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#1
Old 06-18-2010, 06:41 PM
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Pros & Cons with relativism

Personally im not convinced by philosophic relativism.

I have yet to hear a good argument FOR relativism, in where you cant say that one thing is "better" than the other. To me its seem like a weak and sometime cowardly proposition. What are the sound arguments for relativism?
#2
Old 06-18-2010, 06:43 PM
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Once you adopt it, you'll find that no philosophy is better.
#3
Old 06-18-2010, 07:29 PM
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Ultimately there is no rational basis for reletavism. It cannot be maintained, because there is no innate morality to cultures. Either thre is a real morality or there is not. if not, reletavism is outright wrong, because it doesn't matter if you're a racist baby-raping cannibal who hooks people on crack and hates puppies while peeing in the cornflakes of everyone's cereal, or if you spend your life laboring to do nothing but kindness: it would all be the same, whether you amuse yourself by smashing up the universe for fun or making a paradise for all. But if it is possible to be good there is a real good to be had and live up to.

If so, either culture is in accordance with real morality to some degree, or it is not. There are no other options. Moreover, cultural reletavism is intrinsically stupid. it assumes that the magic world 'culture" makes things right. But it pretends not to note that culture is what people make and do any time there's two of them. And the whims of two people have no more force than the whims of one.
#4
Old 06-18-2010, 07:35 PM
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I don't see anything wrong with relativism as long as both people are consenting adults.
#5
Old 06-18-2010, 07:57 PM
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So how would a cultural relativist go about defending for example how Taliban treat women?

It sounds very academic to me, almost self-loathing at times.
#6
Old 06-18-2010, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by scamartistry View Post
So how would a cultural relativist go about defending for example how Taliban treat women?

It sounds very academic to me, almost self-loathing at times.
It's learned behavior. It's systemic.

It's probably true to some extent that it is relative to culture what is and what isn't acceptable, but there are at least some innate factors that should be considered when dealing with things in a humane way.

The golden rule, is not such a bad rule really. Though even that probably changes relative to a culture.

There are still things that we fear. There are still things that cause us both physical and emotional pain. To some extent these things should be avoided when dealing with another person (and for some - any living creature should be treated with such respect).

Yet, even with our ability to empathize with others our cultures still have their shortcomings. All of these cultural nuances probably stem from our Id, the ancient animal-like part of our brain that makes us territorial, violent, fearful, and lustful. Basic survival instincts. Women were submissive to the dominant males who offered them protection. We feared other groups of humans, darkness, and predators and fought to protect our land (if at that time we were Nomadic - our possessions, women, and camp). Lust is what kept our species alive, and it probably often boiled down to rape (a recent study shows that rape is more likely to cause pregnancy). That's not to say that even at that time consensual sex was rare - I'm sure it happened just as often.

I feel many cultures (maybe all of them) mimic our early beginnings as hunter gatherers. In many ways you could say that we've only amplified them.

What was once tribal skirmishes are now all out wars. What was once an incident of rape which was seen to be normal is now much more traumatic because of social implications. Women (and men) are now forced to wear clothing, makeup, and perform hygienic routine to attract mates (instead of just letting it all hang out). Religion and Nationalism reinforce our fears, desire for violence, and territorialism (and it is still very scary to be in complete darkness).

I've gotten way off-topic.

Basically, I feel that some cultures have exaggerated our basic instincts, and these continue to be perpetuated through learned behavior. And the people of these cultures probably accept it just fine. We might not understand or accept it ourselves, but the reverse is also probably true. They can't accept or understand our culture. So to some extent, yes it is relative. But at the same time everyone deserves common respect as a human beings (unfortunately no culture has that covered).

Raise kids without any of these ideas and we'd probably be better off.

No nationalism. No religion. No cultural differences.

Of course there are some things we can't make uniform (appearance, sex, race, personality, etc), but you can't take every challenge away from being human.

Last edited by nilum; 06-18-2010 at 09:00 PM.
#7
Old 06-18-2010, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by nilum View Post
No nationalism. No religion. No cultural differences.
You would then have failed to give them anything of value. They would not magically become good. Instead, they will simply get bad ideas. Truly, you live up to your name, nilum.
#8
Old 06-18-2010, 09:15 PM
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Nilum:
So in this world of yours, would you prohibit anything. Or is everything just as OK as the next thing. Im shying away from using the world "morals" since its often been hijacked by the religious. Instead im wondering about standards (regardless where you get them from, everybody has them). This seem awful laissez-faire and also spine-less. Why would you not propagate your own values when meeting opposition?
#9
Old 06-18-2010, 09:47 PM
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There's a line by Emo Phillips that goes something like "I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” The problem with saying, to take your example, "The way the Taliban treats women is wrong", is we're not objective judges ourselves. We have our own set of beliefs and moral codes that we believe are right. So when we look at the way the Taliban treats women...the way it treats people in general, we compare it to the way that we think people should be treated. That's inevitable, but it also means that we're bringing in our own subjective beliefs to the question.
#10
Old 06-18-2010, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
You would then have failed to give them anything of value. They would not magically become good. Instead, they will simply get bad ideas. Truly, you live up to your name, nilum.
I never implied that anyone would magically become good. I don't believe there is such a thing.

Like everything else though, differences serves as a barrier to find a common ground.

I am just listing off the ones we could easily do away with.

As far as imposing my own beliefs - I would never do that, but I would suggest learning to be empathetic. It's disturbing how detached people are from one another.

Critical thinking and empathy is the only thing humans really need to make 'moral' decisions. Of course there are those that lack this ability (sociopaths), but nothing is perfect.

I'm glad you think I live up to my name. Humans are nihilistic by nature. There is no right or wrong, but if we were to work towards an ideal goal, I would suggest being empathetic towards others, without judgement and an understanding that humans that commit crimes are at least to some extent not in total control (no one is).

Last edited by nilum; 06-18-2010 at 09:55 PM.
#11
Old 06-18-2010, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by nilum View Post
Like everything else though, differences serves as a barrier to find a common ground.

I am just listing off the ones we could easily do away with.
Easily, if by "easily" you mean, "everything humanity has ever created which is good". You are not talking about destroying some minor appendage on humanity, but humanity itself.

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I'm glad you think I live up to my name. Humans are nihilistic by nature. There is no right or wrong, but if we were to work towards an ideal goal, I would suggest being empathetic towards others, without judgement and an understanding that humans that commit crimes are at least to some extent not in total control (no one is).
If there is no right or wrong, then people cannot commit crimes. If there is nothing right nor wrong, then people are not wrong to commit any crime, nor is there anything wrong with punishing for them. Or just killing people for kicks. You have just destroyed the very foundation of your argument.
#12
Old 06-18-2010, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
Easily, if by "easily" you mean, "everything humanity has ever created which is good". You are not talking about destroying some minor appendage on humanity, but humanity itself.



If there is no right or wrong, then people cannot commit crimes. If there is nothing right nor wrong, then people are not wrong to commit any crime, nor is there anything wrong with punishing for them. Or just killing people for kicks. You have just destroyed the very foundation of your argument.
You look at everything too simply.

When I say there is no right or wrong, I am saying that these are all just constructs. Crime is also a construct.

I'm not saying that society doesn't have rules, but I am saying that humanity has no divine code of conduct.

We created rules as a way of deterring acts of violence, murder, rape, and other things socially unacceptable. These rules were created by leaders and wisemen (but rarely women). These rules have been perpetuated, refined, expanded, and in some cases decremented.

"If there is nothing right nor wrong, then people are not wrong to commit any crime, nor is there anything wrong with punishing for them. Or just killing people for kicks. You have just destroyed the very foundation of your argument"

I haven't. I never said it was right or wrong for someone to kill someone else. Your belief and my belief that that particular action is 'wrong' may be for different reasons, but I would agree with you. I do not find murder acceptable. Just because I might not believe in some divine law, doesn't mean I can't object to certain human behavior and want to correct it.

If you believe that God set these laws, then that's a different issue. I believe murder has become socially unacceptable because others can empathize with those who have had a friend or relative murdered. It's not a good feeling - it doesn't help humanity when we cannibalize each other. I had a cousin whom I was very close to savagely beaten to death by her boyfriend. And though I thought about taking a baseball bat to his face several times, I am unfortunately restrained by my own beliefs. Revenge is a futile effort that only brings about more pain and suffering. As hard as it is to believe, the person who murdered my cousin also has people who love him.

Some people need laws to restrict these emotions. Sometimes laws aren't enough. I personally don't need a law to tell me murder is wrong. I can use empathy and critical thinking to come to the same conclusion on my own. I don't need a deterrent like some people. But that's more of an anarchist's philosophy. I don't mind laws. I just don't need them.

Last edited by nilum; 06-18-2010 at 10:36 PM.
#13
Old 06-18-2010, 10:42 PM
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Nilum:

This is purely from curiosity:

IN Country X :The women in this country are being beaten everyday at breakfast with a whip.
No women complains and when asked, just states that this is part of her upbringing/religion.

How would a relativist react to this, would you have any incentive to reat?
#14
Old 06-18-2010, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by scamartistry View Post
Nilum:

This is purely from curiosity:

IN Country X :The women in this country are being beaten everyday at breakfast with a whip.
No women complains and when asked, just states that this is part of her upbringing/religion.

How would a relativist react to this, would you have any incentive to reat?
Please read my first post in this thread:
"It's probably true to some extent that it is relative to culture what is and what isn't acceptable, but there are at least some innate factors that should be considered when dealing with things in a humane way."

I'm saying that there are definitely going to be differences, but I don't have to accept all of them, and some of them might be inhumane - which is automatically socially unacceptable. But those are just my opinions. I can't force an entire people to change unless they want to.

These women probably do want a way out. If only there were some way to convince their religious leaders that it would be okay to divorce their husbands and move somewhere more progressive. That's never going to happen, but we can lead by example. Many people who migrate here from the middle east become integrated and adopt our more progressive views (not all - but many).

In Mexico if you rape a girl she has to marry you - so rape to some extent is acceptable down there. I know many Mexicans who would never think of raping anyone. Integration is key.

As a relativist(which I'm not really) - if I saw a woman getting beat I would probably think it's best to mind my own business. What the hell could I do anyway. I'm one man against an entire community, and it is probably common for them even if it is grossly traumatic for the woman being beaten.

I'm not sure what action you would like me to take. Stand up to them Jesus-style and give them the whole: "those without sin cast the first stone" routine(just another example of how implausible the Bible is).

Last edited by nilum; 06-18-2010 at 10:54 PM.
#15
Old 06-18-2010, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by nilum View Post
I never said it was right or wrong for someone to kill someone else. Your belief and my belief that that particular action is 'wrong' may be for different reasons, but I would agree with you. I do not find murder acceptable. Just because I might not believe in some divine law, doesn't mean I can't object to certain human behavior and want to correct it.

I personally don't need a law to tell me murder is wrong. I can use empathy and critical thinking to come to the same conclusion on my own. I don't need a deterrent like some people. But that's more of an anarchist's philosophy. I don't mind laws. I just don't need them.
Bolding Mine.

The irony, it burns. Do you actually think about what you are writing?

First off, I have not stated my moral beliefs, which you seem to be making up for me on your whim. I never said murder was wrong, or right. I did say that if there is no morality, then it is neither wrong nor right. You can do whatever you like, and so can I, and there is no moral argument for doing or not doing anything.

Then, of course, after completely demonstrating the total inadequacy of your thinking, you feel compelled to brag about you are superior to human law.
#16
Old 06-18-2010, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
Bolding Mine.

The irony, it burns. Do you actually think about what you are writing?

First off, I have not stated my moral beliefs, which you seem to be making up for me on your whim. I never said murder was wrong, or right. I did say that if there is no morality, then it is neither wrong nor right. You can do whatever you like, and so can I, and there is no moral argument for doing or not doing anything.

Then, of course, after completely demonstrating the total inadequacy of your thinking, you feel compelled to brag about you are superior to human law.
You're missing the point entirely.

But continue to think however you like.
#17
Old 06-18-2010, 11:47 PM
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And just to add one more thing.

To me, right and wrong are just moral precedents. They are all words which I may use from time to time to signify my own opinions.

That being said, none of my beliefs are based on any type of morality. It's about sharing a common goal with the rest of humanity, self-preservation and improvement.

And though morality might also share that same function to a lesser extent, morality can be twisted by whoever is in charge. Someone's morality might make them hate homosexuals for instance. Or beat women in another.

I don't believe anything is fundamentally right or wrong. There is a reason people are gay or straight. There is a reason people commit crime.

I don't have to find murder acceptable, but I can at least understand that it's not wrong. It's a common human behavior. The goal is to correct the behavior not condemn the human. Even our currents laws, your right and wrong, don't prevent murder and other crimes from happening. While it may prevent some, there obviously needs to be a better solution.

Last edited by nilum; 06-18-2010 at 11:49 PM.
#18
Old 06-18-2010, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by nilum View Post
Please read my first post in this thread:
"It's probably true to some extent that it is relative to culture what is and what isn't acceptable, but there are at least some innate factors that should be considered when dealing with things in a humane way."

I'm saying that there are definitely going to be differences, but I don't have to accept all of them, and some of them might be inhumane - which is automatically socially unacceptable. But those are just my opinions. I can't force an entire people to change unless they want to.

These women probably do want a way out. If only there were some way to convince their religious leaders that it would be okay to divorce their husbands and move somewhere more progressive. That's never going to happen, but we can lead by example. Many people who migrate here from the middle east become integrated and adopt our more progressive views (not all - but many).

.
Thank you for your, if nothing else, very brave answer. Please explain to an ignorant person like myself how this is a valid statement.

This is how I follow your logic:

11. Country X behave badly towards Y
2. I am not affected by country X
3. If it doesnt affect me I should not engage in any way
4. I can not comment on any other society since Im not part of it
5. Therefore I watch from the sidlines, I will not interfere since I might not understand the nuances going on.

Please correct me if Im wrong and made it too simple. But my first instinct was that it seem a bit isolationistic and also living without principals at all, i.e no regards for fellow man/self loathing of own values.

Last edited by scamartistry; 06-18-2010 at 11:52 PM.
#19
Old 06-18-2010, 11:51 PM
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[QUOTE=nilum;12594372]That being said, none of my beliefs are based on any type of morality. It's about sharing a common goal with the rest of humanity, self-preservation and improvement.

Bullshit. Who claims that humanity has any kind of common goals at all, much less those?

Quote:
I don't have to find murder acceptable, but I can at least understand that it's not wrong. It's a common human behavior. The goal is to correct the behavior not condemn the human. Even our currents laws, your right and wrong, don't prevent murder and other crimes from happening. While it may prevent some, there obviously needs to be a better solution.
There. Right there. You claim not to believe in right and wrong, but what immediuately comes out of your mouth? That you want to "correct" behavior. You can't correct something that's not wrong to begin with. You talk about "better" soluitions, which intrinsically postulates an objective standard of value you just denied.
#20
Old 06-19-2010, 12:06 AM
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Relativism is often used as an excuse for bad behavior. The relativist says it's only bad according to someone else's philosophy, but not his, so there's nothing wrong with it. Prisons are full of relativists. But reasonable people can use relativism as a way to distinquish between rational and irrational norms. It also distinquished between political philosophies like democracy and totalitarianism. Philosophies don't have to be taken to extremes and applied in all circumstances. Everybody tends to be a relativist or absolutist when it suits them. Except me. I believe everybody should have their own absolutist philosophy.
#21
Old 06-19-2010, 12:06 AM
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I think we all can agree that the word "Wrong" is used for different and sometimes misleading purposes.
In everyday speak we all understand with this very description. Even though it doesnt come with any authority. It is still a very important world, perhaps not so much in philosophy.

This is where my problem with some relativist come in.

In my view, constructions such as right and wrong are concepts that could only be understood from an evolutionary background.

Concepts most humans should have ingrained. So being scholarly and not pretending the everyday meaning of such words do not help the discussion forward very much.

Arguing from a herd mentality some things in most context are "BAD" behaviours, no theoretic analysis needed.

Sometimes its very important, in most cases no. Dont make it more complicated than it is. Thats my final words
#22
Old 06-19-2010, 12:19 AM
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Originally Posted by scamartistry View Post
Thank you for your, if nothing else, very brave answer. Please explain to an ignorant person like myself how this is a valid statement.

This is how I follow your logic:

11. Country X behave badly towards Y
2. I am not affected by country X
3. If it doesnt affect me I should not engage in any way
4. I can not comment on any other society since Im not part of it
5. Therefore I watch from the sidlines, I will not interfere since I might not understand the nuances going on.

Please correct me if Im wrong and made it too simple. But my first instinct was that it seem a bit isolationistic and also living without principals at all, i.e no regards for fellow man/self loathing of own values.
You are sympathetic to country Y's population because country X might be doing horrible things. I look at it from the perspective that anyone should. Why is this happening. What are the reasons.

Israel and Palestine for example.

So... I don't agree with what Israel is doing to Palestine. I think it only incites more hatred towards Israel. Still I understand how this all started. I understand why it's happening. I empathize with all the people suffering over there. I go to rallies and hold up my 'Judaism good, Zionism bad' sign. I get called an antisemite when I am standing right next to my friend who is a Jew... still I don't think Israel is doing anything 'wrong', but I do think they are doing what they think is 'right.' I'd rather say agree or disagree. The problem with right and wrong is everyone has their own interpretation. Again, that comes back to your topic of relativism.

I think you disagree with my unemotional response to the scenario. The truth is, emotional response rarely end in good outcomes. So I am trying my hardest not to give any. These are just my opinions. Take them with a grain of salt.

Last edited by nilum; 06-19-2010 at 12:23 AM.
#23
Old 06-19-2010, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
Bullshit. Who claims that humanity has any kind of common goals at all, much less those?



There. Right there. You claim not to believe in right and wrong, but what immediuately comes out of your mouth? That you want to "correct" behavior. You can't correct something that's not wrong to begin with. You talk about "better" soluitions, which intrinsically postulates an objective standard of value you just denied.
Universally I think we could agree that sociopathic behavior is unwanted. There is no need to discuss the ethics or morality, because it is simply counterproductive.

Last edited by nilum; 06-19-2010 at 12:29 AM.
#24
Old 06-19-2010, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by nilum View Post
You are sympathetic to country Y's population because country X might be doing horrible things. I look at it from the perspective that anyone should. Why is this happening. What are the reasons.

Israel and Palestine for example.

So... I don't agree with what Israel is doing to Palestine. I think it only incites more hatred towards Israel. Still I understand how this all started. I understand why it's happening. I empathize with all the people suffering over there. I go to rallies and hold up my 'Judaism good, Zionism bad' sign. I get called an antisemite when I am standing right next to my friend who is a Jew... still I don't think Israel is doing anything 'wrong', but I do think they are doing what they think is 'right.' I'd rather say agree or disagree. The problem with right and wrong is everyone has their own interpretation. Again, that comes back to your topic of relativism.

.
Fair,,,I do not understand though if you are debating from a point of a relativist though. From what I understand you are stating that "since things are complicated, I can not know who is right or wrong; therefore both are right"

This claim might sound right when not examined. But I would argue that this is a statement from ignorance. However complicated, there should be some side/argument that is more right than the other. Or at least some side that you support more than the other.

Just because there are two sides of an argument does not mean that there are two sides that are "half-right".
I can not ground this in some specific school of philosophy. But I do think there is such thing as a practical "truth", might we call this principalism or even pragmatism in some sense.
Just sitting on the fence seem non-productive and sometimes cowardly.
#25
Old 06-19-2010, 01:09 AM
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Originally Posted by scamartistry View Post
Fair,,,I do not understand though if you are debating from a point of a relativist though. From what I understand you are stating that "since things are complicated, I can not know who is right or wrong; therefore both are right"

This claim might sound right when not examined. But I would argue that this is a statement from ignorance. However complicated, there should be some side/argument that is more right than the other. Or at least some side that you support more than the other.

Just because there are two sides of an argument does not mean that there are two sides that are "half-right".
I can not ground this in some specific school of philosophy. But I do think there is such thing as a practical "truth", might we call this principalism or even pragmatism in some sense.
Just sitting on the fence seem non-productive and sometimes cowardly.
For what reasons should I support one side more than the other?

Politically the US supports Israel because we have a common enemy and because they buy weapons from us... you could go further and suggest that we sympathize with the Zionist movement for some reason. What we do know though is Israel us surrounded by enemies, so it is important for countries like us and Britain to act as a deterrent for any strike on Israel.

Fundamentally though, what Israel is doing to Palestine is unnecessary (for the most part). It's Israel's fault that there is such strong antisemitic dissent in Palestine, and it's why Palestinians elected Hamas. Had Israel any intentions for peace there would be peace. There have been opportunities in the past, but it seemed that neither side wanted to come to an agreement. Both countries want the other gone from Palestine, it just happens that Israel has the military advantage. If it were the other way, Israel would probably have my sympathy instead.

The problem is of course Israel abusing their military might over Palestine. They occupy it, set up check points, do random searches, harass and abuse people, demolish businesses and homes, set up illegal blockades... but you have to wonder if Palestine would do the same if they had some sort of military advantage. I don't know.

All I know is that many Israeli people and especially it's government is motivated by their religious texts to take back their promised land and expel all outsiders. Even Christians.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=OlT3ARuUSGc
http://youtube.com/watch?v=IX9Tk2TMA6Q

All I can see from that video is that Jews like to intimidate and ridicule just like any of the other religions. To me they are no different from Christians, Muslims, etc. I don't see right or wrong. I see people who are misguided and brainwashed. Thus, I have a hard time blaming them for their actions. Because they probably truly believe they are just in doing so. It's poor education.

Last edited by nilum; 06-19-2010 at 01:11 AM.
#26
Old 06-19-2010, 02:44 AM
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Relativism is the worst philosophy in the world.

Except for none of the others.
#27
Old 06-19-2010, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
Once you adopt it, you'll find that no philosophy is better.
Yeah, not only is everything relative, but also I am absolutely sure of it.

Is that what you meant?
#28
Old 06-19-2010, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
There. Right there. You claim not to believe in right and wrong, but what immediuately comes out of your mouth? That you want to "correct" behavior. You can't correct something that's not wrong to begin with. You talk about "better" soluitions, which intrinsically postulates an objective standard of value you just denied.
But here we come to the fatal flaw of "objective morality". Suppose there is such a thing as objective morality. But how do we flawed human beings discover it? Divine revelation? You might have had a revelation from a deity, but I haven't, so why should I take your word for it? And even if I experience divine revelation, what makes that morality objectively? Because God said it was? Does God reveal objective morality, or create it? In other words, if God tells you to sacrifice your first born son on the altar, does that mean it is objectively morally right for you to sacrifice your first born son?

If there is an objective morality, it doesn't do us humans any good, because we don't know what that objective morality is. We have to muddle through. Oh, we have an innate moral sense, true enough. We FEEL that hurting people is wrong, and so on. But just because we feel it, that doesn't make it objectively true. We can easily imagine a sentient species that has a different innate moral sense. So our innate moral sense might conform to the hypothesized objective morality, but if ours was different, how would we know? And if that other species is different, does that mean that species is innately evil, like Orcs in Middle Earth? Or maybe we're the innately evil ones--you'll certainly find Christians who would agree.

So it seems to me that an appeal to objective morality won't work. We can't start at the beginning, we have to start at the middle. Here we are on this planet, and if we don't want to be miserable, we'll have to figure out some way of getting along. And since there has been a few thousand years of recorded history of people trying to get along, we see the results of different sorts of rules. I personally like having plenty of food, comfortable clothes, a warm/cool house, running water, my shit and piss carried away, nobody trying to kill me, or rape me, or threaten me with violence. And so on.

Now, what sort of rules help create such a life? I'd rather have a society where rape is punished, even if that means I can't rape anyone, because my urge to rape isn't very strong, while my urge not to be raped is very strong. And I'd like my friends and family not to be raped. I don't care as much about strangers, but I have no particular wish for them to be raped either. So "no raping" is a rule I agree with.

Is "no raping" objectively moral? I have no idea. But God telling me "no raping" wouldn't mean to me that "no raping" is right, it would just tell me that God doesn't like rape, and I agree with him. Maybe I'm wrong, and raping really is morally right, and I'm too innately evil to realize that rape is right. And God telling me to rape or not rape doesn't prove either is right. Not to mention that God hasn't told me personally anything about anything, so that's moot to me, but perhaps God has told you some rules that you should follow. And if he has, how do you know that God is objectively right?

So I don't know if I'm objectively right, I just know what kind of society I'd like to live in, and when I see examples of societies that work better than ours I'll advocate that we adopt moral rules more like theirs, and when I see societies that work worse, I'll advocate we don't adopt their rules and also advocate that they adopt ours. Not because I'm sure I'm objectively right, but because I believe that I'm not so different from anybody else.
#29
Old 06-19-2010, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
But here we come to the fatal flaw of "objective morality". Suppose there is such a thing as objective morality. But how do we flawed human beings discover it? Divine revelation? You might have had a revelation from a deity, but I haven't, so why should I take your word for it?
In this thread I will respond,. although I am not here arguing that there is an objective morality. I am simply pointing out that reletavism cannot be true, and mashing nilum's ridiculous assertions.

Quote:
If there is an objective morality, it doesn't do us humans any good, because we don't know what that objective morality is.
I cannot agree. In fact, I must greatly disagree. Humans may not know it innately, but let's be very blutn about it: throughout history, people have deep down always admitted morality's claim. Even people as bad as the Mongols or the Nazis tried to claim it didn't apply to their specific enemies at this specific time, not that it didn't exist. People need to be reminded: there are not true moral reformers, only those who can reform the society around them.

[quote]So it seems to me that an appeal to objective morality won't work. We can't start at the beginning, we have to start at the middle. Here we are on this planet, and if we don't want to be miserable, we'll have to figure out some way of getting along.[/quote

The short version is that you want to get the pretend output of morality without actually having it. That won't work. We don't have to get along: I can kill and maybe eat you and then rape your family members. I don't have to get along with you or anyone, and if I don't feel I like modern life there either is an objective moral reason to respect you anyway, or I am utterly free to do as I please.

Quote:
Now, what sort of rules help create such a life? I'd rather have a society where rape is punished, even if that means I can't rape anyone, because my urge to rape isn't very strong, while my urge not to be raped is very strong. And I'd like my friends and family not to be raped. I don't care as much about strangers, but I have no particular wish for them to be raped either. So "no raping" is a rule I agree with.
So, for example, your "morality" is bounded solely by the relationship of you to the person attacked? You wouldn't know it is wrong, the brutal forcing of a stronger self onto the weaker (or more vulnerable at that particular time, etc.)? You don't disapprove of rapists for any reason other than disrupting the public order which lets you have Cinnabons and the internet?

[quote]And if he has, how do you know that God is objectively right?

Since I am not here really arguing there is an objective morality, nor for anhy morality or divinity per se, I cannot answer. However, I would note that throughout history there have been those who achieved some sort of superior moral understanding. These individuals claimed to know . And as justification, they did not offer a logos defense of their principles, but asserted that their prior ethical understanding was simply inadequate: that their new moral depth could not even be understood. That the rules they lived by had reasons, which they were barely able to begin to comprehend and which they could not describe in human language. They did not claim to have reasons but Reason itself. And while the way they described it varies, it is not substantially different from time to time and place to place. Lao Tsu, Buddha, St. Paul, Thomas Aquinas. They knew God was objectively right in claiming they had.

If, of course, you believe in God.

Quote:
So I don't know if I'm objectively right, I just know what kind of society I'd like to live in, and when I see examples of societies that work better than ours I'll advocate that we adopt moral rules more like theirs, and when I see societies that work worse, I'll advocate we don't adopt their rules and also advocate that they adopt ours. Not because I'm sure I'm objectively right, but because I believe that I'm not so different from anybody else.
Once again, you are straight off assuming a standard of value you fail to describe or justify. You assume it exists and then build your "morality" around it.
#30
Old 06-19-2010, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
In this thread I will respond,. although I am not here arguing that there is an objective morality. I am simply pointing out that reletavism cannot be true, and mashing nilum's ridiculous assertions.
Well, if you're arguing that relativism can't be true, then you're arguing that there is an objective morality. because it's a binary condition.
#31
Old 06-19-2010, 01:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
In this thread I will respond,. although I am not here arguing that there is an objective morality. I am simply pointing out that reletavism cannot be true, and mashing nilum's ridiculous assertions.
I'll assent that strong relativism can't be true, because if relativism is true then every claim is relative, and therefore one cannot claim that relativism is true.

Quote:
I cannot agree. In fact, I must greatly disagree. Humans may not know it innately, but let's be very blutn about it: throughout history, people have deep down always admitted morality's claim. Even people as bad as the Mongols or the Nazis tried to claim it didn't apply to their specific enemies at this specific time, not that it didn't exist. People need to be reminded: there are not true moral reformers, only those who can reform the society around them.
Dude, have you ever READ the Bible? Like, you know, Genesis and Exodus and such? Not even to mention the Iliad and the Oddessy. The people who wrote those ancient works had different ideas about morality than you and I. I happen to prefer ours, because living in a bronze age village waiting for my neighbors to invade doesn't sound like fun.

Quote:
The short version is that you want to get the pretend output of morality without actually having it. That won't work. We don't have to get along: I can kill and maybe eat you and then rape your family members. I don't have to get along with you or anyone, and if I don't feel I like modern life there either is an objective moral reason to respect you anyway, or I am utterly free to do as I please.
Actually, you really are utterly free to do as you please, and the only thing I can do is try to convince you otherwise, either by argument, or by force, or by getting together 300 million of my closest friends and establishing a country with a legal system that will lock you in a cage if you don't do as we ask. You might not have noticed, but there really are plenty of people who have decided that they don't like modern life, and are out there raping and killing and maiming and robbing away. Nothing is stopping them except the people who don't like being raped and killed and maimed and robbed.

If there is an objective moral reason why Jeffery Dahmer shouldn't have killed and ate people, why didn't that stop him from killing and eating people? The answer is, he was utterly free to disregard the rules and kill and eat according to his whim, and the only thing that stopped him was the rest of us locked him in a cage until some other inmate killed him.

So yes, we don't HAVE to get along. It's only that most of us WANT to get along, but if enough people decide they're tired of getting along, then we have Nazi Germany and Rwanda and Cambodia and Nanking.

My morality is bounded by relationship in the sense that somewhere in the world right now, brutal murders and rapes and maimings are taking place, and I'm doing nothing about it, and neither are you. If I saw a crime take place in front of me, I'd try to help as best I could, but I don't walk the earth looking for wrongs to right. The most I do is contribute my little bit to making this world function, by working and taking care of my kids (and the neighbor kids) and trying not to make things worse.
Quote:
Once again, you are straight off assuming a standard of value you fail to describe or justify. You assume it exists and then build your "morality" around it.
No, of course not. I don't assume a standard of morality. My standard is myself. What kind of a life do I want? Of course, this doesn't answer the question of WHY I want the kind of life I want. WHY do I want a quiet house with a wife and kids and no raping and killing? And the only answer I have is that I'm an animal created by evolution, and that's just the kind of animal I am. A shark is a shark, a lion is a lion, a chimpanzee is a chimpanzee. So lots of my preferences are just part of human nature, and my particular nature. I don't know why I don't like cauliflower, I just don't like it, even though some people do. It's my preference to not eat cauliflower, although I certainly will if I'm hungry and that's all there is. Same thing with, you know, liberal democracy. I like living in peace and security, although some people don't seem to agree given the choices they make. Well, I'll put up with a certain amount of nonsense, but past a certain point me and my 300 million friends are going to lock them in a cage for a while.

It has nothing to do with God or standards, except my personal standards. I realize that if I was born in Bronze Age Greece, I'd have slightly different standards, because I wouldn't understand the potential of liberal democratic capitalism, and industrialism, and the rule of law and such. But I'd be a lot the same too, because I'd still be a human being with a human nature that I share with most people, and I'd have my particular nature that I have just because I'm me.
#32
Old 06-19-2010, 01:49 PM
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@smiling_bandit

"I would note that throughout history there have been those who achieved some sort of superior moral understanding. These individuals claimed to know . And as justification, they did not offer a logos defense of their principles, but asserted that their prior ethical understanding was simply inadequate: that their new moral depth could not even be understood. That the rules they lived by had reasons, which they were barely able to begin to comprehend and which they could not describe in human language. They did not claim to have reasons but Reason itself. And while the way they described it varies, it is not substantially different from time to time and place to place. Lao Tsu, Buddha, St. Paul, Thomas Aquinas. They knew God was objectively right in claiming they had."

There are lots of warped morals that people believed in as well. I'm sure they were all in agreement that these things were moral.

King James Bible
Numbers 31: 17-18

"Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

God supported pedophilia. Apparently so did the Jews. I don't think that quite meshes with modern 'morality.' It's just more proof for relativism. As apparently we don't have the same values as our ancestors.

Numbers 31: 25-40

"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of beast, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the congregation:
And divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation:
And levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep:
Take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the LORD.
And of the children of Israel's half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.
And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.
And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep,
And threescore and twelve thousand beeves,
And threescore and one thousand asses,
And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.
And the half, which was the portion of them that went out to war, was in number three hundred thousand and seven and thirty thousand and five hundred sheep:
And the LORD'S tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen.
And the beeves were thirty and six thousand; of which the LORD'S tribute was threescore and twelve.
And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred; of which the LORD'S tribute was threescore and one.
And the persons were sixteen thousand; of which the LORD'S tribute was thirty and two persons."

These "persons" would have also included the "women children."

I don't think that their actions were right or wrong, but they certainly don't fit into today's values. When we see these middle eastern cultures that haven't progressed as much, we are basically just looking at older human culture.

In 1000 years we will probably have the same opinion about jail, schools, religion, government, law enforcement, etc.

Also, sorry you have such a vendetta against me. I hope you can let it go.
#33
Old 06-20-2010, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by scamartistry View Post
I have yet to hear a good argument FOR relativism, in where you cant say that one thing is "better" than the other.
Well, surely all but perhaps members of the most hardened orthodox monocultures agree with some degree of relativism. You don't seriously expect anyone to believe that you honestly propose that all humans be clones of yourself with all the exact same thoughts, beliefs, and preferences, do you?

Didn't think so. So you're a relativist too. Where the debate comes in is, which things, and to what degree, can we say that things are either inherent or subject to personal preference?

Then we get into the other important category besides inherent goodness or personal preference: *context*.

So for example, drawing an ace is "good" for the purpose of the the goal of winning a card game. But you can't say that drawing an ace is "good" outside of the context of card games.

A more difficult example: killing. Surely killing is never "good" right? On the other hand, what about pulling the plug on someone in horrible pain? Killing animals for food? Defending yourself or your country from attack?

Many supposedly good goals, such as, preserving life, preventing suffering, being intellectually honest, obeying your parents, freedom, honesty, providing food and shelter, often conflict with each other in ordinary circumstances.

And of course, some goals are even self-conflicting. In order to preserve ten lives, you may be forced to take one.

So you can see, no thing has inherent goodness. Things only have goodness with regard to their ability to further goals.

And even the goals themselves cannot be said to be inherently good - there are many possible candidates for worthwhile goals, but they can all potentially conflict with each other or even themselves.

Then of course we get to the specific controversy of cultural relativism. Of which there are:

1) Anthropological - I think this one is important - you can't study something properly without impartiality

2) Political - It's important to note that while hard relativism says that nothing is inherently "better" than anything else, it doesn't actually say that there is any reason not to act to further your own preferences.

So while raping little girls is not inherently "worse" than protecting them, it is of course at odd with the goals of gender equality, bodily privacy, preventing suffering, maintaining the innocence of children, etc. In those places or for those people for whom other goals take precedence, it may be considered "good" for their goals of power, or sexual satisfaction, or transferred revenge, etc.

I of course, prefer protecting little girls from rape. And I support taking action against other people and cultures that are a party to it. But I don't believe that most of them consider themselves to be doing "wrong". They are merely pursuing the goals and values which they consider to be important.

Now of course, while things don't have inherent goodness, most people are very adverse to pain, suffering, and death, plus they are hardwired with their mirror neurons to naturally imagine how others are feeling or would feel. So there is a solid basis for certain preferences to be more statistically likely.

Which gets us to the social contract. It's fun to think of people caring about others, and many of course, do. But even in the total absence of that, we could still have a nice society for ourselves with the social contract. By not doing the things we don't want have done to us, we silently communicate the kind of world we want to live in. The social contract, or golden rule, allows us to align with the majority of people with common goals or preference to create the kind of experience we want.

I think probably the most encompassing goal is freedom. Of course, freedom comes in three flavors, and these flavors can conflict:

1) Freedom to choose
2) Freedom to have
3) Freedom from

Quote:
Originally Posted by scamartistry View Post
To me its seem like a weak and sometime cowardly proposition.
I think it's very brave, to give such consideration and respect to the worth of human beings very different from yourself as to reexamine your own long term values and preferences.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smiling bandit View Post
Ultimately there is no rational basis for relativism. It cannot be maintained, because there is no innate morality to cultures.
I kind of thought the whole point of relativism *was* that there is no innate morality. Just because there is no morality does not mean that there is no basis for ones actions. There are still preferences and goals.

Last edited by jackdavinci; 06-20-2010 at 10:32 PM.
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