Ethics-Moral Relativism
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05-03-2011, 11:13 PM
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
(05-03-2011 07:10 PM)No J. Wrote:  
(05-03-2011 04:19 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  This theory states that the government doesn't give us our rights, we give some of them up to the government for protection, aid, etc.
Try living without some sort of system for rules, regulations and protection (aka. a government) and see how long it is before some group assumes or takes control and issues you no rights at all.
That's exactly why when it comes to rights
(05-03-2011 04:19 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  we give some of them up to the government for PROTECTION, aid, etc.
As for
Quote:We don't have a rational nature. All rationality is a learned thing. Kids can do some extremely dangerous or cruel things without having a clue as to the consequences. If we had a rational nature we would not need to teach them not to do those things, they would figure it out, themselves.
Children learn to use their rational nature, and yes, we do have to guide them. Most creatures guide their offspring.
We didn't evolve in 2 years. Nations don't get formed overnight. Toddlers don't learn to walk 2 weeks after birth. What makes you say we have to be born with full use of rational skill?

And as I was thinking about the whole "rights given by nations" idea, and your guys seemingly full subscription to it, the anarchy thread suddenly seemed so much enticing...

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06-03-2011, 04:55 PM
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
(05-03-2011 04:19 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  
(04-03-2011 10:59 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  "Right"? Who said anything about "right"? Aside from rights given to us by our societies (and even those might not count, as they are not objective either), there are no rights. We just can. Nothing says that it's right to do so. Or wrong.
Do you consider rights and freedom to be the same or different?

Different. I mean, even people who believe in "real" rights think they're different things. "Rights" are things that you... well, have a right to. Freedom is just having the ability to do something.

Quote:I can see them as at least related, if not the same, given a qualifier or two. Because I believe it was Locke's theory of government that stated that when we form a government we give up some of our rights/freedoms for particular benefits. This theory states that the government doesn't give us our rights, we give some of them up to the government for protection, aid, etc.

Well, that assumes that we have rights to give up. We certainly do give up some of our freedoms when we form a government, but we don't give up any rights, because we don't have the right to anything.

Quote:I understand your thought that convention causes moral code. But why do you say it doesn't stem from logic or reason? It can, and for many, it has.

Such as who?

Quote:What I have read on ethics and morality has been put together very well with very rational arguments. Aristotle used a telelogical argument. I'm reading Kant, and he has a deontological, or duty-based rational. He does assume certain premises, true, but he comes up with a very well thought out moral code.

That's as may be, but it doesn't change what I said.

Kant's moral code is very well thought-out if you accept his premises. And ultimately, you have no reason to accept his premises unless you empathize with him.

Someone else already said it: morality stems from empathy, not rationality. Kant is just putting together a framework which is based on his personal empathic code. It's entirely rational if you accept his basis, but there is no logical reason to do so. Just an empathic one.

Quote:I do want to make sure I clarify, I'm not arguing there is a moral code everyone agrees on that makes it universal. I'm just arguing that certain things (ex: an unprovoked, unjustified murder) are universally immoral.

Your two sentences contradict one another.

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06-03-2011, 11:06 PM (This post was last modified: 06-03-2011 11:19 PM by cfhmagnet.)
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
I bow out of the freedom/rights argument, after a little research I find my position flawed.
(06-03-2011 04:55 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
Quote:I understand your thought that convention causes moral code. But why do you say it doesn't stem from logic or reason? It can, and for many, it has.

Such as who?
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, G.W.F. Hegel, Soren Kierkegaard to an extent (he said if we choose to do so; a relativistic bent; we may derive ethical principles rationally). Admittedly old dead guys, but they made their marks in philosophy and still have those who study or follow them.

Then there is me. My fiancee. Most of the people I meet who don't believe in a god or gods. Possibly many of the people I meet who do believe in god(s). Most likely the people who invented several if not all moral theories in religion. Let this definition of reason that came up in an online search help:
"Reason is the ability of the human mind to form and operate on concepts in abstraction, in an ordered and usually a goal-oriented manner."
Even a relativist would form a moral theory REASONABLY, whether they had Kantian premises in mind or their own. Reason employs weighing out options. As in, why act this way? Why act that way? What are the consequences? Consequentialism is a moral theory opposed to Kant that still operates on reason. You take your own premises, take into account your goals, scenarios you come up with, etc, apply reason, and BAM! Anybody, even the staunchest relativist comes up with a reason-based system of morality.

Quote:What I have read on ethics and morality has been put together very well with very rational arguments. Aristotle used a telelogical argument. I'm reading Kant, and he has a deontological, or duty-based rational. He does assume certain premises, true, but he comes up with a very well thought out moral code.

Quote:That's as may be, but it doesn't change what I said.

Kant's moral code is very well thought-out if you accept his premises. And ultimately, you have no reason to accept his premises unless you empathize with him.

Someone else already said it: morality stems from empathy, not rationality. Kant is just putting together a framework which is based on his personal empathic code. It's entirely rational if you accept his basis, but there is no logical reason to do so. Just an empathic one.

I can see the empathic idea, but his basis was two part, and I see most every human being I meet accepting the first one, if not the latter.
1. "Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."- This is empathic AND rationality based. Empathic due to it basically being another way to state the golden rule that so many tend to agree with, and rational because it improves on that golden rule.
2. "Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only"- This is the other premise he has that many disagree with...but I find that the majority of those who disagree with it are users.
Quote:I do want to make sure I clarify, I'm not arguing there is a moral code everyone agrees on that makes it universal. I'm just arguing that certain things (ex: an unprovoked, unjustified murder) are universally immoral.

Quote:Your two sentences contradict one another.
They actually do not sir. My argument is that certain acts, like those posited as an example, are universally immoral. Some people disagree with this, but some people also disagree that the earth isn't flat.

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07-03-2011, 07:37 AM
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
(06-03-2011 11:06 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  
Quote:Such as who?
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, G.W.F. Hegel, Soren Kierkegaard to an extent (he said if we choose to do so; a relativistic bent; we may derive ethical principles rationally). Admittedly old dead guys, but they made their marks in philosophy and still have those who study or follow them.

Undoubtedly. But their moral codes didn't stem from reason. They employed it, but ultimately there is no rational basis to them.

Quote:Even a relativist would form a moral theory REASONABLY, whether they had Kantian premises in mind or their own.

Undoubtedly. But I am not speaking of reasonably. I am talking about logically. There is a fine line between the two.

Quote:You take your own premises, take into account your goals, scenarios you come up with, etc, apply reason, and BAM! Anybody, even the staunchest relativist comes up with a reason-based system of morality.

And I never said otherwise. But this is the critical part:

Quote:You take your own premises

This is what I'm talking about. I'm not arguing - and never have argued - that it is impossible to create a rational system of morality once you have a basis. What I am saying is that no basis is logically mandated.

Take Kant, for example. His "golden rule" code is based on the idea that... well, that the golden rule is a good idea. Why is it a good idea?

Whether your system of morality is reasonable or not, the problem remains. There is still no logical reason to say "X is good, Y is bad", because there is no universal standard for "good" or "bad". Kant's moral code is all well and good if you accept the golden rule as a good thing (and most humans do), but there is no purely logical argument which establishes it as objectively good. He simply says it is, and works from there.

Quote:I can see the empathic idea, but his basis was two part, and I see most every human being I meet accepting the first one, if not the latter.

Which is fine, but ultimately irrelevant. Whether or not people accept it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not it is logically mandated.

Quote:They actually do not sir. My argument is that certain acts, like those posited as an example, are universally immoral. Some people disagree with this, but some people also disagree that the earth isn't flat.

Excuse me, they do:

Quote:I do want to make sure I clarify, I'm not arguing there is a moral code everyone agrees on that makes it universal.

SUMMARY: There is no universal moral standard.

Quote:I'm just arguing that certain things (ex: an unprovoked, unjustified murder) are universally immoral.

SUMMARY: There is a universal moral standard, and it includes the rule that X is bad.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
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07-03-2011, 04:40 PM
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
(07-03-2011 07:37 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(06-03-2011 11:06 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  
Quote:Such as who?
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, G.W.F. Hegel, Soren Kierkegaard to an extent (he said if we choose to do so; a relativistic bent; we may derive ethical principles rationally). Admittedly old dead guys, but they made their marks in philosophy and still have those who study or follow them.

Undoubtedly. But their moral codes didn't stem from reason. They employed it, but ultimately there is no rational basis to them.

Quote:Even a relativist would form a moral theory REASONABLY, whether they had Kantian premises in mind or their own.

Undoubtedly. But I am not speaking of reasonably. I am talking about logically. There is a fine line between the two.
I am quite aware of the difference between reason and logic or reasonably and logically, thank you. However, to get a clearer statement out of me you may want to ask clearer questions.

While I am not familiar enough with the ethical works of the above noted men, it must be said that Kant's code did indeed stem from reason. His work is quite an interesting edifice that crosses over itself, with much of it relying on his Critique of Pure Reason. It only takes a read to see that whether you agree with his ideas or not, his arguments are based in reason and he comes by his conclusions through reason. I provided a link for an internet copy if you are so inclined to read it.
Kant's Foundation of the Metaphysics of Morals


(07-03-2011 07:37 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(06-03-2011 11:06 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  
Quote:They actually do not sir. My argument is that certain acts, like those posited as an example, are universally immoral. Some people disagree with this, but some people also disagree that the earth isn't flat.

Excuse me, they do:

[quote]I do want to make sure I clarify, I'm not arguing there is a moral code everyone agrees on that makes it universal.

SUMMARY: There is no universal moral standard.

Quote:I'm just arguing that certain things (ex: an unprovoked, unjustified murder) are universally immoral.

SUMMARY: There is a universal moral standard, and it includes the rule that X is bad.
I don't think you are understanding what I am saying here. And I don't think that I can articulate it well enough to help.

But I want to stop this back and forth and dig more into the idea of moral relativism itself. So moral relativism it is. One's personal moral code is relative to their society, upbringing, religion or lack thereof. Possibly also one's mental inclinations (I do think that the unexamined life isn't worth living, and therefore think that reason is important when coming up with a personal code. Seems like a more enlightened/less dogmatic way to do it).

As far as societal morality goes, it's convention. Now when you say convention, is that majority rules? Or (per conflict theory) those in power rule? What about lip service? If someone pays lip service to a certain moral code but doesn't follow it (think the rapist priests) are they immoral in their own eyes?

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07-03-2011, 04:51 PM
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
(07-03-2011 04:40 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  While I am not familiar enough with the ethical works of the above noted men, it must be said that Kant's code did indeed stem from reason.

No, it didn't.

I've read Kant's treatise before. He begins with this:

Quote:Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good without qualification, except a Good Will. Intelligence, wit, judgment, and the other talents of the mind, however they may be named, or courage, resolution, perseverance, as qualities of temperament, are undoubtedly good and desirable in many respects; but these gifts of nature may also become extremely bad and mischievous if the will which is to make use of them, and which, therefore, constitutes what is called character, is not good.

He never makes any attempt to justify why these things are good. He simply says they are. And that's my point: his system is logical and reasonable once that framework is accepted, but he never gives any logical reason to accept that framework.

Quote:I don't think you are understanding what I am saying here. And I don't think that I can articulate it well enough to help.

Sorry to hear that. I'm not trying to accuse you of anything; I just think you're wrong, and I'm trying to show you why. I'd appreciate it if you could try to articulate your objection. Who knows - you might figure out the proper wording while attempting to type it.

Quote:As far as societal morality goes, it's convention. Now when you say convention, is that majority rules? Or (per conflict theory) those in power rule?

Depends on the society in question. In most, it's a mix of both.

Quote:What about lip service? If someone pays lip service to a certain moral code but doesn't follow it (think the rapist priests) are they immoral in their own eyes?

Depends on the person. Some people are just deluded. Others might hate themselves for it, but do it anyway.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
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10-03-2011, 01:05 PM
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
After a couple of days reading, re-reading and talking to profs, I have to admit that I hadn't applied my skeptical filter in a manner well-suited enough to pick up that he does not back up his use of the word "good". He circles back to the will in the third section, but he does flub on freedom a little bit. Thank you for this insight.

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10-03-2011, 09:11 PM
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
Daemonowner made a challenge of a time slavery is not that bad. Though it's pretty simple. Many tribal and more complex societies use prisoners of war and criminals as slave labor. The US pays criminals a small wage so as to avoid the chain gang being considered slave labor. The basic idea here being that using able bodied offensive people as slaves is a better purpose than slaughtering them to keep them from being a burden on society. Many countries where slave labor is not enforced with criminals tend to pay little attention to their prisons. If prisoners aren't worth anything then often they are viewed as waste. The slave trade was a large scale usage of this system which defied the point of it by adding more burdens onto society for the purpose of reducing labor. Slavery is not exactly a desired state, but often times the other option is death. Killing your enemy is still very much righteous, as can be noted by looking at any war that happens to crop up.

As for Magnet's quote of Locke, that is from the jungle philosophy which is part of J.L. Mackie's book "Problems from Locke" I can see where you would get confused.

Also Magnet, the point of Kant's ethics was very much due to the fact that people do not innately see other people as equals. During his time class distinctions created liberties awarded to only a select few, and rarely was the next person in line given the same credit as you. His first part was of serious importance for the time frame. People still ignore this principle often so I would definitely state it's not as commonplace as you suggest.

I'm not really a fan of Kant because he focuses on duty in a way that is rather restrictive. He also went way overboard on his examples.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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10-03-2011, 09:24 PM
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
(10-03-2011 01:05 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  After a couple of days reading, re-reading and talking to profs, I have to admit that I hadn't applied my skeptical filter in a manner well-suited enough to pick up that he does not back up his use of the word "good". He circles back to the will in the third section, but he does flub on freedom a little bit. Thank you for this insight.

No problem. This is the philosophy section, after all. What is it for if not for learning about philosophy? Big Grin

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
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10-03-2011, 11:35 PM
RE: Ethics-Moral Relativism
(10-03-2011 09:24 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(10-03-2011 01:05 PM)cfhmagnet Wrote:  After a couple of days reading, re-reading and talking to profs, I have to admit that I hadn't applied my skeptical filter in a manner well-suited enough to pick up that he does not back up his use of the word "good". He circles back to the will in the third section, but he does flub on freedom a little bit. Thank you for this insight.

No problem. This is the philosophy section, after all. What is it for if not for learning about philosophy? Big Grin
I fell in love with philosophy last year but I fell in love with prose when I learned to read. Having read some Kant I'm sure you caught how beautifully he writes. Sometimes I get caught up in it and lose analytical objectivity.

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