Can anyone really BE a moral relativist?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Magical Realist, May 8, 2013.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,532
    I have my doubts. Because the moment you admit your morality is only specific to you or your culture, then it ceases to be a universal morality. And what good is THAT? I've noticed that even among scientific types there is an assumption of a universal good for the human species. To explore the universe. To understand it. And to manipulate it to our own advantage and survival. Surely THIS is not a relative moral aim. It seems to embrace all humans in a common enterprise. Doesn't belief in a moral aim for your life presume its absoluteness in the scheme of things? That there is goodness in order as opposed to random meaningless chaos?
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Smashingdols Registered Member

    Messages:
    7
    ...that's the POINT of moral relativism

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    The way I think about it...I acknowledge that my beliefs were shaped (and probably not be what they are without) the environments I have subjected myself to. Other people with different beliefs were shaped by different environments. That's all.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Balerion Banned Banned

    Messages:
    8,596
    Recognizing that there is no universal or absolute morality is precisely what moral relativism is, so how would ceasing to believe a universal moral code invalidate the belief?

    What's the point of asking? Relativism isn't a moral code in and of itself. The difference between your moral code and moral relativism is the difference between atheism (or theism) and agnosticism; they're not answers to the same question.

    Recognizing the value in something isn't a moral statement. We can agree that food and water have value to the human species, yet their acquisition presents countless moral quandaries.

    More to the point, there will always be people who disagree with the morality of any decision you make. Some people may believe that killing for food so that one's family doesn't starve is a moral action, while others will call it evil. And neither has any objective foundation to stand on. Unless you'd like to change that and offer some?

    Unity is not a moral action. If all humans decided to strangle every kitten in the world, would it suddenly become a moral act simply because everyone's doing it?

    No, especially if it really is your own code, as it's specific to you and therefore cannot be absolute.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. Chipz Banned Banned

    Messages:
    838

    LOL!

    But evry decision made in our world is butt a drop in th buket of time which over centuries molds the sands of the beach. ur saying any way of going is willy nilly a o k. but in realty, ther r facts, whethr you aknowledg them or not. and ther is at a time only one optimal way, even if tht way is difrent for us all. your view or realtivsm is childish.
     
  8. Balerion Banned Banned

    Messages:
    8,596
    So if I punch you in the face, that decision will reverberate through time? I'd like to see some evidence of that. No, seriously.

    If morality were merely the exercise of taking the most optimal action at any given time, then each of us having a different answer to that problem based on our own personal situations, then morality would be by definition subjective, so you're actually agreeing with me. But morality isn't the optimisation of one's life. If it were, then the only moral question anyone would face is which action benefits you the most, not which action is actually "right," by whatever moral code you subscribe to. Morality is the conception of right and wrong, not necessarily what's best for me.

    (Of course, you might simply say that your moral code actually is one that puts you first and asks only that you always put you first regardless of the circumstance. And you're free to do that. Though you probably won't get very far that way, which, ironically, would make such a philosophy anything but optimal)

    At least I can spell it.
     
  9. Smashingdols Registered Member

    Messages:
    7
    :bravo:
     
  10. Rav Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,422
    It's easy to derive a basis for morality. It's only the finer points that are going to be situational.

    Who Says Science has Nothing to Say About Morality?
     
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,975
    If "laws" were taken to be universal by definition, and independent of or unalterable by empirical circumstances themselves, then sure: A morality based on relativism and consequentialism becomes a contradictory joke. But as humans do -- they simply change definitions or add one when they get themselves backed into a corner. This is also how materialism (solid bodies in a void) was kept alive over the centuries despite discoveries or other problems arising; retaining the name for a different metaphysics at least deceives the person on the street into believing there is continuation of the original / former idea.
     
  12. Chipz Banned Banned

    Messages:
    838
    LOL. just cuz no one knows what the "Law" is, doesnt mean it dont exist.
     
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,532
    Morality IS the codification or idealization of behavior beyond just your particular choices. It is of its very nature a generalization of the principle you are acting upon to all other humans. Noone says, "Well, I think killing is wrong, but for other people on the other side of the planet its perfectly ok." If you are just making a choice based on your own situation and reasoning, why generalize it into a moral principle? You just chose to do that, and that's it. The moment you extrapolate from your choice to a moral principle, you are of necessity transcending your situation and culture to include all humans. At least that's my experience of morality. Can you tell me any moral principle you believe in that DOESN'T extrapolate universally to all humans?


    Even someone who believes it is wrong to kill animals for food is generalizing that principle beyond just himself. He implicitly idealizes a world were EVERYONE refrains from killing animals for food. Now he may tolerate the existence and practices of meateaters. He may intellectually accept that meateaters have a right to their own beliefs and practice. But that doesn't mean he thinks meateating is just as morally defensible as respecting all life is. Relativism is in this sense self-nullifying because it asserts a contradiction: that what I think is right is right and what I think is wrong is right too. How can anyone honestly have a morality like that? Why not just dispense with morality altogether and say, "I CHOOSE this action for myself. And that's all there is to it."?

    Generalized to the realm of values, relativism presents the same dilemma. How can one really believe in a value without believing that value should be true for everyone else? I may believe that financial success is the ultimate value of my life, and may intellectually at least concede there are others who have the right not to pursue that goal in life. But won't I always secretly look down on those people, as lazy or weak because they aren't pursuing what I believe to be the ultimate value of life--making lots of money? I think so. When you generalize an action into a value, you are of necessity extending that value beyond just yourself to include everybody else. Cuz really, if its the highest value for you, why SHOULDN'T it be the highest value for everyone else?


    So you're saying since relativism admits the subjectivity of moral principles, that they are therefore non-objective and therefore no longer moral principles? That's sort of my point. Relativism leads to moral nihilism. It is an amorality parading itself as a morality.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,532
    I pictured a long drawn out contract that lists the intitial rules of an agreement, and then page after page of stipulations, addenums, asterisks, and claused exceptions. After awhile one questions the use of said moral code and just wonders why we don't go back to common sense.
     
  15. Smashingdols Registered Member

    Messages:
    7
    omg, old-school rumble?! how exciting!! alright---meet in the playground after school! ...good god what am I going to wear........
     
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,532

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!




    Ofcourse the above rule only applies relatively to myself and my own subjective and cultural values. It doesn't apply to anyone else.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  17. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    16,502
    It is if you are a creationist.
     
  18. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,864
    You have it backwards. What people say is, "Killing is wrong but in this particular case, I'm justified in doing it." Whether it's to save the world from communism or to save yourself from an attacker or just because you hate gays, it's the exceptions to the universal rule that make up moral relativism.
     
  19. Balerion Banned Banned

    Messages:
    8,596
    Actually, that's exactly what the moral relativist says. While killing may not align with their own personal moral code, the relativist recognizes that it does in other parts of the world, or other parts of their own society, and there are no universal truths against which these beliefs can be judged to determine which is objectively correct.

    I would think that's because most people believe in absolute morality. It's an easy assumption to make, given how we are all raised to believe in certain ideals and principles. Many people also believe the way they were raised by their parents is the only proper way to raise a child.

    How do you mean "extrapolate universally?" If you mean a moral principle I believe in that I don't think everyone should adhere to, I'd reckon there are plenty, since so many of them are situational. I wouldn't steal food, for example, but then I'm not starving. I wouldn't presume to tell someone who has five mouths to feed that they should adhere to my principles.

    It isn't a contradiction, because the central conceit of relativism is that there is no objective moral value to any action. Therefore, any moral judgment is based on subjective valuation. It's like saying something is "too hot." While this is subjectively true for you, it might not be true for someone else. This is how something exists as true and false at once. Same goes for morality; it's subjective, and therefore its status as good or bad is wholly dependant on the individual.

    As to how anyone can have a morality like that, I'm failing to see where the problem lies. Can you give me an example?

    Who says they don't? I believe that all women should be treated as equals to men, and all races as equal to each other.I believe this should apply across the board. I don't have to believe in some universal principle to hold that belief, nor do I have to accept the mistreatment of women and minorities simply because it's part of another culture's tradition.

    Because some people believe money corrupts. Some people believe that pursuing wealth only leads to further pursuit of wealth, and that no satisfaction is achieved because there is always more wealth to pursue. Other people believe that poverty is noble. There are any number of equally-valid moral stances that contradict your own.

    No, and I haven't the foggiest how you arrived at such a dubious non-sequitur.

    I'm saying that relativism is the recognition that morality is subjective rather than objective, and as such there are no universal moral truths. I'm not saying that you can't believe in what you believe in, or try to argue the merits of your beliefs. Indeed, I'm not saying that moral values don't have merit, I'm saying that those merits are subjective, based on your own values and not some universal code against which they can be judged.

    For all your talk of objective morality, you've yet to offer even one universal principe. Care to try, since it's the root of your beliefs?
     
  20. Balerion Banned Banned

    Messages:
    8,596
    Actually, no. Even presumed universal moral codes such as ones derived from religious texts accept that there are times when certain actions are acceptable and times when they aren't. Moral relativism is the understanding (or belief, if you want to call it that) that there is no objective moral value to any action, no higher power or function to determine such things.
     
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    Messages:
    8,596
    And what principle, exactly, makes bullying an objectively immoral act?
     
  22. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,864
    Sure. And the times when they aren't are where the relativity comes in. It's wrong to kill except when it isn't.

    The reason why there can never be a truly objective morality is because of the exceptions. For morality to be objective, all of the exceptions would need to be objective too and that isn't possible. There are too many potential situations to codify all of them.
     
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,532
    But even morally justifying an exception to a rule is just another form of absolutism. IOW, given this exact same situation for anyone else, it is morally justifiable to kill communists, gays, etc. You can't get away from the fact that every morally justified act, whether according to the rules or an exception to the rules, is a vote for the universality of that behavior. A man who thinks it justified to kill communists or gays invariable thinks everybody should kill communists or gays. It's just the nature of morality that when you justify an action on principle you are also justifying that principle for the rest of the human race.
     

Share This Page