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Thread: What is a "Moral Relativist"?

  1. #1
    JetsInsider.com Legend
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    I am looking for a bit of clarification here, if you all don't mind. I, and a number of other Liberals, Independants and non-Republicans, have been called "Moral Relativists" a number of times here on this board. It is, honestly, a term I had never heard used before coming here.

    My question is very simple: What does "Moral Relativist" mean to you? What is the definition of the term? Why is it negative? Why are "Liberals" (meaning any non-Conservative) Moral Relativists?

    Sorry, but I would like to know what I am being called when I am called it, and I just do not know of this term. I want to know what you all mean when you call me that term.

    I encourage all Conservatives who have used this term to provide their definitions and their reasoning for using it.

  2. #2
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    Fisher, to be fair, I wasn't talking about you, personally, in my last post on the "Liberal Media" thread.

    But anyway, here you go:

    [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism[/url]


    This has more info than you may need. Some aspects of moral relativism are OK, such as judging people relative to their own culture as opposed to using the mores of your culture to judge a member of another culture.

    Moral relativism in its purely modern form is really mislabelled, and refers to people who try to rationalize or explain away evil actions, or who are very wishy-washy and afraid to take a firm stance on something, lest they be thought of a "close-minded" or "biased." It's almost, to me, a pathological fear of committing oneself to a strong opinion in and of itself. "Well, a rapist shouldn't be punished because his parents sexually abused him, or stealing isn't wrong if a poor person only does it to feed his family...but, again, I can see why the rape victim of robbery victim would be upset", or some other explanation that transfers victimhood to the perp in addition to the actual victim, blaming "society" for everything. Often the explanations aren't even as noble or relevant as my examples are. "Terrorism is justified because the USA did X."

    (Often, when moral relativists say this, they become moral absolutists with regards to the USA's or Israel's inevitable counter-attcks to terrorism. Palestinians can explain away their homicide bombings as justified responses to tyranny, but Israelis are 'wrong' absolutely, regardless of how many of their innocent civilians are killed by Palestinians!)

    The other extreme end of the spectrum is religious moral absolutism, which I find distasteful. Homosexuality is "wrong." Polygamy is "wrong." Pre-marital sex is "wrong." Etc. Often, the word used to insult a religious, moral absolutist is "ethnocentrist." That essentially means that those people think their culture, customs and morals are the only "true" ones and that everyone else, regardless of their indigineous culture, should be held to these standards. You don't find many people at either extreme.

    However, there are some basic human moral truths and standards that DO exist in my view, and true moral relativists would argue that there are NO absolute moral truths. I think slavery, murder, child abuse, rape, torture, stealing, slander, etc are pretty absolute and I have a hard time justifying them regardless of one's culture.


    In short, a current moral relativist is one who will bend over backwards looking for any excuse to rationalize or minimize evil actions, especially if those actions are committed by one of the several designated victim groups in our society and world, like Palestinians, minorities, homosexuals, etc. (They become absolutist only when evil is committed by white males, preferrably rich and preferably Christian white males...or all Jews, everywhere.)

  3. #3
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    yeah and if you are pro life but also pro death penalty, pro-war but at the same time anti- stem cell use then you have moral clarity.

  4. #4
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Oct 12 2004, 11:17 AM
    [b] yeah and if you are pro life but also pro death penalty, pro-war but at the same time anti- stem cell use then you have moral clarity. [/b][/quote]
    I am not pro-death penalty, and there is a difference between innocent life and the lives of people who are murderers and rapists, etc, anyway. But I am against the death penalty....you know that.

    I am not "pro-war." That statement is laughable. I hate war. I happen to not be a moral absolutist regarding war and support this war because I feel it is justified. You obviously disagree. But I an not "pro-war" as if I support all wars or wish there were more wars, etc.


    I am also not anti-stem cell research, and neither is President Bush, regardless of Kerry's spin.

  5. #5
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    wasn't talking about you i was talking about "people in general" and their moral clarity

    ---
    when a man kills another man in anger thats murder and that's wrong

    when a government drops a bomb on a wedding party that's war and that's right

    --

    when a hippie gets busted for weed (or a black youth for crack) and goes to jail for years, ruining his life, that right

    when Rush limbaugh illegally hoards enough hillbilly heroin to kill off an entire dairy ranch, he deserves understanding for his "problem"

    --


    or how about this one:

    when a man uses his father's connections to opt out of a war that's right

    when a man goes to war, wounded minorly 3 times and then goes home, where he exercises his right to free speech, that's wrong.



    moral clarity is such a wonderful thing.

  6. #6
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    "Free speech" - that's a good one. THAT is moral relativism...rationalizing the smearing, lying and slander of people by describing it as "free speech" and a "right."

    Hey, everyone...I saw Bitonti sexually abuse a child the other day. I saw it with my own eyes! Oh wait, now you want to know specific information?? Oh, well, I regret some of the harsh language I used....it's just that child sexual abuse IS a big problem these days and I just didn't want us to forget that as a society. I may have been untruthful in my remarks, but the Larger Truth about the problems of child sexual abuse are still valid and I was just upset. I'm just using my right to free speech and all. But I am not going to apologize to Bitonti....

  7. #7
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    I found another definition:

    [url=http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Moral_relativism]http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Moral_relativism[/url]

    [u][b]Definition of Moral relativism[/b][/u]

    Moral relativism is a view that claims moral standards are not absolute or universal, but rather emerge from social customs and other sources. Relativists consequently see moral values as applicable only within agreed or accepted cultural boundaries. Very few, if any, people hold this view in its pure form, but hold instead another more qualified verson of it.

    Protagoras' notion that "man is the measure of all things" may be seen as an early philosophical precursor to relativism. Moral relativists hold that an unsharable, personal, and aesthetic moral core lies at the foundation of personal choices. They deny the possibility of sharing morality at all, except by convention

    A simple way to express this view is that "everyone draws their own moral from the same story" and behaves according to their own impression, acceptance, or rejection of it.

    It is often confused with ethical relativism which holds that morality can be shared but only between closely-knit groups sharing a moral code and committed to joint action, e.g. an ethnic minority in a hostile situation.

    A moral relativist, on the other hand, would hold that even people in such a circumstance do not follow a common moral code, but are simply unable to follow their varying personal urges due to social pressure.

    [u][b]Moral relativism versus absolute morality[/b][/u]

    Moral relativism stands in contrast to moral absolutism, which sees morals as fixed by an absolute human nature (Jean Jacques Rousseau), or external sources such as deities (many religions) or the universe itself (as in Objectivism). Those who believe in moral absolutes often are highly critical of moral relativism; some have been known to equate it with outright immorality or amorality. Moral universalism is a humanist neologism that exhorts the use of logical and universally-common ethical standards, which together may form a philosophical alternative to both static absolutism and murky relativism.

    [u][b]Emotivism and universism[/b][/u]

    The individual viewpoint, also known as emotivism, argues that people judge morality based on their emotions and feelings. Universism further argues that only those individuals causing or directly affected by an action can make any judgment about the action's ultimate rightness or wrongness. Those judgments can be made on the basis of reason, experience and emotion.

    [u][b]Ethnocentrism or cultural relativism[/b][/u]

    Moral relativism has sometimes been placed in contrast to ethnocentrism. Essentially, the claim is that judging members of one society by the moral standards of another is a form of ethnocentrism; some moral relativists claim that people can only be judged by the mores of their own society. Other moral relativists argue that, as moral codes differ among societies, one can only utilize the "common ground" to judge moral matters between societies.

    One consequence of this viewpoint, also known as cultural relativism, is the principle that any judgment of society on the basis of the observer's moral code is invalid: individuals are to be judged against the standards of their society only, there being no larger context in which judgement is meaningful. This is a source of conflict between moral relativists and moral absolutists, since a moral absolutist would argue that society as a whole can be judged for its acceptance of "immoral" practices, such as slavery or the death penalty. Such judgments can be argued to be arbitrary through cultural relativism, although some relativists may still condemn slavery.

    The philosopher David Hume suggested principles similar to those of moral relativism in an appendix to his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751).

  8. #8
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by jets5ever[/i]@Oct 12 2004, 11:38 AM
    [b] "Free speech" - that's a good one. THAT is moral relativism...rationalizing the smearing, lying and slander of people by describing it as "free speech" and a "right."

    Hey, everyone...I saw Bitonti sexually abuse a child the other day. I saw it with my own eyes! Oh wait, now you want to know specific information?? Oh, well, I regret some of the harsh language I used....it's just that child sexual abuse IS a big problem these days and I just didn't want us to forget that as a society. I may have been untruthful in my remarks, but the Larger Truth about the problems of child sexual abuse are still valid and I was just upset. I'm just using my right to free speech and all. But I am not going to apologize to Bitonti.... [/b][/quote]
    no offense to you or your pops 5ever but we lost Vietnam and shouldn't have been there in the first place. that's HISTORY talking not me personally. Only the most brainwashed can honestly say that the Vietnam conflict was winnable... or the right move... so frankly i don't begrudge Kerry his post-war speeches and/or medal throws... he was there, he saw it, and that was his take on the situation. some agreed with him, many did not but it was still his right to speak, more than most considering he actually went there. Bush couldn't even be bothered to stop partying.

    was everything Kerry said true? maybe not but it was his right... difference between bad mouthing a war and bad mouthing a person (for example calling me a child abuser) = i can sue for libel, a war has no rights

  9. #9
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    Heres an example of what we mean when we use the term:


    Terrorists brutally kidnap and behead innocent civillians.

    Crooked guards at Abu Gharib take naked pictures of criminals.


    Moral relativist justifies one by citing the other.


    I can go on..


    Move on.org publishes comercials comparing the President to Hitler and the Nazis.


    Swift vets make commercials discussing their personal feelings regarding Kerry's post vietnam war behavior.

    Moral relativist justifies one by citing the other.

  10. #10
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    [quote][b]Terrorists brutally kidnap and behead innocent civillians.

    Crooked guards at Abu Gharib take naked pictures of criminals.

    Moral relativist justifies one by citing the other. [/b][/quote]

    Oddly, I never made that comparison, yet am still called a relativist. However, many Conservatives here have one very similar.....

    Saudi Terrorists based in Afganistan kill 3000 Americans.

    American & British Forces kill 10-20,000 Innocent Non-Combatant Iraqi Civillians in a "War on Terror".

    Seems Conservative Moral Relativiam justifies one by citing the other.......

    [quote][b]I can go on..

    Move on.org publishes comercials comparing the President to Hitler and the Nazis.

    Swift vets make commercials discussing their personal feelings regarding Kerry's post vietnam war behavior.

    Moral relativist justifies one by citing the other. [/b][/quote]

    Let me see if I have this clear.....

    The personal opinions on MoveOn.org are wrong and evil, but the personal opinions of SwiftBoatVetsforRepublicans is good and truthful, so are ok.

    Seems these two ARE the same, as I see it. In both cases you have extremely biased politically partisan special interest groups doing and saying what THEY BELIEVE to be the best way to defeat their political adversary.

    You claim of Relativism simply doesn't stand up Chiefs. Your own partisanship (obviously a SwiftBoat supporting Conservative) blinds you to the fact that free speech and political opinion works BOTH WAYS, and MoveOn has every right to compare GW to Hitler, if they think it is a fair comparison (a position which I do not agree with btw, for what it's worth).

    I think the term of "Moral Reletivist" is overused and misunderstood by many around here. They throw it around when it suits their politicial argument, and deney it themselves when their own politics demand it. Just like Hypocracy, something else we all are sometimes, many of us have at times shown positions of Moral Relativism here (all the "Clinton did X so it's Ok we did Y" are some similar examples).

  11. #11
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by Warfish[/i]@Oct 13 2004, 10:39 AM
    [b] [quote][b]Terrorists brutally kidnap and behead innocent civillians.

    Crooked guards at Abu Gharib take naked pictures of criminals.

    Moral relativist justifies one by citing the other. [/b][/quote]

    Oddly, I never made that comparison, yet am still called a relativist. However, many Conservatives here have one very similar.....

    Saudi Terrorists based in Afganistan kill 3000 Americans.

    American & British Forces kill 10-20,000 Innocent Non-Combatant Iraqi Civillians in a "War on Terror".

    Seems Conservative Moral Relativiam justifies one by citing the other.......

    [quote][b]I can go on..

    Move on.org publishes comercials comparing the President to Hitler and the Nazis.

    Swift vets make commercials discussing their personal feelings regarding Kerry's post vietnam war behavior.

    Moral relativist justifies one by citing the other. [/b][/quote]

    Let me see if I have this clear.....

    The personal opinions on MoveOn.org are wrong and evil, but the personal opinions of SwiftBoatVetsforRepublicans is good and truthful, so are ok.

    Seems these two ARE the same, as I see it. In both cases you have extremely biased politically partisan special interest groups doing and saying what THEY BELIEVE to be the best way to defeat their political adversary.

    You claim of Relativism simply doesn't stand up Chiefs. Your own partisanship (obviously a SwiftBoat supporting Conservative) blinds you to the fact that free speech and political opinion works BOTH WAYS, and MoveOn has every right to compare GW to Hitler, if they think it is a fair comparison (a position which I do not agree with btw, for what it's worth).

    I think the term of "Moral Reletivist" is overused and misunderstood by many around here. They throw it around when it suits their politicial argument, and deney it themselves when their own politics demand it. Just like Hypocracy, something else we all are sometimes, many of us have at times shown positions of Moral Relativism here (all the "Clinton did X so it's Ok we did Y" are some similar examples). [/b][/quote]
    Here we go again. You state that US forces killed 10,000 - 20,000 non combatant civillians in Iraq. That is a make believe number.


    As for your my example. When the swift vets talk about how they felt when Kerry sold them out to congress it is documented fact. The testimony to congress is recorded.

    Heres another example.

    Republicans talk about Kerry's record in the senate. Them point out how he voted against the first gulf war even though the coalition he allways talks about was in place for that war. (pointing out fact)

    Dem's say Bush lied and started a war so his oil buddies could make some money. (opinion with no evidence to support it)


    Moral Reletavists "Both campaigns are using smear tactics."

  12. #12
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    [quote][b]You state that US forces killed 10,000 - 20,000 non combatant civillians in Iraq. That is a make believe number. [/b][/quote]

    You completely missed the point Chiefs, and you damn well know it. Fine, 10-20K is made up. Say we killed only 3000 then. The point is still valid.

    By thje way, please enlighten me. What ARE the "official" Civillians casualty count to-date in Iraq. Please supply link. I would be interested to see how you know the reported 10-20K number is made up via your source discrediting that number.

    [quote][b] As for your my example. When the swift vets talk about how they felt when Kerry sold them out to congress it is documented fact. The testimony to congress is recorded.[/b][/quote]

    Yes, the testimony is recorded fact. So is GW Bush's policies and actions during his life and political career. Both groups are giving people their OPINIONS and feelings on those documented facts, nothing more, nothing less. While you can choose to believe the Swifties OPINION of the events of Vietnam over Kerrys opinion, it is still nothing more than a viewpoint, and opinion. You cannot tell me one is more "right" in utilizing free speech to progress their political viewpoint simply because you agree with them.

    [quote][b]Heres another example.

    Republicans talk about Kerry's record in the senate. Them point out how he voted against the first gulf war even though the coalition he allways talks about was in place for that war. (pointing out fact)

    Dem's say Bush lied and started a war so his oil buddies could make some money. (opinion with no evidence to support it)

    Moral Reletavists "Both campaigns are using smear tactics." [/b][/quote]

    And again, this is not something I have ever said or agreed with, yet I am King Relativist to some posters here.

    The problem with your "example" is you pick two items over two LONG careers that bolster YOUR opinion and viewpoint. Are you telling me you picked those two because they are somehow related directly? You cannot possibly think that.

    For a counter-example:

    Democrats criticise Bush for not-serving in Combat in Vietnam whnn he could have(Documented Fact).

    Conservatives criticise Kerry for wanting to give U.S. decision making power to France (An Assinine Statement).

    Conservative Reletivist: Both Sides are Using Smear Tactics, but the Conservative one is more important, more moral, more true, more blah blah blah.

  13. #13
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    read plato's republic to get a solid understanding of the relative nature of morality..

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