Canadian National has brought up some points about good and evil.
I haven’t written about good and evil for a while, so I’m thinking we need a bit of a recap.
Popular positions on good and evil include the following:
Moral Absolutism: there is an objective standard of right and wrong, which we merely discover, and by which all behavior can be judged.
Moral Relativism: different standards of right and wrong apply to different people, and therefore we cannot judge other’s behavior.
Utilitarianism: no action is intrinsically right or wrong, but can be judged only by its effects.
Chanthaboune also reminded me inadvertently of Hedonism, which is a snazzy word for “If it feels good, do it,” an expression of moral position which was popular in my youth. I don’t know whether it is still popular or not.
Canadian National said, “My questions… are: can there be one code of morality? Can there be one definition of “respect”? Can we define things that were true for us as true for others? If the answers to these questions are “no” then how do we get along? There’s the challenge.”
So then I said, “I would answer that there really is one system of morality, though it has variations based on culture, time, etc. that cause the answer to question #2 to be “no.” And I would say the same for truth: there is an objective reality, but we interpret it and respond to it differently. And therefore, “how do we get along?” has to be answered with “Mostly we don’t.” I was being sassy there, but we have to admit that having different generations, cultures, etc. living together in mutually tolerant harmony hasn’t happened yet.
First, can you find yourself in one of the popular positions described above, or do you have another view?
Second, given that Canadian National and I have differing views of human morality, do we nonetheless have the same set of problems in dealing with those whose moral systems differ from ours? That is, if I think someone is wrong and she merely thinks he is different, does that affect the means we would have to take to get along with him?