There are many instances in history where acts that might seem immoral were committed by moral individuals, thus redefining them as moral obligations to a higher cause. These incidents are specifically defined by the person who committed them over the nature of the actions themselves. Darwall suggests that is possible that there are a universally accepted set of moral laws through which a person is then obligated to respond (1). However, the problem with the simplicity of this assertion is that the morals and ethics of a culture will change the defining characteristics of a person. One who lived in ancient Rome, for instance, will have different point of view on the value of all human life than will someone who lives in contemporary society. Morality and ethics are relative to place and time, despite the idea that they are defined by a general human experience. As an example, Thomas Jefferson owned 200 slaves at one point thinking they were a valuable investment (Douglas 61). In our current time period it is considered morally reprehensible to consider owning another human being. However, despite this fact, Thomas Jefferson is seen in history as a moral man. This in no way negates the validity of the theory. It does, however, change the way in which the theory can be approached when examining the considerations that are relevant to the theory. In the example of Thomas Jefferson, he once declared in court while representing a young African American man who was seeking his freedom that “Under the law of nature, all men are born free, and every one comes into the world with the right to his own person, which includes the liberty moving it and using it as his own will” (Douglas 61). Despite his beliefs, he owned slaves. According to Douglas many of the young revolutionaries of the time both believed in the innate freedom of all men and participated in owning slaves (61).
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