Debate and Discussion

Universal Morality: does it exist?
reconjsh at 9:18AM, March 7, 2007
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Are there universal rights and wrongs? Like, no matter what someone else may think about it, something is wrong/right no matter what.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
CorruptComics at 3:23PM, March 7, 2007
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If the universe is a random result of matter, then no. Morality can only be relative to the individual whom posses them. To think that the “universe” has a moral code would be more to imply the universe was created by intelligent design.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:46AM
reconjsh at 3:34PM, March 7, 2007
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The “universal” as in: for everyone. Not as in: the infinite place.

LOL.


Universal:
Someone
something is wrong/right no matter what?
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
CorruptComics at 3:43PM, March 7, 2007
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I know what you meant, but how can something be constant through out the universe unless it's the universes own morals.

Is rape universally immoral? No. If it was rape, would never happen.

Is rape considered immoral by the majority? Yes. That is why rape doesn't happen to everyone.

You can teach certain morals to certain people. Certain people will develop their own morals despise what they have been taught. But in the end, a persons moral belief is their own. If it goes against the morality of the majority then you have to pay the consequence if you act on them. Is that in of itself moral? Depends on what you believe.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:46AM
reconjsh at 4:06PM, March 7, 2007
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People going against or not believing in a moral doesn't negate the possibility it's universal.

definition of moral: “good according to a standard of right and wrong”

Honesty. That's a universal moral. Sometimes it's right to be dishonest in the interest of good. In this case, dishonesty becomes moral. But that doesn't negate honesty as being moral.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
reconjsh at 4:12PM, March 7, 2007
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Someone else says it much better than me:

Someone
Morality can be defined as Universally Preferred Behavior (i.e. a moral theory is that which proposes which behaviors should be preferred - or proscribed - for all peoples in all places at all times.)

For a proposition to be defined as moral, it must advocate a logically consistent set of Universally Preferred Behavior, such as “don't steal.”
Anyone who argues against Universally Preferred Behavior must do so using clear language, arguments, logic and evidence - all based on the principle that truth is better than falsehood.

Clear language, argument, logic and evidence - and a universal preference for truth over falsehood - are all examples of Universally Preferred Behavior. Therefore a man can only argue against Universally Preferred Behavior by using Universally Preferred Behavior, since anyone who argues is acting on the premise that clear language is universally preferred to gibberish, logic to illogic, and truth to falsehood.

Since Universally Preferred Behavior cannot be opposed without accepting the premise of Universally Preferred Behavior, Universally Preferred Behavior must stand as a valid concept.

The argument follows the same general lines as arguments for logic itself. Logic as a methodology for validating the consistency of arguments is irrefutable, since logic can only be dismissed either on a whim, which is invalid, or using logic, which relies on the validity of logic in the first place.

Arguing against Universally Preferred Behavior is like shouting into somebody's ear that sound does not exist, or phoning someone to tell him that phones are a fantasy. The argument self-destructs on deployment.

A sample argument runs thus:

Person A: People should not steal.
Person B: There is no such thing as morality, since objective standards do not exist.
So I should not believe that theft is wrong, because no objective standards exist?
That's right.
Is it merely your opinion that no objective standards exist, or is it objectively true that no standards exist?
It is objectively true that no standards exist.
And is it merely your opinion that I should not believe in morality because no objective standards exist, or is objectively true?
It is objectively true you should not believe in morality, because no objective standards exist.
And what criteria have you used to separate mere opinion from objective truth?
Reason.
So reason, then, is the objective standard by which you have determined that no objective standards exist?

Full article found here: http://www.lewrockwell.com/molyneux/molyneux34.html
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
CorruptComics at 4:25PM, March 7, 2007
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What created this morality?

Problem is morality can't really be subject to scientific measure.

Anything done that negatively affects another person is normally seen as immoral. However that goes against survival of the fittest. If a strong, health, person takes something from the weaker, that should be his “right” to survive. But as times passes we feel it is a moral duty to help those less fortunate.

So which is moral? The ultimate survival of the human race by giving the strongest the best there is? Or helping out the weak to survive?
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:46AM
reconjsh at 4:33PM, March 7, 2007
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You're arguement won't be won by proving one single situation has subjective morality… and your example doesn't really include any morality anyways because we can make have the weaker and the stronger survive… we don't need to choose between the two.

What I quoted below is an arguement that there IS universality. Do you agree or disagree with that arguement? If you agree, we can move on. If you disagree, then address universality first so we can move on.

This is the basis for my future points, so we need to overcome it first.

Example: I say honesty is universally moral (right and good). You say it's subjective. You have to prove it's subjective using a system of logic that is based on the assumption that logic is honest, that is to say, truthful. But if honesty isn't universally moral (right and good) in this situation, then you can't make an arguement in the first place that honesty is subjective. So you MUST assume it is universal in order to make your point that it is not. That's a loop that I'm afraid you cannot escape
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CorruptComics at 4:37PM, March 7, 2007
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I disagree.

Is it wrong for a man to steal a loaf of bread to feed his starving family?

(and don't say “no, unless he puts jelly on it”)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:46AM
CorruptComics at 4:39PM, March 7, 2007
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Also, I'm not going to stop arguing just because you present a scenario in which I CAN'T argue.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:46AM
reconjsh at 4:49PM, March 7, 2007
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Well, you're welcome to continue arguing I guess. But if I present a proof to a side of a debate and you can't provide a disproof, then the debate belongs to me.

As for the bread, I can think of a scenario or two in which that is okay, sure. But what's your point? That “not stealing” isn't a universal moral? Okay, I concede.

But that still doesn't address the subject of this thread: Does universal morality exist? I've shown a way in which it does.

The only way to to disprove that honesty is moral (right and just) is to use an arguement that will incorporate honesty.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
Radmetalmonk at 6:25AM, March 13, 2007
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Nah, it doesn't exist. There are people out there who go against popular morals (you know, like anti-rapist and such). There is a 2 sides to everything. The reason some morals may seem like “hey, who thinks rape is morally just? That's crazy!” is because in places like the USA, people with those kinds of thoughts are generally shunned out of popular society. And as we all know, people are very malleable towards what other people think is wrong and right. Just don't get majority and everyone confused. I'm sure you can find someone who honestly thinks rape is A-OK (IE, something like…“it's my god given right to spread my seed” or some kind of bullshit like that.)

I had to beat my 5 year old boy to within an inch of his life, or I was going to die
I want that on a T-shirt :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:59PM
kingofsnake at 1:17PM, March 13, 2007
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I love ethical discussions like this.

Most people forsake the importance of the notion of intentionality when presented with a moral quandry, like stealing the bread to feed his family. The intention is not to steal bread, the intention is to feed his family. If no other option is presented to feed his starving family than stealing the bread is the just choice. Unfortunately morality exists on such a case by case basis that one could never utter a univeral statement on what is and is not moral. One can't say “Killing is wrong” One has to addend it into “Killing for the sake of killing is wrong.” or “Murder is wrong” If one has to kill to protect the life of another, that is not morally wrong, because the intention is not to kill, it's to protect.

Unfortunately, this is a position that is often twisted by people in order to comprimise their morals. Convincing themselves that they need to do something immoral under just intentionality, when there are other options. It is often is a stepping stone for an “ends justifies the means” approach to morality, which bastardizes the whole concept.

The universal code of morality, as discussed by Immanuel Kant is that if it would not be ok for everyone in the world to do, it would not be ok for you to do. Would it be alright if everyone in the world could rape whoever they wanted? You could never present a solid argument to that effect. Therefore rape is immoral.

I do respect reconjsh's arguments although I do disagree with them. The “there is no universal statements is a univeral statement” argument is bound by the nature of language, not the nature of reality. I happen to agree with his position, just not the argument for it.

Honestly can situationly not be the most moral option. Telling someone they have an ugly baby, for instance. True that it might be, is not more moral than telling them that their ugly baby is not ugly. But as reconjsh stated this doesn't negate honesty as being moral, it simply factors in the intentionality of easing your friend's worry over their ugly baby.

I find, that more often than not, people who argue against universalities (especially wherin ethics are concerned) don't have a very strong background in philosophical thought.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:15PM
ccs1989 at 2:44PM, March 13, 2007
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Well obviously there's no set morality. What's moral and what's not differs between countries, time periods, and individuals. For example some people think the death penalty is immoral, and others think it isn't.

Of course for society to function people need to decide on things which become laws. A lot of things are considered immoral because they hinder the majority of individuals. This is why killing and stealing is against the law.
http://ccs1989.deviantart.com

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:38AM
vgman at 5:39AM, March 14, 2007
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well i think theres really no way it can. after all the concept of morality is baced on a majority of what humans perceave it to be today. and, as the human mind is constantly developing and changing so does the way it perceaves the world. think about it. wemon used to NEVER were jeens and NEVER EVER show there legs. during that time it was considerd imoraly wrong. but now today if someone tried to force thughs belifes on us we'd call them a moron and leave them. think about what life might be like in a couple hundred more years. there may not even be any morality at all. and in the end morality is just still a concept our minds have come up with. so theres no way a crime ad be moraly wrong or moraly right. in the end there is only a few deffinit truths, mathmatics, what exists, what dosent exist, time, and the enevitible end we all face.
RIP TD :cry2:
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kingofsnake at 7:58AM, March 14, 2007
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ccs1989
Well obviously there's no set morality. What's moral and what's not differs between countries, time periods, and individuals. For example some people think the death penalty is immoral, and others think it isn't.

Just because people disagree what is immoral and moral doesn't change whether or not it is immoral or moral. That would be like saying that this orange is purple, therefore it has no set color. You're operating under the assumption that the morality of an action is defined by the person who performs it. By your own arguments then the Holocaust wasn't immoral, because Hitler didn't think it was immoral. Moralities arent defined by society, they're defined by natural sense of right and wrong.

vgman
think about it. wemon used to NEVER were jeens and NEVER EVER show there legs. during that time it was considerd imoraly wrong. but now today if someone tried to force thughs belifes on us we'd call them a moron and leave them

Creative spelling aside, it was considered socially unacceptable. It was not considered immoral or unethical. Over in the middle east it IS considered immoral, but thats because their morals compass is tied more strongly to their religious beliefs than their natural thought process. Every individual person is going to have environmental influences that affect what they view as moral or immoral. But, that doesn't change the nature of the action, it only changes their individual ability to judge the nature of the action. Again, it would be as if I was colorblind, and could not see the color of an orange. It would not be correct to say “the orange has no color” in reality the orange DOES have a color, I just can not see it.

ian_feverdream
I don't want everyone in the world to kill, but I can think of times and places were it's appropriate.

Did you miss my diatribe on intentionality? Can you think of a situation wherein you belive killing to be the moral highground and the overall intention is not to protect life?
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ozoneocean at 8:43AM, March 14, 2007
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kingofsnake
Just because people disagree what is immoral and moral doesn't change whether or not it is immoral or moral. That would be like saying that this orange is purple, therefore it has no set color. You're operating under the assumption that the morality of an action is defined by the person who performs it. By your own arguments then the Holocaust wasn't immoral, because Hitler didn't think it was immoral. Moralities arent defined by society, they're defined by natural sense of right and wrong.
The Holocaust wasn't immoral to Hitler and the people that carried it out but it is to all of us, so I believe ccs1989 is right and so are you. Morality is subjective.
 
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kingofsnake at 8:57AM, March 14, 2007
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ozoneocean
The Holocaust wasn't immoral to Hitler and the people that carried it out but it is to all of us, so I believe ccs1989 is right and so are you. Morality is subjective.

kingofsnake
that doesn't change the nature of the action, it only changes their individual ability to judge the nature of the action. Again, it would be as if I was colorblind, and could not see the color of an orange. It would not be correct to say “the orange has no color” in reality the orange DOES have a color, I just can not see it.

How do you respond to this argument then? It would be true to say “to me it has no color, but to you it has the color orange” but you aren't talking about the orange, you're talking about the person's perception. I'm saying, lets talk about the orange. My inability to see the color of the orange does not alter the actual orange.
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ozoneocean at 9:23AM, March 14, 2007
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I feel you're getting too literal with your analogy; it's confusing, not enlightening- to me at least.

Forgetting oranges and purples or whatever you chose to call your hypothetical citrus (:)), how about we expand on the holocaust scenario? Because it's a big bad landmark that most people can agree on.

Ok, for some reason Hitler and a good proportion of his Nazi followers and sympathisers in other countries then as well as now don't (or didn't) find that disgusting atrocity to be an immoral act (or a series of immoral acts). And yet we do. The act is immoral to us… But that doesn't mean it's not immoral without us to call it immoral, because there is no real way we can perceive the world with this act in it without us.

…this is getting towards that “if a tree falls in a forest with no one around, does it make a sound?” arguments… :(
 
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kingofsnake at 9:36AM, March 14, 2007
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ozoneocean
I feel you're getting too literal with your analogy; it's confusing, not enlightening- to me at least.

Forgetting oranges and purples or whatever you chose to call your hypothetical citrus (:)), how about we expand on the holocaust scenario? Because it's a big bad landmark that most people can agree on.

Ok, for some reason Hitler and a good proportion of his Nazi followers and sympathisers in other countries then as well as now don't (or didn't) find that disgusting atrocity to be an immoral act (or a series of immoral acts). And yet we do. The act is immoral to us… But that doesn't mean it's not immoral without us to call it immoral, because there is no real way we can perceive the world with this act in it without us.

…this is getting towards that “if a tree falls in a forest with no one around, does it make a sound?” arguments… :(

Your argument is basically that, if there was no one around to say it was immoral, it wouldn't be immoral. Whereas my argument is that it would be immoral whether or not ANYONE thought it was immoral. The morality is not defined by the person who performs the action, or even the people who preceive the action being performed. The action itself is immoral or moral. The action of the halocaust was immoral. The judgment of the people performing that action suggested to them that it was not immoral. Their judgment was wrong.
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ozoneocean at 9:51AM, March 14, 2007
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No, my argument is that there can be no one around not to say the act was immoral. The act occurred and we perceive it as we do, we can't really conceive of a world where this act happened that we were not in a position to call it immoral because everything as we experience it or imagine it is seen from our own perspectives; the very nature of reality is subjective.
 
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kingofsnake at 9:53AM, March 14, 2007
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Can you rephrase that without the double negative? I'm not sure I'm picking up what your putting down. And I don't want to debate something if I don't understand what was said
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:15PM
ozoneocean at 10:34AM, March 14, 2007
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…This is like me with your colourblind oranges isn't it? :(

I'll have another go…
*Ok, we say that the holocaust as an immoral act, right? It was immoral.
*You describe my argument like this: “if there was no one around to say it was immoral, it wouldn't be immoral”.
*I say that is not my position and is in fact impossible.

This is why:
Fundamentally our reality depends on how we perceive the world around us and then how we conceive of it within our own minds. We are irrecoverably bound into these subjective cages… You can no more truly imagine that act not being immoral than you can change your genetic structure.

Twisty complicated bit:
Even if I concede that the act was not immoral to Hitler, I can't truly say that it would also not be immoral in of itself if I was not existing to say that it wasn't immoral because regardless of any hypothetical scenarios I can come up with I still know it to be immoral.

…The trouble is that my position isn't in opposition to your's Kingofsnake, it sort of goes off in a strange tangent from it, so it's difficult to really argue a point.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:26PM
ozoneocean at 10:56AM, March 14, 2007
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Let me have another go and try and clarify a bit more
I know morality must be subjective because it depends on the perception of acts by subjective beings.
But I myself can't judge weather an act really would run contrary to my moral judgement of it if I hadn't perceived it because I have perceived it.

But what about hypothetical acts? It's exactly the same case… I will make a moral judgement each time on a case by case basis.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:26PM
kingofsnake at 11:08AM, March 14, 2007
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ozoneocean
…This is like me with your colourblind oranges isn't it? :(

I'll have another go…
*Ok, we say that the holocaust as an immoral act, right? It was immoral.
*You describe my argument like this: “if there was no one around to say it was immoral, it wouldn't be immoral”.
*I say that is not my position and is in fact impossible.

This is why:
Fundamentally our reality depends on how we perceive the world around us and then how we conceive of it within our own minds. We are irrecoverably bound into these subjective cages… You can no more truly imagine that act not being immoral than you can change your genetic structure.

Twisty complicated bit:
Even if I concede that the act was not immoral to Hitler, I can't truly say that it would also not be immoral in of itself if I was not existing to say that it wasn't immoral because regardless of any hypothetical scenarios I can come up with I still know it to be immoral.

…The trouble is that my position isn't in opposition to your's Kingofsnake, it sort of goes off in a strange tangent from it, so it's difficult to really argue a point.

This is where we differ. Reality is reality. Our perception of reality doesn't actually change reality its just our preception.

You want to take up the position that morality is in the eye of the beholder, but at the same time you don't want to admit that, if that were the case the holocaust could be considered to be not immoral, as long as the beholder was deluded enough that it was not immoral in his preception of the act. Thats the problem with most “in the eye of the beholder” arguments. It takes properties away from reality and turns them into attributive properties from personal preception. And it takes away the notion that the person who is doing the preciving might very well be just flat out wrong.

While my personal life and experience and personality may alter how I view an act, that act is moral or immoral in of itself. I could just be wrong in my judgment of how moral it is. This is why arguments about the morality of specific situations occur. It's easy to say, “rape is immoral” but when you get into more ambiguous moral scenario's (like your on a bus full of people in the middle of wartime, theres a baby on the bus who's crying. if it doesn't stop you'll be found and all killed. do you kill the baby or allow the bus full of people to die) it's more difficult to figure out what the action with the greater morality would be (is it more moral to commit one immoral action, or have a greater immoral consequence through inaction,) because alot of one's decision is going to be based on his preception, it's such a fine line that it's impossible for me to say which one is the more moral, but one of them is more moral, even if I don't know which one it is.
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ozoneocean at 11:25AM, March 14, 2007
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But it's not as simple as being a case of “the eye of the beholder”, that's the trouble. Even your idea that “Reality is reality”, this is only because you perceive it to be so, but you can not perceive it any other way, so it must be so.

I said it better on my second go at clarification:
"I know morality must be subjective because it depends on the perception of acts by subjective beings.
But I myself can't judge weather an act really would run contrary to my moral judgement of it if I hadn't perceived it because I have perceived it.

But what about hypothetical acts? It's exactly the same case… I will make a moral judgement each time on a case by case basis."
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:26PM
kingofsnake at 11:52AM, March 14, 2007
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ozoneocean
"I know morality must be subjective because it depends on the perception of acts by subjective beings.

This is what I disagree with. Understanding of morality is altered by subjectivity but in of itself morality exists as a permanent property of any action.

You can't know that morality is subjective, because if it depends on the preception of subjective beings, then your theory must also depend on that same preception and therefore you could only say that “in my preception morality is subjective…etc” If this is the case, the you can't really say anything definate about anything without operating under the assumption that there is no way your preception of the theory of a subjective morality was also wrong. And if your preception is constant in this situation what is to prevent it from being constant in others? Is it really your preception, or is it something else now? Whereas if reality exists outside of preception, then preception will still have an affect on reality, but theres a stronger chance that one may simply be mistaken because of their preception. This is how someone can be convinced that an immoral action is, in fact, a moral action. Its not the morality of the action that is subjective, its that his preception alters his ability to properly judge that morality. morality is a constant.

preception is like a peice of smoked glass that you look at the world through. everything in the world is as it is, but depending on your peice of glass you're going to view it differently. it doesn't change the world, it only changes your veiw of the world.
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ozoneocean at 12:33PM, March 14, 2007
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You're still missing the point man. Completely. You're taking one point out of context and focusing on it, this is leading you astray.

I'll try to break it down…

This here:
"I know morality must be subjective because it depends on the perception of acts by subjective beings."

-That means I know something to be true intellectually.

But this:
"But I myself can't judge weather an act really would run contrary to my moral judgement of it if I hadn't perceived it because I have perceived it.“

-That means I'm bound by my perspective: no matter what I ”know", I see what I see and I don't see morality as being subjective. I can not.

As to the nature of reality and existence, I'd prefer to haul that back a bit. We've both started to embark on it somewhat but it's a much more complicated debate that goes a lot further than this simple one on the nature of morality and I'm not prepared to get into it.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:26PM
kingofsnake at 12:47PM, March 14, 2007
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Ok, I see what you're getting at now. We were arguing different points.

You're arguing about not being able to judge moral rightness of a situation without being subjective, because you can't judge a situation without your preception being a factor. You can't even hypothetically judge a situation with out preception being involved because in order for it to get to you to be judged it must first go through your preception.

I'm not disagreeing with that. I agree that our preception will always alter our ability to correctly measure the morality of an action. My argument was that an action has a definate morality regarless of how we preceive it, or mis-preceive it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:15PM
ccs1989 at 6:54PM, March 15, 2007
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kingofsnake
Moralities arent defined by society, they're defined by natural sense of right and wrong.

…Which is shaped by society.

People don't have a built in moral compass. Our morals change depending on the situation that we grow up in. That's why back in the 50's so many more people were racist. They didn't see that they were doing anything immoral. However now, fifty+ years later, we view this racism as immoral because our society has defined it as immoral.

Many creatures other than humans come to their conclusions through instinct. However human beings are more defined by our culture than by instinct. Therefore since morals are not based on instinct, they are cultural, and therefore subject to debate.

A counterpoint to this might be the whole question of killing, becaue I do believe that in this case instinct might trump culture. But if a person was desensitized to killing enough then they might grow not to mind it, showing nurture over nature again. However this might be classified as an altered state of consciousness brought on by continued trauma.

http://ccs1989.deviantart.com

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:38AM

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