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CaughtintheMiddle1990
11-23-2010, 10:50 AM
I don't want to get into a whole long thing here, but...
I've often heard moral relativists try to justify the barbarism of other cultures and nations--You probably have encountered their arguments before.

My argument against moral relativism--and maybe you'll disagree--is simple:

If everything is to some degree right, then there is no such thing as wrong. If every set of morals is right, than there is no such thing as wrong, and from there you start down a dangerous road. If there is no such thing as wrong, there is no reason for morality; In fact, you have caused morality to cease to exist, for without right and wrong both existing, you wouldn't have any real concept of either one.

Once you cause morality to cease to exist, nothing will matter. Once that happens, institutions will fail and society as a whole will collapse. The very foundation of the law, and thus order with it, is based on a concrete set of moral principles. Why is murder illegal here? Because it is wrong. Moral relativists would argue that there is no such thing as 'wrong', it's just my perception of society due to me seeing it through the lens of my culture and/or upbringing, but I would argue that there are in fact absolute, universal truths, and that there is in fact laws to nature and the universe itself.

wilbur
11-23-2010, 11:39 AM
Moral relativism, some would argue, is self-refuting.... since by declaring that all morality is relative, you've just declared a universal moral principle. And that's a contradiction in relativism.

noonwitch
11-23-2010, 12:17 PM
One could get all lawyerly about the topic and spell out all the wrongs that are possible and all the consequences of those acts, like in Leviticus or the average criminal code in any state. But that is a very specific kind of thing, and is about dealing with criminal or just plain wrong behavior.

When it comes to general morality, it's kind of different. I've always thought that basically, to harm another person either maliciously or purposely is morally wrong. That includes murder, rape, robbery, theft, assault, adultry, etc.

But there are a whole lot of other behaviors that I think are wrong that I don't think need some type of official consequences-being crass, racist speech, verbally taunting people, being promiscuous, pornography involving adults, and so on.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
11-23-2010, 12:23 PM
One could get all lawyerly about the topic and spell out all the wrongs that are possible and all the consequences of those acts, like in Leviticus or the average criminal code in any state. But that is a very specific kind of thing, and is about dealing with criminal or just plain wrong behavior.

When it comes to general morality, it's kind of different. I've always thought that basically, to harm another person either maliciously or purposely is morally wrong. That includes murder, rape, robbery, theft, assault, adultry, etc.

But there are a whole lot of other behaviors that I think are wrong that I don't think need some type of official consequences-being crass, racist speech, verbally taunting people, being promiscuous, pornography involving adults, and so on.

Amen, sister.
There is what is universally wrong--Universally held principles, morality. THAT is what the Moral Relativists are after.

They don't care so much for our individual, personality morality--not yet, anyway. If you or I as individuals feel being promiscous is wrong, I don't think they care about us as individuals.

What they do want is to reshape society into something where there is no absolute right nor no absolute wrong. They want to replace those absolute, universal truths, in the name of fairness, kindness, political correctness, whatever the hot buzzword is at the moment. They are cultural Marxists. Look up the roots of Political Correctness.

linda22003
11-23-2010, 12:24 PM
The very foundation of the law, and thus order with it, is based on a concrete set of moral principles. Why is murder illegal here? Because it is wrong. Moral relativists would argue that there is no such thing as 'wrong', it's just my perception of society due to me seeing it through the lens of my culture and/or upbringing, but I would argue that there are in fact absolute, universal truths, and that there is in fact laws to nature and the universe itself.

You think that's an absolute? Shooting someone is wrong. Shooting someone who has broken into your house and is coming at you is - generally NOT considered wrong.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
11-23-2010, 12:29 PM
You think that's an absolute? Shooting someone is wrong. Shooting someone who has broken into your house and is coming at you is - generally NOT considered wrong.

I don't consider shooting someone who comes into your house murder.
That's self defense.

Murder is an un-pre empted act of violence against an innocent target, it doesn't have to be planned ahead of time, that results in the death of said target. It's killing someone who poses no possible threat to you. It's killing someone for either money, or simply pleasure, or a whole variety of reasons. Under that definition, I count murderers (ESPECIALLY serial killers) as being among the scum of the Earth.

A person shooting a dangerous, or even POSSIBLY dangerous intruder into your home is in my opinion never murder. A person enters your home without your consent, they have made a condition in which you or your loved ones are possibly in danger. You can't know either way and you're not going to take the chance and find out. So it's a pre-emptive strike, but a justified one.

Never murder.

Wei Wu Wei
11-23-2010, 12:34 PM
I don't want to get into a whole long thing here, but...
I've often heard moral relativists try to justify the barbarism of other cultures and nations--You probably have encountered their arguments before.

My argument against moral relativism--and maybe you'll disagree--is simple:

If everything is to some degree right, then there is no such thing as wrong. If every set of morals is right, than there is no such thing as wrong, and from there you start down a dangerous road. If there is no such thing as wrong, there is no reason for morality; In fact, you have caused morality to cease to exist, for without right and wrong both existing, you wouldn't have any real concept of either one.

Once you cause morality to cease to exist, nothing will matter. Once that happens, institutions will fail and society as a whole will collapse. The very foundation of the law, and thus order with it, is based on a concrete set of moral principles. Why is murder illegal here? Because it is wrong. Moral relativists would argue that there is no such thing as 'wrong', it's just my perception of society due to me seeing it through the lens of my culture and/or upbringing, but I would argue that there are in fact absolute, universal truths, and that there is in fact laws to nature and the universe itself.

This is a bit of a post-modern trap. However, it's not something that one can't be lifted out of.

It is true that your ideas about right and wrong are relative to the culture you live in, that people living in another place or another time will have different values. The grounding of one's moral code isn't a concrete set of principles, it's ultimately contradictions if one is inclined to search for a ground.

Even if morality isn't "really true" in the absolute sense, it's real enough in that it still works.

You can still advocate for a certain moral code, but you must realize that you cannot claim an absolute basis in reality or a concrete foundation because everyone can claim that just as much.

Wei Wu Wei
11-23-2010, 12:37 PM
I don't consider shooting someone who comes into your house murder.
That's self defense.

Murder is an un-pre empted act of violence against an innocent target, it doesn't have to be planned ahead of time, that results in the death of said target. It's killing someone who poses no possible threat to you. It's killing someone for either money, or simply pleasure, or a whole variety of reasons. Under that definition, I count murderers (ESPECIALLY serial killers) as being among the scum of the Earth.

A person shooting a dangerous, or even POSSIBLY dangerous intruder into your home is in my opinion never murder. A person enters your home without your consent, they have made a condition in which you or your loved ones are possibly in danger. You can't know either way and you're not going to take the chance and find out. So it's a pre-emptive strike, but a justified one.

Never murder.

I could keep finding more narrow examples and you could keep refining your definition, but ultimately the problem lies in the concepts we use to signify reality. ultimately, they are not based in anything but each other, you'll find that terms you use are circular in their definition and defined concepts come to contradict each other.

This idea of having a certain set of true ideas, or should i say, this idea of being outside of the forces of ideology, is impossible.

Wei Wu Wei
11-23-2010, 12:40 PM
For example, it is important to understand that my ideas of right and wrong are relative to my culture and my time and other cultures have their own ideas, however, something like human rights abuses cannot be overlooked as mere differences of culture.

CaughtintheMiddle1990
11-23-2010, 12:45 PM
I could keep finding more narrow examples and you could keep refining your definition, but ultimately the problem lies in the concepts we use to signify reality. ultimately, they are not based in anything but each other, you'll find that terms you use are circular in their definition and defined concepts come to contradict each other.

This idea of having a certain set of true ideas, or should i say, this idea of being outside of the forces of ideology, is impossible.

No, because there is an absolutism to our world, to our existence (and I don't simply mean from the limited, pattern seeking brain of a human being), and to our universe. These are set, absolute foundations that exist outside of our pattern seeking perception.
The foundations to morality may indeed change, or shift with the tides of time. But morality, even as a concept, never changes. Every society is founded on a perceived set of rights and wrongs. My problem with moral relativists is that they try and claim such ideas as right and wrong do not exist.

The idea of being outside of ideology is not impossible. One's ideology can utterly and totally change. One can even form their own ideology, though admittedly since we live in age where most of the possible philosophies have already been discovered, a self made ideology would only be a mix of existing ones. You can view the world and it's people and their problems objectively, as an outsider, a watcher more than a participant. I have chosen to. Man and his doings fascinate me. You can separate this notion of ideology, of ideas, from reality. You can separate it from man, if you remove yourself emotionally from mankind enough and think in purely logical terms.

My feelings on moral relativism are just that--feelings. All self contained, all within my brain. I recognize that. And I express them as is common to members of our species. I express them because that's what emotion and feelings drive me to do--it's natural.

I'll speak more on this in a few minutes.

Wei Wu Wei
11-23-2010, 12:56 PM
No, because there is an absolutism to our world, to our existence (and I don't simply mean from the limited, pattern seeking brain of a human being), and to our universe. These are set, absolute foundations that exist outside of our pattern seeking perception.
The foundations to morality may indeed change, or shift with the tides of time. But morality, even as a concept, never changes. Every society is founded on a perceived set of rights and wrongs. My problem with moral relativists is that they try and claim such ideas as right and wrong do not exist.

In what sense do they exist? Clearly they do not have material physical existence. Because matter is generally thought of when one considers "what exists" in the universe, it is tricky to decipher what you mean by "existence" when talking about these ideas.

How can they exist apart from human's engagement in them? In what way do they exist other than people performing them?


The idea of being outside of ideology is not impossible. One's ideology can utterly and totally change. One can even form their own ideology, though admittedly since we live in age where most of the possible philosophies have already been discovered, a self made ideology would only be a mix of existing ones. You can view the world and it's people and their problems objectively, as an outsider, a watcher more than a participant. I have chosen to. Man and his doings fascinate me. You can separate this notion of ideology, of ideas, from reality. You can separate it from man, if you remove yourself emotionally from mankind enough and think in purely logical terms.

No you cannot. It is impossible. I understand the sentiment I'm sure most people on this forum does, but you cannot really separate yourself or be a pure observer. Even the act of observation requires some contribution on your part to what is observed. You take part in constructing any reality which you experience.

Odysseus
11-23-2010, 02:18 PM
Moral relativism, some would argue, is self-refuting.... since by declaring that all morality is relative, you've just declared a universal moral principle. And that's a contradiction in relativism.
Moral relativism isn't meant to be a universal moral principle, it's meant to be a tool to elevate regimes or individuals that commit horrendous acts to the same level as those states or people that don't, in order to weaken the latter. For example, during the Cold War, moral relativists used to justify the Soviet Union's repressions by pretending that legitimate law enforcement in the US was no different from the Soviet Gulags, or equating the economies of the two by claiming that because America had poor people, we had no right to criticize the economic failures of socialism. We see it today when Israeli defensive acts are given moral equivalence with offensive acts by others, or when America responds to terrorists and we are accused of being "the real terrorists." It's not a strategic overview, it's just a tactic.

For example, it is important to understand that my ideas of right and wrong are relative to my culture and my time and other cultures have their own ideas, however, something like human rights abuses cannot be overlooked as mere differences of culture.
The problem with that view is that ultimately, there is no right or wrong, and even our concept of human rights becomes a moral weathervane, and anything can be justified. It undermines the capacity to make moral choices and act upon them, which cedes the world to those who will make immoral choices and act upon them.

wilbur
11-23-2010, 03:22 PM
Moral relativism isn't meant to be a universal moral principle, it's meant to be a tool to elevate regimes or individuals that commit horrendous acts to the same level as those states or people that don't, in order to weaken the latter. For example, during the Cold War, moral relativists used to justify the Soviet Union's repressions by pretending that legitimate law enforcement in the US was no different from the Soviet Gulags, or equating the economies of the two by claiming that because America had poor people, we had no right to criticize the economic failures of socialism. We see it today when Israeli defensive acts are given moral equivalence with offensive acts by others, or when America responds to terrorists and we are accused of being "the real terrorists." It's not a strategic overview, it's just a tactic.


Err, the concept of relativism is as ancient as philosophy, in some form or another.

Odysseus
11-23-2010, 04:11 PM
Err, the concept of relativism is as ancient as philosophy, in some form or another.

Yes, and it invariably becomes a tool to undermine good by equating it with evil.