[extropy-chat] Re: moral relativism

Giu1i0 Pri5c0 pgptag at gmail.com
Sun May 8 16:04:56 UTC 2005

Yes, you are right that almost whatever we do affects someone else in
some way. Let's see some extremes:
A) Killing someone has a very strong negative impact on the target, so
it is not a moral thing to do (barring exceptional circumstances of
Z) Choosing to wear grey instead of brown may be unpleasant to those
who do not like brown, but I think everyone will agree that wearing
grey instead of brown is not morally wrong.
An interesting middle ground is personal choices that, even if they do
not damage anyone, can offend those with specific worldview strongly
against that particular choice. Gay marriage is an example. No harm is
done to anyone is two adults of the same sex want to marry, yet the
very idea outrage some people.
But I think we fall in Z also in this case. As long as nobody forces
you to adopt a specific lifestyle, you should be tolerant because it
is not your business.

On 5/8/05, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:
> ben wrote:
> >
> > I'm just trying to understand things, same as everybody else.
> > Sometimes this means more muddle before things (hopefully) become
> > clearer.
> 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
> cooperative growth.
> 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.
> - Jef
> http://www.jefallbright.net

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