In a recent interview for the BBC2 series Inside Obama's White House," President Obama sounded somewhat wistful as he spoke to an interviewer about how he has tried to use his voice "to move things toward a more ethical and moral outcome."
The question of morals and ethics has been debated since the dawn of humanity. It won't be settled by the shifting winds of politics, because not everyone can agree on what is moral and what is not.
Dictionary.com defines morality: "Conformity to the rules of right conduct."
Ah, but here's the rub. That definition fits a different era. Morality today is personal. It is not a standard to which one is encouraged to conform for one's own, or society's benefit. Rather, it is about what makes one feel good. By this non-standard standard, one can easily change one's sense of what is moral as they might a suit of clothes or a pair of shoes and suffer no societal condemnation because that "moral code," such as it is, exists only for the individual.
When President Obama speaks of ethics and morality, the follow-up question should be, "Whose ethics and whose morality? Who, or what, established that standard?"
To take one example, if you say there is no God and then turn around and tell me I should not be a racist, or that I should help someone in need, and I say, "why should I?" how do you respond? If we are all evolutionary accidents, why can't I believe and practice anything I wish...
President Obama may be the most pro-abortion president America has ever had. He has done little to reduce their number, which near 60 million in the U.S. since 1973. By what standard is his position "moral"? The president used to be against same-sex marriage, now he's for it. Was he moral when he opposed it, or is he moral now that he supports it? And what is his standard, because these positions are contradictory?
Thursday, April 07, 2016
Where Does Morality Come From?
Even divorced from the politics, this philosophical discussion--if not taken too far-- can be interesting: