Hello, some time ago psychologists came up with the notion that people varied in terms of their capacity to tolerate ambiguity. Some of us, it seems were always anxious to judge the matters in terms of black and white while others were able to tolerate varying degrees of grey.
It was argued, psychologist (that is), a sign of maturity to be able to tolerate ambiguity those .. those who judge things as only black and white were likely to develop allsorts of other rather nasty traits ... antidemocratic tendencies, authoritarianism, even racism.
As far as I know none of these studies ever commented on the personal advantages of seeing the world in black and white terms. The sheer comfort that comes from knowing with certainty into which compartment matters can be placed.
The sort of comfort I found in my youthful Catholicism when a sin was a sin was a sin whether it was committed by a spotty boy in the next dormitory bed or by an aged tribal hunter in the deep forests of Africa.
Well all these thoughts and others were aroused by a new new book by Stiven Lukes called “Moral Relativism “ which suggests that many people are indeed torn between two conflicted intuitions when they come to make a judgement about a moral issue.
One is what you would call the psychologically intolerant thought that some actions are right and others are wrong, full stop, and the other thought, the thought that admits much more ambiguities “yes .... but who are we to apply our standards to other people who may not agree with us about the right and wrong ways of behaving, about what is black and what is white.”