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Moral Relativism. It may be right but it must be wrong.

 
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 12:20 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:

Quote:
The problem with your position is that you believe that all morality is subjective but you still believe in "morality."

Let's say there are two people, A and B. A believes that lying in situation X is moral. B believes that lying in situation X is immoral. Are both of them right?


I believe in beauty. The fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder doesn't mean that beauty doesn't exist-- and it doesn't mean that I can't find true enjoyment or meaning in what is beautiful to me.


I thought I was clear Joe. The answer is 'yes'.
GoshisDead
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 01:47 am
I vote for an old school platonic moral set of universal proto-forms. We see the shadows of them. Cultures that are radically different just happen to be chained in different parts of the cave.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 01:49 am
@GoshisDead,
gets my vote for best post so far
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 06:26 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
I thought I was clear Joe. The answer is 'yes'.

Then how do you distinguish morality from esthetics? As I see it, the statements "this action is good" and "this soup is good" are equivalent. Both mean "this thing pleases me."

Now, I'm not saying that you can't equate morality with esthetics. What I am saying, however, is that, if you do equate morality with esthetics, then you're not talking about morality any more -- you're talking about esthetics.

For instance, if you say "lying in situation X is immoral," you're merely saying "lying in situation X displeases me." In that case, why call that a moral judgment? After all, you wouldn't say "that painting by Rembrandt is immoral." Yet your moral judgment in the first case is the same as your esthetic judgment in the second. In both cases, you're merely saying "that thing displeases me." Why, then, do you recognize a special category for "moral" judgments? What, in other words, distinguishes moral judgments from esthetic judgments? And if there's nothing that distinguishes them, then why maintain the distinction?
0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 09:57 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:

Quote:
2. However, that is not what objective means. And objective facts can clearly be common sense. For example, it is (these days) common sense that the earth is round as opposed to flat, and that is indeed an objective fact. Don't make up your own definitions when you agreed with the real definition earlier. I mean don't do it at all, but, you know, especially.


You have got this backwards. It was common sense that the earth was flat which is why for a long time most people accepted it without question.


How long do you think they accepted it? They measured the circumference in ancient greek times. People commonly believe that europeans in the time of columbus believed in a flat earth though I guess.

This whole question is a sidestep from the debate mind you. Common sense with regards to philosophy is, basically, what we understand about the world without spending time studying specialized knowledge. The phrase is also used to describe popular beliefs of a society. I pointed out that moral realism is the common sense proposition. This is a good reason to provisionally accept it and it puts the burden of proof on the anti-realists. That is the role of common sense in philosophy. We learn about the world (imperfectly) through our experience of it, and then try to clarify and understand that experience through philosophy. Trying to start with a philosophical argument and ignoring your own experience of the world is a recipe for disaster. See people arguing that there is no mind independent reality, that we don't have free will, that altruism doesn't exist, that fatalism is true, etc.



Quote:
We now accept that the earth is round because this is empirically testable.


You accept it because it is testable? You shouldn't accept things because they are testable. I mean, the idea that the earth is flat is empirically testable.

Anyway, didn't this all start because you said that common sense couldn't be objective? But I guess you are accepting that it can.

0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 11:10 am
I think this got lost in the jumble and my late night half-forgetting.

A statement like "smoking marijuana is immoral" is not a moral claim. When people say that they aren't really making some absolute, universal, "just because" statement*. They are really saying, for example: "Since smoking marijuana leads to hard drug use and laziness and crime and irresponsible behavior, it is immoral". In other words, they have reasons for believing that it is immoral. And those reasons can be empirically tested.

This is not easy to do (obviously, but this seems to be a criticism of moral realism--e.g. "if moral realism is true, devise and carry out a test to solve this tricky moral dilemma, otherwise it obviously isn't true"). Many times peoples reasons are that it was what they are taught, in which case you have to try and trace it back to why it was being taught.

*In some cases, they are, like in the "murdering innocent children for fun is wrong" case. When we aren't confusing ourselves, we have this basic knowledge of morality and what is good built in. Individual variances in instinct are washed out by the need for a broad code. The more complex claims reach back down to this knowledge in the end.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Jul, 2010 03:33 pm
@Jebediah,
Quote:
Individual variances in instinct are washed out by the need for a broad code. The more complex claims reach back down to this knowledge in the end.


This is simply wishful thinking. It is a common-sense view, and as I know you're a decent and conscientious individual, in your case, I accept that it is a reasonable view. But it does not create the basis for a moral code which relates to all facets of life and our place in the scheme of things.
0 Replies
 
HeroicOvenmitt
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 08:56 pm
Moral Relativism is a moral system that asserts that no moral system can be exclusively right, all of them are valid and you can choose whichever one you like(Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Utilitarianism, etc).
So here's the quandary.
Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and many other religions claim to be the Truth. They assert that they are right and anything contradictory is wrong.
Well as a Christian, I can tell you Moral Relativism is certainly contradictory to the Christian view of morality. Therefore, Christianity says Moral Relativism is wrong.
But this can't be right if Moral Relativism is right. So let's assume for a moment Moral Relativism is right. That means Christianity is true which means Moral Relativism is wrong.
The issue is that Moral Relativism defies the most basic law of logic - the law of non-contradiction. That is the law that says no two things can both be true that contradict one another.
The reason for this confusion is that Moral Relativists confuse what is opinion and what is fact. It's not hard to do these days. With so many religions and world views present, it's easy to throw in the towel and just say 'there's no way just ONE of these is right!'
But to accept a logical stand point is to say that in fact there is only one right thing. And whether you choose to believe that or not is not a matter of fact, or even of opinion. It is a matter of your will. Do you want to believe something that's true but will make you change what you do or ignore the fundamentals of logic and philosophy and say that anything goes?
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 10:00 pm
@HeroicOvenmitt,
Hi there HeroicOvenmitt. Welcome to A2K.

I think you're applying an improper definition here. I believe moral relativism is more about the the inability for any moral system to establish a higher moral authority.

Authority
Relevant
T
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 10:03 pm
@failures art,
It amounts to the same thing. The Ovenmitt has it right.
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 10:21 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

It amounts to the same thing. The Ovenmitt has it right.


I'm stuck on this bit:

HeroicOvenmitt wrote:
So let's assume for a moment Moral Relativism is right. That means Christianity is true which means Moral Relativism is wrong.

How is Christianity right if moral relativism is right?

I guess I'm unfamiliar with the idea of moral relativism being read as all morals (read: religious moral systems) are equally true. I'm saying that they have equally established authority. I see that as being quite different.

Can you explain?

A
R
T
HeroicOvenmitt
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 11:27 pm
Thanks for the welcome =]
and yes, I'll try to explain. Moral Relativism's main point is that all systems of belief are valid. This is in and of itself a system of belief, that's why I called it a moral system. That something can be right for you and not necessarily right for me is the general idea behind this idea. The point I'm making is that this means Christianity, Islam, Atheism(yup, it's a religion too as defined by Webster), any belief is just as true as another. But this can't be, because it is self-defeating.
Moral Relativism would say "Christianity is right and true for you, but Atheism is right and true for me." These are contradictory ideas. Christianity says there is a God, Atheism says there is not. Both cannot be true.
Christianity claims an absolute truth. So if Christianity is right in any one case, it has to be right in every case, or else it is not right at all. I believe the same can be said of Islam and many other religions, I just use Christianity because it is familiar to me. Point being, there is no way to reconcile the Christian claim of being absolutely true with the Relativistic view that nothing is absolutely true(hence the term Relativistic, of course).
So for Moral Relativism to be true, Christianity would have to be right, but ONLY some of the time. And because Christian claims are all-or-nothing, these two cannot both be true. And because they can't both be true, Moral Relativism cannot be true as that is what Relativism is all about, everyone having their own truth.
0 Replies
 
HeroicOvenmitt
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 11:30 pm
@failures art,
What would equal authority entail?
Christianity claims the Bible has the authority given by God and that anything contradictory is false. If God exists(which is in another topic) then there is on usurping his authority and Christianity either has God's authority or it is a bold-faced lie.
Is the authority of the idea derived from the one who presented it originally, the logical plausibility of the idea, by the number of people who are willing to believe the idea, or something totally different?
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 11:32 pm
@failures art,
If moral relativism holds that a person is moral insofar as that person conforms to that person's own morality, then it is faced with a paradox when that person conforms to a system of morality that is absolute rather than relative. For a more complete explanation, see this post.

failures art wrote:
I guess I'm unfamiliar with the idea of moral relativism being read as all morals (read: religious moral systems) are equally true. I'm saying that they have equally established authority. I see that as being quite different.

Again, it amounts to the same thing. I can either say "your morality is fine for you, but not for me" or I can say "you can't decide what morality is best for me." In the end, the point is is the same: each of us is moral insofar as we conform to our own moral codes.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 08:48 pm
It is not necessary to delve deep into philosophical depths.

A healthy society cannot function if each of it's member's actions are regulated only by his or her personal concept of morality.

Attempting to maintain a society wherein moral relativism is the norm is doomed to failure, and will slowly but surely destroy the society.

The potential societal tragedy of post-modernist thought is that moral relativism may replace moral certitude as a guiding principle, and thereby ensure the destruction of society.

Societal mores can undergo evolutionary changes (e.g. We no longer hang children who steal bread) and still serve as the skeletal structure of a society, but they cannot be expected to do so if they are reduced to shapeless putty, to be molded as each individual member prefers.

HeroicOvenmitt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Jan, 2011 09:14 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
cheers!
0 Replies
 
cheloo03
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2011 11:41 am
I believe that moral relativism is true, however, and because of that, it is in MY best interest to have a social system based on seemingly "objective" moral codes, where everyone is accountable. I have no problem being punished if I break the moral codes of the society...that doesn't mean it is right or wrong what I did, it just means that for society to be fair, we must leave aside some of our own instincts, OR take responsibility for it.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2011 04:39 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Take any deed deemed immoral. Spend enough time investigating and contemplating the circumstances around said deed and you can make a plausible argument for why it was understandable, if not justified, and that the perpetrator of the deed was, in some way, as much a victim as his or her victims.

Most abusive pedophiles were abused as children.

Many violent crimes are perpetrated by people who, themselves, were the long time victims of violence.

If you and your family are starving, is it immoral to steal bread?

If someone is convincingly threatening the lives of your family, is it immoral to proactively resolve the threat by killing the person you legitimately fear?

Anyone with any intelligence appreciates that not-with-standing our desire for a black and white world, reality is represented in shades of grey.

Fortunately or unfortunately (depending upon your point of view) Society cannot exist under the tenants of moral relativism.

With thousands and millions of people living with one another, Society cannot afford to surrender to grey. There must be hard and fast rules.

Accepting that any behavior can be right is asserting that no behavior can be wrong.

This mindset is in direct contrast to the concepts of society.

In a certain way, moral relativism is akin to quantum physics and, indeed, it was this theoretical breakthrough that contributed to post-modernist thought.

Reality is dependent upon the observer.

If this is the case, then the opinions of any particular observer are as valid as any other (even for a nano-second) in determining what reality might be.

There is a (currently) unfathomable paradox between Quantum Physics and General Relativity Physics. Clearly, this doesn't mean that one cannot be so, but it does challenge us who must operate in the "real" world rather than the "theoretical" world to attempt to reconcile what we can perceive with our senses and what we can imagine with our minds. The Holy Grail of a TOE still eludes us.

In building a bridge, developing computers, or putting a man on the moon, we have given, predominately, our collective nod to the physics of Newton and Einstein rather than Bohrs and Heisenberg.

There are actually solid, as opposed to simply theoretical, reasons to believe the latter, but for 99.9% of the earth's population, the former rules, in practice, over the latter, and yet we appreciate that Quantum Physics represents "truth" too.

Eventually there may be a TOE we can comprehend, and eventually there may be a reconciliation between moral-relativism and societal imperatives, but both are mighty challenges we may not solve for decades if not centuries to come, and in any case we will have to be wiser as well as smarter to do so.

In the mean-time, we must live within the framework of what actually works, not what should work.

Moral relativism is a great topic for discussion but it doesn't work in the currently "real" world.


But how (on earth) does it follow from the fact that the action was "understandable" (in the sense of explainable) that the action was "understandable" in the sense of excusable, let alone justifiable? Answer, it doesn't. And you are committing the elementary fallacy of equivocation. You are just confusing two different senses of the term, "understandable". Just because the action is understandable in one of the senses, it does not follow that it is understandable in a different sense of that term. And that is real logic.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2011 05:08 pm
@kennethamy,
Quote:
But how (on earth) does it follow from the fact that the action was "understandable" (in the sense of explainable) that the action was "understandable" in the sense of excusable, let alone justifiable? Answer, it doesn't. And you are committing the elementary fallacy of equivocation. You are just confusing two different senses of the term, "understandable". Just because the action is understandable in one of the senses, it does not follow that it is understandable in a different sense of that term. And that is real logic.


I haven't argued that justification necessarily follows understanding.

I'm not really interested in a debate on semantics, but there are people who believe circumstances can justify any action, if by "justify" we mean free from blame.

For certain situations, this can be an appealing argument, and one may consider it to be right, but within the context of a functioning society, it can't be.


0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2011 05:12 pm
@cheloo03,
cheloo03 wrote:

I believe that moral relativism is true, however, and because of that, it is in MY best interest to have a social system based on seemingly "objective" moral codes, where everyone is accountable. I have no problem being punished if I break the moral codes of the society...that doesn't mean it is right or wrong what I did, it just means that for society to be fair, we must leave aside some of our own instincts, OR take responsibility for it.


How do you determine whether something is actually right or wrong?
 

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