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Human Morality: Is it Universal or Subjective?

By Edited Feb 21, 2014 0 0
10 Commandments
Credit: http://blogsensebybarb.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/morality2b.jpg

Morality, the personal struggle between right and wrong, ongoing for an individual's entire life. Morals are a person's guidelines to life, but these guidelines can be influenced by many different sources, such as culture, parents or other family, friends, influential leaders, religion, past experiences, and many other variables. Although there are several elements that can influence a person's morals, in the end it is for the individual to decide what action must be taken when faced with unique situations.

Religion

One great example of moral influence is the Bible, or more directly God, the Christian's version of an ideal Good. A full-hearted Christian is going to base his or her morals completely off the Bible, which is God's way of directing his followers on the righteous path. For most religions, the individual follower really has no say when considering his or her morals when they are consistent with the belief. In the minds of these devotees, these morals of theirs are universal. If, for example, the Bible is complete, one-hundred percent truth, then no matter what another's beliefs are, the morals of every living person should still be the same. Hypothetically, let's say that Alison is a Christian and Brandon is an atheist. Alison's set of morals comes from the Bible, while Brandon's morals have been influenced mostly by his culture, upbringing, and maybe life experiences. Because, in Alison's mind, the Bible is truth for everyone, she believes that Brandon should also follow the morals of the Bible. This is generally a big problem when considering controversial topics, such as abortion and gay marriage. One who follows the Bible will be against both topics and the teachings of the Bible will always be the core argument used for that side; those on the other side of the argument who may not follow the Bible will base their ideas of the controversies on anything except for the Bible.

So are any morals truly universal? To the believers of each religion, their morals are typically universal. These guidelines set up in their religions are the guidelines that every person should be following. Outside of religion, many people would still answer the question with "yes." Someone may look at murder and consider that there is an instinct feeling of guilt if it was to be committed, or such that it is instinct not to hurt another innocent being. But instinct is not equivalent to morality. Someone may justify his or her committed murder before or after it happens whether it be self-defense or for a "greater cause," or whatever else.

Culture

Another aspect that must be considered is culture. It is true that most civilized cultures today have comparable laws probably based on similar historical values. But there are still several small cultures that are isolated and uncivilized today - cultures that have been discovered to practice habitual murder and cannibalism. The members of these cultures base their morals solely on their upbringing because they know absolutely nothing else. It is the norm to kill and eat other humans. But does that make them bad people? Dangerous, and maybe even savage in the minds of those in more civilized cultures, but not bad, because it is how they have grown to be in their culture.

Upbringing

After dissecting culture a bit, it is shown that upbringing plays an incredible influence on morality. It is true that both culture and religion influence how parents may raise their children, but each individual household is unique and ultimately plays the largest influence. Morality in a human stems from the second they are brought into the world. Everything the parents do with the child matters. If a single mother habitually yells at her baby boy every time he will not stop crying, that boy is more inclined to have anger issues later in life, especially if the mother's reaction continues. If the boy grows up having a mom with multiple boyfriends who constantly sleep over throughout his childhood, he is more prone to consider sex less meaningful as an adult.

Although there are several elements that play influential roles, a person's morality is constantly changing throughout his or her life based on life experiences and new beliefs. Religion, culture, and upbringing no doubt have large impacts on shaping people, but each person's mind is unique and morals are ultimately decided through simple thinking. Along with the case of isolated cultures, this completes the theory that no morals are universal. Not every person in the world is born with the same exact instincts, and instincts never stop changing.

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