Do you believe that the concept of "right" or even what you would define as "human flourishing" is only a subjective choice that groups agree upon?
Or is there an ultimate reality that shows us that certain things are almost always in support of human flourishing (or not)?
An example might people who seem to think that wearing a burka is morally sound because a large group of Muslims decided that it was okay and that we should respect that because it's merely their own flavor or social construct. But, wearing a burka comes with a long list of horrific caveats. I would argue that someone with no prior intellectual investments in moral behavior would find that unpalatable.
I see examples like these in many places including much of the political narratives that we are constantly surrounded by. There exists a moral landscape in nature. I'm not convinced its solely a matter of fooling ourselves into believing in one variety of right and wrong over another. But that does happen and isn't sustainable because of the fact that it stands in opposition to whatever the natural moral landscape happens to be.
When groups of people circle around a single unifying abstraction, they lose the ability to think about the rest of universe around them more clearly. But I would also say that some principles are inherently more valuable than others. Take freedom, for instance. This has yet to cause any structural weaknesses in American society. We already know that too much freedom can lead to entropy. As a society, we then begin to look at other supporting principles that serve freedom as a fundamental spiritual concept without the whole thing crashing down on us.
Perhaps the discussion should also include what you might find to be accurate measures of this ultimate moral landscape.
No, I don't think there is a universal "moral landscape" out there. The only (nearly) universal moral that most people through history have accepted is the Golden Rule, and even then the majority pay lip service but rationalize their way around it when they want something that violates it. "It's for their own good" or "My cause is just" is an excuse to do unto others whatever we want is all too common.
Hello again Jessie, I think a a little more direction would help define the point you are discussing. Concerning both the "morality" you are thinking of, and what "flourishing" means to you.
Each time I thought I understood your question - the next paragraph changed my mind. What level of morality are you discussing? A basic level such as indicated by your "natural moral landscape," and wilderness' "Golden Rule," or the more surface level morality of your "Burka" example, or Wesman Todd Shaw's "ultimate right and wrong" thought?
If you are thinking of foundational morality, like that "Golden Rule," or the moral characteristics of "Honesty and Integrity", then I think the only relativism would be to the species - our human species.
Above that foundational level, I would think that, of course, morality is relative. To society and culture.
Using your "burka" example; your statement shows that very relativism. Many Muslim cultures have flourished through the ages, (yes, I know that is a subjective thought), with the Burka as an accepted and integral part of their culture, yet because you are not of that culture, (or have a different concept of "flourishing"), you see that acceptance as having a "...long list of horrific caveats."
Since both perspectives seem too obvious to be real questions; What morality are you wondering about?
Would you say the overall treatment of women in middle eastern cultures is flourishing? I would not and its enough to dispense with most every moral assertion from that doctrine of belief.
How else could you describe flourishing?
I'm not sure how you would like me to structure my posts but this was more or less just thinking out loud. I flesh out what I understand and let others take it from there.
Hi Jessie, my point was that you are using your Western moral landscape to judge their, (the Burka example), Eastern moral landscape.
We deem their treatment of women to be horrific, but in the less modern and less "Westernized" areas of their society, they do not, neither the men or women. And I am sure you are aware of the flourishing early Muslim cultures - flourishing by the world's standards of the time. There is an example of your moral relativism - on one level
Even with our Western society's divide, today a large segment of our society accepts a woman's choice of abortion as a moral one, 75 years ago almost no segment of our society would have accepted that. We were a flourishing society then, and a flourishing society today. Another example of moral relativism - again, on one level.
But, on the more basic level of the "Golden Rule-type" morality, that is a morality that seems to have stood the tests of both time and cultural changes. And societies that live, even in the ballpark of that ideal, have flourished, (relatively speaking), whereas others, such as examples of nations and cultures that still encompass the practice of slavery, (Samalia? no Golden Rule ideals there), are still as non-flourishing as they were a hundred years ago.
That was my original point.
ps. your last paragraph asking how "I" would like you to structure your post seems to indicate you took my first response as criticism. Sorry, bud, it wasn't intended to be. I didn't mean to convey that impression, I was just wondering what direction to take in joining the discussion.
Perhaps we are operating on different definitions of flourishing after all. I'm not really speaking about it in a humanistic and/or economic sense. I come at it from a position of reducing human fragility and heuristics that are perennially effective in this way. Wisdom.
"ps. your last paragraph asking how "I" would like you to structure your post seems to indicate you took my first response as criticism. Sorry, bud, it wasn't intended to be. I didn't mean to convey that impression, I was just wondering what direction to take in joining the discussion."
It's all good. My head is a little fuzzy from the meds after having passed a kidney stone recently. That might account for the tangential nature of my post and being a bit placid in my responses. No offense taken.
At least this response does tie in with your OP, ie. the relativism aspect.
I doubt we could find a more "relative" discussion than that of human fragility. Does it encompass; physical life, security from hazard, societal security, a progress on a path to enlightenment? The fragility of an individual, or it's society?
If I make the assumption your fragility is intended to encompass our evolutionary journey to a point where we outgrow our nasty traits, like; prejudice, bigotry, and the like, then I would still say that the early cultures and societies I mentioned before were flourishing in those criteria also.
I believe that those earlier civilizations also gave value to the moral foundation that holds the Golden Rule concept - except that in their times those "others' were usually exclusive to "their" types of people. (ie. our early history of "us" being white land owners).
It might be the martinis, but I feel like I am right back where I started. Yes, moral relativism is real, fundamental, and unavoidable, (to us humans, and, I think, not necessarily a bad thing), but... I also think there are moral foundations - that Golden Rule again, that are not relative to the times - just applied differently according to the times.
Of course you and I see those horrible burka caveats as bad and denigrating things, but can you also see that a different cultural view could hold those views and still strive to flourish in the sense of alleviating the same human fragility that you speak of?
Am I missing your point completely? Beyond the "foundational" moral principles that I feel the "Golden Rule" example illustrates, I think that of course morals are relative, and can't see how anyone not tied to a dogma would think otherwise.
You have not missed my point. It's been a good exercise in thinking about morality. I guess where we were predestined to disagree is about the universality (or lack thereof) of various morals.
I'm studying quite a bit of eastern philosophy right now. Their approach to the world is nearly inverted to western sentiments but not in a contradictory way. I find the combination of the two very useful. And there are aspects of these perspectives that do share things in common. Where those overlap on both sides of the world, or at least those that have antiquity like the golden rule, are ones that I feel safe betting on from an acultural point of view. (in case you were assuming that I have some sort of bias to western schools of thought)
Further, I never really took a definite position in my OP but if I'm going to, I'd say that there are actions in this world that cannot be justified as moral just because someone can point to various cultural contexts where they may have served some purpose.
And I'm not sure what you were getting at when you italicized my statement about the list of horrific caveats. I'm talking about the sheer abuse and beratement of women that we find the more we dig into why women wear burkas.
The italics are merely to accentuate that it is a quote Jessie. Not an inference or emphasis.
Geez, sure getting some 'bad vibes' here. :-)
They are moral...by your standards. By your moral code. By theirs they are quite moral.
Which was the point I tried to make; morals are relative to the people creating and using them. Other people, other cultures will have their own set.
Other people, other cultures, are more wrong than other people and other cultures. lol...
But who defines "wrong"? You? Or the people living under the rules?
Death count, I suppose. Whoever stacks the most bodies and causes the most suffering compared to their counterparts. Seems reasonable to me.
But it may not (be reasonable) to them, and that's the whole point. As long as it is you making rules, making definitions and morals, any other system will be inferior. Just as if it is them making the definitions and rules it will be yours that are inferior.
Relative. Morals are always relative to the culture and ultimately the individual. Never forget that a great many moral standards are handed down by the shamans, as the "word of God", OR that those morals were most often nothing similar to yours. Infanticide, for instance, that the Gods demanded.
I also find morals to be invaluable when it comes to future outcomes. The idea of sacrfice is one of the greatest human achievements. Save a little now so that I can have a better future. So, a society can not only respect one another and cooperate, they can also structure their future in a way that prospers for long periods of time through self sacrifice.
There's a million reasons why you might have a body count anywhere in the world so it might be more helpful to look at societies that have the least amount of poverty, suffering and inequality. More people suffer from obesity than they do starvation in the West. Pretty sure America is at the top somewhere. Between 2000 and 2012, 50% of the worlds poverty was reduced (probably split that between the U.S. and China). Most poor people in America own at least one vehicle and use cell phones that cost over a hundred dollars a month to maintain. Things are great here and I owe it to the American value system. Better than North Korea. Probably more "right" than North Korea for that matter.
I think morality is objective. Complex depending on the context, but objective nonetheless.
Never been a fan of Sam Harris, who you are evidently drawing from. His arguments are the type of mental gymnastics that lead to the rationalization of things like torture and (by logical extension) genocide.
Aside from my dislike of Harris' work though, the example you gave, or at least the way you described it, is problematic. The example is "[people who] seem to think wearing a burka is morally sound because a large group of Muslims decided that it was okay. . .". The way you've stated this implies the very act of wearing a burka is morally wrong. Not sure if that was the intention, but . . .
Wearing a burka is not an issue of morality, a "moral question" as Harris would say. The issue is whether it is morally right to force a woman, under threat of punishment, to always wear a burka in public. I think the answer to that question is no, for reasons I hope are obvious.
But if that's the issue you were speaking to with that example, then not only does that indicate an underlying assumption that all women who wear burkas do so because they are forced to, which is demonstrably untrue, but it also fails to examine the converse moral question:
Is it morally right to force a woman, under threat of punishment, never to wear a burka in public? I think it would be equally reasonable to say it's not, again for reasons I hope are obvious.
I don't buy the idea of Harris' natural moral landscape. But if, as he suggests, morality is aligned to well-being ("flourishing" as he describes it) and well-being is aligned with freedom of choice, then it follows that women having freedom of choice in what they wear (including the freedom to wear a burka if they choose) is more in-keeping with his "objective moral right" than (usually) men dictating to women what they must (and must not) wear.
"But if that's the issue you were speaking to with that example, then not only does that indicate an underlying assumption that all women who wear burkas do so because they are forced to, which is demonstrably untrue"
So, women should have the freedom and right to wear burkas? Yes.
But in many countries where burkas are the norm, they don't have the freedom to choose. It should be easy enough to count all the women in the world and divide them into two piles...
Burka Wearing Women
Non-Burka Wearing Women
And then assess the level of freedom distributed between them on a global basis. To answer your... that all women who wear burkas do so because they are forced to, which is demonstrably untrue. Would you really maintain middle eastern citizens as being equally free (on average) as citizens from the west? Perhaps I am wrong about how the numbers stack up but it seems intuitive to me. If you have data, I'd be more than happy to acknowledge it.
Obviously....obviously I'm not making a case against free women in the west who choose to wear burkas as committing a moral injunction. I'm talking about a flawed system of moral assumptions that rests underneath wearing burkas. Just because burkas are harmless objects of expression doesn't mean that they're just an object.
What do you think of when you look at a Shell Station sign on the side of the road? Some people think of the conflict in the middle east. Someone might even think of a son or a brother that died fighting a war to protect Shell's assets. Some people might think of big fat money grubbers who've infiltrated our legislation A thing is never just a thing. It's a lot of things.
Words are a lot like that. The "N" word for example is just a word. An abstraction. But it's loaded with a complete history. It's best just to stay the hell away from it.
I also already said that I wouldn't support banning burkas for any reason. It simply doesn't address the issue that I'm trying to communicate. My original point was to highlight how simple, seemingly benign things can have terrible underpinnings. Immoral underpinnings, imo.
But like GA Anderson stated earlier, a particular moral impetus will eventually lead to an impasse in conversation.
Lastly, Idc if you like Sam Harris or not. I put a little more stock in what he says than the average joe with a jpg. I'm not even an Atheist. Until someone can disprove what he says (people have tried with little success) then he will continue to inform how I look at the moral landscape. We have little choice over how science is broadcasted to us unless we, ourselves, are embedded within the sciences. Harris is a pretty safe bet but I do disagree with him about a few things on occasion.
I also don't know the statistics on forced vs chosen burkas, but I suspect chosen may outway forced. My opinion is only based on 2 things: 1) an interview of a Muslim woman defending the burka; and 2) I once worked in a multicultural hospitality role, and I had to address husbands of certain cultures, as wives would not look me in the eye. Should a husband speak for his wife? The woman's liberation movement have made that seem unacceptable in our society, but I personally don't believe the world is a better place for it.
So, as I understand it, you believe burkas are an example of something accepted by some (based on moral relativism) as "harmless objects of expression", when in fact they are representative of a "flawed system of moral assumptions" and therefore (based on Harris' conception of objective morality) wrong.
The problem with this, if I have understood your view correctly, is that you are conflating two different issues. The first is a value judgement about freedom of expression. The second is a value judgement about the belief system underlying the practice of wearing a burka.
From a moral relativism perspective, wearing a burka could be neither right nor wrong, and both right and wrong, depending on the context. So it is entirely consistent to think that it's right for a woman to be able to freely express a moral conviction by wearing a burka if she chooses to, while at the same time thinking the belief system underlying that moral conviction is fundamentally flawed, or even morally wrong.
Moral relativism does not, as you seem to be suggesting, equate to the tolerance of all behaviour. That's an oversimplification. So although I understand your original point was to "highlight how simple, seemingly benign things can have terrible underpinnings...", the fact is there is nothing about moral relativism that would force someone to tolerate behaviour that is not conducive to whatever standard of behaviour being applied.
The only difference is that a moral relativist would acknowledge the fact that the standard being applied is arbitrary. That doesn't mean it's not useful or beneficial, but it's arbitrary nonetheless.
In that sense, the idea of "objective morality", is illusory. The standard used to create it is axiomatic. So sure, you can place human well-being at the core of morality, which creates a moral standard that can then be used to evaluate things. And you can call such evaluations "objective", but the choice to place human well-being at the core of morality in the first place is indeed a choice.
Moreover, that choice is subjective. It's directly related to the biological imperative to survive. Is it useful? If the survival of humans in a particular state of well-being is the goal, then yes it's useful. But it's not objective. Does that matter? In practical terms I don't think it does. But when people start suggesting the alignment of human well-being and morality is somehow part of an objective reality, then yes it does matter, to anyone who is interested in reality.
The reality, as far as we can tell, is that the survival and well-being of human beings is completely irrelevant to the universe. We can certainly create a standard of morality based on human well-being, which can provide a useful framework for human living. But we can also acknowledge the fact that this is a straightforward choice which is no more "right" or "wrong", as far as the universe goes, than creating a standard that places the destruction of humanity at the core of morality. We only deem one to be "better" than the other because of the selfish genes that drive us.
"Moral relativism does not, as you seem to be suggesting, equate to the tolerance of all behaviour"
This seems like a misrepresentation of my point. I would say that moral relativism gives people a license to create value systems that are simply less effective at what they claim to strive for. I believe some cultures understand more about objective moral facts and duties than others. Everyone seems to be given equal freedom to speculate but not everyone can get as close to the truth. This happens in science all the time.
I would also say that most moral differences between tribes are caused by inaccurate moral assumptions about the humanity of other tribes. These differences don't seem to qualify as evidence for moral relativism.
"The standard used to create it is axiomatic "
Everything you act out in the world is predicated on your implicit axioms.. The system of axioms that you hold as primary to everything you do in life is your "religious belief" system, whether you're an atheist or not. You have to believe something or else you wouldn't do anything. Seems like a moot point, maybe you can elaborate.
I'm having a hard time accepting that we can't set the conditions for morality by using well-being as a yardstick. It seems reasonable to me and it's worked for me, pragmatically and psychologically. So, Idk, Arguing about reality is like trying to grab water.
Lastly, I don't think the human drive to procreate, evolve and flourish is somehow outside the purview of the laws of the universe. Just the opposite. Let's not get off the wrong foot there because I am very much a Darwinist when it comes to this topic. I believe we evolved specific behavioral phenotypes to match (approximately) the natural stream of evolution. But we have to both accept that survival and well-being are synonymous when we're talking about the human species (from a psychological perspective) . Try not to misinterpret that as some kind of human exceptionalism because it's not. It's just a defining marker of our species.
My point is the structure that drives our evolution is part of the same set of natural laws found within our universe and that structure can be maintained through moral application. Take for example the concept of reciprocal altruism. This is a biologically driven proto-morality intended to maximize cooperation. If you maximize cooperation you maximize distribution of labor and resources and infrastructure and safety and community. All these things increase the likelihood that the selfish gene will propagate.
You're right, nature doesn't care if we live or die but we must play by her rules. If there are rules than there are only so many "correct" ways of interpreting the world around us.
I believe there are ultimately things right and wrong, but I do not believe that it is something which can be proved to be objectively so.
So if someone says that humans having food to eat and not starving is objectively good, then I'd wonder how one could prove that humans living at all is objectively good. I don't think such a thing can be proved. So all this right and wrong business winds up being subjective.
Again, I do believe there are ultimate right and wrong behaviors, but I do not believe anyone can prove such things to be, and the reason is we can't seem to prove that we have value. We have value to ourselves and to others, but that's just our human subjective opinions.
I've never investigated, but I suspect the burka is a religious corruption of a bible principle: woman being modest etc.
I'm not Islam-bashing: Judaism and Catholicism are at least as bad.
Yes, I believe there is a concept of "right". We won't achieve it, but the object of the game is to work towards it.
I notice a lot of references to "the Golden Rule". I don't know whether I could accurately summarise that most people believe morals are subjective to a specific society ,except this "Golden Rule" is pervasive??
My perspective, regarding the "Golden Rule" - treat others as you would have them treat you, is that, barring deviant minds, it is a precept that would be a universal foundation of morals that would be applicable across any society, culture, or historical time frame. Someone that abides by it would by the nature of that compliance have a moral base that is not dependent on external conditions.
I think that all the "other" perceived moral compass points - regardless of the culture that prescribes them, are very subjective. To both that culture, and the times. I don't think the "Golden Rule" is subjective in the same way.
It seems to me that this "Golden Rule" is a prebuilt law like gravity. Everything else is people having a go at making their own rules.
Think about it empirically. Test it in the world. There is a very distinct demonstration of cause and effect. It acts like a natural law.
It seems we might be thinking along the same lines Jessie. Here is a question, (or two), I posed to Saint Mick, that I think fits with your thought about it acting as a "natural law."
"But here is an interesting thought, (at least I think so); Doesn't it seem that it is life-successful, (vs. monetary successful), people that abide by it? Think of your circle of acquaintances ... would you say that it is the happier of that group that you would describe as abiding that law?"
Well, you can certainly debate whether or not the inclination to abide by the law comes naturally to people.
But it's so deeply embedded in our culture that we don't really notice it until its completely gone. It's a repeatable phenomenon. The catastrophe of something like WWII can happen again at any time. I would credit WWII with a vacuum of relativistic ideologies.
"God is dead and we have killed him. Where will we find enough water to wash away the blood?"
- Nietzsche (Roughly 40 years before the Nazi's invaded Poland)
You lost me on this one bud. I never implied that it comes naturally. To the contrary, I think it is something that must be purposely pursued. I think it is a mindset that must be cultivated, not accepted or denied.
Your WWII and "relativistic ideologies" thought escapes me. If your intent is as I first perceived it, then I will chalk it up to the Stolis and let it go. Otherwise I would be asking for some mustard to go with that baloney.
As for Nietzsche;
"The 'kingdom of Heaven' is a condition of the heart - not something that comes 'upon the earth' or 'after death.'"
I never said that you implied anything. I just had a distinction that I wanted to entertain before I did address your point.
When I said "Well, you can certainly debate whether or not..." that was a statement about the option to discuss that particular topic as well. "we can" talk about this if we need to.
You should know me by now. It takes a lot of effort for me to land on the ground with both feet. I'm a very nebulous thinker. It's my artistic element you might say. I'm much less haphazard when I write articles.
"Your WWII and "relativistic ideologies" thought escapes me. If your intent is as I first perceived it, then I will chalk it up to the Stolis and let it go. Otherwise I would be asking for some mustard to go with that baloney. "
If you have secular nations arbitrarily coming up with their own systems of value based on intelligence and superior genes rather than spiritual wisdom, I consider that to be a relativistic ideology (also as you have defined relativism). Elsewhere on this thread, I mentioned the fact that ideologies are just incomplete religions and come at a price if implemented with any extreme degree of success. We can't have just republicans in office forever. We need democrats to loosen things up a bit. Seems like a pretty straightforward concept. Funny you mention baloney, I had a craving for a baloney sandwich today.
I like the Nietzsche quote.
Jessie, I have enjoyed our conversations. But, if the basis of your thoughts are formed by religious impetus, then our views will surely be contrarian. I am not a religious person, and do not believe in the ideology of religious foundations.
To be fair, I will offer a further explanation. I believe that living a life of faith can be a wonderfully satisfying thing, (I truly wish I could do it), but for the majority of people, I believe their religious convictions only last as far as their interests are comported. Once reality conflicts with their religious principles, then it is to hell with religion, I want this. Unfortunately, for me, I firmly hold to the view of Sunday Christians' and 'Monday Carnivores'.
But, on the chance that, relatively speaking, your religious criteria were only meant to be topical, I would say that, of course, it is only natural that secular nations would come up with their own value systems. I would even say that the same applies for religious, (think Middle East), nations also.
As for your Republicans and Democrats thought. I have your back. I too think we need both. One to push us to improve, and one to push in the right direction for that improvement.
What we have today is the extremes. But it will pass. I don't remember the philosopher, or the story, exactly, but it goes something like this;
a king asked his court philosopher for a statement to emblazon on the arch to their city. A statement that would be true for all eternity.
The philosopher came back with; "And this too shall pass."
I have held that thought as a touchstone ever since I first read it - years ago. And my life has proven it to be a truism.
"Once reality conflicts with their religious principles, then it is to hell with religion"
I believe there are practical ways around this. I'm not sure if that counts as proof against the value of following religious morals (not saying you implied that). I feel like the concept of progress over perfection is just as clear in religious doctrines. Perhaps if you could give some specific examples we can work from there.
I don't think my religiosity should be too much of an obstacle in the future so I hope it doesn't discourage future feedback. I'm probably more agnostic than anything. I'm not a church goer or a preacher. When it comes to philosophy, ethics, and morals, Judeo-Christianity my preferred source. (among others like Greek Philosophy, Taoism, & Buddhism).
Hi Jessie, I will offer no specific religious examples, (although there are many), because I am speaking in terms of human behavior - religious or secular
My point was only that principles, dogma, or religion, offer a path, but it is our humanity that determines whether we follow that path, or wander on tangents suited to our individual circumstances. For instance; A Christian belief is that abortion is bad. Immoral. A secular belief is that abortion is a choice. Moral. And a battle is enjoined. But, do the drawn lines remain firm when the Christian's 12-year old daughter is raped and impregnated? (sorry for the ghastly example). Or the secularist husband wants the child that his wife does not?
My point isn't original. Others have made it, (including in this forum) - morality is a subjective judgement. I can see no justification to argue this point. So, if morals are subjective, then of course they are relative.
Ipso factso... we are back to your OP. And the answer is yes, Moral Relativism is a reality of human society.
And, As I am hopeful you noted, this has no tie to religion, other than it being just one more subjective perspective. As long as you don't proclaim the morals of your religious belief to be beyond challenge, that is. ;-)
Also, a sincere thank you for the kick in the ass on the other post. I needed that.
One thread at a time Jessie, one thread at a time.
As I tell my young great-nephews, I'm old as dirt, I might get confused bouncing back and forth. ;-)
Another interesting naturalistic observation:
Jane Goodall and other primatologist figured out that tyrannical and anti-social chimp leaders are highly unstable. Two or more other male chimps a fraction of their size would inevitably shred them to pieces. Chimps tend to select leaders of the troop who are more inclined to share resources, groom and care the young.
Ms. Goodall also discovered that chimps were instinctively territorial. Without provocation, or hesitation, they would shred interlopers to death. An observation she was, at first, hesitant to share. Does that comport with the inferences of your thought that chimps prefer caring leaders?
When it comes to "naturalistic observations" you have to be careful when considering humans as just another of the animal kingdom. We hear a lot about there being only 2% or 3% difference in our genomes, but that 2% or 3% difference is as stark as the difference between night and day.
Hello again SaintMick,
Wouldn't it be great if the Golden Rule were a "prebuilt law like gravity." Unfortunately it isn't. Unlike the Law of Gravity, the Golden Rule is like all human created laws - disobedience is still a choice.
But here is an interesting thought, (at least I think so); Doesn't it seem that it is life-successful, (vs. monetary successful), people that abide by it? Think of your circle of acquaintances ... would you say that it is the happier of that group that you would describe as abiding that law?
Yes, that's a good point of differentiation: no one gets to choose to obey gravity.
But that's where my thinking is heading: there is a successful way to live your life that transcends societies. There is a right way to live, and societies or individuals who are obedient will succeed, but we have a choice not to.
I hope you are not expecting me to disagree SaintMick, The choice of how we live our lives is a choice we all have the freedom to make. Expand your thinking to embrace the consideration that our view of "right" isn't universal.
Even though I agree with your thought, I must point out that that our agreement is contingent on our similar views. Different societies would feel equally justified in their views. And here we are - back to the burka. We say it's horrible, they say it's righteous.
I'm not totally against the burka. I reckon the truth of how a lady should dress is somewhere between bikinis and burkas, and these two societies have gone in opposite directions away from that ideal.
You opened the door SaintMick - what is the ideal?
ps. In the vein of a light-hearted response, I will give you an "out"; I believe that something should be left to the imagination - but ... that's just me.
Sorry, I didn't see this reply.
Are we talking about appropriate dress, or more generally?
Regarding dress, I have seen organisations document expectations, but that results in lines being crossed and new laws added.
I believe "the golden rule" alludes to principles such as modesty and humility: don't dress such that would make someone else feel out of place, or give yourself some kind of advantage over them, or tempt anyone into behaviour that might have detrimental consequences etc.
I think that if we have principles rather than rules, and if people would shun what is inappropriate and encourage what is acceptable, this would lead us to a higher standard. But at the moment, it seems people are attracted to the outrageous and encourage what is inappropriate, putting us on a downward spiral.
If your question was more general, I believe the ideal is "out there". We can only work towards it. I was just reading my grandmother's childhood autograph book, and noticed an entry that she repeated in mine some decades later "...it's not whether you won or lost but how you played the game". I don't think that is being passed down anymore.
I wouldn't support banning burkas in the U.S. but this article brings up some major sore points about it...
https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/98263/ … greenfield
If the burka thing came out of the Bible, every secularist or atheist would be up in arms about it. Why all the leeway for Islam? Is everyone afraid to be labeled Islamophobic? It's wrong, and you don't have to be a Christian to understand how wrong it is. Just because a woman being struck in the face in some other part of the world might be okay with it in some twisted way doesn't make it okay.
Catch any white male in the U.S. enforcing these kinds of rules on women there would be hell to pay. That isn't relativism, that's common sense. That's a violation of the Golden Rule. Time to wake up and smell the coffee.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj9oB4zpHww - Moral Landscape with Sam Harris
"So perhaps there's someplace on the spectrum between these two extremes that represents a better balance..."
Jessie, think about your linked article, and your own comments. Aren't both based on our "Western" values? Aren't you judging the morality of other cultures by your own morality?
Even though I agree with you - about burkas, what support do we have that our view is the correct "moral" view?
Are you still looking for an answer to your OP?
Okay. I concede to the fact that some morals originate relative to their place in the world but I still believe some are objectively more valid than others.
If you look at that picture in the post above yours, whatever is in the center of that might be considered a good starting point for universal morality. That idea is coming from my own criticism of female representation in the west as well.
Pain and suffering and destruction of human life can be measured. Like Harris points out, science can get us pretty close if we decided to instrumentally go about measuring it. You can never remove observer bias from data gathering but you can get pretty damn close. Close enough to be confident that bruising a woman's face and throwing a veil over it should be considered incorrect.
Sanity has to play a role here too. Let's say for a moment that a typically non- violent individual subjectively decides that they are "right" to poison their neighbor's dog (maybe they had a bad day or someone convinced them to). In this case, you can't fault the value system [itself] of that individual. The obvious mental disruption has to be taken into consideration but more importantly: the consequences. Someone could make the argument that looking at the specific consequences contradicts the application of universal human values but I simply reverse the order by looking at the reduction of suffering a consequence of applying universal morals.....*gasps* ....According to moral relativism, only the individual had the answer to whether poisoning the dog was correct or not. Scale that out to entire cultures and religions.
I've said it before, a group of people is only as pathological as its members. That's where we see deviations like Waco, TX or ISIS. But there are some cases like mass oppression of females (I don't know why I keep beating up on Islam, there's plenty of horrific activity in every religious group) that could be shifted into the broader category of cruel and psychopathic behavior...by fairly objective medical and psychiatric standards. So if there is a spectrum, it can be found by planting a stake in the ground at this pole.
I am also skeptical about the fact that everyone is all that different in what they believe if we look at the basics, i.e.. good health, friends, family, wealth, education, employment, entertainment, love, less pain (not, oh my god, my culture says this doesn't hurt but it actually hurts) etc. We all want these things and strive for their improvement. But what if you have a group that doesn't like entertainment? You might not think it would affect survivability much but everyone would be bummed out and when people get bummed out they get sick and don't live as long. Let's try another one...How bout a group that just totally discards education? Well, that's just catastrophic on so many levels. I saw this first hand in Afghanistan. I interacted with many locals. Happy and healthy is not how they spoke about their life. So, it might be easier to look what there is to be shared in common. I often find that my "personally derived set of universal morals/values" are in place to support all these areas of........wait for it......HUMAN FLOURISHING!
I'm probably not going to be clear or concise hear but...it seems the 'bottle neck' that restricts a universal understanding and(at the same time)apprehension of an absolute morality is perception.
I often wonder how and why we have developed a brain,which easily qualifies as the most complex system man has ever tried to understand,is equipped with such woefully inadequate senses (which I would argue includes the intellect) to perceive existence...and that inadequacy precludes any effort to establish an absolute position on physical,intellectual,or philosophical observations.
Our very existence is,always has been,and always will be a mystery beyond our comprehension.
There is a writer here called Oldfirm who answered the question 'What is truth?' thuslie; "Truth is whatever satisfies the soul"...What a wonderful reply...from a wonderful person.I suspect his words apply to all questions of morality,ethics,and human emotion...it would appear that the purpose of life is not to seek understanding,but to remain in the mystery...and wonder...
66 experience pact years in this life have taught me the answer to all the truly important questions is...I don't know...
I agree to some extent. Although we live in a world of action. We are fully embodied in the world. And while we don't really know if there is any teleological reason for being here, we know that we have the ability to transcend the prerequisite of life which is suffering. We can sculpt and mold our destinies so that our children don't have to go through the things we have. It's our existential responsibility to do the best we can with what we do know.
Isn't it wrong and perhaps a flawed logic to base morals on societal or cultural norms or some book written +2000 years ago? Not that I am saying, that everything is wrong or evil but nitpicking the good is almost the same as rejecting the resultant prejudice or bias!
I don't think it's flawed logic. It's epistemological.
"All knowledge is always in a state of development and consists in proceeding from one state to a more complete and efficient one" - Jean Piaget
All these moral concepts people think about, they didn't just come up with them themselves. We are the unconscious exponents of dead philosophers.
If you discard the bible you would also have to discard Plato, Socrates, Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Lao Tzu, etc...
I agree to most of what you've said except the last bit. While I can conviniently discard the book, I cannot think likewise for somebody's life-long work especially something that dates back to those times. Ofcourse not taking everything for fact.
I don't begrudge people for taking that point of view. Much of these ancient texts seem a bit superstitious and just plain outright stupid in some chapters. I had to take a real hard life beating before I could really start to read between the lines. I began my journey in 12-step programs which are designed to facilitate spiritual transformations. If none of the conventional spiritual or religious teachings had any merit, I would be dead or in prison today.
Sometimes its also a matter of acting "as if" you believe in something. You don't have to accept something intellectually but you might be able to act it out with success. The value of human life, the sovereignty of the individual, is as old as the bible and we treat each other a certain way because we believe that. Or at least we act like we believe that. Many of our laws in the west are predicated on that idea.
Some have also argued that the persecution of Socrates indirectly inspired the crucifixion story in the bible.
Even when it comes to spirituality it's not a fully understood concept or an idea that was propogated in it's essence. It's root are here in the East but even the natives confuse it with religion or assume they're intertwined. It's was always meant to be independent of it, even if it began on convergent lines. Anyways that's deviation from the topic. When I see things around me, I just can't convince myself not to blame the flawed morality borne by religion and its torch bearers.
Yeah. Someone mentioned something earlier on this thread about aiming for the impossible to get the best possible outcomes. If we strive for an ideal, people will be willing to kill, rape or steal for an ideal. Taking shortcuts. But the moment someone trespasses in this way, they are no longer representing the moral structure they claim to uphold. But we can buffer human fallibility by continually reorienting ourselves in a better direction as time unfolds. That's the idea behind Christ dying for our sins. It's okay to be a flawed person but we always have the power to do better. That's what updates the system.
Political ideologies are the same. In fact, political ideologies are just fragmented religions with all the demented stuff that comes along with them.
Another deviation: Some of the oldest notions of human value and corrective behavior gave rise to many modern values that we still have today.
Example in video below
I would also like to mention that if we look at any story that you admire whether its a book or a movie, we are deeply engaged in the story because it's always a story of personal development. The actions taken by the hero are usually clumsy and foolish at first then they begin to transcend these flaws. So, despite there having been moments where some actions were ill-advised, we still tend to regard the overall story as being valuable in some way.
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I think its also important to make the logical assertion that if moral and cultural propositions possess equal and veritable value then this is a fallacy on the basis of violating the law of non-contradiction. Two opposing truths cannot exist in the same space.
Specifically, the Golden Rule is a universal moral. It is not relative. Common sense, however, IS relative.
by Brian Leekley 11 years ago
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