Objective & subjective
Recently I was interviewed by Adam Reakes for his show, The Herd Mentality.
You can listen to it here.
Adam is an atheist, but I thoroughly enjoyed the debate (not surprisingly it still has a bit to go!) and I thank him for the invitation and courtesy he extended to me. During the interview we touched on the question of whether morality is subjective or objective.
Adam has asked his listeners to provide their input, and I am also interested in what readers of this blog think.
This is what I put to Adam in an email after the interview:
During the interview we spoke briefly about the burka and Saudi culture. You believe that a decision re: the burka should be made on the assessment about what is better for society.
But why is that a reasonable basis for making a decision? If there is no objective truth and all things are subjective, couldn’t another person argue just as rationally, logically and with as much validity that the decision should be made for a different reason entirely: the best interest of themselves personally (which is a factor that could be considered logical). Or even for some random, illogical reason (such as for whatever makes the most butterflies).
Also, who is the authority to make the decision about what is in the best interests of society?
Why is your assessment better than mine? Or why is mine better than yours? In fact, in a world of subjective morality, rather than objective morality, why should any person be forced to accept the view of others on any issue?
I’m not saying that atheists do not have a sense or morality. But if there is no God, then they are only moral by their standards. They are not actually moral by any objective standards and neither is anyone else. And if all standards are subjective, then all are good or bad, not based on any truth, but only on the view of the beholder. That means any action can be good or bad at the same time.
So while you might argue that the Bedouin practice of moving in formation of old women, young girls, wives, sheep, young men and then male tribal elders to ensure that the least important are killed first if landmines are encountered is an evil, wrong practice because women are not less important than sheep, the elder might argue in return that they are less important because sheep are part of the tribe’s wealth and it is in the best interests of all the tribe that the wealth is preserved.
In a subjective world, wouldn’t both of you be right? And wrong at the same time?
More importantly, in a subjective world, what does it really matter? In 80 years both sides of the argument will be dead, it will be gone and of no consequence to anyone. So in the long view, whatever decision is made is meaningless, it has no impact on good or bad, except for what counted at the time of the decision and the whim of the decision maker.
I believe in objective reality. Subjective reality means that there is no good, no evil and no justice.
That clearly does not match the world we live in.
What are your thoughts?