Are right and wrong and the related duties possible without absolutes

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This topic contains 161 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Davis 5 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #39885

    _Robert_
    Participant

    What is an “ethical absolute”? To Plato, it’s what he called a “form.” Forms are the only truly real things in Plato’s theory. The world of everyday life is little more than an array of shadows cast by forms. To him, forms are abstract, perfect, unchanging concepts or ideals that transcend time and space I trust that’s not what most of us mean by absolutes. How about this?: An ethical absolute is an inviolable value or principle by which human choices are made or according to which actions are evaluated. Can you criticize this or propose a better one?

    Notice how Plato had to invent an imaginary realm for absolutes. Not unlike the fluffy idea of a Christian’s heaven. The Greeks were big on absolutes…well why not? They had gods for everything. So “Thou shall not kill” unless it’s chicken for dinner…or we are in heaven where Forms are kept and you don’t even need to eat, I bet. Wait, that sucks!

    Of course Plato wasn’t a hard determinist I assume, otherwise why would he care about absolute morality?

    #39886

    Unseen
    Participant

    Notice how Plato had to invent an imaginary realm for absolutes. Not unlike the fluffy idea of a Christian’s heaven. The Greeks were big on absolutes…well why not? They had gods for everything. So “Thou shall not kill” unless it’s chicken for dinner…or we are in heaven where Forms are kept and you don’t even need to eat, I bet. Wait, that sucks! Of course Plato wasn’t a hard determinist I assume, otherwise why would he care about absolute morality?

    Well, I am a fairly hard determinist and yet I’m determined to act as if my choices are free.

    For a great period of time after Plato, science was heavily influenced by the more practical approach of Aristotle. Until modern times, that is. Science now recognizes that the world is wildly different from the way it seems, though science hasn’t adopted Plato’s forms. Things seem solid to the touch, and yet atoms are about 99.999% empty space, for example. The color of an orange, which we call orange, isn’t the color OF the orange, it’s the color rejected and not absorbed by the orange. So, is an orange really orange? Space which really seems empty, is actually churning with sub-subatomic activity, particles popping into  and then out of existence constantly. “Empty space” is pretty much an abstract concept with no reference to the space in which reality as we know it exists.

    Anyway, back to the question. What is an ethical absolute to you? You need to have one even if you want to refute it.

    #39887

    jakelafort
    Participant

    If the universe isn’t absolute does it follow that ethical precepts are or can be?

    #39888

    Poor Plato ended up just a shadow of his former self.

    #39890

    Unseen
    Participant

    If the universe isn’t absolute does it follow that ethical precepts are or can be?

    Do you see the universe as absolute or not, and why?

    Someone might argue that the universe just IS, and that that’s about as absolute as anything can be.

    #39891

    Unseen
    Participant

    Poor Plato ended up just a shadow of his former self.

    #39893

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen writes: Do you see the universe as absolute or not, and why?

    Someone might argue that the universe just IS, and that that’s about as absolute as anything can be.

    I think i may have laid an egg with a non sequitur.

    As to the universe i suspect there is no reality as we conceive it.

    #39894

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    An ethical absolute is an inviolable value or principle by which human choices are made or according to which actions are evaluated.

    I think that’s what an ethical absolute is.  I think we behave as if there is one ethical absolute: respecting human rights.  That means, probably among other things: 1) not using others as a tool to achieve my own goals (“Kantianism”); 2) giving them the maximum benefit and minimum harm available to them.  The second means that even though someone might be in jail, they have a human right to medical care.

    Now, that’s an ideal form.  The form is perfect; we may deviate from that perfection in practice.

    #39895

    _Robert_
    Participant

    An ethical absolute is an inviolable value or principle by which human choices are made or according to which actions are evaluated.

    I think that’s what an ethical absolute is. I think we behave as if there is one ethical absolute: respecting human rights. That means, probably among other things: 1) not using others as a tool to achieve my own goals (“Kantianism”); 2) giving them the maximum benefit and minimum harm available to them. The second means that even though someone might be in jail, they have a human right to medical care. Now, that’s an ideal form. The form is perfect; we may deviate from that perfection in practice.

    1) not using others as a tool to achieve my own goals (“Kantianism”)

    This is nonsense. Just by being alive and consuming for decades you leave behind a mountain of garbage and pollution and you use resources. We use each other continuously and somebody gets a better deal at someone’s expense. That is just what apes do, we transact. The reality is that we live in an entropic universe with limited available resources.

    2)giving them the maximum benefit and minimum harm available to them

    Benefit and harm as defined by you? them? We already established this is unknowable. I remember a boss telling me our customers didn’t know what was best for themselves. I looked at the problem and he was right. So do you go against their wishes and give them the best value and loose them as customers.

    Nothing absolute to see here. Baring some abnormal mentality your intentions will favor yourself. Long term self sacrificial behavior makes no sense unless you are at the end of your lifespan. Religion conveys that martyrs and sacrificial gods are admirable. It’s bullshit.

    #39896

    _Robert_
    Participant

    A democratic socialist society makes sense because you put into the system only when you can afford to and those in need are cared for. The idea being that you may need care yourself someday. This is how early humans succeeded. I resent how many Americans are reduced to beggars when life takes a turn. Then they rely on “altruism” and those who elect to give can feel all righteous about themselves. Screw that.

    #39897

    _Robert_
    Participant

    That post was so good it tried to go in twice, LOL.

    #39899

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Robert’s words of wisdom-A democratic socialist society makes sense because you put into the system only when you can afford to and those in need are cared for. The idea being that you may need care yourself someday. This is how early humans succeeded. I resent how many Americans are reduced to beggars when life takes a turn. Then they rely on “altruism” and those who elect to give can feel all righteous about themselves. Screw that.

    Nomadic peoples like Bedouins and Laplanders will give to other wandering individuals who are in need. It just makes sense since any in the giving group may receive help in time of need.

    The selfish aspect of altruism is especially prevalent in group dynamics.

    #39900

    Poor Plato ended up just a shadow of his former self.

    Unseen, I consider your facepalm pic as the reply of the year! Good one. Even Glaucon would agree!

    #39901

    Unseen
    Participant

    Benefit and harm as defined by you? them? We already established this is unknowable. I remember a boss telling me our customers didn’t know what was best for themselves. I looked at the problem and he was right. So do you go against their wishes and give them the best value and loose them as customers.

    An ethical absolute is an inviolable value or principle by which human choices are made or according to which actions are evaluated.

    I think that’s what an ethical absolute is. I think we behave as if there is one ethical absolute: respecting human rights. That means, probably among other things: 1) not using others as a tool to achieve my own goals (“Kantianism”); 2) giving them the maximum benefit and minimum harm available to them. The second means that even though someone might be in jail, they have a human right to medical care. Now, that’s an ideal form. The form is perfect; we may deviate from that perfection in practice.

    So, if we grant that ethics involves applying absolutes, the next question is this: Are there what we might call “overarching universal ethical absolutes” applying to everyone at all times, or do ethical people apply what we might call “personal absolutes.” Also, if the latter, does that sort of absolute deserve to be called an absolute?

    #39902

    Unseen
    Participant

    1) not using others as a tool to achieve my own goals (“Kantianism”) This is nonsense. Just by being alive and consuming for decades you leave behind a mountain of garbage and pollution and you use resources. We use each other continuously and somebody gets a better deal at someone’s expense. That is just what apes do, we transact. The reality is that we live in an entropic universe with limited available resources.

    Interesting dilemma: Give them what they want today and lose them later to a competitor once they figure out what’s what (if that happens), or lose them today and maybe welcome them back later once they figure out what’s what (but maybe not).

    Of course, capitalism is all about making hay today damn tomorrow and so and can’t be bothered with thinking long term, which explains why they run away from dealing with the totally obvious problem of a planet we are killing.

    While tackling climate change is likely to flip and flop from one election to the next in the United States, an authoritarian country with a more stable central government, like China’s, probably can tackle it better once they decide to do so. They got control of the pandemic far better than the United States because of their authoritarianism to take a relatable example.

    This is why China is probably going to bury the U.S. in the long run, despite all the negatives of an authoritarian government. The United States will never be able to control things well enough to actually tackle climate change unless the rest of the world decides to make us pay consequences for not doing so. In the U.S., all you have to do is drag jobs and the stock market into the picture and in the resulting freakout, the health of the planet gets forgotten.

    2) …I remember a boss telling me our customers didn’t know what was best for themselves. I looked at the problem and he was right. So do you go against their wishes and give them the best value and loose them as customers.

    There’s a legitimate business dilemma there: Do you give them what they want now and maybe get them back later once they figure out they were wrong or give them what they want today and later on lose them to a competitor?

    A person who believes in absolutes does what’s right not what’s convenient or profitable or which works most practically, doesn’t he?

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