17 September 2010

Bread and Dripping - It's Traditional

The thing about ‘traditional values’ is that they are imposed rather than realised. The politicians and religious leaders that talk of them don’t seem overly fond of democracy with a capital D.

When they use the phrase it seems to be in order to get a ‘feelgood’ response from you; rhetoric designed to get you to think that whatever it is that is being proposed is the only sensible thing. After all, traditional = strong, dependable, solid, trustworthy, honest, reliable, secure, tried and tested, wholesome, moral, good. What could possibly be wrong with that? Apple pie and custard all the way down. What could possibly be wrong with ‘traditional values’?

Well, for one thing, you will notice that the appeal rests on the horns of two logical fallacies: the appeal from authority and the appeal from tradition.

You will notice that you are not supposed to question ‘traditional values’.

You might notice that they often stem from very patriachal and authoritarian attitudes in cultures and societies determined to maintain the status quo. Thus has it ever been.

You will notice the implication that ‘modern values’ are conversely bad: modern = fickle, impermanent, faddish, liberal, shallow, self-serving, dishonest, relative and transient.

You might find an appeal to ‘absolute moral values’, with the certainty of ‘rightness’ derived from an interpretation of religious doctrine and tradition. This will be similar in all cultures with differing religious traditions. The technique will be the same and will accuse modern society of moral relativism and tend to cast doubt on legislation designed to eliminate discrimination on grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation and so forth - because it seeks to maintain the right to discriminate based on its traditions.

You will find that it will oppose, (nor recognise the value of), the principle of separation of church and state and will seek close coupling to the power structures of the state so that its own values may be woven into its policies and legislation.

The appeal will include a demand for automatic respect rather than a request for the stage upon which to earn it.

It is like bread and dripping: traditional, but not necessarily good for you or anyone else.


ellie said...

so trueee (:

ScubaNurse said...

so very true, nice post, thanks!

Anonymous said...

"When they use the phrase..."

This is the logical fallacy of the "straw man". Who exactly are they? What "traditional values" do "they" talk about?

Thou shalt not kill perhaps?

Do you believe that those who hold "traditional values" are morally inferior? If ethics is relative you lose all logical basis for such comparisons. What then is the source of your ethical axioms?

- said...

the koran, obviously mr anon.