posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 10:08 AM
I have seen a number of people on ATS remark that, in their view, absolute morality doesn't exist. That is to say that morality, which are the
principles and behaviours that we apply to determine what is right, and what is wrong, is fluid, and that there is no absolute (constant and
unchanging) right and wrong.
I'd like to discuss this, but, at least at the start here, let's not look to any speculation on the source of an absolute morality, because I think
that this instantly pushes people into corners, based on their beliefs. Let's just talk about whether such a thing exists.
To do so, a question. This is an offensive question, and you may dismiss it as an extreme, but bear with me, please.
1) Do you believe that it is acceptable to sexually molest children?
2) If it is not, do you believe that it was ever acceptable in the past to molest children?
3) If it is not, do you believe that conditions will ever change in the future to make it acceptable to molest children?
If your answer to all three of these questions is "no", you have demonstrated an absolute morality, from a personal perspective. You find the
sexual abuse of children to be morally repugnant, and you see nothing ever changing that view. If you answered "yes" to any of those, I would be
interested in your rationale, but we continue in the belief that most disagree with you.
You may wish to discount my questions because of the extreme nature of the moral ("Who could possibly agree with that?") but the point is that an
absolute does exist, and it is not a forced absolute, because there are people who DO believe it to be acceptable. Answering "no" to all three of
those questions nullifies your ability to claim that there are no absolute right and wrongs.
Now that we've seen that an absolute morality exists, one can extend that out to other things less extreme. Eventually, you will likely find your
way to an issue which does not result in three "no" (or "yes") answers, in which case you have identified a non-absolute morality. There are
more non-absolute moralities than absolute ones, which I suspect is why so many people remark that there are no absolutes (ha ha.) Societies changes,
perspectives change, various moral codes change, and this is reflected in an interpretation of what is right and wrong.
However, going back to our mutually agreed upon absolute morality, if one thinks of the sexual abuse of children, I, for one, am physically sickened
by the idea. It bothers me more than most other things that I can think of. But when I think back on my life, I can't remember anyone ever drilling
the lesson of how vile child abuse is into my head. Can't even remember anyone ever even discussing it to any degree. But I also can't think back
to a time in my life when I didn't find this behaviour horrifyingly repugnant.
My take away of that is that this particular absolute morality points to something which underlies it -- something which is a fundamental piece of who
I am, and which not only directs me to the absolute moral position on the subject of child abuse, but which makes me an extremist on the matter. So
I'm left to assume that my absolute morality is not a result of an adoption of a non-absolute morality, and that if I had grown up in a society where
child abuse was acceptable, I would still find it repugnant. Similarly, incest, rape, infanticide are among other acts that I have a revulsion to,
and would have a very difficult time justifying in any situation.
Now the last one, infanticide, is interesting. It is not uncommon for other species to kill their young who appear to be a likely "drag on the
system." If morals were simply an application of "what's best for us," one would think that even an intellectualized species would not shy away
from this. Civilization needs to be pretty far along before sufficient resources are available to care for non-sustaining group members. And yet,
this moral absolute once again seems fundamental, and seems to have been around for a very long time.
I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts, and particularly the thoughts of those who do not believe that absolute morality exists. Again, let's
shy away from trying to justify our position based on any beliefs regarding where morality comes from, at least initially.