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Debate Score:201
Arguments:229
Total Votes:209
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GoodListener(555) pic



Can you explain how determinism doesn't defeat justice/morality?

If all decisions... All actions, inactions, assumptions and conclusions are inevitable and furthermore inescapable then why hold anyone accountable for immorality? They couldn't help it, they inevitably had to do so as their will isn't free enough to escape their predetermined thought process.
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Amarel(2390) Banned
4 points

why hold anyone accountable for immorality?

Because you have no other choice.

4 points

I disagree with determinism, however a deterministic worldview certainly doesn't defeat the purpose of criminal justice. Behaviorist methods of learning/conditioning (operant, classical and vicarious) all depend on reward and punishment. People learn to avoid behaviors which are punishing and perform behaviors which are rewarding and this even occurs through the vicarious observation of others. As such, criminal justice serves to reduce negative behavior by teaching people, both directly and vicariously, that negative behavior results in punishment.

2 points

Winston,

As such, criminal justice serves to reduce negative behavior by teaching people, both directly and vicariously, that negative behavior results in punishment.

I like this.

If I understand your point, you are saying that justice and morality are actually mechanisms of determinism, by virtue of being aspects of operant conditioning.

This implies an imperfectly determinist universe, and justice/morality are helping to make it MORE deterministic.

1 point

Determinism is not 'graded' it's absolute.

Either the entire reality is all inevitable and predetermined or we have a degree (any degree) of power to consciously, willingly influence its outcome.

1 point

"If I understand your point, you are saying that justice and morality are actually mechanisms of determinism, by virtue of being aspects of operant conditioning."

It does appear that justice, when divorced from any rehabilitative programs and retributive motivations, solely serves the purpose of conditioning.

"This implies an imperfectly determinist universe, and justice/morality are helping to make it MORE deterministic."

I don't agree that it necessarily makes the universe more deterministic because there will always be influences on one's behavior, they will just be different.

1 point

Though I'm rather forced to accept determinism (whether I like it or not), the rest of this seems very sound and well-reasoned, and I'd be very inclined to agree. Punishment does have its definite limitations, though - in fact, it's famous for taking criminals and making them into hardened criminals.

1 point

Errors and imperfections in the current system of justice in a particular society does not prove his inaccurate argument correct in any way.

1 point

"Punishment does have its definite limitations, though - in fact, it's famous for taking criminals and making them into hardened criminals."

Well, when you gather all the criminals together in one place they will of course share knowledge and try to out-do each other. However it's better to have a punishment to deter such behavior than to allow it, especially given how rewarding crime can be.

1 point

Wrong.

If determinism is true, the ones training the rest are as enslaved to their predetermined tendency to commit crime or train wrong as the very trainees themselves.

Nomenclature(1183) Disputed Banned
1 point

If determinism is true, the ones training the rest are as enslaved to their predetermined tendency to commit crime or train wrong as the very trainees themselves.

If you want to argue that justice is pointless in a deterministic universe, then so is everything else. The reasoning you are trying to apply specifically to morality and/or justice is not specific to morality and/or justice but rather applies to everything.

WinstonC(864) Disputed
1 point

How does this make punishment ineffective as a means to disincentivize criminal behavior?

2 points

That's exactly the difference between Al Franken and the rest of those scumbags, (including Trump). He was a comedian who made his living "horsing around" and his "will wasn't free enough to escape its predetermined thought process". Not saying he didn't step over the line, but, have you seen many comedians, today, that don't??

2 points

I'm confused how this answers the question but I feel like both you and I are free will advocates.

brontoraptor(12192) Disputed Banned
1 point

He didn't answer the question. You should be confused.

AlofRI(1843) Clarified
1 point

I am. I was basing my answer more on marcusmoon and Amarel's comments above, not so much on the original question.

marcusmoon(248) Clarified
1 point

Al,

He was a comedian who made his living "horsing around" and his "will wasn't free enough to escape its predetermined thought process". Not saying he didn't step over the line, but, have you seen many comedians, today, that don't??

Is your argument that his choice of profession predetermined that he behave badly simply because the profession involves "stepping over the line"?

If that applies to comedians regarding personal interactions, it certainly applies to Hollywood producers and actors, politicians and newscasters regarding "going over the line" AND lying. ;)

1 point

You can't genuinely compare the lying of an actor when playing a role as the same kind of lying a fraudulent news source commits. I can somewhat respect closeted politicians and white lies like having real tits etc but big lies should also not go unpunished.

AlofRI(1843) Clarified
1 point

No, mm, I'm just saying that people sometimes pick up bad habits from their day to day activities. No excuse for them, but it happens.

Franken apologized, said he was ashamed, the victim accepted. It's a shame when people get more insulted than the VICTIM! It's between THEM.

Mr. Moore is another matter. What he (allegedly) did was perverted and criminal! There are several victims AND evidence to show it MUST be looked into. Waving a Bible around does not a saint make! Putting someone like that in the highest levels of government is ridiculous, and a smear on Christianity!

brontoraptor(12192) Disputed Banned
1 point

He was a comedian who made his living "horsing around

Aaah...so being an entertainer gives you a pass... "you're fired".

AlofRI(1843) Clarified
1 point

Obviously not as much of a pass as being a DA or Attorney General in AL. Getting kicked out of a mall for molesting teens is FAR more acceptable! I will say this, Franken should stay until he sees this child molester gets elected. If he doesn't, he can go. If he does get elected, he should stay ... "sauce for the goose", etc.. But then, there's also the question of Trump ... the "other" ADMITTED molester. The one that said, "When you're a star you can do anything!" Franken was a "star", BUT, not a "conservative star" ..., that's different. What?...wait...NO! Trump was not a "conservative star when he molested many of "his underlings" ... he was a CLINTON SUPPORTER! They visited each other, attended birthday parties, etc.. He gave money to their races. He was FOR "CHOICE"! He was FOR reasonable gun control! He was a...a...."liberal"! Guess what, WE don't want him ANYMOORE! (He must've realized that the conservatives were MOORE "liberal" when it came to his "hobbies")!?? :-(

2 points

The relativity of the observer implies a dualism which allows both positions to co-exist. I'm a fatalist because I recognise the future of the universe has already happened from a perspective set outside space-time, but our own experiences contradict that because they are all set within space-time.

EldonG(548) Clarified
2 points

Interesting stance, and about as close to mine as I can get to - but ultimately so damn nihilistic. I try to avoid that. I fail. A lot.

Nomenclature(1183) Clarified Banned
2 points

Interesting stance, and about as close to mine as I can get to - but ultimately so damn nihilistic. I try to avoid that. I fail. A lot.

I'd genuinely like to deny being a Nihilist, but if I want to remain honest then I probably can't. It's a shame, because in a lot of ways I'm the polar opposite of my childhood self. I was quick to believe in all manner of magics and mysteries.

Perhaps in fact, my disappointment with reality is exactly what is responsible for my adult Nihilism.

1 point

Please see my dispute to his argument to see why it fails to uphold determinism.

Jace(4530) Clarified Banned
1 point

Why avoid it? Genuinely curious.

1 point

Then you are conceding that the "reality outside of space-time continuum" is itself a randomised and free-will inclusive one.

Nomenclature(1183) Disputed Banned
2 points

Then you are conceding that the "reality outside of space-time continuum" is itself a randomised and free-will inclusive one.

Errr, no. I'm afraid that's some random gibberish you simply made up. What I said had nothing to do with randomisation, and the extension of my argument in terms of free will is that it both exists and doesn't exist, dependent upon whether the person you ask lives inside or outside of space-time.

Gibberish is not a rebuttal, my good man.

1 point

If all decisions... All actions, inactions, assumptions and conclusions are inevitable and furthermore inescapable then why hold anyone accountable for immorality? They couldn't help it, they inevitably had to do so as their will isn't free enough to escape their predetermined thought process.

The question in the middle of the prompt (why hold anyone accountable for immorality?) is answered by the rest of the prompt.

Because ALL actions are inevitable and inescapable, any action that holds someone accountable for immorality is also inevitable and inescapable.

For example, some particular criminal commits a crime because the universe is deterministically ordered such that he do so. It is ridiculous to say there is an inconsistency or an injustice in a jury finding him guilty and a judge sentencing him to prison.

The jury and the judge are bound by exactly the same deterministic principles that bound the criminal. "They couldn't help it, they inevitably had to do so as their will isn't free enough to escape their predetermined thought process."

1 point

Why not have anarchy instead? Why not lynch mob anyone we momentarily feel like lynching?

marcusmoon(248) Clarified
1 point

GL,

Why not have anarchy instead? Why not lynch mob anyone we momentarily feel like lynching?

I can only assume that, because we are not lynching anyone, it is because we have not been predetermined to have anarchy instead.

Seriously, I am a free will hardliner. There is no such thing as a situation wherein people have no control over our own behavior.

I do not care what your childhood was like, what stress you were under, your emotional set, or anything else. You had choices, and are responsible for them.

Otherwise there is no virtue for choosing justice over revenge, labor over sloth, kindness over avarice, etc..

1 point

Because you are using human standards of justice and morality.

The fall of humanity occured when we ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What does that mean? It means that we have the knowledge of good and evil, but we are not really the rightful judges of these things. Taking ourselves as the rightful judge of these things is why we keep screwing up. It's ok, this is how we were made. We are by nature, creatures of discrimination. It also can't be avoided, though maybe an ice pick to the forehead might work as medication.

What is good? Truth.

What is evil? Falsehood.

The universe is ultimately just with this worldview because everything happens because it had to happen that way. It was God's will that everything happened the way it did.

Why do people think reality is evil? Because they think they are the rightful judge of things. They are leaning on their own understanding. They are taking for themselves an idol before God. They put their faith in vain imaginings. It is better to have faith in The Supreme and Ultimate Reality.

You think that determinism defeats justice/morality, but it is quite the opposite. There is no justice/morality without determinism.

This is the will of God. If everything was created by the word of God, and the word is God, that means that God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscience.

What determines morality? Justice? Only the righteous judge, and that is God.

Without God, there is no justice or morality. Without God, there is nothing at all. This world would not exist if it was not for God.

Super Determinism. That's what it is about.

Also, see Bell's Theorem.

2 points

You're argument seems conflicted. You state that we are incapable of judging what is good or evil. Then you, le human, state that good is truth and evil is falsehood.

You then introduce our universe with a deterministic-sounding description of its past, but isn't god meant to have given free will? Are these not mutually exclusive?

Then you blatantly exempt yourself from your own predefined rules with a bunch of assumptions on the psychology of people. Can you please explain this to me in a way that doesn't make you sound hypocritical? I'm still willing to admit personal bias, but am beginning to reach the point of no return.

Perhaps you are not wrong about god's existence, but your interpretation of his work must surely be.

And how does Bell's theorem, which basically states you cannot use algebra to solve quantum mechanical problems, have any relevance with your argument? What, you think quantum mechanics variables are undeterminable? Because to an extent involving probability and logic, they are.

TzarPepe(336) Clarified
1 point

In order that scripture be fulfilled,

"He who knows does not speak.

He who speaks does not know.

He closes the mouth

And shuts the doors;

Blunts sharp edges,

Unties all tangles;

Softens the glare,

And blends with the dust.

This is called mystical union.

He who can attain this state

Is not concerned with being liked or disliked,

Benefited or harmed,

Exalted or despised.

Thus he is valued by the world."

It can be referred to as the cosmic joke. I am referring to the absurdity of attempting to express what is fundamentally transcendent of abstraction and uncreated through the medium of abstraction and creation.

That is why you have The Holy Spirit(The Spirit of Truth) through The Son (The Most Perfect Image) to witness The Father (The Supreme and Ultimate Reality).

Through a glass, though darkly. The relationship you have with God is very personal.

It isn't about me. My personal righteousness has little to do with anything. Indeed, I am not righteous. Only God is righteous. The same God that all of creation testifies of. The God I speak of is The Supreme and Ultimate Reality, and the secret is in that Name.

My interpretation is my interpretation. Interpretations are created things. God is Un-Created. That is what it means to be The Supreme and Ultimate Reality. It is not a contingent existence, but all existence is contingent on it. It is The Necessary Existence.

Created things are doubtful things. Certainly. You can be more certain that The Supreme and Ultimate Reality exists than anything else in creation, and though certainty and knowledge are creation, God is The Uncreated. However, it is through creation that we relate to God. That is how it is done. We live off The Word of God. When we breath, we breath in The Word. When we eat, we eat the flesh of The Word. When we drink, we drink the blood of The Word. The Word sustains us. You can be more certain of the existence of God than anything, and it is only through his word, with the spirit of truth, and seeing how they are One. Make no mistake, God is The Truth. If this was not the case, then we wouldn't really be talking about God. The fact that you experience anything at all is a testament that there is some form of existence. If there is some form of existence, there is reality. Experience shows us that reality as we perceive it is not reality as it truly is. Therefore, what we experience cannot be ultimate reality. Now we have a reality as it is perceived through a tool. So to the observer, or in the proper context, what is being perceived is a reality so far as perceptions are reality, but the tool being used to measure in large part determines or has the greatest impact on what is being measured . In other words, our experience is the result of a creative process. Our experience is created. See how this discrepancy between what we perceive and how things actually are relates to the idea of determinism and how it comes naturally from God's will? To truly realize God, what makes God holy and set apart from created things is essential. If you are looking at a created being, you are not looking at God, you are looking at an image of God at best. What does it mean that "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us"? It means when I speak of Jesus, The Word of God made flesh, I am talking about all of creation. Creation is the flesh of The Word. The entire universe is the flesh of God's word. Believe that all is done by The Will of God, and make peace with The Supreme and Ultimate Reality!

Free will can be experimentally proven to be an illusion. It can be observed experimentally that our will is limited. It should be obvious, on deep reflection, how there is an entire universe of causality weighing down on what actually makes up any reality and experience. When you look at the grand scheme of things, the very idea of free will can be seen as human arrogance. Yet it has been determined that we experience what some call "free will". So be it. So is the will of God. Making peace with and loving God is easily the best thing anyone can do for themselves. Sometimes the most selfless thing you can do is be selfish, and sometimes the most selfish thing you can do is be selfless. Seek first The Kingdom of God. God's will on Earth as it is in heaven. Surrendering to God is where all this leads. Everything you are doing has been determined by The Word and will of God. The free will is God. There is only One. There is no free will without God. My will is God's will, and so all is perfect. All is complete. I am a witness to the last day, the resurrection of the dead. I am a witness to The Holy Catholic Church. I am a witness to Christ's death and resurrection. I see how the realization of God is the realization of salvation, how "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". Amen.

I am nothing. I must become less so that THE WORD becomes more. All flesh is grass, scorched by the sun and blown away by the wind. The Word of God is eternal. With the spirit of Truth you can believe The Word, and believe God. Then you can see how "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." Then you can see for yourself that God is Salvation.

It's the good news. Rest assured, God has conquered death.

It has been soundly proven scientifically to me that isolating all variables in an experiment is impossible, and that science cannot be greater than The Supreme and Ultimate Reality. Science means "knowledge". Bell's Theorem happens to be a mathematical proof of this that I think is beautiful.

Yet, my faith is not in knowledge. I am not preaching gnosticism. I preach that God is greater, always greater.

Amarel(2390) Banned
1 point

Can you explain how determinism doesn't defeat justice/morality?

If we didn’t live in a causal universe, events and actions would be the product of truly random chance, which would indeed defeat justice.

As it is, people don’t act randomly. They act for reasons. This includes acting for reasons of justice or morality, which necessarily means accounting for the nature of the suspect action and the reason underlying it. None of which could be possible without the causal nature of the universe.

(A separate debate is whether causality necessitates determinism, but I assume many readers believe it is the case)

marcusmoon(248) Disputed
1 point

Amarel,

As it is, people don’t act randomly. They act for reasons. This includes acting for reasons of justice or morality, which necessarily means accounting for the nature of the suspect action and the reason underlying it. None of which could be possible without the causal nature of the universe.

The use of the phrase acting for reasons of necessarily implies free will, otherwise the reasons would be irrelevant, and the phrase (in a deterministic and causal universe) would be reacting to the forces of.

(A separate debate is whether causality necessitates determinism, but I assume many readers believe it is the case)

Maybe not.

I think determinism necessarily includes causality, but causality does not necessarily imply determinism.

For example, a universe that includes cause and effect could also include random factors . Some of the random factors could be initial causes, and some could be effects of multiple coinciding forces. This would be a causal universe that is not deterministic.

By the same token, there could be a causal universe without randomness, but with free will (assuming that free will is actually free and not a function of randomness.) When people exercise free will in choosing how to respond to events/circumstances, they are choosing to some degree what effect will proceed from a combination of causes (i.e., the forces of the circumstance combined with the choice of action in that circumstance.

Amarel(2390) Disputed Banned
1 point

The use of the phrase acting for reasons of necessarily implies free will, otherwise the reasons would be irrelevant

“Reasons” are the word we use for “causes” when discussing human action. The argument against free will is not the argument that people do not have reasons, its that causality means they don’t choose their reasons.

We can interchange reason and cause concerning inanimate objects too, it’s just less common language. An 8 ball doesn’t choose the movement of the cue ball, though that movement is the reason the 8 ball went in the corner pocket.

1 point

When we judge someone it is essential that we consider the possibility of the person being good and having the options to be able to choose. I'd like to think we prosecute for harmful decisions not harmful circumstances. For example you don't judge a falling brick for killing a human the same way as a human killing a human, presumably because:

1) the brick is predictable in it's affect in harming the human, it has a very restricted number of conceivable options.

2) the brick has an extremely limited ability to choose between any of the hypothetical options that may or may not result in the human's death.

If the universe is deterministic it violates the concepts of both a variety of options and the ability to choose. We all become falling bricks. Justice and morality become useless concepts for use against each other.

If the universe does operate in a deterministic fashion, we are clearly blissfully unaware of it, as it hasn't stopped us from foolishly dictating the moral relevance of people's actions on the whim of a jury from that period of time.

Whats more, if the actions taken by a person are predetermined, we can't suddenly stop and take the bigger picture from there; the moral judgement passed is also predetermined.

What I think is somewhat certain is that the argument 'determinism isn't a thing because then justice/morality isn't real' is completely false. Bad logical sequence. It is possible that the universe is deterministic while our concepts of justice/morality are imaginary.

1 point

Nomo,

If the universe does operate in a deterministic fashion, we are clearly blissfully unaware of it, as it hasn't stopped us from foolishly dictating the moral relevance of people's actions on the whim of a jury from that period of time.

Perhaps we only believe we have free will because we are predetermined to do so.

1 point

I know that you personally don't believe this but since this is an extremely common witty remark made by the other side I want to dispute you here and now to explain why this is a wrong line of argumentation.

The version of reality where everything is inevitable and definite would have absolutely no reason to give us the illusion of consciousness or free will. So, if you argue that the 'perfectly organised' reality has random errors or glitches such as consciousness and the illusion of free will then you are already conceding it's not perfectly determined at all.

Jace(4530) Banned
1 point

It's not clear to me why determinism would defeat either justice or morality, because it isn't clear to me why free will is necessary to either in the first place. Why does an agent have to be a free agent in order for them to be held to moral account?

If determinism is true then moral judgement of an agent is simply an observation of their inescapable character. It doesn't matter that they can't choose to be good or bad. What matters is whether they are, and whether we are determined to respond accordingly (which, generally speaking, does seem to be the case).

Incidentally, I'm not sure that defeating justice and morality would be such a bad thing after all...

marcusmoon(248) Clarified
2 points

Jace,

Why does an agent have to be a free agent in order for them to be held to moral account?

Morality is predicated on the concept expressed in the phrase you ought to do... not you cannot help but do...

Intrinsic to morality, then is agency, because ought specifically implies there are multiple options, that you are capable of choosing from among them, and there is one that is morally preferred.

Excellently worded, really excellently worded.

I will definitely bring the 'ought to' phrase into my future arguments against determinists who aren't nihilists.

Jace(4530) Clarified Banned
1 point

You're begging the question. Asserting that morality is predicated on oughtness when you construe oughtness to necessarily entail agency is effectively a restatement of the original claim I'm calling into question in the first place.

Why is morality necessarily predicated on oughtness? And why does oughtness necessarily entail agency?

1 point

Ultimately, no, I can't. That's something that rather bothers me. I have to assume that Sam Harris, a true genius, and expert in the field, understands it better than I do - but it still bothers me.

1 point

He is completely incorrect about his pain vs pleasure argument to combine determinism and morality.

If you want to represent his side, I'd be happy to poke holes.

EldonG(548) Clarified
2 points

You have completely failed to understand my stance, and his point. My stance is that I can't explain it. Arguing against that point would be utterly useless and even ridiculous. His point is strictly scientific - he is a neurobiologist, and according to the best current scientific understanding in the way genetics, the brain, etc. physically work, determinism is the most correct conclusion. If you want to argue against that, you're arguing against science, and a scientist to represent it. Have fun.

That doesn't feel right to me, but I recognize that things are not always simply as they seem.

You are mixing two different things, a description of reality and the subjective experience of that reality. Determinism is incompatible with our subjective experience of the world. We seem to be hard wired to believe that we have a free will and that people make choices that deserve moral approbation or punishment. However, our intuitive certainty of free will does not make it true of the external world.

As a description of the external world, determinism seems to be more logically coherent. It seems to me free will does not add anything to the description of reality. It is only posited to help justify our intuitive experience of the world.

Morality does not seem to be a fundamental part of our description of reality. At best it can seen as laws of rational behavior between interdependent individuals with competing objectives. But that is not what you are talking about. You want a real meaning behind "moral desert" and "justice". These ideas do not have a place in a materialistic description of reality. However, they are fundamental to our experience of reality. When you are acting in the capacity of a social scientist describing human behavior, you should not need to use the subjective language of "justice" or "rights" or other words like them. In all other cases, as a person living in and experiencing a social reality, our intuitive moral categories are fundamental to how we think and cooperate.

It is important to realize that these categories are not entirely real and should not be followed off cliffs. We must not be dogmatic in our adherence to them. An exploration into the aforementioned "laws of rational behavior between interdependent individuals with competing objectives" can help us domesticate the content of our moral thinking: the rights people have, the ranking of virtues, the extent of personal responsibility, etc.

EldonG(548) Clarified
1 point

I think you're on to something, here...but my brain is having trouble digesting it all. I'll try to remember to re-read this later, and mull it over.

1 point

Okay but what you are not understanding is that metaphysical philosophy is about explaining... Not describing reality... Not narrating the experience of one's subjective reality but explaining how both can coincide in whatever we call 'reality'.

This is a task of explaining, not describing and determinism doesn't explain shit but does describe what a control freak or immoral person may wish reality was in order to scapegoat their brutal ways of living.

nobodyknows(745) Disputed
1 point

I'm not sure I understand your point. My point is that a common mistake made in metaphysics is mixing descriptions of reality with explanations of our experience of that reality. Since I believe that not all of our a priori assumptions of about reality are true, we should be careful when making decisions based on them.

This is important because I think we can know that reality is not how we believe it to be. For example, some people may be afraid to walk out onto a glass bridge over a large height no matter how much they know about the tolerances of bridge. They know that it is safe, but they cannot believe it. I think it is similar with moral intuitions. We may know that a certain brain defect causes violent behavior, but no matter how well we know that fact, if one such person hurts us or someone we care about, it will be almost impossible to suppress the moral beliefs we have about the need for retributive justice. However, this emotion evolved to manage bad actors who are capable of changing behavior. If this is not the case, we should use our reasoning abilities to design a more appropriate response.

Jace(4530) Clarified Banned
1 point

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "domesticate the content of our moral thinking"?

nobodyknows(745) Clarified
1 point

I mean changing society's norms to reflect a more rational morality. For example, we may reflect that homosexuality does not have harmful externalities and that our moral indignation against this behavior does not have a rational justification. Moral leaders can then set out to undermine the norms, rights, virtues, taboos, etc that are used to emotionally justify the persecution of gays. We shift the meaning of marriage and sex from procreation to love, and remove from the concept of love any dependence on gender. We remove the validity of religious proscriptions from the public sphere. We shift the ordering of values to place free expression above conformity. The result is hopefully a more rational morality that is still viewed as legitimate.

Notice that in this process we are always using the language of traditional morality in effecting change. We don't design new morals, we change existing morality slowly and continuously from the inside, emphasizing the good parts, suppressing the bad. We treat morality as something organic. This is why I like the word "domestication" to refer to this process.

I don't believe the reality of anything referred to by names like "right" or the like. I just have doubts regarding our ability to publicly design and implement a new morality.