Where is Morality Going?

  • Thread starter Mattius_
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  • #1
Mattius_
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An objective question from an objective person... You be the judge...
 

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  • #2
Laser Eyes
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Downhill on a slippery slope.
 
  • #3
You'd have to define morality, before you can give it a direction, don't you?
 
  • #4
Originally posted by Laser Eyes
Downhill on a slippery slope.
Can you give a little more detail than that, please? I think I know where you are going with this, but something more specific would likely prevent confusion.
 
  • #5
Mattius_
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Yes I was hoping to get a more extensive and cited answer. Define morality as the 'public standard of tolerance'. You see, i have my own 'hopes' about where it is going, but I cannot grasp where it REALLY is going... Hoping you guys/girls could help me out.
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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If the "public standard of tolerance" is the morality, the the morality is constant, its the scale that is sliding down.

Sorry for nitpicking, but being specific about morality is one of my pet peves. I can't tell you how many times I've had the moral relativisim discussion with my friends - morality gets much more absolute when you get specific about it.
 
  • #7
Mattius_
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bah im not getting what i want... i want court decisions, movements, precedents of any kind, the integration of the internet and its implications... that type of stuff... your thoughts?
 
  • #8
Originally posted by russ_watters
If the "public standard of tolerance" is the morality, the the morality is constant, its the scale that is sliding down.

Sorry for nitpicking, but being specific about morality is one of my pet peves. I can't tell you how many times I've had the moral relativisim discussion with my friends - morality gets much more absolute when you get specific about it.

One of the places where me and Russ seem to agree(we don't agree on who is actually being moral, at least in politics...)If morality is based on public acceptance, than what a slide away from morality would mean is that more people are acting against what teh general public accepts. The problem is, one that number hits 51%, the 'deviants' BECOME the public, if you catch my drift.
 
  • #9
Originally posted by Mattius_
bah im not getting what i want... i want court decisions, movements, precedents of any kind, the integration of the internet and its implications... that type of stuff... your thoughts?
You have to tell us what the standard of morality is specifically, and then we would have to accept your definition, before we can determine if there has been a shift towards or away from.
 
  • #10
Mattius_
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ok, ill do that tommorrow when i have time, its going to require some thought.
 
  • #11
Originally posted by Mattius_
ok, ill do that tommorrow when i have time, its going to require some thought.

Cool, I look forward to it.
 
  • #12
Oh, and Mattius: no flaming here...I CAN delete your posts, if you disagree with me and throw another temper tantrum.
 
  • #13
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Zero
Oh, and Mattius: no flaming here...I CAN delete your posts, if you disagree with me and throw another temper tantrum.
Not sure I see a need to threaten him. There was nothing antagonistic about his post.

Mattius, maybe this will help: Abortion. We're gradually moving away from abortion being legal towards it being illegal. Whether thats a change in morality or a PERCEPTION of morality (and the direction) depends on your opinion of abortion to begin with.
 
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  • #14
Originally posted by russ_watters
Not sure I see a need to threaten him. There was nothing antagonistic about his post.

Mattius, maybe this will help: Abortion. We're gradually moving away from abortion bein legal towards it being illegal. Whether thats a change in morality or a PERCEPTION of morality (and the direction) depends on your opinion of abortion to begin with.

See, you outline the problem nicely, Russ. All morality is in 'the eye of the beholder' isn't it? Some folks think personal freedom is all important, some of us think that following one universal standard is the way to go, and there is a huge spectrum of views in between. Most people pick and choose what they feel is 'moral' on each issue, and therefore the 'pure' ideas of 'all rules' or 'all freedom' don't really exist, nor does there exist a single standard for everyone.
 
  • #15
russ_watters
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I was actually thinking about starting my own thread last week on this, but this thread has gone philosophical with the morality so it seems appropriate here:

Moral Relativism. All morality is in the "eye of the beholder." There is no absolute standard of morality at all and therefore no basis to say one person's morality is any better than any other person's. Of course that means there is no basis for LAWS.

Moral Absolutism. There is an absolute standard of morality. Pretty straightforward. It is important to note however that just because there IS an absolute standard, doesn't mean we KNOW what the absolute standard is. That makes it more complicated than relativism because then you have to make decisions on where the line is. Beyond that you have to make decisions on who gets to make those decisions. Back to the eye of the beholder idea again. This is an apparent contradiction that Zero pointed out to me in PM.

So which is right? Is there an absolute standard of morality or not? Both views have clear flaws.

Relativism leads to anarchy unless you can strike a compromise - agreeing (through democracy for example) to subject yourself to someone else's (the "people's") view of morality. I have found that this is the dominant view. It helps that most people in the US follow the Judeo/Christian moral tradition so our views on morality aren't that far apart. But that means that we have no basis for a foreign policy except by international consensus. Hitler isn't subject to our moral code because he's not an American. Now that we have the UN, it gives us a crutch - allowing us to keep moral relativism by ceding to the will of the UN (depending on who writes the foreign policy of course). Having the UN eliminates the need for the member nations to have a set standard of morality and stand up for it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Moral absolutism has the flaw of needing to decide where that absolute standard comes from and who knows what it is. If one person says there is an absolute standard given to him by God that says cannibalism is murder and another has an absolutes standard given to him by Ra that says its ok, how do you know who'se standard is the right one?

The answer is this: You approach the question scientifically. You set groundrules (baseline assumptions). You form a hypothesis and you see if it works. Now religious types HATE this idea because it takes God out of the picture. For some strange reason though most people support moral relativism (I think maybe I need to start a poll), most would also claim due to their religion that their God has given them the one true morality. A clear contradiction. In any case, if you approach morality scientifically, you CAN figure it out (for the most part anyway). The question really is where does the study lead? Does it lead, as many suspect physics does, to a single set of unifying rules (equations) that work in all situations? Or does it lead down a path of boxes within boxes, defining morality for ever more complex and gray situations wituout end? Dunno. As I indicated before, we don't have all the answers yet (thats part of what makes it tough).

Now about those groundrules I talked about. The primary one is that a universal rule must be universal. Sounds self evident, but the implication is that you can't look at a situation in a vacuum. You have to flip it over and ask yourself "what if everyone else behaved this way?" Its kinda like the golden rule. A simple example is indiscriminite killing (murder). If everyone went around shooting people at random, what would happen? Clearly society would break down and everyone except one lucky bastard would be dead. So clearly indiscriminite killing must be morally wrong. Note: I use the most extreme examples for the sake of illustration, but clearly there are situations that are far more grey.

Now the application of this groundrule leads to a very uncomfortable (for many) implication: The Moral Imperative. Its the root of all debates on foreign policy. The domestic equivalent is "Good Samaritan" laws. The Moral Imperative states simply that it is morally wrong to turn a blind eye to a moral injustice that is being comitted in front of you and that you have the power to stop. You can arrive at this conclusion by applying universality: what if NO ONE stepped in to correct an injustice? That means no police, no lawyers, no prisons, no accountability at all. The criminals would take over.

Now I know this is a lot so I'll stop here. I know I haven't quite finished the thought, but this will generate a lot of feedback on its own. I'd like to deal with that before taking the next step.

Incidentally, this is a topic on which my background, though I tend to think is not really relevant, many will find interesting. I developed my coherent position on morality (as opposed to the one beaten into me by my mother, but never thought out) at the US Naval Academy. It seems morality and ethics were a real problem with the military especially during the Vietnam war. Besides classes in ethics where you simply read one person's book then discuss it or list the different theories and define them, we had seminars where we discussed it in a far more general way. Thats where I got my assessment that the majority (I think 80% or so) of people I've come across are moral relativists. By the end of the seminars, virtually all are moral absolutists. Now spare me the brainwashing bit - the people who go to the Naval Academy are pretty smart (note: I didn't finish, so I'm not tooting my own horn) and can think for themselves. The seminars are led by ordinary profs and structured loosely. Smart people arrive at the same conclusion because it is inevitable. Like the laws of physics it works. Its just that most people have never thought universal morality through.
See, you outline the problem nicely, Russ.
I know thats probably one of the most annoying things about me, Zero - I outline questions well but I don't necessarily always answer them. I don't intend to be specifically evasive, I just try to flush out other people's opinions in a way that leads them to mine. However if the question is complicated enough that it requres some skill to frame it clearly, it is inevitably also going to have a complicated answer. Even then, I don't always express my opinions clearly if I'm trying to generate a discussion. I'll try to be more specific in this thread now that we've beaten around the bush enough to flush out the problem.
 
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  • #16
I think I'm gonna have to move this out of here...it seems to be a good thread, but it has turned more philospical than anything else.
 
  • #17
Originally posted by russ_watters
I was actually thinking about starting my own thread last week on this, but this thread has gone philosophical with the morality so it seems appropriate here:

Moral Relativism. All morality is in the "eye of the beholder." There is no absolute standard of morality at all and therefore no basis to say one person's morality is any better than any other person's. Of course that means there is no basis for LAWS.
Not quite true, at least I don't think so. More later.

Moral Absolutism. There is an absolute standard of morality. Pretty straightforward. It is important to note however that just because there IS an absolute standard, doesn't mean we KNOW what the absolute standard is. That makes it more complicated than relativism because then you have to make decisions on where the line is. Beyond that you have to make decisions on who gets to make those decisions. Back to the eye of the beholder idea again. This is an apparent contradiction that Zero pointed out to me in PM.
With you so far.

So which is right? Is there an absolute standard of morality or not? Both views have clear flaws.

Relativism leads to anarchy unless you can strike a compromise - agreeing (through democracy for example) to subject yourself to someone else's (the "people's") view of morality. I have found that this is the dominant view. It helps that most people in the US follow the Judeo/Christian moral tradition so our views on morality aren't that far apart. But that means that we have no basis for a foreign policy except by international consensus. Hitler isn't subject to our moral code because he's not an American. Now that we have the UN, it gives us a crutch - allowing us to keep moral relativism by ceding to the will of the UN (depending on who writes the foreign policy of course). Having the UN eliminates the need for the member nations to have a set standard of morality and stand up for it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I would say that the purpose of an organization like the UN is more about setting and defending very broad absolutes, that nearly everyone agrees on. Very basic human rights are supported by logical means(which I know even both of us generally agree on, so how hard can it be for the rest of the world?;))

Moral absolutism has the flaw of needing to decide where that absolute standard comes from and who knows what it is. If one person says there is an absolute standard given to him by God that says cannibalism is murder and another has an absolutes standard given to him by Ra that says its ok, how do you know who'se standard is the right one?
Moral absolutism, at least how I see it practiced, also leaves little 'wiggle room' for judgment calls. There are often mitigating circumstances which make a simple abolutist ideology fail. Also, it is less than realistic to attempt to try to force our messy reality into the framework of an idealized framework of absolutist morality. In other words, I think absolutists have a huge blind spot when dealing with anything more than the most simplistic ideas.

[qoute]The answer is this: You approach the question scientifically. You set groundrules (baseline assumptions). You form a hypothesis and you see if it works. Now religious types HATE this idea because it takes God out of the picture. For some strange reason though most people support moral relativism (I think maybe I need to start a poll), most would also claim due to their religion that their God has given them the one true morality. A clear contradiction. In any case, if you approach morality scientifically, you CAN figure it out (for the most part anyway). The question really is where does the study lead? Does it lead, as many suspect physics does, to a single set of unifying rules (equations) that work in all situations? Or does it lead down a path of boxes within boxes, defining morality for ever more complex and gray situations wituout end? Dunno. As I indicated before, we don't have all the answers yet (thats part of what makes it tough).[/quote] Yeah, really tough, but that's what we're here for, aren't we?

[qoute]Now about those groundrules I talked about. The primary one is that a universal rule must be universal. Sounds self evident, but the implication is that you can't look at a situation in a vacuum. You have to flip it over and ask yourself "what if everyone else behaved this way?" Its kinda like the golden rule. A simple example is indiscriminite killing (murder). If everyone went around shooting people at random, what would happen? Clearly society would break down and everyone except one lucky bastard would be dead. So clearly indiscriminite killing must be morally wrong. Note: I use the most extreme examples for the sake of illustration, but clearly there are situations that are far more grey.[/quote] Last point first: it is the grey areas that hurt the purely absolutist concept. I would say that some good Socialist/Communist philosophy would fit in here nicely, don't you? You'll agree with me later(in principle).

Now the application of this groundrule leads to a very uncomfortable (for many) implication: The Moral Imperative. Its the root of all debates on foreign policy. The domestic equivalent is "Good Samaritan" laws. The Moral Imperative states simply that it is morally wrong to turn a blind eye to a moral injustice that is being comitted in front of you and that you have the power to stop. You can arrive at this conclusion by applying universality: what if NO ONE stepped in to correct an injustice? That means no police, no lawyers, no prisons, no accountability at all. The criminals would take over.

Now I know this is a lot so I'll stop here. I know I haven't quite finished the thought, but this will generate a lot of feedback on its own. I'd like to deal with that before taking the next step.
I'll wait until you go a bit further before I comment further...deal?

Incidentally, this is a topic on which my background, though I tend to think is not really relevant, many will find interesting. I developed my coherent position on morality (as opposed to the one beaten into me by my mother, but never thought out) at the US Naval Academy. It seems morality and ethics were a real problem with the military especially during the Vietnam war. Besides classes in ethics where you simply read one person's book then discuss it or list the different theories and define them, we had seminars where we discussed it in a far more general way. Thats where I got my assessment that the majority (I think 80% or so) of people I've come across are moral relativists. By the end of the seminars, virtually all are moral absolutists. Now spare me the brainwashing bit - the people who go to the Naval Academy are pretty smart (note: I didn't finish, so I'm not tooting my own horn) and can think for themselves. The seminars are led by ordinary profs and structured loosely. Smart people arrive at the same conclusion because it is inevitable.

Like the laws of physics it works. Its just that most people have never thought universal morality through. I know thats probably one of the most annoying things about me, Zero - I outline questions well but I don't necessarily always answer them. I don't intend to be specifically evasive, I just try to flush out other people's opinions in a way that leads them to mine. However if the question is complicated enough that it requres some skill to frame it clearly, it is inevitably also going to have a complicated answer. Even then, I don't always express my opinions clearly if I'm trying to generate a discussion. I'll try to be more specific in this thread now that we've beaten around the bush enough to flush out the problem.
I think this is a failing with have both displayed now and again. When we try to reduce complicated issues to a one-paragraph response, it inevitably turns into a fight, mostly because we are not being clear enough in our statements or motivations.

Oh, and can I ask if you can see the moral relativism in the views you hold?
 
  • #18
Oh, and just to interject my own views, I believe in a 'moral judgment framework', in which you start with a general absolute, then apply reason and judgment to individual cases, and at best try to decide on a 'least wrong' course of action.
 
  • #19
And just because I don't want you to think I've gotten soft on you, Russ:
Smart people arrive at the same conclusion because it is inevitable.
Smart people are the most easily fooled (and brainwashed).
 
  • #20
Zantra
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Originally posted by russ_watters
I was actually thinking about starting my own thread last week on this, but this thread has gone philosophical with the morality so it seems appropriate here:

Moral Relativism. All morality is in the "eye of the beholder." There is no absolute standard of morality at all and therefore no basis to say one person's morality is any better than any other person's. Of course that means there is no basis for LAWS.

Moral Absolutism. There is an absolute standard of morality. Pretty straightforward. It is important to note however that just because there IS an absolute standard, doesn't mean we KNOW what the absolute standard is. That makes it more complicated than relativism because then you have to make decisions on where the line is. Beyond that you have to make decisions on who gets to make those decisions. Back to the eye of the beholder idea again. This is an apparent contradiction that Zero pointed out to me in PM.

So which is right? Is there an absolute standard of morality or not? Both views have clear flaws.

Relativism leads to anarchy unless you can strike a compromise - agreeing (through democracy for example) to subject yourself to someone else's (the "people's") view of morality. I have found that this is the dominant view. It helps that most people in the US follow the Judeo/Christian moral tradition so our views on morality aren't that far apart. But that means that we have no basis for a foreign policy except by international consensus. Hitler isn't subject to our moral code because he's not an American. Now that we have the UN, it gives us a crutch - allowing us to keep moral relativism by ceding to the will of the UN (depending on who writes the foreign policy of course). Having the UN eliminates the need for the member nations to have a set standard of morality and stand up for it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Moral absolutism has the flaw of needing to decide where that absolute standard comes from and who knows what it is. If one person says there is an absolute standard given to him by God that says cannibalism is murder and another has an absolutes standard given to him by Ra that says its ok, how do you know who'se standard is the right one?

The answer is this: You approach the question scientifically. You set groundrules (baseline assumptions). You form a hypothesis and you see if it works. Now religious types HATE this idea because it takes God out of the picture. For some strange reason though most people support moral relativism (I think maybe I need to start a poll), most would also claim due to their religion that their God has given them the one true morality. A clear contradiction. In any case, if you approach morality scientifically, you CAN figure it out (for the most part anyway). The question really is where does the study lead? Does it lead, as many suspect physics does, to a single set of unifying rules (equations) that work in all situations? Or does it lead down a path of boxes within boxes, defining morality for ever more complex and gray situations wituout end? Dunno. As I indicated before, we don't have all the answers yet (thats part of what makes it tough).

Now about those groundrules I talked about. The primary one is that a universal rule must be universal. Sounds self evident, but the implication is that you can't look at a situation in a vacuum. You have to flip it over and ask yourself "what if everyone else behaved this way?" Its kinda like the golden rule. A simple example is indiscriminite killing (murder). If everyone went around shooting people at random, what would happen? Clearly society would break down and everyone except one lucky bastard would be dead. So clearly indiscriminite killing must be morally wrong. Note: I use the most extreme examples for the sake of illustration, but clearly there are situations that are far more grey.

Now the application of this groundrule leads to a very uncomfortable (for many) implication: The Moral Imperative. Its the root of all debates on foreign policy. The domestic equivalent is "Good Samaritan" laws. The Moral Imperative states simply that it is morally wrong to turn a blind eye to a moral injustice that is being comitted in front of you and that you have the power to stop. You can arrive at this conclusion by applying universality: what if NO ONE stepped in to correct an injustice? That means no police, no lawyers, no prisons, no accountability at all. The criminals would take over.

Now I know this is a lot so I'll stop here. I know I haven't quite finished the thought, but this will generate a lot of feedback on its own. I'd like to deal with that before taking the next step.

Incidentally, this is a topic on which my background, though I tend to think is not really relevant, many will find interesting. I developed my coherent position on morality (as opposed to the one beaten into me by my mother, but never thought out) at the US Naval Academy. It seems morality and ethics were a real problem with the military especially during the Vietnam war. Besides classes in ethics where you simply read one person's book then discuss it or list the different theories and define them, we had seminars where we discussed it in a far more general way. Thats where I got my assessment that the majority (I think 80% or so) of people I've come across are moral relativists. By the end of the seminars, virtually all are moral absolutists. Now spare me the brainwashing bit - the people who go to the Naval Academy are pretty smart (note: I didn't finish, so I'm not tooting my own horn) and can think for themselves. The seminars are led by ordinary profs and structured loosely. Smart people arrive at the same conclusion because it is inevitable. Like the laws of physics it works. Its just that most people have never thought universal morality through. I know thats probably one of the most annoying things about me, Zero - I outline questions well but I don't necessarily always answer them. I don't intend to be specifically evasive, I just try to flush out other people's opinions in a way that leads them to mine. However if the question is complicated enough that it requres some skill to frame it clearly, it is inevitably also going to have a complicated answer. Even then, I don't always express my opinions clearly if I'm trying to generate a discussion. I'll try to be more specific in this thread now that we've beaten around the bush enough to flush out the problem.

I think my view would tend to lean more toward relativism. Except that is too narrow of a definition. Moral relativism is applicable to society as a whole. Indeed morality is in the eyes of the beholder, or in a broader term, in the eyes of the generation. I've talked about this in other posts, but for a refresher I'll briefly reiterate.

Views change from one generation to the next. What doesn't work for one generation my simply be taken for granted by the next. it's progressionism. People first reject, then regard suspiciously, then finally accept a new ideal. This continually happens in a cycle. Some ideals are more steep than others, but it's all about perspective. Someone who is 50 may have a quite different perspective on what is morally acceptable than say, a 20 year old. The older the person, the harder time he or she has accepting new ideals. Of course this also varies from person to person, but there is still a need to establish a vague baseline based on the moral MAJORITY. if 7 out of 10 people reject abortion, then the baseline is obvious. However if you were break it down demographically by age group, I'm sure you'd find that 10/10 40+ find it unacceptable, while only 3/10 under 40 find it unacceptable(note that these are estimations, not fact, as they suit my explanation). So basically it comes down to one word: persepctive. That is what is the baseline for morality. You can take any new controversial subject(homosexuality, cloning, abortion, etc) and break it down by age group, and allowing for variances, you'll find without exception that it flows with the beliefs of each generation and thier acceptance of that particular ideal.
 
  • #21
rocket art
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Here's a one paragraph response. A wholistic perspective of morality, not a biased perspective of it. Problems occur because of the latter.
 
  • #22
Another God
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Moral Imperative states simply that it is morally wrong to turn a blind eye to a moral injustice that is being comitted in front of you and that you have the power to stop.
I always encounter this problem when discussing morality: People are asking to define what being moral is and how to act moral, and whether we should have a common morality or whatever, and for some reason, always, somewhere within an explanation somewhere, someone slips the term morality in, and still doesn't explain what it means or what it covers.

It's easy to say that one shouldn't turn a blind eye to a moral injustice....but what is a moral injustice????


i want court decisions, movements, precedents of any kind, the integration of the internet and its implications... that type of stuff...
I think morality is improving in a sloppy evolutionary style way. Why? Because our societies are integrating over time, and the global community is forming (messily, yes. WIth spillt blood, yes...but it is happening), and morality only makes sense in the eyes of a community.



Thought for the day: If you are the last person left on earth: What is morality to you? What is right, and what is wrong?
 
  • #23
Originally posted by rocket art
Here's a one paragraph response. A wholistic perspective of morality, not a biased perspective of it. Problems occur because of the latter.
This isn't much of an answer, is it? Can you give us more?
 
  • #24
pace
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Quoting Lars Fr. H. Svendsen, professor in philosophy at Bergen:

God is dead, morality is left to us.
 
  • #25
Originally posted by pace
Quoting Lars Fr. H. Svendsen, professor in philosophy at Bergen:

God is dead, morality is left to us.

If so, can you tell us what you think we should be striving for?
 
  • #26
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Another God
It's easy to say that one shouldn't turn a blind eye to a moral injustice....but what is a moral injustice????...I think morality is improving in a sloppy evolutionary style way. Why? Because our societies are integrating over time, and the global community is forming (messily, yes. WIth spillt blood, yes...but it is happening), and morality only makes sense in the eyes of a community.
I would agree with your objection and Zero, maybe this will help with your objections. I did say that absolute morality is tough to nail down. So the things that are gray and still debateable are where it gets tough. If something isn't figured out yet, that does NOT mean it is "in the eye of the beholder." Just like with science you are not free to fill in the holes however you see fit.

Though it may seem like the morality level of our society is slipping (and in some areas it ceratinly is), there are clear improvements that have come about in the moral structure of both the US and the western world as a whole. Ending of slavery, end of the age of empires, woman's suffrage, labor laws, international organizations, international aid, etc.
Moral absolutism, at least how I see it practiced, also leaves little 'wiggle room' for judgment calls.
Thats key, Zero: How it is practiced. As with many things, if applied incorrectly it breaks down. Many people try to drop the hammer on things that aren't quite as clear as they want them to be. For the gray areas, until we have them figured out it is necessary to leave some room for judgement calls. But that doesn't make morality relative. Just like with a scientific theory we accept the known limitations for the time being while we try to find something better.
Smart people are the most easily fooled (and brainwashed).
I think you have it exactly backwards: if someone is easily brainwashed, they aren't very smart. Being able to objectively evaluate information is a key component of intelligence.
I would say that the purpose of an organization like the UN is more about setting and defending very broad absolutes, that nearly everyone agrees on.
I agree, but it seems to me that the UN doesn't work that way. The UN is as political as political organizations get and politics often does not follow a moral code. [/understatement]
I would say that some good Socialist/Communist philosophy would fit in here nicely, don't you?
I discussed utilitarianism a little bit. Socialism/communism is almost completely a utilitarian theory.
Oh, and can I ask if you can see the moral relativism in the views you hold?
No. But I'm sure you'll point some out to me. I have stated repeatedly and emphatically that I am not perfect.
 
  • #27
Another God
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Originally posted by russ_watters
Though it may seem like the morality level of our society is slipping (and in some areas it ceratinly is), there are clear improvements that have come about in the moral structure of both the US and the western world as a whole. Ending of slavery, end of the age of empires, woman's suffrage, labor laws, international organizations, international aid, etc.
I don't understand on what grounds one could claim morality is slipping.

In fact, I think the more realistic claim is : Morality is improving, becuase we are becoming more critical of every move anyone makes.

In which case, its not that more bad things are being done, but rather, more things are being labeled bad, and so it seems like more bad things are happening.
Or maybe more accurately, the bad things are more visible. TV, Internet etc allows us to see all of the bad things we do. We never had this before.
 
  • #28
If something isn't figured out yet, that does NOT mean it is "in the eye of the beholder." Just like with science you are not free to fill in the holes however you see fit.

I agree with this statement completely, but I also am emphatically against moral absolutism (at least how it is generally practiced. Nothing is absolutely wrong. That is, there are actions that are definitely wrong, but this comes from those actions' relations to other actions, not from inherent qualities of those actions (bad wording but I don't know how to fix it).

I discussed utilitarianism a little bit. Socialism/communism is almost completely a utilitarian theory.

Errr.... Well, actually, communism is not close to utilitarianism. Now, most utilitarianism I disagree with, but many who have been influenced by this thought have given and do give interesting perspectives. Don't play into the conservative stereoptype of seeing everything as back and white, as dubbing any social policy aimed at redistribution as "commie-pinko ****".
 
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  • #29
I think there is a single moral absolute: Do not cause other people unnecessary harm.

Unforutnately, try pinning down the definitions of 'unnecessary' and 'harm'!
 
  • #30
Another God
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Originally posted by RageSk8
I agree with this statement completely, but I also am emphatically against moral absolutism (at least how it is generally practiced. Nothing is absolutely wrong. That is, there are actions that are definitely wrong, but this comes from those actions' relations to other actions, not from inherent qualities of those actions (bad wording but I don't know how to fix it).
I agree with this statement completely. And I think you said it fine. In my mind, right and wrong is determined by the situation with all factors in consideration.
 
  • #31
And, I'll be honest, my gut reaction is to distrust anyone who claims that there is only a single correct course of action, and all others are wrong. I am much more receptive to the idea of 'there are many choices, and this one is the best we can do.'
 
  • #32
Another God
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Originally posted by Zero
I think there is a single moral absolute: Do not cause other people unnecessary harm.

Unforutnately, try pinning down the definitions of 'unnecessary' and 'harm'!
Just to be somewhat antagonistic I would say it is more accurately

"Do not cause another thing which may assist you in some way unecessary harm beyond the extent to which it will impact its willingness/ability to help you"

Because we cause harm to everything all the time. It's pretty much an essentially thing for life. It's only the things which we percieve as potentially being useful for us later that we try to help/save/not destroy.

For instance, the US was friendly with Saddam when they thought he was useful. As soon as it seemed he was never going to help the US again... BOOM
 
  • #33
russ_watters
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Originally posted by RageSk8
Nothing is absolutely wrong. That is, there are actions that are definitely wrong, but this comes from those actions' relations to other actions, not from inherent qualities of those actions (bad wording but I don't know how to fix it).
Yeah... you're gonna need to try to fix it because that is an oxymoron. Paraphrase:

Nothing is absolutely wrong.
Some things are absolutely wrong.

To me this is actually indicative of the common view: When examined closely I think most people's views of morality are self-contradictory. Part of the problem is that its uncomfortable to think there is an absolute morality. And yet, most people in the US are Christians. You can't get any more absolute than ten commandments handed down by God (though as I have stated you can reach the same conclusions without God).

I asked this question in the other thread: Have you guys ever taken an ethics course? I took "engineering ethics" but thats not what I mean. Thats a course that focuses on specific case studies. I mean a course simply titled "Ethics" that discusses the various theories and history of ethics, similar to the way a political science class discusses the major theories and history of their development. It was required where I went, but from what I've seen very few other schools require it. Its strange to me because its so important yet people never study it. We leave it up to people to figure out for themselves - which is why most people just get it from their religion. Morality needs to be taught in school.
I think there is a single moral absolute: Do not cause other people unnecessary harm.
Not a bad start, Zero. And I think you realize how vast that concept can really be (as indicated by your next sentence). The bulk of morality is based on that single universal law.
I agree with this statement completely. And I think you said it fine. In my mind, right and wrong is determined by the situation with all factors in consideration.
Just like physics, right? So why does that preclude universal laws?

Also, I think Zero said it just fine. AG, the word "unnecessary" covers your objection.

I think maybe you guys are misunderstanding what "universal law" implies. A universal law is general, not specific. Its the CRITERIA for making the decision, not the decision itself.

I'm sure you guys know that the complexity of the equations makes it pretty much impossible to get an exact solution for the behavior of more than one electron orbit at a time. Complex ethical situations are the same way: the laws are still there and they still work, but the situation is so complex it can only be approximated. That does NOT mean our theories on electron orbits are wrong (or that there are no rules governing the motion of electrons), the just don't give quite so exact solutions in complex situations.
 
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  • #34
The problem with absolutes is not the absolute itself. It is how people choose to use them in their own special moral relativism. For instance, people spout the absolute 'thou shall not kill', then support war, the death penalty, etc.
 
  • #35
maximus
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Originally posted by russ_watters
Nothing is absolutely wrong.
Some things are absolutely wrong.

i believe there is an error in this logic. the logical implication would be more like:

Nothing is absolutely wrong.
Some things are absolutely right (or NOT WRONG).

which follows the formula:
Not A is B
A is not B

an example:
NO candy (A) is sweet (B).
Sweetness (B) is not in candy (A). (well, you get what i'm saying)
 

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