In Defense of Moral Universalism
The concept of morals and the notions behind right and wrong have long remained at the center of philosophical discourse. However, there is only one notion of thought acceptable to conclude and that would be moral objectivism or moral universalism. I am convinced that the rise of the juxtaposing school of thought, otherwise known as moral relativism is at fault for the current dismal state of affairs that western society resides in currently. What people fail to realize is that first, there is no basis to criticize morality, secondly without an ultimate code of ethics society will fail and lastly the creation of new values is impossible.
People have attacked the very foundations of morals and belief since the dawn of time, ranging from Nietczhe to Freud however, all of them, including modern skeptics of moral universalism are unable to grasp the fact that outside this basis of morality there is no room to criticize it. Often times when debating the subject people are asked to keep their mind open about all possibilities however, here is where the problem lies. Having an open mind about arbitrary and not ultimate questions can be useful but when we are discussing matters of absolutes the idea of keeping an open mind is pointless. The reason for this is the fact that our own morality cannot be criticized from an outside point of view, we are entirely incapable of it. Granted there can be legitimate internal criticism but we can never criticize from an external view point. Our morality drives our reason and for that reason our own beliefs, or our own morals get in the way of thoroughly discussing the topic. Think of it in the sense, that if you are trying to criticize morality that’s fine, but if you yourself do not hold to the morals you are criticizing then you are simply promoting your own morals in the sense of the lack of them. This of course only counters the idea of the absolute abandon of our modern morality. With that said some people will say “let us disregard all ideas of what we ought to do and focus on what is psychologically necessary to survive. This, unlike the former is a very possible position and those who believe it cannot be held to contradiction like the other can. This topic will be addressed later however, the belief “real” values by debunking the traditional ones neglects to understand the idea of what a value is in the first place.
In the words of C.S. Lewis “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.” By removing traditional, conscious values from society we run the risk of ultimately ruining it. What has happened recently is as the ideology of moral relativism has creeped into classrooms and impressionable minds the effects of it have manifested onto society. These dogmas have now sunk into every part of our culture, including our literature and music. In the modern classroom, you are more likely to hear an English teacher say that the meaning behind a book, or an allegory is what you interpreted out of it. These are absurd statements, since if the readers definition differs from the authors it cannot be that both of them are true. We have perpetuated these ideologies though and it is now reflected in a greater sense that many individuals of my generation feel as if it is impossible to be wrong, merely that their interpretation differs on subject matters.
This belief has led to a generation of students who are coddled and refuse to challenge themselves, to better their beliefs and ideologies. As quoted earlier by Lewis we have removed the organ, the idea of truth and yet somehow still demand that our youth be truthful. We have begun to make men without chests and expect them to act for what is noble and right. This is why our society is surely doomed if we allow these myths to continue, they are harmful to our culture and our country combined, for this reason the must be refuted and rejected vigilantly.
Ultimately, there is another camp on the relativist side of the scale that decries traditional values and wants to bring about an era of new modern values. I am convinced that traditional values, or natural law, or natural reason whatever one may call it is not one in a set of possible dogmas but rather the only one possible. If one value from within it is considered to be rejected than the entirety of it must follow the same conclusion, in the same respect that if one value is to kept the entirety of it must be kept also. Take for instance the basic value of justice, if justice is truly a superstition then so is my duty to my country. If my belief in a traditional family is superstition then so much be the belief of moral obligation to the family. This problem taken to its furthest conclusions devoids us of all morals and therefore it is impossible to pick and choose ones which are most beneficial to society. To quote Lewis again “The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.” Allow me to be clear, what I am not stating is that there are no contradictions in morals between say that of the East and the West however, alterations must be made from the inside of these moral attitudes, they cannot simply be removed and destroyed from the outside for the sake of betterment of natural law. We must remember the fact that there is a real difference between innovation and actual moral advance. The latter is impossible, throughout the length of history it has been man acting upon our current morals that make the world a better place, not morals working on man to improve society.
This debate is not new, and it has raged on for centuries and more than likely will continue to do so. What worries me is the explosion of the belief in todays students and other youth without them realizing it. We have been conditioned to believe that our actions and beliefs are relative without question. We cannot allow this to continue for the reasons that there is no basis to criticize ultimate morality, without universalism society will fail and lastly that the new morals presented are just prostituted alterations of the old one. My personal conclusion is that the dogma of moral relativism is ultimately harmful and must be thrown out with other false doctrines of todays age.