Shvarts aborts abortion art project

aliza from discovery.jpgWe last left Yale art student Aliza Shvarts hiding out in her apartment, perhaps filming herself in her bathtub aborting more babies.

Shvarts and Yale were at an impasse. Yale was demanding Shvarts publicly admit her planned senior "performance art" project was a hoax. Yale Daily News detailed the project to a greater extent yesterday...]

... a four-foot-wide cube made from PVC piping that would be shrouded in hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting and hung from the ceiling of the gallery. Between the layers of the plastic sheeting would be coatings of Vaseline mixed with the blood collected over the previous nine months...

The misnomered "blood" was actually the product of Shvarts' multiple self-induced abortions following multiple self-provided artificial inseminations - her own preborn children.

But Yale officials said Shvarts told them she was lying about all that, hence their order to recant or face censorship, which would yield her a failing grade for the class, altho YDN reported Shvarts would still have had enough credits to graduate next month.

But the stalemate is ending. YDN reported Shvarts is submitting an alternate art project.

So all is well. Abortion enthusiasts can relax: The negative publicity should begin to die down.

For now, anyway. My bet is Shvarts' project will end up on display somewhere someday. In that regard, U of AZ student Matt Hathway wrote an excellent op ed for The Wildcat Online I wish I'd written:

Whether or not it happened, the response shows the level of hypocrisy that we tolerate in our culture....

Many people... have claimed that Shvarts' art concept is repugnant and degrading of humanity. Since when is the American public so squeamish? As a culture, we are first-rate consumers of violent video games, gang-themed rap, pornography, YouTube fight clubs and gritty sensationalist journalism....

To dismiss a depiction of abortion as "offensive" contradicts the social acceptability of many other artistic media that could arguably give offense. We, the voting public, are ultimately responsible for abortion's legal status. As such, we have no right to demand that proof of the practice be swept under the rug for the sake of our comfort....

Because the opposition to this project could not reasonably be based on the illegality of the acts displayed, a value judgment must be involved....

[A} a noteworthy Yale pro-choice students association denounced the project.... Why single out an art display centered on abortion? After all, according to most abortion supporters, it is just a choice, devoid of any rightness or wrongness. Since when does the depiction of a morally neutral act develop an identity of right or wrong? By assigning a morality to this art display, the public assigns a morality to the act displayed. If Yale should threaten to ban such a presentation, it implicitly claims an anti-abortion stance....

By dissociating the concept from the offensive act, we can tolerate the former without acknowledging the latter.

If Shvarts' abortion art project is indeed real... we have a social responsibility to show it to the country. We already broadcast pictures of Abu Ghraib abuse, DUI- and meth-related mugshots and starving children in Haiti. By showing these uncomfortable images to the public, we are trying to confront the offensive root of these depictions.... By ignoring, censoring or banning images such as Schvarts', we elevate abortion to pure theory while divorcing it from its practice.

The photos, videos and blood of Schvarts' claimed project are needed to construct opinions about abortion....

Newsweek dismissed Shvarts as "the latest to try - and fail - to start a conversation:

newsweek shvarts.jpg

Totally false. It was actually hypocritical liberals who stopped the conversation. And that includes Newsweek, which like all other mainstream news organizations, called Shvarts' project an "induced-miscarriages exhibit." It was NOT. It was an "induced-ABORTION exhibit."

[HT for YDN story: reader Andy L.; HT for The Wildcat op ed: JivinJ; photo of Shvarts courtesy of Discover magazine


Comments:

Someone call PETA. Jill's beating of this dead horse is animal cruelty!

Posted by: anonymous at May 2, 2008 9:20 AM


no no. The Aurora clinic "issue" gets the Dead Horse Beating Award.

Posted by: Hal at May 2, 2008 10:08 AM


Aliza is cute.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 2, 2008 10:13 AM


Aw Hal, I think the Aurora thing is interesting. But probably only because it's a local story for me. Wonder how that lawsuit is going for them...

Posted by: Hieronymous at May 2, 2008 10:20 AM


May I digress and talk about another piece of abortion-related art?

"Lake of Fire" is available on home video.
The producer/director, Tony Kaye, also made "American History X" and is nothing short of brilliant. He spent 15 YEARS on the project, and "Lake of Fire" is widely considered to be the most comprehensive piece of work ever on the subject of abortion in America.

The best part?

Every pro-choicer I know thought it was anti-choice propaganda, and every pro-lifer I know thought it was a pro-abortion epic.

We should have a movie nite and discuss it. It's a grueling two-and-a-half hours, but it's also emotionally charged, grisly, and fairly riveting.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0841119/

(We used to do this on another board at AOL before AOHELL decided to shut the board down for being... well... HOSTILE! We'd watch "If These Walls Could Talk," "Cider House Rules," or "Vera Drake" as they became available on home video and discuss them. It was a blast.)

Posted by: Laura at May 2, 2008 11:16 AM


Hiero 10:20:Aw Hal, I think the Aurora thing is interesting. But probably only because it's a local story for me. Wonder how that lawsuit is going for them...

Did you drive by on Saturday during the Rally? Impressions?

Posted by: Janet at May 2, 2008 11:22 AM


Someone call PETA. Jill's beating of this dead horse is animal cruelty!

Posted by: anonymous at May 2, 2008 9:20 AM
**********
Amen! Enough already!

Posted by: TexasRed at May 2, 2008 11:28 AM


I think Jill should be commended for her coverage of this story/issue. Whether or not one agrees with abortion, this story raises some interesting questions. Is abortion totally acceptable, no matter how often or for what reason someone does it? And if not, why not? And if not, what limits would you place on it, and why?

And for those who object to her coverage, let me ask: why are you reading her blog if you don't like what she covers? Are you so socially dependent upon writing nasty comments on her stories that you'd be devastated if you couldn't do that anymore?

Posted by: Doyle at May 2, 2008 12:03 PM


And for those who object to her coverage, let me ask: why are you reading her blog if you don't like what she covers? Are you so socially dependent upon writing nasty comments on her stories that you'd be devastated if you couldn't do that anymore?

Posted by: Doyle at May 2, 2008 12:03 PM
***********
So anyone who reads her blog should agree with everything she says? and if they dont they shouldnt be reading her blog?

Posted by: TexasRed at May 2, 2008 12:09 PM


I think Jill should be commended for her coverage of this story/issue. Whether or not one agrees with abortion, this story raises some interesting questions. Is abortion totally acceptable, no matter how often or for what reason someone does it? And if not, why not? And if not, what limits would you place on it, and why?
*****************
There were no abortions involved.
Thats the point.
Its not even possible for the *artist* to have done what she said she did. No one can guarantee getting pregnant each month even if they do have sex when they are fertile.
The story is a tempest in a teapot. The girl has a bizarre way of trying to get attention and Jill is buying into it.

Posted by: TexasRed at May 2, 2008 12:11 PM


ignoring TR today..

Posted by: Janet at May 2, 2008 12:25 PM


"Did you drive by on Saturday during the Rally? Impressions?

Posted by: Janet at May 2, 2008 11:22 AM
---------------------------------------

Yeah, Hiero...what did you think about the rally?
Or did you just stay home and decided not to support your beloved PP?

If you did come out, were you one of the drive-by shouting ones, the middle-finger-extended-to-heaven ones or both?

Posted by: RSD at May 2, 2008 12:56 PM


Laura, 11:16 a.m.

I think this is a good idea as well!

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 2, 2008 12:59 PM


Laura,

Have you watched it? Or are you posting what others have said?

Posted by: carder at May 2, 2008 1:43 PM


Did you drive by on Saturday during the Rally? Impressions?

Posted by: Janet at May 2, 2008 11:22 AM

No, I was trying to set up "tents" for my tomato seedlings to save them from the cold snap. I only lost two out of nine, so it mostly worked.

Posted by: Hieronymous at May 2, 2008 1:49 PM


Yeah, Hiero...what did you think about the rally?
Or did you just stay home and decided not to support your beloved PP?

If you did come out, were you one of the drive-by shouting ones, the middle-finger-extended-to-heaven ones or both?

Posted by: RSD at May 2, 2008 12:56 PM

Huh. Not sure why you're attacking me here, but sorry if you're having a bad day and are feeling the need to take it out on me.

Posted by: Hieronymous at May 2, 2008 1:51 PM


Laura and Elizabeth -

I'm in for watching "Lake of Fire". I can put it at the top of my queue on Netflix.

Posted by: Hieronymous at May 2, 2008 1:52 PM


Wow RSD, that was totally uncalled for and unprovoked...

Grumpy Friday?


Anyways - Laura - the director of Lake Of Fire actually messaged me on Facebook because I'm the admin of the pro choice group, and asked if I'd suggest a viewing and group discussion. He is def. more interested in dialouge than pushing one side or the other. Very interesting. And certainly a good idea.

=)

Posted by: Amanda at May 2, 2008 2:52 PM


Hiero,

Glad to hear you saved seven of nine. Are the tomatoes for canning or just eating? How do you keep the animals away?

Posted by: Janet at May 2, 2008 2:54 PM


Amanda,

Perhaps he would be willing to suggest the same thing with Jill?

Posted by: carder at May 2, 2008 2:56 PM


American History X has to be one of the most provocative and amazing movies I have ever seen. It's honest...I thought it was brilliant. I would be interested to see Lake of Fire, as well...that is, if I can find anywhere in this town!

Posted by: Kel at May 2, 2008 3:27 PM


Someone call PETA. Jill's beating of this dead horse is animal cruelty!

Heh - did have to laugh, but remember, Jill wants to do several threads most days. I remember her saying that one of the things that makes a blog popular is to "blog a lot."

I'm sure it's not easy to do that; I don't see how she does it so consistently to start with. I'd be taking a day off here, a day off there, oh the heck with this week, etc...

I realize that others help out and contribute, but still, a lot of threads go up in a given month, year, etc. And it's easy to stand back and take pot shots when we feel like it. I did feel a little guilty about the abstinence education thing.

Doug

Posted by: Doug at May 2, 2008 4:00 PM


Laura,

Have you watched it? Or are you posting what others have said?

Posted by: carder at May 2, 2008 1:43 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I saw it when it was still in theater release.
That's why I mentioned that it was two-and-a-half hours long. (In retrospect, buying the 55 gallon "drum O'lemonade" was probably a bad idea. 90 minutes in I had to pee, and by the end of the movie I was flirting with renal failure...)
It's available on Netflix. (The movie, not the lemonade)

Posted by: Laura at May 2, 2008 4:50 PM


Laura,

How would we do this? Just set up a night? Or pick a week and talk about it at the end of the week, giving everybody a chance to watch it?

You KNOW I LOVE the idea!!!!

I guess I could put up a post announcing it.
Amanda, can you contact the guy that contacted you?

Tell me what to do, and I'll do it?

Anybody have any suggestions as to when?

Laura, if you put it all together and send it to me in a email, I'll post it. Or I can put it together?

HELP!!!!

Posted by: mk at May 2, 2008 5:17 PM


I think 'Caligula' is on tonight...

Posted by: Doug at May 2, 2008 6:02 PM


Doug, 4:00, that was really kind of you to say.
I am sure that Jill really appreciates your saying that.

I know from experience, when Jill was gone for only a week, and Marykay and I had to put together articles for that week, it was unbelievably overwhelming doing the research and putting the posts together, along with having to edit the HTML and add the images. I have no idea how she is able to consistently do this every day, and not burn out. It took me nearly a day to write one post sometimes. It is really, really a lot harder than one would imagine!

Posted by: Bethany at May 2, 2008 7:18 PM


Glad to hear you saved seven of nine. Are the tomatoes for canning or just eating? How do you keep the animals away?

Posted by: Janet at May 2, 2008 2:54 PM

Seven of Nine...hmmmm, you're not a Star Trek fan are you?

I eat 'em. Right off the vine sometimes. Right now I've got a short chicken wire fence, but I still need to build up a dirt seal around the bottom.

Posted by: Hieronymous at May 2, 2008 8:34 PM


Oh, and I also have this really stinky spray that keeps bunnies away. It smells like rotten eggs.

Posted by: Hieronymous at May 2, 2008 8:35 PM


Hiero: Seven of Nine...hmmmm, you're not a Star Trek fan are you?

No, unfortunately not. Did I say something wrong? :)

Posted by: Janet at May 2, 2008 8:48 PM


@Janet: You really should be a Star Trek fan, because it's awesome. Especially Deep Space Nine.

Posted by: Rae at May 2, 2008 8:56 PM


I know from experience, when Jill was gone for only a week, and Marykay and I had to put together articles for that week, it was unbelievably overwhelming doing the research and putting the posts together, along with having to edit the HTML and add the images. I have no idea how she is able to consistently do this every day, and not burn out. It took me nearly a day to write one post sometimes. It is really, really a lot harder than one would imagine!

Bethany, exactly! I really appreciate Jill and her site.

And she's got a sexy voice, too.

Posted by: Doug at May 2, 2008 9:28 PM


Hieronymous: Seven of Nine...hmmmm, you're not a Star Trek fan are you?

Tell you what, Trekkie or not, you had to give props to the Borg on that one....Hoo Aah.
.....

I eat 'em. Right off the vine sometimes. Right now I've got a short chicken wire fence, but I still need to build up a dirt seal around the bottom.

Years ago I dug two big trenches, 65' x 2' wide and 3' deep, then filled them with everything that asparagus plants love, then planted the "crowns."

Just starting to come in....bonanza.

Doug


P.S. Definitely affects the urine, though.

Posted by: Doug at May 2, 2008 9:32 PM


Thanks Jill - looks like Matt Hathway nails the bankruptcy of cultural relativism. It's also quite telling when folks desire a change of topic, because all that's doing is making your point and proving Matt correct.

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at May 2, 2008 9:33 PM


Big, sweet tomatoes that you put salt on then chow down....

Posted by: Doug at May 2, 2008 9:33 PM


Chris, cultures have been relative since the beginning of cultures.

Posted by: Doug at May 2, 2008 9:34 PM


Laura,

How would we do this? Just set up a night? Or pick a week and talk about it at the end of the week, giving everybody a chance to watch it?

You KNOW I LOVE the idea!!!!

Posted by: mk at May 2, 2008 5:17 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yeeeesh! It's been a while since I've done this.

We'll have to take about a week.
1) Some people will have to have their video rental venue order it.
2) Some people will have to watch it when their younger kids are asleep or at school - some parts are REALLY graphic.
3) If Amanda could contact the director and make him part of our discussion, that would be the coolest thing EVER!

This could be great if we could get it worked out!

Posted by: Laura at May 2, 2008 9:39 PM


Doug, have you ever read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn? I'm re-reading it today and I just keep thinking about how "relative" cultures are...

Posted by: Edyt at May 2, 2008 9:40 PM


Hey Doug, 4p: Bethany sent me your comment in case I missed it, which I did. Thanks for the kind words... :)

Posted by: Jill Stanek at May 2, 2008 9:41 PM


I've got a random collection of comments before I toddle off to bed...

First, RSD, even if I disagree with you, I would never scream at protesters, nor would I flip them off.

Janet, Seven of Nine is a Borg character played by Jeri Ryan in one of the later Star Trek series. She was AWESOME.

Third, I am totally looking forward to the "Lake of Fire" thread.


Posted by: Hieronymous at May 2, 2008 11:10 PM


Laura, (EVERYONE),

Rae is going to be here in Chicago staying with me from May 16 to the 20th. That might be a good week.

Is everyone up for a veiwing between May 16th and May 23rd?

Amanda, could you contact the director and let me know?

We should probably make it a weekend question so that we'll have plenty of time to discuss it without too many other posts to distract us.

Jill, what say you?

Minnesota people, you could get together to watch it.

Illinois people, Elizabeth, Carla, JLM, Rosie etc, we could all watch it at my house on the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th. That way Rae can veiw it with us...we could do it in the afternoon or early evening...after the Aquarium? Make a big day of it????

Posted by: mk at May 3, 2008 6:48 AM


MK,

I don't know if I could do the movie after the aquarium since I was planning on bringing Gabriella to the aquarium too..and she would DEFINITELY need to come home and go to bed.

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 3, 2008 9:30 AM


I'm in for the 16th to the 23rd!

Posted by: Hieronymous at May 3, 2008 9:53 AM


Doug, have you ever read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn? I'm re-reading it today and I just keep thinking about how "relative" cultures are...

Edyt, no, but I sure wish that it had been me who'd written it. I've heard of it and it's "on the list," though I don't read as many books as I used to.

Perhaps arguing my fool head off online for hours most every day has something to do with that.

Have a bunch of brand-new books here that I haven't even opened the covers on yet.

Yes, cultures can be SO relative, and there are some around the world that are just horrifying to me. And of course I realize that abortion is horrifying to some people too.

Posted by: Doug at May 3, 2008 11:57 AM


Oh man, it would be SO exciting if we could get a bunch of people together and hang out..I bet it would be sooo fun.

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 3, 2008 4:05 PM


Ok, I'm jealous again.

all ya'll getting together and I'm stuck in the Sunshine state.


I'm game for viewing if I can get a copy of the documentary.

And Jill, have you heard from the director of the documentary of the late-term abortions of Russian teenagers?

Posted by: carder at May 3, 2008 7:38 PM


"Cultural relativism" is a fallacious worldview, because it confuses what society does with what it ought to do. If the culture does not have a transcendent sense of absolute morality, then it has no means to demand justice from any other culture. The means to criticize and make moral judgement at all is eliminated by holding such a worldview.

As I pointed out before, a woman who defends the state's "culturally relative morals" when it comes to "personal rights" such as abortion has no grounds to complain if she's taken a sex slave by another culture. Her personal autonomy rights would simply be just a matter of her culture, and would have no standing in the other culture.

In other words, such a person can't complain about evil. To do so means you have a sense of what is just or unjust. You could only express one view and demand the other if you were being intellectually dishonest. (Does the proverbial shoe fit?) Simply put, some believe "Subjective morality when it suits me, and objective morality when it suits me." You become your own god. (Now that's what I call being really "Pro-Choice"!!!)

It's interesting that during the War Trials at Nuremburg after WWII that the lawyers for the Nazi war criminals made just such a case. - that they merely were following what was culturally right in the Third Reich. They demanded transcendent justice for their actions, meaning they knew right from wrong. They hanged.

The biggest problem is most who espouse moral relativism are intellectually lazy - they don't look at the reasoning behind the moral decisions to understand that there is little difference in the basic moral values between cultures, only differences at how varying cultures view situations when moral values are engaged.

Lastly, one doesn't have to cross borders to understand that many cultures don't always respect lines drawn by others.

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at May 3, 2008 9:42 PM


Heir,

You live in the Chicago area, right? You're welcome to watch it at my house too. (don't have a big screen tho)...

Elizabeth,
Gabriella is welcome to fall asleep here, and play with my kids til bedtime. Or we could do the movie on the next nite. I was just trying to avoid you having to drive in twice.

We could do it on that Monday? Can you get a sitter for Gabby if you only do the movie?

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 6:35 AM


Where do you live MK?

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 4, 2008 12:41 PM


I'm in Edison Park, which for all practical purposes is Park Ridge (former home of Hillary Clinton)

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 2:35 PM


"Cultural relativism" is a fallacious worldview, because it confuses what society does with what it ought to do. If the culture does not have a transcendent sense of absolute morality, then it has no means to demand justice from any other culture. The means to criticize and make moral judgement at all is eliminated by holding such a worldview.

Perhaps a culture shouldn't demand justice from another culture. Perhaps we all have different ways of what works best for our own particular society.

As I pointed out before, a woman who defends the state's "culturally relative morals" when it comes to "personal rights" such as abortion has no grounds to complain if she's taken a sex slave by another culture. Her personal autonomy rights would simply be just a matter of her culture, and would have no standing in the other culture.

In other words, such a person can't complain about evil. To do so means you have a sense of what is just or unjust. You could only express one view and demand the other if you were being intellectually dishonest. (Does the proverbial shoe fit?) Simply put, some believe "Subjective morality when it suits me, and objective morality when it suits me." You become your own god. (Now that's what I call being really "Pro-Choice"!!!)

I think you're confusing the pro-choice stance. Pro-choicers are not necessarily defending cultural relativism; they are more acknowledging it. That's why one culture may be against torture while understanding that another is for it. Moral relativity is not without critique. But even with a transcendent being telling people how to live, the interpretation has been changed over time to reflect a societal viewpoint. Otherwise, it would be illegal to have sex with menstruating women. The fact that it's not represents a changing interpretation of morality.

I think most people have a general idea of what is just and unjust according to their society's norms. I illustrated in an earlier thread that stealing may be deemed wrong in our society, while another may consider that a form of sharing; that everything is owned by everyone.

Morality is never objective. One can have an opinion about morals or culture, but it will always be that: opinion. And opinions are always subjective.

It's interesting that during the War Trials at Nuremburg after WWII that the lawyers for the Nazi war criminals made just such a case. - that they merely were following what was culturally right in the Third Reich. They demanded transcendent justice for their actions, meaning they knew right from wrong. They hanged.

Well, from your standpoint and my own, as well as the judges, we didn't think that was culturally right. We had the power to decide "Yes, that's okay for their culture" or "No, that's not okay for their culture." Ultimately, we decided it was wrong. Still... that's not objective. It's subjective.

The biggest problem is most who espouse moral relativism are intellectually lazy - they don't look at the reasoning behind the moral decisions to understand that there is little difference in the basic moral values between cultures, only differences at how varying cultures view situations when moral values are engaged.

Naturally, most societies evolved in a similar manner, so we would expect them to have many of the similar basic moral values. And we have looked at the reasoning behind these values, which is why atheists can still have moral values without a transcendent being. For a simple example: I understand that our society frowns upon theft. We believe in possession and ownership. As a result of theft, other people will become unhappy and perhaps seek to punish me, which will make me unhappy. To keep our society in order, then, the law is made that stealing is wrong. In our country, thieves go to jail, but in others, they may be punished to a more extreme degree. Does that mean stealing is more wrong in one country than another?

Lastly, one doesn't have to cross borders to understand that many cultures don't always respect lines drawn by others.

Very true. I suppose when we killed off the native Americans we had very little respect for their boundaries and instead claimed the land for our own. It was an act of theft we have never been punished for... simply because we never thought of it as such. Moral relativism at its best (or worst, one might reason).

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 2:36 PM


I'm game for viewing if I can get a copy of the documentary.

Posted by: carder at May 3, 2008 7:38 PM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's retailed at places like Amazon for $16.00 to $18.oo dollars.
Apparently it can be downloaded at a few sites.

Posted by: Laura at May 4, 2008 3:35 PM


Morality is never objective. One can have an opinion about morals or culture, but it will always be that: opinion. And opinions are always subjective.

In your opinion, there is no right or wrong, good or evil. But if you say there is right or wrong, good or evil then that's only your opinion, because morality is subjective.

It was an act of theft we have never been punished for... simply because we never thought of it as such.

What??? An act of theft?

You're making a moral judgement, aren't you...

Isn't judgment objective?

How can there possibly be a moral distinction? You're saying that the value of the land is of moral concern - but isn't that value merely subjective? Or is the value objective and tangible - thus making your moral judgement and statements tangible and objective?

Hey All! Edyt is making an objective moral statement about the killing of Native Americans and the theft of their lands.

But you just said

Morality is never objective.

So the theft is just your opinion. Tell me how that moves your argument forward.

"Morality is never objective" is a self-refuting statement. And you've provided a great example of what I was describing as a fallacious worldview. Thanks - you made my point objectively.

Okay, tell me again why I'm wrong...when you keep demonstrating that I'm right.

Like I said, you're the perfect object lesson for moral relativism Edyt.

Go enjoy the rest of your day, and think about it.

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at May 4, 2008 3:36 PM


By our own cultural standpoint, what we did to the Native Americans was theft.

At the time, we did not believe it was theft (though we understood property was to be owned and therefore could be stolen or not) because we believed it to be colonization. But by today's definition, it certainly would be considered theft. Just because the Native Americans did not have deeds to their property doesn't mean we were entitled to it.

Again, this isn't necessarily a fact, an irrefutable moral opinion. Certainly some feel we were entitled to the land, by our cultural lens I see it as theft.

I fail to see how your misunderstanding of what I said disproves my argument.

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 3:58 PM


When I was in grade school, we did exercises to seek out facts vs. opinions. I'm sure this exercise will do you well.

People have different opinions about morality. Fact or opinion?

Theft is wrong. Fact or opinion?

Some of the morals we hold today are different from the morals we held 2000 years ago. Fact or opinion?

Theft is illegal. Fact or opinion?

Other countries have laws that we in America do not have. Fact or opinion?

Moral values are divinely granted. Fact or opinion?

Objective statements are based on fact. Fact or opinion?

Subjective statements are based on opinion. Fact or opinion?

Objective statements are stronger than subjective statements. Fact or opinion?

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 4:11 PM


Chris - how the heck else would you describe someone walking on to your property, either running you off at gun point OR killing you and your family, and then smacking their name on the mailbox and calling it their house...other than theft?

Posted by: Amanda at May 4, 2008 4:39 PM


Heir,

You live in the Chicago area, right? You're welcome to watch it at my house too. (don't have a big screen tho)...

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 6:35 AM

That would be fun. Are you sure though? I might give off PC cooties.... :-)

Have to check with the hubby too, make sure he can be home in time.

Posted by: Hieronymous at May 4, 2008 5:51 PM


I certainly wouldn't call them opinions, precisely because they are objective and they have tangible value that is independent of opinion. You're making my point as well with your example.

Edyt said:

Morality is never objective.

That can't possibly be true because Edyt herself uses objective criteria to argue the moral theft of the land. Her statement is self-refuting - sort of like "this sentence can't be read". It's non-sensical.

Logically, the word "never" is a universal, and the word "objective" as Edyt is trying to point out in her 4:11 post, is a thing which is independent of the mind - in other words, it exists, it's actual, tangible, or what Edyt would call "fact". Edyt is making a truth claim, stating "Morality is never factual or independent of the mind."

How can that possibly be? You and she seem to have the same exact idea about the morality of theft. How is that opinion?

How do you both know it's wrong - what are you using for a measure?

If there is no singular transcendent universal sense of right or wrong, then how can you both make a moral judgment? You simply can't. In fact, you can't even argue about morality unless you understand that difference.

I don't argue with Edyt, I'm using her replies to demonstrate to others the fallacy of moral relativism. It's like her getting angry about torture - she's got no ground to stand on - because the evilness of it is merely her opinion and she said so!

She wants her cake and to eat it too. She's about as intellectually honest as a two-year old.

What about you Amanda? Do you make the same morally relative argument?

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at May 4, 2008 5:53 PM


BTW - The point of confusion for most moral relativists is that one can never actually know truth for certain without a sense, an intuition - or what some call faith.

They confuse this intuition with the idea that one cannot possibly know for certain.

Strange how one can intuit many things and know for certain many things, but reject the idea that we can know morality for certain.

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at May 4, 2008 5:58 PM


How can that possibly be? You and she seem to have the same exact idea about the morality of theft. How is that opinion?

Ahh, Chris... you're not paying attention.

Through our cultural lens -- that is, our understanding and perception of what is right and wrong based on the way we were raised and our own cultural norms (that means it's biased from our experience, feelings, and education) -- we see theft as wrong.

But because we wear tinted glasses, our view is not objective. It is subjective.

Like I said earlier, many cultures developed the same way and stemmed from the same place. Therefore, it is only natural that we would have similar basic moral principles. When you have children, you pass down your genetic code, correct? Similarly, when you have children, you pass down your moral code. It is rather unlikely that you would have a child completely independent of your own genetic code. That's why Amanda and I see the Native American example as theft -- through our cultural lens, we've come to see it that way.

That is not to say that if we had grown up in a society where land is free for the taking, we would not see it as theft at all. Do you see what I mean?

Hint: Instead of attempting to trip me up, you could be making some stellar counterarguments for moral objectivity. ;)

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 6:08 PM


If there is no singular transcendent universal sense of right or wrong, then how can you both make a moral judgment? You simply can't. In fact, you can't even argue about morality unless you understand that difference.

Why can't you? Why do you think we have a court system in place? If we could all make the same universal decisions on morality, there would be no need for a judge to decide right or wrong, would there?

I don't argue with Edyt, I'm using her replies to demonstrate to others the fallacy of moral relativism. It's like her getting angry about torture - she's got no ground to stand on - because the evilness of it is merely her opinion and she said so!

I never said it was evil, I said our use of torture encourages other countries to torture our soldiers and civilians. I'm not making an argument over whether it's right or wrong because that WOULD be an opinion. What I am saying is that it could prove potentially more harmful for our society if we engage in acts that harm other societies. It's not a matter or morality. It's a matter of what works best. In our society, we have decided that torturing our own prisoners is not conducive to our functioning society, so cruel and unusual punishment is outlawed by the Constitution. On the surface, it's easy to say that we don't engage in that because of moral reasons, but looking back on history we can clearly see that many people had absolutely no moral issue with torturing prisoners. At some point, people realized that wasn't actually working toward the good of their society and made executions and jail time more humane.

She wants her cake and to eat it too. She's about as intellectually honest as a two-year old.

Yes, Chris. Attack me and not my argument. It makes you look smart in the face of the other pro-lifers.

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 6:16 PM


Strange how one can intuit many things and know for certain many things, but reject the idea that we can know morality for certain.

Truly fascinating, isn't it?

Tell me something... if morality is certain, why have perceptions of right and wrong changed over time, and why do people have differing opinions as to what is right and wrong?

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 6:19 PM


Heiro,

Honestly, I think of ALL of you, prochoice and prolife alike, as family. You are all welcome. To the site, to my home, in my heart.

It will be fun. I gotta warn you tho, it's a smoking house and we have a dog...that sheds a lot.

I can hold off smoking while everyone is here, but unfortunately, the smoke is IN the house...so be warned.

We can order pizza make popcorn. Unless our appetites are ruined...in which case I've got plenty of ziplocks.

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 7:07 PM


Different opinions of right or wrong? Opinions? What differences are you talking about? It's just your opinion.

Edyt - your argument commits self-refuting logical suicide before I can attack it. ;-)

Here's how:

but looking back on history we can clearly see that many people had absolutely no moral issue with torturing prisoners.

On what basis can you make such a statement? You're making a moral judgment about cultural actions, whether you think you are or not. Yes - it's true. Otherwise how do you know the difference to say they had "absolutely no moral issue"? That's being morally objective!

You're asserting a moral stance at the same time you're refuting it. Basically you're saying TRUE = FALSE.

Kapow!!! - there goes your logic. Dead.

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at May 4, 2008 7:09 PM


Edyt,

I think what Chris is saying is that your statement that morals are subjective (meaning you beleive this) is an objective statement about morals. So even if the only objective thing about morals that you believe is that objectively speaking, they are subjective, then you too, have an objective view about morality...does that make sense?

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 7:09 PM


I think what Chris is saying is that your statement that morals are subjective (meaning you beleive this) is an objective statement about morals.

True. That morals are subjective is an objective statement. It is objective because it can be proven by the fact that people have different moral opinions (over time and now). If morals were objective, they would be universal. The fact that they are not proves they are subjective.

And yes, I can see how that implies I "have an objective view about morality." That's partially correct. But view implies opinion, and Chris has failed to show me how morals are objective (that is, universal) therefore rendering my "view" factual rather than subjective.

(P.S. I know how to argue a morally objective position, but since he'd rather denigrate me than argue, I'm going to keep pushing him to make a real response.)

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 7:19 PM


Edyt,

Tell me something... if morality is certain, why have perceptions of right and wrong changed over time, and why do people have differing opinions as to what is right and wrong?

GOOD question. I think that there is objective moral truth, but that doesn't mean we always see it or accept it.

I don't care what anyone says, there is no way that deep in their hearts, when they were alone in their beds at night with no one but their consciences, that slaveowners really believed it was morally "right" to beat, own, hang slaves. Or that the nazis truly believed that it was morally "right' to gas Jews, use their bones for soap and buttons or rape their women. But it was convenient to their agenda to tell themselves that it was right.

We, Catholics/Christians believe that the code of right and wrong is written on the heart of every man. Basically, the ten commandments. But that inch by inch we kill our consciences and silence it's voice so that we can no longer hear it...no longer tell what is right and what is wrong.

The law is objective. We, however, are subjective.

Today, we have horrible evils being touted as good. And "good" being touted as "bad".

People who try to live good, clean lives...waiting til marriage for sex, being open to children, living out a faith, speaking out against abortion, wanting marriage to remain between people of the opposite sex...are called "bad" and backward and uncaring...

While people who promote sex outside of marriage, gay pride, birth control, abortion, and atheism are looked at as "good"...

Why is that? I say it's because the consciences of many people have been snuffed out through television, movies, pornography, license called freedom...Once a person's conscience is seared, it's very difficult to go back. Once a society decides that "anything goes" it's nigh impossible to flourish.

I honestly believe, that we as a society, and the whole world, is very sick, spiritually.

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 7:20 PM


Edyt: Tell me something... if morality is certain, why have perceptions of right and wrong changed over time, and why do people have differing opinions as to what is right and wrong?

Some people may have not developed a well-formed conscience. (From the Catholicism of the Catholic Church)


II. THE FORMATION OF CONSCIENCE

1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.

1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path,54 we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.55

Posted by: Janet at May 4, 2008 7:20 PM


Ahhhh Janet,

I love you girl...great minds and all that!

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 7:24 PM


mk: Right back at 'cha. Isn't that funny?

Posted by: Janet at May 4, 2008 7:26 PM


Different opinions of right or wrong? Opinions? What differences are you talking about? It's just your opinion.

Some people believe homosexuality is morally wrong. Others do not.

Some people believe torture is morally wrong. Others do not.

Some people believe sharing is morally right. Others do not.

Some people believe sex after marriage is morally right.

(I can go on and on...)

Here's how:

but looking back on history we can clearly see that many people had absolutely no moral issue with torturing prisoners.

On what basis can you make such a statement?

Well, I happen to enjoy reading historical documents, and it is clearly documented that prisoners were tortured. Logically speaking, if their society thought torture was wrong, they wouldn't do it!

And that statement can be further proven by the fact that we no longer torture prisoners. Why? Because we think it's morally wrong!

You're making a moral judgment about cultural actions, whether you think you are or not. Yes - it's true. Otherwise how do you know the difference to say they had "absolutely no moral issue"? That's being morally objective!

I think you've confused the argument again, but you're being unclear, so I'm not sure. When you say morally objective, you're implying that I can tell whether a culture is being morally correct or not, right?

I don't see where I've said that torturing prisoners is or is not morally correct. Where is my judgment? I'm simply illustrating the point that our moral beliefs change. If they were universal, they would not change.

Think about it like physics. Everywhere you go in the world, the laws of physics will remain the same. They're universal. Morals are not universal because they're different whether you go to the other side of the world or down the block.

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 7:27 PM


Edyt,

Some people believe homosexuality is morally wrong. Others do not.

Some people believe torture is morally wrong. Others do not.

Some people believe sharing is morally right. Others do not.

Some people believe sex after marriage is morally right.


That's the point I was trying to make. The objective morals themselves do NOT change, but our understanding and adherence to them DOES.

Morality is objective. Our interpretation of it is subjective and that's where we get ourselves into trouble.

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 7:29 PM


MK, great points, particularly the last part about interpretation.

So let me ask deeper. How do you know that the interpretation of things like sex before marriage, homosexuality, torture, sharing and so forth, are all correct? In other words, what makes these things wrong?

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 7:34 PM


Edyt,

Think about it like physics. Everywhere you go in the world, the laws of physics will remain the same. They're universal. Morals are not universal because they're different whether you go to the other side of the world or down the block.

Yes EXACTLY! Just like physics. Physics itself doesn't change. But 4000 years ago we didn't know what gravity was. We didn't know what bacteria was. We thought the sun revolved around us...

Did physics change when we announce that we revolved around the sun? NO! The law remained the same. Only now we acknowledged it. All the people that thought the sun revolved around the earth were wrong.

Because physics is objective.

People who think abortion is okay, are wrong. The universal moral law does not change. Abortion is and always been and always will be wrong. But there will always be people who insist that it is right. Just like the sun and earth tho, the universal law doesn't change. Only whether or not people recognize and accept it changes.

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 7:36 PM


I'll ask another question then... how do we determine which questions are of moral ground and which are not?

(For example, is recycling a moral issue?)

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 7:41 PM


Janet, you brought up another question I was going to ask... one referring to education. In your post, it seems clear that one must be educated down the right moral path.

However, physics (to keep with the universal thread) does not need education to continue working the same way, whereas morals seem to require quite a bit of "don't do this" and "do that" to function.

In other words, we don't need to understand physics for gravity to keep working, but we need to understand morality to go down the "right path."

So what if you never learned an iota of moral fiber in your life? Will the "right" decision still be in your heart, like gravity will continue to pull even if you never learned the theory?

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 7:48 PM


Edyt,

I'll admit it does get tricky sometimes. Because if to gay men love each other, and we know that love is good, then why is expressing their love in a physical way wrong.

This is why the last paragraph that Janet posted is so important.

We, Catholics I mean, look to the church for much of our moral teaching, especially on topics that are "iffy"...


We can also look to the fruits of any choices that we make. We know that children born to homes with loving parents of the opposite sex have the best environment to grow in.

I can plant a lavender plant anywhere. But they "prefer" sandy soil, lots of hot sun, not too much water and dry roots.

Can a lavender plant grow in moist, clay soil? Maybe, but it will be happiest and flourish best when conditions are more favorable...you see?

Can a child grow up okay in a man/man home? Of course, but the best conditions are a man/woman, where the parents love each other.

Can a man have sex with a man? Sure, but obviously it works best with a man and a woman. We just have to look at our body parts, and watch the miracle of new life to see what happens when "conditions' are near perfect.

We know that having multiple sexual partners leads to heartbreak, contraception, disease...Can a marriage work if both partners have had multiple partners, use contraception, and are not open to new life? Sure. But it will have a much better chance if the couple waits til marriage, accepts any and all children and honors their marriage vows.

So now the question is where does this objective moral law come from? Well, it either evolved like plankton, or it comes from somewhere/someone.

We believe it comes from our creator. We call him God. He has made clear in the major religions what He considers right and wrong. And all societies that last follow these laws whether they ackowledge that they are from God or not.

Almost ALL societies, for ALL of time, have frowned upon theft, murder, rape...and those that haven't, well, where are they now.

Even our own countries laws, up til the last 50 years or so, have been based on this "universal law"...

Truly, how can we have something called justice, honor, truth...all intangible things...without a sense, an objective sense, of right and wrong?

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 7:48 PM


Edyt,

In other words, we don't need to understand physics for gravity to keep working, but we need to understand morality to go down the "right path."

If a person, unlearned in physics, jumps off a 20 story building he will learn very quickly about the "law" of gravity.

Likewise, a person who chooses moral wrongs, will suffer the consequences of their choices. The law works whether the person knows it or not.

If I eat an entire chocolate cake every day for 6 months, an act of gluttony, I will suffer the consequences...will I not? Whether I realize that my actions are against the moral law, I am still subject to that law.

If I smoke crack everyday? If I drink a fifth of Jack Daniels everyday? If I lie all the time? Or steal???

Won't I suffer consequences?

But if we accept God, and His law, we also must acknowledge that some of the consequences of our immorality might not be felt for years, or even until we pass to the next life. But there WILL be consequences.

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 7:54 PM


Edyt,

Also, while only a rudimentary knowledge of physics is necessary to know that wearing a seat belt is smart, a physicist must study physics his entire life. The more he knows the more he realizes he knows nothing. He must feed his mind, and take physics to new heights.

So too, with morality. A rudimentary knowledge of morality might keep you "alive", but if you want to LIVE you need to keep challenging yourself, keep seeking the truth, keep growing, becoming, evolving, morally...

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 7:57 PM


But MK, if a society dies out because its moral code is not functional, then we don't necessarily have to say our moral code is objective. It is, however, certainly functional for our survival.

And our following these "laws" so to say, is not necessarily the result of a God doing so, but rather the code being passed down through the generations.

I like your example of the plant, which illustrates what works best. Let me throw out another idea. In our growth as a population, we've run many other species out of their homes and toward extinction. Yet, according to the Bible (your source for moral code), population growth is a good thing. Clearly this is not a good thing for all animals. What "works best" for us is destructive to the very creatures we were put here to take care of. Rather, you could say what might work best is for us to limit our population so that others can flourish.

What is morally right? The destruction of other species for our own survival? Or the preservation of all life in limited forms?

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 7:59 PM


Edyt,

(For example, is recycling a moral issue?)

That's a really interesting question...first I think people need to grasp the very basics...killing each other is wrong, torturing each other is wrong, lying is wrong...

But as I said in the above post we must keep challenging ourselves to grow morally...

So I think that a truly morally evolved person, will be concerned with our environment. Littering, wasting, all of these things are most definitely moral issues.

But our society/world is so screwed up right now, that FIRST we need to get back to the basics and then move on to morality 201 or the more advanced classes.

Worrying about recycling while accepting abortion is kind of backwards in the morality school of thought. Both are necessary, but you wouldn't worry about littering in the middle of Auschwitz, would you?

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 8:03 PM


Again, I'll ask... what if you never learned morality? Say you were raised in the wilderness by wolves and suddenly discover humanity. Will you be able to follow their moral code?

You don't even have to know the study of physics exists to know that if you trip, you'll fall and if you pull on a rubber band it will snap back. But consequences for morality aren't as apparent... especially if you consider that some of those consequences won't apply until after death. Where's the motivation?

You have the Bible and religion to use as a moral guidebook, but what of the Hindus and Buddhists? Where does their morality come from?

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 8:06 PM


Edyt,

Animals were put here FOR us. So we while we should not abuse them, or take them for granted (what they are doing to cows is HORRENDOUS!), they are not humans.

Human life is sacred. Animal life is not.

Of course if you don't accept God, then objective morality ceases to be objective (for you) but it doesn't cease to be objective...

But again, just as with physics, there will be consequences. Your or anyones acceptance of that doesn't change the truth of it.

You can choose not to believe it, but if morality is objective, then you will be wrong. See?

And there is evidence to believe that it is objective. Because we can see the fruits of right moral living (Mother Teresa) and the fruits of immoral living (Adolph Hitler). Both of them claimed to be committing moral acts. But only one of them was. Is there anybody alive today that would not agree that Mother Teresa did wonderful things and Adolph Hitler did awful things? Is there anytime in history, where this would be different? There might be small groups of people who don't think Hitler was bad, or Mother Teresa was good, but wouldn't you say, that objectively speaking, we can be pretty sure which was which?

Couldn't you ask a 4 year old, whose conscience is unformed, which was good and which was bad? How many four year would say that Hitler was good and MT was bad? Virtually none. Yet how do they know this?

How many children have pointed to the picture of "fetuse" and said "baby"???

This is because they have not yet been jaded by society, they can still see right and wrong clearly. Because it IS clear. It is objective. Otherwise, 50% of 4 year olds would say Hitler was good, and 50% would say MT was good.

Now their consciences are still young, so they might not be able to discern more complicated moral questions, but you'd be surprised how good their sense of justice and fair play is...innately.

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 8:13 PM


Haha, I like the idea of morality 101 classes. You're bringing up an interesting idea though. There are basic morals (killing, stealing, cheating, lying I'd assume are all on the list) which all of us can pretty much agree on without any doubt whatsoever.

Then we have ... what would you call it, higher morals? Things like recycling and sharing and being kind to others?

Then we have ... ambiguous morals which are not agreed on by either side. Things like homosexuality and abortion, though I'm willing to grant that abortion can be slid under the category of killing another person. However, there's really no logical reason to oppose homosexuality, except that it doesn't further our species. Perhaps if our society was dwindling, the opposition toward homosexuality would be justified. But it's not. It's flourishing to an extreme degree.

So what rational reason do we have to conclude these ambiguous moral beliefs are right or wrong?

Posted by: Edyt at May 4, 2008 8:15 PM


E,
You have the Bible and religion to use as a moral guidebook, but what of the Hindus and Buddhists? Where does their morality come from?

The Catholic church recognizes that there is truth in all religions. If there wasn't these religions wouldn't have lasted as long as they have.

They get many things wrong, yes, but look at their basic moral codes...they are very, very similar to the Christian one.

Again, murder is wrong, lying is wrong, rape is wrong...

Where we differ theologically, is more often than not, not on issues of morality. But on who God is, if there is a heaven, etc.

Where we agree, is on basic moral conduct...

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 8:18 PM


E,

When it comes to fine tuning, again we look at the fruits. And we look God as we know him. I can't prove that homosexual behavior is wrong. I believe that it is. I believe that it goes against natural law (which is not necessarily the same a moral law, and definitely doesn't mean things found in nature)...it's actually closer to physics.

Again, we look at how our bodies are made and we see that they were "meant" to work a certain way.

When we start working against natural law, we will have consequences. Either now, or after death.

This is why we have to have courts, because while we can all agree on the basics, the trickier ones require Solomons.

As a Catholic, I look to God, the scriptures, the Catechism...But obviously I can't expect EVERYONE to do the same...Heck 60% of Catholics don't follow this.

But for me, I believe that the Catholic church is the closest to knowing objective morality than anyone else. I realize that this now requires a leap of faith, so I'm only speaking for myself, BUT

Imagine for a moment, the entire world, willingly living by the morals of the Catholic church. Not forcibly, but willingly...A world where everyone truly tried to live as Jesus did. Where everyone was first and foremost concerned with doing the next "Right thing"...A world filled with Mother Teresas...

There would be no abortion, no unwanted children, no loneliness, no hunger, no poverty, no cruelty, no Auschwitz, no Rwanda...

To me, this is a pretty good indication that the Catholic church has it's finger well placed on the moral heartbeat...no?

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 8:27 PM


Okay,

I'm loving this conversation, but I have to get to bed. I PROMISE, this is the first place I'll look in the morning.

But I'll leave you with a couple of thoughts.

I read this today...the truest symbol of love is not the heart, not the wedding ring, and not cupids arrow. The truest symbol of love, is the cross. It is only in sacrifice, husband for wife, mother for child, neighbor for neighbor, that love can be truly understood.

And... I sat in front of the Eucharist today in my Adoration Chapel, and I talked about you for an hour. I told Jesus all about you, and how much I wanted you to find peace...and Him. I told Him I thought you were an awesome person, but that you had been hurt by the church somewhere, and I begged Him to heal that hurt and help you to find Him again. I told Him about the whole TR thing and asked Him to help me understand what you were REALLY trying to say...

So I am really, really grateful to have had this conversation tonight. And I thank you. You made my day.

Posted by: mk at May 4, 2008 8:36 PM


You know Chris, I would have loved to respond to your post, had you not chosen to take the middle school lunch room approach to your discussion with Edyt.

I find that posting on this site can be either a lot of fun and very interesting, or it can make me frustrated and angry. I've realized over the last couple of weeks that it has nothing to do with the topic, but rather, how people are choosing to discuss it. A select few of you seem to be unable to go after an argument without going after the person making it. Calling them names, smacking labels on them, or trying to further their own points by belittling anyone who DARES to disagree.

Rather than getting angry and getting sucked in to it, from now on I'm just going to ignore the people who choose to do that, and stick with the people who are confident enough in their opinions that they can have an intellectual conversation without being condescending and rude.

Posted by: Amanda at May 4, 2008 9:11 PM



Rather than getting angry and getting sucked in to it, from now on I'm just going to ignore the people who choose to do that, and stick with the people who are confident enough in their opinions that they can have an intellectual conversation without being condescending and rude.

Posted by: Amanda at May 4, 2008 9:11 PM

Amanda, I like the way you think.:)

Posted by: Janet at May 4, 2008 9:59 PM


Edyt:

Looks like a good conversation with mk, I haven't read it all and it's late...so I'll talk to you maybe tomorrow. I'm not ignoring you, I promise, I'm just tired. :) Good night all!

Posted by: Janet at May 4, 2008 10:02 PM


MK, I agree you can find many of the basic moral ideas in many different cultures, but I still don't feel satisfied in the conclusion that it proves a moral objectivity. For one... humans have a nasty habit of killing of people who disagree with us. That's why many native cultures have been destroyed. Not because they're primitive, but because they have chosen to live their lives in a way that is not compatible with our own. Perhaps those cultures had a working moral code, and we erased it by destroying them. It's not a far stretch, but we can't really know for sure.

And I want to address the idea of natural law. It's been hypothesized that homosexuality occurs in overpopulated species. Therefore, it would be perfectly natural for homosexuals to exist in our culture as a way of mother nature or God saying "Slow down a bit with the babies!" In the past, our numbers have been cut back by disease, natural disaster, and famine, but our technology makes it possible for us to survive in conditions otherwise unlivable for any other species. This certainly cannot be "natural" (though I would hesitate to say our technology is immoral) any more than homosexuality is.

I think... even in a world where everyone was trying to live their very best, there will always be gray areas of morality where the Bible and Catholic Church may not have the answers. Is it safe to assume they are always right? And you brought up courts to determine issues of that are gray -- well, they decided abortion shouldn't be legal, yet people still disagree over it (as exemplified by this blog).

The Church has made mistakes... so have judges... where do people turn then?

(The other problem I have with people judging homosexuality as immoral is that it opens up a world for hatred and hate crimes. When a person is labeled "other" it is that much easier to objectify and bring harm to him or her.)

Also, thank you for the respectful and thoughtful discussion.

Posted by: Edyt at May 5, 2008 2:25 AM


Oh, I meant to say something earlier about animals.

Because we need animals to survive, I believe they are just as sacred and important as we are. The food chain, so to say, maintains the health of all species ... the lion eats the gazelle, which eats the grass, which is grown from the waste of other animals... and so forth.

It's when we deem them less sacred (or not at all) when we find it acceptable to torture and abuse them, or wipe out their species altogether for our own gains. I don't believe that's what God had in mind for man. Whether or not man was made to rule over creatures, I don't believe there was anything about destroying them for man's gain.

(I'm not saying I believe in God, but to me the circle of life is but nature's laws in action, which a lot of people don't understand and substituting "God" in place is more understandable to those who read the creation story and understand man's purpose)

Posted by: Edyt at May 5, 2008 2:35 AM


Edyt: That morals are subjective is an objective statement. It is objective because it can be proven by the fact that people have different moral opinions (over time and now). If morals were objective, they would be universal. The fact that they are not proves they are subjective.

Right, morality is ideas. It's internal to the mind, not external to it. It's subjective, by definition.

Posted by: Doug at May 5, 2008 5:02 AM


Doug, Do you have a conscience? Do you know the difference between a "conscience" and a "well-formed conscience" ?

Posted by: Janet at May 5, 2008 5:11 AM


Do you have a conscience?

Morning, Janet. Yes.
.....


Do you know the difference between "conscience" and a "well-formed conscience"?

Yes, the latter is in the eye of the beholder, dependent on what is wanted, i.e. if one approves of how the subject feels then one will deem it "well-formed."

Posted by: Doug at May 5, 2008 6:03 AM


Edyt,

MK, I agree you can find many of the basic moral ideas in many different cultures, but I still don't feel satisfied in the conclusion that it proves a moral objectivity. For one... humans have a nasty habit of killing of people who disagree with us.

But see, that's what I'm saying...the law hasn't changed. It is still wrong to kill people that you disagree with. But people don't always choose to live by the moral law. See?

So people killing people that they disagree with is not proof that the law doesn't exist, but rather proof that people ignore it.

I understand what you are saying about animals. But there is a difference between humans and all other animals. And there is a difference between killing an animal in a humane way for food, and killing them for sport.

Raising cattle for meat, is not wrong. But what they do to cows now, locking them in small enclosures for their entire life so that they can't even carry their own body weight, pumping them with antibiotics...THIS is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Animals are a gift to us. They help us farm, keep us company, provide us with food, protect us...they should be respected.

But they aren't human beings. Treating cows that way is HORRIBLE, but not as horrible as treating people that way.

Again, look at small children. 99.9% of them would look at those videos of cows being mowed down with fork lifts and innately KNOW that this was wrong.

99.9% of 4 year olds would look at a picture of an aborted baby and innately KNOW that this was wrong.

99.9% of 4 year olds would look at pictures of war, or a father beating a mother, or person hitting a dog with a stick, would innately KNOW that this is wrong...

They know this because it is an objective truth. Nobody has to tell them these things are wrong.
They just KNOW it.

As for the homosexual thing, you can have compassion for someone, and understand why they are doing what they are doing, but still know that what they are doing is wrong.

They are killing female babies in India. Soon, the next generations of men will have no women to marry. Perhaps they will turn to homosexuality. The fruits of killing their children, will lead to "unnatural" (again, natural law NOT being what occurs naturally, but what is meant to occur)behaviors.

For a better understanding of "natural law" look to cancer cells. They occur naturally. They are part of nature. But they are nature behaving unnaturally. Cells are meant to be healthy and reproduce in a certain way. It is when something goes "wrong" that we end up with cancer cells.
They are occurring in nature, yes, but they are an aberration, not the norm.

Homosexuality occurs in nature yes. But it is not how men and women are supposed to be. It is nature gone amok. If the sun came up in the west tomorrow, it would still be natural, but it would not be natural "law"...we would know that something is wrong, because the sun is supposed to come up in the east, right?

Men are supposed to be with women and vice a versa. This is natural law. The parts fit, and we get new life. Things are working as they were meant to. When a man suddenly becomes attracted to a man, then we know that "nature" has gone awry and produced something outside of "natural law"...

Can this lead to hate? Sure, but so can having different color skin, a different IQ, a different accent or a different view on abortion. The moral law remains the same. But that doesn't mean that people will follow it.

And no, I don't think the Catholic church has NEVER been wrong, but I think they have been right more often than not, and of all the religions out there, I think they have gotten it right the most.

People will and do however take that and twist it, lording it over others and forcing their view on them. Does this make the churches morality wrong? NO! It makes the people who twist it wrong. Which has most definitely happened in the past. But like physics, the people have misused the law. The law has not misused the people.

As for laws when the natural law is not clear. There is a black and white right and wrong. But that doesn't mean that lawmakers will see it. Yes, abortion was turned over to the courts, but they came down on the wrong side of natural law. Just like they did with slavery. And the way they got that law enacted was deceitful. They used a woman, manipulated her and the courts to get what they wanted. While people disagree on the morality of abortion, they mostly agree that the way Roe V Wade went down, was not right. It was bad law. There was no real debate. There was an agenda. Even pro choice lawyers agree.

Turning it over to the courts is not a guarantee that morality will be served, but it's all we have in times of disagreement. Give unto Caeser and all that. We were talking about torture on a different thread. By law, it's okay. But we know that morally it is most definitely NOT okay...

Which is a perfect example of objective morality. The law says it's okay to torture someone, but you and I innately KNOW that it's wrong. Why? How do we KNOW this? Why is it that no amount of lawmaking will convince you or I that torture is a good thing? How can this be, if there is not objective morality. Why wouldn't we go with the "law", if it's subjective. Why does it stir our conscience?

Why does it stir your conscience when animals are mistreated? If the law said it was okay, why do you still recoil at the idea?

Posted by: mk at May 5, 2008 6:07 AM


Amanda replied

Rather than getting angry and getting sucked in to it, from now on I'm just going to ignore the people who choose to do that, and stick with the people who are confident enough in their opinions that they can have an intellectual conversation without being condescending and rude.

We're objective beings - our behaviors, how we treat each other is of moral concern. I can't reach across the ether and steal Edyt's stereo or computer, but I can guarantee that if I could, morality would become less of thing of the mind, less subjective and much more objective for her!

So I hit Edyt with a insult to make a similar point in writing - thus making her an "object". You're making the assumption about me and my character that I'm immature and I'm not doing that particular thing on purpose, but simply antagonizing her. At first, she was insulted, but then she came back with a really good question at 6:19 PM.

Given the discussion which followed, it's apparent the object lesson worked, though I wasn't aware that MK would take it and run with it!

Edyt has been asking great questions and MK has been responding brilliantly.

BTW - the burden of proof that morality is subjective lays upon those who make that claim. I'm still waiting for their proof. How can they possibly show me that if morality is and idea only within their minds! ;-)

Have fun!

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at May 5, 2008 7:51 AM


MK and Edyt,

I would like to commend both of you on the great convo.! I've been reading most of the comments between you two and I've read a lot that has made me think! Seems proof-positive that the most productive convos and the ones we learn the most from are the ones that involve respect for other people! Some people should take some lessons from you two, in fact we all could!

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 5, 2008 9:20 AM


Thanks you guys.

I've been trying for over a year now to get everyone to realize that people on the pro choice side are just that...PEOPLE on the pro choice side. Not monsters, not the enemy. Abortion is an enemy, but the people that are pro choice are good people with a bad idea.

I do now, and have from the beginning looked at everyone, and I do mean everyone here on Jills as my "family"...I try to get to know each and every person, and meet them where they are.

My goal is to changes hearts and minds, yes, but not at the price of "hating" the opposition.

I keep saying, Jesus INVITED us to follow Him. He didn't coerce us, brow beat us, attack us, or guilt us into loving Him.

I pray that people look at who I am and say "I want a piece of that", not "Dear God, don't let me be like them"...

If we were talking about a different topic, I might be the one on the "other side", I might be the one that everyone could point to and say, "You're Wrong!!!!" I would certainly want them to be understanding and kind, not judgmental or cruel.

Yes, this is a pro life website, but that is not a reason to "Lord it over the other side", rather the burden of respect falls on US. These are our guests and should be treated as such.

Which is why I was kind of put off when Edyt said I allow the pro lifers to get away with more than the pro choicers. I think the pro lifers on here would disagree vehemently. I can't tell you how many pro lifers I have called to task both on site and off. But as the site grows, it gets more and more difficult to control the tone and path that the conversations take. Sometimes I just watch and learn...try not to step in and see if everyone can work it out for themselves.

Usually they do. Other than that, all we can do is lead by example.

For the record Chris, I knew that you weren't attacking Edyt, just "leading" her...

We often talk about loving both the mother and the unborn child, but we rarely talk about loving non-abortive pro choicers. But love is the only thing that will work.

Posted by: mk at May 5, 2008 10:00 AM


mk and edyt:

Compliments! You are leading a good theoretical, reasoned discussion.

Unfortunately, coming into this discussion late, but find it interesting. Much of your (and C.A's) differences seem to be caused by semantic differences, or what is sometimes called the logical fallacy of ambiguity - in this case using technical philosophical terms in both their technical and colloquial meanings.

This poster can assist with a few points to clarify, if you are interested in having someone with a bit of experience join in.

For example: it would help greatly if you had definitions of the moral stances - there are more than just objectivism and subjectivism.

ANd cultural versus ethical relativism are not the same thing.

Posted by: phylosopher at May 5, 2008 11:18 AM


Phy,

Absolutely! Jump in! I know nothing about philosophy as an art, but am willing to learn.

I see what you mean about cultural vs ethical. Please, put the whole conversation into a correct format, and let's go from there...

Posted by: mk at May 5, 2008 11:25 AM


Why do I feel another 4000 post coming on...lol

Posted by: mk at May 5, 2008 11:26 AM


Please, that's outside time constraints, but to start:

In addition to objectivists and relativist: Skeptic - moral priciples either don't exist or humans don't have the ability to recognize them; subjectivist - moral principles exist, but apply only to oneself, conventionalist - moral principles exist, but are culturally derived and applicable only interculturally - this was the argument about the kidnap victim answer is definitional about culture - is it a place, or a state of mind?; subjectivism and objectivism can be grouped under ethical relativism. Objectivist - moral principles exist and are universal, but they can at times conflict, when they do, it is a matter of prioritzation - thus at times, one can go against a moral principle and still be morally right; absolutist - moral principles are universal and it is always wrong to violate a moral principle.

Objective is also used in the sense of "from the outside," from a neutral position, not biased by one's one subjective experiences.

They are not completely unrelated; for example the moral stance of objectivism does include that the moral principle is not relative to one's culture, but it also offers a resolution for conflicting principles.

That's a very dry primer on the definitions, so try some applicaiton of it to the discusison above.

Posted by: phylosopher at May 5, 2008 12:06 PM


Edyt, MK, PHylosopher,

Keep it up, guys! Edyt, your questions are profound and very much needed for the interntet world to see, especially when we have so many college students watching.

I expect John McD and The Kid to pop in anytime.

Course, Doug will have his twelve cents.

Are conversations like this existent with Ms. Marcotte?

Posted by: carder at May 5, 2008 12:13 PM


Edyt: 7:48: PMJanet, you brought up another question I was going to ask... one referring to education. In your post, it seems clear that one must be educated down the right moral path.

However, physics (to keep with the universal thread) does not need education to continue working the same way, whereas morals seem to require quite a bit of "don't do this" and "do that" to function.

In other words, we don't need to understand physics for gravity to keep working, but we need to understand morality to go down the "right path."

So what if you never learned an iota of moral fiber in your life? Will the "right" decision still be in your heart, like gravity will continue to pull even if you never learned the theory?

Edyt, Life is complicated, isn't it? No, I don't think we all "have it in our heart" to automatically do the right thing". I am copying and pasting another section from the Catholicism of the Catholic Church because it's the most thorough source I know. I hope this helps. If you are interested in reading the whole chapter, which I would recommend since you like to know all the little details (that's good!), you can find it at http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm

CHAPTER ONE: THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
PART THREE, LIFE IN CHRIST
SECTION ONE, MAN'S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
CHAPTER ONE, THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
ARTICLE 6, MORAL CONSCIENCE
IV. ERRONEOUS JUDGMENT

1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.

1794 A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time "from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith."60

Posted by: Janet at May 5, 2008 12:14 PM


Phylo,

Sorry, but I thnk I need a primer on the primer!

Posted by: carder at May 5, 2008 12:15 PM


Edyt: The link I gave you above was for the complete Table of Contents of the Catechism:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm

Here is the link for the the article I cited:
ARTICLE 6, MORAL CONSCIENCE
IV. ERRONEOUS JUDGMENT
http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a6.htm#I

Posted by: Janet at May 5, 2008 12:22 PM


I have no problem with a 4,000 post when it's like THIS.

MK,

When I grow up, I want to be just like you.

hehehe.

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 5, 2008 12:57 PM


@carder:

Yes, these types of discussions are on pandagon and some other blogs - huffpo, slate, and salon perhaps- but not in this form. However, and this isn't intended as an insult, but you asked -writers on those blogs tend to be college educated. Their posts reflect that, and it becomes sort of a shorthand - they don't need to be this explicit - just like those who play a game don't need to reread the rules every time they play. If it's any consolation, the Friday post about new music could use a primer!

What I've written is pretty much ethics 101 - covered in all decent college intros to ethics. But it doesn't translate that well to posts. Let me try again, with an example.

Let's say you're standing in a grocery store line and someone cuts in front of you.

You say - That's not fair - fairness is the moral principle that shouldn't be violated. It gets applied in rules like don't cut, wait your turn, etc.
Imagine that the person who cuts has the moral stance of:

A skeptic, who responds - how do you know that fairness is right - there may not be any such thing as moral principles - and even if there are, we're just humans, we really can't know what's right or wrong.

A subjectivist who says, look, moral principles are a way of acting or a set of rules that each person develops for themselves. Personally, I don't have a moral principle of fairness. I subscribe to "each man for himself."

A conventionalist might answer (many possible examples, so I'll give just one)(insert desired foreign accent): There is no such thing as fairness where I come from. In my society it's each man for him/herself. That's how I was brought up. You may have been learned differently, but that's your culture - and why should your culture's rules be any more respected than my cultures.

An absolutist could say something like - true, it's wrong to cut in line - fairness is a moral principal, but so is being honest. My spouse is waiting in the car and I said I'd only be a minute -if I don't cut, I'll be a liar, because I'll have taken 5 minutes. Yes it's morally wrong to cut, and it's morally wrong to lie.

An objectivist could reply as the absolutist does, but add, both those are moral principles, and I'll have to choose (prioritize) which one applies here, which one is more important, which one is morally right?

Does this help?

Posted by: phylosopher at May 5, 2008 12:58 PM


PHY,

That last one was right on...
It's what I was saying to Edyt about recycling, right? Both are moral wrongs, but we need to prioritize them.

I realize it's a little different in that they aren't connected to each other as in your example, but still, we need to decide which moral priniciples are most important and start there. Then work towards less important ones.

Tho, in a perfect world, they would ALL be important.

And you're right. My education ended in the 12th grade. I'm fairly intelligent, but uneducated, so I get the ideas, but am lacking the language.

Okay,
So, I guess that would make me an absolutist? I do tend to see the basics in black and white, and I believe that the rest have a moral answer, if we ask the right questions.

Which is why I trust the Catholic church. I have never read an explanation for a moral truth from her, that I don't totally agree with. Sometimes I've had to do some deep reading to understand the "why" of it, but I always come out on the same side.

So, what do you think? Are there objective moral principles in your opinion? What are they?

Posted by: mk at May 5, 2008 3:01 PM


Okay,
So looking at your fairness example, I can already point out where I think the "black and white" principal comes into play.

You told your wife you'd be out in a minute. You fully intended to be out in a minute. Circumstances are keeping you from being out in a minute.

You didn't actually lie. You just didn't foresee the long line. Your "intention" was truthful.

While it may not seem "fair" to your wife, that she has to wait longer than a minute, that can't be helped. It still doesn't mean that you can deliberately commit another wrong, in order to make the first wrong right. Which is another moral principle, no? Two wrongs don't make a right? Two negatives don't make a positive.

Posted by: mk at May 5, 2008 3:05 PM


Chris: the burden of proof that morality is subjective lays upon those who make that claim. I'm still waiting for their proof. How can they possibly show me that if morality is and idea only within their minds!

Because this is all us individuals having our say, and indeed any moral idea is that, as well, it's the opinions of individuals, groups, etc.

It's ideas of what is wanted and what is unwanted, it all goes to desire. Were there not "somebody," some conscious entity caring, one way or another, there would be no such thing as morality.

It's internal to the mind, not external to it, subjective by definition.

Posted by: Doug at May 5, 2008 9:54 PM


Doug,

But you see, if there is a God and He is eternal, always was and always will be, then there is a concsious entity caring...hence, morality is objective. God being the final, absolute word.

Posted by: mk at May 6, 2008 6:24 AM


MK 6:24 AM: Except... some people don't believe in God. Or the Christian God. Or the God that certain people have defined him to be. And since this all-powerful being isn't really communicating with anyone on earth, it's been the responsibility of humans to decipher what he really wants. How do we really know that we're doing what he wants?

And if there truly is no god whatsoever, is morality still objective?

Posted by: Edyt at May 6, 2008 10:31 AM


Edyt:

In my opinion, God is there even when people don't realize it. If one doesn't believe in God's Law, there is always Natural Law to fall back on,

You might enjoy a book I've been reading called "Common Sense 101": (of course, you know not to take the title personally:)

Common Sense 101
ISBN: 9781586171391
Author: Dale Ahlquist

Dale Ahlquist, the President of the American Chesterton Society, and author of G. K. Chesterton -The Apostle of Common Sense, presents a book of wonderful insights on how to "look at the whole world through the eyes of Chesterton". Since, as he says, "Chesterton wrote about everything", there is an ocean of his material to benefit from GKC's insights on a kaleidoscope of many important topics.
Chesterton wrote a hundred books on a variety of themes, thousands of essays for London newspapers, penned epic poetry, delighted in detective fiction, drew illustrations, and made everyone laugh by his keen humor. Everyone who knew Chesterton loved him, even those he debated with. His unique writing style that combines philosophy, spirituality, history, humor, and paradox have made him one of the most widely read authors of modern times.

As Ahlquist shows in his engaging volume, this most quoted writer of the 20th century has much to share with us on topics covering politics, art, education, wonder, marriage, fads, poetry, faith, charity and much more.

ďAhlquist proves that Chesteronís commentaries and views on the continuing dehumanization of man, the so-called social sciences, the totalitarian ideologies and the intellectual fashions of his day continue to be relevant in our own age.Ē

óGeorge J. Marlin, Editor, Collected Works of Chesterton

Happy reading!

Posted by: Janet at May 6, 2008 7:54 PM


Edyt:

How do we know what God really wants? Prayer, study the bible, the Catechism, and more prayer. Ask God to help you know His will for you.

Posted by: Janet at May 6, 2008 7:57 PM


Edyt: More on G.K. Chesterton, the author above:

http://www.chesterton.org/discover/who.html

Very interesting stuff!

Posted by: Janet at May 6, 2008 8:01 PM


MK, in response to your 6:07 a.m. post: I guess I could go so far as to agree thereís a basic moral law that most everyone abides by Ö but itís stretching it to assume things like recycling or homosexuality or sharing are items that should be on the list.

What I was trying to say about animals was not about killing them for food or killing them for sport. It was about the fact that we, in order to feed our ever-growing population, have exterminated and driven other species to the point of death. Even animals we donít use for food. Thatís where I can say things like homosexuality are not only not an aberration, but are a necessity to keep our population from further damaging the rest of the planet. Does that make sense? Homosexuality, in some ways is natural law saying ďplease donít reproduce anymore, youíre straining our resources.Ē I could say the same thing for any number of diseases or natural disasters Ė cancer included Ė that they exist to limit our population. Our technology has beaten many of those dangers though. (Should it have?)

I donít think thereís anything wrong with raising cattle for food or growing vegetables, but the fact that we have to destroy so many other species (by using pesticides, killing ďverminĒ and hunting the predators that would also compete to eat the same food we do) to do so seems inherently immoral to me. Iím quite frankly surprised that there is no moral law against such a thing that is so deadly.

If a four year old was raised in an environment where he or she could decide what is right and wrong, would he or she innately know that abortion, cow slaughter, abuse, and war is wrong?

Believe it or not, but children learn a LOT in those short four years. One of those being that harming others is wrong. Children who donít get such a clear message (who grow up in abusive households for instance) may not feel the same way. Iíd love to know that they innately know right from wrong, but I would have to see that proven outside of a circumstance where their parents are telling them whatís right and wrong.

Which is a perfect example of objective morality. The law says it's okay to torture someone, but you and I innately KNOW that it's wrong. Why? How do we KNOW this? Why is it that no amount of lawmaking will convince you or I that torture is a good thing? How can this be, if there is not objective morality. Why wouldn't we go with the "law", if it's subjective. Why does it stir our conscience? Why does it stir your conscience when animals are mistreated? If the law said it was okay, why do you still recoil at the idea?

Social conditioning. When I was little, my mom said hitting people was wrong. Still today, I think hitting people is wrong. (In fact, Iím really conflicted about the death penalty because of this whole right/wrong thing) In our culture we have been taught that abuse and torture is wrong, for animals and people. I canít say I would have come to those conclusions on my own though, if I had never been taught that way. Thatís what I mean when I say moral relativism. If people would naturally incline toward a certain kind of morality without anyone ever having to teach that morality, I might believe in moral objectivity. So far, Iíve noticed that morals vary as widely as religion does Ö and that leads me to the conclusion that based upon where you grow up and what you are taught, you will have a certain mindset about morality.

For example, even though Iím an atheist, I realize many of my moral principles are those I gained from Christianity. Since this debate started, Iíve been trying to seek out the root of my morals and find out whether theyíre rational or not, and if they would be rational in a completely different society.

I think that we can agree on some basic overall moral lawsÖ but they are few and far between, and I believe thereís a LOT of gray area in between.

Posted by: Edyt at May 6, 2008 9:26 PM


Phylosopher, thanks for butting in when you did. I took some logic and philosophy classes in college and didn't even think that those explanations of the language might help understanding along! (Sorry guys, my fault if I was unclear)

I actually think this may have been one of the principle misunderstandings with Chris.

Chris, when I say moral relativism, I don't mean to imply that everyone should follow their own moral code. What I mean is that based on the fact that morality varies between cultures and people, there probably is not an absolute guide to morality that is above and beyond humans. In my view, morality seems to have been contrived internally, like Doug mentioned, whereas objectivity is something that is external and not affected by our own personal biases.

I'm not arguing against morality in any way. I think it's absolutely necessary for a functioning society to exist! But... I do think some moral issues can be debated (like the death penalty and homosexuality). I think that's the main difference between my thoughts and MK's -- she seems to see things in a very black and white manner, and I think some issues are black, some are white, some are gray and can be debated until the cows come home!

Does that make sense? I hope I didn't come across like I don't want morality to exist at all, but now that I read Phy's post, I can imagine it may have seemed that way. Sorry about that.

Posted by: Edyt at May 6, 2008 9:35 PM


Two negatives don't make a positive.

Unless you're multiplying or dividing. ;)

Posted by: Edyt at May 6, 2008 9:38 PM


Janet, you know I'm an atheist! :P I like to bring God into debates as a hypothetical.

I usually fall back on natural law and logic. I can't see any logical or natural reason to disapprove of homosexuality (something being unnatural doesn't mean it's bad -- certainly children born with disabilities are not "natural" but we shouldn't deny them the kingdom of heaven or anything like that) so I don't.

I will check out that book though, next time I'm at the bookstore or library. Chesterton sounds like quite an interesting fellow!

Posted by: Edyt at May 6, 2008 9:42 PM


"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."

- G.K. Chesterton.

LOL! I like him already.

Posted by: Edyt at May 6, 2008 10:00 PM


Edyt: Chris, when I say moral relativism, I don't mean to imply that everyone should follow their own moral code. What I mean is that based on the fact that morality varies between cultures and people, there probably is not an absolute guide to morality that is above and beyond humans. In my view, morality seems to have been contrived internally, like Doug mentioned, whereas objectivity is something that is external and not affected by our own personal biases.

Social conditioning. When I was little, my mom said hitting people was wrong. Still today, I think hitting people is wrong. (In fact, Iím really conflicted about the death penalty because of this whole right/wrong thing) In our culture we have been taught that abuse and torture is wrong, for animals and people. I canít say I would have come to those conclusions on my own though, if I had never been taught that way. Thatís what I mean when I say moral relativism.

Janet, you know I'm an atheist! :P I like to bring God into debates as a hypothetical.

You are wise to do that (bring God in, hypothetically) too! I know you are an atheist, Edyt, but its almost impossible to talk about morality without the assumption that there is some higher power. It's natural growing up in a Christian household, to have internalized some of Christian thought.

I find this fascinating. A few things to think about...I don't think the fact that morality varies by people and cultures is a reason to not believe in an objective morality. I'm sure you've heard of objective reasoning. Going from point a to point b, from one truth, finding a new truth. It's all about finding truth. Once we find truth, we internalize it. You have probably heard people say that you don't truly understand something until it's been internalized. I think Doug has it backwards. He thinks objectivity is external and he has no use for (actually denies the existence of) internal truths. Personal bias is Doug's explanation of what a rational (reasoning) person calls truth. This is why everything to Doug is relative. He has not internalized any truth.

If people would naturally incline toward a certain kind of morality without anyone ever having to teach that morality, I might believe in moral objectivity. So far, Iíve noticed that morals vary as widely as religion does Ö and that leads me to the conclusion that based upon where you grow up and what you are taught, you will have a certain mindset about morality.

I don't think the morality of world religions differs as much as you might think. Everyone believes in good and evil. Some are confused when it comes to applying these definitions to their real lives. Your mistake here may be thinking that man is inherently good, and does not need to be taught good and bad. There is enough evidence of evil in this world to disprove that notion quickly. Morals truth exists outside of us, and must be taught. We would have chaos if we held to the belief that we each held the objective truth inside of ourselves. This is why morality needs to be taught. And this is where conscience comes into play. If an adult does not have a well-formed conscience (is not taught right from wrong) , he will not recognize the difference between moral truth and opinion (or moral relativism).

Your example above (hitting people is wrong) is an example of your Mom teaching you right from wrong, which is a moral truth. Just because all moms do not teach hitting is wrong doesn't change the moral objectivity of the act. And just because you may not have come to the conclusion yourself does not take away the moral objectivity of the act of hitting. This is why bullying is a huge problem in our schools today. (Some adults haven't learned the lesson either.)

That's a start. I hope it made some sense!

Posted by: Janet at May 7, 2008 6:39 AM


MK 6:24 AM: said: Except... some people don't believe in God. Or the Christian God. Or the God that certain people have defined him to be. And since this all-powerful being isn't really communicating with anyone on earth, it's been the responsibility of humans to decipher what he really wants. How do we really know that we're doing what he wants?

Edyt: 6:24 said:And if there truly is no god whatsoever, is morality still objective?

Edyt: 9:43 said: Janet, you know I'm an atheist! :P I like to bring God into debates as a hypothetical.

Oops! I misread the post and thought it was you who was asking "how do we know what God really wants". (Well, now you know - pray:)


Posted by: Janet at May 7, 2008 10:14 AM


Oooh! I see, I misunderstood what you were replying to! Sorry about that.

Going on with that train of thought though... how do you explain people who seem to know what God wants, or somehow got direction from him, yet it's utterly wrong? (Serial killers, for example, have often said God told them to do it. From a Christian perspective, that voice was more likely Satan, yet how does one tell the difference?)

Posted by: Edyt at May 7, 2008 2:17 PM


Doug, But you see, if there is a God and He is eternal, always was and always will be, then there is a concsious entity caring...hence, morality is objective. God being the final, absolute word.

MK, I've never ruled out "higher" beings than us earthly humans, because, yes, they too could have their opinions.

Of course, there's no proof of such, and that's an enormous "if" you bring up, like any number of "ifs."

Posted by: Doug at May 7, 2008 11:03 PM


Janet: I know you are an atheist, Edyt, but its almost impossible to talk about morality without the assumption that there is some higher power. It's natural growing up in a Christian household, to have internalized some of Christian thought.

Janet, certainly - natural to internalize some of it, sure. But in no way does the lack of a "higher power" mean that we can't talk about morality. People have plenty of moral feelings and thoughts....
......

I find this fascinating. A few things to think about...I don't think the fact that morality varies by people and cultures is a reason to not believe in an objective morality. I'm sure you've heard of objective reasoning. Going from point a to point b, from one truth, finding a new truth. It's all about finding truth. Once we find truth, we internalize it. You have probably heard people say that you don't truly understand something until it's been internalized.

Or, some of us just state our unprovable beliefs as if they are external to us, which is false. Morality comes from within the beholder, regardless of anything he or she may ascribe it to. That we pick up stuff from our parents, peers, teachers, etc., is undeniable, but it's still a phenomenon of the mind, not anything external to it.
......

I think Doug has it backwards. He thinks objectivity is external and he has no use for (actually denies the existence of) internal truths. Personal bias is Doug's explanation of what a rational (reasoning) person calls truth. This is why everything to Doug is relative. He has not internalized any truth.

Oh good grief, no, no, no. We have our internal truths, no question about it. The point is that they are subjective, as opposed to external things. Not "everything" is relative to me - that's you simply mischaracterizing things. Of course there is that which is external to us - things of physical reality, matters of logic, other people's opinions, etc.

Posted by: Doug at May 7, 2008 11:11 PM


Edyt:2:17:Going on with that train of thought though... how do you explain people who seem to know what God wants, or somehow got direction from him, yet it's utterly wrong? (Serial killers, for example, have often said God told them to do it. From a Christian perspective, that voice was more likely Satan, yet how does one tell the difference?)

You ask some good questions! I think a psychologist would be better qualified than me to answer the one the serial killer. There may be some mental problems, obviously. God would never ask someone to do anything evil, so if someone says "God told me to do it" and it was evil, we know it didn't really come from God. God is love.

Posted by: Janet at May 7, 2008 11:21 PM


Doug, 11:11:

You aren't internalizing what I'm saying in my post to Edyt. I think I was pretty clear, but your position hasn't changed a bit in nine months I've been posting.

Try re-reading it. Any "aha" moments or are they all "ha ha" moments, if you know what I mean?

I suggest you read the book I recommended to Edyt at 7:54: Common Sense 101. It's by Dale Alquist on the writings of G.K. Chesterton, a very interesting guy. Then maybe we can talk again on.

One question, why do you consider logic something external? It's in your brain after all! It's INTERNAL. Hey, maybe your problem understanding me is that your logic has gone off wandering somewhere! (just kidding!) :)

Keep thinking about "truth" and "rational thinking". The aim of rational thinking is to get to the truth. Objective truth is the same no matter where you grew up or what schools you went to, or what religion you follow or don't follow. Learning is about discerning the truth. We don't go to school to learn falsehoods. We don't go through life trying to do the "wrong thing", we want to do the right thing if we are concerned about doing what is best for the world. Truth is always a "good".

Opinions are left for the minor decisions of life. What color car should I buy? What is my favorite meal? Those decision use subjective reasoning. It depends on my feelings...


If every decision you make ignores any morally objective truth, then you are living as a moral relativist.

For example, you say "I am going to steal my brother's new car", you are ignoring the morally objective truth that stealing is wrong. Acting, making decisions, according to what you want, with no regard with what your brother wants is acting in a morally relativistic way. Moral relativism is "wishy-washy - anything goes". Often times it ignores the TRUTH.

Does that clarify anything?

Posted by: Janet at May 7, 2008 11:51 PM


God would never ask someone to do anything evil, so if someone says "God told me to do it" and it was evil, we know it didn't really come from God. God is love.

But then you have to define what is evil.

Say you feel you have a message from God to accept homosexuals and love them and not believe they are immoral or sinners.

According to your teachings, acting on homosexual urges is wrong, so you believe homosexuals are sinners.

Do you go with the message you felt came from God or do you ignore it and go with what you believe others in the church have "heard" from God?

Posted by: Edyt at May 8, 2008 12:11 AM


One question, why do you consider logic something external? It's in your brain after all! It's INTERNAL. Hey, maybe your problem understanding me is that your logic has gone off wandering somewhere!

I consider logic external (lots of people don't have a good internal logical sense! haha) because I look at logic like a math problem with words.

That could be because I took a logic class though, so I look at logic in a rather academic way, not the way some people think of it. The thing with logic is that it doesn't work if the premises are off, which is why some people try to say it is "logical" when their premises are just flat out ridiculous.

Anyway, I think of logic like I think of math, and because of that, math is something that is external. No matter how you put it, 2+2=4. You can't interchange 2 with 8 and pretend 2+2=16. Math is external, but our understanding of it is internal. That's how I look at logic. Logic is external, our understanding is internal.

Keep thinking about "truth" and "rational thinking". The aim of rational thinking is to get to the truth. Objective truth is the same no matter where you grew up or what schools you went to, or what religion you follow or don't follow.

Not really. If it was, why do we think war is okay? It's killing hundreds and thousands of people, yet we say "we had a good reason to do so" and give MEDALS to people who are responsible for killing others!

If the objective truth was that "killing is wrong" we would never want to go to war. We would never support a war. We would never find war justified.

Learning is about discerning the truth. We don't go to school to learn falsehoods. We don't go through life trying to do the "wrong thing", we want to do the right thing if we are concerned about doing what is best for the world. Truth is always a "good".

I don't like using the word "truth" since I've seen it misused so much here. Is it good to lie to someone if it will save a life? According to objective morality, lying is wrong. But saving a life is good. You could prioritize and try to save a life, but that doesn't take away the fact that you did wrong by lying.

I agree, most people do want to do the right thing. But it may not always be a "good" thing and it may not always involve the truth.

If every decision you make ignores any morally objective truth, then you are living as a moral relativist.

For example, you say "I am going to steal my brother's new car", you are ignoring the morally objective truth that stealing is wrong. Acting, making decisions, according to what you want, with no regard with what your brother wants is acting in a morally relativistic way. Moral relativism is "wishy-washy - anything goes". Often times it ignores the TRUTH.

But like I've said several times before, there could be (and have been) cultures where property is universally owned. Taking your brothers new car is not considered wrong. Moral relativism does not try to say "anything goes" or "pick and choose which morals you want to go with" ... it is simply saying, morals are different depending on the culture. In this culture, I believe stealing is morally wrong and therefore will not steal. I'm abiding by my culture's moral decisions, but I don't necessarily believe those morals will be the same everywhere.

Again, moral relativists don't believe "anything goes." They just can't see the proof of an objective moral system that is universal and applicable to all people.

If some guy is running around my neighborhood killing a bunch of people, and I have the power to press a button and kill him on the spot, I will do so, even if that is morally wrong on my part. But in this circumstance, I'm working for the good of the community and trying to prevent more harm.

A moral objectivist would not press the button because the "do not kill" morality is outside of him or her.

Posted by: Edyt at May 8, 2008 12:28 AM


Edyt:

I don't like using the word "truth" since I've seen it misused so much here.

If you want to understand the idea of TRUTH, you should read the Doctors of the Catholic Church, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Women and men much more learned than I have spent centuries trying to answer the question "What is Truth?"

Try to read these bodies of work on a personal level, not as a journalist writing a story. Allow yourself to feel some bias as you read and I think you'll understand better, if that makes sense. (No offense meant to you as a "journalist".)


Posted by: Janet at May 8, 2008 11:27 AM


Link to the Catechism:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm

Posted by: Janet at May 8, 2008 11:40 AM


Janet said: Edyt: For example, you say "I am going to steal my brother's new car", you are ignoring the morally objective truth that stealing is wrong. Acting, making decisions, according to what you want, with no regard with what your brother wants is acting in a morally relativistic way. Moral relativism is "wishy-washy - anything goes". Often times it ignores the TRUTH.

Edyt said: But like I've said several times before, there could be (and have been) cultures where property is universally owned. Taking your brothers new car is not considered wrong. Moral relativism does not try to say "anything goes" or "pick and choose which morals you want to go with" ... it is simply saying, morals are different depending on the culture. In this culture, I believe stealing is morally wrong and therefore will not steal. I'm abiding by my culture's moral decisions, but I don't necessarily believe those morals will be the same everywhere.

Again, moral relativists don't believe "anything goes." They just can't see the proof of an objective moral system that is universal and applicable to all people

Can you give me a source of this definition of moral relativism ? Basically you are saying that your system of moral relativism is truth, whether you realize it or not, by saying my ideas about moral objectivism and truth is NOT correct.


THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH REQUIRES WE LIVE IT

Truth is the state or quality of being true. The word true is derived from the Sanskrit word dhru meaning to be fixed. As metaphysicians, we seek to know and live by Truth that is Universal, being applicable to and throughout creation.

Universal Truth is the epitome of truth. The Greek philosopher Plato said, "Truth is the beginning of every good thing, both in heaven and on earth; and he who would be blessed and happy should be from the first a partaker of truth, for then he can be trusted." It is the responsibility of each spiritual aspirant to expand his or her thinking beyond the limits of the physical self; to commune with his Creator. This Truth is timeless, extending throughout the ages. This Truth is not found in transient judgement of opinion which, being rooted in individual physical experience, is temporal and constantly changing. For centuries mankind believed that the earth was the center of the universe. When Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus presented his radical theory in the early 1500's that the sun was the center of our universe, he was reviled, ridiculed, and excommunicated from the predominant religious faith of his time and area, the Catholic Church. Not until 1993, did the Church make attempts to reconcile its error by recanting the injustice toward Copernicus perpetuated by centuries by its refusal to expand its consciousness to include a new awareness of Truth.

When something is deemed to be true it is conformable to fact therefore free from falsehood. For Truth to be realized, the consciousness must transcend the boundaries of our finite existence to discern the fact of our spiritual existence. It is an egoic error in man's discriminating faculty to hold onto the erroneous belief that Truth changes. The reality is that man's belief changes allowing a revelation of Truth to occur in his consciousness. The spiritual aspirant embraces these transformations in his consciousness realizing each new grasp of Universal Truth enables him to cross the threshold of a spiritual revelation.

English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) said, "To love truth is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues." The Truth a metaphysician is asked to discern is that which exists beyond physical existence. "Great truth and mighty above all things," states the Bible. When the mind is well acquainted with and filled by what is true, that "truth will set you free." In the 6th century B.C. the great Eastern master Confucius said, "They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it." One who delights in truth manifests the qualities of being true: genuineness, faithfulness, honesty, exactness, correctness, and righteousness. He is legitimate; firm or steady in adhering to promises. He is worthy of trust."

Delight in 1994 - The Year of Truth by actively seeking the revelation of Universal Truth in your daily life. Graciously receive Truth from others and be generous in giving Truth to others; for it is in the giving and receiving of Universal Truth that mankind progresses and you come into your own greatness.

Dr. Barbara Condron
©1994 Vol. 12 No. 2

Posted by: Janet at May 8, 2008 12:34 PM


Note to the above post 12:34: This is not from a Catholic source, as my previous sources are. That said, it gives another interesting perspective on "Universal Truth".

Posted by: Janet at May 8, 2008 2:00 PM


Can you give me a source of this definition of moral relativism ? Basically you are saying that your system of moral relativism is truth, whether you realize it or not, by saying my ideas about moral objectivism and truth is NOT correct.

Again, I'm struggling with the word truth here.

This system may be "truth" to us here, but it will not be for everyone in any cultural system.

Another good example of relativism is the idea of the man as a leader, where it is immoral for a woman to try to become head of household or dominate over her husband.

In some cultures (matriarchy) this is not the case -- women are the dominant or at least equal partner in all aspects of life. According to religious dogma, that's wrong (and has been used to keep women oppressed for years).

Am I going to agree with that system of oppression? Hell no. But that may and in fact has been the case for many different cultures. It is their "truth" so to say.

Nevertheless, I cannot accept that it is the ultimate truth, but then again I don't know if there IS an ultimate truth.

Posted by: Edyt at May 8, 2008 2:22 PM


Edyt: I am at a loss on how to explain it any other way than I have. Our perspectives are 180 degrees apart.

Posted by: Janet at May 8, 2008 7:23 PM


Janet, that's okay, at least we understand each other's perspectives now. :)

Posted by: Edyt at May 8, 2008 10:53 PM


Edyt: I think you are confusing the ideas of morality and social mores in some instances.

Morality is one component of social mores of a society. One might argue that the variations of social mores (customs) from one society to the next might be greater than the variations of morals.

Moral Relativism applies to morals, not social mores, in my opinion.

Posted by: Janet at May 10, 2008 2:02 AM