Normative Moral Relativism

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by ExpectantlyIronic, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    It struck me the other day how people of different professions and roles in society tend to have certain ethics typical to people of their profession, and how their particular ethics could arguably aid them in fulfilling their role in society. Given as much, could it be a good thing that different people have different values?
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
    Sim likes this.

  2. Wade8813

    Wade8813 Registered Member

    Could you give examples?
    Sim likes this.
  3. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    I'm not sure if that's what EI means, but an example that comes to my mind is the different ethics and moral convictions necessary for the professions of a medical doctor vs. that of a soldier or officer.

    The former swears an oath to protect any life that's threatened and to treat any patient, regardless of the person. That's necessary for a good medical doctor.

    A military man, on the other hand, swears an oath to protect the country, explicitly including killing and harming other people if necessary. If a military man attempted to apply a doctor's ethics during war, he'd lose this war very soon, likely get killed, put his country at risk and certainly be a bad military man.

    Yet, both professions are crucial for any society.
  4. Wade8813

    Wade8813 Registered Member

    I would guess that's what EI is talking about - but if not, I'll at least address your examples.

    What about who's military job is medical? Would they be an example of reconciling the two? Or do they not match one group or the other (or both)?

    I know somebody who used to work as a nurse in a hospital, and was in the Navy Reserves. So he was fully immersed in both worlds - what about him?

    I haven't spent a lot of time around doctors, but it seems to me that a lot of them would only help certain patients (gang members, etc) out of a feeling of obligation to their oath, and not necessarily because they agree with it entirely. And many of them would be defend themselves with violence (though they might care for the person after injuring them... :dunno:)
  5. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    That's a good example. It exemplifies a kind of "schizophrenia" in our morals when it comes to war: Your first goal is to achieve a military goal, including killing and maiming your enemies -- but the moment the goal is achieved, you suddenly do the exact opposite by treating and protecting the life and health of the surviving enemies.

    Maybe this is a good example for the paradox of war ethics -- and your stance depends on how you see war. If harming and killing people is generally wrong, you will have to condemn war in general. But if you think war is necessary and justified, why suddenly caring for the health of your enemies, once you have achieved your rationale?

    Yet I think most people agree to this paradox behavior: Most people think war is necessary under certain circumstances (or at very least an army for self-defense), but it's also an ethical obligation to help a defeated enemy, because victory is the goal, not destruction of the enemy.

    Of course this complex ethical paradoxon opens the door for very different interpretations and stances, from pacifism to vengeful contempt for the health and life of the enemy.

    That's certainly true, but at the same time, there are also soldiers who feel guilty and/or hate it to harm any person who happens to be an enemy, kind of "military pacifists", who consider the army's first goal to save peace rather than going to war, and only do their "work" because of their oath.
  6. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    Sim gave a good one, but we can also look at what drives people to particular professions in the first place. Many circumstances go into such things, but without a good deal of people who place a great value on their nation, it is hard to imagine having a sizable volunteer military for a reasonable cost. Or, at least, the military would be more strained for volunteers. Similarly, without people who put a great value on knowledge, it is difficult to imagine having an adequate number of trained scientists. We could also ask who would want to go into business and management if they did not put a high value on money?

    Beyond that, consider Thomas Paine and George Washington: two people who were likely essential to America's independence and form of government. Paine wrote very opinionated pieces that stirred up shit, while Washington was more reserved and cautious about political matters. We can probably say that one had values typical to a reformer and radical, and the other those typical of a ranking military-man; and that the best qualities of both respectively owed to their particular and quite different values.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
  7. Wade8813

    Wade8813 Registered Member

    I'm not sure, but IIRC, what you stated is basically the goal of the (US) military in general - a medic actually goes out with the purpose of tending to the wounded, and only has a sidearm for self defense (the role probably varies depending on what type of medic you're talking about).

    I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "military pacifists", but from what I've heard, most people in the military would fit in that category - feel guilty/hate it, consider their first goal to fight for peace, etc.

    It seems to me that putting a high value on something isn't necessarily synonymous with it being the basis for your ethics.
  8. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    What are ethics if not a collection of values?
  9. Wade8813

    Wade8813 Registered Member

    There are different types of values. There are values like "I value being able to sleep in", and there are values like "I think abortion is wrong".

    When one says "I value money", that doesn't tend to mean much. However, if they say "I value money more than anything", that means a lot.
  10. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    I'm not thinking vocalizations here, but the inner passions with which we apprehend the value of things. The precise degree to which a person values this-or-that would seem to matter greatly in terms of their ethical and political beliefs, and even more towards how they live their life and apply ethics. How a person thinks of e.g. abortion, would seem to necessarily supervene on values and beliefs we could say do not deal with abortion directly. A persons views with regards to ethical propositions does have its basis in the values they place on things, and all such values.

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