Is there such a thing as universal morality?

This is VERY interesting topic which was raised in one of my posts recently[/url] by a very good commenter ‘Tom’, which I skirted over briefly, it’s actually a very deep and intense topic.

The term “morality” can be used either

1. descriptively to refer to a code of conduct put forward by a society or,
a. some other group, such as a religion, or
b. accepted by an individual for her own behavior or
2. normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

IS there really such a thing as universal morality? Are there certain ‘things’ that are morally right and wrong across all cultures/societies/races and religions?

To a lot of people morality = religion, which to be is not a good thing, no no, not good at all.

Let’s start with an extreme example..

Let’s take 2 men, one Muslim Fundementalist (Ahmad) who isn’t too fond of pink people and one Bush Supporting Redneck American (Billy-Bob) (who isn’t too fond of brown people.

Ahmad would like to halt the westerisation of his middle-eastern region and on a bad day he’d quite like to destroy the west. Especially his American opressors who are destroying his culture and country for the sake of a few barrels of oil. He hasn’t really mixed with anyone who wasn’t from his country, he only knows what he’s seen on TV.

Billy-Bob likes to string niggers from trees and talk about how he would blow up all the brown people in the world if he was president of the united states. He hates the Indian store owner in his small back-water and has never really mixed with anyone who wasn’t related to him (including his wife).

Now for Ahmad, the destruction of the twin towers in America was an act of God, an act of solidarity, a great move to halt western oppression. It was a power play, the final resort, very extreme action, it shows how strongly people can feel about something, for him it was morally correct to do this to make a point, irregardless of the innocent people that died.

As for Billy-Bob, it was one of the worst days ever, he hated the Indian shop keeper even more and fire bombed the shop destroying the mans livelihood (which to Billy-Bob and his friends was also morally correct).

Now depending on your race, your religion and where you were born/brought up you would see each one as wrong/right, where as someone else could see if differently just like Ahmad and Billy-Bob.

Is there some strain in the human race though that tells each one of us when we are kids, don’t steal? Don’t hurt the other kids? Or is it instilled in us by our parents and society?

It’s an interesting subject that’s for sure.




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37 Responses to Is there such a thing as universal morality?

  1. nicktay November 11, 2005 at 4:23 am #

    But thats one extreme part of it, because if you take your example, both Ahmads and Billy-bob (assuming he is a christian) religions teaches that to kill is wrong. If they actually followed the religion they claimed to beleive in instead of the hype around it, the world would be a better place. Seems to me, its not so much on the religon being the morality being the issue, rather than the lack of religion being the morality. I mean, if people who claim to be muslims and christians would actually live by the rules set by thier God’s and prophets like don’t kill and love one another the world would be a better place right?

  2. xpyre November 11, 2005 at 5:18 am #

    there are ethical prescriptions for action and there are rationales for such prescriptions.

    for example, take “thou shalt not kill”. it’s an imperative against committing a certain act. however, religious traditions have different rationales for the same prescription.

    the same follows for “deontological” moral systems which prefer to provide ethical prescriptions sans references to God or Deities as the final arbiter of rigt and wrong. The prime case in this example are moral systems philosophized such as a system by Kant (from which we have the term “deontological”).

    There are also virtue-based systems which are as old as Aristotle, and which find purchase in scholastic explications of moral laws, or rather, their rationalizations of moral prescriptions based off the bible.

    the subject you mention is of course interesting, but too broad for any clear discussion, because we’d have to sit around many campfires discussing the history of moral philosophy.

    to the question proper: is there a universal moral system? Kant would say “yes”, based on reason. A catholic would say yes, and so would a buddhist. the point I’m trying to make is, there are moral prescriptions by all these separate traditions/philosophies which pretend to universality.

    Tom’s delineation is a very good one, and should be basis of any discussion’s starting point, maybe. But really, it’s a very, very large question.

    With respect to Ahmad and Bob, I believe it’s more a matter of perspective, in my opinion, because within their separate worldviews, the logic of their beliefs appear to reinforce or encourage their own reactions.

    The jihadist feels himself justified according to his interpretation of the prescriptions of the Quran. The redneck believes himself justified for any one of a slew of reasons. Trying to convince either that their points of view are wrong is just the same as them trying to convince you that your beliefs are wrong, only this time you might have the weight of social mores to justify your (or “our”) version of morality.

    Are we then to say that moral prescriptions are only valid if subscribed by the majority of society? What about killing for example? If killing is sanctioned by society would it then be right?

    there might be room for lots of complications in any answer to the above.

    just my 2 cents.

  3. Chris November 11, 2005 at 6:33 am #

    It all depends on one of two possibilities:

    a) humans are destructive/violent by nature, but as we mature, we learn about the importance of keeping the peace, working together for a greater good and about what’s the right or wrong thing to do.

    b) humans are caring / loving by nature, but as we mature we are contaminated by bad examples, greed, lust and other negative feelings that have been introduced to us over the course of our lives.

    Of course, it’s highly unlikely that humans are exclusively a)-type or b)-type. I believe that there’s some sort of overlap – in some ways, we are a)-type people but in other ways, we are b)-types.

    Maybe some people gravitate more towards one type than the other.

    Being intelligent, I believe that humans learn from example and through a bit of logic, will be able to figure out what’s best for him/her (whether or not it’s morally right by other people’s standards).

    Let’s say you’re a little kid who loves bashing other kids on the head – and you think it’s rather funny.

    Then, one day, some bigger kid comes along and beats the shit out of you and later laughs at your face.

    One of two things could happen:
    a) you realise what you’ve been doing is wrong and realise that you’ve caused other kids a lot of anguish. You relate to them and mend your ways. Repentance.

    b) you train yourself until you’re stronger than the other kid and beat the shit out of him a year from now. Revenge.

    I guess basically, it all depends on the emotions or feelings of the person.

    As such, I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as a universal morality. No two cultures have exactly the same moral standards.

    But there is a fair amount of overlap – this is probably due to centuries of refinement, society as a whole figuring out what’s better for everyone and altering the rules every now and then.

    Since humans have a need to fit in to a group (to gain acceptance, etc), a moral standard develops within that society as a result of striving for the greater good.

    I dunno… do I make any sense?

  4. senbai November 11, 2005 at 6:40 am #

    There’s a chinese saying…” humans are originally good natured”. (ren zhi chu xing ben shan)

    Yes social institutions like schools and family are supposed to pass on socially acceptable conducts to kids…..but this is not the case anymore. Kids today are exposed to lots of bullshit from the internet, TV etc…and the parents are hopeless cos they’re too busy at work . So dysfunctional family in turn creates a dysfunctional turn creates a dysfunctional world.

    It’s happening and there’s nothing we can do about it. Religion is not helping in this case because there are people who actually believe that bombing up themselves will win them tickets to heaven.

    My only hope is for this world to be united one day. The day when we don’t need religion any more. The day when humans are so mixed you can’t tell if he/ she is a eurasian/ asian/ indian. The day when we are all Gods (well…sort of 🙂 ).

  5. jerry November 11, 2005 at 6:55 am #

    if electricity comes from electrons, does morality comes from morons?

  6. Lita November 11, 2005 at 7:05 am #

    So, here’s the deal. The day when everyone unites again, it’s the Judgement Day; the end of the world.

    To be honest, there’s never going to be an end of all these racism issues. It’s like a plague, whereby the harder you try to remove it, the faster it spreads. In Malaysia alone, racism is right in your face. There is a distant feeling of hostility between races; at least that’s what I feel.

    The dictionary-definition of MORALITY cannot be accepted anymore. Analogically, a virgin is defined as someone who has her hymen membrane intact; but would you consider a stripper or a camwhore (who has not had sexual intercourse before) a virgin? Everything is getting fickle in this world and I so hate it. To every individual, it’s consider ACTING MORALLY to them as long as their own benefits and interests are taken care of. So, to shaolintiger, there is no such thing as UNIVERSAL MORALITY because every single individual defines morality his own way, suiting his lifestyle the best!

    p.s. Morality is part of Religion. But even the holiest Pastor or Navi around is immoral, i reckon =p.

  7. Heng Tan November 11, 2005 at 8:27 am #

    do you think having sex in the toilet is moral………….. 😀

  8. squeekyhsu November 11, 2005 at 8:53 am #

    morality means more than that. take an easy example, not ‘double parking’ could also be a matter or morality. and lil does that have to do with religion no?
    however, based on religion, morality could be something less extreme than the e.g. you’ve portrayed above… haha not everyone is extreme… prolly just 1/4 of the society!

  9. victor November 11, 2005 at 2:38 pm #

    Al-Qaeda, Anti-terrorism, Jihad those are just tonnes of rubbish. Using religion to their own benefits. If you have any sense of morality, it’s forgive and forget.. Not retaliation and retribution..

  10. hero November 11, 2005 at 3:05 pm #

    Chinese getting straight As are not allowed into universities. Not allowed civil service jobs. That is blatant discrimination.

    Why do you support such discrimination?

    Chinese Malaysians have built very successful businesses, hence they have the wealth that they have. This is not greed. They worked for what they now own.

    Why do you envy what does not belong to you? Is this not greed?

    It is quite untrue that business offers are conducted on the basis of race. Starting any business is very very hard work, but the malays did not have a hard working tradition to persevere. This is a cultural change the malays need in order to conduct businesses successfully.

    Armed with this knowledge, do you still insist that Chinese Malaysians are greedy, and therefore it is right for malays to take what does not belong to them?

    Your perception of business in Malaysia has got to be wrong.

    Most goods and services can be conducted in open markets, and there is no particular reason to single out malays so that Chinese businessmen should swindle them. There are lots of swindlers in business so it is not just malays who get swindled.

    Successful businessmen depend on providing real benefits to customers and partners so that it is worthwhile for them to do business again and again to both parties benefit. It is only when customers also get rich that businesses can grow.

    The discrimination against Chinese, Indians and other peoples cannot be tolerated in the modern world. Countries that do this will face long-term decline.

    Hard working people are not greedy as you accuse them. They are hard working because they have a mission in life to prosper, to give offspring a good chance in life to live to the full, to contribute their talents to the betterment of society……….

    This is not greed.

    Whereas, envy of others wealth and taking what they have not worked for is greed.

    I would put is stronger. It is robbery and corruption. You talk like a Mafia extortionist when you said that worse could happen to the Chinese, so be thankful because there are more malays than Chinese, and therefore they can take even more from the Chinese if they want to.

    You have to be joking to believe that your greed and prejudices are the wonderful things about Malaysia. Well, may be you do.

    Malaysia as describe it is a country based on racism, lack of a conscience, and greed (taking from hard working foreigners).

    Meritocracy is denounced. Robbing the wealthy is promoted.

    How can there be a good future for such a country?

    Looking from outside of Malaysia, it is easy to see that the malay-controlled government is enforcing a wealth-robbing programme from the Chinese who earned their wealth through hard works.

    By barring bright well-qualified Chinese Malaysians from entering Malaysian universities, Malaysia is pursuing a discriminatory policy based on race.

    This is not tolerated in civilised countries. It is a policy that gives Malaysia a very bad reputation and deprives itself of its most talented.

    It is a policy which tells the malays that robbing from the rich is not greed because being rich, being educated is the same as being greedy.

    This is moral corruption and self-contradiction which Malaysia will pay a very heavy price.

  11. Chris November 11, 2005 at 3:15 pm #

    Actually, maybe we should ask ourselves whether religion is a pre-requisite for morality?

    We live in very liberal times, and we’re allowed to express ourselves more freely than our ancestors did centuries ago (unless you’re in Iran, where you could still be decapitated for running a red light – or something like that).

    The thing is, I find that the nicest people I know also happen to be atheist – not just free thinkers, but people who believe in the non-existence of God. This is mostly due to their complete lack of holier-than-thou-ness and the fact that they’re far more open to new ideas than most Catholics and Christians.

    In fact, I find that it’s the religious zealots who tend to have the least morals – criticising others, backstabbing and basically being petty bastards towards those who do not conform to their moral standards.

    It’s particularly bad with church youth groups, where the leaders seem to be on a witch hunt to pick out the bad apples, telling them to “Go away because you’re a bad influence on the others”.

    The irony of it all is that it’s these ‘bad apples’ who need support and love the most, and their being turned away from the House of God by bigots.

    Someone once told me, “The closer you get to God, the easier it is to become more like Satan” – basically finding fault in everything other people do to boost one’s own self-esteem and to preserve one’s own self-righteousness.

    So maybe what I’m trying to say is that religion may not necessarily breed morality, but perhaps it may even breed immorality instead.

    Case in point with the rednecks and jihad bombers.

    If you ask me, I prefer the Jihad bombers – at least they take themselves out when they pull the plug.

    The rednecks will still be there to vote for Bush. Even worse: they can still spawn children of their own – red-necklings to carry on the tradition.

  12. Chris November 11, 2005 at 3:33 pm #

    Cracks have already started to appear. As I’ve read on someone’s blog (can’t remember who), part of the reason why there are sooo many unemployed graduates is because they are shit.

    They were lazy in university and were rewarded by lowered standards in grading. If they keep lowering the bar, the country will end up with a whole bunch of stupid people who think that they really got a 1st-class honours in rocket science.

    Now, they go off to prospective employers only to find that they haven’t got any relevant skills and just don’t have the drive or correct attitude that’s required in a competitive field. Maybe it still works in the government sector – but I doubt such people will find jobs in the private sector, unless cronyism and nepotism take over (which normally happens).

    Part of the problem is that they believe that it’s their God-given right to have a job, a nice salary and so on – and that they never have to work for it. After all, that’s what they’ve been taught since their first day in school.

    For crying out loud, the entire school syllabus was in their language for such a long time, yet it was still the Chinese who excelled – we who had to learn a foreign language from scratch (one that we’d rarely use among friends and family anyway) just so we could learn other stuff in school.

    The thing, though, is that I have faith in our country. I believe that the people at the top will eventually see the time bomb that’s currently ticking in our country. It will take some time, but I believe that the change will come.

    For starters, Math and Science are now in English again… And nowadays, I’ve been bumping into honest cops on a very regular basis (and that’s something I’m very happy about).

    The day that Proton ceases to exist and that all manufacturing and international companies move their operations from Malaysia to China (and I’m pretty sure that this will happen soon), our government will start making drastic changes.

    If they don’t, I’m getting the hell out of here. I love this country, but there’s only so much that the government can ignore before it’s just not worth it anymore…

  13. Lita November 11, 2005 at 8:24 pm #

    Who’s supporting discrimination? I don’t see any?

  14. Beerbabe November 11, 2005 at 8:50 pm #

    Reading this I have a question for all of you – do you think human beings are essentially good, or essentially bad??

  15. nothingnormal November 11, 2005 at 9:55 pm #

    i think it is impossible to have any sense of morality devoid of a religious attachment. its simply a case of good and evil and how you see it. A long time ago there was this jewish lawyer who asked jesus, how do i obtain eternal life, and jesus’ reply was, what did the law of moses say and how do you read it? the point is we all have a sense of what is right and what is wrong, it is written in our hearts, just that we choose not to accept it and embrace the wisdom that God has put in us. We like to interpret what we think is good and what we think is wrong, for some people there are no right and wrong.

    I believe morality, right and wrong cannot be fully appreciated until we have a standard which we can use as a control to check if something is right or wrong and that standard is the life of Jesus.

    thank you

    PS the bible analogy is taken from luke 10:25 – 37

  16. aw November 11, 2005 at 11:52 pm #

    Interesting question, and analogy. The Buddhist guys say that there are very moral values that are universal.

    They say that Man’s mind is always plagued by only 3 things:

    1) Ignorance
    2) Greed
    3) Malice

    With these three, anyone can be talked into justifying any kind of evil, from lying to killing your own family members.

    Thus it is important for anyone to have a religion or philosophy that
    1) allows you to question everything, and not accept on “blind faith” alone, which leads to manipulation
    2) preaches dispassion and disattachment from things, instead of passion and attachment (which easily leads to greed and/or misplaced and over-enthusiasm)

  17. aw November 11, 2005 at 11:55 pm #

    sorry, addendum, and summary as well: The Buddhist guys say there is no universal morality.

    ie, there will be evil people.

    But they do offer a way to feel happier, and live more harmoniously.

  18. Dabido(Teflon) November 12, 2005 at 12:04 am #

    “religion being the morality”
    I think you mean lack of education regarding their respective religions. Let’s face it most (but not all) religions say it is wrong to kill, but someone who has only been taught that their religion is right and others are wrong and hasn’t studied the complexities of their religion either through lack of facilitators or lack of understanding.

    What I think ST was doing, was what most good mathematicians and computer people do, they take a rule, then apply the extremes to it. If we were working on an equation we’d probably test it by placing infinity, minus infinity, zero, almost zero (or soemthing very small), minus almost zero, and anything where we believe an error might occur.

    In this case, we’re looking at the extremes and asking, if a Universal morality does actually exist, then we should still be able to find it at these extremes.

    If it doesn’t exist there, why not?
    Possibly conclusion –
    1/ it doesn’t exist.
    2/ It does exist, but there are other factors which are exceptions
    3/ It still exists but we’re misreading it as we’ve defined it incorrectly.

    There might be some other conclusions. Those are the only three I can think of in the ten seconds I’ve taken to think about it.

    BUT, ST does raise a nice subject for us to think about.

    I personally don’t believe in a Universal Morality, as much as I beleive there are instincts built into us (either from evelution or God … i don’t care which you call it), and they primarily operate in order to allow humans to co-operate for the purpose of pro-creation. (Caveat – Primarily Operate does not mean THEY ONLY OPERATE for that cause).

    It’s a pretty complex thing to bring up.

    I better read the rest of the comments. Hope I’m not iterating someone elses comment.

    So ST’s looking at the extremes is where we really should start looking for the Universal Morality once we’ve defined it to our satisfaction.

    [Hope that makes sense]
    I guess another way to ask it, is ‘If there is a Universal Morality, why is it the Serial Killers do not follow it?’
    We could probably add heaps of different options who we could ask it about though … substitute, Ahmad, Billy-Bob, Serial Killer for Adolph Hitler, Santa Claus, Jeffrey Dahlmer etc etc

    I think it’s probably a good questino to chuck at the Logician Philosophers in order to see their take on it.

  19. Dabido(Teflon) November 12, 2005 at 12:18 am #

    I tend to agree.
    One question, (just to grab your opinion and nothin else)

    If there is a Universal Morality, then do we believe Billy-Bob and Ahmad’s environment has found a way to over come the Universality present in morality and over write it with another one, or do we believe that it is part of the Universal Morality and we are trying to impose our own beleifs of what that Universlal Morality is?
    [This of course starts with a presumption that there is a Universal Morality]

    Just curious on your thoughts.

  20. Dabido(Teflon) November 12, 2005 at 12:40 am #

    “The dictionary-definition of MORALITY cannot be accepted anymore.”
    Under what grounds do you make this statement? The dictionary only DEFINES the meaning of the word, and every year the publishers make amendments to the dictionary to support any popular use/misuse of the word.
    So, under what grounds are we to throw away the definition? If you are using an up to date dictinary, it will have the correct use and meaning of the word in it. Your example which followed didn’t prove that the definition was wrong.

    “…but would you consider a stripper or a camwhore (who has not had sexual intercourse before) a virgin?”
    Yes. If her hymen is still in tact and that defines the word, then she is. There is nothing in the definition you gave us which says that a virgin must act in a certain way. You seem to be placing a personal belief upon the meaning of ‘virgin’ which doesn’t fit the definition you gave us. Whether a virgin acts like a slut or not doesn’t define her as a virgin any more than whether she eats chocolate ice cream or vanila.

    The world has always been fickle. Though DYNAMIC might be a better word for it. When we are younger we are taught in schools along rigid lines in static ways to make us believe the world is more structured than it really is. If you are finding the world is more ‘fickle’ than you first thought, my advice is to embrace it. Learn to live with change, or else you will get lost along the way.

  21. Dabido(Teflon) November 12, 2005 at 12:50 am #

    “… not everyone is extreme…”
    Yes, but the exectpions to rules are normally found at the extremes. If we looked at the extremes and found that nothing varied from the norm, then it is a good indication that the rule is possibly true for all cases (but doesn’t prove it yet).
    ST is showing us an extreme to ask us if the ‘Universal Morality’ actualyl exists. If it does, why the apparent exception/s?

    To ignore the exceptions because they are a minority of cases is to misunderstand the question.
    There used to be an old saying which came from the ancient Greeks. It was ‘All Swans are White’. It use to mean that something was ‘100% true’.
    Then, they discovered Perth and black swans.
    The exceptions proved the saying incorrect. That’s why no one uses the saying any more. If someone was to use that saying to show that something was ‘100% correct’, everyone would pounce on them and point out that BLACK SWANS EXIST!!

  22. Dabido(Teflon) November 12, 2005 at 12:53 am #

    Personally, I would just say Forgive. Forgettin can lead to the repeatition of past mistakes.
    [Good example is Hitler attacking the Soviet Union … in Winter. Same mistake Napoleon made! If you were to invade Russia, I’m sure the Russian will have liked everyone to have forgotten not to invade in Winter!] 🙂

  23. Dabido(Teflon) November 12, 2005 at 12:56 am #

    [That one word was actually my answer Beerbabe!] 🙂

  24. Dabido(Teflon) November 12, 2005 at 1:00 am #

    “ie, there will be evil people.”

    See, they had politicians and managers in Buddhahs day too!!!

    (And I can make the Manager joke, being a Managing Director! I hate managers! Wooops! Self hatred!!!) 😉

    Oh, I think Dogbert covered it all in his Managers manual too … I’ve read it and it’s all true!!! 🙂

  25. ShaolinTiger November 12, 2005 at 1:02 am #

    Plus a girl can break her Hymen riding a bicycle, or doing other non-sexual activities and still be a virgin.

    Dictionary definitions don’t give us answers, just a starting point.

  26. xpyre November 12, 2005 at 1:27 am #

    I don’t think there’d be a difference in the question, actually, because it’ll be necessary, firstly, to establish the fact that there actually is a ‘universal morality’. we could, for example, say killing is evil/wrong, but can imagine a possible (and monstrous) world in which it can be sanctioned, even glorified.

    the problem is not the prescription, it’s the rationale behind our moral imperatives. if i were a utilitarian, i’d say any act is moral which tends to bring about the most happiness and the least unhappiness to society, for example. if i were christian, i’d say any act is wrong which is not sanctioned by the bible.

    there’s a difference between moral imperatives motivated by rationales other than religion, and moral imperatives motivated by religious doctrine. (though we could argue that our moral imaginations, to use a loose term, has religious baggage.)

    As for Bob and Ahmad.. well, they may have their own codes and moral laws by which they abide.

    would it be a contravention of ‘universal morality’? this would bring us back full circle and begs the question: is there really a ‘universal morality’? and who determines this?

    if we examine the less problematic question: what happens if Ahmad and Bob contravene moral prescriptions that are *generally accepted by society*? as far as this question can go, in practical terms i suppose, we have to look to the law which, if my texts insist is true, should reflect social mores and is what we’ll be talking about for this particular question.

    that’s what i think anyway, so..

  27. aw November 12, 2005 at 1:52 am #

    They sure were, and it seems like they always will be.

    Yes, screw Harvard’s management principles. Dogbert is the last word when it comes to effective management!

  28. senbai November 12, 2005 at 6:47 am #

    A lot of Malaysian SMI are actually working very hard to become world class bussinesses (without government help). So there’s still hope.

    The gov. acknowledge this and is starting to encourage these companies to hire those unemployables by giving tax breaks.

    I believe there’s more to come as they squeeze every ounce of “juice” from us….eventually forcing us to set up bases in a foreign land.

  29. victor November 12, 2005 at 2:36 pm #

    Malaysian Goverment are one of the worst Government in the world. They are practising discrimination everyday eventhough they say they dont want the 13th May 1969 incident to happen. Black Friday. They are using their government to dominate the resources, they use their government to belittle non-bumis. I’m not looking at this as a racist point of view but Quota? Quota my ass. Malaysians are Malaysians. Once you’re born In Malaysia, you should share the same amount of rights every single Malaysian enjoys. Look at other countries. They dont have Quotas in this shit. Bumiputeras dominate the Universities. They take up almost 80% of the scholarship eventhough their results are just mediocre compared to non-bumi’s straight A’s. This is why most straight As students are flocking the country. Malaysia will never advance. WHy? Because of the pure discrimination the government think is what’s best for the country.. My ass

  30. lionel November 13, 2005 at 3:26 am #

    Have you heard of militant atheists? They have a holier-than-thou stance too, thankyouverymuch.

    Because such attitudes exists I’d rather not call myself atheist even if I were really sure I am one; I’d settle with agnostic or freethinker.

  31. lionel November 13, 2005 at 3:38 am #

    Have you heard of the chimpanzee and the bonobo?

    No, this is serious. Scientists have been studying the gangsterish, violence-prone chimp and peaceful, sex-generous bonobo societies… remarkable windows into the social universe of our own species, they are. Questions of human morality come into play here. Anyone read or seen documentaries about this? It’s quite interesting.

  32. disgruntled malaysian November 13, 2005 at 8:11 am #

    The worst of all is those Malaysian Indonesian who was not born in Malaysia get the special privileges that Malaysian Chinese/Indian will never have in their entire life or maybe generations to come.

  33. jaggedthots November 13, 2005 at 2:20 pm #

    Morality should be universally accepted as being ‘relative’.

    ‘Me good, you bad’ is currently accepted as the most universal perception… but then again, there are many sides of me’s…

    Seems that Einstein is right all along!

  34. Chris November 13, 2005 at 7:50 pm #

    Then how do you explain Japanese society?

    Although Shintoism and Buddhism are popular in Japan, the vast majority are far from religious (at least, in the traditional Western sense of going to church often and spreading the ‘Good news’).

    However, they have very strict rules as to what is morally right and wrong – but it seems more closely tied to the virtues of respect, honour and dignity more than anything else.

    Some may argue that the Japanese moral standard is more of just protocols (bowing, the use of polite words, etc) rather than a true sense of what’s right or wrong.

    But in the end, you have to admit that it’s a system that works.

    I admire the fact that the religious people of olden Japan did not centre their attention at a particular celestial being (such as God or Jesus) as a benchmark for what’s right. Rather, it came from meditation, self-reflection and following the examples set by their elders. The desire to better themselves not just spiritually, but in what they do.

    Of course, this way of thought has produced some vastly different moral standards from our own.

    Case in point – we may consider cutting ourselves in the stomach as a disgusting form of suicide (one that’ll most likely send us to hell) – but harakiri was regarded as a way of absolving oneself (and his family) from shame. Apparently, it is still done in some circles, such as the Yakuza.

    Just my 3 sen (including inflation)

  35. aw November 13, 2005 at 9:15 pm #

    Where are you getting this information from – How are they doing this? Getting married to Malays?

    If so, can the Malaysian Chinese get these priviledges if they marry Malays?

  36. smiling buddha November 14, 2005 at 7:53 am #

    Hmm…..morality…basically most of the time…it’s man made laws… Men’s natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of everyone of it’s members. Every one carries his own inch rule of taste and amuses himself by applying it..triumphantly. Greatness consists in bringing all manner of mischief on mankind and goodness in removing it from them.

  37. Equalizer April 28, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    I would say yes there is a universal system of moral rules however they are not absolute, the problem comes in when they use Justification to circumvent these rules. Justification is basically doing something you know is wrong under a certain set of conditions because under those conditions whats wrong is considered right.

    For example killing is wrong this is a universally held rule but when a man is starving and sees you have food he tries to kill you in order to get it because he wants to live you know this but you also know you have to protect your family and you end up killing the man for it but you think to yourself if he hadn’t attacked i wouldn’t have had to kill him so i wasn’t at fault and therefore what i did wasn’t wrong. This is Justification the power to circumvent what would otherwise be held as absolute truth. So the problem lies not with morality itself but the justification of misdeeds.

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