19
   

Relativity of morality

 
 
FBM
 
  2  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2014 02:31 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

And, of course, it will most likely happen that culltures--when compared globally-- will be ranked according to culture-bound standards.
That was probably FBM's point.


Yes, precisely.
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  2  
Reply Wed 5 Nov, 2014 11:28 pm
@JLNobody,
...which derives from people...which derives from ? Wink
0 Replies
 
johnny55
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 05:01 pm
It is popular these days to assert that morality is relative, in the sense that it is completely unbound and even arbitrary. I think this is an unsupportable position. Obviously there are boundaries, not the least of which is our physical human-ness. As human animals, we all share certain needs, desires, pain, satisfaction, and distress. If we can accept certain premises, such as individual and group flourishing, thriving, prospering, fulfillment, are more "desirable" goals than impoverishment, failure to thrive, languishing, and decay, then certain moral standards promote the former, and avoid the latter. So, for example, if we can accept these very conservative and undemanding premises, then we could quickly conclude that torture, rape, pillaging, genocide, sabotage, etc are immoral, and their opposites (helping, respecting, supporting, giving) are moral. If you argue that we cannot accept these premises, I would respond that you are being arbitrarily argumentative, perverse, stubborn, and obstinate.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 05:07 pm
@johnny55,
Quote:
If you argue that we cannot accept these premises, I would respond that you are being arbitrarily argumentative, perverse, stubborn, and obstinate.


I find this funny.

You aren't really the kind of person who is open to other points of view, are you.
johnny55
 
  0  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 05:12 pm
@maxdancona,
I 'm open to ideas that have value. I doubt you can produce an argument in favor of a morality that stomps on individual flourishing (eudaimon) and promotes group disintegration, but go ahead, give it whirl, if it amuses you. I expect to see a display of tortured sophistry rather than thoughtful moral philosophizing.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 05:33 pm
@johnny55,
Quote:
I 'm open to ideas that have value.


No you are not. You are saying that you think you are correct and that you are going to insult anyone who dares to disagree with you. Why would I subject myself to that?

Being open to ideas means that you can listen respectfully to people who disagree with you. It means you will consider what people are saying without passing judgement on them (at least not before you hear what they have to say).

And people who are open to ideas sometimes learn new things from people who don't share their point of view. I am pretty strongly liberal in most issues (using the USian meaning of the term), yet I have intelligent friends who are either Republican or Libertarian. I don't agree with them on most issues, but I enjoy hearing what they have to say... and I even learn some thing. Occasionally I end up agreeing with them.

If you are expecting "tortured sophistry" from me before you have heard a single thing I have to say... how can you possibly be open to ideas?

I would be happy to have an intelligent respectful discussion on the topic.
johnny55
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 09:11 pm
@maxdancona,
Well, so far no value perceived
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 09:32 pm
@johnny55,
Of course not. You have already said that you will refuse to see any value. If you close your mind and state before a discussion that you will refuse to listen to anyone who disagrees with you, what is the point of having a discussion.

You said you are going to ignore and disrespect anyone who dares to disagree with you before you even listen to them.

If you have already said that you consider anyone who disagrees with you to be an idiot, why would anyone bother?

I am giving you the chance to change your position. If you say that you would enjoy a respectful discussion with someone who disagrees with you, I might enjoy having one.

The implication would be that both of us would be open-minded and thoughtful even on issues that we can't agree on.

What would you think about that?





johnny55
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 09:37 pm
@maxdancona,
Man, I asked you to come up with a defense of a morality that does not value human flourishing, prospering, fulfillment, and all you can do is whine about my attitude. You had an out which you didn't take, which was to propose some form of deontology or instrumentalism that values some other fundamental property, but instead all you can do is complain about how I express myself. Get it together dude.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 09:39 pm
@johnny55,
Quote:
If you argue that we cannot accept these premises, I would respond that you are being arbitrarily argumentative, perverse, stubborn, and obstinate.


You said you are going to insult anyone who doesn't accept your premises. Do you see the problem with that?

I will engage in an intelligent, respectful discussion with you about something we may disagree about. Do you want that?

If not, then I will go somewhere else for an interesting discussion.
johnny55
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 09:57 pm
@maxdancona,
OK Max, go ahead. Present your idea.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 10:34 pm
@johnny55,
I question your basic premise

I suspect that if you base morality on what makes humans (and other species) thrive, you aren't going to come up with the answer you want.

Over most of human history, humans have raped, tortured, pillaged and killed... and yet they have never failed to thrive. Other species have similar experience, killing and raping are not exclusive to humans, and yet these other species that kill and rape also thrive.

Human nature is tribal. We are compassionate to people we feel are part of our social group, and we are either indifferent or hostile (depending on the circumstances) to other groups. Several cultures that have committed genocide throughout human history have certainly thrived. Our own culture committed genocide and thrived doing it.

I have my own morality that says that genocide or rape are horribly wrong.

But I certainly can't make an argument that countries or cultures that have accepted rape and genocide haven't thrived.

johnny55
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2015 11:20 pm
@maxdancona,
You are focusing on a definition of "thrive" which I am not using. I am using "thrive" in the Eudaimon sense, not in the sense of growing bigger or more numerous or overpowering the competition.

Basically, I am arguing for a form of Aristotelian Virtue Ethics. This consists in pursuing what makes your life a "complete" life, in the ancient Greek sense of being autonomous, fulfilled, of our lives having been a "good project". Success is living life well, using our limited time and resources in ways that are productive, purposeful, important (to us), and satisfying, doing interesting, creative, relevant and helpful work for ourselves and for others, having friends and being a good friend, and (very important) helping others achieve similar success in their lives.

Aristotle described the eudaimon life life is one of “virtuous activity in accordance with reason”, and Epicurus described it similarly - having pleasurable experiences, good friends, and a meaningful, philosophical life. For Epicurus, "pleasure" was not purely self-indulgent (though, technically, he was a hedonist), rather it involved living modestly, gaining knowledge of how the world works, and learning the limits of one's desires. A life spent in this way would lead one to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia) and freedom from fear. He said, "It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly. And it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life."

Obviously this won't work in all situations - no single moral system is free of corner cases where they don't make sense and, in fact, can be made to look ridiculous. But, combined with a judicious amount of Utilitarianism when it comes to social welfare, and the occasion appeal to Deontology when it comes to simply preserving stability and avoiding chaos, I find Virtue Ethics to be the most versatile, best fit for most situations.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2015 06:22 am
@johnny55,
I don't see anything to disagree with here. Your system of ethics are as good as any. And you admit that your system won't work in all situations... that is a very reasonable stance.

As long as you don't insist that your understanding represents an absolute truth that everyone should follow without question, I don't have a problem with it.
Krumple
 
  0  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2015 06:34 am
@InkRune,
InkRune wrote:

For this discussion I'm going to use the term Relativity of Morality to define the thought that each individual creates his/her/other morality.

Postulate 1
If morality is relative, then anyone can believe anything.

Postulate 2
If anyone can believe anything, then everything is believable

With me so far?
So now to add a little grittier bit.

Postulate 3
If everything is believable, then there are no lies, except when someone believes there are lies.

Well, that postulate should probably be redefined.

Postulate 3 revisited
If everything is believable, nothing is true.

Almost there! Do you kinda see how this works?
While this discussion is titled Relativity of Morality, a more fitting term might be Relativity of Ideals, but I don't think I should change it, because its not one of my ideals.

Postulate 3 finalized - Now titled Axiom 1
If everything is believable, anyone can believe anything.

By defining Postulate 3 as an Axiom we're able to define its definent quality.

So by defining Postulates 1
(If morality is relevative, then anyone can believe anything)
and 2
(If anyone can believe anything, then everything is believable)
and then condensing them into a more or less acceptable Axiom
(If everything is believable, anyone can believe anything)
we've come full circle, and barely missed the tragedy of circular reasoning.

Questions?


All of this is wrong because you have left out the necessary element. We don't base morality on a singular individual. We base morality on the impacts an action has on others. You are leaving out a crucial element and that is "other".

maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2015 12:15 pm
@Krumple,
Postulates 1 and 2 aren't valid either. Everything in this argument falls apart from there.

0 Replies
 
johnny55
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2015 04:17 pm
@maxdancona,
You are correct. It seems to be the case that no single moral framework is appropriate for all situations. I have an amusing deductive proof of this, which I don't take very seriously, but it is kind of interesting.

There is a valid form of logical reasoning called “denying the consequent” (aka “modus tollens”) which I think can be used to show that moral problems do not, in general, have clear solutions. The logical form is:

If P, then Q.
Not Q.
Therefore, Not P.

Substituting for P and Q:
P = "there is a clear, best, moral framework"
Q = "we would not still be debating it"

If "there is a clear, best, moral framework", then
"we would not still be debating it".
But it is NOT TRUE that "we are not still debating it", even after
2500 years.
Therefore it is not true that "there is a clear, best, moral
framework"

I know it is really stretching to try to apply deductive logic to a fuzzy problem like morality, and I only am doing it to amuse myself. But, there you are.
0 Replies
 
johnny55
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2015 04:54 pm
@maxdancona,
Max, I completely agree with your observation that no ones' "understanding represents an absolute truth that everyone should follow without question". It seems that no matter how fully fleshed out a moral framework is, they each have "holes" in them making them incapable of providing strong guidance to important some moral problems. Hypothetical ethical scenarios can show the weaknesses in each type of system. None are able to embrace all aspects of morality - each has one or more deficiencies or blind spots.

For example, a true utilitarian consequentialist would consider rescuing his own child from an imminent danger to be less important and "consequential" than rescuing two children living a continent away, but if we witnessed a parent making this moral choice (allowing his child to be killed while sending a generous life-saving check to Unicef), we would consider that person negligent, or even insane.

Deontology can be so mindlessly duty-bound that its followers would make decisions that violate all common sense (not tell a lie even to save a life, for example).

A committed Virtue Ethicist may find himself with competing and conflicting virtues (what if the virtues of kindness and honesty collide, and one must violate one to honor the other?). Virtue Ethics also lacks any particular social focus, emphasizing the individual character above the good of others - in other words, it can tend towards the selfish, as well as being highly subjective about what constitutes virtue.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2015 07:03 pm
@johnny55,
I think there is a more basic problem with any system of values.

Obviously as humans (a species that evolved with a strong sense of self-preservation) we think that human life is pretty darn important. But that is just because we are humans.

Outside of human self-interest, is there any objective value to human life? If so, where does this value come from?

There is nothing in the Universe, other than humans themselves (and maybe dogs, but that's just because we bred them to care about us) that puts any value on human life. Animals are happy to eat us, viruses are happy to kill us. Meteors, volcanoes, Earthquakes tsunami are all deadly to us, even our own planet just does what it will do without any regard to our well being.

This is why I believe that any moral system based on the idea that there is any value to human life (or human happiness or human comfort or anything) must be a human invention.

I have a moral system, and I rather like it and I strongly think if more people agreed with me the world will be more to my liking.

But if I am being honest with myself, there is no absolute truth that I can use to support my moral system. It is just the rules that I would prefer everyone live by. In a universe that puts no value on human life, any claim that human behavior matters outside of subjective human judgement is self-deception.
Kolyo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Feb, 2015 01:31 am
@maxdancona,
Bit of a digression, sorry...

maxdancona wrote:

I think there is a more basic problem with any system of values.


Worst of all is a system where we all endeavor to do what is best for the future of our genes!

This is what philosopher Daniel Dennett has to say on the matter:

"You can do something for your own sake, or for the sake of the children, or for the sake of art, or for the sake of democracy, or for the sake of ... peanut butter. I find it hard to imagine why anybody would want to put the well-being and further flourishing of peanut butter above all else, but peanut butter can be put on the pedestal just as readily as art or children can. One could even decide--though it would be a strange choice--that the thing one wanted most to protect was one's own genes. No sane person would make such a decision." (Darwin's Dangerous Idea, p. 328.)
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Define Morality - Question by neologist
Killing through a dungeon - Question by satyesu
Morality. - Discussion by Logicus
Creationism in schools - Question by MORALeducation
Morality (a discussion) - Discussion by Smileyrius
Morality Concerning Prostitution - Discussion by brainspew
 
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 01/16/2022 at 04:45:59