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Co-intelligent moral sensibilities -- compared to relativism and fundamentalism

Below are simplified articulations of three archetypal moral perspectives -- co-intelligence, relativism and fundamentalism. They are not authoritative; rather, they reflect my own limited sense of these things. They are also not offered to judge or recruit your existing moral sensibilities, but simply to jog and sharpen them. Since co-intelligence is grounded in dynamic diversity and dialogue, I would hope that no two people would have the same response to this material. And I am quite sure that that is the case!

I've organized these three "moral checklists" so that they are parallel to each other and can be compared with each other, point for point. Point one, in each credo, represents its overall perspective; point two deals with motivation; and so on.

May you find them provocative and, hopefully, a source of some little insight.

One co-intelligent moral perspective

  1. Our primary approach to morality is to consciously enhance life, synergy and learning.
  2. We are motivated by our compassion and by our awareness of our role in the world and the possibility of synergy.
  3. We look for the welfare of the whole through the welfare of the parts, and the welfare of all parts through the welfare of the whole.
  4. Our morality helps us all move to the best of our ability toward synergy.
  5. We co-create a nuanced morality sustained and developed through our imaginative participation.
  6. Our morality is flexible and evolves through our dialogue.
  7. We respect and protect moral diversity as a constant source of moral insight and stimulation.
  8. Conformity and parochialism reduce synergy and impede co-intelligent dialogue.
  9. We make an effort to learn from and co-evolve with dissonant feelings and voices.
  10. We value moral inquiry and the co-evolution of shared moral understanding.
  11. Doubt opens the door to greater understanding.
  12. Our morality uses belonging (the synergy we feel together) as a source of energy and growth.
  13. Moral dialogue develops our sensitivity to subtleties, complexities and context.
  14. We utilize and integrate many sources of moral sensibility and guidance. Sources of moral sensibility and guidance include ourselves, each other, conscience, parents, the law, the clergy, various traditions, scriptures, tools of divination, nature, God, and our common human desires, needs, experiences, biological/neurological/psychological structures, cognitive capabilities, etc.
  15. We utilize and integrate many modes of moral sensibility and guidance. Modes of moral sensibility and guidance include principles, caring, imagination, wisdom, intuition, mindfulness, judgement, and appreciation. (We believe that diverse modes and sources of morality inform, check and balance each other, increasing our moral sensitivity and the wisdom of our actions).
  16. We believe that shared human desires, needs, experiences, etc. constitute a shared foundation for universal moral sensibilities.
  17. We take seriously our role in the world and our effort to create it well, but hold our moral systems lightly.

One relativist moral perspective

  1. What people consider harmful or beneficial is totally relative to their culture, personality and background.
  2. People are motivated by personal idiosyncrasies and cultural mores.
  3. Whether you focus on the whole or the part is dependent on your cultural and individual perspective.
  4. Morality is in the eyes of the beholder.
  5. Morality is whatever a culture or individual says it is. Who can say otherwise?
  6. Morality is relative to changing circumstances, so of course it changes.
  7. Moral diversity is inescapable and shows morality's intrinsic relativity.
  8. Conformity exists when it is enforced within a given system.
  9. Moral truth is relative, so of course there's disagreement.
  10. We value detached analysis and perspective.
  11. Doubt is inevitable in any thinking person confronted with relative moralities.
  12. If you need to belong, your group's morality will have a lot of leverage in your life.
  13. Relativity, not absolutism, can appreciate the nuances of diverse moralities.
  14. The existence of diverse sources of morality with their inherent contradictions, is primary evidence for moral relativism.
  15. The impossibility of once-and-for-all establishing the validity of one moral mode over the others further demonstrates the relativity of morals.
  16. Believing is universal, but particular beliefs are not.
  17. As relativists, we are mostly moral spectators and take our own (and all) morality with a grain of salt.

One fundamentalist moral perspective

  1. Morality's role is to directly constrain bad acts and impulses and mandate good ones.
  2. Unholy people (which is most of us) must be motivated by shame, responsibility-as-guilt, rewards and punishments.
  3. A: The whole is most important! B: Our part is most important!
  4. We are striving for righteousness; They are not (or they are misguided).
  5. True morality comes from a moral authority. Moral truth is universal, absolute and sustained by faith and obedience.
  6. At its deepest levels, morality is eternal and unchanging. However, our moral authorities may mandate changes in the details and applications of it.
  7. There is only one right way. One truth.
  8. Conformity is vital.
  9. Dissonant feelings and voices are evil and must be suppressed or effectively countered.
  10. We value faith and obedience.
  11. Doubt opens the door to confusion and the slippery slope of amorality and immorality.
  12. With the threat of non-belonging as a carrot and the right to belong as a stick, morality keeps people in line.
  13. Choices are either moral or immoral. Complexity tests our moral fortitude.
  14. We follow the single legitimate source of moral guidance and authority.
  15. All modes of morality are reducible to the application of moral principles.
  16. We know our moral truth to be factual and universal. If other's don't realize this, they should.
  17. Nothing should be more important than adherence to our moral standards.

See also

Co-Intelligence and Morality

Morality as Intelligence

And my friend Ken Lebensold's very co-intelligent new moral vision.

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