Building a Moral Framework

Pax Christi, everybody!

Do you find it possible to construct a moral framework based off of science alone. Even if i is possible, would the motivations behind certain beliefs undermine what it is setting out to do?

Pax,
Charles

I did this myself when I was 13 years old based on the principles from psychology which I got from my parents. And I hardly think this is the only way of constructing such a framework or that this is such an unusual thing to do.

So in my case the moral framework was based on what was best for psychological health. But there are many other possibilities that work also.

  1. What is best for physical medical health.
  2. What is best for the well being of the community.
    a) with regards to social relationships
    b) with regards to a healthy economy
  3. What is best for the search for knowledge.

Many different standards lead to pretty much the same conclusions because they are all connected. The search for knowledge tends to need a healthy economy, which needs and benefits from good social relationships, which needs and benefits from good psychological and medical health.

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You mean based off of there being no meaning apart from what life avails until we cease to be. Of course there is, superior to the overwhelming amount of religious practice. It’s what the latter emerges from and arguably net contributes to.

Religion, from our genes, compromises what’s already in our genes, the first commandment, care, do no harm and the second the breaking of which breaks the first, be fair, do no injustice.

Strictly speaking the answer is No! Science is a means that helps us to create tools by which we can achieve an end or a goal. We cannot use science to determine what our goal is. That is our decision based on what we deem as good. Science does not tell us what is good. It is neutral. People as different as Hitler, Stalin, and Osama bin Laden have used science to achieve their moral ends.

Even as an atheist, I couldn’t find a way to construct a moral framework from science alone. I couldn’t find a way past the Is/Ought problem nor the naturalistic fallacy. In my experience, any functional moral framework has to take the subjective human experience into account, and there is simply no way to get there through science. At best, science can tell us what the result of our actions will be, but it can’t inform us of what actions we should take (i.e. Is/Ought problem).

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You old Humean you. Good man!

I would challenge that this model was based off science alone…even the claim that it was based on principles from your parents ignores the fact that they got those principles from somewhere. It becomes a chicken and the egg argument and in doing so, immediately one is exposed to historicist views and the influences of word and mouth legend of which Christianity is very much a part of even in secular society…just take the events of Easter and Christmas or even catholic mass. id even have to wonder how many would stumble across individuals in western countries where “mass” is an unknown ritual?

I dont believe its likely one could develop morality outside of the influences of some kind of spiritual religious realm.
Actually, I would argue that the bible says this is an impossibility…after the day of pentecost, the holy spirit speaks to all of Gods creation directly…we all have that “still small voice” inside of us

Jeremiah 31:33&34

33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Then just in case someone here decides that the above only applied to the Israelites

Hebrews 10:16-23 quotes Jeremiah chapter 33 when its writer outlines that the new covenant clearly applies to Gentile Christians as well as the Israelites/Jews…and that it [verse18&19] is talking about the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy as a result of the event of the crucifixion of Christ…

16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised:wink:

actually i just thought of another example of morality…what does it mean in Genesis ch3 when God said to the serpent (satan) “I will put emnity between thee and the women”. Surely this is some kind of innate desire to hate evil? If so, then morality actually was inside us in Genesis ch 3. Adam and Eve recognised sin for what it is immediately!

Cambridge dictionary
a feeling of hate:

She denied any personal enmity towards him.

Bitter historical enmities underlie the present violence.

SMART Vocabulary: related words and phrases

Feelings of dislike and hatred

Are not the above all associated directly with morality?

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My claim is certainly NOT that science or objectivity will give you morality. Constructing a moral framework is not a work of science. The point is that other things than religion can give you the basis for constructing such a framework, in this case what we have learned in the science of psychology. Frankly, I have to wonder if the demand for exclusivity has something to do with Stephen Weinberg’s observation: “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil - that takes religion.” The kind of exclusivity some religious argue for, enables them to use religion to make people do evil in its name.

And I don’t buy into the claim the morality requires any so called “ought.” There is only what things are good to do and what things are not good to do. The perversity of doing what is not good remains no matter how many times you chant “ought” like a magic word.

The psychology department of the university of Utah where they were psychology majors is where they learned these principles of psychology. They certainly had rejected everything from Christianity including those things which had been made rules of our society. Of course you can stubbornly insist upon magical connections to something else. But the point is that I found the needs of psychological health to be quite sufficient for me in constructing a moral framework, just as those other standards have worked well for others. It is not surprising to me, therefore, that also see moral behavior among animals. They simply learn was best for their own well being individually and as a species.

I know this to be incorrect from personal experience.

That article of faith of yours would be justification for declaring non-religious people immoral for no other reason that they don’t like religion and all the evil done in its name.

I put this down to replacing a faith in God with a faith in the premises of an argument for the existence of God (the moral argument). That would be a false God.

Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them

Paul observed that people could have law of God written on their hearts even though they had no scripture telling them such things, and acting accordingly better than those who did have the laws written for them. This is an observation which people have had many time in places all over the world.

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I have difficulty finding anything in science that can be used to derive morality. While I have great respect for the practice of psychology, it involves a lot of subjectivity that often pushes it outside the bounds of science.

I would also agree that we don’t need religion in order to derive a moral code. I would happily agree that good morals can be derived through religion, but religion certainly doesn’t hold a monopoly on morality.

You are saying that we ought to do good, correct? The very act of categorizing actions into good and not good implies that we ought to do what we consider good.

And are you denying that science can discover what is good or detrimental to physical or mental health?

Science can’t tell us that we should favor better physical health, nor can it tell us what proper mental health is since that is a subjective judgment.

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Why do you need anything to tell you to favor better physical or mental health?

Well… I guess you could say that psychology was like a religion with my parents if you want to go that far…???

If there were no morals how would you know that worsening someone’s health is bad?

Science does exactly both.

How? Science can allow us to damage a person’s health or improve a person’s health. How does science tell us which we should choose?

Huh? The issue isn’t whether we need morals but how we can construct those morals. I am arguing that the scientific discovery of what is good for physical or mental health is sufficient for morality and the so called is/ought gap is empty rhetoric.

So your question is how does that give you a conclusion that worsening the health of someone else is bad?

The answer is the application of logic to the fact of human interdependence. The worsening health of someone else would mean the loss of efficiency in a potential ally in maintaining your own health.

If we want a real moral challenge then it would be when the needs of two people come into conflict. Suppose you need a new kidney then how would it be wrong to go take someone else’s kidney? If your own physical health is the only standard then I haven’t worked our how that would be bad. Remember, I constructed my moral framework from the basis of psychological health not physical health.

Science knows more than ever that the first, preeminent, hard wired, evolved commandment is Hippocrates’; do no harm.

My point is that you need morals in order to determine what is good for physical and mental health.

You are applying subjective opinion, not logic. It is your subjective opinion that loss of efficiency is morally bad.

Is war moral? Is harming someone else in self defense moral? Also, I still don’t see how evolved is the same as moral. Do you think it is possible for humans to have an evolved psychological trait that we would deem immoral?

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Not addressed to me, but if may butt in, yes, I think we may well have evolved traits that are immoral. Perhaps the ability to rise about those traits and control them is part of what sets us apart as human, and also explains our bad behavior when we fail to do so. I would think that if such is the case, it could be accepted either from an atheist or non-atheist perspective. From a purely pragmatic viewpoint, humanity may have found it beneficial to rise above wanton killing and wasting of resources, and to find sharing and caring for one another and the environment to be beneficial to the survival of the species, whether told to do so by God or not.

Not addressed to me, but if may butt in, yes, I think we may well have evolved traits that are immoral. Perhaps the ability to rise about those traits and control them is part of what sets us apart as human, and also explains our bad behavior when we fail to do so. I would think that if such is the case, it could be accepted either from an atheist or non-atheist perspective. From a purely pragmatic viewpoint, humanity may have found it beneficial to rise above wanton killing and wasting of resources, and to find sharing and caring for one another and the environment to be beneficial to the survival of the species, whether told to do so by God or not. They would then be reversing previously evolved tendencies to do otherwise.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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