"Only the Sith deal in absolutes!" -- So are you a Sith? (Moral absolutism discussion)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by nate_the_great, May 30, 2007.

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  1. nate_the_great Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2005
    star 1
    "Only the Sith deal in absolutes!" -- So are you a Sith? o_O Perhaps a better way to phrase that question is: do you believe in moral absolutes? Is lying always wrong? Is killing in self-defense still killing?

    Just curious as to YOUR thoughts about moral absolutes and what they mean.
  2. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    And the lord sayeth on the 12th day of binge drinking, "Dude, this totally doesn't belong here," and so-eth he smoteth the thread!
  3. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Oh, I don't have a problem with it, but this just might be an example of the thread's subject matter.... :p

    We haven't had a thread on absolutism in a while, just as long as it doesn't get too "Star Warsy.."
  4. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I actually approved it FIDo, so be nice.

    What do you mean by moral absolutes; a black and white, good and evil, right and wrong view of the world?

    If that's the case, absolutely not. I see the world as being decorated in varying shades of grey, and that absolutist thinking is unable to really cope with complexities. I think any time you suggest one size fits all, you'll quickly learn that, in fact, it does not.

    I think, moreover, concepts like good/evil, right/wrong are so subjective that any attempt at objectively classifying things in this way - see also, "Axis of Evil" and "lol" - is predoomed to failure by the nature of it's own inflexibility.

    E_S
  5. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    I think I'd change the original subject and the post.
  6. nate_the_great Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2005
    star 1
    What I mean is, what do you think of right and wrong. Is lying always wrong? Even if it would save someone's life? Or is it ok? What do you believe about absolutes?

    Isn't that statement an absolute? Or am I just reading it wrong?

    And by the way, the Sith reference is just that... a reference so as to be creative.

    To what? o_O Looks fine to me.

  7. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Well, asking, 'Are you a Sith?' Really doesn't strike me as a Senate Floor title. Sounds more like a random online quiz name.
  8. Surfer_With_A_Badge Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 13, 2007
    star 2
    I never thought Obi-Wan's statement was contradictory (Kenobi used an absolute statement saying only Sith used absolute statements) . He was merely recognizing that Anakin was too far gone to rationalize with. The "with me or against me" statement was the last thing Obi-Wan needed to hear to convince him of that.
  9. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    I have nothing to add other than to say that I think "smoteth" is a cool word and I will seek to use it in the future.

    Actually I think most people think in ters of absolutes as a gut reation but tend to be a bit more malable if pushed or questioned on a matter.
  10. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I think the important thing from the quote is that "only Sith DEAL in absolutes." Nothing about beliefs, but in how you treat other people. "Join Me or Die, there is no other choice" would be dealing in absolutes, but not "I believe that good and evil definitely exist." I think that's a difference people have just tended to misunderstand since the movie came out, it should have been worded differently to be more clear.
  11. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    FIDo, it's fine, ok? :)

    He's using it metaphorically.

    Touche. ;)

    What does that say though, if you take the stance that you're absolutely opposed to absolutes? It would be like being, I'd say, intolerant of intolerance.

    I find from experience absolutism - i.e. black-and-white views - don't allow their wielder the flexibility to deal with anything which isn't neatly compartmentalised. I've seen nothing to suggest that these views can in fact deal with things outside those compartments, but is that in itself an absolute statement?

    ES
  12. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    [face_thinking] You know, I think it's a damned fine point sir. Damned fine.

    Are you suggesting absolutism is the emotive, and a shades-of-grey approach is the rational or thereabouts?

    E_S
  13. nate_the_great Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2005
    star 1
    I guess that was a bad title then. As I said earlier, I was trying to be creative and come up with something better than "Absolutes--Do you deal in them?" or something like that. I was simply being creative. I'll be less creative in the future I guess. o_O

    I think that the point of this thread is not the movie quote, but the real-life applications that are involved. But..

    Hm. Good point. Never really thought about it that way. Methinks we really shouldn't delve too much into that particular line, I think it was meant to be taken at face value.
  14. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    The title is a fine, relevant and creative metaphor for the discussion on moral absolutes. Fine, as in, not going to change. ;)

    E_S
  15. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Heh, that's funny.
    I go on a Star Wars forum and I'm surprised to see a topic with a Star Wars title.
    I enter the thread and read that the topic's Star Wars name is actually a problem!

    But: as it's allowed: The Senate apparantly doesn't deal in absolutes!
  16. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    Well, premeditated killing in cold blood is always wrong.

    If you go to enough detail, then absolutes exist.
  17. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    ... even if you killed, say, Stalin?
  18. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    That depends on the details.
  19. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    Here is the way I see it:

    All morals are details. Lets just say rape is absolutely wrong (hopefully that is not too hard for us to accept for the sake of the argument). Rape is a kind of sex so sex is wrong or not depending on its circumstances. The morality of sex is gray because there are times when it is wrong and times when it is not wrong and maybe even times when it is right (those are three very different things). So even if there are some absolute morals then there will almost always be a more general version of that action that is in a morally gray area.

    So my question is; is it possible to have both subjective and absolute morals at the same time? I am not sure that there can be. To me, the essence of absolute morals is that there is some sort of cosmic ruling that forces some action to always be wrong regardless of the circumstances. That is not to be confused with not being able to think of some circumstance where something is right or not wrong. The thing is we can go the other way, get into more specific cases of any action and start asking if those are right or not. Either we just blindly say they all are wrong, or we open up to the possibility that our absolute moral may not be absolute.

    And at the very least, semantics and language make any moral subjective. Take the combination of characters/pixels "thou shall not kill." In English that combination of characters make some sense. In Japanese those lines and characters are gibberish. So, if we take absolute to mean in absolutely every single case we just found a case where it is not true (yeah, that is a sucky argument, but a fun one to bring up).
  20. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    But Enforcer, part of the problem is it presupposes our morality = normative. Living in a Chinese society I long ago abandoned any belief that my views on right, and wrong, were normative.

    Let's say a civilisation exists called the Rapists. In their culture, rape is an act of ultimate respect for a woman - a man can't control himself and must have her. For them, rape isn't the act of a man unfit to call himself that (I really hate anything that objectifies women) who can't otherwise have relations with women; it's a person showing how powerfully alluring that woman is.

    Now, I'm not condoning rape incase someone wants to come in here and suggest we arm all women because I am condoning rape. :p In fact, I would happily see rapists castrated and left in with normal prisoners for kicks. Anyway...

    In this culture, something we view as wrong is viewed as right. Who is, therefore, correct?

    E_S
  21. Ree Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2005
    star 5
    Nope. I deal in the grey area at all times.
    Besides I have the ability of free will and choice which apparently escapes fallen Jedi/Sith in the Star Wars-verse. I can get angry and upset but I'm not going to go kill anyone about it.
  22. chibiangi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2002
    star 4
    I think without certain core values, then there really isn't any point in having any morality. Cultural relativism is best left to the anthropologists and even they have personal opinions about the cultures they study.

    An example would be female genital mutilation. Women perpetuate it because of the social pressure for women to have it done. They want their daughters to be normal and to marry, despite the fact that it is painful and might very well kill them. Men won't marry women who haven't had it done and those who haven't are outcasts. Certainly within their cultural context it is "right" but does that mean we have to accept it as such? No. With outside influence and other options, women very well would/could abandon the practice and soon find it as barbaric as we do. It is just a question of having other options. Accepting people have different ways is one thing, it doesn't mean we have to see the specific behaviors as acceptable.

    I do believe there are some universal absolutes such as not harming someone who is not harming others, not stealing when we have plenty, etc. But as was mentioned before, the devil is in the details...we can't say all killing is wrong because we justify killing routinely. Likewise, most would say stealing food to feed your family is justifiable. The crossing point comes from intent.
  23. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    ES Even though you completely missed my point I am being good and not going to make a crack about you and your post... (well, even if I did it wouldn't be morally wrong, would it? :p )

    I am not saying that morals are or are not absolute. I said for the sake of argument assume that one is so I could make some other points (basically that even if some morals are absolute there are still going to be subjective morals and what are some of the consequences of that 'fact'). We may end up at the same conclusion, that absolute morals are just made up nonsense, but your argument is one I have heard a million times over and it never really gets anything anywhere.

    My points were based on an assumption (which I thought I made clear) to create a thought experiment; not a fact that describes reality (as far as I believe). I have a hard time seeing how your point factors into what I said at all.

    And to give you a more direct reply to your post. It is possible that us or the culture of rapists is violating an absolute moral rule. That somehow there is some sort of divine absolute law and one of us is truly wrong. Just because we disagree or can't figure it out (or haven't yet) doesn't mean there are not absolute morals (unless you go with the cheap argument I used that absolute must be so in every single possible petty case). I do not believe that at all and I can not see how it would work like that, but (especially for the sake of debate in this thread) it is possible.
  24. Sherylin Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2005
    star 2
    I don't believe in moral absolutes. I don't like lying, but sometimes, it's an unfortunate necessity. Killing is a crime, and punishment for killing in self-defense is a part of Criminal Code. There is an article about it, you better check it before you accidentally kill someone, as a self-defense. They may put you to jail for it.

    Yes, it is wrong to kill, especcially to say that you would want to kill Stalin. In the time when Iosif Vissarionovitch Stalin was alive, and well being, saying such thing (openly, or secretly), was a reason enough for american spy to be shot dead, or die in prison, by the laws of our country.

    I guess you mistakened a little, and were talking about Hitler, who was a war criminal, and would be punished after the Nurnbergh process, if he were alive, and not kill himself in shame.

    Stalin lived long after that, and after he died, he was buried at Red Square, near Lenin. You can't insult Russians like that, you know, it's not polite. Why don't you mention Napoleon Bonapart or Kaligula, in your example? No, you're talking about Stalin, and thus insult us, Russians... I wonder why.
  25. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Me

    In some cases, I think that there is an actual right and wrong.
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