It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

Absolute Morality: Does it exist?

page: 9
17
<< 6  7  8    10 >>

log in

join
share:

posted on Oct, 5 2010 @ 08:33 AM
link   

Originally posted by Astyanax
Societies do not collapse due to moral relativism. Societies are always more or less morally relativistic. That's because human beings are. It's our nature--though that doesn't make it right, or absolve us of the moral responsibility to behave fairly and without prejudice towards all.


Speaking from a personal perspective, your last bit there is, as I attempted to show earlier, a moral absolute that exists. Regardless of its source, we, as humans have something in us which defines a baseline right and wrong, a sense of fair play that causes us to feel bad when we hurt others or desire to protect those we consider to be innocent.

Society, as you note, holds no moral absolutes, which I again think is the interesting aspect of this whole notion. How do those whose application of their core beliefs, their personal absolutes, brings them into conflict with a society which frequently attempts to legislate morality and values, based solely on the standards of those in charge, or those with the loudest voices?

I believe we, as individuals, have moral absolutes and how we stand up for those beliefs, in an environment that conflicts with them, is a sign of our character.




posted on Oct, 5 2010 @ 04:55 PM
link   
reply to post by Astyanax
 


What you are describing as moral standards are not really morality issues, they are issues of social justice. Just because society says this party, gender, or class receives preferential treatment does not make it a moral standard. Morality knows no boundaries it is applied to all equally and fairly. Social injustices are on their own immoral because they do not treat individuals equally.

As to the second part maybe you need to reread what i wrote. Simply put what I said was that killing is an immoral action that is the foundation stone. Once you have placed it then comes the conditional morality. Where reason comes into play to make a condition where the defense of yourself or in the defense of someone else it would not be morally wrong to take a life ( you know mitigating circumstances). Do not confuse legality with morality, do not confuse justice with morality, and do not confuse societal behavior with morality these things are often not the same and in fact are frequently opposed to one another.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 03:47 AM
link   
reply to post by adjensen
 


How do those whose application of their core beliefs, their personal absolutes, brings them into conflict with a society which frequently attempts to legislate morality and values, based solely on the standards of those in charge?

I have lived with this issue for most of my adult life. My country offers constitutional preeminence to one religion, and both legislation and custom give special privilege to one particular ethnic group (with which the preferred religion is coterminous). I live in a very unfree Asian society that is nominally democratic but in fact a dictatorship of an ethnic majority. More recently, a family oligarchy, playing to the majority, has arrogated all real political power to itself. Dictatorship is a reality. Tyranny looms.

People like myself are considered colonial relics, pro-western fifth columnists or just educated fools, partly because of our belief in liberty and human rights. Those who stick their heads above the parapet are labelled traitors and suffer persecution. Those who cross the rulers directly suffer violence, imprisonment and expropriation. Those who ask too many questions wind up dead or simply disappear. I am not, believe me, exaggerating in the least.

To answer your question: we fight the battles we can win, which are few, do our best to spread our beliefs by precept and example, and struggle daily with the conflicting demands of safety and conscience.

It isn't really as terrifying, or as bleak, as it sounds, though. You get used to it.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 10:11 AM
link   

Originally posted by Astyanax
To answer your question: we fight the battles we can win, which are few, do our best to spread our beliefs by precept and example, and struggle daily with the conflicting demands of safety and conscience.

It isn't really as terrifying, or as bleak, as it sounds, though. You get used to it.


I commend you for that.

Though it doesn't compare, in a real sense, this is much the same perspective as a mainstream Christian in the United States faces. There is a misconception that pervades the majority view of America, that this is a "Christian" nation and that religious views are what motivates and guides us.

However, the reality is that nothing is further from the truth -- there are precious few in power who truly reflect the values and views of Christ's teachings, and, while both the Republican and Democratic parties lay claims that cater to the faithful, a truly faithful person realizes that neither side represents them at all. Fact of the matter is that politics and religion are two completely different things, and attempts to bring the two together are doomed to failure.

We live, unfortunately, in a society that fails to grasp that, while at the same time accepting it. Barack Obama is forced to profess his Christian faith because the beer swigging, foul mouthed "Christians" demand it. I don't care if he's a Christian, Muslim, atheist or follower of Thor, I care about how he runs this country, and the source of his values are of no importance, but their existence is. A thoughtful atheist or prayerful Hindu has more reliable values than a checkbox Christian, whose faith begins at 11AM on Sunday and ends an hour later.

To that end, I am, and have always been, a strict proponent of the separation of Church and State, and if a candidate claims to support "Christian values", it makes me scrutinize them all the more. I want the person who is most qualified to fill the position to get my vote, and claiming "Christian values", even if you really do have them, does not qualify you for office.

In this skewed society, which views itself Christian, but is inherently not, as a person of faith, my reaction is much the same as yours -- I live my life by Christ's teachings, do what I can to help fellow sojourners on their spiritual journeys, and allow the power of faith to help me reconcile living in a society that often promotes morality and direction which is not in harmony with my own, but which I must still live within the confines of.

Again, not, in any way, comparable to living conditions where you are, but I recognize and sympathize with the need to tuck ones beliefs under one's hat and do an awful lot of tongue holding, just to get through life.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 10:41 AM
link   
reply to post by adjensen
 


The entire post is a straw man.

There may be instances of absolute answers to moral questions, but that's confusing the entirety of morality with a single point.

Is it moral to kill one person to save two?
Which is more moral: to kill a child to save an adult or to kill an adult to save a child?
Which is more moral: to feed one starving child or another?

There may be certain moral baselines, but certain questions get into gray areas of morality. It may be immoral to molest a child, but that doesn't change the basis of the other questions.

I've actually seen the argument you've posted in a thread from when I first returned here after my absence, it was bunk then and it's bunk now.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 11:40 AM
link   

Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
There may be instances of absolute answers to moral questions, but that's confusing the entirety of morality with a single point.

Is it moral to kill one person to save two?
Which is more moral: to kill a child to save an adult or to kill an adult to save a child?
Which is more moral: to feed one starving child or another?


There's your moral relativist, Astyanax :-)

If you read the remainder of the thread, the OP is just a kicking off point. If there is absolute morality, there is no "more moral", there is simply moral or not. If there is absolute morality, it is not moral to kill one person to save two, any more than it is moral to kill two people to save one.

None of your questions address morality, rather, they address rationalization, which is the justification for having violated one's morality.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 02:57 PM
link   
reply to post by adjensen
 




I don't care if he's a Christian, Muslim, atheist or follower of Thor, I care about how he runs this country

my friend, politicians just have one religion: money & Power, more exactly, they can have only delusion of Power
politicians got to be clowns at the Theatre of farce or hard Absurd



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 05:34 PM
link   
reply to post by adjensen
 



Originally posted by adjensen
If you read the remainder of the thread, the OP is just a kicking off point. If there is absolute morality, there is no "more moral", there is simply moral or not. If there is absolute morality, it is not moral to kill one person to save two, any more than it is moral to kill two people to save one.


But it's quite easy to demonstrate that there isn't an absolute morality. I mean, the simple example would be that there has to be a gradation of morality for moral acts instead of immoral ones, as helping an old lady cross the street is moral but cannot be compared to sacrificing your life to save a drowning child.

Absolute morality would minimize the impact of the greatest of our moral actions.

I'd prefer to believe in (more or less) absolutely quantifiable morality. There aren't even shades of grey, everything is just a bunch of colors.



None of your questions address morality, rather, they address rationalization, which is the justification for having violated one's morality.


No, they create a situation where there is one action that is demonstrable less moral than another.

It's the often heard train tracks argument.

An oncoming train is approaching and you have a switch to flip its tracks. It is currently going to derail itself catastrophically because the switch is improperly set, killing the hundreds of people on board. There are three tracks. On the third track, which has 3 innocent people on it that are injured a
nd wouldn't be able to move by the time the train gets there. The second track has 2 innocent people on it that are similarly injured and track one has one innocent person that is similarly injured.

If you do not flip the switch, you are responsible for the deaths of hundreds.
If you do flip the switch, you are responsible for the death of 1, 2, or 3 people.

What would you do?

All actions would be immoral, but leaving the train to derail and kill hundreds would be less moral than allowing the train to kill 3, 2, or 1 innocent people.

That is not a rationalization issue. Flipping the switch would be an inherently moral situation. You'd be killing at least one person, but you would be saving the lives of hundreds.

If you were to say that those count as two separate actions, that saving the people and killing the one person are two separate acts, then you must ask yourself: Is killing the one person not better than killing three?
Also, I don't know how you can separate the acts. One is a logical consequence of the other.

And though this may seem like a hypothetical, I'm sure at least one person having to deal with railroads must have had to deal with a (far less extreme) version of this situation.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 06:22 PM
link   
reply to post by madnessinmysoul
 




But it's quite easy to demonstrate that there isn't an absolute morality

hmmm... there're some moments: to define morality needs to determine prime goals to exist whoever/whatever. if we're talking about existence of the Society, then prime goal is about its viability along maximal Time. however, if we had applied the same goal for single human, then very ugly (potential ugly) person would have been gotten

edit on 6-10-2010 by SarK0Y because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 09:58 PM
link   

Originally posted by madnessinmysoul
If you do not flip the switch, you are responsible for the deaths of hundreds.
If you do flip the switch, you are responsible for the death of 1, 2, or 3 people.


Nope, sorry. I, as switch holder, am not responsible for any of it. I did not create the run away train, I did not place people on the tracks.

The inherent problem of a theoretical like this is that it requires quantification of that which is inherently unquantifiable. To say that one life is worth less than two is a judgement that is impossible to make. One can make the argument that a careful valuation of the people is necessary, but this merely applies a value judgement which is similarly invalid.


That is not a rationalization issue. Flipping the switch would be an inherently moral situation. You'd be killing at least one person, but you would be saving the lives of hundreds.


Yes, it inherently is a rationalization. You, I, and everyone else (well, probably most people) would flip the switch to kill the one person, and then rationalize that it was better to kill one and save hundreds.

The reason that we need the rationalization is that we need to counter the absolute moral problem of having killed the one person. If we needed no justification of it, we'd simply flip the switch and accept the kudos of being hero of the day.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 10:08 PM
link   
reply to post by adjensen
 


I do not believe this to be true. I would think that we need to define "absolute" as to me there is no absolute anything. There is always "room" for discussion and maneuver.

If something can be challenged then it can not be absolute regardless of moral standings.

What is good for one may not be for another. Whether right or wrong, my moral may differ from yours.

Morality is a question of consequence of the initial act.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 10:23 PM
link   
www.proofthatgodexists.org...

Do not believe in absolute:
That statement in and of itself is absolute.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 10:28 PM
link   

Originally posted by slugger9787
www.proofthatgodexists.org...

Do not believe in absolute:
That statement in and of itself is absolute.


My favourite is "There are no absolutes." :-)

I want to say that comes from Ayn Rand, but I suspect that it does not.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 10:33 PM
link   

Originally posted by MrRed
What is good for one may not be for another. Whether right or wrong, my moral may differ from yours.


That is, I believe, the basic conflict. I have absolutes, you have absolutes, they are not in congruence (let's just assume that,) so what is the resolution? If there is not a common source of right and wrong, what decides what is right, what is wrong? Is it merely the loudest of us who does?



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 11:51 PM
link   
reply to post by adjensen
 


Might makes right.
He who is mightiest is rightest.



posted on Oct, 6 2010 @ 11:58 PM
link   

Originally posted by slugger9787
reply to post by adjensen
 


Might makes right.
He who is mightiest is rightest.


Meh. This is, practically, correct, but doesn't answer the basic question, unless you truly believe that "might makes right" is a truism (which implies that true morality is predicated on power.) I do not agree with this supposition.



posted on Oct, 7 2010 @ 04:15 AM
link   
reply to post by adjensen
 


There's your moral relativist, Astyanax :-)

Oh, I shouldn't like to think so. Madness and I are old friends and fellow-warriors in the cause of science and reason (welcome aboard, MIMS!
). It's easy enough to demonstrate that you, he and I are all arguing from the basis of a common morality, even if our moral codes may differ--for example, yours may include a definition of blasphemy, whereas his and mine would not. Yet we all agree, for example, that to take another's life is generally undesirable.

I reiterate my position, which is that the bases of morality, like the bases of the rest of the human extended phenotype, are biological. However, the 'morality' of biology is conditional and based on genetic relationships--one of its key precepts is 'love and help your kin, hate and fear strangers.' That is why I hold out for a distinction between morality and ethics.

I believe an absolute prescriptive ethics, founded in biological morality (because it has to be) but raised upon reason, is possible. I would be interested to hear what you and Madness have to say about that.

Of course, neither the train problem, nor the others you two have been discussing, really have a bearing on the question of whether absolute morality--or even an absolute ethics--exists. This is because human beings have limited foreknowledge. What if aboard the train is a future suicide-bomber whose auto-da-fé will cause the deaths of thousands? What if the woman the train mows down is just three steps away from devising an effective cure for AIDS? We should need to know the future histories of all parties concerned before we could make the decision that was 'right' in the end--and even then we'd be working on a set of moral assumptions, such as 'that which secures the greatest good for the greatest number is the most desirable outcome.' A moral relativist might not agree with this assumption. Frankly, I'm not sure even I do.


Originally posted by MrRed
There is no absolute anything. There is always "room" for discussion and maneuver.

There's my moral relativist, adjensen.
edit on 7/10/10 by Astyanax because: it rained buts.



posted on Oct, 7 2010 @ 04:17 AM
link   

Originally posted by adjensen
If there is not a common source of right and wrong, what decides what is right, what is wrong?

Ma Nature tends to get the casting vote in this kind of decision, don't you find?



posted on Oct, 7 2010 @ 09:01 AM
link   

Originally posted by Astyanax
Of course, neither the train problem, nor the others you two have been discussing, really have a bearing on the question of whether absolute morality--or even an absolute ethics--exists.


No, I don't think that it does either, and even beyond the lack of foresight -- as I said, even if you knew that the train was full of deranged lunatics and the people on the tracks were, I don't know, cancer researchers or doctors or something, deciding to kill the lunatics and save the "good" people requires a personal valuation that lunatics are worth less than cancer researchers.

If there wasn't something inherent in us that says "killing is bad", then, again, we'd flip the switch (even randomly, the number of people killed or saved wouldn't matter,) give it no more thought, and go and accept our humanitarian award. That's the absolute. How we deal with it in conflict, as the train bit poses, is rationalization.



posted on Oct, 7 2010 @ 09:12 AM
link   

Originally posted by Astyanax

Originally posted by adjensen
If there is not a common source of right and wrong, what decides what is right, what is wrong?

Ma Nature tends to get the casting vote in this kind of decision, don't you find?


No, I don't think that the physical environment is judgmental in the right and wrong sense, more the works / doesn't work sense, and we have evolved technologically to trump even that. There was a school of thought in Geography called Environmental Determinism, which said that the confines of the physical environment dictates what activities may take place there. One doesn't find orange trees in Manitoba, for example, because the climate prevents them from growing.

However, humans have the ability to use our technology to obviate this determinism. One can grow orange trees in Winterpeg, provided that they are indoors and carefully maintained. Environmental Determinism is replaced with Economic Determinism -- the only thing preventing you from growing oranges in Manitoba is whether you wish to pay the elevated cost of doing so.

But, in this example, nature no longer has a say in what works or doesn't work.




top topics



 
17
<< 6  7  8    10 >>

log in

join