Morals and Sock Puppets

Dave ruminates on his blog:

Can an individual action be morally wrong if it is entirely private and no-one, not even the person doing the act, is harmed by it at all?

This statement is really the meat of this survey. I answered yes here. Not doing harm is, in my mind anyway, the beginning point, not the ending of morality.

I would like to see a action that does no harm to anyone, is private, and is immoral. I personally do not feel that can exist.

Morality (in my ever so humble opinion) is part culture, part personal. There is no natural law of morality that says X shall always be immoral. If you were to belive in that, then there would have to be some mechinism for acts that had never been considered before to be measured against some natural moral stick.

For example, the first creature that masterbated – this was an act that have never happened before. Now, at that moment, it would have had to be decided if that act was moral or not. That takes a choice to be made. That takes some sort consciousness.

Dave also says:

Do you think that morality comes from God or some other source outside of nature, society and human judgement?

I answered no here, as should be unsurprising given my previous explanations. If morality is defined as the best possible choice, than it is a thing into and of itself, so it would arrise from nature.

However, for there to be some natural law of morality – there has to be a God or God like force that adjudicates it. So these anwsers contradict each other.

Morality is either decided by the culture and the people in the culture or it is given down from on high. There is no middle road here.

4 thoughts on “Morals and Sock Puppets”

  1. <em>one could say that the conscieousness itself is a part of nature.</em>

    Is nature caused by consciousness, or is consciousness caused by nature?

    <em>as a general rule though the choice that benefits the choser and others the most would be the best choice. Perception of the world doesn’t matter, this is real material benefits I am talking about</em>

    But ‘real material benfits’ are not always the result of moral choices. For example, the person who returns the wallet with the $100 bill still in it, and gets no reward. No real material benifit there – but there is a karmic, spiritual and or pschyological reward. And that reward is dependant totally on the perception of the person who made the choice.

    The world is percived. We even interact with the material world through perception. We cannot directly measure the real world – we have to filter it through our eyes, optic nerves and then brain. That takes several miliseconds, and when it hits the brain, the data is processed through our beliefs and past experince.

    There is no possible way that perception cannot enter into any aspect of our lives. Our perception of the world rules our lives with an iron fist.

    One of the first things we should do, is to start to re-program how we percive things. We we open our perceptions to the wider world, we can react to external events with more compassion.

  2. Heh, first off one could say that the conscieousness itself is a part of nature.

    However, I hold that their are finite possible choices, limited by our own knowledge and capabilities.

    I don’t have a great criteria for what is best, as a general rule though the choice that benefits the choser and others the most would be the best choice. Perception of the world doesn’t matter, this is real material benefits I am talking about, although certainly these benefits can be difficult at times to identify.

    Unless the Suicide Bomber actually DOES get his 75 virgins his belief that he will does not matter.

    Now, it is possible for a Suicide Bomber’s choice to be more limited than it might appear, for example, his sucide bombing might be the proper choice if it is a case of commiting the suicide bombing and killing 20 people or not doing it resulting in 40 people being killed (a terrorist controler threatening his family and everyone he knew for example.)

    Consciousness gives us the ability to choose and makes morality possible. Good and Bad consequence, hence moral and immoral actions, though are a natural response to the choices we make.

    I give wiggle room in allowing that we can never know the full consequences of our choices, but we can apply a ‘reasonable’ standard to our choices. This same standard allows us to pretty well judge another moral nature, although at times it may be wrong as we have limited knowledge of other peoples capabilities and choices.

  3. <em>I gave my defintion of morality as making the best possible decision of any given choice.</em>

    and

    <em> the morality would be intrinsic to the situation, hence, arising from nature.</em>

    It would not be arising from nature then – a choice is the domain of consciousness. With out consciousness there can be no choice.

    As you pointed out, Choice is extremly subjective, and ‘proper choice’ is even harder to define. One could define a sucide bombing a ‘proper choice’ if one’s world view was squewed the correct way.

  4. I gave my defintion of morality as making the best possible decision of any given choice.

    Using that definition, society and/or God can perhaps offer guidance, but they do not create the morality of the decision, the morality would be intrinsic to the situation, hence, arising from nature.

    We know what is, and is not moral partly through reason, and partly through the traditions of our society. Because moral things are ‘good’ things, by my definition anyway, and a society that ins’t on balance ‘good’ (correct, workable, stable) won’t survive society is usually a fairly good indicator of a minimum baseline morality.

    Morality is of course, using this definition somewhat situational. As it is rooted in free will, mental capacity must also be taken into account, as well.

    When I say harm is the beginning of morality, not it’s end state I am of referring to actually doing good instead of simply refraining from harm. The good samaritan parable illustrates this concept fairly well.

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