How do you define "moral" behavior?
Behaving in ways that lead to a flourishing life in accordance with human nature
19.2% (32)
19.2% (32)
Behaving in ways that help others and not yourself
12% (20)
12% (20)
Behaving in ways that help yourself without harming others
18% (30)
18% (30)
Behaving in ways that help yourself regardless of whether it harms others
1.2% (2)
1.2% (2)
Behaving in ways I approve of
12.6% (21)
12.6% (21)
Behaving in ways approved by God
3.6% (6)
3.6% (6)
Behaving in ways approved by society
14.4% (24)
14.4% (24)
The word "moral" is meaningless
18.6% (31)
18.6% (31)
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Poll: A Philosophy Poll

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How do you define "moral" behavior?

Your name showed up in brown/gold. Never seen that before. Gold member? Publisher and editorial director of the Escapist? CEO? President? Sounds epic.

Well, moral behavior in general is 'helpful' behavior, opposite of immoral behavior: threatening behavior. Basic evolutionary instincts. So roughly what you state in the poll, 'behaving in ways approved by society'. And society approves 'helpful' behavior.

I can't think of a single 'moral' action that would harm society (on both short and long term).

Thanks for responding to my poll.

The other gold names don't necessarily like to talk Religion & Politics, I guess!

I went with behaving in ways I approve of, but that sounds a bit dickish so I feel I should explain that what I mean is just that none of the others really feel like how I see morality.

Also, Mr. In Charge Man's avatar is The Dark Lord of Mordor. Hmm, perhaps the Escapist is not as benevolent as we thought.

That was a joke

Archon:
Thanks for responding to my poll.

The other gold names don't necessarily like to talk Religion & Politics, I guess!

There is a reason for that.

I've chosen the society-option because morality is intersubjective in nature.
My vote does not mean that I personally think that whatever a society decides is moral is automatically moral by my standards. But it means that this is how what is moral to them is acquired by people.
In general terms and with a couple of exceptions, what my society deems moral, is what I deem moral, because I was raised with particular values that I hold dear and some moralities are more proficient at achieving or upholding those values than others.
But there are plenty of societies whose moral codes I deem immoral based on my own standards. I realize that there is no objective standard but that doesn't mean we can't judge different moralities based on our own standards after all or on the empirical effects that particular systems of morality and policies have.
If, for instance, you value individual freedom, then secular Enlightenment values which allow for pluralism are the way to go. But if you value adherence to a particular religious dogma, clearly that would be immoral and a tyrannical theocratical system would be more moral as it would ensure those specific morals would be adhered to, not others. It always depends on the values and desired goals.

Standard, acceptable behaviour: Behaving in ways that help yourself without harming others.
Positive behaviour, should not be expected, but should be acknowledged: Behaving in ways that lead to a flourishing life in accordance with human nature.
Negative behaviour, can be punishable: Behaving in ways that help yourself regardless of whether it harms others.

The rest of the options are relatively meaningless to me, most actions under them can fall within these 3 as well.

Sorry I cannot answer the poll, the first 2 options should show why. If by moral you mean actively being good, then first/second option.

Skeleon:

If, for instance, you value individual freedom, then secular Enlightenment values are the way to go. But if you value adherence to particular religious dogma, clearly that would be immoral and a tyrannical theocratical system would be more moral. It always depends on the values and desired goals.

LOL, I love that little jab there :D

Brandon237:
LOL, I love that little jab there :D

I clarified it somewhat, but even so, yeah, I can't deny there's a bit of "jabbiness" in there. ^^
That said, the statement was honestly primarily meant to be about pluralism versus installing a particular doctrine, not about non-religious versus religious. Remember that secular =/= non-religious. Hell, some of the most oustpoken secularists were and are religious themselves.

Behaving in ways that lead to a flourishing life in accordance with human nature

Maybe it's just me, but as long as i enjoy my life, and i "do no harm" then that is a moral life. Obviously within reason, but as long as i am fulfilled and not hurting anyone else, i guess is what i mean.

I voted for "The word 'moral' is meaningless". And as nihilistic as that sounds, I actually don't believe in an immoral or a-moral reality, I just believe that morality is personally subjective and essentially a blanket term for a lot of concepts that aren't necessarily similar.

It was tempting to say that morality is behaving in a way approved by society, but I felt that was inaccurate considering that many societies coexist at the same time with very different moral structures. Saying that morality is behaving in a way approved by the society you exist in ignores the alternate moral opinions of societies independent from your own. And it also undervalues the subject of personal moral codes. Plenty of people demand of themselves a different structure of morality than what is approved of or provided by the society they exist in. For example, there's plenty of people who believe its wrong to consume meat. Society has never suggested that meat consumption is bad, its a moral sticking point they develop and maintain independent of societal pressures. In a more extreme example, there's also plenty of psychotic people who kill off hookers because they think its morally appropriate. That's another moral sticking point that develops seperetely from the base-line demands of societal morality.

If these two very different moral standpoints ("Don't kill animals, its bad." "Kill hookers all the time, they're bad") can exist seperetely from each other and both still be considered moral behavior by the people who adopt these habits, it suggests there isn't any such thing as objective morality. And if two societies can exist independent of each other and both have a population that values radically different ideals and demands different codes of conduct but nonetheless is viewed as moral by their adherents, it suggests there isn't any such thing as objective morality. And if an individual can develop isolated moral criteria independent of whats expected by the society he participates in, that can't be objectively proven superior inferior or extraneous, it suggests there isn't any such thing as objective morality. And if there's no objective morality, all we have is subjective morality. Which is like saying morality is whatever you make of it.

With that in mind, "The word 'moral' is meaningless" seemed most appropriate.

DJjaffacake:
Also, Mr. In Charge Man's avatar is The Dark Lord of Mordor. Hmm, perhaps the Escapist is not as benevolent as we thought.

That was a joke

What? I'm shocked and appalled. That's not the eye of Sauron. It's a photo of a decoration I saw in the Cheesecake Factory.

http://totallylookslike.icanhascheezburger.com/2009/07/13/cheesecake-factory-decor-totally-looks-like-the-eye-of-sauron/?from=recMap2

I'm the dark lord of the cheesecake.

Are we talking morals of duty, or morals of aspiration?

Morals of duty would be option 3, to refrain from harming others who aren't threatening or harming you. Falling short of it is evil and warrants condemnation (and often criminalization).

Morals of aspiration would be option 1, equally for yourself and others. Aspiring to them is good, but falling short of doing so isn't evil. Which mean praise for success, but not condemnation for failure.

Considering that every man ultimately choose his own beliefs every day, I guess the answer would ultimately be option 5 though. Unless you believe man is nothing but a deterministic product of nature/nurture, in which case option 7.

I chose option 1. I think morality is difficult to really pin down as it suggests we make some absolutist judgements about "good" or "bad" behaviour, and the only way I could really quantify that is by relating actions to how likely they are to improve or worsen life for the people involved.

I went with behaving in ways I approve of. Whether I'm correct or not is a separate question in my mind.

Archon:

DJjaffacake:
Also, Mr. In Charge Man's avatar is The Dark Lord of Mordor. Hmm, perhaps the Escapist is not as benevolent as we thought.

That was a joke

What? I'm shocked and appalled. That's not the eye of Sauron. It's a photo of a decoration I saw in the Cheesecake Factory.

http://totallylookslike.icanhascheezburger.com/2009/07/13/cheesecake-factory-decor-totally-looks-like-the-eye-of-sauron/?from=recMap2

I'm the dark lord of the cheesecake.

image
I just had an idea.


Dammit internet, why didn't you have one that matched perfectly?

Brandon237:
Standard, acceptable behaviour: Behaving in ways that help yourself without harming others.
Positive behaviour, should not be expected, but should be acknowledged: Behaving in ways that lead to a flourishing life in accordance with human nature.
Negative behaviour, can be punishable: Behaving in ways that help yourself regardless of whether it harms others.

Why is 'behaving in ways that help yourself' negative behavior, while at the same time you classify it as standard when you don't harm anyone else?

Khedive Rex:
If these two very different moral standpoints ("Don't kill animals, its bad." "Kill hookers all the time, they're bad") can exist seperetely from each other and both still be considered moral behavior by the people who adopt these habits, it suggests there isn't any such thing as objective morality.

image

Some say this is a green chair. Others say it's a blue chair. Does that suggest that the chair has no objective color?

Khedive Rex:
And if two societies can exist independent of each other and both have a population that values radically different ideals and demands different codes of conduct but nonetheless is viewed as moral by their adherents, it suggests there isn't any such thing as objective morality.

But fact is that 90% of 'morality' is the same. Anywhere, everywhere. Ancient Rome, modern Japan. Murdering your innocent neighbour is considered immoral. Raping your brother's wife without any reason is considered immoral. Helping others is considered moral.

I'm studying history. I've specialized in non-western history. I'm constantly confronted with cultures that have existed 1000s of years earlier than the one I'm living in, or are 1000s of kilometers removed from the place I'm living. And while there are all kinds of things that differ from what I'm used to, the base is always the same.

The angry overthrow of the Roman Monarchy 2500 years ago because of the rape of Lucretia is not hard to understand. Nobody needs to be explained that 'random people getting raped' is a bad thing.

I'd follow Skeleons approach and say that morality in itself is basically a social construct. That does not mean that morality is completely subjective, though: morality is a socially constructed and codified result of a natural disposition towards cooperation - on an individual level that would appear through the basic feeling of empathy and the need for companionship.

If so, why is there still so much leverage across groups? Well, its clear that such a disposition to cooperation is undirected: furthering cooperation in one group does not necessarily mean furthering cooperation across other groups, too. Take, for instance ethnic discrimination. While one ethnicity suffers, the rest gets a collective thing to hate on, improving their social cohesion. Add in further economic, political, historical, demographic, personal and religious differences and one can expect a vast variety of different moral codices.

As such, while I think that there are clear advantages to pluralistic societies basing their society on the basic moral set codified in the human rights, it's by no means as clearly defined or objective as we would like it to be. Hence, I'll go with the social option here.

As the only person to vote 'help others' I feel I should clarify, my position.

Firstly, the 'not yourself' part is troublesome as it can be interpreted several ways. I chose to interpret it such that helping yourself is not necessarily a bad thing, but nor is it necessarily a good thing. If you can improve your lot without hurting others, that is all to the good, and is to be encouraged.

However, I don't think you can claim you are leading a moral life if you are comfortable, and your neighbour is starving, just because you are not directly hurting them. I'm not calling you a bad person, but you aren't a good person either.

Just because it is wrong to demand good/compassionate/selfless behaviour, does not mean that you can redefine goodness so that doing nothing magically becomes goodness.

So basically, I believe we have a moral duty to help each other and cooperate so that everyone can lead a 'flourishing life'. To do this is good. To actively harm people is bad. Anything inbetween is neutral.

Danyal:

Khedive Rex:
And if two societies can exist independent of each other and both have a population that values radically different ideals and demands different codes of conduct but nonetheless is viewed as moral by their adherents, it suggests there isn't any such thing as objective morality.

But fact is that 90% of 'morality' is the same. Anywhere, everywhere. Ancient Rome, modern Japan. Murdering your innocent neighbour is considered immoral. Raping your brother's wife without any reason is considered immoral. Helping others is considered moral.

I'm studying history. I've specialized in non-western history. I'm constantly confronted with cultures that have existed 1000s of years earlier than the one I'm living in, or are 1000s of kilometers removed from the place I'm living. And while there are all kinds of things that differ from what I'm used to, the base is always the same.

The angry overthrow of the Roman Monarchy 2500 years ago because of the rape of Lucretia is not hard to understand. Nobody needs to be explained that 'random people getting raped' is a bad thing.

The Vikings and Mongols would take appear to take issue with your last sentence, as would most of the pre modern military of all nations.

Regardless, the fact that some ideals are constant does not contradict the concept that they are a social construct. (I swear the psuedo-alliteration was not deliberate) The moral concepts that are nearly universal all tend to be of a kind that promote social unity in one form or another. To put it another way, we're taught not to kill each other at random largely because we must work together in order to achieve a damn thing, societies that failed to promote such ideals also failed to form.

OT: #2 was my choice. #1 sounds good, but "human nature" is nasty and brutish at best, any worthwhile set of ethics looks towards elevating us above and beyond that which is "natural" for the human race.

Heronblade:
The vikings and Mongols would take appear to take issue with your last sentence, as would most of the pre modern military of all nations.

Uh, no? While they might have no problems with 'Vikings plundering and slaughtering non-Viking villages', I'm rather sure they do have a problem with 'plundering and slaughtering Viking villages'. Same goes for the Mongols. I don't think Viking/Mongol husbands like me if I rape their wife. Nor will they tolerate me killing random Vikings/Mongols.

Heronblade:
Regardless, the fact that some ideals are constant does not contradict the concept that they are a social construct. The moral concepts that are nearly universal all tend to be of a kind that promote social unity in one form or another. To put it another way, we're taught not to kill each other at random largely because we must work together in order to achieve a damn thing.

I'm rather sure they're a social construct. But it's not like they're all very different, and that it's all very subjective. I mean, men like big breasts. Big breasts are a sign of fertility. Is that subjective? I don't know.

Heronblade:
[quote="Danyal" post="528.379487.14878839"]
Regardless, the fact that some ideals are constant does not contradict the concept that they are a social construct. (I swear the psuedo-alliteration was not deliberate) The moral concepts that are nearly universal all tend to be of a kind that promote social unity in one form or another. To put it another way, we're taught not to kill each other at random largely because we must work together in order to achieve a damn thing, societies that failed to promote such ideals also failed to form.

The fact that the specific dictates of morality vary from society to society does not prove that morality is a social construct, though.

Consider food. The specific recipes of what constitutes food vary from society to society. In some societies, beef is food and pork is not. In other societies, pork is food, and beef is not. Sometimes raw fish is food, and sometimes its not. Sometimes jelly is eaten with peanutbutter, and sometimes it's not. But every society has food. And every society's food includes nutrients that keep its members alive. In fact, the existence of food is a necessary precondition for the existence of food.

So too with morality. The existence of morality is a necessary precondition for society. Society's "construction of morality" is no more than the selection of specific dishes in the banquet halls of ethics.

I think this video might be relevant to the discussion...

He states that morality mainly consists of two pillars, fairness and compassion, and that both can be found in all kinds of (individual!) animals. So morality might not really be a social construct, but more something that has deep evolutionary roots in every single human.

[W]e did a study in which capuchin monkeys received either a grape or a piece of cucumber for a simple task.

If both monkeys got the same reward, there never was a problem. Grapes are by far preferred (as real primates, like us, they go for sugar content), but even if both received cucumber, they'd perform the task many times in a row.

However, if they received different rewards, the one who got the short end of the stick would begin to waver in its responses, and very soon start a rebellion by either refusing to perform the task or refusing to eat the cucumber.

This is an "irrational" response in the sense that if profit-maximizing is what life (and economics) is about, one should always take what one can get. Monkeys will always accept and eat a piece of cucumber whenever we give it to them, but apparently not when their partner is getting a better deal. In humans, this reaction is known as "inequity aversion."

It's cuz of my seniority. Joined: 12 Nov 2002

Danyal:

Khedive Rex:
If these two very different moral standpoints ("Don't kill animals, its bad." "Kill hookers all the time, they're bad") can exist seperetely from each other and both still be considered moral behavior by the people who adopt these habits, it suggests there isn't any such thing as objective morality.

image

Some say this is a green chair. Others say it's a blue chair. Does that suggest that the chair has no objective color?

Wow that made no sense, in large part because that is the shittiest metaphor I have ever heard. You're using something has an objective color and applying it to morals. I can't wrap my head around why you thought that was a good idea. The fact of the matter is that morality is a matter of perspective, and it does vary quite widely throughout the world and even within a culture itself, the chair on the other hand is green, we would just be using a different word to describe it, unless they are color blind, then they are defective.

Well descriptively there's various moral codes so I'd have to specify whether it fits a particular idea or not. "By X it is moral" or "By X it isn't moral".

If we're talking normatively, then I'd say that it is more or less meaningless. But if I'm the one speaking then I'll be judging it by my personal beliefs and what I approve of or disapprove of. It won't be absolute truth, but it's as valid as any other model and I prefer it for obvious reasons. Now what I approve of can and does involve helping others and so on, it's not particularly easy to sum up. Just saying that would be too simple.

I hate the word moral... it's just a dreadful dreadful word.

To me it holds a value, a value that is in the negative.

If someone uses this word in an argument without any other words and only use moral to back it up then in my opinion they have lost the argument. If they use moral as an additional word weighted in historical and cultural baggage for emotional engagement then I look at the other words.

Danyal:

He states that morality mainly consists of two pillars, fairness and compassion, and that both can be found in all kinds of (individual!) animals. So morality might not really be a social construct, but more something that has deep evolutionary roots in every single human.

Yeah I would have posted that video too.

Morality is a word too "corrupted" by human history in my opinion, so in this senario I would take the words fairness and compassion as they are much more straitforward words.

Danyal:

Khedive Rex:
If these two very different moral standpoints ("Don't kill animals, its bad." "Kill hookers all the time, they're bad") can exist seperetely from each other and both still be considered moral behavior by the people who adopt these habits, it suggests there isn't any such thing as objective morality.

image

Some say this is a green chair. Others say it's a blue chair. Does that suggest that the chair has no objective color?

I must admit I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to accomplish with this. My first instinct is that you're trying to say that, obviously, the chair has an objective color and a portion of the population insisting its blue doesn't change the essential nature of the chair as much as it makes the people who insist it's blue patently incorrect. I kind of hope that's not where you're going, because the implication of that metaphor on this debate would be patently wrong and a little bit ignorant.

The supposition that there is an obvious or correct moral guideline that other people choose to misinterpret (the way there is an obvious color to the chair that people choose to ignore), suggests that certain cultures and societies are doing morality wrong. Which of course leaves an open invitation to discount and discredit moral systems which are not your own without providing any criteria by which to fairly and objectively prove deviant morality versus 'correct' morality. Blind discrediting of social dogma and societal worth is the kind of mindset that allows colonial powers to subjugate native peoples and allows warring powers to refuse basic human rights. The minute you've allowed yourself a philosophy that enables you to look at a group of people on mass and proclaim "They're doing it wrong." is when you start stratifying human worth.

More than that, proposing that any moral system can be proven objectively right firstly assumes that all people on the planet adhere to the same set of underlying primary values around which a moral system is produced. The very existence of multiple competing philosophies disproves that supposition. If your society primarily values expediency, efficiency and production, the cultural morals that develop to promote those values will be drastically incompatible with the cultural morals of a civilization that primarily values personal freedom, forgiveness and charity. To try and say one set of cultural morals is superior to another is like trying to say that one culture's underlying value system is superior to another. Which is equivalent in practice to trying to prove objectively that utilitarianism is superior to individualism. Which is to say, it is inherently implausible.

But like I said, I don't know what you were trying to do with this. If the above rebuts, I stand by it. If you were intending something else entirely, please elaborate.

Danyal:

Khedive Rex:
And if two societies can exist independent of each other and both have a population that values radically different ideals and demands different codes of conduct but nonetheless is viewed as moral by their adherents, it suggests there isn't any such thing as objective morality.

But fact is that 90% of 'morality' is the same. Anywhere, everywhere. Ancient Rome, modern Japan. Murdering your innocent neighbour is considered immoral. Raping your brother's wife without any reason is considered immoral. Helping others is considered moral.

I'm studying history. I've specialized in non-western history. I'm constantly confronted with cultures that have existed 1000s of years earlier than the one I'm living in, or are 1000s of kilometers removed from the place I'm living. And while there are all kinds of things that differ from what I'm used to, the base is always the same.

The angry overthrow of the Roman Monarchy 2500 years ago because of the rape of Lucretia is not hard to understand. Nobody needs to be explained that 'random people getting raped' is a bad thing.

As a man who has studied history significantly, particularly non-western history, I'm surprised to hear you say that morals are unchanging across the world. I suppose I should ask whether it would be morally appropriate for a man in Wales to take his ten year old son on a trip to a national park, drive him twenty miles off any significant highway, and leave him to die of cold, starvation and starving dogs. That man would be put in jail for the rest of his life for gross negligence, at the least of charges. In Sparta, he'd just be a regular dad.

And while we're talking about young children, should I provide a list of warrior cultures who require their very young boys to prove themselves as men by submitting themselves to acts of physical pain or killing local wildlife? If morals are identical everywhere, why was child torture and child soldiers such a prominent thing back then and so repugnant now?

Want to talk about mass orgies in the street? How do you feel about that? I guarantee, no matter what you're opinion is there's a culture who disagrees with you. Violently. The Romans and the Pagans and the Vikings were all about their mass orgies. Meanwhile to this day if a woman shows her face in public in Saudi Arabia she can be stoned to death. Or raped to death actually, as has happened in the past. And since you bring up the famous rape of Lucretia as a simple example that no one needs to be told raping random people is bad, how do you explain that rape is considered a de facto form of justified punishment in some more backwards and terrifying parts of the world? And how do you explain that the Mongols and the Vikings had standing orders to kill the men and rape the women of villages they conquered? They considered it their moral obligation to spread their superior genetics. Do you think most modern cultures basically agree with that concept?

Or do standing cultural morals change significantly with distance and time?

Cannibalism. Self-mutilation. Body modification. Polygamy. Slavery. Male and female circumcision. Prostitution. Gambling. Consumption of alcohol. Consumption of cannabis. Treatment of criminals. Treatment of prisoners of war. Abortion. Inbreeding. Ritual sacrifice. These are only a few of the most basic issues we as a culture and as individuals have an accepted moral stance toward. And for every issue listed there is a culture that has historically, disagreed with us radically. I do not see how you can make an argument for a single unifying morality in human beings across multiple cultures. Except to say that at the most primitive and simplistic strata of human perception, we all don't like to have things taken from us and don't want to be killed.

I'm sure that strata exists. Proposing that because we all have those two basic things in common, we couldn't have independently developed contradictory moral systems is to ignore the fact that we have independently developed contradictory moral systems. I invite you to watch Fox News for an hour followed by CNN for an hour on any day they debate gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion, water-boarding, eminent domain, environmentalism, or the American hegemony. When we as a single (quite large admittedly) society can't succeed in unifying under one obvious moral umbrella, how can you propose that the rest of the entire world across all of time has done so already? And worse yet, that it happened naturally and was unavoidable?

I'm afraid I disagree.

I will need to go with the word "moral" is meaningless in its current twisted understanding.
Else I would go with "Behaving in ways approved by society" however id rephrase that into "Behaving in ways evolved by society"

i think we have "morals" because after all this time arguing with each other we'd a be a sorry species indeed if we hadn't came to a decision on just a few things.

Khedive Rex:

Danyal:
Some say this is a green chair. Others say it's a blue chair. Does that suggest that the chair has no objective color?

I must admit I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to accomplish with this. My first instinct is that you're trying to say that, obviously, the chair has an objective color and a portion of the population insisting its blue doesn't change the essential nature of the chair as much as it makes the people who insist it's blue patently incorrect.

That's where I was trying to go.

Khedive Rex:
The supposition that there is an obvious or correct moral guideline that other people choose to misinterpret (the way there is an obvious color to the chair that people choose to ignore), suggests that certain cultures and societies are doing morality wrong.

Well, 'universal objective morality' certainly isn't as obvious as the color of the chair. But...

Danyal:

He states that morality mainly consists of two pillars, fairness and compassion, and that both can be found in all kinds of (individual!) animals. So morality might not really be a social construct, but more something that has deep evolutionary roots in every single human.

[W]e did a study in which capuchin monkeys received either a grape or a piece of cucumber for a simple task.

If both monkeys got the same reward, there never was a problem. Grapes are by far preferred (as real primates, like us, they go for sugar content), but even if both received cucumber, they'd perform the task many times in a row.

However, if they received different rewards, the one who got the short end of the stick would begin to waver in its responses, and very soon start a rebellion by either refusing to perform the task or refusing to eat the cucumber.

This is an "irrational" response in the sense that if profit-maximizing is what life (and economics) is about, one should always take what one can get. Monkeys will always accept and eat a piece of cucumber whenever we give it to them, but apparently not when their partner is getting a better deal. In humans, this reaction is known as "inequity aversion."

The pillars, the fundamentals of morality, are the same in not only humans, but in all living beings with a certain intelligence.

Khedive Rex:
Which of course leaves an open invitation to discount and discredit moral systems which are not your own without providing any criteria by which to fairly and objectively prove deviant morality versus 'correct' morality.

You've made that 'without providing any criteria' up. But for the rest, yes, I can discount and discredit moral systems.

Khedive Rex:
Blind discrediting of social dogma and societal worth is the kind of mindset that allows colonial powers to subjugate native peoples and allows warring powers to refuse basic human rights.

'Blind' discrediting? And by the way, you come up with basic human rights. You treat it like some kind of objective morality. "If people think there might be something like an objective morality they refuse basic human rights"?

Khedive Rex:
The minute you've allowed yourself a philosophy that enables you to look at a group of people on mass and proclaim "They're doing it wrong." is when you start stratifying human worth.

Well, I do stratify human worth. Conquer Western Europe, enslave Eastern Europe, exterminate all the Jews? Nazi Germany, you're doing it wrong. Kill seventy children on a Norwegian island? Breivik, you're doing it wrong.

Khedive Rex:
More than that, proposing that any moral system can be proven objectively right firstly assumes that all people on the planet adhere to the same set of underlying primary values around which a moral system is produced.

'Compassion', 'fairness'. Important, complex primary feelings that are seen in all intelligent beings.

Khedive Rex:
The very existence of multiple competing philosophies disproves that supposition. If your society primarily values expediency, efficiency and production, the cultural morals that develop to promote those values will be drastically incompatible with the cultural morals of a civilization that primarily values personal freedom, forgiveness and charity. To try and say one set of cultural morals is superior to another is like trying to say that one culture's underlying value system is superior to another.

I think "all humans are born equal" is a superior to "let's exploit the peasants/üntermenschen". Problem?

Khedive Rex:
But like I said, I don't know what you were trying to do with this. If the above rebuts, I stand by it. If you were intending something else entirely, please elaborate.

I do think that their is a best ideology, a best way. Not all moral systems are necessarily equal. I don't say that my way is the best way and that I've already objectively proven it. But I do believe that we should think and talk and discuss and in that process can come closer to the 'objectively best morality'. And I do think that we've made good progress the last few centuries.

Khedive Rex:
As a man who has studied history significantly, particularly non-western history, I'm surprised to hear you say that morals are unchanging across the world.

All morals? No. A large part, maybe even 90%? Yes.

Khedive Rex:
I suppose I should ask whether it would be morally appropriate for a man in Wales to take his ten year old son on a trip to a national park, drive him twenty miles off any significant highway, and leave him to die of cold, starvation and starving dogs. That man would be put in jail for the rest of his life for gross negligence, at the least of charges. In Sparta, he'd just be a regular dad.

1. Sparta had a way higher natality and mortality rate than modern day Wales. Like different chairs have different colors, and different problems have different objectively best solutions, different societies should have different moralities to tackle problems in the best way.
2. Spartans still get angry when I steal their stuff, murder their children or rape their wives.

Khedive Rex:
And while we're talking about young children, should I provide a list of warrior cultures who require their very young boys to prove themselves as men by submitting themselves to acts of physical pain or killing local wildlife? If morals are identical everywhere, why was child torture and child soldiers such a prominent thing back then and so repugnant now?

image
http://www.marathon.uwc.edu/geography/Demotrans/demtran.htm

The demographic transition. If you 'create' 10 children and 8 die, morality towards young children changes a... little bit.

Khedive Rex:
Want to talk about mass orgies in the street? How do you feel about that?

Sounds great, doesn't it?

And by the way, I don't think you'd encounter Romans having sex every square.

Because of their secret, nocturnal, and unscripted nature, the orgia were subject to prurient speculation and regarded with suspicion, particularly by the Romans, who attempted to suppress the Bacchanals in 186 BC. Orgia are popularly thought to have involved sex,[2] but while sexuality and fertility were cultic concerns, the primary goal of the orgia was to achieve an ecstatic union with the divine.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orgy

Khedive Rex:
I guarantee, no matter what you're opinion is there's a culture who disagrees with you. Violently.

"Let's punish the one who randomly kills our children"
"Let's punish the one who randomly raped your wife"
"Let's punish the one who stole your stuff"
"Let's fight against the invaders"
...

Khedive Rex:
The Romans and the Pagans and the Vikings were all about their mass orgies. Meanwhile to this day if a woman shows her face in public in Saudi Arabia she can be stoned to death. Or raped to death actually, as has happened in the past.

The Roman orgies seem to have been exaggerated, can you back up the mass orgies of Pagans and Vikings with credible sources? And still, attitude to sex =/= 90% of morality.

Khedive Rex:
And since you bring up the famous rape of Lucretia as a simple example that no one needs to be told raping random people is bad, how do you explain that rape is considered a de facto form of justified punishment in some more backwards and terrifying parts of the world?

We think Fritzl is evil for having locked up his children, thus we lock him up in prison. We think murderers are evil, thus we give them the death penalty. We always punish bad things with bad things. And in that, all societies, cultures and moralities are again, equal and the same.

Khedive Rex:
And how do you explain that the Mongols and the Vikings had standing orders to kill the men and rape the women of villages they conquered?

Do you really think that is an anomaly?! It actually sounds really familiar. I think even chimpanzees do that. It happened from the Old Testament to the Red Army invading Nazi Germany.

Khedive Rex:
Cannibalism. Self-mutilation. Body modification. Polygamy. Slavery. Male and female circumcision. Prostitution. Gambling. Consumption of alcohol. Consumption of cannabis. Treatment of criminals. Treatment of prisoners of war. Abortion. Inbreeding. Ritual sacrifice. These are only a few of the most basic issues we as a culture and as individuals have an accepted moral stance toward.

Do you consider 'cannibalism, self-mutilation and body modification' to be basic issues? I consider these to be part of 'the changing 10%'.

Khedive Rex:
And for every issue listed there is a culture that has historically, disagreed with us radically. I do not see how you can make an argument for a single unifying morality in human beings across multiple cultures. Except to say that at the most primitive and simplistic strata of human perception, we all don't like to have things taken from us and don't want to be killed.

So you don't think multiculturalism could ever work? There are certain cultures out there that are completely, fundamentally 100% at odds with ours, and those people should never be allowed in our country because they'd want to do everything that we consider immoral and illegal?

Khedive Rex:
I'm sure that strata exists. Proposing that because we all have those two basic things in common, we couldn't have independently developed contradictory moral systems is to ignore the fact that we have independently developed contradictory moral systems. I invite you to watch Fox News for an hour followed by CNN for an hour on any day they debate gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion, water-boarding, eminent domain, environmentalism, or the American hegemony.

"Gay marriage, stem cell research and abortion" don't really strike me as "the fundamental, basic part of morality". They do sound really much as "the 10%".

Khedive Rex:
When we as a single (quite large admittedly) society can't succeed in unifying under one obvious moral umbrella, how can you propose that the rest of the entire world across all of time has done so already? And worse yet, that it happened naturally and was unavoidable?

But you are united under one obvious moral umbrella, but maybe it's so obvious and natural to you that you can't even see it. Just like fish don't know they're in water because they're in it, and it's always there so they don't even bother to 'recognize' it. Most Americans agree with the constitution, democracy, individualism and 'freedom'. Most Americans don't have big issue with the system they're living in.

But think about *all morality*. *All* American morality. Everything we like and dislike, all our laws. Do you know how ****** much 10% of that is?

Don't we share 99% of our genes with chimpanzees?

*Bonus-edit*: I've read an old register of fines of the region I'm living in. I've seriously seen what my own ancestors have done wrong - four centuries ago. People got punished for cursing at each other, for hitting teeth out of someone else's mouth and for lending money but failing to give it back.

I didn't need to do a comprehensive study of the morality of that culture to understand it.

I find none of the options good. Some of them come close, but are errant in a meaningful way.

The first fails because of the saying "human nature". What does that even mean? Why should life be contingent upon human nature? More often than not, "human nature" is used as a blanket excuse to deal with things we don't like or accept, regardless of their morality. Remove the "in accordance with human nature", and it becomes an extremely strong. With it in place, though, it seems weak.

The one about society is close, but it isn't about what society approves of (see also: slavery, holocaust, etc.), but what furthers society.

I'd say that moral behaviour for me is behaving in a way that helps myself, helps others when they are in desperate need, and is relatively sustainable. Also, any form of moral behaviour must accept that other people are likely to follow a different system, and these views should be respected unless they are too confrontational.

Khedive Rex:

As a man who has studied history significantly, particularly non-western history, I'm surprised to hear you say that morals are unchanging across the world. I suppose I should ask whether it would be morally appropriate for a man in Wales to take his ten year old son on a trip to a national park, drive him twenty miles off any significant highway, and leave him to die of cold, starvation and starving dogs. That man would be put in jail for the rest of his life for gross negligence, at the least of charges. In Sparta, he'd just be a regular dad.

Well... we don't really know this is true. It may be a myth, or more likely an exaggeration.

The Spartans were not very culturally inclined, so virtually everything we know about them comes from writers of other states, who may not have been that well-informed about or well-disposed towards them.

Spartans almost certainly practiced infanticide of sickly babies, but then that was widespread well beyond Sparta. They probably set young boys tough survival training of some sort, but it's doubtful it was as callous or dangerous as just abruptly dumping clueless little boys miles from civilisation to fend for themselves. They may well have routinely sent children out, but it's inconceivable the children would not be aware it would happen to them, and very likely they had some sort of basic training.

Archon:
How do you define "moral" behavior?

Can I vote a few of them at once?

That moral as a stand alone axiom is meaningless and even downright harmful if taken blindly, and that my personal morals, partially shaped by both society and human nature and by my own determinition involve the betterment of myself (to my standards if and when I feel like it) as long as I limit harm to others, and because not harming others is impossible reasonably in our world of limited means, also encompasses helping others (to their standards if and only if they want it) as long as its not to my vastly unreasonable self destruction (unless I so choose that level of altruism willingly).

I do not adhere to a set value system. Each moment is judge separately. As such, I can't really answer your question except to say: it depends on the situation.

Archon:

DJjaffacake:
Also, Mr. In Charge Man's avatar is The Dark Lord of Mordor. Hmm, perhaps the Escapist is not as benevolent as we thought.

That was a joke

What? I'm shocked and appalled. That's not the eye of Sauron. It's a photo of a decoration I saw in the Cheesecake Factory.

http://totallylookslike.icanhascheezburger.com/2009/07/13/cheesecake-factory-decor-totally-looks-like-the-eye-of-sauron/?from=recMap2

I'm the dark lord of the cheesecake.

Don't think you can distract us with cheesecake! We're on to you!

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