AS85: Jonathan Figdor

This week Jonathan Figdor joins us to discuss a multitude of topics. First up, he’s promoting a new book, Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart. That can be found on Amazon or on the home page here : http://www.atheistmindhumanistheart.com/

Also at that link you can find info on his ReThink prize! It sounds really cool and I’m thinking maybe we should organize some entries for the podcast! Let’s win!

We also get into some great discussion on morality, chaplaincy, and plenty of other stuff too!

3 thoughts on “AS85: Jonathan Figdor”

  1. Jonathan says that morality is subjective because it is based on subjective preferences of individuals… but subjective preferences of individuals are based on objective facts about those individuals. All of our subjective preferences can be represented as objective facts about our bodies and our brains.

    To take a step back…. Would Jonathan agree that subjectivity emerges from objective processes? I would think so – otherwise he would have to postulate a magical brainless kind of subjectivity.

    So if objectivity and subjectivity occur at different levels of analysis, how can we present a dichotomy between them?

    The language of subjectivity may be appropriate when discussing social dynamics, negotiating tradeoffs, adjudicating conflicts.

    The language of objectivity may be appropriate when discussing facts about human brains, preferences, etc.

    A human who states their individual preferences may be seen as 1) describing objective facts about their brain (objective morality) or 2) engaging in a discussion or negotiation (subjective morality).

    Does this resolve the objective vs. subjective morality?

  2. Interesting point, and I think this is particularly thoughtful – “The language of subjectivity may be appropriate when discussing social dynamics, negotiating tradeoffs, adjudicating conflicts.” But I disagree that the language of objectivity is appropriate in describing facts about human preferences. When we are talking about preferences, we are talking about people’s subjective experiences, so the subjective frame is best.

  3. Jonathan,

    Thank you for replying, it is great to engage with you directly!

    Sounds like we may be in agreement about the objective and the subjective taking place at different levels of analysis, rather than presenting a dichotomy. I find it difficult to pick the best frame for examination of morality, as I find both objective and subjective frames to be very useful.

    The subjective frame seems more useful for things like asserting individual rights, expressing uniqueness, resolving value disputes, and setting priorities. The objective frame seems more useful for things like informing decision making, building consensus, and achieving priorities.

    When the subjective frame is overvalued, we get things like cultural relativism. When the objective frame is overvalued, we get things like social conservatism or communism. Both perspectives are important and useful. In order to have good conversations about them, I think it is important not to poison the well by asserting the objective/subjective dichotomy of morality.

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