View Poll Results: Morality: Relativism vs. Absolutism -- who wins?

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  • Moral Relativism

    11 27.50%
  • Moral Absolutism

    29 72.50%
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Thread: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

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    Question Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    In the red corner...

    Moral Relativism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism

    Moral relativism is a view that claims moral standards are not absolute or universal, but rather emerge from social customs and other sources. Relativists consequently see moral values as applicable only within agreed or accepted cultural boundaries. Very few, if any, people hold this view in its pure form, but hold instead another more qualified verson of it.

    Protagoras' notion that "man is the measure of all things" may be seen as an early philosophical precursor to relativism. Moral relativists hold that an unsharable, personal, and aesthetic moral core lies at the foundation of personal choices. They deny the possibility of sharing morality at all, except by convention.

    A simple way to express this view is that "everyone draws their own moral from the same story" and behaves according to their own impression, acceptance, or rejection of it.

    It is often confused with ethical relativism which holds that morality can be shared but only between closely-knit groups sharing a moral code and committed to joint action, e.g. an ethnic minority in a hostile situation.

    A moral relativist, on the other hand, would hold that even people in such a circumstance do not follow a common moral code, but are simply unable to follow their varying personal urges due to social pressure.

    * * *

    and the blue corner...

    Moral Absolutism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_absolutism

    Moral absolutism is the belief or theory that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged and suggests that morals are not determined by societal or situational influences.

    According to Moral Absolutism, morals are inherent in the laws of the universe, the nature of humanity, or some other fundamental source. Moral absolutism is often contrasted with moral relativism.

    Moral absolutism regards actions as inherently or inarguably moral or immoral. Moral absolutists might, for example, judge slavery, the death penalty, or childhood female genital mutilation to be absolutely and inarguably immoral regardless of the beliefs and goals of a culture that engages in these practices.

    In a minority of cases, moral absolutism is taken to the more constrained position that actions are moral or immoral regardless of the circumstances in which they occur. Lying, for instance, would always be immoral, even if done to promote some other good (e.g., saving a life). This rare view of moral absolutism might be contrasted with moral consequentialism—the view that the morality of an action depends on the context or consequences of that action.

    Modern human rights theory is a form of moral absolutism, usually based on the nature of humanity and the essence of human nature. One such theory was constructed by John Rawls in his A Theory of Justice.
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    Post Re: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    Like most people I'm rather somewhat inbetween the two positions. But because I tend to believe in certain absolut moral or human "moral" or better duties, as I believe in the limiting character of nature, both of humans and the ecosystem, I tend to moral absolutism.
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    Post AW: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    I voted for moral absolutism, though the definition of what actually is "moral" or "immoral" has changed somewhat with wisdom and experience.

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    Post Re: AW: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    Very few, if any, people hold this view in its pure form, but hold instead another more qualified verson of it.
    Then I... am... exceptional.
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Post Re: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    I'm tempted to say there are certain 'absolute morals', since certain patterns of behaviour lead to the premature death of yourself and/or your genelines. What better proof of 'absolute wrong' can we expect?

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    Post Re: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    Moral absolutism has my vote. There are absolute criteria in human affairs, namely happiness (the final purpose of every human action) and freedom (the nature of human beings). Actions are moral if they maximize happiness. To maximize happiness the human nature has to be respected, i. e. freedom shall never be unjustifiably infringed.
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    Post Re: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorburn
    Moral absolutism has my vote.
    This should be fun

    There are absolute criteria in human affairs, namely happiness (the final purpose of every human action)
    An is does not imply an ought.

    and freedom (the nature of human beings).
    Let's look at human behaviour throughout history. I see wars, rape, genocide, looting, slavery, egoism and the exercise of power without regard to any utopian 'freedom'. Where do you get this idea of human nature from?

    Actions are moral if they maximize happiness.
    Apparently (according to your statement later in the above post) only within certain limits. I presume this means one should not physically violate the existence of an agent, or appropriate from him whatever he has laid claim to by 'mixing his labour' with without his consent. If 'actions are moral if they maximize happiness', and all humans aim at happiness, how can an action be considered immoral?

    To maximize happiness the human nature has to be respected, i. e. freedom shall never be unjustifiably infringed.
    What is this idea of justice, who defines what it is, and how is it to be exercised within a network of interrelating humans (i.e. a community)?
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Post Re: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    I share most of the views expressed in this discussion and in fact I tend more towards Moral Absolutism. However the crux of the question is that it is quite hard to determine what is absolutely and universally moral and in fact as the wikipedia article states Moral Absolutism is used in the modern Human Rights theory which is of detriment to the Western World because of its universal application. Moral Absolutism is in itself utopic and it is easier to hold on to it idealistically then to implement it pragmatically, that is the potential reason why Moral Relativism appeals to a wider section of the Western population.

    Moral Consequentialism is a sort of golden mean and in reality I favour such a situation as it is more pragmatic than the overtly idealistic Moral Absolutism.

    In my opinion, Moral Relativism can be considered as part or an actual cause of the rot of Western Civilisation and the destruction of once sane traditional societies that had decent values even though they lacked material wealth.
    Last edited by Ederico Figallo; Thursday, November 11th, 2004 at 11:32 AM.

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    Post Re: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    Quote Originally Posted by Siegfried Augustus
    I'm tempted to say there are certain 'absolute morals', since certain patterns of behaviour lead to the premature death of yourself and/or your genelines.
    This is relative to the idea that preserving the self and/or genelines is important

    What better proof of 'absolute wrong' can we expect?
    I don't know. I'm not looking for absolutes
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Post Re: Moral Relativism vs. Absolutism

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack The Ripper
    This should be fun
    You enjoy losing?

    An is does not imply an ought.
    It's absolutely self-fulfilling. Deniers will be assimilated.

    Let's look at human behaviour throughout history. I see wars, rape, genocide, looting, slavery, egoism and the exercise of power without regard to any utopian 'freedom'. Where do you get this idea of human nature from?
    Proves exactly the point. Pursuit of happiness (the purpose of every action; in this case very limited and always unmaximized but, on the long run, ever growing) by freedom (human nature; in this case arbitrary but, on the long run, becoming ever more concrete) in other words.

    Apparently (according to your statement later in the above post) only within certain limits. I presume this means one should not physically violate the existence of an agent, or appropriate from him whatever he has laid claim to by 'mixing his labour' with without his consent. If 'actions are moral if they maximize happiness', and all humans aim at happiness, how can an action be considered immoral?
    They are immoral if they don't maximize happiness. Some pharao and his slave driver lackeys might get very happy by enslaving an army of people to build some pyramids but far more unhappiness for hundredthousands of slave workers is created in the process by the enforcement of an order contrary to their nature (freedom). This collective unhappiness will, on the long run, lead to progress. Progress is the increase of (collective) happiness by maximization of freedom for some, and in the last consequence, for everyone. This will lead to equal freedom for all individuals being limited only by the freedom of others: "nobody shall be deprived of life, (health,) liberty, (or) property, (or honor)" -- "without due process of law" (should read: "unjustifiably in a society committed to freedom and the pursuit of happiness and without due process of law", but it has been awesome progress already.)

    What is this idea of justice, who defines what it is, and how is it to be exercised within a network of interrelating humans (i.e. a community)?
    Justice is moral action, i. e. maximization of happiness. It shall be guaranteed if equal freedom (the requirement for the pursuit of happiness of human beings) is not unjustifiably infringed (and not more than necessary), and if equal affairs are treated equal and unequal affairs unequal, both in accordance with their nature, their relationship, and in proportion.

    Happiness and freedom are really closely linked, albeit not exactly identical. A state can restrict even concrete freedom -- freedom that doesn't infringe upon the freedom of others -- if collective happiness is increased; compare for example the ban of obscene behavior in public (note that such cases always require some direct influence upon others; you can, on the other hand, run around naked in your own home behind closed doors). More important, however, are the cases where concrete freedom is limited for the purpose of safeguarding freedom, i. e. potential future happiness. Military service to protect a society with a higher degree of happiness and freedom from the invasion through barbarians and from slavery, for example.

    Immigration shall be barred and the multi-racial society will have to be opposed on the same grounds. Happiness and the safeguarding of freedom.
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