take the taboo challenge

March 6th, 2009

TheThinkMovement.com by j. sakiya sandifer

Most of us do things in the name of tradition without any thought of how it applies or affects us personally.  It should be clear by now that I see life through a philosophical lens, which  drives me to find the “why” to an action.  I think clearly understanding the “why” allows one to make a better decision.

Recently I came across a fascinating article about taboos.  Although it has some right of the gate “uhh…yuk” factors,  it does make you think about where you are morally.  Me personally, I love it when my belief system is tested because when you really think about it…how good can a belief  be that has never been tested?

With that said, take the taboo challenge if you dare…

A small boy is playing happily on a swing in a local playground when an older girl pushes him off and hurts him for no other reason than that she wants to play on the swing.  Are her actions morally wrong?

Is it possible that an action is morally wrong solely for the reason that it harms the person undertaking the action?  For example, might it be morally wrong to smoke just because it harms the smoker and for no other reason?

Is it possible something might be morally wrong for no other reason than that God determines that it is wrong?  For example, imagine that God has declared that drinking water is wrong, and when she is asked why she replies honestly “for no other reason than that I say it is.”

Can an action be morally wrong if it is entirely private and no-one, not even the person doing the act, is harmed by it at all?

Do you think that morality comes from God or some other source outside of nature, society and human judgment?

An old woman was very ill. On her deathbed she asked her son to promise that he would visit her grave at least once a week.  The son didn’t want to disappoint his mother, so he promised that he would. But after his mother died, he didn’t keep his promise.  He was too busy.  He didn’t tell anyone about his promise, and he has never felt guilty for failing to do as he said he would.

How do you judge the failure of the son to visit his mother’s grave once a week as he promised?  Should the son be made to keep his promise or punished in some way for failing to visit his mother’s grave once a week?

Suppose you learn about two foreign countries. In one country, it is normal for a son to break a death-bed promise to his mother to visit her grave every week.  In the other, if a son has made such a promise, then it is normal for him to keep his word.  Are both these customs okay morally speaking or is one of them bad or morally wrong?

A family’s cat was killed by a car in front of their home.  They had heard that cat meat was very tasty, so they cut up the cat, cooked it and ate it for dinner.  To date, they have never regretted the decision and they have not suffered any harm as a result of cooking and eating the cat.

Should the family be prevented from eating any of their future pets or punished in some way for eating this pet?

Suppose you learn about two foreign countries.  In one country, it is normal to eat the family pet if it is killed in a road accident.  In the other, pets killed in road accidents are not normally eaten.  Are both these customs okay morally speaking or is one of them bad or morally wrong?

Sarah and Peter were brother and sister.  They were on vacation together away from home.  One night they were staying alone in a tent on a beach.  They decided it would be fun to have sex.  They were both over 21.  They had sex and enjoyed it.  They knew that for medical reasons Sarah could not get pregnant.  They decided not to have sex with each other again, but they never regretted having had sex once.  In fact, it remained a positive experience for them throughout their lives.  It also remained entirely their secret (until now!).

If their sexual liaison had been known about, should steps have been taken to prevent them from having sex together again (assuming such steps were possible) or should they have been punished for having had sex together once?

Suppose you learn about two foreign countries.  In one country, it is normal for brothers and sisters to have sex with each other on one occasion if the sister is infertile.  In the other, brothers and sisters never have sex with each other.  Are both these customs okay morally speaking or is one of them bad and morally wrong?

A man goes to his local grocery store once a week and buys a frozen chicken.  But before cooking and eating the chicken, he has sexual intercourse with it.  Then he cooks it and eats it.  He never tells anyone about what he does, never regrets it and never shows any ill effects from behaving this way.  He remains an upstanding member of his community.

How do you judge this man’s actions (assume there are no ethical problems with meat eating!)?

Should his poultry lovin’ be prevented (assuming we know about it) or should he be punished for it?

Suppose you learn about two foreign countries.  In one country, it is normal for people to have secret sex with dead chickens.  In the other, people don’t in the normal course of events have intercourse with frozen poultry.  Are both these customs okay morally speaking or is one of them bad and morally wrong?

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Entry Filed under: The Thinker's Thoughts


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  • 1. the open mind  |  March 6th, 2009 at 4:58 PM

    Hey, befor I asnswer your questions, I want to acknowledge the fact that you represented God as a women. I like that. Anyhow here are my thoughts on the above:

    I. I think that morality and judgement should come from oneself, but many people often take it from society. Most people will agree that something is morally wrong without even thinking if they truly agree with it but b/c society says it is and most individuals would rather fit the mold then think for themselves, I should say are too scared to think for themselves, they go with the know instead of questioning there own feelings about a subject. I don’t beleive an action can be morally wrong if it’s in private or if it is known, it is wrong if YOU think it is, but like I said most people don’t think for themselves. Wether they realize it or not they let society, God, and othere people think for them by the actions they take.

    I used to do the cross every time I passed a cemetary b/c it was what you did. I never once hesitated to not do it, until one day when me and my mother were driving and I caught myself in mid-cross and asked myself “Why am I doing this?”. Until that moment I would feel wrong and judged for not. I realized I am not going to do something I don’t beleive in or for that matter have a reason to do so. With that being said, I see no wrong in either or. It is up to you and only you to decide or let others decide for you wether something is wrong or right.

  • 2. moe  |  March 12th, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    i think morality comes from that “outside source” you mentioned in question 1, but i also think it’s closely linked to the concept of God. I’m not sure if I believe in God or not, but I do believe there is somethingggg that connects all of us, and this ’something’ gives us hints at what we should and should not be doing. Let’s call it your ‘gut’ feeling for kicks.

    but cultures tend to define things for us. each person inherently has his or her own code of ethics, but it is overwritten by the code society gives us.

    basically im with the open mind (ha) that morality has to come from ourselves, but i just think that society power is so overwhelming the only way to break out of the very closed-minded thinking of culturally defined morals is leave remove yourself from that culture and start over

    i think thats how people ‘find themselves’

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