Saturday, 23 July 2011

morality can't be relativistic


Interesting article, but I disagree on the moral relativism thing. Defending moral relativism allows you to say that what is OK in one society, is OK in that society, regardless of how offensive it may be. So, for example, if circumcision, suttee, burqa, martyrdom, and other potentially obnoxious religious practices are OK in their respective societies, then, by your reasoning, and your defence of moral relativism, you have to OK these practices. America, for example, will no longer be allowed to play 'world police' and go around imposing democracy on everyone.

In the Rabbi's case, he's probably thinking about Hitler. If moral relativism is true, then Hitler was OK. Since Hitler was not OK, it follows that moral relativism cannot be true.

So whence do we derive our universally-felt moral repugnances, e.g. infanticide, to use his example? Well, certainly not from the Bible. Psalms 137:9 “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

The answer must lie in science. One example theory I've seen is primate group cooperation. So the idea runs like this: since primates, such as chimps, display group cooperation, aka morality, morality must be a survival instinct, or evolutionarily beneficial. So it's actually not that hard to come up with a universalist moral system based in science.

My 2c.

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