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Is Morality Relative?
Posted: 11 November 2011 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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john76 - 11 November 2011 01:10 PM

Moral relativism is really very simple.  Basing morality on “values” is another way of saying moral claims are justified according to their context.  In the context of American society, what the terrorists did on 9’11 was evil and wrong.  But in the context of the fundamentalist Islam of the terrorists, the terrorist attack on the twin towers was moral and holy.  It’s not that one point of view is “correct” and the other is “incorrect,” they are just conflicting worldviews.  Recall these images as part of the response to 9’11:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vOJCQr1Now .  The truth of a moral claim is derived from its context.  The context is not absolute, and if you take away the context the “truth” of the moral claim is gone.  The “whole” (context) gives meaning to the part (makes the moral claim “true).  Nietzsche pointed this out with his argument about “slave morality” (eg., a slave has to be meek and has no money, so being meek is interpreted as being morally good - “the meek shall inherit the earth, Matthew 5:5” - and the quest for money and its accumulation is morally bad - “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven, Mark 10:25”)  Nietzsche’s point wasn’t that you had to accept his interpretation of history on this point, but rather that people determine what is moral and immoral relative to their point of view, which means their understanding of right and wrong depends on the context (i.e., depends on a person’s biases, prejudices, culture, evolutionary history, etc.).  In Philosophy this is known as “Relativism: morality and the hermeneutic circle.”  It is like interpreting a text.  In order to understand what a part of a story means, you have to consider it in relation to the entire story.  You can’t explain the “part” without the “whole.”  But this is what moral realism tries to do.  Moral realism doesn’t make sense because you can have two equally valid contradictory moral interpretations of the same event.  Take the example of rape.  We consider rape to be wrong under any circumstance.  But the ancient Greeks considered war rape of women “socially acceptable behaviour well within the rules of warfare”, and warriors considered the conquered women “legitimate booty, useful as wives, concubines, slave labour or battle-camp trophy”.

Morality always comes down to what you like, and what you don’t like, if enough powereful people feel the same about a particular value, then it becomes morality. That’s all there is to it.

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Posted: 28 March 2016 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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If we don’t take a “holier than thou judgmental attitude” but simply allow the phenomena of behavior to appear, it would seem that “Moral Relativism” is a useful descriptor for the foundation of ethics, because it best describes why things like (a) cultural-based cannibalism, and (b) The Romans feeding the Christians to the lions in the arena for the exciting sport of the crowd, and (c) child sacrifice, etc., could occur. From the point of view of our time and culture, these practices are “judged wrong.” But who are we to judge? From the point of view of the people who were committing these acts, they were acting in a perfectly socially acceptable manner. So they are “wrong” from our point of view, but not from theirs. Relativism.

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Posted: 28 March 2016 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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Who are we to judge?  We are the only ones who can judge, in the context of our times and our level of knowledge. If you prefer no judgment, then be prepared to be a meal for someone.

But I agree, if your point is that we are on shaky ground if we presume to judge a dead and gone people, in another time, who behaved in accordance with their own context and knowledge.

[ Edited: 28 March 2016 06:07 PM by TimB ]
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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 02 April 2016 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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Of course it is. Everything is relative.

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Supernatural religions and cults are still with us in the 21st century because our species is still very young: we are still very primitive

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Posted: 02 April 2016 09:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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AMH - 02 April 2016 10:33 AM

Of course it is. Everything is relative.

Not only that, we are related.

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Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

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Posted: 03 April 2016 04:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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Yes we are, and proud of it!!

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Supernatural religions and cults are still with us in the 21st century because our species is still very young: we are still very primitive

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Posted: 10 April 2016 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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Use semantics with both some truth and some lies and you will have an answer to that question. But is answering that question relative?  We all need to believe in something so while everyone is trying to figure the answer, I believe I will have another beer. Cheers.

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