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Author Topic:   A personal morality
Neutralmind
Member (Idle past 4444 days)
Posts: 183
From: Finland
Joined: 06-08-2006


Message 1 of 196 (392908)
04-02-2007 8:57 PM


Okay, just recently I realised that with evolution comes a presumption of relative morality, and I've always thought about morality being objective.

But now, reading through and learning a lot more about evolution I now understand how morality in fact is very subjective, and the proof can be seen around the world with different cultures ascribing different things as moral and immoral. And even individuals in the same culture.

I've never really believed in a god, but I've always believed in an objective morality. That we all have a natural instinct of what is right and wrong, and that this natural instinct is the same for all of us. I can now see how I am wrong.
But here's the real problem.

I still refuse to believe in it (relative morality). I have a fear, no... I know that if I KNEW for sure, that there was absolutely no doubt that relative morality is correct I'd become one of the most immoral guys in this planet. I'd start "playing" girls just to get sex and doing one night stands. I'd cheat everywhere I could in the working life and so on...

I know this isn't the case for most. For many I know this wouldn't change much in their life but in mine... I KNOW I would become like that and I have no idea why I wouldn't want to be like that, now that I know (not KNOW) that relative morality is in fact correct.

So, should I hold onto my illusionary belief of absolute morality or will someone here help me find ways to deal with knowing the truth and still not turning "immoral"?

I know it may sound crazy to some but it's seriously a real problem to me.


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Chiroptera, posted 04-02-2007 9:01 PM Neutralmind has responded
 Message 3 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 9:14 PM Neutralmind has responded
 Message 4 by Rob, posted 04-02-2007 10:00 PM Neutralmind has not yet responded
 Message 5 by Rob, posted 04-02-2007 10:09 PM Neutralmind has not yet responded
 Message 10 by anastasia, posted 04-02-2007 10:53 PM Neutralmind has not yet responded
 Message 12 by crashfrog, posted 04-02-2007 11:07 PM Neutralmind has responded
 Message 16 by fallacycop, posted 04-02-2007 11:34 PM Neutralmind has not yet responded
 Message 35 by nator, posted 04-03-2007 9:06 AM Neutralmind has not yet responded
 Message 43 by joshua221, posted 04-03-2007 4:10 PM Neutralmind has not yet responded
 Message 75 by Rob, posted 04-04-2007 1:06 AM Neutralmind has not yet responded

  
Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6814
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 2 of 196 (392910)
04-02-2007 9:01 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Neutralmind
04-02-2007 8:57 PM


quote:
So, should I hold onto my illusionary belief of absolute morality or will someone here help me find ways to deal with knowing the truth and still not turning "immoral"?

I don't get it. If you know that your belief is "illusionary", then you don't really believe it, do you?

I think that you have to be very clear. What do you believe. Not what do you want to believe, but what is it that you do believe.


Actually, if their god makes better pancakes, I'm totally switching sides. -- Charley the Australopithecine

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Neutralmind, posted 04-02-2007 8:57 PM Neutralmind has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 96 by Neutralmind, posted 04-05-2007 7:31 PM Chiroptera has responded

  
kuresu
Member (Idle past 834 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 3 of 196 (392915)
04-02-2007 9:14 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Neutralmind
04-02-2007 8:57 PM


the deal with relative morality is not that their is no "right" or "wrong". you are subject to your own moral code.

if you feel that it is wrong to steal, why would you steal?
if you feel that it is wrong to cheat, why would you?
lieing, why?
killing, why?
anything else, why?

I find this to be the funniest objection to relative morality (not that it's not a serious problem for those like you. it's just such a misunderstanding that, well . . .).

if you seriously, honestly believe that something is wrong or right, why would you change your behavior if you eliminate the "objective" part of morality? this makes no sense to me (that you would, that is).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Neutralmind, posted 04-02-2007 8:57 PM Neutralmind has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by New Cat's Eye, posted 04-03-2007 3:30 PM kuresu has not yet responded
 Message 48 by Neutralmind, posted 04-03-2007 4:31 PM kuresu has not yet responded
 Message 49 by Neutralmind, posted 04-03-2007 4:35 PM kuresu has not yet responded

  
Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 4169 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 4 of 196 (392927)
04-02-2007 10:00 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Neutralmind
04-02-2007 8:57 PM


you are correct...
Neutralmind:
I still refuse to believe in it (relative morality). I have a fear, no... I know that if I KNEW for sure, that there was absolutely no doubt that relative morality is correct I'd become one of the most immoral guys in this planet. I'd start "playing" girls just to get sex and doing one night stands. I'd cheat everywhere I could in the working life and so on...

Hey, if you don't mind, a joke first...

That's the problem with a neutral mind... it never get's into a gear!

Forward or reverse? I really don't want to tick anyone on either side off, you know? :D

Seriously, I totally understand your confusion. I had this very struggle at one time...

For example, a good friend once reminded me while we were discussing a particular moral issue, that I cannot impose my morality onto others.

After several days it hit me... So I called him and I asked him, 'Why'? 'Would it be wrong to do so'?

If morality is not a real and objective thing, then how can we protest anything?

The idea of relative morality, is itself... 'a form of morality'.

I think it is insidious and diabolically clever, for a philosophy like moral relativism to claim neutrality, when there is no possible way to apply it without labling it's alternative (objective morality), as 'wrong'.

So if I believe that killing is wrong, but my neighbor does not, then what is the proper course of action when he comes to my door with a gun in his hand?

Is killing wrong or not?

I think that what kuresu is driving at, is that if he respects my morality, and I respect his, that no-one will be the worse off!

But why should He respect my morality when it is not his?

Will liars suddenly start becoming honest with me out of respect for my belief in truth? I don't think so...

So in my mind, it is nonsense to even suggest such things as relative morality, because for it to work, we must assume another morality to be at work to support it, and that is one of respecting others, as you wish to be respected.

So as you see, it turns out to be just the same old morality we have always been talking about as necessary for civility. The problem is that people want to except themselves (for their own pet pleasures)and expect it from others.

You are looking at the logical outworkings of the philosophy and rightly noticing that it is essentially chaos (nonsense)!

Neutralmind:

But now, reading through and learning a lot more about evolution I now understand how morality in fact is very subjective, and the proof can be seen around the world with different cultures ascribing different things as moral and immoral. And even individuals in the same culture.

I will defer to a master communicator on this point of yours... I think it captures the issue flawlessly...

But I appearently must do so with another reply. Something has changed with the reply limits...

Edited by Rob, : No reason given.

Edited by Rob, : ???????????

Edited by Rob, : ARGHHH


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Neutralmind, posted 04-02-2007 8:57 PM Neutralmind has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 10:11 PM Rob has responded
 Message 19 by fallacycop, posted 04-02-2007 11:54 PM Rob has responded

  
Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 4169 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 5 of 196 (392932)
04-02-2007 10:09 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Neutralmind
04-02-2007 8:57 PM


"I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature or decent behavior known to all men is unsound, because different civilizations and different ages have had quite different moralities.

But this is not true. There have been differences between their moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of, say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own. Some of the evidence for this I have put together in the appendix of another book called The Abolition of Man; but for our present purpose I need only to ask the reader to think what a totally different morality would mean. Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two make five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to--whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.

But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this in a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking on to him he will be complaining "It's not fair" before you can say Jack Robinson. A nation may say treaties do not matter; but the next minute, they spoil their case by saying that the particular treaty they want to break was an unfair one. But if treaties do not matter, and if there is not such thing as Right and Wrong--in other words, if there is no Law of Nature--what is the difference between a fair treaty and an unfair one? Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?

It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table. Now if we are agreed about that, I go on to my next point, which is this. None of us is really keeping the Law of Nature. If there are any exceptions among you, I apologize to them. They had much better read some other work, for nothing I am going to say concerns them. And now, turning to the ordinary human beings who are left:
I hope you will not misunderstand what I am going to say. I am not preaching, and Heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people. There may be all sorts of excuses for us. That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money--the one you have almost forgotten--came when you were very hard up. And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done--well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be. And as for your behavior to your wife (or husband) or sister (or brother) if I knew how irritating they could be, I would not wonder at it--and who the dickens am I, anyway? I am just the same. that is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm. The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like if or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behavior, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is, we believe in decency so much--we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so--that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice that it is only for our bad behaviour that we find all these explanations. It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves."

(C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity / Chapter 1 The law of Human Nature.)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Neutralmind, posted 04-02-2007 8:57 PM Neutralmind has not yet responded

  
kuresu
Member (Idle past 834 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 6 of 196 (392933)
04-02-2007 10:11 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Rob
04-02-2007 10:00 PM


Re: you are correct...
guess what rob. in a relative morality system, if you think it right to enforce your morality onto others, then you're able to do so.

i'm not driving at being accepting of other's morality. i'm driving at following your own morality.

why would you change your behavior if morality was relative instead of objective? I know I wouldn't.

If morality is not a real and objective thing, then how can we protest anything?

no one's stopping you from doing it. only your own misunderstanding is.

So if I believe that killing is wrong, but my neighbor does not, then what is the proper course of action when he comes to my door with a gun in his hand?

you do value your life, right? then I suggest fighting for your life. it's your morality that you have to follow. it's the other guy's morality that brought him to your door. (well, not necessarily . . .).


"Have the Courage to Know!" --Immanuel Kant

" One useless man is a disgrace. Two are called a law firm. Three or more are called a congress" --paraphrased, John Adams

Want to help give back to the world community? Did you know that your computer can help? Join the newest TeamEvC Climate Modelling to help improve climate predictions for a better tomorrow.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Rob, posted 04-02-2007 10:00 PM Rob has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Rob, posted 04-02-2007 10:14 PM kuresu has responded
 Message 9 by anastasia, posted 04-02-2007 10:46 PM kuresu has responded

  
Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 4169 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 7 of 196 (392935)
04-02-2007 10:14 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by kuresu
04-02-2007 10:11 PM


Re: you are correct...
Kuresu:
why would you change your behavior if morality was relative instead of objective? I know I wouldn't.

I'll go one better... Why would you change your behavior in either case?

Hmm?

You can't change what you are... right?

Who you gonna call?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 10:11 PM kuresu has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 10:21 PM Rob has responded

  
kuresu
Member (Idle past 834 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 8 of 196 (392936)
04-02-2007 10:21 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Rob
04-02-2007 10:14 PM


Re: you are correct...
I do believe I asked the question first. First to nuetral, and first to you. And I already answered the question anyhow. so do the polite thing and answer my question instead of avoiding it by deflecting it back at me.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Rob, posted 04-02-2007 10:14 PM Rob has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Rob, posted 04-02-2007 11:18 PM kuresu has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4274 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 9 of 196 (392942)
04-02-2007 10:46 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by kuresu
04-02-2007 10:11 PM


Re: you are correct...
kuresu writes:

in a relative morality system, if you think it right to enforce your morality onto others, then you're able to do so.

Based on what? You only 'think' it is right, right? So what are you gettng at? Power in numbers? Arguments from authority? Sure they can win a battle, but so can a nuclear bomb. It doesn't mean you actually were the 'better man'. It's either a fair fight, or a no contest.

you do value your life, right? then I suggest fighting for your life. it's your morality that you have to follow. it's the other guy's morality that brought him to your door. (well, not necessarily . . .).

Exactly. You are invoking an objective here. "It is not necessarily morality that brought him to the door". But if he feels good about being there, how can you say he is wrong?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 10:11 PM kuresu has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 10:56 PM anastasia has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4274 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 10 of 196 (392944)
04-02-2007 10:53 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Neutralmind
04-02-2007 8:57 PM


Neutralmind writes:

So, should I hold onto my illusionary belief of absolute morality or will someone here help me find ways to deal with knowing the truth and still not turning "immoral"?

Stop being afraid. Right is right. It is not always the best thing to do to tell the truth when you could save a life by lying, but no matter how many generations pass you will call a person a hero for saving another.

If you don't believe in your own morality, you can't judge anything of the past, you can't learn from mistakes, you can't be a human. You are not always going to be right, neither is anyone else. Something will always be right, and better. Don't get too lost and confused. It will always be foolish to hurt another, someone else will always be hurt by your carelessness.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Neutralmind, posted 04-02-2007 8:57 PM Neutralmind has not yet responded

  
kuresu
Member (Idle past 834 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 11 of 196 (392945)
04-02-2007 10:56 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by anastasia
04-02-2007 10:46 PM


Re: you are correct...
ana writes:

Based on what?


kuresu writes:

if you think it right to enforce your morality onto others, then you're able to do so

it's the ability. not the effect.

ana writes:

You are invoking an objective here


not really. it's just bad to say that it is "morality" that brought the murderer to the door. what brought him there is a desire to kill you. it's just that that doesn't clash with his morality. bad writing on my part.

how can you say he is wrong?

he's wrong in my book. plus, I value my life. that gives me all the right I need to say he's wrong and to resist his attempts.

all one big mess, huh?

p.s. since actual invites seem to not work, i'm throwing the chat invite in here (and for a change, it's in a message that actually has something to say that's on-topic!). anywho, would love to chat if you can tonight.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by anastasia, posted 04-02-2007 10:46 PM anastasia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by anastasia, posted 04-02-2007 11:10 PM kuresu has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 196 (392947)
04-02-2007 11:07 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Neutralmind
04-02-2007 8:57 PM


I've never really believed in a god, but I've always believed in an objective morality. That we all have a natural instinct of what is right and wrong, and that this natural instinct is the same for all of us. I can now see how I am wrong.
But here's the real problem.

I still refuse to believe in it (relative morality).

Then I suspect you just don't know what moral relativism is. You've already accepted that moral relativism is true. You're reacting to some strawman conception of moral relativism, probably one you got from church.

Moral relativism is simply the recognition that morality depends on the situation. Is it right to steal? No, but what about stealing to feed a starving family? Moral relativism is simply the recognition that moral situations are often complex and nuanced, and simple statements like "thou shalt not steal" fail to encapsulate the proper response to every situation.

You do what you feel is right. Almost everybody does what they feel is right. I don't see why that's something you would refuse to believe in.

I'd start "playing" girls just to get sex and doing one night stands. I'd cheat everywhere I could in the working life and so on...

Why? Wouldn't the harm those things would do to you and to others be enough to dissuade you? Surely you're not some kind of sociopath, incapable of feeling empathy for others, right?

I KNOW I would become like that and I have no idea why I wouldn't want to be like that, now that I know (not KNOW) that relative morality is in fact correct.

You don't know why you wouldn't want to be like that? You already don't want to be like that. You just said so!

I honestly don't see what you're confused about. Recognizing relative morality isn't going to make you do things you don't want to do. You don't want to treat women as disposable sex objects? Then don't. Simple as that. You don't want to steal from work? Then don't. Simple as that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Neutralmind, posted 04-02-2007 8:57 PM Neutralmind has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by anastasia, posted 04-02-2007 11:17 PM crashfrog has not yet responded
 Message 42 by Neutralmind, posted 04-03-2007 4:10 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 47 by Neutralmind, posted 04-03-2007 4:29 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 61 by joshua221, posted 04-03-2007 6:35 PM crashfrog has responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4274 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 13 of 196 (392948)
04-02-2007 11:10 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by kuresu
04-02-2007 10:56 PM


Re: you are correct...
kuresu writes:

p.s. since actual invites seem to not work, i'm throwing the chat invite in here (and for a change, it's in a message that actually has something to say that's on-topic!). anywho, would love to chat if you can tonight.

It's not a mess. It doesn't have to be. I will chat only if you say that your morality is objective because it judges other people as 'evil' even if they don't think they are.

If a murderer is trying to kill you, he is wrong. This is because YOU SAY SO. Not because he really is. Therefore you can't judge him. If you will just admit that wrong is wrong, you can be done with your mess.

Ah, nevermind, I am sure I will be up to chat in a few.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 10:56 PM kuresu has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 11:36 PM anastasia has not yet responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4274 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 14 of 196 (392950)
04-02-2007 11:17 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by crashfrog
04-02-2007 11:07 PM


crashfrog writes:

Then I suspect you just don't know what moral relativism is. You've already accepted that moral relativism is true. You're reacting to some strawman conception of moral relativism, probably one you got from church.

Moral relativism is simply the recognition that morality depends on the situation. Is it right to steal? No, but what about stealing to feed a starving family? Moral relativism is simply the recognition that moral situations are often complex and nuanced, and simple statements like "thou shalt not steal" fail to encapsulate the proper response to every situation.

Halleluja, I think we are going to agree!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by crashfrog, posted 04-02-2007 11:07 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

  
Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 4169 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 15 of 196 (392951)
04-02-2007 11:18 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by kuresu
04-02-2007 10:21 PM


Re: you are correct...
Kuresu:
I do believe I asked the question first. First to nuetral, and first to you. And I already answered the question anyhow. so do the polite thing and answer my question instead of avoiding it by deflecting it back at me.

why would you change your behavior if morality was relative instead of objective? I know I wouldn't.

Fair enough...

I would change my behavior because there would be no ultimate consequence for my actions. There would be nothing to hold me accountable to.

Furthermore, if morality is relative, then so is justice and mercy. The whole idea that life is meaningful, would very quickly devolve into meaningless chaos.

And if life is not meaningful and chaos is the only reality, then what is the difference between Ghengis Khan and Jesus?

In fact, your question even becomes irrelevant... What would be the difference between relative morality and objective morality?

Under your own ideal, I could kill you for suggesting such a thing. The only reason I don't, is because I believe it would be wrong to impose my morality on you.

And that is the essence of free will. You do what you choose (morrally speaking), but somebody has to pay...

If not you, then another for your sake.

And that's why I know He is God. Because He paid our bill!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 10:21 PM kuresu has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by kuresu, posted 04-02-2007 11:52 PM Rob has responded
 Message 53 by Neutralmind, posted 04-03-2007 4:59 PM Rob has responded
 Message 123 by Trae, posted 04-06-2007 7:23 PM Rob has not yet responded

  
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