Moral Relativism

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Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Sat 8 Nov, 2008 12:20 pm
@Steerpike,
Steerpike wrote:
Here is one based on formal logic:

Premise:

"There are no objective ethical truths."

The premise is logically self-refuting. This makes it necessarily false. Therefore, there are objective ethical truths.

If there are objective ethical truths, then ethics is not subjective or relative.


Good God.

How many times must it be explained that the statement "There are no objective ethical truths" is not an ethical statement and therefore is not self-refuting.

Let me demonstrate:

1. There is objective truth.
2. It is objectively true that there is no objective ethical truth.
 
Steerpike
 
Reply Sat 8 Nov, 2008 12:25 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
How many times must it be explained that the statement "There are no objective ethical truths" is not an ethical statement and therefore is not self-refuting.


It is a statement about truth. Therefore it is self-refuting.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Sat 8 Nov, 2008 12:33 pm
@Steerpike,
Steerpike wrote:
It is a statement about truth. Therefore it is self-refuting.


Ethical propositions are only a subset of all propositions. Saying that ethical propositions are relatively true does not imply all propositions are relatively true.

I can say, "There are no objective ethical truths" and "It is objectively true that people make moral decisions" and not contradict myself because the first statement applies only to ethical propositions, and the second is not.

If you are going to prove this attack, you must show how "There are no objective ethical truths" is an ethical proposition.
 
Steerpike
 
Reply Sat 8 Nov, 2008 01:04 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
Ethical propositions are only a subset of all propositions. Saying that ethical propositions are relatively true does not imply all propositions are relatively true.


:nonooo:

Not relatively true, but objectively true. Some set of ethical propositions is objectively true. The task of philosophy is to find them.

Mr. Fight the Power wrote:

I can say, "There are no objective ethical truths" and "It is objectively true that people make moral decisions" and not contradict myself because the first statement applies only to ethical propositions, and the second is not.


The first statement does deal with ethical propositions as truth and is self-refuting. Since the first necessarly (due to self-refutation) means that there are objective ethical truths. The statement that people make these decisions has no bearing on the truth/false value of the first proposition. The test of contradiction is in truth.

Mr. Fight the Power wrote:

If you are going to prove this attack, you must show how "There are no objective ethical truths" is an ethical proposition.


Not at all. It is based on logical truth. That is all that is logically necessary and sufficient. :bigsmile:
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Sat 8 Nov, 2008 08:00 pm
@Steerpike,
Steerpike, Smile

Your persistence could be put to better use. Yes truth is objective(to as much of an extent that something is true, making the statement redundant), but please tell me how morals are inherently truth? Are they universal for all of humanity? No.

Morals are like truth functions for how somebody is going to act. But everybody has different moral influences, so once we relate people and eachother's morals, they are just not going to be the same.

You seem to have a differing opinion to everybody else here, so lets here your logic, instead of denouncing everyone else's.
 
OctoberMist
 
Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2008 11:42 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Steerpike's rhetorical Da Vinci Code aside, I'd be interested in hearing everyone's views on this subject.

Thanks to everyone (yes, everyone) for your responses thus far. Smile
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 06:05 am
@OctoberMist,
This was the post from another thread that somewhat describes my views on the issue:

BrightNoon wrote:
Justice, sanity and insanity are all ideas that we have invented; they are whatever one defines them as.

That said:
Nothing is inherently right or wrong; morality is relative. Insanity is synymous with abnormality and sanity with normality. It is a matter of perspective. Your sanity is only sane for you; your brother's 'insanity' is only sane for him. there are no absolute standards by which to judge anything.


Steerpike wrote:
If nothing is inherently right or wrong, then morality can't be relative because there would be no right or wrong to be relative to. You have a fallacy of self-contradiction. :whip:

There is no empirical or a priori evidence to support "morality is relative." That people disagree on questions of ethics/morality doesn't prove that it is relative or subjective. It only proves disagreement. It is possible for parties to disagree and one party be right the other party be wrong.

Sanity is not judged by "normality" but by rationality.


These two posts make for a very good beginning to this discussion.

First off, I agree, with reservations, with BrightNoon. I agree that morality is relative to the point that each person makes his or her own moral measurements and that without that measurement, morality simply wouldn't exist. However, that doesn't mean that we define them, rather I believe it has been defined for us. Morality is a function of emotions and reason, both of which are evolved traits. In that sense, I believe that while morality is relative, it is also universal (again with reservations, at typified by Holiday's brother), and based in our nature as humans and the nature of human understanding.

From this I break away from BrightNoon and slightly agree with Steerpike. Sanity, justice, and morality are not free-floating, but judged against these rational (and to a lesser extent, emotional) standards.

With that said, moral relativity does non fall to self-contradiction as Steerpike says. It is the very point of moral relativism that there is no moral absolute for moral codes to be judged by. When someone argues for moral relativism, they do not argue that morality is relative to some other code, but relative to the holder.
 
Mylarus
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 05:56 pm
@Steerpike,
Steerpike wrote:
It demonstrates logical fallacy of the ethcial subjectivist/relativist view. That is sufficient.


Can you explain this please? Pretend like I don't know what you are talking about, which I don't!
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 09:49 pm
@Mylarus,
Mylarus;33059 wrote:
Can you explain this please? Pretend like I don't know what you are talking about, which I don't!


Plato's refutation of relativism might help you to understand; I will repost a version of it here, because I think people should read it when considering relativism, if they haven't already. A paraphrased version that I read is the following:

"If the way things appear to me, in that way they exist for me, and the way things appears to you, in that way they exist for you, then it appears to me that your whole doctrine is false."

From Plato's Theaetetus:


Quote:
SOCRATES: When you have come to a decision in your own mind about something, and declare your opinion to me, this opinion is, according to his doctrine, true to you; let us grant that; but may not the rest of us sit in judgement on your decision, or do we always judge that your opinion is true? Do not myriads of men on each occasion oppose their opinions to yours, believing that your judgement and belief are false?

THEODORUS: Yes, by Zeus, Socrates, countless myriads in truth, as Homer says, and they give me all the trouble in the world.

SOCRATES: Well then, shall we say that in such a case your opinion is true to you but false to the myriads?

THEODORUS: That seems to be the inevitable deduction.

SOCRATES: And what of Protagoras himself? If neither he himself thought, nor people in general think, as indeed they do not, that man is the measure of all things, is it not inevitable that the "truth" which he wrote is true to no one? But if he himself thought it was true, [171a] and people in general do not agree with him, in the first place you know that it is just so much more false than true as the number of those who do not believe it is greater than the number of those who do.

THEODORUS: Necessarily, if it is to be true or false according to each individual opinion.

SOCRATES: Secondly, it involves this, which is a very pretty result; he concedes about his own opinion the truth of the opinion of those who disagree with him and think that his opinion is false, since he grants that the opinions of all men are true.

THEODORUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then would he not be conceding that his own opinion is false, if he grants that the opinion of those who think he is in error is true?

THEODORUS: Necessarily.

SOCRATES: But the others do not concede that they are in error, do they?

THEODORUS: No, they do not.

SOCRATES: And he, in turn, according to his writings, grants that this opinion also is true.

THEODORUS: Evidently.

SOCRATES: Then all men, beginning with Protagoras, will dispute -- or rather, he will grant, after he once concedes that the opinion of the man who holds the opposite view is true -- even Protagoras himself, I say, [171c] will concede that neither a dog nor any casual man is a measure of anything whatsoever that he has not learned. Is not that the case?

THEODORUS: Yes.

SOCRATES: Then since the "truth" of Protagoras is disputed by all, it would be true to nobody, neither to anyone else nor to him.
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 12:34 am
@OctoberMist,
Of course, I won't refute the premise of this thread. I just want to take a shot at Steerpike...

"There are no objective ethical truths" is a statement regarding what is. Ethics do not deal with what exists; they deal with what should exist or what should be done. Ergo, that statement does not express an ethic, as it makes no claims about ethical truth. Thus, it is not self-refuting. On the other hand, a statement such as, "there is no true statement" is self-refuting.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 06:11 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
Of course, I won't refute the premise of this thread. I just want to take a shot at Steerpike...

"There are no objective ethical truths" is a statement regarding what is. Ethics do not deal with what exists; they deal with what should exist or what should be done. Ergo, that statement does not express an ethic, as it makes no claims about ethical truth. Thus, it is not self-refuting. On the other hand, a statement such as, "there is no true statement" is self-refuting.


I repeated that same thing in that other thread three or four times.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 09:39 am
@Steerpike,
Hi Y'all!!Smile

Morality is a myth, one created by a given population within a geographical area. Morality is determined by the self-interest of our common biology. While it is true that there are variations in the morality of given groups it is generally appreciated that morality is to serve the welfare of the majority, the in group, all hostility is saved for those outside the group, relative morality, yes relative to whom you identify with.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 10:00 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Morality is a myth, one created by a given population within a geographical area. Morality is determined by the self-interest of our common biology.


Does this mean that morality is a real myth?
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 10:40 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
Does this mean that morality is a real myth?


Mr Fight the Power,Smile

Indeed it is!! There does seem to be a common theme, but enough variation to let us know of the creative process involved. That we all share a common biology, and a reasonably common experience of the world, so it is not to surprising. You know yourself, that certain cultures have taboos that the culture that you belong to does not entertain. Everything about the creative structures of man are based on the self-interest of the biology of that group. With the world becoming much smaller, saving your hostility for people outside the group has become pathological.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 10:50 am
@boagie,
Color me confused.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:25 pm
@OctoberMist,
So, there is no logical, absolute way by which we can determine something is morally wrong? I suppose raping and killing children, or some other terrible act is just "taboo" to us, but is OK for someone else? Come on... Just because there is not one all-encompassing, universally endowed set of morals for humanity, does not mean that morality is a myth.

Maybe the criminal has his own set of guidelines that are "bad morals" from my perspective, or maybe he is just in a state of mind where he is not aware of the absolute morals. That doesn't mean they don't exist.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:45 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss,Smile

To say it is a myth is not to say it has no foundation, the foundation is ones own self-interest in the welfare of the individual or that of a group of people. How else woud you understand the variations of morality across the board. The foundation of compassion is identifing with that of another, the foundation of morality is compassion, that this is then written in stone by a given culture does not negate the nature of that mythology. That it is a natural out come of humanity does not again negative the narrative as a mythology, if a morality singular was universally held, you then might have an argument.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 03:06 pm
@boagie,
boagie;33222 wrote:

To say it is a myth is not to say it has no foundation, the foundation is ones own self-interest in the welfare of the individual or that of a group of people. How else woud you understand the variations of morality across the board.


Question marks and paragraphs are your friends! (and the readers' too).

You can understand the variations of morality across the board as having to do with each person's grasp of wisdom. If you accept that there is absolute truth or wisdom (you certainly do not, but if), then the variations in "morality" are caused by varying degrees of ignorance.

Quote:
The foundation of compassion is identifing with that of another, the foundation of morality is compassion, that this is then written in stone by a given culture does not negate the nature of that mythology.


I agree with you on compassion being able to identify with another. But still not getting your whole "myth" thing. Of course the "writing in stone" of moral values by some culture could be mythology. This does not make the concept of morality itself a "myth".

Quote:
That it is a natural out come of humanity does not again negative the narrative as a mythology, if a morality singular was universally held, you then might have an argument.


You might have an argument if you were not confusing the concept of absolute morality with the sets of morals that you are observing in the world. I am using the definition of morality that I read in a dictionary here, where it says, "the extent to which something is right or wrong."

It is one thing to say that morality absolutely does not, or cannot exist (that nothing is inherently "good", "bad", "right" or "wrong"; therefore the concept of morality has no merit). It is another to say, "observe that people do not agree on what is moral or immoral; therefore morality does not exist". Because people disagree does not mean that absolute moral truths do not exist.
 
boagie
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 03:33 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss,Smile

Where on earth would the source of the absolute exist? Perhaps this is liken to the difference in many peoples minds between what religion is and what mythology is. Mythology is often defined as the other fellows religion, well their own is the light and the absolute truth. I suggest if you are looking for the absolute, you pack a lunch.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 03:52 pm
@boagie,
boagie;33226 wrote:
Pangloss,Smile
I suggest if you are looking for the absolute, you pack a lunch.


We enjoy living in a society that is governed by certain laws and boundaries; this is a result of "looking for the absolute". While we all might be in relative positions, it is the concept of the absolute that takes us in the right direction. To adopt your philosophy on a grand scale would mean chaos. I will pack the lunch and take law and order over anarchy.
 
 

 
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