Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: MORAL RELATIVISM

  1. Top | #1
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    6,908
    Rep Power
    17

    MORAL RELATIVISM

    Claim: Morality is relative.

    There may be some overlap here with what I have said in my thread on moral consequentialim. In total, I am claiming that morality is consequentialist, pragmatic and now here, also relative.

    What I mean by those terms may not be the same as used in other forms of claims about them.

    A. In the first instance I would say that morality is not externally independent, absolute or fully objective (by which I mean not subject to collective subjectivities) and therefore only pertains or is relevant in certain domains and is therefore relative to domain.

    B. One such domain may be that of a biological species. When we talk of morality, we often implicitly mean human morality. But in reality, we actually mean morality relative to our species.

    Tangentially, I am allowing for other species to have (at least a very basic) morality, both other actual species and hypothetical or possible ones we haven’t encountered yet.

    I am also allowing that entities other than biological species could have morality (eg via non-biological artificial intelligence) though it does not appear this has happened, yet, that we know of.

    So, straight off the bat, morality is relative, it seems, and because of A and B, we are also talking about a sense of morality, not morality itself.

    C. Regarding human morality only (or more properly the human sense of morality), is that relative? I claim yes.

    The first and most obvious way that human morality is relative is that it only applies to living humans, not dead ones (a bit pedantic and involving a questionable definition, I know). Possibly only those that are also awake and not asleep.

    It is also relative to brain development and function. I might call these cognitive capacities. In principle they may be conscious or not.

    For example, some humans may have what we label a ‘defect’ (something that is deemed to be a defect in other words, according to human sense). Psychopathology might be an example. Dementia might be another. It could also be a lesion or injury.

    Another example would be about brain development. Morality is relative to this, and to age. We would not apply the same morality to fetuses, infants or children, even though they are all human.

    So again, it seems, morality (moral sense) is already relative, straight off the bat, even for humans.

    D. So what’s our next relevant domain? Perhaps it’s "living, awake, adult, developed, ‘normally-functioning’ humans". That last criterion is going to be fuzzy, but I’m going to skip over it for now, but may come back to it later.

    So for that domain, is morality (moral sense) relative? I’m going to say yes.

    In the first instance, it clearly varies by, and is therefore clearly relative to, individuals, groups (perhaps including genders), cultures, historical periods, geography and zeitgeist, and all of those for multiple reasons, most notably to do with variations in temperament, disposition, emotions, other key personality traits, biases (evolved or learned, conscious or not), possibly also susceptibility to certain illusions (eg about self or agency), and, for all of those, their relative stability, persistence or variance and temporariness over time (as in moods or changes during a lifetime). Another key consideration might be the degree to which we ‘other’. Our moral sense(s) and judgements may be (do seem to be) different for ‘those like me’ and those ‘not like me’ (or ‘us and them’, in group terms).

    So yet again, morality, as a whole, even only in our latest, restricted domain, is relative, straight off the bat.

    There might be a few caveats though, related to how relative it is, or to put it another way, when and how it is relative and when and how it isn’t (because saying that morality as a whole is relative does not imply it is fully or always relative in all cases).

    Caveat 1. The first caveat might be about how intrinsic or widespread a sense of morality (or a moral judgement) might be. So, we might accept that something is a moral ‘fact’ (within the domain we are now talking about) if it is sufficiently widespread or intrinsic (wholly, ‘universally’ included). This would mean that if it were not fully (100%) included, it would only be an approximate fact (unless we qualified the fact by saying ‘X is the case some, most or almost all of the time’).

    Caveat 2. It might be that there might be at least some moral senses and/or judgements, or types of, that do qualify as non-relative moral facts, given the first caveat above.

    Caveat 3. The third caveat, related to both the first two, might be (a) that the more specific the moral fact and the more specific the individual incident or type of incident, the fewer of such moral facts there might be (eg ‘it is wrong to a human to kill a human only for fun’), and (b) that the more broad or general the moral fact (as defined in 1 above), the more of them there might be (eg ‘it is wrong to be unfair’ or 'it is right to be fair').

    That last point throws up an interesting issue. We tend to morally judge individuals more (hold them more personally responsible) when they are deemed to have done something wrong (or 'bad'), rather than something deemed to be right (or 'good'). So is it possible that morality is relative to that (to the type of action, or it's consequences) also?

    One final point is that we seem to deem something 'more wrong' if there are adverse consequences, even if the actions and intentions were the same as a case where the adverse consequences didn't happen.
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 02-17-2020 at 02:20 PM.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  2. Top | #2
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    6,908
    Rep Power
    17

    (View video on YouTube)


    (View video on YouTube)

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As Dr. de Waal sees it, human morality may be severely limited by having evolved as a way of banding together against adversaries, with moral restraints being observed only toward the in group, not toward outsiders. “The profound irony is that our noblest achievement — morality — has evolutionary ties to our basest behavior — warfare,” he writes

    "Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are."

    Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior
    https://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/science/20moral.html
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •