Is morality subjective?

Are there such things as human rights? Can we use facts to argue against slavery or rape? If not, what can we use?

Posted: September 18th 2010

bitbutter www

Morality can mean different things, so I hope I can make my position clear by saying that I believe that moral facts don’t exist.

Human rights—a widely agreed upon set of standards about the ways it’s acceptable to treat humans—exist. If you meet someone who doesn’t share your foundational moral beliefs though, you may have a hard time agreeing on the acceptability of particular ways of treating people. This is true whether or not gods exist.

'Slavery is wrong’ or 'Rape is wrong’ are not facts. But this doesn’t mean it’s not possible to argue against rape or slavery. Doing so may be possible if the person you’re talking to shares foundational moral beliefs with you.

Some people might believe that rape or slavery are acceptable, in some instances, based on the idea that certain people are inherently inferior to others. To my knowledge I’ve never met someone who believes this. But if I did, it would be possible to press them on how they reached this conclusion.

Another group, who we call psychopaths and sociopaths, might not have any moral reaction to the idea of slavery or rape. Since there can be no common moral ground between an amoral person and yourself, there is no possibility of genuine discussion or persuasion when it comes to moral questions.

Posted: September 23rd 2010

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Mike the Infidel www

Yes, morality is subjective. But subjective and arbitrary are very different things. Once we determine what the basis for our moral claims will be – for example, if we determine that our morality is focused on reducing the suffering of living things – we can objectively work from there to determine what behaviors do and don’t promote moral goods.

This is what people do right now. Religious people tend to claim the basis of their morality to be the will of God, and work from there. But if there is no God, then the basis of their standard is just as subjective as any other.

Posted: September 19th 2010

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