The Tanager wrote:
Absolute vs. situational is a sub-issue concerning objectivism. The absolutist would say X is good or bad for everyone (and thus objectivism) no matter the situation. The situationalist would say X is good or bad for everyone but qualified by the situation.
In terms of logical objectivity I don't see any difference between these two moral positions.
Your descriptions from the OP:
- The absolutist would say X is good or bad for everyone (and thus objectivism) no matter the situation.
- The situationalist would say X is good or bad for everyone but qualified by the situation.
Let me take these one at a time and explain why they are both ideas of absolute
The absolutist would say X is good or bad for everyone (and thus objectivism) no matter the situation.
You appear to have no problem recognizing this as an absolute system of morality. There could exist some absolute and "objective
" moral logical formalism existing in some imagined Platonic world. And therefore this simple moral system appears to be carved in stone and easy to grasp.
Let's take X to be "Bad" then we have the following:
Anyone who commits the act of X has done an immoral act. Therefore they have committed an immoral action. If we also allow that their actions determine their moral status, then we can also say that the person is immoral for having committed these acts.
Let's take Y to be "Good" then we have the following:
Anyone who commits the act of Y has done an moral act. Therefore they have committed to a moral action. If we also allow that their actions determine their moral status, then we can also say that the person is moral for having committed these acts.
That's pretty simply and straight-forward. This could easily be carved in an objective stone in a Platonic world and become the basis for absolute objective morality.
Now what about Situationalism?
The situationalist would say X is good or bad for everyone but qualified by the situation.
The next question to ask is whether this could be carved in stone as an objective absolute law of morality in an imagined Platonic World?
The answer is yes, it can be carved in stone to be an absolute moral formalism.
Well, don't we need to be consistent when qualifying by a situation?
That's the important question. If we aren't consistent when qualifying the situations then we don't have a meaningful system of morality.
So now, we're right back to Absolutism where we were before.
Let X = the moral situation where lying to save someone's life is immoral.
Then if a person lies to save someone's life they have indeed committed an immoral act. Whether they agree with this or not is irrelevant. Remember, we're talking about Situationalism here and not Subjectivism. So what any individual person might subjectively think about this cannot change it. If you lie to save someone's life then even in this Situational moral system you have committed an immoral act, whether you agree with this or not. Your subjective opinion does not matter.
Now Let Y = the moral situation where lying to save someone's life is moral
Again this is based on the situation. So it's Situational moralism. However, this can still be objectively carved into stone in the Platonic World. Now anyone who lies to save someone's life has committed to a moral action rather than an immoral action.
So as you see, even situational moralism is absolute.
The only way you could free it from being absolute is to allow that whether X or Y is moral or immoral is up to the opinion of the people who choose to lie or not lie in this situation. But then you have moved from just being situational to also being dependent on subjective opinion.
Absolute Subjectivism -
As strange as it may seem we can even carve subjective opinionism into stone as an absolute objective morality in an imagined Platonic world.
All we need to do is write up the rules to say that whatever a person sincerely believes to be a moral action, is indeed a moral action, and whatever a person does that they believe to be an immoral action is indeed an immoral action.
Now we have a way to even judge subjective moral opinions based on an absolute objective moral system that can be carved in stone in a Platonic World.
All we need to do is determine whether a person's actions are based on what they truly believe to be moral or immoral actions.
And we can philosophically imagine little minions who watch every thought that humans make so they can decide whether the human sincerely believed their actions to be moral or immoral.
So as strange as it may seem even a purely subjective morality could be carved in stone in an absolute objective imagined Platonic world.
It all comes down to how we choose to define this absolute moral code that we crave into the Platonic Stone.
Even a pure subjective opinionated morality can be carved into an absolute objective moral rock. It can simply be made dependent on how sincere the person holding the opinion is. If they are sincere, their opinion stands. If they are insincere their opinion falls. And in this case the only "true immorality" would to simply be to do anything that a person sincerely believes to be wrong.
In this way we can even create our own moral judgements upon ourselves. And some theists (especially in Easter Religions) actually believe that this is indeed the way things are.
But please note, we aren't permitted to lie to ourselves and pretend that we think something is moral when in the core of our being we know it isn't true. So we can't just make up our own moral ideals. We need to sincerely believe them.
Some Christian theists have even argued that this is in harmony with Christian beliefs, because they just toss in the addition premise that God "writes upon our hearts" what's absolutely moral or immoral. Therefore they claim that if we always follow our hearts sincerely will will always do the right thing.
Why Philosophy is Dead as a Tool for Seeking Truth -
Just as an aside about Philosophy in general .
This is the problem with philosophy. Basically anything goes!
You can always dream up a logical scenario that will fit whatever you're trying to create by simply manipulating your premises, and adding conditions like an imaginary God writing moral laws on the hearts of men, etc.
This is why Stephen Hawking proclaimed philosophy to be "dead" in terms of being a tool that could ever lead to any objective truth.
The reason should be obvious. You can simply manipulate your premises and assumptions however you like to create a logically sounds philosophical system that describes whatever it is you'd like to describe.
How can that ever lead us to truth, unless the truth is that "Anything Goes