Shower thoughts on inconsistencies of morality
Morality is an interesting concept when you really dive deep into it. In recent months I’ve gotten interested in philosophy. There are some very interesting conversations about morality that can get brought up.
The basic tenant of morality is to avoid doing harm to another. Whether it’s physical, mental, monetary, etcetera, the average person tries to follow that one rule. We have the “Golden Rule” that states “do unto others as you would have done onto you.” It seems almost every culture has that type of rule.
However, morality seems to have its limits. It seems a lot of the time to conflict with our survival instincts. Take for example someone who is desperate due to financial troubles. Some may resort to thieving or sometimes violence. Their survival is at stake, so they must do whatever they can. But that doesn’t happen with them alone.
You get executives who will mistreat their employees if it means obtaining a profit, or ignore their own science, like in the case of Exxon, and continue their practices and actively try to hide their own findings. Cigarette companies exist even though they know full well that their product causes cancer. They even tried to fight against it decades ago.
The average person may also make an immoral decision to either get ahead or avoid harm themselves. It’s a concept almost everyone is unified behind, and yet, dare I say it, everyone is willing to ignore at some point for several reasons.
So why do we ignore morality when it suits us? Is morality merely a human concept or is it shared among all, or most of the animal kingdom?
This is of course all opinion based on no real evidence. So, take what I say with a grain of salt. It’s more of a thought exercise than anything.
If we look at the animal kingdom, we see a lot of species who do what they can to not hurt one another. This is morality, whether it’s a conscious choice or not is unknown. This is where I think morality is built into our survival instincts. We, as a species, learned that working together is much better than working apart. Our chance of survival is significantly increased. Several other animal species do this as well. Mice and rats work together to build nests and gather food. Apes work together, which makes sense since we are relatives, evolutionarily speaking. There are even animals from different species who work together.
So, is this where we got our morality from? We understand that if we hurt one another, we are less likely to survive individually. However, it’s still only at a personal level, which explains why we are only moral when it doesn’t hurt us.
There was a question that I heard that was meant to make you really think about morality. “If you see someone who needs help, and you can help them with little cost to you, are you morally obligated to help them?”
A person would look at that question and the first instinct would be “yes”. But think about that. The moral route would be to help them, that’s not being questioned. But having the obligation to help, is that moral? You’re now having your freedom to act as you wish taken away, which is not moral.
Let’s look at an example I heard from a Youtuber by the name of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/CosmicSkeptic">CosmicSkeptic</a> who discusses a lot about philosophy. You have a bomb that is hidden, and it will kill 1,000 people if you don’t stop it. You have someone who knows where it is but refuses to talk. We all know it’s not moral to let 1,000 people die if you can stop it. But what about that one person. What if they weren’t the one that planted it? Or maybe they were, that part doesn’t matter much. You are detaining, removing their right to live their life. Is taking away a right immoral? What if you have to torture them? You’re causing harm, it’s now immoral. Regardless of what that person does, you are taking away their rights and harming them.
Here’s what I believe. Morality is black and white. It’s either moral or immoral, or it has nothing to do with morality period. Yes, if you say something is immoral, you have to be consistent with that definition. Killing is immoral. Killing a killer is thus immoral. The reason doesn’t matter.
I’m immoral for eating meat from an animal that was killed, and though I would prefer that animal have a comfortable life, I’m not necessarily willing to give up meat. I enjoy it too much. When lab grown meat comes available at an affordable price, I’ll switch. Until then, I’m ok with being immoral in that regard. Outside of that, I try not to do harm to others as much as I can, and that stance has caused harm to myself many times. So, does that still make those actions immoral because I’m being harmed? Or because I’m doing with the understanding and consent, it’s no longer immoral?
The world is a lot of gray. I don’t believe a species can survive acting 100% moral. I don’t even believe it’s possible. You decide not to eat meat, so you eat vegetables. Plants are living things, and you’re deciding to kill them. Is that immoral? By definition, yes.
It’s impossible for the government to act morally. Taxation is, by definition, theft, and yet it’s required for a society to exist. So not having taxes can be seen as immoral especially if it helps its citizens, like feed them, or providing healthcare. Then you’re ignoring those who need help when you’re capable of helping.
Morality is a very complicated subject and it’s a concept we can’t always follow, but we definitely try our best to do so.
About the author
My primary genres are fantasy and sci-fi. I love coming up with new worlds and new things within that make it interesting. My stories tend to be more character driven as I find how the brain works fascinating.