Moral subjectivity and relativism

Morality presupposes two things which are subjective: a moral order and free-will. In a monist universe the only universal order is Nature, and Nature is not a moral order but a neutral physical order of change. The idea of a universal moral order is a human construction that serves as a practical guide for human conduct. Morality is a social phenomena that arises from the need of social union and coherence. Morality makes sense within society. Outside society morality doesn’t exist.

Free-will, like the idea of a moral order, is also subjective. In a natural world everything responds to Nature so autonomous and independent behaviour is not possible (see Free-will).

Morality is subject to cultural relativism. Different cultures have different moral codes and different ideas of what is right and what is wrong. These differences are often incompatible: what is considered to be right in one culture might be considered wrong in some other. Examples of these differences are countless, like: death penalty, polygamy, female genital mutilation, funeral rituals, etc.
Morality is also relative in time. What was considered to be right or socially acceptable in the past is often considered to be wrong in the present. For example, slavery was widely practised by all societies since civilisation began. In some societies it formed an integral part of their social structure (e.g. Sparta). In all cases it was an instrument of wealth, power and status. It is only in resent times that slavery is being rejected and condemned by most societies (serfdom was abolished in Russia in 1861 but only effectively ended after the Russian revolution of 1917, and slavery in geisha houses was practiced in Japan until the end of second world war in 1945).
Cultural and temporal relativism are real and evident, but they are not a sufficient condition for the inexistence of a universal and eternal moral order in the world.  To believe in subjective and relative moral orders, doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be a universal one. Monism on the other hand, is a sufficient condition. In a monist universe the only universal order is Nature, and Nature is physical, not moral. Moral relativism is just a consequence of our existence in a natural world.

Moral development


%d bloggers like this: