History Community ~ All Empires Homepage


This is the Archive on WORLD Historia, the old original forum.

 You cannot post here - you can only read.

 

Here is the link to the new forum:

  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Forum LockedAre ethics relative?

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <12
Author
hugoestr View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 13-Aug-2004
Status: Offline
Points: 4003
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2005 at 11:17
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:

You see, there are many ways of making a criteria for ethics.



Which makes them subjective.

Quote However, you said that morals are relative. Since morals are relative, most of us can ignore your pleas to keep your own money and not compell you to cooperate in our society.



No, you are missing the point. The criteria is a common standard that people can agree with. That makes them objective; or more objective in some cases.

Back to the cheese example, our criterion could be if cheese makes you sick. You said that it makes you sick. If we find evidence that you are sick when you eat it, and it is similar to that of other people, then we can agree that cheese is not good for everyone, or that it is not good for people who react the same way you do.

This means that "cheese is good" is can be proven right or wrong depending on our criterion.



You're confusing relative and subjective again.


It is possible for someone to hold the subjective view that their morality is absolute, not relative.


Even if your argument about the evolutionary value of ethics is true (it has some strength) the evolutionary environment changes. So what has evolutionary value in one environment may not in another. Evolutionary-based ethics are therefore relative to the environmental situation.


Moreover, it's a matter of choice whether anyone agrees with you, so the view is subjective anyway, even if it appeals to an apparently objective criterion. (It's only apparent because people will probably disagree on what the most effective ethical system would be in a given situation.)

[/QUOTE]

gcle,

You are falling into the liar's paradox too, although you are not quite there yet. There is a hint that people agreeing with my point of view doesn't matter because they are all, including my view, a subjective matter. However, since your point of view is also subjective, by definition, this means that your statement is also flawed too.

Of course, you are only doing this if you actually meant that "hint." On the other hand, if you didn't, you argument seems to be stating the obvious, isn't? In anycase, I apologize in advance if you didn't mean this.


The problem is when you guys try to argue for relativity--or subjectivity, which for this discussion amounts to the same thing since it arrives to the same conclusion--is that you are making it a statement that this is the absolute, objective truth; hence the contradiction.

My position on this issue is again similar to Maju's: every thing hints to the existence of an absolute reality, but we will never reach total certainty of it. However, we can strive to get as close at it as possible.

About my evolutionary argument
If you read again my posts, you will see that I keep my scope very wide when stating that there are universal ethical principles[correctly spelled!].

As you correctly pointed out, when the environment changes, so does the specific instances of ethical rules. This however, doesn't mean that the principals where they spring forth are invalidated. Only the specific instances are proven to be temporal.

This means that we can examine ethical rules and find them invalid, but as we do this, we are still using the universal principles.
To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.


Back to Top
hugoestr View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 13-Aug-2004
Status: Offline
Points: 4003
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hugoestr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Aug-2005 at 11:37
gcle,

It just occurred to me that we are not speaking about the same thing.

When I use the world "principles" I mean it as a guideline. My two big examples are "killing is wrong" and "respect for individuals."

From what I understand, these are pretty universal principles. You will find versions of these two in about every culture, although there will be a variation on how strong each of them are.

My argument is that these principles exist.

When I was reading over some of your posts, I got the impression that you were talking about specific rules that come from those principles.

Let's use as an example rules against male homosexuality. These are pretty common, but are not universal. For some reason societies decided to turn this into a "moral" wrong. I guess it may have something to do with homosexual men not reproducing and with this reducing the survival chances of the family and ethinic group.

In modern western societies, many re-examined this rule, and found that homosexuals don't hurt anyone, it hurts the individuals, and it violates the principle of respect for individuals. This rule is invalidated then.

Another example would be alcohol consumption. Many groups have rules against it. Even though we are used to hear arguments about how alcohol hurt the person, the rule is there to protect society. An alcohol addict is not only a burden to society himself, but strains it also by the group having to take care of his or her family.

When we examine this, we discover that drinking alcohol in itself is ethically neutral; it is the addiction to it which is a problem because it is causing pain to other people. So the absolute prohibition against alcohol is also invalidated.

Is this what you have in mind? If so, our arguments complement each other. We are not really in disagreement.
To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.


Back to Top
Truthisnotrelitive View Drop Down
Housecarl
Housecarl
Avatar

Joined: 13-Oct-2008
Status: Offline
Points: 32
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Truthisnotrelitive Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jan-2009 at 05:15
Cezar made this coment to me in th Q and A section and i want to discuss it in a new thread
 
origanally posted by Cezar
It is unfair to judge the acts of people from the past by our current standards.
 
i don't know what to say in response. this is actually a really big question, for it demeans the fact that our standards are derived from the acts of past peoples.


Edited by Truthisnotrelitive - 16-Jan-2009 at 05:16
a man sees as he wishes
Back to Top
es_bih View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar
Beglerbeg

Joined: 20-Dec-2006
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 3426
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jan-2009 at 04:34
Topic "History of Ethics" merged.

Edited by es_bih - 19-Jan-2009 at 04:38

Back to Top
edgewaters View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 13-Mar-2006
Location: Canada
Status: Offline
Points: 2396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2009 at 04:49

Originally posted by hugoestr hugoestr wrote:

The inconsistency is the following: he is using reasoning to prove that his opinion is right. Yet his own premise says that logical reasoning is incapable to prove or disprove opinions. This is contradictory: either he can use reason to prove his opinion right, or he is incorrect by the fact that he has an opinion.

He's not saying that moral relativity is an opinion. He's saying it's a fact.

He is not denying universal truth, only denying that ethics are universal truths. It is a self-consistent statement.



Edited by edgewaters - 23-Jan-2009 at 05:36
Back to Top
edgewaters View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 13-Mar-2006
Location: Canada
Status: Offline
Points: 2396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2009 at 05:33
Originally posted by Truthisnotrelitive Truthisnotrelitive wrote:

Cezar made this coment to me in th Q and A section and i want to discuss it in a new thread
 
origanally posted by Cezar
It is unfair to judge the acts of people from the past by our current standards.
 
i don't know what to say in response. this is actually a really big question, for it demeans the fact that our standards are derived from the acts of past peoples.

Apart from what you mention, and separate from the issue of relativity, this makes the arrogant presumption that people of the past were ethically inferior, so we should "go easy" on them.

Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Status: Offline
Points: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2009 at 16:13
I'm not sure which statement you find demeaning...Cezar's that it is unfair to judge the acts of people from the past by our current standards, or Truth's[1] that our standards are derived from the acts of past peoples.
 
[1] May I call you Truth for short?
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
edgewaters View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 13-Mar-2006
Location: Canada
Status: Offline
Points: 2396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2009 at 16:17
Cezar's is the argument that presumes people of the past were ethically primitive.

For instance, I've heard this argument used in reference to the displacement of aboriginal and native groups. The colonizers didn't understand what they were doing was wrong, basically. I feel this is incorrect ... because there was criticism practically from the beginning (eg Bartolomé de las Casas).

Like us, they possessed a high degree of ethical understanding of right and wrong, but also like us, they found ways to rationalize what they did. We're don't behave much better than people of the past - the last century has been full of blood and horror.


Edited by edgewaters - 23-Jan-2009 at 16:25
Back to Top
es_bih View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar
Beglerbeg

Joined: 20-Dec-2006
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 3426
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2009 at 16:49
I think what Cezar meant is that we should not judge individuals through our own modern notions on ethical behavior. We had this issue here before where some members a number of posts that  had an immensely judgmental tone against Basil II. The accusation was that he was "evil" due to blinding numerous captured soldiers. Not that I want that issue brought up again, but the basic parameters are there.

An individual may have done wrong, but if that act is removed by a millennia - and a multitude of different expectations, then calling that action evil is rather the extreme end of the argument.

As far as colonizers, I am sure some of them were aware of what was wrong, and no reason to justify their behaviour in our modern concept of ethics. However, we can discuss the negativity of the matter without bringing our own concept of what is right to the discussion. A discourse about the negative nature of an action done five hundred years ago can be made without transporting our moral code with us as well to that point.

For a large part of Roman history the father had the authority of ceasing the life of a dependent upon his own deductions. Now that was not necessarily practiced on a daily basis, but it was understood to be lawful. Now if we study a case of this today we shall of course announce it evil. For us it is afterall. However, to cast that judgement on the individual comitting that murder within a legal or moral framework in the past and calling that action immoral (because it is to us) is not the right approach to critiquing actions done in the past.

There are universal concepts of ethics, too. For instance in the Christian context as an example Basil's actions may be deemed extreme and sinful no matter if the person is in 1000AD or in 2000AD, but still there surely some differences in interpretation that will abound.



Back to Top
edgewaters View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 13-Mar-2006
Location: Canada
Status: Offline
Points: 2396
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2009 at 18:01
Originally posted by es_bih es_bih wrote:

I think what Cezar meant is that we should not judge individuals through our own modern notions on ethical behavior. We had this issue here before where some members a number of posts that  had an immensely judgmental tone against Basil II. The accusation was that he was "evil" due to blinding numerous captured soldiers. Not that I want that issue brought up again, but the basic parameters are there.

An individual may have done wrong, but if that act is removed by a millennia - and a multitude of different expectations, then calling that action evil is rather the extreme end of the argument.


Presuming that different expectations existed (which I don't agree with - different taboos, exceptions and justifications perhaps, but the fundamentals haven't changed much) . . . we can still judge whether an action is right or wrong, whether or not we can fault the actor.

Quote There are universal concepts of ethics, too.


Absolutely, that's what is taught to children. Don't injure the other kids, don't be insulting, try to be fair, don't steal, etc. What's not universal is exceptions to those rules. There are always circumstances that warrant exceptions, but there is no agreement on what those circumstances are.

Universal ethics, though, are not necessarily absolute truths. A universal belief is not necessarily true or absolute.


Edited by edgewaters - 23-Jan-2009 at 18:03
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Status: Offline
Points: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jan-2009 at 14:25
Originally posted by edgewaters edgewaters wrote:

 we can still judge whether an action is right or wrong, whether or not we can fault the actor.
Well, that's the point, isn't it? I'm sure Cezar meant unfair to judge the actor by 'our' standards (yours and mine may incidentally differ). 'Fairness' and 'unfairness' only arise if you are talking about how you treat or view people.
 
In any case anyway, saing we should not judge ancient people by our standards is a two-way thing - it doesn't necessarily imply ancient people's standards were worse than ours. It is just as unfair to praise people unduly as it is to criticise them unduly.
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
Cezar View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar

Joined: 09-Nov-2005
Location: Romania
Status: Offline
Points: 1211
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cezar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jan-2009 at 08:01

Did anyone bother to see the thread where I've made that statement? It's in the Q&A section and it's about saying that Vlad Tepes was psychopathic. Not about ethics. The standard punishments of all cultures in the 15'th century were cruel when judged by our current values regarding cruelty. A peasant could be hanged by his landlord for not paying his taxes, for example. Should I do the same with our taxpayers? Why truthisnorelitive thought that my comment was about ethics I don't know. It was not.

But since this discussion got restarted I think I could rephrase it like this: A fair approach when making considerations about the behaviour of people from the past should be made by not using only our current standards.
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <12
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.10
Copyright ©2001-2017 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.078 seconds.