Polytheism and monotheism

Does God exist? Is Allah God? Creation vs. evolution.
Is Religion needed? Logic vs. faith. Morality and ethics.
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CuteCoot
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by CuteCoot »

IoshkaFutz wrote:I think you've forgotten something. It's not about me being part of a community of believers, numerous and powerful as it might be. It's about the physcist not being part of any community, not having any shared transcendental beliefs, not considering anything sacred. He's alone.
Some confusion has arisen in your scenario as you have pictured first Hux and then yourself addressing the man. This might be a literal address and it might be figurative, that is, you are the voices of his conscience. In either case, you both represent or speak for a community. There is no way that this man is truly alone in terms of his occupancy of a moral sphere.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death. It's instead highly likely that people have no love (shall we call it "attachment"?) for any living thing and no belief in anything except oblivion.
Suicide has only very partial relevancy to this situation. Many suicides (especially those notorious Islamic ones) have a purpose in mind. They have made their own moral decision that their individual life matters less than the cause they are promoting. Even the very ordinary day-to-day suicide is a "mediation" (as Hux puts it) between the individual's life interest and a number of other interests. For example, a teenager's desire to mortify his parents might trump his desire to stay alive. It simply does not follow that a suicide hates all of life and has no interest in how they will be seen once dead.
The next angle would probably describe him as "sick."...
In your scenario that would not seem to be the case. The guy is simply seeing his "cause" (conducting a science experiment) as having greater value than life on earth. Here in Australia a new book has been published recently on the character of the Port Arthur murderer and the old questions raised: was his apparently complete lack of moral development a consequence of a defect from birth or of a failure in his environment? We do still ask whether this man was "sick" (defective beyond his own responsibility) or "evil" (freely choosing to hurt and kill).

However, whether this man was sick-from-the-start, made-sick-by-circumstances, evil-from-the-start or freely-choosing-evil, none of this matters. We all - rightly - make the moral judgment about his actions that they were immoral or wrong or evil or whatever similar word you want to use. And we don't need any God to tell us which is the right judgment here. Atheist or theist, we all agree on the wrongness of the acts.

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

Sorry Huxley, but in order to compete, there must be contact, interplay. In this scenario, excluding God, there are no second or third parties.

Repeat: it's just Howard Smith. He's got the whole world in his hands. It's all up to him.

Image

The World (the dog) doesn't know and not knowing, the world doesn't care about Howard Smith (the gun). Knowing it WOULD care. Not knowing, it is of no concern. This isn't like the cold war. It's not like any war. It's a super-secret experiment.

Now you say: "Moral systems are created for the purpose of codifying the balance between competing interests."

Where is the balance here? Where are the competing interests if there is no competition? It is a totally unbalanced situation. If there's any competition it is all in the mind of Howard Smith. Should I, shouldn't I? Do I feel empathy or don't I? Do I love the world or don't I.

For God's sake it's entirely up to him. Unfortunately, what the rest of the world thinks doesn't matter a whit. As a matter of fact, if the experiment goes as planned, they won't even have time to think... At most there might be a couple of seconds of screaming, but more likely just: Licht AUS kaput!

The people have no clue. They want to live, I'm sure. That's not in question, but their desire to live is not in any way in the balance. Just as the desire of the micro-organisms in my garden were in no way in the balance when I potted a few plants today. They too are programmed to live or to want to live, but they were at my complete mercy. It was entirely up to me to leave them alone or uproot them. All talk of balance, competing interests, codified balances between competing systems is nonsense.

Yes, talk of "balance" in this scenario is absurd. It presupposes survival of at least some thinking minds. There won't be any balance, so balance schmalance. There will be a planet missing from our solar system. Planet earth.

At this point it can only be about good and evil, plain and simple. Howard Smith calls all the shots. Like a Roman Emperor it's either thumbs up or thumbs down. Unlike a Roman Emperor he has no crowd to please.

YOU SAY: "Moral systems are created for the purpose of codifying the balance between competing interests."

"Codifying" just means to organize or collect together (laws, rules, procedures, etc.) into a system or a code.

Okay So go ahead and codify this BRAND NEW, unexpected, unknown and irrepetable situation if it makes you happy.

On the other hand, I'm hardly the first person to have imagined this doomsday scenario. Shall we pass a law? "All destroyers of Planet Earth will be punished to the fullest extent of the surviving law!"

So even talking about law is nonsense. Law itself requires survival.

And anyway, law is not morality. Half the laws on the books are idiotic. They're man-made, like for you, God is man-made. Rationally speaking, they're only as good and "real" as they are enforceable.

What's about to happen is not about systems, balance, competition or law. It's the use (or not) of absolute and unilateral power. With the only other possible interlocutor: GOD. The Transcendental.

The mediation of which I speak has already (in this scenario) taken place, and the result of that mediation is the moral conclusion that the interest of the rest of the world in living has a higher moral priority than his interest in conducting his experiment.

It has not happened. You're talking about another scenario. You forget that in this scenario, the world's interest in living is entirely Howard Smith's evalualtion of it. It could be no different in this scenario.

He is like someone disgusted with FFI, going CLICK with his mouse to cancel FFI from his bookmarks. He is like someone disgusted with the virtual world, bashing his router. His evaluation of FFF or his evaluation of virtual reality is such that he can unilaterally do away with them regardless of all his facebook buddies or debating partners. Howard Smith took it to a higher level.

And anyway, there is no talk of empathy, nothing at all normative in your definitions of morality. You merely describe it as a process.

So it's entirely between Howard Smith and himself. How can you deny this? It's simple logic.

We may only hope that he has a sense of another Community.

But now let's take it to the next level. Open that secret link and say something to Howard Smith. The clock is ticking.

With the secret untraceable link at last you can mediate. What will you tell him?

You're the consistent one, so go ahead and tell him:

"You know Howard old chap: Outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions... And yes, by the way, while you're mulling on that profound truth, also chew on this: Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community. And you know what else? Moral systems are created for the purpose of codifying the balance between competing interests!"

That'll work great. Those three bits of information are just what the situation calls for.

And what will a grateful Howard answer?

Jeeze, thank you Huxley. I figured I'd hear the usual religious stuff about compassion, feeling the pain of others and understanding what an amazing gift the world is and how precious life is. Instead you really made me want to pull my hands off the switch, by making sense of it all.

Now morality is very clear. I was going to end the world for the 2 seconds of personal satisfaction before my death. But now I know about empathy and about something greater than knowledge: the value of life.

And Huxley responds:

"Wait a second Howard, I didn't say any of that stuff. How could you have come to such conclusions? I merely described how I think morality works, but didn't dare suggest any definition of what is actually moral.

Remember? I'm the one who said that morality has an "oughtness" to it because that is what we define morality to be; a system of "oughts."

Whether something is prescriptive or not depends only upon whether or not it has been prescribed, not whether it is true, valid or "ought" to be adhered to.

So if you destory the world, rest assured it's an immoral act. It does not matter if anybody else sees it coming. There's a law a "prescription" against it... That's all I told you dear Howard. Destroying the planet is against the law.

Droopy will come out of this scenario

Image

And arrest you.

Image

Yes, sir, whether something is prescriptive or not depends only upon whether or not it has been prescribed, not whether it is true, valid or "ought" to be adhered to. And there's a law against destroying the earth!
Last edited by IoshkaFutz on Mon May 04, 2009 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

Ciao Cutecoot,

I am not the voice of Howard's conscience. I, like the rest of humanity have no idea of what he's up to, I don't know that he exists. Obviously when I put words in his mouth it's just pour parler.

I was only interested in Huxley's definitions of morality in light of this extreme scenario of unilateral action. I take it for granted that he like most everyone doesn't want the destruction of the world. I wanted to see if the ultimate immoral act could be defined as immoral. So far, I've only seen it sorta vaguely defined as illegal.

"Whether something is prescriptive or not depends only upon whether or not it has been prescribed, not whether it is true, valid or "ought" to be adhered to."

I know which law was prescribed and broken. Which law - if only as a niggling doubt - might trouble Howard. It won't be a United Nation's resolution, but the one from the Big Maybe.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

IoshkaFutz wrote:Sorry Huxley, but in order to compete, there must be contact, interplay. In this scenario, excluding God, there are no second or third parties.
Your attempt to salvage this incoherent scenario is growing more desperate.

There is absolutely is contact and interplay between interests in your scenario. Just as there is contact and interplay between the bombed and the bombardier. Or the shooter and the shot. Smith's act will affect other people. The interests of Smith to perform his experiment is in competition with the interests of those people to not be killed. They are, through the affect of this choice, intimately in contact and interplay.

And it is the consensus of this community that determines whether his choice is immoral or moral. Unless you are bold enough to argue that the rest of the world has conceded that Smith should wipe them out, his decision to do so would be immoral.
IoshkaFutz wrote:Repeat: it's just Howard Smith. He's got the whole world in his hands. It's all up to him.
And there you have defined the community within which Howard Smith acts. Him and the whole world that is in his hands.

Again... Ioshka. This is not complicated.
The moral absolutist has no doubt concerning the righteousness of the blood on their blade.

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

sword_of_truth wrote:Basically, Ioksha's argument is that if we strip away all other things except the concept of God, then the only thing left that can save us from the immoral is the concept of God.

In that case, if we strip away every other criteria, except MY subjective moral criteria, it is the only thing that can save us from the immoral, and I can also declare the superiority of my moral system, using this logic.

Is it just me or is this just one gigantic example of special-pleading?
I fail to see the connection. It was just one scenario. In normal affairs, there are many things that can save us from the immoral... In this extreme scenario, I just wanted to explore if one could define the purposeful and wanton destruction of the world and all life for the sake of knowledge as IMMORAL, figuring that such a thing would be automatically, (almost unthinkingly accepted as such). What would be the final restraint?

It is not my subjective criteria, but subjective criteria per se as opposed to objective criteria (even if downgraded to niggling doubt / Big Maybe) which interests me. Howard's got only that.

The secret, untraceable link is where the real interesting stuff would be, because it would per force tend to be religious. Huxley's disquisitions about morality "the process" would ring hollow. EVERY subjective consideration, in the face of annhilation would become objective because they would be forms of life as opposed to Howard's alternative: oblivion.

===========================

No Huxley,

Of course the people have an interest to live, but this is not like the bombed and the bombardier, or the shooter and the shot... Those are limited acts, not the destruction of the entire world. There will be survivors, relatives, further wars, peace treaties... There will be offended parties... and the bombardier and shooter will most likely survive. Life will go on. It will be in the newspapers.

In my scenario, there is none of that. I grant you that people have an interest in living. That's obvious. They will be intimately in contact inasmuch as wiped out by the effects of Smith's experiment, but you cannot call that "interplay" in any meaningful way. If I step on an ant, CRUNCH, it was in contact, but there was no interplay... Just "play" entirely on one side.

Please describe the "inter" part of the "interplay." The very word "interplay" clashes with the concept "unilateral."

Did any one know? Did anyone react? Are there any survivors? Are codified laws meaningful? Will there be a human-level aftermath?

And it is the consensus of this community that determines whether his choice is immoral or moral. Unless you are bold enough to argue that the rest of the world has conceded that Smith should wipe them out, his decision to do so would be immoral.

What consensus? What community? They're all gone. When will they determine? They didn't know and will never know and they will never judge. I don't concede anything to Smith. The problem is entirely what Smith arrogates for himself. He doesn't consider the world a community (not even the world really does).

Do you deny that the rather impossible and bizarre interplay you speak of is entirely Smith's concept of it? Just like me imagining the ant "interplaying" before I step on it. There ARE immoral acts without interplay. There ARE moments when right and wrong are entirely in the hands of a single person and his free will, precisely because there is NO interplay but unilateral action.

Unless... you want to make it complicated. Go ahead and describe the interplay. Is it the world community's desire to live VS Smith's desire to know. Or is it Smith's idea of the worthiness of the world community's desire to live versus his desire to know.

As - excluding the transcendental - the only party in the know, with the will, with the possible doubt is Smith, I fail to see how it can be option one. But go ahead and wax metaphysical. I think the proper German word is "Lebenslust". So it's some Weltlebenslust "interplaying" with Smith? Can you capture some of it in a testube? Maybe we should send some samples of the stuff to all criminals who commit unilateral immoral acts. They can uncork it and have some interplay.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

I fail to see the connection. It was just one scenario. In normal affairs, there are many things that can save us from the immoral... In this extreme scenario, I just wanted to explore if one could define the purposeful and wanton destruction of the world and all life for the sake of knowledge as IMMORAL, figuring that such a thing would be automatically, (almost unthinkingly accepted as such). What would be the final restraint?

It is not my subjective criteria, but subjective criteria per se as opposed to objective criteria (even if downgraded to niggling doubt / Big Maybe) which interests me. Howard's got only that.

The point is that he has more than just the concept of God to save him. He has his internal moral sense. Taking away his internal moral sense strips the example of its relevance. The most that could be said is that having God around gives ONLY ONE more reason to be moral. However, one must artificially remove all other sources of morality, in order for it to be necessary. This is too contrived a situation to have much practical relevance, except perhaps for people who are so deficient as to be unable to operate morally without religion. We are left with the observation that
1) Only morally deficient people require religion to behave morally.
2) It is not clear, in any practical situation, that religion is the ONLY solution for such people. Why is there no alternative? Such a claim would show a remarkable narrow-mindedness. In fact psychology, a scientific discipline, ought to be far more effective, since it is scientific and does not have any limiting preconceptions.

The secret, untraceable link is where the real interesting stuff would be, because it would per force tend to be religious. Huxley's disquisitions about morality "the process" would ring hollow. EVERY subjective consideration, in the face of annhilation would become objective because they would be forms of life as opposed to Howard's alternative: oblivion.
Objective? Why? Religious? Why? I don't need religion to make that decision. I don't need any community consensus. Community consensus is just how society tries to make sure that moral rules are obeyed, not what inspires people to have morals in the first place, except maybe in evolutionary terms.

Again, this is special pleading because you artificially ruled out the possibility that the guy is following his secular moral sense.
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

--fudgy

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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

IoshkaFutz wrote:Of course the people have an interest to live, but this is not like the bombed and the bombardier, or the shooter and the shot... Those are limited acts, not the destruction of the entire world. There will be survivors, relatives, further wars, peace treaties... There will be offended parties... and the bombardier and shooter will most likely survive. Life will go on. It will be in the newspapers.

In my scenario, there is none of that. I grant you that people have an interest in living. That's obvious. They will be intimately in contact inasmuch as wiped out by the effects of Smith's experiment, but you cannot call that "interplay" in any meaningful way. If I step on an ant, CRUNCH, it was in contact, but there was no interplay... Just "play" entirely on one side.
What an odd and arguably psychopathic discourse.

Let me make sure that I get what you are saying here. You are saying that moral questions only arise after the fact. And if there is no "after the fact," then there is no moral question.

Frankly, that is completely ludicrous.

Why then have a moral system at all? If moral systems are not meant to influence behavior at the time it occurs, of what conceivable use are they?

No, Ioshka... the community and the moral system that exists at the moment of the act is the one that matters.... no other.

If Physicist Smith wipes out the Earth, there may be no more moral choices. But the last immoral act in human history will have absolutely been his decision to destroy the planet.

It is fascinating watching you tie yourself into knots trying to salvage this absurd scenario.
The moral absolutist has no doubt concerning the righteousness of the blood on their blade.

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CuteCoot
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by CuteCoot »

IoshkaFutz wrote:I am not the voice of Howard's conscience.
This sounds almost deliberately obtuse. OK, it's not you exactly but are you suggesting Howard doesn't *have* a conscience? And is not his conscience (whether speaking with your voice or God's) not the link between him and the rest of life on earth?
IoshkaFutz wrote:I know which law was prescribed and broken. Which law - if only as a niggling doubt - might trouble Howard. It won't be a United Nation's resolution, but the one from the Big Maybe.
Human beings have been asking of and expecting from other human beings an undertaking not to go around murdering them wantonly for a great deal more time than the UN has been around. So of course, the historical roots of our anti-murder consensus are far deeper than the very recent drafting of any UN resolutions. Sure, that consensus has been couched at a particular time and place and among a particular people as a divine command. And it certainly is a very dramatic and effective way of couching it. Full marks for theatricality there. However, presumably more grown up members of the human race can also take this consensus on board in a sober and rational way. That is, without a god in it.

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Equestrian
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

TTHuxley wrote:Wrong again, ranger. As a moral relativist I not only have no problem whatsoever making assertions regarding what "ought," I contend that I have a far superior method than you do for defining that "ought." I can reason to what "ought," while you cannot. You can only accept what someone else has told you.

You "ought" to listen to me if and only if you believe it would be a good thing for me to listen to you. If you do not believe it a good thing for me to listen to you, then you "ought" not listen to me.

Again, it is not very complicated. Yet you demonstrate a studied insistence on not understanding.
I'm going to sit you on my lap and explain this one more time. If you can't follow the simple line of reasoning, then I suggest you enroll yourself in special-ed.

You came to this board and offered a rebuttal to my notion of morality. You argued against my notion of morality because you believe it's wrong, and that your notion of morality is right. Your argument was clear, persuasive and it captured an understanding of how morality works. But as I pointed out, it's deeply flawed. And its flawed because you are objectively asserting a moral position while claiming that morality is relative to the individual.

By holding to moral relativism, you are holding to a position of moral neutrality. A place you can stand where you have your own moral views on a variety of things, and you follow your own moral inclinations, but don't make them incumbent on others. Someone else in his own island of moral neutrality might have different views and different responses to the exact same moral circumstance you might find yourself into. All moral views and actions are equal. What you have is true for you, and what they have is true for them. The space in between is nonjudgementalism. Moral neutral ground.

But as you have demonstrably proven on this board, on numerous occasions, moral relativism is not itself a neutral position. Hence your argument self-destructs.
You have expressed moral points of view throughout this forum that you believe are not only objectively correct, but morally correct. If you were a lobbyist, you would seek to pass laws which by threat of punishment, force people to do what you think is morally right. This flies in the face of the view that morals are relative. That all moral views are equal in value.

Countless times I've heard moral relativists argue that:

"All moral views are equal and worthy of respect, and we should not impose our moral views on others."

However, if you disagree with this view, then your view is morally reprehensible and not worthy of respect. You are a tyrant, unfair, and authoritarian--which is objective moral language. This is the irrationality of moral relativists.

You say:

"You "ought" to listen to me if and only if you believe it would be a good thing for me to listen to you. If you do not believe it a good thing for me to listen to you, then you "ought" not listen to me."

Well then, what is the point of your argument if not to persuade me and others to hold to your notion of morality? You wouldn't be making your case if you didn't believe that your understanding of morality is objectively true. You didn't say "Equestrian, your wrong here, here, here, and here...but that's just my personal view of morality. It's only my opinion and I'm neither wrong nor right on the matter." No, you are asserting that moral relativism is the only attainable position.
TTHuxley wrote:Since those comments are completely non-responsive to the questions I asked, am I to assume that you have conceded the point? You make no additional effort beyond bald assertion to describe any contradiction in my position, so I can only conclude that I have adequately answered your previous objection.
Utterly laughable. I have not conceded the point as you've offered nothing to negate the contradiction.

You've contended that morality is derived from communal consensus and simultaneously derived from the individual (subjectitility). If morality is grounded in communal consensus--that is that everyone's moral notions are congruently derived from what is advantageous for the community--and at the same time grounded in the personal view of each individual, then all it takes is for one individual to postulate a moral notion that cares nothing for the benefit of the community.

Now you have not addressed this contradiction other than saying: "They are not contradictory in any adequately nuanced understanding of human behavior." Sorry, that just doesn't work. Try again.
TTHuxley wrote:Wrong. If you act on your beliefs, and if that action impinges on the interests of anyone else in the community, then you have introduced a moral question. You are allowing (though not confirming) that an "ought" exists in the circumstance. An "ought" may exist... but then again, it may not.

Mr. Huxley, when you act on your belief, the "moral question" of your action is inoperative. You've already acted on it. The "moral question" was already answered once you've acted on your belief. In fact the moment you open your mouth in the face of an egregious moral wrong, and make a moral recommendation; you have effectively violated your moral relativistic stance and have taken a moral position and you affirm the existence of moral absolutes.

If you stop a rapist from raping a woman, your action did not function on the consensus of the community. You will not rely on the community to determine whether your actions were morally justified. By impinging on the interest of the rapist, you have effectively and objectively answered the "moral question."
TTHuxley wrote:If "oughtness" exists then here are moral implications. It does not matter the origin of the ought.
Nonsense. If oughtness is dependent on ones own personal view, then it doesn't exist in any objective sense. I can define it any way I want, you can define it as you see fit, and neither of us would be right or wrong. But here you are, employing it as if there is an objective, actual definition for oughtness.
TTHuxley wrote:Another statement that is simply, factually false. The existence of any "oughtness" is an explicit contention of a right or a wrong. The concepts can not be decoupled.
Says who? How can there be an "explicit" contention of right or wrong when there are no "explicit" right or wrongs. You are one confused guy.
TTHuxley wrote:Nothing in that construction makes any sense whatsoever. Please try again, only this time make an explicit effort to connect the dots between each sentence. Maybe take a crack at assembling a set of classical syllogisms. As far as I can tell, you are stringing together random ideas with inappropriate use of the conjuctions, "if" and "then."
Then let me put it to you another way so that your infantile mind can comprehend.

You said: "That is why actions have moral implications and can be subject to community coercion, while thoughts do not and should therefore be completely free."

First, you are using "ought" in an objective sense as if the moral notion that "thoughts "ought" be completely free," ought be adhered to universally.

Second, you claim that morality is relative to the individual. You claim that thoughts should be completely free (including personal notions of morality). Since law is derived from thoughts (including personal notions of morality), then law should be completely free. There is no objective right and wrong to 'regulate' what gets legislated into law. If thoughts (including personal notions of morality) and law are completely unfettered, then the people may be subject to coercion from those in power who make the law.
TTHuxley wrote:I believe you have that exactly backwards. The acknowledgment of even the possibility of reform or dissent is an admission that moral systems cannot possibly be based on anything that is absolute. Moral systems evolve with the zeitgeist; this is simple historical fact.
It's a historical fact that morality evolves with the zeitgeist? No, its a historical fact that laws evolved, not morality. There are no "historical facts" about morality.
TTHuxley wrote:Ignoring that your final sentence does not actually follow from the previous two, how is that any different from:

"According to the consensus of the community in America, slavery is considered morally wrong. Any slaveholders are therefore morally wrong. There is no objective reason to establish slavery."

?
I'm not the one arguing that change in the consensus of the community (morality) is determined by the flying spaghetti monster great flying zeitgeist in the sky. You assert that morality is derived from communal consensus. What is moral is what is prosperous for the community. Slavery was advantageous for the community, thus morally just. It was a morally virtuous act to enslave another human. Those who opposed the morally virtuous act of slavery were morally wrong. Any mechanism (such as the great flying zeitgeist in the sky) that triggered a complete moral reversal from an act that was once morally just to morally unjust would have come at the detriment of the community and thus morally reprehensible. The trend itself would have been opposed on the grounds that it was destructive to the welfare of the community.
TTHuxley wrote:Both cases acknowledge that the moral system in place at the time in question was derived by community consensus. Both communities even used the identical information basis for defending their respective consensi; the Judeao-Christian Bible. Both the slavers and the abolitionists explicitly insisted that their moral system was founded on an absolute objective truth.

At least one of them was wrong.
Yes, you're catching on. One of them was objectively wrong. You have just appealed to moral objectivism. What happened to your moral zeitgeist?
TTHuxley wrote:That is the current zeitgeist, yes. It is also your (and my) deeply held belief.

Still entire nations have existed that believed (as you do) in absolute morality, and yet sill disagreed with us on the issue of slavery.
Again, it doesn't necessarily follow from the mere fact that people hold to different moral beliefs that morals are relative. It could very well be the case that people disagree about the nature of certain moral things and somebody is right.

Slave holders, in any time frame, were and are absolutely wrong. If slavery was considered a morally virtuous act in any given community and in any given period, then it would have been morally virtuous for the slave holder to own the slave and morally virtuous to be a slave to the slaveholder, as morality is derived from what is advantageous to the community. People would desire to be a slave because it is the moral thing to do.

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a slave master," would be in your notion of morality: "As I would be a slave master, so I would be a slave."

Now there are nations/communities that still give a discreet nod to slavery, if not outright institutionalize it. If slavery is advantageous to their society, then what right do you have to judge them? It's their morals. And if slavery in their societies is morally virtuous, then it is moral virtuous to the slave master as well as to the slave.

Go visit Ghana, Cambodia, Sudan or any Islamic paradise nation where slavery is rampant. Then ask the slaves there if they find anything morally virtuous about being someones property.

Ask the child slaves in Ghana if they are compelled by the common good of the community to dive in Lake Volta to untangle nets, at night in dark freezing cold water--risking entangling themselves and drowning. Where they are beaten with oars by their morally virtuous slave owners when they surface for breath to make them dive again. Maybe they can tell you how morally just it is to be kept on isolated islands and denied medical treatment. Or maybe you can ask the young girls in Cambodia, as young as 5 to 7 years of age, who are sold for as much as a thousand dollars for their virginity; if they have a moral obligation to the community to be repeatedly raped by men as old as 40.

Perhaps you can get one of those slaves to tell you just how moral it is to be a slave so you can "simply point out that it says nothing about that moral law being absolute," and "therefore quite irrelevant to the discussion."
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" ~Carl Sagan

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CuteCoot
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by CuteCoot »

Equestrian wrote:I'm going to sit you on my lap and explain this one more time. If you can't follow the simple line of reasoning, then I suggest you enroll yourself in special-ed.
Crikey! What follows is a string of inanities and confusions relating to "moral relativism". LOL

I'm going to comment on just one of these inanities. Slavery. You write as if slavery is a thing that was abolished in the USA once and for all and that is a very evil thing when practiced anywhere else today. First, though obvious or overt slavery has indeed been abolished in the USA a form of it remains widespread in that workers are highly dependent on their bosses' good favours and many of their life choices are dictated by the interests of the company they work for. They are not as restricted as conventional slaves but they are not entirely free either.

Second, slavery can be seen by the slave as a better deal than some other options around. Such as being forced to beg or simply starving or seeing one's children starve. Many people in those countries you mention see us in "the West" as slaves of our own value systems, imprisoned in unrealistic expectations about life. I don't think even overt slavery in those countries is the absolute 100% evil that you make it out to be.

People get exploited in more ways than one and exploitation happens wherever you find humans (and very clearly also among the higher mammals).

Being a moral relativist, understanding the humanity-centred nature of human morality, is not to trash or dismiss morality. Not at all. In fact, a moral relativist might actually *think through* and *feel through* a lot of his moral decisions much more than does an absolutist who relies on a single source such as the Bible. People have done some appalling things while "reasoning" from a moral absolutist standpoint. Think of all those disgusting inquisitions, mass burnings, pogroms, witch hunts, etc, etc. <shudder> Absolutists have given absolutism a very bad name.

The best thing about moral relativism or the acknowledgement of moral systems as humanity-centred is that this standpoint allows for change. Perhaps it was true once that homosexuality was worthy of disapproval. Maybe because fertility was important or because special diseases were associated with this kind of behaviour. But times change and with them the circumstances of our lives and interactions. In more recent times, our survival has become dependent on *less* fertility and all the gays and maiden aunts of this world are doing us all a favour by *not* engaging in baby-making behaviour. We should be thankful to them and not applying some old-fashioned supposedly "absolute" moralities to their useful behaviour.

History has shown time and again that there is very little real compassion and therefore very little real morality in the absolutist standpoint.

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

What an odd and arguably psychopathic discourse.

Let me make sure that I get what you are saying here. You are saying that moral questions only arise after the fact. And if there is no "after the fact," then there is no moral question.

Frankly, that is completely ludicrous.


It is ludicrous, but it was implicit in all your previous statements. If my conclusion sounded psychotic, it's only because I was following your logic. Now you've changed. There is no longer any actual / physical mediation, because as you said, in this case it would be irrelevant.

Now a collective will to live, even if unexpressed, of no measurable mass, shape, color or form EXISTS and it even INTERPLAYS though unaware, helpless and with no eventual recourse to justice. My axiom: life and the furtherance of life unto themselves seems to be the only way to look at the problem.

I asked you to give me an example of interplay and you came out with a metaphysical notion. Some sort of collective Lebenslust. The talk of community became relational to the "sin" and not vice versa. So logically it is the sin that matters the most. The sin is the deciding factor. The sin decided the extent of the community, not the community the entity of the sin.

I asked you for an example of "INTERPLAY" in this scenario - above and beyond Smith's notion of it, but merely got called psychotic. And yet, the challenge remains. Please, pretty please, give me the "INTER" of this "PLAY" in non-metaphysical terms.

The whole point of the exercise is that like mediation, so too can a Mr. Smith make the collective will to live (whatever it is) become irrelevant, because it is only his personalissimo view of it that really matters. If you deny it, then I heartily welcome you to the spiritual realm. Physically, materially, rationally, logically, you can't get out of this trap. I dare you to try. Go there. Always bear in mind that there is no real, physical, material interlocutor. No one can affect his decision either way. He is incommunicado. It's entirely up to him. Like you, he is not easily impressed with man-made definitions of morality.

You can talk to death about community, relations, competitions, codified interests, law, but in the present situation, the only objective (by your materialist standards) reality is what Dr. Smith decides. He is beyond reach, beyond competition, beyond the very notion of law and community.

It's useless that you talk about the community's will to live and pretend that I don't believe that a community has no wish to die. I can waltz, tango and do the cha-cha with words too. The point of the matter is that the "materialistic reality" of the situation makes the people's will irrelevant, merely a value. In the scenario it is a totally disembodied value, because EVERYTHING is in the hands (mind) of Dr. Smith.

If you consider it a value, well so do I... and again, let me welcome you to the spiritual realm.

In your secret and protected link with Dr. Smith, you will talk to him about this value... You will objectify it for him. You will say that the people want to live. And that is what makes the experiment wrong. But. Dr. Smith can then ask you: "Does their wanting to live, give them the RIGHT to live? What will you answer? That they are many and Dr. Smith is just one? And so the majority decides the definition of morality? He will answer that he is indeed only one and they are indeed a majority, but he has ALL THE POWER. Under more normal circumstances the majority would have the preponderance of power, be it a mob, or a community with a codified system with which he would have to INTERPLAY. Be honest, the whole sense of the community, the way you use it, is intimately enmeshed with power / numbers / force.

So yes, the unknowing and heedless community wants to live. But they don't have an objective right to live, of the "Thou shalt not murder" kind. They just have a desire, a collective desire. And normally they have ways of enforcing it. This is what you really meant by your definitions of morality in your earlier posts, didn't you?

But again, "community" only really meant "power"... collective power, not necessarily brutish, but perhaps even "enlightened" full of man-made values.

What do you answer when the material / physical reality of the situation brings all the power to Dr. Smith? That "might doesn't make right?" That he SHOULD follow something higher, better, more enlightened? That he should ignore his power?

No, Ioshka... the community and the moral system that exists at the moment of the act is the one that matters.... no other.

The morality of the moral agent is what matters. The objective morality of he who decides. This is the only thing that will keep me or you or anybody from getting tangled into knots. Power is what decides and what has to decide wisely as if that power didn't exist, but only another power existed.

I am more realistic than you. And that's because I'm religious.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

Equestrian wrote:By holding to moral relativism, you are holding to a position of moral neutrality.
No, I am not. That would be your first error in this post.
Equestrian wrote:But as you have demonstrably proven on this board, on numerous occasions, moral relativism is not itself a neutral position. Hence your argument self-destructs.
No. Your straw man might self destruct on that point, but my position remains untouched by it since I have never held to a position of moral neutrality.
Equestrian wrote:ountless times I've heard moral relativists argue that:

"All moral views are equal and worthy of respect, and we should not impose our moral views on others."
Another straw man. I have honestly never once heard a moral relativist make such an argument. If you have, then I suggest you offer this response to them, since it seems completely irrelevant to anyone who is arguing in this thread.

I myself have repeatedly argued not only that all moral views are not equal and worthy of respect, I have argued specifically that rationally derived moral views are generally superior to those derived from alleged "divine revelation." I have lost count of the number of times I have made that point, but at least some of them have been made directly to you. It is fascinating how you then continue to argue against a position I do not hold, and that you know full well I do not hold.

It is merely another in a long line of instances where you are apparently unable to actually challenge my views, and so you attack imaginary positions held by no one and pretend you have attacked mine. It may make you feel better, but it does nothing to advance your argument.
Equestrian wrote:Utterly laughable. I have not conceded the point as you've offered nothing to negate the contradiction.
You have, to this point, pointed out no contradiction. You have manufactured contradictions in the straw men you are so fond of, but since they are not my arguments, those contradictions are not mine.
Equestrian wrote:You've contended that morality is derived from communal consensus and simultaneously derived from the individual (subjectitility). If morality is grounded in communal consensus--that is that everyone's moral notions are congruently derived from what is advantageous for the community--and at the same time grounded in the personal view of each individual, then all it takes is for one individual to postulate a moral notion that cares nothing for the benefit of the community.
Sometimes you come so close to "getting it" and then you turn and run screaming from the conclusions you so deeply do not want to reach.

Individuals "postulate a moral notion that cares nothing for the benefit of the community" all the time. We call them "psychopaths" and when they act on that personal moral notion in a way that violates our community established laws we call them "criminals."

What about that do you find contradictory?
Equestrian wrote:If you stop a rapist from raping a woman, your action did not function on the consensus of the community.
What does "function on the consensus of the community" even mean? If you stop a rapist from raping a woman you have acted on the moral system (and the legal system) emplaced by the community. That is a key reason we develop moral systems in the first place; to elicit behaviors that are of benefit to the community.
Equestrian wrote:Nonsense. If oughtness is dependent on ones own personal view, then it doesn't exist in any objective sense. I can define it any way I want, you can define it as you see fit, and neither of us would be right or wrong. But here you are, employing it as if there is an objective, actual definition for oughtness.
Like IoshkaFutz, you continue to tie yourself in knots. Its really not that complicated.

If you are a community of one, then yes, you can define "ought" any way you want. After all, outside of a community there can be no moral questions. So "oughts" are completely personal and subjective since they are also completely meaningless.

If you are a community of two or more, then "ought" is defined by community consensus. Only in a community does a moral system become meaningful, since its purpose is to mediate between competing interests of individuals. A community may reach consensus on "oughts" that derive from reason, or "oughts" that are inherited from ancestors, or "oughts" that are entirely arbitrary. It is my entire argument that "oughts" derived from reason are superior to those derived in any other way.
Equestrian wrote:How can there be an "explicit" contention of right or wrong when there are no "explicit" right or wrongs.
The same way that there can be an explicit contention of anything, regardless of whether or not the contention is true.
Equestrian wrote:You said: "That is why actions have moral implications and can be subject to community coercion, while thoughts do not and should therefore be completely free."

First, you are using "ought" in an objective sense as if the moral notion that "thoughts "ought" be completely free," ought be adhered to universally.

Second, you claim that morality is relative to the individual. You claim that thoughts should be completely free (including personal notions of morality). Since law is derived from thoughts (including personal notions of morality), * then law should be completely free.
Note where I have inserted the asterisk. This is one significant place (among others) where your chain of reasoning breaks down. The second clause does not follow from the first.

The statement "law is derived from thoughts (including personal notions of morality)" is not inclusive of the entire process of law derivation. Law is derived from thoughts, but not only from thoughts. Law is derived from a diversity of thought, study, research and debate. In includes inputs as varied as statistical analyses, historical testimony, and risk benefit analyses.

Law is not free, but fundamentally constrained (when it is just) to protecting the community's combined interests in freedom, stability, security and justice.
Equestrian wrote:There is no objective right and wrong to 'regulate' what gets legislated into law. If thoughts (including personal notions of morality) and law are completely unfettered, then the people may be subject to coercion from those in power who make the law.
People are subject to coercion from those in power who make the law. This is simply true, regardless of the fettering or freedom of thoughts. Please tell me this is a not a surprise to you.
Equestrian wrote:It's a historical fact that morality evolves with the zeitgeist? No, its a historical fact that laws evolved, not morality. There are no "historical facts" about morality.
Your own previous discussions of slavery demonstrate the breathless stupidity of that statement.
Equestrian wrote:You assert that morality is derived from communal consensus. What is moral is what is prosperous for the community. Slavery was advantageous for the community, thus morally just.
Now here is a perfect demonstration of the superiority of a rationally derived moral system to one alledgedly derived from "divine revelation." Slavery was not "advantageous to the community." It was advantageous to certain members of the community, at unacceptable cost to other members.

But it was accepted as moral based on the community consensus that it was part of "God's divine plane" for humanity. It was defended (at least in this country) by two groups of people, both explicitly basing their conviction on the text of The Bible. One group was the "Monogenists" who believed that slavery was justified by the "Curse of Ham" on the "black race." The other were the "Polygenists" who believed that slavery was justified because blacks were not even human, but "livestock" created on the Sixth Day of creation.

In this way, the moral system that allowed slavery based on "divine revelation" is inferior to a moral system that rationally includes a consideration of the costs of slavery and determines them unacceptable and detrimental to the well being of the community.
Equestrian wrote:Yes, you're catching on. One of them was objectively wrong. You have just appealed to moral objectivism. What happened to your moral zeitgeist?
That is not what I said.

I said "At least one of them was wrong." This leaves the door open to both of them possibly being wrong. The Zeitgeist may change again. Who knows?
Equestrian wrote:Again, it doesn't necessarily follow from the mere fact that people hold to different moral beliefs that morals are relative. It could very well be the case that people disagree about the nature of certain moral things and somebody is right.
You continue to flog your favorite rhetorical horse while ignoring my actual argument.

It is demonstrated that moral systems are diverse, even when claiming to be divinely revealed.

It is demonstrated that what is moral to one culture may be immoral to another, even when claiming to be divinely revealed.

It is thus demonstrated that moral systems are the product of human diversity, not divine revelation.

It absolutely could very well be that somebody is right. My position is that since all moral systems are the product of human diversity, not divine revelation, moral systems derived by reason rather than alleged "revelation" are more likely to be right.
Equestrian wrote:Slave holders, in any time frame, were and are absolutely wrong. If slavery was considered a morally virtuous act in any given community and in any given period, then it would have been morally virtuous for the slave holder to own the slave and morally virtuous to be a slave to the slaveholder, as morality is derived from what is advantageous to the community.
Need I point out that there are currently in excess of 2 million prisoners in he American penal system? That is by all measure the slavery of roughly 0.7% of the American population, and they are enslaved because it is "advantageous to the community."

Once again your argument in favor of moral absolutism founders on the rocks of reality. The zeitgeist may have changed regarding the status of slavery, who we allow as slaves, what we allow slaves to do, who owns them and who benefits from the slavery... but never has it been true that "slave holders, in any time frame, were and are absolutely wrong."

We are at a point in history where slavery is considered very nearly absolutely wrong... except when we enslave criminals to protect the community from them.
Equestrian wrote:People would desire to be a slave because it is the moral thing to do.
Again, you have that completely backwards. People also do not desire to be prisoners, even though it is the moral thing to do.

Our sense of right and wrong (upon which our communities build their moral systems) derives from empathy. We personally abhor slavery because we personally would not desire to be one. We communally codify slavery as immoral because, as a community, we overwhelmingly would not desire to be enslaved.

It is not true that "people would desire to be a slave because it is the moral thing to do," Instead, it is not the moral thing to do because people would not desire to be slaves.

This is not rocket science.
The moral absolutist has no doubt concerning the righteousness of the blood on their blade.

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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

This is the entire substance of Ioshkafutz's most recent post:
IoshkaFutz wrote:So yes, the unknowing and heedless community wants to live. But they don't have an objective right to live, of the "Thou shalt not murder" kind. They just have a desire, a collective desire. And normally they have ways of enforcing it. This is what you really meant by your definitions of morality in your earlier posts, didn't you?
Exactly.

And even though we normally have ways of enforcing it, sometimes we don't, and always there are individuals who will act immorally regardless.

Next question?
The moral absolutist has no doubt concerning the righteousness of the blood on their blade.

sword_of_truth
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

Equestrian is, indeed, very fond of straw men. It seems he can only argue against his own preconceived straw man version of moral relativism.
But as you have demonstrably proven on this board, on numerous occasions, moral relativism is not itself a neutral position. Hence your argument self-destructs.
It is neutral by itself. The trouble is that we are more than moral relativists. We have additional personal moral criteria that we follow. Hence, OUR position, which is not just moral relativism by itself, is not neutral.

You have expressed moral points of view throughout this forum that you believe are not only objectively correct, but morally correct. If you were a lobbyist, you would seek to pass laws which by threat of punishment, force people to do what you think is morally right. This flies in the face of the view that morals are relative. That all moral views are equal in value.
If that is your definition of moral relativism, then we are NOT moral relativists.

Countless times I've heard moral relativists argue that:

"All moral views are equal and worthy of respect, and we should not impose our moral views on others."

However, if you disagree with this view, then your view is morally reprehensible and not worthy of respect. You are a tyrant, unfair, and authoritarian--which is objective moral language. This is the irrationality of moral relativists.
Yes, such people are irrational, but not necessarily inconsistent, since, having accepted moral relativism, any statement about what they disapprove of, is, presumably, if they are thinking straight, subjective. Claiming that they are making objective statements is merely a claim. Language is not an inflexible entity that prohibits such distinctions from being made, since the person who makes the statement decides what they mean by it.

I am a proud tyrant. My tyranny is necessary to protect society and give people what they want. Only criminals will complain about this tyranny, since the tyranny is in accord with the desires of the non-criminals.
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

--fudgy

crazymonkie_
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by crazymonkie_ »

Hey Huxley, isn't it fun to debate Equestrian?

Because he understands subjective morality, like, so well man.

Oh, BTW: You and I agree on every point. I just have a tough time explaining it without making long, twisted paragraph-length sentences. Too many English lit research papers, I suppose.

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

THHuxley wrote:This is the entire substance of Ioshkafutz's most recent post:
IoshkaFutz wrote:So yes, the unknowing and heedless community wants to live. But they don't have an objective right to live, of the "Thou shalt not murder" kind. They just have a desire, a collective desire. And normally they have ways of enforcing it. This is what you really meant by your definitions of morality in your earlier posts, didn't you?
Exactly.

And even though we normally have ways of enforcing it, sometimes we don't, and always there are individuals who will act immorally regardless.

Next question?
Great, that's what I wanted you to admit. No rights, just power. Might makes right. At last we have your definition of morality. Very frank and honest... it just happens to be the opposite of morality and that's what needs to be known.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

crazymonkie_
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by crazymonkie_ »

It's not "might makes right", it's consensus makes right. Although of course, we can use empirical research to test some of these claims. If someone else can explain how empirical data and morality are related, please do; I think we need the clarification right now.

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

And here instead is Sword of Truth's morality:

I am a proud tyrant.

Excellent!
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

crazymonkie_ wrote:It's not "might makes right", it's consensus makes right. Although of course, we can use empirical research to test some of these claims. If someone else can explain how empirical data and morality are related, please do; I think we need the clarification right now.
And now it's craziemonkie's turn:

Consensus makes right (although of course bla bla bla)...

Check out who won some of the elections in the old days: who had the consensus... They were right!
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

sword_of_truth
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

I think I was a little cryptic in my last post. I said that complete moral relativists are not necessarily inconsistent when they tell other people that they are tyrants if they impose their morality on other people. At face value, it is a contradiction in their subjective morals. However, there is a way out for them, which is to grant themselves the sole exception in the case of that statement. Essentially, I already made this point a while back. Of course, they DO have to sacrifice that ONE bit of their philosophy in order to maintain consistency, but their position remains essentially unscathed. But this is not my position.
And here instead is Sword of Truth's morality:

I am a proud tyrant.

Excellent!
Yes, for those who are not capable of comprehending figures of speech and those who are fond of quote-mining. The funny thing is that, in the sense that I meant, Ioksha is ALSO a proud tyrant and agrees with me.

Also missing is the fact that I already DESTROYED any possible criticism of my position in my original post when I said that my tyranny is in accord with what non-criminals want. Hence, it is not, in fact, real tyranny, but only tyranny as a colorful expression.
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

--fudgy

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