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The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

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The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism
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Blog of ReasonHelperUser avatarPosts: 240Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:28 pmLocation: League of Reason

Post The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:07 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

I wouldn't equate moral absolutism with moral objectivity but I enjoyed the rest of the blog post.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:56 pm
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ImprobableJoeUser avatarPosts: 6195Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:24 pm

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

How do we know? How do we know ANYTHING? We make a subjective judgment call based on the best evidence we have, the same way we make any other decision.

WLC needs to be smacked across the face with a shit-dipped sea bass. Considering that he's a huge fan of quote mining and other dishonest tactics, maybe he should bite down on a slice of STFU pie when it comes to morality.

I think that the "fail" of religious-based Moral Absolutism is that there's no consistent way to determine which religion provides the required moral absolutes. There's more, of course... more of that fractal wrongness, wrong at every level and from every angle.
Come visit my blog! There will be punch and pie!
Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:10 pm
e2iPiUser avatarPosts: 648Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:40 amLocation: Deltax Deltap>~h/(4 pi) Gender: Cake

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

ImprobableJoe wrote:I think that the "fail" of religious-based Moral Absolutism is that there's no consistent way to determine which religion provides the required moral absolutes

Quite unfortunately, the most common answer to this question is "mine."

-1
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
-George Bernard Shaw
Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:37 am
MercUser avatarPosts: 43Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:59 amLocation: USA

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Very well put. I saw the video from Neph that was referred to in this post and the only thing that really got me about it was that God was the only thing stopping us from raping babies/eating babies. Because apparently without God human beings have no moral compass of any kind and are prone to ignore their natural instincts to protect the young in order to propagate the species and instead eat them, thereby causing a slow extinction.

One thing I think that a lot of people don't realize was that in ancient Rome, a culture the west idolizes to a certain degree, infanticide was extremely prevalent and accepted. Babies that were dubbed "weak" by any stretch - anything from the appearance of mental retardation to the general overall appearance of 'weakness', whatever this in an infant - were either thrown off a cliff or left outside somewhere to die of exposure. The word "girl" could be swapped out for "weak" and the same thing happened. Ancient Romans actually thought it was CRUEL and INHUMANE to let such children live. Looking through their moral and cultural lenses our modern practices ("our" being an overarching umbrella of western first world countries) of keeping all infants regardless of strength, abilities, or gender, would be considered horrific. I'm not saying what they did in ancient Rome was right (quite the contrary) but those were the moral beliefs of those people. Moral absolutionism is so subjective it's insane.
Cry "science" and let loose the army of reason!
Thu Jul 02, 2009 5:10 pm
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

So your problem with moral absolutism is that it's too subjective?
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:19 pm
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e2iPiUser avatarPosts: 648Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:40 amLocation: Deltax Deltap>~h/(4 pi) Gender: Cake

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Aught3 wrote:So your problem with moral absolutism is that it's too subjective?

Absolutely. Morality is nothing more than a collection of societal norms and those norms vary greatly across geographically disperse groups. An even greater variation becomes evident when we allow for temporal variation. Things which we find repugnant today, slavery, infanticide, racism, wholesale slaughter, rape, etc, were all gleefully practiced by those who followed this "absolute" moral code. Many times AT THE DIRECTION of their god who is supposedly the author of said "absolute" morality.

</rant>
-1
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
-George Bernard Shaw
Sat Jul 04, 2009 1:19 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

But you're quite happy to apply today's societal norms back over time and geography to label these acts as repugnant and denounce their particular morality? Either the standards we have today don't apply back in time - in which case you can't denounce their particular brand of morality. Or, from an objective standpoint, you can say their morality was incorrect and today (while it might not be perfect) we have a better standard of morality.

(Btw, why are you using quote marks around absolute - the code in the bible is actually an example of absolute morality isn't it?)
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Jul 04, 2009 1:51 am
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e2iPiUser avatarPosts: 648Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:40 amLocation: Deltax Deltap>~h/(4 pi) Gender: Cake

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Aught3 wrote:But you're quite happy to apply today's societal norms back over time and geography to label these acts as repugnant and denounce their particular morality? Either the standards we have today don't apply back in time - in which case you can't denounce their particular brand of morality. Or, from an objective standpoint, you can say their morality was incorrect and today (while it might not be perfect) we have a better standard of morality.

Absolutely not. If you read my post again, you'll see that I stated:
e2iPi wrote:Things which we find repugnant today

without making any type of denouncement. What I am saying is that from a subjective standpoint, we have a much more enlightened moral code today. We also exist within a completely different set of circumstances than bronze age nomads. I have no doubt that future generations looking back on our time will find much of our morality repugnant.

Aught3 wrote:(Btw, why are you using quote marks around absolute - the code in the bible is actually an example of absolute morality isn't it?)

Sure, as long as absolute morality is also highly mutable and depends entirely upon the whim of a divine being.

-1
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
-George Bernard Shaw
Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:01 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

I read it but I obviously didn't get it. What is 'a highly mutable moral absolute' this is a contradiction in terms.

Ok let me try and figure out your point. Take a moral absolute from the bible 'thou shalt not kill' from the context of the rest of the bible we know that this is best interpreted as 'thou shalt not murder'. So as a moral absolute this rule means it is morally wrong to murder another person any time, any place for any reason. So back to my original question - how is this rule too subjective? I mean even if we take the original example Merc raised 'it is immoral to let any weak child live' as a moral absolute how is it subjective? Whether you think it is actually right or wrong is subjective but the rule itself is supposed to give you the actual moral answer. I don't agree that it does and Triumph went through some of the problems with it (i.e., context). But in what way is moral absolutism subjective?

(Oh yeah - I don't actually believe a divine being exists so I don't think morality is/was its whim)
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:26 am
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OzymandyusUser avatarPosts: 986Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

I think he was saying that the God of the bible clearly violates the laws he sets, destroying any real possibility of absolute morality. Thou shalt not murder, but then why does he order someone else to murder their son? Why does he kill everyone in the world except Noah's family, killing thousands and thousands of sinless children? Why does he murder every firstborn son in egypt to punish the pharoah?

What is set out as moral law is repeatedly broken and excused in the bible, and there is no real indication of absolute throughout most of it.
And in an instant all progress towards the sublime, the great and enduring in man fell away and became a monkey's trick.
Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:54 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

But that makes it a problem with moral subjectivity rather than moral absolutes doesn't it? That the morality of a situation can change dependent on a whim is the very (unkind) definition of moral subjectivity. It's hardly an indictment on moral absolutes to say that they are not actually moral absolutes and the problem is they're too subjective.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:04 am
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OzymandyusUser avatarPosts: 986Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Aught3 wrote:But that makes it a problem with moral subjectivity rather than moral absolutes doesn't it? That the morality of a situation can change dependent on a whim is the very (unkind) definition of moral subjectivity. It's hardly an indictment on moral absolutes to say that they are not actually moral absolutes and the problem is they're too subjective.

What he is saying is that every moral absolute that anyone has ever established has been from within a particular subjective reference frame. Therefore, that 'absolute' that they create is subjective because it is completely biased by their own experience - 'Thou shalt not lie' or 'thou shalt not murder' could be an absolutely valid moral guide that always leads to good within a certain culture, but it does not necessarily apply to ALL cultures. For example: It would work fine within a small group of hunter-gatherers, but if they were interacting with another hostile culture, lying or murder may be necessary for the greater good.

It's not that the morality of the situation is changing, its the morality of the ACTION that is changing because of the different situation. And thus a moral absolute is too subjective, because it only is looking at a limited number of situations in which that action would be moral and ignoring the more objective picture of other situations where it would NOT be the best action.
And in an instant all progress towards the sublime, the great and enduring in man fell away and became a monkey's trick.
Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:08 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Well yeah that's the problem with moral absolutes they don't take the context of the situation into account - I don't have a problem with that part.

I don't see why the viewpoint of the author matters though - 'the absolute they create is subjective' - you don't mean the answer (moral/not-moral) do you? You mean the absolute itself isn't based on anything objective? Or at least not completely objective - so this means you can't trust any moral absolute you come across because the rule is based on subjective ideas or norms?

Apologies I'm trying to work this out at the same time :)
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:20 am
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e2iPiUser avatarPosts: 648Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:40 amLocation: Deltax Deltap>~h/(4 pi) Gender: Cake

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Aught3 wrote:so this means you can't trust any moral absolute you come across because the rule is based on subjective ideas or norms?

Absolutely :lol:
This is the essence of my point.

-1
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
-George Bernard Shaw
Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:43 pm
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Ugh that's so convoluted - but I think I get it :)
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:00 pm
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HerodotusUser avatarPosts: 2Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:16 pmLocation: WI USA

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

As a pail over weight atheist, I was wondering if I earned a place of special ridicule?

I have to admit that I am struggling to find a definable source of moral constants that does not degenerate to moral relativism. I have live comfortable with the vague view that compassion and reason are enough to define a set of ethics, but now feel pressed for greater clarity. This clarity certainly does not come from any ancient holy books. They only offer a promise of it that requires irrational thinking to make work. I want something sound to work with, and confess I have yet to find it.
Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:29 pm
e2iPiUser avatarPosts: 648Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:40 amLocation: Deltax Deltap>~h/(4 pi) Gender: Cake

Post Re: The Failbox Of Moral Absolutism

Herodotus wrote:As a pail over weight atheist, I was wondering if I earned a place of special ridicule?

I have to admit that I am struggling to find a definable source of moral constants that does not degenerate to moral relativism. I have live comfortable with the vague view that compassion and reason are enough to define a set of ethics, but now feel pressed for greater clarity. This clarity certainly does not come from any ancient holy books. They only offer a promise of it that requires irrational thinking to make work. I want something sound to work with, and confess I have yet to find it.


Ridicule? Not at all. Using logic and reason to find answers should never be ridiculed. The problem with searching for absolute morals, in my opinion, is there are always exceptions depending on how you look at the question. For example, it is easy to say stealing is always wrong and you would quite probably get a large amount of support for that statement. Now consider a man who steals food from a wealthy family to feed his starving children. Was he wrong for stealing? Certainty not from his perspective. He may even consider the wealthy man to be immoral for not freely sharing his excess food.

I realize this is a simplistic example, but it does serve illustrate my point. Any system of absolute morality will have exceptions, thereby making it a system of relative morality. Probably the best system of morality is derived from the golden rule, treat everyone as you would want to be treated if you were in the same situation. But even with that, it is possible to think of morally ambiguous situations.

Good luck on your quest, and if you find it, let the rest of us know. :)

i^2
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
-George Bernard Shaw
Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:27 pm
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