For those interested in the Jason Streitfeld saga, it's been going hot and heavy over at the Triablogue, mostly along the lines of the topics of materialism and its epistemology, Jason's laughable "reasons" for disaffirming the Bible as a good source of moral judgments, and Jason's simply ignorant assertion that the term "God" as in "the God of the Bible" is incoherent and unexplained by Christians.
In chronological order:
The really long initial thread
Slightly shorter, subsequent thread
The still-ongoing slightly-summarised thread
In my humble opinion, it's not going well for Jason, but of course anyone can see for himself.
Today I'd like to discuss a few serious problems with Jason's morality as he's been expressing it.
1) He tells us that evidence and reason lead us to see morality as a social contract.
Then he tells us that the social contractually-agreed-upon morality is to act in accord with evidence and reason.
Then he tells us that evidence and reason lead us to see morality as a social contract.
All this in response to the never-ending "Why ought I follow the morality you espouse?" question that I ask. He directs us to circular claims. I fail to see why this should impress.
2) I've asked him many times WHY I should follow the social contract. His position amounts to "IF you want this, then this". It is goal-oriented. First choose the goal (ie, a stable society) (or he begs the question by assuming that being nice to people or something similar is a good and laudable goal), then figure out, rationally, using evidence, how to attain that goal.
Problem - morality is supposed to inform what we desire as well as what we do. So where and how does his position inform that?
Maybe he'd make another IF-THEN statement along those lines. Fine. Where does his position inform that?
It's an infinite regress.
Where does it end? With faith in his self-derived, question-begging, fundamental moral presuppositions. It's not based on "evidence" or "rational process" at all. Down the toilet go his lofty proclamations of a purely reason-based morality.
3) He speaks of morality as basically a social contract. I've asked him before how he knows what the contract is; who signed it; if no one signed it, how he knows who agreed to it; how one agrees to it; what % of the population is required before it's a contract; etc. I've as yet gotten no answer.
4) Jason's explicitly-affirmed worldview is materialism. Thus, one would reasonably expect the social contract to be material. Where is it located? Is it written down? Who wrote it? Where can it be examined? Of what is it composed? What grade of paper and what tone of ink were used?
Or is it conceptual? How is a concept "material"?
5) From this comment of Jason's, I answer:
if our interest in the world is not justified by something else, then our interest cannot be the foundation for a moral system.
1) But WHY SHOULD my interest in the world be the foundation? I'm looking for a good REASON for that.
2) You may have noticed, if you ever read the news, that disparate interests exist in diff people. Somali pirates' interest is in stealing oil tankers. OPEC doesn't want them to.
Phred Felps wants to picket dead soldiers' funerals and announce that they are certain that said soldiers are burning in Hell, while the families don't want them to.
I accuse aborticians of murder, while pro-baby-murder activists think I'm a dangerous freaky fundamentalist that should be silenced.
So who's right and how do we know? Each is expressing his interest.
You are working under the assumption that moral questions must be answerable by some standard which is "good" in itself, without reference to any particular set of interests.
You have forgotten that you yourself take the same assumption - namely, that referring morality to a particular set of interests is good in itself. The difference between us is that I've thought my position (and yours) out to their logical conclusions, and you're only halfway there.
you say God is a moral authority because God's interests are Good in themselves. why should I accept that, especially since (as you know) the term "God" is incoherently defined?
1) On Christianity, He is.
On atheism, there is no moral authority at all, so...
2) Your claim about God's incoherent definition is being pwnd over at the Triablogue. Have you ever heard the term "systematic theology"? I can recommend a decent primer. Far more ink has been spilled on the topic of God's definition than has ever been on your novel idea of materialism.
The very idea of "good in itself" is incoherent, because it admits of no frame of reference.
I presume, then, that "our interest as foundation for a moral system" is not good at all.
What good (pardon the pun) is it, then?
For you, morality is just playing by God's rules.
No, read my post on the topic again. I reserve the right to correct you when you misstate my position, and you certainly have.
morality is aiming for the most justifiable position available.
Which is apparently not good, though, according to what you said above. How about that? A morality devoid of any judgment on what is good and bad. Sounds suspiciously like no morality at all.
You ask me to just assume, hypothetically, that Christianity were true.
You have demonstrated over and over again your inability to understand the difference between internal and external critique.
I am firmly convinced that atheism is founded on incoherency, but that doesn't stop ME from making internal critiques of it. All I can do is link to the post that explains it and hope that someday you'll get it.
You may as well ask me to temporarily suppose that "in blue ambulatory with massage and purple mustang, although not, and entirely because" were true.
Funny - that's exactly the kind of thinking that we're left with if we take your position on the laws of logic.