Some time ago I watched a discussion between Sam Harris and Craig, and I must admit, I'm confused about this "relative morality" concept. After a little research (very little though) I found this one site that said things about rape always being wrong and somehow that proves god exists. I'm really lost here. Not that that argument makes sense, but I still don't understand the whole point about arguing over this. Can someone please help me with this? I joined this community in hopes of learning more, so it's time to start, huh?

I apologize for my bad English and ignorance, but appreciate all the help I can get.

Tags: Ethics, Morality, Relative

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It's hard to determine what another persons thinks the word 'god' means.  There's a long history justifying your belief that your statements about it would be picked apart by others- they might even ignore your statements and just pick your body apart.  Thanks for the tip about reading some history of religion books - it never hurts to be reminded that there are others - so right back at you.     "...reached a conclusion that god doesn't exist in a physical place..."  If god doesn't exist, then certainly god doesn't exist in a physical place.

RE: "If god doesn't exist, then certainly god doesn't exist in a physical place"

I think you're missing my point, oneK - these groups weren't saying that god doesn't exist (I do, they didn't) - they were saying that he/she/it existed inside everything in existence, rather than in a heaven somewhere.

I suggest you research Israel ben Eliezer, of Poland, aka, "the Besht," among the Jews and Spinoza, among the Christians, who was considered an atheist because his views of Christianity differed so significantly from the typical Christian Trinitarian doctrines.

A good book with which to begin, would be A History of God, by Karen Armstrong, that will take you on an evolutionary journey into all of the many different concepts that arose, over time, throughout the Judeo/Christian/Islamic world.

BTW, onecae, any idea which one is you?:D big grin

I am the one looking at the screen.

Good to know.

Thank you for listing prerequisites for understanding you – parent, professor, boss. Note that I am not giving you a reading list; I can, but I think there’s a better way. Suppose for the purpose of this blog that we can understand each other by the words we write here and now. I’m already getting a picture of you as just a conduit/advertisement for the ideas of others – nothing original, all copy. If this is the case, then why should I believe your reading list is better than the thousands of reading lists provided by others?

God doesn’t exist?  God doesn’t exist in a physical location? What are you talking about?

I would answer that 1K, but I wouldn't want to waste your time (or mine) by regurgitating the ideas of others --

The religiously dogmatic are very fond of Black and White thinking, especially about morals. The either/or argument, essentially something is either good or bad, right or wrong. They are objective moralists embodied. For them, what their deity or scriptures say is morally correct is always correct under every circumstance with no exceptions to the rules.

The reason this is an important philosophical topic to consider, is because morals are not objective and viewing the world through this lens of objective morality leads to heavy dogma, militant belief, and often human suffering. Consider Sharia Law as presented by the Taliban as a good example.

Morals are ambiguous at best and depend heavily upon both the individual viewing the incident as well as the situation that encompasses the incident.

We see this frequently in our day to day society.

As an example, most human beings would agree that murder is morally wrong. Murder being defined as taking another human beings life before they would die from natural causes. However, we view soldiers as morally correct for killing enemies, although intrinsically they are still taking a life before it's time. We even view civilian deaths as being less morally wrong than "murder," but more morally wrong than killing an enemy combatant.

Furthermore, it is somehow more morally wrong to kill a child than it is to murder an adult. Even though rationally, an Adult offers more towards the function of our society than a child does and so their death will impact more individuals, it is still viewed as worse to kill the child.

As another example, most human beings would say that stealing is morally wrong. You should not take things that do not belong to you. However, this is not always true.

If a mother is too poor to afford food for her starving infant and therefor steals food to feed said infant, it is not viewed as being morally wrong. The reason being that the greater moral crime would be to allow the infant to starve to death.

From these examples we can conclude that there is no absolute and unbreakable moral code. Hence the term "relative morality," because one man's evil is another man's good.

The only potential objective moral code I am aware of is the golden rule. We can find evidence of it in most civilizations throughout history. Namely, "Do to someone else, what you would want them to do to you."

This general rule forms the basis for most normal human beings' moral codex: Don't kill people, Don't steal or otherwise take what is not yours (whether property or spouses), Don't cause harm, major discomfort or serious problems for others, treat people respectfully and kindly,  and help others when you can.

From this perspective you could say an objective morality exists. However, generally speaking if you can find a single bit of evidence to disprove a hypothesis (e.g. the earlier example about murder) than said hypothesis is not very sound. It would be better to either discard such a hypothesis, or to modify it so that it is more valid.

An interesting thing is that young children have an absolute moral code. They view the world as the religious do, with definitive rights and wrongs. Something is either good, and therefor should be rewarded, or bad and should be punished.

You can often discover how mentally developed a child is by posing the stealing mother story to them and asking if the mother was wrong to steal. More developed children will normally say the mother should not be punished, because she was only protecting her child, whereas the less mentally developed child will say the mother should be punished because stealing is wrong.

This is a decent article to help understand children's moral thinking and thereby understand the moral thinking of the religiously dogmatic.

Pay attention to the section on Jean Piaget. His work went a long way in helping me to understand people with unchangeable moral codes.

Without naming names, there appear to be a number of members posting here who drank the tainted Kool-Aid.

Most everyone here is saying that god does not exist.  So, even though it might be important to keep saying it - it's already a part of the argument.

People have created or discovered at least two categories of morality: Objective morality and Relative morality.  I argue that both exist and both are useful, and neither need the commonly understood idea of "god" to be valid. 

I think objective morality exists because  at least one "subjective other" exists independently of me and yet influences the manner in which I experience value. And I believe relative morality exists because I personally experience values that are independent of the existence of other.

Objective morality as commonly understood has to do with an independent (of man) standard of morality which is thus objective. Relative morality as commonly understood might be characterized as "It's what people think is right or wrong here and now in this time." Objective morality (if it existed) would be true at all times and across all cultures (even cultures who are unaware of it or disagree with it). Subjective moralities are bound to particular belief systems.

If you believe it's objectively true that eating cows is morally wrong, as Hindus believe, you believe that non-Hindus who eat cows are wrong even if they don't see it that way, because if you think something is objectively wrong, you believe it's really wrong not just for those of your ilk, but for anyone.

About the only way most ethicists can imagine an actual objective reality would be if it is propounded by a God with the godly power of "Because I say so." You're right, most of us here aren't buying into that one.

Using oddball definitions like yours just muddies the waters. Reasoned and understandable dialog depends on all involved in the discussion understanding the terms the same way. Otherwise, they might as well speak different languages.

My view on morality is that there is nothing objective about it and introducing a "subjective other" (whatever that means) doesn't change anything.

The waters were already muddied before I said anything. Nonetheless, your rules make sense –I'll abide by them, provided you also abide by them.

Morality pertains to defining right and wrong behavior.

If moral objectivism is defined as human value existing independently of humans, I can only agree with you that moral objectivism is impossible. Human value can't exist unless in some way humans exist. That's why I am letting you know that there is an other kind of definition – something else can be understood here besides nonsense.

Subjective other:

Subjective: existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought.

Other: different or distinct from the one mentioned or implied: in some other city; Some other design may be better.

As example: Is your rule about reasoned discussion and odd-ball terms muddying waters, relative?  I agreed to it on a provisional basis.  If there is violation of the rule, won't there be objective consequences that neither of us control? Won't the waters be muddied even if we hope and believe they won't be?

As another example: If you betray your friends, they will cease being your friends. That seems true and makes useful, objective sense.  It won't matter what I believe – the truth of the consequences of betrayal is independent of my opinion about it. That independence is what makes it objective.

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