Einstein proved everything is relative.

Morality must also be relative, but relative to what?

I argue our morality is obviously relative to Humans, thus all moral arguments we are able to judge must reference a human mind.

Now that we know morality is relative to humans, how best to comport ourselves?

I argue we must obviously follow the path of least harm. It seems completely obvious to me we all must comport ourselves in a fashion which we exact the least harm on others and the world as possible.

Anything after these rules is up to the individual.


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Not so fast there Andrew. You missed the point.

If you don't each chicken you are causing chicken farmers and their families harm. Domestic chickens wouldn't exist unless they were farmed. Somehow you have decided that killing a chicken causes "harm". It is not that easy. Many would disagree with this assertion. If you lived in an arid land with no supermarkets or highways your sense of harm would be different I bet.You are not  the judge of what is harmful, that is my problem with your oversimplification of morality.

Oh and I was an overly sensitive kid and my childhood friend hit me during an argument, chances are I would benefit from the experience.

Robert, as I said, just living causes harm.

Monks seal their lips to avoid speaking a single lie because it could cause harm. I have read Jains take grueling steps to make sure they do as little harm as possible.

I can't define what you see as harm. Morality is subjective and personal. We all know the universe cares little for our problems.

I advocate the ideal goal of Never inflict Harm, but as a realist I change it to Inflict as little harm as is possible from my personal perspective.

My choice to avoid meat removes incentive, no matter how small, for the chicken farmer to continue raising and killing chickens.

The choices I personally make to survive out of necessity are different than the choices I make to thrive in San Diego, CA.

I mentioned the childhood thing because my best friend at the time slugged me in the gut when I was acting childish. I felt harm, but I grew as a person.

RE: I argue we must obviously follow the path of least harm. It seems completely obvious to me we all must comport ourselves in a fashion which we exact the least harm on others and the world as possible.

How do you define what is "harmful" to another person? And how do you "know" that your actions will produce the outcome you "think" it will? On what basis do you define harm to others?
Lol I just read Robert's comments after posting mine. I think we are on a similar train of thought.

"how do you "know" that your actions will produce the outcome you "think" it will?

- virtue.  "No good comes of no good".  If we behave knowledgeably and properly then that is the best chance that the result will be a good one.  The Buddhists say that any action that is tainted by greed, hatred or ignorance is "contaminated" and will probably have an "unsatisfactory" outcome. 

Thank you, Simon. I think you get it.

I do not believe you do major harm on purpose without pressure.

I cannot determine what is harmful for every scenario; that is too much to ask of me. You understand harm and you know when you are inflicting harm with an immediate action.

Vegans and environmentalists advocate humans eat as little meat as possible. Vegans do not wish harm is done to animals. Environmentalists do not wish harm to the environment through factory farming. There is some overlap between both groups, but they both try to do as little harm as possible.

You must decide on your own what is harmful as I cannot do it for you.

To propose that morality "is relative to humans" makes no sense.  When certain behaviors or attitudes are described as relative, that means they are relative to circumstances and to one another.  That is, they are not absolutely fixed in their qualities (not always good or bad) but, rather, are influenced by conditions.  In other words, their relationship to a situation affects the degree to which we can call them good or bad, right or wrong. 

In his book, The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris contends that science can help determine morality and the moral relativism is wrong.  It's vast and intricate topic, once that really can't be treated superficially.

How can a human judge the morality of a black hole eating a star? I know I can't.

How can a human judge the morality of a stray dog attacking a cat? I know I can't.

This is why human morality must be relative to humans. Maybe you have a different opinion and that is totally fine. This whole post is from my perspective.

I loved The Moral Landscape. Of course situational morality is intricate, technical, complicated.

What are your simple rules to navigate the landscape and keep yourself at the peaks instead of the valleys?

My basic rule is, when my actions affect others, and even myself, to give the maximum possible benefit and to inflict the least possible harm available, to each person affected.  This invokes the following moral principles:  compassion (generalised), empathy, fairness, responsibility (for one's actions), personhood (self-other equivalence) and the Golden Rule. 

If you're interested in the actual subject of morality, I highly recommend "A Natural History of Morality" by Michael Tomasello. 

I don't think benefit and harm need to be defined too closely, as they are so different and various depending on the situtation.  Anything that happens to us has mixed benefit and harm involved anyway.  I think it is enough to talk about "long term benefit / harm" and "short term benefit / harm".  We are exquisitely attuned to what benefits and harms us (through the emotions).  Some things which feel good in the short term are bad for us in the long term, and vice versa. 

From what I've been reading, there are two kinds of morality:  universal and relative. 

The universal applies to the qualities of "sympathy" (compassion + empathy = targeted helping) and "fairness" (treating people as they deserve).  These evolved before we lived in big groups, to do with cooperating on a one-to-one basis or in small numbers.  Along with these go "partner choice" or who we choose to associate with based on how agreeable they are, and reputation. 

Relative morality is cultural morality:  how these values connect to living within a large cultural group, and how they play out according to local laws, norms and customs. 

So culture and convention vary widely, but basic human values are universal. 

I was immediately confused by universal and relative since something, X, is relative to something, Y.

Is this correct?

Universal morality: Individual Human among large Human group.

Relative morality: Individual Human among small Human group.


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