sesquipedality: (Queen of Swords)
[personal profile] sesquipedality
Another thought on ethical stances and judgment. In order to not be singling out the Jews, let's pick another example. Some evangelical Christians believe that it is wrong to marry someone who is not themselves a Christian. ("Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14) Ignore for a moment the tone of that verse, which I don't think is terribly helpful, or much embraced by those who follow the modern version of that belief. Now a Christian can say that it is not a value judgement, and that it is about removing obstacles to their own personal practice of righteousness. They are not making a moral judgment about others, merely about what is best for them. The problem with this stance comes in the fact that underneath that reasoning, it has to be accepted that the reason unbelievers are problematic within the internal logic is that they are doing something wrong.

The point I'm getting at is that we might wish to be morally permissive, to say that our ethics are personal and we respect the views of others, but at the bottom of that, we do believe we are right about our ethical stances (perhaps with some degree of doubt, but it would be a very odd or unusual person who embraced an ethical framework they regarded as on balance incorrect).

The problem is that by making a choice, a person is essentially saying the other choices are less good/more wrong. It's intellectually honest to admit that they might be mistaken and respect the choices of others. I'm not sure it's as intellectually honest to say that their choice does not criticise others, because an ethical stance is a value judgment. While it's important to respect the ethical stances of others, I'm not sure we can go as far as to say we don't regard them as acting sub-optimally from an ethical standpoint.

Date: 2015-08-03 09:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naath.livejournal.com
With marriage it might just be a practical thing; for instance if you have wildly different ideas of "what is acceptable food" then it might be really hard to eat together, and eating together is a huge party of how we are social.

And some choices aren't really about being "right" at all, but just being about "what I like doing". I spent my weekend climbing Welsh mountains, which I think is fun *for me* but it's not fun for everyone. I think it's hard to tell when someone has made a choice because they think it is the One True Way and when it is because they think it is the Fun Way For Them.

Date: 2015-08-04 08:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sesquipedality.livejournal.com
But mountain climbing isn't an ethical choice. There are some ethical positions that aren't applicable to others, I suspect, but in general where a person does diverting because they think it is eight, that necessarily implies that other choices are less right.

Date: 2015-08-05 08:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naath.livejournal.com
I just think it's hard to tell whether a person is doing something because they think it is the One Right Thing or because they enjoy it. Yesterday I sat in a cafe wearing my sensible shoes, long-ish skirt, and no makeup, eating a vegetarian meal, and reading a book. I *could* have been secretly judging people who wear heels, trousers, makeup, short skirts... I *could* have been secretly judging people who eat meat or who don't like reading novels... But actually I was just wearing what I felt like wearing that morning, eating the food that looked tasty, and entertaining myself in a way I enjoy.

If someone straight-up tells me "You should do THIS it is the ONE TRUE WAY" then, yes, they are implying that my THAT is actually Wrong. But if someone is doing something different to me then maybe it's just that they like it that way and don't think any moral issue is at question.

(I *could* have been smugly sitting on top of a mountain judging all the people who prefer to spend their weekends sat on a sofa watching TV than doing Active Things; but I wasn't, I was just having fun)

Date: 2015-08-06 05:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] damerell.livejournal.com
I think the Christian might argue that they are just following orders, although since they suppose all God's orders are righteous that doesn't get us far.

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