Can There Be Absolute Morality

Do you believe there is such a thing as absolute morality-ie morality which was applicable ten thousand years ago, applicable now, and applicable ten thousand years from now, which will not change as long as sapient life exists? I’m not talking just about morality. To give an example is murder always and always was and always will be?

I believe this question is, and must remain, one of the great mysteries.

Why must it remain so? Because there probably is an ultimate morality, if morality is to mean anything - but any attempts to set it down in stone forever are doomed to be imperfect. They will, occasionally at least, be found to go against the moral good.

Yes since most of our morals come from evolutionary traits that helped us survive. Morals that will likely be absolute include
Do not harm high ranking/valuable members of your group
People outside the group aren’t as valuable as those inside it
Reciprocation is good


Murder isn’t wrong on a variety of levels.

In our society murder of humans is wrong. Unless it is in self defense, capital punishment or warfare. Other societies disagree with one or all three.

Murder of non-humans isn’t really seen as wrong (insects can be murdered with abandon. Dogs and cats not so much, but still not as big a deal).

Murder of humans itself isn’t really wrong in various cultures.

So there is too much discrepency in who/why/when/how you can murder to say murder is wrong. But by and large murdering a high value human member of your group/tribe will always be considered wrong.

I put it to you that some of those “absolute” precepts will occasionally go against other “absolutes.” And yet, that that doesn’t necessarily invalidate them in all cases.

In moral principle, you can get the chair for murdering a Black janitor just as you can for assassinating Barack Obama. Both are held to be 100 per cent wrong. However, if mores (which “frame” morals in society and affect their use and even meaning) come into the picture, you might only get life for killing such a minority in a low station, or in a White supremacist society, you might even be let off scot-free.

Ie: let’s be clear about mores vs. morality. The tribe functions mostly at the level of mores, whether it admits this or not. Most don’t, and can’t.

“Murder”, by definition, is wrong. Did you mean killing?

But you’re making a big leap from the time window of +/- 10k years and “sapient life”.

Different sapient life forms might have very different moralities.

At any rate, your OP is not well defined. You seem to making stabs at various things that are somewhat related, but that don’t really coalesce into a coherent thesis.

These traits helped our genes to propagate, which is a distinct phenomenon from that of our own survival.

There could be situations in which what is good for gene propagation is not good morally.

Even the evolutionary traits you’re talking about function to help humans survive, this could only be a basis for “absolute morality” if human survival is an absolute good–and that’s not obvious.

What does it mean for a morality to be (or not be) applicable?

I’ve posited my own moral code here before, and I believe that, unless there’s an error in my logic, or unless logic itself is faulty, it’s universal. That doesn’t mean that every person or species follows it, but that for the common definition of “should,” every entity capable of following it should follow it.

Briefly: I experience “should” as applying to those things that fulfill my desires. If I say something should occur, I mean that it meets my desires for it to occur. I believe other desires exist outside of myself, and those desires are functionally equivalent to mine, so logically “should” also applies to those desires as well. If I should do the things that meet my desires, I logically should also do those things that meet other desires.

That’s the nutshell version. When it gets into conflicting desires, it gets tricky; but the above lays out the very bedrock of the morality.

Morality is a human construct, so, no. And I don’t just mean in the sense that humans differ in the way they define morality; humans are organisms, and organisms evolve (or more likely, go extinct). If our “biological impulses” change, so will our moralities.

Murder (or at least, killing humans - note again the human-centricity of morality) has never been anything like absolute. See: manslaughter, self-defense, war etc.

I mean the planned murder of someone not in self-defence or war.

Still not good enough–revenge fantasies are very common, and plenty of people have no problem at all with a good revenge story. There are also plenty of people who think that killing someone because of their race or religion is justified: look at mid-nineties Rwanda for a few million examples.

If there is an absolute morality, proving it based on the actions of the masses will be impossible. I think that it’s more analogous to mathematics than it is to science.

Well revenge for what and what is the nature of the revenge? Revenge for a Mafia boss who murdered your family’s pretty different from revenge for a guy who humiliated you at the prom. And a lot of the revenge is theoretical-if push comes to shove can they really kill a human being?

But I agree with the actions of the masses having little to do with whether something is moral or not but consider that most of the world reacted with horror to the Rwanda genocide.

Asking “Can there be absolute morality?” is similar to asking “Can there be absolute money?”

Money has value because we collectively act as though it has value. If we stopped treating dollar bills as valuable, then they would cease to be so. Bill Gates is the richest man in the world because we all agree to treat him as the richest man in the world. His enormous power is derived entirely from our collective consent.

Morality exists when we collectively act as though there is a difference between good and evil. It, like money, is a convenient fiction for organizing human society in useful ways. There is no absolute morality, only a pragmatic recognition that living together requires shared rules, and that certain shared rules dovetail nicely with our evolutionary psychological heritage as tribal hunter/gatherers.

I disagree: I think it’s similar to asking, “Is there such a thing as two?” No, you can’t hold “two” in your hand. No, you can’t design an experiment to falsify the equation 1+1=2. But you can reach certain conclusions from certain beginning principles, and you can find that the conclusions reached thereby bear strong relevance to what happens in the world.

Morality is math. Etiquette is money.

You can, however, have two in the bush.

Objective morality, no, absolute morality, yes.

No such thing. Beyond the law of reciprocity nothing seems to be truly universal in terms of human behaviour. Even that very basic rule is broken often and hard in all societies when it is convenient to do so. You could perhaps derive a system of “good” and “bad” based upon the most socially and biologically bland of concepts shared by the state state of being human; but such a system will always have those exceptions.

This is a strange question IMHO.

Morality is a human construct. It’s a human model of social behavior based on some low level set of impulses that stem from our biological evolutionary history and more complex behaviors based on our social evolution.

It’s like asking: Is there any such thing as “perfect” art? What does that even mean? Perfect for whom? And how do you define perfect? How do you objectify/quantify it?

No more so than math.

Apples and oranges.

Math is a human construct used to describe natural interactions and quantify things objectively. Morality is purely a social construct that has no physical world analogue.