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Author Topic:   Moral Absolutism v Relativism (and laws)
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 16 of 44 (362466)
11-07-2006 4:43 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by arachnophilia
11-07-2006 12:41 AM


Re: diablo advocati
Sorry for taking so long. I keep waiting until I have enough time to write a decent reply, only to get interrupted. I'm going to break the reply up into chunks, rather than go line by line. That way I can keep it organized.

1) Morality...

morality is not an external system; it is an internal one. law is the external system. you are confusing morality with religious dogma and rules such as found in the books...

I probably should have been more clear in what I meant by external. By that I meant that it is a system with some meaning/justification/existence beyond the individual. When one says X is morally wrong, it is not to say "because I think so". Even if that is really what is at heart the person in summoning "morality" is attempting to appeal to something grander, something besides themself.

I agree that law is an inherently external system.

"unjust" is a moral notion. "greed," at the expense of another, is a moral notion. that you are calling these actions either of these two things is a demonstration of morality. without morality, neither of these two things are applicable or descernable in any manner.

I see why you would say that, but it is not necessarily so. The morality we are discussing, the one most people think of with that term, involves a judgement of right/wrong. You are correct that through that filter things like "greed" are "wrong". Greed then is a moral term with a loaded judgement attached.

There is another way of approaching morality, and it is so different from the modern western concept (post monotheist influence) that it would be considered amoral. This part of my post to NJ was involving/elucidating that kind of system when applied to a concrete situation.

To that system good/bad or right/wrong simply don't exist and so cannot be attached to the terms seen above. They are not seen as connoting something positive or negative by themselves. Greed can actually be quite a positive characteristic, and it is only because of biases that it is thought inherently negative.

In the above example the terms are simply definitional, as the system is. Greed is the opposite quality from Generous, but neither are superior to each other. After all in some situations, or for some people, greed can be quite useful and lead to respect. On the flipside generosity can be useless and even debilitating.

"At the expense of another" is something else. Greed does not become "worse" when it involves an action which deprives another, though it may help delineate the degree of greed a person might have from me (if I would not).

Actually this is somewhat simplified as any action often involves tradeoffs between values. For example I might be just as greedy as the people who robbed the dying man, but feel that taking something from someone who cannot fight back is cowardly. Thus my greed is not so great to overcome my sense of bravery, where there's would.

I hope this make sense and can help guide future discussion.

2) Morality v Law...

i contend that law in general must be based on morality. consideration of the other is the fundamental precept of what we tend to define as morality... western morality is, by definition, relative because it considers the other.

1) Consideration of the other is not relative, or a "relativist" moral code. "Do unto others" produces effects which are not of a uniform nature, flexible according to differences between individuals, but unless one accepts that others will not follow that concept, it is not relativist. It is inconsistent with systems that demand compliance regardless of what you would want, or others might want.

2) Western law does is not based on "consider others". It is based on protecting one's own rights from the interference of others. Outside of behaviors that directly inhibit someone from doing what they want, one is free to do many things that others may not want.

3) Even if western law is based primarily on morals, that would not argue that law must inherently be based on morals. I have not said that they cannot or all laws in the US have not been, just that a system of laws can be created based on nonmoral principles.

no, they need not be, and often aren't. for instance, bans on gay marriage are highly immoral, because they fail to consider the other, and enforce one particular view point.

That first sentence supports my position and is contradictory to the position that in general laws must be based on morality. I'd point out that for some, gay marriage bans would be considered quite moral. Gays in that case not considering the effect they will have on others.

This may go toward a problem with "consider the other" morality and law. What is done with a heterogenous culture? Which group becomes the "other" we must consider?

law itself is rooted in morality, but there are often very bad laws, and immoral legislators. i believe i mentioned another example above -- just because our notion of law is neccessarily rooted in our notion of morality does not mean that every individual law must be moral.

Okay, how does one determine whether a system is rooted in morality, with some immoral laws, or simply not rooted in morality? I mean I see your point how it could happen, but it could just as easily be viewed the other way.

I might add none of this argues that a system of laws could not be created without appeal to morals.

what about other cultures, outside of our western or modern concept of morality? another culture's morality may be different, and their laws tend to be different as a result.

It should be noted that I was arguing against NJ who was maintaining that legal systems were not only based on morality but revealed a consistent moral belief. The above supports my point that foreign systems do not reveal such consistency.

That said, you have an interesting point in an argument that laws are related to morals, but not necessarily conclusive. These different countries also have different languages, clothes, food, and ways of interacting (outside of moral expectations). Asserting that the different laws are based on their differing morals is simply an assumption. They may just be different like everything else.

For example people could choose a benign philosopher King to follow, with all decisions related to laws routed through him, while morals left up to priests with no similarity to laws of the King.

you are attempting to justify moral relativity with moral relativity. poor form. and while these are certainly complicating factors, they do not change the fundamental immorality of the situation, nor the fundamental illegality of the situation. theft is illegal because it deprives another person of property -- that this is "wrong" is a moral notion.

Actually in that case I wasn't trying to justify relativity with relativity. I was trying to show that moral codes themselves (absolute or relative) fall apart on close inspection. It was part of examining how a descriptive system handles such a situation.

I would argue that there is no fundamental immorality, as it will end up being decided based on its details and not its surficial qualities.

You are right that the legality would not change, except as laws themselves change. This is one reason why laws =/= morals. There are certainly situations that people would find morally right yet know are illegal, and wrong but legal.

why is such an action criminal? assuming, using your below rationalizations, that both actions are entirely morally justified for the offenders. the shooter had a good moral reason, and the robbers had good moral reasons. why is the person behind the gun punished?

Murder is illegal regardless of its moral justification in our system, based on rights. I don't like pain, I don't want to die, so I take for myself the right to live (and not have that interfered with). Those joining me in that system (or working for it) will protect that right. Those that interfere with that right are doing something illegal.

3) Bible and relativism...
This one wasn't so serious so I am willing to let it fall aside to concentrate on the other issues.

the torah specifically lays out several hundred laws as supposedly given straight from the mouth of god.

Yes a system of laws. There is no question that laws were set by God. That's why I said at the end of that quote that the Bible may not be nonabsolutist, but that humans have no access to what the absolute morality is. That is the realm of God.

Remember the guy having to sacrifice his son? Or even Job? There is a repetition of people being shown that they must simply obey and moral questions of events and activities left to God.

more likely, the tree was symbolic of self-awareness, concious thought. adam just does what god tells him, eve just does what the serpent tells her. it's not until they eat of the tree that they're even aware of who they are.

Well that is a plausible interpretation. I don't see how it invalidates the one I put forward. I would have to say yours doesn't seem consistent with verbiage in genesis.

Perhaps a hebrew scholar (maybe you do know) what was said of the tree of knowledge. In all Bibles I have seen it was called the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Further Adam was not simply a robot, and was allowed to name the animals as he pleased. And before the fall the bible states...

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

The serpent enters and says...

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Note: I accidentally attributed that line to God. In any case once they do...

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

That seems pretty suggestive that the tree was about judgement of good and evil and they suddenly judged their state of dress... not simply fear that they disobeyed god. And it goes on.

3:9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

I think my interpretation is a bit more direct and consistent.

he spends a good deal of time railing against people who follow the law but miss the moral. jesus is also normally associated with the position that god makes the law, and it is not our moral right to condemn other for breaking it, because we break it ourselves. only god has that right.

I agree that he puts forward the golden rule type moral system. According to your own argument earlier that was relative, rather than absolutist. While I disagree, arguing it is fluid and nonuniform rather than relative, the effect is the same with regard to human access to morality.

Whew. Anyway, nice post el diablo.


holmes
"What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away." (D.Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by arachnophilia, posted 11-07-2006 12:41 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by arachnophilia, posted 11-08-2006 4:03 AM Silent H has responded

    
Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 17 of 44 (362486)
11-07-2006 6:18 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Hyroglyphx
11-07-2006 12:34 PM


The fact that there is a huge chart at the ice cream store with a variety of flavors to choose from is enough to support that it bears no reflection towards any kind of morality.

Not sure why chiro thought he would muddy the waters by answering this. His answer would have been mine. You have not fully answered his challenge and I'll watch you two duke it out unless I need to say anything more.

1. How can anyone tell the truth, if truth is not a concrete concept?
2. How can honesty have any meaning when we disagree on what is meaningful?
3. How is that people gravitate towards honesty as being virtuous, and have an aversion towards people who lie in a world of relativity?

Just to let you know, you missed the point of #2 which was to discuss individual habit as opposed to morality. To answer the above...

If a statement is intentionally factually correct then it is truth. That is definitional. Honesty is the activity of telling the truth. That is also definitional.

I imagine people tend to prefer having proper information so they can make useful decisions and so want others to be honest in general. There may be other reasons though I suppose. Feeling betrayed if the liar is close and trusted? This is not definitional but not effected by relativity.

Then I could rightly describe you as amoral. Some people have objections to the terminology. They feel stigmatized by it.

I have no objection to amoral and it tends to be easier than explaining what I actually am. If a person intentionally uses it to mean something like unfeeling or sociopathic, then I'd object.

Laws clearly stem from a moral framework, especially the biggies, IMO. But one has to ask the question how you can even come a determination about what constitutes a 'biggie' if you don't have a moral framework in mind.

IMO laws must not inherently stem from morals. That is what this debate is about. As far as how I can understand what "the biggies" are, I can understand what other people discuss and believe without having to believe it myself.

I will admit I find them to be the more common as they tend to be the most easily agreed upon. My thought of why this is the case is that most people don't want to be killed, raped, and stolen from. Again those can be derived from concepts of self-preservation or selfishness.

Now, what other argument can this woman make?

Your incredulity does not prove anything. One example has already been given. Perhaps killing the guy wouldn't be worth the shit he'd have to go through afterward. To answer why it is illegal, that's because the person has a right to live. The same right the outraged driver has. Would he want to be killed if he cut someone off?

Why else do they hide their crimes? You might say that because they don't want to go to jail, which will only bring you full circle. Why do people go to prison for that? Answer: Because its wrong.

I answered the question and gave you a counterexample. This does not deal with either. Xianity itself could at some points in time send you to prison. Why? Because it's wrong?

Try again: People hide crimes because they know the repercussions whether they agree with the laws or not. Xians did this. The founding fathers of the US did this. I do not believe they hid their actions because they believed the actions WERE wrong. They felt okay with what they were doing.

Couldn't someone make the argument, "Well, he was dying. The pizza shop owners were not EMT's. They couldn't save him. He was gonna die. Dead people don't need money, but living people do."

Yes they could. Some would find that just fine. For me, my first thought on seeing someone in trouble is that I would like to help them if I can. I don't believe I could think through the shock of seeing someone in pain and realize this was a chance to make some money. That's my nature.

And I can almost guarantee as time goes by, I will catch you using the very terms and concepts you seem to be fighting against.

You may see me use the terms right and wrong. You may also see me say God and Jesus Christ. That does not mean I believe in them. Having been raised in a culture where right and wrong is used all the time it is hard to drop using such things.

The point would be that all I really mean (if I used such terms) is I don't like it or I like it. If someone asked me why it was right or wrong, I would have no accurate thing to say but that.

By the way, I am quite certain I will see you shift on a moral point, and I am certain that if you disagree with a law you will attempt to hide that you did it (so I won't see it).

The universal law is, "Thou shalt not murder." And murder is the unjust, intentional act to kill someone.

Then how do you explain the ability of whites to kill slaves at will, as well as feudal japan which allowed samurai to kill most of the rest of society (and pretty much each other) at will?

I wager that you will find yourself inescapably coming back to your own sense of morality

And that would be what exactly? I will do what I normally do. There are things that are considered moral by others and things that are not. I do not feel an ounce of guilt when I do the things that are not. And I am offended by some behavior of others that is considered morally right.

The most you are going to come up with is that I am not chaotic in behavior and tend to act consistently across time. Oh yes and that I have feelings.

Yes I can feel guilty, Yes I do not like some things. They have no grandiose connection. What happens if I say something like: Taking your kids to church is wrong. I really feel like your God is immoral and wrong. Am I connected to some absolute?

But once beguiled and ate of the tree, they were aware of the things that you and I are aware of. That evil exists, and going against these laws is like battling a strong current.

I'm sorry, that evil exists? God made them naked. They became offended by their nakedness and created clothes. God asked how they could have known they were naked. What evil did they discover?

By the way I am not aware of any evil except as a generic term for things that people don't like, or are generally causing problems.

The entire premise of Ecclesiastes, once you sift through the depressing dialogue, is that all is meaningless without the context of God.

Well I certainly agree that he extolls God, but I wasn't addressing that. Part of the dialogue is him expressing how little we can know. We must trust in God because we cannot know anything for real.


holmes
"What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away." (D.Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-07-2006 12:34 PM Hyroglyphx has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-08-2006 1:27 PM Silent H has responded

    
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 57 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 18 of 44 (362553)
11-08-2006 4:03 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by Silent H
11-07-2006 4:43 PM


Re: diablo advocati
I probably should have been more clear in what I meant by external. By that I meant that it is a system with some meaning/justification/existence beyond the individual. When one says X is morally wrong, it is not to say "because I think so". Even if that is really what is at heart the person in summoning "morality" is attempting to appeal to something grander, something besides themself.

generally, but that's not actually morality. it may be a gross, seemingly external, and even undefined system for the person expressing the belief, but morality is a quality that (nearly) everyone holds, and is an innate (and in reality, internal) part of the human psyche. it may differ wildly from person to person, but i think you will find my definition more closely related to pack animal behaviour and instinct than a book.

I agree that law is an inherently external system.

law is, yes. but the fact that we have law, or have need for laws is evidence itself of morality. what's wrong with total anarchy? generally, it's bad for the species. our consideration for others, in whatever degree it exists, exists to help ensure the continuation of our species. it is an evolutionary adaptation.

it's not universal, or external, or objective.

I see why you would say that, but it is not necessarily so. The morality we are discussing, the one most people think of with that term, involves a judgement of right/wrong. You are correct that through that filter things like "greed" are "wrong". Greed then is a moral term with a loaded judgement attached.

labelling them at all is a moral call. who's to stay that taking possessions, rights, or even life from another is at all out of the ordinary, noticeable, or cause for any sort of concern? certainly, i think you will find a lot of animals do not opperate with these precepts. primates (like us) tend to.

"right" and "wrong" are often justified with an external source, but the decisions usually have little to do with that source itself, and more to do with the subconcious. you might argue that this is partly cultural -- it certainly is -- and that such a source might even have something to do with the cultural background. but i think you fill find, more often than not, "right" and "wrong" are the justifactions themselves, masking much deeper emotional responses that are simply hard to describe.

ask a person why something is wrong, and chances are they can't tell you. unless they're a fundamentalist. but fundies are a "special" case.

To that system good/bad or right/wrong simply don't exist and so cannot be attached to the terms seen above. They are not seen as connoting something positive or negative by themselves. Greed can actually be quite a positive characteristic, and it is only because of biases that it is thought inherently negative.

yes, that bias is morality. and yes, it is a cultural thing. morality cannot be objective.

In the above example the terms are simply definitional, as the system is. Greed is the opposite quality from Generous, but neither are superior to each other. After all in some situations, or for some people, greed can be quite useful and lead to respect. On the flipside generosity can be useless and even debilitating.

on a biological level, it's a question niches and selection. it's similar on a cultural level. we accept greed as "bad" because in most situations it fails to benefit the society, and generosity as "good" because it does. it's not easily defineable as "always bad" or "always good" and we often run into moral conflicts. does the end justify the means? but the question of which greed is "good" is also an issue of morality. we, for instance, totally accept private property in almost every culture. but this is really a form of greed, isn't it?

"At the expense of another" is something else. Greed does not become "worse" when it involves an action which deprives another, though it may help delineate the degree of greed a person might have from me (if I would not).

the simplest statement of morality is in terms of inter-personal relationships. it's not that greed becomes worse when it deprives another person, it's that greed connected with action always deprives another person, by definition. by taking for ourselves, there is less to go around. it becomes "worse" when the degree of deprivation becomes increasingly petty, or increasingly direct, or increasingly obvious -- outright theft.

Actually this is somewhat simplified as any action often involves tradeoffs between values. For example I might be just as greedy as the people who robbed the dying man, but feel that taking something from someone who cannot fight back is cowardly. Thus my greed is not so great to overcome my sense of bravery, where there's would.

that is a moral call. really, if the man is lying there dead, he clearly does not need physical possessions any longer. it's arguable that he does when he's alive. considering outright theft as cowardly is the same as saying "wrong" with a more ambiguous justification. what's wrong with being cowardly?

1) Consideration of the other is not relative, or a "relativist" moral code. "Do unto others" produces effects which are not of a uniform nature, flexible according to differences between individuals,

flexible, not uniform, but not relative? i believe you'll find that the primary motivation behind cultural and moral relativism is consideration of the other culture or moral system. after all, what is wrong with forcing our values on other cultures?

but unless one accepts that others will not follow that concept, it is not relativist.

yes, this objection is equally as valid for the moral relativist types (see postmodern feminism). our moral relativism is a moral position, and part of our bias -- bias that other cultures and moral systems should be considered. why should we? it sounds like "screw muslims" fundie argument, i know, but if we are arguing for moral relativism, and that nothing is inherently wrong, what keeps us from obliterating any group we dislike from the face of the earth? why would doing so be wrong?

the problem is that "there are no absolutes" is an absolute statement. there is no logical defense of this position.

2) Western law does is not based on "consider others". It is based on protecting one's own rights from the interference of others. Outside of behaviors that directly inhibit someone from doing what they want, one is free to do many things that others may not want.

nasty brutish and short? the issue is that in creating a system for govern and protect ourselves and our property/rights from others, we are also extending that same protection to others as well. contrast this to earlier western legal systems that were designed to protect the rights of only one person. these systems tend to fail, and that is because others simply must be considered in some degree. if they are not, they tend to revolt.

hobbes -> locke.

3) Even if western law is based primarily on morals, that would not argue that law must inherently be based on morals. I have not said that they cannot or all laws in the US have not been, just that a system of laws can be created based on nonmoral principles.

see above. systems that are not fail, and inherently must be replaced with systems that better protect the rights of larger portions of the population.

That first sentence supports my position and is contradictory to the position that in general laws must be based on morality.

i am speaking of the foundation and rule of law, not individual laws. and similar to what i stated above, individual laws that fail to consider others to a large enough degree are bound for disaster. the question of degree varies.

I'd point out that for some, gay marriage bans would be considered quite moral. Gays in that case not considering the effect they will have on others.

it may actually turn out that homosexuality is bad for the species -- many people who object to it are voicing disgust they cannot explain, or rationalize, just feeblely support with religious dogma. we've had members here attempt to explain such positions before. the issue of "good for humanity" is indeed a moral one, and these laws are based on the underlying morality of the culture.

Okay, how does one determine whether a system is rooted in morality, with some immoral laws, or simply not rooted in morality? I mean I see your point how it could happen, but it could just as easily be viewed the other way.

i don't believe a system can be anything but rooted in morality.

I might add none of this argues that a system of laws could not be created without appeal to morals.

describe such a system or culture that has laws, but no morals. make this one a separate post, and we'll continue that there.

It should be noted that I was arguing against NJ who was maintaining that legal systems were not only based on morality but revealed a consistent moral belief. The above supports my point that foreign systems do not reveal such consistency.

consistent? no, especially not between cultures. there are lots of commonalities in most every culture, but that does not demonstrate objectivity. but i do not hold that morality can be objective. law is objective, morality is subjective. as far as consistent within the culture, no, but it does demonstrate a certain level of commonly shared values of the culture, which is often subject to change in time, region, etc.

That said, you have an interesting point in an argument that laws are related to morals, but not necessarily conclusive. These different countries also have different languages, clothes, food, and ways of interacting (outside of moral expectations). Asserting that the different laws are based on their differing morals is simply an assumption. They may just be different like everything else.

i tried to restrict my initial point to modern western law, for a reason. there is a tendency to develop legal and governing systems based on the kind of morality i meant in specific (consideration of others), because it is the natural progression from systems that do not work as well, based on property, or divine right.

but really, in a broader sense, those other systems are simply based on that culture's morality. who says that needing to consider another is moral? perhaps the morality dictates something else.

For example people could choose a benign philosopher King to follow, with all decisions related to laws routed through him, while morals left up to priests with no similarity to laws of the King.

that people choose this is evidence of social contract theory. social contracts are enacted to protect rights, which is inextricably linked to consideration of others. people choose the benign king because he protects the rights and property of the individuals doing the choosing, and thus the majority of others as well. and supposing the king was not benign, it might just be that "evils" he commits are culturally acceptable, not greivances -- dictated by local cultural morality as not wrong, or at least not wrong enough to matter. if they are, the king will undoubtedly be overthrown.

you are still confusing morality with legal codes of conduct, as drafted by religious officials.

You are right that the legality would not change, except as laws themselves change. This is one reason why laws =/= morals. There are certainly situations that people would find morally right yet know are illegal, and wrong but legal.

yes, but in the general sense legality and morality tend not to be unrelated. things we make illegal are often things we find morally wrong, in the broad sensen, even if not every specific case lines up. i'm not arguing for a simplistic view point, just a generalized one. exceptions are a fact of reality.

Murder is illegal regardless of its moral justification in our system, based on rights.

our government regularly terminates people as punishment, and is currently engaged in a war where hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. these actions are legal. they are legal because we generally do not find them morally objectionable -- people trying to deprive us of our right to live abdicate theirs.

and "based on rights" should be a hint. rights in this country are based on natural rights -- a moral concept.

Well that is a plausible interpretation. I don't see how it invalidates the one I put forward. I would have to say yours doesn't seem consistent with verbiage in genesis.

Perhaps a hebrew scholar (maybe you do know) what was said of the tree of knowledge. In all Bibles I have seen it was called the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

generally, it tends to be described in jewish circles as pertaining to awareness, not judgement. the emphasis is not on "good and evil" (and certainly not "good FROM evil") but on "knowledge." many jewish interpretations i've read say that adam and eve did not have free will before this point, so it's actually more of a tree of concious thought than judgement.

similarly, "knowledge" is a common biblical euphemism for sexual intercourse. that explains the shame as much anything else.

Further Adam was not simply a robot, and was allowed to name the animals as he pleased.

not simply a robot, no, but not self-aware in the same sense human beings are today. the story, fundamentally, is about the coming of age of mankind. it explains agriculture, patriarchal society, fear of snakes, clothing, suffering, etc -- all as a result of (stolen) awareness.

Note: I accidentally attributed that line to God. In any case once they do...

god has a similar line at the end of the chapter. i've never understood how fundies say the serpent lied when god uses the same exact phrases the serpent does to confirm the serpent's prediction.

That seems pretty suggestive that the tree was about judgement of good and evil and they suddenly judged their state of dress... not simply fear that they disobeyed god. And it goes on.

clearly, adam and eve are not good judges of good and evil. the story has eve eat of the tree first, at the serpent's suggestion. that she doesn't know better is execusable -- afterall, she can't judge good and evil, can she? but she then gives adam some too, afterwards. if she can judge good and evil, she hasn't done a good job of it. similarly, when god questions adam about his reasoning, he blames god for placing the woman there for him. also, not good judgement.

either they judge correctly, and god is evil (and they are not like god in their judgement, but better), or they judge incorrectly (and are not like god in their judgement, but inferior). either way, their judgement does not seem compatible with god's, as they come to very different conclusions about what is right and what is wrong. in that respect, they take more cues from the serpent.

i think it's safe to say the author meant "knowledge" and not "judgement" as man's judgement is continually shown to be faulty throughout the rest of the text.


אָרַח

This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Silent H, posted 11-07-2006 4:43 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by Silent H, posted 11-09-2006 10:48 AM arachnophilia has responded

  
Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5622
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006


Message 19 of 44 (362641)
11-08-2006 1:27 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by Silent H
11-07-2006 6:18 PM


Circular logic
Just to let you know, you missed the point of #2 which was to discuss individual habit as opposed to morality.

Ah, thanks for the clarification. I apologize for not answering it as appropriately as I could have.

If a statement is intentionally factually correct then it is truth. That is definitional. Honesty is the activity of telling the truth. That is also definitional.

You're still not understanding why this is circular logic, or if you do know, you are intentionally treading lightly. Like mathematics, for anything to be true, there must first exist some absolute standard or criterion, otherwise it loses all meaning. For instance, if relativity is certainly true, then 2 + 2 could = 21 for you, and we'd all have nothing to say against it, because that's what is true for you. We would be in an indefensible position because we could both be right. Everyone could be right. 2 + 2 could = giraffe, and we really couldn't have an argument. But that isn't truth. In order for someone to define what is factual, certain rules must have been established prior to receiving the answer.

What, then, is truth in a world of relativity? It makes no sense without some established rules. Imagine how the architect would design a house with relativity. It would not work. And if did, it would be by pure chance. How can you tell the truth and not have absolutes?

I imagine people tend to prefer having proper information so they can make useful decisions and so want others to be honest in general. There may be other reasons though I suppose. Feeling betrayed if the liar is close and trusted? This is not definitional but not effected by relativity.

It is effected. How can you be betrayed if there is nothing wrong with betrayal to begin with? If there is nothing 'wrong' then betrayal loses its meaning. Its just noise that came out of your mouth. How can you be lied to when truth is just some abstract concept with no concrete rules? This is why moral relativism doesn't work, either practically or philosophically. It eventually will cancel itself out.

I will admit I find them to be the more common as they tend to be the most easily agreed upon. My thought of why this is the case is that most people don't want to be killed, raped, and stolen from. Again those can be derived from concepts of self-preservation or selfishness.

That explains nothing, especially not why it is so universally understood. Not wanting to have your property stolen has two stipulations attached to it. 1. You need to have a sense of propriety. 2. That propriety has to be shared by everyone in the group. If one person decides not to play by your rules, what are you going to say in order to defend your property? "Hey, in my respectful, completely non-judgmental opinion of you and your cultural uniqueness, perhaps you should not take my property, not that "my" property is greater than yours, its just that, um, well, I really like that piece of property. I'm not saying that you are 'wrong' for taking it. There is no such thing as wrong, its just that I think maybe we should respect each others property.".... And that's where he cuts you off and simply says, "Piss off. This is mine." What are you going to say to that?

Your incredulity does not prove anything.

Forget the incredulity of it, look at from a statistical point-of-view. There must be a laudable reason for such a high consensus of propriety. And no one has offered any reasons for that other than some implausible ad hoc solution

To answer why it is illegal, that's because the person has a right to live.

You keep coming full circle here, Holmes. What do 'rights' mean if not by some absolute standard?

I answered the question and gave you a counterexample. This does not deal with either. Xianity itself could at some points in time send you to prison. Why? Because it's wrong?

Xianity is a large set of beliefs. One set pertains to them believing that morals are absolute. Christians offer an explanation for their beliefs are compatible with those absolute laws, but that is really a side issue. Those are just examples.

quote:
Couldn't someone make the argument, "Well, he was dying. The pizza shop owners were not EMT's. They couldn't save him. He was gonna die. Dead people don't need money, but living people do."

Yes they could. Some would find that just fine. For me, my first thought on seeing someone in trouble is that I would like to help them if I can. I don't believe I could think through the shock of seeing someone in pain and realize this was a chance to make some money. That's my nature.

But why is that apart of your nature? I think we have two natures that war with each other when confronted with such a scenario. The first is self-preservation. "Hey, the killer might still be around. If I go help this guy, I could shot too simply by default of being at the wrong place at the wrong time." The second is more virtuous, and may be extemporaneous. "Oh my gosh, that man just got shot. Somebody has to help him! I have to help him because its the right thing to do." Surely there has to be times in your life, Holmes, where you say to yourself, "This guy is in the wrong," or, "I am doing this because it is the right thing to do.

You place alot of stock on survival as being the mechanism of why we do things. But just last week, a Navy Seal pounced on a grenade tossed into an enclosure by insurgents with the sole purpose of saving the rest of the platoon. The man sacrificed his life to save others. Obviously his own self-preservation was overcome by a much more virtuous action. What can you say in defense? You may not even have understanding as to why it is right or wrong. I know I don't. But I don't pretend that it doesn't exist. What do you make of these instances?

quote:
And I can almost guarantee as time goes by, I will catch you using the very terms and concepts you seem to be fighting against.

You may see me use the terms right and wrong. You may also see me say God and Jesus Christ. That does not mean I believe in them. Having been raised in a culture where right and wrong is used all the time it is hard to drop using such things.

You said that what happened to Haggard was, "Ahhhhh, justice." Did you not really believe that it was justice. Humans do not like duplicity because they esteem truth as a virtue. And what happened to Haggard does instill in us all a sense of cosmic justice. By why pretend that it doesn't exist, when we all know it does?

quote:
The universal law is, "Thou shalt not murder." And murder is the unjust, intentional act to kill someone.

Then how do you explain the ability of whites to kill slaves at will, as well as feudal japan which allowed samurai to kill most of the rest of society (and pretty much each other) at will?

I don't believe either of those have a thing to do with absolute morals. In fact, I could make a case against it that it is murder, not that it is justified homicide.

There are things that are considered moral by others and things that are not. I do not feel an ounce of guilt when I do the things that are not. And I am offended by some behavior of others that is considered morally right.

Nor would I expect anyone to feel guilty about something that was not immoral. I would expect them to feel guilty about engaging in things that are immoral.

The most you are going to come up with is that I am not chaotic in behavior and tend to act consistently across time. Oh yes and that I have feelings.

To conclude, I can do nothing that is actually right or wrong, neither can you or anyone, laws bear no reflection to morals but are basically arbitrary, and truth is important, even though its actually not subjective to anything. Is that an accurate description of your stance on this matter?

Yes I can feel guilty, Yes I do not like some things. They have no grandiose connection. What happens if I say something like: Taking your kids to church is wrong. I really feel like your God is immoral and wrong. Am I connected to some absolute?

Relativity exists, Holmes. I have no doubt about this. I'm not even trying to convince you of which faith has the absolute moral code. This argument is simply recognizing that you could not have even come to any decision without first having a moral framework to begin with. We act intuitively with regard to morality, do we not?

If the police came to door right now and imprisoned you for a murder you did not commit, is your 'opinion' on the matter going to mean one whit to someone else who has an equally valid opinion in th opposite direction? What can your defense be? It can't injustice, because justice must first exist in order for there to be an injustice. Since justice doesn't operate in a vacuum, standards must be applied beforehand. Are simply going to say, "I don't like this."? What should that matter another man of relativity? Who cares what you like? All he is concerned about is his own likes and dislikes.

If value is up to you to assign for yourself, then the same would apply to all people. At some point, as is the case here, two views are going to conflict and eventually one system of thought is going to impinge on another's. Naturally, one view will end up being superior to the other, as the one with the power gets to decide your fate, essentially cancelling out your view.

I am not aware of any evil except as a generic term for things that people don't like, or are generally causing problems.

Morals are a generic term for you. So is right and wrong. Presumably, everything is abstract for you. Would you describe yourself as a nihilist?

The entire premise of Ecclesiastes, once you sift through the depressing dialogue, is that all is meaningless without the context of God.

Well I certainly agree that he extolls God, but I wasn't addressing that. Part of the dialogue is him expressing how little we can know. We must trust in God because we cannot know anything for real.


"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." -2nd Corinthians 10:4-5
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19759
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 6.4


Message 20 of 44 (362740)
11-08-2006 9:26 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Silent H
11-06-2006 1:27 PM


golden absolute relative universality
Small side trip. I'll try to keep it brief.

I think we can all argree that

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you

is an example of a moral statement. We see variations on this in almost every known human civilization (it may have existed in more, just not have survived in the records).

We can also agree that it is a relative morality: each person makes their own assesment of how they would like to be treated in applying this specific code.

It is also universally applicable - it applies to everyone - and that does NOT make it an absolute moral code. Universality does not automatically translate into absolute morality.

Person {A} makes a claim that all people should live according to code {X} is making an absolute morality claim - that this particular rule applies to everyone.

That is making a univeral application, but this is NOT the principle of universality.

The principle of universality would mean that ANY Person {B} can make a claim that all people should live according to code {Y}, even if (and especially if) it contradicts person {A} and code {X}, and that both are considered just as legitimate.

Rephrase: the universality principle says that if you claim that rule {X} applies to me, then that means I can claim that rule {Y} applies to you, even if they are contradictory, and that both are considered just as legitimate.

What this demonstrates is that universality invalidates absolute morality claims, because it allows one code to cancel and neutralize another, leaving relative morality.

Enjoy.


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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19759
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 6.4


Message 21 of 44 (362744)
11-08-2006 9:33 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Hyroglyphx
11-08-2006 1:27 PM


so?
This argument is simply recognizing that you could not have even come to any decision without first having a moral framework to begin with. We act intuitively with regard to morality, do we not?

We are social animals, and that determines the basis for our morality.

Intuitivley we act to be social animals interacting with other social animals in relationships within the overal population of social animals.

That is all the framework that is required. All morality involves is the behavior of an individual within a society.

Enjoy.


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Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 22 of 44 (362799)
11-09-2006 5:51 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by berberry
11-07-2006 10:13 AM


Re: Consent
This is sort of a tagteam on me thread with extensive posts. Not that I mind the posts. They all seem pretty cool. Just that it is hard for me to keep up with appropriate level of answers as my time is getting shorter. So I'm sorry to have been delayed in this reply. I will get to all posts (including yours) as I can.

but those are unproductive aberrations; they shouldn't be there. If we did away with drug laws, for instance, we'd be left with individual consent.

That seems to beg the question. Is consent an imperative concept to our laws, and will it always remain that way? You claim these are abberations but such have been found throughout our nation's history and the modern trend is for more.

State parentalism is on the rise and has been ever since the Progressive movement in the late 1800s. It has only strengthened in the wake of feminist and fundamentalist programs over the last 35 years.

Ironically the argument is sometimes posed as "consent" oriented, but what they say is that nonconsent must be assumed, even by those who state openly that they consent.

I suppose maybe there are some things about moral relativism I don't understand.

Moral relativism is a position that there is no absolute right or wrong. In this case the very concept that consent is necessary or "good" is not true.

Contrary to NJs portrayal a relativist may have their own preferences, and may also take part in legal agreements, its just that they recognize there is no profound absolute necessity for any of it. It could be done differently.

That would include marriage. A relativist could easily point to marriages between people who are mentally handicapped within our own society as cases where people that could not possibly give "intelligent or informed consent".

Further, a relativist would move further to point out that arranged marriages exist in many cultures. In this case there is not even consent. Or where there is consent, there could still be pressure, so not exactly freely given consent, or fully informed consent. Are these marriages wrong? Why?

There is of course the difference between moral relativism and legal reality. The relativist would be cognizant of what role consent may play in their own society as well as in the laws within that society. However as NJ does argue (somewhat validly) full relativism embraced within law would have to somehow accept the many different arrangements which are possible. There is of course no reason why the relativist would have to vote for such things, but they would be inconsistent if they said there was some reason beyond their personal prejudice in that matter.

I maintain that the man-marries-dog nonsense is not valid in any light.

Hmmmm, from what I have seen it seems woman-marries-dog would be the more likely scenario. Just to let you know bestiality is not illegal in much of Europe nor even bestial porn. So your concept of what is absurd may be related to consent regarding animals filtered by your own cultural understanding.

I supposed I woud make a similar argument as you do, but from a different angle. People would not need to fight for the right to marry animals because they already have such rights and more without a marriage contract. Animals aren't required to consent to anything even when they go under contract... which can be done of course.

The idea that animals cannot be placed into legal contracts (because they cannot give consent) is itself refuted by the fact that they have already done so for things like starring in commercials/movies/etc.

But why bother with a marriage contract? They are already fully your property, you cannot have children with them, and can give your money away to them (or insure them) just the same. You even have the ability to butcher and eat them, or have them killed when you die just so that they can be near you in death. Once you own a pet, unless you are neglecting or torturing the thing (yet ironically may kill), it is legally identified as belonging to YOU.

Let's say that sodomy laws are still in effect, and someone defends them by saying that once we start letting people have sex with anyone they want, what's to stop them from raping someone? I don't remember anyone making that argument before Lawrence v. Texas but that's probably only because it's so absurd.

Actually I believe Scalia argued something quite similar if not exactly the same. But you are right that an argument we should let anyone have sex with anyone would not inherently allow for rape. The key (to allow for rape) would be a more definitive statement that we allow for people to have sex with others in any WAY that they want, INCLUDING over the desire of another.

As a relativist, I could still say that I want laws which protect my body from attack. And could recognize that in this society, which promotes individualism, not having sexual laws would still not allow for rape. That would take the removal of the right of another, not just a freeing of sexual rights for each.

But as a relativist, I would also have to admit that there is no universal reason this must be so, or that it must or will be maintained. It will as far as personal prejudice remains for that concept.

You also miss the flipside of your argument. Just as much as "consent" is a commonly held concept for contractual or other activity in our society, there are other concepts commonly held within our society.

In truth marriage is widely considered to be between a man and a woman. As much as you might want to argue that it should just be limited to questions of consent, that is to deny your own argument for why consent should be viewed as important (its commonly and strongly held nature).

A person could easily point out that "between members of the opposite sex" is equally important to the legal reality of marriage as "between consenting parties" for the vast majority of the population. If the former is not important, why is the latter?

It is not a few people that have problems with the concept of "gay marriage". That is a wholly new concept of marriage.

Before you reply, please do not bring up anti-miscegenation laws. The supporters of those laws admitted at the time that they were not commonly held concepts regarding marriage, and that they were meant to change the concept of mariage. Their argument was that though new, they were necessary. Theirs was a failed attempt to change the concept of marriage, which if anything parallels the attempt of gay marriage activists (even if running in the opposite direction).

In the course of this reply I hope I have covered why consent is not an absolute.


holmes
"What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away." (D.Bros)
This message is a reply to:
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Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 23 of 44 (362803)
11-09-2006 6:56 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by RAZD
11-08-2006 9:26 PM


Re: golden absolute relative universality
Shit, I was going to finally get to Arach and NJs posts, both deserving posts to be sure, and then I found yours. It is short and well formulated so I sort of feel compelled to answer it first (admittedly "short" might have played a larger part of that compulsion).

I think we can all argree that "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you"
is an example of a moral statement. We see variations on this in almost every known human civilization (it may have existed in more, just not have survived in the records).

I agree that it is a form of moral statement. I am not sure if I would agree that we see variations on this in almost every known human civilization. While I might agree that it is a relative morality, in that its conclusions on actions would be different between people, I would not agree that it is a relativist morality... it is inconsistent with moral relativism. I'm not certain if that was the thrust of your argument or not.

First though, I'll agree with your argument that universality does not mean absolute morality. For the rest...

1) The golden rule conflicts with systems which include castes or other heirarchical delineations. These have existed all over the place, including western cultures. In these systems you by definition do not treat others as you would have them treat you. They are based on the idea that different people deserve different rules of behavior regardless of what the other wants, or how you might want them to treat you (even if theoretically roles should be reversed).

2) Another rule, also a moral statement, could also be considered relative and seen throughout all human civilization: "Do what thou will". It seems to enjoy both universal application and universality.

Not sure what the ramifications of 2 are.


holmes
"What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away." (D.Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by RAZD, posted 11-08-2006 9:26 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

    
Chiroptera
Member (Idle past 15 days)
Posts: 6531
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 24 of 44 (362809)
11-09-2006 7:59 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by Hyroglyphx
11-08-2006 1:27 PM


Re: Circular logic
quote:
Like mathematics, for anything to be true, there must first exist some absolute standard or criterion, otherwise it loses all meaning. For instance, if relativity is certainly true, then 2 + 2 could = 21 for you, and we'd all have nothing to say against it, because that's what is true for you. We would be in an indefensible position because we could both be right. Everyone could be right. 2 + 2 could = giraffe, and we really couldn't have an argument. But that isn't truth. In order for someone to define what is factual, certain rules must have been established prior to receiving the answer.

It could be that I don't understand your analogy, but that may be because you might not understand what mathematics really is. Mathematics is, basically, a set of rules that allow us to transform one set of sentences into another set of sentences. If we arbitrarily say that the first set of sentences are "true" then the we will say that the sentences that we can derive using the mathematical rules are also "true". That these sentences can often be interpreted as representations of the "real world" is interesting, but the fact that so far the representations have always been imperfect (requiring us to continually be searching for more "accurate" theories) indicates to me that this is largely accidental; a Platonist would argue against me on this, but the rules of logic and of mathematics are largely arbitrary, and chosen for their ability to model the real world, but this ability has, so far, been largely imperfect seemingly to indicate that there is no reality to logic or mathematics except in our heads.

This isn't a thread to argue the philosophy of mathematics, but I just felt that if your analogy requires mathematics to have some sort of "objective" truth, then it is going to fail.

Finally, again I may be misreading your point, but even if we were to accept some sort of independent objective reality to mathematics, I don't think that holmes is saying that everything is relative. Perhaps the word "relative" is causing some sort of confusion here. All a moral relativist says is that there is no external, objective standards by which we can measure morality. Morality is, basically, a set of beliefs and emotional responses concerning the actions of people, beliefs and responses that are dependent on the different cultural norms and the different emotional make-up of the individual people.


Kings were put to death long before 21 January 1793. But regicides of earlier times and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king, and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever. -- Albert Camus
This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-08-2006 1:27 PM Hyroglyphx has responded

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Hyroglyphx
Member
Posts: 5622
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006


Message 25 of 44 (362852)
11-09-2006 10:16 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by Chiroptera
11-09-2006 7:59 AM


Re: Circular logic
Mathematics is, basically, a set of rules that allow us to transform one set of sentences into another set of sentences. If we arbitrarily say that the first set of sentences are "true" then the we will say that the sentences that we can derive using the mathematical rules are also "true".

The rules for mathematics are absolute. Never is 1 + 1 going to = 4. It is with absolute precision that mathematics operates. I used mathematics as an example of how it doesn't or couldn't function under some relativistic expression.

a Platonist would argue against me on this, but the rules of logic and of mathematics are largely arbitrary, and chosen for their ability to model the real world, but this ability has, so far, been largely imperfect seemingly to indicate that there is no reality to logic or mathematics except in our heads.

Well, being that logic begins in our head, that should do just fine. If mathematics is so imperfect, as you claim, then how can we ever arrive at a coherent conclusion?

This isn't a thread to argue the philosophy of mathematics, but I just felt that if your analogy requires mathematics to have some sort of "objective" truth, then it is going to fail.

I wasn't offering an object truth through mathematics, I was offering an analogy of something subjective. Mathematics isn't interested in personal opinions. I feel the same about a set of morals. Again, the argument isn't to identify which morals are absolute and which are relative, the argument is that even relative morality cannot exist philosophically without a set of absolute morals.

Finally, again I may be misreading your point, but even if we were to accept some sort of independent objective reality to mathematics, I don't think that holmes is saying that everything is relative. Perhaps the word "relative" is causing some sort of confusion here. All a moral relativist says is that there is no external, objective standards by which we can measure morality. Morality is, basically, a set of beliefs and emotional responses concerning the actions of people, beliefs and responses that are dependent on the different cultural norms and the different emotional make-up of the individual people.

I'm sure I've had my fair share of adding to the confusion. Yes, there are absolutes in the known universe, but they don't necessarily bear a reflection of a moral code. Again, I was using mathematics to point to the absolute necessity of some things being concrete and not subject to amendment.


"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." -2nd Corinthians 10:4-5
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nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 26 of 44 (362862)
11-09-2006 10:38 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by Hyroglyphx
11-09-2006 10:16 AM


Re: Circular logic
The rules for mathematics are absolute.

Sorry to disagree. But Chiroptera is right. The rules of mathematics are arbitrary and capricious. (For Chiroptera's benefit, I should mention that I am a platonist in practice only, but certainly not in theory).

It is with absolute precision that mathematics operates.

That's largely correct, though not necessarily for applied mathematics. But that's where you miss the point. Mathematics can be absolutely precise only because it is arbitrary and capricious. If mathematics had to conform to some absolute reality, then the precision of mathematics would be limited by that reality.

What is true, is that mathematics is universal. That is to say, all mathematicians (well, almost all mathematicians) agree to use the same rules, arbitrary and capricious as they may be. But universal is not the same as absolute. Likewise, it may sometime happen that the world decides to adopt a universal set of moral standards. However, being universal would not make them absolute.

Let's see if I can give an example from physics. The temperature known as "absolute zero" is absolute. It is dictated by nature. However, the temperatures known as "Celsius zero" and "Fahrenheit zero" are arbitrary and capricious. They happen to be also universal among users of the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales, but that universality does not make them absolute. They are relative to the measuring practices in use at the times these scales were invented.


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Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 27 of 44 (362868)
11-09-2006 10:48 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by arachnophilia
11-08-2006 4:03 AM


Re: diablo advocati
While there seems to be a few points of actual dispute, much of this appears to be an argument over differing definitions. Tomayto, Tomahto. Let me start again so we can pan out the nuggets of debate, from the debris of different terminology.

1) Morality...
Defining this concept may end most of our argument. Much of your discussion appears to be redefining morality in a practical sense, that is involving a meta-ethical position perhaps quite similar to my own, and then adopting language people normally use for moral discussion to cover something else.

but morality is a quality that (nearly) everyone holds, and is an innate (and in reality, internal) part of the human psyche. it may differ wildly from person to person, but i think you will find my definition more closely related to pack animal behaviour and instinct than a book.

While valid as a personal concept, this does not square with general usage. I agree that animals (including humans) have instincts as well as widely varying "natures" (general) or "tastes" (tastes), which would mean predispositions to attitudes and activities. They would be the result of genetic, developmental (physical environment), and experiential (social-psych environmental) events.

These are internal, subjective feelings, boiled down to essentially "i like", and "i don't like". They are not cognitive concepts, though such concepts may be made to validate them. If you are referring to the above subjective feelings as "morality", and agree that means morals come down to personal statements of a subjective nature with a variety of influences, then I agree with many of your arguments, including the relation of morals to laws.

However, philosophical discussions of morality (ethics) generally do NOT let the term "morality" apply to such feelings. That is because "right" and "wrong" are supposed to be something greater than mere personal preference. Discussions involve whether they have truth values beyond the framework of an individual's fleeting interests. After all people generally are not going to change their preference because you say "i don't like it", nor are they going to adopt your prefs because you say "i like it". When one moves to discuss moral action it is argued "because it is right!"

I am sticking with general convention by separating the two (feelings v cognition) and denouncing the truth value of moral statements, arguing they are merely attempts to validate the former using some cognitive rationale.

Your apparent system, when definitions are used instead of terms, would be moral relativism, or perhaps emotivism... unless you mean to suggest that the sources of our desires indicate some level of truth regarding what is "good" or "bad"?

2) Considering the other...
You appear to have equivocated in your use of the term "consider". One can consider something in a factual (existential) way, or in an emotional way.

When one says one should "consider" the other, do you mean that they exist and what they might do based on one's own actions, or that they have feelings which might be hurt and that is something one would not want to do (ie "do unto others")?

As a practical matter one ALWAYS has to consider others in a factual sense. They exist and you will be interacting with them. That means you can figure out how they will interact with you based on their preferences. Creating laws inherently involves considering people in this way, otherwise one would not be making laws to begin with.

On the flipside, one does not always have to consider others in an emotional sense. The laws could be "Do as the king says peasant", or even "Do as the community wishes, comrade". It is of course possible that the person may really care about the King or the community and so want to "consider" the emotions of those entities, but it is irrelevant and action may just as well be to "consider" the factual element of those entities and what will happen if one does not obey.

Even democracies of the social contract sense do not need to involve emotional consideration of the other. As a practical matter of course if two people live nearby they will generally interact. If they choose to interact regularly, especially toward a common practical goal, they only need to assess what is likely to occur between them and set up routines so that their own interests are not hampered. If both do this then by logical imperative they will recreate "rights", without considering the other as an emotional being and what impact their actions will have on the other (beyond retribution).

I realize Locke arguably viewed natural rights as a moral issue. However that does not mean that all that followed, believed it as such. It can and often was viewed as something which emerged from individual interaction of independent beings taking their own interests to heart. Where will the practical stalemate be? Civil Rights.

As a thought experiment, imagine two robotic systems designed to achieve specific goals for themselves. They have the ability to assess threats/assets as well as attack others. They may also negotiate activities with another. If placed in an environment with limited resources, won't the result be either combat or a negotiation which de facto sets up rules/laws of how they will behave such that goals are attained without triggering combat?

In summary, if you mean in the vaguest sense that laws involve consideration of the other (factually) and that this involves morals (personal feelings), then I would agree. If you mean that laws are made by taking into consideration how our actions are going to be felt by another because of our concern (beyond retribution) for the other, then I would disagree.

3) Value (or Virtue) ethics...
Value (or Virtue) ethics involves no judgement of action, and only evaluation of character. Thus "good" and "bad" are not relatable to say the act of killing someone. Instead values related to the killing help determine your character, with an idea that one can achieve a "good" character.

While I am a relativist (though charges of skepticism or nihilism or emotivism may be fair) I maintain that value ethics are the only plausible, logically consistent form of moral discussion. I find no logical or practical basis for the concepts of "right" or "wrong" being applied to activities, though accept some practical basis for "success" v "failure" or "happiness" v "suffering" for the state of an individual and so something that one can shoot for. In that I may indeed be considered a somewhat muted (highly subjective) value-pluralist.

These are complex discussions/distinctions. I am not sure how much you know of them and how much you are throwing off to play the role of diablo advocati. I was surprised that NJ came up with value-pluralist (which before he mentioned it I didn't really know as a term). In any case what I am saying is not directly controversial as a possible concept, even if one would disagree.

Some of your comments seem less about challenging the core of the position, than about not understanding the position. I'm sorry if brevity is making me skip important items. Like I said this can be complex.

labelling them at all is a moral call. who's to stay that taking possessions, rights, or even life from another is at all out of the ordinary, noticeable, or cause for any sort of concern?

This is to mistake what I said. Robbing a person (dying or otherwise) will be able to be labelled on a purely factual/definitional basis with no "moral" significance. You would be right that robbery itself could simply be a neutral term for taking another's possessions. That it is loaded for some, or many, does not indicate anything other than it was created in such a context and some people maintain that context.

There is no reality beyond the statement "for society X taking items from others is disliked, and when disliked the term "robbery" is employed".

In any case, the labels that I was discussing did not involve negative or positive connotations, they really are neutral, and simply definitional Take for instance cowardice. That would be "avoiding risk". The oppositional trait is bravery which would be "taking risk".

The thieves robbing a dying man could be considered "brave" in the sense that they are risking being punished for what they are doing. But given the situation that risk was low, and taking something away from a person when they are absolutely helpless involves no risk at all and so exhibits "cowardice".

For me, the level of cowardice may be too low because I prefer some greater level of risk when trying to get something from another person. Thus I might be the type to take candy from a 12yo or a professional wrestler, but not a baby or dying man.

The thieves were not wrong or lesser for what they did, but exhibiting a relationally greater level of cowardice than I would. It may be so great a difference that I dislike what they are doing on a gut level. Yet others might find that perfectly tasteful. What everyone chooses defines them in a factual definitional sense and not a morally "right/wrong" sense.

I gave another example (maybe that was to NJ) of the brilliant assassin. In killing a hard to reach opponent, who he may have not wanted to kill but was ordered to do so, with a poison he made that was totally undetectable, that person would exhibit: knowledge, loyalty, and cowardice. If the victim was someone that had or was likely to kill others without cause, then the person could be acting "justly". But even if unjust, that would simply be another characteristic. The person could be hailed and reviled on all of these different aspects of their act, and would be depending on another person's nature.

considering outright theft as cowardly is the same as saying "wrong" with a more ambiguous justification. what's wrong with being cowardly?

Absolutely nothing is wrong with being cowardly. Heck those people just made some money. In wars it might keep one alive, and even lead to victory.

In the more overt virtue ethics theory cowardice may be thought a vice, but only in the sense that habitual cowardice in a person is less likely to lead to personal achievement and happiness. Being a relativist I do not believe that can be so objectively stated (as plato might), yet agree with the general practical principle. Cowardice may be generally less useful than bravery (offers less opportunities for gain, and more opportunities for loss).

4) Relativism...

the primary motivation behind cultural and moral relativism is consideration of the other culture or moral system. after all, what is wrong with forcing our values on other cultures?

I'm not sure there is any motivation than understanding the factual nature of ethics. What is true regarding moral statements? In doing so one must factually consider the reality of other systems, but one does not have to care about them one bit.

Personally I might hate the Yanomamo and prefer their culture wiped from the face of the earth. That does not mean I can't acknowledge that they have a system which is workable for them, and has no more or less truth than my own, and so there are no moral absolutes.

our moral relativism is a moral position, and part of our bias -- bias that other cultures and moral systems should be considered. why should we? it sounds like "screw muslims" fundie argument, i know, but if we are arguing for moral relativism, and that nothing is inherently wrong, what keeps us from obliterating any group we dislike from the face of the earth? why would doing so be wrong?

Philosophical moral relativism would say there is nothing wrong with obliterating another culture. Why would there be?

You seem to be confusing the philosophical position of relativism with political activists who appeal to relativism in some portions of their arguments. That absolutists, or simply political activists, appeal to some tenets of relativism to push their agenda, does not change what relativism is or says.

5) The absolute problem...

the problem is that "there are no absolutes" is an absolute statement. there is no logical defense of this position.

I have already dealt with this with NJ. I am willing to switch that statement to "there are no known absolutes". Given that this is true it seriously injures and claims to absolutes. Yeah absence of evidence is not blah blah, but it does curtail claims to presence.

Until a person develops some serious claims which include evidence of consistent absolute applicability, they are in just a bind.

In fact I might play the reverse game. "There are absolutes" is an absolute statement of knowledge, given our limited nature which inherently denies knowledge of everything, we are logically restricted from making claims to the existence of absolutes.

6) Omega on the Alpha...

generally, it tends to be described in jewish circles as pertaining to awareness, not judgement. the emphasis is not on "good and evil"

I meant what was the tree literally called, not what people may interpret it as. I'm trying to get if the literal wording in the Torah is the same as in the Bible. You can't get more clear than the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To argue it means awareness is to start moving away from literal meaning, to more speculative interpretation.

In this case it clearly starts with them being naked and unashamed. Eating from the tree and then being ashamed of that nakedness. God clearly made them that way and was not happy that they judged it.

the story, fundamentally, is about the coming of age of mankind. it explains agriculture, patriarchal society, fear of snakes, clothing, suffering, etc -- all as a result of (stolen) awareness.

Well yes I can see how it could be read as that. Its just not clear to me why a more direct interpretation is not valid. In this case I'm arguing that it is a story about increasing awareness, only one form is false. That is the allegory and so the "moral" of the story.

Of everything that there is in life the one thing they could not know was good and evil. The serpent convinced them they could "eat of this knowledge" but they were fooled. They were not gods and not beings gods, they might FEEL they know like such, or ACT like they are such, but in reality they know nothing they only talk that way. Thus (among other things) they gain a false impression that naked is shameful, which is not correct.

They judge what they have no true capability to judge, as IF they were gods, and so are disatisfied with life as it is. That is why they do "die" in the sense that their world ends, and suffering is made worse.

i think it's safe to say the author meant "knowledge" and not "judgement" as man's judgement is continually shown to be faulty throughout the rest of the text.

I think it meant knowledge too. Not sure that I said otherwise. One cannot make moral judgement without moral knowledge. It was false because they cannot truly know since they are not actually gods. It was something they aspired to but cannot reach and foll themselves to the point where they cause themselves misery.

Remember the serpent only promises that they will be "like" gods, not be gods. For a god such knowledge is possible and why the fruit could be consumed without harm. For nongods they will gain such impressions and feel they have such knowledge, but to no avail but pain.

That's the only logically firm interpretation I know of which maintains a literal sense to the writing. You have not addressed your original claim that they were afraid of having gone against god's rule. It really doesn't read that way and focuses on their shame regarding nudity.

Edited by holmes, : title mistakes


holmes
"What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away." (D.Bros)
This message is a reply to:
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Silent H
Member (Idle past 3899 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002


Message 28 of 44 (362898)
11-09-2006 12:13 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Hyroglyphx
11-08-2006 1:27 PM


Re: Circular logic
Like mathematics, for anything to be true, there must first exist some absolute standard or criterion, otherwise it loses all meaning.

As has been pointed out already, we supply the meaning to mathematics. People may then explore based on the logic of definitional relations, but we start by giving the definitions.

How can you be betrayed if there is nothing wrong with betrayal to begin with? If there is nothing 'wrong' then betrayal loses its meaning.

There is nothing inherently wrong with betrayal. Plenty of people have betrayed me and went on to great success. On the other hand betraying me made me feel bad. I believed a person would not betray me, so that I could trust further actions from them, and I found out this was not true. And in order to find this out something had to be taken from me. I didn't like either of those losses.

Betrayal only gains meaning as it impacts one through gain or loss. Some swear by it.

If one person decides not to play by your rules, what are you going to say in order to defend your property?

Ahhhh... the fallacy of the gun. Someone is going to shoot you so how will you stop them with relativist philosophy? I'll stop them the same way an absolutist will have to... hit them fast and hard.

Once someone is taking your stuff, including your life, and they do not have any practical preferences to appeal to, talk is over. The assumption that they will share a preference for absolutist philosophy is a rather large assumption, particularly that they might share YOUR absolute criteria.

Remember your earlier example of the lady screaming her head off to the roadrage case. "Its wrong! Its wrong!" She screamed. Try that to a guy stealing your stuff or pointing a gun at you. Its not likely to stop any bullets. I mean how exactly did the lady stop the roadrage case?

Oh and by the way, why do people not like having stuff taken from them? Because they don't like to be without things (at the very least necessities). They have an inherent sense of "Mine". Granted some cultures allow for a much less pervasive notion of "mine", usually when they are less material in nature (or have plenty to go around). Still there will be something they want.

Once one desires something, having someone remove it pisses a person off.

You keep coming full circle here, Holmes. What do 'rights' mean if not by some absolute standard?

A right will be something that I absolutely defend. That's about the length of its standard. Some people live without such concepts as rights as I have. They will likely defend those. Those are their rights.

We certainly have a common concept of civil rights, based on individualism. They are a culturally defined concept. I happen to like them. If I was born in feudal Europe or Japan I would likely not even understand what they meant, much less want to fight for it.

Indeed some reps these days have argued civil rights are not so important. They apparently are not willing to fight for them. Where is this absolute standard of which you speak, when once attained, such things are thrown away?

Xianity is a large set of beliefs. One set pertains to them believing that morals are absolute. Christians offer an explanation for their beliefs are compatible with those absolute laws, but that is really a side issue. Those are just examples.

This didn't answer my question at all. Xianity has been outlawed. If laws are based on morals then what does that mean?

Xians hid what they did when it was illegal. If people only hide criminal acts because they know they do something wrong, what does that mean about Xianity?

Surely there has to be times in your life, Holmes, where you say to yourself, "This guy is in the wrong," or, "I am doing this because it is the right thing to do.

Only in a practical sense, like Bush is wrong for invading Iraq (it will not produce the results he claims). Otherwise I admit I am just tellig people what I like or not. I have certainly really disliked people or what they do, and have felt compelled to do things.

All of those cases had no external meaning. Where there is consistency I have found my character, or nature, or set of tastes. They have defined me from others based on the consistency of what they do.

I will agree that some characteristics I have found to be generally helpful but that is more of a practical guide than a moral proclamation. Like getting lots of rest means I am less cranky. Choosing to sleep is neither good nor bad.

The man sacrificed his life to save others. Obviously his own self-preservation was overcome by a much more virtuous action. What can you say in defense?

I agree with virtue characterizations. In that act he was brave and loyal and altruistic. That does not make what he did "right" in an absolute sense (though perhaps to some code he himself ascribed or promised himself to).

What if he had dove out a window and lived (though his teammates died)? Would he have been wrong? Why?

You said that what happened to Haggard was, "Ahhhhh, justice." Did you not really believe that it was justice.

That is justice. That's sort of definitional. If you do something to someone that they don't like, and it comes back to bite you in the same way and you don't like it... that's justice.

That does not mean that it was "right" in any absolute sense. I certainly like it though.

I believe in most egalitarian societies, or those focused on individualism, justice will be ranked pretty high. But not everyone has had that outlook. For some equality is not evident, perhaps with themselves as much lower. It may be felt that other issues take precedence.

For example Bush has set out, and reps have argued, that security is much more important than justice. This is essentially saying that our cowardice must take precedence over our concern for justice. I am of course hoping (because I personally enjoy justice in action) that there will be some justice and such people will feel the effects of greater security.

In fact, I could make a case against it that it is murder, not that it is justified homicide.

Wait a second, you said that all societies have a concept of murder. I showed you some that didn't, and you tell me that they are cases of murder. It doesn't matter what you think. Your claim is that there are universal moral truths which are reflected in our morals and laws. Deal with the counterexamples.

To conclude, I can do nothing that is actually right or wrong, neither can you or anyone, laws bear no reflection to morals but are basically arbitrary, and truth is important, even though its actually not subjective to anything. Is that an accurate description of your stance on this matter?

No that is not an accurate description of my stance.

You and I can do nothing which is truly right or wrong, though they may be considered such by ourselves and others (though I won't). Laws need not reflect morals, though they may, it is up to how the lawmakers create laws. Laws are unlikely to be arbitrary in that they are usually meant to solve a practical issue. Truth is only important for those seeking to make accurate statements, or understand something in an accurate factual sense.

It can't injustice, because justice must first exist in order for there to be an injustice. Since justice doesn't operate in a vacuum, standards must be applied beforehand.

You are right that justice doesn't operate in a vacuum, that's why there is no absolute morality. We create and apply our own definitions. We have come up with a term with a definition and called it justice.

Whether a case of justice is felt "right", or an injustice "wrong", will in all cases depend on who is viewing it and what context it plays with their perspective.

My accurately calling my false arrest "unjust" will do nothing if people don't care or feel something outweighs that. You know like that Canadian guy who was picked up by the US while coming back from a vacation and then sent to secret prisons while he was tortured for a year. Now he claims that is unjust. I think its unjust. We both think it sucks. He would likely call it wrong.

Bush and reps are calling it necessary and right... while murmuring on the justice issue. Say what do YOU think about that poor Canadian guy getting unjustly arrested and tortured?

If value is up to you to assign for yourself, then the same would apply to all people. At some point, as is the case here, two views are going to conflict and eventually one system of thought is going to impinge on another's. Naturally, one view will end up being superior to the other, as the one with the power gets to decide your fate, essentially cancelling out your view.

Yeah, that's how the world works all right.

Would you describe yourself as a nihilist?

Its hard to describe my exact position with any set term. I do not believe that nihilist is totally accurate but I would not say wholly incorrect. You were also not far off with value-pluralist.

My basic concept is that the only system of normative ethics which remains credible is virtue ethics, which is devoid of judging actions right or wrong anyway. But that this is only credible in a practical way, and even then set within a relativist (perhaps skeptical) perspective (understanding that virtues will be applied differently across cultures with no true scale to them either). In my last post to Arach I described myself as a very muted value-pluralist.


holmes
"What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away." (D.Bros)
This message is a reply to:
 Message 19 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-08-2006 1:27 PM Hyroglyphx has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by Chiroptera, posted 11-09-2006 1:25 PM Silent H has responded
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Chiroptera
Member (Idle past 15 days)
Posts: 6531
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 29 of 44 (362904)
11-09-2006 1:25 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by Silent H
11-09-2006 12:13 PM


I am going to use this one in the future.
quote:
Someone is going to shoot you so how will you stop them with relativist philosophy? I'll stop them the same way an absolutist will have to... hit them fast and hard.

I really like the way this one was put. I was trying to make a similar point in a similar argument on another board, but once again someone shows me how to state the point succinctly and clearly.


Kings were put to death long before 21 January 1793. But regicides of earlier times and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king, and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever. -- Albert Camus
This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by Silent H, posted 11-09-2006 12:13 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 31 by Silent H, posted 11-09-2006 2:30 PM Chiroptera has not yet responded

  
Chiroptera
Member (Idle past 15 days)
Posts: 6531
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 30 of 44 (362906)
11-09-2006 1:56 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by Hyroglyphx
11-09-2006 10:16 AM


What is a moral relativist?
I am not going to go on about the philosophy of mathematics; it is off-topic, and nwr has said what I was going to but much more clearly than I would have. However, I can't resist:

quote:
The rules for mathematics are absolute. Never is 1 + 1 going to = 4.

Actually, in the field Z2 we actually do have 1 + 1 = 4. And this is not some esoteric mathematics, it is a very important and useful field. So this does sort of show how interpretations and choice of rules do matter.

But I think we should leave this. We can argue about mathematics, but the fact that the arguement exists shows that the analogy is not showing what you want it to; at the very least it is distracting from your point.

-

In fact, the reason I am interjecting myself into you and holmes' discussion is that I am not sure what is the point being argued.

A moral relativist is a person someone who recognizes (heh -- note the choice of word here) that there is no absolute standard to which morals can be compared. One can make determinations that another person's actions are right or wrong, but those determinations can only be made by comparing to the one's or one's culture's standards. A moral relativist recognizes that her own moral standards, as well as her culture's, are largely arbitrary.

A moral relativist is someone who recognizes that different cultures have different views of morality, and even within a given culture individuals may have differing opinions of morality; further she recognizes that there is no objective standard to evaluate them, that is, no standard that does not depend on the arbitrary choices of a given culture or the subjective feelings of a particular person.

A moral relativist may have very strong opinions about morality herself. She simply recognizes that there is no objective standards by which to declare her opinions the unique correct opinions.

A moral relativist may feel so strongly about a certain moral behavior that she will seek to compel (throught the enactment of laws, for example) others to behave accordingly. She will simply recognize that there is no objective standard by which her opinion will be more correct than others on the issue; she will recognize that the only way she will convince others to adopt her views is by appealing to the common feelings and ideals shared by the others in her community, by appealing to consequences of contrary behavior that are commonly felt to be undesirable, or, occassionally, by pointing out logical contradictions (if any) in opposing moral frameworks. But she will recognize that there no objective standards that will work to convince all people in all cultures in all times of the preferability of her view point.

I have the impression that you are trying to describe what a moral relativist should be doing in order to point out a contradiction in the moral relativist position. But I think you are having some difficulty here because you don't quite understand what the moral relativism actually is. At least that is the impression that I am getting.

A moral relativist does not say there is no morality. A moral relativist says exactly the opposite; there are lots of different moral frameworks, none any less valid than any other, at least not by any objective standard.

Nor is a moral relativist necessarily immoral, amoral, or a hedonist. She might very well have a very strong code of ethics and a strong sense of morality.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Clarity. And to change the subtitle.


Kings were put to death long before 21 January 1793. But regicides of earlier times and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king, and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever. -- Albert Camus
This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-09-2006 10:16 AM Hyroglyphx has not yet responded

  
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