Some thoughts on moral relatisism.

Moral relativism is a fact in the world we live in.  Each person inevitably constructs his own set of morals, his own system for judging what is "good" and "bad", "right" and "wrong".  Even if one were to believe that morality was not relative, that there was "objective morality" of a divine presence, he would not know what those"objective morals" were.  He would not be able to definitively state what acts were "objectively good" or "objectively bad" since we have no way of divining god's morals.  This leaves us in a world of moral relativism even if we believe there is a divine moral standard. 


Each person creates their own sense of morality.  There are a few base propositions upon which larger moral structures can be erected.  Ideas like ultilitarianism (the greatest good for the greatest number is the most desirable), master-morality (as opposed to slave-morality, Nietzscheian morality), nihilism, or hedonism define what is most valuable in this world, and are ideas around which a larger sense of morality can be constructed.  Religions also provide such core ideas; belief in the god of the bible or the Koran, or belief in any god who was good enough to author a book, provides a person with something more concrete, though undoubtedly also man made, on which to base moral principles.  Whether a person sees god, mankind, or himself as the most important thing in the universe, his sense of morality will shape itself to protect the thing most valued.  When we act in a way that we recognize as detrimental to us individually, but we still think is "right", it is because we are placing ourselves below something we value more.  Though these values might be somewhat abstract, they produce in us a sense that we are not more important than others, that our wants and needs are not supreme.  

Does this mean that one person cann't say that anothers acts are "right" or "wrong" since their morals are subjective?  I say no.  A person can say acts are "good" or "bad" since they consider how the acts will affect something, hopefully something other than themselves, that is not subjective.  An act can be bad for humanity or "bad" because it creates unnecessary sorrow in the world.  Our reasoning for why such an act is morally "wrong" is solid as long as what is considered valuable is shared.  Someone who values something else more, say themselves or even their country or religion, might view such a morally questionable action as "right".  Everyone values something (nihilists excluded), so everyone will have an opinion on moral issues.  People who value the same thing will agree on most issues.  Our evolution as social animals has left us with most people agreeing on most issues, especially the major ones (murder, rape, theft, ect.).

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
popular

In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less