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Old 09-13-2011, 02:13 PM   #1
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NY Times Op-Ed on Moral Relativism

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/op...ight.html?_r=1

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The interviewers asked open-ended questions about right and wrong, moral dilemmas and the meaning of life. In the rambling answers, which Smith and company recount in a new book, “Lost in Transition,” you see the young people groping to say anything sensible on these matters. But they just don’t have the categories or vocabulary to do so.

When asked to describe a moral dilemma they had faced, two-thirds of the young people either couldn’t answer the question or described problems that are not moral at all, like whether they could afford to rent a certain apartment or whether they had enough quarters to feed the meter at a parking spot.

“Not many of them have previously given much or any thought to many of the kinds of questions about morality that we asked,” Smith and his co-authors write. When asked about wrong or evil, they could generally agree that rape and murder are wrong. But, aside from these extreme cases, moral thinking didn’t enter the picture, even when considering things like drunken driving, cheating in school or cheating on a partner. “I don’t really deal with right and wrong that often,” is how one interviewee put it.
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:41 PM   #2
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so kids today see the world in shades of gray rather than black and white?

seems like our political system could learn from them.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:38 PM   #3
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^ Politically my concern about 'shades of gray thinking' would be that it could lead to apathy and the politics of least resistance. For example, increasing recognition of same-sex marriage is no doubt facilitated by the thinking of, "I'm not really sure what I believe about this, but it's not for me to judge others' lives," but as a movement, it has been and will continue to be led by people with passionate convictions about equality, justice, and the value of family. Likewise from the other end you often get these extremely superficial pseudo-arguments, which may be pronounced with feeling (fear, mostly) but are ultimately just appeals to an aesthetic with no real ethical content underlying them.

It's not clear though from Brooks' summary whether the study is really describing true moral relativism (which has a long pedigree in Western thought, going back at least as far as the Sophists), or merely a difficulty articulating a nominally coherent system of moral principles, brought about by growing up in the near-aftermath of a time when a larger-than-average number of established social institutions (some of them now almost universally and unproblematically seen as evil, for example racial segregation) crumbled in the face of moral resistance. I remember one particular math class when I was in high school 25 years ago where cheating was so pervasive that there were only a few of us not doing it (did we report on the cheaters? no). I'm pretty sure most of those kids could easily have spouted various canned reasons why cheating is wrong--the integrity of the learning process, fairness towards peers, or even more rotely the virtue of honesty--but that didn't stop them from embracing en masse the contradictory rationalization that this teacher was a jerk and a schmuck (true, as far as it goes) and therefore didn't deserve the "respect." Only in the most abstract sense did they consider their behavior wrong, and there wasn't even any Machiavellian greater strategic purpose to their cheating--they just didn't feel like doing the work. Those kinds of garden-variety corruptions won't cause many people to seriously doubt the foundations of social morality, but when whole institutions go down in flames, they might.



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ROSENCRANTZ: Why then, your ambition makes it one; 'tis too narrow for your mind.

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Old 09-13-2011, 05:50 PM   #4
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Maybe their parents take care of right and wrong for them.

I think it is disheartening, like he said. It's never too early to start thinking about those things.
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Old 09-13-2011, 06:28 PM   #5
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I agree with yolland that this sort of attitude may lead to political apathy. These days, with a troubled economy, a government that can't agree on anything and political groups - such as the tea party - that could harm the country with their radical ideas, there is no room for apathy.

But this is nothing new. When I was a college student 10 years ago, I saw this type of apathy. Even when 9/11 happened, there were a few students who were like, "Yeah, so?" Political and social apathy makes me sick because it comes across as deep self-centeredness (is that a word?) to me.
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Old 09-13-2011, 07:51 PM   #6
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Are we surprised a generation spoon-fed self-esteem, multiculturalism and non-judgementalism regurgitates moral relativism?

Youth is youth but even a teen should have a value system that allows them to differentiate between good & evil, virtue & vice.

I don't find moral ambiguity an appealing or desirable trait in the workplace, marketplace, personal relationships or in a political leader.
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Old 09-13-2011, 11:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by INDY500 View Post
Are we surprised a generation spoon-fed self-esteem, multiculturalism and non-judgementalism regurgitates moral relativism?

Youth is youth but even a teen should have a value system that allows them to differentiate between good & evil, virtue & vice.

I don't find moral ambiguity an appealing or desirable trait in the workplace, marketplace, personal relationships or in a political leader.


what on earth is wrong with multiculturalism?
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:06 AM   #8
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I'm wary of any explanation/theory that goes "kids these days.....", since it seems like every generation to date has thought incoming youths are depraved or defective in some way
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:10 AM   #9
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Why do so many old people hate me?
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:20 AM   #10
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Why do so many old people hate me?


because you refuse to hate people different from you?
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Old 09-14-2011, 01:57 AM   #11
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Why do so many old people hate me?
my reaction too. seems like it was just set up to exploit the assumption that all young people are stupid and apathetic. are these the same people that decided it'd be a good idea to ask Justin Bieber his opinion on gay marriage or whatever it was?
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:18 AM   #12
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I'm wary of any explanation/theory that goes "kids these days.....", since it seems like every generation to date has thought incoming youths are depraved or defective in some way
Yep. There seems to be a steady stream of editorials in Melbourne newspapers at the moment about the problems with "kids these days", "Generation Y", "the iGeneration", or whatever, so steady that you can just about set your watch by it. It's quite tiresome, not to mention usually very ahistorical. It seems that once a generation becomes old and comfortable, they forget that a couple of decades ago, they were the subject of "kids these days" articles. I've read articles from the 1860s that, with only a couple of slight modifications, could easily be reprinted today as some baby boomer's lament about the failings of Generation Y.

And the "I know we weren't perfect when we were young but THESE KIDS ..." has become the "some of my friends are black" of this style of editorial.
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:25 AM   #13
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To all decrying "kids these days" comments...you'll be saying it in thirty or so years too. Just you wait.

It's how you know you're old.
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Old 09-14-2011, 02:30 AM   #14
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what on earth is wrong with multiculturalism?
Because thos Moslims come to take good, hartd working American's jobs.
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Old 09-14-2011, 03:05 AM   #15
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Or, in Australian, IF YOUR A TOWELHEAD FUCK OFF WERE FULL
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