The debate "There are no objective moral truths. Each person creates his own morals. If you disagree explain." was started by
December 14, 2018, 10:38 pm.
By the way, JDAWG9693 is disagreeing with this statement.
35 people are on the agree side of this discussion, while 30 people are on the disagree side.
That might be enough to see the common perception.
It looks like most of the people in this community are on the agreeing side of this statement.
JDAWG9693 posted 26 arguments to the agreers part.
TheExistentialist posted 34 arguments, JDAWG9693 posted 27 arguments, Harryson posted 1 argument, molly posted 1 argument to the disagreers part.
thepanther0197, lala, Jakellutis, davidjohnson1953, DollarStoreDildo, politicsislife, goodlo and 28 visitors agree.
JDAWG9693, TheExistentialist, Harryson, tejaswini, molly, wilsoergel76, WiseWords and 23 visitors disagree.
Also, from what I can tell, social contract theory is subject to the same critisisms as egoism, as one only obeys the contract in self-interest.
@TheExistentialist Wait a minute, isn't contractarianism just cultural moral relativism? If not, what is the difference?
So, are you arguing for a form objective morality? If so, please, let us discuss it c: What might your morals/theory of morality be?
I believe there is never a such thing as creating ur own moral u never created urself so the morals u live by are the morals of life yeah I believe u can choose to urself what u want to believe is right or wrong but that doesn't change the system of what really is.
it looks like he's trying to advocate for social contract theory of some sort but just hasn't read any of the actual texts.
He's making an interesting ontological and epistemological claim about the relationship between reason, truth, good, and bad. I guess we'll see if he develops it any further.
I do still hope to hear from Harryson, though, and hope you will help me with him
Well, it looks like I might be an ethical nihilist. Time to find out which kind c:
I have very much enjoyed our fruitful discussion and hope to have more with you in the future.
And, it looks like social contract theory will most likely be in my near future XD
Well; Social Contract Theory is not an Objective moral theory and so it may not "feel" like a moral theory in the same way "divine command theory" might "feel" like a moral theory but it does cover the requirements to be a theory of ethics/morals.
All that is required of a comprehensive moral theory is that it have "ought" statements (social contract theory clearly has those) and it has to provide reason to act in accordance to those "ought" statements (social contract theory clearly has that) thus it is clearly a functional theory of ethics.
"....like, I feel that murder is wrong, but you're right in that I can't really justify it through anything more than emotions and preferences."
well; that's all that's needed in ethical nihilism.
Also, Harryson, I would love a few "objective morals" that we could debate about.
Harryson, your example is not for objective morality. You give a logical syllogism, but it is not moral. For example, why is a not dwindling society good? If it is good or not would decide whether the action of murdering or not us morally good, but not simply the fact the the population would decrease because of it.
I do admit, however that I am already an epistemological nihilist and an existential nihilist, so what's one more to the list? XD
Not attending to those mistakes or calling for aid could be considered malpractice, but that is beside the point.
However, the more we speak, I am leaning more and more towards moral nihilism. I just can't get passed the emotions; like, I feel that murder is wrong, but you're right in that I can't really justify it through anything more than emotions and preferences.
However, I still think that social contract theory is not a basis of morality, only good ideas for the progress of society.
But where do you derive your duty to act "right" from? If you reject the Kantian concept of duties then you're arbitrarily assigning duties with no coherent methodology; meaning you don't have a coherent moral philosophy just whims and preferences i.e. a nihilist
"political example I would call that stealing"
not necessarily stealing; more deception really. You're not stealing money from voters....just not acting in their best interest as expected
"medical example i would call that malpractice"
not really malpractice; just not taking responsibility. Malpractice implies there was a deviation of standard of practice; mistakes aren't a deviation from the standard of practice.
Because the contract is only between the people who have agreed to it and the government they form. So the restraint of natural rights does not apply to, let's call them - "outsiders".
In other words, there is no duty for a society as a whole, or even individuals within a society to restrain their natural capacities in regards to an "outsider". The duty to protect and respect "civil rights" applies only to members of the society. Thus we may do unto the outsider that which we are capable and willing to do.
And, using social contract theory practically, you agree that to those who reject the social contract, we have no moral right to give them consequences, yes? So, what gives us (social contract approvers) the right to jail or fine the rejecters?
You're basing many circumstances on knowing one of my moral principles. For your political example I would call that stealing. For your medical example i would call that malpractice. I do have duties, however sometimes, yes, my duty can be to only not act (in the case of lying).
"I simply do my best to use the four formulas when writing my moral claims. And, my duty is to not lie, not to tell the teuth; that is how I word my moral claim of honesty (or dishonesty, rather)."
so you're picking and choosing without concern for coherency since duties are an integral part of Kant's CI.
So according to your philosophy you have no onus to act in regards to the "good/right" only to not-act in regards to the "bad/wrong"
Let's say I adopt your personal reading of the CI. I could go into politics, take money from special interests, hide that fact through omission (since I have no duty to tell the truth), act in accordance to my donors and not my constituents; and there would be no ethical dilemma for you. I could be a loan originator and simply omit telling my clients about certain aspects of the loan (changing interest rates, accruing penalty clauses, etc....) and that would be ok since I'm not actually lying, I'm simply not telling the truth. I could go into nursing, not tell anyone about the mistake and that would be ok even if it could cause the death of that patient since I'm not lying, I'm just not telling the truth.
This all seems to conflict with the concept of Kant's duty of treating others as an end and not a means.....but since you are a relativist, that is ok.
" I still don't have an answer for why the contract changes the morals because the contract only makes logical claims of how to improve the society, not moral ones."
In the natural world; killing is a capacity of humans and therefore is a right we may exercise at our own discretion. Once we enter the social contract we surrender our "natural rights" and gain "civil rights" (those natural rights that we agreed to not surrender and that we have agreed to protect). This agreement gives rational beings an obligation to act in accordance with the agreement and thus we are subject to moral judgements in-so-far as we act within our obligations. So not only is "murder wrong" in social contract theory, but the pursuit of justice in case of murder is "right" and we are obligated to act in accordance to both principles. So murder becomes "wrong" only because we have a duty not to murder in a society. No such duty exists in the natural world and thus murder is "not-wrong".
I am arguing for the disagreeing side:
I will start by stating that anything that is objective is completely outside the influence of personal feelings and opinions.
For one, it is very difficult for one to argue that there is not a single human moral derived from an objective and logical origin.
Now, let me use some logic. For example, It is true that if people decided to murder each other as they pleased, and their was no retribution, our population would eventually dwindle. Based on this FACT, people can logically reason that murder is BAD for the survival of the human race.
Therefore, people have just developed a fully objective moral based entirely from a logical/factual standpoint.
It is easy to argue that everything is based on opinion, but if everything was based upon opinion, then why do we have any structure to our society at all? There are so many contrasting opinions, how do we find common ground? The answer is that we have structure in society due to sound reasoning, logic, and pursuing an objective standpoint.
That is correct, I do not subscribe to CI, I simply do my best to use the four formulas when writing my moral claims. And, my duty is to not lie, not to tell the teuth; that is how I word my moral claim of honesty (or dishonesty, rather).
And, I agree with many of the moral claims set forth by social contract theory, just not why. I agree that murder is wrong, and I agree that it is detrimental to a society if people just started murdering and being that it is harmful to the progress of society is one of the reasons that I believe that homicide is morally wrong, but also because I believe that it is morally wrong to end another life without a valid reason (self defense and the defense of others are the only ones that I can think of). Because making a moral claim cannot simply be based on preference, you're right on that; it must also be intellectually justified.
Going back to murder and to simplify it, I believe it is wrong to commit homicide for any reason other than defense of a person because if everyone did it for any other reason, society would regress, or at least remain still, and that people have the valuable ability of sophonce, which should never be destroyed without proper reasoning (defense).
Social contract theory would say that it's morally wrong because it breached the contract and for no other reason.
And, I still don't have an answer for why the contract changes the morals because the contract only makes logical claims of how to improve the society, not moral ones.
Then you are not using kantian philosophy. If you read Kant's "groundworks of the metaphysics of morals" you'd know that Kant describes Truth Telling as a "strict duty". So silence in a violation of your duty to tell the truth.
Without the concept of duty you could never compel someone to act in accordance with the categorical imperative only not-act. Without the duty to act in accordance to what is "right" you would always be justified to omitt to act in regards to that which is "right". You would only be compelled to not-act in accordance to that which is "wrong" making it only half of a moral theory.
".....if one were to live with only his natural rights, then there would be moral nihilism correct? "
No; because moral statements, in social contract theory, are expressions of rights and not preference. So the claim "murder is right" is true in the natural world with natural rights intact. It is essentially a claim of "I have the capacity for murder, therefore I have a right to murder" not "I prefer to murder". Now, it is true that all acts are morally "right" and none are morally "wrong" in the natural world with natural rights intact. This, however, does not remove truth value from the terms "right/wrong" and does not make the statements "murder is right" and "murder is wrong" equal. "Murder is right" and "not-murder is right" in the natural world are true while "murder is wrong" and "not-murder is wrong" are both not-true.
"Social Contract Theory is simply a list of things that make society more productive"
No, social contract theory is a Treaty between the state and the individual which imposes duties onto both.
I hadn't heard about the silence part, but I have heard the rest. I don't agree with that silence being equal to lying, though. My moral wording is not to always tell the truth, it is to never lie and it is worded that way for a reason.
So Kant himself actually addresses this. He considers the "third" option deception or lies by omission and finds them a violation of duty.
He claims that you have an absolute duty to tell the truth and that silence would be an omission of that duty.
He also addresses the murderer scenario himself "..if you have by a lie prevented someone just now bent on murder from committing the
deed, then you are legally accountable for all the consequences that might arise from it"
He goes on to say that because you cannot foresee consequences, you have no idea if the person you tried to save has heard you talk to the murderer and runs out the back door. If you somehow get the murderer to leave (through lies or silence) he may run into the person you're trying to save and may kill him anyway and YOU would now be culpable. Kant contends that of you told the truth, the murderer may have walked in seen that the person in question is not there giving your friend time to run to safety.
Kant goes on to say that even if you telling the truth and causes the murderer to act and kill your friend, you are not culpable because you acted in accordance to your duties.
Yes, I would say that. At the very least, there is always silence, which I would argue is a better option than lying. Or, one could always simply ignore the question and stall or distract or talk about other subjects. All of which would be in the category on not lying.
Yes, each moral claim is correct to the one claiming it, I thought you meant that it was correct to all or objectively correct; I should have clarified.
In social contract theory, if one were to live with only his natural rights, then there would be moral nihilism correct? If so, then I don't think that any moral value can be drawn from the social contract, only logical claims. Yes, society us more productive if we do not murder, but that doesn't necessarily make it moral or immoral to murder, it would simply make society less productive.
Social Contract Theory is simply a list of things that make society more productive, as long as there are no morals without the contract. They're good ideas, but not moral ideas.
How are both not-correct but true at the same time?
If both have equal truth values it makes them equally correct to the independent observer doesnt it?
Since we've agreed that, in individual moral relativism, moral claims are expressions of preference not universal truth claims we could make the analogy of person "a" claiming "I prefer red" and person "b" claiming "I prefer blue". The independent observer would hold both as true and correct to each individual. How is "I prefer lying" and "I prefer not-lying" not both true and correct?
"...what moral right do you have to impose your morals on that person?"
I have no right to impose any morality on a person who rejects the social contract. His actions are not subject to moral judgement.
However, society now is able to bring it's collective and full set of natural rights upon that person as there is no agreement to not assert our natural rights. So while a person my not want to agree to the social contract, and may act in accordance to his natural rights, he has no basis by which to claim that his natural rights be unimpeded. Meaning we, as a individuals and society as a whole, may do onto them that which we are capable of. So if we have the desire to kill, jail, torture, disfigure, rape, exile, etc... an individual outside of our social contact, there is no moral issue with doing so.
I think you're misunderstanding false dichotomy fallacies. Since lying, according to the kantian thought model you used, is either always right or always wrong, presenting a binary scenario is not a false dichotomy between the two choices.
If you insist on claiming it a false dichotomy, then you must be asserting there is always a third option between lying/not-lying regardless of the scenario. Is this the argument you want to make?
Again. that is a false dichotomy.
But, if you insist on a fallacious argument: yes, it is morally wrong, but I know that I would do it anyway.
Not both are correct, both have an equal truth value. And, I'm fairly certain that rapists and murderers don't care about the social contract. And, if someone does not agree to abide by the social contract (not just breaking it but disowning it or having never owned it altogether), what moral right do you have to impose your morals on that person?
I should clarify here: when I compare Utilitarianism to social contract theory, I'm of course referring to the subjective consequentialist version rather than the normative version.
i.e. Intent matters.
"That isn't true. Not all objective morality claims are absolute and not all absolute claims are objective."
True; I oversimplified for the purpose of making a point. However, it remains that social contract theory is more like utilitarianism in that it bases the ethical "right/wrong" statement on the consequence and not the act itself. So if the consequence is a violation of a right it is wrong but there is no claim about the act itself. So Murder is neither right or wrong in and of itself in social contract theory. It is the violation of the right-to-life in the absence of the pursuit of justice that makes it wrong just like in Utilitarianism murder isn't wrong or right; the moral claim stems from the cause of pain/pleasure as a result of the act. This makes both theories distinctly subjective.
"That is a fallacious dichotomy. I could also not answer or say that they can check back later or stall the murderer. I've heard it before and the criticism is fallacious."
No; the scenario is set up to force a choice between the "good" outcome and the "good" act. The scenario itself isn't so much the issue but rather the concept. So, while you're trying to find ways around the particular scenario. The point here is: do known consequences affect the decisions you make. I.e. would lying to safe a life be wrong? or would telling the truth at the cost of someone's life be right?
"But, subjectively one is greater than the other"
by what measure? In individual moral relativism (which is what you're arguing for) there can be no measure of "greater" or "less than".
If you were debating someone on the subject of rape and you would likely make a statement like: "rape is wrong because you're using the victim as a means and not an end in themselves"
A moral egoist might argue: "rape is right if it fulfills a desire as the only onus we have is to fulfill our own desires and we have no obligation to consider others in that pursuit"
If you're then asked which statement is correct you'd have to say: "both are equally correct, I simply prefer my moral conclusion".
So in terms of convincing others; you have no method by which to compel them to act or reason in any way that complies with your conclusion. You also can't judge someone for acting in a way that is different than your moral conclusion. So if the moral egoist does rape someone you can't actually say: "the rapist was wrong", rather you'd have to say: "the rapist acted right and in accordance with his/her moral philosophy"
And, yes, the two claims do have the same moral value objectively. But, subjectively one is greater than the other, and that is what one (me) attempts to change in the other.
That is a fallacious dichotomy. I could also not answer or say that they can check back later or stall the murderer. I've heard it before and the criticism is fallacious.
That isn't true. Not all objective morality claims are absolute and not all absolute claims are objective.
"That would mean that there are no morals in the natural world"
Correct; there are no moral claims outside of the social contract. Just like Utilitarianism has no moral claims outside of acts that cause pain/pleasure.
"wouldn't that also be an objective form of morality as all moral claims would then be based on the objective social contract?"
no. Objective moral theories are defined by absolutes. "Lying is wrong" is an objective claim; it has no qualifier for when it is wrong, no exception, etc.... In social contract theory lying isn't always wrong. Lying is only wrong if there is a violation of rights; just like in Utilitarianism lying is only wrong if it causes more pain than pleasure.
" For example, one claim would be that, "no person should lie." This applies to all, not just me, and was a moral created by me and follows all of the formulas for Categorical Imperativism"
sure; but you couldn't actually impose that claim on anyone as relativism says "every person should lie" is equal to "no person should lie". Both statements are correct and neither statement is better than the other. You also have a poor base for an argument since when you're trying to "convince" people that "no person should lie" you'd have to concede that "every person should lie" has the same moral value and is in no way inferior to your claim.
"To clarify, though, I do not subscribe to Kantian Categorical Imperatives, I simply use his formulas."
by using his formulas you also subscribe to the same criticisms along with the criticisms already established for relativism. The "murderer at the door" criticism comes to mind since we're talking about lying. In Kantian philosophy the claim "you ought not to lie" is an absolute statement. It has to circumstantial exception or consequential modifier.
So the moral dilemma is described as something like this:
Your mother/sister/brother/wife/husband is at home, as are you. There is a knock on the door and you answer. The person at the door is a known murderer who you know for a fact wants to murder your mother/sister/brother/wife/husband. You have no way of preventing this murder physically, no way of calling for help etc.... The murder asks "is your mother/sister/brother/wife/husband home?". You know that if you tell the truth he will murder the person in question for sure. If you lie however, you know for a fact that the murderer will simply leave and never return. By telling the truth you condemn your mother/sister/brother/wife/husband to death; by lying you save their life. Since you use the Categorical Imperative to shape your morality, you must condemn your mother/sister/brother/wife/husband to a violent death by the murderer at your door.
That would mean that there are no morals in the natural world. And, wouldn't that also be an objective form of morality as all moral claims would then be based on the objective social contract?
Um, no? If I always lie, that would not be functional. And, the wording of my moral principles make it so that they do not only apply to me, otherwise I would have no right to even convince anyone of my morals. My moral principles are worded in a way so they apply to everyone. For example, one claim would be that, "no person should lie." This applies to all, not just me, and was a moral created by me and follows all of the formulas for Categorical Imperativism. To clarify, though, I do not subscribe to Kantian Categorical Imperatives, I simply use his formulas.
"I attempt to create my morals using the four formulas of the Categorical Imperative Theory, one of which states that the moral principle must be universalizable."
You're holding 2 categorically opposed points of view here. In individual moral relativism you claim that every individual is the author of their own moral codes, Kantian philosophy however requires universal applications of moral questions. So if you were to use the concept of lying and put it through the Categorical Imperative you'd say: "EVERYONE should ALWAY lie" and you'd measure that against "NOBODY should EVER lie". Logic would tell you that the first statement is a non-functional imperative since lies don't work unless they can be hidden among true claims. So everyone always lying cannot be "good". The second statement is a functional imperative as there is no logical error in the statement.
Here is where you run into problems though:
You claim that you are for individual moral relativism. That means your statement can't be Kantian. When you evaluate lying for example; you have to apply the Categorical Imperative to only you. So your Kantian check would be "I should ALWAYS lie" and "I should NEVER lie". The first statement here is a functional imperative as lies can still function in the context of a society if you're the only one always lying. The second statement is also a functional imperative. So you have no method of choosing between the two that is logically consistent.
"But, in subscribing to social contract theory, you imply that it is morally right to be able to more freely exercise your capacity to life at the expense of your capacity to violence"
No; I'm not implying that at all. Moral/ethical choices are necessarily defined by "ought/should" statements in all moral/ethical theories. You ought not to murder, you ought not to steal, etc.... In social contract theory there is no "ought" claim about accepting or rejecting the social contract as neither accepting or rejecting is a violation of a natural right. It's more akin to choosing a restaurant to eat at. It's a choice, sure, but not one with ethical implications. The "ought" statements in Social contract theory are derived from the violation of rights. The act of accepting or rejecting a social contract is not a violation of any right but rather the voluntary suspension of some.
" But, that's still your preference that social contract theory is right."
it may be a preference to either accept or reject the social contract itself, sure. However, as I stated before, that is not a moral/ethical choice as it has no "ought" statement attached to it. There is no way to make the claim that one "ought to relinquish natural rights" only that one "can relinquish natural rights". Essentially, under social contract theory you cannot make an ethical claim until AFTER someone has accepted the social contract.
But, in subscribing to social contract theory, you imply that it is morally right to be able to more freely excersise your capacity to life at the expense of your capacity to violence. Just because a claim follows logic (less violence equals more life) does not mean that it is necessarily moral. If you believe that that is moral, kool. But, that's still your preference that social contract theory is right.
And, I attempt to create my morals using the four formulas of the Categorical Imperative Theory, one of which states that the moral principle must be universalizable.
I also think you're misunderstanding why the claim of irrelevance is meaningful to relativism and not other subjective moral theories. It's relevant because the same act, in the same situation is both "right and wrong" at the same time depending on preference and preference alone. That is not the case in non-relativistic moral theories as they have conditions by which to judge moral truth claims independent of preference and the action itself (some forms of virtue ethics, adherence to contract, pain/pleasure, consequentialist, ideal observer, etc...)
"Who is to say that giving up those freedoms is morally right, though?
First off; there is no moral statement in regards to surrendering or maintaining natural rights. So the statement it is "right/wrong" to surrender one's right to violence has no meaning. The statement "it is more likely that I will be able to exercise my right to life if we all agree to surrender our right to violence" is a purely logical statement with no moral claim attached to it. So abandoning certain rights in order to guarantee others has nothing to do with morality. The adherence or violation of that agreement is the only portion that can be expressed as a moral "right/wrong" statement.
That is the preference that I'm trying to get at. "
Sort of, however, I don't see a point to this line of argument since "right/wrong" claims have true false values independent of preference in social contract theory unlike relativism....I'd also argue that it's a rational choice as opposed to a simple preference.
"And, in individual moral relativism, a moral principle is not that fluid. If it was, it wouldn't be a principle."
So you have no room to change your mind about moral qualms? so you're claiming that "x is always wrong" and "y is always right" regardless of circumstance? Are you sure that is the claim you want to make?
Who is to say that giving up those freedoms is morally right, though? That is the preference that I'm trying to get at.
And, in individual moral relativism, a moral principle is not that fluid. If it was, it wouldn't be a principle. For example, I believe that it is morally wrong to lie, no matter the circumstance. For me to then simply lie because it makes that situation easier would be to break my moral principle. It wouldn't make my actions okay just because I decided to do them.
"Firstly, a right is definitely not simply the capacity for that action, it is the entitlement to that action."
sort of. In social contract theory they are the capacities for them (life, property, violence, etc...) however, the entitlement to them is only granted through your ability to exercise them. So you only have a right to life in-so-far as you are able to exercise your right to life and you are entitled to it in-so-far as you are able to guarantee that right yourself. In the "natural world" though, someone else's right to violence may deprive you of your right to life without consequence and without moral qualms. The social contract itself is a voluntary resignation of certain rights to the state in order to protect other individual rights. So the resignation of the right to violence is there to grant the protection of the right to life for example.
"Secondly, in moral subjectivism, there would still be an "if x" in the moral claims, so?..."
Please explain your points; I'm going to guess at what you mean here, but this makes for really poor arguments.
Relativism is a type of subjectivism. Individual relativism (the belief you're essentially advocating for that every individual creates their own morality and that no statement of "right/wrong" has more or less meaning than another) makes the claim that "x is right if/when person 'y' prefers it to be" and "x is wrong if/when person 'z' prefers it to be". That makes "x" right or wrong based on preference alone, not value. It also makes "x" right and wrong in the same circumstance simply depending on the person's mood. So the abuse of a child would be acceptable if person 'x' was annoyed with the child and felt it right to abuse a kid and wrong if person 'x' wasn't annoyed with the child and felt it wrong to abuse a kid. This makes "right/wrong" whimsical and meaningless.
Firstly, a right is definitely not simply the capacity for that action, it is the entitlement to that action.
Secondly, in moral subjectivism, there would still be an "if x" in the moral claims, so?...
"That would be asserting that people have axiomatic/objective rights"
Rights are just that which you are capable of. So the right to life is the capacity for life, the right to liberty is the capacity of liberty, the right to violence is the capacity of violence, etc... In order to claim that "rights" don't exist is to deny our capacity for them.
"Social contract theory is either another subjective theory of morality which means that it is subject to the criticism that all moral claims are merely preference or it's an objective moral theory which means it has the issue of grounding."
Umm....no. I'll explain though:
First off; not all subjective moral theories are subject to the same criticism. Relativistic theories are the only theories that are subject to the preference critique.
Let's look at a well known subjective theory, Utilitarianism. In utilitarianism, the statement "x is wrong" is meaningless. However, the statement "x is wrong if it causes more pain than pleasure" is true and "x is right if it causes more pleasure than pain" is also true. This isn't an expression of preference, but rather of circumstance and context.
In social contract theory this holds true as well. "Murder is wrong" in and by itself is meaningless. "The unilateral violation of the right to life (murder) is wrong" is a truthful statement however. The statement "Murder in order to fulfill justice is right" is also a true statement in the context of social contract theory. So while you can't say "murder is wrong" objectively in social contract theory, you can still have claims of "murder is wrong in this circumstance" and still have a true/false value attached to that statement. The fact that no act is right or wrong on in and of itself makes it a subjective theory. Essentially we're waiting to assign value to "x is wrong" until we can say "'x' is wrong in 'y' circumstance" or "'x' is right in 'z' circumstance". Again, this is not an expression of preference like relativism, but rather a value assignment of actions in context rather than truth value assigned to acts themselves.
In objective morality you get statements like "lying is wrong". In subjective morality you get statements like "lying is wrong if 'x'" and "lying is right if 'y'". So the truth value is created in regards to the "if 'x'/'y'" portion of the statement not the "action 'x' is wrong" portion.
That would be asserting that people have axiomatic/objective rights, which one cannot prove, or even justify (in my opinion).
Social contract theory is either another subjective theory of morality which means that it is subject to the criticism that all moral claims are merely preference or it's an objective moral theory which means it has the issue of grounding.
"Which social contract is right, though?"
Social contract theory states that contracts OUGHT to reflect those rights that if universally obeyed, rational people would recognize as being in the best interest of everyone.
So abandoning the right to murder; i.e. "murder is wrong" would be seen as being in the best interest of everyone in a given society. Therefore, a social contract where "murder is right" would be irrational and therefore not a "valid contract".
Slavery is another subject that is technically another "right" that is not in the best interest of everyone and therefore irrational as a "valid contract".
"what makes social contract theory any more than widespread preferences?"
Because it has to do with rights, duties, and obligation not statements of preference. It is not "preference" that leads you to "society functions better if we don't murder each other all of the time" it's rational thought that leads you to "society functions better if we don't all murder each other all the time". How could you have a functional society where murder without consequence is accepted?
I'd say the real criticism for social contract theory is that there is no written consent; only implied consent. It can be said that if you are mentally incapable of asserting your "rights" that the state may be able to violate it's portion of the contract without recourse (i.e. there is a possibility of the mentally disabled to be taken advantage of). However, I'd argue that this criticism can be mitigated by placing a duty on the citizens to protect the rights of those that can't protect their own.
You also have the issue of conflicting "rights" between individuals which aren't covered by a social contract creating morally ambiguous situations. I'd however argue that those situations are of fairly low consequence and are not a problem in terms of consistency, rather a problem in practice that can be solved legislatively.
The last criticism that you see has to do with "justice". Justice, under social contract theory, can really only be addressed in terms of rights. However, socio-economic justice has no grounds in "rights" and therefore can become an issue. So something like poverty, isn't a violation of rights per-se (unless it has to do with a systemic violation of rights like slavery or segregation laws). Under social contract theory, however, there is no onus on the government to provide equal access to things like education to those that can't afford it
Which social contract is right, though? Do we have a better social contract than we used to? If so, then you are leaning towards an objective truth. For example, slavery is morally wrong in the modern era, but it used to be morally good. Either our current social contract is better or their both equal, which would have the same critisisms applied that you are applying to moral relativism.
Also, what makes social contract theory any more than widespread preferences? Murder is only "wrong" under social contract theory because everyone prefers to have the security of nobody murdering at the cost of the freedom to murder.
" it assumes that humans are naturally evil/selfish"
I think you're misunderstanding the core of social contract theory. It actually assumes that we do not desire to live in a world where "natural rights" are freely exercised and that we collaborate out of our own free will to surrender some of our natural rights in order to live a better life.
"individual is worth nothing more than being a law-abiding citizen"
It says nothing about the "worth" of the individual; it simply states that acts are "good/bad" in the context of the social contract. "Worth" is not addressed.
"However, both Social Contract Theory and Moral Subjectivism must have subjective truths, so if you do not agree that subjective truths are valid enough, then you must apply that same criticism to Social Contract Theory"
I think you're misunderstanding my criticism of moral subjectivism. In social contract theory "Murder is wrong" and "murder is right" are not equal. Because "murder is wrong" abides by the contract it has a greater "truth" value than "murder is right". In moral subjectivism "murder is right" and "murder is wrong" have the same "truth" value. So in social contract theory you can actually differentiate between two competing statements and designate one as true and one as false. In your theory that is not the case; all moral statements are equal in your theory.
"I feel, though, that subjective truths are valid for a moral discussion because each individual brings their personal meaning to life and reasons on how they should act"
However, no truth claim can be made about any moral statement as they are all equal. So you can never come to a conclusion as "x is wrong" will always be equal to "x is right". So every act will be right and wrong at the same time and you essentially render the terms "right" and "wrong" meaningless.
The issue with social contract theory, in my opinion, is that it assumes that humans are naturally evil/selfish and that it states that the individual is worth nothing more than being a law-abiding citizen.
However, both Social Contract Theory and Moral Subjectivism must have subjective truths, so if you do not agree that subjective truths are valid enough, then you must apply that same criticism to Social Contract Theory.
I feel, though, that subjective truths are valid for a moral discussion because each individual brings their personal meaning to life and reasons on how they should act.
"What theory or morality, then, would you put forth?"
I maintain that social contract theory is a consistent basis for assigning moral value to choices.
"Being emotional claims, however, does not make them not right or wrong"
I agree; what I was getting at is that Individual Moral Relativism doesn't have a "right/wrong" value claim making the terms "right/wrong" meaningless. Once that's established I had to connect moral statements to emotional claims rather than truth statements (since "right/wrong" has no value it also has no truth) and since you agreed that moral claims are emotional claims (the only way to ground "right/wrong" without value) I was able to establish that "right/wrong" are nothing more than preference statements. Essentially removing the "ought" claim from actions and fixing an "is" claim. This means your moral theory only describes the world but doesn't have a method of prescribing actions (cornerstone of ethics)
So if "right/wrong" are just preference statements without truth or value, It is easy to make the argument that "right/wrong" cannot exist as true terms and that the notion of morality is meaningless aside from a statement of preference. This in turn is exactly the nihilistic standpoint. So while you may claim that "right/wrong" exists to the individual you have no way of actually establishing a truth or value in regards to those statements and thus we render them meaningless.
You're making a presumption error in your argument. You presume that "right/wrong" exists but never ground it in a truth or value. It's the problem that most relativistic moral philosophies run into (particular individual moral relativism is subject to this type of critique).
Took me a minute, but you're right, the moral claims are based on emotion. This, however, would still make them subjective morals because even if we all use the same tool to define our morality (emotions), it will still be used in different ways (individual relativism). Using the word cempathy" may have been a poor choice.
Being emotional claims, however, does not make them not right or wrong and the answer is in the title: INDIVIDUAL moral relativism. That is wrong to me. And, the next criticism would be to say, "what right do I have to impose my morals on others?"
As said before, once the majority agrees on a moral, it is made into a social standard and breaching that standard will result in the consequences.
I see where you're coming from and I understand the criticisms. Admittedly, I will need a bit to think about them.
What theory or morality, then, would you put forth?
"I would argue that they're not necessarily emotional, but I would agree, yes."
You just tried to ground morality in empathy which is an emotional response.....so why wouldn't they be emotional claims?
"No, empathy is not an objective standard. Empathy is a tool that we use to varying degrees to come up with our moral values, among other things. But, my empathy is most certainly different than your empathy, making it not an objective standard."
If you deny the use of the definition of "empathy" as an objective way to ground morality, then empathy is not relevant to moral decisions in terms of granting "value". If a lack of empathy and a presence of empathy create our moral standards equally, then it is just like your claims of "right/wrong"; they have no "value" and you have no way of using it to ground morality except as a tool to make an emotional claim about preference
This leaves you in the same spot as before:
Moral claims of "right/wrong" have no value and therefore are simply emotional expressions of preference not truth claims. This means that no claim of "right/wrong" can be made since the concept of "right/wrong" has no value. This effectively leaves you in the same position as an error theorist (a type of moral nihilist)
Also, I may have worded my argument improperly. I do not assume that people are altruistic. From empathy, or the lack thereof (I should have said), we create our moral standards.
No, empathy is not an objective standard. Empathy is a tool that we use to varying degrees to come up with our moral values, among other things. But, my empathy is most certainly different than your empathy, making it not an objective standard.
I would argue that they're not necessarily emotional, but I would agree, yes.
Just to summarize:
You agree that "right/wrong" have no actual value (since "right/wrong" are individual concepts with no intrinsic meaning) correct?
You agree that "right/wrong" are therefore better expressed as emotional claims about preference correct?
"the reason that people have decided to give up the freedom to murder, for example, is because they recognize that murder is morally wrong and they recognize that through empathy"
This defeats your own claim though. You now have an objective measure (empathy) by which to evaluate moral claims and assign truth values to them independent of the individual actor.
Let's look at murder again. In your initial theory "Murder is right/wrong" have the same truth statements and no justification other than the individual preference is required. Now in your second statement you are saying that "murder is wrong because I can understand the desire not to be murdered and because that desire exists I shouldn't murder someone". The statement "murder is right" is not a statement that can be made if we use empathy as the operative measure of a "right/wrong" claim. Thus you have just grounded "murder is right/wrong" in an objective theory. This would be similar to Kant's Categorical Imperative (an objective moral theory).
You are also assuming that people are naturally altruistic actors rather than selfish creatures. If empathy is the operative moral guiding principle, then we should have universally accepted moral claims about equal treatment and yet we don't. We have plenty of social contracts that favor the majority and disenfranchise the minority in spite of what we'd expect if "empathy" were the guiding moral principle. If empathy had been the guiding principle rather than self interest, how could we have ever had social contracts that permit slavery, the subjugation of women, and the denial rights to people that were "other" (like gays)? Self interest explains these and the desire for security also explains the reversal of these.
Yes, I would agree that one could call it moral preference. But, that would apply to any form of moral relativism, individual, cultural, or other.
Doesn't this essentially mean that moral claims are simply expressions of preference? So "right/wrong" statements are actually "like/dislike" statements?
Since we've established that "right/wrong" have no actual value, shouldn't your philosophical claim be expressed as "I prefer NOT genocide" or "I prefer genocide"?
"Social contract" as in the cultural norms, not the theory. I should have clarified better.
Yes, and see, I don't agree with that. I understand that there is an inverse relationship between freedom and security in a society, but the reason that people have decided to give up the freedom to murder, for example, is because they recognize that murder is morally wrong and they recognize that through empathy. The reason the social contract was created was because the majority of individuals agreed that murder is wrong, so there should be a consequence.
"like I said earlier, a widespread morality is what defines the social contract, not the society defining morality"
Not really; I'm going to explain social contract theory a bit because I assumed you understood it and so I've been using very vague statements that seem to have lead you to conflate social contract and cultural relativism.
Social Contract theory states that we have "natural rights". "Natural rights" afford us the right to do whatever it is we are capable of doing. So we have the right to murder, rape, commit genocide, cannibalize, etc... However, these "natural rights", if exercised fully and without constraint, produce a human condition that is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short". Under a social contract, we recognize this to be a poor condition for our own lives and that collectively surrendering some of our "natural rights" to the state would provide a greater quality of life at the cost of some freedoms.
So when we say "murder is wrong", we really mean "we have surrendered our right to murder freely to the state and violating this agreement is wrong". So that which is morally "right/wrong" is the adherence/violation of the social contract. Morality is thus not he act itself (murder is neither right or wrong), rather morality is the adherence to the social contract (we shall not freely exercise our natural right to murder). Laws are then an expression of our contract in-so-far as they describe the level of surrender a "natural right" has been assigned. A law which states "you can't murder except in the case of self-defense" is then an expression of our agreement that "in exchange for our own safety, we collectively surrender our right to murder freely except in the cases of self defense".
This gives us a system that grounds morality in the consensus of the people but outside of the individual. It also gives us a contract which both sides (the state and the people) have an obligation to uphold and binds their actions to "right/wrong" statements independent of their individual preference and thus removes the problem of equal "right/wrong" values.
There is nothing objectively morally right or wrong, that's the first premise. Each person has the same amount or "moral worth." If we think of it like this and put it into numbers, I think it will be more helpful. Yes, Adolf Hitler was moral to commit his genocide, to his set of moral standards. However, most people didn't agree with him. Many did, but still a minority. I don't know the real numbers, but for example let's say that five million people agreed with Hitler and three-hundred million people disagreed. Each person individually came to the conclusion of which side they are on (individual moral relativism), but the justification for condemning Hitler through actions is because he broke the majority consensus that genocide is morally wrong. Democracy (more-or-less) is how the world should work (I think) and if the "vote" is that genocide is morally wrong, then it can be justified to take action to prevent genocide from happening.
One moral agent gets one "vote." Even though each vote was made based on each individual, the winner of the decision is how the social contract will be made and breaking that social contract can be followed by consequences.
I think we've had a bit of a mess in terms of our arguments because we're not separating them too well. I'm going to put my critique of your theory first and then lay out my theory. I'm hoping you'll have 2 sections as well (a defense of yours and a critique of mine).
"yes, the claims of person A, B, and C have the same truth values"
So under the system you're ascribing to, all moral claims have the same truth value. So to hold your position, you would have to agree that Hitler was a moral person for killing the jews, that every terrorist is a moral person for killing the innocent, every murderer and rapist is a moral person, and that every child molester is a moral person. You would also have to state that every Jew that Hitler killed is an immoral person for being jewish and that every child that reported their molester is immoral for interfering with the moral act of child rape. At the same time you'd have to accept that Hitler was immoral for killing the jews and that child molesters are immoral for raping kids. Therefore there is no actual "right/wrong" statement that is meaningful in any sense of the word.
My question to you then is:
If "right/wrong" statements have no meaning then they are ambiguous statements which serve no real purpose other than to express personal opinion are they not?
I'd also pose that your "moral" theory has no system for determining that which is which is "right/wrong". Essentially I'm stating that in your system, you can't actually say "rape is wrong" because there is no mechanism by which to verify that "rape is wrong". If you can't verify that "rape is wrong" then saying "I believe rape to be wrong" is simply a statement of preference is it not?
No, I'm saying that a widely agreed morality/moral statement dictates social contract. And, yes, the claims of person A, B, and C have the same truth values, but if they break the social contract (whether it be cultural or legal), they are subject to the natural and/or legal consequences. However, like I said earlier, a widespread morality is what defines the social contract, not the society defining morality.
Not advocating for cultural relativism. I'm arguing for social contact theory. Change under social contract theory is perfectly permittable and one of the corner stones of the theory. There is a reason why Locke's "Second Treaty" is essentially the road map for our constitution.
"democratic country (more-or-less), I do have the right to attempt to convince others to agree with my morals. And, once enough of us agree on a moral, we create it to be a social contract and/or a law."
So are you agreeing with me that social contracts dictate morality?
If you still insist that morality is based on the individual than are you willing to state that person "A" stating rape is immoral, person "B" stating that rape is moral, and person "C" saying rape is neither moral or immoral all have the same truth value? Meaning that all 3 statements must be considered equal?
Unless you can somehow assign a greater value onto "rape is immoral" than "rape is moral" you can't distinguish between the two.
And, if you advocate for cultural moral relativism, then that means that a drastic social change is always morally wrong. Going back to my example of slavery in the early U.S., the first few people who opposed must have been wrong because that was not what the culture stated.
So, my argument on the legality of morals that I may not have a moral right to impose my morals on others, but as a democratic country (more-or-less), I do have the right to attempt to convince others to agree with my morals. And, once enough of us agree on a moral, we create it to be a social contract and/or a law.
A little bit of housekeeping:
"Just because we have a social moral contract, does not mean that that contract isn't based on subjectivity"
You may be misunderstanding my argument.
I reject your claim that individuals dictate "right/wrong" and the implied claim along with it that each individual's "right/wrong" claims have equal value. So while I AGREE with the first axiom of your Topic (there is no objective morality); I DISAGREE with the second axiom "Each person creates his own morals".
I don't claim that morality is "objective". Social contract theory is by it's nature subjective as it can change over time and with geography with no objective right or wrong claim but rather a statement of consensus. In a sense I reject the claim which you must accept: "the moral truth claims of the individual are equal in value to the consensus of the society".
"And, again, it is not egoism"
Once you clarified your position I stated that your "theory" is subject to the same criticism as egoists (not that you're an egoist). If anything; I'd say that your claim that each individual creates their own morality is "in effect" nihilism rather than egoism as there is no overarching call to act in any way.
"laws (as our fundamental social contract) is mostly, if not completely, based on morals that we have more-or-less agreed on"
If you want to maintain the claim that "Each person creates his own morals" you must accept each individual's morals as true onto themselves. So you cannot say that "murder is wrong" you must say that "murder is wrong for me". This means that you could not have a law that says "No one can commit murder" as you could only make a law that says "I cannot murder".
If you reject the ruling of society over the individual in regards to "right/wrong" values (meaning the degree to which we consider them "true") then you must reject the concept of laws having to do with moral claims (murder, theft, rape, assault, etc....) and you must accept a society where "murder is right" and "murder is wrong" have the same "right/wrong" value.
If; however you accept that society dictates "right/wrong" values onto the individual by consent, then you can have a moral theory which allows for moral value claims ("right/wrong") despite disagreement of an individual in that society and can have changes in "right/wrong" values based on populous consensus and/or government processes (legislation).
"And, in your example of dementia, again, I think that when you say that it depends on where each person would call it (letting the person go) I think proves moral subjectivism. It IS up to each person, and can only be decided by each person."
ok, so let's say a person chooses that the time is long into the disease, and their are many instances of where this lie would be very helpful. avoiding potentially deadly injuries, mental trauma, and medical debt.
just like you have a nuanced version of killing for self defense, you can have a nuanced version of lying for mercy. similarly each person will also have different thresholds for both.
"Also, just to clarify, I am advocating for meta-ethical moral subjectivism; something I should have specified awhile ago ??"
can you please explain that in english? :p
I would argue that a moral principle must be absolute, otherwise it is not a principle. It can, of course have nuances. For example, I word the homicide moral as follows: It is never morally right to commit aggressive homicide, but defensive homicide can be justified. Then I go on do describe which cases it is justified. That would be absolute, just very specific. To compare, laws are absolute, but very specific.
And, in your example of dementia, again, I think that when you say that it depends on where each person would call it (letting the person go) I think proves moral subjectivism. It IS up to each person, and can only be decided by each person.
Also, just to clarify, I am advocating for meta-ethical moral subjectivism; something I should have specified awhile ago ??
Just because we have a social moral contract, does not mean that that contract isn't based on subjectivity. I'm sure that we both can agree that slavery is wrong in every instance, but I would claim that we both agree subjectively. And, of course as a society we should all act in a way that if every person acted that way, it would better the society. But, we all individually and subjectively agree as to what that looks like. And, again, it is not egoism as my morality is not based on what's best for me, it is based on the moral principles I have justified. And, laws (as our fundamental social contract) is mostly, if not completely, based on morals that we have more-or-less agreed on.
a moral principle need not be absolute. I am against killing people, but I wouldnt hesitate if they are trying to kill me or someone I love.
sorry for sticking to this tangent, but dementia has 1 more facet to it and it is that dementia is a chronic illness. it's very hard to figure out what is the line where you have to let the person go when the disease has a slow progression with periods of acceleration as well as recovery.
I guess you can wait for a period of a month where the person doesn't regain any recollection at all, but that would still involve many potential force incidents over the previous years that used to be sporadic but became unceasingly frequent. even a once a week episode can result in many broken bones (each with a risk of fatal hemorrhage, long recovery, and they dont exactly come back good as new).
I also forgot the psychological damage to the patient who has repeated episodes of unrecognizable people forcing things down their throat for no apparent reason.
OK; I get what you're trying to get at. I think I misunderstood your earlier intent since you didn't specify the kind of moral subjectivism you're abiding by (non-cognitive, cultural, solipsism, Utilitarian, existential, Cartesian etc..).
I'd say that your moral philosophy is subject to the same criticism as moral egoism in that it cannot be universalized and therefore cannot be the operative moral theory. I would also claim that without a society, morality is an empty concept as it has no meaning in the absence of other individuals worthy of moral consideration.
If we accept your moral theory as a method of organizing a society, a person can say "I find it morally right to kill anyone I please and eat them" while another can say "I find it morally right to kill those that eat other people", another may claim "we should torture those that eat or kill other people", and to complete the circle yet another may say "I find it morally right to kill anyone who tortures anyone for any reason". All 4 claims would have equal truth values and equal "right" values according to your theory and must therefore all be accepted equally by society. This would result in a society which would perpetually murder, eat, and torture one another with no one being able to claim a greater "right".
We must therefore have a moral code which is independent of the individual to make a framework by which we can model society. I'd argue that the only method of doing so is a social contract; and that "it" must dictate your personal moral code (minor individual discrepancies may exist, however, these must align with the overarching contract). In your example, "I believe that it is never morally good to lie....[even to be polite although that is the social norm]" is still a very minor deviation from the social contract you have agreed to. You would have a much harder time being accepted by society if your position was "I believe it to be morally good to lie all the time" and you'd likely have a preference that others do not lie to you all the time as it would make living in that kind of society impossible. I'd therefore conclude that you cannot have a moral theory which places equal "truth/false" and/or "right/wrong" values on statements simply based on the expression of the individual. It is society that decides "right/wrong" values on moral statements and that the individual is subject to those values rather than society being subject to the individual's values.
I understand the risks, but what is a moral principle if you can just break it? Easier does not always mean right. I stand by my statement. And, also being a practicing stoic, I would say that at that point, in the example of dementia, it's probably time for them to go anyways. But, that's more-or-less beside the point.
just to clarify, dementia is a loss of self. alzheimers is a form of dementia. the person may not know who they are, where they are, and may not even recognize their family members any more. explaining to them is impossible as they are incapable of understanding, and using force on frail/resisting people can cause damage like broken bones or others.
using force is tiring (and psychologically paingul) to the caretaker and potentially dangerous (and physically painful) to the ill person, especially when it is a daily or multi daily occurrence. wouldnt lying not be easier so that everyone can avoid a struggle and further damage?
I don't agree. I think that the feeling that compels us to conform to society often supercedes morality (peer pressure); that is a fact. But, I do not think that cultural moral relativism is a fact in any sense.
Yes, I believe that would be morally wrong. One should either be able to logically justify and explain to them why taking the medication is important, or if it is time sensitive and life threatening, force them.
I think all moral philosophies are lacking. I think we all know what is good in our gut, and bad actions are our brains overriding our gut (conscience) for personal benefit.
putting a gut feeling into concrete words is very difficult and none of them got it right. however social moral relativism is a historic fact imo.
Yes, they are morally just to their standards. But, my standards also allow me to attempt to free those slaves by whatever means necessary because that is what I believe. I recognize that to them, they are morally just. However, they are still morally unjust to my standards, and, as I said, whatever action must be taken to uphold my moral standard will be, if the situation is drastic.
you would argue that you view their actions as morally wrong, but based on your argument you must also recognize that they would see it as morally just.
Also, the face that it depends on the family shows that each person has to define their own morals.
Just out of curiosity, what moral philosophy are you advocating for, because it seems like you are a cultural moral relativist. No disrespect intended, of course.
its candy, drink it. you love this stuff
And I would argue that they were morally wrong because slavery is bad no matter the reason. That is an absolute statement, but still a subjective one and it is one that was influenced by my culture, but ultimately defined and justified by me. This, again, shows that morals are influenced by our environment, but are defined by the individual.
I'm confused as to what the lie would be?
is it wrong to lie to an old family memver with dementia who doesnt want to take life sustaining medication because they are confused and losing themselves?
"were the first people in the United States who claimed that slavery was morally wrong incorrect just because the culture said otherwise?"
not by our current standards they were not wrong. I'm not sure of the mindset of early american proslavers, but sparta for example thought slavery was perfectly justified because the slaves were weak and lost to them in war. isnt that the subjectivity you are arguing for?
"And, if a Muslim family grew up in China, then moved to America, which morals would they hold?"
that would depend on the family. muslim culture is usually conforms to their original traditions whereas chinese culture usually seeks to conform to their new home. either way you are confusing national culture with social culture because there is always more variability within a culture then between cultures.
for example. China is typically seen as more traditional then the US. But I'm sure there are parts of the US that is very traditional (bible belt) whereas the new big cities in china probably have large pockets of very liberal cultures. every single level of society affects you in some way, but I would imagine that your family and more neighborhood culture would have the most effect on your values. not so much your nation, and definitely not yourself as you are a blank slate until your reality molds you.
To add on, if I feel morally obligated to protect others from discrimination based on sexuality and from cannibalism (to continue with your example), then I can justify it if my morals allow me to (which they do). Also, they are not OBJECTIVELY morally wrong, but they definitely are morally wrong based on my personal morality, and like I said, I can morally justify various means to act on their actions.
I do know the different theories of moral philosophy, thank you though. However, I do not agree with moral nihilism or egoism. And, I believe that you are misunderstanding moral subjectivism. It is not necessarily based on the situation. For example, I believe that it is never morally good to lie. That is an absolute statement, but not an objective statement and not one based on my culture (I live in the United States in a fairly leftist area). I have been told on many occasions to tell little lies to be polite, but even those I feel are morally wrong. This shows how I dictate my own morals that may be influenced by my environment (obviously) but are ultimately defined by me and nobody else. And, there is a right and wrong, but that is also defined by me, and it is also often difficult to uphold my moral principles, showing that it is not always what is best for me (I can give examples if you wish). And, I do have personal definitions for moral good and moral bad, once more showing that it is not nihilism and that my morals are defined by me.
Then you disagree with your own premise. Moral subjectivism doesn't mean that people create their own morals, it means that morals are subjective based on situations. Utilitarianism is a subjective moral theory that is based on pain/pleasure; so acts are wrong in so far as they cause "pain" and right in so far as they cause "pleasure". It means you can make universal statements of right and wrong independent of the individual acting.
Even in something like "cultural relativism" you have morality being dictated by social norms to individuals living in that society rather than individuals dictating morality to society. However, you can't say that one society is morally "better" than another according to this theory. So for example; a given society can dictate that cannibalism is "right" and that Heterosexuality is "wrong". It would mean that a member of that society who is heterosexual and doesn't eat people is morally "wrong" in that society, but morally "right" if he/she were to live in a different society.
In moral nihilism the concepts of "right" and "wrong" are thought to be irrelevant and morality itself is irrelevant and doesn't exist. So even individuals can't make their own morality as no such thing as "right" and "wrong" have any meaning. So a nihilist can't actually say that murder is "right" or "wrong"; it simply is.
I would therefore suggest that you are advocating for ethical egoism. The problem with ethical egoism is that it cannot be universalized as an ethical theory and therefore cannot be a working framework for morality. Ethical egoists are obligated to act in their own best interest rather than the considerations of others. So "right" is what is "right" for the person acting. The problem is that the ethical egoist cannot advocate for this theory to be the predominant moral guideline for society as it is self-defeating. Ethical egoism cannot create society, culture, etc... therefore it is a theory which goes against the nature of human beings as social animals. While a given individual may be an ethical egoist, they must keep this from the rest of society or be shunned. The ethical egoist must also abandon his/her mandate to act in accordance with his/her own self interest if it means that he/she may be found out by society to be in conflict with societal norms. This means that ethical egoism doesn't even work as a theory for an individual as it cannot be consistently applied in the confines of a society.
So, I am an individual moral relativist and have a great issue with cultural moral relativism. For example, were the first people in the United States who claimed that slavery was morally wrong incorrect just because the culture said otherwise? And, if a Muslim family grew up in China, then moved to America, which morals would they hold?
most morals are made by the society, not the person. the person simply decides on a small amount of wiggle room within the social norms of their society.
still subjective, but not as individual as some believe
are you arguing for nihilism or subjectivism?