[extropy-chat] Re: Moral Relativism

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Tue May 10 14:49:33 UTC 2005

John-C-Wright at sff.net wrote:

>Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to draw you attention to a peculiarity in
>this discussion. In answering the hypothetical about whether a stepfather should
>prevent his underage daughter from aborting her baby, notice not what the
>answers are, but notice the method of reasoning used. 

>The thing the two objectivist answers have in common is that they are weighing
>duties, not desires. Once they reach an answer in their moral calculation
>(either a good one or a bad one) the objectivists will hold that the stepfather
>ought to do what he ought BECAUSE it is his duty, regardless of whether it is
>his desire or not. The subjective component of decision, desire, falls out of
>the equation. 
Very interesting.  Until the very last sentence, I thought this was an 
argument for subjectivity at nested scales of context.

It seems that the difference between the two categories here is that 
those in the first category based their moral decision-making on 
subjective evaluation within their individual context, while those in 
the second category based their decision-making on subjective evaluation 
with the group context.  To put it another way, in the first case, they 
identified only with their own individual desires and intentions, while 
in the second case they identified with the group desires and 
intentions.  We could take this further and have them identify with all 
of humanity, and I suspect most of us would find that an even more moral 
position.  We could take it further...but I think my point is made.

In either case, the evaluation was subjective; as you pointed out, the 
Stoics and the Spartans each had their own codes of moral duty, and 
neither fit the definition of "objective" as meaning "apparent to all", 
or "based on factual measurement rather than interpretation."

- Jef

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