1. Cape Town
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    11 Jun '14 19:28
    If I believe that my religion requires me to kill an innocent child, is my belief inherently invalid due to its apparent immorality? Are all those who hold such beliefs in some way less loony than those who hold religious beliefs that do not include the death of innocent children.
    If so, why?
  2. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
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    11 Jun '14 19:321 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    If I believe that my religion requires me to kill an innocent child, is my belief inherently invalid due to its apparent immorality? Are all those who hold such beliefs in some way less loony than those who hold religious beliefs that do not include the death of innocent children.
    If so, why?
    No, not inherently. There was another thread where we discussed a scenario in which people were hiding from killers and a baby was starting to cry and give them away. Would it be moral to kill the crying baby, if that was the only way of silencing it? I think one can make a case that it's morally sound to do so.
  3. Cape Town
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    11 Jun '14 19:51
    Originally posted by BigDoggProblem
    No, not inherently. There was another thread where we discussed a scenario in which people were hiding from killers and a baby was starting to cry and give them away. Would it be moral to kill the crying baby, if that was the only way of silencing it? I think one can make a case that it's morally sound to do so.
    Yes that was a good thread. However I am not asking whether such beliefs are moral. I am asking if they are less valid than other beliefs. Can someone who believes in guardian angels claim his belief system is more reasonable than someone who believes that he must kill an innocent child?
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    11 Jun '14 20:151 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Yes that was a good thread. However I am not asking whether such beliefs are moral. I am asking if they are less valid than other beliefs. Can someone who believes in guardian angels claim his belief system is more reasonable than someone who believes that he must kill an innocent child?
    That depends on what you mean by 'reasonable'. [and 'valid']

    If you are sticking with binaries then beliefs are either formed in a rationally valid way that
    can be supported with logic, reason, and evidence. Or they are not formed in a rationally
    valid way and are thus unreasonable.

    However, beliefs are almost never entirely irrational [just as they are seldom entirely rational]
    and thus I think you can have a scale of reasonableness.

    Also, beliefs can be more or less harmful to society, which is a major criteria for determining
    morality.
    The belief in guardian angels, while wrong and harmful, is decidedly less harmful than a belief
    system that allows killing innocent children.
    So society will typically be a lot more tolerant of beliefs in guardian angels and a lot less tolerant
    of people who believe that they can go around killing innocent children.


    To BDP's point... It's possible to find a set of circumstances to justify almost anything.
    However such situations are typically so rare [or practically impossible] that they can
    typically be ignored for the purposes of general discussions of morality and ethics.

    I usually like to reference Ian M. Banks 'Culture' novels at this point...
    His fictional utopian civilisation "The Culture" has a subgroup that represent the military
    [in times of war] called "Contact" which deal with the civilisations contact with other
    civilisations, as well as doing the space exploration and science [with overlapping 'civilian groups']
    for The Culture.
    There is a much smaller Sub-Group of Contact called 'SC' or Special Circumstances.
    They function as the spies and intelligence wing during wartime, and generally deal with the
    exceptions to the rules, the moral grey areas, the things on the edge.

    Because I don't think it's possible, or practically possible, to morally legislate every possibility...
    It makes more sense [to me] to come up with general moral rules and positions based on commonly
    encountered reasonable scenarios***. And then have an 'SC' caveat, that in the extremes, the rules might
    not apply, and that those cases need to be sorted out individually on their merits at the time.


    Given that caveat, I'm perfectly happy calling "killing an innocent child" morally wrong, because circumstances
    in reality in which it isn't morally wrong are so artificial or rare that you will almost certainly never encounter
    them.



    EDIT: as a clarification... *** Where I said "commonly encountered reasonable scenarios" I meant commonly
    encountered by society, not individuals in society. There are all kinds of scenarios which it's highly unlikely
    that you personally will encounter, but which occur often enough that society as a whole needs to have
    worked out the answer.
  5. Cape Town
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    11 Jun '14 21:10
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    That depends on what you mean by 'reasonable'. [and 'valid']

    If you are sticking with binaries then beliefs are either formed in a rationally valid way that
    can be supported with logic, reason, and evidence. Or they are not formed in a rationally
    valid way and are thus unreasonable.

    However, beliefs are almost never entirely irrational [just as they are seldom entirely rational]
    and thus I think you can have a scale of reasonableness.
    So if a belief is morally wrong, does it automatically get moved along the scale of reasonableness? eg is it less likely to have been formed by a rational process?

    I personally think that society should be based on secular morality and that a belief based morality has no place in a societies laws. However, as long as a belief does not violate secular morality, it should be permitted. So some beliefs I would judge to be impermissible, but that is not the same thing as saying they are irrational, or less rational than permissible beliefs.
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    11 Jun '14 21:43
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    So if a belief is morally wrong, does it automatically get moved along the scale of reasonableness? eg is it less likely to have been formed by a rational process?

    I personally think that society should be based on secular morality and that a belief based morality has no place in a societies laws. However, as long as a belief does not violate secular m ...[text shortened]... is not the same thing as saying they are irrational, or less rational than permissible beliefs.
    I'll think about it and get back to you [when I'm more awake].

    But I would tend to think that a beliefs moral value is semi independent of it's rationality.

    I don't think that a belief that is morally wrong can also be rational.
    But I don't think that being morally wrong makes it less rational, just less moral.
  7. Standard memberDeepThought
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    11 Jun '14 22:141 edit
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    That depends on what you mean by 'reasonable'. [and 'valid']

    If you are sticking with binaries then beliefs are either formed in a rationally valid way that
    can be supported with logic, reason, and evidence. Or they are not formed in a rationally
    valid way and are thus unreasonable.

    However, beliefs are almost never entirely irrational [just as ...[text shortened]... ter, but which occur often enough that society as a whole needs to have
    worked out the answer.
    I'm a fan of the Culture novels as well. I'd categorise Contact as more a sort of diplomatic service which looks for species to be diplomatic to. They had no particular monopoly on science. S.C. is, as you said, the dirty tricks department. As far as a military is concerned their entire society is passively militarised in the sense that each ship or orbital ring is totally tooled up. The most powerful weapon they seemed to have was grid fire which was created by a ships engines so every ship had it.
  8. Standard memberDeepThought
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    11 Jun '14 22:201 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Yes that was a good thread. However I am not asking whether such beliefs are moral. I am asking if they are less valid than other beliefs. Can someone who believes in guardian angels claim his belief system is more reasonable than someone who believes that he must kill an innocent child?
    In the modern world or the ancient world? Aztec priests used to search the city for newborn babies to sacrifice. Their reasoning was so strongly influenced by their religion that they wouldn't have been able to rationalise it the way I am about to, but the basic reason they did it was population control. It's difficult to regard them as unreasonable (brutal certainly, they sacrificed people by the thousand) as their alternative would have been overpopulation, disease, famine and social breakdown.

    In the modern era, since the enlightenment someone believing that could only be regarded as insane. So a person believing in Guardian Angels would be more reasonable.
  9. Territories Unknown
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    11 Jun '14 22:22
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    If I believe that my religion requires me to kill an innocent child, is my belief inherently invalid due to its apparent immorality? Are all those who hold such beliefs in some way less loony than those who hold religious beliefs that do not include the death of innocent children.
    If so, why?
    Loaded question, honestly.

    One, no one is innocent.
    Two, there isn't a religion out there which instructs folks to kill people on the basis of innocence.
    Three, if there were such a religion it would necessarily be a community belief, therefore societal in nature, and therefore (by default) moral.
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    11 Jun '14 22:29
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    I'm a fan of the Culture novels as well. I'd categorise Contact as more a sort of diplomatic service which looks for species to be diplomatic to. They had no particular monopoly on science. S.C. is, as you said, the dirty tricks department. As far as a military is concerned their entire society is passively militarised in the sense that each ship or ...[text shortened]... n they seemed to have was grid fire which was created by a ships engines so every ship had them.
    Contact and SC had tech not available to the general population, so I would
    assume that stemmed from science and technology programs not open to the
    general population...
    Also, I rather suspect that the average culture space liner would not be able to
    produce gridfire [also not sure it's the most powerful, although that's a very
    involved argument 😉 ] as it wouldn't meet the power requirements.

    However... As much fun as it is to discuss The Culture...

    I was giving a very basic and limited context for my analogy, that for most practical
    purposes you can discuss morality without having to deal with extreme hypotheticals
    by covering them under a catch-all [Special Circumstances] clause.
    A bit like the fact that there is a legal nicety that says that you can basically break
    any law IF following that law would cause more harm than breaking it.
    If you do break the law in such circumstances then you are likely to land up in court
    where the determination will be made as to whether in this particular instance and
    special set of circumstances it was justifiable to break the law.

    However the existence, or potential existence, of circumstances where breaking the rule/law
    is justified doesn't mean that the law itself is invalid.

    At the end of the trial the law isn't revoked, or modified, you are simply given a pass [assuming
    you win].

    So in the context of the OP, killing an innocent child is immoral [and illegal]. And while you can
    conceive of circumstances where the least bad [and thus morally best] course of action involves
    killing an innocent child, this doesn't invalidate the rule. The rule just has some very narrow and
    specific exceptions at particular times and places.
  11. Joined
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    11 Jun '14 22:34
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    Loaded question, honestly.

    One, no one is innocent.
    Two, there isn't a religion out there which instructs folks to kill people on the basis of innocence.
    Three, if there were such a religion it would necessarily be a community belief, therefore societal in nature, and therefore (by default) moral.
    One, no one is innocent.


    According to your religion maybe. In reality, lots of people are innocent.

    Two, there isn't a religion out there which instructs folks to kill people on the basis of innocence.


    I disagree, but not so I am about to get into a fight over it, it's not relevant to the overall discussion.

    Three, if there were such a religion it would necessarily be a community belief, therefore societal in nature, and therefore (by default) moral.


    Absolutely no. An action is not moral simply because the society it happens in condones it.
  12. Territories Unknown
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    11 Jun '14 22:441 edit
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    One, no one is innocent.


    According to your religion maybe. In reality, lots of people are innocent.

    Two, there isn't a religion out there which instructs folks to kill people on the basis of innocence.


    I disagree, but not so I am about to get into a fight over it, it's not relevant to the overall discussion.

    [quo ...[text shortened]... ]

    Absolutely no. An action is not moral simply because the society it happens in condones it.
    In reality, lots of people are innocent.
    According to your religion, maybe.
    Unfortunately, you haven't the first clue as to what reality actually is.

    I disagree, but not so I am about to get into a fight over it, it's not relevant to the overall discussion.
    Well, of course you disagree, little one!
    You always gauge your allegiance on the identity of the poster, so why should now be any different?
    Disagree all you want, but your only support will be... who the poster was.
    If you can find the religion which instructs its adherents to kill innocent children, you will have successfully refuted the statement.
    Until that time, all you have is another unwarranted and unsupported opinion.

    Furthermore, it is germane to the conversation, in that it is a requirement for analysis and comparison.

    An action is not moral simply because the society it happens in condones it.
    Again, your opinion is uninformed and ignorant.
    Morality is the body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, and--- as such--- is dependent upon the society in view.

    Anything else to add, now that your vote has been cast?
  13. Standard memberDeepThought
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    11 Jun '14 23:201 edit
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Contact and SC had tech not available to the general population, so I would
    assume that stemmed from science and technology programs not open to the
    general population...
    Also, I rather suspect that the average culture space liner would not be able to
    produce gridfire [also not sure it's the most powerful, although that's a very
    involved argumen ...[text shortened]... le. The rule just has some very narrow and
    specific exceptions at particular times and places.
    I can't think of a circumstance where it would be morally acceptable to kill a baby. I saw the scenario given, but shutting them up wouldn't actually require killing them. Besides, if it was as desperate as all that by the time they'd started crying it would be too late.

    Having said that I agree with your overall point at a moral level, but I don't think you are right about the law, at least as far as the U.K. is concerned. I don't think there is a necessity defence for theft in English law. Self-defence arguments rely on reasonable force. I think that in most cases where it is permissible to break the law it ceases to be the law, so it is simply not against the law to kill someone if they are trying to kill you and there is no other way of stopping them. Where there is justification of the kind you are talking about for breaking the law I think the theory is that either the prosecution would not happen (the CPS is not required to prosecute if it is not in the public interest to do so) or the judge would take it into account as mitigation. Juries aren't expected to make that judgement, they just decide whether the defendant did it or not, not whether they were justified. I think where such a defence is possible it's defined by a statute. Possibly a lawyer may like to comment if there's one around to comment?

    In the Culture Novels the energy grid that separated universes provided their society's source of energy and was what they generated grid fire from. So any hyperspace capable ship could do it provided their engines could take it - I think that that is the limitation. Most other civilizations only had warp drive or were incapable of interstellar travel. Come to think you are right about culture liners since one was captured by the Affront and should have been able to defend itself in this manner, on the other hand its Mind may not have been willing to risk the humans on board or itself in a scrap with an Affront ship. I think these things tend to be driven more by plot necessity than how consistent he wanted his technology to be. Most of their population were either on (well protected) orbitals or GSVs and the GSVs were all definitely capable of creating grid fire. That is is at least potentially the most powerful was demonstrated in Excession when the Excession created grid fire on a monumental scale in response to the Sleeper Service charging towards it at 254,000 times the speed of light.
  14. Cape Town
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    12 Jun '14 06:031 edit
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    Loaded question, honestly.
    Loaded in what direction?

    One, no one is innocent.
    Not relevant. What is important in the question is that the action be considered morally wrong by most observers.

    Two, there isn't a religion out there which instructs folks to kill people on the basis of innocence.
    Again, not relevant. I said nothing about 'on the basis of innocence', and nothing about a religion being out there that held my belief.

    Three, if there were such a religion it would necessarily be a community belief, therefore societal in nature, and therefore (by default) moral.
    You clearly don't know what I mean by 'moral' so I suggest you stay out of the thread as you will only get confused. And in addition, I said nothing about the whole society sharing my belief.
  15. Standard memberCalJust
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    12 Jun '14 06:49
    Originally posted by twhitehead

    What is important in the question is that the action be considered morally wrong by most observers.

    You clearly don't know what I mean by 'moral' so I suggest you stay out of the thread as you will only get confused. And in addition, I said nothing about the whole society sharing my belief.[/b]
    Maybe it would help if you clarified exactly what YOU mean by "moral".

    Do you believe in an Objective Morality that is outside of the commonly held perspective of most members of a community?

    For example, in the matter of the Aztecs mentioned earlier, there must have been a generally accepted view that this behaviour (or even law, if you will) was good and necessary. Yet there will most probably also have been people (probably in the minority) who would have rebelled against it and considered it "morally wrong".

    How do you define morality, and who determines it?
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