103: Moral Relativity
Title text: It's science!
This comic pokes fun at moral relativism, a philosophy in the field of ethics that holds that moral judgments are not absolute, but rather vary depending on the circumstances involved and the person (or people) committing it. Randall jokes about moral relativism by comparing it to the theory of relativity and creating a new related philosophy called "Moral Relativity." The scientific theory of relativity predicts (among other things) that measurements of an object change the closer to the speed of light it travels—length contracts, observed time slows down, the notion of separated simultaneous events is relative, etc. The graph is a parody on that of the Lorentz factor, which is the factor by which time is dilated and length contracted. It is humorous that the ethics of a situation would be relative the same way physical properties change as the speed of light is approached. This variation in ethics cited to explain why rap music, perhaps particularly Gangsta rap, which often has lyrics describing rape, murder, and substance abuse, is better when traveling at speed.
Note that relativity in Theory of Relativity (in physics) came from the principle of relativity idea that equations describing the laws of physics have the same form in all admissible frames of reference (as opposed to moral relativity).
- [A graph, rationalization as a function of speed, increasing asymptotically at c.]
- Related to moral relativism, it states that ethics become subjective only when you approach the speed of light.
- That is, it's okay to be self-serving, steal, and murder as long as you're going really, really fast.
- (Note: This is why rap sounds better on the highway at 90 mph)
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