Dear Internet Diary,
It amazes me to observe the extent to which otherwise rational people are willing to disable their own moral judgement--and prohibit the judgement of others--to protect a favorite idea. How is it that people who promote reason insist on its end?
This happens every time the subject of Cultural and Moral Relativism is brought up. One part of the argument posits, since there are so many different cultures, customs and opinions, morality itself must be culturally relative. It's "okay" for other cultures, and maybe even other people in other cultures to have what we call "morals," but it's not okay for the two discussing the matter. In Moral Relativism, simultaeously nothing and everything is moral. In the first, the Holocaust and genocide is okay, because most germans supposedly agreed it was. In the second, the holocaust is both moral and immoral and everything in between, because everybody has an opinion about it. It's true and false, both and neither, that the holocaust was good, or didn't happen, or both.
It usually doesn't take more than one exchange before the moral or cultural relativist (often both at the same time) pretends to agree that the holocaust, or human sacrifice, or killing the elderly because some think they have outlived their purpose, is morally good. I am skeptical, however that the person is being honest, as they generally don't think that morality could ever be based on the facts of reality, yet they speak about honour killings, human sacrifice, and the The Holocaust, which are facts of reality. They are not ideals or hypotheticals. In fact, how can we not discuss facts of reality? How can we not make moral choices based on facts of reality? We have no choice but to make moral decisions based on reality. It's called "life."
If morality is culturally relative, then it is based on nothing but the majority opinion of the persons in a given culture. That is, assuming that we can have an objective limit on what that culture is and who belongs to it. That would be pretty rare, especially in the 21st century. All we can have is a subjective opinion on who makes up that culture, and what "they" think is moral! If majority opinion within a culture = morality, then the dissenters = immorality. Germans against genocide in the 30's are immoral. Atheists. Girls leaving Muslim families that want them circumcized. All immoral heretics.
Now, if morality is simply subjective, then no culture has a basis for morality, majority or not, even when it comes to protecting one's values, family or individual rights, against the moral judgement of others. Individuals should not attempt to have a moral sense or make moral choices, since it's "not based on reality--it's just their subjective perspective." If this hypothetical person were to manage any decision at all, it could not be moral. Of course, that's impossible. Every person makes decisions based on his values. There is no question that the values themselves exist. Sure, people make irrational choices, leading to disaster. But in order to survive, decisions must be made.
What do we call it when a person makes a choice based on his values? It's called "morality."
We know that "culture" is made up of individuals, and cultural action is made up of individual action. In cultural relativism then, individual action is invalid. Therefore, there is no moral justification for the culture. In this sense, to deny individual morality you must first allow for it!
People are so willing to rationalize themselves away from making damned sense. When I say "you can think for yourselves, you have moral autonomy, you have individual judgement," I mean it. Don't let this kind of nonsense back you into a corner, where you find yourself actually saying that mass-murderers are okay, force and coercion is okey dokey with you, and "it's all good." It's not "all-good. " How much are you really willing to tolerate?
Thanks for listening, diary.