T Nation

Immoral Relativism


#1

Okay, I haven't started a thread in a while, and inasmuch as the brightest people with the strongest opinions about morality hang out on this forum, this seems like the place for it.

Below I have made a list, in no particular order, of thirty-six things that are widely practiced by members of the human race, and which are considered by a great number of people (most or all of whom are non-practitioners) to be bad.

Whether they are bad or not is not the point of this thread, but rather, how bad do you think they are in relation to each other?

A hard-core moralist or religious devotee may opine that sin is sin, and that the smallest is equal to the greatest in the eyes of God. Fine. They are entitled to this opinion. I want to hear from the rest of you.

Rank, if you will, the following practices, from 1 (absolute worst) to 36 (only a little bit bad).

If you have a legal background you may, for extra points, identify those practices which you perceive as mala in se, as opposed to mala prohibita.

You libertarians out there may omit however many you think are not bad at all.

Bear in mind that with only four exceptions, all of these practices are prohibited by the laws of at least one nation on earth, and with only a few exceptions, all of them are allowed by the laws of at least one nation on earth.

This should imply that morality is far from universal in our world. The results of this little exercise should confirm it.

Ready, go!

Smoking tobacco
Murder
Eating pork
Littering
Forced sexual intercourse (rape)
Prostitution
Smoking marijuana
Anal sex (male-female)
Driving while intoxicated
Sexual intercourse with an animal
Copyright infringement
Curling in the squat rack
Consensual sex between adult siblings
Voting Republican
Sexual intercourse with a minor
Shooting heroin
Child prostitution
Libel and slander
Drinking alcohol
Oral sex (male-female)
Voting Democrat
Consensual sex between adult 1st cousins
Chewing gum
Producing or viewing pornography
Oral sex (female-female)
Robbery and theft
Masturbating
Consensual sex between an adult and his/her parent
Sacrilege and blasphemy
Taking Ecstasy
Anal sex (male-male)
Producing or viewing child pornography
Oral sex (male-male)
Using a Bosu ball
Snorting cocaine
Gambling


#2

I notice that there is no listing for voting democrat.


#3

Yes, there is.

Right between "Oral sex (male-female)" and "Consensual sex between adult 1st cousins."

With no conscious reference that I am aware of to former President Bill Clinton.


#4

sorry - I can't read.


#5

Actions are only immoral if they involve taking a life (1), using force to coerce someone's behavior(2), infringing on someone's property which includes the use of fraud for such actions(3).

Smoking tobacco -- 36
Murder -- 1
Eating pork -- 36
Littering -- 3 (property infringiment)
Forced sexual intercourse (rape) -- 2
Prostitution -- 36
Smoking marijuana -- 36
Anal sex (male-female) -- 36
Driving while intoxicated -- 3
Sexual intercourse with an animal -- 36
Copyright infringement -- 3
Curling in the squat rack -- 36
Consensual sex between adult siblings -- 36
Voting Republican -- 36
Sexual intercourse with a minor -- 2 (if coercive)
Shooting heroin -- 36
Child prostitution -- 2 (coercion)
Libel and slander -- 36 (depends if it was used with the intent to defraud an individual of property or life)
Drinking alcohol -- 36
Oral sex (male-female) -- 36
Voting Democrat -- 36
Consensual sex between adult 1st cousins -- 36
Chewing gum -- 36
Producing or viewing pornography -- 36
Oral sex (female-female) -- 36
Robbery and theft -- 2 using force to rob is more immoral
Masturbating -- 36
Consensual sex between an adult and his/her parent -- 36
Sacrilege and blasphemy -- 36
Taking Ecstasy -- 36
Anal sex (male-male) -- 36
Producing or viewing child pornography -- 2 (coercive)
Oral sex (male-male) -- 36
Using a Bosu ball -- 36
Snorting cocaine -- 36
Gambling -- 36


#6

This list is very imaginative. Using various percepts to try and derive a concept...Plato would be proud!! ;D


#7

Copyright infringement on the same level as drunk driving? Outrageous!


#8

You are operating from the notion that a drunk driver will hurt someone or damage property -- In the very least it is disrespectful of private property.

I think the intention as well as consequence of an action are what really matter to decide morality. That someone makes a bad or dangerous decision is not in itself immoral.

Ranking morality is a bit silly though, don't you think? Who is to tell someone else how they should or shouldn't behave?


#9

Murder 1

Forced sexual intercourse (rape) 2

Child prostitution (when child is prostituted)2

Producing child pornography 2

Child prostitution (taking advantage of child that prostituted of forced to prostitute his/herself) 3

Viewing child pornography 4

Robbery and theft 5/10

Libel and slander 10

Driving while intoxicated 12

Copyright infringement 15

Littering 20

Sexual intercourse with a minor between 10-36 (depending on age, maturity etc of th eminor)

Child prostitution 36 (when child is forced to prostitute his/herself).


#10

Ok. Let's only deal with the consequences.

In the worst case, copyright infringement shakes the copyright owner off some money. Drunk driving kills and maims hundreds of thousands each year.

Sorry pal. I can't put a leg on the same level as cash.


#11

Note: the action was drunk driving only. Not killing or hurting someone while being intoxicated. You implied the worst of the consequences -- I only took the action at face value.

Another concern: what does it mean to be intoxicated? There are measures put out by official governments but is it really intoxication because someone deemed some arbitrary measure (.08 or .1, for example) as being a legal limit? Is someone with .06 who kills someone with a vehicle no less intoxicated or morally deficient just because some government deemed that limit perfectly legal?

I do not accept some other person's notion of intoxication where I my self am perfectly capable of acting and rationalizing.


#12

Note that a lot of these could have gradations depending on the underlying factual scenario. If I leave off a number I wouldn't consider it bad but I wanted to distinguish MP/MIS.

Smoking tobacco - MP - 35
Murder - MIS - 3
Eating pork - MP
Littering - MIS - 32
Forced sexual intercourse (rape) - MIS - 5
Prostitution - MP - 30
Smoking marijuana - MP - 36
Anal sex (male-female)- MP
Driving while intoxicated - MP - 25
Sexual intercourse with an animal - MIS - 15
Copyright infringement - MP - 30
Curling in the squat rack - MIS - 17
Consensual sex between adult siblings - MIS - 17 (I cannot get by the genetic "ick" factor on this, so MIS).

Sexual intercourse with a minor - MP - 25 if you are defining "minor" as fully developed post-pubescent; MIS - 2 otherwise.
Shooting heroin - MP - 15
Child prostitution - MIS - 2
Libel and slander - assuming it's actually false, MIS - 20
Drinking alcohol - MP
Oral sex (male-female) - MP
Voting Democrat - MIS
Consensual sex between adult 1st cousins - MIS - 25
Chewing gum - MP
Producing or viewing (adult) pornography - MP - 35
Oral sex (female-female) - MP - 30
Robbery and theft - MIS - 15
Masturbating - MP
Consensual sex between an adult and his/her parent - MIS - 20
Sacrilege and blasphemy - MP
Taking Ecstasy - MP - 25
Anal sex (male-male) - MP - 25 (just slightly "icky" to my mind, which leads to MIS qualification)
Producing or viewing child pornography - MIS - 2
Oral sex (male-male) - MP - 25
Using a Bosu ball - MIS
Snorting cocaine - MP - 20
Gambling - MP - 30


#13

This is a very thought provoking thread. I've dwelled upon it all day, in the back of my mind, while teaching my classes.

First: I think that crimes against children are not open to a vote or relative to a society. Moral choices implies that all parties have to be rationally capable of making a choice, something most children, esp the young ones, cannot do. Therefore, I'd make those crimes punishable by death (1).

Second: Variation in behavior is not, IMO, going to determine anything about moral absolutism. A society deciding that it is perfectly fine for a man to rape a reluctant wife, for ex, doesn't make such action correct.

Third: Moral relativism must still have some standard which it used to decide that moral relativism is correct. How else would relativists know they are correct in their relativism? Then they have to choose morally to be relatavist. How that is accomplished without a moral standard escapes me.

Good thread, Varq!!!


#14

You can't simply ignore the consequences. Obviously drunk driving will very often carry no consequences, but there is a serious risk that is inherent to the behavior and this risk must be included.

While not exactly black and white, copyright infringement is a bit easier to quantify, and as pointed out, its consequence is a loss of revenue, not unjustified death.

Also, someone with a .06 BAC can still typically be charged with a DUI if they fail a sobriety test.

As for your last statement, don't we all act just fine when we're drunk? I thought it was only other people that act foolish.


#15

Interesting idea, let's play Pat Robertson!

Too lazy to label them all with numbers. I mean, how can I "rate" these when even god botched this job in his book, leaving humanity confused which sin is more sinful, which repentance is adequate...
Instead I'll group them together.
The gravest acts are at the top.

Tier 1 -about 1 to 6- a hard crime: you shall be punished, asshole and if there is an afterlife, you certainly don't deserve a window seat!

Murder

Producing child pornography. Viewing and producing are separate worlds. I could tell you an interesting story about this.

Child prostitution [I take it's forced]

Forced sexual intercourse (rape)

Sexual intercourse with a minor [really young, like 6 years old]

Interesting: Most of these are sexual in nature.

Tier 2 -7 to 29- serious crime. No doubt about it, this is bad. There should be definitely some form of punishment.

Robbery and theft

Driving while intoxicated

Copyright infringement [Assuming you're doing this to cash in big time]

slander

Tier 3 - not real crimes, merely acts of irresponsibility and/or habits that bring some inevitable consequences with them. If anything, it's the parent's job to watch over this or oppose this, not the governments.

Libel

Sexual intercourse with an animal

Consensual sex between adult siblings

Sexual intercourse with a [consenting] minor [who's too young, like 13 years]

Shooting heroin

Drinking alcohol

Littering (edit: this is occasional small scale littering)

Taking Ecstasy

Gambling

Prostitution

Smoking tobacco

Eating pork (it's not bad, but I think twould be smart if parents explained their children that eating pork will probably be a luxury to their own (artificial protein slurping) children, and that cultivating animals for eating is probably ecologically unwise for the planet.

Sacrilege and blasphemy

These are no crimes at all, knock yourself out:

Oral sex (male-female)

Voting Democrat

Consensual sex between adult 1st cousins

Chewing gum

Producing or viewing pornography

Consensual sex between an adult and his/her parent

Curling in the squat rack

Smoking marijuana

Anal sex (male-female)

Using a Bosu ball

Snorting cocaine

Voting Republican

Oral sex (female-female)

Anal sex (male-male)

Oral sex (male-male)

Masturbating

Boy, all those anal-oral-with-man-on- top- me-in-the- middle- combinations are tiresome. Americans are as uptight as they are entertaining.


#16

A neat test, but it shows that beliefs in morality are not uniform across a given universe - it doesn't really demonstrate that morality is relative, unless you think every single person's scorecard is correct.


#17

Smoking tobacco - 30
Murder - 1
Eating pork - 36
Littering - 25
Forced sexual intercourse (rape) - 1
Prostitution - 10
Smoking marijuana - 15
Anal sex (male-female) - 36
Driving while intoxicated - 5

Sexual intercourse with an animal - 1
Copyright infringement - 15
Curling in the squat rack - 5
Consensual sex between adult siblings - 1
Voting Republican - 36
Sexual intercourse with a minor - 15
Shooting heroin - 10
Child prostitution - 1
Libel and slander - 20

Drinking alcohol - 30
Oral sex (male-female) - 36
Voting Democrat - 36, unless it is a national election, then .9
Consensual sex between adult 1st cousins - 15
Chewing gum - 36
Producing or viewing pornography - 25
Oral sex (female-female) - 36
Robbery and theft - 5

Masturbating - 36
Consensual sex between an adult and his/her parent - 1
Sacrilege and blasphemy - 10
Taking Ecstasy - 15
Anal sex (male-male) - 36
Producing or viewing child pornography - 1
Oral sex (male-male) - 36
Using a Bosu ball - 36
Snorting cocaine - 10
Gambling - 30


#18

May I humbly ask you, thunderbolt, why it is that when a lonely shepard fucks some sheep, he is commiting a crime as serious as murder?

I'd certainly live happier in a world, where drunken drivers are punished a lot more severly then sodomists.


#19

Did I rank that as 1? Put it at 5. Still, I have no truck with it.

And I am of Scots blood and heritage (mostly) - that was a hard score for me to compromise to. ;>


#20

But we are only ranking morality -- not whether a crime took place. I gave "Drunk Driving" a 3 because at the very least it is disrespectful to private property. We cannot judge morality based on some future event that may or may not happen.

I also give theft a 3 because it is a crime against someone's property. If the action takes place with force or coercion I would rank it 2.

The point was that the measurement is arbitrary. If someone drinks a sip of beer they are still technically "intoxicated" because they would measure greater than 0% BAC with a sensitive enough device. No one can really judge intoxication in more than relative terms.