Re: MD Is Morality Relative?

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Wed Dec 01 2004 - 13:56:59 GMT

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    Hi Ham,

    > Back on 11/9, Sam Norton responded to Platt's RMP quotation suggesting that
    > it is wrong to use religious absolutes as a standard for morality. If we
    > are all in agreement about this, it means that MOQ holds to the view that
    > morality is relative. Here is Sam's original post, including the Prisig
    > quotation:

    > > Chin - thanks for an intriguing post, which quoted one of my favourite
    > lines from ZMM: "My personal
    > > feeling is that this is how any further improvement of the world will be
    > done: by individuals making
    > > Quality decisions and that's all."
    > >
    > > I think this is the answer to Platt's question: "What source of morality
    > should [the nation] rely on
    > > until the MOQ is as widely known and believed as religious moral
    > teaching?" and it lies behind what
    > > Platt quotes from RMP ""To put philosophy in the service of any social
    > organization or any dogma is
    > > immoral. It's a lower form of evolution trying to devour a higher one."
    > >
    > > In other words, the individual choosing Quality *cannot* be driven by any
    > coherent body of
    > > teaching - including the MoQ - the decision has to be autonomous, else
    > there is no DQ, therefore no
    > > 'further improvement'.

    If the MOQ champions individual autonomy, it appears the MOQ supports the
    basic thrust of Ayn Rand's "virtue of selfishness."

    > My own answer to Sam's parenthetical question is: Yes, it is not only
    > beyond but contrary to the MOQ to foster moral behavior. I say that
    > because I believe that man is autonomous in his ability to choose, and I
    > think Pirsig agrees. Any standard imposed on that Freedom is necessarily
    > conditional (i.e., relative), hence, opposed to the philosophy of
    > individual autonomy. (I leave the matter as to whether this "fosters" or
    > "generates" DQ to the MOQ arbitrators.). But most of those comprising what
    > has been termed the "moral right" -- and that would include Platt and
    > myself -- have at times expressed the view that society is doomed by the
    > concept of moral relativism. After considerable introspection on this
    > issue, I've come to the conclusion that imposing "absolutes" on moral
    > behavior is contrary to the inherent autonomy of man, and that, except for
    > the sanctity of individual sensibility (consciousness), the only
    > philosophically acceptable morality is relativistic.
    > I've even found support for moral relativity in the religious community.
    > You may find this thoughtful sermon by a Unitarian minister quite revealing
    > with respect to previous MOQ postings. I did. I've featured it on my
    > "Values in the Balance" page this week. Check it out at
    > . I'll be interested in your comments.
    I see a host of moral absolutes in the Unitarian minister's sermon, such

    -- moral decisions should "serve the good of humanity."

    -- a moral person has "a sense of relationship with all life and one

    -- we are "united as a species by heritage and a common future."

    -- morality must be based on "respect, care and love."

    -- "our sense of morality (is) an innate and inherited human trait."

    In other words, the minister admits to a set of absolute moral assumptions
    that belie his relativist message and contradicts his assertion that "the
    real danger to humanity is moral absolutism." (Note that a "danger to
    humanity" is based on a moral absolute: it's wrong to threaten humanity.)

    Whether the minister realizes it or not, his support for the view that
    "society is doomed by the concept of moral relativism" is undermined by
    his adherence a number of moral absolutes.

    Even though the MOQ plays lip service to the notion of relativism, it
    actually builds a solid structure on which to base moral decisions
    including some that are absolute like:

    "We must understand that when a society undermines intellectual freedom
    for its own purposes it is absolutely morally bad, but when it represses
    biological freedom for its own purposes it is absolutely morally good.
    These moral bads and goods are not just "customs." They are as real as
    rocks and trees." (Lila, 24)

    Seems to me that "What is the proper source of morality for a nation?" is
    a still open question given that the MOQ has a long way to go before it's
    widely known and accepted. The recent U.S. election showed there's still a
    huge rift in how that questioned should be answered.

    What concerns me that if moral laws are man made and relative, then moral
    rules are arbitrary and thus no one is obligated to follow them. That's
    why I believe a society that adheres to moral relativism is doomed.

    Looking forward to your comments.


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