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Moral absolutism or Moral relativism: Which one is more reasonable?

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posted on Nov, 24 2014 @ 11:41 PM
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Before I begin this thread, I would like to begin by asking anyone that participates to please first acknowledge what your system of morality you hold to. If you do not first establish your own view of morality then I will not respond to you regardless of what point you make.

As for me I am a moral absolutist. Now there are a couple of different subsets of absolutism, but I personally believe morality is to be explained in terms of God's nature and will rather than personal preference, social structures, or consensus.

Now that I have classified my view on morality I will first analyze the views that oppose moral absolutism:

Ethical relativism says that there are no valid universal moral principles, but rather all moral principles are valid relative to individual choice.

Cultural relativism says that each culture has a unique set principles and each culture thinks their moral values are right and others moral values are wrong

Moral skepticism says there are no valid moral principles and if there exist, that we cannot know that they are true.

Each of these morally relativistic views brings a very specific type of charge towards moral absolutism.

The ethical relativist says, "What is true for you may or may not be true for me, therefore morals are relative."

The Cultural relative says, "What is true for a Christian may or may not be true for a Muslim, therefore morals are relative."

The Moral Skeptic says, "Morals don't exist, if they do we don't know what they are."


Now lets examine each of these.

The ethical relativist confuse the idea of belief with the idea of truth. To better get this idea across: Person A believes there is life on Mars, and Person B believes there is no life on Mars. You could never say that There is life on mars is true for person A but not true for person B. Logically one person must be mistaken. Just because two people disagree on the truth of a fact doesn't mean that factual beliefs are relative. The same goes for moral beliefs. Just because two people disagree on a moral truth doesn't mean the moral truth doesn't exist. It just means one is right and one is wrong or both are wrong.

The cultural relativist falls into the same confusion as the ethical relativist. Also the cultural relativist must redefine "moral heroes" that went against the cultural norm as immoral people.(Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, ect.) Again just because a culture believes something does not result in truth.

The Moral skeptic normally enters with epistemological argument which behaves as a strawman as the argument for moral absolutism is an ontological argument not an epistemological argument. However once this problem is solved there is an ontological argument that can be produced : Moral knowledge does not exist a person could not recommend any moral action above another which means that it could not be said that one must be tolerant of others’ moral opinions.

The problem with the Moral skeptics argument is as soon as he poses it I steal his wallet cell phone and keys. When he gets upset rather than tolerate my moral opinion it will show that he lives inconsistently with his belief. If he was truly a moral skeptic he wouldn't get angry or disapprove of my actions because he could make no judgment as to the thief's moral actions or beliefs.

If moral relativism and moral skepticism is false then their negation must be true.




posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 04:36 AM
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a reply to: ServantOfTheLamb

i refuse to tell you what my position is - because i suspect you are following a script

but riddle me this [ OP or any other moral absolutists ]

i can show that there are no moral absolutes , with the following :

if you are claiming a code of moral absolutes , then the directive :

do not do "A" , or "A" is wrong

must be inviolate for it to be a moral abaolute

when you quantify it with the clause :

do not do " A " unless " X" . or " A" is wrong , unless "X"

then "A" is no longer an absolute it is a relative position subject to modifiers ie "X"

thus moral absolutism just failed



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 04:38 AM
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a reply to: ServantOfTheLamb

Which is more reasonable? The God of all creation defies all of what mortal men with a human intellect see as "reasonable".

The God of all creation is the God of all creation - He says of HIMSELF HE confounds the wise...

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?


I say to you now, you cannot understand what I would tell you. It is all true.
edit on 25-11-2014 by OpinionatedB because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 04:57 AM
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originally posted by: ServantOfTheLamb
Before I begin this thread, I would like to begin by asking anyone that participates to please first acknowledge what your system of morality you hold to.

I'm assuming you're referring to the epistemology of morality as opposed to 'how I think of' morality?

I point this out because these two things can be separated, despite the later claim:


The problem with the Moral sceptics argument is as soon as he poses it I steal his wallet cell phone and keys. When he gets upset rather than tolerate my moral opinion it will show that he lives inconsistently with his belief.

This claim does not refute moral scepticism, since one can raise doubts about common moral beliefs without giving up their own system of morality. There is no 'call to action' from this claim. The claim is not:

1. There are doubts about objective moral values
2. Therefore I shouldn't expect anyone to behave in a moral way
3. Therefore I shouldn't be angry when someone steals my stuff

Even something like Cartesian scepticism (no one can know anything) doesn't then automatically lead to a call to action. "Oh gee, I can't know anything, better set fire to the house!"

For the record I believe that as far as our life spans are concerned there are 'objective' (moral) values for most members of most species in some way or sense. They might change in a few hundred thousand years, but for the most part social creatures reciprocate to one another, they understand fairness, they recognize various traits as beneficial etc ... As situations become more complex they get more relative in that there is more possible 'acceptable' answers and probably more 'wrong' ones as well. It's not complete relativism though, as it's pretty obvious that humans and animals don't have full choice over their moral behaviours. I can't wake up for example and simply 'decide' to have a completely different morality without carving out part of my brain. It's not within my means outside of surgery.

Celestial moral absolutism begins to fall apart for me when we realize that we can condition people to be evil or simply remove or disable part of their brain to that end. For moral absolutism to be true in this instance we require either complete control of ourselves or a celestial referee to adjudicate. We obviously don't have complete control or biology would not have this impact upon us, and it is nonsensical for a perfect being to create a creature with this type of biological flaw and then judge it based on decisions it didn't make which it could not make because it was born differently from another set of creatures.

If there was some convincing way to solve this problem I'd probably consider theistic morality, but I'm yet to see resolutions to it without invoking views which contradict science or turn God into a less than perfect being. I guess that's one other resolution, if God exists the being is not perfect!



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 05:55 AM
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a reply to: ServantOfTheLamb

I'm a moral nihilist.


If moral relativism and moral skepticism is false then their negation must be true.


No, just no. The fact that people can project their own insecurities onto the universe doesn't make them true. I'm not even going to go so far as to say moral relativism has any merit.


Moral knowledge does not exist a person could not recommend any moral action above another which means that it could not be said that one must be tolerant of others’ moral opinions.



When he gets upset rather than tolerate my moral opinion it will show that he lives inconsistently with his belief.


Those two statements are in direct opposition with each other.


If he was truly a moral skeptic he wouldn't get angry or disapprove of my actions because he could make no judgment as to the thief's moral actions or beliefs.


You're mistaking morals for emotions. The ability to feel is distinct from the ability to be a hypocrite. I can be pissed off without shouting at leprechauns to curse you to Tartarus forevermore.



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 06:26 AM
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I'll just put it out there that I'm agnostic, or rather hold no value in traditional religions, but don't discount the idea of something more we cannot comprehend (not an atheist, and I prefer not to hold myself to a category), so without saying I believe that morals are ethically relative. I would go to say that they are developed through evolutionary processes, by which outsiders (such as psychopaths), who cannot cognitively produce a basic morality, have not done too well for themselves. This is seen all over the animal kingdom. Is there benefit in absolute morality governed by ancient doctrine? Perhaps, however it severely limits the freedom of human beings on the basis of some deities assumed preferences of morality. Even if there were a god, morality could only be assumed, given that no human can communicate with them. If I were to look at the planet earth and assume that there is an absolute morality based on gods will, I would believe that they have a wicked sense of humor.
edit on 25-11-2014 by Acronychal because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 08:34 AM
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I really don't care if you answer me or not. You know my stance by now.

"Morals" and "Ethics" came from the need for humans to live and work together so the species could survive and thrive. Period. The group agrees certain rules will apply to everyone, and their will be penalty against the individual who breaks the rules, because in so doing, said individual threatens and/or invalidates the agreement. Simple. Nothing complicated about it until...

...the greatest tool of oppression humans have have ever known was introduced into the equation. Religion.



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 08:41 AM
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I believe for a properly functioning and non destructive society moral absolutes are necessary. These absolutes must also be derived from a coherent worldview.

IMO Dr. Ravi Zacharias nails it in this video:



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 09:05 AM
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a reply to: ServantOfTheLamb

I think we have a false dilemma. Logic can derive certain "truths" about the human condition if we accept the premise of a shared objective reality. From that, we can infer certain natural rights, but these are very limited. For me, that is the full scope of "moral absolutism."

Things like, "Is homosexuality appropriate," or "Should we eat shellfish," exist in a large moral grey area of "victimless vices," and I believe these should never, ever, ever be proscribed by any government, although people should be able to voluntarily follow these if they so choose. So, these things fall under "moral relativism."

In reality, the entire thing falls under the study of ethics, where it most properly belongs, and if people can rise above simple rules or codes to understand ethics and the issues surrounding fairness and justice, I think we can largely abandon most rules entirely. When you approach things from that direction rules like refusing to drink alcohol ever begin to seem kind of primitive in contrast. Sorry, perhaps I am permitting my bias to show here. ;p



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 03:18 PM
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a reply to: ignorant_ape

Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:23

"I have the right to do anything," you say--but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"--but not everything is constructive."

We can do anything, but not everything is beneficial. Some things bring unnecessary pain and suffering.

There are many religious rules, but there are general universals to morality, such as the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do to you) or The Silver Rule (An it harm none, do what ye will).

Just for those who are into scripture and want a biblical perspective:

"The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not covet," and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself" - Romans 13:9

"For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." - Galatians 5:14



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 05:38 PM
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a reply to: ignorant_ape




i refuse to tell you what my position is - because i suspect you are following a script


I'm not following a script. I asked someone to verify there position because I don't want them arguing from multiple stand points. I want them to stick to there world view. If they change there mind on which view is correct then they should let the other speaker know their opinion has changed.




i can show that there are no moral absolutes , with the following : if you are claiming a code of moral absolutes , then the directive : do not do "A" , or "A" is wrong must be inviolate for it to be a moral abaolute when you quantify it with the clause : do not do " A " unless " X" . or " A" is wrong , unless "X"


First this is a strawman. This is an epistemological argument. I mentioned in the OP that the argument I posed was ontological argument. Second, "do not do "A" , or "A" is wrong MUST BE INVIOLATE for it to be a moral absolute" is a false delimma. Third, You have presented an argument from the moral view of an ethical relativist, and fallen into the exact same confusion mentioned in the OP. You have confused Belief with Truth.

Let me show you by put your argument into practice:

Statement A: Lying Statement X:innocent lives are saved

Lying is wrong.(This does not have to be inviolate, a person can choose to do an immoral act even if they consider it immoral)

P.S> I misread Lying is wrong must be inviolate for it to be a moral absolute is true, but this again is epistemological. You are saying a moral absolutist must know all moral absolutes this is not true. Moral knowledge is discovered.

Lying is wrong unless Innocent lives are saved.

I will counter this statement by presenting you with:

Lying is wrong even if innocent lives are saved.
Murder is wrong too.

Just because a person has a choice between one immoral action and another immoral action and chooses one virtue to uphold over another doesn't mean moral truths are not there.




then "A" is no longer an absolute it is a relative position subject to modifiers ie "X"


This is what shows your argument is epistemological. You are saying we know A is wrong in the situation or right in another because of X. You are not telling us why(ontological) we should believe A is relative to X.

Now to your confusion of belief and truth.

If a person believes A is true in this situation but if modified by a belief about situation X, then the belief of A becomes false. The persons beliefs about a moral fact regardless of circumstance never has any weight on the truth value in the same way that a persons beliefs about a physical fact holds no weight on its truth value.
edit on 25-11-2014 by ServantOfTheLamb because: Added PS statement



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 05:47 PM
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a reply to: OpinionatedB

1 Corinthians 1
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Read 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 you'll see that those chapters are teaching true wisdom comes from God through belief in Christ.

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.




Which is more reasonable? The God of all creation defies all of what mortal men with a human intellect see as "reasonable".



Knowledge starts and ends with God friend. How does the God of all creation defy reason? Don't make big ole claims like that and do absolutely nothing to back it up.



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 06:04 PM
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a reply to: Pinke




I'm assuming you're referring to the epistemology of morality as opposed to 'how I think of' morality?


Well the argument posed in the OP is an ontological argument. Epistemology of morality and "how you think of morality" are the same thing. Ontology deals with existence. The part you quoted from me was asking everyone to state their ontological moral view. Are the relative or absolute or not at all?




This claim does not refute moral scepticism, since one can raise doubts about common moral beliefs without giving up their own system of morality


Oh it most certainly does. As a moral skeptic claims there is no moral knowledge to be had. He cannot make moral judgements, but everyone makes moral judgments when they are the ones being wronged. The moment a moral skeptic claims moral knowledge his is living inconsistently with his belief.(see why this view is silly
)




For the record I believe that as far as our life spans are concerned there are 'objective' (moral) values for most members of most species in some way or sense.


This statement makes absolutely no sense lol. You believe there are objective moral fact FOR most...I don't think you know what objective means. If something is objective true it is always true for all things.



. As situations become more complex they get more relative in that there is more possible 'acceptable' answers and probably more 'wrong' ones as well.


You are confusing belief with truth. Just because you believe the situation changes the truth of a moral fact doesn't mean your right.



Celestial moral absolutism begins to fall apart for me when we realize that we can condition people to be evil or simply remove or disable part of their brain to that end


You don't know people can be conditioned to exist without any morals whatsoever . Second evil people does nothing to tear apart my belief in moral absolutism.



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 06:18 PM
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a reply to: zackli




I'm a moral nihilist.


This implies moral Skepticism. Moral Nihilist produce the ontological argument of the moral Skeptic mentioned in the OP.


"Moral knowledge does not exist a person could not recommend any moral action above another which means that it could not be said that one must be tolerant of others’ moral opinions"

The moment you bring a moral charge against another person you lose this argument, because in that instance you claimed moral knowledge and acted upon it. I don't have to know you to know that you have already done that. Your human.

Not only that, but the Moral Skeptics(Moral nihilist) argument is self-refuting. They claim to have the moral knowledge that no moral knowledge exist.




No, just no. The fact that people can project their own insecurities onto the universe doesn't make them true. I'm not even going to go so far as to say moral relativism has any merit.


Yes, just yes. I agree just because people can make moral claims doesn't make their moral claim true, but it does show that either one statement is true and the other false or both are false. Even if both are false that is still a moral truth in itself and demonstrates moral absolutes perfectly.




Moral knowledge does not exist a person could not recommend any moral action above another which means that it could NOT be said that one must be tolerant of others’ moral opinions.


You added the word not here, and I understand why you think that is so, but you misunderstand your own world view. As a moral nihilist you have no moral knowledge, therefore you should never make a moral claim and if someone comes up and starts stealing all of your stuff what kind of knowledge tells you what they are doing is something you shouldn't like?



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 06:32 PM
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a reply to: Acronychal




If I were to look at the planet earth and assume that there is an absolute morality based on gods will, I would believe that they have a wicked sense of humor.


Why? If absolute morality is based on God's will but humans can choose their will over God's will what does planet earth and our choices have to do with God's will?




Is there benefit in absolute morality governed by ancient doctrine?


Morality is intrinsically known in my world view. The Bible mentions moral aspects of reality, but ultimately I believe a person discovers morality as they experience Life. Sometime they will make choices they think are right and find out later they were wrong. I believe a person can recognize morality because we were originally created in God's image and Absolute Goodness is part of his Nature.




I would go to say that they are developed through evolutionary processes, by which outsiders (such as psychopaths), who cannot cognitively produce a basic morality, have not done too well for themselves.


Psychopaths haven't done so well? That may be true for some, but I am sure there are some who are happy as can be. If morals come from "evolutionary processes"(which then I would require proof that morals evolved in humans rather than being there from the beginning) then no one person has the ability to choose what they believe is right or wrong. The chemical reactions in your brain determine your morality.



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 06:38 PM
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I don't believe there's any such thing as empirical morality. If there were, we'd see it demonstrated in the natural universe.

Can you give me an example of something that is objectively and empirically immoral for all things, always, under all circumstances?



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 06:38 PM
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a reply to: Nechash




Things like, "Is homosexuality appropriate," or "Should we eat shellfish," exist in a large moral grey area of "victimless vices," and I believe these should never, ever, ever be proscribed by any government, although people should be able to voluntarily follow these if they so choose. So, these things fall under "moral relativism."


None of those things are relative.

Is homosexuality immoral or moral or neither?
Only one of those three statements is true: if one is true the others are false and if two are false one is true. So the fact of this statement is that there is a moral truth behind it. Regardless of which fact is true logically only one is true.



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 06:44 PM
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a reply to: windword




I don't believe there's any such thing as empirical morality. If there were, we'd see it demonstrated in the natural universe.


Why does morality(an abstract concept) have to be empirically verifiable? Can you empirically verify the that all things must be empirically verifiable?




Can you give me an example of something that is objectively and empirically immoral for all things, always, under all circumstances?


An unloving action.



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 06:55 PM
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a reply to: ServantOfTheLamb

Following your premise, I would choose that homosexuality is neither immoral or moral, but amoral. It makes no difference ethically whether you sleep with men or women as long as the situation is voluntary. Other people would disagree with me, so then it becomes a matter of opinion. That is why ethics is important. Even if you reduce things down to a true relativism where morality is based upon the value of human life and happiness, there will always be those nihilists who assert that life is meaningless and thus morality is merely a psychological construct.

The ethical person will realize, in my opinion, that whether homosexuality is moral, immoral or amoral, it is victimless and thus should be left entirely to the realm of personal preference.



posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 06:55 PM
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a reply to: ServantOfTheLamb




An unloving action.


What is that? Does such a thing exist? Can you give me an example of an "unloving action". Doesn't even hate and fear come from a place of self preservation, or self love?




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