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Does morality exist independently or is it totally conditioned by beliefs of an individual?

 
 
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:05 am
Discussion in the thread I started two days ago lead me to ask this question. Moral relativism, as I understand that, claims that there is no standard for morality and everything depends on the set of beliefs hold by a person. For example, killing is called immoral when performed for selfish actions. But if it is made in the name of God or state (at war, or in death penalty) it is moral.
I disagree with such a view and I think that morality has an independent status. I think that when a soldier kills his enemy he knows he's doing an immoral act, yet he justifies himself somehow, but his act remains immoral nevertheless and he understands that. And the same with terrorists, the know they do bad, but they have justification.
The difference seems to lie in that how we adopt, assimilate that morality, whether we have something which is deemed to be above it (like God's will or law, or our own selfish interests).
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:16 am
@Eudaimon,
Well even the fact that you are referring to murder as being immoral has a context in which you are determining it as being immoral. At least your definition I can get behind because you are being consistent with it. I really hate when someone defines a moral behavior but then adds a bunch of foot notes to it where excepts are allowed. Just seems absurd to make exceptions to a moral value.

I am a moral relativist despite the fact that I think society can agree on moral values. But this does not make morality objective or universal, all it means is that a majority have chosen to deem certain actions as being moral or immoral. That is it. But as far as them being some universal truth, they are not.

Since we value our own lives, then it makes sense to respect the lives of others. However; if you are trying to add some tag onto someone else's life and determine it to be less and that gives justice to ending their life, that to me is the most immoral thing you can do, and you should also be held to the same regard then. But I doubt anyone would actually accept that exchange.

People are more than happy to shrug off someone else's death as long as it is not someone they care about.
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:17 am
@Krumple,
Hi, Krumple, thanks for thy post.
Krumple wrote:

Well even the fact that you are referring to murder as being immoral has a context in which you are determining it as being immoral...
I am a moral relativist despite the fact that I think society can agree on moral values. But this does not make morality objective or universal, all it means is that a majority have chosen to deem certain actions as being moral or immoral. That is it. But as far as them being some universal truth, they are not.

I don't know whether majority agreed on what should be moral or not (these all are theories and none represents reality, but that's a topic for a epistemology discussion). What I am saying is that for me moral truths exist objectively, regardless of my choice. I perceive something as wrong, immoral, and that's all I can do. Another question, though, is whether I can do that even despite knowing it is immoral.
Let us consider a situation: we treat a person unjust, abase him etc., yet he is kind to us nevertheless, and if it happened that he is now in power to punish us, but forgives instead, I think both I and thou shall call him good, moral person, even though the Justice would justify him if he did otherwise.


It is possible to argue whether tribesmen in Africa have another sort of morality, yet this discussion would be useless, since we can never get into other people's heads and say why do they perform these actions and don't that. Moreover, again, that will be useless because it doesn't change anything in OUR life, since we are who we are, why should we care of other people's moralities?
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:25 am
Eudaimon wrote:
why should we care of other people's moralities?

Because some of us feel empathy towards humankind.

Because some other people's morality is harmful to humankind.

Because our own morality should be directed to making ourselves better persons...
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  4  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:26 am
@Eudaimon,
Eudaimon wrote:
Moral relativism, as I understand that, claims that there is no standard for morality...

A slight correction here. Moral Relativism doesn't claim there is "no standard", but that there is no objective or universal standard for morality that applies to everyone, everywhere and in all situations for a given act. Not sure if this matters, apologies if this is a distinction you've already acknowledged.

Eudaimon wrote:
I disagree with such a view and I think that morality has an independent status... The difference seems to lie in that how we adopt, assimilate that morality, whether we have something which is deemed to be above it...

I don't disagree with you here. You might be well on to something in that how we assimilate our taught morality could be "trumped" by some individually-held belief or view.

While I believe there's a solid basis for some actions of moral implication that - to me - ought to apply to everyone, I can't imagine what a Universal Standard/Objective morality might be (or upon what authority it rests). In our ethics discussion, we talk about murder a lot - I'm guessing because its prohibition seems to be something virtually all of us agree on, and its probably a good example of what a universal moral prohibition might be. But even we can agree that its situation dependent, and that these situations are often judged differently between from person-to-person. If we can find but one example, in this people-saturated world, where murder is "dependent" then we must retreat from any objectively-given/universally-applicable standard.

There's what I think should be, and what is. And in this case while I think there are actions which should nearly always be considered morally wrong; no matter how firmly I believe this, I must concede that its relative to the person and situation.

Maybe I've skewed the lines between moral relativism and situational factors. Someone please set me straight if I have; but to me, if there exists any universally applicable morality, to fit that definition it couldn't be reliant upon with the individual nor the situation.

Thanks

0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:41 am
Yes.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 07:06 am
@Eudaimon,
Eudaimon wrote:

Discussion in the thread I started two days ago lead me to ask this question. Moral relativism, as I understand that, claims that there is no standard for morality and everything depends on the set of beliefs hold by a person. For example, killing is called immoral when performed for selfish actions. But if it is made in the name of God or state (at war, or in death penalty) it is moral.
I disagree with such a view and I think that morality has an independent status. I think that when a soldier kills his enemy he knows he's doing an immoral act, yet he justifies himself somehow, but his act remains immoral nevertheless and he understands that. And the same with terrorists, the know they do bad, but they have justification.
The difference seems to lie in that how we adopt, assimilate that morality, whether we have something which is deemed to be above it (like God's will or law, or our own selfish interests).


If i may offer another view from the two you hold then: Morality is a form of relationship... Or put another way: Morality is Community... Who do you share with??? Who are you obligated to care for??? We can see in the word ethnic the same root of the word ethic, which has the original meaning of custom, or character, which was the qualitiess one took in ancient times from community and carried with honor... No one would show their people in a bad light as it would encourage attack and hinder trade... So there are people one is more properly moral with, like family, communnity, or nationality...
If I may illistrate: There was once a brave Native American who was involved in the elimination of Colenal Custer, who was once chided by another native for being such an outrageous liar on the subject...His reply was that he did not owe the White Man the truth... Considering that every lie is an injury, that in telling a lie you deny to another something he needs for his survival or well being, then to whom do you owe the truth???

Morality is a form of relationship and as a form it is only as good as the relationship... The more a person is an individual and conceives of himself as an individual the less moral he will be out of sight... Morality is founded on emotion, and is primarily irrational, so it cannot be taught; or rather, it is learned before children learn rationally, because when we learn it is because we learn the logic of something, what is cause and what is effect, what is force and what is reaction...We can see that logic is from a certain viiewpoint, and as you question indicates, morality is from a view point uncertain, which is to say: Independent of the individual, as community... If a person risks life to save another, it is not a rational act since without life there is no reason, no logic, and no justification... Yet such an act may be highly moral even if irrational because without such behavior every community of any size would be vulnerable....

It is wrong to class morality as belief, but right to consider morality as the bond one has with ones community... And that is the test of morality because morality is the price we pay every day to belong to our groups, and it is a sweet thought to say moral in terms of humanity, but that is not moral, and never has been moral...If a person is to behave as moral to the larger groups like ones nation state, or humanity, then they will have to have a reason to do so... No one should act morally to those who exploit them, or who destroy their community... For that reason the Muslims have no good reason to treat us morally except their own faith which more or less demands it... There is a difference between being moral and acting morally.... We may find it is politically expedient to act as though moral with some, but there are some we should always be moral with... To actually try to be moral with ones enemies is a fatal mistake...

If anyone should consider why people are not more moral in their behavior, the answer is simple: all the social expression of the moral form, like Law, attack community and community power, and so rob the children of the moral guidance they deserve... No community means no morality... We do not just teach immorality with our laws, but demand it...
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 07:08 am
@Eudaimon,
Eudaimon wrote:
What I am saying is that for me moral truths exist objectively, regardless of my choice. I perceive something as wrong, immoral, and that's all I can do. Another question, though, is whether I can do that even despite knowing it is immoral.


See I don't agree with this at all. The reason being, if there were moral truths you would not need to be taught them, however; you have to be taught morality. Those who don't get a full lesson tend to not understand the reasoning behind the lesson and will not understand why it is moral or immoral. If morality were truths, you could not argue them, however; since they are not truths at all, it is why they are can argued.

Also if morals were objective truths then every society would consistently hold them but they do not. Which means that they are more than likely not universal truths. Just like math. Just about every society collectively has math and those truths are consistent with in every society because math is a universal truth. Morality does not even come close to having consistency across cultures. So it is a lie to claim that morality is an objective truth.

A culture usually agrees on what is acceptable and what is not. These get taught to those within the society, which makes them take on a natural progression. When someone claims something is wrong, they are basing it off the pre-learned notions. They mistakenly believe that their morality is some innate thing in which they can pull from, but it is nothing more than their moral lessons.
hue-man
 
  2  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 11:31 am
@Eudaimon,
Morality, like aesthetics, is a completely subjective (or inter-subjective) notion that has no transcendental value. That bothers some people, but I'm fine with it. Ethical objectivism or ethical realism is a crutch for those who need shelter from our amoral world.
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HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 11:42 am
@Eudaimon,
Only psycotic and sktiz' people will have a partially to totally individual moral.

Normal people will have a group think/flock instinct code of moral, they will share, but can be overwritten by induced values such as hate, envy, love, friendship ..etc.

Ie we all know not to lie, but we will save our closests and those we regard with a little white lie, and sometimes a big fat lie.
0 Replies
 
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 11:58 am
I believe that, with all variables and factors taken into account, you can only describe the morality of a specific action (not just 'killing,' but killing under a certain circumstance).

However, when deciding if a PERSON is moral, it's whether or not they do what they think it right.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 12:06 pm
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:
However, when deciding if a PERSON is moral, it's whether or not they do what they think it right.


Are you serous? Everyone always thinks that what they do is right. Even the serial killer thinks that what they are doing is right. Society when catching a serial killer tries to infuse the idea that the killer knew that their actions were wrong. No, they actually don't have those types of mentalities usually. Most of the time they justify their actions, just like a person justifies killing certain types of people even if they think murdering a person is wrong, they will always have some exception to their own rule. A serial killer just takes it to another level and that is the only difference. But people don't want to recognize that aspect because they want to lie and say that morality is some firmly constructed truth that can't be debated.
salima
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 02:35 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple wrote:

Eudaimon wrote:
What I am saying is that for me moral truths exist objectively, regardless of my choice. I perceive something as wrong, immoral, and that's all I can do. Another question, though, is whether I can do that even despite knowing it is immoral.


See I don't agree with this at all. The reason being, if there were moral truths you would not need to be taught them, however; you have to be taught morality. Those who don't get a full lesson tend to not understand the reasoning behind the lesson and will not understand why it is moral or immoral. If morality were truths, you could not argue them, however; since they are not truths at all, it is why they are can argued.

Also if morals were objective truths then every society would consistently hold them but they do not. Which means that they are more than likely not universal truths. Just like math. Just about every society collectively has math and those truths are consistent with in every society because math is a universal truth. Morality does not even come close to having consistency across cultures. So it is a lie to claim that morality is an objective truth.

A culture usually agrees on what is acceptable and what is not. These get taught to those within the society, which makes them take on a natural progression. When someone claims something is wrong, they are basing it off the pre-learned notions. They mistakenly believe that their morality is some innate thing in which they can pull from, but it is nothing more than their moral lessons.


hi krumple-
but doesnt mathematics have to be taught? it didnt come natural to me, i know that...
0 Replies
 
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 02:45 pm
@Krumple,
I agree with everything you've just said, though I disagree that everyone thinks that what they're doing is morally correct. Some people just don't care either way, or even consider the morality of the situation. If we can convince them that their actions are wrong, and they recognize that and change, they are good people. If they recognize their actions are wrong, but do not change them, then they are immoral. Basically, if they have moral intentions then they are moral people, no matter the objective morality of the action.
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 03:11 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple wrote:

Are you serous? Everyone always thinks that what they do is right. Even the serial killer thinks that what they are doing is right.


I'm not so sure about that Krumple. I'm sure I've done some things that I believed to not be "morally right". They satisfied some need of mine, but did not in fact agree with my own sense of morality. I would bet that many killers, rapists, and violent criminals thought that they were doing something wrong also...but something else inside compelled them to go against their sense of morality. This might be what Plato called the "tyrant" of the soul.

And some times, people just do things without thinking. Like the killing of a cheating spouse caught in the act-- we make a special allowance for this in the law, because overpowering emotion can override any logical thought process about morality, for that moment in time.
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HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:08 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple wrote:
Are you serous? Everyone always thinks that what they do is right. Even the serial killer thinks that what they are doing is right. Society when catching a serial killer tries to infuse the idea that the killer knew that their actions were wrong. No, they actually don't have those types of mentalities usually. Most of the time they justify their actions, just like a person justifies killing certain types of people even if they think murdering a person is wrong, they will always have some exception to their own rule. A serial killer just takes it to another level and that is the only difference. But people don't want to recognize that aspect because they want to lie and say that morality is some firmly constructed truth that can't be debated.
I'm afraid you don't quite got it right. Least in Denmark we have the distinction between serial killers, those who know they'r doing wrong and those who don't. Those who don't go to the "kuku factory" (mental institution), suprisingly few who does.

Many who in the society's eyes does wrong, does it out of compulsive behaviour, where their's inner drive will overwrite reason and logic. Ie in few muslim lands where there are deathpenalty for being homosexual, there are each yearh hanged homosexual, who are fully aware of the penalty will stay homosexual, no matter the consequense, not because they can't grasp it's wrong, but because they can't help themselves because of their compulsive behaviour.
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 12:37 am
Thanks to all for your replies. I regret there's no multiquote option here, so I should try to reply so to say "in general" to the thoughts which were expressed in most of your posts.
I am not saying that moral values can't vary from individual to individual, I am also not saying the opposite. I don't care at all whether it is true or not. My thought is that morality is independent from my beliefs. That is it is objective to ME, and whether I become a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Christian, a soldier, a businessman, morality remains for me as something independent from me. Even if I decide to break with it, to become a terrorist, I shall always know that what I am going to do is immoral. But I have a justification... But that's another thing, that's not morality.
So if it is independent from my views, I can speak of it as something objective (for me), that is I can say that I did an immoral act, even though it was in accordance with my views.

Most of you give ascribe such a great importance to time and causality which are nothing but ideas which doesn't have real existence. It would be better if we stopped always comparing ourselves with others and trying to find the reason to everything. "My feelings, my morality are real because they exist now and what is more is but a generlisation of fantasies" -- this should be our motto.
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Jackofalltrades phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 03:58 am
Morality is the intellectual residue left out by experience's, generation after generation, and taught to the successive ones (individuals) as rules of behaviour or engagement with the society at large or near. It is relative simply because each society and their culture determines the set of beliefs and norms of behaviour as understood by the collective conscience of the given society and its prominent individuals.

Since it is intellect based, it is abstract in form, and cannot be said to exist independently of mind.

Morality and ethics are an important tool to differentiate between man and animals. It allows the nurture and nature paradigm to exist as social constructs.
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kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 01:39 pm
@Eudaimon,
Likely one will not be able to separate the affect of the environment in shaping personal morality from an innate, a priori to experience sense of the term.
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Krumple
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 01:42 pm
@HexHammer,
HexHammer wrote:
Many who in the society's eyes does wrong, does it out of compulsive behaviour, where their's inner drive will overwrite reason and logic. Ie in few muslim lands where there are deathpenalty for being homosexual, there are each yearh hanged homosexual, who are fully aware of the penalty will stay homosexual, no matter the consequense, not because they can't grasp it's wrong, but because they can't help themselves because of their compulsive behaviour.


You want to know why they remain homosexuals even though they can die because of it? Homosexuality is not wrong, the only thing wrong there is the law that is making it illegal.
0 Replies
 
 

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