This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comment

← Mr. Deity and the Philosopher

jameshogg's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by jameshogg

Anyone who wants to take moral relativity at all seriously really needs to go back in time where racism, sexism and homophobia were all the norm and make that argument then. Because I know that if and when time comes to walk the walk, like an opportunity to prevent minorities from harm, such a person will, if he has a conscience, find it very hard to hold such a hopeless position in practice. Things are quite different in the real world where you are too busy and occupied to sound so fancy and post-modern, or whatever.

I really, really do not care if there are millions of Muslims who think a woman's worth is far less than a man's. It does not make it right. If you want to say that the justice associated with stoning apostates to death equates to every other moral or immoral concept known to man, then by all means say it. But don't expect a reasonable audience, or even any ability to make it work in this world without betraying your conscience. It is a simple, convenient cop-out answer that gives an excuse to be lazy and allows for ignorance of the reality of the situation.

Let's also be clear: the difficulty that lies with finding objective answers to a few given moral dilemmas does not make the moral relativist's stance any less false. Finding the truth can be difficult or even impossible at times, but spotting a blatant lie is easy. Make no mistake about it.

My definition of morality has a general and specific form, and I like to use it as a critical thinking method. The specific form would be as follows: doing your best, with the knowledge and capabilities you have, to maximise the well-being and minimise the suffering of your fellow human beings by analysing the consequences of your actions. This includes preserving, as much as you can, the freedoms and liberties of your fellow humans to make their own choices in life as long as those choices do not infringe upon the freedoms of others.

In certain exceptions, such as the prevention of suicide through monitoring and medication, there can be legitimate infringing of freedoms in an effort to maximise well-being, but these infringements must be considered and handled with great care. And freedoms must be held as a default position if no adequate reason can be given to take them away (copyright and/or plagiarism is a legitimate restriction of freedom of speech; threats from childish barbarians if a Koran is burned, or even questioned, is not).

The general form would be this: just be fucking nice to each other.

If there is a better or more precise alternative to the definition I've given, I'm all ears. But seriously, don't waste my time with futile theories about moral relativism.

Mon, 29 Aug 2011 04:19:06 UTC | #865085