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Author Topic:   Moral Relativism
Majorsmiley
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 284 (40428)
05-16-2003 1:19 PM


Is Moral Relativism a valid View. Take the statement "What is true for you is not true for me." Your thoughts please.

Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 284 (40442)
05-16-2003 3:44 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Majorsmiley
05-16-2003 1:19 PM


That's not moral relativism. That sounds like a strawman.

Moral relativism would be "There exists no source of moral absolutes." In the absence of such sources, human societies must use their judgement to arrive at rules everyone can live by that allow for the greatest quality of life for all members.

I find that to be a highly valid view, and much more useful than arguing over the moral views of non-existent deities.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Paul, posted 05-16-2003 8:04 PM crashfrog has responded
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Paul
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 284 (40464)
05-16-2003 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by crashfrog
05-16-2003 3:44 PM


Moral relativism would be "There exists no source of moral absolutes."

LOL, yeah ok Crash.

Moral relativism is the view that moral standards are grounded only in social custom. This view makes it very convenient for some of the worlds cultures to practice customs such as genital mutilation, slavery etc. etc.

You call this a highly valid view? One that will allow for the greatest quality of life for all members?

Respectfully, Paul


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by crashfrog, posted 05-16-2003 8:14 PM Paul has not yet responded
 Message 5 by Mister Pamboli, posted 05-16-2003 8:39 PM Paul has responded
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 284 (40466)
05-16-2003 8:14 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Paul
05-16-2003 8:04 PM


You call this a highly valid view? One that will allow for the greatest quality of life for all members?

Those cultures commit those atrocities because they believe a god who is the source of their morality commands them to do it. If they were relativist, they could step back and say "Hrm, is female genital mutilation really such a good idea?"

I'd say that moral absolutism is the greater danger because it means that moral views that are wrong can't be changed. Looks like you overlooked the log in your own eye on this one.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Paul, posted 05-16-2003 8:04 PM Paul has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Majorsmiley, posted 05-20-2003 12:52 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 52 by EndocytosisSynthesis, posted 07-20-2003 5:03 PM crashfrog has responded

  
Mister Pamboli
Member (Idle past 5866 days)
Posts: 634
From: Washington, USA
Joined: 12-10-2001


Message 5 of 284 (40469)
05-16-2003 8:39 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Paul
05-16-2003 8:04 PM


quote:
Moral relativism is the view that moral standards are grounded only in social custom. This view makes it very convenient for some of the worlds cultures to practice customs such as genital mutilation, slavery etc. etc.
Can you give some examples of this? Can you point us to any cultures which practice genital mutilitation or slavery and which also believe that moral standards are grounded only in social custom?

Governor John Hammond in 1853 wrote in Slavery is not a sin:
I think, then, I may safely conclude, and I firmly believe, that American Slavery is not only not a sin, but especially commanded by God through Moses, and approved by Christ through his apostles. And here I might close its defence; for what God ordains, and Christ sanctifies, should surely command the respect and toleration of man. But I fear there has grown up in our time a transcendental religion, which is throwing even transcendental philosophy into the shade--a religion too pure and elevated for the Bible; which seeks to erect among men a higher standard of morals than the Almighty has revealed, or our Saviour preached;

Hammond's argument, as it proceeds, is exactly the opposite to yours. He defends slavery on the grounds of the purest moral abolutism, and claims that moral relativism will lead from that path.

I suspect your view is somewhat less than highly valid, when it's counterexamples are expressed with such forceful clarity.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Paul, posted 05-16-2003 8:04 PM Paul has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Paul, posted 05-20-2003 3:15 PM Mister Pamboli has responded

  
Majorsmiley
Inactive Member


Message 6 of 284 (40765)
05-20-2003 12:52 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by crashfrog
05-16-2003 8:14 PM


If they were relativist, they could step back and say "Hrm, is female genital mutilation really such a good idea?"

Uh no, relativism would say "that's acceptable for them, but it's not acceptable to me so I'm not going to do it" Once you apply any personal morals to someone else, you are no longer a relativist.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by crashfrog, posted 05-16-2003 8:14 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by crashfrog, posted 05-20-2003 2:25 PM Majorsmiley has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 284 (40769)
05-20-2003 2:25 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Majorsmiley
05-20-2003 12:52 PM


Uh no, relativism would say "that's acceptable for them, but it's not acceptable to me so I'm not going to do it" Once you apply any personal morals to someone else, you are no longer a relativist.

Um, I think you're confusing moral relativism with a straw man, likely propagated by your church or something.

Anyway, in my example, it was the society itself who was determining their own morals. I wasn't applying my personal morality, just demonstration how moral relativism lets one do the right thing without being straitjacketed by inconsistent, authoritarian beliefs. It doesn't mean there's no right and wrong; moral relativism means that societites determine their own morals. I'm free to judge their morals based on the practical results, not on their agreement with my god or whatever.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Majorsmiley, posted 05-20-2003 12:52 PM Majorsmiley has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by Majorsmiley, posted 05-20-2003 5:56 PM crashfrog has responded

  
Paul
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 284 (40776)
05-20-2003 3:15 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Mister Pamboli
05-16-2003 8:39 PM


Can you give some examples of this? Can you point us to any cultures which practice genital mutilitation or slavery

http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/femgen/fgm1.htm#a3

http://www.anti-slavery.com/today/background/world-map.htm

Governor John Hammond in 1853 wrote in Slavery is not a sin:

Would you have an example that would be a little more current?... As you would know, Hammond's pro slavery argument came in the middle of a failing political career and was a much needed tool in his rise to the United States Senate in 1857. With close to 400,000 slaves in South Carolina at that time, his stance helped to secure that seat.

As well, where in my post did I say salvery was a sin?

Mr. P are you saying that you do in fact believe in God and are willing to use his word to justify certain things? If so, I must admit that your approach in this forum is sometimes confusing. Please refrain from using these outdated examples and stay on topic. "God said it was ok" doesn't cut it at the moment, and of course for you, if a non-believer, shouldn't at any time.

For the world to survive and societies to exist and intertwine in the centuries ahead, a global core set of values must be adopted. The many abhoring, and some dangerous, customs of many societies practiced under the claim of "cultural variation", must come to a stop in our modern world.

The choice to be a servant is an individuals right. Forcing someone to serve, or do anything, against their will or what is right, is wrong.

Right is not always in the folkways. Long live ideal values.

Respectfully, Paul


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Mister Pamboli, posted 05-16-2003 8:39 PM Mister Pamboli has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by crashfrog, posted 05-20-2003 4:03 PM Paul has not yet responded
 Message 10 by Mister Pamboli, posted 05-20-2003 4:14 PM Paul has not yet responded
 Message 11 by Percy, posted 05-20-2003 4:36 PM Paul has not yet responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 284 (40780)
05-20-2003 4:03 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Paul
05-20-2003 3:15 PM


As well, where in my post did I say salvery was a sin?

You lumped it in with female genital mutilation, so we just assumed. Unless you hold FGM up as acceptable, moral behavior? It does seem to happen most frequently (according to the links you provided, which I don't dispute) in cultures who are the most morally absolutist.

For the world to survive and societies to exist and intertwine in the centuries ahead, a global core set of values must be adopted. The many abhoring, and some dangerous, customs of many societies practiced under the claim of "cultural variation", must come to a stop in our modern world.

See, as a relativist, I can agree with this. But as a relativist I don't believe we need some absolute moral authority to dictate those terms - especially if there's no reason to believe that authority even exists. Humans are more than capable of coming to a consensus of acceptable behavior that promotes the freedom and dignity of all to the greatest degree possible. In this country, we call this process "democracy".

[This message has been edited by crashfrog, 05-20-2003]


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Paul, posted 05-20-2003 3:15 PM Paul has not yet responded

  
Mister Pamboli
Member (Idle past 5866 days)
Posts: 634
From: Washington, USA
Joined: 12-10-2001


Message 10 of 284 (40781)
05-20-2003 4:14 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Paul
05-20-2003 3:15 PM


I notice you truncated my question. It was ...

Can you point us to any cultures which practice genital mutilitation or slavery and which also believe that moral standards are grounded only in social custom?

Giving examples of cultures which practice genital mutilation or slavery only covers the first clause, with which I imagine no reasonably well-informed person could disagree anyway. For now, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and regard it an oversight. I am still waiting for an example of a society where moral standards are grounded only in social custom and where these customs are practised.

quote:
As well, where in my post did I say salvery was a sin?
You didn't, nor did I suggest you had. You claimed that moral relativism makes it very convenient for some of the worlds cultures to practice slavery.

My challenge was to show that this is not true. My quotation gave a counter example - moral relativism being claimed as an enemy of slavery and moral absolutism as a doctrine that made it convenient to practice the custom.

quote:
Mr. P are you saying that you do in fact believe in God and are willing to use his word to justify certain things? If so, I must admit that your approach in this forum is sometimes confusing.
I address each issue as it arises examples or counterexamples, and lines of reasoning as appropriate. I am not here to publish a personal credo, but I suspect its outlines may be discerned here and there.
quote:
Please refrain from using these outdated examples and stay on topic.
Outdated examples? You think an example from a phase of history which, to this very day, has deep social repercussions, is out of date?

Off topic? How can it be off topic to attack your unsupported claims by providing disproving evidence? Or is it just off topic to disagree with you?

quote:
"God said it was ok" doesn't cut it at the moment, and of course for you, if a non-believer, shouldn't at any time.
I'm confused. Did you think I was quoting the odious Hammond in order to support him? You could hardly be more wrong.

Follow this carefully ...

You claimed that moral relativism made it convenient to practice slavery.

I quoted Hammond to show that the opposite is true - that in a real society, really practising slavery, moral relativism was seen as inconvenient to slavery. It's opposite, moral absolutism, was held to support it.

Got it?

quote:
For the world to survive and societies to exist and intertwine in the centuries ahead, a global core set of values must be adopted.
Why?
And who would be defining the global core set? You?
quote:
The many abhoring, and some dangerous, customs of many societies practiced under the claim of "cultural variation", must come to a stop in our modern world.
What are you talking about? What is practised under a claim of cultural variation?

I would have thought slavery and genital mutilation, to take your favourite examples, were practised under a claim of cultural invariation. People often do these things because they believe they are sanctioned by a core set of values, generally God-given, frequently absolute. The last thing social traditionalists typically want is people coming in to their society from outside and creating a confusion of values.

quote:
The choice to be a servant is an individuals right. Forcing someone to serve, or do anything, against their will or what is right, is wrong.
Sounds very sensible. I wish more Christians agreed with you.
quote:
Right is not always in the folkways. Long live ideal values.
I have no idea what this means.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Paul, posted 05-20-2003 3:15 PM Paul has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Rrhain, posted 05-22-2003 6:24 AM Mister Pamboli has responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 18875
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 11 of 284 (40782)
05-20-2003 4:36 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Paul
05-20-2003 3:15 PM


Paul writes:

Governor John Hammond in 1853 wrote in Slavery is not a sin:

Would you have an example that would be a little more current?... As you would know, Hammond's pro slavery argument came in the middle of a failing political career and was a much needed tool in his rise to the United States Senate in 1857. With close to 400,000 slaves in South Carolina at that time, his stance helped to secure that seat.

Aren't the timeframe and Hammond's political rationale beside the point? Your claim was that moral relativism makes it convenient for some cultures to justify such evils as slavery, and Mister Pamboli was only providing an example of how easy it is for moral absolutism to do the same.

What this illustrates is the ingenuity of man in using his underlying beliefs to justify whatever he feels needs justifying, be it slavery, genocide, torture, theft, etc. There certainly seem no grounds to conclude that either relativism or absolutism lead inevitably to evil.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
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Majorsmiley
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 284 (40795)
05-20-2003 5:56 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by crashfrog
05-20-2003 2:25 PM


quote:
Um, I think you're confusing moral relativism with a straw man, likely propagated by your church or something.

Your speculative and snide remarks undermine and inhibit your credibility. I suggest you refrain if you want to be taken seriously.

quote:
Anyway, in my example, it was the society itself who was determining their own morals. I wasn't applying my personal morality, just demonstration how moral relativism lets one do the right thing without being straitjacketed by inconsistent, authoritarian beliefs. It doesn't mean there's no right and wrong; moral relativism means that societites determine their own morals. I'm free to judge their morals based on the practical results, not on their agreement with my god or whatever.

You can use any example you want but the premise remains the same. Based on relativism in a society you cannot say that such things as slavery, apartheid, communism,imperialism,or killing baby girls is wrong. You cannot make judgements against societies. You have to remain neutral like Switzerland.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by crashfrog, posted 05-20-2003 2:25 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by crashfrog, posted 05-20-2003 6:55 PM Majorsmiley has responded
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 284 (40809)
05-20-2003 6:55 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Majorsmiley
05-20-2003 5:56 PM


Your speculative and snide remarks undermine and inhibit your credibility. I suggest you refrain if you want to be taken seriously.

Weak, dude. Let me ask you then - what research did you do to determine the actual beliefs and positions of moral relativists? Or did somebody just tell you what "moral relativism" means? My church did the same to me, so I hazarded a guess.

No matter who misinformed you (or if you came up with it yourself), you're in error about what moral relativism means. it simply means that there is no absolute source of morals. It says nothing about my ability to judge the morals of others.

Let me ask you this - why would any reasonable person advance a view that any and all activites, no matter their harm to persons, are acceptable? But of course, from your tone I imagine you don't believe any moral relativists to be reasonable people. If you're going to argue straw men it's your credibility that is on the line, not mine.

You cannot make judgements against societies. You have to remain neutral like Switzerland.

To the contrary. You're laboring under a major misapprehension of moral relativism. It simply says that there is no absolute source of moral codes. That doesn't mean that there are no universal moral codes. It just means it's meaningless to say that "my morals are universal because they're from god."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Majorsmiley, posted 05-20-2003 5:56 PM Majorsmiley has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Majorsmiley, posted 05-22-2003 1:31 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 98 by joshua221, posted 11-21-2003 7:13 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 99 by joshua221, posted 11-21-2003 7:14 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

  
Mister Pamboli
Member (Idle past 5866 days)
Posts: 634
From: Washington, USA
Joined: 12-10-2001


Message 14 of 284 (40812)
05-20-2003 7:01 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Majorsmiley
05-20-2003 5:56 PM


quote:
You can use any example you want but the premise remains the same. Based on relativism in a society you cannot say that such things as slavery, apartheid, communism,imperialism,or killing baby girls is wrong. You cannot make judgements against societies.
The trouble with this line of argument is, ironically, that moral relativism is rarely absolute. Many people have a strong morality of absolutes, and a much more relativistic view of issues which fall outwith those absolutes.

On further examination those absolutes may themselves be subject to secondary qualifying relativistic judgements. For example, I may strongly object to killing new born children, but support the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima, but only support nuclear attacks in pursuance of a just war, and only define a just war in terms of ... yadayadayada ... we are back to moral relativism.

Much moral relativism originates from the belief that such secondary qualifications are inevitable in any supposedly absolute moral code - and from the supposed observation that no society has actually managed to sustain an absolute moral code without such qualifications, and that such qualifications are themselves relativistic.

For example, with the exception of a number of absolutist pacifists, most Christians hold a highly qualified view of the injunction of Jesus to resist no evil. The interpretation of what this means will typically be highly relativistic, based on social and cultural traditions amongst other things.

There remains a third way which has been ignored here to an extent, which is the possibility of a meta-ethical stance. There are aspects of this in the Bible, of course, as in Jesus enunciation of the Golden Rule "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Such meta-ethical positions, including Kant's categorical imperative, bridge the gap to a certain extent between moral relativism and moral absolutism.

As for judging societies, I'm not sure how it could be done, except in informal chat, as societies are themselves complex, ever changing, emergent properties of the interactions of individuals.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Majorsmiley, posted 05-20-2003 5:56 PM Majorsmiley has not yet responded

  
Rrhain
Member (Idle past 161 days)
Posts: 6349
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 15 of 284 (40981)
05-22-2003 6:24 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Mister Pamboli
05-20-2003 4:14 PM


Mister Pamboli asks:

quote:
Can you point us to any cultures which practice genital mutilitation or slavery and which also believe that moral standards are grounded only in social custom?

Would you accept the United States? We know that it, as a culture, practices genital mutilation, but I'm not sure if you would agree that it believes that moral standards are grounded only in social custom (though with the appropriate caveat "that moral relativism is rarely absolute," as you state in a later post.) It would seem to come close, but I'm not sure what you would accept as a country that engages in "moral relativism."

------------------
Rrhain
WWJD? JWRTFM!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Mister Pamboli, posted 05-20-2003 4:14 PM Mister Pamboli has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Mister Pamboli, posted 05-22-2003 12:17 PM Rrhain has responded

    
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