Advice on ethics
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11-04-2015, 12:22 PM
Advice on ethics
Do you think some cultures are morally superior to others? I've been arguing with someone about FGM in some middle east/asian/african cultures being morally disgusting.

I made an argument a while ago too that 2000 years ago child brides were not immoral because cultures were dependent on breeding as early as possible (disease, infant mortality, population problems etc). We don't do it anymore and recognise it as immoral, though some cultures still do it. Does this mean we are more morally advanced than them? (my argument would be not if it was necessary for their survival)

Also, in theory if we left 4 separately cultural peoples on 4 islands to live for a thousand years, would there be a correlation in morals for all 4 cultures? Of course one culture may suffer from a famine that another may not, external factors are what influences the relativist nature of morals, but would there be an eventual end game in which the ethics of each island would be to head towards?

Do you think if somebody had put forward the ideas of free speech and liberal, free values, 3500 years ago, we would still be living in such a society today? Or do you think we would have consciously adapted over and over to something else? I'm sort of confused as to whether morals are relativist or absolute. I think my opinion is that there is an innate sense of morality that we mould as a culture or society in order to thrive. Therefore, it is a nonsense to have an opinion on the culture of somebody else.

In conclusion, I'm just fricking rambling. I don't even know if I'm making sense it's just a stream of consciousness lol.

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
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11-04-2015, 01:00 PM
RE: Advice on ethics
Studies have shown that people across different cultures and religions largely share a basic ethical and moral sense.
Also, some version of the Golden Rule is ubiquitous in human societies.

Given that, physically harming others would in general be considered immoral by the vast majority of people,
and harming the defenseless particularly egregious.

FGM falls into the particularly egregious bucket. Drinking Beverage

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11-04-2015, 01:33 PM
RE: Advice on ethics
(11-04-2015 01:00 PM)Chas Wrote:  Studies have shown that people across different cultures and religions largely share a basic ethical and moral sense.
Also, some version of the Golden Rule is ubiquitous in human societies.

Given that, physically harming others would in general be considered immoral by the vast majority of people,
and harming the defenseless particularly egregious.

FGM falls into the particularly egregious bucket. Drinking Beverage

Ah I spoke to someone a while ago who mentioned that.. he cited an author who I've forgotten and he refers to this as a kind of clay... each culture moulds the base clay into their own shape according to multiple factors.

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
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20-04-2015, 10:29 AM
RE: Advice on ethics
(11-04-2015 12:22 PM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  Do you think some cultures are morally superior to others? I've been arguing with someone about FGM in some middle east/asian/african cultures being morally disgusting.

I would say yes, but on the other hand I think there isn't universal morality. So I could say that culture x is better than y but it will be only my - and people who share the same values - opinion. What we see as barbaric others may see as necessary. Then again Sam Harris I believe wrote something about objective measuring of cultural superiority - ammount of suffering and happiness its values cause. If we go that way then I supose we could say that some culture is better.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

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20-04-2015, 11:19 AM
RE: Advice on ethics
(11-04-2015 12:22 PM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  Do you think some cultures are morally superior to others?
...
Does this mean we are more morally advanced than them?
...

Morally advanced? No.

This implies a predetermined direction / end goal. Morality is evolving. If environmental conditions were different, morality would come in a different form. Or to be tautological... if things were different then things would be different.

But more civilised? Yes.

Civilisation is essentially the ongoing endeavour to master our environment... in other words to fight the forces of evolution... moving away from a dog-eat-dog world to a culture of protecting the weak etc. etc.

Survival pressure is the spanner in the works for civilisation whether that comes from famine, war or a particularly virulent strain of religious infection.

(11-04-2015 12:22 PM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  ...
I'm sort of confused as to whether morals are relativist or absolute.
...

I look at it this way...

Absolutely good <-------------------------0-----------------------> Absolutely bad.

'Absolute' implies an end of a scale.

In between are degrees of goodness and badness ('more moral' and 'less moral')

As mentioned above, Sam Harris proposed (in The Moral Landscape) that 'well-being' is a worthy axiology / framework / metric to use to compare good and bad i.e. that some things are relatively (lower case 'r') gooder or badder than others.

On a nearby thread, someone else is proposing 'individual freedom' as the metric.

Relativism (upper case 'r') implies there are no absolutes that there will only ever be relativity.

I'm in the relativist camp with the proviso that the notion of humanity is all about this (potentially fruitless) search for these absolutes and the axiology upon which they are described.

Or something like that.

Smartass

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