1. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    09 Jun '08 06:43
    In the thread Thread 94960 a lot of people are arguing that morals are not absolute. I am not convinced by the arguments.
    For example:
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    I don't think there are absolute moral laws. Every moral law is subject to the culture.
    In my culture female circumcision is awfully morally wrong, but in other cultures it is perfectly alright and within tradition.


    Are morals merely a product of culture? I dont think so. Most cultures I know have some highly immoral practices.
    Is female circumcision (as practiced by certain tribes - not for medical reasons etc) morally right? I don't think so.

    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    Racism didn't become morally wrong until the 1950's in the US
    If that is true then why did people pre-1950 try to stop it?

    I simply don't accept the apparent argument that morals are a product of societal norms nor do I accept that morals are relative. We must keep in mind that a moral statement must include the condition that no other circumstance have a moral bearing on the matter. It is morally wrong to steal, but nevertheless there are circumstances in which other factors outweigh the no-steal moral. But at no point does the no-steal moral go away. Also, one must note the root basis for the moral and not focus on the application to a given circumstance - and this is the only place I see the possibility for non-absoluteness because we may all have different roots for our morals.
    But I find the idea that morals change relative to time, or are correct in specific societies to be totally wrong. Either morals are absolute or they are unique to every individual.
  2. Standard memberSwissGambit
    Caninus Interruptus
    2014.05.01
    Joined
    11 Apr '07
    Moves
    92274
    09 Jun '08 07:051 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    In the thread Thread 94960 a lot of people are arguing that morals are not absolute. I am not convinced by the arguments.
    For example:
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    [b]I don't think there are absolute moral laws. Every moral law is subject to the culture.
    In my culture female circumcision is awfully morally wrong, but in other c ...[text shortened]... ies to be totally wrong. Either morals are absolute or they are unique to every individual.
    [/b]
    The word "moral" can refer to a person's individual moral code, or a society's moral code, as well as 'ideal' morality, or ethics. Thus, it is too extreme to say, "Either morals are absolute or they are unique to every individual". Both definitions are applicable.

    I tend to agree with you that some things are always morally wrong, regardless of what anyone's personal moral code may claim. Slavery, and the killing of innocent people, are obvious examples. Someone may believe these things to be morally right, but it would just mean that their personal moral code is flawed.
  3. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    09 Jun '08 07:171 edit
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    The word "moral" can refer to a person's individual moral code, or a society's moral code, as well as 'ideal' morality, or ethics. Thus, it is too extreme to say, "Either morals are absolute or they are unique to every individual". Both definitions are applicable.
    Thanks for the correction.

    I think part of the problem then is differing meanings of the word 'moral'.

    Maybe everyone should state which definition of the word they are using before making claims about what morals are or aren't.

    I still think that the statement:
    "Slavery was considered morally acceptable in America at a given date"
    is not equivalent to
    "It was morally correct to have slavery in America at a given date".

    I cant see how a given moral under any definition can be anything but absolute. What differs is the systems.
  4. Standard memberscottishinnz
    Kichigai!
    Osaka
    Joined
    27 Apr '05
    Moves
    8592
    09 Jun '08 07:30
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Thanks for the correction.

    I think part of the problem then is differing meanings of the word 'moral'.

    Maybe everyone should state which definition of the word they are using before making claims about what morals are or aren't.

    I still think that the statement:
    "Slavery was considered morally acceptable in America at a given date"
    is not equiv ...[text shortened]... ven moral under any definition can be anything but absolute. What differs is the systems.
    Precisely, you put it much better than I did.

    "It was not considered immoral to own slaves in America at such and such a date" might be even better!
  5. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    09 Jun '08 07:30
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    We must keep in mind that a moral statement [b]must include the condition that no other circumstance have a moral bearing on the matter.[/b]
    Could you explain what you mean by this statement? I'm having trouble understanding this section of your post.
  6. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    09 Jun '08 08:23
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Could you explain what you mean by this statement? I'm having trouble understanding this section of your post.
    If I say "It is wrong to rape a child." Most people will agree that it is universally wrong. However there are always circumstances that affect the overall moral balance of a situation. For example, is it wrong to rape a child if someone holds a gun to your head and threatens to kill you if you don't? What if a million people will die if you don't?

    Such situations must exist. There are situations where the possible alternatives have moral statements against all of them, and then the least 'morally wrong' path becomes 'morally correct'.

    So the only way a moral statement can really be meaningful is if it has an implied "all other circumstances being equal" clause attached to it.
    Also, when judging an individual option 'morally correct due to circumstances' one must not ignore the circumstances and judge the action itself morally correct. For example, child rape may be morally correct when not doing so would cause some terrible calamity - but to then judge that child rape is morally correct without the circumstances would be wrong.

    To give a more plausible example:
    If I was to live in a society where slavery is common place and slaves are treated badly, it might me morally correct for me to own some slaves simply to spare them bad treatment at the hands of others. But that in no way should be interpreted as a case of slavery being morally correct - nor does is make the moral about slavery a relative one.
  7. Joined
    04 Feb '05
    Moves
    29132
    09 Jun '08 08:42
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    If I say "It is wrong to rape a child." Most people will agree that it is universally wrong. However there are always circumstances that affect the overall moral balance of a situation. For example, is it wrong to rape a child if someone holds a gun to your head and threatens to kill you if you don't? What if a million people will die if you don't?

    Suc ...[text shortened]... ery being morally correct - nor does is make the moral about slavery a relative one.
    in the distant past, stone-age people killed each other for a leg of meat. then they thought it be wrong to kill a member of ones tribe so they decided to kill only other tribes for food(inventing war in the process)
    if you are now hungry, and you kill a human being for food, it is wrong. it is however right to kill a cow and hamburgerize it. maybe in the future it will be wrong to kill animals for meat and we will all be vegetarians. or maybe in the even more distant future it will be wrong to kill plants as well and we will only be eating fruits and vitamins.


    my opinion is that an "absolute moral" cannot possibly be absolute if at one time every one is breaking it. morals are made by a society to protect itself(ie what defines it) and its members.
  8. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    09 Jun '08 08:522 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    If I say "It is wrong to rape a child." Most people will agree that it is universally wrong. However there are always circumstances that affect the overall moral balance of a situation. For example, is it wrong to rape a child if someone holds a gun to your head and threatens to kill you if you don't? What if a million people will die if you don't?

    Suc ery being morally correct - nor does is make the moral about slavery a relative one.
    Well I tend to agree completely with you just in the sense that ethics simply cannot be reasonably contained within some set of rules or maxims. This is one reason why I find strict command- or rule-based moralities to be so naive. This is also one reason why I am drawn to a more virtue ethics approach where our moral deliberations should proceed from virtuous aspects of character -- rather than some morality of constraint where we get habitualized into blindly following heteronomous rules (even if these rules are good ones, we lose touch with the justification behind the rules, which leads to childish deliberation along with, perhaps, misapplication of the rules).

    So the only way a moral statement can really be meaningful is if it has an implied "all other circumstances being equal" clause attached to it.

    I'm still having a little trouble understanding your claim, but I think it consists of denying those deontological positions that hold that we have moral duties and obligations independent of any considerations of consequences. In that regard, I would say you are a consequentialist.
  9. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    09 Jun '08 09:02
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    in the distant past, stone-age people killed each other for a leg of meat. then they thought it be wrong to kill a member of ones tribe so they decided to kill only other tribes for food(inventing war in the process)
    if you are now hungry, and you kill a human being for food, it is wrong. it is however right to kill a cow and hamburgerize it. maybe in the ...[text shortened]... future it will be wrong to kill plants as well and we will only be eating fruits and vitamins.
    Why do people so often assume that the world is one and that everyone in the world is part of one global culture? And why tie cultures etc to time anyway?
    If there is a tribe in the amazon that has the moral code that you describe then are their actions moral? What if you go and join their tribe, do their actions become less moral because you do not agree with them?

    my opinion is that an "absolute moral" cannot possibly be absolute if at one time every one is breaking it. morals are made by a society to protect itself(ie what defines it) and its members.
    If everyone but you thought that child rape was morally correct would you then believe it too? If Hitler had a little more support would his actions be morally acceptable?
    I don't buy the claim that morals can be put to the vote.

    I also don't buy the implication in your post that you believe that the actions of the stone age people were morally acceptable to you.
  10. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    09 Jun '08 09:11
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    I'm still having a little trouble understanding your claim, but I think it consists of denying those deontological positions that hold that we have moral duties and obligations independent of any considerations of consequences. In that regard, I would say you are a consequentialist.
    You have clearly studied the concepts far more than I have. I started the thread because I found the arguments being presented in the other thread to be rather shallow and misleading and thought it would be interesting to explore it further - and you have definitely given me food for thought, and I would welcome more.

    It also reminds me of the popular justification for the morals of the OT as being acceptable at that time. I think that it is a mistake to confuse:
    1. It was considered morally acceptable to some people at that time.
    and
    2. We can now judge that it was morally acceptable at that time but is not morally acceptable to act that way today.
    If it is the circumstances that have changed and not the date, then tying it to the date is also wrong. People who say 'slavery was morally acceptable in Biblical times due to circumstances' should also accept that it might be morally acceptable today if the circumstances are right - yet they would almost certainly condemn anyone instituting slavery regardless of the circumstances.
  11. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    09 Jun '08 09:464 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    You have clearly studied the concepts far more than I have. I started the thread because I found the arguments being presented in the other thread to be rather shallow and misleading and thought it would be interesting to explore it further - and you have definitely given me food for thought, and I would welcome more.

    It also reminds me of the popular hey would almost certainly condemn anyone instituting slavery regardless of the circumstances.
    1. It was considered morally acceptable to some people at that time.
    2. We can now judge that it was morally acceptable at that time but is not morally acceptable to act that way today.


    You're right that it would be a mistake to conflate these two. Suppose there was some time when people broadly accepted the practice of slavery (or what-have-you). That this group of people widely accepted the practice of slavery is simply a descriptive fact that tells us something about the anthropologic climate of those times. It has absolutely no implications regarding whether slavery was/is actually morally correct.

    People who say 'slavery was morally acceptable in Biblical times due to circumstances' should also accept that it might be morally acceptable today if the circumstances are right - yet they would almost certainly condemn anyone instituting slavery regardless of the circumstances.

    I think most cultural relativists would say, roughly, that the moral acceptability of such practices depends on social approval. In practice, this would probably mean that moral acceptability depends on what the majority and/or the most powerful faction(s) within the society thinks about it (after all, somehow I doubt slaves broadly approved of slavery -- so who was actually rendering the approval). But my point is that for circumstances to be "right" for the cultural relativist, it would mean that there exists broad approval for the practice -- in which case, it's probably more likely than not that a given person wouldn't condemn the institution (because that is the nature of those circumstances). But otherwise, I think your point is well-taken. I think moral relativism is totally ridiculous, and I have never seen any good argument for it. People are often simply mistaken in their judgments, and this can occur on widespread scale. Any group of people who broadly approve of slavery as an acceptable practice are just broadly mistaken in that judgment.
  12. Joined
    04 Feb '05
    Moves
    29132
    09 Jun '08 09:56
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Why do people so often assume that the world is one and that everyone in the world is part of one global culture? And why tie cultures etc to time anyway?
    If there is a tribe in the amazon that has the moral code that you describe then are their actions moral? What if you go and join their tribe, do their actions become less moral because you do not agre ...[text shortened]... st that you believe that the actions of the stone age people were morally acceptable to you.
    not to me, but to them. if you would tell the medieval people that pigs should be first put to sleep and the killed they would laugh in your face.

    there is no absolute right or wrong because there is this first time someone said "raping children is wrong"(raping anyone is wrong for that matter). only after it became wrong before it wasn't anything.

    viewing morals from your point of view won't get you anywhere because you already have made up your mind. try and think what would happen if you grew up in a society of canibals with no outside influence. try to think if you would question the morality of human snack.


    Why do people so often assume that the world is one and that everyone in the world is part of one global culture? And why tie cultures etc to time anyway?
    because you cannot apply your morals to other times. like i said, in the stone age it would have been morally right to kill someone for food. now it is not. if a nuclear holocaust would happen and food was scarce, would you starve to death instead of smacking a stranger over the head for food?
  13. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    09 Jun '08 10:04
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    and you have definitely given me food for thought, and I would welcome more.
    If we can get bbarr to join in the discussion, I am sure he will give you lots of food for thought.
  14. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    09 Jun '08 10:10
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    not to me, but to them. if you would tell the medieval people that pigs should be first put to sleep and the killed they would laugh in your face.
    You seem to have a terribly low opinion of medieval people.

    I think your attempts to tie morals to a timeline is too simplistic. People in every society have a wide variety of opinions on morals and I suspect that there have always been people who felt sympathetic towards animals. If anything, I would say that people who actually get close to animals are generally more sympathetic - regardless of cultural norms or the date.
  15. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    09 Jun '08 10:13
    Originally posted by Zahlanzi
    there is no absolute right or wrong because there is this first time someone said "raping children is wrong"(raping anyone is wrong for that matter). only after it became wrong before it wasn't anything.
    Of course that statement makes your whole religion a bit of a sham. Your God must be morally neutral as all morals are created by man.

    Food for thought: can morals be reversed or are they set for all time. If someone decides that raping children is OK, and everyone else agrees, will it be OK? What will Gods opinion be if he gets out voted on the matter?
Back to Top