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Author Topic:   Religion does not give a solid basis to morality
tudwell
Member (Idle past 4879 days)
Posts: 172
From: KCMO
Joined: 08-20-2006


Message 16 of 20 (408601)
07-03-2007 5:42 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mick
06-04-2007 8:50 PM


quote:
The implication is always that absolutist morality (i.e. killing another is always wrong) is in some way better than relativistic morality (i.e. killing another is sometimes wrong and sometimes right, depending on the situation).

Hmm. Maybe I'm just confused, but I've always had a different definition of absolute and relative morality than it seems most people here at EvC have.

You see, an absolute morality, to me, is one that exists beyond human influence. It is not created by humans, even though humans are subject to its rules. It is a morality that exists forever and always, doesn't change, and affects all people the same (e.g. 'judgement' after death).

A relativist, then, says that morality does change, that each society defines its own morality. It really has nothing to do with the nuances of the rule. An absolutist can say that killing isn't always wrong, but that no matter how nuanced the rule is, it always applies. I mean, look at all the Christians who oppose abortion but support the death penalty. I certainly wouldn't call them relativists.

On that same notion, a relativist can say that killing is always wrong, according to his society's current prevailing notion of morality.

I think people get confused when talking about morality. Absolute vs. relative really has nothing to do with what a particular rule actually says but with the nature of that rule, how it's applied, who it affects, etc.

Just my two cents.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by mick, posted 06-04-2007 8:50 PM mick has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Chiroptera, posted 07-03-2007 6:04 PM tudwell has responded

  
Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 17 of 20 (408605)
07-03-2007 6:04 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by tudwell
07-03-2007 5:42 PM


You see, an absolute morality, to me, is one that exists beyond human influence. It is not created by humans, even though humans are subject to its rules. It is a morality that exists forever and always, doesn't change, and affects all people the same (e.g. 'judgement' after death).

I've always called this "objective morality" vs. "subjective morality". I've seen "absolute" morality used in both senses, but my own subjective feeling about the phrase "absolute" is that it is one that always holds in all situations, whereas "relative" implies that it can change with the situation.

A pacifist, for example, might believe that the rule that one never, ever kills another person no matter what the situation is an absolute rule -- yet she might still recognize that it is a subjective rule in that others may feel that it is legitimate to kill other people (at least in some situations, like self-defence) and that there is objective standard by which to judge which one is correct.

I guess it isn't so important which words one uses as long as people use and understand the words in the same way in the same conversation. In fact I have used "absolute/relative" in the sense you are using them because I felt that it would be too much trouble to interject my own definitions (which might be idiosyncratic anyway).


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 16 by tudwell, posted 07-03-2007 5:42 PM tudwell has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by tudwell, posted 07-03-2007 6:36 PM Chiroptera has responded

  
tudwell
Member (Idle past 4879 days)
Posts: 172
From: KCMO
Joined: 08-20-2006


Message 18 of 20 (408608)
07-03-2007 6:36 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by Chiroptera
07-03-2007 6:04 PM


I've always called this "objective morality" vs. "subjective morality". I've seen "absolute" morality used in both senses, but my own subjective feeling about the phrase "absolute" is that it is one that always holds in all situations, whereas "relative" implies that it can change with the situation.

That makes sense. But saying "absolute morality" seems to imply that all of that morality's rules are absolute and hold in all situations. This obviously isn't the case, even (especially?) with Christians. As I pointed out above, many Christians oppose abortion but support the death penalty.

I think the OP is flawed in analogizing (your definitions of) absolute and relative moralities as being facets of religion and non-religion, respectively. Not all religions promote absolute moralities (though most are objective). And there are some subjective moralists who hold absolute ideas (your pacifist example). I think this flaw comes from miscommunication. I think that many religionists use the term "absolute morality" like me. Then mick, who has his own definition, thinks they're saying something they aren't.

If there is no miscommunication, then mick's portrayal of religionist morality is a strawman (even applying it only to Christian dogma, as the OP seems to do).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by Chiroptera, posted 07-03-2007 6:04 PM Chiroptera has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by Chiroptera, posted 07-03-2007 6:54 PM tudwell has not yet responded
 Message 20 by anastasia, posted 07-03-2007 8:07 PM tudwell has not yet responded

  
Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 19 of 20 (408611)
07-03-2007 6:54 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by tudwell
07-03-2007 6:36 PM


Yeah, I realized this after I wrote the post. Very few people, including among Christians, believe that rules are absolute the way I defined it, which might make my way of defining it useless.

Huh. Wikipedia defines the difference between objective morality and absolute morality the way that I have; I could have sworn that the last time I looked it up, it defined absolute morality the way that you do.

Well, that certainly shows that you can't trust anything I say.


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 18 by tudwell, posted 07-03-2007 6:36 PM tudwell has not yet responded

  
anastasia
Member (Idle past 4853 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 20 of 20 (408618)
07-03-2007 8:07 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by tudwell
07-03-2007 6:36 PM


tudwell writes:

That makes sense. But saying "absolute morality" seems to imply that all of that morality's rules are absolute and hold in all situations. This obviously isn't the case, even (especially?) with Christians. As I pointed out above, many Christians oppose abortion but support the death penalty.

Can't speak for everyone, but being Christian, yes, the OP is flawed in its definition of 'absolute' concerning religion.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by tudwell, posted 07-03-2007 6:36 PM tudwell has not yet responded

  
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