Morality can sometimes be objective

To continue the offshooting discussion/debate from the other thread ‘Suing over Bhudda.’

Edited update, I no longer hold this position, read below as to why.

1 Like

We could start with someone giving an example of something that is objectively moral or immoral. In fact we could end with it, as this would prove that morality can be objective, and I am dubious.

Here is as good an argument that morals are subjective as I’ve seen, it’s a YouTube video, but don’t be put off, and I have to say I share this young man’s position completely.

For balance, here is a YouTube video arguing the opposit e position, that I did not find at all compelling, and i will explain why.

So he starts with with a circular reasoning fallacy, by saying that if morality is subjective then no morality would be possible, and we could morally justify any position, and even rape and murder would be totally acceptable within society. Hmmm

If you think this fallacious argument has any merit, then you could try the argument in a court of law, though I’d not recommend it, as I think you will find it has neither rational nor legal merit. Accepting that my morality is subjective, does not mean I can behave as a I like, he is demonstrably and rationally wrong.

He goes on to make an appeal to emotion about animal suffering, and then makes a broad and unevidenced assumption about most people, without of course any objective evidence. He seems to think that feeling strongly that something is immoral, is sufficient to claim it is objectively immoral, one wonders if he has ever heard of religions, Nazis, or the Holocaust? Put simply, subjective opinions do not become objective because people are emotionally invested in them, and of course most of us are emotionally invested in what we believe to be moral.

It gets worse, he goes on to say “morality should be easily defined by whether our actions have a victim or not.” Well it isn’t is it, or else there’d be no victims, he seems to be equating what he subjectively thinks is moral, with objective morality, it’s very weak and emotive argument so far.

1:48 in “we can’t morally justify an action if it causes suffering and if it is unnecessary” Except people can and do, so again he is simply wrong, what he means is he holds the subjective position that it is morally indefensible. FYI so do I, but that is a subjective opinion I hold, as of course I am entitled to do.

1:59 He is making the mistake over and over of assuming his subjective moral position is objective, because he sees no objective justification in the opposite position, again his reasoning is circular.

He goes on to condemn the notion that morality is subjective, as a “very dangerous philosophy and way to live your life”, except that this is a subjective opinion, and what’s more it is not borne out by the evidence. Since I acknowledge that my morality is entirely subjective, yet I don’t disregard the morals of the society I live in, which he asserts is an inevitable consequence.

Basically if you aren’t a vegan you’re immoral, and must know it, as his position is objectively moral because he says it is. I must say this was an emotive appeal for people to stop eating meat and become vegan, nothing wrong with that at all, but sadly he tried to claim his passionate belief in the morality of his position as evidence it was an objectively moral position, which it demonstrably is not.


Morality can sometimes be objective

Yeah. in fact that was the point of the simple question I asked. What I presented was an objective moral rule. Admittedly a rather stupid and useless one; but it’s existence indicates that it is possible. The hard part is making a useful one and keeping it objective.


You mean it is objectively true that we can’t say that anyone whose name starts with n is evil? I agree this is objectively true, but I suspect it is because morality relates to actions, and not names, though of course evil is also a subjective term, and I couldn’t guarantee there is nobody out there who holds the subjective view that names starting with n imply the owner has nefarious intent. As I said you don’t seem many babies Christened Judas, yet the name can’t imply anything morally about the owner.

If one is going to argue for objective morality, I’d think it best to start with actions that are almost universally reviled as morally turpitude, child abuse for example. Though of course even with this example, it is objectively true that some people hold the subjective view it is not immoral. One could try the Holocaust of course, but then William Lane Craig is an apologist for biblical genocide, and he believes in objective morality, and the Nazis obviously thought it was moral to commit genocide, so again it’s hard to imagine any action that can be demonstrated to be objectively moral. While it is trivially easy to come up with examples of objective ways to achieve what one believes subjectively to be moral of course.

If you use my (foolish) rule, with the facts (a list of user names) you will reach the identical conclusions I reach when I do the same. That is a property an objective set of rules will have.

1 Like

After taking the rest of the evening, and most of this morning chewing this over, and rereading everyones comments, watching Alex O’Conners videos, the one posted here, and his deconstruction of Sam Harris’s stance on morality.

I find, I can’t even begin to hold the position that morality is ever objective.

So, with that being said I no longer hold that position.

Morality is always subjective.

One of the most simplistic arguements for this, which I found to be the final nail in the coffin would be; ‘To me it’s simple. If every sentient being disappears, will morality still exist? If the answer is no, then morality is subjective.’

That is most certainly a defeater for the position that ‘morality can sometimes be objective.’

Now, that being said, I will be reorganising my arguments against choosing to eat meat, so they aren’t reliant on objective morality, and I will be keen to debate this with anyone who is willing. (Count to a thousand, because I am not ready yet. :smile_cat:)


Yeah the simplest points are often the most devastating, that kid knows his onions for sure…


I suspect this reasoning would not work with theists as their god(s), they might think, still exist(s).

1 Like

Well of course, but they would be evading the hypothetical scenario.

If no sentient being exists, then in the scenario, their god(s) would not exist.

To answer as if the god(s) exist regardless, is simply a dodge, and only serves to highlight their own intellectual dishonesty in the matter.

He deals with the religious claims for objective morality as well in that video, it’s worth a watch.

1 Like

Oh wow? Universally? I am reminded of my sociology classes. There is a tribe, I don’t recall the name and don’t want to do the research, where the young boys are taken into the forest, as a rite of passage. They are taken there by the men of the tribe. Once in the forest, they are raped, sodomized, and brutally beaten. After surviving, they become men.

Just saying, definitions of what is abusive can vary.

Otherwise, we are in complete agreement. I am not aware of anything called ‘objective’ in the sense of morality. Is there any moral sense that is universally held? I think ‘child abuse’ is a good one but this tribe does not view what they are doing as abusive.

Then there is the long history of circumcision. Hmmm? It was after all the moral and Godly thing to do.

I did say almost universally. this is the point, even when you offer people claiming objective or absolute morals exist, something that there is almost universal agreement on, it is still subjective.

Indeed they can, a better example of the subjective nature of morality would be hard to find.

Even were it universally held, it would still be subjective, this was another error he @christianapologist kept making, he kept wrongly conflating a consensus of subjective opinion with objective. That’s why I handed him his best example of a behaviour that is almost universally accepted as immoral.

If one wanted to claim the deity depicted in the bible is perfectly moral, one would have to accept a barbarically cruel standard we would never accept for humans, special pleading fallacy anyone? @christianapologist didn’t seem to understand this when it was explained, or didn’t want to of course.

1 Like

Well, while I agree with this, I think it can be shown that once there is widespread agreement upon what constitutes “moral” within a particular framework, then the means to accomplish such could be viewed as objective.
Personally, slapping the shit out of “deserving” people is entirely moral…others might disagree.

1 Like

It is true that we can agree on objective ways to achieve morality, but it is entirely subjective that what we are striving to achieve is in fact moral.

Exactly, they might and do, as they have a subjective view of what is moral as well, as do we all. Even if a deity existed, I don’t see how morality would be objective.


Agreed…fourteen characters


Hmmm? Like baptizing your baby before it burns in hell? (I do understand what you mean.) I seriously wonder if we will ever get there or even if it is a worthwhile endeavor. Still… people try. (Some of them.)


I believe that morality is subjective, but I find myself confused by your statement about sentient beings.

If all sentient beings disappeared, we would still have animals. . . and even ants seem to follow a moral code, as they defend and protect each other, they share food with each other, they practice self-sacrifice, and they generally refrain from killing each other as well (or at least within the same colony).

They have very, very primitive brains, yet they follow a moral code (it may be genetically hard-wired, but it’s still a moral code).

I could make similar arguments about even more primitive life such as the Portugese Man 'O War jellyfish which–as a siphonophore–is a colonial organism.

So I don’t believe in objective morality, but I see flaws in your points about sentient beings.

Or do I misunderstand?

1 Like

Not to mention all those angels and the millions of souls in heaven and in hell. Its nice not to have to be reliant on logic.

1 Like

I believe there is a completely rational form of objective morality.

It is based, at its core, the objective facts about reality, and build from there.

Could you give me one example of something that is objectively moral, or immoral? I only ask because I have never seen an example. Though I’d accept that we can make objective decisions about how best to achieve what we perceive as moral, or how to avoid what we perceive as immoral.

Think of something that you think us unquestionably moral, or immoral as these seem the more popular choice, and then ask why it is moral or immoral, I have never been able to do this without going immediately to a second subjective claim about what is moral or immoral.

1 Like