SilverWingedSeraph wrote:Morality is subjective, this is not something I argue against. It's subjective in that it is a product of human minds, applicable only to humans, and a product of societal pressures. It does have a purpose. This purpose is easily determined by comparing most moral codes. Its purpose is to create a stable society, through socially imposed rules of conduct. It's a form of group coercion.
I'm uncomfortable with talking about the purpose of morality. And I'm uncomfortable with the idea that morality's purpose is to create a stable society. But for now, lets say I agree with you; morality's purpose is to create a stable society.
But society is a term that encompasses many forms of social organisation.
Are we talking about cities? Urban civilisation as we know it and recognise is less than 10,000 years. I may be wrong on that. What about tribes and families, which was how we lived for the majority of our history as a species, even after the rise of cities? A morality that maximises the benefit to a single family or in-group can work against the health of other people. For example, stealing will hurt other people, but help your kin. Supposedly
the Roma people have this sort of morality.
So I'd like to know what you precisely mean by society here.
SilverWingedSeraph wrote:So yes, it is subjective. Because the human experience is subjective. But there are some subjective experiences that are more or less universal among our species. Almost every human wants to continue living, so while murder is only subjectively harmful, allowing that subjective negative is detrimental to a stable society.
There seems to be a bit of a logical jump in that last sentence.
If I replaced the word murder in your statement with killing, would you still endorse it?
Almost every human wants to continue living, so while killing is only subjectively harmful, allowing that subjective negative is detrimental to a stable society.
Almost everyone would agree that the above statement is wrong, and that killing can
be a positive step towards a stable society. Killing in self defense is considered okay. The death penalty is considered okay in many places. Soldiers killing other soldiers is considered okay.
Murder is a particular type of killing that has been determined unlawful. But what has been called unlawful may or may not be actually harmful to social stability. Lots of countries ban pornography, but the claim that porn damages society is a sketchy one. And so I think you have to at least entertain the thought that certain forms of killing that have been called murder could be good for social stability. Honour killing may actually
contribute to a stable society in the Middle East. If that was the case, would that make honour killing moral in your eyes?
You may dispute that claim. What about abortion? If abortion was made unlawful and now counted as murder, but it benefitted society in some way, would it be wrong in your eyes to murder?
SilverWingedSeraph wrote:Example: Child rape, something you've said cannot be called morally wrong. Children are incapable of offering consent, for one, because consent requires the capacity to understand the consequence of the choice you're making. Almost every person wants to be able to make choices for themselves, the inability to do so causes subjective but very real emotional problems in humans, causing harm, which is undesirable. The ability to make choices about things that are going to be done to you is something that is almost a universal trait among humans. Removing the ability for a group to make decisions has historically caused civil and violent unrest, obviously a detriment to human society. Furthermore, violent rape can cause both psychological and physical trauma, which are both subjective (product of human experience), but likewise, are almost universally considered undesirable states for humans. They are subjectively harmful to humans, and thus allowing them is harmful to human society, and morality is about protecting and maintaining human society.
I didn't say child rape can't be called morally wrong. Lots of people do call it morally wrong. But I think child rape can also be called morally right.
I think your example of why rape is morally wrong would fail to convince someone who doesn't care about the human society he is living in. For example, the Soviets have entered Germany. This is a foreign land, a foreign society. Many women are raped by roaming packs of soldiers. A Soviet soldier would not care that he is causing harm to German women and German society. He might even want to cause harm. If he said that morality is about protecting and maintaining my society, Russian society and that Germans don't enter into the equation, what could you say to him?
Where is the justification for thinking that society = all human societies everywhere?
SilverWingedSeraph wrote:So, that is how you determine the worth of forms of morality. You measure their ability to protect certain universal human DESIRES, that help keep a society stable; the desire to not be killed, the desire to not have choices forced upon you or taken away from you, the desire to be able to be intimate with someone you care about, etc. Some desires are more universal, or outweigh other desires, and this can be determined logically. The right to make choices for yourself obviously should not extend to the right to make significant choices that will cause subjective harm to others. i.e. if someone does not wish to have a limb cut off, their desire to maintain their bodily integrity trumps your desire to cut them up. It's a balancing act. It's not perfect, but their are metrics for determining what is good, what is bad, and what is worthless. Find me a single large, stable society with a morality system of might makes right, rape, murder, theft and child abuse, and you will prove me wrong.
I think it's mostly true that people want the same things and detest other things. People like pleasure and don't like pain. It may be the most fundamental aspect to our life, but it's also subjective. You can value pain over pleasure. You can value suicide over life. But I digress. Aside from pleasure = good, pain = bad, there's a crazy amount of variety in the way that human moralities are expressed.
You say way too easily that 'The right to make choices for yourself obviously should not extend to the right to make significant choices that will cause subjective harm to others'. I don't see how you can say that so easily. It's not obvious to me. Shouldn't you have to prove it? Many ancient societies were slave-owning societies. Why is slavery wrong? Why is the ancient Greek morality, which benefitted some members at the expense of others, which is in direct opposition to your 'obvious' reasoning, wrong? How could you convince a slave owner that they're wrong?