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Absolute Morality: Does it exist?

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posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 10:08 AM
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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.




posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 10:35 AM
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Originally posted by adjensen
1) Do you believe that it is acceptable to sexually molest children?

That depends on how old they are. I believe that the age of consent could reasonably be lowered to around 14 or so.


2) If it is not, do you believe that it was ever acceptable in the past to molest children?

Pederasty was and in some areas still is an accepted practice, and young girls used to be married off regularly (and in some places sill are). So yes, basically.


3) If it is not, do you believe that conditions will ever change in the future to make it acceptable to molest children?

I don't know, it depends what discoveries we make about the immature Human brain in the future.

As to the rest of your post, many people believe in absolutes somewhere or other. There are no absolute (or objective) moral standards for society, however, since morality is subjective.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 10:46 AM
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Although I think your example is a good one, it is just one example, and I'm afraid there are tons of subjects where you can not give a yes or no answer.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 11:09 AM
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I would say yes in suitably extreme circumstances, for example during the rape of Nanking there were cases where family members were forced to rape other family members and to refuse would have led to death. I say this is acceptable though only because I can’t understand the pressures of someone in this situation and I can’t therefore morally condemn them for their actions.

But I don't really think the question is all that valuable since although you can always contrive an ever more extreme action you can also come up with ever more extreme circumstances that could allow it.

I think there are some absolute moral ideals but these can be pushed and stretched so that in sufficiently extreme conditions it is considered acceptable to break them.

I would also say that people can believe that they have personal moral absolutes but without these morals being tested they can never know for sure if they would actually hold to them. Since one’s morals can never be tested in their totality then genuine moral absolutism, even when confined to the individual, cannot exist.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:06 PM
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Originally posted by adjensen
1) Do you believe that it is acceptable to sexually molest children?


just for sum troll. . .

Wasn't there a thread where a US Judge OKs confession extracted by threatening suspect with rape (on children). Lots of ppl defending it there because it was linked to terrorism.

---

According to some Americans anything sexual under the age of 18 is raping children or sexually molesting.

How old was Mary at the time she was chosen? "Four; and, as ye would call, between twelve and thirteen when designated as the one chosen by the angel on the stair."

Certain people try to rationalize this by saying we cannot possibly know and to speculate "is wrong", for reasons I can only conjecture. They adamantly claim she was 16, sometimes 18 or older. Why specifically those ages I don't know it seems to correlate on where their chosen U.S. state allocates the age of consent. Those same people try to belittle islam because supposedly their prophet married a 9 year old. (supposedly though they do not condone sexual relations until 13)... They pull this out as some proof that mohammad was a child rapist etc.

How old do you think Mary was when she became pregnant with Jesus?
www.google.co.uk...

---



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:09 PM
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I say no to all 3. I am a victim of child abuse....coming to face this after all these years has not been fun. I believe there is a moral absolute. There can only be one truth.



14 the age of consent? really?? these people can't even drive yet! LOL



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:10 PM
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reply to post by igor_ats
 


Mary was a virgin....whats your point again?



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:23 PM
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Originally posted by adjensen
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?


No, No and No!

1) Do you believe that it is acceptable to assassinate the US president?
2) If it is not, do you believe that it was ever acceptable in the past to assassinate the US president?
3) If it is not, do you believe that conditions will ever change in the future to make it acceptable to assassinate the US president?

In some cases a "yes" answer to the above would not only be immoral, but, depending on context illegal.




posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:32 PM
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Originally posted by The Endtime Warrior
reply to post by igor_ats
 


Mary was a virgin....whats your point again?
that ppl get married at ages that would make them "rapists" today. Did you not read the Mohammed part?

When Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law, Matthew says that Joseph was making the decision to divorce Mary, presumably on account of her porneia, fornication. So I guess he didn't think she was abstinent.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:33 PM
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Originally posted by The Endtime Warrior
reply to post by igor_ats
 


Mary was a virgin....whats your point again?


Well, so they say.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:34 PM
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reply to post by igor_ats
 


Again, she was a virgin...if you don't believe she was a virgin, but rather, raped by God, then you have a point.

Mohammed proves nothing. There was no virginal birth involved in that.

Please don't equate Mary's virgin birth with child molestation...not exactly the same thing



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:35 PM
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I believe that Absolute Truth is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, that absolute morality exists, that it is written in every heart that they know what is right and what is wrong, no matter how much they justify it or excuse it, or deny it for themselves.

Moral Relativity gives people the excuse that "What is right for you, morally, may not be right for me, morally".

Moral Relativity and secular humanism are what is destroying our civilization.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:39 PM
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reply to post by LeftWingLarry
 


ya, he said, she said, they said....
its the bible, what was written, is Mary was a virgin....
if you want to argue otherwise then lets start on another thread of whether or not Jesus existed



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:42 PM
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term Morality correlates with religious conceptions very toughly -- to ans OP question, we must understand prime goal of Religion per se. humans needs Religion to separate off Good & Bad from each other. in short words, Religion defines stability of Social System & only Stable Social System can produce Most Advanced Science



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:47 PM
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Originally posted by The Endtime Warrior
Mohammed proves nothing. There was no virginal birth involved in that.


Strawman. The point is that ppl get married at ages that would make them "rapists" or "child molesters" today. Consider the age of consent in some U.S. states and what you get charged with for breaking them. The end point is that morality changes with time. Even the most heinous crimes such as murder. The God of the old Testament was quite fond of wiping out alot of ppl as he sees fit as one of his few anecdotes.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:49 PM
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I agree when you say most people would say no to all of your questions but there is always the one who says yes....

The one who says yes experiance a different reality (morality) than most of us.

If a person is raised in a community in which sex with childeren is accepted and considered something normal you can guess what the answer will be to your questions. No matter if that person has the taste for children or not.

So, you can say that morality depend on the norm which society agreed upon.

It will be hard to find absolute morality on a particular subject..



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:55 PM
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reply to post by igor_ats
 


I concede the "mohammed" point, however comparing mary's "calling" from God is not the same thing as child abuse, which is what I took your OP to be stating.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:57 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Human life comes with a built in set of unwritten parameters and rules representing an intelligent natural order.
There are of course aberrations of humanity, morally void either absolutely or partially.
The large majority of humans will do the right thing if left on their own unless they have been deliberately swayed from an inherent perspective of decency, by the dominating will and outside influence of another human.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 12:57 PM
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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?


This is by far one of my favorite subjects (absolute vs relative moralism). In response to your example:

1) No, I don't. But please define to me what a child is and what the basis of that determination is.
2) Yes, I do. Because sex is only a "evil, naughty, or special" thing in our current culture. It has not always been such a "holy" thing.
3) Yes, I do. Because I believe in the cyclical nature of events, I am pretty confident that cultures will change again to one day make sex as normal a thing as eating and bathing.

Moralism is defined by cultural traditions and practices. Differant cultures produce differant morals.

I have a very simple set of morals to follow:

1) Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.
2) You can do anything you want so long as you are willing to accept the consequences for your actions.


#2 has pretty far reaching implications, as well. I will not, for example, go around breaking laws willy nilly because I do not wish to deal with the consequences brough on by getting caught. I also would not want to impose the results of those consequences to my family and friends who depend on me.



posted on Sep, 5 2010 @ 01:11 PM
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As with most litmus testing, the method here is somewhat questionable - as pointed out (somewhat obliquely) by several respondents above.

The underlying flaw in the methodology is that the term "molest children" is completely subjective: many respondents substituted the term "abuse" in their responses, further emphasizing the subjective nature of the question. Additionally, only the first question specified "sexually molest children", leaving the applicability of the "sexual" component implicit upon the reader to determine.

Female circumcision is considered barbaric, but is an accepted tribal practice within the bound of those tribal cultures. Male circumcision doesn't carry the same moral weight.

Argue. Justify. Wash-Rinse-Repeat.

Attempting to validate or assess "absolute morality" is neither realistic nor possible regardless of the question whether or not it actually exists.

gj





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