2
   

right or wrong

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2012 07:58 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
If these strongly held principles that so deeply impact my behavior and view of live not an example of morality, then what is?

I have no idea. It could simply be an esthetic choice. If you're not motivated by a desire to do what is right, though, you're not acting morally, regardless of how laudable your actions are.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2012 08:17 pm
@joefromchicago,
Let's get away from a discussion of definition of words.

I don't believe in absolute moral truth. I believe that humans (as with all life) are here because of a large series of chemical reactions spawning a random process of mutations with no purpose.

If we came here from evolution occuring with no purpose or plan, there is nothing to base absolute moral truth on. Nothing in the Universe shows any sign of absolute morality except for humans. And even humans can't agree.

The whole idea of absolute truth just doesn't make any sense when compared to the facts. Morality is like religion. There may be a one true religion, but that doesn't stop each person from each thinking they possess it.


Fido
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2012 07:52 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Let's get away from a discussion of definition of words.

I don't believe in absolute moral truth. I believe that humans (as with all life) are here because of a large series of chemical reactions spawning a random process of mutations with no purpose.

If we came here from evolution occuring with no purpose or plan, there is nothing to base absolute moral truth on. Nothing in the Universe shows any sign of absolute morality except for humans. And even humans can't agree.

The whole idea of absolute truth just doesn't make any sense when compared to the facts. Morality is like religion. There may be a one true religion, but that doesn't stop each person from each thinking they possess it.



As Voltaire said: If you would discuss with me: define your terms... That is philosophy entirely, in a nutshell... Naturally, to define moral forms is impossible, but we have examples of moral forms in action, so we can draw some conclusions... My point is, that de-finit-ion of in-finit-es may be impossible, but how we define such infinites with our behavior may be what makes human life possible, and even happy... It is really not enough to think you have it... Take justice for example...Justice is a form of relationship as well as a moral, and infinite form... In reality, justice, like every relationship happens between two people one at a time... It is like saying we all have an individual relationship with our president, and everyone else on the planet, for that matter... Back to Justice: If two people have a dispute over justice, then justice for one will be justice for another, and what that just situation is, is one for them to decide, and in deciding it, they will define justice according to the situation... We see, that politically, some people are denied a choice in what they will recieve from society or the government... They are considered as free agents, but in reality they are not... Their relationship with their employer or their representatives in government may be so remote as to allow for not communication, let alone give or take... They must accept, and if they must accept what they get allowing for not promise or protest, they cannot possibly recieve justice... Even if they get more than they need or than is their due they lost in the relationship called justice...And that is because they were taken as an object, or an impediment rather than as a human being...
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2012 08:14 am
@Fido,
Quote:
As Voltaire said: If you would discuss with me: define your terms... That is philosophy entirely, in a nutshell... Naturally, to define moral forms is impossible


Bologna.

It is quite easy to define the term "morality". In fact, this term has a standard dictionary definition.

Quote:

1
a : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical <moral judgments>
b : expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior <a moral poem>
c : conforming to a standard of right behavior
d : sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment <a moral obligation>
e : capable of right and wrong action <a moral agent>


http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/moral

I am happy with the dictionary definition. If not, maybe you could propose another definition. Of course, defining the term "morality" is not the same thing as discussing the nature of morality.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2012 10:05 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Quote:
As Voltaire said: If you would discuss with me: define your terms... That is philosophy entirely, in a nutshell... Naturally, to define moral forms is impossible


Bologna.

It is quite easy to define the term "morality". In fact, this term has a standard dictionary definition.

Quote:

1
a : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical <moral judgments>
b : expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior <a moral poem>
c : conforming to a standard of right behavior
d : sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment <a moral obligation>
e : capable of right and wrong action <a moral agent>


http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/moral

I am happy with the dictionary definition. If not, maybe you could propose another definition. Of course, defining the term "morality" is not the same thing as discussing the nature of morality.
I guess that settles that... So; why is anyone still talking about it??? I would say that all moral forms are indefinite in the meaning and infinite in the expression... We can learn of them through examples, and yet never say exactly what they are because we do not have them as objects of the physical world, and when pressed, cannot even say they exist as more than ideas...
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Jan, 2012 09:03 pm
@Fido,
No Fido, the discussion is not about the definition of the word. The interesting discussion is about whether there is a universal morality that stems from some absolute truth that is apart from our individual or cultural understanding of right or wrong.

I see no evidence that there is anything in any understanding of morality that isn't a creation of human minds, and I see a lot conflict even among human minds.

This is why I believe that morality is a human construct the same way that religion is a human construct. Human societies have developed an understanding of a god or a group of gods. Many societies believe that their God is the one true God. But there is no external subjective way to determine who is true. This does not make the study of religion uninteresting.

Nor is the study of morality uninteresting.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jan, 2012 06:35 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

No Fido, the discussion is not about the definition of the word. The interesting discussion is about whether there is a universal morality that stems from some absolute truth that is apart from our individual or cultural understanding of right or wrong.

I see no evidence that there is anything in any understanding of morality that isn't a creation of human minds, and I see a lot conflict even among human minds.

This is why I believe that morality is a human construct the same way that religion is a human construct. Human societies have developed an understanding of a god or a group of gods. Many societies believe that their God is the one true God. But there is no external subjective way to determine who is true. This does not make the study of religion uninteresting.

Nor is the study of morality uninteresting.

Morals/Ethic was a lot easier for people to understand when people lived in small groups surrounded by enemies... Then, it was much easier to see who were ones friends, and who were enemies who usually did not rise to the status of human beings... For example, the Lacota people never called themselves the Sioux... That name was given to them by their enemies and meant: Snake!!! Only among ones own people did anyone have rights, but it was also a presumption that ones community had rights over the individual, and this responsibility, group responsibility was general... Everyone knew, that if they screwed up, it would be the whole community that paid for it; so people, otherwise free within their community were always constrained without, and that is the Basis of Ethics considered as Character because no ethical person would bring dishonor upon their own people...

We have the example of Socrates accepting the death penalty from his own people rather than dishonor in some place where he would have no rights... We have the example in the Orestia, of Orestes killing his mother who killed Agamemnon; and as outrageous as this may seem, He was the only one who could do so, and as the marriage of Electra to a commoner shows, until the family had taken care of Clytemnestra, they were dishonored, and no so much by the death, but the circumstances of the death, in the city which cursed them all, and in the temple for which the god demanded vengeance..

Among the American Indians it is reported that If some one did a deed worthy of death, and no compromise could be arranged, that no one but their own family would deal the death blow, and for anyone else to kill them demanded blood vengeance... On the other hand, out of moral concern for the honor of their people, captives would allow themselves to be cut up, burned, and pretty much eaten before their eyes for the simple reason that to show themselves weak invited their enemy to do their worst to their own communities... So, the ones tortured might complain against fate, they encouraged their enemies to stand bravely before the vengeance that was certain...

People bond with those who hold them dear, and they make common cause against the enemies of their friends... Today, the line between friends and others, between community and those without is blurred... It is for this very reason that in a later age Athens made high Drama out of the actions or Orestes... Their morality had slipped to the point where they could not grasp his actions... There are many reminders of the past in Athenian Homocide law... There is a hint in the practice of Attica, to take the bodies of executed murderers to the state line, and throw them bodily over it... The practice of driving out some innocent for a number of years if no crimes had occured as a scapegoat, simply to show the gods that one individual, cursed with the sins of the community would not be accepted... But the relation of man to god was only one aspect of morals, a reflection of the relationship of community to community...

People needed their honor, and the defense of ones honor is an obligation... If there is one common law of morality it is that blood is thicker than water... The idea of individuals having individual rights was foreign to primitive peoples... As Socrates showed by his honorable death; the relationship of individual with community was absolute... He got his life from them and owed them his life if it became necessary... Honor was the common currency of all people... No person with honor would allow himself to be triffled with... And a group defense was offered... If you killed one of them, restitution had to be made, and if in no other fashion, with another life... Among the Anglo Saxons, if a killing in self defense demanded restitution... The survivors of one killed among the Arabs say: Our blood has been shed... Vengeance is the obligation of ones community, and ultimately of ones family... Honor, inside, and outside of ones community is what each individual owes his community...

You see, it is the break down of communities through the actions of law with the aim of building a larger community in the nation state that leaves so many asking what morality is... Primarily, Ethics applies to ones behavior with ones own ethnic group. ones natural community... Everyone else would be fair game if they did not have communities to back them up...Law, breaking everyone up into so many individuals demoralizes them in the process... If there is not group responsibility or obligation, then there is no individual morality... People were once free only in their communities... No they soon escape their communities to know the limits of freedom... Why not??? No one will come back on their people and demand satisfaction... Everyone is on their own, and so, always on their guard...
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jan, 2012 01:10 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Let's get away from a discussion of definition of words.

Given that most disagreements are ultimately disagreements over definitions, I'm not sure that's possible.

maxdancona wrote:
I don't believe in absolute moral truth. I believe that humans (as with all life) are here because of a large series of chemical reactions spawning a random process of mutations with no purpose.

If we came here from evolution occuring with no purpose or plan, there is nothing to base absolute moral truth on.

Why not? What does evolution have to do with morality?

maxdancona wrote:
Nothing in the Universe shows any sign of absolute morality except for humans. And even humans can't agree.

So what? If you say that 2+2=4 and I say that 2+2=5, does that mean that even humans can't agree and so there's no such thing as mathematics?

maxdancona wrote:
The whole idea of absolute truth just doesn't make any sense when compared to the facts. Morality is like religion. There may be a one true religion, but that doesn't stop each person from each thinking they possess it.

Again, so what? If people disagree, that just might mean that some people are wrong. I see no reason to think that the lack of unanimity regarding morality means that morality is impossible.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Jan, 2012 08:30 pm
@joefromchicago,
Joe,

You seem to be asserting that there is One True Morality. I am asking where such an absolute truth would stem from. I think this is a fair question.

1. I brought up evolution as a possible answer, it seems reasonable that since morality is a uniquely human trait it would have come from evolution like any other human trait. I am happy to entertain any other possible sources of such an absolute truth. You haven't offered any.

2. I can tell you how mathematics was developed. I can show to you that mathematics is universal and not based on culture. When there is a dispute in mathematics, there is a systematic way to determine right and wrong. The claims of mathematics are completely explained and testable. I don't believe morality has any of these traits (and you haven't been claiming it does).

3. You make the point that it is possible that a small number of people in the history of mankind were right and everyone else is wrong. I concede the point. I don't claim this is proof, but this idea makes me deeply skeptical.

Of course it is difficult to prove a negative. It is more difficult since you are implying there is One True Morality without explaining where this absolute truth would come from or how it would be tested.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jan, 2012 02:15 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Joe,

You seem to be asserting that there is One True Morality.

No, I'm asserting that, if there's a morality, then it must be absolute.

maxdancona wrote:
I am asking where such an absolute truth would stem from. I think this is a fair question.

You want to establish that there's no morality because nobody knows where it comes from. But that's merely an empirical objection, which is largely trivial. The answer to those type of objections, then, is that maybe nobody knows because nobody has been smart enough to find it yet.

maxdancona wrote:
1. I brought up evolution as a possible answer, it seems reasonable that since morality is a uniquely human trait it would have come from evolution like any other human trait. I am happy to entertain any other possible sources of such an absolute truth. You haven't offered any.

I'm not sure why I should.

maxdancona wrote:
2. I can tell you how mathematics was developed. I can show to you that mathematics is universal and not based on culture. When there is a dispute in mathematics, there is a systematic way to determine right and wrong. The claims of mathematics are completely explained and testable. I don't believe morality has any of these traits (and you haven't been claiming it does).

Why not? You think your own actions are moral. What convinced you?

maxdancona wrote:
Of course it is difficult to prove a negative. It is more difficult since you are implying there is One True Morality without explaining where this absolute truth would come from or how it would be tested.

I don't even know what you're talking about here. Who's trying to prove a negative?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jan, 2012 10:31 pm
@maxdancona,
If an appeal to evolution on your part is an attempt to suggest that there is no god, and therefore no basis for morality, you obviously don't undertand evolution. Evolution "doesn't care" about cosmic origins, and "doesn't care" about the origin of life. Evolution can only take place after life has begun. Therefore, it is entirely plausible--and there is a significant community of scientifically literate people who hold this view--the there is a god who created the cosmos, and started life, after which evolution takes place as god's mechanism for creating ever more conplex forms of life.

Now, personally, on the question of whether or not there is a god, if someone tells me there is, i say i don't believe that. However, i just wanted to clear up what seems to me to be a great deal of confusion in your mind about the meaning of evolutionary theory in the grand scheme of cosmogony. Evolution has nothing to say about cosmic origins, the origins of life or the possibility that a god may exist.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Jan, 2012 10:39 pm
@Setanta,
Agreed Setanta. If there is a God, then the problem of how to decide which version of morality is the one true morality is solved. If there is one true God, then whatever he or she says is the one true morality.

Of course, there is a similar problem in that different people have different views of God. We would still have to decide whose version of God is the one true God.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jan, 2012 09:36 am
@Setanta,
It is easy enough after the fact, when moral behavior has resulted in some good- to rationalize morality... In fact; morality is based upon human bonding that occurs first between mother and child, and grows to include all a mother's children, and to an extent, all the children of all the Mothers of a Nation, as nation is a natural, Natal/navel relationship... There is nothing rational about it... There is the same reason for it as all instinctual behavior, that it has led to the survival of those with the instinct, and so, the instinct has survived along with the species having it...


No one has shown that morality can be taught, but since immorality is generally more rational, and justifiable, it can be taught, and is -by those who practice it... The individual success of the immoral is profound, and worth immitation even while it is destroying a whole society from within... For that reason, natural societies replace unnnatural socieites, because as natual societies become unantural, they are weakened and destroyed... I think it is why the Philosopher Nietzsche was so intent upon Instinctual motivations, and that is because it is easy to see how un-natural is morality as it is taught to us socially, because when social morality limits impulses that are natural, and natural because they defend the individual and the group from injury, then the natuaral qualities that keep a people and society healthy are robbed from them and replaced by resentment...

It is essential to define morality apart from culture... Culture is knowledge, but morality is community... It is impossible for anyone to find a proper perspective from which to judge their culture since culture is the sum of the knowledge of a people...It seems that one culture can find another superior and encourage immitation of another culture as morality would never do... Morality accepts that no one is better than ones own people... Immorality defends the exploitation of ones own nation as morality would never do... The English could hardly conceive of themselves as one people, and could easily conceive of the exploitation of one group by another, and when American imitate that group, and the immoral morality of that group they are spelling their end as a nation... We have never been one people; but when have we ever tried to be one nation, and to find the outline of a national morality???
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jan, 2012 07:20 pm
@Fido,
Ok Fido, if I understand you correctly English people are immoral, and some animal species are moral.

A question though, are turtles moral?
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jan, 2012 07:07 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Ok Fido, if I understand you correctly English people are immoral, and some animal species are moral.

A question though, are turtles moral?

When people make a moral choice, even when they choose to be immoral, they are being moral... Morality is a quality of human consciousness that begins with instinct, and which animals cannot escape... People can use reason to achieve a moral society or situation provided they use instinct as a guide, but how often does this happen???Injustice, which is a form of immorality is always justifed... People reason: If I take just a little from many individuals then I am not hurting any significantly; but if many act in a similar manor, then across a whole society they can do significant injury and cause pain, and because that pain is inflicted, so to speak, in the home of ones friends, it causes serious moral degradation.... Morality never grows out of immorality... But consider the words of De Tocqueville: " The aristocracy created by business rarely settles in the midst of the manufacturing population which it directs; the object is not to govern that population, but to use it."

If it were possible, and it is, and they were willing, and they are not; for the rich to see how the poor live who they have helped to create out of their own immoral desires to exploit, then they would be less likely to exploit out of a natural, instinctual caring of people for people that can only be managed by keeping humanity at arm's length... For this reason we export capital and import products... The jobs we do that are too expensive to keep here, because those who do them demand some justice are exported to people where food is more essential than justice; but in the process, immorality is exported and the immoral beome in distant lands a commodity to travellers...Sexual injustice follows on the heels of economic injustice... Our humanity is a hard thing to deny, but deny it we do with the simple act of averting our eyes... To see no evil is to do no good...
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jan, 2012 07:09 am
@Fido,
I asked a simple question and I don't think, even with all those words, you answered it. Let's try again.

Are turtles moral?
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Jan, 2012 07:12 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

I asked a simple question and I don't think, even with all those words, you answered it. Let's try again.

Are turtles moral?

What have they for a choice??? They follow their instincts, and we deny ours, because we can, and reason serves us in that capacity to reach unreasonable goals by immoral means...
0 Replies
 
 

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