Recently I've been involved in two debates which proved to be much more challenging and complicated than I first anticipated. I'm posting this here to get your opinions because I've thought about the issues and this is all I can do.
Moral relativism may be any of several philosophical positions concerned with the differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures. Descriptive moral relativism holds only that some people do in fact disagree about what is moral; meta-ethical moral relativism holds that in such disagreements, nobody is objectively right or wrong; and normative moral relativism holds that because nobody is right or wrong, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others even when we disagree about the morality of it.
The argument is more for descriptive & meta-ethical moral relativism.
What is morality? If we say morality is what is right or wrong, we hit a snag. While I may be tempted to use Sam Harris' argument, that if we grant happiness and well-being are good most of the time and preferably, we can tweak factors around us to maximize this for all and to ease suffering. But then the question comes unexpectedly, how do you prove that happiness and well-being are good? Because the outcomes of a well-off society is good? Why? What objectively makes this good? Because I'm claiming that happiness and well-being are "good", I have to prove this is the case.
But then failure to address this leads to serious consequences:
If I cannot demonstrate what is good objectively, then something cannot be proven to be good or bad. Then morality is relative. And if I rape you, that cannot be proven to be good or bad either way and is merely subjected to the opinions of people around me, in essence a morality opinion poll. But then that means rape, killing people, torture, these are neither good or bad. Rape causes unwarranted suffering? Prove to me suffering is bad. Because we don't want it? Is that a sufficient reason to say anything we don't want is bad? No, just that things we don't want that doesn't negatively impact others. It goes on and on.
This means I am logically justified to do whatever I want to other people. So now I'm stuck.
Some argue that morality literally changes as time changes and is only an opinion poll. I disagree. Then WTF is the opinion poll about? What is moral. So morality is about what people feel is moral? No, morality is about what IS moral, not what people feel is moral. I am tempted to say, slavery is bad and has always been b ad, us realizing it was bad later on didn't literally make slavery immoral, but rather it was moral the entire time, we just didn't realize it. Now we're back to why slavery is bad instead of why rape is bad, but I'm still not convinced the moral nature literally changes. Unless we're looking at what "good" is, if you argue that good is necessarily an opinion. I want to say that we build on what we know and things are tentative, like science. But that doesn't dodge the core question:
Why is something good?
What does 'good' mean?
To be desired or approved of, first definition from Google. This is solely based on other people's opinion.
Having qualities for a particular role. Nah.
What is morally right. Great, define morality as good, good as morality.
Benefit or advantage. To who and how do we objectively figure out what gives benefit or advantage holistically?
If I consider morality has having a definition that is subjective, I've just made the case for moral relativism. I can have the view that rape is good.
Does morality mean what is good or bad?
I've tried to attack this by attacking its utility: If we are both moral relativists and that is presumed to be the only option, what do we do as a society when I believe A is greatly moral and you believe B is greatly immoral? Now we're at an impasse. You can try to give me reasons for your opinion but I can flat out reject them and by definition I would be justified in holding my position that A is greatly moral because morality is subjective.
Trusting Our Senses
We know that taking things based on no evidence or bad evidence is a bad idea because it does not correlate well with actual truth. Ok, then explain to me how truth is found. By various processes, for example the scientific method where we test things and gather data and see if the data matches our conclusions, etc etc. Ok, example please. Well, if the acceleration of gravity is 9 m/s squared for me and others, then we know this effect is demonstrable. What if others report a result of 100 m/s and your eyes and senses deceive you?
Science is the best set of tools we have figure out how the universe is. You can use an 8 ball, flip a coin, etc but that doesn't correlate with how things are. But what data we obtain boils down to the data received through our senses. How do you verify such a sense is valid? Because I live daily and it has not failed me epicly.
Then you are justifying senses as accurate by using senses.
Is this circular? This is a question, do you think this is?
Because if that is indeed circular, we have no way of proving senses are valid without using our senses because it is all we have.
Then in that case, the world could be in any state right now to my ignorance. Me going up to rape you might actually be me giving you a hug and making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it's just that my senses tell me I am raping you.
Then how the fuck do we live our lives around this fact?
My main argument I can find is, practically speaking this approach is useless because then we're left with either you use your senses or you don't and sit there and rot and die. Because by living you are using and trust said senses.
See, both times I resort to attacking the practicality of such ideas, not whether they are valid in theory. Would it be hypocritical/contradictory to say logic cannot be applied in these scenarios? Then logic, reason, evidence is not applicable for figuring out what is true or not???
Can somebody, please, find a fallacy in the reasoning stated above?