ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Objectively Subjective

Moral ideologies create unprecedentedly subjective debates.

Madison McBride

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The concept of good and bad plagues every choice made in society. Most people strive to be the best version of themselves by making choices that adhere to their moral compasses and refusing opportunities that don’t. There are specific conditions and parameters that decisions have to fit before it passes through the mind of the person deciding.

There is an obligation in society to be good, but there isn’t one singular set of morals that everyone abides by in their life. People are expected to avoid bad things without unanimously agreeing to what is actually bad. The inconsistencies in morals can cause many decisions to be seen as bad regardless of their ability to be validated by the chooser’s morals. Even when people do what they think is good, their actions can be viewed by others as exactly the opposite.

“Everyone grows up with different families and cultural backgrounds,” junior Benjamin Wilson said. “So everyone’s moral backgrounds are different.”

Every individual has unique experiences that form their personalities. People grow up being expected to abide by different sets of moral codes and learn to view the world through different lenses. There are some standards that are majorly accepted; don’t kill people, don’t lie, don’t steal, etc. However, even those aren’t completely unanimous across individuals. Not everyone’s moral decisions are agreed on completely.

It’s been a long accepted fact that moral subjectivity exists. Most people understand that different perspectives result in different morals, but the actual application of this idea is where conflicts arise. The ability to objectively view subjective morality can be incredibly difficult.

“I try to be as unbiased as possible,” senior Ashutosh Atre said. “But even logic can change depending on your perspective. Numbers are the most reliable thing.”

There are few arguments that don’t have moral implications to them, when the arguers disagree morally their ability to discuss is compromised. Logic is driven by morals, facts are subjected to individual morals and even the structure of the debate itself differs depending on the perspective of the person forming it.

Inconsistency of morals between people isn’t the only issue that arises from subjectivity; morals can be bent depending on the context of the situation. Mostly everyone has hard “no’s,” things that they would never do because they’re distinctly wrong in the person’s eyes. However, when people’s fundamental morals are put under pressure, even their boundaries can become morally flexible.

“I’ve made some decisions that I regret,” Wilson said. “I do what I think is best but it doesn’t always reflect what I know is right and wrong.”

Morals are ideals, not facts. Deciding what the good thing to do in a situation without actually having to make the choice can be easy, but situations look different from the inside. Every decision and the people involved in them are different. People can make predetermined moral decisions but change their stance completely when they’re expected to actually make the choice.

In Chuck Kloserman’s series of essays “I Wear the Black Hat,” he discusses why context changes morals. His essays revolve around specific situations ranging from George Bush’s infidelity to tying women to train tracks. These different situations and the people who find themselves in them end up having an impact on the way the outcomes are viewed. Klosterman admits that oftentimes people do bad things, from the eyes of others, because they think that they’re doing what’s right. These ambiguous situations, as Klosterman discusses, oftentimes result in public outrage.

“This is what happens whenever the things we feel and the things we know refuse to align in the way we’re conditioned to pretend,” Klosterman said.

Even the most morally sound people can do things that they view as bad when put under enough pressure. Stressful situations change what people are willing to do. Because of the discrepancies in contextual morality, judging people’s choices from the outside is tricky.

There isn’t one good way to react to a situation because there aren’t identical situations. Differences in situations make ideas of good and bad harder to establish. People abide by their ideals the best they can, but judgement is swayed based on the climate of their situation.

Morals and the inability to stay consistent throughout all situations makes agreements between individuals and cultural groups strained. Many people cast judgement on others based entirely on their own morals. Intentionally or not, people expect others to abide by their morals instead of having a differing opinion.

“By going into an argument deciding that you want to change the other person’s mind, you decide that your mind won’t be changed,” Atre said.

Most people won’t admit that their ideals are wrong because no person’s ideals can be considered wrong in their own eyes. Conflicts over morals are common in society. Acknowledging that differing morals causes a problem doesn’t instantly solve the problem. The battle to be good is a battle fought by mostly everyone; people tend to strive towards personal excellence. Regardless of the severity of the situation, there are always moral implications behind the choices a person makes. As a result of these differences, in most situations, the best resolution to moral conflicts is agreeing to disagree. Debating, compromising and even maintaining everyday relationships is made harder because of people’s uncompromising moral beliefs as they can only take a person so far. There tends to be a grey area in the spectrum of morality that makes it far more subjective than most people view their own ideologies. Therefore making morals fundamentally subjective.