but I wonder if a single "correct" morality might be constructed. I think three authors are on the right track: Sam Harris in his book The Moral Landscape and Robert Johnson in his book Rational Morality. If you haven't read them, you might want to check them out. Also, Matt Dillahunty has a nice overview of morality at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAQFYgyEACI I am mostly in agreement with these three authors. I think the road to a "correct" morality should start with what all persons value -- survival, well being, and advancement. We can then "try out" different moral rules to see what impact their implementation would have on securing and maintaining the three basic values. This approach makes me an advocate of consequentialism. So, what do you think the foundation of morality should be?
But then wouldn't the question then be why should we value survival, well being and all that? What makes that more moral then simply extinguishing humanity? My biggest worry is that if morality isn't concrete then there wouldn't be any way to persuade someone who wants to kill you from doing so, since there is no sufficient reason as to why they shouldn't do so. I know that such a case isn't common, and I try to avoid violence at all costs, but in such a situation it makes me wonder that "morality" needs a method of enforcement to be worth anything. Otherwise it's just words.
Something that has been gnawing at me is how subjective morality and human rights are. As a child I found such things to be self evident because I came from a religious background and as such didn't have to question the whole "be good and get to heaven". Thought now that am older and that doesn't hold much sway anymore it makes me wonder why everyone follows the code we put forth. Why is it the right thing? According to whom? Why should we pay their ideas any mind? Why not do as we wish and damn who says otherwise? I get it that it's to avoid the punishment from society but why does society have to follow their own code? Couldn't they make up one that enourcages discrimination and get away with it? What makes it wrong? Why care about others and the future of humanity? Who deemed that important? Does morality essentially boil down to someone's "say so"? Because it seems to me without a threat of cosmic punishment, our morality doesn't have much of a leg to stand on.
Morality is part of the survival instinct. If you want to live as long and as well as possible and have your loved ones live as long and as well as possible, develop a moral code that organizes society to help each other survive. But I don't think it's a conscious decision to do this. It's survival instinct. Lois

Read this thread] that CC started in the Humanism forum. The talk and the linked article give some good information on how and why humans developed morals codes. Having widely agreed upon morals and values helps us survive. Whining about life having no meaning does not help us survive. Fortunately, nihilists rarely find girlfriends so don’t reproduce often. (That’s a joke.)
That’s a joke, son]

Read this thread] that CC started in the Humanism forum. The talk and the linked article give some good information on how and why humans developed morals codes. Having widely agreed upon morals and values helps us survive. Whining about life having no meaning does not help us survive. Fortunately, nihilists rarely find girlfriends so don't reproduce often. (That's a joke.) That's a joke, son]
Hmmm, makes sense.
Their responses aren't sufficient so I would listen to them. Especially this one, the responses don't help in the slightest to someone who fully understands the issue
That's funny coming from the man who ignores most responses he gets. Oh yeah, they don't achieve his high philosophical/intellectual bar. Exccuuse us. ;-P

More like not going under his low bar.

Congratulations to CC for finding something that didn’t elicit a negative response from our favorite nihilist

Congratulations to CC for finding something that didn't elicit a negative response from our favorite nihilist
I'm not a nihlisht but I find it hard to argue against them.

Reply to Titanomachina
TM: But then wouldn’t the question then be why should we value survival, well being and all that? What makes that more moral then simply extinguishing humanity?
GW: Notice that I did not say we should value those three things. I said that we DO value those three things. That seems to be a good starting point for developing a morality – a set of rules for governing the interactions of persons. Do you have an alternative starting point which you think is better? If so, please present, explain, and justify it.
TM: My biggest worry is that if morality isn’t concrete then there wouldn’t be any way to persuade someone who wants to kill you from doing so, since there is no sufficient reason as to why they shouldn’t do so. I know that such a case isn’t common, and I try to avoid violence at all costs, but in such a situation it makes me wonder that “morality” needs a method of enforcement to be worth anything. Otherwise it’s just words.
GW: Morality can be made concrete by writing it down and distributing it. Morality has a method of enforcement – criticism, disapproval, shaming, and ostracism by the community. But you seem to want more than that. Yes, some moral rules should be made into laws, and a great many of them are. But we should do our best to make sure our moral rules are correct.
GW: Suppose we wish to develop a correct morality. Please give your answers to these questions:

  1. Who should decide the morality?
  2. By what method should that person or persons decide the morality?
  3. What should be the starting point of the morality?
  4. What basic characteristics should the morality have?

Response to Loist
L: Morality is part of the survival instinct. If you want to live as long and as well as possible and have your loved ones live as long and as well as possible, develop a moral code that organizes society to help each other survive. But I don’t think it’s a conscious decision to do this. It’s survival instinct.
GW: I agree with you halfway. We seem to have some moral instincts, but they do not constitute a morality. Our instincts can lead us astray. If we “develop a moral code," as you say, then it is a conscious decision to do this. Morality is not instinct although it will draw on instinct. I think we should use reason to develop a viable morality.

Reply to Titanomachina TM: But then wouldn't the question then be why should we value survival, well being and all that? What makes that more moral then simply extinguishing humanity? GW: Notice that I did not say we should value those three things. I said that we DO value those three things. That seems to be a good starting point for developing a morality – a set of rules for governing the interactions of persons. Do you have an alternative starting point which you think is better? If so, please present, explain, and justify it. TM: My biggest worry is that if morality isn't concrete then there wouldn't be any way to persuade someone who wants to kill you from doing so, since there is no sufficient reason as to why they shouldn't do so. I know that such a case isn't common, and I try to avoid violence at all costs, but in such a situation it makes me wonder that "morality" needs a method of enforcement to be worth anything. Otherwise it's just words. GW: Morality can be made concrete by writing it down and distributing it. Morality has a method of enforcement – criticism, disapproval, shaming, and ostracism by the community. But you seem to want more than that. Yes, some moral rules should be made into laws, and a great many of them are. But we should do our best to make sure our moral rules are correct. GW: Suppose we wish to develop a correct morality. Please give your answers to these questions: 1. Who should decide the morality? 2. By what method should that person or persons decide the morality? 3. What should be the starting point of the morality? 4. What basic characteristics should the morality have?
The punishments you describe actually embolden those who break the code. Also writing it down doesn't make it concrete, it's just ink on paper.

Reply to Titanomachina
T: The punishments you describe actually embolden those who break the code.
GW: No, punishments lower the probability of violations. Also, you are the one who called for enforcement. What do you suggest as an alternative to punishments?
T: Also writing it down doesn’t make it concrete, it’s just ink on paper.
GW: No, writing it down does make it concrete (tangible). Also, you are the one who called for concrete. What do you suggest as an alternative?
GW: I asked you four questions about morality and you didn’t answer them. Are you going to just ask questions, or are you going to make this a true discussion and answer some?

I don’t know who should decide morality. What makes one more qualified to pass moral judgments over someone else? What makes their judgment right over any other individual?
The only way I can truly see a mora code working is to create real punishment for transgressing it. Perhaps threatening the survival of those who disobey. Might seems to make right here. Hard to argue against the guy with the biggest stick.
Morality has no starting point, it’s just a list of things people believe ought to be important but when pressed we can’t define why they are important or why we should follow them.
The fourth question is moot.

Response to Loist L: Morality is part of the survival instinct. If you want to live as long and as well as possible and have your loved ones live as long and as well as possible, develop a moral code that organizes society to help each other survive. But I don't think it's a conscious decision to do this. It's survival instinct. GW: I agree with you halfway. We seem to have some moral instincts, but they do not constitute a morality. Our instincts can lead us astray. If we “develop a moral code," as you say, then it is a conscious decision to do this. Morality is not instinct although it will draw on instinct. I think we should use reason to develop a viable morality.
You can call morality a conscious decision.I disagree. All human actions and thoughts are derivative. Anything anyone might call morality is a product of the society one lives in.
Hard to argue against the guy with the biggest stick.
? We kinda have the biggest stick. They are called nuclear weapons. The only time they were used was the few months when only one nation had them. Using them now posses two moral dilemmas. 1) They are most effective when used to knock out a major city, so you are dropping any pretense of avoiding civilian deaths. 2) You are guaranteeing the sacrifice of equal or even more civilian deaths on your side. These have always been the moral dilemmas of fighting of any kind, we've just made it to the point where we've frightened ourselves into dealing with the real issue.
Hard to argue against the guy with the biggest stick.
? We kinda have the biggest stick. They are called nuclear weapons. The only time they were used was the few months when only one nation had them. Using them now posses two moral dilemmas. 1) They are most effective when used to knock out a major city, so you are dropping any pretense of avoiding civilian deaths. 2) You are guaranteeing the sacrifice of equal or even more civilian deaths on your side. These have always been the moral dilemmas of fighting of any kind, we've just made it to the point where we've frightened ourselves into dealing with the real issue. But don't other countries also possess such sticks in that if we used ours we would face damage in turn?