Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pedantic Asshats Who Piss People Off

So I am rather heavily involved in the total derailment of a thread over at Ed's, about gay marriage in MA. Early on there were some comments about the nature of morality and the next thing you know there are exponentially more comments discussing the nature of morality, than there are about gay marriage. I am going to write a more detailed post about morality a little later, but wanted to point out a couple of comments that were both unnecessary and blatantly wrong.

abb3w tries to tell us that morality is not about how people behave, when every definition of morality contradicts that assertion. There are definitions that transcend human behavior, but the claim that morality has nothing to do with human behavior is patently absurd. Even more absurd is the notion that because ethics covers very similar ground, this somehow precludes morality from the equation. Ironic, because ethics is the philosophical branch that basically discusses applied morality. That is a oversimplification, but basically accurate.

And then GD comes
to explain that us moral relativists are completely ignorant of morality theory. He explains that moral relativity is only defined as the prospect that the majority moral framework within a given culture is the correct one and that anyone within that culture who doesn't subscribe is wrong. His implication is that those who embrace moral relativism, are embracing the view that other moral frames are just as valid as ones own, in the context of their cultural paradigm. Now setting aside for a moment that this is only one accepted definition of moral relativism, it is also wrong.

In the context of a given culture and the generalized moral frame of that culture, moral relativism merely recognizes that different cultures have different generalized moral frames. It is value neutral in that it doesn't suggest we should or should not accept those other moral frames as legitimate or valid. It merely recognizes that there are no universal moral axioms and in this context, uses the fact that different cultures operate under different moral frames as evidence of this.

But that is not the whole of the concept of moral relativism. I have been using it just as validly, when I have been using it in the context of individual moral frames. I didn't always use the term to describe my position, that morality is not only relative to a given culture, but also to the individual. I didn't think that the term cultural relativism was the accurate term to use, until a friend suggested that I check out Sartre and his position on morality. He is generally considered a moral relativist and guess what? His position on morality is pretty much the same as mine. So from then on, I stopped referring to my position as relative morality and adopted the proper term.

Shorter DuWayne to pedantic asshats...

Fuck you morons.


Jason Thibeault said...

I wasn't involved in this originally, and haven't had time to read through the thread (bloody massive), but here's my position in a nutshell.

There is an objective good and an objective evil with respect to humanity, with respect to local society, and with respect to the individual, made up of what is objectively beneficial or detrimental to each's survival or general well-being. Each person assigns weights to each objective good and objective evil and prioritizes them.

Religion is a way of codifying what priorities should be assigned, not of codifying the morality itself, because our sense of morality comes not only from our desire to continue living, but also from what built-in loyalty we have to society as a whole or humankind in general. Racism is a reprioritization of a "local society", or race, over other races that make up humanity as a whole. Self-centered or sociopathic behaviour is a reprioritization of the self over the other two.

Religion postulates another entity that demands that we reprioritize it over all the actual entities that really exist.

Did anyone actually say any of this first? Every time I hypothesize about stuff like this, I get the feeling I'm biting off someone I just haven't read yet. You know, like every book has already been written, and all new books are just rewordings with different names.

DuWayne Brayton said...

I am working on the follow up now. Short version, I disagree...

CyberLizard said...

My short summary: I haven't got a fucking clue. This shit's too deep for me.

Ash: "Good, bad; I'm the guy with the gun."