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  1. #1
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    Is there any Moral Authority?

    I was in a discussion the other day with a friend, who, though not a subscriber to any organized religious tradition, was positing the notion that Moral Authority, as she called it, exists outside of human constructs — in effect, she is saying that we derive a common morality not from ourselves, individually or collectively, but from some authority beyond us.

    She went on to say that this was as close to an understanding of God that she has: the basis for morality, whose authority lies outside our critical view.

    I think this is somewhat akin to the epiphany that CS Lewis writes about in one of his books. Essentially, he came to the conclusion that he implicitly knew right from wrong, and that knowledge did not come from humans.

    I’m no anthropologist, but I think I can argue that this universal concept of right and wrong (conscience) is not universal.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crovash View Post
    I was in a discussion the other day with a friend, who, though not a subscriber to any organized religious tradition, was positing the notion that Moral Authority, as she called it, exists outside of human constructs — in effect, she is saying that we derive a common morality not from ourselves, individually or collectively, but from some authority beyond us.

    She went on to say that this was as close to an understanding of God that she has: the basis for morality, whose authority lies outside our critical view.

    I think this is somewhat akin to the epiphany that CS Lewis writes about in one of his books. Essentially, he came to the conclusion that he implicitly knew right from wrong, and that knowledge did not come from humans.

    I’m no anthropologist, but I think I can argue that this universal concept of right and wrong (conscience) is not universal.

    Thoughts?
    It's largely societal. In my opinion... It is curious however than almost all of the major religions teach something akin to the golden rule... but that in itself I believe is a product of societal influences.= Morality changes to much over the course of history for it to be considered universal.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPoon
    man with hair like fire can destroy souls with a twitch of his thighs.

  3. #3
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    Great topic! I think you know where I stand on this so let me simply ask another question...

    If moral authority does not exist... what “right” do you have to tell anyone what is right and what is wrong?


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by The20thK View Post
    Great topic! I think you know where I stand on this so let me simply ask another question...

    If moral authority does not exist... what “right” do you have to tell anyone what is right and what is wrong?


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    If it stems from society then society gives you that right.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPoon
    man with hair like fire can destroy souls with a twitch of his thighs.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by flips333 View Post
    If it stems from society then society gives you that right.
    It seems the argument against that is as follows: while society (comprised as it is of humans) may legislate right and wrong in terms of what is legal and what is not, it may be influenced by factors — usually factors dedicated to serving that particular society’s self-interest — which bring into question the moral authority that those laws are founded upon.

    I guess that’s what you mean by it changes over time, and I think most anthropologists would agree with you.

    So here’s the next question. Does the change over history indicate a movement towards an ultimate authority?

    I’ll use an example: what I mean is that slavery, once legal in the US, is now illegal. I think most of us would call that progress, and I doubt we’d advocate for a return to that state of affairs. And we changed it because it was the right thing to do? It moved us forward? If so, towards what?
    Last edited by Crovash; 08-24-2018 at 04:29 PM.

  6. #6
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    Is there any Moral Authority?

    But what basis do you have for right and wrong? If you do say it’s societal, well which society? In the 1840’s treating black humans as slaves was legal and right, from a societal standpoint. Was it right? Of course not.

    There is right and wrong and it’s not based on society because society often is wrong.

    Or

    There is no right and wrong.

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    Last edited by The20thK; 08-24-2018 at 08:42 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by The20thK View Post
    But what basis do you have for right and wrong? If you do say it’s societal, well which society? In the 1840’s treating black humans as slaves was legal and right, from a societal standpoint. Was it right? Of course not.

    There is right and wrong and it’s not based on society because society often is wrong.

    Or

    There is no right and wrong.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    That's your piss poor logic.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPoon
    man with hair like fire can destroy souls with a twitch of his thighs.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crovash View Post
    It seems the argument against that is as follows: while society (comprised as it is of humans) may legislate right and wrong in terms of what is legal and what is not, it may be influenced by factors — usually factors dedicated to serving that particular society’s self-interest — which bring into question the moral authority that those laws are founded upon.

    I guess that’s what you mean by it changes over time, and I think most anthropologists would agree with you.

    So here’s the next question. Does the change over history indicate a movement towards an ultimate authority?

    I’ll use an example: what I mean is that slavery, once legal in the US, is now illegal. I think most of us would call that progress, and I doubt we’d advocate for a return to that state of affairs. And we changed it because it was the right thing to do? It moved us forward? If so, towards what?
    The golden rule?

    I don't know if there is a destination. That is an assumption.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPoon
    man with hair like fire can destroy souls with a twitch of his thighs.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by flips333 View Post
    That's your piss poor logic.
    And yours is you need society to tell you what is right and wrong? Ok...

    So if not for society... you’d just go around raping and killing?


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by The20thK View Post
    And yours is you need society to tell you what is right and wrong? Ok...

    So if not for society... you’d just go around raping and killing?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Who the **** knows what any of us would do if our social structure didn't develop. I'm a product of my society... If I was born in 1700 I would probably not bat an eye at slavery.
    Last edited by flips333; 08-25-2018 at 12:09 AM.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPoon
    man with hair like fire can destroy souls with a twitch of his thighs.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by flips333 View Post
    Who the **** knows what any of us would do if our social structure didn't develop. I'm a product of my society... If I was born in 1700 I would probably not bat an eye at slavery.
    And yet... enough people did? Why?


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by The20thK View Post
    And yet... enough people did? Why?


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    Jesus magic.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPoon
    man with hair like fire can destroy souls with a twitch of his thighs.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by flips333 View Post
    The golden rule?

    I don't know if there is a destination. That is an assumption.
    Yes, the idea that we are moving (morally at least) towards a goal or destination is an assumption. I think in technical terms, at least here in the West, it is called a teleological viewpoint — that history is moving irrevocably towards an end goal.

    That, however, may well be a fantasy.

    For all we know, perhaps were are just going in circles (Eastern philosophy and religion would be more comfortable with that than those of us raised in the world of Western philosphical and religious traditions). As a friend of mine says: “No progress; just change.”

    If for the sake of argument alone, I stick with the original assumption — that we are destined to reach a moral absolute — the golden rule (expressed either positively, as in Christianity, or negatively, as it is in Confucianism); I wonder it that would that serve as the absolute?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by The20thK View Post
    And yet... enough people did? Why?
    I think there is more to this than simply some form of magic, and I think it is the very question at the heart of my friend’s observation. I’m guessing she’d say something resembling a moral authority says it is so.

    I don’t know.

    I’m still thinking that right/wrong is a social construct, determined by time/place/people. By the same token, however, don’t we accept that there has been “moral progress”, albeit very haltingly?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crovash View Post
    I think there is more to this than simply some form of magic, and I think it is the very question at the heart of my friend’s observation. I’m guessing she’d say something resembling a moral authority says it is so.

    I don’t know.

    I’m still thinking that right/wrong is a social construct, determined by time/place/people. By the same token, however, don’t we accept that there has been “moral progress”, albeit very haltingly?
    We accept it, but only because of the assumption that society is more right today than it was when we had slavery, or women couldn't own property.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPoon
    man with hair like fire can destroy souls with a twitch of his thighs.

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