Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Morality and perception

  1. Sep 21, 2007 #1
    What is morality, really? Each person would have a different set of morals, I suppose. So if I think gay marriage is right, but a majority doesn't, do I have bad morals? How do you define good morals anyway?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 21, 2007 #2
    Oh yes, and perception. Perception, how someone sees something. So if I can perceive something differently, this will generate alternative morals from another who perceives differently from I. So again, how do you define good morals?
  4. Sep 22, 2007 #3
    morality is about 'fairness'.

    i think the concept of 'fair market value' is important too, and i dont just mean in a monetary sense. i mean anything that people value.
  5. Sep 22, 2007 #4
    "Morality is about 'fairness'"- granpa

    What if I think something is fair that you don't? Are my morals wrong? Or are they wrong only to you and people with similar morals? The thing about morals is that they differ.
  6. Sep 22, 2007 #5
    'fair market value'

    thats where the 'fair market value' comes in.
  7. Sep 22, 2007 #6
    Unfortunately supply and demand is fairly ruthless, not to mention fickle.
    Morality is arbitrary, and fairness is an illusion. Getting the best deal is formalized extortion.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2007
  8. Sep 22, 2007 #7
    yes the price of goods and services fluctuates with supply and demand but that does not make it arbitrary or illusory. and it certainly doesnt make it extortion.
  9. Sep 22, 2007 #8
    You're mixing two sentences together. I did not say that.

    To extort:
    "To obtain from another by coercion or intimidation."
    Its called sales.
  10. Sep 22, 2007 #9
    the whole point of a free market place is that people buy and sell things of their own freewill. competition will drive prices down but not below the minimum that people are willing to work for. the existance of any coercion or intimidation would completely eliminate the whole concept of a 'free' market place and therefore 'fair' market prices.

    if prices are fair and non-arbitrary then morality can be also.
  11. Sep 22, 2007 #10
    There is nothing free about market places.

    They only really involve freewill if what you are buying are things you don't need. Its an easy mistake to make, when you are well off and in a land of plenty

    Food, for instance, is not something a person can go out with. If I produce food, I will need to defend it, either with personal physical force, or the vicarious force supplied by the government/police, who will demand taxes. If I don't produce it, but decide to take it, I will need to use some kind of force. On a basic level I can do this with either personal physical force, or by refusing to give something that someone else needs to them, unless they give me food. Bartering then becomes a basis for a monetary system.

    'Fair price' depends on enforcing bargains. And people will invariably do what ever they can do to get around this enforcement. You cannot have a market without security, without punishment for those who do not want to play that game. Its only free if I have the option not to pay.

    Trade is polite, even civilized, but generally only when there is plenty to buy, money to buy it, and punishment for those who don't play ball. Its like gladiators in an arena, its formalized warfare, as opposed to getting knifed in an alley. I'd rather be a gladiator, but I wouldn't want to be one.

    I'm a big fan of capitalism, it works very well in modern society, but I think you are being naive. Take away our technology and we would return to serfdom and slavery in two shakes of stick. Without our machine slaves, we would need animals... and other humans to do our dirty work.

    No one wants to pay for things they don't have to, and most will turn a blind eye, if they think they can get away with either getting something free or increasing profit, increasing profit means money to buy other things we can't get for free. Money is a great way of coercing people to do things they would never normally choose to do.

    They aren't, and it isn't. Pretending otherwise may make it easier for you to sleep at night, but its not reality, which can be wonderful and horrible. Simple moralities are based on an emotional response...hot->pain->bad->thou shalt not.... of course as long as the pain isn't our own, we can think of all kinds of 'greater and lesser evils'. And what we can't see, is easily ignored.
  12. Sep 23, 2007 #11
    well i didnt understand half of that but i will say this. i am not naive. i know that the system is screwed up but it is screwed up precisely because it is not 'free'. because free competition is undermined by people cheating the system.

    you want to be 'free' of all necessities? the system is not 'fair' because you have to work? well thats a childish attitude.

    you may have no choice but to buy food but as long as you have a choice of who to buy it from and those people are in honest competition with one another then the price should reflect the fair market price.
  13. Sep 23, 2007 #12
    Are they self-consistent, or do you contradict yourself?
    Do you follow them blindly or do you make rational exceptions?

    A good moral is a generalization that applies in most situations, but that doesn't oblige in extraordinary circumstances. Moral absolutes are for children.

    The way most people do, whether they admit it or not, Morals are rules *I* think are right. Its completely subjective and arbitrary of course. Societies form around people with common interests, but each has their own. Its only with things like scientific method that we have sought some basic form of 'objective' understanding and the truth is we aren't very good at it.
  14. Sep 23, 2007 #13
    Systems aren't people, its like mathematics vs real objects. Mathematics is an approximation, an abstraction. The system doesn't work 'properly' because it doesn't take into account how people really are and if it does, it stifles their freedom intentionally for the sake of maintaining the system.
    I didn't say I wanted free anything. I said you were naive to believe in 'free' markets. There is no freedom there, at best, and it gets worse, it is a negotiation at the barrel of a gun. What is childish is pretending its not that. Life isn't fair, nor free, we don't get what we want and sometimes we don't even get what we need. We are victims of a silent universe. The freedom to choose not to starve is a very poor kind of freedom if that is what you want to call it. All we really have is each other and sometimes we kill each other for stupid reasons.
    And if you can't afford that fair market price? You die.
    Wouldn't 'fair' be a price everyone can afford?
    And how would that be fair to people doing the work?
    There are people dying right now who can't afford food.
    And there are people destroying perfectly good food they can't sell.

    Capitalism may be better than barbarism, or even communism.... or any other ism, but its hardly 'fair'. Market forces cause plenty of pain and suffering. Thats why governments are always trying to regulate them.
  15. Sep 23, 2007 #14
    And how would that be fair to people doing the work?
    i have no idea what you meant by that.

    so basically you are saying that the system isnt fair because poor people exist and cant afford the 'fair market price' of necessities.

    is that 'fair' to the poor people? the answer is no. definitely not. but it isnt the systems fault. it is reality itself that is the culprit. the system is fair. reality is unfair.

    of course we have insurance to help people who experience some unfortunate setback but everyone who pays into it benefits from it. i take it you are saying that some people are born into poverty and if they ever do escape it then they have no reason to expect that they will ever be poor again so therefore have no reason to help the poor. no reason to pay into a sort of 'poor people insurance'. so the poor are just left to themselves. if that is what you are saying then you may be onto something. but i think you may be looking at it wrong. it is unfair to the poor people to be born into poverty but at the same time it would be totally unfair to the rich to make them pay for something even though they, the rich, will not get anything out of doing so? no. its unfair all around. its not that the system is unfair. its just reality itself.

    clearly we are dealing here with two different concepts of 'fair'. the 'fair market value concept of fairness' and the more general idea of fairness. i concur that the fair market place will only carry the idea of fairness so far. to bridge the gap to the idea of fairness in general requires something extra.

    it seems to me that the 'fair market value' of commodities establishes the idea of 'fairness'. then that 'something extra' is to place (a high) value on fairness itself.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2007
  16. Sep 23, 2007 #15
    Market value is market value, its a number. 'Fair' is a value judgment and will depend on your circumstances. If you have to fight to survive, or steal to eat, you will view the 'fairness' of society very differently, regardless of how others benefit from whatever system they care to choose. No man-made system is perfect, certainly not capitalism, therefore it is not fair in any absolute sense. As a working solution, its useful. Using words like 'fair' and 'free' with regards to markets are loosely descriptive at best, wholly inaccurate at worst. The reality of the market is the law of the jungle, the rules are just artificial, as opposed to natural.

    "The will to a system is a lack of integrity"
    - Nietzsche
  17. Sep 23, 2007 #16
    well that is your opinion and you keep repeating it as though that will somehow prove its truth.

    i can understand rejecting the idea of an absolute morality but 'fair market value' is not an absolute and yet you reject even that idea. i see no rationale behind that.

    so you are saying that sometimes you may have to steal in order to eat? well lets look at that. what does it mean to 'steal'? to steal is to take without paying the fair market price. so even if we accept that that does in fact occur it not only doesnt disprove the existence of 'fairness' but it proves that it does exist.

    a free market establishes fair market value for goods and services (including labor). it then constrains people to act fairly in buying and selling. reality itself is not so constrained. it deals us all our cards at random. some people are born rich and others are born poor. some win the lottery and others lose everything in a disaster. if you want reality to be fair then, yes, it will require something more than a free market.

    if you do have to steal in order to eat then how does that differ from what i said before. it may not be fair to you to starve but it isnt fair to the store owners to have to pay for the food you steal. its unfair all around. the system isnt being unfair. its reality itself that is unfair. and that is perhaps a very good reason why we should go that extra step that i talked about. to actually place a high value on fairness itself. if we all valued fairness then we would be inclined to help those who reality had screwed.

    i wanted to add that if i were in the position of being able to help some poor person and i knew that i wolud not profit from doing so i would ask myself 'woud this person do the same for me?'
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2007
  18. Sep 23, 2007 #17
    Initially you stated you didn't understand most of what I was saying. Did you not wish me to clarify? Not sure why you would continue otherwise.

    Because what is fair is completely subjective, and market value involves large numbers of people who are not going agree on said price.
    That may be your definition, but the police would disagree. Stealing is taking what is not legally yours without permission regardless of how 'fairly' it is priced. Again, if you're stealing it, you probably don't consider it a fair price. And in a market economy it doesn't even have to be a majority agreement on what is fair, it has more to do with what the rich powerful people decide.
    Again, I think you're being naive. How much is my labour worth? I guarantee people who work 12 hour days picking fruit in fields work 10 times as hard as your average office worker and get paid much less. I've done both, so I know. Markets are controlled and manipulated all the time, generally by those who can afford to do so, which puts those who can't, at a disadvantage, which has nothing to do with value of goods. Just look at the way a company like Microsoft crushes competition by leveraging the market instead of providing a superior product. 'Vista' sales have been driven by its default inclusion in most new PCs.

    So a free market is not free and fair market value is an illusion. It doesn't live up to the hype.
    If reality makes it impossible for said system to be fair, then the system isn't fair because it doesn't address reality. It may be a wonderful system, in theory, but if doesn't deliver in the real world, bottom line, it doesn't deliver.
    As a society we do just that, its called taxing the rich. We do this because our system is weighted towards the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. I'm not sure how you can continue to call it fair and free when it doesn't address inequities and necessities. A fair system would take these into account. Market systems are incomplete at best.
    Thats bad strategy. Game theory shows that a tit-for-tat strategy is much better for society and the individual long term.
  19. Sep 23, 2007 #18
    they dont have to agree on the price. that is the whole point. 'fair' is not about everybody being happy.

    markets are controlled and manipulated? yes, i agree. didnt i agree with you several posts ago. i said that a hypothetical 'free' market place establishes 'fair' market value. i said nothing about a market that is being manipulated. a manipulated market is not a 'free' market.

    i never said that the reality is fair (in a broader moral sense). you came up with that idea on your own. reality is unfair. it deals us our cards at random. you cant call that fair. but given that unfairness the 'free' market does establish 'fair' market value. i never said reality is fair. that would be ridiculous. this is not an argument for or against capitalism. it is a thread about a hypothetical 'free marketplace' and the foundations of morality.

    is it fair if one person wins the lottery and others dont. no. if a person is born with a rare disease and has to pay expensive medical bills is that fair. no. of course not. but is it fair that others should pay for it? no. its still unfair. reality screws us all. that is a given. how you take that fact and then say that the 'free' market value established by the hypothetical 'free' market place is therefore unfair is beyond me. one has nothing to do with the other. perhaps you could give an example and what you would do differently.

    your complaint just seems to be that life is unfair therefore capitalism is wrong. but life is unfair for reasons that have nothing to do with capitalism. even a hypothetical perfectly fair economic system is not going to eliminate all of reality's unfairness. that will require something more than an economic system.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2007
  20. Sep 23, 2007 #19
    "fair market value" - http://www.bartleby.com/61/54/F0015400.html
    NOUN: The price, as of a commodity or service, at which both buyers and sellers agree to do business.

    Which gets back to me thinking you are naive, no market, where they exchange anything of any worth isn't manipulated, in fact, they are set up with all kinds advantages in mind. Even on the street level, you have 'sales' and bate and switch advertising, and outright lying. Your understanding of markets appears to be completely theoretical, or at the least, idealized.

    I don't agree even one bit.
    Sorry, this doesn't make any sense to me. Markets are controlled by those with power, there is nothing fair about that. Different rules for different people, it was ever thus.

    I never said you did. But if you don't address the reality of situation with your 'system', then the system is ultimately unfair.

    As to this thread being about morality, you are correct, but this was your example, not mine. Maybe its just a bad example, but I don't see it supporting your assertion that morality is about fairness. Trying to be fair is certainly an aspect of some moral philosophies, but its hardly universal. Many moral systems are based on hierarchical systems that value different things, and different people, in different ways.
  21. Sep 23, 2007 #20
    the buyer and seller do have to agree. i was responding to your assertion that the hypothetical free market value was unfair because 'everyone' doesnt agree on that price. if someone doesnt agree with the price then they dont have to buy it.

    "I don't agree even one bit.
    Sorry, this doesn't make any sense to me. Markets are controlled by those with power, there is nothing fair about that. Different rules for different people, it was ever thus.'

    do you not underestand the idea of 'hypothetical'? it isnt necessary that any real world system be truly 'free'. we can still assume it for the sake of discussion.

    a fair economic system is one thing. a fair reality is another. an economic system is only a small part of reality.
    if life/reality is unfair then it does not follow that the economic system, especially a hypothetical one, must necessarily be unfair.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2007
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Morality and perception
  1. Morals (Replies: 45)

  2. Problem of Morality (Replies: 16)

  3. The mutual moral (Replies: 3)

  4. Maintaining morals (Replies: 3)