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 8 months, 2 weeks ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 61 through 75 (of 162 total)
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  • #39903

    Unseen
    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.

    That’s 100% pure Karl Marx, Robert, and  as a Marxist-inspired political thinker myself, I totally agree.

    #39904

    Unseen
    Participant

    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.

    The hospitality of many wandering folk is well-known, be they Bedouins or Mongols. I suspect it’s because they exist on a knife’s edge from one day to the next, not necessarily being able to trust that there will always be food or water to sustain them, unlike I suspect all of us who can drink from the kitchen tap or shop at a local market, and have the resources to do so.

    #39905

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    We use each other continuously and somebody gets a better deal at someone’s expense. That is just what apes do, we transact.

    But apes aren’t necessarily very ethical.

    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.

    You’re right, it’s a problem to be solved.  But knowing somebody’s needs is easier than knowing exactly what is going on inside their heads.  To find someone’s needs we have to have empathic concern for them – we have to care about them enough to want to know.

    If someone thinks they need other than what they really do need – that’s probably an unusual situation, but it doesn’t invalidate the formula.  Most of the time, socially, people’s needs are fairly straightforward.

    #39906

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    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

    Like I said: human rights, or human decency.  Helping in response to need, and not harming unnecessarily.  Treating someone as a human being.

    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?

    I think we can have personal absolutes, belonging to a particular person.  Not a univeral absolute, a personal absolute.

    #39907

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    The hospitality of many wandering folk is well-known, be they Bedouins or Mongols. I suspect it’s because they exist on a knife’s edge from one day to the next, not necessarily being able to trust that there will always be food or water to sustain them, unlike I suspect all of us who can drink from the kitchen tap or shop at a local market, and have the resources to do so.

    You’re describing the whole world, the human family tree, for the 2 million years before city states were invented.  There is no evidence of warfare before 10,000 years ago.  This risky environmental niche is where we think we got our altruistic instincts from.

    #39908

    Unseen
    Participant

    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

    Like I said: human rights, or human decency. Helping in response to need, and not harming unnecessarily. Treating someone as a human being.

    So you do believe in overarching universal ethical absolutes. I ask because below…

    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?

    I think we can have personal absolutes, belonging to a particular person. Not a univeral absolute, a personal absolute.

    This doesn’t seem to involve the overarching universal ethical absolutes you seem to agree with in your first-part answer.

    #39909

    Unseen
    Participant

    The hospitality of many wandering folk is well-known, be they Bedouins or Mongols. I suspect it’s because they exist on a knife’s edge from one day to the next, not necessarily being able to trust that there will always be food or water to sustain them, unlike I suspect all of us who can drink from the kitchen tap or shop at a local market, and have the resources to do so.

    You’re describing the whole world, the human family tree, for the 2 million years before city states were invented. There is no evidence of warfare before 10,000 years ago. This risky environmental niche is where we think we got our altruistic instincts from.

    I don’t know about war, but murders as early as 430,000 years ago have been discovered.

    Let’s refer back to Gyges ring as well, Simon. People don’t seem to be overly-bound by guard rails when they are sure they can do something without being detected. One evidence of this is the way people treat others online (not here, of course, where we’re all reasonably civilized), using the most reprehensible insults on each other, spouting scurrilous racist theories, spreading damaging lies about others, etc., and all because they are sure no one will ever know their true identity.

    Socrates’ interlocutor, at least at first glance, seems to be right: If you can get away with it, why stop yourself?  Where’s the benefit?

    Hence, the appeal of believing in overarching universal ethical absolutes.

    #39910

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Just completed a book involving hiking the App. Trail. Not surprisingly through hikers are typically generous when encountering on the trail a hiker in distress. Even former through hikers are wont to leave so called trail magic for those making the journey. Makes sense. Same basic dynamics as nomads in which there is no assurance of resources when on the move. If all give then all receive when need is greatest.

    So that is a norm that becomes a part of the ethics of the group. On the other hand in big cities all over the world is you are down and out you can’t count on the generosity of others. It seems mendicants appeal more to guilt among their targets than to a reciprocal duty between haves and have-nots. Most of the encounters between passersby and mendicants is similar to passersby and pigeons. Just ignore and be about your business.

    I say this to say that at any given time the ethics reflects the economics. That is not a sufficient basis for ethics. It is practical but contemporary mores are never the paradigm.

    #39911

    _Robert_
    Participant

    We use each other continuously and somebody gets a better deal at someone’s expense. That is just what apes do, we transact.

    But apes aren’t necessarily very ethical.

    Simon we ARE apes and apes are us….we are who I was referring to, LOL.

    #39912

    Just completed a book involving hiking the App. Trail

    I will be staying about 60 miles south of Springer Mountain for Thanksgiving next week and we might “make a start” on one of the days. Plenty of time left to finish it 🙂

    #39913

    But apes aren’t necessarily very ethical.

    Some apes are just not into back scratching other apes.

    #39914

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    This doesn’t seem to involve the overarching universal ethical absolutes you seem to agree with in your first-part answer.

    I believe those personal inviolable principles are normally called “red lines” or “white lines”, by lawyers.  In theory, we can have both universal over-arching and personal ethical absolutes.

    I don’t know about war, but murders as early as 430,000 years ago have been discovered.

    Yes, murder isn’t the same as organised warfare.

    If you can get away with it, why stop yourself? Where’s the benefit?

    That’s a good point.  But while people do tend to act better when others are watching, they don’t necessarily remove their moral sense when they’re alone.  I think it depends on conscientiousness as a personality trait – how much effort we put in to fulfilling ideal standards.

    Even when no-one else is watching, do we let our compassion fail towards another living being who is present before us?  Reputational concerns come into it, but we are not very likely to deny help we could give to someone who needs it.  Compassion is at the root of human rights.

    #39915

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    So that is a norm that becomes a part of the ethics of the group. On the other hand in big cities all over the world is you are down and out you can’t count on the generosity of others. It seems mendicants appeal more to guilt among their targets than to a reciprocal duty between haves and have-nots. Most of the encounters between passersby and mendicants is similar to passersby and pigeons. Just ignore and be about your business. I say this to say that at any given time the ethics reflects the economics.

    Maybe not just the economics, but the social situation as well.  Is it an emergency situation (like the Appalachian trail)?  Is it a small group (where people are known and trusted, and likely to reciprocate again), or a large group (where people don’t know or care about others who are strangers)?

    God for religious people is like an anti-Ring of Gyges – He’s always watching.

    #39916

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    we ARE apes and apes are us

    But we’re different from the other great apes – we have much more compassion, we have fairness, and we have a set of abstract ideals and principles.  Other apes are basically competitive rather than cooperative.

    #39917

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    https://www.academia.edu/28969590/Religion_and_Morality_The_Evolution_of_the_Cognitive_Nexus

    This is an excellent article about religion and gene-culture coevolution.

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