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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Moral Reality: It's Whatever I Want It to Be!

Irin Carmon says we get to just make up whatever moral rules please us:

"The Rush Limbaughs of the world don’t get to define the boundaries of appropriate sexual or moral behavior. But something is happening: Women are defining those boundaries for themselves, with many men alongside them, and they’re being reminded that there’s a concerted movement to take that right of self-definition away. And we’re mad."

Hey, and let's have serial killers define their own morality for themselves as well. It's hard to see how Carmon could object to that, except to say it doesn't fit her definition.

42 comments:

  1. That's generally how morality changes over time. Gays in the past did not like the current moral rules pertaining to homosexuality. They, along with a sympathetic crowd, set out to change them.

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  2. Cody, the idea that morality "changes over time" itself ASSUMES that there is no objective morality. It is only true if one happens to equate morality with "whatever people think morality is."

    Do you think the solar system "changed over time," because once people thought the world rested on the back of turtles, then that the sun went around the earth, and then the reverse?

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    1. Even if we grant the premise that there is an objective morality, which one is it? Do you suppose that when people thought slavery was a legitimate practice that we knew what the objective morality was then? I want you to come out and say that you think slavery was moral. Or, if you don't want to do that, acknowledge that morality can change after all. If slavery was immoral and we didn't know it, and then we figured it out, that would mean that morality changed to a better version, more representative of whatever the "objective" version is. If that is possible, then it is also possible that changes in sexual mores are also a part of the evolution of human morality towards one that more accurately reflects objective moral law. Merely gesturing towards some hypothesis about the metaphysical structure of morality doesn't save anyone from having to figure out what it is.

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    2. "If that is possible, then it is also possible that changes in sexual mores are also a part of the evolution of human morality towards one that more accurately reflects objective moral law."

      Right you are, Dwayne? Did I imply that isn't so?

      But note that that's not what Camron claimed. She claimed we each have a "right" to define our own morality. That is WAY different from thinking (as I do!) that our understanding of objective morality evolves over time.

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    3. That weas supposed to read "Right you are, Dwayne!"

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    4. But by any reasonably charitable reading, Carmon is espousing the very common view that people should be allowed to have free determining power over their own lives. That is, that it is an objective right to be able to choose to lead your life the way you see fit, excepting cases where that would harm other people. The serial killer example doesn't meet that last criterion.

      It's too bad that people phrase this in a confused way by using "morality" to mean those set of values we all consider personal business, but it's no better to strawman their position for it...!

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    5. "That is, that it is an objective right to be able to choose to lead your life the way you see fit, excepting cases where that would harm other people"

      OK, fine, David, but that is my very point: she should embrace an objective moral right to make such choices, rather than declaring that we can each choose our own morality!

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    6. "It's too bad that people phrase this in a confused way by using "morality" to mean those set of values we all consider personal business, but it's no better to strawman their position for it...!"

      But David, given that she used "morality" that way, I am not creating a strawman at all! In another post, I laid out very explicitly that she really meant just what you said she really meant. I got that all along. But crappy ways of expressing things are not without consequences, and I was trying to draw out those consequences. That is not the construction of a strawman!

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  3. You think there's an objective moral order? What do you mean by that?

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  4. "You think there's an objective moral order?"

    Certainly.

    "What do you mean by that?"

    Well, for instance, that murder is wrong, whether or not you believe that to be so.

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    1. So, Seal Team Six is immoral. Police are immoral. Define murder versus killing and you have self-defining morality. Are you vegetarian? Is killing animials murder? Is killing someone's family dog murder? Yep, you're right, very simple universal standard.

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    2. Define murder. Seal Team Six was morally corrupt. Self-defense is morally corrupt. Not being a vegetarian, is that murder? If not, then is killing a family dog for spite murder? Define away and make sure it reflects your priorities and your values and then you understand why morality is a growing thing. Most of the ancient world ignored slavery. Much of our country did. Today we find it immoral. Explain how morality itself is loving others as you would want to be loved but our understanding of what that is evoles without understanding how our morality evolves.
      Schizophrenia was demonic until we understood it and meds helped. But it was moral to villify these people, right? Or have we evolved?

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    3. Brena, people's opinion about the solar system changed over time. Does that mean that once the earth stood on the back of a turtle, and only since Copernicus has it revolved around the sun? Or was there always an objective solar system there, and our understanding of it has gotten better over time?

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  5. I think we can thank Jeremy Bentham (and possibly--it pains me to say it--Mises) for this state of affairs. I'm mad! Let's bring stuffy back, Gene.

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  6. On cannot recall too often Bentham’s profound remark that “right” means “conducive to the greatest good of the greatest number” or it means nothing at all.

    Especially in light of the fact that “right” does not mean “conducive to the greatest good of the greatest number.”

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  7. I certainly think women deciding for themselves what happens with their bodies rather than letting outsiders do so equivalent to serial killers' self-justifications. Nothing more evil, in my book!

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    1. Mad Dog, you've made the same mistake as Iris below, but since you've done so without being insulting, I will not respond as I did to her.

      I certainly do not think these things are equivalent either. But Camron declared that people have a "right" to define their own morality. I was pointing out an unsavoury consequence of looking at things that way: if that is so, then serial killers must have such a right as well, correct?

      The very value of the serial killer example is that it is so unlike Camron's cases, and yet, given the principle she states, it ought to follow that serial killers also have this "right."

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  8. Oh, absolutely. Women and other enlightened peoples' long and continuing struggle to redefine sexual morality in terms of enthusiastic consent is exactly like letting serial killers define morality for themselves.

    Sad to see so many tragic cases of Conservative Personality Disorder making asses of themselves on the internet, but what can you do? Oh wait! I remember: I can laugh my ass off!

    HILARIOUS.

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    1. Iris, since you've decided to come here and be insulting, let me note that you are too stupid to recognize a reductio ad absurdum or to recognize how one works. The point of a reductio is to present an extreme case, and show that it follows from one's opponents principles. The value of the example is precisely that it is quite UNLIKE, and not "exactly the same," as one's opponents example. And yet, from the *principle* used by one's opponent, it follows that s/he ought to reach a conclusion that obviously s/he doesn't want to reach.

      So the question is, if there is a *right* to "define one's own morality," why *don't* serial killers have the right as well? But too dull-witted to even realize that was the question on the table, all you could do was resort to name-calling.

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    2. Great coining of a clearly ubiquitous psychological ailment. "Conservative Personality Disorder" - CPD, gotta love it. LMAO, good response to the above.

      CPD fits right in with the "GOPanties" platform led by Issa and the rest of the reactionary right wing clowns.

      Government cannot legislate morality. Our founding fathers put a lot of effort into removing morality and religious dogma from the framework of our legal system for a reason.

      This seems to be a concept that some just can't wrap their heads around. You are absolutely entitled to your own beliefs. You are absolutely not entitled to decide what mine are.

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    3. So Max, besides you're ranting and name-calling, you seem to make one substantive point: "You are absolutely entitled to your own beliefs. You are absolutely not entitled to decide what mine are."

      And that was the very point of my example. So if I'm into serial killing and you're not, you're attitude will be, "Hey, good with the serial killing, dude! That's just not my bag!"

      Or would you make a stand and say, "You're beliefs are wrong, and if you act on them you should be arrested?"

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    4. Doesn't everyone define their own morality ?

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    5. I can imagine a situation where a populations might get together and say "we have a vested interested in preventing serial killers from thriving - lets throw them all in jail".

      I'm not sure this qualifies as an objective morality though. One can (at a stretch) imagine a society where everyone had (say) a high tolerance for danger and little empathy with others where a morality not averse to serial killing might thrive.

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    6. "Doesn't everyone define their own morality ?"

      Rob, that would then be preferences or whims, not morality.

      "One can (at a stretch) imagine a society where everyone had (say) a high tolerance for danger and little empathy with others where a morality not averse to serial killing might thrive."

      Rob, did the fact that people "defined" blacks as sub-humans in the antebellum South make slavery just fine?

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  9. I think I understand your position, but I would argue that your insights carry less significance than you seem to think.

    But first, I'd like to make a pragmatic point (and it is always important when discussing philosophy to at least nod in the direction of pragmatism, lest one be mistaken for a pure mathematician). Under most circumstances, it doesn't matter whether there is an objective morality or not, since all the evidence suggests that even if there is an objective morality, the historical record indicates that humanity has not demonstrated any great aptitude for identifying it; our ideas of what is and isn't moral have changed wildly over the centuries.

    That said, I agree that taken at face value, the claim that "Women are defining [the boundaries of appropriate sexual or moral behavior] for themselves" is incompatible with the assumption of an external objective morality. And even if one subscribes to a view of morality as a set of social conventions, I agree that it would be troubling if one person or group were bilaterally rewriting those conventions.

    But I don't see where these observations get you.

    Let's assume, for a moment, that we should be working within a discursive framework where morality is assumed to be absolute. In such a setting, it is not possible to redefine morality (in fact, given that definitions are inherently syntactic, whereas the truths of an objective morality would presumably be independent of linguistics, it seems pretty clear to me that Carmon was not intending her comments to be interpreted in such a framework). However, as I noted above, we have no access to the absolute truths that comprise this external morality. Instead, we must engage in moral reasoning to try and deduce the properties that this absolute morality must have, and thus try and draw conclusions about what is and isn't moral. Functionally, this is equivalent to a world where morality is agreed upon by social convention. However, a phrase such as "our society has decided that activity X should be considered moral" would have to be translated as "we have agreed that our best understanding of objective morality leads to the conclusion that activity X is moral". These sentences have different implications for one's philosophy of morality, but they are otherwise equivalent. For that reason, one can read Carmon's comments, making the appropriate translations to reflect your philosophy of morality, and your objections seem to fade away.

    I want to elaborate a little on why they fade away. This is because, in light of my comments, and despite your rather inflammatory comparison between the ongoing evolution of the understanding or sexual morality and the self justifying morality of a serial killer, the comparison does not stand up to scrutiny. Carmon is not claiming that women are just unilaterally rewriting the laws of morality for their convenience. She is suggesting that they have made a moral case that has been accepted by our society as a whole, which is either (depending on your position) that we are best served by endorsing a morality that grants individuals considerable leeway to determine which sexual behaviors are and are not acceptable to them, or that our best understanding of the objective morality is that individuals should have such leeway.

    I can imagine that you might object to this reading, and argue that Carmon is suggesting that the boundaries under discussion are morally absolute rather than personal. but again this is just a linguistic nicety. My reading of her claim is that the range of morally acceptable sexual behaviors be considered to be (or is, depending on your perspective) quite wide, but that an individual's right to decline to engage in an otherwise moral act is paramount.

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    1. "She is suggesting that they have made a moral case that has been accepted by our society as a whole, which is either... that we are best served by endorsing a morality..."

      I see how morality works. So when can say, "In 1800, Americans realized they were best served by endorsing a morality that regarded Indians as sub-humans, who could be killed or driven off of their land as was convenient."

      Wow, morality is actually pretty handy, once you get the hang of it.

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    2. Oops, "So we can say..."

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    3. I thought I replied to this last night, but I must have screwed up the posting process somehow. Sorry!

      I actually agree with your points here, but I'm not sure where you think that takes us. I get the impression that you think you have demonstrated a reduction ad absurdum, but I don't get it.

      In 1800 the European settlers believed that driving Indians from their land was a morally good action. Now, we believe that these actions were reprehensible (although not so reprehensible that we think that the land should be returned to the tribes). End of story.

      The only way that I can think that this is problematic is if I were arguing that it is an absolute moral good to follow the dictates of the currently prevailing socially agreed upon morality. But of course I don't believe this - it would entail the existence of an absolute morality!

      What is interesting, though, is that the settlers bent over backwards to develop a self-serving morality that would permit them to do what they wanted. Why would they do this? My guess is that (almost) no one wants to think of his or herself as a bad person.

      So, when people want to do something that they find morally troublesome, they face two competing forces. They have their own, highly developed sense of cognitive dissonance trying to find a way to make it OK for them to perform the action. And they face the pressures of society forcing them to adhere to existing norms. Generally, the societal pressures will win, but when a large enough proportion of the society wants to perform the questionable act, then cognitive dissonance can win out. For this reason, I would argue that morality can constrain individuals, but seldom acts as an effective constraint on a society.

      Of course, this process is very similar (even functionally equivalent) to the process of a society revising its morality for more rational reasons. The only difference is that the proponents of change would be making legitimate moral arguments rather than engaging in cognitive dissonance.

      I used to believe that the best way to allow a society to make the second type of change without permitting the first would be if it had a sufficient quantity of philosophically literate citizens (i.e. liberal arts graduates) who would be equipped to identify cognitive dissonance when they saw it. Unfortunately, America's great moral failures (by my standards, and those purported to be held by the American public) in the wake of 9-11 have left me disillusioned on this front.

      So yes, morality is a useful tool. And I would not necessarily consider another’s actions to be moral simply because that other person is following his or her morality.

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    4. "In 1800 the European settlers believed that driving Indians from their land was a morally good action. Now, we believe that these actions were reprehensible (although not so reprehensible that we think that the land should be returned to the tribes). End of story."

      Well, one can arbitrarily declare "end of story" whenever one wants. I could say, "All there is to it is that the Sumerians thought the earth was a flat disk, while we think it is a sphere. End of story."

      Well, most of us think that, no, that's not the end of the story: we are OBJECTIVELY right, and the Sumerians are OBJECTIVELY wrong in these views.

      "The only difference is that the proponents of change would be making legitimate moral arguments rather than engaging in cognitive dissonance."

      If there is nothing objective about morality, than there are no "legitimate moral arguments": there are just opinions: I like vanilla, and you like chocolate, and what the hell would it mean to make a "legitimate argument" that you really ought to like vanilla instead?

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  10. Continuation...

    The analogy with the serial killers just does not stand up to scrutiny. I have seen few instances of serial killers attempting to make a moral argument that their actions were justified, and none where those arguments have been accepted by society at large. I cannot imagine a serial killer who subscribes to the idea that morality is a set of socially agreed-upon norms making the claim that he or she has persuaded their society that their actions should be deemed moral. Likewise, I cannot imagine a serial killer who believed in an objective morality making a convincing argument that his or her serial killing actions were consistent with that objective morality. In fact, I doubt that many serial killers try to make moral claims at all, although that is a judgment that is outside my ken.

    (It is possible that some serial killers have successfully made such arguments. However, if such a thing happened, we would likely have reclassified the killer in such a way as to reflect the fact that he or she were considered not to have behaved immorally - in fact, we'd probably have found a way to define him or her as a hero - since it is implicit in the definition of a serial killer that he or she has acted immorally. But this is speculative - I can't think of any examples off hand.)

    Finally, although in my first paragraph I wrote "the historical record suggests that humanity has not demonstrated any great aptitude for identifying [the objective morality]", this is not necessarily the case. It is possible that the objective morality is highly contingent - that the rightness or wrongness of various actions depends strongly on the circumstances. For instance, I could imagine (but do not subscribe to!) a morality where it is immoral for a rich country that can afford to detain prisoners for lengthy periods to engage in capital punishment, but that it is morally acceptable for poor countries to execute prisoners. However, even in such a case, the complexity of the morality means that we must still rely heavily on moral reasoning, in order to draw conclusions about what is and isn't moral at any given time.

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    1. "I have seen few instances of serial killers attempting to make a moral argument that their actions were justified, and none where those arguments have been accepted by society at large."

      And such acceptance only makes the least bit of difference if one already holds that morality is socially defined! Petitio principii indeed.

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    2. I don't think that you understand my point; it was not an instance of petitio principii.

      My position was that if we consider morality to be a set of social conventions, then the comparison between the "women...with many man alongside them" who have been "defining the boundaries" of "appropriate sexual or moral behavior", and serial killers is invalid.

      I would note that this assumption, that morality is a set of social conventions, is a valid assumption to make. This is because you were yourself assuming it for the purposes of a reductio argument, and I am refuting that argument.

      Your reasoning seems to be:

      (1) Suppose that morality is a set of social conventions.
      (2) Then the fact that women have been able to change our society's sense of morality concerning sexual matters means that other people will also be able to change our sense of morality in other domains.
      (3) In particular, serial killers could change our sense of morality so that their actions would be construed as moral.
      (4) This is abhorrent - any reasonable moral system should prevent such an outcome.
      (5) Therefore, either our moral system is unreasonable, or it is immutable. In the first case it is useless, and in the second, (1) is false.

      I may have misunderstood your reasoning slightly - it is possible that you actually intended your argument to run like this:

      (1), (2), (3), as above.
      (6) There have been no cases of a serial killer successfully changing society's morality in order to retrospectively reclassify his or her actions as moral.
      (7) Since the assumption of (1) predicts such a successful attempt, (1) must be false.

      My point is simply that (3) does not follow from (1) and (2), so both of these lines of reasoning are invalid.

      I will try and spell out the steps of my reasoning: Under the assumption that morality is considered to be a set of social conventions, then it can only change by some sort of society-wide consensus. This is actually a very high bar to clear (the bigger the society, the higher the bar). The "women...with many men alongside them" have achieved this change by means of persuasion over many years. And they have really only nudged our society’s understanding of sexual morality a fairly short way.

      Now consider what a serial killer would have to do to achieve comparable results. Making a moral argument would mean that the actual facts of the serial killings would have to be undisputed – saying “I didn’t do it” is not a moral defense. The killer must address the totality of his or her killings, and make the case that they were, collectively, the “right” things to do. This is very difficult simply because the in most societies, the moral interdiction against killing is very strong. The killer must make a correspondingly strong case, and it is hard to see this happen.

      I would agree that if a serial killer did conduct such a campaign, and did so successfully, then that would be a valid comparison. But even in such a case, I still don’t know what you think that would disprove! I am pretty sure that were someone to make such a case, we would no longer consider him or her to be a serial killer. The conclusion (4) that this is an abhorrent outcome would be much harder to sustain, and would depend on the details of the specific case.

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    3. The author did not state that morality is a social convention: she said we get to define our own.

      But ok, the social convention outlook has bad results as well: it was a social convention in the South for a hundred years that black people were second class citizens. Was that morally ok during that time, then?

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    4. "we would no longer consider him or her to be a serial killer."

      And your really confusing things with this move. Of course, if "we" are convinced the X is not abhorrent, we won't find it abhorrent! But we can look at other societies, see things they did not find abhorrent (anti-semitism in Nazi Germany, suttee in India, Aztec human sacrifice, etc.) and say "That was abhorrent despite the fact they didn't think so."

      Or do you deny that?

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    5. Your two comments make separate points, but for some reason I cannot reply to them individually.

      I'll address your second comment first. I actually addressed this in a comment last night, but something went wrong, and it didn't get posted. I have now tried again. It is the comment beginning "I thought I replied to this last night, but ...".

      But to cut a long story short, no, I do not deny this. People have acted and continue to act in ways that I find abhorrent, but which they find morally acceptable. I find this lamentable (why can't everyone just agree with me?), but I don't see how it undermines my position.

      I think that the difference in our perspectives is that you see morality as a much stronger force than I do. I don't see why we should expect the innate desire for moral rules to lead to a uniformity of morality across cultures. This is not to say that when we perceive immorality in another culture we must simply accept it; it is perfectly reasonable to argue against such the immoralities that you perceive, using moral arguments. Of course, such arguments seldom win the day quickly, because no one likes being told that he or she is a bad person, especially by a cultural outsider. But making the attempt seems reasonable, and such efforts can succeed in the long run (look at the successes that 19th century Christian missionaries had in spreading their morality).

      As for the point contained in your first comment ("The author did not state that morality is a social convention: she said we get to define our own."): I agree that this is a valid point. But really, I think that the most that can be made of this is that Carmon was guilty of some slightly sloppy wording.

      I read her comment as meaning that the range of sexually permissible actions has been increased by years, as a result of years of advocacy, but that a key element of sexual morality is now consent. In other words, the range of morally acceptable behaviors in which a couple may engage is potentially quite large, but can be restricted by what the two individuals are prepared to consent to.

      For example, consider a heterosexual couple, consisting of a woman who wants a child and a man who does not. Suppose further that the woman lies to the man, claiming that she is using birth control when she is not, and subsequently becomes pregnant. There is nothing immoral per se about becoming pregnant. But the woman's actions were immoral, in that the man had not given consent to engage in contraceptive-free sexual activity.

      Of course, you are right that Carmon was not talking explicitly about a socially agreed upon morality. But I think that, given the context of her piece, it was implicit. And regardless, you used her comment as the starting point for a larger attack on subjective morality in general, so it seems reasonable to introduce the notion of a morality as a collection of social rules into the discussion.

      But, if it makes you feel any better, I will also concede that a system where each individual makes up his or her own moral rules, independently of the people around them, and then expects to be treated in accordance with those rules, would be a silly system. But I'm pretty sure that that is a straw man - that it is not what Carmon was describing.

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    6. "In fact, I doubt that many serial killers try to make moral claims at all, although that is a judgment that is outside my ken."

      Serial murders, torture, rape, abuse of every kind, theft, wholesale destruction of private property and livelihoods... Every evil known to mankind IS and HAS been practiced since the dawn of time by every involuntary government that ever existed. The horrifying thing is that most people not only tolerate it, but justify it.

      The very things most people would understand to be immoral behavior if done by their neighbors is usually praised as patriotic moral necessity when done in their name by those in political power.

      So, yes, the serial killer most certainly does choose his own morality... as long as he gets enough votes.

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  11. Postscript - (Yes, I know, I'm going on and on. No more after this, I promise!)

    I think I should mention (although it is irrelevant to my arguments in my earlier comments) that I have a lot of trouble understanding the sort of objective morality that you describe. What exactly is the status of such a thing? If it is not tangible, is it something like the physical laws of the universe? If so, then what are the objective implications of actions that are moral or immoral? Where did this morality come from? Does it serve some purpose? And if not, then why would it be immoral to adhere to this moral code?

    My own view is that we are social creatures, and as such, we have developed certain ways of behaving that will enable us to function in social groups. One of these is a tendency to collectively develop, acknowledge, and adhere to social rules. This tendency manifests itself in the fact that we learn (especially as children, and especially from our parents) what is right and what is wrong. This is a fact that is implicitly acknowledged by many conservatives when arguing for the role of parents in teaching their children about morality.

    Interestingly, it is a consequence of this that even if we accept that morality is a set of socially agreed upon conventions, we still behave as if it is absolute; to be able to do otherwise would make us sociopaths, following only the rule of "don't get caught", and we would not survive long as a social species if too many of us were sociopaths.

    I would also point out that we frequently refer (approvingly) to people as "having a strong moral code". This terminology suggests that this person's morality comes from within; it is that individual's code that is strong. Otherwise, we would say, he or she "has a strong impulse to behave morally". To be sure, we do say such things (although more poetically than I have) too, but that doesn't change the fact that "having a strong moral code" is an established figure of speech.

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  12. “Hey, and let's have serial killers define their own morality for themselves as well.”

    Ummm, guess what? They already DO. In fact, we ALL make our own moral decisions; the easiest way to understand it is that we have Free Will to make the right or wrong choices with our lives.

    The difference is that the state punishes killers for their actions. Whether it's moral or not doesn't terribly matter: I don't accept others' rights to determine whether or not I live. I want a society that gives me the choice of how I live, and so do we all. We pass laws to punish behavior that takes away our rights.

    For some, however, a just society is not the objective. “A” thinks that HIS moral codes should apply to “B”'s individual choices, regardless of whether or not B affects A. That's basically the difference between theocracies and other societies the world over: in a theocracy, a few individuals seize the power to declare what is moral and therefore, what is allowed. No appeal to democracy is possible. So fundamentalists stone women who try to break out of marriages they were coerced into, because Some Grand Poobah said it was necessary to appease an Angry God.

    Why the nation of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness should revert to millenia-old fundamentalist rules beats me. Say what you want about changes in moral notions, the real change is that some politicians are trying to repeal the important religious concept of Free Will in their rush to repeal individuals' ability to live their own lives.

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    1. "Ummm, guess what? They already DO. In fact, we ALL make our own moral decisions..."

      Walt, you seem very confused here. Who doubts why make out own moral decisions? But that doesn't mean we "define our own morality."

      Think of it this way: You and I each choose where we walk, drive, fly, etc. on our own, right? Does that mean we each create our own, private physical universe?

      When you complain about theocracies and praise democracy, aren't you saying the theocrats are WRONG? Aren't you saying they are WRONG no matter whether they think they are wrong or not?

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  13. Iris, since you've decided to come here and be insulting, let me note that you are too stupid to recognize a reductio ad absurdum or to recognize how one works.

    Right: I'm the one doing the insulting by deliberately conflating women's and other enlightened humans' evolving sexual morality toward an egalitarian, consent-based paradigm with serial killers deciding on their own (or is it a union rule?) that their murderous actions are moral because they deem it so.

    And I'm clearly too stupid to recognize a reductio absurdum argument, albeit one that is so wildly inapplicable as to be positively deranged. But thank you for patiently explaining that difficult concept to my inferior ladybrain. I think I need a nap now to recover from my strenuous exertions in trying to grapple with it.

    So the question is, if there is a *right* to "define one's own morality," why *don't* serial killers have the right as well? But too dull-witted to even realize that was the question on the table, all you could do was resort to name-calling.

    Wow. You are a dense one, aren't you. The question on the table is not: if there is a *right* to "define one's own morality," why *don't* serial killers have the right as well?

    The question is actually:

    if there is a *right* of individual women and men, as part of an evolving society, to redefine a traditional standard of sexual morality (i.e. from strict submission of women to men's dominion in a heterosexual, monogamous, church-sanctioned, life-long marriage to an egalitarian standard of enthusiastic consent between adults), then why don't individual serial killers, as part of the same evolving society, have the *right* to redefine the traditional standard of not indiscriminately killing innocent people?

    That is the question on the table. And to pose it does not reflect well on the witted-ness, dull or otherwise, of the questioner.

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    1. "deliberately conflating women's and other enlightened humans' evolving sexual morality toward an egalitarian, consent-based paradigm with serial killers deciding on their own (or is it a union rule?) that their murderous actions are moral because they deem it so..."

      Well, Iris, you've shown once again that you don't understand a reductio. The "absurd" part of the reductio is never CONFLATED with the thing being reduced. The whole point is that the absurd bit IS extreme, and shows the person making the original argument that "You really don't want to hold that view, because look what it implies."

      And no, I don't think you're not getting this because you have a "ladybrain." I think you're not getting it because you are not very bright.

      And note: the way you redescribe the situation RELIES UPON there being an objective morality that makes consent good and submission bad, so you have actually conceded my whole point.

      Now, if you'd like to talk more, you might notice the posts by "Unwisdom" above. He disagrees with me, but understands that I am making a philosophical case for moral realism, and that my case has nothing whatsoever to do with women's rights or feminism, which are apparently the only things you think about. Disagreeing with what I ACTUALLY said, he has come here and discussed this with me like an adult.

      Do come back anytime you'd like to have such a reasoned conversation!

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    2. Iris, your whole focus on women's issues in your comments is mistaken, as my post had nothing to do with women's issues at all.

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