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Moral Theory - Essay Example

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Moral Theory

Many people use this elusive quality of morality to justify even them most deviant behavior and overlook the gravest transgressions of right and wrong. However, each individual has a morality that is absolute. While we must accept that morality is absolute, it is also our responsibility to recognize that it is also absolute for other people and respect their right to alternative value systems.
Examining our most fundamental cultural group, the family, we can readily identify inconsistencies in moral judgments. The dominant religion in the United States, Christianity, has a commandment that dictates 'Thou shalt not kill'. Most people, and certainly within a Christian family, hold that morality in high esteem. Yet, almost everyone has a basis on which they would violate that commandment and be able to justify their actions. Morality is necessarily based upon the social setting. As Dr. Stephen Sullivan, Professor of Philosophy at Edinboro University, states, "...there is more than one correct morality" and "no moral values correctly apply to everyone" (qtd. in Gillespie, 1). An unwanted intruder that was threatening their family could be killed and justified as self-defense. Some members of the family may have a moral objection to serving in the military while others would feel a duty to kill the enemy combatants. The morality of the commandment has taken on the meaning that each individual ascribes to it. The scenarios that killing would be allowed will vary with each individual within a family. When this is transcribed to larger cultural groups, morality becomes as individual and elusive as a snowflake in a snowstorm.
That morality is individual places an even greater emphasis on its lack of, and importance of, relativism. Each individual has their own morality that does not waver. If an individual believes that abortion is wrong here and today, they will also believe that it is wrong in any other culture at any other time. Individual moral judgments are not modified to accommodate another person's differences or cultural surroundings. In this sense, morality is absolute, but only for the individual. It would be unethical to espouse a given stance on abortion to one person and then give a conflicting argument to another person for the convenience of agreement with that individual. The morality of the individual may evolve over time as the person learns and grows, but it should not shift continuously to make the person more likable or popular. We too often see this ethical weakness in politicians attempting to curry votes by pandering to public sentiment without any regards to their moral stand. Individuals have a duty to own up to their own moral absolutism.
Recognizing that we each have a moral absolute and a duty to live by it also engenders the notion that we must accept that others also have their own moral code. The issue becomes the tolerance of other moral judgments that may differ from our own. In the world of globalization and diverse cultural communication it becomes even more imperative that we tolerate other moralities that may lie outside our own narrow acceptance. Morality is not an issue of 'we are right and they are ...Show more

Summary

In the United States the innocent kiss in the park by a young couple is looked upon as a cute display of endearment. Yet in India the practice is frowned on and can result in severe social sanctions. Prostitutes can openly display their wares and market their vocation in the Netherlands, but in the United States that same activity could result in a prison term…
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