In the Magic thread, for a brief moment morality entered the discussion. For a while now, I've been very interested in morality. However, the brief interruption from the true subject matter of that thread only last for a page or two. I'm not a student of philosophy or ethics, but I have given it a lot of thought and listened to a lot of ideas on the subject. Of particular interest to me is the existence of objective and subjective morals.
Morality perscribes a list of behaviors to describe how we should maintain a fuctioning, healthy society. Overtime, the list of what is and what is not acceptible behavior has changed. For example, in many civilizations it was considered moral to offer human sacrifices to the gods. Of course today we no longer accept this sort of behavior.
Objective morality states that morals are not subjective. Taken a step further, objective morality says that there are certain morals inwhich we all accept and recognize to be universally valid. That morality is assigned a valid indepent of the mind. That morality is assigned a value independent of human consciousness. This is typically by a creator, such as the Abrahamic god, or by universal laws, such as Karma per Budhhist tradition. Within this system, each broken rule, crime, or sin is typically treated as equally egregious, no matter the circumstance of the action. Moral objectivists typically recognize that some subjective morality does exist.
Subjective morality states that morality is subjective. This means that certain types of behavoir are assigned a value based on rationality. That morals are judged based on what is in our own rational self-interest and then assigned a value by our own consciousness. Because of this, most moral subjectivists believe that each undesirable behavor should be judged on a case-by-case basis, as the circumstances of those actions can vary wildly. This view of morality is typically held by atheists and our legal system is typical subjective, as sentencing can vary widely based on the circumstances of the crime.
Many philosophers and ethists have suggested that moral subjectivity cannot describe what ought
to be, that it can only describe what is
. Some even maintain that it is impossible to derive an ought from an is. Moral objectivists often hold this up as a victory. Since subject morality cannot describe how things ought to be then objective morality must exist. Subjectivists have a number of counters to this claim, however the one most common I've heard is "so what?" They would ask why is it important for oughts to exist and why they should be recognized at all. In a subjective view point, oughts are not generally considered to valid.
As an atheist, this is a topic that I have a particular interest in. Since I recognize no gods and thus none of their ideological underpinning, I find myself having to justify my own morality. In my view throughout history our morality has changed. It was once considered morally accept to own and sell other human beings. This is no longer true in our contemporary society. Many people in our society consider homosexuality a sin, but I can see no rational basis for this belief thus I refuse to recognize it as immoral. Recognizing this, I believe this puts me firmly in the subjective category.
Now, I know anyone who has studied philosophy is probably screaming at me right now. Yes, this is a gross over simplification of this ongoing debate. However, my interest lies mainly in the objective/subjective schism. Please note the following links below will lead to more indepth decusssions of morality.
So what are your thoughts on morality? If your understanding of the subject is greater than mine, please help me by filling in the gabs in my knowledge. Do you disagree with my stance that all morality is subjective? Perhaps you believe that some morals are subjective and others are objective.
I would like to stay away from religion in this discussion if at all possible. However, for certain people religion is the cornerstone of their morality, so I recognize that might be impossible. Still, I would ask that we try to avoid it and stick to speaking to meta-morality.