Moral objectivism means that something that is not moral ought to change to something morally absolute or constant.

Moral subjectivism means that moral ideas are relative. They can change over time.

Are human moralities morally objective or morally subjective. Or are they morally skeptical (always asking critical questions)?

According to what I perceive, the moral compass is static, defined by religion.

But the judicial system defines morality differently.

So my question is: how about in general? Is moral conscience static?

  • Welcome to Phil.SE :-) You seem to present two (or three) stances on morality and ask for a definitive objective conclusion between them. That's not normally how philosophy works. In the moral-debate context, it is often used to maintain and debate opposing positions and bring fruitful conclusions from it. A sort of ever-growing discussion, rather than a complete and finished discussion. Check out an elaborated answer here. Aug 6, 2018 at 15:51
  • I made some edits. I hope I kept your intent. You are welcome to roll this back or continue editing. Aug 6, 2018 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


Definitely malleable

You say...

According to what I perceive, the moral compass is static, defined by religion.

This is trivially provable as false, by counter-example.

From Christianity and Judaism, you have plenty of moral laws in for instance Leviticus that are clearly not compatible with modern justice.

  • Stoning for adultery
  • A ban on tattoos
  • Stoning your children if they are disrespectful
  • Condoning slavery and perpetual indentured servitude
  • Persecution and extermination of entire tribes/peoples... i.e. genocide/ethnic cleansing.

You had the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that were blatantly racist. This stance was later rescinded in the 1950s.

You have the Catholic church that repeatedly have backpedaled on moral issues. One of the most damning ones perhaps being to collectively condemn the Jewish people for the crime of deicide; for killing Christ. This was rescinded in 1964.

Several religions have considered holy war — to spread the faith by conquest — to be morally justifiable. This has now changed and is not considered a justifiable position, at least among the more established and authoritative factions.

Judaism considered circumcision by mohel to be the way to embrace an infant into the covenant. When it became obvious that the procedure — cutting the foreskin and then having the mohel use his mouth to suck at the infant's penis and remove the foreskin that way — was both utterly distasteful and also dangerous to the infant, the practice was abandoned.

There are many more examples of this. I can wholly recommend Christopher Hitchens's book "God Is Not Great" for more.

Hence your premise that religion presents a static moral foundation is wrong. First the religions differ among them; most being mutually exclusive on some points. And then religions change their stances when forced to it by humanistic values gaining traction among the populace.

  • Well, this not wholly true, for example for Middle East.
    – rus9384
    Aug 6, 2018 at 20:29
  • Your premise of a static modern justice is also wrong, and putting the word "clearly" in bold does not make it any less wrong. Nov 21, 2018 at 1:45
  • @CarlMasens I did not say that modern justice is static. And are you seriously trying to argue that the concept of stoning children for being disobedient is not "clearly" incompatible with modern justice? If so I think you are engaging in unjustified malicious voting/commenting.
    – MichaelK
    Nov 22, 2018 at 8:51
  • Hold the snarkiness and accusations; we all understand how demotivating it must be for one's argument to topple like a late-game Jenga tower. So what are you saying in your answer? That modern justice is static (which is wrong)? Or that modern justice is not static (so no concete statements such as yours can be made about them)? In both cases this answer is ill-founded. Nov 24, 2018 at 15:34

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