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Does relativism provide excuse for any and every action?
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McCulloch Offline
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Tue Oct 09, 2007 11:22 am  Does relativism provide excuse for any and every action? Reply

MikeH wrote:
[...] relativism provides excuse for any and every action.


McCulloch wrote:
Does it really? Or is this just the strawman version of moral relativism often put forward by absolutists?


MikeH wrote:
No, it really does. By definition, it has to.


Definitions:
rel·a·tiv·ism (rěl'ə-tĭ-vĭz'əm)
n. Philosophy
A theory, especially in ethics or aesthetics, that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.

See: Moral Relativism at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Quote:
Moral relativism has the unusual distinction — both within philosophy and outside it — of being attributed to others, almost always as a criticism, far more often than it is explicitly professed by anyone.
Thus it seems that many criticisms of moral relativism are in essence strawman arguments.
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Tue Oct 09, 2007 11:58 am   Reply

It seems to me that morality is a kind of inertia and because its generated by a vast number of components it seems rather solid and absolute. But given a much broader perspective we do see relative shifts -- although we rarely get far enough out in time and space to notice them happening. Relativism doesn't deny the existence of the inertia, it's a consequence of it. As such it can be recognized and respected in it's own rights. So no, it's nothing like an excuse for any and every action.
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:39 am   Reply

For 'relativism', there is abundant evidence throughout 'history'.
For 'absolutism/objectivity', there is none. It is no more than a 'belief'.. unsupportable by evidence.
'Excuse' is such a judgement laden subjective term that I cannot respond to it. (Mommy calls it an 'excuse', Timmy thinks of it as a 'reason'...)
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Fisherking 
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:58 am  Re: Does relativism provide excuse for any and every action? Reply

MikeH wrote:
[...] relativism provides excuse for any and every action.


MikeH wrote:
No, it really does. By definition, it has to.


Quote:
Definitions:
rel·a·tiv·ism (rěl'ə-tĭ-vĭz'əm)
n. Philosophy
A theory, especially in ethics or aesthetics, that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.


.........."relative to the persons or groups holding them". It might not provide an excuse for every action, but all one needs to do is find a group or person that holds the same truth or moral value. The chances are that a person or group somewhere, present or past, holds the same truth or value.
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:31 am  Re: Does relativism provide excuse for any and every action? Reply

Fisherking wrote:
.........."relative to the persons or groups holding them". It might not provide an excuse for every action, but all one needs to do is find a group or person that holds the same truth or moral value. The chances are that a person or group somewhere, present or past, holds the same truth or value.


But this is the essence of the strawman argument. I cannot live by the moral values of the Vikings because I do not live in Viking society. There are actions which might have been acceptable in Viking society that are not allowed in the society that I live in. So, moral relativism does not justify or provide an excuse for me to do such things, does it?
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Fisherking 
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Wed Oct 10, 2007 1:41 pm  Re: Does relativism provide excuse for any and every action? Reply

McCulloch wrote:
Fisherking wrote:
.........."relative to the persons or groups holding them". It might not provide an excuse for every action, but all one needs to do is find a group or person that holds the same truth or moral value. The chances are that a person or group somewhere, present or past, holds the same truth or value.


But this is the essence of the strawman argument. I cannot live by the moral values of the Vikings because I do not live in Viking society. There are actions which might have been acceptable in Viking society that are not allowed in the society that I live in. So, moral relativism does not justify or provide an excuse for me to do such things, does it?
Why should you live by any societies moral values? You are a person, they are people, you have your opinion of what is acceptable, they have theirs. If the society you live in says something you are doing is not acceptable, so what? There is no right way or wrong way because your morals are relative to theirs, and theirs to yours. If they claim your behavior is unacceptable, you simply cite a far more civilized societies (group of people) that do allow it and wala, you have a great excuse that is logically consistent with relativism.
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 7: Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:31 pm  Re: Does relativism provide excuse for any and every action? Reply

Fisherking wrote:
Why should you live by any societies moral values? You are a person, they are people, you have your opinion of what is acceptable, they have theirs. If the society you live in says something you are doing is not acceptable, so what? There is no right way or wrong way because your morals are relative to theirs, and theirs to yours. If they claim your behavior is unacceptable, you simply cite a far more civilized societies (group of people) that do allow it and wala, you have a great excuse that is logically consistent with relativism.


Sure. And you can probably get away with that for a while. But you're not on an island. Your actions ripple out into the society and that society sends its ripples back to you. How long can that society persist with a set of relative morals that cause harm to its members? I think you are looking at this kind of problem with a way-too narrow focus. An individual will have much greater freedom than a society that's been around a while. I think you may not have considered that a society of individuals has its own lifespan and personality. Let me put it another way: "Everything goes" may work at the level of an individual, but not at the level of a society.
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 8: Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:52 pm  Re: Does relativism provide excuse for any and every action? Reply

Fisherking wrote:
Why should you live by any societies moral values? You are a person, they are people, you have your opinion of what is acceptable, they have theirs.
In case you have not noticed, humans, like many other species, are a social animal. To survive, we must be part of a group of other humans. To ignore the moral values of the society that I live in, is to reduce significantly my chances of survival.

Fisherking wrote:
If the society you live in says something you are doing is not acceptable, so what? There is no right way or wrong way because your morals are relative to theirs, and theirs to yours.
There are a few who hold to this strawman version of moral relativity. They have either died or changed.
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Fisherking 
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 9: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:52 pm  Re: Does relativism provide excuse for any and every action? Reply

QED wrote:
"Everything goes" may work at the level of an individual, but not at the level of a society.
A society is composed of individuals.
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 10: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:59 pm  Re: Does relativism provide excuse for any and every action? Reply

Fisherking wrote:
QED wrote:
"Everything goes" may work at the level of an individual, but not at the level of a society.
A society is composed of individuals.


Yes it is. However, 'no man is an island'. Man is a social animal that depends on other individuals. If I go against the mainstream, in such a way that the mainstream views I harm society, they will be willing to inflict 'punishment' on me.

So, it is in my best interests not to be punished, and therefore follow the rules of society. .. unless i can get away with it. The 'morals' of the time can change, as the beliefs of the individuals change, over time.

Back in the day, you would never see interracial couples holding hands up and down the street in the area where I grew up.

It is common now. The morality changed. It was socially unacceptable, now it is socially acceptable.
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