The Motley Fool Discussion Boards

Previous Page

Religion & Culture / Christian Fools


Subject:  Re: Cardinal Carlo Martini Date:  10/3/2012  12:05 PM
Author:  Frydaze1 Number:  183188 of 199110

Doesn't it depend on what we mean by "real"? And "wrong"?

I mean objective, existing outside of the human mind. You and Frydaze don't believe that morality exists objectively.

If it's not objective is it real? You don't think so, so I'm not sure what your beef is.

There's a difference between "wrong" and "immoral". The words have completely different meanings. Let's not mix them up, since that muddies the discussion.

Again, I wasn't saying she thinks it is ok for others to rape someone. I'm saying she has no objective basis for saying someone else's code is immoral.

True... though not the way you meant it.

A man sees a hole in a wall, and his friends tell him he should have sex with that hole. He does so. Unbeknownst to him, there is a woman (or a little girl - though it should make no difference), tied and gagged, on the other side of that hole and he has actually raped her. Was his act immoral? No. In order for it to be immoral he has to have known that he was hurting her. It was, however, wrong. Because his knowledge was incomplete.

Rape is such an emotionally charged subject, which makes it difficult for people to even discuss it objectively. So let's try this instead:
A parent, honestly believing their child to be demon possessed, and honestly believing that the only cure to this condition is a beating, beats their child. Is this act immoral? No. They are doing what they do out of a genuine good intent even if I find it repulsive. This makes their act wrong (since there are no demons and beating the child wouldn't drive them out) though not immoral. So here we have a situation where someone is abusing another person against their will, but they are not doing it with intent to be immoral. It is therefore not immoral. Just seriously wrong.

A rape, though we consider it one of the worst abuses, is (objectively) only a degree of abuse. And all abuse can be discussed in the same terms. If the abuser feels their act to be immoral, it is. If they don't, it isn't. That doesn't have anything to do with whether or not their act is wrong. Only with whether or not it is immoral. If they believe their act is not immoral, but that belief is based on a lack of knowledge or understanding, the act is objectively wrong. Not immoral, merely wrong.

If I say someone else else is acting immorally, what I usually mean is that their act is wrong. Meaning, if they had more information, they would also feel their act to be immoral. But I have to accept that my judgement of their act is based on my own understanding, which may also be imperfect. So unless I have specific knowledge that they don't have, it still becomes only a subjective judgement.

Example you may understand better:
Let's assume for a moment that you are correct about God. I believe that if there is a God, for him to permit someone to die in a car accident is wrong. If I committed such an act, it would be immoral. But, according to your beliefs, God has an overriding reason to permit such an act. If that is true, then His act is neither wrong nor immoral. My perception of it is exactly that: MY perception. In other words, subjective. Still, even though I'm mistaken, it would still be immoral for me to intentionally allow someone to die in a car accident. Even though God actually wants it to happen for his own reasons and the act is not truly wrong.

If you can find an example of someone committing rape when they do not actually believe *themselves* that it is an immoral act, then I will agree with you that the act wasn't immoral. And therefore, no, rape isn't objectively immoral. However, I don't think you'll find such a situation that isn't caused by a lack of knowledge or understanding; therefore such an act would still be wrong.


P.S. I noticed you didn't respond to my question about various acts committed unknowingly by people. Can someone be moral or immoral if they aren't aware of the consequences of their actions? Or does morality depend on the person's intent? Your response to that will show very clearly why "wrong" and "immoral" don't have to go together.

Actually, that's the point of a barmitzvah. A Jewish child is not responsible for keeping laws he doesn't know. So he is taught the laws. He then proves to his society that he understands all of them... at which point he is considered a man, because he's now responsible for following them. Clearly they consider morality to be tied to understanding and intent.
Copyright 1996-2018 trademark and the "Fool" logo is a trademark of The Motley Fool, Inc. Contact Us