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When people call an action immoral, they may simply mean that the action hurts more people than it helps
andreea22 wrote:Ethics is an ideea not quite a reality. Look and open your eyes at the world and you might agree
Juice wrote:I understand that we need to use words since communicating even remotely effectively requires that we do so. But, more importantly words express ideas, and ideas stimulate the imagination. Because of this ideas are formulated of a complex set of goal oriented subjective and objective mental impressions, and part of that process includes some aspect, degree or level of applicable moral differentials.
Juice wrote:For me using words and language is not a problem since I recognize that all my ideas have moral relevance as a universal paradigm. When I say that "hitler was evil", it is understood that I am making a moral determination of hitler the man in so far as his total being is concerned and implies a world view or understanding of evil.
Juice wrote:The amoralist will say that "Hitler disgusts me", which implies a more personal objection to hitler, further implying that hitler may not disgust some others who intern can provide their own subjective rationals towards hitler.
Edlamnyc wrote:Mr. Hughes doesn’t like calling an act moral or immoral because he believes it ascribes to it a special value that means one “should” or “should not” do it. He believes he’s found a way to teach a system of values without the implied “should.” He says that people who call torturing animals immoral are merely expressing their personal feelings of disgust; murder is not immoral, people just hate it; a person who believes helping the homeless is moral, really means it’s admirable to help the homeless and protect “social values.” OK, now we have disgusting and hateful instead of immoral, admirable and valuable instead of moral, but he still doesn’t tell us why torturing animals creates feelings of disgust (why we should not do it); why the act of murder is hated (why we should not do that), or why it’s admirable to help the homeless and protect social values (why we should do that). In other words, he still hasn’t gotten rid of the “should” or “should not,” except now what was previously an “immoral” act has become a matter of personal taste. As Mr. Hughes says: “I personally choose to avoid using moral terms as much as possible. Instead, I explain specifically what I mean using descriptive, amoral terms rather than generic moral terms.” In other words, people who say torturing animals is immoral are being judgmental, but if they say it turns their stomach, they’re simply expressing themselves and incidentally giving evidence of their greater sensitivity. What drives an intelligent person to use such sophistry just to avoid using the words moral and immoral? There are at least two possibilities; egotism or ignorance, I hope it’s the latter because then I might be of some help.
We already know Mr. Hughes hates religion, and those who base their morality on what he calls a “metaphysical set of judgmental values,” and with his misuse of the words “judgmental values” we have a clue as to his confusion.
“Judgmental” is an adjective that describes a human activity. People can be judgmental; values cannot. When Mr. Hughes derides religion, he is being judgmental, not by using some metaphysical or supernatural set of values, but by using his own personal set of opinions about religion. Values, metaphysical or no, are the standard against which judgments are made. For instance, if I say Mr. Hughes does not honor his parents (whether it’s true or not) I’m being judgmental and, incidentally, also acting immorally (again, whether it’s true or not). But that doesn’t alter the fact that I believe it to be immoral not to honor one’s parents (whether that Commandment comes from a supernatural source, mythical stone or historical testament). Being “judgmental” also means you hate the sinner and not the sin. Mr. Hughes’ rude dismissal of the religious has a strong smell of hate. How is it possible to hate The Ten Commandments? You can ignore them, but hate…?
For the record: I do not hate Mr. Hughes; I hate his philosophy, but he is not alone in his problems with the elusive “should” (moral philosophy’s perennially persistent pain in the ****). For that I have to digress. In the appendix to his “Abolition of Man” (written before his conversion to Christianity) C.S. Lewis presents strong evidence that every civilization has had a moral code similar to The Ten Commandments (he calls it “The Tao” or “The Way).
This suggests to me that a moral code is not man-made. It comes along with being human. In our tendency to be social we are like pack animals, and the “should” exists through a combination of our emotions (feeling the same way about how to behave) and our faculty of Reason. To put it as simply as possible: Reason tells me that if I don’t like being tread upon, one way of avoiding it is not to tread on anyone else. Moral codes come first. Religion comes second.
Religions are born when a society has to face the task of dealing with infractions of the moral code. One way of dealing with infractions is to prevent them by teaching habits and beliefs to the young with the intention of saving them from learning (too often, too late) from experience. Religions do not create moral codes; they help make the inevitable infractions easier to bear. (Elsewhere Lewis reminds us that Moses didn’t introduce new moral laws, but the Commandments written in stone by God’s hand served as a reminder that the Jews had wandered from what they already knew to be moral behavior and now, not only did they have to answer to a higher power, but were chosen by that power to be responsible for leading the rest of the world. Remember, the myth of creation in The Old Testament says all Mankind comes from Adam and Eve, which means that we all are, not poetically, politically or metaphorically but literally, one family.)
I’m sorry that Mr. Hughes is loath to admit that he, along with the unwashed and uneducated, is just like all of us. By simply being human he is under the control of a moral code above and beyond any “social contract,” rationally based agreement or religious doctrine. Most people, upon realizing they have acted immorally feel guilty. While others, unable to explain the source of the “should” that hauntingly guides all human behavior, are incapable of accepting the guilt that ensues when it is ignored. Instead of biting the bullet and accepting the guilt from their (admittedly, sometimes necessary) act, they figure out a way to justify their immorality: An unhappy couple, who rather than admit a sacred vow has been broken, says: “We thought a divorce would be better for the children than having them live with adults who no longer loved each other.” And instead of admitting to a murderous act, the couple with an unwanted pregnancy says: “It’s OK to have an abortion because a fetus isn’t really a person.”
The recent and politically correct habit of replacing A.D. (Anno Domini, or year of our Lord) and B.C. (Before Christ) with CE (Common Era) and BCE (before Common Era) is unfortunate because if further hides the truth: The Old Testament and the birth of Jesus Christ is a turning point in history and not just for Jews and Christians; it designates the transition from a mythically ordered way of marking time to one based on historical fact. The subsequent existence of Western Society is still under the domain of historical fact, otherwise known as the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Social Utility – Sometimes people use moral terms to describe how much a certain action will hurt or help the other people in the society. When people call an action immoral, they may simply mean that the action hurts more people than it helps. When they call an action morally good, they mean that it helps more people than it hurts. A more helpful action will be referred to as morally better, and a more harmful action will be referred to as worse.
Scott wrote:One could mean so many different things when they say, "John Smith is immoral." It is much clearer and specific to remove the moral statements and say whatever various things we may mean, which could include any combination of the following:
-John Smith disgusts me.
-I don't like John Smith.
-We would be safer if John Smith was dead or in jail.
-I recommend people don't do the types of things John Smith does.
-I want the things John Smith did to be illegal.
-I would enjoy causes John Smith to suffer.
-I believe there is a god or gods who commanded us not to do what John Smith did.
-I believe there is some sort of undetectable, metaphysical god or spirit magically influencing John Smith to do things that are sinful according to my religion.
-The vast majority of people don't like John Smith or what he does.
-I think society would be happier and more productive without people like John Smith.
Using moral terms, such as in the phrase, "John Smith is evil," to describe any combination of the above list of just a few examples of the wide variety of things people can mean when they moral terms is obviously much less clear than actually elaborating on what one is trying to say in specific terms that at least let others know if what one is saying is a factual claim or an opinion.
I would argue that utilitarian ethicists are level 4 capable, but for some unknown reason restrict their judgements and, hence, base their value system on Level 2 derivatives. A moral relativist is fixated at a level 3 since the abstract concept of morality is understood, but the capacity for judgment regarding ethical matters is not demonstrated.
I would further argue that true "moral" statements can only be made by Level 4 beings based upon Level 4 derivatives. In other words, moral principles are the guiding principles used by Level 4 beings to live at a fully Level 4 state of existence. They are the rules of functioning at a Level 4 existence.
Why is compassion a virtue, and callousness a vice?
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