Wow, what a season that was. We’ve discussed personhood, morality, moral theories, Nietzsche’s critique of morality, free will, a conversation about objective vs subjective morality, ethics in politics, etc.
The Fresh AiR Crew
Hosts / Co-hosts
Joe has continued to ask a number of questions that have left the guys wondering if he really is a thick as he seems. They have to allow him to be there though, otherwise, there isn’t anyone to do the production or hosting.
You can read some of Joe’s articles here.
Dave has now handed in his dissertation for his masters and will be annoying you all with even more articles and YouTube videos than you can imagine.
You can read some of Dave’s articles here.
Martijn loves ethics & politics, as took us through both our personhood and political philosophy sections of season 3.
Martijn is looking forward to next season where he can discuss power in more detail.
You can read some of Martijn articles here.
Kriss has been working on growing his hair out this season, and now matches on of the walls in his kitchen.
Kriss started work on a mini comic series but has long forgotten about it.
You can view those and his older artices here.
Andy has been told he is no longer to eat babies and has to cut back on the biscuits too. As such, he has become increasingly grumpy and got incredibly aggressive on the stream.
Personhood was the characteristics that make us a person, and what that applied to.
Aspects of Personhood
- Life – intrinsic value
- Physical Feeling, from basic reactionary feeling to a variety of physical stations
- Emotional Feeling
- Reasoning Skills (rational, logical, conceptual etc)
There are different theories of personhood, some more binary than others which I think we should visit in the future.
What is morality?
Behaviours of Good and Bad, Right and wrong behaviour.
A moral is a judgment on a behaviour as moral (good), immoral (bad), amoral (neither)
What is morality’s purpose?
Speaking Normatively, Morality’s purpose is human flourishing which is does through building a collaborative, stable and cohesive society which in turn will bring the society together and enable survival.
There may be others that say it is something else, but they are speaking descriptively. They could say that morality is eating cheese sandwiches, and anyone not eating cheese sandwiches is therefore immoral. Descriptively they would be correct, normatively they would not.
When we speak about Normative vs Descriptive
Normative is the way things ought to be, the way any logical or rational person would describe them given the same information, it is what IS right regardless of what people BELIEVE. Consider how theory or evolution ought to be described in the realm of science, there are normative uses for these terms that might not reflect how it is used in the real world with colloquial definitions and the like. This brings us on to Descriptive.
Descriptive is speaking of the way things might work in practice. Consider again how someone might say theory only means idea, or evolution is a change in kind.
One of the common issues we find is many of our fellow atheists will insist theist use the normative definitions for things like theory, evolution etc, and then when it suites them, will switch to descriptive definitions of atheism, morality, subjective etc
An oversimplification of the moral theories we have walked through in our episodes
Hedonism is mostly about seeking pleasure
Utilitarianism is about Maximising Pleasure & Wellbeing (maximising utility)
- Act Utilitarianism is judging the acts that get us there
- Preference satisfaction utilitarianism is more “first order” preferences being maximised
- Rule utilitarianism is a set of rules designed to maximise utility, but it is deontological so following the rules is what is important rather than the consequences
Welfarism is about wellbeing, but it isn’t about maximising it, it is more “first order” wellbeing
Kantianism is looking at a situation and saying, “if everybody did this would it be good/bad” and making a rule.. e.g. if everyone killed everyone else, if everyone raped everyone else, if everyone was kind to everyone else etc.
Divine Command Theory is following God’s laws, usually spoke about in terms of the Bible or Quran.
Virtue Ethics is acting in accordance with virtues and how we can make ourselves the best selves we can be.. a super version of us.
Moral Relativism is the society gets to decide what is moral, and therefore it is moral for that society regardless of what any other society or individual might think
Moral Subjectivism is the individual gets to decide what is moral for them, and therefore it is moral for them to do regardless of what any other individual or society might thing. E.g. if someone thought it was moral to rape, murder, steal, etc it would be moral for them to do so.
Nietzsche’s Critique can’t really be summarised much but he definitely got you thinking about the power struggle and reasons certain morals came to be and in fact if society needs to have different types of morality applied to different folks, e.g. an artist in pain vs someone doing a 9-5 might actually both benefit from different types of morality. Consider you wouldn’t want a surgeon drunk doing your surgery at 11am, but for an artist it might be part of their inspiration of great works.
Honestly, it is an episode that I think everyone should check out if they haven’t already.
- Hedonism – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C03
- Act Utilitarianism – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C04
- Preference Satisfaction Utilitarianism – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C05
- Welfarism – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C06
- Kantianism – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C07
- Rule Utilitarianism – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C08
- Divine Command Theory – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C09
- Virtue Ethics – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C10
- Moral Subjectivism and Relativism – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C11
- Nietzsche’s Critique – Fresh AiR – S02:E02:C12
We discussed the different definitions of free will and its impact on morality if we have no real choice
In conclusion, if there is no free will then morality has no real meaning as there is no agency or intent and we are nothing more than an avalanche destroying a village. However, even if there is no free will, it is better that we act that there is and that morality has meaning.
On Morality: Subjective vs Objective, a Discussion
Dave and Kriss discussed morality at length (with Me[Joe] unable to prevent myself from butting in occasionally). There were some atypical definitions around ethics and morality, and we summarised that descriptively, morality has subjective, relative, and objective elements to it and is not wholly subjective as many would proclaim. Normatively, morality is objective, though Kriss does not feel that we can have a normative approach to morality due to the rationality debate.
- On Morality: Subjective vs Objective – A Discussion – Fresh AiR – S02:E04
- On Morality: Part 2 – Subjective Morality
- Objective / Subjective – Morals / Morality – Conflated and Misunderstood Terms – Volume 3
Martijn hosted a number of chapters around political ethics around legitimacy, obligation, justice, freedom, and ideologies.
I think we all learned a fair bit and we should definitely delve deeper in to some of those topics in future episodes.
- An Intro to Political Ethics – Fresh AiR – S02:E05:C01
- Obligation – Political Ethics – Fresh AiR – S02:E05:C02
- Legitimacy – Fresh AiR -S02:E05:C03
- Justice – Fresh AiR – S02:E05:C04
- Freedom – Fresh AiR – S02:E05:C05
- Legislation – Fresh AiR – S02:E05:C06
- Ideologies – Fresh AiR – S02:E05:C07
We’ve actually had a lot of feedback on this season, a lot of love and shares.
One bit of feedback we had was that we should cover virtue ethics in more detail at some point, with both aristotalean and contemporary views.
Another was that we were a bit harsh on deontology, which I explained we were discussing the problems with both consequentialist and deontological moral theories.
We’ve had some odd responses from folks who seem to have not listened to the podcasts before responding to, and the standard array of ‘morality is subjective’ from folks who haven’t taken the time to actually learn the topic.
Summary of the Season
I’ve enjoyed having a focus this season, but felt that an entire season on one topic is a bit much, moving forward I would personally like to diversify again. We could even create playlists on places like Spotify, or an Index of topics the podcasts relate to, so if someone was interested in just ethics and morality they could listen to all of those episodes from all seasons, as am sure we will be discussing this sort of thing again in the future.
The multiple chapters made it much easier for me to edit, so if we do want to cover a big topic on the future I would suggest we do it in 30-60 minute segments. How did you guys find them?
I personally would love to cover off; New Atheism, Value, Conspiracies theories and Theoriests, argumentation styles, scepticism, beliefs, knowledge, logic, certainty, Philosophy of Science, Issues with the scientific method, and a deeper look into virtue ethics.
Do you guys have any other topics you think would be great for the coming seasons?
Ideas: Power, dirty hands, philosophy of mind, self, free speech, gender, sexuality etc.
Fresh AiR Season 3
Fresh AiR takes a lot of work, both to plan and produce great episodes. When we haven’t had as much planning, the episdoes are not as structured and are open to wild tanjents. Whilst this can be fun, it also makes them even harder to produce.
From season 3 we will be releasing our polished episodes MONTHLY, however, if you would like access to the unedited podcasts then please join our Patreon page, tier 3 and up: https://www.patreon.com/AnswersinReason
Tier 2 and up also gets early access to the podcasts as they are produced.
We already have a few episodes up for the unedited and are working on producing some finals.
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Want to Watch us Live?
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The Published SciPhi Show can be found in the following YouTube playlist:
We’ve just started a new project called SciPhi Shortz! Essentially 5-15 minute videos going over the basics of a topic in a way that might be more digestible to people that would like to watch the streams, but don’t have 2 hours, so they can dip in and out to the bits that interest them!
Don’t have time for the longer streams? We’ve got you covered. We created a playlist of various clips and highlights from the stream. These are a combination of interesting segments, jokes and funny bits, questions from the audience and times when we stack it and think you deserve a laugh at our expense.
Fresh AiR Podcast
The Fresh AiR Podcast is still going strong and can be heard in a number of outlets.
For the full experience, we suggest the website: https://www.answers-in-reason.com/series/fresh-air/ as we provide a number of links to various resources discussed in the article, however, can be seen on a number of podcast outlets such as: iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | Spotify | Podplayer – and we are not limited to these either, just search for Answers in Reason or Fresh AiR in your favourite podcast syndication.
Fresh AiR Videos!
Whilst the SciPhi show is quick live videos discussing relevant and current topics, with Season 3 we tried a few different things with Fresh AiR, inclusive of videos taking people through concepts.
These can be found both on the site, and in this YouTube playlist:
At Answers in Reason we provide all our content to you for free, but we do have server costs and would love to be in a position to provide you content more regularly than we do.
As such we have started a Patreon page.
Each Tier has the benefits of the previous tier plus additional benefits
Tier 1 provides basic access to the community.
Here you will see any of our private blog posts, memes, and anything else we share just to our Patreon. You also get basic access to our discord server.
Tier 2 gives early access
Before we release our articles and podcasts to the public, you get access as soon as they are produced.
Tier 3 gives enhanced access
We will give you the podcast server address with the ability to listen in to the conversation live, and message us whilst on AiR.
You will receive access to the podcasts before they have been edited. The raw show, including any faux pas, and none of the after-show additions like the soundbytes.
You will also get enhanced access on the discord server, and be allowed to join us on the SciPhi streams. (Subject to availability, we don’t want to crash the server)
And lastly, we will send you an AiR T-shirt after 3 months of membership.
Tier 4 gives pro access
As a dedicated fan, we not only give you all the above (plus free delivery on the AiR T-Shirt World Wide) and additional exclusive content but also we have a circa 30 minute interview, finding out about your life and interests, and what you hope to gain from the community.
There will also be additional gifts from time to time, clothing, mugs, etc.
Tier 5 gives the Apex of Access
You get all the previous benefits PLUS you get to suggest and cohost a topic for Fresh AiR. (The topic does have to be running with the theme of Fresh AiR, e.g. a Philosophical/Scientific angle of sorts)
Tiers may be subject to review and change in future if required, but you will always be informed in advance.
I’m Joe. I write under the name Davidian, not only because it is a Machine Head song I enjoy but because it was a game character I used to role-play that was always looking to better himself.
This is one of many things I hope to do with Answers In Reason.
I run our Twitter and IG accounts, as well as share responsibility for our FB group and page, and maintain the site, whilst writing articles, DJing, Podcasting (and producing), keeping fit and more.
Feel free to read a more detailed bio here: https://www.answers-in-reason.com/about/authors/4/
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