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Morality: What are your thoughts on the connection between an action and its' context?

Rhetoric 7 Apr 21

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Morallity is contingent.
Is it moral to kill babies? Not abort, kill infants and young children.
In our current society I hope the answer continues to be a very adamant no. But when the Hansel and Gretel story first arose in Europe killing the youngest and oldest was absolutely moral when the survival of the whole family unit was imperilled through the extra non-productive drain on resources.
So I would argue that intent (they definitely intended to kill their offspring) and consequences (the children usually died) are insufficient to determine morality without considering context/circumstance.
Circumstances go so far as to determine what is or is not moral within a given culture. Yes this is cultural relativism, but when the circumstances change so should the individual and the culture. Infanticide in dark ages Europe is not the equivalent of infanticide in 21st C Paris, although western democratic capitalism seems to be working on that.

If it's immoral to kill (i'm not sure why children should be a special case other than for purely emotional reasons) it is certainly not illegal. Witness the colatteral damage of bombing campaigns in countries far away. Or the death penalty, state sanctified murder that produces it's own moral debate. The truth is morality as an absolute set of rules is a deliberate fallacy perpetuated by the elite to suppress the many.

@SimonCyrene Children specifically because there are,or have been, cultures in which killing children and the elderly was moral. Killing contributing adults was not.
Note that your examples include warfare, the prime example of "othering" IE defining as being NOT our culture and so fair game, and the death penalty which is exacted on those who've put themselves beyond the cultural boundaries.
Finally yes, as I said in my first sentence, morality is contingent. Control is part of that contingency. As is group cohesion and survival. In context any morality which survives a lengthy period (thus excluding Branch Davidians and the like) is not fallacious as it has a direct bearing on survival. Taken out of its context (eg. Modern Evangelicalism) it becomes fallacious and oppressive.


Rhe morality of an action depends on both intent and on consequences. If the intention is to violate human dignity and respect, or if the consequences result in a violation of human dignity and respect, the action is immoral.


A) John goes to a bar has a few too many and drives home safely.
b) John goes to a bar has a few too many and kills a person on the way home.

If the morality of his action is based solely on its consequence then he acted morally in (a) and immorally in 🍺, which I think is an inadequate explanation of what we believe to be moral or immoral.

Utilitarianism I think is usable for society as a whole, as a way to suggest the good public policy actions, but not usable for determination of the good personal actions.

cava Level 7 Apr 21, 2018

In the Trolley problem [] the end result is of paramount importance. I always look to the end result of an action. To too many the context is what makes them feel good about their actions. To me that is a reward and can and does obscure the end. "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".


I'm somewhat a moral nihilist. Morals are useful but essentially pliable.
Killing is bad, well, except when we say it isnt, etc.
The issue for me is who gets to decide what's moral for anyone else.


I think you have to judge by both the intention as well as reasonably foreseeable outcomes. In other words judge an action for itself, rather than judging it based on the actual outcome.

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