This is another random post. Its been in my head so I’ll just get it out. The discussion about morality has always cropped up in debates. Its a simple question. Where does our morality come from? Theist would argue our morality comes from God. However this concept would presents itself with another problem: which God should we obey? When we based our morality on a God, we are actually externalizing our morality to a deity. And depending on the deity you worship, moral laws change. For example if you worshiped the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, it would be alright to engage in sex orgies, which i don’t mind 😉 However if you worship an Abrahamic God, that would be atrociously sinful. So in the end, even if morality is based on God, isn’t it still subjective to the teachings we are following?
This is the way i see morality, in the end it is all subjective. But if all morality is subjective how do we ever decide what is right or wrong? How do we have Objective morality – principles that most, if not all of us can agree on? For example, the golden rule of morality: –
“Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.”””
And this has been a central tenet in many religion and philosophy. Far from being attributed to God (which is also very subjective), objective morality can be derived simply from the rational nature to live. Isn’t it common sense not to cause trouble and invite danger – to yourself and potentially your family? Without objective laws, our society would simply crumble into anarchy. So first point is that it is only rational to have objective laws. Identifying the first few objective laws should be easy, for example Do not commit murder, Do not steal, Do not rape etc. Beyond the obvious, people can start disagreeing what is morally right or wrong, that’s when morality becomes subjective. That is why you still have debates on morals and ethics today. For example, is it justifiable to detain prisoners for long periods without any evidence just because the authorities suspect the prisoners to be terrorists? Is Euthanasia acceptable? Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? etc
Even the Mafia has objectives laws. Otherwise, the family will crumble
Another question commonly asked is if a majority of society follows a certain teaching or form of morality, then does morality become warped to that society? The answer is yes, however societies with different morals can come into conflict (much like the conflict between the east and the west). If you were a white male born in Nazi Germany, you might have been brainwashed to think that Jews were evil and had to be exterminated. Unless society can accommodate every moral standard, then you will have conflicts which are potentially dangerous and ultimately destructive to societies, especially the smaller/less powerful ones. After many centuries of conflicts and two world wars, our morality has been shaped to what it has become today. Indeed, we have come a long way. We have vilified slavery, racism and sexism. It is through our rationality to decrease conflict that those achievements have been made. (you could also argue that because of our stupidity, we learned morality the hard way)
As a reminder, I’m answering the question of where our morality comes from and whether it is objective or subjective. I am not saying that we have become better moral creatures just because we’re in the 21st century. There are conflicts between societies and between the society and ourselves. The best way to move forward is to have our morality rationalized, debated and reasoned with rather than being imposed upon.
Finally, one last thing i think should not be overlooked is the power of empathy. To me, this is the biological imprint for us to care for one another, thus increasing our chances of survival. This may be the basis of our golden rule. Our rational thinking just helps make sense of it.
I leave you with this question: –
Should we Legalize?