Morality

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by RayCaptain, Jun 17, 2018.

  1. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain Stranger in a Strange Land

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    Here we define morality as simply right and wrong.

    Does morality exist at all? If it exists, who determines it? Is it cultural? Democratic? Is it tied to nature? From where do humans derive morality? If it is relative in general, have some things always been wrong and others up in the air?

    Inb4 "well it certainly isn't from any religion" :rolleyes:

    Follow the rules, stay on topic, this is a conversation and you probably aren't going to change any minds here today.
     
  2. Anakin

    Anakin King of TFF

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    Well I think there is a general consensus of what morality is, but nobody truly sticks to completely. I think everyone has a different, yet a lot of similar sense of morality defined by how you grow up, nurturing, teaching and that ultimately defines your own morality. I think it’s more defined by nature rather than culture. I speak of human nature and the point of life, imo, is survival. So we do, now in closer groups perhaps, want to look out for each other, help each other.
     
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  3. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain Stranger in a Strange Land

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    So, ultimately, there is nothing that is truly right and nothing that is truly wrong? Or does it have to adhere to the standard of survival?
     
  4. Anakin

    Anakin King of TFF

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    I think opinions are too divided of what can be defined of what is truly right or truly wrong. That’s what we have laws for and I guess those are defined on a general consensus of what is right and wrong. I can’t truly say. I didn’t study law.
     
  5. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain Stranger in a Strange Land

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    Well, I'm speaking of things separate from law. The way I understand it, and you might agree, is that law should typically follow morality and not the other way around.

    Let me explai it like this. I think slavery, the way it was in America before the 13th Amendment, was immoral even while it was legal. Do you follow and agree with that train of thought or do you differ? While slavery was legal, and while a majority, at one point, believed it to be a moral (or at least amoral and not immoral) thing, was it thus? Or does some other system of morality preempt and overrule?

    There is a fine example of morality derived from law, culture, customs, society, and democratic opinion, which I would readily address as immoral regardless.
     
  6. Anakin

    Anakin King of TFF

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    I do agree with that. It’s just that we have the law, ut it’s a flawed system we try t improve based on mistakes we made in the past, hence the abolishment of slavery. We knew it was immoral, but the time it was likely just overlooked that it was an we tried to justify the treatment of black people for example to be mo different than the treatment of wild dogs. They were even seen as worse, because with involving religion they tried to write them off as the devil’s spawn, as demons with no soul. Hence why they thought they deserved to be treated in the most vile ways. It also just comes down to greed. So it was legal because slaves were like animals and it’s not illegal to own animals. That still begs the question that, suppose those slaves were animals, couldn’t there have been laws against slave cruelty, like animal cruelty? There’s still that kind of immoral thing going on. Take China for example, where so many people are practically heavily underpaid. They’re just poor and starving because they don’t have laws of how much money, for example, you have to at least pay a person for their service, so that it wouldn’t be like it is now. It is immoral. It is inhumane.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Morality is a social construct built by a society, its also, mostly sort of of currently, a uniquely human concept of behaviour within society. I say that because study of things such as morality within other species is very difficult and we are only very recently actually studying wildlife with a view that they are not simply living by built-in-instincts.

    Morality is natural if we consider that social human groups are natural, so it stands to reason that other pack groups on the planet will have moralities within their social structure; or a similar mechanism that aims to achieve a similar end result.


    For humanity morality most certainly exists, that cannot be denied. However what it is varies continually as the social groups evolve and change. Would also say that it is very rarely universal in application. Scale plays a big part in it.
    Many people would consider it morally wrong and would't even dream of stealing, but if your car remains parked longer than the ticket says it should be (thus stealing money from whoever owns the carpark) most of us wouldn't bat an eyelid at just driving off and would only change our behaviour if we thought we would be/were punished for that action.

    So that is where it gains a complexity because morality is strongly contextual and situational. It's also something that is often reinforced and taught in a non-specific manner. Indeed I'd wager many of the morals by which you live are not things you were outright told to believe or consider moral; but things that you've adapted and learned to live by; that in itself means that even within any one single social group (of sufficient size) there can be widely varying standards and applications of morals. ITalso means that if enough people agree on the moral principle of something then it can be made into a law for others to adhere too



    Ps I'm of the opinion that the Bible and many other religious texts don't teach you morals, but have fables/stories that confront the reader and thus make them question, fathom and judge and evaluate their own morals and compare them to those in the bible (and other similar texts;); since a plain reading of the Bible often throws up conflicting info and morals that, if at one time were true, are no longer universally suited to modern life.
     
  8. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain Stranger in a Strange Land

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    So nothing is really right or wrong? I read what you wrote and I understand the "social construct" thing, but you didn't say (or I didn't understand you saying) that morality actually exists. We abide by social norms, but not that something is right or that something is wrong.
     
  9. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    As I said right and wrong are a product of social structure.

    Initially those that raise us influence our moral understanding, however we continue to be open to adaptability through life. As a result society can change through time, or at least the individuals within it can.

    Now there are common themes in many societies; for example do not murder. That's a pretty common element in most societies that function in the long term. So you can say that there are very common repeat themes that many successful societies operate with.

    Furthermore it relies upon certain common mental structures within people. For example those who have an underdeveloped sense of empathy can often find some areas of morality (as most understand it) harder to understand; or might only understand it as legal laws not as something else.


    I think this line from Terry Pratchett sums it up well in Hog Father

    “Take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. and yet... and yet you act as if there is some ideal order in the world, as if there is some... some rightness in the universe by which it may be judged.”


    So I guess you can say they are real, just not materially so and they rely partly upon human instinct/structure and also social evolution and structure. How much of each is likely impossible to fully say as the line between nature and nurture is hazy at best.
     
  10. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain Stranger in a Strange Land

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    So, take my example of slavery in America c. 1800, where certain individuals in society were viewed as property or livestock as opposed to humans. Was it moral to enslave, breed, and assault them, even murder them, given that, per society, it was okay to do so? If it is societal, it would be moral. Heck, even if we apply laws of nature, our closest biological relatives murder for breeding rights. So, in the scope of conversion, enslavement is not immoral?
     
  11. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    At the time society in general considered slavery to be legal and not morally questionable, otherwise it would have been made illegal. It wasn't until society changed that that element changed with it.

    Thus it shows that morality is a dynamic not static concept.

    Yes when we look back on the past we see many immoral actions being committed, but its important to remember that we are judging them by the morals we live by today, not by those we lived by then.


    Of course we must also remember that I am talking in gross generalities. There were, of course, those who considered slavery immoral even in those ancient times. Indeed it was steadily through those people that attitudes and society began to and did, in fact, change.
     
  12. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain Stranger in a Strange Land

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    Mkay, well we will just go our ways. You agree that anything can be moral and I do not.

    I'm just curious where everyone sits.
     
  13. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Not that anything can be moral, but that morality is not a fixed concept and that the potential limits are very broad if one considers them in historical context with shifts in social structures, understanding and upbringing.
    Education also comes into it as greater education brings the potential for greater awareness (it depends on the nature of the education of course). Our distant caveman relatives likely didn't have as structured a life as we do today so their concept of morals would have been different; indeed even just the concept of a moral likely didn't exist for them. Though they would have had rules/means to live together and organise themselves, but they might well have had very simplistic laws and moral concepts.
     
  14. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain Stranger in a Strange Land

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    What is an example of something that could not be moral?
     
  15. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Depends on your context and viewpoint on the world


    For example we consider slavery immoral; stealing; rape; murder etc... Yet consider that in the past the practice of duelling was accepted and that one outcome would be to kill your opponent (that's a gross simplification as it changed a lot over the years and over nations).

    If you consider murder premeditated killing then it was perfectly possible to engage in activity that would result in duel.
     
  16. RayCaptain

    RayCaptain Stranger in a Strange Land

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    No, I'm asking you. Because I said, by your standards, anything could be moral and you replied that it could not. Now you (appear at least) to contend that, yes, anything can be moral.

    Edit: and I suppose anything could be considered immoral by your take.
     
  17. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    I might be rambling ;)

    But essentially anything can be moral or immoral, it depends on the point of view of the person. Context can also be an influence as well and can affect the point of view of the person.


    However I also said that many societies share some very similar core morals and thus as such there it is likely that there are some core elements that society has to follow to remain a viable social group and that those core elements might be the foundation for some morals that are so typical as to be almost default for any group of humans to function together in the long term.

    An example would be murder. Most societies consider murder to be immoral; although within context it is still possible to kill. The death penalty is one such example where an immoral act (killing another human) is accepted by society.






    But if you mean what are my personal morals, well not to steal, cheat, kill. I consider those acts wrong. It's an area where I honestly never really put it into formal structure to think about it so many of them are the most general elements of morals.
     
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  18. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Well, actually, morality is really simple. There's two rules:

    Don't be a dick.
    -
    Will Wheaton

    In other words, don't do anything you wouldn't like being done to you. That's basically it. It gets a bit more complicated when you factor in what society comes to expect of its members. 90+% will just be one of those things were you are given the leeway that you would like to give to others. Taking a bigger slice of the cake than you can expect to be yours is basically acting immorally.

    The other one is that if your life is directly danger, then you can revert to do whatever you deem necessary to stay alive. One might argue that this, too, needs to happen within the same boundaries of Don't be a dick - but others may not agree with your actions simply because they cannot conceive themselves being in your situation. That being said, killing a bunch of people just to stay alive is probably still going to be immoral, depending on the situation.
     
  19. hatchet13

    hatchet13 The Nasty Tusken

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    Is it immoral to stomp a family of Jawas to death ?