Fandango gives us another provocative question.
“Is morality objective or is it subjective? If you believe it’s objective, what is its source. If you believe it’s subjective, how do you know whose concept of morality is correct?
From the crystal ball (google), one definition of morality is “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior, [or a] particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society”.
Being a criminal justice major, we studied right and wrong and how it fits into the laws of the land, from local to regional to state to country to global to God to cosmic. The laws of the land are broken down into two main categories, malum prohibita and malum en se. Malum prohibita are laws based on “because we said so” and are put in place by a particular entity to keep the wheels of a society greased and moving along. For example, property laws, where it is just easier to keep things straight as to who owns what, stealing penalties, etc. The malum en se laws are the ones based on “inherent evil”. These are based on acts that are wrong no matter where and no matter who does them, for example murder or rape.
Each society has its own variation on the above, and these societies range from governmental to religious. Let’s face it the sole purpose of these institutions are to decide for the masses what is right and wrong, and let’s also face that right and wrong changes over time for them. From the eyes of an institution – it seems weird to type that – their laws have codified morality, and they believe it is objective; however it is administered by people who create the inherent wiggle room of subjectivity.
Let’s also face it, these institutions are notorious hypocrites. For example, wars. Caging children. Letting predatory moguls and movie directors skate. Tax evasion for the 1%ers. Politicians for sale. Destruction of the planet going unchecked. Let’s also be realistic enough to know that without SOME laws, mass chaos and destruction would ensue.
My feeling on it is that morality is both objective and subjective, where the lines get drawn along those same legal lines. Is buying a piece of property that was being sold by a 90-year old who couldn’t keep up with her mortgage payment questionable in that the person may have exploited a vulnerable person? Yes. Is it immoral? No. Is breaking into a home and raping the sleeping resident immoral? Yes. As to institutional determination of morality, I will follow the laws not always because I think they are right but because I want to remain a part of my society without constraints. Do I believe that the recent escalation of the US in legislating morality, particularly in the areas of reproductive choices, is terrifying? F*ck yes.