Friday, April 14, 2006

My First Shot in the War on Relativism



All relativists are hereby challenged to respond to this thread stating that every action that any person has ever taken was moral. Since relativists define morality by culture, they have NO RIGHT to condemn Gestapo death squads, Islamic terrorists, or even Charlie Manson for doing whatever deeds they deem to be moral.


Who is willing to defend nazi prison camps as a part of twentieth century German culture?

Are you going to stand up for the members of the Ku Klux Klan who killed blacks in the name of their white culture?

I want someone to write a comment defending the parents who sexually, emotionally and physically abuse their children, because parental culture is just as valid as any other.

Atheists, are you going to stand by and tell me that its moral for Christians to kill you, just because murder is a part of their culture?


Go ahead, I dare you!

25 comments:

TheJollyNihilist said...

My moral relativism has nothing to do with cultural context. It has to do with one simple fact: There are no scientific measuring instruments to discern 30 units of morality or 70 units of immorality. The very notion cannot be tested. As such, no factual statements can be made with respect to morality.

Francois Tremblay said...

There are no current scientific instruments to measure the intensity of love. Therefore no factual statement can be made regarding love.

Same stupid argument, same stupid conclusion. I can't believe Aaron said you were smart !

Aaron Kinney said...

Frances you are wrong.

There are no instruments to discern 30 units of logic or 70 units of the first law of thermodynamics.

But that doesnt mean factual statements cant be made with respect to them.

TheJollyNihilist said...

There are no current scientific instruments to measure the intensity of love. Therefore no factual statement can be made regarding love.

Sure there are. "Love" is a physiological phenomenon. One can measure the chemicals produced and hormonal fluctuations. The idea that "love" is more than the sum of its physiological parts is an illusion created by our brain. Love is no different than an orgasm: It is defined by its physiological parts, all of which can be quantified.

TheJollyNihilist said...

Frances you are wrong.

There are no instruments to discern 30 units of logic or 70 units of the first law of thermodynamics.

But that doesnt mean factual statements cant be made with respect to them.


But things like the first law of thermodynamics are based upon facts; morality isn't. You and I both abhor coercion. However, I think it's making a presumption to say coercion is immoral. How can that be proven? How can that be proven without making any presumptions?

As I said on Alleee's blog, I have a real problem with declaring a "correct moral code." To me, it's virtually identical to declaring that there's a "correct religion." With respect to both, I'd rather say none is correct than one is correct (and all the others wrong).

Francois Tremblay said...

"Sure there are. "Love" is a physiological phenomenon. One can measure the chemicals produced and hormonal fluctuations."

Then show me the instrument.

Francois Tremblay said...

"But things like the first law of thermodynamics are based upon facts; morality isn't."

Proof please ?


"However, I think it's making a presumption to say coercion is immoral"

I already wrote an entry on why coercion is immoral. Read this :
http://goosetheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/09/virtue-of-non-coercion.html

If you don't agree with my reasoned points, you're full of it.


"With respect to both, I'd rather say none is correct than one is correct (and all the others wrong)."

Then you must hate science as well. Science says we can find the truth by using rational methods. You seem to hate truth.

Andrew Greve said...

Francesthemagnificent, you claim that no factual statements can be made with respect to morality. Is it wrong for me to kill you?

Aaron Kinney said...

But things like the first law of thermodynamics are based upon facts; morality isn't.

Why dont you name a fact that the first law of thermodynamics is based upon, and then I will name one of the facts that objective morality is based on.

You and I both abhor coercion. However, I think it's making a presumption to say coercion is immoral. How can that be proven? How can that be proven without making any presumptions?

Because coercion is a positive claim, and positive claims have the burden of proof. So basically, you have to prove that coercion, or positively restructing someone, is moral, or permissible. To not-coerce or not-restrict someone else doesnt have any burden of proof.

As I said on Alleee's blog, I have a real problem with declaring a "correct moral code."

Just like you have a problem with declaring that you need food or oxygen to survive?

To me, it's virtually identical to declaring that there's a "correct religion." With respect to both, I'd rather say none is correct than one is correct (and all the others wrong).

Do you consider the same thing with atheism? That its a way of declaring a "correct religion"? What makes you think an individual has the moral right to initiate coercion on another?

Cassandra said...

I'm a relativist, but I admit, I can't defend the Third Reich, the KKK or sexual abuse. You got me there.

Tell me: whose morals are moral? Yours? Or the Religious Right? LOL, the Moral Majority?

Is it ok for Christians to ban abortion? I mean, that is adhering to their beliefs. How does abortion stack up in the morality argument?

How do you feel about Darfur? What is happening there is outrageous, in my opinion. What should be done? Should my country invade and use force to create morality?

How about the "gendercide" going on in China and India. Since this isn't moral, what should be done to stop it?

How do you suggest ridding the world of what you think is immoral?

Andrew Greve said...

"Tell me: whose morals are moral? Yours? Or the Religious Right? LOL, the Moral Majority?"

Again, morality is based on facts, not opinions.

Cassandra said...

Andrew, you asked FTM if it was wrong for you to kill him. It may depend on the reason you're going to kill him. (slight joke...)
You say that morality is based on fact, not opinion. So what makes it a fact that killing a human being is wrong?? The law (of the United States)? Why is it ok to kill a cow instead?

Andrew Greve said...

Cassandra, is it wrong for me to kill you? If yes, why? If no, why? I hope you can explain your position (and I would put money on what side you're going to take) to me, instead of the other way around.

Cassandra said...

Cassandra, is it wrong for me to kill you? If yes, why? If no, why? I hope you can explain your position (and I would put money on what side you're going to take) to me, instead of the other way around.

Well, it depends on why you are going to kill me. Did I kill one of your children? Did I rape your wife? If you killed one of my kids, I would have no problem killing you.

I don't have much time for much more of a response because I'm on my way out but I did want to say this:

Who is willing to defend nazi prison camps as a part of twentieth century German culture?

I'm not willing to defend what they did. No, I don't think that what the Nazis did was right. In MY opinion it's not moral. But the fact is that it WAS part of German culture.

Just because morality is relative doesn't mean that I have to agree with someone else's morality.

Let me ask this. Does the "War on Relativism" only apply to morality? Does it apply to other subjects like income and time?

Andrew Greve said...

"Well, it depends on why you are going to kill me."

Why would it depend? You are the one defending moral relativism, remember?

Hellbound Alleee said...

Do you really think that morality is not based on any earthly reason for anything? People only make decisions based on belief?

Again (sigh) when you make a decision to buy a house and move there with your family, you are making a moral decision, because it affects your values and the values of your family. You financial, and your physical life. If you make that decision based on belief, you're going down.

Are you guys really telling me you make your life decisions for no earthly reason? And that there's no earthly reason to say that rape is wrong? You manage to judge the morality of Chritsianity, do you not? And how do you evaluate christian claims? Through fact. If not, you're, as Franc says, "full of it."

Delta said...

Same stupid argument, same stupid conclusion. I can't believe Aaron said you were smart !

Hehe, frances, meet francois!

Then show me the instrument.

There of course is no readily-available instrument to measure love because there is no economic incentive for anyone to do the research in it and produce it. But frances is absolutely right in that it could, in principle, be measured. The technology today might not allow for a noninvasive measurement of it, and I don't know of many people who would participate in a study to measure their love by cutting open their brain.

Is it wrong for me to kill you?

Strictly speaking, it isn't "wrong", because the word wrong doesn't mean anything. It's wasteful, disrespectful for the lives of others, etc, but it isn't "wrong".

Why dont you name a fact that the first law of thermodynamics is based upon, and then I will name one of the facts that objective morality is based on.

Sure, the first law is basically a restatment of conservation of energy, and doesn't really say much more than that. However, energy conservation is found to be true experimentally to extremely high accuracy and ideas that originate along those lines has led to deep insight into modern physics phenomena. So what's a fact that objective morality is based on, and then how do you translate that into saying an objective statement?

Are you guys really telling me you make your life decisions for no earthly reason?

I don't know where you get the idea that someone is suggesting this. People make life decisions based on self-interest, and even acts of charity are ultimately acts of self-interest.

Cassandra said...

Why would it depend? You are the one defending moral relativism, remember?

It depends because I don't see anything as black and white.


Are you guys really telling me you make your life decisions for no earthly reason?

I agree with what Delta said. I make decisions based on my life, on my situation, based on what is best for my family and self interest (for the most part). So yeah, they are moral decisions, but my decisions may not be what is best for everyone.

And that there's no earthly reason to say that rape is wrong?

I certainly don't think that rape is ok. But once upon a time, we were more like animals and men raped women all the time. It was about reproduction, and needs. It was ok then (according to them). It is no longer ok because of the morals that our society decided on, just like tons of other things (drug use, prostitution, polygamy).

You manage to judge the morality of Chritsianity, do you not?

I do. Does it mean I'm right? Does it mean I'm wrong?

Is wife swapping moral? Is polygamy moral? Is it ok for a man to cheat on his wife? These are all issues that our society has made immoral.

TheJollyNihilist said...

Then show me the instrument.

Do you deny that the physiological symptoms of love can, at least theoretically, be measured with instruments? Chemicals and hormones are physical things - they are highly tangible.

I already wrote an entry on why coercion is immoral. Read this :
http://goosetheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/09/virtue-of-non-coercion.html

If you don't agree with my reasoned points, you're full of it.


I did read it. I found this sentence particularly interesting:

"Both Christianity and relativism fail to account for the basic moral assumptions we all make."

So, even you admit that Objective Morality is based upon assumptions. You assume people acting peacably toward you is better than people acting violently toward you. You assume cooperation is preferable than inability to work together. You assume existence is preferable to non-existence. While I agree with all those things, I still argue they are all assumptions, which cannot be verified. Indeed, "preferable to" and "better than" are phrases exclusively for use in opinion statements.

Then you must hate science as well. Science says we can find the truth by using rational methods. You seem to hate truth.

Science is the study of the physical world around us. Strictly speaking, science has nothing to do with philosophical issues such as "right" and "wrong." Science can measure whether a leopard or panther runs faster, but can't determine whether faster running is "better" or "worse," without making the presumption that survival is preferable to death.

Francesthemagnificent, you claim that no factual statements can be made with respect to morality. Is it wrong for me to kill you?

Here's a factual statement, if you're willing to consider it one: "In FrancestheMagnificent's opinion, it is morally wrong to murder FrancestheMagnificent." No matter who makes that statement, it's true. Being a moral relativist doesn't mean I'm agnostic with respect to moral issues. Indeed, I have strong opinions on them. I just don't believe my opinions somehow reflect the absolute truth, that applies to everyone.

Here's an example:

Factual statement: "In FrancestheMagnificent's opinion, armed robbery is immoral."

Subjective statement: "Armed robbery is immoral."

Why dont you name a fact that the first law of thermodynamics is based upon, and then I will name one of the facts that objective morality is based on.

Here, my word choice was poor. I should say that the First Law of Thermodynamics can be experimentally demonstrated and has stood up over time. Morality is based upon statements of opinion, such as "Survival is preferable to death."

Because coercion is a positive claim, and positive claims have the burden of proof. So basically, you have to prove that coercion, or positively restructing someone, is moral, or permissible. To not-coerce or not-restrict someone else doesnt have any burden of proof.

I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at here. Saying, "Coercion is morally wrong" is indeed a positive claim, requiring evidence. Speaking in general, separate from my own opinion, I'm saying coercion may or may not be morally wrong. Thus, I'm making no statement at all, hardly something that demands proof.

Just like you have a problem with declaring that you need food or oxygen to survive?

This isn't analogous. Indeed, I need food and oxygen to survive. That's demonstrable, and has no trace of opinion in it. But, moral statements rest upon the presumption that survival is preferable to death, which isn't demonstrable (how can one demonstrate "preferable"?) and clearly represents opinion.

Francois Tremblay said...

"Do you deny that the physiological symptoms of love can, at least theoretically, be measured with instruments?"

So can morality. Both are material facts.


""Both Christianity and relativism fail to account for the basic moral assumptions we all make."

So, even you admit that Objective Morality is based upon assumptions."

Nowhere do I say that morality is based on assumptions. I said neither can account for basic moral assumptions that people make. You have zero fucking reading comprehension.


"You assume people acting peacably toward you is better than people acting violently toward you. You assume cooperation is preferable than inability to work together. You assume existence is preferable to non-existence. While I agree with all those things, I still argue they are all assumptions, which cannot be verified."

No, they are not assumptions. Some of these don't even make any sense. Existence is preferable to non-existence ? What the fuck is non-existence ? Your stupidity is revolting.


"Science is the study of the physical world around us. Strictly speaking, science has nothing to do with philosophical issues such as "right" and "wrong.""

You are simply denying again that morality has to do with fact. Your burden of proof. PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

TheJollyNihilist said...

Francois,

I responded to your response in the other thread. At this point, I'm ready to agree to disagree. I'm not interested in having a vitriolic argument about this. I'm secure in my views; you're secure in your views. That should be enough.

Francois Tremblay said...

"I'm ready to agree to disagree."

And yet you admitted that you DO make decisions based on facts. Are you now saying you're not ? Make you your mind.

breakerslion said...

"People make life decisions based on self-interest, and even acts of charity are ultimately acts of self-interest."

I would add one word to that statement, "... based on perceived self-interest. The fact that many people will rationalize away their own moral code (or belief system) is not the same as saying that they do not have one, and that they do not have reasons for having one. This is a different discussion.

GoHome said...

I was interested in this blog because I wanted to see what "facts" morality was based on. Instead I found what I consider to be a blogger who does nothing more than refute the argument of the poster without actually stating what “facts” morality is based on.

I personally don’t believe that the basis for morality is society. I believe that, on a personal level, it is derived from the balance between our natural instincts (primarily survival), from our emotions (primarily empathy). Each side of this is then tempered by the environment we develop in. The result is a broad spectrum of moral outlooks. In some of us, our instinct for survival is stronger than our emotion and we make decisions strictly on what we perceive to be better for ourselves. This can cause the individual to elevate their interests above the interest of others. In others of us the emotions are stronger. These individuals may be more interested in the wellbeing of others and in fairness.

The only way I can see morality as a pure factual pursuit is to base it purely on our natural side and ignore everything else.

Is that what you are suggesting?

Are there other “facts”?

A Passer-by said...

Yes, nothing makes those things inherently bad. Bad is a perceived opinion or applied lable, which in itself needs a viewpoint, a perspective, to make the assertion. As there is no absolute viewpoint by definition, there is no absolute good or bad.

If there was no man to view a million dollars burning, there would be no one to make the assertion, and thus it would be a neutral entity. Anything is neutral until perspective is given.

To continue, you killing me may be bad from my perspective, but it may very well be good from yours. True, while in today's society general dispositions and adversions will overlap, there is no total ground of objectivity, and thus it's all relative.