April 4th, 2006



I have a problem with morality.

Let me clarify - I have a problem with absolute morality.

Actually, that's not true either. I don't believe in absolute morality, so I don't have a problem with it, per se. What I have a problem with is people who _do_ believe in absolute morality.

Because you can't negotiate with them. Worse than that, you can't get them to understand that you don't share their morals, because they don't view their morals as opinions, feelings and personal judgements, they view them as Right. This inevitably leads to a lack of empathy with their opposition and a tendency to demonise them or dismiss them entirely.

Which isn't to say that there aren't factual things that people connect to their moral judgements. Those you can show to be right or wrong - there are always statistics to quibble over, historical documents that may or may not be valid, interpretations of experiments to debate. Nor am I saying that I'm against people having strong moral values (I feel very strongly about certain things myself) or arguing in favour of their own moral values (I believe people should be allowed to talk about their own moral judgements as much as they like).

What I am saying is that there's a very definite difference between "I want to live in a world where people don't X" and "Anyone who does X, for any reason, is wrong." The first statement is about a person's wishes for the world, how they'd like things to be. The second brooks no discussion, no quibbling about situation A or situation B, whether the long-term good justifies short-term bad or how to live in a world that isn't ideal.

The world does not contain any in-built morality. It contains vast amounts of mess and chaos that we impose our own patterns on. When I see people trying to simplify it down to "X is right and Y is wrong", in any situation, I know that I'm not dealing with a person who understands that, and is willing to try and work towards a bearable situation in an imperfect world.

Which isn't to say that you aren't going to sometimes have to deal with people who believe things that are utterly inimical to your own viewpoint, and neither of you is willing to move far enough from your own viewpoint to reach a compromise. How you deal with those situations is up to you, but you'll certainly find it a lot easier if you remember that you're dealing with two opposing viewpoints, feelings about the way the world should be, and not with divine statements of Good and Bad or Natural Laws.