Ethical Subjectivism

There were many passionate reactions to Micha's statements about morality below. My second question to everyone follows.

Based on your reading of his words, can you briefly summarize your understanding of Micha's views on morality?

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I see morons here who have

I see morons here who have established that they will haggle over the price of their own thievery: the matter turns only on the size of their take.

Of goods that don't belong to them.

We're talking about people who are ready to dismiss facts -- they will take a stand in favor of things that are in no way true -- and use their own positive willingness to flout reality to not only wink & nod around their own neuroses, but also to attempt insult on people who point out that they're just wrong, in plain terms.

"Allied"?

Don't presume yourself, kid. I wouldn't trust you as far as I could throw you.

>>Don?t presume yourself,

>>Don?t presume yourself, kid. I wouldn?t trust you as far as I could throw you.

You might not trust me, and you certainly don't like me or respect me. That's probably rational on your part. But I will be working to advance liberty nonetheless.

I will be taking actions which will advance ideas you believe to be part of an objective moral code, even though I don't believe that moral code exists.

>>We?re talking about people who are ready to dismiss facts ? they will take a stand in favor of things that are in no way true ? and use their own positive willingness to flout reality to not only wink & nod around their own neuroses, but also to attempt insult on people who point out that they?re just wrong, in plain terms.

I'm afraid I don't understand what these facts are. I'm quite willing to accept that mental deficiency on my part is the source of this misunderstanding. No insult or disrepect is intended.

Well I don't see that I

Well I don't see that I agree with anyone yet. I see morality as a strategy on how to behave in ones enlightened self interest. As with all strategies I can't say that there is one best strategy. It all depends on the individual, the current historical situation, the competing moral systems, the society you are living in, etc. So in a sense it is subjective. But it is not so subjective that just any old personal moral system will do. You can't just pick a random morality and expect it to work well regardless of environment.

I think moral systems evolve just like organisms do. I think there's a seaching algorithm going on just like natural selection. Just like there is no ultimately correct "grazing animal" I don't think there is some ultimately correct moral system. There are trade offs for every moral system.

For instance one needs to trade off the accuracy of the system against how difficult it is to learn the system. If your moral system requires each individual to learn all of Austrian Economics personally then it just is not going to work. However, if the system only requires some people to learn to this depth and others to follow simpler rules then I think it has a chance.

I don't think using this objective/subjective dicotomy works very well in explaining this human adaptive feature called morality. I think it is obstructive to proper understanding of what morality is. Think of it this way. Sharp teeth are objectively adaptive for carnovores. However, since there is more than one way for organisms to make a living in this world they are only subjectively adaptive. If one is a herbivore then flat teeth for grinding are the way to go. Thus, one tooth shape is not objectively correct and yet the correct tooth shape is not subjective either.

I fear this thread is

I fear this thread is quickly devolving into useless ad hominem. Our ages having nothing to do with the truth or falsity of our arguments, nor do our motivations. I suspect that most of the moral relativists here (Madison, titus, and myself) do not hold this belief for selfish reasons, i.e. we do not personally benefit from denying that an objective moral code exists. We do not make this claim in an effort to justify or rationalize what you would consider immoral acts. Rather, I suspect that we moral relativists were all moral objectivists at some point in our lives, and still share the same repulsion concerning those who would rape, murder and steal. We just came to a point where we realized that talk of an objective moral code is as nonsensical as talk of an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, mystical God. We also realized that we can reach precisely the same conclusions about the content and structure of our preferred civil society without any need to reference absolute rights or or objective morality.

Brian, Your views are in

Brian,

Your views are in congruent with mine. In a sense, the hypothetical imperative as described by Randy Barnett in various places, serves as a middle ground between objective natural rights and subjective consequentialism.

However, the objective/subjective dichotomy still serves a useful purpose - it leads one to focus on consequences rather than logical deductions from a priori moral principles. Without this dichotomy, those who still believe that an objective moral code exists and can somehow be discovered by human reason will often reject economics and consequentialist analysis as useless and perhaps even immoral, as some participants in this thread have already done.

Micha, Why do you

Micha,

Why do you consistently use moral language like "rape, murder and steal" when you reject morality?

What is the difference between moral relativism and the absence of morality?

Rather, I suspect that we moral relativists were all moral objectivists at some point in our lives, and still share the same repulsion concerning those who would rape, murder and steal.

Well actually T.J. says he is no more or less repulsed by Stalin's behavior than by the behavior of an asteroid that would kill millions. Are you more repulsed by one than the other?

We also realized that we can reach precisely the same conclusions about the content and structure of our preferred civil society without any need to reference absolute rights or or objective morality.

In the absence of morality why shouldn't one prefer to be a Stalin if he can? Short of that why not prefer to be garden variety politician and thrive at the expense of others?

Billy, So far in this

Billy,

So far in this thread, you have called people "fucking punks", labeled things "bullshit" without so much as giving even a modest argument as to why, and resorted to implying that people who write things you disagree with do so because of their age. If you have an actual argument to make, make it, and do it civilly. If you want to call us names, do so on your blog, not here.

Why do you consistently use

Why do you consistently use moral language like ?rape, murder and steal? when you reject morality?

Because those terms accurately describe the actions at issue and convey my disapproval of those actions. The term "rape", defined as "unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent", does not depend upon one's acceptance of objective morality. The term "murder", defined as "the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought", does not depend upon one's acceptance of objective morality. The term "theft", defined as "an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property" does not depend upon one's acceptance of objective morality.

What is the difference between moral relativism and the absence of morality?

It depends on what you mean by the term "morality." If you use the term to mean "an objective moral code, then "moral relativism" is synonymous with "the absence of morality." But if you use the term to mean "strong subjective beliefs about certain actions", then moral relativism is not the same as the absence of morality.

Well actually T.J. says he is no more or less repulsed by Stalin?s behavior than by the behavior of an asteroid that would kill millions. Are you more repulsed by one than the other?

As T.J already explained, using the term "behavior" to described the deaths caused by Stalin is not the same as using the term "behavior" to describe the deaths caused by an asteriod. Stalin had the ability to act purposefully; an asteroid does not.

Am I more repulsed by one or the other? Were I given a choice between two situations, one in which Stalin kills 100 million people, the other in which an asteriod kills 1 billion people, I would choose Stalin over the asteroid.

In the absence of morality why shouldn?t one prefer to be a Stalin if he can? Short of that why not prefer to be garden variety politician and thrive at the expense of others?

Let me throw that question back at you: In the presence of morality, why shouldn?t one prefer to be a Stalin if he can? As I wrote in the other thread, "You are not worried about repercussions from God, and you are not worried about repercussions from man, so what are you worried about?"

To hint at an answer, I believe that either evolution or our social upbringing equipped most, but not all of us with a feeling of sympathy and caring for our fellow man, either because these feelings provide us with an evolutionary advantage, or because societies that did not instill these feelings in their members do not survive for very long. That is why most of us would not act like Stalin even if given the opportunity, and we recoil at those who would.

"Because those terms

"Because those terms accurately describe the actions at issue and convey my disapproval of those actions. The term ?rape?, defined as ?unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent?, does not depend upon one?s acceptance of objective morality. The term ?murder?, defined as ?the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought?, does not depend upon one?s acceptance of objective morality. The term ?theft?, defined as ?an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property? does not depend upon one?s acceptance of objective morality."

Why do you disapprove of unlawful acts?

"But if you use the term to

"But if you use the term to mean ?strong subjective beliefs about certain actions?, then moral relativism is not the same as the absence of morality."

You claim to be a moral relativist. Give an example of a strong subjective moral belief you hold.

Micha, Do you believe

Micha,

Do you believe anything to be objectively true?

Do you belive anything to be objectively true for which you know of no proof?

"...resorted to implying

"...resorted to implying that people who write things you disagree with do so because of their age."

You're wrong, too.

And it's your blog: you call the shots. But I'm right, and you know it.

"We also realized that we

"We also realized that we can reach precisely the same conclusions about the content and structure of our preferred civil society without any need to reference absolute rights or or objective morality."

That's bullshit, Ghertner, whether you know it or not.

And I have a very good reason for wondering about peoples' ages. That, too, is pertinent, also whether you know it or not.

>>We also realized that we

>>We also realized that we can reach precisely the same conclusions about the content and structure of our preferred civil society without any need to reference absolute rights or or objective morality.

Indeed. Empirically we can resist tyranny and advance liberty just as well now as before.

>>Am I more repulsed by one or the other? Were I given a choice between two situations, one in which Stalin kills 100 million people, the other in which an asteriod kills 1 billion people, I would choose Stalin over the asteroid.

This is very important. This means that to satisfy our "lower body count" preference we might have to put up with the icky in order to deal with the truly rotten, as a matter of logistics.

>>Do you believe anything to

>>Do you believe anything to be objectively true?

Aha. Now were getting into the issue of objective vs. subjective REALITY.

As an empiricist, "True" means "Consistent with the overwhelming majority of my sensory input." Claims of truth vs. falsity must therefore necessarily be conditional, and subject to change in the presence of more data.

"The law of gravity is true" means that non-aerodynamic objects have been observed to fall to the ground when dropped with an astonishing degree of consistency.

Why do you disapprove of

Why do you disapprove of unlawful acts?

That was merely the dictionary definition of those terms. I do not disapprove of an act simply because it is unlawful, although in most cases, an act is unlawful because a significant portion of society (or at least those with political power) disapproves.

You claim to be a moral

You claim to be a moral relativist. Give an example of a strong subjective moral belief you hold.

I already did, multiple times. Remember my feelings about theft?

Do you believe anything to be objectively true? Do you belive anything to be objectively true for which you know of no proof?

Hmm. Your question is written in the form of extremes, but I will try to answer as best I can. I believe that objects exist in the world independent of human minds. So, yes, when I say "there is a brown, wooden table in front of me," I consider that statement objectively true, and that table would continue to remain in that same spot with those same features even if man suddenly ceased to exist.

However, I do not have absolute proof that this is so. I could be dreaming, hallucinating, experiencing virtual reality, being tricked by an evil demon, etc. As subjective beings who view the world through our senses, which themselves are imperfect and capable of deceiving us, the only proof we will ever have of anything is reasonableness, probability, Occam's razor, and pragmatism.

Micha: Am I more repulsed by

Micha: Am I more repulsed by one or the other? Were I given a choice between two situations, one in which Stalin kills 100 million people, the other in which an asteriod kills 1 billion people, I would choose Stalin over the asteroid.

T.J. Madison: This is very important. This means that to satisfy our ?lower body count? preference we might have to put up with the icky in order to deal with the truly rotten, as a matter of logistics.

This relative moral calculus just keeps getting better and better.

Consider a terrorist who blows up 100 people and a tornado that kills 100 people. For the purposes of argument lets assume thedeaths are equally quick an clean in a physical sense, there is no difference in sufferring between the two groups of victims and they don't know what hit them. You may well be indifferent to how these groups of people die, but is your evaluation of the terrorist really equivalent to your evaluation of the tornado, Micha? Are you really equally repulsed by these two situations?

T.J., I don't think the

T.J.,

I don't think the Milgram example proves that feelings of sympathy are superficial and weak in most people; rather, all it proves is that the power of authority over most people is strong enough to override their feelings of sympathy.

Well, if those feelings of

Well, if those feelings of sympathy don't translate into action, they ain't worth much, are they?

"I'm so sorry I'm doing this to you"

ZZZAAAPPP

"It hurts me as much as it hurts you"

BZZAAPP

It's clear that their "revealed preference" for torture and murder under orders is much stronger than any feigned distaste for such torture and murder. Most people would say "I'd never torture people, torture is wrong" but then they'd do it anyway, without even any coercion.

Hence the term "sheeple." These people (the vast majority) aren't of much use to me.

Billy: 43. Titus: You

Billy:

43.

Titus:

You ask:

"1. Define human nature?

That's rather like defining existence. It is what it is. It?s the metaphysically given. Do you mean to ask what the values are that are dictated by man?s nature?

?2. Why should I buy your definition of human nature?

You mean that you would consider denying that man has a particular nature and requires particular values to live in accordance with it?

?3. Given the ever changing environment in which we live, how are we to find a rigid set of values? er, sorry, VALUES to be applicable in every situation?

Oh, I?m by no means arguing for a rigid set of values or morals. I?m pretty much a bread & butter kind of guy when it comes to that. Bread & butter morality is pretty damned simple and obvious. In fact, I?d say that there?s a good chance that if you hold a moral principle that?s not applicable in every situation (excluding perhaps dire emergency), then it?s likely not an objective one.

?4. What if human nature is a little bit evil? Should we value evil, because it?s in accordance with our nature??

Have a tough time shaking the ?original sin? thing, eh? More seriously, what do you mean by a ?little bit evil?? Are you talking about small numbers of individuals, or everyone, i.e., a metaphysical aspect of human beings?

As an aside, are you aware of what the toughest challenge in training a soldier for infantry is, and the biggest problem on the battlefield for infantrymen? It?s aversion to killing another human being. I?ve heard it estimated that as much as 65% of rifle ammo that could have hit its mark in WWII did not because many soldiers would intentionally fire away. There?s a clue for you about real human nature.

(BTW, this might be my last response, ?cause this thread is gettin? a bit long.)

Micha, "Your views are in

Micha,

"Your views are in congruent[congruence] with mine. In a sense, the hypothetical imperative as described by Randy Barnett in various places, serves as a middle ground between objective natural rights and subjective consequentialism."

I read a little Barnett and didn't find much to object with him. However, I am finding many of your statements to be over the top.

"However, the objective/subjective dichotomy still serves a useful purpose - it leads one to focus on consequences rather than logical deductions from a priori moral principles. Without this dichotomy, those who still believe that an objective moral code exists and can somehow be discovered by human reason will often reject economics and consequentialist analysis as useless and perhaps even immoral, as some participants in this thread have already done."

Are you saying that you agree with me that the objective/subject dicotomy is a false one? If so then why do you persist in this discussion without clearing up this mistake? Seems to me to do otherwise serves only to taunt.

I certainly don't believe morality can be properly constructed on a foundationist method as Rand proposes. However I do agree with Rand on many particulars. I think this is however because what she did was take an existing moral system that I agree with, tweak it a little, then add rationalizations for why it's her way or the highway.

If you agree with me I certainly don't see it in the vast majorities of your posts. Here are some of the statements I totally disagree with:

"Morality itself is absurd."
"Rampaging amorality."
"I have opinions and preferences, but those opinions/prefences don?t extend any further than myself. There is nothing ?objective?, outside my subjective value judgements, that leads me to believe that taxation is theft, or that ice cream is tasty."
"Of course. (At least ?wrong? in the sense I have described it - subjectively). But doesn?t it make more sense for a morally wrong program to at least benefit some rather than having a morally wrong progam that benefits none, or benefits far fewer than the alternative? Why waste even more tax payer money and cause even more theft than is necessary?"
"I don?t like theft. I like the stuff I currently own and I don?t want to lose it. I feel bad when other people work hard for their stuff only to have it taken away by thieves. I want to live in a society that enforces laws against theft. In this sense?and only in this sense?theft is 'wrong'."
"Only that those moral opinions are no more objectively meaningful than my opinions about ice cream."

Brian, What do you mean by

Brian,

What do you mean by objective? I say that which is independent of opinion is objective, and that which depends on opinion is subjective. How is that a false dichotomy?

As an aside, are you aware

As an aside, are you aware of what the toughest challenge in training a soldier for infantry is, and the biggest problem on the battlefield for infantrymen? It?s aversion to killing another human being. I?ve heard it estimated that as much as 65% of rifle ammo that could have hit its mark in WWII did not because many soldiers would intentionally fire away. There?s a clue for you about real human nature.

I was going to mention this earlier, in response to T.J.'s point about the Milgram experiment, to show how the power of authority (in this case, the social norm against killing) can have positive effects.

But this is not evidence of human nature. Rather, this could just as easily be evidence for a powerful social norm against killing, which was socially constructed and did not exist in man prior to this construction.

This is the problem will all claims about human nature. It gets us into the nature vs. nurture debate, which shows no sign of being resolved anytime soon. Other than perhaps a few basic biological urges--sexual reproduction, hunger, survival--any claims about human nature are suspect.

You said those words

You said those words accurately describe the actions at issue, and the common element in the definitions you offered was unlawfulness. If those words don?t accurately describe the actions at issue then, again, why did you use them?

To show that the dictionary definitions of those words did not require any committment to either ethical objectivism or ethical egoism. Replace "unlawful" with "actions I subjectively dislike."

Human nature is the nature

Human nature is the nature all men share in common. What is it about an organism that would lead you to call it a man? It?s that you recognize the organism shares human nature.

Very well. Let's start listing some elements of that nature, and examining whether or not all men share those elements. What to do about small children, the mentally disabled, the physically deformed,...

More importantly, though, let's figure out how we can get from the statement "all men share the nature X" to "all men should act in accordance with X".

Consider a terrorist who

Consider a terrorist who blows up 100 people and a tornado that kills 100 people. For the purposes of argument lets assume thedeaths are equally quick an clean in a physical sense, there is no difference in sufferring between the two groups of victims and they don?t know what hit them. You may well be indifferent to how these groups of people die, but is your evaluation of the terrorist really equivalent to your evaluation of the tornado, Micha? Are you really equally repulsed by these two situations?

I may be more willing (even subconciously) to express my revulsion at the terrorist and not the tornado in an effort to reinforce the social norm against terrorism. Terrorists may or may not be influenced by social norms. Tornadoes, on the other hand, have no chance of being influenced by them, because tornadoes do not act purposefully.

"Very well. Let?s start

"Very well. Let?s start listing some elements of that nature, and examining whether or not all men share those elements.

What do you mean by men, Micha?

"I may be more willing (even

"I may be more willing (even subconciously) to express my revulsion at the terrorist and not the tornado in an effort to reinforce the social norm against terrorism."

Let's be clear; are you saying your revulsion is the same for both?

Are you saying that you

Are you saying that you agree with me that the objective/subject dicotomy is a false one?

No, I said that the gap between the two could be bridged somewhat by using the hypothetical imperative. The dichotomy still exists, but it allows deontologists and consequentialists to speak a common language, so long as the deontologists are willing to admit that answers to social problems cannot be resolved simply with appeals to a priori moral principles.

I certainly don?t believe morality can be properly constructed on a foundationist method as Rand proposes. However I do agree with Rand on many particulars. I think this is however because what she did was take an existing moral system that I agree with, tweak it a little, then add rationalizations for why it?s her way or the highway.

I agree entirely.

?Morality itself is absurd.?
?Rampaging amorality."

I regret the first statement. What I mean was "Absolute objective morality itself is absurd." The second statement was mere rhetoric; my point is that we should be focusing on things other than morality.

What do you mean by men,

What do you mean by men, Micha?

Humans.

Let?s be clear; are you saying your revulsion is the same for both?

I'm saying that the consequences of both events are the same, so the only reason people may look at one of them differently is in an attempt to create a deterrent to prevent future tragedies.

1. And what do you mean by

1. And what do you mean by humans?

2. I asked you if your revulsion to both is the same. Instead of telling how others might might look at things, how about just answering the question?

JTK: You claim to be a moral

JTK: You claim to be a moral relativist. Give an example of a strong subjective moral belief you hold.

MG: I already did, multiple times. Remember my feelings about theft?

How do your feelings constitute a moral belief? Don't you *know* how you feel about theft?

However, I do not have

However, I do not have absolute proof that this is so. I could be dreaming, hallucinating, experiencing virtual reality, being tricked by an evil demon, etc. As subjective beings who view the world through our senses, which themselves are imperfect and capable of deceiving us, the only proof we will ever have of anything is reasonableness, probability, Occam?s razor, and pragmatism.

So the absence of proof does not persuade you of the absence of objective reality.

John, As I explained above

John,

As I explained above when I said "Morality is not subjective and it is not objective." I think morality fits neither of these following standard definitions:

Subjective: Particular to a given person
Objective: Of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers.

I don't believe the two words are exactly opposite each other. There are things that are purely subjective. There are things that are purely objective. Some things are a mixture of both.

Is Britney Spears objectively or subjectively a good singer? If you say it is a purely objective fact I beg to differ as I think she stinks. If I say it is purely subjective fact then the fact that she is a sucessful professional contradicts me.

Even using your definition objective/subjective I don't know which to choose because "dependent on opinion" is an ambiguous definition. Do you mean solely dependent on opinion or partially dependent on opinion? Whose opinion?

For example, whats a good chess move? There are some clearly bad moves and some clearly good ones. However of the good ones there may be some that are equally good. However because of the way a particular players strengths what is a good move for him may be bad for a different player. Possibly because he is prone to particular errors that he can avoid needing to consider if he takes one of a number of equally good moves.

Jonathan, I'm interested to

Jonathan,

I'm interested to hear your views now that the threads have died down.

Sorry, I've been very busy.

Sorry, I've been very busy. I'll give you my thoughts in a new post sometime later this week. I still have a question or two to ask the audience before that.

One point that these threads

One point that these threads have skirted, is the concept of how morality came to be, in the first place. This will take some telling, I'm afraid.

Misha makes the point that in his view, absolute moral principles are a floating abstraction.

I submit the contrary..... that morals... yes, even the absolute ones... are founded in the long experience of trial and error,a dn as such are very practical and real.

Cultures which managed to learn the lessons about success and failure, decided, based on that experience, that X was the proper thing to do in a given situation,and that Y was not. These eventually ended up taking on the satus of a higher law...being called 'morality'. Those discovering and acting on such a relationship thrived.Those that didn't, weren't around very long.

And yes, I hear those of you wondering about religion and the influence of it on Morality. Misha seems particularly taken with the idea thta moraliyt is religion based, or as he says "pseudo religious".

That can go either way. But for the moment, let's take the secular point of view and suggest that both religious and areligious people were both a part of that same trial and error process... often part of the same societies, in fact. So, why should be be such a shock to find that each group agrees with the other on so many points of morality? (And at this point, it makes sense to add the question: Does it make sense for Secular society to drop a particular part of their morality simply because (gasp!) a religion happens to agree with that particular point of morality?

Misha also makes reference to "moralism gone wild with no concern for consequence.? apparently not understanding that morlaism is by nature, concern for consequence... and is based on the observence of the consequence of a particular action in a given situation.

The Plato Server" over at Stanford has an interesting, if not astoundigly accurate, read on the subject of morlaity, and the definition, thereof.

Bithead, Misha makes the

Bithead,

Misha makes the point that in his view, absolute moral principles are a floating abstraction. I submit the contrary?.. that morals? yes, even the absolute ones? are founded in the long experience of trial and error,a dn as such are very practical and real.

How is that contrary to my view? If something is founded on human experience and subject to trial and error, then it is subjective, not absolute and unchanging. Whether the subjectivity is specific to the individual or to the culture is irrelevent insofar as our purpose here is only to determine whether it is objective or subjective.

And yes, I hear those of you wondering about religion and the influence of it on Morality. Misha seems particularly taken with the idea thta moraliyt is religion based, or as he says ?pseudo religious?.

No, you misunderstood my purpose in comparing objective morality to religion. My criticism of objective morality is not that it is based upon religion, but that it suffers from the same epistemelogical and metaphysical flaws as religion.

Misha also makes reference to ?moralism gone wild with no concern for consequence.? apparently not understanding that morlaism is by nature, concern for consequence? and is based on the observence of the consequence of a particular action in a given situation.

This ignores one of the two main systems of morality: deontology. (The other being consequentialism, as you noted). Few consequentialists believe in objective moral principles, because they base their moral system on preferences and values as chosen by individuals. Deontologists, on the other hand, base their moral system on universal abstract values apart from the preferences of individuals, such as liberty, equality, etc.

I agree with Bitheads last

I agree with Bitheads last two posts.

Also, I think even absolute morals evolve.

"That was merely the

"That was merely the dictionary definition of those terms. I do not disapprove of an act simply because it is unlawful, although in most cases, an act is unlawful because a significant portion of society (or at least those with political power) disapproves.

You said those words accurately describe the actions at issue, and the common element in the definitions you offered was unlawfulness. If those words don't accurately describe the actions at issue then, *again*, why did you use them?

Is taxation theft? Not by the definition you offered since it is clearly lawful. Do you object to taxation for the same reason you object to theft?

If you object to taxation for the same reason you object to theft and taxation is not theft then why would would you say the word theft accurately describes what you object to?

Human nature is the nature

Human nature is the nature all men share in common.

What is it about an organism that would lead you to call it a man? It's that you recognize the organism shares human nature.

"3. Given the ever changing

"3. Given the ever changing environment in which we live, how are we to find a rigid set of values? er, sorry, VALUES to be applicable in every situation"

The answer is implicit in your question. Why are you applying your rational faculty to this question? Why are you even considering every situation?

"The problem of truth

"The problem of truth and human fellowship is important for democratic societies; it seems to me to be particularly important for this country (the USA-E.B.), where men and women coming from a great diversity of national stocks and religious or philosophical creeds have to live together. If each one of them endeavored to impose his own convictions and the truth in which he believes on all his co-citizens, would not living together become impossible? That is obviously right. Well, it is easy, too easy, to go a step further, and to ask: if each one sticks to his own convictions, will not each one endeavor to impose his own convictions on all others? So that, as a result, living together will become impossible if any citizen whatever sticks to his own convictions and believes in a given truth?

Thus it is not unusual to meet people who think that NOT TO BELIEVE IN ANY TRUTH, or NOT TO ADHERE FIRMLY TO ANY ASSERTION AS UNSHAKABLY TRUE IN ITSELF (Maritain's emphasis), is a primary condition required of democratic citizens in order to be tolerant of one another and to live in peace with one another. May I say that these people are in fact the most intolerant people, for if perchance they were to believe in something as unshakably true, they would feel compelled, by the same stroke, to impose by force and coercion their own belief on their co-citizens. The only remedy they have found to get rid of their abiding tendency to fanaticism is to cut themselves off from truth. That is a suicidal method. It is a suicidal conception of democracy: not only would a democratic society which lived on universal skepticism condemn itself to death by starvation; but it would also enter a process of self-annihilation, from the very fact that no democratic society can live without a common practical belief in those truths which are freedom, justice, law, and the other tenets of democracy; and that any belief in these things as objectively and unshakably true, as well as in any other kind of truth, would be brought to naught by the presumed law of universal skepticism...

Be it a question of science, metaphysics, or religion, (or political ethics, as in Maritain's essay-E.B.) the man who says: "What is truth?" as Pilate did, is not a tolerant man, but a betrayer of the human race. There is real and genuine tolerance only when a man is firmly and absolutely convinced of a truth, or of what he holds to be a truth, and when he at the same time recognizes the right of those who deny this truth to exist, and to contradict him, and to speak their own mind, not because they are free from truth but because they seek truth in their own way, and because he respects in them human nature and human dignity and those very resources and living springs of the intellect and of conscience which make them potentially capable of attaining the truth he loves, if someday they happen to see it. (Jacques Maritain, "Truth and Human Fellowship." in ON THE USE OF PHILOSOPHY: THREE ESSAYS. (New York: Atheneum) 1965 pp. 17-18, 24)

Is Britney Spears

Is Britney Spears objectively or subjectively a good singer? If you say it is a purely objective fact I beg to differ as I think she stinks.

Where's the contradiction if one of us is simply wrong about how good she is? It doesn't contradict objectivity if I think she's taller than you but you think she isn't.

If I say it is purely subjective fact then the fact that she is a successful professional contradicts me.

Why? If you sell more vanilla ice cream than french vanilla ice cream this week will that one is objectively better than the other?

To say she is a subjectively good or bad singer isn't really coherent anyway, if the matter is subjective you're only stating a preference not making an evaluation. Good and bad imply a standard.

Even using your definition objective/subjective I don?t know which to choose because ?dependent on opinion? is an ambiguous definition. Do you mean solely dependent on opinion or partially dependent on opinion? Whose opinion?

Individual opinion. Whatever is available to be apprehended independent of individual opinion is objective. You are the authority on whether you prefer french vanilla to vanilla, and you are the authority on whether you prefer prefer rape to consensual sex, but you are not the authority on whether rape is wrong nor does consensus of individual opinions produce such authority. But you are equipped to discover that rape is wrong regardless of anyone's opinion.

"Possibly because he is

"Possibly because he is prone to particular errors that he can avoid needing to consider if he takes one of a number of equally good moves."

Equally good moves are still equally good. That he has reason to prefer one, or even an inferior move, dosn't change that.

Now of course there is a context. What are you trying to do? Are you trying to play the best chess you are capable of or to defeat your current opponent? In the long run you'll do better if you attempt the former, but today an inferior chess move might give you the best chance of winning.

(....Ah, this is better.

(....Ah, this is better. Thanks to our host for fixing the CSS issues.)

Misha;

No, I'm not really arguing for subjective morailty, per se'. I'm saying that some aspects of it are subjective to the culture. That's the first step.

The second step is a bit harder in the explaining;
We know that some cultures thrive and some fail. I would argue that to the greatest of degrees, this is due to the values of that culture. Their morality, if you will.

It's been noted by smarter folks than I, that the morality, among successful cultures, tend to each contain many of the same set of cultural values; these successful cultures tend to agree on many if not most basic points of their respective morality structures.

Question: The amount of time over which these things took shape tends to argue against them being arbitrary. So, it seems logical to ask; Are they successful because they have each, by means of observation and deduction over time, stumbled onto a truth... a moral value that transends cultural sway, in much the same way as Newton discovered HIS laws, and recorded them?

Further, Can such a observation of trial and consequence that transcends all cultures, be considered objective?

The invoking of Newton brings up another issue which is interesting; Newtonian physics are subjective to being here on earth. Implications to my thoughts as expressed here are debateable.