Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 4
Lilly

Why Moral Relativism Doesn't Work

27 posts in this topic

I was struck the other day by how so many people think it's ok to apply relativistic thinking to what we accept as being 'right' or 'wrong'. The same people who will champion the rights of women, gays, various minority groups will also champion the right to systems like Sharia Law where women, gays and other religions are not treated equally at all. So what's going on here?  Well, they are applying moral relativism to every situation. However, this thinking really doesn't work very well in reality.

Here's a bit of an example: Suppose I steal your car, you would most likely claim that this is wrong, Therefore you are making a moral judgment that stealing is wrong. In order to make such a judgment you must believe that it is wrong to just take something belonging to someone else. So, what if I said that I had every right to take your car because all actions are relative and taking your car served my personal interests, so it was 'right' for me to have taken your car. I doubt you'd be in agreement with my thinking.

Truth and morals must have application within the real world. Morality must not simply serve our own personal preferences. People who accept moral relativism are sort of deluded into thinking they can pick and  choose whatever morals they imagine that best serves them (or their political/social /personal beliefs) at any given moment in time irrespective of any standard of right and wrong. This is why why moral relativism simply won't work in objective reality, there have to be standards.

7 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The trouble is, Lilly, there isn't a set of morals that 100% of the population agree with. 

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We need to put more emphasis on the consideration of others. Treat people as you yourself wants to be treated. Simple

7 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Here's a bit of an example: Suppose I steal your car, you would most likely claim that this is wrong, Therefore you are making a moral judgment that stealing is wrong. In order to make such a judgment you must believe that it is wrong to just take something belonging to someone else. So, what if I said that I had every right to take your car because all actions are relative and taking your car served my personal interests, so it was 'right' for me to have taken your car. I doubt you'd be in agreement with my thinking.

It's not technically necessary to even bring in morality if I steal your car.  My judgment that stealing is wrong isn't just supported by mere morality, it's supported also by the objective fact that it's almost impossible to have a civilization if people are allowed to kill and steal from each other.  This gets us around the kind of 'morality' that is concerned with people's sexuality and how they express it that many people deem 'immoral' according to their relative morality, but that does not in any significant way work to the detriment of or harm anybody else.

I don't necessarily think morals are necessarily completely relative once we define 'morality', it's just that it's difficult to go through all of the extraneous factors and conditions that may exist that impact one's evaluation of it.  If your car is parked on the street and you're not around and someone has a heart attack on the street and needs to get to the hospital asap, if I have no other options then stealing your car to get them there it is not morally wrong; it's morally wrong for me not to steal it. 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, ouija ouija said:

The trouble is, Lilly, there isn't a set of morals that 100% of the population agree with. 

Exactly, and this is why people have nations, constitutions, the rule of law.

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The same people who will champion the rights of women, gays, various minority groups will also champion the right to systems like Sharia Law where women, gays and other religions are not treated equally at all.

Have you actually experienced this, because I'm "the same people who champion the rights of women and minorities" and I don't support Sharia Law. Maybe you have a different idea what Sharia Law is, as how some people think it's here because Muslim women can wear a burkini. 

7 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is sinister plot behind all this nu-think. "nu-Science" where basic biology is classified as "hate speech". "Nu-morality" where it becomes completely subjective. It all started in Academia with the Olde Worlde Commie professors. Most of them are gone but the coals of their radical ideas have been stoked back to a flame with this generation.

Communism and Moral Ambiguity

Quote

There is no possible way a German citizen could have honestly morally defended Nazi policies so the only way for this rise to power to occur was to abdicate moral absolutism to vagueness, moral relativism, and evasion.  The same is absolutely true of communism, which abdicates life, mind, and self to the collective and the state.  

Sound familiar? The fringe left doesn't argue, they evade. They use vague terminology ("racist", "white privilege", etc) and they practice only moral relativism.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, khol said:

We need to put more emphasis on the consideration of others. Treat people as you yourself wants to be treated. Simple

This one is good too: One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.

Edited by Mystic Crusader
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Liquid Gardens said:

 

I don't necessarily think morals are necessarily completely relative once we define 'morality', it's just that it's difficult to go through all of the extraneous factors and conditions that may exist that impact one's evaluation of it.  If your car is parked on the street and you're not around and someone has a heart attack on the street and needs to get to the hospital asap, if I have no other options then stealing your car to get them there it is not morally wrong; it's morally wrong for me not to steal it. 

This actually illustrates my point regarding why we have the rule of law. If the owner of the car that a person took to save a life tried to press charges (and IMO most people would not) then a Judge would make a ruling. I suspect the ruling would support human life being more important than property (in others words the charges would be dropped).

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, ChaosRose said:

The same people who will champion the rights of women, gays, various minority groups will also champion the right to systems like Sharia Law where women, gays and other religions are not treated equally at all.

Have you actually experienced this, because I'm "the same people who champion the rights of women and minorities" and I don't support Sharia Law. Maybe you have a different idea what Sharia Law is, as how some people think it's here because Muslim women can wear a burkini. 

I've seen people marching in support of Sharia Law who were also affiliated with left leaning groups that claim to support civil rights for women and gays.

I have a very good idea of exactly what Sharia Law supports. My cousin (who's as close to me as a sister) lived in Kuwait for 14 years. She speaks, reads and writes Arabic and is quite familiar with Sharia Law.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Lilly

I completely agree with the OP :tu: (with the exception of that whole sharia law stuff, that's a bit weird :unsure:)

But given that I've already had a long Argument with Podo Recently on this subject (and I don't remember which thread that was in. :hmm: Anyway...), I really don't feel like typing it all out again...

I'm not an Atheist, I'm a Spiritualist. However I find Sam Harris's position on objective morals to be spot on. :yes: I completely agree with his position, and I highly recommend his book The Moral Landscape. And just to give people an idea of his position, here's the (somewhat) famous TED talk he did explaining this position:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Lilly said:

This actually illustrates my point regarding why we have the rule of law. If the owner of the car that a person took to save a life tried to press charges (and IMO most people would not) then a Judge would make a ruling. I suspect the ruling would support human life being more important than property (in others words the charges would be dropped).

It seems in a way though that we've somewhat argued against the idea then that at least some definitions of moral relativism won't work (while recognizing that moral relativism can refer to many different things), by noting that different countries have different rules of law and constitutions.  I'm not sure if you are treating 'rule of law' as something different from 'moral' though for the purposes of this conversation.

Let's say it's immoral to restrict free speech (with reasonable exceptions).  In America, we are free (from government repercussions) to say whatever we want about religions, races, gender, etc.  In other countries they think 'hate speech' or denying the holocaust for example is also immoral, even though America doesn't view it the same way.  America's morals are relative to those other countries, and they both 'work' in objective reality.

I think you are talking more about moral relativism at a fundamental level though, essentially that 'moral' can mean anything.  My definition of the word 'morality' doesn't really include or provide much weight to my individual 'personal preferences'; to me it really stretches the word 'morality' to mean 'what is best and right is that I get everything I want'.  No, there is no objective 'right' or 'wrong' but you can get pretty close once a definition of 'morality' is agreed upon, you can then somewhat objectively within that definition evaluate whether a particular action is moral or not.  People can deceive others solely for their own pleasure and can even refer to themselves as thus having integrity; I don't know that I'd call that 'integrity relativism' as much as I'd simply label it an invalid definition for the word 'integrity'.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Moral standards are inextricably tied to the cultural complex from which they arise. While there will always be some commonality between those of different cultures, there will always be distinct differences. We abide by those of our own, wherever we are, but when in Rome, we are bound by what the Romans do.

Edited by Hammerclaw
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

12 minutes ago, Hammerclaw said:

Moral standards are inextricably tied to the cultural complex from which they arise. While there will always be some commonality between those of different cultures, there will always be distinct differences. We abide by those of our own, wherever we are, but when in Rome, we are bound by what the Romans do.

You are absolutely wrong, Hammerclaw. Your post would suggest that the basis of "Multiculturalism" is wrong, and denies the Cultural EnrichmentTM we gain from it. 

 Obviously,. that is impossible. Therefore you are a fascist racist sexist greasy islamophobicTM hate mongerTM

Sorry, but.. that is the lawTM :( 

(In Germany.. and possibly Canada.. you can be arrested and imprisoned for it )

(In IslamicTM countries, you would be stoned to death for it... in an Enlightened and Morally Relevant way)

Edited by RoofGardener
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, RoofGardener said:

You are absolutely wrong, Hammerclaw. Your post would suggest that the basis of "Multiculturalism" is wrong, and denies the Cultural EnrichmentTM we gain from it. 

 Obviously,. that is impossible. Therefore you are a fascist racist sexist greasy islamophobicTM hate mongerTM

Sorry, but.. that is the lawTM :( 

(In Germany.. and possibly Canada.. you can be arrested and imprisoned for it )

(In IslamicTM countries, you would be stoned to death for it... in an Enlightened and Morally Relevant way)

This is suppose to be funny, right? Of course, some people's definition of "multiculturalism" is when all cultures abide by the precepts of their own, negating the "multi" part of multiculturalism.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, Hammerclaw said:

This is suppose to be funny, right? Of course, some people's definition of "multiculturalism" is when all cultures abide by the precepts of their own, negating the "multi" part of multiculturalism.

I was being cynical, Hammerclaw :P 

In the UK, "multicultural" is INDEED defined as "every culture should be respected, except the 'indigenous' one"

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

18 hours ago, Lilly said:

I was struck the other day by how so many people think it's ok to apply relativistic thinking to what we accept as being 'right' or 'wrong'. The same people who will champion the rights of women, gays, various minority groups will also champion the right to systems like Sharia Law where women, gays and other religions are not treated equally at all. So what's going on here?  Well, they are applying moral relativism to every situation. However, this thinking really doesn't work very well in reality.

Here's a bit of an example: Suppose I steal your car, you would most likely claim that this is wrong, Therefore you are making a moral judgment that stealing is wrong. In order to make such a judgment you must believe that it is wrong to just take something belonging to someone else. So, what if I said that I had every right to take your car because all actions are relative and taking your car served my personal interests, so it was 'right' for me to have taken your car. I doubt you'd be in agreement with my thinking.

Truth and morals must have application within the real world. Morality must not simply serve our own personal preferences. People who accept moral relativism are sort of deluded into thinking they can pick and  choose whatever morals they imagine that best serves them (or their political/social /personal beliefs) at any given moment in time irrespective of any standard of right and wrong. This is why why moral relativism simply won't work in objective reality, there have to be standards.

I dislike standards, in a strong sense. 

I believe in relativism more so than anything, and i think standards diminish the human dimension and possibility. Perhaps even evolution of our species is hindered...

Furthermore, what good do they serve in the real world anyway? Those that have a relative moralising compass that puts your rights far behind their own wont care about standards.

 

Edited by Wes4747
point already made

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing is if all actions are simply relative to cultural/social/political/religious beliefs then literally 'anything goes' depending upon which way the wind is currently blowing. You want humans to be free to evolve as a species, good luck if there are no laws and/or moral standards. No real laws or standards, or laws and standards based only upon whoever has the brute force to rule, will always end up being abusive. Check out history as there are countless examples of this taking place. There has to be some type of moral standard that's applied outside of ego driven human nature in order for real human progress to take place.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Lilly said:

The thing is if all actions are simply relative to cultural/social/political/religious beliefs then literally 'anything goes' depending upon which way the wind is currently blowing.

They are and you are correct that 'anything goes' depending on circumstances.

42 minutes ago, Lilly said:

You want humans to be free to evolve as a species, good luck if there are no laws and/or moral standards.

Good luck if those laws and/or moral standards run counter to your personal beliefs.

43 minutes ago, Lilly said:

No real laws or standards, or laws and standards based only upon whoever has the brute force to rule, will always end up being abusive

Someone has to make the laws and the standards.  Using the term 'brute force' is very emotive and not constructive to the discussion of who makes the standards.  I wouldn't say the conservative, christian government in the UK rules by brute force but they do set the laws we have to follow - I follow them even though I strongly disagree with them.

46 minutes ago, Lilly said:

There has to be some type of moral standard that's applied outside of ego driven human nature in order for real human progress to take place.

Not at all.  We have never had a moral standard that can be applied universally and yet we have made 'real' progress...whatever 'real' means. 

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, I'mConvinced said:

 I wouldn't say the conservative, christian government in the UK rules by brute force but they do set the laws we have to follow - I follow them even though I strongly disagree with them.

I'm intrigued as to which of our laws you 'strongly disagree with'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If ones disagrees strongly with the laws and moral standards of one nation then there is always the option to look at other nations for a 'better fit' so to speak.

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ouija ouija said:

I'm intrigued as to which of our laws you 'strongly disagree with'.

The Psychoactive Substances Bill - a ludicrous catch-all that has done more harm than good.

The Investigatory Powers Bill (Snoopers charter) - 100,000 people signed the petition against this one but it has never been open for public debate.

Voting on Brexit - An insidious campaign fought on falsehoods and misdirection that was more to do with internal politics than anything in the interest of the people.

1 hour ago, Lilly said:

If ones disagrees strongly with the laws and moral standards of one nation then there is always the option to look at other nations for a 'better fit' so to speak.

Just because I strongly disagree with something doesn't mean I want to leave all friends and family behind in order to not be governed by it.  Even if I wanted to move to a completely secular state (does such a thing exist?) I'm not able to do so without incredibly lengthy and expensive process that has no guarantee of success.

 

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/27/2017 at 9:57 AM, Dark_Grey said:

There is sinister plot behind all this nu-think. "nu-Science" where basic biology is classified as "hate speech". "Nu-morality" where it becomes completely subjective. It all started in Academia with the Olde Worlde Commie professors. Most of them are gone but the coals of their radical ideas have been stoked back to a flame with this generation.

Communism and Moral Ambiguity

Sound familiar? The fringe left doesn't argue, they evade. They use vague terminology ("racist", "white privilege", etc) and they practice only moral relativism.

Peaceful coexistence among groups of human beings is only possible in the long-term when they can agree- cheerfully or not - to abide by a common set of rules for all.  I think that the greatest danger to western civilization today comes not from Russia, China or the Norks.  The seeds of our potential demise have been planted in our educational institutions while we were distracted by the goal of becoming "self-actualized".  We have turned our gaze inward to such a degree that we don't willingly identify with our commonality any longer.  In short, we seem to be regressing back to a time of childishness.  

I had a discussion with an individual on the ATLANTIC after the recent Alabama Senate election and the level of vitriol some of the comments contained was shocking.  The guy said it was too bad that Lincoln didn't have 150 more "Shermans" to send "down there" so that "this problem wouldn't exist today".  He seemed to be pondering the actual destruction of an entire sub-culture of human beings whose only "crime" was to disagree.  It doesn't require much imagination to see where that trend will take us.

 

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, and then said:

It doesn't require much imagination to see where that trend will take us.

Yep...history tells us how this ends. Right now they use bike locks and pepper spray...another year from now? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 4

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.