[extropy-chat] In defense of moral relativism

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 29 16:26:50 UTC 2005

--- "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <sentience at pobox.com> wrote:
> Giu1i0 Pri5c0 wrote:
> > 
> > Eliezer asks, "How do you rally people to fight for the idea that
> > nothing is worth fighting for?". But moral relativism does not say
> > that nothing is worth fighting for. It simply acknowledges that
> > "worth fighting for" is a value judgment which depends on many
> > factors and may vary according to circumstances. You still fight
> > for your ideas, but acknowledging that you are fighting for your
> > ideas and not for The
> > Truth. Then perhaps you can keep things in perspective and avoid
> > committing atrocities in defense of your ideas.

This doesn't seem to work, though. Who is it that has committed the
most atrocities? Those who developed and promote moral relativism. The
idea that any idea is as good as any other ideas means that all ideas
are worth zero. If there is no quantitative or qualitative means of
determining which is more objective, then there is no means of valuing
any particular idea.

When a person or group easily accepts this sort of thinking, they very
quickly learn to apply the same principle to people, that if one person
is as good as any other, then nobody is worth anything, and anyone can
be disposed of if the disposal achieves the ends that an individual or
group personally wants or needs. 

That post-modernists tend so much toward collectivism is a natural
consequence of this sort of thinking and explains why almost all modern
era genocides were launched by collectivist movements who couched their
actions as justified under the goals of their own group as inherently
good and not judged according to an objective truth.

> > 
> > This is, indeed, the main reason why I don't like the very concepts
> of
> > absolute truth, or objective morality: the "I Am The Champion Of
> The
> > Truth" stance leads to gassing people for thinking different.

On the contrary, the gassing instinct arises from those who presume to
define their own truth independent of outside objective reality,
rationalized by their own will to achieve their self-serving goals.

> That's a complete non-sequitur.  Morality exists within a human mind.
> Reality, as best we can figure out how it works, was around at least
> 13 billion years before ever humans showed on the scene. I'm not sure
> what "absolute truth" is but if you define it in such a way that it
> equates to "external reality" then I'm all for external reality.

Hear hear.

Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
                                      -William Pitt (1759-1806) 
Blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

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