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Ethics and Morality

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The all-encompassing question: What makes an action or decision moral/immoral? Are you a moral person, and why?

 

[hide=Here's what I conceive Ethics/Morality to be]Ethics - the study of the moral principles which we adhere to. The fundamental purpose of such is to allow communities and societies to grow and prosper, to maximize happiness and to minimize pain. It's not a fruitless concept, either - by a simple agreement to not commit homicide on the basis that we don't want to be killed either, our race can grow healthily without the myriad of problems that comes associated with homicide (retribution, vengeance, escalating tension, etc.)

 

Of course, there are other ways to define morality, as it has never been clearly defined at all. I find the most meaningful ones to be the most relevant, hence my definition of it.

 

I personally adopt many principles of consequentialism, as it's a practical means of measuring whether an action/decision has any implications on somebody else. Would you prefer a world with anthropomorphic morals, or one with none at all?[/hide]

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Moral/Immoral are kinda hard to define because they rely on what good/bad are viewed as, which are both subjective and impossible to define.

 

Eg: Most fanatical religious types (note fanatical, by no means do I mean all religious people) take various things from their holy books as 'immoral' and thus view their actions as moral when they do and picket funerals or hand out flyers that promote homophobia, racism, sexism etc. (Though of course one cannot judge a religion by these small fanatical groups seeing as they overlook many other things their books make immoral and ignore the overriding message of all religions of tolerance and acceptance as it is only their god(s) place to cast judgement.)

 

Eg2: Many murderers will see their actions as morally justified as they are killing 'bad' people or enacting revenge for a wrong doing.

 

Eg3: In a war, like WWI or Vietnam, both armies thinking they are fighting for what is morally right and that the others are wrong. But obviously both sides can't be morally right in what they fight for.


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Moral/Immoral are kinda hard to define because they rely on what good/bad are viewed as, which are both subjective and impossible to define.

<snip>

But obviously both sides can't be morally right in what they fight for.

Why not?


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Moral/Immoral are kinda hard to define because they rely on what good/bad are viewed as, which are both subjective and impossible to define.

<snip>

But obviously both sides can't be morally right in what they fight for.

Why not?

 

Because then there would be no need to fight over it and no justification to fight over it.

If you thought your view was morally right, but so was the enemies you would have no grounds to justify fighting them.


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But if morality is subjective (your words), why can't both sides feel that whatever cause they're fighting for is justified by their own respective sets of morals?

 

The only way your argument makes sense is if morality is objective, but you said completely the opposite, so it makes no sense at all.

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If morality is truly subjective, there might as well not be morality at all.


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They fight because it is subjective each side believes they are morally right and the other wrong.

If they all believed both sides were morally right they would not fight or if morality was objective there would be no need to fight as one side would be right by all measurable standards and no-one would support the wrong side.


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You're being too simplistic. Just because two sides believe that their own subjective morals justify each of their own reasons for fighting a war (for example), they may still be governed by objective morals which dictate how that war should be fought, and a third party might even use objective or subjective morality to judge the war itself to be unreasonable.

 

Morals are neither completely subjective, nor objective.

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It's true - we each hold different moral values, and different systems to judge whether an action is moral or not. The objective of this thread is to find the most meaningful, practical system that could be applied to every day life to maximize welfare.

 

An important part of doing so would be to clarify which systems we use - e.g. consequentialism, emotivism, divine command, etc.

 

Could any of them be deemed superior to the other?

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Well first off this whole debate spawned specifically from my point about morality in war, it was not a universal morality point I was talking narrowly to that context, but anyway to address the points raised more broadly:

 

I don't think there is anything such as an objective moral, because that would require everyone to agree to it being right and the sheer variety of human emotion, opinion etc kinda makes it fundamentally impossible to have an entirely objective moral to which everyone adheres/agrees. They are all subject to the individual views, or the governing/teaching body that operates upon them successfully (be that a religious group, a branch of the media, a political movement etc.)

 

Even at the top level of ones you may assume are objective (eg it is wrong to kill) you run into subjectivity issues.

Murderer's would not all adhere to it is wrong to kill.

Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide programs again complicate matters.

Death penalty.

Views of war.

Religious beliefs.

 

There's a whole list that makes 'it is wrong to kill' subjective to personal views on a whole host of issues and contexts.

Some people believe it is wrong to kill period.

Some believe it is wrong to kill, unless it is to kill a convicted murderer.

Some believe it is wrong to kill, unless it is the name of defending the nation in the army.

Some fanatical religious groups believe it is wrong to kill, unless someone goes against one of their religious edicts (eg them cases of middle eastern muslims where they happily kill their wives/daughters/sons in 'mercy killings' for various things that hit the news a few months back)

etc.

 

I certainly believe there are some more universal morals that the majority use in some form or other (eg it is wrong to kill), though they are still altered in specificities by subjective views so are not truly objective morals.


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It's true - we each hold different moral values, and different systems to judge whether an action is moral or not. The objective of this thread is to find the most meaningful, practical system that could be applied to every day life to maximize welfare.

 

An important part of doing so would be to clarify which systems we use - e.g. consequentialism, emotivism, divine command, etc.

 

Could any of them be deemed superior to the other?

 

Casuism.


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Okay, we need a specific few subjects to talk about:

 

Religious ideals

Marijuana consumption

Prostitution

Abortion

Polyamory

'Cheating'

 

etc.

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You mean talk about the ethics of each?

 

religious ideals - fine to have them and preach them, but not force them on others

marijuana - if you think it should be illegal then you had better also think fast food, alcohol, and cigarettes should be illegal too

prostitution - fine to dislike, but not to criminalize

abortion - can't talk about this in one sentence

polyamory - fine if you like it or don't, but it objectively should be legal

cheating - i don't really care, i probably wouldn't do it. don't know how i'd feel if my partner cheated on me.


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Pick one, and we'll talk. Alternatively, be content in the fact we've discussed all those--or at least most of them--on individual threads.

 

I think one of the more relevant ones would be religious ideals. Religious beliefs themselves have been discussed ad nauseam, but we haven't talked much about the ethics of religious ideals.

 

I find many Christian, and Islamic practices highly immoral. An example may be say... child indoctrination. Why must a religion be imposed on a child at such a young age? This applies just as much to religious moderates as religious fundamentalists.

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I find many Christian, and Islamic practices highly immoral. An example may be say... child indoctrination. Why must a religion be imposed on a child at such a young age? This applies just as much to religious moderates as religious fundamentalists.

Yeah! And why do we have parents forcing their kids to do homework! Reading and Math, ugh. And schools that force their students to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day! The nerve of some people!


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Is that an attempt at sarcasm? What is your point?

 

EDIT: Oh, and that analogy fails simply because homework is beneficial in that it helps students academically, whereas religious ideals being imposed on youngsters are generally more deleterious than helpful.

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Is that an attempt at sarcasm? What is your point?

 

EDIT: Oh, and that analogy fails simply because homework is beneficial in that it helps students academically, whereas religious ideals being imposed on youngsters are generally more deleterious than helpful.

No, you assume they're unhelpful. I assure you parents teaching religion to their children are quite sure it's helpful.


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It goes beyond teaching religious beliefs, which is the problem. Could you explain how it's supposedly helpful?

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It goes beyond teaching religious beliefs, which is the problem. Could you explain how it's supposedly helpful?

No, because you've repeatedly demonstrated you have no interest in approaching religion with any kind of objectivity, and as a result it would be a waste of my time.


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So you're basically going to refuse to justify your unfounded assertion, because you believe that I don't approach religion with any kind of objectivity? How ironic.

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So what do you think happens? Parents think "oh yeah, I know religion is terrible, I'm going to teach it to my kids to deliberately hurt them! Yeah!"

 

Once again; you have no interest in looking at the matter objectively; and are sorely lacking in common sense.


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That's completely irrelevant. Parents may think teaching their children that communism is a good thing, but that doesn't justify that it's indeed good (I can't think of any better analogy).

 

I understand that religious people have every intention of trying to help their children as much as possible, but the consequences of teaching their religious beliefs as objective truths are deleterious to their long-term well-being. In order to accept religious fundamentalism, one must reject anything that contradicts it - which includes science and critical thinking.

 

You're just pulling a cop-out after proclaiming that you have a point. If you don't want to have a discussion, then don't make these claims.

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But I thought you said it was just as bad to teach children moderate religious ideals as fundamentalist ones?

 

Do you understand the concept of opinion vs. fact? Your claim that "but the consequences of teaching their religious beliefs as objective truths are deleterious to their long-term well-being" -this is an opinion, not a fact.

 

It's also entirely possible for science and religion to co-exist - something you're conveniently ignoring because, as I said earlier, you have no interest in treating religion objectively.


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