Announcement

Collapse

Apologetics 301 Guidelines

If you think this is the area where you tell everyone you are sorry for eating their lunch out of the fridge, it probably isn't the place for you


This forum is open discussion between atheists and all theists to defend and debate their views on religion or non-religion. Please respect that this is a Christian-owned forum and refrain from gratuitous blasphemy. VERY wide leeway is given in range of expression and allowable behavior as compared to other areas of the forum, and moderation is not overly involved unless necessary. Please keep this in mind. Atheists who wish to interact with theists in a way that does not seek to undermine theistic faith may participate in the World Religions Department. Non-debate question and answers and mild and less confrontational discussions can take place in General Theistics.


Forum Rules: Here
See more
See less

Why is moral relativism such a bad thing?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #91
    Originally posted by Starlight View Post
    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 don't see how any amount of agreement could prove that they are objectively true.

    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?
    There would still be the possibility that some species outside our corner of the galaxy didn't share them, or some species in another galaxy, etc.

    But to restate my point, if you and I share the same moral principles, whether or not those principles are objectively true shouldn't change the likelihood that we can come to agreement about what is moral.

    Comment


    • #92
      Originally posted by Stoic View Post
      I don't see how any amount of agreement could prove that they are objectively true.
      Universal agreement and objective truth tend to occur together. E.g. the distance from London to NY is an objective truth, and as a result there will be pretty much universal agreement about what that distance is. If you google it, I would not expect to see any significant difference of opinion among websites about what that distance is.

      Whereas where there's not objective truths, e.g. "what is the best hair style?" we don't see universal agreement in people's views. And we see people expressing all sorts of subjective opinions.

      So it seems to me that, while universal agreement doesn't prove objective truths, it's fairly strongly indicative of their existence.

      But to restate my point, if you and I share the same moral principles, whether or not those principles are objectively true shouldn't change the likelihood that we can come to agreement about what is moral.
      If two people share the same principles, of course they're going to be in agreement.

      I think a more interesting situation, which happens a lot in the real world, is where two people share some moral principles but not others. In their conversations then typically each of them would challenge the other to give reasons for why they ought to adopt or reject the non-shared moral principles. e.g. they might appeal to implications of their shared moral principles as a reason for adopting or rejecting a non-shared principle, or point to facts about the world etc. I would say that over time, in these sorts of conversations that occur a lot in multicultural societies where each group brings its own culture to the table for discussion, people tend gradually towards holding only the principles that seem to be defensible and for which decent reasons can be given to others in society who try to question them on them.

      It seems to me that this process has a tendency toward convergence over time. If indeed it is true that humans undertaking such processes have a tendency to converge over time to a single rationally-defensible morality, isn't that morality then the objective universal moral truth? I guess it is a question of what 'objective truth' means precisely.
      Last edited by Starlight; 06-01-2021, 07:08 PM.

      Comment


      • #93
        Originally posted by Starlight View Post
        Universal agreement and objective truth tend to occur together. E.g. the distance from London to NY is an objective truth, and as a result there will be pretty much universal agreement about what that distance is. If you google it, I would not expect to see any significant difference of opinion among websites about what that distance is.

        Whereas where there's not objective truths, e.g. "what is the best hair style?" we don't see universal agreement in people's views. And we see people expressing all sorts of subjective opinions.

        So it seems to me that, while universal agreement doesn't prove objective truths, it's fairly strongly indicative of their existence.
        To some extent, I think that agreement comes from moral principles being based on human nature. And principles that are beneficial to a culture would tend to spread with the cultures that they benefit.

        If two people share the same principles, of course they're going to be in agreement.
        Not necessarily exact agreement. Applying the moral principles tends to be subjective. Doing unto others is going to vary as people disagree on what they would have done unto them, for example. The Categorical Imperative depends on what maxims you would will to be universal, which may vary from person to person. And even with a veil of ignorance, people won't always agree on what moral rules are best.

        I think a more interesting situation, which happens a lot in the real world, is where two people share some moral principles but not others. In their conversations then typically each of them would challenge the other to give reasons for why they ought to adopt or reject the non-shared moral principles. e.g. they might appeal to implications of their shared moral principles as a reason for adopting or rejecting a non-shared principle, or point to facts about the world etc. I would say that over time, in these sorts of conversations that occur a lot in multicultural societies where each group brings its own culture to the table for discussion, people tend gradually towards holding only the principles that seem to be defensible and for which decent reasons can be given to others in society who try to question them on them.

        It seems to me that this process has a tendency toward convergence over time. If indeed it is true that humans undertaking such processes have a tendency to converge over time to a single rationally-defensible morality, isn't that morality then the objective universal moral truth?
        Even if it tends towards convergence, that doesn't mean that it will ever converge completely.

        I guess it is a question of what 'objective truth' means precisely.
        It's been my experience that semantics tends to play an important, if not central, role in many philosophical discussions. This one is probably not an exception.

        Comment


        • #94
          Originally posted by Stoic View Post
          Applying the moral principles tends to be subjective. Doing unto others is going to vary as people disagree on what they would have done unto them, for example. The Categorical Imperative depends on what maxims you would will to be universal, which may vary from person to person. And even with a veil of ignorance, people won't always agree on what moral rules are best.
          Good examples. I agree.

          To my mind, that doesn't necessarily stop the principles themselves being objective or true moral principles. It just means that there's still some subjective wiggle room inside an otherwise objective moral framework.

          Even if it tends towards convergence, that doesn't mean that it will ever converge completely.
          Perhaps. But I think if it converged to an area of ideas, we could then stick a label on that area of ideas labelling it the objective morality, and acknowledge some subjective variation within the area, just like with your application of principles above.

          It's been my experience that semantics tends to play an important, if not central, role in many philosophical discussions. This one is probably not an exception.
          I agree. In these discussions I do find it particularly hard to discern what the line between moral relativism and moral realism actually is supposed to be.

          Comment


          • #95
            Originally posted by Starlight View Post
            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.
            Then that horn of the dilemma fails. And there sill would be no arbitrariness. I mean if the moral law of an unchanging, all knowing, eternal Creator could be considered arbitrary how much more so would our moral conclusions be arbitrary?

            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.
            You originally brought the Euthrypo thing up and claimed that the Christian God somehow was in violation. That is false.

            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.
            That is nonsense Star, I have been perfectly clear especially on the dilemma now and in the past.
            Last edited by seer; 06-02-2021, 07:31 AM.
            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


            • #96
              Originally posted by Starlight View Post
              I agree. In these discussions I do find it particularly hard to discern what the line between moral relativism and moral realism actually is supposed to be.
              That is because moral realism, even logically, can not be demonstrated. Though I do laud your search for universal moral truths, an endeavor that can only be satiated by the moral law of God.
              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


              • #97
                Originally posted by Stoic View Post
                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?


                Whether moral principles can be claimed to be objectively true is irrelevant, if they are shared.


                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.


                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.


                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.


                The same problem occurs if two people don't hold to the same purported objective morality.


                Sorry for the pause...

                If MR is true, then any moral position goes, for any reason. And even if there is an agreement with someone who holds to objective morality on a moral principle, the foundation is so different that that agreement means little. The MO person holds the principle to be true because it is an objective fact about reality, the MR person holds it to be true for them (and possibly a community they belong to).

                So the two people are not talking about the same thing - MO is talking about (what they believe to be) objective reality, MR is talking about what is true for them (but not necessarily for anyone else). So, once we go past the superficial agreement (it's wrong to double park) there are two completely different worldviews, such that there's nothing a MR can really say to a MO that carries any moral weight. And that has been my experience in actual conversation with a MR. When we disagreed, there was nothing he could bring to the table that could possibly persuade me - since he wasn't ever saying that I was objectively wrong, just that my particular moral value wasn't one that he happened to share. Might as well argue about the relative aesthetic merits of Arsenal's home and away strips.

                Bill Vallicella puts it better than I can (but he's a pro, so there's that)

                Originally posted by William Vallicella
                Relativism, whether alethic (about truth) or axiological (about values), is curiously self-vitiating. To be consistent, the relativist must acquiesce in the relativization of his own position. For example, the value relativist must admit that is only from within his own value scheme that it is wrong to impose one's value on others. To which my response will be: That's nice; but what does that have to do with me? The relativist can get my attention only if he appeals to non-relative values, value binding on all of us; but if does so, then he contradicts himself.

                If two people who hold to MO are talking, at least there is the shared belief that they are both talking about objective reality, and thus both working together to come to a better understanding of what that reality is. This is true even if they can't come to a final decision on the matter. Either might be correct, or both wrong, and the truth something else. Nonetheless, there is a common, objective, truth 'out there'. Thus the conversation, even if inconclusive, at least in principle could lead to knowing that truth.

                ...>>> Witty remark or snarky quote of another poster goes here <<<...

                Comment


                • #98
                  Originally posted by MaxVel View Post
                  If MR is true, then any moral position goes, for any reason. And even if there is an agreement with someone who holds to objective morality on a moral principle, the foundation is so different that that agreement means little. The MO person holds the principle to be true because it is an objective fact about reality, the MR person holds it to be true for them (and possibly a community they belong to).
                  The agreement they need to have is about how people should behave, including how they should respond to how other people behave. If they can reach agreement on that, the "why" doesn't really matter.

                  So the two people are not talking about the same thing - MO is talking about (what they believe to be) objective reality, MR is talking about what is true for them (but not necessarily for anyone else). So, once we go past the superficial agreement (it's wrong to double park) there are two completely different worldviews, such that there's nothing a MR can really say to a MO that carries any moral weight. And that has been my experience in actual conversation with a MR. When we disagreed, there was nothing he could bring to the table that could possibly persuade me - since he wasn't ever saying that I was objectively wrong, just that my particular moral value wasn't one that he happened to share. Might as well argue about the relative aesthetic merits of Arsenal's home and away strips.
                  You might have something if you could show that two people holding to MO who have a moral disagreement are more likely to eventually reach agreement than they would if one or both of them was an MR.

                  But it's been my experience that the only difference is that an MO is more likely to believe that he couldn't possibly be wrong.

                  If two people who hold to MO are talking, at least there is the shared belief that they are both talking about objective reality, and thus both working together to come to a better understanding of what that reality is. This is true even if they can't come to a final decision on the matter. Either might be correct, or both wrong, and the truth something else. Nonetheless, there is a common, objective, truth 'out there'. Thus the conversation, even if inconclusive, at least in principle could lead to knowing that truth.
                  The idea that there is a common, objective, truth 'out there' does nothing to help bring about agreement.

                  Comment

                  Related Threads

                  Collapse

                  Topics Statistics Last Post
                  Started by tabibito, 09-14-2021, 05:15 AM
                  23 responses
                  176 views
                  0 likes
                  Last Post tabibito  
                  Started by seer, 08-30-2021, 09:03 AM
                  282 responses
                  1,478 views
                  1 like
                  Last Post eider
                  by eider
                   
                  Started by seer, 08-30-2021, 07:35 AM
                  1 response
                  26 views
                  0 likes
                  Last Post eider
                  by eider
                   
                  Started by seer, 08-28-2021, 05:41 PM
                  10 responses
                  81 views
                  1 like
                  Last Post Stoic
                  by Stoic
                   
                  Started by MehdiR, 08-25-2021, 01:44 PM
                  9 responses
                  124 views
                  0 likes
                  Last Post Bill the Cat  
                  Working...
                  X