Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

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Eckhart Aurelius Hughes
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post by Eckhart Aurelius Hughes »

My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

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Eckhart Aurelius Hughes wrote: December 27th, 2007, 4:26 pm The Clarity Of Amorality
by Scott Hughes

Morality consists of moral values used to judge conduct, events, and people in general. It refers to the way people try to universally categorize human conduct as right or wrong, or good or bad.

Morality originated from religion. In the earlier days of human civilization, the lack of telecommunications and lack of fast transportation separated humankind into small, isolated communities. As a result the religion in each one of these communities would dominate the community. Since those isolated communities had little contact with other cultures and religious beliefs, they took their own religion as simple truth.

However, as the world has globalized, the different communities have come into more and more contact with each other and have begun mixing. With multiple religions in the same society, the society could no longer use a single religion as its law and value system. As a result, society developed secular laws and values that applied independent of any given person's religion.

Naturally, society derived its new secular values and codes of conduct from its religious values. For the most part, it just rephrased the religious commandments and values from the dominant religions in more secularized terms. The "sinful" became the "immoral."

Developments in science also have led to more secularization of society because science can more reliably explain what people would otherwise rely on religion to explain. Also, people questioned their own religion more once they came into contact with other religions.

However, the archaic idea of morality remains. Even many so-called atheists talk as though some metaphysically universal set of values exist to determine the goodness or badness of people or actions. They do that by referring to people and actions as morally good or bad.

Still, when a person makes a moral statement nowadays they do not usually mean anything inherently religious. They just use the archaic and oversimplified moral terms to express an otherwise amoral sentiment. They might use the moral terms to express any of a variety of amoral sentiments, such as a personal taste, a recommendation, a social value, or so on.

For example, when a person says the moral statement, "eating dogs is morally wrong," they might mean the amoral statement, "eating dogs disgusts me." When a person says, "doing drugs is immoral," they might mean, "doing drugs will cause you more trouble than pleasure." When a person says, "breaking the law is morally bad," they might mean, "if you break the law, it will probably result in very unpleasant consequences for you." When a person says the moral statement, "you should go to work on time," they may just mean that amoral statement, "I recommend that you go to work on time."

Using the moral terms, rather than saying specifically what one means, lacks clarity. When a person calls a certain action immoral, we do not know what they mean exactly. Do they mean the action disgusts them? Do they mean they dislike it? Do they mean it would hurt them? Do they mean it would hurt the person who does it? Do they mean their religion forbids it? We can try to figure out what they mean by the context, but they can also just specify it by using amoral terminology.

We can more clearly express ourselves by specifying what we mean in secular and descriptive ways, rather than in general moral terms. Consider giving up morality due to its lack of clarity. Instead of making moral prescriptions, consider making amorally descriptive statements.

Whatever you do, good luck and have fun!

About the author: Scott Hughes owns and manages [url=http://onlinephilosophyclub.com]Online Philosophy Club[/url] and the [url=http://onlinephilosophyclub.com/forums/]Philosophy Forums[/url].

Please post any comments or questions that you have about the preceding article.
Actually in hunter-gatherer times, "religion" was animism, not theism so wasn't based on the rules of gods. Of course humans have always had personal moral codes with which to base social behavior decisions upon. We still do today. Naturally hubris (in some individuals) encouraged them to attempt to hold others to their own personal moral codes thus societal ethical standards were created.
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Re: Article: The Clarity Of Amorality

Post by Good_Egg »

Eckhart Aurelius Hughes wrote: December 27th, 2007, 4:26 pm Morality originated from religion.
This seems to me an unjustified statement. "Religion" is an abstraction from particular religions which were founded or originated at specific times by specific people.

It seems to me that one has to believe that either:

A) somebodyor a few somebodies at some time first came up with the idea of morality as part of their religion, and everybody else got the idea by a chain of communication from that one or few founders, or

B) moral thinking is in some sense part of human nature, so that such ideas have occurred to multiple people in multiple different cultures.

Seems to me that the right answer is obviously B).
On the basis that as far as we know whenever anybody has crossed the sea and discovered another culture, they have found some form of morality as part of that culture. Even though that culture is ignorant of the traveller's own religion.

Such origins are of course lost in the mists of pre-history, but it seems reasonable to suppose that the unrecorded "first contacts" are similar to the more recent ones that we know more about.
For example, when a person says the moral statement, "eating dogs is morally wrong," they might mean the amoral statement, "eating dogs disgusts me."
If you're saying that some people sometimes say one thing and mean another, few would disagree.

But if you're saying that everybody who says "eating dogs is morally wrong" necessarily means "eating dogs disgusts me", then that is clearly false. It is perfectly possible to say without contradiction "eating dogs disgusts me, but I don't believe it to be morally wrong". Or conversely "I experience no feelings of disgust at the thought of eating a dog but nonetheless consider it to be morally wrong because dogs are sentient".

You've stated "they might mean", implying that some do, but your conclusion
We can more clearly express ourselves by specifying what we mean in secular and descriptive ways, rather than in general moral terms."
only follows if all do, if anyone uttering a prescriptive moral statement "really" means a descriptive statement.

This seems a basic error.

For example, does someone who says "Consider giving up morality" really mean "You should give up morality" ?

It's quite possible that some might mean that, but that doesn't mean that the statement can only possibly mean that...
"Opinions are fiercest.. ..when the evidence to support or refute them is weakest" - Druin Burch
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