In one of my classes my professor has set up a survivor like game. Basically, it is a series of competitions between two teams where the losing team has to vote someone off. But the game itself isn’t the point. The class is about religion and morality, and the point is to see what people are willing to do to win. In survivor, the one who wins is often the one who is willing to stab people in the back the most, but only if they don’t get caught. My professor wants to show us how the lines we draw around morality get moved and fudged as we find such behaviour beneficial. So, are there any solid lines where morality is concerned? Or can all of the lines we draw be fudged? And, if so, what does that say about morality? What does it say about us as moral agents?
February 8, 2016
Does Morality Come With Any Solid Lines?
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August 4th, 2016 at 5:42 pm
[…] Source: Does Morality Come With Any Solid Lines? […]
July 28th, 2016 at 2:55 pm
Unfortunately, we see this in the world all too often; take corporations — they are run by people
July 29th, 2016 at 7:05 am
Morality is now a field of scientific study, as it should be given advances in the tools of science we can apply from multiple disciplines. Just google “morality research” sometime. And all if science, in my view, is applied philosophy. Here are a few examples of what’s out there:
Culture is humankind’s biological strategy, according to Roy F. Baumeister, and so human nature was shaped by an evolutionary process that selected in favor of traits conducive to this new, advanced kind of social life (culture). To him, therefore, studies of brain processes will augment rather than replace other approaches to studying human behavior, and he fears that the widespread neglect of the interpersonal dimension will compromise our understanding of human nature. Morality is ultimately a system of rules that enables groups of people to live together in reasonable harmony. Among other things, culture seeks to replace aggression with morals and laws as the primary means to solve the conflicts that inevitably arise in social life. Baumeister’s work has explored such morally relevant topics as evil, self-control, choice, and free will. [More]
According to Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, humans are born with a hard-wired morality. A deep sense of good and evil is bred in the bone. His research shows that babies and toddlers can judge the goodness and badness of others’ actions; they want to reward the good and punish the bad; they act to help those in distress; they feel guilt, shame, pride, and righteous anger. [More]
Harvard cognitive neuroscientist and philosopher Joshua D. Greene sees our biggest social problems — war, terrorism, the destruction of the environment, etc. — arising from our unwitting tendency to apply paleolithic moral thinking (also known as “common sense”) to the complex problems of modern life. Our brains trick us into thinking that we have Moral Truth on our side when in fact we don’t, and blind us to important truths that our brains were not designed to appreciate. [More]
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July 29th, 2016 at 7:15 am
Like it or not, morality appears to be a shared sense. And I mean “sense” in the same way we have taste, touch, hearing, smell and vision. Morality is our ability to perceive social situations.
February 9th, 2016 at 8:01 pm
As someone who is somewhat of an environmental determinist I would have to say there is no absolute morality, at least one that is obviously self-evident. I think for example science can tell us a lot about morality through sampling morals cross-culturally and looking at how morals have evolved throughout time. However what we’ll find very often is that one groups moral code might apply to themselves but not necessarily in how they treat other groups for which they know very little about. Ultimately I feel like our environment plays such a vital role in determining morals, that it is of little value to only consider morals on an individual level, or even as a group without considering the nature of the environment that people are in. There are all sort of behavioral experiments that show how quickly behavior changes in accordance to the environment they are in. The famous experiment where they asked people to prisoners and guards comes to mind. I remember one episode of Battlestar Galactica (the reimagined series) where they come to the decision to outlaw abortion because there are so few left in the human race that they feel it is necessary to have more babies for the survival of the species. What happens when a society starts to feel stresses in resources. We find that all sorts of new rules come into play that were never enforced before. Even within ourselves we can often find ourselves in numerous moral conflicts. Let’s say your parents are made so happy by your success on exams. Maybe they have a hard life and are trying so hard to give you a more successful one. But they also tell you that cheating is wrong. Now a test comes along and lets say you just never had a chance to study for whatever reason. Now you see the person next to you has their exam sort of exposed and you are now faced with the choice of cheating so that your parents, who you love very much and no how hard they work for you, can be made happy. Or you can do the right thing and not cheat, thus making your parents sad that you did poorly on an exam. Perhaps this isn’t that big of a dilemma, but a particular situation can make us face dilemmas that we previously did not have to face.
If we look at our behavior from an evolutionary perspective there are some basics that we seem to value. Reciprocal altruism, which is sort of like the golden rule, but a better way to look at it is…I do something nice for you and you might do something nice for me one day. It doesn’t necessarily explicitly say there should be a return of favor, but that this is a likely outcome of being nice. As a species who does better when we cooperate, any action that serves to make us more cooperative is thus beneficial. But one of those things that could get everybody to work together is killing that other group of people who they fear may end up draining all their resources and causing all to suffer. Even though, it might be quite likely that if everybody did work together they could figure out a better way to survive. Most cultures also seem to have some pretty clear morals about causing harm to children, but clearly this has progressed and still has awhile to go, when we see how any type of corporal punishment might be detrimental. But again even the protection of children can fall away when it comes to wiping out another group of people.
I think at best we can say what morality is, and that is a set of actions that causes the least amount of harm and this is something that we can strive towards. I do believe there is an objective set of morals that could fit all of humanity, but it’s not something we can just come up with and then say…here everybody behave this way. I believe morality has progressed over time and many things that were morally acceptable in the past are no longer so today, and that gives me hope that even if there aren’t absolute morals, there is a better place that we as a species can reach morally.
February 9th, 2016 at 1:53 pm
1. …are there any solid lines where morality is concerned?
No. as an example, some people can do anything to anybody, even themselves, to get what they want. Other people may not act if that act will be bad for others.
2 .Or can all of the lines we draw be fudged?
Convince yourself of the rightness of an action, and you can ignore previous beliefs.
3. And, if so, what does that say about morality?
Morality is shared among like-minded members of a group or temperament. There are no constants when every person or group is being considered.
4. What does it say about us as moral agents?
We have kindreds and enemies, and probably everything in between.
February 9th, 2016 at 10:37 am
The question is more about who we are and how we function, than about morality. I grew up thinking of right and wrong as ‘out there,’ independent of me, but in fact, right and wrong are boundaries we humans draw so that we can live together. Yes, they are fluid, which is kind of a shock. Without solid rights and wrongs, anything goes? Yikes. Yet look at how inconsistent we are. Maybe better to see moral lines as moveable, and then find ways to shore up the rules so that more of us follow them (like enforcing the Geneva Convention treaty), than to pretend morality is something that some of us have, and others don’t. Great question.
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February 9th, 2016 at 9:37 am
Unfortunately, it has to be said that our biological heritage is at best problematic, but fortunately reason comes in to (hopefully) save the day. It is true that we seem to have an inherited empathic drive that does seem to lead to altruistic/moral behavior, which we do seem to share with some of our social animal cousins. Unfortunately this empathic nature seems to only apply to our in-group, perhaps tribes or families in our early development. We also seem to have a drive to act against out-group members (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/10-000-year-old-massacre-does-not-bolster-claim-that-war-is-innate/)
I would agree with Jeremy Rifkin that much of modern moral development has actually consisted of defining more and more of the “other” as being “in-group” and using “in-group” rules towards a wider swath of not only people, but our cousin animals and the planet as a whole.
February 9th, 2016 at 9:28 am
‘My professor wants to show us how the lines we draw around morality get moved and fudged as we find such behaviour beneficial.’
That’s an interesting statement in all sorts of ways. For example, does my morality change just because I choose to do something to benefit myself or the group? Perhaps I have chosen to do it even though I believe it to be wrong? Perhaps I am part of a group that has decided to systematically destroy 6m Jews? Perhaps the leaders of that group can justify their actions and perhaps other members of the group choose not to say anything, but does that make their actions morally right? How do I make that judgement? Does it make a difference if the people I am killing are or are not part of my group?
In retrospect, the vast majority of people in the West have judged the actions of the Nazis against the Jews to be have been wrong. So do we agree on this simply because we know it to be the majority view? Do we agree on it because that’s what we were taught in school? Do we agree on it because we are the children or grandchildren of people who grew up in an environment in which the Nazis were understood to be the enemy? Do we agree on it because most of us subscribe to a moral/legal code that was originally based on the 10 commandments? Do we agree on it because we naturally care about vulnerable people – i.e. it’s an inbuilt empathy thing? Do we agree on it because, at some deep, instinctive level, we know that our survival depends on our not killing each other indiscriminately? Do we agree on it because we have evolved to the point where population growth makes it no longer practical to exclude and dehumanise those who are not part of our group?
I would suggest that all those things – and more – probably have a bearing on what we, as individuals and as a society, consider to be right or wrong. And, as individuals, each of us will place more or less importance on, for example, adherence to some kind of legal or moral code as compared with, for example, feelings of empathy or compassion.
On a practical level, I would say that the existence or non-existence of an absolute morality is pretty irrelevant. Whilst it may exist, it’s perfectly clear to me that we don’t all agree on what it looks like. The dilemma that EqC refers to above is a case in point. I am of the opinion that murder is always wrong, regardless of whether the person being killed is about to do something horrible or not. EqC thinks otherwise.
Similarly, many folks in the US will argue that they have a right to own a gun – and to use it. For me, as a Brit, as a Christian and as someone who is naturally tender-hearted, their arguments make no sense at all. The Second Amendment means nothing to me (why would it?) and I don’t know anyone personally who has ever felt it necessary to own a gun. So, growing up, this was a complete non-issue for me in a way that I suspect few Americans would understand. Further, as an adult, I came to understand that Jesus took the much more difficult road of showing love to all, even though it cost him his life, and my desire would be to live similarly. To me, that’s what feels right. (And I use the word ‘feel’ in the sense of a deep internal value that has been with me for so long that I have to think in order to come up with the arguments to justify it). Finally, on a practical level, I also know that living in England is a good deal safer than living in the US, which adds weight to my belief that guns rarely solve anything anyway. In other words, I see nothing in either US society, the current situation in the Middle East or the refugee crisis that has led me to rethink my values, change my mind and believe that owning and using a gun is A Good Thing.
All of which is to say that, even if, under pressure, I did resort to killing someone and even if others justified it on my behalf, I know that I still wouldn’t believe that I had done the right thing. But I know plenty of people who might disagree with me on that – even those who share my faith, my nationality and are part of the same family. So there is a personal dimension to morality that is about more than group, religion or nationality – a dimension that, in my view, is unique to our personality, experience and the workings of the Holy Spirit within us.
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February 9th, 2016 at 3:20 pm
Have you ever heard of the Milgram experiment? It’s worth looking into if you want to know more about good people believing that an immortal act is actually okay.
February 10th, 2016 at 5:18 pm
As I understand it, the Milgram experiment showed that a significant proportion of people would obey authority even when their consciences dictated otherwise and that doing so caused them considerable psychological stress. I wouldn’t say that indicated that most of them thought what they were being asked to do was ‘okay’. I guess you could say that, in the people concerned, the desire to obey was marginally stronger than the desire to show compassion, but participation in the experiment didn’t result in them suddenly believing that not showing compassion was ‘okay’. Far from it.
So did their morality really change? I wouldn’t say so. As like as not, they believed that obedience to authority was ‘good’ before they partcipated in the experiment. They also continued to believe that having compassion was good – just not quite as good as obeying authority. Presumably, for those who refused to complete the experiment, it was the other way around. Compassion trumped obedience to authority. All of which provides support for what I said above: ‘As individuals, each of us will place more or less importance on, for example, adherence to some kind of legal or moral code as compared with, for example, feelings of empathy or compassion.’ We each have a ‘batting order’ for what matters most to us when it comes to morality and our actions – the things we are prepared to do or not do – often follow from that.
February 10th, 2016 at 8:13 pm
The point was to show how the Nazis could be convinced to commit atrocities. It turns out those who are traditionally considered “good” are more likely to commit the atrocities than those who are seen as contrarians. While, yes, stress was caused, the people did believe their actions were okay because they were following an authority. Their internal morality didn’t do a three-sixty, but they did fudge the lines.
February 11th, 2016 at 4:19 am
‘It turns out those who are traditionally considered “good” are more likely to commit the atrocities than those who are seen as contrarians.’
Exactly 🙂 In other words, those who are more likely to obey an authority – which, traditionally, is regarded as ‘good’. Like I said, their morality didn’t change. They simply rated ‘obedience’ higher than ‘compassion’. And that was my point, really. Morality isn’t just about compassion. It has other dimensions, too. So I don’t think the participants in the experiment were fudging lines so much as choosing to do what, in a very difficult situation, their morality regarded as the lesser of two evils. Hence the psychological stress. If they were simply fudging lines, they wouldn’t have felt that stress.
As for the experiment being intended to parallel the situation with the Nazis, a number of people have pointed out that there were weaknesses in this area. For example, if they asked, the participants were told that no long term harm would come to those they were ‘punishing’. That wasn’t always the case with the Nazis and the Jews. There were plenty of them who knew exactly what they were doing, but still didn’t question it. It was all about the Jews not really being considered human – which demonstrates a somewhat questionable morality from the start, in my opinion: Self/group first and to hell with everyone else. We see the same right now with IS. And we see it again with those who are currently closing their doors to refugees, people who are gay etc. (although they may be less obviously violent about it). Basically, human beings are a good deal less kind than we often like to think.
February 9th, 2016 at 5:09 pm
As an American, Christian and tender-hearted, I understand guns completely. They are a tool; often misused. But there have been many cases where they have saved people from violence.
There are those who claim that guns “cause violence” or “gun violence is the worst violence”. Bullfeathers. All (undeserved) violence is horrible, and even if you could get rid of all guns (not practical), there would still be violence (if Australia is any indication, more). Because some people enjoy violence or utilize it for their own benefit.
It appears that you are a Brit of the mindset that since the UK is “without guns” it is “safer” than the gun-ridden U.S. All I can say is you are either extraordinarily lucky or completely sheltered from what is going on in your country. Or both. I regularly correspond with a fellow in the UK, and just a few days ago his wife was nearly assaulted and robbed; only their dog drove off the attacking pair.
Must be one of those “assault dogs”…
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February 10th, 2016 at 4:44 pm
I didn’t say England was completely safe. I just said that it is safer than the US. This is based on statistical evidence. People in the US often argue that the opposite is true, however they don’t take into account that violent crime is defined differently in the UK. Things that count as assault here, don’t in the US. If one compares like with like, the rates of both aggravated assault and murder (i.e. crimes that result in serious injury or death) are much higher in the US.
February 9th, 2016 at 5:08 am
What do you make of the the clearly observable moral conduct observed in other advanced species of primates that have no religious affiliation? How much is our own sense of right or wrong conduct derived from our genetics, and what implications does that have for religions? And if a sense of morality has a genetic basis, as scientific research suggests, what other human behaviors might have a strong genetic influence?
February 9th, 2016 at 2:10 pm
As a non-scientist I have no meaningful influence in the research of genetics.
I think *personal* morality is easier understood as feeling good when one is doing *right* and feeling bad when one is doing *wrong*. This might explain a bit why primates can be seen to act morally. Probably a personality thing.
February 9th, 2016 at 4:39 pm
A thing isn’t personal just because we personally feel it. A sense of right or wrong conduct is accessible to everyone just as are our other emotions.
February 10th, 2016 at 6:05 am
I get your point. You specifically mentioned religion, though, and I didn’t want to open that can of worms so I opted for individual experiences.
February 9th, 2016 at 2:55 pm
I find it fascinating. But I don’t know what, if anything, it has to say about religion. What do you think?
February 9th, 2016 at 3:06 pm
I believe the foundation of all the religions begin with meditations on our inherent morality. It is the universal commonality between them all. Call it self-knowledge, human insight or divine inspiration.
February 9th, 2016 at 3:47 pm
Okay. How would you define religion?
February 10th, 2016 at 9:01 am
PS: Sorry for the typos and grammatical errors. I was in a hurry.
February 9th, 2016 at 12:50 am
It’s a little weird for a prof. to introduce the concept of moral relativity without a deeper exploration of the alternatives. But then again I went to school in the 80s. Moral relativism, as described here, is the logic of a junkie. Your need for your money is irrelevent, because that is not the junkie’s objective. You are just a tool to aquire money and junk. As MLK, Jr. said, It is a question of subject and object, or me and you vs. me and this object called “you,” but why do I care about you?
A cross cultural survey will show you that certain taboos and crimes do reoccur across cultures – no murder, no stealing, If you take away the “declare me god” commandments of the 10 commandments, what you get is pretty universal code (no murder, no stealing, no coveting of your neighbor’s wife.) Do unto others as they would do unto you comes from Jesus in the Bible AND Confucious in China long before. All of that argues that humans seek rules of order on an evolutionary level.
However, I have observed that many young people who grew up with helicopter parents and social media have a hard time with empathy. I grew up on ocmic books, and we learned that you always try to do the right thing (like the hero). Civilization is built on everyone enforcing the social contract with each other, or we are sunk as a people. that is when the moral relativism (or anarchy) comes into play. Dog eat dog, law of the Jungle.
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February 9th, 2016 at 3:16 am
The game is separate from the actual lectures. We have two lectures a week and the game is played every Friday, so we do discuss moral relativism and objective morality. Though it’s not an introductory class, so we’re expected to have all of the basics down.
Do you think there are any exceptions to these reoccurring taboos/crimes? For example, do you think murder is defined the same in all cultures, or is murder different depending on where you were raised?
February 10th, 2016 at 12:23 am
Your last questions are excellent. The answer is – field work. I would start buy getting super general info on penal codes in various Nations. Murder is good as a control, because there is not that much variance. However, rape? There is your variance. I would suggest that you need to check minority rights. I like to say people are not antigay, but like to use anti gay laws to keep those damn f*gg*ts in line. Majority vs. Minority has a Power dynamic that gets you racism, sexism, etc. Homogenous society vs. Heterogenus society (Japan/Sweden vs. USA). On a simple, theoretical level, you want to start with the homogenous sample before expanding out to mixed societies. Many societies, even Japan, are getting diverse, so no easy divisions sometimes.
Put me down as the standard Judeo Christian Objective Morality guy. My insight on subject vs. object comes a lot from Buddhism and my work as a writer of characters.
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February 9th, 2016 at 8:58 am
“Moral Relativism” doesn’t actually relate to individuals in individual situations. Moral Relativism is actually defined at the societal level and basically says that if a society deems a certain course of action “moral” then we have no absolute standard by which to say they are “wrong.” For example, in biblical Jewish culture (according to the bible, at least) stoning a woman not being a virgin was included in their “moral” code.
Moral Relativism basically says we should not judge those actions to be “wrong,” that is just the way it was back then.
In practice moral relativism is generally used as a viewpoint for doing anthropological research, not as a method for ethical reasoning. A cross cultural researcher might describe some practice (let’s say female circumcision) and it would be difficult for that researcher to describe the people doing that as “wrong” if they are following the dictates of their society.
Moral relativism is not often called upon outside those narrow descriptive circumstances as we certainly don’t want to say, for example that whatever ISIS does is “right” because of what they feel is allowable in their culture.
Moral relativism is certainly not nihilism or anarchy. Situational moral reasoning (when is the use of deadly force justified? Is it OK to steal if your family is starving?) is also not anarchy either. These are serious questions which philosophers have wrestled with for centuries.
February 10th, 2016 at 12:16 am
Your argument – Society forces us to make choices, but not individuals. People make choices, but really, that was society talking, right? Do you see your own locial fallacy? I don’t ask that to be insulting. iT was how I was trained as an academic.
SO, Individuals do not count, because they do not make choices, society does. Right? If you can’t resolve that Subject vs. Object Extreme Dissonance/, then this whole discussion falls apart. You are essentially positing society as the Subject, and the rest of us as unwitting Objects.
Don’t worry, I don’t blame you. Social Media is fond of this “Gruop Think” stuff, you feel like you have to follow social media, so they wrote your comment for you, right? Not your fault, no worries. SOcial Media made you thnk that way.
It is illogical to say a way of describing behavior on the mass scale is entirely useless for describing individuals in that society. For example, if we posit that society makes us behave in a certain way, then we need to produce sample individuals that act in that way to prove out point. What you essentially said was that morality is not decided by the individual, and if individuals don’t act that way, its irrelevent because they are not mass society, and by the way none of us has free will at all. “We all act in a certain way because of society, .but don’t ask me what that way is, or prove their are people that choose to act that way because of society.” Its all philosophy without any field work.
Actually, what I see here is a dogmatic, academic position held by a certain subset of academics who have jobs to think about. Moral Relativity is put forward as the defining methodology, (defining WHAT?) even though many other subsets of academica do NOT and NEVER HAVE subscribed to this construction of it. Free Will is not an unknown concept, and many philosophers have noted that the social contract survives due to the decisions made by moral men. In fact, your argument has been used by many philosophers (exp – Thomas Hobbes) to argue for authoritarism – people break the rules so the King must punish them to retain order (bad children!!). The lines of thought that I am tossing at you have been the meat and potatoes of human philosophy for centuries, and are still current. You can’t just jetison the effect of Free Will and claim to be a part of normal academic discourse.
I think what’s happening is that youa re a little too entranced by the Big Concept. Please come down to earth with me, and o field research to PROVE IT.
Actully, your argument has all the feel of a social media construct. We are just one big giant amoeba, all of us doing things because its viral, and we are like robots, marching in tune to our collective mandates, FREE OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, YIPEEE!!!. We do not question this (unless its you), we do not need free will (unless its you) and we can understand this thing controlling us (unless its you). Social Media has an extreme bias against individual responsilbity, but towards giant “one size fits all” theories, deemphasis of individual action and agency, emphasis of trend following and Crowd Thinking in the Cloud. .
I am willing to entertian your idea of moral relativity, but you did not answer my cross cultural argument. American Theories have trouble when tested overseas. If you can’t make your “data” work overseas, then it fails as a theory,
I am actually quite shocked that a prof. is peddling this theory without a look at alternative theories which are quite common. Otherwise all you are doing is growing ideology and producing hacks. But hey, like I said, I went to school in the 80s. I was very lucky. But I did not choose it. Social Media made me do it. It went viral, man, and nobody thinks.
February 10th, 2016 at 8:47 am
Wow, that is way out there, man.
March 2nd, 2016 at 2:35 am
I have a graduate degree from the University of California in history and political science. As an undergraduate, we had to read one book and write five pages for each class. We had to present out papers in seminar. I speak, read and write two languages, and lived in Japan for 14 years. I type 60 wpm. I guess I have you at a disadvantage. I was educated for less than 1/3 what debtors pay today, and I guess I got a pretty good education.
google – “doctrine of free will.” its really well known.
In my world, you can’t claim anything without footnotes, and comparing the main theory with alternate theories is science. Anything else is Pop Sociiology. How societies decide right and wrong is a really complex macrosystem with many inputs and moving parts. Sorry, you have to do the reading.
March 3rd, 2016 at 8:12 am
I bow to your obvious superiority, how could any human compete with that?
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March 3rd, 2016 at 10:54 am
Someone who went to a college which required reading more than one book and much more than 5 pages written for each class
March 4th, 2016 at 11:33 am
Honestly I was blissfully ignorant of this series of comments, but yes. Listing your academic achievements, and several of your skills, not not make for a great argument.
Looking over some of it I see a clear case, of both parties having points, talking past each other and falling into a very common trap. Relativism (including moral relativism in this particular case) refers to a great deal of different ideas though out the years, so The Most Irreverend Paine is not wrong except in the Moral relativism comes in several flavors.
February 9th, 2016 at 12:41 am
I believe at the fundamental level of all people, a certain set of moral rules are inherent. Even when the lines seem grey, deep inside we all know what is right or wrong according to this inherent moral compass, that usually starts with the Golden Rule.
Where things get sketchy is when we make morality become a part of our survival. In some cultures, there is a code of honor you just don’t cross, even during war time. But these codes are being erased due to social conditioning, consumerism, and corporate take over. We are being pressed against the needs to survive and the needs to be moral. They can’t always exist in this culture together. For instance, many have heard stories where a family is starving to death and so one of them steals some bread, is it wrong? Is it wrong to steal to survive if all people have basic human rights? Is it moral for one group of people (like a corporation) to create rules that keep other groups from getting a fair share of resources?
In a culture that is socially intelligent, such as indigenous tribes, these kinds of moral dilemmas exist less so because they practice certain behaviors that uphold their moral values, such as moderation over greed, happiness over perfection, community over individuality. Although not all socially intelligent groups have always been successful in achieving peace and sustainable practices, they have been more so then the most recent generations of our world. In the past 400 years things like starvation, species loss, and pollution have increased exponentially. Many other atrocities are taking place as well.
I think an important aspect to consider when evaluating morals and their worth is figuring out their purpose, intent, and goal. Many people have perfectly “decent” morals they use to rationalize away their decisions, but in the end it is just to exploit and profit from other groups. While we can get away with that for a little while, we can see how that is working out for our world right now where that is the “status quo.”
But some of these indigenous groups I referred, it is said that they lived in relative peace for thousands of years.
There are very certain core morals that are shared among every human and can’t be fudged. Such as murder, rape, access to food, shelter, medical, water, freedom, etc. But these also have to apply to the animals and the planet because they are what make up the ecosystem we live from.
If these values are adhered to, the blurring and fudging becomes a non-issue in healthy societies because everyone’s needs are being met for the most part. Many people think socialism and communism at this point, but if you look into indigenous tribes and how their social structures worked, it makes more sense. If you’re interested I would highly recommend looking into First Peoples of the World type literature, indigenous tribes or pedagogy, Native American cultures and see how their beliefs and politics intertwined in ways that are healthy for all the people.
February 9th, 2016 at 3:11 am
Do you think this inherent morality comes from within us, or is there an external cause?
February 10th, 2016 at 7:17 pm
My personal belief is that it comes from within us mostly, but is external too. We all have access to our personal power. Christians call it a relationship with Jesus. Other religions say God. Others say Universe. Some say Karma, others intuition, even science in its own way, and so on. We all have this different language for what “it” is, but recognize that we communicate with it from inside. I have seen people who have come from bad situations and still grow up moral and compassionate, and I have seen people who haven’t. While I can’t figure out why one will choose it and another will not, it is my feeling that we’re all being given the option all the time. But its a free will Universe, so its up to each of us to make the choice to have that connection and then follow that lead.
I also think it is external though too. We feel it inside, and then it can be confirmed or denied externally. For instance, you might be contemplating something and come to a conclusion, and then the next day you hear that someone else has come to that conclusion too. It might be a validation that you’re on the right path. I think this is how all humans, deep in their heart, know what is wrong or right, if they’ll just go there. But its not always that easy because many are dealing with trauma and fear and developing a relationship takes a lot of work. It takes a dedication to develop a relationship with that inner knowing, however you see it, and learn what it is trying to tell you, which in some ways seems to be the point of all religions and belief systems and the whole subject of morals/ethics. To me it is a working wisdom that evolves, like The Most Irreverend Paine said, only if we’re tuned in internally, the rules are not always straight, depending on what point of view/intelligence you’re working from – Intellect? Empathy? Social intelligence? All three?
Going back to a person stealing bread, it is not always right to just say “stealing is wrong.” Especially if there are other morals involved, such as greedy corporations for example. Stealing would be wrong if someone had years of food stored up and stole from a person who has nothing because they are blocking and denying that person a right to live – and does a person or group have that right? Whereas a person stealing to survive (genuinely speaking) is fighting for the right to live. Intentions and agenda are huge here with ethics and morals.
Wisdom would say that rules of logic like “stealing is wrong” don’t really make good morals because it can protect the wrong people. When you have a culture of people who understand this through internally developing their relationship with their beliefs for themselves and others, the justice system changes and the society changes in ways that protect the self, others, animals, and the planet – all the resources we share. The way I see it is we work together to protect life. Otherwise, what is the point of morals and ethics? Why do we have them? 🙂 What you believe will change how you answer certain questions, so as a philosopher I think it is important you look for the greatest possible worldview you can learn about including internally. Including indigenous tribes that have different views than consumer cultures. When you look far and wide it helps to see the truth in different lights, and how that is being vastly muddled by our current systems in society.
February 9th, 2016 at 9:25 am
Actually, the “Golden Rule” is quite problematic as place to start. It presumes that underneath it all we all want to be treated the same way. That is to say that all you have to do to treat me “fairly” is to do what you would want to do to you. If you really look at it, the Golden Rule seems to ask you to be empathic, but ultimately it fails. It doesn’t say that you should do unto to me what I want you to do, but what you would prefer. The golden rule is certainly a step in the right direction, but in reality falls short of being the basis for an ethical system.
I will also say that it seems to me that ethics evolve. It may be that they, like biological evolution, just move around with no real direction, for example, a recent survey found that more young people would rate “not recycling” as more “immoral” than watching porn. On the other hand it would seem that we have higher moral standards than our forebears, we no longer have wild animals rip people apart for entertainment as the Romans did, we now consider slavery to be immoral and generally condemn racism and sexism. This discussion (https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_and_rebecca_newberger_goldstein_the_long_reach_of_reason?language=en) highlights that.
February 10th, 2016 at 6:39 pm
At an intellectual level the Golden Rule does fail miserably. I agree a great deal because humanity has too much diversity now in beliefs, at an intellectual level. However, when you get to the emotional intelligence side of life, now we’re getting to be more on the same page, which is where I think the Golden Rule originated from. Look at many religions and belief systems who have laws, commandments, philosophies, or what have you that say to love one another. The word “love” definitely has its various semantics and that can also get lost in logic, but at a genuine and common root in humanity, we all want true genuine love. We all want to be acknowledged, validated, supported, etc. There is plenty of studies backing this up when we look at how depressed, anxious, and isolated many people are in consumer cultures where community is being sacrificed for individuality.
I don’t believe philosophical subjects can only be addressed from an intellectual point of view. Science tells us there are many kinds of intelligence, and so to evaluate these kinds of questions we have to be open to accepting other kinds of authority on these sujects, other than just logic. So yes, empathy is a huge part of it. Take for instance how the body’s physiological state will change in a healing way when experiencing human touch such as a hug. We all want love and its part of our basic needs for survival. When a person receives love, even a platonic love, the body produces oxytocin and other hormones which allow us to reduce stress levels and relax. All kinds of health benefits come from this.
I am not sure that we are more moral now. Have you had a chance to look into Human Trafficking and specifically sex trafficking? Have you heard about Gonzo porn and what they do to little children, and I’ve heard even infants? Have you looked at what they are doing to refugees, homeless people, the genocide in other countries? Is it that we are more moral, or is it that we are getting better at not seeing it? Or in some cases, are corporations getting better at hiding it because too much profit is at stake? Did you know that only 6 corporations run our media? How can that tend to shape our political views, especially if they only show what they feel is important? Or worse, could they be intentionally showing us what they want us to think? Such as porn is not tied to sex trafficking and the mass harm of millions of children?
I think this is such a great subject to explore. I think a lot about how Socrates questioned whether a society should let little children view certain things they might not be ready for because the logic can really twist things out of control when a person has no self control. Many won’t argue that we live in a culture of addictions. Without the temperance of empathy and a little discipline, we begin to rationalize with comparisons that are beside the point. What if recycling and porn are both immoral? Why should one even compare these two? Why does our culture compare in these ways?
A lot of great questions to ponder.
February 9th, 2016 at 12:24 am
I believe your professor is trying to point out that morality is dictated by the power base in charge. Personally, struggle with the concept of morality, I’m bothered by one that is not absolute, but at the same time it is difficult to define, because we can’t distinguish between an absolute and one that is induced by the power base in charge.
February 9th, 2016 at 3:09 am
What do you mean by “the power base in charge”?
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February 9th, 2016 at 3:21 am
There’s a book I’ve only made it part way through (so far) by Lisa Tessman called “Burdened Virtues: Virtue Ethics for Liberatory Struggles” which explores how virtue might look different when freedom is impaired. (I recommend the book). But I wonder if acquiescent meant something similar, and is referring to the limits on our freedom to act with perfect ethics?
February 9th, 2016 at 9:46 am
Religion, government, corporations…whomever has power.
February 9th, 2016 at 3:24 pm
So the power base you’re referring to is human as opposed to natural or supernatural?
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February 9th, 2016 at 3:45 pm
It’s natural, and therefore of God if you believe in divine creation.
February 9th, 2016 at 3:49 pm
Do you define God as nature? Or is God separate from nature?
February 9th, 2016 at 5:09 pm
If I could define God it would be proof God doesn’t exist
February 9th, 2016 at 5:51 pm
What do you mean by that?
February 10th, 2016 at 8:55 am
I’m reading your posts and seeing you struggle to explore ways of comparing morality cross-culturally and across different religions. Objectively speaking, morality is relative, so how can it be a firm guide line as religious leaders teach us? And if it is relative, how can it be innate and the same in each of us as some researchers now claim? The answer may be that natural morality, that is the sense of right and wrong that is baked into our DNA, IS relative. But it is relative to our affinity or proximity to others. Are innate sense of morality is strongest when it involves people we love, people we identify with in our social circle, people how are physically present in the same space etc. As this social intimacy shrinks, so does our sense of moral obligations. Our moral obligations to “them” is always weaker than our moral obligation to “us” however you choose to define those terms. So one of the roles of all religions is to broaden who we define as “us” and to translate our moral sense into a set or rules that apply to larger groups of human beings than our genetics were designed to accommodate. Once you come to understand the implications of this dimension of moral relativity, much of how the world behaves falls into place. You can begin to understand Stanley Millgrams experimental finding, for instance (since you mentioned him), and the reason there is so much conflict between religions. You can begin to understand that how conservatives and liberals define who is in or outside of their group shapes their different political priorities. It explains how the military trains solders to attack and kill “the enemy” and much more. Natural morality, it seems, is a mile deep by an inch wide, until we take active measures to apply it to larger and large social groups. SO… if you want a good and concrete moral standard with which to compare and contrast religions or cultures, stick to one that only impacts direct interpersonal behavior. Stick with social taboos. Perhaps child/adult incest might be a good one. If you do you will find it is a taboo in every culture, the strength of the taboo varying most according to variations in proximal intimacy levels as defined by the various societies through religious or civil laws or social structures.
February 9th, 2016 at 6:54 pm
Yes, of course. I see a problem in the fallible defining the infallible. The nature of the fallible is to contain an inherent flaw in their definitions.
February 9th, 2016 at 12:03 am
I believe morality is absolute…. Murder, rape are always immoral acts. There is either good, bad or neutral.
February 9th, 2016 at 1:33 am
Always? Consider if you knew for sure a person was going to do something horrible, but you could not get anyone else to believe you or even investigate or do anything to attempt to prevent it. Would “murder” of that person be immoral? Would it be “justifiable” morally even though not legally?
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February 9th, 2016 at 1:43 am
The problem is, you are not really talking morality by using terms like “murder” and “rape”, which although they refer to actions which are almost always immoral, hold us to legal restrictions, not moral ones. It is always immoral to kill someone who does not deserve it. It is always illegal and almost always immoral to murder someone, But “almost always” does not equal “aways”.
February 9th, 2016 at 1:53 am
There is no problem.I believe that murder and rape are always immoral. You cannot make a bad situation good by doing a bad thing. So, to take your hypothetical example. You “know” someone is going to kill two innocent people. If you decide to kill the would be murderer the direct result is the saving of the two innocents. OK. Good. But what are the ramifications for yourself? In order for a reasonable person to murder another they need to generate an enormous amount of negativity which is bound to have grave consequences for them.
If someone decides to commit murder they will reap the consequences in this life or the next.
February 9th, 2016 at 6:02 am
“In order for a reasonable person to murder another they need to generate an enormous amount of negativity which is bound to have grave consequences for them.”
sounds like a woo argument for “karma” or “heaven/hell” and observation shows this isn’t a valid claim. Plenty of people kill with no “grave consequences”.
February 9th, 2016 at 6:24 am
I’m not sure what woo means but I think I get your point. Kamma means action. Every action has a reaction. I don’t see how you can argue against this. Murderers have to live with their actions, this is their kamma.
February 9th, 2016 at 7:41 pm
Karma, not kamma. In human behavior, no, ever action doesn’t have a reaction or at least a coherent one. Witness the jackasses running for president of the US.
February 9th, 2016 at 8:12 pm
Kamma is an alternative spelling, taken from the Pali.
February 9th, 2016 at 8:13 pm
I can’t make you believe it, you have to experience it yourself.
February 10th, 2016 at 6:19 am
And that’s the argument of someone who peddles woo. You have no evidence for karma/kamma, so you must insist that it is my fault that I don’t experience what doesn’t happen.
February 11th, 2016 at 12:42 am
Well I walked into that one.
There is plenty of evidence for kamma. When people do good things they feel happy. When people do bad things they feel guilt. Kamma is action.
The very fact we are having this discussion is kamma.
Can I ask you what do you think happens when we die?
February 11th, 2016 at 5:52 am
do you agree the definition of karma/kamma is the expectation that those who do good will get good in return and those who do bad will get bad in return? I find your claim that karma/kamma is feeling is rather ridiculous and completely unsupported. You are making assumptions that people feel guilt if they do something you find “bad”.
What happens when we die? We end, and our bodies decay back into their constituent elements. No evidence for anything else. What do you think happens and can you support that claim?
February 11th, 2016 at 6:48 am
I do yes. But it isn’t something we can measure yet, I believe it happens over numerous lives. Kamma is action and feeling is action. There is plenty of evidence that people feel guilt.
Can I ask you? Are you afraid of your own death?
February 12th, 2016 at 5:45 am
It would be nice if you’d answer some questions that you’ve been asked. However, it does not surprise me that you do your best not to do so.
If kamma/karma exists, then why is there no evidence for it? Why do people who do good suffer and benefit just as much as those who do harmful things to others? Not everyone feels guilt and you seem to think, again, that everyone has the same morals as you and feels the way you think they should feel. You seem to have replaced “god” with “karma/kamma” and have just as much evidence that it exists as a theist does their god: none.
No, I am not afraid of my own death. Why would I be? I didn’t exist for a very long time before I lived and I’ll go right back to that. I will regret that I won’t have been able to do all I want or see everything I’d like to see.
It is my opinion that religion and woo depend on ginning up fear to exist. That’s why you mentioned this topic.
February 14th, 2016 at 12:11 am
I have answered most of your questions. I believe that part of us carries on when we die and there is plenty of evidence for this. Although it is said that it is best not to comment on things that you do not have personal experience of, which I do not. Earlier you said “your claim that karma/kamma is feeling is rather ridiculous”. Perhaps you should inquire as to what the definition of kamma is before commenting in this way.
Again, I don’t think it is a wild assumption to say that people feel good when they do good things or guilty when they do bad. I have gained this knowledge mostly by talking to people. It may appear that some people do not feel guilt. Perhaps they don’t, but that doesn’t disprove kamma at it can work over multiple lives. Perhaps they feel it subconsciously, perhaps they can hide or deny it. I am not an expert but you seem to have a very narrow, Western view of what Kamma is, as if it’s supposed to be a kind of deed swap shop. I did a good thing, I get a good thing in return.
Results depend on the volition of the action. If you do something good just to get something for yourself the volition is wrong.
Another point is how we define success. People tend to define material wealth as success but this is obviously incorrect (eg Donald Trump is not the recipient of good kamma). Some of the purest, happiest people are the poorest. Everyone is an individual dealing with their set of circumstances which is their kamma. Somebody’s life may look tough or easy to you but everything is relative, we are all on the same journey and you are not in a position to judge what are good or bad circumstances.
With regard to your opinions on what happens when we die. I take it you believe that we are conscious? So when does this arise? Does it arise in the womb? Conception? Birth? 3 years old? And it arises out of nothing? Everything else in the universe comes from something else…. but not consciousness and then it disappears when we die.
February 14th, 2016 at 8:43 am
Unsurprisingly, for your claim that there is “plenty of evidence” for “part of us caries on when we die”, you have presented nothing. No one has any experience, or evidence of any after death existence; and all you have tried to do is make up reasons why no one can counter your baseless nonsense.
Considering I offered a defintion of karma/kamma “do you agree the definition of karma/kamma is the expectation that those who do good will get good in return and those who do bad will get bad in return?” and you agreed with it “I do yes.”, it’s very amusing that you are whining that I am somehow wrong about the definition now. No one cares what you think is or isn’t a “wild assumption” when you have nothing to support your claims. All you have are assumptions and opinions with nothing to support them. Again, you now try to claim that karma/kamma is a “feeling” when the definition that we have agreed on is not that. All that is can be defined as having a conscience and that is, again, not what you agreed karma/kamma is.
You have made the usual baseless claims just like any theist or woo peddler. You wish to now try to claim that since you have no evidence for your claims, then your nonsense will happen in some “multiples lives”, a claim again that has NO evidence to support it at all. I like the idea of reincarnation but what I’d like to believe isn’t true. Karma, reincarnation, heaven hell, etc are all fantasies ginned up by humans who want to imagine that the universe is fair and just, and that they have some secret knowledge so they can feel like special snowflakes. But you’ve accused me of having some “narrow” idea of what karma/kamma is, and by your own admission my definition of karma/kamma is right and you agree with it. Why the change now?
You make the same nonsense as Christians do when claiming that the “volition” (by which you seem to mean intent) of the action influence whether the karma or prayer will be answered. This excuse is offered by anyone who has the problem that their claims never are supported by evidence, it is again trying to blame the actor when the prayer or karma doesn’t actually work as claimed.
And just like theists whose claims fail, you try to redefine words to excuse the failures of your claims.
Like most western people, who want for very little, you try to make believe that the poor are happier than you. That’s why you don’t have to feel like you should do something for them in reality, the same excuse given by a theist who wants to pretend that prayer does anything. If it’s someone’s karma to suffer, why should you do anything, it’s obviously the will of the universe/god? I certainly can judge what is good or bad circumstances and that is indeed action not some whine that we can’t do anything like you have offered.
Ah, and now we get more woo. Yes, I know we are conscious. When does this “arise”? We have no idea *yet*, and just like theists you try to claim your nonsense true and try to stuff your claims into the gaps, trying to pretend that if we don’t know something, then your claims are true. As current research has indicated, with evidence, consciousness arises from the brain and its complexity. Still waiting for your “plenty of evidence”. You also appear to try to offer the sad little claim of the cosmological argument. Please do show your premises for the argument to be true.
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February 14th, 2016 at 9:42 am
Greetings. The person in this video is much more articulate at describing karma.
I’m not changing the definition, karma is action.
I am not imagining that poor people do not need help, please do not judge me, you know nothing about me.
I am not going to hunt down evidence that shows when people do good things they feel good or when people do bad they feel bad.
Please watch the video and I will leave it there.
February 14th, 2016 at 10:49 am
No, James, I am not watching a video. I asked *you* if you agreed with my definition of karma/kamma and you said you did.
I know you from what you have said. I will judge you from that. Of course you won’t hunt down evidence to support your claims, it doesn’t exist. The feelings of people aren’t karma as we have both agreed and we both know that people don’t obey what you want them to feel when they do something you claim is “bad” or “good”.
I am still waiting for evidence for your claims.
February 9th, 2016 at 7:43 pm
oh and woo means the metaphysical nonsense that theists and those who want to pretend supernatural things exist invent.
February 9th, 2016 at 7:18 am
Society has already found a way around this. We dub a group of people as having the authority to murder. If they kill someone to save innocent lives, the consequences for this person is that they are lauded as a hero. Why should I as a regular citizen be considered a murderer simply because I don’t wear a badge even if my action prevents the same number of deaths? The police and military are a society’s way of fudging the morality of murder.
With rape I agree as I can think of no way in which we’ve justified it from a moral standpoint…at least today…but of course in the past it was fine, with very little consequence. And even today despite it being morally frowned upon and being illegal, most rapists are not prosecuted and face little consequences.
The good die young, and the bad get away with all sorts of crimes all the time…Karma is crap.
February 9th, 2016 at 8:43 am
So, you are totally against the death penalty and military action of all kinds?
February 9th, 2016 at 8:55 pm
I am against the death penalty and all war. Arguments could be put forward for defence but none that include killing.
February 10th, 2016 at 8:48 am
Good for you then. The extreme pacifist position is a tough argument to make, but one I very much admire.
February 9th, 2016 at 4:38 pm
The problem is, you are using a term “murder”, but it is not clear what you consider “murder”. There is a fairly specific legal definition, but that is only tangentially related to morality. The Bible, considered by some to be a guide to morality, says to not “murder”, but does not specifically define the term, or more accurately, seems to define it significantly differently than all legal definitions I’ve heard of.
February 9th, 2016 at 9:00 pm
Murder is killing with intent. So if it is your intent to kill and you do, then it is murder.
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February 9th, 2016 at 10:56 pm
That’s a reasonably good (and moral) definition. With exception for the state (execution and military) that approaches an absolute line. That allows for, in my opinion, self defense when necessary. That is, the goal of valid self defense is to stop the attacker from actions which would do irreparable harm to oneself or an innocent third party. If the intent was to “stop” and the attacker ends up dead, that would not be murder, whereas if the intent was to “kill” and the attacker ends up dead, that would be murder. Pretty straightforward from a moral standpoint; rather more difficult from a legal standpoint. Proving intent can be a challenge.
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February 9th, 2016 at 11:38 pm
Agreed. We need to forget about the law, the law is designed to protect private property.
February 14th, 2016 at 1:37 pm
Why have you no comment on my post. Did you miss it. I think you might like it.
Sent from my iPhone
February 14th, 2016 at 4:16 pm
I must have missed it, will look for it
February 14th, 2016 at 2:03 pm
Here was my response to you, only edited a little.
Objectively speaking, human morality is relative. Despite what we are taught in Sunday school, there is no single set of rules or commandments that universally apply to every situation. Laws, whether religious or civil, are not infallible absolutes. Laws are language based translations of underlying principles of good behavior. They are more like guide posts expressing a moral intent with respect to right and wrong behavior. They are important reference points by which we can judge and enforce the outward behavior of others. If this weren’t true there would never be any need for the faithful to prey for guidance, no need for legal consultations or clerical counseling or even religious training. If this weren’t true there would be no need to pursue justice or show mercy. What is absolute is the personal obligation to do what is right when we have to make right or wrong choices.
But if it is relative, how can it be innate and the same in each of us as some researchers now claim? The answer may be that natural morality, that is the sense of right and wrong that is baked into our DNA, IS relative. But this sense of right and wrong behavior is relative to our affinity or proximity to others to whom we are responding. Are innate sense of morality is strongest when it involves people we love, people we identify with in our social circle or people who occupy our physical space . As this social intimacy shrinks, so does our sense of moral obligation. Our moral obligations to “them” is always weaker than our moral obligation to “us” no matter how you choose to define those terms.
So one of the roles of all religions is to broaden who we define as “us” and then translate our moral sense so that we can apply it to this larger group. Translating our internal sense of right and wrong behavior is always necessary in large groups because our social genetics evolved well before we gathered in large social groups.
Once we come to understand the implications of this dimension of moral relativity, much of how the world behaves falls into place. We can begin to understand Stanley Milgram’s experimental finding, for instance, and why an authority figure standing next to the subject can command the subject to apply a painful shock to a stranger in another room. We can understand better why there is so much conflict between religions, or even sub-sects of the same religion. Sunni and Shia come to mind here. We can see that differences in how conservatives and progressives define who is in or out of their group shapes their political priorities. It explains why military training involves dehumanizing “enemy combatants” and much more.
Natural morality, it seems, is a mile deep but an inch wide. We must always take active measures to apply it to larger social groups through social norms, taboos, rules, laws, commandments, principles, etc, .
SO… if you want a good moral standard with which to compare and contrast religions or cultures, you have to stick to ones that only impact direct interpersonal behaviors. Stick with social taboos, for example. Perhaps child/adult incest might be a good one. If you do you will find it is a taboo in every culture, the strength of the taboo varying most according to variations in proximal intimacy levels as defined by the various societies through religious or civil laws or social structures.
February 14th, 2016 at 8:57 pm
– Laws are SOMETIMES based on “good” behavior. Although sometimes they can have moral underpinnings, they provide for legality, not morality.
– I’m not so sure that religion is intended to widen “us”. It seems more of a narrowing, or perhaps more accurately, a redefining, of “us”. In some cases, it tries to compensate by specifying a “required” set of morals.
February 14th, 2016 at 9:30 pm
Religion is far wider than family, clan, tribe, etc.
February 15th, 2016 at 12:55 am
You would think so. But individual fragments of a religion can be rather exclusive. “I’m a dunker, and all you sprinklers are obviously not true believers…”
February 9th, 2016 at 3:08 am
Would you mind explaining why you believe morality is absolute?
February 9th, 2016 at 3:40 am
The vast majority of cultures and religions agree on certain moral principles suggesting they are inherently true.
All actions have a consequence… Actions are either positive or negative (or neutral).
In reality it is impossible to examine choices independently, the consequences of our choices are ongoing and stretch out into infinity.
All you need to do is look around at the state of the world, most people agree it’s in pretty bad shape, this is because they have morals. You can argue that this is just social conditioning but it’s deeper than that, morals have always been with us. You can just feel it. You know it’s right or wrong.
I realise that I have probably opened myself up to a host of philosophical criticisms… what do you think?
February 9th, 2016 at 2:52 pm
I see. So you’re saying that morality is inherent because different cultures share the same moral codes? Can you give me your best example of this? I think it’ll help further the conversation.
February 9th, 2016 at 8:57 pm
The example I am most familiar with is religion. The same rules can be found in most of the major religions.
February 9th, 2016 at 9:07 pm
Can you go deeper than that? Can you give me specific examples of rules existing in two different religions, like Christianity and Hinduism? Do you know of any counter-examples?
February 9th, 2016 at 9:13 pm
Thou shalt not kill (10 commandments, Christianity, Islam, Judaism)
I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing (Sila, Buddhism)
Not sure about Hinduism…
February 9th, 2016 at 10:06 pm
How are those rules similar and how are they different? For example, in certain sects of Jainism are so concerned with causing harm that the followers refuse to wear clothes so that they don’t kill bacteria in the process of cleaning. But religions like Christianity have exemptions where killing becomes okay, like for the purposes of punishment. So does “killing” really mean the same thing?
February 9th, 2016 at 10:46 pm
As I understand it the main reason for not wearing clothes in Jainism is renunciation. Jainism has bee around for thousands of years – much longer than our knowledge of bacteria. They also eat dairy..
I understand that there are exceptions but that is the problem. There are fundemental rules we shouldn’t break… discussing when we should break them doesn’t take away from them being absolute.
February 10th, 2016 at 12:01 am
We use the word “bacteria” today, but the Jains believed that there were microscopic (again, I’m using modern terminology) organisms living on their clothes. I’m also discussing a small sect, and, from what I learned about them, they only eat what is given to them because the process of cooking causes death. For whatever reason, they are willing to benefit from the death caused, they just aren’t willing to be the cause. But I’m no expert either.
How does it not? If one group says you can kill for war or punishment, and another says you can’t kill no matter what, doesn’t that lead to the question “when is killing okay?” If killing is ever okay, then is “thou shall not kill” really a universal law?
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February 10th, 2016 at 12:15 am
That is really interesting about this Jain sect. How could they know this without microscopes? Perhaps they acquired this knowledge through meditation 🙂
February 10th, 2016 at 7:27 pm
You don’t have to know something to believe something. Atoms were first posited by the Ancient Greeks.
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February 10th, 2016 at 12:19 am
ok I take your point. “thou shalt not kill” is not a universal law as it doesn’t cover you for accidents…
February 9th, 2016 at 10:47 pm
killing is killing. murder is killing with intent.
February 10th, 2016 at 12:03 am
Second degree murder is still murder, but it’s without the intent to kill. Like killing in the heat of the moment during an argument or vehicular manslaughter. A soldier intends to kill when they are at war. Is the soldier a murderer?
February 10th, 2016 at 12:13 am
I would say he is. ok. Killing with intent is morally wrong and that rule, I believe, is absolute.
February 10th, 2016 at 7:26 pm
So killing for self-defense is wrong? Is it better to allow yourself to be killed than to kill?
February 10th, 2016 at 8:03 pm
killing with intention is wrong.
February 10th, 2016 at 9:11 pm
If you are attacked, you have the legal (most places) and moral right to defend yourself by stopping the attacker from completing the attack. If the attacker should happen to die from your attempts to stop him, that is not a problem morally. However, if you intend to kill someone who is attacking you and succeed in doing so, then that would be “murder” per the definition under discussion.
February 10th, 2016 at 1:44 am
Second degree murder has intent to kill, just not premeditation. First degree has premeditation (planning).
February 10th, 2016 at 1:49 am
Oh, and it is not (most) soldier’s intent to kill (with the possible exception of the sniper specialty). An enemy soldier wounded and disabled but not killed is much more disruptive to the enemy, assuming they are decent enough to expend the effort to attempt to save him.
Most soldiers are trained to shoot for center of mass, which is not a reliable way of killing (although it can). It is, however, very effective at disabling.