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Hey so I'm actually writing a paper on the biological basis of morality and am taking an evolutionary standpoint on it. So my premise is based upon the fact that all living beings have the intrinsic need to survive and reproduce, which is what natural selection is based upon. Also, it has been researched that species (using the definition of organisms that can breed with each other and produce viable offspring) care for each other and co-operate with each other to ensure the survival of their own species. Now I believe that this would lead to one objective moral truth that we ought to care for the well being of our species. I know this commits the is ought fallacy but I believe it can be overlooked in this case since this behavior of survival and reproduction can be observed in all species that we know of to date. Do you think this Is a fairly viable standpoint to take or am I missing something essential?

When you say that "species...care for each other and co-operate with each other to ensure the survival of their own species," I take it you're referring not to all species (including all plants, all microbes, all invertebrates, etc.) but only to those species whose members care for each other and cooperate with each other, which may be a minority of the species that exist. Anyway, you ask whether something like the following argument is "fairly viable": 1. The members of all species [of the restricted kind referred to above] act so as to promote the survival of their own species. 2. Therefore: We humans ought to act so as to promote the survival of our own species. As you seem to recognize, the argument isn't logically valid: The premise doesn't logically imply the conclusion. But the argument can be made logically valid by inserting a premise, such as P. We humans ought to do what the members of all species [of the restricted kind referred to above] do. One problem is that P itself is highly...

On theory that I've heard for the justification of ethics and moral responsibility in a deterministic viewpoint was that they would act as a kind of "conditioning" to make society better (i.e. we reward for the hope of them doing good and the future and punish so they refrain from doing bad). Are there any arguments against this viewpoint, and are there any other arguments for moral responsibility from a deterministic perspective?

This purely instrumental justification for assigning moral responsibility is typical of hard determinism, which says that, because determinism is true, agents are never morally responsible for their actions, even though society can benefit from talking and acting as if they were. One obvious objection is that it would be dishonest and unfair to treat agents as morally responsible if in fact they are not. But there is another deterministic view of moral responsibility: soft determinism. It says that agents can be genuinely morally responsible for their actions, even though determinism is true, provided that the agents (1) act from motives that they would endorse on reflection, (2) know what they are doing, and (3) are not coerced by other agents. All of (1)-(3) are compatible with determinism. For this reason, soft determinism is a compatibilist attitude toward determinism and moral responsibility. It avoids the charge that assigning moral responsibility is dishonest and unfair. You can...

My question regards the notion of negative rights. Personally, I believe the notion of “rights” is itself a human creation, and that rights do not ultimately exist outside of this creation. Rights come from nowhere else but humans. This being the case would seem to imply that all rights would, by definition, be positive, even if means determining a right not to do something. Humans desicion-making process itself entails deciding to do, or not to do something, or allowing, or not allowing something to be done, all of which have been positively decided. What am I not understanding?

As best I can tell, you may be confusing two different senses of the word "positive." When philosophers refer to your "positive" right, as opposed to your "negative" right, they typically mean your right to have some good or service provided to you, as opposed to your right not to be interfered with in some activity. So (putting it a bit simplistically perhaps) a right to adequate health care would be a positive right, while a right to speak freely in a public park would be a negative right. But philosophers also use the word "positive" to label rights that are conferred by explicit human decrees, such as rights conferred on citizens by the decrees of legislatures or courts. The contrast is often with "natural" rights, which are supposed to be rights that we possess regardless of any human decree. You seem to be saying that all of our rights are positive rights in this second sense, which -- even if true -- wouldn't imply that all of our rights are positive rights in the first sense. A legislature or...

I'm told it's arguable that when people say, "Water is H20", what they mean is, "The stuff from around here that we call water has the molecular structure H2O." Well, what about ethical claims? When people say "Killing is wrong", do they really mean "Killing is wrong in all circumstances, times and places"? Or are they saying something more like, "According to the normal values from around here, killing is wrong"?

One might ask why people would hedge the original claim, "Water is H2O," and intend to assert only the presumably weaker claim "The stuff from around here that we call 'water' has the molecular structure H2O." Is it that they don't want to identify water with the molecule H2O but merely want to assert that water is constituted by molecules of H2O? Or is it that they want to hedge against possibilities like Hilary Putnam's Twin Earth, where what the residents call "water" is macroscopically just like H2O but is in fact identical to (or constituted by) a different molecule that Putnam abbreviates "XYZ"? Either of those reasons for hedging the original claim seems to me to be too abstruse to explain the hedging (if any) done by ordinary speakers of the language. But I can't think of a third explanation. So I'm not sure how to compare this case to the assertion "Killing is wrong" or to the hedged version, "According to the normal values around here, killing is wrong." My hunch about ordinary...

Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist. Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist. Conclusion: Therefore, God exists. Can we accept the conclusion above as valid or even fact?

The argument itself is logically valid -- indeed, formally valid. It uses only modus tollens and the rule that "P" and "~ ~ P" are equivalent, both of which are valid rules of inference. However, I think the argument is unsound -- and therefore I think it fails to establish its conclusion -- because Premise 1 is false, at least if Premise 1 is meant as a strict conditional. (I think it's also false if it's meant as a material conditional, but that's more controversial.) For excellent discussion of Premise 1, I recommend this article and this collection of essays .

Is it consistent to be a libertarian while opposing suicide on moral grounds?

I'm no expert on libertarianism in political philosophy, but I think I can answer this one: Yes. As I understand it, political libertarianism is a position concerning the legitimate power of the state. One can consistently oppose suicide on moral grounds while maintaining that the state has no business interfering with suicide. One can consistently think that, for various reasons, one morally ought not commit suicide while also thinking that the law should keep out of it. Indeed, a particularly strong distinction between "immoral" and "illegal" seems to lie at the heart of the libertarian outlook.

Why do we consider lying to be illogical even when it can produce good? I can think of many examples where lying can do more good than harm especially when its used for the benefit of others and not for selfesh gain. CAL

I'm not sure that most people consider lying to be illogical even when it can produce good. More likely they consider lying to be presumptively immoral , and they allow that the moral presumption against lying is overridden in some circumstances. Take a case of the kind you described: imagine lying to a known murderer about the (nearby) location of the next innocent person he's seeking to murder. In that case, I'd agree that the moral presumption against lying is overridden by the good of protecting the innocent person. All else being equal, one shouldn't lie. But sometimes all else isn't equal. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is a famous philosopher who holds that lying is never morally okay: that the moral presumption against lying is never overridden. In fact, he argues that lying is illogical in a particular sense. I don't find his argument compelling, but you can learn more about it in this SEP entry ; see especially section 5.

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