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Atheists Overreach ... Why do they do that?

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by 2PhiloVoid, Aug 24, 2019.

  1. gaara4158

    gaara4158 I prefer you trust your reason.

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    Well, it’s good to know that we nonbelievers do have some form of virtue ethics at our disposal even if we don’t assert any form of theism. Talking about virtues with theists can feel like walking in a minefield sometimes, since they will often deny that we can have any sort of solid basis for our moral posturings. It’s very possible I’ve just been conditioned to grant subjectivism from the beginning to avoid the blast! ^_^

    Still, I too find it difficult to get from the kind of virtue ethics an atheist can coherently assert to an actual declaration of universal human rights. I think we can make a good case for the benefits of UHR being recognized even if it’s merely a human invention, and that’s plenty for me. I’m actually more comfortable accepting things like that if there’s an explanation for why it’s a good thing as opposed to a bare declaration that it is.
     
  2. Ana the Ist

    Ana the Ist Aggressively serene!

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    It doesn't sound like the majority of those picked up by "rescue ships" are actually drowning. They're simply afloat in the Mediterranean waiting for someone to pick them up.


    I don't think it's intended to make people drown....it's to deny them landing and then applying for asylum. They can certainly land elsewhere and Italy isn't stopping them. There also seems to be a question of whether or not these "humanitarian workers" are working with smugglers.

    As much as you might want Italy to help everyone who arrives on their shores...you do understand that simply isn't possible, right? It's a nation of around 60 million people. They cannot realistically care for the population of just one African or Arabic nation.

    I understand why you might think that they should just change some asylum laws and reject people after they arrive and send them back....but my guess is the EU has more say on asylum laws in Italy than Italy does.

    That leaves them with a difficult choice of leaving the EU (which is bad for Italy)....breaking the international laws they agreed to (which is bad for Italy)....or trying to keep people from landing in Italy (which is bad for migrants). It's not hard to understand why they chose to keep people from landing.
     
  3. Silmarien

    Silmarien Existentialist

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    You do realize that 2000-3000 migrants do drown in the Mediterranean every year, I hope? "Simply afloat" is a strange way to word it--that could apply both to someone on a sturdy, safe ship and someone floating on a piece of driftwood. Are you saying that both should be left to their own devices unless they are literally flailing around in the water drowning? Once you're at that point, it's a little too late for a rescue ship.

    One of the arguments put forth in the article I linked was that we actually ought to let people drown in the Mediterranean, as it would serve as a disincentive for attempting the crossing. That is very much proposing a policy intentionally aimed at letting people drown.

    When did I say that I wanted Italy to help everyone who arrived at their shores? You are conflating two issues here: how to keep people from drowning in the Mediterranean, and what to do with them after they are on European soil. I am fairly flexible on the second question, but I do not think intentionally letting people drown is an appropriate response to the current refugee crisis.

    You may disagree with that, but given that you are also a moral subjectivist, I think we're on the same page here. Drop the absolutism of something like universal human dignity, and it becomes easy to say that 3000 deaths in the Mediterranean is an acceptable price to pay. This is the point I've been trying to make all along, so thank you for highlighting it.
     
  4. Ana the Ist

    Ana the Ist Aggressively serene!

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    Sure.

    Obviously I can't speak for the conditions of every migrant boat. I'm sure there are those which are quite seaworthy and capable of making it to shore. I have seen, however, what appear to be liferafts meant for no more than 4-8 people that are stuffed with 20 or more including those who are barely hanging on. It's my understanding that migrants have set out in this manner...that it's not a situation where they abandoned a larger seaworthy craft.

    In those cases...or really any cases...who is responsible/at fault should the migrants drown? I'm hoping that we both agree it's the migrants fault alone.


    It seemed rather clear to me that the point being made was that if transportation is made safer....that only exacerbates the problem. I happen to agree, because we faced a similar problem here in the states.

    The idea was that by prosecuting all those who entered illegally and separating them from their children (because we don't jail children) we could de-incentivize illegal immigration. The backlash and moral outrage against this was rather strong....and the policy was ended rather quickly.

    The result was the creation of an entire child trafficking enterprise south of our border. Homeless women in Tijuana are afraid of letting their children out of their sight because they've had multiple offers from smugglers to buy them. A child can be bought for the purpose of being used as a passport into the US in Honduras for a mere 80$.

    In attempting to be more "humane" we've essentially helped create a situation that is far less humane, and far more immoral than "child separation".

    Is it possible that by plucking people out of the water delivering them ashore....the humanitarians in the Mediterranean have created a system that encourages more people to risk their lives and ultimately drown? Of course it's possible...it might even be likely.


    Are you flexible on the second question? If Italy deported all those who were saved from the Mediterranean....would you find that acceptable? How about if they simply managed to cut them completely out of Italian society? As in, they made it so they cannot work or receive any public assistance of any kind and let them starve in the streets?

    If you don't accept either of those options....and I suspect that you don't....then you are expecting Italy to help them in some way, aren't you?

    We're all moral relativists....I'm just honest about it. Have you seen the reports of the Bahamas lately? People shooting and robbing each other over food and water? I've no doubt that 6 months ago those same people would have claimed some universal morality that included the idea of basic human decency.

    It reminds me of the story of the two women in Kings. The one where the city is besieged and a mother and her son trick another mother and her son into cannibalism to survive. Do you know the story? I'm curious which mother you find more immoral.

    The truth is that you simply don't know....no one does....whether pulling migrants from the Mediterranean does more good than bad. I think perhaps you should simply count yourself lucky you need not make those choices.
     
  5. Ana the Ist

    Ana the Ist Aggressively serene!

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    Sorry, the man who bought the child was Honduran.....but the child was Guatemalan.

    Honduran migrant, 51, bought a baby for $80 in Guatemala so that he could seek asylum at U.S. border | Daily Mail Online
     
  6. Silmarien

    Silmarien Existentialist

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    No, I disagree quite strongly that "it's their own fault; let them drown" is a morally responsible position.

    I disagree again. I do not think that potential child trafficking in Latin America makes child separation a morally responsible policy here. I would say that our moral responsibility extends to our own deeds, not to those of whatever smugglers out there are trying to make a profit on a bad situation.

    I am Augustinian. I don't believe we're actually capable of being perfectly moral, so while I do think that the morally correct option would be to welcome the stranger, I do have concerns about the state operating under the assumption that its citizens are morally good. People do have a tendency to become xenophobic when put under pressure.

    So no, I am not completely opposed to deportation, though I don't think we should pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on a job well done.

    No, I am definitely a moral absolutist, but like I said, also an Augustinian. There's no contradiction at all between being a moral realist and thinking that people are ultimately not good.

    That is an interesting question. Probably the first one, the one who was deceitful also, but it's really a toss up.

    Whereas I think that perhaps we should both consider ourselves lucky that we're not the ones trying to cross the Mediterranean on a raft.

    In any case, I think it would be more interesting if a secular humanist were to debate you on these points, since my position is actually that universal human dignity is untenable in the absence of divine revelation. I think you would present an interesting challenge for the secular humanists around here who do still want to defend universal human rights.

    @gaara4158, would you be interested in tackling this?
     
  7. Ana the Ist

    Ana the Ist Aggressively serene!

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    That wasn't the question....

    It is a question of moral responsibility. If you go running into a burning house and you end up burned or dead....that's your fault....not the fault of anyone who didn't save you.

    You are responsible for your own actions....just like 20 migrants on a rowboat off the coast of Africa.


    What do you mean "potential"? That is the result of policy decisions.

    Unless you're a group of migrants, apparently.

    "Welcome the stranger"? I asked you whether or not you believe help/assistance should be provided to those rescued...and you respond with "welcome the stranger".

    I'm going to assume that you mean "yes...help/assistance should be provided". After all, I don't think you're claiming they should be saved from the relatively quick death of drowning only to endure the slower agonizing death by starvation once on land.

    With that, you can drop the accusations of conflating different issues. You aren't merely claiming that people should be plucked from the water to avoid drowning.

    I've no doubt you genuinely believe that.


    I tend to lean towards the mother who sacrificed her son. She was deceived, to be sure, but her behavior is infanticide...which seems a greater moral wrong than deception.

    I'm curious why you lean the other way? Is it because you see the infanticide as a direct consequence of the deception? If you answer nothing else I'd appreciate an answer to this ...




    Who consider themselves lucky compared to those who have to try to cross the Sahara before getting to the Mediterranean. There's always someone who has it worse.

    I suppose the larger question left here is why did they flee to Europe and not to any other direction they could have?


    What do you suppose the difference is? It's much the same conversation either way.
     
  8. Silmarien

    Silmarien Existentialist

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    If the state has the means to fund fire departments and doesn't think such a thing is a worthwhile usage of its resources, then it has a moral responsibility when people die in fires. If someone is living in a precarious building with poor fire safety provisions because they cannot afford anything else, and a city effectively says, "You chose to live there, we're not going to patrol that area, and furthermore, we're going to prosecute any vigilante fire fighter who wants to help you," then it is the state who is committing a moral wrong.

    Not really. To borrow from legal terminology, the policy is not serving as a proximate cause here. It might be true that the policy is a necessary condition for this type of smuggling to take place, but it is not itself the direct cause of the harm. The existence of a moral actor, the smuggler, means that there is a very clear break in the chain of responsibility.

    Of course migrants are morally responsible for their deeds. It's not morally acceptable to buy children off the black market because you're a migrant.

    Except that you are conflating different issues. Again, there's an entire theological aspect of my thought here, because I view the world as fallen. I do not think it's possible to be truly moral, so there is a difference between what I think Italy ought to do, and what I think it can be reasonably expected to do as a bare minimum.

    Italy should certainly do more than pluck people out of the water to avoid drowning, but if that is too much of a burden on its social structures, then deportation is an understandable, if morally suboptimal, solution. Leaving vast numbers of migrants starving to death on the streets of Rome, on the other hand, is an idiotic solution even on a consequentialist calculus, since it's likely to end up in civil unrest and possibly an epidemic.

    Sure, and if we want to insinuate that people don't really believe what they think they believe, I could just as easily quote Romans 1:18 and tell you that you're a moral abolutist who is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

    Because it doesn't specify that it was the mother who killed him. All it says is that they both cooked him, so I interpret the murder as a joint endeavor. They have shared responsibility for that, but only one has further compounded the moral guilt with deception.

    I don't see that as a relevant question at all, unless we think that it is only the Europeans who ought to be helping refugees. If they're risking their lives fleeing in a different direction, and many no doubt are, then other people ought to help them instead.

    Do you know many secular humanists whose starting point is theology? We're operating under completely different paradigms, and I'm skeptical that we have enough common ground to be able to have a conversation at all.
     
  9. gaara4158

    gaara4158 I prefer you trust your reason.

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    I’m definitely interested in getting to this, but it might be a few days before I get the chance. In the meantime, carry on!
     
  10. Ana the Ist

    Ana the Ist Aggressively serene!

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    I would generally agree...because that is a part of why governments and nations are created. They exist because a group of people with a shared culture, shared interests, and shared beliefs recognize their commonalities and join together to promote and protect their interests.

    The people we're talking about are foreigners though....and the state of Italy has no obligation to them. Italy exists for the Italians....and as axiomatic as that sounds, it is true. The interests of foreigners will always fall well behind the interests of Italians. It is the duty of the Italian government to make choices based upon that principle.


    I don't know another way to put this....the child smuggling happens because of the policy. Men are buying children to get released once they cross the border. If the policy didn't exist....they wouldn't be buying children, smuggling them, and lying about being their father.


    Then the same must be said of those migrants who fail to adequately plan to cross the Mediterranean and drown. They know it's a risk....they took it anyway. The prevalence or lack of rescuers doesn't change their responsibility.


    We're definitely talking about the latter...as I don't see much to discuss with the former. Perhaps I'm assuming too much though...if you're truly only concerned about saving people from the imminent risk of drowning (a situation they put themselves in) would you be satisfied if instead of being taken ashore in Italy, they were returned to a location reasonably close to where they entered the Mediterranean? Yes, this would mean they are returned to the nation they are fleeing sometimes and yes, they would likely be taking the same risk again soon.

    All of which costs money as well. I think the problem politicians have is that once they are in country....they can engage in all sorts of behavior in an attempt to stay, making deportation a long and potentially expensive process.



    Lol sure....you could....but there's a difference between an unsupported claim and something evident. I mean, even the Christian god himself appears to be a moral relativist.

    All moral claims appear to be entirely subjective and relative....regardless of how they are rationalized. People may claim that they are a set of external or universal facts....but those claims are never substantiated (I've never seen anyone substantiate them). I'm not trying to give offense...I don't doubt your belief is genuine.


    It's a fair point that it says they boiled and ate him together. The woman says "give up your son" though...which implies the decision was the mother's.

    I can't argue that they share responsibility for the murder. The mother clearly chose it....and it doesn't seem like it would have happened otherwise.


    Well...that's an interesting idea.

    The majority of the refugees are Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan...generally from that region. They have, generally speaking, Saudi Arabia to the south and Turkey to the north. If Saudi Arabia takes any refugees at all, it's hard to say. They didn't sign the UN Refugee agreement....on paper, they take no refugees at all. They claim to have about 500k....but that's questionable, since they seem to be on work permits. When a nation goes to efforts to obfuscate the issue, I'm inclined think they don't take any.

    Turkey on the other hand has taken a considerable number. A great many stage in Turkey to prepare to enter Europe. A quick check tells me that Turkey has plans to dump their millions back into Syria....despite the war. They believe there's a relatively safe area in the north (the section near Turkey) which sounds like an excuse to get rid of them.

    This of course, doesn't change the morality of how European nations are handling the refugee crisis. I'm merely pointing out that as a matter of perspective, European nations have been exceedingly generous....yet seem to be taking the lion's share of criticism for it.

    It might as well be.

    Right....you have your moral rationale and so do they. I've no doubt that you can go into great detail about the foundations of your morality...as can they. If we keep the moral questions simple enough, general enough, I'd bet you and the secular humanist can draw a straight line the foundations of your morality to the answer to a moral question. For example...

    A starving man asks another man who has bread for some food. What should the man with bread do?

    Pretty easy I'm sure. If only life was as simple. The question gets more complicated when it's a million men asking for bread from a million men. It gets more complicated when the men with bread have already fed a million other men. It's more complicated when some of the starving have taken the time to go through proper channels and obey the laws of those who have bread....and some simply show up. Even moreso when those with bread are asked to help indefinitely, with no clear end in sight.

    I could keep going but hopefully you get the idea....

    By the time we get down to those specific beggars choosing a particularly risky route of travel across a sea, and what is and is not the appropriate response to them....my guess is that straight line from moral foundation to moral judgment is gone. The same goes for a secular humanist as well.

    I've no doubt that you can come up with an answer, you have done so after all. The secular humanist can do the same. You can probably tie it back to your moral foundation in some way. If I were to pose the same question to another Augustinian moral absolutist....he might have the same answer, he might not. Even if he doesn't though, I bet he too can tie it back to the foundation of his morality in a roundabout way regardless. If not on this question....then your judgments surely differ on another....despite having the same foundation. The point isn't that you're right and he's wrong or vice versa....it's that the foundation is too general to handle the complexities of almost infinite moral dilemmas. The result is that you both fill the gaps with personal values, biases, experiences, emotions, peer expectations, etc, etc, and so on.

    It's not a criticism...it's just a fact. It's been awhile since I read the bible, but I don't recall Jesus's stance on the righteousness of extrajudicial drone strikes on US citizen terrorists in foreign lands. There's no guidebook for the vast majority of behavior....no all encompassing set of values to address them all.

    We may have different starting points....but we arrive at the conclusions in much the same way.
     
  11. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    And is the slave who doesn't want freedom just as right as the slave who does?

    Have you ever read the beginning of John 13?

    Sorry to begin to slide away from this conversation, but I don't currently have the time to keep up so many different "threads," computationally speaking. :p
     
  12. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    I am thinking of trying to tackle Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, which would be loosely related. I would definitely follow such a conversation if you guys want to do it.
     
  13. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    That doesn't make the intention to tell the truth and the intention to tell lies the same, at all.

    I don't think I have ever said that feelings are an infallible guide to truth. I have not even said that they are a reliable guide to truth. I just said they are related to truth.

    Some opinions are educated guesses for a subset of humanity, some opinions are educated guesses for the whole of humanity, and there are millions of shades of grey between those two poles. When you say you like chocolate ice cream it is an educated guess about what is good for you. You are saying, "I find [chocolate ice cream] tasty/pleasurable/enjoyable/healthy, and taste/pleasure/enjoyment/health are good for me qua human being."

    Hopefully that isn't too confusing. I know you have some background in programming, so you can probably figure out what I am trying to say there.
     
  14. Silmarien

    Silmarien Existentialist

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    According to whom? You're a moral relativist, so I don't know how you can turn around and say that the Italian government has moral duties to operate according to whatever principle you think ought to guide it. That pushes you into the realm of deontology, and thus moral realism.

    I am a little troubled by the claim that Italy exists for the Italians, since by the same logic, a 19th century slaveowner could say that the United States existed for white men and had no moral obligation towards slaves. Similarly, war crimes are no longer crimes, as long as they are committed against a foreign population.

    Now, I do believe that states should not adopt policies that harm their own citizens to the benefit of foreigners, but humanitarian aid is not a zero-sum game. Italy is capable of assisting in rescue efforts in the Mediterranean without harming Italians, and in fact has done so in the past: back in 2013, the Italian Navy itself participated in Operation Mare Nostrum.

    So what? If we carried out summary executions on anyone caught smuggling a child across the border, that would also serve as a deterrent. Is our policy of not executing smugglers the root cause of child smuggling?

    Drug addicts similarly know the risks, and end up addicted anyway. Should we deny them medical aid because it was their own fault?

    I would expect additional assistance in applying for asylum through legal channels and the assurance that they were returned to a place where the process could be carried out in a reasonable fashion. To the best of my knowledge, most North African countries would qualify.

    If European politicians don't like rule of law, perhaps they would be happier if they traded places with some of the refugees.

    You are right, there is a difference between an unsupported claim and something evident. Your claim that everyone is a moral relativist is an unsupported claim based on your own ability to conceptualize anything else.

    I don't see any difference between that and a Christian who for whatever reason cannot conceptualize anything besides theism saying that all atheists are merely deluded theists.

    I would agree that the mother had the final say, but given that the suggestion came from the other woman, I would still say that the decision was joint. I see it as just as likely that the mother gave her son to the other woman to be killed, given the usage of the verb "to give."

    The only thing I'm criticizing is the creeping criminalization of humanitarian aid. I actually think Europe has been almost too generous in certain cases--I have been unhappy about the way sexual assault by refugees upon European women has been played down.

    Eh, I'm pretty sure drone strikes would be a violation of "love your neighbor as yourself," so pretty clearly in the "morally wrong" category.

    That said, I am not sure why any of this would constitute an argument against moral realism. Moral realism doesn't entail that there is a guidebook for the vast majority of human behavior--it only means that moral truths exist, and things can genuinely be good or bad. I would actually agree with you that our own moral judgments are colored by personal values, biases, experiences, and so forth and so on, but that is not at all out of the ordinary. Our memories are similarly influenced by subjective factors, and even what we see visually is influenced by what we expect to see. Few people would take that as evidence that historical facts or the physical world don't exist, though, so I don't see why it would have any power against a moral realist.
     
  15. Silmarien

    Silmarien Existentialist

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    I shall hold you to it! Actually, I will probably hold off on replying again until you can join in, because I don't really have the free time for this right now either, haha.

    You know... I think I ought to reread Aristotle anyway, since I've got a handful of Thomistic stuff I want to tackle, so I would definitely be interested in that.
     
  16. Ana the Ist

    Ana the Ist Aggressively serene!

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    What do you mean by "right"?


    Sure

    No worries.
     
  17. Moral Orel

    Moral Orel Proud Citizen of Moralton Supporter

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    Sure.
    Mmm... In our other thread you implied that feelings are at least somewhat reliable as a guide to truth by pointing out that evolution helped developed our feelings on some things. In our other other thread (the Pascal's Wager one in the E&M section) I was pushing this question and you seemed disinterested. The last thing you said was simply, "I disagree with your reasoning" so I assumed you got bored, but here that subject is again.

    Do you want to commit to a position on it? Are feelings a reliable guide to truth? If all you have are your feelings as evidence, should you feel confident that you have knowledge of the thing you have feelings about? Should your feelings even count as evidence? I say "no" to all of these things.
    I find chocolate ice cream tasty. That isn't a guess, it's a fact that I know. In my script chocolateIceCream == "tasty"; For those things which the "subset of humanity" is me and me alone, and it describes how I feel about a thing, calling it a "guess" is wrong. That's why I'm saying that there are opinions, and there are guesses, and they shouldn't be conflated like you're doing here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  18. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Fire for the Earth! ... Luke 12:49 Supporter

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    Although feelings aren't a reliable guide to truth all by themselves, this isn't to say that they should always and necessarily count for nothing when we make moral evaluations of situations we encounter around us ...

    I've been watching the t.v. shows, Mind Hunters and Criminal Minds, lately, and if one thing stands out to me, it's the apparent assertion within these shows (and perhaps as a shadow of similar moral situations in our shared 'real life') that those persons who either feel emotionally numb, have distorted emotions, or think emotions don't count for anything when making moral evaluations or when contemplating an ongoing adherence to an ethical position, might be either sociopathic or psychopathic, or have some other cognitive/emotional deficiency. Not necessarily, but maybe.

    Similarly, there may be some kind of disruption of human emotional normalcy in other aspects of human life, like that of spiritual possibilities. Hence, this is part of the reason I offered by Aesthetic Argument here not too long ago elsewhere in on the Apologetics forum.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  19. Ana the Ist

    Ana the Ist Aggressively serene!

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    Well if we're talking about Italy specifically....

    Here's the oath of office...

    I swear to be faithful to the Republic, to loyally observe its Constitution and laws, and to exercise my functions in the exclusive interest of the Nation.

    Seems rather clear. You can look at the founding documents of basically every modern nation and you'll see reference to what I explained. Though I should point out, there's nothing controversial about anything I said regarding "why nations/states are formed" amongst political or historical scholars.

    If you're looking at our nation and why it was formed, look no further than the declaration of independence. It's basically a list of shared colonial values and interests that were either being ignored or trampled by the king.

    I'm not saying that....

    I'm simply stating the obvious....nations and governments are created for the benefit of it's citizens....not foreigners.

    You really shouldn't be.

    I'm sure some 19th century slaveowners did say that lol.

    Depends on the nation and which international laws it agrees to....but yes, war crimes are extremely difficult to prosecute, especially against the victors.

    Well take a peek at the 30 year trend...

    Italy Refugee Statistics 1990-2019

    See how it's basically an upward climb for the past two decades? Perhaps Italy has reached the limit of its charity.


    You're trying to compare an inverse correlation to a direct one.

    Are they citizens or drug addicts from another nation?

    Therein lies the problem with asylum...

    Back when international asylum laws were written there were billions less people on the planet. They were intended to help vulnerable populations facing persecution and war. It was intended to keep another holocaust from happening...

    It's wasn't created to broadly apply to a quarter of a billion people in a general region. I think that's likely why asylum is dying.
    Or they can simply change the law....since they are politicians.

    Let's imagine that we have two men....one is a moral absolutist and the other is a moral relativist. The moral absolutist says that he receives his morality from revelation through the Holy Bible. The relativist says that he approaches each moral choice uniquely, at the moment, based upon various personal and circumstantial criteria.

    If you got to watch them go through their respective days...do you think that you'd be able to tell which is which? We all make 100s of little moral choices all the time, all without thinking about it much. Do you think that the absolutist actually references the bible in his head before he cuts someone off in traffic? Probably not. Do you think that he debates what Jesus would do before he gives up his seat on the subway to a pregnant woman? Of course not.

    You may like to think that before big decisions he tries to reference his moral foundation....but so what? Someone who is a relativist 95% of the time and an absolutist 5% of the time is a relativist.


    Asylum in general seems to be dying. It was a nice afterthought to WW2. The reality is that no successful nation wants to take on the problems of a failing nation.

    Do you think every Augustinian absolutist would agree?

    Well there's evidence of the physical world and of some historical facts. What is evidence of a "moral truth"? What would that even look like?
     
  20. gaara4158

    gaara4158 I prefer you trust your reason.

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    Alright, here we go. I'm just going to jump in at the point where you mentioned me. As an aside, I think I remember you saying that you've gone through phases accepting nearly every theory of morality except deontology. Now you seem to be arguing for deontology. Is this a new phase, or am I misreading something?

    Anyway, if you were to tie me down and demand I answer honestly whether I think morality is "real" or "universal" in the sense that it has anything to do with the fundamental structure of the universe, I would have to answer "no." Morality, to me, is a convention meant to make sure we can all sustainably co-exist with a reasonable quality of life. I think there are objectively right and wrong ways to go about attaining this goal, but I don't think there's anything "objective" about the goal itself. I just happen to think secular humanism is the best framework with which to approach that goal. I don't know if that truly qualifies me as a secular humanist, but I will be responding as one in this thread.

    It's always interesting to see how quickly and dramatically moral boundaries are crossed when the first two tiers of Maslow's hierarchy of needs - food, water, safety, etc. - are no longer a given. I don't see this as a sign that a moral framework that emphasizes humanitarianism is wrong -- in fact, just the opposite. Many social ills are directly caused by the fact that there are so many people struggling to maintain access to basic necessities that they're never able to graduate to Maslow's third tier: meaningful human interaction. It benefits all of us to prevent and mitigate the kind of scarcity that drives people to desperate measures. This means entities that are able allocating resources to clean up and rebuild in the Bahamas rather than pointing to them as an example of moral depravity. It means saving people from drowning in distressed vessels at sea, and working to help fix the impossible situations they fled in their home countries. Shutting out the needy won't make them go away, it just makes sure they won't get help, and the more desperate they get for help, the more dangerous they are to you. Humanitarianism is the right answer no matter who you are.
     
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