Ethical Subjectivism?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Driftin, Sep 18, 2004.

  1. Driftin Registered Member

    Messages:
    4
    Hey, I'm new around here, and I've recently taken a course on surprise surprise, Ethics Morality and Justice. I'm wondering whereabouts people on this board stand on the whole issue of whether or not any given society is subject to any moral absolutes such as murder is wrong, or if morality is able to be subjective to individual cultures and societies.

    Can a tribe of infanticidial nomads be considered as moral as post modern industrialized societies? Is consistency of principles enough to be considered moral or is there something more to being moral?
    I'll hold back on my opinions till something hits the fan
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    36,367
    There are no moral absolutes. The question of why murder is wrong has never been sufficiently answered.

    Welcome to Sciforums. Just so you know, we won't do your homework for you, and we'll most likely confuse you more than anything else, but we're always happy to throw our two cents in on something that comes up at school.

    As to the nomads, it depends on why they're infanticidal.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Pangloss More 'pop' than a Google IPO! Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    767
    I agree with Tiassa that there are no moral absolutes. I also think that religion can act as an unfortunate crutch in this area, which is why I tend toward humanism. (Not that religion doesn't have its strengths, of course.)
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. Undecided Banned Banned

    Messages:
    4,731
    If there is an authority there is morality, where there is no authority there is anarchy. Morals exist only in our minds, not in reality.
     
  8. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,049
    who ever said that post moden sociaty was moral?
     
  9. Driftin Registered Member

    Messages:
    4
    Nah, see, if you believe that there's no moral absolutes, that would mean that Hitler were a perfectly moral person. Granted that wasn't the common consensus in Nazi Germany, but lets just assume that a society on some south pacific island believes that torture is entirely correct for every outsider. Assuming we believe that people such as Gandi and Mother Theresa were 'moral' people, if we sent people to that island, this tribe of Hitlerites responds by torturing them. Is that right?

    If you don't think that there's any moral absolutes, morality really does come down to a pure and simple aesthetic judgement. I like chocolate ice cream more than rocky road. Is that all that morality boils down to? If you say there are no moral absolutes, then you have no ground to make any judgements because as long as somebody or some culture is consistent with their principles that is right.

    As per the infanticide response, you can hold a definate moral principle such as killing innocent babies is wrong, but say there's a group of inuit people who have no other choice but to kill the babies for the group of survival, a moral objectivist would say that thats still acceptable.

    Here, another example may be human sacrifice. We think that killing humans for that purpose is inexortably wrong. But a different tribe on a different south pacific island may sacrifice people by throwing them into a volcano to appease a god so that they think it prevents an eruption, and thus it turns into a pure and simple utilitarian principle. That believe though, is based on a false belife of factual information. Assumingly, if they knew throwing a human into the volcano would not in fact prevent an eruption, then i'm guessing they wouldn't throw humans into it.

    Basically all i'm saying is that if we say that there is no moral absolutes, morality is non existent. There's 3 general terms of morality, No Rules (Ethical Subjectivism), All rules (Ethical Absolutism), and Rules that can be broken (Ethical Objectivism). I'm not as arrogant as i may sound, i'm just not entirely sure of how much people have studied this hence my dumbing things down a bit. This is immensely scattered i admit, hopefully i made some sense, if not, i'll come on in the morning when i've sobered up a bit and clean up my mess.
     
  10. Pangloss More 'pop' than a Google IPO! Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    767
    They actually taught you in school that there are moral absolutes? Wow. I'm a bit surprised at that.

    It's actually a bit of a cop-out to say there are moral absolutes. It's the fact that there aren't any, that humans have no built-in morality, that is what makes civilization such a challenge. If we had a built-in morality, we wouldn't get guys like Hitler in the first place.

    Nope, I don't agree with that at all. And more to the point, I don't think you'll find much support for that position in the non-religious literature.
     
  11. Undecided Banned Banned

    Messages:
    4,731
    Isn't our conscience out built-in morality?
     
  12. Xev Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,943
    The existence of a "conscience" only proves the existence of moral judgement.
     
  13. Pangloss More 'pop' than a Google IPO! Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    767
    Moral judgement, yes. Conscience, yes. But it's based on learning; it's not genetic.
     
  14. Xev Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,943
    I submit that it is indeed innate. In every known culture, there have existed moral guidelines, modes of conduct, and most importantly moral judgements. That these differ is not relevent. They are universal in principle, if not in application.

    There are, of course, sociopaths and other deviants who seem completely without moral sense. But this is not relevent either - the existence of disease does not prove the bankrupcy of health. A man may be congenitally without arms, yet no-one would state that having arms is an arbitrary state.

    Moral judgement, in its weakest form compassion, is innate in a healthy human. Learning only affects how the moral judgement is applied.
     
  15. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,049
    im surprised that Xev hasnt brought this up yet

    morality is tribalisum. That is its whatever is BEST FOR THE GROUP. That group and its needs are different depending where you are ect so morality differs. The comandment "tho shall not kill" for example was aimed at the jews so they wouldnt kill eachother, (weakerning the group). It said nothing about killing outsiders, outsiders arn't human. Canablisum probably developed in areas that there was little food and ANYTHING that could help the group was to benifit. The moral objections to lying, cheating and stealing ect come from the princable that if i cheat i might be more likly to reproduce but i have weakend the position of the group as a whole. In social creatures that form herds for protection, like humans do, this is very important. ie no throwing that cute girls BF to the lions so i can have her because then we lose a protector.

    The stricture against rape is harder to justify. If i rape the cute girl while your trying to woo her and then i am more likly to pass on MY gens but maybe she is LESS likly because she is without surport. I dont know, rape is a hard one.
     
  16. Pangloss More 'pop' than a Google IPO! Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    767
    Exactly -- the group or society decides. There's nothing innate or in-born or genetic or inherited about it. Morality is environmental/learned behavior. Whether it's learned from prior adults, or developed independently (e.g. "Lord of the Flies"), it's still learned/reasoned. And the proof is in the history books -- while it's true that most cultures share common traits, I believe you can find exceptions to any specific moral behavior in some historic society or culture.

    The closest thing I think you can really find to morality in nature would be animals not threatening one another (ala "murder") because of not wanting to be harmed/killed in return. It takes instigation of some kind for an animal to kill another, such as hunger or fear; they don't kill each other unless there's a reason. Humans reason this out to the next step and seeing that killing people might lead to their own death, even aside from laws and moralities. But that's just instinct, really -- I wouldn't call it morality. So we're back to square one.

    Rape, for example, isn't immoral in *plenty* of historic societies/cultures.
     
  17. Xev Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,943
    Pangloss:
    Dipwit, read my post. I never said that moral conclusions are innate - I said that moral judgement is.

    Duh?! I addressed this.

    Chimpanzees, when playing games, show fair play. Moral judgement exists in non-human animals.

    Neither do humans.

    Asguard:
    No pun intended?
     
  18. Pangloss More 'pop' than a Google IPO! Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    767
    Well so much for egalitarian discussion.

    Y'all have fun.
     
  19. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,049
    HA HA xev *sarcasam*

    anyway

    what about lying?

    im reading a book at the moment that talks about monky "sociaties" where one monkey will use the group warning call and when they all scamper to safty will get that juicy bunch of bannana's

    so the group evolves ways to deal with liers, either by ignoring there calls in responce to past behavior or directly reasoning when something is a lie and teaching that lying is "bad" or rather bad for the group as a whole

    humans use stories like the boy who cried wolf to teach the same "principles", we ALSO have "punishments" if someone abuses the groups trust because it weakens the group

    what about tabbos like killing meat only by bleeding?

    well one they COULD be is heath and hygine from the dark age ie "dont eat the green berries or god will strike you down, see he killed mark for doing it" when in actual fact the green berries are poisiones and THATS what killed mark

    the other is that they were a way of defining US and THEM. Can you eat meat after sunset on sat night? outsider says "sure why not" and is killed for being a spy or an infidel or ONE OF THEM ect

    all morals developed this way, in nature or in humans (if you want to serperate them). They are just simply a way to protect the group and make sure that the group survives

    oh and B\W animals dont kill unless they are hungry because the ones who do kill for "fun" kill off the food surplie and dont survive to breed and therefor thoes who wait till they are hungry to kill that fat pig inherite the earth
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2004
  20. wellborn Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    41
    So this is my little bit; morals are like sand ever changing with the different tides. Some stay more essentaily the same. But others differs from town to town.
    There are no absolute morals.
    And here even animals so us this, for it is not true animals dont kill for alternative motives than food or danger.
    Chimps have been recorded on film killing just out of what seems spite. Lionesses killing cubs from her sisters litter to advance her one. Hippo killing stuff out of mere destructive force.

    I believe we are all animals, and lik all animals we want to feel safe, well fed, and most off all empowered. So we are distinguished from our group.
    And morals were created so we can act as a group. And from acting in a group we developed a-moral behaviour.
     
  21. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,089
    forive me if i'm covering anything that has been covered already, but I have come to the general conclusion that there is indeed a built in tendency towards moralistic judgement, but what is almost always different is the aim of such judgement. One set says infanticide is ok, another that its evil, another that its just bad.
     
  22. Driftin Registered Member

    Messages:
    4
    Thats fine and dandy for when the group or society is black and white, but what about say abortion? If one person say relates to being a member of a liberal clique, or say the catholic church, their proper moral choice changes.
    Same thing goes for other things, does that mean that racial segregation is morally right because the group or society in the majority decides its so? Is the conscientious objector always wrong? So speaking out against Abu Ghraib, or the Haulocaust is wrong because the group determines its moral? Thats where the line is drawn between the absolutism and the objectivism. You can hold a morally objective principle, and that doesn't make it absolute in the Kantian sense of it. If morality is entirely subjective depending on your group, era in time or other enviromental factors, what's the point in having a moral judgement?

    side note: sorry about the ditching of the post, severe computer problems, up and running again
     

Share This Page