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Old June 21, 2009, 03:32 PM   #313
Buzzcook
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Join Date: November 29, 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 6,093
I wish I had come earlier to the thread because it's a pretty big bite to read all at once.

This goes back to the first few pages.
All morals are individual/personal. by that I mean that morals deal with how the individual deals with the world around him.
Yes there are other definitions for morals, but that's the one I'm using right now.

Given that, all morals are "derived". They are derived externally from family or society or a book etc. Or morals are derived internally through reflection, reason, or revelation.

In any of those cases those morals "could" be absolute. By that I mean applicable to all individuals and in all situations.
Among the reasons I qualify absolute morals are the facts that on many occasions those morals that have been proclaimed as absolute have been proven to not be so. Divine rights of kings, slavery, the ability to kill people who wore the wrong clothing, were all considered moral absolutes at one time or another. Absolute morals derived externally or or from revelation are very prone to this type of error, because they don't admit to challenge.
Absolute morals also tend to be unwieldy when applied in novel situations. Javert was absolutely right to pursue Jean Valjean, but Valjean was much more important to society as a mayor and businessman than in prison. (That of course ignores the subtext that Javert was driven by petty jealousy and pride, not respect for the law) Sorry about the pun.

Which brings us to absolutes hand maiden, relativism. The two are not mutually exclusive. It can be a moral absolute that it is wrong to steal and at the same time morally absolute that it is right to steal a loaf of bread to feed a starving child. There is no dichotomy. Instead there is a hierarchy of absolutes. Moral relativism is the exercise of that hierarchy.

I for one, think we have an absolute duty to retreat. We can debate at what point retreating becomes untenable, but I hope we can agree that taking a life when we don't have to is repugnant.
Arguments against this point seem to focus on extending the "have to" into some future necessity. We can't see into the future, the baker might have shot Valjean and through that act condemned several "innocent" lives to death.

I also believe that we have an absolute moral duty to defend our own lives and the lives of others. If that requires the use of deadly force, then we are morally bound to do so.
Once again the argument is not against the absolute, it is whether the situation meets the requirements.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Mis%C3%A9rables
If you haven't read the book you should.

In my opinion Emanuel Kant is the go to guy for the philosophical debate.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Kant

Just like to point out that "situational ethics" is a Christian concept.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situational_ethics
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