• chatterbears
    398
    Moral superiority is the belief or attitude that one's position and actions are justified by having higher moral values than others. Since I became vegan, many people have told me, "You think you're better than everybody else, sitting on your high horse."

    The thing is, everybody has values in which they deem as higher than another person's values. I bet most of the people in this forum could confidently state that they are morally superior to a child rapist. Would I be correct in assuming that? If so, then it wouldn't be surprising for a vegan to feel morally superior to a non-vegan.

    I am not comparing child rape to non-vegans, but I was trying to illustrate that we all make some value judgment on another person's actions. And we have an internal model of one's self, in which we feel morally superior to that person. I'd say I am also morally superior to a husband who cheats and/or beats his wife.
  • DingoJones
    839


    Well it depends on whether or not the person actually has a better moral system or not, which for me at least depends in whether or not it is rational and justified. If I had to guess, people tell you that because they dont think you are justified in your morality. People notice when other people are much more confident in their positions than they should be even if they cannot articulate exactly why. This is the high horse, FEELING you are morally superior when you are NOT. The measure of this depends on what peoples standards are for a moral or ethical
    system.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Moral superiority is the belief or attitude that one's position and actions are justified by having higher moral values than others.chatterbears

    Ok, seems a good definition. Now please make the argument as to why the comparison to what other people are believing or doing is important. Are you running for political office? Do you seek to join the priesthood?
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Since I became vegan...chatterbears

    If you care to share, when was that?
  • chatterbears
    398
    People notice when other people are much more confident in their positions than they should be even if they cannot articulate exactly why. This is the high horse, FEELING you are morally superior when you are NOT.DingoJones

    Agreed, but it works the other way as well. Person A may assume Person B is on their high horse, when in fact Person B is justified in doing so. Person A may not fully understand a moral position, and therefore should abstain from judgement on Person B's character.
  • chatterbears
    398
    Now please make the argument as to why the comparison to what other people are believing or doing is important. Are you running for political office? Do you seek to join the priesthood?Jake

    I don't really understand your question/point?
  • DingoJones
    839
    Agreed, but it works the other way as well. Person A may assume Person B is on their high horse, when in fact Person B is justified in doing so. Person A may not fully understand a moral position, and therefore should abstain from judgement on Person B's character.chatterbears

    Yes, it depends on whether person is actually right or not and we tell that by the merits of how they reached thier conclusion.
  • chatterbears
    398
    Yes, it depends on whether person is actually right or not and we tell that by the merits of how they reached thier conclusion.DingoJones

    Definitely agree here.
  • Terrapin Station
    10.6k
    The thing is, everybody has values in which they deem as higher than another person's values.chatterbears

    I don't agree with that. I don't accept a "higher"/"lower" paradigm or framework for morality.
  • Erebos
    4

    But I think he’s saying it depends on perspective. And everyone has a point of view. Obviously some people are just plain wrong about things. But whose to say one persons view is more valid than another’s? As long as adeqequate thought is put into it I can see fair points from both sides of an argument usually. When I make a decision I try to look at things from several angles. And Try to remain objective. It’s arguably impossible since life is subjective for each person and we are creatures that suffer emotions and wants. Still the bigger picture must be considered and the consequences of your actions thought about. The world is the way it is for a reason. Imagine we achieved world peace in a day. Literally overnight...Would that break the world economy? If we stopped knowing how to wage war would that weaken us as a species in the longrun?
  • Erebos
    4
    I agree with that completely
  • Jake
    1.4k
    I don't really understand your question/point?chatterbears

    Managing one's personal morality does seem important.

    Why does a comparison to someone else matter?
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    For me, moral "superiority'' entails the existence of choice. If one has no option but to be moral then morality has no meaning.

    A man or woman who is in a situation that requires him/her to be good isn't moral at all. Reminds me of myself.

    However, if a powerful person who can do as s/he wishes but chooses to be good then s/he is superior in a moral context.

    Free will? Determinism? Pending issues...

    Also, morality is about sacrificing your self - your ego - for the benefit of others. So, moral ''superiority'' is an oxymoron in that to describe being good as ''superior'' you've simply retraced your steps to square one on the chessboard of ethics.
  • Tzeentch
    264
    Feelings of moral superiority serve no other purpose besides inflation of the ego. Are such feelings common? Undoubtedly. But they are also highly dangerous, both when cultivated in individuals and in communities.

    I'd say I am also morally superior to a husband who cheats and/or beats his wife.chatterbears

    This is where the mistake lies: This illusion of moral superiority stems from one instance, in which one attests that under the same circumstances one would have made a different decision.

    Firstly, unless one has been in the same situation, one cannot be sure of this. How many people judge themselves to be morally superior to Nazi concentration camp guards? However, we also know that it is very likely that the average person would, under such circumstances, act in much the same manner.

    Secondly, it is a mistake to judge the merit of a person on one example. Feeling morally superior to another means one has the illusion of being able to judge the entirety of another's moral being, and the entirety of one's own moral being, compare the two, and conclude one is superior.

    Now, either of these could very well be true, but it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to find out. However, even if one were to gain, by some miracle, an accurate insight of one's own moral being compared to another, what is the use of blemishing this achievement with feelings of moral superiority? Why can one not congratulate oneself for being on the right path, and pity the poor fool who isn't?
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Very well said, I cast my vote for your post.
  • ernestm
    629
    How many people judge themselves to be morally superior to Nazi concentration camp guards?Tzeentch

    You got the question right. This is a particularly appropriate day to consider it. In the USA, the democrats are splitting up after they had a majority in the house for less than a day. Trump is using federal funds to keep trump towers open during the federal shutdown. And in Britain, they are talking about 'no deal brexit' now. Both the USA and Britain continue to believe themselves morally superior to germany. Yet somehow, even after being split in two, germany is now more unified and a greater world power than ever.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    I was trying to illustrate that we all make some value judgment on another person's actions.chatterbears
    I suspect that may be correct. But judging actions is not the same as judging a person. I don't think we all go on to judge other people and think ourselves superior or inferior.

    I look at some actions of other people, and those include eating meat, and think that I hope I would not do such a thing because I consider it wrong. I look at the actions of different other people and think how good they seem to me - much better than I feel I could bring myself to do.

    But that doesn't mean I condemn the first person, or worship the second. Nobody is perfect, and even people's notions of 'perfect' vary. Nor is anybody completely flawed.
  • ernestm
    629
    don't think we all go on to judge other people and think ourselves superior or inferior.andrewk

    true. But the people who are capable of exercising restraint in this vanity are a remarkably tiny fragment of the species.
  • Terrapin Station
    10.6k


    For me it's just a matter of acknowledging what morality really is--and what superior/inferior judgments really are. Both are simply types of preferences that people have. We could say that I prefer my preferences, obviously, but that's rather redundant.
  • Mayor of Simpleton
    425
    Are you morally superior to someone else?

    No.

    Now for a different question regarding you.

    Since I became vegan, many people have told me, "You think you're better than everybody else, sitting on your high horse."chatterbears

    Why are they telling you this?

    Are you tossing it in their face as if it has some sort of universal moral superior value?
    Are they simply assuming that anyone who claims to be "vegan" has a self-assuming moral superiority?
    Are there other impication and hasty generalizations at work?

    Honestly I have far too little context to field any conclusive position.

    All I can do is field even more question and vague observations founded up the limited content of the OP.

    So for what it's worth...

    The thing is, everybody has values in which they deem as higher than another person's valueschatterbears

    Odd, as that itself seems to be a rather bold assumption regarding the formation of values of other; thus it sort of appears to be a very judgemental statement. (it's less and indictment, but rather something that made me giggle a bit)

    Anyway...

    ... is it possible to hold values that are not founded in a competition with the values of others... so to say, can one hold/create values without it being a reaction to/against the values of others?

    I bet most of the people in this forum could confidently state that they are morally superior to a child rapist.chatterbears

    In what context and by who's standard of measure?

    It seems that majorality here is being discussed as if it is a singular thing that can be measured by an unseen standard of measure; thus I could not answer the question with more context in respect to an established standard of measure being presented.

    If so, then it wouldn't be surprising for a vegan to feel morally superior to a non-vegan.chatterbears

    Non-sequitur/equivocation alert?

    How exactly would the general moral value of a member of this Forum as measured by a nondisclosed standard of measure as compared to the general moral value of a child rapist as measured by a subsequent undisclosed standard of measure serve as an accurate equivocation relating to the issue of vegan vs. non-vegan?

    I am not comparing child rape to non-vegans, but I was trying to illustrate that we all make some value judgment on another person's actions.chatterbears

    Well... as a future suggestion don't write it out that way, as it reads as an "appeal to emotions" (appeal to the children) and directly implies what you claim not to be implicating; thus it might shed some light on why the "many people" have stated
    "You think you're better than everybody else, sitting on your high horse."chatterbears
    .

    Indeed, perhaps a more accurate and less emotionally charged/extreme illustration might not be as off putting when approaching this issue from the get go?

    It's just a thought... ;)

    And we have an internal model of one's self, in which we feel morally superior to that person. I'd say I am also morally superior to a husband who cheats and/or beats his wife.chatterbears

    Oh dear...

    ... here we go again.

    Morally superior in what context and by what standard?
    Also... now we have the implied equivocation of "non-vegan" with "a husband who cheats and/or beats his wife".

    Sure it's not what you meant to imply, but it's what you have stated.

    Déjà-vu?

    I'm so sorry to be like this, but hey... isn't the real question why do many people say to me
    "You think you're better than everybody else, sitting on your high horse."chatterbears

    Meow!

    G

    btw... (the "meow" is a signature I have used for many years, so for those who don't know me it's just a habit of mine leftover from the previous forums... as then it served as a check for my dyselxia and not a cheeky provocation. :) )
  • S
    10.2k
    Also, morality is about sacrificing your self - your ego - for the benefit of others.TheMadFool

    No, that's what altruism is about. Morality is much broader than altruism.
  • DiegoT
    318
    it depends on what you understand as morality. If you use moral as a synonym for ethical, then to be vegan doesn´t put you on a higher ground. This is so because Ethics is based on reason and empiricism; not on beliefs or cult books. You have values, and find out what behaviours promotes those values more than others in the real world and with real choices.

    It so happens that veganism is not such rational framework, but a life-style that satisfies personal instincts and feelings, with religious taboos that promote community bonds and inner peace. What is lacking to call veganism an ethical behaviour, is the logical and scientific study of what is the best way to protect the values vegans have.

    However, the taboo is supposed to make you feel superior morally; or purer. And part of a better group of people that recognize you as one of them. So it is natural if you feel superior, but it´s not real if morality has an ethical meaning. I´m not judging you or anything, only trying to answer your question as well as I can....
  • Not
    22
    No. I usually feel worse than the next guy. I also have a keen sense that any of us could be bad....really bad.....given the right set of circumstances. I don't believe the retractions about the Milgram Experiment. I do believe people can be made to be bad. So I tread carefully with any scrap of goodness I have and feel quite lucky to have it.

    I could get a brain tumour or go mad or get a serious head injury to make me violent or an illness I can't handle or the wrong med, etc....... The possibilities are endless.

    I am good now. Yeah! But better than anyone? No.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    The thing is, everybody has values in which they deem as higher than another person's values. I bet most of the people in this forum could confidently state that they are morally superior to a child rapist. Would I be correct in assuming that? If so, then it wouldn't be surprising for a vegan to feel morally superior to a non-vegan.chatterbears

    It's not surprising for NEW vegans to make that comparison, which is probably what's happening here. But such comparisons are completely unnecessary. In fact, most people do whatever they do for whatever reason that works for them, and aren't concerning themselves with a comparison to somebody else.
  • Txastopher
    169
    If X is wrong, and you make a choice not to do X, then you gain some positive morality. However, in order to establish that veganism confers moral superiority, you would need to establish that non-veganism is wrong; something you have yet to do.

    Even if it were the case that non-veganism is wrong, in terms of consumption, vegans could indeed be morally superior, but there is no reason to suppose that this morality carries over into any other areas of their ethical lives.

    I'd say I am also morally superior to a husband who cheats and/or beats his wife.chatterbears

    Not, presumably, because you are a vegan, but because you don't cheat/beat?

    I would argue, in your case Chatterbears, that any moral gains you make by your affirmed veganism are more than cancelled out by your ignoring and/or wilfully misunderstanding anyone who disagrees with you and that your conclusion that the resulting attrition of your interlocutors in the face of your mantra-like repetition amounts to some kind of philosophical victory.
  • Pelle
    32
    It only depends on if the central impact of the moral system is fundamentally neutral, negative or positive. I'd say the mere act of eating animal products is neutral, while being a child rapist is actively negative.

    The neutral-positive relationship is inherently different to a neutral-negative relationship, in that the neutral actor can point out that they themselves don't do the negative acts that are carried out be the negative actor. A positive actor can't look at neutral actor in the same way though, because the neutral person can declare their voluntary choice and say that as long as their actions aren't directly negative, they are free to do whatever.

    Subsequently, the positive actor has to proclaim the neutral actor as a negative one, in order to combat them intellectually, which leads to that moral grandstanding which you describe.
  • DiegoT
    318
    It only depends on if the central impact of the moral system is fundamentally neutral, negative or positive. I'd say the mere act of eating animal products is neutral, while being a child rapist is actively negative. I think All acts are morally neutral, and they can be attributed an moral positive or negative charge when they actually happen, in a context.
    Notice how your examples (eating animal products and child rape) differ in that the second is given a context. Because the general, context-free action is not to rape a child, but to have sex with a child. I think second generation anthropologists like Malinowsky wrote about cultures where adults were supposed to initiate the children sexually and the ritual practice was functional within their society and apparently not harmful at all for the kids and their self-esteem. The very same practices could be traumatic in our society for children in the same age.

    My point is not to discuss the topic of sex with minors, but that you always need a precise context to assign moral qualities to an action. Eating animals is neutral; but if you give it a context it becomes good or bad. Eating endangered animals as they do in China today is bad, because they drive many species to extinction. Eating paella de conejo with your grandparents is morally good, because you are fulfilling your duties with your family.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    Of course we all think our own opinions are right and others are wrong somehow. Otherwise we would have the other opinion.

    "Superior" is the wrong word though, because a good philosopher maintains a decent amount of humilty, self-criticism, and willingness to proven wrong.
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