Sunday, February 2, 2014

Feb. 2 - Moral Absolutes

Sometimes the conversations I have after movies are a little strange. We discussed moral absolutes and whether there are any. Donna believes that there should be and that if everyone accepted this and followed them then the world would be peaceful.

Which is a nice pipe dream I think.

Moral absolutes are great, in theory, but there are always (or at least I always think of some) situations where something can be necessary even if it's still not ideal.

What do you guys think? Are there absolute rights and wrongs or is everything a matter of looking at the situation and making the best choice?


  1. I love that you discuss movies with your friends. You've mentioned that before, and I always enjoy hearing what you talk about.

    I think there are moral absolutes, but also there are gray areas. Probably the debate I come across the most is which things are gray areas and which are absolutes.

    1. There is always post movie discussion. :) We are highly entertaining people.

      That is the crux of the question - what are the absolutes and what are the grey areas? And everyone will have different grey areas.

  2. While reading the post I thought of course not. Everything is relative. Killing and stealing, for example, could be for a good cause or for a reason beyond one's self control. But then after some thought I think there can be cases with moral absolutes. For example, as sick as this sounds there are men who like to collect children's nude pictures. I don't think there is a gray area here.

    I think one of the most controversial issues particular to your question is abortion. In general, people are against it. But then there are horrible cases that may make us reconsider.

    What movie led to this discussion?

    1. See, that's just my thought! Everything is relative, until it isn't. I absolutely agree that pedophilia is an area of no grey at all. It is wrong. It is always wrong for adults to abuse children.

      Rape is always wrong.

      But then I turn and look at something like killing. Is it always wrong? No. That's why we have different words for different *kinds* of killing. Murder is wrong because it indicates the unjust taking of innocent life. Self defense is acceptable because (presumably) the other person was there to harm you. Execution of criminals? If the justice system works correctly (it doesn't always) the criminals are guilty of crimes society considers heinous. People killed in war? Were they enemy combatants or innocent bystanders? Is there an acceptable scenario where killing innocent people to get to one guilty person isn't mass murder?

      Abortion? Well. Is a fetus a person? If it is a person, is it's life more important than the life of the fully realized mother? At what point of damage do we say that the negative impact of the pregnancy makes the death of the fetus okay?

      There are people (I have been reading the arguments back and forth) who call the removal of Marlise Munoz from 'life' support the murder of her unborn child. Was this an abortion? Or was it the ending of a grotesque experiment, an attempt to incubate a baby in its mothers corpse? There are people out there crying murder over this.

      Is stealing always wrong? No. It depends on what's being stolen and for what reason. At least to my mind. Stealing money because you want more money is wrong. Stealing food because you or your family will starve, not so wrong.

      *laughs* Clearly I have thoughts about this stuff.

      Funnily, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. We were discussing Cerevin's actions and what he was willing to do for his cause.

  3. By the way, thanks for updating my blog's link and kicking me out of your blog list :)

  4. 'not' is missing in the previous comment.

    1. You're welcome and I figured that's what you'd meant. :)

  5. I watched it. It was too American for me :) You know good Americans vs bad non-Americans kind of a movie :)
    Anyway, seeing Keira Knightley was good enough for me :)

    1. LOL

      Yes, a very American movie in that way. Though I was vaguely pleased that they didn't make the bad guys Middle Eastern or Muslim. But I think that goes back to the source material. Not really my thing but Clancy (as far as I know) wrote Cold War-ish novels.

      And Christopher Pine was good enough for me. :)

      I'm planning on seeing Monuments Men this weekend. Nice, historical movie.

    2. I watched most WWII movies on Netflix of course the foreign ones :)
      If you have Netflix watch Downfall It is one of the best German movies about Hitler's final days in the bunker.

    3. I watched Downfall and it was a very good movie. :) You are now the official movie/tv recommender.

  6. I'm pretty late to the discussion, but thought I'd chime in anyway since morality is a topic that comes up a lot in discussions with my friends.

    I don't remember the blog, but at one point I was following someone who was a vocal atheist and then became a Catholic because she realized "morality" was basically her word for God. She believed it was something real, absolute, and personal but that it was being discovered by humanity so sometimes things seem relative as we're figuring them out.

    That makes sense to me, to an extent. I think "absolute" can imply that there is no personal element to it, that everyone should know something is wrong regardless of culture or experience, and that doesn't make sense to me. For some species, it seems like rape is the default method of reproduction, and I've talked to guys who have been reluctant to agree rape is always wrong, that maybe if the human race was in danger of dying out and the only woman in the world didn't want to have sex, reproduction and survival of the species trumps her consent. That's horrifying to me and I think those people are definitely, absolutely wrong...but I think that's an opinion I hold because of my experiences.

    For someone who doesn't know what rape actually does to a person, it makes sense that they might not understand. Discovering and defining morality is part of what it means to be people in community, which is why morality's always changing. Regardless of whether morality is absolute, if we all assume we have an absolute understanding of morality we won't learn from each other and won't be able to uncover it. So I think our systems of determining morality need to be flexible.

    1. I agree that 'absolute' implies that everyone should know that it is wrong regardless of culture, upbringing, etc. unless they are mentally 'deficient' in some way. And I'm pretty sure that that's what most people are thinking of when they use those terms. Just as I'm sure that they don't apply morals (absolute or otherwise) to the behavior of other species.

      Humanity is set apart in peoples minds because we think of ourselves as superior and *different* from other animal species - whether we believe that that's due to divine interference or the luck of the evolutionary draw. We're superior and therefore our behavior has different rules.

      It's one of the arguments I've heard against evolution, as silly as it sounds. 'If we're just animals then rape and killing other humans are a part of our nature.' Which is...not actually wrong. Clearly harming other humans *is* a part of our make up. We've just decided that it's not the best course of action for the survival/thriving of the species.

      The whole rape question is interesting in part because it highlights the different expectations of the genders and the different ways that we think about things. I would bet money that if you asked women that question they would *all* be horrified and agree that the womans consent trumps the survival of the species. And I think that that is due, in large part, to the fact that women have to live with the fear and knowledge that there is a very real and present danger of her consent being taken away or ignored in day to day life, let alone in a 'survival of the species' scenario.

      Men don't have that.

      I am very much in the camp of morality being an evolving thing.

      In spite of what many people say I believe that we are, generally, becoming more moral than we have been in the past. More concerned with how our actions affect the people and the world around us.

      Which is not to say that we don't still fuck it up and be assholes at one another because we are still human.


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