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31
19
Yes, because... No, because...
Debate Score:50
Arguments:58
Total Votes:50
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 Yes, because... (28)
 
 No, because... (16)

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Mack(534) pic



Can having a certain belief be morally right or wrong?

I'm not asking if a belief itself can be morally right or wrong, but whether having a belief can be morally right or wrong.

My argument (A) is this:

(1a). You should not be blamed for doing something if you had no choice but to do it.
(2a). You cannot choose what you believe or don't believe.
 Therefore, (3a). You should not be blamed for believing (or not believing) in something.

Here is a second argument (B) to support premise (2a).

(1b). What you believe (or don't believe) is the result of your environment and your genes.
(2b). You cannot choose your environment or your genes.
Therefore, (3b). You cannot choose what you believe or don't believe.

You can probably extend these arguments to free will in general, if you say that your actions are based on your beliefs, but my intention in this debate is just to answer the question in the title.  The reason I ask this question is that people seem to be constantly attacked (both on and off this website) for what they believe, whether religious, atheist, conservative, liberal, Nazi, communist, or anything really.  I do not think these personal attacks are justified.  I do not understand why people do not just try to kindly persuade others, as they can't help what they believe, and being kind is generally a much more effective way to make people think you are reasonable, and that you might be right.

Unless you're a flat-earther, then your just a waste of space.

Yes, because...

Side Score: 31
VS.

No, because...

Side Score: 19
2 points

Morally wrong means sinning against or harming your nature. Your nature includes; yourself, fellow man and Creator. If your belief is harmful to any of these, it is morally wrong. And the vice versa for beliefs that are "morally right".

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

One thing that irks me about my own argument is that you might have influence over your environment. You could decide to go to university, for example, and learn, but even then you can't help the way your brain interprets what you are told. It might be fair to blame someone for never trying to expose themselves to new information (like say, an evolutionist arguing with a creationist), but in the case of, say, liberals vs conservatives, the personal attacks aren't really about that, so the main point of my argument mostly stands. Most personal attacks I see are more like: "You believe it's okay to do 'X!?' That's evil, you're evil." That doesn't seem as related to whether somebody has tried to expose themselves to new information or not.

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

It’s seems we are revisiting the free will debate in a roundabout way and the points you raise are consistent with the more fleshed out version of the basic argument put forward by Galen Strawson ........

(1) Interested in free action, we are particularly interested in actions that are performed for a reason (as opposed to 'reflex' actions or mindlessly habitual actions).

(2) When one acts for a reason, what one does is a function of how one is, mentally speaking. (It is also a function of one's height, one's strength, one's place and time, and so on. But the mental factors are crucial when moral responsibility is in question.)

(3) So if one is to be truly responsible for how one acts, one must be truly responsible for how one is, mentally speaking—at least in certain respects.

(4) But to be truly responsible for how one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects, one must have brought it about that one is the way one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects. And it is not merely that one must have caused oneself to be the way one is, mentally speaking. One must have consciously and explicitly chosen to be the way one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects, and one must have succeeded in bringing it about that one is that way.

(5) But one cannot really be said to choose, in a conscious, reasoned, fashion, to be the way one is mentally speaking, in any respect at all, unless one already exists, mentally speaking, already equipped with some principles of choice, 'P1'—preferences, values, pro-attitudes, ideals—in the light of which one chooses how to be.

(6) But then to be truly responsible, on account of having chosen to be the way one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects, one must be truly responsible for one's having the principles of choice P1 in the light of which one chose how to be.

(7) But for this to be so one must have chosen P1, in a reasoned, conscious, intentional fashion.

(8) But for this, i.e. (7), to be so one must already have had some principles of choice P2, in the light of which one chose Pl.

(9) And so on. Here we are setting out on a regress that we cannot stop. True self-determination is impossible because it requires the actual completion of an infinite series of choices of principles of choice.'

(10) So true moral responsibility is impossible, because it requires true self-determination, as noted in (3).

Side: Yes, because...
marcusmoon(586) Clarified
3 points

Dermot,

Although a belief may be morally right nor wrong, having a certain belief can be neither morally right nor wrong, because that is not a choice.

Some beginning explanations for the sake of clarity:

I am a free will hardliner based on logic I will not go into unless you ask.

Although I do not actually believe this, in order to participate in the conversation I stipulate to the premise that there are such things as morally right or wrong actions and intentions.

I also want to make clear that when I use belief, I mean concepts on the order of values, preferences, and philosophies, not assumptions, perceptions, or memories (e.g., I believe the earth is round, that John's dog is dangerous, that Harold Sigurdson was the one who died at Stamford Bridge in 1066.)

(9) And so on. Here we are setting out on a regress that we cannot stop. True self-determination is impossible because it requires the actual completion of an infinite series of choices of principles of choice.'

This point is well taken, but I think this is asking too much of free will.

It is like saying that because we do not control which sets of Legos we received for Christmas, we therefore have no freedom to choose what to make with those Legos. Although we may be limited in our options (situation, information, emotions, physical capability, etc.) at a given moment, this does not mean that we do not the power to choose whether to base our philosophies on

-what is popular (or unpopular) with other people

or

-what makes us feel good (whatever that may be)

or

-the application of logic (to whatever extent we know about it) to whatever information we have at hand

(4) But to be truly responsible for how one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects, one must have brought it about that one is the way one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects. And it is not merely that one must have caused oneself to be the way one is, mentally speaking. One must have consciously and explicitly chosen to be the way one is, mentally speaking, in certain respects, and one must have succeeded in bringing it about that one is that way.

Education, analysis, empathy, and a host of other mental activities are based on the premise that we have at least some power over our thoughts.

This does not mean, however that any of these thoughts are moral or immoral.

It seems to me that morality is about engaging or communicating with the universe according to some standard of universal rightness.

Communication consists of three steps:

Step 1 Receiving some message or information

Step 2 Processing the message or information

Step 3 Responding to the message or information

The proposition that a belief can have a moral value sets morality at some point in Step 2.

The problem with this is that our beliefs are neither instantaneous nor static. At what point in the process of processing the message or information can the moral measurement to be made? It would not make sense to judge an analysis before it is complete, so we need to wait for some sign that the analysis is complete, or at least at a reasonable pause.

It is critical to note that often we simultaneously hold multiple, incompatible or opposed beliefs. Some of step 2 includes weighing these beliefs and choosing between them.

I propose that action is that point whereat we can judge the process to have reached a conclusion, whether intermediary or final. (We can quibble later as to whether, or when, writing or speaking count as action.)

It is our actions that manifest the results of the processing step in our response to the moral message from the universe. What we “actually believe” is expressed through our actions.

Consider this in terms of a belief that theft and violence are useful and valid ways to accomplish goals. This obviously conflicts with moral prohibitions against theft and violence. It is possible that a person who thinks theft and violence is a valid way to behave may defer in his/her actions to the moral standard. In this case, regardless of the belief being counter to moral standards, the actions were moral.

By the same token, a person who truly believes that theft and violence are horrible may steal or kill, anyway. In this case, regardless of the belief that accords with moral standards, the actions were immoral.

My conclusion is that in terms of one's final choice of belief, the actions are the only actual indicator of belief, therefore it is ones actions that are morally right or wrong, not the beliefs one has.

Side: Yes, because...
Dermot(5453) Clarified
1 point

Hi Marcus , thank you for your thoughts I shall get back to you tomorrrow 👌🎨☺️

Side: Yes, because...
Dermot(5453) Clarified
1 point

Although a belief may be morally right nor wrong,

Whether it’s deemed right or wrong is dependent in a lot of cases on who’s making that judgement

having a certain belief can be neither morally right nor wrong, because that is not a choice.

I disagree , if I believe meat eating is morally wrong that is indeed a choice ,

Some beginning explanations for the sake of clarity:

I am a free will hardliner based on logic I will not go into unless you ask.

I would be interested to hear your views

Although I do not actually believe this, in order to participate in the conversation I stipulate to the premise that there are such things as morally right or wrong actions and intentions.

As in moral absolutes?

I also want to make clear that when I use belief, I mean concepts on the order of values, preferences, and philosophies, not assumptions, perceptions, or memories (e.g., I believe the earth is round, that John's dog is dangerous, that Harold Sigurdson was the one who died at Stamford Bridge in 1066.)

Beliefs are to me personal attitudes associated with true or false ideas and concepts

This point is well taken, but I think this is asking too much of free will.

It’s worth testing these philosophies to the limit

It is like saying that because we do not control which sets of Legos we received for Christmas, we therefore have no freedom to choose what to make with those Legos. Although we may be limited in our options (situation, information, emotions, physical capability, etc.) at a given moment, this does not mean that we do not the power to choose whether to base our philosophies on

-what is popular (or unpopular) with other people

or

-what makes us feel good (whatever that may be)

or

-the application of logic (to whatever extent we know about it) to whatever information we have at hand

But this is covered by Strawsons statement as in are you ultimately responsible for the way you are ?

Education, analysis, empathy, and a host of other mental activities are based on the premise that we have at least some power over our thoughts.

Yes, but again are you ultimately responsible for the way you are ?

This does not mean, however that any of these thoughts are moral or immoral.

Yes

It seems to me that morality is about engaging or communicating with the universe according to some standard of universal rightness.

What is an example of universal rightness or wrongness ?

Communication consists of three steps:

Step 1 Receiving some message or information

Step 2 Processing the message or information

Step 3 Responding to the message or information

The proposition that a belief can have a moral value sets morality at some point in Step 2.

Yes and step 2 is dependent on several things and influences

The problem with this is that our beliefs are neither instantaneous nor static.

Some beliefs are instantaneous a blind man who walks into a wall now believes a wall is close by , beliefs I agree are not static

At what point in the process of processing the message or information can the moral measurement to be made?

At completion of the process I guess

It would not make sense to judge an analysis before it is complete, so we need to wait for some sign that the analysis is complete, or at least at a reasonable pause.

Yes

It is critical to note that often we simultaneously hold multiple, incompatible or opposed beliefs.

Yes

Some of step 2 includes weighing these beliefs and choosing between them.

Yes

I propose that action is that point whereat we can judge the process to have reached a conclusion, whether intermediary or final. (We can quibble later as to whether, or when, writing or speaking count as action.)

Fair enough

It is our actions that manifest the results of the processing step in our response to the moral message from the universe.

I don’t understand the “ from the Universe “ part

What we “actually believe” is expressed through our actions.

Yes

consider this in terms of a belief that theft and violence are useful and valid ways to accomplish goals.

Valid according to the ones doing the thieving and violence

This obviously conflicts with moral prohibitions against theft and violence.

Yes

It is possible that a person who thinks theft and violence is a valid way to behave may defer in his/her actions to the moral standard.

They may or may not

In this case, regardless of the belief being counter to moral standards, the actions were moral.

Again that’s merely a matter of opinion

By the same token, a person who truly believes that theft and violence are horrible may steal or kill, anyway

That’s a person going against their own moral standards

. In this case, regardless of the belief that accords with moral standards, the actions were immoral.

Yes and the person doing it knows this as you pointed out , also a person may feel bad about killing and stealing but do it legally for the military and still feel bad about it but yet recieve military honours for doing something he holds as morally wrong

My conclusion is that in terms of one's final choice of belief, the actions are the only actual indicator of belief, therefore it is ones actions that are morally right or wrong, not the beliefs one has.

Well the actions are what follows in some cases , otherwise most of us would be guilty of thought crimes at some stage in our lives

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

Yes, I agree with that. I thought some people might find this argument easier to accept when it wasn't directly about free will.

Side: Yes, because...
2 points

Yes , when it’s solely about free will hackles tend to get raised as people find the idea of not being totally free agents to appalling to contemplate.

I remember a similar question to your own on a philosophy site that used similar reasoning to ask...... was a murderer ever truly responsible for his actions ?

It provided some excellent exchanges many participants playing devils advocate and it proved very informative

Side: Yes, because...
marcusmoon(586) Clarified
1 point

Dermot, my friend!

Your ideas are well laid out, but you did not really answer the question of the morality of beliefs.

(10) So true moral responsibility is impossible, because it requires true self-determination, as noted in (3).

You dance with it a little in (10), but the dance is the Twist, not the Viennese Waltz or even the Tango. (You never quite touch the question of being morally right or wrong.)

I am not sure that moral responsibility is required for being morally right or wrong. If we accept the concept of morality, then we are accepting its standards regardless of our power to unrestricted choice.

Consider that being a quadriplegic does not change that one is sitting down in a chair as opposed to lying down.

Moral absolutes are defined independent of cause, just as sitting down or standing up is defined independent of cause.

Side: Yes, because...
Dermot(5453) Clarified
1 point

Hi Marcus , you say Your ideas are well laid out, but you did not really answer the question of the morality of beliefs.

The argument I put forward as I said in the heading is not mine but Galen Stawsons the English philosopher , I posted it up as the OP seemed to be heading in the direction of a debate regarding free will which has been debated fiercely on CD more than once

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

(1a). You should not be blamed for doing something if you had no choice but to do it.

(2a). You cannot choose what you believe or don't believe.

Therefore, (3a). You should not be blamed for believing (or not believing) in something.

Here is a second argument (B) to support premise (2a).

(1b). What you believe (or don't believe) is the result of your environment and your genes.

(2b). You cannot choose your environment or your genes.

Therefore, (3b). You cannot choose what you believe or don't believe.

Interesting. I'm curious where this idea comes from. When you are young you can't choose your environment, but dependent on the parent you can choose what you believe or don't. As you grow and become more independent what you've believed may and probably will change. Your genes don't determine what you believe but they may have a factor in how you act. Not completely but partially. As you get older your choices and the repercussions for them are partially of your own making. I will concede partially because again, sometimes genes may have a larger say in some people than in others.

What you propose is interesting, my initial response is that an adult (unless there is a severe mental issue) is largely responsible for their actions and choices. I believe in personal responsibility, so if you could let me know more on why this shouldn't be I would be interested in hearing where you are coming from.

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

Hi Mint , the argument is not mine but Galen Strawsons an English philosopher, here it is in its basic form ........

1:You do what you do, in any given situation, because of the way you are.

2:To be ultimately responsible for what you do, you have to be ultimately responsible for the way you are—at least in certain crucial mental respects.

3:But you cannot be ultimately responsible for the way you are in any respect at all.

4: So you cannot be ultimately responsible for what you do.[3]

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

1:You do what you do, in any given situation, because of the way you are.

Hm. My initial response is....kinda? I mean our actions define who we are much of the time, but that doesn't mean who we are is stagnant or that we can't change when new experiences change our perceptions. Nor does it mean we can't fight against our nature.

2:To be ultimately responsible for what you do, you have to be ultimately responsible for the way you are—at least in certain crucial mental respects.

Yes.

3:But you cannot be ultimately responsible for the way you are in any respect at all.

How so? Yes I agree that there are certain precursors that help define who we ultimately become but I do not agree that it means we become static through the rest of our life. Sometimes we HAVE to fight against what our foundation is, especially when something comes along that really matters.

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

Yes. Progressivism has more empathy for terrorists than for soldiers in burn units because of terrorists.

Side: Yes, because...
1 point

Guilt has certain side of belief. Excuse me for bringing death penalty again here,i think it's just a great example. The truth that 'executioners feel guilt even tought they think killing an inmate is right' support my argument. Guilt is the sign of doing immorality

Side: Yes, because...

No, it couldn’t. Not to everyone at least. It is your belief. But it would be others opinions to decide if it was right or wrong.

Side: No, because...
LoveU(348) Disputed
1 point

It's not others' opinion, it's your own conscience that makes you decide of what's right or wrong.

Side: Yes, because...
2 points

As far as I'm concerned, if you have a belief, that is one hundred and ten thousand percent your problem, as long as you keep it that way. Complications arise depending on how your actions reflect your beliefs. This can result in a person being harmless, annoying, obnoxious, in need of a corrective bitch slap, or in need of a corrective bullet (only in the most extreme of cases. Think ISIS.)

Actions are morally wrong, not beliefs.

Side: No, because...
LoveU(348) Disputed
1 point

Thinking (or believing) that ' it's right to rape' is already immoral.

Side: Yes, because...
Dermot(5453) Disputed
1 point

But you’re a Christian so I take it you approve of rape once god and Moses are ok with it ?

Murder, rape and pillage of the Midianites (Numbers 31:7-18 NLT)

They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. “Why have you let all the women live?” he demanded. “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.

Side: No, because...
SexyJesus(217) Disputed
1 point

I disagree. A person can think 'it's right to rape', and while I would find such a person reprehensible, they're entitled to that opinion as long as they don't actually rape anybody.

Their beliefs still don't actually hurt anybody. Their actions do.

Side: No, because...