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.
I think you get it!
Universality is that insane concept of seeing every single perspective to make the best possible, most ethical decision, and is also completely impossible without that whole omniscience thing.
Yet we all strive to make the best possible, most ethical decision in every possible moment.
We humans are a sad lot...
Ever see a bird consider global warming when building a nest? Ignorance may be bliss after all.
I agree, total knowledge of present and future is impossible. Total freedom of choice in how to act, is also impossible.
What's more, there may be disagreement over which outcome is the best one. Like @Walrus T said, it depends on your values.
Strong in this sense means minimal, with the fewest disclaimers and conditions. For example "do not lie to your friends, unless you are certain it would spare them their feelings" is not a particularly strong law. "Do not lie" is a strong law.
That being said, the integrity of the law is more important that how strong it is. The ethics game almost always leads to tests, usually by applying them to the most extreme problems (like would you smother a crying baby who will give away your location and that of many others to the Gestappo). Different moral systems deal with these extremes in different ways.
Deontological ethics claim that the integrity of a rule is lost if you abandon this rule under difficult circumstances. This is especially the case when the agent starts to make assumptions "if I do this, then that may happen, so I won't follow this law because I don't want x to happen". This is even worse, because your assumption may not be correct in the first place, meaning you are abandoning your moral law not because of a concrete undesireable result but because you assume there will an undesireable concrete result.
21st century deontological ethics have taken some interesting turns. One of the most interesting is that it is human nature to break our moral laws (or for the consciousness to to trick you with cognitive bias). Meaning, it is not desireable to break these rules when under extreme pressure, however if you do, it's not a surprise...but one should at least be honest about what you are doing, admit that you are breaking your rule for an arbitrary reason (especially if it is based on uncertain assumptions) and to be careful not to repeat it, or to modify the rule. And if one repeats this, then at some point one has railed on this rule and the rule no longer has any integrity.
As for moral universality, that's part of Kant's deontological rule, but not in all 21st century ones. That is, you need not project your own law onto others or civil society, but form your own strong and integral laws. As for certain universal traits being quite human, moral systems almost always conflict with "human nature" which is why we have rational moral systems in the first place.
As for homosexual being universally prohibited, that is not at all true. Homosexuality has been accepted, or at least tollerated by multiple cultures on all continents from primitive to highly advanced cultures where homosexuals have played roles in society ranging from having spiritualistic duties to even being leaders. It's best to take off the Abrahamic-glasses through which many people see universal-homophobic-traits. It's simply not the case.
"moral systems almost always conflict with "human nature" which is why we have rational moral systems in the first place."
- but surely all we have to work with is human nature. If people are recommended to do things that are not in human nature, they probably won't do them.
All that talk of "rules", "integrity", "extreme conditions" etc. sounds artificial, when what would actually benefit people is an informative guide to steering their own evolved human organism into the best behaviour on an everyday basis.
I think that the profitable way to proceed is: 1) observe what is the best of how people behave; 2) find out why they [want to] behave that way. But this is in a situation with more than one person, and there's also the more fundamental question of individual thriving. Together, these can be seen as ethics, morality and spirituality, all from an evolutionary perspective.
All that talk of "rules", "integrity", "extreme conditions" etc. sounds artificial,
Simon, all terms are artificial. Have you ever had an intellectual discussion without used defined terms? Rules, integrity and extreme conditions are fundamental vocabulary in every single moral and ethical system ever devised or theorised. If you chuck those out, then you are left with virtually nothing. These are the kinds of words people use when they don't want to engage like "all that climate change stuff sounds like gobbledgook" or "this is just intellectual babble...we need someone to give it to us straight and tell us like it is". Fine, just throw out critical thinking along with the bathwater and goodluck.
when what would actually benefit people is an informative guide to steering their own evolved human organism into the best behaviour on an everyday basis.
I see, so instead of having a minimalist framework of a few well defined concepts to help one devise a set of rational, coherent and consistent rules...you'd rather there be a list of rules that people can use to devise their own rules. Don't look far. You'll find it in the bible or the Soviet-Book-of-Virtuous-Living or the Boy-Scouts-of-America-Code-of-Behaviour. Or perhaps you can just read Deepak Chropras book on "The seven spiritual laws of sucess" where you have all sorts of meditative washy watery guidelines to help you live. If what you are saying is some generated list of moral living suggestions based on some set of research...from the very beginning that will include an ideology of some kind...which will have many of those artificial sounding terms you are uncomfortable with. It cannot be avoided.
on an everyday basis.
Moral and ethical systems deal with everyday decisions but also prepare for the very difficult ones. What moral system doesn't deal with everyday decisions Simon?
Let's look at your advice:
1) observe what is the best of how people behave;
Mmmm....sounds like you'll need a moral system or an arbitrary list of what good behaviour is before you can do that. No? Or is there some rational and obvious scientifical formula that will define "best behaviour" without all those artificial sounding terms? Or without a culturally embedded moral system?
find out why they [want to] behave that way.
This has been studied (and is heavily being studied), having said that, it is always done in a cultural/ideological context. Research by westerners about westerners will give very different results of a study by North Koreans for North Koreans or Saudi Arabians for Saudi Arabians. Research by anyone on all subjjects everywhere will result in a confusing mess which, with time, can result in some general principles, but so few that "motivation" behind actions cannot be reduced to a non-subjective formula.
Your individual thriving meme is an ideological concept that you embrace. Others don't. It is also highly subjective...what thriving means for you means something very different for others. Shall we just take yours and impose that on others? Should we take this ideology and define a moral system for those who want no part in (according to them) some artificial subjective moral ideology?
Together, these can be seen as ethics, morality and spirituality, all from an evolutionary perspective.
sI don't see any ethics anywhere in your list of three concepts. Find out what is best for people? Cannot be done without an ideology or rulebook first. Which one are you going to pick?
I don't see spirituality except for your personal ideology of "individual thriving" which is hardly universally accepted.
As for evolutionary perspective...our own genetic code prepares us for a very minimalist life with little social contact and small tribal living in huge areas of land. It has not prepared us for living in highly advanced societies in dense centres with highly complex and intricate social interaction and a never ending tirade of difficult problems, decisions and solutions to make on a fast ad-hoc basis. You will find little in our evolutionary code on how to make difficult decisions like "should I pirate/download this song"? or "should a doctor, lawyer, psychologist and family member all have to consent to euthanasia on a coherent agent, able to concent and suffering terriblyy"?. Or how about "rules on plagerism per innapropriately sources material"? Or how about "prohibition of drone planes close to airports, military facilities, childrens schools and within 10 meters of any household". Our moral framework utterly fails us when it comes to complex systems as it was never sophisticated enough to deal with it nor has possibly had time to catch up with it. That's why we have made up so much of it as we have gone and have been able to introduce broad general principles of treating one another like "respect for personal autonomy" or "privacy" or "non-interference" ... all those "artificial terms" because compared to the enviroment we evolved from...we live in an "extremely artificial world" with "extremely artificial world views" with "extremely artificial social interaction" all entirely outisde of the scope of our "innate moral framework".
"Simon, all terms are artificial"
- what I mean is, these are terms about artificial things that have very little connection to the real world. So what's the point acting as if they do?
"so instead of having a minimalist framework of a few well defined concepts to help one devise a set of rational, coherent and consistent rules."
- the minimalist framework of a few well defined concepts is what should be guiding people on an everyday basis. Where is it? So far, there is none.
"What moral system doesn't deal with everyday decisions Simon?"
- what one does? Out of those invented by any modern moral philosophers. Which one is used by everyday people on an everyday basis? The only ones I can think of that fit the bill are the religious ones.
"observe what is the best of how people behave;"
- you need a value or goal that you want to achieve, and the most effective way that people achieve it in real life.
"Research by anyone on all subjjects everywhere will result in a confusing mess which, with time, can result in some general principles, but so few that "motivation" behind actions cannot be reduced to a non-subjective formula."
- this is true in a way, because cultural morality varies so widely the world over. However, there is a core set of values that belongs to the whole human race by virtue of our common heritage living in small groups, that is modulated according to local cultural conditions.
"a non-subjective formula."
- here's the rub: any choice of values is an arbitrary, conscious choice.
"It is also highly subjective...what thriving means for you means something very different for others."
- that's true, but I don't need to define it closely. It means something to everyone; it is centrally important to everyone. It can be well defined as feeling good either in the short or long term. Even after the event, it can be debateable whether someone thrived or not: most situtions bring about a mixed bag of results.
"Should we take this ideology and define a moral system for those who want no part in (according to them) some artificial subjective moral ideology?"
- that would be a good idea, since artificial moral ideology seems like mostly a waste of time. It's good that people are thinking about it: but there is a lot of rubbish in their heads.
- the best that people do, according to some underlying value or values. Preferably, values and principles that are seen as ethical by everyone [normal; i.e. not Isis].
"I don't see spirituality except for your personal ideology of "individual thriving" which is hardly universally accepted."
- it's one widely accepted definition of spiritiuality. Of course, there are other things that can be called spiritual.
- our basic universal values are part of our evolutionary heritage. These basic universal values can be transported into probably any situation as reference points.
"Your individual thriving meme is an ideological concept that you embrace. Others don't."
- some don't, some do, like most things:
From "Can Bacteria Help Us Understand Religion?" in this week's Sunday School:
"This means that we are social animals, and the way that we survive and thrive is by gathering information, which we mostly get from other human beings."
"This whole system of trading information exists to help us survive and thrive,"
"Surviving and thriving" are seen here as goals.
Thanks for reaching out.
I have read multiple philosophers and their reasoning which allows for them to record their personal methods for determining the best ethical decision.
Before I can justify anything I say, I always start from the fundamental truth;
All is One. There is no Time.
I will respond to each of your questions. I will not assume or infer beyond the words you used.
1) A singularity (black hole) could work like a drain on a cosmological scale. The material goes in, does not come out because it is "out of sight, out of mind". Once death takes us, we become the same relative to existence. Our bodies persist until they become dust. Our memory persists until all people with which we interacted die. Our art may persist for generations, but only the best makes it through millennia. Never the less, the dead always add to the shoulders upon which the living stand.
No one has proven what is on the other end of a black hole; could be nearly anything? On Cosmos, Tyson had a great segment showing himself standing in a city square and said, "What is on the other side of a black hole? Just look around you." (Paraphrase from memory)
2) Moral laws? Each societal group determines acceptable morality. We know racism is totally fine depending on your group, your location and the year in which you live. We know cannibalism is acceptable as long as it is not your family; kill and eat the enemy? No problem! We know cancer is horrible because it kills humans, but cancer itself is just life doing everything it can to survive.
To an individual, all is permitted. To a group, individual A's rights end when B is threatened. To the Earth, humanity could die off tomorrow and it will continue to exist as a rock trapped by the sun.
3) Everything we are is quantum effects which sum up atoms which sum up cells which sum up the human body which sums up an individual human. We don't notice these levels of reality even though it is the basis upon which all reality rests.
Tensors are a numerical representation of vectors or forces acting upon objects. Newton proved all forces have an equal and opposite force to balance the system. This basic truth explains how force translates to motion and could be expanded to visualize the interactions of a boxing match. The force exerted by Boxer A is received by Boxer B. The force vectors can be modeled, but the total beauty of the match is lost when reduced to simple force vectors on dynamic objects. We need the whole experience to understand why the sportsmen put themselves through such harsh training just to stand on the stage and beat another man.
As all reality can be understood through the fractal, we can understand human nature through our genetic code; we are the sum of genes from all over the living kingdom. Each individual is unique and then has a unique experience which produces a unique psyche which justifies each and every decision through their own unique understanding of reality.
I did my best. I hope it isn't completely insane :)
"Morality must also be relative, but relative to what?"
- you could say, relative to the environment, because human morality (i.e. based on cooperation) is a biological and evolutionary adaptation by our species (and ancestors) aimed at thriving, surviving and reproducing in a difficult environmental niche. In other words, we need to team up and work together to survive. Our nearest relatives, chimps and bonobos, only have to pick fruit off a tree, in order to feed their bellies. This does not take teamwork. They can afford to be competitive and still survive. Humans cannot afford to be anything like as competitve and self-centred: we need to work together to obtain the necessaries of life. Consequently we need to be tolerant and behave with fairness.
"relative to the environment"
- what's more, Michael Tomasello holds that local differences in culture and morality are adaptations to different local conditions - both physical and social. For example, the introduction of farming introduced the accumulation of personal wealth, which led to the reintroduction of power hierarchies to society. The need to keep wealth within the family is one factor that's led to the subjugation of women, as the family needs to know the paternity of women's offspring. Another factor is the need to arrange marriages to maintain tribal politics.
Einstein didn't prove "everything" is relative. If you think he did show us the proof. Cite his exact words and the paper or remarks where he stated that. If you can do that then I'll accept your thesis.
I strongly suggest you read both the General and Special Relativity papers; you won't find any reference to "everything" (whatever you mean by that word) being "relative".
Sorry guy but I find your ignorance offensive especially in light of all the other posters rightly denying your belief.
I am sorry you find my ignorance offensive. That is not intentional.
Each and every individual thing in existence experiences time at it's own pace. As the brain can interpret time, that is how it goes.
Thus, time is relative.
Is Time real?
Reality can be modeled as 3 dimensions plus a 4th dimension of time when we track a particle across time. But the Now is the only true moment. Everything before and after is not true at this moment because only the now can exist within the now.
So, is time real or just how we measure the incessant ticking of the clock?
All things exist thanks to the near infinite levels of support which we all receive every second of everyday. You survive because your organs all work together because the cells within function based on repeatable chemical signals which only operate at all due to the cell structures like mitochondria acting like a battery which is only possible due to the electrons pushing and pulling allowing for chemistry to function which operate in ways we have only guessed at through the human investigation into physics. Everything you are is based on something much more fundamental.
Your life is relative to all of that stuff functioning.
You are relative to your parents' coupling.
You do not exist without the infinite coincidences which permitted you to be in this moment.
Everything is relative. You just have to see the connections.
All is One.
There is No Time.
Homo sapiens sapiens is a social animal and as such needs to cooperate with each other. Morality or Ethics is nothing more than the need to cooperate for the good of the unit (Family or group). Good practices mean healthy group dynamics while antisocial behavior generally can effectively disrupt social dynamics. It is better for the group whatever if's size if the members work together to make sure the group not only survives but grow in ability to prosper.
Morality is built into human nature otherwise we would no longer exist. Caring for others is is basic to human nature and the basis of morality. Fi on philosophical theories to explain why morals and ethics exist, it's built into human nature.