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Taking a stab[edit]

Since we have broken up the various types of moral relativism I thought I would elaborate various types of moral absolutism.

Moral skepticism is not baby eating[edit]

Please remember to anyone who wishes to edit this section that "Ethics" and "Morality" are separate terms in a philosophical context, a "moral skeptic" is not necessarily an "ethical skeptic". People seem to be editing this section assuming it's Objectivism / immoralism / or some form of justifying the holocaust and baby eating which is leading to understandable (but still misguided) gut reaction edits. Moral Skepticism is a school of thought where people have ethical convictions but do not think they can be justified or they can be called knowledge, not egoism. Material was simply added to an empty section from the philosophical academia, this sites mission statement may be pro-science and anti-crank but if you don't understand the idea you are removing from the website then you are behaving in the same way as theists who assume atheists can't be good people without god or have a similar gut reaction. If you really want to vandalise it at least read something like what is posted below so you aren't simply reading the name and making false assumptions about the content which I suspect is what is being done. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Speaking of gut reacting to other peopleโ€™s edits โ€” my reason for undoing you was that your edit was grammatically ill-formed. Now that you have offered a better phrasing, I left it in. Thanks for making the point on the difference between ethics and morality for all to see, though โ€” I'm a philosophy student myself, and clarity is key. All the best, Reverend Black Percy (talk) 11:31, 28 March 2017 (UTC)

The morality without religion section[edit]

Fundamentally miss represents the christian view on the topic. They would say that right and wrong are written on our hearts. Anybody can listen and at least get some amount of moral guidance. while imperfect due to sin this moral compass can provide for a relatively good life. Jkevo (talk) 02:46, 28 September 2019 (UTC)
You must have missed the start where it says "Fundamentalist Christians often claim". There's a range of opinion on the issue, and the viewpoint that there is no morality without God is certainly something fundamentalists like to use to attack atheists. The gospels don't have a lot to say about the origin of moral feelings but the idea (due to Original Sin) that humans are basically depraved and horrible without the grace of God is found in many Christian thinkers; the Old Testament suggests that the Israelites are all set to go off into all manner of depravity without God smiting them every few minutes, which suggests they don't have a strong sense of right and wrong. --Annanoon (talk) 10:39, 15 October 2019 (UTC)

Absolute/Relativism Hybrid[edit]

The position described in the section is not relativistic. A moral realist need not be committed to the claim that they have perfect moral knowledge. In contemporary philosophy, moral relativism is taken to be the position that moral claims have implicit indexical components, which relativize their truth values to individuals, cultures, or other groups of people, depending on the particular formulation of relativism. Lack of perfect moral knowledge is not the same, nor is skepticism about the possibility of moral knowledge (one might, for instance, believe that there are objective moral facts and that we do not have access to these facts, and some would still class this as a realist stance). This also is not relativism on the popular understanding, but we should probably avoid appealing to the popular conception anyway, as it is not entirely clear that it is internally consistent. ๐’ฎ๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’๐“ƒ๐‘’ talk 02:02, 7 March 2023 (UTC)

@Serene, The section you removed certainly was not meant to straw man moral realists (relativists?) by implying that they "are committed to the claim that they have perfect moral knowledge" [Note 1] Flex language aside, opinions on absolute and relative morality usually break down along the lines of:
- "There is an absolute code of morality that does not differ based on one person's perspective/experience relative to another person" vs.
- "Everybody does/should/can have their own code of morality, based on their relative perspective and experiences of the world", respectively.
- "Culture ABC is wrong to do DEF" vs.
- "You are not in a position to judge culture ABC, based on your own western principles."
The concept I was trying to describe in that section was that those two positions need not be exclusive in practice. Specifically, you can acknowledge that some moral judgment or action you are making is a relative judgement/action, based on your own opinion and relative experience, while still believing that there is an absolute moral code underpinning existence which you can only guess at. --Bertrc (talk) 16:33, 13 March 2023 (UTC)
My present concern with this article is that its presentation of various positions is misleading or incorrect. With respect to relativism, there is a popular notion of moral relativism, in accordance with your presentation regarded judging culture ABC, which is both distinct from the position termed relativist by ethicists and extremely dubious, even incoherent. My position is that we should not contribute to metaethical confusion by trying to employ this dubious version of relativism, and should instead aim to stick to the positions discussed by ethicists. On those terms, a position maintaining that there is a non-relative moral code is realist, even when combined with the thesis that this code is unknown or unknowable. That such a position may be termed relativist on the popular account I take to be insignificant, because that popular account is inconsistent anyway. As an aside, this article does strawman realism; โ€˜absolutismโ€™ is rarely used in the ethical literature, and Iโ€™ll have to look into it more to see whether there is actually anything to this articleโ€™s account. As the article is written, it cannot be treated as a synonym for โ€˜realismโ€™, or much of what is said would simply be false. ๐’ฎ๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’๐“ƒ๐‘’ talk 21:02, 13 March 2023 (UTC)
Okay . . . I might be following all that . . . Are you saying that you made your edit because you are looking at absolutism and relativism in a more academic way, whereas my definitions are more colloquial? The trouble is that (I feel) our actual absolutism and relativism sections seem to follow my colloquial definitions (And, personally, I think that the colloquial definitions are the ones most people have. They are certainly the ones I always encounter) Hmmm, let me try rephrasing the section to be more explicit. --Bertrc (talk) 12:25, 15 March 2023 (UTC)
Yes, I am looking at this more in an academic way. Long term, I intend to make massive revisions to this article to bring it more into alignment with standard usage among ethicists, to avoid strawmanning certain positions and otherwise misrepresenting the metaethical landscape (it's a bit funny how much of this article is focused on metaethics, and how little on... well, ethics). I started working on it in my sandbox, in anticipation of the possibility (not improbable) that life gets in the way and I never actually go through with that intention; I don't want to just remove large sections of the article only to never actually get around to replacing it with anything. Maintaining a separated section on colloquial concepts (and any difficulties accompanying them) I think is fine, as it makes it clear just what is being discussed. If I do end up making major revisions, I'll take care to keep the colloquial section in the article when I merge my revisions in. ๐’ฎ๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’๐“ƒ๐‘’ talk 00:59, 18 March 2023 (UTC)
Sure. I do think we should keep the less academic view in there, though, since that should at least be acknowledged (But, as you say, not elevated to the level of being a straw-man) --Bertrc (talk) 23:29, 21 March 2023 (UTC)
  1. โ†‘ If anything, it was closer to a ding on moral absolutists! :-D

Defining Right and Wrong[edit]

Rightness is not reducible to desirability; and act can be desirable while remaining morally neutral. It may be epistemically desirable or instrumentally desirable, and some instrumentally desirable actions may be morally wrong (e.g. framing you for wrongdoing to get you fired and secure a promotion for myself). Furthermore, many ethicists maintain that rightness is independent of human desires; this is a component of mind-independence. So saying that right and wrong may be defined as desirable and undesirable is extremely dubious. Likewise, while harmfulness to others is a typical property of wrongful actions, it is not clear that it is necessary for an act to be wrong, nor that it is the reason for an actionโ€™s wrongfulness in every case of a wrong, harmful act. As an example, consider a shipowner who sends off a passenger ship without verifying its integrity. As it turns out, the ship is not safe, but by a stroke of luck reaches its destination without sinking. In that case, the shipowner plausibly acted wrongly (specifically, negligently) even though the passengers did not ultimately suffer harm as a result. If the ship sank, they would clearly be blameworthy, and there is no clear reason why their luckiness should be taken to mitigate the wrongfulness of their action, or at least many would argue as such. So the latter part of the paragraph is controversial, at best. The last sentence is a non sequitur, which is apparently aimed at moral realism, the majority position among ethicists. Since the whole section is dubious, itโ€™s better not to have it. ๐’ฎ๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’๐“ƒ๐‘’ talk 21:39, 9 March 2023 (UTC)

This use of โ€˜desirableโ€™ is also unusual. Desirability is typically ascribed to outcomes, not actions themselves. ๐’ฎ๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’๐“ƒ๐‘’ talk 21:48, 9 March 2023 (UTC)
@Serene, [Note 1] Totally agree with disliking the terms "desirable" and "Undesirable". However, I think @Luigifan18 (or whoever originally put that section in) was trying to raise the most common definition of morality that is raised by those who look for an applicable moral framework which they can use/apply outside themselves without turning to religion. The section certainly describes what I have encountered most often from people. I have tried rewriting it without using "desirable" and "undesirable" --Bertrc (talk) 16:42, 13 March 2023 (UTC)
I've made some changes to the phrasing, to (i) highlight that the section as it stands is describing a popular view, (ii) streamline things a little in the second paragraph, (iii) changed Comfort Morality to lowercase, as the term does not seem to be in popular use as a proper noun; a quick search for the term returns results that do not use that exact phrasing. We can present a "pop" version of morality, but we should not present it as being authoritative, or in ambiguous terms that suggest that we're describing, e.g., a position popular amongst ethicists (most of whom would reject that right and wrong are reducible to what feels right and wrong). There's a big difference between claiming (for instance) "right actions can be defined as desirable actions" and "popularly, right actions are understood as desirable actions". Personally, I wonder whether the account now in the article is totally accurate, or at least not extremely fragile (that is, whether most people wouldn't give up the stated position under minimal pressure). I don't have data on that, though, so I won't press the issue further. ๐’ฎ๐‘’๐“‡๐‘’๐“ƒ๐‘’ talk 00:27, 14 March 2023 (UTC)

  1. โ†‘ I alerted you with a ping in the "Absolute/Relative Hybrid" comment, so did not officially {{ping|...} you here. I still feel bad about all the spam alerts I used to send! :-)