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Old 19th January 2021, 09:32 PM   #161
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Obviously the justification for burning witches is false. No? Is that really just a matter of opinion? If one person thinks that witches have evil powers and they stop the crops from growing and turn the villagers into newts and should be dunked in water until they confess and thereafter must be burned alive and another person says that these beliefs are simply false and there is no empirical evidence for the claims, then do you truly believe that nobody can say which is right?

The same goes for modern witch hunts.
It's more complicated than mere "opinion". It is the consensus of society that directs moral norms, not any individual. If one person believes that the witch should be burned, but no-one agrees with them, that witch is not burned. Morals are influenced (though not dictated) by community leaders, celebrities, government and civil society institutions, charity bodies and others. That's why I say that morals are a social construct - in fact, a better term is social contract.

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
As for baking cakes, if 50 percent agree with one side and another 50 percent agree with the other side does rockint have a strong moral conviction that both sides are right (as he suggests he is strongly in favour of whatever his community has decided and will blindly follow whatever it is his community dictates?)
All citizens participate in society to one extent or another, unless they go off-grid and live out in the woods somewhere with no contact with others. And yes, most of us do follow the social contract. When people stop following the social contact, you get situations like January 6th.
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Old 19th January 2021, 09:54 PM   #162
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It's more complicated than mere "opinion". It is the consensus of society that directs moral norms, not any individual. If one person believes that the witch should be burned, but no-one agrees with them, that witch is not burned. Morals are influenced (though not dictated) by community leaders, celebrities, government and civil society institutions, charity bodies and others. That's why I say that morals are a social construct - in fact, a better term is social contract.

All citizens participate in society to one extent or another, unless they go off-grid and live out in the woods somewhere with no contact with others. And yes, most of us do follow the social contract. When people stop following the social contact, you get situations like January 6th.
I donít understand the logic of what you are saying. May I remind you that you pointed out that morality has improved. Yet here you are claiming that it is merely the social consensus and that people outside the social consensus are somehow deficient.

I disagree. In many cases arguing for the social consensus is the wrong thing to do.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 19th January 2021, 10:49 PM   #163
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I donít understand the logic of what you are saying. May I remind you that you pointed out that morality has improved. Yet here you are claiming that it is merely the social consensus and that people outside the social consensus are somehow deficient.

I disagree. In many cases arguing for the social consensus is the wrong thing to do.

With all due respect - says you.
Your opinion is worth no more regarding moral issues than anyone else's. Your opinion is based on your own personal perspective and view of the world that has been molded by your personal experiences since you were born.
Where you were born; to who you were born; the socio-economic standing of your family;the dominant religion of your culture; your education; your friends; family, etc, etc, etc.
One opinion out of 7.6 billion opinions.
The hubris of anyone thinking that their idea of a universal morality is more important or "right" than anyone else's is mind boggling.
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Old 20th January 2021, 12:21 AM   #164
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
With all due respect - says you.
Your opinion is worth no more regarding moral issues than anyone else's. Your opinion is based on your own personal perspective and view of the world that has been molded by your personal experiences since you were born.
Where you were born; to who you were born; the socio-economic standing of your family;the dominant religion of your culture; your education; your friends; family, etc, etc, etc.
One opinion out of 7.6 billion opinions.
The hubris of anyone thinking that their idea of a universal morality is more important or "right" than anyone else's is mind boggling.
I am not sure of your point. If you mean something like ďhow dare you criticize those who kill witches!Ē Then maybe you can explain why it is that you think YOUR opinion of being universally tolerant of all other moral opinions is not itself a contradiction.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 20th January 2021, 09:31 AM   #165
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
Engineers deal with falsifiable science and their concepts that do not fit current science are considered nice but useless.
"Nice but useless" is perfect description of moral philosophers.
Ducking the point to go off on an irrelevant pedantic tangent? Thanks, good talk.

Actually, this might clear up your position: you opined on another thread that hang glider pilots who crash are not worthy of rescue attempts. You claimed they needlessly put S&R teams at unnecessary risk. I find your position callously immoral, as the pilot suffered an accident (not different than someone out for a Sunday drive who gets in a car wreck), and that these S&R boys relish nothing more than a live rescue and are more than willing to jump in.

Perhaps if you explained your 'morality' in this case, it would shed some light on your moral philosophy, and why a moral philosopher might not benefit from the exploration of your unusual take?
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Old 20th January 2021, 11:51 AM   #166
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
With all due respect - says you.
Your opinion is worth no more regarding moral issues than anyone else's. Your opinion is based on your own personal perspective and view of the world that has been molded by your personal experiences since you were born.
Where you were born; to who you were born; the socio-economic standing of your family;the dominant religion of your culture; your education; your friends; family, etc, etc, etc.
One opinion out of 7.6 billion opinions.
The hubris of anyone thinking that their idea of a universal morality is more important or "right" than anyone else's is mind boggling.
You're aware that moral relativism is a model that some philosopher's argue for,, no?

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but you've ignored my request to clarify, and the more you add, the more your view seems to look like moral relativism.

Considering that it's not the most popular view either among the public or academically, I'm a bit surprised you don't welcome the efforts of moral philosophers who argue for the view that you seem to be so passionate about defending.

Of course, in labelling your view "relativism" I might still be misunderstanding you. Since your view differs from many other members here, it would certainly help to clarify and discuss these disparate views if we had some terminology for these different views so that we could easily clarify our positions. Luckily, moral philosophers have created such terminology and framework for discussion.
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Old 20th January 2021, 02:13 PM   #167
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I donít understand the logic of what you are saying. May I remind you that you pointed out that morality has improved. Yet here you are claiming that it is merely the social consensus and that people outside the social consensus are somehow deficient.

I disagree. In many cases arguing for the social consensus is the wrong thing to do.
My apologies - I should have said that moral philosophy in our modern western developed democracies is better. There are places in the modern world where I do not believe that moral philosophies is as good - places where women still aren't allowed to drive, where LGBTQ people are discriminated against or criminalised. Places that still execute criminals. I do not say that these places are morally deficient. I say that those moral codes aren't as good for society.

And when you say that it is "merely" the social consensus, you are definitely not understanding what I am saying. Social consensus is everything. When we get up and go to work in the morning, we do so because the social consensus is that it is good to do so. When we celebrate holidays, we do so because the social consensus is that it is good to do so. Social consensus influences absolutely everything, and it is critically important to the way society functions. It is not an exaggeration to say that without social consensus, there would be no society, only anarchy.

A long, long time ago, social consensus demanded that there be laws. Social consensus has, over time, settled on the best - or at least the least worst - method of defining those laws, which is representative democracy. Under this social consensus, enforced by law only where necessary, our modern western developed democracies have achieved great things.

There is no externally objective morality outside of the social consensus. What would be the source of that anyway? (The answer by the way is religion). But over time, the morality that social consensus has come up with in our modern western developed democracies is pretty good. There is no absolute good. There is only good for society.
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Old 20th January 2021, 03:14 PM   #168
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Casting it as a "currency" poisons the well. Human organs are not currency, they are a source of potential lives saved, and there is always a shortage of them. Always.
I'm saying that the way this policy treats organs is that it treats them as currency. Which is understandable. There's a chronic shortage of these very desirable items. It's very tempting to treat them as commodities and craft public policy that maximizes revenue of these commodities. But commoditizing humans is a bad idea in my opinion. Therefore I am ethically opposed to policies that do so, in the name of increased revenues.
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Old 20th January 2021, 03:17 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Well, for a start we no longer consider it okay to torture people into confessing that they're witches.
In place of "no longer" I'd say "in this particular time and place". The Gregorian calendar does not actually mark progress towards a moral ideal. Nor does any other calendar.

If you were a citizen of ancient Rome, I doubt you'd bat an eye at the institution of indentured servitude - slavery.
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Old 20th January 2021, 03:28 PM   #170
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Ducking the point to go off on an irrelevant pedantic tangent? Thanks, good talk.

Actually, this might clear up your position: you opined on another thread that hang glider pilots who crash are not worthy of rescue attempts. You claimed they needlessly put S&R teams at unnecessary risk. I find your position callously immoral, as the pilot suffered an accident (not different than someone out for a Sunday drive who gets in a car wreck), and that these S&R boys relish nothing more than a live rescue and are more than willing to jump in.

Perhaps if you explained your 'morality' in this case, it would shed some light on your moral philosophy, and why a moral philosopher might not benefit from the exploration of your unusual take?
Either way, rockitin is making a moral statement about what should be done.

It is somewhat hypocritical of him to simultaneously sneer at people who make moral judgments and say "that's just like...your opinion" and then on just about every thread going offer his own moral opinions.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 20th January 2021, 03:32 PM   #171
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
You're aware that moral relativism is a model that some philosopher's argue for,, no?

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but you've ignored my request to clarify, and the more you add, the more your view seems to look like moral relativism.

Considering that it's not the most popular view either among the public or academically, I'm a bit surprised you don't welcome the efforts of moral philosophers who argue for the view that you seem to be so passionate about defending.

Of course, in labelling your view "relativism" I might still be misunderstanding you. Since your view differs from many other members here, it would certainly help to clarify and discuss these disparate views if we had some terminology for these different views so that we could easily clarify our positions. Luckily, moral philosophers have created such terminology and framework for discussion.
Yeah, it could also be divided into:

1.) Descriptive moral relativism: Just observing that different people and societies have different moral outlooks.

AND

2.) Normative moral relativism: That what every other person or culture does morally is right for them and must be respected as just one of many.

rockitn seems to veer between the two without clearly explaining his views. Number 1 is so trivially obvious that anyone pointing it out risks looking pedantic, patronizing, a bit slow, or like a philosopher going through the tedious job of stating the obvious, and Number 2 is a whole world of logical confusion.

Either way, not a great look, unfortunately.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 20th January 2021, 03:40 PM   #172
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
My apologies - I should have said that moral philosophy in our modern western developed democracies is better. There are places in the modern world where I do not believe that moral philosophies is as good - places where women still aren't allowed to drive, where LGBTQ people are discriminated against or criminalised. Places that still execute criminals. I do not say that these places are morally deficient. I say that those moral codes aren't as good for society.

And when you say that it is "merely" the social consensus, you are definitely not understanding what I am saying. Social consensus is everything. When we get up and go to work in the morning, we do so because the social consensus is that it is good to do so. When we celebrate holidays, we do so because the social consensus is that it is good to do so. Social consensus influences absolutely everything, and it is critically important to the way society functions. It is not an exaggeration to say that without social consensus, there would be no society, only anarchy.

A long, long time ago, social consensus demanded that there be laws. Social consensus has, over time, settled on the best - or at least the least worst - method of defining those laws, which is representative democracy. Under this social consensus, enforced by law only where necessary, our modern western developed democracies have achieved great things.

There is no externally objective morality outside of the social consensus. What would be the source of that anyway? (The answer by the way is religion). But over time, the morality that social consensus has come up with in our modern western developed democracies is pretty good. There is no absolute good. There is only good for society.
Sorry, but this is just wrong.

If "social consensus" was all there was in moral reasoning, then there would be no mechanism for social change.

But it seems some people have used reason (not religion) to come up with alternative ideas of moral foundations.

For example, while Martin Luther King was religious and may have seen that as the foudation for his morality, it is clearly not solely because of his religion that people fought for civil rights. Many of those doing so were atheists.

If you look at the writings of people like Jeremy Bentham (in the 18th century) his views (utilitarianism) were way outside the social consensus, and those of Peter Singer were too. Similarly, recent changes in LGBT etc... are changing. Is religion or reason most at the forefront of changing this, do you think?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 20th January 2021, 07:29 PM   #173
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Sorry, but this is just wrong.

If "social consensus" was all there was in moral reasoning, then there would be no mechanism for social change.
Why not? Consensus changes all the time. Slowly. In my lifetime, the social consensus around LGBTQ people has changed a lot. When I was a child, homosexuals were marginalised, discriminated against, physically assaulted. Now we have rainbow flags everywhere, gay people can get married with all that entails, and I count many members of the LGBTQ community as my friends. The social consensus around being gay (trans, intersex, etc) has changed. Do you see beneath my user name there where I give my pronouns? That's me doing my little bit to influence the social consensus and make it more acceptable to share pronouns upfront. That's a mechanism for social change. A small and possibly ineffective one, sure. But it's a mechanism.

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
But it seems some people have used reason (not religion) to come up with alternative ideas of moral foundations.

For example, while Martin Luther King was religious and may have seen that as the foudation for his morality, it is clearly not solely because of his religion that people fought for civil rights. Many of those doing so were atheists.

If you look at the writings of people like Jeremy Bentham (in the 18th century) his views (utilitarianism) were way outside the social consensus, and those of Peter Singer were too. Similarly, recent changes in LGBT etc... are changing. Is religion or reason most at the forefront of changing this, do you think?
I think both can be. Right now, it seems to me more like most religions are holding change back and reason is pushing it forward. But in the past, religion was a powerful driver of social consensus. Of course that changed. That's what things do. They change.

I don't actually think we're too far away from agreement here.
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Old 20th January 2021, 07:53 PM   #174
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Either way, rockitin is making a moral statement about what should be done.

It is somewhat hypocritical of him to simultaneously sneer at people who make moral judgments and say "that's just like...your opinion" and then on just about every thread going offer his own moral opinions.

I have never said people should be not allowed to have an opinion on morality - what I am saying is that people trying to force their opinion about morality on others is wrong.
My opinion about morality is no more important than your opinion and vice versa
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Old 20th January 2021, 08:12 PM   #175
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Why not? Consensus changes all the time. Slowly. In my lifetime, the social consensus around LGBTQ people has changed a lot. When I was a child, homosexuals were marginalised, discriminated against, physically assaulted. Now we have rainbow flags everywhere, gay people can get married with all that entails, and I count many members of the LGBTQ community as my friends. The social consensus around being gay (trans, intersex, etc) has changed. Do you see beneath my user name there where I give my pronouns? That's me doing my little bit to influence the social consensus and make it more acceptable to share pronouns upfront. That's a mechanism for social change. A small and possibly ineffective one, sure. But it's a mechanism.
Indeed. But what you are describing is your own attempts to alter the social consensus, whereas before you were describing how it dictates what everybody thinks is right and wrong. The mechanisms you talk about go against your claims and in favour of mine.

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I think both can be. Right now, it seems to me more like most religions are holding change back and reason is pushing it forward. But in the past, religion was a powerful driver of social consensus. Of course that changed. That's what things do. They change.

I don't actually think we're too far away from agreement here.
Sure, but how can you claim that on there is no objective morality and also that reason makes our morality better?

If religion makes morality worse, and reason makes it better then your earlier claim:

Quote:
There is no externally objective morality outside of the social consensus. What would be the source of that anyway? (The answer by the way is religion)
is obviously false.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 20th January 2021, 08:13 PM   #176
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
I have never said people should be not allowed to have an opinion on morality - what I am saying is that people trying to force their opinion about morality on others is wrong.
Is wrong? Morally wrong? Are you trying to force this opinion upon me?

If yes, are you not contradicting yourself?

If no, then please explain what you mean.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 20th January 2021, 08:25 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Indeed. But what you are describing is your own attempts to alter the social consensus, whereas before you were describing how it dictates what everybody thinks is right and wrong. The mechanisms you talk about go against your claims and in favour of mine.
Ah now. If you do a ctrl-F and search for the word dictate, you will find that you are the only person to have used that word. In fact, I have been very careful to avoid using that word, instead using the word influence.

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Sure, but how can you claim that on there is no objective morality and also that reason makes our morality better?
I mean better for society, gauged by economic and social prosperity and overall happiness. There is no objective measure for betterness.

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
If religion makes morality worse, and reason makes it better then your earlier claim:

is obviously false.
I fear I may have expressed myself badly. It is religion that posits that there is an external objective morality, personified in one or more deities. Absent deities, what possible source could there be for any kind of external objective morality?

Furthermore, my statement was that currentlly, religion appears to me to be retarding moral development and reason is driving it. That's a somewhat different statement to the way you framed it here.
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Old 20th January 2021, 08:56 PM   #178
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Ah now. If you do a ctrl-F and search for the word dictate, you will find that you are the only person to have used that word. In fact, I have been very careful to avoid using that word, instead using the word influence.
Let's not split hairs. I was paraphrasing this, which obviously suggests that social consensus dictates everything. If you did not mean everything, then you probably should have chosen a less misleading term:

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
And when you say that it is "merely" the social consensus, you are definitely not understanding what I am saying. Social consensus is everything. When we get up and go to work in the morning, we do so because the social consensus is that it is good to do so. When we celebrate holidays, we do so because the social consensus is that it is good to do so. Social consensus influences absolutely everything, and it is critically important to the way society functions. It is not an exaggeration to say that without social consensus, there would be no society, only anarchy.
You also said:

Quote:
When people stop following the social contact, you get situations like January 6th.
You are being very confusing here. The sum total of what you are saying very much sounds like a frankly authoritarian demand that everything society agrees on is right, and not going along with it is wrong. If that's not what you mean, then you really, really need to think of better ways of expressing yourself.

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I mean better for society, gauged by economic and social prosperity and overall happiness. There is no objective measure for betterness.
Then how would you know if things are better?

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I fear I may have expressed myself badly.
We have agreement! Sorry... that's snarky.

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It is religion that posits that there is an external objective morality, personified in one or more deities. Absent deities, what possible source could there be for any kind of external objective morality?
You have stated some, but one example we could have is whether it matches our fundamental intuitions about what is better. If I said I have come up with a new moral standard but it will make everyone unhappy it would violate our intuitions about what is good or bad. But if it is "better for society, gauged by economic and social prosperity and overall happiness." then it is far more likely to square with our intuitions about what is good or bad.

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Furthermore, my statement was that currentlly, religion appears to me to be retarding moral development and reason is driving it. That's a somewhat different statement to the way you framed it here.
I get it. People hate the idea of an "objective morality". It seems sort of... patriachoheteronormativoethnocentici something that is sneered at by post-modernists. But think about what about actions that have the net result of making people happier. This is a claim that has been made by utilitarian philosophers from the good old enlightenment tradition. It seems pretty good to me, and most people seem to intuitively get it.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 20th January 2021, 09:40 PM   #179
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Let's not split hairs. I was paraphrasing this, which obviously suggests that social consensus dictates everything. If you did not mean everything, then you probably should have chosen a less misleading term:
Let's try "Social consensus is everything that morality is made of". There is no component of morality that is not derivable to social consensus.

Social consensus does not dictate. It influences. It provides an environment that we must navigate. If we take actions that go against the social consensus, there will be consequences, which will vary according to how severe the transgression. But there is no dictatorship. At best, there is legislation, which follows social consensus. You can't legislate morality, but legislation and morality influence each other.

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
You are being very confusing here. The sum total of what you are saying very much sounds like a frankly authoritarian demand that everything society agrees on is right, and not going along with it is wrong. If that's not what you mean, then you really, really need to think of better ways of expressing yourself.
Perhaps I do. But again, I am really struggling to understand how you got from what I said to what you say you think I said. January 6th was a transgression against the social consensus, and a severe one. The consequences are being felt - the participants are being arrested and tried, and they will experience some of the most severe consequences we have for transgression of the social contract. If you want to call that an authoritarian demand, then that's fine, but I call it rule of law.

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Then how would you know if things are better?
Are more people happy and prosperous? Then it's better.

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
You have stated some, but one example we could have is whether it matches our fundamental intuitions about what is better. If I said I have come up with a new moral standard but it will make everyone unhappy it would violate our intuitions about what is good or bad. But if it is "better for society, gauged by economic and social prosperity and overall happiness." then it is far more likely to square with our intuitions about what is good or bad.
Yes. And that is the answer to your question.

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I get it. People hate the idea of an "objective morality". It seems sort of... patriachoheteronormativoethnocentici something that is sneered at by post-modernists. But think about what about actions that have the net result of making people happier. This is a claim that has been made by utilitarian philosophers from the good old enlightenment tradition. It seems pretty good to me, and most people seem to intuitively get it.
Indeed, and this is why I say that we're actually not too far from agreement.
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Old 20th January 2021, 11:15 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Let's try "Social consensus is everything that morality is made of". There is no component of morality that is not derivable to social consensus.

Social consensus does not dictate. It influences. It provides an environment that we must navigate. If we take actions that go against the social consensus, there will be consequences, which will vary according to how severe the transgression. But there is no dictatorship. At best, there is legislation, which follows social consensus. You can't legislate morality, but legislation and morality influence each other.
Sorry, but I really don't understand this clarification. Why is "social consensus" relevant?

As far as I can see, when you try to derive a moral principle, it is done regardless of whether something is part of tradition, religious dogma, or social consensus. Appeal to those things seem to me to be the opposite of moral reasoning, unless you are explicitly arguing that morality is somehow based on a kind of duty to what society expects of you. Well, then, we are only a step removed from normative moral relativism which I don't think you want to get to.

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Perhaps I do. But again, I am really struggling to understand how you got from what I said to what you say you think I said. January 6th was a transgression against the social consensus, and a severe one. The consequences are being felt - the participants are being arrested and tried, and they will experience some of the most severe consequences we have for transgression of the social contract. If you want to call that an authoritarian demand, then that's fine, but I call it rule of law.
I think it is irrelevant unless you are explicitly arguing that moral behaviour is based primarily on following the rule of law. But again, that road is a dangerous one, and in my opinion is definitely not what moral reasoning is about.

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Are more people happy and prosperous? Then it's better.

Yes. And that is the answer to your question.

Indeed, and this is why I say that we're actually not too far from agreement.
Right, then you have to give up this claim:

Quote:
There is no externally objective morality outside of the social consensus. What would be the source of that anyway? (The answer by the way is religion).
The externally objective morality is, and I think this is where we had agreed, some moral principle that derives the most happiness (or positive outcomes), not just what society agrees to, as that would make you a hostage to fortune. If the social consensus is slavery, racism, oppression of left-handed people etc... then it would be a good thing to be opposed to the social consensus.

Bottom line: Do NOT use social consensus as a yardstick for morality!
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Old 21st January 2021, 07:09 AM   #181
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm saying that the way this policy treats organs is that it treats them as currency. Which is understandable. There's a chronic shortage of these very desirable items. It's very tempting to treat them as commodities and craft public policy that maximizes revenue of these commodities. But commoditizing humans is a bad idea in my opinion. Therefore I am ethically opposed to policies that do so, in the name of increased revenues.
And from a completely different direction there's a religious argument against "opt-out" organ donation: by making donation a default it removes the credit a person would get (either karmically or directly in the favor of a god/gods) for making a choice and taking action to become a donor. A good deed doesn't count if it happened automatically for you. If I take steps to give money to the poor or organs to the sick that's adding to my personal goodness score. If I just pay taxes and don't object to my organs being harvested then I've done nothing and get no credit, even if the outcome is exactly the same for the poor and organless.
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Old 21st January 2021, 08:35 AM   #182
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Yeah, it could also be divided into:

1.) Descriptive moral relativism: Just observing that different people and societies have different moral outlooks.

AND

2.) Normative moral relativism: That what every other person or culture does morally is right for them and must be respected as just one of many.

rockitn seems to veer between the two without clearly explaining his views. Number 1 is so trivially obvious that anyone pointing it out risks looking pedantic, patronizing, a bit slow, or like a philosopher going through the tedious job of stating the obvious, and Number 2 is a whole world of logical confusion.

Either way, not a great look, unfortunately.
And either way, moral philosophy always seems to get bogged down right here. At least in every discussion I've seen on this forum. The question comes up regularly, and the discussion regularly gets about this far. And then nobody knows what to do next. It always comes back to this same slapfight.

None of you - angrysoba, rockinkt, arthwollipot - seem to have any clue how to move past this point to some form of applied morality. Nobody seems to have any idea how to get there.

Oh, we all apply morality just fine. We just all seem to have no ******* clue how or why it makes sense. It's like the discontinuity between quantum mechanics and general relativity. They occupy positions on the same continuum of physical reality, but so far scientists have no clue how to connect them.

And in thousands of years of trying, it seems that moral philosophers have no clue how to connect moral relativism with applied morality. Or if they do have a clue, nobody here knows what it is. Year in and year out, the same discussion comes up. Year in and year out, it always dead-ends with the same unanswered questions.
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Old 21st January 2021, 08:49 AM   #183
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And either way, moral philosophy always seems to get bogged down right here. At least in every discussion I've seen on this forum. The question comes up regularly, and the discussion regularly gets about this far. And then nobody knows what to do next. It always comes back to this same slapfight.

None of you - angrysoba, rockinkt, arthwollipot - seem to have any clue how to move past this point to some form of applied morality. Nobody seems to have any idea how to get there.

Oh, we all apply morality just fine. We just all seem to have no ******* clue how or why it makes sense. It's like the discontinuity between quantum mechanics and general relativity. They occupy positions on the same continuum of physical reality, but so far scientists have no clue how to connect them.

And in thousands of years of trying, it seems that moral philosophers have no clue how to connect moral relativism with applied morality. Or if they do have a clue, nobody here knows what it is. Year in and year out, the same discussion comes up. Year in and year out, it always dead-ends with the same unanswered questions.
Just to be clear here, you're pointing to a group of people who are not philosophers, who are mostly antagonistic towards moral philosophers and certainly aren't as a greoup deeply versed in their work. You're pointing to the beliefs and actions of that group as an indictment of moral philosophers?

That's a bit like pointing at a group of foul smelling people who hate soap and would never use it as evidence that soap doesn't really help clean you.
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Old 21st January 2021, 09:13 AM   #184
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
Just to be clear here, you're pointing to a group of people who are not philosophers, who are mostly antagonistic towards moral philosophers and certainly aren't as a greoup deeply versed in their work. You're pointing to the beliefs and actions of that group as an indictment of moral philosophers?

That's a bit like pointing at a group of foul smelling people who hate soap and would never use it as evidence that soap doesn't really help clean you.
I'm pointing to a group of people who have pretty much the same debate, inquiring into the nature and value of soap on a regular basis, and always end up at pretty much the same place of not quite understanding soap or what it's good for. Shouldn't progress be made at some point?

I note that you offer nothing new either. If actual moral philosophers have something more to add, something that progresses this discussion, what is it? If you know what moral philosophers have come up with, that is missing from this thread, why not share it?
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Old 21st January 2021, 09:19 AM   #185
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm pretty sure I could come up with some way to desecrate your body and assassinate your character, such that you'd leave instructions to your surviving friends and family, "I know I'll be dead and won't actually care, but promise me you'll do whatever you reasonably can to keep theprestige from having his way with my remains."
I would very much like to add this sentence to my will, but I fear that it would be a source of concern rather than humor after I am no longer here.

Originally Posted by TragicMonkey
And from a completely different direction there's a religious argument against "opt-out" organ donation: by making donation a default it removes the credit a person would get (either karmically or directly in the favor of a god/gods) for making a choice and taking action to become a donor. A good deed doesn't count if it happened automatically for you. If I take steps to give money to the poor or organs to the sick that's adding to my personal goodness score. If I just pay taxes and don't object to my organs being harvested then I've done nothing and get no credit, even if the outcome is exactly the same for the poor and organless.
Another reason we can't have good things.
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Old 21st January 2021, 10:30 AM   #186
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm pointing to a group of people who have pretty much the same debate, inquiring into the nature and value of soap on a regular basis, and always end up at pretty much the same place of not quite understanding soap or what it's good for. Shouldn't progress be made at some point?
No matter how good the soap is, if people refuse to use it, they won't smell any better.

As for the rest of your post, every time someone tries to discuss some simple concepts from moral philosophy in these forums they're beset by most other posters complaining about how useless the whole practice is. Hard to get to much hard-won stuff of value with an audience hostile to the basics.

But for starters, if this crew read a little more moral philsophy, there would be a lot less talking past each other and wasted air. They'd be able to clearly articulate their position and why it differs from others and why they hold it. Instead because everyone here resists any formalization, they bicker back and forth as though their gut feeling represent obvious truths.
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Old 21st January 2021, 10:38 AM   #187
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
No matter how good the soap is, if people refuse to use it, they won't smell any better.

As for the rest of your post, every time someone tries to discuss some simple concepts from moral philosophy in these forums they're beset by most other posters complaining about how useless the whole practice is. Hard to get to much hard-won stuff of value with an audience hostile to the basics.

But for starters, if this crew read a little more moral philsophy, there would be a lot less talking past each other and wasted air. They'd be able to clearly articulate their position and why it differs from others and why they hold it. Instead because everyone here resists any formalization, they bicker back and forth as though their gut feeling represent obvious truths.
Cavemonster, does your study of moral philosophy lead you to the conclusion that it has something useful to say about applied morality? Has it led you to the conclusion that there is in fact a bridge over the gap between moral relativism and practical morality?
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Old 21st January 2021, 10:43 AM   #188
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Cavemonster, does your study of moral philosophy lead you to the conclusion that it has something useful to say about applied morality? Has it led you to the conclusion that there is in fact a bridge over the gap between moral relativism and practical morality?
I'm pretty happy to discuss specifics of moral questions with any posters who are posting in good faith.
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Old 21st January 2021, 03:19 PM   #189
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And either way, moral philosophy always seems to get bogged down right here. At least in every discussion I've seen on this forum. The question comes up regularly, and the discussion regularly gets about this far. And then nobody knows what to do next. It always comes back to this same slapfight.

None of you - angrysoba, rockinkt, arthwollipot - seem to have any clue how to move past this point to some form of applied morality. Nobody seems to have any idea how to get there.

Oh, we all apply morality just fine. We just all seem to have no ******* clue how or why it makes sense. It's like the discontinuity between quantum mechanics and general relativity. They occupy positions on the same continuum of physical reality, but so far scientists have no clue how to connect them.

And in thousands of years of trying, it seems that moral philosophers have no clue how to connect moral relativism with applied morality. Or if they do have a clue, nobody here knows what it is. Year in and year out, the same discussion comes up. Year in and year out, it always dead-ends with the same unanswered questions.
So what are you going to do about it?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 21st January 2021, 03:29 PM   #190
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
So what are you going to do about it?
I'd kill all five patients and start making room for the next round since we couldn't save them. What, is nobody else thinking about efficiency here?
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Old 21st January 2021, 03:35 PM   #191
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
So what are you going to do about it?
Point and laugh every time the conversation falls off the same horse of the same merry go round.

At this point it's mostly just an anthropological observation for me, that certain topics get discussed here on a regular basis, and the discussion always goes so far and no further. It's always always always moral relativism 101, brain cramp, fringe reset. Maybe next time around I'll try to come up with a solution for moving beyond that.
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Old 21st January 2021, 03:52 PM   #192
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Taking angrysoba's and theprestige's words into account I feel that I have to make this qualification.

Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Are more people happy and prosperous? Then it's better.
Better in my opinion because I value happiness and prosperity and I believe that it leads to better societal outcomes. Someone who lives in an area with a very different social contract will have a different opinion on what leads to better social outcomes.
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Old 21st January 2021, 04:29 PM   #193
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Taking angrysoba's and theprestige's words into account I feel that I have to make this qualification.

Better in my opinion because I value happiness and prosperity and I believe that it leads to better societal outcomes. Someone who lives in an area with a very different social contract will have a different opinion on what leads to better social outcomes.
Fair enough.
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Old 21st January 2021, 04:51 PM   #194
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
No matter how good the soap is, if people refuse to use it, they won't smell any better.

As for the rest of your post, every time someone tries to discuss some simple concepts from moral philosophy in these forums they're beset by most other posters complaining about how useless the whole practice is. Hard to get to much hard-won stuff of value with an audience hostile to the basics.

But for starters, if this crew read a little more moral philsophy, there would be a lot less talking past each other and wasted air. They'd be able to clearly articulate their position and why it differs from others and why they hold it. Instead because everyone here resists any formalization, they bicker back and forth as though their gut feeling represent obvious truths.
Well, I think that's not entirely fair, is it?

My first two posts in the thread addressed the OP's thought experiment:
1) I showed that the OP's thought experiment, as posted, was easily answerable.
2) I showed how to tighten the thought experiment to make it more challenging.

(theprestige ignored 2 and accused me of doing a Kobayashi Maru in Number 1).

I also clarified your point about moral relativism to point out that it could mean two different things (descriptive and normative) and that a normative moral relativism (that seemed to be pushed by rockitn and arthwollipot) was logically inconsistent.

I also explained (I thought) why I agreed with opt--out rather that opt-in for organ donation (applied morality) based on consequentialist principles (moral philosophy), and found the deontological argument against to be lacking. I have been attempting to show that the role of intuition is important here. I do believe that if you assume rationality and a consistency in argument that most people can be persuaded (not forced) to agree with consequentialism in healthcare. I think we both agreed that this is a de facto state when it comes to making healthcare decisions such as budgeting.

I also explained (or thought I did) why such things as tradition, religion and social consensus are poor foundations for a moral theory.

So I don't accept these criticisms of my posting.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 21st January 2021, 04:57 PM   #195
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Point and laugh every time the conversation falls off the same horse of the same merry go round.

At this point it's mostly just an anthropological observation for me, that certain topics get discussed here on a regular basis, and the discussion always goes so far and no further. It's always always always moral relativism 101, brain cramp, fringe reset. Maybe next time around I'll try to come up with a solution for moving beyond that.
Sure it is. It's always an enticing view for many. I suppose it is like the way anytime anyone wants to talk about 9/11 you can set your watch before some Truther comes in and starts saying that jet fuel can't melt steel buildings or did you know that there were no Arabic names on the flight manifest or how come the planes weren't shot down....

Just because the same wrong ideas come up time and time again, doesn't mean that there is no answer to this question.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 21st January 2021, 05:18 PM   #196
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Sure it is. It's always an enticing view for many. I suppose it is like the way anytime anyone wants to talk about 9/11 you can set your watch before some Truther comes in and starts saying that jet fuel can't melt steel buildings or did you know that there were no Arabic names on the flight manifest or how come the planes weren't shot down....

Just because the same wrong ideas come up time and time again, doesn't mean that there is no answer to this question.
Honestly? I don't know if there is an answer to this question.

What I'm pointing out here is the sheer size of the mountain of repetition about the question, with never any progress towards an answer. Even Cavemonster refuses to contribute any such progress, even while he continues to intimate that such progress is possible, and has indeed been made.
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Old 21st January 2021, 05:40 PM   #197
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Honestly? I don't know if there is an answer to this question.

What I'm pointing out here is the sheer size of the mountain of repetition about the question, with never any progress towards an answer. Even Cavemonster refuses to contribute any such progress, even while he continues to intimate that such progress is possible, and has indeed been made.
I think there is an answer to whether or not normative moral relativism is a viable moral stance.

First of all, is it coherent? I would say you only have to look at rockinkt's post to see that it is not:


Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
I have never said people should be not allowed to have an opinion on morality - what I am saying is that people trying to force their opinion about morality on others is wrong.
My opinion about morality is no more important than your opinion and vice versa
Rockinkt says you can have your own opinion, but must not "force" it. When he says force it, it seems he means those people here who have merely been arguing for their moral opinion. If persuading, or arguing is the same as forcing it, and that is wrong, then his own arguing for his own position is, by his own standards, wrong.

Ultimately, normative moral relativism has the same pitfall. It argues for relativism, and requires a non-relative (universal) demand for respect of all views. That simply does not work!

theprestige, I can only ask you. Do you think that normative moral relativism is a self-defeating moral stance?
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"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 21st January 2021, 06:35 PM   #198
Cavemonster
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Well, I think that's not entirely fair, is it?

My first two posts in the thread addressed the OP's thought experiment:
1) I showed that the OP's thought experiment, as posted, was easily answerable.
2) I showed how to tighten the thought experiment to make it more challenging.

(theprestige ignored 2 and accused me of doing a Kobayashi Maru in Number 1).

I also clarified your point about moral relativism to point out that it could mean two different things (descriptive and normative) and that a normative moral relativism (that seemed to be pushed by rockitn and arthwollipot) was logically inconsistent.

I also explained (I thought) why I agreed with opt--out rather that opt-in for organ donation (applied morality) based on consequentialist principles (moral philosophy), and found the deontological argument against to be lacking. I have been attempting to show that the role of intuition is important here. I do believe that if you assume rationality and a consistency in argument that most people can be persuaded (not forced) to agree with consequentialism in healthcare. I think we both agreed that this is a de facto state when it comes to making healthcare decisions such as budgeting.

I also explained (or thought I did) why such things as tradition, religion and social consensus are poor foundations for a moral theory.

So I don't accept these criticisms of my posting.
Apologies, you're correct. After I posted I thought to clarify that you were one exception. But I got lazy and distracted with other things. If you read my post as targeting what you wrote, I apologize.

I meant to address the common attitude towards moral philosophy (and most philosophy) here. I think if more posters didn't dismiss it and were as familiar as you then at least there could be discussions instead of the talking past each other and getting hung up on basic definitions and core concepts that generally happens.
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The weakness of all Utopias is this, ... They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motorcar or balloon.
-G.K. CHESTERTON
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Old 21st January 2021, 06:52 PM   #199
theprestige
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
Apologies, you're correct. After I posted I thought to clarify that you were one exception. But I got lazy and distracted with other things. If you read my post as targeting what you wrote, I apologize.

I meant to address the common attitude towards moral philosophy (and most philosophy) here. I think if more posters didn't dismiss it and were as familiar as you then at least there could be discussions instead of the talking past each other and getting hung up on basic definitions and core concepts that generally happens.
OLOL. Here you are, talking about the discussion you could be having, instead of just having that discussion. Angrysoba is someone you could be having the discussion with, if you weren't so distracted. But you're not too distracted to cast aspersions instead of having the discussion you could be having. Something something good faith, I guess?
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Old 22nd January 2021, 07:11 AM   #200
theprestige
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I think there is an answer to whether or not normative moral relativism is a viable moral stance.

First of all, is it coherent? I would say you only have to look at rockinkt's post to see that it is not:




Rockinkt says you can have your own opinion, but must not "force" it. When he says force it, it seems he means those people here who have merely been arguing for their moral opinion. If persuading, or arguing is the same as forcing it, and that is wrong, then his own arguing for his own position is, by his own standards, wrong.

Ultimately, normative moral relativism has the same pitfall. It argues for relativism, and requires a non-relative (universal) demand for respect of all views. That simply does not work!

theprestige, I can only ask you. Do you think that normative moral relativism is a self-defeating moral stance?
I think in practical terms, normative moral relativism is self-perpetuating, even if it does contain a logical contradiction in theory. Dictatorships try to impose it from the top down, with varying degrees of success. Democracies just vote or elect their way into relative moral norms over time.

The best I can come up with, overall, is that there is only one rational option for personal morality: Nihilism As I Understand It. I haven't studied a ton of nihilism, so I'm probably using the word wrong in this context, but here goes anyway.

NAIUI is actually best summed up by a paraphrase of Saint Paul: "To me all things are permitted, but not all things serve my purpose." There is no higher moral power than you. There is no arbiter of right and wrong with greater moral authority than you.

There are individuals and groups that are stronger than you. They can impose the consequences of their morality on you by force, but that does not make them right and you wrong. Only you can decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong.

For you, there is no murder, unless you say it's murder. There is no theft, unless you say it's theft. Others may disagree, but all they can do is impose the consequences of their morality on you.

In practice, NAIUI amounts to normative moral relativism. You go along to get along. You comply with the moral norms of your community because it's convenient. It serves your purpose. Your community does not permit certain things, and you color within those lines because it's more profitable to you than going outside them.

But to you, morally, all things are permitted. If it suits your purpose to violate the norms of your community, only you have the standing to decide if that's moral for you. Only you can decide for yourself if the trade-offs are worth it.

If you determine that your neighbor needs killing, but your community's moral norms would not permit it, you might decide to let him live. Not because it is morally superior, but because you don't like the trade-offs that come with your community deciding you've committed murder.

But if it serves your purpose to end his life and take your chances, who has the moral authority to condemn you? Your community? That's just an appeal to popularity - a logical fallacy.

I could point out any number of popular laws and customs that you would find morally repugnant. Slavery, for but one example. And in all times and places, there have been dissenters from the moral norms of that time and place. Even if you were born into a society where slavery was the moral norm, you might still choose to reject it. You might still come to realize that the only true morality is the one you choose for yourself, not the one that society has agreed upon.

I honestly don't see how it could be any other way.
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