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Why is moral relativism such a bad thing?

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  • #76
    Originally posted by Stoic View Post

    I'm not sure "rational" is an adjective that can apply to a society. I think it would be irrational for an individual to want to be part of such a society, unless maybe he was bigger and stronger than everyone else, or at least part of a group that could take over.

    But I don't see how your question is relevant to the discussion.
    I think most people would not consider the society I described as morally rational. So to Kant's second premise: moral behavior is only rational if justice will be done.
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

    Comment


    • #77
      Originally posted by seer View Post
      BTW - you never showed which horn of dilemma Christians were impaled on.
      Again you show that you don't understand how logic works. In a dilemma, they get to choose which horn to be impaled on, that's what makes it a dilemma. It's not for me to "show" which horn they're impaled on.

      And if such a creator did exist your moral sense could no more rise above his than a stream could rise above its source.
      Well that is the clearest answer you've ever given on the subject, so thanks at least for picking a horn of the dilemma for once.

      Comment


      • #78
        Originally posted by Starlight View Post
        Again you show that you don't understand how logic works. In a dilemma, they get to choose which horn to be impaled on, that's what makes it a dilemma. It's not for me to "show" which horn they're impaled on.
        Obviously Star if you can not show which horn we are impaled on you have no argument. That sir is basic logic.

        Well that is the clearest answer you've ever given on the subject, so thanks at least for picking a horn of the dilemma for once.
        Do you even know what you are talking about? Which horn does my statement refer to? Be specific please.

        Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

        Comment


        • #79
          Originally posted by seer View Post

          I think most people would not consider the society I described as morally rational. So to Kant's second premise: moral behavior is only rational if justice will be done.
          Yeah, I already answered that.

          Personally, I'm not sure that moral behavior is always rational. But it can be rational even if you aren't absolutely sure that justice will be done. And of course, justice can be done even if God does not exist.

          Comment


          • #80
            Originally posted by Stoic View Post

            Yeah, I already answered that.

            Personally, I'm not sure that moral behavior is always rational. But it can be rational even if you aren't absolutely sure that justice will be done. And of course, justice can be done even if God does not exist.
            OK, so you hold that in fact morality can be irrational. And we know that countless human being over history have escaped justice. Are those situations morally rational?
            Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

            Comment


            • #81
              Originally posted by seer View Post

              OK, so you hold that in fact morality can be irrational. And we know that countless human being over history have escaped justice. Are those situations morally rational?
              I think you will have to define "morally rational".

              The fact that moral behavior can be irrational does not mean that it isn't rational most of the time.

              And the fact that many human beings have escaped justice does not mean that human beings are not often brought to justice.

              Comment


              • #82
                Originally posted by Stoic View Post
                It sounds like you are saying that the consequences of moral relativism would be bad, therefore moral relativism is false. Which would be a fallacy.
                Correct... if that was what I was saying. I was addressing the OP. Why is MR bad?

                If I was to say why I think MR is false, it would be because I believe there are objectively true moral values.

                None of my previous post was an argument against MR. I was answering the OP, which I take to be a question about the consequences of MR..


                Originally posted by Stoic
                If MR is true, we still have the Golden Rule, the Categorical Imperative, the veil of ignorance, etc.

                Now, an individual might disregard these moral principles, or he may use them to come to a different conclusion (e.g. I would love to be tortured, so it's okay for me to torture people). But the same is true for any absolute morality (I agree with you that morality is absolute, but I disagree with you about what it says).

                The bad consequences of moral relativism would only be apparent if most people couldn't come to the same conclusion using the principles above. But it turns out that in most cases, most of us agree.

                And even if that wasn't the case, it would be fallacious to argue from that that moral relativism is false.

                If MR is true, then none of those principles are objectively true. Ergo, there is no necessary common ground upon which to build real communication. If MR is true, anyone can hold or reject any moral principle for any reason at all, or for nor reason. And they are not rationally wrong to do so. Nor are they wrong in point of fact.

                There used to be a poster here (Carpedm) - lovely chap - who held to MR. Which made many conversations with him pointless, especially those about politics and social issues. Because (as he acknowledged) he was appealing to his personal subjective preferences when arguing for or against a policy etc. That was all there was, all he could appeal to in his worldview. MR eats away every other possible ground for holding a view except personal preference and appeals to force. Hence the death of real communication.

                If there are objective morals, then we can appeal to them as the basis for holding (or rejecting) a particular policy. We are pointing to a feature of objective reality (a moral principle) that people should account for in constructing their beleifs and actions. If someone refuses to hold that moral principle, then they are objectively wrong. Hence there is an underlying moral framework that can be the basis of real communication.
                ...>>> Witty remark or snarky quote of another poster goes here <<<...

                Comment


                • #83
                  Originally posted by MaxVel View Post

                  Correct... if that was what I was saying. I was addressing the OP. Why is MR bad?

                  If I was to say why I think MR is false, it would be because I believe there are objectively true moral values.

                  None of my previous post was an argument against MR. I was answering the OP, which I take to be a question about the consequences of MR..
                  Okay, understood.


                  If MR is true, then none of those principles are objectively true. Ergo, there is no necessary common ground upon which to build real communication.
                  If MR is false, there is no necessary common ground upon which to build real communication.

                  In practice, there tends to be common ground whether MR is true or false.

                  If MR is true, anyone can hold or reject any moral principle for any reason at all, or for nor reason. And they are not rationally wrong to do so. Nor are they wrong in point of fact.
                  People tend to hold or reject moral principles because they do or don't make sense to them, whether MR is true or not.

                  And if MR is false, two people disagreeing means that at least one of them is objectively wrong. But there doesn't appear to be any objective way to decide which one it is.

                  There used to be a poster here (Carpedm) - lovely chap - who held to MR. Which made many conversations with him pointless, especially those about politics and social issues. Because (as he acknowledged) he was appealing to his personal subjective preferences when arguing for or against a policy etc. That was all there was, all he could appeal to in his worldview. MR eats away every other possible ground for holding a view except personal preference and appeals to force. Hence the death of real communication.
                  In such conversations, it shouldn't matter whether either person holds to MR. You either hold certain moral principles in common, or you don't. And this is true either way.

                  If there are objective morals, then we can appeal to them as the basis for holding (or rejecting) a particular policy.
                  You can appeal to them, and hope that others agree with you, same as if there are no objective morals.

                  We are pointing to a feature of objective reality (a moral principle) that people should account for in constructing their beleifs and actions. If someone refuses to hold that moral principle, then they are objectively wrong.
                  Either they are objectively wrong, or you are. And no objective way to come to agreement.

                  Hence there is an underlying moral framework that can be the basis of real communication.
                  There can be an underlying moral framework with or without objective morals.

                  Comment


                  • #84
                    Originally posted by seer View Post
                    Obviously Star if you can not show which horn we are impaled on you have no argument. That sir is basic logic.
                    Why do you even bother to post when you're so ignorant about the basics of logic as to write garbage like this?

                    Which horn does my statement refer to?
                    You appear to be opting for the "anything God commands is 'right', because God commands it" option.

                    I do think that if you want to try and argue in the directions you seem to typically want to argue in, that that's a good choice for you to be making.

                    I think in general though, with a moral system like that, you'd be better trying to emphasize its emotional appeal rather than logical proofs.
                    Last edited by Starlight; 05-31-2021, 11:11 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                      You appear to be opting for the "anything God commands is 'right', because God commands it" option.

                      I do think that if you want to try and argue in the directions you seem to typically want to argue in, that that's a good choice for you to be making.

                      I think in general though, with a moral system like that, you'd be better trying to emphasize its emotional appeal rather than logical proofs.
                      Of course everything God commands is right, but that is not the objection in the Euthrypo dilemma. It doesn't speak to whether the command is right or wrong, but that the commands would be arbitrary. One day, for instance, He could deem that lying is moral, the next that lying is immoral. But no Christin believes that since His commands are grounded in His immutable moral character. God couldn't violate what He is and suddenly decide that lying was a moral good. So the charge of arbitrariness fails.

                      Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                      Comment


                      • #86
                        Originally posted by Stoic View Post
                        Okay, understood.



                        If MR is false, there is no necessary common ground upon which to build real communication.

                        In practice, there tends to be common ground whether MR is true or false.

                        Perhaps, but that's because (a) many people claim MR, but don't actually follow through - they argue as if morals were objective; and (b) the common ground is on things outside the purview of morality.


                        Originally posted by Stoic
                        People tend to hold or reject moral principles because they do or don't make sense to them, whether MR is true or not.

                        And if MR is false, two people disagreeing means that at least one of them is objectively wrong. But there doesn't appear to be any objective way to decide which one it is.
                        True, but not really relevant, since the difference is whether those principles can be claimed to be objectively true, or not.

                        I'm not sure exactly what you mean by your last sentence above.



                        Originally posted by Stoic
                        In such conversations, it shouldn't matter whether either person holds to MR. You either hold certain moral principles in common, or you don't. And this is true either way.


                        You can appeal to them, and hope that others agree with you, same as if there are no objective morals.

                        Well, if someone holds to MR, even if they hold to the same principles as someone else, it's by coincidence, and they have nothing that compels them to maintain those principles - no logical or moral fault applies if they abandon, change or reverse any moral principle.



                        Originally posted by Stoic
                        Either they are objectively wrong, or you are. And no objective way to come to agreement.


                        There can be an underlying moral framework with or without objective morals.

                        Show me how there is no objective way to come to an agreement (if morals are objective), please.

                        Maybe, but only within particular groups, and then there's no rational claim on someone outside that group- or inside it, for that matter, if they choose not to follow the group's subjective morals.

                        Maybe this helps - imagine a conversation between two fans of a team - say the mighty San Antonio Spurs. One is a fan because they appreciate the style of play, team ethos, and the history - Gervin, Robinson, Duncan the GOAT, Manu, Tony Parker, etc. Multiple championships. They love the tactics, know the plays, appreciate good team defense, and so on. The other is a fan because they like the music played during the games, and like the team colours, silver and black. That's it. They don't even know the player's names, or what's the difference between a three pointer and a layup. And they don't want to know.

                        Of course they can talk about the Spurs, but how deeply can they communicate? They're both fans, sure, Go Spurs Go!, but there is almost nothing they hold in common.
                        ...>>> Witty remark or snarky quote of another poster goes here <<<...

                        Comment


                        • #87
                          Originally posted by MaxVel View Post
                          Perhaps, but that's because (a) many people claim MR, but don't actually follow through - they argue as if morals were objective; and (b) the common ground is on things outside the purview of morality.
                          a) They don't act as if morals were objective; they act as if we share common moral principles, such as the Golden Rule, etc.
                          b) How can common moral principles be outside the purview of morality?

                          True, but not really relevant, since the difference is whether those principles can be claimed to be objectively true, or not.
                          Whether moral principles can be claimed to be objectively true is irrelevant, if they are shared.

                          I'm not sure exactly what you mean by your last sentence above.
                          Even if there is an objective morality, you would have to have an objective way of accessing it in order to be able to decide which purported objective morality is correct. Your book may not be the same as someone else's.

                          Well, if someone holds to MR, even if they hold to the same principles as someone else, it's by coincidence, and they have nothing that compels them to maintain those principles - no logical or moral fault applies if they abandon, change or reverse any moral principle.
                          If they abandon, change, or reverse their moral principles, they would lose the ability to communicate about morality with others. You argue below as if that's a bad thing.

                          Show me how there is no objective way to come to an agreement (if morals are objective), please.
                          Allow me to rephrase.

                          Whatever advantage there is for objective morality only accrues if there is an objective method for deciding between two purported objective moralities.

                          So if you want to claim that advantage, you need to demonstrate that objective method.

                          Maybe, but only within particular groups, and then there's no rational claim on someone outside that group- or inside it, for that matter, if they choose not to follow the group's subjective morals.

                          Maybe this helps - imagine a conversation between two fans of a team - say the mighty San Antonio Spurs. One is a fan because they appreciate the style of play, team ethos, and the history - Gervin, Robinson, Duncan the GOAT, Manu, Tony Parker, etc. Multiple championships. They love the tactics, know the plays, appreciate good team defense, and so on. The other is a fan because they like the music played during the games, and like the team colours, silver and black. That's it. They don't even know the player's names, or what's the difference between a three pointer and a layup. And they don't want to know.

                          Of course they can talk about the Spurs, but how deeply can they communicate? They're both fans, sure, Go Spurs Go!, but there is almost nothing they hold in common.
                          The same problem occurs if two people don't hold to the same purported objective morality.

                          Comment


                          • #88
                            Originally posted by seer View Post
                            Of course everything God commands is right, but that is not the objection in the Euthrypo dilemma. It doesn't speak to whether the command is right or wrong, but that the commands would be arbitrary. One day, for instance, He could deem that lying is moral, the next that lying is immoral. But no Christin believes that since His commands are grounded in His immutable moral character. God couldn't violate what He is and suddenly decide that lying was a moral good. So the charge of arbitrariness fails.
                            I think if you want to communicate clearly on this subject in future you should make clear that you are indeed firmly choosing one of the two options in the Euthrypo dilemma - the 'it's right because God commands it' option.

                            Then, if you want, follow up with the comment that common objections to such a position are that it seems like God might then choose morality arbitrarily, or change it on a whim. And to those ideas your response is that God is an eternal unchanging being so won't change it on a whim, and that in one sense morality is arbitrary in the sense that it is being chosen by God but in another sense it isn't because the choices he makes about morality stem from his loving nature which informs his desires and choices. But I don't think it's necessary to make those arguments because posters in this forum likely already understand those ideas, so trying to jump ahead to address concerns that aren't actually going to be raised, is probably pointless and distracting.

                            It's important when communicating this to be clear you're firmly committing to a particular one of the two options in the Euthrypo dilemma, and only then move on to the topic of why you think it's not as bad an option as people might have assumed. Don't jump ahead to addressing objections you think people might have down the line, until you've given clear answers to the initial questions they're asking about what your position actually is.

                            Otherwise you come across as dodging the issue and being unable to answer the Euthrypo dilemma and being unclear on what your position actually is. The past posts of yourself and other Christians in this forum on the topic of the Euthrypo dilemma have come across like people claiming they're great navigators and know the route, but when asked whether to turn right or left at the very first junction, instead of giving a simple one-word answer that would have adequately answered the question and demonstrated their knowledge, they instead launch into rhetoric about how it's a totally unfair question to ask and doesn't apply to them, and the obvious response to seeing someone do that is to conclude that they're full of it and don't know the route at all and have nothing of value to contribute. It's like seeing a self-proclaimed expert hurdle racer faceplant at the very first hurdle.
                            Last edited by Starlight; 06-01-2021, 05:19 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #89
                              Originally posted by MaxVel View Post
                              Well, if someone holds to MR, even if they hold to the same principles as someone else, it's by coincidence, and they have nothing that compels them to maintain those principles - no logical or moral fault applies if they abandon, change or reverse any moral principle.
                              Presumably any given person has reasons for holding the moral principles they do, rather than the reverse, even if they are seemingly simple reasons.

                              e.g. 'That's what my culture taught me was moral'.
                              'That's what my religion taught me was moral'
                              'That's what my parents taught me was moral'
                              'There's peer pressure to hold to these moral ideas'
                              'In my experiences of the world, I've observed many people behaving many ways, and from thinking about what I've seen and pondering my experiences I've come to an understanding about various moral ideas'

                              Of course, what look like simple reasons for the person themselves - e.g. 'it's what my culture taught me' - aren't all that simple if we push it back a step to 'why does the culture teach those ideas and not other ideas?', because the answer will be a complex history of people in that culture's experiences of the world, and the aggregation of their ideas and experiences over time and the gradual evolution of those ideas within the culture as new people had new experiences and the culture underwent various changes and events.

                              And there are presumably plenty of fact-based reasons why a culture is more likely to teach A than not-A as moral, e.g. "murdering everyone you meet is moral" will never be observed to be a moral teaching in any culture because it would instantly destroy the culture that taught it. Likewise any individual trying to follow i, would both fail to procreate and probably be killed by someone acting in self-defense. So "not murdering every you meet is moral" might plausibly be taught as a moral principle, while the opposite will not be.

                              Hence what cultures teach, and hence what the average person believes about morality, will have been subjected to these types of semi-evolutionary processes over time where in situations where A is a plausible moral teaching (don't murder everyone you meet), but not-A is an implausible moral teaching (do murder everyone you meet), the cultures will hence lean to teaching A and away from not-A. Over time, the semi-evolutionary processes in what cultures are teaching about morality will have a tendency to filter the ideas based on whether A works better or worse than not-A for any given idea. In general Kant's dictum about it being plausible for the idea to be a universal law that everyone follows, will loosely govern which As are preferable over not-As. There may, of course, be many rules where A and not-A have relatively equal utility, and thus where cultures are relatively free to choose A or not-A at random without consequences.

                              In many cases, there will thus be good reasons for preferring A over not-A, even if the indoctrinated individual member of the culture does not themselves understand those reasons as to why the culture is teaching the morality it does. They might not have given an iota of thought to why "murdering everyone you ever meet" is considered morally wrong in their culture, but they can tell you that they believe it to be morally wrong. Yet there are, in fact, very good reasons for holding that moral teaching.

                              So back to your comment that 'they have nothing that compels them to maintain those principles - no logical or moral fault applies if they abandon, change or reverse any moral principle'. I see that as a false claim because whatever it was that in the first place led to the person adopting their moral views still applies. They cannot simply reverse or abandon their moral views, without abandoning whatever reasons they had for believing them in the first place.

                              Of course, this begins to get to the heart of the question of what 'moral relativism' actually is, or isn't. Is believing the sum of all As, where A is demonstrably preferable to not-A as a moral rule, an objective morality?

                              Comment


                              • #90
                                Originally posted by Stoic View Post
                                Whether moral principles can be claimed to be objectively true is irrelevant, if they are shared.
                                This seems an interesting comment.

                                As I have noted in other threads, my understanding of the current state of cross-cultural anthropological research on morality, is that two moral principles seem to be shared universally: 1. Fairness; and 2. care-for-others/don't-harm-others.

                                If, empirically, they are universally shared, does that mean "Whether [they] can be claimed to be objectively true is irrelevant" as you say here? Or does it say something about moral relativism, or their objective truth? I suppose a moral relativist could say it might be possible we might encounter an alien species who doesn't share those principles, and hence possible they might be human universals but not moral universals? If alien races we encountered also held these principles though would that mean moral relativism was wrong and these then were indeed universal moral principles?

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