Moral Absolutism


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Registered Senior Member
Besides the fact that I believe I am the unwitting Ender of Threads, an occasional spark does ignite amongst my neurons ...

For quite a while, I was under the erroneous assumption that I was a moral relativist.

I thought a moral relativist could be defined as someone that pretty much accepts others for what they believe, although there isn't one specific truth out there to which all must eventually flock.

The simple fact of the matter is that all of us are basically absolutist in one sense or the other. Here are some examples.

Although I think religion may be wrong for me, I do think it can be right for some of my relatives. Because I look at the alternative to religion in their life and I see that they'd be pretty hard pressed to fathom reasons for living. But, although I may see it as "<b>x</b> is wrong for <b>me</b>; <b>x</b> is right for <b>you</b>" I see "<b>y</b> is forever <b>wrong</b>" where <b>y</b> can be represented as the Holocaust, the Inquisition, the Crusades, other events of like nature.

I used to think that, "Live and let live" was my credo, but, alas, no. In the same breath that I say we should be tolerant of others' beliefs, I also vehemently decry the injustice (in my mind) put forth by Christianity.

Here's an example.

"<b>x</b> is wrong <b>if and only if</b> ..."

where "..." could be represented by:
<i>it is against the will of God</i>
<i>it is against the will of society</i>
<i>it harms another</i>
<i>it is undefinable; it is subjective to the speaker</i>

Where someone would say, "You know, people have their reasons why they do things and I say let them. Who am I to say they are wrong? But if they leave that toilet seat up <i>one more time!!!</i>"

Just that one more time qualifies someone as an absolutist. As much as I <i>didn't</i> want to be classified as an absolutist, I find that I fall under that category. "Do what ye will and harm none" is an ideology to which I subscribe (and have all my life, including the Christian years), although this does not mean that I have be to tolerant of another's point of view which states they have the moral authority to subjugate others.

Basically, disagreeing with someone on moral grounds implies that there is a Truth to the matter out there, so one of us is right.

For religionists, they look at absolutism and say: "Ha! There is a truth out there and that truth is God. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not makes no difference. He still exists despite your doubts and wonderings."

For atheists, they look at absolutism and say: ... basically the same thing, only the reverse (which I think most religionists overlook). Namely, "That there is no God out there. And, despite how much you may pray, it doesn't bring God into existence any more than worshiping Satan."

So, a moral relativist cannot make a claim to the effect that: "<b>x</b> is absolutely wrong" because that implies that the flip of <b>x</b> is right, which implies that there is a right, which represents an absolute. To truly be a moral relativist (MR), one must say that Hitler had his own thing going--I don't like it, but it wasn't necessarily wrong. And that applies to everything basically. An MR could not say <i>laissez faire</i> in one instance and then denounce on moral grounds in another.

It's the whole "This statement is false" argument. Circular logic and reasoning when applied to moral relativism.

So, the point? That people have more in common than they ever realize. I have more in common with religious absolutists than with fence-sitters. And they have more in common with me. But, most of us thinks differently on that issue. We <i>think</i> that, because someone believes wholeheartedly that Christ is their Lord, that we are completely different from them. This is not the case for those of us that falls under the atheistic absolutist category. We understand what it means to say, "I see your point, but I disagree [because the truth/absolute I ascribe to says you are wrong]." That sentence could have been spoken from a Christian or an Atheist. Although, most likely the latter, since the average Christian has an incredible difficult remaining even slightly interested in an opposing viewpoint. I say average and mean it. The average Christian is nearly every Christian you've ever come across. As tiassa would say (I think, in another thread), "The extremes of the bell curve would be represented by those select few that were capable of empathy and sympathy."

The main point of disagreeance being whether someone believes in God or not. I may (and I most likely will continue to) argue against Christianity, but from the perspective that I basically agree with the concept behind what they are saying, just not to the conclusions they are making.

Call this thread a step. To call it pointless would just prove the whole thing.;)



Most of this line of thinking falls into semantics my friend.

Anything can be made/interpreted as Absolute.
That includes relativism.
For example: "Everything is relative"

People who commonly say this don't realize that what they are saying is a contradiction, logically speaking.
If everything is relative (implying some difference) then everything shares the fact that they all have some difference. That being the case, then they are all the same (at least in some way, which is enough), and therefore not different.!

ditto for the saying: 'constant change'

In any case, it's just semantical logic.

Personally, in the realm of ethics, I just try to remember that relativism is part of our human condition, and therefore unavoidable. This however, doesn't mean that we can aspire to an Absolute Truth.....