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 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 91 through 105 (of 162 total)
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  • #39935

    _Robert_
    Participant

    The only over arching ethical rule I think exists is simply to survive at any cost.

    I think that human life is a constant tug-of-war between competition (or self-interest) and cooperation (or cooperative morality). Just like there’s a constant tug-of-war between hierarchy and egalitarianism, or patriarchy and women’s rights.

    Agreed.

    #39936

    Unseen
    Participant

    Evidence that you have an ethical absolute of some sort and that it’s worth its salt is that it forces you into decisions that you resist with every fiber of your being and that don’t benefit you at all and may even result in injury to yourself.

    Do you agree?

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 4 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    #39938

    _Robert_
    Participant

    An individual who is “taking a hit” for the family (or country) is pretty common herd behavior…again the goal being survival…So yeah personal survival vs group survival is not an easy choice for sentient beings but again it is just the selfish gene, but ‘herd’ style.

    #39939

    Davis
    Moderator

    The only over arching ethical rule I think exists is simply to survive at any cost

    That isn’t an ethical rule. That is an evolutionary instinct. And clearly not strong enough considering how many people commit suicide and how many people do things they know will lead to an early death (smoking, drinking) and engage in reckless and violent behaviour (war, crime). And as a moral rule, it is hardly universal but is mostly a Judeo-Christian-Islamic concept (at least to do so any cost). This fairly toxic idea has led to, even today say in the UK, MPs voting against even the most extremely narrow laws allowing assisted suicide despite 80% of the population strongly supporting the law. Note that the few Western countries around the world permitting assisted suicide are highly secular ones. Almost ALL resistance (in the: at any cost)  is religious based using excuses like “if we allow this families will try to force their elderly relations to get rid of themselves” despite zero evidence this happens and the extreme restrictions of the proposed law (meaning this is just an excuse to perpetuate church based nonsense). Outside of Judeo-Christian-Islamic cultures, you don’t find too many cultures that look at suicide (at least in the most extreme cases) as an absolute moral wrong. There is much less taboo in animist and some Eastern cultures.

    The only moral law I know of which tends to be found in almost all (though not every single) moral systems is: “don’t pointlessly hurt others”. Even this is not absolute, as the values of some hedonist pushers would allow this.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 4 weeks ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 4 weeks ago by  Davis.
    #39942

    _Robert_
    Participant

    The only moral law I know of which tends to be found in almost all (though not every single) moral systems is: “don’t pointlessly hurt others”. Even this is not absolute, as the values of some hedonist pushers would allow this.

    Yea, this is probably true but may also come from the instinct to survive since especially when people lived in small isolated groups being needlessly asshole-ish would eventually come around to bite you.

    #39943

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Evidence that you have an ethical absolute of some sort and that it’s worth its salt is that it forces you into decisions that you resist with every fiber of your being and that don’t benefit you at all and may even result in injury to yourself. Do you agree?

    If an ethical absolute is respecting people’s dignity and human rights, it would be hard to do in some circumstances, such as if you come across a child murderer.  People are willing to risk injury, or cost, to themselves, to uphold this principle because it makes a better world for everyone.

    Respecting someone’s human rights involves not harming them unnecessarily.  It also involves helping them, or benefiting them, to the greatest extent available: minimally, taking care of their basic needs.  In the UK there are some cases of ex-Isis brides who want to be repatriated from Kurdish camps back to the UK.  The UK government doesn’t want to know.  It’s not helping them, but is not harming them either.

    #39944

    Davis
    Moderator

    If an ethical absolute is respecting people’s dignity and human rights, it would be hard to do in some circumstances, such as if you come across a child murderer.

    I read this three times and cannot make sense out of it. I don’t believe you have a grasp of what ethical absolutes are.

    People are willing to risk injury, or cost, to themselves, to uphold this principle because it makes a better world for everyone.

    That isn’t what Unseen was getting at.

    Respecting someone’s human rights involves not harming them unnecessarily.

    Nor do you seem to understand what human rights are. Yes, a few human rights protect you from unfair treatment by the government but for other cases of grievous unnecessary harm, laws protect you…not human rights. For minor harm, no law nor right will protect you from that. Saying to someone they look ugly is not illegal nor a breach of human rights. Be careful with overly broad statements.

    It also involves helping them, or benefiting them, to the greatest extent available: minimally, taking care of their basic needs.

    That is not human rights but the machinations of some Western welfare states.

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 4 weeks ago by  Davis.
    #39945

    Davis
    Moderator

    In the UK there are some cases of ex-Isis brides who want to be repatriated from Kurdish camps back to the UK.  The UK government doesn’t want to know.  It’s not helping them, but is not harming them either.

    Not being stripped of citizenship is a basic human right in most countries. The UK government conveniently ignores such a right to gain the anti-muslim vote. Everyone suffers when a government can take away your citizenship when they feel like it. Bring them home, charge them and jail them. Definitely bring home their children who are innocent citizens who should not be endangered in unhealthy camps.

    #39947

    Unseen
    Participant

    If an ethical absolute is respecting people’s dignity and human rights, it would be hard to do in some circumstances, such as if you come across a child murderer.  People are willing to risk injury, or cost, to themselves, to uphold this principle because it makes a better world for everyone.

    Like Davis, I don’t get what you are saying. Let’s talk about a practical example.

    There  is a common interpretation of a clinical psychologist’s or psychiatrist’s ethics that values the sanctity of the consulting situation as inviolable, much like the Christian confessional, such that if the client starts off the first consultation with “I murder children and I really wish I could stop because the urge to murder my neighbor’s 12 year old is becoming overwhelming,” that admission must remain confidential and a secret held between the two of you for you to take to the grave, including if you know he eventually carries out that impulse.

    There is a practical reason often given for this sacred confidentiality which is that, unless someone can count on their secrets being kept and never being betrayed, why would they seek help? And this includes if they see clinicians betraying other people’s secrets.  There’s a greater good, in other words, in the larger picture, in maintaining that confidentiality rather than in betraying it.

    On the other hand, in terms of an overarching universal ethical absolute, you simply are bound by secrets once you agree to hear them in confidence. Why? It’s just wrong to do otherwise. There’s an overarching universal ethical absolute for you.

    That’s what I was getting at when I referred to choices which you resist with every fiber of your being, which don’t benefit you and may even harm yourself, because the burden of carrying such secrets harms one’s psyche.

    As a practical legal matter, in many jurisdictions it is illegal for a clinician not to betray such secrets exposing the clinician to both criminal and civil liabilities. If the clinician believes in the inviolability of the consulting situation, however, that sort of law doesn’t help.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 4 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    #39949

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Not being stripped of citizenship is a basic human right in most countries.

    You’re right, the UK is not willing to risk injury by allowing Shamima Begum back into the country.  But she is attracting a lot of compassion from certain quarters.

    I stand by my assertion that an over-arching ethical imperative (for humans) is to treat people with the maximum benefit and minimum harm available to them.

    #39950

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    There’s an overarching universal ethical absolute for you.

    True, it’s overarching for people who believe in it, which seems to be most practitioners.  So it’s almost overarching in both senses – personal and universal.

    #39951

    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.

    This article should be required reading for all atheists.  It seems to dissect the formation of big religions expertly.

    a closer reading reveals that evolution gave shape to the moral contours of even Jesus’s teachings. To recognize this, we need to place Christianity in its ecological niche. Christianity developed from a small apocalyptic sect within Judaism, which was itself a minority population within a Hellenized Roman world. It emerged, along with Rabbinic Judaism, from the ashes of a catastrophic Jewish war with Rome that rendered traditional expressions of Judaism no longer feasible. An ill-defined group identity, as occurs during periods of social upheaval and transformation, creates personal and social anxiety. Such a situation is open to moral innovation, but also creates social confusion. During such a time, issues of identity formation are of crucial concern. Although the earliest canonical Christian documents—the letters of Paul—predate the war, Paul was already intensely focused on creating a distinct identity for Christians. The Gospels, which follow both Paul and the war, were also vehicles for accomplishing this task. What we find in the New Testament is a redefining of group-identity, and a redrawing of the in-group boundary, not the erasure of such a boundary.

    #39956

    Unseen
    Participant

    There’s an overarching universal ethical absolute for you.

    True, it’s overarching for people who believe in it, which seems to be most practitioners. So it’s almost overarching in both senses – personal and universal.

    You, then, don’t really believe in absolutes, or don’t understand what an absolute would be. An ethical absolute isn’t a personal belief held dear. It’s something that’s true no matter what, even if no one believes it, analogous to a mathematical truth. An ethical absolute, if such exists, will be true forever even long after mankind is extinct, like the inverse square law, the law of the excluded middle, or the commutative law of addition. Truths which are true because they simply cannot be false.

    Davis is right: You do need to get some basic philosophy under your belt.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    #39958

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    If there were no more priests around to hear the confessional – would the confidentiality of the confessional still be an overarching ethical absolute?

    #39959

    Unseen
    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.

    This article should be required reading for all atheists. It seems to dissect the formation of big religions expertly.

    Well, Simon, I’m sure all of that gentleman’s critics would have a different reading list for me of things I should also be required to read.

    If you’ve paid attention to me over the years, you’d know that my attitude is that if someone (in this case you) can’t explain something to me in their own words, relatively briefly, and in language I can understand, I’m not interested. We all read the books that interest us, taking from them what we personally find valuable, but after that we sit down at the table of ideas and bring ourselves to the discussion, not the book.

    Einstein famously may not have said, “If you cannot explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it well enough yourself,” yet I think that’s true (although maybe more for a 12 or 14 year old). Certainly, while his theories were based on formulas most people could not understand in a mathematical way, he succeeded admirably on a higher level in explaining his ideas through simple examples and thought experiments.

    So, if you cannot convince us in your own words, YOU go back and reread it until you can.

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