If anyone has been following these posts and conversation, and if they are still in their right mind, then welcome. It became clear that either the form of my argument, wording, phrasing, concepts, or some combination thereof was confusing. My fault. Do I agree the objections were accurate as to form? No. But if a certain path to getting one’s point across is causing (and allowing) more confusion than clarity, it is time to come at it in a different way. So, I decided to simply put it in a story or analogy form that basically presents the very same set of circumstances and context for my original inquiry, which has to do with how we justify violence and the use of power.
Here is the story/analogy, which has been slightly changed for clarity:
Two people hear a story about a treasure hidden in a faraway land. Upon further investigation, they find two maps that supposedly tell where the treasure is hidden. The problem is that each map is different. Based upon how one man heard the story, he thinks Map A is correct. Based upon how the other man heard the story, he thinks Map B is correct. According to the maps, either way, it will take their life-times to get to either place so they can only go to one or the other spot, not both, and they need each other’s help to get to either. They begin to fight over which place to go.
There is an observer to all this—let’s call him our treasure relativist. He believes he knows something neither man does. He believes both maps are wrong because he also believes no treasure exists. Another observer who knows the relativist believes this, asks him, given your belief no treasure exists, what do you see them fighting over from your perspective? He responds: “My perception is they are fighting over who gets to call his false map the “correct” one regarding finding something, a treasure, that doesn’t exist.”
Now, my first question is: Given his belief, is our relativist’s observation/conclusion a logical one to make? Second? Is there anything about his coming to that conclusion that is tautological? He is not making an argument for his belief morality is relative and the non-existence of objective referents. He is simply making an observation, i.e., “This is what I see happening…”
Now, it would appear my intrepid interlocutors have agreed his observation/conclusion is a logical one given his belief no treasure exists. It would also appear that since he is not making an argument for the fact no treasure exists, that his observation/conclusion is not then a tautology.
The only remaining objection I have seen is that “yes” it is a logical observation/conclusion given his belief, and “yes” it’s not a tautology because he is not trying to make an argument to prove the treasure does not exist, “however”, his observation/conclusion is an “empty” one.
So, I think this is where we are, but I could be wrong and perhaps I’ve misunderstood everyone (a very likely possibility). And, again, I’m not trying to say anything about the question “Is morality relative or objective?” I don’t care about that right now. I’m trying to address the question of what justifies violence and the use of power. Further, I’m trying to tease out the implications, specific to those questions, of how they are addressed/perceived from a relativist perspective. Again, we don’t care if he is right or wrong—we are simply trying to view this from his perspective. And, as we remember, we are not speaking of the DMR (descriptive moral relativist), but of the MMR (metaethical moral relativist), which is that morality existing by objective referent (God for instance) is false, morality does not exist that way, but rather is relative to each person. Morality is the projection of our subjective will and desires, and nothing more than that.
Just such a view is the one held by our treasure relativist. An actual, objective, treasure does not exist. Rather, we each find our own treasure within, not without. The men, he might surmise, should tear up these false maps, quit looking for something that doesn’t exist, and realize the treasure has been within them all along. What they sought in far off places was with them all the time.
So, I will throw this out to anyone as a continuation of this ongoing conversation.