Re: MD Is Morality Relative?

Date: Thu Dec 02 2004 - 19:00:53 GMT

  • Next message: Sam Norton: "Re: Anti-Theism (was MD Is Morality Relative?)"


    Sorry I missed this earlier posting in reviewing my mail. You quoted me as

    > How I define Morality will necessarily support the philosophy of
    > Essence, the central thesis of which is that man is an autonomous
    > creature in a relational world.
    > msh asks:
    > I agree with this. But are human beings the only autonomous
    > creatures in a relational world? If so, what are your reasons for
    > granting autonomy to one kind of animal above others?

    In this world at least, human beings appear to be unique in this respect.
    Socrates defined "rationality" as the essence of man and, to my knowledge,
    no one has since disputed him. I think autonomy is a corollary of this
    rational capacity. I did not grant rationality to man; it is the gift of a
    supernatural Source.

    > ham:
    > We are all selfish by nature; it is not a virtue but a description of
    > man's position in a relational world.
    > msh says:
    > This is the ageless apology for selfish behavior, for which exist so
    > many counter-examples it's hard to imagine anyone still thinks this
    > way. Here's a thought experiment: There's a small girl alone on on
    > a street corner, eating an ice cream cone. From your concealed
    > location, you watch a man approach her. The man looks around, thinks
    > he is unobserved, then takes her cone and walks away eating it.
    > Would you regard this as natural behavior? Would anyone? In fact,
    > the man would rightly be regarded as sociopathic, or worse.

    I stand by my statement that man is naturally selfish. This does not mean
    that selfishness is above principle, or that we should defer to our animal
    instincts in social behavior. That's what "rationality" is for. Indeed,
    autonomy (i.e., individual freedom) places a heavy burden of responsibility
    on us -- an obligation that far too many have shirked. If you've read
    Edington's sermon that I recommended, you'll recall that he said "moral
    relativity is the only kind of morality there is." When you consider that
    morality involves making free choices, any absolute standard defeats the

    > msh asks:
    > Could you explain why you reject the morality of altruism, yet accept
    > the morality of free enterprise? Forget for a moment that there is
    > no such thing as a free market, and never has been. I won't even
    > bother to ask you about Marxism, as I doubt that you know enough
    > about it to even have an opinion.

    I don't know if free enterprise can be considered a system of morality per
    se; but it affords a cooperative way of using our self-serving nature in
    harmony with accepted moral and ethical precepts. In other words, it does
    not violate the sanctity of human awareness. (I'll allow that this may be
    an "absolute" relative to morality.)

    > Are you unable to think of a single incident from your own
    > experience, or your knowledge of history, where an individual acted
    > unselfishly?

    Of course. Acts of heroism, generosity, kindness, love -- all are unselfish
    in themselves. Nevertheless, the natural (instinctive) tendency is to "look
    out for ourselves". Why not use this tendency in a productive way (i.e.,
    free enterprise) that does not offend the sensibilities of another?

    > msh asks:
    > What is the underlying metaphysical rationale for your theism?

    I do not subscribe to theism. My "primary source" is Essence, not a
    personal deity. Please read my thesis for the Philosophy of Essence at

    Thanks, Mark,

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