Before I address the psychology of moral development, I would like to address a few issues that Novo raised.
Actually, While it may be new to western thought the concept of tolerance has been around for millenia. A excellent example of this is Bhuddism a religion based almost centrally on a belief in tolerance. During its peak a miniumum of 70% of the population of Asia were followers of Bhuddism.(However dont forget to take into account that the population of the continent of Asia has more then Quadrupled since this time)
I was of course speaking from a Western viewpoint, and as most of those reading this debate (and those participating in it) are from a Western culture, we all have roots going back to slavery and oppression. But for argument’s sake, it might be interesting to point out the animosity and violence between Buddhist Temples. Buddhism in itself may be a religion of tolerance, yet those who would claim to follow it have not always been so peace-loving. Debates between which temple was the best often led to bloodshed and death.
But kets look at a country like Iran. Iranians regulary hang and torture homosexuals, Using "Tyrannical Force" To oppress this group.
Thank you for most eloquently making my point
According to you, the United States do not use tyrannical force, but Iran does. Who decides this? You. Those in Iran would disagree. It’s tyrannical to hang and torture homosexuals. Is it tyrannical to imprison them? Is it tyrannical to stop them from having relations? Is it tyrannical to not allow them to marry? Is it tyrannical to allow them to be together but not give them the same rights as heterosexual couples?
I hope you are seeing my point. I am not disagreeing that what happens in Iran is not tyrannical, or that there is more to oppression than just this extreme example. But your ideals and morals on tyranny is just that – your ideals; and based purely on your own subjective experiences.
Actually, I do not know how American society did things, but in England and Australia, women who went out in “indecent apparel” were arrested. Hmmm.
Now, to moral development: Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg suggests six stages of moral development. Not all stages are relevant to this debate but for your information you can find an overview of these stages here:
Stages 1 and 2
Stages 3 and 4
Stages 5 and 6
Kohlberg asserts that most people live within stages 3 or 4, what he calls “Conventional Morality”
It would seem appropriate to at least quickly look at these conventional stages
Good behaviour is that which pleases or helps others and is approved by them. There is much conformity to stereotypical images of what is majority or 'natural' behaviour. Behaviour is frequently judged by intention. 'He means well' becomes important for the first time. One earns approval by being 'nice.'
People at this stage of development aren’t so much worried with moral standards as they are with currying favour from the majority. It often involves self-sacrifice and can appear to be morally right, but the rationale behind this action is a psychological need to please others. “The concern is ‘What will people think of me?’”
Right behaviour consists in doing one's duty, showing respect for authority and maintaining the given social order for its own sake. A person in this stage orients to society as a system of fixed rule, law and authority with the prospect of any deviation from rules as leading to social chaos.
This stage puts the wellbeing of the whole before the wellbeing of the individual. No one group or individual is above the law. Indeed, the Law goes beyond loyalty to your peer groups. “The concern now goes beyond one's immediate group(s) to the larger society ... to the maintenance of law and order.”
Obviously both these stages have possible pitfalls and traps to fall into. The foremost of these is that morals are based on personal ideals and experiences and not on a universal constant. But since I’ve already discussed subjectivity in my first post, I will let this slide. Instead, stage 3 poses the difficulty of being torn between 2 (or more) peer groups, for example a teenager being subject to his peers, and to his parents. Stage 4’s inadequacy lies in unquestioning obedience to the Law.
So with that background out of the way, how does this relate to oppressive cultures? Beyond the obvious, which I already stated as being at the heart of each and every stage, even the highest stage 6, it is based entirely on our own personal experience, our own culture, and our own situations, according to Kohlberg, no person can understand more than one stage beyond their own current level. A person in Stage 3 cannot understand stage 5 or 6 for example.
In its simplest form therefore, in regards to less developed, oppressive cultures, would they even understand why they are being invaded? To them, their actions are completely justified, and (I must stress) whether they are justified or not, how can they learn, if they do not understand?
Of course, there are those cultures that simply have a different set of morals and values to us, and may fit into the conventional stages of morality. The problem with judging a society is that each society thinks they are right. Who knows, one day 80 years in the future, people will look back on us today and say how oppressive we were, just as we look back on society 80 years ago and think we have developed. Most countries do not allow gay marriages. Most countries do not allow polygamy. Democracies and Republics have a majority rules vote, whether the majority is right or not. Sports matches are highly segregated and an “enemy supporter” who attends a home match can often be subject to curses, yells, screams or even violence. How will society in the future view us? Are we any better than the oppressive cultures of which you are advocating invasion?