Objective Moral Values: Two Views

This is essentially a rewording of last week’s poem, in the form of an argument.

The Naturalist’s View

1. The purpose of an object or entity is defined as the reason for which that object or entity exists.

2. The reason for which an object or entity exists can be inferred from its eventual outcome, determinable at some sufficiently distant future.

3. On naturalism, from 1 and 2, the purpose of the universe is to achieve heat death.

4. Objective moral values – if they exist within our universe – must serve to achieve or advance the purpose of our universe.

5. On naturalism, objective moral values – if they exist within our universe – must serve to increase entropy (from 3 and 4).

The Christian’s View

1. The purpose of an object or entity is defined as the reason for which that object or entity exists.

2, The reason for which an object or entity exists can be inferred from its eventual outcome, determinable at some sufficiently distant future.

3. On Christianity, from 1 and 2, the purpose of the universe is to bring glory to God, through its redemption and renewal.

4. Objective moral values – if they exist within our universe – must serve to achieve or advance the purpose of our universe.

5. On Christianity, objective moral values – if they exist within our universe – must serve to glorify God (from 3 and 4).

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3 thoughts on “Objective Moral Values: Two Views

  1. Hi Matt,

    This is gross misrepresentation of Naturalism. Without going into the detail of the variations on Naturalism the underlying principle is precisely NOT what you have written here. Naturalism does not see any intent or purpose, and does not see any entity which might be construed as having intent or purpose.

    1. The purpose of an object or entity is defined as the reason for which that object or entity exists.

    There may or may not be causes that cause an object/entity to exist. Tracing back through the chain of causes may lead to some eternal existence of some entity with no cause itself, and no purpose. No one knows. We’re guessing.

    2. The reason for which an object or entity exists can be inferred from its eventual outcome, determinable at some sufficiently distant future.

    No. We can infer causes, and then only to the extent that evidence weighs in favour of causes rather than mere abundant correlation. But it is still reliant on information about the nature of causation that we don’t have.

    And, your statement conflates two meanings of ‘reason’: a reason as merely an unintended cause (e.g. the ‘reason’ the curtain moved, the cause of its moving, is that the wind disturbed it) and a reason as a purpose or intent of what we deem to be an agent (e.g. the curtain moved because Jane wafted it, for the purpose of scaring me – her ‘reason’ for doing it was to scare me). Naturalism is about causes, not purpose or intent. The second meaning is grounded in human interpretation of natural biological behaviour, caused behaviour, as freely willed intent – but there is no good reason (argument) for sticking with this interpretation.

    3. On naturalism, from 1 and 2, the purpose of the universe is to achieve heat death.

    No. The heat death is the end result for this particular universe. It says nothing about anything else. And, because of your errors in 1 and 2 this is not the ‘purpose’ of the universe, merely its predicted outcome.

    4. Objective moral values – if they exist within our universe – must serve to achieve or advance the purpose of our universe.

    ‘if they exist within our universe’ – There is no evidence they do, a lot of evidence that they don’t and that they are instead human cultural constructs, and (often distorted by religion) adaptations of early biological behaviours, that by their emotive effect have persuaded us to put great significance in them.

    The evidence of morals being human constructs based on biological precursors suggest that morals are a natural by-product of a natural universe, not a cause of its outcomes.

    5. On naturalism, objective moral values – if they exist within our universe – must serve to increase entropy (from 3 and 4).

    No. Fails on any link to 5 from any or all of 1 – 4. This is pure echoing of made-up Christian stuff being applied incorrectly to Naturalism. Specifically, your 3 links to the wiki page on Naturalism. Where is morality discussed there? It is mentioned only once, and then it is explaining a Christian perspective.

    The Christian View: putting ‘Christianity’ in there doesn’t make these statements any more correct. They may be how you want the universe to be, but they are clearly just assertions.

  2. True, it’s a misrepresentation. There is a basic rule of good argumentation – never say what your opponent believes. Always ask. You could suggest something you think naturalists believe, but it must always be tentative. You must always ask for confirmation.

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