I tend to believe that morality isn't all subjective. Society objectifies morality and keep a distinction between good and bad.

So even if a person felt (subjective) what he was doing was right, that wouldn't, by societal standards(objective), be considered right.

Say, beauty is subjective. I agree. But when it comes to overall preference a certain is most preferred over the other. What is most considered beautiful. Doesn't this imply an objective nature behind subjective cases. A reasonable norm.

  • Hello and welcome to Philosophy SE. Please take time to read through the Help section, and in particular the pages on what are good questions and what kind of posts should be avoided. This post of yours is not really a question, since you begin it with "I tend to believe that morality isn't all subjective". This is specifically a kind of post that is not suitable for the Q&A style of Philosophy SE. Voting To Close for that reason. – MichaelK Jun 11 '18 at 6:52
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    How about helping @Hittfler reformulate his question rather than appealing to blatant deletionism (i.e. censorship), @MichaelK? – André Levy Jun 11 '18 at 10:34
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    @AndréLevy Censorship is an act by the government, demanding pre-screening of a message/expression before it is made available to the public. This is not a government operated site; it is a privately operated site that has a code of conduct that we — as we signed up for it — agreed to follow. Also this is not an action taken pre-emptively but after the fact that the post does not follow the code of conduct. And lastly: you are more than welcome to tell Hittfler about how this post can be improved to fit the rules of this site. Go right ahead, I am sure they will be delighted to hear. :) – MichaelK Jun 11 '18 at 10:39
  • I already did, @MichaelK, in my answer below. And you're wrong about censorship: "Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or "inconvenient" as determined by government authorities or by community consensus. Governments and private organizations may engage in censorship." (Wikipedia) – André Levy Jun 11 '18 at 10:55
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    Sorry if the question violated the rules around these parts, but I don't see how I've violated the rules. [I tend to believe that morality isn't all subjective] is a statement of my belief. The question isn't subjective but does relate to it. If my belief is the right one. And, Someone answered the question perfectly (as far as I'm concerned) despite the question being inappropriate in nature. – Hittfler Jun 11 '18 at 15:10

So even if a person felt (subjective) what he was doing was right, that wouldn't, by societal standards(objective), be considered right.

That's not what those terms — subjective and objective — mean. Subjective does not necessarily mean related to feeling; it simply means that it varies from person to person (subiectum is Latin for the agent in a sentence). To say that a morality is subjective is to say that it varies from person to person, that it cannot be referred to without reference to an individual (or set of individuals). It means to say that there is no morality outside of the individual (or set of individuals). Thus, societal standards are also subjective.

To say that something is objective, on the other hand, means that it doesn't depend on any observers to exist; only the object. If we say that gravity, for instance, is objective, then we mean that it would continue to exist even after all persons were extinct, as it existed before the first person was ever born. To say that morality is objective is to say that it exists independent of there being persons in the universe (I keep using 'persons', rather than 'people', to emphasise the requirement of agency). Those who believe morality is objective do not believe true morality is constituted by societal standards, but rather by non-human standards, be they natural or divine. Theists believe morality is as eternal as God Itself, as God and morality are, in a sense, indistinguishable, and have existed before God created people. Atheists who believe in objective morality, on the other hand, believe that morality has a material existence, is innate to human beings (along with not so moral drives and instincts), which have been naturally selected by evolution.

In spite of the apparent contradiction, though, objective and subjective morality are not really mutually exclusive. To say that morality is subjective, that it varies from person to person, does not preclude it from existing objectively in each person. So, atheist moral objectivists may be right in saying that our morality is hardwired in us — and even softwired in neurological synapses in our brain — but that doesn't mean it's not subjective. It may still be as subjective as knowledge and temperament.

The resolution — or rather dissolution — of this apparent contradiction is akin to what Kant did in epistemology, in resolving the apparent contradiction at the time between rationalists and empiricists (and that's as much as I'm going to say about that here).

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    +1. Nice answer. – Geoffrey Thomas Jun 11 '18 at 8:14
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    Nice answer! But this leaves me with a question: if morality is determined a divine being, wouldn't that then also make it subjective, since it then also refers to a being? – Bram28 Jun 12 '18 at 2:32
  • Only if you regard that divine being as a person, @Bram28, which is typically not the case in monotheistic religions. These make a clear separation between God, as the standard of morality, and humans, as fallible, and therefore free to be moral or immoral (see, God cannot be immoral, for It is morality itself). In that sense, God is not a person, literally not a subject (as being a person is being subject to God). – André Levy Jun 12 '18 at 4:09
  • Polytheistic religions (and mythologies) are sort of a hybrid case, in which gods represent, not a standard of morality, but rather human passions and archetypes. But there too, gods are not persons, as they have no agency between being moral or immoral, but rather only act to fulfil their archetypical character. – André Levy Jun 12 '18 at 4:09
  • @AndréLevy ... first, i like your answer. second, i have to ask about your meaning for "objective". i the the author of the question is using a perfectly good sense of it in saying that objectivity and the sort of objectiveness (ie mind-independence) you define here are not the same thing. we can't conflate objective to mind-independence. clearly we have a use of the term "objective opinion", and especially in the philosophical use of the term "perfectly rational person" as the measure of objectivity. – Steven Hoyt Jun 12 '18 at 13:58

What is true to one is false to another (Shobogenzo by Dogen).

Given that moralit(ies) among various cultures and civilizations were and are different, they are subject to the in-groups concerned and no one else.

Regulating morality is a completely different issue, and is a sign of arrogance - in fact most good laws are found by observing excesses and moderating them in the long run so that a collective good may be reached.

It is a strictly Western concept that morality is universal, and it concerns precisely the ideas that Western Christiian civilization developed.

If I prefer to be moral in a pagan Roman way, and that morality is defined by ethos and virtues that were most important in this civilizational context it is different from morality of the Christians, and different from morality of Hindis or Jews and Arabs.

In fact, morality is both subjective, and inter-subjective, it is construed by broader cultural context. Would you claim that 'morality' of the Head-Hunters of Sarawak was deficient? Or that such concepts did not apply to cannibals? We could apply reverse-conceptualization but it would be pointless at most.

Anthropologically speaking, morality is developed from "clean and unclean" that developed into "allowed and taboo".

There is another issue which are claims to metaphysics that concerns theology, but according to Iamblich and other ancient writers all theology is made by human beings to approximate the Divine worlds.

There was never a codex of morality given in this sense by some Providence, unless you are a believe in one of the 'revealed' religions, that is contestable on reasonable grounds.

What follows is that you can be moral on your moral grounds and you can't demand it of someone else.

Societal standards are not objective, they are constructed (sociology of knowledge, and constructivism school), thus they are inter-subjectively negotiated over time and space and contain invisible 'contracts' of what is allowed and what is not, codified by law as attempting to stabilize collective and individual cases of experiences.

Beauty is a case of aesthetics and the frames of reference changed for it over time too. Although, as a neo-platonist I believe in a transcendent idea of Beauty, I may not quarrel over the aesthetical sensitivities of others.

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Morality is subjective and objective.

The two basis of morality is sentiment and reason. That people generally feel the same, given common experience, and that people reason in the same way though the quality of reasoning may differ, creates conditions where moral agreements are possible. That some have commandeered the word "objective" (say many Christian apologists; Craig, for instance) and conflated it to "mind-independence" doesn't entail that objectivity hinges only on the existence of gods, rather than goals.

That we can completely and arbitrarily set a goal absolutely begins to make the case those like Craig desire, but it defeats their further premises and conclusions. That is, moral judgment is at steak and "Why do we or should we have this particular goal?" isn't the same question as "Does this behavior help or hinder obtaining this particular goal?" The latter doesn't entail standards at all! The former does, but defeating its importance is by acknowledging moral judgment is required to do so, and that basis is always human rather than divine; judgment is predicate and has primacy. "Do we like our moral goals?" is the functionally equivalent question to whether or not we should have the goals we have; not whether or not there are gods that like them. How would we know they do or don't objectively and why would entirely subjective goals prevent us from objective moral judgments? (That's perhaps an aside; as morality is a social engagement and hence its goals defined by a group, we have objectivity in response to both questions either way)

The subjective/objective distinction is largely irrelevant. We in fact have group-relative goals and that anyone should suggest, free from the mandates of deity. We can give up entirely on trying to suss out why some goal exists in order to simply conclude, or rather judge, that some activities are more amenable to obtaining some given, well-defined goal than others. Whether human morality entails dependent or contingent origins for its goals, we in practice only care about our ability to judge behaviors objectively; and at least in theory if nothing else, we can and do.

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