I really hope you aren't going to try to base any kind of absolute (or even subjective but usefull) morality on (1) the individual, (2) the 51% majority, or (3) the ones in power. All of them shift, and leave no way for us to say that the Gladiator games of Rome were wrong, that cultural abuse and mistreatment of women is wrong, that minority slavery is wrong, that genocide is wrong, that the crudsades were wrong, or anything else for that matter. To say that all of these are only wrong "to me" or "to us" would make for a very disgusting (and IMO wrong) view of life. And for what it's worth, even though empathy is a common part of humanity, it is by no means universal- very little of the injustices I mentioned above have anything to do with empathy. Intead, some of them have to do (like the gladiator games) have to do with the enjoyment of someone else's suffering, which is the very opposite of empathy.
It is the moral standard, though, because in real life we are the ones who judge ourselves.
I'll agree that this often (usually) apears to be the case.
But that does not mean that morality itself is ours to create. I read most of that article (skimmed some of it cause I'm busy, but I might go back to it sometime). If I understood it right, it as much as made the point I just made for me...
"Whatever grammar guides people's moral judgments can't be all that
universal. Anyone who stayed awake through Anthropology 101 can offer many other examples/"
"The only other option is that moral truths exist in some abstract Platonic realm, there for us to discover, perhaps in the same way that mathematical truths (according to most mathematicians) are there for us to discover."
That is essentially what I said previously, but I attributed their existence to a moral God rather than simply saying "they exist", but without any real meaning or authority. And I said people to a degree can recognize them and live by them (again, the article posed no threat here).
For what it's worth, the article was very interesting, but more entertaining than enlightening from my perspective. In the end it didn't seem to say much other than that people are trying hard to find some other standard besides God to justify what they know to be true, and it's apperantly rather difficult. Also, a lot of it just "missed the mark" for me personally, especially in those scenerios where they assume I think one is ok and one isn't. I just don't fit their preconceptions.
One thing I think they really missed is that morality is a matter of the heart, not of the end result. Jesus claimed that a poor widow who gave away her last few pennies had given more than the all of the huge gifts of the wealthy- not because she had caused "more" good (like the assumtion of the first page of the article), but because she had given all she had. I don't personally know Bill Gates, and I really don't have anything against him, and I am happy that he has given so much to help others. But until he gives so much that it actually affects his lifestyle, it is hard to say that his giving is more "moral" than Mother Terresa, who lived her whole life among the poor and sick.
Also, the whole idea of fitting morality into evolution is neither surprising nor meaningful to me. I have already figured out the simple equation of evolution-world view: If anything exists that you want to find a reason for, all you have to do is find some way in which the trait is useful, and with a few leaps and twists of mental gymnastics, you have a believable story that claims that evolution created it. Whether true or not, most of these stories are not objective and don't phase me to much anymore, partly because I can see them coming at this point.
And though many "believable" stories like this can be contrived, the one thing they never can touch (and by scientific definition can't touch) is the "why". Why should authoritave morality be part of the sensless universe in which we live? Any answers that simply try to explain how we came to understand them, and then contentedly stops right there, just don't work for me, nor do I think they will ever work for much of humanity.
Which is something that people believe anyway. And I've seen this among the many Muslim and animist (sort of like Pagan) people I've met in Africa in the work I've done there.
I have no interest in saying that morality is only found in Christendom. It is not. And some of the most unspeakable attrocities have hapened under the guise of "Christianity". Morality is a standard to which all people can stand or fall, regardless of what they have been taught (though I think the standard is actually raised for those who have been taught it).
I needn't remind you that the foundational moment of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition was God's demand that Abraham sacrifice his son. Given the variety of ways in which Abraham's religion now manifests, all these thousands of years later, one could EASILY imagine a Jewish or Christian tradition in which human sacrifice is considered good.
Haha, Ok, that's a bit of a stretch... Yes, taken boldly out of context, you might be able to say that, but it would be a work of grave ignorance or downright deceit. Let's take a quick look at the context... According to the story, God is essentially re-introducing Himself to humanity through Abraham, and humanity has created all sorts of contorted ideas about gods and sacrifice, etc. In the minds of early cannanites, the gods wanted you to show your commitment to them through sacrifice, and the greatest sacrifice was to kill your own child on an altar to them. This particular example showed that this
God did indeed want the commitment of those who would follow him, but that He was not
interested in human sacrifice. Nowhere else does God ask for a human sacrifice- in fact it is often recorded that He detests such practice, and that He punishes those who do such things. And if you follow Jewish history- even when they degenerate to the poin of sacrficing their children to other gods- they never sacrifice a human to God. Also, to say that this was the "foundational moment" would be overkill IMO, though as you can see I don't think the story is overly problematic itself.