What about Fixed Morality?

Welcome reader to another “impossible to prove conjecture Tuesday”. Today I’ll be looking at the grievously problematic notions of modern morality.

The Christian church; that would be the catholic one, not the Orthodox, Church of England or any of the Eastern Churches. They believe that morality comes from God and we learn about his morality through his words which are documented in the Bible. Everything from thou shall not kill (Deuteronomy 5:17) to no buggery (Timothy 1:10). There is a golden rule theme running through the Bible’s moral thinking which is especially evident in the new testament.

But ultimately the important thing about the authority of the Bible and God for Christians is that the morality is fixed. It’s not relative to the times you live or person you happen to be interacting with, nor relative to your position in society or attributes therein. It’s something that applies to everyone and it brings Christians a sense of stability.

But I am not a Christian, to me the Bible is a 1,500 year old unaccountable narrative of man’s accent from chaos and into a more ordered society. So I can not use it as an anchor to say what should be moral and what be immoral. But I can use it as a set of good ideas, thinking which was done long before I was born which I can incorporate.

As the modern world progresses and we unshackle ourselves from old religious dogma, there is a tendency to think that everything is relative, even morality. Somehow morality itself is in doubt if it’s possible to show situations where it would be considered the other way about. The best example is murder in self defence, by accident or deliberate? with a weapon or without? all these complicating factors which would suggest the morality is simply a weakened with complexities.

But, that’s over thinking things. Murder is immoral because you intend to do harm to someone else, murdering yourself isn’t immoral in itself because you’re doing yourself harm (however it can be said that you are harming others, especially if you don’t tell them or don’t have their support). As the buda would say: killing things for a reason doesn’t remove the fundamental wrongful truth, it just provides motivation.

So my conjecture today is: The fundamental property of morality is causing harm to other people. The most basic tool to avoid causing harm is the golden rule philosophy. The best way to deal with causing harm is to find ways to undo or make up for what you’ve done and hope for understanding and forgiveness from others.

What are your thoughts?

6 thoughts on “What about Fixed Morality?

  1. Morality based on avoiding harm has drawbacks. The classic example is that that makes a society where one person lords over a bunch of well-cared-for, but dirt poor serfs preferable to a society where everyone has a chance to succeed, but one in a thousand fails and suffers.

  2. @Mike – If there is one lord and lots of serfs, then the lord is perfecting immorality by causing harm to all his serfs via lack of freedom. Taking internal, individual options away from someone who has not given them to you, is immoral as it causes harm.

    Of course you can still give your freedom away.

  3. @doctormo But the serfs have the freedom to choose, they can submit to the lord and receive the minimum needed to qualify as “not harmed” or they can flee to the wilderness and live outside the system. What the lord/serf scenario denies to the serfs is oppurtunity.

  4. @Mike – What the system does is deny the surfs the opportunity to be involved in their own society’s choices. That is harm, however you look at it, harm isn’t just about starving or being hit with a stick, it goes to the core of what freedom is and how choices are internalised into personal discretion or externalised into society wide policy.

    A person involved in a society they have no say in isn’t free, and is harmed under the duress of it.

  5. @doctormo Okay, the serfs democratically elect the lord. Now they have say in their society. If a vote came up to transfer to the second scenario I described, they should vote against it, by your logic.

  6. If they chose to be in a situation such as proposed, and never loose their rights to re-choose later, then there is no ill that I can see. After all the the lord isn’t a lord but an elected official and the surfs aren’t surfs but citizens. The definitions of both are pretty much tied to not having any control or say.

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