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theBSDude



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This comes from Writing Group 2.
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're both right, really.

Choices in and of themselves are neither "right" nor are they "wrong." People cannot be innately "right" or "wrong", it isn't a value that you can arbitrarily assign to them. Also, a person is not naturally "right" or "wrong", the reason for this?

"Right" and "wrong" are opinions made by the observer. Some people see abortion as "right" and some see it as "wrong" to cite one very common example. Murdering one person so that thousands may live? Is that right, or is it wrong?

The point is, an action is simply an action. Whatever that action is, it came about simply because of a progression of actions that in the end culminated into the one (observed) action. Does this make an action final? No, many more actions will branch from this action, directly or indirectly. What makes up "right" and "moral"? Well, again, perception.

Morality is generally closely tied with ethics, which in a sense is how a being treats another being. There's a sort of flow to it, "good" morals/ethics beings more along the lines of helping others. "poor" morals/ethics then being the self-serving side of things.

...so yeah, you're both right. Right and Wrong exist, but they're in the eyes of the observer to decide which one an action is. While an action, technically, cannot be good or evil, it can be perceived as one or the other, depending on who is viewing the action.

...hope that helps?
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Asa



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a highly moral and ethical person, I've got issues with your concept of sliding morals. Morals are, they're solid and unchangeable. It's not the morals that change, it's people's perception and recognition of them, and their rationalization about why they aren't sticking to them.
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Tenshi



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's my point though, that the observer perceives things and that makes them so. If you're taking the entire existence of things we can't see and touch out of the equation, then all anything is...is simply what we perceive it to be. In truth, there's no way to tell what I see as green is what you see as green.

I could only describe to you other things that are green, or what green reminds me of...but all of those things are based off of what I, personally, have learned/experienced/know. Since the same things are green to us, we could be agreeing on it even though we see totally different things.

Morality is yes. Morality also is warped and distorted (from our viewpoint) by a lot of very evil people who honestly believe they are in the moral right in what they do (usually murder to various degrees).

...so it goes back to the same problem. Morality is to you what it is, but to somebody else may be something else. The concept, the "thing" is the very same...but it may be different depending on who's observing it and from what side of the situation they're observing it.
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CBB



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But we do all agree on what is green and what is red, and people very rarely argue about it. The same can apply to morals-just like we all agree that green is verde is vert is 緑 is зеленый цвет. Societies (made up of dozens or more of individuals whose personal beliefs may vary widely but will more or less mirror that of the society) believe that lying, thievery, and murder are wrong, for the simple reason that society cannot long endure where people can freely lie (preventing communication), steal (preventing a stable economy) and murder (preventing life).

The gray areas come in whenever there is a question of whether or not the same rules apply to someone perceived to be "outside" the society. This can apply to anyone from fetuses to foreign nationals to criminals. So morals remain pretty much the same; the real question is whether or not the individual believes they apply to everyone.
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Squeeself



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asa wrote:
As a highly moral and ethical person, I've got issues with your concept of sliding morals. Morals are, they're solid and unchangeable. It's not the morals that change, it's people's perception and recognition of them, and their rationalization about why they aren't sticking to them.


As a moral and ethical person, Squee disagrees. Once, it was highly immoral for a lady to show any leg. Now we don't think twice. Morals in a society DO change. They also change between societies; in some African tribes, polygamy is(was) the norm. Here in the US, we have laws against it.

Squee also points out to CBB that murder isn't always unethical to some societies. Take the ancient Mayan and Aztecs for instance, who sacrificed people to their gods. Not slaves or outcasts mind you. Members of their society, and, in fact, children. And these sacrifices were to bring about good things for their society (blessings of the gods, so forth). So...if morality is constant, that makes the ancient Mayans and Aztecs evil cultures, whose destruction by the Conquistadors was a good act? (Note that the Conquistadors severely dramatized the human sacrifices to make them appear as savages, but they still did occur.)

Squee isn't advocating Nem's purely Objectivist views on the matter, but just pointing out it's not nearly so simple as a black-and-white morality that some have put forth.

Also, if you're red-green colorblind, ya ain't gonna agree CBB. XD Just causing ya a hard time but...really, there's a lot of fascinating research on how we perceive, and more importantly, learn colors. Red is only red because we categorize it as such. (Regardless of the name, it's the category that counts.) i.e. what makes these frequencies red and those orange and those yellow? It's something we learn, but we don't necessarily see the same thing as other people...fascinating stuff. Doesn't apply to this discussion Wink
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CBB



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Murder" in this sense is the illegal or unsanctioned act of killing someone. Mayan and Aztec human sacrifices were strictly organized, methodical, and, like Squee said, expected to have beneficial consequences. Most of the victims were actually prisoners, ie, foreign nationals, although not all. It's also not clear, in the cases where they sacrificed their own people, whether those people were forced or whether they were volunteers, except in the cases of child sacrifice of course. However, both cultures still didn't permit wanton killing by anyone, any time.

As for color-blind people, even if they can't see the colors, they still agree on what colors they can't see! XD Very few green-red color blind people are going to claim that they cannot, in fact, see blue and yellow. BUT, it's also interesting that many cultures don't make a distinction between green and blue or blue and black! However, color identification is still universal within these cultures.

I'm not advocating absolute black-and-white morals either, but I do believe that there are certain morals that are universal, and they provide a foundation to build on. To say that there are no morals whatsoever is, at the very least, dangerous, because it legitimizes every aspect of human behavior, including behavior which is damaging and abhorrent. Even these universal morals have degrees of flexibility, but they exist and must be respected in order for human interaction to advance beyond the bestial stage.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CBB wrote:
But we do all agree on what is green and what is red, and people very rarely argue about it. The same can apply to morals-just like we all agree that green is verde is vert is 緑 is зеленый цвет.


Actually we just all agree on a name. What I see as green might be what everyone else sees as red I just happen to call it green because that's what everyone's always told me it's called. In a similar manner a blind person who's never seen doesn't know what colours he's not seeing and a colour blind person only knows that the absence of information is called red or green because he's been told about that. Someone who sees only in monochrome further couldn't tell you whether they weren't seeing blue or whether they weren't seeing green if two objects were placed in front of them. So essentially all we can agree on is that something is different to some other colours and that we all happen to call it green, we don't know whether it actually is green.

CBB wrote:
Societies (made up of dozens or more of individuals whose personal beliefs may vary widely but will more or less mirror that of the society) believe that lying, thievery, and murder are wrong, for the simple reason that society cannot long endure where people can freely lie (preventing communication), steal (preventing a stable economy) and murder (preventing life).

The gray areas come in whenever there is a question of whether or not the same rules apply to someone perceived to be "outside" the society. This can apply to anyone from fetuses to foreign nationals to criminals. So morals remain pretty much the same; the real question is whether or not the individual believes they apply to everyone.


Imagine how horible a world we would have if everyone really considered lying to be wrong, 'does this dress make me look fat?' 'How do you think I did in my last test?' 'I'm going to be alright aren't I doctor?' Heck counselling psychology is basically an entire discipline made out of lying and twisting the truth and I say that as someone taking a Masters in the subject. Or how many fewer software pirates we would have if people actually held true to the belief that stealing was wrong; when in actuality I can't think of a single person I know who hasn't stolen something at some point in their life without any moral qualms about it. And as to murder: If murder in the legal sense is wrong then all anyone has to do to make their murder right is to change the law; it's rather an argument from force in that as soon as it become possible to legally allow your act of murder you then become morally justified in it. As Rosseau noted, for sure it's an act of prudence but morally it makes little sense. Besides which if you could go back in time and murder one of the great butchers of the past knowing all the would be averted in the action, there aren't that many people who would view it as the wrong thing to do for all that it might be unlawful to comit an act of murder. The determing factor in making the killing right or wrong cannot be simply that it is murder.

Morals are bound to remain the same if everyone who follows a different moral structure automatically exists outside of society but I rather think if that's the case that the majority of people exist outside of society which would be made up of a minority of trully miserable people.
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Tyris



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
Actually we just all agree on a name. What I see as green might be what everyone else sees as red I just happen to call it green because that's what everyone's always told me it's called. In a similar manner a blind person who's never seen doesn't know what colours he's not seeing and a colour blind person only knows that the absence of information is called red or green because he's been told about that. Someone who sees only in monochrome further couldn't tell you whether they weren't seeing blue or whether they weren't seeing green if two objects were placed in front of them. So essentially all we can agree on is that something is different to some other colours and that we all happen to call it green, we don't know whether it actually is green.
Bah. Beetles in boxes.

"Green" is a concept that your mind overlays on light of a certain wavelength (about 520–570 nm). It doesn't matter whether your mind chooses to overlay the same concept that ours do - for all we know, you could be using the same sensation that in our sensory areas is triggered by the smell of cooking sausages. You say "we don't know whether it actually is green," but there is no green for it to be. All that matters is that we're sharing the same reality, and can agree that certain wavelengths of light produce a sensation that gets called "green." What has no bearing on anything is what that sensation is or whether it's the same for everyone.
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Nem



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought that point of all this talk about colour was that it was something we agreed on being the same thing. If you want to look at it that way where does green stop and the next colour in the spectrum start? There's no true set point at which something becomes green or stops being so.
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Tamir



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been absent from this conversation a bit too long. Smile I'd like to agree with AsA and say that I believe there is such a thing as universal morality.

But first,
Nem wrote:
Choices don't have an existence of their own, you can't pick a choice up or see it. They're concepts we use to describe the formation of a certain sequence of events and as such they exist only as properties of other things, people, creatures, etc, who are responsible for the choices. If you were to destroy all the sentient life in the universe their choices wouldn't still be floating around somewhere seperately from them made out of some sort of 'choice' material.

In assigning morality to the choice you assign it to the agent that has that choice as a property.

I'd like to argue that choices do indeed have an existance of their own. When a human body can do two different things, and does one rather than the other, something made it do so. Whether that's a few particles in the brain or whatever else, it still exists and has an observable effect on the world. These are the things I am assigning morality to.
Note - the existence of choices is entirely dependent on the existence of free will. If you remove free will, then choices would either be everything or nothing. My definition of choice is in a being with free will.

So if you were to destroy all sentient life, there would be no choices, but that doesn't mean that assigning morality to the choice is the same as assigning it to the agent. A single agent may have many choices, and each one has its own morality.

Nem wrote:
(...) the textbook response is to question either how (...) free will is really possible, (given that scientific laws govern the interaction of particles and so on.)

As someone studying to be a physicist, I find that statement quite bothersome. We do not know that there are scientific (mathematical) laws which govern the interactions of matter and energy. We think and hope so. We empirically prove so, but that's not real proof. For all we know, the universe is random, and we just happen to be fooling ourselves into seeing patterns.

That said, free will may well be possible within the confines of physics as we know it. Newtonian physics had no place for it, but quantum theory leaves large gaps. We treat particles as probability waves without knowing what ultimately chooses the result we obtain.

Tenshi wrote:
"Right" and "wrong" are opinions made by the observer.

Okay, so let me try to define them universally, then. A choice which increases the net future happiness in the world is a good choice, and a choice which decreases it is a bad choice. (Good and bad are the same as right and wrong, yes?)
The obvious problem with this definition is that it's very vague, but we'll get to that.
Important note - my definition does not include religion in it. To find a truly universal definition we'd need to include religion, but that's a whole different argument.
Another important note - it's very easy to do right for the wrong reasons, and vice versa.

Now we'll try and see if the definition holds up.
Tenshi wrote:
Some people see abortion as "right" and some see it as "wrong" to cite one very common example.

By killing the baby, are we denying it its happiness, thus decreasing future world happiness? This is unclear. By leaving it alive, are we decreasing the mother's happiness? Likely. Thus I cannot say for sure whether it's moral or not. It's a gray area simply because we don't understand consciousness and life well enough.

Tenshi wrote:
Murdering one person so that thousands may live? Is that right, or is it wrong?

This situation has many other factors to consider, but by large, it is right. Different factors can make that unclear.

Tenshi wrote:
Morality also is warped and distorted (from our viewpoint) by a lot of very evil people who honestly believe they are in the moral right in what they do (usually murder to various degrees).

And they may be right! Probably not, but they may be. There are circumstances in which murder is the right thing to do. A person can only follow the definition I gave to the best of his knowledge and experience, and therefore may do something wrong thinking that it is right. But if this is the case, he did not see the larger picture, and he did something wrong.

We can (not necessarily will....) all agree with the definition I gave, but with our limited knowledge and understanding may end up acting differently. This does not contradict the possibility that the definition is correct, nor that there is universal morality.

Squee wrote:
Once, it was highly immoral for a lady to show any leg. Now we don't think twice.

"Showing leg" could be right because the lady has rights, and could be wrong because it could cause men to act foolishly and wrongly. We used to give one side more emphasis, now we're leaning to the other.

Squee wrote:
in some African tribes, polygamy is(was) the norm. Here in the US, we have laws against it.

They think more happiness is to be gained by being less restrictive, letting people do as they choose. We think that polygamy is unstable and will inevitably cause unhappiness (Anger? Jealousy?). Again, there are two sides, reasons to say it's right and reasons to say it's wrong. There may be a true and total right and wrong in a case such as this, but even if there is we simply don't see it. We aint smart enough.

Squee wrote:
Squee also points out to CBB that murder isn't always unethical to some societies. Take the ancient Mayan and Aztecs for instance, who sacrificed people to their gods.

This brings in religion, which I said I wouldn't deal with. But you can see, I imagine, that both sides can be considered moral here too.

Squee wrote:
Squee isn't advocating Nem's purely Objectivist views on the matter, but just pointing out it's not nearly so simple as a black-and-white morality that some have put forth.

So, in conclusion to all that, I'd like to put forth that there may indeed be black-and-white morality, but that most things are gray due to our lack of understanding.

Lastly, I think this topic has a great title. ^_^
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theBSDude



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to say, I think the color annalogy is perfect. Our perception of color is largely shaped by the colors surrounding it- white looks red if it's surrounded by blue. Also, if you don't have a decent light source, colors nearly are impossible to see; in the same way, it's hard to judge morality if you don't know all the information.

And murder. When is it murder and when is it just killing? Some people think "meat is murder"; I don't think capitol punishment is murder.

Another thing to consider is the fact that, unlike colors, you can't hold decisions under a florecent bulb and compare them. We compare our perception of events to our memory of other events; and as most of you probably know, human perception and human memory are both incredibly unreliable.

Like Tam, I believe that universal morality exists, but our perceptions are flawed. Most significantly, they are all flawed differently.
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Tamir



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

theBSDude wrote:
I believe that universal morality exists, but our perceptions are flawed. Most significantly, they are all flawed differently.

How come you can say so well in two lines what I tried to say in so many? XD
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theBSDude



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know, it's kind of a skill I have.
It's seems cool at first, but it makes writing 800-word essays a pain, 'cause I've already said everything I need to by 600 and I'm gonna have to make the rest up.
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CBB



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
CBB wrote:
But we do all agree on what is green and what is red, and people very rarely argue about it. The same can apply to morals-just like we all agree that green is verde is vert is 緑 is зеленый цвет.


Actually we just all agree on a name. What I see as green might be what everyone else sees as red I just happen to call it green because that's what everyone's always told me it's called.


But it doesn't matter whether if you really see red when we call it green. Leaves, grass, and seawater are all a similar color, no matter what color the individual may perceive them to be. That is universal. Thus, they must be classified together or meaningful communication is impossible. Even fully colorblind people can understand and accept the concept of color because they perceive differing levels of gray.

Nem wrote:
Imagine how horrible a world we would have if everyone really considered lying to be wrong


Now imagine a society where lying was completely and utterly allowable. Nobody can trust anybody else. Forget "Does this dress make me look fat?", everything anybody ever tells you has an equal chance of being true or false from "That'll be ten fifty," to "I love you." Fifty percent. Fifty percent chance that those automobile parts are substandard and will fail catastrophically while you're on the highway. Fifty percent chance that they filled the jet engine tanks all the way and you'll make it across the ocean. Fifty percent chance that you'll have reliable electricity, clean water, sewage treatment, and transportation.

Now, in a society where lying is allowed, is it guaranteed that all those terrible things would happen? Of course not. But how would you know? Complex, advanced societies run on the fact that the individual can trust other individuals that he or she has never even met to tell the truth.

But what about little white lies? They are dependent on a society which does not allow lying. They are also based on trust, and because of trust, they make our lives easier. You trust that your boyfriend, friend, doctor, or councilor is telling the truth, and that makes you feel better, a positive result. It only works, however, to the point where trust remains intact, meaning that most other statements must be true. When trust is destroyed, white lies become as useless as any other statement. Lying is universally amoral because it prevents meaningful communication, the cornerstone of civilization.

As for software pirates, once again, they can only function so long as anti-stealing sentiments remain in the majority. If everyone started pirating software, the entertainment and computing industries would soon collapse and there would be nothing more to pirate. The majority of people must then still be properly paying for their software, movies, etc, and the entertainment and computing industries are adapting to counteract software pirating, just as physical stores have long been adapting to prevent shoplifting. A viable economy is not possible in a society which assumes it can take what it wants without proper payment.

As for legal murder...that is possibly the grayest area of all, which is ironic given its central role in religion and legal code. As far as government-sanctioned murder is concerned, however, I think we can all agree that a government can legalize various methods of murder all it wants, but if it kills too many people that the society judges to have been beneficial to the well-being of the society as a whole, it will not be able to maintain stability.
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