Introspective on Morality


  • 2019 Moderator

    I am in an odd mood today.

    After reading through Yanny’s post on Columbus, I was thinking about the situation our friend Chris found himself in 500 years ago. I am very interested in the morality of men in general and I have come to the personal conclusion that morality only extends as far as society limits.

    Imagine for a moment if you will, finding your self suddenly having supreme power over every person and thing that is within your sight and for some distance beyond. Imagine that you have the power that CC had. Imagine that all of the people around you are either to ignorant to oppose you, to greedy to deny your bribes or can disappear at your whim.

    I think this is a perfect example of the adage “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

    If I am honest with myself, I must admit that I hope never to be in a similar situation as Christopher Columbus was. It is much easier to say I would never do those things than it is to prove it in deed.

    I am curious what the rest of you see honestly within yourselves.



  • I don’t belive one can know until they’ve actually experienced it.
    How can we, sitting here in front of a computer, say for sure how we would react to CC’s position. How can we possibly relate.


  • 2019 Moderator

    Well, the older I get, and by no means am I an old man, the more I get to know myself. The conclusion I have come to is I would fear this test. On the other hand perhaps that fear is an indicator that I could pass it.



  • It’s odd but the less religious the west gets the more moral it seems to get. Perhaps a strange co-incidence only, or is it?


  • 2019 Moderator

    I am interested in how you come to that conclusion.

    I personaly don’t believe religion has that much to do with morality.



  • I personaly don’t believe religion has that much to do with morality.

    I agree; they are two completely seperate things.



  • I think blind faith in religion allows you to do rather immoral acts such as killing in the name of god. The crusades come to mind. If they are heathen it’s not as bad to kill them or even allowable perhaps.

    Most of the killing and hatred in the middle east is religious based as to is the conflict between muslims and hindus. In Africa there is strife between animist, muslims and christians.

    If there was no religion half of the reasons for waging war would be gone. The English civil war was over religion, many of the wars in europe in prior centuries were religious based.



  • @BigBlocky:

    I think blind faith in religion allows you to do rather immoral acts such as killing in the name of god. The crusades come to mind. If they are heathen it’s not as bad to kill them or even allowable perhaps.

    Most of the killing and hatred in the middle east is religious based as to is the conflict between muslims and hindus. In Africa there is strife between animist, muslims and christians.

    If there was no religion half of the reasons for waging war would be gone. The English civil war was over religion, many of the wars in europe in prior centuries were religious based.

    disagree.
    After the reformation, religion was closely alligned with nationalism. Just as you had the “Protestants” vs. the “Catholics” - in many respects it might also be divided into “Rome-followers” vs. “independents”. This is a VERY simplistic way of looking at things, but the thing is, religion and nationalism are/were well intertwined in Europe such that one equalled another. If you are Portuguese/Spanish/Itallian - you are Catholic. If German, Scandanavian - Luthren/Protestant. If Swiss - Calvinist, Dutch - Dutch reformed, etc.
    OF course this doesn’t apply as well today, but may to some degree in some circles.



  • @cystic:

    @BigBlocky:

    I think blind faith in religion allows you to do rather immoral acts such as killing in the name of god. The crusades come to mind. If they are heathen it’s not as bad to kill them or even allowable perhaps.

    If there was no religion half of the reasons for waging war would be gone. The English civil war was over religion, many of the wars in europe in prior centuries were religious based.

    disagree.
    After the reformation, religion was closely alligned with nationalism. Just as you had the “Protestants” vs. the “Catholics” - in many respects it might also be divided into “Rome-followers” vs. “independents”. This is a VERY simplistic way of looking at things, but the thing is, religion and nationalism are/were well intertwined in Europe such that one equalled another. If you are Portuguese/Spanish/Itallian - you are Catholic. If German, Scandanavian - Luthren/Protestant. If Swiss - Calvinist, Dutch - Dutch reformed, etc.

    I have to agree with BB here, and disagree with you CC (on some parts at least).
    If you take a look at the major religious wars in europe, they mostly were not between nations but civil wars. We had the Hugenottes in France, lots of trouble in England, the 30-Years-War raging through the german states (although here you find international interests/fighting units).
    The connection of nations and religion came later, as a part of “clearing up” the mess and trying to make such wars less probable in the future. The main part on that was done by an act in the Holy Roman Empire, stating that the local lord can pick a confession and his people have to follow. This happening very early in the existance of Lutheranism made Prostestantism quite a “nationalistic” confession. The Reformed (Calvin et al.) did not have such an impact in Germany, but rose in already “existing” states (Switzerland, Netherlands (not really, but close enough, not as scattered as Germany), England and France), thus the connection between land/ruler and faith/confession was not implemented from the start (it came later, kind of, in England though).

    So, i guess that CC is right with his conclusion that religion became a pretty national thing, but got there from the wrong starting point.


  • 2019 Moderator

    @BigBlocky:

    I think blind faith in religion allows you to do rather immoral acts such as killing in the name of god. The crusades come to mind. If they are heathen it’s not as bad to kill them or even allowable perhaps.

    I think the key to that statement is “allows”. Religon is an institute where by people showcase their morality. I don’t believe religon has much effect on morality.

    I think that religon may possibly be a tool to help some people over come urges to be immoral. It may allso be a tool to get others to justify suppressing their morals for immoral gains. Either way I don’t belive the morals at the core of the individual actualy change.

    I think every day each of us has a strugle in our heads to determine if we will hold to what we believe is moraly right, whether that is sticking gum under the table or lopping of the heads of Infidels that refuse to admit their religion is wrong. Every one has morals some just have the ability to sweep them asside at will, or justify overlooking them in certain circumstance.



  • F_alk, an impressive survey of religion in Europe I must say. I’m not so sure I agree with you dezrtfish. Historically, religious institutes don’t allow people to showcase morality, they mold peoples morality. They indoctrinate, preach, brainwash, mold, form, impose, shape and direct attitudes.

    Religion when properly used can help to overcome immoral tendencies, so can moral suasion of peers. Christianity at it’s foundation has the 10 commandments, you can’t get more basic and fundemantal then that. Yet the institution of christianity has commited genocide. The poster boy for christians is Jesus who was very religiously tolerent, and yet the crusades occured.

    Christianity is probably one of the poorest examples of what good can come out of religion, though in recent times it has improved, Jerry Fallwell excluded.

    BB


  • 2019 Moderator

    I guess my reasoning of this issue comes from my definition of morality. I believe that everyone has an innate sense of what is right and wrong. There are many people in society that act against this for reasons neither I, nor anyone I believe, can explain. If we could we could eliminate crime, war and all the other nasty things caused my man.

    For example one might say, “Hitler was a man with no morals”. I don’t believe this is a true statement. I believe Hitler was a man who was able to suppress his morals to accomplish what he did. Whether being the natural salesman he was, he was able to lie to himself to make himself believe that what he was doing was for the greater good of man or whether there was just a short circuit in his brain who knows? But I do believe those morals were there.

    I have Immoral thoughts all the time. I don’t act on most of them because I choose not to. I say most, because I along with most honest people will admit that on occasion, more often than I would prefer, I take action that is opposed to what my morals tell me. I believe that if morality was subjective then one would never be able to accuse someone of being Immoral. After all if the action taken falls within that persons morals then it can’t be immoral. However if a person suppresses their morals it could easily me said that they were acting immorally if it is a given that we all have the same basic since of morality.

    That being said, I believe religion can give people an excuse to act outside of their morals. I do not believe that religion changes an individuals morals. Which is what I was trying to imply when I said that religion has little to do with morality.



  • I think a more important question would be, is there a universal morality? I’ll buy that everyone has morals, but is there one morality in common with the entire human race? And if there isn’t then how can we justify organizations like the UN? The subject of universal morality is, I think, one of the most difficult questions I’ve ever come across. Can I really remove my view point far enough from my own morals to see if another, contrasting set of morals could possibly ever be considered right? It’s a difficult question, and I wonder what you have to say about it.


  • 2019 Moderator

    That is exactly my point. I belive there is a universal morality. Of course there is no way to prove this point, but to me it makes sense.

    As a community it is our duty to try to assist each other in staying as true as possible to that “moral code”. I think that is the point of society.

    Can I really remove my view point far enough from my own morals to see if another, contrasting set of morals could possibly ever be considered right?

    Give me an example of contrasting morals so that I can more clearly understand your question.



  • @dezrtfish:

    That is exactly my point. I belive there is a universal morality. Of course there is no way to prove this point, but to me it makes sense.

    As a community it is our duty to try to assist each other in staying as true as possible to that “moral code”. I think that is the point of society.

    Can I really remove my view point far enough from my own morals to see if another, contrasting set of morals could possibly ever be considered right?

    Give me an example of contrasting morals so that I can more clearly understand your question.

    simply look at things from the perspective of a sociopath. These people as well as others with a wide variety of personality, mood, and psychotic disorders as well as fugue states (the misnomered “split personality” syndrome) may have moralities vastly different from the rest of the population.
    One might suggest that people with these “disorders” might well be excluded from the equation, but i submit that these designations were designed by other humans - those who might impose their own moralities on the population by “marginalizing” these people (far-fetched, i admit - can you tell i don’t like psychiatry?).
    Further to - i would suggest that for the “big issues” - life and death, protection and aggression, self and others, etc. that i could find examples of the opposite for every moralistic stance. There might be “small” ones that we all have in common, however i would have a lot of difficulty imagining this to be the case.



  • @dezrtfish:

    I believe that everyone has an innate sense of what is right and wrong. …
    For example one might say, “Hitler was a man with no morals”. I don’t believe this is a true statement. I believe Hitler was a man who was able to suppress his morals to accomplish what he did.

    Here you assume that the innate sense of what is right and wrong is universal.
    I do not agree with that. I think that (to stick to your example), Hitler really believed that there were different values for different people.
    History of man is full of this behavior (slavery through all times, racism, sexism etc.). Still, i do not agree with this behavior.

    @bossk:

    I think a more important question would be, is there a universal morality…And if there isn’t then how can we justify organizations like the UN? …Can I really remove my view point far enough from my own morals to see if another, contrasting set of morals could possibly ever be considered right.

    For the first and third,as isaid, i don’t think there is a universal morality. The “different values”-behavior seems to be common that i would (provokingly) put it as part of that universal morality, and put myself out of this universal codex.
    For the third: The UN is a post WW2 - western culture dominated club. Still, it is the best try mankind ever made to find some common ground and prevent crimes that are against the common western morality set up during the 18th century (mainly by english and french thinkers, taken up by US and french politicians). From my background as western european, i agree with the ideals proclaimed there, therefore i support the UN.

    @dezrtfish:

    I belive there is a universal morality. …
    As a community it is our duty to try to assist each other in staying as true as possible to that “moral code”. I think that is the point of society.

    And that would be the point of the UN as well: try to find something that every woman and man can agree to, and watch over these -probably few- values.


  • 2019 Moderator

    simply look at things from the perspective of a sociopath. These people as well as others with a wide variety of personality, mood, and psychotic disorders as well as fugue states (the misnomered “split personality” syndrome) may have moralities vastly different from the rest of the population.
    One might suggest that people with these “disorders” might well be excluded from the equation, but i submit that these designations were designed by other humans - those who might impose their own moralities on the population by “marginalizing” these people (far-fetched, i admit - can you tell i don’t like psychiatry?).
    quote]

    With this line of thought you are suggesting that perhaps Ted Bundy had a different set of moral values than I do. I disagree. I think Ted knew what he was doing was wrong he just didn’t have the ability to control his urges. I have the urge to injure or even kill people from time to time, however I resist that urge and stick to what I believe is morally right.

    Further to - i would suggest that for the “big issues” - life and death, protection and aggression, self and others, etc. that i could find examples of the opposite for every moralistic stance. There might be “small” ones that we all have in common, however i would have a lot of difficulty imagining this to be the case.

    I am willing to go beyond my moral beliefs to defend my life or the lives of others. This doesn’t mean that if I kill someone in defence of my life that I acted within my morals. I still believe it is imoral to kill someone. This is why police officers are so often emotionaly devastated after they are forced to kill someone in the defence of themselves or others. They have done something against their morals even though they were justified in doing so.

    I believe the death penalty is immoral, however since exile is no longer a viable option, logicly steps must be taken to protect society. For this reason I am not opposed to the death penalty as a punnishment even though I belive taking another persons life is immoral.

    Am I confusing enough yet?



  • I think there is an universal system of morals. If you look at the many different cultures you will find many different things in comon. For example, Murder a person is always wrong. But this isn’t really the issue. The issue is “what is a person?” I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitler thought it was wrong to murder someone. However, his definition of a person, a human, was different. He ordered the Holocost because he didn’t think that Jews were people. According to Hitler’s worldview, Jews were sub-human, animals, and therefore, could be killed with a clean conscience. Cultures may vary on how many wives a man can have, but you couldn’t just go out and have any woman you wanted. In other instances, the rules would only apply to that paticular group or tribe, but other tribes or people groups were outside of whatever system of ethics they held, and so a man could go raiding and come back with two or three women. But that didn’t change the fact that in his society, and probably in the women’s society, you couldn’t just go out at take any woman you wanted.

    Anyway, I would be interested in hearing those of you who do not think there is a universal code of ethics to answer two questions:
    (1) What is Truth?
    (2) Does Truth ever change?
    I’ve read through all of the past postings and this is a really great discussion.

    Jacob



  • Ah, you pulled out Truth (with a capital “T”). I believe there is no Truth, only a few truths. These truths must be determined in each society and by each individual, and therefore truth is constantly changing. To say truth is static would be denying history. You may call me relativist scum, but I’ll never give in to absolutism.



  • A different view of…

    Universal Morality -

    1)All morals may change due to internal conflict brought on by external stimuli.
    2)I want to breathe.
    3)I want to be nutritionally satisfied. NOTE: This may range from vitamin suppliments to food to sustain my needed(subjective) level of activity to gorged.
    4)I want to get enough sleep to satisfy my body’s needs(subjective.)

    I do not accept “Murder is wrong” as a valid moral stance. If you were going to murder my family, I WOULD MURDER YOU and IT IS STILL MURDER. It depends on what your definition of the word “is” is.

    /30



  • @El:

    A different view of…

    Universal Morality -

    1)All morals may change due to internal conflict brought on by external stimuli.
    2)I want to breathe.
    3)I want to be nutritionally satisfied. NOTE: This may range from vitamin suppliments to food to sustain my needed(subjective) level of activity to gorged.
    4)I want to get enough sleep to satisfy my body’s needs(subjective.)

    I do not accept “Murder is wrong” as a valid moral stance. If you were going to murder my family, I WOULD MURDER YOU and IT IS STILL MURDER. It depends on what your definition of the word “is” is.

    /30

    don’t forget “5”

    • i want to have sex and i have a biological need to reproduce -
      the inner voice of date-rapers everywhere.


  • Bossk: Ah, you pulled out Truth (with a capital “T”). I believe there is no Truth, only a few truths. These truths must be determined in each society and by each individual, and therefore truth is constantly changing. To say truth is static would be denying history.You may call me relativist scum, but I’ll never give in to absolutism.

    I don’t think you scum. You might be a relativist, but that doesn’t mean you’re scum. Anyway, If Truth changes, it isn’t Truth. Truth is an absolute. You cannot escape absolutes. If I said that all truth was subjective and that there is no absolutes, I would be creating an absolute. Call it: “The Absolute of No Absolutes,” if you will. However, an absolute that is not an absolute is illogical.

    Also, if there is no objective standard for right and wrong, should you stop me from stealing your car? Stealing, may, after all, be ethical for me, but by stoping me, you would be holding me to your standard, which would imply that you think your system of ethics is supirior to mine, and that my code of morality is somehow flawed. Now, I wouldn’t consider going out and stealing anyone’s car because I think that is stealing, but how would a relativist deal with that situation and still retain his “relativism?”

    Think Hard Think Well

    Jacob

    ps: El Jefe, what do you mean when you say murder?



  • This directly ties into the abortion thread that we had going, and whether one group of people should be held to another person’s “beliefs.”



  • @Jacob_Duhm:

    Anyway, If Truth changes, it isn’t Truth. Truth is an absolute. You cannot escape absolutes. If I said that all truth was subjective and that there is no absolutes, I would be creating an absolute. Call it: “The Absolute of No Absolutes,” if you will. However, an absolute that is not an absolute is illogical.

    Binary logic is out-of-date 🙂
    Truth can be both relative and absolute: Some parts can change (e.g. at the moment, the sun shines through the window next to me. It probably won’t do so at night, thus what is true at the moment need not be true later.) or be dependant on where you are: If i say “it now is day-time”, you sitting on a different continent have a high chance of taking that as a lie. At the moment, humankind (or part of it) is even discussing if our most fundamental constants of nature are slowly changing over long long time-scales. So even their value doesn’t need to be “fixed and true”.
    Of course, some other things are absolute, most often these are purely logical issues or principles, often found in math: For example “The set of rational numbers forms a body in regard to addition and multiplication”.
    This is true, no matter wether there is anything left in the universe that can actually think this thought, it then still would be true.

    Also, if there is no objective standard for right and wrong, should you stop me from stealing your car? Stealing, may, after all, be ethical for me, but by stoping me, you would be holding me to your standard, which would imply that you think your system of ethics is supirior to mine, and that my code of morality is somehow flawed. Now, I wouldn’t consider going out and stealing anyone’s car because I think that is stealing, but how would a relativist deal with that situation and still retain his “relativism?”

    You don’t like secular humanism, do you? Logic says: Don’t do to others what you don’t want have done to yourself, unless they have done it to you already. Look up the prisoners’ dilemma of game theory.
    Even so: Reltaivism in the definition of truth has nothing to do with relativism in ones moral/ethical positions. You can define your own set of rules (and hope/ignore that they do/don’t collide too much with all the others’ sets) regardless of what you think is true. My truth of “there is no creator of the universe” does not at all have an influence of my decision “not to cross streets while the lights are red unless i am in a hurry and there are no children around”.



  • @F_alk:

    @Jacob_Duhm:

    Anyway, If Truth changes, it isn’t Truth. Truth is an absolute. You cannot escape absolutes. If I said that all truth was subjective and that there is no absolutes, I would be creating an absolute. Call it: “The Absolute of No Absolutes,” if you will. However, an absolute that is not an absolute is illogical.

    Binary logic is out-of-date 🙂
    Truth can be both relative and absolute: Some parts can change (e.g. at the moment, the sun shines through the window next to me. It probably won’t do so at night, thus what is true at the moment need not be true later.) or be dependant on where you are: If i say “it now is day-time”, you sitting on a different continent have a high chance of taking that as a lie.

    or, realizing your position in the world, and having half a brain i have an even higher chance of realizing that your part of the world was facing the sun at that moment. How does this relate? Just as a sideline - some people’s truths are relative to their position in time and space (and their own ideology determined from their life’s circumstance). I think that many Christians have come a long way in interpreting the Truth (I am the way, the truth and the life . . . ) as it may apply to other people differently to others than to themselves. This is not to say that there are no absolutes in Christian truth, however (the resurrection of Christ, for example, the existance of sin . . . ) much as some of us Christian somewhat-relativists might wish to suggest otherwise in broadening its appeal to relativist scum.

    Also, if there is no objective standard for right and wrong, should you stop me from stealing your car? Stealing, may, after all, be ethical for me, but by stoping me, you would be holding me to your standard, which would imply that you think your system of ethics is supirior to mine, and that my code of morality is somehow flawed. Now, I wouldn’t consider going out and stealing anyone’s car because I think that is stealing, but how would a relativist deal with that situation and still retain his “relativism?”

    You don’t like secular humanism, do you? Logic says: Don’t do to others what you don’t want have done to yourself, unless they have done it to you already. Look up the prisoners’ dilemma of game theory.
    Even so: Reltaivism in the definition of truth has nothing to do with relativism in ones moral/ethical positions. You can define your own set of rules (and hope/ignore that they do/don’t collide too much with all the others’ sets) regardless of what you think is true. My truth of “there is no creator of the universe” does not at all have an influence of my decision “not to cross streets while the lights are red unless i am in a hurry and there are no children around”.

    “God is good, but don’t dance in a rowboat” might be the Christian version of this.
    and the “no children around” is a nice touch. This mitigates my decision only if i am truly in a non-hurry.


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