A defence of moral subjectivism
In Pakistan fourteen year old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the face for wanting to go to school.
The Taliban’s spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said that if she survives the Taliban will have another go at killing her because she is a “secular minded lady” and is pro the west.
“Any female that, by any means, plays a role in the war against mujahideen should be killed,” Reuters quotes Ehsan as saying.
That really tells you everything you need to know about the kinds of people who go on about western imperialism.
That, however, is not my topic. My topic is moral objectivism, because to me this is a matter where the answer is obviously that the Taliban is morally monstrous, but to the Taliban they believe they are not only morally correct, but objectively morally correct, to do this.
They believe that their God gives them not only the right to do this, but a duty to do it, and they will not change because they believe that there is such a thing as moral objectivity.
The same moral objectivity has reared its head in the USA, with the supremely aptly named Charles Fuque writing a book called God’s Law. In it he says children who disrespect their parents should be killed.
“The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents,” the Arksansas times quotes from his book.
He quotes Deuteronomy as guidelines for how the death penalty should be administered for the dire crime of childhood cheek. This tells you everything you need to know about family values.
He believes it is morally, objectively good to kill children for backchatting their parents, much as William Lane Craig defended the genocide of the Canaanites as a moral good.
That is the central problem with moral objectivism in all too many instances – while the subjectivist can’t really say “X is morally good or morally bad”, generally objectivists are the ones that are doing the things the rest of us think of as being morally monstrous.
You need to either be a psychopath or believe yourself to be morally absolutely objectively right to perform some actions and subjectivism does not, for all its wrongs, allow such certainty.
And that at the moment the people saying these things, the people doing these things may belong to different religions or cultures doesn't really make a difference because the thing is that they are humans just like you and me, and this is what humans are capable of when they think they are objectively morally correct.