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Moral Relativism

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    darthmixdarthmix Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    darthmix wrote: »
    Is there anyone in philosophy who's taken on the mantle of moral relativism, and argued in favor of it? It seems like it's really just a slur. As best I can tell moral relativism is the idea that, since there is no universal standard of morality, no moral position is possible across cultures. By and large even people who accept the first premise don't accept the second.

    The problem with moral relativity is that some people take it as an excuse to be malicious assholes.

    This is why Christians are afraid of atheists.

    You can use virtually any moral system as an excuse to be a malicious asshole, which is why atheists are afraid of Christians.

    darthmix on
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    TL DRTL DR Not at all confident in his reflexive opinions of thingsRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Adrien wrote: »
    Adrien wrote: »
    Adrien wrote: »

    This does not apply to all actions, however. Murder, for example, is not in and of itself amoral. Even in a society that allows a man to murder his wife for being infertile, to use a hypothetical, that act can be objectively declared to be something we ought not to do.

    I think that the problem with this stems from your use of the passive voice. Try rewriting "that act can be objectively declared to be something we ought not to do" as active and I think you'll find yourself with a nice little contradiction.

    This does not apply to all actions, however. Murder, for example, is not in and of itself amoral. Even in a society that allows a man to murder his wife for being infertile, to use a hypothetical, that shit is wrong.
    Where's the contradiction? Are you questioning that we can objectively judge another culture?

    Not what I'm looking for. Do you know the difference between active and passive voice? I want you to write the sentence, "that act can be objectively declared to be something we ought not to do," but include as subject the noun which (or, presumably, who) is doing the declaring.

    "I declare that a man ought not to murder his wife, even if it is socially acceptable"
    So you're questioning that we can objectively judge another culture.

    That's not the same sentence.

    I'm not questioning anything. I'm stating that a priori "I" or "you" or "we" cannot declare something "objectively". I assume you agree with that, or you wouldn't keep dropping the word "objectively" from that sentence.

    Ok. So as I said several posts ago... I suppose I can agree that 'objective' can be a strong claim here, although it still seems to be the most apt to describe the idea. Sure, it's not something you can punch into a graphing calculator to determine, but I believe that through arguments based on factual premises we can determine whether an action is moral or not.

    TL DR on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    darthmix wrote: »
    You can use virtually any moral system as an excuse to be a malicious asshole, which is why atheists are afraid of Christians.

    Also true! Which is why moral systems are funny.

    Incenjucar on
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    DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Pony wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Murder is mostly defined by whether or not the government said you could do it. :P

    That's not true. At all. Leads to the 2+2=5 business.

    Murder is depriving another being of life. The social ramifications are defined by the government/society

    So you consider all willful and deliberate cessation of human life to be murder, is that correct?

    Regardless of the reasons, timeframes, or chain of events that led up to that choice, every single time a human being knowingly chooses to end the life of another human being, they have murdered that person?

    Yes without a doubt. Can there be justification? Definitely but it's still murder.

    DasUberEdward on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Yes without a doubt. Can there be justification? Definitely but it's still murder.

    Just about every nation in the world and throughout time disagrees.

    Incenjucar on
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    JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Candy IslandRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Pony wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Murder is mostly defined by whether or not the government said you could do it. :P

    That's not true. At all. Leads to the 2+2=5 business.

    Murder is depriving another being of life. The social ramifications are defined by the government/society

    So you consider all willful and deliberate cessation of human life to be murder, is that correct?

    Regardless of the reasons, timeframes, or chain of events that led up to that choice, every single time a human being knowingly chooses to end the life of another human being, they have murdered that person?

    Yes without a doubt. Can there be justification? Definitely but it's still murder.

    Are you saying voluntary euthanasia is murder?

    JebusUD on
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    TL DRTL DR Not at all confident in his reflexive opinions of thingsRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Pony wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Murder is mostly defined by whether or not the government said you could do it. :P

    That's not true. At all. Leads to the 2+2=5 business.

    Murder is depriving another being of life. The social ramifications are defined by the government/society

    So you consider all willful and deliberate cessation of human life to be murder, is that correct?

    Regardless of the reasons, timeframes, or chain of events that led up to that choice, every single time a human being knowingly chooses to end the life of another human being, they have murdered that person?

    You're ignoring context and arguing semantics. We could just as easily have said "Willfully depriving another human being of life is something that one ought not to do" but it's easier to say murder, because that implies deprivation of life and willfulness.

    Context and shades of grey have been addressed several times already. Stop bringing up cases in which X act is moral or immoral if it is only because of context that overrides the act's basic value.

    TL DR on
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    theclamtheclam Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    The generally understood definition is that murder is unjustified killing. Saying that all killing is murder and then saying that there is a subset of murders that are unjustified and a subset that is justified is not very helpful.

    theclam on
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    DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Yes without a doubt. Can there be justification? Definitely but it's still murder.

    Just about every nation in the world and throughout time disagrees.

    How? A justification does not change the act. If I had to take a life to protect my family it would still be murder.

    Edit: Sorry. Semantics. Just for the sake of it I will continue to justify that any act of killing is murder. Euthanasia is admittedly a tough subject to tackle.

    DasUberEdward on
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    MorninglordMorninglord I'm tired of being Batman, so today I'll be Owl.Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Can I ask a stupid non-philosopher question.

    What's the definition of a moral.

    Podly gave one in another thread.

    But what is it.

    Many of the arguments are based around applying morals or giving guidelines for how morals should be formed.

    But what is the definition?

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    AdrienAdrien Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Yes without a doubt. Can there be justification? Definitely but it's still murder.

    Just about every nation in the world and throughout time disagrees.

    Well, more to the point just about every English speaker in the world and throughout time disagrees. If you call any kind of killing murder, it's really just an inappropriate use of the term.

    Adrien on
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    KaputaKaputa Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Pony wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Murder is mostly defined by whether or not the government said you could do it. :P

    That's not true. At all. Leads to the 2+2=5 business.

    Murder is depriving another being of life. The social ramifications are defined by the government/society

    So you consider all willful and deliberate cessation of human life to be murder, is that correct?

    Regardless of the reasons, timeframes, or chain of events that led up to that choice, every single time a human being knowingly chooses to end the life of another human being, they have murdered that person?

    Yes without a doubt. Can there be justification? Definitely but it's still murder.
    Why do you people think you can just invent new meanings for words as you please? "Any willful cessation of human life" is not what murder means. You can argue about whether it's ever ethical to end a person's life, but murder refers to a specific subset of those life-endings.

    Kaputa on
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    durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Adrien wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Yes without a doubt. Can there be justification? Definitely but it's still murder.

    Just about every nation in the world and throughout time disagrees.

    Well, more to the point just about every English speaker in the world and throughout time disagrees. If you call any kind of killing murder, it's really just an inappropriate use of the term.

    I think there's something wrong when your definition of "murder" includes suicide.

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    DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Adrien wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Yes without a doubt. Can there be justification? Definitely but it's still murder.

    Just about every nation in the world and throughout time disagrees.

    Well, more to the point just about every English speaker in the world and throughout time disagrees. If you call any kind of killing murder, it's really just an inappropriate use of the term.

    It really isn't if you are willing to accept that humans have ineffable given rights.

    DasUberEdward on
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    theclamtheclam Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Can I ask a stupid non-philosopher question.

    What's the definition of a moral.

    Podly gave one in another thread.

    But what is it.

    Many of the arguments are based around applying morals or giving guidelines for how morals should be formed.

    But what is the definition?

    My philosophy teacher would tell you that morals and ethics are systems that tell you how to live your life in a 'good' way.

    theclam on
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    PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    The reality of moral relativism is that by conceding that morality is truly relative, and that there is no objective standard by which to judge and assess human conduct, you have opened your societal structure to the arguments of men like Marquis de Sade: If a person lacks any objective reason for moral conduct, they have no reason to act morally beyond what society forces them to.

    It's why the blindly religious fear atheists; the idea that a person without the threat of God or karmic retribution or some other "universal judging force" hanging over their heads will just do whatever they can get away with.

    And you know what? That is exactly what happens unless a person makes a choice to adopt a personal ethical code of optimization.

    Every single secular ethical philosophy is, essentially, based around optimizing. It is about co-operating with a societal structure and adhering to certain outlined consensus concepts for a superior benefit. Whether that benefit classifies as some kind of "greater good" or "personal success" or whatever depends on whether you are takling to a deontologist or a consequentialist or, God help you, an objectivist, or whoever.

    The various schools of secular ethical thought diverge on how to optimize and what should be optimized, but they are all founded on the idea that people should adhere to these concepts for some kind of benefit, rather than a threat of damnation or whatever.

    The threat of anarchy is usually enough.

    Pony on
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    DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Kaputa wrote: »
    Pony wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Murder is mostly defined by whether or not the government said you could do it. :P

    That's not true. At all. Leads to the 2+2=5 business.

    Murder is depriving another being of life. The social ramifications are defined by the government/society

    So you consider all willful and deliberate cessation of human life to be murder, is that correct?

    Regardless of the reasons, timeframes, or chain of events that led up to that choice, every single time a human being knowingly chooses to end the life of another human being, they have murdered that person?

    Yes without a doubt. Can there be justification? Definitely but it's still murder.
    Why do you people think you can just invent new meanings for words as you please? "Any willful cessation of human life" is not what murder means. You can argue about whether it's ever ethical to end a person's life, but murder refers to a specific subset of those life-endings.

    I made an edit last page to address this.

    DasUberEdward on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Adrien wrote: »
    Well, more to the point just about every English speaker in the world and throughout time disagrees. If you call any kind of killing murder, it's really just an inappropriate use of the term.

    Seriously.

    It's like calling any form of sex where someone is tied up and gagged "rape."

    Words have a seperate fucking meaning.

    ---

    Pony: <3

    Incenjucar on
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    darthmixdarthmix Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    You really have to understand restrictions on things like murder, and theft, as a kind of promise society makes to its members. The promise is that we (society) will not tolerate people trying to kill you or take your stuff. In return for this guarantee, you agree not to kill other people or take their stuff. And so the world goes 'round. It's for these reasons that restrictions on murder cease to apply when you're talking about things like capital punishment, or war, or euthanasia, or even abortion. It only becomes murder when it appears to threaten the society's guarantee that I won't be murdered.

    darthmix on
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    DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Just to be clear.

    Killing a person who stabbed someone without reason or justification would not be murder?

    DasUberEdward on
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    ArgusArgus Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    We do it all the time. What else is war but sometimes moral murder?

    Again, just like you can offend someone for a good reason and have the overall act have been moral, you can kill in self defense, for example. Killing is something we ought not to do, but if a person is attempting to kill me because he wants my property and I kill him so that I can live, we would not call my actions immoral.

    I think the important thing to point out here is the inherent balance between perceived "goodness" and "wrong" in the action. You say killing in general should be avoided, setting it as something wrong overall, but have exceptions, such as killing in self-defense or killing to prevent theft. In such cases, you must admit that you determine whether the action is moral by balancing the general negative value of killing with the perceived positive value of not dying, or preventing someone from stealing from you, or other positive values. It is only when the positive outweighs the negative that you declare the killing "moral," and in the cases that the negative outweighs the positive, "immoral."

    But the problem is that the perceived positive or negative values of various actions are not universal; as one example, female genital mutilation is perceived in the West as something abhorrent and inherently wrong, but in parts of Africa, it is still continued to this day due to perceived positive values such as preventing rape, preventing adultery, and the like.

    In light of this, how can morality be objective?

    Argus on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    One of the big things society does is it sequestors the individual's right to violence and seizure of property. By giving up the right to kill and take, you secure yourself against it. However, you have not ELIMINATED that ability, merely given it to a body which is hopefully not subject to as much whimsy as a single person in the heat of the moment.

    Incenjucar on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Killing a person who stabbed someone without reason or justification would not be murder?

    The electric chair, lawfully used, is not considered murder.

    Incenjucar on
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    theclamtheclam Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Just to be clear.

    Killing a person who stabbed someone without reason or justification would not be murder?

    It might be, but it isn't necessarily murder.

    theclam on
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    MorninglordMorninglord I'm tired of being Batman, so today I'll be Owl.Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    theclam wrote: »
    Can I ask a stupid non-philosopher question.

    What's the definition of a moral.

    Podly gave one in another thread.

    But what is it.

    Many of the arguments are based around applying morals or giving guidelines for how morals should be formed.

    But what is the definition?

    My philosophy teacher would tell you that morals and ethics are systems that tell you how to live your life in a 'good' way.

    What kind of systems.

    Morninglord on
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    KaputaKaputa Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Just to be clear.

    Killing a person who stabbed someone without reason or justification would not be murder?
    It would. It might be justifiable, but it would still be murder, and it would legally be regarded as such.

    edit- Whereas shooting this person because he's coming at you with a knife might not be murder.

    Kaputa on
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    PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    darthmix wrote: »
    You really have to understand restrictions on things like murder, and theft, as a kind of promise society makes to its members. The promise is that we (society) will not tolerate people trying to kill you or take your stuff. In return for this guarantee, you agree not to kill other people or take their stuff. And so the world goes 'round. It's for these reasons that restrictions on murder cease to apply when you're talking about things like capital punishment, or war, or euthanasia, or even abortion. It only becomes murder when it appears to threaten the society's guarantee that I won't be murdered.

    This is the point I was trying to make to the folks like Edward who were tossing the word murder around for any willful ending of human life.

    Murder has a specific linguistic (and legal!) definition and just because you think it is a more visceral word than killing doesn't mean you should be applying murder to every time a person ends another person's life.

    Pony on
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    JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Candy IslandRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Pony wrote: »
    The various schools of secular ethical thought diverge on how to optimize and what should be optimized, but they are all founded on the idea that people should adhere to these concepts for some kind of benefit, rather than a threat of damnation or whatever.

    That does not mean there isn't an optimum optimizer.

    There is an objective optimum.

    JebusUD on
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    theclamtheclam Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    theclam wrote: »
    Can I ask a stupid non-philosopher question.

    What's the definition of a moral.

    Podly gave one in another thread.

    But what is it.

    Many of the arguments are based around applying morals or giving guidelines for how morals should be formed.

    But what is the definition?

    My philosophy teacher would tell you that morals and ethics are systems that tell you how to live your life in a 'good' way.

    What kind of systems.

    Systems of rules, values, and/or desired outcomes, among other things.

    theclam on
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    MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited November 2008

    By me, yes. If someone can lay out an argument that convinces me that murder or rape can be moral acts, I'm ready to hear it.
    The burden of proof lies upon you. You are the one making the positive claim that A) there exists an objective morality, and B) you have happened upon it, or a facet of it.

    MikeMan on
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    MorninglordMorninglord I'm tired of being Batman, so today I'll be Owl.Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    theclam wrote: »
    theclam wrote: »
    Can I ask a stupid non-philosopher question.

    What's the definition of a moral.

    Podly gave one in another thread.

    But what is it.

    Many of the arguments are based around applying morals or giving guidelines for how morals should be formed.

    But what is the definition?

    My philosophy teacher would tell you that morals and ethics are systems that tell you how to live your life in a 'good' way.

    What kind of systems.

    Systems of rules, values, and/or desired outcomes, among other things.

    Hmmm. Thanks for the information.

    Morninglord on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    JebusUD wrote: »
    There is an objective optimum.

    Dependant on your goals, and limited by your knowledge.

    Incenjucar on
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    Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Pony wrote: »
    The various schools of secular ethical thought diverge on how to optimize and what should be optimized, but they are all founded on the idea that people should adhere to these concepts for some kind of benefit, rather than a threat of damnation or whatever.

    That does not mean there isn't an optimum optimizer.

    There is an objective optimum.

    Not if you can't agree on what is optimum. Which most people don't.

    Phoenix-D on
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    RonaldoTheGypsyRonaldoTheGypsy Yes, yes Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I'm a humanist. I think that pretty accurately describes my position.

    Moreover, I realize my chaste outlook on morality and human condition is somewhat of an insult to some and dubious to others so I will just note that I don't want to start quoting textbooks or calling names [any more than has already been done] so I apologize for whatever facet of this conversation I have added to in the past and acknowledge that my position is quixotic and therefore difficult to 'debate' in any reasonable fashion.

    RonaldoTheGypsy on
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    DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Pony wrote: »
    darthmix wrote: »
    You really have to understand restrictions on things like murder, and theft, as a kind of promise society makes to its members. The promise is that we (society) will not tolerate people trying to kill you or take your stuff. In return for this guarantee, you agree not to kill other people or take their stuff. And so the world goes 'round. It's for these reasons that restrictions on murder cease to apply when you're talking about things like capital punishment, or war, or euthanasia, or even abortion. It only becomes murder when it appears to threaten the society's guarantee that I won't be murdered.

    This is the point I was trying to make to the folks like Edward who were tossing the word murder around for any willful ending of human life.

    Murder has a specific linguistic (and legal!) definition and just because you think it is a more visceral word than killing doesn't mean you should be applying murder to every time a person ends another person's life.

    I've honestly been using the two interchangeably. I do not think that murder is particularly more visceral. I do think that killing is immoral no matter what the situation. But this does not mean that justification can never exist for killing another person.

    DasUberEdward on
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    PodlyPodly you unzipped me! it's all coming back! i don't like it!Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Morality deals with the "goodness" of an act, which necessarily deals with things which are correct and good a priori.

    Ethics essentially looks at things a posteriori to judge the goodness of things in a context.

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    PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Pony wrote: »
    The various schools of secular ethical thought diverge on how to optimize and what should be optimized, but they are all founded on the idea that people should adhere to these concepts for some kind of benefit, rather than a threat of damnation or whatever.

    That does not mean there isn't an optimum optimizer.

    There is an objective optimum.

    If it's objective, you should be able to come to a clear and logical conclusion as to why it is the objective optimum.

    You should be able to illustrate, with clear examples, why it is the objective optimum and that standard should stand up to all scrutiny and all provided examples.

    You should also be able to illustrate with this standard why the optimization it proposes is, in fact, objectively superior to a contrasting system that has a different focus of optimization.

    For example, compare deontology to consequentialism. Both have very different goals and very different focused points of optimization, and if either one of them was truly an objective standard, it would be possible to illustrate this in every scenario poised to either system.

    Pony on
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    IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    I do think that killing is immoral no matter what the situation.

    This makes you a minority throughout time and space.

    You realize this.

    Incenjucar on
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    MorninglordMorninglord I'm tired of being Batman, so today I'll be Owl.Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Was having a look through my uni journal, even thought I should be finishing something.

    But oh well I found this abstract:
    Research on moral judgment has been dominated by rationalist models, in which moral judgment is
    thought to be caused by moral reasoning. Four reasons are given for considering the hypothesis that moral
    reasoning does not cause moral judgment; rather, moral reasoning is usually a post-hoc construction,
    generated after a judgment has been reached. The social intuitionist model is presented as an alternative to
    rationalist models. The model is a social model in that it de-emphasizes the private reasoning done by
    individuals, emphasizing instead the importance of social and cultural influences. The model is an
    intuitionist model in that it states that moral judgment is generally the result of quick, automatic evaluations
    (intuitions). The model is more consistent than rationalist models with recent findings in social, cultural,
    evolutionary, and biological psychology, as well as anthropology and primatology.

    Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach
    to moral judgment. Psychological Review. 108, 814-834

    I had a quick view.

    the basic idea is (and this is the models stance, not mine!) that people automatically and intuitively make a moral judgement, then construct justifications at a later date.

    Was an interesting skim, will need to read it again later.

    Morninglord on
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    JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Candy IslandRegistered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    JebusUD wrote: »
    Pony wrote: »
    The various schools of secular ethical thought diverge on how to optimize and what should be optimized, but they are all founded on the idea that people should adhere to these concepts for some kind of benefit, rather than a threat of damnation or whatever.

    That does not mean there isn't an optimum optimizer.

    There is an objective optimum.

    Not if you can't agree on what is optimum. Which most people don't.

    Don't be silly. Say there is a picture on the wall. I say it tilts a little to the left of parellel to the floor. You say it is a little to the right.

    Both of us could be wrong. That does not mean there is not a point where it is parellel.

    JebusUD on
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