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"-having sex with a donkey
-having sex with your brother
-having sex with your child
-having sex with a balloon
-having sex with your grandmother
-having sex with a cat
-having sex with someone of your own sex"
Donkey or cat: They can't consent, I'd say it's animal cruelty. Wrong.
Brother or grandmother: If consensual and so long as some messed up child isn't produced I don't see anything morally wrong with it. (Not hurting anyone) Pretty weird though. Not wrong.
Someone of same sex: Again, don't see anything wrong with it (not hurting anyone), so I say not wrong.
Balloon: Again, not hurting anyone, I say not wrong.
Child: If underage, can't consent, you could screw them up for life, so you're hurting them, it's wrong. If your child is an adult, same as brother/grandmother scenario.
Yes, I agree that the terminology doesn't matter at the end of the day.
I'll say this about theoretical physics; perhaps you are partially correct to compare some of it to religion, but I think it has some merit. Theoretical physicists can make predictions about how certain things will behave, and then eventually find these predictions to be accurate or not through experiment. Take the example of the atom - people had to theorize about what they were first in order for the right kind of experiments to be conducted, which showed certain predictions to be correct (and incorrect), allowing actual discovery to be made. So long as we don't assume hypotheses to be correct they can be quite useful in directing experiment. I feel like that might be a bad explanation.
Okay, you do make some good points, like about abortion. I think I should have said that fairness should be the basis for laws, rather than is. I think that murder, slavery and rape should be illegal because it is unfair to murder, enslave, rape, etc, not because of morality. I'm not quite sure how to argue that these things are "unfair" but we might just be able to agree that they are?
Interestingly, if we assume laws should be based in fairness, one could push back the question to "why should laws be fair?" This seems like it might be a moral question, although one could make a utilitarian argument.
"Do I have an equal right to say what I believe without any sort of retaliation?"
In America, everybody has the right to say what they believe, which includes saying things in retaliation, so you do not have the right to say things without any sort of verbal retaliation.
I might have skim-read a bit what you two were arguing about, but I just want to point out that appealing to authority isn't always bad. Assuming neither of you are physicists, when arguing about physics it is quite alright to point out the views of actual physicists as supporting evidence (probably not as one's entire argument though). If one appeals to the right authority it can strengthen their argument.
Looking at the gravity question; in classical/Newtonian mechanics (stuff you probably learned in high school) gravity can be considered a force, related to mass and distance between two objects.
I don't know enough about general relativity yet to properly explain why gravity is a so called 'pseudo force,' but I think it's similar to the way centrifugal forces are pseudo forces, but on a more confusing level. Centrifugal forces are what you feel when you're in a car on a bend, pushing you outwards, but there is no actual force pushing you outwards.