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Author Topic:   A critique of moral relativism
ikabod
Member (Idle past 3988 days)
Posts: 365
From: UK
Joined: 03-13-2006


Message 196 of 219 (417304)
08-20-2007 7:20 AM
Reply to: Message 195 by Rrhain
08-19-2007 10:04 PM


Re: Reality check
oh im so tempted .. but no as i said keping to the OP ..
rephrasing ... when do you identify that a moral question has arisen .. if everything is realtive and dependamt on circumstance .. with no fixed points to refere how do you spot the moral question ?
Because morality is a construct of social interaction. If the action is not a social one, what on earth is the point in asking if it is "moral"?
but as we are talking about the use of morality ..of course we are talking about social interaction... are you saying ALL aspects of social interaction result in a moral question ?
quote:
and to which parts of the event do you aim the question at.. the act , the motive , the out come , the value , the limits .
you say
Why limit it? Surely you've heard the concepts of "short term" and "long term," yes?
fine im happy with you answer ,i was just asking where you place the moral burden , you take the event as a single unit .
yes ive heard of short and long term , do you mean in referance to the question or the answer ..

This message is a reply to:
 Message 195 by Rrhain, posted 08-19-2007 10:04 PM Rrhain has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 197 by Rrhain, posted 08-25-2007 2:33 AM ikabod has replied

  
Rrhain
Member (Idle past 1367 days)
Posts: 6349
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 197 of 219 (417881)
08-25-2007 2:33 AM
Reply to: Message 196 by ikabod
08-20-2007 7:20 AM


Re: Reality check
ikabod responds to me:
quote:
when do you identify that a moral question has arisen .. if everything is realtive and dependamt on circumstance .. with no fixed points to refere how do you spot the moral question ?
Just as I said: Morality is a social phenomenon. Things that aren't social phenomena don't have a question of morality.
quote:
are you saying ALL aspects of social interaction result in a moral question ?
Ya think?
Yes, all questions of social interaction have a moral component. That morality doesn't necessarily have to be a huge consideration, but it is there.
This sorta leads into another discussion I've been having elsewhere: Is there a distinction between etiquette and morality? That is, can something be "polite" and yet at the same time "not nice"? I say yes. Here's a personal example:
I was at the movies, Sunday night, last showing. Theatre is practically empty. I am the only person in my row. There is a completely empty row right in front of me. There is a pathway that leads across the theatre at the front of the house and a similar one in the back. The way the entrance to the theatre is, you come from the back, along the sides, and are deposited right at the opening of my row along the sides of the house.
So I'm sitting there, and a couple of kids come along my row, get to me, and the one in front says, "Excuse me." I look at him and say, "No. Go around." He looks shocked, "What?" I repeat myself, "No. Go around."
Was that "rude"? I would say no. I did not raise my voice. I did not call them names. I did not lecture them. I did not escalate or extend the encounter (all of which they eventually did to me). Oh, I will happily accept that I should have said, "Please go around," but the basic concept is still there: While it would have been "nice" of me to have got up and let them pass, I was certainly under no obligation to do so and was quite polite in my refusal of their request.
Note, if circumstances had been different, then my actions would have changed: If there had been somebody else in the row on the other side of me, of course I would let them by since they might be going to join them. If they had already inconvenienced a group of others on the way to me, I'd let them by since it would be rude of me to force those other innocents to be bothered again.
At any rate, the interaction has a moral dimension: A request for a favor was made. It is "nice" and "good" to grant favors. But in an "absolute" sense, one seeking to always do "good" would always grant a favor if physically possible. But the relativist understands that sometimes the "good" that comes from granting a favor will lead to a greater "evil" down the line and thus, you do something "bad" now (refusing the favor) in order to prevent something worse from happening.
quote:
i was just asking where you place the moral burden , you take the event as a single unit .
No, not so much "a single unit" but rather "not isolated." Something can be "good" now and "bad" later. The fact that things change later doesn't alter the fact that right here and now, it would be good.
quote:
yes ive heard of short and long term , do you mean in referance to the question or the answer ..
Non sequitur. Please rephrase.
Hint: Please stop using "question" and "answer" in this context. I don't know what you mean by them.
[And to finish out the story: Apparently, my refusal so insulted his masculinity that he got all of his friends to come down the row so that I could say, "No. Go around," to all of them. Those that didn't manage to have a shot at it waited until the end of the movie, during the credits (which I watch), to do it. One of them, at that point, decided that he was going to cross anyway and started crawling over me...then caught his foot, tripped, and fell. Now, considering the neighborhood of the theatre and the fact that I was alone compared to 10 of them, I consider myself somewhat lucky that it didn't turn into a physical fight. But, I'm not sorry that I did it. The last time I was at the movies, same theatre, some very large women decided to cross the theatre using the row I was in...along with a good dozen other people, thereby making things difficult for all of us as there really wasn't any room for them to get by. Where does this attitude of entitlement come from? It would never occur to me to cross a theatre using a row that had people in it.]

Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 196 by ikabod, posted 08-20-2007 7:20 AM ikabod has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 198 by ikabod, posted 08-25-2007 4:45 AM Rrhain has replied

  
ikabod
Member (Idle past 3988 days)
Posts: 365
From: UK
Joined: 03-13-2006


Message 198 of 219 (417890)
08-25-2007 4:45 AM
Reply to: Message 197 by Rrhain
08-25-2007 2:33 AM


Re: Reality check
ok you managed to answer all my questions, even the one you where unclear on ...)..
i now have a idea of how you view morality .. which is different to me , and i do not think we will agree or draw closer .. so lets leave it at that ......
to answer your etiquette and morality point .. yes totally different , etiquette can allow you to be a snob and very " not nice" while remaining "polite"
.. my example is , i always try to open a door and stand to one side as someone else comes along , man or woman , i try to be PC , if they ignore me and walk through the held open door , i will smile and say "thank you" in a neutral voice ..yes i can be a swine .. oh the fun responces .. from hrrrmph ,to mock shame ,to incressed walking speed , to a stumbled err yes thanks erer . Happly i must say most people say thanks or speak to me as i hold the door .
you example seems to be selfcentered/ selfimportant thinkers who have no etiquette .

This message is a reply to:
 Message 197 by Rrhain, posted 08-25-2007 2:33 AM Rrhain has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 199 by Rrhain, posted 08-25-2007 5:26 AM ikabod has not replied

  
Rrhain
Member (Idle past 1367 days)
Posts: 6349
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 199 of 219 (417894)
08-25-2007 5:26 AM
Reply to: Message 198 by ikabod
08-25-2007 4:45 AM


Re: Reality check
ikabod responds to me:
quote:
etiquette can allow you to be a snob and very " not nice" while remaining "polite"
No, being a snob, no matter how well couched, is not polite. Just because one doesn't use coarse language or physical violence doesn't mean one is being polite. Demeaning, denigrating behaviour, no matter how sugared, is still demeaning and denigrating.
quote:
you example seems to be selfcentered/ selfimportant thinkers who have no etiquette .
Oh, everybody has etiquette. After all, the kids didn't just plow into my legs, kicking them aside, and tossing a sarcastic, "S'cuse you!" in my direction. They actually stopped and said, politely, "Excuse me." It's just that they expected simply asking me to move was sufficient to obligate me to do so.
And similarly, everybody has a morality. Everybody has something that they think would be bad, especially if it happened to them.

Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 198 by ikabod, posted 08-25-2007 4:45 AM ikabod has not replied

  
Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 200 of 219 (567704)
07-02-2010 9:51 AM


Dredging up the past
Now, as it stands with my beliefs today, I think legally one should be able to do just about anything that does not hurt or impede someone else, but morally I still do not have an answer to that conundrum. I think my initial assesment was right. It ultimately does boil down to opinion if moral relativism is true, and nothing else.
I also still stand by the notion that laws derive from a moral framework, as we don't simply arbitrarily create laws. We create laws with a moral in mind. That, of course, does not mean necessarily that an absolute moral law-giver exists, or if it does, we haven't the ability to distinguish which morals are absolute.
The paradox between moral relativity and moral absolutes still stand in my mind. I haven't been able to solve that quandry. It seems on some philosophical level, both are necessary.
Discuss...

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from mistaken conviction." — Blaise Pascal

Replies to this message:
 Message 201 by nwr, posted 07-02-2010 10:05 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6244
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 201 of 219 (567708)
07-02-2010 10:05 AM
Reply to: Message 200 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 9:51 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
Hyroglyphx writes:
It ultimately does boil down to opinion if moral relativism is true, and nothing else.
No, moral relativism is not true. But then, it is not false either. "Moral relativism" is a good descriptive term for the nature of morality. But it's a term with an evolving meaning, so it's a bit too simplistic to pose it as a true/false issue.
Hyroglyphx writes:
I also still stand by the notion that laws derive from a moral framework, ...
But what does that mean, and from whence does the framework arise. It seems to me that if there can be said to be a moral framework, then that framework is itself an evolving cultural construct.
Hyroglyphx writes:
The paradox between moral relativity and moral absolutes still stand in my mind.
You are a creature of your culture, and some of the cultural assumptions of your culture are so deeply ingrained that you see them as absolutes.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 200 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 9:51 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 202 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 10:11 AM nwr has replied

  
Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 202 of 219 (567711)
07-02-2010 10:11 AM
Reply to: Message 201 by nwr
07-02-2010 10:05 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
No, moral relativism is not true. But then, it is not false either. "Moral relativism" is a good descriptive term for the nature of morality. But it's a term with an evolving meaning, so it's a bit too simplistic to pose it as a true/false issue.
Right, because then it would be absolute.
But what does that mean, and from whence does the framework arise. It seems to me that if there can be said to be a moral framework, then that framework is itself an evolving cultural construct.
What I mean is that when we pass laws, there is always some moral attached to it. At the end of the day, it is illegal to commit murder or rape because it is wrong. The impetus for a law is the moral behind it.
You are a creature of your culture, and some of the cultural assumptions of your culture are so deeply ingrained that you see them as absolutes.
I think you misunderstand me. If some morals are not absolute, then they are precipiced on opnions and cultural dictates. All things being equal, one persons version of morality trumps someone else's. Is that morally correct?

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from mistaken conviction." — Blaise Pascal

This message is a reply to:
 Message 201 by nwr, posted 07-02-2010 10:05 AM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 203 by nwr, posted 07-02-2010 11:10 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6244
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 203 of 219 (567727)
07-02-2010 11:10 AM
Reply to: Message 202 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 10:11 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
Hyroglyphx writes:
What I mean is that when we pass laws, there is always some moral attached to it.
That (particularly the "always" seems rather too strong. Many traffic laws are simply pragmatic. There's no moral principle involved in whether we should drive on the left side of the road or the right side of the road. But it is important that everyone make the same choice so as to reduce the head-on collisions. And it's not just traffic laws. Many laws actually have a pragmatic basis.
Hyroglyphx writes:
If some morals are not absolute, then they are precipiced on opnions and cultural dictates.
But that still does not make them completely arbitrary. Going back to the traffic laws, some nations have them to require driving on the right, and some on the left. But I don't know of any that allows everybody to decide for themselves.
Hyroglyphx writes:
All things being equal, one persons version of morality trumps someone else's. Is that morally correct?
Moral relativists usually say that morality is culturally relative, not individually relative.
Morality is a system of social/cultural agreements that help to organize a society and reduce frictions between individuals.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 202 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 10:11 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 204 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 11:30 AM nwr has replied

  
Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 204 of 219 (567732)
07-02-2010 11:30 AM
Reply to: Message 203 by nwr
07-02-2010 11:10 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
That (particularly the "always" seems rather too strong. Many traffic laws are simply pragmatic. There's no moral principle involved in whether we should drive on the left side of the road or the right side of the road. But it is important that everyone make the same choice so as to reduce the head-on collisions. And it's not just traffic laws. Many laws actually have a pragmatic basis.
Pragmatic in the sense that unecessarily killing people is wrong.
But that still does not make them completely arbitrary. Going back to the traffic laws, some nations have them to require driving on the right, and some on the left. But I don't know of any that allows everybody to decide for themselves.
The point is that a moral is always in mind. Establishing left/right side driving is so no one gets killed. People getting killed is bad. What I mean is that laws are not arbitrary. We don't make laws without a purpose in mind. Some laws are stupid, in my opinion, but there is a moral of the story, so to speak, in all laws.
Moral relativists usually say that morality is culturally relative, not individually relative. Morality is a system of social/cultural agreements that help to organize a society and reduce frictions between individuals.
I understand how it works in principle, I am questioning whether or not it is at odds with itself. If all morals are relative, then they amount to to the opinions of the law makers.
We have some morals that say that all people are entitled to their opinions equally. We mean that absolutely, but relatively speaking, it is impossible for that to be true in a practical sense. One persons moral outlook at some juncture going to be trumped by another.

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from mistaken conviction." — Blaise Pascal

This message is a reply to:
 Message 203 by nwr, posted 07-02-2010 11:10 AM nwr has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 205 by nwr, posted 07-02-2010 11:48 AM Hyroglyphx has replied
 Message 206 by Rahvin, posted 07-02-2010 11:56 AM Hyroglyphx has replied
 Message 208 by DBlevins, posted 07-02-2010 1:43 PM Hyroglyphx has replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6244
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 205 of 219 (567736)
07-02-2010 11:48 AM
Reply to: Message 204 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 11:30 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
I think you are using "moral" rather more broadly than I would. I think you are using it too broadly (but that's not a moral point).
We have goals, preferences, desires, etc. Acting in ways to meet these goals can be rational, or can be pragmatic. But I wouldn't say that it is always a moral issue.
Hyroglyphx writes:
If all morals are relative, then they amount to to the opinions of the law makers.
In a representative democracy, the law makers are supposed to be representing the interests of their constituents. They sometime vote in ways that is not in accordance with their own opinions.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 204 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 11:30 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 209 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 1:46 PM nwr has seen this message but not replied

  
Rahvin
Member
Posts: 3976
Joined: 07-01-2005
Member Rating: 10.0


Message 206 of 219 (567741)
07-02-2010 11:56 AM
Reply to: Message 204 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 11:30 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
I understand how it works in principle, I am questioning whether or not it is at odds with itself. If all morals are relative, then they amount to to the opinions of the law makers.
I don't see any internal contradiction. Nearly all moral systems are involve relative harm - and even those individuals who subscribe to absolutist systems like authoritarian Christian fundamentalists (who will say that sin is sin, lying = murder = not loving god, etc) will nearly every time agree that murder > armed robbery > shoplifting > jaywalking.
Morality is determined subjectively - it has to be, since ethical distinctions in actions exist only in our own minds. It's usually not down to the opinions of an individual, though. Morality tends to be formed by the community, with individuals varying slightly from the whole.
This means that you might have a debate on whether rape or murder is worse, on what punishment is appropriate for a given crime, etc, but basically everyone will agree that both rape and murder are wrong. Today, anyway. Go back 100 years and many things we consider abhorrent today (spousal rape comes to mind) were commonplace and even expected and accepted.
We have some morals that say that all people are entitled to their opinions equally. We mean that absolutely, but relatively speaking, it is impossible for that to be true in a practical sense. One persons moral outlook at some juncture going to be trumped by another.
Remember that there is a difference between being allowed to hold an opinion and being allowed to act upon it. Our 1st Amendment boils down to the right to hold and express any opinion your conscience allows, but it doesn't grant the right to act on such opinions. You can follow the Aztec religion all you want, but you won't be allowed to do any human sacrifices. You can talk about fire all you want, but you can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater (unless of course there's an actual fire).
Being entitled to one's opinion in no way conveys that anyone else needs to treat that opinion with respect - many (most?) opinions are simply wrong. A white supremacist, for example, is entitled to hold that opinion, but I get to hold the opinion that he's a bigoted asshole and an idiot.
Being entitled to one's opinion only means that it's not legal to use force to make you change your mind. The government can't force Muslims to convert to Christianity, or force death penalty opponents to agree with the death penalty. You can;t go to jail for calling a sitting President a moron.
But one can still be entitled to one's opinion and still be restricted from acting upon it. As I was picking up food from a restaurant last Sunday, I overheard a woman "all of these people should be in church!" She's entitled to that opinion, but she can't force any of the restaurant-goers to attend worship services. Many people (myself included) think that outlawing marijuana is silly - but while we're allowed to hold that opinion, our opinion doesn't matter at all if we're caught possessing some by the police.
The moral outlook of individuals is trumped by the outlook of the community all the time. But there's no ethical rule that says that this cannot or even should not be the case.
Unless the community decides to make one.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 204 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 11:30 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 207 by DBlevins, posted 07-02-2010 1:39 PM Rahvin has not replied
 Message 212 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 2:04 PM Rahvin has replied

  
DBlevins
Member (Idle past 3271 days)
Posts: 652
From: Puyallup, WA.
Joined: 02-04-2003


Message 207 of 219 (567764)
07-02-2010 1:39 PM
Reply to: Message 206 by Rahvin
07-02-2010 11:56 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
quote:
This means that you might have a debate on whether rape or murder is worse, on what punishment is appropriate for a given crime, etc, but basically everyone will agree that both rape and murder are wrong. Today, anyway. Go back 100 years and many things we consider abhorrent today (spousal rape comes to mind) were commonplace and even expected and accepted.
I don't even think you have to go that far into the past. Honor killings...Rape, or sodomy, as punishment for indescretions...Rape as the inherent right of the husband when refused sexual relations...; are all currently considered correct or lawful in many societies today.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 206 by Rahvin, posted 07-02-2010 11:56 AM Rahvin has not replied

  
DBlevins
Member (Idle past 3271 days)
Posts: 652
From: Puyallup, WA.
Joined: 02-04-2003


Message 208 of 219 (567766)
07-02-2010 1:43 PM
Reply to: Message 204 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 11:30 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
One persons moral outlook at some juncture going to be trumped by another.
What do you mean my trumped? Do you mean trumped as in 'rightfully' or 'lawfully' superceded by? Or do you mean trumped by the process of acculturation?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 204 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 11:30 AM Hyroglyphx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 213 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 2:16 PM DBlevins has replied

  
Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 209 of 219 (567767)
07-02-2010 1:46 PM
Reply to: Message 205 by nwr
07-02-2010 11:48 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
In a representative democracy, the law makers are supposed to be representing the interests of their constituents. They sometime vote in ways that is not in accordance with their own opinions.
And sometimes they pass self-serving laws in their own interests. While I'm certain GWB thought passing the Patriot Act would benefit America, it would not surprise me that his real motivation was to make enacting his own sense of vengence easier.
In any case, I agree that many laws serve a practical purpose, but if you keep breaking down the motivation for the law, there is some moral attached to it. I do X to prevent Y because Y is wrong/bad.

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from mistaken conviction." — Blaise Pascal

This message is a reply to:
 Message 205 by nwr, posted 07-02-2010 11:48 AM nwr has seen this message but not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 210 by DBlevins, posted 07-02-2010 1:57 PM Hyroglyphx has not replied
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DBlevins
Member (Idle past 3271 days)
Posts: 652
From: Puyallup, WA.
Joined: 02-04-2003


Message 210 of 219 (567768)
07-02-2010 1:57 PM
Reply to: Message 209 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 1:46 PM


Re: Dredging up the past
...but if you keep breaking down the motivation for the law, there is some moral attached to it. I do X to prevent Y because Y is wrong/bad.
Laws are not inherently moral. They can be immoral. Laws can be and have been used to take away the rights of others. As an example : Laws preventing women from voting were not moral in any sense. They simply felt women were too 'simple-minded' to be allowed to vote.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 209 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 1:46 PM Hyroglyphx has not replied

  
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