I'd have to say I agree that he is being very narrow-minded. Given the age of the universe and the impossibility of faster-than-light(FTL) travel, I don't believe it to be very likely that an intelligent spacefaring species would make it here in our lifetime or our great^100-grandkids' lifetime. Maybe I too am being narrow-minded.
The purpose of mortal life is to teach us and test us in preparation for a higher order of existence. Birth(to include conception) is not the beginning of our existence and death is not the end. Much like children optimally should be taught at a developmentally appropriate pace/level, we are given the opportunity to learn at our own pace. Moral agency is sacrosanct. So a large portion of what comprises morality is proscribing infringement of another person's agency. Clarifications are given on a continuous basis, a certain degree of latitude is allowed for due to the imperfect nature of the agents.
There is an unavoidable amount of ambiguity. The beauty lies in a system by which errors in judgement can be corrected.
The complexity of life and the existance of a moral continuum preclude any comprehensive definitive code.
But do you ascribe a moral status of good or bad to any behaviors? If so, why?
"Perception of morality is only a personal preference(is not objective/fixed) if there is no fixed standard." is more or less a tautology. However, I understand the inevitability of circular reasoning in this type of discussion. I am of the opinion that individual standards of beauty, actually individual tastes/preferences/styles in general, are the only things that differentiate us as individuals. Thus, believing in objective moral truths puts beauty in a different realm of mental activity in my way of thinking.
As an aside: This idea is pivotal in the plots of Scott Westerfields young adult novel series "The Uglies." I recommend it.
My thoughts track with yours here. However, the question remains to be answered, what of the children who need to learn a behavioral model? Is it correct then to say, the social contract is the guide, anything within its bounds is good/right, and anything outside those bounds is bad/wrong? I have a feeling you might say the better words to use would be acceptable and unacceptable respectively, and that it is up to the parents/caregivers/teachers to give a framework and each child must flesh things out according to their experience. How do we determine that framework?
And here we have it, individual arbitration of moral tenets. As much as I want to talk about theory, it keeps come back to practicality. And why not? Pragmatism has a very large following for a reason.
I mentioned this. I think you're right, except your reasoning only justifies "murder is unacceptable" not "murder is wrong." Not only does evolution not care about the individual. Evolution doesn't even care about species.
Wouldn't longevity of a species/form of life indicate more accurately and reliably the intended emergent order, giving arthropods a stronger claim to being the definitive emergent order.
I agree with octopuppy that to define current conditions as a sort of "final cause" would be at least a little narrow-minded.
If quarks had the capacity to observe the universe and posit theories about the mean of life might they have decided at around 10^-10sec that their existence was the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything(notwithstanding those prescient quarks who randomly come up with 42)? Exponentially longer epochs followed the quark epoch and introduced more order. That quarks are only a building block of a building block(subatomic particles) of a building block(atoms) of a building block(molecules) of self-replicating information systems(DnA) shows that those little upstarts they were a little short-sighted.
Now, I don't think trying to figure out what level of complexity would/might/could be attained by the universe before heat death has any bearing on us determining principles to guide our behavior. So I have to admit that being anthropocentric is not just more attractive in terms of vanity but also in terms of practicality.
I call shenanigans. Playing fast and loose with the definitions as you did makes using words like trangle and quadrilateral meaningless. You could have easily said, "I have a shape and I have another shape as well, now I state that if I cut out these I will get two perfectly identical objects.
Is this possible?"
Twilight series is fun. Thought the ending(of the series) was cheap. Midnight Sun was an awesome concept and I enjoyed immensely the part Meyers released. I wish she had finished it.
Though I like all kinds of books, I mostly read fantasy, sci fi, and detective fiction
C.S. Lewis' - Chronicles of Narnia
Sherlock Holmes Stories
Cormack McCarthy's - The Road was depressing but for personal reasons was very moving
The Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull
George R. R. Martin's - A Song of Fire and Ice series (for mature audiences)
J. R. R. Tolkein's works
Shakespeare's plays not so much his sonnets
And for some fantasy detective novels
Jim Butcher's - Dresden Files books
Simon R. Green's - Nightside books (kind of formulaic)
Glen Cook's - Garrett Files books
I believe in a God who will confirm those underlying truths to anyone who asks. Each individual person.
You put my thoughts in words quite splendidly!
I would have to say that quote succinctly expresses my understanding of a world without God. At least to the extent of moral truth. Mathematical, logical, and descriptive truths are unassailable except to solipsism and other philosophies which undermine the entire discussion or even the need for a discussion about morality.
My thoughts on SC theory: I believe in a world where freedom prevails the SC is the only way to go. My only qualm is with the threat of the tyranny of the majority. More on that after treating Wilson's remark.
First, let me reiterate that I am in no way trying to discredit or destroy anyone's beliefs. I just want to know the nitty gritty if you feel so inclined to share.
So you believe in some moral absolutes. Also you believe most people are inherently good. I am with you on the first and mostly with you on the second.
Now going back to the tyranny of the majority. Wilson says "ask those on the receiving end [of bad actions]." I think we would all tend to agree on one universal piece of morality. Namely murder is bad/wrong/evil.
But without any unequivocal truth we are left only with the descriptive truth of evolution. Which brings us to: Why is murder wrong? Because we have evolved an instinct to survive and reproduce. Evolutionary theorist even have explanations for believing in God and altruistic behaviors(to the point of sacrificing one's life).
Still that gives no moral imperative for a right to life. It only explains why a social contract would invariably include a right to life or a restriction on killing. It has nothing but concensus of DNA driven sentiment to support a statement of murder is wrong.
Which is why in such a world the sociopath who kills all rivals to his/her procreative access to the fittest mates to ensure the survival of their offspring and continuation of their genetic legacy is neither better nor worse morally than the sociopath who kills for pleasure or the social contract conformist/enforcer who ends/prevents the sociopaths agendas. There is no basis to make moral judgements.
Edit: Holy wall of text Batman! Maybe I should just let this topic die. I really would like to hear your thoughts though.