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[Morality] Subjectivity vs Objectivity

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  • Mikey CTSMikey CTS Hulk-hands Porcupine What is it? Why is it there?Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Relativism has nothing to do with universal tolerance; it simply means that your objection to an act is not grounded in any external fact or truth.

    What I am trying to get at is the problem of judging other people by your morality if they don't share it. If morality is relative - which I think is a perfectly reasonable position - how can embezzlement be "generally" wrong? It can be wrong to you, but there is no justification for "general" wrongs.

    I know that you will report the embezzlement or otherwise act against it. You will do this because you are conditioned to believe it's wrong. That is an eminently satisfying description of what is.

    When it comes to what ought to be, there is a problem: when faced with conflicting moral positions - the guy who loves embezzling vs yourself - how can they be resolved if there is no objective standard for morality?

    Moral relativism has no tools for proposing what ought to be, because it provides no means of comparing or evaluating morals. If you say that minimizing suffering is a standard, for example, you are creating a non-relative axiom for moral judgment, and abandoning relativism.

    In the absence of such a standard, all that matters is which person or group is powerful enough to enforce their morality. Again, this seems like it's quite an accurate description of how things are, but I think most people would agree it's not how it ought to be.

    So... you're not so much critiquing the truth of relativism, but rather explaining the problems with the way the world actually is?

    In general, people have Venn diagrams of overlapping moralities, and disagreements can be settled by appealing to common ground. When this doesn't work, any number of other appeals might work. Also, as you note, there's always the option of might simply making right, and carrot/sticking individuals into accepting the desired moral paradigm.

    The question of ethics is, ultimately, how should we act? How ought we behave?

    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    You speak of the "desired moral paradigm," but as relativists, we must instantly see that the moral paradigm we desire is not inherently any more true than the one we are discouraging. How, then, is it rational to act in support of that morality? If we say "I will pursue my morality even though I know it is a cultural artifact of no greater inherent moral worth than the one I'm discouraging," we are being disingenuous. We are claiming self awareness and then acting without considering its rational implications.

    What I am saying then, I suppose, is that it does not seem possible to be an active moral relativist. When morals conflict, we make judgments. We may be aware that those judgments come from relative cultural values, but if we did not believe that our morality was objectively, factually superior or more moral, we would not act to assert it.

    Maybe you can help clarify something for me. I accept that an ought cannot be derived from relativism. I believe I understand why that is. So why is it that oughts can be derived from objective morality? I've never heard a satisfactory explanation for why this is the case.

    // PSN: wyrd_warrior //
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  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Moridin wrote: »
    I don't really understand what's being optimized for. Like, given some moral dilemma, I agree with the assertion, "There's probably a way to resolve the situation such that all parties involved benefit the most in accordance with their own values and desires." This is the more utilitarian approach.

    I just don't see how you get to, "There's an objectively correct way to resolve the situation, independent of the values and desires of the actors involved."

    Why bother trying to get to the second statement? How is your first formulation any less objective than the second?

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    I've thought that morals were a personal thing while ethics were a society thing.

    Morals are beliefs about what constitutes correct behavior, ethics is the study of morals.

    Moral Relativism is mostly problematic, because one cannot say that any moral codes are better than any others, under Moral Relativism.

    You lose the basis for any moral argument as soon as you accept moral relativism of this kind, because any moral behavior you describe cannot be considered right in comparison to someone else's morals.

    The power to judge the rightness of a thing disappears in a puff of conflict.

    Utilitarian and Deontological Ethics are in direct opposition to Moral Relativism, and some form of Utilitarianism is typically used in policy formation. Neither reject that moral codes differ over geography and demographic differences, but they do hold that moral systems may be judged in comparison to each other and to a more universal ethics..

  • lazegamerlazegamer Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    The question of ethics is, ultimately, how should we act? How ought we behave?

    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    You speak of the "desired moral paradigm," but as relativists, we must instantly see that the moral paradigm we desire is not inherently any more true than the one we are discouraging. How, then, is it rational to act in support of that morality? If we say "I will pursue my morality even though I know it is a cultural artifact of no greater inherent moral worth than the one I'm discouraging," we are being disingenuous. We are claiming self awareness and then acting without considering its rational implications.

    What I am saying then, I suppose, is that it does not seem possible to be an active moral relativist. When morals conflict, we make judgments. We may be aware that those judgments come from relative cultural values, but if we did not believe that our morality was objectively, factually superior or more moral, we would not act to assert it.

    Why can you not both accept that your own moral compass does not point true north and still not find fault with the direction of another's? An understanding that your own morality is relative need not preclude you from exercising those morals if you're comfortable with the notion that we are not completely rational beings.

    Surprise.
    - Spy
  • MoridinMoridin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Moridin wrote: »
    I don't really understand what's being optimized for. Like, given some moral dilemma, I agree with the assertion, "There's probably a way to resolve the situation such that all parties involved benefit the most in accordance with their own values and desires." This is the more utilitarian approach.

    I just don't see how you get to, "There's an objectively correct way to resolve the situation, independent of the values and desires of the actors involved."

    Why bother trying to get to the second statement? How is your first formulation any less objective than the second?

    How is my first statement objective? It's akin to saying "George desires X, Sally desires Y, there probably exists some arrangement such that George gets some of X, Sally some of Y, and both are mutually content with the outcome."

    The second statement is akin to "George and Sally should do J always."


    It's entirely possible that George's desire X and Sally's desire Y are mutually contradictory. And then you have some sort of irreconcileable value difference, to which I suppose the only solution is single combat :P.

    sig10008eq.png
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Mikey CTS wrote: »
    Relativism has nothing to do with universal tolerance; it simply means that your objection to an act is not grounded in any external fact or truth.

    What I am trying to get at is the problem of judging other people by your morality if they don't share it. If morality is relative - which I think is a perfectly reasonable position - how can embezzlement be "generally" wrong? It can be wrong to you, but there is no justification for "general" wrongs.

    I know that you will report the embezzlement or otherwise act against it. You will do this because you are conditioned to believe it's wrong. That is an eminently satisfying description of what is.

    When it comes to what ought to be, there is a problem: when faced with conflicting moral positions - the guy who loves embezzling vs yourself - how can they be resolved if there is no objective standard for morality?

    Moral relativism has no tools for proposing what ought to be, because it provides no means of comparing or evaluating morals. If you say that minimizing suffering is a standard, for example, you are creating a non-relative axiom for moral judgment, and abandoning relativism.

    In the absence of such a standard, all that matters is which person or group is powerful enough to enforce their morality. Again, this seems like it's quite an accurate description of how things are, but I think most people would agree it's not how it ought to be.

    So... you're not so much critiquing the truth of relativism, but rather explaining the problems with the way the world actually is?

    In general, people have Venn diagrams of overlapping moralities, and disagreements can be settled by appealing to common ground. When this doesn't work, any number of other appeals might work. Also, as you note, there's always the option of might simply making right, and carrot/sticking individuals into accepting the desired moral paradigm.

    The question of ethics is, ultimately, how should we act? How ought we behave?

    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    You speak of the "desired moral paradigm," but as relativists, we must instantly see that the moral paradigm we desire is not inherently any more true than the one we are discouraging. How, then, is it rational to act in support of that morality? If we say "I will pursue my morality even though I know it is a cultural artifact of no greater inherent moral worth than the one I'm discouraging," we are being disingenuous. We are claiming self awareness and then acting without considering its rational implications.

    What I am saying then, I suppose, is that it does not seem possible to be an active moral relativist. When morals conflict, we make judgments. We may be aware that those judgments come from relative cultural values, but if we did not believe that our morality was objectively, factually superior or more moral, we would not act to assert it.

    Maybe you can help clarify something for me. I accept that an ought cannot be derived from relativism. I believe I understand why that is. So why is it that oughts can be derived from objective morality? I've never heard a satisfactory explanation for why this is the case.

    If there is an objective moral fact, e.g. it is wrong to cause or permit suffering, then we can derive principles of what we ought to do from that - we ought to alleviate suffering, we ought to give to charity, etc.

    If we believe in that fact, that which conflicts with it or its derived principles can (upon examination) be declared immoral or less moral. Acts can be evaluated in light of a moral fact.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    True, but both you and the other guy have ducked the question by putting it in the third person. The question is, "Is there anything you subjectively believe is (wrong/right) but that you also believe is objectively the opposite."

    They ducked the question because it's a bad question. It implies that moral realists have some special problem, but the problem it identifies is not actually particular to ethics at all, but rather is a feature of belief quite generally. To wit: I don't, in the general case, think that by believing things I can make them so. For example, if I were to believe the sky to be green that would not make the sky green (I would just be wrong). As such, I don't think that my beliefs must all be universally right merely by virtue of being had by me. I have probably erred in some cases.

    Isn't that Moore's paradox?

    Isn't that mostly a semantic problem regarding the definition of the word "believe?"

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    I want to point out something before the thread goes much further. I'm certain you're aware of this, EM, so this isn't a response to you; it's more just for the thread in general.

    Relativism, in the sense of cultural relativism as practiced by cultural anthropologists, isn't so much a meta-ethical philosophy as it is an operating assumption. Anthropologists tend to act as though there are moral facts - destroying the environment is bad, rape is bad, war is bad, etc. - but put them aside when doing fieldwork and adopt a cultural relativist stand when studying a culture as a form of skepticism against their own biases. For example, I don't think any mainstream western anthropologist will argue that female genital mutilation is perfectly tolerable, but an anthropologist might point out that a circumcized woman is a more desirable bride in some cultures so if you forcefully prevent some people from performing FGM then you might be dooming a young woman to the life of an impoverished spinster in a patriarchal culture.

    But I agree with EM, I don't think it's really possible to be an active moral relativist (in the hard, meta-ethical sense).

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Mikey CTS wrote: »
    Relativism has nothing to do with universal tolerance; it simply means that your objection to an act is not grounded in any external fact or truth.

    What I am trying to get at is the problem of judging other people by your morality if they don't share it. If morality is relative - which I think is a perfectly reasonable position - how can embezzlement be "generally" wrong? It can be wrong to you, but there is no justification for "general" wrongs.

    I know that you will report the embezzlement or otherwise act against it. You will do this because you are conditioned to believe it's wrong. That is an eminently satisfying description of what is.

    When it comes to what ought to be, there is a problem: when faced with conflicting moral positions - the guy who loves embezzling vs yourself - how can they be resolved if there is no objective standard for morality?

    Moral relativism has no tools for proposing what ought to be, because it provides no means of comparing or evaluating morals. If you say that minimizing suffering is a standard, for example, you are creating a non-relative axiom for moral judgment, and abandoning relativism.

    In the absence of such a standard, all that matters is which person or group is powerful enough to enforce their morality. Again, this seems like it's quite an accurate description of how things are, but I think most people would agree it's not how it ought to be.

    So... you're not so much critiquing the truth of relativism, but rather explaining the problems with the way the world actually is?

    In general, people have Venn diagrams of overlapping moralities, and disagreements can be settled by appealing to common ground. When this doesn't work, any number of other appeals might work. Also, as you note, there's always the option of might simply making right, and carrot/sticking individuals into accepting the desired moral paradigm.

    The question of ethics is, ultimately, how should we act? How ought we behave?

    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    You speak of the "desired moral paradigm," but as relativists, we must instantly see that the moral paradigm we desire is not inherently any more true than the one we are discouraging. How, then, is it rational to act in support of that morality? If we say "I will pursue my morality even though I know it is a cultural artifact of no greater inherent moral worth than the one I'm discouraging," we are being disingenuous. We are claiming self awareness and then acting without considering its rational implications.

    What I am saying then, I suppose, is that it does not seem possible to be an active moral relativist. When morals conflict, we make judgments. We may be aware that those judgments come from relative cultural values, but if we did not believe that our morality was objectively, factually superior or more moral, we would not act to assert it.

    Maybe you can help clarify something for me. I accept that an ought cannot be derived from relativism. I believe I understand why that is. So why is it that oughts can be derived from objective morality? I've never heard a satisfactory explanation for why this is the case.

    If there is an objective moral fact, e.g. it is wrong to cause or permit suffering, then we can derive principles of what we ought to do from that - we ought to alleviate suffering, we ought to give to charity, etc.

    If we believe in that fact, that which conflicts with it or its derived principles can (upon examination) be declared immoral or less moral. Acts can be evaluated in light of a moral fact.

    Exactly.

    Start from first principles and work your way to the specific act (Deonotology), or take an act and determine if it is more good or bad by examining the consequences under a universal standard of good (Utilitarianism). Deontological approaches have the advantage of not requiring that you determine all possible effects of a given action before judging its moral correctness, but Utilitarianism is generally the justification for policy and is therefore good to know how to do as well.

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    I want to point out something before the thread goes much further. I'm certain you're aware of this, EM, so this isn't a response to you; it's more just for the thread in general.

    Relativism, in the sense of cultural relativism as practiced by cultural anthropologists, isn't so much a meta-ethical philosophy as it is an operating assumption. Anthropologists tend to act as though there are moral facts - destroying the environment is bad, rape is bad, war is bad, etc. - but put them aside when doing fieldwork and adopt a cultural relativist stand when studying a culture as a form of skepticism against their own biases. For example, I don't think any mainstream western anthropologist will argue that female genital mutilation is perfectly tolerable, but an anthropologist might point out that a circumcized woman is a more desirable bride in some cultures so if you forcefully prevent some people from performing FGM then you might be dooming a young woman to the life of an impoverished spinster in a patriarchal culture.

    But I agree with EM, I don't think it's really possible to be an active moral relativist (in the hard, meta-ethical sense).

    It would be hard to find a human that actually believes that their sense of right and wrong is no better than anyone else's. We judge all the time, so it's nearly impossible to argue that Moral Relativism is actually praticed by anyone, anywhere.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    If there is an objective moral fact, e.g. it is wrong to cause or permit suffering, then we can derive principles of what we ought to do from that - we ought to alleviate suffering, we ought to give to charity, etc.

    How do you justify this moral fact? IE, why is suffering bad?

    (This is largely a devil's advocate question. If I interpreted Nagel correctly, then he would argue that it just is, much in the same way that basic arithmetic is self-evident. And I largely agree with that.)

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    So... you're not so much critiquing the truth of relativism, but rather explaining the problems with the way the world actually is?

    In general, people have Venn diagrams of overlapping moralities, and disagreements can be settled by appealing to common ground. When this doesn't work, any number of other appeals might work. Also, as you note, there's always the option of might simply making right, and carrot/sticking individuals into accepting the desired moral paradigm.

    The question of ethics is, ultimately, how should we act? How ought we behave?

    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    You speak of the "desired moral paradigm," but as relativists, we must instantly see that the moral paradigm we desire is not inherently any more true than the one we are discouraging.

    I'm in basic agreement with all of the above.
    How, then, is it rational to act in support of that morality? If we say "I will pursue my morality even though I know it is a cultural artifact of no greater inherent moral worth than the one I'm discouraging," we are being disingenuous. We are claiming self awareness and then acting without considering its rational implications.

    What I am saying then, I suppose, is that it does not seem possible to be an active moral relativist. When morals conflict, we make judgments. We may be aware that those judgments come from relative cultural values, but if we did not believe that our morality was objectively, factually superior or more moral, we would not act to assert it.

    I don't understand the question, "how is it rational?". You didn't seem to have a problem with me using the phrase "desired moral paradigm"; is it irrational to seek to implement our desires? Again, relativism doesn't imply tolerance.

    If I and the bulk of the rest of my society believe that--for example--mitigating suffering is a worthwhile goal, and that we would prefer to have policies that affect suffering accordingly, we would be active moral relativists, guided by our common desire to live in a society with less suffering.

    Given your last line, you are saying that moral relativism implies tolerance, given that it implies a failure to assert one's own morality. It doesn't imply either.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • MoridinMoridin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    How, then, is it rational to act in support of that morality? If we say "I will pursue my morality even though I know it is a cultural artifact of no greater inherent moral worth than the one I'm discouraging," we are being disingenuous. We are claiming self awareness and then acting without considering its rational implications.

    What I am saying then, I suppose, is that it does not seem possible to be an active moral relativist. When morals conflict, we make judgments. We may be aware that those judgments come from relative cultural values, but if we did not believe that our morality was objectively, factually superior or more moral, we would not act to assert it.

    I don't understand the question, "how is it rational?". You didn't seem to have a problem with me using the phrase "desired moral paradigm"; is it irrational to seek to implement our desires? Again, relativism doesn't imply tolerance.

    If I and the bulk of the rest of my society believe that--for example--mitigating suffering is a worthwhile goal, and that we would prefer to have policies that affect suffering accordingly, we would be active moral relativists, guided by our common desire to live in a society with less suffering.

    Given your last line, you are saying that moral relativism implies tolerance, given that it implies a failure to assert one's own morality. It doesn't imply either.

    What is your rational justification for implementing your particular desire? That you desire it?

    Is it possible to desire something irrationally?

    sig10008eq.png
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Moral relativism may not be tolerant, but it has no ground to stand on when it tries to judge because it takes the position that no moral code is preferable to another.

    As soon as you say you prefer one moral code over another, then you must justify that, and in justifying such a belief you cease to be morally relativistic. In fact, as soon as depart the rubric of "it's all the same" then you are working in an Ethics that is not Moral Relativism, but something else.

  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Moridin wrote: »
    How, then, is it rational to act in support of that morality? If we say "I will pursue my morality even though I know it is a cultural artifact of no greater inherent moral worth than the one I'm discouraging," we are being disingenuous. We are claiming self awareness and then acting without considering its rational implications.

    What I am saying then, I suppose, is that it does not seem possible to be an active moral relativist. When morals conflict, we make judgments. We may be aware that those judgments come from relative cultural values, but if we did not believe that our morality was objectively, factually superior or more moral, we would not act to assert it.

    I don't understand the question, "how is it rational?". You didn't seem to have a problem with me using the phrase "desired moral paradigm"; is it irrational to seek to implement our desires? Again, relativism doesn't imply tolerance.

    If I and the bulk of the rest of my society believe that--for example--mitigating suffering is a worthwhile goal, and that we would prefer to have policies that affect suffering accordingly, we would be active moral relativists, guided by our common desire to live in a society with less suffering.

    Given your last line, you are saying that moral relativism implies tolerance, given that it implies a failure to assert one's own morality. It doesn't imply either.

    What is your rational justification for implementing your particular desire? That you desire it?

    Of course.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • MoridinMoridin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Moral relativism may not be tolerant, but it has no ground to stand on when it tries to judge because it takes the position that no moral code is preferable to another.

    False; it takes the position that no moral code is somehow more true than another. That's wholly different from what our preferences are.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Do you not see the problem with what you just said?

    As soon as you take the position that "no moral code is somehow more true than another" then you have no basis for preferences that can be argued from.

    Edit: I mean as a practical matter in relation to Moral Relativism, who gives a shit what your personal preference is? It's no more important than anyone else's by your own belief.

  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Moridin wrote: »
    Is it possible to desire something irrationally?

    I don't see why not.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Moridin wrote: »
    How, then, is it rational to act in support of that morality? If we say "I will pursue my morality even though I know it is a cultural artifact of no greater inherent moral worth than the one I'm discouraging," we are being disingenuous. We are claiming self awareness and then acting without considering its rational implications.

    What I am saying then, I suppose, is that it does not seem possible to be an active moral relativist. When morals conflict, we make judgments. We may be aware that those judgments come from relative cultural values, but if we did not believe that our morality was objectively, factually superior or more moral, we would not act to assert it.

    I don't understand the question, "how is it rational?". You didn't seem to have a problem with me using the phrase "desired moral paradigm"; is it irrational to seek to implement our desires? Again, relativism doesn't imply tolerance.

    If I and the bulk of the rest of my society believe that--for example--mitigating suffering is a worthwhile goal, and that we would prefer to have policies that affect suffering accordingly, we would be active moral relativists, guided by our common desire to live in a society with less suffering.

    Given your last line, you are saying that moral relativism implies tolerance, given that it implies a failure to assert one's own morality. It doesn't imply either.

    What is your rational justification for implementing your particular desire? That you desire it?

    Of course.

    Since when has "because I want you to" ever been a reasonable or convincing argument?

    EM has done a good job deflating the notion of Relativism. He deserves your praise, and possibly human sacrifices (Hey, my culture says it's okay, so back off).

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche
  • MoridinMoridin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Moridin wrote: »
    Is it possible to desire something irrationally?

    I don't see why not.

    Alright. So your justification for implementing your desires is that it is rational to try to implement your desires.

    Is it rational to implement an irrational desire?

    What is a rational desire?

    It seems like you've just replaced the word "moral" with "rational".

    sig10008eq.png
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Do you not see the problem with what you just said?

    As soon as you take the position that "no moral code is somehow more true than another" then you have no basis for preferences that can be argued from.

    No, as I noted earlier, many people have overlapping moral values, and arguments can (and do) suss themselves out by appealing to common moral grounds. Nothing precludes having substantive discussions on how to apply those values, either.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Moridin wrote: »
    How, then, is it rational to act in support of that morality? If we say "I will pursue my morality even though I know it is a cultural artifact of no greater inherent moral worth than the one I'm discouraging," we are being disingenuous. We are claiming self awareness and then acting without considering its rational implications.

    What I am saying then, I suppose, is that it does not seem possible to be an active moral relativist. When morals conflict, we make judgments. We may be aware that those judgments come from relative cultural values, but if we did not believe that our morality was objectively, factually superior or more moral, we would not act to assert it.

    I don't understand the question, "how is it rational?". You didn't seem to have a problem with me using the phrase "desired moral paradigm"; is it irrational to seek to implement our desires? Again, relativism doesn't imply tolerance.

    If I and the bulk of the rest of my society believe that--for example--mitigating suffering is a worthwhile goal, and that we would prefer to have policies that affect suffering accordingly, we would be active moral relativists, guided by our common desire to live in a society with less suffering.

    Given your last line, you are saying that moral relativism implies tolerance, given that it implies a failure to assert one's own morality. It doesn't imply either.

    What is your rational justification for implementing your particular desire? That you desire it?

    Of course.

    Since when has "because I want you to" ever been a reasonable or convincing argument?

    You're conflating my "rational justification for implementing my particular desire" with "a reasonable and convincing argument".

    Do you think I would couch my desires in terms of "I want [x]" to other people, or do you think it's more productive and convincing to appeal to our common desires?

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • Grey PaladinGrey Paladin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Moral relativism may not be tolerant, but it has no ground to stand on when it tries to judge because it takes the position that no moral code is preferable to another.

    As soon as you say you prefer one moral code over another, then you must justify that, and in justifying such a belief you cease to be morally relativistic. In fact, as soon as depart the rubric of "it's all the same" then you are working in an Ethics that is not Moral Relativism, but something else.

    You can fully believe that morals are relative while holding that for every given set X of purposes there is an optimal code Y to follow in order to achieve them and remain in coherence with their basis.

    If one person values his happiness above all other things, while another values the color brown and making things brown, then they cannot agree on a code of ethics that fits them both. Luckily, humanity as a whole has a set of pretty similar purposes. This does not means the best code for us to follow is the best code for said brown-loving alien, but as outlined in my first post in this thread there is a code that best fits the purpose most of humanity holds to.

    "All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible." - T.E. Lawrence
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Do you not see the problem with what you just said?

    As soon as you take the position that "no moral code is somehow more true than another" then you have no basis for preferences that can be argued from.

    No, as I noted earlier, many people have overlapping moral values, and arguments can (and do) suss themselves out by appealing to common moral grounds. Nothing precludes having substantive discussions on how to apply those values, either.

    Actually you are still wrong, or you don't actually believe in Moral Relativism (but think you do because you don't know what that is) or you want to change the definition so that your belief is not actually Moral Relativism.

    Moral Relativism has nothing to say about "common moral grounds" nor preferring commonalities to differences. Under Moral Relativism your basis for judgement is undermined by the fact that your morals are no more important than any others. Common grounds is no more justification than "because I said so" except it reads "because we said so".

    If you are interested in Ethical approaches that do justify rights and provide a basis to judge an act despite the prevailing culture, then Utilitarianism or Deontology and their derivatives are excellent. They both also acknowledge the fact that moral codes differ between groups of people.

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Moral relativism may not be tolerant, but it has no ground to stand on when it tries to judge because it takes the position that no moral code is preferable to another.

    As soon as you say you prefer one moral code over another, then you must justify that, and in justifying such a belief you cease to be morally relativistic. In fact, as soon as depart the rubric of "it's all the same" then you are working in an Ethics that is not Moral Relativism, but something else.

    You can fully believe that morals are relative while holding that for every given set X of purposes there is an optimal code Y to follow in order to achieve them and remain in coherence with their basis.

    If one person values his happiness above all other things, while another values the color brown and making things brown, then they cannot agree on a code of ethics that fits them both. Luckily, humanity as a whole has a set of pretty similar purposes. This does not means the best code for us to follow is the best code for said brown-loving alien, but as outlined in my first post in this thread there is a code that best fits the purpose most of humanity holds to.
    What you described is a less well thought out version of Utilitarianism, which is in opposition to Moral Relativism.

    Again, Utilitarianism and Deonotlogy do not deny the plain fact that moral codes differ over time, space and groups of people. The difference between them and Moral Relativism is that neither Utilitarianism or Deonotlogy says that all moral codes are equally valid, because they plainly are not.

  • JebusUDJebusUD Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    I want to point out something before the thread goes much further. I'm certain you're aware of this, EM, so this isn't a response to you; it's more just for the thread in general.

    Relativism, in the sense of cultural relativism as practiced by cultural anthropologists, isn't so much a meta-ethical philosophy as it is an operating assumption. Anthropologists tend to act as though there are moral facts - destroying the environment is bad, rape is bad, war is bad, etc. - but put them aside when doing fieldwork and adopt a cultural relativist stand when studying a culture as a form of skepticism against their own biases. For example, I don't think any mainstream western anthropologist will argue that female genital mutilation is perfectly tolerable, but an anthropologist might point out that a circumcized woman is a more desirable bride in some cultures so if you forcefully prevent some people from performing FGM then you might be dooming a young woman to the life of an impoverished spinster in a patriarchal culture.

    But I agree with EM, I don't think it's really possible to be an active moral relativist (in the hard, meta-ethical sense).

    On top of that, there is cultural relativism in the sense that some things are just as good as other things. For example, is it impolite to burp during a meal or is it impolite not to? It probably doesn't matter either way.

    You haven't given me a reason to steer clear of you!
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    I want to point out something before the thread goes much further. I'm certain you're aware of this, EM, so this isn't a response to you; it's more just for the thread in general.

    Relativism, in the sense of cultural relativism as practiced by cultural anthropologists, isn't so much a meta-ethical philosophy as it is an operating assumption. Anthropologists tend to act as though there are moral facts - destroying the environment is bad, rape is bad, war is bad, etc. - but put them aside when doing fieldwork and adopt a cultural relativist stand when studying a culture as a form of skepticism against their own biases. For example, I don't think any mainstream western anthropologist will argue that female genital mutilation is perfectly tolerable, but an anthropologist might point out that a circumcized woman is a more desirable bride in some cultures so if you forcefully prevent some people from performing FGM then you might be dooming a young woman to the life of an impoverished spinster in a patriarchal culture.

    But I agree with EM, I don't think it's really possible to be an active moral relativist (in the hard, meta-ethical sense).

    On top of that, there is cultural relativism in the sense that some things are just as good as other things. For example, is it impolite to burp during a meal or is it impolite not to? It probably doesn't matter either way.

    Perhaps what you mean is that not all behaviors have a moral component?

    I'll agree that many behaviors have no moral impact one way or another, if that's what you meant.

  • Grey PaladinGrey Paladin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    Moral relativism may not be tolerant, but it has no ground to stand on when it tries to judge because it takes the position that no moral code is preferable to another.

    As soon as you say you prefer one moral code over another, then you must justify that, and in justifying such a belief you cease to be morally relativistic. In fact, as soon as depart the rubric of "it's all the same" then you are working in an Ethics that is not Moral Relativism, but something else.

    You can fully believe that morals are relative while holding that for every given set X of purposes there is an optimal code Y to follow in order to achieve them and remain in coherence with their basis.

    If one person values his happiness above all other things, while another values the color brown and making things brown, then they cannot agree on a code of ethics that fits them both. Luckily, humanity as a whole has a set of pretty similar purposes. This does not means the best code for us to follow is the best code for said brown-loving alien, but as outlined in my first post in this thread there is a code that best fits the purpose most of humanity holds to.
    What you described is a less well thought out version of Utilitarianism, which is in opposition to Moral Relativism.

    Again, Utilitarianism and Deonotlogy do not deny the plain fact that moral codes differ over time, space and groups of people. The difference between them and Moral Relativism is that neither Utilitarianism or Deonotlogy says that all moral codes are equally valid, because they plainly are not.
    I am having a hard time seeing how utilitarianism opposes moral relativism. If I am missing something, educate me.
    All moral codes are equally valid objectively, but for every subjective person and/or group there is an ideal code to follow. Since what is best for each entity depends on the subjective purpose of said entity, the value of said code is entirely subjective on an objective scale.

    "All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible." - T.E. Lawrence
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    Moral relativism may not be tolerant, but it has no ground to stand on when it tries to judge because it takes the position that no moral code is preferable to another.

    As soon as you say you prefer one moral code over another, then you must justify that, and in justifying such a belief you cease to be morally relativistic. In fact, as soon as depart the rubric of "it's all the same" then you are working in an Ethics that is not Moral Relativism, but something else.

    You can fully believe that morals are relative while holding that for every given set X of purposes there is an optimal code Y to follow in order to achieve them and remain in coherence with their basis.

    If one person values his happiness above all other things, while another values the color brown and making things brown, then they cannot agree on a code of ethics that fits them both. Luckily, humanity as a whole has a set of pretty similar purposes. This does not means the best code for us to follow is the best code for said brown-loving alien, but as outlined in my first post in this thread there is a code that best fits the purpose most of humanity holds to.
    What you described is a less well thought out version of Utilitarianism, which is in opposition to Moral Relativism.

    Again, Utilitarianism and Deonotlogy do not deny the plain fact that moral codes differ over time, space and groups of people. The difference between them and Moral Relativism is that neither Utilitarianism or Deonotlogy says that all moral codes are equally valid, because they plainly are not.
    I am having a hard time to see how utilitarianism opposes moral relativism. If I am missing something, educate me.
    All moral codes are equally valid objectively, but for every subjective person and/or group there is an ideal code to follow. Since what is best for each entity depends on the subjective purpose of said entity, the value of said code is entirely subjective on an objective scale.
    Using an objective scale is not a component of Moral Relativism, because it clearly states that there is no such thing. Utilitarianism takes the opposing view: there is an objective scale of some kind, that we humans can discover through reason, by which an act's moral correctness may be assessed.

  • Grey PaladinGrey Paladin Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    But... that is the point! since there is no objective scale, no action and/or code can be judged to be better or worse than another, only to better fulfil subjective criteria, which has no non-subjective value.

    "All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible." - T.E. Lawrence
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Moridin wrote: »
    Moridin wrote: »
    Is it possible to desire something irrationally?

    I don't see why not.

    Alright. So your justification for implementing your desires is that it is rational to try to implement your desires.

    Is it rational to implement an irrational desire?

    What is a rational desire?

    It seems like you've just replaced the word "moral" with "rational".

    "Rational" is a word I was asking questions about. I didn't bring it into the conversation (Evil Multifarious did), and as such my attachment to it ends at the point where my intended meaning becomes obscured.

    My point was that people are motivated by desires, things they want. To various extents, they may want these things such that they adversely affect other desires that--were they to logically consider their actions and desires--they would act differently.

    It's past my bedtime and I'm getting hella server overloaded messages. I'm out for the night. sorry all.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Perhaps what you mean is that not all behaviors have a moral component?

    I'll agree that many behaviors have no moral impact one way or another, if that's what you meant.

    Matters of etiquette are not moral facts, even to a moral realist.

    There may be a moral component to the behavior. For instance, it is not a moral fact that driving on the right side of the road is better than driving on the left side of the road. However, if I were to drive on the left side of the road in the United States, that would be immoral, because I'd be putting people at risk.

    But there's nothing intrinsically better about everybody agreeing to do one over the other.

    Looking at our own moral expectations with skepticism (by adopting a soft cultural relativist stand as an operating assumption, much like a null hypothesis) helps us determine when an expectation is more like a traffic rule than a moral fact.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Feral, the Deonotological is even easier: the law is just, following just laws is morally required, therefore following just driving laws is a moral requirement.

    An analysis of copyright laws exhibits much the same characteristics. There is nothing immoral about downloading copies, because you aren't actually depriving onwer of those rights of the use of a thing, but since we made a law about it, it has become morally prohibited, because it is not an unjkust law (arguably stupid though).

    Just to get this in once more: Moral Relativism takes "there's nothing intrinsically better about everybody agreeing to do one over the other" too far, because there are actually certain universal truths in morality.

  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    I want to point out something before the thread goes much further. I'm certain you're aware of this, EM, so this isn't a response to you; it's more just for the thread in general.

    Relativism, in the sense of cultural relativism as practiced by cultural anthropologists, isn't so much a meta-ethical philosophy as it is an operating assumption. Anthropologists tend to act as though there are moral facts - destroying the environment is bad, rape is bad, war is bad, etc. - but put them aside when doing fieldwork and adopt a cultural relativist stand when studying a culture as a form of skepticism against their own biases. For example, I don't think any mainstream western anthropologist will argue that female genital mutilation is perfectly tolerable, but an anthropologist might point out that a circumcized woman is a more desirable bride in some cultures so if you forcefully prevent some people from performing FGM then you might be dooming a young woman to the life of an impoverished spinster in a patriarchal culture.

    But I agree with EM, I don't think it's really possible to be an active moral relativist (in the hard, meta-ethical sense).

    On top of that, there is cultural relativism in the sense that some things are just as good as other things. For example, is it impolite to burp during a meal or is it impolite not to? It probably doesn't matter either way.

    The problem is that Moral Relativism essentially equates morality with rules about politeness.

    Is it true that different people in different places believe different things are right and wrong? To a certain extent, sure, but that doesn't mean that no one is correct or not.

    My friends have a good analogy for this. It's like going to two different doctors, getting two different diagnosis and concluding that there is no such thing as disease.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    I want to point out something before the thread goes much further. I'm certain you're aware of this, EM, so this isn't a response to you; it's more just for the thread in general.

    Relativism, in the sense of cultural relativism as practiced by cultural anthropologists, isn't so much a meta-ethical philosophy as it is an operating assumption. Anthropologists tend to act as though there are moral facts - destroying the environment is bad, rape is bad, war is bad, etc. - but put them aside when doing fieldwork and adopt a cultural relativist stand when studying a culture as a form of skepticism against their own biases. For example, I don't think any mainstream western anthropologist will argue that female genital mutilation is perfectly tolerable, but an anthropologist might point out that a circumcized woman is a more desirable bride in some cultures so if you forcefully prevent some people from performing FGM then you might be dooming a young woman to the life of an impoverished spinster in a patriarchal culture.

    But I agree with EM, I don't think it's really possible to be an active moral relativist (in the hard, meta-ethical sense).

    On top of that, there is cultural relativism in the sense that some things are just as good as other things. For example, is it impolite to burp during a meal or is it impolite not to? It probably doesn't matter either way.

    The problem is that Moral Relativism essentially equates morality with rules about politeness.

    Is it true that different people in different places believe different things are right and wrong? To a certain extent, sure, but that doesn't mean that no one is correct or not.

    My friends have a good analogy for this. It's like going to two different doctors, getting two different diagnosis and concluding that there is no such thing as disease.

    The problem there is more that moral objectivists have difficulty comprehending moral relativism.

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    But... that is the point! since there is no objective scale, no action and/or code can be judged to be better or worse than another, only to better fulfil subjective criteria, which has no non-subjective value.

    Please try again, as this post made no sense at all.

  • lazegamerlazegamer Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    Do you not see the problem with what you just said?

    As soon as you take the position that "no moral code is somehow more true than another" then you have no basis for preferences that can be argued from.

    No, as I noted earlier, many people have overlapping moral values, and arguments can (and do) suss themselves out by appealing to common moral grounds. Nothing precludes having substantive discussions on how to apply those values, either.

    Actually you are still wrong, or you don't actually believe in Moral Relativism (but think you do because you don't know what that is) or you want to change the definition so that your belief is not actually Moral Relativism.

    Moral Relativism has nothing to say about "common moral grounds" nor preferring commonalities to differences. Under Moral Relativism your basis for judgement is undermined by the fact that your morals are no more important than any others. Common grounds is no more justification than "because I said so" except it reads "because we said so".

    If you are interested in Ethical approaches that do justify rights and provide a basis to judge an act despite the prevailing culture, then Utilitarianism or Deontology and their derivatives are excellent. They both also acknowledge the fact that moral codes differ between groups of people.

    You're confusing an observation about human interaction with an argument for moral relativism. The quote above does not suggest that moral relativism has anything at all to say about common moral grounds, merely that in the absence of a recognized objective morality social frameworks can still exist.

    Surprise.
    - Spy
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Ooops, I lied. One more.
    hanskey wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    Do you not see the problem with what you just said?

    As soon as you take the position that "no moral code is somehow more true than another" then you have no basis for preferences that can be argued from.

    No, as I noted earlier, many people have overlapping moral values, and arguments can (and do) suss themselves out by appealing to common moral grounds. Nothing precludes having substantive discussions on how to apply those values, either.

    Moral Relativism has nothing to say about "common moral grounds" nor preferring commonalities to differences. Under Moral Relativism your basis for judgement is undermined by the fact that your morals are no more important than any others. Common grounds is no more justification than "because I said so" except it reads "because we said so".

    I didn't underwrite my comments about "common moral grounds" with moral relativism. That's simply a strategy for resolving differences and getting what we want that works irrespective of most understandings of morality.

    Perhaps I misunderstood your earlier statement. I believe that "I want this" is sufficient as a basis, and in the context of an argument, "we both want this" is often sufficiently compelling to get things accomplished.

    EDIT: ...and lazegamer makes my extra-late post irrelevant.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    jothki wrote: »
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    I am saying that a position of moral relativism offers no answer to that question. It is more an explanation of why we act the way we do.

    I want to point out something before the thread goes much further. I'm certain you're aware of this, EM, so this isn't a response to you; it's more just for the thread in general.

    Relativism, in the sense of cultural relativism as practiced by cultural anthropologists, isn't so much a meta-ethical philosophy as it is an operating assumption. Anthropologists tend to act as though there are moral facts - destroying the environment is bad, rape is bad, war is bad, etc. - but put them aside when doing fieldwork and adopt a cultural relativist stand when studying a culture as a form of skepticism against their own biases. For example, I don't think any mainstream western anthropologist will argue that female genital mutilation is perfectly tolerable, but an anthropologist might point out that a circumcized woman is a more desirable bride in some cultures so if you forcefully prevent some people from performing FGM then you might be dooming a young woman to the life of an impoverished spinster in a patriarchal culture.

    But I agree with EM, I don't think it's really possible to be an active moral relativist (in the hard, meta-ethical sense).

    On top of that, there is cultural relativism in the sense that some things are just as good as other things. For example, is it impolite to burp during a meal or is it impolite not to? It probably doesn't matter either way.

    The problem is that Moral Relativism essentially equates morality with rules about politeness.

    Is it true that different people in different places believe different things are right and wrong? To a certain extent, sure, but that doesn't mean that no one is correct or not.

    My friends have a good analogy for this. It's like going to two different doctors, getting two different diagnosis and concluding that there is no such thing as disease.

    The problem there is more that moral objectivists have difficulty comprehending moral relativism.
    No.

    The problem is that Moral Relativists don't understand the implications of their own ethical stance, nor do they actually know anything about "objective" moral systems such as Utilitarianism or Deontology, if this thread is a representative sample.

    Moral Relativism is only useful in stating observable fact, but provides nothing else. Other ethical systems also accept observable fact, but then also judge various codes of ethics in comparison to each other and with respect to a universal code.

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