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Author Topic:   A critique of moral relativism
Modulous
Member (Idle past 95 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 1 of 219 (411016)
07-18-2007 2:12 PM


Since the issue of moral relativity has been brought up on several threads it might be about time to have a thread dedicated to it.
As a disclaimer, it was about 10 years ago since I took a course on ethics at university, and it wasn't massively in depth so the information I present here can mostly be found on wikipedia with a little memory thrown in for good measure.

What is moral relativism, anyway?

principle source
There are differing concepts which can all be called moral relativism. They all share the central idea that morality can vary, that there can be different moral answers depending on time, society and individuals.
Descriptive relativism is essentially that. It simply points out that there is a diversity of moral judgement across time, societies and individuals - as such there is no objective moral truth.
Meta-ethical relativism suggests that since there is no objective standard by which to assess the truth of a moral proposition, right and wrong can only be judged against the standards of the society or individual preference. Slavery is wrong relative to our standards, but it is right relative to the standards of some villages in 17th Century Africa.
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy writes:
They deny that moral values and principles constitute an irreducible part of the fabric of the world and argue that morality is best explained on the theory that it arises at least in part from custom and convention. On Wong's view (1984), for example, a good part of morality arises out of the need to structure and regulate social cooperation and to resolve conflicts of interest. Meta-ethical relativism is true because there is no single valid way to structure social cooperation.
Cultural relativism is just where morality is judged relative to the culture within which the moral question arises.
Individual relativism is as above only from the individual's point of view (does he find his own actions right or wrong).
Normative relativism makes statements about what should be morally right. An example of normative relativism is that a person should not judge the morality of another culture using the moral standards of his own.

Problems and their solutions

The first problem with moral relativism is straight forward: one cannot apply it to determine a moral course of action. i.e., there is no such thing as applied relativism. One can apply relativism in a sense, but I'm not sure on its validity. Take the example of 'would you kill one man to save 10 others?' Applying relativism might lead us thus: 'killing a man is wrong in my culture and not saving 10 men is considered less wrong unless we are in a self defence situation. We aren't in the latter so I should let them die according to my culture. what about me? What do I think? Hmm, my personal morality conflicts with societies, perhaps I should seek to change the laws of society to make it illegal to not save lives if doing so is not dangerous.' It isn't a system that can provide answers which are objectively true - but obviously the point of relativism.
Another issue to tackle is normative relativism which leads to a principle of non-interference. The solution to this problem is less easy, and involves proposing an exception clause: that is to say - interference between cultures is acceptable if their morality conflict.
Applied relativism can't be used here; there is no way to use relativism to determine if any given conflict warrants intervention.

Moral relativism and bestiality

Finally - the issue that has come up so many times. Let us look at relativism and how it might make a decision on bestiality baring in mind what was said above.
If a society exists which performs a monthly ritual of sex with dogs, what is moral relativism's response to that? We cannot say it is morally wrong without giving a reference point. It is right relative to its own standards of right and wrong relative to mine. On the other hand we can make a judgement on the practice of bestiality ourselves by using applied ethics of another variety.

Summary

The most important thing about moral relativity is that it cannot really be used to determine if a certain act is definitely moral or immoral. Other moral systems need to be used if one wishes to engage in applied ethics to reach a single answer. All moral relativity can conclude is 'according to his society, or to himself, or to whatever, he was morally correct.' or 'according to himself he was engaging in a moral crusade to change society, but the rest of his society considered his actions entirely immoral'.
The biggest fundamental flaw in criticising moral relativism is found here. One cannot criticise it for not being able to make a definite moral judgement because that is the whole point of it! Something is only moral relative to some non-objective standard and can be immoral relative to some other non-objective standard. If you need to make a definite moral one needs to examine other methods of applied ethics.
A person who is a moral relativist is not somebody who applies relative ethics to a moral problem or to decide one single moral course of action. A moral relativist is someone who does not believe there is more than one way to structure a society and thus determine its morals. They are someone who accepts there are differing methods of applied ethics and concludes that there is no way to determine the truth of any of them. Moral relativity can be used to show a culture that is engaging in an act which is immoral relative to its own claimed system of applied ethics (slavery can be shown to be immoral in the US by pointing to the Bill of Rights as the conclusions of the applied ethics of the culture).
The contrast is moral absolutism, which rejects there are multiple valid ways of regulating the interaction of people and that there exists somewhere one and only one perfect system of regulation, only one moral code that has any validity whatsoever.
If promoted I'd think 'Faith and belief' or 'Comparative religions' are the most relevant places. Another place for this kind of discussion might simply be 'The Coffee House'. I'll let someone else make that call though
If anyone can put forward a more rounded case for applied relativism, I'd be happy to hear it.

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AdminNem
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 219 (411045)
07-18-2007 4:15 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 219 (411067)
07-18-2007 6:02 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Modulous
07-18-2007 2:12 PM


Propositional truth
The most important thing about moral relativity is that it cannot really be used to determine if a certain act is definitely moral or immoral. Other moral systems need to be used if one wishes to engage in applied ethics to reach a single answer. All moral relativity can conclude is 'according to his society, or to himself, or to whatever, he was morally correct.' or 'according to himself he was engaging in a moral crusade to change society, but the rest of his society considered his actions entirely immoral'.
The biggest fundamental flaw in criticising moral relativism is found here. One cannot criticise it for not being able to make a definite moral judgement because that is the whole point of it!
Its either by design or sheer coincidence that I stumbled onto a sermon concerning the very subject we are having. Incidentally, one of his chief criticism's about moral relativism is that "culture" is used as sort of a catch-all scapegoat for never anchoring down to any concrete beliefs concerning morality.
If you will all oblige me by listening to it, I think you'll see that whether you ultimately agree with his and my premise, the point is still a legitimate one. Without a foundation, without a reference point, there is no coherence.
Disclaimer: Please disregard the cheesy opening
if the foundations be destroyed
A person who is a moral relativist is not somebody who applies relative ethics to a moral problem or to decide one single moral course of action. A moral relativist is someone who does not believe there is more than one way to structure a society and thus determine its morals.
On paper they say this. In theory, they say this. But they cannot reconcile the fact that they all have their own presuppositions about what is moral and what isn't, all the while saying that you can't really define it!
Its a sleight of hand maneuver that gives with one hand, and takes back what it initially gave with the other.
The one thing I've noticed that an avowed moral relativist will not touch with a ten foot pole, (even though they admit it in a roundabout way), is that if there are no absolute morals, then it all boils down to opinion. And if culture defines these opinions, then are we entitled to say that another culture is wrong for their opinion? Isn't that what wars are fought over??? The relativity of it? Isn't that there where strife and enmity come in?
One culture is saying that you cannot starve your people because it is so tragically immoral, where the other says, who are you interfere in the affairs of our culture? And each side is moralizing, appealing to the other in hopes that they will acquiesce to some sort of UNIVERSAL standard that we should all know and adhere to without rebuttle.
The contrast is moral absolutism, which rejects there are multiple valid ways of regulating the interaction of people and that there exists somewhere one and only one perfect system of regulation, only one moral code that has any validity whatsoever.
"I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father but by Me." -Yeshua
I'm not asking you to believe that Jesus is that way, truth, or life just yet. But think about it another context. There is only one way to solve a theorem in mathematics... The right way. 1 + 1 will never = 42. The only way it could be as such is if you redefine what 1 + 1 even means. That, in my best estimation, is moral relativism in a nutshell. It redefines the foundational so that it can justify itself with the propositional.
Up can only mean down when you redefine what up and down means. Black can only mean white when you redefine what black and white is.
But, like I've said earlier, I can think of no way to empirically prove which morals are absolute anymore than I can prove, empirically, the existence of God. And that is my conundrum. I have agonized over the problem for many years now. I am willing to cede that point with deference. The only thing I can do is show that, philosophically, there is no meaning without their absolution. And perhaps, if we were to all be debating honestly, for a relativist this may be their agonizing plight that they can't get around.
Ravi makes a good point in that message. The fundamental question, the basic questions that we all strive to answer, are the hardest. Its the details that we're good at answering. But as the adage goes, the devil is in the details.

"The problem of Christianity is not that it has been tried and found wanting, but that it is difficult and left untried" -G.K. Chesterton

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Modulous, posted 07-18-2007 2:12 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
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PaulK
Member
Posts: 17852
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 4 of 219 (411075)
07-18-2007 6:44 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Hyroglyphx
07-18-2007 6:02 PM


Re: Propositional truth
You really need to consider the range of views that you call "moral relativism" far more carefully.
For instance there is nothing contradictory in holding that morals are subjective and holding moral views. So you cannot criticise everyone who rejects moral absolutism in the same way.
Further since you admit that for practical purposes moral subjectivism is true - whatever the absolute reality will be - any insistence that subjectivism is inadequate is tantamount to a rejection of morality. It is is strange that the people who insist most strongly that there is an absolute morality tend to be those most keen to pull down morality but in my experience it is true. And your posts are just another example.
Your example of mathematics is another one that in the end undermines your case. Mathematics is governed by strict rules, but those rules are human creations. They are not absolutes. You could any set of mathematically expressible axioms you like and still do valid mathematics. It might not be worthwhile or interesting mathematics but it would be valid. Redefining addition is bad only because the notation becomes confusing not because it violates an absolute.
quote:
That, in my best estimation, is moral relativism in a nutshell. It redefines the foundational so that it can justify itself with the propositional.
Then I have to say that your best estimate is completely out of touch with reality and displays a complete lack of understanding of the issues. There IS no generally accepted foundation of morality TO redefine - that is one of the fundamental problems of morality. At most you can say is that some choose definitions that you disagree with.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-18-2007 6:02 PM Hyroglyphx has not replied

  
Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 219 (411077)
07-18-2007 6:53 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Modulous
07-18-2007 2:12 PM


One clown's take on the issue.
Hi, Mod.
I'm not sure where I fit into your classification scheme. Here is the way I see it:
The problem for those advocating the idea of an absolute standard of morality is that they never really define what the term "morality" means in a way that allows the concept of "absolute standard" to make sense.
Morality is, ultimately, the determination that some actions are "right" and others are "wrong". But "right" and "wrong" are subjective terms, depending on the feelings of the one making the judgement. Even allowing that some Demi-urge might have an opinion about what is right or wrong doesn't change the subjective nature of the concept -- it merely means that one being, no more or less a moral actor than anyone else, has more power to enforce her opinions on others. Perhaps one can define "right" and "wrong" without reference to the opinions of any particular being, but I haven't seen it yet.
Now, one could consider "right" and "wrong" to be primitive concepts, to borrow a phrase from axiomatic mathematics, that is, words that cannot be defined themselves because they are introduced at the beginning of the axiomatic framework and so there are no other terms yet by which to define them. Like the axioms in an axiomatic theory, they are simply accepted because they make sense, and, in this case, it is assumed that people understand to what the terms refer.
Unfortunately, I don't understand what the terms refer to. Whenever I try to understand what an absolute standard for morality can mean, my thoughts get turned around. It appears to me that the phrase itself is without meaning. At least I have never been able to formulate a meaning (or even an undefinable concept), nor has anyone else's attempt ever made much sense to me. That could just be my problem, except then any argument based on concepts that I don't understand will be unpersuasive, and so the person making the argument will be wasting her time (and, presumably, that is a problem for her if she wants to convince me of something).
The best that I have ever seen as definition is some sort of "Karmic Law" kind of thing. That is, there are some sort of natural laws in the universe, and a person's actions will have effects on herself and/or others. But this seems to be very different from the concept of morality that I believe that most of us hold: it is all very good to avoid certain actions and persue others because of the effects of those actions. But if one is avoiding unpleasant effects and seeking pleasant ones, then one is acting in one's own self-interest, which is not what most of us think of when we think of morality. If one simply must prefer some actions over others, then one has just begged the question, since now we have to ask why we should prefer some outcomes over other.
The law of gravity is another principle whereby actions can produce effects in the world. However, no one reasonably tries to make judgements base on this: no one, for example, says that one has a moral obligation to not fly in airplanes, nor does anyone feel that it is immoral for people to deliberately flaunt the law of gravity by engaging in "Xtreme" recreational activities, even though there is the possibility of unpleasant consequences in those cases as well.
The only way that I can think of to sensibly define morality is through the subjective feelings of the observers. Then, "absolute standard for morality" becomes like "four-sided triangle" -- it becomes a nonsensical phrase simply because of the definition itself.

Q: If science doesn't know where this comes from, then couldn't it be God's doing?
A: The only difference between that kind of thinking and the stereotype of the savage who thinks the Great White Hunter is a God because he doesn't know how the hunter's cigarette lighter works is that the savage has an excuse for his ignorance. -- jhuger

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Modulous, posted 07-18-2007 2:12 PM Modulous has not replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 95 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 6 of 219 (411081)
07-18-2007 7:07 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Hyroglyphx
07-18-2007 6:02 PM


Re: Propositional truth
Incidentally, one of his chief criticism's about moral relativism is that "culture" is used as sort of a catch-all scapegoat for never anchoring down to any concrete beliefs concerning morality.
Moral relativism holds that there are no concrete conclusions of morality, so why would moral relativism ever try to 'anchor' one? Culture is not a scapegoat or 'rationale' (as he puts it) it is a reference point. One compares an act to the morality of something else. It might cultural morality, morality of a business, or whatever. One can then conclude 'this act was moral according to the morality of this culture/business etc'.
That's all it is.
If you will all oblige me by listening to it, I think you'll see that whether you ultimately agree with his and my premise, the point is still a legitimate one.
I'll listen to the rest later, but from what I have heard it sounds like the same misunderstanding of moral relativism I described and debunked in the OP.
In theory, they say this. But they cannot reconcile the fact that they all have their own presuppositions about what is moral and what isn't, all the while saying that you can't really define it!
Obviously they have moral presuppositions! Moral relativism can be used to judge these the moral conclusions people have derived from applied ethics based on these presuppositions, relative to some moral standard. Say: the standard of morality in the prevailing culture.
The one thing I've noticed that an avowed moral relativist will not touch with a ten foot pole, (even though they admit it in a roundabout way), is that if there are no absolute morals, then it all boils down to opinion. And if culture defines these opinions, then are we entitled to say that another culture is wrong for their opinion? Isn't that what wars are fought over??? The relativity of it? Isn't that there where strife and enmity come in?
See my comments regarding normative relativism and under the 'problems' section where I touch it not with a ten foot pole but address it using words. If you'd care to respond to that, please do.
I'm not asking you to believe that Jesus is that way, truth, or life just yet. But think about it another context. There is only one way to solve a theorem in mathematics... The right way. 1 + 1 will never = 42. The only way it could be as such is if you redefine what 1 + 1 even means. That, in my best estimation, is moral relativism in a nutshell. It redefines the foundational so that it can justify itself with the propositional.
Moral relativity states that unlike math or logic, there is no way to determine the truth value of a statement such as 'Stealing cars is morally wrong'. We can only compare this to the morality of other things. See how this moral statement stands relative to the moral statement of a culture or society etc. Like the theory of relativity reminds us that we cannot state the speed of an object without first defining a frame of reference (what are we saying it is moving relative to?).
But, like I've said earlier, I can think of no way to empirically prove which morals are absolute anymore than I can prove, empirically, the existence of God. And that is my conundrum. I have agonized over the problem for many years now. I am willing to cede that point with deference. The only thing I can do is show that, philosophically, there is no meaning without their absolution. And perhaps, if we were to all be debating honestly, for a relativist this may be their agonizing plight that they can't get around.
And then you are stuck with another conundrum - how can we be sure there is meaning? To determine what is right or wrong, a relativist can use applied ethics from some other moral philosophy and he can then compare his conclusions with the conclusions of other moral philosophies. Without knowing which one is correct we cannot know which moral philosophy has arrived at the correct conclusion. We can make a judgement call (opinion) on which moral philosophies are better for making a decision on the moral course of action, but that is the best we can do.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-18-2007 6:02 PM Hyroglyphx has not replied

  
Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 219 (411084)
07-18-2007 7:14 PM


Answering Jazzns from another thread
How can something both be arbitray and yet also "not haphazardly chosen"?
To me, when you have a REASON for something, that negates it as arbitrary.
Your point is well taken. Arbitrary is not a good word to elucidate the meaning I had in my mind. "Consent" is very intentionally chosen for you. In the same way, "God's law" is very deliberate for me, not some arbitrary rule I chose at random.
How is it that examining our world and noticing that consent is a valid frameword to build rules for a stable society an arbitrary decision? That is what I feel you have yet to coherently support.
Then we are finally in agreement, after much clarification, that arbitrary is not the word I intend to use. What I meant was that you use consent as a basis for the conditional response. Very well then. Did it ever occur to though that by doing so, you are supplanting one absolute in the stead of another, and inadvertently end up in the same place?
You are saying that it is immoral to have sex with someone without their consent. Surely, I agree. But tell me: Do you mean that absolutely?
As well, I have given you numerous instances where, whether consent exists or not, doesn't remove the moral issue. If you sleep with your mother, is it morally good to do so? The answer I received was that the biological implications are what make it bad. I then upped the ante and asked the same question: If you sleep with your father's wife consensually, who is not biologically related to you, does it then become morally acceptable to do so?
I don't consider relative morality to be subjective.
Then is it objective by default?
Relative morality is simply means that a particular morality cannot be determined until you know all the circumstances of the situation.
Is murder right or wrong?
You don't need the conditions in order to answer it. And when you reply, should I expect an absolute answer, or a relative one?
Looking at the definition of relative, I cannot see any way you can equate it with subjectivity. Maybe that is why these conversations you have had with myself, among others, have never been very productive.
In what way, then, would they have been productive? And will your answer be relative to your understand of me, or am I absolutely inane?
The differences that people are talking about are along the lines of:
Absolute morality says X is always wrong.
Relative morality says X is wrong unless ...
That's my understanding of it as well.
Variable X = Murder.
      Relativists may end up having to play a game of semantics in order to get around the inescapable question. Rather than answering the question as is, (because it would undermine their entire premise), they will argue over what constitutes murder. But that's not the question.
      I also think you are trying to argue from the perspective that I think there is no such thing as an absolute morality. That is not true. There may be an absolute from which all the rest of our relative morality stemms. The concept of consent may be a piece of that absolute morality.
      Would you agree that it must have come to be outside of ourselves in order for it to be absolute?
      If there is such a thing as an absolute morality, humanity has not found it. At the very least, it is ill-defined.
      Well, I believe we have found it. But if you've read what I've recently written, I have no way of proving it. So in this way, we are in agreement.
      if homosexuality is moral and you were restricting the rights of homosexuals. That would make you a bigot. It might even make you a bigot even if homosexuality was wrong. I don't think people much care about the preferences of other people except when those preferences manifest themselves in ways that hurt other people.
      I agree. To me, despising someone for being immoral is immoral in itself. Moreover, its hypocritical because we are all immoral, in our own way, if you will momentarily lend credence to the Judeo-Christian ethic.
      It may be true when the day is done that it IS wrong yet STILL is less wrong than beastiality.
      I don't know if there are levels of sin. I realize that, we, as human beings categorize everything. And in many case we use others as a reference to how righteous we are. We may find ourselves thinking, "Well, Jeffrey Dahmer is bad because he killed and ate people. I've never done that, so obviously I'm not as bad as he is." But I wonder if that's faulty thinking. Are we just exonerating the things we are guilty of by promoting this kind of rationale?
      The problem remember is with your comparisons. People are claiming that they are invalid. That is the issue.
      Who sets the rule on that?
      Why can't I question homosexuality on the same moral grounds as beastiality, if its all just relative anyway?
      Why must someone object to that, positing that animal sexuality and human sexuality are two totally different things, but then turn around and cite scientific sources that show that homosexuality exists naturally in the wild?
      How can someone supplant my position, while foisting the other as a brilliant response, when it inexorably contradicts itself?

      "The problem of Christianity is not that it has been tried and found wanting, but that it is difficult and left untried" -G.K. Chesterton

      Replies to this message:
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      bluegenes
      Member (Idle past 2588 days)
      Posts: 3119
      From: U.K.
      Joined: 01-24-2007


      Message 8 of 219 (411098)
      07-18-2007 10:03 PM
      Reply to: Message 7 by Hyroglyphx
      07-18-2007 7:14 PM


      Re: Answering Jazzns from another thread
      nemesis writes:
      Variable X = Murder.
      1. Absolute Morality says X is always wrong.
      2. Relative Morality says X is wrong unless...
      Numbers 15: Verses 32-36
      quote:
      32And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
      33And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
      34And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
      35And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
      36And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.
      I thought this example might help you understand moral relativism.
      If you were to stone someone to death for collecting firewood on a Sunday in the modern U.S.A., you would receive either a life sentence or a death sentence for murder.
      On a Saturday, a few thousand years ago in a semi-barbaric culture in the middle-east, it might be considered that you had done the right thing, and that the firewood collector had committed a henious crime.
      Different moralities for different cultures.
      Only a superstitious fool would try and apply the rules directly from this ancient culture to a modern western one.
      Some fools do try and do it, of course. In reference to homosexuality, for example.
      Edited by bluegenes, : typo!

      This message is a reply to:
       Message 7 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-18-2007 7:14 PM Hyroglyphx has replied

      Replies to this message:
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      iceage 
      Suspended Member (Idle past 6025 days)
      Posts: 1024
      From: Pacific Northwest
      Joined: 09-08-2003


      Message 9 of 219 (411104)
      07-18-2007 10:43 PM
      Reply to: Message 7 by Hyroglyphx
      07-18-2007 7:14 PM


      Re: Answering Jazzns from another thread
      NJ writes:
      Variable X = Murder.
      1. Absolute Morality says X is always wrong.
      2. Relative Morality says X is wrong unless...
      Bluegenes beat me to it.
      Fundamentalist Christians become confirmed moral relativists as soon as you get them to explain and defend the atrocities of the OT.

      This message is a reply to:
       Message 7 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-18-2007 7:14 PM Hyroglyphx has not replied

        
      Jazzns
      Member (Idle past 4022 days)
      Posts: 2657
      From: A Better America
      Joined: 07-23-2004


      Message 10 of 219 (411116)
      07-18-2007 11:59 PM
      Reply to: Message 7 by Hyroglyphx
      07-18-2007 7:14 PM


      Re: Answering Jazzns from another thread
      Did it ever occur to though that by doing so, you are supplanting one absolute in the stead of another, and inadvertently end up in the same place?
      Perhaps it is an absolute and perhaps is not. It is unclear. I feel we can use it in this circumstance because we have evidence that it has been tried and worked in others.
      Consent is not (necessarily) some mystical pillar of some larger absolute framework. It just simply is evidently useful for structuring successful societies.
      The real take home point of my last few tries expressing that idea is that notion of evidence. It may very well be that the very evidence is manifest because of an absolute, but that would have to be demonstrated not just claimed.
      As well, I have given you numerous instances where, whether consent exists or not, doesn't remove the moral issue.
      As much as I would like to keep the discussion in general terms, I think it is important to address your examples since you have raised them more than once now.
      I think the main issues with the case of sleeping with your step-mother would have to do with additional external conditions that are pertinent to THIS circumstances that are not necessarily so with regards to a comparison between different types of sexuality. One that comes to mind immediately would be the simple condition that your step-mother, in order to even be called your step-mother, would have had to agreed to a social contract with your father and would be in breech of that social contract if she slept with you.
      Just adding in that ONE external condition, we can conclude that it is at least immoral for her to sleep with you. Other conditions that are seemingly obvious would apply to reach the conclusion that it is also wrong for you to sleep with her. We can enumerate them, but it is sufficient for the purposes of this argument to say that they exist.
      Then is it objective by default?
      Sure. Why not? If two people are operating from the same external conditions, why could they not both come to the same objective moral conclusion? The issue I think with moral relativism is simply that not everyone operates with the same conditions. In society, we remedy this possible conflict in situations that are relevant to a stable society by penning common conditions into law.
      Is murder right or wrong?
      You don't need the conditions in order to answer it. And when you reply, should I expect an absolute answer, or a relative one?
      Murder has built into it all the conditions you need. From Merriam-Webster:
      1. the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought
      So yes. Murder is objectively and relativistically wrong. The problem is complicated as it depends on your condition that "crime", "unlawful", and "malice" are wrong. Those MIGHT be absolute in the sense that consent is. But it sill means that murder is relative to those.
      Like I said. There very well may be some absolute out there and we may be touching on pieces of it. I think the point to consider is that the absolutes are probably far more basic principles rather than higher level constructs such as "homosexuality is always wrong".
      Would you agree that it must have come to be outside of ourselves in order for it to be absolute?
      I have my opinion, but I don't think that the question can really be answered objectively. It may be that they are simply inherent properties of our universe akin to the laws of nature.
      Well, I believe we have found it. But if you've read what I've recently written, I have no way of proving it. So in this way, we are in agreement.
      That is okay with me! I have no problem with someone claiming that they have personally found what they believe to be the absolute morality. I just happen to think that it is highly debatable that it comes from the Bible, or any religion for that matter.
      Why can't I question homosexuality on the same moral grounds as beastiality, if its all just relative anyway?
      It is all relative but you seem to continually forget that it is relative to "something". You also seem to think that consent is a good thing to fill in as that "something". I just still don't understand the problem of why you seem to continually retreat to outlining the morality without the conditions. Even when those conditions are explicitly a part of BEING a relative moral BY DEFINITION! You cannot have a relative morality without external conditions or else it could not be "relative" TO anything. It just doesn't make any sense.
      Why must someone object to that, positing that animal sexuality and human sexuality are two totally different things, but then turn around and cite scientific sources that show that homosexuality exists naturally in the wild?
      You are very obviously conflating two different arguments. There is the argument that homosexuality is immoral and there is another argument that homosexuality is unnatural.
      It is easy to point to homosexuality in nature to rebut the claim that it is unnatural (we are talking same-species action here). The point where consent is brought into the picture is when you drag up the canard that the morality can't be defined between human-on-animal and human-on-human sex. They are two separate criticisms of homosexuality.
      How can someone supplant my position, while foisting the other as a brilliant response, when it inexorably contradicts itself?
      I don't see the contradiction because I don't see how the issues are the same. We seem to have had some success taking a step back and looking at some of our terminology here but I think that in order to get your point across you are going to have to phrase it in a different way.
      Regardless if it is absolute or derived from evidence like I suggest, we accept consent as a good principle to start with. Do you agree?
      Based on that, there is a vivid distinction between homosexuality and bestiality.
      Let me try to say it in one more way to try to drive home the point.
      Yes, IF you do not consider consent or some other seemingly relevant condition, there is NO justification for differentiating between the two. But nowhere in practical life do we ever ACTUALLY do this. Remember, this all bubbles back up to the claim that homosexuality is immoral. We have real life reasons for dismissing the comparison to bestiality as long as you accept consent. If you happen to believe that consent itself is absolute then I am not going to argue with you about that because I don't think it is a very contentious point. The only thing that matters is that you believe consent is a principle worth honoring however you come to that conclusion.
      You cannot both claim that consent is worth honoring in principle (regardless of a relative versus absolute source) and also hold true to the argument that there is no basis for differentiating homosexuality and bestiality.
      That is why your comparison is continually being challenged.

      Of course, biblical creationists are committed to belief in God's written Word, the Bible, which forbids bearing false witness; --AIG (lest they forget)

      This message is a reply to:
       Message 7 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-18-2007 7:14 PM Hyroglyphx has not replied

        
      jar
      Member
      Posts: 34136
      From: Texas!!
      Joined: 04-20-2004
      Member Rating: 3.3


      Message 11 of 219 (411118)
      07-19-2007 12:23 AM
      Reply to: Message 7 by Hyroglyphx
      07-18-2007 7:14 PM


      immorality is pretty unimportant anyway.
      If you sleep with your father's wife consensually, who is not biologically related to you, does it then become morally acceptable to do so?
      Again, it depends. Is she still in a contractual relationship with her husband? If so then it depends on whether or not all parties consent.
      Is murder right or wrong?
      Again, it depends. It will depend on the exact circumstances of the unique event whether or not it was murder, and even if murder, whether or not it was immoral.
      Immorality is also totally irrelevant except between the individual and that individuals God. Quite frankly, immorality is nobody's business other than the individual.

      Aslan is not a Tame Lion

      This message is a reply to:
       Message 7 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-18-2007 7:14 PM Hyroglyphx has not replied

      Replies to this message:
       Message 18 by Phat, posted 07-19-2007 4:14 AM jar has replied

        
      Modulous
      Member (Idle past 95 days)
      Posts: 7801
      From: Manchester, UK
      Joined: 05-01-2005


      Message 12 of 219 (411142)
      07-19-2007 1:57 AM
      Reply to: Message 7 by Hyroglyphx
      07-18-2007 7:14 PM


      ...regarding issues that are dealt with in the OP
      Is murder right or wrong?
      You don't need the conditions in order to answer it. And when you reply, should I expect an absolute answer, or a relative one?
      If you are discussing the correct formulation of moral relativism you can only get a relative one. Is murder right or wrong relative to what standard of morality? The first snag we find is that what is defined as murder varies from culture to culture.
      Relativists may end up having to play a game of semantics in order to get around the inescapable question. Rather than answering the question as is, (because it would undermine their entire premise), they will argue over what constitutes murder. But that's not the question.
      The relativist appreciates that there are different definitions of murder and whether a given act is murder depends. If we define murder as 'an act of killing which the prevailing society considers immoral' then murder is always immoral since we are defining murder in a relative fashion.
      Why can't I question homosexuality on the same moral grounds as beastiality, if its all just relative anyway?
      What would those same moral grounds be? Can you find a society wherein the rules of moral sexual behaviour would include bother bestiality and homosexuality? If you can, then we can say that relative to that society's standard, they are both moral. On the other hand, you might conclude that in all societies bestiality is considered immoral, but that some small groups consider it moral.
      Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.

      This message is a reply to:
       Message 7 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-18-2007 7:14 PM Hyroglyphx has not replied

        
      Rrhain
      Member (Idle past 118 days)
      Posts: 6351
      From: San Diego, CA, USA
      Joined: 05-03-2003


      Message 13 of 219 (411153)
      07-19-2007 3:33 AM


      Oh, Christ...not again
      Why on earth did homosexuality get brought up? Once again, we see homophobia rearing its ugly head. Once again, nemesis_juggernaut ties homosexuality to an act that has nothing to do with homosexuality, and everybody else goes along with it as if it were perfectly rational to do so.
      Let's try an experiment: Let's discuss the issue of sex between species without making any reference to any other sexual act.
      It is amazing that even though the participants here know that bringing up homosexuality in a discussion about bestiality is nothing more than flame fodder, they continue to do it. One can only speculate as to why.

      Rrhain

      Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

      Replies to this message:
       Message 15 by Modulous, posted 07-19-2007 3:45 AM Rrhain has replied

        
      Rrhain
      Member (Idle past 118 days)
      Posts: 6351
      From: San Diego, CA, USA
      Joined: 05-03-2003


      Message 14 of 219 (411155)
      07-19-2007 3:43 AM
      Reply to: Message 1 by Modulous
      07-18-2007 2:12 PM


      Why is this even a question?
      Everyone is a moral relativist. Everyone.
      The only question is what the parameters of the relativism are.

      Rrhain

      Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

      This message is a reply to:
       Message 1 by Modulous, posted 07-18-2007 2:12 PM Modulous has replied

      Replies to this message:
       Message 16 by Modulous, posted 07-19-2007 3:49 AM Rrhain has replied
       Message 30 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-19-2007 2:31 PM Rrhain has not replied

        
      Modulous
      Member (Idle past 95 days)
      Posts: 7801
      From: Manchester, UK
      Joined: 05-01-2005


      Message 15 of 219 (411156)
      07-19-2007 3:45 AM
      Reply to: Message 13 by Rrhain
      07-19-2007 3:33 AM


      Re: Oh, Christ...not again
      Let's try an experiment: Let's discuss the issue of sex between species without making any reference to any other sexual act.
      The experiment is complete - see the OP where that is done

      This message is a reply to:
       Message 13 by Rrhain, posted 07-19-2007 3:33 AM Rrhain has replied

      Replies to this message:
       Message 20 by Rrhain, posted 07-19-2007 4:28 AM Modulous has replied

        
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