I have been noticing that with increased frequency many posters have been using the word, “amoral” when they in fact meant to say “immoral.” Amoral means that something is without moral value (neither moral nor immoral.) Immoral is the opposite of moral.
I don’t see it as inaccurate. Moral means, basically, “Be a wimpy, whiney, snot-nosed goody-two-shoes” (I’m joking, I’m joking). Amoral means the absence of morals… in other words, someone who’s completely apathetic about being good or not and does something without considering what effect it would have on others.
Immoral means doing things specifically because they hurt people.
For example, in the thread you linked to, if Com2kid said “We should blow up everyone because it would serve our purposes”, that would be amoral. But if he said “We should blow up everyone because it would cause them pain and suffering”, that would be immoral.
Nope, I think you’re wrong SPOOF. That something is without moral values does not make it immoral (or moral.) There are three distinct states here, and we should have three distinct words for them. Blowing shit up without just cause is immoral, because it hurts people without a good reason. Me scratching my nuts is amoral, because it is neither good nor bad.
Sociopaths are amoral: They have no conception of morality whatsoever, so they do things to benefit them without even considering the other person. It is, as far as I know, a genetic disease (ergo, a physical defect at root), so normal people cannot be amoral.
Normal people think of the other person as a matter of genetic course, and then decide whether or not to let that thought guide them. If they do, they are moral. If they do not, they are immoral.
This is a crucial difference: The amoral can be intelligent (in fact, the average sociopathic killer is above-average in intellect), charming (using empty gestures to achieve a desired end, in other words), and very ‘human’ at first blush (no more than a facade). They can smile to your face, treat you like a king, and serve you over rice to the next victim. How? Because they don’t connect you with themselves. They have no internal isometry that says ‘His pain is just as my pain is, his joy is just as my joy is, etc.’ Their downfall is a sexual perversion: The serial killer takes physical pleasure in the dominion over, and destruction of, other humans. This leads to ritualized behavior acted out against a specific subset of the population. All of the things profilers look for, in other words. They are amoral, yet they still have emotions. They just don’t comprehend the emotions of others.
(All of this is reminding me of The Heart of Darkness and, to a lesser extent, ‘Apocalypse Now’. Especially Kurtz’s final words: “The horror. The horror.” It has always been my opinion that Kurtz was speaking of the horror of having people in the world who are dedicated, disciplined, honorable, and sociopathic. The Congo natives, in other words, or the Viet Cong.)
If a person is taught right from wrong by their parents, but what their parents teach them is not right to start with, but simply what the parents believe to be right and wrong, is that person amoral, immoral, or moral? For an example from my life; some people don’t teach their children it’s wrong to litter, and in fact teach their children it’s right to litter by example. Now, if these kids grow up and litter freely, they feel they are acting in a moral fashion, because they were taught to litter by their parents. In my opinion, based on having been taught it is wrong to litter, they are behaving immorally, but not in their own frame of reference.
And what, you may ask, is my point? Umm, that morality discussions are particularly subjective, I think. I have a cold, and it may just be the medicine talking.
I think you make an excellent point featherlou. Morality is so subjective that most definitions boil down to the ol’ USSC standby definition of “i know it when i see it”.
As for the use of “amoral”, I’ve noticed it being used a lot lately in a political or social context.
For example–genital mutilation of young girls. By our standards, it’s wrong and immoral. By their standards it’s an accepted practice. Now, I feel it’s wrong to do this regardless of one’s belief structure, but many people would argue otherwise. This attitude–that any act is devoid of inherent “right or wrong” outside of the social or political arena in which it takes place–is amoral.
Amoral means, purely and simply, that there is no moral judgment affixed to a given act.
For a devout Catholic, taking communion is a moral act.
For an Orthodox Jew or a vegetarian-on-principle, eating a cheeseburger is an immoral act.
For most people, eating a Popsicle is an amoral act, neither contrary to a moral stricture nor in support of one.
belladonna: “This attitude–that any act is devoid of inherent “right or wrong” outside of the social or political arena in which it takes place–is amoral.” I’ve never considered something amoral outside of a moral framework before. For without a moral framework, how can one even say it is devoid of morality?
I said “most people,” Thurgin – one young lady (I use the term loosely, but so was she) that my foster son was so foolish as to date was able to make eating a single-stick frozen item into an X-rated performance.