Re: MD Is Morality Relative?

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Sun Dec 05 2004 - 15:15:00 GMT

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

    On 3 Dec 2004 at 17:52, Platt Holden wrote:
    > msh said:
    > Besides, I don't think nations or any other political entities
    > should be involved in the business of setting and enforcing moral
    > standards of any kind.

    So laws against murder, rape, assault, theft, fraud, affirmative
    action, tax evasion, etc. should be eliminated? (I'll vote to get rid
    of the latter two).

    msh says:
    You're being deliberately obtuse in order to be contrary, or at least
    I hope your obtuseness here is deliberate. Have you ever considered
    patenting this discursive technique? You could sell it in a package
    along with the Platteral Shift and the Holden Circularity.

    But I'll go one more round, in case you really are interested in my
    opinion. Any state interested in equal protection of the rights of
    ALL its citizens will outlaw the acts you mention, so the state will
    be enforcing legal not moral standards. As I've said below and
    elsewhere, guidelines for determining what should be illegal may come
    from a variety of moral standards, or simply from reason alone.

    > If you are asking for moral guidelines in the implementation of a
    > state's legal system, my first choice, sans the MOQ, would be a
    > secular-humanist version of the golden rule.

    Two problems with the golden rule. 1) It provides moral guidance only
    when one has made a previous moral judgment of how others should
    treat oneself.

    msh says:
    Why is this a problem? Before deciding on a course of action I
    simply ask myself: "Will the effects of my action impact another in a
    way that I would view as negative, were I in his place?"

    2) It cannot be used to derive judgments concerning one's moral
    duties to oneself, for example, not committing suicide.

    msh says:
    It's not meant to assist with such judgements. In fact, the phrase
    "one's moral duties to oneself" is meaningless, unless one already
    believes in an absolute moral authority. In which case there'd be no
    need for the Golden Rule, and this whole discussion would become
    dizzyingly circular. Which you would find satisfactory, I'm sure.

    > msh says:
    > Nothing wrong with loving thy neighbor, IMO. Though the idea did
    > not originate with Christianity. And the Golden Rule goes back to
    > Confucius, at least.

    Looks like you're willing to rely on ancient authorities to guide
    you on the path of righteousness. Not that there's anything wrong
    with that. After all, most people, religious and otherwise, make a
    similar appeal, even though it has a parental flavor.

    msh says:
    I have no problem going with good ideas, regardless of who has
    suggested them. My parents had many good ideas and rules, but they
    were wise enough to know that enforcing rules without explaining them
    was a serious abuse of parental power as well as neglect of their
    parental responsibilities.

    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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