Re: MD Is Morality Relative?

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Fri Dec 03 2004 - 04:43:58 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: Ham; Re: MD Is Morality Relative?"

    On 2 Dec 2004 at 14:00, wrote:
    > 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.

    Let's forget about what a character in someone else's philosophical
    dialogues might have said a couple of thousand years ago. I'd like
    to know what YOU think. Autonomous means self-governing; rational
    means able to accurately sense one's environment and employ deduction
    and inference, in solving problems therein.

    What have you observed in the behavior of humans and other animals
    that makes you think autonomy is unique to humans? And what makes
    you think non-human animals are irrational?

    > 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 a a street corner, eating an ice cream cone. From your
    > 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.

    msh says:
    But I've just provided an argument that refutes this. In fact, I can
    provide evidence and argument that other animals, as well as humans,
    are not naturally selfish. What is your counter-argument?

    > 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".

    msh says:
    Again, this is belied by behavioral observation of human beings and
    other animals. There are, of course, selfish human beings. But my
    thought experiment involving the man and the ice cream cone shows
    that such behavior is correctly regarded as unnatural. But, you have
    another chance to offer a counter-argument.

    Why not use this [selfish] tendency in a productive way (i.e., free
    enterprise) that does not offend the sensibilities of another?

    msh says:
    Well, I'm not sure what world you live in, but the fallacious "free-
    enterprise" world I experience, day in and day out, constantly
    offends my sensibilities. Deceit in the form of advertising alone
    should and does offend almost everyone, I would say. And this is
    only a small part of the fraud called free enterprise.

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

    I do not subscribe to theism. My "primary source" is Essence, not a
    personal deity.

    msh says:
    In just your posts over the last few days, you have described your
    "primary source" as a Universal Designer, the Unmoved Mover, the
    Divine Creator, the Divine Planner, the Absolute Source, the
    Uncreated Essence, the Master Designer. You've said that man's
    rationality is "the gift of a supernatural Source."

    Whether or not you use the word "God," your belief system is clearly
    theistic. What I find intellectually dishonest is your unwillingness
    to label it as such.

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)
    InfoPro Consulting - The Professional Information Processors
    Custom Software Solutions for Windows, PDAs, and the Web Since 1983
    Web Site:

    "Thought is only a flash between two long nights, but this flash is
    everything." -- Henri Poincare'

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