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Author Topic:   A critique of moral relativism
DBlevins
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 652
From: Puyallup, WA.
Joined: 02-04-2003


Message 207 of 219 (567764)
07-02-2010 1:39 PM
Reply to: Message 206 by Rahvin
07-02-2010 11:56 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
quote:
This means that you might have a debate on whether rape or murder is worse, on what punishment is appropriate for a given crime, etc, but basically everyone will agree that both rape and murder are wrong. Today, anyway. Go back 100 years and many things we consider abhorrent today (spousal rape comes to mind) were commonplace and even expected and accepted.

I don't even think you have to go that far into the past. Honor killings...Rape, or sodomy, as punishment for indescretions...Rape as the inherent right of the husband when refused sexual relations...; are all currently considered correct or lawful in many societies today.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 206 by Rahvin, posted 07-02-2010 11:56 AM Rahvin has not yet responded

  
DBlevins
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 652
From: Puyallup, WA.
Joined: 02-04-2003


Message 208 of 219 (567766)
07-02-2010 1:43 PM
Reply to: Message 204 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 11:30 AM


Re: Dredging up the past
One persons moral outlook at some juncture going to be trumped by another.

What do you mean my trumped? Do you mean trumped as in 'rightfully' or 'lawfully' superceded by? Or do you mean trumped by the process of acculturation?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 204 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 11:30 AM Hyroglyphx has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 213 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 2:16 PM DBlevins has responded

  
DBlevins
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 652
From: Puyallup, WA.
Joined: 02-04-2003


Message 210 of 219 (567768)
07-02-2010 1:57 PM
Reply to: Message 209 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 1:46 PM


Re: Dredging up the past
...but if you keep breaking down the motivation for the law, there is some moral attached to it. I do X to prevent Y because Y is wrong/bad.

Laws are not inherently moral. They can be immoral. Laws can be and have been used to take away the rights of others. As an example : Laws preventing women from voting were not moral in any sense. They simply felt women were too 'simple-minded' to be allowed to vote.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 209 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 1:46 PM Hyroglyphx has not yet responded

  
DBlevins
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 652
From: Puyallup, WA.
Joined: 02-04-2003


Message 214 of 219 (567795)
07-02-2010 3:20 PM
Reply to: Message 213 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 2:16 PM


Re: Dredging up the past
I'm talking trumped in terms of sheer numbers (might makes right).

Okay, then you seem to be talking about acculturation, though I don't believe numbers necessarily affect which 'moral' is adopted.

quote:
Let's face it, during the Holocaust there was of course a lot of objection to the massacre from a moral basis.

I'm not so sure that that is correct. While I believe that there was concern among some about the 'plight' of the jewish populations, there were many who believed that jews had brought some of it upon themselves. It wasn't until after the holocaust was brought out (toward the end of the war) and people saw the horror that had been inflicted, that people felt sympathy for what had happened. Morally, I think many during the holocaust could be said to be ambivilant toward the plight of the jewish populations. I think a good analogy of how many people felt would be the same way that many felt about the genocide in Rwanda: It's not our problem.

Both have good intentions in mind, but they hold diametrically opposed positions on how to create a greater good.

I don't think I can agree with your label 'good' intentions. It was labeled more as a 'final' solution to the problem. The intention wasn't good, and they knew it, otherwise they wouldn't have tried to hide their culpability to it. If it was a 'morally relative' position, then a 'good' intention would have been to deport them, but that was considered too expensive?

Which is right? You can't say one is wrong in an absolute sense. you can only say that you think it is wrong. If morals are relative, then they come down to the differing, individual opinions.

I might be able to agree with that statement. Because I have been raised in a culture that holds genocide as wrong for any reason, I feel that genocide is wrong for any reason. That doesn't mean I can not understand that my morals are relative. There are cultures out there that feel genocide can be reasonably justified. Even the killing or starving of female babies, resulting in the death of countless thousands, is and has been justified. I think it is horid and very repulsive, and would like to see that practice forever stopped, but I understand that there can be various justifications by a culture for the practice.

If I had been raised in such a culture I might likely see nothing wrong with the practice. That is what I think is meant by moral relativity.

If you say, well, obviously Hitler and the Nazi's were wrong, that's still your opinion if morals are always relative. And if they are always relative, then that is an absolute phenomenon.

The relativity lies in the understanding that my view of the world is not absolute. Therefore it is not a contradiction for me to say that I absolutely abhor and am disgusted by certain acts, while at the same time understanding that others might not see them in the same light.

And just to condense my posts in case you missed it:

...but if you keep breaking down the motivation for the law, there is some moral attached to it. I do X to prevent Y because Y is wrong/bad.

Laws are not inherently moral. They can be immoral. Laws can be and have been used to take away the rights of others. As an example : Laws preventing women from voting were not moral in any sense. They simply felt women were too 'simple-minded' to be allowed to vote.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 213 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 2:16 PM Hyroglyphx has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 215 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 3:40 PM DBlevins has responded

  
DBlevins
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 652
From: Puyallup, WA.
Joined: 02-04-2003


Message 217 of 219 (567829)
07-02-2010 5:05 PM
Reply to: Message 215 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 3:40 PM


Re: Dredging up the past
But I'm referring to the Germans who silently objected and risked their lives knowing the full extent of it.

I'm sorry, I misunderstood you because it wasn't clear from the context of your statement: [quote]...during the Holocaust there was of course a lot of objection to the massacre from a moral basis.[/qoute]

Even still, there was a huge underground movement. So much so, that members of his own military attempted to kill Hitler several times. (Operation Valkerie being the closest).

I'm reasonably sure that the main reason they were opposed to Hitler was not because of his extermination policy toward the jews. Rather that they were opposed to his system of governance and for various moral reasons having to do with the responsibility that many felt a leader should have for the well-being of his/her subjects. The point being that the plight of the jews was not the moral underpinning of the movement to remove Hitler from power. I don't feel you can reasonably make the argument that attempts to kill Hitler were due to his killing jewish people.

Hyro writes:

I think a good analogy of how many people felt would be the same way that many felt about the genocide in Rwanda: It's not our problem.

Well, I know for America, we believed in the Monroe Doctrine. But that is precisely what I mean. Is it better to intervene or is it better to respect the soveriengty of others? There is a moral dilemma there.

The Monroe doctorine had nothing to due with ambivilance toward the Rwandan genocide. It was plainly something that many people felt was just the 'normal' actions of warring factions among African States and frankly not something to be worried or concerned about, until people were actually confronted with the horror or what happened, through the media. The question of intervention happened after the fact, at least for the majority of the American public. I think many felt that it wasn't worth the danger to our troops to have gotten involved in a genocide that seemed to be the normal course of action for warring factions in African States. Sovereignity was really a minor concern or even an excuse, rather it was just described as a 'local conflict'. The concern expressed among Americans was more along the lines of not wanting a repeat of the events in Somalia, in Mogadishu. Therefore: Not our problem.

The Nazi's knew the world would object, they felt they were doing a good that would not be understood until subsequent generations viewed it.

Again, I'm not sure you can ascribe the Nazi intent as being for a good that would not be understood until later. Do you have any evidence that would back up this claim? They knew it wasn't for 'good' intentions, otherwise they would have not hidden their involvement. It might have been described as being for the greater good (which I would appreciate if you could substantiate), but that would have been ascribing a moral value for public consumtion, to what they felt was a practical dilemna that was inherently immoral. I am trying to explain and make a subtle but important differentiation and perhaps being inarticulate.

So the question is, we know how we would respond relatively to a situation like that. But is there an absolute standard?

No, because different people even having similar cultural values will weigh out different reasonings. The same person can conceivably have different opinions on the relative merits of equally abhorent actions depending on who is doing the action and who the action is being done upon.

Too stupid to vote, and them voting stupidly would have deleterious effects. I think if you really analyze it, there is always some moral attached to it. It doesn't mean I agree with the moral, but the framework seems to be there.

I think that this is my fault for being somewhat wrong and too simplistic. Let me put it this way: There have been laws and still are laws that don't allow someone to vote, simply because they are not a holder of property.

Finally, it might be appreciated if you could do a good search for laws that you couldn't justify morally. I will try to find something that is less ambiguous for you. Hopefully we can then illuminate the answer to whether all laws are inherently moral or not.

Edited by DBlevins, : to fix typing errors

Edited by DBlevins, : more typographical errors spotted. grrr


This message is a reply to:
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DBlevins
Member (Idle past 1970 days)
Posts: 652
From: Puyallup, WA.
Joined: 02-04-2003


Message 218 of 219 (567877)
07-02-2010 11:42 PM
Reply to: Message 215 by Hyroglyphx
07-02-2010 3:40 PM


Re: Dredging up the past
I have a hard time justifying some wage laws as being inherently moral. Laws such as overtime or minimum wage laws. They seem to me to be more about contracts between the employee and employer, and depend ultimately not on what a 'moral' wage should or would be but on what the employee, government and employers agree* is a reasonable rate.

*Depending on the strength and weaknesses of the various groups and government.

If you disagree then I would appreciate your view on why some workers are not allowed overtime or the standard minimum wage whle others within the same culture do enjoy such benefits.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 215 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-02-2010 3:40 PM Hyroglyphx has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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