I noticed your affiliation and so I looked up the Dawkins scale. I would have to put myself down as a 1.5
Thanks for noticing. It's convenient, even if (or because) it oversimplifies matters.
There are arbitrary factors because in the case of some rules, the most important thing is that there is a rule and not what the rule actually is. But morality is not completely arbitrary because sometime there is a reason why some things are better than others.
I like this. I never considered that in some cases, it's necessary just to have a rule, even though the rule itself might be arbitrary.
I also agree that there is often a reason why some things are better than others and that a natural law might follow from that. But this natural law of morality, just like evolution, has no need of a divine origin (not that you said this, but being preemptive just in case). This kind of brings me back to my poorly posed question. Let me try again:
If an action occurs from one person to another but no one else is around to witness it (and will never become aware of it), does it have any moral implications?
Basically what I'm trying to ask is this: In the absence of a society, is there morality?
My answer is no. Without other people to make acts have a moral value, any interaction between two people is simply a matter of Jack Sparrow's Rules of Ethics: "What a man can do and what a man can't do." There are still consequences for actions and I can personally feel good or bad about what I did, but there is no morality to them (how I feel personally about something is not morality, right?). It is no different than when the lion kills the zebra or when the wind blows or the waves crash on the beach. It is neither good nor bad. It is, in and of itself, an event.
Only when an action is brought before a society (just a small group of people will do) can an action be given any moral significance. The group decides, collectively not consciously, as a whole, not individually, if an act is good or evil and will add further to the consequences to drive home the point if they feel the consequences already endured weren't enough.
That's my take on it.
I personally think that banking practices are "evil", though they are tolerated, excepted, and not legal. As a society, we have not cast these practices as immoral, though I'd like to think it's on the line. Here is an example of "Terms of Agreement"
for a credit card. It's ridiculously, intentionally hard to comprehend. The less well you understand it, the more money they are likely to make. They could easily design the language and agreement so that anyone can understand it. "If you only pay this much per month, it will cost you this much over the course of a year." That's something everyone can understand. We have to twist the banking industry's arm to do this.
I think it probably could be generally agreed upon that it is immoral to be intentionally vague or obfuscatory in order to take people's money. However, as a society, we find it acceptable to let big banks do this. There's something evil about it, but just not evil enough I guess. How is it that we can have this moral maxim that we can all agree on, and yet not completely outlaw it or call it morally reprehensible when we see it? I don't see anyone doing this EXCEPT the dems, who very slowly are trying to change the law to make lending practices more transparent and easy to understand.
It is evidently socially impolite to point out hypocrisy when one sees it...
Is this what allows untenable positions to remain tenuously tenable?