Challenge Response: How Do I Prove Objective Morality?

Posted: February 16, 2012 by Brett Kunkle in Do the Right Thing, Weekly Challenge

How do you make a case for objective moral truth?  My answer to this week’s challenge:

Comments
  1. Sam Harper says:

    Speaking of J. Budziszewski, this article is really good on this subject: “The Revenge of Conscience” http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/12/001-the-revenge-of-conscience-38

  2. Sam Harper says:

    Thanks for the shout outprops … recognition!

  3. Rob says:

    What about the argument that morality comes from evolution? I was talking to an atheist the other day and he asked why I believe in God. I said I believe that if objective morality doesn’t exist, then God does not exist, and that I do think objective moral values exists, therefore I think God exists. He asked what objective morality was and I said I believe it’s always wrong everywhere and anywhere to torture kids for fun. Of course he agreed, but claimed that perhaps moral intuition is a result of evolution. We thrive as a species if we cooperate with eachother by not infringing on individual rights. The differences in moral values among cultures may very well be evolution working itself out. He then cited examples about how morality exists in animal species, such as elephants that build graveyards for their deceased family members. Evolution, he claimed, provides a reasonable explanation and we therefore don’t know for sure whether God exists. I’m going to see my friend again and I’m sure we’ll have this conversation. I’d love to hear you touch on this issue, and offer up some tactical ways to continue this discussion.

    • What he has described isn’t morality. It’s consequentialism . What he’s saying is, “If we want to maximize human flourishing, we ought to behave in a moral way.” His conclusion follows from his premise. However, notice he has assumed that maximizing human flourishing is a morally good end.

      The example I always use to combat this is, “If we want to exterminate the Jews, we ought to behave as the Nazis did.” Just as before, the conclusion follows logically from the premise. However, this is ludicrous because the premise I have started with is not morally good.

      An atheist can’t use consequentialism to argue for objective morality because they have already assumed the moral goodness of maximizing human flourishing. Naturalism can’t tell us that maximizing human flourishing is morally good, it can only describe that that is what most people want. However, as William Lane Craig said in his debate with Sam Harris, a person who deviates from the mainstream belief of behaving in a moral way, he has committed no greater crime than to have acted unfashionably.

      True, he may be punished by the government, but if that is the only thing that makes the action wrong, morality is nothing but an extension of raw power, accountable to no one.

      • Spencer:

        I certainly wouldn’t use consequentialism to argue for objective morality because I see no evidence that objective morality exists.

        If you’re saying that moral instinct isn’t morality, whatever. Quibbling over definitions isn’t especially productive. I would argue that the natural explanation of morality is sufficient–we have moral instincts that are roughly identical because we’re all the same species.

        Said another way, when we consider human morality, we don’t see universal moral truth but rather universal moral instinct.

  4. Notice that you defined objective moral values as something that’s right or wrong independent of human opinion. This isn’t the case if morality comes from the evolutionary process. What’s right or wrong is what we decide it is, but we could decide differently. Also, there’s no “to do-ness” or obligation to moral acts in this view. OK, helping people causes human flourishing and helps the species survive, but what if you decide that you don’t care about that and want to kill someone? What obligates you to choose the other option?

  5. Cleeve says:

    Why is your baby’s napping spot beside an accessible electrical outlet?

  6. Cleeve says:

    Kyle, doesn’t that scenario mirror reality? Society in general supports objective morality but there will always be individuals who choose not to follow a moral code. If anything, that argument supports the idea that an objective morality is instinct.

  7. I’m saying that that’s what follows if our moral sense just comes from evolution and the struggle for existence. Morality wouldn’t be “objective” in that it is true whether humans think so or not. Now, I’m taking good to be “What you ought to do” and evil to be “What you ought not do.” This “oughtness” to moral actions is hard to explain on he view Rob just mentioned.

  8. Cleeve says:

    But that’s exactly what happens on earth, people decide to do differently than our objective moral code dictates. There’s no proof of where morality comes from, whether it’s written on our hearts by god or its a genetic imperative.

    I’m not arguing the existence of an objective moral code, I’m simply saying that god is not the only explanation for such a code.

  9. Ryan says:

    Morality obviously cannot be objective without an absolute source of truth; I accept that argument.

    It’s impossible to prove morality isn’t subjective, you’d be affirming a negative. Yet, nobody has ever affirmed objective morality either. There is no one religion that has a “God Stamp of Approval” which says it is right. There seems to be no religion that says “everyone who’s lived a good life will be rewarded” either. In fact, the only thing we can observe for proof on reality is literally what we can observe – nature, society, history.

    I’m willing to say all morality is subjective; and it’s hardly a threat or something hard to grasp, because if it holds true, everything humanity has accomplished up to now has been done with each person having their own individually subjective morality. In fact, the arguments lacking support are the arguments that say morality is objective at all, because nobody has ever proven morality can exist as anything but a mental concept.

    Morality at all seems to be as much as a human made concept as any political or philosophical theory.

    • Aaron says:

      Ryan, is this summary of your comments accurate?
      1. Morality exists only if an absolute source of truth exists (i.e. God)
      2. Morality cannot be scientifically proven.
      3. Therefore morality is not objective and absolute truth (God) do not exist.

      Please correct any assumptions I’ve made.

  10. Cleeve says:

    It all seems like little more than a mental exercise when you break it down, unfortunately. Morality is defined as “conformity to the rules of right conduct”, which presupposes that there’s an objective ‘right’ in the first place.

    Do you define morality as thinking it’s wrong to torture babies? Anyone but the mentally insane would dislike that. But general agreement about a single example doesn’t prove an abstract construct more than, say, general disagreement about an example would disprove it

    i.e. if someone tortures a million babies, what’s the right thing to do? Should we just turn the other cheek and let them hurt more babies? Should we torture them until they die? Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle?

    The point is, If we all shared a truly objective morality, we would all automatically know the same answer without debate. That would be the only true ‘proof’ of an abstract idea such as morality.

    • Aaron says:

      Even if only one example existed I believe that would be enough to prove the point. But we all know more than one example. Stealing, cheating, lying, murder, rape, incest…all are examples people inherently know are wrong.

      Killing/torturing babies is more than an “abstract construct” since it has happened in recent history (Nazi concentration camps or “ethnic cleansing”. All except the mentally insane would agree these examples are completely wrong.

  11. Cleeve says:

    That’s oversimplifying it.

    By that logic, it’s eqaully valid to say that a single example of a moral standard we disagree on disproves the point.

    • Aaron says:

      But it is that simple.

      If it’s not true, we should let every inmate go. Who are we to stop them from murder or armed robbery?

      The logical end to your argument is choice. I could choose to believe taking your wallet is right for me. You may disagree with me, but that doesn’t matter because it comes down to my individual preference.

  12. Cleeve says:

    You’re saying that if we can’t agree on a 100% objective verifiable moral standard that we should abandon common sense. That’s not even an argument. You’re stretching.

    The logical end to my argument is that morality is only objective if humans are incapable of making *all* moral decisions exactly the same way. If two people can look at the same moral decision and honestly come up with a different moral conclusion then your argument falls to pieces.

  13. Aaron says:

    I’m actually arguing that objective moral standards exist whether anyone agrees with them or not. Objective moral standard’s live outside of us and are not based on 100% agreement nor on an individuals choice. But, I believe agreement on moral standards is what exists.

    Your response to my absurd point of letting inmates go if morals are based on an individuals choice is a plea to “common sense”. What is common sense?

  14. Cleeve says:

    “I’m actually arguing that objective moral standards exist whether anyone agrees with them or not.”
    …is a self-defeating statement.

    As far as common sense, if you like the idea of murderers on the streets and people stealing wallets, that would be the opposite of common sense. Or is your argument that we need an objective moral framework to appreciate self preservation? 😉

  15. Sure, we get that torturing is wrong. But why is that an objective truth? All we know is that it’s a SHARED truth.

    Are there universal moral truths, or are there universally held moral instincts? The latter is a plausible natural explanation with no need to invent a supernatural anything; that’s why I prefer it.

    One other point: your moral dichotomy is false IMO. That is, you propose two options: (1) there are objective moral truths—that is, truths grounded outside people, truths that would be true whether you were there to consider it or not. And the other option: (2) you have your truths and I have mine, and I have no warrant to criticize your truths.

    I reject both of these. (1) I see no evidence of the remarkable claim of objective moral truth, and (2) I will, with pleasure, criticize moral views of yours that I disagree with. If I thought your views were the right ones, I’d have those views; that we disagree in my mind means that you’re wrong.

  16. Aaron says:

    You cut off the rest of my statement…”But, I believe agreement on moral stands is what exists.” This goes back to your premise that if two people disagree on a moral standard then objective moral standards do not exist. My claim is that many objective moral standards do exist (i.e, it would be wrong to steal your wallet or torture a baby).

    A definition of Common Sense: noun, “Sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence.”

    This the same issue. What is common sense unless it has a basis to begin with? Do we all have to agree this is common sense for it to be common sense?

    I have yet to hear your position except for the dismissal of objective morality nor any practical explanation of origin or application.

  17. Aaron:

    WLC had a good definition of objective moral values. As for evidence that objective moral values exist, however, he said: “Many theists and atheists concur on this point” (0:55). And that was it.

    I couldn’t sit through much more. Did I miss anything good? Did he ever get around to justifying his immense claim? I doubt it.

    I’ve heard lots from him, and I’ve never heard him justify this claim.

  18. Cleeve says:

    Your belief of something is not proof, Aaron. The purpose of this exercise was to find out if morality was objective or subjective. Your subjective assessment is not a valid basis to determine whether morality is objective. That makes no sense at all.

    • Aaron says:

      This is circling back to same issue. If morality is subjective and is based on individual choice or “breeding”, no one can commit a crime. The worst offense a person can commit is not agreeing with another persons opinion. Or as William Lane Craig states, “the offense is nothing more than being unfashionable”.

  19. Cleeve says:

    On a side note: as far as a practical explanation of the origins of common beliefs as to whether or not things like torturing babies is something we don’t ‘like’, you don’t need objective morality for that. you simply need genetic imperatives: breeding and furthering the species are examples. A race will die out fairly quickly if it’s not genetically engineered to have a problem with torturing and killing children.

  20. micahkunkle says:

    🙂

    • Cleeve says:

      No, he didn’t. He argued it was consequentialism, and that’s a flawed argument that doesn’t address the problem.

      I’ve never once suggested that human flourishing is ‘good’, or that anyone should try to ‘maximize’ it. I’m saying that every species has instincts that are necessary for its survival. If you want to call that morality, more power to you – morality is nothing more than a word used to describe a certain type of human behavior.

      What we’re doing here is trying to determine if morality is objective or subjective. Brett’s argument is that it’s objective because there are some hypothetical situations where the vast majority of people share the same gut response.

      My argument is the flip-side of that, though. I believe ‘morality’ is subjective, because there are many hypothetical situations where people would respond differently. If morality was truly objective we’d all come to the exact same conclusions in every situation.

      Disliking a hypothetical situation (i.e. the idea of torturing babies) does not prove morality exists, it merely suggests that people don’t like to see babies tortured. There are other possible reasons that people don’t like to see babies tortured. For morality to be objective, we’d *all* have to agree on the ‘right’ thing to do in every possible situation.

      • Aaron says:

        Thank you for the summary. And again, any appeal to rightness or wrongness is based on something beyond an individuals subjective choice. Any attempt to support subjective morality quickly breaks down. First, Brett’s “hypothetical” situation is not hypothetical at all. This type of thing has happened in reality. Second, we all agree this is wrong. As you stated, only the “insane” would think this is permissible.

        Maybe it would be easier if you heard the argument from an atheist:

        “Writing in his fascinating study of Ethics, Evil and Fiction (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), atheist Colin McGinn affirms:

        When I assert ‘this is good’ or ‘that is evil’, I do not mean that I experience desire or aversion, or that I have a feeling of liking or indignation. These subjective experiences may be present; but the judgment points not to a personal or subjective state of mind but to the presence of an objective value in the situation. What is implied in this objectivity? Clearly, in the first place, it implies independence of the judging subject. If my assertion ‘this is good’ is valid, then it is valid not for me only but for everyone. If I say ‘this is good’, and another person, referring to the same situation, says ‘this is not good’, one or other of us must be mistaken… The validity of a moral judgment does not depend upon the person by whom the judgment is made… In saying that moral values belong to the nature of reality… the statement implies an objectivity which is independent of the achievements of persons in informing their lives with these values, and is even independent of their recognizing their validity. Whether we are guided by them or not, whether we acknowledge them or not, they have validity… objective moral value is valid independently of my will, and yet is something which satisfies my purpose and completes my nature…”

        Here is the rest of the article from which this is pulled:
        http://www.truthbomb.blogspot.com/2012/02/article-can-moral-objectivism-do.html

        I’ve appreciated our dialogue on the topic. Feel free to continue posting. I will read your reply, but consider this my last post here on this topic. I wish you the best. –Aaron

  21. Cleeve says:

    Thanks for your reply, Aaron. I appreciate your input as well. Now I’ll share my own thoguhts on your rebuttal:

    First, from my perspective, whether sound or flawed opinions come from a christian or atheist makes little difference to me, Aaron.

    And whether it’s hypothetical or actual is also completely beside the point. It doesn’t matter if people dislike seeing babies tortured or thinking of them being tortured, that doesn’t change what we’re discussing a single iota.

    Pushing the theory of an ‘objective morality’ makes all kinds of presumptions about the nature of morality in the first place. Morality is nothing more than an abstract category we invented to describe human behavior when it comes to yet another abstract idea, right vs. wrong. unless you’ve come into this conversation having pre-decided there is an all-powerful deity that has established these concepts as universal truths, there’s no reason to revere them as such.

    I don’t see why a person would assume that what we call morality is anything more than a consequence of our genetic makeup; instinct. Disliking the thought of tortured babies doesn’t prove that what you call morality is anything more than a gut reaction.

    Words like ‘good’, ‘evil’ and ‘morality’ don’t prove anythign because they themselves have no meaning without the abstract concepts we have imposed upon them in the first place.

    It comes down to this: If morality wasn’t abstract, if it was a real, tangible aspect of human personality, we’d all know the ‘right’ thing to do in *every* situation. There’d be no debates, no grey areas. If we did something ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’ it would be a conscious decision to do so.

    My experience has been that most people actually think they’re ‘right’ regardless of how awful their actions might be. I don’t believe that when people do something ‘wrong’, it’s because they’ve consciously decided to do an ‘evil’ thing.

    • Cleeve:

      I agree. My complaint about Aaron’s comment is that he claims that objective morality exists without providing any evidence. In particular, your argument is a reasonable natural explanation. I don’t see that Aaron has done anything to (1) show that the natural explanation is inherently insufficient to explain what we see in human morality and (2) show that objective morality actually exists.

  22. Rob says:

    I just listened to this response video for the third time. I used to be convinced by the moral argument but I’m not anymore. You’re basically saying that your clear-cut cases of objective morals are obvious to you and most others. But if there is just one person who this clear-cut case is not obvious to, then the moral argument falls apart. You might think they need therapy, but they would also think you need therapy. Perhaps you were lucky to have evolved with the majority moral opinion? Anyway I think that several people in this thread have brought up really great objections to the moral argument and I’d love your follow-up response on this. Evolution seems like a good explanation, perhaps better than moral intuition. Maybe you can shed some light on why we should discount the theory of moral evolution for survival of the species? After all, what are obvious morals values that aren’t about infringing on the life, liberty, or property of others? Is it obvious that it’s good to risk your own life to save another? Is not doing this shameful? Is it obvious that self-harm is immoral?

  23. DoubtingEric says:

    This video response was spectacularly unconvincing. Wouldn’t it make more sense to say that human moral intuition is at the least an impaired, imperfect, and at the most, hopeless guide to morality? What can account for this? Natural selection and social conditions can quite plausibly explain the variance in moral attitudes we see, and account for abnormalities such as sociopaths and psychopaths. It also explains why we feel as if certain things are “right” or “wrong.”

    So why would I be convinced that there are such things as objective moral values when I have a convincing explanation that accounts for more of the data than the other? Why would I be convinced by someone saying that since most people in the world think that doing some act is wrong, it must be because there is an objective moral law?

    • nenji says:

      I just like to make 3 observations

      (1) Morality as a result of evolutionary biology

      I don’t see how evolutionary theory can account for those altruistic moral values that would be counter productive to one’s survival, since any “altrusim gene” that gives rise to such behaviour should be eliminated under natural selection.

      From http://www.shenvi.org/Essays/ObjectiveMoralValues.htm although I would encourage anyone to read the full article, here’s the relevant paragraph on this

      “However, what is far more perplexing is the existence and persistence of altruism throughout human cultures. By altruism here, I mean what evolutionary biologist Dr. Jerry Coyne calls true altruism, behavior that will not even indirectly confer reproductive benefit to oneself or ones’ relatives. For instance, it is possible to envision a scenario in which generosity would indirectly benefit the giver and increase his reproductive fitness. But it is incredibly hard to envision a scenario in which it is genetically advantageous to throw one’s body on a live grenade to save one’s platoon or to adopt and raise children of another race. Reflecting on the existence of true altruism, Coyne says “we don’t know whether true altruism … has any genetic basis in human society. True altruism like that isn’t known in any other species, and I suspect that, to the extent it occurs in ours, it’s an epiphenomenon: a byproduct of our general social cooperativeness….In short, we know nothing about the evolution of true human altruism except that it probably didn’t evolve.” [from Why evolution is true blog, 5/18/11] Richard Dawkins agrees, seeing altruism as a happy accident of evolution, but not one that leads directly or indirectly to any reproductive benefit. What is important here is that both Coyne and Dawkins recognize that altruism is an evolutionary accident. What puzzles me most is why –on this view– true altruism persists in the human race. Shouldn’t altruistic acts like self-sacrifice or adoption have been weeded out of the human population by natural selection eons ago? How could the pressures of natural selection have tuned the eye to detect single photons yet have failed to prevent people from rushing into burning buildings or diving into icy water to save others?”

      (2) Morality as a result of the need for social stability/prosperity

      The argument would go something like this: the morality of acts such as murder, rape, theft and torture came to be viewed as universally “wrong” because in almost all societies, such acts undermine social stability. And the corollary is that a society that prohibited these acts would derive more of a social benefit and therefore progress further than societies that don’t prohibit such acts.

      I find that this argument seems quite workable when applied within the society, but seems to break down when two societies come into conflict. If you are at war and want to exterminate an opposing tribe there really is no basis to adhere to any of those moral values that resulted from social necessity. Murder is obviously now sanctioned. But going further than that: mass rape is quite effective for intimidation and also keeps your soldiers happy (e.g. imperial Japan in WW2), torture is also a very effective method of intimidating not just the victims but also other tribes you intend to conquer (e.g. Mongol hordes), forcing survivors into slavery is also a good source of cheap labour (e.g. Roman empire), comitting genocide will ensure no remnants will one day take revenge on you.

      Considering the obvious “benefits” to the society committing these war atrocities, shouldn’t such actions – provided they’re only committed against an enemy – like murder, rape, and torture, be defined as “good” from the vantage point of that society? (and if the answer is “yes” then that’s effectively admitting that there was no basis to convict the Nazi’s at the Nuremburg trials).

      (3) Also, since this seemed to be a point of contention earlier in the comments, a distinction should be made between the existence of objective moral values, and our ability to intuit them. Quoting again from http://www.shenvi.org/Essays/ObjectiveMoralValues.htm

      “First, in defending the existence of objective moral values, I am primarily making a claim about moral ontology, not about moral epistemology. Moral ontology deals with whether a realm of objective moral values exists; in other words, what is the basis for something being “good” or “evil”? Moral epistemology deals with how we know what is good and evil. Clearly, one can have real objective moral values without knowing how we perceive these values or even how we know which actions are good and which are evil.”

      Cleeve argues that “If morality wasn’t abstract, if it was a real, tangible aspect of human personality, we’d all know the ‘right’ thing to do in *every* situation” but this argument requires the premise is that there is some form of perfect intuition of objective moral values. I would suggest that the existence of objective moral values is separate from, and not dependent upon, our ability to intuit them.

      • nenji:

        “(1) Morality as a result of evolutionary biology”

        In the first place, “Biology has some unanswered questions here” does NOTHING to support the monumental hypothesis that God did it.

        Or that objective morality exists. Do you think it does? Do you have any arguments to support this claim?

        In the second place, one hypothesis is that evolution trained us in an environment where most other humans were relatives. Humans lived initially in small groups. That’s not true of today’s city dwellers, but evolution doesn’t respond fast enough to make that distinction. We still have an unfortunate us-vs.-them distinction (xenophobia in the extreme), but the altruism that you describe could easily be explained by our Stone Age brains mistaking other people for relatives.

        “Richard Dawkins agrees, seeing altruism as a happy accident of evolution, but not one that leads directly or indirectly to any reproductive benefit.”

        Yes, this is my point.

        “Shouldn’t altruistic acts like self-sacrifice or adoption have been weeded out of the human population by natural selection eons ago?”

        We’ve been over that. It’s an accident.

        What process do you imagine would weed it out? Humanity has lived primarily in cities since just a few years ago; we’ve lived in large communities for only centuries. Evolution moves slowly.

        And keep in mind that there are new forces that evolution must adapt to—a society where strangers help strangers is actually a beneficial society.

        “Considering the obvious “benefits” to the society committing these war atrocities, shouldn’t such actions – provided they’re only committed against an enemy – like murder, rape, and torture, be defined as “good” from the vantage point of that society?”

        The Old Testament came from just such a culture. Its support of slavery and genocide is pretty obvious (and disturbing, seen with modern eyes).

        “(and if the answer is “yes” then that’s effectively admitting that there was no basis to convict the Nazi’s at the Nuremburg trials).”

        Huh? I’ve never heard an atheist unafraid to criticize a sufficiently bad moral error in another person or group.

        “Clearly, one can have real objective moral values without knowing how we perceive these values or even how we know which actions are good and which are evil.”

        And now we’re squarely in “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” territory. If objective moral values exist but we can’t access them, who cares that they exist? The only relevant objective moral values are those that can be reliably accessed.

        And I have yet to hear a coherent argument defending objective moral values.

  24. Well answered, Bob. I agree with all of that and could not have written it better myself. I think what happens nine times out of ten on these discussions is that the person arguing for objective moral values misunderstands what evolution does and doesn’t do. They misunderstand how it works, how natural selection selects, and how moral behaviors might develop. Perhaps it is a combination of evolutionary reasons AND societal reasons. When someone who clearly does not have a good grasp on what evolution is tells me that evolution via natural selection would never allow this type of behavior, I am usually not convinced. That remains true still. That is NOT to call that person stupid or anything like that. Please understand that and do not take this as an insult. I never understood evolution while I still believed, and I don’t know how I could have even listened to a good explanation of it with an open mind. If one is set out against an idea in the first place, then it is likely that they will never understand it, especially if it is as complex as evolution!

    I gave up my idea of objective transcendent morality when I realized that I didn’t believe in God anymore. It’s a natural “feeling out” period in my mind, trying to see how everything fits now. I understand it seems uncomfortable and maybe scary to imagine no firm ground to stand on, to imagine the trap door beneath our feet flinging open, sending us falling into a pit of evil and despair. But we non-believers don’t see it that way at all. We seek the truth, however uncomfortable it may be.

    If someone could show me evidence of moral values and duties existing that are objective, by definition, rooted in God, then that would be amazing! I would very likely begin more earnestly to give credence to the claims of Christianity. To tell me, as William Lane Craig and Brett both do, that objective moral values do exist, and we all know it, is not convincing to me. In my view, biology and society may very well be the answers to why we are moral, and the very existence of a conscience and moral intuitions at the level of precision they have (not very high, I’m afraid) are expected. You would expect, if moral intuition is something subjective, that people would often disagree about what is moral or not. I understand that this is arguing about our ability to discern moral values, not their very existence. I’m only saying here that nothing about the nature of morality is really at odds with a naturalistic view of the world, in my opinion.

    Here is my problem with this sort of soft argument given above, and by everyone I have ever seen, heard, or read. If we have no reliable way to show these objective values exist, there is disagreement on a lot of them, and the most well-established scientific explanation of our origins and behavior account for what our moral compass or conscience tells us and how we “feel” about morality, why would I ever think the God hypothesis is more correct?

  25. nonsensenose says:

    “You mean the default, natural explanation?”

    Yes, evidence for the natural explanation which you believe is the default.

    • NSN: A couple of thoughts.

      (1) The burden of proof is always on the person making the supernatural claim. If science and reason had nothing to say about where morality came from, this would still be true. (Science has lots of unanswered questions. “You got not answer? Well I do–God did it!” is obviously no answer.)

      (2) We see morality in other primates. Do they also tap into an objective moral truth? I don’t think so–moral instinct seems to explain this quite well. That is, they’re born with certain instincts that we would call “moral”–compassion, sympathy, a sense of fairness. And so are we.

      • nonsensenose says:

        1) I see that the burden of proof is on a person making a supernatural claim.

        I do not see why your claims would be exempt from the burden of proof.

        2) We don’t see morality in other primates. You do.

        It is correct, as you state, that we could call some of their observable traits “moral.” It would be equally correct to state that we could call them “social inclinations” or “signals of social status” or “equivalent to human affect” or whatever.

        Such claims do not provide any evidence at all.

  26. NSN:

    Cut to the chase. Show me the evidence for objective moral truth.