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    An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Please imagine with me that a radical pro-rape activist is promoting legislation to legalize rape, on grounds that rape is a valid expression of the "survival of the fittest" principle, and would therefore, from a pragmatic viewpoint, ultimately improve the destiny of mankind.

    You wish to oppose this legislation on grounds that rape in intrinsically evil. In response, the activist claims that no one can propely oppose the new law promoting rape, because moral absolutes do not exist. All moral viewpoints, including those about rape, are simply personal opinions. No mere opinion has any inherent right to govern human behavior on a given subject such as rape.

    Apart from a belief in moral absolutes (moral guidelines that have their origin in a source higher than human opinion), how would one properly oppose the proposed new law sanctioning rape?

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Nobody in their right mind would appose the legislation on the grounds that rape is intrinsically evil. In the US, you would appose it on the grounds that it would deny individuals the right to life and liberty. Fifth amendment I believe. That was an easy one.
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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by bogie
    Nobody in their right mind would appose the legislation on the grounds that rape is intrinsically evil. In the US, you would appose it on the grounds that it would deny individuals the right to life and liberty. Fifth amendment I believe. That was an easy one.

    So true. :D


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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by bogie
    Nobody in their right mind would appose the legislation on the grounds that rape is intrinsically evil. In the US, you would appose it on the grounds that it would deny individuals the right to life and liberty. Fifth amendment I believe. That was an easy one.
    You bring up a relevant point.

    However, please consider a scenario where a majority of Supreme Court justices ruled tomorrow that rape will henceforth be a constitutionally protected act. Many would rightly, as you suggest, oppose this ruling on the basis that it denies individuals the right to life and liberty.

    But even if we all agree on the propriety of the Fifth Amendment in general, how do we decide which specific behaviors should be prohibited as violations of life and liberty? The rapists of America might sign a petition claiming that restricting them from rape is a violation of their pursuit of life and liberty as they define it.

    Without moral absolutes, this becomes simply a contest among personal opinions---yours, mine, and those on the High Court. And the Court, in my scenario, would have ruled that rape no longer violates the Constitution's standard for morally acceptable behavior.

    You would then want to pursuade enough voters to elect a President who would appoint new Supreme Court justices, who would then see fit to overturn this pro-rape ruling. But to do this, you would need to convince voters that your view on rape (opposing it) is better than that of the pro-rape justices. Without moral absolutes, on what basis do you make this argument to voters?

    And even if enough voters did agree with you, and had the new law repealed, how would these voters even know that they were correct in so doing? Who is to say that a rape victim's pursuit of life and liberty should take precedence over that same pursuit by the rapist? Both the victim and aggressor will have decided, based merely on personal opinon, which agenda to pursue in securing life and liberty.
    Last edited by rp3miler; 07-24-2007 at 08:44 AM. Reason: a slight grammatical adjustment

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Since survival of the fittest is the principle behind the proposed legislation then I'm sure the 'radical rapists' wouldn't complain about being killed by able, physically-fit, properly trained women defending themselves by any and all means at their disposal.
    Of course this will eventually lead to women's vigilance groups springing up and then it will be "god help any male they get in their sights!"... guilty or not. This would naturally lead to male protective organizations... both parties consumating their "relationship" with street brawls, rioting and a possible break-down of any remaining social order.

    ...but that's just my opinion.

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    I'm sure the 'radical rapists' wouldn't complain about being killed by able, physically-fit, properly trained women defending themselves by any and all means at their disposal.
    Well said,

    They also would be happy with big hairy bikers doing the same to them.

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulM
    Since survival of the fittest is the principle behind the proposed legislation then I'm sure the 'radical rapists' wouldn't complain about being killed by able, physically-fit, properly trained women defending themselves by any and all means at their disposal.
    Of course this will eventually lead to women's vigilance groups springing up and then it will be "god help any male they get in their sights!"... guilty or not. This would naturally lead to male protective organizations... both parties consumating their "relationship" with street brawls, rioting and a possible break-down of any remaining social order.

    ...but that's just my opinion.
    Point well taken. I think you have described in excellent fashion precisely why we have the rule of law in civilized society: to prevent anarchy. But in the formulation of our specific laws, we have to refer to some type of code, framework, or reference point about what is right and proper in a civilized society.

    In the Middle East, rulers have decided that women who are raped should also be stoned to death. We can say to these Middle Eastern rulers: "With regard to rape, our American law handles the victim in a better way. You should not be stoning these victims, you should be punishing the perpetrator."

    But how do we make this case to them if human morality and law are simply a matter of human opinion? In such a case, the laws we choose in the Western world are no more universally binding or applicable than our favorite flavor of ice cream. Without moral absolutes, there is no ultimate reference point by which to evaluate competing moral systems.

    Even the complete breakdown of the social order that you described above could be seen by certain groups as preferable to the status quo. That sort of anarchy is exactly what anti-U.S. extremists would love to see happen. How do we validate our own view that our current social order ought to prevail over social chaos, unless we ground this appeal in an absolute moral reference point?

    If we ground our appeal merely in majority opinion or pragmatism, then on those grounds we might have a continuing case for slavery as well.

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by rp3miler
    In the Middle East, rulers have decided that women who are raped should also be stoned to death. We can say to these Middle Eastern rulers: "With regard to rape, our American law handles the victim in a better way. You should not be stoning these victims, you should be punishing the perpetrator."
    But over there women are not seen as people, they are seen as property. To be traded or bartered for a fair price.

    The rape situation is only a sympton of the way that women are viewed as less than second class citizens (if they have even achieved citizen status). Our laws are based on the idea that anything is legal if both parties consent. If both parties don't consent then the interaction is not supposed to take place.

    Its not just rape, but fights or almost any form of violence. If both parties want to barefisted box each other, then that can happen. Rape by it's very nature is a condition where one party is not willing.

    Theft is another act where if both parties are willing then it's considered charity. If one party is not willing then its theft.

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by rp3miler
    You bring up a relevant point.

    However, please consider a scenario where a majority of Supreme Court justices ruled tomorrow that rape will henceforth be a constitutionally protected act. Many would rightly, as you suggest, oppose this ruling on the basis that it denies individuals the right to life and liberty.
    I don't normally get into hypotheticals like this but this time I'll play. For a while anyway. But this gets us into impeachable offences.
    But even if we all agree on the propriety of the Fifth Amendment in general, how do we decide which specific behaviors should be prohibited as violations of life and liberty? The rapists of America might sign a petition claiming that restricting them from rape is a violation of their pursuit of life and liberty as they define it.
    As have groups such as the KKK. Nevertheless, laws are made to protect society as a whole and in the US we also throw in individual liberties. That means that you have the liberty to do as you please provided that you do not violate the civil liberties of another. And especially when legislating laws. One law cannot grant a liberty to someone of it violates the liberty of another. Even freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot falsley yell fire in a crowded theater for instance. And of course, since the founding fathers knew that confusing issues such as these might arrise, in their wisdom they created a third branch of government. The judicial branch.
    Without moral absolutes, this becomes simply a contest among personal opinions---yours, mine, and those on the High Court. And the Court, in my scenario, would have ruled that rape no longer violates the Constitution's standard for morally acceptable behavior.
    I'm not following you here. We do have moral absolutes. And you needn't believe in a god to have morals. I'll put my morals up against yours or anybody else's. I do as good a job as anybody living my life in a fashion that jesus would approve. He lived for about thirty five years a couple thousand years ago and his teachings have influence many, including me and other athiests that I know, to live harmoneous lives and following the golden rule. I just haven's seen any evidence to suggest that he was the son of some god or that mary was a virgin or that the universe and everything in it was created in a week only six thousand years ago.
    You would then want to pursuade enough voters to elect a President who would appoint new Supreme Court justices, who would then see fit to overturn this pro-rape ruling. But to do this, you would need to convince voters that your view on rape (opposing it) is better than that of the pro-rape justices. Without moral absolutes, on what basis do you make this argument to voters?
    This is why I avoid hypothetical discussions. They have a tendancy to wander off into fantasy. We would more likely be discussing impeachment here, not the appointment of justices. Besides, those five that you are referring to have their jobs for life if they want it. A sitting president cannot simply replace them. I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who once said, "Supreme court justices never retire and rarely ever die."
    And even if enough voters did agree with you, and had the new law repealed, how would these voters even know that they were correct in so doing? Who is to say that a rape victim's pursuit of life and liberty should take precedence over that same pursuit by the rapist? Both the victim and aggressor will have decided, based merely on personal opinon, which agenda to pursue in securing life and liberty.
    This is becomming rediculous to the point of being laughable now. You seem to be quite confused about how our government works according to the constitution or you would not suggest that voters repeal laws. They don't. Voters elected candidates to represent them in legislatures whether at the state level or the US congress. The legislatures then, through a democratic process, pass and repeal laws. We are a republic, not a majority ruled democracy.

    Let's back up. First, the constitution protects individual liberties. Second, any law that would infringe on an individual's liberty, whether benifiting another individual or not, would be ruled unconstitutional. Probably never even reaching the supreme court. Third, there are mountains of precident from over two centuries of court rulings. The concept of starre decises is fondly held by every judge or justice and no one who discarded it could ever by confirmed to the supreme court or any federal court for that matter. Fourth, should a justice or group of justices rule or even argue as you have suggested, they would be commiting an impeachable offence by violating their oath to protect and defend the constitution of the US. And finally of course, a president can only appoint a federal judge or justice if the seat has been vacated. He cannot fire anybody on any federal court. Separation of powers you see.
    The terminally stupid and certifiably insane.

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_jag
    But over there women are not seen as people, they are seen as property. To be traded or bartered for a fair price.

    The rape situation is only a sympton of the way that women are viewed as less than second class citizens (if they have even achieved citizen status). Our laws are based on the idea that anything is legal if both parties consent. If both parties don't consent then the interaction is not supposed to take place.

    Its not just rape, but fights or almost any form of violence. If both parties want to barefisted box each other, then that can happen. Rape by it's very nature is a condition where one party is not willing.

    Theft is another act where if both parties are willing then it's considered charity. If one party is not willing then its theft.
    Very well stated. And I'll reiterate that our American legal system is based on different values than those values operating in other regimes. Even in America there were those government officials who once condoned the treating of blacks as property. It took a massive civil rights movement in the U.S. in the 1960's to move blacks further toward equality.

    If our basic civil rights and human rights (such as the right to mutual consent) are not grounded in moral absolutes, then how are they to be asserted with moral authority against MIddle Eastern regimes who oppose these rights?

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by bogie
    I don't normally get into hypotheticals like this but this time I'll play. For a while anyway. But this gets us into impeachable offences.
    As have groups such as the KKK. Nevertheless, laws are made to protect society as a whole and in the US we also throw in individual liberties. That means that you have the liberty to do as you please provided that you do not violate the civil liberties of another. And especially when legislating laws. One law cannot grant a liberty to someone of it violates the liberty of another. Even freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot falsley yell fire in a crowded theater for instance. And of course, since the founding fathers knew that confusing issues such as these might arrise, in their wisdom they created a third branch of government. The judicial branch.
    I'm not following you here. We do have moral absolutes. And you needn't believe in a god to have morals. I'll put my morals up against yours or anybody else's. I do as good a job as anybody living my life in a fashion that jesus would approve. He lived for about thirty five years a couple thousand years ago and his teachings have influence many, including me and other athiests that I know, to live harmoneous lives and following the golden rule. I just haven's seen any evidence to suggest that he was the son of some god or that mary was a virgin or that the universe and everything in it was created in a week only six thousand years ago.
    This is why I avoid hypothetical discussions. They have a tendancy to wander off into fantasy. We would more likely be discussing impeachment here, not the appointment of justices. Besides, those five that you are referring to have their jobs for life if they want it. A sitting president cannot simply replace them. I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who once said, "Supreme court justices never retire and rarely ever die."
    This is becomming rediculous to the point of being laughable now. You seem to be quite confused about how our government works according to the constitution or you would not suggest that voters repeal laws. They don't. Voters elected candidates to represent them in legislatures whether at the state level or the US congress. The legislatures then, through a democratic process, pass and repeal laws. We are a republic, not a majority ruled democracy.

    Let's back up. First, the constitution protects individual liberties. Second, any law that would infringe on an individual's liberty, whether benifiting another individual or not, would be ruled unconstitutional. Probably never even reaching the supreme court. Third, there are mountains of precident from over two centuries of court rulings. The concept of starre decises is fondly held by every judge or justice and no one who discarded it could ever by confirmed to the supreme court or any federal court for that matter. Fourth, should a justice or group of justices rule or even argue as you have suggested, they would be commiting an impeachable offence by violating their oath to protect and defend the constitution of the US. And finally of course, a president can only appoint a federal judge or justice if the seat has been vacated. He cannot fire anybody on any federal court. Separation of powers you see.
    You have given a very thoughtful response. I agree that our American legal system seeks to prevent actions that violate another party's rights, as with yelling "fire" to cause a stampede. But other regimes in the world do not share this enlightened view, as fathers in the Middle East can execute their daughters in "honor killings" without due process. Comparing these two opposing legal systems, I believe the American system is superior, and ought to be followed by the other regime. If this were just my opinion against theirs, I would have no valid claim against them. Why is my opinion about legal affairs and due process any better than theirs unless my claim is based on a moral absolute?

    You mentioned that moral absolutes do exist, but you say that one may embrace moral absolutes without believing in a god. That may well be true. An atheist, for example, could believe that certain acts are absolutely good or evil, beyond dispute. Whatever we believe about the source of the moral absolutes, my main point here is to argue that moral absolutes do exist, in oppostion to those who deny their existence altogether.

    I was unclear in my earlier post about how a law would be overturned. Your overview on how the Supreme Court operates and how the U.S. legal system works was well done. As one who has done master's level study in political science, I should have been more precise in my comments. Of course the President could only replace the Justices in the event of their death or retirement, and citizens do not directly create legislation. But my original treatment lacked precision and you were very astute in your response to that.

    THe essence of my argument is that IF (admittedly hypothetical) the Supreme Court were to legalize rape, a valid counter argument would have to be gounded in the idea of moral absolutes. Those who currently oppose the legalizing of abortion often make the same argument---that abortion is morally objectionable, at least in the majority of cases, and this conclusion rests on a moral absolute, not just on personal human opinion.

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by rp3miler
    We can say to these Middle Eastern rulers: "With regard to rape, our American law handles the victim in a better way. You should not be stoning these victims, you should be punishing the perpetrator."
    And why would america even give advice to a country on how to deal with its domestic affairs? Oh yes, because america likes to meddle in other people's business but let its on court run ramped.
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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by rp3miler
    You have given a very thoughtful response. I agree that our American legal system seeks to prevent actions that violate another party's rights, as with yelling "fire" to cause a stampede. But other regimes in the world do not share this enlightened view, as fathers in the Middle East can execute their daughters in "honor killings" without due process. Comparing these two opposing legal systems, I believe the American system is superior, and ought to be followed by the other regime. If this were just my opinion against theirs, I would have no valid claim against them. Why is my opinion about legal affairs and due process any better than theirs unless my claim is based on a moral absolute?
    It appears that we agree on what moral absolutes are. Where I think we see things differently is that, at the risk of putting words in your mouth, you see moral absolutes as being defined by a belief system. In your case, christianity. In other words, because the bible has outlined moral boundaries, those boundaries become your's and all other christians. I on the other hand consider morals to be an individual concept. Each individual developes his own moral and ethical boundaries. We create laws within a society because everybody's morals do not always agree. Indeed, we even elect our representatives to government in large part because of what we know their moral and ethical conduct and persuasion to be. If I'm off track here let me know but I often have this discussion with people of faith. Their argument being that there needs to be a moral standard for all to live by and what better standard than christianity. My response is that I live up to the highest moral standard without having to read what that standard is. Take the golden rule for example. It is an oft used standard in christian teachings for how others should be treated. But besides being taught in sunday school, it also makes simple common sense. If I put two newborn babies on a desert island with no outside influence, I know they'd never survive but stay with me, at some point in time one of them might slap the other. Likely the other will slap back. Sooner or later the original slapper will figure out that "Hey, If I quit slapping him maybe he'll quit slapping me." That's the golden rule and they didn't even have to know how to read much less posses a bible to learn it. It was common sense.
    You mentioned that moral absolutes do exist, but you say that one may embrace moral absolutes without believing in a god. That may well be true. An atheist, for example, could believe that certain acts are absolutely good or evil, beyond dispute. Whatever we believe about the source of the moral absolutes, my main point here is to argue that moral absolutes do exist, in oppostion to those who deny their existence altogether.
    Yes but the morals are only absolute to the individual. My morals are absolute to me and yours to you. You may have come by your moral beliefs in a different manner than me and they may even be exactly the same but at some point we both decide for ourselves what is the right and wrong thing to do. Obviously our upbringing has much to do with how we form our moral beliefs. I often count myself lucky to have been born a white male in America. Not just because of the obvious oportunities and life styles, but because I might not be the same person were I born in let's say Saudi Arabia. As you mentioned, it is not morally acceptable to me for a family to murder a daughter because of shame that she brought to the family. But what if I had been born and raised under the influence of such an invironment. Would I have different moral values than I do now? I would hope not but who knows? One of my best freinds is Iranian and although he is still of the Muslim faith, he despises much of the teachings in the quoran. Not everybody gets to be my friend and those that are posses the same moral absolutes that I do. Although it appears that most muslims at least to a degree seem to approve of some of the attrocities committed under sharia law, Moshin feels precisely the way I do about the golden rule, civil liberties and all people being equal. He didn't learn that by comming to america. He came to america because he already embraced those concepts. His moral absolutes agreed with ours as a whole and mine as an individual.
    I was unclear in my earlier post about how a law would be overturned. Your overview on how the Supreme Court operates and how the U.S. legal system works was well done. As one who has done master's level study in political science, I should have been more precise in my comments. Of course the President could only replace the Justices in the event of their death or retirement, and citizens do not directly create legislation. But my original treatment lacked precision and you were very astute in your response to that.
    I would not claim to have studied as much as you have but for about twenty years now, the constitution and the supreme court have been hobbies of mine. For most people it's not unlike reading the phone book but that one parchment and the historical interpretations fascinate me. My wife woke up the other day and came out to find me watching CSPAN where Justice Stephen Breyer was being interviewed. She's beginning to wonder I think why she found me so exciting years ago.
    THe essence of my argument is that IF (admittedly hypothetical) the Supreme Court were to legalize rape, a valid counter argument would have to be gounded in the idea of moral absolutes. Those who currently oppose the legalizing of abortion often make the same argument---that abortion is morally objectionable, at least in the majority of cases, and this conclusion rests on a moral absolute, not just on personal human opinion.
    Yes but of course you and I seem to dissagree on what a moral absolute is. As I've said, each individual's own moral absolute is really nothing more than a personal human opinion. Perhaps we can get beyond the hypothetical aspect and look at an actual conflict of morals. Instead of a law legalizing rape, we could look at sharia law that legalises the murder of the daughter by her shamed family in Saudi Arabia that we talked about before. You and I find it absolutely morally reprehensible. Equally so I'd bet. Yet you feel that you derive your moral absolute, at least in part, from organized religion and I derive the exact same moral absolute from my life experiences and common sense. So it didn't take a written or stated standard for us each to reach the same level of disgust over that murder. And although your religion helped influence you to adopt your morals, the Muslim head of that family relied on his religion to define his morals. But he came to a completely different moral absolute than my friend Moshin, who also is a Muslim. I guess I'm saying that although all of us are influence by our environment, we each must come up with our own way of making it through life. It's often argued that the founding fathers were christians and that they created a government based on christian values. But those same signers of the constitution originally wrote in to it that blacks were but 3/5 human. They believed that slaves were personal property, women should not vote and on and on. It took individuals later on to fight for amendments to these attitudes. The civil rights movement of the sixties ran smack up against southern babtist christian values in their struggle. Many of those civil rights leaders were christians and all of the klansmen were of the same christian faith. And yet they each felt that they were on the correct side of god. So I agree that we need a defined moral standard, at least for a society. But we have that. The constitution, besides being the legal basis of our government, expresses our moral absolutes as a society as do our laws. We do not all agree on those absolutes. Many, for instance, believe that they have a moral right to own and conceal an Uzi submachine gun and carry it onto a school yard if they want. They even sight the second amendment as their source of justification. But they're wrong. The individuals in the state legislatures, dissagreeing that carying an Uzi anywhere is a moral right, inacted firearms legislation to prohibit just that. And it was individuals in the courts, including the supreme court, that ruled by individual vote that indeed that is not the moral right of the individual. So although we need a set of moral standards, they do not necessarily need to come from a theological belief system. Because as we've seen with the founding fathers, theological belief systems do not always get it morally right.
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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by rp3miler
    Please imagine with me that a radical pro-rape activist is promoting legislation to legalize rape, on grounds that rape is a valid expression of the "survival of the fittest" principle, and would therefore, from a pragmatic viewpoint, ultimately improve the destiny of mankind.

    You wish to oppose this legislation on grounds that rape in intrinsically evil. In response, the activist claims that no one can propely oppose the new law promoting rape, because moral absolutes do not exist. All moral viewpoints, including those about rape, are simply personal opinions. No mere opinion has any inherent right to govern human behavior on a given subject such as rape.

    Apart from a belief in moral absolutes (moral guidelines that have their origin in a source higher than human opinion), how would one properly oppose the proposed new law sanctioning rape?
    Rape wouldn't actually be survival of the fittest. It may have been at one time, but now that we are Homo sapiens (have our intelligence capabilities) it may be counter-productive. Human women have the ability to clearly link the past to the future (and therefore know a child was born to the man who raped them) and this can often affect their bond with the child. In the animal kingdom this isn't always the case, but humans are different, therefore I think a good argument could be made that rape isn't even a valid expression of survival of the fittest in humans. The "fittest" may be the ones who form loving relationships and raise children who won't grow up to be "damaged goods"

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by rp3miler
    Please imagine with me that a radical pro-rape activist is promoting legislation to legalize rape, on grounds that rape is a valid expression of the "survival of the fittest" principle, and would therefore, from a pragmatic viewpoint, ultimately improve the destiny of mankind.

    You wish to oppose this legislation on grounds that rape in intrinsically evil. In response, the activist claims that no one can propely oppose the new law promoting rape, because moral absolutes do not exist. All moral viewpoints, including those about rape, are simply personal opinions. No mere opinion has any inherent right to govern human behavior on a given subject such as rape.

    Apart from a belief in moral absolutes (moral guidelines that have their origin in a source higher than human opinion), how would one properly oppose the proposed new law sanctioning rape?
    i would like to ask what is the purpose behind your submitting such a proposal for the opinions/reactions of the audience!?it's getting bad enough around here with all the silly proposterous question asking like everyone has a right to subliminally push their selfishness on others in the form of seemingly important and dramatic SOUNDING(trigger words) scenarios!?WHAT IF!?......hehe!!.....just askn....
    i do not endorse/recommend any advertising on scam.com associated with my name /posts or otherwise. thank you

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    Re: An absolute Denial of Moral Absolutes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Agitator
    And why would america even give advice to a country on how to deal with its domestic affairs? Oh yes, because america likes to meddle in other people's business but let its on court run ramped.
    I agree that "nation building" and governmental meddling in the sovereignty of another country can as has been abused. And America should not be hypocritical in its behavior. But in a global society, I suppose we either have to be very isolationist, or try to spread respect for human rights the best we can, if only through persuasion.

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