The Angus Reid Institute has released an interesting survey about Canadian moral values.
It’s actually quite dense with information, so much so that it’s hard to know where to start or what to focus on. I’m certainly not going to cover everything in a single blog post. I encourage you to read ARI’s official release about it, and if you’re really interested in a particular question, ask about it.
One of the things they found was that Canadians can be grouped into four broad categories. I’ll let their infographic explain:
I’d be curious to know how CA’s readers fit themselves into these categories. I’d imagine pretty much everyone is either “Non-Religious Moralist” or “Amoralist”, but I wonder what the breakdown between them is. ARI’s data suggests that we should be “Non-Religious Moralists” by a factor of two to one.
There were a couple results that raised my eyebrows. I knew Canadians generally support physician-assisted suicide, but I was surprised to see that it was the number 1 “morally acceptable” result. 22% said it was morally acceptable anytime (32% say “usually”). The only things that more people say are acceptable anytime were “eating meat” (24%) and – remarkably – “same-sex couples raising children” (27%!).
As an aside, the options that most people thought were morally wrong under any circumstances were “having an affair” (56%) and – again, remarkably – “not declaring income to avoid paying taxes” (50%). Someone at the Frasier Institute just shat themselves reading that last one.
Speaking of which, check out that result about “buying a gas-guzzling SUV”. 27% say it’s usually wrong and 12% say it’s always wrong, compared to only 6% saying it’s always right and 23% saying its usually right. (33% don’t think it’s a moral issue.)
The only depressing result for me as the amount of people feeling that our moral values are “weaker” today than they’ve been in the past. Less than half (47%), but that’s still a lot. Unsurprisingly, the majority of them are the religious bunch – non-religious people were more likely to say no change.
The bright spots? Well, first there’s the number of Nones in the survey. Nones were by far the biggest group at 37%. But if I have to name my favourite result, it’s this:
Canadians are great.
We have to keep working to get ‘Rules of society/culture’ above ‘Religion/God’.
At least it isn’t blaspheme to improve our society and culture!
> We have to keep working to get ‘Rules of society/culture’ above ‘Religion/God’.
What? No way! “Rules of society/culture” is just as stupid and terrible a source of morality as “religion/God”. If something is going to be declared morally wrong, it should be because something about that thing actually makes it bad, not just because the herd says so.
I would be an amoralist but does amoralist have negative connotations in our society? How many times have you heard someone say Hitler was amoral? Is there not a better word or phrase?
What was nice was that only 21% of the population are religious absolutist nutbars.
> I would be an amoralist but does amoralist have negative connotations in our society?
Not in the context of this survey. Honestly, they picked a rather stupid term. A person who doesn’t think abortion is a moral issue is not an amoralist. An amoralist (with respect to abortion) would be someone who thinks it *is* a moral issue, but thinks its neither right nor wrong.
Personally, I don’t think abortion is a moral issue either. I don’t think you deserve condemnation for having one, but neither do I think you deserve praise. It’s not like, “Susie had an abortion! What a horriple person!” but neither is it like “Susie had an abortion! She’s such a nice person!” The correct thing to say is, “Susie had an abortion… wait, why the fuck am I talking about Susie’s private medical history?”
I don’t think deciding what toppings you put on your pizza is a moral issue either (assuming you’re using standard toppings, and not something like ground baby). That does not make me amoral. It just means I’m not a judgemental asshole who casts everything as a moral issue so they can place themselves as morally superior to anyone who thinks differently.
Perhaps a better term in the context of this survey than “amoralist” would have been “not a judgemental asshole”.
> How many times have you heard someone say Hitler was amoral?
Well, to be fair, what they really mean is *IM*moral. They’re just using “amoral” because it makes them sound less like a judgemental asshole (and maybe because they think it makes them sound a little smarter).
> What was nice was that only 21% of the population are religious absolutist nutbars.
And even less (only 13%) put God or religion as the main source of their morality!
> Better than amoralist would be Relative Moralist
No. Relative morality is bullshit. There’s no such thing as a *true* relative moralist anyway.
Better than amoralist would be Relative Moralist
As a moral relativist, I agree, we’re awful.
I would put myself down as a mix of amoralist and non-religious moralist. I have problems with the division between the two because the majority on both derive their morality from reason. If reason can lead one to a conclusion, was the question ever really one of morality?
> If reason can lead one to a conclusion, was the question ever really one of morality?
Of course it is. Morality is not antithetical to reason. In fact, morality *requires* reason. Without reason morality is pointless nonsense.
Moral philosophy (ethics) requires reason, but morality more generally can be a completely arbitrary set of value judgments, requiring nothing more than someone with a big stick to enforce them. Most moral systems(arguably all of them), deprived of context, end up being nonsense.
> Moral philosophy (ethics) requires reason, but morality more generally can be a completely arbitrary set of value judgments, requiring nothing more than someone with a big stick to enforce them.
I call bullshit.
You could say the same thing about justice: “Justice requires reason (an irrational judicial system would be a Kafkaesque nightmare), but justice can be a completely arbitrary set of value judgements (about what is ‘just’, rather than moral), requiring nothing more than someone with a big stick to enforce them.”
But you would *not* call such a system “justice”. You would *not* say justice exists in a place where the laws were arbitrary and only obeyed because of threat of violence. You would say any place that called such a system “justice” is making a mockery of the term. Case in point: Saudi Arabia. Do you think what Raif Badawi is facing right now is *justice*? Hardly.
So if you wouldn’t call a system of laws that is wholly arbitrary and only obeyed by threat of force “justice” (except ironically, of course)… why would you call a system of ethics that is wholly arbitrary and only obeyed by threat of force “morality”? Because that’s what *they* call it? Please. The types of people who call that “morality” are the same types of people who call creationism “science” and brutal repression under a tyrannical dictatorship “democracy”.
> Most moral systems(arguably all of them), deprived of context, end up being nonsense.
I would correct that to say: What most people *CALL* moral systems are nonsense, context or no.
“I call bullshit”
Heh, and you never disappoint on that score.
But, it’s not like I made this up, I mean, it’s an interesting discussion to have…
You seem to be arguing for a kind of rational idealism on these issues?
When it comes to vague value words, common usage, for me, trumps all.
The discussion of the theory of Justice is literally a sub-discipline in philosophy.
So yes, Saudi Arabia does indeed have a justice system. Not really one I prefer or endorse, and I certainly think injustices happen there, but even court/law sanctioned injustices happen here in Canada too.
I tend to think we should err on the side of the rule of law.
But even in Canada today, we have things like parliamentary privilege, we allow police to open carry hand guns, etc, which technically puts them above… At least certain, laws. And I think other laws, completely arbitrary ones should be struck down: pot laws, the current prostitution law, the blasphemy law…
And judges/juries have discretion on all sorts of issues, so our system is somewhat arbitrary even by design:
Not to mention my discomfort, with various pseudo legal kangaroo court things, like human rights tribunals and organizational discipline processes.
Is there true justice in Canada? Or anywhere?
Would I know it if I saw it?
As for creationism being science, I would say no. It could, at some point in the past, have been considered a hypothesis, but it doesn’t really fit the facts, like string theory, nor is it testable like quantum mechanics, nor is it observable like gravity.
And I think If one were to scientifically search for democracy, Justice or morality, one would find they have very little scientific value, since all are still firmly in the sphere of mere philosophy.
Worthy of discussion, and debate, informed by science, but hardly scientific concepts.