commonsense wrote: ↑
Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:15 pm
Then something must be wrong with the following:
Yes, indeed it is.
If morality is not absolute, it must be relative.
Not problematic. And the inverse, also true: if it's not relative, it's absolute. That's a pure dichotomy.
If morality is absolute, there can be no moral responsibility that is not applied in the same manner in every situation.
"In every relevantly similar
situation." There is no requirement that an absolute must be clumsy in application. It can take into account differences that matter in specific cases.
For example, "Thou shalt not murder" is absolute. But it does not imply "You shall not kill in defence of your family," or "You shall not kill by accident." The absence of malice and the absence of the possibility of preventing death are both what philosophy calls "excusing conditions" for the moral prohibition against killing.
So an absolute can be applicable to different circumstances without becoming "relative."
If there is a moral responsibility that is not applied in the same manner in every situation, morality is not absolute.
Here's the first "thing wrong" for which you asked.
Your assumption here is false, for two reasons. Firstly, as you can see above, to think that an absolute entails that it "must be implied in the same manner" without regard for relevant differences in situation is untrue. Secondly, whether an absolute is being "applied" is not the issue, since it is possible for human beings to fail to "apply" what they know to be the right thing to do.
If a moral responsibility is applied in the same manner in only a subset of situations, it is a limited moral responsibility.
This is the second mistake.
One can have an absolute moral responsibility, but nuance it by situation, as above. Premeditated murder is absolutely wrong. Accidental killing is only manslaughter. Defending one's family is self-defence. In all cases, let's say, a man dies; but that death is not morally condemned to the same degree. That doesn't mean that premeditated murder becomes less than absolutely wrong. And it doesn't mean that we have now become unclear on what premeditated murder is.
If morality is limited, it is not absolute.
Now you've slid the term "limited" over to mean "not absolute," instead of "able to be understood better by considering circumstance." That creates what's called an "amphiboly," which is a fallacy, a fault in logic.
It is a moral responsibility not to harm others.
From where do you acquire this certainty? What tells you it's true?
* * *
The rest of your list of premises simply repeats things we've just covered above.
Now you can see where the logic went wrong. You've understood "absolute" to mean different things: you think it means "indifferent to circumstances," or "rigidly enforced," or "devoid of excusing conditions." It means none of those things.
It simply means that, given the circumstances that define a particular act (like "murder," which is defined by deliberate killing of a human being, and by malice aforethought) the moral prohibition is absolute. It does not mean that we disregard the definitional conditions that make a thing actual "murder" in the first place.
A more subtle understanding of what an "absolute moral prohibition" is will disabuse you of this confusion.