Notices
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Is Morality an Open and Closed Matter?

  1. #1 Is Morality an Open and Closed Matter? 
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    924
    Is Morality an Open and Closed Matter?

    I suspect most of us would agree that principles of morality can and do legitimately vary from one nation to another.

    Within a nation would we also agree that principles of morality can and do legitimately vary from one political party to another? Would we also agree that such variation is legitimate from one state to another; or perhaps from one city to another or from one family to another?

    Is there a universal morality that overrides all community boundaries?

    In his essay Open and Closed Morality as published in the book of essays The Morality of Politics W. H. Walsh has written about the difficult and elusive concept of an ‘open and closed morality’.

    “You have a right to remain silent.” I guess all Americans who have reached the age of seven have heard this expression many times on TV. I also expect that all adult Americans agree that our nation was founded on the principle that all citizens have rights. Human rights are written into our constitution.

    ‘Right’ and ‘good’ are important moral concepts. Those who believe that all humans have certain rights are convinced that these rights supersede any consideration of the good. In other words, it is believed by some that humans, qua human, have certain inalienable rights that cannot be denied even in the interest of the good. These rights are considered to be universal and thus applicable to all humans wither they are members of my community or not.

    Those who hold the existence of such universal moral principles are considered to have an “open morality” while those who believe that such universal rights do not exist and only the good determines the moral are considered to have a “closed morality”.

    Walsh contends that those with the conviction of a closed morality “For them morality is, first and foremost, an affair internal to a particular community rather than a phenomenon covering the whole of mankind…[this individual] wants to make his own society as good as he can, rather than to construct some finally valuable Utopia.” The individual with a closed morality insist that the virtues on which they “insist are in the first instance communal virtues, and the vices they seek to avoid are modes of conduct which would disrupt socials life as such”.

    Those with an open morality hold that moral law “holds without distinction of persons…privilege and preferential treatment have no place in morality, which is a sphere of pure principle…that the moral law commands for its own sake and not for the sake of any good its observance produces or might be expected to produce, whether private or public…man’s only overriding loyalty is to the moral law itself.”

    Those with a closed morality are convinced that there are no rights, there is only the good. Any act that is beneficial to the community, i.e. is a common good, can be judged as moral or immoral based upon the consequences of the action.

    I consider myself to have an open morality; what do you consider yourself to be, are you open or closed?


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,525
    Coberst

    This is an interesting take on attitude towards morality and is analogous, I believe, to a numberof other discussions concerning it.

    For what it's worth, I ten to be what your chappie has defined as having "open" morality, but am painfully aware that the "closed" morality camp has at least this in its favour: there is a standard by which it can be judged and this standard can be justified in terms of its being a human one - almost a social contract.

    The "open" notion, on the other hand, is based upon ungrounded (incapable of being justified in terms of fundamental principles) ideas, attractive though they be.

    It's a dilemma.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    14,168
    False dichotomy. That's why it seems like a dilema.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    39
    If morals do exist how do we know what we call "right" is not infact "wrong" and we just have a bad perspective on things?

    Animals must have morals if we have them.. maybe they are not like ours and thats why we dont recognise them all the time
    Moral Hippo
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    924
    The present question regarding the nature and morality of torture offers us an excellent opportunity to advance the level of sophistication of our understanding of morality. We learn best when we are questioning a matter that is meaningful to us.

    I was eleven years old when Germany and Japan surrendered and WWII was finally over. One searing memory of this war were the stories I read and the movies I watched during and after the war regarding the torture and general brutality that the German Gestapo inflicted upon the people they conquered. I do not know why this left such a strong impression on me but it certainly did.

    Coincidentally I have been studying “Moral Imagination” by Mark Johnson. This is the same Johnson who coauthored the book “Philosophy in the Flesh” with George Lakoff. I have decided to apply the theories Johnson presents in his book as a means to illuminate this matter regarding the morality of water torture used by my country in our struggle with Islamic extremists.

    Moral understanding is like any other kind of experience; when we examine a domain of experience that relates to human relationships we must focus our attention on human understanding it self. If we do so we discover that human understanding is fundamentally imaginative in character.

    “Many of our most basic concepts have considerable internal structure that cannot be accounted for by the classical theory of concepts as defined by necessary and sufficient features…The primary forms of moral imagination are concepts with prototype structure, semantic frames, conceptual metaphors, and narratives.”

    To become morally insightful we must become knowledgeable of these imaginative structures. First, we must give up our illusions about absolute moral codes and also our radical moral subjectivism. Second we must refine our “perception of character traits and situations and of developing empathetic imagination to take up the part of others.”

    Empathy is a character trait that can be cultivated by habit and will. Sympathy is somewhat of an automatic response.

    When we see a mother weeping over the death of her child caused by a suicide bomber we feel immediate sympathy. Often we will come to tears. But we do not feel anything like that for the mother who may be weeping over the death of her child who was the bomber.

    To understand the bomber we must use empathy. We attempt through imagination and reason to create a situation that will allow us to understand why this was done. This is a rational means to understand someone who acts different than we would.

    “Empathy is the idea that the vital properties which we experience in or attribute to any person or object outside ourselves are the projections of our own feelings and thoughts.”

    The subject viewing an object of art experiences emotional attitudes leading to feelings that are attributes of qualities in the art object thus aesthetic pleasure may be considered as “objectified self-enjoyment in which the subject and object are fused.”

    The social sciences adopt a similar concept called ‘empathic understanding’, which refers to the deliberate attempt to identify with another person and accounting for that persons actions by “our own immediate experience of our motivations and attitudes in similar circumstances as we remember or imagine them”. This idea refers to a personal resonance between two people.

    “What is crucial is that our moral reasoning can be constrained by the metaphoric and other imaginative structures shared within our culture and moral tradition, yet it can also be creative in transforming our moral understanding, our identity, and the course of our lives. Without this kind of imaginative reasoning we would lead dreadfully impoverished lives. We would be reduced to repeating habitual actions, driven by forces and contingencies beyond our control.”

    Can you imagine an individual who is a hard headed realist and very accomplished at empathy sanctioning the use of water torture on anyone, friend or enemy?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,525
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    Can you imagine an individual who is a hard headed realist and very accomplished at empathy sanctioning the use of water torture on anyone, friend or enemy?
    You kind of answer yourself with this earlier, insightful, note...

    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    When we see a mother weeping over the death of her child caused by a suicide bomber we feel immediate sympathy. Often we will come to tears. But we do not feel anything like that for the mother who may be weeping over the death of her child who was the bomber.
    If you feel nothing for the person because you have made a moral judgement that has blocked your empathy, then yes, water boarding etc may seem entirely appropriate to you.

    The question would really be: "How do we still make ourselves follow our moral principles in scenarios where we do not have the same emotional/empathetic drive behind them?"
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    924
    [quote="sunshinewarrior"]
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst

    The question would really be: "How do we still make ourselves follow our moral principles in scenarios where we do not have the same emotional/empathetic drive behind them?"

    I think that acting correctly when we are in hot blood is a matter of preparation.

    In cold blood we study the matter and make a judgment as to what is proper. Then we develop the character traits that will make it possible for us to act correctly, i.e. as we have determined to be correct while in cold blood, when faced with the hot blooded situation.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    London
    Posts
    1,525
    [quote="coberst"]
    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    Quote Originally Posted by coberst

    The question would really be: "How do we still make ourselves follow our moral principles in scenarios where we do not have the same emotional/empathetic drive behind them?"

    I think that acting correctly when we are in hot blood is a matter of preparation.

    In cold blood we study the matter and make a judgment as to what is proper. Then we develop the character traits that will make it possible for us to act correctly, i.e. as we have determined to be correct while in cold blood, when faced with the hot blooded situation.
    Good response. Have you ever read Dennett's Elbow Room? He has a superb discussion of just this notion - what's the good of free will and how would we use it anyway?

    If you're interested in the varieties of free will worth wanting (his sub-title) I strongly recommend it, even though it's slightly more academic rather than popular literature.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    924
    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior

    Good response. Have you ever read Dennett's Elbow Room? He has a superb discussion of just this notion - what's the good of free will and how would we use it anyway?

    If you're interested in the varieties of free will worth wanting (his sub-title) I strongly recommend it, even though it's slightly more academic rather than popular literature.
    I have not read it. Thanks for the reference.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Ph.D. Darius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    817
    False dilemma. End of discussion.
    Om mani padme hum

    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    14,168
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    False dilemma. End of discussion.
    It didn't stop it when I posted this.
    False dichotomy. That's why it seems like a dilema.

    It didn't stop it on at least one other of the half dozen forums coberst posts the same essays on.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Forum Ph.D. Darius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    817
    It's not my fault everyone fails to realize that conversing with Coberst is like articulating to a Borg.
    Om mani padme hum

    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    It's not my fault everyone fails to realize that conversing with Coberst is like articulating to a Borg.
    I think you got it right in the other subsection where you frankly admit that you are like the borg. The borg have only a group mind so discussion is meaningless and thus you reply to the honest explanations about what one is thinking with these terse replies that discussion is useless. I think this is because you imagine that the world would be better off with a group mind (yours) controling it just as the borg do. But I think the borg are the essence of evil itself, a lower form of life like a microbe that devours higher forms of life. This is because I don't think the entire borg with its one group mind has any greater value than a single human individual.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Forum Ph.D. Darius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    817
    I'm sure if it were possible to be any more wrong, you'd find a way.
    Om mani padme hum

    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Forum Freshman LotusTiger's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    34
    I'd like to give a possible awnser to the question of differing moralities. Personally I think the good exists regardless if another person has a different conception of it? I'v acturally had this discusion before. We must not forget what the "use" of the word good is. Its "use" is to say something should be and the use of the word bad is to say what something shouldnt be. So everyone had their own conception of what good is? It's just the true good is what "your" Good is? We are the creator of values. Our morality, what's good is something we create. But it's truth is no more undone by it's artificialty.

    As for open and closed morality I'm open but I believe in an open morality which is also in accord with the good. Which for me is what I call the "great balance" which is that people have equal right not to suffer as to be happy. I think most people who are open are this way unconsciosly but the closed deffinity priortise happyness of a minority over the suffering of other and ignore suffering, I'm definitly not closed
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •