Posted in Reader's Responses

Wikiality, Truthiness, and Gut Thinking

As I was reading this chapter, the part I found most interesting addressed a concept known as “moral relativism.” The idea that something can be morally right if someone believes it to be so sounds absurd at first, but the more I think about it, the more complicated the concept gets. Obviously, killing another person is morally wrong, even if someone were to argue that it wasn’t. But a dislike for strawberries is not considered morally wrong, though many people disagree with that point of view. So where is the line drawn? Are there two almost identical topics, between which the line is drawn, one complying to moral relativism while the other doesn’t? Then if we introduce the concept of cultural moral relativism, the idea becomes even more complex. Could there be things that are considered abhorrent in one culture that are, in their essence, morally just in another?

Another section of the chapter I found interesting was the idea of the principle of charity, or the idea that we automatically assume the most intelligent justification for a person’s actions, maybe without any proof that this was the motive. I thought this to be a fairly simple topic, until I noticed that it came into direct conflict with the idea that we always “see what we want.” The study cited shows that most conservatives didn’t realize that Colbert was offering satire, though he didn’t offer any reasonable evidence for his claims. Why, in this case, does the “see what we want” mindset outweigh the principle of charity? Perhaps it is because the people who share the beliefs being satirized don’t view them as unintelligent, therefore the principle of charity cannot apply. Can we then assume that the principle of charity fluctuates based on the mindset and intelligence of the person observing the action and making a judgement?


One thought on “Wikiality, Truthiness, and Gut Thinking

  1. I like the focus on the principle of charity here. It is a problematic, but at the same altruistic, intellectual concept. And it is difficult to allow some ideas and some people. I’d be curious to here you say more about it though. Consider not merely sharing what’s “interesting” from the readings, but consider letting yourself find connections in your own life, etc. I’m curious to see how these ideas inspire you to reflective on your self and what you see around you.


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