[extropy-chat] Re: moral relativism
jef at jefallbright.net
Sun May 8 14:54:31 UTC 2005
> I'm just trying to understand things, same as everybody else.
> Sometimes this means more muddle before things (hopefully) become
Thank you ben, for helping to illuminate the difficulty with the way
these terms are applied. It appears muddled because these concepts of
absolute and relative are a poor match to human affairs which involve
subjective viewpoints and incomplete knowledge of the context. Seeing
the muddle is a step along the way to asking questions about what really
underlies our evaluation of "right" and "wrong" across a range of
situations and a range of moral agents from the simple to the more complex.
> I would doubt that Guilio (or anyone in their right mind) would say
> that people should do whatever they want. This is not what moral
> relativism is, although many people try to portray it as such.
Of course we would all agree that people can not always do whatever they
want. My question to Giulio was to try to clarify what he thinks is the
underlying principle. So far now, I think he has said that if a moral
decision does not involve another person, then one can do what one
wants, and if it does involve another person then ... what? He then
refers to depending on laws, which is another clue to the bigger
picture. Laws are part of a larger process involving multiple agents.
But do they represent a higher level of morality, since they encompass
more than the individual? Or might laws become dangerously out of touch
with the subjective issues of the individual?
By the way, I agree with Giulio that if there is no other moral agent
involved, one should do as one wants. I question however, whether there
is any clear dividing line between actions that do, and actions that do
not, affect others. Just about everything we do has indirect effects on
others, and I think it's most practical to look at these issues in terms
of expanding circles of context of awareness. Simply put: actions are
considered increasingly moral as they are seen to be effective over
increasing context of agents and their interactions.
From this basis we can then proceed to discover and develop principles
of effective interaction, essentially principles that tend to promote
This thinking has an inherent subjective component, but it is not relative.
This thinking is based on what (increasingly) objectively works, but it
is not absolute.
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