The main concept many don’t understand is that we can’t judge these past people by today’s standards. We have developed over hundreds of years from a colony of inexperienced men and women. Yes, people back in the 1800s had slaves, but so did many other countries. But the main point I’m trying to get across is that, historically, Americans were naive and misinformed about human rights because they hadn’t been exposed to Africans, so they didn’t know better. A lot of fucked up events have taken place throughout history, however, it hasn’t been so long since slavery has been abolished (less than 200 years). And it’s a part of our history that we isn’t looked highly upon but has helped us to learn our morals for equality and develop as a unified nation.
Here’s an example: after realizing smoking is bad for our health, it is now looked down upon in society but up to the late 1900s it was done everywhere (movies, tv, in restaurants, etc) but we just were misinformed and didn’t know better.
I certainly reject the left picture. That bullshit is used to whitewash colonialism and slavery. If forced to choose between objective and subjective morality, I will choose objective over subjective, with the important qualification that while morality may be objective, that is not to say it is absolute. I reject absolute morality. The importance of the nuance is to say that it is possible to determine right and wrong, but that right and wrong cannot be determined abstractly through vague appeals to moral principles, but must be rooted in material conditions, and in one set of conditions, and action may be found to be moral whereas in another set, the same action may be found to be immoral. Drugs, theft, these can have different social consequences dependent upon the conditions in which they exist, and thus different moral values.
I disagree with the notion that because something can be used badly it must be a bad thing.
Fire can be used to burn houses down.
Fire isn't inherently bad.
Please also explain what you believe the difference is between absolute morality and objective morality.
If morality is objective, must it not also be absolute?
Objective truths (which objective morals would be by definition) must be true in all situations (meaning they are also absolute, by definition), or else they aren't objective, they're subjective (based on the conditions.)
Well I think Doc is simply saying, correct me if I'm wrong, that though the right thing to do may vary among superficially similar situations, there remains an objective right thing to do or set of right things to do in any given situation. That does strike me as a relevant distinction, though perhaps it's mainly a matter of word-play.
That said, I'm not inclined to agree that there's is in fact objective moral truth. I think that would require some fundamental principle of how the interests of some ought to be weighed against the interests of others, or indeed whether we ought to care about each other at all. It just doesn't seem like there's any a priori truths to be found there. That doesn't mean I can't vehemently criticize people who delight in systems of oppression and hatred, but in the grand scheme of things we're just a bunch of apes on a space rock and the universe doesn't care if we beat the shit out of each other.
A few things to explain here. First, PKG pretty well explained the distinction I make between absolute and objective morality. I would add in defense of that position that like all forms of objectivity, knowledge is asymptotic. That is, to uphold objective morality is not to say that we can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that our thoughts and actions are in alignment with that morality in any given circumstance. Of course, we can have good reasons to believe we are or aren't, just like any other form of knowledge, always imperfect, yet we can be on the right track.
Secondly, in defense of the view of what objective morality is, we should be looking at morality not as some abstract principle decided by metaphysics or divinity or anything of the like. Rather, morality should be viewed as a cultural phenomenon. Like any other cultural, social, and even natural phenomenon, it is objectively observable, and we can study it like we study gravity. This is morality akin to "social mores."
Of course, when we speak of morality, we don't just refer to the mores of any given culture, but we understand morality in relation to the direction that a certain worldview or philosophy wants society to go in. And I do uphold that philosophy and worldviews aren't entirely subjective, but can be demonstrated to be more accurate representations of our world than others. On that ground, certain moral or ethical systems can be concluded as objectively more accurate than another, in relation to other parts of the worldview from which a certain system is derived.
Lastly, to cpsk - I don't reject subjectivism solely on the grounds that it has been used to justify atrocities. I'm about to go to class, so I can elaborate more on why I do reject subjectivism afterwards if you'd like. For a brief preview, it would follow the analysis below, in relation to the philosophical world outlooks from which it is derived, and its utility and accuracy concerning a wide range of subjects.
First: that's fine. The interpretation holds up, so I don't have any reason for confusion about it anymore, thanks to the both of you.
Second: I tend to agree with PKG on the subject of the nature of morality, it seems.
Third: subjective doesn't mean "entirely unable to be critically examined," and opinions being able to be critically examined is more a measure of their basis in rational thought and/or empirical evidence. It doesn't make the opinion more objective, just better formed and more reasoned.
"opinions being able to be critically examined is more a measure of their basis in rational thought and/or empirical evidence. It doesn't make the opinion more objective, just better formed and more reasoned."
In any other field, well-reasoned opinions, especially opinions that can be demonstrated through scientific investigation and inquiry, are considered more or less objective fact, to the extent that anything can be truly known. Why should we not follow scientific principles when it comes to philosophy? If you make a philosophical claim about the nature of society, human existence, or any other thing that philosophers pontificate about, it should not be accepted or rejected without further inquiry, in particular scientific inquiry. If the philosophical claim is unfalsifiable, it's useless, and should be rejected.
The purpose of this poll is two fold, firstly to allow people to choose between the two, and also to bring attention to two positions of morality that appear to be accepted by a majority of people (not necessarily the same majority, but there almost certainly has to be overlap) while also being evidently contradictory.