[ExI] The mosque at Ground Zero.

darren shawn greer dgreer_68 at hotmail.com
Sun Aug 15 18:00:04 UTC 2010

> in conclusion, there is no objective morality

. . . is a morally objective statement. Every conclusion that posits there absolutely "is" something or there absolutely "is not" something is in and of itself an absolutist position. That's why relativism is such a tough nut to crack: it relies on an objective perspective outside the system being judged to validate its observations. And the relative position beyond each relative assertion and waiting for its chance to respond is objectivism.

And so on.

It's a philosophical sink-hole. Not to mention a political mine-field, as objectivists (think Aristotle and slavery) usually end up making moral assertions that are repugnant to some, and relativists (think Machiavelli and drowning your enemies) usually (if inadvertently) undermine values that are important to most.

Wittengstein noticed this, and said that to discuss such things you need a language and frame of reference entirely beyond what human beings are capable of as subjective observers. Perhaps what we are capable of is agreeing on that which would be acceptable to the largest number of people as mutually beneficial "universal" morality: a kind of philosophical and moral utilitarianism.

Or we could step back a few years ( or a couple thousand of 'em) and adopt tribal territorial morality, which lets you do YOUR thing as long as it doesn't interfere substantially with MY thing. Either way, it would be better than what we have now, which is this constant back and forth between two dominant two world views and the conflict that always results when you try to impose your preference -- relativist or objectivist -- on others.

A mish-mash of relative and objective opinion, I realize. But hey, I've given up trying to eat the meat of this particular chestnut.


"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation."

-Herbert Spencer

> From: jonkc at bellsouth.net
> Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2010 10:15:51 -0400
> To: extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> Subject: Re: [ExI] The mosque at Ground Zero.
> On Aug 14, 2010, at 2:12 PM, Jebadiah Moore wrote:
> There is a form of relativism that doesn't posit that relativism itself
> is objectively good,
> Then forget about good or bad, is relativism objectively true?
> only that objectivity doesn't exist.
> But is what you just said really true, objectively? If we can't talk
> about good or evil or truth or falsehood then that would rather
> seriously limit the scope of philosophy and we'd only have the
> contemptible "the story of Adam and Eve and the talking snake is true
> for me" or "it's true for me that 2+2=5". Jebadiah, do you really think
> that is the proper way to figure out how the world works?
> By the way, does subjectivity exist, does existence exist?
> Similarly, "good" and "bad" are super-generalized terms of value, with
> "good" and "bad" usually being relative to some value of "normal" and
> with "better" and "worse" being used comparatively. [...]
> Yes but you almost make it sound like super-generalized concepts are a
> bad idea.
> Value is judged according to some standard; there isn't a universal
> standard of value, obviously, because different entities have different
> values due to their different goals, positions, and domains of
> interaction.
> If a Muslim says "I think it was a good thing that a religious zealot
> through concentrated sulfuric acid into the face of a young schoolgirl
> for the crime of wanting an education" then I have learned something
> new, namely the persons standards are OBJECTIVELY incompatible with my
> own standards. We would disagree about who is right and who is wrong
> but we would both agree that are views are not in harmonious agreement.
> You can decide for yourself if your views are more similar to the
> Muslim's or to mine.

> Absolutely true, but there is something far more important, subjective
> morality. I prefer to associate with people who's subjective morality
> is closer to mine than the acid thrower.
> John K Clark
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