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Are morals relative or absolute?

From: Jeff
Sent on: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 12:37 PM
I don't think any minds were changed on this subject (but that's all right). Among the points made were, "the only absolute good is that which promotes my survival and well-being", "we might have a different opinion of the bombing of Hiroshima if Japan had won the war or if we were Japanese", and "slavery, child abuse, and rape sure seem to be absolutely wrong regardless of one's culture".

Next week's topic is going to be a challenge - are humans making progress as time goes by? Our history is filled with examples of barbarous acts but it seems that, from a big picture perspective, we're treating one another better than we have in the past; governments are held accountable (to one degree or another) to a shared standard of legal and illegal. This is not to say that we're even close to a Utopia; terrible crimes still occur in Darfur (as a single vivid example). It seems that what this discussion will center on is whether humanity is becoming more "civilized". What does it mean to be civilized? What does it take? How might we measure it? What is the end result?

Jared Diamond's book, Guns, Germs, and Steel might have some clues.

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