Hermit Philosopher wrote:
Perhaps I am mistaken, but from what I understand, J. Marks says that because rights and wrongs are matter of social construction (verified/falsified by individuals’ personal experiences of contextual interactions in everyday life), universal moral laws do not exist and their concept should be abandoned.
Yet, may it not instead be argued that what is socially constructed is not so much morality, as our ideas about how different contextual scenarios are likely to unfold? After all, when it comes to human interaction, what follows a certain conduct, rather much depends on what we collectively expect will follow.
Let’s say that Marks is taught to believe that when individual (A) bullies individual (B), individual (B) is negatively affected and, let’s say that Marks’ experience of similar situations so far, have verified this belief (he happens to live somewhere, where most people are taught that being bullied affects you negatively). Now, let’s say that Marks’ is not a sadist and so, he is at the very least, uncomfortable witnessing (A) bullying (B).
Here, Marks claims that we must accept that someone else may think differently in situation:
(A) bullies (B) and (B) is unaffected, or;
(A) bullies (B) and (B) is positively affected [e.g. strengthened], or;
(A) bullies (B), (B) is negatively affected and this is positive to/for lots of other people, or;
(A) bullies (B) and (A) simply enjoys doing so, or;
(A) bullies (B) and Marks enjoys it;
But, what about this; could one morally defend that (A) bullies (B) and everybody [in long run, say], including (A) – and Marks as well – is negatively affected?
Actually, we can come up with ways of making this morally defensible too – after all, we are very creative and open-minded thinkers. But the thing is, we can never truly claim to know what (A)s bullying (B)will lead to [within a specific context]!
What I do think we may be able to agree on is that, generally speaking [and quite universally!], punching someone in the face, hurts.
Ps. No, no. I’ve not forgotten the existence of people with masochistic tendencies, to whom pain is pleasurable, but truthfully; general laws (of any kind) cannot be said to be based on such odd exceptions. This does not mean that generality and what applies to it, does not exist though, does it?
I'm a bit puzzled. You seem to start by stating Case 1
, but offering as an alternative CASE 2
. But nothing you follow it with seems to advance your case that 2 is more applicable than 1.
I think it is useful to distinguish in social terms between natural law and normative law; between natural tendencies; and conventional rules that humans evolve during the development of society.Morality
, with a capital M, belongs to those that have failed to make the distinction between the two and peddle the fallacy that there is no distinction, justified by religion. They hold that morality is a thing to be uncovered - simply found, usually by consulting God, or a book he is supposed to have written. Another set of fallacies that diminish this important distinction is the natural law theorists of the 17thC who sought to find moral lessons from the study of nature. In a sense this was a move to diminish the power of the failed Christian ideology and they sought to read 2 books; scripture and the Book of Nature.
We have come a long way, and I think progress in Ethical theory is the realisation that natural law is not guide to how we as humans ought to behave; racism, eugenics, anti-gay, anti-abortion all tend to focus on imposing the nature as law thesis.
So are their any useful generalities? Is there any point at all to build Ethical theory on this basis?