Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quiz Jan26

1. The Euthyphro Dilemma implies what about the properties of goodness?

2. What is Kierkegaard's (and Woody Allen's) existentialist point about Abraham and morality?

3. Does Baggini think it matters whether judgments like "pain is bad" are factual?

4. Did Sartre deny that human life lacks purpose or meaning?

5. Why doesn't Baggini think belief in an afterlife solves the problem of meaning?

6. What's the nirvana dilemma?

Discussion Questions
  • Can you admit the truth of cultural relativism without admitting the ultimate arbitrariness of moral judgments? If you insist on objectivity in morals, must you reject cultural relativism? 
  • Which is the more important choice, Abraham's (to follow what he perceives as a divine command) or his peers' (to follow the rule of law and humane ethics)?
  • What do you think David Hume meant when he said reason is and should be the slave of the passions? Do you agree? Must reason and feeling be antagonistic or hierarchical?
  • Do you agree with Aristotle's characterization of a good person? 48
  • Do you agree that the mere fact of consequences is enough to "get morality going"? 49 If you were stranded on an island alone, would you still (in principle at least) be subject to ethical evaluation and accountability?
  • What do you think of the "nihilistic mantra"? 57 What's your answer to the question "why do you bother to get up in the mornings"? (See RD's reply...)
  • Do you believe your life has an externally-imposed and objective purpose? If not, do you regret that?
  • Is it possible to live meaningfully without goals?
  • Does evolution confer meaning?
  • Do you think most people lead meaningful-enough lives? Could they, if they appreciated life's simple goods?
  • Do you know any stereotypically-shallow atheists? (68) Or theists?
  • Do you want to live longer, or forever? Would your life mean more to you, if you did?
  • Who's your favorite celeb atheist?
  • Have you traveled in a place like the Czech Republic? Was it unpleasantly devoid of meaning? 


  1. Is it possible to live meaningfully without goals?

    I think it is possible to leave a meaningful life without goals. One would probably tend to live in the moment more than anything, and that's probably a hard thing to do. Taking everything as it comes. But, I do not think it is possible to live a life without goals...I don't see how that happens.

  2. Quiz/discussion questions
    What is the purpose of the robot in the comic clip above? And what did you think about this clip correlating it with the two chapters we have just read.

  3. Do you want to live longer, or forever? Would your life mean more to you, if you did?

    No. Whenever it is my time to go, I will be ready. I am not afraid of the ideas of death and what may or may not be waiting for me on "the other side." My life is meaningful to me whether or not if I live through the end of tomorrow. I do not think the amount of time I lived on this Earth would matter because I would only become a distant memory one day, anyways. I wouldn't even have the opportunity to regret anything... because I would be dead.

    Quiz/Discussion Question...
    How do you feel about the ideas of obeying authority? If you were in Abraham's shoes, what would you have done?

    1. If I were to hear voices in my head convincing me to kill my hypothetical offspring, I'd probably go see a psychiatrist. However, if I were literally the biblical figure Abraham, I would be concerned about who was speaking to me. Assuming a context of biblical mythology, how did Abraham know whether God or Satan was speaking to him? Satan certainly seems like a figure that would tell someone to kill a child.

    2. I certainly agree with the question you have proposed to us. From my understanding, the Devil is known to disguise himself in ways that will be appealing to us as an individual in order to persuade us to further his will of devious ways upon us, if that makes sense. However, from the other viewpoint, you are meant to have faith in the words of the Lord and believe it is Him speaking with you. Personally, I wouldn't kill my family no matter who was telling me that I needed to... but that's just me.

  4. Alexandria RobertsJanuary 26, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    Does evolution confer meaning?

    No. It suffers the same affliction as the Sartre "essence" concept. Evolution imparts only the biological urge to procreate. It gives a function, not significance or meaning (61).

  5. Alexandria RobertsJanuary 26, 2016 at 8:52 AM

    Quiz Question

    What are Kant's two types of imperatives?

  6. "Who's your favorite celeb atheist?"

    I'm personally partial to Richard Dawkins. I've watched quite a few of the debates he has participated in, and he is certainly an intelligent man. While I'm skeptical of his hardline stance that religion has no benefits, it's interesting to see it put up against other viewpoints.

  7. •Do you agree that the mere fact of consequences is enough to "get morality going"?

    I feel many persons that are without a framework of socialized morality (whatever that may be for the persons in question) often have consequences placed upon them that do in fact start morality. At least from my personal life I myself have went from an uncaring self-serving being to a growing pillar of moral bearing, without the help of a divine connection beyond those around me on my path. Military experiences tend to do this for some.

  8. Supplemental Question: Could unequal sentencing practices within our prison population be attributed towards "our belief" as a country of God and morality being one and the same?

    I tend to think a lot about how judgments coming from faith based positions could warp the ability of justice to be handed out appropriately.

  9. "In order for a few to be immortal many must die", this is a quote from the movie In Time, and given the nature of the words does it not seem that an eternal life would be a curse even if it was spent in a state of bliss?

  10. Who's your favorite celeb atheist?

    Neil Degrasse Tyson is my favorite because of his passion for astronomy and trying to understand the unknown.

  11. Do you believe your life has an externally-imposed and objective purpose? If not, do you regret that?

    No, I do not and no, I do not. I feel that not having an imposed purpose frees me to decide what or who I want to be.

    That being said, I could see where someone would like the comfort of having their lives and decisions made for them, though that kind of attitude can lead to cults and worse.

  12. There is "adult language" in this clip, as a heads up. Still, I like it and think it's appropriate.


  13. favorite celeb atheist.

    "There doesn't need to be a god for me. There's something in people spiritual, thats godlike. I don't feel like doing things just because people say things, but i also don't really know if it's better to just not believe in anything, either." Angelina Jolie

  14. Do you believe your life has an externally-imposed and objective purpose? If not, do you regret that?

    No and no. I think that the ability to decide for myself not only gives me a better attitude about life, but also makes me feel more responsible for my own actions, life choices, etc.

  15. Our group looked at the question as to whether or not evolution conferred meaning. We decided that while it may not confer meaning in and of itself, the fact that we evolved reason kind of created the fact that we are the only beings capable of looking for meaning.

  16. Dilvin, Jason, and I discussed the true ring of consequence being an ignition to morality. Given the natural state of being we are all never without a sense of relation be it social or environmental unless you make the choice against it to do so. So even being in isolation, consequence of thought can take hold and give pause to a now seen lower decision and choose higher paths independent of faith.

  17. Jay, Jack, and I looked at the question of Whether or not you could live a fulfilled life, without goals. The discussion became more or less us talking about what determines a fulfilled life. Each of us had different view point of fulfillment, but we agreed that to each person, fulfillment in life is based on how the person views their life. If they are content without having goals, they are fulfilled in their existence.

  18. Phil, Lance and I discussed the choices made by Abraham and his peers'. We agreed that we would probably all be a little concerned if a voice or presence that claimed ultimate divinity commanded us to kill our children. That being said, in the case that the God of Abraham was truly as it is biblically described as all knowing and all loving, then perhaps Abraham's choice was the most important. However, we essentially agreed that this choice is only more important than that to follow "humane ethics" in the case that a truly all-powerful God is speaking to us. Moreover, a majority of our group seemed to perceive the likelihood of being addressed by God as very minute, and therefore, following humane ethics would be a more important decision. This led to more discussion of whether or not humane ethics are actually inherent, or if morals are just a system established by human life to yield the most favorable results for the population.

  19. A continuation on the discussion of evolution and morality:

    If morality is merely a byproduct of social evolution that we have developed by understanding the consequences of certain actions, does this not create a dilemma? If there is no objective standard of morality that has been always present and morality has just evolved by understanding consequences then mustn't the atheist say that there is no inherent value in following the morals other than avoidance of consequences. However, Baggini argues that if one merely follows moral decisions to avoid the negative consequences then that isn't morality at all (pg. 40). For example if pedophilia is only immoral because we have realized that it has negative consequences for ourselves then it is not morality at all but just avoiding consequences. But if pedophilia is inherently wrong wouldn't the only option left be to say that there is some sort of objective standard of morality that has always been present?

    1. I think it is a mistake to only think about morality in terms of consequences. There are other important factors to consider as well. There's empathy, a sense of fairness, etc. There's a TED talk by Frans de Waal here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcJxRqTs5nk that doesn't even scratch the surface of the issue, but may still be a good starting point.

  20. Austin, Steven, and I discussed ways in which cultures have changed their morality throughout history, but we were still discussing the issue when the class time ran out.

  21. Jenna G. Quentin H, and Andrew H. We shared our favorite celebrity atheists and discussed whether or not one could live a meaningful life without goals; we agreed this would largely depend on one's definition of a goal.