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What is anarchists' problem with morality?

+4 votes
asked Apr 11, 2010 by anonymous

4 Answers

+1 vote
 
Best answer
You ask a loaded question, as it assumes that all "anarchists" most certainly have a "problem with morality."  You provide little definition for either term, which makes it frustratingly difficult to answer.  Fortunately, Enkidu did contribute a distinction that could serve just fine for the sake of this discussion, although I would extend "morality" to include preconceived notions of "right and wrong," if you will, that one asserts as universally true within any context.  I suppose that one could relate attempted enforcement of norms by peers to assertions of authority.
For instance, Libertaro's comment alludes to a "universal ethical standard," asserts the injustice of certain consumer habits, and concludes by equating their perceptions of the situation as a medium for general interpretation.  This seems like a case of morality.
I perceived the ethics that Enkidu offered in this way:
When a group of individuals agrees upon a limited set of values that bear relevance to their social context instead of accepting what others might assert as invariably applicable, critical thinking can suddenly take place on a mutual level.   I think of ethics as having an element of flexibility that morality does not allow for.  The conclusions reached by critically thinking about a situation certainly apply to that situation, but another context would demand reevaluation.  I distinguish ethics from morals in the sense that morality maintains a notion of invariable righteousness, whereas ethical thinking pursues ever-broader perspectives in order to establish informed positions from which one may make decisions.  We can think of "anarchism," in the generalized use it sees here, as both a blanket term denoting common ground held by many similar but different positions that might carry more specific contextual significance.
I make a tricky argument for ethics that borders on self-contradiction.  In fact, you could think of my argument as an attempt to establish such a position between us.  This position depends on accepting certain axioms for the sake of our conversation,  beginning with the idea that one cannot reach a complete perspective.  Thus, we have two options for further building our position.  First, we could try to devalue any position we create because we cannot hope to fully inform ourselves of any situation, but a devaluation of value on any ground seems paradoxical to me.  We can, instead, place value on our positions precisely because of their socially-constructed nature.  We can because we decide to.
answered Apr 26, 2011 by blark (950 points)
+2 votes
The important distinction here is morality vs. ethics. In this contexts "morality" is taken to mean a set of precepts guiding action that are handed down by an authority. As anarchists are against authority they reject morality in this sense of the term. Ethics on the other hand can be individually worked out. Ethics are important to a lot of anarchists. Indeed, anarchist opposition to oppressive institutions is partly based in the belief that oppression, hierarchy, etc. are unethical.
answered Apr 11, 2010 by enkidu (6,110 points)
I add the universal ethical standard that we are most often aware of the harm we do to others and the suffering brought about by our actions. I'm not talking about simple offendability in response to something another person finds bothersome or shocking, but true harm and increase of suffering. If we're uncertain, we should inform ourselves about knock-on effects of our actions when we can't directly observe them. An easy and often-repeated example is purchasing things from a company that I know profits from sweatshop labor. The practice is fed by the money I give the company, and so is unethical. Eating meat from creatures raised in confined animal feeding operations is another example, as is shooting firearms into the air in the midst of a celebration. If I know that harm is caused or made more likely by what I do, that obligates me to stop what I'm doing, if I say I have any ethical distinctions at all. Libertaro
enkidu, do you know who was the first person to make this distinction? It is a good one and it has come up in stuff I've read by Foucault but I'm guessing it's older than that?
–2 votes
there may not necessarily be one. i, for instance, simultaneously believe in anarchy and right/wrong. in fact, i believe anarchy is "good" as opposed to "bad", because of the suffering i have seen forms of government bring.
answered Feb 28, 2012 by anonymous
0 votes
If morality means the general teachings of what is good and how to the well-treatment of others, I don't know that many anarchist have a problem with that.  Yet "morality" is often attached to proselytizing religious or political group.  Rather than morality being a guide to our individual conscience, it becomes the grounds for judgment, prejudice, and ultimately enforcing their "morals" and values on others.
answered May 31, 2012 by afunctionalworld (2,030 points)
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