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Thread: Morality

  1. #1
    Senior Member animenagai's Avatar
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    Default Morality

    i have a problem with people who think a) that there is no morality or b) morality is useless. it's not that i have anything personal against their character or anything, i just think it's a bit ignorant. for starters,egocentricism ie. doing everything for your own personal gain, is an accepted moral reason. even if you take that road, there are some things that people do morally despite claiming that morality is an illusion. i remember this business ethics classmate i had and she said something like "morality doesn't feed your kids does it?". what she missed was that wanting to feed rselfyour kids is a moral act from the start. we all do it, like it or not. from here, i would like to discuss the main moral systems and see what people identify with.

    1. egocentricism:

    as previously mentioned, it's doing everything with the goal of personal gain. make no mistake though, it's not that this person is necessarily a jackass. they could still help people out or whatever, they just think that people confuse helping yourself in the long run with a more romantic moral theory.

    2. duty ethics

    kantian duty ethics (ie. created by Kant) believes that all that you do should done in accordance to and because of duty. say two people gives a homeless man a dollar. the first man did it because he wanted to look charitable in front of his lady friend. the second guy did it because he believes it's the right thing to do and that he has a moral obligation. one thing that this theory does pick up on is the importance of intent. there's something important in that.

    3. utilitarianism

    probably the wonder boy of moral theories. it's the most popular amongst philosophers. there is only one mandate in utilitarianism: to do whatever maximizes happiness and reduces pain. before anyone pounces prematurely, the happiness of all that could possibly be affected is calculated and not just the happiness of yourself. furthermore, happiness isn't just simple stuff like eating cake and having sex (as good as that is). there's long term happiness in things such as learning and building friendships. if you go through life thinking 'what what benefit the most people?', you are utilitarian.

    4. virtue ethics.

    this could be a bit harder to explain, but basically, there are certain 'virtues' that have an innate good of themselves. it is beyond instrumental value. these include things such as love, courage, honesty etc. at first, i thought this theory is a bit shallow, but it has really grown on me. we do say things such as "i don't like him, he's dishonest", or "he needs more love in his heart" without being too metaphorical.

    5. human rights

    ah... human rights. definitely a popular theory amongst the general public. in fact, people take it as fact. human rights says that every person has these inalienable rights within them. these rights are intrinsically good, much like virtue ethics. however, the difference is that with virtue ethics, it's something for one to attain. in human rights theory, it is something within us that people should not cross or take away. personally, i think this theory is WAY too popular without too much justification.

    6. contractarianism/social contract theory

    morals are a an artificial construct in contractarianism. the only moral wrong in social contract theory is not obeying a covenant. what is a covenant? if me and john have agreed upon a deal and john has fulfilled his end of the bargain, i am under a covenant to do whatever we have agreed upon. the difference between a covenant and a deal is that john really had no moral obligation to do anything if i haven't acted in accordance with our deal yet. something like justice could be a good example of a social contract functioning. we have all agreed that we should not murder because we want society to be without unnecessary fear. you have broken the rules, therefore we punish you.

    7. divine command theory

    do what god says.

    *8. ethical relativism

    i *ed this one, because it's known to be shit. sadly enough though, many people think it's justified. what ethical relativism preaches is simply "i'll live under my rules and you'll live under yours". it's the "let's just get along" theory. this theory looks good but falls apart as soon as someone starts doing something like killing every child they see on wednesdays. you live with your rules and they live with theirs right? well, his moral system can be 'i must kill kids every wednesday', yet i think we'll be very slow to accept a belief system like that.

    these are pretty much all the popular moral theories. i'm not gonna force any theory on anyone, but i do want to discuss. enough of this amateur 'does god exist exist' philosophy, there's more to philosophy than religious discussion. let's give it a go.

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    mrs disregard's Avatar
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    Virtue ethics appeal to me. Although, I don't know much about it.. Nice thread.

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    señor member colmena's Avatar
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    I guess I am utilitarian.

    I tend to try to find evidence of cultures having the best ingrained virtuous mean and then wish it upon everyone.

    Although I'd rather they got there somewhat autonomously with free thought. This way is better for understanding. Just being told that something is right or wrong isn't enough.
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    Senior Member animenagai's Avatar
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    argh, i spent so much time writing this up, something different from the standard evolution vs creationism theology camp and 2 people have responded?

    colemna, that free thought bit is precisely why i do ethics. i absolutely love it. i think a lot of people try to be moral, heck as an NF, it's something i hold above a lot of other things.my rule of thumbs is always 'if you cannot justify it, it is not justified'. identifying what morality is is a big journey for me in personal growth. i think this should ring true for more than just me.

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    Arcesso pulli gingerios! Eldanen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by animenagai View Post
    *8. ethical relativism

    i *ed this one, because it's known to be shit. sadly enough though, many people think it's justified. what ethical relativism preaches is simply "i'll live under my rules and you'll live under yours". it's the "let's just get along" theory. this theory looks good but falls apart as soon as someone starts doing something like killing every child they see on wednesdays. you live with your rules and they live with theirs right? well, his moral system can be 'i must kill kids every wednesday', yet i think we'll be very slow to accept a belief system like that.
    Eh? I guess I'd say I'm an ethical relativist. I don't really believe in "rules." It's a pain/pleasure thing. People like whatever makes them feel good. If someone comes along and starts killing babies on Wednesdays, we don't do it because of any kind of rule or principle, we do it because it makes us feel displeasure at the event. The abstraction of "here's a rule" is just a way of saying, "Bleh, that makes me feel hate! I need to do something about it and stop it." Ethical relativism isn't the "let's just get along" theory, it's more the, "there aren't any rules outside of those which we define and perceive for ourselves." Sorry, I don't agree with your "it's known to be shit" argument. And then you turn around and use a baby-killing example, which is basically just appealing to a common emotion that humans have when they see something young and innocent. Which proves the point I just stated above. And by the way, I'm not a baby-killing advocate :p.

    All-in-all, society can, should, and does get rid of those that piss them off, for the betterment of the species as a group. It's an evolutionary process, I believe.

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    Senior Member animenagai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldanen View Post
    Eh? I guess I'd say I'm an ethical relativist. I don't really believe in "rules." It's a pain/pleasure thing. People like whatever makes them feel good. If someone comes along and starts killing babies on Wednesdays, we don't do it because of any kind of rule or principle, we do it because it makes us feel displeasure at the event. The abstraction of "here's a rule" is just a way of saying, "Bleh, that makes me feel hate! I need to do something about it and stop it." Ethical relativism isn't the "let's just get along" theory, it's more the, "there aren't any rules outside of those which we define and perceive for ourselves." Sorry, I don't agree with your "it's known to be shit" argument. And then you turn around and use a baby-killing example, which is basically just appealing to a common emotion that humans have when they see something young and innocent. Which proves the point I just stated above. And by the way, I'm not a baby-killing advocate :p.

    All-in-all, society can, should, and does get rid of those that piss them off, for the betterment of the species as a group. It's an evolutionary process, I believe.
    i think what you called ethical relativism is basically egocentricism. i did this because it made me feel good.

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    Arcesso pulli gingerios! Eldanen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by animenagai View Post
    i think what you called ethical relativism is basically egocentricism. i did this because it made me feel good.
    If what I called ethical relativism is egocentricism, I don't think I really get what you call egocentricism.

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    Arcesso pulli gingerios! Eldanen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by animenagai View Post
    i think what you called ethical relativism is basically egocentricism. i did this because it made me feel good.
    Actually, I think that the two might be somewhat intertwined. You can use the pain/pleasure dichotomy to demonstrate why ethics might be relative, instead of it being an end in itself.

  9. #9

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    I think all of them (yes. even egocentricism) has a kenrel of truth when it comes to morality.

    I wish I could explain my code clearly, but it is rather hard.

    I believe there is universal right and wrong, but, like truth, it is intricate, and not always what is most obvious.

    I can't say I always follow my own code.

    The basic question to ask is "what gets served?"

    In this sense, perhaps I am mostly a utilitarian.

    But there is a basic problem however. Good intentions do not always yeild the best action in terms of utilitarianism, but I think good intentions are important.

    Another problem with utilitarianism, is that it can excuse imoral actions that have a chance of hurting people but do not under most circumstances. But in the other-hand, not taking any riks what so ever is an unacceptable position.

    Unfortunately, I am not very articulate in this particular arena.

    The best I can say is I know "right" and "wrong" when I see it. It is not always easy however, to do the right thing.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    Senior Member animenagai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldanen View Post
    Actually, I think that the two might be somewhat intertwined. You can use the pain/pleasure dichotomy to demonstrate why ethics might be relative, instead of it being an end in itself.
    i think the motivation between ethical relativism and egocentricism is different though. let's make something clear, i'm not saying that the egocentric ethic is undesirable. the point isn't that the guy's a jackass, but that people do good things (and some say should do good things) for their own gain. if you think you are acting morally, there is something that makes that act moral. if your reasoning is that it makes you feel good and nothing else (you coulda said it makes you feel good because it maximises happiness or whatever), then you are very much egocentric and that's not an evil position to take.

    keep in mind that just because you're not a moral relativist, that doesn't mean you're gonna tell people that what they're doing is wrong just because they don't match your beliefs exactly. a virtue ethicist can refrain from doing so to harness their patience. a utilitarian may not want to cause unnecessary conflict and disrupt the overall happiness of society. ethical relativists don't bump into trouble if say, i go to church and you don't. where they go wrong is accepting that an infinite number of theories could be true when they really contradict each other. to me, you can't be both a contractarian and a human rights theorist because one says that virtues have no intrinsic value and only instrumental when the other says that there is intrinsic value and that's all that matters.

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