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Old 07-26-2013, 10:03 AM
 
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Can't speak for mordant, but here is my take on this...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Firstly, what does (im)moral mean? It is either moral or immoral!
So, I basically got you to say that if there is a consensus in a society for an act such as stoning women for adultery - such an act is moral according to their standards.
Right it is moral by their standards. Not by mine...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
And why would you try changing their view? If the populations of India and China (power of numbers) collectively decide to commit action X, you living in a minority country should essentially consider that action to be moral - regardless of what it is ... since you have already said that there is such a thing as a collective morality.
If my culture, my community did not overlap at all, I wouldn't. Think about Europe in the early middle ages. There was no attempt to interfere with India. It was on the other side of the world, and was not part of their community. As the world has grown more globalized, our communities have grown from families, to tribe, to nations, to a global community. The debate over how much influence you should have on others' behavior within a community is an ongoing one. If your neighbor want's to open a brothel in his house, should you be able to stop him? What is he want to grow pot, what if he want's to sell insurance? There is not single answer to how involved we should be in other people's business.

I can consider stoning to be immoral, but consider the imperative to mind my own business to be greater, or I can decide it is such a moral atrocity that I should get involved and try to change it. Just like you might consider it your business to challenge your neighbor's morality if he is kidnapping women and keeping them hostage, even though he thinks it is fine. We all judge based on our own morality.



Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
At Least you are consistent.
You do not judge the act of stoning women and killing women and children when they occur in other societies. You consider such acts to be moral within their respective societies since there is some sort of consensus for such actions. Okay, good!
I would agree that they might consider it moral. I do not, and I would want to try to influence them to stop doing it. It then becomes who can be more persuasive ( or coercive). It isn't pretty or idealistic, but it is how things work in the real world.

-NoCapo
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ankhharu View Post
I don't debate with others on religion. Just believe it to be a complete waste of time and it usually creates animosity and anger amongst the parties. Only when I am pushed into an argument, which is always by a Christian, do I engage in a debate. In those situations, I point out the holes and flaws in their religion and use science to support mine. They are short, because I have neither the time nor desire to waste my breath. I doubt anyone has ever changed signs due to a debate.
I agree that debate is useless for conversion. I tend to use a good debate as a way to better understand someone else's position and critically examine my own. It makes me think more deeply about something when I am defending it to a critic or explaining it to a skeptic.

-NoCapo
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
Sounds like a good think to talk about. I am saying morality does change over time, and is different across cultures. I am also saying that all of us judge everything by our own morality. The "collective morality" is what emerges when all these different moral outlooks interact. Maybe you can try to elaborate a bit more on why this is problematic for you?
Yes, this is very interesting for sure!

Quote:
It seems like you are getting hung up on the idea of a "right" to judge based on a particular morality. I have the "right" to judge anything I like, by virtue of having an opinion. Whether my judgement matters to anyone else is a different matter.
I know that you have the right to judge anything. But why do it?
Say, I am not a medical expert and I go to a medical conference, and scream out-loud that I do not like or approve vaccination. Sure, I have the right to say it ... why would I say it? Why would anyone care that I said it? I have nothing to add to medical science since I am not a scientist. I know nothing about the field. So why would I bother and why would anyone care?

Similarly, you have the right to criticize the Indian morality (e.g. arranged marriages). Do it all you want. But why would they care? And more importantly, why do you care?

I will try to tell you why I have a hard time buying your idea of morality. You started off by saying that people collectively decide what is good or bad. Fine. But then, when people collective decide action X, you say: " wait ... wait .. wait ... I do not agree, I consider action X to be immoral ... I know that because I belong to a more enlightened society". So now there is a competing morality being imposed. You just changed the model!

Quote:
It isn't simply power in numbers. Why should China behave more democratically? Certainly not based on population, but based on influence. Western morality is embodied in Western governments who influence political stability, and economic well being, Western education which is seen as very important in many other cultures, and Western entertainment and media which is consumed around the world. It is these factors (plus a legacy of colonialism and other assorted factors) that cause India to become more like the Western word than the opposite. Cultural norms do flow both ways, though. Just count the number of places in London that serve Tikki Masala vs Bangers & Mash...
I don't think the fact that Tikki Masala is sold in London somehow justifies your model of competing moralities. It is an interesting and novel idea, but is not quite true. If history teaches us anything, it is that different cultures did things quite differently. Sure, there was some commonality between them due to factors like: travel, wars and occupation (now immigration) - but it is a bit of a stretch to say that Indian culture is similar to Western culture. Even in Western culture, there are huge divides in definitions of morality (e.g. American Red states and Blue States; liberals and conservatives).

The influence of Hollywood, Western education, fashion is quite limited and superficial. Even within the U.S. the mainstream conservatives tend to hate "liberal" Hollywood. Just look at the difference in the definition of morality between the democrats and republicans when it comes to the issue of abortion.

You are telling me that it is not about the power of numbers; but I am saying that it is. Especially in the U.S. where every person can vote on these issues - i.e. power of numbers! India cannot export ideas like "arranged marriage". If they could, the entire world would be practising it. Hollywood movies, American jeans and Mcdonald's burgers are just easier to export. China has found a way to export products, so the entire world uses Chinese goods.

Global influence and power of numbers are very closely related. China (and India) are becoming more influential only because large portions of their populations are coming out of poverty.


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When Islamic culture was the economic and educational powerhouse, it was the one that influenced European civilization.
That's because they invaded everyone and burned down the existing infrastructure of culture, religion, etc.


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Nuclear fission is also dangerous. Denying it exists doesn't make it less so...
Yes, but I am rejecting the idea of individual morality. I don't think such a thing exists. If such a thing exists, then we should not jail serial killers, since in their heads, they consider the act of murder to be moral!
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:49 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
I can consider stoning to be immoral, but consider the imperative to mind my own business to be greater, or I can decide it is such a moral atrocity that I should get involved and try to change it. Just like you might consider it your business to challenge your neighbor's morality if he is kidnapping women and keeping them hostage, even though he thinks it is fine. We all judge based on our own morality.
Let me address this issue a little.

You consider stoning a woman to be immoral. But you also said, that a person's idea of morality comes from his own individual experiences. So, obviously, the idea that stoning a woman is immoral comes from the collective morality of the place you live in.

Now the place where they consider stoning women to be moral comes from their own collective morality. Such a morality has little or nothing to do with the collective morality of the place where you live. Clearly, there is a disconnect between both the ideas of morality.

So why would you pass your own moral judgements on the moralities of an alien system? Clearly the two systems have different codes. Again, you are free to judge them. But what is the point? Would you go to a Physics conference and judge their equations on string theory? You can if you want, but why would anyone care?
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
I know that you have the right to judge anything. But why do it?
Say, I am not a medical expert and I go to a medical conference, and scream out-loud that I do not like or approve vaccination. Sure, I have the right to say it ... why would I say it? Why would anyone care that I said it? I have nothing to add to medical science since I am not a scientist. I know nothing about the field. So why would I bother and why would anyone care?
Because there is no such thing as an authority on morality. Why is my view any less valid than a pastor's or a politician's? The only difference is the resources available in convincing other that I am right...

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Similarly, you have the right to criticize the Indian morality (e.g. arranged marriages). Do it all you want. But why would they care? And more importantly, why do you care?
You have the moral right to criticize your neighbor who mutilates kidnapped women in his basement. Do it all you want. If he is my neighbor, I am going to put a stop to it, and I don't care if he thinks it is right or wrong. Why, because I think it is wrong, and as part of my community our moralities interact. In this case, the rest of the community will probably agree with me, as we are all working off roughly the same page regarding individual liberty, human rights, and similar concepts, and as such we will enforce by coercios and naked force our morality on the non-conforming member. If the moral difference were not so egregious ( say he is a polygamist, all consensual), then it would be an agree to disagree situation. If society were markedly different , I would be the one getting run out of town...

Likewise, arranged marriages are something that I am not as worried about. Live and let live. However Western culture values the idea of a love match above all other reasons for being married. If you expose enough Indians to Western literature, Western Education, adn Western culture through entertainment like music and film, eventually these ideas will cause a shift in the culture. It isn't the result of a campaign to eliminate arranged marriage, just the natural result of two cultures rubbing up against each other.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
I will try to tell you why I have a hard time buying your idea of morality. You started off by saying that people collectively decide what is good or bad. Fine. But then, when people collective decide action X, you say: " wait ... wait .. wait ... I do not agree, I consider action X to be immoral ... I know that because I belong to a more enlightened society". So now there is a competing morality being imposed. You just changed the model!
At every level of society this force is at work. I have a moral opinion, which may be different than the local moral consensus, which may be different than the national consensus, and is certainly different than the consensus of another group. I don't have to agree with the group(s) about everything, but there is a general agreement.

At one point in Europe, it was the general consensus that only the king had any natural rights, then it was extended to the aristocracy, then to the "common man", eventually to other races, and finally to women. These changes are not instant, they are evolutionary. My children will start their understanding of morality in a different place than I did, and will evolve in different directions that I did.

This is not to say that everyone has to buy into the general consensus. It doesn't work that way at all. I don't decide what is moral, because everyone else agrees, but the general morality of the culture I was raised in has a huge effect on my own views of right and wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
I don't think the fact that Tikki Masala is sold in London somehow justifies your model of competing moralities. It is an interesting and novel idea, but is not quite true. If history teaches us anything, it is that different cultures did things quite differently. Sure, there was some commonality between them due to factors like: travel, wars and occupation (now immigration) - but it is a bit of a stretch to say that Indian culture is similar to Western culture. Even in Western culture, there are huge divides in definitions of morality (e.g. American Red states and Blue States; liberals and conservatives).
I am not saying that they are the same, but as cultures "rub up against" each other, over time they shape each other. For example there are differences in culture and moral frameworks in "Red" and "blue" states, but no one is advocating the divine right of kings, no one is arguing that individual liberty is wrong. We are quibbling about details, not about huge underlying moral differences. Several hundred years ago there were massive structural differences in moral outlook between England and India. After several hundred years, India is in a massive cultural upheaval involving arranged marriages, the caste system, wealth distribution, and the like. Several hundred years ago, these were not up for discussion, now they are debated. I predict in 100 or 200 years the caste system will be an oddity in history books. Why? Because it will have become almost universally regarded as an immoral institution, just like racial slavery has been in the US.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
The influence of Hollywood, Western education, fashion is quite limited and superficial. Even within the U.S. the mainstream conservatives tend to hate "liberal" Hollywood. Just look at the difference in the definition of morality between the democrats and republicans when it comes to the issue of abortion.

You are telling me that it is not about the power of numbers; but I am saying that it is. Especially in the U.S. where every person can vote on these issues - i.e. power of numbers! India cannot export ideas like "arranged marriage". If they could, the entire world would be practising it. Hollywood movies, American jeans and Mcdonald's burgers are just easier to export. China has found a way to export products, so the entire world uses Chinese goods.

Global influence and power of numbers are very closely related. China (and India) are becoming more influential only because large portions of their populations are coming out of poverty.
Absolutely! But you just pointed out that it is not just numbers. It is affluence, it is political power, it is cultural influence, it is art, it is literature that allows one culture to more effectively spread its view of morality. If and when India or China becomes ascendant for a couple hundred years, we will undoubtedly be shaped by their moral ideas, just as Western culture has been shaping global ideas for centuries.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
That's because they invaded everyone and burned down the existing infrastructure of culture, religion, etc.
Practically speaking it is an effective way of spreading your morality. Kill everyone who disagrees... It have been done countless times in human history and will be again, I am sure...


Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Yes, but I am rejecting the idea of individual morality. I don't think such a thing exists. If such a thing exists, then we should not jail serial killers, since in their heads, they consider the act of murder to be moral!
Nope, we can most assuredly jail or execute killers, because we as a group have come to the conclusion that this is unacceptable behavior, no matter what they think about it. It really is all about nested layers of consensus.

-NoCapo
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:11 AM
 
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I can leave these points in Capo's capable hands, though I would just comment in response to a remark of Sandman's earlier that in fact, despite regional and cultural differences, moral codes in various cultures have tended to go remarkably similar ways and the reason is that same need to try and give everyone a fair chance (since you never know when it might be you, and one group trying to keep the power for itself gets up the noses of the other groups), it is not hard to see how a relative and purely mundane morality can function, and be valid, though of course, there are problems with its lack of perfection, resistance of some groups to being reasonable and the lack of power of an authority to force compliance on someone who doesn't want to be reasonable.

But the reason for the post is that we have got past the Topic to arguing about the validity of relative morality or the validity of absolute God -given morality. It is not a question of whether atheists have been stumped over this one. We have been made to think but we are not stumped anymore. We have an answer and we think it makes sense and actually fits the facts that we see. It doesn't matter that Sandman and Wilson don't see it and maintain that we must be stumped because we are not coming up with an alternative to God as an immutable authoritative basis for morality.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Let me address this issue a little.

You consider stoning a woman to be immoral. But you also said, that a person's idea of morality comes from his own individual experiences. So, obviously, the idea that stoning a woman is immoral comes from the collective morality of the place you live in.

Now the place where they consider stoning women to be moral comes from their own collective morality. Such a morality has little or nothing to do with the collective morality of the place where you live. Clearly, there is a disconnect between both the ideas of morality.

So why would you pass your own moral judgements on the moralities of an alien system? Clearly the two systems have different codes. Again, you are free to judge them. But what is the point? Would you go to a Physics conference and judge their equations on string theory? You can if you want, but why would anyone care?
Because I think they are wrong, and I want them to stop killing women! Why should they care? They don't have to unless I can do something about it.

If my neighbor is killing women in his yard, he doesn't have to care what I think, unless I have a gun.

So as an example, we have a town with a Jewish population. Maybe the Jews are shunned or harassed by a couple of guys. If the town thinks that is morally wrong, then they will put a stop to it. If the town is ok with it, then locally it will be considered moral. The control here is to keep going up to the broader community. If your town is killing jews but your national community disagrees, they will shut you down quick. If your national community is on board, then the international community will do it (WWII). If no one is willing to go to the mat for the poor Jews, then it will be considered a moral right to persecute them.

This is exactly how it was for much of the last 2000 years. What changed? The other way morality changes is cultural. The ideas of individual rights, human dignity, secualr equality and such were spawned by thinkers in during the enlightenment and the reformation, wormed their way through European culture, infected and dramatically changed Christianity, and caused the shift from persecution of Jews being a moral duty to being an immoral action.

I impose my own morality on the world because that is the way it works. We all do it, and the result of all these moralities competing, cooperating, and coexisting becomes the dominant paradigm for one generation, only to be replaced with a variation of itself the next...

-NoCapo
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:48 AM
 
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To be honest, I am no longer sure what side I am fighting for. To be clear I do not condone (in any way) the following acts:
- stoning women
- killing Jews, Muslims, Hindus
- killing anyone really

I consider them all to be immoral.

Now, back to the debate

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
Because I think they are wrong, and I want them to stop killing women! Why should they care? They don't have to unless I can do something about it.

If my neighbor is killing women in his yard, he doesn't have to care what I think, unless I have a gun.
According to your definition of the foundation of morality, there is a difference between your neighbor and a person living in Saudi or India. Let me reiterate using an example: if your neighbor engages in a polygamous relationships, it is wrong according to the law of the land and the moral code of the land. However, if a person in Saudi or India engages in polygamous marriage, it is okay according to law and the moral code. Do you see the difference? Then why would you forcefully apply your moral code on them?

You can say that polygamy is WRONG. But isn't this an absolute statement or moral judgement? Similar to the absolute moral statements in the Bible? Who says it is WRONG? Might be wrong according to your (limited) worldview, but it is not wrong in India or Saudi.

Quote:
So as an example, we have a town with a Jewish population. Maybe the Jews are shunned or harassed by a couple of guys. If the town thinks that is morally wrong, then they will put a stop to it. If the town is ok with it, then locally it will be considered moral. The control here is to keep going up to the broader community. If your town is killing jews but your national community disagrees, they will shut you down quick. If your national community is on board, then the international community will do it (WWII). If no one is willing to go to the mat for the poor Jews, then it will be considered a moral right to persecute them.

This is exactly how it was for much of the last 2000 years. What changed? The other way morality changes is cultural. The ideas of individual rights, human dignity, secualr equality and such were spawned by thinkers in during the enlightenment and the reformation, wormed their way through European culture, infected and dramatically changed Christianity, and caused the shift from persecution of Jews being a moral duty to being an immoral action.
Yes, I agree with you. Thats how we were able to abolish slavery and get equal women rights. But these happened within the confines of a democratic set-up. Using the vote and the power of numbers (which you dismissed earlier).

Lastly, I get a feeling that you and AREQUIPA are trying to suggest that most of the moral battles have been fought and won. That is to say that the world as it is today is more or less on the same page - almost everyone shuns child abuse, murder is bad, and let's not kill minorities. While this is largely true, I think the REAL moral debates will begin once breakthroughs in science and technology are made sometime in the next 20 years:
- think extended human life: over 100 years or immortality
- think cloning
- think singularity, etc.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Firstly, what does (im)moral mean? It is either moral or immoral!
It's my way shorthand way of saying "moral or immoral" -- judging a particular thing as moral or immoral.
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
So, I basically got you to say that if there is a consensus in a society for an act such as stoning women for adultery - such an act is moral according to their standards.
You didn't "get me to say" anything. You heard me correctly though.
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
And why would you try changing their view? If the populations of India and China (power of numbers) collectively decide to commit action X, you living in a minority country should essentially consider that action to be moral - regardless of what it is ... since you have already said that there is such a thing as a collective morality.
If morality is collective then it is the result of negotiation, persuasion, and constant review, so no, if I'm in the minority I continue to have my own moral views and continue to argue for them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
You do not judge the act of stoning women and killing women and children when they occur in other societies. You consider such acts to be moral within their respective societies since there is some sort of consensus for such actions.
This doesn't mean it comports with my sense of morality, it's just that my sense of morality doesn't count for a society I don't belong to. I can and do judge stoning women in other societies but it doesn't matter that I do insofar as anything changing is concerned.

There is often a situation in other countries where morality isn't a matter of the power of numbers (based on true consensus), but just of power, period. If you're an absolute ruler without meaningful checks and balances, and you control the police, military and/or legislature, then you might impose your personal morality by sheer might (or sleight of hand, or whatever you can get away with). This is contrary to the moral consensus of the people and is seldom a sustainable situation although it can last sometimes for a generation or even multiple generations. However it is still up to the people of each society to assert themselves and pay the price for their freedom, just as the people of other countries have.
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:15 PM
 
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I will address the points that stuck out like sore thumbs ....

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCapo View Post
Because there is no such thing as an authority on morality. Why is my view any less valid than a pastor's or a politician's? The only difference is the resources available in convincing other that I am right...
`
You are stating that there is no such thing as authoritative morality, yet you are willing to impose your (Western) morality, rather selectively on ideas you do not approve.

For example, you are okay with polygamy and arranged marriage, but child marriage is a bit too far. In a way, you are picking and choosing what morality you want to apply and where you want to apply it. In other words you are not consistent. How can you be okay with polygamy and arranged marriage but be against abuse of women, when all these societal problems are interrelated? You want to treat the rash on the face but not the underlying immune disorder .... just for the sake of convenience.


Quote:
You have the moral right to criticize your neighbor who mutilates kidnapped women in his basement. Do it all you want. If he is my neighbor, I am going to put a stop to it, and I don't care if he thinks it is right or wrong. Why, because I think it is wrong, and as part of my community our moralities interact. In this case, the rest of the community will probably agree with me, as we are all working off roughly the same page regarding individual liberty, human rights, and similar concepts, and as such we will enforce by coercios and naked force our morality on the non-conforming member.
You are using an extreme example maybe to terrorize people into shifting opinion. But what if your neighbor was doing something less extreme? What if he was a marijuana dealer? In this case, the community opinion might be divided. What side will you be on? And what framework are you using to choose this side? Personal experiences? If you smoked pot in college you will support him, if not you will go after him? Isn't this a position of convenience? This isn't morality at all. What does this have to do with anything that you ever stated in the past many posts: collective morality, popular opinion, etc etc ....


Quote:
Likewise, arranged marriages are something that I am not as worried about. Live and let live. However Western culture values the idea of a love match above all other reasons for being married. If you expose enough Indians to Western literature, Western Education, adn Western culture through entertainment like music and film, eventually these ideas will cause a shift in the culture. It isn't the result of a campaign to eliminate arranged marriage, just the natural result of two cultures rubbing up against each other.
This is interesting. So you are saying that the Western morality is the CORRECT morality here!
Why should Western morality rub off on Indian morality? Why cant it be the other way around? I mean divorce rates in West are nearing 50% --- maybe Indian arranged marriage work.

Or are you saying that Western morality is an absolute morality (something that you vehemently opposed not to long ago)?

This is the main reason why your model of morality fails. You are somehow implying that Western morality is the correct morality (are you not?). And Indian and Chinese moralities are not ideal and should be changed. What if the Islamic world says that their morality is the better morality? What could you ever say to oppose that?

How would there ever be any consensus?
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