I had followed up on yet another post containing moralistic statements from the atheist of the hour, this time laying out 6 stages of the development of morality within a society. The final one is:
Stage 6 - Universal Principles - this is a theoretical stage in which there is an attempt to define the principles by which a just society operates. In this society, decisions are based on equal respect for all. For example, a majority would not get to vote on restricting the rights of a minority.And later:
So I, only too happy to take such things to their logical conclusion, said:
We don't need fictional characters from Bronze Age myths dictating to us what is right or wrong. We are fully capable of making sound moral decisions all on our own.
I have decided that all of you are worthy of death.The implication is obvious. A firestorm has followed. Apparently, the "we" had quite a few qualifications. Apparently, this "we" means "those who agree with us. The rest are stupid."
We are fully capable of making sound moral decisions all on our own. Right?
But I digress.
Further down, Tom Foss said:
My thinking, though, is that saying "you all deserve death" is like saying "you all deserve bones." Death isn't a punishment or reward that requires people to prove their worthiness, it's an inevitable fact of life.So one wonders why Tom would have a problem with my statement. It's perfectly consistent, as far as I can tell, with a naturalistic viewpoint. What else is an inevitable fact of life? Being born. Eating. Excreting waste. Drinking water. Moving one's limbs and appendages about. Learning.
He goes on to make a statement that, for that reason, is unjustified:
I see a major difference between "you deserve death" and "you deserve to be killed." The latter has some meaning; it implies that the target should encounter death before they otherwise would, which is indeed a punishment (at least, by my reckoning). If that's what Rhology meant, then that has some practical meaning. I'd like to know what his criteria are for determining who deserves to be killed, and how he arrived at that conclusion, and chances are I would disagree.If he were to be consistent, he'd neither disagree nor agree. There's no "should" in his worldview, no way to prescribe nor proscribe the 'right' behavior for anyone to follow.
Further, putting someone to death is simply enabling a natural process to take place. It's the same as giving someone a carrot to eat. Or a slab of steak. Or a live hamster (if one were so inclined). Or brain from a living person. It's all-natural. It's all the same.
Then, my favorite part:
morals are determined not by individuals, but by social consensus... In order for any society--even a mere grouping of two people--to exist, they must agree on some basic moral principles...All morals result from the interactions of social animals, and so the morals of a given society are determined by what that society can agree on.
1) There's no necessity that society exist. On naturalism, it so happens that humans evolved in such a way that living together in community aids in survival, most of the time. But of course, praying mantises have evolved in such a way that they hang out alone all the time, except when they get together for sex and dinner (in that order). So what?
2) I've heard this claim many times and always I have wondered whence this social consensus comes. When and where did "society" get together and establish this moral agreement? What % is a consensus, and what is the basis for pegging the % at that point?
3) What of those in society, such as anarchist protesters, murderers and other psychopaths, and M-16-toting, compound-dwelling Mountain Men, who have no and want no part in this societal moral consensus? Whence comes the "should" in "these guys should have no say in our moral deliberations"? It's arbitrary.
4) What of entire societies who have gone "astray"? The Yanomamo, the Auca, the 3rd Reich, Vichy France (who willingly exceeded the quotas for sending French Jews to Germany set by the Nazis)... when was their moral consensus created? And was it OK? Tom Foss would probably say no, but on what basis? He has to be inconsistent with his own stated views to avoid the awful (and embarrassing) conclusion.