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  1. #1
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    ARE MORALITY AND ETHICS STRICTLY HUMAN CONCEPTS?

    This is NOTa theological question.

    In terms of the observable world, the things that we can measure using our five senses, are morality and ethics strictly human concepts? Do animals (primates) exhibit moral or ethical behavior?

    To answer this question we must first define a few terms. Following are the descriptive definitions moral, morality and ethics from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

    Moral:
    1. of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior
    2. probable though not proved : virtual
    3. perceptual or psychological rather than tangible or practical in nature or effect

    Morality:
    1. a moral discourse, statement, or lesson
    2. a doctrine or system of moral conduct
    3. conformity to ideals of right human conduct

    Ethics:
    1. the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation
    2. a set of moral principles : a theory or system of moral values

    The problem here is that ‘morality’ has more than just a descriptive definition. It also has a normative definition. From plato.stanford.edu:
    [JUSTIFY]
    When “morality” is used in its universal normative sense, it need not have either of the two formal features that are essential to moralities referred to by the original descriptive sense: that it be a code of conduct that is put forward by a society and that it be accepted as a guide to behavior by the members of that society. Indeed, it is possible that “morality” in the normative sense has never been put forward by any particular society, by any group at all, or even by any individual that holds that moral rules should never be violated for non-moral reasons. “Morality” is thus an ambiguous word; the two essential formal features cited above, which are present in everything that is referred to by the original descriptive sense may not be present when “morality” is used in its normative sense. The only feature that the descriptive and normative senses of “morality” have in common is that they refer to guides to behavior that involve, at least in part, avoiding and preventing harm to some others.

    Those who hold that that there is a universal code of conduct that all rational persons, under plausible specified conditions, would put forward for governing the behavior of all moral agents do not claim that any actual society has or has ever had such a guide to conduct. However, “Natural law” theories of morality claim that any rational person in any society, even one that has a defective morality, can know the general kinds of actions that morality prohibits, requires, discourages, encourages, and allows.

    In the secular version of natural law theories, such as that put forward by Hobbes, natural reason is sufficient to allow all rational persons to know what morality prohibits, requires, etc. Natural law theorists also claim that morality applies to all of rational persons, not only those now living, but also those who lived in the past. These are not empirical claims about morality; they are claims about what is essential to morality, or about what is meant by “morality” when it is used normatively.
    <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/#NorDefMor>[/JUSTIFY]

    I have highlighted several words and concepts above. Many of the highlighted words and concepts are unique to a sentient being which can convey the ability to conceptualize via spoken or written communication. Among all the species on earth, human beings are unique in their ability to communicate very complex, and often abstract spoken and written conceptualizations.

    Concept:
    1. something conceived in the mind : thought, notion
    2. an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances

    Conceptualize: to form a concept of; especially: to interpret conceptually


    Although primates demonstrate compassion toward other members of their troop, they have never been witnessed to communicate their intent. More importantly, unlike human beings (with a fully functional amygdala), primates do not demonstrate the concept of, that is they do not articulate, not doing what they ought to do.

    Human morality and ethics are unique precisely because we are able to articulate intent. We are also unique in our propensity to express our intent, only to later violate that intent. Some would describe such a deliberate act as a violation of our conscience. Although primates may have a conscience, they are unable to express intent, and therefore unable to express any violation of conscience.

    Human beings are unique in our ability to articulate what we ought to do.
    Respectfully,
    Mark
    An unsupported statement is not an argument; it is only an opinion.
    Eschew obfuscation.

  2. #2
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    Morality is a concept that will undoubtedly come into play whenever sentient beings are in a position where they must cohabitate and share an existence. In some ways morality can loosely be defined as the "do's" and "don'ts" of living among peers. Even things like "thou shall not kill" only applies to that very peer relationship as it is rarely frowned upon to kill "lower" life forms. SO much of what we may THINK is "written in stone" turns out to be subjective when we remove ourselves from the biases of our perceptions and look at the bigger picture.

  3. #3
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    Suicide?

    Quote Originally Posted by throwback View Post
    Morality is a concept that will undoubtedly come into play whenever sentient beings are in a position where they must cohabitate and share an existence. In some ways morality can loosely be defined as the "do's" and "don'ts" of living among peers. Even things like "thou shall not kill" only applies to that very peer relationship as it is rarely frowned upon to kill "lower" life forms. SO much of what we may THINK is "written in stone" turns out to be subjective when we remove ourselves from the biases of our perceptions and look at the bigger picture.
    Suicide is not a shared act wherein cohabitation is a factor, it is a deeply personal decision. Despite the personal nature of suicide, many people still believe that it is an immoral act. If I were stranded on a small desert island with no hope of rescue, I would be loath to consider suicide as an option to ‘escape’ the island because I believe that suicide is an immoral act.

    Do you actually believe that human beings can ever ‘remove ourselves from the biases of our perceptions’? It is by our very nature that our perceptions are biased. Consider the eyewitness reports of people who have witnessed the same incident yet they each render different, and often conflicting, reports. This phenomenon occurs precisely because human discernment is biased by the perception of the observer. Most human beings are unable to discern their own biases.
    Respectfully,
    Mark
    An unsupported statement is not an argument; it is only an opinion.
    Eschew obfuscation.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guido Fawkes View Post
    Suicide is not a shared act wherein cohabitation is a factor, it is a deeply personal decision. Despite the personal nature of suicide, many people still believe that it is an immoral act. If I were stranded on a small desert island with no hope of rescue, I would be loath to consider suicide as an option to ‘escape’ the island because I believe that suicide is an immoral act.
    Hello Mark,

    I am curious as to why you consider suicide to be an immoral act? I don't see where immorality enters the picture ...

    From my perspective it seems like a person is entitled to end their own life as long as it is a choice that is made entirely by them, without it being considered immoral.

    Kind regards,
    Rose
    Never trust anything you are afraid to question ~

    To know oneself is to know the universe...


    Live Fully...Love Extravagantly...For the sake of Goodness

    Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt.10:16

    Come let us reason together...Isa.1:18
    ********************************
    My new Blog site: God and Butterfly

  5. #5
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    Silver rule...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose View Post
    Hello Mark,

    I am curious as to why you consider suicide to be an immoral act? I don't see where immorality enters the picture ...

    From my perspective it seems like a person is entitled to end their own life as long as it is a choice that is made entirely by them, without it being considered immoral.

    Kind regards,
    Rose
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_suicide

    The philosophy of suicide varies greatly among different cultures of the world, which is why I said that "many [not all] people still believe that it is an immoral act." Although I consider suicide immoral for myself, I do not discount the possibility that I may one day find myself in an impossible situation wherein my only choices are immeasurable suffering or suicide. Given that kind of choice, I would still be loath to suicide. I believe that, since suicide is such a deeply personal choice, I have no right to judge the morality of its use by another person on himself.

    So, I agree with you in part. A person is entitled to end their own life as long as it is a choice that is made entirely by them. However, I also believe that the morality of the personal choice to suicide, is itself a personal choice which should be respected regardless of the choice made. This philosophy is upheld by part of the article:

    Philosophy of Suicide: Arguments in Favor of Suicide:
    Liberalism asserts that a person's life belongs only to them, and no other person has the right to force their own ideals that life must be lived. Rather, only the individual involved can make such a decision, and whatever decision they make should be respected. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_suicide

    Also please consider the Silver Rule: Do not unto others as you would not have them do unto you.

    This may be quite selfish, but would you want someone you love to commit suicide, thereby removing themselves from your life? If you know that the loss of a loved one via suicide would hurt you, why would you want to commit suicide and subject your loved one to something that you would not like to bear yourself?


    Respectfully,
    Mark
    An unsupported statement is not an argument; it is only an opinion.
    Eschew obfuscation.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guido Fawkes View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_suicide

    The philosophy of suicide varies greatly among different cultures of the world, which is why I said that "many [not all] people still believe that it is an immoral act." Although I consider suicide immoral for myself, I do not discount the possibility that I may one day find myself in an impossible situation wherein my only choices are immeasurable suffering or suicide. Given that kind of choice, I would still be loath to suicide. I believe that, since suicide is such a deeply personal choice, I have no right to judge the morality of its use by another person on himself.

    So, I agree with you in part. A person is entitled to end their own life as long as it is a choice that is made entirely by them. However, I also believe that the morality of the personal choice to suicide, is itself a personal choice which should be respected regardless of the choice made. This philosophy is upheld by part of the article:

    Philosophy of Suicide: Arguments in Favor of Suicide:
    Liberalism asserts that a person's life belongs only to them, and no other person has the right to force their own ideals that life must be lived. Rather, only the individual involved can make such a decision, and whatever decision they make should be respected. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_suicide

    Also please consider the Silver Rule: Do not unto others as you would not have them do unto you.

    This may be quite selfish, but would you want someone you love to commit suicide, thereby removing themselves from your life? If you know that the loss of a loved one via suicide would hurt you, why would you want to commit suicide and subject your loved one to something that you would not like to bear yourself?


    Hello Mark,

    I am still curious why you consider suicide to be a moral issue, even if only for yourself? What is moral or immoral about it?

    I understand moral issues to be those things that violate a persons human rights and since suicide violates no ones human rights ... not even the person committing suicide ... I don't see how it falls into the moral category. I do agree with you about the negative effect that suicide has on those left behind, but it's still not a moral issue. Many times people that commit suicide are suffering so much pain inside that the pain others might suffer because of their suicide is not even on their radar.

    Kind regards,
    Rose
    Never trust anything you are afraid to question ~

    To know oneself is to know the universe...


    Live Fully...Love Extravagantly...For the sake of Goodness

    Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt.10:16

    Come let us reason together...Isa.1:18
    ********************************
    My new Blog site: God and Butterfly

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guido Fawkes View Post
    Suicide is not a shared act wherein cohabitation is a factor, it is a deeply personal decision. Despite the personal nature of suicide, many people still believe that it is an immoral act.
    The answer will vary depending on who is asked the question which is evidence to support the notion that morality is subjective in nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guido Fawkes View Post
    Do you actually believe that human beings can ever ‘remove ourselves from the biases of our perceptions’? It is by our very nature that our perceptions are biased.
    We may not be able to totally remove ourselves from imbeded perceptive biases, but we can make an effort to look at the bigger picture beyond our individual perspective.

  8. #8
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    Does violation of the Silver Rule constitute an immoral act?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose View Post
    Hello Mark,

    I am still curious why you consider suicide to be a moral issue, even if only for yourself? What is moral or immoral about it?

    I understand moral issues to be those things that violate a persons human rights and since suicide violates no ones human rights ... not even the person committing suicide ... I don't see how it falls into the moral category. I do agree with you about the negative effect that suicide has on those left behind, but it's still not a moral issue. Many times people that commit suicide are suffering so much pain inside that the pain others might suffer because of their suicide is not even on their radar.

    Kind regards,
    Rose
    Good Evening Rose,

    Somehow I missed this particular post of yours until just now. Is there some way to view only the replies to posts that I’ve made? The way I do it now is to scroll through all the posts that everyone has made to everyone else on the “What’s new?” tab - so miss some replies which have been made to me.

    ======================================

    My reasoning really does have to do with the Silver Rule.

    If my wife was to commit suicide and I was completely blindsided by her action, I would be devastated. I make this stipulation because, as I’ve previously stated, I understand that there are times when killing someone (even one’s self) may be justified, or even desirable to the alternative. For instance, if my wife were in the final stages of a debilitating cancer (or some incurable disease) with absolutely no possibility of a cure, and which left her in excruciating pain, I would understand (and even begrudgingly accept) her decision to end her own life. Under this circumstance I would not be blindsided by her suicide. Under this circumstance, she may even ask me to assist her carry out her suicide. I cannot know what my actual reaction would be to such a request, but I can speculate that – because I love her – I would likely help her if she asked. This particular situation would not, in my opinion, be a violation of the Silver Rule for either of us.

    Being blindsided by the suicide of a loved one is, in my opinion, a definite violation of the Silver Rule. Although not always the case, suicide is usually a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    I suppose that the answer to your question boils down to resolving these questions:
    1. Does violation of the Silver Rule constitute an immoral act? If the answer is no, we can stop here. If the answer is yes then,
    2. Are there situations in which suicide violates the Silver Rule? If the answer is no, we can stop here. If the answer is yes then,
    3. Is the particular situation I outlined above one of those situations in which suicide violates the Silver Rule? If the answer is no, we can stop here. If the answer is yes then, this is why I believe that suicide is an immoral act for me.


    I should have more accurately said that there are certain circumstances in which I believe suicide to be an immoral act.
    Respectfully,
    Mark
    An unsupported statement is not an argument; it is only an opinion.
    Eschew obfuscation.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guido Fawkes View Post
    Good Evening Rose,

    Somehow I missed this particular post of yours until just now. Is there some way to view only the replies to posts that I’ve made? The way I do it now is to scroll through all the posts that everyone has made to everyone else on the “What’s new?” tab - so miss some replies which have been made to me.
    Hello Mark

    One way to view all the posts written by a particular person (including yourself) is to click on the name that appears by their avatar, a menu will drop down with two columns, at the top of the second column click on "view forum posts" this will take you to all the posts written by that person starting with the most recent.



    Quote Originally Posted by Guido Fawkes View Post
    My reasoning really does have to do with the Silver Rule.

    If my wife was to commit suicide and I was completely blindsided by her action, I would be devastated. I make this stipulation because, as I’ve previously stated, I understand that there are times when killing someone (even one’s self) may be justified, or even desirable to the alternative. For instance, if my wife were in the final stages of a debilitating cancer (or some incurable disease) with absolutely no possibility of a cure, and which left her in excruciating pain, I would understand (and even begrudgingly accept) her decision to end her own life. Under this circumstance I would not be blindsided by her suicide. Under this circumstance, she may even ask me to assist her carry out her suicide. I cannot know what my actual reaction would be to such a request, but I can speculate that – because I love her – I would likely help her if she asked. This particular situation would not, in my opinion, be a violation of the Silver Rule for either of us.

    Being blindsided by the suicide of a loved one is, in my opinion, a definite violation of the Silver Rule. Although not always the case, suicide is usually a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    I suppose that the answer to your question boils down to resolving these questions:
    1. Does violation of the Silver Rule constitute an immoral act? If the answer is no, we can stop here. If the answer is yes then,
    2. Are there situations in which suicide violates the Silver Rule? If the answer is no, we can stop here. If the answer is yes then,
    3. Is the particular situation I outlined above one of those situations in which suicide violates the Silver Rule? If the answer is no, we can stop here. If the answer is yes then, this is why I believe that suicide is an immoral act for me.


    I should have more accurately said that there are certain circumstances in which I believe suicide to be an immoral act.
    I totally understand the devastation that would occur if one is "blindsided" by the suicide of another, but I'm not so sure it can be classified as a violation of the Silver Rule and here's why. When someone is driven to the point of suicide, the condition of their mindset is probably no different then the mindset of a person with terminal cancer. It seems that people who commit suicide have come to a point in their lives where they see no hope, the thought of a continued existence is unbearable to them. So, if you were in the same mental condition as the person who committed suicide you would probably do the same thing ... if that is the case then no violation of the Silver Rule has occurred.

    Suicide is a very hard thing to judge, because when a person is driven to that point no one else really knows the condition of their mental state ... for that reason I think that suicide does not belong in the class of moral issues. The same holds true for a mentally deranged person who commits a crime, they are usually charged with innocence by reason of insanity.


    Kind regards,
    Rose
    Never trust anything you are afraid to question ~

    To know oneself is to know the universe...


    Live Fully...Love Extravagantly...For the sake of Goodness

    Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt.10:16

    Come let us reason together...Isa.1:18
    ********************************
    My new Blog site: God and Butterfly

  10. #10
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    What might have been...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rose View Post
    Hello Mark

    One way to view all the posts written by a particular person (including yourself) is to click on the name that appears by their avatar, a menu will drop down with two columns, at the top of the second column click on "view forum posts" this will take you to all the posts written by that person starting with the most recent.



    I totally understand the devastation that would occur if one is "blindsided" by the suicide of another, but I'm not so sure it can be classified as a violation of the Silver Rule and here's why. When someone is driven to the point of suicide, the condition of their mindset is probably no different then the mindset of a person with terminal cancer. It seems that people who commit suicide have come to a point in their lives where they see no hope, the thought of a continued existence is unbearable to them. So, if you were in the same mental condition as the person who committed suicide you would probably do the same thing ... if that is the case then no violation of the Silver Rule has occurred.

    Suicide is a very hard thing to judge, because when a person is driven to that point no one else really knows the condition of their mental state ... for that reason I think that suicide does not belong in the class of moral issues. The same holds true for a mentally deranged person who commits a crime, they are usually charged with innocence by reason of insanity.


    Kind regards,
    Rose
    Good Evening Rose,

    Given your reasoning, I accept your classification. Perhaps suicide is not immoral, but the suicide of a loved one, or a friend, is damned hard to accept. It always leaves you wondering if there might have been something that you could have done which might have prevented your friend from tearing a hole in your life.
    Respectfully,
    Mark
    An unsupported statement is not an argument; it is only an opinion.
    Eschew obfuscation.

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