Scientifically speaking, how does one distinguish between moral and immoral behavior?
For instance, using the scientific method, is it wrong for an atheist to rape a little girl to death?
It's wrong for anyone to rape anyone to death, science or no science.
I find that morality and science are...incompatible. That is, you can't use science to discover the morailty of an act. Morals I find come from personal philosophies and spiritual systems. The scientific method is used for experimenting with quantifiable and scientific data...kinda hard to use that sort of information to find out if it's wrong to rape a little girl to death.
Using the scientific method one would start by asking a question. "Is it wrong for an atheist to rape a little girl to death?" Next the tester must do background research. In this research they would assess a number of different sources, such as: how have countries/societies reacted to these kinds of acts in the past? Is it illegal? If so, what punishments are given for the crime? How do people view someone who has committed that crime?
They can then form a hypothesis that, based on the existing data, says raping a little girl is immoral. Then they would move to the testing phase where they could create a hypothetical scenario and present it to a sample group of all different nationalities and beliefs. The group will then examine the hypothetical scenario and rate it on a scale of morality, along with several other scenarios to make sure they get varied results. From that testing phase, they determined that most test subjects labeled the act was immoral, confirming their hypothesis. Therefore, the conclusion would be that yes, it is immoral for an atheist to rape a little girl to death.
Because of the variety of test subjects, it can be determined that this morality is based on a consensus among the human species, not necessarily a specific belief system.
But all you've done is determine what the consensus of opinions was. Isn't the Scientific Method supposed to be objective in nature?
It is objective; it's telling us what humans think is moral. It makes no judgments on whether or not it's superior to other forms of morality.
I am secular humanist, as far as my flavor of atheism. Scientifically, most humans have what is known as empathy, or the ability to imagine what another human would feel in another's shoes. It is one of the reasons sad movies make most of us sad, we empathize with the character that is hurt.
So in order to decide what is moral for an individual one must simply ask themselves how they feel about having the same thing done to them.
I don't want to be robbed, therefore I don't rob other people.
I don't wan to be lied to, so I try not to lie to others.
I don't want to be raped to death, so I don't rape little girls to death.
I can also empathize with the loss I would cause others if I was to kill their friend or family member and I would rather not live with that.
As far as Scientific method:
Question: Is it wrong according to society to rape little girls to death?
Hypothesis: I believe it is wrong and I assume society agrees with me.
Data: Almost all countries punish rape with prison or castration. Murder is considered wrong by all countries throughout the world.
Conclusion: Rape and murder is considered wrong by most of our entire species around the world. Therefore for humans at least, it is morally wrong. Simplistic verson but it works.
Social contract theory. As a society we do what's best for the whole. We don't call it right or wrong. We call it expedient. Utilitarianism. Asking science to measure morality is almost exactly like asking someone how heavy the color purple is. It's nonsense.
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