Is morality subjective?

The Holocaust, Rwanada, Somalia, the Rape of Nanking, the atomic bombing of Japan, the civil wars of the Philipine and Indonesian islands, the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Sierra Lionne, Uganda, Ethipoia, Macedonia, the Armenian Holocaust, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Angola, etc.

Yes, I am fully aware of what it implies depending on OUR definition of who is in the tribe. If we expand the tribe to every single human being, none of this will happen. If we define tribe along ethnic, religous, state or ideological lines- then we already know the end result. However, war can be moral- and neccessary. It is a law of ecology.

The limiting factor in an environment becomes the determining factor for the life that will live their. In the arctic it is liquid water and heat, in the desert it is liquid water and shade, etc. These conditions create LIMITED supplies of caloric energy that must be consumed as well as other resources. Destroying competition is moral as in ensures our own survival. However, humans apply this on a conceptually larger level- that of the social group (I prefer this term over tribe since tribe has no scientific definition while social group does- look into social psych 102).

Scenario, 2 social groups are in the same 20 square km. area. A drougt falls on them 3rd year in a row. Neither group decides to migrate north to cooler areas- assuming the other group will do so. Will they not try to divert rivers to their territory as far upstream as possible? Will they not try to collect as many fruits and vegetables as possible as early in the season as possible? Will they not hunt as muh as possible, even on the territory of the other group to ensure their survival through the winter? Morally, they must do this to ensure their survival. If they caught members of the other tribe stealing their smoked meat, would it not be moral to kill them? This is morality- survival of the social group- whatever that group happens to be.

I might add that many youths who come from broken homes join various gangs and other criminal organizations specifically for the feeling of family/social groups because we know on a genetic level that we can only survive in a group.


I think that's a very poor definition of morality. According to your definition "the angles of a triangle in Euclidean space add up to 180 degrees" is a moral statement.

Also, I don't see exactly what's meant by "correct" morals in your post. That looks like the naturalistic fallacy to me.

No, that is a mathematical statement that has nothing to do with long term group survival.

Morals: the def I copied from was

concisely expressed precept or general truth; a maxim.

Now, many maxims exist that are not true. For example, the wicked never prosper, only women can understand the mystical, the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing, etc. These ideas are fundamentally flawed from the perspective of a social group- and therefore are incorrect morals.


I think Cabal is right, eventhough I liked your idea of expanding the idea of tribe to whole humankind.

Now expand it to all living beings, including animals and the Earth that we live on, and your idea will look even better. ;-)

"However, war can be moral- and neccessary. It is a law of ecology. "

That wars happen is a fact, that wars sometimes are moral and/or necessary is the naturalistic fallacy.

It´s basicly the maxim of 'might makes right' reworded.

I will try another example. Using very specific details.

2 prides of lions have a territory that border each other on one side. If a plague runs through the zebras or antelope, killing many of them- there are fewer calories in the entire ecosystem. Because the lions exist above the zebras/antelopes, they have fewer calories to fed on. Therefore, the two hunting area will begins to overlap (hunts are only successful 30% of the time). When one hunting party of females is confronted by the other prides' hunting party (or worse the male) their options are run away or fight. Both, in this case are moral because ensrue the survival of the next generation. If five hungry females go up against three hungry females- we both know who will win. The pride now has a larger hunting area, more zebra/antelope to eat and enough calories exist below them to ensure the survival of the next generation. Lions are not consious of this process but it does exist. Do you not see the moral neccessity, the cruel kindness that this is? It is not as simple as might makes right. It is might makes right- for the social group's next generation under dire circumstance! Any social group with the ability to survive long term has only two needs- survival and raising the young. That's it. ONLY when these are threatened does war become moral. If (and this does not happen in the wild) two prides meet and both have more than enough to eat, they engage in combat- it is immoral because the injuries and deaths that can occur are not condusive to helping the next generation.

On a different level, when an eagle lays 3 eggs. It is MORAL for the first and strongest bird hatched to KILL the other birds shortly after they are hatched since the eagle mother can not catch enough food to feed all of them. Since their is a limitation on their survival due to a limiting factor (calories), a way had to be established. In this case, removal of competition from siblings. This is moral because it guarantees survival of the speceis. Birds in captivity who are given excess food must have their chicks seperated so they do not kill each other- becuase that would be immoral killing because (though they don't understand it), their survival is clear given the fact that they live in a zoo.

I hope this helps explain my view.

Also, w/o getting into religion both the Bible and the Koran argue that some wars are moral and neccessary while others are not.


Your still deriving "should" from "is" MS. More examples of the same fallacy wont strenghten it, sorry, especially considiring using examples from the animal kingdom that is supposed to be valid among us humans.

You don't consider nature to be moral? I believe the curel/kindness of nature to be the highest teacher of morals.

We can go down to the level of ants. In Brazil, ants make war on each other when they cross territorial lines.

Hmm.. maybe I am not understanding your counter-arguement.

I gave a def. but I will personally reword it so that it makes more sense: a moral is "A guiding principal". IMO (as I opened my arguement above) all correct morals stem from group survival.

If you do not believe this, please tell me why. Do not most morals teach lessons that can only work if applied to everyone in the group? If only one person broke it, does that not create the exact atmosphere the moral was trying to prevent.

Please show me which part of my arguement you disagree with.


FudoMyoo is correct.

"concisely expressed precept or general truth; a maxim."

I don't see why my mathematical statement isn't a moral statement according to this definition. Is it not a general truth?

"You don't consider nature to be moral?"


imo, nature just *is*, what happens happens. animals have to fight and kill others for their survival, or the survival of their group. Animals do this naturally, by instinct. but we humans have a counsciousness that sometimes doesn´t "allow" us to do what would be best for our survival or something that would benefit our tribe.

If one (hypotethical) tribe, lets call it the Western world, choosed to attack and seize control of as much of the world that it could, raping all their beautiful women (=better DNA for their offspring --> good in your system), stealing all their money and resources etc etc, would that really be moral?

imo definatly not, but it´s something not only allowed, but also something that you *should* do according to your moral system.

Embracing the whole humanity is a neat idea, but how is that supposed to work practically? The inclusion criterias for a tribe is totally arbitrary so far. You will end up were people with the power will include the ones he likes and exclude the rest (pretty much like Hitler did, when he wanted to have more "lebensraum" for the Aryan race, his "tribe").

then you will still have the moral problems regarding animals and he planet, are they part of our tribe aswell? Or do we have the right to treat animals and mother Earth as we please too? Many peoples counsciousness doesn´t "allow" them to do things like above, that´s why we have people that are pacifists, vegetarians and greenpeace etc.

There are so many problems with your system imo, but I will stop here. ;-)


Did you watch the movie "A Beautiful Mind"?

There is the example (related to your 2 scenary) of men competing for women´s attention.

Cooperation has more value to group survival than competition. The tribes should be together instead of fighting each other.

Donna- Yes they should, but as Sun Tzu said- (paraphrased) When two armies are caught in a great storm, they will work together to out last it.

Or to quote Disraeli "Men only change when they have to." As long as I can get away with pounding the crap out of you, then I will not work with you. Only when I am equally (or more so) threatened than you would I be willing to work with you.

Fudo- Here lies a fundamental difference in the way we see the world. You see nature as being indifferent while I see a great moral teacher. You do not. The example you gave is incorrect because the western tribe was not limited in survival factors (food, water, shelter, clothing). Only if one of these is threatened to the point of threatening the survival of the next generation does war become moral. It is not moral to go out and kill everyone because we would like their resources- no. It is moral though crops failed for several years and the young began to die, to invade a neighboring country that had food- because that ensures our survival.

As I said in my original statement, this is all IMO. You can give me your def of morals and morality and then give examples.


"Fudo- Here lies a fundamental difference in the way we see the world. You see nature as being indifferent while I see a great moral teacher. You do not."

well actually I do too, but in a very different way then you it seems.

"Only if one of these is threatened to the point of threatening the survival of the next generation does war become moral."

That is a extremely subjective and arbitrary measurement. Just look at Bush and his justification for his Iraq-invasion..

"because that ensures our survival."

Why is survival moral?

Why is it moral that I survive on the expense of someone else? If we (in a hypotethical exampel) have two persons A and B and their is only enough food or one. One (A) wants to kill the other to survive, while the other (B) one sacrifies himself for the other to let him live on.

According to your moral system you then think that person A was more moral then person B.

Well, I don´t. But I rspect your view.

"You can give me your def of morals and morality and then give examples."

The thing is that I don´t beieve in morals in the way you do at all. I don´t believe in "shoulds". I think it would take a very long time for me to explain though what I believe, and I´m a bit tired right now.

If two people were stuck with enough food for only one, then it would be moral for them to fight until one dies- yes.

I guess our views differ considerably. I see life/death, kindness/cruelty, etc. in the intrinsic design as being moral and the need for long term survival as the supreme moral. Why? Because without long term survival, nothing else matters.

As to Pres. Bush's invasion of Iraq (oh, do I want to get into this here....) it was immoral but understandable. Only if the CIA, military intel, MI6, etc. could PROVE he was developing or had WMD and had motive to supply or use them would the war have been moral (as the war in Afghanistan was and no one raises a question about it because we recognize it as moral).

I do not want this discussion to degenrate into a political discussion, we have the OG for that.


"Donna- Yes they should, but as Sun Tzu said- (paraphrased) When two armies are caught in a great storm, they will work together to out last it. "

Humans still need to learn to be smarter and get together *before* they need to swallow their pride.

"Because without long term survival, nothing else matters. "

But the body necessarily dies...

Don´t you think under the perspective of eternal spiritual life?

While I believe the soul is eternal, the body is transitory- we must do what we can to perserve it.

Right, but for me it doesn´t mean that "nothing else matters".

In fact, many parents will give their own food for their children, even if themselves are starving.

"I guess our views differ considerably."

No kidding..

"Because without long term survival, nothing else matters. "

I thought you believed in God. Don´t you have faith that such a scenario wouldn´t happen?

"(oh, do I want to get into this here....) "

Good idea you are right, lets not do that. My mistake.

Donna- but that is long-term survival, genetically they survive through their children.

Fudo- Depends on how you interp. the Covenant. In the year 6001 (we are in 5763) it comes up for renewal. It also depends on how you interp. the duties of G-d, man and the Jews specifically. Some Jews (generally those from the Holocaust) believe that G-d violated the Covenant and that the Jews are now free agents among the nations of earth. So it really comes down to what you believe in.