Keep in mind that Inches did not try to define evil itself. He merely marked a particularly "questionable action" as "harmful, unproductive", etc.
right but that's my definition. i have no idea what Inches' definition of evil is - it could be 'ability to fly on Mars'. i am implicitly led to believe that he is using my definition of 'evil' but I'm questioning that due to the context.
If he then wishes to append the word "evil" to such questionable actions, is it a silly point of view? Is it actually silly?
kind of semantic - what I meant was that it's silly and misleading to ask other people whether something is "evil" without first defining what your personal definition of "evil" entails.
Surely there are objective evilnesses and objective goodnesses? To say that goodnesses and evilnesses are not objective is also wrong. There has to be some reference point, no? Or are humans themselves the reference points, or is society?
if we talk about the concept and not the word - but that's a completely different argument! i'll take it up though: given a lack of any ability to precisely define what the term means to an individual, the reference point is the average of what a given society or..well..species believes. just as it's impossible to define "red", but we can still say we have a red car and have other people understand. there's enough of a margin of error, enough of a shared definition, that others can at least piece together an approximation of what I mean when I say something is 'evil' despite not knowing exactly how I or themselves came to the conclusion.
it's similar to how an electron behaves in quantum mechanics. you don't have a little ball running around a nucleus, you have a cloud of probability of where that electron might be. but certain areas are so much higher in probability than others that you can make an inference that approximates the electron as a little ball (for example, when discussing shell types)
As an example, do you think that everyone (obviously excluding children) in a society that taught its inhabitants that raping kids was not merely not evil, but also inherently good, would be perfectly happy with that assertion? Would there not be some sort of internal objection, based on some unknown, undefined reference point?
not sure what you're getting at here - I don't see why such a society would have any more or less objection to it than we have here. certainly either society is going to go "well, yeah, I'm pretty sure raping children is X, bro" but I'm not making a point that's dependent on that. we could easily reverse the entire argument from a standpoint that's directly opposite to what we were taught, but I think we'd be having the same discussion.
You know from past discussions that I'm a Christian, so you see my motivation for asking this. I wish to question this obviously relativistic view, not only because I think relativism is itself an attempt to escape responsibility for certain actions, but also because I think people are intrinsically aware of a 0-Kelvin (so to speak) reference for actions.
And I see the point. Moral relativism and cultural relativism are inherently broken for a number of reasons. I'm not trying to argue or rationalize. But essentially if you take a mechanistic, non-supernatural view of psychology, sociology, etc, it's the only conclusion to draw. Aristotle figured that out a long time ago and rejected Plato's line of thinking that "justice" or "the good" or "beauty" were heavenly ideals, and that everything on earth was an attempt at approximating those ideals. Similarly, my position is (at least to my knowledge) the only way to mechanistically explain society's concepts of evil. We all have a 'spidey sense' of 'this is a bad thing to do, this is a good thing to do', but you don't need to get supernatural to explain it. You just accept that it stems from a variety of complex judgements about the situation that are collectively packaged and perceived as right and wrong, and that those judgements are shared among people of similar physiological, psychological, and sociological backgrounds. We don't usually bring it up because we usually know the other guy understands what we mean by "raping a child is evil", but if you're going to talk about the concept itself you have to discuss the abnormal as well.
Do the characteristics change, or are they dependent on the society? My belief is that, from a societal point of view (i.e. in the way that people see them), the terms of good and evil has some freedom, but will always have a solid grounding somewhere; and from a truly moral point of view, that everything is indeed thoroughly solid. Implicit is of course the assumption that morality is totally independent from society.In the end, I suppose my rejection of this relativism is due to my belief that"evil" is a human-defined conceptbecause in my view it isn't.
Tackled this a little before, but I'll go ahead and rephrase it to address this. The problem is that you can quite easily say "well, it's clear that due to a bunch of guys on an island doing things we believe are pretty nuts that our perceptions of morality are at least in part relative, but there's a foundation somewhere". But that's mixing up the observation and the theory. I don't disagree that that's the case, and I've made the same observation, I'm just attempting to take it a little bit further and more clearly define the roots of that foundation.