Fair enough - thanks for clearing that up. I take back the statement 'no reason to pick one instead of the other' which I accept was not correct.
My attitude to the 'objectivity in ethics' question is somewhat different.
We do indeed discover new things every day, but I believe that there are some things that will never change.
All those day-glo freaks who used to paint their face
They've joined the human race
Some things will never change.
On a more serious note, the idea that truth is infinitely changeable and elastic actually does not provide much of a foothold in the difficult terrain of philosophy.
Eastern philosophies, for example, approach these issues in quite a different manner.
Skepticism must be careful to avoid self-contradiction, because the rule that everything is susceptible to doubt may itself be susceptible to doubt.
Thanks for clearing things up.
As for your belief that some things never change. Can you give me an example? Thanks.
Rooted in the law of opposites.
What is unique and adds value, about you in your space and time, is also in flux with the consistent margin of error.
The minus and plus of phi.
In order for space and time to persist, there must be a counterbalancing force to momentum, which is a scalar Ratio of itself (compare to electrostrong containing electroweak in the set).
Phi, pi, and so on, in mathematical progressions that are the underpinnings of Form/Topology.
All reality is built upon this golden equation, and is why sustainable ethics integrates shifting weaknesses and strengths, through the give-and-take of value exchange progressions.
"Have you ever seen evil? You may think so. Perhaps only in films, if you're lucky. But what have you really seen? Two persons, perhaps, one with a rifle, hauling a child out of her home and pushing her to her knees. Soldiers are nearby, laughing and encouraging their comrade. The one with the rifle casually lifts it to the chest of the little girl. You hear a noise. The girl falls in a heap. Blood leaks from her body. The soldiers move on, buoyant, looking for another victim. You inwardly experience something you call "moral outrage," but so what? What you in fact saw wasn't evil, dear friend. For you could provide a full empirical description of all the actions of such a scene, and never once mention evil. You'd mention the position of the rifle and his victim, the soldier's words, the way he manhandled his victim, her look of fear, the impact of the bullet, etc. You don't need to cite the "evil" of the action to completely explain what happened. All the explanatory work can be done without it. The girl didn't die because of evil--she died because of a bullet to her chest, plain and simple. You have to mention that to explain her death, but you don't have to mention evil at all."
Because reference to the moral quality of the interaction above is optional, it isn't required. And Occam's Razor tells us that, therefore, we have no good reason to believe that the moral features are real. Don't multiply entities beyond necessity, right? No evil, just the facts. Moral skeptics capitalise on this and allege that either evil is nonexistent, or that evil is a human construct. There is no such thing as objective evil, or badness, or wrongdoing, or for that matter goodness, or kindness, or compassion. If evil exists at all, it is only as a result of our projecting onto a value-free world our emotional repugnance at actions that, taken in themselves, are entirely morally neutral. Wilful murder, the epitome of "vice," can be wholly described without reference to any moral vocabulary. So Occam's Razor and the scientific outlook support moral skepticism in denying ethical objectivism.
If you've made it this far, you may be wondering why the heck I'm still an ethical objectivist. I certainly haven't even begun to build a case for ethical objectivism, but have instead presented the strongest challenges marshalled by its opposition, moral skepticism. Morality is in real danger of being cut out from the ontological inventory. I don't believe in gods or trolls or unicorns. Indeed I've never laid eyes on them, and I have never needed to rely on them in order to explain anything in my experience. Perhaps I should take my leave of moral facts for the very same reasons?
No. There is one way out for the ethical objectivist, but it is the hard way, and it will require copious amounts of philosophical ingenuity:
Ethical objectivists must reject the claim that something exists only if there is an explanatory need that it fulfills.
As I stated previously, moral facts aren't necessary to explain anything, but they may exist for all that. There are at least three arguments objectivists can rely on to defend the counter-claim that something can exist without fufilling some explanatory need. However, these arguments are truly awesome to behold, so I will save them for a later time.
We reject the subjectivist view that to call an action right, or a thing good, is to say that it is generally approved of, on the grounds that it is not self-contradictory to assert that some things or actions that are generally approved of are wrong. "
...t I believe that there are some things that will never change.
I am trying to remember the context...oh yeah, Richrf basically says 'things are always changing therefore any statement is as likely as any other to be true' or something like that. Heraclitus and Taoism. So I was saying, there are some constants, 'some things never change'.
For example: humans are fundamentally selfish. They are born that way, and in some respects survival seems to demand it. It is a very deep characteristic of the human psyche. Probably it is from evolutionary psychology. This goes for humans anywhere - ancient or modern, east or west. Cultures try various means to ameliorate or accomodate this tendency but it is very hard to overcome.
There are many other undesirable elements of 'human nature' that are pretty well constant. Jealously, craving, avarice - I am pretty sure if you could survey human populations anywhere, in any time period, you would find a lot of these core tendencies. I'm pretty sure you would find some of them amongst chimps and gorillas.
This is not to say that these can't be changed, or that some societies are not better at dealing with them than others. But they run deep. It's 'human nature'.
Given that this is so, it is not surprising that the 'core ethical teachings' of many of the religious traditions are very similar in respect to dealing with these aspects of human nature. The Mosaic tradition has the parable of 'the fall'. Buddhists and Hindus allegorise the human condition as a condition marred by ignorance, avidya. And the 'Golden Mean' - Do Unto Others - has been independently devised in many different traditions in response to the human condition.
So I really think there are perennial issues, and likewise a perennial philosophy, if you will, which addresses them. This does not prevent us from re-discovering or re-creating them as new for each generation. But even so - some things will never change.
I do not see any issue in saying that something is considered good, when one or more people call it such. I guess the more people that come to this consensus, the more general appeal it has. But this consensus can change.
In the same manner, something can be considered bad, (e.g. the women's right to vote), until the consensus changes (consensus is often levered by power). The ebb and flow of moral and ethical conduct. I think it is fine to suggest these opinions flow from emotion. Emotion plays a giant role in human conduct.
The point was only to show that it is not contradictory to say that an action is wrong when it is generally approved of ..