Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

This is another one of Fandango’s Provocative Questions and, damn, it’s a good one! First things first, what is morality? According to Lord Google, it’s a set of principals which consider the difference between right and wrong……but according to whom? That’s where we run into our first problem with morality as a concept isn’t it?

If you’re a devout Christian for example you may believe that lust is immoral, it is listed as one of the seven deadly sins after all! However, if you’re a healthy teenage boy you’re going to be lusting after something or another every five minutes because your hormones, at that age, are in overdrive. Lust, or the desire for sex, is part of our make up as human beings (and how far would we get as a species without it I wonder) so is it something that we can judge as being either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? I would say no. In fact I would go so far as to say that enforced celibacy is an unnatural state and, to my mind wrong but do I think that celibacy is ‘immoral’ – no.

Following that train of thought is the idea of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ really what we use to support our ideas of morality? Isn’t it more a case of there are certain things that we can accept and others that we can’t but then doesn’t that depend on the circumstances? For instance, most of us would consider it morally wrong to eat a dog BUT if we were absolutely starving and there was nothing else to eat would we put aside our moral principals in order to survive? We’d like to think that we’d never eat a dog under any circumstances but the reality is that we probably would if the alternative was death.

The two examples I’ve used here both concern subjective morality; they are things that we accept or not according to our own set of principals and according to the circumstances. Let’s face it then, subjective morality is going to be ever changing, it’s not something that we can readily use to write laws for instance.

However, objective morality could be used, in theory, to write laws because it concerns absolutes; something that is fundamentally right or wrong. A commonly used example would be murder. If you stopped 100 people in the street and asked them the question:

“Do you think murder is wrong”

it’s a pretty sure fire bet that 100/100 would say yes; this then could be a moral absolute.

However, what if you then asked someone to define murder, how many answers would you get then? Probably the most common would be something along the lines of

“The intentional taking of another life”

If you then asked a third question:

“Do you agree with the death penalty?”

How many would say yes? 25/100 maybe? Perhaps more? By their own definition, those people have just condoned murder despite it having been determined to be a moral absolute. However, they would then likely argue that the death penalty is different because it’s the State that carries it out…..but what about when they get it wrong is it still then morally right because it’s been State sanctioned? No! How can it be?

Opinions on what is right and wrong will always be divided based on social attitudes, religious beliefs, upbringing and a host of other things so what could humanity say, with one voice, is absolutely right or absolutely wrong?

For me, morality can only ever be subjective because our circumstances are ever changing and our opinions of what is acceptable or not will change accordingly. Nothing, in my opinion, can ever really be absolute.

I’d really love to know what you think so please let me know

Lisa x

  33 comments for “Is Morality Objective or Subjective?

  1. November 30, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Great response to the question, Lisa. I like your death penalty illustration. I agree with you that morality is subjective and is relative to time, place, and culture. For example, honor killings are not necessarily considered immoral in some cultures, while in other cultures it is considered to be murder, which is both a crime and immoral. Thanks for participating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 30, 2018 at 7:50 am

      Thank you :O)
      Yes exactly, something that’s considered wrong somewhere will be right somewhere else – we haven’t a hope of coming up with universal laws let alone universal morality x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. November 30, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Thanks    for liking my post.

    FATE OF WOMEN – THE FOUR BROKEN MIRRORS (TALES)

    I appreciate that very much. Thanks again

    #PATRICKSTORIES
    Peace ✌and Love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. November 30, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Hi

    Thank you. I am happy to see your  writing. It gives me a thoughtful thinking and am  happy for that. That is always my intention to see a post that gives me happiness.

    Am happy  to share at least a part of that happiness and love here as am  writing now.

    What you said in your post  is true, sometimes just a drop of that magical post in your blog  is enough to get a person to be happy.

    Good one

    Well, If I wish to be happy is inevitable to keep the vibes flowing.

    Cheers,

    PATRICK

    #PATRICKSTORIES
    Peace ✌and Love ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • November 30, 2018 at 11:38 am

      Thank you for that Patrick, have a wonderful day 😊

      Like

      • November 30, 2018 at 1:33 pm

        Thank you! I appreciate your thoughtful response.

        Such an awesome way of replying someone. Thanks. Again
        As always your posts are incredible and I enjoying reading every word down till the last line. I must say that you are probably one of the excellent bloggers on WordPress that write inspired
        Writing/post

        Also, I just posted:

        THE FATE OF A WOMEN-THE FOUR BROKEN MIRRORS (TALES)

        Would love to know your views. Love to see your contributions on it. I’m always excited for your comment. 🙂

        You are welcome

        #PATRICKSTORIES
        Peace ✌and Love ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. blindzanygirl
    November 30, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Bloody hell Lisa. It’s too early in the morning. I’ll come back later! After me coffee lol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. November 30, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Absolutely! We each have our own definition of morality. But the word morality shouldn’t be taken the same as in sexuality.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. November 30, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Interesting post Lisa, theology deals with this a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. November 30, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Subjective morality is, by it’s nature, immoral. Some things, many things, are just wrong and one’s personal feelings on the matter don’t change that.

    Some examples:

    Rape (that’d be actual rape): I believe that pretty much everyone in the civilized world would say that it’s wrong, but there are some cultures that do not think so in many cases.

    Pedophilia: I believe that pretty much everyone in the civilized world would say that it’s wrong, but there are some cultures that do not think so in many cases.

    Slavery: We consider it heinously immoral now, but it was the normative standard across the world until the 19th century.

    Murder: Well, that is inherently subjective since murder is the illegal killing of someone, not just the killing of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 30, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Interesting comment thank you. I wonder what your thoughts are on objective morality?

      Like

      • November 30, 2018 at 4:03 pm

        Beyond finding objective morality to be the only actual morality, my thoughts on the topic are too long, complex, and contradictory to be useful…or short enough for a comment.

        Liked by 1 person

      • November 30, 2018 at 4:05 pm

        Fair enough 😊

        Like

  8. November 30, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    It’s is both. Depends upon facts and circumstances of each case😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. November 30, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    The older I get, the more concerned I become for the decline of moral standards of the world and the less inclined I become to worry about my own moral standards. I would dearly love to sort it all out by zapping the perpetrators of so many crimes, disgusting habits, annoying foibles, and stupid actions or comments. Watch out world!

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 30, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      Do you think moral standards have declined that much? I think they have in some areas but not all.
      You really want to get your hands on a zapper don’t you Peter 😉. Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • November 30, 2018 at 4:12 pm

        I’m in my shed, every day, working on it!

        Yes, I really do think standards have declined badly, and continue to do so, both morally, and socially.

        Liked by 1 person

      • November 30, 2018 at 5:36 pm

        I have visions of you wearing welding goggles and a manic grin 😉
        I wonder if it’s that or if we are just made more aware of what was always there these days? Stupid disruptive people now have ready made platforms for their nonsense and, with an audience, they are easily able to ‘influence’ those who have always been so inclined. Not sure but if I don’t read the papers, watch the news and stay off social media life doesn’t seem so bad 😉 xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • November 30, 2018 at 5:53 pm

        You are so right! We noticed a severe decline when we came back into the UK, many years ago now, after having lived in Germany for a long time. We moved to Dover and were rather taken aback at a young mother F’ing and blinding at her toddler, very loudly, in public, and by the general dirtiness of the streets and houses, plus the lack of respect for others and their property!

        Liked by 1 person

      • November 30, 2018 at 6:21 pm

        I know what you mean, I’m always a bit shocked when I go back to the UK but then again parts of London were like that 60 or 70 years ago, perhaps we’re just going backwards…

        Liked by 1 person

      • November 30, 2018 at 6:54 pm

        If you look at fashions, and the number of beards, I think you are right!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. December 1, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    This reminds me of my college philosophy class in the bible belt, when I brought up a good point: if something is immoral because god says it is, what about the times when god says stuff is immoral when she has PMS & a bad hair day?

    You could hear the heart attacks happening around the room🙄

    Liked by 1 person

  11. December 2, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Good points in your essay and the comments that follow. There is a difference between “thou shalt not” and “I shall not.” When I ate a vegetarian diet for health reasons, I spent too much time trying to explain the difference between my reason (my health) and true vegetarians and vegans (morality of killing animals for food/or at all). Interestingly, I think some people never could ‘get’ what I was saying: that I was vegetarian in practice, but not morally. I agree with your conclusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. December 2, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Our own personal ideas about what is right or wrong are tested every day in the arena of our lives. And that’s good enough for most of us. But once or twice we are called upon to make decisions that reflect our deepest convictions about what is right or wrong—and that’s when we need to refer to something greater than our own beliefs, which arise mostly from our experiences. It’s through the teaching and actions of great thinkers like Ghandi, that humanity inches forward in its ideas about right or wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. December 3, 2018 at 3:04 am

    Interesting post! I think it’s as someone above said- it depends on the moral whether it’s subjective or not.

    Liked by 1 person

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