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Author Topic:   Moral Relativism
jar
Member
Posts: 31508
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 226 of 284 (133173)
08-12-2004 10:59 AM
Reply to: Message 225 by Sleeping Dragon
08-12-2004 10:26 AM


Okay. Well, it looks like we disagree then. No problem.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
 Message 225 by Sleeping Dragon, posted 08-12-2004 10:26 AM Sleeping Dragon has responded

Replies to this message:
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Amlodhi
Inactive Member


Message 227 of 284 (133177)
08-12-2004 11:19 AM
Reply to: Message 226 by jar
08-12-2004 10:59 AM


Hi jar,

Interestingly, IIRC, in certain Pharisaic midrashim, it is deemed sinful and immoral for one not to break the (otherwise moral) law if it means saving life.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 226 by jar, posted 08-12-2004 10:59 AM jar has not yet responded

  
Sleeping Dragon
Inactive Member


Message 228 of 284 (133210)
08-12-2004 12:21 PM
Reply to: Message 226 by jar
08-12-2004 10:59 AM


To jar:

Thank you for your reply.

Reply to your post:

Okay. Well, it looks like we disagree then. No problem.

Errrrrr...ok...so are you going to explain and support your perspective?

Patiently awaiting your reply.


"Respect is like money, it can only be earned. When it is given, it becomes pittance"

This message is a reply to:
 Message 226 by jar, posted 08-12-2004 10:59 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
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contracycle
Inactive Member


Message 229 of 284 (133213)
08-12-2004 12:24 PM
Reply to: Message 225 by Sleeping Dragon
08-12-2004 10:26 AM


quote:
Perhaps I would be one of the few people who feel this way, but no I wouldn't agree. In the case you have stated, stealing is wrong, and the ends do not justify the means - it is not moral nor excusable. I don't believe that we should rationalise away the process just because it seems to provide greater good.

Afterall, the person you stole from may starve as a result of your actions.

Provide me with another example if you wish.


What if I steal it from a rich person who has more bread than they can physically eat?

See, the notional preservation of property rights based on the potential impact suffered by the victim of theft is not invalid, but there is a valid question IMO as to whether it should be applied as a universal principle.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 225 by Sleeping Dragon, posted 08-12-2004 10:26 AM Sleeping Dragon has responded

Replies to this message:
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Thugpreacha
Member
Posts: 13043
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 230 of 284 (133238)
08-12-2004 1:15 PM


Absolute dignity vs relative obscurity
jar writes:

People are human. They will behave just about the same way regardless of the system they use as a basis.

Good point. I am reading a good book by Christian apologist R.C. Sproul. He contrasts humanism and Christianity. The Greek philosopher Protagoras issued the motto, homo mensura, "man is the measure."
R.C.Sproul writes:

Since Christianity is also deeply concerned about people,it is at some points difficult to distinguish Christianity from humanism. Both seek the healing of estranged relationships, and both honor the dignity of the human being. However, their bases for dignity are radically different. The Christian sees the horizontal, interpersonal relation(with others) as inseparable from the vertical relationship with God. ...
To establish human dignity without acknowledging the God of creation, the humanist must act in an arbitrary and irrational fashion. If humans rose by chance from chaos, why should dignity be ascribed to them? Since the advent of the Christian faith, humanism has constantly incorporated Christian values and ethics while ripping the heart out of Christianity's theological context. Yet that context is the only reason the values and ethics make sense. To be sure, our experience agrees with (humanists) assessment. It screams that life is valuable and that each person is a creature of immense worth and dignity. That scream is hollow, however, if it comes from a germ with no destiny but death. Human dignity is rooted in the holiness of God;it reflects God's dignity.

I agree with Sproul, for I believe that humans are more than mere evolved animals.
If Genesis shows us a snake that informs us that we shall someday be like God, this implies that evolution included human dignity. While I am no strict creationist by any means, I believe that humanity will never evolve into better and better moral creatures. Our dignity will find its completion in our communion with our Creator.

Replies to this message:
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jar
Member
Posts: 31508
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 231 of 284 (133319)
08-12-2004 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 228 by Sleeping Dragon
08-12-2004 12:21 PM


No.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
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bob_gray
Member (Idle past 3302 days)
Posts: 243
From: Virginia
Joined: 05-03-2004


Message 232 of 284 (133426)
08-12-2004 10:32 PM
Reply to: Message 207 by General Nazort
08-10-2004 9:23 PM


Re: Nope
Love the CS Lewis quote. I think he may be generalizing because of his strong Christian influences when he says the following:

quote:
But the standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people's ideas get nearer to that real Right than others...

It is my opinion that he is correct in his first statement that in order to measure something you need something to compare to, hence my statements about having a metric. I think that his second sentence is problematic in that moral standards are always dependent on the situation. If a “real Right” exists it is unclear to me that he or anyone knows what it is.

Allow me to offer an example using one of the most controversial moral issues which seems to pervade the United States: sex. There seems to be some moral standard in the US that dictates that nipples are an immoral thing to see. This is clear from the hysteria which surrounded JJ’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl. What is not clear is why this moral standard needs to be in place. There are cultures where people go around wearing very little clothing and they don’t seem to be adversely affected by it. Once again you run into relative morality. Or perhaps what CS Lewis is saying is that those things which are “relative” aren’t truly moral issues?

As far as establishing a moral code of “that which increases happiness” I think this is inherently flawed as is shown by your examples. I think that the morality proposed by shrafinator is a good starting point:

schrafinator writes:

My morality is based upon doing and supporting that which harms the fewest people and helps the most.

And we can look at the homosexual marriage example you gave. Having homosexual marriage illegal infringes on the rights of al the homosexuals who want to get married (I would say that this harms them). Having homosexual marriage legal would make some people uncomfortable because they believe that it is a sin. This however in no way infringes on ANY of their rights or their ability to live their life as they want so I would say there is little harm done in that situation. Since my metric is reducing harm and helping people, having homosexual marriage illegal while heterosexual marriage is legal is immoral. This is not related to how many people are made happy by the idea.

If you can propose some system of absolutes which is devoid of ambiguity I am dying to hear of it.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 207 by General Nazort, posted 08-10-2004 9:23 PM General Nazort has responded

Replies to this message:
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General Nazort
Inactive Member


Message 233 of 284 (133427)
08-12-2004 10:33 PM
Reply to: Message 216 by jar
08-11-2004 12:32 AM


Re: Nope
jar says:

Well, in reality, there have never been a nation sloely like that and almost all nations have behaved like that at one time or another. So you can say that Germany in 1990 was more moral than the US in 1831. It's all relative.

OK. So you agree that the moralities of some nations are better than the moralities of other nations. The time period is irrelevent. If Germany in 1990 is better than the US in 1831, you are comparing both nations to an ideal standard of moral perfection, and saying that one nation conforms to that standard more closely than the other nation. That standard you are measuring both nations by is the moral absolute. Do you agree with this, and if not why not?


If you say there are no absolutes, I ask you, are you absolutely sure about that?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 216 by jar, posted 08-11-2004 12:32 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 234 by jar, posted 08-12-2004 10:43 PM General Nazort has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 31508
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 234 of 284 (133431)
08-12-2004 10:43 PM
Reply to: Message 233 by General Nazort
08-12-2004 10:33 PM


Re: Nope
If Germany in 1990 is better than the US in 1831, you are comparing both nations to an ideal standard of moral perfection, and saying that one nation conforms to that standard more closely than the other nation.

No, I'm comparing one to the other. I'm not saying A is closer to C than B is, I'm saying A is better than B. Even then it only applies within the time period I mention. While Germany in 1990 might be better than the US in 1831 (look up that date by the way to see what I'm refering to), it would not necessarily be true if you looked at Germany in 1991 and the US in 1832.

In addition, there might well have been things about the US in 1831 that were more moral than things in Germany in 1990.

It's all relative.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
 Message 233 by General Nazort, posted 08-12-2004 10:33 PM General Nazort has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 236 by General Nazort, posted 08-12-2004 11:32 PM jar has responded

  
General Nazort
Inactive Member


Message 235 of 284 (133433)
08-12-2004 10:51 PM
Reply to: Message 232 by bob_gray
08-12-2004 10:32 PM


Re: Nope
bob-grey,

Thanks for the reply! You gotta love good ole Lewis

I think that his second sentence is problematic in that moral standards are always dependent on the situation. If a “real Right” exists it is unclear to me that he or anyone knows what it is.

I agree it is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible to indentify if correct moral choice in every single situation. But that does not mean that a "real Right" does not exist, simply becuase you cannot find it. And in the vast majority of cases, the moral choice is clear. Is it morally right or wrong to shoot a random person walking down the street, who has not caused anyone any harm? There is a book by an atheist, Camus, called The Stranger. In it the main character, for no discernable reason, shoots a stranger to death. Was this right or wrong?

As far as establishing a moral code of “that which increases happiness” I think this is inherently flawed as is shown by your examples. I think that the morality proposed by shrafinator is a good starting point:

schrafinator writes:
My morality is based upon doing and supporting that which harms the fewest people and helps the most.

While at first this seems like a good alternative to "whatever makes the most people happy," I believe it is essentially the same. For example, it would make it ok under this morality to kill a rich man and take all his money and give it to a bunch of poor people. Only one man was harmed, but hundreds of poor were helped. However, that is murder, which is wrong. To make this example even better, we could suppose that the poor were not even poor - lets say they were all rich men also! Killing the rich man harmed him but all the other men got some of his money, helping them. Does this justify the rich mans murder? I think not.

As for homosexualy marriage, I disagree than banning it would harm homosexuals. But that is a debate for another thread, I suppose. The point is that, while the morality of "doing and supporting that which harms the fewest people and helps the most," may apply in the situation of gay marriage, it clearly does not apply in other situations, such as my example about the rich man and poor people.

The idea of a "Real right" that exists is inherent in every one of us, in the way that we think about things. This "Real Right" is a moral absolute - it is not morally relative to a given culture.


If you say there are no absolutes, I ask you, are you absolutely sure about that?

This message is a reply to:
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General Nazort
Inactive Member


Message 236 of 284 (133442)
08-12-2004 11:32 PM
Reply to: Message 234 by jar
08-12-2004 10:43 PM


Re: Nope
jar says:

No, I'm comparing one to the other. I'm not saying A is closer to C than B is, I'm saying A is better than B. Even then it only applies within the time period I mention. While Germany in 1990 might be better than the US in 1831 (look up that date by the way to see what I'm refering to), it would not necessarily be true if you looked at Germany in 1991 and the US in 1832.

In addition, there might well have been things about the US in 1831 that were more moral than things in Germany in 1990.

It's all relative.

Again, the time period is irrelevent. And we are looking at the overall morality of the countries.

No, I'm comparing one to the other. I'm not saying A is closer to C than B is, I'm saying A is better than B.

How can you say something is better than something else without comparing it to the ideal thing? How can you say that one line is more straight than another line without comparing it to a perfectly straight line? How can you say that 1 murder is better than 2 murders without comparing them to the ideal of zero murders? In the same way, how can you say that the morality of country A is better than the morality of country B without comparing them both to a perfect morality?


If you say there are no absolutes, I ask you, are you absolutely sure about that?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 234 by jar, posted 08-12-2004 10:43 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 237 by jar, posted 08-12-2004 11:44 PM General Nazort has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 31508
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 237 of 284 (133443)
08-12-2004 11:44 PM
Reply to: Message 236 by General Nazort
08-12-2004 11:32 PM


Re: Nope
Again, the time period is irrelevent.

The time period is absolutely relevant. For example, Germeny in 1990 was more moral than Germany in 1940. Japan in 1990 was more moral than 1939.

How can you say that one line is more straight than another line without comparing it to a perfectly straight line?

well, let's give it a try.

Which line is straighter, top or bottom?


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
 Message 236 by General Nazort, posted 08-12-2004 11:32 PM General Nazort has responded

Replies to this message:
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General Nazort
Inactive Member


Message 238 of 284 (133447)
08-13-2004 12:05 AM
Reply to: Message 237 by jar
08-12-2004 11:44 PM


Re: Nope
The time period is absolutely relevant. For example, Germeny in 1990 was more moral than Germany in 1940. Japan in 1990 was more moral than 1939.

It doesn't matter if a nation changes over time! We are taking a "snapshot" of the moralities of two nations and comparing them. Germany is a more moral nations in 1990 than the Germany of 1940, ok! Why do we say it is more moral now than then? Because now it better conforms to the Ideal Morality. It does not matter if the morality changes later. We just want to comparte the moralities at that point/points in time.

Which line is straighter, top or bottom?

The top, because it more closely matches a straight line.

If you compare the top and bottom to each other, you cannot tell which one is straighter if you do not already have the idea of what "straight" is. Similarly, you cannot know if one action is more moral than another unless you have an idea of what a moral action is like.


If you say there are no absolutes, I ask you, are you absolutely sure about that?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 237 by jar, posted 08-12-2004 11:44 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 242 by jar, posted 08-14-2004 2:18 PM General Nazort has responded

  
Sleeping Dragon
Inactive Member


Message 239 of 284 (133497)
08-13-2004 5:10 AM
Reply to: Message 229 by contracycle
08-12-2004 12:24 PM


To contracycle:

What if I steal it from a rich person who has more bread than they can physically eat?

See, the notional preservation of property rights based on the potential impact suffered by the victim of theft is not invalid, but there is a valid question IMO as to whether it should be applied as a universal principle.

So....what if you do? Are you going to steal from A and not from B simply because A can afford to be stolen from? To me, your argument is very much invalid and I can't see how it could be otherwise.

What is moral: Being able to reap the rewards you worked for, or having them ripped off you because someone else does not have it?

You can probably argue that taxes (transfers of income) are justified for the good of the society, but stealing?

If you are going to challenge the notion of preservation of property rights as a universal principle, I'm all ears.

Patiently awaiting your reply.


"Respect is like money, it can only be earned. When it is given, it becomes pittance"

This message is a reply to:
 Message 229 by contracycle, posted 08-12-2004 12:24 PM contracycle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 254 by contracycle, posted 08-17-2004 6:16 AM Sleeping Dragon has responded

  
nator
Member (Idle past 459 days)
Posts: 12961
From: Ann Arbor
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 240 of 284 (133840)
08-14-2004 2:08 PM
Reply to: Message 230 by Thugpreacha
08-12-2004 1:15 PM


Re: Absolute dignity vs relative obscurity
Sproul hasn't read any evolutionary Biology or Psychology, that's for sure.

quote:
To establish human dignity without acknowledging the God of creation, the humanist must act in an arbitrary and irrational fashion.

Absolutely untrue.

Humanists act in a completely rational fashion.

The term is "enlightened self-interest." We do what is good for ourselves and also what is good for the group. There are negative consequences from the group if we act like a jerk too often, and benefits from the group if we help the group thrive.

quote:
If humans rose by chance from chaos,

...which we didn't.

We rose just like any other organism; random mutation combined with natural selection.

Selection is the opposite of random.

quote:
would dignity be ascribed to them?

Sure, just like any other physical or social trait we have.

It all evolved.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 230 by Thugpreacha, posted 08-12-2004 1:15 PM Thugpreacha has not yet responded

    
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