What is [interpersonal] moral legitimacy, and do we need it?
May 11, 2018 at 6:34 pm #9136
Interpersonal morality means anything involving personal actions between single individuals. If we take it as read that we know what ours is, and can identify it – we can call it IM, or “love your neighbour as yourself”, or something similar – where does it derive its authority? From people? The one we have already can be described in writing.
@drbob quite rightly points out that Nazi Germany was a country full of people who presumably thought it was right to do what they did. They derived their moral authority from each other all saying it was right.May 12, 2018 at 2:13 pm #9140
Humanism puts human flourishing as the most important value. The Nazis were violating the personal well being and rights of a number of groups wholesale. They would have said, they deserve it because of x, y, z. In modern times, we wouldn’t even treat Isis terrorists that way.May 12, 2018 at 4:59 pm #9141
In atheism, there’s nobody (no God) to say “do this, don’t do that”.
What happens is, if you do “this”, this will happen, and if you do “that”, that will happen. So it comes down to a choice of values, and a choice of values is always arbitrary. Everybody in the world wants to thrive, survive and (most people want to) reproduce.May 12, 2018 at 10:01 pm #9142
The inherent goodness of the German people was exploited by the Nazi Party and by the Church. The words “Gott Mit Uns” or “God with us” was historical engraved on soldiers belt buckles – going back to the Franco Prussian war or even a little earlier than that. The words were already part of the national zeitgeist but exploited by Hitler to aid his superior race claims.
But in fairness the Catholic Church did excommunicate Goebbels as explained by guess who?May 13, 2018 at 4:23 am #9143
Simon, if Germans felt what they were doing was right, then why was there so much widespread denial of knowledge of the holocaust?
Reg, germanic peoples have a history of being warlike. The so called exploitation was not imposing something from without that was foreign and unwelcome. There had been calls for a final solution before Hitler. The Germans were deeply and virulently antisemitic. Luther himself was of course deeply antisemitic and his followers were many in Germany. Initially Hitler Youth was voluntary and the great majority of Germans joined it enthusiastically without any need to compel entry.
The analogy of Trump supporters comes to mind. Is it fair to say that Trump exploited his followers? Or is it more accurate to conceive of their support as reflecting who they are? I say the latter? What say you?May 13, 2018 at 9:39 am #9146
@regthefronkeyfarmer – that’s a good point, and it ties in with the article (below) I just dug out of an old Sunday School before I’d read your reply. People want to feel like they’re doing good and righteous work, so if they can be convinced of that, they’ll do anything.
I’m a great believer in synchronicity. If something sounds like woo, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is. I find you can engineer synchronicity if you really need to, so that shows something. I’ve had this experience at least twice.
I find there’s only so much information I can stuff into my head, so I’ve missed some very interesting Sunday School entries, and it’s been a great exercise to go back over them. Quite simply, they’re amazing, and could make a web site all on their own, so thanks Reg for your fantastic effort every week.May 13, 2018 at 9:41 am #9147
@jakelafort – “if Germans felt what they were doing was right, then why was there so much widespread denial of knowledge of the holocaust?”
– that’s a very good point, that shows the way to a universal morality or ethics. They knew they would be condemned by pretty much the whole world, forever, as a definition of evil. It’s interesting how Isis, their modern counterparts, are proud of the evil they do and glory in showing it pornographically to the whole world. They must really think they’re righteous and have God on their side.May 13, 2018 at 1:07 pm #9150
“I have no conscience, Adolf Hitler is my conscience.”
Hitler was a god-like figure to them…..centuries of religion had trained them to be sheep.May 13, 2018 at 2:49 pm #9155
Hermann Göring: “I have no conscience, Adolf Hitler is my conscience.”
That’s interesting, because it seems clear that a lack of conscience (also empathic concern, and sense of right and wrong) is part of narcissism, and Hitler was most likely an extreme toxic narcissist. I believe there are definitely degrees of the dysfunctional narcissism that people are born with, with different dimensions varying by person; and degrees of how crazy their narcissistic parent(s) then moulded them to be.May 13, 2018 at 3:03 pm #9156
It is a kind of perversion to worship, lionize or empower a human as a god. The masses subvert decency and individuality to the alter of the figure head. Those under its influence have lost any compass of ethics/morality and will tirelessly pursue the interests of the group to further the intentions of the figure head. Using the ethos of such sick and demented people to further an argument that ethics is of necessity cultural and temporal furthers a relativism that will leave us as a species to the whim of the winds.May 13, 2018 at 3:42 pm #9158
I think the one universalisable thing is “human rights”, and actually, all of interpersonal ethics can be derived from this idea. The people who claim that human rights are a bad thing are those who benefit from withholding it from others.May 13, 2018 at 5:05 pm #9159
The Nazi party lost and are now all dead. If only there was some word, maybe a German one, to describe how that makes me feel.May 13, 2018 at 6:47 pm #9161May 13, 2018 at 6:50 pm #9162
If someone asks an atheist where we get our moral authority, we can say, in a world of people, it’s “the law of cause and effect”. If we do “this”, this happens; if we do “that”, that happens. Our primary value is the maximum flourishing and minimum harm available for each person. See how it all ties up?May 13, 2018 at 7:56 pm #9163
From the link above;
But trying to nurture moral virtues is one thing; assuming that you are already moral and virtuous simply because you identify with a particular religion is another. The latter turns religion into a tool for self-glorification. A religion’s adherents assume themselves to be moral by default, and so they never bother to question themselves. At the same time, they look down on other people as misguided souls, if not wicked infidels.
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