Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

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Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#1  Postby TigerNinja » March 23rd, 2017, 2:11 pm

We see almost every last act as either a moral or immoral one. I have certain intentions posting this in and of itself which would be judged as either moral or immoral. Overall, we live in a world of relative morals, and each culture, society, and even person has a different moral code to every other person. Personally I see morals as non existent but still have something that can loosely be based on a moral code, which is to embody the morals relative to my current position. If I am on my own, I can embody how I feel like, because for me there are no morals. I don't feel restricted if I do something 'wrong', which is what I find a whole lot of people have trouble with getting their heads over with me. I just wanted to clear that up.

Since morals are relative, should I call another man immoral if he does something I call immoral although it is suitable in his culture and in his own eyes. Should we judge morals in whichever context is our own or whichever is used by the man being judged?
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Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?



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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#2  Postby Eduk » March 27th, 2017, 11:38 am

Defining morals is hard. Morals could be relative but only if you defined them a certain way and you would have to concede that that definition may not be accurate. My personal belief is that morals are similar to consciousness in that they seem to have gained complexity from a simple source in a way which defies explanation (currently).
The behaviour you are describing seems to mirror Harvey Keitel's character in Bad Lieutenant (this didn't work out well for him).
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#3  Postby Mark1955 » March 27th, 2017, 4:53 pm

TigerNinja wrote:We see almost every last act as either a moral or immoral one. I have certain intentions posting this in and of itself which would be judged as either moral or immoral. Overall, we live in a world of relative morals, and each culture, society, and even person has a different moral code to every other person. Personally I see morals as non existent but still have something that can loosely be based on a moral code, which is to embody the morals relative to my current position. If I am on my own, I can embody how I feel like, because for me there are no morals. I don't feel restricted if I do something 'wrong', which is what I find a whole lot of people have trouble with getting their heads over with me. I just wanted to clear that up.

Since morals are relative, should I call another man immoral if he does something I call immoral although it is suitable in his culture and in his own eyes. Should we judge morals in whichever context is our own or whichever is used by the man being judged?

Surely the purpose of morals is to set values which you argue are not relative so that you may enforce them on others as being 'right'. Is not viewing morals as relative or open to subjective interpretation effectively being amoral.
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#4  Postby Eduk » March 27th, 2017, 6:06 pm

You are in dangerous ground going around forcing your morals on people because they are 'right'. That path is a dangerous one.
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#5  Postby -1- » March 27th, 2017, 7:57 pm

I am convinced that morals of individuals are genetically generated, and were formed by evolution. All moral code can be reduced to "save that genome which closest resembles mine, even at personal sacrifice".

Then why do we have different moral codes? Because of evolution. It is a relatively new development, in gene creation, so there is no STRONG general consensus in our genes inherited, perhaps because of x mixing of genes of morality genomes, or perhaps because mutations constantly happen.

On the other hand there are societal morals, which are conducive to the survival of the society, which may or may not include the survival of all or a select few individuals in a society.

Societal morals are mainly expressed in legal terms, although there is also social and emotional pressure in which social morals try to supercede moral codes of individuals.

The game is individual morals trying to outfox societal morals, and vice versa.

The biggest fear societal morals can have is rationalization of cognitive dissonance by the individual. This is the first reason we have criminals and criminal activities.

Should morals be judged in a cultural context? You be they should. According to geophysical and other reasons, different societies need desperately different things for survival. Therefore their societal morals as expressed in their culture, is very, very survival specific, read, culture specific.
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#6  Postby Felix » March 27th, 2017, 10:35 pm

Mark1955: Is not viewing morals as relative or open to subjective interpretation effectively being amoral?


Yes, it is, it is the code of the sociopath. Morality is only relative to those who are deficient in empathy - more or less insensitive to others feelings and needs. Their self awareness does not extend beyond than their own insular perspective.

Eduk: You are in dangerous ground going around forcing your morals on people because they are 'right'. That path is a dangerous one.


Isn't that the purpose of civil laws? Should we do away with all of them, would that be less dangerous?
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#7  Postby Eduk » March 28th, 2017, 7:08 am

Isn't that the purpose of civil laws? Should we do away with all of them, would that be less dangerous?

I don't think it's that simple. I would guess that most, if not all, laws in all countries claim a moral imperative but I assume that you don't think every law in every country is actually moral? Or that every law is used morally?
I think civil law is forced into the shape it is by the human condition. Where from one human to the next there are many many contradictory moral claims. Each human works towards their own vision in their own manner.
If you hold up the law as moral perfectionism then you run the risk of entering a state which owns the people and all sorts of injustices can flow in the name of moral rights (can you think of an example of a great atrocity where the state claimed to be morally incorrect?). I've never actually heard of a completely lawless society but I imagine this is even less desirable.
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#8  Postby Felix » March 28th, 2017, 4:37 pm

Well, the question posed was if morals are culturally not politically relative. Advanced or sophisticated cultures/societies generally affirm similar moral values such as a reverence for life, freedom and equality, even if they don't always "practice what they preach."

"can you think of an example of a great atrocity where the state claimed to be morally incorrect?"

No, in an enlightened age the brutal robber barons will not claim to be moral when it would be obvious they are not. They will just agree with TigerNinja that moral values are only relative, merely a means to an end, whatever end they say is best for their subjects.
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#9  Postby Fooloso4 » March 29th, 2017, 1:19 pm

The question can only be addressed in the context of a particular moral issue. On the one hand, the fact that a culture holds to a particular view and practice does not in an of itself make it morally acceptable. On the other, there are some views and practices that should be accepted as culturally appropriate. So, on the one hand slavery and female circumcision are not morally acceptable even though they are practiced in some places, and, on the other, whether exposing one’s face or hair is morally acceptable is a matter of culture.

I think it important to distinguish between moral relativism and cultural relativism. In short, moral relativism is the recognition that there are no absolute moral authority, and cultural relativism is the claim that what is right and wrong is culturally determined. Some make claims for moral relativism that go much further than others. For some it means that morality is solely a matter of whatever the individual decides, or individual relativism, but others recognize the social nature or morals and so we are not free to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, good or bad; that moral deliberation is essential.
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#10  Postby Mark1955 » March 31st, 2017, 11:00 am

Felix wrote:
Mark1955: Is not viewing morals as relative or open to subjective interpretation effectively being amoral?


Yes, it is, it is the code of the sociopath. Morality is only relative to those who are deficient in empathy - more or less insensitive to others feelings and needs. Their self awareness does not extend beyond than their own insular perspective.

If I empathise with the immoral person as well as their 'victim', e.g prostitution is sinful but maybe prostitutes do it under other coercive pressures we might try to understand instead of condemning them then am I not being a) emphatic, possibly more emphatic than the moral person who simply regards prostitutes as evil, b) to a degree amoral becasue I refuse to subscribe to a simplistic moral position.

Eduk: You are in dangerous ground going around forcing your morals on people because they are 'right'. That path is a dangerous one.

I don't I'm an amoral sociopath, but....
Felix wrote:Isn't that the purpose of civil laws? Should we do away with all of them, would that be less dangerous?

...what are civil laws except the majority moral consensus codified with punishments for disobedience [assuming you live in a democracy].

-- Updated 31 Mar 2017 16:04 to add the following --

Fooloso4 wrote:The question can only be addressed in the context of a particular moral issue. On the one hand, the fact that a culture holds to a particular view and practice does not in an of itself make it morally acceptable. On the other, there are some views and practices that should be accepted as culturally appropriate. So, on the one hand slavery and female circumcision are not morally acceptable even though they are practiced in some places, and, on the other, whether exposing one’s face or hair is morally acceptable is a matter of culture.

I think it important to distinguish between moral relativism and cultural relativism. In short, moral relativism is the recognition that there are no absolute moral authority, and cultural relativism is the claim that what is right and wrong is culturally determined. Some make claims for moral relativism that go much further than others. For some it means that morality is solely a matter of whatever the individual decides, or individual relativism, but others recognize the social nature or morals and so we are not free to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, good or bad; that moral deliberation is essential.

I'm afraid I think you're choosing to define morals as what you want to define as unchangeable and culture [particularly other people's culture] as what you want to be allowed to change. A bit like "I like erotic art; you read racy books, he is a dirty pornographer".
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#11  Postby Fooloso4 » March 31st, 2017, 12:25 pm

Mark 1955:

I'm afraid I think you're choosing to define morals as what you want to define as unchangeable and culture [particularly other people's culture] as what you want to be allowed to change. A bit like "I like erotic art; you read racy books, he is a dirty pornographer".


I am denying that morals are unchangeable. I am a moral relativist. I am not, however, a radical relativist or a cultural relativist or a nihilist. Our choices and actions matter and so moral deliberation and judgment are necessary, but we do not have absolute moral standards to guide our deliberation. Some conclude then that morals are either whatever an individual or culture says is moral or that there are no valid moral distinctions. I am saying that such conclusions are wrong.

I also distinguished between moral issues that transcend culture and moral issues that are a matter of cultural practice. The question of whether it is immoral for a woman to show her ankle, for example, should take time and place into consideration. In contemporary western cultures we may not even think it is a moral issue, but tt was not all that long ago that it was considered scandalous. We may think it oppressive to demand that woman not show their legs or hair or face, and yet we do not think it oppressive to demand that people wear clothing in public. We might think it a double standard that women must cover up but men do not, yet in the west we require women to wear tops at the beach but not men. And just as women in the west may feel think it shameful to be have their breasts exposed, women elsewhere may think it shameful to have other parts of their bodies exposed.

The distinction between ‘erotic’, ‘racy’, and ‘pornographer’ are not necessarily moral distinctions. Some may judge all of them immoral and others none of them immoral. This is a case that, in my opinion, does not transcend either cultural or individual values.
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#12  Postby Mark1955 » April 9th, 2017, 3:36 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:Some conclude then that morals are either whatever an individual or culture says is moral or that there are no valid moral distinctions. I am saying that such conclusions are wrong.

So how do I tell the difference between a cultural moral standard and an absolute moral standard.
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#13  Postby Fooloso4 » April 9th, 2017, 4:14 pm

Mark 1955:

So how do I tell the difference between a cultural moral standard and an absolute moral standard.


I do not think there are absolute moral standards. As I tried to explain, I am a moral relativist because I deny absolute standards, but that moral relativism does not entail nihilism, or reduce morality to a matter of personal or cultural standards. The goal of moral deliberation, as I see it, is to determine what seems best. It is a tentative and ongoing practice. We may not agree and we may in time come to see things differently. We do not discover final answers but working solutions to particular problems.
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#14  Postby Xeadas » April 9th, 2017, 7:05 pm

The goal of moral deliberation, as I see it, is to determine what seems best.


But isn't it necessary to have some rules governing what cannot be for the best? In The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin, a situation is given in which a society is made peaceful and comfortable as a direct cause of one person's suffering (this person being hidden below the city somewhere). Isn't it moral to say that goodness that results from socially created suffering is not for the best? If the answer is yes, that's not for the best, then can't we have an absolute standard that goodness cannot be a result of socially created suffering?
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Re: Should Morals Be Judged In A Cultural Context?

Post Number:#15  Postby Skhole » April 9th, 2017, 7:59 pm

When someone makes a judgment, for instance: Bartleby in Melville's story was a sensible man., don't they imply that their judgment is actually true? Otherwise why make the judgment at all? If I say he was sensible, I imply someone who says he was deranged is mistaken. I make a moral statement, one should understand that Bartelby was sensible. Can it really be that one making a judgment doesn't care at all what others say about this case? Could anyone actually hold that any other judgment is just as good as there own? In practical terms I have never met such a one as to hold with that, except as a mere statement, not in what they actually do.

I think, that even if such a one did exist, this would only indicate moral relativism, and not the view that one's judgments, simply, were not what they seem to be. I.e., the case of relativism is not the case of the non-existence of morals, and moral judgments. Judgments about how a matter is to be regarded and dealt with. I mean because depending on how we judge Bartelbey, the way we actually deal with or treat him will change.
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