Why Our Children Don't Think There Are Moral Facts - NYTimes.com
Stephen Williams stashed this in Morality
10 days ago OK. So, I'm a public school teacher. I do teach fact/opinion. As I understand it, and I'm not a philosophy prof, but here we go: facts are statements that can be proven true or false. "It is Sunday." That is a fact that can be proven either true or false depending on the day. There can be false facts.Opinions are statements that cannot be proven either true or false. "Chocolate ice cream is the best." That's my opinion--my belief, if you want to call it that. Your list of statements, then, depend on whether or not they can be proven either true or false. "Vegetarians are healthier than people who eat meat." Get a sample of n people who are vegetarians, and have been vegetarians for x years, and compare them to n people who are not for the same period. Then you can make your statement of fact. It may be false, but you can prove this statistically.You can do the same with the statement about drinking under the age of 21. Find statistics to prove it either true or false. This is really a statement of fact. It can be proven or dis-proven. Honestly, we public school teachers are not out to corrupt your children. But I'll leave you to prove that one.
West Palm Beach (Currently)
18 days ago I am a teacher. I teach to help students think for themselves. "Moral Facts" do not exist. They are imagined and required based on cultural opinions. The truth is that every culture and subculture has their own OPINION of what is right and what is wrong. Imagine if all of the humans on the planet vanished. Would this be wrong? It wouldn't be for the Earth. The planet would thrive. It would stink for us though. The truth is that this planet is wild and often times unpredictable. The purpose of school is to educate people to be successful at surviving on their own in this world. If you want to thrive then you need to work hard. That is on each individual's shoulders. Do I want all of my students to be successful? Yes, of course I do. Can I control their individual drives and mental capacities? I can only stimulate, motivate, and inform people. The FACT is that you sir are confusing the moral customs developed by religious societies with actual measurable substance. Morals, much like languages, have always changed as cultures developed. Slavery was once considered moral in this country. Naked men running around whipping young girls with dead bloody lambs as a celebration of fertility in the the month of February was once considered moral and culturally justified in Ancient Persia. It also was the ancient root that eventually led to what we call Valentine's Day today. Who's morals are facts? Who's aren't? Every culture thinks their morals are facts. That's why they're opinions.<3
So this is the argument about moral relativity / moral facts. Do you think this professor is correct, or Common Core et al?
Moral facts DO exist. We have a society that has its standards of right and wrong.
I think there is confusion about whether we have evidence for certain positions or not. Murder is bad for all kinds of demonstrable reasons for which there is a consensus of fact. There is another level of confusion when things that have little fact behind them are treated by your in group has having the same standing as the former group. Don't murder people. Don't eat pigs. Your "fact" basis comes from the same source, so they both are equally true. In fact, "don't eat pigs" probably had a good basis in health in a wide period of history, due to trichinosis etc. But those facts are no longer true, so such a belief is now clearly opinion. Similarly, we're grappelling with "(illegal) drugs are bad" and "(legal) drugs are good": There are apparently fairly harmless recreational drugs and terrible abuses of psychiatric drugs that are proving both of those wrong as "moral facts". "Opinion" means a range of things; I tend not to use it for that reason. Either it is a conjecture, (somewhat or thoroughly validated) theory, belief, wish, or dogma. Often, as is the case with drugs, something may be generally true or intended to be true by process, but only actually be probabilistically true or in qualified cases. When people are using different levels of specificity, they can both claim to be true: Illegal drugs are bad! (Generally.) Illegal drugs are good! (In certain specific cases.) The general lack of precision, and sometimes even ability or interest in precision, causes a large percentage of disagreements.
This seems related. At least there is a large gray overlap of ideas and disagreement that needs to be partitioned before you can have a clear conversation about either.
It's true that lots of things that are moral facts -- "it is bad to hurt people" -- can have lots of exceptions to the rule (such as "unless the person you're hurting is going to hurt other people and you're hurting them to prevent them from hurting others", for example).
And so you're right, there's lots of room for debate.
Along the spectrum of right and wrong a lot of your examples fall into the middle.
Can we start with a moral fact that has no exceptions such as "it is bad to hurt children"? Maybe.
But you're right, there are very few things that are absolute right or wrong.
Most things are on the spectrum.
You don't believe that children should struggle, feel bad, know what an injury feels like, be punished (at least in some cases), feel hungry, have necessary medical procedures (vaccines!), etc.? If you attempt to strictly avoid "hurting children", you'll hurt them worse, creating a helpless and/or monster of some sort. Just about everything needs qualification to avoid absurdisms. And absurdisms are where we are at in many cases, re "weapons" in school, etc.: In recent news, children have been disciplined for a finger gun and for threatening to control another with "the one ring to rule them all".
For "it is bad to hurt children", you have to clearly define and defend each key word. "Hurt" is the one that has been most tortured. For exhibit A, I would point to the Meese Report, which was, as I remember it, mostly about invasively controlling everyone with the stated goal of protecting children from the evils of naked people. Same thing with video games.
Reasonable people (from the same culture & mindset who aren't too simple and aren't trying to game you for fun or profit) will know what you mean, but that doesn't change the fact that blanket statements are generally not really as absolute as they sound.
Nearly everything can be subverted and gamed, sometimes through ignorance, sometimes malice, or freedom or quashing freedom of some kind, or just for fun. Sometimes it is harmless, sometimes there is mental stress of some kind that needs to be addressed. Sometimes mental stresses are a net or necessary good and do not need to be addressed. It takes flexibility and judgment from mature and educated enough people to do the right thing. And, often, going too far into the absurd by mindless drones to wake up people to the limits of simple rules.
This is why it's so hard to make a moral code.
Even the Golden Rule -- "do unto others as you would have done unto you" -- can be subverted and gamed, right?
Unless everyone is the same and wants the same things.
Well that's never going to happen.
Still, society is better off erring on the side of being too strict -- rape is wrong, murder is wrong, etc -- than to leave it ambiguous.
For those, seems reasonable. People usually have a problem stopping there though.
Sure, because if there's one thing I've learned about rule sets, it's that they like to expand.