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Truth in Objective Truth?

  1. Jun 2, 2009 #1
    Well.... during one of my theology classes I encountered objective truth as being always and irrefutably wrong.... and one example was rape.

    Do you believe something like rape is objectively wrong... as in the is no relativistic view of it -- it will always be wrong no matter the circumstance, etc etc.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 3, 2009 #2
    Since this relies on morals and ethics it will always be subjective. Objective truths can't exist for humans I don't think. For instance you speak of rape being objectively 'wrong' well define what is wrong in the first place... who is it wrong FOR?
  4. Jun 3, 2009 #3
    One of problems with this question from a 'relativistic' point of view is the use of the word 'rape'.

    Rape, the word, has a very specific legal usage, which implies a criminal act. We run into the same problem with the word 'murder'. Is murder wrong? Well since its a crime, in a legal context, yes. But thats only because the definition of the word includes the fact that its legally 'wrong'. Morally wrong and legally wrong are not always the same.

    This is why anti-abortion activists always call abortion murder, even though legally its not in a lot of places. Its part of the propaganda war. Pro-choice activists, on the otherhand, focus on the 'choice' aspect, even though its only one 'choice' they are really concerned about.

    So the real questions you should be asking are: What constitutes rape?

    Definitions of what constitutes rape and sexual assault actually vary quite widely.
    Both legally, and morally. It often involves issues of consent, age, coercive elements, and marital status.
  5. Jun 3, 2009 #4
    I assumed he was talking of morally wrong. Which is why I asked him to define what wrong even meant and to whom. Legally yes the definition automatically makes it wrong but it still isn't objective truth... some legal systems its ok to rape. I believe even in some religions its ok.
  6. Jun 3, 2009 #5
    The act of rape presupposes that self-ownership is valid for you, but not for your rape victim. Thus, you are both asserting and rejecting universal property rights, which makes rape invalid.
  7. Jun 3, 2009 #6
    Saying objective truth is irrefutably wrong makes about as much sense as saying it is irrefutably right. In order to prove such a thing one would need to presume something else... etc. etc. etc. For example, to prove rape is wrong one can assume the premises that property rights are an objective truth and all rapists believe in property rights to construct an argument how rape contradicts objective truth.

    If one can't prove that all rapists believe in property rights for themselves then using the presumed beliefs of rapists renders their proof relative. Using a relative argument to prove objective truth is a stolen concept fallacy.

    If one can't prove that property rights are a universal truth then all they have shown is that rape is illogical. To show that rape is objectively wrong one would have to show that being irrational is objectively wrong. Otherwise their argument is just a strawman.

    I would say objective truth is unprovable, not right or wrong. Yes, I believe objective truth exists, but my belief is relative.
  8. Jun 3, 2009 #7
    Legal doesn't equal objective I agree. But since 'rape' is an assessment of an act, not purely a description, when you ask is rape wrong, you're either asking is something illegal, wrong, or you're asking is something that is wrong, wrong?

    In order to address the question of rape, you need to describe the act, since people may interpret the word rape differently. The word prejudices any response.
  9. Jun 4, 2009 #8
    I heard that in some cultures (Vikings?) it was okay to rape. Most crimes can be gotten round if you only consider your own tribe to be really worthy of being called 'people'.

    In my philosophy exam yesterday I used the murder of a family member as an act that is almost universally frowned upon.
  10. Jun 4, 2009 #9
    Again, the 'murder' part is where you are cheating. Murder implies either 'wrong' or 'illegal'.

    Compare: Killing a family member.

    Mercy killing
    Capital punishment (this is unlikely in our day and age, but not unheard of on the tribal level)

    The word 'murder' implies wrong, so most people would agree, based on the word's connotations. But if you change the word to killing, which has less implied wrongness, and is more 'descriptive' by nature, it changes the equation rather drastically.
  11. Jun 4, 2009 #10
    oh I see what you are saying now joedawg. But just because you use a different word when you write it down doesn't mean that the act doesn't fit the definition of rape or murder. So in my opinion it could still be rape or murder so of course you can call it that but it doesn't necessarily make it wrong.

    You only THINK its wrong because of the values you've grown up with. If you grew up in a different time period or part of the world where rape wasn't frowned upon you would be saying the opposite... Thats what I was getting at before with the wrong to who.
  12. Jun 4, 2009 #11
    It may be almost universally frowned upon by people outside that family, but murder is commonly committed by someone known to the victim, including family members.

    That a thing is universally frowned upon doesn't necessarily make it wrong. Picking one's nose in public is frowned upon too, but it doesn't warrant life in prison. Maybe this is just a matter of scale, but I think that 'universally frowned upon' needs some clarification as to how it pertains to objectivity. You need to show a causal relationship between murder and wrongness. To do that you need an objective definition of both terms. Good luck!
  13. Jun 5, 2009 #12
    Okay so murder is a loaded word. Let's narrow our definition slightly.

    To kill a healthy adult member of ones own immediate family against that persons will is not considered to be an acceptable mode of conduct in any human culture.

    I know it's not good science but can we just assume this to be true unless someone can provide a counter-example?

    I'm anticipating someone coming up with an example where there are extenuating circumstances, like Zeus killing his father or whatever, but in such cases the victim of the killing has already done something to forfeit their own moral worth, in the example I gave having eaten his children.

    Also it was a bad example because Greek myths are notable not so much for setting moral standards as pointedly ingoring them. If any other examples are given it is a requirement that the familicidal character be admired for his act as one of moral worth, it is not sufficient to simply show that it happened.
  14. Jun 5, 2009 #13
    Honour killings. In many cultures this form of capital punishment results from dishonoring one's family. Example: women who commit adultery or other improper conduct.


    Sacrificial killings

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