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Are you morally superior to a crack whore?

ronburgundy

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Where is it written that I have to like everyone? Why can’t I condemn behavior that I believe is both repugnant and immoral, regardless of whether it is illegal or even if everyone else thinks such behavior is OK? I don’t think being a crackwhore is acceptable behavior. I don’t think such people are to be trusted. I’m sorry but I do think people who violate criminal statutes are indeed immoral. We have an ethical duty to comply with the law, at least to the greatest extent we can. I got a parking ticket the other day. It was a minor moral failure on my part.

And don’t tell me Jesus requires us to like everyone. He didn’t. He lost his temper at the money changers, good on him, I say.

Whose implying that you have to like crack whores? Finding a person unlikable or untrustworthy is not the same as declaring they are immoral, and finding an action repugnant is not the same as declaring that action immoral.
You are tossing around "immoral" too loosely if you're making those equivalent.

Immoral acts are not just those we don't like or find repugnant, but those acts that should not be tolerated. Immorality implies that the person should be punished in some fashion to eliminate that behavior. It implies you have not just the right but the duty to use some form of pressure to influence that person and their future behavior.

Those of us who value individual autonomy and liberty to choose for ourselves, place a high bar on what actions warrant that kind of social coercion, and thus what actions are deemed "immoral" rather than just not our personal preference or taste. We reserve "immorality" for actions that cause clear and relatively direct tangible harm to other individuals, because those actions directly violate the core principle of individual liberty and thus cannot be tolerated in a society seeking to protect that value.

Authoritarians don't value individual liberty, so they deem anything against either their own tastes or the dictates of some authority (the law) to be immoral. That makes your moral system purely authoritarian and thus anti-thetical to human liberty and pretty much the entire Enlightenment. And in terms of a Enlightenment-based secular moral system, it makes you morally inferior to a crack whore (assuming the crack whore doesn't share your authoritarianism).
 

Bronzeage

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So here I am sitting on this island all alone wondering whether I should eat everything in sight or do otherwise. Moderation in all things pops into mind. I guess if person is social then I must agree with you that it must be transacional. Doesn't that get us in to a whole other set of problems when social means self survival or something like that?

Just being an ass.

You are quite fortunate to be marooned on an island where it's possible to eat enough that conservation of resources might be a consideration. This is one of the symptoms of the ease of modern life in a technological society. We need to think about over consumption. In the hundreds of thousands of years in which recognizable humans have walked on this planet, that has not been a problem.

The reason humans are social creatures is because non social humans die young. Leopards love non social humans. Social humans are another story. There's always one who is awake, so sneaking up on them is hazardous. They use sticks and rocks, which doesn't seem fair. A solitary human is easy prey, but going after a group of humans is not worth the trouble. Leopards are smart, but humans are the ones who out smarted the leopard.

They did it by forming groups with tight social bonds. These bonds are defined by what we call morality. Moral codes define proper interaction between group members and more important, what the group is expected to do when someone violates the moral code. For most of human history, exile was the most severe punishment. It meant certain death, but no one in the group had to kill a fellow group member.

Modern technology has granted us the freedom to consider selfishness. We are able to consider our own desires without suffering any immediate consequences. After all, we never actually see the many thousands of people whose cooperation makes our life so comfortable. This is the lady in China who made your shirt, or the butcher in Kansas City who just killed a cow for you. Self survival is an illusion. There's no such thing.

Sounds to me like you agree then that social convention basically defines what is moral. Those who defy social convention, (gays?) get thrown out of the tribe and eaten by leopards. I certainly agree with your post. Cooperation is our key survival instinct. And yet we are blithely unaware of the myriad of other people who make our lives worth living.

SLD

With whom am I agreeing?

In a society where leopards are a threat, being gay is probably low on the list of social violations. Restrictions on interpersonal relationships are an artifact of property ownership. Unlike killing and theft, there is no universal consistency about how homosexuality was regarded, so why some cultures perceived it as a threat to property, while others did not, is a difficult question.
 

steve_bank

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I agree that morality is a social consensus. Unless you believe in a deity handing down an absolute morality.

The majority moral consensus has chugged to accept gay rights. Today a single woman can intentionally get pregnant without the moral stigma of the past.
 

Bronzeage

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I agree that morality is a social consensus. Unless you believe in a deity handing down an absolute morality.

The majority moral consensus has chugged to accept gay rights. Today a single woman can intentionally get pregnant without the moral stigma of the past.

One of the aspects of a moral code is it relieves most people of the burden of thought.
 

steve_bank

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I agree that morality is a social consensus. Unless you believe in a deity handing down an absolute morality.

The majority moral consensus has chugged to accept gay rights. Today a single woman can intentionally get pregnant without the moral stigma of the past.

One of the aspects of a moral code is it relieves most people of the burden of thought.

Maybe that is the point, it promote social order. The prohibition against adultery in the 10 Commandments served to reduce violence and disorder.
 

SLD

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Sounds to me like you agree then that social convention basically defines what is moral. Those who defy social convention, (gays?) get thrown out of the tribe and eaten by leopards. I certainly agree with your post. Cooperation is our key survival instinct. And yet we are blithely unaware of the myriad of other people who make our lives worth living.

SLD

With whom am I agreeing?

In a society where leopards are a threat, being gay is probably low on the list of social violations. Restrictions on interpersonal relationships are an artifact of property ownership. Unlike killing and theft, there is no universal consistency about how homosexuality was regarded, so why some cultures perceived it as a threat to property, while others did not, is a difficult question.

A gay person is indeed not a threat or a serious moral issue. But you cannot deny that for centuries society has considered such behavior to be immoral, and thus those who engaged in such actions risked banishment or worse. It may not be logical, but that’s never stopped social norms of behavior from developing. The point I was making, and I made above is that society as a whole decides what is moral or not, and you seem to agree. How they come up with that may depend on a number of factors, way beyond our topic. And of course society evolves. 120 years ago, homosexuality, interracial marriage, premarital sex, and a host of other things were considered immoral that we would scoff at today. We think we’re more enlightened, even, dare I say it, morally superior to them.

SLD
 
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SLD

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Where is it written that I have to like everyone? Why can’t I condemn behavior that I believe is both repugnant and immoral, regardless of whether it is illegal or even if everyone else thinks such behavior is OK? I don’t think being a crackwhore is acceptable behavior. I don’t think such people are to be trusted. I’m sorry but I do think people who violate criminal statutes are indeed immoral. We have an ethical duty to comply with the law, at least to the greatest extent we can. I got a parking ticket the other day. It was a minor moral failure on my part.

And don’t tell me Jesus requires us to like everyone. He didn’t. He lost his temper at the money changers, good on him, I say.

Whose implying that you have to like crack whores? Finding a person unlikable or untrustworthy is not the same as declaring they are immoral, and finding an action repugnant is not the same as declaring that action immoral.
You are tossing around "immoral" too loosely if you're making those equivalent.

Immoral acts are not just those we don't like or find repugnant, but those acts that should not be tolerated. Immorality implies that the person should be punished in some fashion to eliminate that behavior. It implies you have not just the right but the duty to use some form of pressure to influence that person and their future behavior.

Those of us who value individual autonomy and liberty to choose for ourselves, place a high bar on what actions warrant that kind of social coercion, and thus what actions are deemed "immoral" rather than just not our personal preference or taste. We reserve "immorality" for actions that cause clear and relatively direct tangible harm to other individuals, because those actions directly violate the core principle of individual liberty and thus cannot be tolerated in a society seeking to protect that value.

Authoritarians don't value individual liberty, so they deem anything against either their own tastes or the dictates of some authority (the law) to be immoral. That makes your moral system purely authoritarian and thus anti-thetical to human liberty and pretty much the entire Enlightenment. And in terms of a Enlightenment-based secular moral system, it makes you morally inferior to a crack whore (assuming the crack whore doesn't share your authoritarianism).

Noooo! First finding someone untrustworthy is very much a moral statement. It is indeed directly relevant to their moral worth. Second, many people do find actions morally reprehensible, but accept that it’s for someone else to decide how to live their lives. Society has done so frequently throughout history. Homosexuality is the most obvious example today. Many people, religious assholes amongst them, do find such behavior morally repugnant but feel it’s none of their business. We hear such talk all the time from conservative Christians who claim to love the sinner but hate the sin. Whether they should believe that way is an entirely different issue.

Nor do I agree that being a crack whore is a matter of individual liberty. Such behavior is indeed a tangible harm to society at large. That’s why such behavior is illegal. Liberty especially as understood by our enlightenment forebears was never understood as you get to do whatever you want as long as you aren’t causing direct harm to someone else. There are reciprocating duties that we have to our society. We do have an affirmative duty to be productive citizens and not a drag on society. Not to undermine other family relationships, not to spread diseases, or even risk such. We have a duty to pay taxes, to serve our society in times of danger. I even believe we have a moral duty to be informed citizens and active in our political sphere. As Bronzeage pointed out we are interdependent on others for our basic necessities of living. And we have a duty to serve our society in positive and productive ways. Liberty has always been a two way street.

But I do agree with your post above that acting it out is how we enforce our moral codes without which they would be useless. How we should do so is a very different issue.

SLD
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Are adults morally superior to children? On balance the answer is yes. Are children morally superior to crack whores? Not sure about that one.

Relative behavior is what makes for moral superiority. That and societal norms.
 

Bronzeage

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Sounds to me like you agree then that social convention basically defines what is moral. Those who defy social convention, (gays?) get thrown out of the tribe and eaten by leopards. I certainly agree with your post. Cooperation is our key survival instinct. And yet we are blithely unaware of the myriad of other people who make our lives worth living.

SLD

With whom am I agreeing?

In a society where leopards are a threat, being gay is probably low on the list of social violations. Restrictions on interpersonal relationships are an artifact of property ownership. Unlike killing and theft, there is no universal consistency about how homosexuality was regarded, so why some cultures perceived it as a threat to property, while others did not, is a difficult question.

A gay person is indeed not a threat or a serious moral issue. But you cannot deny that for centuries society has considered such behavior to be immoral, and thus those who engaged in such actions risked banishment or worse. It may not be logical, but that’s never stopped social norms of behavior from developing. The point I was making, and I made above is that society as a whole decides what is moral or not, and you seem to agree. How they come up with that may depend on a number of factors, way beyond our topic. And of course society evolves. 120 years ago, homosexuality, interracial marriage, premarital sex, and a host of other things were considered immoral that we would scoff at today. We think we’re more enlightened, even, dare I say it, morally superior to them.

SLD

Where you go wrong is in believing that morality is a spectrum which ranges from less than superior to superior. This is a very common misconception and every modern culture(since 5000 BCE, give or take) has someone who claims their morality is superior.
 

fromderinside

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So here I am sitting on this island all alone wondering whether I should eat everything in sight or do otherwise. Moderation in all things pops into mind. I guess if person is social then I must agree with you that it must be transacional. Doesn't that get us in to a whole other set of problems when social means self survival or something like that?

Just being an ass.

You are quite fortunate to be marooned on an island where it's possible to eat enough that conservation of resources might be a consideration. This is one of the symptoms of the ease of modern life in a technological society. We need to think about over consumption. In the hundreds of thousands of years in which recognizable humans have walked on this planet, that has not been a problem.

The reason humans are social creatures is because non social humans die young. Leopards love non social humans. Social humans are another story. There's always one who is awake, so sneaking up on them is hazardous. They use sticks and rocks, which doesn't seem fair. A solitary human is easy prey, but going after a group of humans is not worth the trouble. Leopards are smart, but humans are the ones who out smarted the leopard.

They did it by forming groups with tight social bonds. These bonds are defined by what we call morality. Moral codes define proper interaction between group members and more important, what the group is expected to do when someone violates the moral code. For most of human history, exile was the most severe punishment. It meant certain death, but no one in the group had to kill a fellow group member.

Modern technology has granted us the freedom to consider selfishness. We are able to consider our own desires without suffering any immediate consequences. After all, we never actually see the many thousands of people whose cooperation makes our life so comfortable. This is the lady in China who made your shirt, or the butcher in Kansas City who just killed a cow for you. Self survival is an illusion. There's no such thing.

None of what you just wrote addresses my contention that morality includes self regulation. We are extremely group social. So What. it's not that if rules applying to the one can apply to the many.


Think of human social behavior as another bit of what goes in to the environment in which a person lives. Thou shalt not kill applies to between human and between the rest of in what a human finds herself. In a way that aspect of environment can be considered either social or just environmental conditions, Vegans operate thus. Morality, IMHO, are self reference constraints on what one is willing or permitted to do. Social status need not be considered. Nor does the species to which morality applies, fish or reptiles can operate with self imposed constraints on who one behaves. It's fundamental. It has often been, obviously, genetically programmed.

We are humans ane we maintain conceits that we think makes us unique, such as morality. What is probably human unique is religion where morality acts as an essential justifying condition. I'm not going there.
 

SLD

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A gay person is indeed not a threat or a serious moral issue. But you cannot deny that for centuries society has considered such behavior to be immoral, and thus those who engaged in such actions risked banishment or worse. It may not be logical, but that’s never stopped social norms of behavior from developing. The point I was making, and I made above is that society as a whole decides what is moral or not, and you seem to agree. How they come up with that may depend on a number of factors, way beyond our topic. And of course society evolves. 120 years ago, homosexuality, interracial marriage, premarital sex, and a host of other things were considered immoral that we would scoff at today. We think we’re more enlightened, even, dare I say it, morally superior to them.

SLD

Where you go wrong is in believing that morality is a spectrum which ranges from less than superior to superior. This is a very common misconception and every modern culture(since 5000 BCE, give or take) has someone who claims their morality is superior.

OK, but, if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not.

As I said above, I think people’s issues are with the phrase "morally superior to" rather than to the actual content. We all make moral judgments about others and in doing so we are asserting our moral superiority, even if only silently condemning some others actions.

SLD
 

Angra Mainyu

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SLD said:
OK, but, if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not.
That has repeatedly been shown to be false, in this thread. Having the moral beliefs of the majority, or even a vast majority, or behaving according to those beliefs, is not a guarantee of moral superiority over those who - for example - bravely fight against evil behavior by the vast majority who believe that they are the ones on the right.

Examples like slavery, punishment for homosexual behavior, etc., abound.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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A gay person is indeed not a threat or a serious moral issue. But you cannot deny that for centuries society has considered such behavior to be immoral, and thus those who engaged in such actions risked banishment or worse. It may not be logical, but that’s never stopped social norms of behavior from developing. The point I was making, and I made above is that society as a whole decides what is moral or not, and you seem to agree. How they come up with that may depend on a number of factors, way beyond our topic. And of course society evolves. 120 years ago, homosexuality, interracial marriage, premarital sex, and a host of other things were considered immoral that we would scoff at today. We think we’re more enlightened, even, dare I say it, morally superior to them.

SLD

Where you go wrong is in believing that morality is a spectrum which ranges from less than superior to superior. This is a very common misconception and every modern culture(since 5000 BCE, give or take) has someone who claims their morality is superior.

OK, but, if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not.

As I said above, I think people’s issues are with the phrase "morally superior to" rather than to the actual content. We all make moral judgments about others and in doing so we are asserting our moral superiority, even if only silently condemning some others actions.

SLD

Then moral superiority is nothing more than majority behavior. That can get tricky because we have majorities all over the place. Shall we use the entire human race, states, this neighborhood, that tribe over there, etc.? Moral superiority is relative so how valuable is it? All those different groups have different behaviors and therefore different morals. Who becomes superior to who?

Morals are really environmental dictates. A tribe that abandons old people and deformed newborns is no less moral than a society that does not.
 

steve_bank

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And there is misplaces morality.

A small group has birth rate, motaslity, and resources in balance.

Go in and inoculate children, provide pre natal care increasing ,ive birth rate and population grows beyond resources.
 

ideologyhunter

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Further reflections.
1) The question partly hinges on some ancillary issues. Does the crack whore use a cloth tote instead of accepting plastic bags at the store? Does the crack whore signal both left and right turns? Does she suppress elevator farts? Does she trap and release spiders and centipedes living in her house? Does she contribute to the Special Olympics? Does she air dry her clothes when possible, instead of relying on the dryer?
Because I do. Ta-da!
2) Because the question is original and off the beaten path and could use a collaborative approach, I suggest airing it at a large gathering -- say, Thanksgiving dinner, and in a somewhat playful, speculative manner, i.e., 'Who says Nana is better than a crack whore? Who says she's worse? Who wants to start? Kids?'
 

SLD

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Further reflections.
1) The question partly hinges on some ancillary issues. Does the crack whore use a cloth tote instead of accepting plastic bags at the store? Does the crack whore signal both left and right turns? Does she suppress elevator farts? Does she trap and release spiders and centipedes living in her house? Does she contribute to the Special Olympics? Does she air dry her clothes when possible, instead of relying on the dryer?
Because I do. Ta-da!
2) Because the question is original and off the beaten path and could use a collaborative approach, I suggest airing it at a large gathering -- say, Thanksgiving dinner, and in a somewhat playful, speculative manner, i.e., 'Who says Nana is better than a crack whore? Who says she's worse? Who wants to start? Kids?'

That would be fun.
 

SLD

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SLD said:
OK, but, if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not.
That has repeatedly been shown to be false, in this thread. Having the moral beliefs of the majority, or even a vast majority, or behaving according to those beliefs, is not a guarantee of moral superiority over those who - for example - bravely fight against evil behavior by the vast majority who believe that they are the ones on the right.

Examples like slavery, punishment for homosexual behavior, etc., abound.


I think you miss my point. All of us, except for maybe someone who is a complete moral nihilist, have views about things they consider immoral. And by doing so, you are, of necessity saying you are morally superior to those who engage in such activities. You may not like that phraseology, but that is what you are engaging in. You bring up slavery as an example. You consider it a moral evil. Do you not therefore consider yourself morally superior to a slaveowner? Let’s make it a modern slaveowner in the US. There have been some recent examples of such resulting in prosecution. I don’t see how you can avoid not considering yourself morally superior, unless you’re telling me that you make no moral condemnation of slavery.

SLD
 

SLD

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OK, but, if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not.

As I said above, I think people’s issues are with the phrase "morally superior to" rather than to the actual content. We all make moral judgments about others and in doing so we are asserting our moral superiority, even if only silently condemning some others actions.

SLD

Then moral superiority is nothing more than majority behavior. That can get tricky because we have majorities all over the place. Shall we use the entire human race, states, this neighborhood, that tribe over there, etc.? Moral superiority is relative so how valuable is it? All those different groups have different behaviors and therefore different morals. Who becomes superior to who?

Morals are really environmental dictates. A tribe that abandons old people and deformed newborns is no less moral than a society that does not.


Well social consensus would be more than a bare majority. It would be something the vast majority would agree upon. That can change over time obviously but that’s another issue.

SLD
 

Angra Mainyu

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SLD said:
I think you miss my point. All of us, except for maybe someone who is a complete moral nihilist, have views about things they consider immoral. And by doing so, you are, of necessity saying you are morally superior to those who engage in such activities. You may not like that phraseology, but that is what you are engaging in. You bring up slavery as an example. You consider it a moral evil. Do you not therefore consider yourself morally superior to a slaveowner? Let’s make it a modern slaveowner in the US. There have been some recent examples of such resulting in prosecution. I don’t see how you can avoid not considering yourself morally superior, unless you’re telling me that you make no moral condemnation of slavery.
I did not miss the point. But my point was that the claim "if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not." is false.

That aside, then no, by claiming something is immoral, one does not claim one is morally superior to those who engage in that something, for several reasons. For example, say Joe reckons that X is immoral. But Joe might say:

Joe:

"1. It might be that Jack engages in behavior X, but I engage in other behaviors that are worse, or that are less immoral individually, but I engage in many of them.
2. It might be that Jack engages in X, but also in morally praiseworthy behavior Y, and I do not do Y.
3. I engage in X as well. "
 

SLD

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SLD said:
I think you miss my point. All of us, except for maybe someone who is a complete moral nihilist, have views about things they consider immoral. And by doing so, you are, of necessity saying you are morally superior to those who engage in such activities. You may not like that phraseology, but that is what you are engaging in. You bring up slavery as an example. You consider it a moral evil. Do you not therefore consider yourself morally superior to a slaveowner? Let’s make it a modern slaveowner in the US. There have been some recent examples of such resulting in prosecution. I don’t see how you can avoid not considering yourself morally superior, unless you’re telling me that you make no moral condemnation of slavery.
I did not miss the point. But my point was that the claim "if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not." is false.
No. that statement almost by definition is absolutely true. That our moral views have changed overtime is a very, very different issue, and utterly irrelevant. You may no longer see such behavior as immoral. But during those times when people viewed such things as homosexuality as immoral, then such people who did not engage in such behavior would have logically concluded that they were morally superior.
That aside, then no, by claiming something is immoral, one does not claim one is morally superior to those who engage in that something, for several reasons. For example, say Joe reckons that X is immoral. But Joe might say:

Joe:

"1. It might be that Jack engages in behavior X, but I engage in other behaviors that are worse, or that are less immoral individually, but I engage in many of them.
2. It might be that Jack engages in X, but also in morally praiseworthy behavior Y, and I do not do Y.
3. I engage in X as well. "

Yes, but I premised my original point that such examples were not the case. Granted we can almost always find someone else who is engaging in far worse immoral behavior. Maybe you’re a genocidal maniac in which case I dare assume most people would consider a crack whore to be far more morally superior. WRT my question above, I’m assuming you’re not a slaveowner or worse. Now maybe you can find a slaveowner who engaged in some morally praiseworthy deed. US Grant once owned a slave, but later fought against slavery and helped significantly to bring about its destruction.

But the example I gave above was a modern US 21st century slaveholder, of which there have been a few examples. So are YOU (not some hypothetical other person) morally superior to a slaveowner? All other things being equal, I’d argue you should view yourself as morally superior to such a person.

SLD
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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OK, but, if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not.

As I said above, I think people’s issues are with the phrase "morally superior to" rather than to the actual content. We all make moral judgments about others and in doing so we are asserting our moral superiority, even if only silently condemning some others actions.

SLD

Then moral superiority is nothing more than majority behavior. That can get tricky because we have majorities all over the place. Shall we use the entire human race, states, this neighborhood, that tribe over there, etc.? Moral superiority is relative so how valuable is it? All those different groups have different behaviors and therefore different morals. Who becomes superior to who?

Morals are really environmental dictates. A tribe that abandons old people and deformed newborns is no less moral than a society that does not.


Well social consensus would be more than a bare majority. It would be something the vast majority would agree upon. That can change over time obviously but that’s another issue.

SLD

Interestingly, however, it can never change over time unless people outside that majority consensus are in fact morally superior, and then gather a new majority around their new morality. It is true that those new morals can come from within that majority, but those defectors from the old majority immediately become a minority holding a superior morality.
 

steve_bank

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Interesting how the dialogue is centered on the notion of superiority.
 

Angra Mainyu

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SLD said:
No. that statement almost by definition is absolutely true. That our moral views have changed overtime is a very, very different issue, and utterly irrelevant. You may no longer see such behavior as immoral. But during those times when people viewed such things as homosexuality as immoral, then such people who did not engage in such behavior would have logically concluded that they were morally superior.
That would not have been the logical conclusion, no. But you miss the point. Even if they had concluded that they were morally superior, that does not imply that they were morally superior. The claim "if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not." is false, and would remain false even if those who adhere to those morals believe that they are morally superior to those who do not. There is a crucial difference between the question of whether some some people (say, A1,...,An) believe that B1,..., Bm (which might or might not overlap with A_1, .., A_n) are morally superior to C_1, ..., C_k, and whether B1,..., Bm are morally superior to C1, ..., Ck. The first question is a question about the beliefs of A1, .., An. The second question is a question about moral truth, not about the beliefs of a group - however numerous they might be.


SLD said:
Yes, but I premised my original point that such examples were not the case. Granted we can almost always find someone else who is engaging in far worse immoral behavior. Maybe you’re a genocidal maniac in which case I dare assume most people would consider a crack whore to be far more morally superior. WRT my question above, I’m assuming you’re not a slaveowner or worse. Now maybe you can find a slaveowner who engaged in some morally praiseworthy deed. US Grant once owned a slave, but later fought against slavery and helped significantly to bring about its destruction.
But that misses the point. The point is that by claiming something is immoral, one does not claim one is morally superior to those who engage in that something.


SLD said:
But the example I gave above was a modern US 21st century slaveholder, of which there have been a few examples. So are YOU (not some hypothetical other person) morally superior to a slaveowner? All other things being equal, I’d argue you should view yourself as morally superior to such a person.
You mean, an adult slaveowner?
In practice, probably yes, though not of necessity. The person who owns slaves very probably is behaving immorally (though I can easily construct counterexamples).
However, that example misses the point entirely because:

1. It asks your interlocutor (me, in this case), and by doing so, puts pressure on that person to lie if the answer is otherwise. But for example, if I were a genocidal maniac, I may well not consider myself probably better than the slave owner, but you would be putting very serious pressure on me to lie about it, lest not be exposed.

2. Even more crucially (because it does not apply just to genocidal maniacs and the like), your example involves behavior (i.e., owning slaves) that is (usually) so immoral that it's very improbable that I might do worse. But forget about owning slaves, and go for a much less immoral behavior. Consider, for example, an adult who has had time to think about religion, and is a Christian (or a Muslim, or any other religion). I believe that that person is almost certainly behaving immorally by failing to assess the truth of Christianity with a sufficiently cool head. That results in their remaining Christians. In fact, I would say at least (being very conservative here; in reality, I think it's much higher) 90% of Christians are being immoral. But I do not consider myself morally superior to 90% of Christians. It might well be that much more than 10% of them compensate in another manner, by not being immoral where I am, or by supererogatory actions, etc.
 

SLD

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That would not have been the logical conclusion, no. But you miss the point. Even if they had concluded that they were morally superior, that does not imply that they were morally superior. The claim "if society has morals, however decided upon and what ever they are, then those who adhere to those morals are morally superior to those who do not." is false, and would remain false even if those who adhere to those morals believe that they are morally superior to those who do not. There is a crucial difference between the question of whether some some people (say, A1,...,An) believe that B1,..., Bm (which might or might not overlap with A_1, .., A_n) are morally superior to C_1, ..., C_k, and whether B1,..., Bm are morally superior to C1, ..., Ck. The first question is a question about the beliefs of A1, .., An. The second question is a question about moral truth, not about the beliefs of a group - however numerous they might be.



But that misses the point. The point is that by claiming something is immoral, one does not claim one is morally superior to those who engage in that something.


SLD said:
But the example I gave above was a modern US 21st century slaveholder, of which there have been a few examples. So are YOU (not some hypothetical other person) morally superior to a slaveowner? All other things being equal, I’d argue you should view yourself as morally superior to such a person.
You mean, an adult slaveowner?
In practice, probably yes, though not of necessity. The person who owns slaves very probably is behaving immorally (though I can easily construct counterexamples).
However, that example misses the point entirely because:

1. It asks your interlocutor (me, in this case), and by doing so, puts pressure on that person to lie if the answer is otherwise. But for example, if I were a genocidal maniac, I may well not consider myself probably better than the slave owner, but you would be putting very serious pressure on me to lie about it, lest not be exposed.

2. Even more crucially (because it does not apply just to genocidal maniacs and the like), your example involves behavior (i.e., owning slaves) that is (usually) so immoral that it's very improbable that I might do worse. But forget about owning slaves, and go for a much less immoral behavior. Consider, for example, an adult who has had time to think about religion, and is a Christian (or a Muslim, or any other religion). I believe that that person is almost certainly behaving immorally by failing to assess the truth of Christianity with a sufficiently cool head. That results in their remaining Christians. In fact, I would say at least (being very conservative here; in reality, I think it's much higher) 90% of Christians are being immoral. But I do not consider myself morally superior to 90% of Christians. It might well be that much more than 10% of them compensate in another manner, by not being immoral where I am, or by supererogatory actions, etc.

Well, if it makes you feel better, I think you’re morally superior to 90% of Christians.

SLD
 

steve_bank

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Interesting how the dialogue is centered on the notion of superiority.


GLOOP!

Speaking for myself, the problem with Christians is the presumption of moral superiority and position of an absolute moral high ground.

While I detest adults who sell drugs to kids and would like to have their throats cut and the body left in the gutter, I do not feel superior. It for me is a moral position, I am not 'superior' to anyone. Lest I become like Christians.

As to 'crack whore', there butfor the grace of god go I.

Literature is full of the stories of the once proud and self righteous who fall. I have seen it enough.

I worked in a high stress division of Lockheed in the 80s. Some people broke under the stress. Alcohol. One guy I knew had a breakdown and was running down the street screaming. Somebody blew his brains out in a car.

Unless you have been tested a feeling of superiority is about as meaningful as a Christian hypocrite.
 
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