Article

Claim: Suicide Bombing Less Immoral Than Nudity

Aaron Kinney of Kill the Afterlife started a very worthy discussion on his blog, with a link to this article, in which Militant Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir makes the outrageous claim that erotic shows on TV are "more dangerous than the Bali bombs".

This despicable statement started a lively and wide ranging discussion on morality, in which several Christian theists (Sandalstraps, Tyler Simons, and others) lent qualified support to the Muslim.

While most of the comments stopped short of actually endorsing suicide bombing, many claimed that female nudity could indeed be immoral under certain circumstances. This is a position with which I totally disagree. It’s a patriarchal position, and demeans women. I also posted the following comment regarding what I see as very simplistic concepts of general morality which ignore the realities of how humans operate. As an example, one of the commenters complained that a person might be tempted to "steal someone’s girlfriend" if they didn’t have proper morals.

Here is my response:

No one can ‘steal’ anyone’s girlfriend. If your girlfriend leaves you for another guy, he was obviously paying better attention to her than you were. The concept of "alienation of affection" is universally recognized in the law (at least in most western cultures) to be antiquated and without merit. [A few states still have these laws on the books, but they are disappearing fast.] To qualify as a tort, "alienation of affection" relies on the "ownership" of another human being, and is thus a form of slavery.

Again–if your girlfriend leaves you, it’s between you and her, not between you and the third party. You may be pissed, but that’s just a symbol of your own sense of inadequacy and humiliation. It’s not the guy’s fault. He’s doing what you’d probably do under other circumstances.

Competition is healthy and moral. When we do a better job in business and put a competitor out of business, society becomes more efficient and everybody wins. If your girlfriend leaves you for someone who’s treating her better, she gets a better deal, you learn your lesson, and your next girlfriend gets a better deal. Everybody wins.

It’s time for people to grow up and put aside these quaint ideas of ‘honesty,’ ‘loyalty,’ ‘compassion,’ and ‘justice.’

These may be great words [and concepts]. But usually when they are used, they are trying to divert attention from the speaker’s own lack of integrity [or whatever hidden strategic goals they may be harboring]. People compete, and success involves nuance and detailed understanding of strategy. You must know: Where you stand, where your opponent stands, who is in your circle, who you can help in return for a mutually beneficial relationship, etc.

You should read some books on strategy and game theory. [Such as those by Robert Greene]. There’s a lot more involved than these simplistic discussions of right/wrong, or even "coercion" would indicate. For those so inclined, coercion is best accomplished when the target is not even aware it is happening.

Much of traditional ‘morality’ is a smokescreen for these types of activities. If you think the solution is more ‘morality,’ then you are living in the realm of surface appearances. You have already lost the game to others who are more sophisticated than you are.

Human relations are best understood as a maze of subtlety, competition, deception, and cooperation for advantage. These ever shifting interests and loyalties can almost never be fully unravelled. They can only be sussed out by keen observation, and wisely acted upon when they become known.

Here is my later follow-up comment:

Hobbes most famous quote about the "war of all against all" is often used to deride self-interested morality.

But that’s not what I’m advocating. In terms of genetic competition, the rules are what they are, and not decided by you, me, or Hobbes.

What I am advocating as the basis for self-interested morality is simply rational agency for each individual. This means each person is primarily responsible for their own prosperity. Therefore it is up to them to determine what is the correct approach to a given situation. It may be direct cooperation, it may be friendly competition, it may be all-out war. There is no right or wrong answer, and what was right today, may change tomorrow. For example, a previous enemy or rival may be brought to heel to become an ally in a different situation.

Black and white mentalities about morality might prevent this type of unlikely shift from competition to cooperation.

I am not advocating relativism–because in my scenario, we remain true to one thing: the innate genetic imperative for prosperity and dominance. And there are many ways to achieve that goal. I would argue that if everyone were acting as a rational agent, there would be far less strife and agony in the world.

The real relativist position is the one advocated by Tim, where the culturally contrived point of view of a lunatic bomber is given equal weight to that of objective naturalistic morality.


Comments (7 comments)

Sandalstraps / October 10th, 2006, 6:21 am / #1

While most of the comments stopped short of actually endorsing suicide bombing

That is the least charitable description of the conversation imaginable, and I suspect that you know that. The fact is, each of of the commenters with whom you take issue uniformly condemn violence in the name of God or religion, a point which has been made clear by our distinguishing between the moral concerns involved with sexual behavior and the moral concerns involved with violence. Disagreement is one thing, but uncharitable construction is intellectual dishonest.

BlackSun / October 10th, 2006, 10:05 am / #2

Sandalstraps,

But isn’t it just a matter of degree? Because if you condone the holding of relativist belief systems which allow such outrageous clams to be made, this is the moral framework which supports the end result.

Religious violence is always used in the service of subjectivity. Even giving this insane muslim the BREATHING ROOM to hold such “culturally protected” beliefs is ultimately to offer him support.

The only logical position is to demand naturalistic objectivity, and to condemn in an utterly unqualified manner such ravings.

Indeed, Sam Harris reserves his highest condemnation for the religious moderates, who do not even hold to their own scripture. The scripture is violent, misogynistic, and abhorrent, so moderates back away. But it is actually the fanatics who are the less intellectually bankrupt. They are the ones true to their scripture.

SO yes, you have a more nuanced view. But that ultimately makes it even worse that you continue after all of that discussion, to endorse relativism.

Aaron Kinney / October 11th, 2006, 3:52 pm / #3

We rocked them, honestly. They came in to argue, but when pressed, went running for the hills. They couldnt properly present or defend their position for beans.

We got exasperated at their poor presentation of actual arguments, they took it personally, and then went home rather than accept the challenge to present and defend their views.

BlackSun / October 12th, 2006, 12:40 pm / #4

Yes, Aaron. Ultimately, their arguments boil down to appeal to consequences, the “nothing can be known” fallacy (when you question causality), and others, including lots of straw men.

Asking for “epistemic humility” is code for “I don’t know and you don’t either.” It really avoids dealing with the central issues.

Ironic that all this took place on computers over an internet that is itself the culmination of over 400 years of the empirical scientific method.

say no to christ / October 12th, 2006, 7:52 pm / #5

Those silly christians. lol

Unfortunately they will still go on believing and preaching no matter how well you show them how fucked up they are. :(

David Franklin / February 5th, 2010, 2:33 pm / #6

That last comment is so tolerant…
Seriously, Black Sun, are you suggesting that humans don't value honesty, loyalty, compassion, justice?
My girlfriend is 800 km away. I could cheat on her and get away with it. Why don't I?
I could answer that, but I'd rather hear your response.

BlackSun / February 5th, 2010, 6:46 pm / #7

David Franklin, I don't think I said that.

You might not cheat on your girl because you value the relationship, not that you couldn't get away with it. You might be concerned about the effect cheating would have on your own feelings, and you might want to keep them purely for your girlfriend and not complicate the situation.

If something changed and you weren't so sure about the future with your GF, then you might cheat as a way of testing the waters before leaving her. After cheating, you also might decide to stay with her. Then you would have a strong interest in not disclosing your dalliance because it might risk losing what you have.

Not exactly rocket science, eh?

Post a comment

Comments are closed for this post.