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CunningLinguist

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return_to_hades

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Posted: 19 September 2011 at 3:51pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by CunningLinguist


i don't believe in moral relativism, that means we can never condemn anyone for what they've done.  Actions have objective effects, if I punch someone in the face, that person will feel pain, that pain can be objectively measured, we can use brain imaging technology and see the changes taking places in his brain, it's real.  It's also undesirable, we don't want to feel pain, we don't like suffering, at least for no apparent reason.. we can tolerate pain if it's necessary for a positive outcome, for instance a mother giving birth, but unnecessary pain/suffering is undesirable, e.g/ rape.  So morality can be grounded in the objective world, and we can criticise someone for their actions, regardless of what culture or era they are from.

Morality has its origins in our evolutionary biology, social animals cooperate and can display some sort of atruism and affection to each other.  I remember reading an experiment which they conducted with two chimpanzees, one of them was given some food item, and every time he ate it, the other chimpanzee received a small electric shock (i can't remember, but something happened to him), the chimpanzee soon realised what was happening and he stopped eating the food item, and refuse to eat it, I'll try to find this article later.

So I think morality has it's foundations in biology, initially it was probably used to aid survival, but as we became more intelligent and built societies, it became more than survival, we started taking others into consideration, and govern our behaviour.   


Perhaps for a clear case of harm like rape or murder, we can draw a black and white line.

However, other times it is very relative. Let us say a rape victim who tracks and kills her assaulter. The law will charge her for crime. Some people will think she is morally at fault for taking law in her own hands. Some people will think she is morally right in seeking justice. I think morality is subjective, but we tend to follow the most widely acceptable standard or the one that appears as most objective and pragmatic.

I'll be interested in the article.

Have you read about the Milgram experiments or Stanford prison experiments? They throw a completely different light on human morality. Our deference to authority, conforming to society has somewhat inhibited our inherent sense and we tend to follow authority or society rather than a strong internal moral sense of what is wrong.

CunningLinguist

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Posted: 19 September 2011 at 10:28pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by CunningLinguist

So do you agree that at least some morals appear to be objective?, can rape ever be considered right?, i don't think so.


Rape can never be considered right. No one with a right mind will do so. However, even in the case of rape which we all agreed is wrong - the definition of investigation, prosecution and execution of moral justice is subjective.

Originally posted by CunningLinguist

Sure, certain cases like the one you've stated is harder to judge if they've done the right thing or not, sometimes the law itself may be unethical, infact it may be moral not to abide by the law in certain situations.  But if morality is wholly subjective, then how can you blame someone for killing a baby for fun?


I feel morality is wholly subjective. Every moral judgment is relative to who committed the action, who bore the consequence, why was it done, who is judging, what is the outcome of judgment and other relevant factors.

Society and law has just found a way to come up with some sort of agreed upon standard to quantify the subjectivity. The standard is always evolving. Rape and murder are always crimes, but laws governing them evolve subjectively. We can blame someone for a crime, charge and punish them as guilty on account of the quantified standard.

Originally posted by CunningLinguist

I've heard about those experiments, but haven't read anything in depth, I'll have a look at them later.


Both the Milgram and Stanford experiments show humans who willingly degenerated into cruel and sadistic behavior, because of higher authority. It shows the dark side of human morality and reasoning.

Along with the biological need for morality, humans also have need for social hierarchy, authority figures, need for social approval. Hence we have people committing immoral acts despite knowing the moral implications. A mild form of this is bullying in schools where a kid will be hurtful to another to fit in, despite knowing they are wrong. A more horrible form is the rapes in Vietnam as a result of group think.

Human nature is very complex. We are equipped with several innate instincts that are constantly conflicting with each other it seems. Especially in today's world I think social approval and fitting in conflicts a lot with our moral standards.



Thanks! The telegraph one was really interesting, especially where the elephants saved the antelope. Being an animal and pet lover I have always been amazed at the social cognitive capacity of animals. I personally am always baffled at human claims of superiority because I've seen social organization, protection, sharing, maternal instincts, compassion in many creatures.

I'm sure that compassion, reason and morality issues are biologically programmed in animals. Nature has many amazing instances of miracles.

But animal morality is also interesting and more complex because we probably don't understand it. For example dolphins are intelligent creatures who show compassion and socialization. Dolphins have been known to protect swimmers and creatures from sharks. But at the same time dolphins are also known to gang rape. Baffling isn't it? Just like humans they too seem to have many conflicting innate tendencies that vie for importance.

I've always wondered if animals with social capacity and sense of consciousness think of God, religion etc. What is their poison of choice - karma, heaven or hell, do they go meh? Or do they actually know the answers and laugh at our pitiful attempts. LOL

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Posted: 20 September 2011 at 8:52am | IP Logged
As far as karma is concerned, even though certain acts can be confidently deemed to be "right" or "wrong" (like rape, child abuse, etc.), most deeds cannot be determined as "right" or "wrong" based on the deed alone. There is no objective or absolute theory here in most cases like "you do this, and you get punished like this, you do that, your reward is that". In spirituality, punishment/reward for a particular karma is not totally dependant on the act alone, but on the circumstance and degree of pain/suffering inflicted on the opposite person.

There are lot of factors that influence the punishment/reward for an act, with the same act deserving different levels of punishments/rewards under different circumstances. So 2 people committing the same act can be punished/rewarded differently according to difference in circumstances. Say for instance, lets take the example of a small "good" deed of feeding a hungry man. A man feeds 2 people at 2 different instances, 1) His colleague who forgot to bring his tiffin. 2) A random begger on the streets, who hasnt had food for 2 days. Though your act is the same, i.e., feeding the hungry, but you gain more brownie points for the 2nd act compared to the 1st. This is because, the satisfaction that a man gains when he gets food after being hungry for 2 days, not even knowing whether he would be able to eat the third day, and the satisfaction your colleague got not having to skip one meal, knowing for SURE he will be able to have something after couple of hours, is different. Though the meal (and the act) of the doer is the same, the satisfaction level of the helped one is different. Definitely the beggar would have been more satisfied owing to 2 days of hunger, and uncertainity the 3rd day.

Similarly, 2 men cheat their respective girlfriends the EXACT same way. But as far as the 1st one is concerned, his girlfriend was not serious about him, so even though she realized she was cheated, she was able to forget the whole thing and move on quickly, say in a week's time. But as far as the 2nd man is concerned, his girlfriend loved him sincerely and was 100% committed to him. When she realized this, it wasnt that easy for her to forget everything, and move on. Now in both these circumstances, though the act committed by both the guys are the SAME, but the 2nd one would be punished severely than the 1st one, as the intensity of pain/suffering inflicted by him on the victim is more as compared to the 1st one.

Then another thing is, sometimes wrong perceptions of "right" and "wrong" can lead innocent people to do wrong things in life. So in such cases, the degree of punishment for the bad karma would not be as great as that would be for a person who commits the SAME karma, knowing it is WRONG.

Take the case of suicide bombers, why would ANYONE agree to sacrifice their own life willingly for whatever the reason might be? They are brainwashed to believe what they are doing is truly noble, and is what they are SUPPOSED to be doing. Though their action is wrong, but while doing it, they dont consider themselves wrong as they believe they are doing all this for a selfless good. So here too, punishments would be subjective taken into account these factors.

I heard there is a book called "Hitler went to heaven". Thats based on this argument I guess, as Hitler never thought what he did was wrong, he thought he had a "right" purpose behind everything he was doing. But "collective consciousness" of so many people was what ultimately determined his karma to be wrong/bad.

So like they say, there is someone sitting up there and maintaining the "Karma book of Accounts" for each of us, its HE who decides whats right/wrong, and what punishments/rewards need to be finalised for each person/deed, based on various connecting factors. "Karma book of Accounts" would be like a Trial Balance or Balance Sheet LOL...when we do good deeds, its written on one side, and bad deeds on the other. Eventually when we die, our account is closed and an audit is conducted based on which our karmas (good and bad) are finalised, and horoscope for the next life written.



Edited by *dewdrop~pearl* - 20 September 2011 at 8:58am

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DemonStar

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Posted: 20 September 2011 at 11:49am | IP Logged
Any theory ever devised is always likely to run parallel to practical ventures, I believe. One has to survive through a lot of shit in life ultimately and that counts for all. Just that, it is the guilt within of doing something all that sinful that retaliates and everything. So, one just has to believe in Karma and maybe, choose to pursue whichever 'righteous path' they favor. Some think it is cool to bomb Pakistan and India, some feel it is cool to bitch a schoolmate to suicide. Whichever way we see it, it is all pretty logical. You're free and no Karma retorts unless your conscience is clear. Well, consciences like heads often go clear, whatever you do, as long as you don't find it objectionable, you are not a wrong doer! 



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