Are You A Garbled Relativist?

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Philosophy Now
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Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Philosophy Now » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:01 pm

Ray Prebble argues that moral relativism is both incoherent and immoral.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/124/Are_You_A_Garbled_Relativist

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Eodnhoj7
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Eodnhoj7 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:20 pm

"This is a very interesting argument, because it is both beguilingly plausible and utterly invalid. The problem is that relativists’ moral statements, such as “One ought not to pass moral judgements on the actions of people from other cultures” are not remotely relative; they are absolute."


Finally someone has observed the obvious.

Londoner
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Londoner » Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:34 pm

Philosophy Now wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:01 pm
Ray Prebble argues that moral relativism is both incoherent and immoral.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/124/Ar ... Relativist
A philosophical argument would have been welcome. Instead it was ad hominem - mostly ad hominem against a variety of straw men! - from start to finish.

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Eodnhoj7
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Eodnhoj7 » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:34 pm

Londoner wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:34 pm
Philosophy Now wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:01 pm
Ray Prebble argues that moral relativism is both incoherent and immoral.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/124/Ar ... Relativist
A philosophical argument would have been welcome. Instead it was ad hominem - mostly ad hominem against a variety of straw men! - from start to finish.
That is a relativistic approach...what separates the accusation of an ad-hominem from being an ad-hominem in itself?

Londoner
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Londoner » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:49 am

Eodnhoj7 wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:34 pm
Londoner wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:34 pm
Philosophy Now wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:01 pm
Ray Prebble argues that moral relativism is both incoherent and immoral.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/124/Ar ... Relativist
A philosophical argument would have been welcome. Instead it was ad hominem - mostly ad hominem against a variety of straw men! - from start to finish.
That is a relativistic approach...what separates the accusation of an ad-hominem from being an ad-hominem in itself?
Because it is a description of the article, rather than the personal character of the person who wrote it.

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Eodnhoj7
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Eodnhoj7 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:48 pm

Londoner wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:49 am
Eodnhoj7 wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:34 pm
Londoner wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:34 pm


A philosophical argument would have been welcome. Instead it was ad hominem - mostly ad hominem against a variety of straw men! - from start to finish.
That is a relativistic approach...what separates the accusation of an ad-hominem from being an ad-hominem in itself?
Because it is a description of the article, rather than the personal character of the person who wrote it.
And work is not personal?

Paul Austin Murphy
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Paul Austin Murphy » Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:23 am

It could be that to some (there are almost zero self-described "relativists") relativism is simply a normative/moral/political theory or position; rather than a theory of truth. Philosophers like Richard Rorty and, in a roundabout way, even William James, came close to arguing that. In other words, such people believe that it would be a good thing (morally/ethically) to be a relativist. That may mean that they know, in their heart of hearts (Rorty certainly knew), that relativism does indeed trap itself (at least when formulated as a statement) in all the self-contradictions mentioned in this piece. Still, relativism may be an attitude or position, rather than a theory of truth.

Nonetheless, this position faces the same problem which faced William James (again) and Wittgenstein when it came to religion or monotheism. That is, people don't believe in religion x or in God because it's morally efficacious to do so. They believe in religion x/God because they believe in x/God. That is, they believe that the statements of religion x are true or that God exists. Full stop. They may accept that religion x or monotheism lead to positive moral/societal consequences; though that's not why they believe that God exists or in the truths of religion x. (All this is also related to Plato's "Euthyphro dilemma"). Similarly with relativism. Perhaps it simply won't work to say that relativism "will enable us to live and let live" (let's say, for argument's sake, that it does) if, in the end, the relativist knows very well that... truths are not relative.

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Noax
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Noax » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:19 pm

Londoner wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:34 pm
A philosophical argument would have been welcome. Instead it was ad hominem - mostly ad hominem against a variety of straw men! - from start to finish.
I see what you means. It is indeed full of strawman, begging, and emotional arguments. Even the title is an ad-hom.
Paul Austin Murphy wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:23 am
It could be that to some (there are almost zero self-described "relativists") relativism is simply a normative/moral/political theory or position; rather than a theory of truth. Philosophers like Richard Rorty and, in a roundabout way, even William James, came close to arguing that. In other words, such people believe that it would be a good thing (morally/ethically) to be a relativist. That may mean that they know, in their heart of hearts (Rorty certainly knew), that relativism does indeed trap itself (at least when formulated as a statement) in all the self-contradictions mentioned in this piece. Still, relativism may be an attitude or position, rather than a theory of truth.
I probably would describe myself as one, finding almost everything to be a relation, including truth. I haven't thought it through well so perhaps I can be trapped by this statement, but not by the way the article goes about it.
Nonetheless, this position faces the same problem which faced William James (again) and Wittgenstein when it came to religion or monotheism. That is, people don't believe in religion x or in God because it's morally efficacious to do so. They believe in religion x/God because they believe in x/God. That is, they believe that the statements of religion x are true or that God exists. Full stop. They may accept that religion x or monotheism lead to positive moral/societal consequences; though that's not why they believe that God exists or in the truths of religion x.
I find this a point in favor of relativism. The stance does not need to reach outside the natural to ground its morals. They're grounded in something more real.
Perhaps it simply won't work to say that relativism "will enable us to live and let live" (let's say, for argument's sake, that it does) if, in the end, the relativist knows very well that... truths are not relative.
This begs fact that "enable us to live and let live" is an absolute moral. Some cultures might not hold to this moral, and sans absolutism, they'd not be wrong about it necessarily.

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A_Seagull
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by A_Seagull » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:16 am

Philosophy Now wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:01 pm
Ray Prebble argues that moral relativism is both incoherent and immoral.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/124/Ar ... Relativist
Morality is nothing more than propaganda. Dr. Prebble doesn't seem to understand that.

jayjacobus
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by jayjacobus » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:50 pm

A_Seagull wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:16 am
Philosophy Now wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:01 pm
Ray Prebble argues that moral relativism is both incoherent and immoral.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/124/Ar ... Relativist
Morality is nothing more than propaganda. Dr. Prebble doesn't seem to understand that.
Propaganda is information with a bias. I think Dr. Prebble knows that because he writes,

"Morality must, in the end, be about arguing, and giving reasons, and providing evidence. It cannot just be about being who your culture encourages you to be."

He seems to be saying, "Don't just accept would you have been told (the propaganda in your word). Think about it."

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Eodnhoj7
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Eodnhoj7 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:33 pm

jayjacobus wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:50 pm
A_Seagull wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:16 am
Philosophy Now wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:01 pm
Ray Prebble argues that moral relativism is both incoherent and immoral.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/124/Ar ... Relativist
Morality is nothing more than propaganda. Dr. Prebble doesn't seem to understand that.
Propaganda is information with a bias. I think Dr. Prebble knows that because he writes,

"Morality must, in the end, be about arguing, and giving reasons, and providing evidence. It cannot just be about being who your culture encourages you to be."

He seems to be saying, "Don't just accept would you have been told (the propaganda in your word). Think about it."
It could be implied from this that the moral constant is the application of reason as a form of justification. Under these terms, morality is based upon an inherent metaphysics premised on the nature of measurement and symmetry.

Under these premises, it may be implied that morality as measurement is conducive to an observation of:

1) Stability through symmetry inherently mirroring dimensions
2) Change through the relations of dimensions which relate to other dimensions as unit-parts.
3) The synthesis of dimensions conducive to this stability and change.

Although the above three points may need further elaboration to give them justice, morality may have a trifold nature of "Constant", "Relativistic" and "Synthetic".

Peeling
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Peeling » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:51 pm

Two guys are walking in the woods when they happen across a bear. Immediately, one of them kneels down and begins lacing on a pair of running shoes.
"Are you crazy?" says the other guy. "You can't outrun a bear!"
"I know," says the first guy. "But I can outrun you."

The article argues that moral relativism is a contradiction in terms: for something to be considered moral or immoral its proponent must be able to assert and enforce it with conviction, which is impossible - or at least hypocritical - if that same proponent acknowledges the subjectivity of their beliefs.

However, the same logic can be applied in reverse: the article fails because it judges moral relativism by a standard only moral absolutism could pass.

I ask the following:
In a universe with zero conscious entities, could there be such a thing as morality?
In a universe with one conscious entity, could there be such a thing as morality?

By answering these questions, I establish to my satisfaction that morality is a social rather than individual concept. Morality is about agreement and cooperation, and cooperation is, like outrunning the other guy when chased by a bear, a recipe for success and survival. Human history is one of competing tribes, societies, civilisations. Civilisations can sustain themselves through fear and violence, but they are strongest and most stable when every member is committed to the continuation of the society. Thus: slavery is bad, because it disenfranchises workers, which undermines the integrity of society. Murder, rape, theft, corruption - most of us have developed an instinctive abhorrence of these behaviours through compassion, which is the muscle that holds us all together.

Is there a perfect morality? No, because the context in which morality is applied is mutable, which means the most successful morality will differ according to context. Can we even know the optimal moral stance at any given point? No - but then we don't need to know the best way to escape a hungry bear, either. All we need to know is how to outrun the other guy.

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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Banno » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:26 am

Londoner wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:34 pm
Philosophy Now wrote:
Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:01 pm
Ray Prebble argues that moral relativism is both incoherent and immoral.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/124/Ar ... Relativist
A philosophical argument would have been welcome. Instead it was ad hominem - mostly ad hominem against a variety of straw men! - from start to finish.
Rather than simply assert that the article contained ad homs, can you demonstrate it?

A few examples, perhaps.

Caramello
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by Caramello » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:49 am

I was left with doubt that the kind of moral relativist described really exists, at least outside of angry 14-year-olds. No references do not help, excepting that of libertarian cult leader, Frank Furedi. Full of strawmen. Shame, because it's a really fascinating and important issue, but in not sure the article adds much.

benjamindavidsteele
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Re: Are You A Garbled Relativist?

Post by benjamindavidsteele » Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:27 pm

Personally, I'm not morally relativist. I was raised by parents who were morally strict, if not morally absolutist. And the church I went to as I grew up, although highly liberal, had strong elements of moral absolutism. All of that had a major impact on the development of my psyche. At the same time, I was also taught to be morally compassionate, empathetic, and tolerant. Neither aspect is entirely dominant.

It isn't a polarized either/or issue, in the way an absolutist would portray it. Besides, as another person put it: "the same logic [against moral relativism] can be applied in reverse: the article fails because it judges moral relativism by a standard only moral absolutism could pass." Of course, moral relativism makes no sense from the perspective of moral absolutism. The same is true of moral absolutism from the perspective of moral relativism. So?

Anyway, no matter what beliefs anyone personally holds, reality itself is morally relativist in the sense that reality includes diverse moral positions as social orders and survival strategies --- this moral relativism having been the evolutionary reality of humans for millennia. And all of us are part of the same reality not only includes but makes possible this diversity. I accept that and so, to that extent, I am morally relativist in that I accept reality. Still, we inevitably live according to the biases we internalize. But, in Western society, most people internalize a mix of both viewpoints, moral absolutism and moral relativism. Morality has more to do with psychology, which is to say it has little to do with the philosophical demands of logical arguments and ideological consistency.

Morality, no matter the variety, is a social construct. And all social constructs, by definition, are relative to the social system that determines them and to which they serve. Any morality might work for a particular society, at least to the degree it has a function within that society. And, of course, any moral system will seem immoral or amoral from the view of another moral system. That is all that moral relativism means on a fundamental level. It doesn't even require tolerance to acknowledge multiple moral systems co-exist, i.e., simultaneously exist in this shared world.

A hunter-gatherer tribe has its own morality that is taken seriously, even though tribal people generally feel no need to enforce their morality on outsiders as absolutist social control, as seen in nation-states. The Piraha seem to be a great example of this. According to them, what is Piraha is good for Piraha and what is non-Piraha is good for non-Piraha, no claims of moral absolutism being required.

The Piraha make no arguments for objective reality or theological beliefs, as their worldview prioritizes personal experience and direct knowledge. Even visitors to Piraha villages aren't expected to be like the Piraha and so they have a basic level of tolerance, assuming it doesn't disrupt their lifestyle. The Piraha don't assume their moral system is identical to all of reality. It is simply their culture and they like their culture as it is part of their identity. They don't need any other justification for their morality. The very concept of moral absolutism would be alien to them.

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