Friday, January 30, 2015

Moral Relativism


Tonight I am feeling rather philosophical, and I want to ask a deeply philosophical question that has been debated in philosophical circles for hundreds of years.

Is morality relative? That is, is morality a black-and-white issue? Is right right and wrong wrong, no matter what

Let's take circumstantial morality for example. Is theft always wrong? What about a person who's on the verge of starvation and shoplifts a loaf of bread from a store? 

Let's also take cultural morality into account. Something may be considered immoral in our culture, but completely normal in another. And vice versa, things that may seem completely normal to us can be considered immoral in another culture.

Is there any such thing as right and and wrong? Does everything depend completely on circumstance? What are your thoughts? 

122 comments:

  1. When I was much younger, everything was always black and white. My husband, who was older, used to laugh at this. And now I see he is right. There are many shades of grey. And I do believe that God takes into account our hearts and our motives.

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  2. this is a tough one.
    I am almost thinking that every cultural around the world can not just be lumped together as one and then decide about morality. so some base needs to be decided.upon first.
    if brought up as a christian I would say yes theft is always wrong-cause there is always a right way to obtain what is needed.. and if we are going by the American culture and what is taught I also believe theft is always theft.

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  3. It is immoral to allow someone to starve to death when there is bread for sale.

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    1. It'a also immoral to feed/billions and ultimately hurt the entire human race because of overpopulation. Our compassion can and will get us into trouble in the future in the way of killing every living thing because we cannot shut our compassion down when we need to. We will feed the starving now, and later ALL living things will suffer and die for today's compassion.

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    2. The only thing you need to ask yourself is: Would you allow one of your family members to starve? Say, your 6 year old nephew, or your 84 year old Grandmother?

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    3. Well, this is an excellent example of moral relativism. Because I am wondering if Lola has up her mind which billions should starve to save other billions ...

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    4. If you read my reply, I said ALL life. Do we think humans are the only living thing on this planet worthy of saving? Why do we do everything to save EVERY human being, but it's okay to euthanize billions of animals every year, to eradicate mountains, not fight one and all for necessary endangered plants and animals,……Sorry, call it wrong, but I don't think in terms of just us when thinking about what is moral. I think of saving nature, what keeps my family alive- and ALL living things for centuries to come. Overpopulation does not feed my family. I am about saving nature, period, not just humans. Let’s say you are here when the population has tripled, like when your great great grandchildren, and beyond, are now standing in line with their pennies to pay for clean water, that is now as expensive as gold. Let’s say we’ve manipulated our food to the point we’ve eradicated every beneficial insect there is so that we may have had more corn but no fruits and vegetables …… After all we are planting more corn, some say, to feed the hungry. Yeah, right. Suffering is awful no matter how you look at it. But I am not about to save every man before I save what keeps me living. That also goes for what would keep my 6 year old nephew alive and my 84 year old grandmother if they were those ages. At the rate we are eradicating nature and poisoning it, it clearly will come down to every man for himself.

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  4. You make the problem more difficult than it needs to be by framing it as solely an "either/or" choice -- EITHER absolute morality OR moral relativism. You can have an absolute standard of morality and still be flexible so long as when it comes to punishment, the circumstances are taken into account. So, for example, you can assert that "theft is always wrong" and so the starving man who steals the bread has broken that law of the moral code. But he should not be punished for the transgression because he was starving and in need. When an absolute moral code is applied with compassion and flexibility, justice can still be done.

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  5. Pretty much depends on circumstances. I think of Les Miserables.

    Love,
    Janie

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  6. Q1: Yes, I believe there are definite rights and wrongs.
    Q2: Circumstances do have a strong bearing on what is right and what is wrong.

    This is a very interesting and thought-provoking question. One way my family and I have pondered it in the past is by considering conditions for people in occupied countries during the 2nd World War when there were many moral issues at stake. Sometimes they were faced with decisions between 2 things that are generally considered morally incorrect.

    1. Lying vs. Killing: Is it ok to lie about someone's whereabouts when his life is at stake? I think so because having a hand in killing a person is a lot worse than telling an untruth to a murderer. A lot of Christians have a hard time with this one because of the verse, "All liers will have their part in hell."
    2. Lawbreaking: The Bible says, "Submit yourselves unto every ordinance of man." Some Christians used this as an excuse to go along with the unjust laws of the occupying countries, instead of doing something illegal like hiding the Jews. It's better to break the law if the law is against God's justice.
    3. Stealing: If your house, garden, and all you own is confiscated from you by the occupying powers, is it ok to sneak out in the middle of the night and steal vegetables from the (now their) garden to eat? I think so.
    4. Bribing: If you can bribe a guard at a prison camp to get medicine that will save someone's life, is bribing wrong? I don't think so.
    5. Killing vs Allowing Killing: This is the toughest one for me, as I abhor violence. If a bad guy with a gun starts shooting down your friends, is it a moral obligation to kill him to stop him from killing more people? I'm not sure, and I hope I'm never in that situation.

    Did I just say lying, stealing, bribing, and law-breaking are all ok in some circumstances?! I never knew I had such a criminal mind

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  7. Okay, Keith! You have posed a conundrum for sure! There are no easy answers. The world looks grayer and less black and white as I get older. I try to navigate life by the golden rule and by not judging someone else. I often think, There but for the Grace of God, go I." I believe in being kind and compassionate. I think torture, murder (including executions), child abuse, and sexual abuse are always wrong. Killing is trickier, because sometimes you have to defend yourself personally and at war. I've been thinking about these questions much of my life, because life is messy and surprises you. Have a great weekend!

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  8. I think we can take most of the Mosaic Decalogue as morally axiomatic for an individual, a village, a planet. As an ethical model, its contents sprang up independently in cultures all over the world. As to deviating, sometimes society is put in the awkward position of defending itself --against crime, attack from without etc. and must react as best it can. Not a perfect answer. Hopefully we're getting better at it.

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  9. Some things are black and white like the example you gave and some things are not so black and white. It gets complicated. There is definitely a right and wrong, but sometimes there's a lot of flexibility.

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  10. What a great topic of discussion. My husband and I have a lot of these types of conversations and we agree most of the time, but sometimes we simply agree to disagree. In this case, I find it impossible to choose either/or. This is not a black and white topic for me. Circumstances do come into play and there are many grey areas. So many.

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  11. Ah, this is an interesting topic. I think the answers may depend on those you ask. I believe that there is right and wrong, and that there is also grace and mercy. Have a great weekend!

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  12. I think the answers are highly individualistic, as well as being based upon one's inculcated cultural values. In the end, one must face the person in the mirror, and despite what we think beforehand, when one must make those decisions that is the only opinion one absolutely has to take into account.
    Having said that, there are things which I absolutely cannot and will not condone, and others I am more flexible about.

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  13. I think its been too long of a week for me to come up with a very thoughtful answer to your question you posed. Something that takes a lot of thinking and then I'm not sure a good answer would come up .Its wrong to kill, but at the same time, its right to kill someone who wrecks havoc on a lot of people. Wrong to steal, but if my children were hungry, wouldn't I be apt to want to do anything to give them something to eat? So I'm not really too sure. Need to spend some time digging into this.

    betyt

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  14. While I have my morals, nothing burns me up more than someone trying to push their beliefs on me and judging me as immoral because I don't believe the way they do. For example, the pro lifers will talk about life beginning at conception. I don't see a bunch of newly dividing cells as anything but the potential to become a human. Though I am pro choice, I would never choose to have an abortion myself. As for what someone else does, it's not my business. People get all high and "moral" with their attacks on people who abort by calling them murders. The Christian right can claim to be so moral but aren't willing to help these fetuses should they ever become human--cut programs for the poor. etc. They sit on their high horses judging me as immoral because I'm willing to allow a woman to make her own decision. Suppose a baby was in a science lab with a crate of 2,000 fertilized eggs. You can't carry everything out of the building, so you have a choice: save the baby or the 2,000 (life begins at conception) eggs. Sorry, but I'd have to choose the kid, and that doesn't make me immoral.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2015/01/happy-birthday-baby.html

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  15. I love thought-provoking posts such as these.

    I find theft to always be wrong, and yet ( I might contradict myself) there are times when it is understandable to do so, such as when someone is starving and their back is against the wall, so to speak, but I would suggest stealing to be a last resort. After begging and pleading.

    great post

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  16. To my rape, killing, attacks, and huge theft is wrong.

    If someone steels a pen from work? No big deal. Most everyone walks off with a pen, but you walk in with one to.

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  17. There is right and wrong - but God judges the intents of our hearts.

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  18. I agree with Ginny.
    I think we all strive to act in a moral way.
    However, if stealing is the only way of providing food for your family - it would be immoral to live by the letter of the law in this circumstance.
    In some societies there are no food banks.

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  19. Stealing a bread is a small thing and we can blame the circumstances for that, but if a person commits a bigger crime then he or she should be punished .

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  20. Given I describe myself as the worst kind of bastard with morals of an alley cat, maybe i shouldn't answer...but I am compelled.

    Basically, I think right, wrong, good, and evil are all human made constructs. No other species on this planet has such things built into their behaviors. That said, the black and white is rather fucking boring. The shades of Grey[;p] make it interesting.

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  21. If I caught someone stealing a loaf of bread because they and their family were hungry, I would probably give them several loaves and enough for several meals, and then try to get them a job so that he or she would never have to steal again. Life isn't always wrapped up in a neat little package of black and white. The older I get the more I realize that.

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  22. If I caught someone stealing a loaf of bread because they and their family were hungry, I would probably give them several loaves and enough for several meals, and then try to get them a job so that he or she would never have to steal again. Life isn't always wrapped up in a neat little package of black and white. The older I get the more I realize that.

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  23. Definitely shades of grey here. With a few decided blacks. Cruelty and abuse are wrong. Always. Many of the other crimes I am much more circumstantial about.

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  24. Morality is not a black and white issue in my opinion. Deep topic here today Keith!

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  25. In my mind also some things are wrong. They just are. Killing an innocent person is wrong. Rape is wrong. I don't believe it can ever be right. However in so many other things, there are gray areas and circumstances to consider. Wow! This is such a thought provoking post, Keith.

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  26. Deep subject...Having lived a long life and learned a lot from experience...I have come to believe that morality depends on doing what you can live with without having to deal with a guilty conscience. Abraham Lincoln summed it up well, "When I do good, I feel good....When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion." Pretty much the way I feel about it now.

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  27. Cool subject. No I don't think it is black and white It is morally right to steel a bread for a hungry person I think and yes different cultures have different moral values. However there are some intrinsic values which are in all human beings. I think nearly all people feel that hurting people is wrong

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  28. According to Kohlberg, what you see as moral is completely dependent on your stage of development. A person can justify not stealing bread because he knows the law says that stealing is wrong. For others any societal norm that prevents a man from sustaining himself is an unjust one; therefore, breaking the rules of this society to sustain oneself would be moral and just.

    Kant would say that there are moral imperatives and that even if one has good intentions, the outcome of said intentions serve the basis of judgment.

    Mill says that what is moral is equated to that which makes the most people happy, but he also says, like Locke, that we are entitled to whatever opinions and actions we want so long as it does not violate a social contract or cause real harm to any other person.

    I tend to stand on the side of Mill myself. While I believe that what we see as moral is a social construct, if we are to hold these norms to any kind of universal standard, what we should expect in the way of an outcome is that while we allow ourselves the latitude to disapprove of those sentiments and actions that challenge our accepted norms, we allow their occurrence so long as they cause no real tangible harm to any other individual.

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  29. I think morality is a personal issue. I do think it is relative. There are some factions of society that would deem something immoral that another faction would not. It depends on your perspective. That being said, I think there are basic laws of morality that stand firm no matter what, such as not committing murder, abuse, assault, robbery, etc. These are already written in the code of humanity. But....there are also codes of morality that necessarily have to change with the times. Some things that were once considered immoral, have an enlightened view. Here I am talking about things like homosexuality, transgender, speaking against certain religious dogmas, etc. The basic tenets of morality remain fixed, but the definition of what fits those tenets are fluid, according to our level of awareness and growth. The reason I think morality is a personal issue or should be is because so many societies use morality laws to control and discriminate segments of society. I am thinking of Saudi Arabia with their strict morality code that does such harm to women as one example. There is a problem with government dictating morality and that would be why. An interesting issue....I am firmly on the side of relativity.

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  30. Hmmm..so interesting. If I were starving I would not steal bread , I would ask to have some but that would be hard for me too. I think we are led by what lies within. And we are all different so we must be careful not to judge why people do what they do.

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  31. I believe Keith, there's a thin line that demarcates the right and wrong, it 'hurt'.
    If something affects someone in any such way that it hurts him or her, or maybe his or her privacy, or any other form, its wrong.
    The right way is to find a method to sail through it ensuring that everyone is safeguarded.
    This is open to interpretation, like everything else, as the line doesn't really exist, just that we've manifested it.

    Morality I believe has two standards, personal and social. So whichever frame of reference you choose, the standard is then modified on the basis of 'hurt' policy.

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  32. Yes it depends on the circumstances, but that can also excuse ( and has excused) some very horrific crimes against humanity.
    I beleive in siritual laws, and in that sense for me morality in a sense is absolute - but diverse in its interpretation

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  33. It would be if everyone had the same, but it is not, poor pity.

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  34. Right is right and wrong is wrong - we all know in our hearts the difference between them, although there are some grey areas that are neither one thing or the other and shouldn't be worried over too much.

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  35. I do believe there are right and wrongs.. I think punishment should be based on the crime..I could not punish someone for stealing bread if they were hungry. I agree there may be better ways of getting what you need other than stealing.. Tough question and post, Keith. Have a happy weekend!

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  36. I am such a rule follower that it's almost nerdy :) I do believe there is only B&W when it comes to right and wrong.

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  37. Good laws are made for the well being of society and the only time it is moral defensible to break one is when it is for the well-being of another person (ie, the stealing of a loaf of bread). But I am sure we could down a lot of bottles of wine on this one!

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  38. Before I went to college and became a philosophy minor a year and a half in, I used to see things in black and white. After taking several ethics classes (those classes were my favorite), I began to see the world in more gray scale. I don't think morality is black and white; how could it be? There are so many nuances in life, that it's so hard to have a concrete answer.

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  39. God's laws are black and white. The world's laws are more of a grey area.

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  40. Philosophy on a Saturday morning. Don't know if brain is awake enough for it ahah. Not enough chocolate either ahahah
    I believe that there's right and well it is The right and there's wrong and it's oh boy so wrong. Then there are million of grey areas. Like the loaf of bread... but not cigars... and no I don't smoke... and love bread. So my judgement is already tainted by my likes. And someone did worked for that loaf of bread and might have so many difficulties to pull off all his duties that stealing from him/her would be so wrong and unfair. The person in hungry and can't afford to buy. But the baker is selling the bread so he can feed his own children (I remember a friend going through a tough divorce and she stopped eating meat so her kids would have their share and money didn't allow her to have it. So I'm thinking somone stealing the pasta she just bought for her next meat-free meals. Oh boy :()
    And culture DO weights and measure all in. Sometimes I wish we didn't evolve so much as in to be always snooping and meddling on other culture's moralities and standards. But it might be the emotional coward me speaking.
    And then, there are so many things happening that by allowing the rule "well, their home, their country, their religion, their costumes" we'd be condemning the entire human race. Or not?!
    I'm not good for this kind of discussion because my mind runs havvock with so many scenarios and I tend to get lost in that gray areas ;)
    Enjoy the weekend Keith! I'll be thinking about this that's for sure...
    Yours,
    Teresa

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  41. Black and white seems less the older I get, although the passion for justice is more.

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  42. Hello Keith,

    This is a highly complex question which you pose here. And, there are probably as many variations of reply as there are people on the planet. The debate amongst your commentators is testament to this.

    However, for us, we often wonder what kind of moral compass do people have these days upon which to base their moral decisions? Looking back to our childhoods, some time ago now, life seemed rather simpler and the rules of social engagement of all kinds were so much more clearly defined. The Church played a significant role in this. But, nowadays, so much seems driven by the individual rather than a larger society or community and so, morals are far more 'flexible'. One person's right is another's wrong and there always seems to be a justification for the action, however bizarre it may be. But, what of responsibility, we ask?

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  43. There is always a right and a wrong. However, the situations that result in an action being right or wrong have a thousand variations. That's why I believe your question has a thousand answers. It does depend on the situation. It does depend on the circumstance. And the person. IMO, religion has so many people turned around, blurring right and wrong. I believe that discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation is wrong. I will always believe it's wrong. Many religious people don't feel that discrimination is wrong. Who's right? I 100% believe I am, and they 100% believe they are. Who is going to say I'm right and they are wrong, or vice versa? I guarantee there are plenty of people in both camps, circumstance leading you to either view. That was just an example. Humans are complex, and have an many variations as anything else on this planet. Morality is the same. Complex, varied, and circumstantial.

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  44. There is some things that are just plain wrong. i.e. just walking up to some random person and shooting them in the face. But many rights and wrongs are all relative. Depends on circumstances.

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  45. My belief is there is right and wrong and there is a gray area in all the right and wrong. Stealing is wrong, murder is wrong, hate is wrong.. the 10 commandments tells us right and wrong. the gray area comes in on murder as in if someone is trying kill me and I kill them, it is still murder but justified. I do know there is now more wrong than right in this world.. there is one commandment that could answer this IF we could abide by it.
    Love each other as you love yourself... that would stop all the wrong things. it is NOT going to happen, never has and never will...

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  46. right and wrong, balance of all things, its when the scales tip to the wrong ,, so sad, a constant battle,

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  47. Right is right and wrong is wrong....period. It is wrong to steal the bread regardless of your circumstances and it is wrong for society to have allowed such a desperate condition to have existed in the first place.

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  48. what is right and wrong is determined by society...it becomes a judgement call...we choose some behaviors that are disliked by enough people and make them wrong...perhaps for the greater good...or because we all follow some guiding principle...it is when the actions are not as clearly defined when we start to struggle...murder is bad...making money is good...making money on weapons that kill people...well...

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  49. Everything we hold as right and wrong is a construct of society. As a society, we're pretty well in agreeance that murder is wrong. But there could be a time when that changes.

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  50. a definite right and wrong? absolutely. . motive is the ground of that judgement. Recognition of I AM's authority, the moderator!

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  51. There are definitely some shades of grey in everything. High morals and a conscience make the difference in making decisions.

    Big hugs, honey...

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  52. I'm very against stealing but I think if I was hungry I could. I know a lady who comes from a large poor family. She likes to tell stories about stealing as a child. I can understand why she may have had to but I don't think it's something to brag about as an adult.

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  53. I think it varies from person to person, but the problem is, even serial killers can justify to themselves that what they're doing is right. So the question then becomes, "Who makes the rules?" If you're religious, it's God, but many of us even have our own interpretations of the Bible, based on what we've learned over the years.

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  54. Hi Keith,
    I think there are gray areas in morality. To me, personal and societal morality is fluid and changing. Adapting is key to our survival. If I went without food for a food days I think my survival instinct would override my moral dilemma. Thought provoking post as usual, thank you. Hugs.

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  55. I do think that morality is grey, not black and white. There are general rights and wrongs, but there can be some circumstances that make a wrong more right (like stealing a loaf of bread). I think this is why we have the court system that we do- to see if the reasons behind the wrong change it in any way. In some countries the laws/views are more black and white with specific punishments no matter what. Interesting to think about for sure!
    ~Jess

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  56. Society decides what's right and wrong and what is acceptable and what is not. It is constantly changing too.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  57. Hi, Keith!
    English writer Charles Dickens thought and wrote a lot about 'right or wrong' when one is on the verge of starvation and stole a loaf of bread. I can give some bread to the needy and think the moralist always have to consider the circumstances.

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  58. I think morality is a very elastic concept. There are global rights and wrongs.. societal rights and wrongs.. and personal rights and wrongs. We're thinking, logical beings and so circumstance always matters. You just won't ever get everyone to agree on what moral conclusions are drawn from them... hence the personal rights and wrongs.

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  59. Great topic. In the late sixties, I used to meet with a very dear retired Polish priest from time to time to discuss the subject with him, and he got into the whole "menial sin" vs. "mortal sin" with me. (I wasn't Catholic, just liked talking with him) Then the Situation Ethics movement started in Denmark, I think it was. I had a great book about that line of thought, which amusingly enough, a minister borrowed and never returned. (Tickles me, anyway.)

    Bottom line, I don't think right and wrong is a cut-and-dried thing. There's a lot of gray area. Like ordinarily, I can't imagine myself ever doing bodily harm to another human being, but if that person were attacking someone, I would do whatever it takes to protect the person in danger.

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  60. As a long time fence sitter with splinters to prove it, I see lots of gray. The danger in my position is not to rationalize all actions. Some actions cannot be excused. Cruelty to children, old folks and dogs are kind of tops in my book that have no wiggle room.

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  61. We need black and white to make decisions whether they are law or our own law for our own dignity. Now this is where the grey part comes in. When it comes to the well being of oneself(self-preservation) and/or well being of ones' family and friends then we must look at the deeper issues. If one is starving, stealing bread to survive is not a bad thing. How many people do this daily to survive. My own mother did this after the Russians marched in. We should not kill but, in times of war, people have and have received medals for it. When we look at the World Wars there were times that killing was just for it meant a tyrant would not win but there have been killings, on both sides during war (excluding the holocaust here which is always beyond inhumane) which were truly horrible. Many battles have been shown about the injustice of the Germans against the Allied forces but there are other battles that where the Allied forces were also horrible like in the case of Dresden (which my mom survived). My dad was a Canadian who fought in the war and killed but it was kill or be killed. This is the grey. The sad thing is when do people see this difference and will they stand up to their beliefs? We think we would but I just watched a Science program where average people, men and women, we told to give an electric shock to someone in the other room whenever that person got the question wrong. The person administering the shock could hear the other person receive the shock. Now this person was not actually getting the shock but the person "giving" the shock didn't know this. Almost all gave the shocks and they were to increase in the amount of shock. When it got to 150 volts(I think it was that), the man "receiving" the shock was screaming in pain stating he can't take any more and it is affecting his heart. The Scientist sitting behind the person giving the shock would tell the person to continue as this was the experiment. MOST CONTINUED! They really believed they were giving shocks and many didn't want to and pleaded with the scientist that they should stop but, when all was said and done, most continued. When asked who was to blame, some stated themselves but others blamed the scientist. There was one woman who refused to give any shocks and said this was morally wrong and she could not do it in her own beliefs and left. What does this say?

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  62. An endless discussion....but the core is good v bad....but what is good to one person, one culture.....and on and on we go...

    Justification....where, when and why......

    Oh, don't do this to me early on a Sunday morning!! :)

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  63. I guess there are some basics that ought not be overstepped anywhere, anytime by anyone, but as one gets older, so many things that were black and white are now grey.

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  64. This is a question long debated. I have never been able to give a simple answer. If I answer 'simply,' I immediately think of cases where my answer is not true....where there are exceptions. Thus I don't think I feel comfortable tackling this one.

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  65. This is a hard subject and I am not sure I can answer as it depends on the situation. In some cases I can clearly say right or wrong, but sometimes there is a gray area.

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  66. I believe deep inside, we know fundamentally what is good and what is evil ~ Everything in between are shades of right and wrong ~ Some say killing is wrong but what if it was done out of protection, then the guideline changes to it depends on the situation ~ But this is a difficult topic and not all things are black and white ~

    Grace

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  67. It's only matters to the individual you ask and their circumstances. There is nothing in nature that says anything is right or wrong and it only matters to the mind of a man's when he is looking to survive. These days, the primitive side of us is still there, but we have luxuries (like grocery stores) and this means we don't have to fight each other to save ourselves. But, oh, you betcha our compassion goes out the door if there is one loaf of bread left and you and your neighbor want it to feed your family. Torture, on the other hand, is completely useless. That is merely from a brain gone bonkers. However, if it's one caveman wanting to get his cavewoman back from another caveman who kidnapped her, the caveman would see torture as a tool.

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  68. Really I think we know when something is wrong or wright but really is different to some persns, but some things are really clearyKeith (like some wars, when died kids or when we dont see justice anyway a lot of things you know,

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  69. Really great debate - I've always thought that in many cases the areas can become blurred, especially with the example you mentioned and within cultures. I think a lot of issues can seem very clean cut on the surface too but when you take a closer look it becomes apparent that it's very dark and complex, like war for example. I love it when you do these interesting posts Keith, always makes for good conversation. - Tasha

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  70. I say yes there is right and there is wrong. We can rationalize why we do something wrong but it is still wrong.

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  71. I wish things were black and white all the time. Everything would be so easy then. We'd barely need to think. Or reason. Or struggle over what to do.

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  72. I'm in something of a moral quandary with regard to your vote on my Battle of the Bands post. Did you vote for The Temptations just to yank my chain since I stated in bold two times that you absolutely CANNOT vote for them? Or are just stating an opinion about The Temptations and are choosing not to vote? Or are you trying to send a message that if I don't want someone to vote for a band I shouldn't post it (period) just to keep people from doing it???? ::Quandary::

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  73. i'm too shallow for thoughts this deep.
    I've lied when I thought the truth would cause harm,
    But was it the right thing to do? I couldn't be the judge of that.

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  74. I would have to agree with Robbie.

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  75. There are sometimes circumstances that make us walk the line on issues, for instance the hungry person who steals something to eat. Or a woman steals to feed her children because they are living on the street. But if the same person steals alcohol or cigarettes, that is just plain stealing because it is not something necessary for survival. The circumstances should be taken into account and maybe leniency should be granted as well as some help.

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  76. Hi, Keith. :) I like Janet Martin's answer.

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  77. Keith, I do think there is right and wrong but the older I become the more I realize the world is not black and white... it really is made up of grey shades. I think this is a tough question to debate and I am not even sure there is a correct answer.... All I know is for me, I am glad I am not the one to judge another.. I have too many imperfections of my own...

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  78. Yes, I do think there is such a thing as right and wrong...I mean, murder for instance, can only be viewed as wrong in any circumstances. But I guess that is an extreme. There certainly are many shades of grey along the way...and as you rightly say, morals vary from place to place. None of us is perfect. I know I'm not ;)

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  79. All I know is that the debate around morality (whether black or white or the more likely shades of grey) can (and really should) be trumped by forgiveness.

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  80. Great question. And when you find the answer, let me know. I've of the mind that some things are always morally wrong: greed, covetousness, murder, invasion, stealing out of some of the above motives, and then other actions are situational: defending yourself and loved ones from harm, stealing food to stay alive, etc. Some things are just clearer than others.

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  81. Yep, yep....the very same questions I've asked over and over again.

    To have the urge to take a loaf of bread to keep from starving...what's wrong with that? But on the other hand....how 'bout panhandlers that may or may not be poor or 'out of work' to be seen at a liquor store after collecting money on a street corner? There are so many issues...women having to cover their faces in some cultures or be shot by a firing squad...there are so many many things to question.

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  82. This is one of those questions where I've read all the answers and agreed with each of them - even the ones opposing each other. Suffice to say, I am not a philosopher!

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  83. You are amazing Keith! Just married and you have time for these weighty thoughts! Now what was that question?

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  84. I think it depends on circumstance honestly. There are some things I see as black and white. murder ... rape etc... but as an attorney and just a human ... there are soooooo many shades of grey!

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  85. Quite a challenging question, Keith! I read through all the comments, and I had some very interesting thoughts. Many people would consider murder worse than rape, since rape victims usually survive. But I can think of circumstances where I would defend murder. For example, if home invaders attacked my family. But I cannot think of any circumstances where I would defend rape.

    Morality is confusing.

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  86. I think no one can answer it accurately... and the debate seems eternal. The circumstance and perspective are also a part of it and can't be the reason quite.

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  87. The blacks and whites have diminished as I have grown older and it seems from the comments here that I am not alone :) Barring mental illness and/or brain washing from an early age, and given all of the facts, most of us can figure out the "right" answers to moral questions when we look inward. The question is whether we are willing to listen to that inner voice.

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  88. I think there is a definite gray area, which you demonstrated with your examples.

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  89. I think like with any question there are shades of black and white. You can do a bad thing but for the right reason. Does that still make it a bad thing? I don't know.

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  90. I think it's all relative, though some things are always wrong (abusing kids, for example).

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  91. Many others have answered this more eloquently and intelligently than I ever could. Enjoyed all the thought-provoking comments!

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  92. I don't think we live in such a black and white world. Some rules are meant to be broken, under certain circumstances. Like the food theft for starving people. Desperation makes us to things we wouldn't normally do, and sometimes we need to have compassion for those situations. However, I think there is a moral code all humans should live by and not break, like murder, rape, abuse, etc.

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  93. I believe you gotta follow your heart even if all the world says You are Wrong..What is right for you is right !

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  94. Morality is definitely a grey area, but there are some rules that are fixed - like not killing, for example.

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  95. Difficult question. Without the 'laws' of morality, there would be chaos. That said,chaos reigns in some countries where its people believe they have a high sense of morality... I guess we confine or free ourselves with our own particular morality belief system. So really, I can't answer your question!
    Anna :o]

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  96. depends on the circumstances but some things are inherently wrong

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  97. I think that circumstances matter in most cases.

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  98. A new photo of Ol Grandpa Smokey on his bed was posted for you. Totally dig your blog and photos!!! Cheers From Colorado

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  99. I believe for the most part, it is wholly relative with few exceptions. However, everything can be subjective when broken down even further. I often wonder about the morality of not just an act but the intention of said act. Which is the one that proclaims the moral path? Ah, so much to think about! Great topic.

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  100. Hi There, I am one who normally follows the rules --but my hubby is even more a rule-follower than I am... Here's an example: I am a speedo---so when the speed limit says 65, I always manage to go about 70.... Doesn't bother me a bit to break that law a bit. BUT--hubby will NOT go over the speed limit at all... Guess we are all different when it comes to breaking the rules/laws. My answer to you question would be that there is always GRAYS out there --where the rules/laws do NOT apply....

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  101. I see it this way: Moral is black and white when everybody sticks to it. Take the theft example: Theft is wrong. Always. Even at the point of starvation. BUT if that person asked for help (e.g. the shop owner) it would be moral to always help out....so there would be no theft needed and everything would always be moral and the right is right and the wrong is wrong. The world just doesn't work that way because humans don't want to realize that compassion (and moral) can change the world for the better. I think there are cultural differences...but compassion is always considered as morally right, I think.
    A wonderful, thought-provoking post, honey! :)

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  102. I think that the fact that there is no black and white, right and wrong, is what makes life so difficult and fascinating. We are always trying our best and often our best still doesn't match the circumstances or needs of those around us. Life is messy and all kinds of gray.

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  103. I think there are about 50 million shades of gray on this subject.

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  104. Oh Keith… this is too deep for me… this hurts my brain…

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  105. I think the morality exists in big meaning as society moral and i more local meaning as the moral of family or the person. It's good if they are balanced in their equity, but opposite exists as well.

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  106. You do know how to generate comments! :)

    As for me, I do believe there are moral absolutes; however (and I'd italicize that if I could), you also need to take into account the situation. For example, I believe it is wrong to lie, but had I lived during the Jewish Holocaust in WWII Germany, it would have been immoral for me to reveal to the Gestapo the presence of Jews hidden in my home...

    This discussion reminds me a bit of lyrics found in Rich Mullins' song, Maker of Noses:

    They said boy you just follow your heart
    But my heart just led me into my chest
    They said follow your nose
    But the direction changed every time I went and turned my head

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  107. There is such a thing as right or wrong. To take without permission ie stealing is always wrong. No two ways about it! Perhaps circumstances help to temper it and lessen the degree of wrong as in the case of the starving person but still it is a wrong. Thoughtful thoughts Keith!

    Hank.

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  108. Both. Some things are always right or wrong, I believe. Other things shift with circumstance, community / societal norms, etc. The trick, perhaps, is always trying to find the line between them.

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  109. Good question (or should I say interesting question). Morality is a strong subject. I have recently pondered on the idea that morality, or the concept of right and wrong, depends on how it benefits the self and/or the community. If murder and rape limits that growth and health of a community, then it is considered unfavorable and therefore wrong. But if it benefits the community when applied to enemies (as in war) then it is considered favorable and therefore good. Something to think about.

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  110. I love your provoking thoughts! :) I do believe that there is one Truth in all of us---- the only "wrongs" that we do to others are essentially done to ourself. I once heard a wise quote along the lines of: "Your conscience is like a jagged rock inside your heart. Every time you do do something your conscience is against, it will hurt you. If you do this too often, the rock becomes smooth, and you lose the ability to connect what is right and wrong." Regardless of whether people believe what they are doing is NOT wrong, it is relative in that it will pave the path to the rest of their life--- will that life lead to a sense of joy, happiness, and fulfillment or a sense of despair, loss, guilt in which they feel they have no choice but to continue to lie, cheat or steal? In every human's heart I believe we have the inner guidance that leads us to our own personal peace, and that is the only Right we must follow. Those who have lost contact with themselves or feel no remorse... have a lot more troubles than just doing something wrong. Great question, great post.

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  111. right and wrong can be defined to perfection.there is definite right and definite wrong.people find excuses in the name of circumstances and culture coz they are opportunists.culture defines what's right and wrong to perfection,but people distorted culture too to say right and wrong varies across cultures.the human morals in purest form is culture.only a person who has led life that is naturally human can define right and wrong to perfection or flawless rationality.

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  112. The only true test of morality is the golden rule.

    Funny how "God's laws" are often a bunch of misogynistic, homophobic, racist, and disturbing rules. Written in a time of misogynistic,homophobic, racist, and disturbing people. What a coincidence.

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  113. Thanks for finding my blog and I'll follow yours now as well, it's very active, way more than mine was even at the peak of 50 or so views a day. I wrote the same entry myself and it's based on the golden rule, how would you feel if it happened to you, and based also on physical and property loss and damage, the protection principle in criminal law.

    In the end I believe everything is either wrong, beneficial or someone else's business, and just a matter of looking into each area deeply enough to find out. I've described wrong, beneficial is usually obvious but not always, and other people's business is their choice and opinion when it does not affect you. Something the governments insist on pitching in on whether we want them to or not, even though they work for us.

    But blaming atrocities on 'cultural differences', at the worst level, is colluding and actually encouraging these things to go on, most of which tend to be crimes outside the countries they are prevalent in, but not their own, because countries and people develop at different rates and are not very affected by what happens elsewhere in the world.

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  114. Well, as a Christian, I would say yes, there is real right and wrong. It's found in the Bible.
    For example, I believe it is always wrong to steal, BUT the fact that no Christian (or anyone for that matter) has helped that person who must steal to avoid starvation, is also terribly wrong. They should have never had to reach that point.

    Kristin // The Peculiar Treasure
    athisfeetdaily.blogspot.com

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  115. In terms of what written in philosophical/moral/religious texts, of course you'll get lots of different ideas about what's right or wrong. But I think any individual who believes they're fundamentally good and who follows their heart is unlikely to find themselves in the wrong. I associate myself as a Muslim, but because Islamic education was never a part of my upbringing and because I feel too formalised and overwhelmed reading religious texts, I have my own ways of connecting to the Creator and to good forces, and I don't think they're specific to a religion at all. I think ultimately the path to true morality has to be lit by the light in your own heart.

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