"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Discussion Thread: Universal Moral Values

In the last post, one commenter (Tlaloc) came down hard on the tobacco companies. Another commenter (Classical Liberal Anonymous) asked Tlaloc whether he was engaging in a moral argument. This was interesting because Tlaloc has generally thrown bombs at notions of foundational morality despite frequently engaging in moral argument. Tlaloc, perhaps sensing the implications, carefully distinguished his moral argument from any endorsement of universal moral values.

So, let's work it out. The basic allegation by Tlaloc seems to be that the tobacco companies have immorally lied for profit and have sold an addictive drug for profit. The basic rules being put forth seem to be:

1. It is wrong to lie without a compelling justification (such as to save a life -- e.g. lying to the Nazi S.S. about the Jew hiding in your closet). Lying for mere monetary profit is particularly bad.

2. It is wrong to subject others to the harm of unhealthy addiction for the sake of personal enrichment. It is further wrong to lie about the fact that one is doing that.

Now, here's the money question. Why wouldn't these rules stand up as universal moral values? When would it ever be right to lie for profit without any compelling justification? When would it ever be right to subject others to addiction for no better reason than to get rich?

38 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"This was interesting because Tlaloc has generally thrown bombs at notions of foundational morality despite frequently engaging in moral argument."

This is blatantly false. What I have argued is that any attempt to show a universal morality will fail precisely because morals vary quite a lot from place to place. However it is still quite possible to make rational moral arguments so long as you understand and accept that these arguments will only hold true for people who share your moral views with regard to the issue in question. Is that in anyway unclear?



"Now, here's the money question. Why wouldn't these rules stand up as universal moral values?"

Because undoubtedly someone somewhere at some time has felt them to be just fine. Saying morals are universal means that everyone ever must have felt deep down the same way about every moral issue (even if they acted otherwise).



"When would it ever be right to lie for profit without any compelling justification? When would it ever be right to subject others to addiction for no better reason than to get rich?"

It's not important if you or I can understand a given morality. Hell, I can't understand people liking to watch cars go around in a circle and yet NASCAR most certainly exists.

Understanding a thing is not required for it to exist.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Either those values are universal, or they are arbitrary.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

""Now, here's the money question. Why wouldn't these rules stand up as universal moral values?"

Because undoubtedly someone somewhere at some time has felt them to be just fine."


So ... you are saying that they are arbitrary?

Tlaloc said...

"Either those values are universal, or they are arbitrary."

Not quite, there is a third option, they are arbitrary except with regards to the person who holds them to them, and only to them, they are absolute.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Thats the definition of arbitrary.

Tlaloc said...

"Thats the definition of arbitrary"

No not really. Arbitrary means the moral judgment has no real value. It does however have value, a great deal of value, just only for those who hold to that moral view.

It's the difference between amoral and relative morality.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Websters: arbitrary - depending on individual discretion and not fixed.


I stand by my contention that the values are either universal or arbitrary.

Tlaloc said...

"I stand by my contention that the values are either universal or arbitrary."

That's fine, but since they are demonstrably not universal that means you have only one choice. I hope you enjoy moral nihilism but it's not my thing. I see a third distinction.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

By stating that they are "demonstrably not universal" does not make it so.

In other words, please demonstrate.

Tlaloc said...

"In other words, please demonstrate."

Already done so in many other threads but I guess I can repeat myself. As above for a moral to be universal it would have to be held by every single person ever, without that it is clearly not universal. Since it is a historical fact that there is no moral question to which every culture would answer the same way we are left with two possibilities: (a) there are a great many cultures that require all their people to live in defiance of this universal morality, or (b) there is no universal morality.

If we choose (a) we still have a problem, namely now that we know that there are whole swaths of human beings that live not in accordance with this universal morality how do we know whether we are one of the ones in the right or the wrong? Of course most moralists aren't clear headed enough to reach this point so they don't realize they are tripping over the anthropic principle.

That is to say if you maintain that there are universal truths and that many people do not live by them then you lose all ability to say what those truths are because any attempt to define them will be based upon your prejudiced conception that you are of course right while everyone else is a pagan heathen who will burn in hell for not recognizing the sublimeness of your Truth (tm).

Is that clear then? You are inevitably compelled to answer either that there are no universal truths or that even if there are their might as well not be since we'll never know what they are. Or of course you can ignore the logic and steadfastly refuse to give up your perceptions of your own superiority (in this cases "you" refers to a hypothetical moralist).

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

"Since it is a historical fact that there is no moral question to which every culture would answer the same way..."

Here's one:

A soldier fleeing a battle in a war (and placing his/her battalion at risk) is frowned upon ... universally.

Tlaloc said...

"A soldier fleeing a battle in a war (and placing his/her battalion at risk) is frowned upon ... universally."

No it's not. I can posit endless scenarios to you where we'd agree it was justified.

consider a conscripted farmer sent to fight a war of agression against a neighboring country. Is he then wrong for fleeing a fight that doesn't protect his fellows and only serves the vain ambitions of petty tyrants?

Not so universal now is it?

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Hunter writes: "This was interesting because Tlaloc has generally thrown bombs at notions of foundational morality despite frequently engaging in moral argument."

Tlaloc responsds: "This is blatantly false. What I have argued is that any attempt to show a universal morality will fail precisely because morals vary quite a lot from place to place. However it is still quite possible to make rational moral arguments so long as you understand and accept that these arguments will only hold true for people who share your moral views with regard to the issue in question. Is that in anyway unclear?"

Clarity, apparently, is a virute of thought that Tlaloc believes his disputants ought to value even before he tries to discover if in fact they value it. Hmmm? In addition, Tlaloc seems troubled by what he thinks is a misrepresentation of his views. But how does he know that Hunter "values" correct representation? But even if Hunter did, why should Hunter have to obey that value, unless there is a meta-norm that says, "One ought to obey the values that one values." But suppose I don't value the value that "one ought to obey the values that one values." Should I value that?

Also, it is odd to say that one can only offer a rational argument to one who already shares one's moral views. But I don't share the moral view that one can only offer a rational argument to one who already shares my moral views. So, on the very grounds that Tlaloc offers to defend his position, I am justified in rejecting it.

Tlaloc said...

"Clarity, apparently, is a virute of thought that Tlaloc believes his disputants ought to value even before he tries to discover if in fact they value it."

Francis please. Clarity is an aspect of communication. It's not a moral judgement. SOmeone is not evil for lack clarity, they are simply possessed of sloppy thought patterns. Your post is a prime example. Not every judgement is made based on moral grounds. Practicality, aesthetics, rationality, these all have a place at the bench.



"In addition, Tlaloc seems troubled by what he thinks is a misrepresentation of his views. But how does he know that Hunter "values" correct representation?"

I don't although I suspect as much. If hunter would like to openly declare that he believes it is right for him to write things that are obviously wrong that's fine, but it doesn't change the fact that I feel like correcting him. Again you are pretending that a universal moral judgement has been made when it simply isn't the case. It doesn't matter whether Hunter feels it's okay to lie, I feel it's quite fine to correct lies and mistakes and I'm the one whose writing you are examining.



"Also, it is odd to say that one can only offer a rational argument to one who already shares one's moral views."

No that's not what I said I said you can offer a moral argument to someone who shares your morals and its rational to fdo so. That's not the same as an argument based on rational reasoning which is functional only among those capable of reasoning rationally.



"So, on the very grounds that Tlaloc offers to defend his position, I am justified in rejecting it."

You have a long ways to go before you can even understand the position much less effectively reject it Francis. I'll help you if you want to learn but first you have to accept that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Your mistakes above prove that.

Kathy Hutchins said...

The notion that universal values could only exist if everyone everywhere held them is philosophically incoherent. Humans are imperfect, humans lack full knowledge, humans exist in a state in which the intellect, the will, and the baser passions do constant internal battle. No serious moral thinker anywhere would, or ever has, to my knowledge, started from Tlaloc's premise.

A universal moral code, in the absence of divine revelation, can still be ascertained by reference to man's essential nature, how he must act and refrain from acting in order to thrive. Just because different people come to different conclusions about how that is accomplished does not mean that there is no answer to the question, any more than the variety of answers provided by a 2nd grade class when asked "How much is 7 times 8" a refutation of arithmetic.

Tlaloc said...

"The notion that universal values could only exist if everyone everywhere held them is philosophically incoherent. Humans are imperfect, humans lack full knowledge, humans exist in a state in which the intellect, the will, and the baser passions do constant internal battle."

I should have suspected you'd mix up the difference between everyone having the same moral code and everyone adhering to that code. There is a difference between saying there is a universal morality and saying that people are universally perfect in following that universal morality. I can elaborate if you are still having trouble understanding.



"A universal moral code, in the absence of divine revelation, can still be ascertained by reference to man's essential nature, how he must act and refrain from acting in order to thrive."

That's pragmatism Kathy darling, nothing more. And of course it begs the question "thrive in what sense." Hopefully you see how choosing such a swamp like foundation for your "universal" moral code means you are doomed to fail from the outset.



"Just because different people come to different conclusions about how that is accomplished does not mean that there is no answer to the question, any more than the variety of answers provided by a 2nd grade class when asked "How much is 7 times 8" a refutation of arithmetic."

Actually it does refute it for the very reasons I gave above. Unlike arithmatic which is objective and easily provable morals are subjective and exist only as internal evaluations. If those internal evaluations do not equal each other then your universal morality is a sham.


But what the hell I'll play along. So tell me Kathy what exactly are the rules of your universal morality based on pragmatism?

Tlaloc said...

Just have to repeat this part for Kathy so maybe it'll sink in this time:

If we choose (a) we still have a problem, namely now that we know that there are whole swaths of human beings that live not in accordance with this universal morality how do we know whether we are one of the ones in the right or the wrong? Of course most moralists aren't clear headed enough to reach this point so they don't realize they are tripping over the anthropic principle.

That is to say if you maintain that there are universal truths and that many people do not live by them then you lose all ability to say what those truths are because any attempt to define them will be based upon your prejudiced conception that you are of course right while everyone else is a pagan heathen who will burn in hell for not recognizing the sublimeness of your Truth (tm).

Hunter Baker said...

T, I appreciate you engaging this question, but I think you misunderstand the nature of what we mean by a universal moral value.

I've just very quickly caught up on this thread after a busy day, but you seem to be repeating that a universal moral value can't be because some people disagree or hold different values.

What we mean is that a value is universal because it is true, not because some person may not agree. For instance, 2+2=4 is true regardless of whether someone disagrees.

Now, don't fly off the handle and say that morals aren't like numbers. You never dealt with the meat of this post. Show me how it would be right for anyone to do the things you criticized as regards the tobacco companies. If you and I agree those things are not praiseworthy or good and we can further agree that it has to do with lying and hurting others, then we are probably discovering or reaffirming universal moral values.

In addition, you said I misrepresented you by saying you have thrown bombs at foundational morality. That is not "blatantly false" as you say. You have disputed any foundation for moral values consistently. You may be changing position and don't realize it.

Hunter Baker said...

Here's something else that's important, T: if you are saying you agree moral truths are discoverable by reason, then you are merely affirming what natural law theorists have long said.

Tlaloc said...

"What we mean is that a value is universal because it is true, not because some person may not agree."

But what does true mean Hunter? True for you? True for all?

Morals are not statements that can be compared to reality by a panel of judges. "The ball is red" is a statement we can evaluate to be true or false based on a common definition of what constitutes "red." On the other hand "It's wrong to hit someone with a red ball" is not something we can evaluate objectively. It is not a true or false statement. The true or false statement is "I believe hitting someone with the red ball is wrong" or "you believe hitting someone with the red ball is wrong."

For a moral to be true for all and hence universal it must be held by all, a moral is only ever "true" when a person believes it. There is absolutely no other measuring stick by which to say it is true or false. Hence you come to my premise: a universal moral is one held by all.



"If you and I agree those things are not praiseworthy or good and we can further agree that it has to do with lying and hurting others, then we are probably discovering or reaffirming universal moral values."

No we are affirming SHARED values. And that's hardly surprising afterall we live in the same country at the same time, it's to be expected that much of our individual moral codes will coincide. However put those same questions of whether it's okay to make a profit at the expense of human lives to a slaver or plantation owner in the 1800s and you'd get a very different reaction (presuming you can get them to consider blacks to be human). Different time, same country and you get entirely different values.



"In addition, you said I misrepresented you by saying you have thrown bombs at foundational morality. That is not "blatantly false" as you say. You have disputed any foundation for moral values consistently. You may be changing position and don't realize it."

Perhaps I misunderstand what you mean by "foundational" morality then. I have only ever said that pretentions of universal morality are flase. I have not claimed unless by accident that all moral foundations are flase. After all I have been arguing for one unshakable moral foundation: individual belief. Obviously then I do believe in morals, indeed believe strongly in them, I just recognize that they vary from person to person.

Tlaloc said...

apparently I can't spell "false."

hatred of typos must be a universal moral if any exist.

Tlaloc said...

"Here's something else that's important, T: if you are saying you agree moral truths are discoverable by reason, then you are merely affirming what natural law theorists have long said."

I'm emphatically not saying that. Although since some of the arguments above are in the voice of a hypothetical moralist trying to support his position it may have sounded that way.

Reason is a wonderful thing and it is a great boon to humanity but it cannot disect the tangled knot of moral evaluations like alexander cutting the gordian knot. We are left to pull at the strands of our own morals and to feel them out and ultimately to realize for ourselves what we personally believe.

Tlaloc said...

why do the interesting threads always have to start at the end of my work week. Ah well I may have to pop by tomorrow anyway and break my general rule of "no blogging from home."

Hunter Baker said...

Interesting responses, T. You are an oak, as Doc said to Wyatt. Nevertheless, I can't help but think you may be untrue to yourself in your thinking. In the passion of your responses, it is clear you think the tobacco companies are wrong in what they do. You have also many times said you think other actions are wrong. Presumably, you would support action to right some of these wrongs. How to support penalties, punishments, and/or reform other than to say that your values are superior to those you criticize? And if your values are superior, then does it not follow that there is a right and a wrong. A right and a wrong that go right down to the ground, as it were?

Kathy Hutchins said...

I should have suspected you'd mix up the difference between everyone having the same moral code and everyone adhering to that code. There is a difference between saying there is a universal morality and saying that people are universally perfect in following that universal morality.

The failing of humans do not just extend to failing to live up to the moral code that they agree upon. They can also fail to use their human faculties to correctly discern what constitutes the moral code. It is for the second reason that a failure for all to agree on what is moral does not preclude the existence of universal morals.

Here is an example: I believe it is wrong to speak and write in ways that demean the human dignity of others. It is wrong to belittle, to insult, to patronize: wrong, in sum, to speak to another in a way which one would resent. I know it is wrong both through revelation (both because it is a species of violation of the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill", and because Christ Himself warned that: 'whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.') and through reasoning about the nature of humans as beings living in common, worthy of respect, and so on.

Now, as I'm sure everyone here has noticed, I often fail to live up to this standard. I get mad. I fall victim to pride. I tell myself "It will actually be good for this guy to be insulted. It'll bring him to his senses." I am always sorry afterwards. And then I do it again.

However: the very same failings that lead me to verbally abuse people even when I know it's wrong could have led me instead to believe that verbally abusing people is just fine, in fact it might be my moral duty to do so. My pride could have led my reason astray so that I believed that I was mentally and morally superior to other people, it was my duty to correct them, they were too stupid to listen to reason and too coarse to respond to gentle reproof, and that therefore my only tool was to undermine their self-dignity. I would still be wrong. It does not become right for me to abuse other people just because I believe it's OK. It's not right even if I live in a society where everyone thinks it's OK.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Wow ... I go to football practice and when I get back there are posts galore!

I feel as though we are ganging up on Tlaloc ... but I must admit that he is a trooper.

I also feel it necessary to peck one more time where I ended yesterday:

CLA said: "A soldier fleeing a battle in a war (and placing his/her battalion at risk) is frowned upon ... universally."

Tlaloc replied: "No it's not. I can posit endless scenarios to you where we'd agree it was justified."


You are helping make my point in two ways:

1) You said that fleeing a battle can be "justified". This implies that the universal code would be to NOT flee, unless it can be justified. The justification is simply the facts of the case and not the moral code itslef.

Take the Iraq war, for example:

If the facts stated that Sadaam had WMD's and was directly threatening the USA, then there would be moral justification for going to war.

If the facts stated otherwise then the moral argument would be tough to justify.

Either way, the moral argument is the same.


2) You state the "we'd agree" about the justification.

This implies that, in the case of two people debating, that there is a single Truth to be achieved.


It is my humble opinion, that you are drawing your conclusions regarding the abscence of a universal moral code by applying one yourself.

Hunter Baker said...

I also think that whether T acknowledges it or not, the real effect of his beliefs is virtually the same as a true foundationalist through and through. A person with his stated philosophical views normally comes across as a Holmesian legal positivist, but T doesn't go there at all. He argues very much more as though he were a natural law theorist, albeit a natural law theorist of the left.

Tlaloc said...

"In the passion of your responses, it is clear you think the tobacco companies are wrong in what they do. You have also many times said you think other actions are wrong."

Certainly. I think these actions are wrong and I oppose them. I do not however believe that everyone will think they are wrong. ALthough to make even more complicated let me point out that I suspect the vast majority of those living in this place and time will agree it's wrong to kill people for money once they are forced to confront that that is what is actually going on.

There are a number of issues here that are difficult: individual morality, shared elements of that morality among people of a culture, astute observation of the situation so as to judge it accurately according to your morals.

So in this case I study the situation and determine that something I think is wrong is happening. When we discuss it I discover that you see the situation differently but that observations seems based upon a personal illusion on your part and so I try to show the illusion to be false. If that happens successfully I suspect that seeing the situation as it is you will regard it as unacceptable as well because both of us most likely share many core values (again because these values are influenced by the culture we are both a part of). If however it turns out that you have a very different evaluation of the morals once the situation is plainly seen then we are at an impasse. Unless of course I can find an argument based upon something besides morals (pragmatism for instance).

Tlaloc said...

"The failing of humans do not just extend to failing to live up to the moral code that they agree upon. They can also fail to use their human faculties to correctly discern what constitutes the moral code. It is for the second reason that a failure for all to agree on what is moral does not preclude the existence of universal morals."

A better argment but it still fails because it requires not that just individuals but that entire cultures of humanity have failed to discover these universal morals. At some point you have to sit down and ask "is it more likely that I just happened to be born into the only culture to have ever gotten these universal morals right or am I just being shallow and egocentric?" It's called the anthropic principle and like I said you keep stumbling over it.



"1) You said that fleeing a battle can be "justified". This implies that the universal code would be to NOT flee, unless it can be justified. The justification is simply the facts of the case and not the moral code itslef."

Perhaps a poor choice of terms. The point is that for your supposed universal moral there are indeed a variety of different views. Jains and the Amish, and the Quakers are three examples from modern time of people who feel it would seem to be fine with running away from a fight. Indeed any pacifist would.



"You state the "we'd agree" about the justification. This implies that, in the case of two people debating, that there is a single Truth to be achieved."

No it just means I can give you a compelling argument that there are those who'd give different answers (assuming of course you are open to hearing it). This isn't saying that there is a single truth as far as morals but as far as a situation. It is a truth that Jains claim to be pacifists and assuming they do indeed follow the beliefs they claim then they'd answer your dilemma differently than a neo-conservative hawk. That is a truth, as in an accurate observation, but not a moral truth.

Tlaloc said...

"I also think that whether T acknowledges it or not, the real effect of his beliefs is virtually the same as a true foundationalist through and through."

You'd have to explore this thought more before I could speak to it.

Hunter Baker said...

The pacifist who flees a battle does have a compelling justification. He either thinks that any violence is wrong and thus flees or he thinks God has commanded him to flee. Both are powerful justifications. The issue CLA was reaching was that the person who flees for a selfish reason, such as cowardice, and leaves his fellows to fight is seen as immoral by any culture we dig up.

To address something different, you asked about my comment about foundationalism vs. positivism. A foundationalist believes there is a ground to what he believes, either in reason (of the natural law sort), religion, etc. and thus insists that his point of view is the right one. A positivist would hold that laws are purely social constructions with no morality behind them. Instead, laws merely reflect the opinions of lawgivers. Justice is not a concern, just the science of state coercion to achieve the most desirable results.

You, T, argue much more like a foundationalist than like a positivist. It would seem you really do believe in something called justice and that is not merely a social construction.

Tlaloc said...

"The issue CLA was reaching was that the person who flees for a selfish reason, such as cowardice, and leaves his fellows to fight is seen as immoral by any culture we dig up."

Then consider the philosophies of Ayn Rand in which the individual is of paramount importance. She felt selfishness was a perfectly valid and reasonable way to act. She also felt it was unacceptable to ask the individual to sacrifice themselves for the group. Obviously according to her beleifes (which are popular among a surprisingly large number of your conservative fellows) the soldier is quite right to flee.

Again, I promise you there is no moral situation we can posit for whom there are not some who would answer different than others.



"You, T, argue much more like a foundationalist than like a positivist."

I think it would be more accurate to see what I am arguing as something of a combination. The foundational aspect is the vision that a given moral view is "founded" by the point of view of the individual holding them. However unlike the foundationalist this doesn't lead to the fallay of "my views are right unlike everyone elses." Instead it comes to the somewhat positivist view that all morals are effectively equal in so much as they are all valid for the person holding them and invalid for everyone else.


This is the best analogy I can think of:

In physics its well understood by the first year that there are an infinite number of ways to mathematically describe a given physical situation by choosing what inertian frame of reference (FoR) you wish.

For example in the case of a train passing a stopped car we can write the equations describing it using the car as still and the train moving or vice versa. Or we can write them using an ant nearby as the inertial origin point and have th car slowly crawling away and the train zipping by. There are an infinite number of choices and so long as you correctly write the equations for a given foR they are perfectly valid. However if you take the equation for the train's position from one FoR and translate it to another it will be wrong. They are consistent but only internally.

So then when we describe a moral situation we can choose any one of an infinite number of point of Views (PoV). The moral description is perfectly accurate so long as we only use the "rules" (morals) based on our chosen PoV.

The issue as always is egocentricism. When we stand and watch the train speed by we think of it in terms of us standing still. When we see the moral situation we again default to our PoV. While this is perfectly fine we are remiss if we don't recognize that there are an INFINITE number of other ways to see the same situation and everyone one of them is true.

If something as simple as a train moving by a car has an infinite number of FoRs then it's ridiculous to think a moral situation has one correct answer for everyone.

Hunter Baker said...

This is a fascinating analogy and I thank you for sharing it. But it still seems that despite the many "internal consistencies," there is still a reality outside the equations. The train is moving and the car is standing still.

Tlaloc said...

"But it still seems that despite the many "internal consistencies," there is still a reality outside the equations. The train is moving and the car is standing still."

The car is standing still? Are you sure? It seems that way because we tend to assume the earth is an inertial reference frame but when we think about we both know of course that the earth is moving.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Regardless of the FoR, the relative position (velocity, acceleration) between the train and the car are identical.

See, by using a variety of FoR for the physics problem, you are merely confounding the problem.

What the different observers "see" is the exact same phenomena (the relative motion between the car and train) but through a "filter" which is their own FoR.

Again, you have made many arguments against a universal moral code, but each and every one of them is merely arguing the facts of the case (ie, the different PoV ... not knowing all of the facts) and not the fundamental moral.

Tlaloc said...

"Regardless of the FoR, the relative position (velocity, acceleration) between the train and the car are identical."

Indeed and in the analogy that is the situation being viewed. Two people view an incident, the same incident but when the describe that incident (even if only in their own memory of it) they do so from their own frame of reference and so the two accounts may seem contradictory.

Similarly if you and I witness a revolution we each evaluate the incident by our own point of view and come to different but equally valid moral judgements. The event was the event but an event has no moral aspect. It's only when an event is observed that morality comes into play because morality is a function of the human mind.



"Again, you have made many arguments against a universal moral code, but each and every one of them is merely arguing the facts of the case (ie, the different PoV ... not knowing all of the facts) and not the fundamental moral."

That's because there is no fundamental moral. Morals cannot exist outside of sentient thought, it's an oxymoron. Since reality itself has no thought reality has no morals. Morals are confined to the area within our skulls.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

"Similarly if you and I witness a revolution we each evaluate the incident by our own point of view and come to different but equally valid moral judgements."

Yes ... and each of us fits into one of the following camps:

1) we are only getting some of the facts;
2) we are ignoring facts that are inconvenient to our preconcieved notions;
3) we are humans and we are being disingenuous.

Why are we even discussing this? I mean, seriously, you are trying to convince me that you are right ... correct?

Your argument is, "there is no universal right/wrong, and doggone it I am right about it."

Seems kinda silly.

Tlaloc said...

"Why are we even discussing this? I mean, seriously, you are trying to convince me that you are right ... correct?
Your argument is, "there is no universal right/wrong, and doggone it I am right about it."
Seems kinda silly."

It seems silly because you are getting it wrong. Listen closely. There is no universal MORAL right and wrong. That's totally different than saying there are no right and wrongs.

As I said before we can both view a ball and using a shared definition of red (light within a certain wavelength band) say the ball is red or not red and be 100% accurate. That's not a moral question. It's a factual one. There is a right answer and a wrong answer to the question "what year did columbus land in the americas?" There is NOT a right answer to the question "was it right for Columbus to sail to the New World?" That's a moral issue, a moral question, and hence there is no one right answer.

So here then is what I'm saying:
"There are no universal moral absolutes."

Is that statement a moral absolute in and of itself? No. It makes no judgements about a right or a wrong, it is simply an observation of the constraints that morals operate under.