When is moral relativism not subsumed by moral objectivism?

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NonZeroSum
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When is moral relativism not subsumed by moral objectivism?

Post by NonZeroSum » Sat May 20, 2017 11:00 pm

Short of you're lack of consent to chose where you were born and the existentialist absurdity of that determining your lot in life, we are all born with the tools for moral intuition, we are not a blank slate, we have the tools to pick up language, to register a social 'essence' etc.
BrianBlackwell wrote:
Sat May 20, 2017 7:49 pm
You have made many contradicting statements, you enjoy living in a society where there is a moral imperative to be good to one another, in your enjoyment of adhering to the abstract you betray yourself, you enjoy:

". . .that each individual ought to be capable of realizing his own ethical maxim, then I must as a natural consequence also maintain that each individual ought to be protected against the imposition of another ethical maxim; this latter claim can only be accomplished with recourse to the universal dimension."
Well, from the commonly-accepted perspective of an assumed objective reality, I don't think there's any question that moral relativism most accurately reflects the situation. The absence of an objective standard, coupled with individual differences (neither of which can be denied), necessitates this position.
This is why you have to be consigned to the off-topic section, because there is an objective standard in logic and science, you just refuse to adhere to it.

Make an argument as I have been attempting to do for a soft consequentialism that prizes cultural capital in the form of whatever existential (personal differences) people currently hold, as Brim would say at least that is an argument:
Marx believes social revolution is a morally justifiable goal because [...] it is a necessary condition of general freedom. Then to the extent that some act n is causative of social revolution, it is to that extent and for that reason morally justifiable. The statement [...] is consistent with utilitarianism (if ‘ought’ is qualified by prima facie) in case the social revolution is in someone’s interest. Marx believes acts causative of social revolution are in the interests of the proletariat; to that extent his position is compatible with utilitarianism [and, I would also add, ethical universalism] (1973: 189).
Or confine yourself to a faith based moral relativism that is an imperative to only do what 'feels right' even though really you're a universalist because you assume the sun will come up tomorrow.
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Post by Sunflowers » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:26 pm

Moral subjectivism and moral relativism are distinct theories.

The opposite of 'relative' is 'absolute'. The opposite of 'subjective' is 'objective'.

A subjectivist about morality is someone who believes that the truth-makers of moral propositions (so, statements of the kind "X is wrong") are either a) our individual subjective states, or b) the subjective states of some collective, or c) the subjective states of some third party (typically 'God', but it needn't be).

A relativist about morality, is someone who believes that the truth of a moral proposition is relative to time, place, and individual. So, whether "abortions are wrong" is true depends on when and where it is said, and by whom.

Note, although subjectivism would seem to entail relativism, the reverse is not true. Take the statement "there is a tree outside my window". That statement is true if I say it right now, but it will be false if I say it next week (for the tree is going to be cut down), and probably false if you say it. Yet it is not 'subjective'. What makes it true are objective features of the world, not my mental states.

Most ethicists are both objectivist and absolutist insofar as they believe that the truth of a moral proposition is not constitutively determined by our feelings, and also that its truth is universal accross time, space and individuals.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:38 am

Sunflowers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:26 pm
Moral subjectivism and moral relativism are distinct theories.

The opposite of 'relative' is 'absolute'. The opposite of 'subjective' is 'objective'.
It's a confusion of terms. Relativism usually refers to cultural relativism, and there it's a slippery slope to full-on subjectivism when we deconstruct culture into subcultures, etc.

Once deconstructed, Cultural relativism => Subjectivism.

Moral absolutism is something else, and not the opposite of moral relativism. I know it's confusing, and it's really unfortunate that the terms are so often used this way.

The opposite of moral subjectivism (of which cultural relativism is usually a subcategory in denial) is moral objectivism or moral universalism. Moral objectivism/universalism can come in the form of contextual moral systems like consequentialism where the situation is important and yet it not purely opinion, and moral absolutist systems like deontology.
Sunflowers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:26 pm
A subjectivist about morality is someone who believes that the truth-makers of moral propositions (so, statements of the kind "X is wrong") are either a) our individual subjective states, or b) the subjective states of some collective, or c) the subjective states of some third party (typically 'God', but it needn't be).
Just the first one, "a" typically. More specifically, personal whim on "moral opinions".
A hedonist can be an objectivist who says pleasurable states are inherently good. The claim is still universal.

As to "b" that's more like cultural relativism (unless you're calling utilitarianism subjectivist, which it is certainly not).
As to "c", few theists think their gods are subjective; Christians reference an objective lawgiver.
Those are pretty major points of contention.
Sunflowers wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:26 pm
A relativist about morality, is someone who believes that the truth of a moral proposition is relative to time, place, and individual. So, whether "abortions are wrong" is true depends on when and where it is said, and by whom.
That's not how relativism is used. That's just a contextual moral system, and it can very much be objective and universalist.
Also, it isn't about who *said* it, it's about who did it and the circumstances around its doing. Only a subjectivist would care who said it.

A culturally relativist system just depends on the norms of the culture. In that sense relativism definitely entails subjectivism.
However, non-absolutism doesn't entail subjectivism.

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Post by Sunflowers » Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:42 pm

Hm, no, I think that's a bit confused.

To say that something is 'subjective' is to say something about what it is made of - it is to say that it is made of subjective states.

Likewise, to say that something is 'objective' is to say that it is made of something other than mental states - and thus that it exists 'extra-mentally'.

So, someone who says that morality is 'subjective' is saying that morality is made of subjective states. There are three kinds of such view: individual subjectivism (morality is made of our individual subjectives states); inter-subjectivism (the view that morality is made of collected subjective states); divine subjectivism (the view that morality is made of a god's subjective states).

Many get confused because subjectivist views entail relativism. But relativism does not entail subjetctivism. The confusion gets worse because most objectivists about morality are also absolutists. But these are not equivalent positions.

For instance, it is entirely possible to be an objectivist about morality, and also a relativist. I could hold that at time t1, lying is objectively wrong, and at time t2 lying is objectively right (other things being equal). Or I could hold that lying is objectively wrong here, but objective right over there (other things being equal). Or lying is objectively wrong for me, but objectively right for you (other things being equal).

You are also incorrect, I think, in conflating objectivism and universalism. As just shown above, one could reject universalism and still be an objectivist.

Take the physical world. That is an objective place - it exists extra-mentally if it exists at all. So the proposition that there is a tree outside my window is objective, for its truth maker is an objective state of affairs. But it is not universally true. I doubt it is true if you say it, for instance.

So moral objectivism and moral subjectivism are not synonymous with moral relativism and moral absolutism. It's just that subjectivism entails relativism - and thus many fallaciously infer that if morality is relative it is subjective. And most objectivists about morality are also absolutists, because most objectivists believe that moral truths are truths of reason (rather than truths about the objective physical world) and believe that truths of reason are necessary truths (and thus absolute, rather than relative to time, place or individual).

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